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Friday, December 29, 2017

Miyagi Oyster Mushroom Bisque Recipe

A few weeks ago I received a dozen and a half miyagi oysters from Real Good Fish as part of my my seafood subscription. Because miyagi oysters are delicate and small, I generally just serve them on the half shell, but this time I decided to make bisque. Bisque is a creamy soup traditionally made from seafood and in particular broth from seafood shells.  Searching around online I found a recipe for oyster bisque  from Chef Greg Atkinson in Seattle that called for cooking the oysters in the shells. While I have gotten better at shucking oysters with practice, this appealed to me greatly! It’s a stunning recipe but I only had half the amount of oysters required so I could only make a half batch. The second time around I was inspired to make a bisque with both oysters and oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms look a bit like oysters in color and shape. They have a very mild earthy flavor that reminds me of oysters as well.  My recipe uses less heavy cream than the original and I p...
Friday, December 22, 2017

Cooking from the Books in 2017

Because I’ve been cooking all my life and it comes easily to me, I can generally take a look at a recipe and anticipate with some degree of accuracy, how it will turn out. But that’s not the same as actually cooking a dish from a cookbook. On this list I am covering only the cookbooks that got a “trial run.” For each of these cookbooks I cooked at least one recipe, sticking as close to the recipe as I could. I'm hoping my results along with my comments will help you to decide which of these books are for you.  So far I’ve just made one recipe from Dinner Changing the Game by Melissa Clark and I really liked it. It was the Tofu Spaetzle with Gruyere Gratin. It’s more of a main dish than a side since the spaetzle is actually shredded extra firm tofu, baked with gruyere and caramelized onions and topped with bread crumbs. My problem with the book is that in addition to really inspiring creative recipes like Fusili and Roasted Cauliflower with Capers, Kimchi Pork Chops with Kale...
Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Bay Area Chocolate Gifts

The Bay Area is a wonderful place for chocolate. We have bean to bar manufacturers as well as talented confectioners and pastry chefs all crafting wonderful treats. Today is the deadline for 2 day delivery, so if you're looking for gifts to arrive in time for Christmas, here are some of my top picks:  Recchiuti  is famous for their burnt caramel truffle, fleur de sel caramels and their wonderful s’mores kit. This year I got a chance to try their  Dark Hot Chocolate . Please note, this is not cocoa, it’s real chocolate pistoles, made with a custom South American blend. What are pistoles? It's the French name for a Spanish coin; the chocolate coins melt into a rich, yet mellow and smooth drink when dissolved with water or milk (or a combination). Or you can add some to your coffee, as my mother-in-law likes to do. It’s won raves from many publications and is a great winter time treat for kids or adults, just under $20. One of my favorite local confectioners is Charles Ch...
Monday, December 11, 2017

Fig & Almond Crisps Recipe

If you’ve been to a party recently, there’s a good chance you’ve come across raincoast crisps ® . They are highly addictive crackers filled with nuts, seeds and dried fruit, created  by  Lesley Stowe , a Parisian-trained chef based in Vancouver.  They come in all kinds of flavors such as apricot and ginger, and fig and olive and have a sweet and savory flavor so they pair exceedingly well with cheese. A slim little sleeve of them is about $7 so I was thrilled to see a recipe for a copycat recipe from Dinner with Julie blogger and genius cookbook author and food writer, Julie Van Rosendaal. I was lucky enough to meet Julie a couple of years ago and in person she's just as funny and charming as she comes across on the blog. She's also has mad skills as a recipe developer.  Julie’s recipe is for Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps , but I happened to have plenty of figs and almonds so I went with those and added a healthy dose of cinnamon rather than rosemary. The recipe is reall...
Monday, November 27, 2017

Greek to Me & MyHeritage Special Offer

Do I look Greek to you? I don’t think I do but my dad and my uncle both have olive skin and brown eyes, as did their mother who was sometimes misidentified as Italian. Recently I got a chance to try out one of those DNA tests and it estimated my ethnicity at 89.1% Ashkenazi Jewish, 2.2 Balkan and 8.7 Greek. The Ashkenazi and Balkan are not surprising but the Greek is. Of course, Greece isn’t all that far away from Romania and I know that some of my ancestors did come from Romania.  If you would like to either take one of these DNA tests or give one as a gift, MyHeritage is offering the kit for half off the normal price, just $49 today only and you can get free shipping by going to https://www.myheritage.com/dna  and using the code MHCOOKINGWITHAMY Whether or not I’m Greek is up for debate since DNA tests cannot definitely determine your ethnicity , but they are fun. Also have I mentioned I love Greek food? Unfortunately many Greek restaurants in the US have rather limited m...
Monday, November 20, 2017

Giovanni Italian Specialties by Tony Gemignani

I have a soft spot for all things Italian. I love the language, culture and especially the food. When I first moved to San Francisco (after living in Italy) I lived on Telegraph Hill and I did a lof of my shopping in North Beach, which has traditionally been San Francisco's Italian neighborhood, dating back to the early 1900’s. I loved being able to speak Italian in the delis and buy fresh pasta and focaccia and a bit of Pecorino Toscano—just as I had in Florence. But North Beach is changing and Italian delis in particular have been in a decline all over the city.  So I’m really pleased to see that a new Italian shop has opened up in North Beach. It’s Giovanni Italian Specialties by pizza impressario Tony Gemignani and is named for his 3 year old son. The shop is jam packed with high quality ingredients and prepared food. They are making extruded pasta on site and offer fresh pesto and jars of imported ingredients. Because it’s across the street from Washington Square Park...
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Istanbul & Beyond Author Robyn Eckhardt

Istanbul & Beyond  has been named as one of the top cookbooks of Fall 2017 by Epicurious, Publisher's Weekly and Tasting Table. But the reason I’m so excited about it is that I’ve had wonderful food on my two trips to Turkey. There is so much beyond just the typical kebabs you find in Turkish restaurants in the US. Recently I spoke with author Robyn Eckhardt about the book.  How many years did the cookbook take to write and how many trips did you make to Turkey?  We started research in 2011 and turned in the manuscript 5 years later. Probably about 13 or 14 trips, our first trip was in 1998. We were living in China and moved back to the Bay Area and I began studying Turkish and then we started going almost every year for 2-3 weeks. At this point I can talk to anyone in Turkish about anything food relatied.  After all that research, how did you decided what should go in the book?  I focused on things that were not in other books, I wanted to highlight things that w...
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pairing Merlot & Steak #MerlotMe 2017

I love pairing food and wine. While a wonderful food and wine match can bring out the best in both the food and the wine, I also believe you should drink what you like and not let classic pairings get in the way of a good thing. Last year I took part in # MerlotMe and this year I was drawn to same bottle as before, a J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot, this time the 2015. But I went in a totally different direction with it. The 2105 vintage has 9% Malbec in the blend and that’s what made me think, why not pair it with steak? Of course I know Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic wine pairing for steak but I actually prefer steak with Malbec. In general I also prefer Merlot to Cabernet. The J.Lohr 2015 Los Osos Merlot has big berry and cherry aromas as well as a ton of mocha. It’s fresh, fruity and youthful and I was surprised to learn it has 13.9% alcohol because it certainly didn't seem like it did (but for all I know it might even be higher). I served it with slices of a fantastic New York...
Thursday, October 26, 2017

G.H.Cretors Giveaway!

I've learned a few things about myself lately. I took one of those genealogy tests and got the results. Do I look Greek to you? More on that later. I also discovered that despite my age, I may have a thing or two in common with millennials. According to the results of a survey sponsored by G.H.Cretors , 65% say “I've eaten popcorn I picked off my clothes” and 64% admit licking their fingers after they are done snacking on popcorn. I fit right in with those millennials! As long as I'm in a confessing mood, I'll tell you the photo above represents the sad remains of a deluxe shipment I received including quite a several organic flavors of popcorn from the aforementioned G.H.Cretors. While I pretty much like all their popcorn I will admit that nothing so far has topped my favorite flavor, The Mix , which is a combination of caramel and aged cheddar cheese popcorn, an addictively delicious salty sweet snack. If you've flown through Chicago O'Hare airport you ...
Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chimay

If I were to ask you to name a Belgian Trappist beer, I bet you’d say Chimay . But I also bet you don’t know all that much about Chimay. I certainly didn’t until I met the utterly charming Luc “Bobo” Van Mechelin, US brand ambassador. We sat down over a beer or two so I could learn more about all things Trappist and Chimay.  Trappists originally came from La Trappe in Normandy, but were expelled from France by Napoleon and settled in Belgium. Today there are 170 Trappist monasteries around the world, and 10 of them are in the US. In Belgium Trappists first made cheese, but then began making beer (they still do make cheese). In 1992 six Belgian and one Dutch Trappist monastery came together to protect the designation, “Trappist beer.” They agreed that to be a Trappist beer it must be brewed inside the walls of the monastery, there can be no commercial investment and 90% of the net profits must be given away to charitable causes. Chimay has given proceeds to support orphanages, sc...
Saturday, September 09, 2017

Ramen Summit at J Pop Festival 2017

Kaz Tsutsumi showing off ramen noodles Part of the annual San Francisco celebration of all things Japanese, the  J-Pop Summit is the Ramen Summit . There are five different ramen shops offering a different style of ramen. This year I tried each of the bowls. And so can you! Tickets are still available for Sunday September 10, 2017 for the J-Pop Summit and the Ramen Summit is located outside the entrance. Each bowl is $8, and definitely large enough to share. Here's my take on each bowl featured this year. Marufuku Ramen This Hakata style ramen is one of my current favorites. I really love the creamy texture of their tonkotsu and their ultra thin noodles which still manage to remain al dente. It’s made under the guidance of Kaz Tsutsumi, who has been a ramen chef for 11 years. Marufuku has a shop in Japantown in the old Sapporo-Ya space. I wrote about it for Tasting Table, it was one of my picks for  cheap eats . Their noodles are custom made by  Yamachan .  ...
Wednesday, September 06, 2017

LUCKYRICE Feast & Interview with Danielle Chang

The number eight is considered lucky in Chinese culture, and the more eights the luckier. This year represents the 8th anniversary of LUCKYRICE , an Asian food festival and it’s being held on September 8, 2017, general admission tickets are $88. That's a whole lot of luck! While this may be the 8th year, it’s also in one way the first. It’s the first year of a plant based edition feast. This is noteworthy because if you go to chef gala events you see a lot of the same kinds of dishes and they aren’t plant based. Tuna tartare is popular, a seared scallop, perhaps something with pork belly or foie gras will make an appearance. But as dining evolves so too do these events. In San Francisco some of the finest restaurants are focusing more on vegetables than ever before. I spoke with LUCKYRICE founder, Danielle Chang to learn more about the event and the second season of her PBS show, Lucky Chow . How many galas and "feasts" have you produced? In the eight lucky yea...
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Cauliflower Hatch Chile Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

There are certain dishes that no matter how many times I make them, I’m always looking for a better recipe. Macaroni and cheese is one of them. You know a good macaroni and cheese when you taste it. For me, it’s rich but not oily, gooey with melted cheese and with no graininess to the sauce. It’s also got a little sharp edge to it. I usually start with a bechamel, but I’ve never been convinced that it’s the perfect sauce base.  I eat a lot of cauliflower and I’m by no means the first to discover that pureed it can stand in for all kinds of creamy sauces. For this recipe I was inspired by two recipes, one from Mark Bittman and another from Michelle Obama. Yup. Michelle Obama. It’s a recipe that is floating around the internet but I really couldn’t find very many comments from readers who had tried it, so I just went for it. The whole grain pasta and cauliflower addition make this a healthier recipe than some, but I still wouldn't call it healthy.  My version of this rec...