17 Jan 2019

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Magic Bars

These Peanut Butter Pretzel Magic Bars are a MUST for your next party! Think: Super Bowl, office party, or birthday. They have a pretzel crust with layers of peanut butter, chocolate, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk topped with more pretzels.

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17 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

16 Jan 2019

feedSimply Recipes

Easy No-Bean Chili

Chili, without the beans-just beef, tomatoes, onions, and lots of great spices. Make it ahead, freeze the leftovers, eat it for days.

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16 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala! This recipe is so EASY! It's made on the stovetop and tastes just like take-out. Ready in about 30 minutes, this Chicken Tikka Masala can be on the table in no time.

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16 Jan 2019 2:00pm GMT

15 Jan 2019

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How to Make the Best Oatmeal

Here's everything you need to know to make the best oatmeal you've ever had. You'll never have to suffer through a bowl of bland, gluey oats again!

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15 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

Red Chili Chicken Enchiladas

Our favorite red chili chicken enchiladas! Corn tortillas are dipped in red chili sauce to bake in the flavor in this easy chicken enchiladas recipe. Simple make-ahead midweek dinner. Reheats well for leftovers!

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15 Jan 2019 2:00pm GMT

14 Jan 2019

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Greek Meatloaf with Spinach and Feta

Tangy, garlicky, and savory-this Greek meatloaf gets flavor boosts from spinach, feta and pomegranate molasses, a common ingredient in Mediterranean food.

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14 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

13 Jan 2019

feedSimply Recipes

Slow Cooker Chicken Stock

There's something so satisfying about making your own chicken stock, and doing it in the slow cooker is a total set-it-and-forget-it exercise. Use it in soups and risotto, sip it from a mug, freeze it for future use-the possibilities are endless.

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13 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

What’s the Difference Between Stock and Broth?

Ever wonder if there is a difference between stock and broth? Or if you can use one for the other in a recipe? Here are the answers!

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13 Jan 2019 2:59pm GMT

12 Jan 2019

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Simply Recipes 2019 Meal Plan: January Week 3

Here's your fresh, new meal plan for this week! You can look forward to Slow Cooker Taco Soup, Creamy Ziti Florentine, Stromboli, and more!

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12 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

Pressure Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Wings

Pressure Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Wings take the party to the next level. The pressure cooker means tender, fully-flavored wings in no time, and a quick pass under the broiler makes them crispy. Toss with more sauce for a sticky, sweet party snack!

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12 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

11 Jan 2019

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7 Layer Bean Dip

It's not a party without 7-layer Bean Dip! This one is made with hot refried beans and topped with cheddar cheese, chilies, tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, and sliced black olives. Serve with tortilla chips while the beans are still hot!

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11 Jan 2019 2:00pm GMT

10 Jan 2019

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Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup is an Italian classic! This version is made with cannellini beans, chicken stock, cabbage, potato, zucchini, carrots, plum tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.

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10 Jan 2019 2:00pm GMT

09 Jan 2019

feedSimply Recipes

What’s in Season – January Produce Guide

What's in season in January? Check out our seasonal January Produce Guide and recipes for recipes for lemons, oranges, grapefruit, beets, turnips, parsnips, celery root, cabbage, kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, and acorn squash

Continue reading "What's in Season - January Produce Guide" »

09 Jan 2019 9:01pm GMT

Crispy Panko Fish Sticks

Hello, homemade Panko Fish Sticks! Say goodbye to soggy fish sticks from the freezer! These fish sticks are ready for the table in about 30 minutes and are sure to please the whole family.

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09 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

08 Jan 2019

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4 Best Mix-Ins for Banana Bread

Banana bread is a perennial favorite that you can eat any season, any time of the day. Here are four great mix-ins to take them to the next level.

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08 Jan 2019 3:00pm GMT

Ham and Potato Soup

This hearty Ham and Potato Soup is made with a ham shank or leftover ham bone and russet potatoes. Perfect for chilly weather!

Continue reading "Ham and Potato Soup" »

08 Jan 2019 2:00pm GMT

13 Dec 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Kitchen Gift Guide 2018 & Giveaway

This year my recommendations are short, sweet and all really practical but are things I genuinely enjoy using. Without further ado…
Save space
I used to have two big clunky wooden knife blocks. My knives only fit in certain slots and the blocks took up a ton of room. Worst of all, they tended to tip over. So I bought this good looking bamboo knife block to replace them and am sorry I didn't buy it sooner. It holds an amazing number of knives! One block replaces two, and holds 14 knives of varying sizes and shapes. It takes up little space and won't dull knives the way wood blocks do. If you or someone you know are still using a wooden block, I highly recommend upgrading to this bamboo block with plastic needles. $22.99



Season away
I have had various ceramic salt cellars and none of them quite suited me. I like to grab a pinch of salt and most cellars use a spoon or are too deep to reach into. This triple salt box has 3 levels and easily swings open so kosher salt, smoked salt and flaky salt are all within reach. But you could use it for other seasonings like ground pepper or dried herbs if you prefer. They also make a 2 tiered box. It's reasonably priced and something I genuinely enjoy using. It's also rather handsome. $21.89

Cook it
Non-stick pans have come a long way since the days of Teflon. Today you can find pans that are free of harmful chemicals, yet affordable and durable. Everyone should have a good nonstick pan for frying eggs and making omelets. The light weight DiamoTech nonstick pan features a 4 layer design and is made with aluminum. It can be used in the oven up to 500° F and is scratch resistant. It's free of PTFE/PFOA/PFOS and dishwasher safe but I cannot imagine ever needing to put it in a dishwasher. I used this pan consistently for 3 months and even made a huge batch of crepes and never needed to use any butter or oil. It's the best ceramic nonstick pan I've ever used. The 9.5 inch pan with a glass lid is just $19.99

If you're the kind of person who prefers cooking with nonstick (I can't blame you!) the Circulon Symmetry Merlot Twin Pack Skillets Set nonstick French skillets are incredibly durable, made from hard-anodized aluminum and have a magnetic stainless steel base so they are compatible with all cooktop ranges, including induction. The pans feature a unique cooking surface of raised circles that reportedly lasts 10 times longer than ordinary nonstick coatings. Unlike many other nonstick pans they are metal-utensil-safe, in addition to being PFOA-free and oven-safe to 400° F. and are dishwasher safe, though I find them easy to clean. The high sides to these pans make them perfect for frying, sautéing, as well as making pan sauces and gravies. A 10 and 12 inch pan set in gorgeous Merlot color is $67.39 (other colors are a bit less)

Drizzle it
Laudemio extra virgin olive oil is made from Frantoio, Maraiolo and Leccino olives that come from an estate near Florence. It's a very "green" olive oil with notes of artichoke and grass. It's one of the best you can buy and because Laudemio is celebrating their 30th anniversary the bottle is a stunning gold this year. Great quality extra virgin olive oil must be used fresh, so don't save it, savor it! I wouldn't use this olive oil on salads, it's too good. But I would use it on plain cooked beans, grilled meats, potatoes, steamed vegetables, toast, vanilla ice cream, any "blank canvas" that will allow you to fully enjoy the flavor. $44.95

Bake, toast, roast or slow cook
I know everyone is going nuts for the Instant Pot but I'm still a fan of this great counter top oven. I just replaced my original Breville Smart Oven with a newer model and am really loving it. It heats quickly, has a convection feature, a light, and now has a slow cooking function so I can put a Dutch oven in it for hours and hours. My last Breville SmartOven lasted 8 years. It costs $215.95

GIVEAWAY!

Deiss Kitchenware is offering one of my readers a lemon zester/cheese grater (value $10.98). I have an earlier model and use it practically daily. It would make a nice gift or a stocking stuffer. To win you must reside in the United States. Please leave a comment telling me what's on YOUR kitchen wish list this year. I will choose one winner at random on Monday December 17, 2018.

Disclaimer: I purchased some of these items, but received the oil as a gift, the pans for review purposes. This post does include some affiliate links. I was not paid to write this or any other post.

©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

13 Dec 2018 6:12pm GMT

21 Nov 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Interview with Jim Kempton author of First We Surf, The We Eat


There are many parallels between surfing and cooking starting with the fact that both can be an adrenaline rush. But has there ever been a surfer's cookbook? That was the question I asked Jim Kempton, a jourmalist, chef, restaurater and surfer. Kempton is the author of First We Surf, Then We Eat: Recipes from a Lifetime of Surf Travel. The answer? Not like this one. Even though I'm not a surfer (yet!) I love this book which combines the best of a memoir and travelogue with recipes. Recipes run the gamut from banana pancakes from Hawaii, Basque tuna steaks, machaca and eggs from Mexico and Rujak, a spicy sweet fruit salad from Bali.

How important is the communal aspect of dining to you and to surfers in general?
It's important to me because it's part of what attracted me to certain cuisines, even though we don't always practice it everywhere it is very important in some places. It's especially true for surfers. A lot of surfers don't cook so they dine with whoever does! Surfers travel a lot and so it's also practical. Also bringing it [BRINGING WHAT?]brings back the communal aspect of living, the idea of hanging out with people is missed and is being revived. Eating together is a way to do that.

How have you gathered recipes from so many places? From chefs, other surfers?
Every recipe I have is something I came across somewhere-a friend, at a hotel, a restaurant-and I was so taken with it that I had to learn it. The hardest thing was standarizing the recipes because I'd been cooking them for so long I never thought about it. Recipes were on the back of envelopes or tucked into books or in books I'd received as gifts. I learn so much from reading cookbooks.

How did you learn to cook?
The same way I learned to surf! Unless you go to school, there's no way to learn except by doing it. Both my parents loved to cook. We lived in a lot of places where you cooked differently. I always enjoyed it and was an observer of it.

You grew up in Guam and have some recipes from Guam, what can you tell me about it?
I would say, it has some of the best fish dishes, although no match for Tahitian restaurant cuisine which has a French influence. The fresh fish and variety there is incredible.

What are your favorite surf destinations for food?
People don't think of the Atlantic coast of France but it has great waves. It's also a beautiful coastline, the Basque country with rocky ledges and long stretches of beach are amazing. Stop anywhere and the food is great and the quality is high.

The food in Bali is really a fusion of different Indonesian elements and the Caribbean with different cultural influences from other places. It's tropical but there are different kinds of dishes you wouldn't find ther. The food in Morocco is getting better all the time. Peru is a booming place for food.

What's your favorite comfort food recipe from the book?
I was raised in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. My wife was born in Southern California. She wants rice and beans and I grew up on rice and noodles. So the first recipe is Pancit noodles. It's one of the first things I learned to cook along with fried rice, I have one fried rice recipe from Peru and another from Hawaii and another from Central America. Fried rice is a good way to clean out the fridge! Another is soups and I have quite a few soup recipes. Soups are better the next day. The eggplant and shrimp soup is a favorite.

What's your most impressive recipe from the book?
The Moroccan lamb with fruit. You can't screw it up. Cooking with fruit is not something Europeans have done since the Middle Ages but the Arabs have always done it. The combination of savoriness and sweetness, and the textures, is a real mind blower. It's got the wow factor.

Thanks Jim!

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book and this post includes an affiliate link

©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

21 Nov 2018 6:35pm GMT

01 Nov 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Remembering James Beard at the Stanford Court

Erica Peters, Marelene Sorosky Gray, Jacqueline Mallorca and John Phillip Carroll
In the 1970's and 80's James Beard, the "dean of American cookery" took up residence at the Stanford Court hotel. The hotel was his home for three months out of the year. The San Francisco Professional Food Society recently hosted a conversation with three of his friends and co-workers, John Phillip Carroll, Jacqueline Mallorca and Marlene Sorosky Gray who reminisced about his time at the Stanford Court. It was moderated by food historian Erica Peters.

Here are just a few highlights from the event:

On his time in San Francisco:
This city and this hotel room were great refuge for him. It was chaos in New York. Julia Child once referred to his New York house as being full of loonies but here he was invited to everyone's home for dinner and he was taken care of. He said, "the city just gets into my blood." - John Phillip Carroll (JPC)

He loved the West Coast and he had a lot of friends here from years back that pampered him. Chuck Williams would have him for dinner at least once a week. He kept his private life private. He enjoyed his life, he had a good time and he lived it up. - Jacqueline Mallorca (JM)

Even towards the end of his life he loved to party, he would tell me--"Jackie don't get old." - (JM)

On his career:
He had a genuine interest and admiration for American cuisine and how special it was. In his hands it was new and fresh. - JPC

I think he knew he was doing something important but he was humble. - JC

During his entire career as a freelance writer he did not make a ton of money off his books and he was never good on television. He was a bit envious of Julia Child's success but they were very good friends and spent time here together. - JPC

Illustration of James Beard by Jacqueline Mallorca
I worked with Julia Child and James, Julia was a teacher, that was what she loved to do, she was curious Jacques is the best technical cook in the country, no one can touch him and James was like an encyclopedia when it came to food. If you wanted to know anything you could ask him and he would go into a dissertation on it. - Marlene Sorosky Gray (MG)
Kraft offered him a huge amount of money to promote squeeze Parkay. Marion Cunningham and I made toast and he wanted to like it but he hated it and said no. - JPC

He told me, "I wouldn't do Aunt Jemima. I don't look good in a bandana." - JM

Some funny anecdotes:
Jim (James Beard) was a very jovial man. We had gone to New York for a book signing at Bloomingdales and Jim walked very slowly. We were making very stately progress and a drunk came up and said, "Aren't you Winston Churchill?" Jim roared with laughter and said, "I wish I was!" he was always fun and very social, he loved to party. - JM

In a cookware shop a woman came up to him and said excitedly, "I can't believe it, James Child, aren't you the famous chef and he responded not unless there is a Julia Beard. He was never insulted; he just made light of the experience. - MG

In the holiday season in the mid 70's in the corner suites, on the top floor was Julia and Paul Child, James Beard on the 7th floor, Marcella & Victor Hazan on the 6th floor and Craig Claiborne on the 5th. If the hotel had crumbled the food world would have changed. For me it was a golden age to be involved in any aspect of food, wine and hospitality. It was a much smaller world. We were all very good friends. We were lucky to all be there are the same time. - JPC
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

01 Nov 2018 8:03pm GMT

26 Sep 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Instant Indian Cookbook Review


Indian cooks have discovered the Instant Pot and how well it works for Indian cuisine-it can be used to cook everything from rice to yogurt to complex layered meat and vegetable dishes. There are at least 10 Indian Instant Pot cookbooks on Amazon at the moment, and I suspect there are more e-books out there on the topic as well. There are also a ton of blogs that focus on Indian recipes made in the Instant Pot.

I recently purchased an Instant Pot but had never used it. I tried it out with a recipe from Instant Indian: Classic foods from every region of India made easy in the Instant Pot! By Rinku Bhattacharya. The recipe I chose was Cozy Butter Chicken. The instructions for this dish were incredibly clear, so much so that I was able to make this dish without having ever used the Instant Pot before. The author points out that timing is an issue "You need to factor in the time it takes to come to full pressure, the actual pressure cooking time, and the time for steam release. I have accounted for the complete cooking cycle by noting a total time needed with all my recipes." But that was the problem I had with the recipe which states:

TOTAL TIME: 40 MINUTES
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Sauté Time: 15 minutes
Pressure Cook: 10 minutes
Pressure Release: 10 minutes

I found that this does not include the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come to full pressure, and an accurate time for pressure release. It took almost another 10 minutes to reach full pressure and over 15 minutes to release naturally rather than the stated 10 minutes. That is a considerable amount of additional time.

Cozy Butter Chicken
Cozy Butter Chicken, on the right according to the instructions and on the left with the sauce reduced

The other issue I had with this recipe was that the finished dish was incredibly watery and the chicken was somewhat overcooked and falling apart. The sauce did not resemble the thick creamy sauce I know from having had this dish in the past. I spent almost another 10 minutes reducing the sauce in a saucepan. Once I did, the sauce and the dish were absolutely delicious.

I struggled with the decision to purchase an Instant Pot because I really don't have room for it. But I thought perhaps I would be able to replace my rice cooker and my pressure cooker with it. But I found it took longer for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure than it takes my old pressure cooker, so I'm not sure that it will replace it after all. The biggest convenience factor to making this dish was the built in timer which allows you to set the cooking time. I also like that it has settings for things like yogurt and rice.

So would I recommend the Instant Pot and using it for Indian Recipes? Probably, but I will need to do some more experimenting.

Disclaimer: A pdf of this book was given to me for review purposes

©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

26 Sep 2018 6:53pm GMT

25 Sep 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

All About White Peaches

Recently I received a flat of white peaches. I was planning to preserve them but I quickly realized that wasn't such a good idea. White peaches are lower in fruit acid so they are extremely sweet. They have a lovely almost floral fragrance and a very soft juicy texture. All of this makes them great to eat out of hand, but not so great for canning or cooking. If you can them you need to add a lot of acid such as lemon juice and if you bake with them they lose their shape and can get very mushy.

White peaches are the most popular kind of peaches in Asia, but in the West and in Europe we tend to prefer yellow peaches. White peaches ripen very quickly and require refrigeration once soft or they will spoil. Freezing them is also an option. Since using them raw is best, I had to figure out what to do with them as fast as I could.

I decided to freeze most of the peaches. Frozen they can be added to smoothies. I also pureed some peaches and froze the puree to use to make the Bellini cocktail which is just prosecco and peach puree. But what else can you do with white peaches?

Here are a few more ideas:

Use them in simple syrup

Make a shrub

Add them to kombucha

Include them in fruit salad

Use a few slices to sweeten iced tea

Mix up a peach smash with bourbon or whiskey

Disclaimer: My thanks to Washington State Stone Fruit Growers for the peaches. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

25 Sep 2018 6:49pm GMT

28 Aug 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Easy Peach Jam Recipe

Easy peach jam



I've made peach jam several times, thanks in part to an annual delivery of peaches courtesy of the Washington Stone Fruit Growers, but I continue to look for ways to simplify the canning process. Standard peach jam recipes call for a lot of sugar and some powder or liquid pectin. The result is good, but can be a bit on the sweet side and a little rubbery. My preference is for a softer jam with less sugar and frankly less fuss. I wondered if there might be a way to make jam without bothering with the tedious job of peeling peaches? It turns out, there is.

The key to this recipe is the peels. Lemon peel and peach peel are high in pectin and so if you cook the peaches with them, you won't need to add any additional pectin. I started with a recipe from A Sweet Spoonful, but the main difference was I skipped peeling the fruit and used the lemon peel as well as the juice. I added some slices of fresh ginger in my first batch but I didn't find it added much flavor so I'm skipping it. You could certainly add some powdered ginger, candied ginger or even scraped vanilla bean if you like.

This jam is in between jam and preserves. It has some skin in it, but it's silky smooth and doesn't detract from the texture or flavor of the peaches. The pureed skins add a pretty rosy tint. How much you puree is up to you, I estimate I pureed about 1/3 cup or so. Note: You could can this in half pint or pint jars. I used a combination of both.

Easy Peach Jam
Makes 2 1/2 pints

Ingredients

4 pounds washed peaches, pitted and cut into chunks, about 8 cups
2 cups ganulated sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon rind from one lemon, cut into large pieces

Instructions

Fill a canner with water and bring to a boil. Place the jars in the canner and boil. Put a small plate in the freezer so you can test the jam later.

Place the peach chunks in a large non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. Don't stir-just let the sugar sit and macerate, this helps to release the natural juices of the fruit. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours.

Add the fruit along with the lemon peel to a large pot and bring to a boil. Using a potato masher mash the peaches. Continue stirring the peaches as they cook, using a wooden spoon. After about 10 minutes skim as much of the peels out of the pot using a slotted spoon and puree them in a blender then add them back to the pot. Remove the lemon peel and discard. Continue cooking until the mixtures thickens, about another 20 minutes. Test the thickness by placing a teaspoon full of the jam on the chilled plate and let it rest for about 30 seconds. Run your finger through the dollop and if it stays separated where your finger was, it's thick enough.

Lift the jars out of the canner, pouring the hot water back into the canner. Ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. After filling the jar, release the air bubbles by inserting a narrow silicone spatula or similar tool between the jam and the inside of the jar. Place the rims on top of each jar and loosely seal with the bands. Carefully place the jars back in the canner and process/boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the canner and let rest overnight, you may hear the lids pop. Store for up to one year.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Peaches were provided to me as part of the canbassador program by Washington State Stone Fruit Growers and to Ball Home Canning for the jars.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

28 Aug 2018 5:31pm GMT

26 Aug 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Alison's Peach Chutney Recipe

Peach Chutney Recipe



I met Alison McQuade 15 years ago. She wanted me to try her chutney and invited me to meet her at a local wine bar. At that time she was on the verge of quitting her day job and becoming a full time artisanal food producer. While to this day she doesn't describe herself as a cook, she has mad skills when it comes to chutney. She is also quite a wonderful person and we quickly became friends.

Over the years I have bought McQuade's Celtic Chutney to give as gifts, made recipes using her various varieties of chutney and been an all around fan of her products. Faced with a box full of peaches this year supplied to me by the Washington State Stone Fruit Growers, I knew I wanted to make chutney but couldn't imagine just turning to any old recipe. So I called on Alison for some guidance. Her recipe uses weights, so if you don't have a digital scale, please use this as the excuse to buy one, they are not expensive and are essential for baking. The one I currently use is a SmartWeight model that cost less than $20 and displays pounds, ounces, grams and milliliters. You'll note the chutney is in Ball jars for gifting, and the company that produces them makes a donation to Feeding America for every package purchased (up to $150k).

Alison has a keen sense of what flavors will go together and balancing heat, acidity and sweetness. Her chutneys are always chunky, fresh tasting and highlight the fruit. They are not goopy, gloppy, too sweet or sour and always have just the right amount of zing. This peach chutney is particularly wonderful. It uses a mixture of different vinegars and classic spices, fresh ginger, cinnamon and allspice. If you're wondering how to use chutney, it's terrifc with cheese of course, but also on sandwiches, with stews and curries on sausages or chops, or mixed in chicken salad. Honestly I could eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon!

Note: This recipe makes 3 pints, but you can easily use 6 half pint jars if you prefer. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you want to make a bigger batch.

Alison's Peach Chutney

Makes about 3 pints

Ingredients

2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
800 ml apple cider vinegar
200 ml malt vinegar
400 gm brown sugar
Knob ginger peeled and grated, about 2 Tablespoons
1.5 kg ripe but firm peaches, about 3 1/2 pounds
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice
180 gm golden raisins

Instructions

Fill a canner with water and bring to a boil. Add the peaches to the water and cook for about a minute then transfer the peaches using a slotted spoon to a boil with cold water. Peel and coarsely chop the peaches and set aside. Place the jars in the canner and boil for 10 minutes.

In a large stock pot combine the onion, vinegars, sugar, ginger, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Bring to a boil then simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add the peaches and stir occasionally, adding golden raisins after about 15 minutes, continue cooking until tender and jam-like about 30-40 minutes total. Chutney will thicken further after being processed.

Lift the jars out of the canner, pouring the hot water back into the canner. Ladle the chutney into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. After filling the jar, release the air bubbles by inserting a narrow silicone spatula or similar tool between the chutney and the inner surface of the jar. Place the rims on top of each jar and loosely seal with the bands. Carefully place the jars back in the canner and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the canner and let rest overnight, you may hear the lids pop. Store for up to one year.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: A special thanks to Alison McQuade for helping with the recipe. Peaches were provided to me as part of the canbassador program by Washington State Stone Fruit Growers and to Ball Home Canning for the jars. This post includes one affiliate link.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

26 Aug 2018 4:56pm GMT

31 Jul 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Halibut Burgers Recipe

Halibut burgers
I get a delivery of seafood once per week from Real Good Fish, and for two weeks in a row, it's been halibut. Rather than just cook the filets, I decided to go in a different direction, burgers. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a burger even if it's not a hamburger. Salmon is very popular for burgers, but halibut works too. The trick with fish burgers, much like fish cakes, is to minimize the filler.

I came across a brilliant technique from Melissa Trainer, who wrote that she learned it from chef Jordan Mackey. The trick is to use pureed raw fish as the binder, rather than bread crumbs or egg. That's pretty much it. The burgers hold together beautifully. Halibut is lean though, so it's important not to overcook it. You can check the temperature if you like and when it's 145 degrees it's done, but I just cook it until it's firm.

I like my burger served on a bun, but you could also serve it on a bed of greens. It does benefit from a slathering of tartar sauce. Use any recipe for tartar sauce that you like. Tartar sauce is just mayo, lemon juice and some chopped capers and pickle relish or chopped cornichons. If you're not planning to use tartar sauce but just mayo, double the salt in the burgers.

Halibut Burgers
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pound halibut, skin and bones removed
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill
Oil for grilling

Instructions

Roughly dice the halibut into about 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the diced halibut with salt and sugar and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove about 1/3 of the fish and process in a food processor until smooth. Add the puree back to the remaining fish along with the mustard, lemon peel and dill and stir until well combined then form 4 patties.

Heat a grill pan or skillet and lightly oil it. When hot, add the burgers and cook for 3 minutes over medium high heat. Flip the burgers and cook until cooked through but still moist, about 3 minutes. Serve on a bun with tartar sauce, arugula and a slice of tomato.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My thanks to Real Good Fish for providing me with the halibut used in creating this recipe.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

31 Jul 2018 11:34pm GMT

23 Jul 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Bourbon Cherries Recipe


The pleasure of fresh cherries is fleeting, so while there may be nothing better than eating them soon after they are picked, if you want to enjoy them year round, canning is the answer. This year I decided to make bourbon cherries from the wonderfully sweet cherries kindly sent to me by the Northwest Cherry Growers as part of the "Canbassador" program. They are terrific in cocktails but also spooned over vanilla ice cream.

This year I finally bit the bullet and bought a canner, it's a small one, it holds 7 pint jars which is just fine for me. Over the years I've accumulated a number of canning accoutrement-the jar lifter, the jar funnel and the lid lifter. I use a variety of jars, but am particularly fond of the Ball® Sharing Jars I received from Ball® Home Canning. Designed for gifting, the company that produces them makes a donation to Feeding America for every package purchased (up to $150k).

This year I used a recipe from Ball but I've expanded the recipe instructions to include all the steps you need to take. I've also replaced the brandy in their recipe with bourbon. I recommend choosing a delicious bourbon that isn't too hot and has vanilla, spice and caramel flavors to complement the cherries.
Bourbon cherries
The sharing jars are on the right, a classic Ball jar is on the left

Bourbon Cherries - adapted from Ball Canning
Makes about 6 or 7 pints

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
6 pounds cherries, washed, stemmed and pitted
1 1/4 cups bourbon

Instructions

Get your jars, lids and band rims ready. Wash pint canning jars with soapy water. Rinse the jars throughly and place in a canner or very large pot. Fill the pot with water, cover and bring to a boil. Meanwhile combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a pot large enough to hold all of the cherries. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to make sure the sugar is fully disolved. Add the cherries. When heated through add take the pot off the stove and add the bourbon.

Lift the jars out of the water, emptying the water back into the pot as you go. Ladle the cherry mixture into the hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Wipe the rims and twist the rim band until "fingertip" tight. Place the jars careully into the boiling waterthen boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to rest for 5 minutes in the canner. Remove the jars and allow to rest to 12 hours before testing to make sure the jars are properly sealed. Store for up to one year.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to both Northwest Cherry Growers and Ball® Home Canning both are great resources for recipes and information.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

23 Jul 2018 3:20pm GMT

19 Jul 2018

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Indo Fijian Food

I'm fascinated by the Pacific Islands, maybe it's because the San Francisco Bay Area is home to one of the largest populations of Pacific Islanders outside of the Pacific Islands. While I've spent a fair amount of time in Hawaii most of the other islands in the region are on my bucket list including Fiji. I was lucky enough to meet some Fijians recently and here is what I learned.

1. Fijians put family ahead of everthing else and are known for being very talented health care workers who say "caregiving is in our blood."

2. Fijians are passionate about rugby and were the world champtions in the Rugby World Cup Sevens twice and won the gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

3. Fijians partake in drinking kava made from the root of the Piper methysticum plant. It's has sedative, anesthetic and euphoric properties and relieves anxiety. Originally used in ceremonites, it's now enjoyed socially and served out of a bowl, if you're lucky by a charming and handsome Fijian.

4. Fiji was formerly a British colony, over 40% of their population is Indo Fijian. So much of their cuisine is influenced by Indian food.

5. Just as the Hawaiian word aloha means many things and is used as a greeting, Fijians use the word bula (boo-lah) which means life but implies good health.

In addition to meeting Fijians, I got to try some Indo-Fijian food. Here are a few dishes made by James Raven Chand, proprietor of Curryous? Catering. The food was outstanding and if you're looking for something a little out of the ordinary, James is your man.


First off, crunchy fried cassava served with pineapple cilantro chutney. In the middle are some of the tastiest meatballs, made from a combination of beef for flavor and chicken for tenderness, marinated in a spice paste and coated with a red pepper coconut glaze. Finally on the right, some classic samosas, filled with potatoes and peas. Light and crisp and delicious served with a tamarind chutney.

Last but not least, the Fijians are in San Francisco for their beloved rugby so if you'd like to meet them, head to the Rugby World Cup Sevens Welcome Ceremony at Embarcadero Plaza at 5 pm on Thursday July 19, 2018 or get tickets to see them play at AT&T Park. Or learn more about visiting Fiji.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

19 Jul 2018 2:37am GMT

18 Jul 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Asian Night Markets coming to San Francisco

The San Francisco Bay Area has an incredibly diverse food scene. You can dine at Michelin star restaurants with elaborate tasting menus, or grab something on the go at a food truck and there's no shortage of options in between. Over the past 10 years street food events have provided a new option. But we've been missing something that's common in Asia, the night market. There have been a few pop-ups, but Off the Grid at Fort Mason is perhaps the closest thing we have to it on a regular basis. With music, drinks and almost 30 food vendors it's a fun and tasty way to spend a Friday night.

But if you've been to a night market in Asia, you know it offers much more than just food and music. It usually includes different kinds of entertainment, vendors and artisans selling their wares and sometimes even activities for kids. Night markets are fun but also a way to discover and connect with different people and cultures in a most delicious way. I'm happy to share two different night market events in San Francisco - one more geared towards adults and the other is all ages.


July 19th, 2018 from 7 - 10 pm
Chef's Hawker Centre Festival

Local chef Tu David Phu is the organizer of Chef's Hawker Centre style pop-ups including a ticketed event taking place at the Asian Art Museum this week. Guests will get unlimited access to food booths and two drink tickets to try cocktails by Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven and Jack Daniels Cocktail Champ Adam Brogan.

Participating chefs include newly minted SF Chronicle Rising Star Chef Francis Ang of Pinoy Heritage, Jason Angeles of FK Frozen Custard, Reem Assil of Reem's California, Richgail Enriquez of Astig Vegan, Deuki Hong of Sunday at the Museum, Jake Rosenbush of Hardwood Bar & Smokery, Hanif Sadr of Komaaj, and Nite Yun of Nyum Bai.

I'm really excited about this event! I can vouch for the food from Francis Ang, Jason Angeles, Reem Assil, and Jake Rosenbush and am eager to try the rest. It's a great opportunity to explore some of the Bay Area's most exciting food all under one roof. Tickets start at $65


July 21st, 2018 (August 18th, September 15th, October 20th) from 4 -10 pm
Undiscovered SF Creative Night Market

Despite its fairly low profile, food writers like me have been saying Filipino food is the next big thing for ages and maybe it finally is coming true. This Summer and into the Fall there will be a Filipino night market taking place one Saturday a month, behind the SF Chronicle building at 401 Minna St. I recently went to a preview and loved every bite.

The line up of talent is amazing-lots of terrific chefs including Alex Retodo of The Lumpia Company who makes unbelievable fillings for his lumpia like bacon cheeseburger! Deanna Sison Foster of Mestiza, Chef JP of The Sarap Shop who makes complex and flavorful Laing rice bowls with succulent braised taro leaves with ginger and shrimp paste, Hannah Huyoa of Adobos and More who could find no Filipino food in Santa Rosa and began making her own scrumptious adobo tacos, Dennis Villafranca aka Jeepney Guy who makes crispy skin pork lechon, and Reina Montenegro of Nick's Kitchen who will blow you away with her vegan versions of everything from flan to sisig and caldereta, her food is really unbelievable. I'm leaving out the desserts (there's got to be some surprises).
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

18 Jul 2018 1:08am GMT

14 Jun 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Roasted Fioretto Recipe

Roasted fioretto
It's not often that you come across a new vegetable. The first time I saw Fioretto at a market in Chinatown I thought it must be some kind of weird overgrown cauliflower. It turns out it's a relatively new hybrid that combines the best of broccoli and cauliflower. In addition to Fioretto, it's also called stick cauliflower, flowering cauliflower, Chinese cauliflower and kaurifurore. It has thinner sweeter tops than cauliflower, and stems similar to broccoli which are sometimes white and other times pale green. The stems deepen in color when cooked.

The hybrid was developed in Japan in 2012 by a seed company and I started noticing it the past year or so but couldn't find much information about it. Once I tried cooking it, I became a fan. Because it's less dense, it's easy to cook and lends itself well to raw, steamed or stir fried recipes. One of the ways I particularly like preparing it is by roasting it with olive oil, salt and garlic. Like traditional cauliflower it develops a very appealing sweet flavor when cooked. It's a great side dish, but also good tossed with pasta or in a roasted vegetable salad served either warm or at room temperature.

I've seen Fioretto at both farmer's markets and frequently in Asian produce markets and it's also distributed by Melissa's and Specialty Produce. Like other brassicas it's high in vitamin C, dietary fiber and potassium. If you've tried it, let me know in the comments.

Roasted Fioretto
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 head of Fioretto broken into small pieces, about 4 cups when sliced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of kosher salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Break the vegetable into bite sized florets and toss in a bowl with olive oil, garlic and salt. Place on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until tender and brown in spots.


Enjoy!
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

14 Jun 2018 3:09pm GMT

06 Apr 2018

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Indian Spiced Rum Punch Recipe



Indian Spiced Rum Punch Recipe
Rum puts me in a happy mood and I know I'm not the only one. It conjures up tropical destinations and pairs beautifully with a variety of fruits, spices and even herbs, which brings me to this rum punch. The idea was to have a welcome cocktail that would be celebratory and special but also complement Indian food being served at an intimate anniversary get together.

Rum punch is often a Caribbean affair, which makes sense since rum is produced there. But this punch had a few Southeast Asian ingredients to boot. It was created by award-winning bartender Christopher Chamberlain who has worked with an incredible number of brands. The base of the drink was built around RumHaven, a particularly delicious coconut rum, made with coconut water. It's sweet but not cloying and has a lovely freshness.
The recipe is rather involved. Seriously. I've made full dinners that took less preparation! But in the end I have to say, it was worth all the work that went into it. I only made a couple of changes to the original recipe. I used fresh turmeric rather than the dry powder. I really love the depth of flavor in fresh turmeric and it's pretty easy for me to find. I also substituted Thai basil for regular basil. I thought since this drink had an Indian vibe that Thai basil would be a better fit. If you don't make this rum punch I would like to suggest that you consider the technique of grilling pineapple and macerating it with rum. The result was absolutely divine! Both the rum as well as the incredibly boozy pineapple.


Indian Spice Rum Punch
Makes about 10-12 servings

1 pineapple, peeled and sliced and heavily grilled, plus a few fresh slices for garnish
1 bottle RumHaven coconut rum
1/2 teaspoon corriander seeds
1 thumb sized piece of fresh turmeric, thinly sliced
6 ounces agave syrup
9 ounces cold freshly pressed lime juice
10-12 Thai basil leaves, plus additional leaves for a garnish
12-16 ounces cold ginger beer (Fever Few brand recommended)

Begin by combining the rum with the grilled pineapple and macerating overnight. I used a large plastic tub. Crush the corriander seeds and combine with the sliced turmeric and agave syrup in a small saucepan. Heath generly and cook over low heat until fragrant. Let cool then strain.

Place the basil leaves n a large bowl (not the punch bowl)and lightly press with a muddler to release the flavor and oils. Strain the rum into the bowl, reserving the pineapple to enjoy later. Stir together to incorporate flavors. Strain the mixture and measure 24 ounces into into the punch bowl. Add the lime juice, spiced agave and ginger beer and stir to combine. Add a large block of ice and garnish with fresh Thai basil and fresh pineapple.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My thanks to RumHaven for supplying both the rum and cocktail expertise. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

06 Apr 2018 11:15pm GMT

06 Feb 2018

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Top Trends from the Winter Fancy Food Show 2018

I've already shared some of my favorite finds from the Winter Fancy Food Show 2018, but another reason I attend the show is to try and identify what's trending. Here are my topic picks.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms seem to be everywhere and showing up in ways that are a bit unexpected. I first discovered crispy oyster mushroom "chips" in Taiwan, but at the show this year I saw Yuguo shiitake chips from China.They are light and crunchy and supposedly healthy. I like them a lot. There were also two kinds of mushroom jerky, one made from mushroom caps and another made from mushroom stems in "Zesty Thai" flavor, available from Pan's Mushroom Jerky. Last but not least there were somewhat medicinal elixirs, cocoa and "coffee" made from lion's mane, chaga and reishi mushrooms by Four Sigmatic. I wasn't crazy about how they tasted but they are being sold more as a health product than a gourmet one.

Coconut snacks
Coconut is nothing new, but it's being used as a component in lots of different and frankly delicious snacks. If you like coconut, you will like these. Some top picks for me were the wafer-like Sejoyia coconut thins, the clusters from Creative Snacks Co with cranberries cashews and almonds, and Cocomos toasted coconut chips with orange and sunflower seeds, which were somewhat in between a cluster and a wafer.

Vegetable Chips
Vegetable chips have been in vogue for quite some time, but I'm seeing more and more unusual options like red rice and quinoa crisps from Grounded from Lundberg Family Farms, pea puffs from Peeled cassava crunch and beet snacks from Plant Snacks, carrot and beet chips from HardBite, kumara and parsnip crisps from Proper Crisps.

Legume Snacks
Pea protein is big, and it's especially evident in snacks. I also saw crispy broad beans and puffs from peanuts. Other products I noticed included colorful "chickbean crisps" from Saffron Road, chickpea snacks from Kay's Pass the Peas, quinoa and lentil snacks from The Daily Crave but I'm sure there were even more. New guidelines now recommend introducing infants to peanuts to help ward off allergies, so snacks like puffs may prove popular with kids.

Non-dairy yogurts
Just as non-dairy milks and "cheeses" have become more popular, more non-dairy yogurts are popping up. I particularly liked the coconut yogurt from Anita's but also the Greek style almond yogurt from Kite Hill.

Aloe
Aloe has been on trend in Japan since the 1990's but it seems to be gaining in the US as well. I saw it in Alove yogurt from Japanese manufacturer Morinaga as well as in a myriad of drinks. Aloe is hydrating and can help with digestion.

Cold Vegetable Soups
This is an interesting one I didn't see coming. Anyone who has been to a supermarket in Spain has been amused by the refrigerated cartons of gazpacho. I saw several lines of cold, ready to drink soups, with unique flavors like cauliflower cashew, pumpkin cinnamon sage and beet orange basil from Zupa and carrot yellow tomato and spicy avocado from gazpacho maker Tio. Most were vegetarian but at least one, Bonafide uses a bone broth base and calls their products "drinkable veggies."

Cold Brew
If cold brew coffee is big in coffee shops, it's perhaps even bigger in retail stores where you can buy it in cans or bottles. I saw so many brands this year it was hard to keep track but they included Jittery John's, Coffee Blenders, Fog Dog, Peerless and Grady's. While I mostly saw cold brew coffee, I also saw "ice steeped" cold brew tea from Japanese maker Ito-En.

Drinking Vinegars
Drinking vinegars have been gaining momentum and this year I saw more than ever. Some are traditional apple cider vinegar based while others use balsamic or add other ingredients like ginger or fruit juices. There were two I particularly liked, Fire Cider's apple cider vinegar-based tonics made with horseradish, onions, black pepper, and garlic, organic habañero peppers, turmeric, lemons and oranges. It tasted like it could banish a cold. The other was the deliciously fruit forward one from Olitalia in blueberry, cherry and pomegranate.

Drip tea and coffee packs
Last year I was excited about a Vietnamese drip coffee as part of the DIY kit trend, from Copper Cow, this year they are introducing Thai ice tea packs. Meanwhile I saw other companies like Vietnamese grocer Lee's are also selling Vietnaemese drip coffee packets, albeit without the condensed milk.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

06 Feb 2018 10:38pm GMT

29 Jan 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

10 Highlights from the Winter Fancy Food Show 2018

This year I'm sharing several posts recapping the Winter Fancy Food Show. Kicking things off are a few of my favorite things (cue The Sound of Music). Stay tuned for posts on trends and the newest products.


Tropical Fruitstand Jackfruit jam
In my round up of all things bananas last year I mentioned a unique banana jam. This year I tried the latest jam from the same producer, made from jackfruit. You may know jackfruit as a fiberous vegan replacement for pulled pork. In this jam it has an incredible tropical flavor that tastes like a combination of mango, pineapple and banana--think Juicy Fruit gum but so much better. It's like a little tropical vacation in a spoon.

New couvertures - Valrhona inspiration passion fruit, inspiration almond and Cruz 1879 coffee thins
I'm lumping these three things together because they fit in the category of couverture, that's chocolate speak for a product that has a very high percentage of cocoa butter. Coffee thins are made with a unique coffee product and cocoa butter, no cocoa solids at all. It's has the texture of chocolate, but it's coffee. It's available in three different varieites, latte, espresso and cruz special blend and makes use of a proprietary technology that transforms coffee into something smooth and creamy. Valrhona is introducing two new couvertures, one with passion fruit and one with almond, neither of them contain cocoa solids either. They won't be available in a retail product but expect your favorite chocolatiers to start using this divine stuff in their confections.

Flavored maple syrups
I talked to a retailer who told me that this past holiday season his company saw an incredible increase in sales of maple syrup. Having tasted some of the more recent flavored maple syrups I can't say I'm surprised. My favorites come from a company called Runamok. They infuse maple syrups with flavors such as makrut lime leaf, cardamom, ginger as well as bourbon and rum barrel aged maple syrup and my favorite, pecan wood smoked maple syrup.

Humphry Slocombe Black Sesame ice cream
You may have had black sesame ice cream before but the black sesame ice cream from Humphry Slocombe is a game changer. It's made from their base with ground black sesame seeds but the secret is an addition of toasted sesame oil which is fragrant and lusicous.

Wadaman organic white sesame oil
While we're on the topic of sesame oil, I have to say, this one is the best I've ever tried. It's has a lusicous buttery flavor and an almost floral aroma. It's so good, and much more delicate than the typical toasted sesame oil which can be overly intense and almost bitter. It's available in Asian speciality stores and online from Japanese Pantry.

Sauerfrau squeezable sauerkraut
I was already a fan of sauerkraut, but not only is this sauerkraut delicious and comes in 3 varieties, classic, sweet Bavarian and craft beer mustard. It's ridiculously convenient because it comes in a squeeze bottle. It's tangy, but not too juicy, still raw and filled with probiotics, but it will keep in the fridge for ages. Good stuff and coming soon to stores.

BakWa eggplant bacon
I wrote about Bakwa a few years ago. Of course pork jerky is delicious but now Little Red Dot Kitchen has applied their magic touch to eggplant to make something they call jerky. I just call it good. I'd love to layer it on a baguette and make sandwich with it.


Axel Provisions pickled onions
Axel Provisions launched with three versions of their chimichurri sauce. It's very good. But what I really liked was their pickled onions. The founder ate these onions in Argentina and decided to make them himself. You could make them too, but his are really, really good. They come in two versions, one is red and spicy with habanero and the other sweet with jalapeno. Both are irresistable.


Heirloom grain pasta
This year I saw more pastas made with different grains, including heirloom varieties of wheat. I sample pasta from two different companies, Monograno Felicetti from Italy and Sfoglini from Brooklyn, Monograno uses several different types of wheat, I tried the pasta made from a variety of durum wheat called matt. Sfoglini uses a variety of different grains but in blends that keep the pasta al dente, something that can be tricky when experimenting beyond wheat.

Vitali Prosciutto di Modena
Which is the best prosciutto? Generally speaking, he one in front of you. But in tasting San Daniele, Parma and Modena, I have to admit, Modena won me over. The texture and flavor of prosciutto is dependent upon not just origin, but also which part of the prosciutto it comes from. It's formed in a pear shape, then often trimmed and formed into a block for easier slicing. One end is saltier than the other. The prosciutto I had from Modena was from the center and it was rosy, meltingly tender and delicate. It was the perfectly mild balance of sweet and salty. Prosciutto from Modena may be new to us, but it has been made in Modena since the 16th century. The meat is massaged with salt twice, and allowed to rest for 70 days. Once dried it's massaged with a mxiture of lard, salt, spices and flour. The entire process takes 14 months. It's recently gained entry to the US and like San Daniele and Parma prociutto it is a DOP (protected denomination of origin) product, look for it at a deli or gourmet shop.

©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

29 Jan 2018 8:29pm GMT

15 Jan 2018

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Ramen Heads - Movie Review

Ramen Heads is a documentary about ramen in Japan. As the name implies, it's about the obsession of both ramen makers and ramen eaters and dives deep into more bowls in more styles than you can possibly imagine. The film focuses on Japan's number-one ramen master Osamu Tomita, who has won the highest ramen honors 4 years in a row. Unlike other ramen masters, Tomita is happy to expose every part of his process. He reveals the highest-quality ingredients and his constantly evolving approach to cooking the perfect bowl with equal attention to both noodles and broth. Surrounded by apprentices there is still much he insists on doing himself. His shop is so popular he sells tickets ahead of time to decrease the long wait for seats.

Tomita proclaims, "if you're not a ramen head yourself, you can't possibly satisfy other ramen heads." and so perhaps not surprisingly, he spends his one day off a week eating ramen on his own and with his familly; next to his bed are ramen magazines and recipes. He's singularly focused on ramen, not just for his customers but for himself and for his appreciation of ramen in Japanese culture. It is and has been his calling since he had a bowl of ramen that changed his life. After that he became an apprentice to a top ramen master before opening his own shop. Ramen it seems, is so much more than just noodles and broth, it's truly a way of life.

As you probably already know, ramen is a big deal in Japan. There are magazines, guidebooks and websites devoted to it. As the films narrator explains, ramen is "cheap, immediate and deeply satisfying", and in Japan, unlike many other iconic dishes, it allows for great creativity.The film introduces viewers to some of the other top ramen masters in Japan and their individual styles of ramen, briefly explores a ramen festival and offers a quick timeline of the rise of ramen in Japan. All along the way the cinematography will make your mouth water. The soaring and majestic music can seem cheesy at times, but it is the cinematography that cements this film as the ultimate ramen food porn and I warn you, if you decide to see this movie you better make plans to eat ramen afterwards because you will seriously crave it. Check out the trailer below and you'll see for yourself.

Ramen Heads plays at the Roxie as part of the SF Indie Film Festival on February 10th and 13th, 2018 in San Francisco. Learn more or buy tickets.
©2019 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

15 Jan 2018 3:49pm GMT