Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Signing for "Food Rules" - new time 12-3pm

So everyone can have time to get home for the Superbowl - the time of the book signing has been changed to 12-3pm.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Food Rules

A book signing for Food Rules by Michael Pollan and Maira Kalman will be held at Chez Panisse Restaurant on Sunday, February 5th from 12 – 3 PM.

The event is a fundraiser for the Edible Schoolyard project

For more information and to pre-order books go here:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Prunes in Armagnac

Prunes have gotten a bum rap which is silly because they are simply dried plums. Therefore it stands to reason that if you like raisins, dried cherries, or other dried fruits found in your basic trail mix there is really no reason to poo-poo a prune. And, if your prune is soaked in Armagnac then not liking them is just crazy-talk.

We put up as many batches of prunes in Armagnac as we can each year and fold them into ice cream, use them to stuff crêpes, combine them with other dried fruits like apricots, figs, cherries, etc. to make fillings for tarts or simple fruit compotes. We also use them with duck, pork, or other savory delights. Eating them as they are is just fine too.

This recipe makes about 2-3 quarts of prunes in Armagnac.


10 cups Prunes (with or without pits)

1 ½ cups Sugar

4 cups White wine

4 cups Armagnac (not too pricey, but not too cheap either)


Combine white wine, sugar and warm to dissolve the sugar.

Add prunes to the warm wine/sugar mixture and cover letting the prunes soften up while the liquid cools.

Once cooled, add the Armagnac and stir everything together.

Put into jars with well-fitting lids.

Place in a cool, dry and dark place and give the jars a little shake each day for a couple of weeks.

They are ready to use after two weeks and only improve with age provided they are kept cool, dry and dark.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fresh Ginger Cake

This ginger cake is basically the “little black dress” of cakes because it is appropriate in most situations and can be dressed up or down depending on what you have around. Using fresh ginger makes this cake light and bright and the blackstrap molasses gives its flavor a bit more complexity. It is one of the more versatile cakes to have in your repertoire.

This recipe makes 1 x 9-inch cake


1 cup Sugar

1 cup Grapeseed oil

1 cup Molasses

1 cup Boiling water

2 tsp. Baking soda

4 oz. Fresh ginger

2 ½ cup All purpose flour

½ tsp. Ground cinnamon

½ tsp. Ground cloves

2 each Whole eggs


Preheat oven to 300º.

Prepare pan by lining it with parchment paper.

Peel ginger and cut into narrow “coins” against the grain, then process in the food processor until very fine.

Note: for this recipe, ginger should be weighed after it is peeled.

Whisk together sugar, oil, & molasses. Bring the water to a boil and add the baking soda. Let the water come back to a boil then add the hot water/soda to the mixer and mix. Add ginger – mix in then scrape the sides of the bowl. Sift dry ingredients separately then add to mixer. Scrape bowl again then add room temperature eggs.

Pour into pan and bake about 1 hour until set and top springs back (turn oven up to 350º for final 10 minutes).

As I mentioned, this cake is delicious all year round. Pair it with citrus in the winter, strawberries in the spring and summer, pears in the fall, or just a dollop of whipped cream.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Persimmon Pudding

I love working with persimmons - when you harvest them in the fall you can set them out in a cool, dry place and use them as they ripen all season long. If you have extra pulp it freezes really well and you can make puddings all through the winter as well. For our pudding at the restaurant we use the Hachiya (long oval shaped) variety pictured above. We have used the Fuyu (short and squat) variety as well, but their pulp makes a less juicy and firmer pudding.

This recipe makes 1x 9-inch cake

All Purpose Flour - 1 1/4 cup
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Baking Soda - 3/4 teaspoon
Baking Powder - 3/4 teaspoon
Cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
Persimmon Pulp - 1 1/3 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Eggs - 3
Milk - 1 1/2 cup
Cream - 1/4 cup
Honey - 1 Tablespoon
Walnuts (toasted and chopped roughly) - 1 cup
Butter (melted) - 3 ounces
Currants (soaked in Cognac or Brandy) - 1/2 cup


Preheat oven 325º F/163 º C. Butter and line the cake pan with parchment.

Make sure your persimmons are VERY ripe (they should feel like water balloons). Cut off the leaf end and scoop out the persimmon pulp with a spoon and pass it through a strainer to separate out any seeds. Measure out the amount of puree you need and set aside.

Sift all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl and making sure everything is room temperature, mix together persimmon puree, sugar, eggs, milk, cream, and honey. Add this slowly to the dry ingredients and whisk until there are no more lumps.

Let batter stand 10 minutes to thicken. Add drained currants, walnuts, and melted butter to batter and stir. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1-1 ½ hours or until set and coming away from the sides of the pan. The cake will set up more as it cools. If needed, warm pan to remove and unmold cake. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche.