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Everything posted by ProfessionalHobbit

  1. I belong to a cookbook club here in San Francisco. Our first dinner is in two weeks. It's kind of like a potluck and social thing: everyone cooks from the same book, then on the big day, brings the dish to someone's house for a get-together. It's about cooking, entertaining, belonging and making new friends. It's a groovy thing. What I am so not in love with is the cookbook that was chosen, sort of like an icebreaker, because not everyone attending is on the same skill level. There are some very accomplished cooks who will be attending, including at least one person who has his own catering business. And some newbies, I'm sure. So you need something that will not intimidate. I do appreciate that (and I am far from a beginner). Unfortunately, Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" was the book that was chosen and reading it makes me rage. A recipe for chicken adobo (page 658) calls for 1 cup soy sauce and 1/2 cup vinegar - which, if you think about it - changes it from chicken braised in vinegar with soy sauce and garlic to chicken braised in soy sauce with vinegar and garlic. A recipe for chicken biryani (page 654) calls for 4 tbsp. butter instead of ghee and saffron instead of turmeric. Ghee is butter with the water removed and milk solids are caramelized - so it has a butterier and nuttier flavor than butter, plus you don't need to use that much. I had heard Bittman's book was "basic" but I hadn't considered that his recipes were nearly unworkable from a technical standpoint. Oh my god...RAGE RAGE RAGE. This guy is supposed to be an authority. On what planet? Dear me, I need a drink.
  2. Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

    See, JOC is really great. And if that were the book chosen, I'd be more enthusiastic. I don't feel the same way about Bittman's. I've made a few things from JOC and they've generally worked out well. I feel that one of the differences is that JOC doesn't cut corners unlike its competitor. You can clearly see it in the recipes.
  3. Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

    That recipe cries out for curry leaves and mustard seeds but he doesn't even use those.
  4. Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

    So I'll probably make the biryani b/c I'm a sucker for chicken and rice.
  5. Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

    I wish I could but one of the rules of the club that you don't know is I thought about "cheating" but the danger is that someone will try to replicate it and come to an altogether different conclusion.
  6. Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything"

    I'm not sure any of it meets my standards. That's the problem. Made as written, it's going to be a challenge....
  7. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    Congee with pork-cilantro meatballs. Meatballs - 2 tbsp. cilantro stems, 2 garlic cloves, pinch of salt, generous pinch of white pepper - pounded into a paste in a mortar and pestle, then combined with 1 lb. ground pork, 1 tsp. mushroom soy and 1 tbsp. oyster sauce, then chilled for 6 hours in the fridge. Congee - 10 cups Chinese chicken stock, 1 cup jasmine rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours uncovered, adding chicken stock or water to replenish liquid as it evaporates. Congee is done when rice begins to break down and is thickened according to your liking. Toppings - cilantro stems and leaves, sriracha, fish sauce, sesame oil, shredded ginger, minced scallion, crispy fried shallots, fried garlic, chopped peanuts. For each diner, crack an egg in a bowl, then ladle hot congee on top. Egg should be done in about 4 minutes. Scatter toppings as desired, then serve.
  8. Breakfast! 2018

    I scored some morel mushrooms. This is a little under a pound, for about $45. Scrambled eggs, with morel mushrooms, garlic and parsley
  9. California Farmers' Markets

    morel mushrooms, fava leaves, Meyer lemons, Tokyo turnips, pork, cauliflower, garlic, spring onions, cilantro
  10. Lunch! What'd ya have? (2018)

    Good BBQ is hard to find in San Francisco and it doesn't seem as if the offerings at 4505 Burgers & BBQ match up to their reputation. Beans were the best thing offered; I could make a meal of those alone. Nice balance of spice and sweetness. Brisket was just "ok" and the chicken faintly redolent of smoke. Good coleslaw is exceedingly difficult to come by, and this batch had barely any interest. I might as well have been eating rabbit food. Pozole was fine. BTW each of those plates cost about $11. Quantity isn't an issue (although B did remark "chicken looks skimpy" iirc), it has more to do with execution.
  11. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    We're having friends over for our annual Oscar viewing party. As for dinner, it will be Dinner menu for six for March 4, 2018: Assorted crackers Cheese plate (smoked Gouda, cheddar cheese, goat cheese) Marinated olives Deep-fried anchovies Lamb tagine with Castelvetrano olives and saffron Couscous with aromatic vegetables (celery, carrot, onion) and currants Harissa Preserved lemon Braised green beans and broccolini with anchovy, Meyer lemon and rosemary Chocolate ice cream for dessert
  12. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    On Friday, we went to one of our standbys in San Francisco, Esperpento, a tapas restaurant in the Mission. escalivada (roasted eggplant, peppers and onion with hard cooked egg) alcachofas a la plancha (grilled artichokes). Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp). A bit more oily than I'm used to, and the shrimp weren't as big. Still tasty. Albondigas (meatball stew with saffron). Somewhat mediocre. Needed salt. Repollo rehogado (cabbage with garlic and paprika). Chorizo salteado "cantimpalitos" (chorizo sautéed in olive oil). With a glass of sangria and one of amontillado, total bill was $70 for two including a 20% tip. Not bad.
  13. IACP and Six Seasons

    I don't know if any of you have heard, but Six Seasons had won Cookbook of the Year and now it seems that IACP has revoked the award after a massive Twitter backlash. https://www.eater.com/cookbooks/2018/2/27/17059912/iacp-cookbook-of-the-year-2018-six-seasons-twitter-backlash
  14. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    We had veal and pork meatballs last night: 1 lb. ground veal 1 lb. ground pork 1 cup finely chopped onion 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 1/3 cup minced Italian parsley 1 tsp. finely grated Meyer lemon zest 3/4 cup breadcrumbs soaked in 1/2 cup milk salt and pepper 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes And I made a batch of pesto di ortica (stinging nettle pesto): 2/3 cup stinging nettles that have been blanched, then coarsely chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts 2 tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese salt to taste extra-virgin olive oil
  15. California Farmers' Markets

    stinging nettles, chicken, potatoes, turnips, carrots, beets, herbs, eggs, leeks, garlic, lard
  16. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    Braised chicken with leeks Carrots with garlic and Meyer lemon
  17. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    B and I went to Hakka Restaurant (4401 Cabrillo Street (45th Avenue)) in Outer Richmond. We're definitely returning... The menu is voluminous. Pictured are most of the Hakka regional specialties and some of the Cantonese ones. Apparently they give you a complimentary bowl of soup as a sort of a first course. Tonight it was lovely chicken broth with shredded chicken and turnip. The broth was deeply flavored and redolent of garlic and ginger. Sautéed Chinese broccoli with rice wine. Pork stomach with salted preserved vegetable. Slightly chewy and crunchy with a touch of vinegar. Definitely addictive. There's that texture thing going on. B wasn't a fan but I loved it. Home style steamed sea bass, served with black beans, garlic, ginger and scallion. It was awesome. Red bean soup. Again, a complimentary bowl, served for dessert. Lightly sweet and just right. Portions are huge. The total for all this food was $62, not including a 20% tip. We have tons of leftovers too.
  18. Breakfast! 2018

    We went to the Rincon center branch of Yank Sing for dim sum yesterday. If you've never been there, it's a restaurant located in the food court section of Rincon Center. Their main location is at Stevenson Street. There were so many people there just for the dim sum service that tables were set up outside of the restaurant in the court itself. At right is their "to-go" restaurant. We had: Chicken satay. At left are shrimp dumplings. Chive pastries with sesame sauce. Crispy sea bass. Pork dumplings Mushroom dumplings Soup dumplings Potstickers Braised chicken feet Not as good as previous versions I've had. They were covered in a sweet gloppy sauce...disappointing. We missed the Peking duck cart too. Oh well. Total bill came out to $200 for four people. There were some other things ordered not shown - melon balls, egg tarts, mango pudding.
  19. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    Dinner for four: Insalata di puntarelle (puntarelle with a dressing of olive oil, anchovy, Meyer lemon juice and garlic) Spareribs braised in tomato sauce (lard, garlic, canned plum tomatoes, salt, pepper) Broccolini with garlic, anchovy and olio nuevo Homemade lactose-free pistachio ice cream
  20. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    but the pastry work is awesome!
  21. California Farmers' Markets

    today: puntarelle (that's the vegetable you see in the first pic), broccolini spears, carrots, olio nuevo, potatoes, garlic, spare ribs, Oroblanco grapefruits, leeks, thyme, cheese
  22. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    Cala (149 Fell Street (Van Ness Avenue) in Hayes Valley) has the worst service at any restaurant I've ever been to, and that is saying something. San Francisco has a wealth of good establishments (despite my feelings (mostly because we've been eating at the wrong places)). After today's experience, strike this one off the list and here is why: * We were ignored for 15 minutes after being seated while FOH staff attended to two large parties in front of us who were seated at the same time we were; * Staff described the menu to the aforementioned parties, we received only grudging, perfunctory treatment; * The pickled vegetables that you see in the picture below were just laid down in front of us with no explanation whatsoever. Just as the server was about to walk away, B flagged her down and asked for a description; * A minute after receiving the vegetables - which function as an amuse-bouche, a waiter arrived with drinks for the five and six-tops in front of us. He managed to smash one large goblet - somehow - while setting down the drinks, and in the process, doused accidentally B's clothes with alcohol. Shards of glass all over the carpet. No apologies whatsoever. * After that incident, they didn't automatically reseat us; when we asked to be reseated, the waiter glared at us as if our request was out of the question, then relented. * Most of the food is "meh". That's a pity because the menu reads well. At heart, it's overpriced Mexican food and there are much better elsewhere with a fraction of the preciousness. * We ordered dessert. After handing us dessert spoons, they also laid down the check in front of us even though dessert was on the bill but BEFORE we had gotten them. Confronted with this faux pas, staff justified that by saying he thought I had asked for the "receipt". Also, I ordered mint tea which I never received. They comped the desserts...small comfort. Stay away from here. You'll thank me later. Oh, you want to see pictures of the food. Ok... Left: apple-ginger mocktini with hisbiscus agua fresca. Right: Hisbiscus agua fresca. Dungeness crab tostada, celery root, habanero. Abalone tostadas, trout roe, purple daikon. These were "fine". They're basically corn chips with stuff on top. Sorry to sound harsh but you might say that the evening was already tainted. Camaronillas with bay shrimp and carnitas. Sopes playeros with black beans, crema and ricotta salata. If you like thick corn cakes with no flavor and almost flavorless beans, these fit the bill. Tamal with pork and achiote. Probably the best thing we ate all evening. The tamal was steamed inside a banana leaf. Opah salpicón with puntarella and cilantro, served with warm tortillas. Basically a do-it-yourself fish taco. Second best thing we ate tonight. Printing your dessert menu on dark blue paper is a great idea if you like your guests using pocket flashlights just to read them. Buñelo with apples and ricotta. My mom-in-law loved it. Flan de cajeta. Rich and intense. Perfect, actually. Blood orange sorbet.
  23. Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    On Saturday we went to Mr. Fu Kitchen (335 Noe at 17th in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco) where we had Pork potstickers Prawns with snow peas (pic shot after we scooped up a serving) Five flavor chicken (a weird combination of General Tso's and sweet and sour chicken). Very tasty and not too spicy. Would definitely return. I think the cooks are from northern China; still trying to place their food, and in any event, it's nice to have an alternative to our usual spot. Tonight (Sunday) we had minestrone, served with extra-virgin olive oil and a hefty sprinkling of grated Parm-Reg cheese.
  24. Kumquats - Any ideas?

    I like them in a salad with endive. There's that interplay of sweet, sour and bitter. Or with delicata squash agrodolce and spicy raisins. I also pickle them, typically with cardamom and vinegar.
  25. What time do you eat Dinner?

    typically whenever I feel like it it's 11:21 pm Pacific time right now and I'm about to have leftover spareribs in tomato sauce and leftover braised green beans blood oranges for dessert I prefer eating late whenever possible - but change to earlier times usually on the weekend when I have dinner with B.