Of Strawberries and Sweet Memories

Strawberries get blanketed by a super crisp topping.

Strawberries get blanketed by a super crisp topping.

 

Strawberries hold a trove of memories for me.

Of whipped cream-slathered, fresh strawberry layer cakes that my Dad toted home from Chinatown bakeries for a special treat.

Of bowls of berries hidden by a mountain of aerosol-spurted whipped cream my parents would sometimes indulge us with for dessert in summer.

Of aching quads after my girlfriends and I once spent an afternoon at a u-pick, plucking our own super ripe, juicy berries from rows of lush, low-lying plants.

And of the consternation my older brother felt when he tried to grow them in our own backyard, only to have the bugs gnaw away at most of them.

But in many ways, one of the most profound remembrances I have is not of the berries themselves, but of the small, green crisscross plastic baskets they come in.

Strawberries from the farmers market in their iconic basket.

Strawberries from the farmers market in their iconic basket.

Whenever I bring the berries home now from the farmers markets and empty them out of of their containers, I can’t help but think of those baskets.

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BITE Silicon Valley, New Howie’s Artisan Pizza, and More

BiteSV

BITE Silicon Valley

Doesn’t it always seem like the cool food extravaganzas always bypass the South Bay and take place in San Francisco, Napa or Pebble Beach instead?

Not anymore.

Get ready for BITE Silicon Valley, June 5-7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

A brand-new event, it promises to showcase the intersection of food and tech in this booming, dynamic valley.

Of course, there will be a grand tasting, June 6 and June 7, with a plethora of the biggest-name chefs and wineries doling out gourmet tastes. Cooking, app and technology demos also will abound.

What’s more, on June 5, luminaries will gather at a conference to discuss such topics as: “What Are You Doing to Enable the Planet to Feed 9 Billion People”; “The Challenge of Food Waste”; “The Renewed Debate on GMOs”; and “The Story of Loco’l — Bringing Restaurants to Food Deserts.”

If you’re familiar with the latter, you know that’s the project by Coi’s Chef Daniel Patterson and Kogi Truck entrepreneur Roy Choi to revolutionize the fast-food burger industry by creating a model business that stresses good-for-you, affordable eats.

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Icelandic Yogurt — Oh, Yes!

Push aside the Greek. Make way for Icelandic yogurt. This one is full of shreds of coconut.

Push aside the Greek. Make way for Icelandic yogurt. This one is full of shreds of coconut.

 

Remember the first time you went gah-gah for Greek yogurt?

Then, prepare to go insane for the Icelandic style.

I admit I’d never had Icelandic yogurt (skyr) until recently when Petaluma’s Smari sent me samples to try.

In short, they blew my taste buds away.

Icelandic yogurt has been made for generations from nonfat milk that’s heated with a culture, then strained and strained again. Smari makes its from organic, grass-fed Jersey and Guernsey milk, which is thicker, richer and more nutrient-dense than most. While its original yogurts were made from skim milk, it recently introduced the first Icelandic-style yogurts made with whole milk.

What you notice with these yogurts is how exceedingly creamy and thick they are, especially the whole milk varieties. They’re the consistency of a decadent pudding.

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Yo, Yo, Yo — Fro-Yo at Home

Greek yogurt sorbet -- crazy easy to make.

Greek yogurt sorbet — crazy easy to make.

 

You may never trek outside to buy fro-yo again.

Not if you have an ice cream maker and this recipe for “Greek Yogurt Sorbet” from the new cookbook, “Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes For Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” (Ten Speed Press) by award-winning, veteran cookbook writer Janet Fletcher, of which I received a review copy.

The slender book not only includes directions for making your own yogurt and yogurt cheese at home, but 50 recipes for incorporating yogurt in just about everything. Enjoy it in “Cherry Tomato Raita” to “Chilled Golden Beet & Yogurt Soup” to “Orzo with Spicy Lamb, Chickpeas & Yogurt” to “Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce.”

Transforming store-bought Greek yogurt into an ice cream-like treat is ridiculously easy. Get out a big bowl, dump in the yogurt (whole milk, please), sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt; stir. That’s the extent of the heavy lifting.

No eggs are involved. No cooking, either. Just chill down the mixture either in an ice bath or in the refrigerator overnight. Then, spin in an ice cream maker. And prepare to go to town on it.

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Join the Food Gal and the Oaxacan Kitchen Mobile for A Macy’s Cooking Demo

MacysOaxacan

From the moment I tasted its lusty mole sauces and made-to-order, griddled corn tortillas, I fell in love with the Oaxacan Kitchen.

You will, too, when its founder Ron Kent joins me for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 6 p.m. May 7.

You may think you know Mexican food. But Oaxacan Kitchen — which has its own food truck that makes the rounds of the Peninsula, as well as food stands at local farmers markets — sets itself apart from the run-of-the-mill with its richly authentic flavors.

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