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Friday, August 31, 2012

Taste of Israel

What is the cuisine of Israel? I will soon find out! I've been invited by a group of students from Taste of Israel  to experience the food of Israel. I will be visiting wineries, restaurants, a dairy, markets and more. Food is always a lens through which I see the world and learn about people and culture . I know very little about Israel so I'm looking forward to an eye opening experience. I will be in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Tiberias, Dead Sea and Caesarea . I'm especially excited to stay with a friend  Anne Kleinberg , author of the cookbook, Pomegranates at Casa Caesarea , her B&B. It's through my blog that I met Anne and eight years later I am finally meeting her in person. My trip is the second in recent months that will bring food bloggers to Israel. My fellow bloggers Pille of Nami Nami and David Lebovitz have shared wonderful posts about their trip (albeit with a different organizer). My thanks to them for their recommendations and advice. ...
Thursday, August 30, 2012

Araxi Long Table Dinner July 2012

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Whistler was the Araxi Long Table Dinner . For a resort town, Whistler has some very impressive restaurants and Araxi is one of them. Whether you want modern cuisine, something playful, a spectacular view or are dining in style you can find it all in Whistler. Although, to be honest, things don't get terribly formal in Whistler and that is certainly part of it's appeal. Araxi is on the high end of the spectrum and has received all kinds of accolades in the press.  The location for the dinner was Rainbow Park in Whistler Valley. With a name like that you just know it's going to be drop dead gorgeous, right? And it was. A meandering path led to an open space with views of Whistler and Blackcombe mountains set on Alta Lake. The Long Table Dinners are a bit similar to Outstanding in the Field. A multi course dinner is held outdoors in a picturesque location showcasing local ingredients and a percentage of ticket sales go to ...
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Martha Stewart Collection Cast Iron Enamel Cookware

An opportunity to try out an 8 quart enameled cast iron casserole of cookware from   Martha Stewart  Collection was an offer I couldn't turn down. I'd seen the line at Macy's, the only place where it is available, and it's very handsome and I wondered how it would compare to my other enameled cast iron from Le Creuset.. I have three pieces of Le Creuset enameled cookware . I have smaller and larger "French ovens" as Le Creuset refers to them in round and oval shapes. I use them all the time and in recipes I refer to them as Dutch ovens or heavy casseroles. There are some differences between the two lines of cookware. The Martha Stewart Collection cookware is made in China, and the Le Creuset cookware is made in France. The colors and styling of the cookware is slightly different as is the sizing. Le Creuset makes a 7 /14 quart round and a 9 quart round, but not an 8 quart round piece. The interior of the Le Creuset is white, whereas the Martha Stewart i...
Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Amy's Southwestern Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Thanks to Nate Pollack for the photo Sharing original recipes here on the blog led to writing a cookbook and doing recipe development for corporate clients. But this is the first time (that I know of) that I've ever had an item on a menu. It's my Southwestern Grilled Cheese Sandwich and it's available at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen . I don't know how long it will stay on the menu, but for this week, 20% of the proceeds of the sandwich go to support one of my favorite non-profits in San Francisco, La Cocina .  So what's in the sandwich?  Artisan Bakers sourdough Chipotle butter Tillamook Jack Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Fresh JalapeƱos and Hatch chilis (from New Mexico) Roasted tomatoes Sweet white corn Black beans seasoned with garlic, cumin and bay leaves Do give it a try and let me know what you think!  American Grilled Cheese Kitchen 1 South Park San Francisco 415.243.0107 Open 7 days a week:  Mon-Fri 8am- 3 pm Sat-Sun...
Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Make a Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Would you like to know the secrets to great grilled cheese sandwiches? Heidi Gibson, the Commander-in-Cheese of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen  is a serious grilled cheese champ. She has won more grilled cheese sandwich contests than anyone. Last night I learned from Gibson how to make breakfast and brunch versions of grilled cheese sandwiches and picked up some amazing tips. I also got the news that The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen just won a $250,000 grant that will help them to open their second location in the Cafe Gratitude space on Harrison Street. No joke. Gibson, manager and co-owner Nate Pollack and all their customers are truly grateful. So let's get started!  What's best to slather on your bread?  On the outside Gibson goes with butter, she recommends European style and she likes salted, not unsalted butter so that the sandwich has a bit of "salty crunch" when you bite into it.  What kind of bread should you use?  Almost any ki...
Friday, August 17, 2012

Brown Cow Cream on Top Greek yogurt review & Giveaway

When is yogurt more than just a culinary staple used in cooking and with cereal and in smoothies? When it's Brown Cow's new Cream on Top Greek yogurt . Brown Cow has been my husband's favorite brand for a long time. It's the cream on top that makes it so decadent. It's not organic, but it's American Humane Certified which means you an be assured that the cows are treated humanely and are never given artificial growth hormones (rBST or rBGH).  Like all of the Brown Cow yogurt I've tried, it's particularly mild and creamy. Some Greek yogurts can be very tangy, this will not make your mouth pucker. It's also very rich at 240 calories for an 8 ounce serving of plain and about 200 calories or so for the 6 ounce flavored varieties. Personally, this is not what I would necessarily use everyday, but rather as a dessert or as a dessert topping. It's very thick and by no means low fat. But it is yummy!  Brown Cow Cream Top Greek yogurt is avai...
Thursday, August 16, 2012

San Francisco Street Food Festival

I hope you have blocked off a good chunk of the next few days to attend some of the fantastic events being put on by La Cocina , namely the San Francisco Street Food Festival . This tremendous event just gets better and better every year. This year there will be a Night Market at Alemany Farmer's Market taking place on Friday evening, plus the festival all day Saturday and on Sunday and Monday, the Food and Entrepreneurship Conference . I'll be volunteering at the festival all afternoon and will get there early so I don't miss a minute! At a preview event I got to see some of the bright shiny faces of the vendors who will be at the festival this year and taste some of their dishes. Here are some of my favorites: Kika of  Kika's Treats  is serving her Brazilian cheese bread, which is like a chewy version of a gougere. Served warm they are gooey with a little crunch.  Eji's Ethiopian  served a spicy lentil misir wat that seriously woke up my taste...
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On Julia Child's 100 Birthday

Today marks what would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. She's a  bit like America's culinary mother, the woman who encouraged and cajoled us into the kitchen to be become better cooks, with her humor and her can do attitude. I wish I had a great persona l Julia Child story, but alas, I don't.  I can only share that like so many others, I have collected her cookbooks, cooked many of her recipes and thoroughly enjoyed watching her on TV. Right now I am in the midst of reading Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child , the most comprehensive biography of Julia Child, written by Bob Spitz, someone who not only knew her, but admits to having had a crush on her. It's over 500 pages long and includes lots of anecdotes but it's really her character that shines through in the book and makes it such a good read.  You can read an excerpt online .   Also on my nightstand is a children's book that features Julia Child. Minette's Feast has illustration...
Thursday, August 09, 2012

Duck and Mango Soba Salad

Duck and Mango Soba Salad is a big bowl of deliciousness --slithery noodles, succulent roast duck, juicy mango slices and vibrant green herbs. The dressing relies on just a few pantry staples. Asian pantry staples that is. I recommend you keep on hand six basic items--Chinese chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, miso and coconut milk. You can expand that list as you see fit. I always have various types of soy sauce and Chinese vinegars, oyster sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, Mirin, Chinese sesame paste, shelf stable packages of tofu, Asian noodles and some Thai curry pastes. A few pantry staples, a stop to pick up a duck at a Chinese deli and a swing through a produce market and you're on your way to making Duck and Mango Soba Salad! I shop on Clement Street frequently because there are lots of produce markets with a variety of fruit and vegetables I can't find elsewhere (such as Chinese greens and fresh lychees) shops where I can find dim sum to-g...
Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

Coffee is a social drink, whether you are ordering an expresso from a crowded bar in Naples or sipping coffee from a saucer in Sweden, as Marcus Samuelsson's grandfather did . But the coffee ceremony from Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee is something very moving. I got to experience it over the weekend, at an event hosted by Ethiopian born  Chef Marcus Samuelsson  and illy that was held at Espressamente, the illy cafe in San Francisco. The coffee ritual occurs when you entertain guests at home in Ethiopia. Marcus Samuelsson explained it's a way of getting together, of celebrating. What I experienced was a form of hospitality that truly envelops all your senses. The coffee is prepared by a woman, sitting on the ground, but fresh flowers and greenery are used to beautify the space. Green coffee beans are roasted, and at first there is only the scent of incense used to begin the ceremony but slowly as the beans toast in a pan over the course of 40 minutes to an hour, the...
Friday, August 03, 2012

Interview with Marcus Samuelsson

Chef Marcus Samuelsson  is one of the guests coming from out of town for SF Chefs . He'll be here with  illy cafe . And I'll be one of the illy cafe social media correspondents, sharing details of SF Chefs on Saturday night and all day Sunday. Follow me on  Twitter  and check out my posts on  Instagram  (@cookingwithamy) Coffee and coffee culture is so important in both Ethiopia and Sweden, where you were born and where you were raised, respectively. Can you share what significance it has for you personally?   Coffee culture in Ethiopia and Sweden couldn’t be farther apart in the actual rituals but for me I always associate it with family memories and the bringing together of friends and loved ones. Obviously as coffee is grown in Ethiopia it so much part of everyone’s life and diet. How you drink your coffee can vary depending on which tribe you’re from some have it with butter, or with salt or with barley they all celebrate it differently. What memories do you have d...
Thursday, August 02, 2012

Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salad Recipe

This recipe for Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad is brought to you by the fresh corn, leftover cotija cheese and a can of beans. And that lazy feeling that strikes during the Summer for something delicious yet easy. Like most everyone, I love fresh corn. Eight ears for 2 dollars? Sold! When corn is sweet it's a cinch to prepare. In addition to adding it to a salad, my other favorite ways to prepare it are making corn chowder (I make a different version just about very time) and on the cob, slathered with mayo and dredged in crumbled cheese served with a wedge of lime. While corn should be cooked soon after picking or purchasing, cotija cheese is the exact opposite. I bought cotija for some recipe or another and found the leftover cheese lasted and lasted. Like other Mexican cheeses, it's inexpensive, and easy to use. Cotija is a crumbly cheese, less salty than feta, but a little goes a long way. The beans in this recipe make the salad feel hearty and substantial. I ...