sarah fama

I'm an adjunct English composition instructor, a freelance knitwear designer, and an occasional blogger. I think food and wine are some of life's great simple (well, not necessarily simple) pleasures.

  • Website
  • Location: California
  • Favorite foods: Irish soda bread, sourdough bread, sushi, a well-made bowl of pasta, arugula, Gordon apples, homemade popcorn, caramel, goat cheese, dark chocolate, roasted red bell peppers, olive oil, the short rib hamburgers my husband makes, and real free-range eggs.
  • Last bite on earth: Either Irish soda bread made with my great-grandmother's recipe, or a really good piece of shiro toro nigiri from Sushi on the Run in Los Gatos, CA.

For the Best Oatmeal Pancakes, Toast Your Oats and Brown Your Butter

The teaser stills says "butts," and had me expecting a Tina Belcher reference. I am disappointed!

Make Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi in Less Time Than it Takes to Cook Dried Pasta

Oh God, that Bellwether Farms ricotta is the stuff dreams are made of...I always have a hard time not just eating it with a spoon (with a little salt and a bit of olive oil) but it does make amazing cannoli, and these gnocchi look worthy of it!

How to Make Salted Dulce de Leche Brownies

I need these for the mouth part of my face.

How to Make Dulce de Leche From a Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk

I prefer the mason jar/slow cooker method. Yes, it adds a step, but being able to check the color is great, and it still lasts forever in the fridge. Also, the jars are a bit more decorative if I'm making it as a gift.

Beyond Butter: 7 Popcorn Flavors to Upgrade Your Snacking

Popcorn is the best food of all the foods! I love nutritional yeast, Lawry's seasoning mix, and curry powder as toppings (though not all at once). Curry powder works especially well when I pop the corn in coconut oil instead of olive oil (which I think is the superior popping medium).

11 1/2 Things You Can Do With a Wooden Spoon (Besides Stirring)

When I started brewing, I learned that before yeast was cultivated, people used to use the same wooden spoon each time they made beer. They didn't know that it was hosting their yeast, they just knew that they had to use that special spoon to make the beer or it wouldn't turn out right. I find the thought of the historic brewer treasuring her/his wooden spoon, and maybe even passing it down to the kids, rather charming. Not enough to start making my beer that way, but still.

Can Yeast Really Keep You From Getting Drunk?

I'll post a link if I can find it again, but the other day I watched a video a homebrewer made to document himself trying this. He seemed pretty buzzed after drinking four beers in an hour after consuming the yeast/yogurt mixture, but the most memorable part was his recap the next morning -- he'd had some very deleterious effects which had kept him returning to the bathroom repeatedly. Considering he didn't stay any more sober than usual, this really does not seem worth the effort, or the risk of getting a case of the yeast-induced runs.

How to Build a Beer Book Library

I started homebrewing quite recently, and although I really enjoy the depth of books like Radical Brewing and How To Brew, I really got started thanks to the Brooklyn Brew Shop's book. Since the recipes are all for 1 gallon, and the 1 gallon equipment probably came to less than $20 at my local homebrew supply place, it was a really low-key, non-intimidating way to start dabbling in the process. (After all, 10 bottles of undrinkable beer is preferable to the prospect of 48 bottles of swill, should things not go well!) I've made a couple of the recipes so far, and the Simcoe IPA in particular turned out great.

Manner Matters: How To Dine Out With Kids

Nice response, Molly! The only thing I'd add is that it's really useful to tell kids "social stories" before going into novel situations where a certain kind of behavior is expected (whether it's a restaurant, the zoo, on a flight, etc.) It's a technique used for kids on the autism spectrum, but it helps any kid -- tell them what to expect from a new experience beforehand (repeatedly, if necessary) so that they go into the situation with a clear sense of what will happen and what your expectations are. I found this technique really helpful for my (neurotypical) son, especially when he was a toddler.

Cook the Book: 'Yucatán' by David Sterling

Way too hard to choose! One complete fantasy would be to do a round-the-world oyster expedition, either beginning or ending with the Galway oyster festival, then taking in France, Japan, the Pacific Northwest and the East coast (Prince Edward Island!). It would be kind of like the movie Endless Summer, but with oysters.

Open Thread: White Chocolate, Yay or Nay?

A previous commenter mentioned the Green & Black's white chocolate bar, and I heartily second that recommendation. It's divine in white chocolate chip cookies. I used to be all about dark chocolate, all the time, but the Green & Black's white and TCHO's milk chocolate have broadened my chocolate horizons.

The Food Lab: 11 Essential Tips for Better Pizza

The baking steel is amazing. I haven't stopped recommending it to people since we got it, so thanks for writing about it, Kenji! I'm actually planning to make some pizzas tonight; I've got your Neapolitan dough resting on the counter after a three-day cold rise, the oven is preheating to 550, and I'm deciding what wine to open. Not a bad way to end a Monday.

Where To Get Chocolates For Your Valentine (...or Yourself) in San Francisco

I'm normally all about the dark chocolate, but TCHO's milk chocolate is ridiculously good. Poco Dolce didn't make your list either; I've only had their "tiles" a few times, but I thought the burnt caramel ones were very tasty.

Super Bowl Party Giveaway: Pat LaFrieda Sliders

My favorite sushi place is closing in less than a month, so my plan is to go there for lunch and hope that the Super Bowl will keep other potential diners away. (The place only seats 8 people, and I hate waiting in line outside.) However, I'm open to making "gorge self on Pat LaFrieda sliders" my new backup plan!

479° Has Nailed the Sweet Popcorn Game

Their toasted coconut caramel flavor is also very good.

What's the Weirdest Ice Cream Flavor You've Ever Tried?

I live for weird ice creams -- except garlic. I tried that at the Gilroy garlic festival years ago, and it tasted like ass. In the delicious/weird category, I made Irish oatmeal ice cream for my parents' Saint Patrick's Day party last year, and Irish Soda Bread ice cream based on my great-grandmother's soda bread recipe. It was a buttermilk base with sugar-plumped raisins and caraway seeds strewn throughout, and it's one of my favorite creations to date.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Made the dough today and baked off half a dozen after only a few hours in the fridge. (Patience is perhaps not my strong suit when it comes to cookies.) They were excellent as-is, so I'm really looking forward to baking the rest with the fully rested dough tomorrow!

Sauced: Dulce de Leche

I've used the slow cooker method, but I poured the condensed milk into canning jars first, instead of keeping it in the sealed can. Slap on a cute ribbon and boom, holiday gift.

A Day in the Life: Robyn Lee, Staff Photographer and Editor, A Hamburger Today

Ummm...was Kenji humming the Greg Laswell cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? I believe it was on the Confessions of a Shopaholic soundtrack.

A Scoop for Every Plate: Three Takes on Pumpkin Ice Cream

A few years ago, Cook's Illustrated published a pumpkin cheesecake recipe in which they boosted the pumpkin flavor by cooking down the canned pumpkin puree in a saucepan ahead of time, thus reducing the water content. I have yet to make the cheesecake, but I've used the same trick to make pumpkin ice cream using canned pumpkin puree, and it worked like a charm. (I imagine making my own pumpkin puree out of roasted pumpkin would work as well, but I haven't been patient enough to do that yet!)

The Food Lab's Apple Pie, Part 2: Perfect Apple Pie Filling

I know this is an older article, but I'm making an apple pie today (using Kenji's easy pie dough recipe) and I used the sous vide method for cooking my apples. I was surprised to see how much liquid was in the bag after cooking, and at first was worried that liquid had seeped in -- but the water in the cooler was still totally clear, which suggests that my apples just exuded a lot of water (Gravensteins). So, I dumped the liquid in the pot, reduced it, added sugar, waited for the sugar to boil and turn a nice copper color, whisked in some cream, then whisked in a wee bit of butter, and I now have an AMAZING caramel sauce with rich apple flavor. Granted, I had to re-season and add a bit of cornstarch back to my apples for the filling, but that's not exactly a problem when the tradeoff is apple-flavored caramel sauce.

The Food Lab Turbo: Super Simple Gazpacho

My husband made this a few days ago when we had a large group over. He does not have your mad chive-slicing skills, so we were sadly chiveless, and we had to substitute red wine vinegar for sherry, but it was still fantastic. Any chance it would freeze well? We made too much...

8 Essential Places to Eat and Drink in Silicon Valley

Mmmm...Falafel Drive In. Love that place. A falafel + banana milkshake = heaven. (Gulzaar Halaal, practically across the street, was also excellent the few times I've managed to pass up falafel in favor of spicy chicken.)

My favorite individual item at any Mexican place is the Grandma's Special at La Fiesta in Mountain View. That's like liquid dreams, spiced and stirred with an unholy amount of sour cream.

My favorite sushi is at a place in Los Gatos that only seats 8 people, and since the line is long enough most of the time...go somewhere else, please!

It's not really in silicon valley, but my favorite beer place in the area is Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City; if I weren't pregnant, I could totally go for a pretzel and a beer in a glass boot right now.

And just because it never seems to get much love, City Pub, across the street from Gourmet Haus Staudt, has a solid beer selection with an option to order a beer "sampler," and one of the best burgers I've eaten in the bay area. The rest of the menu is decidedly meh, but the burger is pretty consistently great, especially cooked medium/medium rare with blue cheese on top.

Taste Test: The Best Sourdough Bread in San Francisco

I think they only sell at farmer's markets and wholesale, but Crepe and Brioche Bakery is one of my favorites in the bay area. Their massive levain, one quarter of which is the size of -- and sold as -- a regular loaf, is ridiculously good. So is pretty much everything else they make. (Funnily enough, they don't sell crepes, at least not at the farmer's markets! Their brioche is great, though.)

Do I Need to Use Eggs in Ice Cream (and How Many?)

I think I've mentioned this before in response to an ice cream post, but when making vanilla ice cream with Jeni's base, I add two egg yolks. (I stir them in to the hot mixture after thickening with tapioca starch.) Just thought I'd mention it, for those who want to experiment with her base but are also interested in an eggier ice cream for flavors like vanilla and chocolate. You could probably add more yolks; I just keep it to two because I find that sufficient to develop complex flavor without tasting "eggy." It's the only flavor I do that for, since, as Max says, her base is a perfect platform for playing with other flavors, especially infusions like coffee and tea.

New Orleans restaurant good for a bachelorette party dinner?

I've seen some great restaurant recommendations for New Orleans in the Talk forums, but I'm looking for something specific, and could use some help: I'll be part of a group of 8 or so ladies visiting New Orleans in late July (yeah, we know it's gonna be hot and muggy!) to celebrate a friend who is getting married. One of the nights, we want to go out to dinner someplace fun, not too extremely expensive, preferably in or near the French Quarter, preferably serving classic southern/New Orleans cuisine, and able to accommodate large groups. A good cocktail menu would be a plus (for the others, anyway -- I'm pregnant and therefore will just look on with envy.) Anyone have a suggestion for someplace meeting those criteria?