Time to Make the Dumplings!

Welcome the Year of the Dog with a Chinese New Year tradition: home-made dumplings and pot stickers. (Recipe and shaping tips courtesy of Bay Area Three Points contributor Amy Yen.) The traditional filling can be adapted with ground chicken or turkey, and the mix of ingredients can be swapped with your own favorite seasonings. There…

Great Cake—Honest, Abe

Honestly, I don’t know how it happens, but wherever I go, I inevitably end up in conversation about food with a chef, baker or artisan food maker. How else to explain a cake recipe discussion at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.? Browsing in the gift shop after the museum tour (also always on the lookout…

The Velvet Truth

Enough already. The out-of-control cupcake craze of the past few years has peaked, leaving a trail of overwrought treats in its wake. Perhaps the most collateral damage has been done to the reputation of the Red Velvet Cake, touted by many bakeries as the ultimate variety, the cupcake supreme. But an office celebration a couple…

King Me

It’s Mardi Gras season! Sadly, I am in shivery Washington instead of rollicking my way through New Orleans. At least the oven works here, and I have colorful sugar in the cupboard. My solace for today: Cinnamon-laden, almond-glazed King Cake, warm and sweet and sober.

Chasen’s Chili and Champagne

Chasen’s Chili.  Once upon a time, Hollywood stars served it at Oscar parties and soirées. Legend has it that Elizabeth Taylor loved this chili so much she had orders of it flown to Rome while she was filming Cleopatra (and conducting a torrid affair with co-star Richard Burton). The list of ingredients is pretty simple in comparison…

Chestnut Flour Quick, Chestnut Flour Slow

With so many bakers exploring gluten-free options, here’s one to try: chestnut flour.  When this traditional Italian ingredient turned up in local markets recently (fall is the best season for the new crop of chestnut flour), it seemed an interesting alternative for cookies or pastries, like the crescents (a.k.a. Russian tea cookies, Mexican wedding cookies)…

Flipping the Bird

For some oddball reason, we managed to roast the Thanksgiving turkey upside down, without anyone even noticing until the master carver of the house, preparing to slice up the bird, asked why it was placed breast down on the presentation platter. We still can’t explain that one, but the surprise result was a turkey that yielded…

Ah, the Forbidden Fruit

Pomelos were prevalent in local markets during the winter. And so, after seeing them in Chinatown groceries over the years, and hearing that they were something like a less-acidic grapefruit, I finally got around to picking up a couple. Looking much like an overgrown grapefruit, the pomelo is indeed like a milder version of that…

Little Jewels

We were dubbed The Macaroon Gang by one of the husbands of our little group, incredulous as he was that his wife and her food-obsessed buddies would devote an entire day to tracking down macaroons on the Lower East Side. But by then we had our route plotted out, starting at the little shop that stocked barrels of fresh, moist, densely sweet coconut macaroons…

Spice Island

Fresh from a rare side sojourn to Zanzibar—pinch me, Zanzibar!—after a work trip to Tanzania, I can still almost feel the hot East African sun on my face and taste the delectable Swahili delicacies that I could not try fast enough when I was there. Oh, but for more hours in the day—or for the…

Chocolate Kissed by a Rose

The signboard outside a neighborhood sweets shop offered the enticing promise of rose-flavored hot chocolate. A promise that, as is so often is the case with rose-flavored/scented foods, did not quite stand up in the bargain. The Valrhona hot chocolate was indeed luscious and lovingly prepared, but a bit heavy-handed in the addition of rose flavoring….

Corn Bread vs. Cornbread

Over the years a vendor at the local farmer’s market has occasionally offered a corn bread. Not a cornbread, the often sweet quick bread, but a yeast bread with some cornmeal added to the dough that was baked into a round loaf. During the summer it made a marvelous BLT. But its appearance was sporadic,…