Category Archives: Chefs

Get the Fireworks Started with Dorie Greenspan’s Blueberry-Corn Tart

A dazzling tart topped with blueberries and corn. Yes, corn!

A dazzling tart topped with blueberries and corn. Yes, corn!

 

On a recent episode of “MasterChef,” the contestants were initially befuddled when asked to make a dessert using the secret ingredient: corn.

It’s not such a daft ingredient for a sweet, as you might first think.

Sure, we may associate it most with the savory side — grilled corn on the cob, succotash, corn salads, corn chowder and the like.

But I can remember digging into a bowl of corn ice cream and a warm, airy corn souffle at restaurants, and breaking into a delighted smile.

After all, corn is naturally sweet, especially modern-day varieties, which are bred to be higher in sugar.

So last fall, when I finally got my hands on a review copy of the newest cookbook by culinary treasure, Dorie Greenspan, “Baking Chez Moi” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), I waited to bake from it. And waited. And waited.

Until fresh corn and fresh blueberries finally came into season, which is now.

Greenspan’s “Philadelphia Blueberry-Corn Tart” is worth all of that patience.

Imagine a crumbly shortbread-cookie crust mounded with a creamy, honey-scented filling that’s heaped with gorgeous jammy blueberries and fresh corn kernels.

It’s a beaut. A real attention-getter. Just the dessert you want on a summer holiday like the Fourth of July.

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Test-Driving (And Cooking) Sun Basket

I made this for dinner from a Sun Basket cooking kit.

I made this for dinner from a Sun Basket cooking kit.

 

There are enough meal delivery start-ups these days to make your head spin and your stomach growl over just which are worth ordering — if any.

When I was invited to try out a free delivery by San Francisco’s Sun Basket, I was swayed to do so by a couple of factors.

First, the recipes for the cooking kits were developed by Justine Kelly, former executive chef at The Slanted Door in San Francisco. Second, the quality of ingredients is impressive. The kits include organic, seasonal ingredients from highly regarded purveyors such as Dirty Girl, Far West Funghi, Water 2 Table, and Marin Sun.

Sun Basket was founded by Adam Zbar, a serial entrepreneur who found himself 50 pounds overweight from binging on burgers and pizza like so many young techies. That led him to develop meal kits that would make it easier for busy people to cook nutritious dinners at home.

All you do is go on the site a week ahead of time to order your weekly delivery, which consists of three different meals that you choose from Sun Basket’s menu. Each recipe is designed to take about 30 minutes to prepare, and has 500 to 800 calories per serving. There are also gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian options. Each meal is $9.99 per person.

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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.

CookieLove

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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Porking Out on Father’s Day

Pork loin gets all pretty and tasty with a profusion of fresh orange slices.

Pork loin gets all pretty and tasty with a profusion of fresh orange slices.

 

My Dad never met a piece of pork he didn’t like.

Chinese char siu cut into itty-bits and scrambled with eggs for breakfast.

Lacquered pork ribs from Chinatown to gnaw on blissfully until they were picked clean.

A big ham he’d stud with cloves and bake with rings of pineapple for Christmas dinner.

And neatly tied roasts brushed with soy sauce and honey, purposely big enough to allow for leftover slices to stuff into sandwiches packed for lunch the next day.

It’s been seven years since my Dad passed away. But every time I enjoy an exceptional porky meal, I can’t help but think of him.

Chef Charlie Palmer’s “Pork Loin with Oranges” is a dish I know he would have loved. My Dad wasn’t into fancy. While this dish isn’t pretentious, it’s pretty enough to be a party plate for a special celebration, yet easy enough to prepare for an every day meal.

It’s unfussy — just a generous pork loin roasted gently with an abundance of onion and fresh orange slices until the tangy citrus marries with the sweetness of the meat in perfect harmony.

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Chef Sachin Chopra Returns to His Repertoire with All Spice San Francisco

A stunning octopus dish at the new All Spice San Francisco.

A stunning octopus dish at the new All Spice San Francisco.

 

Having enjoyed quite a few wonderful meals at the Michelin-starred All Spice, tucked inside a charming Victorian house in San Mateo, I was intrigued to see what Chef-Owner Sachin Chopra and his wife, Shoshana Wolff, had in store when they took over the legendary Masa’s spot in San Francisco last year.

When I learned it would be called Game, and specialize in wild game, I admit I was surprised. Not because Chopra doesn’t have the talent to pull off such a radically different turn, but because I feared it would be a hard sell among Bay Area diners who worship at the altar of local and sustainable, rather than exotica flown in from all parts of the world.

Game was intended to be playful and energetic with its surreal paintings of animals in costumes. But having visited as a guest of the restaurant when it first opened, the vibe was actually quite formal feeling with a white-jacketed host and a hushed environment. When you have a menu featuring turtle, venison, boar and a load of other meat, the place almost cries out for a bodacious dose of bold and brash — kind of along the lines of what Chef Chris Cosentino created at Cockscomb in San Francisco.

Chopra and Wolff rolled the dice with Game, but didn’t end up with a winner. However, they were smart enough to re-evaluate after a few short months. The result is the transformation of Game into All Spice San Francisco.

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