5 ways to use: coconut milk

Up until recently, I had zero use for coconut milk. I looked at the cans on grocery shelves and never gave it fighting chance.

And then I decided to make tacos, and the recipe called for almost a cup of it. And then I wondered what else I could do with the leftovers (not the tacos, those were eaten). I poured the remaining coconut milk into a deli container, and it sat in the refrigerator.

Somehow I found a variety of uses for it. And at less than $3 a can (or less than a dollar at some places), its hard not to give this ingredient a shot.
cold brew coffee: substitute regular milk with the coconut variety. I also use my French press to make cold brew at home (1/3 cup ground beans, 1 1/2 cups water, let sit for 12 hours, strain, and while drinking, wonder why you didn't try this before)
cornmeal pancakes: use in lieu of buttermilk - the pancakes (or even waffles) don't turn quite the same shade of golden brown, but taste just as good. I like to make a few extra 'cakes to reheat the next day for breakfast.
pork & black bean tacos: giving credit where credit is due, Food52 posted this twist on a favorite. I've also used ground beef and pinto beans. What to do with the remaining pineapple juice will be the topic for a future post.

breakfast quinoa: cook one part quinoa in one part water, one part coconut milk. Once fluffy and spooned into a bowl, pour over a little more coconut milk and top with some toasted almonds.

rice pudding: similar to the breakfast quinoa, use this as a substitute for the other liquids (heavy cream, whole milk, etc).

PS: what other ways to do you use coconut milk?
  

12.12.12

Some recent snaps of places visited and things eaten in San Francisco.

Of course, there are plenty of things not included. The totopos (chips covered in red chile sauce, cilantro, cheese, and white onion) from Nopalito. The Josey Baker toast of the day from the Mill. The olive bread from Tartine.

Or the sunets at Ocean Beach - there are too many of those. But then there are many scenes that a camera can't capture because the landscape has just too much fog or too much sunshine or just meant for remembering. #SoSF.

my neighborhood breakfast & lunch spot, Cassava, a husband & wife owned happy place in outer Richmond. Their once a week pop dinners are so popular they've been sold out for months.

an americano + donut from Four Barrel on Valencia in the Mission

yogurt + pear + granola at brunch at Nopa

tomato, mozzarella, basil pizza from Pizza del Popolo - a pizza truck on wheels with a wood oven

my first ramen - Hapa Ramen's fried chicken version - Ferry Building on Tuesdays

beverages at Chocolate Lab by Recchiuti:  lillet + soda water + orange and a hot chocolate - liquid dessert

a map of San Francisco inside Trouble Coffee

a PBR, a Polaroid land camera, and a smartphone: Sunday instant camera walking tour by Photobooth

a Dynamo Donut

Kickstarter ForageSF Dinner

Late last week, I attended one of the thank you dinners for folks who contributed money to ForageSF's Kickstarter campaign. All the funds raised will help build a cooking co-working space called Forage Kitchen. Food makers of all kinds will use the incubator space to launch businesses or can or jam whatever is in season, but cooking classes, events, and parties will also take place in the building. The brainchild behind this project is Iso Rabins, a guy who hopes the space will be a model for other cities to create.

Below is the menu of the evening's dinner - thanks to Meghan for making this happen!

Radishes with Nasturtium Butter and Hand Harvested Jacobsen's Sea Salt (not pictured)
Porcini Bisque with House-made Creme Fraiche

Crispy Fried Lake Smelt with Tempura Fried North Bay Seabeans

(served family style)
Wild House-Smoked Local Salmon with Dry Farm Potatoes and a Fresh Horseradish, Creme Fraiche and Dill Dressing
Little Gem Salad with Pickled Sea Beans and Champagne Vinaigrette
(served family style)
Caja China Roasted Turkey: Chanterelle and Lobster Mushroom Stuffing with Wild Boar Gravy and Quick Braised Greens

Eucalyptus and Wild Huckleberry Popsicle

City by the Bay Scenes

Day five of San Francisco living. The sun shines a different shade of blue. Not to wax rhapsodic or pile on the romanticism, but the air is a bit different out here. The biggest adjustment is the time difference. Three hours. Football is the first thing to air today. Not a terrible thing, its just not something I'm used to, especially when a beer used to be involved. Now its coffee or tea.

Blue Bottle coffee + saffron vanilla snickerdoodle at the Linden kiosk; 101 Cookbooks just posted the cookie recipe

Fort Mason/Off the Grid food truck park/Fleet Week Airshow - the outdoor volume will return to normal tomorrow.
@theMillSF coffee shop in progress - want to try their thick slices of toast
produce from the Grove + Divisadero Sunday farmers market - fresh figs were $5 a pound & flower bouquets $4 a bunch.

Nopalito's red chile chips + lime + crema (along with the rest of their menu) is crave worthy. And very welcoming and friendly service to boot. Its dangerous and delicious to be living around the corner.

jump & the net will appear

above: picture of a favorite Boston cafe, 3 little figs.

Today is my first full day in San Francisco. The weather is warm, the sky is blue, and there are new sights and smells.

Main to-do for the day was hitting the grocery store. With all of my kitchen tools/pantry items in storage in Boston, its tough to think about what I need, what I can live without, and what could work.

Here's what I bought at the Haight Street Market, a friendly local store that offers a membership. The exact rules seem to be in a grey area, but a discount is much appreciated.

above: tortillas, tortilla chips, yogurt, milk, avocado, cheddar cheese, oats, granola, arugula/spinach mix, eggs, iced coffee

When you moved to a new city, what did you buy on your first grocery store run?

Sonoma County Farms

Two weekends ago I visited some farms in Sonoma County. Its rare to find farms in this area as most of the land is used to grow grapes. 

The Oak Hill Farm sits on 700 acres of land on the side of a mountain in Glen Ellen, CA. The farm grows fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Privately owned since the 1950's, Anne Teller (owner) chose to keep the farmland free of chemicals and other pesticides.

The 100 year old barn houses a store, open to the public to buy seasonal produce, flowers, and handmade wreaths. Oak Hill sells to restaurants, grocery stores, and at local farmer's markets.

In contrast to Oak Hill, the Bi-Rite Farm is a smaller working farm in the Carneros Valley. Across the street from gorgeous vineyards, the farm is home to several pigs, a greenhouse, a small shed for storage, and two plots of land.

Specialty and hard to find varieties of fruits and vegetables are grown. Bi-Rite employees (and excited customers) are encouraged to harvest and help out lead farmer and produce buyer, Simon.  The crops that come from this farm are sold in the market.

As a side note, one the of best parts about this day was stumbling upon the Fremont Diner. Top notch comfort food in the middle of farms and vineyards. They also grow their ingredients out back. 

That mini chicken sandwich can't be beat. You know a place is a winner when the lady working the register says she comes to eat dinner on her days off.

Butternut Squash Pasta + Kale

Its been years since I have cooked a packaged pasta. Buitoni, the longstanding brand of pasta sauces, filled pastas, and noodles, recently announced two new pasta flavors. The nice folks (thanks Sarah!) at Buitoni's agency, Night Agency in NYC, contacted me about tasting these pastas and creating a new recipe or two.  Armed with coupons to try them out, I brought home packages of the Butternut Squash Agnolotti (half moon shapes filled with butternut squash puree, ricotta cheese, and amoretti cookie crumbs) and the Chicken Marsala Ravioli (chicken, roasted mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, and Marsala wine). Both of these pastas are part of Buitoni's all natural reserve product line.  

Preferring the Butternut Squash, I made a list of ingredients that plays well with the agnolotti filling. Nutmeg immediately jumped to the top of the page. Shallots and garlic are always reliable aromatics. Finally, kale emerged as the other star of the show. The green leafy vegetable often shows up butternut squash side dishes or savory pies. Plus, it seems to be everywhere this time of year and for a bargain.

What I didn't want to create was another sauce, especially one chock full of butter or cream. Not that those sauces don't taste good - they just didn't seem to fit with this pasta.    What I like about this recipe is the use of a delicious filled pasta (the filling really tastes like butternut squash) along with seasonal ingredients, not to mention local.  This means cutting out some kitchen time (rolling and stuffing pasta) yet still chopping, stirring, and toasting raw ingredients. Water boils while the kale wilts in the saute pan. Active cooking time means dinner gets eaten sooner. 

Kale is one of those superfoods that gets lots of name dropping for health benefits and nutritional impact. It is a frequent guest on farmers market tables in the summer as well as the winter. In other words, this pasta recipe fits the summer and the January dinner menus. There are many varieties of kale - use whatever you find at the market. Since they all look like mini shrubs, rip off the stems and tear the leaves. No need to bring out the knife this time.  Unlike the other green leafy vegetable, spinach, it won't disappear quite as quickly in the pan.  Another +1 for this recipe: it only took 30 minutes, from start to finish.    

*I was not compensated for these products or recipes - the Night Agency provided me with coupons to purchase the pastas free of charge*

Butternut Squash Pasta + Kale + Toasted Sunflower Seeds

yield: 3-4 servings

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups kale (any variety), stems removed and leaves torn into pieces
1 small shallot, thinly sliced, about 1 tablespoon
1 garlic clove, chopped, about 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup (4 ounces) chicken or vegetable stock
Fresh nutmeg
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon grated Pecorino cheese
1 package Buitoni Butternut Squash Agnolotti


Cook the Buitoni pasta according to the instructions on the package.

Heat the olive oil in a medium size skillet on medium high heat.  Add the kale and toss the leaves in the olive oil to coat.  Watch how the color changes to bright green.  When the kale starts to wilt a little, add the shallot and garlic. Turn the heat down a bit to avoid burning the shallot and garlic.

After about five minutes of cooking, add the chicken or vegetable stock. The stock will sizzle and start to form a sauce, of sorts. The kale will get more tender. 

Grate the nutmeg over the kale - 20 gratings should do the trick.  Use more or less depending on taste. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

When the pasta is ready, spoon the agnolotti into a bowl or plate. Add several spoonfuls of the kale on top of the pasta. Sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds and cheese.

San Francisco Sights

wine flight before redeye flight to Boston

I definitely left my stomach in San Francisco; everything from wine to pizza to salted caramel ice cream to crudo to a mortadella hot dog. And, there are many places I didn't get to on my list.

 salted caramel + strawberry balsamic: Bi-Rite Creamery in the Mission

menu + refreshing hibiscus drink: Nopalito

Omnivore Books: tiny shop full of cookbooks, old and new

Boccalone in the Ferry Building: Chris Constantino's shop devoted to tasty pig parts

Tasting menu + wine pairings: Commonwealth in the Mission

Pot and Pantry: store sells gently used high end kitchen gear and offers recreational food classes

Marin County/San Rafael Farmers Market: 3rd largest market in California

Cricket Creek Farm

In continuing the tour of Massachusetts farms, last Sunday I visited Cricket Creek Farm with my friend Elizabeth and her four legged companion, Jackson. Our friend, Jenni, is spending the rest of this year as a cheese-maker at CC, and we wanted to check out her new home. From Boston, the drive is all of three hours, but it's a scenic drive on Route 2. 

Located near Williamstown, Cricket Creek is a small, grass fed dairy with a herd of 40 Brown Swiss and Jersey cows.  Pigs, chickens, and guinea hens also roam the farm, and Cricket Creek is one of the few Massachusetts farms licensed to sell raw milk.  It is very delicious and unlike any milk found in the grocery store. Thick, smooth, and fresh. 

piglets hang out under the a-frame

afternoon nap from the sun


The farm includes a store stocked with bread, eggs, beef, pork, milk, and other condiments. Customers use the honor system when paying for their items.  A CSA (community support agriculture) program allows customers to receive weekly shares of meat, eggs, and dairy products. Boston cheese fans can purchase the award winning cheeses at Formaggio Kitchen. Central Bottle, and City Feed and Supply.  

a cat named creamy on watch in front of the store

Dim Sum Brunch with Herbivoracious

As a spring semester social media intern for the Harvard Common Press, I was paired with one of HCP's blogger authors, Michael Natkin. Last week, I along with a small group of Boston Brunchers had a chance to chat with Michael about his new book Herbivoracious and enjoy dim sum brunch at Moksa.  Boston was one of Michael's stops on the Herbivoracious book tour. A Seattle cook, writer, blogger, and now author, Michael wrote a globally inspired book of recipes full of unique flavors.  After spending several months "socializing" Michael's book, Herbivoracious, with vegetarian and food enthusiastic audiences, it was a treat to see the newly released book, especially seeing the color photos.  Michael shot all the photos in the book, all 80 of them. Herbivoracious contains vegetarian recipes with some conversions for gluten free or vegan options.  This conversation with Michael at Moksa, a two and a half month old restaurant in Central Square, Cambridge, proved to be a great setting to enjoy a Sunday dim sum brunch.
Moksa's dim sum brunch menu has a range of small plates and larger plates for sharing.  Chef Patricia Yeo (owner of Om Restaurant & Lounge) opened Moksa as Boston’s first Pan Asian Izakaya. Small plates are divided into Asian bbq meats, pan fried, steamed, and fried. Larger plates for sharing are noodles, rice, pancakes, and eggs. The dessert menu rotates on a daily basis. Moksa was very quiet during our Sunday brunch. The space has the feeling of a nightclub driven by a cocktail list.  Even though our group was the only party in the restaurant, our server explained every detail of the menu. We ordered a variety of vegetarian and meat dishes that the chef thought would be appropriate for the group.  Thanks to Moksa for the warm hospitality and the complimentary brunch. Special thanks to Adam Salamone and Bruce Shaw of Harvard Common Press for the fantastic internship experience.