Category Archives: General

Test-Driving (And Cooking) Sun Basket

I made this for dinner from a Sun Basket cooking kit.

I made this for dinner from a Sun Basket cooking kit.

 

There are enough meal delivery start-ups these days to make your head spin and your stomach growl over just which are worth ordering — if any.

When I was invited to try out a free delivery by San Francisco’s Sun Basket, I was swayed to do so by a couple of factors.

First, the recipes for the cooking kits were developed by Justine Kelly, former executive chef at The Slanted Door in San Francisco. Second, the quality of ingredients is impressive. The kits include organic, seasonal ingredients from highly regarded purveyors such as Dirty Girl, Far West Funghi, Water 2 Table, and Marin Sun.

Sun Basket was founded by Adam Zbar, a serial entrepreneur who found himself 50 pounds overweight from binging on burgers and pizza like so many young techies. That led him to develop meal kits that would make it easier for busy people to cook nutritious dinners at home.

All you do is go on the site a week ahead of time to order your weekly delivery, which consists of three different meals that you choose from Sun Basket’s menu. Each recipe is designed to take about 30 minutes to prepare, and has 500 to 800 calories per serving. There are also gluten-free, paleo and vegetarian options. Each meal is $9.99 per person.

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Corny Cookies

Baking with corn nuts. Who would have ever thunk it? Mindy Segal, that's who.

Baking with corn nuts. Who would have ever thunk it? Mindy Segal, that’s who.

 

Lugging a backpack full of textbooks in middle school, while walking to the bus stop after class, and suffering from a serious case of the munchies.

That’s truly the last time I think I’ve bought corn nuts.

Until now, that is.

Leave it to Pastry Chef Mindy Segal to get me to venture into a nearby 7-Eleven for the sole purpose of buying corn nuts.

But her recipe for “Corn Nut Cornmeal Shortbread” captivated me so much, I just had to do it.

The recipe is from her cookbook, “Cookie Love” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

CookieLove

A James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Segal is the proprietor of HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Chicago. The book was written in conjunction with Kate Leahy, a San Francisco food writer and recipe developer.

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Heavenly Hummus

Miso makes this hummus something special.

Miso makes this hummus something special.

 

There are few things I’m fanatical about.

Hummus happens to be one of them.

It all started when I tried the one at Oren’s Hummus Shop in Palo Alto. It took awhile, though, since the small cafe always has a line out the door, no matter what time of day or night. But it also has tubs of hummus to grab-and-go at a refrigerator case.

After one taste, I was hooked for life. And no other hummus would do.

That’s because Oren’s hummus is the smoothest, creamiest version ever. It’s like the creme brulee of hummus. And I can eat it by the spoonful — non-stop.

The Palo Alto shop, as well as the second one in downtown Mountain View, was opened by start-up investor Oren Dobronsky, who is so finicky about his hummus that he imports the garbanzo beans from Israel.

So, when I spied a recipe for “Hummus with White Miso,” I was intrigued, but dubious. Intrigued, because I wondered what the addition of miso would impart. And dubious, well, because how could it be better than the hummus at Oren’s?

Seven Spoons

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Seven Spoons” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It was written by Tara O’Brady, a celebrated food blogger in Canada.

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Farm Hill: A Meal Delivery Service Targeting the South Bay

The Classic Chicken entree from Farm Hill.

The Classic Chicken entree from Farm Hill.

 

Every time I turn around these days, a new startup is popping up to deliver either cooking kits or prepared meals to your home or office.

Almost all of them, though, zero in on San Francisco first, before spreading to other parts of the Bay Area.

Not so with Farm Hill.

The founders, Marc Manara and Mark Wittman, who got the idea for the business while students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, started the service first in the South Bay. They wisely deduced that in urban centers like San Francisco, it’s fairly easy to walk out the door to find a tasty lunch close by. But in more suburban areas, going for lunch often means getting in the car to drive a few miles for sustenance.

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Great Cheap Eats in Los Angeles

Finally -- the elusive fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man!

Finally — the elusive fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man!

 

On a recent trip down to Los Angeles, I had a chance to try some new favorite eats. All satisfying. All affordable, too. The best kind, don’t you, think?

Donut Nirvana

I’d heard about it, seen pics online and salivated over it on the Food Network. But try as I might, I never seemed to be in Los Angeles at the right time of year to snag a fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man in Glendora.

Until this trip.

Let me tell you, it was definitely worth the wait and lived up to all the hype.

Imagine a fresh brioche donut split in half, then stuffed to the gills with fresh, juicy whole strawberries that have been macerated in just a smidge of syrup.

What I love is that it’s not overly sweet at all, thanks to the fact that the donut, itself, is not glazed. As a result, the flavor of the berries shine through.

It’s sort of like strawberry shortcake. Only better.

Of course, after making the drive, you've got to get more than one donut. You've got to get a box-load.

Of course, after making the drive, you’ve got to get more than one donut. You’ve got to get a box-load.

A beloved institution for more than 40 years, The Donut Man is sort of in the middle of nowhere. It’s essentially a humble kiosk with a walk-up window in a parking lot shared by a martial arts school, of all things.

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity, do make the drive.

Now, if I can only make it back one later in the summer when the fresh peach donut is available. Yes, same as the strawberry one, but with fresh slices of yellow peaches instead. That’s definitely worth making a return trip.

Grand Central Market is Plenty Grand

Think the Ferry Building in San Francisco — but a version that keeps it a little more real.

That’s Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, a market arcade that originally opened in 1917, but was infused with new life two years ago.

Sure, there are upscale food vendors now such as Belcampo Meat Co., and Bombo, esteemed Chef Mark Peel’s seafood-centric cafe.

Inside Grand Central Market.

Inside Grand Central Market.

But there are also old-school, ethnic outposts such as China Cafe, which dishes up chop suey and egg fo yeung; Valeria’s, which offers a well-stocked Latin pantry of items, including fresh mole pastes to take home to cook with; and La Casa Verde, a large produce market with very down-to-earth prices.

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