Category Archives: General

Butterscotch and Fudge Brownie Bars — For Times When You Can’t Decide

A chocolate brownie and a butterscotch blondie all in one bite.

A chocolate brownie and a butterscotch blondie all in one bite.

 

When it comes to switching jobs, breaking up with a significant other, moving to a new city or other countless life decisions we hesitate to make, how many of us have gotten out pencil and paper to make the proverbial pros and cons list?

Hands, please.

I know I have. Plenty of times.

It always helps. Even if I’m often startled to see how lopsided the count ends up being.

Thankfully, there are times when you don’t have to choose one over another. It’s rare. But occasionally, you can enjoy the best of both worlds without having to wrack your brain to take a side.

“Butterscotch and Fudge Brownie Bars” is just such a case.

Do I want a brownie? Or do I want a butterscotch blondie?

Hmm. Why not indulge in both?

With this recipe, you get exactly that. It’s a fudgy brownie on top of a sweet blondie. It’s two treats in one — in every single bite.

The recipe is from the oldie but goodie cookbook, “The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook” (Chronicle Books, 2008), of which I received a review copy when it was first published, and has since had a prominent place on my bookshelf.

essential chocolate chip cookbook

It’s by longtime food writer and cookbook author Elinor Klivans. And it includes every type of chocolate chip treat under the sun — from “Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies” to “Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cream Tart” to “Hot Chocolate Chip Brownie Sundae Cake.” Is it any wonder that I’ve kept this book so long?

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An Expanded Menu At Saffron Indian Bistro

Filled semolina puffs at Saffron Indian Bistro.

Filled semolina puffs at Saffron Indian Bistro.

 

If Michelin one-starred Rasa in Burlingame is the glam, attention-getting younger sister, then Saffron Indian Bistro in San Carlos is the dependable, dutiful older sister.

Before opening Rasa in 2014 to universal acclaim, restaurateur Ajay Walia debuted his first restaurant, Saffron in 2002.

It’s been quite a few years since I last ate at Saffron. But when I was invited in as a guest recently, I had a chance to see its evolution.

It still specializes in North Indian dishes. But the restaurant has definitely upped its game in the presentations. No doubt younger sibling Rasa had an influence in that.

Easy to get to on San Carlos Ave.

Easy to get to on San Carlos Ave.

The dining room was nearly full later on that night. A steady stream of to-go food was picked up by patrons, too.

The dining room was nearly full later on that night. A steady stream of to-go food was picked up by patrons, too.

Moreover, three years ago, the dining room got a refresh. Before it was rather utilitarian. Now, the lights are dimmer, creating a warmer vibe. The walls are painted crimson and gold, and a contemporary chandelier casts a glow.

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Delicate Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes

These delicate Japanese cakes have a wonderfully nutty taste.

These delicate Japanese cakes have a wonderfully nutty taste.

 

I’ve been intrigued by kinako ever since I first experienced its unique taste.

Take soybeans, roast them, then grind into a fine powder. What you get is this golden Japanese flour that has a roasty-toasty character with a whisper of sweetness. It tastes like a cross between chestnuts, barley tea and maple syrup.

You might blanch at eating flour right out of the bag. But with kinako, you can. In fact, it’s often used to garnish desserts, such as by sprinkling on shave ice or as a coating to roll mochi balls or chocolate truffles in. It also can be incorporated into the batter and dough of cakes, cookies, and another baked goods.

Find it on the shelves in small bags at Japanese markets, then give it a try in these cute little unfrosted cupcakes.

Roasted soy bean flour known as kinako.

Roasted soy bean flour known as kinako.

“Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes” is from the new cookbook, “Cook Japanese At Home” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Kyoto-born Kimiko Barber, who teaches Japanese cooking and is the author of a handful of other Japanese cookbooks.

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A Wonderfully Crabby Time in Oregon

 

Newport, OR. — Dungeness crab would surely be part of my last meal, if I was given a choice. Sweet, fluffy, and succulent, it beats lobster any day in my book.

Though I’ve enjoyed it countless times, I’ve never fished for it.

Until now.

On a recent trip to the lovely central coast of Oregon, my fellow food writers and I, who were guests of Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, were treated to our own private excursion through Yaquina Bay aboard the family-owned Marine Discovery Tours boat.

On a picturesque 70-degree morning, we boarded and set sail. Just be forewarned that the waters can get choppy the farther out you go. But none in our party — even a few who were extremely prone to motion sickness — were done in by the effects.

The dock area in Newport.

The dock area in Newport.

All aboard!

All aboard!

You may be richly rewarded for braving the waters, too. We saw whales. Well, at least their blow holes, if not their tails breaking the waves. Still, it made for an unforgettable moment.

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A Visit to Jacobsen Salt Co.

Jacobsen Zinfandel salt, made with Clif Family wine.

Jacobsen Zinfandel salt, made with Clif Family wine.

 

Netart, OR. — Would you believe the artisan salts that have taken the chef world by storm are made in this bare-bones facility?

Jacobsen Salt, the first company thought to harvest salt in the Pacific Northwest since Lewis & Clark, is beloved by such acclaimed chefs as Matthew Accarrino of SPQR in San Francisco, April Bloomfield of New York’s The Spotted Pig and The Breslin, and Chris Cosentino of Cockscomb in San Francisco, Acacia House in St. Helena, and Jackrabbit in Portland.

They love its big, light, crunchy flakes that have a clean, pureness of flavor.

The shed where the salt water from the bay is boiled.

The shed where the salt water from the bay is boiled.

Netarts Bay is just steps away.

Netarts Bay is just steps away.

Twelve employees run this operation 24-7 to produce 16,000 pounds of salt a month.

Although Jacobsen’s facility is not usually open to the public, Tom Gibson, director of coast operations for the company, was happy to give a tour to our small group of media a few weeks ago.

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