12.09.2013

For Posterity



Just want to remember that this is the view from my commute every single day. 

And that, as much as I like to complain about it, I sort of love the ritual of heating up my studio in the Headlands, and the wool booties and socks, the hot water bottle, the down vest and comforter, the endless cups of tea, and the space heaters I need to keep warm and stay alive out here.  

And, as stressed out and paralyzed with doubt, and in my head, and anti-social as I feel right now, there is this sort of luxurious level of self-indulgence involved in making a creative work on this scale and that soon, when I am done, I will actually miss this.  A friend said I'm in a love affair with this book.  It's sort of like that, I think, a torturous, highest-highs, lowest-lows kind of love affair.  

I just want to say, for the record, that every single day, I still can't believe I get to write a book.  That my job is coming out to this National Recreation Area, sitting down at my desk with a view of Bolinas, and writing down every story I have ever wanted to tell about cooking, and life, and beauty and pain. That I get to walk down to the beach in the afternoon, fiery light bleeding through the iceplant down the hillside, to collect tiny, perfect sand dollars and watch dolphins pups play with their mamas on their way to warmer waters.  And that I get to collaborate with some of the most excellent people I have ever met in the making of this thing.  

I haven't lost sight of that.  

Soundtrack:
Van Morrison, Into the Mystic
James Vincent McMorrow, Higher Love
Bonnie Raitt, Bluebird
Joni Mitchell, Blue

11.27.2013

C U R R E N T (L Y): Holiday Gift Guide

INSPIRING BOOKS 



Penguin Clothbound Classics, about $20 each
Penguin Drop Caps, about $18 each
Tartine Book No. 3, $26
Saving the Season, $25
Wild Ones, $20
Gulp, $19
Cooked, $18
The Art of Simple Food II, $22
The A.O.C. Cookbook, $22
One Good Dish, $16
The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert, $13
Lost Cat, $14
Antiquarian Cookbooks from Omnivore Books, prices vary
Short Stack Editions, $12 each
The Telling Room, $17

CONSTRUCTING COZINESS



Sheepskin Slippers from Johnstons of Elgin, $79
Cashmere Bed Socks from Johnstons of Elgin, $90
Herringbone Wool Blanket from Faribault Woolen Mills, from $190
HARRY Blanket from Area Linen, from $200
Baby Alpaca Blankets from Pilar + Keiko, $229
Bellocq Tea Signature Blends Collection, $32
Imperial Pu-erh from In Pursuit of Tea, $18
Drinking Chocolate from Theo, $13
Anything from The Anou.  Particularly the gorgeous handwoven rugs, starting at around $100 including shipping from Morocco

FOR THE KITCHEN & FOR THE TABLE




Sarpaneva Cast Iron Pot by Iitala, $236
As always, a Cast Iron Pan, $24, or find one at a flea market or garage sale and reseason it lovingly
Teak Measuring Spoons, $20
Box of Maldon Salt, or for the true Maldon fiend, an entire bucket $6/28
Spices from Oaktown Spice Shop, $13 and up
Sandwich Spreading Knife, $6
Dansk Kobenstyle Casserole, $70
Soma Water Filter, beautiful, 100% compostable, and user-friendly, $49
Incomparably delicious Raw Hawaiian Honey, $35
A jar of Calabrian Chile Paste, $10
Set of Basque Wine Glasses, $28
Stollen from Big Sur Bakery, $28
Barrel of 16-Year Aged Balsamic, $400
Warren Pear Gift Box from Frog Hollow Farm, $58
Christmas Cake from June Taylor Jams, $55
Sampler Gift Pack from Double Dutch Sweets, $22
Parmigiano-Reggiano, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, or Ossau Iraty Veille from Murray's Cheese, $25/25/34
And, as always, a Gift Certificate to Good Eggs, available on the site starting 12/9, Special Link Coming Soon!

MODERN AND VINTAGE CLASSICS



Saipua Limited Edition Soap Sampler, $125
Frost River Bazaar Tote, $90
Small Braid Ring from Katrina LaPenne, $33 and up
Record Player, $90
Borsalino Hat, $200 and up
Red Wings Heritage Boots, $250 and up
Clark's Wallabees, $90 and up
Santa Maria Novella Pot Pourri Cologne, $125
Home Gardener's Collection of Seeds from Baker Creek, $40
Warby Parker Glasses, $95 and up
Kashmiri Saffron Perfume from In Fiore, $75
Senna Round Ring from Bario-Neal, $285
Boulevard Wallet from Il Bisonte, $355
Cotton Fisherman Sweater from L.L. Bean, $99
Rio Lapis from Marisa Haskell, $88
Peppe from Studio Deseo, $168 (she also has wish bracelets for around $30 that are gorgeous!)

KNIVES & SUCH



Gorgeous Handmade Knives by Moriah Cowles, $250 and up
Opinel Kitchen Set in Color and Natural, $34/31
Handmade Knives by Michael Hemmer, prices vary
Black Ceramic Steel by MAC, $55
All-Purpose Knife from Hida Tool.  I give this knife as a gift all of the time. $101
Best Peelers Ever, $10 for 3

CERAMICS



Handmade Fermentation Crock from Counter Culture Pottery $200
Colombian Bean Pot from Bram, $88
Ombré Bud Vase Set from Heath, $130

EXPERIENCES



Color Study Class at Little Flower School, $500
Flower Class with Studio Choo, $275
Gift Certificate to The Pantry at Delancey, $50 and up
Cooking Class with Viola Buitoni, $65 and up
One Day Studio Retreat at Alabama Chanin, $475
Membership to Headlands Center for the Arts, $50 and up
Membership to 18 Reasons, $40 and up
Introduction to Letterpress Printing at San Francisco Center for the Book, $65
A Subscription to Quarterly (I'd pick Tina Roth Eisenberg, Amanda & Merrill, or Pharell Williams), $50

ART


Lake Michigan, Chicago  by Daniel Seung Lee

20x200 is back!  Some of my favorites are here, here, here and here.  So much amazing art, starting at $24.
Creative Growth Art Sale, $5 and up
Archival Prints by Emily Nathan, Aya Brackett, Jen Siska and more for Tiny Atlas Quarterly, $75 pledge to their Kickstarter Campaign


GIFTS TO MAKE

Citrus Salt
Apple Cider Caramels
Mary's Caramel Corn
Marmalade
Spoon Butter
Gaz: Persian Nougat
Olive Oil and Sea Salt Granola
Chocolate-Caramel Truffles
Homemade Vanilla Extract

11.14.2013

Thanksgiving Round Up



Last year I went on a Thanksgiving binge, with all sorts of classes and blog posts.  This year, I am in relative hibernation.

But, the information is all still useful!  So, let me compile it all here for ease of use.

Working Ahead for Thanksgiving

On Ordering a Bird, and Other Basics

Recipes:
Spatchcocked Turkey with Herbs and Butter
Charlie's Prune and Sausage Stuffing
Roasted Vegetables in Agrodolce
Cranberry Sauce Two Ways
Fried Sage Salsa Verde
Aaron's Pie Crust
Pie!
Skillet Cornbread

And, a handful of Thanksgiving goodies from some of my favorite sources:
Thanksgiving Condiments at Food52
Sam Sifton's Thanksgiving Book
A Canal House Thanksgiving from The Splendid Table
Essential Thanksgiving at NYT Dining
David Tanis's Thanksgiving on the Ranch from Food & Wine
Suzanne Goin's Thanksgiving Menu at Bon Appétit
Sweet and Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds by Dash and Bella at Food52
Chunky Cranberry Jam from Saving the Season

Also, I just want to say that I had the best pumpkin pie I've ever tasted from Black Jet Baking Co. last week.  If you're not up for baking, then order one from Gillian.  You won't be disappointed.


11.04.2013

Recipe: Saffron-Cardamom Carrot Cake


My friend Kathleen's birthday fell on Diwali this year, so we cooked a big Indian feast for her and I wanted to make a cake that fit in with the flavors.

Carrots and saffron are a natural pair, so I made a carrot cake spiced with cardamom and saffron, and then I grated a bunch of fresh ginger into the cream cheese frosting and used up all the gold leaf I had on top.  

Saffron-Cardamom Carrot Cake

4 ounces (1 stick) butter, plus more for the cake pan
1 big pinch saffron threads
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
4 eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup oil (I used grapeseed)
1 cup crushed pineapple
3 cups grated carrots, loosely packed (about 1 pound carrots before peeling)
Optional: 1/2 cup raisins
Optional: 1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Adjust a baking rack to the center of the oven.  

Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat.  Add the saffron and let it steep for at least ten minutes.  

Butter and flour two straight-sided 9-inch cake pans, then line with parchment and butter again.  You can also make this cake in a single 9 x 13-inch pan and skip the butter/flour/parchment and just frost and eat it in the pan. 

Sift together the flour, powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt into a bowl and set aside.  

In a larger bowl, combine the eggs, white and brown sugars, oil, pineapple, carrots, and if using, raisins and/or walnuts.  Add the butter-saffron mixture.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture in two or three batches.  Make sure that all of the flour is incorporated.

Divide into the cake pans and bake until the cakes are golden brown and just set, springing back to the touch and pulling away from the side of the pan, about 24-28 minutes (But don't blindly trust me! Check often!  Ovens are all different!)

Cool on a baking rack for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan.  Allow to cool completely before removing parchment and frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting with Fresh Ginger

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 ounces (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1 1/2 cups sugar

Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese and butter, then grate in the ginger using a microplane grater.  Add the sugar and whip to combine.  Frost the cake and lick your fingers!

I don't like really sweet cakes or frostings, so both the cake and frosting recipes use less sugar than their traditional counterparts.  Taste the cake batter and frosting after you've added the sugar, and if you feel they need to be sweeter, then add more!

10.24.2013

C U R R E N T (L Y)

photo credit: Jessica Anton

Aletha Soulé's Studio Sale is coming up

An Island of Need in a Sea of Prosperity

Gorgeous infographics

Sarah Kersten's got a new website.  Order now for the holidays.

Moriah Cowles has a new site, too.  Total Swoonology.

Love this story about paying it forward

The Girards POP-UP

Here's my roundup of Thanksgiving tips and recipes from last year

My friends at Good Eggs have got you covered for Thanksgiving

Should you take that job?

Love in the Gardens, by Zadie Smith

Elle Luna: intelligent, inspiring

The Mast Brothers have mastered the art of the book trailer

Thinking about volunteering on Thanksgiving?
Glide Memorial
Meals on Wheels
Alameda County Food Bank
San Francisco Food Bank
Little Brothers
One Brick
St. Anthony's

Now We Are Five, by David Sedaris

I've been cooking this, over and over, using legs, thighs, wings, whatever.  It is just so good, and so easy.

8.23.2013

Maiale al Latte

photo credit: Jonathan Lovekin for The Observer

Several people, after reading Cooked, have attempted to make Maiale al Latte, or pork cooked in milk, with varying degrees of success.  I've gotten a bunch of requests for guidance, so even though it's hardly something I'd cook myself in August, I'm just gonna go ahead and give you all a recipe for it so you can experience the counterintuitive deliciousness that happens when milk curdles and caramelizes around slow-cooked pork.

Traditionally, this dish is made with pork loin, but I prefer it with pork shoulder because rather than toughening with hours of cooking, it relaxes and becomes tender.

6 pounds pork shoulder, cut into two-pound chunks
Zest of 2 lemons, removed in 1-inch strips (I like to use a vegetable peeler for this)
12 sage leaves
12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 gallon whole milk
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper, if desired

The night before cooking, season the pork generously with salt on all sides.  If desired, season with freshly ground black pepper as well.

The day of cooking, pull the meat out a few hours before you're ready to start.

When it's time to start cooking, get out your biggest dutch oven (maybe two dutch ovens, if you've got them!).  Heat it over medium heat, and when it's nice and hot, lightly coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil.  Place as much meat in the pan so that it's packed in a single layer--no more--and the meat isn't touching, and brown over medium-high heat on all sides until it's nice and golden all around.  You might have to do this in a couple batches.

When the meat is all brown, turn off the flame, tip out the grease and place the meat back into the pot.  Now, it's ok if it touches, but it should still all be in a single layer, no more.  If you have more meat than will fit in the pan in a single layer, use a second pan for the rest of the meat.  Add the zest, the sage, and the garlic cloves, and then enough milk to go halfway up the sides of the meat.  I usually will squeeze in the juice of half a lemon to get the curdling going faster, though the oil from the zest is actually enough to curdle the milk.  So, do it or not--you can't mess it up either way.  Turn the heat on, cover the pot (but leave the lid ajar), and bring the milk to a boil, then immediately reduce to a gentle simmer.  The milk should be just barely active, so usually this means that the burner is on the lowest possible heat.  Milk has a lot of sugar in it, and it will burn super easily, so turn it down!

It will take the pork shoulder at least three hours to become tender, so pull up a good book, or take this time to make some polenta, beans, or greens.  Clean your kitchen.  Sort through old family photos.  Organize your spice shelf.  Whatever you do, don't leave the kitchen, because you're going to have to do three things for the duration of the cooking to make sure things don't go awry:

1) turn the pork pieces--as in rotate them and move them around in the pot--every fifteen minutes or so so that they don't stick and burn,
2) scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to make sure that the milk, though it will caramelize and that is really tasty, does not burn,
3) constantly be adding more milk so that the total liquid level never is less an inch and a half up the sides of the pork.

After about 30-40 minutes, the milk will start to curdle and thicken, and though it looks really gross at first (Who am I kidding?  It looks pretty gross the whole time), it will taste so so so so so good.  But those curds are prone to burning, so take your stirring seriously.

When the meat falls apart to the touch--this might take 3 hours, or closer to 4, then it's done.  Remove the pork from the pan, and do your best to skim off some of the insane levels of fat that have rendered out of both the pork and the milk.  For something like this, the easiest way to do that (short of chilling the whole thing overnight and scraping off the cold fat) is to pour all of the curd sauce into a tall, narrow container like a measuring cup, and then use a spoon or a ladle to siphon the fat off the top. Once you've gotten the fat off (or most of it), taste the sauce and adjust the salt if necessary.

Slice the pork into portions, and serve with generous amounts of the sauce.  This is traditionally served with polenta, greens, or white beans.  I like it with a big pile of barely blanched green beans, so that I have something really fresh to eat alongside the super comforting, really cooked pork.

I purposely wrote the recipe for 10+ portions, so you'd have leftovers.  For this much of a time investment, you should get a few meals!!!