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Friday, December 30, 2005

Cranberry Pot Roast Recipe

"Latkes are a kind of oil, into which small quantities of shredded potato have been infused." -- Jonathan Safran Foer Latkes, also known as potato pancakes, are a traditional treat to eat at least once during the eight days of Hanukkah. The reason you eat latkes for Hanukkah is because they are fried in oil. Why oil? Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of the second temple after a battle and along with the victory came the miracle in which mere drops of oil in an oil lamp lasted eight days. The "miracle" is much like a story about a fat man coming down a chimney with presents... A real miracle would be to have perfectly crispy and not-so-greasy latkes. For years there has been a debate in my family. My mom and I spoke up in defense of shredding potatoes for latkes, and my papa insisted that grating lead to much crispier ones. It's all in the technique, as most recipes call for the same ingredients--eggs, flour or matzah meal, onions and potatoes. Last ye...
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Contest Winners

Congratulations to Alicat, Michelle and Sky. They each will receive Cook Until Desired Tenderness , by Cleo Papanikolas, as they were the first to correctly identify the fake stage was: D. Glass Feather, the most popular guess, was indeed a stage of sugar cooking, according to the 17th century text, Le Confiturier francois "Cooked to the feather....it is recognized by placing a spatula in the syrup, and shaking the syrup in the air; the syrup flies away as if dry feathers without stickiness..." Personally I thought Pearl sounded the most unlikely! Read more about The History of Sugars and Confectionary in On Food and Cooking , by Harold McGee. For those of you following along at home, the answer to the contest is in the section on Stages of Sugar Cooking in the 17th Century, on page 651....
Monday, December 26, 2005

Cook Until Desired Tenderness: Book & Contest

Remember the Griffin and Sabine books by Nick Bantock? They were beautiful, filled with the most amazing collage-style prints and illustrations. The stories were romantic and magical yet never mushy. They were like children's illustrated books but for adults. Now imagine a culinary version and you have Cook Until Desired Tenderness , by Cleo Papanikolas. It's a gorgeous keepsake book that reads like a personal journal. Our heroine is Sugar, a girl growing up in the 70's in a household where refined sugar is forbidden. The story begins with her discovery of some old recipe cards and ends with her finding her place as a garde manger in a restaurant. But baked into the story you'll also find flirtations with spoons, a bite me sandwich, a nail cake, dinners gone awry and pots of butternut soup. A modern culinary fantasy, it has heartache, humor and a happy ending. The illustrations are like a scrapbook of recipe cards, guest checks and watercolor creations. No actual...
Saturday, December 24, 2005

I admit it, I'm a Food Network addict. So I was very amused by the Armchair Cook's version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. You think you made a lot treats this holiday season? I bet you didn't make as many as Culinary in the Desert! Check out all seventeen picture perfect cookies and candies . For the sweetest fat-free, sugar-free, calorie-free Christmas story, check out Beauty Joy Food's story of " My Christmas ". That is, if you don't count the sugar cookies!...
Friday, December 23, 2005

One last pitch!

Today is the last day! And we are just a hair under $15,000 in our Unicef fundraising effort for the victims of the earthquake in the Kashmir region. All donations are fully tax-deductible. Won't you please consider donating? It's the perfect time to do it. As you may recall, to make it easy and fun, we only ask for a donation of $5 each and when you donate specify a blogger/treat and be entered in a virtual drawing to win a prize. Cooking with Amy is offering a copy of Very Maple Syrup and package of homemade Maple Nut Granola. Curious to taste one of my concoctions? Here's your chance! I think only two or three people have specified my goodies so your chances are very, very good! I promise it's a tasty treat. A big thanks to Pim for organizing. Check out her web site for a full listing of bloggers and prizes with pictures to respresent each prize or click on the Menu for Hope button in the sidebar. After reviewing the prizes, please do donate! ...
Thursday, December 22, 2005

San Francisco Rum Balls Recipe

Whenever my sister-in-law comes to visit, she tries to sneak in rum balls. There's a deli near Union Square that sells them and it must be sending out a homing signal. A rum ball beacon. It doesn't matter what we're doing or where we are, it's only a matter of time before she says "who wants to go get rum balls!" It's not really a question so much as a rallying cry. So this holiday season I decided to make them. Not having eaten very many of them makes it hard to know if I have duplicated the version my sister-in-law likes so much. Lee says they are actually better than the deli version. All the recipes I could find are fairly similar. You can use rum or bourbon, cocoa or chocolate, walnuts or pecans and vanilla wafers, chocolate wafers or graham crackers. The crucial element in the beloved rum balls seems to be that they are covered in chocolate sprinkles (or jimmies as they are sometimes known). Making them stick presented a problem but not an insurmo...
Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Books, Books and more Books...

On my desk I have a stack of books to review. Some I will review here and others over at Bay Area Bites . They include: Gordon Ramsay Makes It Easy , which appears to be similar in concept to Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way. It's the first cookbook I've seen with an attached dvd. I have high hopes for this one as I'm already a fan of his earlier book, A Chef For All Seasons . Terrance Brennan's Artisanal Cooking , which I thumbed through and landed on Cold Caesar Salad Soup, Stilton and Port Fondue and Shrimp with Smoked Paprika. I think I may be in love... Paula Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France . This a revised version of a real classic, as is just about everything written by Wolfert. Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent , is a book that covers India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. There are recipes for street food and home-style dishes that you are unlikely to find anywhere else along with loads of g...
Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Scott Howard: Restaurant Review CLOSED

Chef and restaurant Scott Howard have taken over a location on the edge of the financial district that began as the Cypress Club, an over-the-top 1990's glittery copper and tile studded nightclub that was all flash. Fortunately the focus has flipped to the food rather than the now restrained interior. The menu at Scott Howard is ambitious to say the least. Before you even get to the main courses there are raw and charcuterie offerings in addition to salads, appetizers and soups. A raw bar is tucked into the corner of the dining room but not accessible to diners. This is the type of thing that keeps me from being more enthusiastic about the restaurant. Though the food was often delicious there is a general sense of incongruity. To me, something just seems schizophrenic about having a refined raw bar and a more earthy charcuterie. The two raw items we tried, a wild trout tartare amuse bouche and a hamachi tartare with apple sorbet, almonds and cocoa nibs were refreshing and inno...
Sunday, December 18, 2005

I considered lots of blog posts for this week, but when it came right down to it, starting with the following intriguing introduction, one blogger won me over completely. "I revisit some of my favourite childhood memories through food and song. It is with each passing Christmas, I grow more sentimental to the traditions my family once continued from generations before, traditions that have since been lost." So I give you my pick for posts of the week, the first three installments of One Whole Clove's Christmas in Quebec . Part 1 Homemade Baked Beans Part 2 Casse Croute Part 3 Sucre a la creme Not only are her first three posts wonderful, but she has vowed to continue with her series right through until the holiday arrives! I do hope you'll bookmark the site and come back for the rest of what promises to be an outstanding series. Bravo Sarah Lou!...
Saturday, December 17, 2005

So I didn't fool too many people with my quiz. I hope you had fun with it anyway! The Julia Child quote, according to Anne Willian anyway, is "One of the secrets of cooking is to correct something if you can or live with it if you cannot" So the correct answer was: A. live with it if you cannot Congratulations to Mathy, the grand prize winner, you have won a copy of Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. And to the runner ups, Eric, Sam and Mary Ann, I have nifty tasting spoons for each of you....
Friday, December 16, 2005

Julia Child Contest

I am still savoring my Summer edition of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture. It was an entire issue devoted to none other than Julia Child . There are interviews, remembrances, stories, poems, songs and even a picture of Julia in the bathtub with her husband Paul! Reading about her as written by so many people who knew her so well is enlightening. And inspiring. I thought I knew a lot about Julia Child, but I learned so much more reading this issue. It's the details that add depth to understanding someone who is already such a well-known figure. I knew that Julia took to cooking later in life but it's interesting to note she and Jacques Pepin started cooking in the same year--she was 36 years old and Jacques was 13. Pepin shares his slight jealousy upon seeing her landmark book Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the first time, admitting it was the book he thought he would write someday. In working on her first book, Julia was obsessed with replicating the &quo...
Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Feeling Lucky?

Lots of winning opportunities this week. First off, over $4000... $10,000 has been raised over at a Menu for Hope . That's fantastic, but there are so many gifts that not everything has gotten a nod yet. Lots of books perfect for gift-giving, plenty of homemade treats and some late additions. If you haven't donated yet, take another look . Pick out the right gift and you could easily be a winner. Speaking of treats, head over to Bay Area Bites for my interview with Alison McQuade who makes award-worthy chutney in my estimation. Don't forget, if you're in town, tomorrow is the chutney tasting over at The Hidden Vine. Do stop by and say hello. Last year while traipsing all over Mexico I missed out on the fun of the Food Blogger Awards . This year that event is back again; make your selection for your favorite food blogs in categories such as Best Post, Best Writing and Best Recipes. If you're an avid food blog reader or even if you're not, here's your cha...
Monday, December 12, 2005

Menu for Hope II

Not quite a year ago, in the wake of the tsumami, food bloggers around the world got together to raise money for relief. This year we are raising funds to support the victims of the devastating earthquake in the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan. According to government sources in Pakistan, it is feared more than 40,000 people may have died, at least 65,000 may be injured and some four million may be left without shelter as the result of an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale, which struck on October 8, 2005. Now that the end of of the year has rolled around, it's the perfect time to think about making a donation. To make it easy and fun, we are only asking for a donation of $5 each and when you donate specify a blogger/treat and be entered in a virtual drawing to win a prize (you do not have to be present to win!). Cooking with Amy is offering a copy of Very Maple Syrup and package of homemade Maple Nut Granola. Curious to taste one of my concoctions? He...
Saturday, December 10, 2005

I was going to round up some citrus posts, but Sam beat me to it! In her PPS no less. So instead I give you some cool creations for cool cooks everywhere... Who says crepes are just for rolling? Here's a festive stack of crepes courtesy of I Was Just Really Very Hungry. Anne's Food presents Gingerbread Grissini ! A great idea for parties or just for snacking. Sweden meets Italy. Finally San Francisco Gourmet presents his recipe for The Egg . Wondering what that might be? You'll just have to check it out......
Thursday, December 08, 2005

Instant Potato Gnocchi: Recipe

It should come as no surprise that I never jumped on the low-carb bandwagon. How could I? My idea of heaven is a big plate of potato gnocchi smothered in tomato sauce and with a slight crust of baked Parmesan and unctuous mozzarella. You've got to admit, a gratin of gnocchi is awfully enticing. Gnocchi has pretty much been my nemesis. I just can't seem to make them as light and fluffy as they are at my neighborhood Italian restaurant. I've tried the packaged varieties. Yuck. I've tried mixes with some success. And I've tried countless recipes--baking the potatoes on a bed of rock salt, steaming the potatoes, fanning them. And then it dawned on me, if the problem is getting the potatoes dry enough, why not start with actual dry potatoes? Instant mashed potatoes! I bought a box and started experimenting. I wish I could say that this recipe is entirely original. But I got the idea in my head and promptly found I wasn't the only one. On the internet there are a...
Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wine & Chutney Tasting Event

The best thing about writing this blog ain't the money. There is none. It's trying great food and meeting terrific people. I have met more local folks involved in making and serving food and wine in the past year than ever before. I've also tried to introduce you to some of them here and over at Bay Area Bites . If you'd like to meet some of the people I've met this year, you should come stop by The Hidden Vine next Thursday. I've written about it before, it's a cozy little wine bar right near Union Square (holiday shopping anyone?). The proprietors David and Angela are knowledgeable as they are enthusiastic about the wines they serve. This month they are featuring wines from South Australia. There are always plenty of California wines available by the glass too. Thursdays are generally a good night stop by because The Hidden Vine offers a complimentary cheese board from 6 - 9. But next Thursday it's doubly good because Alison of McQuade's Celt...
Sunday, December 04, 2005

Isn't it fun to look in other people's kitchens and see what's cooking? This week take a sneak peek. Hold the Raisins gets an expiration date mandate and cooks up a storm. A hearty pasta is the result. Toast ponders a final market box and makes borscht , a terrific recipe that speaks to the soul. In Praise of Sardines praises anchovies ! Are salt-packed better than oil-packed? You'll have to check out the post to get to the bottom of the controversy and learn the surprising truth. Note: the Cooking with Amy email newsletter is due out any day now, in it you'll find a recap of November posts and a sneak peek at the offerings for December. Sign up using the form in the left column....
Friday, December 02, 2005

Volcano Lemon & Lime Bursts

When I was growing up we always had a big green bottle of lemon juice in the fridge. It was from concentrate and tasted of chemicals. Nasty stuff. Fortunately my in-laws have a lemon tree and give me boxes of fresh lemons. But limes are another story... I buy limes when I'm making Mexican food. The problem is I rarely use them before they turn into hard brown rocks. So I was interested to try Volcano Lime Burst from Dream Foods . I first encountered Dream Foods at the Fancy Food Show a couple of years ago. I was really impressed with their organic blood orange juice. It was a gorgeous crimson color and tasted so juicy and fresh. Now they've introduced Volcano Lime and Lemon Bursts, packaged in those familiar squeezable lemon and lime shaped plastic containers. As with their other products both of these are organic and not from concentrate. They have no additives except for a little citric acid as a preservative. They also have a good dose of citrus oil in them to make them...
Wednesday, November 30, 2005

International Cookbook Roundup

Where would you like to go for the holidays? Italy? Spain? Japan? How about just transporting yourself through the creations in your own kitchen? There are several new exciting cookbooks that have just come out featuring the cuisines of these countries. All of these books will serve to break through the standard stereotype of cuisines that we think we know so well. First off, Italy. When I learned to cook in Italy I did it the old-fashioned way. I observed home cooks in their element. Several of them in fact. I watched and took notes so I could replicate the dishes when I came back home. I also learned that each Italian cook has his or her own way of making recipes their own. None of them used a cookbook. Needless to say, I can be very critical of Italian cookbooks! Without a doubt, The Silver Spoon is by far the most comprehensive Italian cookbook I have ever come across. Over 2,000 recipes. Even if you don't follow the recipes exactly, this book will give you a good sense o...
Monday, November 28, 2005

Cheap Holiday Gifts!

I am not only a cooking magazine addict. I am a cooking magazine pusher. It probably comes as no surprise that I absolutely love cooking magazines and subscribe to a whole passel of them. But I also think they make a great gift for the foodie or wannabe foodie in your life. And you can't beat the prices! For little more than the price of a single issue you get a whole years' worth. Today I'm listing the best picks for under five bucks each. By the way I get no kick-backs for these, I'm just passing along the info -- 'tis the season after all. Each of these are for a year's subscription through my favorite magazine site, Magazine Price Search . Order soon though, the prices change all the time... Vegetarian Times $1.99 for 10 issues This is just crazy cheap. If you know someone who is a vegetarian or simply trying to find more interesting vegetable recipes this is a great pick. I have just starting receiving mine and have already bookmarked several recipes...
Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cranberry Nut Blondies Recipe

The holiday season. Socializing with friends. Visiting family. Eating. Drinking. And the warmth of the oven heating up the house and filling it with delicious smells. It's a nice time of year. But I have to admit, I kind of freaked out when Is My Blog Burning - Sugar High Friday Virtual Cookie Swap was announced for the weekend of November 25th. Should I participate or not? Could I possibly handle more baking on Thanksgiving weekend? After all I was already baking several desserts for Thanksgiving dinner. Cookies too? Jennifer the hostess of this event very kindly offered more time to work on the effort but I'm not so good at planning that far in advance. But then it occurred to me, there is a kind of cookie that only takes minutes to make and bake. No cookie sheets, no muss, no fuss. Bar cookies. Brownies are the most famous bar cookies, but blondies are good ones too. The dough for blondies is similar to chocolate chip cookie dough and mixes up just as quickly. The fla...
Thursday, November 24, 2005

Last Minute Thanksgiving Help!

Uh oh! Are you still looking for help? Recipes? Ideas? Help is on the way. Here are some resources: Turkey help! Turkey Talk-Line 1-800-BUTTERBALL (288-8372) open from 6 am until 6 pm CST What wines go with turkey? Beaujolais Nouveau Pinot Noir Cotes du Rhone Instant Appetizer Chutney Spread 6 ounces chutney, any flavor 1/2 lb package cream cheese Spoon chutney over cream cheese and serve on a cheese plate with assorted crackers. More Recipes? Thanksgiving Recipe Box: The Splendid Table Recipes & Cooking Tips: Epicurious Learn about the holiday? Laura Schenone's Thanksgiving timeline Happy Thanksgiving everyone!...
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Banana Walnut Pancakes Recipe

Did you ever buy some ingredient that you thought was good for you? You know what I'm talking about. Oat bran, flax, amaranth, wheat germ, teff, spelt, millet. It sounded like a good idea when you purchased it. You might even have bought it for a specific recipe. But then the inevitable. It sits in your pantry or fridge or maybe even the freezer. Then one day you are cleaning out the shelves and you come upon it. If you're lucky, it still has the label on it. Otherwise out it goes! My weakness seems to be flax meal. I have bought it several times. I don't use it very often so I forget that I have it and I buy it again. Oops. Fortunately flax is pretty easy to use if you put your mind to it. Flax is a seed that can be ground into meal for better digestion. It is very healthy, containing calcium, niacin, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin E. It is also rich in fiber, antioxidant lignans and Omega-3 fatty acids. It has a pleasant nutty flavor and a mucilaginous texture akin to...
Sunday, November 20, 2005

This week the posts are all recipe revelations. And deliciously written ones too. The first revelation was made at Baking Sheet. Potato chips can be made in the microwave. Really! To go with those chips, how about Food Musings very original recipe for Cumin-spiced Pumpkin and Cream cheese spread ? Sounds perfect for Thanksgiving if I do say so myself. Orangette is the source for some revelations of her own, that demonstrate her continuing love for sausages . This post includes a recipe for Roast Sausages with Red Grapes that is easy as can be and looks positively scrumptious!...
Friday, November 18, 2005

Too cool

Earlier this year at the Wired Rave Awards I met Helene Goupil and Josh Krist. They were working on an upcoming San Francisco guide book and we chatted about the SF food scene. Later I talked to them a bit more and then completely forgot about it. Last night I went to a book launch party and was amazed to find--I'm in the book! Not only is my blog mentioned but so are a bunch of other local food blogs . San Francisco The Unknown City is hands down the coolest, hippest guide to San Francisco I've ever come across. While the contents include such standards as Dining, Shopping, Nightlife and Notoriety this book covers not just local favorites, but many places I doubt have ever been listed in a guidebook before. Places like The Crissy Field Center Cafe, the hidden Japanese restaurant Kappa and The Cake Gallery for "naughty treats" are all in there. Do people outside the Bay Area know about artist collective The Grotto ? The wacky Gregangelo Museum ? Vegan shopp...
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What a day!

My interview? No other than Jacques Pepin! KQED ever so kindly arranged for me to meet and interview him. Much better pictures and lots of details soon. That's me with a stack of books for him to sign. Breakfast by the way, was terrific, I definitely recommend Canteen . A tiny little place, only four little booths and about ten seats at the bar. I had a scrumptious corned beef hash that was made with house smoked corned beef, lots of carmelized onions and Yukon gold potatoes topped with two perfectly poached eggs. I will plan another meal or two and post a review. It was also great catching up with the Culinary Muse who I am glad to say is posting more frequently. Today she shared a discovery for a juice bar in the Ferry Plaza. Betcha didn't know there was one!...

Jackpot!

Today is my lucky day. Breakfast at a much talked about restaurant I have been dying to try, Canteen . It's walking distance from my house and every other person I talk to asks me "have you eaten there yet?" And so today I do. Making it all the more delicious, my dining companion is one of my favorite food bloggers, the Culinary Muse . Then this afternoon I get to meet one of my favorite people and interview him! Who is it? Under Favorites check out my picks for Food writers/Chefs and take a guess. There's a hint in here someplace. I'll have details later today, I promise....
Monday, November 14, 2005

Boulevard The Cookbook: Book Review

Boulevard is an opulent restaurant. Boulevard The Cookbook is opulent too. It's heavy and oversized, featuring luscious full page photographs and over-the-top recipes with luxurious ingredients. All your favorites are represented--heavy cream, wild mushrooms, foie gras, truffles, macadamia nuts, oysters, caviar, lobster, fine imported cheeses and chocolates. The recipes are in a word, involved. Frankly I doubt I will be cooking any of them. But I wholeheartedly recommend the cookbook nonetheless. Cookbooks serve many purposes. The most obvious is to guide one in cooking. But a cookbook can also be a memento of a special occasion. A cookbook can be a source of inspiration and insight into creativity. It can teach techniques too. In all these ways the Boulevard cookbook is a gem. Fortunately the authors are aware of this: "Many dishes in this book can be challenging, so consider making just one part of a dish, say the Lamb Porterhouse Stuffed with Broccoli Rabe and Melted...
Saturday, November 12, 2005

November isn't just the month to celebrate turkey and Thanksgiving, it's also the month for white truffles. Here are my top truffle posts of the week: First SaltShaker takes us on a truffle hunt in the shops of Buenos Aires. Then we go to the Riviera where Pim encounters the nefarious truffle don . Next in Paris David Lebovitz tries a truffle macaron , and not the chocolate kind, really! On another note, the selfless food blogger Sam of Becks and Posh has just posted her harrowing time with a suddenly sick Fred in Paris, I do hope you'll stop by her blog and wish her well ....
Thursday, November 10, 2005

Stuart's Pozole: Recipe

I used to work with a sweet young Southern gal. She told me her aunt made the best biscuits in the world but that she wouldn't part with her secret recipe. Shame. Really. What's the point in hoarding a great recipe? I just don't get it. Giving it to a family member is one way you know the recipe will live on. And so will you. A friend of mine died earlier this year. I didn't know him for all that long, but we did share recipes just the same. He was famous for his pozole and shared the recipe freely. Though he was ill, it didn't occur to me that he would die. I was in denial I guess. But I can't tell you how happy it makes me to cook his pozole and remember him. I can't think of a better way to be remembered. Pozole is a soup made from hominy, red or green chiles and usually pork. It comes from Jalisco in Mexico and is traditionally served at Christmas time. This is not a quick and easy type of recipe. Though it's not very complicated it does take so...
Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pastores: Restaurant Review CLOSED

There used to be a Mexican restaurant in San Francisco called "Mom is Cooking". Hearing that name, can't you just picture someone's mother standing over a stove somewhere, smiling and lovingly stirring a pot? Mom is Cooking is long gone, but in the Outer Mission another mom is cooking. Irma is cooking. I have hesitated to write a review of Pastores because I always order the same thing every time I go. Enchiladas. Sometimes they come with a spicy red chile sauce, other times with her mole. All her sauces are homemade and definitely made with love. Not only does Irma cook, but she usually comes over to your table to take your order, chat with you and let you know what the specialties are that day. It's not so much a list of specials, it's more like what she has on the stove. Perhaps it's the way she treats her customers to an agua fresca or a not-on-the-menu dessert that makes it feel all the more like home. Being made to feel welcome is one of the key...
Monday, November 07, 2005

Contest Winners

What American city is also the site of one of the largest salt deposits in the world? Because I didn't say major American city or the largest salt deposit both Detroit and Hutchinson are correct answers. For the record, Hutchinson has the largest salt deposit in the US, however Detroit's is pretty large too, some estimates suggest that there is enough salt in the Metro Detroit underground to last 70 million years--and that's a lot of salt! Here's a link to a great map of major salt deposits in North America. Congratulations to Amy, Shane and Andrew you have each won a copy of The Seasoning of a Chef ....
Sunday, November 06, 2005

This week the picks are all about unusual eats... First off is Becks and Posh who gives us a peek at eating on the Concorde . Technically she might not have eaten on the Concorde but she came pretty close in this post. Next Lulu Loves Manhattan discovers a canteen at the Ganesh Temple . This is perhaps the most unusual meal of the bunch, but a surprisingly good one and just in time for Diwali. Finally Life's a Picnic goes retro and finds a hofbrau that time forgot. Check out this terrific deja vu post!...
Friday, November 04, 2005

The Seasoning of a Chef: Review & Contest

If you want to know what goes on in professional kitchens, there are several books that will tell you what it's like. Kitchen Confidential written by Tony Bourdain is particularly well-written and entertaining as well as informative. But the latest book by a chef turned writer is highly controversial . The book is The Seasoning of a Chef and the authors are chef Doug Psaltis and his brother and book agent, Michael Psaltis. The main issues are that the exact circumstances under which Doug Psaltis left several restaurants are left a bit vague, that some of the stories he told have not been corroborated and that he dared to criticize his superiors, some of whom are referred to by pseudonyms in the book. A curious question is: why would someone at only 31 years of age write an autobiography? After reading the book I think it was to try to gain some perspective and to share his view of the what it's like in the restaurant world. While we'll probably never know what really happ...
Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cranberry Coffee Cake Recipe

You know it's Fall when fresh cranberries appear in the supermarket. I always buy a few extra packages and throw them in the freezer. One more culinary confession? I still have a package left from last year! Ok, I'm not sure exactly when I bought them, but it wasn't in the past couple of months so I can only assume... Cranberries are grown in bogs in the Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Washington State and Oregon. Native Americans were using cranberries when the pilgrims arrived here--they cooked with them, used them to dye fabric and even used them as medicine. Cranberries are most commonly used in sauce served with turkey at Thanksgiving but the introduction of dried cranberries has made them more popular year round. They are tangy and filled with vitamin C. Fresh cranberries freeze very well, though I suggest not waiting a whole year to use them! With the weather cooling down, it's a perfect time of year to bake a coffee cake. This one is not too sweet and has a lovel...
Monday, October 31, 2005

Culinary Confessions

I'm a thief. First I snagged the concept of Posts of the Week from Too Many Chefs . Now I brazenly bloglift Culinary Confessions from David Lebovitz . But at least I give credit. That counts for something, right? My confessions: I have never used my bread machine I rarely wash mushrooms I have broken three sugar bowls in under four years I prefer that mugs match in color or style, but not both I hate it when recipes call for an uneven number of egg whites and yolks I consider sour cream a staple item I believe in the golden rule "I cook, you clean" I love leftover pasta for breakfast I have about six open jars of jam in the fridge (and just as many of mustard) I think cold pizza is gross I stockpile pasta and canned tomatoes like they're going out style I love my Le Creuset I believe most things are improved with bacon and fried onions I melt chocolate in the microwave If I drink coffee I get heart palpitations I would love a big c...
Saturday, October 29, 2005

Carbonated oranges, balsamic nitrogen ice cream, edible sushi paper and corn foam--you may not want to eat it but you are curious, right? Check out the Movable Feast's latest visit to Moto in Chicago. Is devouring the photos from the Chocolate Salon in Paris the next best thing to being there? Judge for yourself at Cucina Testa Rossa. I planned to make a tagine for Prune Blogging Thursday but I got confused on the schedule. Fortunately Oswego Tea made a gorgeous lamb tagine with prunes . Please note: Oswego Tea is a lovely blog written by a Canadian living in Paris, if you haven't already discovered it, do check it out....
Thursday, October 27, 2005

Yahoo! pizza, delivered

When I first ventured into San Francisco with my friends, we always headed for North Beach. I loved hanging out in cafes and pizza places. Hearing Italian spoken there made me want to study the language and live abroad. It was only when I got back from Italy that I realized--they weren't speaking Italian in those pizza places, but Portuguese! It turns out San Francisco's pizzerias are predominantly run by Brazilians, not Italians. When I moved into San Francisco in the Fall of 1989, I lived on Telegraph Hill, just the other side of the hill from North Beach. North Beach Pizza was the only place I went to for pizza. As time past I moved on from Telegraph Hill and moved on from North Beach Pizza. Yesterday I had my first pizza from North Beach Pizza in ages. Yahoo! and North Beach Pizza gave away free pizzas all day. It was the Yahoo pizza, which is topped with the most searched toppings on Yahoo! Yahoo! has launched a Best of campaign to encourage people to share their feedba...
Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Harold McGee and Shirley Corriher...Live!

For a culinary enthusiast, it doesn't get much better than hearing the two leading American food scientists, teachers and writers talk about what they are working on including sharing a bit about the "molecular gastronomy" movement (though McGee says it is really should be called experimental cooking). The discussion started off with McGee recounting how he first met Corriher. Shirley called him up upon the publication of the first edition of his landmark book, On Food and Cooking and said " You don't know me, but I and many other ladies in Atlanta are going to bed with you every night!" Corriher is on the 8th year into working on the follow up to CookWise , called BakeWise. She told us she has completed pies and is still working on cakes. You can't help but smile when Corriher explains food chemistry in her inimitable way. Impossible to describe, if you want to see her in action, you may catch her on some repeats of Alton Brown's Good Eats on ...
Sunday, October 23, 2005

Breakfast Souffle Recipe

Ahh souffles. I love them fluffy and I love them dense. I love them sweet and I love them savory. Airy chocolate ones and oozing cheesy ones...But before this turns into a souffle love letter, I have to say, I don't actually love making souffles. Too much work. Tricky ingredients. Specialized equipment. All sorts of things can throw them off, the egg whites not being whipped properly, the oven temperature not quite right, overmixing, I could go on and on. But they are so tasty, every once in a while it's worth doing anyway. Because nothing quite gives the sense of satisfaction to a cook, as a successful souffle. Making a souffle is magic. For IMBB #20 Has my blog fallen? I made a souffle I think is great for breakfast. But you could also make it as a light supper with a salad. It's an indulgent kind of meal, perfect for lazy weekends. Just make sure your dining companions are seated when it comes out of the oven; souffles waits for no one. I base my version on a coup...
Friday, October 21, 2005

Contest: Tomato Sauce Trivia

The answer to yesterdays contest comes from Harold McGee's masterpeice On Food and Cooking (page 330 for those reading along). "Because tomato leaves have a pronounced fresh-tomato aroma thanks to their leaf enzymes and prominent aromatic oil glands, some cooks add a few leaves to a tomato sauce toward the end of cooking, to restore its fresh notes." Which can be added to tomato sauce (towards the end of cooking) to restore its fresh notes? A. Basil B. Tomato leaves C. Parsley D. Mint As to those who thought the leaves poisonous, according to McGee, tomato leaves have long been considered potentially toxic because of the alkaloid tomatine. But recent research shows that that tomatine binds to cholesterol molecules in our digestive system, so we absorb neither the alkaloid nor the cholesterol. In fact, ingesting the leaves reduces cholesterol! Honorable mention to the vodka answer, tomatoes do contain alcohol-solvent flavors that are only released by the add...
Thursday, October 20, 2005

Contest: Tomato Sauce Trivia

I recently suggested that with all the variations possible with pesto, perhaps a pesto cookbook was in order. Little did I know there already was a pesto cookbook! Very Pesto is divided into four sections, Herb Pestos, Pasta & Pesto, For Openers: Appetizers, Salads & Breads and Sides & Entrees. Garlic Thyme Pesto, Tarragon Pesto and even Sage Pesto are featured in this little gem of a book. Cooking with Amy is giving away three copies of Very Pesto . The first three people to correctly answer the trivia question below will win a a book. Choose the correct answer and post your guess in the comment section, be sure to include your email so I can contact you, if you win! Only one entry per person so choose carefully. Winning copies are courtesy of Ten Speed Press . Which can be added to tomato sauce (towards the end of cooking) to restore its fresh notes? A. Basil B. Tomato leaves C. Parsley D. Mint...
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Trapanese Pesto Recipe

Summer is bright red, hot, juicy and sweet. So it's ironic that tomatoes don't really become ripe until the last gasp of Summer and into early Fall. To savor a bit more of the flavor of Summer, I recently made a delicious variation on the Genovese pesto recipe, a Sicilian recipe from Trapani with chunks of ripe tomato. Trapanese Pesto is a twist on the classic and in addition to tomatoes, it includes some mint, almonds, a dash of chili and pecorino instead of parmesan cheese. While I'm sorry I didn't try get to try this pesto when I was in Trapani, I am very glad I discovered it. Trapenese Pesto is spicier and more full-bodied than the Genoa version with cool and hot tones all at once. The almonds give it a distinctive creaminess. I reviewed quite a few recipes before coming up with my own recipe. Like the more famous pesto there is no definitive version so if you feel like adding more oil or a handful of pine nuts, go right ahead. While sundried tomatoes are avail...
Monday, October 17, 2005

Tajine: Restaurant Review CLOSED

Last week we were too tired to break our Yom Kippur fast the traditional way, with friends and family. Instead we stayed in the City and broke our fast with another group of people who were also breaking their fast--Muslims. There was in fact a fast breaking Ramadan special on the menu at Tajine, a relatively new halal Moroccan restaurant in the gustatory Mecca that is the Tenderloin. That night the restaurant was filled with Algerians, Moroccans and even some women from Malaysia wearing the chador.The Ramadan special included dates, because eating dates is how prophet Mohammed broke his fast. It also had a hard boiled egg and a little pile of cumin and salt to dip it in. I know about the special because I chatted with some of the customers, not because we ordered it. No, when we eat out we feel compelled to order as many things as humanly possible. So we broke our fast with a generous bowl of harira ($2.50), a lentil soup that was deliciously spiced and filled with chunks of on...