Monthly Archives: July 2015

Patience a key ingredient for summer pie

I have a confession: I’m a mediocre pie maker. Despite being a pastry chef and having the honor of making Julia Child’s 90th-birthday cake, my pies are only so-so.
But pie is my favorite dessert, so I went searching for the best pie in the San Francisco area with the intention of getting the recipe and stepping up my game.
I’ve eaten a lot of pie in the past two months (tough job, right?) and have found only one baker who makes pies that satisfy my three criteria: ripe summer fruit, flaky bottom crust and chunky streusel topping.
This last requirement is because I like having a crunchy, cookielike crumble topping – so it’s like having two desserts in one.

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Calendar of events

International Wine & Spirits Guild Level 1 Wine Certification Seminar: At Solaro Estate Winery, 330 T. C. Jester; 6-10 p.m. Wednesday; $495; 303-296-3966.
“ABC” – Anything But Chardonnay! Expand your white wine knowledge: At Memorial Wine Cellar, 7951 Katy Freeway, Suite B; 4-5:30 p.m. Saturday; $45; 713-826-2967.
Wine, Cheese & Bats: At the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, 4501 Woodway; 7:30-10 p.m. Saturday; $30 members, $45 nonmembers; 713-681-8433.
Swine & Wine cooking competition: At Haak Vineyards & Winery, 6310 Avenue T, Santa Fe; 7-10 p.m. Sunday; $50; 409-925-1401.
“I’m NOT drinking merlot!” Expand your red wine knowledge: At Memorial Wine Cellar, 7951 Katy Freeway, Suite B; 4-5:30 p.m. Sunday; $45; 713-826-2967.

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All hail Caesar Popcorn from versatile chef

James Syhabout is swinging for the fences.
Most chefs would be content with one restaurant as successful as Syhabout’s first, Commis. Opened in 2009, it’s the only restaurant in Oakland, Calif., with a Michelin star, with a tasting-menu-only format showcasing his technical skill and deep understanding of flavor.
But Syhabout, who was born in a Thai refugee camp, raised in Oakland, trained at the California Culinary Academy and spent three years as chef de cuisine at David Kinch’s celebrated restaurant, Manresa, is not most chefs.
Lest you pigeonhole him as a fine-dining chef who has made a foray into the food of his youth, Syhabout also runs the Dock at Linden Street, which opened in conjunction with Linden Street Brewery.

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Restaurant and bar data reveals the most common beer in US states

The Lone Star State loves Bud Light. But Houstonians have better taste: the state’s own Shiner Bock appears on 45 percent of menus in the Bayou City, according to a data analysis by Priceonomics.

The data site looked at beer sales in the U.S. in several intriguing ways by examining data on a website called, where drinking establishments can post their menus. In the end, Priceonomics looked at more than 6,000 bars and more than 20,000 types of beer.

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Oh, how tomatoes grow on you

The bright acid of tomatoes and their often soft texture was utterly displeasing to my young taste buds.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a wide frying pan or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium high heat.

2½ pounds ripe tomatoes

1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Diced cucumber, diced red bell pepper, diced red onion, pitted olives, diced hard-boiled egg, chopped ham, croutons

Transfer the blended mixture to a large bowl or pitcher; season with salt to taste.

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, preferably a meaty variety such as romas or Early Girls

Set a metal cooling rack over a baking sheet.

For longer storage, transfer dried tomatoes to a jar, cover them with extra-virgin olive oil, screw on a lid and refrigerate.

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Gelato pops put gourmet tastes on a stick

[…] when I want something really special, something that satisfies both the kid in me that chased down the ice cream truck and also the pastry chef who prefers everything homemade, I think about gelato pops I can buy ready made or make myself.

At Sixth Course in San Francisco’s Mission District, owners Gianina Serrano and Bridget Labus are taking gourmet ice cream to an elevated level of sophistication with their hand-dipped mini gelato pops.

To make the pops, we’re adding two additional steps: putting the ice cream into ice pop molds to freeze and then dipping them in melted chocolate.

Heat the milk, cream and ¹/3 cup sugar in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally, until very hot but not boiling.

(Do not do this before heating the milk because the egg/sugar combination should not sit.) Slowly pour about half the hot cream mixture, ¼ cup at a time, into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until the yolks are warm.

Return the yolk mixture to the pot and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until slightly thickened, 185 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

When the chocolate mixture is cold, process it in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s specifications until thick, creamy and lighter in color.

When ready to dip the ice cream pops in chocolate, place the 16 ounces chocolate and the cocoa butter in a metal bowl.

Working with just a couple of pops at a time, unmold the pops by dunking the molds quickly into warm water to loosen and pinching the molds from the bottom while gently pulling on the stick (so they don’t break in the middle).

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