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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie

The Diary of a Foodie web site is finally live! It has a guide to episodes, recipes, mini episode previews and articles under the heading "Kitchen Notebook". There's lots here to explore and enjoy. It looks like there will also be a podcast associated with the show as well. You may have read about the new food series on several other blogs . It begins the first week of October on PBS. (check your local affiliate to see when it will air) FOOD...

This week's theme is recipes from history. If you haven't already discovered The Old Foodie you ought to take a look. Here you'll find illustrations, stories and recipes from history each weekday. This post caught my attention because I had just bought Brother Juniper's Struan bread this week. It's all about the history of Struan Micheil or St. Michael's Cake. The 18th Century Cuisine blog often comes up with some interesting recipes, this week it is Sumac Syrup . Sounds like something I might try. I don't think I have a source for fresh sumac, but it looks like you can make the recipe with fruit of berries of your choice. Stretching the definition of "history", next is a recipe that takes me back to my childhood. Fruit leather was something my own mother made for my sister and me. If you have too many pears, check out Gourmet Mango's recipe for pear fruit leather . FOOD...
Thursday, September 28, 2006

All about Walnuts

I like foods that add a touch of luxury, where a little goes a long way. I'm thinking of things like caviar, smoked fish, truffles, whipped cream, chocolate. Nuts fall into that category for me too, maybe it's their association with the holidays or with desserts like cakes and cookies. Or maybe it's because they are so rich. Walnuts have a richness due to their fat content. They have an inherent sweetness but also a slight bitterness. That bitterness is actually what complements so many foods. The flavor of walnuts is more mellow and buttery when toasted which is great for baked goods and desserts. But when it comes to strong foods like beef, bitter greens, cheese and herbs like basil, un-toasted walnuts add another more complex dimension. If you've made pesto you might have noticed that most pesto recipes call for un-toasted nuts, so clearly I'm not the first to realize this. In experimenting with different kinds of nuts, I have found walnuts to be the most versati...
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Meet Tanya Steel

Recently I got a chance to meet Tanya Steel the Editor-in-Chief of Epicurious.com . We talked a lot about the site, the problem of hunger in America and even got a chance to visit a food pantry, one of the innovative programs of the San Francisco Food Bank . I also got to ask her about a couple of things on my mind: There is more interest in food than ever and yet it seems Americans aren't in the kitchen. What's keeping people from cooking? Time. I come home like every other person and I have 30 minutes at most to get dinner on the table. But a huge generation of Americans has grown up not cooking and not seeing their moms or even their grandmothers cook. A lot of people who might even enjoy cooking as a hobby haven't learned how to integrate it into their lives. Many baby-boomers don't know how to cook--how to truss a chicken or baste a turkey or roll out a pie crust. At Epicurious we're adding technique videos, so people can take their laptop into the kitc...
Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Poached Pears: Recipe

It's pear season right now so if you haven't had a poached pear in a while, treat yourself to a taste of Autumn. Pear season kind of snuck up on me this year. I was surprised to find a dozen Seckel pears in my organic produce delivery last week. I had never seen these little gems before. They are tiny little pears that fit in the palm of your hand. Apparently they are a hybrid of an Asian and a European pear and were developed in the 1800's by a Pennsylvania farmer. Fortunately they were a bit firm which makes for perfect poached pears. Which in turn makes for a scrumptious dessert. Poached pears are such a no-brainer to make. You infuse them using a mixture of flavors you love and the end result is something sweet and juicy that melts in your mouth. This batch was so delicious that Lee and I ate all of them in one sitting! Actually there was one leftover which is lucky since I needed to take another picture. There is really nothing to this recipe, it's more a tech...

Contest Conclusion

Here are the answers to the September Culinary Quiz: 1. In "The Omelette Show" an episode of The French Chef with Julia Child, which of the following does Julia NOT use to demonstrate beating eggs? A. whisk B. chopsticks C. fork 2. A charming blogger who lives in Paris recently gave me a gift of Maille mustard, which flavor was it? A. Bleu (blue cheese) B. Fines Herbes (fine herbs) C. Fruits rouges (red berries) 3. Which blogger is associated with the cookbook shelf pictured below? A. Nicky of Delicious Days B. Tschörda of Dinner for One C. Johanna of The Passionate Cook 4. A popular Spanish dish served at weddings, Gallina en Pepitoria, hen in almond sauce, has its origins in which region of Spain? A. Aragon B. Catalonia C. Valencia 5. Who said "It's all about chocolate, isn't it? Use second-rate chocolate, get second-rate mousse." A. Jacques Pepin B. Anthony Bourdain C. Maida Heatter Since no one guessed all the answers ...
Sunday, September 24, 2006

This week's posts are about sweets and meats! Walking around one of the greatest cities, Sweet Napa spends a day enjoying treats in New York . In Paris my colleague over at Bay Area Bites, Cucina Testa Rossa, heads to Pierre Hermes to check out the Fall collection of pastries and chocolates. It's almost like being there except not nearly as fattening! Having recently read Heat , it was great to read a blog post about the larger-than-life butcher Dario Cecchini . Head over to Jam Faced to hear his story. In case you missed it, Dario Cecchini has a little piece in the LA Times about a delicacy so good it was once forbidden for virgins to partake(!) Read it here . p.s. Still no winner on the September Culinary Quiz. If no one guesses correctly by Monday I will choose a runner up. FOOD...
Friday, September 22, 2006

September Culinary Quiz!

1. In "The Omelette Show" an episode of The French Chef with Julia Child, which of the following does Julia NOT use to demonstrate beating eggs? A. whisk B. chopsticks C. fork 2. A charming blogger who lives in Paris recently gave me a gift of Maille mustard, which flavor was it? A. Bleu (blue cheese) B. Fines Herbes (fine herbs) C. Fruits rouges (red berries) 3. Which blogger is associated with the cookbook shelf pictured below? A. Nicky of Delicious Days B. Tschörda of Dinner for One C. Johanna of The Passionate Cook 4. A popular Spanish dish served at weddings, Gallina en Pepitoria, hen in almond sauce, has its origins in which region of Spain? A. Aragon B. Catalonia C. Valencia 5. Who said "It's all about chocolate, isn't it? Use second-rate chocolate, get second-rate mousse." A. Jacques Pepin B. Anthony Bourdain C. Maida Heatter The first person to correctly answer each of the quiz questions in the comments section, will win a copy of the cookbook of ...
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Cook's Book: Cookbook Review

I am a cookbook addict. I am powerless over cookbook hoarding (is there a 12 step program for me?). I get review copies of cookbooks but that's never enough. I buy vintage cookbooks, used cookbooks, out-of-print cookbooks, you name it. I first read about The Cook's Book on the blog A La Cuisine . Then it was mentioned a couple of times on Becks & Posh . Actually Sam of Becks & Posh (who is by no means a cookbook addict) raved about it. So I sneaked a peek. And then I had to have the book, subtitled "techniques and tips from the world's master chefs". Master chefs include people like Ferran Adria, Rick Bayless, Ken Hom, Charlie Trotter and Pierre Herme. Want to know how to skin and gut an eel, line a terrine mold, or use a siphon for making foam? There are pictures illustrating those and other instructions. Recipes come from many different cuisines of the world. There are sections on Japanese cooking, poultry and game birds, Indian cooking, meat, Chin...
Monday, September 18, 2006

Lemon Cottage Cheese Pancakes: Recipe

When I was growing up we always had cookies in the house. Some of my favorites were almond windmills, raisin biscuits and lemon coolers. Lemon coolers were really yummy lemon cookies with powdered sugar and they came in a bright green and yellow box. They were nothing like the Girl Scout Cookies called Lemon Coolers. There was something about that sweet sour combination of intense lemon and sugar that I loved. I had some lemon cottage cheese pancakes recently and eating them brought back memories of those cookies. Even though I already have a perfectly delicious recipe for lemon ricotta pancakes , this was different. It was a more cakey style of pancake, but with some body to it from the cheese. It also had that distinctive lemon and sugar tang. So here's where the story takes a turn. I found two versions of the recipe online and guess what? One was missing a key ingredient. Flour! And it had an unconscionable amount of clarified butter in it. The other recipe had twice as m...
Saturday, September 16, 2006

This week's theme is cooking up something new in the kitchen...One recipe is for everyday, one for special occasions and one is really out there! Over at Culinary in the Country, are Banana Oat Breakfast cookies . I love the idea of cookies for breakfast, much tastier than nutrition bars. Back in college I used to make a breakfast cookie that used cheddar cheese and apples. Cookbook411 was one of many blogs to participate in Hay Hay it's Donna Hay. She made some adorable egg tarts using a parmesan pastry dough that looks so simple I think I may just give it a try. In the "I-can't-believe-it" category check out the latest from Ideas in Food. Foie Gras Cotton Candy ! FOOD...
Thursday, September 14, 2006

A La Turca: Restaurant Review

Having a Turkish sister has many advantages. I can't imagine visiting Turkey, a country with breathtaking ancient ruins, sparkling coastlines and exciting cities without her. She is also my guide to all things Turkish in this country, including food. This week in honor of her birthday I ate at my favorite Turkish restaurant. The secret to getting a good meal at any restaurant is knowing what to order. Even though my sister is back in Turkey these days, she was the one who steered me right at A La Turca from day one. While kebabs are what most people associate with Turkish food, there is so much more than that to this cuisine. At A La Turca there are three must order items, none of them kebabs. There is a fairly long menu, but I recommend sticking to the really good stuff. First of all, as a starter, have the sigara boregi ($4.50). There are versions of this dish all over the Mediterranean and the Middle East. You may know it as borek. It's a crunchy pastry filled with oo...
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Still hungry?

Not many people know about the time I spent working in a homeless shelter. But in many ways it shaped who I am today, especially when it comes to how I think and feel about food. READ MORE Over at Bay Area Bites are some of my experiences in regards to hunger in America . I hope you will check it out, it has humor and a deeply personal story that I am sharing for the first time. Let me know what you think. FOOD...
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Basic Pomegranate Marinade Recipe

I have two basic pomegranate marinades. This second one is fantastic on salmon! The maple brings out the woodsy flavors if you cook it on a cedar plank. There are tons of chili sauces on the market and pomegranate molasses can vary greatly in quality. Because I find it most consistent, my favorite brand of pomegranate molasses is Indo-European and my favorite chili sauce is Lee Kum Kee's Guilin Chili Sauce which is spicy but not too sharp. Basic Pomegranate Marinade Ingredients 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses 1 Tablespoon oil, optional 1/2-1 teaspoon Asian chili garlic sauce, any kind you prefer Instructions Mix ingredients together and use to marinate beef, lamb, mushrooms, etc. Enjoy! FOOD + POMEGRANATE...

Pomegranate Glaze Recipe

I have just started listening to the podcasts from Bob Appetit. They are really well done and enjoyable. I listen to them at the gym and they are so engaging that they actually take my mind off the tedium of the rowing machine! One of the first podcasts I listened to was one on New Pantry Essentials. The guests mentioned many of my favorites, including Maldon salt, Asian chili sauces, and of course pomegranate molasses. I have been singing the praises of pomegranate molasses forever it seems. But I realized I've shared just three recipes that use it, a kebab recipe , a barbecue sauce and a nutty red pepper dip called Muhammara . Pomegranate molasses (or syrup) has a rich depth to it. It's very concentrated and has both sweet and sour notes. It really is great with meat but also if you want to boost "meaty" flavors in a non-meat meal such as lentils, beans, mushrooms or tofu. The easiest way to use it is in a marinade. It has so much going on that you can make a...
Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ed celebrates a birthday this week and baked his own cake . I love his story about his first experience with carrot cake! Happy Birthday Ed. It's hard to pick just one post from Lulu's recent "Sardinia Diary". But start with this one on Cagliari and Chia and then perhaps you'll want to read the rest . What flavors do you like on the verge of burnt? I like a deeply caramelized fig jam, darkly toasted nuts, brown butter and charred vegetables. Stephen Cooks accidentally blackened his sundried style tomatoes but found them delicious in a pesto. Now that's a whole other take on "making lemonade out of lemons". FOOD...
Friday, September 08, 2006

Elegant Meals with Inexpensive Meats

Recently I was sitting around a table with several other food writers and editors, one who had written for women's magazines, one who was an editor at Sunset, a couple who had written for regional publications, etc. Though I have been primarily a web-based writer, these were my colleagues. So when a discussion ensued about our one favorite cookbook I have to admit I felt a bit embarrassed. Sure. I have tons of cookbooks. Too many to count. But if I had to choose just one, the most important one, it's an easy call. It's a cookbook that has attained "classic" status in my family. It has timeless recipes, designed for the home cook. They use inexpensive and easily attainable ingredients. Everything in it is so good! I can easily say I have cooked more things from this one single cookbook than any other. So why was I feeling so sheepish? Because it's a cookbook hardly anyone has ever heard of. A cookbook put out by Ortho, can you imagine that? Ortho, which wa...

A Blogger Returns...

Way back in the olden days, when I first started my blog, the blogosphere was a much smaller place. Not that I go back to the very beginning or anything. In fact, one of the most famous food bloggers, Julie of Julie/Julia was just winding down at the time that I started, some three years ago. Though food blogs were few and far between in those days, I did have some favorites even then. While the number of food blogs has grown (yay!) a few wonderful ones have disappeared (boo!). And I miss them. Especially those daily reads that became like friends to me, people like Renee of Shiokdelicious, Jeremy of Frost Street and Caryn of Delicious!Delicious! Most recently Seattle Bon Vivant went dark and I wasn't alone in missing her happy, upbeat posts about tasty travels, delicious discoveries and restaurant ravings. Well thank goodness, she's back! If you've read her site before then I'm sure you'll enjoy reading along again, and if you've never visited her site, b...
Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Salumi: Restaurant

Have you been to Seattle? If you have, perhaps you've experienced what I have--that everyone there is awfully nice. I don't mean to generalize but from all of my visits over the years including a stint working there, it's true. My visit to Salumi in Seattle is a perfect example. I had a terrific lunch with Molly of Orangette that consisted of a selection of salami each intriguingly flavored with smoked paprika or fennel or a mix of spices, prosciutto and the most outrageous meatball sandwich ever. Really. Imagine a crunchy roll, perked up with a slathering of garlic and parsley spread, obscenely stuffed with big fat and fluffy meatballs with shreds of prosciutto in them. Top that with sauteed peppers and onions, thick slabs of fresh succulent mozzarella, and doused with homemade tomato sauce. Heaven! Stopping in back to peek at the operations and chat with owner Armandino Batali I was treated to a bit of Mario and Bill Buford gossip (suffice it to say Mario's ...
Monday, September 04, 2006

Newsletter Links

I send out a Cooking with Amy Newsletter once a month. It consists of a few words from me, and links to recipes, book reviews and restaurant reviews that were posted during the month. I also try to give a sneak peek at what's to come, as best I can. In each newsletter I also include my pick of links, usually three of my bookmarks that I think are interesting or just plain fun. For those of you who don't subscribe, below are the links I have sent out in my newsletter since it began a little over a year ago. I hope you enjoy these, and if you do, consider signing up for the newsletter and discover a few new links each month. The next newsletter is due out tomorrow. I've switched to a new mailing list so if you had trouble signing up in the past, do try again, the form is in the left column. Note: all links will take you away from this site Cook's Illustrated How To Guides Virtual Refrigerator Magnets Recipe Contests Waitrose Food Illustrated Relish mag...
Saturday, September 02, 2006

This week Posts of the Week has a theme, and it is chocolate! I really did think that Culinary in the Desert should have changed to "Culinary and the Dessert" when Joe moved from Arizona to Maryland. Obscene chocolate love post includes Thick Mint Brownies and a Beef Tagine with Dried Plums and Toasted Almonds. Both of those recipes are going on my list to try. Chocophile David Lebovitz interviews Frederick Schilling of Dagoba chocolate. I'm sorry David didn't ask Frederick about his chocolate cafe that was on Market street for several years but otherwise the interview is excellent. It includes lots of good information about how cacao is grown, organic chocolate and some tantalizing descriptions of his products and plans for the future. Sometimes that which you don't eat haunts you more than what you do eat. Such is the case with the bittersweet chocolate tartlets brought to the picnic last weekend by Anita of Dessert First. Fortunately she blogged a...