Author Archives: foodgal

A Big Bad Breakfast for Mother’s Day

Fluffy, oat-fortified pancakes to greet the day.

Fluffy, oat-fortified pancakes to greet the day.

 

When I was growing up, my oldest brother and I would often wake up early on Sundays to stir up a big bowl of batter for waffles for the entire family.

Nowadays, with my husband’s predilection, it’s pancakes all the way.

Are you Team Waffle? Or Team Pancake?

It’s funny how most households seem to favor one or the other.

“Toasted Oatmeal Pancakes” might just satisfy both camps. That’s because of the toasted steel-cut oats that not only fortify the batter, but get sprinkled on as each pancake cooks, lending bits of crunch here and there like the edges of a waffle might.

The recipe is from “Big Bad Breakfast: The Most Important Book of the Day” (Ten Speed Press, 2016) by John Currence, the James Beard Award-winning chef who owns Big Bad Breakfast in Alabama. You might also know him from his appearances on “No Reservations,” “Mind of A Chef,” and “Top Chef Masters.”

BigBadBreakfastBook

Of course in this case, the operative word “bad” really means “good.” This is breakfast done boldly, with plenty of excess. Among Currence’s “Ten Commandments of Breakfast” is “Thou shalt slather with butter,” and “Though shalt hold no meal higher than breakfast.”

Read more

Dolce Delizioso — Loacker Wafer Cookies

Loacker's Classic Chocolate.

Loacker’s Classic Chocolate.

 

It’s not often that I eat mass-produced, grocery-store cookies, preferring instead to visit an honest-go-goodness neighborhood bakery for just-baked treats. But I do make exceptions for Australian Tim Tams, and French La Mere Poulard butter cookies.

I don’t know what it is about foreign packaged cookies, but they are pretty irresistible.

Now comes Loacker wafer cookies.

First created by the Loacker family in the Italian Alps, and now manufactured in Austria, these multi-layered cookies are now more readily available in the United States. They have been made for more than 90 years, and are already sold in more than 80 countries.

Read more

Behind the Scenes At Manresa Bread

Portioning levain dough at the Manresa Bread production site.

Portioning levain dough at the Manresa Bread production site.

 

Spoiler Alert: That flaky, golden croissant you can’t wait to dig into at Manresa Bread consists of 1 part dough to 3 parts butter.

Yeah, baby.

Maybe more than I wanted to know, too.

But at least I’ll own up to the fact that it still won’t stop me from nibbling on them any chance I get.

Which is exactly why I didn’t turn down an invitation to be part of a small group of media to visit Manresa Bread’s 3,400 square-foot production kitchen in Los Gatos last week.

The facility bakes the goods for both Manresa Bread retail locations in Los Gatos and Los Altos, as well as for Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, The Bywater restaurant in Los Gatos, and its stands at the Campbell and Palo Alto California Avenue farmers markets.

Rhubarb kouign-amanns.

Rhubarb kouign-amanns.

You smell the unmistakable aroma of yeast the moment you walk through the doors of the production kitchen. At a large wooden table, two bakers weigh and portion dough for the bakery’s crusty levain loaves.

Read more

Paula Wolfert’s “Unforgettable” Duck You Can Eat With A Spoon

With crisp skin and flesh so tender you can cut it with a spoon, this duck by Paula Wolfert is a masterpiece.

With crisp skin and flesh so tender you can cut it with a spoon, this duck by Paula Wolfert is a masterpiece.

 

She is not a star of the Food Network. She doesn’t own a four-star restaurant that has a three-month wait for reservations. And she doesn’t write pithy food articles laced with expletives and bro-talk that everyone feels the need to read, dissect, and re-post again and again.

But Paula Wolfert should be as revered and renowned as any of those folks. More so, even.

She is one of the most influential cooks of our time — a woman who has dived deep into authentic Mediterranean cuisine long before most of us ever knew what a cassoulet or tagine was.

Over the years, she published eight seminal cookbooks. But when her friend, Emily Kaiser Thelin, a former editor of Food & Wine magazine, pitched the idea of writing a biography of Wolfert, no publisher would give it the green light.

So in a modern-day version of a barn-raising, Thelin rallied her friends and colleagues to the mission, recruiting photographer Eric Wolfinger, designer Toni Tajima, and cookbook author Andrea Nguyen to do editing duties. They mounted a Kickstarter campaign, which more than 1,100 folks supported, including yours truly.

UnforgettableCookbook

The result is “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life” (M&P) by Thelin.

The title has dual meanings — and hints at why Thelin and her team were so driven to put Wolfert’s life and recipes down in perpetuity. Wolfert was diagnosed with dementia in 2013. The woman who once prided herself on studying up on almost a dozen languages in order to converse with cooks around the world, now finds most of those once familiar foreign phrases elusive. Even reading in English now and retaining its contents is difficult for her.

Read more

California’s Olive Queen Olive Oil

You might just feel like a queen when you taste the Olive Queen's extra virgin olive oils.

You might just feel like a queen when you taste the Olive Queen’s extra virgin olive oils.

 

California produces 3.5 million gallons of extra virgin olive oil annually from more than 400 growers/producers, according to the California Olive Oil Council.

Rob Akins and Mark Berry of Olive Queen Olive Oil in Forestville are among the smaller growers. But they make up for that in quality. The oils they produce are exceptional, as I found out when they sent me some samples to try.

Akins and Berry moved from Southern California to Sonoma County to buy an old, forlorn apple orchard, which they replanted with olive trees.

Read more

« Older Entries Recent Entries »