Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

Who Can Resist Candy Pork?

The most appropriately named Candy Pork.

The most appropriately named Candy Pork.

 

If there were two things that my Dad loved, it was candy and it was pork.

After all, when you are of Chinese ancestry, pork is practically in your DNA.

And when you live most of your life in San Francisco, where boxes of See’s Candies are apt to be offered up as gifts for most any occasion, you can’t help but develop a fondness for all things sweet.

That’s why if my Dad were still alive this Father’s Day, I would cook up a batch of “Candy Pork” for him. Because it’s like the best of both of his favorites combined into one.

The recipe is from San Francisco food writer extraordinaire Jessica Battilana’s new cookbook, “Repertoire: All the Recipes You Need” (Little, Brown and Company), of which I received a review copy.

Repertoire

After collaborating with chefs on a half dozen cookbooks, this is her first cookbook filled with her own recipes. After she and her wife had two kids, Battilana’s life became so time-pressed that her style of cooking had to change. The result is this cookbook of 75 recipes, most of them completely do-able on a harried weeknight, and others not that much more involved for weekends or special occasions.

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For A “Bargain” Tasting Menu, Head to Commonwealth

Spring asparagus with an unusual potato salad at Commonwealth.

Spring asparagus with an unusual potato salad at Commonwealth.

 

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a chef mention this restaurant as the place they most like to eat on their day off or as the establishment they’d most like theirs to emulate, I’d be doing very well indeed.

Such is the respect that Commonwealth has garnered.

The Michelin-starred restaurant opened in 2010 in an old donut shop in San Francisco. In fact, the Mission District restaurant not only sports the old donut mural on the side of the building, but possesses something truly rare in San Francisco — its own parking lot. It is a fairly small lot, though, so you still have to be lucky to snag a space.

Chef-Owner Jason Fox oversees the open kitchen in the compact dining room, which means it is worthwhile to make a reservation. My husband and I, who were invited to dine as guests of the restaurant on a recent Saturday night, saw a few walk-ins turned away because the restaurant just gets that booked.

Located in a former donut shop.

Located in a former donut shop.

Some bubbly to accompany the first couple of courses.

Some bubbly to accompany the first couple of courses.

While there is an a la carte menu, what really makes Commonwealth stand out is its tasting menu. In the Bay Area, where many tasting menus have prompted ire for their stratospheric prices that now reach well beyond $300 per person, Commonwealth’s is all of $85 per person ($140 total per person with wine pairings) for about seven courses. Even the “chef’s extended menu” is a relatively moderate $125 per person ($195 total per person with wine pairings) for about 14 courses, which is the option we went for.

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Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus Debuts In San Mateo

The chicken schnitzel sandwich plate at the new Wursthaus Restaurant & Bierhaus.

The chicken schnitzel sandwich plate at the new Wursthaus Restaurant & Bierhaus.

 

When is a bierhaus not just a joint to enjoy a beer and brat?

When J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is involved.

When Lopez-Alt joined forces with Adam Simpson, owner of nearby Grape & Grain craft beer and wine bar, and Tyson Mao, a Lyft project manager, they thought they’d open a low-key, no-big-deal restaurant in the city all three call home.

But Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus, which opens tonight, has drawn unprecedented attention far and wide.

That’s because of Lopez-Alt’s fame and following. The MIT grad is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and managing culinary director of Serious Eats, where he writes the popular “The Food Lab’’ column. His meticulously researched cooking techniques spark passion and discourse across the Internet.

The bar.

The bar.

All beers are on tap. None are sold in the bottle or can.

All beers are on tap. None are sold in the bottle or can.

Wursthall is the first restaurant he’s partnered in. “Initially they were looking for just menu consultation,” he explains. “But I wanted to be more involved. My wife and I bought a house here a few years ago. We noticed there was no modern place geared to families in an affordable price range. I had been talking to her about getting more involved with restaurants. But this is way bigger than anything I envisioned. I’m at a point where I don’t do anything for a paycheck. I do only projects I want to put my name on and really get involved in.’’

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Meyer Lemons Part I: The Quick and the Savory

This is what I call an ideal lemon chicken.

This is what I call an ideal lemon chicken.

 

Lemon chicken may be a mainstay of Chinese restaurant menus, but I never order it.

Battered to oblivion, and tossed with a gloppy sauce that tastes more of sugar than citrus, it just doesn’t appeal.

Melissa Clark’s “Sauteed Chicken with Meyer Lemon,” however, is much more my style.

The veteran cookbook author and New York Times food writer does swaps out the deep-frying for stir-frying instead. That means this dish comes together in no time and with no mess.

What’s more, you can really taste the fresh, bright Meyer lemon in this dish.

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