Category Archives: Food TV

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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Wok On With Black Pepper Honey Beef

Better -- and faster -- than most take-out/delivery options.
Better — and faster — than most take-out/delivery options.

I know people who subsist on food from delivery services day in and day out, and others who pilfer free food from tech campus cafes to take home even if they’re not supposed to.

Yes, we are all strapped for time these days. But not cooking at all is denying yourself one of the true pleasures in life to create something with your own two hands to enjoy with immediate joy and satisfaction.

Imagine being able to tell yourself proudly as you dig in, “Yeah, I made that!” rather than sheepishly admitting, “Uh, I pulled up an app for it.”

And honestly, a dish like “Chunky Black Pepper Honey Beef” can be put on the table faster than you can order and wait for take-out to be delivered.

This simple recipe is from “Wok On: Deliciously balanced meals in 30 minutes or less” (Kyle, 2019) of which I received a review copy.

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Shakewell’s Short Ribs with Citrus-Olive Herb Salad

A favorite recipe from my cookbook, "East Bay Cooks.''
A favorite recipe from my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks.”

When I was working on my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), I was fortunate enough to have the help of a small army of friends and family who helped test all the recipes with me.

When one of my testers told me that he’d made the recipe for “Short Ribs with Citrus-Olive Herb Salad” not once, not twice, but five times, I was immediately alarmed.

But then he told me why: It wasn’t because anything was wrong with it. On the contrary, he and his wife ended up loving this dish so much that they couldn’t resist making it multiple times to share with friends.

While I’m fond of all the recipes in this cookbook that spotlights 41 restaurants in the dynamic East Bay, that testimonial convinced me right then and there that this recipe by Chef Jen Biesty of Oakland’s Shakewell was truly a winner.

Because of book-publishing timetables, my friend had to test this recipe at the height of summer. But I patiently waited until winter to give it a test-drive, since long-braised short ribs are so made for this time of year.

This is definitely a comfort dish taken up a level. The short ribs cook up fork-tender in an almost mole-like brothy sauce made with ancho chiles, fennel, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, a little ground coffee, some chopped bittersweet chocolate and a whole bottle of Zinfandel. How can that not be good?

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Caramelized White Chocolate and Toasted Milk Cookies with A Touch of Cardamom

The surprising sweet warmth of cardamom infuses these white chocolate cookies.
The surprising sweet warmth of cardamom infuses these white chocolate cookies.

My appetite always perks up whenever I spot a recipe with cardamom. Especially if it involves baked goods.

The fragrant spice with a warm, sweet, resiny character adds such a beguiling presence to anything it touches.

So when I received a review copy of the new cookbook, “Milk & Cardamom: Spectacular Cakes, Custards and More, Inspired by the Flavors of India” (Page Street), how could I resist?

The new cookbook is by San Franciscan Hetal Vasavada, creator of the namesake Milk & Cardamom blog. You may also recognize her from her stint as a contestant on “MasterChef” Season 6.

A first-generation Indian-American, Vasavada melds American-style desserts with cherished Indian flavors reminiscent of the childhood sweets she grew up loving.

The result is clever recipes such as “Ginger-Chai Chocolate Pot de Creme,” “Peanut Laddoo Buckeye Balls,” “Green Mango Marmalade,” and “Cinnamon and Jaggery Monkey Bread.”

Her “Caramelized White Chocolate and Toasted Milk Cookies” is a play on Jacques Torres’ fabled chocolate chip cookies — only with cardamom and the unusual mix of melted white chocolate and milk powder.

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Free Scoops of Humphry Slocombe in Cupertino, Plus More

Betty the Truck will be doling out free scoops this Wednesday in Cupertino. (photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe)

Betty the Truck will be doling out free scoops this Wednesday in Cupertino. (photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe)

Humphry Slocombe Truck Rolls Into Cupertino With Free Scoops

From now on, you might want to time your shopping trips to Whole Foods Cupertino to take advantage of the fact that Betty the Truck, aka the Humphry Slocombe ice cream mobile, will be in the parking lot regularly.

In fact, this Wednesday, noon to 9 p.m., marks the start of this new attraction. For this inaugural date only, the truck will be doling out free scoops. Yes, free scoops of such creative, iconic flavors as Secret Breakfast (bourbon ice cream with house-made corn flakes), and Queer  Eye Cookies & Graham (chocolate cookies and graham crackers in olive oil ice cream).

Secret Breakfast cones. (photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe)

Secret Breakfast cones. (photo courtesy of Humphry Slocombe)

You can also buy pints, including the newest Whole Foods exclusive flavor, Mango Mojito (mango ice cream with mint, lime and rum). It was created in collaboration with “Top Chef” competitor Chef Melissa King.

After this Wednesday free day, look for the truck in the parking lot at 20955 Stevens Creek Blvd. in Cupertino every day, noon to 9 p.m., unless it has prior commitments elsewhere. Just bring your wallet, though, as you’ll have to pay for those scoops from then on out.

Rev Up the Appetite for “Dine Downtown San Jose”

From July 19-28, you’ll find a host of special prix fixe menus, chef specials and other limited-time creations at 22 top San Jose restaurants.

It’s all part of the 11th annual “Dine Downtown San Jose.”

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