The night before Valentine’s Day, Jay and I got more intimate than usual – with a pig.
That might sound gruesome and not in the least bit romantic, but I still feel like I’m under some sort of meaty love spell weeks after we eagerly watched Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats skillfully butcher the whole pig and explain the perks of each cut and his use-the-whole-animal philosophy during San Francisco Beer Week’s Butchers and Beers event.
Clearly, I’m my Great Depression era grandmother’s granddaughter; I’m a sucker for reducing, if not eliminating, waste. I get an intense thrill out of embracing resourcefulness and the creativity that inevitably plays a role in finding uses for less popular animal parts, apple peels, and vegetable scraps.
Perhaps it’s needless to say in this context, but once the Butchers and Beers silent auction benefiting The Food Pantry came to a close, we walked home with the bones and offal – and a large hunk of pork known as a cowboy steak.
Hilarious-and-ironic-to-me story from the auction: while waiting patiently to increase our bids, I overheard two guys in front of me whine “ewwwwwwww” when they came across the offal bid card; they were much more enamored with the super popular and trendy pork belly. (more…)
Sometimes, in my kitchen, at our friends’ home using their grill, and in the food blogging world, things just don’t go as planned. Recipes go horribly awry; pictures turn out blurry; fluorescent lighting makes food appear greenish, blueish or just plain blah.
Or the incredibly simple but WOW shrimp recipe I’ve loved and made for years – with Beautiful Grill Marks Every Single Time – ends up having Zero Grill Marks, Whatsoever the one time I finally remembered to take photographs.
Thankfully, despite a few snafus during the cooking process, the shrimp still tasted pretty freakin’ great.
Snafus?? Well, let’s just say that, if a man walking around in an Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat offers to grill the shrimp you’ve so carefully and beautifully marinated … (more…)
I don’t know what kind of magic spells Dirty Girl Produce casts on their tomatoes, but their dry farmed, late season tomatoes are still some of the most flavorful tomatoes I’ve ever had. So even in the midst of butternut squash season, I find myself craving their sweet, juicy, deep red tomatoes and buying multiple pounds of them at the farmers market, afraid that next weekend they’ll be gone forever … or at least until next summer.
Some might say I’ve been devouring tomatoes since I was a kid. And they’d be right. As a child, I was very excited to help my mom plant seeds in our vegetable garden and grew impatient as I watched them slowly blossom into cherry tomatoes. Then, of course, I borrowed a tomato or two off the vine for a midday snack and lied about it. Tomatoes missing? Must have been a deer. Or a turkey. Or a rabbit. Or a crow. (Thankfully, I grew up in the boonies of California, where it was not uncommon to find deer snacking on our lawn. So my stories always worked.)
Here, tomatoes provide a juicy sweetness and green beans add a nice, fresh crunch to this salad, while marinated herbed shrimp have hearty meatiness and a bright, tangy flavor that matches well with the veggies and the tangy Dilled Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette. (more…)
Do you buy pre-made, bottled vinaigrette for your salads? If so, it’s okay. I’m not one to judge on this matter. Occasionally, I go on a Kraft Ranch Dressing bender. And I’ve been buying Girard’s Greek Feta Vinaigrette for years; with each purchase, I told myself that this one would be my last and that I was only making this last purchase so I could figure out how to recreate it from scratch with fresh ingredients at home. And so I lied to myself. Several times, and over several years. And I still haven’t even attempted it.
Having said that, vinaigrette is so easy to make at home, and tastes so fresh and delicious compared to the store-bought stuff that I really should make it from scratch more often. With a handy food processor or immersion blender (or even a whisk!) by my side, it literally takes seconds to come together.
With the citrusy bite of lemon and mustardy kick of Dijon balanced by a hint of tangy fresh dill and a touch of sweet honey, this particular vinaigrette is great on everything from salads and pastas to fish and chicken. (more…)
When it comes to appetizers, I plead guilty to several counts of merely unwrapping a cheese or two and plonking it on a plate with some crackers and a cheese knife. Not quite “voilà.” But sometimes, life is just too busy to spend an hour – or even thirty minutes – preparing an appetizer when cheese will do just as well.
Though it requires just barely more effort than the unwrap-and-plonk method, this marinated version looks and tastes much more impressive. Just toss thyme and olives in a pan with some olive oil for 5 minutes, add lemon juice, and pour the mixture over a cute three-inch round of goat cheese.
Spend the next 10 minutes either cutting up cucumber slices, arranging crackers, and doing last-minute cleanup, or enjoying a hostess-only, pre-party glass of light, crisp, almost bubbly Vinho Verde (Recommended: Opala for only $7 per pretty, summery bottle at Whole Foods).
Alternatively, if you’re a lucky applicant to the State Bar of California like me and The Exam You Desperately Need To Pass is less than two weeks away, you can spend that extra time flipping through constitutional law flashcards in a desperate attempt to learn the ins and outs of equal protection, privileges and immunities, and due process. But I can vouch that flashcards on a Friday night aren’t as fun as they sound.
In other words, go with the Vinho.