Category Archives: american cuisine

Thanksgiving catch-up

Last week was a busy week. Little man, my mom and I went to gather chestnuts, I got the house ready to host Thanksgiving dinner, cooked (and enjoyed) said Thanksgiving dinner, and then enjoyed the long weekend as a family. I promise to post pictures of the chestnut excursion soon, but for now, here is a synopsis of our Thanksgiving (Little man’sĀ first as a solid-food-eating child!).
I made roasted brussel sprouts, based on this recipe by Ina Garten. Since I only have one oven and I didn’t want the turkey to rest for 45 minutes and get cold while the brussel sprouts were roasting, I par boiled them for about 3 minutes and then plunged them in ice water before roasting them. Here they are on the jelly roll pan, tossed with olive oil and salt. Ready to be roasted.
My mom made the chestnuts, freshly gathered, then boiled and peeled. She also made the cranberry sauce because it’s her specialty. I made the mashed potatoes, below.
I didn’t get a picture of the yams on their own, but they turned out really good! I peeled and sliced them. Then in a small saucepan I combined 2/3 c. chicken stock, 2/3 c. apple cider, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 4 cloves of garlic (minced), and some salt and pepper. Then I brought all these to a boil until the sugar had dissolved and poured it over the yams, arranged in a baking dish. I baked them at 375 for about 30 minutes, covered in foil. Then I set them aside until after the turkey was cooked and put them back in the oven for 20 minutes of so with the brussel sprouts.
Everything turned out as I’d hoped. Yay!


Of course, dessert was involved. I made an apple pie and a pumpkin pie. Unfortunately, no picture of the apple pie was taken before cutting into it and now it’s long gone. It was tasty though, thanks to my North Carolina uncle who shared his recipe with me.

I used a new recipe for the pumpkin pie and was kind of disappointed. I usually use the Classic Pumpkin Pie recipe from Martha Stewart and it’s always turned out great. I’m not sure why I decided to change it up, but I’ll be going back to my tried and true one next year.

Thompson River Ranch Wagyu Beef

Just before the holidays, my parents treated us to a few pounds of wagyu beef from Thompson River Ranch. I was not familiar with wagyu beef prior to this surprise special delivery, but boy was I in for a treat.

Apparently, wagyu (a.k.a. Kobe) cows make a highly marbled beef. According to the Thompson River Ranch website, their cows are either completely grass-fed or grass-fed/grain-finished. This has both ecological and health benefits. If I remember correctly from Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is higher in grass-fed beef than in grain-fed beef. My lay person’s understanding of this is that Omega-6 isn’t necessarily bad for you, but having a balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 is important and we Americans tend to eat much more Omega-6. The higher Omega-3 in grass-fed beef means that it is not actually bad for you since it is balancing out your ratio. This was enlightening to learn given the bad rap that red meat usually gets.

Aside from health reasons, there are environmental benefits to going for grass-fed. I’m not going to go into them because, frankly, that’s not my area of expertise. Perhaps the best reason to go for grass-fed is the quality of the meat. It is expensive, and so Trevor and I don’t eat meat very often. But we’ve made the choice to sacrifice quantity for quality and we’re okay with that.

Back to the wagyu! To thank my parents for their generous gift, we wanted to share a meal with them, showcasing the beef. So we invited them over for a hamburger dinner on Saturday. Ironically, my dad does not eat beef. Prior to this meal, I had not seen him eat beef…ever, I think. I offered to get him some ground lamb like usual. But this time, he said, he would try the beef. I was nervous. I hate the thought of serving something that someone might not like. What if they go home hungry? The horrors!! But, my dad took the plunge, and I dare say he enjoyed it!

Because we were serving a high quality beef, I wanted to make sure the buns were up to par. So I make some dough with my bread maker and separated it into 4 balls. They could have been a little smaller. Oh well.

I served the hamburgers with sweet potato fries, which Quentin thoroughly enjoyed along with us.
Of course, the hamburgers could not be served with tomato because, well, it’s February. Instead we had them with avocado. Not really in season here either, but I would rather have an out of season avocado than an out of season tomato any day. Quentin also enjoyed some avocado with us. Lucky boy!
The burgers turned out delicious, the company was great, and the baby was in good spirits! All in all, a very enjoyable Saturday night. I hope to purchase beef from Thompson River Ranch again!

(Disclaimer: I did not receive compensation of any form to write this review)

Bruschetta Burgers

Here I am, back in San Jose, after a wonderful 3 1/2 week trip to Paris, Barcelona and Marseille. Everything about the trip was lovely, and I can’t wait to go back. At the same time, though, it’s nice to be home. My husband, Trevor, had to leave a week early to get back to work, and it’s definitely good to see him again. During the week he was gone, I spent time with my parents in the south of France and in Paris. We had a great time together (and enjoyed several amazing meals, which I will have to write about later)! After 4 years of marriage, it’s rare to spend such concentrated one-on-one time with my parents, and it was good to catch up.

On the agenda for fraises et tartines in the near future: Did I complete each item from my top 10 list? ; Barcelona restaurant reviews; Paris restaurant reviews; Summertime Jam-Making; and other assorted seasonal recipes. I’ll also be working on creating a website for fraises et tartines with its own domain name. I’m hoping there’s a way to use Mobile Me with a non-mac domain name. Anyone who can help me out with that one?

Here is a picture of the “Caprese Salad” I made to go with dinner last night.

And now for the bruschetta burgers. This one is adapted from our go-to burger cookbook- Build a Better Burger. I have to say, this cookbook has not failed us yet. We love good burgers, especially with our delicious grassfed beef from Paicines Ranch, and it’s fun to experiment with some pretty creative recipes. As usual, I didn’t follow the recipe to a T, so here is the recipe I ended up making.


Tomato Topping:
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsely, finely chopped
3 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

1 cup loosely packed crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons Italian parsely, finely chopped
3 tablespoons shallot, chopped
1 pound ground grassfed beef
4 slices Gouda cheese

1/2 loaf Italian bread, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil, for brushing on bread


– Prepare the grill to medium high heat
– Combine all ingredients for tomato topping in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside.
– In a separate bowl, combine Gorgonzola cheese, shallots and parsely. Then add ground beef and mix by hand. Be careful not to overmix. Divide the meat mixture into 4 equal portions and flatten into patties.
– Place patties on the grill, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bruschetta slices (brushed with extra virgin olive oil) to the outside edges of the grill to toast them. Flip the patties and cook them for 4 minutes. Put a slice of gouda on each patty and allow to melt for 1-4 minutes. Remove the bruschetta slices and patties from the grill.
– To assemble the bruschetta burgers, place a patty on top of a slice of bruschetta and top with the tomato topping. We had these open-faced, and ended up eating them with a fork and knife because they were quite messy…but delicious!

Grilled California Avocado BLT Burger

For today’s post, I’m giving a shout out to Trevor’s latest cooking venture. Normally, I’m the one in the house who does all the cooking. This is mostly because (a) I enjoy cooking and (b) I’m pretty good at it. But while it makes sense that I would be the primary chef of the family, I’m always grateful when Trevor decides to try his hand at making dinner for us. He’s really improved over the last few years too! I remember, early in our marriage, showing Trevor how to prepare green beans, or how to chop an onion. Now, just 3 years later, he completed an entire meal from start to finish without any instruction from me. I’m impressed!

The inspiration for his latest food creation came from a trip to William Sonoma where he spotted his ideal cookbook: “Build a Better Burger,” published after the “Sutter Home Search for America’s Best Burgers.” He promised that, with this cookbook, he would whip up some fabulous burgers.

So we bought the cookbook, and Trevor chose to make the Grilled California Avocado BLT Burger with Carmelized Chipotle Onions. Now that’s a title. The burgers turned out pretty good. I think the only thing everyone agreed we’d change is the amount of spice. There was a bit too much kick for us…but on the bright side, we had clear sinuses.

It turns out this particular recipe can be found here on the Food Network’s website. So instead of retyping it all out, I’ll let you check the link. And for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of Trevor attempting to take his first bite of his gigantic burger creation.