Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 27

Veal and oyster mushroom paella from PintxoPote, which I finished cooking at home in less than 20 minutes.
Veal and oyster mushroom paella from PintxoPote, which I finished cooking at home in less than 20 minutes.

PintxoPote, Los Gatos

Los Gatos’ PintxoPote is a sliver of a restaurant that has managed to survive this incredibly challenging year, despite not having the ability to provide either outdoor or indoor seating.

Instead, the Spanish-Basque restaurant has persevered, largely through the support of a loyal clientele that orders takeout, along with the fact that Chef-Owner Hector Figueroa and his wife Angie Lipsett have operated the restaurant all on their own without any staff, and without taking any salaries.

If you haven’t yet discovered this charming Spanish restaurant, it’s high time that you did.

Right now, the restaurant is open only on Fridays and Saturdays. The takeout menu for the week usually posts on Thursdays.

A saute of fava beans, asparagus and peas that comes with the paella.
A saute of fava beans, asparagus and peas that comes with the paella.

Figueroa, whose grandparents hailed from Spain, is a former tech engineer. When you pick up your order at the doorway, you can spot him in the kitchen, as Lipsett hands you your food.

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A New Favorite: Chicken with Caramelized Onions and Croutons

A "no-recipe'' recipe of crispy-skin chicken on a bed of caramelized onions and shallots, with arugula and home-made croutons.
A “no-recipe” recipe of crispy-skin chicken on a bed of caramelized onions and shallots, with arugula and home-made croutons.

If you were to spy a recipe that offered merely a list of ingredients — without any precise measurements for the most part — along with no specified number of servings, and only one paragraph of instructions, would you:

A. Be petrified.

B. Rejoice in its invitation to let loose and improvise.

C. Consider it a gimmick.

Now, imagine an entire cookbook like that, and you have “The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes” (Ten Speed Press). It’s by Sam Sifton, the founding editor of New York Times Cooking.

As a cookbook writer, myself, who’s always had it drilled into her to be as specific as possible when writing or editing recipes, this cookbook initially gave me pause. With its tack that less is actually more when it comes to recipe verbiage, I wondered: Would novice cooks would find this style off-putting and too intimidating? And would experienced cooks give the book a pass, assuming the recipes must be far too easy or mundane to accommodate such a truncated style?

It pays to approach this book with an open mind. Whether you’re just learning to cook or already a decent home-cook, you’re sure to find new, inspired ways — as streamlined as they might be — to get dinner on the table. What this book does is encourage you to trust your instincts more, to be less rigid in the way you cook, and to be more imaginative in scouring your pantry for substitute ingredients when need be. And in a pandemic year, which has seen grocery shelves decimated at times, that’s an invaluable skill to possess.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 26

Three types of poke on a big bed of rice, chirashi-style, from Pacific Catch.
Three types of poke on a big bed of rice, chirashi-style, from Pacific Catch.

Pacific Catch; Santa Clara, Campbell, Corte Madera, Cupertino, Dublin, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Mateo, San Francisco, Walnut Creek

Pacific Catch makes it an even dozen now, having opened its newest location earlier this week, this one at Santa Clara Square Marketplace.

This restaurant group, which was founded in 2003 in San Francisco, takes its seafood seriously, adhering to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide for sustainability. It also partners with the Surfrider Foundation to protect the world’s oceans by reducing plastic use. And it recycles its fryer oil and composts food scraps.

I was invited as a guest by the restaurant last week for a sneak taste, albeit pandemic-style, with a chance to sample takeout dishes.

Pacific Catch offers seafood in every preparation imaginable — from ceviches and sushi to tacos and burgers. Your takeout bag comes complete with compostable utensils, chopsticks, packets of Kikkoman soy sauce, and even wet-ones, which is an especially thoughtful touch.

Lightly battered calamari with fried chili rings and fried thin slices of lemon.
Lightly battered calamari with fried chili rings and fried thin slices of lemon.

Fried calamari is always chancey to-go, no matter how short the drive home. The light tempura-like batter on the Cabo calamari ($13) didn’t hold up with full-on crunch by the time I got it to my dining-room table. But the tentacles and rings were very tender. I loved how there were thin slices of fried lemon in the mix, too, and fried rings of red Fresno chilies. The calamari were seasoned well, and a container of smoky-spicy chipotle aioli was irresistible for dunking into again and again.

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Chocolate-Chip Hot Cross Buns

My favored hot cross buns for Easter.
My favored hot cross buns for Easter.

I have a confession to make: I love hot cross buns.

But the neon red, green and yellow dried fruit inside?

Not so much.

As an avowed carb lover, I always felt painfully left out at Easter, simply because I couldn’t bring myself to buy these holiday buns only to pick out and discard the bits of dried fruit so wastefully.

Now, however, I’ve found a delicious solution to my dilemma: “Chocolate-Chip Hot Cross Buns.”

Because if there’s one thing I love even more than bread, it’s chocolate.

This fabulous recipe is from “Just Desserts: Good Things Come to Those Who Bake” (Running Press), of which I received a review copy. This compact tome of 30 recipes is the first cookbook by Charlotte Ree, an Australia-based recipe developer and avid home baker.

This fun little book full of cheeky quotes will have you running to your kitchen to try your hand at such delights as “Nutella Thumbprint Cookies,” “Tiramisu Swiss Roll,” and “Vanilla Cake with Ricotta Frosting and Roasted Peaches.”

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Baked Goods With A Twist, Part III: The Out-Of-The-Norm Blueberry Crumb Cake

This isn't your ordinary blueberry cake -- not with whole wheat flour, plus a most unexpected ingredient.
This isn’t your ordinary blueberry cake — not with whole wheat flour, plus a most unexpected ingredient.

Blueberry cake is always a welcome guest.

But it’s the blueberry cake with a miso crumb topping that makes for a guest with gusto whom you won’t soon forget.

This unusual take on a classic spring treat incorporates mild — yet still salty and ever so fermented and funky — white miso into the mix.

“Blueberry-Miso Crumb Cake” is a recipe from Chef Chris Morocco for Bon Appetit magazine, published in the September 2020 issue.

Yes, it's white miso.
Yes, it’s white miso.

The cake is made with whole wheat flour, which gives it a hearty and nutty taste. Plus, it adds a healthful aspect, even if you are still eating cake. Or so you can con yourself.

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