Search Results for: pistachio recall

Remember This Awesome Ricotta Pound Cake Recipe From Pastry Chef Gina DePalma?

The woman behind the best ricotta pound cake ever.

If you’ve ever baked it, you’ll never forget it. It’s that good.

And if you’ve loved eating it as much as I have, then you’ll want to help the wonderful woman who created it, who is now waging a battle against cancer.

Pastry Chef Gina DePalma of Babbo. (Photo courtesy of Gina DePalma)

The ultra talented, James Beard-award-winning Gina DePalma, the pastry chef of New York’s acclaimed Babbo, was diagnosed last year with ovarian cancer that had spread throughout her body. After surviving a nine-hour surgery last year that left her hospitalized for a month, as well as the ravages of six rounds of chemotherapy, her cancer is now in remission. But the 42-year-old is now fighting to regain her strength and health. She’s now only able to work part-time at Babbo.

“I alternate from being hopeful, and grateful that we caught this when we did, to being shocked and stunned that it happened to me,” DePalma says. “I get angry, sad, and truly terrified at what lies ahead. Getting cancer is an isolating experience, even if you are surrounded by as much love as I have been.”

She started a non-profit to help publicize her battle, and to help spread the word about this affliction, which claims so many women each year. Her Cowgirl Cure Foundation will be hosting a cocktail reception on May 18 at Jim Lahey’s New York pizza joint, Co., to benefit ovarian cancer research at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Tickets are $250 per person. Contact David Semanoff at dsemanoff@quinnandco.com for more information.

Beginning today, there also will be a benefit auction to raise funds for the medical center’s research. Among the items you can bid on are dinner for four at Babbo, and a dessert party for four at your house with DePalma. The auction will run for 10 days, so be sure to get your bids in now.

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A Delicious Visit to Pioneering Viks Chaat

An icon in Berkeley.

An icon in Berkeley.

 

Amod Chopra likes to joke that the arc of his family-owned Viks Chaat cafe and grocery in Berkeley is best symbolized by an old TV set.

When the original 200-square-foot cafe opened in 1989 at a time when few non-Asian-Indian-Americans were familiar with the tradition of chaat or snacks, his father, for whom the business is named, put a TV in the dining room.

In the beginning, when few customers came through the doors, Chopra remembers watching shows on that TV to while away the hours of boredom. But then something happened as word began to spread of the vibrant, chili-inflected, palate-popping puffs, crepes, breads and chutneys that could be enjoyed at bargain prices.

“We got busy. And we moved the TV to another room,” he recalls. “Then, when we got really busy, we got rid of the TV.”

That was then. This is now — when a startling 1,000 people or so dine here on a typical Saturday or Sunday.

Owner Amod Chopra, whose father Vik, started the business.

Owner Amod Chopra, whose father started the business.

Some have been regulars since the beginning. It’s a good bet that for many, Viks was their first taste of Indian food beyond the requisite curries. What started out as a wholesale grocery still supplies the majority of Indian restaurants in the Bay Area today, too.

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Apricots — In the Morning (Part 1)

Memories of dried apricots.

Whenever I bite down on a baked good bursting with orange flecks of sweet-tart, chewy dried apricots, I can’t help but think of family road trips.

It makes me think of a time, ensconced in the back seat of my parents’ car, when I’d get all giddy as we pulled into the parking lot of the original Nut Tree in Vacaville. It was the perfect spot to take a break on trips to Sacramento to visit family friends or to Lake Tahoe, where my family used to rent a cabin in the summer. You could fill up on lunch, beverages, or even take a mini train ride. What it meant most to me, though, was getting my hands on a loaf of apricot nut bread.

You’d find the tea cake loaves stacked on a counter, wrapped in paper and plastic, and tied with a fuzzy string of orange yarn the same color as the apricots. There was a date nut bread, and a blueberry one, too. But my family’s favorite was always the apricot.

We’d buy a loaf — or two — and carry it home, where we’d enjoy a slice for breakfast, dessert, or an anytime snack. It was tender, moist, crunchy with nuts, and bursting with tanginess here and there from the pieces of stone fruit. It’s remains my first — and fondest — memory of dried apricots.

Back then, a car trip was something special, as plane tickets for a working-class family of five were a stretch. I guess that’s why dried apricots inexplicably make me think not only of family, but of adventures and travel, sort of like my own edible Eurail pass.

The Nut Tree closed long ago. Although there’s now a Nut Tree Theme Park, I’ve never stopped at it. And I doubt the nut bread is still part of the repertoire.

Flaky, buttery apricot scones.

You could say that “Apricot Flaky Scones” from Flo Braker’s “Baking for All Occasions” (Chronicle Books) cookbook are not at all like a Nut Tree nut bread. They aren’t, except for the fact that they do have jewels of dried apricot pieces throughout a crispy exterior and a fluffy, buttery interior. They also have nuts — in this case, pistachios. Like my nut bread of yore, the scones also are not overly sweet, making them a nice way to start the day without an over-bearing load of sugar.

Braker gives precise directions for folding the dough into thirds like a business letter, so that the scones end up slightly puffed and layered inside. And they do. She says to cut them into thin, small wedges to create 14 scones. I like my scones a little wider, so I cut the dough into a dozen instead.

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