Home cooks have to be a careful when it comes to a cookbook written by a restaurant chef. There often can be a disconnect between what it takes to get restaurant food onto our home tables when we don't have exotic ingredients flown to our doors and a dozen employees to prep them, not to mention years of professional training and the extraordinarily high btu's of a huge, multi-burner professional stove. So when I picked up San Francisco chef Mitch Rosenthal's new cookbook Cooking My Way Back Home, I'll admit I was a little cautious. Was this going to be one of those books that frustrated me with hours of prep work, and too many ingredients and complicated techniques? Read on for what I discovered.
It seems like this is a good year for mushrooms, at least in Northern California. In Berkeley, you can find heaps of delicious looking wild mushrooms at fairly reasonable prices, especially chanterelles, which come in many colors (white, yellow, black.) But what caught my eye recently is the oddly named Fried Chicken Mushroom. Is it true? Does it really taste like fried chicken? At $8.99 a pound, I picked up a small handful for around $2, and took them back to my kitchen to find out.
Have you ever heard of the staff meal, the ritual in which a restaurant's staff will sit down together for a meal before they open for service? If you're like me, you might find yourself a little envious of that meal and curious, too, about what they eat. Marissa Guggiana must have been interested as well, because she sought out restaurants that took their staff meals seriously and paid them a visit, leaving with a handful of recipes and photos to share with us in her new book Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America's Top Restaurants.
If you've ever flown into or out of the San Francisco airport, you have probably looked out the window and wondered about those weird red ponds scattered along the edge of the Bay. Wonder no more: they're sea salt harvesting ponds!
I was recently invited along on Diamond Crystal Salt's annual sea salt harvest right here in the San Francisco Bay. Let me tell you, it was a fascinating trip from Bay to box. Oh, and why the startling red color in those ponds? You'll never guess.
Bi-Rite Market is a well-known San Francisco grocery store located on 18th Street, just down the block from Tartine Bakery and Delfina Restaurant. Across the street, Bi-Rite Creamery is equally famous and if you ever get a craving for salty caramel ice cream, plan on standing in line, a very long line. (Even if it's foggy and 54 degrees and you're wearing sweaters and scarves, you will stand in line.)
So what's a grocery store in San Francisco doing with a cookbook and why should you care? Take a peek at that lovely cake pictured above and then read on for my review.
While chocolate and cheese are an unusual pairing, they're not as mutually exclusive as one would think. Consider chocolate cheesecake or the chocolate drizzled on cannoli, for example. This dessert, which pairs a wedge of double creme cheese with squares of dark chocolate and dead ripe figs, takes this concept to a whole new level. So simple, yet at the same time sophisticated and, well, pretty sexy, too.
Do you know where the apple you are biting into comes from? Is it sprayed with pesticides? Does it come from a box labeled "organically grown," and are you willing to pay a premium for it?
Chef Brian from Trellis, a restaurant in Kirkland, WA, knows exactly where the bulk of his ingredients come from. Why? Because he grows most of it himself. He planted and tends to a 10-acre farm, a place where farming and cooking practices seamlessly intertwine. Cooking through the seasons, cooking with what's at hand — Brian can inspire us home cooks in all these areas.
Have you tasted a berry grown from the soils of Oregon? Chances are you have — about 60 percent of blueberries and blackberries (and marionberries if you're lucky!) come from Oregon farms. With our Northwest climate of cloudiness punctuated by bright bursts of heat, conditions are perfect for the ripest and juiciest of berries. Join farmer Phil and I as we tour a few farms and visit with a local cannery, Oregon Fruit. See more photos below:
On a brilliantly sunny Sunday afternoon in Seattle, we hit up the Ballard Farmers Market, strolling through the tree-lined street, learning about the region's seasonal specialties and sampling an impressive variety of artisan foods. There were sweet cherries and strawberries, curlicue garlic scapes, and the most incredible caramels we've ever tasted…