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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...
Saturday, October 15, 2005

I'm always eager for new snacks and breakfast ideas, and the Cucumber Pancakes at One Hot Stove look scrumptious. Continuing the Indian theme, the past week marked the conclusion to the Hindu holiday Navrati commemorating the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasur. While some people fast, others enjoy special foods like the creamy Almond Kheer at The Green Jackfruit. I had just received Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by the ever controversial Julie Powell when I came upon the latest Julie bashing post over at Too Many Chefs. I believe this qualifies as stirring the pot...!...
Thursday, October 13, 2005

How Slow Can You Go?

What a delicious treat. Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini . It was billed as an interview but it was more like an elaboration on a manifesto, a manifesto that has been put forth in the book Slow Food: A Case for Taste . Carlo Petrini is funny, smart, provocative, and passionate in a way that only Italians can be. You may have read some of his writings (such as the aforementioned book) but if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, by all means do. For me it was all the more delectable to enjoy the lecture in Italian but kudos to Corby Kummer (author of The Pleasures of Slow Food ) who did an excellent job translating. Here are some of the points that Petrini touched on during the lecture: * Fair pay for farmers, food producers and all those who directly labor to bring food to our table * Respect and value for the traditional wisdom of farmers and food producers * Dialogue and collaboration between farmers and scient...
Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Muhammara Recipe

In your cupboard or pantry do you have a bottle of pomegranate molasses? If not, why? I've already told you that it's a delicious ingredient to add to soups and sauces and the like. Do you need another recipe to convince you? Ok then. Reason number 27 for buying pomegranate molasses: muhammara. Say it with me "mu-ha-mmara". It sounds sexy and exotic. I wish it was as beautiful to look at as it is to say but alas, it is not. Muhammara is an earthy terra cotta colored roasted red pepper dip that is complex and savory flavored with walnuts, cumin and garlic. Though originally from the southeastern part of Turkey it is also common in Lebanon, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries. The secret ingredient? Yup, pomegranate molasses. Just a tablespoon gives a rich tang to this dip. This recipe is a no-brainer, the only technique involved is roasting red peppers and hitting "pulse" on your food processor. Because it gets better the next day it's perfect ...
Sunday, October 09, 2005

The most spectacular post of the week is not a post at all, but an electronic book, the second brought to you by Tasting Menu blogger Hillel Cooperman. In creating Autumn Omokase from Tatsu Nishino the team has really outdone themselves with fantastic writing, photography, design and concept. Download this free book, if you haven't already. Continuing on the Fall theme, check out A Simple Fall Breakfast at SF Gourmet. I too have been enjoying fruit and ricotta or yogurt and honey as a breakfast and sometimes as a dessert. Simple, but simply wonderful. Finally I learned about the Cheese Bar event at The Cheeseboard from The Cheese Diaries. After reading about it, I hope I get to go to the next one. If you are looking for an excuse to go over to Berkeley, this sounds like a good one....
Friday, October 07, 2005

Medicine Eatstation: Restaurant Review CLOSED

Medicine. Does that sound like a restaurant? I didn't think so. But then I had a chance to eat there and experience what "new-Shojin" style eating is all about. It's a cuisine grounded in Zen Buddhism. The food is vegan and excludes even onions and garlic. Why? Because this is food to support spiritual enlightenment. It is not meant to excite the palate or stimulate the senses. If you can accept that as the premise behind the cuisine, you have a better chance of appreciating it as I did when I got a chance to try it at an event a week ago. I shared a meal with Joy so check out her review over at Confessions of a Restaurant Whore . Incidentally she seems to remember the meal in much better detail than I do. The name of the restaurant is actually Medicine Eatstation . It is located in the midst of the downtown financial district, an oasis of calm for the harried. Located up on the second floor of the Crocker Galleria, it has a slightly ethereal quality. It is simple,...
Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Arab Table: Cookbook review

I'm embarrassed to say I don't know much about Ramadan. This year the Muslim holiday coincides with the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish New Year and day of atonement. Fortunately I just received The Arab Table a beautiful new cookbook that includes sections on major holidays, their significance, and culinary traditions. The book serves as a great introduction to Arab culture through food. All 175 recipes are personally introduced, with the author telling you where the recipe came from, the background of the dish or something about the ingredients. The recipes are designed for American cooks and the techiques are not difficult, although some of the ingredients may seem exotic such as tahini, rose water, sumac, and freka (green wheat). The author shares lots of tips and stories making the book a joy to read. If you'd like to get a sneak peek, you can see some recipes here . There are several recipes that are traditional for Ramadan, the month in wh...
Monday, October 03, 2005

Happy New Year, Black Eyed Peas!

Do black eyed peas have any symbolic significance to you? They symbolize different things in different cultures but are often associated with New Years. In the American South, a dish of black eyed peas and ham called Hopping John is eaten to bring good luck on New Years day. In the South black eyed peas are considered a food of poverty and eating them is supposed to promote humility. In Texas it is called "caviar" and most often symbolizes wealth and abundance. In Scotland and Great Britain the tradition of "first footing" includes giving a bowl of black eyed pea soup on New Years day to the first person to step into a house. The cook is rewarded with a kiss! Tonight is the eve of Rosh Hashanah, which marks the Jewish New Year. The main foods I associate with the New Year are super sweet and not surprisingly are supposed to signify sweetness. A commonly known tradition is to eat apples and honey. Tastier but also very sweet is a sticky confection called Teiglach...
Saturday, October 01, 2005

First a post with a recipe that is just my kind of cooking--easy and mouth-wateringly good, Tuna Livornese at Stephen Cooks. Second another hilarious post from Food Migration. Cindy's description of the Swiss Chard Gratin literally had me laughing out loud. Finally, truth be told, haven't you always wanted to name a sheep? Head over to Foodie Farm Girl and Name That Sheep . Whatever you do, don't miss the comments section of this post where the entries are posted....