Category Archives: Tips/Techniques

(Recipe) Easy, Delicious Chicken Enchiladas

mom-enchiladas

I fondly recall an enchilada dish my mom made that was notable for the colorful inclusion of black olives (the tasteless canned, sliced kind — she was busy) and sliced scallions.  Compared to the gloppy enchiladas in Mexican restaurants swimming in mud-colored sauce, hers was a pretty change of pace even though it probably relied on canned tomatoes and other convenient ingredients popular with her generation. So I set out to do a version with better ingredients.  Given that this is completely made up, I apologize for not having succinct amounts and detailed instructions. But enchiladas aren’t very hard to make so this should be easily put together. Note my alternative approach for the usual frying of tortillas called for in making enchiladas. Continue reading

Wine Salt – Magical Ingredient for Improved Outcomes

wine saltHow can something so simple be so transformative?  I read about wine salt in a New York Times article some years ago and the concept intrigued me. Combining the properties of marinades (adding flavor and tenderness) and dry rubs (helping create a crispy exterior and adding yet more flavor), wine salt is what it sounds like:  wine and salt (and a bit more). But its impact on proteins is magical. Besides tenderizing, it encourages juiciness and adds subtle but enhanced flavor.  Continue reading

Cooking for a Cause

Share - AfricaIn war-torn parts of the world, women still must cook for their families despite the hardships.  A wonderful new cookbook spearheaded by a local resident raises money for female victims of war.

(Published by South Bay Accent in December, 2013.)

For most well-off South Bay residents, milestone birthdays are spent at a fancy spa, maybe indulging in an exciting sport and certainly consuming too much food and drink.  And then there’s Lauri Pastrone. When the Los Gatos resident turned 50, she decided to launch an all-encompassing project to vastly improve the lives of thousands of women she would never meet.

Pastrone, a slim, articulate blonde, had long been making contributions to Women for Women International (WfWI), an organization that helps female war survivors rebuild their lives through small stipends and skills training aimed at earning needed resources — money, food — to assist themselves and their families.  Launched in 1993, WfWI has distributed more than $108 million in aid, loans and other services to well over 370,000 women who live in the war-ravaged nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Rwanda. Continue reading

(Recipe) Two Salads in One: Tomato Green Salad

tomato salad-5Fast to prepare, lighter than tomato-only salads and very delicious, this is my summer staple.

During tomato season, it’s tempting to pile these luscious fruit that we treat like a vegetable along with cheese and other ingredients into the ubiquitous tomato salads that pop up on restaurant menus in many guises.  Don’t get me wrong; I love those tasty towers of tomato and I’ve got some recipes here.  But sometimes, a lighter approach is desirable. Continue reading

(Recipe) Herb Salad – It’s Great as a Sauce!

DSC_0007Herbs make a mouthful of taste when used as a salad and work as a great counterpoint to many savory dishes.

Many sauces include herbs as a key flavor agent — hollandaise and pesto are just the beginning — so why not lighten things up and use just the herbs?  It’s less crazy than it seems once you’ve tried it.  Plus, a little pile of lightly dressed greenery is a lovely addition to a plate. Continue reading

Recipe: Pink Pearl Apple Carpaccio

Every year, I patiently wait until late summer for the ever-so-brief pink pearl apple season. These gorgeous, crisp, juicy, tart apples vary in color from mottled pink and white to vivid crimson and inspire all kinds of recipes to show off their taste and beauty.  I buy them from the Hale’s Apple Farm booth at the downtown Palo Alto farmers market, where they’re in season for just a few short weeks, usually beginning in late August or early September.   While these taste great, it’s the magnificent color that sets them apart.  They retain their color in apple tarts and crostadas and even fresh apple sauces.  But I like these apples best in raw preparations like a fast, delicious starter or salad replacement such as this combo of thin-sliced apples, roasted walnuts, cheese (pick your favorite) and fresh herbs.  If the companion ingredients are on hand, this comes together in a few minutes and is light and utterly delicious. It will taste the same made with regular apples, but the pink pearls make it memorable. Continue reading

Great Meals from Cookbook Recipes? Nah.

(A version of this article was originally published in Metro Silicon Valley in September, 2003.)

Is this a too-harsh opinion? Anyone who thinks that cookbooks are always-reliable blueprints for celestial meals has been lucky — or just buys them to look at the mouth-watering photos so prevalent these days.

I own a zillion cookbooks myself and have been cooking seriously since just after learning my first word (“souffle”). Well, close anyway. And I rarely find a recipe that doesn’t need a LOT of help to nudge it into the “great” category. So armed with a suspicious mind, I talked to a handful of some really good chefs to see if either I have strange taste or cookbooks should be taken with a grain of fleur de sel.

This is an early version of an article published a couple of years ago. The publication made me rework the piece to be “less controversial.” Well, hell. Now that I have my own blog, I’m going to let ‘er rip! The piece is long, but if you’re a foodie, you’ll enjoy hearing what the experts say. And I’ve got a few recipes that these chefs gave me that I’m publishing here. Search “recipes.”

So without further ado…..

Continue reading