Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Lay's Supports Iconic Restaurants & You Should Too

I don’t have to tell you that restaurants are suffering. In the beginning of the pandemic many launched GoFundMe style campaigns to try and stay afloat. Restaurants also keep pivoting from offering pantry staples to meal kits, cooking classes, take out, delivery and more to make up for the loss of their normal business. 

Independent restaurants numbered 500,000 before the pandemic and employed over 11 million people according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition and some industry analysts believe 2/3 of restaurants will not survive the crisis in the US. Yelp data shows 26,160 restaurants have closed as of the end of July.  Restaurants are pushing for a $120B Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund. You can ask your representatives to support this initiative.  

Since 2104 Lay’s has offered limited edition “flavor icon” potato chips that honor classic dishes. In past years there’s been Everything Bagel and Cream Cheese, Fried Green Tomato, and even Crispy Taco. This year they honor four restaurants and dishes, and in light of the pandemic, they are giving a $25,000 Gratitude Fund to each of the Flavor Icons restaurants to put towards the various relief efforts that will help them recover from the impact of the pandemic. The potato chips contain no artificial flavors. 

I got a chance to try four flavors: 

Wavy Carnitas Street Taco flavored inspired by El Torito

Notes of bacon, onion and corn, which is interesting in a potato chip. Good for dipping. 

My favorite of all the flavors.  

Kettle Cooked New York Style Pizza flavored inspired by Grimaldi's

I get a combination of tomato sauce and cheese. 

They would go great with a grilled cheese sandwich. 

Philly Cheesesteak flavored inspired by Geno's Steaks

Very beefy, umami notes not as much cheese flavor as I expected. 

I would actually like to try these with or in a roast beef sandwich. 

Nashville Hot Chicken flavored inspired by Partry Fowl

Spicy! Not very chicken-y though. 

These will be popular with barbecue potato chip lovers. 

So what’s iconic where you live? If you can, support the restaurants you love, for many of them, it’s now or never. 

Disclaimer: My thanks to Lay's for providing samples for me to try.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pandemic Provisions

Shopping for groceries has changed and it may be permanent. Restaurant suppliers have had to pivot to stay afloat. The good news is that they are now selling more to consumers than ever before and most say they plan to continue to do so. I wrote about this development over at Martha Stewart, but I thought I’d also share a few of the places where I’ve personally been shopping and that have been recommended to me. The benefits include better social distancing but also fresher food and support for farmers, fishers and ranchers. 

I've also been buying dumplings, ramen, baked goods and taking cook-along classes at home, I'll share the details on those soon along with a list of where to find great takeout and delivery options. 

Fresh produce 
I often shop at the farmers market, but right now I am really enjoying the produce boxes from Tomatero Farm. They are only $20 and are delivered weekly around the San Francisco Bay Area. They include a wide variety of produce and sometimes a basket or two of their fantastic strawberries. I find one box is good for almost 2 weeks for my household of two. The box varies from week to week. This week the box had fennel, zucchini, curly kale, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, a small cauliflower and savoy cabbage and 2 baskets of strawberries. I’ve also purchased the strawberries by the flat ($30). The boxes often sell out, so get on their mailing list and order promptly! 

Seafood & meat 
I’ve ordered from both Four Star Seafood and Water2Table. They both offer a lot of incredibly fresh seafood, some of it local, and great prices and service. I’ve enjoyed fresh local salmon and black cod as well as excellent shrimp, mussels and monkfish. Water2Table is located on Pier 45 where a massive fire recently took place, but they hope to reopen soon.  Four Star Seafood also offers meal kits, pantry items, meat and even foraged ingredients. They each have different minimums, and offer delivery or pick up and shipping for the rest of California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Arizona. I have also heard good things about ABS Seafood, a top choice for sushi grade seafood. They are also located on Pier 45 so stay tuned for their reopening. One more seafood purveyor I haven't used but was recommended is TwoXSea

I just got my first order from Liberty Ducks, a local company based in Sonoma who is now selling directly to consumers. I believe the minimum order is $50 and they deliver fairly widely. The frozen product is particularly economical. You may want to consider sharing an order with family, friends or neighbors. They also ship nationwide.

There are lots of options for grocery delivery from restaurant suppliers, but the one that intrigues me the most is Cheetah. They have an app for ordering and have turned their trucks into mobile delivery locations around the Bay Area. You order, pay and then head to a convenient spot for pick up and there is no minimum purchase requirement so you don't have to order more than you need. Some items are fairly large, but others are not. Again, I’d recommend you consider ordering with others if the quantities don’t work for you. If you're looking for other restaurant suppliers with broader distribution, take a look at my article at Martha Stewart for tips. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dijon Mustard Black Cod with Cabbage & Potatoes

Black cod sheet pan supper
I know a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of cooking fish. A fillet of fish can sometimes fall apart when you cook it and because it’s expensive you don’t want to ruin it by undercooking or overcooking. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, it’s hard to mess up black cod. This recipe is actually a sheet pan supper, which makes both the cooking and clean up particularly easy. 

Black cod also known as gindara, sablefish or butterfish, is incredibly rich. The names are a bit confusing since it’s not actually butterfish or a member of the cod family. Butterfish is the name used for a popular misoyaki style of cooking it, popularized by Chef Nobu. It’s also popular smoked like salmon and is sometimes just referred to as sable. It is sustainable and caught along the Pacific coast from Baja up to Alaska. 

Recently I discovered several recipes for black cod using Dijon mustard. When I think about Dijon mustard my mind goes to sausages, and the combination of cabbage, onions, apples and potatoes. If there was ever a fish as rich as a sausage, it’s black cod.  The key to the recipe is layering most of the ingredients in thin slices so they cook quickly and evenly. 

Note: You can easily scale the recipe up or down but do not substitute cod for black cod. That would be a big mistake. They are not the same species and cannot be cooked the same way. Black cod has 30 grams of fat in a 151 gram portion, whereas Atlantic cod has 1.5 grams of fat in a 231 gram portion. 

Dijon Mustard Black Cod with Cabbage & Potatoes

Makes 4 servings 


2 Tablespoons oil, divided
1 medium savoy cabbage
1 large yellow onion, peeled
1 Fuji apple
4 Yukon gold potatoes
4 filets black cod, about 4 ounces each
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Dijon vinaigrette
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

Remove the core from the cabbage and slice into thick slices, about 1/3 inch. Thinly slice the onion, apple and potatoes, you do not need to peel the potatoes or apple. 

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Pour the oil into a small cup or ramekin and spread about half of it around with a pastry brush, until the paper is well coated. Layer on the sliced potatoes, season with a sprinkle of salt, then layer on the onions, the apple and finally the cabbage. Brush the cabbage with the remaining tablespoon of oil.

Roast for 25 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking make the vinaigrette by combining the Dijon mustard, vinegar, olive oil with a pinch of sugar. Whisk together until emulsified and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

Evenly coat the top of each filet of fish with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Place on top of the cabbage and broil just until the fish is cooked through and cabbage is brown in spots, about 7-8 minutes. Divide the vegetables evenly on four plates, top with a piece of fish and drizzle each portion with a tablespoon of the vinaigrette. 


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Caesar Salad Recipe

Just as there are phases of grief, I’m pretty sure there are phases when it comes to food cravings while sheltering in place. I have officially reached the salad phase. When I got back home from a short vacation in Hawaii we were eating a lot of Japanese food. I cooked ramen, gyudon (beef bowl), Japanese curry and Japanese hamburger steak. After that, I craved carbs and it was pasta, rice, grits, tortillas, pizza, potatoes day after day. Along with the carbs, I wanted cheese. After all, what’s better than carbs and cheese? Maybe a Caesar salad. 

I guess Caesar salad is a transition from the cheese phase (with some croutons for carbs) into the salad phase. Caesar salad is a favorite in my house, but I usually don’t make the real original Caesar. I doctor some mayonnaise with Worcestershire sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano and call it a Caesar. But it’s not a real Caesar. 

A really good Caesar salad makes a fine main course and never needs the addition of chicken. It only takes a few ingredients, but using high quality ingredients and taking the care to make the dressing and the croutons from scratch are well worth the effort. The usual way to make the dressing is by slowly whisking the olive oil into the other ingredients, but I found using a stick blender is faster, easier and much more efficient. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to mash the garlic, blend it with pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and then the egg yolk and finally whisk in the olive oil, a little at a time, to fully incorporate it into a smooth emulsion. 

Note: This dressing in this recipe makes enough for 4 main courses or 6-8 as a side salad. The salad dressing will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. 

Caesar Salad 
4-8 servings 


2-3 slices of sourdough bread
Cooking spray
1 egg
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 medium hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
White anchovies, optional
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the bread into cubes and place on a foil or parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Lightly spray the cubes with cooking spray and bake for 10 minutes or just until golden and crisp. 

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the egg and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the egg, and cool it under cold running water. Peel and separate the yolk and white. Place the egg yolk into a large beaker or wide mouth jar. Add the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, pepper and Parmigiano Reggiano. Use a stick blender to blend and emulsify the dressing. 

Toss the lettuce and dressing and add croutons. Add white anchovies and or shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, if desired.