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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Free Tea Cookbook Offer

Here's a cool idea. Celestial Seasonings is offering a free recipe booklet with recipes that go with tea and that include tea, such as delicious sounding treats like Vanilla Rose Poundcake and Pear Ginger Tea Cake. Some of the recipes were contributed by renowned local pastry chef, Emily Luccheti. The catch? The recipes include new Celestial Seasonings teas that are being launched to help raise awareness of the risk of heart disease. It's part of the Go Red for Women campaign. Perhaps you've seen the red dress logo this month? You might not have known that one in three women dies of heart disease, making it the number one killer of women in the United States. But I'm sure you do know that drinking tea has great health benefits, providing antioxidants which are wonderfully heart-healthy. I haven't tried the teas yet, Black Cherry Pomegranate and Vanilla Rose Decaf but they both contain black tea and rooibos, which is a favorite of mine. Rooibos also known a...
Monday, February 27, 2006

Two Bean Salad: Recipe

Consider this my heartfelt apology to the leeks, rutabagas and beets languishing in my fridge. I'm sorry. It's not that I don't love you. I'm just so bored of Winter right now. I yearn for Summer tomatoes, bright fresh herbs, spicy chilies and a little more vibrant color than say, beige, olive drab and reddish-brown. And I'm not the only one feeling this way . Last night we went to a birthday party for a fabulous cake maker . Our instructions were to bring something vegetarian for a potluck. Why don't all my friends throw potlucks? A potluck party is so much fun. You get to meet interesting people and their cuisine. It's a whole other component to the matching up face-name-personality game. So faced with a fridge full of Winter vegetables I headed for the pantry where I found chipotle salsa, white beans, black beans, and yellow corn. I threw in a couple of chopped scallions, a green pepper, a pinch of cumin and a crumble of dried tomatoes. A garnish of...
Saturday, February 25, 2006

Here are three posts that caught my attention this week. They are written by that rare species, the male food blogger. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. First off at Jamfaced, a British blogger blogs about a crusade , a call to arms, what is he blogging about again? You'll just have to visit to find out. I promise it's worth it. Second let's go even farther and to Asia where a certain street-food focused blog, Noodlepie discovers the best sandwich in Saigon. Or does he? You be the judge. Personally I think I may have to check it out when I go to Saigon next January. Finally back to my own backyard for another adventure with In Praise of Sardines. This week he delves into molecular gastronomy to whip up pure chocolate ... FOOD + TEA + SANDWICH + CHOCOLATE ...
Thursday, February 23, 2006

Favorite Things: Breath Palette

Since we eat chocolate on practically a daily basis, for Valentine's day I opted for something a bit unorthodox, fancy toothpaste. Breath Palette is a line of unusually flavored toothpastes from Japan. And when I say unusually flavored I mean it. The 31 flavors, (reminiscent of the famous ice cream brand?) are a mix of savory and sweet and highly aromatic and include Rose, Sweet Salt, Fresh Yogurt, Bitter Chocolate, Pumpkin Pudding and Indian Curry. Suddenly these toothpastes, which were just featured in Oprah's O magazine, are available at Nordstrom , Amazon and possibly even your local drugstore. So what does Monkey Banana toothpaste taste like? Couldn't tell you. But I did check out some other morning fresh flavors such as grapefruit and lemon tea and am pleased to say they are wonderful. I don't like a strong menthol flavor and these are refreshing and mild. They contain a sugar-free base of herbal extracts and Xylitol and are less abrasive and less foamy than ...
Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rice Bran Oil

Which of the following statements about rice bran oil is false ? Rice bran oil: A. is good for cooking tempura and popcorn B. has been proven to lower cholesterol C. has twice as much saturated fat as canola oil D. is produced in India, Japan, China, Thailand and Italy Rice bran oil is great for cooking tempura and popcorn, it's also great for salad dressing. Rice bran oil does lower cholesterol. Take a look at a recent research study to learn more. Rice bran oil is produced in many parts of the world, primarily in Asia but also in Italy and California. So you might be thinking that rice bran oil has less saturated fat than canola oil, but actually it has almost three times as much more. This is the kind of thing that makes evaluating oils and fats so tricky. Just choosing oil or fat that is low in saturated fat doesn't tell the whole story. In the case of rice bran oil there is a whole lot more going on that makes this oil a healthy one. In addition to the cholest...
Sunday, February 19, 2006

I love it when people include their web address in their comments. I discover great blogs that way! This week I share with you some blogs I have recently stumbled upon. 28 Cooks shares a recipe for Polenta Crackers that looks easy and infinitely adaptable. Over at Is it EDible? I found a picture of a vanilla bean orchid . The Pacific Orchid Expo is this weekend in San Francisco, and today is the last day to check it out in person. At Albion Cooks, check out that hearty looking Chickpea and Kale Soup , perfect for this chilly weather and a great way to use Winter vegetables. Finally from a blog I already know and love, Life's a Picnic makes an investment in groceries and discovers another way to get dinner on the table with "Week of Dinners" . A local chef works with you to create seven dinners a week that feed 4-6 people. Cool idea and at a very reasonable price....
Friday, February 17, 2006

Good fat, bad fat & a contest

Now that Valentine's day is over, it's time to get back to trying to eat healthy again. Not that chocolate isn't healthy of course. But what about fat? There I said it. Fat. It's not a bad word. It's a vital component to our health. We need fat in our diet, but how much and which fats are the source of much debate. Making sense of it all can be difficult but here goes. Right off the bat it's important to know that trans-fats are bad news. Trans-fats are the hydrogenated fats that are slowly but surely being replaced in snack foods and margarines. Other fats fall into several big categories, saturated fats, mono-unsaturated fats, and poly-unsaturated fats. The right proportion is key. Unlike trans-fats,none of them are completely bad. While it's best to limit saturated fats, recent research indicates some saturated fats have significant health benefits. For example coconut oil while high in saturated fat, has medium-chain fatty acids which provide energy...
Thursday, February 16, 2006

Did you get it?

Just a quick note to say my monthly email newsletter went out tonight. If you didn't get it, feel free to sign up for it and I'll send you a copy. Usually the newsletter provides a recap of the posts from the prior month along with a preview of what's coming up and some links to sites I think you'll like. This month I shared my thoughts about the site and what to expect in the future. Thanks again for visiting and staying in touch....

Food Fight!

Remember when if one country was really mad at another they pulled out of the Olympics? Well, that was stupid and only served to punish the athletes anyway. So now how far have we come? We rename food instead! As if calling french fries " freedom fries " wasn't dumb enough, apparently Iranians have decided Danish pastries just have to go and have replaced them with " Rose of Muhammad ". What is even more stupid is that Danish pastries are really French in origin and there is no definitive proof that french fries originated in France. It's more likely they were created by a Belgian chef in Spain, the place where potatoes were introduced to Europe. So where will it end? If the Germans get into it with Spain will they rename the Spanish mackerel? If the Albanians start fighting with the Greeks will they rename the Greek salad? Let's stick with the names we know and let countries find a better way to settle differences. Perhaps over a plate of Swedish p...
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Restaurant: Tommy's Joynt

Passing by Tommy's Joynt always makes me smile. The big colorful murals catch my eye and remind me I'm in San Francisco, nowhere else. That's why it was a treat for me to interview general manager Susie Katzman , niece of the original "Tommy" and learn a bit more about the place. A vanishing breed, Tommy's is a "hofbrau" a term used on the West Coast for a type of establishment that serves hand-carved roasts and meats that are served with beer. There used to be lots of them but only a few remain in San Francisco, such as Tommy's and Lefty O'Doul's . Neither of them are a destination for vegetarians, and I can't say the menu is exactly cutting edge, although Tommy's was certainly serving buffalo way before any other restaurants in town. While the heyday for Bay Area hofbraus is long past, there is a nostalgic appeal that goes along with an unpretentious every man atmosphere and big plates of food for not much money. You nev...
Monday, February 13, 2006

Favorite Things: Madras Curry Mustard

Last year at the Fancy Food Show I discovered Dulcet Cuisine's wonderful Madras Curry Sauce & Marinade . While it was the Lemon, Mustard & Dill Sauce that won an award, I really loved the tangy but not too spicy curry sauce, a product with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. I used it on salads, fish, and rice. This year I fell head over heels for Madras Curry Mustard. It really wouldn't have occured to me to mix curry and mustard, but why not? After all mustard seed often shows up as an ingredient in curry. As with the curry sauce, it's not too spicy and has an almost fruity flavor. It is scrumptious on a steak sandwich but I also mixed some with sour cream to make a perfect dip for crudite, not something I'd try with any old mustard. I can't wait to try it on some lamb chops with a bread crumb crust. The Fancy Food Show represents an opportunity to discover new products that are slightly under the radar. Some products I get a taste of and oth...
Saturday, February 11, 2006

Posts of the Week returns! Here are some of my favorites this week. First off, In Praise of Sardines takes on the existence of sardines once and for all with a thoughtful well-researched post. Tigers and Strawberries reviews a book about the history and cultural context of curry . Having made a very non-Indian "curry" this past week this not only caught my eye but was a great read. What would the wrap-up be without a recipe? Esurientes discovers a "Delicious" food magazine, a terrific scallop recipe and another use for frozen peas. It doesn't hurt that the recipe was created by Nigella Lawson....
Friday, February 10, 2006

Got lemons...?

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

All about Meyer Lemons

If you like the tang of lemons, but not the pucker, Meyer lemons are for you. They are not nearly as tart as conventional lemons, and their peel is slightly sweet. Like a regular lemon perfected, the color and juice are amped up and the peel is thinned down. We are at the peak of Meyer lemon season here in the Bay Area and they can be found perking up markets, backyards and fruit bowls everywhere. Look how neon bright they are! Like so much citrus fruit, the Meyer lemon was originally found in China. In 1905 the US Department of Agriculture hired Frank Meyer as a plant hunter and in 1908 he "discovered" the Meyer lemon in Peking (now Beijing). It is believed that the Meyer lemon is a hybrid between Citrus limon , the lemon, and Citrus reticulata , the mandarin orange. It is a very hardy plant and bears fruit from November through April. I get very excited about Meyer lemons, because they are as versatile and easy to use as they are beautiful. Meyer lemons are great in m...
Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Do Rutabagas Exist?

This is my box of organic produce, delivered today. It contains satsumas, Nantes carrots, yellow onions, red onions, spinach, rutabagas, Meyer lemons, Gold Blush apples, kiwis, lettuce, kale and leeks. Around 10 pounds of produce, maybe a bit more. Prior to signing up for the delivery from Capay Organic, Farm Fresh to You I rarely cooked with Meyer lemons, rutabagas or kale. The only thing I knew how to do with kale was use it in soup called ribollita, that I learned to make in Tuscany. And what about rutabagas? Are they just a cross between rudimentary and bagels? No, they are most likely a cross between a cabbage and a turnip and not surprisingly taste vaguely cabbagey and turnipy. So what do I do with Meyer lemons? I promise to tell you tomorrow . For great recipes using my farm fresh ingredients, I will be turning to Homegrown Pure and Simple a book I reviewed over at Bay Area Bites today. In particular there is a recipe for a Garden Vegetable and Potato Lyonnaise that soun...
Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Blue at 11:00

No, this isn't going to be about late night dirty movies (I hope you're not too disappointed!) "Blue at eleven o'clock" was the initial instruction given to those of us attending a French cheese tasting a couple of weeks ago. Before trying each cheese a cheesemaker spoke about it, explaining where it came from, how it was made and various other details. On our plate were six cheeses and "blue at eleven" was to make sure we tasted in the correct order. This was the first formal cheese tasting I ever attended and rather than give you a blow by blow or rather bite by bite account, I have compiled some of what I learned into a mini quiz for your entertainment and edification. Answers are in the first comment. 1. "Cheese is the heart beat of France" A. Mais oui! B. Non, c'est la folie 2. Ossau-Iraty is: A. A marriage of two cheeses Ossau and Iraty B. Named after a famous Basque statesman 3. The best milk for Camembert comes from: A...
Sunday, February 05, 2006

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Hong Kong, January 2003 (photo by Lee Sherman) The year of the Dog kicked off on January 29th, but the celebrations don't conclude until Lantern Day , February 12th. To get you in the spirit, here is a round up of some Chinese New Year's food posts: Sweet treats Woof Woof! No dogs were harmed in this post The Buddha Jumps! Lunar Birthday Party How I spent my Chinese New Years... Dumpling Madness *If I missed your favorite Chinese New Year post, please feel free to mention it in the comment section. HONG KONG + CHINA + CHINESE NEW YEAR...
Friday, February 03, 2006

San Francisco, now in Jell-o!

Really. The City. In Jell-o . Would I make that up? Nope. In fact I discovered it on a couple other blogs, both here and here . How is it done? In the artist, Liz Hickok 's words: "I make the landscapes by constructing scale models of the architectural elements which I use to make molds. I then cast the buildings in Jell-O. Similar to making a movie set, I add backdrops, which I often paint, and elements such as mountains or trees, and then I dramatically light the scenes from the back or underneath. The Jell-O sculptures quickly decay, leaving the photographs and video as the remains." Tonight ONLY come see what promises to be an amazing installation at the Exploratorium . For the price of admission, attend the opening night party of the exhibit "Reconsidered Materials" . From 7 to 9 pm the whole museum will be filled with performances, films, a live DJ and one-night-only artworks, such as this one. Reconsidered Materials explores the subtle and abstr...
Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jaded Palate Syndrome

Medicine Eatstation uses a tagline on their web site "Simple food for jaded palates". In San Francisco, despite a plethora of wonderful restaurants it is easy to sometimes feel jaded. As it has been observed, many local restaurants have almost identical menus. Tuna tartar, beet and goat cheese salad, roast chicken or braised short ribs, anyone? So where do you take your jaded palate to really wake up your senses? Surprisingly, for me it hasn't necessarily been five star dining establishments. Recently the places that have impressed me the most have had one thing in common in addition to good food, great service that conveyed a sincere welcome and a sense of the love and care that went into my meal. Sometimes food was even served up by the chefs themselves. The concept of "maitri" or loving kindness is central at Medicine Eatstation, and something I have experienced at places like Tajine, Pastores, Darbar and at Lettus Organic. At Tajine chef-owner Mohamme...