Showing posts from May, 2015

Kendall Jackson Vintner's Reserve Pinot Gris 2014: Wine on Friday

Pinot Gris is a light, bright and uncomplicated wine that's refreshing and easygoing. It's the perfect wine for a Spring garden dinner party. And that's just the way Kendall-Jackson chose to introduce their new Vintner's Reserve Pinot Gris recently. 
Kendall-Jackson has always impressed me as a winery that puts their money where their mouth is when it comes to claiming "food friendly wine." They have a restaurant in Healdsburg called Partake by KJ and host a whole variety of food and wine pairing tasting experiences at their estate which has a vast organic garden including a sensory garden to help demystify food and wine pairing and explain the flavors in wine. Culinary gardener Tucker Taylor showed us around, explaining his gardening techniques and pointing out some very interesting varietals including celtuce, a cross between celery and lettuce and spigarello, a leafy green with tender curly shoots.
The garden produces enough for not just the winery but for lo…

Steel Cut Oats Taste Test

For years my husband insisted that we should only buy McCann�s Irish Oatmeal, but I generally bought whatever steel cut oats were available and just refilled the McCann�s tin with them. I honestly didn�t think one brand of steel cut oats could possibly be that different from another. I was wrong. But it turns out, so was my husband. 
Recently I got a sample of Flahavan�s Irish Oatmeal. The company has been around for over 200 years and is still family owned. They grow and mill their oats in Ireland. They claim their unique milling�kilning their oats with outer shells, a kind of malting process�helps to retain natural texture and golden color and yields a very creamy taste. The oats tasted great, but were they better than any other steel cut oats? The only way to know for sure was to do a blind taste test. 
So we tasted four different brands of steel cut oats: Bob�s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats, McCann�s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal, Flahavan�s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal and Country Choice Organic St…

California Roll Tartine Recipe

After completing some recipes for a client recently I was looking for something to do with leftover fake crab, and it occurred to me that the most common way to use it was in a California Roll. But I gave it a twist making a California Roll Tartine instead, using toasted whole grain bread, topped with sliced avocado, unrolled "crab legs" and thin slices of cucumber. If you like a California Roll, you can be pretty sure you're going to like the sandwich too. 
According to one of my favorite food history resources, The Food Timeline, two different Japanese sushi chefs coming out Los Angeles in the early 1970's are credited for having invented the California Roll, an Americanized sushi that quickly became very popular. The sushi roll sometimes uses real crab but more often uses fake crab, made from surimi. The roll was invented around the same time imitation crab was produced and patented. 
This was the first time I ever bought a package of crab sticks. Call it imitation …

Shrubs and Shims

If you�re looking for drinks that you can make at home, ones that are more interesting than run of the mill sodas and lighter than typical cocktails, shrubs and shims are something you should check out. Shrubs are fruit and vinegar based drinks, and the basic sugar, vinegar and fruit based syrups used to make them can also be used to make soda or fresh cocktails. Shims are lighter alcohol cocktails. It�s a term dreamed up by Dinah Sanders, author of The Art of the Shim.

The thing about shrubs is that you can take the basic formula of one part sugar plus one part vinegar plus one part fruit and endlessly riff on it. Try adding aromatics or herbs, or using cucumber instead of fruit. Use the syrups in salad dressings, in popsicles or in whatever drink you can dream up. The word shrub comes from the Farsi word, sharbat, which means drinking vinegar. They were popular with early colonists in the US and on farms, where surplus fruit could be preserved with simple vinegar and sugar. 
The idea …

Galaxy Desserts By The Numbers

Recently I got a chance to visit Galaxy Desserts, a local pastry company that is now part of Brioche Pasquier, a family-owned French brioche bakery, the largest producer in all of France. Brioche Pasquier is currently expanding tremendously and their lines of brioche breads and snacks can be found in supermarkets around the US. Galaxy is most famous for their butter croissants, which are sold frozen, ready to bake. 

Here's what I learned about Galaxy: 

52,000 square feet - Size of the factory, which they have practically outgrown

16,000 - Number of croissants produced in an hour

350 degrees - The temperature for baking the croissants

144 - Layers of pastry and butter in each croissant

50 - Percentage of croissants versus pastry produced in the factory

15-22 minutes - The time it takes to bake the croissants 

8 hours - The approximate time for the croissants to defrost and rise before baking

Almost 6 - Time it takes Galaxy to make the croissants, from start to finish

4 - Number of times Gala…

Fort Street Food Crawl, Victoria, BC

Fort Street is one of my favorite spots in Victoria. It has distinctive Edwardian and Victorian architecture and some lovely antique shops. In that way it typifies �classic Victoria.� But that�s not the whole story. It�s also dotted with some of the most interesting and diverse eating establishments in town. It truly reflects the energy and vibrancy of Victoria today. ??

On a recent visit I learned that Victoria has hundreds of restaurants and a thriving tech economy. I met coffee roasters, bakers and chefs from countries all over the world. Victoria is no longer just a sleepy British enclave but surprisingly cosmopolitan and modern for a city with a population of under 100k (the surrounding area is much larger).

I can�t think of a more pleasurable way to spend some time than to meander up and down Fort Street stopping to window shop and have some snacks. Here are some of my top picks for a food crawl.
The Little Cheese Shop has a great selection of local and international cheese, plus…

Duas Quintas Reserva Red Wines: Wine on Friday

I have been very enthusiastic about Portuguese wines ever since I wrote WinePassport: Portugal.  I appreciate that they are generally very food friendly with terrific acidity, and offer excellent value. While many varietals are planted everywhere, some are very particular to countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Like travel, discovering these varietals offers unexpected pleasures. 
In Portugal the same varietals that are used in Port are also used in table wines. But it�s only in recent years that some of the better tables wines have become more readily available abroad. Most port producers also produce table wines. One example is Ramos Pinto, a port producer that is revered for their 30 year tawny port and perhaps most well-known for their promotional posters by famous artists from the 1920's, you may recognize this one called the kiss. 

The Ramos Pinto port house was established in 1880, and in 1919 the owners, two brothers, purchased their first quinta, or estate. Tod…

All about Prunes

Prunes are dried plums. There are many different kinds of plums, but the most common prunes come from the French D�Agen plum tree. Prunes were brought from Damascus to France by Christian crusaders. They are naturally self-persevering thanks to their sugar content. Several years ago the prune industry tried getting people to call prunes �dried plums� but the change didn�t really stick and today they are back to being called prunes once again. It's unfortunate that the word prune has some negative connotations. Personally I think the French name, pruneau, sounds lovely. 
Call them what you like, they have some amazing health properties. They are fairly low in calories and have lots of fiber, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin K, and antibacterial properties. In addition to their well-known digestive benefits, they are also one of the few foods that not only prevent but reverse bone loss thanks to polyphenols. 
Last Spring I went on a trip to visit prune orchards and a Sunsweet processing …

Kimchi Turkey Patty Melt Recipe

It's hard to imagine after working on 35 turkey recipes that I'd be in the mood for another one, but behold the kimchi turkey patty melt! The mammoth recipe development project I've just completed included turkey burgers and I was left with quite a few extra patties. This recipe was actually something my client didn't pick from my master list of concepts but intrigued me enough to make it anyway.

A few months ago I stopped off at Fenton's in Vacaville and ordered a patty melt. I had forgotten how much I love the combination of rye toast, caramelized onions, melted swiss cheese and a thin beef patty. All the ingredients come together in a rich, gooey, toasty and meaty sandwich that really satisfies. The classic diner patty melt was the inspiration for my kimchi melt, which also uses a fully cooked thin patty as opposed to a big thick burger, but replaces the onions with kimchi and the swiss cheese with pepper jack and finally the rye bread with sourdough.

I like thick…