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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Quickie Pickled Radishes: Recipe

I'm sure you've read that women crave sweets while men crave salty foods. But I'm not sure I agree. Given the choice between a potato chip and a candy bar, I would definitely choose the chip, er, better make that chips. Whichever side of the debate you fall on, or whatever your craving of the day, it's good to have a few quick fixes. If you crave sweets, cinnamon toast is a good one. And if you crave salt, might I suggest homemade pickles? This is a recipe for those times when even a trip to the corner store is a bother. These are quick, sometimes called "refrigerator pickles" because they get stashed in the fridge. No canning, no fuss, no muss. I almost feel guilty for calling this a recipe. Because even if you absolutely don't cook anything, this is one for you. You don't even need a stove! Are you ready? It's only four ingredients, salt, sugar, rice wine vinegar and radishes. You could get all fancy and add carrots and onions if you like bu...
Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Radish Penne: Recipe

I'm not a Winter person. I love the Summer. But when Winter comes around I look forward to coaxing root vegetables into something special. Like radishes. Radishes may be available all year round, but their cool, spicy, crunchiness makes them seem more like a Winter vegetable somehow. It's only in the past few years that I've come to realize how versatile they are. Growing up I ate radishes in salad. That was it. Later I discovered the pleasure of nibbling on radishes with some hearty bread, sweet butter and coarse salt. Making pickled radishes is also easy as can be. Look for that recipe soon. First I want to share with you a pasta recipe that uses radishes. Just one large bunch or two smallish bunches is all it takes. The nice thing about this recipe is that it also uses the greens, a much neglected bit of the radish. I don't know if this recipe is in any way Italian, I never came across it when I lived in Italy, but it does reflect the simplicity of pasta dishes ...
Sunday, November 26, 2006

Last night Lee and I had dinner at Plumpjack Cafe . It was so amazingly wonderful that I couldn't help but sneak into the kitchen to congratulate the chef on his achievement. We came home and I immediately wrote my review which will run on SF Station soon. In general I don't like to review restaurants when the chef is just finding his sea legs, but in the case I had already heard some little whisperings that the food was something special. The key word to chef James Syhabout's food is "restraint". Something I've noticed about young and talented chefs lately is their inconsistency. They try too hard. Sometimes they do something brilliant and other times, they fall flat. Trying too hard can mean too many elements on a plate, flavors that just don't come together, a desire to reinvent and push the envelope but without the palate or the technical skills to make it all work. We've all heard the adage "simpler is better". But that is easier said t...
Friday, November 24, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Here's hoping your Thanksgiving was filled with good food, friends and family. Cheers! Amy FOOD...
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

I don't know about you, but I'm already sick of Thanksgiving! Sick of hearing about it anyway. Oh sure, it's still my favorite holiday, but this year the plethora of magazines, cookbooks and even blogs all focused on the topic lead to my feeling as stuffed full as a you-know-what. So instead of food, I'm going to focus on two other themes for Thanksgiving, feeling thankful and something to drink. Last week my world seemed to revolve around the food bank. In an article in the New York Times I was quoted mentioning my volunteer work at the San Francisco Food Bank . Then on Thursday I celebrated the release of Beaujolais Nouveau at the very same food bank, which received a generous donation from Georges Deboeuf to coincide with the event. It seems popular to beat up on Beaujolais Nouveau these days. But I am not here to spill Beaujolais Nouveau but to drink it. I am a fan of the wine, I enjoy the seasonality of it and how accessible it is. It's refreshing and f...
Monday, November 20, 2006

The Good Home Cookbook: Giveaway!

Some time ago I mentioned that the publishers of The Good Home Cookbook were looking for recipe testers. In addition to getting a first crack at the recipes, testers also got their names in the book and a copy of the book. Now the book is out and for a limited time only you can get a FREE COPY too! The Good Home Cookbook is filled with American recipes that have been tried and tested by hundreds of home cooks. The story of how this cookbook came about is really quite interesting. This isn't a cookbook in which to find wildly new and exotic recipes, it's a solid book to refer to time and again, in the same vein as The Joy of Cooking and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook . Because America is a melting pot you'll find recipes inspired by the cuisines of many countries from Greek Baked Shrimp, to Sausage & Saurkraut Supper to Spaghetti Carbonara (which thankfully does not include cream in the recipe). I recently turned to it when looking for gingerbread cookies. You can...
Sunday, November 19, 2006

Supperclub & SubCulture Dining: Mystery Meals

This week I was treated to dinner at both Supperclub and SubCulture Dining , two interesting and unusual dining experiences. Sometimes, though not always, the experience of dining out is about much more than just the food, it's about the environment, the service, the company and the "why" as opposed to the "what", and that's what both of my dinners highlighted. Part 1: Supperclub Supperclub is located in SOMA and consists of various environments. There is a bar, a lounge and main dining room. Each is beautifully lit and has a different theme and feeling to it. The bar is a vibrant red, the lounge an intimate and cozy space and the main "Salle Neige" in addition to being white, is cool and a bit of a blank canvas. Each of the spaces has a nightclub vibe. So why the mystery? Because in addition to not knowing the menu beforehand, you also won't know exactly what the evening entails and that is really the point. In any case, there are som...
Friday, November 17, 2006

Still hungry?

How about some chocolate? Over at SF Station is an article with my picks for chocolates to enjoy during the holiday season. One of the pleasures of writing the piece was discovering Coco Luxe chocolates which are made locally by a talented and creative chocolatier. Check them out when you get a chance. Yesterday I discovered Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe had opened up on Chestnut street. There is a grand opening celebration tonight, from 4 until 9 pm. Stop by, taste some chocolates, pastries, hot chocolate and take a look around. The store is at 2109 Chestnut St, at the corner of Steiner. I have to say, I'm liking the trend... p.s. I still don't have 3 winners for the copies of Dave's Dinners, take a look at yesterday's post and enter your guesses for a chance to win... FOOD + CHOCOLATE...
Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dave's Dinners: Cookbook Review & Contest

Recently I was watching a British cooking competition on television. The contestants had to do a segment on a live chat show. The producer said that television chefs have to be about 80% entertainment and the remaining 20% about cooking. Sad, but true. And love them or hate them, the cooking personalities of the food network all have some sort of appeal that makes them entertaining--be it looks, style, humor, or that certain something (could it be wackiness?) that makes them compelling to watch. The more "cooking focus" chefs and shows seem to have disapeared. I like to watch chefs with personality, enthusiasm, intelligence and a certain quality that makes them feel like "real people" instead of automatons or kooks (as opposed to cooks). As long as I learn a little from them, or even just get a good idea or two per episode I'm happy. Along with perpetual favorites like Jacques Pepin and Nigella Lawson, I have to admit I like Dave Lieberman , and here'...
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

El Palmar: Restaurant Review

www. flick r .com I just finished writing an article about chocolate. Having a house filled with chocolate to sample can really improve your disposition. But there is another cuisine that has this effect on me and I don't know of any science to explain the phenomenon. It's Mexican food. I long for, savor, and even dream about Mexican food. I can't tell you why. I just do. Finding a place that serves great Mexican food is like finding a slice of heaven. I just want to go back again and again and again. That's why I head to the opposite end of town to Pastores . And that's why, when I find myself in Marin, I go to El Palmar. El Palmar is nothing exciting to look at, it's all about the food. As the take out menu from the restaurant proclaims "The real Mexican food in Marin County". There is also a sister restaurant of the same name in Novato. The patrons are almost all Latino and so are the staff. Blink and you might feel like you are somewhere...
Sunday, November 12, 2006

This week, how about finding a little love for some under-appreciated veggies? Just give it a try. All of these recipes would be welcome additions on your Thanksgiving table. First off, for those who don't know what to do with beets and radishes, a recipe that uses both. Tea of Tea and Cookies makes batches and batches and batches of ruby red crunchies . If you love cabbage raise your hand! Really? Alanna at Veggie Venture loves cabbage. It shouldn't surprise you that by cooking it with a little pancetta and garlic it becomes a succulent side dish. Savoy cabbage is delicately flavored and textured. Go on. Give a try. What do you do with rutabagas, butternut squash AND sweet potatoes? Veronica of Veronica's Test Kitchen puts them in a creamy soup . Even though there is no way I could make anything with 2 cups of cream, it is inspiring. Maybe I'll even come up with a lower fat version... Sorry, but this next one has nothing to do with vegetables. Imagine your...
Friday, November 10, 2006

Salt Tasting with Ron Siegel at the Ritz

www. flick r .com How many kinds of salt do you have? I've got kosher salt, Malden salt, smoked salt, truffle salt, fleur de sel and Hawaiian black salt. But that's nothing compared to what chef Ron Siegel of the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton has. Siegel seems never to have met a salt that didn't find a place in his kitchen. He has a collection of about 40 different types including very rare salt from the Philippines, and many different Japanese salts, and one the consistency of powder. Yesterday I got the chance to attend a salt tasting, organized by the Tablehopper and sponsored by TuttiFoodie . Those of us who thought we'd be tasting flakes of salt and gulping down water were delighted to find that the chef had prepared a light tasting menu to show the versatility of salt. Siegel also took us back into the kitchen and demonstrated how he makes a lemon verbena salt. It turns out infused salts are easy to make at home. Many of the sea salts are moist so h...
Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Hedonist in the Cellar: Book Review

I don't read House & Garden . I have nothing against the magazine, I'm just not a "House & Garden" type. I am a very happy apartment dweller who thinks a garden box with herbs might be nice. But as a result it turns out I have been missing the wonderful wine essays from novelist Jay McInerney who, it turns out, also wrote a book called Bacchus and Me a few years back. Who would have thought the author of Bright Lights, Big City that classic book of the 1980's, is also a wine enthusiast? Well I guess since Tama Janowitz is now writing about food perhaps it's just what writers of that era do. McInerney's latest book is A Hedonist in the Cellar and what makes his writing so wonderful is that instead of writing like a wine snob, he decided to write, as he says "as a passionate amateur, and to employ a metaphoric language; I was more comfortable comparing wines to actresses, rock bands, pop songs, painters or automobiles than I was with lite...
Monday, November 06, 2006

Yahoo! Food -- What's on the Menu?

I love Yahoo! really, I do. I use My Yahoo! as my homepage. I use Yahoo! Movies for finding showtimes and reviews. Heck, I even I met my husband on Yahoo! Personals . Needless to say, I was excited to hear that Yahoo! was going to launch a food site. That is until I saw it. The newly launched Yahoo! Food is like your kitchen after a party, it's a big mess and it's hard to decide what needs cleaning up first. For one thing, it's difficult to imagine they did any usability testing. There is so much going on that it is virtually impossible to navigate. Unlike on My Yahoo! there are no options for page layout customization or personalization, features that Yahoo! pioneered. This is a crowded playing field and Yahoo! has not provided the cool new Web 2.0 tools or services that could make it a leader in this area. In trying to provide as much content as possible, they have unfortunately not given us much that is valuable, fresh or with any particular point of view. The r...
Saturday, November 04, 2006

Well this is what happens when you sleep in. I was going to tell you about this cool new sushi blog , but someone beat me to it. And I was going to tell you about the redesign of Grub Report but someone else beat me to it. So, I give you some posts I really like that I don't think anyone else has blogged about...yet! This week's theme? Tasty French or French inspired posts. I've never spent Thanksgiving out of the country, but if I had to choose, Lucy's description (from Lucy's Kitchen Notebook) of what it's like in Lyon right now sounds pretty wonderful. Bea of La Tartine Gourmande asks " Can you really dislike a gratin ?" For me the answer is no. In fact, it's one of the things to look forward to as the weather turns chilly. Alice Q Foodie takes a class in French Pastry , then she shares the secrets with us. Nice one. Finally an obscene French chocolate post, from my colleague from Bay Area Bites, Laura, aka cucina testa rossa. Ok, maybe it&...
Thursday, November 02, 2006

Culinary Legacies: Chuck Williams

Williams-Sonoma Archives Chuck Williams is the pioneer who brought European cookware, equipment and ingredients to America, everything from copper pans to Sabatier knives to Cuisinart food processors to balsamic vinegar. He is now in his early 90's so it was a treat to hear him along with Jacqueline Mallorca and Flo Braker in conversation this past week. The program was one in a series called "Stirring the Pot" put on by the San Francisco Professional Food Society . When I think of the store he founded, Williams-Sonoma , a few things come to mind. The store epitomizes high quality, a high level of service and to be fair, high prices. So when store founder Chuck, along with friends Flo and Jacqueline shared their memories of "the early days", these three anecdotes most caught my attention. On Quality: During a photo shoot, a certain shot of a pie needed to be retaken to show off the pan in a better light. Chuck sliced into the pie, took a bite and exclai...
Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Still hungry?

My review of The Improvisational Cook is up over on Bay Area Bites , if you liked Sally Schneider's last book, A New Way to Cook , you will definitely appreciate this one as well, it's all about how to improvise with recipes to create something new. The review includes a recipe and a link to more recipes from the book. If you have cable and access to the Sundance Channel, you may want to watch the latest episode of Iconoclasts which premiers tonight, it features Alice Waters and Mikhail Baryshnikov . I am looking forward to hearing their philosophies on art, food, teaching and community. Check your local listings for time and to confirm the date. Finally the monthly reminder that my newsletter is due out tomorrow morning. If you want to receive it, why not sign up for it now? FOOD...