Category Archives: Chefs

Hugh Acheson’s Roasted Eggplant with Tahini, Pomegranate, Parsley, and Pecans

A perfect technique for eggplant, courtesy of Hugh Acheson.
A perfect technique for eggplant, courtesy of Hugh Acheson.

You know that perfect eggplant consistency, where it’s so supple, it’s almost like custard?

It’s not always easy to achieve that texture.

But thanks to James Beard Award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, there’s a fool-proof method that will not only render it with that exquisite consistency but give it an edge of smokiness, too. And all without a grill.

Just put the whole eggplant in a 425-degree oven and let it do its thing for 45 minutes or so. It will emerge sublime.

That’s one of the techniques showcased in the new cookbook, “How to Cook: Building Blocks and 100 Simple Recipes for a Lifetime of Meals” (Clarkson Potter) by Acheson of “Top Chef” fame, who owns three restaurants in Georgia.

Acheson made sure his two daughters knew how to cook before they went off to college. In this book, of which I received a review copy, he showcases the foundational building blocks that every home-cook ought to master, such as knowing the proper way to cook rice, beans, poach an egg, make vinaigrette, pan-fried fish and roast chicken.

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Jacques Pepin’s Chicken in Vinegar with Garlic and Tomato Sauce

Jacques Pepin employs an interesting technique to cook this bistro classic.
Jacques Pepin employs an interesting technique to cook this bistro classic.

Whether it’s watching him on PBS or thumbing through one of his cookbooks, I never cease to learn something from Jacques Pepin.

A master technician who makes everything look effortless, and a cheerleader who gives the confidence to try any of his recipes handily in your own kitchen, Pepin continues to inspire in his latest cookbook, “Jacques Pépin Quick & Simple” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy.

As the title implies, the book’s 250 recipes are fast and easy, with brief ingredients list. Pepin is not above using frozen pizza dough, canned beans or ready-made sponge cake in some of them, either.

As he states in the introduction, “This book is intended to make your life easier.”

It will, too, with recipes such as “Cream of Pumpkin Soup” that uses canned pumpkin, light cream and curry powder; “Cheese Tart,” made with a frozen pie shell filled with a mixture of eggs, ricotta and Gouda; “Mustard-Broiled Shrimp” that’s coated with honey mustard, dark soy sauce and Sriracha; and “Orange Bavarian Cream” what mimics fancy custard cream but is instead made with instant pudding mix, half-and-half, and melted vanilla ice cream.

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Fall Festivities In the South Bay/Peninsula

Gamble Garden's live Zoom class will show you how to decorate a pumpkin as beautiful as these. (Photo courtesy of Gamble Garden)
Gamble Garden’s live Zoom class will show you how to decorate a pumpkin as beautiful as these. (Photo courtesy of Gamble Garden)

Take Pumpkin Decorating To New Heights

If you’ve already done spooky and campy with your jack-o’-lantern in Halloweens past, now’s the time to give chic a try.

Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden will host a “Pumpkin Decorating With Henna” online class, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 24.

Artist Priti Aggarwal will lead this live Zoom class in the Indian art of mehndi, explaining its history and cultural applications, and guiding you to decorate your own pumpkin with custom-made henna paste free of chemicals or dyes.

All supplies, including the pumpkin and the henna, will be provided and must be picked up beforehand at the Gamble Garden.

The class is recommended for those ages 8 on up. Price is $40 per person. For more info or to register, click here.

“Dine Downtown San Jose”

This year’s “Dine Downtown San Jose” is extended through Nov. 15, and includes dine-in, dine-out, and to-go specials, making it easier than ever to help support local restaurants during this challenging time.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 10

Say hello to my little friend: Blue Jasmine Tea ice cream from Tin Pot Creamery.
Say hello to my little friend: Blue Jasmine Tea ice cream from Tin Pot Creamery.

Tin Pot Creamery, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Campbell, and San Mateo

Does ice cream qualify as takeout?

Oh, heck yes!

Especially when it’s from Tin Pot Creamery.

Founder Becky Sunseri has been obsessed with ice cream since she was a kid, when she’d even hunker down with a bowl of it in winter while sitting atop the heater in her family’s home in Illinois. At 15, she playfully wrote her first ice cream menu, too.

A former pastry cook at Facebook, Sunseri makes a point to use the best local ingredients in her ice creams and sorbets in creative yet highly accessible flavors.

Now stashed in my freezer at home.
Now stashed in my freezer at home.

Walk up to the window to order a cone or cup or pint to take home. Or order online ahead of time, then go to the “pick-up” window for speedier service.

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Three New Reads To Sink Your Teeth Into

“Eat A Peach” By David Chang

It’s taken four years of procrastination, endless missed deadlines, and the overcoming of persistent personal demons for celebrated Chef David Chang to write “Eat a Peach” (Clarkson Potter). But it was well worth the wait.

The chef who grew a bare-bones New York ramen joint into the global juggernaut now known as Momofuku has written an honest, earnest, and raw memoir. Whether you’re a fan of the man or of his restaurants, you won’t be able to put this down.

His meteoric rise in the industry might seem like calculated genius. But in reality, he writes, much of it happened by accident and in spite of being undiagnosed for years as bipolar, which manifested itself in blazing rage, alarming tantrums, and the punching of several walls, and not to mention suicidal thoughts.

You’ll learn how the PBS series “The Mind of A Chef” came about after its first iteration failed; how and why Chang started — and closed — his Lucky Peach magazine; how his hiring of Christina Tosi as both pastry chef and protocol specialist saved his butt; and how getting married and becoming a father have grounded him like never before.

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