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Saturday, November 29, 2003

Turkey Drumsticks Braised in Cranberry Sauce Recipe

When you love Thanksgiving as much as I do, you want it to prolong it. One year instead of the traditional Thanksgiving feast at my parents house, we ended up at someone else's house. All was well and good until the following day--no leftovers! One of the best ways to relive the joy of the holiday is by eating a nibble of what you had the night before. So I suggested a second night of Thanksgiving, much like many Jewish holidays that are celebrated two nights in a row. "Who would come?" asked my mother. "We have a turkey" said my father and with that I made a few calls and the first second night of Thanksgiving was born. Now that I am married, Lee and I spend at least part of the holiday weekend with my parents and part of the weekend with Lee's family. So two nights of Thanksgiving has become the norm for us. But I don't know whether I will ever host Thanksgiving at my house. Our apartment is too small, we only have four chairs and in any case it woul...
Thursday, November 27, 2003

Thank You!

On this Thanksgiving day I'd like to say thanks for reading, and thanks for your support and encouragement. I've been writing recipes, restaurant reviews, mini essays, tips, interviews and general reminiscences about food for almost six months now. In that time Cooking with Amy has been praised by Forbes magazine, recommended by the San Francisco Chronicle, been visited 3500 times (the counter is new so it's not accurate) and been linked to by too many other blogs to count. So what do YOU think? Now it your chance to tell me! Too personal? Not personal enough? More recipes? Less recipes? More interviews? Let me know what you think by clicking on comments below or the guestbook. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!...
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday and here's why: 1. Friends and Family 2. Open to everyone, no citizenship requirements 3. Great food 4. Nothing required of you other than to eat and be thankful 5. Devoid of excess commercialism unlike you-know-what 6. You get two days off from work (most people do anyway) 7. Completely secular 8. Did I mention great food? This year I will be making three desserts. A cranberry walnut tart, a pear ginger upside down cake and a third surprise dessert. I'm terribly sorry that I didn't get organized enough to write up the recipe for a special creation of mine involving pumpkin and filo dough, but I promise to write the recipe this year and post it next year....
Sunday, November 23, 2003

Monte Cristo Sandwiches:Recipe

Brunch. Such a problematic concept. Don't get me wrong, it's great. Would I have chosen it as the meal for my wedding if I didn't love it so much? But it's the heading out of the house on a Sunday morning, and invariably standing in line waiting for a table that ruins it. Then there's the whole sweet or savory thing. The eggs benedict or the blueberry pancakes? Bagel cream cheese and lox or French toast and maple syrup? This may be how smoky meats like sausage and bacon became such popular brunch side dishes, born from the difficulty of deciding what to order in the first place. Today the solution was simple. Homemade Monte Cristo sandwiches. I wish I could tell you some fabulous story about the Monte Cristo, but I can't. In doing the research even the esteemed James Beard Organization concedes the origins are unclear. Where did it come from? Why dip a sandwich in egg? Why is it named Monte Cristo? The name seems to date back to as early as 1941, when it sta...
Friday, November 21, 2003

Caramelized Onion Waffles with Smoked Salmon:Recipe

Sometimes what inspires me most is a cookbook. I read cookbooks like some people read magazines. Browsing, skimming the index, picking and choosing a recipe here, a recipe there. Like many cooks, I don't necessarily follow recipes to the letter, but I do get great ideas from them. Right now I have a pile of cookbooks next to my bed. I am reading several by Paula Wolfert and several more by Nigella Lawson. I'm actually trying to decide if I want to purchase any of them. I check out cookbooks from the library when I can to live with them a bit and see how it goes. The one cook book I did purchase recently is "The Secrets of Success Cookbook, Signature Recipes and Insider Tips from San Francisco's Best Restaurants" , written by SF Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer. It came highly recommended and I have to say I have not been disappointed. One of the recipes that inspired me this week was the Caramelized Onion Waffle with Smoked Salmon and Radish Salad from Mi...
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Happy Garden:Restaurant

Certain things it's just better to go out for. In this category of could-make-it-at-home-but-won't are really elegant multi-course French meals, sushi and Chinese food. Oh I guess I make a Chinese meal at home from time to time, but it's usually just one or two dishes and rice. I'm spoiled. San Francisco has some outrageously good Chinese food available in restaurants that are a hop skip and a jump from my front door. A recent find is Happy Garden in the Richmond district. Happy Garden is on Clement street, where there are plenty of enticing Asian restaurants, fresh markets, and cafes. This is a great neighborhood for exploring and trying new things, but Happy Garden is truly a standout amongst its neighbors for its quality, quantity not to mention price. One of several "Family Style" meals on the menu is $38.80 and feeds approximately 6-8 people. So what do you get for $38.80? A veritable seafood extravaganza is what. It begins with a seafood bean cu...
Monday, November 17, 2003

All About Chanterelles

Fresh chanterelles are my favorite mushroom. Sure I enjoy porcini and I certainly wouldn't pass up a truffle white or black if it crossed my plate. But there is something about chanterelles that appeals to me the most. They are so very unique. First of all they are beautiful to look at, golden and trumpet shaped. Not a true gilled mushroom, the underside of the cap has rounded gill-like ridges or veins that branch irregularly so their texture when cooked is velvety and tender. They cook up like an oyster mushroom unlike common button mushrooms, which are often crumbly when raw or wet and juicy when cooked. Flavor-wise chanterelles are delicate and almost fruity tasting, nothing like the earthy meaty taste of a portabello for instance. Some have compared the scent of chanterelles to apricots. They smell and taste more like a flower then a mushroom. Divine when prepared simply and served on their own, chanterelles combine well with almost every other kind of mushroom too. This pa...
Friday, November 14, 2003

Meet Darius Somary Part 2

Successful marketer becomes a professional chef and now caterer Part 2 Striking out on his own Why did you decide to go into catering after working at Oliveto? The restaurant experience was really good, it was a perfect experience for someone fresh out of school, in their early 20's who is all excited about working hard and partying hard. But I was beyond that. I couldn't stay up until 3 am partying. And then the salaries in the restaurant industry are very low. Also, I don't necessarily want to be a celebrity chef. If I make it on TV that would be great but it's not my goal. I like Jamie Oliver's style. He's all about understatement and simplicity. He is very creative, using basic ingredients and basic techniques. He goes shopping with you and takes you every step of the way. Cooking should be very intuitive, tangible and understandable. I love his cookbook; it's very modular. By that I mean he includes the variants without specifying exact ...
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Meet Darius Somary

Meet up-and-coming chef Darius Somary. Darius was a successful market researcher for over ten years before leaving the corporate world and going back to school, graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Program at the California Culinary Academy. He recently left top rated Oliveto restaurant in Oakland to start up his own business, SpringLoaf Catering So what inspires someone to leave corporate life for the culinary arts? Why did Darius leave the fast-paced world of a restaurant kitchen? And what's it really like to be a professional chef? Read on. Part 1 Becoming a Chef Nurture or nature? Are you a chef by choice or were you born to be one? Cooking has always been a hobby of mine. When I came home from business trips I used cooking to wind down, playing with flavors. It was the first career I consciously chose, everything else I slid into. More nature than nurture I guess. You had a career in marketing for many years, what lead to your decision to switch careers?...
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

All About Pomegranates

My appreciation of certain foods is only enhanced by the symbolism associated with them. As an example, in Italy it's a tradition to eat lentils on new years day. The individual lentils are supposed to represent the coins that will come to you in the new year. Ever since I heard that, the thought of a big sausage and lentil stew on new years day seems like just the right thing. Jewish new years or Rosh Hashanah has its own traditional foods. I grew up eating apples dipped in honey to represent the sweetness of the new year, but I just learned that another traditional food for the Jewish new year is the pomegranate. Moroccan Jews say that the seeds of the pomegranate represent the good deeds or mitzvah that will occur in the new year and I have to say I think that the two-fold symbolism is as sweet as an apple dipped in honey. Pomegranates like figs, feature prominently in Greek mythology, as well as the bible. They have long been a symbol of fertility in many cultures. Have you...
Sunday, November 09, 2003

Hangtown Fry at Tadich Grill

San Francisco has had a wild history. It wasn't called the Barbary Coast for nothing. Brothels, saloons, gambling, opium dens, San Francisco was famous for all of that, especially at the time of the gold rush. You can still see remnants and reminders of that time in the streets of San Francisco. Many streets are actually named after "ladies of the night". Another reminder of those times is a dish that was created during that era and has been served in San Francisco ever since. The town in the gold country known as Placerville was once known at Hangtown. The dish that bears its name is Hangtown Fry. The legends surrounding the dish are numerous. The two stories I have heard are that either a man condemned to be hanged requested this dish as a way to postpone his hanging since the ingredients were expensive and hard to come by or that a miner who struck it rich asked a bartender to create the most expensive meal possible and he did using oysters, salt pork and eggs. ...
Thursday, November 06, 2003

OTT "Over The Top" Oatmeal Cookies:Recipe

Who doesn't like cookies? It's hard to imagine growing up without them. They were a staple in my lunch bag year in, year out. But in Italy cookies are less of an everyday thing and more of a fancy treat to be served to guests with dessert wine after dinner. Elegant cookies are found at all good Italian bakeries and are made in the home during holidays. But the cookie jar filled with homemade cookies for the whole family to snack on is not an Italian tradition. When I lived there, American style chocolate chip cookies were unheard of. I made them for the family I was living with and they were horrified to hear that Americans would eat them with milk. Of course they also had a hard time understanding why we would eat french fries with Coke either. You hear a lot about how simple food is often the best, but the opposite is true when it comes to cookies. Dare I say it? Lately I am actually bored by plain old chocolate chip cookies. Even with chocolate chips AND nuts, there just...
Tuesday, November 04, 2003

French Tea

When you think about tea, do you think of England? No question the British are big tea drinkers. When I spent a few weeks in the South of England one summer we drank tea no less than 5 times a day. But when I think about tea I also think of France where some of my favorite teas are sold by a company called Mariage Freres. The oldest tea importers in France, in business since 1660, they really know their stuff. In Paris the Mariage Freres shop has been in the same spot since 1854 on the rue du Bourg-Tibourg in the Marais. Visiting the shop is like stepping into the past. The shop is tiny and all the staff bustle about in white colonial era uniforms. The cool dark front room features a series of shelves lined with large ancient tea canisters. The scent of tea is everywhere and the staff is happy to open a canister and offer you a sniff of any of the 500 varieties you wish. The back room is a bright tea salon and while a bit cramped, it is lovely with tropical potted palms and de...
Sunday, November 02, 2003

Dutch Baby:Recipe

A couple of times on vacation Lee and I have gone out for Dutch pancakes. We like having them for breakfast, but it turns out in Holland the Dutch don't actually eat pancakes for breakfast. Needless to say, we've suffered through some very long mornings waiting for pancake shops to open up for lunch. Of course some Dutch pancake shops know what pancake freaks we Americans are and open early. In Holland they eat an eggy crepe type pancake as big as a large dinner plate. Flat like pizzas, they come topped with almost anything you can imagine from tomatoes, cheese, bacon or shellfish to dessert varieties with chocolate or ice cream and fruit. Pancakes have a long tradition in the Dutch culture. Supposedly over 300 years ago the first pancake was created in Holland but only in recent times have they gone crazy with the toppings. Dutch pancake houses are not only popular in Holland but we've found them in Canada and in the UK. But I've never seen a puffed oven baked panca...