Bonjour mes amis! Apologies for going AWOL on y’all the past few months. I’ve been contending with some health issues including emergency surgery here in Paris but I’m finally getting my energy back and am ready to cook!

My last Phenomenal Women Dinner was so heartwarming I thought I’d try it on the other side of the ocean so this winter when I was back in San Francisco, I gathered my posse for lunch and toasted to another group of phenomenal women….sans shoe. As I was planning the meal a few days before, I realized I’d left my fabulous chocolate stilleto back in Paris. Quelle horreur! What to do?! I needed something fabulous on the table to salute these fabulous women so rather than print the inspiring Maya Angelou poem, Phenomenal Women, on the back of the menu like I did previously, I decided to buy everyone the single poem book adorned with Paul Gaugin’s “Woman with a Fan”. Thank God for and 2-day delivery!

Of course a meal chez moi isn’t complete without a culinary disaster and this one was no excpetion. The evening before I realized my immersion blender was back in Paris in good company with my chocolate stilleto. AAAAAAAK! How was I going to puree the soup?! I rushed off to the store minutes before it closed. They only had the cordless kind that plugged into the wall to charge. Fine. Whatever. Ring it up. I plugged the blender into the wall and went to sleep.

The next morning as guest arrival time was quickly approaching, we went to blend the soup and my trusty new immersion blender whirred for about 28 seconds then sputtered out. AAAAAAAK! It needed to charge for 24 hours. Damn! I dug out my 10 year old Cuisinart, washed off the inch and a half of dust and grime from 9-1/2 years of sitting in the box, and started blending in batches. Disaster averted. It was still too thick but at least it didn’t look like cat hurl anymore. I topped the soup with a star shaped slice of beet and a drizzle of truffle oil. Et voila!

Dejeuner des Femme Phenomenale!
Phenomenal Woman Lunch!

Piper Champagne Brut Imperial
Gougeres de Comte – Comte Cheese Gougeres

Domaine de Viking, Vouvray 2000
Potage de Panais et Celeriac – Parsnip and Celeriac Soup

(not my plates!)

Salade des Coquilles Saint-Jacques, Salade Verte avec Vinaigrette des Framboises – Mixed Green Salad with Sauteed Scallops, Raspberry Vinaigrette

Asperges Vertes et Blanches – White and Green Asparagus

Savigny-Narbantons Premier Cru 2004 – Camus-Bruchon et Fils
Assiette des Fromages – Cheese Plate

Decadence de Chocolat avec Jus de Clementine – Chocolate Decadence with Odwalla Tangerine Reduction


Seared Scallops on Mixed Greens & Beets with Raspberry Champagne Vinaigrette – serves 4

20 scallops (5 per person)
olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
4 handfuls of mixed greens
roast beets (small beets quartered, large beets in eighths, 6 pieces per person)
1/2 cup champagne
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup raspberries, mashed with a fork
1-1/2 cups light flavored olive oil or vegetable oil

1. Make vinaigrette. Combine champagne, raspberries, shallot, salt & pepper. Smoosh raspberries with a fork. Slowly whisk in oil.

2. Heat a pan over medium heat with olive oil. Sauté scallops until golden brown on each side.

3. While scallops are cooking, toss greens and beets separately with vinaigrette. Season greens with sea salt & fresh ground pepper as needed.

4. Place greens and beets on half the plate. Place asparagus spears on the other half of the plate.

5. Place 5 scallops in a circle on greens and serve.

Roasted Asparagus – serves 4

1 bunch asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves chopped garlic
zest of 1 lemon
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

1. Heat oven to 400F.

2. Snap off bottoms of asparagus. Peel a few inches up from bottom with harp peeler.

3. Place asparagus on sheet pan with foil. Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic, lemon zest.

4. Roast for approximately 10-15 minutes.

5. Serve warm or let cool and serve at room temperature.


1. set table night before
2. chill champagne, water
3. peel, cube and roast celeriac and parsnips
4. saute onions, leeks
5. cook soup
6. make chocolate batter
7. gougeres mis en place (set out all ingredients)
8. prep asparagus
9. reduce mandarin juice
10. prep beets (cut 10 stars, quarter the rest)
11. prep greens
12. prep scallops
13. make vinaigrette
14. make gougeres
(guests arrive. serve champagne, gougeres)
15. roast asparagus
16. warm bowls
17. serve soup
(saute scallops)
18. serve salad
19. serve cheese course
(bake chocolate dessert)
20. serve dessert!

Bon appetit!

Dejeuner des Femme Phenomenale 12 May,2007Cucina Testa Rossa

  • jgl

    You’ve been missed. Welcome back! Wonderful menus and spectacular photos, as always. Hope to continue to see your writings on Bay Area Bites.

  • cucina testa rossa

    jgl ~ thank you so much for your kind words! i’ve missed hanging out here to! see you next saturday…merci encore, laura


Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world’s most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin’s PBS cooking show, “Fast Food, My Way”, Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. “More Fast Food, My Way” should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

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