Towse: views from the hill

December 23, 2008

Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding – David Lebovitz

Filed under: blog,food,recipes — Towse @ 2:33 am

Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding – David Lebovitz

Sounds delightful. His nibs isn’t a huge date fan, however.

David Lebovitz’ site and blog are full of foodie gems. Worth perusing.

We were discussing mincemeat over at Debbie Ohi’s facebook. I favor meat & suet homemade mincemeat with apples & brandy & sultanas, &c. Others tout a no-meat-only-fruit mincemeat. Lebovitz has a dandy meatless mincemeat.

Costco chicken from the roasting spit = redux

Filed under: food,life,recipes — Towse @ 12:32 am

Used the breast meat I’d set aside on Friday night for dinner last night: THREE GINGER CHICKEN

Roux made w/ flour and 2T butter.

Add chicken broth (canned … sorry for the purists who might blanche at the thought), madeira, cream. Use hand blender to get any lumps out of the sauce.

Add white meat sliced into finger sized pieces. Toss in ginger powder, chopped up candied ginger, minced fresh ginger. (I added a lot of each. I love ginger.)

Heat through and let sit while flavors mellow.

Serve hot with steamed rice and green beans, zapped in the microwave.

We still have three or so servings of chicken pot pie in the frig. Dinner tonight is either chicken pot pie with added mushrooms browned with garlic and butter (must use up mushrooms) or we’ll save the pot pie for another day and laze around tonight with white wine, crackers and Boccalone coppa di testa.

Update: Dinner tonight was chicken pot pie.

Didn’t feel terribly hungry after lunch: salmon over a [deconstructed] rock shrimp hash on a bed of pesto. Delish. Shared dessert was a poached pear with what appeared to be whipped cream. But it wasn’t. The “cream” was bleu cheese whipped with cream into a light-ish froth. Sublime. Delish as well.

Tonight when the clock rolled round to 7:30/8:00 I still wasn’t hungry. Didn’t feel like adding mushrooms browned with garlic and butter to the pot pie. Still full from lunch. Luckily, his nibs was of a similar mind.

Light supper.

We’ll figure out what to do with the mushrooms that need to be eaten. (Mushroom omelet for breakfast tomorrow?)

Tomorrow evening we’re off to a short-notice spontaneous year-end HOLIDAYS! house-gathering/dinner with friends. Attendees include old friends from twenty-plus years back. Half of the host couple is a sib of the twenty-years-back friend and her family. Really nice that we wound up so close to them, geographically.

Gathering will include new friends and neighbors too. Children we haven’t seen in years. Not children anymore.

Looking forward to it. Sweet. This is why we try not to overbook at the year-end holidays.

December 21, 2008

Costco chicken from the roasting spit

Filed under: food,recipes,shopshopshop — Towse @ 9:31 pm

On Tuesday, when I was fasting and girding my loins for the prep mix I needed to drink, his nibs was at work. He stopped at Trader Joe’s and Costco on the way home for milk, eggs, gas, things we’d run low on before we left town.

At Costco, he bought a rotisserie chicken — $4.99 — something we’d never bought before. He needed something for dinner because he knew I was fasting and wouldn’t feel like cooking, and he didn’t want anything complicated. Roast chicken sounded good to him (and smelled sinfully delicious to my poor fasting self when he arrived home with it). He said the rotisserie chicken shelves, usually filled with packaged roasted chicken, were bare and a line of people (young, old, moms with kids in tow, more) waited for the butchers to take the roasted chickens off their spits and packaged them up.

Tuesday night he had roast chicken for dinner. Wednesday night we both had roast chicken for dinner. Friday night I stripped meat off the chicken carcass and legs and made chicken pot pie for dinner, setting aside enough white breast meat for two sandwiches or another meal.

Friday, while the pot pie was baking, I broke the chicken carcass into pieces and put it and the wings and the leg bones whose meat I’d used in the pot pie into a pot. Added chopped fresh garlic, ground pepper, chopped carrots and chopped onions. Covered just barely with water and let it simmer. After dinner, I fetched out some of the bones and picked the meat off, then threw the bones back in and set the pot to simmer some more.

Let the pot cool overnight on the stove. Yesterday afternoon I picked the bones out of the cooled broth. All the meat had fallen off the bones and the broth had thickened due to the collagen in the bone-ish bits. I took the hand blender and swirled the broth and chicken and carrots and onions and garlic into a thick soup and put the soup back on the stove to heat up. Meanwhile, I minced up a few cloves of garlic and browned some button mushrooms in butter and half the garlic. Tossed them into the soup. I snapped some green beans and cooked them in butter and garlic for a bit and tossed them (still crisp) into the soup. Added some hot curry powder and some fresh tarragon I fetched from the deck while we were giving the architects the grand tour.

Had the soup for supper with dead easy garlic Parmesan bread:
Slice four pieces of sourdough bread.
Lightly butter one side of bread.
Finely mince two garlic cloves. Sprinkle minced garlic on bread slices.
Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.
Broil until cheese melts and turns golden brown.

What’s left to eat from our $4.99 roasted chicken after one dinner (Tues), two dinners (Wedn), two potpie dinners (Fri), two soup dinners (Sat)?

What’s left is enough breast meat for two sandwiches or two dinners and enough leftover chicken pot pie for three-four dinners.

Maybe those $4.99 roasted chickens from Costco are a better deal than I realized.

November 30, 2008

Pier 39. Decked out for Christmas.

Filed under: food,life,photographs,restaurants — Towse @ 1:56 am

This is last year’s pic but saw it today and it looks just the same.

Went for a walk down the steps this afternoon. Mailed some letters at the bottom of the hill, walked out Sansome to the Embarcadero, then walked along the edge of the water until we cut in toward Cost-Plus and B&N. We cut in a bit earlier than we really needed to because the crush of people was shredding my nerves.

Our destination had been Cost-Plus because they were having a wicked sale with 2 for 1 Christmas ornaments and deals on this and on that, but once inside I saw nothing I really needed. A few things I wanted but not enough to open the wallet.

We skipped B&N, which is next door to Cost-Plus and always the next stop, because I have a mile high stack of books to be read. We did stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home for milk and for crackers for the Boccalone coppa di testa we’ll be eating for dinner tomorrow.

Tonight will be chicken thighs with trumpet mushrooms, shallots, garlic, sour cream, marsala. Rice. Some vegetable.

Last night was dinner at Coi with friends. Absolutely delish. We plumped for the paired wines with the tasting menu. We wound up with that and with a couple extra glasses of wine thrown in as well as one of the dishes none of us had ordered when choosing “or” at one point. Delish, that.

The Coi staff is wonderful. Welcoming. Relaxed. Not as starchy as Gary Danko. Did I mention the food was delish?

Our reservation was for five folks at 6 p.m. They ushered us into a private room in back that I didn’t know existed. We had the room to ourselves. Four hours later we rolled back out onto Broadway, us to walk up Montgomery home, our three friends to head down the peninsula.

We went for a walk today because the weather sparkled and we needed to make a vague effort to work off some of the calories for last night.

(0.9mi over and the same back, according to 2 miles, if that.)

Did I mention we saw the Christmas tree at Pier 39?

November 27, 2008

!Candied yams

Filed under: food,life — Towse @ 1:34 am

I volunteered to bring the yam-ish dish (among other things) to the family Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Not candied yams, which is what we had at Thanksgiving growing up.

This year I’m bringing sweet potato fries because I like them and hope others will too and, on request of the son-in-law, “those yams you made last year.”

Except. I can’t remember how I made the yams last year so in lieu, I did something entirely different. (Sorry, Bill!)

Cooked and peeled a certain number of sweet potatoes (0.49/lb in Chinatown). Mashed them with a chunk of butter, juice of one orange (10/$1 in Chinatown), shredded fresh ginger (0.79/lb in Chinatown), brown sugar.

Cooked and peeled a certain number of white yams (0.59/lb in Chinatown). Mashed them with a chunk of butter, maple syrup, a dollop of vanilla extract and ginger powder.

Took an old soup can out from the stash under the sink. Took the label off. Cut off the bottom to make a metal pipelike object. Washed thoroughly.

Put the can vertical in the casserole dish. Filled with mashed white yams. With can still in place, piled and patted all the mashed sweet potatoes to fill in the vacant spaces OUTSIDE the can. Used the metal bottom I’d recently cut off the can to press the white yams through the can as I removed it.

Sprinkled sliced almonds around the perimeter of the casserole dish, covering the mashed sweet potatoes.


Mañana I will bake the casserole until heated through and the almonds get all toasty.

Not the yams I made last year. Not the candied yams of my youth.

What shall I call this?


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September 28, 2008

Election Pie Party

Filed under: election2008,food,life — Towse @ 7:03 am

The younger niblet is far away. (His mom and dad miss him.)

We talked with him today over a spotty line that probably is Skype’d over to that end of the world and then fed into his cell phone/Handy. Who knows who taps in from here (Hi, Tony!) or there (Hi to you too, Yuri!)

The younger nib said he’s hoping to have a party. Where he is is ten hours off from us. If we call him at ten in the morning, it’s eight in the evening there.

So, he’s planning a party to watch the election results in November at another PCV’s place. This PCV has access to a big screen TV. Our niblet is homesick for pies. The plan is to get pies made and brought over, to sit in front of the big screen TV and to watch the American election results and hooray! or commiserate over the results.

Pie will be involved, though. No matter if the wrong party wins and the world comes to an end, the niblet will have pies and the companionship of friends.

I think that works.

September 23, 2008

AQUA – Autumn Mushroom Tasting Menu

Filed under: food,restaurants — Towse @ 6:50 pm

AQUA – Autumn Mushroom Tasting Menu


August 24, 2008

Follow up on "The Omnivore’s Hundred" list

Filed under: food,web2.0 — Towse @ 12:18 am

Follow up on The Omnivore’s Hundred list post.

K asked,
Where on the list are: head cheese, Rocky Mtn.Oysters, Finnan haddi?

I’ve eaten head cheese and Finnan haddie.

Mom used to make Finnan haddie when we were young. Not one of my faves at the time. Didn’t like her Swedish meatballs either. Maybe I would now.

She used to make Grandma Towse’s goulash — which is not really goulash by any stretch of the imagination — and humored me by letting me have the macaroni and the ground beef and the tomatoes separate on my plate. She then tossed the ingredients together for the goulash for the rest of the family. For some reason, I liked the ingredients fine apart but I thought that goulash was awful.

Note: this is the singular instance I can recall of Mom making anything special for anyone not much liking what she was making for dinner. I think it was because I wasn’t asking her to go much out of her way — just give me the separate ingredients before you mix them all together.

Had Kobe beef as part of a Dissident Chef dinner over at Crush Pad last night.

Earlier this week, after his nibs had seen my list, he said I’d already eaten both Kobe beef and horse.

“Really?” I said. “Horse?”

“Yes,” he answered. “Well, =I= had it in France and I don’t think I’ve been there without you.”

Maybe so. I have a mind like a sieve.

I meet your head cheese, Rocky Mtn.Oysters, Finnan haddie and raise you:

  • tongue (beef tongue is soul food for his nibs)
  • pork or lamb kidney (kidneys of any sort. I like them. his nibs doesn’t.)
  • tarasun (Buryat ‘vodka’ distilled from soured milk)
  • fiddle-leaf ferns
  • yak (We passed on a chance to eat yak eyeballs.)
  • Retsina
  • chicken feet
  • scrapple
  • tripe or menudo

and I’ll stop there.

August 22, 2008

Fish Tale Has DNA Hook – Students Find Bad Labels

Filed under: food,news,technology — Towse @ 9:25 pm

Fish Tale Has DNA Hook – Students Find Bad Labels –

Two teenagers, recently graduated from high school, decided to check whether the fish in restaurants and at the fishmongers is really what it’s labeled as.

Upshot? They found 25% of the fish with DNA they could identify had been mislabeled.

(The mislabeling usually meant the fish was identified by the seller as a more expensive fish than it really was. Shock.)

The teenagers shipped the fish off to someone at FISHBOL who did the DNA analysis using a newish technique that is simpler and cheaper than a full-bore analysis.

Bad enough that your wild-caught salmon might not be wild-caught. It might not even be salmon!

August 19, 2008

Beautiful soup, so rich and so green, bubbling in the soup tureen

Filed under: food,web2.0 — Towse @ 8:25 pm

via Paula — foodie stuff, which originated over at Andrew Wheeler’s Very Good Taste.

I so seldom do these things … but this appealed. I’d never have seen it but for Paula. Thanks, Paula!

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food – but a good omnivore should really try it all.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea (no … yak butter tea though)
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (not that I remember. …)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp (not that I remember. …)
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes – I don’t recommend Maui pineapple wine.
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream – My sister made THE BEST coffee ice cream for the family BBQ on Sunday. Yum.
21. Heirloom tomatoes The Dissident Chef prepared a 10-11 course dinner a week or so ago that had tomatoes in every course. Loads of heirloom tomatoes.
22. Fresh wild berries – used to pick them at my grandparents’ farm
23. Foie gras — Paula says, “cruelty!!” but I say, “Yum.” PETA and other folks are really aiming to get rid of all meat animals including chickens, who have a much worse life than the geese, but they start with foie gras. Because most people don’t eat it, they don’t care if it’s banned. If they’d started with the Sunday roast chicken, they’d’ve been stomped out of business.
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (Raw? No.)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (I haven’t had that many cigars in my lifetime, let alone big fat ones.)
37. Clotted cream tea — Clotted cream. Ym. With scones to spread it on and jam and tea? Dbl-ym.
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects — Grilled grasshoppers in Yunnan, iirc. I used to put chocolate covered insects in my dad’s stocking back when I played Santa.
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu – I don’t play Russian roulette either.
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal – don’t like the oversized soda
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini – I’ve had so few martinis in my lifetime. Never a dirty one.
58. Beer above 8% ABV – La Trappe Quadrupel (Koningshoeven) is 10%ABV and my beer of choice at La Trappe restaurant on Columbus Ave, North Beach, SF.
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads – his nibs wooed me with home-cooked sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (not that I remember. …)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian – saw some yesterday in Chinatown. $1.09/lb. Some day …
66. Frogs’ legs – when I was very young I used to go to the pond with my grandfather to catch the frogs for frogs’ legs.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain – comfort food from the days in Brazil
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu – I believe this was the firewater we picked up in a market in remote Yunnan
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini – how could you stop at Harry’s Bar in Venice and not indulge?
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict – I judge hotel restaurants by how good their Eggs Benedict are at breakfast. (Eggs Benedict at breakfast, Reuben sandwich at lunch. If a hotel restaurant can provide both of those flawlessly, I’m there.)
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant – cheating really. We went to a Penfold’s event at the French Laundry and the tasting menu was what we got. We usually opt for the tasting menu at Manresa (two-Michelin-stars).
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (not that I remember. …) I’ve had cuy, though.
90. Criollo chocolate (don’t know)
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake — tastes like chicken!

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