TIRAMISU

IMG_5073I found this pretty shell at an estate sale.  Like rock collections, I often see shells and coral at estate sales.  The first thing I am naturally inclined to do when I come across a shell like this, is pick it up and listen for the ocean.

IMG_5072

This week, however, I don’t hear the sound of the ocean when I listen — I hear the sound of people screaming about sharks in the vicinity.  That’s right — it’s Shark Week, right on the heels of Sharknado 2.  Although Shark Week has been featured since 1988, I only learned about it a few years ago.  I was sitting (i.e., propped up trying to stay awake) in a “Women’s Initiative” meeting at my prior law firm, and we were planning a luncheon, when someone piped up that our proposed date fell during Shark Week.  Huh?  Well, it turns out that Shark Week was much more interesting than anything we were discussing at the Women’s Initiative meeting, the initiative apparently being to bore each other to death.  In fact, my friend and I used to sit there emailing each other during the meetings, things like “Do you want to phone in a bomb scare or should I?”

Shark Week is an annual week-long feature on the Discovery Channel, showcasing shark-based programming, and usually runs in July or August.  According to Wikipedia, it is the “longest-running cable television programming event in history,” and is broadcast in more than 70 countries.

Here’s a shark fact for you — Do you know why sharks won’t attack lawyers? Professional courtesy.

lawyershark

Thinking of getting one of these for my shingle

So what to serve for Shark Week?  Well, the interwebs is full of cute ideas for shark cupcakes, like these:

shark cupcake 1

SugarLandCupcakes.com

Shark cupcakes 2

 mimicafeunion at etsy.com

Shark cupcake 3

ninerbakes.com

shark cupcakes 4

 The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, found at iheartnaptime.com

Or how about a shark watermelon?

Shark watermelon

 National Watermelon Promotion Board

As for me, inspired by my pretty shell and the close relationship between sharks and lawyers, I’m serving the favorite dessert of lawyers — Tira-me-sue!  Not funny?  So sue me!  This recipe is adapted from one from Gourmet magazine (sniff).  Although the recipe is pretty easy to put together, it is a little time-consuming.  Based on the comments to the recipe, I made it in an 8×8-inch pan, and had a little left over which was just right for an individual portion for a baby shark.  I added a chocolate shark fin, just for Shark Week.  :)

TIRAMISU
Print
Recipe type: Desserts
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups freshly-brewed espresso (or 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 cups boiling water)
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided use
  • 3 tablespoons Kahlua or Tia Maria (coffee liqueur)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup dry Marsala
  • 1 pound mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 24 crisp ladyfingers (also known as savoiardi)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  • Dark chocolate, for grating over tiramisu (optional)
Instructions
  1. Stir together espresso, 1 tablespoon sugar, and coffee liqueur in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining ½ cup sugar, using a whisk or handheld electric mixer. Beat until tripled in volume, approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and beat in mascarpone with electric mixer, beating just until smooth.
  3. In a separate large bowl, beat cream with electric mixer until cream holds stiff peaks. (Be careful not to overbeat to the point where it turns into butter!)
  4. Gently fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream, until thoroughly combined.
  5. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of each ladyfinger generously with coffee mixture (without allowing them to become too soggy). Line the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking pan with 12 ladyfingers, trimming edges to fit as necessary. Spread half of the mascarpone filling on top, smoothing with an offset spatula. Repeat with remaining 12 ladyfingers and mascarpone filling.
  6. Place cocoa powder in a mesh sieve, and sprinkle cocoa powder over top layer of mascarpone filling. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
  7. Allow tiramisu to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, dust with additional cocoa powder, and sprinkle with grated chocolate. Cut into individual portions and serve.

IMG_5049

Beat egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala over simmering water

IMG_5050

Fold in mascarpone

IMG_5051

Beat cream until it holds stiff peaks

IMG_5055

Fold together whipped cream and mascarpone mixture

IMG_5056

Layer coffee-soaked ladyfingers alternately with mascarpone cream

IMG_5068

Dust with cocoa powder

IMG_5071

Shark Week dessert!

CALIFORNIA VACATION

We spent the better part of the past two weeks on vacation in California, and I thought I’d share a few highlights of the trip.

We flew into San Francisco, and had a little time to kill there while we waited for all of our luggage to join us (thank you very much, TSA).  We stopped for a bite at Mocca, a European-style café, which included a mixed shellfish salad with shrimp, scallops, and green mussels, marinated in olive oil and herbs, and a delicious little apple tart:

We also made a quick stop at the Ferry Building, where I was fascinated by the offerings at Far West Fungi, and picked up some dried mushrooms and a wonderful truffle mushroom spread:

IMG_4605IMG_4606

Once we were reunited with our luggage, we headed towards Mendocino.  Knowing that dining options would diminish the farther we traveled and the later it got, we stopped for dinner at the “World Famous” Hamburger Ranch & BBQ in Cloverdale:

IMG_4615

IMG_4614

I finally got to try a Dutch crunch, and it made for a tasty, if sloppy burger;

IMG_4609The rest of the family chowed down on a patty melt, an Italian fungi burger, and a chili cheeseburger:

IMG_4612

IMG_4611

IMG_4610

I really got a kick out of this place.  “Joey” from Friends likes it too:

IMG_4613

We arrived in Mendocino and settled in at Stanford Inn by the Sea, with its lush gardens and view of the coast:

IMG_4629

IMG_4634

IMG_4620

IMG_4621This “eco resort” is a little different than most (all) of the places we’ve stayed at over the years.  For starters, its Ravens’ restaurant is vegan.  The complimentary breakfasts were interesting (translated — my son wouldn’t eat them).  Among the vegan dishes we tried were a chickpea crepe filled with vegetables from the gardens and drizzled with a cashew cheese sauce, and enchiladas filled with quinoa and spinach:

IMG_4624

IMG_4773

Although not everyone was crazy about the vegan breakfasts, we fought over the vegan chocolate chip cookies that were waiting for us in our room each day.  The inn graciously shared the recipe, which I’ll share as soon as I try it out at home.

IMG_4817

The Mendocino coast is breathtakingly beautiful:

IMG_4703

IMG_4785

IMG_4810

The Albion River Inn, where we ate one night, was worth visiting just for the spectacular view from the dining room:

IMG_4654

IMG_4655

We noticed that in Mendocino they take tree-hugging to a new level:

IMG_4799

At the health food store in town I bought some organic GMO-free granola made with love (you get the picture):

IMG_4766

I guess Love is neither organic nor GMO-free

If you’re up that way, be sure to stop by the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.  This is one of the most gorgeous, colorful botanical gardens around, and the dahlia garden is a match for any rose garden:

Beautiful

Heathers

Dahlias

We left Mendocino to drop our son off with friends in Stanford, and headed on to Carmel, where we enjoyed more stunning coastline:

IMG_4855

IMG_4916

IMG_4917

IMG_4929

Carmel has a beautiful town center, with upscale shopping and lots of dining options.  At the Flying Fish Grill, we loved the complimentary wonton crisps with gingery salsa, the steamed artichoke with wasabi mayonnaise and miso vinaigrette, and delectable halibut baked in parchment with fermented chinese black beans, mushroom, ginger & scallions:

IMG_4854

IMG_4847

IMG_4849

IMG_4852

We also enjoyed an elegant meal at Grasing’s, where my husband loved his clams with Yukon gold potatoes, leeks, and bacon, and declared his lamb chops to be the best he’s ever had:

IMG_4935

IMG_4939

Our hands-down favorite restaurant of the whole trip was La Bicyclette, a charming European-style café, recommended to us by my favorite oral surgeon:

IMG_4871

IMG_4868

IMG_4870

IMG_4867

The menu changes daily to provide variety and focus on seasonal ingredients.  On this day we enjoyed a wood-fired pizza with local mushrooms, a grilled chicken and pesto Panini, and mussels in a saffron broth.  Even the coffee was excellent!

IMG_4864

IMG_4863

IMG_4861IMG_4859

While in Carmel, we spent a day marveling at the exhibits at the wonderful Monterey Bay Aquarium:

We next headed to the Napa Valley.  We stopped at the historic Oakville Grocery, which was established in 1881, and is the oldest continually-operating grocery store in California.  The shelves were loaded with tempting locally-made snacks, marinades, and condiments:

We splurged on accomodations here, and stayed at the beautiful Solage resort in Calistoga:

IMG_4947

IMG_4987

IMG_4985

The highlight of our Napa stay was a leisurely visit with winemaker Tom Eddy:

IMG_4977

If you’re looking for a place to go with kids for dinner in Napa, the Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch has family-pleasing fare in an attractive, casual setting (and you can BYOB).  The starters were our favorites, including the cheddar biscuits with honey butter (which were complimentary for checking in on Yelp), meatballs with caramelized vegetables and tomato marmalade, and a wood-grilled Castroville artichoke:

On our way out of Napa, we stopped at the popular Gott’s Roadside (formerly Taylor’s Refresher), and sampled, among other things, the legendary Ahi Burger and Western Bacon Blue Ring Burger.  The food was good, but after eating out for 10 days or so, at this point it was a little too heavy for us:

IMG_4989

IMG_4988

IMG_4991

IMG_4993

We loved all the places we visited, and the cool, dry California weather was a welcome break from our Gulf Coast heat and humidity, but it was nevertheless great to return home to our own beds, and our dogs that we missed like crazy.