A Journey Through Gastronomy

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Happy Valentines

 

Holiday Cornbread

5f3f26b45a1511e392900a27148c0424_8I meant to post this recipe during the Thanksgiving holiday season, but since it has long passed might as well go into the other holiday season. Christmas.

We ended up at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving, a close friend of ours Alanna and Arlo. They have had us over at their house for the past couple of years, along with a great handful of other friends.  It’s really fun, and always jam-packed with different nibbles and sides galore. So the challenge was what to bring this year?

This wasn’t procrastination, instead it was another moment of playing “Hey whats in my pantry?”, maybe it was both.  Alanna usually masters the turkey and invites a hoard of folks over with their favorite sides. This year was a bit more mellow, so I came with three dishes. One of the dishes was a carrot, green bean and walnut salad with browned butter, the other was a little gem salad with watermelon radish apples tossed with a lemony tarragon and blue cheese dressing, and this little one; a blue corn and cranberry upside down skillet bread. Think of it like your average savory cornbread mixed with an upside down cake.  I happened to have some blue corn on hand. It’s been hiding in a dark corner in my pantry waiting for me to use it, and what a perfect time to do so. I didn’t have enough cranberries to make a sauce, plus the hostess already made a really great fig and cranberry one, so there you go an impromptu side. It’s nice, slightly tart from the cranberries, slightly sweet, buttery, and savory.  I really suggest the coarse cornmeal for these type of recipes because they just have a better texture, the crunch is a little more interesting.

I could imagine this recipe being really great with fresh herbs lightly sautéed into the cranberries right before the batter is even spooned over, right before being plopped into the oven. I used a coarse heirloom corn variety that I got from the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s market. I can’t remember the name but it’s the stall where the lady sells her pepper jams, and beans…towards the middle back…can you help me? Anyways, I’ve been wanting to use this for a while and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Hmm…this would also be really nice with citrus on the bottom…stop me now.

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For this recipe I have replaced the coarse blue cornmeal with coarse yellow cornmeal. It’s just easier to get, I recommend Bob’s Red Mill because it’s pretty much available at most markets.  I also used chickpea flour in the same amount, but regular AP flour works just fine.

Cranberry Upside down Skillet Cornbread

  • 2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal -
  • 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour – or chickpea flour if you can get it
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 stick butter – melted
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/8th teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400°.

For the first part of this recipe combine the dry ingredients; cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, etc. Mix all ingredients together, to well incorporate. Then add the wet ingredients into the same bowl; buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, water. Using any type of utensil that you need, incorporate dries and wets together to form a batter. Let sit.

Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, combine cranberries, olive oil, sugar and salt, cook on medium to medium low heat until cranberries have softened and skins have blistered.

Pour/spoon batter over cranberries and spread evenly. Lightly drizzle edges of pan with olive oil and place in oven while skillet is still hot.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Welcome LOLA !

I have a special guest today!

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, a super fun and surprising recipe by my friend Dolores.  She brings us a vibrant cranberry sauce with a subtle kick, a traditional non traditional and festive sauce that every Thanksgiving table needs. A little perk me up when things can go bland, and when you don’t want that plastic bottle of Sriracha in the middle of the table among the floral arrangements and goards.

Dolores at the Market

I’ve known Dolores for a really long time, we both grew up in Chino, California and have now both long moved from this suburban town.

For the past couple of years Dolores has been traveling through Oaxaca learning the regional cuisine and after some studying in Mexico for her masters thesis, she spent her off time taking cooking classes and getting more in depth with her rich Mexican heritage and her family’s cooking. Easy to say, she has one of those stories that involves a life long passion for cuisine, traditional flavors, cooking which she has now converted into a website Lola’s Cocina.

I am super proud of her and want to give space for her here on my blog, she is absolutely one of the nicest individual who you could ever meet. Not to mention she is also beautiful, and super down to earth.  Go visit her colorful cooking site Lola’s Cocina. 

Please visit Lola’s Cocina and try her other recipes! Thanks Dolores for the pictures and your enthusiasm. Congrats!

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Ingredients:
1 ½ cup water
1 cup sugar
4 cups fresh cranberries
10-15 dry japones chile peppers
½ lemon juiced
¼ teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow sugar to dissolve.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cranberries, dry chiles, lemon juice, and salt.
  3. Continue to cook until cranberries are soft and most of the water is absorbed (approximately 30 to 45 minutes). Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Once soft, remove from heat and cool.
  4. Once cool, add mixture to blender and blend until smooth on medium-high setting.
  5. Pour mixture back into pot and simmer over low-medium heat for 30 minutes or until slightly reduced and darker in color.
  6. Pour into mason jars and allow to cool in refrigerator overnight before serving.

Authors Note: Dry japones chile peppers can be found in the Hispanic section of most supermarkets. They may also be substituted with dry chile de árbol. I used 10 chiles for this recipe and the spiciness was very subtle once the sauce cooled. 

Absence

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Fewer and fewer. I know that I really haven’t kept with posting…I know that time will pass and I will say this again…
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Thanks Summer

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Hope you had a great Summer, because mine has been nothing less than…fascinating and heart crushing.

Yes, fascinating, it’s just been interesting, it’s given a good handful of change. Ups aaaannnnd downs. As another Autumnal season starts, so soon does another chapter. Chapter 32 (that’s how old I turned this June).  

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This Summer I ventured on a little trip to Portland with Emily, spent quality time with friends - HI LADIES!  Got to spend some time with my beautiful nieces nephew and family, went on a trip to Mexico City (by the way it’s pretty awesome), and I have a few really great work/career opportunities that are blossoming. Then of course there were the days where it felt like life withered away in bed while I lazily gazed at the ceiling.

My summer has consisted of lots of food related work out side of a restaurant or commercial kitchen. It’s also been fairly quiet, with lots of contemplative days and nights. It’s odd to have spent the past few years as a line cook, rotating through jobs within the industry trying to find that groove. Often times wondering if I was on the right path.  I think I finally found my groove. Between here and there I have spent time at the beach, chasing sun, figuring out new bus lines, reading Astrologyzone.com, and trying to find an affordable apartment or studio in San Francisco.

I often talk about balance. So strong have I been in trying to find this balance in my life, and it seems so much more elusive.  More than anything this summer was learning about acceptance; validity with my emotions, career choices and self.

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It’s all nice ol’ rickety roller coaster.

I am Hungry…

Menu planning is fun, especially when you collaborate with others who can understand you and vice versa.

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Out With the Old

Hey look below…it’s a mermaid staring into the sun…59f5aef0cd6911e2bdcf22000a1fbe62_7

Sometimes a break if given to you. When you don’t want it. When you don’t think you need it.

Sometimes I wonder, what did I do wrong? Not much sense in trying to make sense of the wrongs. I’d rather move on to find the right.

Starting about 2 weeks ago, I no longer work at this establishment mentioned in a previous post: Read All About It… It looks like I am off again to another chapter.

I don’t visit many blogs, but one I often go to for inspiration is Heidi Swanson’s. This recent recipe by Heidi is a stupidly delicious mung bean hummus. I mean…really really addictive. It is heavily reminiscent of my Vietnamese flavors found in soups and other savouries that remind me of my childhood.

 101CookBooks - Visit here for a medley of inspiring and outrageously clean and delicious recipes. Thank you Heidi for the hello! HELLO!!

I must say,

If you like that then you will also love…

QuitoKeeto - Visit here for some really beautiful items and recipes.

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Opps…Really Late Post…

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The weather was sunny, balmy, gorgeous, and boy was it a day to remember.

Hmm…What was it about 3 Autumns ago? Maybe 2? A group of friends who all happen to be cooks and chefs met up at a little lush gem tucked away in Bolinas, CA. Together we cooked a delicious feast and had a really great time and lots of laughs. Night fell when we all sat around a table filled to the brim with garden fresh vegetables, a stew, a roast, a couple of salads, mains and side galore…

We all brought our arsenal of spices, vinegars…actually each brought his or her own pantry. I still can taste the nasturtium butter that Kristen had made, Kim’s warm salt encrusted bread right out of the wood fired oven, Rachel’s tomato jam and fruit pies, Andrew using a saw to cut apart the fresh goat, and Erin’s enthusiasm and professionalism with setting up the event and planning for the whole day.

Sorry it took so long for the pictures, but I forgot I had the file!  Teeheehee

All Photos: Daniel Dent 

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I Was Always Thinking…

Maybe summer will bring me more bubbles…

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(Open house at Headlands Center for The Arts )
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(On James Tucker’s ye ol’ boat Familia Santa)

When I was a little girl, I would dance and sing to this Saint Etienne song. Nothing much has changed, my love for this song. But, our challenges, barriers and difficulties, it’s scope is widened and is often masked  by a dark veil. We’ll get over it. To become stronger and more vigilant in our approach to better ourselves and our lives. Nothing like hitting the play button a few more times, just don’t get sick of it yet.

Summer is coming. What will it bring? Berries, flowers, stone fruits, heat heat heat.

Be nice jerks…

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(Lonely geetar in a corner)

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