Steamed Clams in White Wine

Steamed clams in white wine
Steamed clams in white wine

The idea to make this recipe started when we were asked to bring over an appetizer/starter for an Italian-themed dinner one weekend. We knew mussels were coming into season, I had been wanting to try cooking shellfish, and Jeremy and I both love the mussels in white wine dish that’s available at quite a few of our favorite restaurants, so all those factors led us to opting to prepare that to bring over to the Golds for dinner. We visited our local fish monger early that morning but the mussels had not come in yet, all he had were clams. Figuring they couldn’t be that different we opted for those and headed back to the house. A quick Google search yielded this steamed clams in white wine recipe and it is perfect. I did feel a bit bad when we dropped the clams into the hot broth, but despite that we were well rewarded with a tasty dish. Just the right amount of citrus, butter and wine, topped with parsley and served with fresh foccacia, it’s wonderful how something so simple can taste so amazing when you have good ingredients. We did add a tablespoon or so of clam juice just to up the salty/brine-y/clam-y flavor but that was the only tweak to the recipe.

Jeremy and I later made this same dish but turned it into an entree and served it over linguini, also recommended.


Thanksgiving 2014

  • IMG_3548
  • Dry brined spatchcocked roast turkey
    Dry brined spatchcocked roast turkey
  • Sausage Stuffing
    Sausage Stuffing
  • Green Bean Casserole
    Green Bean Casserole
  • Mashed Potatoes
    Mashed Potatoes
  • Brussel Sprout Gratin
    Brussel Sprout Gratin
  • Thanksgiving Dinner 2014
    Thanksgiving Dinner 2014
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
    Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

We always try to start off with a fun cocktail of some kind for special occasion dinners. I had been chatting with Jeremy’s mom trying to think of a good cocktail, and also trying to find a good “standard” cocktail that I’m willing to order at any bar as a fallback drink, and Eileen suggested Southern Comfort Sours. I remember back in grad school enjoying “SoCo & Coke” so figured it was worth a shot…yum, to me, with the homemade sour mix (simple syrup, lemon and lime juice) the drink tastes like a SweetTart.

We have been brining the turkey for as long as I’ve been in charge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner but this year we opted to “dry-brine” on the recommendation of Serious Eats (plus, it saves fridge space since we don’t have to submerge the bird). So with some help from my dad (I couldn’t cut the backbone out myself) I spatchcocked the turkey, covered it with the dry brine overnight, and day of covered it with herb butter and roasted it to temperature, it only took 80 minutes for a 12 pound turkey. So dry-brined herb-rubbed spatchcocked roast turkey? Marked down as my new favorite way to go, the skin was super crisp (courtesy of the dry brine with baking powder) and, per usual when cooking poultry to temperature not to time, very moist.

The green bean casserole recipe is a Thanksgiving standard and the only variation I do is to make the mushroom sauce from scratch rather than courtesy of Campbell’s soup. My recipe is based off of Martha Stewart’s green bean casserole but I add a bit of cayenne pepper and go the traditional route of French’s fried onions rather than making my own topping with shallots.

The stuffing is one that I never really use a recipe for but is based off of this sausage and apple stuffing I saw made on “Party Line with the Hearty Boys” on Food Network way back when. I’ve omitted the cranberries since then and use sourdough bread cubes (bread courtesy of Blackbird Bakery in Williamsburg) and this time around we didn’t actually have poultry seasoning so I made our own seasoning blend (sage, thyme, rosemary, black pepper), and I think it actually tasted better that way.

Mashed potatoes, pretty standard with lots of butter (is there any other way?)

The new dish this year was one that Jeremy came across on Serious Eats. Typically we’ve had brussel sprouts with bacon but this year, we went all out and tried this Creamy, Cheesy Brussel Sprout Gratin. Wow was it rich and decadent, a totally different dish than usual with the brussel sprouts, but very tasty.

We made two pies this year, strawberry rhubarb and pumpkin, and made the crust according to Michael Ruhlman’s ratio (3 parts flour : 2 parts fat : 1 part liquid). Jeremy had had success before with this crust recipe using all butter so that’s the way I went and it turned out very well. It was a bit crazy seeing all the butter bubbling away in the oven through the clear glass pie plate but the crust was pretty tender and very flaky with lots of crisp on the edges. Next time I may introduce a little bit of lard/shortening to get a little more tender crumb but overall the crust, and the pies, were delicious.


Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback potatoes
Hasselback potatoes

I saw this technique for Hasselback Potatoes go by on a food blog or two this fall and we decided to try it out to go along with pork chops one weekend for dinner. I can’t track down which specific recipe I used but the preparation was pretty straightforward. Slice almost all the way through the potatoes, brush with butter/olive oil, season liberally, we stuck some sliced garlic and whole sage leaves in between some slices (to go with the pork) and popped them in the oven at 400 degrees or so. Problem was, we didn’t allow enough time for the potatoes to cook before the pork was ready, the top part was done (but not really crispy, which is the goal) but the bottom was still a bit toothsome. Timing multiple dishes has always been an Achilles heel of mine and I think this dish fell prey to that. I definitely want to try this again though and allow lots of time to cook the potatoes. Although this variation turning the dish into a Hasselback Potato Gratin Casserole looks pretty delicious too.


Homemade Soft Pretzels

  • Dipping the pretzels into the baking soda solution
    Dipping the pretzels into the baking soda solution
  • Salting the pretzels (we used kosher)
    Salting the pretzels (we used kosher)
  • Fresh from the oven
    Fresh from the oven
  • The final product
    The final product

Jeremy and I saw this on Alton Brown’s Good Eats many years ago and both of us love soft pretzels, so one day we decided to finally try and make them at home with Alton Brown’s homemade soft pretzel recipe. Although food-grade lye is the ideal way to get the lovely caramel colored crust on soft pretzels, this more home-friendly version uses baking soda instead. The results? Pretty awesome and tastes very much like a “real” soft pretzel, same salty and slightly tangy flavor, firm outer crust and a good chewy interior texture. They weren’t as awesome heated up the next day (we’d stored them in the fridge) and the big grains of salt had kind of melted into the pretzel, but still good flavor nonetheless. Note for next time, either eat them all fresh or store them at room temperature somewhere they will stay dry.


2nd Wedding Anniversary Tasting Menu – Silt, Williamsburg VA

  • The menu
    The menu
  • Pre-dinner cocktails
    Pre-dinner cocktails
  • London Fog
    London Fog
  • Oyster shooter
    Oyster shooter
  • Salted peach and bacon goat cheese salad
    Salted peach and bacon goat cheese salad
  • Seared foie gras with maple mango gilee
    Seared foie gras with maple mango gilee
  • Crispy pork belly with Southern fried mac and cheese
    Crispy pork belly with Southern fried mac and cheese
  • Line caught corvina with savory bread pudding
    Line caught corvina with savory bread pudding
  • Grilled lamb with charred radishes and romeo carrots
    Grilled lamb with charred radishes and romeo carrots
  • Diamondback #6
    Diamondback #6
  • Duo of desserts: apple mango cobbler and chocolate pecan pie
    Duo of desserts: apple mango cobbler and chocolate pecan pie

Silt opened this year in Williamsburg filling in where Le Yaca used to be near the Busch Gardens side of town. and after our first visit we were enchanted. I celebrated my birthday here and we knew we wanted to try their tasting menu, so our anniversary was the next major occasion for us to celebrate. The food is Southern inspired but with lots of local and seasonal ingredients. Along with the tasty food conceived by Executive Chef Nelson Miller they have a great cocktail list courtesy of bar manager Amber. They took great care of us this evening with a delicious tasting menu with wine pairing and I know we will be back!


Oyster Shooter
James River Fog

Salted Peach and Bacon Goat Cheese Salad
2013 Basel Cellars Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc

Seared Foie Gras with Maple Mango Gilee
2011 Ch. Doisy Daene Sauternes

Crispy Pork Belly with Souther Fried Mac and Cheese
2012 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Line Caught Corvina with Savory Bread Pudding
2010 Basel Cellars Estate Claret

Grilled Lamb with Charred Radishes and Romeo Carrots
2012 K Vintners Milbrandt Syrah

Duo of Desserts: Apple Mango Cobbler and Chocolate Pecan Pie
Diamondback #6


Warm Potato Salad with Grainy Mustard

This is a go-to dish for me during the summer. Healthier than traditional mayonnaise-based potato salad but with lots of flavor and it pairs well with lots of different dishes, especially anything grilled. The tanginess from the mustard pairs really well the the caramelized and grilled flavors.

I have used all different kinds of potatoes for this dish. The little new potatoes are fun and bite sized but really any potato (skins kept on please) works well, I will usually opt for Yukon Golds or red-skinned potatoes if the new potatoes are nowhere to be found.


August Birthday Celebration – Tasting Menu at One Market San Francisco

  • One Market Tasting Menu
  • Amuse bouche
    Amuse bouche
  • Avocado Gazpacho
    Avocado Gazpacho, kampachi, toy box tomato, opal basil
  • Lamb's tongue
    Lamb's tongue, lambs lettuce, asian pear, puffed quinoa
  • Grilled octopus
    Grilled octopus, rancho gordo white beans, lovage, celery
  • Lightly smoked wild king salmon 'mi cuit'
    Lightly smoked wild king salmon 'mi cuit', potato rosti, pancetta vinaigrette, quail egg
  • Seared scallop
    Seared scallop, mushrooms, parsnip puree
  • Pan seared red snapper
    Pan seared red snapper, english peas, mashed carrots, olive oil emulsion
  • Roasted Liberty Farms duck breast
    Roasted Liberty Farms duck breast, sunchoke, duck andouille sausage, hazelnut granola, chocolate
  • Dessert tasting, part 1
    Dessert tasting, part 1
  • Dessert tasting, part 2
    Dessert tasting, part 2 (that Jeremy and I helped to prepare by brulee-ing and plate decorating)
  • Dessert tasting, part 3
    Dessert tasting, part 3

We had a wonderful time at One Market. We were able to secure the Chef’s Table for the evening so we sat in the kitchen and were able to see all the preparations for most of our meal along with the impressive assembly line they had going for a large dinner party going on at the same time. We were treated wonderfully by all of the staff and even got an extra mini tour of their wine cellar. As part of the evening Jeremy and I also got to assist in preparing the desserts, brûlée our creme brûlée and decorating the plates with various sauces. A fantastic evening and very highly recommended if you are in the Bay area.


Avocado Gazpacho
kampachi, toy box tomato, opal basil

Lamb’s Tongue
lambs lettuce, asian pear, puffed quinoa

Grilled Octopus
rancho gordo white beans, lovage, celery

Lightly Smoked Wild King Salmon “Mi Cuit”
potato rosti, pancetta vinaigrette, quail egg

Seared Scallop*
mushrooms, parsnip puree (*bonus course!)

Pan-seared Red Snapper
english peas, mashed carrots, olive oil emulsion

Roasted Liberty Farms Duck Breast
sunchoke, duck andouille sausage, hazelnut granola, chocolate

Dessert Tasting


California Wine Country trip

  • The view from dinner at Trinchero
    The view from dinner at Trinchero
  • Breakfast at Sutter Home
    Breakfast at Sutter Home
  • Jeremy and I waiting outside Rutherford Grill
    Jeremy and I waiting outside Rutherford Grill
  • The view at Round Pond
    The view at Round Pond
  • La Luna Market menu
    La Luna Market menu
  • Tasting at Elizabeth Spencer
    Tasting at Elizabeth Spencer
  • Barrel Room at Mondavi
    Barrel Room at Mondavi
  • Jeremy and I in aforementioned Mondavi barrel room.
    Jeremy and I in aforementioned Mondavi barrel room.
  • Summer vegetable salad with burrata cheese croquette, part of lunch at Mondavi
    Summer vegetable salad with burrata cheese croquette, part of lunch at Mondavi
  • Jeremy and me in amongst the vineyards at Mondavi.
    Jeremy and me in amongst the vineyards at Mondavi.
  • Birthday dessert at One Market
    Birthday dessert at One Market

Additional photos are up on Flickr

Day 0

The day started at 3am, for our 6:30am flight out of Richmond. Thankfully all of the flights were on time (after a brief scare the previous afternoon with our original SFO flight getting cancelled, thankfully TripIt notified us immediately and we were able to get a flight less than an hour later). Our travel mates, Jess and Eric, were on a flight that arrived at 2:30pm so when we landed at noon we grabbed our bags from baggage claim, picked up the rental car and headed to the nearest In-n-Out Burger for lunch. The place was so packed that after 15 minutes of trolling the parking lot for a spot we opted to go through the drive through…two cheeseburgers “Animal Style” with fries and drinks, a fitting beginning to the week. We camped out in the cell phone lot at the airport, ate our lunch and chilled until the Golds arrived. Even sitting in a shade-less airport parking lot is enjoyable when it’s 75 degrees with a lovely breeze coming off the mountains, oh northern California and your great weather.

Once we picked up the Golds we made an immediate departure for St. Helena as we had an appointment at 5pm at Trinchero for a reception and a pizza dinner at 5:30. However, the traffic was not in our favor and we didn’t arrive until 5:30. Despite our late arrival our hosts were very gracious and ushered us past a beautifully appointed kitchen through to a dining room set for five that had floor to ceiling windows that looked out through the vineyards and surrounding valley. Definitely a nice way to start out the trip. We were pleasantly surprised to find the dinner was not pizza, but a multi-course meal paired with five wines.

We started with assorted cheeses and fresh baguette with estate-grown olive oil and a sparkling white. Followed by Sauvignon Blanc paired with a delicious heirloom tomato salad with micro basil and burrata cheese (my love for burrata begins!). The main course was Kobe loin cooked a perfect medium with creme fraiche polenta and yellow carrots with 2010 and 2011 Cabernets. It was very interesting contrasting the two wines, both from the same grape and the same general region but with vastly different flavors and aromas. One was more herbal and green peppery and the other was more of a familiar Cab flavor as it was the same region that Elizabeth Spencer grows their grapes in. The final course was a dark chocolate mousse paired with port. The whole meal was excellent and the lead wine educator for Trinchero joined us for the evening so we had great conversation about the wines and the area.

Once we were finished with dinner we headed to the Vineyard Country Inn, our lodging for the first two nights. The Inn is right on the main road through the valley (29) and is a collection of small bungalow style buildings. Our suite has a separate living room with small fridge and sink, then two double beds with a porch off the back facing the adjoining vineyards and a mountain backdrop. We made quick use of the hot tub and pool when we arrived, then headed back to the room to enjoy some Sauvignon Blanc that we were given at dinner. Afterwards we all called for an early bedtime, being up since 3am EST (with an hour nap on the plane) with lots of traveling made a 9:30pm PST bedtime very welcome.

Day 1

The morning started off pretty early as we all were still kind of on East coast time, with everyone awake by 6:15am. We sat on the porch, enjoying the views and watching the sunrise and then got ready for breakfast at Sutter House. Since we had gotten up early we walked down the road and spent some time at the nearby Dean & Deluca store (the highest grossing store in the country) before walking to have breakfast at Sutter House. We were treated to fresh squeezed orange juice and Illy coffee to start. The breakfast had a southwest flair with a black bean and corn omelette/casserole, amazingly crunchy bacon, mango habanero sausage, fresh berries, sheep’s milk yogurt, and delicate and crunchy lemon poppyseed scones. We ate our fill (got to have a good base for wine tasting) and then walked back to the hotel to relax for a bit before heading to our first tasting of the trip at Sequoia Grove.

We were met at the Sequoia Grove tasting room by a wall of huge bottles of their wine, each etched with the two trees that are the namesake of the winery. We enjoyed a full tasting of their wines, a rose, Chardonnay (lightly oaked with no ML fermentation), Sauvignon Blanc, Cab Franc (much different than VA, more fruit forward), Merlot, and multiple Cabernet Sauvignon (blends and three single vineyards). We were then taken to the vines where our guide checked the sugars on the grapes with a little telescope like contraption. We went past the mobile bottling facility that was set up today and past the fermentation tanks into their barrel cellar. 1400 barrels and we were able to taste a 2013 single vineyard cab from the barrel, much sweeter and nowhere near as complex (as one would expect) compared to what we tasted earlier.

Afterwards we headed to downtown St. Helena for lunch at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. The day was getting warm but we opted to sit outside, the table we chose had been shaded but unfortunately didn’t stay that way for long so we were pretty hot by the end of the meal. We ordered a bruschetta appetizer with fig, prosciutto, ricotta and a micro green salad on top. Eric and I each had their highly recommended duck burger (quite tasty, seared well, although perhaps slightly dry and very simply dressed with a nice thin bun and grilled marinated mushrooms). Jess had their adult grilled cheese (option rotates daily, today was a pepper aioli and mozzarella on a walnut bread) with polenta fries and Jeremy had their beef burger.

After lunch we wandered through the various antique stores, wine shops and galleries along Main Street and then headed back to the hotel to cool off for a bit before heading back to Trinchero for their full tasting.

We were met by Sandra at Trinchero and sat in their huge deep sofas with tastes of two Sauvignon Blancs while she recounted the story of how the Trinchero family got into the wine business (a very fun story, White Zinfandel was created thanks to four hot days one summer, and that one fluke brought the winery from barely making it to highly profitable in just a few years). We then tasted a Merlot, two Cabs and a Meritage.

We went to Market for dinner where Jeremy and Jess had jalapeño ginger cocktails and Eric and I had California pilsners. I started with a cucumber avocado soup with mint, creme fraiche and yogurt (a cold soup). The guys had a watercress and potato soup made with cream and cheddar cheese. Both soups were amazing. Jess and Jeremy had fried chicken for their entree, Eric had ribs and I had a very tasty Parmesan Mac and cheese. Everyone was so full from dinner we opted out of dessert and headed back to the hotel. We started up a fire (aka lit a dura flame log) and sat in the living room vegging for a bit before heading to bed.

Day 2

This morning everyone was able to sleep in a bit more, time adjustment is slowly taking place. We headed to breakfast at Sutter Home again (vegetable frittata, maple sausage and bacon, blueberry galette, sheep’s milk yogurt and strawberries) and then stopped by the grocery store for a cheap cooler (to keep the wine we’ve already purchased cool while we are out until we get to the AirBnB spot this evening), packed up the hotel room and headed to the first tasting of the day at Whitehall Lane.

…And here’s where by the end of each day I was too tired to write up a blog post. So, for posterity if nothing else, here’s the itinerary from the last days of the trip.

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6 (Jeremy’s birthday)


#heweb13 poster: Deciphering Facebook Insights

This year for the HighEdWeb conference I presented a poster, Deciphering Facebook Insights. I received lots of great questions from the attendees and have lots of ideas coming back to W&M both from the poster session, and the conference as a whole. This event is always a great time, with lots of amazing knowledge and educational experiences being shared and it’s also a great opportunity to catch up, in person, with all the folks that I typically only get to interact with via email or Twitter. Definitely looking forward to seeing everyone again in Portland next year (or maybe sooner?).

Recommended Facebook Insights Resources
New Insights
EdgeRank and News Feed
Tips on utilizing the “full” Post and Page Insights data exports

Hey good lookin’…introducing W&M’s new responsive design

Cross-posted from the W&M Creative Services Blog

Back in April we mentioned that we were working on a new responsive design for the main W&M website (, and after a few browser fights (thanks Internet Explorer), a dozen test devices and many hours coding and tweaking, we launched our new design on July 23, 2013. (Grad school sites will follow suit in the coming months.) Now every office, every academic department and every other page on the W&M site adjusts its layout to best accommodate how you are viewing the site, regardless of what device you’re using (desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile).

The announcement

To announce the launch our office made a little stop-motion video (our first!) starring the computers, phones and tablets of various Creative Services staff members:

The motivation

Desktop/laptop view of the W&M website. The green bar on the left is the page navigation, center light tan area is the main content, and the darker tan boxes down the right side are the supplementary content.

The idea behind this change was spurred in large part by the fact that our mobile and tablet visits have gone from less than 2% of our site traffic in 2009 to over 17% of our traffic this summer. With so many mobile and tablet visitors (and more sure to come) we wanted to ensure everyone could easily navigate and view all of the content on our website, not just our homepage (which we made responsive last year).


So what was involved in this redesign? Up first was evaluating which parts of any given page are the most important, and it is, unsurprisingly, the main content. That main content is why you search Google, click a link in a social media post, or work your way through navigation menus. This needs to be front and center (and top) regardless of how you are looking at the website. So, after our global site navigation and header, the most prominent thing you will see is always the main content. We then ordered the rest of the content: page navigation, supplementary content, etc.

The major changes

Tablet view. Here the right column has been moved below the main content area and the top “global” site navigation has been adjusted from one row to three.

As you begin decreasing the width of your browser window we adjust the global navigation to become three columns rather than one row (since the single row will no longer fit).

We then move the right column, which contains “widgets” with photos, Twitter feeds, related links and other supplementary content, down below the main content area.

So, with this first batch of changes nothing is removed, only rearranged to best showcase the content (this is a key feature of responsive design). Once the page width is even narrower, the menu on the left side of the page drops down below the main content as well (keeping its familiar green background for continuity). However, keeping in mind that page navigation is a useful and important part of the page, we provide a “Site Menu” link so you can quickly get to that area when you need to. In between all of these steps the content is stretched to fit the width of the page, and photos and tables are resized to be as visible as possible.

Those with a careful eye may also notice a few style tweaks, all made to enhance the user experience. We removed busy lines from the menus, adjusted the color and size of the content headings, and increased the font size and line height of the content. All of these updates were made to give the site a bit more space to “breathe” and to make things easier to read. We also ensured that our treatment of text links is consistent throughout the site, helping with the overall usability of the site—if a word is bright green (underlined or not) it is always a link.

Cheap as free “mobile version” for all, no app needed

Mobile view. A link to the site menu replaces the menu itself and the main content comes up front and center, with supplementary content following.

One of the best parts about a responsive design is that it is a seamless improvement for the folks creating the web content. Nothing changed in Cascade (our web content management system) from the web editor’s perspective. They still enter their page title, content, photos, links and so forth, just as they always have, except now the content they entered is mobile (and tablet and desktop) “friendly.”

What’s next

Currently our team is focusing on updating our four graduate school sites with their own responsive designs. Along the way we’ll also be making a variety of supporting sites responsive (those W&M sites not hosted in Cascade, like the directoryW&M Experts and W&M Events).

What do you think of our new design?