This post might include affiliate links for your convenience.
Monday, August 31, 2009

Why do YOU cook, Allen Williams?

Allen Williams is a renaissance man, both in and out of the kitchen. His cooking style combines farm-style cooking with urban flavors. The photo of his childhood home in Michigan, where his cooking adventures began, is appropriate since he looks to the past as much as to the present to make great food. In addition to blogging at Eating Out Loud , he also writes about and digitally preserves vintage handwritten recipes at Recovered Recipes . "For me, it's quite simple...I grew up in the kitchen with my mother, baking and cooking as soon as I could grasp a wooden spoon. I didn't choose to cook - it's just something I've always done. I do find that the greater distance I move from my parents home, the more I tend to cook. Although I could easily eat out every night, I find myself still drawn to spending time in the kitchen. It's relaxing, stimulates my creativity, and provides a direct connection to my family."...
Friday, August 28, 2009

Antoine Amrani Chocolates

Sour cherry, Grand Marnier, coffee and dark chocolate. That was the bon bon that won me over. I'm not sure what the inspiration was for the combination, though I was intrigued because coffee beans come from fruit called coffee cherries. I've always wanted to try the fresh fruit of the coffee tree. It's supposed to be very sweet. But it was the bitter edge of sour cherries, coffee and dark chocolate that I found so intoxicating. The former Executive Pastry Chef from the acclaimed Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia, who trained at the Ritz Escoffier in Paris, Antoine Amrani recently launched his own chocolate company making exquisite confections. Coffee Sour Cherry was just one of the imaginative flavor combinations in my nine piece chocolate assortment. I'm always happy to try a sample of high quality chocolates and those from Antoine Amrani did not disappoint. Really great chocolate is so satisfying that only a piece or two is plenty. I liked all the fruit infused flavor...
Monday, August 24, 2009

Why do YOU cook, Hank Shaw?

Hank Shaw is not your typical cook or your typical blogger. He hunts, fishes and gardens and is something of an expert when it comes to seafood. He was a 2009 James Beard Award nominee for his blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook , but what impresses me the most is his thoughtful approach to food. In addition to his blog and he also runs the About.com site, Fish & Seafood Cooking . "To me it's almost like asking, "Why do you breathe?" Cooking is not something I consciously began doing; it just is what I do in the course of any normal day, and has been since I was a boy. Cooking is part of what makes me who I am, and it defines me to others -- especially because as a person who hunts, fishes, forages or grows much of what I eat, I am an outlier who represents the boundaries of what an otherwise "normal" person can and cannot do. When Michael Pollan cited that food researcher in last weekend's New York Times magazine , the researcher scoffed at the ...
Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Site Design!

At long last! The redesign has launched! I hope you like it as much as I do. First and foremost I want to thank my amazingly talented web designer, Cat Batacan and my coding guru Christine Vilar . I highly recommend them both. The photo in the banner is one I took at Borough Market in London a few years ago. Not all the links to Recipes, Reviews, News and Travel have been added yet, but the new format should make navigating much easier than before. Thanks for all your patience, if you notice anything amiss, please do let me know....
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Smoked Oyster BLT: Recipe

I'm not sure who first decided to smoke an oyster or why, but it sure was a good idea. The texture of a smoked oyster is nothing like a raw oyster. It's firm yet still creamy, sweet and addictive to eat as candy. The little ones that come in the can are often used as appetizers. Despite being labeled "colossal" they are anything but. They taste a bit like the oil they are packed in. While the canned ones are ok, they are impossible to go back to after eating fresh ones from the Pacific Northwest. These oysters are actual size! Recently I agreed to judge a contest and received a shipment of deluxe seafood to help me "prepare." I got two fresh steamed crabs, shrimp, smoked salmon and the most plump, sweet smoked oysters I had ever tried. While I had no problem coming up with ideas for using all of the other seafood, I was a bit stumped by the oysters. These oysters were way too large to languish on a cracker or a piece of toast. Instead I stuffed the...
Monday, August 17, 2009

Why do YOU cook?

Why do you cook? It's a simple question but there are many different answers. Professional chefs cook because it's their career. The rest of us cook because we need to, but also because we want to cook. Recently a conversation with a friend prompted my curiosity so I asked some bloggers this very question and will be posting their answers very soon. But for now, I'd love to hear what you have to say: Why do YOU cook? I'm also curious to know: What was the last cookbook you bought? What was the last cookbook you used and which recipe did you reference? As an incentive, I am giving away an advance reading copy of 100 Words for Foodies and an attractive Epicurious kitchen apron to one lucky respondent (so be sure to include your email, it will only be visible to me). Only one comment per person, please. I look forward to hearing what you have to say! Amy...
Friday, August 14, 2009

Eat Out and Do Good

Next week I'll be dining out twice and both times for a good cause. I hope you'll join me! Monday August 17th is "A Tasteful Pursuit" dinner benefiting Share Our Strength , with proceeds going to fight childhood hunger. This is an amazing dinner five course dinner with wine and beer pairings at Masa’s . Tickets are $150 per person, including tax, gratuity and wine pairings. Reception starts at 6 and dinner at 7 pm. Dungeness Crab - Avocado, jalapeno, tomato, corn sorbet ~ Mark Dommen, One Market Pan Seared Sea Scallops and Crispy Pork Belly - Daylight farms peas and summer truffles ~ Xavier Salomon, The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay Pan Roasted Medallion of Prime New York Beef - Early Girl Tomato Tartlette, Golden Chanterelle Mushrooms, Roasted Bone Marrow and Sauce “Choron” ~ Gregory Short, Masa’s Laura Chenel’s Goat cheese “Vol au Vent”- Organic Balsamic Strawberries, acacia honey peach emulsion, Orange-mint sorbet ~ John McKee, Masa’s Roasted White ...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julia Child Panel Discussion

I enjoyed seeing Julie & Julia even more the second time around. The theater was full and that made a big difference. It's a light romantic comedy, not a documentary, but the scenes with Julia are pure joy. Just as wonderful was hearing several of her friends and colleagues reminisce about her at a panel discussion put on by the San Francisco Professional Food Society after the screening. The moderator was Janet Fletcher, author and food writer at the San Francisco Chronicle . The panelists were Roberta Klugman, past Executive Director of the American Institute of Wine & Food , Margrit Mondavi, Vice President of Cultural Affairs at Robert Mondavi Winery ; James Dodge, cookbook author and Director, Specialty Culinary Programs, Bon Appetit Management Company ; Lexi Leban, the Academic Director of Digital Filmmaking & Video Production at The Art Institute of California and Linda Carucci, Chef Director at the The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of C...
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LA Eats

Going to Los Angeles on a whirlwind trip to see a preview of Julie & Julia meant I also got to hang out with pals, and of course, eat. I didn't have much time, but I have to say, I squeezed in some pretty good meals. My choices were somewhat dictated by convenience, so they are all in pretty close proximity to Hollywood, which is where I was staying (without a car). Burger I arrived in LA just in time for lunch before a long afternoon poolside. The burger joint at the hotel, 25 Degrees , was better than I expected. The bun was freshly made and the right texture, the meat was very juicy and cooked rare, as I had requested it. I had the "number three" with mezzo secco jack, green chili, chipotle mayo and avocado. All the toppings made this burger very messy to eat, I think next time I would order a plain burger instead. It also came with ridiculously good parmesan dusted sweet potato fries, crisp from the first fry to the last. I would have liked to try the Guin...
Monday, August 10, 2009

Interview with Nora Ephron

Have you gone to see Julie & Julia yet? I saw it in a preview screening, but I'm eager to see it again, especially for all the Julia Child scenes and all the food. While I missed out on an exclusive interview opportunity with the stars of the film due to technical difficulties, I did get to squeeze in a couple of questions via email to the director and writer, Nora Ephron. I heard you had the actors participate in a cooking class, what was the goal? How was the experience? Both Amy and Meryl did a little knife work and we all learned to bone ducks, something I promise you none of us will ever do again, especially me. The food in the film was so compelling and sensual. What are some of the challenges associated with directing/shooting scenes with food? Of course it helps to like food, but it was especially great that my cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt understood how important food was as a character in the movie.  We wanted to food to look homey, but we also wanted...
Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Dine with Top Chefs at Wine. Dine. Donate 2009

A couple of months ago I got a chance to preview a number of dishes that Arnold Eric Wong was working on at E&O Trading Company . Wong came from Bacar and was completely overhauling the menu. His use of exotic ingredients such as an ahi tataki tartare with lily bulb petals, prawn salad with lychees and cashews and sesame eggplant with Thai basil put a fresh spin on familiar dishes. I liked the new menu so much I came back with friends and family not long after. If you haven't been to E&O since Wong took over the kitchen, I hope you'll join me this Thursday night at the fourth Wine. Dine. Donate fundraiser dinner for Feeding America, with a donation directed to one of my favorite charities, the San Francisco Food Bank . You'll also be dining with the fabulous Epicurious Editor-in-chief Tanya Steel. In the kitchen will not only be Arnold Eric Wong but Charles Phan of Slanted Door and Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook ! The kitchen is open to the restaurant so you'll ...
Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Hungry Monkey: Book Review

Hungry Monkey is the funniest book I've read all year. It might seem odd that I would even bother reading a book about "a food-loving father's quest to raise an adventurous eater" since I don't have kids myself. I only review things here that appeal to me personally, so I approached the book thinking perhaps I would review it for another site, but I literally couldn't put it down. Since then I've recommended it to just about everyone I know who has little ones. I don't dare lend anyone my copy because there are too many recipes I have bookmarked to try. I can hear you saying to yourself, what recipes from a book about cooking for and with kids could she possibly want to make? Let me tell you, just about all of them. But in particular, I want to make Corn with Scallions, Jalapeno and Lime, Bibimbap, Roasted Trout with Fennel, Onions and Cilantro and Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze, I won't make the scrumptious sounding Baked Pasta with Cauli...
Monday, August 03, 2009

Lavash Sandwiches: Recipe

On really hot days, when I was growing up, my mother used to make an antipasto plate with dry salami, cheese, cherry tomatoes, olives, celery sticks, and various other things for dinner. We'd sit outside and nibble away until the house cooled down enough to go back inside. These days I don't have any outdoor space where I can eat al fresco, but I still enjoy a do-it-yourself style dinner now and again. Hot weather calls for some creative approaches to meals and my mom was right--lighter, less meaty, room temperature meals that don't require using the stove really help beat the heat. A variation on my mom's antipasto platter is lavash sandwiches. If you've never used Persian lavash bread before you should try it. It's similar to a flour tortilla but square or rectangular instead of round and at room temperature it's pliable and soft. You can get it in white or whole wheat. Tortillas are great when warm, but cold or room temperature they are dry and gummy ...