Flavor Brigade: Italian Ice in Oakland!

Flavor BrigadeItalian ice hasn’t quite “become a thing” the Bay Area — at least not yet. In fact the only place we know of that specializes in it is Flavor Brigade on Fruitvale Ave in Oakland. We make it a point to try and position ourselves in the vicinity of Flavor Brigade as often as possible so we have an excuse to stop in for some Philly style “water ice” (another name for Italian ice). If we lived closer, I’m pretty sure we’d be there ALL the time. Continue reading

Cool Summer Treats: Frozen Hot Chocolate

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Summer is here and when we saw this recipe on one of our favorite blogs, we could not resist trying it out almost immediately.  Made famous by Serendipity Cafe in NYC, this “frozen hot chocolate” is basically a home-made ice blended.  It’s an easy recipe, one that the kids can make by themselves, start to finish (that includes clean-up!).  I suspect we will be making these frozen hot chocolates a few more times before the summer is over.  The portion below in the recipe is (too) small, and given the popularity of the end product, do double or triple the recipe!  Great icy treat to add to your summer repertoire…. Continue reading

Falafel Drive-In, San Jose

Falafel Drive In

Go for the classic — falafel sandwich & a banana shake!

Where have you been all my life Falafel’s Drive-In? I love a good drive-in, and I’m never opposed to French fries, but add crunchy falafel to the mix? Now you’re talking !

A few weekends ago we happened to be near San Jose, hungry for some lunch with vague recollection about falafel on Steven’s Creek Blvd. A quick Google search was all we needed to lead us to Falafel’s Drive-In. Continue reading

Kitchen Gear: Suribachi (Japanese Mortar & Pestle)

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Check out this suribachi (“grinding bowl”). It’s a Japanese-style mortar and pestle. Over the last year I have become a big fan of this piece of cooking equipment because the design is perfect for making pastes and pestos. Essentially it’s a ceramic bowl with an unglazed, textured inside. With a wooden pestle, you grind foods against the ridges inside the bowl. It’s similar to other tools you may know (a Mexican Molcajete, an Italian mortar and pestle made from marble, or a Indonesian style mortar and pestle made from basalt/volcanic rock), but those ridges make all the difference. You can make smooth, creamy pastes really efficiently. And like other mortar and pestles you can work with very small quantities which is handy and impossible with a food processor or mini chop. Continue reading

Summer Inspiration: Grilled Avocados

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Until very recently, I never considered grilling avocados – and now that I have discovered this, there’s no turning back.  The recipe is super simple – cut a few ripe avocados in half.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and ancho chile powder (cayenne, paprika or any other chile powder work well). Grill for 1-2 minutes, cut side down till charred.  Season with Maldon salt and squeeze on some fresh lime juice.  Ridiculous good. Continue reading

Kids in the Kitchen: Weekend Pancakes

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How times flies – the children are now old enough to make weekend pancakes all by themselves.  It’s bittersweet.  It’s all moving too fast, and everyone is growing up too rapidly.  Before long, we will be old and decrepit , and our kids will be making pancakes for us and wiping the syrup off our faces.🙂

This is a neat cooking project for children on a weekend.  We had excess buttermilk lying around from making Brown Butter Cobbler from earlier in the week –  and Ria after watching “Just Eat It” is a bit obsessed with reducing food waste (yay!, or she just wanted pancakes) – came up with the idea to make “Buttermilk Pancakes”.  We googled and the Google Gods sent us a fabulous recipe from Martha Stewart.  Somehow, chocolate chips made their way into the pancakes and instead of syrup, we used some lovely Hawaiian Macadamia nut honey that we procured from Heidrun Meadery in Point Reyes (awesome Food Find!).  The honey and the buttermilk pancakes (without the chocolate chips), were a match made in heaven. Continue reading

Having Fun with Charles Phan’s Banh Xeo (Vietnamese-style crepes)

Banh Xeo_by A Little Yumminess.jpgBanh Xeo_A Little YumminessEveryone in my family loves, loves loves Vietnamese food (it’s our standard “go-to” Friday night dinner out). The layered flavors and textures, the freshness and brightness make it totally irresistible. High up on my to do list to the beg some of my friends with cuisine knowledge to give me some tutoring in the kitchen, but in the meantime I keep doing my best to chase the flavors that we love by absorbing all I can from every cookbook, article and video I can find. (If you know of good resources, let me know!)

This recipe for banh xeo (Vietnamese-style crepes) from Charles Phan of SF’s always great Slanted Door restaurant, was a fun one that I wanted to share since it’s a new technique and canvas to play with. The batter is simple to put together, and cooking the crepes isn’t too hard, especially if you have some experience with French crepes or other thin pancakes, but in any case prepare to practice a bit before you get “in the zone”. I will probably never get to the level of delicate laciness of Charles Phan’s banh xeo but making them is still pretty fun and my family will happily eat the rejects.

Continue reading