Monday, October 10, 2011

Supper Club - Austro-Hungarian

Hungarian Herend

October 1 the Supper Club Marin gathered together for a feast from the Austria-Hungary region.  We were lucky to have someone with us whose background was Hungarian, having four grandparents from Hungary.  She brought this lovely Herend porcelain piece which company is named after the Hungarian village where it originated.


We started with appetizers, and Lana brought this lovely Liptauer (Hungarian Cheese Spread) that we munched while chatting in the kitchen while the chefs put last touches on many of the dishes following.


Tom M put lots of care into these tasty Irinka-Povarenok (Hungarian Chopped Liver) which were the first things served as we sat down.


Kathleen hand made the dumplings which went into the Leberknödelsuppe (Liver Dumpling Soup) as well as simmered soup bones and caramelized onions to make the complex soup.  The liver dumplings included liver, saltines and lard among other ingredients.

Gebackene Kohlsprossen

Bonnie and Barry brought a side dish to accompany the mains.  Barry made the Gebackene Kohlsprossen (Brussels Sprouts with Ham and Mushrooms) and people exclaimed that these were the best Brussel sprouts that they had ever tasted!  This was the lone dish of Austrian origins.  All the other chefs chose Hungarian dishes.

Hortobágyi Palatschinken - 1

Emil made Hortobágyi Palatschinken (Savory Hungarian crepes) which were filled with a savory pork and veal mixture.

Hortobágyi Palatschinken - 2

And here is what the center of the Hortobágyi Palatschinken looks like.

Hungarian Goulash

Connie brought Hungarian Goulash.  The first time she made it, it had more of a burnt than smokey taste, so she made it all over again and varied from the directions to obtain this smooth and silky stew of perfection.

Oxtail Stew

Juliette brought the Oxtail Stew.  She had grown up with oxtail stew and was surprised at how hard it is now to find oxtails to cook with.  The sauce was reminiscent of a barbecue sauce, with ketchup and mustard among the ingredients.

Mashed Potatoes

Juliette also brought the mashed potatoes that were still sporting thei skins.  It made the perfect foil for the mails.


Tom H explained about  his quest to find an authentic recipe for his dish, and found an extraordinary number of variations.  The Csirkepaprikas (Chicken Paprikas) he chose tasted great!

Uborka Saláta

Janice made Uborka Saláta (Hungarian Cucumber Salad) which was also done according to direction to be its authentic Hungarian self.  This dish got lots of raves!

Bill's contribution was of Austrian origin, a Salzburg beer - Stiegl Goldbrau Premium Lager.  Ir was described as smooth, refreshing and delicious!

Havasi Kifli

Then we rolled around to desserts, starting with Karen's Havasi Kifli (Hungarian Nut Crescents).  These melted on your tongue and were perfect with the expresso served with dessert.

Szilvas Gomboc

The final dish was Stephanie's Szilvas Gomboc (Plum Dumplings) which had a potato based dough around a  fresh plum.  The packet was steamed, then rolled in a breadcrumb and spice (cinnamon among the spices) mixture and topped with sour cream.  Delicious and necessarily heavy.  Food to eat in the dead of winter to keep warm in Hungary for sure!


And finishing off the dessert was my contribution of Zwack liqueur, a Hungarian digestif. It was created by Dr. József Zwack, the Royal Physician to Emperor Joseph II in 1790, and the first liqueur commerically produced in Hungary.  It has more than 40 herbs and spices in its recipe.

As our custom, each chef told a story of their dish's origin or special cooking notes - whether true or not!  The purpose is to have fun and that we did.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Beautiful Sausalito Sunday

Sausalito View from Main St.

I was following up on a story for this week's Bread and Butter, and had to shoot this beautiful glimpse of Sausalito from Main Street yesterday.  I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend, where ever you may be!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An Enchanted Evening

The Tavern at Lark Creek

A friend and I decided to try an evening at The Tavern at Lark Creek when Chef Bradley Ogden was making a guest appearance.  I'll bottom line it here: Chef Ogden is making a guest appearance one more time this summer, and it's a great opportunity for a delicious evening!  More details on the last opportunity on August 25 at the end of the post.

Years before I moved to Marin, I came to the bay area on frequent business trips.  I remember driving by the grove of Redwoods by the the Lark Creek Inn, and thinking it was the patch that reminded me most of my hometown area north of Seattle.  It was what attracted me to put Marin at the top of my list when I was transferred here and was looking for a home.  And finally I was eating under this very grove!  

It was such a pleasant evening, the weather was just right and the setting was elegant.  My friend chose to go with Chef Ogden's prix fixe $35 menu.  

Heirloom Tomato Salad

So she started with the Organic Cucumber and Heirloom Tomato Salad, as did I.  This was exquisite!  So fresh and bursting with flavor!


The next course on the special prix fixe menu was Mom's Meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and Blue Lake Beans.  My friend raved about this dish.  She reported that the meatloaf seemed to be made out of delicious and tender steak, very meaty.  And the potato flavor of the potatoes actually showed through beautifully.  And the beans had a nice snap.

Idaho Rainbow Trout

I diverged to try one of the regular menu items, Idaho Rainbow Trout, brown butter, hazelnuts and  zucchini hazelnut salad with sauce gribiche.  It was delicious, and I especially was interested in the zucchini salad as it was so tender.  I wasn't sure if it were steamed or just lightly marinated.

My menu questions were answered since both Chef Ogden Bradley and Chef Aaron Wright came out and strolled among the tables to introduce themselves and find out how guests were enjoying their meals.  Chef Bradley mentioned that the zucchini were lightly marinated.  Chef Wright and I chatted about Canlis in Seattle where he once was chef, and I knew from growing up in the area.

Cheesecake Brulee

Instead of the Caramel Swirl Angel Food Cake with plum and blueberry compote that would be the finale of the prix fixe menu, my friend chose the Lemon Cheesecake Brulée, with peach coulis, and strawberries.  I took a taste; it was remarkable.  Creamy with distinct flavors of peach and strawberries with the cooling sensation of lemon.

Strawberry Shortcake

I chose the Strawberry Shortcake, with vanilla cream biscuit, mascarpone, and fresh berries.  It was a great old fashioned version.  Growing up in what once was the strawberry capital of the world (Marysville, Washington) summer isn't summer unless you've enjoyed one of these.

The Redwood grove was cooling off, and my friend and I had a leisurely and delicious evening.  Our waiter even quoted us a poem in perfect cadence.  What a night!

What I missed was going to the market that morning with the chefs.  August 25th one can start the day by meeting up with the chefs at the Marin Farmers Market at the Star Route Farms booth at 9:30 a.m.  Shop together and get tips on picking the best produce.  In the evening will the final dinner with Chef Ogden, reservations recommended.  The menu for the 25th is:

Corn Chowder with corn and shrimp fritter, parsley pesto
Grilled Albacore Tuna with warm tomato bread salad and tomato basil sauce
Coconut Cake with buttermilk ice cream
Watermelon Margarita (for an additional $9.50)

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 1
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 3/22/2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Supper Club - Thailand

Khai Luuk Khuey (son-in-law eggs)

After a rather long absence from the Supper Club Marin, I was able to join in last night for the Thailand theme.  We are a group of both professional chefs and advance home cooks who love to cook and share.  We meet about every 6 weeks and bring a dish around a theme chosen after the previous dinner.  We particularly enjoy geographic themes and sharing a story or piece of history about the dish or culture.  Naturally I brought my camera for this to capture the beautiful dishes prepared by all.  Wish that I could have also captured the aromas!  Thailand food has some wonderful scents!  Here is a pictorial view of the delicious dinner with the name of the dish and the chef behind it!  I added some notes where the photo isn't self-explanatory.


Meang Khum (betel leaf wraps)

Meang Khum (betel leaf wraps - Malabar spinach substituted) - Tom H. Tom couldn't find betel leaves, so found this interesting Malabar spinach.  It is a bit misnamed as it is not in the spinach family at all, but a tropical vine.  The taste is mild and spinach-like however.

Khai Luuk Khuey (son-in-law eggs)

Khai Luuk Khuey (son-in-law eggs) - Tom M. Tom did not know the origin of the name 'son-in-law eggs', but these deep fried boiled eggs with a pleasant sauce were delicious anyway!  I did a little research this morning and found that "Almost Bourdain" has some interesting possible stories.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce - Victoria.  Victoria elevated this chicken by putting a spice rub on the chicken and making a peanut sauce that balances sweet and salty deliciously. 


Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad - James.  Not satisfied that any of the recipes he found really captured the best Thai beef salad, James took elements from several that he thought made one that matched his favorite Thai beef salad tastes.

Som Tam (green papaya salad)

Som Tam (green papaya salad) - Eddie.  Eddie learned that green papaya is not merely an unripe papaya, but actually a type.  He brought in a green papaya and another variety and taught us about the differences.

Side Dishes

Vegetable Curry with Coconut Milk

Vegetable Curry with Coconut Milk - Janis. This mixture of vegetables was so bright and the taste of fresh spices rang through.

Jasmine Rice

Jasmine Rice - Bill O.  Yes, a bowl of rice doesn't look like much, but if I could put a 'smell' button here people would really get the aromatics of good Jasmine rice which was imported from Thailand.  We learned that a very high percentage of the Thai population is involved in rice making.


Dry Beef Curry with Peanut and Lime

Dry Beef Curry with Peanut and Lime - Gillian/Richie.  This beef was so tender and the mix of peanuts and lamb was far better on the tongue than I imagined.

Basil Eggplant

Basil Eggplant - Anna.  I made this classic Thai basil eggplant diesh.  I used tamari and rice wine instead of fish sauce and granulated sugar to add some complexity and keep it a vegan dish.

Pad See Ew (River Noodles with Beef and Broccoli)

Pad See Ew (River Noodles with Beef and Broccoli) - Kim.  Kim found FRESH rice noodles for this dish, and the noodles were so soft and absorbent of the mellow sauce.

Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry - Bonnie/Barry.  Bonnie hand selected fresh spices to make fresh curry for this chicken based dish.  It also was one of the most fragrant smelling of the dishes and delightfully fresh.


i Banana Flambé with Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream

Thai Banana with Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream - Stephanie.  Stephanie used both rice and corn starch for the batter base along with some 5-spice.  This was a wonderful dessert to end the meal with.

Supper Club - Marin

And a group shot of the table as we were settling in for the first course of Thai appetizers.  Next up is the Eastern Himalayas in July.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Tofu Mozzarella

Tofu mozzarella

My friend Sachiko explained how to make this fabulous vegan tofu 'mozzarella' dish over dinner on a recent visit from Japan.

Tofu Mozzarella

1 block silken tofu (must be silken)
Paper towels (4 piece long, unbroken)
Plastic wrap

1 heirloom tomato, chopped
handful of fresh basil, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Basalmic vinegar


  1. Start the morning before the day you wish to use it.
  2. Carefully rinse and drain the silken tofu, handling carefully as it breaks easily.
  3. Put an unbroken strip of about 4 paper towels on a plate.
  4. Carefully put the silken tofu on the paper towel strip, towards the beginning end.
  5. Lightly salt the tofu on all sides.
  6. Carefully wrap the tofu in the paper towel strip by rolling.
  7. Carefully wrap the paper towel encased tofu in plastic wrap.
  8. Place wrapped tofu on plate.
  9. Chill in refrigerator all day and overnight.
  10. The next morning, carefully take off the wrapping, and throw away the wet paper towels, reserving the plastic wrap.
  11. Carefully rewrap the now shrunken tofu block in another strip of 4 paper towels.
  12. Rewrap the paper towel encased tofu, put back on plate and into the refrigerator
  13. Just before serving in the evening, take it out, remove all wrapping, place on plate.
  14. You can leave it whole and pour on the sauce, or did as above and slice it in thin slices and spread out slightly so more sauce is absorbed.
  15. Pour the sauce over the tofu and serve.
Sauce Directions

  1. Combine chopped tomato and basil in a plastic bag that zips tight.
  2. Pour in EVOO and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Let sit 30 minutes.
  4. Pour over the sliced tofu.
Alternatively, you can put the freshly chopped tomato and basil over the tofu, then drizzle on the EVOO and balsamic vinegar.  The pictured dish uses the baggie approach as I took the dish to a birthday party to share and the bagged approach made transport and assembly easier.

I also think that this 'cured' tofu would take to other sauces well.  It has the consistency of fresh mozzarella cheese, very tender and mild.  I'm thinking of trying a miso/sesame sauce over it for example.

What I've been up to lately

I had a great evening with my friend who writes Zoomie Station having dinner at Harmony in Mill Valley and attending Michael Pollan's "Sun Food Agenda" at the Marin Civic Center on March 24.  He is entertaining and informative (as expected) and worth the effort to procure tickets and move yourself to where ever he is speaking within a reasonable distance of you.

I take my reporting for food news for Bread and Butter for the Marin IJ seriously but with a light hearted pen, and do a lot of research for each column, which lessens my time to blog all the cool finds I come across.  I feel lucky to live in Marin where there are always new and cool things percolating up to the surface.

I have had numerous computer glitches, failures and other disasters, the most recent being a near loss of the back up and only copy of files on a computer that failed.  So it was no longer the back up, but the primary storage.  It failed, and my friends at Drive Savers recovered 90%, and I picked it up with my $2100 miniature flashlight last Wednesday.  Now I'm making back ups of my back ups as I don't need any  more $2100 recoveries even if they come with a cute flashlight.  Naturally it had my photos, so now I can work on posting some cool finds in between my journalistic research and other life activities.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Napa's Domain Chandon: Snippets of Cook with Books Event

Some beautiful photos and moods from Domain Chandon, and a Book Passage "Cooks with Books" snippet about the new "Domain Chandon Cookbook".

Today's rain is encouraging me to curl up in a blanket and enjoy browsing cookbooks!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some ideas from our Mill Valley neighbor Tyler Florence

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweet treat - Happy Valentine's Day

Anna's belated lemon birthday cake

Yes, I'm here.  No swine flu excuse, just general life happenings and working hard at writing a newsworthy column for the Marin Independent Journal once a week.

Happy Valentine's Day to all.  My sweet niece Aurelia made me a birthday cake on Saturday, delicious!  Lemon with lemon sour cream frosting.  And those fresh raspberry decorations were also good.  Our households have had the minor but long lasting 'bugs' going around on alternating weeks so it just took this long for us all to get together.

I have had a few food adventures I've been wanting to share, and I'll be doing a major clean up of the site -- so many restaurant openings and closings!

I hope you all have all the love you want for this special day!