Nothing says “I love you” like a basket of fresh-baked muffins loaded with chocolate.
There are times when I con myself into thinking muffins are just a smidge healthful.
After all, if I choose one with bran or whole wheat or carrots or blueberries, it’s not so very bad, is it?
I mean, it’s not as indulgent as eating actual cake, right?
Yeah, with “Chocolate Chunk Muffins,” I’m not going to attempt to play that game.
That’s because there’s no getting around it. These muffins are rich, tender, and super chocolatey. They are like chocolate-chip cookies in muffin form.
And they’re every bit as good as that sounds.
Just pickle it. Persimmons, that is.
This is one of those home-made treats that makes people take notice.
It adds just a little something special to a charcuterie or cheese platter. And it makes for an eye-opening host/hostess gift.
Now’s the time to get acquainted with “Pickled Persimmons.”
I shamelessly admit I got the idea for making these from Chef Bradley Ogden when I recently dined at his new Bradley’s Fine Diner in Menlo Park. His pickled persimmons accompanied slabs of country pate. The duo together was so good I practically couldn’t stop eating it.
I learned from Ogden only that he used vinegar and Fuyu persimmons (the squat variety that can be enjoyed while still crunchy unlike the Haichiya type that must be eaten only when squishy ripe).
Yigit Pura’s sublime cake that’s flavored with warm spices and nuts.
There’s no shame in going simple. Not even during the holidays.
Take this lovely cake, for instance.
“Spiced Hazelnut-Almond Mirliton Cake” is the easiest cake recipe in San Francisco Pastry Chef Yigit Pura’s repertoire. But that doesn’t mean it’s not special.
On the contrary, it’s everything you want in a cake — moist, airy and delicately fragrant. It’s a most elegant, light spice cake imbued with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and citrus zest. It’s also gluten-free, owing to the fact that it’s made with hazelnut and almond flours, which are roasted in the oven to really bring out their wonderful nuttiness.
The recipe is from Pura’s debut cookbook, “Sweet Alchemy” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.
Would you believe this is gluten-free?
Pura, the inaugural winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” and the owner of San Francisco’s Tout Sweet patisserie, has created a book that builds on the fundamentals as you go along. Learn how to make Citrus-Scented Panna Cotta and Blood Orange, Grapefruit & Campari Gelee. Then combine both in a gorgeously layered Negroni Creamsicle. Learn how to make a basic Crepe Cake. Then add on Vietnamese Cinnamon Brittle, Butterscotch Sauce, Orange Flower Water Diplomat Cream and Bosc Pears Roasted in Caramel & Indian Spices to create the knock-out Layered Crepe Cake Brulee.
One way I enjoy fresh cranberries at this time of year.
The first time I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my family about a dozen years ago, I made cranberry sauce from scratch.
It was my first time doing so. And my last.
I simmered fresh cranberries with orange zest, sugar and a dash of Cointreau, until the berries started to plump and pop, and the whole mixture thickened nicely.
It was fresher, zingier and more lively tasting than anything out of a can. When I set it on the table, I sat back proudly, waiting for everyone to dig in.
Everyone tried it. Then, everyone asked pretty much in unison, “Uh, where’s the stuff from the can?”
And that is why I have never made it again.
Sweet potatoes make this cake really moist.
Imagine a holiday cake that’s rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and beta-carotene.
OK, so it does have chocolate chips, too. Plus a wicked chocolate-coffee glaze.
“Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake” has all that going for it and more. After all, it’s the creation of Chef Tanya Holland, who’s famed for her soulful comfort food at her Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland.
This cake is from her new cookbook, “Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes From Sweet West Oakland” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. It was written with former San Francisco Magazine editor Jan Newberry.
You’ll find all your Brown Sugar Kitchen favorites here, including Holland’s legendary Cornmeal Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. All in all, you’ll find more than 80 recipes from everything from Creole Gazpacho to Smoked Buttered Rum. What’s really special about this book, though, is its sense of place. Holland’s restaurant is an intrinsic part of this West Oakland neighborhood. The book celebrates the people that make this area what it is by including profiles of its entrepreneurs, musicians and community leaders.