My English Muffin Bread Overfloweth

No one told me, so I was late in finding that April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month. I had to act fast. (Must bake English muffin bread.) I must make grilled cheese!

In my fanciful visions of the greatest grilled cheese sandwich on earth, I immediately thought, "English muffin bread." It is so airy and crispy with a little bit of chew. Perfect. But I am weary of store bought (as I haven't sampled a taste of English muffin bread in years) and I hadn't any time for searching the local bakeries for theirs (if they even make it on a regular basis).

So instead, I'd make something I've never made before because that would surely come out better than any store bought option in town (you see where I'm going with this?). I shouldn't be so negative, really. I'll admit, it came out quite nice in texture and flavor, it just didn't toast right, which was disappointing. It browned beautifully slathered with butter in a fry pan, but in the toaster, where the magic should be made, it didn't really do it. While toasting away, I even had to cut away the top crusts before they got any blacker and the apartment got any stinkier (I find the smell of burning bread to be very unpleasant and very potent); at that point the face of the bread had hardly browned.

Most of the loaf went towards grilled cheese sandwich research. The last remaining slices, which begged to be toasted, received a different kind of treatment. In a grilled cheese dessert experiment, I had prepared two butters, one flavored with maple syrup and one with sugar. A swathe of the two flavors on opposite sides of each slice, and toast in a pan. They caramelized beautifully like a perfectly broiled piece of cinnamon toast. Crunchy, buttery, sweet love. This was definitely not an complete failure. Who am I kidding, it was a pretty damn good loaf of bread, despite its shortcomings.

But I will try this again. I found a great recipe, very simple, with just the right kind of helpful technicality. I only wish you could have seen it bake. Apparently, I used a smaller loaf pan than needed and the batter-like bread dough just oozed out and over the top of the pan in the first few minutes of baking. After the panic, and a piece of foil placed strategically on the rack below the baking bread, we had little mini English muffin toasty bits. Big bits. Advanced sneak-peek. Yum.


Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry blossoms are probably some of the happiest flowers I know. They are so cute, delicate, lovely. And that they are honored with a festival every year, marvelous! (Actually, the cherry blossoms represent Japanese culture and community, the reason for celebration; that's good too.)

So off we go, to celebrate our neighbors and enjoy some street fair food. Thankfully there was not a single turkey leg, giant continuous potato chip, or funnel cake in sight. As I had hoped, fare included udon, Okinawa soba, takoyaki (tako-free, but a line 50 people long awaited them nonetheless), imagawayaki, Spam musubi and...teriyaki burgers, just to name a few.

The day began sunny and beautiful, with crisp in the air. So the udon hit the spot: hot, steamy, and warming. Yummy and wholesome, complete with tofu skin and colorful fish cake. I didn't have it in me to wait in line for the takoyaki, but there's always next time (we'll get there sooner - 1 hour into the game was clearly not enough).

We passed the time with an indoor display of bonsai, something I love deeply but with which have never had success. Such beautiful specimens, some over 80 years old. It was nearing time for the grand
parade. And as we set foot outdoors, there came chilling, propelling winds. Quite uncomfortable, really. Hurry, parade.

I ached for the steadfast players, some of them couldn't hold back their grimaces, while many smiled right through. Ahhh, cherry blossoms.


Spring is Springing

There is this fantastic market nearby my workplace; and when I go, it inspires me to cook. (I wonder why I don't go more often.) More than half the store is produce, all kinds, colors, shapes, and sizes. Truly a wondrous place. On this particular trip, I chose all things green: favas, snap peas and spring garlic. Well, I did buy something red actually, strawberries for dessert (frozen yogurt, perhaps).

Now what to do, what to do. I first thought rice. A bit of nutty brown rice to go with my green vegetables. That takes too long. I'm hungry now. Fresh pasta would be perfect! I'm sorry, did I mention I was hungry?

Acini de pepe it is. Italian for peppercorns, they resemble just that; chewy little beads of pasta. I wanted the pasta to have a flavor of its own, so cooked it in as little chicken stock as possible, adding more stock bit by bit until perfectly al dente. As the pasta bubbled away, I sliced thin rings of spring garlic and crosscut the peas (prepped the favas the night before). Into the warm pasta they go; add a pat of butter, salt and pepper, and stir briskly until the butter has just melted.

Fresh grated Parmigiano over the top, and you've got a bowl of buttered sunshine.


Blog Fluff

Take a sunny day in San Francisco. Add fresh baked bread (Thanks, hon!), delicious roasted chicken from Kensington Fine Foods (Thanks, Larry!), olive tapenade and the fixins. Mmmm. Seriously.


...and IT was born...

I hate to say it, you know I do, but there's more to life than cheese. (Gasp!)

So this is where I'll put everything else.

But don't expect me to stray from food altogether, because there's little more to life than that.

Oh, and I like to take pictures.

Love, Me.