ACME Bread Company is one of my favorites, which is located at the Ferry Building at the Port of San Francisco...This past Saturday, I was delighted to find ACME's version of a traditional Etruscan flatbread with grapes that is made in Tuscany during the grape wine harvest.
It was *exquisite*. The bread had a crisp newly-baked texture on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. juicy green and purple grapes had been cooked down to make little syrupy pools of yumminess (although the green grapes had seeds, which was disappointing). carmelized onions and toasted walnuts.
I'm really sad it was only a seasonal special....
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
After more than 7 years of living on a student budget (read: living off of loans), I have learned some tricks on how to eat cheaply--and continue to eat well. I compiled a list of some things that have worked for me, but note that they may not work for everyone because it is based on my food preferences and available stores and markets...
1. A quick note on where I shop:
COSTCO: there are some *goooood* deals at Costco if you can avoid all the impulse purchases.
WHOLE FOODS: some items are surprisingly cheap. and some are worth the expense. best selection. best quality.
TRADER JOE'S: words cannot adequately express my love for Trader Joe's and their creative and inexpensive products.
FARMERS MARKETS: I buy all produce fresh and local. its inexpensive and what I buy mirrors what is in season.
SPECIALTY STORES: there are many ethic grocers out there who carry amazing authentic items (often imported).
2. One "food adventure" of mine is that I regularly purchase one unfamiliar ingredient or item that I have no clue what to do with and then I go find out how to use it and what I can make with it by looking online, asking friends, reading books, or even asking someone who works at the grocer where I bought the strange item. try it! (my last purchase was pomegrante molasses, which is common in middle eastern food...more to come on what I did with it later...)
3. Bread goes stale quickly. I freeze sections of bread for when I am unable to get fresh bread.
4. I eat about 90% vegetarian so i dont spend money on meat. you'd be shocked at how much $$$ you save. vegetables are cheap. and delicious.
5. I avoid buying produce in commercial supermarkets because it is usually more expensive with lesser quality. find your local farmers market!!
6. Rice. Especially if you can buy it in bulk at an asian grocery. Everyone in Hawaii uses Calrose rice so the supermarkets carry 20-pound bags that often sell for less than $5.00.
7. Try making your own stock and then freezing it rather than buying canned stock (dont forget to label how many cups you made and leave room in air-tight container for liquid to expand!). Boullion cubes are okay too (but many fancy restaurant chefs would cringe at the thought of that...and if you dont think you can tell the difference, try making risotto...).
8. I do not drink soda. Instead I drink 100% juice or I make iced tea. Tea is ridiculously inexpensive and, because I am a tea fanatic, I usually have about 40 different flavors on hand...
9. I purchase non-refrigerated Organic soymilk from Costco--12 cartons last a long time and it works out to be around 80 cents each box.
10. Lentils and split peas. it is easy to see how many cultures consider lentil a staple food. It is cheap, has a very long shelf life and you can make lots of things with them (even if all you have around is an onion and spices).
11. Oatmeal is the cheapest food I can think of (and healthy)--a big container lasts months...i eat oatmeal with flax, wheat germ, walnuts and a spoonful of 100% raw, organic almond butter.
12. Make sure you have good tupperware to save leftovers...Leftovers are good for lunch, snacks, or another meal!
I hope you find some of these tips helpful...A big part of eating cheaply is being creative--I often have small amounts of little leftovers in my fridge and I think of ways to put things together (example: see recipe for Edamame and Warm Tofu Salad). I constantly take note of what is in my fridge and what will spoil first and go from there!
I am new to this food blog stuff...Until recently, i had no idea about the existing world of food blogs--that there are hundreds and hundreds of them out there--that there are Food Blog Awards!! It's daunting....but when I start to feel like its all been done before, i just remember that this blog is about what happens in my kitchen and the best chefs are ones who learn from others and then add their own personality and twist...and hopefully, that mindset will encourage to cook more too!
...Simply Recipes (see Foodie Website list) is one such award-winning food blog that has a very good link list of Food Blogs Around The World.
my two favorite things: food and travel! yessssssss!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Seven Daughters is my latest favorite wine, which is actually a winemaker's blend made in California:
33 % Chardonnay
20 % Riesling
20 % Symphony (whatever that is...)
18 % Muscat
5 % Gewurtztraminer
4 % Sauvignon Blanc
I am a *huge* fan of Riesling, Muscat, and Gewurtztraminer. So I guess it's obvious that I have a sweet tooth...this blend is perfect for a hot sunny afternoon...
Note: excellent with strawberries or paired with a fruit and cheese plate.
at 3:11 PM
Sunday, October 21, 2007
This is a very healthy and delicious salad that has various textures and flavors...Any dressing of choice can be used--I used Briannas GINGER MANDARIN to complement the flavors of the salad.
* spring mix
* tomatoes, sliced
* sprouts (of any kind)
* edamame, shelled
* firm tofu (stir fry with a marinade of choice--I used Trader Ming's Soyaki, which may be my favorite TJ's product)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
My mother is half Chinese and half Portuguese...she advocates cooking anything and everything in a wok. Watching her cook is what lead to me stir-frying all sorts of vegetables with various sauces--each stir-fry comes out differently because I make sauces from scratch and usually without a recipe (and then I subsequently wish I had measured everything out beforehand so that I could replicate it)...but here is an excellent recipe for one of my favorite side dishes!
* 1 pound green beans (wash them and cut the tips on both ends)
* 1 Tbsp. butter
* 2 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1 tsp. minced garlic
* 1 tsp. soy sauce
* 1/4 cup slivered almonds
* salt & pepper (to taste)
* Blanch (flash boil) the green beans and drain (blanching vegetables preserves texture, color and flavor).
* In a wok or skillet, heat butter, oil, garlice and soy sauce.
* Stir fry the green beans until tender (but be careful not to overcook!)
* Add salt, pepper and almonds and mix.
Discovering Brummel & Brown's yogurt butter changed everything. The taste is so unique and yummy that I promptly proceeded to get everyone I know hooked on it. I put yogurt butter on everything: breads, muffins, oatmeal, rice, vegetables, sandwiches....
it truly improves the quality of my life.
go get some. the end.
Monday, October 15, 2007
I just had a very interesting grocery store conversation about flour. I never used to pay attention to what my mom purchased, and i eventually started purchasing wheat flour once I was old enough to be more conscious and concerned over what I was putting into my body and started hoarding healthier wheat-whole grain-oat-and-bran items...
That said, flour is a basic ingredient and, as it turns out, there is a difference between bleached and unbleached flour. Flour is bleached to improve shelf life and aesthetics so consumers dont freak out by seeing yellowish/brownish flour when they are expecting snow white powder. um...it's made from WHEAT (ie: there is nothing remotely white about wheat...). Flour is commercially bleached with chemicals such as chlorine dioxide or benzoyl peroxide. Now, i am no chemist, but I do know that chlorine is used in swimming pools and that benzoyl peroxide is used in acne creams. That CANT be good for human consumption...
If I have somehow captivated even a small amount of your attention, here is an interesting blurb:
"Most cylinder and hammer mills are used to transform whole nutritious grains into nutritionally devoid white flour. In the milling process, the bran and germ layers of the grains are stripped away, leaving only the white, pulpy interior kernel, or endosperm. When whole wheat is milled into white flour, 83 percent of the nutrients are removed, with mostly starch remaining. The fiber is gone, and the Vitamin E content is reduced, along with twenty-one other nutrients. The flour that is produced is so useless as a food that it must be fortified with synthetically manufactured thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, as well as iron. Thirty-five of the fifty U.S. states require that white flour must be thus 'enriched' to be sold.
In addition to nutritional abuse and synthetic vitamin fortification, flour often suffers further adulteration with chemicals used to age, bleach, whiten, and preserve the product. Chlorine dioxide, an irritant to both the skin and respiratory tract, is used to bleach flour. Benzoyl peroxide, another bleaching agent, is also a skin irritant. Other additives include methyl bromide, nitrogen trichloride, alum, chalk, nitrogen peroxide, and ammonium carbonate."
--The Littleton Grist Mill
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Puff pastry dough is a kitchen miracle. You could wrap just about anything up in puff pastry and it will undoubtedly be delicious...and impressive!
Note: this dish requires an oven-proof frying pan.
* 3 or 4 ripe pears, peeled
* 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter (i like to use sweet cream butter)
* 1/4 cup sugar ( white or brown sugar)
* 1/4 tsp cinnamon
* 1 Tbsp. brandy (optional)
* 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted
* 1 egg, beaten
* Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
* Place the rim of your metal pan over the puff pastry and cut the dough to fit its circular shape.
* Halve the pears lengthwise, remove seeds and slice into wedge shapes.
* Melt butter in frying pan on medium-high heat.
* Stir in the brandy, sugar and cinnamon.
* Arrange pear slices on the bottom (try not to overlap them too much).
* Cook the pears for about 10-15 minutes, or until the pears have carmelized and the sugar becomes dark and syrupy.
* Take pan off the heat and place the puff pastry sheet over the pears, tucking the edges down the sides.
* Make a few small holes in the center using a fork or a knife.
* Brush the surface with the beaten egg.
* Then place the whole pan in oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.
* Allow the pan to cool on a flat surface.
* When cool, put a plate over the pan and then flip the pan upside down so that the pastry is on the bottom.
I like to serve this dish with a good, quality Vanilla Bean ice cream...
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Australian sour cream is very different from American sour cream...It is half way between American sour cream and heavy whipping cream, so it is creamier with more liquid rather than the stiff texture of American sour cream...I used to purchase it regularly when I lived in Sydney...and these potatoes were an excellent side dish...
* baby potatoes (red or yellow; leave skin on)
* olive oil
* sea salt (or kosher salt)
* parsley (fresh or dried)
* sour cream (as desired)
* thoroughly wash the potatoes
* coat in olive oil
* sprinkle salt
* place in a baking tray
* roast at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes
* test: you should be able to fork through the potato and skin should be browned and crisp
* garnish with sour cream and parsley (to taste)
Morgan and I made this dish as an appetizer to go with black bean enchiladas. The polenta was floured, dipped in egg, rolled in cornmeal, and fried. The corn was sauteed with homemade cilantro oil and shallots (you can mix in some hominy for some chewy texture as well). The reserved cilantro puree from the oil process was spooned onto the tomato slices. When preparing this dish, be sure to wear a sombrero and a fake mustache. Me gusta.
This is a popular brunch item that all my friends and family seem to love...and I think quiches are really fun to make.
* 3 Tbsp. butter (melted)
* 1 onion, minced
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
* 1-2 thinly sliced mushrooms
* a few marinated artichoke hearts
* 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
* 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* 3/4 cups cheddar cheese
* 4 eggs, well beaten
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
* Over medium-low heat melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a large saucepan.
* Add onions, garlic and broccoli.
* Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft.
* Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese.
* Combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
* Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter in microwave.
* Stir melted butter into egg mixture.
* Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese.
* Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until center has set.
When I fly home from Maui, my carry-on bags are filled with foods (usually frozen) that I cannot easily get on "the mainland" and then I can indulge in these foods for the next day or so till I have eaten all of my supply...
my "happy meal":
Moloka'i purple sweet potato, poke, manapua, boiled peanuts, and poi.......
I purchased this product at a grocery store in Thailand, but it is made by Nestle so I have been looking for it in the United States...It is individual servings of Thai Iced Tea--you just add water...It is the best brand that I have tried. and i desperately want to find more...
The Waterfront is one of my favorite places to eat when I am home on Maui...I *love* dishes that are prepared "tableside" at a restaurant and this place makes a Caesar salad from scratch right in front of your table: crisp romaine lettuce tossed with virgin olive oil, anchovies, crushed garlic, dijon mustard, worcestershire, fresh lemon juice, grated parmesan cheese and a coddled egg finished with garlic-herbed croutons, prepared table side for two or more.
They give you a list of the fish that was caught that day and then you choose the preparation. I ordered Onaga (red snapper) prepared "En Bastille" style: imprisoned in ribbons of fresh angel hair potato then sautéed and topped with fresh scallions, mushrooms, and tomatoes then served with our meunière sauce (white wine, lemon juice, garlic, herbs, butter). It was one of the best fish dinners I have ever had...cooked to prefection with all the right flavors and textures...
Friday, October 12, 2007
i loooooove tomato season...you can find tomatoes in lots of different colors and for a decent price. I especially love "early girl" tomatoes, which are very red, sweet and juicy. but i am always excited when i can find ripe green tomatoes...
i eat tomatoes plain, with sea salt or drizzled with a quality olive oil...but sometimes i make something a little more fancy...
summer tomatoes topped with homemade pesto, slivered kalamata olive and drizzed with olive oil and basil strands...
Chowder is one of my favorite comfort foods...I like to serve it in a sourdough bread bowl that has been lightly toasted in the oven...garnish with paprika and parsley.
½ c. vegetable or chicken stock
2 T. butter
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large onion chopped
put butter in pot and add celery, gradually adding stock till reduced and avoid burning. Add onion half way through.
2 cups cream (single)
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
Add to celery/onion mixture
In separate pot, make a roux:
2 T butter
about ¼ c. flour (approx. 4 Tbsp.)
1 cup milk
melt butter, add flour and stir till a paste forms. then add milk slowly and stir till thick and creamy. add mixture to soup to thicken.
2-3 tsp parsley flakes (or fresh parsley, chopped)
1 can corn (i like to use fresh corn cut from the cob)
1 cup chopped potato
Add last ingredients. Keep soup on low heat and let thicken for up to an hour till thick and delicious! Add cooked lobster meat at last minute and stir. Let simmer for at least 10 minutes with lobster in it.
vegan: vegetable stock, plain soymilk and vegan margarine/butter equivalent or canola oil
seafood lovers: add chunks of cooked lobster meat, white fish or salmon
I have two basil plants in my apartment...so i eat a lot of basil and a LOT of caprese salads...
* fresh buffalo mozzarella
* vine ripened tomatoes ("early girl" tomatoes are my favorite if they are in season, usually around September)
* fresh basil leaves
* sea salt (to taste)
* balsamic vinegar (any vinegar made from Modena, Italy is a good bet as they make the most quality balsamics around...)
Basil oil is a perfect compliment to this salad and fairly easy to make. Blend 1 cup of basil leaves (packed tightly) with about 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil with salt and pepper (to taste). Then just strain out the solids using either a cheese cloth or a splatter guard (used for protection when frying). I place a bowl under the splatter guard and pour some of the liquid through the splatter guard and use a spoon to press out the basil solids and collect the green oil into the bowl. Note: flavored oils that you infuse yourself have a fairly short shelf life and it is best when stored in the refrigerator and used within 2-3 days wheras commercial infused oils will last much longer.