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Posts posted by Batuta

  1. Hi. I'd appreciate your help on this one.

    We recently learned that an elderly family member's blood sugar is very high; she'll soon be getting daily insulin injections. She's a bit frail, so we don't want to take any chances with her diet.

    It seems there may be several Thanksging dessert options:

    - Serve a seasonal fruit plate (perhaps sliced pears, almonds and gorgonzola or cantal?)

    - Serve a sugar-free pumpkin pie or cheesecake (using Splenda) - if they're any good.

    - Skip dessert altogether and make another side dish

    What are your thoughts? Have you had any luck with sugar-free substitutes for baking? If so, what recipes or sources have have worked for you?

  2. I agree with all of the suggestions the posters have already provided.

    One more to consider: Cucina (Italian in nearby San Anselmo with an amazing wine list).

    Have fun! You can't go wrong with anyone's suggestions.

  3. I like a good rub. It adds another dimension to the crispy pulled pork bits, and seems to make the ribs go even better with the sauce. A little chili/paprika/onion power/what-have-you makes pulled pork sing. And a brown sugar concoction makes my the Memphis-style ribs (and my tummy) very happy.

    The wrong rub, however, can hurt an otherwise great barbeque. I'm probably in the minority here, but the pepper on the famous "Divine Mr. Brown" overhelms it all.

  4. Williams-Sonoma now has an "exclusive" KitchenAid Professional 620 stand mixer, for sale for a mere $899.95. :blink: Here's the link:


    As far as I can tell, the only things that make it different than the several hundred dollars cheaper Pro 600 versions are: a) a metal "clad" rather than "finish" in copper or nickel alloy, b) possibly (not sure) a new dough hook shape and c) a seriously high price.

    Same dimensions, capacity, wattage (not that it's a clear indicator), features as the Pro 600.

    Are people willing to pay double the price for "pretty" or did I miss something?

  5. A close friend will be celebrating a significant birthday in the next few weeks.

    Since he's crazy about wild animals, particularly cheetas, panthers and jaguars, his wife has planned a safari for him at a nearby outdoor zoo; a surprise party will follow in other friends' home. The party will have a safari theme.

    I've been asked to provide some safari appetizers. Ideally, they'll be dishes that can be prepared ahead of time and may not require additional oven time (others may need to use ovens for the rest of the meal and the surprise nature may make the timing questionable).

    So bring it on! What suggestions do you have?

    Here are a couple of beginning ideas:

    - A savory zebra stripe/marble cheesecake (perhaps goat cheese with tapenade swirls?)

    -"Rainforest tacos": lettuce leaves surrounding a minced chicken or porK filling

    -dip with cheetah spots (hummus with olives?)

    -furry food?

    -finger food on rosemary spikes for tails?

    I look forward to your suggestions!

  6. Totally serious about the cream of mushroom soup casserole. It's an Iowa classic. You can't go to someone's home without being served a green bean/cream of mushoroom soup/onion ring casserole or "Chinese Casserole" with hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, and soy sauce topped with crunchy chinese noodles that look suspiciously like canned onion rings. I could go on, but you get the picture.

    And the loose meat/Maid Rite sandwiches, for some reason, really are quite good (maybe it's the memories that come with them). Somehow, they only taste right if you're sitting at a formica countertop at the Maid Rite - you can't duplicate this simple dish at home.

  7. I've been enjoying this thread. We recently moved to the North Bay, and have been checking out what Sonoma and other towns have to offer.

    We recently tried the Girl & the Fig for lunch and had an enjoyable meal on the back patio. Great atmoshere!

    Last night, we had an exceptional dinner at the General's Daughter.

    I'm convinced that Sonoma is one of the best kept secrets for restaurants!

  8. We tried Fish last night, based on the recommendations on this thread.

    It was quite casual (picnic tables and blankets to wrap yourself up; lots of people with dogs) and the food was quite good. The crab rolls were excellent with a generous amount of warmed crab meat no "filler", but they did "something special" : all four of us have been talking about it ever since.

  9. I second Sushi Ran for good sushi!

    There's also a nice French restaurant, Bistro 330, and a good Mediterranean restaurant, Insalata, both in San Anselmo. Neither are terribly "fancy", but they are consistently very good.

    Finally, consider going to Kitchen in Novato. It's not ethnic, but it has well-prepared, upscale, unusual food in a nice atmosphere.

  10. Thanks so much for all the information!

    I've only tried one class so far - Essential Knife Skills at Viking Home Chef - and it was okay, but not one that motivated me to "sign right up" for a 10 class series.I'll check out the options that all of you have mentioned.

    Has anyone tried the Sur La Table classes? They sound interesting as well.

  11. What kind of success have you had?

    I'm interested in taking a few Bay Area "hands on" cooking classes to build my technique, and perhaps learn more about sauces, flavor balancing and so on. I'm a respectable and enthusiastic cook, but have a lot more to learn. And, my baking. and knife skills could also be improved. The e-Gullet classes have been wonderful; now I'm looking for "hands on" learning and some "educational entertainment".

    I'm in the North Bay but have easy access to the city as well as the wine country. And, I'd be willing to travel to the East or South Bay for something worthwhile.

    So, what have you tried and liked? Or hated? Are any of the cooking classes better than the others? Or do they have different specialties?

  12. Abra,

    What a wonderful blog!

    Tell us a bit more about your personal chef position. How do you find your clients (or they find you)? Do you have set menu for them to select from? Your presentation is lovely: do provide the platters or do you use your clients (I'm assuming you "scope it out" ahead of time..). How long have you been doing it? How did you get into it? And, do you enjoy it?

    Also, do you sleep? Seems like with the wonderful dishes, incredible lists, community service and other activities you have a very full life.

    Looking forward to the future installments...

  13. Monica,

    What a facinating project. A few more thoughts. How about:

    -depicting the food table at special occasions such as weddings, funerals, birthdays, and other such events?

    -showing and describing food traditions,customs, or manners (every culture has them, and they are interesting to all)

    -showing photos of variations of same dish based on the region of the country

    -showing the decor, tables, and food variety at various kinds of restaurants from the street vendors as someone suggested, to the local hangouts, to the very fanciest restaurants

  14. I've been intrigued by the KA one as well, and saw it in the Chef's Catalogue store last weekend.

    Here's what appeals to me:

    1) 2 quart capacity (bigger than the rest)

    2) it takes up A LOT less room in the kitchen: the bowl stays in the freezer, and the paddle attachment goes in your cubbord. Far smaller than the Cuisinart or any of the others. Krups comes close, but it seems like it's a bit of a problem to get the lid on correctly.

    All that said, I still didn't buy it. Not sure I can justify one more appliance, when I'm not a huge ice cream fan.

    Still, I keep going back to take a look...

  15. I just ordered fish from the Pike Fish Market and they suggested the "water technique" for freezing their fish.

    I agree with the others, however, the salmonin you freezer should be allowed to swim upstream to the garbage can.

  16. You guys are too kind!

    To answer a few questions: the carmelized mango wasn't torched (although that sounds interesting); it was carmelized on the stovetop.

    The Pike Fish Market wild king salmon was a bit over $100 plus $45 shipping. But, we did get 15 pounds of wonderful salmon, enough to make about 15 nice sized fillets, and enough of the sugar-cured salmon to feed about 30 people (really!). It wasn't "fishy" at all, and it was beautiful. I realized how anemic the fish at the grocery stores around here are.

  17. So, we had the "gourmet club" meal last night. Overall, the meal was a success.

    We ordered a whole wild king salmon, filleted, from the Pike Fish Market in Seattle.

    Here are the pictures.

    Since it was a summer "tasting" menu, we decorated the table in a summer/tropical theme:


    Earlier in the day, I made brioche to serve as the base for the sugar-cured salmon:


    And here's how the sugar-cured salmon looked. Basically, it was toasted brioche, topped with ricotta, and then the salmon:


    The best part was the appetizer: a bacon-wrapped shrimp with avocado, lime, and tomato jam. A great combination of smoky, sweet, and sour:


    While I have no pictures of the rest, here's a verbal summary. The chilled strawberry soup was substituted for chilled raspberry soup, when the farmer's market had no strawberries. It looked great, but was a bit on the sweet side: it would have been perfect topping a flourless chocolate cake.

    The slow-roasted salmon (made from the same fish as above) with yogurt and cardamom was okay, but a bit overdone.

    Finally, the desert: camelized mango with blueberries. A very nice refreshing end to a relatively light meal.

    The group had a wonderful time, staying into the wee hours.

    But did they get into the "experiential" salmon comparison? In a word, no. They got it, but it wasn't interesting to them.

    All in all, it was a good meal with even better friends. What could be better than that?

    Thanks to all of you!

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