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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Gremolata Chicken Recipe

Gremolata sounds like a character out a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Perhaps Gremolata could be a princess? Or a witch? Or even an enchanted kingdom? But no, gremolata is a garnish made of lemon peel, garlic and parsley. Some versions include anchovy or rosemary as well. Gremolata is traditionally served as a garnish with Osso Buco. In Italian osso means bone and buco means hole. Osso Buco is a dish made with a veal shank bone which has a large marrow filled "hole". What gremolata means I have no idea. What I do know is that the pungent raw flavors of gremolata "brighten" up a long-simmered dish such as Osso Buco. Versions of it are used with different kinds of soups and stews as well. Gremolata is always used as a garnish after a dish is done, but I recently started musing about all sorts of other things you could do with gremolata in recipes. By adding another ingredient or two it becomes a great addition to meatballs, or a topping for pasta or fish, e...
Thursday, April 28, 2005

Aloha!

Time for a quick vacation! I will be in Hawaii for one week, swimming, snorkeling and eating my scoops of rice and macaroni salad. Those of you who have had a plate lunch know exactly what I'm talking about. I will be posting from the beach, but don't expect anything about Hawaii until after I get back and have a chance to upload some original photos. If you have any hot tips or favorite restaurants on Oahu, please feel free to post them in the comments section. Aloha & Mahalo! Amy...
Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Passover 2005

Passover began this past Saturday night. By Monday morning there were many posts about it on blogs so I thought I would add mine as well. Passover is a major Jewish holiday and involves themes of freedom, liberation, redemption, Spring, family, connection--many things we all hold dear. The "telling" of the Passover narrative is done through songs, prayers, rituals and stories around the dinner table. Seders takes place two nights in a row, while the holiday lasts a week. The concept of a seder is a hard to explain, it refers to the dinner and service, but actually seder means "order" as there is a prescribed order for all things at Passover. The collage above is my attempt to capture one of the two seders I had the pleasure of participating in this year. It is a pleasure because it means reconnecting with an extended group of family and friends that I care so much about. Starting on the left, the table is filled with flowers representing Spring and the care and...
Sunday, April 24, 2005

Frozen Mango Lassi Recipe

I just wrote about a Hong Kong style mango dessert, but when I heard the next "Is My Blog Burning" was themed Orange your hungry? all I could think of was "I MUST come up with a mango recipe." I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to fixate on mangoes. In general I like mangoes uncooked. They are terrific with Thai style sticky rice, as a filling in crepes, in fruit salad, in a salsa and also in mango lassi. Lassi is an Indian beverage made from yogurt or buttermilk, and water. It can be sweet or salty and is a great thing to drink with spicy food. Mango lassi is a sweet drink, flavored with mango puree. It occurred to me that mango lassi is so cool and refreshing, what about chilling it down even further to the point of freezing it? When I was growing up we used to make a dessert of pureed frozen bananas, so why not mangoes? I always like to find a recipe that only has two or three ingredients but tastes like heaven. Mashed potatoes, grilled...
Friday, April 22, 2005

Revamping the Pyramid

Have you seen the new food pyramid put out by the US Agriculture department? One the plus side, it's awfully colorful, it has a person engaged in activity/exercise in it and it's customizable (you can put in your age, gender and level of activity). There are twelve customized versions of the pyramid now. But sadly it's a poor replacement for the original. First off, the old pyramid had actual icons of food in it so at a glance you could see the basics like "eat more grains, and less meat". The new one has no icons because the government says it's "conceptual". All the blocks have been turned sideways and into bands of color so seeing their relative size differences is tough. The idea of twelve different pyramids to reflect differing needs and calories for everyone is probably a good one, but who's going to count calories every day? Not me! And how often are you likely to go to the web to remember what you ought to be eating? The government mus...
Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Quicheless Leek Lorraine Recipe

For a time, quiche was the quintessential lunch dish, and then it wasn't. It was all because of one silly book: Real Men Don't East Quiche which was published in 1982. Quiche? Girly? Suddenly no one wanted to to be seen eating quiche. Quiche originated in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. The Alsace borders Germany, actually the region was once part of Germany. Not surprisingly the name quiche comes from the German word "kuchen" a type of German cake. It's a pastry shell filled with a savory baked egg and cream custard. There are lots of varieties of quiche, some of the most well-known versions are Florentine which has spinach, Alsacienne with onions and Lorainne which has bacon and usually Gruyere cheese. I like quiche but it's a bit rich with cream, eggs, cheese and a butter-laden crust. Welcome to France, eh? A few years ago I came across a recipe for a Gouda, Bacon and Leek Pancake in Bon Appetit, it was similar to a quiche but without a crust ...
Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Dulcet Cuisine Madras Curry Sauce & Marinade

I can't remember the first time I had Indian food. But I do remember the time I had my first non-restaurant Indian meal. A friend of mine from Bhopal who was living in Europe made dinner for me. I watched eagerly to learn techniques that were completely foreign to me, such as toasting spices in ghee. That meal took hours to make. In a communal dormitory kitchen I watched as others waltzed in and cooked their dinners in minutes. The most successful Indian feast I ever cooked was with a neighbor. We made it a progressive dinner and each of us cooked several courses. It was a lot of fun but a lot of work. These days I have a box dedicated to Indian spices and every so often I take it out and tackle a few recipes. At the Fancy Food Show this year there were several companies selling sauces that really impressed me. In general I'm not likely to use pre-made sauces but these were different--no artificial ingredients and exotic flavors that were so delicious and not the kinds of...
Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Victory Garden Cookbook: Review

Last week I got a chance to hear Ruth Reichl, the editor of Gourmet magazine speak at a City Arts and Lectures program at Herbst Theater. I took copious notes so I will probably be regaling you with tidbits over the next few weeks. One of the questions asked was: What are your favorite cookbooks, the ones that you couldn't live without? In addition to such classics as Marion Cunningham's Breakfast Book , volumes by Marcella Hazan, and Bruce Cost's Asian Ingredients Reichl also mentioned what she called an "odd one" Marian Morash's The Victory Garden Cookbook . "If you have some vegetable that you can't think quite what to do with she always has great suggestions." said Reichl. Let's just say, I can relate. I bought a used copy of The Victory Garden Cookbook at a garage sale about ten years ago and it immediately became one of my go-to cookbooks. It's long out of print, but you can find it easily on eBay or Amazon . Whenever I am s...
Friday, April 15, 2005

Biscotti Fruit Slices Recipe

In the past couple of weeks I have tried several recipes that have bombed. Recipes, I'm sad to say, I found on the internet. Fortunately there are plenty of good ones out there too. One way to find really good, solid recipes, is to use a credible source. The recipe sites I have listed to your left are tried and true. Food bloggers put their reputation on the line when they post recipes and in my experience, their recipes are quite good as well. If you want to experiment I suggest starting with a recipe from a reputable source, and then making some changes to see how it goes. Don't pick some random recipe and hope for the best. Trust me on this one! I've been making biscotti for years. Biscotti mean "twice baked" in Italian. Like biscuit in French. Biscotti were all the rage a few years ago. One year I even gave them away at Christmas time. But now inspite of no longer being trendy, I like the fact that they are fairly healthy as far as cookies go, have a sati...
Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Cooking with Amy Newsletter

Recently several people have asked if I maintain a mailing list or an email newsletter. Voila! As of today I do. My plan is to send out a monthly email to let you know what I've been up to, share some links to interesting sites and possibly give you a sense of what's to come. Just so you know, I will never share your name and address or sell it nor will I try to sell you anything. I will only send you a newsletter once a month and you can unsubscribe at any time. The sign up form is to your left if you just scroll up a bit. When you sign up you'll be asked to confirm your subscription. If you don't get a confirmation email, check your spam filter--my confirmation got sent there and yours may too. Thanks for your support!...
Monday, April 11, 2005

Mangos, Mangos, Mangos!

Imagine a parade of brightly colored fruity concotions--drinks, puddings and the like in vibrant green, orange, red and yellow. Welcome to the world of healthy desserts. Welcome to the Hong Kong based Creations Dessert House . This chain of shops has expanded from Hong Kong to Taiwan, Singapore and now the U.S. The menu extolls the virtues of various ingredients including the lovely sounding bird's nest and crystal snow. Bird's nest is of course a delicacy made of gelatinous bird spit. And crystal snow is made from frog fat. I swear, I am not making this up. Each is touted as a healthy and nutritious ingredient. Tastiest of all are probably the fruit desserts, many of which prominently feature mango. Coming into the shop for the first time last week, I saw a stack of no fewer than twenty crates of mangos! The mangos I saw seemed to be a flattish yellow variety. Other than mangos, mangos everywhere, the decor was decidedly modern and youthful with oversized chairs, tin...
Saturday, April 09, 2005

Bloggers Come Clean

Do you have any favorite blog or newspaper column that you read on a regular basis? Do you feel you know the writer through their writing? If so, I know how you feel. That's why meeting up with other bloggers is always such a joy for me. This week I participated in two food and wine blogger dinners. One was the first get-together for the participating writers on KQED's Bay Area Bites blog. It was a chance for all of us to meet and get to know each other better. We had a terrific time, talking non-stop, sharing flights of wine and eating off each others plates. We had wine at Nectar Wine Lounge and dinner at Bistro Aix . You can read all about it from each person's perspective on Bay Area Bites today . The other get-together was actually a send off for another food blogger, Pim of Chez Pim who has announced on her blog that she is taking a year off. This same informal group of local bloggers has met several times, we know each other from reading one another's ...
Thursday, April 07, 2005

Spring Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

The weather can't seem to decide what it wants to do, in turn making it hard to decide what to eat: something comforting and cheesy or something fresher and green? I decided the only solution was to combine the two. One of the great American dishes has got to be macaroni and cheese. Gooey, cheesy and rich with a slight crunch on the top it is pure goodness in a casserole dish. The one problem I have with macaroni and cheese is the guilt. It's soooo rich, it's not the healthiest dish in the world. One way to make a dish healthier is to cut back on the rich ingredients, like the milk, butter and cheese. Well, that's no fun! I'd rather add in some heathy but tasty stuff as a compromise that really doesn't feel like a compromise at all. My healthy additions are some peas and artichoke hearts, both tasty Spring arrivals. They both go particularly well with gruyere cheese. And gruyere is a perfect cheese for macaroni and cheese. The topping for this dish is a J...
Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Gary Danko: Restaurant Review

Restaurant Gary Danko is quickly becoming San Francisco's top choice for celebrating special occasions. And so it was that I ate there twice last month--once for a birthday and once for an anniversary. The service is amazingly good and the attention to detail ensures that your meal will feel special. The environment is elegant but relaxed with contemporary art and dazzling floral arrangments throughout the dining rooms. On the downside the tables are so close together that when a glass broke at the table behind us, the glass landed right on me, and my chair...! The format of the menu is somewhat unique. There are five courses to choose from, appetizers, fish and seafood, meat and game birds, a cheese course and desserts. You can choose three, four or five courses and mix and match them any way you like. For my first time dining there, I choose two appetizers a game course, cheese course and dessert. The second time I ate there I had an appetizer, a different game course and des...
Sunday, April 03, 2005

Good Day Sunshine

A big thanks to all who braved the rain and came out to see me in my "guest baker" role in the one-woman show "I Look Like An Egg, But I Identify As A Cookie" . I had a great time and enjoyed chatting with folks after the show, over cookies of course. This was the second time I saw the show and it's really a great slice of life. You don't have to be Canadian, gay, Jewish or even from the Bay Area to laugh at Heather's view of the world. This week is a crazy busy one for me, but I look forward to posting a restaurant review and a new recipe here as well as another Take 5 interview over at Bay Area Bites . Meanwhile if you haven't yet read last week's Take 5 with Jarrett Byrnes of Food Porn Watch , do check it out. Oh, and here's to daylight savings time. Bring on the sun! cheers, Amy...
Friday, April 01, 2005

Got Hot Chocolate?

You know the popular image of hot chocolate as well as I do. Hot chocolate is most notable as the beverage of choice when one is relaxing fireside, in an alpine lodge, possibly after schussing down a snow-covered mountainside. But it really shouldn't be limited to that. In fact I'd like to start a campaign with the slogan "Hot chocolate, it's not just for the dead of winter anymore." Hot chocolate is not the same as "cocoa". Cocoa is a powder and does not contain the cocoa butter that makes chocolate such a luxurious ingredient. Drinking chocolate is the name given to hot chocolates as of late. Drinking chocolates are rich and have more of the bittersweet flavor we have come to love. Hot chocolate is gaining popularity on restaurant menus as a dessert and a number of premium chocolate companies are also now producing drinking chocolate products for home use. As proof of it's popularity even Starbucks has jumped on the bandwagon with "Chanti...