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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rockin' Lobster

The cookbook I am working on features a lot of seasonal as well as luxury ingredients. I am waiting for some things like chanterelles, baby artichokes and blood oranges to become available and had put off making the two recipes that required lobster, due to expense. It's lucky I did. Just last week I got a lovely email from the folks at Sagamore Lobster offering to send me two live lobsters to try out their service and their products. What perfect timing! Sure enough my lobsters arrived yesterday and I began having visions from the Woody Allen film that inspired this blog . Yikes! Live lobsters! Ok, it's nowhere near as grizzly as say slaughtering a pig, but in it's own way I guess this was my macho Anthony Bourdain killing-what-you-eat moment and I wimped out. I allowed my official taster/lobster handler to remove the crustaceans from the box and drop them in the pot. My first recipe was for a BLT sandwich that contained lobster. Suffice it to say, a little lobster s...
Monday, October 29, 2007

Japanese Omelet Rice

One of my favorite food films is Tampopo . Do you remember the scene where two characters sneak onto a boat and make a late night snack of omurice? If you don't remember the scene, by all means take two and a half minutes to watch the clip here . I was greatly impressed by that scene but it wasn't until less than an hour before my flight left Japan that I finally got to try it. I was sure it would either be totally disgusting or surprisingly good and I was right. Oh my! If you think eggs and potatoes are good together, wait until you try eggs and rice. The super-tomatoey, sweet and tangy rice is perfectly complemented by the soft, luscious omelet that either tops or surrounds the rice. And the ketchup is de rigeur! I watched this omelet being made in the basement of a department store in Osaka. There was a booth with two men cooking and a little counter with diners enjoying nothing but omelet rice or "omurice". But the one at the airport was divine. I've never had...
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Meet me at the Fall Harvest Festival

This Saturday I will once again be helping out my friend Alison who makes the much loved McQuade's Chutney at Cheese Plus here on Russian Hill. In addition to trying Alison's chutney you can also sample the wares of these fine vendors: Sausages and salami from Fra'Mani Nut oils from J. LeBlanc Fabrique Délices creamy pates and saucisson Marin French Cheese Company Voted Best American Cheese LaLoo's Goats Milk Ice Cream Apollo Organic Olive Oils Voted Top 10 Olive Oil of the World Chuck Siegel’s handcrafted Charles Chocolates Jams and confections from CMB Sweets Best of the West Also Janet Fletcher will be hand from 1 - 3 pm signing copies her new book Wine & Cheese. Ms. Fletcher is a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and also writes the cheese column in the San Francisco Chronicle. As long as your are in the neighborhood check out some of favorite places like Nick's Crispy Tacos , The Candy Store , and three great wine shops William ...

Welcome Guardian Online Readers!

This morning I woke to find that my blog and in particular my recent post on Tonkatsu were included in a story in the Guardian on blogs that feature cheap travel eats. If you haven't checked out the article, do take a peek at Blog by blog guide to...roving gourmets . Also included in the article are Chez Pim , underground gourmet posts at Grub Street , Orangette , Czech Please and Chubby Hubby . More Japan posts to come...!...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Eating Japanese or Italian?

One more Japanese food post at Epicurious: Italian Food, Japanese Style About eating Japanese pasta in Tokyo...
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Eating in Japan

While I was away I posted about the food in Japan over at Epicurious. I will have some more posts soon, but in the meantime feel free to check out bits and bites: Eat Like Monk About yodofu and shojin ryori food in Kyoto Japanese Take on Chinese Food About ramen A Katsu Caper About the best tonkatsu of my life Passionate About Patisserie About the amazing French pastries of Tokyo Bite the Bullet About obento lunch on the bullet train The World's Most Expensive Fruit Basket About the Japanese fruit you find in department stores Kaiseki Food Takes Flight About the best airplane food around I may be home again, but Japan is still on my mind. Want to know what I am likely to blog about next? Rice omelets, Fall foods, ice cream city, gyoza stadium, supermarket sushi, what I brought back from Japan and the house that eel built. ...
Monday, October 15, 2007

Celebrating Autumn with Kaiseki

A kaiseki meal is one of the best ways to experience the Japanese culinary philosophy and to experience the seasons. Many of the trendier elements of dining in America today are nothing new in Japan. A kaiseki meal is a tasting menu of small plates, seasonally focused and prepared to reflect not only the skill and creativity of the chef, but is also seems designed to evoke feelings, emotions and memories associated with nature. Kaiseki meals can be very expensive and very elaborate. This style of dining originally came from Kyoto where dishes tended to be mild flavored but today they range from very traditional to very cutting edge. Our first kaiseki meal was at a tiny restaurant in the upmarket Roppongi section of Tokyo. La Bombance has only 9 seats at the bar and one table for 4. The chef, Makoto Okamoto, came from a very well-known restaurant but now places all his attention on a select group of diners each night. In fact, the reservations are staggered to allow him to carefully at...
Monday, October 08, 2007

Japan or Bust!

I'm heading off to Japan for a two week vacation. I will try to post while I'm gone, but no promises! In the meantime, feel free to check out my posts, there are many of them in the queue over at the Epicurious blog, Epi Log , and posts from me every Wedneday on KQED's food blog, Bay Area Bites . Sayonara! Amy-san...
Sunday, October 07, 2007

More Fear of Frying

So here's another reason to hate frying. What a mess! To make delectably crispy and golden risotto cakes I had to dip sticky cold risotto in flour, then in beaten egg and finally in panko, a kind of Japanese crumb. Delicious? Sure. But what a bother! I know some people get stuck with leftover risotto but I never do. Maybe it's due to practice, I can eyeball exactly how much I need to make. I've been making it ever since I learned how in Italy almost twenty years ago. I love it. Not as much as pasta, but I do love it. Risotto should be served fresh, it should be "al dente" not nearly as soft as regular steamed rice and it should be saucy. It should ooze. It's the perfect palette for seafood or vegetables. I've made it with everything from spring peas to mushrooms to winter beets. There is even a recipe for making it with strawberries. If you do have leftover risotto, frying it up is probably the best solution short of tossing it out. Plain, oniony or m...
Friday, October 05, 2007

Japanese Deviled Eggs

I think most cooks have a recipe for deviled eggs. This one had some interesting herbal notes but even my editor admitted the original title of this recipe was boring so I gave it bit of a twist. I love deviled eggs, but for me, just the name "deviled eggs" conjures up some white-gloved old biddy in one of those Southern chick flicks. You know the ones with magnolias and tiny altars everywhere... So to punch up this recipe I used a not so secret ingredient. You don't have to know Japanese to know what it is. Wasabi. Real wasabi comes from a rhizome and is much tastier than the powdered mustard, horseradish and food coloring paste that is generally available in tubes. But the everyday store-bought stuff sure works great in place of mustard in deviled eggs! It also complemented some of the spicier green herbs that I used in these deviled eggs too. If you'd like to try the real thing don't be surprised that it's not as neon green as the artificial stuff. Som...
Thursday, October 04, 2007

Are you on the list?

Just a quick note to say the monthly email newsletter will go out today. If you are not on the mailing list, feel free to sign up so you can receive a copy. It is a double opt-in system, so after you sign up you'll be asked to confirm your subscription. In other words, if you don't confirm, you are not subscribed. The newsletter provides a recap of posts from the prior month, a sneak peek at what's coming up as well as some links to sites I think you'll like. This month I'll share some details about my upcoming trip to Japan. Thanks again for visiting and staying in touch!...
Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fry Mama!

Do you want to hear a story about how some recipes come to be? One of my assigned recipes was for corn fritters. So I did my homework and research. I found a great corn fritter recipe flitting about online. It's been adapted and twisted this way and that. It was the base for my recipe, but mine is very different and I'll tell you why. It all comes down to the fact that I have a great fear of frying. A few years back when the landlord replaced my stove, he installed one with no ventilation. So frying means the whole apartment smells like a fast food hut. Sure, I open the windows but it's not the same as having a true ventilation system built in. Frankly I avoid frying at all costs. But in this case I had to fry. I think in my anxiety about having to fry the fritters, I messed up on the basic recipe. I added too much of one ingredient and used the wrong version of another ingredient. I made quite a few changes. Let's just say some of the changes were more intentional than...
Monday, October 01, 2007

2 Down, 42 to Go

My recipe development project is an interesting and unusual one. While the client came up with the recipe titles, I'm creating the actual recipes. It's a seasonally organized appetizer book and focuses on fresh flavors or classic recipes with a twist. It's a very cool project. I've always said if I could just shop and cook and write about it I would be very happy indeed. Well, be careful what you wish for! The problem is I have lots of other work at the moment which pulls me away from the kitchen. So with 44 recipes to create, which would you tackle first? Call me lazy or smart, but I'm a big believer in going for the low-hanging fruit. Spending some time with the list of recipes I quickly identified the recipes I felt I could easily master. First up--hummus. But not just ordinary hummus. This recipe had a few twists to it. I did a lot of research and reviewed many recipes I had made before. One of the twists was a garnish of fresh pomegranate seeds. Aren't they...