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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...