Author Archives: foodgal

My New Favorite Spaghetti Vongole

flavoring addition makes this clam pasta extra delicious.

A last-minute flavoring addition makes this clam pasta extra delicious.

 

There are times when I can be pretty predictable. Case in point? If spaghetti or linguini vongole is on a menu, it’s almost a sure bet that I will order it.

First off, I buck the trend in being an unabashed carb lover. Second, clam pasta is a little lighter than a meaty ragu. Third, there’s just something so appealing about a big bowl of tender clams tossed with toothsome noodles that get coated in all those sweet, briny juices.

I’ve made quite a few versions of it at home over the years. But my new favorite has to be the one I saw in the Wall Street Journal last summer. “Spaghetti Vongole” is by Chef Nina Compton of Compere Lapin in New Orleans. If you’re a “Top Chef” fan, you may remember her as a contestant on Season 11.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Leslie Pineda of Il Fornaio For A Cooking Demo

MacysIlFornaioWhen the newest Il Fornaio opened in November in Santa Clara, it made history in the company when it became the first of its 23 restaurants to debut with a female head chef at the helm.

Chef Leslie Pineda not only made the record books for this 30-year-old restaurant chain, but she sure can cook. You can see — and taste — for yourself when she joins me for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 6 p.m. Feb. 7.

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Digging Into Chinese Rice and Lamb Casserole

One-pot cooking, Chinese-style.

One-pot cooking, Chinese-style.

 

With the Year of the Rooster set to start cockadoodledoo-ing on Jan. 28, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m craving Chinese food even more so this week.

But what a great excuse to try a recipe from the new “China: The Cookbook” (Phaidon). The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, was written by Hong Kong-based culinary experts Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan.

chinacookbook

This door-stopper of a book is 720 pages. It contains recipes from the 33 regions and sub-regions of China, most of them surprisingly concise. That’s because this book is really about home-cooking. That’s why you won’t necessarily find Peking duck in here, but instead “Braised Duck with Won Tons” and “Duck with Mushrooms and Ham.” There’s all manner of congee recipes, too, including “Congee with Frog Legs.” And simple but more unusual desserts such as “Smoked Plum Soup.”

Leafing through this rather encyclopedic book, many recipes caught my eye, especially “Rice and Lamb Casserole” because it’s fairly effortless even on a weeknight. It also incorporates cumin, which really works well with lamb’s slight gaminess.

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A World of Coffee Through Atlas

Rwanda beans from Atlas Coffee Club.

Rwanda beans from Atlas Coffee Club.

 

Atlas Coffee Club wants to navigate your taste buds along a global journey through coffee.

The coffee club procures coffee beans from around various countries, and not just the usual suspects, but places like Indonesia and Burundi.

About 50 percent of the offerings are fair-trade certified. All of the coffee is grown with sustainable farming practices. The coffee is shipped right after it is roasted. A 12-ounce bag of coffee ($14, plus $3.95 in shipping costs) is delivered every two weeks or four weeks, each time from a different country. You can also choose whole beans or ground coffee, and how light or dark you want the beans roasted. And if you find a variety of beans you can’t get enough of, you can opt to have that type sent to you regularly.

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Delicious Tacos At — Yes — Tacolicious

A trio of Tacos at Tacolicious Santana Row.

A trio of Tacos at Tacolicious Santana Row.

 

The newest Tacolicious took the longest to build.

Two years of lease negotiations and permit approvals to be exact.

Owner Joe Hargrave said at times he wasn’t sure it would ever open. But thankfully, it did, joining four others in the Tacolicious mini empire when it debuted last year at San Jose’ Santana Row.

It’s a sliver of a restaurant, once housing an Italian coffee shop. A bar with seats and a narrow kitchen take up most of the space with a few compact tables inside. It’s already proving a popular spot, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest a few weeks ago. Even on a weeknight, every seat was taken, and about half a dozen folks outside were waiting to get in.

Chips and salsa are set down for you to nibble as you look over the compact menu. Of course, a beer or cocktail is just the ticket to go with that. If you’re a horchata fan like I am, try the house-made one stirred up with Siete Leguas Anejo tequila, chocolate bitters and a dash of nutmeg in the “Papa Noel” ($12). There’s a hint of citrus from the nutmeg and an almost coffee-note thanks to the chocolate bitters. It’s creamy with a kick — just what you want on a winter night.

Chips and salsa to start.

Chips and salsa to start.

Along with a cocktail blended with house-made horchata.

Along with a cocktail blended with house-made horchata.

Of course, one must have tacos at Tacolicious.  My husband and I shared four ($17.95): chicken en mole Colorado, Baja-style Pacific cod, Guajillo-braised beef brisket, and the “Taco of the Week” — crispy fried chicken.

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