Category Archives: Bakeries

Tahini — Going For A Sweet Spin

Tender, buttery shortbread made with tahini.

Tender, buttery shortbread made with tahini.

 

We use tahini liberally in hummus and salad dressings.

But why not take it for a spin in a sweet preparation?

After all, peanut butter swings both ways, in sweet and in savory dishes. With tahini being ground up sesame seeds, it has a beguiling nuttiness that also makes it quite versatile.

“Tahini Shortbread Cookies” does it justice in sandy, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery cookies that have the merest whisper of sweetness.

SoframizCookbook

The recipe is from “Soframiz” (Ten Speed Press, 2016) by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick of Sofra Bakery and Cafe in Cambridge, MA. Sortun, a James Beard “Best Chef in the Northeast” for Oleana restaurant in Cambridge, and Kilpatrick, who was named “Best Pastry Chef” by Boston magazine, showcase 100 recipes of both sweet and savory offerings at their popular modern Middle Eastern cafe.

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Behind the Scenes At Manresa Bread

Portioning levain dough at the Manresa Bread production site.

Portioning levain dough at the Manresa Bread production site.

 

Spoiler Alert: That flaky, golden croissant you can’t wait to dig into at Manresa Bread consists of 1 part dough to 3 parts butter.

Yeah, baby.

Maybe more than I wanted to know, too.

But at least I’ll own up to the fact that it still won’t stop me from nibbling on them any chance I get.

Which is exactly why I didn’t turn down an invitation to be part of a small group of media to visit Manresa Bread’s 3,400 square-foot production kitchen in Los Gatos last week.

The facility bakes the goods for both Manresa Bread retail locations in Los Gatos and Los Altos, as well as for Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, The Bywater restaurant in Los Gatos, and its stands at the Campbell and Palo Alto California Avenue farmers markets.

Rhubarb kouign-amanns.

Rhubarb kouign-amanns.

You smell the unmistakable aroma of yeast the moment you walk through the doors of the production kitchen. At a large wooden table, two bakers weigh and portion dough for the bakery’s crusty levain loaves.

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Asian-American Food & Film, A Bake-Sale Not To Miss, & More

CAAMFeast17-Save-the-Date

Center for Asian American Media Feast and Fest 2017

Celebrating Asian-American achievements in food, film and music, the Center for Asian American Media presents its 35th annual CAAMFEST, March 9-19.

The film presentations, live music, and food events, which shines a light on new Asian-American talents, takes place in various venues around San Francisco and Oakland, including the Asian Art Museum and the Castro Theatre.

Among the films sure to whet your appetite are: “Sunday Dinner,” directed by Casey Beck, which follows one man’s journey through San Francisco’s Chinatown to pick the most exacting ingredients to cook for a family feast; and “Good Luck Soup,” directed by Matthew Hashiguchi, about what it’s like to grow up mixed-race in a predominantly white neighborhood in Cleveland. Tickets for regular screenings are $12 to $14 each.

CAAMFEST is preceded by CAAMFEAST, March 4 at 6 p.m., in the Green Room at the War Memorial & Performing Arts Center in San Francisco. The evening features tastings from top restaurants, and a multi-media tribute to culinary awards honorees, who this year include Los Angeles Chef Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ and Locol; and the People’s Kitchen Collective of Oakland, which hosts Diaspora Dinners, sliding-scale community meals, and workshops. Tickets are $200 each.

Wine Dinner and Bake-Sale at Zola in Palo Alto

Pastry chef extraordinaire John Shelsta, also known by his Twitter handle of @loveforbutter, will be hosting one of his not-to-be-missed bake sales at Zola in downtown Palo Alto, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 25.

Pineapple-filled kouign-amanns. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Pineapple-filled kouign-amanns. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Shelsta has trained with some of the best around, including William Werner of Craftsman and Wolves in San Francisco, and Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie in San Francisco. It’s from the latter that he learned to make his gossamer, crackling sugary kouign-amanns. The traditional Brittany pastry is like a croissant folded upon itself with layers of sugar in between.

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Berkeley’s Much-Heralded Mochi Muffins

My new addiction.

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

My Top 10 Eats of 2016

topten2016

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.

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