Saturday, April 4, 2015

Swapper Profile: Diana Dinh + Quince Tarte Tatin Recipe

Home (+ hometown swap): San Francisco, CA

Profession: Connecting people and processes within the tech start-up world.

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago?
I can't even remember how I initially found out about the SF Food Swap, but seeing that I obsessively trawl the internet for food-related things, it was only a matter of time before I got reeled in. My first swap was in 2012. I made balsamic roasted strawberries and baked biscuits for samples. I remember being so awed by the thoughtful creations: vanilla kumquat compote, candy cap mushroom cookies, sugar-frosted flowers...

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?
I made two things: a savory eggplant spread and miso caramel. I've had a long-time love affair with eggplant and had recently made baba ghanoush without tahini simply because I hadn't any handy. To make up for it, I amped up the paprika. The result was so delicious that I wanted to make more of it and share. As for the miso caramel, I'm a baker at heart, so my mind tends to sway towards the sweet for food swaps. However, I wanted to make something slightly off the beaten trail, and miso pairs so well with the savory smokiness of a dark caramel. 

Savory eggplant at the March 2015 swap
What’s your favorite thing about swapping?
I really love the creative inspiration I get from going to a food swap. It's a great opportunity to use ingredients (cara cara orange mostarda, chocolate adobo...) that I wouldn't have made myself. 

Who or what most influences your cooking?
I read about food voraciously, devouring cookbooks, food history books, food politics books. But I think my cooking has been most strongly shaped by three people: my mother; my butchery/charcuterie guru, Kate; and my friend and food soul mate, Jon. Growing up, I was my mother's unknowing sous chef, washing and prepping all manner of Asian greens and cleaning cuts of meat as she turned out amazing Vietnamese dishes. I spent a month learning to butcher and make charcuterie with Kate in Gascony. In addition to getting me technically attuned to pig anatomy and my boning knife, she's taught me volumes about what it means to cook good food. Lastly, it was Jon who pulled me into the culinary milieux of San Francisco, convincing me at the tender age of twenty-one that I must invest in a KitchenAid stand mixer and food processor (of course, he was right). 

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries with Baked Biscuits
What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
My stand mixer should be a given, seeing that I bake as much as I do. I also love my chef's knife (a Global) and bench scraper (it makes even the untidiest surfaces tidy!).  

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession?
After years of riding the Californian-Italian-New American high, I'm finding my passion newly renewed in South East Asian flavors. The brightness, the pungency one finds in food from that corner of the world is unlike any other flavor profile. 

Biggest food surprise?
Spanish tapas. Without a firm foothold in the US and with an unfortunate run of uninformed eating choices as a college student in Barcelona, tapas fell vertiginously low in my eyes. In my then-quite limited experience, tapas were overly heavy: a mess of potatoes, cheese, and grease. They remained decried for nearly a decade, until I returned to Barcelona with a tapas treasure map drawn out by Jon. The ah-ha moment was reached, and not long after cemented in the celebrated pintxos bars of San Sebastian. I was so incredibly wrong about tapas. 

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?
I would begin with a Lebanese mezze spread: hummus topped with lamb and pine nuts, roasted eggplants in warmed yogurt, muhammara, kibbeh, and pomegranate roasted starlings. I would want this with nargile. Then, I would move on to a main course of Vietnamese caramel-braised pork shoulder on the tenderest white rice, with a bowl of simple greens soup on the side. For dessert, I would have quince tarte tatin with a scoop of the velvetiest vanilla ice-cream. There would be a loaf of challah throughout the whole meal.  

When I'm not in the kitchen I'm _________.
Reading at Thoroughbread and Pastry or The Mill, hiking at Mt. Tam, or perhaps biking to Ocean Beach with my husband. 

Favorite local food experience:
Two things make me indescribably happy about living and eating in San Francisco: ice-cream from Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous and the Noe Street evening farmer's market. 

Recipe by Diana: 

Quince Tarte Tatin

For the crust:

·         236 grams flour
·         3/4 T. sugar
·         3/4 t. salt
·         168 grams butter (also, 3/4 c.)
·         Ice water

1.       In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt and pulse to mix evenly
2.       Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add to flour mixture. Pulse until coarse, pebbly texture is achieved (~5-7 times)
3.       Add 3 tablespoons ice water to flour butter mixture and pulse (~10 times). Add additional ice water tablespoon by tablespoon, pulsing a few times between each addition. The dough should just come together; be careful not to add too much water or else the texture of the crust will be gluey and sticky rather than flaky and delicious. 
4.       Dump dough out onto sheet of plastic wrap, molding into an inch thick disc. Try to handle the dough as little as possible; you want to keep it nice and cold for texture. 
5.       Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes

For the tart:

·         6 medium-sized apples (I like Granny Smiths or Pink Lady’s)
·         1 1/2 sticks butter
·         1 1/2 cups sugar

·         Preheat your oven to 375F
·         Peel, core, and quarter your apples and set aside
·         In a cast-iron or other heat-proof skillet (mine is 12 inches wide), melt butter over medium-low heat
·         Take off heat and add sugar, stirring (a wooden spoon is good here) to incorporate
·         Bring the skillet back over medium heat, letting the sugar and butter melt together into a light golden brown caramel. Timing is everything here; watch for the color to turn. Wait a minute too long and you will have burnt caramel. This should take about 7-10 minutes 
·         Add the apple quarters core side up, packing the skillet as densely as you can. I like to make two concentric circles
·         Let the apples and caramel meld together, about 5-7 minutes. You should notice a slight shrinking of the apples. Now would be a good time to add any extra slices if you find yourself with more room in the skillet
·         While the apples and caramel marry, take out your pie dough and roll it out to the size of your skillet. You want it to be somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick
·         Carefully drape the pie dough over the apples, using a fork to seal any gaps between the dough and the edge of the skillet
·         Place the skillet in the center rack of the oven and bake until the crust is a lovely golden color, about 25-30 minutes
·         Immediately flip the tart out onto a dish or another appropriate serving platter, taking extra care with the hot skillet and caramel 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

May swap recap

Even though we've been hosting food swaps in San Francisco for over 3 years now (!), I'm always surprised and impressed by the creativity of my fellow swappers. And, I'm always interested to see what "themes" naturally emerge from a diverse and essentially disparate crowd. The theme of the May swap was definitely 'booze-related'. From handcrafted bitters and infused vodka, to nocino and jun and liqueurs, we enjoyed some tasty libations.

Ginger Liqueur by Andrea

Jun by Adal

Nocino by Bowen

Fruit infused vodkas by Stephanie

Bitters by Hiya

Gold Rush cocktail for the potluck

Vodka sodas for the potluck

Bitter flights at the "bar"

But there were many non-alcoholic things of delight too. Although I am noticing that I definitely did not photograph them all this time... I expect I was spending too much time at the bar "sampling". But truly, my iPhone camera is on the fritz and disappears photos lately. (Blame my love of pudding--my phone hasn't been the same since I dropped it in boiling hot milk.)

Breads and cookies by Ann

Patricia arriving laden with fragrant herbs

Meyer lemons from Patricia's garden

Rhubarb syrup, compote and apricot jam by me

Chimichurri by Christina

Sorrel and lemon verbena pesto by Chistina

Kombucha by Adal

Lavender focaccia for the potluck

Red wine reduction sauces and Thai spiced marshmallows by Sarah

Herb bunches by Sophie

Fruity ice cream sauce by Angela

Tea-flavored marshmallows by J.K.

And lastly, Jonathan gets a special shout-out for typing up bitters labels on-the-spot with this awesome stylishly portable typewriter.

Has this sampling made you hunger for food swap participation? Our next one will be on Sunday, July 20th. Save the date.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Swapper profile: Andrea Bornschlegel + Arugula-Kumquat Salad with Roasted Salmon and Horseradish Sauce Recipe

I am so pleased to introduce Andrea Bornschlegel in this post, our first swapper profile in too long. I first met Andrea at our very first swap (3 years ago, what?!?), where she wowed us with the delicious flavor combos of her liqueurs such as Spiced Orange, Basil Ginger, and Vanilla Limoncello. She reduxed her liqueurs at a more recent swap, also serving up a delicious Gold Rush Cocktail for potluck consumption. Her bacon jam at the June swap last summer had just the right balance of sweet and salty, and Andrea brought tasty jars of bourbon and Meyer lemon caramel to the most recent swap. I've been lucky enough to score Andrea's goods in the past, and I must confess I was loathe to not bid on the caramel, but we were leaving town shortly afterwards for a month, and I feared I would not be able to savor it all before leaving (silly me). Her incredible sounding salad recipe below features a few of my favorite things...salmon and kumquats to start...and will definitely make it onto our dinner table very, very soon. Read on for her culinary inspirations and the makings of a perfect springtime meal! 

Andrea making liqueurs: kitchen alchemy at work
Name: Andrea Bornschlegel

Home (+ hometown swap): Mountain View, CA

Profession: Finance & accounting for startups

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago?  I read a NY Times article about swapping and searched for local events. I went to the very first swaps in both SF and the East Bay in the spring of 2011, but haven’t been to a great number overall. I’ve considered trying to start up a Silicon Valley swap – if anyone is interested, please contact me!

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?  I made Meyer lemon caramel and bourbon-cayenne caramel, as I’d been experimenting with different flavors. I do homemade liqueurs most often, but hadn’t given myself enough lead time last month. 

Andrea's Meyer Lemon and Bourbon Cayenne Caramels!

What’s your favorite thing about swapping?  The people, the inspiration, the goods! I especially like getting an unusual ingredient to play with (fennel pollen, rose geranium) rather than something to just eat. But it’s all good.

Who or what most influences your cooking?  Reading, reading, reading to expand my repertoire, and sharing ideas with friends and family. This year, I’ve been cooking things I’ve never touched before (sunchokes, celeriac, kumquats, pork belly) and doing projects like home-cured duck prosciutto and  homemade ricotta. For everyday cooking, my husband wants healthy meals while I want cheese, butter, bacon, and more cheese (with chocolate on top), and I realize he’s probably smarter, so I try to head that direction.

Bacon jam in the making

Bacon jam for sampling at the swap

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?  My mandoline, for super-easy, super-thin slicing. My dad bought it for me years ago. I like it much more now that I’ve bought a protective glove and don’t have to use the safety holder. Also, my microplane and a little julienne tool my mother-in-law bought me. I guess I like things small and thin and shredded?

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession? I’ve previously always required my eggs to be cooked hard, but somehow in the past year I’ve discovered the joys of runny yolks. Currently eating them on any kind of vegetable (but mostly asparagus) and/or any kind of starch, with truffle oil.

Biggest food surprise?  No-knead bread – it’s soooo easy! Even my first try at it was heaven, and even a disappointing loaf is fabulous.

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?  Oh, too hard! Fried chicken, various potatoes, scallops, salmon with vanilla sauce, several porky items. Chocolate lava cake with ginger ice cream. Inventive craft cocktails.

When I'm not in the kitchen, I'm...traveling, seeing friends, reading, doing crossword puzzles, running or at the gym, wasting time on the internet.

Favorite local fod experience:  Spreading a beach towel on the kitchen table for a Dungeness crab, artichoke, sourdough feast. Walking to downtown Mountain View and eating al fresco.

The Gold Rush Cocktail was a welcome addition to the bar...

...and coaxed people to the swap tables for her liqueurs for sure!

A sampling of Andrea's liqueurs - photo by Becky Spencer (EBCA swap)

Recipe by Andrea:
I made this up on Valentine’s Day (like I said, my husband likes healthy meals). Sorry for lack of amounts, but it’s a salad, it’s flexible  do what you prefer depending on how many you’re serving.

Arugula-Kumquat Salad with Roasted Salmon and Horseradish Sauce
(loosely inspired by “Salad for Dinner,” Tasha DeSerio)

Arugula (or butter lettuce, romaine, or spinach if you prefer)
Fresh kumquats, sliced thinly or quartered, discarding big seeds  more than you think is reasonable ;-)
Fennel bulb, core removed, sliced very thinly
Roasted beets, chunked (Trader Joe’s carries cooked vacuum packed beets)
Avocado, chunked
Carrot curls (using veg peeler) or very thin julienne
Red onion, raw or quickly pickled in water/cider vinegar/sugar mixture (maybe 1C - 1/4C - 1/4C)

Wild salmon, 5-8 oz per person, roasted per your usual method or whatever looks simple on Google

Salad dressing:
50/50 roasted walnut oil and Trader Joe’s orange muscat champagne vinegar or other mild, fruity vinegar (more oil if your vinegar is stronger); thyme fresh or dried; a little Dijon or dried mustard; S&P

Horseradish sauce:
3/4 C plain greek yogurt (or strained a bit if a thinner style) (or thinned crème fraîche for decadence)
1-2 T prepared horseradish
1-2 shallots, minced fine
1-2 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 T champagne or sherry vinegar
1 T olive oil
Chopped chives and/or basil

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and dress very lightly.  Plate dinner-size salad portions covering most of the plate, overlap salmon a bit, top the salmon with ~2 T sauce, and pass the rest of the sauce at the table.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

We're back! Spring Swap Recap

It was wonderful connecting with everyone again after a longer-than-planned swap hiatus. And, we heard the message loud and clear...we won't go as long between swaps again (holidays, life, and travel will be better planned, we promise!). In fact, mark your calendars for the next one, on May 29th.

Spring was in the air, making the social part of our evening very lively, and as always, the potluck and swap tables overflowed with fragrant, vibrant, and creative offerings. Lots of fresh greens from the garden were extra aesthetically pleasing in my book.

Garlic scapes from Angela - I am making mine into this pesto

Honeycomb, lemons, greens, and herbs from Patricia

Lemon balm, arugula, and collards

Collard close-up
Flavored caramels by Andrea

Pickled apricots, grenadine and jams by Kari

Hot Sauce! by Stephanie

Euro Culture Yogurt and Ricotta by Maureen

Vegan cookie goodness by Micah

Lemongrass Pickled Eggs by Herb

Little Herb labels were a hit!

Chocolate bark by Meredyth

Assorted (and beautiful) refrigerator pickles by Christina W

Roasted peppers by Jim

Honey Sweetened Meyer Lemon Jam & Meyer Lemon Yogurt by me

Boozy persimmon bread by Kari

Cranberry Orange Relish by J.K.

Lavender Syrup by Angela

More (but different!) Meyer Lemon Caramel by Lea

Jams a-plenty by Lisa

Pomelo Un-gummy Worms by Jim (they were not un-yummy)

Olive sauce by Christina M

Apple cake by Lucia
And there was even more: Spiced Nuts, Honey Ancho Peanut Butter, Earl Grey Pot de Cremes, Granola, and Chocolate Chip Cookies rounded out the evening. Along with bubbly conversation and libations. It's good to be back in the swap swing of things, folks.