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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blog of the Week

I may not have made anyone's Blog Day 2006 list, but a big thanks to This Mama Cooks for having chosen Cooking with Amy as Food Blog of the Week. Check out Mama's site to find even more blogs of the week, a Ramones lunchbox and a freezer full of antelope (I swear I am not making this up!) FOOD...

Blog Day 2006

I have a hard time keeping up with all the food blogs I already read. But I discover lots more through the comments on my site and also from blogs that have linked to me. Here are some of the ones I have discovered recently. I hope you enjoy them too! If you want to participate, just link to 5 new blogs and include the technorati tag Blog Day 2006. Happy Blog Day everyone. My first pick is A Mingling of Tastes . Based in Ft. Lauderdale, Julie has such a great sense of humor, I can really count on her to put a smile on my face. Plus she's much better at plating than I am. Can we ever have too many ex-pat food blogs from Paris? I think not! When I first heard the name La Petite Chinoise I thought it was the fine mesh cooking utensil but it turns out it is Ginny herself. She only started blogging a few months ago but her Postal Service stories rival those of our esteemed friend David Lebovitz . I've already mentioned the blog once in "Posts of the Week", but Co...
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Seattle Food Bloggers

Do you know me? If you read my blog with any frequency I bet you feel like you do. I read many blogs from all over the world and consequently feel like I know many bloggers, though I may never have met them in person. It's quite an amazing phenomenon. As you read accounts of the Bay Area Food Bloggers Second Annual Picnic you will hear a common refrain--everyone was so nice, so friendly and so wonderful. It sounds naive but it's really true, not just here but everywhere you go. This past week I had the opportunity to visit Seattle. Because I am a regular reader of many Seattle-based food blogs I made an effort to meet up with several bloggers, people I feel like I already know. First I met Lara of Cookbook 411 and her charming husband Cameron. Lara is a fantastic photographer and instead of reading about what she is eating, I actually snuck bites off her plate and Cameron's as well. Food bloggers are generally into sharing, especially at meal times. I thought our din...
Sunday, August 27, 2006

Food Bloggers Picnic

Instead of the usual "Posts of the Week", I hope you'll enjoy a taste of today's picnic. For more posts: Bay Area Bites 101 Cookbooks Becks & Posh Bunrabs I'm Mad and I Eat Life's A Picnic Dessert First Jennifer Jeffrey Eggbeater keep 'em coming! for more pictures: Pengrin's photos Hedonia's photos Vanilla & Garlic's photos cheers, Amy p.s. did you take pictures or blog about it too? If so leave me a comment and I'll add your links to this post. FOOD...
Friday, August 25, 2006

Jammin' Contest

Not too long ago I interviewed local jam entrepreneur Carolina Braunschweig over at Bay Area Bites. You can find her yummy jams all over and they are just now making their debut at Macy's Cellar in New York. Carolina's jam company, CMB Sweets is holding a contest to rename one of their products--a perfect pear vanilla butter. Come up with the winning name and win some jam! Use no more than 30 characters to describe a mix of pears, simmered in white wine, cooked down with orange juice and lemon juice, and scented with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and a generous dose of vanilla.   It needs to say “pear” and it needs to say “butter.” And they'll like your entry even more if it also includes the word “vanilla.” It needs to be simple. It needs to be fun. Are you up to the challenge? Give it a try!   The third place winner will receive two jars of CMB Sweets jam   The second prize winner will receive three jars of jam and a batch of homemade cookies.   And if that isn’t ...
Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Chocolate Caramel Tartlet Cookies

Why Trader Joe's ? Why do you do this to me? You cruel tempter luring me to buy, buy, buy! What did I ever do to you? Just shop and spend money and line your pockets. But it wasn't enough. No. You have to entice me with your wretched new products kiosk. And even when I have no interest in trying Chilean Hazelnuts or Dried Dragonfruit or Sweetened Hibiscus Flowers, or Hawaiian Black Sea Salt, you still tempt me. Go ahead, I hear you saying. Try it. Maybe you'll like it. Maybe you'll find one of these products on a regular shelf. Maybe you won't. You better try them now. And I do try them now. Especially those items I would never buy otherwise. Like the seemingly innocent sounding "Chocolate Caramel Tartlet Cookies". You'd think I could pass those by. But no. All butter cookies filled with caramel and topped with milk chocolate. Made in Normandy. Are you kidding me? Like Oscar Wilde, I can resist everything but temptation. Just eight little treats, for $...
Monday, August 21, 2006

Pasta Puttanesca: Recipe

 It's not often that my other half requests pasta for dinner. If he did, we would probably eat pasta every day. Even the family I lived with in Italy was amazed at my appetite for it. Though we lived in Florence, we ate risotto and soup as a first course more frequently than pasta. While I love risotto and soup for that matter, I secretly wished I could be the cat down the way who got pasta and butter for dinner every night. "Make something spicy, with red sauce and olives" he said. That settled it. Pasta Puttanesca for dinner. It's a dish that you make with pantry staples in minutes. Just like the prostitutes supposedly made, either because they had little time for shopping or cooking. Or because the sauce is "spicy" like they are. Or because the scent was supposed to attract their customers. I find the scent justification for the name "puttanesca" or in the style of the whore, especially hard to believe, but hilarious just the same. Why wo...
Saturday, August 19, 2006

Three posts of the week and a couple extras from the photo department. From YogurtLand a post about a Turkish speciality, lahmacun , that makes me nostalgic for Turkey and my dear Turkish sister, I miss her so much! I had no idea you could make lahmacun at home, this is definitely going on my list of recipes to try. Amuse-Bouche takes 20 teens to an Asian supermarket and even gets them to try Durian ! You've got to read it to believe it. In the comfort zone, also known as Esurientes, a class in chocolate decorating techniques results in an amazing chocolate creation . The most scrumptious photo of the week has to be the lasagna at Cream Puffs in Venice. I love a simple lasagna where the same layers get repeated multiple times and yet the result is something delicate not heavy. Finally for all of you who have wondered, so why is Biggles site called "meathenge"? One photo will answer your question once and for all. FOOD...
Thursday, August 17, 2006

Summer Reading

Did you read Kitchen Confidential ? Did it make you wish you could be a fly on the wall in a restaurant kitchen? If so, you've gotta read Heat . First off, Bill Buford is just a terrific writer. He was the founding editor of the literary magazine Granta and is a staff writer at the New Yorker, where he was an editor up until the point that he delved headlong into The Kitchen. One of Mario Batali's restaurant kitchens that is. Buford becomes a man obsessed with the kitchen and begins an odyssey that leads him to Italy and back several times. Obsessed might sound a little strong but imagine a man carrying a whole pig home from a green market on a scooter. Get the picture? Buford is part writer and part cook as he shares the experiences of a fast paced restaurant kitchen, then travels to Italy to learn to make pasta, and then back to Italy again to learn from a master butcher. But that's not the whole story. In his journeys he learns about the history of Italy, Italian fo...
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Happy Birthday Julia!

Today is Julia Child's birthday. She was one of the people most responsible for encouraging Americans to cook classic French food at home. I loved watching Julia Child on television. She was the antithesis of the television chefs of today. She wasn't pretty, she wasn't graceful and she wasn't phony. She was the real deal. Her funny voice and sometimes awkward manner made her someone everyone could relate to. She made mistakes and she fixed them right there for everyone to see. She was no Martha Stewart, that's for sure. One of my favorite shows was her crepe episode. She made entree crepes, dessert crepes, stacked crepes, filled crepes and demonstrated just how easy they are to make. I cook more Italian food than French food, but there are a few French dishes I have no fear of thanks to Julia. One is clafouti and another is crepes. This morning to honor Julia I made her recipe, instead of mine. It's perfect, of course. Thanks Julia, for being you. Note:...
Sunday, August 13, 2006

It's hard enough keeping up with local blogs, so I am a bit slower when it comes to discovering blogs from far away places. But here are some posts from blogs I've discovered just recently. Lisa of Champaign Taste may live in Illinois but she had the same idea that I did, food bloggers should do something to honor the birthday of Julia Child this year. She's organized a fun event that everyone can participate in, do check it out Ganda blogs from NYC, but in this post she writes about another place I love, that is sadly underrepresented which it comes to food blogging, Belgium . While there is neither chocolate nor frites in the post, there is cheese, sausage and waffles. Also from the East Coast, is Cookthink. Brys and Chip began their blog with a manifesto. But don't assume they lack a sense of humor, just check out the Eat Local Food Pyramid . Then go ahead and explore some more . FOOD...
Friday, August 11, 2006

Still hungry?

Lee and I recently had a terrific meal at Coco500. Coco500 is one of the quintessential San Francisco restaurants of the moment. The menu has so many temptations it can be hard to choose. We ordered so much food we had to take our leftovers home and had no room for dessert. Quel dommage! READ MORE Over at SF Station is my review of Coco500 FOOD + SAN FRANCISCO + RESTAURANTS...
Thursday, August 10, 2006

Blueberry Muffins:Recipe

My latest warehouse find was an enormous package of blueberries imported from Canada. Looking at the package I saw the word "bleuets". Apparently in French speaking Canada blueberries are called bleuets. Isn't that a sweet word? Much more charming than "myrtille", which is what I learned in French class. Though truthfully I like the word blueberry too. It's so very accurate. But bleuets kind of hints at how cute they are. Frozen blueberries are fine, but fresh ones are really special. They are such sweet little gems to bake with. When I wrote about blueberries last Summer, I suggested adding blueberries to pancakes and muffins. But I didn't have any specific recipes for you. Well I do now! My blueberry muffin recipe is adapted from the one in The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook . While I highly recommend the cookbook, the King Arthur Flour website has TONS of recipes too. Those King Arthur people know what they...
Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Still hungry?

When I was growing up, my parents would take me and my sister to all sorts of restaurants. We were much less of a food fixated society back then, but exotic food could be found in the Bay Area if you looked for it. In the suburbs there wasn't much in the way of Asian food but there was a wonderful Indonesian restaurant that we went to from time to time. It was a cozy place where the walls were covered with woven mats and maps of Indonesia and from the moment you stepped inside you felt like you were in another world. We always ordered the rijsttafel and got a chance to try lots of dishes. Ever since eating at the sadly now closed Rice Table, I have been curious about the cuisine of the Spice Islands. My other exposure to the use of the spices from this region was in Portugal. The Portuguese colonized the Spice Islands and use spices like nutmeg and cloves in their cuisine. Portuguese cuisine is very different from the cuisine of Spain that relies more heavily on saffron, papri...
Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Best Burger Contest

I love a good burger, but I don't eat them all that often. I'd say I go out for a burger two or three times a year and when I do I'm very particular. All the fixings have to be perfect. I want the meat freshly ground and chargrilled, and the lettuce crispy, the tomato ripe, the onion sweet and the bun slightly toasted and impeccably fresh, the accompanying fries, extra crispy, otherwise, why bother? So when I got an offer to try some grass-fed beef I decided to conduct a burger taste test. With all the fuss over designations like natural, organic, humane, terroir, and dry-aged, I figured I'd compare a few and see for myself. After all, the fixings are easy to handle at home, it's the freshly ground, great tasting beef that's the challenge. Many people have sworn off beef. First it was due to high cholesterol and then mad cow disease. But if like me, you're going to eat beef, it's important to note that grass fed beef is considerably healthier than ...
Sunday, August 06, 2006

Daly City and San Bruno are just a stone's throw from San Francisco. But according to the 2000 census, 30% of all residents of Daly City were Filipino. I'm guessing they head to San Bruno for dinner. On My Plate takes us to dinner at Patio Filipino for some amazing Filipino food. Anyone want to head down there besides me? I just call them open-faced sandwiches but in France they call them breakfast. Check out the fabulous post on "tartines" from no other than La Tartine Gourmande. Finally over at Meathenge Dr. Biggles waxes poetic about the latest thing to curl his toes, more specifically a batch of rind on bacon . Mmmmmmm bacon. FOOD...
Friday, August 04, 2006

Perfecting Pastry

Sad ending #1 An utterly average dessert that costs $10. Sad ending #2 A huge dessert that is way more than a single serving. Sad ending #3 When the only thing remotely fresh on the dessert menu is a mint or strawberry garnish on the invariable assortment of chocolate cake, bread pudding and creme brulee. Happy ending #1 Way back in my expense account days, I once had a decadent late night meal at a restaurant in Seattle. The place was swank and dark and the food over the top. After dinner, dessert sounded terrific, but frankly I didn't have room for it. I wished I could just have one spoonful, not realizing I was saying it out loud, the waiter responded, "let me see what I can do". He came back with a soup spoon full of lusciousness. Exactly what I wanted. Happy ending #2 & #3 While I was never a huge fan of the restaurant Cypress Club, there was one thing I always looked forward to when dining there. I absolutely adored their dessert sampler, which inc...
Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Amy Meets Jacques Pepin! Behind the Scenes

There isn't much fame or fortune in writing for KQED's food blog, Bay Area Bites . But aside from getting to know some of my fellow writers on the blog, the best thing about blogging for KQED to date has been meeting Jacques Pepin. My adoration of Pepin is what initially drew KQED to me in the first place. So how much fun was interviewing him? I think the look on my face says it all. I tried to stay professional of course and even pumped some of my colleagues for questions beforehand, but I am just a fan at heart. There is so much I adore about Jacques Pepin--his no nonsense approach, his impeccable techniques, his charming accent, the twinkle in his eye. He is perfectly cast in the role of cooking instructor. As you probably know, he grew up cooking in restaurants, was the chef for the president of France and even developed recipes for Howard Johnson's well before he ever set foot in a television studio. His perspective is wide-reaching and his knowledge is tremendous. ...