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A Press Democrat Blog

Kitchen Talk

Turn up the heat on home cooking

Slow cooking for the hectic season

    Now that we’ve officiallly hit the holiday season (cookies and parties and cards, oh my),   it’s time to look for a few shortcuts in the kitchen.  As a full-time worker bee, one of my favorite time-savers is to pull out “ye olde” slow cooker, a device originally designed for cooking beans that also works wonders on large hunks of meat, such as pork butts and pot roasts.     But have you noticed that most slow cooker recipes out there  call for canned beans,… Read More »

Looking for a few, good Christmas recipes

Who doesn’t love to cook and eat  in the winter?   The weather outside may be frightful, but the kitchen can be absolutely delightful, especially if you’ve got some  tunes on and you’re looking forward to a big, family meal with family and friends.  Do you have any favorite recipes that you like to make during the holidays?  It can be anything from an elegant appetizer to a rustic dessert, a cheesy casserole to a peppery slab of prime rib.… Read More »

Chiarello adds a pinch of drama to Napa festival

                                                                                                                                                 An enthusiastic crowd of 1,300 attended the inaugural Flavor! Napa Valley food and wine festival over the weekend, a three-day affair featuring all of Napa Valley’s finest chefs  along with special guests such as Richard Blais, winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef All-Stars.”     Long-time Napa Valley chef Michael Chiarello of Bottega in Yountville was the driving force behind the festival, so it was a bit of a disappointment to learn upon my arrival on Saturday morning at the… Read More »

Send us your favorite holiday recipes

 Who doesn’t love to cook and eat  in the winter?  Because baby, it’s cold outside. And we’re all looking for a little comfort food to soothe our souls:  roasted root vegetables  caramelizing in the oven,   braised stews steaming up the windows, and  home-baked  breads filling the house with warm memories and aromas.   The weather outside may be frightful, but the kitchen can be absolutely delightful, especially if you’ve got some  tunes on and you’re looking forward to a big, family meal… Read More »

Celebrate abundance with a kale salad

Kale is a wonderfully hearty and healthy cruciferous vegetable, related to the humble cabbage, that tastes best during the winter when  the kiss of frost gives it an extra hint of sweetness. If you’ve got vegetarians coming to your Thanksgiving table, consider making this  Braised and Raw Black Kale Salad from Ubuntu Restaurant in Napa, which is closing for the winter starting Nov. 21. Kale salads have been the darling of farm-to-fork restaurants in the past few years, and this one derives an extra… Read More »

Turkey and potatoes and pie, oh my!

  Thanksgiving is just two weeks away, and already the buzz has started among cooking geeks. How are you going to elevate your mashed potatoes this year? How will you top last year’s cranberry sauce?   If you want to get a jump on the holiday, Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg is offering a couple of hands-on classes this weekend for those looking for new side dishes  and pie crust techniques.    Tracey Shepos of the Kendall-Jackson culinary team will… Read More »

Are you tasting along the wine road?

     There are a limited number of tickets left for the 13th annual A Wine & Food Affair this weekend.  The food-and-wine pairing event  at wineries in the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys costs $70 online  and includes a beautiful cookbook including all the   dishes being served up at the wineries and lodgings. (wineroad.com)        Since the wineries have to feed an expected crowd of 3,000 people, most of the  recipes are ideal for your fall entertaining needs, when… Read More »

Pollan’s new, improved “Food Rules”

   If you saw food writer and U.C. Berkeley  journalism professor  Michael Pollan speak a few years ago at the Baker Creek Seed Bank in Petaluma, then you probably  own a copy of his quirky tome, “Food Rules,” a list of  funny, no-nonsense hints about how to eat well.    A new, hardcover edition of “Food Rules” has just been released, boasting  19 new rules contributed by readers and whimsical illustrations by well-known artist Maira Kalman.   For dieters tempted by leftover Halloween… Read More »

Pinched for time? Try pre-packaged squash

     You may not have money to spare for a European vacation. You may not have a lot of cash to throw around at restaurants. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit your family’s dinner to economy-class macaroni and cheese.  That’s why they invented Trader Joe’s.           Leafing through their newest cookbook, “The I Love Trader Joe’s Around the World Cookbook” by Cherie Merce Twohy,  I was drawn to the recipes for  Muhammara, an Arabic, red pepper-walnut sauce;  Potsticker Soup,  perfect for chilly… Read More »