Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Italian Feast-- October Cook the Book

It's October. It's time to cook the book Italian Style courtesy of Marcella Hazan's The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The cookbooks were chosen earlier this year, but this one turned out to be very timely, as Ms. Hazan passed away on September 29.

It's hard to cook Italian food for a small group, so we decided that we needed a mob! We recruited a few friends to come and eat dinner with us. The six of us were so eager to eat we didn't even stop to take "before" pictures, so you all get to see a bit of the unconventional. Six plates, in various states, from full to half-eaten.

Angela had to get this cookbook from J.K., who thought ahead and reserved it from the library (Angela did too, but her copy just wasn't going to show up in time). It's another book with few pictures (and those are line drawings) so it was a real toss up as to what to make for dinner. However, it was easy as 1, 2, 3 once we found the menu planners in the back of the book! Since J.K. was really excited about the dessert, why not make the 'A Rustic Menu  II' to go with it?! Brilliant.

Piadina- Flat Griddle Bread, p 641 and Sauteed Mixed Greens
with Olive Oil and Garlic
Pork Sausages with  Smothered Onions and Tomatoes, p 429
Shredded Carrot Salad, p 549
Baked Red Beets, p 558
Ciambella–Grandmothers Pastry Ring p 592 (served with Limoncello)

Plus Auxillary Recipes
 Polenta, 274 (with butter and aged gouda)
 Orange and Cucumber Salad p 552
 Banana and Rum Gelato p 611


TWO- clockwise- cucumber salad, roasted beets, greens, carrot salad, sausage with polenta and sauce


FOUR-clockwise-Polenta, carrot salad, griddle bread, beets, cucumber salad, sausage w/ sauce and greens


Our group had some great conversation, lots of laughter and delish Italian food. One guest said this was her most favorite Italian meal ever--because it featured a lot of vegetables and No pasta. Hey, Angela was a bit worried about the no pasta deal, but polenta was an awesome mix with the tomato-ey saucey goodness from the sausage (which was a fancy beef/pork splurge from the local FM). Additionally, Angela chose to change up the recipes for the Piadina (using wheat flour), plus she  subbed some of the 3 greens that went with the recipe. Raddichio, spinach and beet tops ended up in the pot and the greens turned out great, even though Angela felt she was pouring all the nutrients down the drain after boiling them.

Stephanie brought the Cucumber and Orange salad and it was just right, even though the weather outside was a bit chill. To combat the temperature we drank wine (mulled or straight) and a bit of limoncello brought by our dessert guru, J.K. Speaking of dessert, the pastry ring was a bit like a scone in texture and paired perfectly with the gelato. (Yes J.K. broke out the ice cream maker again, it's earning its keep after all these years.) Angela had something special tucked away as well, and this seemed the perfect time to break it out. No dessert is complete without chocolate, so we topped our treat with Chocolate Wine Sauce from the Coppola Winery collection. Delightful!

Pastry Ring with Banana Rum Gelato smothered in Chocolate Wine Sauce  PERFECTION

*Angela asked for this cookbook as a Christmas gift--the recipes are easy and give great taste! The salads are simple and full of flavor! Check it out!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lunch with Beth–San Francisco Fish Company

The San Francisco Fish Company, in the Ferry Building Marketplace, has an extensive selection of seafood, both prepared and raw. The sandwich selection is equally extensive, and made to order. But somehow, we always opt for the soft-shell crab, which is available year-round. That means they're using frozen  crab, but that's actually an advantage. Crabs start growing their new shells immediately after shedding the old ones, so in-season "soft" crab can sometimes be a little tough. If they're frozen immediately after shedding, they retain their "velvet" texture.

There's plenty of seating in back of the building, with scenic views. It was very sunny at lunchtime, so we went upstairs to get some shade. This character immediately joined us on our bench and serenaded us, in hope of a handout. He appears to be a Hermit Thrush, but obviously he's a little unclear on the concept of being a hermit!
Feathered freeloader singing for his supper.
The sandwich is served on a soft, but not squishy, roll, with lettuce, remoulade sauce and a separate garnish of coleslaw. A few salads are also available as sides. 
We didn't encourage our visitor, but he was very bold, landing on us and snatching crumbs from my sandwich. He seems to have learned a lot from the seagulls. Fortunately, he isn't big enough to fly off with the whole sandwich.
Aggressive beggar about to steal a crumb
How do you feel about feathered beggars? Are you more likely to feed the cute ones?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Andersen Bread in the Embarcadero Center

Andersen Bakery just opened another FiDi location at Two Embarcadero Center. The walls are glass so the shop is light and airy.
 There's a complete selection of bakery items which are very hard to resist.
  Also a selection of chips and drinks to complement your salad, soup and/or sandwich.
Beth chose the BBQ Chicken on toasted Ciabatta. Chicken breast, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, cabbage slaw, chipotle mayo and BBQ sauce. Chips on the side.
I went for a total bacon experience with the California BLT. Crisp bacon, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, tomato, cucumber and sliced avocado. No mayo for me, but it's the default.
We're always interested in new places to have lunch. What's your favorite sandwich shop?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Beth Reports In On Ike's Place

There's a restored version of the Heathen (Lord Summerisle's term, not Pagan) horror flick "The Wicker Man" touring about, and Beth wanted to see it during its stop at the Castro Theater.  She took the Underground to Castro Station after work Friday, a beautiful evening with no fog feathering its way down over Twin Peaks. What to do for supper? Well, there was trying one of the pizzas or some such at Starbelly, but something more likely to be reliably faster might be in order.

One would think that would leave out Ike's Place, since that sandwich place quickly got so popular that the neighbors wanted it shut down over the crowds that would gather. Well, Ike's had the good luck of dodging that bullet, and Beth had the good luck of arriving during a slow time and being able to sit on the bench in the window to eat.
Her choice? The Big Momma, which is halal chicken and provolone with Buffalo sauce and ranch dressing.  She had it on "Ike's famous Dutch crunch." Kettle chips from Louisiana come with the sandwich (she chose mesquite barbecue), and with a bottle of Ike's own pecan pie soda (made with real cane sugar), she had supper for about $12.75. With a caramel apple lollipop thrown in for dessert.

Ambrosial? Well, maybe not quite that. Solidly good and generous tasty sandwich? Yes, absolutely. The sodas, though ... aside from the usual Stewart's selections, Ike's peaches and cream, Ike's Shirley Temple ... hard to resist. The meat looks all halal, which means no tasty pig products. Cute bathroom, with names and names of food spelled out in psychedelic script.
Maybe it's the weekend lunch traffic that was driving people crazy. Beth was glad to be able to check out this cult sandwich joint, and to step out of the theater at quarter of nine to warm weather.