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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seared Halibut with Shiitake Mushrooms

For my Mom's birthday we had seared Halibut with shiitake mushrooms for the main course. I've been trying to eat a lot of mushrooms lately as I have this strange feeling that mushrooms, onions and garlic are all super foods for our brains. It's a combination of them being here on earth for so long, plus their many layers, and for mushrooms their ability to communicate through microscopic roots miles away. There is a special feeling I get when I eat fresh organic, hearty mushrooms. This shiitakes I picked up at the Friday, Heart of the City Farmer's Market. I recommend serving this with salad and a hearty rustic bread or over a bead of quinoa. White wine and some Carlos Santana. 

Seared Halibut with Shiitake Mushrooms

1 fillet of Halibut
1 lemon, zest & juice
1 tablespoon of capers
1 pint of shiitake mushrooms
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Parsley for garnish

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat
2. Sprinkle the halibut with salt and ground pepper on each side. Squeeze the lemon juice on it.
3. Sear the halibut in the olive oil for 4-5 minutes per side. The halibut should turn white the whole way through and have a nice golden hue on the top and bottom. Remove the halibut from the pan and put on a plate. Do not overcook as it will become too dry.
4. Add the mushrooms to the pan, drizzle a little more olive oil on them. Sprinkle the lemon zest and capers, salt and pepper on the mushrooms. Add a little more olive oil if you want.
5. For presentation I cut shallow wells in the halibut and stuffed the shiitake mushrooms into it. 


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Indian Pizza in Bernal Heights

Pooh & Josh (two totally rad new friends) had been talking about this Indian pizza place, Zante, right next to their home since I met them. We had it delivered to their home one night and it was delicious! I used to make a variation of Indian pizza back in NYC - but this place has it down pat, I much prefer their vegetarian version. The box isn't lying - this is the best Indian Pizza (Not sure if there is much 'Indian Pizza' competition in San Fran, but whatever). I have yet to try their other foods -but if their pizza is any representation, I will need to try everything they have!
 The pizza is topped with spinach, eggplant, cauliflower, ginger, garlic, green onions and cilantro. You can taste the cumin and Indian spices on the roasted vegetables. This pizza is perfect with a beer and....they deliver! Cheers for minimal moving.

Zante Pizza
3489 Mission Street

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ricotta Strawberry Spread

Whenever I am preparing a nice meal, I like to have something for folks to nosh on...because I'm almost always later than expected with serving up a meal. At a recent pot-luck meet up a guy brought this delicious salad that was just ricotta cheese with sliced strawberries. Strawberries are in season now and absolutely delicious! I served it with these yummy whole grain flax seed crackers. This salad is super easy to make, looks pretty and always impresses people because few actually expect this as an appetizer. It's perfect with a glass of white wine. I made this as something for my mom and I as I was making her birthday dinner. It was the perfect snack. The strawberries I picked up at the farmer's market. California has amazing strawberries! 

Ricotta Strawberry Spread
Fresh ricotta cheese
Strawberries, quartered

Mix the two in a bowl. Serve alone or with crackers. 
Variations: If you want to get really fancy you can drizzle on a little lemon olive oil or honey. 

With homemade crackers

Monday, August 27, 2012

Summer Arugula Salad

For my Mom's 60th birthday I wanted to make a special dinner at home. The menu included a ricotta strawberry dip, summer arugula salad, roasted summer squash with bacon in pasta, seared halibut with lemon, capers and Shiitake mushrooms and a delicious chocolate cake for dessert.  My mom told me one of her favorite salads is arugula, fennel and Parmesan. I made a slightly modified Birthday version  of this to showcase some of the fabulous produce in season. The Friday, Heart of the City Farmer's Market just opened and is wonderful. The prices are loads better than the Saturday Ferry Building Farmer's market. I picked up these delicious peaches that tasted like mangoes! This salad is light and delicious and packs well for parties. Be sure to choose peaches that are a little on the firmer side so they hold well in the salad.

Summer Arugula Salad

Firm yellow peaches
Fennel bulbs
Shaved Parmesan
Balsamic dressing:
- olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
- honey
- lemon juice
- mustard
- red wine vinegar

1. Slice the peaches into evenly sized cubes.
2. Toast the walnuts for 5-7 minutes
3. Slice the fennel bulbs into thin even slices
4. Toss the arugula, fennel and peaches. Sprinkle on the toasted walnuts and shaved Parmesan.
5. Make the dressing by adding the ingredients in order from most used to least used. Shake the dressing and taste to see what you should adjust. I usually allow people to dress their own salads since everyone has a different dressing preference. 
Left to Right: Jessica & Mary Farman, MOM, me, Nadine Farman

Cake Delivery from San Francisco Baking Institute

My roommate Nichole met Rachel, above, during a week long bread baking course at the San Francisco Baking Institute. Rachael was in the 18 week world-renowned baking program. She hails from a family run bakery in Anchorage, Alaska - Fire Island Rustic Bake Shop. Rachel was baking goodies 5 days a week while in the program and delivered multiple cakes to us on a regular occasion. It was like a reality show where we tried to eat as much as possible. All these cakes are made by Rachel, a professional baker, and were delivered to our home! Every week in the program they focus on a different area. 
The cakes below are from Mouse Week.
 Rachel at the bottom of our stairs, brining up three cakes!
 It's like being a kid at your birthday when she opens the box to unveil some incredible dessert.
 Chocolate Rum Mouse Cake
 Cherry Liquor Chocolate Mouse Layer Cake
 Pineapple Moose Cake - my favorite!
 Rachael put in a real pineapple stem up top for the effect and caramelized the mallow topping. The inside looks like this:
Delicious sponge cake rolled around homemade pineapple jam with dried pineapples. Divine!
 Cake delivery on our counter
 This was incredible. Dense, not too sweet, powerful delicious chocolate. 
 Rachel's macarons
The inside of a perfect raspberry macaron.
 Her first shot at a wedding cake! And the flowers are edible. It's absolutely perfect.
 Just dropping off a wedding cake in the middle of the week - NBD.
 Gorgeous floral detail by Rachel....
 Too pretty to eat.

Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop
On the corner of 14th & G
1343 G Street
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Strawberry Picking, Eatwell Farm, Dehydrated Strawberries

We belong to Eatwell's CSA and we were pretty excited to receive info on Eatwell's Strawberry Days! My good friends Hannah, Isy & Emma joined Nichole & I for a day of strawberry picking in the sun. Eatwell has two large strawberry crops, one was smaller strawberries from last year's crop and the other was larger, brighter strawberries from this year's crop. We nearly filled our baskets on the new strawberries before walking across the field to the small strawberries where we quickly discovered that the small strawberries from the previous year were much sweeter and juicer! Almost as though the strawberry flavor was more concentrated in the smaller berry, so we double stocked up! We froze some, made some strawberries pies, and dehydrated a bunch which were delicious!
 2 legged strawberry
Isy & Emma
 A nice poem about friendship at a thrift store in downtown Petaluma:
 It says: "Friendship is the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with the person having neither to weigh thought nor measure words, but pouring all right out just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful friendly hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of comfort, blow the rest away"
 With all the strawberries we froze some, made some mini strawberry mint pies (above) and dehydrated a whole of strawberries (below).
 Dehydrated Strawberries
Slice the strawberries as evenly as you can, and place on the dehydrator. Let it be for 6-8 hours at 135 degrees. Store them in an airtight container and try to not eat them all at once. enjoy as you wish!
Go pick your berries with your friends and be fearless...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Late Night Milk & Cookies in San Francisco & NYC

 It's always a nice surprise when your out and about and you stumble upon a place serving late night milk and cookies. Let's be real - it doesn't matter how old you are, everyone gets excited over milk and cookies doesn't matter what time it is. Over at Buckshot in the inner Richmond of San Francisco on a Tuesday night with my girls and we decided it was the perfect hour for milk and cookies which were heated up on a frying pan and served with those old school mini cartons that bring back fond memories of elementary school lunches....
 On a recent trip to NYC I came across a new bakery in Hell's Kitchen with late hours called Schmackary's where I stopped for milk and cookies. While Buckshot (above) had one choice of cookie and milk (makes sense because first and foremost is a bar and game room) Schmackery's  had several unique flavors of cookies such as the 'Deep Dish Banana Peanut Butter Cookie' (below).
 or the maple bacon cookies...
 While the banana peanut butter deep dish cookie was tasty and I finished it with my milk, I prefer the simple, standard chocolate chip cookie on a frying pan from Buckshot's in San Francisco. In a silly way, it's a little like a metaphor for life. You can go all over the place and have these fancy experiences and try unique flavors of life, but at the end of it all, when you listen to your heart you really enjoy the good'ol simple stuff like the classic choc chip cookie at a bar with a carton of milk.
Cookies & Milk in San Francisco? Buckshot 3848 Geary Boulevard
New York? Schmackery's at 362 West 45th Street

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Pastured raised bison turned into meatballs with almond flour, onions, olive oil, garlic a ton of herbs and a lot of hands on word. Delicious homemade sourdough bread rolls made by my roommate Nichole. A very slow tomato sauce with garlic and basil and fresh plum tomatoes and viola! Plate after plate after plate of the subs above quite honestly made with our blood, sweat and tears....we made approximately 100.
Nichole and I made a few rookie mistakes preparing for our Bison Meatball Stoop Sub Sale such as not starting the prep until 10:00 pm the evening prior! Our sub sale was on a Sunday starting at 11:00 am as folks started heading to the Giant's game. On Saturday we had decided to go strawberry picking, then out for dinner in Petaluma - so we came home late and amped up. However we were up making meatballs, sauce, rolls, and paper baskets until 4:00 AM! It felt a little like we were on an episode of 'Restaurant Impossible' except with much less of a pay out...That said, the experience was fun and definitely interesting!  At about 7:00 am the day of, I went out to put up some gorilla marketing signs on the posts around the Giant's stadium:
 To no one's surprise, Nichole's bread rolls were delicious and each one perfect looking. At first we had left the bread out too long to rise and so it was too soft to form into rolls. Nichole came in for emergency repair and combined the overly soft dough with some new dough. Here is a pic of the ever-expanding dough taking over our kitchen

After some worry and even talk about running to Safeway to buy bread rolls (gasp!) we had a tray ready to go into the over around 1:00am and as we're putting them in the oven - we drop the tray and the rolls get stuck on the bottom of the oven! Nichole comes to the rescue again. Dough rolls are brought back to life and go in the oven looking like this...

 and come out looking gorgeous like this!
For the meatballs, I purchased 12 pounds of bison striploin cut from Rocky Mountain Natural Meats which is located in Denver, CO. Pre-grinder...
Raw rolled meatballs...
...fried with a little olive oil
This is how our set up looked...we had an old bedside table with a picnic table cover, a couple plates of the bison meatball sub, a tip jar that said 'Tips for Chicks', a plate of homemade mini strawberry mint pies, and our super cool chalkboard with our menu/ingredients. 
Our first customer! A Giant's fan / U.S. Marine named Tay...
In summary, we made enough to sell about 100. We sold about 50, broke even on costs, had 50 meatball subs leftover but were too exhausted to stay awake and try to sell the remainder. The subs were delicious, we ate them for a solid few weeks after, they freeze remarkably - but I had enough bison for 2012. We were a little unsure of selling from our stoop, I think our location could have been better but we didn't want to piss of any of the nearby restaurants/food trucks, since this was under the radar. Would I do it again? Yes, but only if the whole day before I did everything so I could get to sleep before 4:00am. When I look at the pictures now, I think I'm ready to eat some bison once again :)
 Looks like a hurricane went through our kitchen huh? I'd say that's an accurate metaphor.
There is always that one  lingering customer....