April Bloomfield’s “If-It-Ain’t-Broke Eggplant Caponata”

Eggplant, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and a whole lot of love.

Eggplant, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts and a whole lot of love.

 

She may be most know for her gutsy nose-to-tail cooking. But celebrated New York Chef April Bloomfield wants you to know she’s equally equipped with root-to-shoot flair.

Her first cookbook, “A Girl and Her Pig” (Ecco, 2012) may have been meat-centric. But her follow-up, “A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden” (Ecco), decidedly puts the emphasis smack dab on a cornucopia of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Bloomfield is the award-winning chef-owner of The Spotted Pig, The Breslin, and The John Dory Oyster Bar, all in New York, as well as Tosca Cafe in San Francisco. She was also the star of season 2 of “The Mind of A Chef.”

In her cookbook, of which I received a review copy, she offers up dishes that home-cooks can actually make. That includes delights such as “Asparagus Quiches with Mint,” “Roasted Young Onions with Sage Pesto,” and “Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Butterscotch.”

a girl and her greens

With stands at my local farmers market piled high with brilliant purple eggplants at this time of year, I was drawn to Bloomfield’s recipe for “If-It-Ain’t-Broke Eggplant Caponata.”

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A Taste of Korean Walnut Pastry

Discover Korean walnut pastries.

Discover Korean walnut pastries.

 

 

I am drawn to bakeries. What can I say?

So even after gorging one evening on fried chicken at Vons in Sunnyvale (a must-try for the “crispy” chicken, by the way), I still felt compelled to stop in at a bakery steps away in the same strip mall on El Camino Real.

What enticed me was Cocohodo’s sign: “Walnut Pastry.”

Walnut pastries? Korean ones? What could those possibly be?

Why, quite delicious, that’s what.

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Get Ready For A Feast Of Greens — And A Food Gal Giveaway

The makings for a tasty vinaigrette from Gift A Feast.

The makings for a tasty vinaigrette from Gift A Feast.

Perk up summer salads with a zesty vinaigrette of California olive oil, late harvest Viognier-honey vinegar and mustard made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

It’s easy to do so with Gift A Feast, a San Francisco company that sources local gourmet products, wraps them up in a pretty package, then ships nationwide with a hand-written note attached.

I had a chance to test out a sample of its “For A Feast of Greens” gift set ($54.95).

The lovely wrapped box holds a trio of goodies: a bottle of Rio Bravo Ranch Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil, made by a fifth-generation farming family near Bakerfield, using Ascolano, Picual and Coratina estate olives, which has a buttery finish and tomato leaf-aroma; Katz Late Harvest Viognier-Honey Vinegar that is sweet, fruity, tangy and has a hit of vanilla from being aged in wood barrels; and KL Keller Violet Mustard, which is the color of tapenade, has a coarse texture from mustard seeds, and possesses a deep red wine flavor from grape must (concentrated, unfermented juice).

Also enclosed with the gift box is a recipe card for a simple vinaigrette using those three ingredients. You just need to add sea salt to taste to have a fruity, piquant and tangy dressing perfect for any combination of crisp greens. Add a few slivers of fresh plums and some toasted or candied walnuts, and you have a winning salad as easy as that.

The wrapped box.

The wrapped box.

And what it holds inside.

And what it holds inside.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a free “For A Feast of Greens”  gift box. Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Aug. 29. Winner will be announced Aug. 31.

How to win?

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You’re In Good Hands At San Francisco’s Omakase

Chef Justin Yu behind the bar at Omakase.

Chef Justin Yu behind the bar at Omakase.

 

Chef Jackson Yu hails from Beijing. As such, he knows how to cook Chinese food. But he decided long ago to ply his skills in a much different cuisine: sushi.

“I like to do Japanese food,” he explains. “It’s more of an art.”

Indeed it is, especially at his two-month-old Omakase in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, not far from AT&T Park.

The restaurant’s name refers to the Japanese phrase “to entrust yourself to the chef,” meaning, just sit back and allow the chef to feed you whatever he/she deems is best that day.

At Omakase, you are definitely in fine hands when you do that, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently.

You enter into a small foyer. On the right is Origami Market (set to open this week). Just like Omakase, it’s owned by restaurateur Kash Feng, who started up Live Sushi Bar in San Francisco. It will feature more casual fare such as poke, steamed dumplings and noodle bowls — all highlighting local, organic and sustainable when possible.

Chef  Ingi Son preps fish just as the first diners sit down for the evening.

Chef Ingi Son preps fish just as the first diners sit down for the evening.

Chef Yu forming nigiri.

Chef Yu forming nigiri.

Adding a smoky touch before serving.

Adding a smoky touch before serving.

But you are there for Omakase, so you are are escorted to the sushi bar on the left side, which is all of 14 seats. Behind the bar is Yu, who trained in the Bay Area and in Ginza, Japan; along with two other sushi chefs, Ingi Son, who has worked in Japanese restaurants from New York to Las Vegas to Napa; and Yoshihito Yoshimoto, a native of Osaka with more than 37 years of restaurant experience.

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Munchery — A Game-Changer

Flintstone-sized pork shank with butter beans -- delivered to my door care of Munchery for all of $18.95.

Flintstone-sized pork shank with butter beans — delivered to my door care of Munchery for all of $18.95.

 

It’s not often that I review a product that so exceeds my expectations that my jaw just drops in awe.

But Munchery is that rare find.

Established in San Francisco in 2010, the meal-delivery service was started by two guys working in tech who found it a challenge to feed their young families well under today’s demanding time constraints.

They created Munchery as an answer to that. It’s now expanded to Seattle, Los Angeles and New York, and just raised $85 million in funding.

Unlike many other delivery services that either offer take-out from area restaurants or prepped food kits that you finish cooking at home, Munchery’s meals come complete and chilled. All you need do is heat in an oven or microwave to enjoy whenever you like.

The food comes neatly packaged in recyclable/compostable containers.

The food comes neatly packaged in recyclable/compostable containers.

The dishes are created and made by professional chefs, some of them quite well known, such as Bridget Batson, former executive chef of San Francisco’s Gitane and Hawthorne Lane; and Jeremy Goldfarb, former executive chef of 123 Bolinas in Fairfax.

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