Showing posts from June, 2015

Michael Mina at Kapalua Wine & Food Festival

I am just back from the 34th annual Kapalua Wine & Food Festival which is the longest running food and wine festival of its kind not just in Maui, but in the country.  
It started out as a wine only event but morphed over the years. Today food is a big part of it with celebrity chefs, classes and tasting events. I got a chance to attend a lunch cooking demo class with Chef and restaurateur Michael Mina and was pleased to see RN74 Executive Chef Adam Sobel acting as right hand man. 
Here are some learnings from the event--
- Mina said the biggest mistake home cooks make is not tasting or not knowing what you�re tasting for. Following a recipe is not enough, you must taste. Ingredients are not consistent, they are different all the time and you need to adjust your recipes. 
- The four elements he considers most important? Acidity, spice, sweetness and richness, but not all dishes have all four. 
- When plating he said, put the pot down! You are going for control. If the pot is on the cou…

Cauliflower with Chorizo, Tomatoes and Tahini Sauce Recipe

I love how sometimes seemingly random ingredients come together. This dish of roasted cauliflower and chorizo with fresh tomatoes and greens and tahini sauce was created based on what I had on hand. But it was really tasty and something I would make again.

A lot of times when I interview chefs and cookbook authors, I ask how they come up with recipes. I have to admit, I don't usually get very satisfying answers. But recently I met cookbook author Anna Jones. Her book, A Modern Way to Eat has a really cool graphic to explain how she puts together dishes. It goes something like this:

Hero Ingredient
How Shall I Cook it?
Supporting Role?
Add an Accent
Add a Flavor
Add an Herb
Add some Crunch
Season and Finish

Her formula has a lot of components and is designed to add layers of flavor and texture to a dish. Do you have a formula that you use or can you deconstruct a dish according to elements? It's a fun exercise and can lead to some interesting new combinations. My formula for this …

Unforgettable: Bold Flavors from a Renegade Life

I'm a big fan of Paula Wolfert. She has an amazing talent for a kind of culinary cultural anthropology, exploring various cuisines, digging in deep, learning and documenting recipes like nobody's business. I have relished my time with her, especially at her home in Sonoma and subsequently in a class. I love hearing her stories, getting her career advice, not to mention having her cook for me. So I couldn't be more excited to learn of the plan to document her extraordinary life, along with some of her most important recipes. Leading the charge is former Food & Wine editor and cookbook author, Emily Thelin. The top team also includes photographer Eric Wolfinger and my friend, Andrea Nguyen who is acting as project manager.
I was planning to run this interview with Andrea in hopes of encouraging you to support the project and help it to meet its goal. Fortunately the initial goal has been reached. Now it's time to s-t-r-e-t-c-h and make this project even more special b…

Interview with Hugh Acheson

Chef Hugh Acheson released his third book, The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits, last month, which I reviewed in a round up of Southern cookbooks recently. It's an exciting cookbook with truly creative combination of ingredients and a focus on using vegetables you might just find at a farmers market or in a CSA box. We got a chance to meet and talk while he was in San Francisco just last week. 
Where have you been eating in the Bay Area? Any standouts? Octavia, La Taqueria, Deli Board. For coffee--Sightglass, Blue Bottle and Coffee Cultures. Up in Healdsburg--Healdsburg Shed,Scopa, Dry Creek Kitchen. Hana for sushi in Rohnert Park was phenomenal. I'm looking forward to checking out Souvla today. 
What kinds of restaurants appeal to you the most?  I�m always looking for current and contemporary and "ethnic" food. When I travel it�s usually long days, so I don't want a three hour, 12 course meal, I find them exhausting, I don�t eat much, …

Wine of Alsace: Wine on Friday

Many years ago I explored the little villages and towns on the famous �route du vin" in the Alsace. I was charmed by the rolling landscape of vineyards, dotted with medieval towns with cobblestone streets, castles and half-timbered houses with colorful flowering window boxes. And I was excited to see magnificent white storks nesting on rooftops.

The food in the Alsace is outstanding, two typical dishes are choucroute with sausages and sauerkraut and potatoes and flammekueche, a wood fired tart with creamy onion topping and lardons, that is like a French version of pizza. I would eat one right now if I could!  The region has a German influence and shares many of the same wine varietals, but there are clear differences. While German wines tend to be lower in alcohol and sweeter, the French wines of this region are often floral, fruity, dry and richer with just a bit more alcohol, little or no oak and well priced. Needless to say, the wines of the Alsace are well worth getting to know…

Strawberry Cheese Tartine Recipe

If you like soft, rich, creamy cheeses, you�ve probably discovered triple creme cheeses like St. Andre and double creme cheeses like brie. Double creme cheeses are between 60 and 75% butterfat. Triple creme cheeses are over 75% butterfat. Saint Angel from Fromagerie Guilloteau is something in the middle. It�s 71% butterfat, so technically it's a double creme cheese, but it has a texture much more similar to a triple creme cheese. 
Fromagerie Guilloteau the maker of Fromager d�Affinois cheeses including Saint Angel uses a process of �ultrafiltration� of milk, which not only shortens the aging time, but helps the cheese to retain a higher concentration of protein and calcium. Saint Angel is a white bloomy rind cow's milk cheese with fairly mild and subtle flavor but a little bit of tang and an intensely silky texture. It�s easy to spread and when I read that it was recommended with grilled bread or summer berries, I knew immediately how I was going to use it. 
I love the idea of t…

Vinho Verde: Wine on Friday

There's a sommelier I know who compares wine to people--she says Zinfandel is a dude, Pinot Noir is an elegant lady. If I had to choose a wine that fits with my personality, it might just be Vinho Verde. It�s fresh, approachable, bright, straight forward, and sometimes a little bit bubbly. And it loves food. 
Vinho Verde means green wine, but it�s not the color green, it�s green meaning young. This inexpensive wine is intended to be consumed right after it's bottled. It�s low in alcohol and could not be more refreshing. Vinho Verde is usually a blend of Portuguese white varietals including Arinto, Loureiro and Trajadura and sometimes Alvarinho, which in Spanish is Albari�o. It comes from one of the oldest wine regions in Portugal, produced on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula. It's a region I'd very much like to visit. 
I fell in love with Vinho Verde when I was researching Portuguese wines for Wine Passport Portugal. When I discovered it I couldn�t understand …

New Southern Cookbooks

Southern cooking is having a moment. It�s a cuisine that has deep roots in America, and great historical impact, but you could argue that it got derailed somewhere in the last few decades. Its main ingredients have often reflected what was abundant and inexpensive. When the South was an agrarian economy, that meant vegetables and whole grains. But as cheap commodity food penetrated American society, it really took hold in the South (think packaged and convenience food.) Sadly you'll still find more canned and frozen food than fresh in many parts of the South to this day.

But Southern food is rising again! And it�s not one size fits all. There are several different takes on it and all of them aim to be true to the history of the cuisine while also making it more relevant for today. Here are three recent examples in cookbook form.
The Broad Fork: Recipes for the Wide World of Vegetables and Fruits is written by Hugh Acheson, the award winning chef and restaurateur, and Southern transp…