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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A San Francisco Cioppino Night in Paris

Had a great little SF inspired Cioppino dinner last night with friends in Paris. Nothing like a huge Californian salad, a big bowl of Cioppino for 8 and a mousse for dessert. Of course complimented with lots of pastis, french wine and big 'ol slices of french market country bread!

I somehow was lucky enough to score a 200 meter apartment and my table has 10 chairs so it simply inspires you to entertain. I mean you can't just eat cereal alone every day at a table like this. You have to make use of it, right? We'll I do my best. I wanted to make a stress-free meal and I thought Cioppino was the perfect dish. Usually I obsess over the art and design of plating which I sincerely love (especially coming from a family of artists I think it's my one form of expression) but this time, with 8, I wanted to create a more "easy, breeezzzy" atmosphere with huge bowls and a serve yourself environment. It turned out very tasty and the recipes are below. Bon Appetite et bon courage!!! x

Cioppino for sure a real deal San Francisco original, which has been infamous since the 1850s by a Genoese immigrant Giuseppe Bazzuro who changed his native ciuppin—which means "little soup" into a rich, luxurious and oh so fragrant stew using local delicacies like dungeness crab, clams, tons of veggies and a good amount of wine.

A few solid Tbls extra-virgin olive oil

½ stick of butter

2 small yellow onions, peeled and chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 leek, white part only, trimmed, cleaned, and chopped. Also a bit of the green for flavor (washed well)

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced thin

2 28-oz. cans crushed Italian tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste

6 bay leaves
 (Make sure to remove before serving)

1 handful. dried oregano

1 small handful dried thyme

1 tsp. fresh basil

2 pinches of piment d'espelette (if you can find it if not cayenne)

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
 (2 cloves roasted to rub on the bread)

1 1⁄2 lbs. halibut filet, cut into large pieces

16 sea scallops

16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1–2 cups flour

12 oz. crabmeat, preferably dungeness, pick out all shells

2 cups dry white wine

1 cup Sweet Vermouth

16 manila clams, scrubbed

1⁄2 bunch parsley, chopped

1. Heat up a few tbsl of the oil and a few tbsps. of the butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes. Add diced garlic and sweet. Do not brown the onions. Next add carrots, celery, a bit of the celery leaves, leeks, leek greenery and fennel. Cook, stirring often, for about 5-7 mins. Add tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes longer. Now deglaze with the sweet vermouth. Pour in a few tbls and cook down. Repeat 3 times to fully dilute the alcohol. Add crushed tomatoes, 4 cups water, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, and piment d'espelette and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3 + hours. Every time the liquid is getting low add more water. Repeat 3 times to create a very intense, aromatic flavor.

2. Turn the oven on to 400 and roast the head of the garlic.

3. When sauce looks to almost be done heat remaining few tbls of oil, 8 tbsp. butter, and add diced garlic in a large, heavy skillet over high heat until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Working in 2 batches, dredge halibut, scallops, and large and bay shrimp in flour, shaking off excess, and fry, turning seafood frequently, until golden, 1–2 minutes.

4. Toast the bread in a pan that will give it char marks if you have it. Take a huge loaf of sourdough or country bread and cut it into large slices. Spread with the roasted garlic and a good layer of butter. Brown on a hot pan for a few minutes on each side. Reserve.

5. Now fill another pan with a few cups of wine, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and add the clams. Cover, leave on high and steam for a few minutes until all are open. Any that don’t open throw away. Transfer clams to the pot with sauce and add their cooking liquid. (You need to have scrubbed your clams well to make sure there is no sand in here). Transfer the rest of the seafood to the sauce and add crabmeat, cover, and simmer for 10–15 minutes. Adjust salt, take out the celery leaves, bay leaves, leek greenier and ladle the soup into a huge bowl for presentation. Garnish with loads of parsley and fresh basil and a few turns of pepper. Serve with toasted sourdough bread and the Salad and lots of napkins :)

Serve it with a HUGE Longhi's Salad http://thetastysidetolife.blogspot.com/2010/01/longhis-inspired-longhi-salad.html

and White Chocolate, Lemon and Stawberry Mousse
http://thetastysidetolife.blogspot.com/2010/08/strawberry-and-white-chocolate-mousse.html which you can prepare on a table in front of guests. Of course compliment with loads of pastis, Bordeau and some small producer Champagne (My choice was Paques and Fils from Rilly La Montagne for this meal)
The Table setting ready to go
Group of Friends + Roommate
The Dessert table- White Chocolate Mousee, then a layer of strawberries, followed by lemon mousse and topped with a layer of strawberries and a butter cookie

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tasty Side to Life Tours Website Up!

So I finally finished a website for my Champagne business! After some long hours and a little bit of sweat and tears my sister and I completed a great little website to give clients a better idea about what we do at Tasty Side to Life Tours.

Check it out! http://www.tastysidetolifetours.com. Here is a little snapshot below of the home page. Really excited to help even more clients have an insane, foodie and memorable trip to the Champagne region of France!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 6 Châteaus in the Champagne Area

So whenever I have a client for http://www.tastysidetolifetours.com come into town I give them a list of about 6 different châteaus to stay in. A lot of people love that Champagne is only 45 minutes from Paris. Yet, because it's so close, they theorize that they can easily see the region in a speedy little day trip and then jet set on back to Paris. Like a quick trip from San Francisco to Silicon Valley, right? The 1 day Champagne wonder is totally doable and a glorious little side treat from a Parisian trip BUT I think you miss out on a chunk of the region if you "partir" after only a 10 hr day.

One of the best parts about the region is the handful of incredible 17th century Chateaus full of history, incredible decor and talented chefs. Really it takes a good 3 day trip to fully appreciate the different regions of Champagne, taste a little from each, visit a few farms, a number of daily markets and taste your heart away. This way, in a weekend, you can truly discover your favorites and walk away with real gems for 13 euro a bottle.

Here is a list below of my favorite châteaus:

Les Crayeres- ***** Number 1 Hotel in the World in 2002. Built in 1885 by Mrs Pommery of Pommery Champagne, then partially destroyed by the German forces in WWI. In 1940's the Royal Air Force occupied the castle, followed by the American army and then Count Charles of Colignac. Finally in 1980 the Castle was purchased and renovated. The restaurant is famous for head Chef Gerad Boyer who received 3 Michelin Stars. Since 2010 Phillipe Mille is chef who is the winner of the 2009 Boucuse de Bronze and has taken over both Kitchens. City: Reims Rates: 300-700/ night. http://www.lescrayeres.com/uk.html

Les Crayeres- *****

Hotel L'Assiette Champenoise **** In the Hotel and Chateau collection The Assiette Champenoise is modern and set within a peaceful 4 acre park. It has 55 rooms and a gourmet restaurant with 2 Michelin Stars. Menu is 55-155 euro. City: Tinqueux (5 mins from Reims) Rates: 330-760/night http://www.assiettechampenoise.com/

Hotel L'Assiette Champenoise ****

Les Aulnois- **** One of my favorite B & B's in town that is a restored ancient Chateau. It is close to Les Crayeres in terms of quality of rooms and 1/5th the price. It's beautifully decorated with magnificient gardens. The owners family owns a Chamapagne business and she serves her Champagne to lucky guests. The property is a table d'hotes with breakfast prepared daily and a delicious dinner if requested of course paired with Champagne. City: Pierry (30 mins from Reims but 5 mins from the 2nd largest city in Champagne Eperany) Rates: 150-280/night. http://lesaulnois.fr/default.aspx

Les Aulnois- ****

Hostellerie La Briqueterie- **** Member of the Relais and Chateau collection this hotel is surrounded by beautiful grounds (including a rose garden, a huge vegetable garden and acres of land with views of the rolling hills and vineyards). It is located just 10 minutes outside Epernay and has a sauna, heated pool (which opens onto the patio) and a spa. The hotel is attached to a gourmet 1 Michelin star restaurant with a recent new head chef, Michael Nizzero who brings classic cooking techniques to a modern audience creating dishes with superb flavors, colors and textures. The restaurant uses fresh herbs from their garden and regional products. Their also is a terrific and cozy bar with a fireplace during winter.   City: Vinay Rates: 180-380/ night. http://www.lescrayeres.com/uk.html

Chateau de Fere **** Chateau de Fere is a beautiful Chateau overlooked by incredible ruins of a 12th century castle. It lies in a park of 70 hectares. It was built in 1206 by Robert de Dreux, grandson of Louis VI. There are actually two castles on the grounds. One, the Chateau de Fere now lays in ruins, it serves as the backdrop of the newer 16th century castle, the Hostellerie du Chateau. Recommended by JP Moser Hotel & Chateau Guide 2010. Restaurant is head by Dominique Quay, Maitre Cuisiner de France and Chef for over 10 yrs. Tasting menu at 90 Euro. City: Village of Fere en Tardenois- 40 mins from Reims- 30 mins from tasting. Middle of the country. Rates: 180-450/ night. http://chateaudefere.com/blog/

Chateau de Fere ****

Chateau De Courcelles **** Chateau de Courcelles was built in 1690 and occupied by Germans in WWI. Christain Dior organized parties here in the 1940's. It's a charming 4 star hotel with a gourmet restaurant and is a member of the Relais and Chateau. This luxury hotel has a park, a terrace with views over the surrounding countryside, a tennis court and a pool. It's gourmet restaurant has many distinctions and offers a 50 euro and 90 euro tasting menu. City: Aisne from Reims/ 45-50 From Champagne tasting Rates: 240-395/ night. http://www.chateau-de-courcelles.fr/

Chateau De Courcelles ****

I plan trips to small producers where you sit in the living room with producers, taste lots of different cuvees, visit farms, markets and eat Michelin star meals all in the middle of the rolling vineyards of Champagne. Email me if you're interested in a trip: Tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com and check out the websitewww.Tastysidetolifetours.com

If you're interested in a trip please email:

Tasty Side To Life Tours
Attn: Sydney Krueger
15 Rue Conservatoire 75009 Paris France

Email: tastysidetolifetours@gmail.com or sydneykrueger@gmail.com

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sauté of Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Chard, served with Mint Yoghurt Brought to you by the Culinary Genius of Ottolenghi

I am so so so excited to post a recipe I just found on Ottolenghi's website http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/recipes/saut-of-chickpea-butternut-squash-and-chard-served-with-mint-yoghurt. They are one of my favorite little new age, healthy yet delicious bakeries/ sit down restos in London where you can enjoy hip food in a casual manner. Ahhh brings me a little back to California. Im secretly hoping they follow the Starbucks expansion scheme and magically end up on every worldwide corner so I can eat here bi-weekly:)

Their food is just delicious and they take their business seriously. They serve food consistently filled with color, fibrance, spice, heat and utter simplicity leaving you craving more. This recipe might not look special but that is the thing about their food. It's casual, not too complicated and easily presented. I promise it's delicious and would be the best recipe for a casual dinner amongst friends. Why not serve this in a huge beautiful bowl table center with indian spiced meatballs and Wild Rice?

As the Independent says "It's the meringues that stop the traffic. Cartoonishly huge horns, dusted with cocoa, they form the centrespread of a window display of total, shameless gastroporn. Bulbous chilli peppers, purple-tipped artichokes, pert croissants, glossy fruit tarts; this is the foodie equivalent of an Ann Summers shop; you either bustle past with eyes averted, or stand there, tongue hanging out, brazenly lusting. The deli counters groan under a display of glorious abundance. A giant skillet of golden cornbread gleams under scattered curls of red chilli pepper. Fabulously colourful salads and vegetable dishes are heaped in Provençal bowls - globe artichokes brimming with tiny peas, baby carrots bathed in orange zest vinaigrette, golden slices of roasted butternut squash dressed with tahini. Cuts of meat and fish gleam provocatively over bundles of fresh herbs. Unusual breads (baking legend Dan Lepard's been at work here)are piled high next to trays of light-as-air pastries" http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/reviews/ottolenghi-london-n1-556358.html

Sauté of Chickpea, Butternut Squash and Chard, served with Mint Yoghurt


70g dried chickpeas
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp castor sugar
1½ tsp ground cumin
100g Swiss chard leaves
Juice of ½ a lemon
3 tbsp picked coriander leaves for garnish
Salt and black pepper
Butternut squash
200g butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Yoghurt sauce
80g Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint
Salt and black pepper


1) Soak the chickpeas in enough cold water to cover them twice. Add the bicarbonate soda and leave for at least 12 hours.

2) Drain the chickpeas, put in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of fresh water. Bring to the boil and simmer for at least an hour and sometimes up to 90 minutes. The chickpeas should be totally tender but retain their shape. Occasionally you would need to skim the froth off the surface. When ready, drain the chickpeas into a colander and set aside.

3) Preheat the oven to 200°C.

4) Peel the butternut squash and cut into 2cm cubes. Put them in a baking tray, drizzle the olive oil on and season with salt and pepper, mix well to coat and roast for 25-30 minutes or until soft.

5) While cooking the butternut squash, prepare the chickpea sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, caraway seeds, sugar and cumin and fry for 10 minutes, while stirring, until golden brown.

6) Stir in the chopped chard, and then add the cooked butternut squash and the chickpeas with about 5 tablespoons water. Mix together and cook for another 5 minutes or until hardly any juices are left. Add the lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.

7) Make the yoghurt sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients. Taste for salt and pepper.
To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas on a serving dish, spoon over a bit of the yoghurt sauce and garnish with coriander leaves.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A San Franciscan Christmas Eve

There is nothing like a real deal San Francisco Christmas Eve to get you in the holiday spirit. Each year we have the same meal and I find myself craving it for the next 360 days.

I'm talking mounds and mounds of fresh cracked Dungeness crab with lots of lemons, Steaming Artichokes, Garlic Sourdough bread fresh out of the oven and finished with chocolate and candied ginger pot de creme! Yum, a San Franciscan Feast.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Real Hawaiian Mexican Feast

Hibiscus Jalapeno Sangria
Grilled Pineapple Guacamole
Pinto Beans
Orange and Cinnamon infused Carnitas
Beer Braised Chicken Verde
Roasted Tomato and Poblano Pepper soup with shrimp, cilantro and Queso Fresco
Tres Leche Cake with Papaya, Mango, Pineapple filling and a Cinnamon Whipped Cream top.

So, I am in the Hawaiian islands on the island of Maui right now enjoying the sun and ocean and have designated myself the personal chef for my whole family. I'm attempting to pseudo put all of us on a healthy eating plan but it's hard when you find 14 pounds of pork shoulder that you can't resist buying :) Oatmeal for breakfast, lots of tennis, running, pilates etc mixed with some french food and lots of mexican.

Carnitas recipe

Yum how can you go wrong with heavenly slow roasted pork that melts in your mouth and is topped with fresh made guacamole, cilantro, onions, salsa and a few spicy carrots? To me this is truly the ultimate Mexican meat and its surprisingly not too complicated to make!

Carnitas literally translates to "little meats", and is braised pork shoulder which simmers slowly in a flavorful broth and then is finished by roasting it at a high temperature for a few minutes to crisp the exterior and give it a beautiful caramelization. In this recipe chunks of pork are simmered in a combination of water, orange juice and spices until it’s tender and falling apart. Before serving the meat is returned to an oven at high broil along with some of the condensed rendered liquid and is placed in a fairly shallow pan for a few minutes to produce the desired texture of succulent softness and caramelized crispness which equals deliciousness.


4-5-pounds boneless pork should, cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oil


1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon chile powder

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

6 cloves of garlic, peeled

2 cups (or more) water

1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice

1 Tbls grated orange zest

Cut pork into 5 huge chunks and cut off any large chunks of fat. Cover the meat with the salt, cumin, chile powder and stick pieces of the garlic inside little pockets in the meat (you should be able to stick them in with your fingers here or if necessary use a little knife to make a little slit and stick it in). Add some olive oil to the pan and brown the meat in 2 batches in a huge dutch oven quickly on both sides to give it a good sear. Now add the water, orange juice, zest and cinnamon sticks and bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Make sure meat is close to covered with liquid. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and simmer until pork is tender and falling apart (2 to 3 hours depending on heat). You want the pot to simmer very gently not to boil rapidly which will lead to tough meat! Add more water if necessary to keep the pork partially submerged in liquid. When the pork is tender take it off the heat, pull the meat out and place on a shallow cookie tray. Set aside. Now increase the heat and boil the cooking juices on medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add a bit of orange juice once the liquid is reduced to cut through some of the salt. Before serving finished the meat by adding a bit of the condensed sauce to the pan and then roasting the pork in the oven at a high temperature (450) for a 8 minutes or so to crisp the exterior and give it a beautiful caramelization. Cool and shred before serving.

Serve with corn tortillas (warmed quickly by wrapping them in a towel and putting them in the microwave or oven), pineapple guacamole, salsa, pinto beans, fresh cilantro, and diced onion, lime. I think having nopalitos (canned prickly pear cactus) and spicy jalapeno carrots on the table is a nice complement as well. Also, a jalapeno spiked Sangria is a nice accompaniment to this dish!

Beer Braised Chicken Verde- recipe from Mexican magazine

Prep: 20 mins cook: 25 mins

1 Tbls vegetable oil

1 cup chopped onion

5 cloves garlic minced

¼ cup unsalted butter

1-teaspoon ground cumin

1-teaspoon ground coriander

1-teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried Mexican coriander

1-teaspoon salt

1 12-ounce bottle Mexican beer (Modelo or Pacifico)

1 12 oz tomatillos fresh if you can find them

1 4 to 5 oz can diced green Chile peppers

1.5 pounds chicken thighs

1. In a 4 quart Dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, cook and stir or 3 minutes. Add butter, cumin, coriander, chili powder, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until butter melts.

2. Set oven to high broil and add tomatillos to the oven on a cooking sheet. Broil 5-10 minutes until you have a nice char. Add beer, tomatillos, and Chile peppers. Bring to boiling. Add chicken. Return to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, stirring every 5 minutes to break up the tomatillos. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken from the cooking liquid to a cutting board. Gently boil the cooking liquid, uncovered for about 10 mins more or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, using two forks, pull chicken apart into shreds.

3. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of the reduced cooking juices, stir to moisten chicken. Use mixture as filling for quesadillas or tacos, serve with remaining cooking juices. Makes 3 cups filling.

Roasted tomato and poblano chile Pepper soup with shrimp and queso Fresco- recipe from Mexican magazine

Prep: 35 mins cook: 45 mins

1-Pound fresh or frozen medium shrimp

Nonstick cooking spray

2 ½ pounds roma tomatoes

6 medium fresh poblano chile peppers

1 red bell pepper

1 Tbls olive oil

1 large onion halved and thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic minced

1-teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1-teaspoon salt

3 14-ounze cans of chicken broth

8 oz queso fresco

Lime wedges

Fresh cilantro

Oregano springs

1. Thaw shrimp, if frozen, peel and devein shrimp. Rinse shrimp, pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

2. Preheat broiler and line a cookie sheet with foil, lightly coat foil with cooking spray. Place whole tomatoes on prepared baking pan along with peppers and red bell pepper. Broil for 10-12 minutes until skins are charred, turning everything once halfway through broiling time. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them over a bowl, collecting all their juices. Pour everything into a blender and cover and pulse until mixture is nearly smooth. Set aside.

3. In a Dutch oven heat oil over medium heat. Ad onion, cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden (just sweating the onions do not brown). Add pureed mixture, garlic, dried oregano, cumin and salt. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Continue boiling for 7 to 8 minutes or unit mixture is quite thick, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and return to boiling and reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Stir in shrimp, simmer uncovered for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.

4. Sprinkle servings with cheese. Garnish with a lime, cilantro and oregano sprigs. Makes 6 servings

Hibiscus-Jalapeno infused Sangria

2 cups water

5 Tea bags of Hibiscus tea

1 jalapeno diced thin


1 apple chopped

¼ pineapple chopped

1 small orange

1 bottle of dry red whine

1 bottle of champagne

1. Boil water and add it to a pitcher filled with 5 tea bags.

2. Add diced jalapeno, apple, pineapple and orange, wine and ice.

3. Reserve in the fridge for 5+ hours to let the sangria soak up all the fruit and jalapeno. Served iced.

Grilled Pineapple Guacamole

1 cup of fresh chopped Hawaiian pineapple

5 ripe avocados

½ Diced red onion

Few Tbls pineapple juice

1 tbls chopped cilantro

¼ of a chopped jalapeno

Pinch of salt and pepper

3 limes squeezed

1. Grill pineapple over a hot flame for about 5 minutes. Dice grilled pineapple.

2. Place avocados in a bowl and roughly mash with a fork leaving some whole chunks intact. Stir in chopped pineapple, onion, jalapeno, salt, pepper and lime juice. Add cilantro. Reserve in the fridge until needed.

Tres Leche Cake- Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart and Andrea Kruegers creative genius

A bit of Unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish

6 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 can(12 ounces) evaporated milk

1 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 Tbls cinnamon

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

1 Papaya peeled and chopped

1 Mango peeled and chopped

¼ a fresh pineapple

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold whites into yolks until almost combined. Gently fold in flour (do not overmix).

2. Spread batter in prepared dish. Bake until golden and pulling away from sides of dish, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cake 20 minutes and then pierce all over with a fork.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the three milks; pour evenly over cake. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

4. Cook payapa flesh, mango and pineapple over the stove top for 5 mins with a bit of water. Transfer mixture to the blender and then put back on th stove until you reach desired thick consistency. Spread filling over first layer of cake and top with second layer.

5. To serve, prepare topping decoration as you wish. In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream with sugar and cinnamon until soft peaks form. Chill cake and cut into squares; serve topped with whipped cream.

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