My new addiction.
Ever since discovering the joys of butter mochi in Hawaii a few years ago, I’ve been on a mochi kick.
I can’t get enough of the chewy, bouncy texture that sweet rice flour gives to baked goods.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to take a plane across the Pacific — only a drive to the East Bay to get my latest fix.
After hearing the praises of the mochi muffins made by Pastry Chef Sam Butarbutar, I finally had a chance to buy a few ($3.50 each) when I dropped by Catahoula Coffee Co. on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Read more
Are you already dreading your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier?
Learn how to keep to your promise without giving up flavor or satisfaction when I host a heart-healthy cooking demo with Chef Pamela Keith in partnership with the American Heart Association’s Silicon Valley Chapter, 2 p.m. Jan. 14 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.
Keith is a classically trained chef who was culinary director of Draeger’s and helped Williams-Sonoma develop its cooking classes. She is now the owner of Burlingame’s CuisineStyle by Pamela Keith, a culinary event company that offers catering, as well as cooking parties and team-building classes. She is also the owner of the inviting Taylor’s Bay Cafe in Burlingame, named for her daughter.
Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce — with my addition of crisp pancetta bits.
I typically favor made-from-scratch, but I am not above taking the easy way out at times.
Especially when it comes to jarred pasta sauces.
After all, they are so very handy to stock in your pantry, and they take well to doctoring with fresh herbs, sausage, veggies, and more.
San Francisco Dave’s Gourmet, which makes some especially good ones, was founded by Dave Hirschkop. After starting a successful taqueria in Maryland known as Burrito Madness, he created Insanity Hot Sauce as a way to subdue inebriated patrons. But it ended up being so popular that even perfectly sober diners became fans. How hot is the sauce? Apparently so explosive that his sauce was banned from the National Fiery Food Show.
His award-winning pasta sauces are tamer, but no less delicious. They come in seven varieties, including Creamy Parmesan Romano, and Organic Roasted Garlic & Sweet Basil. They are gluten-free and almost all of them are organic. A 25.5 ounce jar is $8.99. Find them at retailers such as Whole Foods, Sprouts and Costco.
The two Dave’s Gourmet sauces you can win.
I had a chance to try samples of two of them recently: Wild Mushroom, and All Natural Butternut Squash.
Despite wrestling with a shortage of cooks, skyrocketing rents, rising business costs, and ever increasing competition, restaurants in the Bay Area and elsewhere did themselves proud this year, turning out food that was delightful, delicious, and unforgettable.
What dishes do I still dream about long after taking the last bite?
Here are my Top 10 eats of the year, in no particular order, of which I’d gladly have seconds, even thirds, if I could.
Make an impression in the new year with this whole, tea-smoked duck.
New Year’s Eve automatically means Champagne.
Caviar, perhaps. Lots of hors d’oeuvres. Even Dungeness crab or lobster.
Why not add duck to that glam list?
There is something special and regal about presenting a whole duck, especially one that is smoked with fragrant black tea, coated in five spice, and served alongside souped-up sweet-tangy hoisin sauce.
Little pillowy steamed buns filled with morsels of the moist duck would turn this into festive finger-food. Or carve at the table, and serve alongside steamed rice or garlic noodles.