Fancy a pint?

Posted by Anita on 02.27.07 8:04 AM

black & tan ice cream (c)2007 AEC…of Ben & Jerry’s?

I’m sure you’ve heard of Guinness ice cream, maybe even seen Ben & Jerry’s Black & Tan, which swirls together chocolate and cream-stout flavors.

But did you know that this pint has a creamy head, too? We had a good laugh a couple of nights ago as we opened the container. Although at first it looks like marshmallows, the “head” is actually fluffy puffs of the cream-stout ice cream.

(And yes, it’s delicious.)

beer, dessert


Home again, jiggity-jog

Posted by Anita on 02.26.07 7:34 AM

callas and concrete (c)2007 AECWe didn’t by any plum buns or fat hogs — although we did buy both pâté maison and calabrese sausage from the Fatted Calf, so I’ll take that last one on points. But we did spend a very chilly late morning at the market Saturday. By some miracle, the dogs let us sleep until 9:30, so we were on the late shift, but still mostly alone in the artic air.

Chilaquiles? Sí, por supuesto! (And also delicious tacos de pollo hiding under some rather insipid guacamole.) We made quick rounds of the veggie stands, admired some of the first signs of spring — plenty of blossom-studded boughs, stacks of baby onions, and buckets of tulips and calla lilies to make you glad you left your nice, warm bed.

I’m getting a chill just thinking about it, though. Damn, it was cold! Quick, inside the building, chat up the guys at Prather, flirt a bit, get a lovely flat-iron steak for the grill and one of those heritage chickens we’re hearing so much about. (That’d be $15-ish each, not per pound, thank god.) After warming up — and a stop at Miette, of course — it’s back out front to pick up chips, tortillas and Yellow Eye beans from Rancho Gordo… where Steve tells us we just missed Alan Richman from GQ and that the NY Times will be singing his praises two weeks hence. Let’s hope he remembers us when he’s well and truly famous.

All in all, a successful re-entry into San Francisco. The kitchen’s coming along nicely, too — but it’s all under tarps at the moment, so the promised update will have to wait.

In the meantime, there are more market photos here

farmers markets, meat, shopping


Great expectations

Posted by Cameron on 02.25.07 6:16 PM

plum treeIf there is an edible gardening art more arcane or mysterious than successfully growing fruit trees, I don’t want to know what it is. The landscaping consultant whose professional advice I regularly seek is the representative of Friends of the Urban Forest in Bernal Heights and maintains an “experimental garden” where he coaxes fruit trees of all descriptions to flourish in our odd local microclimate. But even he is often reduced to a shrug. Who knows if they’ll even survive, let alone bear fruit? They’re living things, and they don’t read rulebooks — they just grow. Or not.

So I feel incredibly blessed that the trees we’ve planted in our backyard all appear to be thriving. Our Meyer lemon is loaded with eight or nine fruits, our bergamot has two or three orbs of its own and has absolutely exploded with fresh growth, and if our itty bitty Makrut lime tree keeps growing the way that it has, I’m going to be able to build a house in it.

Right now, I’m the most excited about the Santa Rosa plum tree that last week sprouted what seems like hundreds of little green/white buds. A thin, whippy thing when we planted it a year ago, it seemed to limp through the year, leaves shotgunned by some unnamed brown fungus. But it kept growing all the while and now, after some judicious pruning, it looks strong and beautiful.

The conventional wisdom is that flowers fortell fruit. Maybe. There are so many things that can happen or not happen between now and a midsummer harvest. Not enough water, too much water, pollination failure, heat, cosmic rays, or even an injudicious application of soft jazz at the wrong moment could send things horribly astray. I hope that this summer we’ll be soaking plums in brandy, but for now it’s enough to live in the moment and love the beautiful buds and flowers as a harbinger of spring.

Bernal, garden


DOTW: Tiger Tiger

Posted by a Special Guest on 02.23.07 7:03 AM

Tiger Tiger (c)2007 Lauren & Paul

Editor’s note: I don’t know about the rest of you, but I for one have missed Drink of the Week during its recent hiatus. (Perhaps that’s just a sign of how much I desperately need a cocktail, but I digress…)

This week’s guest-bartender duties fall to our friends Lauren & Paul, another pair of cocktail aficionados from our Seattle crew. Just looking at that gorgeous photo reminds me of the wonderful parties they host in their fabulous house, and all the nights we’ve spent together at the Zig Zag, Union, and other Jet City cocktail haunts.

Last fall, we took a wine-tasting trip to the Okanagan. (Don’t ask me why it’s spelled “Okanagan” in Canada and “Okanogan” in the US — it’s just one of those mysteries of life.) As we wandered around the little towns, we noticed each ice-cream parlor offered a flavor called “Tiger Tiger”.

After many days of seeing this oddly named ice cream, we had to try it. Turns out it’s orange and black-licorice ice cream swirled together to create a tiger-stripe effect. We decided the same flavor combination might make for a good cocktail. And so it does:

Tiger Tiger
2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. orange curacao
1/4 oz. lemon juice
splash Pernod
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake all ingredients, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

Drink of the Week, drinks, recipes


Don’t monkey with it

Posted by Anita on 02.19.07 6:06 PM

banana bread (c)2007 AECEvery cook has those recipes that she considers so perfect that she won’t even entertain the idea of trying another variation. In our house, for example, there is no meatloaf but our meatloaf. I’m so set in my ways that not only will I not try new meatloaf recipes, I rarely even order meatloaf at restaurants.

So when, during a long-overdue freezer cleanout, Mom and I discovered a stash of bananas, and then another stash, we knew it was time for another of those “don’t bother with another recipe” recipes: Banana bread.

Now, with all modesty, I’m not the only one who loves this stuff. It’s a recipe so wonderful that it was printed — albeit with some non-fatal editorial alterations — by Cooking Light many years ago, and apparently remains a reader favorite. (I cringed in anticipation when I clicked on the reader comments link, and was amazed to see that everyone likes this recipe as much as we do. Whew!)

Here’s my introduction from the original issue:

My mom, Toni, has been making this banana bread for what seems like forever. We’re nuts about all kinds of bread, and this is a family favorite — even the dog loves it. While it may seem odd not to add spices, the pure banana flavor is what makes it so delicious.

You can find the tinkered-with version on Cooking Light’s site, but here’s the original, which isn’t really much higher in fat:

Toni’s Banana Bread
1-3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1-1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 medium super-ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
scant 2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F, and butter an 8×4 loaf pan (or two 7×3 pans for tea-size loaves).
Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, and set aside.

Put the remaining ingredients (except optional nuts) in a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the banana puree over the dry ingredients, and fold lightly — adding nuts, if using – with a rubber spatula, just until combined; do not overmix.

Pour batter into the buttered loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, but do not overbake. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

baking, family, magazines, recipes



Posted by Anita on 02.18.07 1:59 PM

China pig stampHappy Lunar New Year to all! We wish you prosperity and good luck for the coming year.

Today’s the first day of 4705, so what better way to celebrate the Year of the Fire Pig than with some our our favorite porky recipes…

..from the MwD archives:
New Year’s Cassoulet
Pear and Arugula Salad with Guanciale
Not-Spam and Eggs
Carnitas Tacos
Cochinita Pibil

..from swine-lovin’ friends and fellows:

Homemade sausage from Cookiecrumb at I’m Mad and I Eat
Milk-braised chops from Dr. Biggles at MeatHenge
Devils on Horseback from Sean at Hedonia
Tartiflette from Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook
Senate Bean Soup from Steve at Rancho Gordo
Larb from Molly at Orangette
Ants on a Tree from Matthew at Roots & Grubs

As soon as we start cooking and/or eating anything noteworthy again, I promise we’ll be back with some original content.

And stay tuned for another remodeling update, too. (I’ll be home on the 22nd, and Cameron says the kitchen is looking “so beautiful I want to sleep in it.”)

holidays & occasions, meat, other blogs, recipes
1 Comment »


My funny valentine

Posted by Anita on 02.05.07 9:19 PM

heart (c)2006 AECWhen I was a little girl, my dad was my first food buddy, the adventurous eater who constantly egged me on to try new things — one of my first childhood memories involves Pops bribing me to eat blueberries. His years in the Marine Corps left him with an unquenchable Tabasco addiction, which I’m sure shaped my spice-loving soul; I became a fan of all things picante at a young age, under his watchful eye.

As I grew up, he’d let me cry on his shoulder when the boys were mean. “I know it’s not the same, but I love you…” he’d say. And then he’d take me out for ice cream.

And on that point, he never wavered: Ice cream soothes all pains, salves all indignities. So its fitting, perhaps, that the last thing he wanted, the last thing he ate, was a scoop of Nutty Coconut from 31 Flavors.

As we sat around this afternoon, holding his hand, a surprising number of “Dad stories” centered around food. We never let him live down the time he made us waffles using sesame oil, creating a crazy (dare I say inedible?) supper and filling the house with the lingering scent of stir-fry gone crazy.

We jokingly refer to my mom’s friends here in Henderson as the Asian Food Mafia — they’re forever getting together on some pretense or another to share food. They’ve been keeping us well fed, taking turns cooking for us. It’s actually been quite lovely to dip into curries and boo chim gae and gai gkaprow, instead of the usual assortment of chuch-lady casseroles. Pops had a generous heart, and it’s no surprise to me that this steady stream of friends and neighbors stopping by with covered dishes looked genuinely distraught by his grave state, and now by his passing.

He always sent me a valentine each year, and I always reciprocated. I sent my card early this year, and I’m glad that I did. Even though I’m married to a wonderful man (who my father dearly loved), I can’t imagine Valentine’s Day will ever be quite the same.

family, holidays & occasions, Vegas


Kitchen update: 1 month

Posted by Anita on 02.02.07 11:37 AM

(c)2007 AECIt’s been an entire month since the kitchen-remodel kickoff meeting, so I thought I’d share our progress so far. We’re very pleased with the work that’s being done, and — as you can see from the photo — things are moving along quickly. We may even be done by the end of the month!

We’ve had a few course corrections recently, most notably one that cropped up due to our inability to find the perfect cork floor (compounded by concerns about how cork holds up to dog toenails), which led us to choose wood floors to match the rest of the house. It’s a classic blessing in disguise, as this choice had the double benefit of making our contractor happy and leading to a gorgeous end result.

Another design change: Our contractor is going to make a built-in bench for the breakfast room, a development that makes me inexplicably giddy. There’s something magical about a booth (or, in this case, a half-booth) in an old cottage kitchen. And ours will look out a gorgeous pair of French doors onto our deck and the view beyond. Our poor dining room may end up feeling quite neglected!

(c)2007 AECSince the last update, the following items have been added to the kitchen: Insulation, wiring, plumbing (gas and water), ducting for the range hood, drywall, a level floor in the breakfast room, pocket doors, French doors, and (ta-dah!) wood flooring.

Still to come: Cabinets (arriving today — wow! — though they likely will rest in the living room for a bit), paint, millwork/trim, appliances (sitting in the warehouse and scheduled for 2/15 delivery), countertops, sink, final plumbing and electrical hookups. Lights are on order, the sink and faucet are waiting in the basement, and the wood floors will be sanded today, possibly with the first varnish coat.

Hungry for more? Here’s a mini-tour of how the new kitchen looks today, and another showing a few of the things we’ve made in the “camp kitchen” downstairs.

1 Comment »


DOTW: Bloody Beach

Posted by a Special Guest on 02.02.07 7:07 AM

Bloody Beach (c)2007 DayneM

Editor’s note: Our next guest behind the bar is our friend Dayne, who lives — and drinks — in Seattle with his wife, Wendy (of fondue mac & cheese fame).

When Anita asked for a guest drink submission, I was a bit stumped at first. Most of the more-interesting things we make come from recipes I’ve found online in the first place, so simply re-posting one of those seemed a little boring.

A while back, I’d read Paul’s post over at The Cocktail Chronicles about the Blood & Sand, and followed that up by reading Gary Regan’s article on the same drink. It seemed like an interesting drink, though a bit bizarre: I’d never been much of a Scotch drinker — that’s slowly changing — and Scotch in a cocktail sounded especially strange.

Early last fall, I finally got around to acquiring some Cherry Heering with the intention of making Singapore Slings, but realized I finally had the missing ingredient for a proper Blood & Sand. Digging through old boxes of liquor that had come into our marriage from who-knows-where (I blame my best man, who has brought open-bottle remnants to more than one party), I found some Scotch, put everything together in the original equal-proportion recipe, and took a sip.

Ugghh. Awful. Beyond bad.

OK, so maybe it was the Scotch. I don’t remember what brand was involved, but it made for a pretty horrendous cocktail. Could have been the vermouth too. Feeling that the drink deserve another try, I tested Ted Haigh’s 4:4:3:3 variation, with no better luck.

I mentioned my unsuccessful experiments to Murray and Kacy down at the Zig Zig, and both of them said the same thing: “Use rum instead” — an interesting possibility. Somehow, I’d never quite gotten around to trying this variation. But earlier this week, I pulled out all the makings and gave them a shake. The result was a pleasantly mild drink with a tiki-ish flavor profile, but much less sweet than most tropical concoctions.

Since that evening, I’ve tried another Blood and Sand with some Famous Grouse — again a party remnant, though coincidentally the same brand that Paul used in his original post — and Carpano Punt e Mes vermouth. Much more successful, and almost certainly closer to what the cocktail was intended to taste like.

But the rum variation is worthy in its own right. Using a new base liquor usually calls for a new name; it’s possible that someone’s already christened this drink elsewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it. So, I give you:

The Bloody Beach
3/4 oz. medium-bodied rum (I used Appleton V/X)
3/4 oz. cherry brandy (Cherry Heering or Cherry Marnier — don’t use a clear eau-de-vie)
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth (I used Carpano Punt e Mes)
3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice, strained

Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Drink of the Week, drinks, other blogs, recipes
1 Comment »