Category Archives: Bakeries

Corny Cookies

Baking with corn nuts. Who would have ever thunk it? Mindy Segal, that's who.

Baking with corn nuts. Who would have ever thunk it? Mindy Segal, that’s who.


Lugging a backpack full of textbooks in middle school, while walking to the bus stop after class, and suffering from a serious case of the munchies.

That’s truly the last time I think I’ve bought corn nuts.

Until now, that is.

Leave it to Pastry Chef Mindy Segal to get me to venture into a nearby 7-Eleven for the sole purpose of buying corn nuts.

But her recipe for “Corn Nut Cornmeal Shortbread” captivated me so much, I just had to do it.

The recipe is from her cookbook, “Cookie Love” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.


A James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Segal is the proprietor of HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Chicago. The book was written in conjunction with Kate Leahy, a San Francisco food writer and recipe developer.

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Great Cheap Eats in Los Angeles

Finally -- the elusive fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man!

Finally — the elusive fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man!


On a recent trip down to Los Angeles, I had a chance to try some new favorite eats. All satisfying. All affordable, too. The best kind, don’t you, think?

Donut Nirvana

I’d heard about it, seen pics online and salivated over it on the Food Network. But try as I might, I never seemed to be in Los Angeles at the right time of year to snag a fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man in Glendora.

Until this trip.

Let me tell you, it was definitely worth the wait and lived up to all the hype.

Imagine a fresh brioche donut split in half, then stuffed to the gills with fresh, juicy whole strawberries that have been macerated in just a smidge of syrup.

What I love is that it’s not overly sweet at all, thanks to the fact that the donut, itself, is not glazed. As a result, the flavor of the berries shine through.

It’s sort of like strawberry shortcake. Only better.

Of course, after making the drive, you've got to get more than one donut. You've got to get a box-load.

Of course, after making the drive, you’ve got to get more than one donut. You’ve got to get a box-load.

A beloved institution for more than 40 years, The Donut Man is sort of in the middle of nowhere. It’s essentially a humble kiosk with a walk-up window in a parking lot shared by a martial arts school, of all things.

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity, do make the drive.

Now, if I can only make it back one later in the summer when the fresh peach donut is available. Yes, same as the strawberry one, but with fresh slices of yellow peaches instead. That’s definitely worth making a return trip.

Grand Central Market is Plenty Grand

Think the Ferry Building in San Francisco — but a version that keeps it a little more real.

That’s Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, a market arcade that originally opened in 1917, but was infused with new life two years ago.

Sure, there are upscale food vendors now such as Belcampo Meat Co., and Bombo, esteemed Chef Mark Peel’s seafood-centric cafe.

Inside Grand Central Market.

Inside Grand Central Market.

But there are also old-school, ethnic outposts such as China Cafe, which dishes up chop suey and egg fo yeung; Valeria’s, which offers a well-stocked Latin pantry of items, including fresh mole pastes to take home to cook with; and La Casa Verde, a large produce market with very down-to-earth prices.

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A Taste of Luxe at Alexander’s Patisserie

Presenting L'Orange from Alexander's Patisserie.

Presenting L’Orange from Alexander’s Patisserie.


From the lighted, jewelry-like display cases to the tony, studded white leather wingbacks to the French marble tabletops, Alexander’s Patisserie oozes luxury.

The patisserie, which opened last year in downtown Mountain View, is by the team behind Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino and San Francisco, and The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse in Palo Alto.

Executive Pastry Chef Dries Delanghe honed his skills at Pierre Herme in Paris before joining the team at Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Las Vegas.

Designed like a high-end boutique.

Designed like a high-end boutique.

Taking a load off in style.

Taking a load off in style.

His pastries are exquisite looking. Individual domes and tarts, perfectly formed and flourished, are displayed like little works of art.

Fortunately, they deliver in taste, too, as I found recently when I purchased a few goodies to take home.

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The Goods on Manresa Bread Bakery

A selection of Manresa Bread specialties: levain (back), kale scone (front left), and chocolate croissant (front right).

A selection of Manresa Bread specialties: levain (back), kale scone (front left), and chocolate croissant (front right).


The South Bay’s most anticipated bakery, Manresa Bread, finally opened a week ago, in downtown Los Gatos.

If you think that means bypassing those long, long lines at its stands at the Palo Alto and Campbell farmers markets on Sundays, guess again.

The queue may be shorter at the new bakery, just around the corner from Michelin two-starred Manresa restaurant, but there likely will be one no matter what time you go.

When I got there at 11 a.m. last Friday, there were already half a dozen people in front of me. And the baguettes were already gone.

If you think that was bad, on opening day on Feb. 21, the bakery sold out in just five hours.

Inside the bakery.

Inside the bakery.

All of that speaks to the quality of the artisan products being turned out by Manresa head baker Avery Ruzicka, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who also trained with master baker Ben Hershberger of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and Per Se restaurant.

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Just Try to Resist Huckleberry Bakery’s Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Nothing says "I love you'' like a basket of fresh-baked muffins loaded with chocolate.

Nothing says “I love you” like a basket of fresh-baked muffins loaded with chocolate.


There are times when I con myself into thinking muffins are just a smidge healthful.

After all, if I choose one with bran or whole wheat or carrots or blueberries, it’s not so very bad, is it?

I mean, it’s not as indulgent as eating actual cake, right?

Forgettabout it.

Yeah, with “Chocolate Chunk Muffins,” I’m not going to attempt to play that game.


That’s because there’s no getting around it. These muffins are rich, tender, and super chocolatey.  They are like chocolate-chip cookies in muffin form.

And they’re every bit as good as that sounds.

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