Category Archives: General

A Visit to Wild Onion in Palo Alto

Fried chicken at Wild Onion in the Hotel Citrine in Palo Alto.
Fried chicken at Wild Onion in the Hotel Citrine in Palo Alto.

In Silicon Valley, corporate tech campuses proliferate.

But now, there’s also an unusual hotel version of that.

Last year, Palo Alto welcomed the Hotel Citrine and the AC Hotel, both T2 Hospitality properties under the Marriott umbrella, and both located on the same San Antonio Road property.

In fact, the side-by-side hotels share a common driveway and valet parking service.

A communal bar table at Wild Onion.
A communal bar table at Wild Onion.

Though it may seem like a head-scratcher at first, it was designed to offer two different experiences on the same footprint. The AC Hotel is done up in a moody, sophisticated neutral palette, while the Hotel Citrine is all bold colors with a carefree California vibe.

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Dorie Greenspan’s Chunky Lemon Cornmeal Cake (With Sumac)

Sumac and fresh lemons used two ways give this loaf cake a wonderful citrusy lift.
Sumac and fresh lemons used two ways give this loaf cake a wonderful citrusy lift.

At first glance, you might think this lovely lemon loaf cake also has poppy seeds.

But those tiny dark red specs are actually ground sumac berries.

Yes, the Middle Eastern spice that’s typically used in savory preparations goes for a sweet spin here instead.

And to great effect.

“Chunky Lemon Cornmeal Cake” is from the one and only Dorie Greenspan, the James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and baker extraordinaire. It’s from her latest cookbook, “Baking with Dorie” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021), of which I received a review copy.

Pick up a copy and no doubt you’ll be running to turn on the oven to bake temptations such as “Miso-Maple Loaf,” “Lemon Meringue Layer Cake,” “Lick-the-Pot Chocolate Pudding Pie,” and “Coffee Shortbread.”

With its tangy, floral, and citrusy notes, sumac is a natural for baking, so it’s a wonder that it’s not widely used that way already.

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Ronda’s Romesco — You’ll Want To Put It On Everything

Ronda's Romesco will add punch to most anything, such as these shrimp-zucchini-onion kebabs I grilled at home.
Ronda’s Romesco will add punch to most anything, such as these shrimp-zucchini-onion kebabs I grilled at home.

If you’ve gone bonkers for Sichuan chili crisp like everyone else, you might wonder what the next ”It” condiment will be to supplant its runaway popularity.

I’m here to say it just very well might be romesco.

Because one taste of Ronda’s Romesco had me convinced.

Ronda Brittian of Petaluma is a trauma nurse. Raised in a family of accomplished home cooks, she’s also a food entrepreneur who has joined forces with her life partner, Steve Davis, a food brand manager, to create a line of jarred romesco, the classic Spanish sauce of almonds, tomato, garlic, red wine vinegar, red peppers, and olive oil.

I make my own romesco from scratch now and then, but having it ready-made in a jar sure makes it extra convenient.

Regular and Spicy varieties.
Regular and Spicy varieties.

I had a chance to try samples of Ronda’s Romesco, which come in two varieties: regular and spicy.

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A Yogurt Cake — That’s Almost All Yogurt

Would you believe there's only 3 tablespoons of flour in this yogurt cake?
Would you believe there’s only 3 tablespoons of flour in this yogurt cake?

I’ve made many a yogurt cake — but never one that was nearly all yogurt and only a smidge of flour.

This “Yogurt Cake” is so different.

Rather than yogurt being a mere supporting ingredient to give the cake extra moistness, it is the star here in abundance, creating a light, fluffy texture almost like an airy, crustless cheesecake.

The recipe is from “Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean” (Ten Speed Press, 2021), of which I received a review copy.

The incomparable cookbook writer, who was born in Egypt and now lives in the United Kingdom, has been chronicling Middle Eastern cuisines for decades, and educating all of our palates along the way.

Her latest cookbook showcases the classics she loves to prepare for friends and family, which are imbued with the flavors of Provence, Cairo, Sicily, Morocco and beyond.

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Biscuit Berry Nests — Two Treats In One

Holes get punched into a big round of biscuit dough, then filled with fresh berries, before being baked.
Holes get punched into a big round of biscuit dough, then filled with fresh berries, before being baked.

If you adore fruit baked into your biscuits or even biscuits slathered with fruity jam, then you will go bonkers for “Biscuit Berry Nests.”

Because a jumble of fresh berries is baked into an actual hole punched into each biscuit. Not only that, but those “holes” are also baked, creating regular biscuits, too.

It’s like donuts plus donut holes — but in biscuit form.

This fun little recipe is from “Hot Little Suppers” (Harper Horizon, 2021), of which I received a review copy.

It was written by Carrie Morey, founder of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, a South Carolina business based on her mom’s from-scratch biscuits that has now grown to encompass eateries, a food truck, and mail-order items.

Of course, you’ll find biscuit recipes galore inside, including “Cinnamon Biscuits” and “Whipping Cream Biscuits,” plus accompaniments such as “Savory Thyme Butter,” along with clever ways to use up leftover biscuits (does that ever happen?) in dishes such as “Toasted Maple Biscuit Casserole.” Since one can’t live on biscuits alone, there are also entree recipes such as “Lemony Crab Pasta” and “Salty Sticky Sweet Pot Roast.”

The "holes'' get baked, too, to create individual biscuits.
The “holes” get baked, too, to create individual biscuits.

When I saw the photo of these clever biscuit nests in the book, I knew I had to make them. They didn’t disappoint, though, I did have to tweak the recipe in a number of areas.

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