So, Valentine's Day is this week, and at some point I usually make a dinner the BF really loves. [Ed. note: Hey we're going out too! Cripes, now we'll get letters.] The main course is a no-brainer: prime ribeye. [Ed. note: Changing reservation to a more expensive place.] For dessert, want to make a treat that we both swoon over. Well aware that chocolate and Valentine's Day are synonymous, it's just not always the case in our house. Now, the BF likes chocolate but, unlike me, he really has to be in the mood for something super-rich chocolatey. He actually can say no to chocolate—I know, gasp! [Ed. note: Watches hate mail pile up.]
This pot de crème is like a turbo-charged version of butterscotch pudding. A decadent custard that's silky, butterscotchy, caramelly, salty-sweet, with deep notes of brown sugar. Squarely in the BF's wheelhouse, and I definitely don't feel like we have to have chocolate every night. Got to spice things up sometimes, right?
Truthfully, this is a solid go-to dessert for guests as it takes no time at all to prep (talking about ten minutes) and looks-tastes pedantically fancy. As easy and straightforward as the directions are, the only vexing part is dirtying two pots and two mixing bowls. It's worth it.
An added bonus, can halve the recipe so it just makes two small ramekins.
This recipe is adapted from Molly of Orangette, who describes these pots de crème as "Cold and rich and almost hyperbolically creamy, the custard yields under the spoon the way a good down pillow does under your head: with a welcoming, slippery whoosh. The gates to heaven have never opened so easily."
She is not lying.
Adapted from: Orangette
Number of servings: 4
PS: A year ago I broke out the Paderno Brand 3-Blade Spiralizer for some kohlrabi "noodles" with bacon, carmelized onion and shaved parmesan (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/kohlrabi-noodles-bacon-caramelized-onion-shaved-parmesan).
PPS: For those of you muttering to yourselves through clenched teeth, "Fake vegetable noodles? Forget that and this butterscotch deal, I want chocolate," let's revisit this chocolate oblivion truffle torte (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/chocolate-oblivion-truffle-torte).
After a wonderful birthday meal at San Francisco's China Live (chinalivesf.com/), detailed in the last blog, am happy to say gong hey fat choy!
Truth be told, the BF and I could eat Chinese food every day of the week. [Ed. note: Confirming.]
Yu choy is a long, leafy Chinese green with yellow flowers and tender stalks. Very mild, with a little sweetness to it. Am very lucky I can find it in almost all of my local grocery stores, as well as farmers markets. It's one of my favorite greens (BF loves it too). It's also easily stir fried, sautéed or steamed, and you can prepare it as a healthy side dish or main course. Serve it alone, as in the picture above, or with a protein like steak, as below.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Pig!
NOTE: I made the dish exactly as written below (although streamlined some of the directions). You can also sauté the greens as opposed to blanching. Either way it's easy and delicious.
Adapted from: The Woks of Life
Number of servings: 4
Pictures below are from my celebratory birthday trip through San Francisco and China Town.
Hey there, folks. Guest blogger here. It's the editor. You know, the guy who chirps pithy, yet spectacularly irrelevant input [in brackets].
Wanted to detail a wonderful birthday meal that came a day early for Chef Jacquie, who of course will be working on her birthday (today) for a client, incidentally one of the first attorneys for Facebook. Goes without saying: please click the ad links, visit a sponsor, like the blogs, share them, spread them far and wide, and thank you so much. It comes out to literally dollars of revenue. Lamborghinis on layaway. But I digress.
Won't lie. Jacquie spoils me with food that makes it difficult for restaurants to impress. Often we visit a place that has high marks from the San Francisco Chronicle, yet find ourselves looking at each other like a deer staring at an oncoming truck, eyes screaming, "Meh."
China Live (644 Broadway), the brainchild of George Chen, is a 30,000-square-foot "education in Chinese cuisine" in the heart of San Francisco's Chinatown. Sporting everything from a retail store to a bakery, high-end bourbon bar, demonstration kitchen, flower mart, and multiple restaurants, it's the polar opposite of meh.
For our midday meal we sampled a wide array of their sophisticated–this isn't your grandma's Chinese takeout–dishes. Mostly smaller starters, but we did partake in the highly recommended Crackling Skin Cantonese Fragrant Garlic Chicken, which did not disappoint. Gorgeous.
However, the starters-appetizers stole the show. Am not just saying that because we enjoyed a Szechaun Starlet* during.
Below, Kurobuta Pork Char Siu with Hot Mustard. Food porn that tasted as good as it looked.
Shan Dong Shui Jiao "Water Dumplings" (Chive and Pork) with Dipping Sauce.
The favorite, Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Spring Handrolls with Dual Dipping Sauce. Am considering driving back to San Francisco to order about 400 of these for Sunday's Super Bowl. Again, please like, share, and click those ads. [deadpan-face emoji]
Not pictured, we also had some lovely Peking Duck in Sesame Pockets with Kumquat Glaze and Traditional Condiments. We couldn't get a picture because the kumquats refused to sign the appropriate model release form.
Silliness aside, it's always special to share amazing food with someone who truly knows something about amazing food.
Chef, I love you, and your short arms (#selfieproblems). Happy birthday.
By the way, she is 27.
*Szechaun Starlet: Black Tea-infused Angel's Envy Bourbon, Cardamaro Amaro, Campari, Szechuan Peppercorn Bitters and a splash of bubbles
PS: Hey, the dog writes, too. Marlowe, you're hired. You also look especially cute as a UPS driver. (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/mini-butterscotch-apples)
PPS: A year ago, she made her own chocolate birthday cake. Because she was tired of cakes that looked better than they tasted. (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/happy-birthday-to-me-chocolate-cake-and-chocolate-sour-cream-frosting)
PPPS: Plans are in place to relaunch this blog in a newer format, where we may or may not start including subjects outside of the regular recipes. This originated out of a sole proprietership business that Chef Jacquie built, which is a big part of the story. So we're considering the occasional foray into the business-side, or an occasional restaurant-meal review. We're an open book, so please comment below on what you would like to see in the future. And again, thank you.
This cookie went viral in autumn of 2017. [Ed. note: At our current pace, that is roughly 27,538 news cycles, since then. Give or take.] At the time, it didn't really look like much of a cookie to me, but I probably should have believed the hype. Have lost count how many times I've made these.
The recipe comes from Alison Roman's cookbook Dining In. In New York magazine’s Grub Street Diet blog, Roman mentioned that she has but one cookie recipe in her book, and it’s for these cookies. She said that it is, “in [her] opinion, way better than a chocolate-chip cookie.” Not sure about that, but I'll tell you that when I make them the BF and I can't stop eating them. [Ed. note: Sweet.]
A few notes that will perfect your cookies:
PS: A year ago we summoned our Whole30 aspirations with this roasted potatoes and coconut turmeric sauce (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/roasted-potatoes-coconut-turmeric-sauce), then uh well yeah like threw that into the proverbial circular file with some Super Bowl-food Mississippi roast mini cheesesteaks ( www.moveablefeast.me/blog/mississippi-roast-mini-cheesesteaks). [Ed. note: It should be noted that because the game-time food was cheesesteaks that this had everything to do with the Philadelphia Eagles winning said Super Bowl.]
Adapted from: Alison Roman, Dining In and Smitten Kitchen
Number of Servings: 24 cookies
"Guess what? I've got a fever, and the only prescription...is more fungus."
-The Bruce Dickinson (Christopher Walken)
[Ed. note: Yes, yes. We used "fungus" for "cowbell."]
Fungus lovers unite! Since a wee child, I have loved mushrooms. The one veggie that most kids didn't like, I loved. Go figure.
If you're a fungus fiend like me, this dish gives you an excuse to try all those interesting mushroom varieties you see in your produce section, but didn't know what to do with them. Here, nameko, shiitake, trumpet & brown cremini mushrooms were used, but you can use whatever you have available to you. Don't be afraid to experiment. Although, if you use portobello mushrooms, remove the gills.
The BF loved this dish. [Ed. note: Don't say that out loud, I told the guys we had cheeseburgers.] It would make a to-die-for Valentines Day or date-night dinner (as the BF and I had). I cut the recipe in half and it made three servings, which was perfect for us for dinner plus a little leftover for the next day. It's also perfect for your favorite person who maintains a gluten-free diet.
A note about this risotto. The original recipe called for goat cheese, which I thought overpowered the entire dish and took away the actual mushroom flavor. Now I love my cheese, but this still felt like overkill. If you feel like it needs a little more creaminess at the end, add one to two tablespoons of whipping cream, mascarpone or crème fraiche. But honestly, I don't think it needs any dairy at all.
Only made a few other changes to the original. Added rosemary from the backyard garden, which I thought it added a zing. Also added about one cup more broth than called for. Perhaps it's the brand of rice I use, but seems I always need more broth than called for.
Some more notes about risotto. They can be a bit of a mystery and to be honest, it's not always done right and can be easy to screw up. Below are a few excellent tips and how to avoid some of these common mistakes, from bon appétit assistant food editor Alison Roman.
Do not use a cold stock
Adding chilly stock to a hot pan will cool everything down and mess up the cooking process. Keep stock at a simmer in a small pan so everything stays hot and cooks evenly.
Do not stir it constantly (or not at all)
Stirring the rice constantly will add air into the risotto, while cooling it down and making it gluey. But if you don't stir enough, the rice will stick to the bottom and burn. Agitating the rice is important, because risotto's creaminess comes from the starch generated when grains of rice rub against each other. So stir it often, but feel free to give your arms (and the rice) a break.
Do not add stock all at once
If you dump in the stock all at once, you're just boiling rice. By slowly adding stock, you allow the rice to bump up against each other, creating that creamy starch. Wait until the rice absorbs all the stock to add some more.
Do not cook the rice until it's mushy
Like pasta, the rice should be al dente (just cooked, with a little bite to it). If you can mold a risotto into a shape (yes, like some restaurants do) you've cooked it too much. Risotto should have body, but should not be overly mushy and starchy. You're not making rice pudding!
Do not use a wide pot
If your pot is too wide, the rice will cook in a thin layer and won't be able to bump and grind enough to generate starch. Another problem: there will be hot and cold spots in your pot, so choose one that fits perfectly over your burner.
Do not cook at too low a heat
Yes, risotto is supposed to be a slower cooking process; but if you cook it at too low a heat, it will never cook. The rice should be at a medium simmer throughout cooking.
Do not cook vegetables with the rice
Except for your mirepoix (onion, mushrooms, garlic), you should add already cooked vegetables into your risotto after the rice is finished cooking. This is important for tender greens like spinach, delicate herbs like chives, lemon zest, and veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, and legumes. Again, you don't want anything mushy in your risotto. Make sure you cook your vegetables separately before adding them in.
Do not add cheese too early
Save things like mascarpone and Parmesan for the end of the cooking process. Fat will break under the heat and it will be, in a word, yucky. When the rice is finished, stir in some fresh whipped cream (unsweetened, of course) to give the risotto a light, silky texture.
Adapted from: Eva Kosmas Flores, First We Eat
Number of servings: 6
It's so rainy, windy, and grey here in the San Francisco bay area, it's actually reminding me of my native Oregon. Something that always cures the greyness is soup, and the BF and I have been enjoying this one a lot lately. As you know, am not a fan of eating the same thing two nights in a row, but we're actually going on three! [Ed. note: Oh no not another ToS violation.]
This takes no time at all to put together, and reheats very well. It's also not a super spicy soup, unless you want it to be. Depends on the salsa. I used my favorite Frontera brand Tomatillo Salsa and added one serrano pepper to the jalapeños as the BF and I do enjoy a bit of a kick.
Final note, this is delicious served with white rice in it (or as a side), which helps offset the spiciness.
Adapted from: A Pinch of Yum
Number of servings: 4-6
PS: One year ago the BF/editor made me seriously LOL when he snuck in a Gollum/Lord-of-the-Rings GIF into a recipe for baked cod (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/baked-cod-with-sherry-herbs). [Ed. note: #SorryNotSorry]
This Russian cabbage borscht is another winter warm-up secret weapon. Not to be confused with borscht made with beets or various meats and winter vegetables; while that is good, this soup is pure Jewish comfort food. Just a handful of simple ingredients, mainly cabbage.
When I was a kid, momala made a cabbage borsht flavored with short ribs or brisket. Once the meat finished cooking, she would shred and add it back into the soup. After pouting, I would pick out all the meat and leave the cabbage. Then I would complain. A lot. (Cabbage: not a favorite.) My childhood best friend loved the soup, so much so that momala would joke that she was the rightful daughter, not me. Today, I would never dream of doing that. Cabbage is actually my favorite part.
However, this version is different from my mom's soup, but an homage all the same. Kept her addition of golden raisins for the sweetness, but I made this version more brothy and added caraway seeds, V8 juice and cayenne for a little kick. Also, everything is finely chopped or minced rather than chunky. Always have to mention, the BF absolutely loves this soup. [Ed. note: Can confirm.]
You can even make this vegan by using vegetable instead of chicken broth.
Healthy, flavorful, delicious, inexpensive and it freezes very well. Makes a delightful lunch or perfect dinner paired with Russian rye or black bread. [Ed. note: HOW ABOUT VODKA OKAY JUST KIDDING]
What's not to love? Momala would be proud!
Number of Servings: 10-12 cups
Did you learn to cook anything new last year? Among many discoveries, I found that roasted radishes are a revelation. A delicious and fantastic complement to carrots, can't believe I have never tried them roasted before. [Ed. note: Calling the proper authorities, this has to be a violation of some kind.]
If you're not a fan of lentils, make the roasted carrots and radishes with tahini sauce. You won't be sorry. It makes a wonderful lunch, side or main course.
NOTE: I'm relying more and more on Trader Joe's pre-steamed lentils, usually located with the fresh produce. It's such a time saver and the lentils are firm, yet tender, which is exactly what you want. If you want to make lentils from scratch, I have included instructions below.
PS: Last year we got a little tipsy on this citrus champagne bundt cake (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/citrus-champagne-bundt-cake) and recovered nicely thanks to this ginger turmeric detox broth (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/ginger-turmeric-detox-broth).
Adapted from: A Beautiful Plate
Number of servings: approximately 4
"The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written."
"The beginning is the most important part of the work."
"Boy, this year sure was a long decade."
Happy New Year!
Here's a deliciously bright carrot soup made with ginger, coconut milk, fresh orange juice and infused with warming spices. Simple as can be, plus-bonus-it's vegan and gluten free. It's even BF approved, so you know it's good. [Ed. note: Can confirm. Also, my primary-care physician called. He said, "More vegetables."]
The BF and I hope you're enjoying a wonderful holiday, and that this soup warms up any cold, wintry days.
Adapted from: Feasting at Home
Number of Servings: 8 cups
'Tis the season for good food and great company. My wonderful cousin and younger sister, traveling from Oregon, paid the BF and I a visit, and we showed them a few of our favorite local spots. Even though I had to work for clients while they were here, we managed to squeeze in much fun.
One day, we visited the Cantor Museum and Rodin Exhibit on the Stanford University campus. On another, we walked up and down Palo Alto's University Avenue and had dinner at a delicious Menlo Park Turkish restaurant.
The last day, we took our choco-lab Marlowe and walked around Bol Park, aka "Donkey Park" (Perry was the model for "Donkey," voiced by Eddie Murphy, in the film Shrek), and ate lunch at Thai Bistro on California Avenue. In the evening we made gingerbread cake topped with eggnog whipped cream along with spiralized celeriac latkes [Ed. note: I don't think we ate it in that order?], and watched a superb documentary called Shanghai Ghetto.
When they left, while cousin and sister went up the long escalator at a local Bart station, Marlowe let out the most woeful cries as they slowly disappeared from view. [Ed. note: We'll forward the therapy bills.]
My cousin is an expert beekeeper and gifted us with the most amazing raw honey, which we can't stop dipping into. She also gave us homemade lemongrass soap and lip balm, as well as some sinfully good Burnside Distillery small-batch bourbon, which kept everybody warm! [Ed. note: Can confirm.]
My sister is very knowledgeable and talented with rocks, stones and gems. She gave us beautiful hand-engraved stones that say "Shalom" and "DZ," which now rest proudly on the kitchen window sill that I work in front of every day. More significantly, she also gave me custody of our mom's engagement ring (we trade off every year), which was was so brilliantly polished and shiny it practically glittered. She is also adept in the landscaping arts, and got to work in the backyard well before unpacking. (She makes up for my black thumb.)
Marlowe is always a happier camper when she has a "pack," and as usual the did the nighttime "rounds," visiting the visitors as they slept.
Life is good when these girls are with us.
And it wouldn't be a family gathering without dessert, so for December: peppermint! It just says winter to me.
This cheesecake is almost too easy. No baking, no sugar, low carb and comes together in about 15 minutes. With a crust that tastes like Oreo cookies, it was the most popular dessert of the visit, even though we had plenty of other desserts with real sugar. There's only a slight change to the original recipe (upped the whipping cream from 2 tablespoons to 4), as I like a fluffier mousse-like cheesecake. Also added a pinch of salt to the crust. Should also note that I used my favorite brand of sugar substitute called Swerve, but you can use whatever you like.
Adapted from: All Day I Dream About Food
Number of servings: 16
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.