Sunday, May 15, 2005

Today we went to Manzanita, a vegan/macrobiotic restaurant, for brunch. They have an all-you-can eat special for $12.50. The menu:

- Blanched kale
- Soft rice mix (a brown rice mixture of short-grain, wehani, and wild rice) with carrot-cauliflower puree
- Broccoli-bean miso soup with chopped parsley
- Savory pinto beans with cilantro
- Sauteed cabbage with sesame seeds and hijiki
- Pear-vanilla sauce sweetened with maple syrup
- Salad with creamy citrus dressing
- Twig tea with lemon
- Snow peas, rutabagas, and daikon (the latter two boiled and cut into fry shapes) with pesto. The pesto had ume paste instead of salt.

The food was all somewhat bland, in keeping with macrobiotic principles. The beans were the best, I thought, and the runner-up was the cabbage. It was nice to eat a restaurant meal that felt really healthy.

Rahul also got a decent chocolate(?)-chip vegan cookie.

Friday: Drinks and Scrabble (42 points on the word "Exiles") with Casey at Grove in the Marina, then a hurried dinner with Colin before they went to catch Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Oddly, I ran into Dan on BART going home.
Saturday: Gardening, and Rahul and I made pizzas (one on a cookie sheet, one in a cast-iron pan) using Trader Joe's dough--olives, tomatoes, roasted jalapeno sauce, spinach, mushrooms, and parsley. In the evening we went to Alan's birthday party. I brought him KOTOR PC and a tea pillow. We bowled at Serra Bowl in Daly City, and Caroline made an incredible spread of food--I'm awed!:
- hand-made dolmas with currants and pine nuts
- cherry tomatoes stuffed with mozzarella and basil
- stuffed mushrooms
- fried risotto balls
- seven-layer bean dip
- guacamole and chips
- ice cream cupcakes topped with whipped cream
Sunday: Manzanita (review above), the Verizon store, house cleaning, piggie baths and haircuts, lots of wine, and fava bean puree with lemon, garlic, olive oil, and salt.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I had okonomi-yaki the other day at Sapporo-Ya in Japantown--they served it with parmesan cheese shreds all over the tonkatsu sauce and the cheese was writhing like a whole plate of living animals. It twitched around for about three minutes before settling down.

I like this review of Minibar from the New York Times: "They put on a dazzling show, starting with mojitos that you spritz into your mouth from a tiny silver sprayer and passion fruit whiskey sours. Fragile anise-flavored lotus root chips come with the drinks, presented in a cotton-lined white box.

My wife, Betsey, was instantly besotted with little logs of salmon belly wrapped in pineapple, topped with crispy quinoa for crunch and served with an avocado purée and mandarin orange segments. There was a touch of Serrano pepper in there somewhere, which gave the dish a bounce.

Minibar's deconstructions have helped build its reputation. For Robert M. Parker Jr., the wine critic, Mr. Andrés spread grape-flavored gelatin in a long, thin sheet and topped it with taste dots representing the flavors often detected in white wine, like vanilla, mint and almonds. He devised a Caesar salad consisting of two vertical cylinders of finely sliced jicama encasing romaine and anchovies. A quail egg is perched on one, a mound of shredded Parmesan on the other. His cheese steak consists of strips of Wagyu beef, seared with a blowtorch and wrapped around hollow miniature baguettes that are filled with aerated cheddar cheese.

There is always a conjunction of the intellectual and the playful. A chunk of ravishingly tender lobster is impaled on a kind of plastic syringe; the idea is to eat the lobster while squeezing its juices blended with olive oil from the syringe into your mouth. Believe me, it works.

Our favorite was a sweet-and-earthy frozen beet soup with raw scallops and raspberries, a concerto in red that deserves a place high on any list of modern classics."

Molecular gastronomy is awesome!

I also made a yummy dish last night by braising greens from the Box ("braising mix" of assorted bitter greens) in olive oil with onions and garlic, then toasting broken soba noodles in another pan and adding broth to cook them, and tossing everything together with some soy sauce and sesame oil.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Caramel cookies recipe to try

Cream butter with confectioners' and granulated sugar until fluffy.
Stir in remaining ingredients.
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup ground almonds
3 cups flour
2 (14 ounces) cans (2 cans) sweetened condensed milk

24-26 cookies Change size or US/metric
Change to: cookies US Metric

5 hours 30 mins prep
Wrap and chill 30 minutes.
If chilled longer let it warm up until it can be rolled.
Or, whack it with a rolling pin until it cooperates.
Roll dough out to 1/4" thickness, cut in 2 1/2" circles and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes.
Cool cookie sheets between batches.
Cool cookies on wire rack.
Carefully (they're fragile cookies) spread some caramel on one cookie and top with another cookie.
Dust tops with confectioners' sugar and enjoy immediately having a crisp cookie-the way they were meant to be eaten.
They will turn soft after setting.
Alternatively the cookies can be filled with the rewarmed caramel as needed.
Caramel: Pour both cans of condensed milk in the top of a double boiler over simmering water and simmer on very low heat 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Eventually the milk will thicken and brown.
Cool well and it will thicken further.
Refrigerate until needed.
Makes enough for 4-5 dozen cookies.

Monday, May 02, 2005

My stepdad taught me to make the best tomato scrambled eggs in the world.

1. Beat three eggs and add a splash of milk.
2. Heat some oil in a nonstick pan on high heat. Add the eggs with lots of oil and scramble them. Remove to a separate bowl while they are slightly scrambled but still largely runny.
3. Slice two green onions lengthwise and slice again into two-inch segments.
4. Roughly chop three tomatoes and press out the seeds and juice through a strainer.
5. Wash the pan and put it back onto high heat again with oil.
6. Add the tomatoes and green onions and cook them, shaking the pan but not stirring.
7. Add a generous amount of rice wine, sugar, and salt. The rice wine gets rid of the pungent tomato flavor, and the sugar softens the taste from being too sour.
8. Cook until the tomatoes seem cooked through--five or six minutes?--and then add the eggs again.
9. Stir a bit, and cook until the eggs are set.
10. Serve immediately.