"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sweet & Seasonal Bruschetta

For dinner for my friends I prepared a selection of bruschettas for my friends including this sweet version. Inspired by the available items from the Saturday farmer's market at the Embarcadero Ferry Building, whenever I have a few savory appetizers, I always try to fine a way to make one sweet. The thing about bruschetta or crostini is that, if you have good and fresh ingredients, the simplest combinations can be the best. In this case there are four ingredients including the bread.

Sweet & Seasonal Bruschetta

1 baguette, sliced
1 pear, thinly sliced

1. Toast the baguette slices for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown.
2. Spread the cheese on the toasted slices, layer two pear slices, drizzle some honey. Serve with a glass of red wine.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bruschetta 2 Ways: 100% Local

For my 24th rotation around the sun I cooked up a meal for my closest friends. I also went to the Saturday farmer's market at the Embarcadero which is the best farmer's market I've been to in the Continental United States. Seriously. It has an unbelievable selection of local, fresh, vibrant produce, cheese, breads, herbs, pantry items. One of the exciting new items I picked up was a couple stalks of green garlic. I didn't know that about the existence of green garlic but here are some of my observations: it looks a lot like green onions, however the leaves are flat, as opposed to the rounded leaves of green onions. Also, the bulbs of green garlic have a slightly purple tint. Finally the taste and smell is a sure reminder that this spring time vegetable is a kin to the garlic family. Because the taste of green garlic is beautiful alone, I recommend pairing it with mild cheeses and not using too many other herbs. I call this creation NorCal Herb Cheese Bruschetta. I will also provide the recipe for tomato bruschetta.

NorCal Herb Cheese Bruschetta

1 baguette
Fresh Chevre Sebastopol, CA
Green garlic
Fresh Rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Slice baguette into 1" thick even slices.
2. Drizzle with olive oil and toast for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
3. Finely slice the green garlic and rip the rosemary into small pieces.
4. Mix the herbs in with the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread onto the toasted bread.

Tomato Bruschetta
Of all the things I learned cooking at Cefalicchio in Italy, one of the most important items - was patience, pace and taste. Take your time, slow down, and taste as you go. Bruschetta is the perfect time to do this. The most important part of bruschetta is that you use fresh, ripe, ruby red tomatoes.

1 baguette
Extra virgin olive oil
Green Garlic

1. Slice the baguette into 1" thick even slices. Drizzle with olive oil and set aside.
2. Dice the tomatoes into small, even pieces.
3. Dice the green garlic and tear apart the fresh basil, add to the bowl.
4. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Toast the bread for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. Top with the tomato mixture and serve with a crisp, light wine.

Best Birthday Cake Ever! Thank you Erica!

My awesome friend, Erica, who is currently traveling around South East Asia, made this delicious DELICIOUS birthday cake. It was a vanilla cake with light vanilla frosting and huge strawberries on top. Here is a picture of Erica petting a tiger. The tiger did not get any cake. We are going to have to wait for Erica to return home before we get the recipe for this cake.
Okay, enough friends and tigers - more cake pics! Cake with tulips:
Whole cake:
Making a wish...."i wish for more cake!....and world peace"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Friends & Fried Fish in Maui

While in Maui we went to this delicious little fish shack in Kihei, Maui. The picture above kind of says it all: battered and fried fish, simple coleslaw, a mound of rice. I love Maui for the beaches, the pace, the environmentalism (no plastic bags as of 1/11/11!) and of course...THE FOOD. Our good friends and fellow beach bums were in Maui and told us to meet them at this much anticipated fish and chips joint. Alexander's Fish and Chips is located in Kihei, Maui. Here is a pic of our food/island loving friends. (Left - Right: Billie, Me, Mikaela, Colin, Mom, Denise, Joe)
Maui-style fish and chips is different than your British influenced fish and chips. For one, instead of potato chips - they have tempura taro chips. This starchy root vegetable has a much more vibrant color than it does taste. However, it is a good stabilizer for the very flavorful fish.
We also had an order of Alexander's famous onion rings that are seasoned with sesame and sea salt.
For my main, I had the Ahi Tuna Tacos - done original style with mango salsa. The freshly caught Ahi is a firm, red meat served on soft tortillas with crisp lettuce, rice and a generous helping of mango salsa.
Here is a pic of the gang chowing down on our grub. Satisfaction.
For dessert we had pineapple bread pudding with a dollop of cream. Satisfaction increase.
If your in Maui - make it over this locals favorite joint for some good'ol fish and chips - island style.
Kihei Kalama Village
1913 S. Kihei Rd. - Kihei, Maui Hawaii

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not Your Mama's PB&J

The other day at work my co-worker ordered this work-of-art from Specialty's Cafe & Bakery. The sandwich is called the "Peanut Butter & Stuff" and it is $4.99. It is peanut butter and whole cranberry sauce with fresh bananas and granny smith apples on whole wheat. Ever since she ordered this from the cafe - I've been recreating my own version at home. This is truly a special combination.
Specialty's Cafe & Bakery

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sam's Chowder House: Raising the Bar on the Lobster Roll

On a mild weekend, my mom came to visit me in Los Altos. I decided to plan a fun day trip to Half Moon Bay for us to both explore something new. We had such a great time that I've been wanting to return to Half Moon Bay ever since! The coast line is gorgeous! And there is a lovely small town hippy vibe in the down town area. People are friendly, laugh easily and there is a strong (but welcoming) locals community. Our day started with a stop at San Gregorio General Store. This place is wonderful and I highly recommend it! It's a commitment as it will take at least an hour to get there (unless you live at Half Moon Bay) - but right when we stepped in, I felt like I was transported to a 1980's small town music venue in Hawaii. The general store is a combo locally-made shop / bar and concessions / library / and music venue! Everyone there knew each other except for my mom and I, there was a band playing funky tunes, and everyone had a beer in hand - even though it was 10:30 AM on a Saturday. The books ranged from Native American folklore to Vegetarian cooking. We snuggled up to the old fashioned wood stove with a hot chocolate and listened to the band make jokes and occasionally play a folk song.
Next stop was the coast. The coast is so gorgeous it makes anyone look like a professional photographer!
And here is a pic of my mom and I:
After we were sufficiently cold we decided to go walk around downtown Half Moon Bay. It is a lovely street sprinkled with cutesy themed stores, gourmet cooking shops, wine and cheese shops, bakeries, art galleries, and up-scale dining. There is also an old school jail house that has been converted into a museum and some awesome surf-centric street art:
Finally, we arrived just in time for sunset to Sam's Chowder House.
We had a quiet window seat and they immediately brought over a basket of freshly baked soft sourdough bread. I firmly believe you can tell a lot about a restaurant by the quality of bread they serve you gratis before a meal. You can tell even more about a restaurant by the olive oil they bring you to accompany the bread. To start we ordered a baby spinach salad and hot Blue Crab cakes served with fresh bell pepper, cucumber and fennel with rémoulade sauce.
The crab cakes were a more fried than I like - although they were still tasty. I think they would have been better lightly pan-fried so as not to take away from the taste of the delicious Blue Crab.
Next we ordered the Bluenose Sea Bass served with Roasted root vegetables, parsnip, celery root and yams with baby spinach and salsa verde. While it was tasty, the presentation was nice, this particular entree was nothing to write home about - however I did wholly appreciate the use of seasonal vegetables and the spinach and salsa verde topping.

While up until now, my reviews for Sam's Chowder House have been mediocre - the lobster roll made up for any lacking. The lobster roll was superb! Their lobster roll has been voted by NBC's The Today Show as one of "America's Top 5 Sandwiches." The Maine Lobster Roll is delicious Maine lobster lightly tossed with butter on a toasted specialty bun with chips and coleslaw.
The lobster roll was phenomenal! I only wish that Sam's Chowder House would raise the slaw and the chips to the standard set by the sandwich. The chips are your standard cheap Lay's and the slaw is way to creamy with a mayonnaise base. I left a note for the manager recommending they upgrade to thick salt and vinegar potato chips and swap the mayonnaise base slaw for a crisp lemon and vinegar cabbage slaw. Despite these adjustments the lobster roll is worth it! For dessert - have some of their house made frozen yogurt chocolate vanilla swirl.

Sam's Chowder House
4210 N Cabrillo Hwy

Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
650 712-0245