San Francisco Through My Foodie Eyes

San Francisco

San Francisco

I don’t really know how to tell you this other than to blurt it out. Here goes (deep breath)… until last weekend I’d never been to California. Okay, that’s a little bit untrue – I did spend one night in Los Angeles in 2000 but it was dark I promise I didn’t really see anything.

Luckily, my California drought ended last weekend when I spent three whole days – well, two of those included travel – in San Francisco for the BlogHer Food conference, and I have to say I’m smitten all around. First of all, I loved the food bloggers I met and spent time with. They were so friendly and warm that I just had the best time getting to know everyone.

But aside from the bloggers, I was also a little smitten with San Francisco itself. This was especially true when I returned home to Chicago and as I walked down my street the cold lake wind blew through my fleece. I had a sudden flash-forward to doing the same walk in January with wind chills in the negatives and suddenly wanted nothing more than to go back to San Francisco.

Hey – anyone out there have a job available??? Just asking.

Hill SF0007 Hill SF0008

Bus SF00020 Bus SF0011

(Look what they had to put under the fire truck’s wheels? You’d never see that in Chicago.)

Oh, but do you think they could do something about those hills? My sad mid-western legs didn’t care for them.

I won’t get too much into the conference as there are so many other bloggers (see below) who have captured everything so wonderfully, including inspiring sessions and fabulous after party complete with a kick-ass gift bag! So loving Scharffen Berger and Chef’s Catalog right now.

BlogHer SF00012 Yummy Rocco DiSpiritoMe and Rocco Dispirito!

Instead I want to show pictures from the small parts of San Francisco I was able to visit. First, my favorite place: the Ferry Building (AKA a foodie paradise):

Read more of this >>

Share

Mom’s Kugel

Kugel

Mom's Kugel

One of my all-time favorite foods is kugel. A sweetened noodle casserole, kugel has been a staple at holiday meals throughout my life. There are so many different types of kugel, running the gamut from a little sweet to dessert sweet, but what makes it good really comes down to personal preference.

Kugel00023

My favorite kugel will always be my mom’s, which was the runner-up in last year’s kugel-off. Much to her chagrin, I spiced it up a bit with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. She claims I destroyed the kugel but it got mad raves at Rosh Hashana dinner with people specifically commenting that they liked the (slight) cinnamonny flavor.

Kugel00017 Kugel00018 Kugel00019

Kugel00020 Kugel00021 Kugel00022

In our family kugel is always served as a side dish although I enjoy eating the leftovers cold, just as I used to in college when my mom would send me back to school with a fresh pan. However you choose to eat kugel, the key is to make it, and I do hope you’ll try this version.

Kugel00024

Here’s the recipe:

Read more of this >>

Share

Holy Vegetable, I Might Be a Food Snob

Pasta with vegetables

Pasta with vegetables

I’m often referred to as a food snob, usually by family and close friends but sometimes by acquaintances who like to make assumptions. The people who know me well say it to bug me, but the truth is that I do hold food to a higher standard than most, which makes me a snob in their eyes.

And you know what? I’m good with that. Food is my life, it’s what I do and what interests me most.

From my point of view it comes down to standards, which we all should have in our work. I don’t want to offend anyone, but for me it wouldn’t be a big deal to have one of those franchise tax places prepare my tax returns. But for you CPAs out there – and I know quite a few who read this blog – that would be the worst thing I could do in your eyes. And I understand why. It’s because you spent years in college, some earning a masters, then labored over the CPA exams to make yourselves experts in your field.

It’s the same concept with me and food. I study it and teach it, so of course I want my products to be the best. If I choose to spend twice as much on organic, locally grown, freshly picked heirloom tomatoes than on the chemically-ripened, mealy, each-one-looks-identical tomatoes flown in from Chile, then good for me!

And yes, I will always turn my nose up to what I consider fake food. Be it butter substitute made from chemicals I can’t pronounce to “maple” syrup that consists mainly of corn syrup, I will always prefer the real thing.

The fact of the matter is my food doesn’t have to fancy, pretentious, or even completely made from scratch. It just has to be quality.

Real food. Fresh food. Flavorful food. Good food.

Share

Transitioning to Fall with Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms, Tomatoes & Spinach

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms, Tomatoes & Spinach

As sad as I am to say goodbye to summer, I’m equally excited to welcome the flavors of fall, my all-time favorite food season. This is the time of year when summer produce still lingers at the farmer’s markets (tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.) while the bounty of fall is just ripening: hearty root vegetables, dark leafy greens and best of all winter squash.

Spaghetti squash0007 Spaghetti squash0013 Spaghetti squash0010

My favorite varieties of winter squash are the delicatas and buttercups which are small and sweet, but it’s during this transitional time of the year that I crave spaghetti squash. I find it to be the perfect crossover vegetable providing a canvas for combining summer and fall flavors.

Spaghetti squash0014 Spaghetti squash0011 Spaghetti squash0012

In this case I mixed cooked spaghetti squash with sauteed garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach, making for a hearty, delicious and super healthy meal. The entire dish takes less than 20 minutes to make and the microwave does half the work. And it’s a fantastic as a vegetarian entree or side dish to chicken or fish.

Spaghetti squash0015

Here’s the recipe:

Read more of this >>

Share

Roasted Fig Salad

Roasted Fig Salad

Roasted Fig Salad

There’s more to Rosh Hashana than round challah, brisket, kugel, and apples dipped in honey. It’s a celebration of the new year, a time to start fresh, and I couldn’t think of any better way to begin the holiday than at my sister’s apartment where she and her husband hosted their first grown-up dinner/family holiday meal. I’m not going to discuss the meal as a whole because I’m hoping to convince her to guest blog about the experience, but I will talk about one of my contributions: roasted fig salad.

One of the things I was asked to bring was the salad course and I knew almost immediately that I wanted it to include figs. For one thing, figs have been on my mind lately and I’ve been looking for an excuse to experiment with them a bit. Second, in general I like fruit in salads (it’s that whole sweet-savory palate thing) but in this case figs seemed extremely fitting for both seasonal and symbolic reasons.

Fig Salad0001 Fig Salad0002 Fig Salad0003

But, of course, there’s a twist: roasting the figs. This is very simple to do and requires no more effort than it takes to quarter a bunch of figs, chop some rosemary and cook those ingredients in the oven with olive oil. Roasting the figs deepens their flavors and infuses them with the savory elements of fresh rosemary.

After the figs have been roasted all that’s left is to toast the walnuts, whip up a quick balsamic vinaigrette and toss it all together with arugula and shaved manchego cheese. The bitter, astringent, peppery and tangy flavors of those ingredients work to balance the sweetness of the figs.

This recipe is great not only for Rosh Hashana, but for anytime you’re craving a filling and delicious salad, so long as fresh figs are available.

Here’s the recipe:

Read more of this >>

Share

Blog Widget by LinkWithin