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Interests: Cooking, art, nature, birding, music, bicycling
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It would be fascinating to read about the state of the "Fading Feast" foods today*. Although many of the foods are thriving, as you report above, the wild-caught ones -- Pacific salmon and abalone -- are in big trouble (though there is an abalone farm near San Diego that seems to be doing OK). Perhaps there is an ambitious reporter who can follow in Sokolov's footsteps and write a status update. * My copy of the book has not held up well, with much of the pigment faded from the spine during its years on my food book shelf.
Toggle Commented Dec 18, 2011 on Culinary State of America at IDEAS IN FOOD
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A rooftop garden at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill also has some honey bee hives, as an article from CUESA (the operators of the Ferry Building farmers market and various educational programs) explains. The yield of honey has been low so far, but executive chef jW Foster is using it here and there in the kitchen. These hives belong to Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey, who is selling the Fairmont Hotel honey under their brand (but clearly marked as being from Fairmont). Link to the article about Fairmont hotel bees:
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Thanks for the interview. Elizabeth Andoh is one of my food heroes -- with Washoku, she opened my eyes to the brilliance of Japanese home food and taught me how to cook it myself (after several trips to Japan, I already had a good appreciation for the brilliance of restaurant cooking). I bought Kansha right after it was released and have cooked from it several times (I must admit, however, that I failed to read the text at the beginning and end of the book before starting to cook the recipes) with mostly good results. The eggplant two-ways is simply inspired -- it's amazing how a "waste product" like eggplant peels could make a delicious small salad. Another hotspot for Shojin cuisine is Kamakura, which is easy to reach from Tokyo, perhaps an hour by train. (And because of its many old temples and giant Buddha statue, Kamakura is well worth visiting even if you can't find a Shojin restaurant.)
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I have an Android phone, so can only speak about my experience with that OS. The "Yelp" application is definitely one to have. Say what you will about the reliability of reviewers on Yelp, but so far it is the best location-based restaurant finder that I have tried for Android. I turn on the location finder on my phone, start Yelp, and it tells me what is nearby, while also giving reviews, basic information and often a link to the restaurant's website. Other apps (like Google Maps, Urban Spoon, etc.) just don't work as well. Recently, when on a business trip in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego, it worked like a charm, pointing me and my colleagues to a restaurant with tasty dumplings. Everyone should have some kind of shopping list app for keeping track of the items needed from the various shops. I, for example, have separate lists for the farmers market, local grocery store, Japanese specialty store, and miscellaneous ethnic stores. I like Easy Note because it has multiple categories and is pretty easy to use. Theoretically you can back up your lists to Google Docs but that has not worked well for me. Strangely enough, I have not been able to find a suitable timer for Android -- everything I have downloaded comes up short in one way or another.
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Any good suggestions about what I could do with the whey that is left over? It's salty, so probably can't be used in a sweet smoothie. But as a replacement for water in a loaf of bread? Or replacement for part of the stock in a soup?
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You wrote "UNESCO awarded Mexico's ancient corn-based cuisines--in particular the traditional cuisine of Michoacán--with the very first coveted World Heritage designation granted to a cuisine". I just checked the UNESCO website and can't find any mention of the designation for corn-based cuisine. Could you post a link to the official announcement? Thanks. UNESCO makes the official announcement this Fall, but you read it here first! Watch for the announcement on their website....Cristina
Thanks for posting this. Because of this post, I have a watermelon sitting in the kitchen waiting for its big moment as fruit and then rind pickles. When I go on long domestic flights, I always try to bring some great food on board. On my most recent trip from California to the Midwest (on Southwest), I carried a rustic Italian torta filled with chard, feta and potato; homemade cookies; and perfectly ripe peaches and melons. On the way back, it was less exciting, but still decent: good cheese, Michigan peaches, crackers, homemade jam bars. In one of his early compilations, Calvin Trillin told a funny story of a flight from NY to Miami on which he brought and ate a complicated multi-course meal. The story is infused, of course, with Trillin's inimitable dry wit.
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2010 on Pickled watermelon rind at Alinea At Home
Perfect timing for this post. I have 10 pounds of Blenheim apricots arriving today from the Happy Girl Kitchen's Preservationist Society and will be making preserves this weekend. Two years ago I also made "carmelized apricot preserves" -- on purpose of course ;) -- but cooked so long that they became more like hard candy. Last year I got a much better result: no overcooking, decent consistency. So this year I'll try some more interesting flavors, getting some inspiration from this post. And technique-wise, I'll try lemon slices as a pectin booster (I probably also should have been saving my lemon seeds from recent juicings as another source of pectin). For those who are ultra-worried about cyanide from apricot pits, Shuna has some notes at eggbeater about how to deactivate the cyanide compounds (it involves roasting them in the oven).
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Thanks for reconstructing the recipe. I tried the salad last Sunday and it will be come a regular for me during snap pea season. Since I didn't have creamy chêvre on hand, I substituted some mild French feta and had good results (mint, peas and feta are a great combination too).
Toggle Commented Jun 10, 2010 on Lágrimas, snap pea salad at Hedonia
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Thanks for the interesting report. I had no idea that many varieties were packaged together. If my memory serves me well, Russ Parsons' "How to Pick a Peach" has some more details about the development of new commercial varieties. It's amazing how long it takes. The story of how the strawberry that we know and love came to be is quite interesting. A few years ago I wrote about this long journey on my blog. The short story: two scrawny and unruly species of strawberry came from two opposite coasts of newly colonized continents -- the Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and the beach strawberry (F. chiloensis) -- and accidentally met at the King's Garden in Paris, were cross-pollinated to make F. ananassa, and the descendants of this hybrid went on to great success as a famous, delicious and versatile fruit.
Toggle Commented May 6, 2010 on Where Strawberries Come From at Dessert First
I have not seen Say Anything... so until I read your post I didn't know that a scene in Season 1 of Arrested Development pays homage to the film. In Whistler's Mother (, the matriarch Lucille is boombox serenaded by her husband's twin brother Oscar, who hopes to win back his "lady love." (and when he does, in Season 2 -- for a little while at least -- hilarity ensues, thanks to superb acting by Jessica Walter and Jeffrey Tambor and a clever script.) I bet that Arrested Development isn't the only show to reference the boombox serenade...
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Thanks for noticing and writing about my post. Although a reality show won't "fix" school lunch, it could help build momentum for change. Another area where TV chefs could improve is food safety. On numerous occasions I've seen a TV chef chop up some raw meat, wipe off the cutting board with a towel, then use the same board and knife to chop something else (like herbs for the garnish). Since many of them have restaurant experience and food safety training, you'd think they would know better. I know that time is tight on the program, but they could use the opportunity to remind the audience about appropriate practices (different cutting boards, frequent washing, etc.).
Thanks for the tips and your commentary. I've been baking with natural leavening on and off for a few years but always get a heavy, dense bread with only tiny air pockets (in a dough made using good bread flour and almost 100% white flour). I've tried recipes from Nancy Silverton's La Brea Baking book and Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking. I always give my starters a few days of room temperature refreshing before starting a recipe. I think my problem might be temperature. I live in the S.F. Bay Area, where interior temperatures are usually in the 60s, far below the optimal upper 70s. Should I look into building a heated proofing box (using a low-watt light bulb as the heat source, for example)? Or significantly extend my initial fermentation and final proofing time (possibly by several hours)?
Toggle Commented Feb 7, 2010 on Seven Tips for a Home Baker at Chews Wise
Great post. I appreciate the effort you've made to explain the variations in chocolate chip cookies. I was a rapid convert to the Torres/Leite recipe and make it frequently (often, unfortunately, forgetting about the sprinkle of salt in the rush of baking). I also did some quantitative analysis of cookie recipes: Although probably not of everyday practical importance, but interesting from a scientific point, I'd like to quibble about this statement: "I used AP flour instead of a combination of bread flour and cake flour as the recipe called for - I sort of think the reason we have AP flour is so we don't have to mix flours all the time!" AP flour is not the same as cake + bread flour. Cake flour is different because it is usually bleached (unless, of course, it is labeled "unbleached"). By bleaching with chlorine dioxide or chlorine gas, the starch granules in the flour are transformed, making them absorb more water, and also increases the acidity of the flour (which might explain the presence of baking soda in the Torres/Leite recipe as a basic component). The recipe has bread flour to increase the gluten content back to the AP level. Does this make any difference to the home baker? Probably not, as the chocolate, butter and variations in baking will overwhelm the subtle effect of the flours. Based on your recommendation in another post, I'm going to try the Korova Cookies this weekend.
Two minutes sounds really short to me, so I think you need to cook it longer. Because each batch of plums is different -- different water content, different sugar content -- the box instructions should probably be used as a guideline. With the caveat that I don't have much experience with boxed pectin, I'd recommend cook until the jam sets (via the wrinkle test, for example, which is described and illustrated beautifully at Simply Recipes, in the "Second Stage of Cooking" section). When cooking longer, however, be sure to keep the heat at a moderate level and stir often to avoid scorching. For my plum jam, I don't use prepared pectin and so I end up cooking my jam at a moderate boil for a long time, perhaps 30 minutes or 1 hour before it sets. I rely on the pectin in the skins and pits (which are removed mechanically with a sieve before I add the sugar) and the long cooking time.
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2009 on Local plum jam at
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I'm especially in agreement with the idea that if Nobu and his staff are skilled chefs, they should be able to do without bluefin tuna for a little while (and I seriously doubt that people go to Nobu solely for the bluefin). Seasonal cooking in the style of Japanese kaiseki -- but using locally seasonal ingredients and locally available seafood -- would seem to be a great fit. If they want to go another direction, for high-end places like the Nobu empire, the range of ingredients and equipment available to them means an almost limitless set of culinary possibilities. As for the use of 'sustainable' sources, Taras Grescoe provides a cautionary opinion in "Bottomfeeder." He talks with top chefs that get their endangered fish (Chilean Sea Bass, for example) from well-managed fisheries or day boats. And then notices that there are scores of restaurants around town that serve the same fish, but simply buy it at the fish market without paying attention to how it got there. Thus, you have a cycle where a top restaurant lends a type of fish prestige, and then the next levels down need to have it, creating a surge in demand. Interestingly, Sasha Issenberg's "The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy" claims that bluefin tuna itself is a money loser at the sushi bar because of the high cost of the fish and inability to mark it up like the other types of fish.
I consulted my copy of McGee and he explains on page 531 (of the new edition), that cake flour is bleached with chlorine dioxide or chlorine gas, which has effects on the starch granules in the flour (making them absorb more water), and also increases the acidity (decreases the pH). With all of the variables involved in baking the cookies -- temperature, type of oven, size of egg, butter composition, type of non-stick -- I can see how even a batch made with the proper flour mixture could spread too much. So much is going on when we bake... I've been making these cookies for a few months and think they are really good (and also blog-worthy, someday). Part of the magic for me is the chocolate disks -- they deliver the chocolate in a much more forceful way than a puny chip. The texture is also excellent. To make it easier to form the cookies, I wonder if you could form the dough into a roll and then slice after the 24-36 hour test of patience?
Toggle Commented Apr 4, 2009 on The best chocolate chips cookies ever? at chez pim
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From the point of view of natural ecosystems, it's interesting to see that wild boar meat is gaining a bit of popularity. Wild boar are a tremendous ecological problem all across the U.S.: the animals tear up landscapes, creating erosion and destroying plant communities (and the invertebrate and microorganism communities that coexist there). Unfortunately, they are smart and strong, so the populations are hard to control. In 2005, the New Yorker had an article about this (alas, it's not available for free on-line right now).
Toggle Commented Jan 11, 2009 on The beast for the feast at Hedonia
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I tried this plant for the first time a few weeks ago at Ubuntu in Napa. It was in a salad with lightly smoked potatoes, crispy fried potatoes, edible flowers (borage, probably), and roasted purple potatoes. The sourness and coolness was a perfect foil for the various forms of potato. (They grow it in their restaurant garden.)
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2008 on What plant is this? at chez pim
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I've been following your blog for a few months and the inventiveness you display goes to "eleven" on many occasions. Thanks for posting about your kitchen adventures! An audio of the "eleven" segment is available on-line for your listening pleasure here:
Toggle Commented Nov 26, 2007 on Eleven at IDEAS IN FOOD
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What a great idea! I'm also a bit obsessed with caramel -- I mix it with cocao nibs, bits of pecan, and other ingredients. But I hadn't thought of using a poaching liquid as a base. I was planning on making another apple-quince tart, and so now I have a delicious use for the cooking liquid.
Toggle Commented Nov 10, 2007 on Quince Caramels - Caramels aux Coings at chez pim
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It's great to see more people getting into preserves. It looks like you have had better luck than me. I made a batch of strawberry preserves a few weeks ago, intending to make jam, and I too ended up with a sauce. A damn delicious sauce, just what I intended from the start... And on Sunday I tried to make apricot jam (a simple sugar + fruit variety), but because of my poorly functioning "doneness radar," I overcooked it and seem to have apricot gelee or a Spanish-style fruit paste. It will probably be great with cheese, or perhaps stuffed in a chocolate truffle. A great thing about preserves is that I have a long time to think about it.
Toggle Commented Jul 4, 2007 on Jam session at Hedonia
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What a great post. It's fun to read step-by-step accounts of daring home kitchen projects. You post reminds me of a funny story about home-curing olives. This guy had an olive tree on his lot and so he contemplated curing some. But he was a somewhat lazy and didn't think he would remember to change the water. So he said to himself, "What objects in my house have a regular change of water?" The toilet tank, of course! As technically brilliant as that idea sounded, it was a bit too much, and he decided that olive curing was not for him. If you want to learn a lot about the history of olives, I recommend the book by Mort Rosenblum with the not so surprising title "Olives." It's the same Mort Rosenblum frequently mentioned on David Lebovitz's site.
Toggle Commented Apr 30, 2007 on House-cured olives at Hedonia
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When I lived in SoCal (Ventura), I loved the surprises at the farmers' markets. One never knew what would be there: tropical surprises (mangoes from the Salton Sea area), green pistachios, piles of herbs I had never heard of, etc. Some of the Bay Area nurseries sell tomatoes that originated in Eastern Europe because our summers can be so cold. Baia Nicchia (a company devoted to tomato varieties that thrive in the Bay Area), for example, has the Stupice from Czechoslovakia.
Toggle Commented Mar 17, 2007 on Hillcrest farmer's market at Hedonia
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Thanks for the lengthy description of the method, I now have a better understanding of the dish and learned a few new tricks.
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2007 on Pad Thai for beginners at chez pim
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