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Thursday
May172007

Big Island Bees - Pure Artisanal Honey At Its Best

If you want to see pure organic honey produced as an art form, Big Island Bees is the real deal. Believing each jar to be a beautiful masterpiece, the husband and wife team (Garnett Puett and Whendi Grad) behind the label channel their passion into each carefully crafted jar. Unlike the commercial, watery bland stuff you see in the supermarkets,these have a thicker and creamier consistency, with a full-bodied flavor. The best part is that the honey is totally unheated and unfiltered to preserve the natural sugars and enzymes needed for complete nutrition.

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Specializing in three unique single varietals, the bees collect nectar year-round from the Wilelaiki trees (Christmasberry), Macadamia Nut trees, and Ohi’a Lehua trees. Each honey retains the distinct flavor of the nectar the bees feast on. Whichever flavor you choose, it is really wonderful for your breakfast toast, tea, waffles, or marinades. It goes well with baking, so try it with the following recipe below.

Whendi’s Honey Cake

¬Ω cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 generous cup Macadamia Nut Honey
3 eggs
1 cup dark, strong, warm coffee (Whendi uses Kona)
3 cup flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon dried ginger
¬Ω teaspoon nutmeg
¬Ω teaspoon cloves
¬Ω teaspoon allspice
¬Ω cup Macadamia nuts, chopped
¬Ω cup candied ginger, diced

Cream butter and sugar together. Add honey and eggs, and mix well. Sift dry ingredients together and add to butter/sugar mixture alternately with coffee. Fold in candied ginger and nuts, and pour into greased 10-inch bundt pan or two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes.

To purchase, go to www.bigislandbees.com

The Sweet Life

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Wednesday
May162007

Baja! Cooking On The Edge Brings Magical Cuisine to the Home Kitchen

Summer's officially here, and there's no better way to celebrate the warm summer evenings than throwing a Latin-themed dinner party. At a loss with planning a menu? Let the Baja! Cooking on the Edge cookbook be your secret weapon.

While Deborah M. Schneider's tantalizing homage to Baja cuisine might bring out the wanderlust in you, you can easily prepare the fabulous and authentic recipes in your own kitchen. Written in a vividly delicious prose, Schneider presents over 150 mouth-watering recipes culled from years of exploring the untamed region. The detailed instructions and notes within each recipe help educate the reader on the rich culinary heritage of Baja. It's hard not to feel as if you're at the local market with the author selecting fresh produce for your salsas and tacos.

Salsas

(Photo credit: Maren Caruso)

From street food to more elegant entrees, the cookbook is chock-filled with amazingly authentic recipes. It might take some practice to make your own tortillas and chorizo, but the magical flavors will be worth it when you and your guests taste the amazing results. The gorgeous photography from award-winning Maren Caruso will also tempt you to try one recipe after another. Check out the Agua Fresca recipe below - it should help tame the fiery chiles from feasting on such a colorful meal...

Agua_frescas_4

(Photo credit: Maren Caruso)

Watermelon Agua Fresca

This agua fresca recipe is a basic template for any soft fruit: watermelon, cantaloupe, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberry, guava . . . the list is endless. Start by mashing the fruit and add water to make 1 gallon—but resist the urge to throw it into the blender, since good agua fresca usually has little pieces of fruit floating in it.

Make all aguas frescas a little stronger than you think you would like, as chilling dulls the flavor and ice will dilute it. Homemade aguas frescas are as healthy as they are delicious, since you can control the amount of sweetener or leave it out altogether.

Extra agua fresca can be used as a base for paletas.

Makes about 1 gallon.

3 cups water
1⁄2–1 cup sugar
1 ripe medium watermelon
Juice of 1 lime, preferably a Mexican limón
Ice

1. Combine the water and sugar to taste in a saucepan and boil until the sugar dissolves. Cool.

2. Peel the watermelon, remove as many seeds as possible, and mash with a potato masher (or pulse in a food processor) until the fruit is fairly smooth. Add the water and lime juice. Taste and adjust with more sugar, lime, or water as desired. Serve over ice.

(Recipe used with permission from Baja! Cooking on the Edge, by Deborah M. Schneider, Rodale Books, 2006)

See you in the kitchen!

The Sweet Life

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Wednesday
May092007

Jersey Tomatoes Unveils New Lunch Adventure: Split Pea Seduction

For all you lucky San Francisco/Bay Area foodies looking for a fresh, yummy and healthy lunch, your slow food choices just got sweeter with Split Pea Seduction. A spin-off from the local catering company Jersey Tomatoes, the new breakfast/lunch eatery just opened on 6th Street and Minna.

Clam

A true labor of love from founders Sarah Ellison-Pinkin and Christian Noto, they prepare everything on-site, from scratch. Using only seasonal ingredients, their delectable menus (changes daily!) feature sustainable produce sourced directly from small local farms.

Breakfast features freshly baked muffins, scones, and open-faced crostatas with home-made fruit preserves, while lunch offers hearty gourmet soups and salads (fresh house-marinated sardines, shaved fennel and watercress, yum!). This is not your generic garden salad with ranch, folks. Be prepared to be dazzled. Your office lunch will never be the same.

Crostata

The signature savory crostatas (open faced pastry) are made with mouth-watering ingredients like Wilgenburg tomato, fontina and grilled chicken. For an afternoon coffee break, try the strawberry shortcake cupcakes, cookies and other daily dessert specials. You might return to the office smiling (and productive, gasp) after munching on some of these sweeties.

For menus and info, check out www.splitpeaseduction.com OR www.jtomatoes.com

Split Pea Seduction
138 6th Street @ Minna
San Francisco, California 94103

Open: Monday – Friday 7am - 4pm
Saturday 8am - 3pm, Closed on Sunday
415.551.2223

-See you at the lunch counter,

The Sweet Life

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Tuesday
May082007

Only the Best for Mum: Coco-luxe Dragees and Choco Bars

Perfect for Spring and Mother's Day (or Father's Day, graduation presents), Bay Area chocolatier Coco-luxe Confections is introducing their new '07 chocolate bars and dragées line. Founder Stephanie Marcon wanted to share her vision of summer celebrations, with a playful twist on her flavor profile. Without losing her sophisticated touch, the smooth chocolate bars bring forth more reasons to indulge with loved ones. With flavors like Good Fortune (dark chocolate with candied ginger and fortune cookie pieces), it's a unique yet whimsical combo to experience. I liked the way the sea salt added a nice contrast to the pumpkin seeds and goji berries in the Happy Trails bar. Monkey’in Around is another fave, with milk chocolate mixed in with banana chips and cocoa nibs.

Coco_luxe_monkeyin_around_bar

The other new product, the nut Dragées, are amazingly addictive. I love the County Fair Peanuts - roasted cayenne candied peanuts enrobed in a nice layer of milk chocolate, then dusted with cocoa powder. It's not too spicy, leaving a nice lingering warmth on your tongue as you think about savoring the next bite. It was hard not to reach for another piece. These dragees also come in another yummy flavor, Block Party Almonds (cinnamon candied almonds rolled in dark chocolate).

Coco_luxe_almonds_2

Available online at www.Coco-luxe.com

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Thursday
May032007

Treat Mom's Sweet Tooth with Recchiuti's Liz Saintsing Collection

All you last-minute kiddies out there have yet another great gift idea, besides the usual flowers and brunch. Your mum will cry in delight with Michael Recchiuti's new Artisan Collection #7 – Liz Saintsing. Inspired by the San Franciscan artist's vintage art, these exquisite treats feature eccentric images of birds, insects and other creatures living in the wild world. Her nature-inspired collection adorns 8 pieces of one of the most popular flavors, Burnt Caramel. To learn more about the artist, visit www.LizSaintsing.com.

Liz_saintsing

www.recchiuti.com

See you at the candy store,

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Thursday
Apr262007

cocoa bar - Indulgent Gifts for Mother's Day

For moms with a big sweet tooth, Brooklyn's famous cocoa bar offers perfect Mother's Day gift ideas. Famed for their signature truffles, chocolate drinks and pralines, you can create the same choco magic with their custom gift box selections. Choose from their extensive bon bon collection, coffee blends, exotic teas, decadent hot chocolate mixes, port-soaked figs or chocolate-covered pretzels.

Choc_bars_lores1

I recommend including at least one of the assorted chocolate bars in the gift box. The unique flavors will make mom smile for sure. Try Tea Time, a lovely milk bar infused with Earl Grey tea, or get the Nutmeg Nibble, a dark bar with carmelized cacao nibs and nutmeg. My personal fave was I Like it Spicy, a dark bar with cayenne pepper and pasilla chile. Whoo-whee, it sure made my mouth fiery!

Tea2lores1

For more info, go to: www.cocoabarnyc.com

-See you at the chocolate bar,

The Sweet Life

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Monday
Apr232007

Shower Mom With Love From Dancing Deer

Mommy dearest knows best, and if she knew about Dancing Deer, she'd be all over the buttery cookies, flavor-packed cakes and fudgy brownies. Show how much your love her this Mother's Day with their latest Spring collection:

0701_toasted_coconut_ricotta_cake

Those who love a super buttery cake with a moist pound-cake texture will love the Strawberry Shortcake. A thick layer of stawberry jam is laced throughout the dense cake, with a healthy layer of strudel topping. A small slice is enough to hit the spot, but who's watching...I'd sneak in a second slice with a nice cup of tea. Serve with fresh berries and whipped cream. It's that mmmh mmmh good.

Chocolate_rose_shortbread

If strawberries are not your thing, try the tropical Toasted Coconut Lime Cake. Toasted coconut flakes enhance the mild lime accents in the buttery cake, made with buttermilk and yogurt to heighten the moist crumb factor. If you're still undecided, you can't go wrong with the pretty A Dozen Chocolate Roses. Twelve chocolate shortbread cookies are adorned with pink icing and elegantly hand-stenciled roses.

Happy Mother's Day!

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Thursday
Apr192007

La Cocina Gives Emerging Food Businesses Ingredients For Success

San Francisco has always been an incubator of food entrepreneurs. So it’s no surprise to see the ambitious La Cocina Community Kitchen assisting budding low-income food businesses. The nonprofit organization, located in the city’s Mission District, provides the tools and services that a start-up culinary venture requires, but at a much lower cost than it would normally take.

Just over two years old, La Cocina has nurtured over a dozen program participants who have needed an affordable professional kitchen to expand their small, woman-owned businesses.With the fiscal support of The Women’s Foundation of California and private donors, the 4,400 square foot commercial kitchen has been stocked with every type of food preparation equipment imaginable. La Cocina also provides technical training and marketing support to those who need it.

Like all staff members at La Cocina, Program Coordinator Caleb Zigas recognizes the difficulties in starting a food-related business. “The benefit of an organization like this lies in our ability to make food and business work together in a sustainable way,” Zigas explains.

Webtamifood

“We are looking for the ‘hidden entrepreneurs’, the women who make food that tastes like home for the communities and sub-communities within the Bay Area,” says Zigas. “The work we are most interested in not only creates a viable business but also encourages entrepreneurs to use their food to connect to a larger community.” It’s this aspect of the program that people most often experience when they are in the kitchen or tasting the food, he explains.

Many of the participants began simply by cooking food in their own homes. Most of the women, like Yumna McCann, have used the familiar dishes of their own cultures to create a bridge to their lives in the Bay Area. A native South African, McCann missed the savory pies from her mother’s kitchen, so she launched her company Mystipied. She now runs a very successful business, with accounts such as Rainbow Grocery.

“La Cocina is a great program offering guidance to start-up businesses,”McCann says. “The most amazing thing for me has been the opportunity to meet industry professionals such as Barb Stuckey, Traci Des Jardins, Patricia Unterman and Rob Zaborny.” Barb Stuckey is a San Franciscoo Professional Food Society member and Vice President of Marketing at Mattson, Inc.

The San Francisco Professional Food Society is currently establishing a mentorship program, matching its members with La Cocina participants. “The partnership,” says SFPSF member John Birdsall, “shows that our members value a thriving local food scene and honor the life histories of the La Cocina entrepreneurs.”

SFPFS member and Principal of Torani Syrups & Flavors Lisa Lucheta has seen her involvement come full circle. One of the early volunteers, she feels fortunate to have had La Cocina participants help her with her business. “I’m pleased to share my experience through the mentoring program,” Lucheta says. “I expect it to be a mutually rewarding experience and look forward to learning from someone with an entrepreneurial spirit in the early stages of her business.”

For more information or if you’d like to get involved, visit www.lacocinasf.org or call 415-824-2729.

(Photo credit: Victor Wong)

The Sweet Life

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Thursday
Apr192007

Allie's Edibles - True Comfort Indulgence

If you're a fancy sweet tooth like me, you might at times get tired of the growing tidal wave of gourmet chocolatiers springing up across the country. Sometimes we just need some basic comfort indulgences, such as the Allie's Edibles line. With six goodies to choose from, it's hard to stop with just one treat. Whether you choose the buttery Chocolate Covered Butter Nut Toffee or the fudgy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars, you're guaranteed to sink into something luscious. If nuts aren't your thing, you might get addicted to the Chocolate Covered Caramels or the pillow-soft Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Bars.

Gl7r01241_2

Using simple recipes and and local ingredients, these sinful treasures are perfect for tea time, or as a pick-me-up when you're having a bad day. The generous servings are individually wrapped, so they can make nice little prezzies for friends and colleagues or as a housewarming gift.

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Available online at: www.alliesedibles.com

The Sweet Life

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Thursday
Apr122007

Scharffen Berger's Limited Series #8: Cuyagua - Get it now!

Another limited series chocolate bar to lust after from yummy Scharffen Berger! The latest addition, only 700+ cases of the #8 Cuyagua bar were made. Deep earthy tones and wild blackberry notes in this complex 75% cacao bar originate from the old-growth cacao trees of Cuyagua, a small village west of Caracas, on the coast of Venezuela. Pair with a good wine as a stellar upscale dessert duo, or nibble by itself as an indulgent snack.

Sb_cuyagua

Available at Whole Foods Markets, Scharffen Berger boutiques, and at: www.scharffenberger.com

See you at the candy store,

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