Join the Food Gal and the Chef of Zola for a Cooking Demo at Macy’s

MacysZola

Have you dined at the wonderful new Zola restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, which has been garnering rave reviews?

If not, you can get a taste of its comforting French-California cuisine when its chef-owner, Guillaume Bienaime, joins me for a cooking demo at 2 p.m. March 14 at Macy’s Valley Fair.

Bienaime opened Zola late last summer. After years of cooking at fine-dining restaurants, including Marche in Menlo Park, he wanted to create a more personal venue with food that spoke to his heritage and used the best local ingredients.

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A Lemon Tart For When You’re Feeling Lazy

You can be a bit of a lazy bone when making this tart. Just a little.

You can be a bit of a lazy bone when making this tart. Just a little.

 

Have you ever rolled a vacuum cleaner over and over and over a dust ball on the carpet, knowing full well if you just bent over to pick it up with your fingers, it would be a whole lot quicker?

Oh yeah, been there, done that. I bet you have, too.

“Lazy Mary’s Lemon Tart” is made for times like that — when you’re feeling lazy. But only a tad.

After all, you still have to put the tart together and bake it.

But it does have an ingenious step-saver when it comes to making the filling. It’s all blitzed in a blender. That includes an entire Meyer lemon. Yup, rind, seeds and all. The whole kit and caboodle.

The recipe appeared in Food & Wine magazine’s January 2015 issue. The recipe is by Mary Constant, a Food52 member and winemaker of Napa’s Constant Diamond Mountain Winery, who adapted the crust from the “The Joy of Cooking.”

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The Goods on Manresa Bread Bakery

A selection of Manresa Bread specialties: levain (back), kale scone (front left), and chocolate croissant (front right).

A selection of Manresa Bread specialties: levain (back), kale scone (front left), and chocolate croissant (front right).

 

The South Bay’s most anticipated bakery, Manresa Bread, finally opened a week ago, in downtown Los Gatos.

If you think that means bypassing those long, long lines at its stands at the Palo Alto and Campbell farmers markets on Sundays, guess again.

The queue may be shorter at the new bakery, just around the corner from Michelin two-starred Manresa restaurant, but there likely will be one no matter what time you go.

When I got there at 11 a.m. last Friday, there were already half a dozen people in front of me. And the baguettes were already gone.

If you think that was bad, on opening day on Feb. 21, the bakery sold out in just five hours.

Inside the bakery.

Inside the bakery.

All of that speaks to the quality of the artisan products being turned out by Manresa head baker Avery Ruzicka, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who also trained with master baker Ben Hershberger of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and Per Se restaurant.

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Hawker Fare Comes to San Francisco

Blistered green beans at Hawker Fare in San Francisco.

Blistered green beans at Hawker Fare in San Francisco.

 

With Chef Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok blazing a trail coast to coast, and San Francisco restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit acquiring ever growing praise for her Kin Khao, Thai is just about the hottest cuisine around right now.

Now comes James Syhabout, Oakland’s only Michelin-starred chef, to add his stamp with Hawker Fare in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Syhabout’s original Hawker Fare has been going strong in Oakland, along with his more ambitious Commis. But this outpost, which opened about a month ago, is his first foray across the bridge.

When I asked him if he felt he was competing with the other celebrated Thai restaurants that have come to the forefront lately, he replied, “I’m competing with myself. I’m cooking a lot of dishes that I’ve never made before, based on things my family cooked in Thailand.”

Colorful mats as wall art.

Colorful mats as wall art.

Posters set the mood.

Posters set the mood.

The dining room abuzz at night.

The dining room abuzz at night.

Recently, I had a chance to taste some of those dishes when I was invited to a media dinner.

The restaurant is done up as if you were eating at a night market in Thailand. Walls are decorated with bright-colored floor mats tables covered with slick oil-cloths printed with flowers and fruit, and the ceiling strung with strands of lights. All that’s missing is the humidity and the torrent of scooters.

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Lemon Marmalade — Not Just For Scones

Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.

Roast chicken gets the surprise flavor of lemon marmalade.

 

Almost every morning, I slather jam or marmalade on toast.

I’ve also used it time and again for filling batch after batch of thumbprint cookies.

And I’ve warmed it to brush on fruit tarts to give them a dazzling gloss.

But “Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade” (Andrews McMeel), of which I received a review copy, really opened my eyes to so many other ways you can use jam in everyday cooking. The book is by Rachel Saunders, founder of Blue Chair Fruit Company, a jam company that specializes in jams made from sustainable fruit grown in the Bay Area.

How about a vibrant beet soup made with red plum jam? Or prawn and squid paella made with nectarine jam? Or even tempeh stir-fried with mushrooms, bok choy and greengage jam?

You’ll find those recipes and other creative fare in these pages, along with recipes to make jam if you don’t want to just buy a ready-made jar from the market.

“My Roast Chicken” appealed to me because the whole bird is roasted with a lemon marmalade and fresh rosemary mixture slathered underneath its skin.

With a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in my backyard, I always end up with a steady supply of this fragrant citrus that’s a cross between a Eureka lemon and a tangerine. I use them to make pitchers of lemonade, all manner of baked goods, and Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade, a Bon Appetit magazine recipe that I’ve been making every winter.

My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.

My home-grown Meyer lemons, and homemade Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade.

I was curious as to whether the marmalade would make a real difference or if it would turn this chicken into dessert.

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