Category Archives: General

Pickle Nostalgia and A Food Gal Giveaway with Ball Canning

Pickling my way to savored memories.

Pickling my way to savored memories.

 

When I was a kid growing up in my parents’ San Francisco home, there were two refrigerators — the main one in the kitchen, and an auxiliary one downstairs in the garage.

It was the latter one that was filled with extra provisions — tubs of tofu, cartons of orange juice, and big glass jars of pickles.

My Mom’s pickles.

She would save big glass jars and reuse them, packing them with cauliflower florets, slices of carrots, and stems of mustard greens. She’d pour in hot white vinegar diluted with a little water and mixed with a few mustard seeds, bay leaves and peppercorns, before capping the jars, and storing them in that refrigerator.

As the days and weeks went on, we’d enjoy the pickles of her labor. Their snap and tang would jazz up simple green salads or sandwiches. But often, I’d just fish out a few pieces to eat solo for an entirely satisfying snack.

So when Jarden Home Brands, maker of the Ball brand of home-canning products, sent me its “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving” (Oxmoor House), I leafed through the more than 350 recipes, and came to a halt at one in particular.

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Mosu Blossoms on Fillmore Street

Chef Sung Anh in his kitchen at Mosu.

Chef Sung Anh in his kitchen at Mosu.

 

Chef Sung Anh had no idea the trajectory of his career would change when Corey Lee sat down in front of his station at the sushi bar at the illustrious Urasawa in Beverly Hills.

Anh, who was born in Seoul and had already cooked at Water Grill in Los Angeles, had begun as a dishwasher at that kaiseki temple and worked his way through every position, including reservationist before becoming sous chef there.

He admired Lee, also Seoul-born, who had made his mark as the head chef of the French Laundry in Yountville before striking out on his own to open the acclaimed Benu in San Francisco.

“I joked to him that I wanted to be more than a sushi chef,” Anh recalls. “I wanted to wear a white chef’s coat.”

And he did. Thanks to Lee’s encouragement, Anh joined the French Laundry as chef de partie for two years before becoming chef de cuisine of Aziza in San Francisco. In late February, he took his biggest step yet — opening his own restaurant, Mosu in San Francisco’s Fillmore District.

The name is derived from “cosmos” (pronounced co-so-mo-su), vibrant Korean flowers that Anh fondly remembers from his childhood.

Tuna belly and monkfish liver rolled up in kombu and daikon.

Tuna belly and monkfish liver rolled up in kombu and daikon.

It’s a tiny (only 18 seats), very personal restaurant, as I discovered when I was invited in as a guest a couple weeks ago. It’s also by reservation-only. Which is good, because it’s unlikely passersby would come in otherwise, because the restaurant is behind a massive, unmarked wood door. You have no idea what is behind it just by looking at it. Anh explains that he designed it that way to play up the themes of simplicity, modesty, intimacy and mystery.

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The Joys of Summer Salmon

A fun, delicious dish that makes the most of pricey wild King salmon.

A fun, delicious dish that makes the most of pricey wild King salmon.

 

One of the true great pleasures of summer is indulging in local King salmon.

Rich, oily, luscious and deep pinkish-red in color, it’s my favorite fish.

When an assignment took me to Half Moon Bay, I tossed a cooler in the back of my car in hopes of scoring some fresh catch to take home.

I stopped in at Princeton Seafood Company, intent on buying a few fillets. But I walked out with an entire California King salmon instead. At first, the $150 or so total price tag for the nearly 8-pound fish made me gulp. But when you consider that local wild salmon fillets sell for upwards of $28 a pound there and at farmers markets, paying $19 per pound for the entire fish really made more sense, especially if you can’t get enough of salmon like me.

At Princeton Seafood, the friendly fish monger will scale the fish and cut it up however you like. I asked for fillets, skin-on, and for all the bones, too. After all, crispy salmon skin is a true treat to nibble on. I know some people can’t be bothered with the bones, but trust me, they are a trove of meat.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Hector Figueroa of Pintxo Pote for A Cooking Demo

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Fall in love with the flavors of Basque-Spanish cuisine when Chef Chef Hector Figueroa of the delightful Pintxo Pote in Los Gatos joins me for a cooking demo, 2 p.m. July 24 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

Pintxo Pote specializes in authentic tapas, particularly those traditionally served in the seaside city of San Sebastian, Spain. These delectable small plates are meant for sharing with alongside glasses of Spanish wine.

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Big City-Eats At Small-Town Rancho Nicasio

The stunning rabbit liver appetizer at the Western Room inside Rancho Nicasio.

The stunning rabbit liver appetizer at the Western Room inside Rancho Nicasio.

 

You’ll be excused if you’ve never been to Rancho Nicasio in Marin before.

The out-of-the-way roadhouse and live music venue may not have been on most people’s radar before. But it sure is now.

That’s because about four months ago, it added a new chef.

Not just any chef. But Ron Siegel, former executive chef of Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco, who previously headed Masa’s in San Francisco and Charles Nob Hill in San Francisco. And the first American-born chef to beat an Iron Chef on the original Japanese TV cooking competition.

Chef Max Brown who has been at Rancho Nicasio for 18 years since his father Bob Brown, former manager of Pablo Cruise and Huey Lewis & The News, bought the property is still there. He still oversees the main dining room and the massive backyard barbecue festivities.

The unassuming facade of Rancho Nicasio.

The unassuming facade of Rancho Nicasio, built in 1941.

The Western Room.

The Western Room.

But Siegel now serves up an entirely separate menu in the Western Room inside the rustic Rancho Nicasio.

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