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Joanne Chang’s Big White Chocolate, Almond and Cherry Cookies

Monday, 14. April 2014 5:25

Imagine these tucked into your Easter basket.

Imagine these tucked into your Easter basket.

 

Easter may be all about chocolate eggs and marshmallow Peeps. But I think it should be about cookies.

But then again, I think every day should be a cookie day.

And this cookie has it all: A twinkle of color in keeping with that festive holiday. Chocolate for tradition’s sake. And almonds for their symbolic promise of hope.

“Big White Chocolate, Almond and Cherry Cookies” is a recipe by Pastry Chef Joanne Chang that was originally published in the December 2013 issue of Food & Wine magazine. The recipe by the chef-proprietor of Flour Bakery in Boston was originally called “Big White Chocolate, Almond and Cranberry Cookies,” but I substituted dried cherries for the dried cranberries to make it more appropriate for this time of year.

The recipe uses three different flours — all-purpose, bread and almond. They give the cookie great texture. They are thin and crisp on the edges,, but stay thick, soft and chewy in the centers. The white chocolate gives the cookies a good measure of sweetness, the cherries add a subtle fruity tang and the almonds a lovely crunch. It’s a cookie that hits all the notes.

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Category:Chefs, Favorite Cookie Recipes, General | Comments (6) | Author:

Lure + Till Takes Root in Downtown Palo Alto

Friday, 11. April 2014 5:25

First of the season Alaskan halibut at Palo Alto's Lure + Till.

First of the season Alaskan halibut at Palo Alto’s Lure + Till.

 

What was once a senior care facility in downtown Palo Alto has morphed into a splashy new boutique hotel and restaurant.

The eight-story Epiphany Hotel, a Joie de Vivre property, opened at the end of March after a  year of demolition that took the structure down to the studs, followed by nearly two years of construction.

The six-story mosaic of El  Palo Alto, the 1,000-year-old coastal redwood for which the city is named, was kept on the outside of the building. Moreover, throughout the structure there are nods to both that tree and to the city’s prominent place in Silicon Valley history. For instance, binary code is used as lighted artwork in the lobby. Historic maps of Palo Alto adorn hallways. Room rugs are woven with tree images. Cocoon-like “hoodie” chairs on the mezzanine not only have built-in outlets but were designed to be noise-cancelling. And perhaps in the ultimate oxymoron, the desks for all those hustle-bustle guests who never met an electronic device they didn’t like were made by the Amish.

Only in Silicon Valley: binary code as art.

Only in Silicon Valley: binary code as art.

The chic lobby.

The chic lobby.

Now, I’m not in the habit of snapping pictures of urinals in the men’s room. But this one was too good not to memorialize after being escorted in by the general manager. Yes, in the men’s room of a hotel just a stone’s throw from Stanford University, you will find this unique urinal, a deprecating symbol of the Big Game rivalry between the two institutions.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (4) | Author:

The Comfort of Curry

Wednesday, 9. April 2014 5:26

A spice mix not to be without.

A spice mix not to be without.

 

My spice drawer collapseth over.

Try as I might to keep the jars and tins in neat alphabetical order, there are just far too many for all the cuisines dabbled in to do so.

In my parents’ kitchen that I grew up in, though, that never was a problem. Their spice collection snuggled neatly in one metal pan in the cupboard that held barely a dozen in total. Cloves to stud the Easter ham. Cinnamon for baking oatmeal cookies. White pepper to sprinkle into rice porridge. And that all-important jar of curry powder that my Dad would reach for whenever he made lamb curry.

Nowadays, I keep a jar of curry in my pantry for many uses. But when spring hits, I can’t help but think of lamb curry first and foremost as my Dad so often did.

His lamb curry was made in a pressure cooker, the kind that sat on the stovetop with a metal knob screwed into its lid that hissed and whistled like mad. He’d cut up potatoes, carrots and onions and throw them into the pot with chunks of lamb with plenty of chicken stock, some spiky star anise, and a few generous shakes from that curry jar — and let it all bubble away under that locked lid.

Sometimes I’d have no idea what he was making for dinner. But the moment he lifted the lid off that pot, that unmistakable aroma would fill the house, letting me know it was curry lamb night. The fragrance is so recognizable — pungently earthy, musky, even a tad sweet, and with the promise of something a little exotic.

My Dad’s version was golden and brothy — meant to be eaten with mounds of fluffy rice. All it took was one mouthful to warm you deliciously from within.

Tadashi Ono's lamb curry.

Tadashi Ono’s lamb curry.

My husband who is Japanese-American also grew up with curry and rice. But the type he is accustomed to is far more gravy-like. It’s a deep, dark pool of sauce, so thick you can barely discern what’s below until you really dig a fork into it. It’s also delicious. And like the version my Dad used to make, quite tame on the heat spectrum, compared to Indian curries.

In New York Chef Tadashi Ono’s newest cookbook, “Japanese Soul Cooking” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, is full of home-style dishes, including ramen, tonkatsu, tempura, and donburi. It also includes a curry dish that marries both of the styles my husband and I grew up on. The sauce is a little thinner than what my husband is used to and with a scant more weight than the type I favored as a child.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (8) | Author:

Join the Food Gal and Half Moon Bay Brewing Company at Macy’s Valley Fair

Friday, 4. April 2014 5:27

MacysHalfMoonBay

Who wants to try some beeramisu?

I thought that would get your attention. Yup, it’s the classic Italian dessert, only made with beer.

You can learn how to make it and sample some at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara at 6 p.m. April 10 when I host a cooking demo with Chef Gaston Alfaro of Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Person, Restaurants | Comments (2) | Author:

Bay Area Chefs Event, New Seafood Restaurant Coming to Mountain View & More

Monday, 31. March 2014 5:26

Chef Ross Hanson is one of the featured chefs at the benefit gala for Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Chef Ross Hanson is one of the featured chefs at the benefit gala for Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

“Star Chefs and the Wines and Spirits They Love”

Enjoy gourmet noshes by 15 Bay Area chefs matched with wine and cocktails at the annual “Star Chefs and the Wines and Spirits They Love” fund-raiser, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 13 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

The participating chefs are:

Executive Chef Ross Hanson, Oak & Rye Restaurant
Executive Chef Philipe Breneman, Lexington House
Executive Chef John Burke, Liquid Bread Gastropub
Executive Chef Jeff Fitzgerald, Dio Deka
Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher, Chez TJ
Chef de Cuisine Anthony Jimenez, The Table
Executive Chef Brad Kraten, Park Place
Executive Chef Lan Le, White Shallot
Executive Chef Randy MustererSushi Confidential
Executive Chef Justin Perez, Justin’s Restaurant
Head Baker Avery Ruzicka, The Manresa Bread Project
Executive Chef Josiah Slone,  Sent Sovi
Executive Chef Nanci Wokas, Hewlett Packard
Executive Chef Chris Yamashita, Brown Chicken Brown Cow
Bee Whisperer Tim Dauber, Bee Friendly

The best dishes will receive a People’s Choice, Chefs’ Choice and Judges’ Choice award. Yours truly is proud to be one of the judges for the evening.

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Category:Chefs, General, More Food Gal -- In Person, Restaurants, Wine | Comment (0) | Author: