Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Kim Laidlaw is a cookbook author, editor, food writer, producer, project manager, and baker who has been in the kitchen covered in flour since she was big enough to stir the biscuit dough. She has over 16 years of experience in book and online publishing, and a lifetime of experience in the kitchen.
Her first cookbook, Home Baked Comfort, was published in 2011; her second cookbook, Baby & Toddler On the Go, was published in April 2013; and her third cookbook, Williams-Sonoma Dessert of the Day, was published in October 2013.
She was the first blogger on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog, which launched in 2005, and previously worked as a professional baker at La Farine French Bakery in Oakland, CA. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and their toddler, whom she cooks for everyday. Find out more at http://www.kimlaidlaw.com.
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This Sunday marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet Robert Burns, a night beloved in the hearts of the Scots, but relatively unknown to most Americans. For those of you uninitiated in Burns Night, it is a celebration in honor of good ol’ Rabbie Burns, and, in true Scottish style, it is bathed in whisky and delicious haggis, neeps, and tatties.
So there we were, at the bar and in need of a cocktail. After a few libations piqued my interest, and I found myself being indecisive, I asked the bartender what he’d suggest. “Oh, definitely the Celeraic, it’s really good and interesting.” Hrm. But what about the egg white? I’m not so sure of that. Is it slimy? I could just imagine it slithering down my throat. Blech. He assured me it wasn’t like that. Based on their reputation, I decided to trust him. Every eye at the bar was on him when he was making my Celeraic, a bit of gin, some lemon, pineapple juice, the suspicious egg white, all topped off and finished with a spritz of bitters…
I’ve finally gone and done it. I killed my sourdough starter. It had a very well-meaning life, and when it was good, it was really superb (in my pizza dough). It was strong, at least in it’s youth. But the other morning, when I was clearing out the refrigerator in preparation for Christmas, I came across it, pushed into the back of the fridge, forlorn and forgotten. How could I?
My brother planted way too much butternut squash this year. He has so much butternut squash that he doesn’t know what to do with all of it. He has so much butternut squash that he laid down the law that it must play a starring role in our annual over-the-top, overly decadent, planned-for-months-in-advance, Christmas feast.
So, being the loving and caring sister that I am, I’ve been on a quest for lip-smacking, mouth-watering, not-your-run-of-the-mill recipes that contain butternut squash. Beyond the obvious (yet delicious) array of butternut squash soups and pureed or roasted butternut side dishes, I’ve discovered butternut gnocchi, a world of curries containing the squash (particularly Thai red beef curry or green pork curry, and an amazing Indian curry with chickpeas), roasted squash salads both warm and cold, and an array of pasta dishes. One of my favorite pasta discoveries was a lasagna recipe by Jamie Oliver, which in turn, inspired this recipe.
My dog Luna eats better than I do. It’s not to say that I don’t eat well, but she eats Superfood.
Once upon a time, not very long ago, she ate high-quality kibble. She hated it. Mealtime was spent coaxing, pleading, and trying any means necessary to get her to eat. It was a battle of wills, a struggle of stubbornness, and she usually won. Winning meant a scoop of cottage cheese or a bit of chicken mixed into her kibble. She’s really not a stupid dog, and knew if she held out, we’d eventually give in. Even so, she’d still poke around and begrudgingly eat it.
So by now, you’ve gone shopping, gathered your wares, and hopefully if you are reading this, you are well along in the cooking process (if not, get off the computer and get busy!). But what do you do if it all goes horribly wrong…?
Ok, I’m not trying to be doom and gloom here. And I’m not talking about familial relations, you are on your own there. But in the food and feast arena, it is nice to be armed with a few helpful hints when you are juggling a minimum of six different dishes in the kitchen. Something is bound to not be perfect. So what do you do?
When it’s pouring raining, grim and blustery, cold and dark, and frankly dreadful outside, my idea of the perfect day is one where I’m home, warm and happy. The windows are all steamed up, I put on some good music, and I start baking. And cooking. In fact, I’m happiest if I have about 4 different things going at once.
This summer I made a vow to get over to the farmers’ market—any farmers’ market—once a week. For the most part I’ve managed to do it. And for the past 3 or 4 months I’ve purchased a bag of fresh ripe tomatoes each week. Ever since they hit the market, I’ve been obsessed. And now I’m in a downright panic, as they are on their way out.
Having just recently returned from the UK, I am currently obsessed with a dessert that is considered, by many of my British friends and family, “nursery food.” I am speaking of bread and butter pudding. At its best, bread and butter pudding is both crispy and creamy, sweet and salty, simple and comforting, with just the right amount of butter, enough custard to soak through the layers of bread, a few sprinkles of raisins, and a toasty golden brown top. (At its worst it’s a soggy, insipid, flavorless blob with too many raisins, but we don’t have to go there.)
It’s that time of year again…when the leaves start to turn, a chill wind blows through the air…
Wait. No. Not here. It’s still summer (or at least it feels like it)! But even though we live in a warm little bubble here in the Bay Area at this time of year, technically autumn has arrived. And with it, an event that I always look forward to: WhiskyFest!
Every year, I look forward to the real fig season–figs have two seasons: the first, in early summer, is fleeting and generally unremarkable; the second one takes place late in the summer. And yes, folks, it’s that time of year again. Late summer. My favorite moment in food time, when tomatoes and basil and zucchini and cucumbers and peppers and stone fruit and even berries are still prolific in the farmers’ market, and each week, there are more shell beans and succulent delicious figs on display. But it’s the figs that send me into squeals of joy, and when I bite into a perfectly ripe fig, perfect bliss.
This post’s recipe is for a zucchini tart, because I can’t seem to stop loading up on them each week at the market. But to make this an any-kind-of-vegetable tart, replace the zucchini with about 1/2 cup sautéed leeks; blanched asparagus, green beans or chopped broccoli or cauliflower; freshly cooked chopped spinach or other greens; fresh, chopped tomatoes; fresh corn kernels; or a mixture of any of these. You can also add a sprinkle of fresh herbs, like basil, marjoram, oregano, chives, or swap out the cheeses for your favorite.
Summer’s bounty is upon us in full force, demanding our attention, and there is nothing I like more than a simple farmers’ market supper — as fresh as you can get, barely cooked, with very little fuss.
I’ve compiled some of my favorite market meals of late here. These are not so much recipe as they are ideas, so there may or may not be exact measurements because frankly, when you are doing something this simple, you really don’t need a recipe. Don’t be intimidated by cooking like this, just keep tasting as you go…