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Monday, February 28, 2005

Asparagus Risotto Recipe

 One day it's pouring rain and the next it's sunny and bright. Trees are already blooming with cherry blossoms, the delicate pink petals sometimes getting washed away in a sudden downpour. The hills all around the Bay Area are green and lush. And in the store you can find fresh strawberries, artichokes and asparagus. I think one of the reasons I love the Spring so much is the tender delicious fruits and vegetables. After eating hardy root vegetables and cabbage, chard, potatoes and leeks, the vegetables of Spring are a welcome change of pace. They are a wonderful reminder of new life and fresh beginnings. Asparagus is available much of the year but in the Spring it is at it's best. My favorite way to serve asparagus is in risotto. I make a broth from the stems and add the tips and the tender stems to the rice at the last moment so it stays tender-crisp. While Winter vegetables are wonderful cooked in soup or mashed somehow Spring vegetables seem too delicate to manhand...
Saturday, February 26, 2005

Frittata Recipe

I believe the world can be neatly divided in half. Those who like to eat leftovers for breakfast and those who don't. My sister and I clearly fall into the first category. When we were growing up we went on various family trips by car. Stopping at coffee shops and diners we quickly grew bored of the standard breakfast fare. Could we have chili? Hamburgers? Soup? Bewildered waitresses would check in the kitchen to see if the cooks could oblige. If the idea of soup for breakfast seems bizarre, here's something to consider, in Asia it's quite common. In Japan it might be miso soup, but in parts of South East Asia it's more likely to be rice or noodle soup with some kind of meat. For me, it's not that any one kind of soup is specifically best for breakfast, it's more the opportunity to revisit what I had for dinner. Somehow casseroles, soups and pasta are particularly suited to breakfast. While cold pizza is not an unknown treat for some, pasta tops my list for...
Thursday, February 24, 2005

Read All About It

There have been a number of bloggers making headlines lately. There have also been several interesting stories about food bloggers and food blogging. This blog has been referenced in various publications several times, going back almost two years now. But this is the first time I can recall that Cooking with Amy has made the front page ! Of dubious distinction I am now famous for being an obsessed blogger. To those who know me personally this may not come as a great surprise. You may recall I jumped the gun back in December when I was interviewed for a story in the San Jose Mercury News . Well the story finally ran earlier this week. You can read all about it in the article Bloggers' Internet obsession . The story has also run in various other newspapers around the country including the Grand Forks Herald, The Charlotte Observer, The Wichita Eagle, etc. That's me sipping hot chocolate at the bottom of the page. And to think you knew me way back when... ...
Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Best Fish Taco North of the Border

The Baja fish taco at Nick's Crispy Tacos is a revelation. Never mind north of the border, it's possibly the best fish taco anywhere. Only one of several delicious tacos available, the Baja fish taco is easily the most popular of the 1000 tacos a day that Nick's sells. What makes a taco worthy of such high praise? As with any great food, it has to do with the ingredients, the technique in preparing it and the actual person who prepared or conceived of it. The ingredients are simple: a generous piece of fresh fish, often mahi-mahi or local albacore, fried crispy on the outside and tender on the inside in a beer batter, a roasted tomato salsa, some shredded red onion and cabbage, a dribble of delectable lime mayonnaise dressing and a sprig of cilantro, all wrapped in fresh corn tortillas. While some fish tacos use thresher shark, Nick a devoted surfer believes in the saying, "if you don't eat me, I won't eat you". What makes this taco so special really ...
Sunday, February 20, 2005

Chipotle Chili Recipe

A chipotle pepper is really just a jalapeno. No, really, it is. A smoked jalapeno . Jalapenos are sneaky little guys. They can be mild or hot, you never know until you taste them. Jalapenos go from being juicy, crunchy and green to red if left to ripen, then when dehydrated and smoked they turn dark reddish-brown and distinctly smoky. Native to Mexico, twenty percent of jalapenos grown there supposedly end up as chipotles. Chipotles aren't as trendy now as they were a couple of years back, but they are still as wonderful a chile to cook with as they ever were. You can buy them dried whole, in powder, in paste or in "adobo", a sauce of tomatoes, vinegar, spices, garlic and as if they needed it--more chilies. They are smoky and mellow and only when prepared in adobo does the heat drastically intensify. But I like the heat so I don't shy away from chipotles in adobo. It's also a very convenient way to use chiles. Over time a dried chile or chile powder can lose ...
Friday, February 18, 2005

March Bon Appetit

I am a cooking and food magazine junkie. I get so excited when a new magazine arrives I usually read it cover to cover. Or at least scan it cover to cover. This month's Bon Appetit is fantastic. There are so many great articles and recipes I can't wait to try. Here are some highlights: Master Sommelier Andrea Immer Robinson has written an article about pairing wine and food showing how almost every "rule" can be broken. Of particular interest she points to several red wines that work with fish and as usual gives the basics in layman's terms that will not intimidate the novice. A pull-out guide of "where to eat now" this will be super helpful when traveling, especially if we end up going to New Orleans this Spring. Mario Batali's recipe for Braised Beef Cheeks with Celery Root and Polenta looks so good I will be seeking out beef cheeks and promise to report back. The Wine Braised Leg of Lamb with Garlic looks fabulous too. A Baked French ...
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Town Hall:Restaurant Review

I recently went to Town Hall , a restaurant that was chosen by San Franciscans as their favorite new restaurant* last year. Here's the thing, going to Town Hall is not just a dining experience. Town Hall serves fine food, but it really excels at vibe. From bartender to hostess to waiter to chef, you get the feeling everyone who works there is having a good time and glad to be there. The result is a little bit of a party every night. One feature that encourages the convivial atmosphere at Town Hall is a communal table. Here you can eat amongst instant friends, not strangers. Because ordering and eating is staggered at this large table set just to the side of the bar, you are almost guaranteed to get a chance to talk to someone about what they're eating. And isn't that something we all want to do now and again? You see a plate of something interesting go by and midway through you want to ask--"how is that dish, any good?" As far as the menu goes, I have to say ...
Monday, February 14, 2005

Chocolate Fondue Recipe

Lee's biggest complaint regarding my cooking is that I "never repeat", meaning I never make the same thing twice. Which isn't true of course, but I know what he means. I'm always looking to improve upon recipes and try something new. So for Valentine's Day I let him choose the menu, something new or a repeat of an old favorite. For celebratory meals it seems eating in is at least as romantic as eating out, maybe more. And with a few possible exceptions, no matter what ingredients you buy, you'll be hard pressed to spend more than you would dining out. One year I even made platters of seafood--oysters on the half shell, poached shrimp, mussels, smoked salmon, etc. But the biggest hit was the time I made cheese fondue followed by chocolate fondue. So after deciding we'd rather do Valentine's Day dinner at home this year, Lee expressed his desire for "Fondue x 2", which is our menu du jour. While making cheese fondue can be tricky, maki...
Saturday, February 12, 2005

Writing, writing, writing

Last night I headed over to the Ferry Building Marketplace to meet up with a bunch of local food bloggers and enjoy some wine and nibbles and most importantly some "catch up" with friends. It seemed like everyone had been having a tough week or so. Personally I've been super busy writing--not just here but for Bay Area Bites and for SF Station. On the KQED food blog Bay Area Bites you can read about my search for great hot chocolate . I will be posting something there every Wednesday. On SF Station I wrote both the Shopping and Food & Drink features of the week. The articles are Valentine's Day specials--I hope you will enjoy reading them. Lately I've been wondering am I becoming a food professional? Some people seem to think I am one already. Personally I think of myself as more of a writer with a passion for food. Everywhere I go and everything I do is potential fodder for this space. In fact, even writing every other day, there is more to write ab...
Thursday, February 10, 2005

Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating

When I was growing up I hated sports. I especially hated any sport where a ball could hit me in the head because usually it did. When I was in the outfield during softball and someone yelled "go farther back" I made it as far back as the library where I hung out until physical education class was over. At heart, I'm a researcher. I love information. I even love libraries. Being able to get my hands on the information I am looking for is almost as satisfying as the information itself. Though I gave up my career goal of becoming a librarian in around 6th grade, in every career I have surrounded myself with plenty of reference books. In the culinary field I particularly cherish my reference books. They fall into several categories--the restaurant guides, the books on technique and the resource books. I only have a couple resource books but they are turned to often. My main reference book has been The New Food Lover's Companion , but now there is a new book to share ...
Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Love-ly Events

I've written a couple of articles for Valentine's Day (I'll let you know more and link to them when they are published). The reason I mention it is that writing for Valentine's Day has put me in a dreamy state of mind. This year I'm really getting into the spirit of the holiday, I've been musing over what to cook for Valentine's Day dinner and I'm even sending off Valentine's Day care packages to some friends and relations that got sorely neglected back in December.... In preparation for Valentine's Day here are a handful of local events that may get you in the mood too. Admission is free for all events listed. The first event is a delicious wine and chocolate tasting, and it takes place at CocoaBella, a chocolate shop I wrote about recently. Thursday & Friday, February 10th & 11th, 6 PM - 9 PM: CocoaBella Port and Madeira Tasting (2102 Union St @ Webster) CocoaBella has partnered with Broadbent , a local wine importer and ...

Candy For Your Ears

On another note...Do you know what a meme is? It has a lot of definitions, coming from the word memory. In modern parlance it's a "self-replicating unit of information" kind of like a cross between memory and gene. On the internet meme's are kind of like chain-letters. Even though this is a music meme, it is being passed around the community of food bloggers. Don't ask me why! Since Viv asked me and since it does not involve sending anyone socks, and since I'll try almost anything once, here goes... Music in my Kitchen What is the total number of music files on your computer? 233 CDs (or 12.24 GB) The CD you last bought? Not sure but it was either Medulla by Bjork or from a basement on a hill by Elliott Smith. What is the song you last listened to before reading this message? Home by Zero 7 Write down 5 songs you often listen to or that mean a lot to you. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart--Wilco There She Goes--The La's Big T...
Sunday, February 06, 2005

Figgie Goodness

I've always loved figs. I grew up with a fig tree that was an imposing presence in front of our house and a favorite for climbing. Back then I only ate figs out of hand. As I've gotten older I have grown to appreciate the many other ways there are to eat figs. Adding them to salads, grilling them, serving them with ricotta, drizzling them with balsamic vinegar, making fig tapenade, baking with them--you name it. So you can imagine how happy I was to see and taste so many fantastic fig products at the Fancy Food Show . This year it seemed there were more products than ever using figs as an ingredient. Figs were combined with nuts, honey and other fruits in jams, pastes, sauces and conserves and a whole host of other products. No question about it, figs are really gaining in popularity. Two of my favorite fig discoveries at the show were Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig Jam and the girl and the fig's Apricot Fig Chutney. Both products were developed by wonderful restaurant...
Friday, February 04, 2005

Pomegranate Barbecue Sauce:Recipe

I can barely believe it, but my bottle of pomegranate molasses is almost empty! To think I bought it just a little over six months ago . I have gotten a lot of mileage out of it--stews, marinades, salad dressing, kebabs and now, barbecue sauce. It occurred to me just a few weeks ago that its distinctive tangy flavor would be perfect for ribs or meaty vegetables like mushrooms or eggplant. So I began experimenting with it until I came up with a recipe I liked. Fresh pomegranate is a labor intensive ingredient, but pomegranate molasses adds a rich taste to sauces, soups and stews with a minimum of effort. My theory is that it is used in Middle Eastern cooking much like wine is used in Western cooking. It adds fruitiness, acidity and depth of flavor, though unlike wine, it is already "reduced" to a thick syrupy consistency. It also adds a beautiful dark ruby color to glazed meats or vegetables. I particularly like the Cortas brand which you can find in Middle Eastern market...
Wednesday, February 02, 2005

This is a menu created by a handful of food and wine bloggers who all wanted to do something for the victims of the tsunami. So we did what we do best perhaps, we contributed our recipes. It's been said before--we are all connected. We are all connected to this region in some way, even if just through our appreciation for the food. Hopefully we are also connected in our concern and our generosity. By clicking on the menu items you can visit other blogs and see other recipes. But when you are through exploring, please consider making a donation to those in need. Perhaps you will be providing them a meal too. Samosas Makes 16, but you can make 1/2 this recipe if you prefer 2 cups flour 1/2 tsp salt 4 Tbsp oil 6 Tbsp water, more if necessary Filling: 1 onion, finely chopped 2 T oil 4 large potatoes, cooked and cubed 1 cup green peas 1 t cumin 1 t garam masala 1/2 T fresh grated ginger 1 T lemon juice 4 T water 1 t salt pinch cayen...