BlogHer Food '09, San Francisco

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I had a great time at the first ever (and hopefully annual) BlogHer Food in San Francisco (September 26, 2009). Overall, a great one-day conference (minus the lunch fiasco). I'm a bit sleep deprived so here are some random thoughts and photos.

a. Putting a face to a blog
It was great meeting, in REAL life, several bloggers. The day was a whirlwind so I'm sure I'm missing people (sorry), but I really enjoyed meeting: (most of these links are to their recap of the conference): pinkstripes, two peas, engineer baker, baking and boys, joy the baker, cookie madness, baking bites, recipegirl, and met a bunch of other really nice bloggers.

BlogHerFood 09, San Francisco
Here is a photo of Rocco DiSpirito's Tweetdeck with Wendy of Pink Stripes. She tweeted a question and won a Flip camera and copy of Rocco's book. She's giving the book away...check it out here.

b. Visual track was fantastic
BlogHerFood had three tracks running simultaneously - visuals, values and vocation. I went to the three visual talks of:

Matt Armendariz
and Heidi Swanson
Todd Porter and Diane Cu (White on Rice)
Matt Armendariz and Lara Ferroni. Check out the slides from their talk here.

Each talk was really great and gave me lots of action plans: Practice, practice, practice! Shoot RAW. Learn to read and use the histogram. Talk to photographers you admire. Make a scrapbook of photos you love and try to recreate the image. Thanks to all the presenters for sharing their knowledge!

c. I heart Virgin America and the Westin
Flew Virgin for the first time. Loved it. Even enjoyed the little safety video. Once you go Virgin, it'll be hard to get back on Southwest. I always stay with friends when I visit the Bay Area, but this time JustJENN and I stayed at the Westin on 3rd in San Francisco. Sweet hotel and courteous staff all around. I recommend staying there.

d. Gift bag...read carefully
The gift bag/swag was quite nice. We received a Scharffen Berger Chocolate bag too...nothing like bringing home four bars of chocolate! And kudos to the BlogHerFood staff for setting up delivery to a local food bank of the items people couldn't bring home. Also, I almost missed the best ever swag! There is a little card in the bag to complete from Cuisinart and they will send me the Elite Collection 4-cup prudy chopper/grinder! Can't wait for that to arrive!

My shopping trip to Japantown, San Francisco
e. justJENN enables me.
justJENN and I went to Japantown and spent too much time buying stuff at Ichiban Kan and eating mochi at Benkyodo. I couldn't pass this cool t-shirt that says Soy Friendly. Me love anything with a tofu and soy sauce character. Too cute.

BlogHerFood 09, San Francisco
f. Foodbuzz is way cool
JustJenn and I ran off our 2 1/2 hour delayed flight and made it to Foodbuzz for lunch. The staff were all so friendly. JustJenn won the logo contest for the upcoming Foodbuzz blogger festival in November!

BlogHerFood 09, San Francisco
g. Top Chef Ryan is adorable
Ryan Scott from Top Chef Chicago (better known as the Fabio season) is way cute, charming and delicious. He demonstrated making a frittata before lunch.

BlogHerFood 09, San Francisco
Made from scratch. At a food blog conference. I know, CRAZY. See below.

h. Lunch was "interesting"
I think if you Google "blogherfood" and "bertolli" you'll know what happened. Basically, they served frozen food to food bloggers (yes, people who make their own pasta, tofu, frosting, and can taste the difference between salts found on the north or south shore). Frozen food. And poor Rocco tried really hard to convince us that heating frozen pasta for 8 minutes will bring joy to our lives. Rocco was charming and charismatic, and I do hope he is saving all the money he's getting for being the Bertolli spokesperson.

BlogHerFood 09, San Francisco
i. RecipeGirl was the best part of lunch!
RecipeGirl and I sat at the same table during the lunch. When she won a Rocco book for tweeting a question, she gave me her autographed copy because she received a copy of the book at an intimate dinner with Rocco the night before. Yes, let your imagination go on that one! ;)

j. Mushroom soup rocks. Chocolate box and gloves.
The one food item that was completely delicious was the Mushroom soup prepared by one of the exhibitors, Mushroom Channel . Here's the recipe.

BlogHerFood 09, San Francisco
Elizabeth Faulkner of Citizen Cake made her famous chocolate box. Guests throw on rubber gloves and grab a pile. Here's Nicole of Baking Bites with her dessert!

I skipped the cocktail party and unofficial after-party to visit with friends in the Bay Area. Both looked really fun, and will definitely try to attend next time!

BlogHerFood 09, San Francisco
Your blog should be your happy place.
The closing session with Pioneer Woman, David Lebovitz and Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes was really interesting. My favorite lines were David clapping his hands together and saying, "I love my blog" and Elise's "my blog is my happy place." Few will have as much commercial success as these three, but it reminds you that you should be true to yourself, and make your blog an expression of you.

If you want to read about the sessions, please check out the BlogHerFood Live Blogging site.

Overall, what a great conference! As soon as the next one is announced, I'm signing up and hope you will too!
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Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese Food, San Francisco

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, San Francisco

On Friday night, I went to CHA-YA Vegetarian Japanese Cuisine in the Mission. I'm definitely an omnivore, but my UCLA library school friend Shannon is vegetarian and I'm trying to not eat dairy...so this place was perfect! We were joined by librarians/archivists Jen and Arvid.

I was in town to go to the BlogHerFood conference at the St. Regis...more on that in my next post!

Oh my gosh! Cha-Ya was delicious! I could be vegan if I could eat this all day long. So, even if you love a steak, try Cha-Ya for a yummy change. Everything was so beautifully prepared and the flavors were lovely.

I grabbed a to-go menu and copied down the descriptions and prices. Which, of course, are subject to change. Here is what we ate:

Pictured above, Jenn had:
Sansai (wild vegetables) Soba: Edible bracken, bamboo shoots, carrots, and enoki and wood ear mushrooms. (veggies not pictured, my photo didn't turn out!) $9.75

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, San Francisco
Kansai Set Noodle Dinner: For an extra $4.50, Jen got two pieces of inari sushi and a small Sunomono salad with her noodle dish.

Sunomono (cucumber vinaigrette salad): Sliced cucumber and radishes with golden raisins, wakame, silver noodles, and toasted organic soybeans. Non-oil rice vinaigrette.

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, San Francisco
Mary had: Umekyu Hosomaki roll (umeboshi pickled plum with cucumber). Nice and tart. $4.40

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, San Francisco
Mary had: Senroppon Salad (shredded salad): Shredded daikon, turnip, cucumber, and carrots with atsuage tofu, radishes, soybeans, kaiware, and toasted pine nuts. Soy-vinaigrette dressing. $7.00

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, San Francisco
Arvid had: Shira Ae (Vegetables with tofu dressing): Blanched spinach with seasoned lotus root, carrots, shiitake, green beans, tofu pouch, and yam cake, served with tahini-tofu dressing. $7.25

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, San Francisco
Arvid had: Haru Maki (Spring rolls): Asparagus, shiitake, carrots, long beans, silver noodles, and atsuage tofu wrapped in wheat sheets. Lightly fried and served with sweet and sour sauce. $7.25

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, San Francisco
Shannon had: Sea vegetable salad: A variety of marine vegetables including seasoned hijiki served with a creamy sesame dressing. $7.75

Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese, San Francisco
Shannon had: Gyoza (pot stickers): Vegan pot stickers, pan-friend and served with Gyoza sauce. $7.00

It was all super yummy. Cha-Ya has several desserts...but we opted to walk up to Bi-Rite Creamery and get some ice cream. I got the chocolate coconut (non-dairy, made with coconut milk) and raspberry sorbet. No photos...we just gobbled it up! :)

P.S. Note to Arvid and Jen: Great to meet you! And Arvid, please send me that cheesecake recipe! :)

Do they not have a website? Can't find it...
Here are some Yelp entries: Cha-Ya Mission | Cha-Ya Inner Sunset | Cha-Ya Berkeley

CHA-YA
Vegetarian Japanese Cuisine
762 Valencia Street (in the Mission)
San Francisco, CA 94110
415-252-7825
Note: Cash Only
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"Easiest Cake Ever" with Strawberries & Blueberries

Friday, September 25, 2009

Easiest Cake Ever with Strawberries & Blueberries
Its name is "Easiest Cake Ever"
And it lives up to its name. Easy peasy.

Easiest Cake Ever with Strawberries & Blueberries
I've scheduled this post to publish as I'm heading up to BlogHerFood in San Francisco! I'm excited to meet fellow bloggers and the speakers they have lined up sound great.

I haven't been able to bake much lately as I'm finishing up the move. I hope to get all settled next week and start pounding out some stuff. I have a big thing planned for the blog in October/November...stay tuned! :)

I'll post about the conference (and food) when I get back!

Easiest Cake Ever with Strawberries & Blueberries
This cake is so easy to make. Give your KitchenAid a break and pull out a bowl, basic ingredients and a whisk. Any soft fruit will be yummy. I'd like to try it with some fresh peaches next summer!

Easiest Cake Ever with Strawberries & Blueberries Easiest Cake Ever with Strawberries & Blueberries
Mix in a large bowl:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour into cake pan. I used a 8" pan. Top with any soft fruit, I used strawberries & blueberries. Top with a tablespoon of raw sugar.

As a bonus, it is non-dairy too!

Easiest Cake Ever with Strawberries & Blueberries
Have a great weekend! See you next week! - mary the food librarian

Recipe:
Easiest Cake Ever adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
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Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel

Happy Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashanah!

My friend Jami's mom makes the best noodle kugel. I've made it twice for Hanukkah in 2008 and 2007.

This year, I decided to mix it up a bit and added one small diced apple and 1/2 cup golden raisins. And luckily, I haven't packed up my 9 x 13 pan and old school electric mixer yet.

The kugel is divine. I can eat it hot, cold, at the table, standing in the refrig in the middle of the night...except this year I can't have dairy so I'm bummed. However, the staff at the library enjoyed it. (And believe me, this is a dairy consortium! Butter, sour cream, cream cheese and cottage cheese!)

There are Parve (non-dairy) kugels that can accompany meat dishes, and I'll definitely try that next year.

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel
From my friend's Jami's mom, Mrs. S in San Diego!

8 oz. medium egg noodles
6 eggs
1 lb. (16 oz.) carton cottage cheese, small curd
3 oz. small cream cheese [FYI: A regular brick is 8 oz.]
1/2 pint = 1 cup = 8 oz. container sour cream
1/4 lb. = 1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Handful of cornflake crumbs to thicken the noodle-egg mixture a bit

Optional:
1 diced apple (I used a Granny Smith)
1/2 cup golden or regular raisins (I used golden)

Cook and drain noodles. Beat eggs well, add rest of the ingredients and beat well. By hand, mix in the drained noodles and optional diced apples and raisins. The mixture will be watery. Don't be tempted to add more noodles. They will totally expand while baking.

Topping
Mix together:
1 cup corn flake crumbs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Grease a 9 x 13 pan well and add mixture. Sprinkle topping on. Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, uncovered. (Last night, I baked it for 1 1/2 hours, but I think an hour 15 would have been okay too.)

Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel
To those celebrating the Jewish New Year, best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful and peaceful year.

And to those who just love noodles, sweetness and lots of dairy, make this yummy kugel!
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Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake
Switch up Mark Bittman's Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with some apples!

Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake
Melt 1/2 stick of butter and pour into 8" pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar on top. Then place your apples on top. I used 3 1/2 gala apples.

Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake
Wet ingredients: Whisk together 1/2 stick melted butter, 1 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1/2 c sugar.
Dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 t baking soda, 1/4 t salt. Added 1 teaspoon cinnamon for the apple version.

Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake
Add the wet ingredients to the combined dry ingredients until incorporated. Spread the batter on top of the apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. I baked mine for 55 minutes. After 5 minutes cooling, flip the cake out onto a serving plate.

Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake
I made this cake about a week ago and it was a yummy breakfast treat. I am really enjoying Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I picked it up at the library and have renewed it...I'll be getting it after my move! My new bookshelf has an empty space, you know... :)

Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake
Okay pastry people...what happened here? Big holes due to overmixing? undermixing? I know it is one of them.

Oh well, it'll be my Swiss Cheese-like Apple Upside-Down Cake!

Mark Bittman's Apple Upside-Down Cake
I did enjoy this cake. It was quick and "light" (only 1 stick of butter! hee hee). However, my favorite upside-down apple cake is definitely the Barefoot Contessa's Apple Tartin Cake. That one has more butter and sour cream...and it uses a caramel layer. You should definitely try both!

Recipe:
I adapted mine from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (10th Anniversary Edition) "Pineapple Upside-Down Cake" with Apple Upside-Down Cake, page 915
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Movin' Movin' Movin'

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sorry, no Tuesdays with Dorie this week for me. I'm in the process of moving and half my baking stuff is in one place, and the other half isn't. I have found myself at Ikea and Target practically every day. And now I'm going to bed before 9 pm. I'm not moving far and it is a "car move"...little loads every day...but darn, it is tiring!

This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie group made Cottage Cheese Pufflets. This was selected by Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes. I love her blog and all her beautiful yums. You have to go visit and see for yourself. So sorry, Jacque that I couldn't play along this week. I want to give these a try when I'm all settled.

Be sure to check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers!

And I'm looking forward to going to BlogHerFood this weekend in San Francisco. Should be delicious and fun! And I'm really excited to meet other TWD bakers! I know Wendy (Pink Stripes), Maria (Two Peas and Their Pod), and Caitlin (Engineer Baker) will be there. Let me know if other TWD bloggers will be there too!
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Zebra Cake

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
When I saw the Zebra Cake on Foodgawker, I was intrigued! I couldn't figure out how it was made. Luckily, the instructions were really easy! Just pour alternating batter? I can do that!

Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
The secret is two same size measuring cups and working quickly.

Zebra Cake (Food Librarian) Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
Zebra Cake (Food Librarian) Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
You make the simple batter (see recipe links below). Half the batter is vanilla and half is flavored with cocoa powder. I made mine in a 9" pan.

Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
Carefully pour 1/4 cup into the middle of the pan. Don't wait for it to spread. And, hey, don't grab your camera and take photos! I think mine doesn't look like the others because I might have worked too slowly with the photo breaks! :)

Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
Pour another 1/4 cup of the chocolate batter directly into the center of the pan on top of the previous batter. Repeat until you are out of batter.

It is really neat to see the batter spread out into these circles.

Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
A bit of sugar is sprinkled on top and provides a simple crust.

Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
Okay. I'll be honest with you. I thought the cake was a bit bland in flavor. Next time, I might make it Matcha (Green Tea) and Chocolate. Or, I would add more vanilla extract. However, it is so pretty that the flavor can be overlooked a bit! :)

Zebra Cake (Food Librarian)
Recipe and more photos (their cakes look have thinner layers that go all the way to the top):
The recipes are slightly different.
I used this one: Connie Veneracion's Home Cooking Rocks!
Great step-by-step photos: Farida’s Azerbaijani Cookbook
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Flaky Apple Turnovers - Tuesdays with Dorie

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flakey Apple Turnover (Dorie Greenspan)
For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Julie or Jules of Someone’s in the Kitchen picked Flaky Apple Turnovers on page 316 of Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Ah, my life filled with procrastination knows no bounds. I started way late on Monday night, baked them this morning, and came home from work to post it! Each time the schedule of recipes comes out on the Tuesdays with Dorie website, I plan to make everything early. Yeah. Maybe next time! :)

Flakey Apple Turnover (Dorie Greenspan) Flakey Apple Turnover (Dorie Greenspan)
I read the directions. A couple times. Really.

But I was also super duper tired, and completely misread the part about the size of the circle. It is about 4 inches and I used a small biscuit cutter instead! Oops. Therefore, I couldn't fold over my turnover to save my life. Unless I wanted to have one piece of apple in each one...which would turn these into just half moons of pie dough. So, at 4:30 this morning, I made the executive decision to put a circle of dough on top!

I used Gala apples and skipped adding butter to the apples...I figure there was enough in the dough.

Flakey Apple Turnover (Dorie Greenspan)
I didn't eat them, but the dough was quite flaky. I put sanding sugar on top of an egg wash.

Flakey Apple Turnover (Dorie Greenspan)
Thanks for this cute selection, Julie!
Be sure to check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers!

Recipe:
Dorie's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, page 316
Jule's blog post here
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