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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pappa al Pomodoro: Recipe

Tuscans are infamous for being stingy. But when it comes to food that's not necessarily a bad thing. They are experts at cooking beans and even make a delicious soup called "cooked water" that is chock full of vegetables and topped with an egg. While living in Florence, I learned to make pappa al pomodoro, a typically Tuscan version of comfort food on the cheap. Thanks to Derrick over at Obsession with Food for hosting IMBB25 Stale Bread which reminded me of this dish that I love and hadn't made in ages (and just happens to use stale bread). Pappa is "pap" or baby food. But imagine a thick soup that is infused with ripe tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, basil, and flavored with extra virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese. Pappa al pomodoro is classically Italian; it's not about fancy technique, but simple, excellent quality ingredients. Not only is it easy to make but it's easy to procure the necessary high quality ingredients practically year r...

Itty Bitty Contest Winners

Congratulations to Brett who has won the Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook . The other two correct guessers were Chubby and Anni . All the prize winners are also food bloggers. I think that's a first! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. FOOD...
Saturday, April 29, 2006

Keep guessing...

So dear readers, here's the deal--only one person has correctly guessed all of the items in Thursday's Itty Bitty Contest . Instead of announcing the winner today as I originally planned I am extending the contest one more day. There's still a chance to be a runner up and win a prize. Tomorrow I will be participating in IMBB 25, Stale Bread (really!). I am going to make something I learned in Italy. Is it a salad? A soup? A stuffing? A dessert? Come back tomorrow and find out... FOOD...
Thursday, April 27, 2006

Itty Bitty Contest

Small is not only beautiful but also edible. Take a good look at each of the photos below and then decide what you think they are. Leave your answers in the comments section along with your email. The first person to guess all the items will win the utterly delightful Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook featuring 100 recipes. Two runners up will win packages of Marcona almonds. Only one entry per person, so choose carefully! Remember, you MUST include your email to win. Good luck! 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. FOOD...
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Still hungry?

I shop at Rainbow Grocery at least once a month. Their prices on vitamins are terrific, and I really like their selection of cheeses and bulk foods. Best of all, at the back of the San Francisco SBC Yellow Pages are 20% off store coupons. This Sunday April 30th from 10 until 6, Rainbow Grocery is having a Customer Appreciation Day party. According to the store website, at this free event there will be activities for kids and adults, live music, prizes and many giveaways. Rainbow is located in San Francisco in the Mission District at 1745 Folsom Street at 13th Street (also known as Division), which is right under the central freeway. READ MORE Over at Bay Area Bites is my take on just what makes Rainbow Grocery so great. FOOD...
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Now hear this...

Tonight at 8:00 pm. on KQED 88.5 FM (or 89.3 FM) the City Art & Lectures encore program features noted food writers and commentators, R. W. Apple and Calvin Trillin. You can also listen live, online just click the "listen live" link. I haven't heard it but plan on listening in. R.W. Apple , Jr. is associate editor of The New York Times and writes about the arts, culture and food, as well as domestic affairs and international politics. Calvin Trillin is a long-time contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times OpEd pages and is "deadline poet" for The Nation. FOOD...

Mocha Banana Bread: Recipe

I read recipes like a scientist would, imagining the results in my head. Like a scientist I also tweak the ingredients and techniques to come up with different results. I rarely follow recipes word for word anymore. Perhaps I'm a mad scientist since I start with solid recipes then I veer off in my own direction. I guess this also means my kitchen is really my lab. Reader comments (that I find with recipes on the internet) allow me to be historian in addition to scientist, to see where things went well, where they didn't and make changes accordingly. The only problem is, I don't always know those making the comments well enough to trust their comments. Is it possible they didn't follow the directions? Do they have radically different tastes than my own? Who are these people passing judgment on someone else's recipes? In looking to develop my own version of banana bread, I started with some cookbooks then moved on to the internet. I found that banana breads are f...
Monday, April 24, 2006

Still hungry?

READ MORE Over at the Dannon Kitchen is my current post and recipe for a Banana Nut Smoothie which was inspired by the flavors of banana bread. With any luck I'll have a banana bread recipe here tomorrow! FOOD...
Sunday, April 23, 2006

This week three highly entertaining posts to enjoy like the fleeting sun... I've missed reading Brett's posts over at In Praise of Sardines, fortunately, he's back! And this week he posted about the art of frying an egg , taking us from a local farmer's market all the way to Spain. He even included Velasquez in his post, twice. How often does that happen? Don't miss it. What do asparagus, artichokes, crispy bacon and pizza have in common? I'm not telling. Go visit Jam Faced to read his brilliant commentary on the subject. Sometimes it takes a newcomer to really show the locals what their town is all about. Whether you live here or not, you will enjoy Cindy's hillarious observations of the Bay Area . FOOD...
Friday, April 21, 2006

David Burke's New American Cookbook: Cookbook Review

Last night on one of the current crop of cooking reality shows, Bravo's Top Chef , the contestants were divided into two teams. Both were charged with coming up with a restaurant concept. One chose cutting edge Spanish cuisine and the other--updated home style American cooking. Even if you didn't catch that episode, you probably won't be surprised to learn that the American concept won out in customer satisfaction. Comfort and familiarity resonates with American diners. Keeping that in mind, it's no wonder that there seems to be a new American cookbook being published every other day. Not that that's a bad thing. For the most part they each have their merits, and like true Americans, they offer up unique twists and individual contributions. One of the latest in this genre is David Burke's New American Classics . Even the format of this book is unique. Each recipe is presented in a classic version, a contemporary treatment and a second day option. An example? Cla...
Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Still hungry?

READ MORE Over at Bay Area Bites is my interview with Anthony Bourdain about his current TV show, No Reservations. And part two, the "nasty bits" posted by my colleague Stephanie of the Grub Report . FOOD + TRAVEL + TELEVISION...

Passover Nut Brittle: Recipe

Imagine walking into your local supermarket and finding a display of Easter candy at Christmas time. Or better yet a display of chocolate during Lent. That's what it feels like when looking for Jewish holiday foods. It's as if grocers think to themselves, "well, it's Jewish and it's a holiday, let's just put out what we've got!" This year, as usual, there were so few products available the week before Passover that I just snagged whatever I could find. The matzah meal wasn't kosher for Passover, but it was that or nothing. Surprisingly they had a couple boxes of matzah farfel and I picked one up with no clue as to what I would do with it. This can actually be my favorite form of grocery shopping, picking up a mystery item and challenging myself to do something with it. Matzah farfel is basically little chips of matzah that you can use for stuffing or in place of soup noodles. Or you can get extremely creative and make brittle. I found a recipe...
Monday, April 17, 2006

Curry Deviled Eggs: Recipe

Despite my aversion to Christmas, I have always loved Easter. My experience of it was never religious, but purely secular. Growing up, Easter meant a celebration of Spring, egg hunts, fluffy bunnies and chicks, dyeing eggs with onion skins and flowers, and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. For several years I got to work in a gourmet store in the weeks leading up to Easter. The only thing better than taking home broken chocolate Santas had to have been taking home broken chocolate bunnies My other favorite memories of Easter include the ones spent in Italy where I saw the spectacular exploding carriage ritual in Florence known as Lo Scoppio del Carro . Of course there was also food, including those lovely hollow Perugina eggs filled with toys and the traditional dove-shaped sweet bread called La Colomba. How much do I love Easter? I even love deviled eggs. That's the featured recipe today over at the Dannon Kitchen . Read my post about angel food and devil's food. It's ...
Sunday, April 16, 2006

Still hungry?

READ MORE Over at SF Station is my review of Quince restaurant. FOOD...
Saturday, April 15, 2006

While there may be a break in the weather in the beginning of the week, take a look at the extended forecast: So for this week's posts I choose to escape the rain and head out of town. First we go to Vienna , a grey and moody place but filled with wonderful delights all written travel guide style by Chubby Hubby. Next Nordljus doesn't let the grey weather get her down, she heads to the beach at Aldeburghe . A photojournal and a gravlax discussion ensues. Finally all the way to Sidney with Grab Your Fork, we head to the Flemington Market where smiling vendors and their colorful produce are sunshine-y bright and cheery. Stay dry, and don't let the weather get you in the dumps! FOOD...
Thursday, April 13, 2006

Favorite Things: Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Crush

Vanilla is intoxicating. It has a warm, relaxing bouquet that is heady and lush. A pantry staple it is traditionally combined with chocolate but it also rounds out citrus flavors and even provides a counterpoint to seafood. Like saffron, vanilla is so labor-intensive to harvest that there is no way to get it cheaply, if you want the good stuff. Vanilla orchid blossoms bloom only one day a year and have to be hand-pollinated then they take around nine months to mature. After being picked, by hand of course, they are bathed, wrapped in blankets, dried in the sun, sweated and fermented. Whew! Vanilla comes from the exotic locations of Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti. Madagascar Bourbon vanilla is rich and sweet, the beans thin. Mexican vanilla is smooth and rich, but very rare these days. Tahitian vanilla beans are thick, dark and more aromatic, but less flavorful. So which one should you buy? Easy. Sonoma Syrup's Pure Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush" of Madagascar Bourbon an...
Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Still hungry?

READ MORE Over at Bay Area Bites is my take on the Russian food and a recipe for syrniki . FOOD...
Tuesday, April 11, 2006

All about Beets

Some vegetables are easy to love. And while I think of beets as Russian comfort food, they can be challenging for people. The color is so strong, the preparation is almost always messy and the flavor is, well, let's just call it "earthy". I once described beets as bombs. Paint bombs, to be exact. But that intense color combined with the explosion of sweetness can carry a dish. Beets are amazingly versatile when you think about it, they are tasty hot or cold, you can eat them raw, boiled, baked or steamed, or juice them. They are easily available from Summer through Winter so it makes sense to get to know them and more than just one or two ways to use them. If the red color is too intimidating, think about trying Chiogga beets that come in brilliant yellow tones. Another way to capitalize on their sweeetness and moisture is to hide them in a chocolate cake (chocolate beet cake recipes abound on the internet). Or concentrate on using the bitter greens, they are especiall...
Monday, April 10, 2006

Last Chance!

Today is the last day to take the Cooking with Amy Survey . If you haven't taken it yet, it's just a short online survey that was put together so I can get a better sense of who is visiting and how I might improve Cooking with Amy. Just to be perfectly clear, I have no plans to accept advertising, the survey is only to help me to improve the site and better understand what you are looking for when you visit. I'm not interested in making money from the site, just in making it better. If you take the survey, you will also have the opportunity to join a panel of food experts. From time to time Cooking with Amy will be conducting surveys and soliciting your opinions about food and beverages, products and services that might be of interest to you. In return for your participation, I will occasionally be offering incentives such as products to try, gift certificates or cookbooks. Thanks to everyone who took the survey! I really appreciate it. FOOD + SURVEY...

Passover & Easter

Passover begins Wednesday evening, and that presents some dietary challenges for those of us observing the holiday. Here is a selection of recipes from the Cooking with Amy archives that are kosher for Passover: Fig Tapenade Spinach Salad Creamy Beet Soup Roasted Baby Artichokes Gremolata Chicken Toffee Chocolate Matzah Crunch Cinnamon Balls (use kosher for Passover powdered sugar or omit it) You can also read my post all about Passover from last year. Passover 2005 READ MORE Over at the Dannon Kitchen is my latest post and a recipe Lamb for Easter FOOD + PASSOVER + EASTER...
Sunday, April 09, 2006

Because it was my favorite color when I was little, I'm choosing a sampling of lovely green posts this week. First off Bea over at La Tartine Gourmande combines green and white in a Green Pea Soup , but it's so much more than that. For a start it's veloute, and it includes dill, cucumber and whipped cream. Yup, whipped cream. Over at Delicious Days, one of my all-time favorite food blogs, spring is welcomed with two recipes , a Green Asparagus Tart with Potatoes and Asparagus Risotto with Poached Egg. I make asparagus risotto all the time, but never considered the egg. I'd say I'm green with envy, but it's really just admiration. Last, but certainly not least, a very luscious leek post from Shuna at Eggbeater, who shares the secrets to Sexy, Succulent, Sensuous Leeks . Easy peasy if you follow the intructions. Peas not included. FOOD + GREEN...
Saturday, April 08, 2006

Charles Chocolates News

Last month when I visited Charles Chocolates in Emeryville I got a sneak peak at what the future held, including tastes of a few delicious new chocolates not quite launched yet. Today I can tell you the new chocolates are caramels and marzipans. The caramels come in two flavors; fleur de sel and bittersweet chocolate fleur de sel. Each caramel square is coated with their 65% bittersweet chocolate blend. The distinctive marzipan which comes in two fresh fruit flavors; Meyer lemon and orange, is also coated in the bittersweet chocolate blend. Chuck worked hard to create a marzipan which is less pasty, fresher and more rough textured than the typical marzipan. Lee and I loved it. As part of the introduction of these two new products, Charles Chocolates has created very special gift boxes for them made entirely of chocolate. The base is bittersweet chocolate and the cocoa butter decorated lid is El Rey’s very special white chocolate (this is the only white chocolate they use, it...
Friday, April 07, 2006

Tofu Scramble: Recipe

If it was up to Lee, we'd eat eggs everyday for breakfast. But I get bored with that routine. Personally I don't mind eating leftovers from the night before for my breakfast but Lee is more of a traditionalist. So what to do? For a while I was making "fake egg" omelettes on a weekly basis. But in looking for a little more variety I decided to try to recreate something we've seen on restaurant menus--tofu scramble. Tofu scrambles aren't just for people trying to avoid eggs, they also make for a nice change of pace. And they add a significant amount of healthy soy to your diet. Soy is a great source of protein, something you need in the morning and sadly lacking in things like pancakes, waffles and pastries. It's also a good source of trytophan, and minerals including iron, manganese, selenium, copper, magnesium and calcium. Tofu is pretty similar to scrambled eggs in texture. If you like soft eggs, use soft tofu and if you like your scramble drier, use...
Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Michelin San Francisco and the Bay Area 2007

So here's the big news. Michelin's first West coast guide and the second in the United States will be released in October of this year. The Guide will cover hotels and restaurants in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Berkeley, as well as the Wine Country including Napa and Sonoma. Voila! “The Bay Area’s food-conscious residents value innovative cuisine and are passionate about using fresh ingredients, including some of the country’s highest quality organic ingredients that are produced here,” said Jean-Luc Naret, worldwide director of the Michelin Guide. “We are eagerly anticipating the Michelin Guide’s entry into this wonderful city known for its cuisine, culture, beauty and innovative spirit.” This may or may not have been big news to you. In any case if you want to, you can read more about it here . READ MORE Over at Bay Area Bites is my take on the Chronicle Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants FOOD + SAN FRANCISCO...

"Foodie" Announcement

Ok this is so silly I debated posting it, but here goes... IMPORTANT SAN FRANCISCO/BAY AREA “FOODIE” ANNOUNCMENT - APRIL 5, 12:15 PM Join us for unveiling of international news affecting Bay Area & Wine Country restaurant & hotel scene WHAT: Something big – think international news with prestige and a topic that will have all the bold name Bay Area food connoisseurs like Alice Waters and Thomas Keller talking – will be unveiled tomorrow make that today in San Francisco. do you think Alice and Thomas will be talking to each other? I wonder if they knew they were connoisseurs, in addition to restauranteurs WHY: This will be a great “good news” piece for the Bay Area and the local hospitality community hospitality=hotel . This announcement will put the entire Bay Area region on the map in the global food/wine scene. Well thank goodness! Finally! We've been under the radar for so long now... VISUALS & SOUNDBITE...
Monday, April 03, 2006

Meet the Editor/Lemon Sugar Biscuits

As of today, I can talk about it. Which is lucky because I am not good at keeping secrets! I am the second guest host/editor at the Dannon Kitchen . I follow in the footsteps of Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan (editor of the blog Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen ) who has provided posts and original recipes since the beginning of the year. Every Monday, from now until the end of June, on the Dannon Kitchen site you'll find new content including a recipe, post and tip written by yours truly. When Dannon approached me I was really excited about the opportunity because I actually use Dannon yogurt. Their plain yogurt is an all-natural product with live active cultures, no artificial ingredients and no gelatin or other thickeners. I've found its consistency makes it great for baking and cooking. While I rarely buy fruit flavored yogurt, Dannon Fruit on the Bottom did get top honors in a Real Simple taste test a couple of years ago. Creating 13 new recipes was a great challenge and...
Saturday, April 01, 2006

This week's theme? Thai noodles! Two posts on Thai noodles really made me crave them. And if you aren't in the mood for Thai noodles, check out a more post for the "holiday". Chubby Hubby shares his Thai noodle adventures , including cooking school in Chiang Mai and a recipe for Khai Soi Gai a tangy delicious curry noodle dish. Check out those gorgeous photos! Meanwhile closer to home, Tea and Cookies has her own Thai noodle adventure, discovering a broccoli and noodle dish then ordering the wrong thing and finally a recipe for Pad See You. I think I may now have to try Osha, her recommended Thai noodle spot. Finally for those celebrating the holiday, Brownie Points serves up lots of good suggestions for creating something appropriate. See her own efforts here . FOOD + NOODLES...