sacramento connect » Food & Wine sacramento blogs & community news around sacramento california Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:59:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Wine tasting of the week: Pink Party at Enotria Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:04:11 +0000
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Sacratomato Week Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:17:52 +0000 Paul Robins samples the tuscan tomato soup made by Chef Steve Toso of Biba in honor of Sacratomato Week.

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Feast and play at 29th annual Festa Italiana Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:05:19 +0000
One of the featured dance groups at last year’s Festa Italiana was from Naples, Italy.]]> 0
Limited-edition muffins and bagels are full of apple and cinnamon Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:34:18 +0000
Thomas’ bakery offers another limited-edition line of bagels and English muffins, this time in Apple Pie flavor.]]> 0
Homemade S’mores: #Recipe Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:00:42 +0000 It’s summertime - time for cookouts, campfires and homemade s’mores. Who doesn’t love these ooey gooey treats? So there we were with a large family gathering, a ton of food, lots of homemade marshmallows, homemade graham crackers and Ghirardelli squares of chocolate. Of course we had to have my homemade s’mores...

The post Homemade S’mores: #Recipe appeared first on Finding Our Way Now.

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Lime Curd Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:00:32 +0000 I have a slight addiction. It’s called homemade curd. Lemon curd, lime curd, whatever. I can eat it with a spoon. Instead of paying $4 a jar and breaking the bank, I decided to make my own. Now you can too! Have you ever had lemon curd? Chances are, you’ve seen it used in a plethora […]

The post Lime Curd appeared first on Crazy for Crust.

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Dining News: Federalist Public House to Open on Aug. 1 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 05:19:37 +0000 0 Hawaii: Hilo farmers market Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:04:00 +0000 This morning we went to the farmers market in Hilo, the largest town on the east side of Hawaii. In 2012, Huffington Post rated it as one of the ten best farmers markets in the U.S. What was particularly interesting for us was the huge selection of tropical fruits we don’t see at home, plus many Asian vegetables I had never even laid eyes on before.


The Hilo farmers market is open every day from 7:00am to 4:00pm, with about 30 booths open. But on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the market expands dramatically to over 200 vendors, of which at least 150 are selling all manner of arts and crafts. I even saw booths for on-site massages, fortunetelling and the like.

Here are some photos I took. I would have taken more, but the market was crammed and I was juggling a bag of fruit part of the time.


Bamboo shoots for cooking. Unfortunately, the sign didn’t say which species of bamboo.

Read more »

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Watermelon Gummy Bear Popsicles Thu, 24 Jul 2014 01:39:42 +0000 0 Strawberry Shortcake S’mores Thu, 24 Jul 2014 01:37:05 +0000 {continue reading}]]> 0 Pear Fair celebrates crop with fun Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:35:20 +0000
A patron sorts through a bin of pears at the annual Courtland Pear Fair in Courtland. The celebration of locally grown Bartletts and other pears will be held July 27.]]> 0
……stand up for change….voice aloud. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:59:00 +0000 0 More tips on preserving tomatoes Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:09:01 +0000 0 TK dinner ~ July 2014 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:08:00 +0000 0 Easy Caramel Sauce Recipe Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:17:04 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 0 Nana Recipe Wednesday–Almond Salad Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:00:53 +0000 0 Perfect Whipped Cream {5 ways} Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:57 +0000 Whipped cream is probably the easiest thing to make. With these step by step photos and the perfect recipe, you’ll never have to buy canned again. Plus, did you know how easy it is to make flavored whipped cream? I made 4 other flavors from the base recipe. You need these in your life, trust […]

The post Perfect Whipped Cream {5 ways} appeared first on Crazy for Crust.

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Local, world-class fiddler Alasdair Fraser joins “James Bond” in supporting an independent Scotland Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:37:41 +0000 0 What’s Cooking: Jam, the secret ingredient Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:00:00 +0000 It was probably 15 years ago that I discovered the magic that is a nearly empty jar of jam.

Until then, I’d always hated those sticky-knuckle moments of scraping the dregs of the jar, hoping I had enough to add that sweet balance so needed by the otherwise leaden smear of peanut butter on my bread.

Then an Italian cook who was supposed to be teaching me pasta making got sidetracked. She wanted a salad to go with our orecchiette, and she wanted to make her own vinaigrette. That’s when she reached for a nearly empty jar of strawberry jam, dumped in some olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, some salt and pepper. Then she put the cover back on the jar and shook like mad.

Revolutionary? Hardly. But it was delicious. More important, it changed my relationship with jam. It wasn’t just a sandwich spread. And it totally made sense. After all, a jar of grape jelly has been the not-so-secret ingredient for many a potluck meatball. And since that day, I’ve used a dollop of one jam or another in nearly every vinaigrette I’ve made.

I now regularly turn to jams and jellies for adding oomph to everything, including sweet-and-sour chicken (apricot jam), barbecue pork ribs (seedless raspberry), beef marinades (orange marmalade), ham glazes (blackberry or cherry), even sandwich spreads (anything goes!). If nothing else, you really must try fig jam in a grilled cheese (use extra-sharp cheddar).

Knowing I’m not alone in loving this low-brow food trick, I asked some pros for their favorite outside-the-PB&J uses for jams and jellies.

TED ALLEN: “Jams and jellies are valuable shortcuts for sauces and vinaigrettes because those preserves – note that word – are always in the pantry, bright and tart and sweet and ready to go,” Allen, host of Food Network’s “Chopped,” said via email. “They can add a depth, complexity and acidity to a lot of foods. ...

“Pork, duck and turkey notably benefit from the addition of fruit,” he said.

BED FORD: Ford, the chef behind the cookbook “Taming the Feast,” loves jams for their simplicity. It’s part of what makes them so versatile. He particularly likes tomato jam.

“I use it for a seafood cocktail sauce, a mignonette for oysters, or as a lamb burger condiment along with goat cheese, roasted spring onions and applewood smoked bacon,” he said via email. “Other jams and preserves are well suited to game birds, like apricot. Add a little water to the preserves and spices like cloves, black pepper and cardamom to make a glaze.”

APRIL BLOOMFIELD: The chef behind the New York restaurant The Spotted Pig, she favors adding cranberry jelly to pan sauces for meats. It’s an easy way to gussy up a simple sauce. “It makes it glossy and adds a touch of sweetness to something gamey like venison,” she said.

DORIE GREENSPAN: “I often use bitter orange marmalade as a glaze for roast chicken,” she said. “I like using citrus with chicken. It sharpens and brightens the pan juices, and adding a marmalade glaze ups the citrus pop without really adding sweetness. When the marmalade cooks, its bitter edge becomes more prominent.”

MELISSA D’ARABIAN: The star of Food Network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners” is a fan of the classic party meatball, but she prefers raspberry jam. She also likes to spice it up: “I love to make cocktail meatballs and coat them in a bit of jam jazzed up with some spice (like cayenne or chipotle) and acid (vinegar or lime juice). That salty-spicy-sweet flavor is a perfect party starter!”

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The Mailbox: Readers’ recipe requests Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:00:00 +0000 subhead

Does anyone have the recipe for the reddish-brown enchilada sauce served at Theresa’s Mexican Restaurant? It was delicious. Her family-run restaurant was very popular with the media and the old Kings players. Her restaurant was first located on Northgate Boulevard in Natomas. She then moved to an old Chinese restaurant in North Sacramento on El Camino.

I have looked for and tried to duplicate the gravy/sauce over the years to no avail. If anyone has this recipe and is willing to share, I would be so grateful. Their food was the best and very authentic Mexican. Thank you.

Linda Schmich,

Citrus Heights

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Bulk up the BLT by adding fish, not fat Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:00:00 +0000 In terms of flavor and texture, it’s hard to beat a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, reportedly one of the nation’s most popular sandwiches. Trouble is, it’s not exactly filling.

I’ve always thought of the BLT as an air sandwich; it packs plenty of calories but demonstrates very little staying power. So here I’ve rejiggered the traditional recipe in ways that simultaneously slim it down and bulk it up.

The best news, to start, is that a little bacon goes a long way. I’ve used the real stuff – no turkey bacon, please – but less than usual, just a slice per sandwich. Meanwhile, I’ve amped up the protein with a small piece of crispy breaded tilapia. A sustainable fish choice, tilapia has a mild flavor with a firm texture, which keeps it from falling apart in the sandwich. But any firm-fleshed fish will do.

The tilapia is coated in flour that’s been seasoned with smoked paprika, which nicely echoes the bacon’s smokiness. The crunchiness comes in when the fish is dipped in egg whites and coated in panko breadcrumbs (everyone’s favorite breadcrumb these days). The fish then is sautéed in a skillet and finished in the oven, a process requiring less oil than if it was cooked from start to finish on top of the stove.

I’ve flavored the mayo with lemon and fresh basil. Basil and tomato go together like love and marriage. And speaking of tomatoes, now is the time to splurge on the beefsteak heirloom tomatoes that may well be gracing your local farmers market. A properly grown, fully ripe tomato in season is one of the pleasures that make life worth living.

The standard lettuce of choice for a BLT is romaine, which I like for its crunch. But you certainly could swap it out for spinach or arugula. Finally, I’ve sliced the pita pockets horizontally to form two thin rounds. This little trick helps to cut back the usual amount of bread in a BLT. You end up eating one 6-inch pita instead of two slices of bread.

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Tomato time challenge: How to preserve the harvest Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:00:00 +0000 Across Sacramento kitchens in midsummer, cooks annually see red. The trigger is an avalanche of homegrown tomatoes – or irresistible bargains brought home from the farmers market.

In the heart of tomato country, this bounty brings palpitations. What to do with all those tomatoes?

It’s a dilemma – or blessing – that Lillian Smith knows well. As a longtime UC master food preserver, the Rio Linda woman fields scores of questions from both newbie tomato canners and experienced cooks.

Each summer, tomato fever hits, and her phone starts ringing.

“The resurgence of interest (in canning) started four, five years ago, but it’s continued,” Smith said. “People are interested in producing their own stuff. It’s about health as much as economics. And (the results) taste better. Even if you don’t grow your own tomatoes, we’re surrounded by farmers markets. You can get some fresh to preserve.”

Nationally, tomatoes are the favorite summer crop for canning.

“By far,” said Jardan Home Brands’ Sarah Page, who develops new recipes for Ball brand, the canning experts. “We get so many requests for tomato recipes. The exciting thing: People are looking for other types of things to do with tomatoes. People are going beyond pasta sauce; they want salsas.”

In particular, consumers are interested in small batch preserving that they can make a jar or two at a time, Page said. “Instead of just putting up a lot of (plain) tomatoes, people want more recipes with new, exciting flavors.”

One of her favorites: dilly tomatoes. “It’s delicious,” Page said. “They’re these little nuggets of flavor you can toss into a salad or serve on a skewer. It’s a wonderful solution to what to do with little tomatoes – especially the yellow low-acid ones.”

When trying to get a handle on your harvest, remember that one pound of fresh tomatoes – usually two or three full-size toms – yields about 21/2 cups chopped tomatoes.

“For canning, the old rule of thumb is a pint a pound,” Smith said, “but I know it takes a little bit more, so I figure 11/2 pounds per pint.”

Smith grows an assortment of tomatoes in her own Rio Linda garden. Her favorites are Early Girl and Celebrity – the consistent size and round shape are just right for canning — and Sun Gold (“I eat them all; there’s none left for canning”).

“I like the paste tomatoes (such as Roma and San Marzano), especially for dehydrating, but also for canning,” she added.

The rising popularity of low-acid yellow or orange tomatoes such as those super-sweet Sun Golds adds another wrinkle to canning.

“Our tongues can’t taste acidity exactly,” Smith said. “We know what we like.”

And that tends to be sweet. Regardless of color, all tomatoes need to be “acidified” to stop the growth of bacteria. It’s that tart lemon juice or citric acid added to the tomatoes that prevents botulism.

“People are sometimes surprised by acidifying and why it’s so important,” Smith said. “Always use bottled lemon juice, not fresh; that way you’re guaranteed the right acidity. Or my personal favorite: Use powdered citric acid. Tomatoes are already so liquid and citric acid is much more available in supermarkets.”

The standard is 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon citric acid per pint of tomatoes; 2 tablespoons juice or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid per quart. It’s added to the jars before adding the tomatoes.

Smith regularly shows tomato techniques at the master food preservers’ demonstrations. The final products don’t always look like what came from the supermarket.

“Dehydrated tomatoes in particular,” Smith said. “People expect the (homemade) product to come out just like when they buy them. They’re different; still pliable, but not soft. You need to rehydrate them a little before use.

“When raw packing, people are surprised by the amount of juice in the bottom of the jars,” she noted. “They don’t look like commercially canned tomatoes. But the ones you make are so much better – if you start with good tomatoes to being with.”

As for peeling, it’s a matter of preference, Smith said. “Most people blanch and peel their tomatoes before packing (the jars), but it’s not mandatory. If they’re raw packed, you can just shove the tomatoes in the jars.”

The easiest method to preserve cherry or other small tomatoes: Freeze them whole. Stem and wash the fruit, pat dry, then spread them in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet. Freeze until solid, then transfer the frozen tomatoes to a sealed plastic container for storage. In the freezer, they’ll keep until next summer.

“I have two gallon bags of tomatoes in the freezer,” Smith said. “When I need some for a salad or whatever, I just pop out a few.”

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Rio Linda-Elverta Historical Society Wed, 23 Jul 2014 06:30:00 +0000 0 Dining News: Now Open – The University of Beer Wed, 23 Jul 2014 05:41:13 +0000 0 Mike Dunne on Wine: Pinot grigio/pinot gris Tue, 22 Jul 2014 23:00:00 +0000 Pinot grigio, also known as pinot gris, is rare among wines in that it can draw upon the traditions and romance of two wine countries to sell itself – Italy and France.

That’s a good thing, given that pinot grigio/pinot gris needs all the help it can get. On paper, it’s an ideal summer wine – white, light, fresh, relatively low in alcohol and best served well chilled. But in the glass, it’s also thin and bland, more often than not.

Nevertheless, it has developed a huge fan base in the United States. With 8 percent of the market, it’s the fourth-most-popular varietal wine in the country, behind cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot.

Never mind that much of that pinot grigio/pinot gris originates in a climate that’s all wrong for it, namely California.

When pinot grigio/pinot gris has something to say that is stimulating and entertaining, it almost always comes from a region with the sort of cool climate that it relishes – the Friuli and Alto Adige areas of northern Italy, Alsace in France, Marlborough in New Zealand, and Baden in Germany, where the name of the grape periodically morphs into something else, as if it were a new model of Mercedes-Benz: rulander for awhile, grauburgunder lately.

That pinot grigio has any presence at all in the United States can be credited to one man, Tony Terlato, who as a young importer of Italian wines in 1979 struck a deal with the owners of the estate Santa Margherita of Alto Adige and began to bring in their fruity and spicy take on the varietal.

As sales of Santa Margherita’s pinot grigio soared, farmers and vintners elsewhere took notice and began to plant it like mad. Over the past decade, California vineyard land devoted to pinot grigio/pinot gris has nearly doubled, now standing at almost 14,000 acres. Big plots of it are in areas too warm to retain the acidity that marks the difference between interpretations innocuous and flabby and releases lively and crisp.

But we must be careful about blanket judgments concerning the link between setting and quality. Even in California, even in regions widely seen as too warm for pinot grigio/pinot gris, exceptional takes on the varietal can be found. A few vintners in the torrid Mother Lode, for one, have found stands of pinot grigio/pinot gris at higher altitudes or in cool hollows that with perceptive handling can produce examples of striking fruit flavor, luxurious texture and refreshing acidity. One of them, a 2011 pinot grigio from Oakstone Winery at Fair Play, was judged the best wine of El Dorado County at the El Dorado County Fair wine competition two years ago.

For whatever reason, however, no pinot grigio/pinot gris out of the Sierra foothills was in the class of 29 entries that our panel judged during this year’s Sunset International Wine Competition at Menlo Park. Results won’t be known until publication of the magazine’s October issue, but I can tell you that virtually all of them were from the kind of cooler environment in which pinot grigio/pinot gris shines, when it shines at all.

That could explain why the class was such a pleasant surprise. This was in sharp contrast to my experience at another wine competition last summer, the Long Beach Grand Cru, where our panel judged 43 takes on the varietal, giving just four gold medals. For the most part, the wines there were more tired than vivid, more soft than crisp.

I’ve no idea which of the pinot grigio/pinot gris at the Sunset competition got gold medals, but I do know I had some favorites, which I later found to be:

• King Estate 2013 Oregon Pinot Gris ($17): My notes say “Oregon,” but with a question mark. The wine’s generosity, elegance and balance had me thinking that it came from the state where a disproportionate share of today’s more vigorous and compelling renditions of the varietal originate. Nonetheless, the wine’s floral aroma and unusual heft, the apparent result of having been exposed to lees contact for four months, as well as its 13.5 percent alcohol, made me question my first instinct.

• King Estate 2013 Oregon Acrobat Pinot Gris ($12): This has to be the best buy in pinot gris going these days. The Acrobat is a slightly less weighty and layered pinot gris than the one above, but the apple and citric currents in the flavor and the zesty acidity show the varietal’s potential in a delightfully sunny way.

• Giesen Wines 2013 Marlborough Pinot Gris ($14/$15): Its golden hue is the first indication that this will be an atypically rich pinot gris, a first impression verified by the wine’s luxurious texture, suggestions of fully ripe apple and melon in aroma and flavor, and sweet lingering finish. Despite its heft, its balancing jolt of acidity completes the wine, making it suitable as a stand-alone aperitif or for pairing even with relatively complex and busy dishes.

• Lindeman’s 2013 South Eastern Australia Bin 85 Pinot Grigio: ($18): While South Eastern Australia is a generally warm area, and 2013 was a fairly warm year, the vintners of Lindeman’s apparently picked their pinot grigio in the right places at the right times. Though this pinot grigio is light in color, it is lively in aroma and flavor with the richness of apricot and the lift of melon. It’s also as sharp with acid in the finish as it is sweet with fruit up front. Another example fitting for both sipping on its own or pairing with even hefty summer dishes.

• Tangent 2012 Edna Valley Paragon Vineyard Pinot Gris ($17): If they are made from the same variety of grape, why are some called pinot grigio and some pinot gris? Broadly speaking, pinot grigio has come to indicate that the wine has been made in the Italian style, which tends to the light, crisp, simple; pinot gris leans more toward the traditional Alsatian style – denser and more forward and complex. The Tangent measures up to that standard, with a beguiling complexity, spunky cool-climate acidity, and a vein of pineapple to give it a ray of additional sunshine.

• Hahn Winery 2013 Monterey Pinot Gris ($14): As a variant of pinot noir, pinot grigio/pinot gris customarily has a reddish tone to its skins, which often gives the resulting white wine a coppery or brassy tint, as in this case. I liked the rich fruitiness and plump structure of this wine more than the other panelists, but while it is softer than many of the others we tasted it isn’t flabby. It’s a solid introduction to the genre, offering more depth than usually found at this price point.

• Hendry Ranch Wines 2013 Napa Valley Pinot Gris ($18): Now here’s an oddity, a clean, peachy, medium-bodied pinot gris from Napa Valley, widely seen as too warm for the variety. The Hendry family, however, has been farming grapes in Napa Valley for 75 years, and found a block both well shaded from afternoon sun and well cooled by breezes and fog off nearby San Pablo Bay. The result is a well-balanced pinot gris, sunny but not blinding.

• Arbor Brook Vineyards 2013 Willamette Valley Croft Vineyard Pinot Gris ($20): Another entry that shows by its expansive bouquet, lemony and apple flavors, electric current of spice and snappy acidity just why Oregon is the nation’s epicenter for pinot gris. It has a composure rare for the breed, but doesn’t sacrifice the varietal’s industry and verve when it is at its best. The winery recommends that it be paired with Chilean sea bass topped with mango salsa, pork rillette with sliced pears, and citrus-grilled chicken, or served as an aperitif to kick off a party, sound suggestions for any of these wines.

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Cheese Conference Comes to Town Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:44:00 +0000 0 Food Fun at the California State Fair Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:37:00 +0000 0 Preservation & Co. retail shop opens officially on Thursday Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:34:47 +0000
Pickled cucumbers and carrots, hot sauces and other specialty goods will be on sale at Preservation & Co.’s retail shop starting Thursday]]> 0
Sacratomato Week Madness Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:24:38 +0000 Paul Robins samples the tomato dish whipped up by Cafe Bernardo’s Chef Kelly Her in honor of Sacratomato Week. Traci Rockefeller Cusack fills us in on the first-of-its-kind event spotlighting the area’s tomato industry.

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The Press Still Delights Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:04:22 +0000 0 Plum Upside-Down cake Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:44:00 +0000 0 Greater Grass Valley Chamber proposes jeep tours for tourists Tue, 22 Jul 2014 06:42:47 +0000 0 Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Muffins Tue, 22 Jul 2014 06:23:12 +0000 {continue reading}]]> 0 Dining News: Izakaya Daikoku to Replace Sweetwater Grill Tue, 22 Jul 2014 04:31:32 +0000 0 Togo’s Giving Away 10,000 Free Sandwiches Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:11:41 +0000 0 Strawberry Music Festival names performers for Grass Valley Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:57:46 +0000 0 Farm to Fork’s $175-Tower-Bridge-dinner tickets sell out in five minutes Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:00:46 +0000 0 Kindercooks & Books Mon, 21 Jul 2014 18:59:24 +0000 Paul Robins samples some of the baby pancakes made by Kinder-chef, Olivia Hollander Esperas, daughter of Sacramento Natural Food Co-op’s Terese Hollander Esperas. The special dish is based of of the book “If You Give a Pig a Pancake,” by …

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Sacramento woman in the running for Lay’s $1 million potato chip flavor contest Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:00:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 0 San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. to be first American craft brewer to own brewery in Europe Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:37:57 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 0