Category Archives: Chocolate

Do Yourself A Favor: Get A Taste of Shuk Shuka

Shuk Shuka's amazing Nutella babka (front) and challah (back).
Shuk Shuka’s amazing Nutella babka (front) and challah (back).

Yeasty, buttery, tightly coiled with generous ripples of Nutella throughout, this babka might very well have stolen my heart, not to mention my stomach.

It’s the handiwork of Shuk Shuka, a San Francisco online marketplace and kitchen specializing in Middle Eastern foodstuffs.

“Shuk” means “market” in both Hebrew and Arabic. Founder Inon Tzadok, who grew up in Israel and Yemen wanted to evoke the traditional flavors of Middle Eastern market stalls in his products. His sister, baker Yael Tzadok is responsible for the wonderful baked goods.

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Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies That Can Be Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free or Vegan

Buckwheat, which is gluten-free, gives these cookies a dark gray-brown hue.
Buckwheat, which is gluten-free, gives these cookies a dark gray-brown hue.

Now that I’m trying to consolidate and minimize my trips to the grocery store, I have been on a quest to clean out my freezer of miscellaneous flours to create more space for other things.

You know, like tubs of ice cream. Kidding. Sort of.

So when I spied this recipe for “Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies,” I knew it would help me use up a bag of buckwheat flour languishing in the deep-freeze.

The recipe is from “Perfectly Golden: Adaptable Recipes for Sweet and Simple Treats” (The Countryman Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Angela Garbacz, the owner of Goldenrod Pastries in Lincoln, NE.

What makes this cookbook especially intriguing is that every recipe has suggested ingredient swaps so you can make it easily gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan, if you prefer.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 8

A heap of yaki soba with pork belly chashu, cabbage, shiitakes, and pickled ginger -- from Ozumo.
A heap of yaki soba with pork belly chashu, cabbage, shiitakes, and pickled ginger — from Ozumo.

Ozumo, San Jose and San Francisco

What foods have you missed most during shelter-in-place? French fries, or most any fried foods for that matter, and sushi? That’s the consensus among my friends and family. Understandable, given that those are things most of us rarely prepare for ourselves at home.

Ozumo comes to the rescue on so many of those fronts. Former professional baseball player Jeremy Upland founded the restaurants after falling hard for Japanese cuisine during his time playing in the Japanese Pacific League. Its location in San Jose’s Santana Row is especially convenient because there are plenty of free parking lots just yards away.

To satisfy those fried foods cravings, look no further than karaage ($14) and Ozumo shrimp ($18).

Classic karaaage (front), and Ozumo shrimp (back).
Classic karaaage (front), and Ozumo shrimp (back).

I’m not going to lie — when you get these to-go, their crunchy coatings will suffer a bit by the time you get them home. But the fried white shrimp coated with shichimi can be re-crisped fairly well by just searing them in a hot frying pan on the stovetop. The accompanying yuzu-honey aioli is sweet and creamy like Japanese Kewpie mayo, with a citrusy and spicy edge. Our little plastic container of it got slightly melted when it was tucked inside the to-go container with the straight-from-the-fryer shrimp. But you can always transfer the sauce to your own dipping bowl at home.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 6

A beauty of a prosciutto pizza at Vina Enoteca.
A beauty of a prosciutto pizza at Vina Enoteca.

Vina Enoteca, Palo Alto

Handmade pastas you can’t wait to twirl a fork into. Pizzas that make you lunge for a slice. An impressive Italian wine list. And creative cocktails that always put you in a peppy mood.

Vina Enoteca has long been one of my favorite Italian restaurants because it offers all of that with aplomb.

Ordering online is a breeze, as is parking when you pick up your order. These days, there’s plenty of open parking slots in the adjacent lot behind the Stanford Shopping Center. Walk up to the host stand outside to pick it all up.

A simple cacio e pepe, made more special with a Parmigiano crisp on top.
A simple cacio e pepe, made more special with a Parmigiano crisp on top.

My husband can never resist a pizza topped with prosciutto. The Pizza Emiliana ($22) is like the super-model version of that.

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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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