Sunday, August 30, 2009
Fellow Folks Who Eat,
Just another update from the Left Coast Cafe that keeps getting better and better. As you can tell from the subject of this email, there are truly some unique superstars preparing the food for San Franciscan Googlers.
To begin, Jake has been continually toying with specialty pizza including toppings, such as, but not limited to crab, pesto chicken, jalapenos, potatoes, pine nuts, shrimp, mango, and the list goes on. Jimmy, John, and Mark will grill, sear, broil, or cook any meat to perfection so its distinctively delicious by the time it hits your mouth. We've enjoyed some great local fish lately with vegetable and fruit toppings just to show we're on par with the best experimental restaurants in the area. Patricia and Maya put out all the vegetables that ensure everyone is getting their Ken Fair-share of vitamins, nutrients, etc. Both ladies add a charm to the cafe that help remind you that work is on hold for the moment; so enjoy the awesome free food and admire the Bay Bridge to your right. Special shout-out to Jefferson, the very modest sushi chef that wows me everyday. His uniquely crafted and named rolls have fresh ingredients with creative flair that make me think mercury poisoning is coming my way soon. Not my fault, they're too good! If you have room, which you should try and leave because Amy is always baking (to perfection) her lightly sea-salted chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Those are a staple, and she's also putting down awesome fruit custards, banging milkshakes, mouth-watering cheesecakes, and much more. With so many visitors and events in the city, you think the cafe could get quite dirty, but that is not the case. My man, Herman is always making sure the presentation is on-point while greeting everyone with a genuine smile and a, "How you doing today?"
We're lacking a cafe manager right now, but that's just because she just donated half of her liver to a close kin. Call them what you like: superstars or superheros, they're the best either way!
Thanks much from all of us in and out of San Francisco.
4 1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. stone-ground grits
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground pepper
3 Tbs. butter
1. Whisk grits and salt into the boiling water.
2. Reduce to simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and butter until melted. Season with pepper and Tabasco.
1 lb. peeled shrimp
3 slices chopped bacon
1 large clove garlic
1/4 c. thinly sliced green onions (white and green parts)
1 1/4 c. sliced mushrooms
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 Tbs. peanut oil
* Total cooking time for shrimp is less than four minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp.
1. Render the chopped bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Reserve and pour off all but one tablespoon of the fat.
2. Gently toss the shrimp with the flour until they are lightly coated; remove excess flour.
3. Over medium high heat sauté shrimp for one or two minutes (until approx. half-cooked).
4. Add the mushrooms and toss. When they begin to cook, add in the reserved bacon.
5. Press the garlic clove and stir it in; very quickly add the Tabasco and lemon juice (do not let the garlic brown).
6. Season with salt and add the green onions at the very end. Arrange the shrimp over the cheese grits and enjoy!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The artery-crushing Belfast Bap.
The Belfast Bap may sound like a long-lost sequence of Michael Flatley-meets-Gene Vincent dance steps popularized by a no-hit-wonder Irish rock-and-roll band in the early 1960s, but, in fact, it's breakfast -- a big, artery-crushing one, to be frank: Irish bacon, Irish sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheddar cheese folded into a fluffy roll the size of a boulder. You can get a $6 bap to-go at John Campbell's Irish Bakery (5625 Geary at 21st Ave.), or you can pop next door and have one at the 'Stone.
ONE of summer’s great pleasures is eating berries of all kinds by the basketful. One of summer’s great frustrations is having baskets of berries go moldy overnight, or even by nightfall.
Over the years I’ve come up with various strategies for limiting my losses, but this summer I came across a surprising one, the most effective I’ve ever tried. Thermotherapy, it’s been called. A very hot fruit bath.
Fruits go moldy because mold spores are everywhere, readily germinate on the humid surfaces of actively respiring, moisture-exhaling fruits, and easily penetrate the smallest breach of their thin skins.
The first thing I do with a haul of berries, after eating my fill straight from the basket, is to unpack the rest and spread them out on kitchen or paper towels, so they’re not pressing against one another and trapping moisture.
If I want to keep them overnight or longer, I refrigerate them, because cold temperatures slow fruit metabolism and mold growth. I repack the berries as sparsely as possible, nest each basket in a second empty one to leave an air space at the bottom, and inflate and tie off a plastic produce bag around the baskets, so there’s room for the berries to breathe and the bag itself doesn’t cling to their surfaces.
Even with these precautions I’ve had baskets mold overnight in the refrigerator. So I followed up right away when I saw a reference in an agricultural journal on extending the shelf life of strawberries not with a chemical treatment or gamma irradiation, but with heat.
I gathered a dozen or so reports that hot-water treatments suppress mold growth on berries, grapes and stone fruits. The test temperatures ranged from 113 to 145 degrees, with exposure times of a few minutes at the lower temperatures, and 12 seconds at the highest.
I found it hard to believe that any part of a plant could tolerate 145-degree water. My finger in the same water would get a third-degree burn in less than 5 seconds, and eventually reach medium rare.
I bought pints of various berries, divided each batch into two samples, and heated one by immersing and swishing its plastic basket in a pot of hot water. I emptied the heated sample onto towels to cool down and dry. Then I repacked it, and encouraged both baskets to spoil by wrapping them airtight and letting them sweat on the kitchen counter. After 24 hours I counted the moldy berries in each basket.
The strawberries fared best when I heated them at 125 degrees for 30 seconds. In two samples from different sources, this treatment gave a total of 1 moldy berry out of 30, where the untreated baskets had 14. I also treated some bruised berries, including one with a moldy tip. After 24 hours none were moldy. The tip mold not only hadn’t spread, it had disappeared.
I tried the same treatment, 125 degrees for 30 seconds, on raspberries and blackberries, and got the same good results. There were many fewer moldy berries in the heated samples.
For thicker-skinned blueberries, a Canadian study recommended a 140-degree treatment for 30 seconds. I tested it twice, with samples of around 150 berries each time. That heat took the bloom off. It melted the natural wax that gives the berries their whitish cast, and left them midnight blue. It also cut the number of moldy berries from around 20 per sample to 2.
Research has also shown that exposure to hot air slows fruit spoilage. But hot air can take several hours, and I found it harder than hot water to apply precisely in the kitchen. I did spread some raspberries out on a sheet pan lined with towels, and put them in a 150-degree non-convection oven for 20 minutes. The berry bottoms got hotter than the tops, which were cooled by evaporation. Still, only 1 out of 48 heated berries became moldy, compared with 7 out of 52 in the unheated basket.
Why is it that delicate berries can survive heat high enough to kill mold and injure fingers? Probably because they have to do so in the field. One study of tomatoes found that intense sunlight raised their interiors to 122 degrees. Such heat hurts the quality of growing fruits, but I couldn’t taste much of an effect on briefly heated ripe fruits.
So if you find yourself plagued by quickly spoiling fruits, start giving them a brief hot bath before you spread them out or chill them. Thermotherapy can be healthy for all concerned.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Menu for Ten Guests
Fried Dill Pickles - Chipotle Ranch
Arugula, Fresh Figs, Buttermilk Blue Cheese, Brown Sugar Bacon, Toasted Hazelnuts & Pear Vinegar
Red Quinoa & Roasted Poblano Cornbread with a White Peach & Basil Gastrique
Camerones de Ajo
Roast Asparagus, Haloumi Cheese, Raspberries, Pumpernickel Croutons, Raspberry Vin
Savory mushroom bread pudding explodes with the deep, rich flavors of the fruits of the forest. It's a great accompaniment to beef or game dishes and it can be made with rye or white bread. It's great napped with a demiglace, Madeira sauce or other rich, brown gravy.
Makes 6 servings of Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
1 pound cubed day-old rye or hearty white bread
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon butter
1 large finely chopped Shallot
2 pounds assorted chopped mushrooms (shiitake, king trumpet, oyster, cremini)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t fresh thyme
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
5 large beaten eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place mushrooms in a medium bowl and pour over boiling water. Steep for 30 minutes. Meanhwile, toast the bread cubes in the oven until dry and light golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Butter a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking pan.
Lift the mushrooms out of the water being careful not to disturb the sediment at the bottom. Chop them and set aside. Strain the mushroom soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve.
In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat and add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and transfer to the bowl with bread cubes.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to the same skillet and add the chopped fresh mushrooms and garlic. Let cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until golden and any liquid has evaporated. Stir in the chopped reconstituted mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. When hot, transfer the mushrooms to the bowl of bread crumbs and onions.
Deglaze the pan by adding the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula. Reduce the liquid to about 1/4 cup and add to bread mixture, stirring well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, eggs, salt and pepper to taste. Pour this custard over the bread mixture and combine thoroughly. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and dot the top with remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake uncovered 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese and continue to bake, until the top is golden, the pudding is swollen and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes more.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Found a 1959 New York Times interview with the inventor himself, Joe Scialom, one-time head bartender at Sheperd's Hotel in Cairo. Here's what it said:
When liquor was short during the war, he had to concoct "something to quench the boys' thirst." He combined equal parts gin and brandy with a dash of Angostura bitters, a teaspoon of Rose's lime juice, and English ginger ale. He garnished the drink with a sprig of fresh mint, a slice of orange and a cucumber peel. The bartender advised Americans to substitute ginger beer for the ginger ale because the British version of the soft drink is more heavily seasoned with ginger than ours.
One ounce gin
Two ounces brandy or bourbon
One teaspoon lime juice
One dash bitters
Add cracked ice and fill glass with ginger ale, decorating with a slice of orange.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
1/4 pound butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup Honey
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar & Honey. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.