Tag Archives: food

Chez Panisse’s 40th anniversary: a remembrance

4 Sep

It was an obscure, dingy, two-story apartment building, converted from an old house, in an ignored part of Berkeley. Not expensive to buy. It had good bones. I tore it down to the studs and started to rebuild.

I was pretty much on my own, since Alice Waters, my 50-50 partner, was busy at her job at the Montessori school. Our backers, Berkeley lawyers, a special breed, had promised to be our partners, but a few weeks into the reconstruction they decided to pull out of the deal. That hurt us badly, since they had been our construction funding source.

Panicked, Alice and I scraped and begged for cash and managed to cobble together enough to keep going, as long as we did most of the work on an excruciatingly limited budget. We took loans of $300 or $400 from everyone we could, plus help from our families.

Maybe we would have had an easier time if we had been able to explain to them that 40 years on, this little place we were calling Chez Panisse would be regarded as one of the most important restaurants in the history of American dining. But even in Berkeley in the 1970s, that would have been a stretch. Still, this month, while most of the food world fetes the restaurant, it’s good to remember that its birth was far from painless.

I got involved in the restaurant because I had been dinner-party friends with Alice and her then-boyfriend, Tom Luddy. They asked me to join them as a partner and run the kitchen because, although Alice had a lot of ideas about food, she had never worked in a restaurant. Nor had I, but I was a talented amateur cook, giving large dinner parties for my academic colleagues, and relatively fearless about new ventures. But it turned out that cooking was only part of the overwhelming requirements of the start-up.

As city inspectors came by to examine the exposed rafters and struts, more and more requirements piled on me. They were sympathetic, but rules were rules. We had to re-plumb, rewire, shore up, fireproof. Every directive was a stab in the wallet.

Our plumber, a good guy but old, gimpy and not underweight, made an economical deal with us, but we could not afford to pay his assistant. So I enlisted a free assistant … me. In the mud in the cramped crawl space under the crumbling building, I learned to solder copper pipe. For me, covered with mud, lying on my back, torching the copper, this was a truly memorable moment in the Chez Panisse chronicles. And much more was to come, making the muddy condition an apt metaphor for the early pre-opening days.

Four carpenters and I worked on the construction job. I hammered and sawed with them. You might say the carpenters were hippies. They were talented but slow, taking time to enjoy the Berkeley version of coffee breaks on frequent occasions. Their pay was way below scale, but they got a home-cooked lunch on Fridays. They were a happy crew.

It was a tear-out-and-design-as-you-go project, with no documented plans, just a vision in my head.

As funds allowed, we finished the rooms. We even managed to keep the original toilets and staircase from the previous structure. I wanted to give the dining room a Provençal feeling. We put it downstairs, next to the kitchen, first, at my insistence, with a small window into the kitchen; now no wall at all. Our genius finish carpenter, Kip, back from two years in Japan studying Asian carpentry, made some brilliant cuts in cheap redwood bender board that gave the dining room a very elegant and French look.

Right off the farm

The hard-cash problems became even more serious. It was time to outfit the kitchen and dining rooms.

Unremarked in Chez Panisse history is the first direct-from-the-farm purchase. An advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle sent me to Sonoma County, where a farmer had a barnful of used kitchen equipment. It is noteworthy what I had to avoid stepping in to get a look at the goods. (Not just mud.) Fact: The first farm-fresh purchase was a huge stove. We also got our refrigerator there.

Of course, when you buy equipment out of a barn, you never know what you’re getting. One of my most vivid memories of the early days was finding a large fetid puddle under a refrigeration unit that contained our precious food supply.

Outside, we put a face on the front of the building. Old doors were our cement forms to retain the planting dirt. My brother Charles, a Beverly Hills dentist, was the only guy I knew who could mortar bricks, and he came up to build the stairs and walkway into the building. Artist David Goines made us a sign in his brilliant style that morphed into menu headings, posters and our logo.

Alice shopped for chairs, tables, flatware — all used but perfect for the venue. And all cheap.

Now for the final problem — the cuisine. We aimed for bistro-trattoria food, and I convinced Alice that our best shot was a single menu that changed every day. This turned out to be a great stroke, since we published monthly schedules of our dishes, again beautifully designed by Goines. People would put them up on refrigerator doors and mark days and dishes that they wished to try. We offered things that could not be found then in American restaurants, such as coq au vin, cassoulet, pasta fresca and pâté.

Since many Berkeleyites had passed our construction site, our presence and opening were well known. We were triple-booked the first night, and the restaurant has been fully booked for the last 40 years.

None of us had ever been in the restaurant business, except as an occasional waiter. The first days were furious, with Jerry flitting around the dining room, Vicky and Leslie jamming at the stoves, and Alice glowing with excitement. I was in charge of the kitchen, acting as chef de cuisine due to my extensive knowledge of French and Italian cooking, and Alice was “front of house.”

Somehow, we did it.

Five years later, I moved to Los Angeles to produce films and sold out my half of the restaurant. But I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in the creation of a legend.

Happy birthday, Chez Panisse. Out of the mud grows the lotus.

Paul Aratow is the author of “La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange.” He is a film producer living in Los Angeles.

The highly regarded Chez Panisse in Berkeley is 40 years old. (Seib, Al / Los Angeles Times / September 1, 2011)


A Chez Panisse birthday remembrance

Lemon Bar Recipes

31 Aug

A recent family request for recipes has my mouth watering. Following are some of my favorite recipes for tart, tangy, mouth puckering Lemon Bars. Classic takes, a lite version, and an inspired variation with grapefruit from a contest blogger. Enjoy

1) Ina Garten Lemon Bars Recipe
Copyright 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Serves: 20 squares or 40 triangles

For the crust:
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners’ sugar.
2) Cooks Illustrated Lemon Bars Recipe
The Editors of Cook’s Illustrated | Baking Illustrated | America’s Test Kitchen, 2004 | Makes 16 bars

Lemon bars are pretty easy to make, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get them just the way you want them. Whether from bakeries or home recipes, the crust is often quite soggy, and many versions are too sweet and lack true lemon flavor. The warm filling must be added to a warm crust. Start preparing the filling when the crust goes into the oven. Be sure to cool the bars completely before cutting them.—the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated
Active time: 25 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes, not including cooling time.
Ingredients| metric conversion
For the crust
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more to decorate the finished bars
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the lemon filling
  • 7 large egg yolks, plus 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (from 4 or 5 medium lemons), plus 1/4 cup finely grated zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Confectioners’ sugar, optional
Make the crust
1. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Fold two 16-inch pieces of foil or parchment paper lengthwise to measure 9 inches wide. Fit 1 sheet in the bottom of the greased pan, pushing it into the corners and up the sides of the pan (overhang will help in removal of baked bars). Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray the sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a food processor and process briefly. Add the butter and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Make the filling
4. In a medium non-reactive bowl, whisk together the yolks and whole eggs until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and whisk until just combined, about 5 seconds. Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt; whisk until combined, about 5 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a medium non-reactive saucepan, add the butter pieces, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency and registers 170°F (76°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Immediately pour the curd through a single-mesh stainless steel strainer set over a clean non-reactive bowl. Stir in the heavy cream; pour the curd into the warm crust immediately.
5. Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil or parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 2 1/2 inch squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts as necessary. Sieve confectioners’ sugar over the bars, if desired.
3) Cooks Country Lower-Fat Lemon Squares

They had me at “lemon”.  Add “lower fat” and I pretty much ran to the grocery store for supplies.  Cook’s Country came out with this recipe in their June/July 2011 magazine.  These bars are wonderfully lemony!  The butter was decreased from 12 Tbsp. (in a traditional lemon square recipe), down to 4 Tbsp! 
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
Lemon Topping:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg white
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped lemon zest
  • 6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar, for dusting top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack in the middle.  Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing foil to hang over pan edges (you will used these foil handles to lift the squares out of the dish after baking).  Spray foil with non-stick spray.
In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, cornstarch, zest, baking powder and salt until combined.  Add butter pieces and milk and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Pour into pan and press down evenly (I use the bottom of a glass so I don’t get finger divots).  Bake until edges are lightly brown, about 18-20 minutes.  Let cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
To make the lemon topping, whisk sugar, eggs, egg white, flour and salt together in a bowl until smooth.  Stir in lemon juice and zest. Pour over cooled crust and bake until filling is set, 15-20 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar.  Using foil handles, lift lemon squares from pan and cut into 9 squares.

4) Texas Pink Grapefruit Bars with Cardamom Shortbread Crust by Camilla Cooks
Cook’s Country Cookie Contest 2007



1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 large eggs
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit zest
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2/3 cup freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Optional: 3 drops red food coloring (optional—to further tint the filling pink)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch metal pan with foil; spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Process the flour, brown sugar, cardamom and salt in a food processor. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into prepared pan. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare topping.

Whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, grapefruit zest, lime zest, grapefruit juice, lime juice and food coloring in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until pudding-like consistency, about 6-8 minutes. Strain over warm crust and spread into even layer.

Bake until filling is set, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. Cut into 2-inch squares. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving. Makes 16 bars. 

Dulce de Leche Bacon, Coconut, Chocolate Chip Magic Bars | LoveFeast Table

30 Aug
 dulce de leche magic bars

(Lately all I keep coming across are bacon recipes! I had to pass this one on, salty and sweet. Enjoy! Shelly)

Stop my beating heart!!!  Chocolate, bacon, coconut, almonds, dulce de leche!!!

What more could you ask for in a cookie?

This recipe seemed pretty doable.  It seemed straight forward until I realized my local grocery store doesn’t carry dulce de leche.  So, as I’m standing there in the refrigerated isle,  I pulled out my phone (I love modern technology!) and googled dulce de leche recipes.  At the top of the screen was Alton Brown’s recipe.  Being as we are huge fans of Alton Brown, I quickly scrolled the recipe and gathered the necessary ingredients.

Friday night I started to prep for my now-more-difficult, cookie recipe!  I began by bringing the milk and sugar to a boil.

simmering milk

Making dulce de leche is not hard, but it takes some time and, can I just say, it’s soooo worth it!  I even added a bit to the kids steamers for a dulce de leche steamer.  Delish!!  (But, if you can find it jarred, you can save time skipping this step.)

It cooked for almost 3 hours and turned into a yummy caramel color and consistency.

dulce le leche

Meanwhile, I baked the bacon.  (Yes, baked…a secret I learned from my husband’s time in commercial kitchens.  It’s less messy and so much easier than frying up in a pan!)

greasy bacon

The sliced almonds were also roasted in the oven.  (You can buy them pre- roasted and salted and save a step here too.)

roasted almonds

After the bacon, dulce de leche and almonds were done, I put them in the fridge overnight.

The next morning I brewed an Americano and got busy finishing these babies!

After setting the oven to 350 F, I put the butter into the pan to melt and brown.  Browned butter is called beurre noisette.  It’s a french technique that adds a delicious nutty flavor to the butter.  I will say, it pays to buy good butter for this step!  Once the butter is brown, you have to freeze it.  This takes about 15 minutes.  I froze it in my Kitchen Aid mixer bowl.

After it’s frozen, add the sugar, vanilla seeds, (you can substitute a tsp. of vanilla for the beans) egg yolk and mix.


Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl a couple of times to get all the butter.  Mix until moist crumbs form.


Then press the mixture into a pre-prepared pan.  (Just so you know, I doubled this recipe, that’s why my pan is so large.)  Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes until set and golden brown.

cookie bar

While the crust is baking, mix the crumbled bacon, chocolate chips, coconut and roasted almonds in a bowl.

bacon and nuts
coconut, chocolate, nut, bacon mix

Set aside.  Then pour the dulce de leche in with the sweetened condensed milk and mix.

Dulce le leche

After the crust is done, pour 2/3 of the dulce de leche mix onto the crust, then sprinkle the bacon mix right onto the dulce de leche and press it gently into the caramel.

Bacon, chocolate, coconut magic bars

Then pour the rest of the dulce de leche onto the mix.

Bacon, chocolate, coconut magic bars

Bake these bars for 35-40 minutes.

Bacon, chocolate, coconut magic bars

Just for a little extra something special, I sprinkled a little bit of flake salt over the top!

Bacon, chocolate, coconut magic bars
Bacon, chocolate, coconut magic bars

After these cookies cool,  cut them into squares or triangles.

Dulce de Leche Recipe borrowed from Alton Brown

  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

Dulce de Leche, Bacon, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Magic Bars borrowed from Grace Parisi compliments of Food and Wine

  1. 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  4. 1 large egg yolk
  5. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. 4 ounces bacon, finely diced
  8. 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (6 1/2 ounces)
  9. 12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  10. 1/2 cup salted roasted almonds, chopped
  11. One 16-ounce jar dulce de leche
  12. One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper, leaving up to 1 inch of overhang. Spray the paper with vegetable oil spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan, cook the butter over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and browned, about 4 minutes. Scrape the butter into a large bowl and freeze just until solid, about 15 minutes.
  3. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the sugar, vanilla seeds and egg yolk into the butter at medium speed until blended. Add the flour and salt and beat until moistened crumbs form. Press the crumbs into the prepared baking pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until the crust is set and lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, wipe out the bowl used to make the crust. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and let cool. In the bowl, toss the coconut with the chocolate chips, almonds and bacon.
  5. In another bowl, whisk the dulce de leche with the condensed milk; pour two-thirds of it in the crust. Lightly press the coconut-bacon mixture over the dulce de leche. Drizzle the remaining dulce de leche mixture on top.
  6. Bake the bars for 35 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the bars cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Carefully remove the bars from the pan and peel off the paper. Cut into bars and serve.

Make Ahead

The bars can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Bacon on Apple Pie? Maple Bacon Donuts? Yum!

27 Aug

Tasty Trials: Not your grandma’s apple pie
I’m not entirely sure either of my grandmothers even made apple pie. My mom tells me that she remembers her mother making the occasional apple pie for my grandfather, and if it was for him, that explains why I never saw any. He was known for hiding his pies from people. Not even his adorable granddaughter (that would be me!) could finagle a piece out of him.

So, although I don’t know what my grandma’s pie actually tasted like, here is how I imagine it:

It would be the quintessential apple pie made with the utmost grandmotherly love. We would have made it together when I was staying for a sleepover, after playing countless games of Cootie and Old Maid, eating cheese puffs, and going to the book store for a special treat in her red hatchback Pinto. She would be wearing her pink, purple and white skirt that I loved so much and wished I could wear. She would never get exasperated or impatient with me when I did something wrong, and would always let me lick the spoon. We might have some fun trying on her wigs or smelling her vast collection of Avon perfumes while waiting for the pie to bake. I would be pleased knowing that later that night I got to sleep in her bed (with Granddad relegated to the couch…maybe he should have shared his pie!), where I would always, and I mean always, wake up with my feet where my head should be. And when the timer went off, and she took the pie out of the oven, the smell would forever remind me of her. (That and the smell of Avon perfume that was slightly past its prime.) The pie would be mounded high with cinnamon-sugar apples, and topped with a gorgeous lattice pastry crust. It would be my inspiration for apple pie when I got older. Until…

I decided that apple pie is WAY better with bacon!

With no offense to my grandma’s imaginary apple pie, I present to you my Bacon Makes Everything Better Apple Pie, created as my entry for a chance to win the Baconalia challenge, a recipe contest by Foodbuzz and Denny’s.

Recipe and more after the jump…

Bacon Makes Everything Better Apple Pie

Makes 2 mini pies

8 slices bacon (applewood smoked, center cut, thick sliced), divided use
1 sheet refrigerated pie crust
2-3 small granny smith apples (2 cups yield)
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided use
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons flour (plus more for rolling dough)

To make the lattice tops, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 4 pieces of bacon in half crosswise, then again lengthwise (to create long strips). Each lattice will use 8 strips – 4 horizontal and 4 vertical. Weave them together to create a basket-weave pattern. Place lattices on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, top with another piece of foil, and finally another baking sheet to weigh down the bacon. Bake for about 17 minutes, until bacon is brown and slightly crisp. Drain on paper towels and reserve.

With remaining 4 slices of bacon, chop in a small dice and fry in a large pan. Cook until bacon is very crispy, then drain on paper towels and let cool. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in pan.

Once the bacon bits are cool, place 2 tablespoons in a grinder (I use a coffee grinder designated for spices) and run until the bacon is ground to a fine dust. Reserve remaining bacon.

For the pie shells, turn oven down to 350 degrees. Sprinkle flour on counter and roll out pie dough slightly to about 12 inches across. Cut out circles larger than the tart pans. Sprinkle bacon dust over each crust and press in lightly with rolling pin. Fit dough into tart pans, tucking excess dough underneath to create a thicker edge. Press buttered foil into shells and fill with beans or weights. Blind bake shells for 20 minutes. Reserve.

When ready to fill pies, peel and quarter the apples. Cut each quarter very thinly (about 8 slices each), then cut in half crosswise. In the same pan you cooked the bacon, heat the 2 tablespoons of bacon grease. Add apples and remaining bacon bits. Sauté until softening, then add sugar, syrup and cinnamon. Cook for another minute until mixture becomes like caramel. Remove from heat and stir in flour.

Brush the pie shells with 1/2 tablespoon of syrup each, coating sides and bottom. Fill the shells with the apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. While the pies are baking, coat both sides of each bacon lattice with remaining maple syrup. After 12 minutes, place a lattice over each pie and return to oven. Bake for about 13 more minutes, until bacon is slightly crisp.

Cool slightly before cutting.

Cue the angels singing and the light shining down from the heavens; I am officially in love. I’ve long considered myself a bacon lover, but this? Words escape me…this dessert left me speechless, stunned, in awe. Sweetness and saltiness mingle, then reveal hints of maple and cinnamon with bacon running through every bit of every bite. Bacon baked into the crust, bacon mixed into the filling, apples sautéed in bacon grease, maple-candied bacon on top {gasping for breath}…my head is spinning with all this bacon-y goodness. Think I’m exaggerating? Go ahead…make this for yourself and see. Soon you too will be singing the praises of this decidedly un-grandmotherly apple pie.

Vegetarian friends be warned…I’m thinking of implementing a new rule in the house: going forward, all desserts must contain bacon in some form. Sounds reasonable, right?

Tasty Trials: Not your grandma’s apple pie

Maple Bacon Donut from Swiss Bakery
Chocolate Chip, Pecan & Bacon Cookie from Save-On Meats
Bacon Chili Cupcake & Breakfast Cupcake (filled with bacon and egg custard) from ManCakes Bakery

Here is my recipe for a Maple Bourbon Apple Pie with a Bacon Pecan Crust. Bacon and apple? Not uncommon. Pecan and apples? Not uncommon. All together and topped with maple and spiked with Bourbon? Uncommon, and delicious! I’m so tempted to throw cheddar cheese into the crust so it’s even crispier, but I’ll start you off slow with my unconventional non-Stepford wife recipes!
My recipe for this was inspired by a Maple Bourbon Ice Cream Sandwich I ended up eating with bacon at an epic foodie BBQ this summer – see here. This is the pie version of it, made 2.0. It is a sweet, savoury and nutty dessert that’s perfect for summer BBQ’s… or breakfast. Bacon for breakfast and you get your serving of fruit too! I’m so efficient! I’d call it a great start to the day, and a “healthy balance”… okay well maybe it’s not doctor approved, but it’s Follow Me Foodie approved.
Note: The measurements are a bit rough, and you may have to taste along the way and adjust accordingly to your own preferences.

Maple Bourbon Apple Pie with a Bacon Pecan Crust Recipe

Serves 8.
¼ cup of crispy fresh bacon bits (cooled)
¼ cup of toasted unsalted pecans (cooled)
2 tsp sugar
1 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup chilled unsalted butter cut into cubes
4 tbsp ice water, or more until dough bind together
12-15 strips of uncooked bacon
1/4 cup crushed pecans lightly tossed in maple syrup
3-4 Medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla
5 tbsp Bourbon
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp unsalted butter cut into cubes
Maple syrup for brushing bacon strips
1. Coarsely grind together the crispy bacon and toasted pecans until a coarse crumble forms.
2. Combine flour, sugar, bacon and pecan mixture.
3. Using a food processor add the chilled butter to flour mixture and pulse until the butter is the size of peas and combined.
4. Add ice water a tbsp at a time until the dough forms into a ball. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap and chill for 2 hours or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 375°F.
6. Roll out dough and cover bottom of pie pan. Peirce dough with a fork about 10 times and bake in oven for 30-35 minutes of until fully cooked and browned.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Combine apples, sugar, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, Bourbon, cinnamon and butter in a large skillet and toss over medium high heat until liquid starts to bubble and apples get fork tender. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
3. Bring to a simmer and allow juices to reduce and thicken into a syrup. Transfer apples to separate bowl with 4-5 tbsp of syrup from the skillet.
4. Fill pre-baked pie crust with apple mixture and syrup.
5. Take uncooked bacon strips and create a lattice crust by alternating strips – see here if you need help.
6. Brush bacon strips with maple syrup and sprinkle maple syrup coated pecans on top of pie.
7. Bake the pie for 20 minutes or until bacon is crisp and fully cooked and pecans are caramelized.
8. Optional: Serve with maple Bourbon ice cream, or maple pecan/walnut ice cream and bacon bit sprinkles on top.
Maple Bourbon Apple Pie with a Bacon Pecan Crust Recipe! | Follow Me Foodie

Ice Box Dessert images to beat the heat, Enjoy!

27 Aug

This story was inspired by the following link http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/howtocook/dishes/iceboxdesserts

Mango-Grapefruit Palomas – Antojitos cookbook « Katie at the Kitchen Door

25 Aug

These mango-grapefruit palomas might be the best drink I’ve ever tasted. Which may not be that convincing, coming from someone who has just graduated from Franzia, Busch Light, and Pink Panty Punch, but my parents agreed that it was great, and they have considerably more experience. I couldn’t find the mezcal (a single-distilled tequila) that the recipe calls for, but regular tequila works just fine.

It’s simple enough to put together – frozen mango pureed with citrusy Italian soda, and mixed with Tequila and cilantro (optional) – and the end result is sublime: fizzy, refreshing, not too sweet, fruity, and, duh, there’s tequila in it.

Mango-Grapefruit Palomas
Adapted from Antojitos. Serves 4.
  • 2 c. frozen mango cubes
  • 1 1-liter bottle grapefruit or blood orange italian soda
  • 8 oz. tequila
  • 4 tsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • ice cubes
  • 1 lime
  • margarita salt, or 2 TBS kosher salt mixed with 1/2 tsp chile powder for chile salt!

Note: this is more of a flavor as you go sort of recipe, so the quantities used here are approximately what I used to get a drink with the flavor, consistency, and strength that I like. Feel free to adjust to your taste!

  1. In a blender, puree the mango cubes and 2 cups of the grapefruit soda until smooth. The consistency should be that of a thick applesauce. Add more soda as needed.
  2. Quarter the lime and rim the edge of each glass with its juice. Roll the glasses on a plate full of margarita salt or chile salt to coat the rim of each glass. To each glass, add 3 to 4 ice cubes, 2/3 c. mango puree, and 2 oz. (1/4 c.) tequila. Top off with grapefruit soda, and stir to mix. Add a tsp of fresh cilantro if desired. Serve cold and enjoy!

Cookbook of the Month: Antojitos « Katie at the Kitchen Door

Dining: Local Habit | On my must try list

19 Aug
While walking my dogs at Dusty Rhodes dog park in Ocean Beach, I met the chef’s wife of the restaurant Local Habit in Hillcrest. We both have new rescue dogs. The following day I noticed this new review in the SDUptown. After the post I included some links to past articles, yelp reviews etc. Comment back if you go or have been. Sounds yummy.

By David Nelson | SDUN Restaurant Critic

Anyone who remembers the California-style “fern bars” (airy places hung with masses of potted ferns and similar greenery) that were cornerstones of boomer social life in the 1970s may be too long in the tooth to make a habit of hanging at Hillcrest’s new Local Habit. But a few fern tendrils in its woodsy, high-ceilinged room, with its bare wooden tables and vast windows offering views of 5th Avenue, create the same cozy feeling as those now quaint venues, encouraging patrons to make a habit of visiting their “local,” as Brits frequently refer to pubs.

“The décor just came together; it kind of chose us,” says co-owner and manager Adam Hiner, who evidently shares a talent for scavenging with partner/chef Nicholas Brune and partner/occasional bartender Barry Braden. “We found all this reclaimed wood and figured out what to do with as we brought it in.”

If the décor to some degree designed itself, the menu and bar lists show a careful, deliberate approach to hospitality. Local Habit is in fact a successor to and continuation of the previous occupant, Pizza Fusion, which apparently needed a little more pizzazz—and more than high-quality pizzas—to make it. 
First at bat on the Local Habit menu: a list of imaginative, appealing pizzas built on guests’ choice of traditional Naples-style dough, or whole wheat or gluten-free crusts. “There must be a genuine sensitivity to gluten on the part of management, in fact, since almost every item bears the logo “gf” encased in a red circle.” Exceptions include a savory bread pudding enriched with Gouda cheese and roasted tomatoes and peppers, and a bread salad with grilled seasonal vegetables, arugula and tomato vinaigrette. If these items show an eye to pleasing vegetarians, they should, since Local Habit also offers substantial vegetarian plates, such as sandwich of grilled veggies, house aioli and mixed greens assembled on a whole wheat baguette that is, of course, gluten-free.

The counterpoints to Local Habit’s carefully composed but easy-going menu are highly selective lists of bottled craft beers, California wines, superb ciders and home-made sodas. The beers are choice and often seem on the pricey side, but most are bottled in quite large portions, of 22 ounces (for example Port Brewing Shark Attack and Eel River 2009 Climax Noel, both $10) or even, in the case of the $17-a-pop AleSmith Speedway Stout, 750 milliliters, which is one big brewski. Hiner notes that his restaurant is “the only craft beer place in Hillcrest,” and that customers who used to head to foamier neighborhoods now make Local Habit a regular port of call.

The wine list misses a baker’s dozen by two, but offers boutique choices such as Terra Savia Chardonnay and Keenan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($6 to $12 by the glass, $24 to $38 the bottle). Cider was a mainstay of American life until the Temperance movement commenced striking in the 1830s, when entire orchards of apple, pears and cherries were chopped down. Local Habit revives a fine old tradition by offering Julian Hard Apple Cider, and Fox Barrel pear and black currant ciders. Priced at $2.50, the rich-tasting root beer and ginger ale cost no more than do diet colas at dozens of nearby restaurants, while they clearly offer much more in the way of flavor. Unsurprisingly, servers pour water into canning jars from large beer “growler” flasks (growlers typically contain 64 ounces), which have become another local habit since Stone Brewing Co. introduced them several years ago.

A written-daily blackboard supplements the printed menu and offers some pretty zingy options, such as a pizza with anchovies, tomato, shaved onions and Spring Hill Cheese Co. Firehouse Jack that instantly won the vote of one guest who exclaimed, “I like little fishies on dough!” When the pie arrived, it was greeted by a robust appetite and disappeared with impressive speed. Another irresistible choice, which shared perfectly, was a salad of top-grade blue cheese, assorted greens and quite wonderful organic almonds from SMIT Orchards, an artisan grower in Northern California. It was, in fact, a terrific salad. Local Habit also uses stone fruit from the same excellent grower. 

Photography by Jarett Boskovich
The pizzas are said to be individually sized, but depending with what you preface the main course with (if anything), you might well share one with another guests. They are notably thin-crusted and, while “delicate” seems an unlikely concept at Local Habit, the pizzas fit this description. They’re delicious, too. Although one a purist insisted on a pie topped simply with Petaluma Jack cheese and house-made beef pepperoni (the flavor is different and rather assertive), he could have ordered imaginative choices decorated with house-smoked pork loin, shaved red onions and two cheeses, a Hawaiian-style combo of braised pork shoulder, pineapple, onion and cheese, or sunny side-up eggs, crisp bacon lardons and pesto made by hand in a mortar, just like they do in Genoa.

The creativity continues with sandwiches, notably rustic Italian bread stuffed with cured-on-premises pepper bacon, local farm tomatoes and frisee lettuce in cider vinaigrette, and such salads as grilled Romaine tossed with cucumber, tomato, pungent garlic croutons and a creamy buttermilk dressing. Optional side dishes include sauteed greens with julienned onions and garlic (certainly not fare you would have found at ’70s fern bars) and roasted Brussels sprouts with house-made mustard and chives (ditto). The cheese boards are deluxe, and definitely make fit companions for Local Habit’s carefully selected reds. When the server suggests dessert, just say “yes” and look forward to treats like the seasonal bread pudding, which may feature whiskey-marinated Santa Rosa plums and a sublime vanilla-whiskey sauce, and the remarkable fudge brownie with SMIT Farms pecans and raw coconut caramel. Topped with a chiffonade (a fine julienne) of basil, the gluten-free triumph comes close to fudge. A first bite caused one guest to say, “Oh, wow!”—and just might do the same to you.