Favorite Food Memories of 2009

In the final hours of 2009, I wanted to recap my favorite food memories this past year:

1. Ferry Building Farmers Market visits on Saturdays after the gym; oysters on the half shell and incredible handmade pappardelle!
2. Starting my blog in February! It’s my favorite hobby and I’ve learned so much since I started.
3. Our inaugural visit to Zuni Cafe. Best meal in SF while we lived there!
4. Eating like gluttons in New Orleans; NOLA was a highlight!
5. Growing our first “garden” in Mountain View; the basil thrived while the tomatoes were a little more shy
6. Unforgettable truffle crema and wild mushroom pappardelle dish followed by a Tom Colicchio sighting at Fiamma in Vegas
7. Fun local flavors at Digestif in Scottsdale with my home ec mom, trained chef sister and her menu adventurous boyfriend
8. Seeing Julie & Julia, which reminded me why I like blogging about food and feeding my husband!
9. Getting brave with seasonal produce from collard greens to butternut squash
10. Watching interesting foodie documentaries like A Table in Heaven, Food Inc. and King Corn; learning doesn’t stop in the kitchen!

Thanks for your support and Happy New Year! Cheers!

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Buttering up the Blogosphere

Sweepstakes + butter lovers = win a free trip to Montana. As a longtime user of Challenge Butter, I coincidentally stumbled on the Challenge Dairy “A Taste of the West” Sweepstakes tonight, while updating my shopping list. 

Along with Spice Islands and OXO, Challenge is offering an all-expense-paid trip to Montana Sky Guest Ranch through December 31, so the clock is ticking! (And Montana is gorgeous! We had the pleasure of spending time in Big Sky last March.)

Attention bloggers: there’s an added incentive for posting a link to the sweepstakes – you’ll be automatically entered for a second drawing to win one of five $100 prizes. 

And just for fun, I thought I’d share this buttery montage – but let’s be honest, there aren’t many recipes on this blog that don’t involve the good stuff:

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Best Meatloaf Ever

Ground turkey + leeks + manchego + apples = best meatloaf ever. I made a hybrid recipe inspired by Everyday Food’s Turkey Meatloaf with Fontina and Mushrooms, and my own meatloaf experiment with apples earlier this month. Plus, I substituted manchego for fontina, left out the garlic (didn’t have any!) and used one leek instead of two. Miraculously, the resulting meatloaf was my best yet – David and I were both impressed!

Here’s the skinny:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Saute sliced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon olive oil until golden brown; place in mixing bowl
  • Saute sliced leeks in 1 tablespoon olive oil in same pan until soft; place with mushrooms in bowl to cool
  • Meanwhile, grate 1 cup’s worth manchego cheddar (or fontina, gouda, etc.)
  • Peel 3 small apples and grate until you have 1-2 cups
  • To the bowl containing the mushrooms and leeks, add 1 lb. ground turkey, 1 egg, grated cheese and apple
  • Mix by hand, or a potato masher is a good trick if you don’t want to get your hands dirty
  • Form a 10×4 inch loaf in a pyrex dish; bake for 45 minutes and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes (Martha’s version uses parchment paper, but the apples make mine extra juicy so a dish is your best bet)

If you’re not following @everydayfood on Twitter yet, be sure to check them out at http://twitter.com/everydayfood.

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Holiday Indulgence

Crab meat + aioli + toast + muenster = decadent appetizer. I had to get this one in before David and I get healthy for the New Year! On Christmas Eve my mom had us try a super indulgent appetizer that’s rich on taste, but pretty lean on prep time.

Starting with King Crab legs, separate and rinse the crab meat. Then, mix the meat in a bowl with a small jar’s worth (approx. half a cup) of aoli. Place slices of sourdough or french bread on a cookie sheet, so that each piece is small enough for cocktail napkins (cut into smaller pieces, if necessary). Spread the meat mixture evenly on each piece of bread, then place a slice of muenster or havarti cheese on top of the meat. Broil in the oven until bubbly and golden. (Check to make sure the bread and meat are warmed through – and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.)

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Faux Vegetarian

Seasonal veggies + cleaning out the fridge = experimental vegetarian. Last week’s pre-made dinners were a breeze, and with the short holiday week I set out to create a similar outcome. I started with enchiladas, which are hearty enough for three nights as a main course – and not to be mistaken as healthy or vegetarian! 😉

From there, I had an overabundance of Capay vegetables left to deal with: butternut squash, collard greens, cabbage, carrots, and apples, oh my! I searched high and low on Epicurious and Everyday Food, and came up with the following items:

Butternut Squash, Apples and Braising Greens – An adaptation of SF chef Traci des Jardin’s recipe on Epicurious; I used butternut squash in place of sweet potatoes (based on the reviews I wasn’t the only one to do so!) and collard greens. I didn’t have parsley, but didn’t notice. Tomorrow night, I might try blending the dish and adding it to stock to make a soup – another reader’s suggestion.

Vegetable Stock – The perfect solution to freeze for later use! Using ideas from Martha Stewart, Sam Beall and Epicurous, I made my own hybrid by sauteeing chopped onions in olive oil, and then adding chopped cabbage, 5-6 cups of water, sliced carrots, dried oregano, a little white wine, and salt and pepper. After boiling for an hour, I strained out the veggies and brought the stock to room temperature before putting in tupperware for the freezer.

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Shout-out

Red Rock Coffee + charitable causes + latte art = locals lovefest. My intrigue with Red Rock started with a killer latte and apricot bar on our inaugural visit to the neighboring coffee shop. Then I noticed their charity work to bring clean water to Ghana, and locals gathering to knit and network and bring their children to play. Plus, they’re open late on weeknights and weekends – making it a haven for open mic nights and after dinner nightcaps. Our weekends now include a post-gym visit for surprisingly rich nonfat lattes (with gorgeous foam swirls that are celebrated as art on the Red Rock blog). And they roast their own, as exclusive carriers of beans from around the world. Did I mention they have sleek design too? If this sounds like a highly caffeinated rant, it just might be: this morning we made their Nayarit Organic Medium Roast from Mexico.

You can get more information at http://redrockcoffee.org or follow them on Twitter: @redrockcoffee.

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Stocking up for Winter

Butternut squash + pumpkin + apples = stocking up the fridge. The cold, rainy weather was a good excuse to finally put the remaining fall & winter produce to use. I dug up recipes from Everyday Food for inspiration, and made a mess in the kitchen, but it was worth it! Now we can enjoy at least a week’s worth of butternut squash soup, roasted pumpkin, meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

About once a year I go to battle with a butternut squash, armed with knife and peeler, and tonight was no exception. But knock on wood, I haven’t lost a finger or pulled a muscle yet, and the various recipes I’ve used never disappoint. This time, I tried “Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder” from the September 2009 issue of Everyday Food. I made some slight adjustments, substituting olive oil for vegetable oil, and cumin instead of curry. The changes seemed to fit right in and the results were just as delicious, with the added texture of corn.

Meanwhile, I cut and peeled the last sugar pie pumpkin from my Capay delivery to use in a Roasted Pumpkin recipe from the October 2008 issue of Everyday Food. I left out the sage and substituted onions for shallots. The pumpkin was soft, but a little bland without the sage, so I’ll likely add it to pasta or chicken and rice later this week.

This one’s an original, and an experiment at that: I thought apples might make a nice addition to turkey meatloaf, which has previously been dry due to a lack of moisture (and fat) in the meat. So I peeled and shredded three apples in a bowl and added ground turkey, an egg, salt and pepper. I baked the “loaf” at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes (or until the meat was cooked through and slightly browned on the edges). The apples leave juice at the bottom of the pan, but that means extra moist meatloaf with a nice sweet aftertaste! We had ours with buttery mashed potatoes on the side.

We have leftovers across the board – so one night of extra dishes might help alleviate the next 2-3. 😉

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Shout-out

Local wine + local cheese = 🙂 Last night we participated in a delightful wine & cheese pairing at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay. While the imported Alfred Gratien Champagne and Pierre Robert Triple Creme were incredible, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the local producers:

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Mmm Soup

Leftover black beans + broth + random leafy greens + bacon = delicious wintery soup! I’m still trying to use up leftovers and exotic veggies delivered by Capay, before my next Safeway delivery arrives tomorrow. So tonight we played it safe with BLTs (cabbage in place of lettuce), and I experimented with soup.

Starting with black beans, I added cream cheese (not the most ideal ingredient for heating, so I wouldn’t endorse it), then put the mixture in a sauce pan, to which I added chicken broth, sliced Napa cabbage, kale and bacon. (I swear bacon makes soup instantly better – as discovered in October.) In fact, there was a slightly unpleasant smell coming from the stove, before I added the chopped bacon. But once it simmered for a few minutes, the soup adopted that delicious, smoky aroma. The results were delicious!

In summary, making homemade soup is easy. Any beans will do. Just make sure you have broth, spongy greens that will soak up the flavors, and bacon if you’re daring. 😉

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‘Tis the Seasonal Produce

  

Napa cabbage + apples + sweet potatoes = seasonal Sunday dinner. Tonight I played catch-up with some of Capay’s recent produce deliveries. The result was an improvised, colorful menu of light dishes – perfect for a lazy Sunday:

  • Salad with Napa cabbage (shredded), diced apples, sliced pecans and poppyseed dressing
  • Turkey burgers with apple slices and melted cheddar on sourdough
  • Mashed sweet potatoes with butter and honey (same method from Thanksgiving)

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