Monday, November 30, 2009

Asian Pork Burgers

Asian Pork Burger

Last week I tried a new to me farmers market at the Santa Monica promenade. I really like waking up on Sunday mornings and heading to the market, but sometimes I get busy so it was nice to try a Saturday option, plus this one is all organic! I picked up a bunch of great things for the short week and I also got some pork in anticipation of making this recipe, but later that day I got a craving for a burger. Since I didn't feel like running to the store yet again, I improvised with what I had. I grilled up some sweet onions and mixed together a thick peanut sauce as a topping. The burgers are great! Really flavorful and a nice hint of spice when eaten with the peanut sauce. The carrots may sound odd on a burger, but they added a nice crunch. I used those sandwich thin things instead of buns so I didn't feel so heavy. In fact, I'll be honest with you...these were so tasty I ate them one sitting! Please don't judge me.

Asian Pork Burgers
(Adapted from Steamy Kitchen)

Makes 2 burgers

8 ounces ground pork (or turkey)
1 large garlic clove, grated
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1 egg, beaten (you will only need about half)
1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper


Peanut butter
White or rice wine vinegar
Red pepper flakes
Grilled onions

Combine all ingredients for the burger. Form 2 equal sized burgers. Don’t make them too thick or they will be difficult to cook thoroughly. With your fingers, form a nice little dent in the middle. The burger will puff up in the middle during cooking and the dent will allow your burger will puff up evenly.

Cook burgers on medium-high direct heat for 4 minutes on each side or until internal meat is 160F. Serve with whichever toppings you like.

To make the peanut sauce:
Mix the peanut butter, vinegar, and red pepper flakes to taste. Season with salt as needed.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Cannoli


Daring Bakers: Cannoli

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Daring Bakers: Cannoli

I'm kind of surprised when I visit the Daring Bakers forum and see people complaining about the challenge. The whole point is to be challenged. Have some fun people! I have had cannoli exactly one other time from a corner bakery in New York city. I loved it, but never imagined I would make it myself. The only thing that really made me nervous about this was frying in my tiny box of an apartment since the smell lingers for days. Luckily SoCal has been experiencing insanely warm temps so I was able to leave the windows open and the smell was not a problem. Rather than buy cannoli forms, I concocted something found in this tutorial. I did half the recipe and got about 10 cannoli. Some were 3 inches and some were 5 inches. The smaller ones were easier to work with. The filling was a simple mix of ricotta, mascarpone, powdered sugar, and a vanilla bean. Nothing fancy here folks (I didn't have a lot of time), but still it all came together well and it was really delicious! I had fun with this challenge and thanks to our fabulous hostess! To see how the other cannolis came out, visit the blogroll.

Daring Bakers: Cannoli


For the shells:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/4 cup sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand (I used Moscat)
Water for sealing the edges

For the filling:
1/2 cup ricotta cheese, drained
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup cup confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
Mini chocolate chips (optional)
Finely chopped pistachios (optional)

To make the shells:

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them oiled. Since I used parchment wrapped foil, I did not oil the outside of the parchment). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little water on the dough where the edges overlap. Press well to seal.

In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

To make the filling:

Beat together the ricotta and mascarpone until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla beans. Fill each cannoli with the ricotta mixture and top the outsides with a few chocolate chips or pistachios if desired.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Roasted Squash and Sausage with Herbs

Roasted Squash and Sausage with Herbs

I’m not cooking for Thanksgiving this year. Well, actually I never cook for Thanksgiving, but if I was I imagine I would be making something like this. Instead, this is a dish I enjoyed for lunch over the last couple of days. Although it takes a bit of cooking time, it is simple to prepare and big on flavor. Using chicken sausage also makes it lighter. I used butternut squash that wasn’t quite ripe enough. I have been using butternut for years so I was a little surprised to see how yellow it was versus orange. The flavor was milder too, more like an acorn squash. It still went very well with the spicy chicken Italian sausage and the rosemary and thyme. I bet this would also be great with some sort of balsamic glaze to add a tart and sweet level. Either way, this is a keeper.

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving! How do you all spend the holiday? I’m flying up to SF tomorrow to see my mom and sister and spend the rest of the weekend eating and sleeping. Can’t wait!! Hope you all have a happy day and weekend!

Roasted Squash and Sausage with Herbs
(Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen)

2 lbs. winter squash, cut into cubes (use any type of winter squash)
4 spicy Italian chicken sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or more)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used rosemary and a bit of fresh thyme)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a dish with foil. (I used a 9x9 pan)

Put squash in a bowl, then toss with olive oil, dried thyme, salt and fresh ground black pepper and chopped fresh herbs, if using. Arrange squash cubes in an even layer in the baking dish and start to roast.

While you're cutting up squash, put the sausage on a plate, poke holes on each side of the sausages, and microwave on high for about 4-5 minutes (or until sausage is firm enough to cut into even slices.) Remove sausage from microwave and let cool. When it's cool enough to handle, cut the sausage into slices about 3/4 inch wide.

After squash has cooked for 20 minutes, stir squash, spread back out into the dish in an even layer, then arrange sausage slices on top of squash and roast 20 minutes more, or until sausage pieces are starting to brown. Then use a fork or tongs to carefully turn each piece of sausage so the other side is facing up and roast 10-20 minutes more, until sausage is browned and squash is slightly browned on top and caramelized on the bottom. Serve hot.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Pavlova with Pomegranate Curd

Pavlova with Pomegranate Curd and Fresh Pomegranate

So last year, I sort of overloaded you all with pomegranate recipes (or even recipes that didn't require poms, but just looked pretty with them in the picture). I am trying not to do the same this year, but with poms bursting at the seams at the farmers market and a whole new load of POM Wonderful juice, I am just itching to make many more recipes featuring the forbidden fruit. Last week I became obsessed with the idea of making a pomegranate curd. I just could not get it out of my mind. I am so glad I made it and then I tried to find out brilliant ways to use it. Sonja and Andy were really helpful in the thought process with the idea of a trifle, but all of a sudden it occurred to me me that I had a bunch of leftover egg whites and I should really use them up. Over the summer many people made the beautiful pavlova with lemon curd and fresh fruit featured in the now defunct Gourmet. I thought it would be a nice spin to make the pavlova part, but use the more seasonal pomegranate. It was a great gamble. I have never made a pavlova before and had a bit of trouble converting the number of egg whites into how much they weighed. I ended up choosing 30 grams per large egg white based on this recommendation at Joy of Baking. The pom curd ended up looking a bit (well...a lot) like poo, but with the pom seeds on top of the pavlova I hardly noticed it's unattactiveness. That and the fact that the tart pom curd paired so well with the sweet pavlova and tart and sweet seeds, this was an incredible and yet simple dessert. I have a lot more pom juice and I am definitely going to make some more curd to pair with toast and quite possibly another dessert.

Pomegranate Curd
(From Baroness Tapuzina)

3/4 cup sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
1 cup pomegranate juice
5 egg yolk, beaten well
1 stick butter, cut into small pieces at room temperature

In a bowl placed over a sauce pan of simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and pomegranate juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick like sour cream, about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Whisk the butter into the mixture until it has melted. The curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately with plastic wrap by placing the wrap directly on the curd and refrigerate until cool.

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(Adapted from Forever Summer (Style Network's))

Makes 1 8-inch pavlova (or two 4-inch pavlovas)

4 egg whites (120 grams)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vinegar
Few drop pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar one spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny.

Sprinkle over the cornstarch, vinegar, and vanilla. Fold gently until combined. Mound the meringue onto two four-inch circles.

Put the pan into the oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 300 degrees. Cook for 60-75 minutes. When it is ready, the pavlova will be crisp on the edges and dry on the top, but the center will be squidgy. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Let the pavlova cool completely.

When ready to serve, inver the pavlova onto a plate. Top with the pomegranate curd and pomegranate seeds.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Apple Gruyere Tart

Apple and Gruyere Tart

Last week I had some apples lying around and I wanted to do something interesting with them. I also had some gruyere left from the butternut squash pasties and some puff pastry left from my vols-au-vent so the combination that quickly came together in my head was a tart. For some color and added flavor, I added a bit of fresh thyme. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I am a huge fan of simple dishes. This is one fantastically dish that does not skimp on flavor. I am so loving the pink lady apples this season both for snacking and cooking with. I did not use quite the whole apple on this tart so snack on the rest while the tart is baking.

Apple and Gruyere Tart
(By Esi)

Makes 1 8-inch tart

1 square puff pastry
4 tablespoons Gruyere cheese
1 apple, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped plus extra thyme sprigs for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured board, roll out the puff pastry to an 8-inch round or square. Score the pastry so that there is a 1-inch border around. Spread 2 tablespoons of cheese over the bottom of the pastry. Lay the apples in a single layer over the cheese, then top with the remaining cheese. Sprinkle the top of the tart with the chopped thyme. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Brush the exposed edges of the pastry with egg wash. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese has browned. Garnish with extra thyme sprigs if desired.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Osteria Mozza: Amaro Bar Menu

Last week, my friend Kris and I decided it had been far too long since we’ve seen each other. We usually decide this about once every six months and meet up for a dinner at a different, random location. Kris quickly shot down my idea to go to Cube (I’m still not sure why) so I was briefly stumped. Then I remembered the Amaro Bar menu that Diana had been raving about recently.

I apologize for the crapstastic nature of the photos. In my excitement about my first Osteria Mozza dining experience, I forgot my camera at home. All I had was my cell phone cam…

We were pleasantly surprised that after being told it would be a 20-45 minute wait for the bar, that we were seated after only about 10 minutes. I almost crapped my pants when we sat right in front of Nancy Silverton…but we soon learned we were at the WRONG BAR. *sigh* After another few minutes wait, we were seated at the Amaro Bar. Honestly, this deal is just too great to pass up. For $35 you get an item from the mozzarella bar, pasta, a dessert and a glass of wine. Normally purchasing each of these items at a full dinner service would cost a lot more. Based on the strength of Diana’s recommendations and my own cravings I had the Oricchiette with Sausage and Swiss Chard, the Rosemary Olive Oil Cakes with Olive Oil Gelato and Rosemary Brittle, and Kris and I shared the mozzarella tasting for two.

Osteria Mozza

The burrata was easily the best item in the mozzarella, bursting with subtle sweet creaminess. Kris wasn’t a fan of the smoked mozzarella saying it reminded him of eating smoked salmon, but I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the GINORMOUS hunk of garlic toast that came with our cheeses.

Mozzarella Tasting for Two at Osteria Mozza

When the pasta came out, I was a little surprised to see so much sauce. I thought it would be bigger chunks of sausage and chard, but instead it was a lovely velvety sauce with small chunks of fennel sausage. It was topped with seasoned breadcrumbs which added a great texture. I ate every last bite of my pasta and enjoyed a bite of my dining companion’s oxtail ragu.

Orecchiette with Sausage & Swiss chard

Since I was little miss piggy with the pasta, I barely had room for dessert, but I managed a few bites of my rosemary olive oil cakes. The olive oil gelato was especially good when I got it all in one bite with the swirl of olive oil on the bottom of my plate and a few sprinkles of sea salt.

Rosemary Olive Oil Cakes

Plus I *managed* a bite of Kris' apple tart with cider ice cream,

Apple Tart at Osteria Mozza

This was a really successful meal and you just can’t beat that price. I am definitely looking forward to going back to Osteria Mozza for this deal and other meals.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cotija Corn Off the Cob

Cotija Corn Off the Cob

This past weekend I went to Palm Springs for a faaaaaabulous getaway. Seriously, it was the kind of fabulous weekend that requires multiple a’s. It was so nice to get out of town for a couple of days and just live in the lap of luxury, dipping my feet into the pool, drinking wine, and feeling relaxed. I wish it didn’t end. On Saturday, we stopped by the bar at the Ace Hotel for drinks and appetizers. One of the delicious things we tried was corn off the cob mixed with Cotija cheese and lime juice. I love Cotija cheese since I tried my hand at cooking with it at Raul’s birthday party several months ago. I love that squeaky salty texture and I have been thinking of ways to use it ever since. This recipe is essentially Mexican corn, but served in a much easier way off the cob and like a salsa. I think this would be really great with some black beans thrown in the mix or the corn grilled over a gas or charcoal grill for a nice smoky flavor.

Cotija Corn off the Cob

Cotija Corn Off The Cob

(Inspired by the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs)

Makes at least 4 servings as an appetizer

4 ears of corn on the cob, husks removed
6 ounces cotija cheese, cubed or crumbled
Juice of 1 large lime
1/4 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt and then the corn. Boil the corn for about 3-5 minutes until tender. Let the corn dry and cool down. Using a knife, remove the kernels from the cob.

In a large bowl, mix the corn kernels, cotija cheese, lime juice, chili powder, and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Season with salt and serve warm with corn chips, microwaving if necessary.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Foodbuzz Festival: The Rest

Christina Nastassia Esi and Sonja

You'd think that with a stomach full of food and wine, I would be pretty content. Well, you would be wrong. After lugging all of our swag back to the hotel, we quickly got ready and went back out to catch the bus to dinner, hosted by Outstanding in the Field. The dinner was held in a warehouse with one looooooooong table snaking throughout the place. After (yet another) glass of wine, we made our way to our seats. My dining companions were Kelly, HC, Brooke, Nastassia, Sonja, Christina, Joy and Angela. I have to say, we had a pretty fabulous table :)

Chef Cooking at Outstanding in the Field

Pickled Vegtables

Mushroom Dashi, Maitake, Shimeji, Enoki Mushrooms

Dinner was quite the impressive affair with many, many courses as I have known and come to love about Foodbuzz dinners. For me, the highlights were the crispy mushrooms on top of the risotto, and the ROCKIN' brussels sprouts with bonito flakes, guanciale, and FRIED GARLIC! I also may have eaten one (or five thousand) shrimp chips. I didn't try the dessert, but from what I hear, I didn't miss much. I had great conversations with all of the people around me including thoughtful discussion about asparagus pee, and I learned that when HC comes back from the bathroom and asks you to smell his finger, you do it because it could smell like rose and chamomile...aka more swag (bubble bath) for the trip home.

Mushroom Risotto with Koshinikari Rice, Crispy Maitake Mushrooms

Udon, Grilled Monterey Calamari in a Browned Butter Ponzu Reduction, Cucumber, Kaiware, Frisee & Yellow Pear Tomato with Chojang & Sesame Vinaigrette

Sea Trout Baked with Dashikombu, Fried Garlic and Japanese Curry Powder

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Ponzu Fried Garlic, Guanciale, Bonito Flakes

Soy Braised Beef Cheeks and Oxtails, Baby Carrots and Fingerling Potatos, OB Beer and Dejang Demi

After the Foodbuzz Blogger Awards, we headed back to the bar at Hotel Vitale. I was thrilled to spend more time chatting with Jenn. I also got to meet Denise and Lenny of Chez Us, Peter and Christey of Fotocuisine, Mark of No Recipes and Peter of Souvlaki for the Soul. It was a great evening and everyone was awesome. A little too much wine later, we stumbled back to our hotel to get pack and get some sleep.

Sunday morning was a brunch sponsored by Nature's Pride bread. Besides the thick cuts of bacon, my favorite food item was the croque monsieur which was slathered with a truffle mustard. That mustard...I am still dreaming about it. Unfortunately, with my hangover, I wasn't able to consume much else, but I did manage a few bites of the salad with the incredible pears from Frog Hollow Farm. Too soon it was quick goodbyes and then a BART ride back to SFO. Overall, I had a really fantastic weekend. I came back with a hangover, a few extra pounds, and wonderful memories!! I can't wait until next year!

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Foodbuzz Blogger Festival: Day 2 Morning and Afternoon

>I Heart Foodbuzz

After feeling sufficiently rested, Joy and I met up with Sonja, Gaby, and Rachael to head over to the Ferry Building. Upstairs there were a few pastries and coffee set out before Pim’s book signing. I finally got to meet Kelly of Sass and Veracity as well!! We decided to forgo the pastries and head downstairs to explore the market. There are so many great places in the Ferry Building, but we were all focused on Miette. After some deliberation I decided on a Scharffen Berger chocolate cake covered in two layers of chocolate ganache. To be on the safe side, I washed it down with a rose geranium macaron. It was honestly one of the best breakfasts I have had in a long time! Our little group also managed to consume a brownie, chocolate pot de crème, caramel pot de crème, and a lemon tart. Pretty impressive, huh?



Macarons at Miette

Scharffen Berger Cake at Miette

We also got to wander around the market and try many samples including the cutest little apples I have ever seen. Being from California, I know the produce we have at this time of year is amazing so it was funny to see how excited people from outside of the state got when they saw things like strawberries in November and persimmons.

Wickson Apples

Giant Fuyu Persimmons

Hibiscus Iced Tea

After many samples, I washed everything down with a hibiscus iced tea which was very refreshing. Since I didn’t get in to the Cowgirl Creamery tasting, I made my way back to Vitale for the farm to table discussion headed by Chef Paul Arenstam of the Americano Restaurant and Bar at the Hotel Vitale and [blah hat guy] who is the General Manager at Hearst Ranch. I actually thought the discussion would be about all aspects of farming, but the focus in this discussion was about grassfed beef. Since I already use local and grassfed beef exclusively this discussion wasn’t anything new for me, but I am sure other people learned a lot. One of the highlights was when we were offered a discount on Hearst Ranch’s cattle share program. All you need to do to redeem it is use the code “Foodbuzz” at checkout for a 30% discount. It’s a pricey program, so grab some friends and split the tab (and all that beef!!)

California Sparklers

After a quick cab ride, we found ourselves at the Metreon which was the site of the taste pavilion. We rushed upstairs only to be told we had to wait a while so they could finish setting up. Once they opened the gate, everyone rushed in. Having experienced an overwhelming taste pavilion last year at Slow Food Nation, I knew the best thing I could do was walk all the way to the back glancing at what everyone was offering and then make my way back to the front. I am so glad I started in the back!! I got to meet Zoe Francois and get a signed copy of her new book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Soon after the taste pavilion opened up, it was time for our tasting of California sparkling wines. Each glass was delicious in its own way, but my favorite (of course) was the most expensive. Just proves that Gaby and I are not cheap dates! Of course after that we were a little buzzed and we ate and drank a lot! Highlights for me were the pumpkin pie caramellos and passionfruit marshmallows (best marshmallows EVER) from BonBonBar, the chardonnay which didn’t even taste like a chardonnay from Bandit wine (in earth friendly packaging no less), and the beef hotdogs from [company]. I also met a few more people such as Shannon from Tri To Cook and Brooke of Foodwoolf. It was great to run into Krissy and Daniel from The Food Addicts. We stayed long enough at the taste pavilion to grab some more swag. My arms were sore from carrying so much stuff!! The rest of my Foodbuzz Festival adventures coming tomorrow!

Nastassia and Christina

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Foodbuzz Festival: Day 1

When I landed in SFO, I headed straight to the Galleria Park and then to Hotel Vitale which was the location of the cocktail reception. Unfortunately I arrived just as the reception was ending, so after registering quickly, I ran over to the Ferry Building for dinner. Luckily, I brought my appetite. After a quick introduction to Sonja of Active Foodie, Rachael of La Fuji Mama, Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking, and my roommate Joy of Gourmeted, I decided I needed to get some food in me stat. Luckily, there was plenty to choose from.

Porchetta Sandwich

Pizza Politana

A long line was beginning to form at the Roli Roti truck whose porchetta sandwiches were getting rave reviews from everyone around. I believe it was Gaby who described the sandwich as “life changing”. This may seem dramatic to some, but honestly it was not an exaggeration. This was the best sandwich I think I had ever eaten and so worth the wait. The pork belly and loin with crispy skin added a great flavor and texture. I now wish I would have picked up one of their shirts that said “I heart crispy skin”. The rosemary potatoes on the side were really good as well and this is coming from someone who doesn’t really like potatoes. Even though I didn’t want to stop eating the sandwich, I knew there was a lot more food to try and I didn’t want to fill up too quickly. I grazed a bit at the chicharrones, and set off on my next food mission.

Basil Cockails

In all honesty, it was a bit overwhelming to me since I was looking for food, people, and trying to take pictures all at the same time. I was so happy to finally meet people I have connected with via the blog and Twitter. Kelly of Evil Shenanigans, Olga of Mango Tomato and her identical twin Anna, Nastassia of Let Me Eat Cake, Christina of Hot Pink Manolos, Cathy of Gastronomy Blog, and Angela of Spinach Tiger. I also ran into some old favorites including The Duo Dishes and Greg of Sippity Sup. The food highlights besides that amazing pork sandwich were the steak and gruyere pies from The Pie Truck (seriously fantastic steak and gruyere mixture in a flaky buttery crust…you can’t go wrong with that) and freshly shucked Oysters from Hog Island Oyster Co. I am pretty sure I had never had freshly shucked oysters before and in about the span of a minute, I ate five in a row!

Hog Island Oyster Co.

After I was completely satisfied, I headed back to the hotel to get some rest and gear up for the next day of eating and drinking. More on that tomorrow…

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rye-Crusted Pork Medallions

Rye-Crusted Pork Medallions

After the patty melts last week, I had a ton of leftover rye bread. I had just opened up copy of Everyday Food and turned to the fall section. I was actually looking for something to do with the pork loin I had just purchased and I was so happy that this recipe allowed me to kill two birds with one stone. I did these in my stainless steel skillet so I had a little problem with sticking, but overall I really enjoyed these. The onion rye I used had a great depth. Next time, I would slice these a little thinner, but otherwise I wouldn't change a thing.

So it is taking me a while to go through all my pictures from the Foodbuzz Festival this past weekend. As expected, I had a phenomenal time and met a bunch of wonderful people. I think I have just about recovered from the food coma and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences at some point this week!

Rye-Crusted Pork Medallions

Rye-Crusted Pork Medallions
(Adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast)

Makes 2 servings

2 slices rye bread, roughly chopped
Coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 egg
3/4 pound boneless, center cut pork loin, sliced into medallions 1/2-inch thcik
1 tablespoon canola oil

In a food processor, pulse the bread to measure 1 cup of coarse crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, whisk the egg with 1 teaspoon water.

Season the pork on both sides with salt and pepper. Dip each medallion in the egg mixture with one hand, then use the other hand to dredge in breadcrumbs. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the medallions in the skillet; cook until the pork is golden brown and the center is no longer pink. Serve warm.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Garlic Basil Shrimp

Garlic Basil Shrimp

I used to spend most of Saturday morning and afternoon watching Food Network shows and getting ideas. Unfortunately, the range of hosts on that channel is barely tolerable so I find myself tuning in less and less. Sometimes though, I still like to catch up on repeat episodes of Ellie Krieger's show. I find her personality to be a little dry and boring, but her recipes are very good and she is certainly not as annoying as some of the current "talent" on the network. In a repeat episode, I saw this recipe and immediately set out to make it. The tomatoes are definitely dwindling at the farmers market, but a small basket of organic cherry tomatoes was a pretty good bargain as was a little bundle of basil. I had all the rest except for the wine. I briefly considered subbing chicken stock and lemon juice for the wine, but was happy to purchase an inexpensive bottle couple of days later. I suppose if you don't drink wine (the horror!), you can do the chicken stock/lemon juice sub. Served on top of my favorite harvest grains mix, this was a really simple meal. Unfortunately my coworkers don't like it so much when I have shrimpy leftovers for lunch, but whatever...they sure aren't complaining when I bring those baked goods in!

Garlic Basil Shrimp

I hope you all have a good weekend. I'm heading up to San Francisco for the Foodbuzz Festival and I could not be more excited. It's going to be a great weekend of eating and drinking. I'm sure I will have plenty to Twitter about and I promise to take lots of pictures and share stories when I return.

Garlic Basil Shrimp
(Adapted from Ellie Krieger)

Makes 2-3 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pounds large shrimp (20 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch dried hot red-pepper flakes, or more to taste
6 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.

Add garlic and red pepper flakes to the oil remaining in skillet and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add wine and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in basil and tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Return the shrimp to pan and cook just until heated through.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Apple Cider Cookies/Muffin Tops

Apple Cider Cookie/Muffin Top

So I know some people only share their recipe triumphs on their blogs, but honestly some of my fails have been really awesome triumphs. Take these doughnut/cookie/muffin tops for example. I have been really hesitant about apple cider doughnuts because of the frying factor. Now that I live in a small studio, the thought of frying things and having the place stink for days is off-putting so I have been wanting to try cider doughnuts for a while, but in a way that I wouldn't have to mess up the place. I thought I had found the perfect recipe after finding Shannon's version of baked cider doughnuts, but I soon realized that with no doughnut pan and no yeast in the recipe, these would not be the apple-y puff pieces I had hoped and dreamed of. That said, these weren't bad. They were really great as soft cookies or nicely cooked muffin tops. Especially when mixed with the simple cinnamon sugar instead of bothering with a glaze. I still have plenty of cider left so if I find a good recipe for good baked cider douhnuts, I am totally willing to try it again. Any suggestions? Leave them in the comments!

Apple Cider Cookie/Muffin Tops
(Adapted from Tri to Cook)

For the apple puree:
1 apple, peeled and diced
3/4 cup apple cider

Dry ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple puree (from above)
1 ounce agave nectar
1 1/2 ounces apple cider
1 1/2 ounces greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil

For the topping:
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup powdered sugar
OR cinnamon-sugar mixture

Prepare the apple puree by simmering the diced apple and 3/4 cup cider over medium-low heat until broken down. Puree with immersion blender (or regular one). You should have 1/4 cup puree. If you have more than this, return to heat and simmer until reduced. Let cool. This can be made ahead, if you'd like.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheet lightly with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. To prepare the glaze: add 1 cup cider to small saucepan and simmer over med-low heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth and glossy adding more cider or powdered sugar as needed.

Combine the dry ingredients and whisk/stir well together in a small bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a medium bowl . Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined. Add the mixture by the tablespoon-full to the baking sheet leaving about an inch between the cookies. Bake 10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and turn onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Add cinnamon-sugar to plate. When cooled slightly, dip the cookies in glaze OR into cinnamon-sugar mix. Serve warm.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Patty Melts

Patty Melt

After the Albondigas, I had just a bit of beef leftover. I am by no means a vegetarian, but I noticed I have been eating a lot of vegetarian meals lately. This week I have turned into a complete carnivore! I remembered this recipe that I came across recently so instead of re-freezing the meat, I used it up in these simple sandwiches. I used to think I hated things like rye bread, but I picked up some onion rye at TJs and really enjoyed it with these sandwiches. You really can't go wrong with sweet onions and nutty cheese. I think next time I will make the patties a little flatter, but this is a really good meal after say, a night of drinking (just saying!). I think the only only thing that would make this sandwich better is some sort of spread. If you decide to try it, let me know what you come up with!

Patty Melt

Patty Melts
(From Serious Eats who adapted from Saveur)

Makes 2 sandwiches

8 ounces ground beef
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 slices rye bread
4 slices Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons Canola oil
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
Salt and black pepper

Divide the meat into two balls. Form each one into a 1/4-inch patty that is just slightly larger than the slices of bread. Season each patty generously with salt and pepper.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a small skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until browned, about 10 minutes or so. Set aside.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. When it's hot, add the burger patties. Cook for about 2 minutes per side. They should be well browned, but still slightly medium or medium-rare inside. Set aside.

Top two of the slices of bread each with some onions, a slice of cheese, cooked patty, another slice of cheese and finally a slice of bread. Slather each sandwich on top and bottom with the butter.

Wipe out the skillet. Then turn the heat to medium. Add the sandwiches. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes a side, or until the bread is golden browned and the cheese has melted.Slice in half diagonally and serve.
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Saffron Rice with Green Peas

Saffron Rice with Peas

Here is my accompaniment for the Albondigas I had over the weekend. This rice is so easy and pretty too. Of course after the fact, I saw Giada make a similar recipe with pancetta. I guess I'll have to try that next time. This rice was great with the meatballs, but I am looking forward to having it again with all kinds of meats and maybe even some kind of garbanzo bean mixture. This is easily made into a vegetarian dish by using vegetable stock or water in place of the chicken stock.

Saffron Rice with Peas
(Based on Jehan Can Cook)

Makes 2+ servings

1/2 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup rice
Pinch saffron strands
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup frozen green peas

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute. Add the rice and toast until lightly golden.

Carefully add the chicken stock and saffron. Bring to a boil, season with salt and pepper, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook on low for about 15 minutes. Add the peas and cook another 5 minutes until the peas are thawed and the rice is cooked through.

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Monday, November 2, 2009


Albondigas was everyone's weekend? I wish those two days lasted just a little bit longer. Even with the time change, I am all out of whack. So for me, this was the first year in quite a while that I had no plans for Halloween. That was mostly by choice as I just was not in the mood this year to battle the crowds and head out to West Hollywood's Carnaval. Instead, I ended up having a quiet night at home doing mass amounts of laundry and watching some of my favorite movies. I also found a bit of time to make a wonderful and simple dinner. Just last week I saw this recipe on Mary's site and I immediately bookmarked it to try soon. I had just picked up some grassfed beef at the farmers market and surprisingly, I had the rest of the ingredients at home already which made this even more appealing. The only change I would make to these next time is to use about half the amount of tomatoes. These meatballs were so flavorful and went really well with the saffron rice I will share with you tomorrow. The flavor in these is so outstanding, you would think they would have to cook all day, but this is one satisfying dish you can have ready in no time.


(From One Perfect Bite)

1/2 pound ground beef
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large tomatoes, chopped or 1 (28-oz.) can plum tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons red or white wine
2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
Pinch of sugar
Thyme or parsley for garnish (optional)

Place ground beef, green onions, garlic, Parmesan cheese, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Shape into 12 equal sized meatballs.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute meatballs, turning several times, until brown, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, wine, sugar and rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes until tomatoes are pulpy and meatballs cooked through. Sprinkle with thyme or parsley. Serve hot.

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