Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trailer: Julie and Julia

Oui Oui – okay that’s probably the extent of my par-lay-vou French.

But, how can you think French/France without mentioning the great Julia Child. The 6-foot woman was huge – literally. Her influence on the cooking world is something that generations will always remember (and probably take for granted).

August 13, 2004, just two days shy of her 92nd birthday, Julia Child passed away in her sleep – but her story still lives on today. Now, not to sound like a total sap, but the world was left with her book “My Life in France” written by her husband’s grandnephew after sitting down with her on many occasions where she would recount stories of her life for “the book.”

I actually just finished reading it – pretty damn good except for the fact that it would make me starving while biking at the gym, then depressed when I realized I had no contents in my fridge for dinner.

What some don’t know is Julia Child was raised in Pasadena, California by a staunch Republican father who expected his daughter to be conservative and live her life out in sunny Southern California. But, after falling in love and living with her husband, Paul Child, a US Information Service man whose work was based in France, she couldn’t have strayed farther from her upbringing and roots.

After enrolling the Cordon Bleu, practically crawling to the principal to get her degree and teaching cooking classes to neighbors; she spent around 10 years co-authoring “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”

For anyone who has seen the MAFC, it’s a novel. But, at the time, this novel was pure brilliance. MAFC took French cooking and broke it down into lame-ins terms for the typical American housewife of the 1950s. From there, she was a cultural phenomenon who was offered a, shall we say, experimental segment on public television – well the rest is history: the woman made millions, teamed up with others for cooking shows and hey there was even an old SNL skit making fun of her when Dan Ackroyd played her.

Anyways, enough with the rambling – here is a clip of the new trailer of the movie Julie and Julia. Meryl Streep plays Ms. Child and Amy Adams is the Julie gal (a blogger who attempted every single one of Child’s MAFC recipes).

This is one movie that will hopefully get your taste buds happy.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How do you like your Caesar?...Dressing that is….

My friend just started this new blog, The Best Caesar Salad in hopes to find the best Caesar salad known to mankind. Her number two pick that is in the Bay Area is actually at the Faultline Brewery in Sunnyvale off of 101 and Lawrence Expressway, someplace I’m looking forward to making a trip to.

Then, this got me thinking…with Caesar, you can have creamy, zesty, peppery, fishy (most Caesar dressing actually has little anchovies chopped into the dressing). So here’s my recipe that I hope will be favorite with everyone.


Once again, I can’t take full credit since I got this from Lidia herself.

Caesar Salad Recipe

2 cups firm-textured white bread cubes (½ x ½-inch)
3 young, firm heads Romaine lettuce, or one 18-ounce package hearts of romaine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more for dressing the salad
4 garlic cloves
4 anchovy filets
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or as needed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 hard boiled egg yolk (see page 000)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (more if you want a nice tangy bite)
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus a block of Parmigiano Reggiano for shaving

Pick the youngest, crunchiest Romaine lettuce you can find. Keep them crisp, before and after cleaning in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Even if you pick, young, crispy lettuce, you should use only the pale green and yellow, inner leaves for this salad.

The dressing shouldn’t be too dense; it should be just thick enough to coat each leaf lightly. The cheese that is added at the end will thicken it a little. Oil and vinegar stirred in at the end is a little touch of mine. Shaving Parmigiano-Reggiano over the finished salad looks nice and tastes nice, too. It’s a good thing to keep in mind for other salads as well.

Heat the oven to 350° F. Spread the bread cubes out on a baking sheet and bake, tossing them once or twice so they cook evenly, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove and cool. (The croutons may be prepared up to a day in advance. If necessary, recrisp them in a 350 F oven for a few minutes.)

If using whole heads of romaine lettuce, remove the darker outer leaves to expose the pale green center. Reserve the outer leaves for another use, if you like. Cut the out the core and separate the hearts of romaine into individual leaves. Wash the leaves in a sink of cool water and drain them well, preferably in a salad spinner. Place the leaves in a large bowl, cover them loosely with damp paper towels and store in the refrigerator up to 8 hours.

Combine 2 tablespoons vinegar, the lemon juice, garlic and anchovies in a blender or work bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding some of the 1/3 cup olive oil if there isn’t enough liquid to move the mixture around the blender jar. Add the mustard, hard-boiled egg yolk, salt, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and remaining olive oil if any. Blend until is smooth and creamy. Taste the dressing: If it’s a little too tangy, pour in a splash or two of olive oil and blend until it’s incorporated.

Stack the leaves in a large, preferably wooden serving bowl. Bring the bowl to the table and, using a salad fork and spoon, cut the leaves into 1-inch pieces, as it used to be done at Italian-American restaurants tableside. (Of course, you can cut the leaves with a knife beforehand. Pour the dressing over the salad, add a splash of vinegar and a healthy splash of olive oil and toss until all the leaves are coated with dressing. Toss in the croutons and ground black pepper to taste. Lastly, so it doesn’t clump, sprinkle the grated cheese over the salad, tossing as you add. Serve on chilled plates and, with a vegetable peeler, shave some of the block of Pamigiano-Reggiano over each serving.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate Fudge Brownie or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough?

April 21st -- one of my favorite days....

Today, Ben and Jerry's is having its Free Cone Day! Visit any Ben and Jerry's shop between the hours of 12pm to 8pm and enjoy a free ice cream cone!

Prepare to wait in line though since this is one of their busiest days!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunset Magazine's "Celebration Weekend"

For those of you looking to eat some good food, wine and possibly work on your summer tan, Sunset Magazine is hosting its annual "Celebration Weekend" on June 6-7 at its headquarters, located in Menlo Park.

Although I have to admit that I've never gone to one of these, the lineup is sure making me hungry. And, the best part is that $15 bucks will let you mingle with the Bay Area's best foodies and chefs.

The event will have some cooking demonstrations, speakers and of course food to munch on while mucking around at Sunset's HQ.

Some key peeps that I'll be looking out for are:

Joanne Weir - Overly happy host of the catchy show titled, "Weir Cooking in the City" on PBS

Robin Miller - Food Network chef that has the "Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller"

Joey Altman - Chef and Author of Without Reservations

Bill Corbett - Executive Pastry Chef, Michael Mina Restaurant (I'm hoping he brings some of Michael Mina's amazing bon bon after dinner snacks)

Jamie Lauren - Bravo TV Top Chef season 5 contestant

Details:
General admission: $15
Seniors (60+): $12
Children (12 & under): Free
80 Willow Road, Menlo Park CA 94025
URL: http://www.sunset.com/marketplace/celebration-weekend-2009-00400000038329/

Tickets are only pre-sold to groups of 10 or more

Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: Manuel's: A Mexican Restaurant

Mex-i-can or Mex-i-can't?

Growing up in San Jose, good Mexican food is easy to find. But, when your half Mexican and your Grandma makes you authentic Mexican food whenever you want, you end up becoming a harsh critic whenever you enter the local Taqueria or a place that claims to serve “authentic” food. The ability to find excellent Mexican food is an entirely different affair.

As most know, Mexican food can vary with the region. Northern Mexico is known for its meat dishes, Central Mexico is popular for “authentic” Menudo and the South is known for seafood, their local fare.

But, as I am thousands of miles away from Mexican comida, one of my biggest pet peeves is when so-called chefs blatantly use the wrong ingredients…when are flour tortillas EVER the right choice for enchiladas?? Why does my chili rellano often come with so much egg batter it seems like I am eating a burrito? And, if there isn’t at least one Serrano chili in my hot sauce, get it off my plate.

But, there is one restaurant in the South-ish Bay Area that any person would travel a good half an hour (trekking over 17) and STILL wait in line for….

Manuel’s

Manuel’s is a popular Mexican restaurant that anyone in the Santa Cruz area will rave about. It’s a small restaurant, with two little bars, that you better put your name down on the reservation list for. After eating at Mexican restaurants all over the Bay Area this is the one place that’s enchiladas could give my Grandma a run for her money.

A problem I usually have when going to Mexican restaurants (besides eating too many chips) is once I find one dish I like, I never branch out. At Manuel’s the cheese enchiladas are to-die-for. Their sauce coats the tortilla without being too clumpy or overbearing. The sauce was smooth and had a nice bite that wasn’t too spicy. Inside, there wasn’t to much queso and had tiny pieces of white onion that gave it a nice crunch.

Well, I knew I would order a enchilada, but what else…..

I decided on a meat taco – something Americanish, yet I was interested to see how they would prepare it. I was happy to see that the taco’s were just as good as their enchiladas. You can tell there is talented chef in the back kitchen as the meat taco was amazing (Grandma, did you get a side job you didn’t tell me about)?

The shredded pork was spicy, juicy and kept in the moist flavor from the pork. But, my favorite part of the taco was the shell itself, reminding me of my grandma’s. They didn’t buy those pre-made shells from the supermarket, instead they used corn tortillas that they dipped in oil and fried it themselves. I also loved that the taco wasn’t stuffed with cheese, lettuce, sour cream. It had those toppings, but they were there for moral support, a garnish – not topics that were overbearing and hid the taste of the meat (you probably can't tell from the picture, but there was  lots of meat). 

As I’m writing this, my mouth is watering and I am totally hungry for more Manuel’s – a hidden gem of Aptos.

Well let’s get on with the bottom line:

Information
Name: Manuel’s: A Mexican Restaurant
URL: http://www.manuelsrestaurant.com/
Pricing: On average $12 - 15 bucks a person
Address: 261 Center Avenue, Aptos, California 95003
Byte Rating: 5 out of 5 (woo hoo! My first perfecto rating)

Bueno Come!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Top Five Kitchen Essentials Any Foodie Needs

If you don't have these, get them.

We’ve all done it – run to the store mid-cooking a new recipe after realizing, “Crap, how am I suppose to make [fill in the blank] without a [fill in the blank]!” Or, it could happen, usually after a moving into a new place, when you mysteriously loose a box of kitchen gadgets and you find yourself lost without the essentials. Recently, I myself had to make do when rolling out my pie pastry crust with a water cup. Ghetto, I know.

Here is my top listing of the tools that any foodie needs in their kitchen. If you don't have these, you should put them on your wish list and go pick them up.

1. Garlic press and peeler – A garlic press is essential for anyone who doesn’t want to waste time hovering over their kitchen cutting board mincing garlic. A simple garlic press can save you time and money, while perfectly mincing your garlic (way better than you would have been able to master). And, the best plus – the garlic press prevents you smelling – unless you enjoy that garlic stench, then by all means chop away!

Going along with a garlic press, many people don’t realize that geniuses have also invented garlic peelers. All you do is place the garlic clove in the round tube, roll it and pronto! Pure genius.

2. Zester – You’d be surprised how many recipes call for a zester. Whether its a recipe that calls for a little splash of lemon or orange, you’ll need this – especially around the holidays. And, if you have the money to splurge on an extra classy one, it can serve as a grater as well.

3. Meat Thermometer – Admit it, there has been one time or another where you’ve BBQ’d a piece of meat, let it rest, then cut it open realizing you’ve either a) overcooked it way too much that your T Bone Steak is now little Barkley’s chew toy or b) your bloody steak still looks alive and is Moooing.

Simple solution: buy a meat thermometer. As a plus, most thermometers often come with a handy little scroll that tells you the exact temperature needed to achieve perfection for the well done, medium and rare lovers in us all.

4. Ladle Holder – For those of you without this common kitchen utensil, you know that this is something you’ve been meaning to pick up. Especially since every time you make something on the stove you’re always ripping a piece of a paper towel off since you don’t want to place your utensil on the kitchen counter. Save a tree, buy a ladle holder.

5. Lime and lemon squeezer – So this isn’t so much of an essential, but for a way for you to look cool when you invite your pals over for dinner. Coming in two sizes, these nifty little squeezers actually do allow you to get the most lime or lemon juice and keep the seeds out. Pull one of these puppies out when you are making cocktails for your friends and I promise you’ll get noticed.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Foodie Trends For 2009

My brother actually passed this article along to me. Recently the NRA (no, not Ms. Palin’s boys - the National Restaurant Association) surveyed its chefs and identified what the top 10 trends are for 2009.

No surprise that chefs favor organic and local, but there were some surprises in regards to meat chops - have you ever heard of a Denver steak?

Check them out:

1. Locally grown produce 89%
2. Bite-size/mini desserts 83%
3. Organic produce 82%
4. Nutritionally balanced children’s dishes 81%
5. New/fabricated cuts of meat 78% (e.g. Denver steak, pork-at iron, bone-in Tuscan veal chop)
6. Fruit/vegetable children’s side items 74%
7. Superfruits 73% (e.g. acai, goji berry, mangosteen)
8. Small plates/tapas/mezze/dim sum 73%
9. Micro-distilled/artisan liquor 73%
10. Sustainable seafood 71%

Well unfortunately for me, looks like we’ll be moving on to small dishes (aka elf food serving sizes).

What do you think? Did any of these surprise you? Did they miss any?