Good as gold

Posted by Anita on 01.31.07 12:04 AM

golden vegetable bisque (c)2007 AECOne of the farmers at the market this weekend was selling a big-ass bag-o-roots combo — turnips, parsnips, mostly, and also some gnarly carrots — so of course I couldn’t pass that up. As I strolled the empty aisles, wondering how I would prepare my mess of veg, I remembered seeing a recipe for a creamy root vegetable soup in the market newsletter. Nobody seemed to be selling celery root, so I popped into Farm Fresh to You (after a stop at Miette, mais oui!) and picked up a knob. Mission accomplished!

With a minimum of chopping and sauteeing, and a little help from — don’t hate me – chicken broth from a box, we had an incredible soup that left each of us scheming for ways to get all the leftovers for ourselves. I made a double batch, and froze half of the puree (omitting the creme fraiche, which I’ll add when I thaw and reheat it), so the next batch will be even speedier.

Golden Vegetable Bisque
- adapted from Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice, via the CUESA newsletter

2 T fruity olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 small celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut into chunks
1 parsnip, cut into chunks
1 golden turnip, cut into chunks
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 quart chicken stock, low-sodium chicken broth, or water
4 oz. creme fraiche (or other dairy, as you prefer)
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the onions and sauté until tender. Add the vegetables one by one, sauteing each for a moment.

Add the stock to cover the vegetables by about half an inch. Add the herbs and garlic, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until all is tender, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, and discard the bay leaf and the thyme stems. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or in batches — carefully — in a standard blender). Add the creme fraiche, nutmeg, and a big pinch of pepper and salt. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Feeling fancy? Try it with some Eatwell Farms rosemary salt.

cooking, farmers markets, recipes


Love and veggies

Posted by Anita on 01.29.07 11:33 AM

postcard to... (c)2007 AECAs part of Meeta’s Postcards Around the World event, I just shipped off a valentine to …well, I can’t tell you who, but I can say that she’s a foodblogger who lives in a country that I love to visit, appropriately enough.

I’ve never been to this blogger’s town, but — as I now know from Googling — it shares many similarities with San Francisco, including “a superb choice of restaurants” (according to the local tourism council), an historic waterfront, and a brewery that’s been turning out well-regarded ales since the Victorian era.

The valentine I’m sending is a photo I took a few weeks ago at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market — featuring radishes in reds, hot pinks, and other valentine colors — with a postcard sticker on the back. (Not surprisingly, finding a food-related postcard is hard enough, but finding one that’s holiday-specific is impossible! And besides, it was fun making my own card.) Of course I’m using some of the Crops of the Americas stamps that I’ve been hoarding, too.

Somewhere out in the blogosphere, another food blogger is getting ready to send a valentine postcard to me, too. I can’t wait to get it!

holidays & occasions, other blogs


DOTW: Bobby Burns

Posted by a Special Guest on 01.26.07 7:05 AM

Bobby Burns (c)2007 Erik Ellestad

Editor’s note: Over the next couple of months, we’ll be delegating Drink of the Week duties to a few of our cocktailian friends from time to time, as our bar supplies and equipment are rather limited in our temporary space.

First behind the stick is our friend and neighbor Erik, a talented amateur mixologist who’s currently working his way through the Savoy Cocktail Book, trying each drink in alphabetical order! Today, though, he shares the results of last night’s Robert Burns-influenced experimentation.

I had an idea to drink a Scotch-related cocktail last night, in honor of Burns Night, and Audrey Saunders’ Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini was the first that occurred to me.

I composed the elements — 2 ounces of decent vodka, a couple drops of Henri Bardouin pastis, and a half an ounce of Jon, Mark and Robbo’s “The Peaty One” Scotch — and stirred them together.


I didn’t like it.

I just kept thinking, this would have been better with vermouth instead of vodka. And how do I get this Band-Aid taste out of my mouth?

Maybe Islay-style malts just aren’t my thing.

I hated to be boring and retro, but I stirred together a hard-to-beat classic cocktail that’s even more fitting to the occasion.

Bobby Burns
1-1/2 oz. Italian Vermouth (I used Carpano Antica)
1-1/2 oz. Scotch whisky (I used Compass Box Asyla)
2 dashes Benedictine

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Drink of the Week, drinks, holidays & occasions, recipes


Fussy food show

Posted by Anita on 01.23.07 9:50 AM

top pot at Starbucks (c)2007 AECI made an atypical stop at Starbucks on the way in — oooh, they’re importing Top Pot doughnuts from Seattle! — and got a huge kick out of the array of super-picky orders being called out by the barista:

“Short triple latte extra-hot, extra foam”

“Iced triple tall sugar-free cinnamon dolce”

“Venti half-caf extra-shot soy with-whip white-chocolate mocha”

They were all picked up by people wearing Fancy Food Show badges.

breakfast, coffee & tea, Seattle


MxMo on MwD

Posted by Anita and Cameron on 01.23.07 7:42 AM

TFL champagne (c)2005-07 AECOver at The Cocktail Chronicles, Paul’s announced the next three month’s worth of Mixology Monday themes:

February 12: Whisk(e)y, hosted by Jimmy’s Cocktail Hour.
March 12: Shots, hosted by Martini Lounge.
April 16: Champagne cocktails, hosted by us.

We’re looking forward to it — cheers!

drinks, Mixology Monday, other blogs, wine & bubbly
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Happy birthday, Cupcake

Posted by Anita on 01.22.07 6:08 PM

(c)2007-AEC *all rights reserved*Yesterday, the Bald Guy celebrated his thirty(mumble) birthday — an occasion worthy of pulling out all the stops… and half of the pantry bins. But when you’re baking in a toaster oven countertop convection oven, your patisserie options are a wee bit limited. In one of those “only in the food-blogosphere” coincidences, Chockylit and Garrett are hosting a cupcake roundup this week — and yours truly just happens to have a little six-cup muffin tin that’s perfect for a half-batch of mini birthday cakes.

Not content to follow a request for “yellow cake with chocolate icing” to the letter, I started thinking about fancier alternatives. A series of chats about classic New England fare got me wondering how I could make Boston Cream Pie in a cupcake format. So I whipped up a batch of vanilla sponge cake [link removed*], some pastry cream, and a simple chocolate glaze: a cup of heavy cream, a quarter-pound of dark chocolate chips, and a tablespoon of Karo syrup.

One of the things I love about Boston Cream Pie is the way it combines a trio of simple Home Ec 101 recipes into a fun, old-timey dessert. But, as I soon discovered, the original format — cake sliced in half, pastry cream between the layers, chocolate glaze over the top and dribbled down the sides — doesn’t work very well in miniature. If you add enough cream to make a distinct filling layer, the pieces won’t stay together. You end up with a (delicious) mess, rather than a cupcake.

Undaunted, I tried a new method: Using a doughnut hole-cutter, I punched halfway down each cupcake, and dug out the center, ever so gently. Then I dipped the top of the cupcake in the chocolate glaze, far enough that the center got coated. I added a tablespoon of the pastry cream to the well, and filled the hole with the top half of the cut-out round. After a little more experimentation, I realized that it was easier to dip the center piece of cake in chocolate before placing it over the cream, rather than drizzling more glaze over the almost-finished cupcake. (If all this is too much to visualize, I’ve documented it all in a Flickr set.)

An excellent side benefit of dipping the unfilled cupcakes and their “stoppers” — rather than pouring glaze over the completed cupcake — is that the chocolate keeps the cream filling from soaking into the cake. And, it also makes a whole lot less mess.


* Edited to add: We removed the link to the Cook’s Illustrated recipe in July 2008 in protest of their bullying tactics.

baking, dessert, holidays & occasions, other blogs


DOTW: Headless Horseman

Posted by Anita on 01.19.07 7:53 AM

Headless Horseman drink of the week (c)2007 AECIn our house, we’re New England Patriots fans (Cameron’s an East Coast transplant), and Sam Adams is the usual “football juice” on game day. But with the AFC championship at stake this weekend, a more pointed beverage is in order.

This variation on the Moscow Mule seems a fitting tribute to the Pats. After all, the story of Ichabod Crane is a formidable legend, just like our boys on the gridiron. And when you’re playing a team called the Colts, the mere thought of headless horse-men is enough to make you giddy.

Headless Horseman
2 oz. vodka
3 dashes aromatic bitters
ginger ale
orange slice, for garnish

In a highball glass, combine the vodka and the bitters. Fill the glass with ice, and top with ginger ale. Garnish with the orange slice, and serve with a haunting laugh.

Boston, Drink of the Week, drinks, recipes
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That is weird how?

Posted by Cameron on 01.18.07 5:36 PM

gives you hangoverNo embarrassing orthodontia tales here, although I certainly have them. And I suppose that this counts as more than six things for one blog, but:

Despite my savoir-faire with working kitchen jargon, I have only held one food-related job: at a bakery/bistro where I mostly sold pastries and made sandwiches. My signature move was to smear two spoonfuls of unprepared, clear-quill horseradish on a sandwich when the customer asked for said condiment…until someone complained. The owner asked me if I had ever actually tasted horseradish. I hadn’t.

I used to drink Karo corn syrup straight from the bottle. Hey, it was just a nip of courage now and again. I could have stopped anytime I wanted to.

I have an incredible capacity to eat exactly the same thing for breakfast every day for weeks at a time. Lunch, too.

I like Jager Bombs. I’m pretty sure that this and the Karo thing are somehow related.

By the age of 12, I had taken part in the following activities: butchering pigs and cows for family consumption, collecting maple sap (drinking my fair share) and boiling it down, milking cows, collecting fresh eggs (never killed a chicken, though), churning butter, making sausage, and pulling perfectly good baby vegetable plants out of the ground while claiming to have mistaken them for “weeds.”

levity, other blogs
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How weird is that?

Posted by Anita on 01.17.07 11:55 AM

Watson's Drug and Soda FountainSandi at The WhistleStop Cafe (of Fried Green Tomatoes fame) has tagged us to share “six weird things” about ourselves with our readers. Now, I don’t know about you, but I am guessing you don’t care that I drive a 1966 Volvo, or that I had braces as an adult, or that I’m the oldest of ten grandchildren on my mother’s side… so let’s keep this food related, eh?

  1. Cameron and I share a surprising number of food dislikes. Neither of us cares much for eggplant, squash, or sweet potatoes.
  2. We have been known to drive an hour — and to plan our airport flight-arrival times — to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
  3. I’d rather have citrus or caramel desserts than chocolate, any day. I realize this makes me a traitor to my gender. (I don’t dislike chocolate, but I don’t crave it.)
  4. One of my favorite things to do on vacation is visiting the local supermarket. Sure, farmers markets are great, but the grocery store is where you see what everyday middle-class food looks like.
  5. My early food-related jobs included: breakfast waitress, bakery manager, drugstore soda fountain jerk (at the place shown in the photo above), pizza-delivery girl, and sundae-scooper. Waiting tables was undeniably the hardest work I have ever done, for the least amount of money. Jose Feliciano was one of my regulars, and he used to say corny stuff like “Sanka very much” when I would bring him refills of decaf.
  6. We’ve never been to New Orleans. It was on the short-short list when Katrina hit…

levity, other blogs


A biodynamic pair

Posted by Anita and Cameron on 01.17.07 7:57 AM

biodynamic wines (c)2007 AECAlways up for a challenge — and excuses to try new wines — we joined this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday, focusing on biodynamic wines. I thought we might have a difficult time sourcing an appropriate bottle, so I was pleasantly surprised when the wine merchant at Plumpjack Wines in Noe Valley identified a dozen or more biodynamic wines for us, and another 20 or more bottles that were being produced using biodynamic principles, or by wineries that are in the process of converting to biodynamics.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any indication that the wine we ultimately chose from his options — a white from Domaine Tempier, the producers of our favorite rosé — was created biodynamically. According to information on a number of sites, Tempier is indeed a venerable (albeit uncertified) organic winery, but they only occasionally dabble in biodynamics… and one can surmise that their low-end $12 Bandol Blanc probably isn’t the wine they’re dabbling with. (I’m glad we’ll get to try it… but I’m cranky that it was misidentified.)

So, over to BevMo, this time with Fork & Bottle’s list of biodynamic producers in hand. Trust, as they say, but verify.

Wine Blogging Wednesday logoOur tasting notes:

Patianna Sauvignon Blanc ’05 Mendocino (California) – $14.99 ($18 winemaker’s list)
80% Sauvignon Blanc clone #1, 20% Sauvignon Musque

Pale champagne color; yeasty on the nose; watery and thin flavors, but with an incredibly long finish (with no unpleasant aftertaste); the merest hint of effervescence. Cameron felt the wine had a toasty nose, and found hints of shellfish and sour in the corners. Anita missed the classic dry melon/pear flavors she loves in Sauv Blanc — in fact, there was little fruit at all. It was hard to believe that this was a New World wine. Compared to the similarly priced Chateau Souverain Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc (our “house” white), we agree that the Patianna winds up sour and unbalanced.

Chapoutier Cotes du Rhone Belleruche ’04 – $16.99 (€5.09 winemaker’s list)
80% Grenache, 20% Syrah

Straight out of the bottle and then in the glass, there’s a whiff of caramel nose, which doesn’t last, followed by a faint cherry nose and not much else, even when fully (over)warmed. Clear, medium-ruby colored. A lot of mineral tang at first, and though the wine eventually opened up, it never went far enough for us to really enjoy. Better with food than alone, not surprisingly. Fairly astringent for a 2-year-old wine. Thin, not a lot of complexity — it tastes like dried cherries and not a lot else. Trés French and not unpleasant, but seems over-simple and uninteresting compared to our usual array of $8-12 Cotes du Rhone options. Cameron would buy it again for something uncomplicated to drink in the summer…if we could get it for five Euros. Anita would use her seven bucks to try something else.

other blogs, shopping, wine & bubbly