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February 28, 2013

Make Gnocchi

Homemade Gnocchi

Brr! It's a cold day here on the Central Coast and cold days always leave me craving something with potatoes.
*****
Behold--the humble potato. In spite of her cross-eyes, blemishes, dirty skin, and thick waistline, she is love by--dare I say?--everyone, from one end of the globe to the other and back around again. As Americans, in a single year, we EACH consume 140 pounds of potatoes, and as a nation, 4,000 million pounds of French fries. Some historians credit the potato with the expansion of Industrialism across Europe; it was the cause of a war, aptly named, The Potato War, where opposing forces, due to crop failures, literally raided their enemies and took their potatoes. And, due to a blight that caused the potatoes to rot from disease, it was the root (pardon the pun) in the decrease of over two million people from Ireland's population during the Great Potato Famine (1845-52), gone to either starvation, or off to America in search of work and well, potatoes.

February 26, 2013

Mo' Betta with Feta

Blood Oranges with Feta and Almonds
The other morning over breakfast, Mr. B and I were sharing the last Comice pear and as we marveled over its simple deliciousness, I casually remarked that we were at the end of pear season, to which, Mr. B replied, "It's true; there will be no more pears. We're on the verge of spring now."

I gasped. "No!" I wanted to cry out. I'm not ready for spring. Not yet. There are still too many winter dishes to cook, too many things to braise and roast. But, I knew it was true; I had tried to keep spring at bay, but everywhere, she was burgeoning at the seams. Just outside the dining room window, the Wisteria was set to bloom, while the Japanese plum trees, the pear trees and the peach trees weren't far behind. Already, the daffodils had popped up, their pretty yellow bonnets dancing in the breeze, and just yesterday, I had seen the first of the hyacinths and the tulips.

There was nothing to do; winter was coming to an end and the official start of spring was just weeks away. I couldn't stop Mother Nature.

Then I remembered the last of the blood oranges--from my own tree--that I had tucked away in the crisper and I decided to make one of my favorite winter salads to eat while I contemplated how the two of us, winter and I, would say our goodbyes.

A Very Good Chicken Salad

Spicy, Sweet and Delicious Chicken Salad
Growing up, I always associated chicken salad with ladies who took tea. My mother had a fondness for egg salad and tuna salad and when there was enough leftover ham, she would make a devilishly delicious spread, but she never made chicken salad. In 4th grade, I came across a cookbook that had a menu for a ladies' luncheon and there it was--chicken salad served with toast points.

I can recall reading over the recipe and thinking it exotic and foreign in the way that young children perceive anything different from what they know. As I read through the recipe, I gasped at the idea that along with the chicken there were grapes and apples and nuts mixed in; this was certainly unlike anything that I had ever eaten. And, while it was a stretch to imagine such a mix of ingredients, I couldn't even begin to imagine a world where ladies attended teas and luncheons and then proceeded to wile away the better part of an afternoon over gossip and cards.

When I first began making chicken salad, I followed whatever recipe I happened to come across, never varying a single ingredient, and while I made many very good chicken salads, nothing lived up to the one I had remembered reading about from long ago. I wanted to experience, in eating chicken salad, that same sense of astonishment and awe that had struck me as a young girl; I wanted to imagine, at least via the sense of taste, what it was like to be the sort of lady who attended a luncheon as if it were the most normal of activities.

Quite innocently, I came to realize that chicken salad is meant to be created and tailored to our individual senses; it is the culinary equivalent of a blank canvas. This recipe that I'm sharing here, is the result of many years of tinkering, of adding and subtracting. For me, it is the perfect chicken salad and when I eat it, I am transported back in time to that 4th grade girl who couldn't even imagine something so exotic. For me, this is the best chicken salad in the world; but, for you, it may only be a very good chicken salad.

February 25, 2013

"And the nacho goes to..."

Goat Cheese Nachos with Spicy Pintos
Ah, the Oscars with all the glamorous people and fancy trappings--jewels and sequined gowns, tuxedos--flawless bodies impeccably dressed and strutting about the red carpet. YAWN!

It's not that I don't like movies, but I prefer films from old Hollywood, when they were called pictures, instead of movies. I'm a sucker for anything from the 1930s--talk about some racy themes--and 1940s. I can easily watch all 238 minutes of Gone with the Wind without ever getting bored, and I've been known to hide the remote from Mr. B and play dumb whenever I come across an old Doris Day/Rock Hudson film. I like that women were called actresses and that if they were particularly beautiful and young, they were called starlets.

Admittedly, I do like going to the movies, but it's such an expensive outing and although Mr. B is the love of my life, BFF and soul mate, I really don't like having to share my Slurpee™ with him. Plus, last time we went to the movie theatre, it was $30 for two of us--that's a lot of money; $30 will buy a lot of meat, even a nice leg of lamb or a couple of thick steaks.

So, while I haven't seen even enough previews to make watching the Oscars worth my time, that doesn't mean I can't get behind some of the celebratory buzz in the air. Plus, without having to worry about fitting into my gown, or even brushing my hair,  there's no reason to shy away from the really good snacks, like these amazing goat cheese nachos with spicy pinto beans.

February 24, 2013

Crawfishing

Crawfish and Grits
Crawfishing is when you back-peddal your way out of something you don't want to do. Usually, as you're daintily trying to pick your way out of an obligation, someone will look you square in the eye and with the all the grace of a bull in a china shop, will say, "Quit your crawfishin'!"

This past weekend, we had a big crawfish boil over at a friend's house, all in celebration of her birthday. To get crawfish where we live, means that someone has to call the crawfish shop, buy the crawfish an airline ticket and then send someone off on a 6 hour round trip drive to pick them up.

It might sound crazy, but once you're eating hot boiled spicy crawfish and drinking a beer, it doesn't seem so far out and it certainly seems to be all the work and the effort.

I told Mr. B that this year I was planning on making his grandmother's recipe for crawfish bisque. And I was. But then, I reread the recipe and it was an awful lot of work. I would have had to make the crawfish stock, make the crawfish stuffing, stuff the crawfish heads and fry them, make a roux and make the bisque. It seemed like an awful big investment to be making mid-week, so I gracefully crawfished my way right on out of making bisque.

But that Mr. B, he's smart man and he could see right through me, so he cornered me on one side of the kitchen and said, "Stop your crawfishin', woman!" But, I was smart enough to turn the tables on him. You see, Mr. B loves crawfish so much that if he were going off to the electric chair, it would be his last and final meal. So, I distracted him and I said, "Crawfish!" really loud, and then, when he had that puzzled look on his face, I quickly said, "How about I make you some crawfish and grits for dinner."

He was so happy, I don't even think he'll remember all that talk about crawfish bisque. If I'm lucky, that is.

February 22, 2013

Such a Big Head

Sicilian Roasted Cauliflower with Raisins
Last Saturday morning, shortly after I woke up, I decided to start my weekend with a trip to the farmers market. It's always a hard decision for me to leave my warm house, but this is especially true when the neighboring rooftops are covered with frost and my windshield is encased in a thick enough layer of ice to require a scraping. Since I don't own an ice scraper and have to resort to using my Johnny Cash CD case, I don't take venturing out on early winter mornings lightly.

But, I love the farmers market. Particularly on bitter cold mornings when the crowds are thin and the produce limited and at times, a little beat up. I find myself genuinely moved to walk among the tables and to talk, intimately, with the farmers about their crops, to listen, patiently, to their challenges and to share with them how I plan on preparing whatever it is that I am purchasing. It strikes me how simple and beautiful it is that my dinner was grown by the hands from which I am making my purchase. I must also add--I am a sucker for the details--the beat up, mud-splattered trucks into which they load their baskets, their worn down gloves and well used hats, both of which keep them warm on these cold mornings and the hand-lettered signs constructed of cardboard and marker that dot the tables.

Mostly, I love how they recognize me and that my regular trips have resulted in a familiar sort of relationship and even though we haven't shared our names, we definitely share a few jokes. So that Saturday, when I wandered up to one of my favorite vendors, I spied a fantastically large and strikingly white head of cauliflower. It was massive--bigger than my head--and right then and there, I wanted it. Badly. The vendor had seen my fixed gaze and merrily called out, "You want the big head? I can tell you want the big head." The few people within earshot began to look around and soon enough, I became the focal point of the crowd.

I nodded and called back, "Of course I want the big head. Who wouldn't?" There were a few chuckles here and there and even a gasp. I heard one lady whisper loudly to her husband, "What can you do with that much cauliflower?" Most people probably wouldn't know what to do; but I did. I was going to make my version of the famous Sicilian dish of roasted cauliflower with raisins and capers and breadcrumbs. A perfect dish for a winter night.

February 21, 2013

You Saucy Thing!

Poached Eggs with Crabmeat and Myer Lemon Hollandaise
A few weeks ago, I received a very large bag of Dungeness crabmeat fresh from the Pacific Ocean. It had been given to Mr. B to pass on to me by a good friend--Mr. X--who regularly sails about the ocean in search of salty delights.

Now, mind you, Mr. X is exceedingly generous and I often receive gifts of tuna and salmon and halibut, sand dabs and rock fish, but you should know, I've never known anyone to give up crabmeat. Ever. That's just insane luck to receive such a thing. In fact, in my book, it's right up there with winning the lottery.

What to do with the crabmeat was another matter entirely. You wouldn't think that a normal person could get so worked up over the possibilities, but then again, I'm not normal. So I put the crabmeat in the freezer and then commenced to think things over. I spent nights tossing and turning, waking up in the middle of the night and lying awake whilst contemplating crab cakes and crab pastas. I thought about tucking the crabmeat into a sheet of puff pastry or under a blanket of cheese and breadcrumbs and I even thought about stuffing it into an artichoke and drizzling it with a good remoulade. But nothing seemed to move me.

And then, it dawned on me--toasted brioche, crabmeat gently warmed in browned butter, poached eggs and a rich hollandaise with Myer lemon. It was a perfect winter's night supper, and while it was far too rich and decadent to put in the weekly rotation, I couldn't help but hope that Mr. X would find himself in the midst of a bountiful crab season and that more bags would come my way.

February 20, 2013

Floating on a Cloud

French Meringues with Cara Cara Orange Curd
I have many guilty pleasures. Far too many to even begin counting, so I don't bother. Plus, it takes a strong woman to look hedonism squarely in the face and soldier on. Of course, this is one of the many characteristics about me that made Mr. B swoon and fall madly in love with me. That, and I should mention, when it comes to butter and sugar and other heavenly kitchen staples, I'm a bit of a sorceress and I have no shame in unleashing a bit of magic on my man.

After days of shamelessly spooning my luscious lemon curd straight from the jar, I happened to spy a rather large bag of Cara Cara oranges while out shopping. I'm sure I've previously mentioned this, but I adore Cara Cara oranges and these pretty little jewels, I figured would make a seductive orange curd--something I hadn't made before. So into the cart the oranges went and after a pass through the dairy section for a few pounds of butter and a dozen eggs, I was quickly back home where I went to work.

When I was a girl, my mother told me that double-yolk eggs were lucky and that if I got one, it meant good things would soon happen. So, it wasn't lost on me that just about every egg that I cracked turned out to be a double-yolker and while I'm not sure what the odds are of getting so many in a row, I do know that it was a most fortuitous event, for I had been a wee bit depressed to think, upon looking at an almost full bowl of egg whites, that my future would be filled with one egg white omelette after another.

But the double-yolks saved me, for somewhere in the midst of things, I thought about billowy, light-as-air clouds of meringue and how wonderfully my silky orange curd would play against the sugary crispness of a perfectly baked French meringue. And as they say, the rest is history.

February 19, 2013

Ah, My Little Croquette

Eggplant Croquettes
It goes against logic, but I wound up with a surplus of eggplant. In February. There were a number of things that I thought about making--eggplant involtini, baba ganoush, eggplant hummus,  eggplant panini--but they all seemed so ordinary and I was looking for something that would wow Mr. B, something a bit more memorable.

Perhaps it was the grey overcast sky and the drizzle, but I got to thinking about one summer when Mr. B and I were first married. We both had the fortune of being 'between jobs' when two other couples that we knew invited us along on a trip to Spain. First, we would stay in Madrid, and then we would travel on to Menorca, part of the archipelago off the coast of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea.

Since there really isn't a better time to travel than when you're free of occupational responsibilities, it didn't take long for us to book our tickets and pack our suitcases.

In Madrid, we had the pleasure of staying at the house of our friend's aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, there was little scintillating conversation. In fact, there was very little conversation at all. They spoke no English and my expertise in Spanish was all in translating texts into English. Very old archaic texts. So, we opted for the universal means of conversing with others when there is no shared language--hand gestures, facial expressions and lots and lots of smiling. The aunt had another way of communicating, one that transcends all obstacles--food. She made sure we were well fed, and both her and I realized that I had a particular and deep love for her croquettes--beautiful golden cakes of ham and Béchamel dredged in egg and bread crumbs and fried to perfection. When she realized just how much I loved these little treasures, she made them again and again, and I ate them. All of them, with unabashed gusto as she looked on, smiling all the while.

While my croquettes don't include the Béchamel, they are golden and crisp and ooze mozzarella. And Mr. B? Well, he found them irresistible and as he devoured them one by one, I looked on, smiling.


February 15, 2013

"Girl, Your Thighs Make Me Crazy!"

"Slap Ya Mama"™ Chicken Thighs
Mr. B is the kind of fella who always brings me home little souvenirs from his travels in the world. Not too long ago, it seemed Mr. B was always headed to the airport, off to some new place and while I enjoyed opening little jewel boxes and finding exotic opals and pearls, I really loved it when his suitcase revealed the more unique and eccentric gifts, especially when they happened to be food related.

Now that he doesn't travel as often, my souvenirs come less frequently, but that doesn't mean that they've diminished in thoughtfulness. Not too long ago, Mr. B had reason to travel to Texas and since Texas is in such close proximity to Louisiana, it's always a good place for him to stock up on some of the back-home groceries that we so dearly love. Sometimes, however, Mr. B will find something new, some little treasure that he just knows will tickle my fancy.

Imagine then, my giddiness and joy when he opened his suitcase, slipped his hand quickly into one of the many pockets and like a magician, pulled out a bright yellow can with the words, "Slap Ya Mama"™ prominently displayed across the label. Forgetting my manners and in the midst of a burst of laughter, I grabbed the can from his hands and greedily read the label and then popped it open for both a deep whiff and a generous taste.

It just about blew my head off. This stuff is spicy. It's fiery hot--definitely the stuff a heat junkie such as myself had previously only dreamt about. I couldn't wait to get this stuff on some chicken and give Mr. B some good home cooked lovin'. So, that night, for the first time, I made my now famous, life-changing "Slap Ya Mama"™ chicken thighs. And let me tell you, I'll never get tired of seeing Mr. B sit down to a plate of these, watch as his eyes well-up with tears, and listen as he whispers across the table, "Girl, Your thighs make me crazy!"

This recipe will change your life.

February 14, 2013

Love Toast

Strawberry Brulee Toast
Julia Child once famously said, "I have trouble with toast. Toast is very difficult. You have to watch it all the time or it burns up."

This was certainly true before very precise toasters came along, but truthfully, really good toast isn't the kind of toast that one produces via a toaster, even a very precise one. The kind of toast that I'm talking about, and that Julia Child was referring, is the kind of toast that can only be made under the broiler.

When I was a little girl, we lived for a time in Colorado. My mother rarely used her broiler, but every year, deep in the darkest days of winter when Christmas had long passed and the snow was dirty and icy and no good for building snowmen, she would surprise us with cinnamon toast. We'd wake to find a plate piled high with thick slabs of buttery toasted white bread topped with a dense layer of caramelized sugar and cinnamon that would crack between our teeth. And we, my brother and I, who fought endlessly every waking moment, would be rendered silent as we slipped into the reverie of our toast. Surprisingly, my mother, who must have realized the power of this toast, did not use it to regularly quiet us down.

Good toast is more than bread and butter. Good toast requires both time and patience, for it can't be hurried and it must be watched--very closely. But there is something about toast that is nourishing and satisfying and of course, comforting. So, for Valentine's Day, I made Mr. B a few pieces of this delectable strawberry brulee toast to enjoy along with his newspaper and coffee. It only took one bite for him to realize that this was something special, this toast was an act of love.

February 13, 2013

A Magic Elixir

Onion Soup
Every girl knows the power of the perfect  little black dress. With a few carefully chosen accessories it can be dressed up for an elegant black tie affair, or dressed down for a hip look and a evening at the local pizza joint. Widely known by the acronym, LBD, the little black dress is not only loved for its versatility, but also for its simplicity.

Well, this onion soup recipe is the culinary equivalent of the little black dress. It's simple and quick to make, easy on the pocket book and most likely, you already have all the ingredients on hand to whip it up.

I like to make it when I start to feel that the common cold is in quick pursuit. Peeling and slicing the onions is a good way to open up the sinus passages and the addition of both brandy and vermouth, with an ample dose of black pepper, go a long way in combatting a sore throat and giving you that warm, fuzzy feeling. Plus, it can easily be dressed up and topped with a slice of toasted French bread and gobs of melted Gruyere and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Whether served simply, or dressed for company, this soup is a winner.

February 12, 2013

Fat Chance

Aunt Judy's Mac and Cheese
Mr. B swept into the kitchen this morning, and as he was tying the sash of his robe, he sang out, "Happy Mardi Gras!" and then gave me a big kiss. It may just be another Tuesday in February for all of our neighbors, but in our world it's still a day of celebration.

Over coffee, we reminisced about all the good times back in New Orleans. Mardi Gras day was always my favorite day of the carnival season. I'd walk up and down St. Charles, past Lee Circle, through the CBD, across Canal and into the French Quarter where I'd catch the costume contest and people watch, then head back Uptown to catch the truck parade--by far, my favorite because I would catch sack loads of beads and party favors.

Surely, Mr. B and I didn't just reminisce about parades and costumes. We talked food: fried chicken and King Cake, jambalaya, sloppy roast beef po' boys and of course, Aunt Judy's baked macaroni and cheese. Then, just like every year, Mr. B put in his special request for a Fat Tuesday feast. This year, he asked me to make him fried pork chops and I didn't even have to ask him what he wanted with them, because I already knew. I was going to make a pan of Aunt Judy's baked mac and cheese, but like always, I'd have to make a few changes along the way.

February 11, 2013

Bang Bang Shrimp

Bang Bang Shrimp
We're extremists, Mr. B and I. Why should we have just one delicious Asian inspired meal during Chinese New Year? How could we possibly ever eat all the dumplings and noodles and stir fry we wanted in one sitting? While we do try, we are only human.

I came across the recipe for Bang Bang Shrimp when I was lazing on the sofa surfing the internet. My stomach was so full of dumplings that even the elastic band on my sweat pants felt like a tourniquet. Mr. B was slumped in the chair, his feet propped on the ottoman and a satiated smile upon his face. "What next?" he asked.

I wanted to have a go at Chinese pork buns or a fiery curry, but when I saw the picture of the Bang Bang Shrimp and read through the details, I was intrigued. "What about this?" I asked, as I lifted my laptop from my chest so he could see the picture. There was a long pause and finally, Mr. B said, "But it doesn't look Asian at all. In fact, it looks like something Al Copeland used to serve in his restaurant."

It was exactly what I was thinking. It had a definite New Orleans flair, but with a few shakes of fish sauce and some lime zest and a squeeze of Sriracha, I figured I could turn out a banging good dish.

February 08, 2013

Duck It!

Mr. B's Peking Style Duck
I always look forward to February, especially for Chinese New Year. When Mr. B and I lived in San Francisco, we'd walk down the street to the edge of Chinatown and watch the parade and for us, back then when we were so homesick for Mardi Gras and New Orleans, Chinese New Year festivities made us feel a lot better. Or maybe it was the dumplings.

Every year, we read up on the New Year--this year it's the Year of the Snake and since I'm a snake, I'm looking forward to what the year is going to bring. Last year was the Year of the Dragon. Mr. B is a Dragon, so it was only fitting that we celebrated the end of the old year with his Peking Duck recipe.

In Chinese tradition, the New Year is ushered in with feasts. The feasts usually involve pig or duck; money and well wishes are exchanged and the celebration ends with a big firecracker show.

This year, our celebration was ushered in with a feast of Peking Duck. True to Mr. B's fiery Dragon nature, he was determined to turn the oven up to 500º, which I quickly nixed. We settled on 450º. Ducks are greasy birds, even when correctly prepared, and this duck, well, let's just say he was a real fighter and by the time we got to the last 20 minutes of cooking time, we had dismantled every smoke detector in the house, had the doors and windows wide open and the box fans going at full speed. The fire extinguisher was close at hand and we were both afraid that unlike festive firecrackers, we were headed right for a grease fire.

But we made it through and the duck, well, it really was quite delicious. Want the recipe for the best Peking Duck?

February 07, 2013

A Salad for Lovers

Cara Cara Oranges and Avocados
Ladies, when it comes to love, you don't need the fancy lingerie, although it couldn't hurt to throw out those old, torn underwear that you've had for the last decade--or two. And gentlemen, forget the strong cologne that can make a girl's eyes water and her mascara run.

Love is all about the long haul. You know, hanging on through all the tough times, pushing each other, picking each other up, talking your way through to the morning when you're both awake at 2 a.m. and can't sleep because life is putting you to the test.

Love is about making it through all of that and still laughing and loving each other--no matter what shape your underwear are in.

Today, Mr. B's Mom and Pop have been married for 50 years. That's half a century. That's a long time. A really long time. What a cool accomplishment, but even cooler is that they love each other more today than ever. So, to those two little lovebirds, I've whipped up this special salad with an interesting little history thrown in.

February 06, 2013

Muscle Man

Steamed Mussels
Whenever I think of mussels, I always think of The Sopranos. Remember Tony's hot-headed driver, Perry? Tony called him Penne Arrabiata after the famously hot pasta dish. He was a muscle man with biceps that pushed his shirt seams to the limit, obviously not a bad trait when you're driving around a Mafia Boss.

Mussels also make me think of this great restaurant that Mr. B and I used to walk to when we lived in San Francisco. It was right down the street from us and was called Plouf.  The entire menu was made up of variations of steamed mussels. Oh, and they had fries, too, really wonderful fries.

But, that was a very long time ago and while Mr. B is the house fish cook, or as he likes to say in a very, very thick French accent, the poissonnier, and while I like to use my very, very thick accent to call Mr. B Muscle Man, I'm the one who cooks up the steamed mussels in our house.

Steamed mussels are an exceptionally quick and easy dish to throw together. With a side of fries (oven baked or french fried) and some crusty bread, mussels make a satisfying winter meal.

February 05, 2013

Secret Meetings and Brown Paper Bags

Marguez Sausage
A few weeks ago at the farmers market, I found myself hanging back in line, keeping a fair distance from the other shoppers. It was way too cold for a late winter Saturday morning in California and all I really wanted to do was have a quick, but private chat with the vendor and take myself home. Finally, the line died down and I seized the opportunity to corner Lamb Lady behind her table. "I don't see it on your board, but don't you have some Marguez for sale?" I asked, as calmly as possible.

She eyed me a bit suspiciously and after a long pause, repeated, "Do I have any Marguez for sale?" The wind kicked up a bit and my patience started to flag, but she was the only one, to my knowledge, who had Marguez, so I had to keep my cool; I nodded, and then she went into a long soliloquy that covered, in turn, raising lamb, a secret recipe, and an FDA crackdown. I nodded my sympathies and then, in a whispered voice, she confided that while she didn't have any with her that morning, she just so happened to have two half-pound packages back at her ranch and she could bring one the following week. It took a lot for me to convince her to agree to giving up both packs, but after a few more minutes she agreed. It would have to be a secret, though, and she wouldn't list them on her board. If I wanted Marguez, I needed to be there the following Saturday morning. Period.

February 04, 2013

Eat This. You'll Feel Better.

Muffuletta
It's the day after. Superbowl is over and no matter which team you were rooting for, chances are you're waking up this morning feeling a tad rough. Certainly, those 49er fans aren't feeling so well; no one likes being on the losing end. And Ravens fans, well, they're probably wondering what they'll ever do without Ray Lewis.  And Ray Lewis, he's probably wondering what he'll ever do without the Ravens. Some people may be suffering the effects of too much alcohol, or too many chips.

For the rest of us, there's that sick feeling of having to wait too many long, long months for football season to start. 214 days from now. Sigh.

But, for those lucky enough to be in New Orleans, this is the week before Mardi Gras and the parades are in full swing. There's still plenty of King Cake to eat and plenty of revelry to take part in, and there's  no excuse for not going to Central Grocery for a Muffuletta.

Because one thing is for sure: a Muffuletta can make everyone feel a lot better.

About anything.

February 02, 2013

Aw, Shucks

BBQ Oysters
Could there be a more perfect food than the briny oyster? I love them freshly shucked and eaten straight from their shells, plump and cool and salty. There are spots along the California coast where fishermen shuck them at the dock and sell them by the shell.

When Mr. B and I lived in New Orleans and worked in the restaurants and hotels, very late at night, we'd go Uptown to a place called Cooter Browns and eat dozens upon dozens of raw oysters. So many that I'd wake up in the middle of the night thirsty enough to drink great gulps of water straight from the faucet.

And of course, I love oysters with Mr. B's mignonette sauce, that luscious mix of shallots and ginger, cracked black pepper and vinegar.

This weekend, with Superbowl on the TV and a big slab of ribs on the grill, Mr. B is making me his famous BBQ Oysters--freshly shucked oysters grilled in their shells and dressed with a garlic, butter and parmesan sauce.

They make a tasty appetizer.

February 01, 2013

Get Your Game On!

Warm Fennel Dip with Sourdough Bread
Superbowl weekend is upon us, so it's time to fire up the grills, unlock the liquor cabinet and eat enough food in one afternoon to undo even the best of your New Year's resolutions.

Even if our beloved Saints aren't contenders, I'm glad the party is in our old hometown of New Orleans--it gives the rest of the world a chance to see what hospitality and good food is all about.

Today's recipe pays homage to my second favorite city--San Francisco. Mr. B and I lived just off Union Square and enjoyed a couple of good years running around the city and enjoying the good eats.

Here's a recipe that incorporates two of San Francisco's most notable ingredients--fennel, which grows wild just about everywhere in the Bay area, and good sourdough bread.