Phipp’s Red Lentil and Barley Soup

Phipps Lentil Barley

A few weeks ago we headed down the California coastline to a tiny town named Pescadero, on a quest for beans. Pescadero, at the midway point between San Francisco and Santa Cruz – is known for a lovely beach, antiques, the historic artichoke soup at Duarte’s Tavern (which apparently Guy Fieri is a fan of), and the burrito joint in the gas station – but if you drive farther down the road you will get to a mystical and magical place named Phipps Country Store, which has both an unusually large selection of beans, and an unusually large selection of birds, small furry animals, livestock and antique stoves.

PhippsFarm Animals

So, truthfully, I drove over an hour just to buy beans. But, oh what beans!!! Phipps brags over 50 types of beans, most of which are grown by them, using no sprays/chemicals. While I was there I picked up some chickpeas, runner beans, soup mixes, and chestnut runners, all glorious stuff.

Phipps Beans

Included in my purchase was one really great package of red lentils and barley – that came with a recipe which I adapted for dinner.

Soup Package

This soup is perfect for the winter weather, and like most soups, tastes absolutely delicious for lunch the next day even if you are eating it cold. My twist is the miso – I use white miso, which adds a really nice depth of flavor to soups without it tasting miso-y or exotic. You can easily find white miso paste in the refrigerator section of any asian market, and I would highly recommend buying it to have on hand. If you can’t find miso, you could substitute bouillon.

Phipp’s Red Lentil Barley Soup
makes 8-9 1 cup servings

1 slice thick cut bacon (I use Niman Ranch)
1 cup (or 1 large) onion, chopped
1 cup (or three stalks) celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, or 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes
3/4 cups red lentils, rinsed
3/4 cup pearl barley
4 cups water
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded swiss cheese, or sharp cheddar (optional)

In a large heavy bottomed soup pot, place the slice of bacon over medium heat, until most of the fat is rendered. Add in the onions, celery and garlic, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the water, chicken broth, miso paste, tomatoes, lentils, barley, rosemary oregano, carrots and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 40 minutes or until the barley, lentils and carrots are tender. Top with swiss cheese or sharp cheddar if desired. (It goes well with or without!). I made a small batch of salt and olive oil rolls from my refrigerated master dough from “Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day” and it went perfectly with this.

Nutritional Information: (Per 1 cup serving, not including cheese) Calories: 158, Total Fat: 1.6 g, Sodium: 115.9 mg, Total Carbs: 29.3 g, Dietary Fiber: 6.5 g, Protein: 7.7 g

Phipps Country Store and Farm
2700 Pescadero Road, Pescadero, CA 94060
(650) 879-0787
Hours: 10:00 – 5:00 during winter, Closed Mondays

A Day in The Bay

Iced Tea

My favorite part about living in San Francisco currently, is hosting guests who have never been to this city, and heading around town feeding them my favorites. This presents a bit of a delicate problem for my expanding waistline, but I figure that I’ll burn off “most” (cough* a fraction of*) of the calories if we attempt to walk to as many spots as possible.

Last week, my dear friend Caroline came, on a quick break from her graduate studies at Haaaahvahhhd, for her cousin’s destination wedding in wine country, which meant that I had only one day to take her around! What to choose from!

After picking her up at the airport at 11:30 pm, we came back to my little apartment in Noe Valley, and fell right asleep, so we would have energy for the upcoming excursion. Once morning came, we headed out early, taking the J over the big hill by Dolores Park (I didn’t want to kill her before noon), and stopping briefly on 18th street for a cup of Mocha Tesora at Philz, no extra sugar, dash of cream, with a mint leaf on top. If you haven’t had it before, it’s heaven in a cup. Philz makes your cup of coffee one at a time, and is one of the best that I’ve had in this city. I’m equally torn between the one on 18th street, and the one down on 24th in the mission.

We then walked through the Castro, taking a brief stop into Cliff’s Variety mostly so I could note how wonderful it was that they really do have a little bit of everything! And to marvel at their collection of kitchen wares, and note how I could really use a Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper, in order to properly follow the new San Francisco law of composting. Alas, Given was closed, so I couldn’t show her all of the things (art, home ware, jewelry, furniture, trinkets) I would like to own. We headed up the street and turned on market, picking the J back up at Church and Market, and headed over to the Ferry Building.


As things were just starting to open, we went to badger the hostess at Slanted Door, to see if she would give us a reservation for two around 11:30, enough time to walk through each of the shops before we became famished. She kindly obliged, and we went off to take “San Francisco Photos”. I managed to take a “San Francisco Photo” of her with the Bay Bridge, and then a portrait of a native seagull, in the same pose.

Seagull Bridge

Stately fellow, isn’t he?

After this, we walked around, although, this time, Miette wasn’t open quite yet, so we didn’t have one of their lovely Macarons (I like pistachio), and it was a little too early for a sandwich or Meat Cone at  Boccalone, although that usually is one of my favorites. My brother is still over the moon about his “Tasty Salted Pig Parts Water Bottle” he picked up there. We did step into Sur La Table, which stocks well and has nice sales, and an particularly pleasant assistant manager, John, who I met at Omnivore yesterday.


This is my favorite photo of Caroline, which I caught right before she broke out into a giggle. I like making my subjects laugh right before snapping their photo.

We sat outside at the Slanted Door, it was perfect weather, and the tourist watching opportunities there are prime. While people often make comments that the Slanted Door is overrated, I have never had anything but lovely food and service there. It’s a nice place to sit, eat, and people watch.

She had milk tea, and I had their iced tea. We shared a bowl of their shrimp and pork wonton soup, which has a lovely broth and egg noodles, then we had the beautifully presented Hamachi (Yellowtail Tuna) collar, some of the most tender parts of fish, which came with these grilled pineapple that were so, so good. We finished with the highly fragrant chicken clay pot, and no room for dessert.

Hamachi Collar After lunch, we set back to walking, heading towards Union Square, where we took a brief pause at the very large Williams Sonoma to watch a pasta making demonstration, and discussing the merits of the city of Boston versus San Francisco with a lively little audience.

We finally headed over the bridge to Berkeley, on what I affectionately refer to as the “Soviet Disney Monorail” (aka the Bart) to walk around the campus, take a brief pause at Games of Berkeley, where I was astounded to find the board game “Quelf” which I immediately purchased. For those unaware (I’m assuming most of you, because most board game stores have never heard of this game), Quelf is a lively boardgame that is to be played with a group of people who are not afraid of acting like complete oddballs together. It is impossible to play without laughing hysterically.

Next, after checking out the “reduced price cheese basket” at the Cheeseboard cheese store, and scoring on a blue cheese and a goat cheese for about $2.50, we headed next door to get in line at Cheeseboard Pizza, my favorite spot for pizza in the bay area. Cheeseboard features one pizza a day, of which you can order slices, a fraction of, or the whole pizza including tax for $20. This is a steal for what you are getting. The pizza is always chock full of local vegetables, and specialty cheeses from next door. It’s vegetarian, but no omnivore would be missing the meat here. The line is long but quick, and I’ve never been let down by the selection. On Fridays they have jazz.

We were there for a most delicious pizza with gruyere and potato, and the salad of the day, and made sure to get some for Devon, who most generously picked us up in the car to take us back over the bridge.

A pretty wonderful day, for sure.

Although, if you are thinking of coming to San Francisco, best visit for a week!

[BB] Tomato Goat Cheese Tarts, and a Trip up the Coast

tomato-goat-cheese-tart This weeks Barefoot Blogging challenge, chosen by the lovely Anne of Anne Strawberry is one of my favorite recipes of Ina’s, her absolutely delicious Tomato Goat Cheese Tarts. These tasty tarts have two types of cheese: goat, and another melty cheese (Ina uses parmesan, but I used fontina this time to fulfill Adventures in Gluttony’s Cheese of the Month Challenge) and so really, how can you go wrong? It’s also a fairly great base recipe for getting in your vegetables, as you could easily top on a variety of seasonal vegetables and it would work out fantastically.

In order to serve them justice, (and admittedly to get out of the city for some quiet), I decided to go on a quest for cheese outside of San Francisco. We hopped in the car in the early afternoon, and drove across the golden gate bridge, heading up the coast for the country. Cheese, an ocean view, sunshine, farm land, and cows are among my criteria for excellent adventuring, and all were successfully met on this trip.

cows-in-tomales We drove up the 101 to Petaluma, and then across towards Tomales, a tiny town on the 1, where we stopped at Mostly Natives Nursery so I could buy some herbs for my kitchen including a rosemary bush, some cilantro, parsley, marjoram, oregano, two types of thyme, and mint. I’m used to having a garden with fresh herbs, and now living on the third floor with no land, I’ve been missing out. I’m hoping these guys will pull through living in the house by the windows! We wanted to go to Tomales Bakery, but it is only open Thursdays through Sunday, so we continued back down the incredibly beautiful coastline, driving past Tony’s, and Hog Island Oyster Company (two food destinations which I will get to some point soon!), and towards Point Reyes.

the-1-back-to-sf Point Reyes, in addition to being in the middle of beautiful farm land, right on Tomales Bay, is home to Cowgirl Creamery, the main destination of my cheese quest. After sampling, sampling and more sampling, I settled on three cheeses. Fontina, to satisfy my Cheese of the Month, some more of an aged gruyere that I purchased a few weeks ago in Cowgirl’s Ferry Building store, and some really remarkable goat cheese, called Hoja Santa. Hoja Santa is made in Dallas by Paula Lambert of the Mozzarella Company, and is wrapped in the leaves of the Hoja Santa plant, which is supposed to impart the taste of sassafras to the cheese. After sampling it, I knew it was the one for Ina’s tarts.

tomato-goat-cheese-ready-to-bake Today I made these tarts for lunch, and couldn’t have been a happier camper. So delicious!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 2

– 1 sheet of puff pastry, defrosted
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
– 1 clove garlic
– coarse salt and black pepper
– 2 tablespoons dry white wine
– 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
– 4 tablespoons freshly grated Fontina, with some shaved
– 2 ounces goat cheese (I used plain, but Ina recommends herb and garlic Montrachet)
– 2 thick slices of tomato (about 1/4 inch) from a medium tomato
– a few teaspoons of julienned basil (use fresh if at all possible, but it works fine with dried)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Take a sheet of defrosted puff pastry (I used Trader Joe’s Artisanal Puff Pastry, frozen, which comes in big sheets), and draw six inch large circles of pastry, using a bowl or saucer as your guide. Place pastry rounds on a sheet pan lined with parchment, and stick in the fridge to keep them cold until you are ready to use them. (Note: quickly take the leftover scraps, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, and put them in the oven for the next ten minutes or so while you cook the onions. They make a fantastic snack.)

3. In a pan on medium heat, add a couple of good glugs of olive oil, and saute the onion and garlic for about 15 minutes until starting to get very soft. Season with salt and pepper, add the white wine and thyme leaves. Turn the heat down just slightly, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until very soft and lightly browned. Take off the heat.

4. Now for the fun part: take your pastry rounds, and with a sharp knife, score a 1/4 inch wide border around the inside of the edge of the circle. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the fontina cheese on each round, staying inside the scored border. (This is so when baking, the border will rise and create a little edge.)

5. In each circle, place half of your sauteed onions inside the border, and crumble an ounce of the goat cheese. Take your tomato and plop it on top, brushing it with a little bit of olive oil, giving it a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and the basil, and the rest of the fontina cheese.

6. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden. You might want to watch it in the end, because if your oven is too hot or uneven it might start to burn. You can serve it on its own, or with a little lemony salad with arugula, and any leftover tomato you might have.