Monday, October 24, 2005

Our Daily Bread . . .

500 Florida Street
San Francisco, CA 94954
Head Baker: Ruben Barrera

Maddie Barrera-Crum among the tasty offerings. Ana is in the background.

The Staff of Life . . .

Artichoke Focaccia . . .

Mixed Bread Basket . . .

More Tasty Offerings . . .

Hmmm...all that stuff about butter in the previous post. What's the first thing that comes to mind?

B - R - E - A - D ! ! ! But not just ANY bread.

Ander and I stopped by the Windsor Farmer's Market to see what the Fall harvest had to offer. The seasonal table brought forth a myriad of goodies. There were the luscious golden globes of Fuyu Persimmons. Royal Red Pomegranates. Several bushels of apples. Perfumey Muscat grapes. Bright orange pumpkins, in every shape and size. Then, behold! The modest table with cute little Maddie counting out change for a customer.

With a furrow between her brow, concentrating and focused, she lets out,
"... three-fifty, four and a dollar makes five." She looks up to her satisfied customer and flashes her bright smile. "Thank you. Come again."

She adjusts her hoodie on her head and turns to me with her flashy smile. She extends a cheery "Hi! What would you like today?" Her Step-Mom, Ana is in the background waiting to tag team the request. I return a toothy smile. "Everything looks soooooo gooooood." I choose the Chocolate Madeleines. For $3.00, you get 6, fit-in-your-hand, genoise cakes shaped as seashells to please your appetite. Chocolate, because I'm gonna have to share with Ander. Madeleines because they're my favorite guilty pleasure. Now, to hunt down that single-shot latte, low foam.

Before leaving Maddie's booth, I noticed the sky-high bread pudding on the outside corner table. What do you do with an extra loaf? Bread pudding sounds like an easy task. Try this one on for size. I've included a simple Vanilla Sauce to drizzle over the sliced servings. I suggest the "Hard Sauce"for adventuresome palates. (Gets its name from the "hard" liquor used.) Place a pool of the "Hard Sauce" on a serving dish and lay the sliced pudding on top. Serve additional sauce "on-the-side".

Never mind counting carbs. Enjoy! Lift that fork!


• 2 cups milk
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 4 slices white bread, without crust
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• dash nutmeg
• 1/2 cup raisins, optional

Heat milk over low heat until hot, but not boiling. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and salt; stir well. Gradually stir about 1/4 of the hot milk to the egg mixture and stir in. Add remaining milk, stirring constantly.
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Stir in vanilla.

Place bread slices in a buttered baking dish, (sprinkle raisins over bread, if used), about 2-quart size. Pour the milk mixture over bread. Combine cinnamon and nutmeg; sprinkle over pudding mixture. Bake, uncovered, at 300° for about 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with vanilla sauce or “hard” sauce, if desired.
Serves 6.


• 1 cup water
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• pinch salt

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine sugar and cornstarch, blend well. Add sugar and cornstarch mixture to boiling water; reduce heat to medium, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and add the butter, vanilla, and salt, stirring until butter is melted. Spoon over dessert.
Makes 3/4 cup.


• 1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3 egg yolks
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar
• 2 to 3 tablespoons bourbon, whiskey or brandy

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the whipping cream and vanilla, bring just to a simmer. Remove from heat.

Beat together the egg yolks and sugar. Quickly stir 1/2 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks, stirring constantly.

Pour back into the hot cream in the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until it just begins to simmer, then stir and cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and stir in the bourbon, whiskey or brandy. Strain and serve warm. Makes about 1 cup of “hard” sauce.

Adapted From:
Diana Rattray, Southern U.S. Cuisine

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Pass the Butter, PLEASE, already...

A contribution from a couple of fabulous foodie friends . . .

Grazie, Lorenza! Merci, Shawnie!


Both have the same amount of calories.

Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams compared to 5 grams

Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the
same amount of butter according to a recent Harvard Medical Study

Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients

Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few only because
they are added.

Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of
other foods.

Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for
less then 100 years.

Now for Margarine... Very high in Trans Fatty Acids. Triple risk of Coronary
Heart Disease

Increases total LDL ( this is the bad cholesterol). Lowers HDL cholesterol
and this is the good one.

Increases the risk of cancers by up to five fold.

Lowers quality of breast milk.

Decreases immune response.

Decreases insulin response.

And here is the most disturbing fact....
Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE from being PLASTIC...!!!! (This fact alone
should be enough reason to avoid margarine for life and anything else that
is hydrogenated. This means hydrogen is added changing the molecular
structure of the food)

YOU can try this yourself. Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it in your
garage or a shaded area. Within a couple of days you will note a couple of
things. No flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it, It has
no nutritional value, nothing will grow on it, even those teeny weenie
microorganisms will not a find a home to grow...Why? Because it is nearly
plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Ann E. Rogers

Secretary, National Cancer Institute at Frederick
Center for Cancer Research Basic Research Laboratory Gene Regulation

Friday, October 21, 2005

Viva Italian - Ravioli

Placing the meat filling . . .

Covering layer . . .

Tamping the dough . . .

Cutting out the pillows . . .

Voila! . . .

Ravioli - The first memory of ever having this delectable morsel was seeing it come out of a can - Chef Boy - well, you know. Little did my naive young self realize what I was really missing. It is a lot of work, but gadzuks, is it ever worth it! Of course, you can go down to your local pasta house, Italian Deli freezer or Trader J and pick up a few of these lovely pillows, but then you're missing out on all the fun! Think of all the accoutrements you can play with. Bon Apetito!

About Ravioli

Stuffed pasta goes a long way back (Boccaccio mentions ravioli in the Decameron), and almost every region in Italy has its own varieties, with characteristic forms and stuffings. Ravioli, a pasta whose name derives from the verb “to wrap” (ravvolgere), are Ligurian, as are Pansôtti. Tortellini and Cappelletti are Emilian, whereas Agnelotti are from Piemonte.

A century ago stuffed pasta with vegetable-based fillings were eaten on Fridays and in Lent by the well off, and eaten year round by those too poor to buy meat. The meat-stuffed varieties, on the other hand, were a day-after treat made with the left over meats from Sunday dinners or festive meals. Times have changed, and now most Italians buy stuffed pasta ready made.

While you can buy commercially made fresh stuffed pastas in the gourmet sections of many supermarkets (we’ll ignore the stuff sold in cans), there are two advantages to making your own. First, you can choose what to put into your stuffing. A friend of mine who owned a pasta factory told me that he had to leave out some ingredients, like nutmeg, from the tortellini he sold to restaurants because some clients objected to them. Second, pastas stuffed with some of the more exotic fillings are practically impossible to find.

Stuffings for pasta can be either meat, vegetable, or fish-based, and can include a creamy cheese such as ricotta. Specific names should in theory denote specific fillings. For example, as Artusi noted more than a century ago, ravioli should be filled with greens or greens and cheese -- this is because they are Ligurian, and the Ligurian diet was almost exclusively vegetarian, especially inland. However, the word raviolo denotes a shape, and there are a number of meat-based recipes for them.

Agnolotti (Meat Filled)

Agnolotti (pronounced anneeolottee) are Piemontese stuffed pasta, and come in a great many different varieties, some filled with cheese, others meat, and others still meatless. They are, in any case square and small, about 3/4 of an inch to an inch on a side, and are made using very thin sheets of pasta. They also are often made from cooked meat, in other words, leftovers. Recycling can result in something both elegant and very tasty.

• For the pasta:
• 5 cups flour
• 8 yolks and 2 whites (you want 5 eggs' worth of volume)

• For the filling:
• 12 ounces (300 g) cooked lightly seasoned pot roast
• 8 ounces (150 g) roast pork loin
• 5 ounces (75 g) fresh, mild sausage
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• A bunch of escarole (you can use other greens if need be)
• 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano
• 3 eggs
• Freshly grated nutmeg (just a pinch)
• Salt
• For cooking and / or as a sauce:
• Meat broth
• Melted, unsweetened butter (about a half cup, or perhaps a little more)
• Fresh sage
• Freshly grated Parmigiano or Grana Padano
• White truffle, if you're lucky


In any case, to serve 6 you'll need the ingredients above.

Make the dough from the flour and the eggs (see instructions if need be), put it in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it sit.

While you're kneading the dough bring water to a boil, and boil the sausage and the brains for a few minutes, then remove them and let them cool. Remove the sausage casing and crumble the sausage. Pick over the brain, removing membranes, and mince it.

Blanch the escarole, drain it, squeezing well to extract moisture, and mince it. Then sauté it until done in the butter. Mince the cooked meats quite finely (if need be you can blend them, but be careful not to make a paste). Combine all the ingredients of the filling in a bowl and mix them thoroughly with your fingers to obtain a homogenous mixture, seasoning it to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Take the pasta dough and roll it out dime-thin. Cut the sheet into two equal-sized pieces, dust one lightly with corn meal, roll it up, and cover it so it stays moist. Dot the half of the sheet still on your work surface with blebs of filling about the size of a small hazelnut, putting the dots in rows that are about an inch apart (I have seen agnolotti that are smaller). Unroll the other sheet, shake off the corn meal, and lay it over the first. Tamp the sheet down well around the filling, so it sticks, and cut the agnolotti free with a serrated pasta wheel.

Come time to cook them, heat the butter in a pan with the sage, and remove it from the flames when the sage begins to whisper (you don't want to brown the butter or burn the sage). In the meantime, bring broth to a boil.

Boil the agnolotti in broth, skimming them off, into a serving bowl, as soon as they rise to the surface. Season them with the butter and sage, and serve with freshly grated cheese, and thinly sliced truffle, if you have it..

Above Adaptation:
From Kyle Phillips,

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Light Bistro Fare


Don't Cry For Me

Organically Grown

Bitter Greens with Grana Padano, dressed in shallot vinaigrette

Grana Padano

Grana Padano was created at the beginning of the millennium by the Cistercian monks of Chiaravalle who used ripened cheese as a way of preserving surplus milk. Between 1150 and 1200 a large number of cheese-makers became engaged in the production of Grana Padano, and by 1477 it was held to be the most famous cheese of Italy. This sweet and savoury cheese became a particular favourite of the people of Lombardy and its production spread throughout the region. As it lasts a long time without spoiling, Grana Padano could also be sold to outlying markets. Historical documents describe its progressive diffusion. The name Grana was popularly bestowed upon the cheese because of its "grainy" consistency which was markedly different from the other cheeses known until then. It began to appear with greater frequency as an ingredient in the foods of aristocrats and commoners alike. Grana Padano is a cylindrical, cooked, semi-fat hard cheese which is matured slowly. It may be used as a table cheese or for grating. A golden oily rind encases a white or straw-coloured fine-grained cheese with crumbly fissures radiating outwards from the centre. The taste is fragrant and delicate, and the cheese preserves its integrity for one or two years. Grana Padano is produced throughout the regions of Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto, and in the provinces of Trento, Bologna, Ferrara, Forlì, Piacenza and Ravenna.

Consorzio Tutela Grana Padano

Via XXIV Giugno, 8
Frazione San Martino della Battaglia
25015 Desenzano del Garda (BS)

Light Bistro Fare

Ander thoroughly devoured his dinner. He was famished. He had been painting all day. We took a short break from our projects and ended up at the neighborhood Starbucks. I gulped down that single-shot latte, while Ander savored his Americano. Grana Padano was introduced to us by our dear friends Phil and Liz Pinto during a picnic over the summer. They are an Italian couple originally from New York. I love their spirit for life. Liz is a published writer. Phil, a retired longshoreman, is a bull's-eye bowman. Yes, this archer actually shot an arrow into another arrow which was originally a dead ringer. Bull's-eye. A million to one shot? He did it. I've seen the evidence.

Phil is also an artist. Ander meets him every day for their morning walk along the Santa Rosa Creek. Phil and Lizzy share our gusto for good eating and quality food. I've yet to taste their meatball sandwiches. They've yet to taste my Filipino cooking. Hmmm... I see a dinner date in our future...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Artist's Feast on Beauty . . .

"Water-Lily Pond", 16x24, Oil on paper, ©ander

"Water-Lily Pond II", 16x24, Oil on paper, ©ander

"Water-Lily Pond IV", 16x24, Oil on paper, ©ander

"Untitled", 12x12, Oil on canvas, ©ander

Water-lilies. Monet's muse. Ander's inspiration. Anni's joy.

It's overcast and I've spent most of the day putting together this post. Ander and I will take a short trip to the local coffee/tea house for an Americano and a single-shot latte, low foam or an Earl Grey, hot.

I have a simple Quiche set for the dinner menu. It will be made with fresh gathered eggs, garlic (harvested and cured over the summer), sweet red bell peppers (straight off the vine), caramelized onions, apple-smoked bacon, some half & half, and emmentaler cheese. An accompanying salad of baby bitter greens, roasted beets and grana padano cheese, dresssed with shallot vinaigrette, will complete the meal. Monet would never dress his salad. He was quite satisfied with a sprinkle of salt and several grindings of fresh cracked black pepper showered over the leafy greens.

Where's the Buffet

"Live...Live...Live...Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death." - Auntie Mame

Okay, full speed ahead.

After hours and hours of perusing other food blogs, I am compelled to include myself among the hundreds of bloggers out there. Within this forum I will share my inpirations, thoughts, passions, philosophy, adventures, ideas, and dreams.

I am in a transition period of my life. Through my journey I hope to find my true purpose. It takes courage to look ahead not knowing what lies before you, but I'm in for the ride, E-ticket and all.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Anni, happily married to Ander, a gifted and talented artist. We live in the heart of wine country in the North Bay, an hour north of San Francisco. We have no children of our own, but joyfully share in the custody of 16 laying hens. No rooster to say among the brood. Our neighbors prefer it that way. We grow our own heirloom tomatoes, a variety of peppers, pole beans, bush beans, and wax beans. We have a myriad of culinary and medicinal herbs on the property. We have a stand alone fig tree and a couple of bay laurels.

We have two nephews and four nieces, ages from 5 months to 12 years old. My only brother also lives in the North Bay with his lovely wife and baby daughter. I have two young sisters living in Southern California with their spouses and fabulous children. Another sister is exploring the Pacific Northwest and the outer rims of Alaska. My adoring mother lives in the San Diego area.

I love family. I love food. I love to cook. I love to dine. I love fresh produce. I love fresh herbs. I love spices. I love condiments. I love fine wine. I love to eat. I love to learn. I love to teach. I love to travel. I love to shop. I love to create. I love to play. I love to dance. I love to sing. I love to laugh. I love to love. I love to live...