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A Press Democrat Blog

Kitchen Talk

Turn up the heat on home cooking

Dreaming of curds and whey at the Artisan Cheese Festival

   The Grand Tasting of the California Artisan Cheese Festival last weekend  offered some  delicious cheese concoctions, with nearly 30 Bay Area chefs and winemakers teaming up for a smorgasbord of bodacious bites and sips.   Some of the best dishes showcased the cheeses of Sonoma and Marin counties, many of them fairly new on the market. Stand-outs included the Crab Mac ’n’ Cheese featuring the Point Reyes Farmstead Toma from Nick’s Cove in Marshall, Valley Ford Cheese Co.’s Estero… Read More »

Sweet ravioli wins Bake-Off

   Christina Verrelli of Devon, Pa.,, was named the grand prize winner of the 45th Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in Orlando today,  taking home the $1 million prize for her dessert, a Pumpkin Ravioli with Salted Caramel Whipped Cream.   There were three finalists from Sonoma County competing in this year’s bake-off:   Sandra Gallant of Forestville, Sindee Morgan of Windsor  and Teresa Smith of Santa Rosa. Morgan and Smith’s dishes were entered in the appetizer category while Gallant’s was in the… Read More »

Feta-mint pasta for cheese lovers

      California’s 6th annual Artisan Cheese Festival will skip into Petaluma this weekend with a basket-full of spring tours and tastings, workshops and seminars on Friday through Sunday. For a complete schedule and to purchase tickets, go to artisancheesefestival.com.    Last year, I grazed through the Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace on Sunday, where the region’s rising star cheesemakers get together under one tent to showcase their hand-crafted products. There are also chef demos scheduled throughout. This recipe comes… Read More »

An Irish alternative to corned beef and cabbage

   Whenever St. Patrick’s Day rolls around again, I stock up on Murphy’s and Guinness and pretend that I’m back in dear, dirty Dublin, where I spent the coldest summer of my life back in 1979.    Back then,  the food scene in the Ireland consisted of lots of mushy peas and mutton, but I do have fond memories of the hearty breakfasts served up at  the  Bewley’s Coffee and Tea shop on O’Connell Street and various bed and breakfasts… Read More »

Etoile’s Perry Hoffman on the rise in F&W people’s poll

                                                                                    Perry Hoffman, executive chef of Etoile Restaurant at Domaine Chandon in Yountville, has been voted “The People’s Best Chef” for California in Food & Wine Magazine.    Hoffman, the grandson of original French Laundry owners  Sally and Don Schmitt,  was also the youngest American chef to be awarded a Michelin star at age 25. Later this year, he will be in the running for the Food & Wine editors’ Best New Chef ranking .    Meanwhile, Tim Byres… Read More »

Contestants, start your ovens

Two of the 45thannual  Pillsbury Bake-off finalists   – Teresa Smith of Santa Rosa and Sandra Gallant of Forestville  -   will  appear on ABC’s 7 Live show at around 3:25 p.m. Thursday, March 15. This year, there are three  finalists from Sonoma County, which may be a first in history.  According to recent records kept by the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest,  there was just one finalist in 2002 (Karen Wetch of Santa Rosa),  two finalists in 1992 ( Patrica Bradley of Rohnert Park… Read More »

Cocktail competition will shake up your world

This is a slow time for parties. With  St. Patrick’s Day still a good 10 days off, there’s no good excuse for  indulging in  some delightfully decadent food and drink.     But wait, did you hear that high-pitched, icy clinking? Is that the sound of a cocktail shaker  that we hear? Straight Up! – a competition for the best vodka cocktail in the North Bay –  has come to save the day.    At 6 p.m. Thursday, you can watch some of… Read More »