22 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

How to Do a New England Clambake at Home

When I was growing up in New Jersey, my dad enlisted us kids to dig up clams down at the shore. It was usually a multi-family affair. The grownups built a fire on the beach and filled a new aluminum garbage can with seawater. They set the can over the fire, and once the water was at a boil, the clams went in.

Continue reading "How to Do a New England Clambake at Home" »

22 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

21 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

Lemon Icebox Pie

Pie IS nostalgia. And this particular Lemon Icebox Pie represents my own personal stroll down memory lane, complete with sighs and happy feelings.

There's just something about a creamy, dense lemon filling topped with sour cream, settled on top of a graham cracker crust. It's one of those old-fashioned desserts that takes you back in time. It makes your cheeks pucker and your eyes roll with pleasure.

Continue reading "Lemon Icebox Pie" »

21 Jul 2018 2:05pm GMT

Graham Cracker Crust

Do you love pie, but stress about the crust? Welcome to a very large club.

Never fear. Homemade pies aren't just for those people who were born with the domestic gene. After making this graham cracker crust, you will be able to start your very own new club called "Look, Ma, I Made a Pie!"

Continue reading "Graham Cracker Crust" »

21 Jul 2018 2:02pm GMT

Meal Plan for July Week 4

This month, Summer Miller is back, sharing her meal plans for July. Summer is a mom, a full-time food writer, and also helps test the fabulous recipes we bring you every week at Simply Recipes.

Midway through July, my kitchen counters usually succumb to their seasonal role as garden vegetable display tables. Every available surface is covered with cucumbers, beans, onions, carrots, Kohlrabi, and tomatoes - among others.

The cantaloupes come in faster than we can eat them, the watermelon vines have taken over half of the yard, and I spend hours every evening washing, preparing, and preserving what I can then giving away the rest.

Continue reading "Meal Plan for July Week 4" »

21 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

19 Jul 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

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.
©2018 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

feedSimply Recipes

BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Tacos

Tacos are my "single girl" food. You know, the food that you make whenever your partner, kids, or roommates are out of town and you get to sit down and be really honest about what you and only you feel like eating? I never tire of them and am always looking for ways to amp up my taco game.

Continue reading "BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Tacos" »

18 Jul 2018 2:01pm GMT

What is Jackfruit and How Can You Use It?

Jackfruit is turning up in more grocery aisles and restaurant menus these days. Although I am occasionally skeptical of new food trends, this nutritious, tasty fruit looks like it's here to stay in my pantry thanks to its versatility and affordable price.

Continue reading "What is Jackfruit and How Can You Use It?" »

18 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

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).
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

18 Jul 2018 1:08am GMT

17 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

10 Ways Use a Pint of Berries This Summer

Blueberries! Strawberries! Raspberries! Just give me ALL the berries!

The love for sweet, ripe, juicy berries and other fruits has always been strong in my family - my mom often says that the one thing she could be sure my brother and I would eat when we were kids was the fruit salad.

For me, the farmers' market this time of year is like walking into a candy store. So many choices. So little time.

Continue reading "10 Ways Use a Pint of Berries This Summer" »

17 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

16 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

Skillet Chicken with Cheesy Orzo and Zucchini

There is a true beauty to one-skillet dinners, and it's not just the fact that there is only one pan to wash.

It's just very satisfying to place a skillet right in the middle of the table and scoop out essentially your whole meal. It's family style dining at its best. (Just be careful of the hot pan!)

Continue reading "Skillet Chicken with Cheesy Orzo and Zucchini" »

16 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

15 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

Greek Pasta Salad

Packed with fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers-not to mention Kalamata olives and feta cheese-this pasta salad has all the flavor of your favorite Greek salad! The lemony garlicky dressing is also flavorful enough to stand up to olives and feta, but it doesn't overpower the more delicately flavored ingredients such as cucumber and tomato.

Continue reading "Greek Pasta Salad" »

15 Jul 2018 2:30pm GMT

14 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

Zucchini Tomato Quiche

One thing we gardeners can count on in the peak of summer is a surplus of zucchini and tomatoes, right? That basil plant in the corner of the garden bed is pretty happy too.

If you are looking for ideas of what to make with the most summery of summer produce, check out this zucchini tomato quiche!

It's simple enough as quiches go-shallots, shredded zucchini, an assortment of colorful cherry tomatoes, basil, and herbs with a custard base of eggs, milk, cream, sour cream, and Parmesan.

Tomatoes, basil, and zucchini play well together as a matter of principle, and they work beautifully in this quiche. Every bite is a taste of summer.

Continue reading "Zucchini Tomato Quiche" »

14 Jul 2018 2:30pm GMT

How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust

Many sweet and savory pie recipes require pre-baking or "blind baking" a crust. No one really knows where the term got its name, but "blind" baking a crust means baking it without a filling.

Continue reading "How to Blind Bake a Pie Crust" »

14 Jul 2018 2:24pm GMT

Meal Plan for July Week 3

This month, Summer Miller is back, sharing her meal plans for July. Summer is a mom, a full-time food writer, and also helps test the fabulous recipes we bring you every week at Simply Recipes.

Summer has arrived launching cannonballs of heat and humidity. The air is thick and heavy like wet blankets. I can feel the weight of it on my skin and in my lungs.

I wade through the sticky and heat-stricken Midwestern masses by day, awaiting the cooler evenings that seem endless this time of year.

The fireflies are out in droves looking for love in the twilight skies and between blades of grass peppered with white clover. Every evening is an opportunity for dinner and a show. Meals by the window or on the porch suit me just fine in July even in the thick summer air.

Continue reading "Meal Plan for July Week 3" »

14 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

13 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

What’s in Season in July?

Hello Summer, hello July, and welcome to month 7 of our Monthly Produce Guides!

This is the season we wait all year for, the time of plenty. Our gardens, local famers markets, and supermarket produce sections are filled with glorious choices.

If July isn't National Zucchini Month, it should be, right? If you garden, you might be regretting that decision to plant more than a couple zucchini plants, as each one produces enough zucchini to feed a family of four. No worries! We have you covered with dozens of recipes for zucchini and summer squash.

Continue reading "What's in Season in July?" »

13 Jul 2018 12:25am GMT

11 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

Taco-Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Zucchini season is starting to take off, which means we are going to need lots of creative uses for this vegetable.

Whether you grow it yourself, know someone who grows it, or just buy it at the market, when it's zucchini season, it's abundant!

Continue reading "Taco-Stuffed Zucchini Boats" »

11 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

10 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

Try This! 4 Great Add-Ins for Hummus

When you are pondering an appetizer for a party, you can never go wrong with hummus. It's popular with kids and adults, it's easy to make in quantities large or small, and it's highly adaptable.

Earthy, savory, creamy, protein-packed: hummus is a great base for all kinds of add-ins.

Sure there are a bunch of pre-made flavor variations available at the store, but it's so easy to make your own "house" version. Then you not only have a crowd-pleasing party appetizer (or snack), you also have bragging rights!

Continue reading "Try This! 4 Great Add-Ins for Hummus" »

10 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

09 Jul 2018

feedSimply Recipes

Lentil Salad with Summer Vegetables

As the weather warms, I spend a lot of time outside. My garden is flanked by the trailing tendrils of cantaloupe and watermelon on one side, and a uniform row of ten rhubarb plants on the other. The raised beds in between burst with any number of vegetables, including tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, and 200 sets of onions.

After weeks of tending, harvesting, and then cleaning the fruits of my labor, I'm ready to prepare them in the simplest of ways. I don't want to worry about food; I want to enjoy a meal with the people I'm feeding.

Besides, more often than not, fresh produce needs little more than a vinaigrette and a good toss to turn it into something for the table.

Continue reading "Lentil Salad with Summer Vegetables" »

09 Jul 2018 2:00pm GMT

14 Jun 2018

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Roasted Fioretto Recipe

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!
©2018 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

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

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.
©2018 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

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

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.
©2018 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.

©2018 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

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

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.
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

15 Jan 2018 3:49pm GMT

29 Dec 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Miyagi Oyster Mushroom Bisque Recipe

A few weeks ago I received a dozen and a half miyagi oysters from Real Good Fish as part of my my seafood subscription. Because miyagi oysters are delicate and small, I generally just serve them on the half shell, but this time I decided to make bisque. Bisque is a creamy soup traditionally made from seafood and in particular broth from seafood shells.

Searching around online I found a recipe for oyster bisque from Chef Greg Atkinson in Seattle that called for cooking the oysters in the shells. While I have gotten better at shucking oysters with practice, this appealed to me greatly! It's a stunning recipe but I only had half the amount of oysters required so I could only make a half batch. The second time around I was inspired to make a bisque with both oysters and oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms look a bit like oysters in color and shape. They have a very mild earthy flavor that reminds me of oysters as well.

My recipe uses less heavy cream than the original and I puree the mushrooms as well as the bits of onion along with the oysters. The resulting soup is rich and complex and the luxurious topping of whipped cream really takes it over the top. This is a soup worthy of a special occasion. Maybe New Year's Eve? Next time you find yourself wiht some oysters, I hope you'll give it a try.

Miyagi Oyster Mushroom Bisque
Adapted from a recipe by Greg Atkinson
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 1/2 dozen live miyagi oysters
2 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup minced white onion
1/2 pound chopped oyster mushrooms
Pinch freshly ground pepper
Pinch grated nutmeg, or to taste
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped herbs such as parsley, chives or tarragon

Instructions

Scrub the oysters to clean off any mud or shell chips. Bring 2 cups of water to a full rolling boil in a 1-gallon Dutch oven or pot over high heat. Put the oysters in the pot, cover, reduce the heat to medium and let them steam until they open or become very easy to pry open with an oyster knife, about 8 minutes.

Remove the steamed oysters from their shells and put them and their liquor in a blender. Strain the liquid in which the oysters were steamed into the blender as well.

Rinse or wipe the Dutch oven and add the butter, heat over medium-high heat and add the onions, Cook for about 2 minutes or until softened then add the mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms release their liquid and begin to dry then add the sherry. pepper and nutmeg and cook until the sherry has evaporated and the mixtures sizzles in the pan. Add 1/4 cup cream and bring this mixture to a boil.

Transfer the mushroom mixture into the blender with the oysters and blend to make a very smooth purée. Return the mixture to the pot, add the milk and heat through.

Whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream. Garnish each serving of soup with a dollop of whipped cream and chopped herbs.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I received the oysters from Real Good Fish I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

29 Dec 2017 5:58pm GMT

22 Dec 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Cooking from the Books in 2017

Because I've been cooking all my life and it comes easily to me, I can generally take a look at a recipe and anticipate with some degree of accuracy, how it will turn out. But that's not the same as actually cooking a dish from a cookbook. On this list I am covering only the cookbooks that got a "trial run." For each of these cookbooks I cooked at least one recipe, sticking as close to the recipe as I could. I'm hoping my results along with my comments will help you to decide which of these books are for you.


So far I've just made one recipe from Dinner Changing the Game by Melissa Clark and I really liked it. It was the Tofu Spaetzle with Gruyere Gratin. It's more of a main dish than a side since the spaetzle is actually shredded extra firm tofu, baked with gruyere and caramelized onions and topped with bread crumbs. My problem with the book is that in addition to really inspiring creative recipes like Fusili and Roasted Cauliflower with Capers, Kimchi Pork Chops with Kale and Blood Orange Chicken with Scotch Whiskey and Olives, there are other recipes that frankly seem like filler. There's nothing wrong with recipes for Black Bean and Roasted Poblano Pepper Quesadillas, Smoky Fish and Potato Chowder or Mexican Tortilla Soup but none of them are anything new. They are the kind of dishes I can certainly make without a recipe. I love how many recipes use ingredients like tofu and farro, and the idea of "changing up" dinner from meat and 2 sides into something more free form.
Yemek is written by three women who I believe are German, but live in Turkey. They share the recipes for things you will commonly find in Istanbul. I was extremely excited to make cezerye, a candy that is similar to Turkish delight or "aplets and cotlets" if you ar familar with those. They are made from carrots and sugar and studded with nuts then rolled in coconut. The recipe was easy to follow and the results pleasing. The book is "kebab free" but features the kind of things you typically find in Istanbul including breads, salads, sweets, vegetable dishes, stews and dumplings. The book has a lovely design and features little insets with Istanbul locals and informative pages on ingredients and small gifts to buy for foodies. It's a great introduction to Turkish cuisine and if you've been to Istanbul you'll rejoice in having a source for things like manti dumplings, pide flatbread and gozleme spinach and feta stuffed bread and mercimek koftesi lemony lentil dumplings.

Instanbul & Beyond is a landmark book but almost the opposite of Yemek. Despite Istanbul being in the title, it features in large part the things you don't find in Istanbul. There are all kinds of unusual dishes and interesting techniques to learn. I made the meatballs with spice butter and will be making them again! The book also offers information about ingredients and often very detailed head notes with each recipe.You'll find many recipes from regions like the Black Sea and the Hatay Province. There are lots of vegetarian recipe, seafood recipes as well as recipes with lamb I plan to try. See my interview with author Robyn Eckhardt.

Burma Superstar the restaurant has an almost cult following and now so does the cookbook. If you love Burmese food you need this book! Many of the recipes require ingredients that will take a little sleuthing to find, but not all of them. I made the Egg and Okra Curry. It's filled with onions and garlic and mild spices and very comforting. The recipes are very solid and clearly written.The book includes reicpes for curries, vegetables, stir fries, noodles, soups, salads, drinks, snacks, rice and snacks.

The Farm Cooking School is a book from two food magazine veterans and it offers a compelling combination of the basics like how to bone a chicken, how to make puff pastry and croissant dough, and veal stock but then surprising recipes like an Elvis Pavlova, Roasted Whole Carrot Tart Tatin and the recipe I made, the roasted Delicata and Celery Salad. I'd say this is a particularly good book for "advanced beginners" in other words, people who already know how to cook, but want to take their skills to the next level.

Autentico is written by Rolando Beremendi who is an importer of fine Italian food. His enthusiasm for quality ingredients makes him the perfect author of a book that is the very definition of "ingredient driven." I made his recipe for Farro Soup which consists of just farro, water, olive oil, Italian fish sauce and oregano. The book is filled with Italian soul food, simple recipes but the essence of why we love the cuisine. It's always about using the best ingredients even if it's just simple day old bread. As an Italian food fanatic, I basically want to make everything in this book! The recipes are from different regions but most have very short ingredient lists and easy techniques, nothing fussy. Now that Winter is here I plan to make the Sausages with Lentils and Tuscan Kale, Fennel Braised in Chianti, Sweet and Sour Onions and Risotto with Radicchio.

The memoir with recipes category seems to be holding steady, and books like Unforgettable show why the category is so popular. This book spans a lifetime so there are recipes from many countries and using different techniques. You will absolutely find things in the book that you have not seen before. I made the Egg and Mint Salad repeatedly! If you're already a fan of Paula Wolfert or never heard of her, I feel certain you will find this book as endearing as it is unforgettable. Most of the dishes are French, Mediterranean or Moroccan. If you've been intimidated by Wolfert's recipes in the past, this book is particularly good as there are plenty of very, very easy unfussy recipes and basic techniques that can be used again and again such as her oven steamed salmon, decontructed hummus and the book also has many classics in one place, from hand-rolling couscous to making preserved lemons.


I became a fan of chef Jeremey Fox when I dined at the groundbreadking Ubuntu in Napa. Since then he has moved on to Los Angles but is still known for his incredible approaches to vegetables. On Vegetables is a book to inspire you! His recipes are incredibly original such as Parnsip Cream, Meringue and Citrus or Rhubarb, Ricotta and Radish Toast. His flavor combinations like goat cheese and horseradish are fresh and exciting. I made the Miso Bagna Cauda. It's delicious but I felt the recipe needed a little tweaking to get the consistency right. His vegetable based bacon, stocks, powders, crumbles and "soils" are all wonderful building blocks for imaginative new dishes.

Disclaimer: I received all but one of these books as a review copy. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

22 Dec 2017 8:33pm GMT

19 Dec 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Bay Area Chocolate Gifts

The Bay Area is a wonderful place for chocolate. We have bean to bar manufacturers as well as talented confectioners and pastry chefs all crafting wonderful treats. Today is the deadline for 2 day delivery, so if you're looking for gifts to arrive in time for Christmas, here are some of my top picks:
Recchiuti is famous for their burnt caramel truffle, fleur de sel caramels and their wonderful s'mores kit. This year I got a chance to try their Dark Hot Chocolate. Please note, this is not cocoa, it's real chocolate pistoles, made with a custom South American blend. What are pistoles? It's the French name for a Spanish coin; the chocolate coins melt into a rich, yet mellow and smooth drink when dissolved with water or milk (or a combination). Or you can add some to your coffee, as my mother-in-law likes to do. It's won raves from many publications and is a great winter time treat for kids or adults, just under $20.
One of my favorite local confectioners is Charles Chocolate. I'm crazy about their triple chocolate coated almonds and their sweet salty cashew bar, this year I tried two more recent additions to line of chocolate bars, the Toffee Coffee dark milk chocolate bar and the Caramelized Crisped Rice bittersweet chocolate bar. The Toffee Coffee bar has chunks of almond toffee and coffee beans in it, the toffee flavor really comes through deliciously. The Crisped Rice bar has caramelized crisped brown rice that might remind you of a Nestle Cunch bar but it's much darker and with just a light crunch.The bars are available in mini versions for about $3 each.

Kika's Treats makes all kinds of things, including outstanding Salted Crunch Caramels and Salted Nutty Caramels. They also make a line of chocolate covered cookies including different flavors of shortbread and graham crackers. The Caramelized Graham Crackers coated in chocolate are a favorite of mine and you can get them coated in dark chocolate, milk chocolate or 70% Dandelion chocolate. You've never had graham crackers like these before, they are thick, crisp and crunchy, and positively irresistible. Each box is $8-10.
Earlier this year I got a chance to try the chocolate panettone From Roy studded with Guittard chocolate. I had never had a panettone as luxuriously airy yet moist, rich and delicious. From Roy recently received an investment in cash and is expanding, offering panettone year round and in a variety of different flavors. It's made with an Italian starter made from wild yeast and takes 40 hours to make! Last week I ordered one for a friend, but I'm sorry to say they are now sold out. The cakes are $50, but lofty and worth every penny.

Another choice for chocolate lovers would be a book on chocolate, and this year there are two I strongly recommend, neither are cookbooks per se, but both include some recipes.

Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America's Craft Chocolate Revolution this compact volume starts by explaining just what bean to bar means and how chocolate is made. It has a lot of Bay Area connections including pages devoted to Scharffen Berger and Guittard, both "chocolate pioneers" and a profile of Dandelion Chocolate.

Along the way there are wonderful features on pairing chocolate with cheese, tea, spirits and more plus recipes including a few from locals Michael Recchiuti and Alice Medrich.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves chocolate and wants to know more about the American chocolate makers, and is looking for new ways to enjoy chocolate.

Making Chocolate from Bean to Bar to S'more, written by Todd Masonis, founder and CEO of Dandelion Chocolate. It's a gorgeous coffee table volume that covers everything form how to temper chocolate, how to source cacao and even the equipment used to process chocolate.

The recipes come from Dandelion's in-house pastry chef, Lisa Vega. Vega gives away the secrets to recipes for cookies, brownies, cakes, drinks and more.

This book is for chocolate aficionados, especially those who want to try their hand at making it or just want to learn more about it. It's also good for those who want to use different percentage chocolate in recipes. The recipes don't call out specific brands.











Disclaimer: I purchased each of the items featured in this post, with the exception of the hot chocolate. The books were review copies and this post includes affiliate links. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

19 Dec 2017 11:43pm GMT

11 Dec 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Fig & Almond Crisps Recipe

If you've been to a party recently, there's a good chance you've come across raincoast crisps®. They are highly addictive crackers filled with nuts, seeds and dried fruit, created by Lesley Stowe, a Parisian-trained chef based in Vancouver. They come in all kinds of flavors such as apricot and ginger, and fig and olive and have a sweet and savory flavor so they pair exceedingly well with cheese. A slim little sleeve of them is about $7 so I was thrilled to see a recipe for a copycat recipe from Dinner with Julie blogger and genius cookbook author and food writer, Julie Van Rosendaal. I was lucky enough to meet Julie a couple of years ago and in person she's just as funny and charming as she comes across on the blog. She's also has mad skills as a recipe developer.

Julie's recipe is for Rosemary Raisin Pecan Crisps, but I happened to have plenty of figs and almonds so I went with those and added a healthy dose of cinnamon rather than rosemary. The recipe is really easy, it just requires a lot of ingredients. It's basically like a biscotti recipe, you make a batter, bake a loaf, then slice it and bake the slices again. It does requires the ability to slice the loaf very thinly. Julie recommends freezing the loaf but I'm not nearly patient enough. I make my slices a bit thicker than she does and reduced the recipe by half, so I get just about 3 dozen crackers per batch. Obviously if you want to make more, you can simple double it.

These crisps were a bit hit at Thanksgiving this year. They are great for any cheese or charcuterie plate or just for snacking, and a package of them would make a nice hostess gift. They are also incredibly easy to adapt. You can pretty much make them with any combination of dried fruit and nuts you like, just adjust the herb or spice to complement your choice (or leave out the spice entirely if you prefer). For my next batch I'm considering apricots, pistachios and cardamom or cherry, walnut and nutmeg.

Fig & Almond Crisps
adapted from a recipe by Julie Van Rosendaal of Dinner with Julie
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons flax seed, ground
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. and grease an 8x4-inch loaf pan.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir, then fold in the figs, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax and cinnamon and stir just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until golden and springy to the touch, about 35 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack (the bread needs to be very cool in order to slice thinly).

Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Slice the loaves thinly and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake until crisp and brown, about 10 minutes. Let the crisps cool on a rack. If they aren't crunchy enough, return them to the oven set to 200 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Makes about 3 dozen crisps.

Enjoy!
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

11 Dec 2017 3:31pm GMT

27 Nov 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Greek to Me & MyHeritage Special Offer

Do I look Greek to you? I don't think I do but my dad and my uncle both have olive skin and brown eyes, as did their mother who was sometimes misidentified as Italian. Recently I got a chance to try out one of those DNA tests and it estimated my ethnicity at 89.1% Ashkenazi Jewish, 2.2 Balkan and 8.7 Greek. The Ashkenazi and Balkan are not surprising but the Greek is. Of course, Greece isn't all that far away from Romania and I know that some of my ancestors did come from Romania.

If you would like to either take one of these DNA tests or give one as a gift, MyHeritage is offering the kit for half off the normal price, just $49 today only and you can get free shipping by going to https://www.myheritage.com/dna and using the code MHCOOKINGWITHAMY

Whether or not I'm Greek is up for debate since DNA tests cannot definitely determine your ethnicity, but they are fun. Also have I mentioned I love Greek food? Unfortunately many Greek restaurants in the US have rather limited menus. My two favorite Greek restaurants that go way beyond the most typical dishes are Kokkari in San Francisco Molyvos in NYC. And for rotisserie pita sandwiches or salads I frequent Souvla in San Francisco (don't miss their frozen Greek yogurt with baklava crumbles or Greek sour cherry syrup).


If you want to cook Greek food, I'd like to point you in the direction of two fantastic Greek food writers, Diane Kochilas and Aglaia Kremezi. They both have wonderful recipes on their websites. What I love about these two writers is that they really delve beyond the dishes everyone already knows and are part of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Kochilas wrote Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die and Kremezi is author of Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts. I was fortunate enough to meet them at a culinary conference a few years ago. On my wish list? Taking Greek cooking classes from them in Greece, Kremezi teaches at Kea Artisanal and Kochilas teaches on Ikaria.

Disclaimer: I received the MyHeritage kit free of charge I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. This post does include affiliate links.
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

27 Nov 2017 9:02pm GMT

20 Nov 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Giovanni Italian Specialties by Tony Gemignani

I have a soft spot for all things Italian. I love the language, culture and especially the food. When I first moved to San Francisco (after living in Italy) I lived on Telegraph Hill and I did a lof of my shopping in North Beach, which has traditionally been San Francisco's Italian neighborhood, dating back to the early 1900's. I loved being able to speak Italian in the delis and buy fresh pasta and focaccia and a bit of Pecorino Toscano-just as I had in Florence. But North Beach is changing and Italian delis in particular have been in a decline all over the city.
So I'm really pleased to see that a new Italian shop has opened up in North Beach. It's Giovanni Italian Specialties by pizza impressario Tony Gemignani and is named for his 3 year old son. The shop is jam packed with high quality ingredients and prepared food. They are making extruded pasta on site and offer fresh pesto and jars of imported ingredients. Because it's across the street from Washington Square Park it's a perfect spot to pick up a piadina, slice of focaccia or pressed focaccia sandwich to go. The focaccia by the way is from Liguria Bakery just across the park.
The shop carries a lot of products from Ritrovo, an importer from Seattle including oils, vinegars and tapenade and also offers some housewares and gift items including some cookbooks, linens Tony has brought back from Venice and small local ceramic pieces. While compact, the details to the shop like the collection of old transistor radios and fruit crate labels are very endearing and give it a personality all its own. The shop is run by general manager Lydia Faiella an artist who produces beautiful watercolors on wood cards-you'll find them on display at the counter. Stop by next time you're in the neighborhood.

Giovanni Italian Specialties
629 Union Street @ Columbus
San Francisco
415-576-8806
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

20 Nov 2017 10:01pm GMT

18 Nov 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Istanbul & Beyond Author Robyn Eckhardt

Istanbul & Beyond has been named as one of the top cookbooks of Fall 2017 by Epicurious, Publisher's Weekly and Tasting Table. But the reason I'm so excited about it is that I've had wonderful food on my two trips to Turkey. There is so much beyond just the typical kebabs you find in Turkish restaurants in the US. Recently I spoke with author Robyn Eckhardt about the book.

How many years did the cookbook take to write and how many trips did you make to Turkey?
We started research in 2011 and turned in the manuscript 5 years later. Probably about 13 or 14 trips, our first trip was in 1998. We were living in China and moved back to the Bay Area and I began studying Turkish and then we started going almost every year for 2-3 weeks. At this point I can talk to anyone in Turkish about anything food relatied.

After all that research, how did you decided what should go in the book?
I focused on things that were not in other books, I wanted to highlight things that were not paid attention to. It's about home food what people eat everyday.

Like many tourists, I've been to Istanbul, Ankara, Capadocia and the Mediterranean coast. What are the regions that you recommend visiting for foodies?
Unfortunately some of the regions are not safe to travel to right now. But the Black Sea coast is one of my favorites. The climate is a bit like the Pacific Northwest, you can expect rain but you're there for the food. September to May is the fishing season. The anchovies get an extra layer of fat, they call them the prince of fishes. Don't go in the Summer, there are no fish and it's packed with tourisits.

What were the most surprising recipes you came across in your research?
Cornbread, whole dried corn kernals, collard greens. It was a trip to the Black Sea that inspired the book. We'd spent 4-5 months and were discovering dishes we never thought were Turkish like cabbage rolls-I assoicate those with the Balkans and Russia. I didn't really think of things like baba ghanouj and hummus made from a dried fava bean puree were Turkish. All of the ways they make meatballs. I'm used to grilled kofte from Istanbul but in the East they are made with pumpkin and spiced butter. I would never have imagined also curry. I never associated curry powder with food in Turkey.

What misperceptions do people have about Turkish food?
So many! That all Turks eat a lot of meat. That everyone eats lamb which they don't in the Northeast. Meat is eaten in cities but in rural regions animals are raised for dairy and meat for income. So more dairy is consumed, chickens. Also syrup sweets, dried fruit, grape molasses. One more thing is that mezze are part of the Turkish diet. Mezze is food to go with drinking and In Eastern Turkey there is not much mezze culture.

What are the 2-3 recipes you most hope readers will try?
I hope they will try the meatballs with pumpkin and spice butter because it is delicious and surprising. It uses purple basil but I have a substitution if people can't find it. The technique for chopping in seasonings to the meatballs can be applied to other recipes too, it makes them lighter. I hope they will try one of the cheeses, they aren't hard at all. The Hatay chile cheese is really simple and mind-blowing and it's versatile and can be eaten with flatbread. And I hope that people will try the okra dishes-either okra soup with a tiny bit of meat and another from the Southeastern with meat and pepper paste. It has converted okra haters! And you can easily find okra frozen if not fresh. (You can find the recipe for the meatballs in this recent article in the Wall Street Journal)

Where do you recommend for Turkish food in the Bay Area?
Istanbul Modern is a pop-up in SF run by a husband and wife team, he's Turkish and she's Mexican. They both worked at top restaurants including Eleven Madison Park and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. They are doing different and interesting things. Note: There are still seats available for the Istanbul & Beyond cookbook event they are hosting on Sunday November 19, 2017 in San Francisco.

Disclaimer: I received at review copy of the cookbook Istanbul and Beyond, I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. This post does include an affiliate link.
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

18 Nov 2017 6:53pm GMT

01 Nov 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Pairing Merlot & Steak #MerlotMe 2017

I love pairing food and wine. While a wonderful food and wine match can bring out the best in both the food and the wine, I also believe you should drink what you like and not let classic pairings get in the way of a good thing. Last year I took part in #MerlotMe and this year I was drawn to same bottle as before, a J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot, this time the 2015. But I went in a totally different direction with it.

The 2105 vintage has 9% Malbec in the blend and that's what made me think, why not pair it with steak? Of course I know Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic wine pairing for steak but I actually prefer steak with Malbec. In general I also prefer Merlot to Cabernet. The J.Lohr 2015 Los Osos Merlot has big berry and cherry aromas as well as a ton of mocha. It's fresh, fruity and youthful and I was surprised to learn it has 13.9% alcohol because it certainly didn't seem like it did (but for all I know it might even be higher). I served it with slices of a fantastic New York dry aged strip steak.

I'm not going to go into all the technical specs, but I will say that in reading the notes on the wine I saw that "splash decanting" was recommended. That was a new one on me. Apparently it just means a more vigorous decanting as opposed to the gentle kind of where you run the wine down the side of the decanter as opposed to dumping it in all at once. It's not about removing sediment but just giving the wine some more breathing room. Personally I found that opening the bottle about 30 minutes before drinking it and giving it a good swirl in the glass was just fine.

Happy #MerlotMe and Halloween!

Disclaimer: I received sample bottles of Merlot as part of #MerlotMe. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.

©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

01 Nov 2017 2:37am GMT

26 Oct 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

G.H.Cretors Giveaway!

I've learned a few things about myself lately. I took one of those genealogy tests and got the results. Do I look Greek to you? More on that later. I also discovered that despite my age, I may have a thing or two in common with millennials. According to the results of a survey sponsored by G.H.Cretors, 65% say "I've eaten popcorn I picked off my clothes" and 64% admit licking their fingers after they are done snacking on popcorn. I fit right in with those millennials!

As long as I'm in a confessing mood, I'll tell you the photo above represents the sad remains of a deluxe shipment I received including quite a several organic flavors of popcorn from the aforementioned G.H.Cretors. While I pretty much like all their popcorn I will admit that nothing so far has topped my favorite flavor, The Mix, which is a combination of caramel and aged cheddar cheese popcorn, an addictively delicious salty sweet snack. If you've flown through Chicago O'Hare airport you may find this flavor reminds you of the popcorn you'll find there.

GIVEAWAY

Currently G.H.Cretors is hosting a quiz anyone can take to determine their ultimate TV and snack pairing. Feel free to check it out and leave a comment with your pairing OR choose your own ultimate pairing of snack and TV show. I will choose one winner at random who will receive several different flavors of popcorn plus a deluxe canvas zippered tote bag and a snazzy S'Well bottle that keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours or hot drinks hot for 12 hours. You must have a US mailing address to win. The comment form includes a field for your email address, so no need to include it in your comment. One entry per person please. Winner to be chosen at random on November 1, 2017.

Good Luck!

Disclaimer: My thanks to G.H.Cretors for sponsoring this giveaway. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2018 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

26 Oct 2017 10:57pm GMT