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Exploring California Gold Country, Part I

Monday, 20. January 2014 5:25

Karen Holmes of Karen's Bakery & Cafe in Folsom.

Karen Holmes of Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom.

As a native San Franciscan, I sheepishly admit I haven’t explored much of California Gold Country.

I vaguely remember playing at panning for gold once as a child somewhere in the vicinity, but beyond that, Sacramento, Amador and El Dorado counties have largely been seen from the freeway on the way to somewhere else.

Thanks to the tourism bureaus in Folsom, El Dorado, Amador and Sacramento,  I finally had a chance to see that area up-close, when I was invited as their guest over three days late last year to taste, explore and experience.

Here are highlights from that trip, which I hope will inspire you to get to know that region better, too.

Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom

Karen’s Bakery & Cafe is reason enough alone to stop in Folsom.

Karen Holmes opened this wonderful bakery in 2000, which has become so popular that you’ll almost always find a line to get outside, especially since it’s located near popular hiking and biking trails that bring famished weekend warriors right to her door for plum galettes, fig scones, and Tebirkes (a tradtiional almond paste danish).

The pastry case brimming with goodies.

The pastry case brimming with goodies.

Holmes is a former school teacher, whose mother took her family to Europe regularly, especially to its fine patisseries. As a teacher she baked banana bread for PTA events that became such a sensation that colleagues encouraged her to open a bakery.

A talent for baking and cooking obviously runs in the family as her son, Duncan Holmes is the chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Sons & Daughters. In fact, in his teenage years, he’d ride his bike over to his mom’s bakery to help wash dishes after school before going home to hunker down to his homework. Both mother and son are self-taught.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Enticing Events, Fruit, General, Great Finds, Restaurants, Travel Adventures | Comments (4) | Author:

A Zesty New Year

Wednesday, 1. January 2014 5:25

Fennel and Meyer Lemon Relish to start the year off right.

Fennel and Meyer Lemon Relish to start the year off right.

 

After all that belly-busting food of the holidays, it’s time for something light and bright to start 2014.

Best yet, this particular recipe makes use of any Meyer lemons you may still have hanging on your trees.

“Fennel and Meyer Lemon Relish” is from the new “The Art of Simple Food II” (Clarkson Potter) by the one and only Alice Waters.

The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is filled with recipes that make the most of your kitchen garden at any time of year. Moreover, there’s even information included on taking care of your soil, building a compost pile, making compost tea and growing seedlings.

Although called a “relish,” this is almost like a salad in that it has so much delightful crunch. It couldn’t be easier to make, either.

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Category:Chefs, Fruit, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (10) | Author:

FarmBox SF Rolls Into Town

Friday, 15. November 2013 5:28

Beautiful local produce delivered right to your door with FarmBox SF

Beautiful local produce delivered right to your door with FarmBox SF.

 

Imagine all the fresh pickings from a farmers market — only delivered right to your door.

That’s what FarmBox SF aims to do.

The company started in Los Angeles three years ago, and just expanded to the Bay Area this summer.

It’s similar to Community Supported Agriculture, only FarmBox partners with more than 25 sustainable and organic Bay Area farms to deliver a wider selection.

Recently, I had the chance to try out a special delivery. I say “special” because FarmBox SF delivers only to San Francisco and Marin County right now, not to the South Bay yet. But Branch Manager Taylor Flohr was kind enough to make a trip out of the way to get one to me. Plans call for expanding to the East Bay next and perhaps to the Peninsula/South Bay after that.

Here’s how it normally works: You sign up and get an email on Tuesday about what’s available. You have until midnight Wednesday to make any additions or deletions to your order. On Saturday, your FarmBox arrives.

The actual box, er, basket, of goodies.

The actual box, er, basket, of goodies.

It’s actually more like a basket — a bright red one at that. You can choose what size suits your needs. You can also choose more specific baskets such as “Fruit-Only” or “Juicing” or “CrossFit Paleo.” Additionally, you can add staples such as coffee, gluten-free baked goods, jams, breads, pickles, and organic butter.

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Category:Fruit, General, Going Green and Sustainable, Health/Nutrition, New Products | Comments (5) | Author:

Pomegranate in What? Hot Sauce, Of Course

Friday, 18. October 2013 5:25

A Menlo Park couple's new hot sauce creation with pomegranate

A Menlo Park couple’s new hot sauce creation with pomegranate.

By day, Menlo Park’s Bobby Marhamat is a branding and mobile marketing expert who guides companies on ways to gain greater exposure and prominence.

In his off hours, he continues his creative tinkering — but in the kitchen, cooking alongside his wife, Shima.

In fact, one of his experiments led to his newest creation this year: Bah Bah Hot Sauce.

Kind of like the chocolate and peanut butter moment with Reese’s, Marhamat wondered what would happen if he added pomegranate, a staple ingredient from his Persian heritage, to hot sauce?

As he discovered, something quite delicious, indeed.

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Category:Fruit, General, Great Finds, New Products | Comments (13) | Author:

Fall for An Apple Pumpkin Galette and a Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 23. September 2013 5:25

A taste of autumn with apples and pumpkin.

A taste of autumn with apples and pumpkin.

 

I admit I do mourn the end of summer’s sweet berries and peaches.

But the start of fall is definitely easier to swallow with a bounty of fresh apples to bake with.

“Apple Pumpkin Galette” caught my attention because of the addition of the autumn hard squash in it. The recipe is from the new “Sunset Cook Taste Savor” (Oxmoor House) of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook spotlights recipes for 16 ingredients including artichokes, avocados, chicken, cheese and apples.

SunsetCookTasteSavor

The straightforward dough recipe for the galette makes enough for two of these free-form tarts, but you can just freeze half the batch to use at another time.

The dough is rolled out into a circle. You fill the center with slices of apples and pumpkin — or kabocha squash, as I used as recommended by the cookbook — that have been tossed with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, a dash of bourbon and sugar. Then, fold the edges of the dough over, before baking.

With Sunset’s meticulous testing, I was taken aback by the amount of sugar called for in the filling, which seemed like way too much. The recipe originally called for 1/3 cup brown sugar plus 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar for three apples and 1 1/2 pounds of squash (about half of a small pumpkin or kabocha). So, I decided to cut the amount of granulated sugar back to 3/4 cup, which turned out to be plenty. But feel free to add more if you have a big sweet tooth.

The pastry bakes up flaky with a hearty filling. My husband was not too keen on the addition of the squash. He would have preferred an unadulterated apple tart instead. Me? I kind of liked how the kabocha made this tart unique. It gave it a slightly savory quality and added a twist.

One of fall's earliest apples: the SweeTango.

One of fall’s earliest apples: the SweeTango.

The original recipe calls for Granny Smith apples, but I used SweeTango ones instead, of which I had received a sample. The SweeTango is a cross between a Honeycrisp and a Zestar! apple. It’s got a great crunch and wine-y, spicy flavor.

SweeTango apples are an early season variety. They’re available at Walmart through the end of September, and at Mollie Stone’s and Safeway stores hrough October.

CONTEST: Three lucky Food Gal readers will each win a couple of pounds of SweeTango apples, an apple timer, a cutting board, a T-shirt, and a reusable grocery bag. Entries are limited to those in the continental United States, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. Entries will be accepted through midnight PST Sept. 28. Winners will be announced Sept. 30.

How to win?

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Category:Enticing Events, Fruit, General, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (20) | Author: