Category Archives: General

Paula Wolfert’s Oven-Steamed Salmon

Cooked in the oven with a pan of water underneath, salmon fillets steam gently for a incredibly supple texture.
Cooked in the oven with a pan of water underneath, salmon fillets steam gently for a incredibly supple texture.

One of the great joys of summer in the Bay Area is the advent of wild king salmon season.

Few things can top the rich, lush, buttery, deep taste of this magnificent fish.

Generally, I’m all about grilling it, oftentimes on a cedar plank.

But when I spied this recipe for “Oven-Steamed Salmon,” I couldn’t help being intrigued.

It’s featured in the treasured cookbook, “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life” (Grand Central Life & Style, 2017). Food writer extraordinaires Emily Kaiser Thelin and Andrea Nguyen teamed with esteemed food photographer Eric Wolfinger to create this cookbook, which celebrates the delicious life work of Paula Wolfert, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013.

Wolfert learned this technique for salmon from the legendary French chef Michel Bras.

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Sticky Toffee Lava Cake For The Win

The skinny on these incredible sticky toffee pudding cakes.
The skinny on these incredible sticky toffee pudding cakes.

You don’t need cranky Gordon Ramsay in your kitchen to get your fill of sticky toffee cakes. You just need a trip to Whole Foods to pick up these convenient, ready-made Pots & Co. Sticky Toffee Lava Cakes.

Then, just zap them in the microwave for 40 to 50 seconds to put a big smile on your face.

I had a chance to try samples recently of these individual sticky date sponge cakes with molten centers of butterscotch sauce.

The taste is of molasses spice cake crossed with hot buttered caramel popcorn. And one decadent little cake is all of 380 calories.

Yes, just try to resist that.

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Jammin’ Fig Jam Bars

These delicious, hearty oat bars get baked up with a layer of homemade fig jam.
These delicious, hearty oat bars get baked up with a layer of homemade fig jam.

Why go to the trouble to make your own fig jam to bake a batch of fig bars?

Just let me count the reasons why.

One, fresh figs beckon like crazy at the farmers markets right now.

Two, making fig jam prolongs the life of this exquisite fruit that’s highly perishable and can turn moldy in an instant once ripe.

Three, all it takes is one taste to make you glad you made this lovely jam that’s redolent of cardamom and ginger.

And four, frankly, freshly made jam in freshly baked jam bars just can’t be beat.

That’s why I decided to devote the time to making both the “Fig Jam” and the “Jam Bar” recipes from the new cookbook, “It Starts with Fruit: Simple Techniques and Delicious Recipes for Jams, Marmalades, and Preserves” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook is by Jordan Champagne, the co-founder of Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove, know for its pickles, shrubs and jams. With that kind of background, it’s no wonder that this is such a definitive guide to making all manner of preserves.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Take-Out of Late, Part 3

Poulet Grand Mere from Zola in Palo Alto.
Poulet Grand Mere from Zola in Palo Alto.

Zola, Palo Alto

On first reflection, you might not think that beef bourguignon and chicken with egg noodles in a lavish cream sauce would be what you really want to dig into on a warm summer evening.

But these French classics, done so right at Zola in downtown Palo Alto, end up not necessarily feeling heavy and rich, but downright as comforting as a hug. And in this time of upheaval, who wouldn’t want to be enveloped in that kind of contentment?

Zola only offers its to-go food on Fridays and Saturdays. The week’s menu is usually posted on Wednesday (sometimes on Tuesday), so you can start reserving your picks then. The earlier the better, too, because some items sell out fast.

The new sign in the window for these new times.
The new sign in the window for these new times.

While most other restaurants provide the food warm with instructions to reheat a few seconds in the microwave when you get home, Zola actually goes the heat-and-eat route, meaning everything is refrigerated, and you need to heat it to enjoy it.

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Tantalizing Farro and Tomato Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette

This is bound to be your new favorite summer salad.
This is bound to be your new favorite summer salad.

If like me, you can’t get enough of nuoc cham — that zesty, indispensable Vietnamese dipping sauce for spring rolls, rice noodle salads, and so much more — you will go bonkers for this summery tomato and grain salad.

“Farro and Tomato Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette” takes a dressing with a similar profile as nuoc cham — minus the lime juice — to dress a colorful, bountiful mix of chewy, nutty farro grains with fresh heirloom tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and a lavish amount of fresh parsley and tarragon leaves.

The recipe is from Chef Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland, as published in Bon Appetit magazine.

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