Let me know your thoughts on the redesign and watch for revisions of Stage 1 and maybe even Stage 2 of the redesign with my own photos in the header, but I wouldn't advise holding your breath. These things tend to take me a while.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Let me know your thoughts on the redesign and watch for revisions of Stage 1 and maybe even Stage 2 of the redesign with my own photos in the header, but I wouldn't advise holding your breath. These things tend to take me a while.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I knew her for almost 30 years. We were single in the city together, exploring San Francisco and building our careers and helping to raise money for non-profits. Then, with our boyfriends and later husbands, we went river rafting, cross-country skiing and on other adventures. As mothers of young sons we sat and chatted at Chuckie Cheese as our kids whacked the moles and dived into ball pits. Later we'd meet to explore Sonoma and Petaluma or enjoy a seaside weekend away from it all and generally try to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up.
Marcia passed away last night after a relatively short battle with cancer. She leaves behind two college-age sons, a husband, two brothers and her father as well as a wide circle of family and friends to whom her name will always be a blessing.
Marcia inspired several of the recipes that have appeared in Blog Appetit. Among them is Marcia's Mom's wonderful mini cheesecakes. Please check out the post which includes some remembrances of Marcia's mom as well as the recipe. I'll be making a batch for after the memorial service. I'll top them with slices of kiwi fruit, the only green fruit I could think of. Oh, and I plan on carrying or wearing something green to the service as a connection to a friend's spirit that will never be forgotten.
Update: Her obit here
Read all about it here.
Here's the Hershey press release which talks about profits and sales increases and mentions closing two unnamed plants as it consolidates its Artisan Chocolate subsidary. (Guess we know know which two plants they mean.)
California, already hard hit by job losses, loses another 150 jobs. The Bay area loses a tasty piece of its soul. Losing locally made truffles is not a trifle out here.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Pink Sky is about crafts and food and the winner of my I Wanna Be a Food Writer Menu for Hope V package.
Viet World Kitchen cooks up not just Vietnamese and Asian food but her take on all the cuisines that make up American food.
A Year of Crockpotting is no crackpot. She just is a great resource for this timeshifting device.
Eating Simply is about eating healthily and economically, goals I whole-heartedly support.
There are lots of other good blogs out there and several more I plan on adding to my links list soon.
Update: I just found this blog and I'm so excited about its vegetable focus and writing I just had to add it right away" La Vida Veggie out of Boston.
6/9/11 Update: Pink Sky has not been active since 2009, but her old posts are still up and inspiring. Viet World Kitchen is still posting and as active and wonderful as ever. Year of Crockpotting, is still there and still a good source for slow cooking and other recipes, but fame has come with a price. She writes a number of sponsored posts. They are well marked as such and still informative. Eating Simply seems to have morphed into Kari's Creations, a food and gardening blog with some wonderful photography. La Vida Veggie is well not necessarily veggie anymore but still posting.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Don't get me wrong, I think soups from scratch are the best and I prefer not to base my cooking on a lot of processed foods, but sometimes you just need something quick. I also prefer to source as much as I can locally and not support a German-owned chain, but gosh darn, I love TJ's, so I try to use it in moderation. I don't need a Trader Joe's intervention, yet.
Another Trader Joe's Inspired Soup
Makes about 6 servings
Olive oil or olive oil spray
1/2 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
One 16 ounce bag of defrosted frozen Trader Joe's roasted vegetables in balsamic sauce (okay to microwave frozen to reach defrosted state)
32 ounce box of chicken stock (I like Pacific more than TJ's own brands, but either works) or veggie stock
14-16 ounces of diced, canned tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
Oil or spray soup pot. Over medium high heat, saute onions until golden, add garlic, saute until just turning color. Add vegetable mix, saute a few minutes, until pats of seasoned butter melt into mixture. Add stock and tomatoes. Simmer and cover (lowering heat if needed) until vegetables are heated through and it tastes like soup. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
No Trader Joe's? You can make this soup with any frozen, seasoned vegetables. Look for a mix that is roasted and maybe add a splash of balsamic vinegar to replicate the taste of this soup.
For a vegetarian option -- use vegetable stock. You need the stock for flavor in this soup, I don't advise using plain water.
To see my other lapses in soup making, check out my recipes for Trader Joe's Chicken Fajita Soup and Trader Joe's Green Chicken Soup.
We ate it with grilled provolone cheese and pesto sandwiches on the side (it's fun having a panini grill!), which perhaps negated some of the lower calorie aspects of the soup.
Monday, January 19, 2009
This was featured on Well Fed on the Town and the Well Fed "front page." Check it out there to see any comments and the photo of Linda and her laktes.
Life was sweet in San Francisco this Sunday. It was also salty, sour, saucy and very tasty. It was the opening day of the Winter Fancy Food Show, sponsored by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, Inc.
About 17,000 food buyers and other attendees swarmed the more than 1,200 exhibits featuring everything delicious, at least to someone. Most booths offered some kind of sample. Rare cheeses, serrano ham, and caviar with flavored popcorn, salsa and chips, chocolates and candies, teas, coffees, cookies, and much, much more. In my first relatively quick walk through (which took about five hours) of the 198,000 square feet of exhibit space at SF’s Moscone Center I began to process a bit of what I was seeing and tasting. Some first impressions:
Elvis Lives — Flavored and gourmet peanut butters and bacon-flavored products (including smoked salts and mayonnaise and dips) were in evidence at several booths. One brand of bacon-flavored products was even kosher, a mind boggling thought. Elvis might have especially liked the banana-flavored peanut butter. I know I did.
Sugar and Spice — Flavored and gourmet salts were well represented, besides the bacon-flavored salts. I was intrigued with a chocolate-flavored salt. With all the chocolate caramels I tasted at the show made with sea salt, grey salt, fleur de sel, Hawaiian salt, wine-infused salt, etc, it seems like a natural match. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to sample that. Flavored sugars, spice mixes and spice rubs were also well represented. One exhibitor that caught my eye was The Spicy Gourmet which offers a “grind-it-yourself” assortment of spices (including a spice grinder).
Tea Tease — Each year I attend there seems to be more and more tea vendors. While there are still plenty of traditional tea bags out there, loose teas and more “authentic teas” are gaining favor. I spent some time at the Dragon Pearl Whole Teas booth, learning about the benefits of organic tea. I also noticed that oolong tea seems to be becoming more of a sought-out ingredient, perhaps because of its association with weight loss. Besides Stash’s oolong blends, I also saw other vendors offering bottles of oolong iced tea, oolong energy and antioxidant drinks and more. Puerh tea seems to be coming into its own, too, especially at the Numi booth.
Children’s Hour — Motherhood seems to be the motivation for some gourmet products from Linda’s latkes (potato pancakes) to whole grain porridge. I also saw a number of exhibits with baking or cooking kits aimed at the young. For the young at heart there were jars of buttercream just waiting to be spread on cupcakes, gourmet lollipops and homemade marshmallows.
Around the World — While vendors from around the world were scattered through the show floor, there were some national groups — Canada, Chile, Italy, Spain, France come to mind. I also saw some exhibitors from Tunisia (a lot of olive oil and tuna fish) and even Egypt (frozen vegetables).
Chocolates — The trend toward single “vintage” or single source chocolate continues, as does flavoring chocolate with wines, spices and chilies. I didn’t notice as many sources of hot chocolate as I had in the past, but the one I tried I nearly swooned over. Belgian chocolate ganache on a stick you swirl in hot milk. (I also tried swirling it in my coffee for a luscious mocha.)
Downsizing — I saw some cheeses and even a pate that were boasting they now come in smaller serving sizes. I don’t know if that is a price issue or a way to get into the single serving market, but I thought it was interesting.
Health Matters — Lots and lots of drinks and teas promoted for your health, but I saw a lot fewer mangosteen and pomegranate options than in the past. Flavoring goodies with agave nectar (for a lower glycemic impact than sugar) and offering gluten free products seemed to be new trends. There were also a few booths promoting products to freshen your breathe.
Mix It Up — I saw lots and lots of mixes ranging from packs for slow-cooker dinners to the ubiquitous chocolate lava cake. One I won’t be trying soon is the carrot cake whoopie pie. When I make whoopie, I want chocolate.
I’ll be digesting everything I saw (and tasted) for a while and look forward to writing more about the companies, products and trends I discovered
Food Fete Update -- I attended a "media" event designed to showcase sponsored brands at the Fancy Food Show called Food Fete on Monday night. As usual, it was a great time (thanks Jeff and Dave and staff). I tend to use the event as background info for future posts not the stuff of a post on it's own. But Ben of Cooking With the Single Guy did a fabulous write up over on his blog, so I'm linking to it here so you can see what we ate, who we met, etc.
About the photo — Special for Blog Appetit readers -- Choco-O-Lait's Belgian hot chocolate on a stick.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Here's a link to the short, but sad blurb about the move.
I'm going to blog more on this later. As a former newspaper journalist, I have a lot of concerns about what this means.
If you have any insights to share, leave them in the comments.
I wrote a post on my first impressions for Well Fed on the Town. As soon as it posts (which I hope will be first thing tomorrow), I'll link to it or repost it here so you can read all about my adventures in fine (and not so fine) food.
The best thing I ate today was perhaps Choc-O-Lait's Belgian hot chocolate (ganache on a stick you swirl into hot milk). If I wasn't such a chocoholic it might have been some of the wonderful cheese, sausages or other savories I sampled, but I have my priorities.
Things I wished I hadn't put in my mouth -- tofu jerky (original flavor, maybe one of the other variations would have been better, but I just couldn't taste another), a vegetarian "roast," and a chocolate-covered Asian rice cracker (small but deadly).
The best non-chocolate drink I sipped today -- a tie between Zhena Gypsy's Cacaoberry tea (which is good for you, too), Tea Forte's lemongrass mint infuser for spirits and cocktails and Fever-Tree's bitter lemon soda.
The drink I wished I had skipped today -- a bright pink, sugary kid's drink I had been curious about. Amazingly the blue one wasn't that bad.
Food that most surprised me -- Laxmi's Delights' organic golden flaxseed spread with dates and orange juice. It had a taste something like a chutney crossed with halavah and almond butter. I immediately started thinking how I would use it in grilled sandwiches, crepes and dosas.
Biggest thrill -- Getting to meet Paul Prudhomme, who is one of my sister's favorite chefs. (I got his autograph for her, really nice guy.) My sister swears by his blackened redfish spice mix which she uses for everything from dips to, well, blackened redfish.
Watch for the Well Fed piece for my not-to-serious take on some trends and other products I liked.
The best part of the show for me was getting to meet the people who make the different food products. I hope to research and feature these producers and their products in the weeks to come.
About the photo: Chef Paul Prudomme at the show today
Saturday, January 17, 2009
For the recipe and instructions, see the original post here.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I had to recreate the recipe afterwards, so some details are a bit fuzzy, but it is a very flexible concept based on what I had in the house -- no special shopping trips were made for this dish. So feel free to make your own substitutions.
I recognize where some of the concepts came from -- my sister's Cuban picadillo, my penchant for stuffing vegetables, my love of Spanish food, an interesting bag of mixed grains from the pantry and a half bunch of spinach from the fridge, but honestly, the dish came to me out of nowhere when I was in the mood to just cook not cook for the blog. While the dish was coming together I realized it had potential, so I did take its picture.
Spanish Stuffed Peppers with Smoked Paprika Tomato Sauce
Serves Four to Six
The ground turkey filling has a wonderful, warm, full taste and is good on its own without being stuffed in the peppers if that is easier or more practical for you. (Or if you have leftover filling after you have stuffed the peppers.) The tomato sauce adds a nice smoky note. Use regular paprika if you don't have the Spanish smoked paprika. It will still be delicious. The recipe took me about 45 minutes start to finish, but my grain mix cooked in 10 minutes. Allow more time if you are using brown rice or other long-cooking grain.
Don't be intimidated by the lengthy list of ingredients or instructions. It really is relatively easy and very impressive. The flavors of the dish really did remind me of the foods I've eaten in Spain. While I put this together for a family meal, I think it would make a nice "company" dish.
For a vegetarian version, try with lentils, white beans, veggie soy ground "meat" or crumbled tofu instead of the ground turkey.
6 small to medium red bell peppers, "lids" cut off and reserved, seeded and cleaned
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika (regular, not hot or smoky)
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
20 ounces of ground turkey
1 cup diced tomatoes (I used canned, drained)
1/2 bunch of fresh spinach, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped (I used the kind stuffed with pimento)
1 cup cooked grain(s) -- I used a mix that included Israeli couscous and other grains. Regular couscous, bulgar, brown or white rice, millet or a tiny pasta such as orzo would also work.
8 ounce can of plain tomato sauce
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of cooked grain (see comments above)
Stand the red bell peppers up on their bases in a microwave safe baking pan. Slice a bit off the bottom of any of the peppers that wobble. (Reserve scraps with reserved pepper tops). Put a half cup of water in the bottom of the baking dish and microwave on high for about 5-8 minutes or until the pepper shells are tender but not mushy. Drain water out of dish. Set peppers aside in baking dish.
Trim the leftover pepper "lids" and chop any usable red pepper. Chop any scraps cut from the bottoms of the peppers. Reserve.
Heat oil in large skillet. Saute onions until just golden, add garlic and saute until it begins to color.
Add red pepper flakes, cumin and paprika. Saute for a minute until they release their aromas. Add reserved red pepper scraps, carrots and celery. Saute for a few minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the ground meat, breaking up any big clumps, and brown well, stirring often. When the meat is almost cooked through, add tomatoes and spinach, cook, stirring occasionally until the spinach has wilted. Add chopped olives, stirring well to combine. Cook until meat is cooked through. Add the one cup of cooked grain. Stir well to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Set aside.
Make the sauce. In a small saucepan combine tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, olive oil and smoked paprika. Stir well and cook until heated through. Taste. Add sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. (The sugar balances out the acid in the tomato sauce. Some brands need it, others don't, so taste first.)
Assemble the peppers. Stand the peppers in a microwave safe baking dish and using a large spoon pack full of the ground meat mixture. Spoon some of the tomato sauce on top of each pepper. Microwave on high for 5-10 minutes or until the peppers are heated through.
Reheat sauce and cooked grain if necessary. Serve the peppers with the cooked grain and remaining sauce.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The paper also included a recipe of mine -- Portuguese Potato and Greens Soup.
You can find all my posts on the Hunger Challenge ($1/person/meal) here.
Hunger Challenge participants Amy Sherman (cookingwithamy.blogspot.com), Genie Gratto (theinadvertentgardener.com), also contributed recipes and interviews to the article.
Other hunger challenge participants were: La Petit Appetit, Vanessa Barrington, Been There At That, and Pop Consumer.
We formed a supportive network and working together helped make a difference. It was a great experience for a great cause.
I have not finished labeling all the recipes I consider on the thrifty side, but you can get a taste of them under the budget cuisine category.
SF Weekly logo from www.sfweekly.com
Friday, January 09, 2009
There is a remarkable experience available every Sunday in a residential neighborhood in Berkeley where the local Thai temple serves an amazing brunch. Members of the congregation cook and serve and people throughout the bay come for the steam table Thai food, the colors, sights and smells of alfresco dining, perhaps a peek at Buddha and the temple, and a feeling of connection with each other and with a country half a world away.
I first went to the Wat Mongkolratanaram temple brunch a few years ago, had a wonderful time and took some nice photos and filed it under "I need to blog about this," but got busy with other things and kinda forgot about it.
Now the Sunday morning tradition is endangered since it seems that the temple's residential neighbors are a little tired of some 1,352 visitors for brunch every Sunday and the temple's operating permit from the city only allowed three such brunches a year. The temple has filed to revamp its permit and has tried to ameliorate some of its neighbors' concerns as to parking, hours, trash, etc., so I hope some compromise can be reached at the February 12 Berkeley Zoning Adjustment Board Meeting since not only is the brunch a remarkable event to participate in, it raises a lot of money for the temple and its cultural center.
When I went, the food was good, not great. There were vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. I remember the mango sticky rice dessert with a lot of fondness. We had waited for a nice day, since all seating is outside. We went into the temple and enjoyed talking to the monk who was there from Thailand.
The site I found for the temple was all in Thai.
Info on the Thai cultural center (in English)
Save the Thai Temple has updates on the permit and links to the planning board and other sites.
This article in Harboiled, the UC Berkeley Asian American news magazine, has a lot of background
There is a Facebook page dedicated to saving the Sunday brunch and helping the Thai temple.
For more info on the food and the brunch experience, check out the temple's Yelp listing here. There are something like 271 reviews of the experience listed.
Note: Brunch hours are now 10 to 1. The temple is located at 1911 Russell St., Berkeley, CA 94703. Phone is (510) 849-3419
While I cook Thai food quite often (and eat it out even more often), I really haven't blogged much about it. You can read some of my Thai curry recipes here and here. But do what I do when I am looking for a Thai recipe, check out Chez Pim's Thai recipe category.
Update: The Thai Temple received preliminary approval from the zoning board. The temple still awaits final approval and could face appeals from the neighbors. As of this writing, Sunday brunch is still being served (4/1/09).
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
It took me awhile, but I thought I would give Twitter a try and I finally signed up tonight. You can check out my latest twitters on the bottom of my sidebar. If you would like to follow me my Twitter user name is blogappetit, what else (well FJK was taken). It was hard to get my first update down to 140 characters!
If you are also on Twitter and would like me to follow you -- leave a comment below with your user name so I can find you in the Twittersphere! (Or you can email me through my Blogger profile)
Monday, January 05, 2009
Over the years it has served me well and I have had to put little effort (except for the big changeover to layouts) to preserving it and have been able to focus on developing my writing and recipes.
But now I feel it needs an overhaul. When I look at other blogs Blog Appetit's look seems cluttered and futzy. I feel like an AM blog in an HD world. The feeling has been building for awhile, I've just been waiting for Blogger to introduce some new templates. I am unsure if Blogger will be doing this anytime soon, so I am now planning to customize some of the least futzy of the Blogger templates and see if I can make Blog Appetit reflect more who I am, what I am trying to communicate and how I want the world to view me.
I've started looking at the source codes for Blogger blogs I like (I feel like a peeping Tom when I do, though) and it is really amazing to see how many blogs out there are customized off of Blogger templates to the point where you'd never recognize the source template. You'd never guess what deservedly popular blogger bases her blog off a Thisaway Rose Blogger template!
I think of it as code surgery and I'm contemplating a little code lift (facelift) to several of the templates out there. Two contenders are Minima and Minima Stretch (the blank canvases of Blogger templates), but lately Denim (examples here and here for demo purposes only) is leading the pack. ( For an example of Minima, click here.)
I'll add more on this post later as well as some thoughts on revamping recipes for changing tastes (maybe, we'll see)
UPdate 1/16/09 -- Looks like I'm not going Minima. As per my very excellent son's suggestion, I'm going to phase in a new look in stages I'm more comfortable with. More soon.
Friday, January 02, 2009
Flora, in downtown Oakland, is a relatively new restaurant by the folks behind Dona Tomas. It was just listed as one of the top 10 new restaurants of the San Francisco Bay area by the San Francisco Chronicle. The menu (and cocktails) were inventive, the food was great and I really liked how most dishes came with lots of greens and other vegetables, many with vegetable or herb-based sauces as well. My sweetbreads appetizer came atop a potato and Brussels sprouts base that I seriously considered writing poetry about. Our service was a little erratic and the ambiance is on the casual side. It's a bit noisy. Flora is in the old floral depot and its owners preserved the wonderful blue tile exterior. I can't find a website for Flora, but here's the link to the Chronicle article and reviews.
Herbivore in Berkeley is kind of an upscale, vegan diner. Prices are reasonable and portions are large. My vegetables in red curry with brown rice felt virtuous and was tasty. I was less impressed by my companions' watery pasta and sauce or pedestrian looking portobello mushroom sandwich. However, the menu has international flare, the dining room, while not exactly charming, was not charmless. I'd go again just for the giant appetizer plate of roasted and grilled vegetables with a trio of dipping sauces. There are also two locations in San Francisco.
Vik's Chaat House in Berkeley is an old favorite that never fails to please me. My friend Mona helped me decipher the menu and the specials. One new dish to me was Pav Bhaji, a Bombay street food speciality made with vegetables and lots of ginger and served with grilled or toasted bread.
Last but not least, I ate at Lalime's in Berkeley, an old favorite I have eaten at for more than 20 years. The food, as usual, was impeccably prepared, but the plating was dull after all the color and zing of Flora's. Service was exquisite. The highlight of the meal was the dessert. We ordered two to share and although they were not particularly exotic (chocolate fondant cake and vanilla creme brulee), the presentations were unexpected. The cake (the kind with the "lava" liquid center) came on a plate with a small scoop of caramel/brown sugar tasting ice cream, a shot glass of custard topped with fresh whipped cream and a large chocolate frill. The plate also had a golden "loop" of sugar candy. The creme brulee came with three perfect little cookies -- a meringue, a citrusy tasting French macaroon, and a butter cookie.
A special thanks to Jody, Art, Gary, Seth, Mark, Karen, Mona, Noah and Leora for helping me celebrate my birthday.
Please note: I don't "do" restaurant reviews, I just write about my experiences. I feel to do a true review requires multiple visits and a more varied tasting of the menu than I do. If you have had a different experience than I did, you probably went on a different night or ordered differently. Want to share your thoughts about these restaurants? Please leave a comment below.