Archive for the ‘Unabashed Foodie’ Category.

Juanita and Maude Dinner

Megan and I went to Juanita and Maude, a fancy “American Contemporary” restaurant in Albany a few weeks ago. The entire experience was amazing! The drinks were fun, service fantastic, and the food was a miracle.

We had a sweet potato appetizer that was a surprise hit! Every mouthful had a blast of creaminess, roasted vegetable, and herbs. I ordered grilled cauliflower & eggplant biryani (with saffron basmati / caramelized onion / green chili / raisin & cashew / cardamom yogurt) The thing that blew me away was that each cauliflower floret had all the spice and flavor despite not being drenched in spices! They had apparently infused the oil with all the flavor and drizzled that about. Megan’s mushroom risotto was… glassy?! It was literally translucent and… oh, I can’t describe it, it was amazing!

What a fantastic night out with my wife!


Hard Boiled Eggs in a Pressure Cooker – WIN!

Using my new pressure cooker method, hard-boiled eggs reliably come out of their shells without damage! Before I discovered this method, about 1 in 5 eggs had unsightly tears and 1 in 20 eggs got so chipped and torn, they were essentially unusable. Unacceptable!




– Add about 1 cup of water and up to a dozen large to extra large eggs to the pressure cooker.
– Cook eggs for 1 minute at high pressure (it takes a few minutes to get up to pressure), then let them cool in the pressure cooker naturally at least 7 minutes and up to… I dunno, I’ve left it for 15 minutes and the yolks were only slightly green.
– Put straight into an egg carton and into the fridge to cool for use later.

This method reliably avoids:
– undercooking (the yolk being soft or gooey)
– overcooking (the white being hard, the outside of the yolk turning green)
and most importantly…
– sticky shell (the shell sticking to the white so hard that the white tears when shell is peeled off)

It is a joy to peel them every time! It is still helpful to peel under running water to wash off tiny shell fragments, but not required.

My pressure cooker is a Fagor Lux Multicooker. The manual says it runs at 9psi. Your pressure cooker may be different. For example, the Instant Pot reportedly runs at 15psi, but then I’ve also heard Instant Pots cook slightly slower than the Fagor Lux. Whatever! Experiment a little!

I’ve tried a lot of saucepan timing and temperature methods that kinda-sorta-sometimes work. I tried ice baths before and after cooking. I tried using vinegar in the pot which sometimes helped but wasn’t reliable and boiling vinegar makes the house smell funny. Different pressure cooker timings work but my 1 minute pressure / 7 minute cooldown version is the easiest, most reliable so far!

Thank you Gail for giving us the Fagor Lux pressure cooker!

It’s weird, I don’t remember having this problem when I was younger. Maybe it’s a localized Bay Area chicken problem? I wouldn’t think so because in recent years I’ve had the problem with several different brands of eggs, fresh eggs, older eggs, even fancy organic pasture raised not-debeaked hormone-free etc… etc… eggs. But when we hard boil them in a saucepan, we reliably have 2 out of 12 eggs be a horrible, messy failure! But no more! I am in pressure cooked hard boiled egg heaven!

(This is something of a repost, but my updated method is so much better that I had to share!)

The Best Sourdough Bread I’ve Ever Had

Today I ate the best sourdough I’ve ever had, and it came out of my own oven, from sourdough I cultivated from outside my back porch! It’s a REAL San Francisco Sourdough!

Crusty (but not too crusty!) crust, moist, supple interior, a perfect “tear it in your mouth” crumb, and the sourdough flavor was… indescribable! Dare I say that it tastes more “healthful” than other breads I’ve made and had!



Make a wet dough with flour, water, salt, and sourdough starter. Let it rise 14 hours-ish, cook hot (475… 500) for 50 minutes with a pan of hot water in the oven.



Make sourdough starter, I started with this recipe from King Arthur Flour. What I actually did was: in a mason jar, mix about 3 parts flour, 2 parts water and stir it til it’s all wet. Leave it on the back porch for a couple hours to catch yeasties. Cover it and let it sit in a consistent temperatured, warm part of the house (my kitchen counter). Each day, pour off 1/2 the mixture and add more flour & water. Do this every day for 7 days. Done!

To make the bread:
Put in a big bowl 3 cups water, 1 1/2 cups water, a big o’ gloop of sourdough starter (maybe 1/2 a cup?). Mix with a stick until it’s a big gloopy mess (about 30 seconds?) Cover and let sit for an hour. Pour in 1 1/2 tbsp salt and mix with the stick for 30 seconds. Cover and let sit overnight (I left it from 5pm to 10am.

Preheat oven to 500 (all the better to brown your crust, my dear!). Using sprinklings of flour to keep things from being too gloopy and sticky, shape the dough into… I don’t know… a shape!

Put a pan of hot water in the oven (I’m still not convinced it helps but hey). Cook at 500 for 20 minutes, 425 for 30 minutes, oven off for 20 minutes (I could have left it in for another few minutes but it was coming on lunchtime!)


One remarkable thing is that after eating it, I don’t feel that slightly addiction-y feeling of NEEDing another slice of it. I’m guessing the yeast have done their job so well that I’m eating more yeast and less of all the other stuff that’s in wheat.


Yesterday afternoon I was in the middle of trying to make this bread and I became SOOOO frustrated! I had looked up all kinds of recipes for sourdough… trying to get the percentages of ingredients right, the time and temperature, the kneeding schedule. And I was literally at my wits end! I gave up. All I knew was that some people do a long rise (Hi Jen! Sarah!) and all these recipes had these elaborate strategies for making perfect bread.  (try googling “sourdough bread percentages”, or “best sourdough bread”). I had watched a video the other night from Pro Home Cooks called 15 Mistakes Most Beginner Sourdough Bakers Make and while I was watching it, I was thinking how beautiful and rewarding artisanal bread was. The moment I turned off the video and thought about applying the hundred or so bread-making tips he offered, I knew in my heart that I could never make good bread at home. Never. I knew that it was important, nay, essential that I forget everything he said. I knew I had to just bake. And it worked!


It was wonderful hearing Megan and Abigail chime in with oo’s and ah’s as they ate it!



I was really into bread a few years ago. So much so that I taught bread making classes all over! It was a blast! I stick by my original philosophy of making bread easily (but wow, it’s easy to forget when you watch enough Youtube videos of people making bread!)

Here is the cheat-sheet I made for my class. It’s a terrific primer on bread making: Real Bread in 10 Minutes Cheat Sheet


Hard Boiled Eggs

(UPDATE 4-1-21: follow this recipe instead! It works way better: Hard Boiled Eggs in a Pressure Cooker — WIN!)

Finally, hard boiled eggs that are easy to peel every time!

It drives me crazy that hard boiled eggs are sometimes  easy to peel and sometimes it’s a horrible mess. I’ve tried several methods with spotty success but I think Jenny Chang at BuzzFeed figured it out using the scientific method in her article I Tested Out Popular Tricks To Make Hard-Boiled Eggs Easier To Peel! I’ve used this method 3 times with excellent success. Read her article! Short form:

  • Don’t worry about how old your eggs are
  • Add 1 tbsp of vinegar to about 4 cups of water
  • add eggs to boiling water and cook for 14 minutes
  • chill immediately (I refill the pot with cold water twice)
  • peel as soon as cool

Faux Hollandaise Sauce

Dipping fried egg in a tiny bit of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing tastes JUST LIKE hollandaise sauce! Yum!