Category Archives: General

The Joys of Boston Coffee Cake

Moist, buttery and full of cinnamon, it's hard to beat an old-fashioned coffee cake.

Moist, buttery and full of cinnamon, it’s hard to beat an old-fashioned coffee cake.

 

It’s a good day when cake arrives in the mail unexpectedly.

I have friend and loyal Food Gal reader Abby to thank for the sugary surprise that arrived on my doorstep last week.

Having spent a summer in Boston interning at The Globe many years ago, I was quite familiar with Boston cream pie, which of course, is not pie at all, but custard-filled cake smothered in chocolate glaze.

But Boston Coffee Cake was new to me. And it is indeed cake.

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Contrada Delivers On Pasta, Pizza and A Good Time

Chef Jason Tuley with his wood-fired pizza oven in the background at Contrada.

Chef Jason Tuley with his wood-fired pizza oven in the background at Contrada.

 

On an early Saturday evening in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, people were still making their way to bars and restaurants.

But one place was already bustling and nearly full — Contrada.

It’s easy to see why. The Italian restaurant, which opened in January, is the kind of place that’s easy to go to and easy to like. On that Saturday, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, there were groups of hipster guys, families with toddlers, gal groups, and everything in between. It’s the kind of place you head to when you’re meeting friends for a casual night out or want an old-standby, where you know you’ll leave satisfied.

The long, slender restaurant boasts a walnut bar, antique mirrors and reclaimed wood panels on the walls that sort of look like a Jenga game gone wild. There’s a patio in the back, too, where you can dine al fresco on a nice summer night.

The bar area at the entrance.

The bar area at the entrance.

Artful reclaimed wood on the walls.

Artful reclaimed wood on the walls.

Chef Jason Tuley, late of TBD in San Francisco, and Picco Restaurant and Pizzeria in Larkspur, oversees the kitchen. The pastas are made in-house in the production room downstairs. And the pizzas cooked in the wood-fired Italian oven.

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Tahini — Going For A Sweet Spin

Tender, buttery shortbread made with tahini.

Tender, buttery shortbread made with tahini.

 

We use tahini liberally in hummus and salad dressings.

But why not take it for a spin in a sweet preparation?

After all, peanut butter swings both ways, in sweet and in savory dishes. With tahini being ground up sesame seeds, it has a beguiling nuttiness that also makes it quite versatile.

“Tahini Shortbread Cookies” does it justice in sandy, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery cookies that have the merest whisper of sweetness.

SoframizCookbook

The recipe is from “Soframiz” (Ten Speed Press, 2016) by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick of Sofra Bakery and Cafe in Cambridge, MA. Sortun, a James Beard “Best Chef in the Northeast” for Oleana restaurant in Cambridge, and Kilpatrick, who was named “Best Pastry Chef” by Boston magazine, showcase 100 recipes of both sweet and savory offerings at their popular modern Middle Eastern cafe.

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Let Michael Mina Jazz Up Your Backyard Burgers

Home-made bison burger flavored with the new Bourbon Pub burger seasoning.

Home-made bison burger flavored with the new Bourbon Pub burger seasoning.

 

Bay Area Chef Michael Mina has so many restaurants around the country now that I can hardly keep track of them all. Now, he’s bringing a taste of his Bourbon Pub in Santa Clara to your backyard barbecues with his new line of burger seasonings and relishes sold at Williams-Sonoma.

I had a chance to sample one of the seasonings, the Classic.

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Crunch-A-Licious Indian-Style Crisp Garlic Shrimp

These addictive shrimp are crisp enough to eat with your fingers.

These addictive shrimp are crisp enough to eat with your fingers.

 

If you’ve ever shied away from cooking Indian food at home, fearing a long list of ingredients not easily available at your neighborhood grocery store, this is the recipe for you.

“Crisp Garlic Shrimp” could not be easier.

Nor more delicious.

It is from the new “The Indian Cooking Course” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy.  The lavishly photographed, comprehensive cookbook is by Monisha Bharadwaj, who runs the Cooking With Monisha cooking school in London.

IndianCookingCourse

Inside, you’ll find a bevy of recipes that showcase the breadth of flavors from North to South, from “North Indian Chicken Biryani” to “Sindhi Pomegranate Chutney” to “South Indian Lentil and Milk Pudding.”

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