Polenta what?

Do you like polenta?  I was not a fan.  The few times I had eaten it, served as a side and it did not impress.  I have always been served it as a savory dish.  The idea that polenta could be a in something sweet never occurred to me.

I am not a picky eater.  Except, when it comes to cake.  I am a real cake snob.  The frosting either makes it or breaks it for me.  My body chooses to physically reject the ultra sugary, food dyed artificial frosting that has the same consistence as rubber cement.

The first bite, I was hesitant.  The larger grain of the cake created texture and personality.  Not like all those processed flour cakes who lack soul.  Light sweetness, a kiss on the cheek.  Fresh green and red grapes add juicy fruitiness and help break down the cake on the pallet.  Creamy rich vanilla, a familiar flavor, with more richness then I have encountered.  Each bite was a new flavor profile with such quality ingredients.  This was my experience with the polenta cake with fruit and vanilla marscapone cheese.  As not much of a cake or polenta fan, I would have never ordered this on my own.  It was a revelation.

I cannot stress the greatness of the polenta in the cake.  I will undoubtably be going back for more.  You can find this dish at Barkada, in the Temescal region of Oakland.  I recommend that you try it.  IMG_0342 IMG_0341

Good Bye PB&J, Hello Onigiri

IMG_0275IMG_0270Honestly, I was never much of a peanut butter and jelly guy.  Wait! Don’t shoot! Just, let me explain.  Of course, I enjoyed the accessional peanut butter and jelly sandwich but for school lunch, not my favorite.  By the time lunch rolled around I was always famished.  This school lunch favorite never really filled me up.  I was always more of a lunch meat guy.  Mostly turkey and ham.  In middle school I went through a short bologna phase, I glad to have out grown that.  Now let me tell you what I wish I was given for school lunch.  Onigiri, or japanese rice balls.

My first encounter with Onigiri occurred about a week ago during a visit to Japan town in San Francisco.  It came in a cool little triangle package that the man who makes them gets special to ensure that the moist rice doesn’t make the seaweed wrapping soggy.  I had no idea what to expect.  The crackle of the seaweed wrapping was shocking but the contrast with the soft rice is what keeps the next bite interesting.  The salty salmon filling is a prize, well seasoned and tender.  They come in many other flavors ask well.  We were served green tea with our meal, which was the prefect way to was down the savory snack.

Onigiri is considered to be bento.  Meaning it is meant to be eaten on the go.  Children may even take them to school for lunch.   For their small size, the rice balls were quite satisfying and filling.  This is the type of food that I prefer in my sack lunch.  Good bye Peanut butter and jelly,  hello Onigiri.

Japan Town, SF

Mom’s Lasagna

I come from a family of eaters.  We eat our food and like it too.  Even to this day the family gets excited to try new restaurants and compare them to some of our favorite regular eateries.  My mom was a major influence on our families pallets, being that she has been the primary cook for most of my life.

Their seems to be a pattern with Twenty something year olds and cooking.  It is a fact that every twenty something will have a signature dish that they will make when trying to impress.  My moms dish was one that she picked up in her early years at work.  She was invited to her bosses family event, an italian family gathering, his mother had spent all day making lasagna for the party.  As a gift my mom got the recipe for the lasagna.  This is not one of those forty minute meat and cheese lasagnas that anyone can just whip up.  This is the real deal.  Lasagna with back bone. Recipe straight out of a italian grandmothers cookbook.  To make one of these bad boys is an all day affair.

To any passerby the browned melted cheese exterior looks that same as every other lasagna but to the lasagna connoisseur small hints give away the dishes secrets.  A stray mushroom, is a prelude to the glorious sautéed mushroom layer that adds meaty earthiness to each bite.  Along the edge the ribbon of green is a welcome sight.  Spinach delicately laced with ricotta,  will change the hearts of anyone who has had mixed feelings about this leafy green.  Take my word for it, this is the lasagna you want.

Kitchen Adventure

What do eggs, poultry seasoning and strawberries have in common?  They all sound pretty awful together.  When I tried to create a dish that incorporates all of these ingredients I was hesitant.  The food that I normally made was always divided, either savory or sweet.  I have always been afraid to cross into the arena where these two are one in the same.

My dish was simple.  French toast with a fried egg on top, seasoned with poultry seasoning and drizzled with strawberry syrup.  Strawberry syrup I had only made once.  So of course, I added to much water when making the simple syrup.   In an attempt to save my soggy syrup I heated it little longer so some of the liquid would evaporate.  Problem solving, right?  The egg should have been straight forward and it was until I seasoned it.  I tapped the back of my brand new poultry seasoning box and dam.  Instantly, the entire egg was infested with green alien looking powder.  You couldn’t even tell there was anything underneath.  Out of sheer panic I positioned my face right over the egg and sputtered, trying to salvage my drowning protein.  Thankfully the top couple layers of green blew off.  Crisis averted!  However, because of my over seasoning the finished product came out looking sickly.

The Green egg with red syrup on top looked really bad.  I was hesitant.  I felt pretty lousy about it, until my roommates were eager to try my creation.  While we tucked into our christmas colored experiment we began to realize that it was quite good.  The sweet toast on bottom and the syrup on top was pretty awesome with the savory egg.  In retrospect the syrup made it.  Although, I feel like pretty much anything with syrup on it would taste alright.

 

 

Ingredients:

two eggs

sugar

bread

strawberries

poultry seasoning

butter

water

  1. Put water and sugar in a small sauce pan.  Heat on medium and stir until sugar melts.
  2. Dice strawberries as small as possible and set aside for later.
  3. crack one egg into a shallow dish and mix in sugar
  4. butter sauté pan.  dip bread in egg mixture and place in pan and cook until both sides are golden brown.
  5. crack egg in pan with butter, sprinkle with poultry seasoning and cook until desired doneness.
  6. Place egg on top of french toast.  spoon some strawberry syrup on top and enjoy.

 

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