Showing posts from July, 2016

Meet Viola Buitoni

When I lived in Italy I was both very lucky to know a few Italians who treated me like family, and very naive. I think back now on my 6 months living in Italy and I can�t help but realize how much I missed. What I really needed was a friend like Viola to help me navigate and find the good stuff. 
Viola Buitoni is a San Francisco cooking instructor and kind of impresario--organizing Italian themed events. She�s also tremendously down-to-earth, relaxed and utterly charming. I took a cooking class with her a few years ago and loved every minute of it. Her classes sell out so quickly I rarely have time to write about them in advance. To travel with her to Italy? That sounds like heaven to me. 
Where did you grow up and can you tell me about your family�s food connections?  VB: I grew up in Perugia, the main city of Umbria and was born into one of Italy's first pasta families. I am the 6th generation of the Buitoni family. Our pasta fortune originates in Sansepolcro, a province of Arezzo.…

Highlights from J-Pop Summit 2016

Not unlike traveling to Japan itself, this past weekend's J-Pop Summit,which combines food, culture, technology and popular music from Japan. delivered a complete sensory overload that made for one of the most immersive experiences this side of virtual reality. It's hard to know where to begin to describe it as words and pictures only scratch the surface. But, for me, the Ramen Summit with 8 booths serving their own take on this foodie favorite was a major draw.  The ramen on offer here came in so many different styles that it was tough deciding but I went with a bowl of ramen from a very sucessful ramen shop with 3 locations in Tokyo that will soon be is opening up in Japantown. Hinodeya is the winner of the Japan Ramen Awards for 2016 and after tasting their ramen, I can see why. The dashi broth was much lighter but at the same time very rich. The egg noodles were wider and wavier than other ramen but still al dente. The slice of pork and cooked egg were tender and delicious.…

Foodie Memoirs

In the Summer you need a book or two that you can take on a plane or to the beach. These are the my picks for Summer reads: 

My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family with Recipes
I think I was afraid this book by a nutritionist would be about dieting. It turns out it is and it really isn�t. It�s all about family and author Dawn Lerman paints such vivid pictures of hers that the recipes are just an added bonus. From the very beginning her feelings are tied up with those who feed her and those who don�t. You can feel the plastic covers on her Bubbe Mary�s couch and smell her dad�s �closet� brownies. And even if you didn�t grow up in Chicago in the 70�s, or move to NYC and go to school on the Upper East Side, you can�t help but relate to her memories of her dieting dad, frustated mom, beloved younger sister and especially her doting grandmother Beauty. The book is all about her love for and evolving relationships with her family, her heritage and yes, food adventures of her own. It�s…

Squash Blossom Pasta Recipe

Summer is in full swing and so are the farmers markets. It�s a joy to walk around and see all the juicy peaches, luscious strawberries, plump eggplants, and many colors, shapes and sizes of peppers and squash. Much as I like Summer squash, I�m even more crazy about their younger selves�squash blossoms. They are wonderful stuffed and fried, in frittata, risotto, in quesadillas and of course, with pasta. 
I am a pasta maniac and swear I could eat a pound of it in one sitting. But I�ve been experimenting lately and I�ve found I can be satisfied with a whole lot less pasta if I add a lot of other ingredients. This recipe is a perfect example. It has plenty of vegetables and just a little pasta. It uses very few ingredients so use the absolute best you can get from either your garden or a farmers market. 
Squash blossoms are very delicate and I like this technique of just blanching them in the pasta water rather than sauteeing them. Many recipes use to many other strong flavored ingredients …

Can-It-Forward Day & Giveaway!

Every year Jarden Home Brands, maker of Ball jars and canning products hosts the Can-It-Forward Day. It�s a good reminder to learn more about preserving, discover their new products and do a little canning. 

This year you'll find The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. It�s the biggest book they�ve ever put out with over 350 recipes for canning, jamming, pickling and preserving.

There are so many cool recipes in this book! Harissa, Worcestershire sauce, fermented Ginger Bug, Citrus Vanilla Bean Marmalade, Whole Grain Thyme Mustard, even Cold Cured Salmon with gin or vodka. There are also guides to dehydrating, freezing and canning fruit and vegetables. It has beautiful photos from H�l�ne Dujardin

This year I canned cherries for pie, using a recipe from the new book. It was easy as pie! If you�ve never canned pie filling I highly recommend it. It might be the easiest introduction to canning ever. 
The recipe instructs you to combine 6 cups of cherries with 1/2 cup sugar and …

Slow Cooker Smoked Chicken Recipe

Recently I was working on some recipes for a client and was tasked with making �faux barbecue.� By faux, I mean no smoker, no grill. In fact, all the recipes were to be made in a slow cooker. I don�t use a slow cooker very often so I wasn�t sure the recipes would even work. Boy was I wrong!
If you are looking for an easy way to cook chicken, this is it. It stays tremendously moist and flavorful and the meat is particularly good for using in sandwiches, salads or even tacos or enchiladas. One of the secrets to this recipe is dry brining the bird. That just means sprinkling it with salt before cooking. Salting it 24 hours ahead is fine, but 48 hours is even better. 
Don�t freak out over the use of 1/4 cup of liquid smoke. It does not actually touch the bird so you�re not ingesting it at all. In any case, liquid smoke is a natural and safe ingredient. Experts agree you'd have to ingest 3 whole bottles to cause any harm. 
This recipe in particular didn't go to print because it uses a…

Food & Drink Non Fiction & Fun

I meant to post about these books in the Fall but somehow the post got lost. These books are each a lot of fun and good no matter what the season. 

Drinking the Devil�s Acre A Love Letter from San Francisco & Her Cocktails.
If you love San Francisco you will be absolutely charmed by this book. Author Duggan McDonnell is something of a renaissance man�a barkeep, author, historian, a teacher and has been involved in the introduction of a pisco and Jardesca. He�s also a wonderful writer. The book details secret bartender formulas, stories behind classic and contemporary cocktails as well as recipes, stories from many eras in our city by the bay, and so much more. Learn why so many cocktails in San Francisco use citrus, why San Franiscans love the negroni and all things bitter, how tequila made its way to California etc. It�s a pure pleasure.  The Mad Feast An Ecstatic Tour Through America's Food This book is an �anti-cookbook.� It is a series of surprising essays about iconic but som…

Cherry Barbecue Sauce Recipe & Giveaway!

I�m happy to once again be participating as a Canbassador. I received some sweet dark red cherries that are as delicious as the season is fleeting. Preserving them is the best way to savor them a little bit longer. Last year I canned some cherries with bourbon. I can�t find the recipe I used and frankly I put the jars so far back in my pantry that I forgot about them until a couple of weeks ago. I just opened the first jar and they turned out to be delicious. I probably got the idea from

This year I used my cherries to make one batch of cherry pie filling and jars of cherry barbecue sauce. I looked at a couple of recipes, but mostly my recipe is adapted from a recipe from Taste of Home magazine. While the technique is the same, I switched up the seasonings, decreased the sugar and blended it smooth.

The sauce is really good on pulled pork. You can try it with this super easy recipe I developed for preparing it in the slow cooker. But it would also be great on ribs…

Pintxos Party! A How To Guide

Grazing is my favorite form of eating. I would happily give up meals in favor of all day snacking. That�s what's so great about pintxos. The Spanish tradition of eating little bites and sometimes larger �raciones� of food to go with drinks is perfect for a snack or a meal or even a party.

If the idea of lots of cooking for a party doesn�t appeal, that�s another reason to consider pintxos. These nibbles, often piled on little slices of bread or speared on toothpicks, use a variety of ingredients that for the most part, don�t need to be cooked.

Thanks to a care package from Donostia Foods, I put together a little pintxos party of my own. I relied on a variety of conservas, or preserves. In Spain they preserve olives, fish, seafood and vegetables. Combined with fresh vegetable, cheeses, fruits and a few other things, you can whip up party fare in no time. While we often wax poetic about fresh ingredients, preserved products add another element altogether. Think succulent canned tuna be…