Author Archives: foodgal

Tuna Pâté For Starters

Meet the versatile, easy-to-make, and economical tuna pâté.
Meet the versatile, easy-to-make, and economical tuna pâté.

When the temperature soars, that last thing you want to do is turn up the heat in your kitchen.

“Tuna Pâté’ is perfect for those scorching days, because it’s served chilled, and the only real cooking it involves is boiling a potato and a couple of eggs on the stovetop.

Best yet, it tastes like a more sophisticated version of your favorite tuna salad sandwich.

The recipe is from the new “Cooking alla Giudia” (Artisan Books), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Benedetta Jasmine Guetta, an Italian food writer and photographer. Born in Milan and now living in Santa Monica, she is on a mission to shine a light on Italian Jewish food in Italy and abroad.

The book presents more than 100 recipes that celebrate the food, history, and traditions of Jewish food in Italy. For instance, did you know that orecchiette pasta that’s famed in Apulia most likely came from Provence, France by Jews who settled in the 12th century? Or that the prevalence of eggplant in Italian cuisine is thanks to Jews in Spain during the Middle Ages who learned to cook it from the Arabs? When the Jews were expelled from Spain, many of them relocated to Italy, bringing with them their expertise with eggplant cooking.

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Grilled Buttermilk Chicken with Hot Paprika

A soak in buttermilk does wonders for chicken.
A soak in buttermilk does wonders for chicken.

Like a good face cream, yogurt, kefir and buttermilk do wonders to plump and moisten — with meat, that is.

So, it’s no wonder that “Grilled Buttermilk Chicken” results in a juicy bird laced with summertime smokiness.

The recipe is from “The Backyward BBQ Bible” (Smith Street Books), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Oscar Smith, a Sydney-based food writer and photographer.

It includes more than 100 grilling recipes, including ” Brazilian Cachaca Chicken Skewers,” “Bacon-Warpped Mac & Cheese Burgers” (yes, panko-breaded discs of with mac ‘n’ cheese acting as burgers), “Korean Bulgogi Tofu,” and “Grilled Figs with Rosemary & Pomegranate Ricotta.”

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Dining Outside at JiuBa

Pork and shrimp dumplings in chili oil at JiuBa.
Pork and shrimp dumplings in chili oil at JiuBa.

Last summer, the incredibly splashy iChina opened its doors in the Westfield Valley Fair, bringing an air of Vegas to this Santa Clara-San Jose shopping center.

Standing two stories tall, sporting a virtual-reality private dining room with projection screens all around, and dripping with sparkly, shiny jade-hued glass and gold accents everywhere, this restaurant is a true sight to behold.

If you’re like me, though, and limiting yourself to dining outside at the moment, the bad news is that iChina, which means “love China” in Mandarin, offers only indoor dining.

However, its first-floor bar and lounge, JiuBa, does have outdoor seating.

JiuBa, which means “bar” in Mandarin, serves a much smaller menu. However, it is definitely possible to compose a full and satisfying dinner from it, as I found when I was invited in as a guest last week.

The bar inside shares the same opulent look as the rest of the restaurant, as if an enormous jade-emerald-diamond ring was the inspiration.

The glamorous bar inside JiuBa.
The glamorous bar inside JiuBa.
Would you believe this is the bathroom?
Would you believe this is the bathroom?

Even the all-gender bathroom looks as if it belongs in a modern-day Chinese palace.

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Time For Strawberry Sumac Cake — And A Very Special Cookbook

Sumac and strawberries make for a fabulous marriage in this moist, tender cake.
Sumac and strawberries make for a fabulous marriage in this moist, tender cake.

It still boggles my mind that more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865, the state of Texas finally “learned” that all slaves were now free, becoming the last state in the Confederacy to recognize that action. Even then, some plantation owners refused to acknowledge the edict, and kept their slaves to work one more harvest.

A year later, though, Black Texans were finally able to rejoice in their freedom with food, music, and dance at the first Juneteenth celebrations.

Now comes the first cookbook to showcase Juneteenth. “Watermelon & Red Birds” (Simon & Schuster), of which I received a review copy, is by Nicole A. Taylor, a food writer who splits her time between New York City and Georgia, and produced the short documentary, “If We So Choose,” about the desegregation of an iconic southern fast-food joint.

The cookbook title refers not only to the native-born African fruit, but to the African American and Native American belief that red birds flying through the skies represent ancestors returning to spread luck.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 21

Summer was made for these easy-breezy piquettes.
Summer was made for these easy-breezy piquettes.

Piquette Pinot Noir and Piquette Chardonnay

Meet piquette — quite possibly your favorite new summer sip.

This traditional French drink, whose name means “little wine,” is actually made by adding water to grape pomace (the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes left over after pressing), and fermenting the residual sugars.

It makes for a light tasting, low alcohol beverage.

In June, Une Femme Wines launched two canned piquettes that I had a chance to sample.

The brand was founded by Jen Pelka, owner of the now shuttered the Riddler, a Champagne bar in New York City and San Francisco, and her brother Zach.

Its intent is to produce only Champagne and sparkling wine made by women. In fact, for every bottle sold, the company makes a donation to a charity benefiting women.

With 8 percent ABV, the piquettes come in 250ml pull-tab cans.

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