Batter Licker

April 6, 2012

rye croutons

There’s been a lot of hubbub in San Francisco about finally having a Legitimate Jewish Deli, in the form of Wise Sons‘ Mission district location.

I have two thoughts on that:

(1) These people clearly haven’t been to Moishe’s Pippic in Hayes Valley, which has been serving phenomenal corned beef, pastrami and (on Fridays and Saturdays only) brisket for quite awhile now; and

(2) The rye bread at Wise Sons is transformative, at least as far as this longtime Rye-Hater is concerned.

Wise Sons’ rye bread is absolutely worth the annoyance of trying to find a parking spot in the Mission on a weekend afternoon. Hypothetically, I think it’s even worth waiting in the horrendously long line that wraps around the corner starting at 11 a.m. on weekends, when Wise Sons starts serving their infamous Reuben sandwiches. And I say “hypothetically” because of this very-exciting-to-me-now-that-I-know-it fact: (more…)

November 17, 2011

roasted butternut squash, caramelized onion and goat cheese tart

Hi, my name is Kristen, and I’m a butternut squashaholic. When those beautiful, light orange gourds start showing up at the market, I can’t help myself. I pile them into my shopping bag, week after week. And when Trader Joe’s offers up pre-cut squash, I stock up, knowing that makings for a quick, satisfying soup will be waiting in my fridge.

Sometimes, I just roast cubes of squash and pop them into my mouth straight out of the oven. Other times, I turn them into soup, lasagna, pizza, and gnocchi. I’ve even taken to converting my pumpkin curry to a squash curry. As if that weren’t enough, for this coming weekend’s Friendsgiving dinner, I’ll be bringing not one but two squash dishes: a poblano pepper and butternut squash soup, and butternut squash cupcakes with goat cheese frosting.

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But what I really want to share right now is a tart so good that I actually made it twice last week. The tart made its debut at girls’ night last Thursday. Although it emerged a success, I had admittedly rigged the game by serving it to two goat cheese- and caramelized onion-loving friends. (more…)

November 10, 2011

savory pear soup with crispy pancetta and blue cheese

There are few things I find less appetizing than an overripe pear (except, perhaps, brown bananas, but even those are salvageable). From the cloying sweetness to a texture that manages to be mushy, mealy and gritty all at the same time, pears are one of few barely-past-its-prime pieces of produce that I’d prefer to just toss into the compost bin rather than find a creative way to save.

And yet, almost every time I purchase pears, I go overboard and, despite my best intentions, am unable to get through all of them in time. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I buy eight or three; the Law of Pears Ripening Faster than Kristen Can Eat Them inevitably kicks in.

Apparently the same law applies to free pears. Thanks to my friend and fellow food-lover Elaine‘s recommendation, Frog Hollow Farm sent me a six pack of Warren pears to sample. I frequent their urban farm stand at the Ferry Building, and I love pears, so I was excited to dig in.

I promptly devoured three of them, raw and unadorned.

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I might have been generous enough to share the fourth pear with Jay. Or maybe I demolished that one too. I really can’t recall. My memory is as foggy on that matter as Bill Clinton’s was regarding extramarital affairs. But what I do remember is the pears’ sweet flavor and creamy texture – none of that graininess I usually try to ignore or mask in Bartlett pears.

Then I got married, ran away to Sonoma for half a week, and took couple days to come down from my newlywed love cloud and readjust to real life. Finally, I remembered the two remaining pears. (more…)

August 17, 2011

marinated roasted mushrooms and zucchini

I have noticed a lot of complaints lately on Twitter and the rest of the interweb – from foodies more fortunate than me, in that they actually have outdoor space – about overabundant zucchini and summer squash littering their gardens. And I have a solution: drop some off at my apartment. I would be ecstatic to help relieve the burden.


However, being mindful that some of these poor, unfortunate souls may not live in the Bay Area, I recommend roasting the prolific veggies (or grilling – for those living in places that actually have hot summer weather; not San Francisco). But don’t stop there. (more…)

August 10, 2011

honey-drizzled strawberry ricotta-goat cheesecake with polenta crust

At the very beginning of strawberry season, I try to steer clear of that fruit, especially in overpriced restaurant desserts. Let’s just say I’ve had too many bad experiences spanning from too-tart and unripe to utterly juiceless and flavorless. I’d much rather wait a week or two until the farmers market berries are deep red, plump, and gushing with sweetness. Then it’s time.

This year, while visiting Boston in the pre-humid days of early June, I took a risk ordering a “first of the season” strawberry-topped ricotta tart at Mistral Bistro. And for once, it paid off.

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From the decadent filling of creamy ricotta, infused with what I originally thought was thyme but have now come to believe was lavender, to the juicy strawberry topping drizzled in local honey, the dessert was one to remember. And to recreate. (more…)

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