Category Archives: General

Wonderfully Confounding Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Intense tasting roasted mushrooms -- thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.
Intense tasting roasted mushrooms — thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.

When is a no-no a triumphant yes-yes?

When it is this recipe and technique for “Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts.”

You know that old adage that one should never wash or rinse mushrooms with water but simply brush them clean? (Not that I ever actually followed that, mind you.)

Well, leave it to America’s Test Kitchen to turn that line of thinking completely topsy-turvy on its head.

In this super simple side dish recipe, you not only introduce water to uncooked, fresh mushrooms big-time, but you actually soak and submerge them in salted water for a whole 10 minutes.

How crazy is that?

Crazy brilliant, actually. Much like brining your holiday turkey, this same technique imparts moisture and flavors the mushrooms from the outside in.

This recipe is from the new “The Side Dish Bible: 1001 Perfect Recipes for Every Vegetable, Rice, Grain, and Bean Dish You Will Ever Need” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

This huge tome is a collection of 1,001 side dish recipes that is sure to complete any weeknight meal or festive holiday repast. At this time of year, it’s a must-have for dishes such as “Caesar Brussels Sprouts,” “Freekeh Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Raisins,” “Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle and Lime,” and “Slow-Cooker Creamy Braised Leeks.”

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Pastelaria Adega Opens Its Sweet Doors in Downtown San Jose

Expect a line for these Portuguese custard tarts at the new Pastelaria Adega.
Expect a line for these Portuguese custard tarts at the new Pastelaria Adega

If heaven is a warm, eggy custard tart, you’re sure to be in total bliss then when the new Pastelaria Adega opens in downtown San Jose today.

From the team behind the award-winning, fine-dining Portuguese restaurant Adega in the city’s Little Portugal in the Alum Rock district comes a artisanal Portuguese bakery. It is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Last night at a preview party, I had a chance to check out the new spot at at 30 E. Santa Clara St., Suite 130.

Bakery case.
Bakery case.

As Chef-Owner David Costa, a native of Portugal, says: It’s the type of place you would go to in Lisbon every day for coffee, pastry and bread.

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Tartine’s Sweet Potato Tea Cake with Meringue

Not your average loaf cake.
Not your average loaf cake.

A tea cake is a tea cake is a tea cake — until Tartine gets its hands on it.

Like a basic little black dress that turns extraordinarily chic with the right broach or necklace, this sweet-potato loaf cake goes from fundamental to fancifully froufrou enough to be the life of the party, thanks to a halo of torched meringue.

“Sweet Potato Tea Cake with Meringue” is from the new “Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. It’s by co-founders Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of the famed Tartine bakery founded in San Francisco, with locations worldwide now.

It’s a revised edition to their original book that came out 13 years ago. Of the 122 recipes, 67 are new, including one for Tartine’s ever-popular “Morning Bun.” There are also more recipes that use less sugar and more global flavors, as well as more gluten-free ones.

A few of these recipes are indeed for ambitious bakers, including a sleek, contemporary “Buche de Noel.” The majority of them, however, shouldn’t intimidate most home-bakers. “Black Tea Blondies with Caramel Swirl,” “Cranberry Upside-Down Cake,” and “Brioche Jam Buns” just entice you into the kitchen.

Imagine your favorite pumpkin bread, but made with sweet potato instead. That’s what this moist, tender loaf cake is like. But it goes one better by getting a cloud of meringue on top that gets swirled with the cake batter to produce pretty streaks in it.

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Where’s the Beef At Gozu? It’s In Practically Everything

At the new Gozu -- dining is like theater with the kitchen its stage.
At the new Gozu — dining is like theater with the kitchen its stage.

Much like you wouldn’t expect to a half chicken set before you at a yakitori restaurant, don’t come to the new Gozu in San Francisco craving a brontosaurus-sized steak.

Nope, you won’t find that here.

Unlike so many Wagyu-focused restaurants of late in the Bay Area, this one doesn’t focus solely on the primo primal cuts. Instead, Chef-Owner Marc Zimmerman employs a nose-to-tail philosophy here, making use of far more parts of the Japanese specialty-breed, heavily marbled cow than a typical steakhouse ever would.

You’ll find him burning the bones as charcoal, rendering the fat to make sauces and to preserve vegetables, and using lean cuts to even make a house-made version of shoyu.

Charcoal-grilled skewer of the flat-iron of Hokkaido A5 Wagyu Snow Beef.
Charcoal-grilled skewer of the flat-iron of Hokkaido A5 Wagyu Snow Beef.

Zimmerman got the idea for this unique restaurant about five years ago when he was the chef at Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco. He would regularly travel to Japan to source Wagyu from farmers there. But back then, he was only buying the loins, which prompted the farmers to question when he would buy the entire animal. After all, a farmer can’t make a living by only selling part of a cow. The only way to maintain a sustainable business is to make use of every bit of what you’re raising.

It got Zimmerman thinking, and agreeing that it only made sense to buy the entire animal.

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Behind the Doors of Hiroshi in Los Altos

A5 Wagyu sando at Hiroshi in Los Altos.
A5 Wagyu sando at Hiroshi in Los Altos.

It’s a good bet that not many ordinary mortals have dined at Hiroshi in downtown Los Altos.

After all, when it opened its doors two years ago, it was easily staked a claim to being the most expensive and most exclusive restaurant in the Bay Area. That’s because the Japanese restaurant, which essentially acts as your own private restaurant, serves only eight diners per night — at $400 per person on up, excluding tax, tip and beverages. What’s more, whether you were a party of six, four or two, you had to pay the full price of eight diners.

Hand-cut Japanese crystal known as Edokiriko.
Hand-cut Japanese crystal known as Edokiriko.

But Hiroshi recently changed that policy, making the restaurant more accessible and affordable. Well, sort of. The 10-course dinner now starts at $575 per person, exclusive of tax, tip, and beverages. But you need only a minimum of four diners to make a reservation now.

Owned by Chef Hiroshi Kimura and Japanese businessman Iwata Tsuyoshi, the restaurant has hosted the likes of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, as well as other tech titans.

Chef Hiroshi Kimura.
Chef Hiroshi Kimua.

This summer, the chef hosted an intimate group of six food writers, including yours truly, to experience his traditional Japanese cuisine served against a backdrop of dazzling art and plateware in a serene dining room dominated by 16-foot raw-edge table, fashioned from an 800-year-old zelkova tree, the same type of wood used to construct Japanese temples.

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