Monday, July 6, 2015

BETTER THAN KETCHUP

FORGET KETCHUP. If you want to kick up your hashbrowns, burgers, hot dogs or stir-fries, grab a bottle of Chung Jung One Gochujang Korean Chili Sauce. The sauce, just introduced at Lucky Supermarkets, is a sweet-spicy fermented condiment that's like a cross between ketchup and sriracha.
In Korea, gochujang is found in every market -- and on nearly every restaurant table. Even fast-food restaurants offer it in squeeze bottles.
In Korea, some versions are super-hot. Others are mild enough to eat by the spoonful. This Chung Jung version, concocted with the help of chef Edward Lee, is a mild, and slightly sweeter than most; a perfect gochujang for those new to Korean flavors.
If you've never tried this sauce and want to give it a try, here are some ideas: Squeeze a dollop into Asian soup. Add it to stir-fry. Drizzle it inside your panini. Slip a dash into coleslaw.


 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

FERMENTED ADVENTURES

NO, I AM not going into the business of making wine. Not going to happen. Don't get me wrong. The adventure of making a batch of Pinot Noir courtesy Northern Brewer was awesome. The kit includes everything you need and great instructions.
I start by rinsing and re-rinsing all of my giant containers with special sterilizing solution, then pouring juice into the giant plastic carboy to ferment.
Gorgeous juice. And a lot of it. Since I watched the video that's provided, I know that I will need to drain the juice into another container -- and that there is no way I could ever move that thing once it's full -- I position it on a chair in advance of filling.
The first ferment goes very smooth. The transfer is simple with the siphon hose. Then  I wait. And wait. Weeks go by. Children come to visit. The giant vat of wine calls to them. Good thing it is too heavy to tip over. After testing and re-testing -- and tasting and re-tasting -- the wine is finally ready for bottling.
Since I am way too cheap to buy bottles, I spend two hours washing, de-labeling and sterilizing 30 bottles. I am set! Now for the hard part. I add the stabilizers to the ferment and get to the business of bottling. Tricky. The bottles have to be full, but not too full. The stream of wine is non-stop. Yikes. A few spills, one bottle tips over, but the bottles are all full. Next, I have to cork the wine bottles. I try to use the red corker to press the pre-soaked corks into the bottles. Are you kidding me? The corks -- so much bigger than the neck of the bottle -- refuse to go into the bottles. After an hour or so, I figure out a workaround and get them to enter the bottles, but they won't plunge down. Solution? A hammer. I literally hammerthem into place. How I don't shatter the bottles is a miracle.
(DON'T STOP READING NOW!) (Sometimes you have to wait for it.)
I clean up the big mess, all of the little spills and collapse on the sofa. Within 30 minutes, I hear a giant boom. I bolt off the sofa to find that one of the bottles has EXPLODED all over the carpet. The bottom of the bottle completely blew out! Nervous, I move all bottles to a spill-proof area. Then I decide to taste the wine. Wow! It tastes like soap. Not kidding.
I went online and learned that the taste is due to the stabilizer that the kit tells you to add just before bottling and that the flavor might age out. Waiting. It's been about 4 months. My wine rack is full... of soapy wine.
I am not a winemaker.

 


Thursday, July 2, 2015

LOVELY BITE

Lovely Candy founder Jackie Nakamura
REAL CANDY THAT'S really good. That's the goal of  The Lovely Candy Co., a company that specializes in hand-crafted, chewy style candies. After a taste-through of the company's sweet offerings, it appears it has hit the mark.
From licorice to caramels to their irresistable Superfruit Chews, all of their candies are a big win -- and a big improvement over the mainstream offerings. Those fruit chews are my personal favorite -- they're so pretty, with real bits of blueberry, cranberry & raspberry, and they have that tart-sweet magic that makes you want more. The best news? Seven pieces have only 160 calories and 2 grams fat. The candies can be found at Target and some Whole Foods, but you can also order online at www.lovelycandyco.com  $4.99 for 6 oz.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

CHEAP EATS

SHHHH! DON'T TELL my Indian friends, but I really like those Chef Ernesto samosas that the sell at the Dollar Tree Stores. For one dollar, there are two smallish samosa and a little packet of sauce. Freezer to microwave to mouth in 5 minutes. Yum!
I am pretty sure that if I ate them often I would gain weight, but in a pinch, these vegetarian snacks are a solid pick -- and worth having in my freezer. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

SAY YES TO THE BREAD

I HAD TO TASTE it before I could say for sure... I did and it's true: Dave killed it again. Dave's Killer Bread has just added two great new items to it's lineup: Buns and extra-thin bread. The buns, just in time for BBQ season, are bonafide whole-grain buns. They're packed with lots of grains and nuts and such, and have just the right structure to hold a hefty burger. They're called Million Dollar Buns.
The other addition is also genius -- the same bread, but a whole lot thinner. At just 60 calories per slice, it's easier to say "Yes" to the bread and still fit into your skinny jeans.
photo courtesy Brioche Pasquier
NOT QUITE AS HEALTHY, but good for those who like to treat themselves to fancy white bread is the newly released line-up of Brioche Pasquier breads from France -- including croissants, chocolate filled croissants and loaves that would make killer bread pudding or French toast. The breads can be found at Safeway.

Friday, June 19, 2015

PASS THE PASO (wine)

PASO ROBLES IS finally getting its due. It is being noticed in a big way thanks to creative and hilarious  marketing via www.pasowine.com (check out the paso wine man videos from a few years back) -- and some of the best affordable wines produced in the state of California. When shopping for California wine, it's easy to get sidetracked into buying wines from the more high-profile Napa or Sonoma, or from the gigantic Central Coast, which dominates the category.Those wines sport their own greatness, of course, but if you love wine, it's worth seeking out Paso Robles wines on a regular basis. Why? Because the region is so perfect for growing a ridiculous range of grapes that the wines are very likely to please. 
Case in point: Josh Cellars. The company reps invited me to check out their Cabernet. I know Paso yields amazing Pinot Noirs. But Cabernet? After tasting, I have to say YES! Cabernet. The wine is rich and dense, with bursts of toast and blueberries. It's one of those wines that you sip and ask, "Wait -- what did this wine cost?" The answer: $15.99. Talk about Cabernet bang for your buck. The wine can be found at Quik Stop markets.