sondrac's Profile

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Best Croque Monsieur in SF?

I've tried Brenda's and Butler and the Chef and IMHO, Cafe De La Presse makes an excellent Croque Monsieur / Madame.

Mar 08, 2009
sondrac in San Francisco Bay Area

Practicing my hostess skills

With menu planning, why not ask your friends what they like? The best tip is to try to make things as easy as possible so that you can enjoy your friends. Some other tips: Roasted chicken is made moist by inserting a halved lemon in the cavity (or you can buy skinned parts if you've never carved a chicken before). A super-easy crowd-pleaser is to spread pesto over salmon, then bake at 350 until the white fatty bits drip out (make the pesto the day before). A sprinkle of chives and a dollop of creme fraiche will add beauty and flavor to your soup. Try adding other root vegetables - carrots, beats, turnips, fennel, onions - to your roasting pan for variety (roasted mushrooms are great too). An easy green to serve is arugula, because you can basically use it as an edible garnish (place meat or fish on top to allow heat to wilt and juices to flavor). Pair a selection of blue cheeses (Stilton, Blue Castello, Gorgonzola dolce, and even a Valdeon) with a sweet dessert wine for after dinner nibbling. And buy fresh flowers for decoration. Good luck!

Sep 23, 2008
sondrac in Home Cooking

Lox Flatbread

ElaineBalto: You neglect to say how many people you are serving. There are several time-saving things you can do: put the crème fraîche mixture into a bag to pipe it onto the crackers, pre-cut the lox and onion into small pieces, enlist the help of others, etc.

Sep 23, 2008
sondrac in Recipes

10 Beijing Dishes

How about some recipes!!!! Would love to know how to prepare authentic dishes myself (pulled noodles aside...).

Aug 23, 2008
sondrac in Features

Grit and Grub in San Francisco's Tenderloin

Brenda's Soul Food is some tasty-ass good food. I Yelped her positive and received a personal email. Now *that's* service. :) And did I mention the food? Won't be long before she's moved to nicer digs, so get it while it's cheap (haha - NOT!!) Try the crawfish beignets for something different.

Aug 15, 2008
sondrac in Features

Brenda's French Soul Food--Report

I had the oyster poboy and a side of half cole slaw, half fries. The bread was soft and the fried oysters tender. So good! I want to go back for the crawfish beignets.

Jun 14, 2008
sondrac in San Francisco Bay Area

Softshell Crabs

One more thing: during baking they put the cutlets onto a rack placed in a pan. This elevated the cutlets for even browning on both sides.

Apr 02, 2008
sondrac in Home Cooking

Softshell Crabs

OH - I should also mention that they used PANKO breadcrumbs. These are the Japanese style breadcrumbs that are larger and produce a crunchier texture than reg'lar breadcrumbs.

Apr 01, 2008
sondrac in Home Cooking

Softshell Crabs

America's Test Kitchen attempted to come up with a no-fry version of chicken parmesan that you might want to borrow from. Here's what they have to say:

"We found that if we first toasted the bread crumbs with a little oil before coating the chicken, it would give them flavor and color—enough so we could then bake the breaded cutlets on a rack in a 475-degree oven."

If I remember correctly, they did flour the cutlets and dip them into egg before applying the breadcrumbs.

Apr 01, 2008
sondrac in Home Cooking

The Basics: How to Make Roasted Chicken Breast

This is great technique that may be used for any kind of meat or fish. The trick is to use an oven-proof pan so you get a good sear on the second side when it's in the oven.

I use it to cook filet mignon and salmon. All the filet needs is a sprinkle of salt and crushed pepper corns, but for the salmon, I use a mixture of salt/paprika/cumin. Or you could just sprinkle salt on the salmon and serve with a lemon/butter/white wine/caper sauce.

Experiment!

Apr 01, 2008
sondrac in Features

Greek restaurant in Valley w/ floor show?

The Great Greek does a floor show between tables (no dance floor). They have live music throughout the evening and at a certain point, the waiters do some traditional line dancing. Guests are welcome to come up and dance, so each show can be unique. When one of the waitresses began belly dancing (in her waitress uniform), some gals from another table joined her (and so did I). An older man, in from Greece visiting his family, did an inspiring solo dance and then my cousin joined him for a lively partner dance. In the end, everyone was invited to join a long snake dance through the restaurant.

Nov 30, 2007
sondrac in Los Angeles Area

Just Bought A Bottle Of Cachaca

I've been making my own version of the caipirinha:

Fill low highball glass 1/3 full of Leblon cachaca.
Top with Odwalla Lime Quencher.

You can salt or sugar the rim, depending on your taste.

Sep 05, 2007
sondrac in Spirits

The Holy Grail of Fried Chicken

The best fried chicken I ever had was a huge, moist breast piece, hot and freshly fried from Powel's Place in Hayes Valley. When I got it home, I remember having to stave off my kitty who was equally enamored by the tenderness of the flesh and the flavorful, crunchy crust. It's no longer at its original location on Hayes and I haven't been to the new Eddy shop yet.

I just bought a small block Beecher's. Lately, we've "gone goat" to combat lactose intolerance, but Beecher's is such a tasty cheddar, I couldn't pass it up. Rainbow grocery has a great assortment of goat cheeses (as does Whole Foods). I tried a newly arrived chève crémeux by Fromager d'Affinois. Its soft, smooth texture and subtle flavor mimic brie so well that I'm happily fooled.

Aug 18, 2007
sondrac in Features

Eggplant and Hummus Pita Crisps

You can leave the capers out - or substitute tomatoes, kalamata or green olives or fresh/roasted red peppers.

A Lebanese woman suggested removing the skins from canned chickpeas to create a fluffier texture in your hummus. This is time consuming, but definitely worth it. Ultimately, she advised, the best hummus is made from home-cooked chickpeas. After soaking the chickpeas, she will cook up a large batch in a crock pot and freeze in portioned bags. The frozen, cooked chickpeas will keep for months this way. The airy texture and fresh taste of her hummus attests to this method.

Aug 18, 2007
sondrac in Recipes

Best Sushi Item

Uni. Love the subtle flavors and smooth texture. I order this sashimi style.

Ikura - Pop, pop! Delightful blasts of salmon flavor.

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

Salt also helps to keep the color of sliced fruit (similar to lemon).

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

Mmmm, poutine sounds great. I love wet fries - fries with brown gravy - so a little cheese curd can't be bad.

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

When I was a pre-teen, my Dad once received a gift basket filled with little jellies and jams. My younger sister and I had recently been introduced to cream cheese and jelly sandwiches. We began experimenting immediately. It was all tasty and we enjoyed the experience immensely. The strangest combination was cream cheese and mint jelly. I still feel a little weird when I think about that one.

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in General Topics

Memphis Minnies - ugh!

Noooo!

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in San Francisco Bay Area

Great Mistake

I love cooking Indian food. The wealth of spices and combinations of flavors excite me. Where my experience and expertise lacks, I try to make up for with experimentation.

Recently, I screwed up a relatively easy dish, bhindi masala - a mixture of tomato, onion, garlic and spices. I'd made it plenty of times, but for some reason this time I got the order of ingredients mixed up and instead of tender bits of okra in a minimal, clingy sauce, the texture came out more like a thick gumbo. (Well, that's what you get when you keep tasting the wine...!)

The bhindi masala was to be a lunch item for my husband, accompanying some Indian flavored golden beats I'd made the previous day. The flavors were still good, so I decided to try creating an Indian influenced meal around it for dinner instead.

I fried up some crab cakes, used canned crab, combined with breadcrumbs and mayo mixed with tandoori paste - I also spread a bit of the mayo-tandoori mixture on the outside of the cakes before frying for extra flavor. I topped the cakes with a few squirts of lemon juice and a dollop of home-made raita (yogurt, shredded cucumber and salt) and placed them on top of a mound of the okra. I decorated the plate with slices of the Indian beats (flavored with cardamom and cumin) and some mixed pickles (an Indian condiment we love). Yum!

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in Home Cooking

Ethnic/local dinner in San Francisco

I have heard about Cha-Am from co-workers. Sorry if it's a mislead. We frequent Mehfil regularly for lunch - "curry in a hurry". :)

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in San Francisco Bay Area

Memphis Minnies - ugh!

Nope. My bill with tax plus a tip was almost $15. I got the pulled pork sandwich with fries and then ordered an additional side of cole slaw. I'm sorry, everything else was such an unpleasant surprise that forgot to mention the fries. They were basic - and cold.

Allowing for differences in bbq style, I can appreciate that this was not what I expected - but that doesn't change the fact that the meat was bland and dry.

Seeing that BCC is more aligned with my taste preferences, I will trek out to Oakland to try BCC. Thanks for the pictures of the smoking drums and the dishes of food - they made my mouth water!

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in San Francisco Bay Area

But I Only Drank Water!

I've run into this situation before, where I was inadvertently expected to pay for rounds and rounds of appetizers and drinks when my friend and I stuck to our $20 budget (that was a total for both of us). It became embarrassing when we had to inform the others that we didn't have the $40 each to contribute to their tab.

I am running into this situation again now, but this time there will be no surprises because we're deciding ahead of time how we'll handle the bill. Ten people - of which I know only three - are planning to go out to dinner next week for a prix fixe meal. Since one of us doesn't drink alcohol, the organizer suggested (via email) that we order alcohol on a separate check. As we'll know this going into the restaurant, we'll be able to inform the waiter prior to ordering. This will make things easier for everyone. No guilty drinkers, no awkward moments.

Such a thoughtful solution doesn't have to come from the host or organizer. If you do not drink - or are keeping to a budget - make it your business to speak up while planning or at least before ordering. Your dining partners will respect your honesty and everyone will be happier in the end.

Aug 16, 2007
sondrac in Features

Ethnic/local dinner in San Francisco

THAI: Cha-Am express, 4th/Howard
DIM SUM: Yank Sing, Stevenson btwn 1st/2nd
INDIAN: Mehfil, 2nd/Folsom

May 24, 2007
sondrac in San Francisco Bay Area

Memphis Minnies - ugh!

This place is expensive: I had a pulled pork sandwich and a side of coleslaw and it was almost $15!!! Outrageous. Especially since the small side container was barely larger than a shot glass. The eating experience was not good either. The the pulled pork had almost no flavor and the meat was completely dry. I'm serious, it was just meat on bread. They threw in two puny containers of sauce - one, a tangy mustard sauce and the other, some kind of red concoction that made me wince. Neither did anything to satisfy my craving for the classic bbq sauce that usually smothers this dish. And the coleslaw was some kind of raw foods nightmare. The flavor and texture were all wrong: no sweetness, just sour with other vegetables mixed in. More like pickles than slaw. Not sure whose idea of bbq this is, but it's definitely not mine. I'd recommend Brother's in Law's for classic bbq.

May 24, 2007
sondrac in San Francisco Bay Area

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

I love this kind of creativity! As a child, I liked Triscuit crackers spread with butter, sprinkled with sugar. Here are some I enjoy as an adult:

Egg salad, made with mayo, chile powder, raisins and a little salt.

Blue cheese, smoked oyster and basil on a saltine cracker.

Sesame balls (Chinese dim sum) with Yank Sing chile pepper sauce.

May 24, 2007
sondrac in General Topics

Dianda's or Delessio's Tres Leches cake? [San Francisco]

I've had Tres Leches from Lelinita's. It's the only one I've tried. We enjoyed it. Keep in mind, the smallest one they sell will serve a crowd.

May 13, 2007
sondrac in San Francisco Bay Area

Help me choose a cold cereal!

For breakfast in the summer, I enjoy honey flavored Yogurt of the Gods (a thick Greek style yogurt) with fruit and nuts. Almonds and raisins are delicious additions, as are cranberries and walnuts.

May 13, 2007
sondrac in General Topics

Help me choose a cold cereal!

Me too. I like to add raisins (can you tell I like them?).

May 13, 2007
sondrac in General Topics

Help me choose a cold cereal!

Yes, yes, yes! I prefer it crunchy, so I eat it dry and add raisins for some sticky sweet texture.

May 13, 2007
sondrac in General Topics