Bruschetta con Burrata - Bringing the Restaurant to My Kitchen

On a recent trip to San Francsico, my "foodie home away from home", I had the opportunity to try two restaurants I had never been to before, one of which I had walked by many a time but had never ventured in. I am talking about Kuleto's in Union Square - reason being I never stopped in was because of its location on Powell Street smack dab in the what I call the tourist trap which was always just discouraging. But, as I was heading back down to the BART station to head out of town, I realized it was about lunch time, and I thought to head in, since I was walking right by.

And, where I thought it was just going to be another tourist-filled joint with sub-par/average Italian food, I was quite happily surprised with the ambiance and the menu. Plus, I overheard, as I sat down at the bar (of course) the bartender asking a couple next to me if they wanted their "usual". Obviously, this was a destination restaurant for some!

After scanning the menu, realizing I wanted to just keep it light with an appetizer or two, I focused on this:

Bruschetta con Burrata
Grilled garlic bread, arugula, fresh burrata, sherry vinegar-marinated roasted red peppers, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt

I am a SUCKER for burrata cheese, and never can get enough of it. For those who haven't tasted what I consider a heavenly cheese, burrata is a fresh mozzarella that has a soft center made of mozzarella and cream, that when you cut into it it to softly "melts". 

This light appetizer sounded fantastic, and it was indeed (see picture at top of blog). The creamy burrata paired excellent with the arugula and garlicky toast, but the highlight was the small spike of the sherry vinegar with the roasted peppers. All in all, it was so damn simple, but so damn good! I swore, sitting there at Kuleto's bar, that a) I would definitely visit Kuleto's again, and b) that I would recreate this dish at home.

And that is just what I did.


2 red bell peppers, roasted and skin peeled (method to follow)
Sherry vinegar
4 slices ciabatta bread (or sourdough or french - I prefer ciabatta)
Butter  or olive oil (for toasting the bread)
1 clove garlic
1 tub burrata cheese (there are different brands, I prefer Angelo and Franco, available at Whole Foods)
Baby arugula
1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil 
Sel Gris (or any other sea salt - I just prefer Sel Gris, it is a great finishing salt)

First, get to roasting the peppers, I prefer to do it over the flames from my gas range:

Let the skin crackle and burn while turning peppers over to get fully charred:

Once the peppers are completely charred, transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This allows the peppers to cool and also sweat to help in removing the charred skin more easily.

I usually wait about 10 minutes before peeling the skins. 

Once "skinned", slice the peppers and remove all of the seeds:

I usually then trim out the light "membrane" you see in the pic above. 

Then, slice the peppers length-wise into strips, about 1/4" to 1/2" thick:

From here, I just "eye-balled" enough sherry vinegar to coat the peppers. You can add more or less depending on how much of the sherry flavor you feel compliments the peppers. (Note: these peppers can be done ahead of time PLUS can be stored in the fridge for up to a week to use with other dishes)

Next, slice a few slices of ciabatta:

Next, I melt butter and olive oil together to toast the bread (you can do this in the oven or on a grill, but I just prefer to do the bread this way - I find it doesn't get too crispy or dried out, because you want a little "chew" with the bread in this dish):

In goes the bread:

Remove the bread and let it cool for a few minutes on paper towels. Take the garlic clove, slice it in half width-wise, and while the bread is still warm, rub the cut end of the garlic on the bread - this will infuse the garlic flavor into the dish without being super overwhelming.

Last, it is time to assemble:

Place crostini/bread on plate, add some burrata cheese to each crostini, top with a little handful of arugula, some peppers, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, squeeze a little lemon juice all over, and sprinkle some sea salt definitely on top of the cheese as well as the rest of the components. Even a little cracked pepper is nice!

And really, it is as simple as that. And, it was just as good as Kuleto's, if not better.

My Dad happened to be my "guest" for this dish, and he gave it a huge two thumbs up, and in my family, that would be a proper "CHEERS".

Pecans, Popovers, and Pacifiers...A Baby Shower Lunch to "actually" Remember...

This post is dedicated to a BFF and her new beautiful daughter. Catherine, congrats on bringing Jenna into this world. Can't wait to feed her some of her mother's favorite lemon bars, but I will start with your favorite popovers and the great salad from your shower!
I recently co-hosted a shower for one of my pregnant best friends, and of course I planned on creating the menu for the event. We "hosts" decided that a salad would work perfectly for the event (I mean, every ladies shower, wedding or baby, seems to always have a salad) and I would include my homemade popovers as the Mommy-to-Be "LOVES" my popovers (and lemon bars, but that recipe and story will be saved for another post).

But when it came to deciding the salad, we all were a bit, well, stumped. Back in my catering days, I was known for making a salad that became known as "Lesley's Salad" (also, another post to come, and yes, I will finally give up the recipe!). However, I had just made such "salad" for Mommy-to-Be for a shower she had hosted, so that idea was out the window.

So we got to brainstorming about things that we like in salads - I threw out a few "hey, what about this..." and the hosts also chimed in saying "oooh, I love butter lettuce" and "dried cranberries are my favorite". I knew we were onto something good, and if the four of us agreed on the ingredients then for sure the guests would enjoy too!

And, as we expected, the guests LOVED the salad we had created. I mean RAVED. It is a fantastic go-to salad to make for my own guests and friends who continue to praise all of the flavors and textures. One of the hosts had a first birthday party for her daughter recently, and I was beaming when I was asked to help her with the salad for the lunch, and there was OUR salad ingredients from the shower! In that moment, I realized this simple salad was a true winner. Plus, the popovers are such a hit too.

And of course the popover recipe too.

When it is that easy and that good, one must spread the word....

All ingredients are optional, but I would suggest trying this all together!


* butter lettuce (I prefer Fresh Express - Butter Lettuce in the bag/available at most supermarkets)
* dried cranberries
* crumbled goat cheese
* red onion, thinly sliced (like shaved)
* green apple, thinly sliced
* hearts of palm, drained and thinly sliced
* cooked chicken breast, cubed
* candied pecans (if you live in the OC, call Sage Restaurant and buy some - they literally are the best)
* Girard's Champagne Vinagrette (my shortcut)

You can toss all together or toss the lettuce with the dressing and top with the other ingredients

And, as for the popovers, they couldn't be more simple. My Mom found this recipe in the LA Times years ago and it has always been a family staple. And, it doubles and triples really well!

"Blender Popovers"

*2 large eggs
*1 C milk (whole or 2% preferrably)
*1 C sifted All Purpose flour
* 1/4 t salt
*1 oz (2 tbsp) butter, melted plus about 3-4 oz butter melted separately for the popover pan\
(can add any additional ingredients, such as parmesan cheese, chives, rosemary, etc)

* Preheat oven to 375F; place popover pan on top of a cookie sheet and place in oven to preheat (cookie sheet is there to catch any spillage while baking)

* In a blender, add all ingredients and blend to smooth, making sure to scrape down the sides so that there are no lumps 

* Remove the popover pan and cookie sheet and drizzle 4oz melted butter among the popover cups, filling about 1/4"; fill popover cups with popover batter until just shy of 1/4" full


* Place popover pan with cookie sheet in oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes until risen


And there you have it...

A winning salad and fantastic popovers to accompany.

Enjoy and cheers!