Giving thanks, quietly

Posted by Anita on 11.30.08 11:26 AM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**Apparently, I am not equipped to exist on 5 hours of sleep every night for an entire month, which is what happens when you try to hold down a job, tackle a little freelance work, keep a house in order, cook most meals at home, and blog every single night. But even though I failed at NaBloPoMo, I really did have a blast trying to keep my head above water. Despite the blog-silence, our week has been filled with all kinds of wonderful things to eat and drink… fodder for future posts, I promise, as we return to a slightly saner schedule in December.

The highlight of our week — like many of yours, I suspect — was our big Thursday feast for Thanksgiving. This year, we managed to wiggle out of all of our family obligations, so it was just the two of us: No marshmallow-topped baked yams or gelatinous cranberry sauce (nor any of the other stuff neither of us likes) and no giant spreadsheet to track food miles. We still ate 100% local, but with a much smaller, simpler menu, we didn’t need to document with such precision.

I picked up our turkey — a burlap-wrapped 18-pounder from Napa’s Hudson Ranch, sold to us by Tayor at the Fatted Calf — at the Tuesday Berkeley Farmers Market. This squat little guy was so muscular we didn’t even need to truss the legs to keep them tight against the carcass. Although all we did was salt it the night before and slather it in butter, describing its taste sounds like a cliché: Moist and tender, yet full of deep poultry flavor. And the rich drippings made some of the most delicious gravy we’ve ever had.

Dark Days Eat Local ChallengeTo go with the amazing turkey and gravy, we peeled and mashed many pounds of creamy La Ratte spuds from Mr. Little, mixed with butter from Spring Hill and Straus Family cream. Stuffing was the usual family recipe, with Fatted Calf bacon, Eatwell celery and parsley, Catalán onions, Acme bread, and our own home-grown sage and home-made chicken stock. There was corn from The Peach Farm — which I zipped and froze a few weeks back — and a bottle of Five Russians Pinot Noir from Sonoma. For dessert: Pumpkin pie made from local organic pumpkin, eggs, and dairy, in a crust of local flour (a blend of Eatwell and Giusto’s), Clover Organic butter, and Prather leaf-lard.

With only two of us to tackle a family-sized turkey, we cut off a whole breast, leg, and thigh, and vacuum-sealed them for the freezer; somewhere down the line there’s another round of turkey dinner (and leftovers!) in our future… what a way to stock up for winter!

The rest of our luxurious long weekend, we’ve spent tackling other Dark Days-related projects. Cameron’s been hard at work on building and filling our new raised beds, and we may even get a few starter crops in the ground before the new year. I’ve been pickling and preserving — a few quarts of chicken stock and turkey broth, some pickled jalapeños, and a batch of pub onions. After the canners were put away, I reorganized our freezers in preparation for laying down a few last supplies for the winter.

This week’s trip to the farmers market was pretty light, since we’ll mostly be eating an assortment of yummy bits and pieces from deep storage. Although a week of freezer fare may sound rather dreary, after four days of nonstop cooking and turkey leftovers, I’m really looking forward to a few meals where the hardest part is defrosting the main dish and making a big salad.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

This year, I am especially thankful for:
- My wonderful husband, who takes care of me and our home with such obvious affection.
- Our family, who understand our need to take a break from the festivities now and then.
- Our social circle, whose hospitality and friendship keep us sane and happy.
- Our readers and blog pals, who encourage us and inspire us.
- Our amazing City, where we count ourselves lucky to live every day.
- Our region’s hard-working farmers and food artisans, who provide us with the world’s most amazing array of edibles.

Dark Days challenge, holidays & occasions, locavore, meat
6 Comments »

 

Late harvest

Posted by Anita on 11.23.08 11:55 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**I was going to title this post “Last harvest”, but then I realized — even in our fairly seasonal garden — that our harvest never really ends. The lemon tree is ever-bearing, and is coming into its peak fruit-picking season. The bergamot is busting out all over; it dropped a fruit today — which is almost certainly hollow, but plenty good for making one of our favorite liqueurs.

Our makrut (kaffir lime) tree is growing so large that it needs a fairly major pruning; when that happens, we’ll have enough aromatic leaves and fruit to supply a small Thai village. And although the lemon verbena is dying back to its canes, the plum tree has gone dormant, and the basil is long-since gone to seed, we’ll have most of our herbs — thyme, oregano, and sage — through the dark days.

Today we tackled two garden-related tasks: One in the kitchen, to put up a few bits of the 2008 season, and one at the lumber yard, to lay the ground work for 2009. Early in the day, I picked and sifted through piles of coriander and fennel seed, which I’d set aside a few weeks ago to dry. As you can see from the photo above, the color contrast between home-grown seeds — even when fully dry — and store-bought is fairly dramatic; the scent and flavor are even more astounding.

Later in the afternoon, we headed off to the suburbs in search of redwood decking. We’ve finally decided — after two years of avoiding reality — that our pretty patio is a luxury; even in our sunny ‘hood, we aren’t able to entertain outdoors more than a few times a year. So Cameron pulled out the gardening books, mapping out a plan to replace some of the slate pavers with raised garden beds. (I’m hoping he’ll pop by soon to tell you more about his construction plans and maybe even share his planting diagrams.)

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Dark Days challenge, garden, locavore
7 Comments »

 

Hangin’ at the Hangar

Posted by Anita on 11.22.08 9:53 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

We finally got ourselves over to Alameda this afternoon to visit the Hangar One / St. George Spirits distillery. We’ve always managed to be out of town during their annual open house parties, but this year was different. For a $30 ticket, we got the chance to sip pretty much everything they make (though we limited ourselves to things we hadn’t already tried), including the seasonal Spiced Pear vodka. The best part, though, was getting up close with their gorgeous copper stills, one of my favorite photo subjects.

For an additional $10, we also got to sample the new Agua Azul, a 100% agave spirit that can’t technically be called tequila because it’s not made in Mexico. We loved all three expressions — rich cristal, smoky reposado, and mellow-but-not-boring añejo — but balked when we saw the $60, $80, and $120 price tags. (We’ll probably change our minds right as they sell out, just as we did with the Absinthe Verte last year… oh well.)

In addition to all the sippable samples, admission included copious top-notch munchies: June Taylor preserves, Boccalone salumi, El Huarache Loco antojitos, La Cocina sweets, and Recchiuti chocolates. We were impressed at the short lines for both the samples and the loos (thanks to a set of porta-potties ’round back of the distilling equipment), and plentiful water stations all throughout the warehouse. A DJ spun tunes, employees answered questions, and a shuttle swung by every hour to drop guests off at BART.

Sound like fun? Sign up for the newsletter to find out about next year’s open house and other special events throughout the year.

Hangar One / St. George Spirits
2601 Monarch Street
Alameda, CA 94501
510.769.1601

drinks, East Bay, locavore
3 Comments »

 

DOTW: Aristocrat Swizzle

Posted by Anita on 11.21.08 11:14 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**I feel downright terrible that it’s taken me this long to tell you about the fabulous time we had last month in Seattle at Le Mixeur, the exclusive soirée organized by the Munat Bros, Ted & Charles. But in my defense, it’s taken me this long to figure out how to explain it without sounding like I’m bragging. Because, dear reader, saying Le Mixeur is a cocktail party is like calling the Titanic a boat: Technically accurate, but completely missing the point both in scale and impact.

We’d read about these fabulous shindigs, jealously drooling over tales of drinks created by some of the West Coast’s finest mixological masterminds. But somehow — despite having ingratiated ourselves to the Munats both at the Zig-Zag and at Tales of the Cocktail — we’d never managed to sync our travel plans to their social calendar. Eventually, we hit the jackpot, scoring an invite to Le Mixeur Cinq on a weekend when we had no other obligations; away we flew.

On our first night in Seattle, we dropped in on Keith Waldbauer skulking in his lair at Union, one of our all-time favorite Seattle dining spots. We’d read that Keith had contributed a recipe to the Mixeur menu, and we asked him to tell us about his inspiration for the drink that would be served to dozens — if not hundreds — of serious cocktailians the following night.

“Oh… you’re going to Le Mixeur?” he asked with a gleam in his eye. “You’ll have to tell me how my drink tastes. I just sent them a recipe and didn’t even try it.”

Was he pulling our leg? You never know with Waldbauer. No sir, you never know with a man like that.

The next night, we made our way to a warehouse loft in SoDo, in the ominously empty streets bathed in the blue glow of Qwest Field. After climbing flight after flight of stairs, our efforts were rewarded. The white-walled loft opened out and up and away, revealing a happy hubbub. Our eyes darted from walls hung with eclectic art to the oh-my-god-impressive bar in the corner, where professional mixologists and a few determined amateurs shook and poured for the flowing crowd. In an open mezzanine above, the DJ nodded and smiled as the beat kicked in; a belly dancer took the floor, gyrating for the loudly appreciative audience.

The bar was stacked deep and thick as folks studied the night’s menu and waited patiently. We quickly found Charles Munat, and weasled our way into a couple of drinks after what we later realized was a uniquely short interval. Happily, the crowd was full of plenty of friends, as well as many familiar faces from bars both near and far. And the gods of mixology obviously watch over fools and drunks, because Keith’s drink — a minty, gin-based, tall sour with a Chartreuse float, which he’d dubbed the Aristocrat Swizzle — was every bit as perfect as the setting.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Aristocrat Swizzle
- Keith Waldbauer

1-3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz lime juice
10 mint leaves
dash simple syrup
1 barspoon green Chartreuse

Muddle mint and syrup in a mixing glass. Add gin and lime juice, and shake with ice. Strain into an empty Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and top with a Chartreuse float. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

bar culture, Drink of the Week, drinks, Seattle
2 Comments »

 

The joy of leftovers

Posted by Anita on 11.20.08 10:51 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**There’s something about the frugal pleasure of creating something out of nothing that appeals to my inner home economist. There’s a touch of puritanical redemption in there, too: Making use of every last scrap atones for the pleasure we take spending chunks of our income on fabulous food.

For the most part I’m not a fan of the usual sort of leftovers, reheating the same old meal for to live another day. (Fret not: I make exception for cold spaghetti, reheated enchiladas, and the glorious day-after-Thanksgiving mishmash). But what I love so dearly is a well-planned, or even well-improvised, creative reuse.

The last few nights, we’ve had dinners built on the skeletons of our weekend feasts. Tuesday night, we sauteed a pile of onions in bacon grease, then added the leftover pancetta-laced beans from Saturday’s supper, mashing them together to make a fabulously porky pan of frijoles refritos. Dressed with a dollop of thick crema and a swirl of homemade tomatillo salsa, they made an ample accompaniment to Prather Ranch skirt-steak tacos. (In an ironic twist, the beans were so filling that we ended up with leftover meat, which in turn became this morning’s steak-and-eggs breakfast.)

Tonight, we transformed the shredded meat left over from Sunday’s roast chicken into a tasty riff on chicken pot pie. Starting with a Barefoot Contessa recipe adapted by Smitten Kitchen, we took many liberties with substitutions: Golden sauteed mushroom chunks in place of pearl onions, simmered-down stock replacing bouillon, and shepherd’s-pie-style mashed potatoes on top in lieu of a pastry crust. We also managed to tidy up the crisper in the process, dispatching some baby carrots and snap peas that were just a touch too feeble for our usual pan-braising method. It was a deliciously decadent meal, and the ingredients were virtually free.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

cooking, other stuff
3 Comments »

 

Mission: Edible

Posted by Anita on 11.19.08 11:31 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**What do you do when one of your favorite foodies comes to town, and specifically mentions wanting to stroll through The Mission? Why, you plan an itinerary that takes you past some of the neighborhood’s favorite places to buy delicious treats!

After shopping our way through the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market together, we left Laura to explore on her own for a few hours. (We hit Rainbow Grocery for a few staples, then headed home to put our perishables in the fridge.) We met up at high noon at 16th Street BART. Seeing as how it had been ages since we stuffed ourselves with Mexican breakfast at Primavera, we decided a traditional San Francisco burrito was in order. We stopped at Taqueria El Castillito — an old favorite, but definitely not local, sustainable, or organic in any way — and fortified ourselves with burritos and a torta, and a few bottles of Mexican cane-sugar sodas.

Back out into the bright sunshine — it’s always sunny in The Mission, but Saturday was unseasonably hot — we trekked down Mission to 18th. Trying to keep to the shady side of the street, we pointed out the retaurant row that is 18th and Guerrero (Farina, Tartine Bakery, Delfina, and Pizzeria Delfina) but did not stop to join the monster queues. We’d really just planned to peek into Bi-Rite Creamery, but the short line — full of surprisingly happy ‘No on 8‘ protesters — and list of fabulous flavors tempted us. We couldn’t let Laura leave San Francisco without a taste of the famous Salted Caramel ice cream, could we? (Cameron also sampled the malted vanilla with peanut brittle, just to make sure we’d covered all the bases.)

Across the street, Bi-Rite Market was sampling their Thanksgiving offerings from a catering station on the sidewalk. We smelled the heavenly aromas, but couldn’t even consider a nibble. We pressed inside the store along with everyone else in the entire neightborhood, taking a peek at all the fabulous local produce and the justifiably famous deli case. (I still don’t understand how Sean and DPaul lived around the corner for years without weighing 300 pounds. I’d never cook!)

Backtracking to Valencia Street, we strolled past Range — where we’d enjoyed a fabulous dinner the previous night — and popped into Lucca, one of the last remaining vestiges of the Mission’s Italian heritage. We browsed the aisles, admiring the terrific assortment of goodies, then headed back out into the street. I think I always knew that Lucca makes their ravioli on the premises, even noted the minuscule factory visible through the picture window along Valencia, but I’d never timed it right to see the process in action until this week. We stood with our noses pressed to the glass for what must have been half an hour, watching as a pair of flour-dusted pasta makers heaved giant wads of dough through an industrial sheeter, then picked them up like so much dirty laundry and magically unfolded them along a table the size of most San Francisco living rooms. (I could descibe the whole process, but Laura’s slideshow does a much better job.)

We picked up the pace and continued down Valencia to 23rd, then down Mission to 24th. After a quick stroll through the Mexican produce stalls and flower shops, we stopped into Philz to let Cameron caffeinate himself with a fine Turkish-style fiter-drip blend, while Laura and I rested our eyes and feet in the cool, dim surroundings.

Our last stop took us to a rendezvous with some of our fellow bloggers at Mission Pie. We were nearly stuffed, but somehow made room to share a slice of double-crust apple pie and another of pear-raspberry galette. When Jen arrived, she showed us the error of our ways, generously offering nibbles of the godly walnut pie (with a gooey center like pecan pie); I now understand why people drive across town to buy a slice. We sat at a big table together in the now-waning afternoon sun, marveling at all the shop’s gorgeous, quirky details — a map of the farms that sell their produce to the pie-makers, a collection of antique egg scales, and some of the coolest light fixtures in the city — chatting about everything from Yves St. Laurent to antique tractors to …well, food, of course.

If we’d only had an extra stomach, we could have kept walking all day.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Taqueria El Castillito
2092 Mission Street (x17th)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.621.3428

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street (x Dolores)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.626.5600

Bi-Rite Market
3639 18th Street (x Dolores/Guerrero)
San Francisco CA 94110
415.241.9760

Lucca Ravioli Company
1100 Valencia Street (x 22nd)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.647.5581

Philz Coffee
3101 24th Street (x Folsom)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.875.9370

Mission Pie
2901 Mission Street (x 25th)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415.282.4PIE

coffee & tea, dessert, Italian, Mexican, other blogs, The Mission
7 Comments »

 

Cream of alchemy

Posted by Anita on 11.18.08 9:30 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**There’s some sort of culinary magic that happens in autumn, when even the homeliest of foods can be made beautiful and delicious. I’m convinced that there’s something in the air at this time of year — every foodie I know looks forward to fall, and it can’t just be because we’re all sick of tomatoes and mozzarella.

A case in point: We had a half-knob of rather unattractive celeriac left over from an earlier recipe, so we cobbled together a creamy soup by adding a potato, some celery, butter, stock, and thyme. A few shallots, admittedly gorgeous by anyone’s definition, gave the mixture a hint of sweetness.

You might think something this monochrome would taste as bland as it looks, but you’d be mistaken. It’s earthy and herbal, silken and almost meaty. Served in demitasse or small bowls, I think you could even call it pretty enough for company, should the occasion arise. But trust me, you won’t want to share.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Celeriac Bisque
- Serves 4 as a first course

2T unsalted butter
1/3 cup chopped celery (1 medium stalk)
1 medium shallot, minced
12 oz celeriac (also known as celery root), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium starchy potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups unsalted chicken broth or stock (plus more as needed)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
-
2T whipping cream
herbs for garnish

In a heavy, medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the celery and cook, covered, until the celery just starts to soften (2 to 3 minutes). Add the shallots and saute, uncovered, 3 minutes more. Stir in celeriac, potato, stock, and thyme sprigs; lightly salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 40 minutes.

Remove the thyme sprigs and, using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth. (You can also use a standard blender: cool the soup a bit, work in batches, and then return the puree to the pan). Add additional stock as needed to achieve desired consistency. Stir cream into the soup and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Ladle into flat bowls, and garnish with chopped herbs or small tender sprigs, as desired.

cooking, locavore, recipes
4 Comments »

 

Long-haul locavore

Posted by Anita on 11.17.08 11:02 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**“I can’t wait to show you what I’m sneaking down in my bag,” wrote Laura. “Hopefully you’ll be as delighted as I am!”

I knew we would be thrilled with whatever she brought us, and I suspected she’d be stocking our pantry with a fun assortment of jars — she’s an accomplished canner. But what actually landed on our kitchen counter was a jaw-dropping surprise.

Sure, there was a pint of (homegrown) dilly beans, and a pot of (homemade) strawberry jam. But there was also a shrink-wrapped frozen broiler chicken from the farm… and — wait for it — a dozen fresh eggs from the hennery itself … which Laura had brought down in her checked bags! (Eggs, says the TSA, contain more than 3oz of liquid in each “container”. And in any case, a dozen would definitely not fit in a quart-sized Ziploc bag.)

I wish I had thought to take a photo of Laura’s ingenious packaging: two half-dozen cardboard containers inside a perfectly sized plastic food-storage container, all wrapped in packing tape. And miraculously, every last egg made it here intact, with not a single crack.

This, my friends, is the way to get invited back for a return visit!

The three of us ate six of the eggs poached with a big batch of Cameron’s hash on Sunday morning. The yolks were almost fluorescent orange, and the whites held together like magic. (I forgot to take photos — d’oh!) There was Acme toast, too, with a generous slathering of Spring Hill butter and Laura’s no-pectin preserves — not too sweet, soft and fresh-tasting.

We toyed briefly with trying out a new recipe to share here on the blog, but decided that this bird needed little more than a good roasting and some simple accompaniments — we didn’t want to bury the flavor with complicated preparations. The chicken sat salted in the fridge all day, its skin drying out in preparation for a turn on the rotisserie tonight. After 90 minutes on the spit, it emerged golden and crispy-skinned, with juicy white meat and fabulous flavor: Truly the best bird we’ve eaten since the Hoffmans left the market.

SheHe’s a big bird, by farmers market standards — nearly 4 pounds — and we’re looking forward to making chicken pot-pie later in the week with the leftovers. And of course the bones and cartilage will be saved for our next batch of stock. Most guests leave little more than a pile of sheets in the laundry room; a fridge full of home-grown food is sure a welcome change!

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

cooking, other blogs, travel
6 Comments »

 

Beans by the book

Posted by Anita on 11.16.08 10:44 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**The irony of yesterday’s 80-degree excursion to the Ferry Plaza was that none of us wanted summery stuff. We waltzed right past stalls filled with tomatoes, artichokes, and strawberries(!) and gravitated toward the pork, beans, and greens we all craved despite the heat.

With the unseasonably warm weather and our un-air-conditoned house, we knew it would stay too hot to braise, so we headed over to the Marin Sun Farms stand and checked out their grillable options. Laura picked out a lovely slab of pork ribs, and I walked across the aisle for a bag full of Brussels sprouts from the Iacopi’s stand.

Since Laura’s only able to find pintos and cranberry beans at her local markets, she planned to load up her bag with lots of fun varieties from the Rancho Gordo stand. Little did we know that Steve Sando himself would be tending the stall on Saturday, training two new employees and charming the shoppers who were surprised to see the bean guru himself behind the baskets and bags. In addition to the four varieties Laura chose — old favorites Yellow Eye and Calypso, plus two others that escape me Pebble and Anasazi — we also bought a pound of Red Nightfall, for our Dark Days dinner that night. I had no idea how we’d serve them, but I knew we could find inspiration flipping through our just-bought copy of Steve’s new book, Heirloom Beans.

Cameron gave the ribs a simple rub (salt, pepper, dried sage, and pasilla), and we planned to serve them with a mustard-and-vinegar sauce, so we looked for a simple recipe that would showcase the beans’ natural flavors. It didn’t take us long to find a dish that we all agreed sounded delicious: What’s not to love about porky goodness topped with a drizzle of bright olive oil and a snowy dusting of cheese? We found a hunk of Fatted Calf pancetta in the freezer and snipped some fresh sage from the garden, swapped a red onion for yellow, and left out the original recipe’s carrot. The end result was delicious, if I do say so myself, and a perfect counterpoint to the smokiness of the ribs and the tart-bitterness of the shredded sprouts.

ps: For more great photos of our meal prep, don’t miss Laura’s set and post.

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**Rancho Gordo - Heirloom Beans(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Beans with Pancetta and Sage
- adapted from Heirloom Beans

1/2 pound heirloom beans, soaked
- the original recipe calls for Jacob’s Cattle, but we used Red Nightfall
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 pound pancetta or slab bacon, diced
2T chopped fresh sage
dry Jack or other hard cheese, grated, for garnishing

Place the beans and their soaking liquid in a tall pot, adding enough cold water to cover by at least an inch. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, until beans begin to soften (about 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and warm through, then add the onion, celery, garlic, pancetta, half of the sage, and a little salt and pepper. (Keep in mind your pork may be heavily salted.) Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté very slowly; do not allow the ingredients to brown. When very soft and aromatic, about 20 minutes, remove from heat and set aside.

Add the sauteed mixture to the beans and bring to a simmer, adding more water as needed. Taste the simmering liquid, and adjust for salt as needed. Simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about another hour, keeping an eye on the water level. When beans are cooked through and no longer chalky, add the remaining sage and adjust seasonings; simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve the beans with a little of their pot liquor in shallow bowls, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with the grated cheese.

—-
Disclaimer: Cameron and I are big fans of pretty much everything Steve Sando does; the three of us are friends from the olden days on various food boards, and we’ve been known to babysit his market stall on occasion. There’s no way to say that I’m not biased, but I still think that the book is fabulous: The recipes go well beyond the usual things you think of making with dried beans; the photography is stunning; and the graphic design is trademark Rancho Gordo, with bold typography, clean lines, lots of white space, and judicious use of bright accent colors.

Although I’ve only cooked once from it, at the price ($15 on Amazon) it seems like a bargain. It’s got a fun foreword by Thomas Keller (yes, Food Jesus is one of Steve’s fans, too), great front matter that covers everything from Rancho Gordo history to equipment notes, and recipes from some of our favorite restaurants — like Range‘s Cellini Bean Soup with Chard and Poached Eggs. I’m looking forward to exploring it in more depth, and I’d say that even if Steve wasn’t a pal.

cookbooks, Dark Days challenge, farmers markets, locavore, other blogs, recipes
6 Comments »

 

Urban adventures

Posted by Anita on 11.15.08 11:46 PM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Oh, what fun we’re having with Laura, eating our way around the Ferry Plaza and The Mission from sunrise to sunset, then cooking up a storm for the first night of the Dark Days challenge. The three of us (with the dogs, naturally) sat up gabbing until almost midnight, telling stories and talking about… food, duh!

I promise a thorough recap later, but for now you can check out my Flickr set — plus Laura’s Flickr set and post on (not so) Urban Hennery — for a quick peek at our day.

Dark Days challenge, farmers markets, other blogs, shopping, The Mission
3 Comments »