Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monthly micro-batch: pineapple guava sorbet

I know most of you are in the middle of snow storms and such, but seriously, pineapple guava is still in the farmers market here in San Francisco. I know it's not fair, but it's true. This fruit is a lot of fun to eat all by itself - just bite of the end and squeeze and suck the luscious center out. But I also thought it would make a tasty, refreshing sorbet. It's light and slightly tropical, so it serves as the perfect foil to all the rich foods of the season.


  • 1 C ripe pineapple guava innards
  • 1 C fresh ginger ale

To get the most out of this fruit, you need to roll it on the countertop to soften it up.

Then chop the top off and squeeze the pulp out, scooping out the center.

Once you've got about a cup of pulp add the ginger ale. I used the Alton Brown recipe for ginger ale. I find it to be a little light on the ginger, but a little more subtle than using lemonade that most sorbet recipes call for.

Add about a cup of ginger ale and watch it bubble!!! Blend it up till smooth. If you don't like bits of guava, you should probably strain, otherwise throw it straight into the ice cream maker.

Process in the ice cream maker till thick and then finish in the freezer.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Freerange Thanksgiving

Pretty much the first thing I did after we secured a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco was to invite my sister to Thanksgiving. Granted, it was still May, but I had never had my sister and her family to my house for any holiday because they always lived in California and I lived in Massachusetts. And once they agreed to come, it was a pretty easy sell to get the rest of the family here.

Of course, it should be apparent to most anyone who has ever perused this blog that I love food and I love cooking food for the people in my life. So it's no surprise that I would plan so far ahead for the one holiday, above all others, that celebrates food. Yes, I know, the holiday is about giving thanks, but when the pilgrims sat down to give thanks that very first time, it wasn't because they had a shiny car or a high profile job or even love in their lives - it was that they were able to survive. And they survived with the help of the Native Americans who taught them how to grow and harvest food.

In honor of this foodie holiday, I tried to embrace the modern day equivalents of the lessons learned in 1621.

Enjoying the bountiful harvest
Of course, I'm always writing about whatever beautiful things are in season and this was no different. I tried to serve mostly foods that were harvested locally. Certainly there were a few essentials (cranberries, marshmallows, and the hot dogs which proved the staple of my nephew's diet) that were not local or in season, but almost everything from the pumpkins to the turkey were fresh from my local farmer's market or from other local purveyors.

The best part of buying locally was the ability to go back to the market the next week and tell one farmer how everyone raved about his garnet yams and the other farmer how he was right that his red bliss potatoes were perfect for mashed potatoes.

Food, like the weather, is something we all instinctually talk about. While we usually complain about the weather, with food it's almost always a positive conversation. Now what better way to give thanks than to actually thank the farmers who bring you the food?

Working hard for our food
Farmers aren't the only ones who put effort and love into their food. And with just a little extra effort, you can end up with better tasting food and more oohs and aahs from your guests. You'll also end up with less packaging waste. Some of the things that I made from scratch included the potatoes for the sweet potato casserole, the pumpkin and evaporated milk for the pumpkin pie, and the stock and bread for the stuffing and noodles.

None of this was difficult to make, they just took a little more planning to make sure I had time to boil down four cups of milk into two or bake the bread to let it get stale. 

And this was just the food that would typically come from cans. That didn't include the handmade noodles, pie crusts, ice cream, whipped cream, and cranberry sauce. All of these dishes used old family recipes, kept alive and celebrated on this day.

Sharing the love
My niece is at the age where she wants to help in the kitchen. Aside from the turkey, she was able to help with every dish that we made. This allowed her to be a part of the fun, but it also allowed us to share our love of food and love of each other with her.

But we didn't just have the family - we also invited a few friends over. It was fun to see what foods they brought to share. Sure, when I was hectically running around the kitchen at the last minute trying to make sure the turkey was done, yelling at anyone in my way, I wasn't thrilled to have so many cooks in my kitchen. But when we all sat down to the gorgeous and delicious meal, cooked with help from almost everyone at the table (and I'm counting the moral support of keeping me company as I cried while chopping onions for the stuffing), it was all worth it.

Thanks everyone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Spaghetti squash pancakes with olive and chard pesto

As a person who tries not to waste food, it always bums me out when I don't get proportions right and end up having to throw something out. That happened to me the other night when I made eggplant parm with spaghetti squash.

I ended up with leftover egg wash, flour dredge, and squash. Why not put them all together?

The resultant pancakes are great on their own, served with applesauce and sour cream (like potato pancakes), or with a snazzy pesto.


  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1/4 C red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 spaghetti squash
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 C cooking oil (you can use leftover oil from the eggplant)
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C olives
  • pepper
  • 1/2 C ricotta cheese

Mix the leftover egg and flour. Add another egg and the spaghetti squash. Add the flour gradually to get the batter to the consistency of pancake batter.

Add the chopped onions and mix completely.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a smal pan. When a drop of water sizzles in the oil, gently drop a large spoonful of the batter in the oil. After about a minute, flip the pancake over. Cook on both sides till they are golden brown.

Saute the chard in olive oil till wilted and dark green. Put the chard in the blender with the olives, garlic, and pepper. Blend till chunky. To serve, put a bit of ricotta on a pancake and the pesto on top of the cheese.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sweet black olives and pasta

Friends have been telling me to go to the Alemany Farmer's Market for weeks now and I finally made the treck down to Bernal Heights to check it out. It is definitely a lot bigger than the one I'm used to, but for the most part it had a lot of the same veggies that I get each week. However, I did find something new and exciting. I found a farmer who was selling fresh olives, which I got a few pounds of to cure at home. But he and his wife also convinced me to try some sweet black olives. The way he described them, to be eaten "with a glass of nice, red wine" I just couldn't resist.

While most olives you must cure to remove the bitterness and to soften them up, these you can actually eat raw. They have the consistency of a grape, but with more of an olive flavor. When you open it up, you can see the soft flesh and thin skin. It's so easy to saute these plump purple orbs - when they burst open, they're ready. Also, I was told that they freeze well, so what you don't use immediately, you can freeze to use later in the year.

I made a simple pasta sauce with some tomatoes and garlic, but you could also add some greens like kale, chard, or arugula and top with some grated cheese.


  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 C washed sweet olives
  • 4 small tomatoes (I used early girls)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 C white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 servings of fresh pasta

Heat the olive oil over medium high and add the garlic. Cook till it starts to turn translucent.

Add the olives to the pan, stirring frequently.

When the olives start to pop open, add the tomatoes, lemon juice, and white wine. Season with salt and pepper. Add a few cups of pasta water to the sauce to make a nice gravy.

Serve over fresh pasta. Add a tad more salt and pepper.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Roasted tomatillo salsa

I'm a native Floridian, so the odd, husk-covered tomato thing called a tomatillo is not foreign to me. They're not something I see every day though, so when I do, I definitely buy them, in large quantities.

You can use them for a lot of things. Cut them up and put them in salads, for example. I will sometimes put them in guacamole instead of diced tomato, which is fun because then it's all green (also handy since my boyfriend doesn't like tomatoes). They're brite and crisp and not really at all like the texture of a tomato.

The best use for them is salsa - not only is the salsa delicious, but you can also can it and have a taste of tomatillo throughout the year.


  • 2 lb tomatillo, shucked
  • 2-4 jalapeno or cayenne (or your pepper of choice), chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Either on the stovetop or in an oven at 425ºF, char the tomatillos till their black on two sides. This is not a required step, but it helps to give a little softness to the flavors.

Chop the peppers and garlic coarsely. Use the seeds if you'd like a little extra spice. I like using red peppers, like cayenne, because it adds a little more visual dimension to the salsa.

Add all the ingredients to the blender or food processor. If you're using a blender, you may need to add a bit of water to make it all come together. However, there should be enough liquid from the cooked tomatillos.

When fully blended, you can serve. Or you can cook on medium high for about 20 minutes and then process for 15 minutes in a canner for storage. This makes about 3 pints.