Category Archives: Cool Cooking Techniques

What To Do With Leftover Holiday Buttermilk?

The method to make these biscuits is easy yet provide very distinctive results.

The method to make these biscuits is easy yet provide very distinctive results.

 

Hmm, pancakes? Salad dressing? Mashed potatoes?

How about “Cathead Biscuits”? Ones that are fluffy inside and have distinctive craggly crisp, buttery tops?

Yeah, now we’re talking.

After a run of holiday baking, I found myself with leftover buttermilk. I pulled a couple cookbooks from my shelf until I hit upon “Muffins & Biscuits” (Chronicle Books) by Heidi Gibson, co-owner of San Francisco’s The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.

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Festive Red (Wine Risotto) For the Holidays

Barbera wine colors and flavors this hearty risotto.

Barbera wine colors and flavors this hearty risotto.

 

At this time of year, the color red rules.

In “Red Wine Risotto,” it really dazzles, too.

The recipe is from “Eataly: Contemporary Italian Cooking” (Phaidon, 2016) by Eataly, the Italian food brand with mega food emporiums around the world.

The 300 recipes are surprisingly pared down, more like what Italians make at home rather than what four-star chefs labor over at restaurants. The recipes are one-page each with most having just a few paragraphs of directions.

Find everything from “Fresh Pea Soup with Smoked Ham” and “Spaghetti Pasta with Mussels, Clams, Jumbo Shrimp, and Bell Pepper Puree” to “Egg and Pancetta Tartlets” to “Chocolate Puddings with Caramelized Oranges and Amaretti Cookies.”

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At the end of the book, there’s also a great primer with photos that gives the lowdown on types of Italian salumi, pastas, rice, fish, beans, grains, breads, and cheeses.

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Foodie Gifts — For Friends, Family or Yourself

Avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and apricots combine for this zesty Farmhouse Lab dressing. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and apricots combine for this zesty Farmhouse Lab dressing. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Farmhouse Lab Salad Dressings

True, it’s easy enough to whisk together your own salad dressing at home if you have a good variety of oils, vinegars and seasonings.

But Farmhouse Lab of Marin does it one better by packaging its consciously-sourced dressings in cute little mason jars that make the perfect host or hostess gift.

The dressings use raw honey or raw coconut nectar for sweetness, as well as vinegars and oils, and mustards from artisan producers for flavor.

They come in four varieties, which I recently received samples to try: Sunny Avocado, Berry Olive, Green Pumpkin, and Red Sunflower.

The Sunny Avocado is buttery with a slight vegetative note to it, as well as the zing of apple cider vinegar. The Berry Olive is fruity sweet-tart with pomegranate vinegar and raw blackberry honey. The Green Pumpkin is nutty and rich with a dash of mustard. The Red Sunflower is also quite nutty with a subtle spiciness from red pepper chili.

They come in a handy four-pack.

They come in a handy four-pack. (photo by Carolyn Jung)

A four-pack (one of each variety) is $67.99. You can give the entire pack to someone or break it up and gift one or two to someone while keeping the rest for yourself. Best yet, through the end of this year, 10 percent of proceeds from each four-pack to SF Fights Fire, a grass-roots chefs effort to provide food and services to North Bay Fire Rescue Centers in the aftermath of the Wine Country fires. Just enter the code at check-out: Enter Code: SFFF.

“Moto: The Cookbook”

I will go on record as saying that it’s a good bet that I will likely never cook anything from the new “Moto: the Cookbook” (Little, Brown and Company, $50) by Homaro Cantu. Yet when a review copy arrived in my mail, I couldn’t stop reading it or stop staring at the photos of its phantasmagorical dishes or being in awe at the mind that came up with it all.

MotoCookbook

Cantu, a former sous chef at Charlie Trotter’s, was the visionary behind the ground-breaking Moto in Chicago, which opened in 2004. Sadly, he took his own life in 2015. The restaurant continued on without him for almost a year before his widow sold it to the Alinea Group.

But not before it made an indelible mark on the food industry.

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An Edible Holiday Wreath

It's kind of like two treats in one.

It’s kind of like two treats in one.

 

Is it a cookie? Is it a wreath?

It’s actually both.

This started out as as Martha Stewart’s “Classic Shortbread” recipe from her cookbook, “Martha Stewart’s Cookies” (Clarkson Potter, 2008), one of my favorite baking books.

The butter-filled dough is pressed into a fluted tart pan to create one massive cookie that gets scored with a knife into wedges. The directions have you pressing a round 2 1/4-inch cookie cutter into the center before baking to create a doughnut-like hole.

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Creamy Grits with Blistered Tomatoes, Pickled Serrano Chiles, and Sunflower-Miso Tahini

Tuck into this novel version of grits.

Tuck into this novel version of grits.

 

Let it soak, let it soak, let it soak.

Yes, that’s me taking liberties with the refrain from a certain Christmas song that we’ll all be hearing on repeat soon enough.

But it’s also the mantra that Chef Josef Centeno adheres to when it comes to making grits.

San Antonio-raised Centeno is chef-owner of six Los Angeles-area establishments: Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, P.Y.T, and Penny-Ante Provisions catering. Before opening those, he worked at Daniel in New York, and was chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos.

I zeroed in on his “Creamy Grits with Blistered Tomatoes, Pickled Serrano Chiles, and Sunflower-Miso Tahini” recipe when I received a review copy of his new cookbook.

“Baco: Vivid Recipes From the Heart of Los Angeles” (Chronicle Books) is by Centeno and Betty Hallock, former deputy food editor of the Los Angeles Times.

BacoBook

The cookbook showcases his imaginative dishes that reflect Los Angeles’ dynamic, exciting food scene today. His dishes are inventive — not in the molecular, shake-your-head kind of way — but in the clash of ingredients and flavors that somehow make potent magic together.

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