Friday, June 17


My dad occasionally talks about the various things that my mother taught him when they met.  They met when he was well into his adult life, and yet he still did not know how to open a bottle of wine, appreciate a meal NOT made from a can or some sort of frozen dinner, or eat an artichoke.  I guess the artichoke thing is kind of acceptable, but I have grown up on these weird vegetables (turns out they are vegetables) so I think it is a little strange.

Artichokes are actually flower buds that have not yet bloomed and are technically thistles.  They are really low in calories but have something like 16 essential vitamins and minerals.  Now we know that artichokes (carciofo in Italian... isn't that a great word??) are full of antioxidants, but historically people have used them for everything from aphrodisiacs to deodorant.  Yay..


however many artichokes
splash of vinegar

Pour a decent amount of water into a pot that will hold all the carciofi.  The artichokes will float, so there should be enough water that they are comfortably chilling.  Splash a bit of vinegar into the pot as well (this will prevent the artichokes from browning unpleasantly).  
Bring the water to a boil, cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until they are done.  You'll know that the artichokes are done when you can slide a knife through the center and the artichoke meat is tender.
Remove them from the water and eat hot or cold, possibly with something in which to dip such as mayonnaise or melted butter.  
(You eat an artichoke by scraping the meat off the leaves with your teeth.  When you get towards the center, you can remove all the remaining leaves at once and eat the ends.  Then scrape all the chokey bits off with a knife and enjoy the artichoke heart - the BEST PART.)

it is actually kind of frustrating that they float

I will forever associate this song with San Francisco because of some movie that the deeply impressionable me watched when I was younger.  There was a giant shot of the city's skyline as the opening riff to Glenn Miller's "In the Mood":

Thursday, June 16

Vegetarian Pad Thai

I think it is really interesting how different people having different cooking styles - if that is the way to describe it.  For example, my mom is all about the stir-fries, with a side of meat, and some sort of starch like rice or potatoes.  There are tons of vegetables and everything is seared to perfection.  My grandmother, on the other hand, does not have a microwave and lived in France for 25 years.  She makes quiches and all sorts of other things that - instead of getting reheated in the microwave - inevitably end up in a stew that she just "threw together."

vegetarian pad thai

I think that part of learning how to feed yourself means mastering a few really simple things and learning how to manipulate those dishes to suite your needs.  As for me, I've spent the better part of the last year imitating my mother and my grandmother's cooking by learning how to make the things they usually feed me.  Only since coming home have I started to branch out, such as with this version of pad thai.

we love peppers...

A couple notes though: I think the ratios of pasta to vegetables to sauce/dressing, as presented here, is a little off.  I would suggest a lot more vegetables and more sauce/dressing, or less pasta.  All in all, it is a really great starter recipe for pad thai.  From here it is easy to branch out and get creative.  Also, I used a wok here, but a decently sized frying pan would also do the trick.


Vegetarian Pad Thai
from The Complete Asian Cookbook

13 oz flat rice-stick noodles
2 tbs peanut oil or canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 onion, cut into thin wedges
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
3.5 oz fried tofu, cut into thin strips
6 spring onions (green onions), thinly sliced
1/8 cup chopped dried coriander leaves
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbs lime juice
1 tbs soft brown sugar
2 tsp sambal oelek
1 cup bean sprouts
3 tbs chopped roasted unsalted peanuts

Cook the noodles (the packaging should say how).  Drain and set aside
Heat a wok (or a large frying pan) over high heat and add enough peanut or canola oil to coat the pan.  When it starts to smoke, add the eggs and swirl to form a thin omelet.  When it sets, roll it up and thinly slice it.
Heat the rest of the oil in the wok, add the onion (not the spring/green onions), garlic, and pepper and cook over high heat until the onion is soft (about 3 minutes).  Add the noodles and toss everything well to mix.  Then add the omelet, tofu, spring/green onion, and the coriander.
Combine the soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, and sambal oelek.  Toss to coat the noodles and then add the bean sprouts and crushed peanuts.

Here is Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen," which a lot of people probably recognize from Ferris Bueller's Day Off:

The Complete Asian Cookbook. Sydney, N.S.W.: Murdoch, 2002. Print.

Wednesday, June 15

Coconut Macaroons

I wouldn't call this particular effort a failure in any way, but it did get a little messy towards the end - I think mostly because we didn't completely follow the recipe.  (My ridiculous and time-consuming fastidiousness occasionally pays off...?)

I've been hearing all these things about gluten-free baking lately and when a friend of mine suggested we make coconut macaroons, I got really excited.  Someone suggested we try dipping half of each cookie in melted chocolate, which did not really work because the cookies hadn't cooled completely and therefore had not set.  So we ended up having bits of the macaroons floating in a giant bowl of melted chocolate.  We managed to deal with that though.

coconut macaroons with an
enormous dollop of melted chocolate

Coconut Macaroons
adapted 500 Cookies

2 cups shredded or flaked coconut
4 egg whites
3/4 cup superfine sugar
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine all the ingredients except the cherries in a heat-proof bowl.  Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir constantly for about 6 minutes or until the egg whites start to thicken (and the batter holds its form and the consistency is the same throughout).
Remove the bowl from the pan, add the cherries, and crop large spoonfuls on the baking sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the macaroons are golden.
Slide the parchment papers onto a wire wrack and allow to cool completely.

coconut globules

this was our problem...
the egg whites were not thick enough so they seeped out

Timo working hard at scraping those cookies

The Tony awards took place the other night.  It was strange and exciting to watch this award ceremony that included all these amazing shows and performers that I saw a month ago.  On the other hand, I was incredibly frustrated because there are still so many shows that I did not have time to see during finals.  So here's a song from Jersey Boys, my first Broadway show even if it was not part of the Tony Awards. It is a song by Frankie Valli and The Four Season called "Beggin'":

Vanstone, Philippa.  500 Cookies: the Only Cookie Compendium You'll Ever Need.  Portland, Me.: Ronnie Sellers Productions, 2005.  Print.

Tuesday, June 14

Chocolate Soufflé

Back in middle school and high school, I played a decent amount of basketball.  In the beginning, I had practice regularly two nights a week.  One night I threw on my practice jersey, put on my shoes, and prepared to get into the car with my dad.  We shouted our goodbyes up the stairs and opened the front door as my mother cried out a semi-hysterical and shrill, "What?!"  I ran back up the stairs just in time to see my mom pull a perfectly-crisped and puffy cheese soufflé out of the oven.

my chocolate soufflé

Soufflé, for those of you that are not familiar, is a light baked dish made up of a base and whipped egg whites.  The base is made out of la roux (milk, flour, and butter), egg yolks, and flavored with anything from cheese to chocolate to Grand Marnier.  The two parts are then folded together and baked so that it rises... and falls after 5 to 10 minutes out of the oven.  My mom makes a killer souffle.  It is one of those favorite and famous meals in my family.

egg whites

chocolate and egg yolks

So there we all are in the kitchen as my mom carefully extracts the most impressive and puffy soufflé she has ever made.  And we have to leave just as the soufflé hisses its hiss of deflation and falls.  This is one of the great tragedies in our family lore - that we could not enjoy .  In my first attempt, I decided to make chocolate soufflé.

just before the oven

Chocolate Soufflé
from The New York Times Cookbook

2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
3/4 milk
pinch o' salt
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbs cold coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
whipped cream (if desired, which is should be)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small pot, melt the butter, add the flour and stir with a wire whisk until blended.  Meanwhile bring the milk to a boil and add it all at once to the butter and flour.  Combine with the whisk and add the salt.
Melt the chocolate with the sugar and the coffee over hot water (...or in the microwave).  Stir the mixture together and add it, plus the vanilla, to the butter, milk, and flour.  Beat in the egg yolks one at a time and let it cool a bit.
Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.  This step has the greatest possibility for messing up your soufflé.  The goal is to mix everything together without beating out the little pockets of air bubbles in the egg whites.  When I did this part (with my mother looking over my shoulder), I folded just until everything was mixed, but there were still little flecks of white egg whites throughout.  Butter and sprinkle with sugar a 2-quart casserole dish and pour in the soufflé mix.  Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until everything is puffy and brown.  Serve (immediately) with whip cream.

Making a soufflé can be stressful, especially for the first time.  As my roommate knows well, Barry Louis Polisar's "All I Want Is You" is a song that always helps me release stress.  Barry is a children's songwriter and author for things like Sesame Street (what up, Cookie Monster?):

Claiborne, Craig. "Chocolate Soufflé." The New York Times Cookbook. New York: Harper & Row, 1961. 605. Print.

Monday, June 13

Chickpea Curry

My father is a little weird.  He likes categorizing things and he has all sorts of systems.  (And he does not respond well when the system changes.  But that is a whole different story.)  Lately, I've been flipping through a lot of my mom's cookbooks, and there are tons of dishes that are really delicious and cheap, at least once you purchase the basic ingredients.  These are what my father would consider and file under "start-up costs" - it is kind of self-explanatory, but these are the things that are maybe kind of expensive, but once you have them, you're set for awhile.  (I said he was weird.)

Anyway, my mom was craving Indian food, so we decided to make Chickpea Curry, which is a really cheap thing to make, especially once you have all the spices.  We got also got this giant bag of roti-chapatis from Costco (does anyone else think of Bend It Like Beckham when they think of chapati?  And Mrs. Bhamra going on, "What family will want a daughter-in-law who can run around kicking football all day but can't make round chapatis?"  No?  Just me?  Okay.)

dinner!  it smelled SO GOOD

Chickpea Curry
from This Essential Vegetarian Cookbook

2 onions
4 cloves garlic
1 tbs ghee or oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tbs ground coriander
28 oz canned chickpeas, drained
14 oz canned tomato pieces
1 tsp garam masala

Finely slice the onions and crush the garlic (using the flat of a knife will do).  Heat up the oil or ghee in a medium pan over medium heat and add the onions and garlic and cook until soft while stirring.  
Then add the chili powder, salt, tumeric, paprika, cumin, and coriander, and stir and cook for one minute.  (It is going to get a little dry there for awhile, but it helps the spices get really hot and releases the flavor.)  
Add the chickpeas and tomato pieces and stir to combine everything.  Cover the pan and let everything simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.  Make sure to stir occasionally.  
After 20 minutes, add the garam masala and cover the pan again.  Stir every once in awhile and let it cook for another 10 minutes.  
Try heating up some chapati or naan and wrap the curry inside if you can.  (The packaging should give directions for heating.)

my army of spices

sliced onion

the onions, garlic, and spices
it got really dry and I started to freak out a little

the glorious curry

the chapati cooking - sadly, I never got the desired puffiness
maybe next time

once again, the finished product

As we all know that I like themes, B21 is a bhangra band from England.  (Bhangra is from the Punjab region in India.)  They won a lot of awards around the turn of the millennium until one member of the band decided to pursue a solo career.  Yeah... Some unreleased music by B21 was stolen and it was kind of a mess.  Here is B21's "Darshan":

"Chickpea Curry." The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook. Vancouver, BC [Canada]: Whitecap, 1997. 134. Print.

Sunday, June 12

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Ever since I got home, I have had this incredible hankering for rhubarb.  It is kind of still in season - it's about $3/lb in the Bay Area right now.  I flipped through this dessert cookbook that my cousin helped out with.  It is called Rustic Fruit Desserts and the recipes are phenomenal.  I adopted their recipe, "Apple Crisp with Brandy-Soaked Currants" (which also looks REALLY good, but I sadly do not have the ingredients at home).

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts

Crisp Topping:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Fruit Filling:
1.5 lbs strawberries (this is about two containers strawberries)
1 lb rhubarb (about 4-5 stalks)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbs flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.  Make the crisp topping by combining the brown sugar, flour, salt, and cardamom in a bowl.  Add the butter and mix it around so it forms crumbly clumps.  Put the mixture in the freezer while you prepare the fruit.  Make the filling by washing the fruit, cutting it up, and thoroughly mixing the sugar and flour.  The poundage of the fruit does not really matter, but it should almost fill the baking pan before adding the topping.  Put the pan in the oven and cook for 50 minutes.  Serve with cream if you know what's good for you.

Crisps are one of my favorite desserts to make during the school year because it is a great dish to make with some friends.  One person prepares the fruit, another the coating for the fruit, and one or two other people can make the crisp topping.  Usually I make some kind of apple crisp with an oat-based topping, but the strawberry rhubarb crisp turned out really well.  The intense red from the berries and the rhubarb rises and bubbles up to stain the crisp topping.  It is actually a kind of striking contrast between the little islands of browned sugar.

There is nothing quite like cooking to some really great jazz music.  And because I can't find any of my cousin Dave's music online (I'm going to try to change this soon), here is Benny Goodman doing a version of Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp":

Schreiber, Cory, and Julie Richardson. "Apple Crisp with Brandy-Soaked Currants." Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed, 2009. 138. Print.

Saturday, June 11

Watermelon Juice

I'm not actually a big fan of watermelon juice, but I have managed to place it on this huge pedestal in my mind because if I did really love it, there is huge money-saving potential here... Instead of buying the incredibly expensive juice, buy the watermelon and blend it!  So simple!  So brilliant!  So much fresher and tastier!  Nevertheless, I bought a whole watermelon (the first one I think I've ever purchased).  Do you have any idea how much watermelon is in a watermelon??  So after slicing all these bite-size chunks, filling an entire platter/bowl/serving thing with fruit, and surveying the remaining half of the watermelon, I made watermelon juice.

Watermelon Juice

bits of watermelon
1 lime

In case you didn't get it above, blend a bunch of watermelon in the blender, which is where the blending happens.  I added the lime juice from one lime to add a new flavor-dimension to the juice.  If you don't drink it immediately, watermelon bits will separate.  You can strain it if it bothers you.

I think I'm trying to channel summer through my beverages.  Anyway, here is The Muff's "Kids in America"..  Yay 90's music!

Friday, June 10

Salsa Verde

So I have a ton of chicken leftover from making the Chicken Noodle Soup, even after putting half of it in the soup.  Here is a recipe for Salsa Verde that goes perfectly with some chicken.  I suggest drizzling a bit on a cold piece of poached chicken breast.  (The sauce is meant to be served cold.)

chicken and salsa verde

Salsa Verde
from The Art of Simple Food

1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbs capers, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
ground pepper

Mix everything together and then let it sit for awhile so all the flavors can meld.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

"meld" is such a great verb

This is actually the first time I have ever tried, let alone made, salsa verde.  I have no idea how I let that happen, but it adds a whole dimension of flavor to the chicken as I imagine it would to any simple dish.

It turns out that salsa verde is (another) green Italian sauce made with olive oil, but unlike pesto, this one is usually also has capers, garlic, and parsley.  It is not just Italian as there is a French version and a German version.  ALSO, in case you were wondering, like my sister and I were, capers are actually flower buds that are not ripe yet.  They come from this prickly plant that is native to the Mediterranean (among other places).  Capers are even mentioned in ancient Sumer's Gilgamesh.  Yay mythology!

I am currently watching Saved!, a classic for anyone who has a decent sense of humor (actually some people reeaaallllly don't get it...), and its soundtrack seriously impacted me during my years of musical development.  Here's one song called "Flowers in the Window" by Travis:

Waters, Alice, Patricia Curtan, Kelsie Kerr, and Fritz Steiff. "Salsa Verde." The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2007. 45. Print.

Thursday, June 9

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

So I realize it is no longer winter, but homemade chicken noodle soup is a classic, especially when you finally have access to the stock pot in your mother's kitchen.  The first time I made this soup was the first time I had ever handled a whole chicken by myself.  Definitely an experience...  Here's a tip: don't name the chicken something like Cluck before you cook it.  It makes the cooking process a bit more emotional than it needs to be.

Mr. Cocky, my sister's rooster

Chicken Noodle Soup
from College Cooking: Feed Yourself and Your Friends

1 whole chicken (3 - 4lbs)
salt and pepper
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
8 oz uncooked noodles
1 tsp nutmeg

Remove the innards from the chicken and thoroughly wash the chicken.  Put the bird in a large stockpot and season it with salt and pepper.  Fill the pot with water so that the chicken is completely covered with water.  The less water, the more flavorful the broth BUT the less broth.  I know, it's a struggle.  Also, the water should be cold so it will do magical things to the chicken as it heats up.  Simmer over medium heat for 1 hour.

this is a more ingredient-intensive version
where I used onions, parsley, and garlic to season the broth as it boiled

Skim off the impurities up on the top.  Remove the chicken and let it cool until you can handing it without causing serious burns or discomfort.
Peel the carrots and slice them.  Cut the celery and add them both to the soup.
Remove the chicken from the bones.  Add what you want to the soup (I'd suggest the dark meat) and save the other meat (the white meat) for sandwiches and snacks and all that good stuff.  Go ahead and discard the skin and bones.
Add the noodles and nutmeg as well.  And hell, throw in some more salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally for as long as the noodles need to cook.  Take it off the heat and eat.

The first time I made this, the pot was just barely big enough to fill with water and cover the chicken.  I ended up cooking the chicken longer because I wanted to flip it over to make sure the meat was all cooked.  And then, as I tried to remove the chicken, it completely fell apart.  And I mean completely.  I spent the better part of 15 minutes removing all the various chicken bits (how does it not sound yummy when I put it like that??).  Honestly, before I made the soup I knew how homemade broth was made, but the whole process made me a little afraid to eat the soup.  For whatever reason, I was terrified that it was not going to taste good.  But it was pretty much fantastic, so I don't know what my problem was.

more of my sister's chickens...
this could have been my problem

Plus, I love this cookbook.  It's is fully of super simple recipes and Megan and Jill Carle (the sisters who wrote the book) always deliver a cookbook with recipes for complicated things that actually really easy and really delicious.  My sister has another one of their books, which is how I found this one.

Over the weekend, when I made the soup a second time, I took a couple tips from another cookbook.  This time, I boiled the chicken for an hour, removed the breasts for later, and boiled the rest of the chicken for another 3 hours.  Plus I had an onion and a bunch of garlic in there.  For broths, you can pretty much add whatever sounds good to you for seasoning, but you have to make sure that you don't over-season it and ruin the broth.  Also, if you don't want to eat the soup immediately, you can refrigerate it.  The fat is going to separate from the rest of the liquid and solidify, making it really easy to lift it off and remove.

I pretty much just listened to this song because the title has the word "bird" in it.  AND it's a great song.  Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds":

Carle, Megan, and Jill Carle. "Vegetarian Chili." College Cooking: Feed Yourself and Your Friends. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed, 2007. Print.

Wednesday, June 8

Sol Food

I don't know what they do to their food.  It's unbelievable.  You really haven't lived until you've eaten here.  Sol Food has two locations in downtown San Rafael, one at Lincoln Ave. and 3rd St and the other on Lincoln right next door.

take-out brings SO MUCH joy to my life

This is the only place in San Rafael that's open past 10pm, not that that is the reason to go here.  Sol Food is a Puerto Rican place.  The entire restaurant (both of them) is colorfully decorated with bright doors, old photographs, long wooden tables and benches.  It's really a lot of fun.

The rice is delicious.  Order pretty much anything.  I recommend the shrimp, chicken, pollo sandwich, all of the plantains, the salad (they have the best salad dressing ever - it's like an oil-vinegar-lemon thing).  Also, try the limonada fresca, a really tart sparkling limeade.  Sadly, the prices aren't as low as they could be, a meal costs anywhere from $12-$18.

Take home message?  Go here.

Tuesday, June 7

Pizza, Courtesy of Trader Joe's

This is a great meal to make with a group of friends.  Basically, Trader Joe's sells bags of pizza dough for $1-$1.29 (it is inexplicably cheaper in New York City the last time I checked), little containers of pizza sauce for maybe $3, bags of four grated cheeses for $5, and potential toppings line the aisles of the rest of the store.

from Trader Joe's

1 bag of pizza dough
1 container of pizza sauce

Since this recipe is whatever you make of it, here are my suggestions on the matter:

Pizza dough:  There are a couple different kinds of pizza dough available: plain, herb, and something else.  They all taste good, so don't be too nervous, but do be wary of the flavored doughs when you are baking.  Sometimes they are not cooked completely after the alloted time.  Preheat the oven to the temperature on the bag, I think it's 400 degrees.  And when the bag says to let the dough sit for 20 minutes before using it, let the dough sit for 20 minutes before using it.  I realize that it is kind of a drag, but letting the dough sit will make it easier for you to stretch it out into a pleasing pizza shape.  Also, I always cook the dough for more than the 8-9 minutes they suggest - sometimes as long as 20 minutes.  If you do not wait long enough, the pizza will be soggy in the center.

this particular batch got really puffy -
just plain ol' cheese pizza

Pizza sauce:  I like the pizza sauce.  That said, it is the bare-minimum that is required for a pizza sauce.  I have friends who like to add some dried spices or fresh chopped garlic to make it tastier.  Go by taste!  On the other hand, they also sell a container of ricotta cheese.  It is simple ricotta cheese without anything to detract from its pure essence, but sometimes I add a pinch of salt, some dried herbs, olive oil, honey, or garlic.

ricotta with herb d'provence, olive oil, and salt

the white pizza

Cheese:  I think Trader Joe's Quattro Formaggi (the bag of grated cheese) is a rip-off.  That does not mean I have not purchased this item on multiple occasions.  The four cheeses in the bag are tasty, complement each other well, and yes, they are already grated for you.  I would recommend buying some uncut mozzarella - it is cheaper, fresher, tastier, and makes for better snacking.

Toppings:  Go wild.  Or not.  God knows I love plain cheese pizza.  Here is a partial list of past toppings: pepperoni, sliced mushrooms, black olives, baby broccoli, prosciutto, bell peppers, onions.  Just throw on whatever is in the fridge that looks good.

slice of the cheese - made with slices of mozzarella

This song goes out to Katie, who promised to make pizza with me this summer.  She has burned me some of the best CD mixes that I've ever listened to, one of which is the song I'm listening to right now... AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long":

Monday, June 6

Apricot Scones

Lately I've been seriously conflicted about what to eat for breakfast.  Do I want oatmeal?  But then there are so many options.  There are steel-cut oats and instant oats, cinnamon powder and honey, cut up fresh fruit (like bananas and apples and dates) and dried fruit (like apricots and figs).

Toast?  Then I have to face the variety of cheeses in the house.  (Please do not in any way interpret this as complaining.  I am in NO WAY complaining about all the cheese.) We're running out of cheddar, so there are all the soft cheeses that really seem more appropriate for hors d'oeuvres.  Plus we only have the butts of bread left.  There is always the cereal that costs about as much as crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (it's SO EXPENSIVE).  The take home message from all these may be for me to just go grocery shopping.

Point is, I made scones.  Fantastic scones that were just sweet enough and not the sour-ish scones that are also good, but not exactly what I was craving.  I think these scones are buttermilk...?

Apricot Scones
from The Art of Simple Food

2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 sugar
1 1/3 cups cream
2 tbs melted butter
1 1/2 tbs sugar
1/2 cup chopped dried apricot

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar.  Stir in the cream.  (We ran out of heavy cream, so I added as much cream as I could - maybe 1 cup - and added milk for the rest.)  Add the chopped apricots.

The dough is going to be really sticky, so stir the mixture together as much as possible and then knead on a floured surface just enough to bring the dough together.  Pat it into a circle/disc thing that is about 8 in. in diameter.  Brush the melted butter on the dough and sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 tbs sugar on the top.  (I don't know why the cookbook used this measurement.  A tablespoon is equal to three teaspoons, so basically you are adding one tablespoon, one teaspoon, and one-half teaspoon of sugar or 4 1/2 teaspoons but anyway...)  Cut the disc into eight wedges and place each wedge on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  They should be at least 1 in. apart.  Bake for 17 minutes or until golden brown.  Brew some tea and serve.

Making the dough takes a shockingly small amount of time and they really were perfect with hot tea because when is summer coming?!  Regardless, scones are a British thing, apparently with a Scottish origin.  But more interestingly, although maybe I'm the only person who doesn't know this, the proper pronunciation of the word "scone" is such a point of controversy for the English that there have been academic studies concerning the etymology and modern Brits' pronunciation preferences.  Most civilized folk pronounce "scone"with a short "o" so that it rhymes with "fawn."  The sentence, "She fawns over scones" could then practically pass for a couplet.  The rest of the population rhymes "scone" with "grown" as in, "With the help of the oven, the scone has grown."  There is actual poetry devoted to exploiting this issue, so I'm not alone in my rhyming.

Other than my quest for the perfect breakfast, I'm also continuing my attempt to move from simply owning a guitar to being able to play a guitar.  To that end, I am in the process of learning the rest of The Beatle's "Blackbird."  So here it is, folks:

Waters, Alice, Patricia Curtan, Kelsie Kerr, and Fritz Steiff. "Scones." The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2007. 275. Print.

Sunday, June 5

Jockey Club Cocktail #2

Somehow, after the '20s, people forgot about gin.  At least that's what it seems like to me.  Gin is a dry spirit that is flavored with all sorts of things such as Juniper berries, orange peels, coriander, licorice, and who knows what else.  Anyway, the Wall Street Journal published some cocktail recipes for the Kentucky Derby a couple weeks ago and my mom raves about this one.

Jockey Club Cocktail #2
from The Wall Street Journal

2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. amaretto
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake it all together with ice and strain.  For the record, 1 shot is equal to 1.5 oz of liquid and these measurements make one serving.

Here's part of the little blurb the article had:
The sweet almond flavor of the amaretto melds nicely with the tartness of the lemon juice, while the gin gives the drink a pleasant dryness.
I realize it is kind of a pain to buy all these ingredients, but my mother raves about this cocktail and from what I can tell, bitters and amaretto are not too expensive.  A little bottle of bitters goes for about $9 (and it will last you awhile) and a decently sized bottle of amaretto is about $12.  (Amaretto is a sweet-almond flavored liqueur.  And liqueurs are alcoholic beverages that have been bottled with sugar and flavored with various things such as fruits and creams.)

I am in no way familiar with the type of music that is typically played at the Kentucky Derby, but I feel like the music should match... so here's Johnny Cash singing "My Old Kentucky Home":

Sintumuang, Kevin. "Drinks for Your Kentucky Derby Party, Beyond the Julep." The Wall Street Journal [New York City] 7 May 2011. Print.

Saturday, June 4

Arizmendi Bakery

Arizmendi Bakery is this adorable bakery on 9th Ave in San Francisco between Irving and Judah.  My mom had bought a ridiculous amount of baked good from this place, but this was the first day she took me.  Apparently there was a co-op in Berkeley that later decided to open a bakery based on their cooperative principles and they eventually made their way over to San Francisco.  As of right now, there are five different locations throughout the Bay Area.  While they are not technically a chain, they are each associated with each other through those cooperative principles (this is according to the guy behind the counter that day).

The day I went to this bakery, it was an absolutely stunning day in the city, at least as soon as the pouring rain stopped.  There are benches and chairs outside that provide the perfect setting for some good old fashioned carb-bonding time and inside there is a lot of light and bread lines the walls.

On this particular excursion, I sampled the cheese bread (a delicious whole wheat bread covered in perfectly crisped asiago), a mint double chocolate chip cookie, and the pizza of the day.  As far as I can tell, each day Arizmendi makes a new type of pizza.  The day I went, the toppings were as followed: sautéed mushrooms, parsley, parmesan, spinach, and Rosemary oil.  It was perfect.  I think the pizza was $20, the cookie $2, and the cheese bread somewhere around $3 (maybe?).  Point is, they were all worth it.

my dad didn't trust the baker's pizza-making abilities
so he added pepperoni

Friday, June 3

Gene's Liquor

Gene's Liquor is on the corner of Taraval and 21st St.  Yes, this place is part liquor store, but they've managed to convert the behind-the-counter area into a sandwich-making area and it is so good.  Like award-winning good.  Plus, I went here so frequently in high school that I had a "usual."  That is one of my proudest accomplishments.

I don't know this person

I always (always) order a turkey-avocado with mayo, lettuce, and provolone.  They heat the sandwich and it is unbelievably good.  It is somewhat of an art to eat the sandwich without letting the copious amount of avocado escape through the bottom, but you'll get through it.

I'm home

I think the sandwich (with avocado) is just short of $8, but I usually throw in some type of beverage for $8 something.  I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.  And even better, Mr. Gene-man (the owner... I call him that because his name isn't actually Gene) remembered me.  After two years.  So proud!

I've been in San Francisco the past two days and it has been absolutely gorgeous: