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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wine & Food Pairing Tools

Wine and food. You could spend a lifetime trying to understand that relationship! Lately I've been developing some recipes for a wine retailer and it's been a lot of fun. It's also been a challenge since my normal process would be to start with a dish and then figure out what to serve with it, not the other way around. Along the way I've talked to a lot of people, read a number of books and gathered up as many resources as I can to help me. This weekend at brunch, Derrick of the food blog Obsession with Food , mentioned his basic rules for wine pairing and they are really good ones. Check out his post on the subject here . Along with my "bible" What to Drink with What you Eat , I also like Andrea Immer's book, Everyday Dining with Wine . If you want something short and sweet and internet accessible, here are some links to sites I find useful as well. 1. Wine & Food Matcher This is a great tool, tucked away on Natalie MacLean's web site, N...
Monday, May 28, 2007

Sparkling Jellies: Recipe

Ok, so England isn't the home of one of the world's greatest cuisines, but it has exported a number of delicious dishes . I'm particularly fond of crumpets, Summer pudding, bangers and mash, fish and chips, the Sunday roast with Yorkshire pudding, and chicken tikka masala (while not completely English the combining of chicken tikka with a masala sauce is believed to be a British invention). On the rise in popularity are sticky toffee pudding and perhaps one day, my favorite English sausage the chipolata . Something else I think of as decidedly English that has not gained in popularity yet here in the States, are Jellies. Not jelly like grape jelly, but jellies for eating that we call gelatin or Jell-o. But the British versions are much more sophisticated often including booze and ending up like gelatinized versions of elegant cocktails. Every Summer, British cookery magazines feature a variety of these lovelies which can be served instead of a cocktail, as a starter, a ...
Friday, May 25, 2007

The Food of Love: Book

Ah Springtime! Beautiful weather necessitates the need for the perfect beach read. Not that you have to go to the beach to read it--the backyard would be fine too. The ultimate beach read in my mind is a paperback, it's light and upbeat, nothing too serious, it has a little romance and whole lot of fun. Oh, and a little food and foreign travel wouldn't hurt either. And so I give you my choice for one heck of a great beach read. The Food of Love is a twist on the classic Cyrano de Bergerac (Roxanne) story of mistaken identity with one man courting a woman on behalf of his friend but in this case it is done though food. The main characters are Laura, an American art student living in Rome, Tommaso her paramour and Bruno, the Cyrano character who happens to be a talented chef. Bruno cooks for Laura and of course she falls in love with Tommaso who she is lead to believe is doing the cooking all along. The story is set in Trastevere and the book feels in some ways like a trav...
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shrimp and Mango Kebabs:Recipe

How many courses could you eat that feature mangoes? Three? Four? I had five last night and I'm not sick of them yet! There was mango used in sashimi, in salad rolls, in a sauce for scallops, in a spicy salsa topping for duck and chunks of mango layered in between tapioca and mango granite. Each course was positively delicious and helped to showcase how mangoes can be used in just about every way, paired with many ingredients and with many different wines. At dinner was famed Florida chef Allen Susser, in town to talk about mangoes and while I am a big fan of the fruit I had no idea just how many varieties there are. Over one hundred different varieties grow in Florida alone, and at least 8 - 10 are grown commercially. Susser literally wrote the book on mangoes, The Great Mango Book and is known for offering his customers a dinner for two in exchange for a wheelbarrow filled with mangoes. Mangoes are the most popular fruit in the world, which isn't surprising when you con...
Monday, May 21, 2007

Taste of Ratatouille

Have you heard about the latest film from Pixar ? It's called Ratatouille and I can't wait to see it. The film is about a gourmet rat who dreams of becoming a chef at a fine restaurant in Paris. The ultimate impossible dream. Or is it? Over at Yahoo! there are not only teaser trailers but a 9 minute preview of the film to whet your appetite. There are four videos in all. Check them out here . See you at the movies on June 29th! FOOD...
Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Candy Shop: Shopping

Take a trip to candyland this weekend. An adorable little candy shop has opened up in my neighborhood called The Candy Store and it's got something for everybody. There are lots of retro classics like Zotz, Pixie Stix and candy buttons but also hard to find treats like Valomilk, Idaho Spuds and horehound candies. My picks are the malt balls in three varieties including peanut butter and some lovely lemon drops I've taken to carrying in my purse. But from licorice to m&m's, gummies, deluxe chocolate bars and more there are treats for every budget. My full review I Want Candy! is over at SF Station. Check it out and stop by the shop if you are in the neighborhood. The Candy Store 1507 Vallejo Street @ Polk St. San Francisco 415.921.8000 Tues - Sun 10 - 7 pm FOOD...
Friday, May 18, 2007

Market Madness

Did we all see this coming? Or just me? Carlo Petrini founder of the Slow Food movement, the very man who inspired so many farmers at the Ferry Plaza farmers market has dared to criticize the farmers at the very same market for their outrageous prices and their vainglorious customers. The funny thing is, it's been Petrini telling us all along that we should pay more for our food. Like a mantra he repeats the sentiment that good food costs more to produce and we should be prepared to pay for it. The problem is, there is expensive and there is highway robbery. And now someone has dared to blow the whistle. My infrequent trips to the Ferry Plaza farmers market are much like my infrequent trips to the local supermarket--I look for what is ripe, fresh, in-season AND reasonably priced. I don't buy out of season imported raspberries at the supermarket and I certainly don't buy $3 peaches at the farmers market. It seems some market supporters don't appreciate any disse...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chutney Cheese Puffs: Recipe

I'm a cheater, in the kitchen anyway. While I may not be a fan of mac and cheese from a box, I positively love using gourmet specialty products. What kinds of products? Jams, mustards, chutney, tapenade, Chinese sauces, so many things! Two of my favorite secret weapons are in the freezer--phyllo dough and puff pastry. You could easily write a book on all the things you can make out of phyllo dough and puff pastry. I suggest the title "How to Succeed in Baking Without Really Trying". Once you learn how to handle them, the possibilities are endless. They even turn something mundane into something special. For example you could make a stew into an elegant pot pie. You could turn a fruit compote into pastries. You could make fancy little appetizers to serve hot from the oven. How fancy? I suggest little napoleons or tartlets. It's really easy. A few weeks ago I had a lot of goat cheese languishing in the fridge. I had promised my friend Alison I would develop some re...
Monday, May 14, 2007

Free Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Tomorrow!

When it comes to ice cream I can be pretty fussy. I like creamy versus chunky and I have a weakness for rich decadent flavors. So a few years ago when Häagen-Dazs introduced Dulce de Leche ice cream I was in heaven. I'd describe it as deliciously intense caramel, set against a backdrop of creaminess. If you check out the ingredients you'll know why it's so yummy, it's made of cream, condensed milk, egg yolks, sugar and not one artifical ingredient. Häagen-Dazs has recently introduced Cinnamon Dulce de Leche, which has the same luscious caramel and an added hint of cinnamon. I love it! Since both dulce de leche and cinnamon are popular flavors in Latin America this combination makes perfect sense to me. For lovers of chunky flavors, check out the other newish Häagen-Dazs flavor, Sticky Toffee Pudding, a tribute to the classic British dessert that seems to be getting more and more popular these days. You'll find it on menus coast to coast, from a New York ga...
Friday, May 11, 2007

Meet Rick Rodgers

Rick Rodgers has written more cookbooks than just about anyone I know. He's also an award-winning cooking teacher and chef. At this year's IACP conference he was one of the presenters of the The Vanishing Cookbook presentation that I recapped. He's just recently written the Kingsford Complete Grilling Cookbook where he shares his expert tips and recipe ideas. You can meet Rick and pick up a signed copy of his new book at the Mountain View Costco on Saturday May 12th from 2 - 3 pm. With grilling season kicking into high gear any minute now, this book would make a great Mother's Day or Father's Day present. What are backyard grillers doing wrong? Cooking everything over direct heat. Think of your grill as an outdoor oven. You don't cook everything at 300 degrees or 500 degrees. Most grillers are used to cooking directly over the coals, at very high temperatures, which is a great way to incinerate your food! Consider the 4 grilling techniques--direct he...
Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Marion Nestle on What to Eat

This past weekend I was treated to a Spring Breakfast by the Bay with Marion Nestle, a benefit for CUESA (CUESA operates the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market). It was a most delicious breakfast but I'm not going tell you anything about it because the main attraction was really hearing Marion Nestle speak. Marion Nestle is the author of What to Eat , (just now out in paperback) Food Politics , and Safe Food . She is Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She has strong links to the Bay Area having received her BA, PhD and MPH from UC Berkeley, she also spent a decade on the faculty of UC San Francisco's School of Medicine. This past Saturday she talked about her latest book What to Eat and how it came to be written after people kept asking her, what should they be eating? She thought the answer was simple enough until she began visiting supermarkets. From the moment she walked in she saw the flowers and produce and was aware of how sto...
Monday, May 07, 2007

Portabello & Sausage French Bread Pizza: Recipe

Last week on the Epicurious blog Tanya Steel wrote about serving a Proscuitto and Taleggio macaroni and cheese to a friend who it turned out, preferred the blue boxed verson. When I was little I enjoyed that mac and cheese that comes in a box too. But years later when I tried it again, I realized it wasn't very good. The sauce made from powder was artificial tasting and the macaroni was pasty. As an adult there is no question, my tastes had changed. The other packaged food I remember liking way back when, was Stouffer's French Bread Pizza. I still remember how tasty that crunchy pizza was. Of course, if I tried it now I would probably not be as impressed, but as a 13 year old babysitter, it seemed like a very delicious treat. I'd rather recreate what I loved about those french bread pizzas than be disappointed trying the original version. This recipe took a couple of tries to get right. It's a little messy but also savory, crisp and cheesy. In other words, delicio...
Friday, May 04, 2007

Chocolatiers come to town

Ever since Lee's doctor told him to eat a little chocolate everyday , I've kept a stash of over 70% cocoa chocolate bars in a drawer in the kitchen. My everyday bar is Chocovic's Ocumare which uses Venezuelan criollo beans. That's probably why I am so fond of Michael Mischer's chocolate bars which also rely on the Venezuelan criollo. They aren't easy to find in San Francisco but today you can not only find them, but also find Michael Mischer of Michael Mischer Chocolates from noon until 2 at Fog City News. You just know there are going to be samples, right? Fog City News sells one of the largest selection of chocolate bars anywhere. They sell all kinds of chocolate and are a good place to find something unusual or hard-to-find from the world over, including Valrhona’s new 2006 Vintage Estate Grown chocolate bars, Coppeneur of Germany, Rococo of London, Domori of Italy, and more. The shop is located downtown just a hop skip and a jump from the Ferry Build...
Wednesday, May 02, 2007

In Search of My Perfect Scoop...

I have ice cream on the brain. And it's not that headache you get from eating too much of the stuff, it's the feeling that everywhere I turn, there it is again. Symptoms include a combination of the publication of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz and A Passion for Ice Cream by Emily Luchetti plus several newish places that have sprung up where you can get premium crack ice cream. I'm beginning to think ice cream is the new cupcake. So what's a girl to do? I have no room in my packed freezer for a canister to make ice cream, I barely have room for a pint. The idea of an old-fashioned ice cream maker or even an electric version that uses rock salt and ice won't work for me. It's just not apartment friendly. I desperately want that Glace-A-Tron 6000 that Derrick keeps talking about. Speaking of which, cut it out, Derrick! Even on sale the monster costs over $200. The ice cream in David's book are really what have me itching to make it myself, espec...