Friday, March 14, 2008

Homesick For The City

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, it was a real treat to go into the city for meals. From North Beach to Fisherman’s Wharf to Ghirardelli Square I could happily eat my way across town! When I am not able to get there I have my own versions of some of the most famous culinary delights. With my meal, I sip a good Sonoma Pinot and dream of the Marina as the fog rolls in.

Lovely Lisa’s Minestrone

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 yellow onions, diced
6 stalks of celery including leaves, thinly sliced
3 carrots, chopped
1 Tablespoon Italian herbs
Sweat above ingredients in covered large soup pot 5 minutes
Uncover and add
4 cloves garlic, minced
Sauté 5 minutes
12 cups of chicken or veggie stock
3 cups canned chop tomatoes
2 Yukon gold potatoes diced
2 cans 15 oz cannelli beans, drained
1 small head Savoy cabbage, quartered and sliced
Bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes
8 oz pasta of your choice
6 more cups of stock
2 cups green beans cut into 1-inch pieces
Simmer 15 minutes
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese

San Francisco Style Clam Chowder

6 slices bacon, chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped in ½ inch pieces
1 green pepper, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
Splash Tabasco and Worchester Sauce, to taste
2 cups raw clams with juice
2 cups heavy cream
Sauté bacon until crisp in a large stockpot. Add onions, potatoes, green pepper, celery and garlic. Add 2 cups of water and season with salt and pepper, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. In a separate pan heat the clams and their juice for 3 minutes. Add the clams and juice to the pot, pour in the half and half. Heat, stirring until piping hot. Makes 6 servings.

Sourdough Bread

1 cup Starter (see below)
1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
1-teaspoon salt
6-7 cups flour

Let starter come to room temp. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup of warm water. Add sugar and let stand for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rest of the water and the starter. Add four cups of flour. Mix to blend then beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in 2 more cups flour, then add up to 1 cup more to make a stiff dough. Turn dough out on to a board coated with remaining flour. Knead until dough is springy and small bubbles form just under the surface. (15-20 minutes) Or place in bowl of electric mixer fitted withy a dough hook and process for about 10 minutes.) Turn dough into a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
Punch dough down and let rest for a few minutes. Divide into 2 equal parts and shape each one into a ball and place on greased cookie sheets that have been lightly dusted with cornmeal. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour. With a very sharp knife cut a criss-cross in each loaf about 1/4 inch deep. Preheat oven to 400. Bake until golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped about, 1/2 hour.

Sourdough Starter

1 Package dry yeast
1-cup warm water
1 cup warn nonfat milk
2 cups flour

In a medium bowl mix yeast over water. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes. Mix in warm milk. Add flour; mix to blend then beat until smooth. Transfer to a large container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with a towel and let stand at room temperature 24-48 hours. Stir down upon occasion. It will be quite active for several hours after it is prepared. Use starter or refrigerate in a tightly covered container until ready to use.

Basic Chocolate Truffles

12 ounces Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips
1 stick butter
1/2-cup ground chocolate

In a double broiler, melt the chocolate over simmering water, stirring constantly. (Or a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water, just remember to be careful.) Remove from heat. Add butter stirring until melted. Chill until firm enough to form into small round pieces. Roll in ground chocolate. Chill overnight in refrigerator. Makes about 40.

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