Wednesday, August 31, 2005 

In honor of my beloved Nawhlins

I'm just devestated...simply devestated. My heart breaks watching the ruin of one of the world's greatest cities for food and fun.

New Orleans Pralines
(pronounced praw-leens)

1/4 stick of butter
1-1/2 cups light or dark brown sugar(firmly packed)
1-1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups pecan halves
dash of salt

Combine brown and white sugars, milk and salt in a heavy saucepan and stir over medium heat. Cook and stir until candy thermometer inserted in syrup mixture reaches 230 degrees OR until a drop of the hot mixture placed in a cup of ice cold water forms a soft ball. If using "soft ball" method, it is better to cook the mixture too long than not long enough.

When ready, turn off stove and let cool until the candy thermometer reaches 200 degrees OR until the mixture begins to get cloudy. Stir in butter, vanilla and pecans.

Drop by spoonfuls about the size of a cookie onto a buttered surface or aluminum foil, making sure there are pecans in each spoonful. The syrup will spread, then harden to a crusty, cloudy consistency.

If the syrup hardens in the pot or forms a crust on the sides, simply warm it up on the stove.

You can find many more recipes for pralines at As you eat them, remember the joy and wonder of the city that is New Orleans.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 

East Beach Grill

east beach grill
east beach grill,
originally uploaded by
santa barbarian.

One of the places to go eat while in Santa Barbara.

They don't have'll just have to order up some of ours, but they do have some great pancakes.

Monday, August 29, 2005 

A Local Butcher

my local butcher's sign
my local butcher's sign,
originally uploaded by ratterrell.
braves the hurricane with humour....


Our Thoughts Go Out to Nawhlins

and our beloved Cafe du Monde.

The Great Tradition of Beignets and Café au Lait

In 1782 Spanish colonists established the trading area on the banks of the Mississippi River that we now know as the New Orleans French Market. From the beginning this market housed coffee stands. Coffee vendors were the elite of the merchants but got along well with the ethnic and social mix of customers who drank coffee throughout the business day. By the early 1800's, the custom of taking coffee at the French Market had spread throughout New Orleans society. The French Market's corner coffee stand opened in the 1830's and continues to operate today in the same location. From its inception, this coffee stand served up the typical strong coffee of the day and its soon to be famous beignets.

It is believed that the Ursuline Nuns of France, who came to Louisiana in 1727, brought this simple pastry to New Orleans. The recipe remains the same to this day. The beignets are hand rolled and deep fried then covered with heaping amounts of powdered sugar. By the mid 1800's beignets had become a welcome treat for all social classes at all hours of the day.

As is still the tradition, beignets were most often enjoyed with café au lait. In New Orleans, café au lait is strong dark roast coffee and chicory, served with equal part hot milk. In the early history of Louisiana, chicory was added to coffee to stretch dwindling supplies. It was found that, in addition to stretching supplies, the chicory also created a smoother, richer brew. The addition of hot milk to strong coffee and chicory created one of the oldest and greatest coffee traditions in the world.

Today New Orleans' locals refer to beignets simply as doughnuts. When you hear a native talking about "going for doughnuts and coffee," he or she is not referring to a trip to Krispy Kreme, but to a tradition unique to the Crescent City.As this tradition approaches its 200th year, beignets and café au lait have become symbolic of the old world charm of New Orleans and the French Quarter.

Saturday, August 27, 2005 

Here's the only Hurricane...

We want to see in Nawhlins...

Hurricane Drink Recipe

2 ounces amber rum
1/4 cup passion fruit juice, or 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon grenadine
Juice of 1/2 lime
Cherries and orange slice to garnish
Ice cubes

In a cocktail shaker mix the rum, passion fruit juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add the grenadine, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Add the ice cubes and shake. Strain Hurricane into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange and cherries. Yield: 1 serving

Interesting tidbits of the origin of this famous drink:

The creation of this passion-colored relative of a Daiquiri drink is credited to Pat O'Brien. He is reported to have invented the Hurricane in the 1940s in New Orleans. Rumors say he needed to get rid of all the rum that Southern distributors forced him to buy before he could get a few cases of other spirits. He poured the concocosion into hurricane-lamp-shaped glasses and gave it away to sailors. The drink caught on, and it's been part of the celebration ever since.

Pat O'Brien operated a speakeasy during prohibition known as, "Mr. O'Brien's Club Tipperary". The password to get in was, "storm's brewin'". In 1933, after the repeal of prohibition, he moved across the street, opened Pat O'Briens, and later down to the present location at 718 St. Peter, in the French Quarter. During W.W.II, it was difficult to get whiskey, but rum was in ample supply. With the help of the liquor salesman, this cocktail was born. It is served in a 26 oz. Hurricane glass, which is named after the shape of a hurricane lamp and the drink.

Friday, August 26, 2005 

Happy Chef Blogging Friday....

I'm still up in Santa Barbara. cookies will be baking soon!

Friday, August 19, 2005 

Happy Chef Blogging Friday!

Meet the Minimalist...Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman is a highly regarded food journalist, cookbook author and culinary aficionado who tries to help his audience simply prepare good food. His regular column, "
The Minimalist," runs weekly in the Food section of The New York Times and he has written articles for magazines and newspapers including The New York Times Magazine, Eating Well, Food & Wine, Saveur, Martha Stewart Living, Self, American Health, and Cook's Illustrated, where he was executive editor. He has also made many broadcast appearances, including feature interviews on CNN, The Food Network, QVC, NPR and Lifetime Television. His new television series on PBS, "How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America's Chefs," began this spring(

He's written a number of
great cookbooks. The Minimalist Cooks at Home. The Minimalist Entertains. The Minimalist Cooks Dinner. Simple to Spectacular: How to Take One Basic Recipe to Four Levels of Sophistication (with Jean-Georges Vongerichten) and the one I refer to all the time, How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food.

And, surprisingly, he never "trained" as a chef.

Despite his evangelical passion, Bittman is not a classically trained chef. "I've never trained, but I can't say that anymore. I've never formally trained. I've never worked in a restaurant. That's true. But I just did two books with Jean-Georges Vongerichten..." "So in a way I've trained with the best.

A series of unrelated jobs -- from cab driver to radical community organizer -- saw Bittman move from New York to Massachusetts and back again, with the only connecting thread in his life being the food he increasingly enjoyed preparing. He did not, however, aspire to chefdom. "I wanted to write." And not about food. "What I really wanted to write about was politics because, after all, I knew how to fix everything. But, for some reason, no one wanted to listen to me."

A stint of stringing for various newspapers and magazines saw him covering everything from politics and labor to home repairs and the death of nuclear reactors. While Bittman was earning his bread -- as it were -- as a writer, he didn't feel he'd really found his niche. That changed when he started writing about food. "It was all sort of an immediate success. It worked. The column in The New York Times was suggested to me, but I'd been writing for 20 years by then." - from
January Magazine

Listen to his interview on NPR regarding BBQ.


Crackers are ridiculously easy to make, and once you produce your first batch you'll have little trouble figuring out how to create your favorites. Sprinkle them with salt, sesame seeds, or poppy seeds; work a tiny bitof garlic or herbs into the dough; or substitute whole wheat or rye flour for some or all of the white flour.

Yield: about 4 servings

1 cup (about 4 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
About 1/4 cup water, plus more as need

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the flour, salt, and butter together in a large bowl or in the container of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend with a fork or pulse, until the flour and butter are combined. Add about 1/4 cup of water and blend, then continue to add water until the mixture holds together but is not sticky.
3. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 inch thick, or even less. Don't worry about overhandling-add flour as needed, and keep rolling. Score lightly with a sharp knife or razor if you want to break these into nice squares or rectangles later on. Bake on a lightly floured baking sheet, or directly on baking stones, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on a rack; serve warm or at room temperature , or store in a tin.

From How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 

Newspaper Food Section Wednesday

We venture off to the "Mile High City" of the Denver Post today.
Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is one of America's most beautiful cities. And one of the most fun. Blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year, Denver is a lively city with a great love of the outdoors. Here you'll find the nation's largest city park system, 90 golf courses and an incredible 650 miles of paved bike trails. But Denver is also a cultural and sophisticated city.

Denver has the tenth largest downtown in the U.S. - a bustling area centered around a mile-long pedestrian promenade that is lined with outdoor cafes and flower baskets. Down every street there are mountain views. The mountain panorama visible from Denver is 120 miles long and includes nearly 200 named peaks. Downtown Denver is home to three new sports stadiums, 300 restaurants, a restored historic district filled with 90 bars and brewpubs, a collection of museums, a variety of galleries and shopping, the second largest performing arts center in the nation, three college campuses and even a unique downtown amusement park, Six Flags Elitch Gardens. - Denver Convention & Visitors Bureau

And, being so high up, they have their baking challenges. Some handy hints...

At altitudes higher than 3500 feet, the air pressure is lower so liquid evaporates faster.
Most baked goods (leavened with baking powder or baking soda, not yeast) will be improved by making one or more of the following adjustments:

  • Increase temperature (25ºF)
  • Increase liquid
  • Decrease leavening
  • Decrease sugar
  • Pound cakes and other rich cakes benefit from reduced amounts of fat.
  • Quick breads and cookies require the fewest adjustments.
  • Yeast bread dough rises more rapidly and can overrise easily, so let dough rise for a shorter time.
  • Because flour dries out more quickly, too, use the minimum amount called for in a recipe, or use 1/4 to 1/2 cup less than the total amount.
  • Boiled candy and cooked frostings (sugar mixtures) become concentrated more rapidly because of the faster evaporation of water. Watch cooking closely to prevent scorching.
  • Reduce recipe temperature by 2°F for every 1000 feet of elevation.
  • If you are new to high-altitude cooking, you can contact your local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Extension Service office (look in your local telephone book under county government).
  • Check out "Pie in the Sky" - sucessful baking at high altitudes.

“Susan G. Purdy’s high altitude baking bookshould be standard NASA equipment.”
Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot

To keep the texture creamy, this cake is baked like a custard, in a water bath that guarantees gentle heat. At 3,000 feet and above, water takes longer to boil, and evaporates quickly. To get enough heat to the center of the batter to bake it properly, put a pan of just-boiled water in the oven to keep it very hot while you prepare the batter. By the time the batter is made, the water will be hot enough to transmit sufficient heat. Keep a kettle of extra water boiling during baking time, to replace any that evaporates (usually only at 10,000 feet).

From Susan Purdy's "Pie in the Sky," this recipe is for 5,000 feet and makes a 9-inch single layer cake that serves 10-12.

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or coffee
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) almond slices

Special Equipment
9-by-1 1/2-inch round metal cake pan
Roasting pan large enough to hold cake pan in water bath
Baking parchment or wax paper
2 flat plates or 9-inch cardboard cake disks covered with aluminum foil

Place rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. At 3,000 feet and above, place the large roasting pan in the oven and pour in boiling water to a depth of no more than 1/2 inch. Coat cake pan with butter or solid shortening and line bottom with wax paper or baking parchment.

(Note: If you don't have a food processor, prepare batter in a double boiler: melt chocolate with butter, whisk in separately cooked sugar-water-coffee syrup, then whisk in lightly beaten eggs. Bake as directed.)

Put chopped chocolate in the work bowl of the food processor and process about 60 seconds, until reduced to a fine powder.

In a small saucepan on medium heat, stir water, sugar and coffee powder until sugar and coffee dissolve. Bring syrup to the point where you see little bubbles around the edges, just before it reaches a full boil (it can boil over easily, so watch carefully). This can take 3-4 minutes at sea level, longer at higher altitudes. Remove pan from heat.

With processor running, slowly pour hot sugar syrup through feed tube onto powdered chocolate. Process about 10 seconds to melt all the chocolate. Stop machine and scrape down work bowl with a flexible spatula. Pulse a few seconds more.

With machine running, add tablespoon-size bits of soft butter through feed tube 2 at a time, letting them melt completely (about 20 seconds) before adding more.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 

After 6 Months....A New White House Chef

and a woman at that!

After first lady Laura Bush fired the White House executive chef in February, a group of female chefs and restaurateurs sent her a letter urging her to do what no other first lady has done -- name a woman to the position.

Yesterday she did just that, selecting Cristeta Comerford, a 10-year veteran of the White House kitchen, as the new executive chef.

...Bonnie Moore, a former assistant chef at the Inn at Little Washington who is president of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, a national group that had urged Mrs. Bush to name a woman, said Comerford's appointment "sends a message around the world. Women make up more than 50 percent of food service workers, but hold less than 4 percent of the top jobs. And this is the top job." Comerford, a 42-year-old naturalized citizen originally from the Philippines, will also be the first representative of a minority group to hold the post of executive chef. -



Not Joseph Schmidt, too....

Hershey Company, the nation's largest candy company, on Monday said it acquired a premium chocolate maker
Joseph Schmidt Confections Inc. and completed its purchase of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker Inc.

The combined purchase price for deals is valued at between $46.6 million and $61.1 million, with the final amount reflecting actual sales growth through 2007, Hershey said. Together, the companies have combined annual sales of about $25 million. -

Monday, August 15, 2005 

Day to Day had a Cupcake Story Today

I told you cupcakes were hot, hot, hot!
The Unger Report - By Brian Unger

California Catches the New York Cupcake Craze

Day to Day, August 15, 2005 · - The Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan has long set the standard for world-class cupcakes. But as Brian Unger reports, a Beverly Hills boutique called Sprinkles is also selling cupcakes like, well, like hotcakes -- and to a generally anti-carbohydrate California crowd.
Found a NYTimes Article from 2003 on cupcakes, too...(check out their fabu audio slide show!)

Chalk it all up to cupcakes. In New York, cupcakes are not lopsided school-bake-sale affairs. They are art, they are fashion, they are a tourist attraction and they can be big business. The Magnolia brings in over $40,000 a week from cupcakes alone.

$40,000 a week? Dang...that's some "frosting"


Makes 24 cupcakes

1 (18.25 oz) box cake mix or 1 recipe for 2 (8-inch) round layer cakes
1 (16-oz) can white frosting or 2 cups of your favorite white frosting,
24 small rubber ducks

Note: For best results use a stiff frosting. You can also try refrigerating frosting just before piping.

Line muffin tins with muffin cups. Prepare batter according to directions on box. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full. Bake according to package directions. Cool cupcakes for 5 minutes before removing from muffin tins to cool completely on a wire rack.

When cupcakes have cooled, spread with a layer of frosting and top with rubber ducks. Next, place remaining frosting in a decorating bag and fit with a small round tip. Alternately, fill a resealable bag with frosting and snip the tip from one of the corners. Pipe small "bubbles" around and onto duck.

Sunday, August 14, 2005 

Cupcakes are hot, hot, hot

I love the images of the cupcakes from the Cupcake Cafe I have seen on the web.

I have glanced through the Cupcake Cookbook and was a little disappointed. With all the loveliness of the cupcakes they create there are very few photos. Talk about missing out on a great opportunity to showcase one's product.

The recipes in the book are not getting rave reviews and they seem to me to be a little on the "overly buttery" side...

But, the cafe has inspired the cupcake to come out from it's Hostess history and break free into it's own delightful place in the world of desserts.

Los Angeles has a few places that want to give the Cupcake Cafe a run for their money here on the "left coast" . I have not personally taste tested, else I would never be able to fit into my clothes, but if you have a chance to venture out...look for:

Leda's Bake Shop
13722 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA - Mod. Mini. Marvelous. Flavors such as espresso buttercream, chocolate raspberry and carrot with blood orange filling have patrons emptying display cases long before closing.

Joan's on Third
8350 W Third St, Los Angeles, CA - Creamy coconut confections for the cupcake-aholics.

Sprinkles Cupcakes
9635 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA - Apparently cupcakery bakery to the stars. 20 mouthwatering kinds including pumpkin and peanut butter and chocolate.

Back Door Bakery
1710 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA - If you love Hostess cupcakes, you'll love their humongous homemade treats with modern takes such as raspberry filling and white chocolate frosting swirls.

Auntie Em's Kitchen
4616 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA - Large red velvet and coconut cupcakes. Lines form up for them.


Macadamia White Chocolate Chip

You getting hungry, yet?

Click HERE for more...

Friday, August 12, 2005 

Happy Chef Blogging Friday!

Meet the Border Gals! Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, two too hot tamales!

The talents of Mary Sue Susan are in much demand, which keeps them busy, busy, busy.

They run their restaurant
Border Grill in Santa Monica, which is consistently ranked among L.A.'s top 40 restaurants by the L.A. Times and has also been named "One of the Best Restaurants in America," by Gourmet Magazine. Los Angeles Magazine called Border Grill, "arguably the most serious Mexican food in town." In 1996, it was awarded Restaurants & Institutions Magazine's prestigious IVY Award. There's also a new Border Grill in Vegas at the Mandalay.

They run another restaurant,
Ciudad. The new restaurant on the block in downtown Los Angeles, features the bold, seductive flavors and foods of the Latin world, from Havana to Rio and Buenos Aires, and across the Atlantic to Lisbon and Barcelona.

They have a booth at the
Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.

Their Border Girl products are available at
Whole Foods Markets.

They spice up Sunday mornings with Food Talk - Red Hot Tamale Talk, their weekly radio show. From 9 am to 11 am on KFI 640AM in Southern California.

They have an
online newsletter.

They have authored four cookbooks: Cooking With Too Hot Tamales, (William Morrow, 1997) offers all the recipe highlights, tricks, tips and photos from their TV show; Cantina, (Sunset, 1996) is part of a Sunset Books series entitled "Casual Cuisines of the World;" Mesa Mexicana (1994) is already in its second printing; and City Cuisine (1989) was nominated for best cookbook by Cooks Magazine.

Each began their cooking careers in high school (Mary Sue in Michigan, Susan in Ohio). Their paths first crossed in 1978 at Chicago's distinguished Le Perroquet, as the first women ever to work in the prestigious kitchen. Feniger went on to California to work with Wolfgang Puck at Ma Maison. They met again in France where Milliken worked at Restaurant d'Olympe in Paris, and Feniger at L'Oasis, a three star restaurant on the French Riviera. They knew even then they would work together some day.

Upon their reunion in Los Angeles in 1981, the two opened the tiny City Cafe on Melrose Avenue with only enough kitchen space for a hotplate. They quickly outgrew the little cafe. With the opening of spacious CITY restaurant (1985-1994), Milliken and Feniger changed the culinary landscape of Los Angeles forever. CITY's eclectic cuisine seasoned by their formal training and influenced by travels to Thailand, India, Mexico, and other exotic locales, delighted the palates of Los Angeles restaurant goers and food critics alike. This was followed by the opening of Border Grill, (the first location was on Melrose Avenue, 1985-1991, and the second and present location on 4th Street in Santa Monica, opened in 1990) which was named one of the forty best restaurants by the LA Times, and one of the best restaurants in America by Gourmet Magazine. Border Grill was honored with Restaurants & Institutions Magazine's prestigious IVY Award 1997.

Milliken and Feniger are active board members of many culinary associations, including a founding role in Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, which fosters the careers of women in restaurants, and Chef's Collaborative 2000, which advocates the use of sustainably grown products in the food service industry. They contribute real leadership and time to numerous charities, notably the Scleroderma Research Foundation, for which they have spearheaded a dinner/comedy event for the last nine years, repeatedly attracting comic legends like Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, and Ellen DeGeneres.

Milliken and Feniger's awards and honors are too numerable to list, but two in particular stand out in their trailblazing careers. In 1988, they were the first women ever to receive the California Restaurant Writer's prestigious "Chef of the Year" award. And in 1993, they were two of only sixteen Chefs, worldwide, to be invited to cook with the legendary
Julia Child in her PBS series "Home Cooking With Master Chefs."

Their days are spent reviewing menus, writing and testing recipes, researching and planning for their TV and radio shows, and managing a busy kitchen and administrative staff. But since Milliken and Feniger love best the interaction with their customers, they still take time to teach classes at their restaurant, and most nights find them visiting with patrons at the Border Grill.

and just in time for Sugar High Friday #11...featuring COFFEE.


Recipe from
Cooking with Too Hot Tamales,
by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (William Morrow, 1997)
Yield: 12 large or 20 small brownies

For cocktail parties, try cutting brownies into tiny bite-sized squares so everyone can leave the party happy, having had their sweet chocolate ending.

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons finely ground espresso beans
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Butter and flour a 9- x 12-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper. Combine the chocolate,butter, coffee, and salt in the top of a double boiler or bowl over simmering water. Cook until melted and smooth. Let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the melted chocolate mixture and whisk until well combined. Fold in the flour until it just disappears. Gently fold in the pecans. Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack 1 hour. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen and cut into squares. Lift out and transfer to serving dish or tin.

Thursday, August 11, 2005 

Keep the Chocolate Coming....

Good news for us chocoholics.....

Chocolate consumers will benefit from a research project in Britain aimed at improving cocoa production and tackling pests and diseases which wipe out up to one third of the world crop each year.

The Dutch government and a UK-based industry body have donated 1.4 million euros to the world's first ever study of cocoa epigenetics -- how the environment influences the plant's genes and how this changes over a tree's lifetime and under the effects of stresses such as disease and drought.

The University of Reading's School of Plant Sciences in the UK's south-east will use the money over five years to research the effects of changed growing conditions on genes for quality, yield and disease resistance to learn how to predict plants' adaptability to environmental change.

The research "will enable us to be more predictive about trees acting in certain places,"

Reading's Professor Mike Wilkinson said. "If we know which genes can adapt we can also say something about the physiological state of the plant, so that we can detect the symptoms of some diseases early on."

Most cocoa is grown in a narrow belt either side of the equator in West Africa, South America and Asia. -

Chocolate at the
The Exhibition
Chocolat (the movie)
Like Water for Chocolate (the movie)

Some of my favorite chocolates:
Barry Callebaut
Scharffen Berger (which has been purchased by Hershey...)
and how can you resist Mega M&M's

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 

Newspaper Food Section Wednesday

"Do you know the way to San Jose?"

Today we venture off the the Knight Ridder owned, San Jose Mercury News, the newspaper of "Silcon Valley" They actually cover a good portion of the Bay Area, ranging from Gilroy and Santa Cruz in the south to San Francisco in the north.

San Jose isn't just for Burt Bacharach songs and nerds anymore...A few fun facts:

Oldest civil settlement in California, founded in 1777
California's first capital (before it became an official state)
Once a thriving agricultural area in the early to mid 20th century
Northern California's Largest City - 2003 Population: 924,950
3rd Largest in California and the West Coast
11th Largest in United States
Safest Big City in America (500,000+) for three consecutive years
300 sunny days per year with an average annual temperature of 70 degrees
"California casual" is appropriate for daytime and most evening outings. A sweater or light jacket is suggested for evenings, with coats advisable for November through March
12 major airlines servicing nearly 200 daily non-stop flights from all major U.S. cities
Third Most Fun City in America by Cranium Inc.
2004 Recipient of America's Most Livable City Award by Partners for Livable Communities
Fifth Best Place to Live in America by Money Magazine
Safest Big City in America (population 500,000+) for three consecutive years by Morgan Quitno Press (based on FBI Crime Statistics)
Sunset Magazine described our downtown as an "eminently walkable area with level streets, balmy weather and well-marked attractions."
"The Epicenter of Silicon Valley" by

So today they had an interesting sounding scone recipe. I am a sucker for anything with ginger and this scone has an intriguing combination with cherries and coconut.


3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon salted butter
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/4 cup crystalized ginger, chopped
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
1 egg, mixed with 3 tablespoons water, optional

Sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, brown sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Cut cold butter into flour, working it into a mealy consistency. Add dried cherries, ginger and coconut to the flour mixture. Combine buttermilk and coconut extract separately, then add to dry ingredients and gently mix.

Turn dough onto floured surface, patting with floured hands until it holds together, handling as little as possible. Divide dough, shaping into 2 flattened circles 2 1/2 inches in height. Cut each round as you would a pie, into 6 wedges. Place wedges at least 2 1/2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Whisk egg and water together in small bowl, and brush scones with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, turning tray after 15 minutes. Scones should be golden brown on bottom. Cool on tray 10 minutes before handling or serving.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005 

Everything's Coming Up Rosie's

If you are not from the East Coast, you might never have heard of Rosie's in MA, but if you do travel back to New England, see if you can stop by for a nibble. But don't worry, you can always get the recipes to some of their goodies through Judy Rosenberg's books!

Rosie's Bakery All-Butter, Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed Baking Book

Rosie's Bakery - Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Hold-Barred, Cookie Book

I really haven't had a bad recipe from either of these, and she includes a bunch of great baking hints and tips. Info to eat up....literally.

The Soho Globs are one of the most popular...and if you take a look at what goes in them, you will understand why....they are jam packed with a ton of good stuff!


Yield: 20 servings

5 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, room temperature
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder, espresso
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease them lightly with butter or vegetable oil. Melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate and the butter in the top of a double boiler placed over simmering water (or melt in microwave). Allow to cool slightly.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder in a medium-size mixing bowl until they are mixed together, about 10 seconds.

Add the sugar to the egg mixture and blend it all until thick, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl. Add the melted chocolate and blend 1 minute more. Scrape the bowl. Add the flour mixture on low speed and mix until blended, 10 seconds. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts by hand or with the mixer on low speed. Drop the dough by generously rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake the cookies until they rise slightly and form a thin crust, about 13 minutes. Immediately remove the cookies from the cookie sheets and place them on a rack to cool.

Sunday, August 07, 2005 

Forget taking time to smell the flowers....

take time to sift through the flours!

There are so many different brands of
flours out there....I thought I would stop and look up the history a few of the most popular ones out there:


Gold Medal received its name on June 8, 1880, when the Washburn Crosby Company, predecessor to General Mills, Inc., entered the first International Millers' Exhibition and won the gold, silver and bronze medals on the three grades of spring wheat patent process flour. The gold medal was given to Washburn's Superlative flour, which is still a brand sold today in the Bakery Flour channel. After winning the award, Washburn Crosby began using "Gold Medal" as the brand name on the firm's best grade of flour, and on Aug. 19, 1880, the first flour was packed and shipped under that now-famous brand.

Gold Medal was one of the first food products to use premiums to attract consumers. Most often found in cereal boxes today, premiums began surfacing the 1920s with Gold Medal offering its consumers a free flour sack pin cushion. Washburn Crosby received thousands of responses in addition to hundreds of letters asking for cooking and baking advice. Washburn Crosby's advertising department created a fictional spokesperson to respond to these requests and called her Betty Crocker, using the last name of a retired company director by the name of Crocker.


In 1896, Mark Taylor, George Wood, and Orin Sands were the owners of a flour company with a 106-year legacy. Things were going smoothly until they became hung up on picking a name for their new flour. They needed to express the flour's premium characteristics—integrity, strength, reliability, and superior performance. They eventually chose King Arthur, a name so fitting it eventually stood for the company itself.

They take their flour very seriously in Norwich, VT. On the King Arthur website, they even have a
"Flour Philosophy" page.

If you can't make it to one of their traveling baking presentations (really worth it by the way...) they even have
online baking courses. You can't really go wrong with any of their cookie selections, either. They have a great cookie cookbook out that would be a great gift for any cook on your gift list...or for yourself!


Charles A. Pillsbury bought the Minneapolis Flour Mill in 1869, renovating it and converting it to the Pillsbury Mill. At the time, the mill was capable of producing 150 barrels of flour per day. C.A. Pillsbury & Co. was organized a year later. Immediately being profitable, the Pillsbury operation began to expand. Pillsbury began to make use of the latest processes for refining and purifying flour. His confidence in the fineness of his flour was demonstrated by his marking it (beginning in 1872) with four X's: at the time, the finest flour was described as XXX, but Pillsbury honestly believed his flour to be finer than the others. Customers made "Pillsbury's BEST" a household term.

Did you know...Pillsbury's
first baking contest was held in 1900?

Charles Pillsbury attended the 1900 Paris Exposition, which commenced in April. There were 76,000 exhibitors during the event, which attracted over fifty million people. Although the United States was not alloted any more space than the European nations, one goal of the American exhibit was to display for the first time the raw products, manufacturing processes, and finished products side by side. Pillsbury was awarded a gold medal in 1901 for their part in the exhibition.

This triumph was followed in 1904 by representation in the Saint Louis Exposition (World's Fair), where Pillsbury was awarded three grand prizes. Pillsbury had a small pamphlet prepared, which was handed out during the exhibition in St. Louis.

And, my favorite, The Pillsbury Doughboy, aka "Poppin' Fresh," made his television debut in a commercial for Pillsbury's crescent rolls. Within a few years, he highlighted the cover of the Bake-Off cookbook series.
Whoo Hooo!


Back in 1851, a pioneering Carl Hilmar Guenther crossed the Atlantic Ocean to begin a new life in the United States. Three years later, with both his milling experiences and dedication, he started what is now a multifaceted company with locations across the United States. For well over a century, White Lily has produced the premium flour that Southern cooks, well-recognized chefs and bakers stand by.

White Lily has been the "secret ingredient" of Southern baking for decades although the secret is now out world wide! The flour is still made today just as it was more than 120 years ago by using only pure, soft winter wheat. In production, White Lily receives extra grinding, sifting and purifying. These additional milling steps produce a flour that is finer, lighter and superior for baking.

This truly is the only flour to use when making true, downsouth biscuits!

Then of course there are many different TYPES of flour for specific baking needs.


The type of flour used will ultimately affect the finished product. Flour contains protein and when it comes in contact with water and heat it produces gluten, which gives elasticity and strength to baked goods. Different types of flour contain different amounts of protein. Therefore using a different type of flour than what is called for in a recipe (without compensating for this change) will alter the outcome of the baked good.

Flour, when packaged, has about a 14% moisture content. When stored, however, its moisture content will vary. In general, the longer flour is stored the more moisture it loses. This is why on a dry day using old flour your pastry will require more water than on a wet day using new flour.

Then of course, the question of bleached vs. unbleached.

Given a choice, you probably wouldn't add things like benzoyl peroxide, chlorine dioxide, and potassium bromate to the cookies you're making for the family picnic. But at least one of these chemicals is already found in most flours in America.

Most flour companies add benzoyl peroxide or chlorine dioxide to chemically whiten -- that is, bleach -- their flours. Some add potassium bromate to artificially strengthen their flours. When you hear benzoyl peroxide, you probably think acne cream, in which benzoyl peroxide is the active ingredient.
Chlorine dioxide? Anyone who's done the laundry or cleaned the swimming pool knows that chlorine is the key agent in liquid bleach. For its part, potassium bromate is a suspected carcinogen that has been banned from food products in Europe, Japan, and Canada. Food in California that contains potassium bromate must bear a warning label.

I much prefer unbleached, myself.

Saturday, August 06, 2005 

I Forgot the Wednesday Paper Recipe

Ooops. I'm having a really bad week, month, lifetime right now. Ever have one of those times when everything is up in the air and everything is going wrong?

That's when it's time to reach for......ICE CREAM.

From the
San Francisco Chronicle, they highlighted an interesting Green Tea Ice Cream.


1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon mirin
2 1/2 teaspoons powdered green tea
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place the saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer, then simmer, stirring, for about 5 minutes.

Add the mirin to the saucepan, stir, and immediately remove from heat.

Dissolve the powdered tea in about 2 tablespoons of the sugar-water from the saucepan, stirring until completely blended. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sugar-water.

Add the milk and cream to the tea mixture, combining well.

Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Transfer the mixture to an electric ice cream maker and churn and chill for about 25-30 minutes, or according to manufacturer's instructions. The texture of the ice cream should be smooth and thick.

You can serve this immediately, or transfer the ice cream to a plastic freezer container and freeze for a firmer texture.

Yields 1 pint

PER 1/2 CUP: 185 calories, 2 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat (7 g saturated), 45 mg cholesterol, 26 mg sodium, 0 fiber.


For those of you in Los Angeles...

Here is a great opportunity to enjoy great food at a great price for a great cause.


Enjoy special three-course, prix fixe menus at some of the city's best restaurants.The restaurants listed below offer $20 lunches and/or $35 dinners during the Dine Out weeks. You'll also enjoy a complimentary bottle of S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water or Acqua Panna Natural Spring Water with your meal. S.Pellegrino will donate $1 for every Dine Out meal to Share Our Strength.

Duration: Monday, August 15 – Friday, August 19 and Monday, August 22 – Friday, August 26, 2005Excludes Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21Pricing: $20.00 lunches, $35.00 dinners; prices are per person and do not include beverage, tax or gratuity

Please ask for the official Dine Out menu when you arrive.

**Note: Not all restaurants on are participating in the Dine Out promotion, and not all participating restaurants offer the Dine Out menu at both meals. Please refer to the list below for participating restaurants and their specific meal offerings.


Share Our Strength is a national nonprofit that inspires and organizes individuals and businesses to share their strengths in innovative ways to help end hunger.

to find out more about Share our Strength, go to their

Friday, August 05, 2005 

Happy Chef Blogging Friday!

If you've ever had a hankering for a great roast chicken or a burger and fries to die for in San Francisco...there's only one place to go....ZUNI CAFE. Meet the chef/co-owner/proprietor, Judy Rodgers.

Judy is the chef and co-owner of
Zuni Café in San Francisco. A graduate of Stanford University, she was the lunch chef at Chez Panisse in the 1970’s and later, the chef at the nationally recognized Union Hotel in Benicia, California. She was among just 50 individuals named in 1984 to the inaugural roster of “Who’s Who in Cooking in America.” Judy joined Zuni Café in 1987 and was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s award for the Best Chef: California in 2000. In 2003, Zuni Café received the James Beard Foundation’s most prized national award: Outstanding Restaurant.

In September 2002 W. W. Norton and Company published Judy’s first book,
The Zuni Café Cookbook. The cookbook received rave reviews from critics across the country – from the San Francisco Chronicle to Newsweek. The New York Times named it the best cookbook of the year. In May 2003, it received several awards from the James Beard Foundation including the top award---Cookbook of the Year.

Zuni Cafe Chocolate Pots de Crème

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate,chopped
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
8 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt chocolate with 1/2 cup of cream in a 2-quart saucepan or in a bowl over simmering water. Remove from heat. Combine remaining 1 cup cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan and warm until sugar dissolves.

Whisk yolks in a bowl, then slowly stir in warm cream mixture. Pourresulting custard mixture through a strainer into melted chocolateand stir to combine.

Pour mixture into 6 custard cups and place them at least an inchapart in a baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to reach justunder the lip of the cups. Bake until custards are just set at edges,about 45 minutes. They will continue to cook after you remove themfrom oven, and chocolate will harden as it cools. Take care not toovercook; this custard is best when slightly soft. Loosely cover and refrigerate.

Thursday, August 04, 2005 

This Contraption Isn't for Food Bloggers

or for anyone else, in my humble opinion. It's called an "anti-eating" face mask. It looks more like a "muzzle" to me.

If you are feeling like over indulging, instead of strapping on this contraption, try looking at the ah, well..."interesting" foods at RetroRecipes. (the Jello section is not for the feint of heart.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 

I could eat a whole truck load of these

originally uploaded by cybele-la.

Please, please Hershey's...keep this in your repetoire!


One of the Must Have Cookbooks

The Silver Palate Cookbook

With over 2.2 million copies in print, the acclaimed and well loved The Silver Palate Cookbook is firmly established as a contemporary cookbook classic. Originally published in 1982, the book's elegant, innovative and delicious recipes emphasize pure, fresh, ingredients. It ushered a new passion for food and hospitality into the American consciousness. Delightfully illustrated with drawings by Sheila Lukins and sprinkled librally with cooking quotes and handy hints, no kitchen should be without it.

One could say, in all honesty, that Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso helped spawn the 80's "foodie" movement with their Silver Palate storeshop and the publication of this book and the others that followed, The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook and The New Basics.

You can find Sheila Lukins recipes in the pages of Parade Magazine, where she has been the Food Editor since 1986 and in her well received cookbooks, All Around the World Cookbook and the USA Cookbook.

Shortbread Hearts

3/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Cream the butter and confectioners' sugar together until light.

Sift flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture. Add vanilla and blend thoroughly.

Gather dough into a ball, wrap in wax paper, and chill for 4 to 6 hours.

Roll out chilled dough to 5/8 inch thickness. Using a 3 inch long heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Sprinkle tops with granulated sugar. Place cut out cookies on ungreased baking sheets and refrigerate for 45 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake for 20 minutes or until just starting to color lightly; cookies should not brown. Cool on rack.

Makes about 20 cookies.


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