Affogato

AffogatoAffogato ‘bout it
Valentine ’s Day is a pretty low key affair in my house. Not that I wouldn’t be thrilled if my main squeeze bucked tradition and went all out. It would be great and I would be completely surprised but I have learned after almost 20 years together that the old adage about aging dogs and new tricks is true. To be fair, I am not looking for a grotesque “Hallmark Store just threw up” type of display. I don’t need five dozen roses. I’m always up for a nice dinner (but you have to fight the crowds). I’d be totally happy with a book and an hour or two of uninterrupted silence and solitude. Throw in a hot bath and I’ve hit Nirvana…

However, one dude in my house is putting in some work this Valentine’s Day. One of my 14-year-old sons was very adamant about getting his girlfriend (Did I really just type that? Girlfriend? Yikes!) a gift and I have to give him credit, he did it because he wanted to not because he was pressured. AND, he did it all on his own with no help from me except for the use of my Amazon Prime account. He’s planning to present his gift and spend the evening with her on Thursday which means he will be missing out on our Annual Valentine’s Day Ice Cream Sundae fest. I sense he isn’t all that broken up about it. Can’t imagine why…

I’ve decided I’m gonna change things up and get a little crazy this year. The others can do their mountain of ice cream with sprinkles and fudge and nuts and whipped cream. This year I’m going to make one of my all-time favorite desserts, Affogato. If you’ve never heard of it, Affogato is basically vanilla gelato with a shot of espresso poured over it. It’s absolutely simple and incredibly tasty. It’s even better if you use a vanilla chocolate chip gelato and then sprinkle more chocolate chips on top…yum! Of course, you can use whatever gelato you want—coconut would be really good. Or maybe something boozy. You can never go wrong with boozy…especially with a little of your favorite poured on top…Bailey’s anyone?

A quick search online can yield a number of yummy Affogato possibilities…

Affogato
Yields 4 servings Read more…

News From the Fancy Food Show

Winter Fancy Food Show 2019Foods of Fancy
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…

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad 

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad What’s New Honeydew?
If you find yourself in our produce department this week you might notice that the honeydew melons are on sale. I love melons of all kinds but there is something about a cold slice of mint green honeydew on a hot day that is incredibly refreshing. The thing is, I tend to stick with the usual when it comes to melons. I slice em and eat em. But there are so many things you can do with melons…

One of the things I admire about my sister is her knack for finding and making interesting recipes that I would most likely skip over because I think my kids wouldn’t eat it or I’m just not too sure it would taste good. She is fearless and she made one of these recipes for dinner when we were up at Tahoe last week.

When you are feeding ten people on a nightly basis, the urge to go with the basics for the side dishes can be strong. On this particular night, we were grilling chicken. There is very little that doesn’t go with chicken. So, the side dish possibilities were endless. In this case, my sister went with a melon salad, and it was a nice change from just a bunch of slices on a platter…per the norm. The addition of chilies for heat, some pistachios for crunch, and little cheese for creaminess made this way better than ordinary.

I was pleasantly surprised by this recipe. It is not one I would have normally chosen—which makes me wonder what other flavors I have missed out on because of hesitation. One thing I will say is that I think my sister used goat cheese because that was all we had on hand. Personally, I am not a huge fan of goat cheese or feta, which was listed as an alternative in the magazine. The original recipe calls for ricotta salata which would add a nice saltiness to the sweet of the melon. I also think a queso fresco or even a creamy burrata could work really well.

Cucumber and Honeydew Salad 
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Yields 4 servings 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…

Amy’s Kinda Almost River Rum Punch

Amy's Kinda Almost River Rum PunchRollin on the River
If you find yourself in the vicinity of the Truckee River this Friday at noon, I am sorry.

What you didn’t know (as you made your reservation to enjoy a relaxing rafting trip floating down the river) is that you would be joined by 50 plus softball players who are in town for a tournament. If you are lucky, they won’t be doing dugout cheers….

Growing up, I spent the majority of my summers at the lake. I rode my bike everywhere and lived in my bathing suit. At least once a summer, we would raft down the Truckee. I loved it. The water fights. The swimming holes and best of all, the ice cream at River Ranch when we were done. Somewhere along the line that changed.

The concept sounds great. Beautiful scenery. Lazy float down a river. Perfect way to spend a summer afternoon, right?

Sure, until the splashing and the boat tipping start. Add in the water cannons and you spend what is supposed to be a relaxing trip with your head on a swivel trying to outsmart teenaged future Navy Seals wondering where the next ambush is coming from. (I call them Seal Teen Six.) I guess I’m just getting old!

There is a nice reward at the end. Besides the aforementioned ice cream, you can find the biggest plate of nachos you’ve ever seen. And, perhaps the most necessary to your sanity, one of my favorite adult beverages, the River Rum Punch.

Fruit Juice and rum has never steered anyone wrong. And, an extra float of rum on top goes a long way to easing the stress of constantly looking over your shoulder.

I don’t know exactly what actually goes into the River Rum punch, but this is pretty close. Even if I had the recipe, there’s something about sitting and relaxing on the deck after your trip, watching people negotiate the final set of rapids that make it taste that much better….

Amy’s Kinda Almost River Rum Punch
Yields 1 cocktail Read more…