Amateur Foodie

  • Location: San Francisco
  • Favorite foods: Mac and Cheese
    Creme Brulee
  • Last bite on earth: Tea Egg

what to do with frozen mussel meat?

Home gardening?

We always plant tomatoes, scallions, and chili peppers each year. It's what we consume the most during the year. I always get carried away with the tomatoes, buying about 4-5 plants of different varieties even though it's just me and the husband. I just love heirloom tomatoes and trying out different ones. I buy plants since a package of seeds is just too much for the two of us and I like to try different plants each summer. The exception to that rule is parsley. I usually have a package of parsley seeds in the house. One of the easiest herbs to grow and I never have to worry about it being invasive in the garden. Half the tomatoes will get canned and the other half are consumed fresh as the season goes along. The year, I might sow radish seeds too.

Simple Pleasures

Just had my lunch (yeah a bit late)and I had a mixed greens salad with a vinaigrette that was just balsamic vinegar and olive oil. And it was soooo good. It reminds me that good ingredients don't need much else to make them so satisfying.

When Breakfast Gets "Weird"

Pho is not weird breakfast food. In Vietnam it IS breakfast food, served in small bowls that are nowhere near as gigantic as the bowls in the US. But I breakfast food is usually leftovers from last night.

Cook the Book: 'My Paris Kitchen' by David Lebovitz

what are your favorite DIY kitchen hacks?

I made my own composting bucket with lid, out of a 10" (?) terracotta pot and saucer. The saucer was transformed into a lid, by gluing a wooden door knob on the bottom of the saucer to make a handle for the lid. Plugged the hole in the pot with a cork stopper. I don't think I spent more than $5 total for my compost bucket and it will never rust (which was a big problem with the metal pails that I was using).

Beets in lieu of red food coloring

Here's a recipe that uses beets (& some balsamic vinegar)and no additional red food color,

I haven't tried it, but the photos are promising.

Cook the Book: 'My Paris Kitchen' by David Lebovitz

David Lebovitz is a talented food writer as well as pastry chef. If the book is anything like his blog, I am going to have a lot of fun reading this book.

How do you like your hummus?

I like a ultra-smooth hummus with a bit more tahini, lemon juice, a touch of cumin and garlic. Not a big fan of Sabra; nice smooth texture, but it has a weird chemical aftertaste. I do like the Sadaf hummus (the refrigerated container). It has a nice texture and a creamy tahini-lemony flavor.

Staff Picks: What's Your Go-To Dinner Party Dessert?

My go-to dessert for the past 12 months is No Churn Ice Cream. Totally easy, quick make-ahead dessert. You look like a total rock star, no machine required!

What To Do With Leftover Pork Roast

Make a cubano sandwich. It's roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, and a couple of sliced pickles in between a light crusted roll that gets buttered and grilled until the cheese is melted.

Culinary land mines

Rose water. Yeah, not in the mood to consume perfume.

How to Top a Torte?

Or browse through these Momofuku Milkbar recipes for a variety of crumbs that you can use:

How to Top a Torte?

How to Top a Torte?

I would sprinkle with some powdered sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder. If you want to get crafty, sift either over a paper doily for an "Ooo Pretty" response. Or sprinkle only part of the torte and add a fanned out strawberry on top.

Manner Matters: Crack Open That Bottle

I agree with @MargieNash, Thirsty does sound like an assholic. I sure don't give wine as a gift and then expect it to be served right there with me to enjoy it too. The FIL serving a cheaper wine doesn't mean that the wine isn't good. MOre importantly, the host of the party has spent time and effort pairing the wine with the food, why should he/she be obligated to open your 'superior' wine?

Moving from SoCal to New England

About the food heritage of New England, the area was first settled by the English and the Irish which meant a very meat and potatoes diet. It meant foods like pot roast, apple pie, clam chowder. Somewhat bland and not a lot of spicy foods. Then came the Italians and Portuguese who brought their more spicy palates. We can thank them for the great deli counters and the Italian deli meats, some of which I can't even find in San Francisco. So in New England, specifically CT, the heritage food is Italian.

Moving from SoCal to New England

I grew up in CT and move to SF Bay Area 15 yrs ago. Whenever I go back to CT to visit I always get lobster rolls, CT-style with butter not mayo, though the mayo one is good too. The seafood is generally very good because there is more marine life in the Atlantic than the Pacific. Fried whole clams, whole bellies, will blow those fried clam strips out of the water. Maine lobster is plentiful and cheap, at least they were in 2013.

I also have to get fried dough, terrific with either cinnamon sugar or marinara sauce, which you can get at just about any good pizzeria. Breads in New England and the Tri-State area are insanely good, must be the water, but probably because of the Portuguese and Italian immigrants who settled there. I grew up surrounded by mostly Italian and Portguese families. That said the Italian food is generally excellent, and is better than any that I have been able to find in California. Funny thing about CT, lots of good diners across the state. New England seems to understand good diner food and ice cream. The Ice cream is rich, creamy, and super fatted. We love our ice cream and it is so good, we eat it year round no matter how cold it gets. Almost every town has a ice cream shop that makes it's own ice cream. In Western CT, there is a mini chain called Dr. Mike's. I remember summers at the shop in Newtown and their chocolate lace or peach ice cream and the line that went all the way to the parking lot.

What you will most likely miss from SoCal is good Mexican and Asian, especially good Vietnamese and Korean. There is not a lot of these two cuisines in CT, not even sure there is any Korean places. You will have to go to NYC or Boston for good Asian food. Good Mexican food is hard to find,even in NYC, though that seems to slowly be changing. So enjoy Mexican, Korean and Vietnamese while you ate still in CA.

Baking with cheezies?!

I would crush and use like breadcrumbs, for example topping for baked mac and cheese, Cheezies-crusted chicken tenders, Cheezies-crust jalapeno poppers, etc...

Bake the Book: Frenchie

ham and butter baguette sandwich

What to do With Leftover Condensed Milk

Two words: Vietnamese coffee.

Another recipe that doesn't get enough love and attention:
Filipino cassava cake.

Giveaway: Win a Pair of California Wine Country Prints

St. Supery. Nicest people & tasting room, surprising given the size of the winery. Quite the opposite of another very well-known winery that had overpriced tastings and some of the snobbiest people in their tasting rooms that I've ever encountered.

What's your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

@korenni, what kind of mustard?

What's your favorite way to prepare cauliflower?

From The Traveler's Lunchbox, boil cauliflower until tender. Drain and top with an anchovie & caper mayo,

One day in Napa

My FIL likes Fumé, Mustard's, Rutherford Grill,Trancas Steakhouse. He has lived in Napa for about 20 years now.

Suggestions for a Thank You gift (food)

Just got back from a trip back East. My friend and her husband hosted 4 adults and 2 babies. I wanted to bake/make something special for them as a gesture of gratitude (2 babies is alot even for experienced folks). The only requirements are that it needs to survive a few days in the mail and not melt into a puddle in the current heatwave that's hitting the Northeast US.

Any ideas? I'm sort of stumped because what I know they'll like (e.g. chocolate) is just too fragile, perishable, or meltable.

Would this work?....

Last night I made carnitas. In addition to some good meat, I also have quite a bit of salty rendered fat. It seems a shame to throw it out, so I was wondering if I could roast some potatoes in this rendered fat. Any reason this wouldn't work?

The Sprayracha

Ok, I saw this and had to post it, because it's kinda cool.

Your next food project

My next food project/challenge is tempering chocolate. I am totally intimidated by it and I would really like to make chocolate covered truffles for this year's Xmas care packages.

What's your next food project or challenge?

Meyer lemon marmalade

What can I do with a Meyer lemon marmalade that's a bit more bitter than expected? I made a batch this weekend and while it's not bad, it's more bitter than I like. I can give it as gifts, but I would still have about 4 half pints. Any cooking ideas?

Chik-Fil-A suing over kale claim

Anyone seen this yet?,0,6755981.story

Since everything tastes like chicken, I guess I can see why people would confuse kale with chicken...NOT.

Non-chocolate desserts - ideas needed

My BFF is having her annual holiday party in about 2 weeks. While I don't hate chocolate, I know from past years that most of the desserts will be some form of chocolate and I wanted to bring a spectacular dessert that did not have chocolate in it. Something that has be bit of "Wow" to it. Any ideas?

Sticky toffee pudding - without the dates?

This past weekend, I ordered a sticky toffee pudding from a restaurant. My friend asked what it was and I told her it was made with dates. The waiter than informed me that this sticky toffee pudding didn't have any dates in it. it still sticky toffee pudding if it does not have any dates in it?

Salted Fish - where is it?

I've got a major craving for salted fish and chicken fried rice. Where in the Asian supermarkets are they located? What is it called or labeled? I'm not Chinese so I have no idea what it's called. I'm in the SF Bay Area and have great access to Asian ingredients, but this one is giving me a headache. Looked all over 99 Ranch Market and am about to venture into Marina Foods. Does anyone know what and where I should be looking?

Shrimp stock - other recipes?

I have a ton of shrimp shells in my fridge and am planning to make stock this weekend. I usually use the stock in my gumbo. But got to thinking about what other recipes use shrimp stock. Any ideas?

The Shrub

I went to the San Francisco Street Food Festival on Saturday. Had a terrific time and ate until my belly was bursting. One of the highlights was a little drink called a Shrub N' Soda. It was so good (and non-alcoholic too) that I had to search the web for a recipe. Turns out it's a vinegar based syrup which would account for it's lovely tang. And it seems easy to make, basically simmer fruits in a sugar syrup and then add the vinegar. Serve up with club soda or seltzer.

The festival was great and hope you were able to attend. I avoided the long lines by going way early and doing recon on the trucks that I wanted to hit. It was a blast! See you guys at the festival next year!

Infused alcohol - how long does it last?

So last year, I had some very ripe, but delicious white peaches that I had to do something with quickly. So I threw them into some vodka and then totally forgot about them until yesterday. I've filtered out the spent peach and now have a yellowish, but clear liquid that still smells fruity. Haven't sampled it yet, but I read somewhere that infusions of this sort don't last beyond a few weeks. Something about the taste of the fruit would be gone quickly since this is just an infusion and not a liqueur.

Is that true? Or should I sample and see if the stuff is still drinkable?

Chinese Comfort Food

I'm in need of comfort food and it has to be Chinese. Not sure why, but that's what I want. For all you Chinese/Asian lurkers out there, what's your Chinese (or Asian) comfort food?

Irish Cream recipe

Does anyone have an Irish Cream recipe that results in a very white liqueur? I met an Irish woman who had made her own Irish cream liqueur. Hers looked like no Irish cream that I've seen before - it was snow white suggesting just alcohol and cream, and sugar. I don't think it had coffee or chocolate syrup in it (these ingredients seem to be on all the recipes online). Does anyone have a recipe that sounds like this?

Vegetarian Entrees w/o mushrooms - any ideas?

I have a friend who will be visiting me in about a month and I wanted to make some vegetarian entrees that do not include any mushrooms or too much cheese. She's open to tofu provided it's well prepared (i.e. not just thrown into a salad or on top of pizza). I've a lot of recipes for pizzas, stews, soups, and salads, but it feels like a limited menu, I really need an entree. She's Punjabi and has access to excellent Indian food at home, so I want to give her something different, but just as delicious. Any ideas? I'm kind of stumped.

Cream Cheese Frosting - can it be piped?

My cousin and I are planning a baby shower for our best friend and she's requested a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. My questions are: will I be able to pipe a simple border around the cake with the cream cheese frosting? Is it firm enough to hold for a few hours? We won't be outside and the shower is in early April so it will not be hot either. Or should I use a buttercream for the decorative piping?

Homemade Marshmallows

Last week, I was looking at recipes for marshmallows and encountered 2 types of recipes: recipes that include egg whites and recipes that did not contain egg whites. My question: Is there any detectable difference in final product between the 2 recipes? Just wondering.

I did make marshmallows using a recipe that did not use corn syrup (I ran out). Delicious and reminded me why I preferred homemade marshmallows.

Made Green Tomato what?

I spent the weekend cleaning out my garden, pulling up the tomato plants that were still hanging on. There were a lot of green unripen tomatoes that would have killed me to throw out, so I made a simple green tomato jam (actually I had enough to make to batches) seasoned with cinnamon and allspice. I plan to give some away as Christmas stocking stuffers, but I know that I'm going to get that "What the heck do I use this jam for?". I'm sort of stumped myself. I've read that it's good with meats, on sandwiches, and with cheese and crackers.

What kind of sandwich would benefit the most from a smear of GTJ? What kinds of meats (e.g. roasted, baked, etc)?

Any other ideas, SErs?

What's the trick for a perfect looking cheesecake?

I have a great recipe (from ATK) for a pumpkin cheesecake, but haven't been successful in getting that perfectly smooth looking cake, i.e. on the sides. Am I not greasing the springform enough? Should I be using greased parchment? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Pomegranate Molasses question

I was thinking of drizzle pomegranate molasses on some bacon wrapped dates (cooked and warm from the oven). I should not have to do any additional cooking to the molasses, right?

How to Marinate Meat for Stir Fries

Anyone who's read our Wok Skills 101 Guide knows that with a stir-fry, having all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go is of utmost importance. Meat should be sliced. Vegetables should be chopped, sauces should be mixed, and aromatics should be minced before you turn the heat up. But there's another secret that will improve both the flavor and the texture of your proteins: proper marinating. Here's how you do it. More

The Food Lab: Bringing Home General Tso's Chicken

If the British can proudly call Chicken Tikka Masala their national dish, then surely it's time that General Tso got his chicken in our national spotlight. Everybody knows the candy-sweet take-out joint version, but I firmly believe that it has the potential to be so much more than that. How great would a homemade version of General Tso's be, with a flavor that shows some real complexity and a texture that takes that crisp-crust-juicy-center balance to the extreme? More

The Food Lab Turbo: Super Simple Gazpacho

A couple of years ago, I produced what was possibly the most time consuming gazpacho recipe ever. It was damn delicious—the best gazpacho I know how to make!—but took in excess of two hours from start to finish. Today, I'm going to share with you the version of gazpacho I make when I'm feeling lazy. Don't worry, it's still knock-your-socks-off tasty. More

How to Make Juicy Chicken Green Chile Tacos

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of great chicken tacos I've had in my life, and I'd still have one finger left to point accusingly at all the people who've served me dry, bland, flavorless meat in tortillas past. See, chicken tacos don't have to be dry. Just ask the lady who serves up the incredibly juicy chicken tacos at the El Gallo Giro truck in San Francisco's Mission district, or the slow-roasted pick-it-yourself affair from the Los Potosinos truck in Columbus, OH. Here's how I make mine. More

My Pizza Oven: Sue Wong - Busy, WFO-Obsessed Moms, Represent!

Last week I got an email from today's My Pizza Oven subject, Sue Wong of Phoenix: "I just had my first wood-fired oven installed in my backyard a month ago and have been reading everything I can on pizza, and your blog is my favorite." Well, if Ms. Wong was gunning for a MPO spot, she knew just the right buttons to push. Flattery gets you everywhere, right? Anyway, without further ado, let's put Sue in the hot seat. More

Bourbon Old Fashioned Glazed Pecans

A toss in melted butter and a mix of brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and a touch of cayenne would seem to be all these pecans need. But to echo their boozy inspiration, the nuts are then doused with bourbon and dotted with old-fashioned accoutrements of orange zest and cherries (dried cherries made plump by a soak in more bourbon). The result is a spicy-sweet snack of glazed pecans worthy of a perfectly made Old Fashioned cocktail, or any cool beverage you happen to be nursing. More