Author Archives: foodgal

The Publican’s Mussels in Sour Beer

Dinner in mere minutes: A big pot of mussels cooked in sour beer.

Dinner in mere minutes: A big pot of mussels cooked in sour beer.

 

Pucker up.

For sour beer, that is.

My husband may wince at this style of brew, much preferring a smooth Amber Ale instead.

But I can’t get enough of the specialty fermented beer that gets its characteristic tang from wild yeast strains or bacteria.

I love its bracing quality, especially paired with food, much like that of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in the wine world. Both wake up the taste buds with a brisk bite, acting like a natural-born palate cleanser.

Though I’ve cooked with various types of beer over the years, somehow it never dawned on me to try it with sour beer.

That is, until I spied the recipe for “Mussels in Sour Beer” in the new “Cheers to The Publican Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall” (Lorena Jones Books), of which I received a review copy.

PublicanCookbook

The book is by Chef-Owner Paul Kahan of The Publican in Chicago, a modern-day beer hall known for its huge communal wood tables, deep beer list, and rustic dishes flavored with gusto and served charmingly on mismatched plates.

The Publican is just one of eight establishments in Chicago by Kahan and the One Off Hospitality Group. The others include Avec, Blackbird, and the wholesale Publican Quality Bread. (His bread is fantastic, too, as I found out when he brought loaves to a recent holiday dinner at Acacia House in St. Helena where he cooked with Chef Chris Cosentino.)

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Starting the New Year Warmly with Pumpkin, Pancetta, and Arborio Rice Soup

Settle into 2018 with soothing home-made pumpkin soup and sage bread.

Settle into 2018 with soothing home-made pumpkin soup and sage bread.

 

Now that the decadent holiday feasts are over, you can’t help but long for something simpler, born of total ease and comfort.

Soup fits that bill like nothing else.

Portland, OR food writer Ivy Manning comes to the rescue with her clever “Easy Soups From Scratch with Quick Breads to Match” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

Sure, you could make a batch of soup and serve it with a purchased baguette. But why not up your game by pairing a soup perfectly with an accompanying bread that takes little time to make fresh at home?

EasySoups

That’s the premise of the book, which includes 70 recipes for soups and breads, which you can mix and match, though Manning gives a bread recommendation or two for each soup in case you find yourself overwhelmed by the choices.

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A Delectable Time At Donato & Co.

Chef Donato Scotti at his newest restaurant, Donato & Co.

Chef Donato Scotti at his newest restaurant, Donato & Co.

 

Chefs Donato Scotti and Gianluca Guglielmi have been fast friends for 18 years.

So much so that when the Vicenza, Italy-born Guglielmi, the former executive chef and vice president at A.G. Ferarri Foods, returned to Italy to open his own restaurant in 2010, Scotti persuaded him into returning to the Bay Area recently.

The lure?

Scotti’s new Berkeley restaurant, Donato & Co., which opened in October that Guglielmi now oversees. It is expected to be the first of several Bay Area concepts to come helmed by the duo.

If Donato & Co. is any indication of what’s to come, the future should be bright for Guglielmi and Scotti, who grew up in a small town near Bergamo, Italy, and now also owns Donato Enoteca in Redwood City and Cru wine bar in Redwood City.

What's an Italian restaurant without a Vespa, right?

What’s an Italian restaurant without a Vespa, right?

The 20-foot-long bar.

The 20-foot-long bar.

A few weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the spacious restaurant, with soaring ceilings, exposed brick columns, a 20-foot-long bar, and a vintage Vespa on display. It has the feel of a beloved neighborhood joint, one you feel right at home in from the get-go.

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What To Do With Leftover Holiday Buttermilk?

The method to make these biscuits is easy yet provide very distinctive results.

The method to make these biscuits is easy yet provide very distinctive results.

 

Hmm, pancakes? Salad dressing? Mashed potatoes?

How about “Cathead Biscuits”? Ones that are fluffy inside and have distinctive craggly crisp, buttery tops?

Yeah, now we’re talking.

After a run of holiday baking, I found myself with leftover buttermilk. I pulled a couple cookbooks from my shelf until I hit upon “Muffins & Biscuits” (Chronicle Books) by Heidi Gibson, co-owner of San Francisco’s The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.

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