Travelogue :: Scones & Cocktails Via SF
Before I delve into a post about my recent weekend in San Francisco, I wanted to say a gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who supported Nourish's Kickstarter campaign. We exceeded our goal last week and continue to move ahead towards Nourish Kitchen + Table's official brick and mortar launch (stay tuned....)!
I was able to decompress a bit with a mini-work/pleasure trip to SF just as the final Kickstarter pledges rolled in. A few days scouting the city with 18 Rabbits founder Alison Bailey Vercruysse + ridiculously gorgeous weather + some excellent eating had me wanting to linger on the west coast a while longer. And if you're unfamiliar with 18 Rabbits, you should definitely familiarize yourself. It's hands down the best-tasting granola with the most-consciously sourced ingredients on the market. Thankfully, corner delis, Whole Foods, Dean & Deluca and other shops have started stocking it in NYC, so keep your eyes peeled.
A few quick highlights of the trip:
*The famed farmer's market at the Ferry Building. Local strawberries, kumquats and pixie clementines that taste like candy, Scream Sorbet with their addictive line of dairy-free sorbets (pistachio and tangelo....wow!), green garlic that'll have you breathing fire but you won't care it's so tasty, and countless artisan food vendors and local farmers.
*Nopa. The food and cocktails were so good that we did dinner and brunch there.
*Tartine Bakery. Lovely and delicious bread. And a pretty darn good lemon tart too.
*Saturday afternoon cocktail hour with the expert bartending skills of Alison's husband. The SF Cooler is pictured below. Rum + cointreau + club soda + lime juice. Tart and sweet, simple and refreshing.
*Grass-fed lamb chops from the Fatted Calf butcher shop, fava bean-mint crostini (recipe below) and radicchio salad with kumquats and fresh goat cheese. A home-cooked dinner doesn't get much better.
*The smell of Alison's perfectly light blueberry-lemon scones baking on a Sunday morning. Sorry, no recipe, it's under lock and key.
Fava Bean, Mint & Green Garlic Crostini ::
Serves :: 4
1/2 pound fava beans, about 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons fresh mint, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons minced green garlic (or scallions/chives)
1/2 cup fresh fromage blanc or ricotta
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt and pepper to taste
4 slices of country bread or whole wheat sourdough, each cut in half or into 3 thin strips
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
extra mint for garnish
Drizzle bread with olive oil and toast at 375F for 6 to 8 minutes.
Shell the fava beans and blanch them for 3 to 4 minutes in boiling water. Allow to cool and remove skins.
Combine fava beans through lemon juice, mix together and season with salt and pepper. Spread onto crostini toasts and garnish with additional mint.
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Kitchen Secrets :: What’s in My Pantry
A few weeks back, the lovely ladies behind the geniusly-sleuth blog, Pantry Confidential, blew open the cabinet doors to my kitchen - culinary and health secrets fully exposed. Christine Han and Hana Choi joined me for a weekend afternoon of cooking, brunching and snap-shoting while they perused my spice cabinet and fridge. Tidbits from the afternoon below. Check out the full interview, to get all my dirty little kitchen secrets (and beyond), over at Pantry Confidential.
How would you describe your food aesthetic + cooking style?
Very seasonally/market-driven. I get inspiration through all sorts of blogs, websites, magazines (lifestyle, travel, design, food and fashion). I’m a huge researcher (I was a history major in college at UVA) and that probably plays a part in my taste and aesthetic. I’m big on ethnic cuisines, particularly Mediterranean and Middle Eastern. And of course, just simple, delicious, market-fresh fare, rustic and modern at the same time - "American/French bistro,” I guess. I try to travel a decent amount in order to gain new inspiration and cooking techniques/flavor combinations. I was in London last year and there’s some very interesting things going on in the food scene there. Overally, my aesthetic is fresh, family-style, inviting with a bit of chic/cool thrown in, so I’d like to think!
Top pantry essentials in your kitchen?
Farro, great olive oil (I love Salvatore Brooklyn's), great Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, an arsenal of spices, beans, quinoa, excellent pasta, house-made vinegar from Brooklyn Kitchen, whole wheat pastry flour, almond and rye flour, variety of nuts – currently walnuts, pecans, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds are going on, truffle salt (a worthy investment/indulgence!), and some Marcona almonds for snacking!
How much does the health aspect of food come into play in the way you cook?
Health definitely plays a big part anytime I’m thinking about a new dish, or an old one. How to easily adapt something, make it a little lighter or bring out the health value in it.
Do you have a signature dish sure to draw raves from guests?
Hmm... I make a mean short rib dish. I have a butternut squash-sour cherry crostini recipe for Thanksgiving that’s been taken over by multiple friends. A simple roast chicken and fingerling potato dish will always have a guest coming back for more.
Favorite kitchen utensils or gadgets?
Mandoline. Microplane. A great chef's knife. Food processor (yes, worth the spend).
Do you have a secret (perhaps foreign) ingredient you love to use?
Piment d’Espelette (great on roasted potatoes, vegetables and eggs) and Harissa powder are current favorites. The Harissa rose powder is amazing on grilled or roasted chicken and grilled/sauteed shrimp. I’ve even used it in a summer potato salad before, delish! I also love these splurgeworthy farm fresh eggs from Grazin' Angus Acres, which you can pick up at the Union Square Greenmarket.
Who is your biggest food inspiration?
Grandmothers, not only my own. A handful of cookbook authors and chefs: Jamie Oliver, Nigel Slater, Claudia Roden, Paula Wolfert, Alice Waters, Barbara Lynch. Anyone cooking authentic food – something that comes from the heart.
Is there a tasty hole-in-the-wall, neighborhood spot you'd be willing to share?
Café Mogador. Amazing and simple every time.
Favorite cookbooks, blogs and sites you peruse?Bon Appetit, 101 Cookbooks, Nectar & Light blog, Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume, The Food of Morocco, Cook Like a Chef, Tender by Nigel Slater, The Craft of Baking, Plenty and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.
Whose pantry(ies) would you like to raid?
David Chang, Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Carmellini’s.
Poached Eggs with Asparagus, Piave and Truffle Oil ::
Serves :: 1
*Eggs are one of the healthiest ingredients around. Yes, please eat the yolks, they hold most of the nutrients! This is a deliciously quick and dirty brunch recipe that screams springtime with seasonal asparagus and the bright flavor of Piave or Parmesan cheese. Top it off with a touch of truffle oil and you (and your friends) will officially be smitten.
2 thin slices of French or whole wheat baguette
1 garlic clove, halved
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
3-4 spears of asparagus
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons freshly grated Piave or Parmesan cheese
Truffle oil for drizzling (if desired)
Rub baguette slices with garlic and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Grill bread over medium-high heat in a cast iron or on a griddle or grill pan for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Trim ends of asparagus spears, drop into water and blanch for 2 minutes. Plunge spears into a cold ice-bath or run under cold water. Pat dry and finely chop spears into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside in a small bowl.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add vinegar. Crack eggs, one at a time, into a small ramekin and gently tip over into water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted, blot on a paper towel.
Arrange garlic toasts on a plate. Top with eggs, asparagus, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle Piave over top and drizzle lightly with truffle oil if desired.
*For a larger brunch party, multiply ingredient amount and poach each serving of eggs in fresh water-vinegar. Serve this up with a fresh mimosa or a springtime Prosecco sparkler (Prosecco with St. Germain and a lemon twist or simply mixed with cherry juice, as seen here!).
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Sous Chef Series :: Titus Wang’s Stir-Fried Noodles with Chicken, Ginger and Basil
It's not everyday you get inside intel - and recipes - from some of the country's best restaurant talent. Thankfully for all of us, Tasting Table, one of my favorite food sites, just blew the kitchen doors wide open giving us a behind-the-scenes-look at a day in the life of a select group of sous chefs. Tasting Table's annual Sous Chef Series dishes out secrets, tips and techniques while inviting its readers to cook up one of the chefs' recipes right at home. A very lucky me, I've signed up to take on this task for the next few weeks. First up, we're test-driving an addictive stir-fry dish from TItus Wang of Annisa in NYC's West Village. His stir-fried noodles with chicken, garlic and basil scream with layers of fresh, aromatic flavor from ginger, garlic and Thai basil along with a nice hit of heat from Thai chilies. Asian comfort food like none other. Get Titus's full story and his cooking tips here and his recipe below.
Titus Wang's Stir-Fried Noodles :: with Chicken, Ginger and Basil
Serves :: 4
1 pound cooked Chinese egg noodles (or cooked spaghetti)
¼ cup untoasted sesame oil
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger--scraped, halved crosswise and each half sliced lengthwise into thin planks (8 to 10 pieces total)
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 red chiles (such as Fresno chiles), halved lengthwise
¾ cup Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry or dry sake)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
5 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on a bias
1 cup Thai basil leaves (or ⅔ cup mint leaves and ⅓ cup basil leaves), roughly torn if large
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. In a large pot of salted, boiling water, blanch the noodles for 15 to 30 seconds, just to loosen them. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil and ginger and cook until fragrant, stirring often, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until both the ginger and garlic are golden, about 1 minute longer.
3. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chiles, rice wine, soy sauce and sugar and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
4. Stir in the scallions and noodles and turn off the heat. Add the basil, toss to combine, season with salt and pepper and serve.