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San Francisco

The Spring Garden

March 31, 2011

Our weeping cherry tree is blossoming right now, and it’s been a lot of fun to work in the garden lately. I planted a sorbet peony among other things, and the hydrangea I burned with fertilizer late last year is making a really nice come back. Pretty soon it’ll be real BBQ season (I lovely 76 degree day here today, but so unexpected it’s hard to get a BBQ group going) and we’ll be spending a lot of time back there.

I haven’t planted spring crops yet, but it’s on the to-do list. The chard from last summer is still producing nicely, as is the arugula. The leeks I planted a few months ago aren’t doing well; I think they’ve been too cold at night and too wet during the day and so they never quite spanned out and are still slim and clumped together. The other containers, for the most part, are resting right now. The kale missed its chance when it was attacked by caterpillars at its prime, and I’ll probably uproot it soon. The thyme is still doing well, and I ought to use it more often.

Anyone having luck with other crops in SF?

breakfast & brunch one-pan recipes Recipes San Francisco special occasion sweets & cookies

Park Chow’s Cinnamon French Toast with Marscapone Cream

February 20, 2011

Home made version of Park Chow's Cinnamon French Toast (recipe)

For those of you in San Francisco, you can go and make your own comparison–but for the rest of you, you’ll have to trust me: the best French toast you’ll ever have is at Park Chow in San Francisco. It’s light, it’s crispy, it’s moist, it’s sweet and cinnamony. And, for weeks, I worked on perfecting my own version for a cinnamon french toast recipe. Here you have it–enjoy! (and if you’re really in for the whole experience, get some coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee Company–it’s where they get their custom blend!)

Mascarpone Cream Topping Recipe
1/2 C heavy whipping cream, whipped very firm
1/2 C room temperature mascarpone cheese
1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 T whiskey, creme de cocoa or other liquor of your preference

Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer. In an ideal world, you’ll cover it (or put it in a mason jar like I do) and refrigerate it until very firm.

Cinnamon French Toast Recipe – serves 3-4
4-5 1 inch thick slices Semifreddi’s cinnamon twist bread (a brioche style loaf with a slightly stick outside & cinnamon layers), quartered to triangles
3 eggs, whisked
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup milk

Whisk everything but the bread together, and then begin soaking the bread slices in the mixture. They should be pretty darn soggy.

Cook in 1-2 T butter in a 10-12 inch skillet at medium high heat. If your slices are very thick, or seem not to be drying out, reduce heat and cover lightly with a lid to steam through. Serve with real maple syrup, warm.

breakfast & brunch one-pan recipes San Francisco vegetables & hot greens vegetarian

Easy Sunday Brunch

January 18, 2011


eggs baked in collard greens

almond beignets (cafe du monde mix)

No-stress Sunday Brunch

– Almond Beignets using Cafe du Monde mix and adding 1 tsp almond extract

Baked eggs in dandelion greens & collards with nutmeg & cream (modified from smitten kitchen)

– Arugula salad with yogurt-citrus dressing, cara cara oranges, watermelon radish & ruby grapefruit

Butternut squash-lentil hash with goat cheese (make ahead)

– Lots and lots of mimosas

– A bit of coffee to straighten up

San Francisco

Holiday Food Photos

January 3, 2011

Mostly my mom’s food:

-brioche bread pudding (brunch)

-bulgogi lettuce wraps with apple, carrot, cucumber

-mini reubens

-Pizza Out

-french style eggs with tarragon

dinner Fall main courses Recipes San Francisco sauces seafood soups special occasion vegetables & hot greens Winter

Birthday Dinner: Crab Bisque & Filet Mignon w/ Bernaise + Sweet Potato/Chard Gratin

December 13, 2010
home made filet mignon with bernaise sauce

home made filet mignon with bernaise sauce

Home made crab bisque with dungeness crab

I hosted 8 (including myself) for dinner on Friday to celebrate my gentleman’s birthday; it was lively all night, everybody got full and we washed about 25 wine glasses. We drank champagne, prosecco, sparkling wine from california; we drank mouvedre from Chateau Margene, cuvee from Beckmen, a roussane blend from Tablas Creek–we had delicious wine, and the food came out great.

Recipes to follow in the next day or two. I wish I’d taken a photo of the refuse after making the crab stock, it was a pretty mess in my backyard compost container.

Recipes San Francisco

Thanksgiving Menu, Foodie Style

November 22, 2010

Persimmon slaw-style salad recipe photo

pumpkin galette recipe photo

*I’ve added photos of the spread above after the fact, and will be adding recipes over the next few days.

This year, I’m hosting Thanksgiving. I’ve co-hosted in the past, but haven’t ever done the full-throttle. I’m expecting 8 guests, 3 of them being immediate family, one being a boyfriend, two being a pair of friends and another lone wolf friend. It should be a nice blast, this year more liberals than conservatives (traditionally, my brother and dad go at it on a team, I being the black sheep in the family and suffering the brute of the political banter).

I’ll be serving I served:

Persimmon slaw-style salad
Haricot-vert with garlic, lemon zest
Ina’s Sausage stuffing
Butternut Squash/Acorn Squash/Chard/Beet Green gratin (it is divine)
Whipped sweet potatoes with orange and cream
Fresh herb butter with delicious ACME bread
Turkey breast; one lemon pepper, one smoky-sweet paprika
Fresh cranberry sauce
Fresh Pumpkin Galette with cocoa nibs & creme de cocoa/marscapone whipped cream (using this crust and a variation on this filling with less moisture)

Missing recipes to come over the few days as I make them; If you’re a well-versed cook than can handle improvising on the missing ones (which are all quite simple), this is the plan I have for doing-ahead:

wash/trim parsley, green beans
cook sweet potatoes, reserve pulp
make herb butter

make cranberry sauce
dry rub turkey
chop & wash cabbage, reserve

pick chard (from my garden)
slice butternut squash for casserole
prepare casserole, cook most of way, reserve
make pumpkin galette
make stuffing, cook most way, reserve

chop persimmons in AM
cook turkey
reheat stuffing
warm galette
finish cooking casserole
buy good bread
set out butter in AM
make green bean dish
assemble slaw

appetizers dinner Fall Italian lunch main courses one-pan recipes pasta Recipes San Francisco sauces Winter

Gorgonzola and Pear Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Gorgonzola e Pera)

November 20, 2010
Gnocci with Gorgonzola and Pears

Gnocci with Gorgonzola and Pears

Gnocchi alla gorgonzola e pera is actually a pretty common dish in the northern half of Italy; the kind of thing any restaurant that might be serving tourists would throw on (without regard to seasonality, local cuisine, etc), and while that might turn you off, it’s actually quite good. That said, I ate it several places in Florence, and am fairly certain I spotted it on other menus around the way.

I couldn’t find much on the history of this dish, so I think it’s more of a modern classic–prior to not-too-many-years-ago, most classic products of regions didn’t get transported or heavily used much in other regions. There was a time when gorgonzola is what you ate when you were in piedmonte; risotto is what you ate in Milan and in the far north, you ate potatoes in Alto Adige and maybe in Emilia-Romagna. Less so now, with the best of the best being desired by Italians everywhere loving food.

Gnocchi is, however, typical of Alto Adige (where potatoes are most common), and gorgonzola–if it is officially DOP gorgonzola–is from Piedmonte. For this dish, you’ll want to use the opposite of what you’d likely want to snack on in a cheese plate. You’ll use Gorgonzola Dolce, which is the young, “sweet” gorgonzola. As the cheese ages it becomes more “piquante” or spicy, hot. It’ll tickle your throat if it’s the wrong type for this job. If you don’t have a quality cheese chop that carries both and can point them out, look for gorgonzola (imported, not pre-crumbled) that has a more soft, creamy texture with less blue bits–that’s usually it.

For 3-4
3 oz gorgonzola dolce cheeese
1 ripe pear, diced
1 T butter
2 T flour
1 cup light vegetable stock
1/2 cup milk
fresh gnocchi*
salt, fresh ground pepper

Boil your water and have it ready. If you are using fresh gnocchi (which you could be!), they require VERY little cooking time, take what you think they take and cut it by half. Seconds! Otherwise, they’ll fall apart, and you’ll regret it.

Dice your pear, have your ingredients ready. You may or may not need slightly more or less veg stock & milk. Create a roux by heating the butter in a small sauce pan, until clear and stopped bubbling, medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until color darkens slightly, about 2 minutes. Continue whisking and slowly add the vegetable stock, then the milk, until you get a mac-n-cheese type consistency, or slightly thinner. Add the gorgonzola and continue whisking until smooth.

Add the gnocchi to the water and cook; remove the gnocchi as soon as they float to the top of the pan using a slatted spoon or gnocchi paddle. Add the pear to the sauce and let it warm up, adding the gnocchi to the sauce and stirring gently to coat, with a large wooden spoon (don’t use metal, you’ll chop up the dumplings).

Add some salt and black pepper to taste, serve!

Fresh gnocchi makes a huge difference over the vaccu-packed kind you’ll find on the pasta isle. It’s much less dense and has the texture of a down pillow, collapsing in your mouth. I buy mine in bulk from Rainbow market or from Faletti Foods; both carry gnocchi by the bay area’s “Pasta Shop,” which lots of local stores retail products from.

dinner Fall lunch main courses one-pan recipes Recipes San Francisco soups Winter

Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Chili

November 3, 2010
home made chili with rancho gordo heirloom beans

home made chili with rancho gordo heirloom beans

Delicious chili made from Rancho Gordo heirloom organic beans, adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

olive oil
2 large yellow or sweet onions, diced
1 T minced garlic
2 large carrots, cubed
1 cup dry pinquito beans
1 cup dry yellow-eye steuben heirloom beans (also rancho gordo but they aren’t selling them online! if you’re in SF try Rainbow’s bulk section)
3 lbs ground beef, turkey, chicken, or pork (I used mostly beef/pork, but a little ground chicken too)
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
4 T chili powder
1 T cumin (ground)
2 T paprika
1 T dry oregano
1 T chili flakes
16 oz tomatoes chopped or stewed/pureed (I use POMI)
2 C beef broth or veal stock
1/4 C cider vinegar

Cheddar cheese, grated
Red onion, diced

Serve with macaroni  OR bread

Beans: Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water. Do not soak more than 9 hours or they will probably burst. They may be mixed for soaking. Try to pre-cook ahead, but if not, start cooking the drained, rinsed, soaked beans in fresh water in a seperate pan as you begin making the chili. Cover and be sure they are cooking at at least a simmer, but not a boil. You want them tender before you add them to the chili at the end. They like to be cooked about an inch of water over the beans; just drain off the extra water if they’re cooked through.

Chili: In a soup pot or dutch oven, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil or butter. When hot, add diced onions. Cook until almost translucent, at medium heat. Add the garlic & carrots, cooking another 2-3 minutes. Add the meat, and let it cook through.

While meat is cooking, dice your peppers and gather your other ingredients.

When meat is cooked, add all of the spices. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beef stock, and vinegar. You may wish to reserve additional beef stock in case you prefer looser chili. Prepare your garnishes. Add the drained, cooked beans to the chili and you may serve in 10 minutes (simmering) or any amount of time after. The longer it sits, the better; I like to put the lid back on the pan and let it cool down very slowly, so that the flavors meld.

Serve with cheddar and red onion on top.

San Francisco

Why, hello there, friend! & French macarons the Italian way

October 3, 2010

kitchenaid pistachio stand mixer

French Macaron Recipe is now here.

Please welcome the newest addition to my kitchen family, the marvelous pistachio kitchenaid stand mixer!!

Let me summarize how such a grand belonging came to be in my possession: there was a pair of friends, they conspired to do what lady friends do on evenings that their manfriends are scarce; the evening may or may not have involved a lot of wine, dessert at a 5 star restaurant and coffee with an Algerian, but nonetheless at the start of the evening one asked the other to “put away and lift something heavy in my kitchen” which turned out to be a shockingly good early birthday present to yours truly from said friend.

BUT CAROLINE! HOW CAN I HAVE SUCH FRIENDS THAT BESTOW UPON ME HEAVENLY MIXERS??” I must tell you only that you should be equally kind and awesome and such things may follow. Thank you so much L, I’ll be thinking about you for years to come as I make tasty treats and watch my waistline expand.

red velvet macarons with matcha buttercream filling (green tea buttercream)

My my, what is that, you say? That’s a matcha buttercream stuffed red velvet macaron.

red velvet macarons with green tea buttercream  filling

And, the first batch I made, which cracked, raised funny and flat–and I realized, before cooking the batch above the day after, that it was because they’d been placed on my pizza stone. So, the red velvet-matcha buttercream macarons went on the top rack instead.

black sesame vanilla macarons

Physically challeneged vanilla buttercream black sesame macarons–they suffered the wrath of my pizza stone which made them lack feet and crack in the center–a real mystery for your typical macaron trouble-shooting where lack of feet indicates too cool an oven and cracking indicates too hot!

Macaron & buttercream recipe is here.

San Francisco

Farmer’s Market Finds & Flowers

October 3, 2010
Fresh Dates from san francisco farmer's market

Fresh Dates from san francisco farmer's market

Made my way to the Alemany farmer’s market this Saturday with a friend and scored some habaneros (plans to make my own garlicky hot sauce this week), 10 Lisbon limes, some fresh dates (they have a bitter chemical taste on the tongue similar to what tannins in wine do to your palette, but have an AMAZING sweetness that can only be described as like intense honeysuckle or straight up honey), and some amazing flowers