Start the Year of the Dragon off with a bang with something fiery and inspired.
“Kung Pao Sweet Potatoes” certainly isn’t traditional fare for the Lunar New Year, which starts on Saturday. But the dish certainly makes for an exciting and enticing new addition to the celebratory feast. Plus, it’s perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who enjoys twists on the classics.
This fun recipe is from “Veg-Table” (Chronicle Books, 2023), of which I received a review copy. It’s the newest cookbook by Los Angeles-based Nik Sharma, a former molecular biologist turned James Beard Award-winning, best-selling cookbook author, photographer, and recipe developer.
He brings his scientific background, precision for recipes, and love of big, bold flavors to bear on this collection of vegetable-focused recipes. It’s not a strictly vegetarian cookbook, but even when animal proteins are included, they play a more supporting rather than starring role.
The cookbook features more than 50 types of vegetables with recipes organized by plant family, including such temptations as “Kimchi Creamed Corn,” “Crispy Salmon with Green Curry Spinach,” “Cauliflower Bolognese,” and “Carrot, Apple, and Harissa Soup.”
San Francisco Chef Sylvan Mishima Brackett fondly remembers his mother cooking up a pan of chicken drumettes with sake, shoyu, and a copious amount of orange marmalade.
The resulting thick, sticky, sweet glaze would coat every inch of the tender drumettes that were savored hot or room temperature on New Year’s Day.
It wasn’t necessarily a classic component of the traditional Japanese New Year meal known as osechi. But in his family, it sure made for good eating on that day or any busy weeknight.
Me? I think it would score big-time on Super Bowl Sunday.
I mean, why pay homage to Buffalo, NY with been-there, done-that, fiery red-sauced wings when you can support the home team by indulging in a version from a bona fide San Francisco Mission District chef instead? That’s got to make for good juju, right?
The recipe comes from his debut cookbook, “Rintaro” (Hardie Grant, 2023), of which I received a review copy, that was written with San Francisco food writer Jessica Battilana.
Imagine chocolates that taste exactly like Doritos dipped in queso.
Is your mind reeling yet?
Mine certainly was when I popped a sample of the new limited-edition TCHO Natchos into my mouth.
Yes, just in time for the Super Bowl, the zany minds at Berkeley’s bean-to-bar maker have outdone themselves with this latest creation.
Chief Chocolate Maker Brad Kintzer is a Philadelphia Eagles fan (don’t hold that against him), who started playing around with crafting a nacho-flavored chocolate bar in 2018 when his beloved team competed in (and won) the Super Bowl.
Any way you slice it, there’s nothing wrong with sweet apple pie, especially fresh-baked and still warm. But let’s not forget that apples are also sensational starring in savory fare.
Case in point: “Cider Braised Apples with Coconut ‘Bacon,’ and Garlic,” a fabulous accompaniment to roast chicken, Cornish game hens, turkey, pork loin, sausages, duck or even grilled firm tofu planks.
February is the perfect time to tuck into it, too, since it’s National Cancer Prevention Month. I’m proud to partner with the American Institute for Cancer Research and Pazazz Apples to help spread the word about how apples are high in fiber and antioxidants that can help reduce the risks of some cancers. To learn more about how nutritious apples are and to assess how your own lifestyle choices affect your risk of cancer, go to the informative health check here.
What’s more, those antioxidants also fuel neurotransmitters in the brain that trigger the release of dopamine that boosts mood. That makes apples a veritable “happy” fruit.
And who wouldn’t want more bliss in their lives, right? All it takes is heading to Albertsons, Safeway, or Vons like I did to pick up some Pazazz apples (about $2.99 per pound), now at peak flavor through June.
It’s elegant yet whimsical, with a name inspired by the chef-owner’s fondness for owls.
Kim Alter’s Nightbird celebrates eight years this year in San Francisco with an exciting development. Alter took over a space next door in late November, allowing the restaurant to expand its footprint. The new space will be used for private dinners, as well as occasional pop-ups by Nightbird’s pastry chef, vintage boutiques, and potentially even members of La Cocina’s food incubator.
It joins the restaurant’s other adjoining business, the Linden Room, a swank cocktail bar perfect for a pre- or post-dinner libation.
Last Saturday, my husband and I enjoyed the $195 tasting menu and $130 optional wine pairing. Alter added a few extra morsels on the house. The restaurant does include an automatic service charge, which is an increasingly common practice at many fine-dining restaurants. What’s out of the norm, though, is that it’s only 16 percent.
The minimalist, graceful dining room is compact and intimate. There’s a good number of staff, overseen by General Manager and Director of Hospitality Ron Boyd, that delivers an attentive yet unobtrusive service experience.