Category Archives: Chefs

Making Manresa Bread’s Terrific Tahini Cookies

Nutty, elegant tahini cookies.

Nutty, elegant tahini cookies.

 

Nothing beats the high of discovering a favorite new treat at a bakery or restaurant.

And nothing stings like the blow of finding out the establishment has decided to take it off the menu.

We’ve all been there, right?

When Food Gal reader Kristy W. discovered that her favorite tahini cookies had been yanked from the bakery case at the new Manresa Bread in Campbell, she was beside herself.

So what did she do? She asked yours truly if I could somehow get the recipe.

Well, Kristy, your wish is my command.

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Got 5 Minutes? Make Hummus — Just Like That

Five-minute hummus with cinnamon-scented chicken.

Five-minute hummus with cinnamon-scented chicken.

 

These days, hummus is so ubiquitous that you can pick up a tub at most any store. You can even find snickerdoodle and brownie batter hummus — abominations that are enough to make the mind reel and the taste buds go into perpetual hiding.

But for a real treat, try making hummus yourself.

In his first cookbook, “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Chef-Owner Michael Solomonov of Philadelphia’s landmark Zahav restaurant, provided a detailed recipe for making hummus from scratch with dried chickpeas that need to be soaked overnight before being cooked until — yes — mushy to get the best consistency.

In his second cookbook, Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy, Solomonov and business partner Steven Cook acknowledge that few Israelis make hummus at home because they can get their hands on great versions so easily at supermarkets or hummusiyas.

Israeli Soul

In contrast, the quality of store-bought hummus in the United States can vary greatly, as anyone who has bought a tub can attest. To make it easier for home-cooks here, Solomonov provides a more streamlined hummus recipe in his newest cookbook that makes use of canned chickpeas instead. “5-Minute Hummus” really does come together as fast as it implies. As Solomonov quips, it will take you longer to clean your food processor afterward than it will to actually make this wonderful hummus.

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A Visit to Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max

A huge musubi with Spam and green onion omelet at Sam Choy's Poke to the Max.

A huge musubi with Spam and green onion omelet at Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max.

 

At first, you might scratch your head at the fact that Hawaiian celeb Chef Sam Choy picked a sleepy block in San Bruno, right across the street from Artichoke Joe’s Casino, for the first California franchise of his Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max.

But the reason for the unlikely location becomes crystal clear when its head Chef Wade Tamura explains: First, the seafood gets flown in regularly from Hawaii, and San Francisco International Airport is just a short hop away. Second, one of Choy’s favorite vacation spots just happens to be San Francisco.

With poke places seemingly popping up on every block these days, what sets this one apart? I had a chance to find out, when I was invited in as a guest of the fast-casual eatery a week ago.

Chef Wade Tamura.

Chef Wade Tamura.

First, there’s no denying the pedigree of having a James Beard Award-winning Hawaiian chef behind it. Choy comes out to the Bay Area at least four times a year. And Tamura, who was previously at Facebook, Google, and the Slanted Door in San Francisco, also has worked with Choy for more than two decades.

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You Can Never Go Wrong at Rich Table

Broccoli tamale at Rich Table.

Broccoli tamale at Rich Table.

 

Rich Table is one of those restaurants that confounds.

In the best of ways.

What other place thinks of threading whole sardines through potato chips? Or baking levain bread with dough infused with Douglas Fir? Or tossing a tangle of pasta with sauerkraut and pastrami?

Only this San Francisco establishment founded by husband-and-wife chefs Evan and Sarah Rich.

No wonder this casual, relaxed place has earned a Michelin star.

Step inside the casual Michelin-starred restaurant.

Step inside the casual Michelin-starred restaurant.

A little bathroom humor on the bathroom wall.

A little bathroom humor on the bathroom wall.

Even before garnering that honor, Rich Table was always a tough place to get a reservation. It’s even more so now. But plan ahead to score a table and you will be richly rewarded, as my husband and I and our friends were on a recent Sunday night. We paid our own tab at the end, but Chef de Cuisine Brandon Rice did send out a parade of desserts on the house at the end.

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