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.
Not your standard chicken.
You may know heritage turkeys as a gourmet splurge for Thanksgiving.
Now, get to know heritage chicken.
Yes, all the delicious attributes and admirable farm practices associated with a heritage turkey now can be found in chicken, too.
San Francisco-based Emmer & Co. is one company on a mission to make those specialty chickens more widely available.
Most chickens raised in the United States have been genetically modified for faster growth. Not so with Emmer & Co.’s. Their New Hampshire and Delaware chickens are certified standard bred by the American Poultry Association, the oldest agricultural organization in the country. They mate naturally, they live outside, and they grow to full market weight in 112 days compared to 42 days for industrialized supermarket chickens.
A sophisticated brownie with the intense taste of almonds.
Include a little Dorie Greenspan in your Christmas to ensure it’s a sweet one.
Greenspan is a baker extraordinaire who also happens to be great at savory cooking too. She can do it all, and it shows in her many cookbooks, Washington Post column, and her wonderful Everyday Dorie blog that’s followed by legions around the world.
Her newest cookbook, “Dorie’s Cookies” (Houghlin Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy, is a 518-page comprehensive cookie trove.
Cookie fans are sure to find something to love. Cookie Monsters like myself will be beside themselves trying not to make every single recipe at once.
There are bar cookies, drop cookies, butter cookies, and even savory cocktail cookies. I’ve bookmarked so many of the recipes, including “Princeton Gingersnaps,” “Devil’s Food Wafflets with Chocolate Sauce,” and “Triscuity Bites” (yes, savory cookies made with cream cheese and crumbled Triscuits).