Monthly Archives: November 2009

No-Fret Thanksgiving Tips

Are you taking on the Turkey yourself and need a few more tips to help you get through the weekend?

  1. Take a deep breath, start cooking on Wednesday and find some helpers! Remember, you can reduce an enormous amount of stress by starting things early. Almost everything can be made or prepped the day before.
  2. Set your timer & find your thermometer! You should calculate on cooking your turkey according to its weight. Allow 20 minutes per pound for 8-12 pound birds, 15 minutes per pound for 12-16 pounders. Let your turkey “sit” and rest for 10-15 minutes before carving it once it hits an internal temp of 155 degrees. Perfect internal temperature should be at 160-165 degrees. Then, your ready to eat. Get to 180 degrees and you’re overcooked!
  3. Smaller birds cook better: “They” say you should calculate 1.5 lbs of turkey per guest. That means 6-guests=9lb turkey. Since smaller birds tend to cook better, go with 2 smaller birds (12-lb max) as your guest list increases.

Going somewhere “else” for dinner?

  1. Offer to bring a side dish or appetizer. I’m making creamy mashed potatoes AND prosciutto pear bites!
  2. Grab some fresh bread from the local bakery. Pair with real artisan butter and you’ll be loved.
  3. Flowers and vino. You can’t go wrong with wine. For a sweet touch, pair with fresh flowers for the host.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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Urban Farming: We’re talking bees, chicks & piggies

Yesterday was my 10 week-old son’s first lecture sponsored by 18 Reasons! We went to see a talk on “The State of the Urban Farm” with author and Farmer, Novella Carpenter. Although he thankfully slept the entire time, it was a very interesting and shocking talk in some aspects – especially for a city-slicker who’s not used to cooking, much less thinking about slaughtering your own food.

Yes, I said slaughter. It sounds so gross doesn’t it? Well unless you’re a vegetarian, we should all get over it. I naively thought the talk was going to teach me how to grow an herb garden! Not with Novella! Critics have called her newly published book Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer (2009, Penguin Press) “easily the funniest, weirdest, most perversely provocative gardening book.”

Novella shared tales (and a slide show) of her city-raised bees, chicks, rabbits, piggies, and dairy goats on her squatted piece of land in Oakland, CA. The most interesting image of the night was of her learning how to use every part of the pig, with the help of star chef, Chris Lee. Can you imagine making your own salami, pancetta and prosciutto?

Learn more: http://www.urbanfarming.org/

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If you could only eat ONE thing…

We all love playing this game: “If you could only eat ONE thing FOREVER, what would it be?” How many times have you played that?! I love the dramatic tone of this age-old question. I have a constant battle between sushi and pizza!

This came up while making homemade pizza this past week. It was so good! Pizza is something that both kids and adults love so much…sushi? maybe in Japan. Here are some tips for great homemade pizza. Try it this week and don’t forget to get some great RED wine to go along with it!

  1. Buy Fresh Dough! Almost all pizza shops sell it. Otherwise, grab some at Trader Joe’s or check with your baker in the supermarket. It usually costs $3 or less for enough to make a large pie or 2 small ones.
  2. It’s in the Sauce: Sauce matters. Many argue that it’s more important than cheese. I love Pomi brand, straight from Italy and very high quality. A local Italian shop is worth the find for this and other delicacies.
  3. Keep it Simple: This part is easy. Pick a few fresh ingredients that you love, be it traditional pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage or something fancier.
  4. Top with Fresh Basil: Basil and tomatoes were meant to be together. Make sure to buy FRESH basil and put it on the pizza just a couple of minutes before it’s ready (otherwise it will sadly wilt and burn).
  5. Share with Friends: This is a quick and fun meal you can make with friends. Don’t fret about having things ready when they arrive. Put them to work – rolling dough, chopping ingredients or pouring wine. They’ll love it.

Quickie Recipe for Homemade Pizza:

  • Allow fresh dough to settle at room temperature for about 35-40 minutes (easier to roll)
  • Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees
  • Roll fresh dough with rolling-pin or round object (i.e. pint glass) onto pizza stone, crisper or baking sheet. To prevent sticking, dust rolling-pin or object lightly with flour.
  • Spread layer of tomato sauce over rolled out dough. We love Pomi Marinara sauce, but you can make your own or use a favorite jar of pasta sauce to save time.
  • Add favorite toppings
  • Place pizza in the pre-heated oven. It should take anywhere from 15-20 minutes depending on your oven and your preference for crispness. Set your timer!! Check at 10 minutes and then add time as necessary until you get to know your oven and it’s power.

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What in the name of Buddha is that?!

IMG_0404“What is that?!” That was the first thing that popped into my head while shopping at the best little market ever, Bi-Rite. I was almost embarrassed at my double-take as I passed the fresh produce aisle. So, I made pretend that I forgot something and went around for a second look. If I had to guess, I would say it was a type of squash. Wrong. It’s a fruit!

Citron Buddha’s Hand, “great for zest, candied, beautiful centerpiece,” read the hand-written sign. Fascinated by its strange appearance, I picked it up and smelled it, of course. A beautifully fragrant lemon scent popped from the strange-looking fruit. It’s in season now. It would make a great gift for a fellow foodie – all wrapped up in a little box.

Here’s a great website that lists strange and special produce along with great ideas for recipes: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/

Discover a weird piece of produce today!

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A little place called Fayes

The entire time we were filming, producing and editing Cooking for the Clueless, I was excited about finishing it IMG_0389so that I could have it in the “Local Directors Only” section at Fayes Video & Espresso Bar. Don’t laugh! This is the local video shop across the street from our tiny apartment in San Francisco. In a neighborhood with Tartine Bakery, Bi-Rite and its Creamery, Delfina and Dolores Park are all within a block, Fayes stands tall as an awesome spot with great indie videos, better coffee than Tartine and the best bench on the block.

Living in the hood almost 7 years now always came with a daydream of being part of the local club of those who have put their passion into producing a film, documentary or short. Now, there’s something for those of you who are clueless in the kitchen. If you can’t buy the video, RENT IT! Available for rent only at Fayes.

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A Blog About Sausage?

I have to tell you that I never thought I would be writing about sausage. I know guys love it, so maybe I’ll have more manly men reading my post this week :0). My mother might say that it’s vulgar, but I just have to tell you about my new fascination with FRESH sausage (I know that sounds funny, keep adult commentary to yourselves).

Back to the kitchen…it’s easy to get very bored when you’re first learning how to cook, so I’m always looking to iStock_000002395168XSmalltry new things – something other than chicken breast, you know? Last month, I was cruising the meats section of my supermarket and noticed some fresh Italian sausage on sale, next to fresh andouille and fresh chorizo. I grabbed a couple packs and headed home to experiment. After an easy 12-minute boil for the Italian sausage, I threw it into Deborah Dal Fovo’s spaghetti al pomodoro recipe. The next night, we made German-Style grilled sausage and mashed potatoes! SO DELICIOUS! The andouille was used in an awesome egg scramble for brunch and the chorizo, home-style burritos. Now, we make a sausage meal about once a week. Really easy, since the sausages come wonderfully seasoned and it’s great to buy them fresh (less preservatives and all that stuff)!

Here’s a favorite savory sausage recipe variation from a Kiwi cookbook I bought while traveling in New Zealand a few years ago:

Ingredients

  • 6 pork sausages
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 ounce malt vinegar (30 ml)
  • 1 cooking apple
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 ounce Worcester sauce (15 ml)
  • 5 ounces water (150 ml)

Coarsely chop apple, onion and place in casserole dish. Mix in other ingredients and submerge sausage in the mixture. Cover and slow cook at 250 degrees F for 2 hours. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and green beans or peas.

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