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Scenes From the Food Gal’s Cooking Demo At Macy’s Union Square

Wednesday, 29. June 2011 5:25

Yours truly with Chef Earl Shaddix of All-Clad. (Photo courtesy of Barry and Eva Jan)

It was an unbelievable standing room-only crowd a couple of Saturday afternoons ago at Macy’s Union Square San Francisco, when I did my first cooking demo ever.

Chef Earl Shaddix of All-Clad was on hand to act as host and assistant, when I demonstrated how to make my late-Mom’s one and only tomato beef chow mein.

The event was crazy fun. It was a blast. And it was downright exhausting. I was so pooped that I joked to some of my cookbook-author friends afterward that I don’t know how they do these all the time without keeling over.

The day was a total whirlwind. The event started at 2 p.m., but I got there two hours earlier in order to make two batches of the dish ahead of time to ensure there was plenty for samples and to prep for the third batch, which I would make in front of the audience. From the second I got there, it was non-stop chopping, peeling, stirring and talking — until I finally left the store at 4 p.m. to go back home. Whew!

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Category:Asian Recipes, Enticing Events, General, Ginger, More Food Gal -- In Person | Comments (27) | Author:

Bakesale Betty Cookie Mix

Wednesday, 4. May 2011 5:25

Bakesale Betty's ginger molasses cookies to bake at home.

The good news is that you no longer have to brave the humongous lines if you want a Bakesale Betty ginger molasses cookie.

The bad news is that you still will if you want Betty’s famous fried chicken sandwich.

That’s because blue-wigged Betty, aka owner Allison Barakat, has now packaged her popular cookie in a mix that you can buy to make at home. The Ginger Molasses cookie mix is sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma stores. It won’t be available on the store’s Web site until the fall, though.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, General, Ginger, Great Finds, New Products | Comments (16) | Author:

Take Five with Pastry Chef Rodney Cerdan of the Village Pub, On His Candy-Filled Childhood

Thursday, 14. April 2011 5:26

Rodney Cerdan, executive pastry chef of the Village Pub, who is never far away from a good cookie.

Rodney Cerdan is a very dangerous man.

If left to his own devices, he will ply you with chocolate honey mousse cake, peanut butter brownie bars with fluffs of toasted marshmallow, chewy almond cookies and bags of homemade sticky caramels to no surrender.

He can’t help himself. As executive pastry chef of the Village Pub in Woodside, Cerdan, 33, has been baking since he was 7, when he’d commandeer his Mom’s toaster oven before taking on the full-size one.

After stints at Roy’s Restaurant in San Francisco, Delessio’s Market in Bakery in San Francisco, and Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop in San Francisco, Cerdan took over the head pastry job at the Village Pub in October 2010.

Recently, I had a chance to try a sampling of his newest desserts (about $10 each) on the house that reference homey favorites, but have been reborn with contemporary flair. They included a fluffy, airy chocolate honey mousse cake with spicy ginger ice cream; and a Meyer lemon pudding cake with an ethereal texture made all the more luxurious with dollops of lush white chocolate.

Cerdan's chocolate honey mousse cake with ginger ice cream and ginger chocolate bark.

Cerdan, who is of Spanish-Basque and El Salvadoran heritages, joined me at the table to chat about his failed attempt at an acting career, what it was like to grow up with a mom who worked at See’s Candies, and what his all-time favorite dessert is.

Q: Your Mom wrapped candies at See’s. That must be every kid’s fantasy, right?

A: She used to bring home 10-pound boxes. The fruit-filled chocolates were always my favorite. I used to take a knife to the bottom of each candy until I found the ones that I was looking for.

I got pretty good at identifying them just by sight. But it’s been awhile. I’m not sure I could do it now. I’d have to brush up on it.

Q: When you were 7 years old, you wanted an Easy-Bake oven?

A: Yes, but I couldn’t have one. But I found that the toaster oven was better. There was none of that pushing a tiny pan under a light bulb.

I would grab a box of Bisquick and make all the recipes. Then, I’d make my own coffee cakes and pigs in a blanket. I made my own pasta at 9.

I’d watch all the PBS cooking shows, especially Julia Child and ‘Yan Can Cook.’

Q: So was this how your love for baking started?

A: My Mom would come home smelling of chocolate and vanilla. That pretty much did it. (laughs)

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Category:"Take Five'' Q&A, Chefs, Chocolate, Fruit, General, Ginger, Restaurants | Comments (14) | Author:

Meaty Memories

Wednesday, 2. March 2011 5:25

My Dad taught me to love this unconventional cut of beef.

Oxtails.

The name alone may make some people blanch.

But to me, the tail never fails to get me in the heart.

You see, oxtails were the very last dish that I cooked for my Dad before he passed away. And so, they always make me think of him.

He’s the one who taught me true appreciation for this once-shunned, once-inexpensive cut that has such brazen beefiness.

If you like short ribs, you’re sure to go crazy for oxtails, which cook up even more tender with even more profound flavor. You can find them easily in the butcher case of Asian markets.

Sure, there’s more cartilage and bone in oxtails. But that’s what adds to their flavor and makes eating them such messy fun.

My Dad would cook up a cavernous pot on weekends, simmering the cut-up oxtails with star anise, soy sauce and ginger in a brothy cross between a soup and a stew. He’d throw in carrots and turnips, then let the pot simmer for hours until the meat was as tender as can be.

Then, he’d ladle big scoops of it into flat bowls filled with fluffy steamed rice, with the grains absorbing the aromatic broth so perfectly.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General, Ginger, Meat, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (24) | Author:

Gingery Sips

Friday, 11. February 2011 5:29

Three new ginger ales by former Bay Area chef, Bruce Cost.

Long-time Bay Area foodies probably remember the addicting fresh ginger ale served at the now-shuttered restaurants, Monsoon in San Francisco, Ginger Island in Berkeley and Ginger Club in Palo Alto.

Now, Bruce Cost, the chef and proprietor of those restaurants, has finally bottled that fizzy goodness. His “Fresh Ginger, Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost” says it all. The soda is made with cane sugar and fresh, whole ginger. In fact, you can see bits of actual ginger root floating in the soda, which is left unfiltered.

Cost, who went on to start the Big Bowl and Wow Bao restaurants in Chicago, brews and bottles the ginger ale in Brooklyn.

The ginger ale comes in three varieties: “Original,” “Pomegranate with Hibiscus,” and “Jasmine Green Tea.” A 12-ounce bottle has 160 calories.

The "Original'' with lovely bits of ginger floating in it.

The “Origiinal” has nice heat with balanced sweetness. There’s a real purity of ginger flavor here. The “Pomegrantate with Hibiscus” has the most subtle ginger flavor of the three varieties. It’s a beautiful ruby color, too. My favorite was the “Jasmine Green Tea,” which is infused with whole leaf green jasmine tea from Taiwan. The warm spiciness of the ginger is a wonderful match for the floral, slightly tannic notes. It’s a memorable sip, indeed.

It’s now being served at restaurants such as the Slanted Door in San Francisco, and is available for about $2 per 12-ounce bottle at select Bay Area Whole Foods, Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and the Pasta Shop in Oakland and Berkeley, where I bought a bottle of each to try recently.

Another refreshing ginger beverage is Fentiman’s Ginger Beer. Made with ginger root extract, it has a more medicinal taste than the Bruce Cost beverage, as well as a faint citrus note.

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Category:General, Ginger, New Products | Comments (19) | Author: