Delectable Stocking Stuffers and Host/Hostess Gifts

Studded with candied citrus peel, Emporio Rulli panettone is always a treat.

Studded with candied citrus peel, Emporio Rulli panettone is always a treat.

For The Holiday Sweet Tooth

Nothing says Christmas like a fluffy, buttery, sweet panettone.

And nobody makes them as irresistible as the Bay Area’s Emporio Rulli.

Chef Gary Rulli makes this 16th century Italian specialty in the time-honored tradition.

The Panettone Milanese, which I had a chance to sample, is made with plenty of butter, egg yolks, golden raisins, acacia honey, and Italian candied orange and citron peels. It’s yeasty bread meets cake.

Enjoy a big wedge on its own, or toasted and smeared with butter or jam, or as the foundation for an over-the-top bread pudding or French toast.

Rulli only makes them at this time of year. So don’t miss out. A small is $23.95; a large is $29.50.

For The Outdoor Enthusiast

If you thought Patagonia only made outdoor clothing and gear, you’re in for a surprise with its Patagonia Provisions, a line of food products made to be enjoyed on-the-go. I had a chance to sample a few.

The “Wild Sockeye Salmon, Lemon Pepper” comes in a shelf-stable package. The salmon is rich and meaty tasting, and not overwhelmed by a heavy-hand of smokiness.

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A Slurping Good Time at Myzen Ramen

The signature Myzen Ramen bowl.

The signature Myzen Ramen bowl.

 

Owner Sterling Zhuang knows that people may wonder what a Chinese guy is doing opening a Japanese ramen restaurant.

But Zhuang spent six months living in Tokyo, learning the finer points of ramen from a Japanese friend, before opening Myzen Ramen in Sunnyvale this summer. He also hired an all-Japanese crew for his kitchen.

The results?

One top-notch ramen establishment. And that’s saying a lot, given the plethora of ramen places in the South Bay.

I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently. I took along my Japanese-American husband, who of course, was quite skeptical at the start. But in the end, he was won over, having eaten his words, and a whole lot more.

Lone diners can sit at the bar that fronts the kitchen.

Lone diners can sit at the bar that fronts the kitchen.

The brightly-lit dining room has tables packed close together. But you understand why when you see the lines at lunch-time. At dinner on a weeknight, the place was still nearly full.

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Saluting Sunchokes (With A Caveat)

Get to know sunchokes.

Get to know sunchokes.

 

They look like the love child of ginger and potatoes.

They taste deliciously nutty, sweet and a bit artichoke-like, and have a a texture akin to a creamier water chestnut.

Do you know sunchokes?

These knobby tubers are also known as Jerusalem artichokes.

They’re a pain to peel, as you can imagine. They’re also not easy to find in stores. I’ve bought them at Sprouts and Draeger’s in the past.

And for some people, unfortunately, they are not easy to digest. In fact, their nickname is, um, “fartichokes.” You can read more about that in this enlightening — and slightly amusing — Bon Appetit article.

If you’re trying them for the first time, you probably want to go easy on how many you eat just to see how well your body takes to them.

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Hammy Holidays, Plus A Snake River Farms Giveaway

A bone-in ham to put all others to shame. From Snake River Farms.

A bone-in ham to put all others to shame. From Snake River Farms.

 

I often keep old Christmas cards, and sometimes the gently-used ribbons and bows, too.

But one thing I make a point never to discard is something all together different.

Bones.

From the Thanksgiving turkey. From the Christmas ham.

They are always wrapped carefully with aluminum foil, then tucked inside a heavy-duty plastic bag in a safe place in my freezer.

Until January.

That’s when I take them out for their intended purpose, one that I look forward to every year after the holiday season.

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Rosemary Pear Pie (And It’s Gluten-Free)

Poached pears worthy of your holiday table.

Poached pears worthy of your holiday table.

 

A friend of mine once rolled her eyes at her then-boyfriend for ordering poached pears for dessert at a restaurant.

In her mind, she couldn’t fathom why one would waste perfectly good dessert calories on simple, cooked pears, of all things.

I can see her point. After all, if you’re going to venture out to a white-tablecloth restaurant for dinner, you want to live it up. You want to eat with abandon, and finish it off with decadence. You want chocolate. You want butter. You want fluffs of cream, ganache and mousse — preferably in a take-your-breath-away form.

Pears don’t immediately muster that kind of response.

But transfer them to the finale of a comforting, home-cooked dinner, and I think even my friend would have a hard time passing them up.

Juicy, sweet, wine-y pears fanned out across a rustic tart that’s put out in the center of the table is just the type of dessert made for entertaining at home.

That’s what you’ll get with “Rosemary Pear Pie” from the new cookbook, “Home Baked” (Abrams), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Yvette Van Boven, a food stylist and recipe writer in Amsterdam.

Home Baked Book

The book is filled with more than 150 recipes for sweet and savory goodies such as “Poppy Seed Popovers,” “Verbena Cake with Fresh Fruit & Verbena Gin Syrup,” and “My Favorite Chili with A Thousand Beans, Chorizo, Chocolate, and Corn Bread.”

One glance at this pear pie in the book and I was enthralled. Who wouldn’t be with the pears arranged just so prettily atop a simple, smooth, custardy filling?

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