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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...