First, just a reminder that Sunday, August 28, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Friends gave us a bunch of really awesome Meyer Lemons. What better to do than to turn them into Lemon Merengue Pie?

Stillwater Autumnal

This deep amber hued ale takes it’s inspiration from Germany while still nodding to the Belgian farmhouse tradition. The base is comprised of German two-row, wheat, Cara-Munich, and roasted barley. Generously hopped with a blend of Perle, Spalt, and Hallertau Mittelfrüh and fermented with a rustic Belgian farmhouse ale yeast. These elements together provide a melange of earth and fruit aromas backed with hints of caramel with a dry clean finish.

I hadn’t researched a lot about Stillwater, aside from trying a couple of their bottles when I saw them in liquor stores. Interestingly, turns out, the brewer is a “Gypsy Brewer”. He rents overflow capacity from breweries and then visits and brews collaborative brews with them.

‘Gypsy Brewer’ Spreads Craft Beer Gospel (on npr)

We’d tried their sage spiked Saison Cellar Door before, but I think we liked Autumnal even more. It was pleasing and easy to drink.

Risking life, limb and fingertips running some amazing patty pan squash through the ceramic mandolin.

Balsamic vinaigrette, marjoram, arugula, and small tomatoes.

On the plate!

Roasted a pork tenderloin on top of a winter squash with onions and potatoes.

Got advice on this wine from one of the wine guys at K&L Wines. 29 Songs is a big ass Northern California Syrah, juicy and delicious. The wine guy suggested it, “wasn’t exactly a food wine,” but we enjoyed it with our dinner anyway.

Unfortunately, the lemon meringue pie didn’t turn out quite as well as I was hoping. For some reason the custard didn’t quite set. On the other hand, the Meringue was awesome. Ah well, nothing wrong with Lemon flavored version of, “œufs à la neige” in a pie crust! Great dinner anyway!

Bachelor Night 03

From Drop Box

Of course the way to start some quality Dog Boy weekend time is to take a trip to Fort Funston! Happy Dog, Happy Man!

Then fry some leftover baked potatoes with onions. Fried potatoes, not hard. Why do they suck most of the time in restaurants?

And serve the fried potatoes with leftover hamburgers on a toasted English Muffin.

From Drop Box

Some time passes. What would a Bachelor Afternoon be without a nap? Anyway, dinner for one at Gialina. Roast Chicken Breast with a Panzanella salad and a glass of wine. We’ve been going to Gialina nearly once a week since it opened and it remains about our favorite nearby restaurant.

Somehow ending up in Berkeley of all places, at the Albatross Pub, with friends, recently re-arrived in the Bay Area.

From Drop Box

They do have tasty beer at Albatross Pub, who can complain about Moonlight Brewing‘s Bombay by Boat?

BART back to San Francisco, and another night gone.

I guess “Sucker Punch” will have to wait until tomorrow.

Bachelor Night 01

A lot of people have recently been posting Dean Martin’s recipe for “Martin Burgers” on their sites, dug up by Letters of Note:


1 lb. ground beef
2 oz. bourbon–chilled

Preheat a heavy frying pan and sprinkle bottom lightly with table salt. Mix meat, handling lightly, just enough to form into four patties. Grill over medium-high heat about 4 minutes on each side.

Pour chilled bourbon in chilled shot glass and serve meat and bourbon on a TV tray.

Well, obviously, we’re in California in the second decade of the 2000s, so we’ll need to mess with that a bit.

Start by slicing some heirloom tomatoes.

Follow your favorite recipe for burgers, mine involves bread crumbs, dry vermouth, spanish paprika, thyme, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. Form your meat into patties. I like dividing a pound of burger meat into 3 patties. Heat a pan or start the grill.

Rent an appropriate movie. Preferably something about which your partner said, “That sounds dumb!” and about which you thought, “Yeah, that does sound kind of dumb, but cool!” I was thinking of Avatar, but it just seemed too woosy, and possibly too dumb, even for me.

Start cooking your burgers.

While they are cooking, add a tablespoon (or to taste) of rich simple syrup to a rocks glass. Squeeze a quarter size piece of orange peel into the syrup and drop into the glass. Add ice. Add 2 oz Bourbon and stir until well chilled.

Toast a bun or English Muffin. Spread one side with mayonnaise and the other with dijon mustard. Put some greens on the mayonnaise side and a slice or two of tomato. On top of this place the cooked burger. Cover top with mustard side, cut and enjoy. If you’re feeling particularly hungry, a baked potato is a nice accompaniment.

Pop in the video and enjoy.

BOTW–Double Trouble & Chilayo

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

When I was growing up, my sister and I weren’t really allowed into the kitchen. Basically, about the only things we were allowed to do were load and unload the dishwasher and decorate Christmas cookies. Especially since the family roles were very traditional, even if I displayed some interest in cooking, men were really only allowed to grill things outdoors in our house.

Consequently, I was sent off to college with very little idea of how to feed myself. I survived the first couple years on dorm food, Ramen, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

But then I went and spent what little money I had saved on Comic Books and Records, so I had to get a job. I also needed to an apartment outside of the dorms, so I didn’t have to spend summers at home with my parents.

I really don’t remember how I ended up getting a job at Brat und Brau, I don’t think it was anything more than a random job application submission. Anyway, after they determined that I was unsuited for service work, I was assigned to the job of getting the dining room in order for lunch service, including setting up the salad bar and popping the corn.

Somehow, I parlayed this experience at Brat und Brau into a job as a prep cook in the catering department of a local deli chain.

It was there that I realized that I really enjoyed cooking. I mean at first I didn’t make anything more complicated than my typical bachelor food: fried potatoes with bacon, eggs, and cheese, but I sort of sunk into it and started to absorb the business and culture.

I’d always felt a bit like an outsider, and the people at the catering company were people I felt more comfortable with than a lot of the friends I had grown up with. They were outsiders. In the 1980s and 1990s, cooking was not yet really a reputable career, and my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with this new direction. I even tried to drop out of college my junior year and just cook, but they wouldn’t let me, “We’ve paid for your tuition this far, you WILL graduate.”

Anyway, I did eventually graduate, with a lovely and useful Bachelor of Arts in English, but as soon as I had finished college, I went into cooking full time at a local Southwestern Restaurant.

At the Southwestern restaurant, I was initially thrilled, this was really good food. Or, well, it seemed to be at the time. But then I started reading about actual Southwestern and Mexican Food, Mark Miller and Diana Kennedy were my first two big authors, and realized what we were serving was, well, not that good. A mishmash of Italian-American comfort food and Southwestern food, even though we were using decent ingredients, it bore no resemblance to any of the dishes I made from Ms. Kennedy nor even Mr. Miller.

Along with the early influences of Ms. Kennedy, Mr. Miller, and the Chinese Food Books of Nina Simonds, one of the people who has been most influential on me later in life is Alton Brown.

I always really like people who get down to the basics and demystify things that seem too complicated. Or, well, things that other people have made seem too complicated. Sure, cooking is complicated, but there are methods which allow us to understand it, and even generally end up with predictable outcomes.

I really like that he has always been on the side of demystifying food from a technical perspective, but not only that, but that he has championed American Food and Food Culture. He even seems like a sensible man.

I recently learned that Alton Brown has decided to stop producing new episodes of his Good Eats show on the Food Network, after a mere 249 segments and something like 10 years. Get sad about the end of a TV show? Especially one on the Food Network? Seems a little pathetic. But, I am. You can make fun of me now.

The first beer this week, is the Orchard White from the Bruery.

Orchard White is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned Belgian-style witbier. This hazy, straw yellow beer is spiced with coriander, citrus peel and lavender added to the boil and whirlpool. A spicy, fruity yeast strain is used to add complexity, and rolled oats are added for a silky texture.

I didn’t read the label at first, and was like, “What’s that flavor?” Put on my glasses, checked the fine print. Oh right, Lavender. Well, at 5% ABV or so, the Orchard White is easy drinking and enjoyable. Spiced Wit Beers are not generally my favorite Belgian style, but this isn’t bad, despite the Lavender, maybe on a hot day, when you’re feeling a little floral. Interestingly, I recently read that the Bruery is reorganizing its beer production and varieties, and to make room for other things in its schedule will be discontinuing the Orchard White.

Monty, however, is not impressed, with all this boring monkey talk about beer and food preparation. Until all this blah blah is over, he will be waiting on his chair at the table.

The second beer is Hops on Rye from Firehouse Brewing. I really know zilch about this beer and brewery other than a friend recommended it to us. Looks like it is brewed at a sports bar chain which has locations in East Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. The beer isn’t bad, a Rye based IPA, but I think Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye is a more, uh, elegant example of this style. Mrs. Flannestad enjoyed it more than I, it seemed just a little unpolished to me.

One of the first dishes I made from Diana Kennedy’s “Art of Mexican Cooking” was a pork stew called Chilayo. Like most Mexican dishes, there’s a bit of semi-labor intensive prep on the front end, and then its pretty easy. Preheat your oven to 300. Basically, soak some chiles in boiling water, then puree them with onions, garlic, and spices. While that is going on, cut up some pork stew meat (this was a very nice piece of Kurobota pork shoulder from Avedano’s Holly Park Market), pour warm water (or stock) over it, start it simmering. Add the pureed chiles and a half pound of quartered tomatillos. Cover and move to the oven and cook until the pork is tender. I served it with Rancho Gordo Cranberry Beans (cooked with a ham hock), Plain Brown Rice, spicy braised chard, and warm corn tortillas.

Definitely Good Eats.

Fava Beans…

To be honest, late Winter and early Spring are about my favorite time to live here in San Francisco. The rains are over, the hills are green, and there’s tons of delicious produce. It is just hard to hold too many grudges against the universe this time of year.

One of my favorite late winter treats is fresh fava beans. Though whomever discovered the best way to prepare them was ambitious. Maybe not quite as ambitious as the first person who ate an Oyster or an Artichoke, but still, they’re kind of a lot of work. Not hard work, but slightly tedious work. First you have to get the beans out of their out of their fuzzy shells.

Then you have to blanch and peel the individual beans. Put the water on for your pasta and start shelling. By the time you finish getting the beans out of their shells, the water should be boiling. Drop the shelled beans into the pasta water for a minute or two. Prepare an ice bath. Pull the beans out of the water and drop into ice bath. Now for the fun part. Using a paring knife, slit the skin of the bean opposite the stem. Squeeze the stem end of the bean and pop the meat out of the bean. It may take some practice so the bean meat does not fly across the room. Repeat until all beans are peeled. Some beer and music will be necessary.

One of my favorite fava bean dishes is pretty simple: Fava Bean Pasta with Pancetta. Put on some water for pasta. Clean the beans (see above). Chop some onion, garlic, and fresh herbs (Marjoram or Mint are nice complements to the flavor of fava beans.) Chop some fairly thickly sliced Pancetta. Sweat the pancetta until it releases its tasty fat. Remove the pancetta from the pan and raise the heat. Add the garlic and cook briefly until fragrant. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add fava beans and return the pancetta to the pan, (a little crushed red chile if you like it spicy.) Add a splash of chicken stock (if you are being strictly Italian, Water). Cover and cook until the fava beans are tender. In the meantime, cook your pasta (Note: for some reason, after blanching fava beans, your water will turn an ugly green brown. As far as I know, this is harmless.) Pull the pasta from the water and add it to fava bean mixture. Add minced herbs and toss, loosening with pasta water if necessary. Top with freshly grated parmesan. Serve with crusty bread and, of course, a nice Chianti.

Taco Tuesday Feb 22, 2011

Taco Tuesday.

An Al Pastor, Chile Rojo Chicken, and Chile Colorado taco from El Metate. Sorry about the White Balance.

We had tickets to see Justin Townes Earle this last Tuesday, so didn’t have time for any homemade tacos.

I like Mr. Justin Townes Earle, think he is a talented singer, guitar player, and song writer, but some of his “schtick” made me a tad uncomfortable.

He talked a bit about how he had been scheduled to perform at last year’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, but had been unable to attend. He explained that he had ongoing problems with substance abuse and incarceration (concert crowd cheers), and that he had actually been in jail when he was supposed to be performing at Hardly Strictly. He said the problem was he liked the alcohol and the cocaine, but that once he started, he liked it just a little bit too much, starting in the shower in the morning (crowd cheers) and continuing throughout the day until somehow he always ended up in jail (crowd cheers).

Words, then, to the effect, “I’ve made it this far, and haven’t died or killed anybody. It will happen again. I don’t see a reason to change unless I kill someone, and I don’t see that happening. If you love me, get used to it.”

He then dedicated this song to, “Knowing better, but still fucking up.” (Crowd Cheers, loudly!)

Saturday Night Dinner: Feb 12, 2011

We’ve had some nice weather the last couple weekends, so Mrs. Flannestad has been lobbying for grilling.

The problem being, even with the nice weather, it still gets dark really early.

This weekend was so nice, though, that I couldn’t put it off any longer, even if I was grilling in the backyard with a flashlight.

Cut up and marinated a chicken with fresh Oregano, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Mustard, and Black Pepper.

Sliced an eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Halved some small Zucchini. Salted liberally and basted both with olive oil. Two Red Peppers.

Started the coals, I’m a huge fan of grilling over Lazzari Lump Mesquite. I start them with a chimney starter and usually have them up and going much quicker than charcoal briquettes in a starter, or with, horror, lighter fluid.

Chiffonade half a bunch of basil, minced 2 cloves garlic, teaspoon hot pimenton de la vera, splashed in olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Grilled Red Peppers until evenly charred. Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini. Chopped and tossed with seasonings.

Made a two person batch of Cous Cous with Scallions, herbs, pine nuts and currants.

Grilled Chicken.

Pretty decent meal, served with a bottle of Emtu 2007 Russian River Vineyard Pinot Noir.

When I’ve made grilled chicken for in-laws, they have sometimes asked why my chicken turns out so well and theirs is always dry.

I don’t go in for brining. I maintain the best grilled chicken is first off, quality chicken. Best to buy it whole and cut it up yourself. I usually just quarter the chicken or maybe cut it in eighths. Then you have to leave the bones in and skin on, or it will dry out too quickly. Beyond that, just mind your fire and your meat while it is on the grill.

Super-Bowl Vegetable Hot Dish

Too much meat and rich food lately, thinking of the idea of a vegetarian Cassoulet.

Improvisation leads to the following:


Super-Bowl Vegetable Hot Dish

1 Cup Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman Beans
Soak for a couple hours and cook with…
3 Garlic Cloves
4 Sprigs thyme
1 Bay Leaf

1 Head Cauliflower, broken down to florets
Salt and Olive Oil
Pecans, chopped
Roast in hot oven, remove, and toss with:
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Hot Spanish Pimenton
1 TBSP Chopped Fresh Oregano
Dashes Sherry Vinegar

1 Bunch Tuscan Kale, washed, stemmed and chopped.
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped.
1 Anchovy Filet
1 tsp Tomato Paste
Red Chili Flakes
1 tsp Dry Marjoram
1 Cup Pomi Strained Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
Saute Garlic briefly in hot oil. Add rest of ingredients and simmer until tender.

Tree Oyster Mushrooms
Salt and Olive Oil
Roasted in a hot oven.

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Bread Crumbs

Layer ingredients in a casserole dish: Beans, mushrooms, cauliflower, kale, feta. Repeat and top with bread crumbs. Bake in 350 degree oven until browned and cooked through.

Server with Warm Pita Bread.

Bachelor Pizza and Belgian Pale Ale

Michele was out of town, so time for some boy, dog, cat fun!

Beach Walk in the morning and a Bachelor Pizza and Belgian Pale Ale (Or B.P.A.B.P.A.) Night!

Crazy Day at Fort Funston!

Surf all the way up to the trail down to the beach, hardly room for a small dog to run, and only then between larger waves. We all agreed it was the highest we had ever seen the surf.

So a tramp through the woods and field were necessary.

Cats beware!

Still a beautiful day.

Decided to make some pizza and drink this lovely Belgian Pale Ale from Ommegang. A hybrid of Belgian Ale Yeast and American style hopping.

Toppings were corn, mushrooms, bacon herbs, and feta cheese with some last of the season small tomatoes.

Monty would like some pizza, too, please!

Turned out pretty well, but I was reminded that simple crusts made of just flour, water, and yeast, turn out much better with an overnight sponge or starter. More character. As a friend put it, “otherwise they just end up tasting like they’ve been baked on a pretzel.”

When I mentioned some of the dishes I usually make when Michele is away, one of the chefs at work asked, “Are you making Jambalaya because your wife doesn’t like it?” Hm, no, Michele loves Jambalaya.

I tried to think of something that all the bachelor dinners I’ve made for myself have had in common, and all I could think of was pork. Sausage, Bacon, Loin, Chops, you name it, a bachelor dinner must contain pork.

Feeling Italian (Part 2)

As I continue to work Sunday through Friday, it has been a bit of a struggle to make my one day a week off count. Get all the errands run, get some posts written, and, most importantly, spend some quality time with Mrs. Flannestad and our dog Monty.

A while ago Michele got me a copy of David Tanis’ cookbook, “A Platter of Figs“.

I promised to make her some things from it, but after a persimmon cake which wasn’t as good as our usual recipe, I hadn’t gone back and tried anything else.

So for this Saturday night, the first we’ve had together in a while, I opted to do a whole menu.

Feeling Italian (Part 2)

Steamed Fennel with Red Pepper Oil
Roasted Quail with Grilled Raddicchio and Creamy Polenta
Italian Plum Cake

First things first, headed to the Alemany Farmers’ Market Saturday “morning”, with the hopes of finding as much of the produce as possible.

Stopped at the Tomatero Farms stand and were thrilled to find Raddicchio.

Dapple Dandy Plums (my favorites!) from Ferrari Farms.

We only found some questionable looking Fennel, so I hedged our bets with beautiful beets from Blue House Farms.

Also some Maitake Mushrooms from Far West Fungi, part of a sekrit plan to “improve” Tanis’ menu.

After some fortifying Sopes and squash blossom Quesadillas from El Huarache Loco, we headed home with our spoils.

A bit later in the afternoon, we headed up to Cortland, to Avedano’s Holly Park Market, where we perused our meat options.

No quail today, so we consoled ourselves with a whole Chicken (head on!) from Soul Food Farms.  As is usual, there was a little sticker shock with the price of a Soul Food Farms product.  “I just paid what for a whole chicken!?”  As this was our first time with this producer, we crossed our fingers that the flavor, and good feelings from supporting a small producer, would make it worth the price.

Monty and Squeaky Blue Ball (his favorite).

A nice family dog walk at Crissy Field, then back home to start cooking dinner.

Got home, Michele put on the music, while I cut up the chicken and started a simple stock with the chicken neck and back bones.

Made the Plum Cake.

Washed the beets and started them in the oven to roast.

The Fennel was indeed questionable, so decided to reprise a recent invention.

Nose to Tail Beets (or perhaps “Leaf to Root”?)


1 bunch beets
2 cloves Garlic, sliced
chile flakes
raisins, chopped
olive oil
Chicken or Vegetable Stock.


Pre-heat oven to 400.  Cut stems and leaves from beets.  Wash and clean.  Wrap in aluminum foil package, salting and adding a bit of olive oil.  Roast until tender.

Wash Beet greens and stems.  Chop stems into 1/8 inch pieces.  Slice Leaves.  Heat saute pan and add a couple tablespoons olive oil.  Add garlic slices and cook a couple.  Add Beet stems, Oregano, Thyme, salt, and Chile flakes.  Saute until tender.  Add beet leaves and splash in some stock.  Add raisins, cover, and cook until leaves are tender.  Check salt and add more if needed.

When Beets are cooked, rinse under cold water and remove outer skin. Cut into Eighths and add beets to pan with greens and stems.  Toss to mix and serve warm.

Started the Polenta. Roasted the Maitake Mushrooms.

Roasted Chicken.  One of my big issues with the recipe for the Squab was that they didn’t bother to use the fond from the roasting pan.  David! You’ve got a Pancetta and Squab fond, and you’re not going to at least make a pan sauce? Lazy!

So after the chicken was done, I started dripping based roux in roasting pan. Added the Chicken Stock I’d made. Finished pan sauce with Roasted Maitakes and some of pancetta which had been used to wrap the chicken.

Opened the wine.

Drin that bottle.

Carved the chicken and served it forth, perhaps not as beautiful as it would be at David Tanis’ house or Chez Panisse, but what can you do? I’m just a home cook! If it tastes good, I’m done.


And it was a really tasty chicken.  Totally worth the price, for flavor alone.  The good feeling of supporting a small producer, and happiness from making an amazingly delicious special dinner for my wife, were just icing on the cake.  An awesome Saturday night, I definitely made this one count!