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.

Latest Comments

BraveTart's Homemade Milk Duds: All That's Missing Is the Yellow Box

These look amazing! A chocolate caramel version would also be wondeful. When I make caramels around the holidays every year, I make a chocolate version just by adding cocoa powder at the end and stirring it in thoroughly; would that work here?

A Few Not-So-Classic Ingredients Make a More Savory Shepherd's Pie

I agree with All-a-Mort, enriching the mashed potato with egg is a great idea. It helps the mash brown beautifully without any cheese, and I feel like it helps bind the mash together a bit better.

Also, I also vacillate between using wine or using beer (Guinness or something similar) to deglaze the pan, but I don't find it makes all that much difference in the end product, so I just go with whichever is readiest to hand (which is to say, whichever I feel more like drinking with dinner!)

Sous Vide Smoked Brisket

The largest brisket I could find was around 3.5 lbs, so I adjusted the spice mix downward a little bit. I cooked mine at 155 degrees for 24 hours, and although the connective tissue had definitely dissolved a lot, making the meat fall apart when sliced thin, it was very dry. All the moisture ended up cooking out of the meat. I did take Kenji's tip and cook that juice down with some barbecue sauce, which made the sauce taste fantastic, but the meat was disappointing. Is this not at all worth doing with a smaller brisket? Should I try the longer, lower-temp version instead? Would it have helped if I'd gone with the longer rest instead of using an ice bath to cool it down before putting it in the oven? I tried to pick the best-marbled brisket available, but they were all relatively lean -- for this recipe to work, is there a minimum amount of marbling needed? If so, a photo for reference would be really helpful.

How to Make the Ultimate Cherry Pie

@VeganWithaYoYo I haven't tried Earth Balance yet, but last time I did a "vegan month" I used Miyoko's vegan butter with a bit of Crisco in Kenji's pie crust, and it turned out really good. It's supposed to work 1:1 in baking applications, and it didn't have the weird off-putting aftertaste I've noticed when baking with the different types of Earth Balance butter substitutes that I've used.

How to Cook Spanish-Style Pimientos de Padrón

Love both these and shishito peppers! My usual method is to roast them at very high heat in the oven, tossed with a little olive oil and salt. This minimizes cleanup (foil-lined pan) and the stems get very crunchy and delicious. Absurdly delicious dipped in goat cheese or in the good almond-based vegan cream cheese.

Forget Raw: Roast Your Radishes for Maximum Mileage

I love roasted radishes! I wash the leaves well, dry them, then toss them with olive oil and salt and roast them along with the radishes (usually on the side of the pan, so I can take them out separately). They end up addictively crispy.

Sicilian Eggplant and Pine Nut Caponata

This was fantastic. I'll definitely be making this again. I didn't have mint, so I left that out, and I substituted half a sweet yellow onion for the scallions, but those were the only changes I made. Great on bread, and over roasted cauliflower.

Equipment: Why it's Worth Buying an Olive Oil Pourer

Kenji, now that you're in the bay area, you should make sure to check out the olive oil selection at Sigona's Farmer's Market, if you haven't done so already. It's a grocery store with two locations: one in Redwood City, and one at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. They bottle a wide variety of olive oils (all labeled by region and variety), and the bottling date is always written on the front. They always have a bunch of small bottles of different varieties set up for tasting, and the employees I've spoken to have always been helpful and knowledgeable. The oil comes in dark glass wine-style bottles, closed with a cork stopper, so I've never bothered decanting or putting a stopper in them. It's pretty awesome, especially if you manage to stop by during the brief window when they have the California Koroneki, before it sells out.

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 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!