Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Tofu really gets a bad rep and it's not fair. I actually enjoy tofu quite a bit but it's all about how you use it. For instance, I don't recommend that you cut off a cube and eat it sitting on the couch for a snack otherwise you'll be pretty disappointed. This recipe is a great example of how tofu can really be a star.

I follow legendary food writer and editor of Gourmet, Ruth Reichl on Twitter. She always talks about what's she's doing whether it's having tea with her cats of cooking for her son's vegan friend like she was today. This is the recipe she chose to make for her vegan guest and it sounded like a huge hit. I can't wait to try it out for myself.

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

  • 1 (14- to 18-oz) package soft tofu (not silken)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted (see Tips) and crushed with side of a heavy knife
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Carefully rinse tofu, then cover with cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then keep warm, covered, over very low heat.
  • Meanwhile, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Stir together with remaining ingredients (except tofu).
  • Just before serving, carefully lift tofu from saucepan with a large spatula and drain on paper towels. Gently pat dry, then transfer to a small plate. Spoon some sauce over tofu and serve warm. Serve remaining sauce on the side.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lamborn Family Vineyards

This weekend, I redeemed the auction item I won at the Taste of Howell Mountain, a day at Lamborn Family Vineyards. Last summer, I visited the tasting room at Napa Wine Company, which is a custom crush facility in Napa Valley, and immediately feel in love with their 2004 Zinfandel. Lamborn grows all of their fruit on Howell Moutain and uses Napa Wine Company to crush, barrel and bottle their wines. They make a little under 2,000 cases a year and their winemaker is Heidi Barrett.

I didn't know what to expect but I knew the day would be filled with good wine and laughter so I was so excited to bring some friends on the journey with me. We drove up to the house and were warmly greeted by Mike and Terry Lamborn in front of their beautiful home and were immediately whisked away on a vineyard tour. Mike and Terry were incredible hosts, very knowledgeable and everyone learned a lot on the tour.

Next, they took us in their home and we did a vertical Zinfandel tasting starting with the '99 and going up to the 2006. It was fascinating to try the different vintages and understand how the fruit differed vintage to vintage and how the wines age. If you haven't had Lamborn wines, I would highly suggest that you run not walk to your computer and order some online or go to Napa Wine Company. Since case production is low, you won't find it in stores. Oh yeah, their Cabernet is amazing, too.

I love wine but days like these really make me love the wine business. Folks like Terry and Mike are a great example of what the family wine business should be and should stand for. Their son is slated to take over once they retire and both of them tend to the vines themselves except at crush. They have a lovely home, a wonderful relationship and like to have friends over for bocce ball and drinks. They are just wonderful people.

We had such a great time at Lamborn and thank Mike and Terry for their hospitality. If you are coming to Napa Valley, try to visit them for a tasting and tell them I sent you. I promised them I would be their biggest fan and ambassador for life!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burgers

This week, I invited a group of friends up from the city to do a day of wine tasting, swimming and BBQ at our place in Napa. I figured that after a long day of tasting wine nothing would hit the spot more than this Bacon Pimento Cheese Burger. Pimento cheese is a childhood friend of mine and it reminds me so much of home and my mom's house.

I'm going to add about a 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce to the meat along with seasoning and worcestershire sauce. The hint of BBQ flavor should go great with the smokiness of the bacon and the heat from the jalapenos.

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burgers
Serves 4

2 lbs of ground beef (80/20)
8 slices of bacon
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/4 c pimento
1/8 chopped jalapenos
1/4 cup of mayo
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon until done and set aside.

Mix cheese, pimentos, jalapenos and mayo in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to liking. Set aside.

Season meat and form into patties (add BBQ and worcestershire sauce to the meat if you would like). Turn grill to medium heat. Add burger patties to grill and cook 5 minutes per side. Add cheese and bacon on top of each patty and close cover for 1 more minute until melted. Serve on toasted bun with lettuce, red onion and sliced tomatoes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fig and Ginger Pork Rib

Often times we forget that making ribs doesn't always require a grill. This recipe only requires a sheet pan, store bought fruit preserves and a couple other things that you should have in your pantry. Fig is the in-season flavor here and nothing goes better with the sweetness of a fig than the saltiness of pork. If you have a fig tree in your yard or access to one, try making your own fig preserves from scratch.

Fig and Ginger Pork Rib
(The Hungry Mouse)

5-6 pork spare ribs (about 2 1/4 lbs. or so)
3/4 cup fig preserves
1 Tbls. powdered ginger
1 Tbls. apple cider
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbls. dried parsley

Serves about 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer.

Measure out your fig preserves and put them in a medium-sized bowl. Add the powdered ginger, apple cider, and kosher salt.

Whisk together with a fork to combine well. The apple cider will help thin out the preserves. Be sure to break up any lumps of ground ginger.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and/or aluminum foil.

Grab your ribs out of the fridge. Unwrap them and put them in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Pour the glaze in the bag and over the ribs. Seal the bag well. Smoosh it around between your hands to coat the ribs with glaze. Seal the bag well. Take ribs out of bag and lay out on pan. Sprinkle each rib with a little dried parsley. Cook for 1 hour.

Serve warm.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Soft-Cooked Eggs with Onion Soubise, Caviar, and Potato Chips

This recipe is a little hard core but you can sub some stuff to make it a little more approachable. If you're looking for a challenge, here you go.

Let's start off with talking about David Chang. For those of you that have not been to Momofuku Noddle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar or Momofuko Ko in NYC, I suggest you make it a priority. I remember waiting in line on a rainy Thursday night when Momofuku Noddle Bar had just opened, sharing an umbrella with two friends waiting to see what all the hype was about. (Remember Friedman?) Once we had our first bite of Chang's famous pork buns, we all looked at each other and thought 'who is this guy'?

David Chang is a decorated chef with Michelin stars, James Beard awards, F&W Best New Chef titles and more. After positions at hot spots in NYC and cooking and living in Tokyo, Chang developed a concept that is true to his Korean roots and quickly grew an empire.

To cut some corners in this recipe, you can use store bought potato chips and skip the liquid smoke. To save you some serious cash, sub for store-bought whitefish caviar or fresh salmon roe.

Soft-Cooked Eggs with Onion Soubise, Caviar, and Potato Chips

Recipe by Momofuku Ko


* 12 ounces onions (about 2 medium), halved, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, room temperature
* 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt


* 8 large eggs, room temperature
* 3 cups water
* 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke*


* 4 3x3/4-inch fingerling potatoes (about 4 ounces), scrubbed
* Grapeseed oil (for frying)
* Coarse kosher salt
* 1/2 cup mixed herb leaves (such as 1/4 cup chervil or tarragon, 2 tablespoons parsley, and 2 tablespoons 1-inch pieces fresh chives)
* 2 ounces American hackleback caviar or paddlefish caviar
* Smoked salt or Maldon sea salt
* 4 teaspoons purple sweet potato vinegar (see Ingredient Tip) or Sherry wine vinegar

*A smoke-flavored liquid seasoning; available at many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

Chef Chang uses Benímosu, a purple sweet potato vinegar, in this dish. The potatoes have deep-purple flesh, but the vinegar is a stunning strawberry red color. The vinegar has an aroma similar to that of Sherry wine vinegar, which makes a good substitute.


Place all ingredients in small saucepan. Simmer uncovered over lowest possible heat until onions are very tender, and butter and water are reduced to silky sauce, stirring often, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.


Bring large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add eggs to water gently to prevent cracking. Cook 5 minutes. Transfer eggs to large bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, crack eggs gently all over on flat surface. Return to ice water and peel carefully. (Do not break eggs; yolks will be runny.)

Mix 3 cups water and 1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke in large saucepan. Add peeled eggs to water. Cover and chill overnight.


Using V-slicer or mandoline, thinly slice potatoes crosswise. Rinse potato slices in small bowl of water. Drain. Rinse until water runs clear, 1 or 2 times more. Drain well. Place on kitchen towel; pat dry.

Pour enough oil into large deep saucepan to measure depth of 1 inch. Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of pan. Heat oil to 360°F. Working in 3 batches, fry potatoes until beginning to brown and crisp, stirring frequently to prevent slices from sticking together, about 1 minute per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Cool. Transfer to clean paper towels.

Using slotted spoon, gently transfer eggs to medium bowl. Bring smoked water to gentle simmer over medium heat. Carefully slide eggs from bowl into water. Cook until heated through, about 4 minutes. Rewarm soubise. Mix herbs together in small bowl.

Spoon generous 2 tablespoons soubise onto each plate, using back of spoon to create small indentation for egg. Divide potato chips among plates, creating small mound alongside soubise. Spoon small pile of herb salad alongside chips and soubise. Place 1 egg atop soubise on each plate. Using small sharp knife, cut 1-inch-long slit in each egg (yolk will spill out). Spoon small dollop of caviar atop yolks, dividing equally. Sprinkle with small pinch smoked salt. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon vinegar alongside soubise.

Grilled Skirt Steak and Pepper Sandwiches with Corn Mayonnaise

My weekend was spent poolside catching up on all my cooking magazines in Napa. I might be the only woman that sits in her bathing suit and talks about food all afternoon but it's just what makes me happy. We all know I'm a sandwich junkie so it should come as no surprise that as soon as I saw this recipe in this month's Bon Appetit my mouth started watering. Corn mayonnaise? Who is the genius that came up with that amazing combo? I'm almost upset that I didn't come up with that idea myself. The bread is key so take a second and hunt down a ciabatta roll at your local grocery or bakery.

Grilled Skirt Steak and Pepper Sandwiches with Corn Mayonnaise

* 2/3 cup mayonnaise
* 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
* 1 small garlic clove, pressed
* 6 4-inch-long baguette sections or one 1-pound loaf ciabatta, halved horizontally
* 2 ears of corn, husked
* 2 small red bell peppers, quartered lengthwise
* 1 large red onion, cut into 1/3-inch rounds
* 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, cut crosswise into 6-inch pieces
* Olive oil (for brushing)

Prepare barbecue (high heat). Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Set aside. Pull out some of inside of bread, forming thick shells. Brush corn, peppers, onion, cut sides of bread, and steaks with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until charred and just tender and steaks until charred and cooked to medium-rare, about 15 minutes for corn, 8 to 10 minutes for peppers, and 5 to 8 minutes for onion, turning occasionally, and 3 minutes per side for steaks. Let steaks rest 5 minutes. Grill bread, cut side down, until charred, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Cut corn from cobs; add 1 cup to bowl with mayonnaise mixture and stir to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut steaks diagonally against the grain into 1/3- to 1/2-inch-thick strips. Arrange steak slices, peppers, and onion over bottom halves of bread. Spoon corn mayonnaise over. Top with bread, pressing slightly to compact. (If using ciabatta, cut into 6 sandwiches.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Murray Circle at Cavallo Point

Good job, Drew!

For our 3 year anniversary, Drew blindfolded me, drove me over the bridge and checked us in for a one night stay and foodie excursion at Cavallo Point. The eco-friendly resort and spa opened under a year ago and is located just under the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin. Set in historical Fort Baker, it's home to Michelin star Murray Circle restaurant, a cooking school and spa. Cha-ching! All my favorite things in one place!

After a terrific day at the spa, we got all dressed up and headed down for an 8 course dinner and wine pairing. Executive Chef, Joseph Humphrey (Michael Mina, 5th Floor, Meadowood) features Bay Area cuisine with a French twist and showcases local and organic farms, ranches and culinary artisans in the region. The wine pairings were VERY generous so it's a good thing that you can hop a ride back to your room on a golf cart and leave your car in the parking lot. In addition, the wine pairings featured all Old World wines with the exception of one (a Monterey Pinot). The star of the night was the Domaine de la Cadette La Chatelaine, Vezelay. It was very light and had great minerality.

Of all the courses, the halibut and lobster with squab were my favorite. My Kobe petite filet was too salty but I tasted Drew's and his was perfectly seasoned. After the cheese course, I start to tapper off. I'm not one for desserts or sweet wines but Drew happily polished them off for me with no complaints.

Make sure to grab a drink and/or stay a night a Cavallo Point. We could see our apartment across the bay from our balcony but we felt like we were on vacation and came home relaxed, fat and happy.

Summer Corn Soup

You can buy 3 ears of corn for about a dollar right now at your grocery store or farmers market so this recipe is really easy on your wallet. The garnish for this soup is what really makes it so don't skip the bacon and the green onion, crème fraîche and cayenne pepper give it some kick and color. This soup will keep for several days in the fridge, is kid friendly and a great starter for a BBQ or quick lunch.

Summer Corn Soup

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from cobs, cobs broken in half and reserved
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Ground white pepper
  • 2 thick bacon slices, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh corn kernels cut from about 1/2 ear of corn
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Crème fraîche*, stirred to loosen
  • Bring milk and corncob halves (not kernels) just to boil in heavy medium pot. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep while sautéing vegetables.
  • Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes (do not let onion brown). Add corn kernels, carrot, celery, and garlic; cook until vegetables are soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cups water, herb sprigs, bay leaf, and milk with corncobs. Increase heat and bring to boil. Cover partially, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes to blend flavors.
  • Discard corncobs, herb sprigs, and bay leaf. Cool soup slightly. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until very smooth. Strain into large bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Season soup to taste with salt and white pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Cook bacon in small skillet over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in corn, green onion, and pinch of cayenne. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.
  • Rewarm soup over medium heat. Divide among bowls. Sprinkle garnish over, drizzle with crème fraîche, and serve.
  • *sold at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores


Georgia Peach Pie

My sister and her family moved back to Atlanta this week so I thought I'd post a recipe that welcomes them home. Peaches are in their prime right now so head over to your farmers market and get your hands on some. This F&W recipe calls for homemade bourbon whipped cream...giddy up!

Georgia Peach Pie
  1. 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoons sugar
  3. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  5. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) cold solid vegetable shortening
  6. 1/2 cup ice water
  1. 8 large, ripe but firm peaches (3 1/2 pounds)
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  5. 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
  6. Egg wash made with 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  7. Bourbon Whipped Cream, for serving


  1. PREPARE THE CRUST: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and sprinkle the ice water on top. Stir with a fork until a crumbly dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until the dough comes together. Cut the dough in half and form into 2 disks; wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Ease one of the rounds into a 9-inch glass pie plate and transfer the other round to a baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough.
  3. MAKE THE FILLING: Preheat the oven to 400°. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Using a sharp knife, mark a shallow X in the bottom of each peach. Blanch the peaches in the boiling water for about 1 minute, until the skins begin to loosen. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to the ice water to cool. Drain and peel the peaches and cut them into 3/4-inch wedges. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice and flour, toss well and let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the peaches and their juices into the chilled pie shell and scatter the butter slices on top. Brush the edge of the pie shell with the egg wash and lay the round of dough from the baking sheet on top. Press the edges of the pie shell together to seal and trim the overhang to a 1/2 inch. Fold the edge of the pie dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Brush the remaining egg wash on the top crust and cut a few slits for venting steam.
  5. Transfer the pie to the oven and place a baking sheet in the bottom to catch any drips. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°, cover the edge of the pie with foil and bake for about 40 minutes longer, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is deeply golden on the top and bottom. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool completely. Serve with the Bourbon Whipped Cream.
    The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. The peach pie can be stored overnight at room temperature.