Going Goaty, Part II: Angel Biscuits

Baking powder, baking soda, and yes, yeast, are incorporated into these airy biscuits that boast a deep flavor.
Baking powder, baking soda, and yes, yeast, are incorporated into these airy biscuits that boast a deep flavor.

Yeast in bread. Yeast in cinnamon rolls. Yeast in sticky buns.

But yeast in biscuits?

Yes, apparently so.

The unusual “Angel Biscuits” is from “Muffins & Biscuits: 50 Recipes to Start Your Day with a Smile” (Chronicle Books, 2017) by Heidi Gibson, owner of the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco.

These old-fashioned biscuits, Gibson writes in the book, used to be called “Bride’s Biscuits” — OK, yes, in a rather sexist way — because it was thought that not even just-married women new to cooking could screw them up.

That’s because these biscuits have not only baking powder and baking soda in them, but active dry yeast, as well. With three leaveners, it’s nearly guaranteed these puppies will indeed rise.

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Going Goaty, Part I: Strawberry Buttermilk (Or Kefir) Tart

I swapped out raspberries for strawberries, and buttermilk for goat's milk kefir, to make this summery tart.
I swapped out raspberries for strawberries, and buttermilk for goat’s milk kefir, to make this summery tart.

2020 may very well be most remembered for the pandemic, but perhaps also for the Year of the Goat.

Maybe it was the early run on traditional baking and dairy supplies in March and April. Or maybe it’s the fact that with nowhere to go, people branched out in their tastes, longing for a taste of something new to combat the doldrums.

Whatever the case, the country’s two leading goat dairies are reporting a rise in sales. In fact, Meyenberg, the top producer of goat milk that sources from more than two dozen West Coast Dairies, saw its goat butter sales spike by 50 percent from last year. Its sales powdered goat milk also grew by 67 percent this year. Sonoma County’s Redwood Hill Farm also saw increases in sales of its goat yogurt and kefir.

Redwood Hill Farms goat milk kefir and yogurt.
Redwood Hill Farms goat milk kefir and yogurt.

I readily jumped on the goat milk bandwagon when Meyenberg and Redwood Hill Farms sent me some product samples to try.

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Charles Chocolates’ New Chocolate Subscriptions

Caramel Almond Sticks (front) and Triple Chocolate Coated Almonds are part of the haul in the new Charles Chocolates subscription service.
Caramel Almond Sticks (front) and Triple Chocolate Coated Almonds are part of the haul in the new Charles Chocolates subscription service.

You know that giddy feeling you get when your favorite magazine finally arrives in the mail each month?

Well, imagine how ecstatic you’d feel if instead artisan chocolate arrived in your mailbox every month. Or even every week.

That’s the new irresistible subscription service launched by San Francisco’s Charles Chocolates.

Choose from small, medium or large boxes to be delivered every week, every two weeks, once a month or every two months. Prices range from $25 to $75 per box, with free shipping throughout California or 2-day air shipping for $5 to all other states.

The boxes contain some of Charles Chocolates’ best-selling items, all of them made in small batches. Subscribe for long enough and you’ll also be privy to seasonal specials, as well as new treats not yet released to the general public.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 5

A novel broccoli and pancetta pizza from Pizza Antica.
A novel broccoli and pancetta pizza from Pizza Antica.

Pizza Antica, Santana Row San Jose, Lafayette, Mill Valley

The original Pizza Antica at San Jose’s Santana Row has been a huge draw since it opened its doors in 2003. Even in the midst of a pandemic, with only takeout and outdoor dining on the Row available, it remains ever popular.

When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week, I found the takeout system easy as can be. There’s plenty of parking at Santana Row these days, so once you find a spot, just walk to the restaurant’s front doors to pick up your to-go food that you can order ahead of time online.

Pizza, pizza!
Pizza, pizza!

You can never go wrong with pizza here. The thin yet pliable crusts sport those lovely charred leopard spots from the oven. The Margherita ($17) is a solid, classic rendition with sweet tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil leaves on a crust with a noticeable yeasty, developed flavor.

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Lion’s Head Meatballs to the Rescue

As comforting as it gets -- juicy pork meatballs in gingery, garlicky broth.
As comforting as it gets — juicy pork meatballs in gingery, garlicky broth.

So much is out of our hands these days: whether everyone wears a mask or not; whether a viable COVID-19 vaccine will be developed soon; whether kids go back to classrooms this fall; and whether life as we used to know it will ever be that way again.

One thing we do have command over, however, is meatballs. The way the malleable ground meat fits easily in our hands. The way we use our fingers to gently shape large ones or small ones. The way we form perfect spheres or slightly more lopsided ones (usually mine). And the way we season and cook them to create a pure taste of happiness.

That’s just what “Lion’s Head Meatballs” deliver.

This particular recipe comes from “Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes: The First Cookbook from the Cult Food Magazine” (Clarkson Potter, 2015) by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach.

If Meehan’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was recently forced to resign as editor of The Los Angeles Times food section, following a slew of allegations from former employees of verbal and sexual harassment over the years.

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