Category Archives: Chefs

The (Cheese) Table

Ribbons of Bohemian Creamery's Capriago cheese cover the top of mushroom-pork ragout with grits at The Table.

Ribbons of Bohemian Creamery’s Capriago cheese cover the top of mushroom-pork ragout with grits at The Table.

 

Last week, San Jose’s The Table was transformed into the cheese table.

The popular Willow Glen neighborhood restaurant hosted its inaugural cheese dinner. This one spotlighted the cheeses of Bohemian Creamery of Sebastapol in a $75 seven-course dinner that included paired beverages. I was lucky enough to be invited in as a guest of the restaurant, which plans to make the cheese dinner an annual event.

Owner and cheesemaker Lisa Gottreich was on hand to talk about her hand-made cheeses, which are sold at retailers such as the Cheese Board in Berkeley and Sunshine Foods in St. Helena, and featured at restaurants such as Ad Hoc in Yountville, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Nopa in San Francisco and SPQR in San Francisco.

Gottreich makes her 13 types of cheeses the Italian-way, with little salt. The goat cheeses are made with milk from her own herd of goats. The other types of milk that go into her cheeses are purchased from nearby farms.

In the far right, Chef-Owner Jim Stump greets cheesemaker Lisa Bottreich in the dining room of The Table.

In the far right, Chef-Owner Jim Stump greets cheesemaker Lisa Bottreich in the dining room of The Table.

The kitchen at work with Chef "AJ'' Jmenez in the baseball cap.

The kitchen at work with Chef “AJ” Jmenez in the baseball cap.

The first course brought her Bodacious five-day-old goat cheese with a bloomy rind in a spring dish of asparagus and Oro Blanco grapefruit that was paired with Sikyo “Mirror of Truth” Takehara Junmai sake. What a great way to start with a creamy, tangy cheese and a floral, clean sake that worked well with the always tricky-to-pair asparagus.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Ocean Orssten of Citrus Restaurant For A Cooking Demo

MacysOcean

Chef Ocean Orssten won’t have to travel far when he joins me for a cooking demo, 6 p.m. April 26 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

That’s because he’s the head chef of Citrus restaurant in the Hotel Valencia across the street at Santana Row.

Born in Capitola, he grew up in the Napa Valley, raising heritage pigs when he was 12 years old and cementing his passion for farm-fresh ingredients.

After cooking at Arcadia in San Jose, La Folie in San Francisco, and Campton Place restaurant in San Francisco, he became chef at Citrus in 2011.

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Home-Style Red-Cooked Pork

Pork belly -- red-ooked style.

Pork belly — red-ooked style.

 

It’s no secret that the Chinese love the color red, which is festive, and symbolizes prosperity.

We also love our pork.

And no cut quite so much as the pig’s luscious belly.

Combine all three and you get “Red-Cooked Pork,” an iconic family-style dish of pork belly that’s cooked in a soy sauce-laced braising liquid that’s not really more brown than red. The “red” in the name, though, comes interestingly enough from the fact that the Chinese language doesn’t really have a character to describe “brown.” So, apparently, they opted for the next best color — red.

So writes Kian Lam Kho in his new cookbook, “Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. The comprehensive book just won the prestigious “Julia Child First Book” award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. The book’s poetic name pays homage to the Chinese characters used as synonyms on Chinese menus for chicken feet and Chinese broccoli.

PhoenixClaws

Indeed, if you are interested in learning more about Chinese cooking, this book is a must-have. Kho of New York City is a private chef, culinary instructor, and creator of the blog, RedCook. He’s written a book that deftly explains the fundamental cooking techniques of Chinese cuisine — from pan-frying to light frying, from flash-poaching to oil-poaching, and from simple steaming to flavored steaming.

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Stumping for Stumpy’s

Tots and bacon-wrapped dog at Stumpy's.

Tots and bacon-wrapped dog at Stumpy’s.

 

Over the years, Chef Jim Stump has run many restaurants in the South Bay.

Stumpy’s is his tiniest.

The veteran chef and restaurateur, who helped founded the Los Gatos Brewing Company, now draws in the crowds at The Table in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood and his just-opened Campbell bar, The Vesper. Coming soon will be his seafood restaurant, Forthright in Campbell.

In 2014, he opened Stumpy’s hot dog and burger joint on Willow Glen’s well-trafficked Lincoln Avenue. It’s a slip of a place, with just enough room to order your food at the counter and load up on a few condiments at the back station.

Order the food inside; pick it up outside at the window.

Order the food inside; pick it up outside at the window.

When your order is ready, you pick it up at the window outside. There’s really no place to eat inside Stumpy’s. But the old movie theater next door has a few patio tables set up so you can enjoy your food there. Or you can opt to get it to-go and take it home, as I did when I paid my own tab there recently.

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It’s Easy Being — (And Making) — Green Risotto

A bright-green risotto -- that you barely have to stir.

A bright-green risotto — that you barely have to stir.

 

I admit I was dubious. I was skeptical. I was bordering on being a non-believer.

Could one really make perfect risotto on the stove-top by pouring a load of stock into a pan with the rice, turning the heat down to the lowest possible setting, then leaving it pretty much alone except to stir it twice? Yes, twice.

Pshaw.

But I should have never doubted J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

After all, he’s the man. He’s so meticulous and precise that he’s like a one-man Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen (where he used to work, by the way). The San Francisco-based managing culinary director of Serious Eats, Lopez-Alt is a restaurant-trained chef and the author of the “Food Lab” column, as well as a regular columnist for Cooking Light magazine.

TheFoodLabBook

His new book, “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” (W.W. Norton & Company), of which I received a review copy, is a must-have on your shelf. In fact, this past Sunday, it was named “Cookbook of the Year” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

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