Corny Cookies

Baking with corn nuts. Who would have ever thunk it? Mindy Segal, that's who.

Baking with corn nuts. Who would have ever thunk it? Mindy Segal, that’s who.

 

Lugging a backpack full of textbooks in middle school, while walking to the bus stop after class, and suffering from a serious case of the munchies.

That’s truly the last time I think I’ve bought corn nuts.

Until now, that is.

Leave it to Pastry Chef Mindy Segal to get me to venture into a nearby 7-Eleven for the sole purpose of buying corn nuts.

But her recipe for “Corn Nut Cornmeal Shortbread” captivated me so much, I just had to do it.

The recipe is from her cookbook, “Cookie Love” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

CookieLove

A James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, Segal is the proprietor of HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Chicago. The book was written in conjunction with Kate Leahy, a San Francisco food writer and recipe developer.

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Heavenly Hummus

Miso makes this hummus something special.

Miso makes this hummus something special.

 

There are few things I’m fanatical about.

Hummus happens to be one of them.

It all started when I tried the one at Oren’s Hummus Shop in Palo Alto. It took awhile, though, since the small cafe always has a line out the door, no matter what time of day or night. But it also has tubs of hummus to grab-and-go at a refrigerator case.

After one taste, I was hooked for life. And no other hummus would do.

That’s because Oren’s hummus is the smoothest, creamiest version ever. It’s like the creme brulee of hummus. And I can eat it by the spoonful — non-stop.

The Palo Alto shop, as well as the second one in downtown Mountain View, was opened by start-up investor Oren Dobronsky, who is so finicky about his hummus that he imports the garbanzo beans from Israel.

So, when I spied a recipe for “Hummus with White Miso,” I was intrigued, but dubious. Intrigued, because I wondered what the addition of miso would impart. And dubious, well, because how could it be better than the hummus at Oren’s?

Seven Spoons

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Seven Spoons” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It was written by Tara O’Brady, a celebrated food blogger in Canada.

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Farm Hill: A Meal Delivery Service Targeting the South Bay

The Classic Chicken entree from Farm Hill.

The Classic Chicken entree from Farm Hill.

 

Every time I turn around these days, a new startup is popping up to deliver either cooking kits or prepared meals to your home or office.

Almost all of them, though, zero in on San Francisco first, before spreading to other parts of the Bay Area.

Not so with Farm Hill.

The founders, Marc Manara and Mark Wittman, who got the idea for the business while students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, started the service first in the South Bay. They wisely deduced that in urban centers like San Francisco, it’s fairly easy to walk out the door to find a tasty lunch close by. But in more suburban areas, going for lunch often means getting in the car to drive a few miles for sustenance.

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Great Cheap Eats in Los Angeles

Finally -- the elusive fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man!

Finally — the elusive fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man!

 

On a recent trip down to Los Angeles, I had a chance to try some new favorite eats. All satisfying. All affordable, too. The best kind, don’t you, think?

Donut Nirvana

I’d heard about it, seen pics online and salivated over it on the Food Network. But try as I might, I never seemed to be in Los Angeles at the right time of year to snag a fresh strawberry donut at The Donut Man in Glendora.

Until this trip.

Let me tell you, it was definitely worth the wait and lived up to all the hype.

Imagine a fresh brioche donut split in half, then stuffed to the gills with fresh, juicy whole strawberries that have been macerated in just a smidge of syrup.

What I love is that it’s not overly sweet at all, thanks to the fact that the donut, itself, is not glazed. As a result, the flavor of the berries shine through.

It’s sort of like strawberry shortcake. Only better.

Of course, after making the drive, you've got to get more than one donut. You've got to get a box-load.

Of course, after making the drive, you’ve got to get more than one donut. You’ve got to get a box-load.

A beloved institution for more than 40 years, The Donut Man is sort of in the middle of nowhere. It’s essentially a humble kiosk with a walk-up window in a parking lot shared by a martial arts school, of all things.

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity, do make the drive.

Now, if I can only make it back one later in the summer when the fresh peach donut is available. Yes, same as the strawberry one, but with fresh slices of yellow peaches instead. That’s definitely worth making a return trip.

Grand Central Market is Plenty Grand

Think the Ferry Building in San Francisco — but a version that keeps it a little more real.

That’s Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, a market arcade that originally opened in 1917, but was infused with new life two years ago.

Sure, there are upscale food vendors now such as Belcampo Meat Co., and Bombo, esteemed Chef Mark Peel’s seafood-centric cafe.

Inside Grand Central Market.

Inside Grand Central Market.

But there are also old-school, ethnic outposts such as China Cafe, which dishes up chop suey and egg fo yeung; Valeria’s, which offers a well-stocked Latin pantry of items, including fresh mole pastes to take home to cook with; and La Casa Verde, a large produce market with very down-to-earth prices.

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Porking Out on Father’s Day

Pork loin gets all pretty and tasty with a profusion of fresh orange slices.

Pork loin gets all pretty and tasty with a profusion of fresh orange slices.

 

My Dad never met a piece of pork he didn’t like.

Chinese char siu cut into itty-bits and scrambled with eggs for breakfast.

Lacquered pork ribs from Chinatown to gnaw on blissfully until they were picked clean.

A big ham he’d stud with cloves and bake with rings of pineapple for Christmas dinner.

And neatly tied roasts brushed with soy sauce and honey, purposely big enough to allow for leftover slices to stuff into sandwiches packed for lunch the next day.

It’s been seven years since my Dad passed away. But every time I enjoy an exceptional porky meal, I can’t help but think of him.

Chef Charlie Palmer’s “Pork Loin with Oranges” is a dish I know he would have loved. My Dad wasn’t into fancy. While this dish isn’t pretentious, it’s pretty enough to be a party plate for a special celebration, yet easy enough to prepare for an every day meal.

It’s unfussy — just a generous pork loin roasted gently with an abundance of onion and fresh orange slices until the tangy citrus marries with the sweetness of the meat in perfect harmony.

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