Apr 152014
 
Eat More Greens: Reasonably Quick Saag Paneer

If there is a more flavorful way to eat greens than as Saag Paneer, I’m not sure what it is.  While it’s a must-have dish every time we go out for Indian food, I’ve also been whipping it up at home– with various degrees of success– for at least a decade. I’ve settled on the recipe below– it’s a good compromise for me between authenticity, flavor, ease of prep, and preservation of all those vitamins in the greens. (That’s why, though it’s more common to blanch the greens and discard their cooking water, along with all the vitamins in it, […]

Feb 152014
 
So You’re Making a Special Occasion Cake. Part 2: Creation

  In Part 1, I discussed all the considerations necessary in the Design phase for a special occasion cake. I gave all of them some thought and  came up with a new cake concept I couldn”t wait to make. Join me below? First, what did I decide on in the design phase? Here are my answers: Theme- It was a wedding! My uncle and his partner of 17 years were marrying and asked me and my wife to be the witnesses at their wedding in San Francisco last week. (They plan to have a party/reception for friends and family later this year.) […]

Feb 032014
 
So You're Making a Special Occasion Cake. Part 1: The Design Phase.

  I’m planning a cake for an upcoming occasion and I thought I’d do a multi-part series here on the creation of a special occasion cake. Today I’m in the design phase, so let’s talk about major considerations when planning a cake for the big event. The cherry blossom themed cake above was one I made at culinary school, in Advanced Baking class, with another student. We made a buttercream for the exterior icing, (Italian meringue buttercream, as I recall.) The layers were a vanilla white cake interspersed with lemon curd. We beat some of the extra lemon curd into some […]

Nov 192013
 
Persimmon Pumpkin Hazelnut Bread, with tips on choosing persimmons and peeling hazelnuts

I’ve adapted this recipe from one my mom made for years when I was a kid– she followed it faithfully every autumn.  The house filled with wonderful aromas while it baked. My dad still has her recipe card from the 70’s; true to the era, it calls for canned pineapple. (I feel like half the recipes of my childhood involved canned pineapple.) I love the design on this recipe card. In this updated recipe, I use this pumpkin bread palette to highlight seasonal ingredients, so I drop the canned pineapple, raisins, and walnuts and swap in diced Fuyu persimmon, pureed Hachiya persimmon, […]

Oct 032013
 
Three Bean Chorizo Chili, and Some Tips on Building and Layering Flavor in Your Own Recipe

I understand from my Facebook feed that something called “football season” has begun. My interest in the sport starts and stops with the prospect of making something yummy to be eaten during a Super Bowl party in January. To this end, I am aware that chili (robust, spicy, pairs well with beer, can be made in advance) is a popular food to accompany football viewing. There are those who say beans have no place in chili. These people are wrong. Beans add contrasting texture, body, flavor, and color. And they go spectacularly well with cheese. You want to cover your […]

Jul 082013
 
A Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Shortbread Tart

This recipe was developed for Slow Food Santa Cruz. We are flush with berries here on the Central Coast, and it’s been strawberry season for well over a month now. If you’re a local, you’ve eaten them fresh, out of hand. You’ve had them over yogurt, and in salads. Now, it’s time to get indulgent. With our local strawberries still at the peak of ripeness, make a Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Shortbread Tart. In this formulation, you will crown crisp, buttery shortbread with glistening strawberries, nestling them into a rich, dark chocolate ganache. The strawberries used in developing this recipe are […]

Jul 012013
 
Spicy Bourbon Shrimp, and how to formulate a pan sauce

I had a plate of spicy, boozy glazed shrimp substantially similar to these in a restaurant a few years ago; after using bread to sop up every last remainder of the sauce, I thought, “I must reverse-engineer these.” (The restaurant is now closed, else I’d link them here; I guess word about these shrimp never got out.) I don’t know how similar my final formulation is to the erstwhile restaurant’s, but I’ve grown inordinately fond of this dish and I’m  done revising the sauce– this is a winner. The sauce is created following general, popular steps for a modern-day pan […]

Jun 102013
 
Braised Peanut Curry Chicken with Thai Gremolata

I used to make my Thai curry paste from scratch; it was an afternoon-long affair, (longer, if you count the time I spent running down all the ingredients), but I was smug in my commitment to authentic flavor. I had learned to make green, red, and Panang curry pastes at the Somphet Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, Thailand, from the wonderful chef who runs the school out of a six-station kitchen attached to her home. She was adamant that using a food processor ruined the taste and soul of the curry paste, and that it must be done with […]

Jun 032013
 
Chocolate Ganache is Deceptively Simple to Make

Have a bowl, a whisk, some chocolate, some heavy cream, and a few minutes to spare? Good. Let’s make ganache. Your ratio of chocolate to cream determines the consistency of your ganache. But the ratio for a good, all-purpose ganache– pourable when warm, firm enough for truffles when chilled– is simple: 1 part cream to 2 parts chocolate. This recipe makes about 2 cups of rich, dark chocolate ganache– enough to pour over a cake for an elegant frosting, chill and then roll tablespoonfuls into balls dusted with cocoa for dozens of truffles or, say, dip a bunch of frozen bananas […]

May 182013
 
Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Breakfast Cake

Every so often I step out on this site and develop a recipe for Food52.com instead. (There are contests! It’s fun!) But I’m thinking about my main site, this one, the whole time… really, I am. Don’t be like that. Anyhow, I came up with this cake for Food52 last month. Now that the whole contest it was involved in is over, I figured I’d post it here too.  They took some gorgeous shots of the cake while they were testing it. (Check them out.) The recipe ended up being a “Community Pick” on the site. Read up on the genesis of […]