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Tartine Bakery’s Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies

Wednesday, 19. March 2014 5:26

Dark chocolate, rye and salt combine to make these fudgey cookies.

Dark chocolate, rye and salt combine to make these fudgey cookies.

There’s a reason why this “Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies” recipe is one of the most publicized ones from the new “Tartine Book No. 3.”

First, it’s one of the simplest recipes from the book (Chronicle) by Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery, of which I received a review copy. If you’re familiar with Robertson’s other two books, “Tartine” (written with wife, Elisabeth M. Prueitt) and “Tartine Bread”,” you know how painstaking his recipes can be, particularly the bread ones. “Tartine Book No. 3” is no exception, especially because it’s all about baking with whole grains such as flax, spelt and kamut. The master method for Tartine loaves spans eight pages alone. Even the fruit scone recipe requires the making of a leaven (or starter).

Second, these cookies are a guaranteed hit. They are extremely fudgey and chocolatey tasting with the perfect sophisticated crunch of sea salt over the top.

I had one more reason for tackling these cookies: the bag of rye flour taking up space in my freezer that was left over from making Nancy Silverton’s amazing pizza dough recipe.

The rye flour replaces whole-wheat in these cookies. Rye contains gluten. It also lends a slight malt taste to baked goods. With chocolate, it’s a natural.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Chocolate, Favorite Cookie Recipes | Comments (10) | Author:

Cutting the Mustard with Tracklements on St. Patrick’s Day

Monday, 17. March 2014 5:26

Tracklements Beer Mustard livens up any sandwich.

Tracklements Beer Mustard livens up any sandwich.


As you sit down to a big plate of corned beef and cabbage on this St. Patrick’s Day, don’t be stingy with the mustard.

After all, tender boiled meat and veggies just cry out for a smear of sharp mustard for a little more oomph.

Tracklements English mustards gives you several to choose from, too. The United Kingdom company is named for the arcane British word for condiments. The family-owned business started in 1970 and makes use of the organic mustard plants that grow in abundance on farmland just two miles from its factory.

Now, you can find the British import at Whole Foods, Andronico’s, Draeger’s, New Leaf Markets, Mollie Stone’s, and Lundardi’s.

Recently, I had a chance to try samples of its Wholegrain, Beer, Horseradish and Balsamic mustards.

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Category:General, New Products | Comments (4) | Author:

Get Smitten With Smitten Ice Cream in Los Altos

Friday, 14. March 2014 5:25

Fresh Mint Chip made in seconds at Smitten Ice Cream.

Fresh Mint Chip made in seconds at Smitten Ice Cream.


If you haven’t yet heard, another delicious taste of San Francisco has made its way down to the Peninsula.

That would be Smitten Ice Cream, which opened its first location outside of San Francisco in late December 2013 in the Whole Foods in Los Altos.

Four years ago founder Robyn Sue Fisher gave up a life as a biotech consultant with a Stanford MBA no less to push a Radio Flyer wagon around the streets of San Francisco, pedaling her unique ice cream.

What makes it so unusual? It’s created to order right in front of your eyes in a patented machine using liquid nitrogen. The inert gas freezes the cream mixture in a flash at a super low temperature, resulting in smaller ice crystals, and therefore a smoother ice cream.

Smitten Ice Cream became such a sensation that Fisher opened an actual storefront, crafted out of an old shipping container, in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Now, there are plans to expand even more with a Rockridge location in the works.

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Category:Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Great Finds, Restaurants | Comments (7) | Author:

A Pork Cheeks Pig-Out

Wednesday, 12. March 2014 5:27

A.O.C's pork cheeks -- made in the comfort of your own home.

A.O.C’s pork cheeks — made in the comfort of your own home.

I’m not going to lie: This recipe takes a commitment.

To spend many hours cooking. To be willing to use a load of pots and pans, as well as multiple burners plus the oven. And to go the extra step of actually sourcing some pork cheeks in the first place.

If you do all that, though, you will be richly rewarded. Not only with a comforting dish boasting layer upon layer of flavors. But with the pleasure of enjoying a unique cut of pork, which when braised patiently, results in meat so succulent, sweet and tender that it can be eaten with a spoon.

“Pork Cheeks with Polenta, Mustard Cream and Horseradish Gremolata” is from the new “The A.O.C. Cookbook” Alfred A. Knopf), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Suzanne Goin, chef-owner of Lucques and A.O.C. restaurants in Los Angeles. Lucques is all about sharing food and wine with friends at the table over small plates and family-style dishes.

If you already have cooked from Goin’s first cookbook, “Sunday Suppers at Lucques” (Knopf), you know her recipes are lengthy because of the meticulous directions she gives. As a result, you approach the book knowing that if you take the time, you can’t fail because she’s described the dish step by step with utmost care.

AOC Cookbook

After falling head over heels with beef cheeks when I cooked them recently, I couldn’t help but zero in on her recipe for pork cheeks. Of course, there was that pesky question of how to get my hands on those piggy cheeks. John Paul Khoury, corporate chef of Preferred Meats, Inc. in Oakland, became my go-to source. After having read my blog post on beef cheeks, he said I absolutely positively had to try cooking pork cheeks next.

So Preferred Meats, which sells wholesale to top Bay Area restaurants, including SPQR in San Francisco and Hopscotch in Oakland, offered to sell me pork cheeks at an unbelievable wholesale price. Not just any pork cheeks, either, but ones from heritage-breed Durocs from the Beeler family’s ranch, which has been raising pigs for five generations in Iowa.

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Category:Chefs, General, Meat, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (14) | Author:

A Preview of Pabu in San Francisco

Monday, 10. March 2014 5:26

The first course in the kaiseki Pabu preview dinner.

The first course in the kaiseki Pabu preview dinner.


Pabu, the much-anticipated collaboration between chefs Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga, isn’t even expected to open until at least June of this year in San Francisco’s Financial District.

But last Wednesday, in an effort to build a little more buzz around the new project — as if it needs any more — Mina held a preview dinner at his Michael Mina restaurant in San Francisco, effectively turning over his flagship for one night to Tominaga to serve a kaiseki dinner showcasing dishes that will be on the menu at Pabu.

The dinner, $130 per person with optional $65 beverage pairing, sold out quickly. I was fortunate to be invited as a guest of the restaurant to experience the special menu.

This will be the second Pabu by Mina and Tominaga, chef-owner of the acclaimed Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park, a favorite haunt of Bay Area chefs in need of a stellar sushi fix.

Chefs Michael Mina (left) and Ken Tominaga (right).

Chefs Michael Mina (left) and Ken Tominaga (right).

The first Pabu is in the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore. Like that one, the Pabu that will open in the LEED-certified 101 California building will serve contemporary izakaya food, and feature a sushi bar and robata grill. Unlike the Baltimore locale, though, it will also include shabu shabu. What’s more, there will be a separate concept, Ramen Market, which not only will spotlight those brothy noodle bowls, but Japanese breakfast favorites. The glass atrium and outdoor spaces also will allow Mina and Tominaga to build a vegetable and herb garden to grow products for use in the restaurants.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (3) | Author: