Happy Halloween!

We’ve been picking our brains to find the perfect Halloween treat to share.

 Looks like we found our match!

Happy Halloween, Friends!

Photo Courtesy Annie's Eats

Photo Courtesy Annie’s Eats

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Indian Summer Basil & Parsley Vinaigrette

This week, we thought we’d share a recipe written by Allie that will help you soak up the last few days of our Indian Summer here in San Francisco.  This vinaigrette packs a zesty punch, and is the very essence of late summer/early fall flavors.  Not only is it delicious when used to dress your favorite salad greens (such as arugula, raw kale, endive, purslane, spinach and radicchio), it’s also an unexpected delight when tossed with your favorite roasted vegetables (brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, parsnips, and turnips are all currently in season).  If you choose to toss roasted vegetables with this vinaigrette, Allie suggests doing so when the vegetables are hot out of the oven, so that they absorb all of the fresh flavors.

Photo Courtesy Mary Crimmins

Thai and Traditional Basil ~ Photo Courtesy Mary Crimmins

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz fresh basil leaves, stems removed, by weight
  • 1 oz flat-leaf parsley, by weight
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh finely grated pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp kosher salt, to taste
  • Zest from 1 lemon, plus lemon juice to taste

For the Basil/Parsley Oil

  1. Place basil and parsley leaves in a strainer, blanch in rapidly boiling water (that’s been salted so that it tastes like the sea) for one second and remove promptly.
  2. Immediately plunge them into an ice bath that’s also been salted like the sea.  This helps stop the leaves from continuing to cook and locks in their bright color.
  3. Once the leaves are completely cooled, drain the leaves and spread them on clean towels.  Roll them to dry them completely.
  4. Chop all leaves coarsely.
  5. Place in a food processor or vitamix.
  6. Turn on the machine, and while it’s whirring begin to drizzle in the oil until it’s incorporated.
  7. Set up a mesh strainer, lined with two sheets of cheesecloth, that’s been set over a bowl.
  8. Next, pour the mixture into the cheese cloth lined strainer, so that the liquid flows into the bowl, and the solids stay in the cheesecloth. Allow all the oil to drain through at room temperature for a half hour, then use a rubber spatula to press the remaining oil out of the solids.  If you like a little texture to your dressing, you can re-incorporate a tablespoon or so of the solids back into the basil oil.

To finish the dressing:

  1. Whisk the finely grated pecorino cheese into the dressing.  Add a the lemon zest and a small squeeze of lemon juice to taste.  Continue to season with kosher salt and lemon juice until you’ve achieved the proper balance of oil and acid.
roasted tomats

Drizzle over slow roasted late-season tomatoes

Toss with freshly roasted vegetables

Toss with freshly roasted vegetables

Toss with a salad of greens and fresh veggies

Dress a salad of greens and fresh veggies

Enjoy!

Be sure to check out our last recipe for Celery Root and Parsnip Mash!

2013 Trends: Wedding Ceremonies with Lisa Francesca

Happy Fall, everyone!  Our November Trends blog post features the words and wisdom of one of our very favorite officiants, Lisa Francesca. Stacy was first introduced to Lisa by her father, Hank Basayne, who was also an officiant.  Hank was the officiant of the first wedding where Stacy served as an assistant in the Bay Area. Soon after, Hank became a colleague and trusted confidant.

Shortly after Hank’s passing, Stacy began to work more frequently with Lisa. Lisa is kind and has a wonderfully calming presence about her. She is a superb listener and is easy to talk to. Lisa is so well respected in the industry that she is in the process of writing a book, forthcoming in the Fall of 2014, from Chronicle Books.  You can read some samplings of her writing on her website.

Photo by Mark Baumann

Photo by Mark Baumann

First tell us a little bit about yourself, and the scope of your services.

I was born and raised in a multiple-module, multiple-faith family in San Francisco. As such, I began my informal studies on religion and spirituality at the very young age of eight, when I left my home and wandered four blocks to an empty church! I have officiated at weddings and other ceremonies since 2002. My ceremonies range from civil and community-oriented to spiritual to interfaith and intercultural. I believe that love wins, and every adult should be able to marry.

What is your process in terms of getting to know a couple?  How much time do you spend with them prior to their wedding?  How far out are couples hiring you?

I like to spend at least an hour during the initial interview with my couple. We usually meet in person, but often we need to meet by phone or online because they are from other parts of the country.  We often have a second interview to hammer out some parts of the ceremony after they have had time to think about their options. Once I draft the ceremony, I ask them to review it online. I attend the rehearsal and am basically on call for anything they might want to discuss from the first interview through their wedding day.

Ceremonies come in all shapes and sizes.  What are the first steps a couple should take when drafting their ceremony?

I encourage a couple to think about their ceremony from the inside out. An easy first step would be to start thinking about what kind of vows they want to make to each other. That is the kernel, the essence of the ceremony. Everything else is the frosting on the cake.

The second step should be an examination of the outside: how long do they want their ceremony to last? This will depend, frankly, on the comfort of their guests. They can go longer, adding more elements, if their guests are appropriately seated and shaded from the sun.

Photo by Gertrude and Mabel

Photo by Gertrude and Mabel

How much personality do you suggest couples incorporate into their ceremony?  Is there a time when the couple should defer to traditional practices?

Great question! Personally, I am not “married” to traditional practices at all. A legal ceremony can be as brief as “Do you?” “I do.” Any ceremony choices after that should be all about the couple’s unique personalities.

How long do ceremonies typically take place?  What is your ideal length of ceremony?

A typical American wedding takes between ten and forty minutes. If you are in the hot sun at a beach, ten is better. But usually twenty or thirty minutes is best for everyone. Any shorter and they will wonder what just happened. Much longer, and guests might begin to fidget. This is not to disparage wedding masses, which can take hours, and Hindu ceremonies, which can take days.

Photo by Meera Fox

Photo by Meera Fox

What is the most unique ceremony you’ve ever been a part of?

I had to think a long time about this question. I think my own wedding in 2004 was perhaps the most unique in terms of sheer variety in faiths. My Humanist minister father married my husband and me. Our ceremony included readings from a Jewish sister and a Baptist brother, and a Buddhist sibling led Grace at our reception.

What is the one thing you’d advise couples against when they’re working to create their ceremony?

Don’t feel the need to try to memorize your vows. You don’t need to add anything to the pressures of an already exciting day. As the officiant, I always have the vows written down for my couples.

Photo by  Kate Harrison Photography

Photo by Kate Harrison Photography

To write vows, or not to write vows – that is the question.  When do you suggest couples make the decision to write their own vows?

Each participant must feel comfortable reading something personal in front of a group. If one just feels nothing but terror at the prospect, it is far better to just limit the speaking to “I do.”

What is your all time favorite ceremony reading?

A: I wish I had just one, but I keep finding new ones to add to my list of favorites. As I am preparing for a wedding in October, I have been researching Slovenian poets and finding new poems to love.

What should couples keep in mind when choosing their readings?

The readings should enhance the tone you want for your wedding.  What three adjectives describe how you want your ceremony to feel? If you want romance and passion, try poetry by Octavio Paz, or D.H. Lawrence. Or you may prefer the simple, plain-speaking piece of advice from Hugh Prather. If you’re looking for a poem about nature, check out Mary Oliver or Jane Hirschfield. If you’re hoping for more humorous and whimsical literature, try something like Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein.

Here’s a Shel Silverstein poem we’re particularly fond of:

IMG_4349

by Shel Silverstein

Thank you, Lisa!

To learn more about Francesca or to contact her directly, please visit her website.

In case you missed it, be sure to read our September installment of Trends, featuring Bridal Party Jewelry with AJ Stout of Stella & Dot

Questions for Stacy: First Look versus a Ceremony Entrance

Question:

Hi Stacy.  I recently hired a photographer, and they want to know if we are going to do a “First Look” or wait until after the ceremony to take photos.  Can you explain what a First Look is, as well as the pros and cons of each option?

 Answer:

A First Look is a special moment where the Bride and Groom get to see one another before the ceremony. Often times photographers will stage this so the Groom is located in an private area with his back to where the Bride will appear. One of the biggest pros of choosing to do a First Look is that it gives you an opportunity to take some photographs prior to the ceremony, which often times relaxes the couple from any pre-wedding jitters. Another big plus is that couples are then able to join their guests for cocktail hour, since they won’t spend that time taking photos. We commonly see Bridal Party photos taken after the First Look, followed by a short session of joint family photos. On the other hand, some couples feel that having a First Look takes away from the big reveal as the Bride walks down the aisle. Not to worry, this moment is still just as unforgettable when a First Look takes place.

Choosing to wait to see each other until the Bride walks down is definitely more traditional. The biggest pro is that the Bride and Groom get to experience that incredible moment as the bride walks down the aisle. After the ceremony, both Bridal Party and joint family photos take place. The Bride and Groom are then photographed alone in a secluded setting. This is a good option for couples who are not concerned with joining cocktail hour, as capturing all of these photographs will most likely take up the entire hour.

Now smile and say cheese!

Cheers,

Stacy

Photo by Yvonne Wong Photography

Photo by Yvonne Wong Photography

Click here to read our last helpful Questions for Stacy blog entry, which addresses wedding registries!