Snack Time: Quick Cheese Straws

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Store bought puff pastry is one of those things that makes cooking so many dishes so much easier.  We always have some in the freezer to turn into a variety of dishes like these portable stuffed puffs we love,  the best homemade chicken pot pie, and tarts of all kinds.  Our latest snack time addition, are these quick cheese straws that the little ones can make almost entirely by themselves.  I am loving that as the kiddo gets older, I can give her a simple recipe and she can work on it by herself.  I am not ready to let her handle the oven, but perhaps over the summer we will make that leap as well….

After the kids are in bed these are great with some bubbles or a cocktail.  A friend of mine makes a yummy version of these with prosciutto. Yum.  Who needs dinner?

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Cooking with Grandma: Vegetable Korma

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We have a new way of learning more recipes and techniques – every time someone has a mother/father or mother-in-law/father-in-law in town, we swoop down and have them teach us their family’s favorite recipes.  So far we have cornered my mother and mother-in-law, Stacie’s dad and a good friend’s Malaysian mother.  The recipes are good ol’ home cooking, but they always turn out super delicious.  Who needs Culinary School when you can get free lessons from people you know (and love)?  Plus, generally our teachers like the idea of passing on their family recipes and it also keeps a bunch of elders engaged while they are visiting from out of town.  If you have any family recipes your parents would like to share – send them our way!!

Cooking with these amazing home cooks though, is an interesting process, especially since all of them down play their recipes as “home cooking”, ” very simple food” and all of them are a little amused that we want to learn from them.  The next complication is that these very amazing cooks, never measure anything and everyone knows that the process of recording a recipe requires measurements. :)  Somehow Stacie and I have come up with a technique for recording their mouth-watering recipes.  The vegetable korma below is a classic from my mother-in-law and was recently featured in the San Jose Mercury’s Food Section.

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Coffee Crunch Cake, It’s a San Francisco Thing (Yasukochi’s Sweet Stop)

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When my kids see a certain glint in my eye they know they’re in for a food adventure. This look means that there’s a high likelihood that we’ll be jumping in to car to trek off to some obscure corner of the Bay Area to find some (hopefully) tasty bite. Thank goodness they’re both good sports about it and humor this eccentricity. Our latest quest was happily close to home, in San Francisco’s Japantown as we went in search of the famous coffee crunch cake. I’m not sure if coffee crunch cake is “a thing” elsewhere, but it has a history here in San Francisco. Most old-school SFers will remember Blum’s coffee crunch cake with a special fondness: pillowy whipped cream sandwiched between light layers of chiffon cake, the whole thing  encrusted in crunched up pieces of coffee-flavored honeycomb toffee. This was the signature item at Blum’s (sadly gone) which was in the also now defunct ritzy department store I. Magnin’s. If I could travel back in time, some shoe shopping at Magnin’s followed by a stop at Blum’s for cake would most definitely be on my to do list.

The happy news to report is that while Blum’s is no longer, coffee crunch crunch cake lives on in San Francisco!  Continue reading

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Mejadra (Rice and Lentils)

Mejadra - A Little Yumminess

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Where do cravings come from? Sometimes it seems they follow you for a lifetime, other times they come and go quite mysteriously. My little one is in the midst of a massive pickle phase at the moment which came on all of a sudden and seemingly out of nowhere. He’ll eat dill pickles any time of day (even breakfast) and steals the pickles off our plates when we’re not looking. My favorite junior foodie Ria made her grandparents keep a food diary on their last trip to Singapore, and paging through it reveals a very high frequency of Hainanese Chicken Rice. My older son has always craved the sweet stuff (the particulars change but never the framework), my husband the spicy stuff (or BBQ or chocolate covered bananas). Lately my cravings seem to lead directly to these spiced lentils and rice which are addictively sweet-savory and even more perfect with the tang of yogurt alongside. I’m getting hungry again just thinking about it!

The ease of making this dish is another reason to love it, especially if you plan ahead a bit and cook the lentils the night before. Then it’s really only a matter of a couple of minutes of toasting spices and then plunking everything else to season the rice while it cooks. Admittedly, frying the onions is a huge pain (you’ve got to do it in batches and you have to pay attention so they don’t burn), but it’s definitely worth the effort because they really make the dish. Luckily, like the lentils, you can make them ahead of time.

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Fun to Eat (& Say): Korean Bibimbap

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We love rice bowls in almost any form, but this bowl of goodness from Korea – called BI-BIM-BAP is an extra special favorite of ours.   This recipe idea was recently featured in Bay Area Parent magazine and hopefully folks will try it at home or at least go out and eat some bibimbap!

Our little ones just cannot get enough of these rice bowls.  The runny egg on top, which is the crowning glory of this dish is essential and makes the dish extra special.  Everyone is topping almost everything with an egg these days, but the Koreans have been doing it for quite some time now :).  The traditional bibimbap is served in a hot cast iron bowl and as you eat it, the rice forms a delicious crackly crust.  You’ll often find us devouring traditional bibimbap at Manna in the Sunset neighborhood.

We just taught a class on making bibimbap at 18 Reasons last month and are traveling to Korea for day of our summer camp.

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Tarta de Santiago (Spanish Almond Cake)

Spanish Santiago Cake by A Little Yumminess

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This super traditional Spanish cake first caught my eye because of its short list of ingredients and the fact that it uses no flour, just finely ground almonds, as the base. Another example of how a couple of simple ingredients can transform themselves into something special. This cake is moist, deliciously not-too-sweet, delicate and crumbly which makes it great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Simran and I and our friend Rachel happy nibbled away on this during a recent afternoon of recipe testing… and the fact that I wasn’t nice enough to save any for my family to try will give you an idea of how much I liked it.

In addition to being a lovely accompaniment to afternoon coffee this is a cake also has a long history. It dates back to the 16th century where it has been enjoyed by Santiago locals and pilgrims making their way to the Cathedral of Santiago Compostel (the burial place of St. James, the patron saint of Spain.). This recipe also happens to be gluten-free which comes in handy as well. Continue reading

Sunday Supper: De Afghanan Kabob House

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Berkeley’s loss is San Francisco’s gain with the De Afghanan Kebab House closing shop across the Bay Bridge and opening up in San Francisco.  The newest location of this amazing kebab house is located kind of in “no man’s land” (Geary and Polk), but do not let that deter you.  It’s a simple restaurant, that is kid-friendly and welcoming with spectacular food. Continue reading