October 22nd, 2012 § § permalink
UPDATE: SF GIANTS just swept the world series so I’m gonna post my ravioli post tomorrow night instead!!! GO Gigantes!!!
It’s probably true that living in cities make you psychotic. Not that I am admitting to that sort of statistic, they make me feel a little too normal.
But I do feel a little normal today of all days, when I made apple pie and watched the Giants be victorious in America’s favorite pastime – baseball. I watched a lot of ATL Braves baseball growing up and spent a lot of heartbroken autumns feeling deprived of national titles. I passionately hated the Yankees.
The foggy photo above is of a building on my street – it’s always been painted with those happy words – I smile each time I see them and imagined they were painted by loyal fans stooping over from the rooftop, approximating their inverted shapes. From the street their size is deceiving, but I am sure they are nearly as tall as I am. It’s my favorite ‘graffiti’. This evening, as the 6th playoff game entered its final innings, I had dinner at a local Philippino operated sushi restaurant where sushi eaters of every imaginable ethnicity cheered on our home team. Sushi and baseball is just as good as apple pie and baseball – at least in this strange and delicious melting pot of San Francisco I call home.
October 1st, 2012 § § permalink
I can only imagine how many terrible childhood okra stories are out there… slimy, mushy, overcooked dramas that line the plates of discontent. That’s why I like to throw okra around my kitchen and see who runs away first. Honestly though, while most people carry these dreadful vegetable experiences around for a lifetime, I prefer to hang with adventuresome eaters who climb the mountain of plant phobias by eating their way through food fears.
That said, my experience tells me the best way to make amends with strange vegetables tend to be when they change their guises and make an appearance in something familiar like a cute tartelette. Anyone who runs away from a tart doesn’t deserve to eat animals because these tarts are mostly harmless – however, I put serrano peppers in them, so they might kick you a bit when you bite into them. There’s also a lot of corn in this recipe – it’s corny in all the ways you’d want it to be really – a corn crust you don’t have to pre-bake and fresh corn kernals!
Earlier this summer I had a great time grilling okras, but I also eat them raw as often as I can find them. Chilled, raw, and tender! Young, uncooked okras are less slimy this way and their crunchy greenness is refreshing compared to typical gumbos and fried okras. Additionally, my favorite sushi restaurant in this city, Ryoko, serves the best okra tempura. It’s so perfect, I don’t bother trying to make my own.
This recipe was inspired by Maria Speck’s Artichoke-Rosemary Tart and uses the same crust.
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 1/4 c. water
1/2 ts. salt
1 1/4 c. polenta or coarse grits
1/2 c. shredded parmesan ~ 2.5 oz
1 large egg, @ room temperature
1/4 ts. freshly ground pepper
1 c. yogurt
2 oz. goat cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 ts. salt
1/4 ts. freshly ground pepper
2 TB cilantro
1 corn on the cob, removed from cob and steamed
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 serrano, thinly sliced
1 c. tender young okras shorter than 4″, sliced @1/4″
+ Make the crust by bringing the water and broth to a boil. Add salt and dissolve. Slowly pour in the polenta in a thin stream while whisking for 30 additional seconds. Turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring at least every two minutes to prevent sticking.
+ Turn off heat completely and cover polenta for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese, egg, and pepper.
+ Grease your mini tart pans with olive oil or give it a liberal spray of non-stick spray. Dip your wooden spoons in water and distribute evenly between 7* mini tart pans (I just did two batches using 4 pans) – this is about 2.5 TB of polenta per tartelette. Press the polenta evenly onto the bottom of the tart pans.
+ After 15 minutes, fill a bowl with a bit of water to wet your fingers and press the polenta into the sides and bottoms creating an even crust. This part is messy, tedious, and rather fun.
+ Create the custard by mixing together yogurt, cheeses, egs, salt, pepper, corn and cilantro. Pour the blended custard into the tart pans, leaving a 1/2″ gap from the crust’s top. Distribute three slices of serrano peppers per tart and fill in the remainder the raw okras and slices of scallions.
+ Preheat oven to 325 °F and bake tartelettes for about 10 minutes, or until the custard is firm.
September 14th, 2012 § § permalink
This Wednesday I saw an old, fragile man pulling a well-organized cart full of personal items – useless things that people like you or I may not hold onto, but had the same cared-for tenderness to them as treasured books, safety blankets, or collected cups. I felt my eyes curiously lingering on a tidy pile of magazines and newspapers wrapped neatly with old twine. As I watched this man my heart began to wither, because I could tell by now he was homeless and well-groomed despite his life on the streets. Still holding onto his cart of valuables, this gentleman slowly, hopefully walked over to the trash bin and examined the discarded pizza box sitting on it, gently lifting its lid to see if there was something left, perhaps a morsel of food to stave the hunger that he carries with the bravest ounce of dignity that could be expected for a struggling person sleeping on sidewalks in a city full of decadence.
I’m not one to dote on memories of the homeless that I see on the streets of my neighborhood, there are so many and I avoid them due to the guilt of my own privileged existence. To say that this particular experience left me sad is an understatement, but I couldn’t bear watching the tidy homeless man any longer so I walked away as fast as my short legs could carry me: I needed to forget what I just witnessed in order to buy my fruits and vegetables, the same ones used to make luxurious food on this blog.
I still regret walking away without much ado. That same evening I finished reading MFK Fischer’s The Gastronomical Me, which ended on a quaint but sad story about unrequited love…. Fischer, in her wise words ended the book with this:
Jaunito would be free again, as much as anyone can be who was once known hunger and gone unfed…
When I read this my youthful silliness made me tearful at my own callousness to the hungers shrouding this city; I spend each day mourning my own “terrible” existence, drunk from seeking culinary opiates to my own superficial hungers, avian fantasies, and meaningful big ideas. I turned on some music because it softens up my emotions like a familiar tenderizer, and I began to humble myself with ideas of nourishment, the kind that my heart seeks when hungry, not just pretty baked things with sugar and fruit, but a filler that doesn’t starve my inner soul of empathy. As much as I think I am contributing to the joys of those around me the truth is, most of us are hopelessly helpless when it comes to the pains and sufferings that others have to endure on a daily basis. I’ve known hunger but with each revelation, I find that my pains are just flesh wounds – temporary inconveniences.
I hope that you find some minor joys when you read my blog, look at the photos, and perhaps even make some of the food. As for me, I dream of having an open and free kitchen in this godforsaken city to feed those in hunger.
On a lighter note, here are some of my favorite delicious links on the web this week:
+ I used to read 101Cookbooks religiously. I made nearly every recipe, and followed every passionate adventure from Heidi’s kitchen until my own cookbook collection eclipsed my devotion. Just the other day, I was thrilled to see this beautiful dish. I might have to give her rosy yogurt thing a chance, despite my aversion to yogurt things.
+ Consider me shocked when I saw this: Cornbread Waffles. I don’t think I need more reasons to get a waffle iron.
+ I usually don’t make cakes, but I could get used to the idea of this beautiful one: apple and walnut cake from Desserts for Breakfast.
+ These financiers are filled with rolos. Enough said.
+ If you haven’t already, stop by Backyard Kitchen in the Marina for a free sandwich this week.
+ This weekend is the Armenian Festival and Bazaar at St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church. They are advertising baklavas, kebabs, and all sorts of middle eastern goodies.
+ I’m collecting pumpkins and fall squashes like this.
+ It’s so easy to put off doing things, but I definitely want to go to Kamei this weekend and pick up a pile of these.
+ Egg cup shopping is a difficult task. I can’t decide if I want this, this, this?!?!?
+ I want this kitchen with these concrete counters/shelves and a large window overlooking a forest…
+ I can’t wait to get the new Blue Bottle book, it’s supposed full of recipes for their treats as well… YUM!
+ I made a new playlist for the week, it’s called ‘keep you‘ and it’s full of lovely tunes that I can’t get enough of.