San Diego Livin’

San Diego Livin'Traveling the World…Series…Kinda
Ahhh, vacation. Nothing like getting away to unwind and relax, right? As you read this, I am enjoying all that is beautiful on the shores San Diego…sort of.

In actuality, I am probably sitting in a chair or in a bleacher seat with a cooler full of water watching my dudes play baseball in the World Series. This is what our family vacations have become. The funny part is that this is the second leg of our World Series tour. Our daughter had hers last week and I have to be honest, I prefer this week’s venue by the sea to the hot dusty fields of the Central Valley. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the kids play—and certainly playing at this level. But, you have to have a sense of humor about the fact that you’ve traded a vacation week on the sand in Cabo for vacation sitting in the stands on the diamond.

The upside is that we get to explore San Diego which is a place where I have not spent much time (outside of a few random food shows over the years). Needless to say, I have researched where we want to go, what we want to see and, most importantly, where we or should I say I want to eat. That is really the first thing I look for when heading to a new destination. Where do you find the good eats? Where do the locals go, etc.?

Of course, it goes without saying that I will be on the hunt for the best Mexican food I can find. And let’s not forget the seafood. We will be on the ocean after all.

I plan to squeeze as much fun and relaxation out of the time we have down there as I can because the minute we get back? School is back in session.

For those of you who are also squeezing as much out of the summer as you can, here is a list of San Diego inspired recipes to help you out. Read more…

Piri-Piri Chicken

Piri-Piri ChickenHot Chicken
Now that the weather has turned nice, I have been doing a lot of grilling. I mean I don’t think I have turned my oven on in at least two weeks. Well, at least not for dinner…

I have grilled ribs and burgers. I grilled some salmon a couple of different ways. And, of course, a whole lotta chicken. Chicken is the easy choice when your question to those who live under your roof about what sounds good for dinner gets no response. Just the sound of crickets. This happens nine times out of ten (which means we have what I want for dinner nine times out of ten). And, if they don’t like it, too bad. Ya should have spoken up when you had the chance!

I will say that their non-response gives me leeway to experiment a little. This can be a good thing when I am feeling like I am in a cuisine rut. It is how I found my latest obsession, Piri-Piri Chicken.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Piri-Piri Chicken hails from North Africa and is actually the invention of the Portuguese settlers who lived there. The piri-piri sauce is basically a hot sauce made from African Bird’s Eye Chiles. And it’s spicy y’all. You can buy it at specialty markets or online where there are a number of possibilities to choose from. You can also make your own but the challenge is finding the chiles. Bird’s eye chilies are hard to find fresh in the US. You can substitute other red chilies like Thai chiles, Fresno, New Mexico, or pequin—and they can also be difficult to find in markets. I’ve been asking our produce buyer to bring in Fresno chilies forever and he does, whenever he can find them, but it is sporadic at best. Now that we are heading into warmer weather we should see more in the markets so cross your fingers.

When I made my Piri-Piri Chicken, I made my own sauce but had to substitute with serrano chilies (since that was all I could find). While it tasted really good, it didn’t have that punch of heat I was looking for so I am going to try again. but this time I am going to do it with the Nando’s Peri Peri sauce that we carry in front of our meat counter.

Fair warning, you have to let the chicken marinate for a while so this is probably best done on a weekend. And, since the weather is going to stay beautiful, I would say you have your Saturday evening meal planned…

Piri-Piri Chicken 
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Coffee BBQ Rub

Coffee BBQ RubCoffee Que-in’
When we “sprang forward” a week or so ago I celebrated by cleaning my grill because nothing says bring on the sunny weather like a nicely grilled steak. It is hard to nicely grill a steak though when your grill is full of gunk. So I got to scrubbing and I replaced a few burned out shields and I was ready to rock and roll.

Spring tends to be the busiest time of the year for my household so having the ability to throw something on the grill for a legit but wicked fast dinner is essential. So far I have thrown salmon, chicken and pork chops on the grill and life has been less stressful and more tasty. It has also been more tiring if only because we “lost an hour”. Seriously, I still feel like I haven’t caught up yet. I have been drinking more of my daily allotted coffee just to get through. So in a fit of genius one afternoon when I was trying to decide what to have for dinner, I remembered a dry rub with the very two things that are making my world work right now: grilled meat and coffee.

If I had to pick a cut of steak that was my go-to for grilling, especially mid-week, it would be a hanger steak. Relatively inexpensive, a hanger steak has a nice beefy flavor that is not too dry and it cooks quickly. The big beef flavor means it can stand up to some potent dry rubs including one of my favorites that uses coffee. (See what I did there?) Coffee is not a new ingredient in BBQ. Pitmasters have been using it in the rubs or mops for a long time but it’s still not something you see all that often.

This rub recipe is adapted from the Lee Brothers who authored one of my favorite southern cooking books I added some garlic powder to the mix ‘cause it’s how I roll but feel free to leave it out. You could also play with the chili powder a bit and add some cayenne for heat or chipotle for the smokey flavor. Rub it on your cut of choice and leave it for an hour or so before grilling or even overnight in the fridge. This rub also can be used as a condiment on the side after cooking.

Coffee BBQ Rub Recipe
Yields about 1 cup

Read more…

Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Lemongrass Marinade

Winter Fancy Food Show 2019News from the SF Fancy Food Show
The Fancy Food Show was held this week at the newly renovated Moscone Center. And, I can honestly say it was the most fun I’ve had at the show in a number of years. It was considerably larger with more vendors than had been there previously (which is not surprising). You can always tell how well the economy is doing by the number of vendors packing the pavilions. I can’t really say that there was one obvious overall theme to what I saw at the show, what I can say is that this was a year of innovation and exploration.

In shows past, certain categories have dominated the landscape. Last year you couldn’t take a step without running into vendors with jerky or meat sticks. It was jerky here, jerky there, jerky everywhere. Before the jerky, we navigated the very crowded category of coconut water and vitamin water craze. And don’t get me started on the chocolate years…Yes, there really is such a thing as too much chocolate. This year there was no dominant item. Variety was everywhere. If I had to sum it up in three words they would be: Innovative, multi-cultural, and female.

I chose Innovative because there were plenty of vendors who took a good product and made it better. For example, there was one company that proved that peanut butter is not just for the lunch box crowd. Their Spicy Thai Peanut butter was fantastic and would be great thinned out and used with chicken or directly into a salad dressing. Another company was not happy to simply produce great honey. Instead, they decided to combine the health benefits of honey with other ingredients like turmeric, black garlic, and calendula for great tasting honey that not only improves your health but ups your cheese plate game. Finally, there’s the beverage from Japan that looks like beer and tastes like beer but has no calories, sugars, carbs etc. It’s basically water and it’s all natural—blew my mind.

Last year the influence of Korean cooking was everywhere. This year the flavor doors to the rest of Asia have been thrown open. We tasted a fresh lemongrass paste made by a local vendor that was heaven. (Look for that on our shelves soon.)

One of the items in the “New and Exciting” section was a puffed water lily seed snack that you would swear was popcorn—but with more protein, less fat and fewer calories. Copper Cow Coffee offers coffee addicts the intense coffee flavor and sweet indulgence of organic sustainable grown Vietnamese coffee but in a portable single-serve pour-over set. And they are women-owned…

This brings me to my last word: female. There were a lot more booths promoting the products produced by women-owned businesses. Now, it may have seemed like more because those businesses were making it a point to let people know that they were owned by women. And, that’s fine by me. The fact that being a women-owned business is being presented as a positive thing is what makes it great. One such business is Muddle & Wilde which produces elegant citrus-based drink mixers that can be combined with your favorite liquor or added to sparkling water for a refreshing soda. They are fantastic!

As I sit here pouring over the stack of sales sheets and informational brochures that I collected, I feel energized and excited about what’s to come in the food industry this year. We’ll try to keep you up to date when something we loved from the show arrives. Until then, I have this recipe on my mind as I think about that lemongrass paste….

Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Lemongrass Marinade
Adapted from Charles Phan’s Vietnamese Home Cooking
Read more…

Spicy Turkey Burgers

Spicy Turkey BurgerBird on a Bun
My family has a group chat so that we can check in during the day to discuss such important matters as When was the last time you showered?, Did you put the dishes in the dishwasher? and We’re out of cereal. My personal favorite is the afternoon ritual of What does everyone want for dinner? If I am lucky, I will get an actual text response, usually from my husband because, like the old people that we are, we text in complete sentences. My kids like to respond with emojis and more often than not, the response is the cheeseburger emoji.

I am an unapologetic burger lover and I have passed this love of meat and cheese on to my children. My husband also loves the sacred burger but, because he is a better person and more concerned about such things, he will oftentimes opt for a turkey burger to give his arteries a break. While I applaud his efforts, I have found it difficult to emulate them because I had yet to find a turkey burger that is worth it. They tend to be flavorless and dry. Sometimes I do come across a recipe that I have to try.

This recent find is what’s for dinner tonight since it is hot as Hades and there ain’t no way I am turning anything in the kitchen on when it is 95 degrees out. Plus, the kids have practice and burgers be fast and easy. Slice up a watermelon and you have a quick cool tasty hot summer dinner…

Spicy Turkey Burgers
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 4 Burgers

I recommend first cooking up a small test burger to check that the degree of spiciness and seasoning is to taste. That way, if you are not too keen on spice, you can add the chili paste gradually.  Read more…