Sunday, September 25, 2011

Green Tomato Jam

I've come to the sad realization that my curiosities have missed canning season and my hopes of stocking up on jars upon jars of colorful jam to have through fall and winter have been smushed.

But, the good news is that I've finally got the kahunas to open up that jar of green tomato jam that I've been saving for who-knows-what.  I just really love the story behind this particular jam and all the confettura that come from this monastery just outside of Rome.  Made by Trappist nuns, their jams are sweet and capture the essence of the starring fruit--in this case, green tomatoes.

I've been using this sweet, sweet jam on everything from buttered toast, to dolloped on top of cheese, to grilled poultry--it's fantastic on all the previously stated and I'm in the process of discovering more tasty vehicles for this crazy colored jam.

If you ever come across this gem, I suggest you snatch up a jar.  In fact, I have just the place for you to get your hands on this GREEN TOMATO JAM.  With Thanksgiving coming up, I'm thinking of using this a replacement for cranberry sauce.  Doesn't sound to shabby, huh?

Rain Coast Crisps, Asiago, Speck, bruschetta toasts, and green tomato jam.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hog and Rocks

Two of my favorite things under one roof.

Well this is long over due but I love this place so much that I thought I'd share some pictures anyways.


Ham from all over the U.S.  Yes! The U.S.  I was so surprised at how deliciously savory these hams were and the quality was just amazing.  If no one told me these were made right here in the U.S. of A. I would have sworn these were Serano hams.

Duck hearts
We probably could have done without the duck hearts, I mean, this place is called 'Hog and Rocks' and that is what they do best.

I have a feeling I'll be going back real soon!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It's that time of year again.  The holidays are just around the corner and I'm already bookmarking all recipes I want to test and practice before I decide what to make for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year is a big deal for me because it's been one year since I graduated and I want to make this first year of holidays since I've officially moved back to the City a memorable one.  There are several things at the top of my menu list, one of them being paella.  Though I had been flirting with the idea for a while, I didn't seriously look into a paella pan until more recently.

And well, I finally did it.  I purchased a paella pan with all the ingredients for a great paella and I could not be happier!  

About a month ago, I became obsessed with paella after having for the first time in years and then after watching an episode of Avec Eric  I thought to myself "Alright, I'm getting a paella pan!".  So what's been the hold up?  Well, I thought it would just be as easy as that--buy a paella pan.  But it wasn't.  There are carbon steel pans, stainless steel pans, and enamel coated carbon steel pans--I had no idea what the differences were other than their prices and I'm pretty particular when it comes to choosing kitchenware.  My head was spinning.

So after some research and asking around, I was pointed in the direction of The Spanish Table in Berkeley.  It was love at first site.  If you're ever in the mood for making tapas or paella this is your one stop shop.  After stepping one foot in the door, The Spanish Table became one of my favorite specialty food/ kitchenware stores around.  I was so impressed by their selection.  They have everything from paella pans, to Jamon Iberio, to canned fish, to Spanish wines, to all the fixings for an amazing Spanish inspired meal in--they seriously have it all.

It might be helpful to mention what type of pan settled on.  I bought an enameled carbon steel pan that supposedly feeds 4 but according to the guy at the shop, it means "four Spaniards"  which roughly translates to 6-7 servings for us.  The reason I chose the enameled one was because the stainless steel was far too pricey and two of the workers at The Spanish Table recommended either the carbon steel or the enameled pans.  The carbon steel pan, as it turns out, is a lot like a cast iron skillet or a wok where you have to season it after each use and it easily rusts if it comes into contact with water for long periods of time.  The enameled, on the other hand, can be soaked in water after each use and does not need to be seasoned.  They both supposedly come out with the same quality of paella.  So, knowing me, I chose the one with the easiest clean up. 

Eric Ripert makes paella look easy.  He really does.  But let me tell you, it definitely takes some practice.  Although I have to say that this first attempt at making paella was not too shabby, though I will have to make it several more times before I get it just the way I like it.  This time around I didn't follow Ripert's ingredient list exactly because of the limited amount of time I had to grocery shop today but I thought I'd give you his entire recipe here anyways so that you can make it the way he did.

Recipe via Avec Eric:


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ pound chorizo, sliced ¼-inch
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tablespoon saffron
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cups short grain rice
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups green peas
1 pound striped bass fillet, cut
   into 8 pieces
18 large shrimp, peeled and
1 pound mussels, rinsed and
   beards removed
2 dozen cockles, scrubbed
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled
   and cut into ¼-inch julienne
¼ cup chopped parsley
- paprika
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges


Place an 18-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, ad chorizo and render the sausage. Add the onions, garlic, saffron and turmeric and sweat until just softened. Add the rice, stir to coat and lightly toast the rice for about 3 minutes.
Add chicken stock and stir to combine. Cook for 15 minutes adding more water as necessary to keep the rice moist. Stir in the peas and add the striped bass and shrimp to the rice, making sure each piece is slightly buried in the rice. Cook the paella for another 4 to 5 minutes until the shrimp and fish start to turn opaque. Add the mussels and cockles with the hinge sides down, so they can easily open and place the peppers around the pan like spokes on a bicycle. Cover with foil and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until the mussels and clams open.
Uncover and sprinkle with chopped parsley, paprika and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Ripert's recipe does not call for this but the people at The Spanish Table said that you can finish it off in the oven also if your rice is cooked through and there's not enough liquid for your seafood to cook.


Friday, September 9, 2011


I've taken a curiosity to canning after spending an entire afternoon on Marisa's blog Food In Jars.  If you've never been, I seriously suggest you visit.  It's only fair that I warn you, days if not weeks, will be lost browsing through her site of intriguing jams, preserves, and pickle recipes.  I've always flirted with the idea of making fruit preserves or perhaps even pickled peppers of some sort but it all seems so intimidating what with sanitizing, making the perfect brine, creating the most amazing combination of flavors and so forth.  But after looking through all of her unique recipes and the impresiveness of others' collections, my curiosity has been sparked yet again. 

In addition to Paella this weekend (finally going to pick up a pan and some saffron, and am so excited!), I predict that there may be some end of summer canning coming my way as well.  Though I'm afraid I might have missed the best batches of sweet summer fruit...

(all photos via Food in Jars)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doggy Birthday

To kick off today's post is Kona!  Today is his seventh birthday and I stopped by this cute little dog shop in Alameda called Dog Bone Alley to pick up some wheat, corn, and soy free organic birthday treats.  
Kona has a sensitive stomach so these treats are perfect for him!

Birthday cookie and cannoli.

He was skeptical at first...but I think he enjoyed it in the end.  The birthday cookie smelled a lot like a gingerbread cookie with a yogurt icing--I was tempted to take a bite.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why, Hello there.

Yes, I've been gone yet again and I gravely apologize.  I've been busy with a thing called l-i-f-e but now that I've gotten things sorted out (for the most part) I'm back!  Aren't you glad I left you with a recipe though?

Instead of starting from the beginning, I thought we'd work our way backwards.  I spent this past weekend on a little Labor Day road trip with my family.  It was a trip that I had been debating about whether or not I should go on since my work load has been pretty heavy these last couple of days (yay!), but they promised me good barbecue in exchange for me being the cheerleader at their bowling tournament, so I relented.

After several, and by several I mean practically all that I've attended, failed festivals and cook-offs I was less than excited to go to another...especially in 85+ degree scorching heat.  But just say the word "pork" and I'll start wagging my tail uncontrollably.

To my surprise the Nugget Rib Cook-Off 2011 in Reno was fantastic!  Though it was incredibly hot, I had no trouble weaving my way through the small crowds of people to get to the best ribs, brisket, and array of barbecue sauces.  Finger-lickin' good.  Not to mention, my mom made the perfect tasting partner--four hands grabbing food and fresh squeezed lemonade are better than two!  Though the likelihood of us going back next year is slim, this was one cook-off that I can actually say I enjoyed.

My mom and I are suckers for roast corn, so our first stop was here, at the roast corn stall.

I was excited to see that Famous Daves was participating in the cook-off.  Though the ribs were a little dry and not fall-off-the-bone as expected, the sauces were really addictive.

The selection of Famous Dave's sauces from tangy and sweet to xxx-spicy.

 I was so impressed and relieved that they had plenty of shaded seating for us right next to Famous Dave's stall.

We got a little insider tip from a veteran Nugget Rib Cook-Off goer that this year, Checkered Pig had the best ribs.
I can't say for sure if they were the best ribs there, but they sure as hell were better than Dave's!

He also pointed us in the direction of Kinder's for the best barbecue sauce so we took our Checkered Pig ribs and trekked across the cook-off in search of Kinder's. 

Of course, we weren't going to stand in line just for a few squirts of barbecue sauce.  We also ordered a brisket sandwich.  I'm usually skeptical about brisket because too often have I had a dry, tough, flavorless brisket plus, I'm honestly not a huge fan of sandwiches.  But again, I was not let down.  Kinder's sweet roasted garlic barbecue sauce on top of moist, chopped brisket, shoveled between two airy buns turned out to be the trifecta of awesome.

Did this cook-off change my impression of cook-offs?  No.  I won't be prancing around excitedly looking for another cook-off or food festival to go to anytime soon.  But I will say that this is, by far, the best one that I've been to.  And if ever I had to attend another cook-off, it would be this one.

To go off on a little side tangent, I thought I'd just share the other half of the rib cook-off day with you since I was also caught off guard by how amazing La Strada at Eldorado was.

Let's set the record straight.  I hate over-priced hotel casino food.  The fact that they would sell you low quality, poorly executed food for over $20 is absolutely ridiculous!  I can't tell you how many times I've protested and cringed when my parents suggest that we eat at a hotel restaurant out of convenience when we all know that we're going to regret it.

But seeing as how buffets have taken a steep turn for the worse, we ventured away to try the Italian restaurant in Eldorado.  Can you imagine how skeptical I was?  Italian hotel restaurant with food priced above $20 per entree.  I was about ready to shoot myself.

Needless to say, they proved me wrong.  I didn't even feel like I was in Reno anymore.  The food was great, the prices were decent for the portion sizes and quality, and the atmosphere was nothing you'd imagine from this part of Nevada.  I am impressed, Eldorado.  Bravo.

Spinach and arugula salad.

Catch of the day: Grouper with lemon caper sauce on a bed of polenta

Dried porcini and saffron risotto with sweet Italian sausage

Seafood linguine in white wine sauce.

I'd say this was a successful little getaway to Reno.

Now I'm off to my own warm bed to finally watch Sideways.  Has anyone else seen it?