quick chick(en)

Last night dinner had to be easy, and preferably quick. Why? Well, because I’ve neglected all of my chores in favor of baking and butter making. Hard to believe, I know.

I also have this problem at the butcher counter where if all of the young, corporate women in front of me (I am one now, sort of) ask for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I have to break the mold by asking for an entire chicken, and 3 lbs of lamb shanks. Yep. And I was making a dinner for two.

These two issues (mountain of chores and whole chicken) collided last night and  … I made easy roast chicken thighs and legs.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

Break down the chicken into appropriate sized pieces for two people (or don’t go crazy at the butcher counter). Salt and pepper both sides.

Place chicken in an oven safe baking dish, drizzle with a little olive oil, toss in some sliced onion, carrot, and whole garlic cloves. I forgot to, but you could also throw in some rosemary or thyme to jazz the bird up a bit.

Bake for 45 minutes (or until the meatiest part feels like the fatty palm of your hand when you press it — Jordan’s trick).

While this is cooking you can start a load of laundry, throughly clean the bathroom, and scrub the kitchen floor, assuming your home is less than 500 square feet.

Conclusions: The chicken was delightful, as roast chicken always is, especially the juices in the bottom of the pan, and super easy. I tossed it in the oven, and forgot about it for 45 minutes and it still turned out just fine. My perfect bite … roasted garlic clove, dark meat, crispy skin, dunked in chicken juice. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.


P.S. Throwing the chicken under the broiler at the last minute makes the skin nice and extra crispy as well.



butter! homemade butter!

Last night laying in bed, Jordan and I had a serious discussion. It went something like this …

“If you had to live the rest of your life without bacon or butter, which would it be?” “Ummmm, that’s a tough one. But as much as I love pork, especially bacon, I’m going to have to say butter.”

Then …

“If you had to live the rest of your life without coffee or butter, which would it be?” “Oh! Now that is just not fair. Ummmmm. Butter. A life without coffee is cruel, but butter just makes everything better. ” “So, butter?” “Yes, butter.”

Although the final decisions were hard to come to, the clear winner in these match-ups is butter, which brings us to today’s culinary experiment …

Heavy whipping cream -> Homemade butter! from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking 
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Salt (optional)
Garlic, herbs, pepper (optional)

Start with a pint of heavy whipping cream. I poured it into my kitchen aid stand mixer and set the dial to high speed (6-8). You could also use a hand mixer, or put the cream in a jar and shake that sucker for 20 minutes. I took the easy way out and it took about 8 minutes to get from cream to butter.

Beat the cream for several minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The cream will go through several stages. The transformation is pretty incredible. When the cream has turned into butter and buttermilk, you’ll know.

Stage 1: cream

Stage 2: whipped cream

Stage 3: extra-thick whipped cream

Stage 4: broken whipped cream (crumbly looking little bits)

Stage 5: separation of cream into butter and buttermilk!

Note: You may want to drape a kitchen towel over the mixer as to prevent splattering cream all over your kitchen. I realized this about half way through the process, and had a little extra cleaning up to do afterward.

Once the cream has separated into butter and buttermilk, strain the buttermilk out with a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Place the butter in a separate bowl and press out more of the buttermilk with a wooden spoon. Pour off the buttermilk. Put the buttermilk aside and brainstorm a recipe using buttermilk.

Note: It is very important to get all of the buttermilk out of the butter. If you don’t remove all of the buttermilk from the butter, it will go rancid very quickly.  And that would be very, very sad.

After you’ve squeezed most of the buttermilk, pour a cup or two ice-cold water over the butter. Using the back of a wooden spoon, smash the butter around. Washing the butter with water helps to remove the last of the buttermilk. Pour off the water. Repeat this process until the water you pour off is clear. I did it three times.

Note: the water must be ice-cold as to not melt the butter solids.

Add salt to taste and mix throughly with a wooden spoon.

The final product! Salted butter (about 1/2 cup) and buttermilk (about 1 cup)!  YUM!

As an accompaniment to tonight’s dinner (Jordan will bring us more on that later), I decide to make Beurre d’ Ail garlic herb butter from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.  I’ve reduced her recipe to a one meal for two serving size.

4 T fresh, salted butter

1 clove garlic

1 T  parsley (or other green herb), minced

Set the unpeeled clove of garlic in boiling water. Bring to a boil for 5 seconds. Remove from pot, rinse and peel. Bring to a boil again for 30 seconds more. Pound to a smooth paste in a mortar and pestle (or garlic press, if you don’t have a mortar and pestle).

Pound or cream the butter and garlic  together. Season with additional salt, pepper, and herbs.

Conclusions: The salted butter is divine! I can’t be more thrilled to have it on hand. Plus, making it was a fun (and quick!) science experiment. I highly recommend it! When the cream shifted into butter and buttermilk, Jordan could hear me shouting from the kitchen, “It worked! It really worked!” I’m also pretty happy to have a back-up plan for the next time I over-whip whipped cream. Lastly, the garlic herb butter was terrific on bread at dinner. The garlic flavor was strong so if you don’t love garlic like we do, scale back a bit. Homemade butter is the best!



baking therapy: chocolate chip banana bread with cinnamon crumble topping

This week’s baking therapy was inspired by a bunch of over-ripe bananas languishing in the kitchen at work. I poked around the internet searching for a recipe and found several at Orangette, Molly Wizenburg’s delightful food blog. I read over her recipes and, keeping her tips and tricks in mind, decided to take this bread into my own hands.

As I creamed butter with sugar and then added chocolate chips, Jordan asked, “Isn’t the point of banana bread that it’s healthier because you use bananas instead of lots of butter and sugar?” …  I always thought the point of banana bread was to make use of  those gross, black, slug-like bananas that inevitably end up on your kitchen counter instead of throwing them away. Here is my recipe for a decadent banana bread, I make no apologies.

For the bread
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 medium bananas, mashed
3 T milk
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

For the topping:
1 T butter, room temperature
2 T sugar
2 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 cup rolled oats

Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with butter, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mash bananas. Mix them with the milk.

In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Add the flour mixture and banana mixture to the butter mixture in two parts, alternating, until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into greased loaf pan and smooth top.

Combine topping ingredients by cutting in the butter. Sprinkle the bread evenly with topping.

Bake for one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then turn loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Conclusions: This is a serious bread …  the sucker weighs in at about two pounds! And I wasn’t kidding when I said it was decadent. The banana flavor is present, but not overpowering and the chocolate chips bring it into dessert level.  Jordan agreed with me that the cinnamon crumble topping was the best part. Most definitely will make again.  Yum!


Restaurant Reviews

tartine bakery

Oh Tartine Bakery, how I love thee. Let me count the ways …

… pain au chocolat, pain au jambon, eclair, lemon cream tart, chocolate pudding.

I’ve yet to consume a pastry or dessert that I did not like. Many I have loved. Loved so much that Jordan and I make an almost weekly pilgrimage to consume their perfect treats. We even wait in a line that wraps out the door and down the block. Yes, it is that good.

Their coffee, roasted by Four Barrel Coffee of San Francisco, is also delicious – balanced and strong, but not bitter. I’d also recommend fresh fruit or orange juice to cut the decadence of their pastries.  And lastly, ditch the crowds, walk down the block to Dolores Park, eat in the sunshine and watch the parade of dogs go by. Ahhhh, a perfect morning.



special delivery

Yesterday in the mail I received one of the best gifts I’ve probably ever received … this beautiful cookbook complete with several of my dear friend Katie Norton’s favorite recipes.

Not only is it adorable, it’s pages allow you to insert standard-sized notecards thereby making it super functional! Katie’s recipes look delicious and I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of them here pretty soon. And lastly, what perfect timing with the start of this blog or, maybe more importantly, mine and Jordan’s new little home together!


Restaurant Reviews


Nope, I’m not trying to be cute by titling my post tacolicious … the restaurant is actually called Tacolicious. Although a bit put off by such a silly name, I decide to take the plunge anyway and order tres tacos from the Tacolicious stand at the Thursday Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building. I ordered one carnitas taco, one braised beef short rib taco and one bean and summer squash taco. $9 seemed a bit steep for three tacos, but I was eating at the Ferry Building after all.

Despite the sizable crowd, my order was ready within minutes, I sprinkled a little mild green salsa on my tacos and grabbed a seat in the beautiful sunshine. So nice to be out of the office and eating tacos! Gorgeous weather aside, my tacos were tasty and the portions generous. Each corn tortilla was bursting with filling then topped with a little chopped onion and cilantro. The pork carnitas were quite good, almost as good as the carnitas my favorite taquería in Sacramento, and definitely the best of the three options. The braised short ribs were also tasty. They had the dark, meaty, beefy taste that I love about short ribs and the acidity of the salsa complemented them well. (Bias confession: I love braised meats almost as much as I love pork, and honestly can’t believe I was ever a vegetarian. Thank you Katie Norton, Jordan Seliger and Argentina for steering me right!) The vegetarian taco with beans, summer squash and salsa was also very good. Well-seasoned, substantial, and I enjoyed it as a break from the meats. Finally, the salsas … I tried the mild green salsa and the medium roasted red salsa. Both were good, but I favored the balance of green salsa. They complemented my tacos nicely. My only want … chips for dipping and a Jarritos Mandarina soda!

Conclusion: I’m very picky about my mexican food, I know it pretty well, and I’ll be back.



just too cute

Now, those pear tomatoes are too cute! They remind me of stacking dolls. Jordan thought they looked like penguins. Yep. Cute.

This salad celebrates the end of summer with fresh tomatoes, quickly blanched green beans and a tarragon, shallot and white wine dressing.

Conclusions: Jordan and I both liked the tarragon quite a bit.  It’s not an herb we use often and it added a surprisingly satisfying anise flavor. Tomatoes and green beans are two of my absolute favorite ingredients and so I was pretty sold on this salad. It made a great accompaniment to the cous cous with sauteed mushrooms and pan-seared cod we also enjoyed, but were too beige to post a picture of.



breakfast for dinner

I love breakfast for dinner (french toast, waffles, pancakes, all those sweet, syrupy delights). Jordan, sadly, does not have the same fervor for breakfast for dinner as I do. This dish was our compromise.

A poached egg with broiled asparagus, crispy bits of pancetta and skillet hash browns.

Conclusions: Poaching eggs is not like riding a bike – it doesn’t just come right back. And, breakfast for dinner is the best! My devotion continues and Jordan said he considering coming over to the dark side. French Toast Fridays, anyone?



paella, per se

Let’s start this off by saying, I’m a lucky girl. Why am I a lucky girl? Because my wonderful boyfriend makes me yummy dinners while I sit at the table after work and putz around on the internet. Why else am I a lucky girl? Because that same boyfriend rides his bike down to purchase quality (and reasonably priced!) seafood at Sun Fat Seafood (23rd and Mission) even though its 9 million degrees out in San Francisco today. And one more reason …

… He is incredibly dashing in the kitchen.

Let’s get down to business …

Brown some PORK! chorizo*. Take out the chorizo, but leave that delicious fat in the pan. Toss in some diced onions and garlic. Let those brown a bit. Add broth (Jordan did 3 cups of vegetable stock and 1 cup of clam juice).

*Chicken chorizo was available, but we just don’t see the point in that.

Add saffron. Ours was a gift from our neighbor and came all the way from Dubai! It adds a nice floral taste, and added bonus, the broth will turn a lovely yellow-orange color.

Bring it all to a boil and add Calasparra rice. Use 1 parts rice to 4 parts liquid. We thought “That’s crazy!” but it really is quite absorbent.

Let it simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed and it has a creamy consistency. Then toss in some veggies (we did peas and red piquillo peppers), the sausages and …

the seafood! Jordan’s catch of the day included shrimp and scallops, which he quickly sauteed in some butter before adding to the rice. He wanted to get a nice sear on the scallops, but he’s a bit out of practice. I think this means more scallops in my future!

And the final dish …

Served with lemon and parsley.

Conclusions: Jordan was looking for a paella shortcut and looks like he found one. It still took a while to execute, but not much was lost in the way of flavor. Tasty and satisfying!

But the best part of the meal (according to Jordan at least) was not his paella, but …

this romesco sauce from Bi-Rite Market (18th between Guerrero and Dolores). It was good, but I’m partial to his paella.


Restaurant Reviews

two bistros. two stories.

Here’s the deal.  This is why I wanted to start a blog.  Online restaurant reviews are hit and miss; it’s as simple as that.  This review of two restaurants, Moussy’s and Nob Hill Grille, is a prime example of what can happen when you trust the common online restaurant review databases.  Both have similar ratings; both are in a similar price range, have interesting sounding menus, feature small plates, and have a small, but tasteful wine list.  The similarities end there.

I’ll start with the bad news first.  Moussy’s is located in Lower Nob Hill on Bush Street between Larkin and Polk.  Emily and I decided to give this place a try on Saturday night because (I swear this is the last time I’ll say this) of its positive reviews on google, yelp, etc.  We looked at the menu online and it seemed promising.  Upon entering the cavernous dining room we were greeted promptly and seated at a table off the bar.  The atmosphere was dark and intimate, but cozy at the same time.  Definitely a place I could see myself in for a couple of hours enjoying some wine and relaxing.  We sat down and looked over the paper menu and decided on a couple appetizers to start.  The grilled oysters sounded nice, unfortunately they had just run out so we settled on the charcuterie plate.  This is where things went downhill.  The waiter took our order for the charcuterie and left.  About ten minutes later we received a plate with four slices each of salumi, hot coppa and prosciutto, as well as a bit of grain mustard and some dried figs that tasted like they had been reconstituted in balsamic vinegar and honey.  There was nothing terrible about the dish, but for $13 it was definitely lackluster.  There was one star on that plate: the prosciutto.  It was very interesting in that it had the usual porky goodness of your typical cured ham, but it was much spicier than most prosciutto.  After taking our plate, the waiter continued to watch the Giants game before coming back to see if we wanted anything else.  Unfortunately we did, and proceeded to order the grilled cheese, pomme frites, and the angus burger.  First came out the fries with a spicy aioli ($6).  The flavors were all there; a nice amount of seasoning on the fries and a good heat to the aioli.  Unfortunately the chef had made an egregious error: some of the fries (and by some, I mean about 1/3) were STALE!  Then Emily’s grilled cheese ($9) came.  It smelled of melted butter and cheese; two of our favorite things, but it fell completely flat; it had absolutely no flavor.  There was one upside to the evening, and that was my burger.  I chose the aged gruyere and grain mustard aioli.  The angus beef was very nicely seasoned and the brioche bun was soft and absorbed all the delicious juices.  The gruyere and aioli did little other than add a creaminess.  At $12 it was a tasty hamburger, if not the best value.  Overall, the service was slow, the food was pretty bad, and most of the interesting items shown on their menu online were missing from the actual menu.  On the upside, I liked the burger a lot and the atmosphere was nice, but the thought of stale french fries will keep me away for a long time.

On a more positive note, Emily’s mom came into the city on Sunday and wanted to grab a bite close to our house; we decided to walk up to  Nob Hill Grille at Pine and Hyde.  Let me get some business out of the way first.  Emily and I went to Nob Hill Grille on a whim a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it.  One reason we went to Moussy’s was to do a little comparison, and going back to Nob Hill Grille was just a little bonus so I could give a fair opinion on both restaurants.  We went in around 6pm for an early dinner and the tiny dining room was mostly empty.  The decor is simple with a few black and white photos of San Francisco on the walls.  It is a comfortable and inviting atmosphere; more classic than lush or trendy.  We sat down and received water immediately, which was filled constantly by the attentive waitstaff.  The three of us shared a number of small plates and we each had a glass of wine.  Rich, one of the guys who runs the show, knew off the top of his head that they were out of the syrah I had selected and steered me toward the “Rubystone” ventenna blend, from Monterey ($10).  Not the most balanced wine, but it was mild and paired well with all the dishes.  Rich broke our meal of six small plates into two courses of three plates each.  First we had the beet salad with warm goat cheese ($6), magic mac ($6), and the braised pork belly ($9).  The salad was nice and classic, but nothing extraordinary.  The magic mac (macaroni and cheese with house-cured bacon) was terrific: seasoned well, creamy and cheesy with a very nice brown crust on top.  The pork belly is one of my favorite dishes that I’ve had recently.  It is slow cooked to tender perfection and then is seared to order making the top super crispy.  Thinking about it gives me a slight chill.  It’s served over garlic mashed potatoes with wild molasses and stone fruit tapenade.  This dish shows a lot of skill because these are some very bold flavors, but they are so balanced they complement each other beautifully.  Another reason for me to praise this dish is the nature of the ingredients; obviously, by the name of our blog, we love pork, but when it comes to putting sweet fruit stuff in with it, Emily and I agree this is generally not right.  The chef at Nob Hill Grille makes this dish so well that even with our fruity-phobia, we embraced the dish and loved it as if it were our own.  Moving on.  Next up we had the braised beef sliders ($9), special pasta ($?), and sautéed french beans ($4) to make us feel a bit better about all the bacon.  Starting with the beans, they are very good.  Simple salt pepper and a little chile and maybe a squeeze of lemon.  The pasta was orecchiette with bacon rapini and white wine butter sauce.  The bacon was delicious, of course, and the sauce was mellow and blended nicely with the other flavors, but the pasta and the rapini were both a bit overcooked.  The braised beef sliders were nice but not spectacular.  I’m personally not a big fan of braised beef, but I can recognize when it’s done well and when it’s not.  The beef here was done very nicely and the slaw was a refreshing match to the rich meatiness.  Only one flaw really sticks out in my mind, and that is the choice of bun for the sliders; they were very hard and the meat slid off almost immediately.  It was a decent dish, but I would much rather have twice as much pork belly.

I’ll leave it at that.  Pork (especially when it’s cured and from the belly) makes me like a restaurant!  Seriously though, this is my first time writing a formal restaurant review and I hope my insights help someone make the right choice when finding a small bistro-style eatery in Lower Nob Hill.