build your own cheeseboard chocolate almond macarons (sucre cuit method) roasted chanterelle mushrooms huckleberry pistachio chocolate bar


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archive for November 2009

i am the padawan

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Recipe: big bob gibson’s barbecue ribs

**Warning** It’s a long post, but there IS a recipe at the end.

The road to knowledge has never been so fun. My teaser from a few weeks ago was a quick glimpse into the Rigorous Studies that I and several food bloggers/writers endured in California. Kingsford University’s 3-day program took us from Oakland to Healdsburg for a thorough study in buttermilk fried chicken, charcoal, slow cooked pork insanity ecstasy, Zinfandel, spice rubs, and grilled pizza. As with any university experience, the journey with your classmates and what you learn from them is just as important as the knowledge gained. So let me hit upon the highlights or else we’ll be here all day and all night!

Orientation: Everyone boarded the bus outside The Claremont Hotel and rode to Picán for an evening that started with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres mixer on the patio. I was quite delighted in the parade of pecan and hickory smoked pork ribs, country ham and cheddar hushpuppies, chicken liver pâté and chow chow herbed biscuits, and Louisiana crab toasts because I had eaten one crunchy taco all day in my rush to the Denver Airport. [And thus my dirty little secret was revealed to my fellow food buffs: Jen ate Taco Bell Hell.]


i had never dined in oakland before

these biscuits were morsels of tender, melty wonderment



Eventually we were encouraged to mosey into the private dining room where Diane and I immediately scoped out the best seats for shooting – toward the back and against the wall. Priorities, kids. There was much conversation, much shooting of food porn, and of course heaps of phenomenal food. We were welcomed by Drew McGowan of The Clorox Company (parent company of Kingsford), Chef Dean Dupuis, and pitmaster Chris Lilly.

drew and dean introduce themselves and oakland to the group

first course: famous buttermilk fried chicken

first course: choice of shrimp and grits or southern caesar (this was diane’s shrimp and grits)

entrées: choice of grilled berkshire pork shoulder (that’s what i chose)

or grilled loch duarte salmon (what jen selected)

dessert: pear upside down cake

chris talks with picán’s fabulous event manager, miriam



On the bus ride back to the hotel, Chris Lilly sat next to me. I love Chris Lilly. He immediately struck me as a warm, friendly, and down-to-Earth kinda guy. Pitmaster. Wait a second, make that ten time world champion pitmaster and executive chef of Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q. What does that title say to you? It says “badass” to me. He is the Yoda of barbecue, but he didn’t make us do handstands while sitting on our feet as we tried to levitate the X-wing fighter out of the swamp. Chris was a far kinder master and had Luke been hanging out with Chris instead of Yoda, he wouldn’t have complained about the food… not a peep.

Charcoal 101: The next morning, I managed to wake up early enough to squeak in a workout (after wandering about the grounds of the Claremont in search of the fitness facilities) before we had to load up onto the bus and head over to The Clorox Tech Center where we were greeted with breakfast before sitting down for presentations given by the Kingsford research and development team and an unveiling of their latest product. Our group wasn’t shy at all and many of us piped up with questions, engaged in good discussion with the Kingsford folks as well as with Chris (he’s not a pitmaster for nothing, kids). I’m a gas griller for many reasons the main one being fear of burning down the state of Colorado. My fear has always been rooted in ignorance – my ignorance of how to grill using charcoal properly. Every minute I learned about charcoal at a more fundamental level (think engineering and physics) and in terms of what cooks are looking for, the more comfortable I was with the idea of charcoal grilling.


i dig the lectures

chris discusses what he looks for in charcoal performance



**Jump for more butter**

thankful

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Recipe: spicy tuna stuffed squid tempura

**Note**: Daring Bakers, it came down to the wire and I chose sanity over the DBs yesterday. Forge ahead and hope those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a great one. xoxo

I expect most everyone is in a complete state of food coma at this point. Am I right? We are actually quite happily not in food coma over here just because I’ve sort of had it with food lately (the making, the eating, the documenting). December is less than a week away and that entire month is about FOOD, so we gave ourselves a little break. Plus there was work to be done this morning. We had to pick a winner for the scarf giveaway.


your mission, should you choose to accept it…



Kaweah loves to participate in picking random numbers as long as the motivator is food. Try throwing a ball and she’ll run after the ball, then run right past it, then keep on running, until you wave a dog biscuit in the air and holler, “TREAT!” So the set up was to place ten pieces of paper numbered zero through nine around our great room with a bit of carrot on it. Then we let Kaweah into the room and recorded the first number she ate. Jeremy had to police her because the last time we tried this, Kaweah ate one number and then mowed through four more before we could stop her. Then we repeated this twice more. I’m sure some of you are thinking if she hits the first number, she’ll just return to the same place each time. Nope. Our good pup isn’t that bright. Seriously. She is totally in the moment.

jeremy chases after kaweah to make sure she doesn’t eat the rest of the numbers

our crazy random number generator gave us 983



We took 983 mod 221 (I know a few people said they weren’t entering, but anyone leaving a comment is considered entered because it’s too much work for me to remove them) and got #99. Congratulations to Dani of Dani Dishes! You win the scarf and you get to pick the colorway of your choice! I’ll be sending an email shortly. Thank you to everyone who shared what Thanksgiving was about to you. Food was probably the biggest along with family, and some of you really tugged at my heartstrings especially remembering those who aren’t with us anymore. It was so nice of you to share with me.

Our Thanksgiving was very low key foodwise because we are both swamped with work. I kept our “meal” simple, but special. Mostly, we just wanted to have a quiet day including a nice walk before sunset. I’m thankful for the little things as much as the big things in life.


this snow will likely last through the spring

someone was particularly happy and well-behaved today

definitely thankful for these two



What we ate for our Thanksgiving meal (it’s too early to be called dinner, too late for lunch) is known as Tiger’s Eye at our favorite sushi restaurant in South Pasadena. It is spicy tuna stuffed calamari that is tempura fried, sliced, and served with ponzu sauce. I didn’t have ponzu sauce on hand, so I had to make my own. The recipe I use calls for bonito flakes. I never have bonito flakes on hand either (although you can buy them in Asian markets and I recommend this – or better yet, just buy ponzu sauce). However, I did have a giant piece of dried bonito.

it looks like driftwood

pouring lemon juice and rice wine vinegar into the soy sauce and bonito flakes



**Jump for more butter**

chinese lion’s head meatballs

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Recipe: chinese lion’s head meatballs

Have you entered to win a scarf made by yours truly yet? You’ve got one more day. And even if you live in let’s say, a volcano, you can always give the scarf as a gift to someone you like! Or you could give it to your sworn enemy as a gesture of good will as opposed to a swift kick in the shins. Just sayin’.

Jeremy and I attended a tweet up in Boulder Tuesday evening at Centro hosted by Rick Bakas (follow on Twitter @RickBakas) and St. Supéry. I know it seems backwards, but Twitter has kept me connected with many of my global blog friends while introducing me to several local people – many of whom I get to meet in real life (IRL) at tweet ups, community events, and the like. Plus, it’s so nice to finally speak to these good people without having to worry about that 140 character limit.


there were five wines for tasting

centro filled up

centro serves up latin fare in a lively atmosphere

the wall o’ live tweets

kurt heckel brings great wines like st. supéry to all of colorado



Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I have done zero with respect to Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not all that worried. I know we’ll have dinner, but it won’t be a Thanksgiving dinner this year. It will be… dinner (something that swims or at least used to swim). The thought of a giant meal makes me sleepy which in turn makes me want to go play in the snow and burn a lot of calories. Hey – no one ever said I made any sense! My Dad has been known to boycott the traditional turkey ever since I left home for college, so it isn’t all that out of character for me to follow in his footsteps.

A specialty that my dad makes is called Lion’s head meatballs. These are giant Chinese pork meatballs that are tender, full of flavor, and very moist. Two years ago when I was at my parents’ home, I asked my dad to show me how to make the recipe and it took me a couple of tries to get it right in my own kitchen. It’s one of Jeremy’s favorite dishes and my parents always make some whenever we visit.


ground pork, green onions, ginger, bamboo shoots, chinese mushrooms

coat the meatballs in flour



**Jump for more butter**