February 21, 2012

Two-Fer Tuesday


The ladies and gentlemen who spent the better part of three years baking their way through Dorie Greenspan's Baking - From My Home to Yours have a new project for 2012.Over three hundred home bakers from around the world are lining up their measuring spoons and mixing bowls and baking their way through Baking with Julia. According to the brains behind the operation, four of the bakers are men. Fifty three of us are Californians.

That's right, us. Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie, redux: Baking with Julia. Please fasten your seat belts, and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. If the first two recipes are any indication, it promises to be a wild, sugar soaked, butter laden ride.

Uh huh. I said two recipes. I wasn't willing to pull my dad's signed copy of the book out from under plastic, so I killed some time procuring a working copy. The rest of the group started two weeks ago, with the White Loaves on page 81. Our foundress Laurie and her faithful sidekick Jules hosted the inaugural run, and if you're looking for the recipe, you can either buy the book or head to their blogs for it. And let me just say the book is worth the purchase price for this recipe alone.

I'm no stranger to bread baking. I've baked some pretty tasty loaves over the years. So the fact that I've uttered the words "the best white bread. ever" no less than a dozen times in the last 48 hours is non-trivial. The recipe makes two loaves. They slice easily, toast beautifully, and won't make it to the weekend.

The recipe behind curtain number two features chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. The Chocolate Truffle Tartlets on page 382 showcase bittersweet chocolate as the headliner, with white and milk chocolate chips in supporting roles, and a cameo appearance by dutch processed cocoa in the crumbly pastry crust. Our hosts Steph, Spike, Jaime and Jessica have the recipe for you. Don't let the term tartlet fool you. These are for sharing. Three or four ways. They taste like candy. And they freeze beautifully.

And as our heroine Julia would say, bon appetit!

February 08, 2012

Eleven Herbs & Spices...

Corn meal?

Accent Flavor Enhancer (tm)?

Malted Milk powder?

Odd (and not inexpensive – a 2 ounce vial of Accent costs nearly seven bucks)… but after nearly fifteen years on a mission to find a copycat recipe of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s original recipe chicken livers, anything goes.

So we raided my spice drawer for the basics, headed to the marts of trade for the esoterics, and armed with a pound of chicken livers (for John) and chicken tenders (for me), we embarked on an epicurean expedition in search of finger lickin’ good.

We've been here before. And judging by my Google Analytics numbers, there are a lot of you out there in the same boat.

Well this time we've done it. Mission, accomplished. This is it folks. The Colonel would be proud of what came out of an inch of frying oil.

Now we just owe the guy who sent us this link a bucket of original recipe and a dozen of my Dorie-inspired cream biscuits. A small price to pay for a bit of fast food Americana.

Finger Lickin' Chicken Tenders

February 01, 2012

A Three Day, Three County Culinary Tour

Lavonna's visiting from Minnesota for the weekend. So we pack the trunk with provisions and wind our way to Windsor. Through Walnut Creek.

First stop: Sasa, Walnut Creek's hopping Izakaya-inspired hot spot. The food is edgy but interesting, and the crowd's typically younger, hipper, and more happening than we are. But the staff is warm and welcoming, and from the "fish fries" and lotus chips to the sisig and pork belly specials, we adore chef de cuisine Sam Castro's take on local and seasonal with a pan Asian flair.

Satiated, we hit the road for Windsor. About 5 miles southeast of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, the Worldmark Resort in Windsor would be our home base for a weekend of food and wine adventures.

Saturday we had a scrumptious breakfast (and some dessert) at Della Fattoria in Petaluma, where the gorgeous caffe lattes and the sausage scramble piadina hit the spot. We didn't leave empty handed -- a hefty loaf of meyer lemon rosemary bread was the first of the day's additions to the trunk.

From Della Fattoria, we went on a bit of a cheese tour, with stops at the Spring Hill Cheese Company in downtown Petaluma and the Matos Cheese Factory farm in Santa Rosa. With bread and dairy procured, we spent the afternoon chasing the fruit of the vine, with visits to Raymond Burr Vineyard, Quivira, and Francis Ford Coppola. We ended the evening with a splendid dinner at Coppola's Rustic, featuring a menu full of Francis' homestyle favorites.

Sunday we made a road trip to Hopland, and after a brief encounter with California Highway Patrol (where I acknowledged my expired tags and learned that a licence plate on the front of the vehicle is now a requirement) we enjoyed a variety of wines and chocolates at Brutocao Cellars. Our last stop on the Sonoma County tour was Guy Fieri's Johnny Garlic's (which is now apparently opening an outpost in San Jose).