I was so honored when Tracey asked me to be guest blogger especially because I’m a residential interior designer not a chef. However, my husband and I are real foodies and living in San Francisco there is absolutely no shortage of inspiration where food’s concerned. We love to eat out but also really enjoy entertaining and cooking - hence the tonnes (not kidding) of cook books we have!!
I thought I’d take you on a little tour of some of our favorite restaurants here in San Francisco and the dishes we then try to recreate.
When we moved here from London, we first lived in North Beach, which is the Italian quarter - I love all the lamp posts decorated with Italian flags, Washington Square with it’s imposing church and all of it’s authentic restaurants, which are actually reasonably priced! One of our Friday night haunts used to be The Washington Bar and Grill (it’s sadly closed now) but the bar tender knew us by name and before I had taken my seat there was a Kir Royale waiting for me with a twist of lemon - just how I like it! We’d snack at the bar and especially loved their salads - here’s our tomato and avocado, tomato and herb and Tuscan bread salads:
Around the corner from Washington Square is the up and coming Grant Street - I’ve noticed the fancy clothing boutiques moving in but one place that has stayed put is Jacqueline’s. It’s a tiny space that specializes in souffles!! I’ve been meaning to try and make a souffle for years and finally made my first batch last week. Donna Hay is my new hero.... I followed her instructions, didn’t deviate once, and here are my spinach and cheddar cheese souffles... very tasty too!
Another fun area in the City is Hayes Valley - it’s full of restaurants and cute stores. This is also where Bar Jules is located. Being a big “foodie” and not getting out as often as I’d like, I love the fact that they post their daily changing menu each morning on their website, using fresh, seasonal produce provided by local vendors, farms, etc. So I can salivate over what I’m going to eat that evening, constantly changing my mind too! One time we were there we dined on flank steak on a roasted sweet potato with grilled spring onion and garlic bulbs... I think we did a good job of copying this one:
I don’t even know if I should tell you about my secret restaurant... but here goes. Chez Spencer is a real find. Tucked away on a side street in the Mission district - an iron gate gives no indication of what is tucked away. It opens up into a little courtyard with an overhead canopy and French doors leading to an industrial like space that’s made cosy with a fireplace, crisp white table cloths and a pianist! The menu is fabulous and, get this, they have a food truck where you can get escargot to go!!! We recreated their Chilean seabass with a Chardonnary beurre blanc sauce, heirloom tomatoes and mixed greens:
Finally, I’m definitely a savory girl... not big on desserts at all - but if I have to share one then Zuni Cafe’s creme brulee is delicious. The crispy caramelized top and the fluffy creamy middle is perfect. When I make mine - as you can see here - I also like to add some raspberries or rhubarb - I love how the colors bleed into the cream too!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick visit to San Francisco and my culinary attempts!! Thank you Tracey xoxo_____________________________________
Guest Blogger: Sergio's
James Kim is a writer for foodonthetable.com. Food on the Table is a company that provides online budget meal planning services. Their goal is to help families eat better and save money.
Food Labels: The Skinny on What You Can Trust
Food labels are there to inform you about your food buying decisions. However, they’re also there to help producers advertise their products by sticking various claims on them. So what can you trust when you’re doing your meal planning? Read on to find out!
So what are some of the labels that you can definitely trust? Well, to start off, perhaps the most common label you’ll see is “certified,” which is on meat products. Now, the definition for “certified” isn’t all that specific: the Food Safety and Inspection Service just says that those products were judged by certain “quality characteristics” like the grade of the meat. That might seem a little shady to you, but it’s completely true that certified meat is a higher quality than the other product you’ll find at the store.
The next label is pretty hot lately: “organic.” Organic is one of the simplest labels, and means the food was “produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation” in farms and processing facilities that have been vetted by a government-approved organization. Making the label even more transparent is the fact that there are different labels for the different percentages of organic ingredients that a product can have: “100% organic” for 100%, “organic” for 95% or more, “made with organic ingredients” for 70% or more and “contains organic ingredients” for 70% or less.
Going along with the “trendy” theme, another trustworthy label is “fair trade.” This label is given out by FLO-CERT, who checks to see that everyone involved in the life of a product receives all of the money that they’re entitled to. As an example, this means that the small farmer in a poverty-stricken nation who grows the coffee beans for your Starbucks coffee will receive his fair share rather than getting edged out by the large company buying up the beans to ship them out.
Things don’t seem too bad right now in the world of food labels. Healthier, higher quality food where the farmers actually make money? Sounds good, right? Well, unfortunately, not every food label is so great. In a decided contrast to “organic,” “natural” is actually one of the most deceiving food labels. The FDA does make sure that companies stick to regulations to label their food “natural,” but these regulations are just that the “food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” In other words, you’ll be giving the food a more rigorous test just by looking at the ingredients list on the back for yourself (which is definitely what you should always do).
In another parallel, if the idea of “fair trade” appealed to you then you’re probably someone who likes the idea of buying food with the “local” label. In theory, “local” food is grown within
100 miles of where it’s sold, meaning you get it fresh and support farmers in the community. However, unlike with the other labels we’ve talked about, no one actually checks anyone’s claims of “local” product. Having the label on a product doesn’t really mean anything. If you really want local product, then go to the nearest farmer’s market so that you’re right at the source.
When you’re buying your food, remember that food labels are neither purely good nor purely bad. Approach all your purchases with a measure of caution and you’ll do fine. Knowledge is power, after all!
Easy Summer Foods from the Hamptons
- By Alexandra Jacobs
Alexandra is a travel enthusiast who loves to write about tourism, beaches, food, and the wonderful things in the world. She provides her own insights on vacationing to the blogosphere. If you would like to learn more about her, follow her @alexsjourneys or visit her blog alexsjourneys.wordpress.com.
These recipes are perfect for a get together.
Try this easy to make and refreshing Hampton’s cocktail on a hot summer’s day.
Fill a cocktail shaker or pitcher 2/3 full with ice cubes. Over the ice pour 2 parts citrus flavored vodka, 1 part Cointreau, 1 part cranberry juice and ½ part lime juice. Shake well and pour into martini glasses.
Sunshine Salad with Mango Dressing
1 head green lettuce-wash and separate leaves
1 head red lettuce-wash and separate leaves
1 roasted and cooled chicken breast-skinned and thinly sliced (optional)
1 mango- peeled and sliced
1 papaya- peeled and sliced
1 red bell pepper-sliced
1 yellow bell pepper-sliced
1 cup roasted macadamia nuts
½ cup drained and sliced water chestnuts
1 cup raisins
Arrange the lettuce leaves in a circular formation around a large serving platter. Arrange chicken, fruits and vegetables into individual ray like patterns extending from the center of the platter.
1 ¾ lbs mangos-peeled and chopped
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ cup sunflower oil
½ teaspoon honey
In a blender or a food processor, purée the mangos, vinegar, mustard and curry powder. Transfer dressing to a bowl and whisk in the oil and honey. Place bowl in the center of the platter.
This summer recipe from the Hamptons feeds an entire family of eight.
1 pounds sashimi grade tuna loin
½ cup sesame seed oil
½ cup black sesame seeds
½ cup white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coarse ground kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Wasabi Citrus Aioli:
2 egg yolks
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 lime, zest finely grated
1 ½ tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
3 heaping tablespoons dried wasabi
2 star fruits thinly sliced
Quarter the tuna loin lengthwise. Marinate in sesame oil for 30 minutes.
Mix together all the dry ingredients. Place tuna strips in dry ingredients, pressing firmly to coat.
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and sear tuna for 2 minutes on each side. Remove, cool and slice into 1/8 inch thick slices.
Add egg yolks to food processor and beat till pale yellow.
Add garlic clove and slowly drizzle some olive oil into mixture.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Continue processing while adding small amounts of oil to thicken to desired consistency.
Place star fruit slices on plate, top with tuna slices and a dollop of wasabi aioli.
1/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
Mix topping ingredients.
Oven preheated to 375 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 by 9 by 2-inch cake pan.
Cream butter in a medium-sized bowl. Add egg and beat till light and fluffy.
Combine baking powder, salt and flour.
To egg mixture, alternate adding flour and milk. Mix well after each addition.
Gently fold in the berries. Sprinkle top of cake with topping mixture.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.