For many of us, summertime means travel, whether it’s a relaxing week at the beach, a jaunt in the mountains, or a full-blown adventure. Regardless of the locale, though, we believe that no vacation is complete without delving into the local food culture. Kitchit chef Ronnie Woo, fresh off a trip through Southeast Asia, agrees. We caught up with him to talk food and travel, and get a glimpse into the culinary scene in Laos and Vietnam.
Kitchit: As a chef you must have a unique perspective on travel and immersing yourself in foreign cultures. In your mind, what makes a food culture vibrant and exciting?
Ronnie Woo: What excites me the most is food culture that is different from what I’m used to. Food culture that really utilizes their resources, celebrates every part of the animal, and employs all types of ingredients is the type of food culture that really makes me giddy and gets my juices flowing. In Southeast Asia, there is both a street food and a fine dining culture, which is really fascinating. In Luang Prabang, Laos, you have the night market, where humble vendors come and sell incredibly authentic fare in this long and narrow alley, and then on the flipside you have these beautiful hotels that serve upscale, yet still authentic, cuisine. To me, this combination is really appealing.
In keeping with our habit of intermittent blog-posting, here we are! So much has happened in the past few months, including launches in New York and Los Angeles, but you can read about that elsewhere.
Meanwhile, other fun stuff has been happening in San Francisco. Here, Kitchit’s Director of Outreach, Sudeshna Dev, gives us a glimpse into her typical day on the job:
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As Director of Outreach, I have the incredibly fun job of getting people excited about Kitchit. So it goes without saying that I was thrilled when Kitchit was invited to provide the sustenance for the recent launch of Digital Style Digest, an online publication by Lorraine Sanders that sits at the nexus of fashion, design, and all things tech.
Yikes! It’s been a little while since we’ve had a moment to stop by and update the Kitchit Table. But, don’t think for even a second that it’s because we don’t have lots of exciting developments to report.
On the contrary, the whole team has been busy doing things like curating the ultimate Valentine’s Day package, wining and dining with some of the Bay Area’s best chefs, and developing new and improved features on the Kitchit website…all for the sake of enabling our members to create the perfect dinner party.
We are delighted to have Chef Charlie Ayers, a true Silicon Valley star: the original Executive Chef at Google, onboard with us here. Chef Charlie Ayers, who made a name for himself as the revolutionary Executive Chef at Google’s Mountain View headquarters, and who now owns Silicon Valley favorite Calafia Cafe, is the latest addition to Kitchit’s chef roster. Find him here on Kitchit.
It’s that time of year again: cleanses and diets and gym memberships, oh my! And yes, we are just as ready as you are to take a break from cookies and stuffing, but choking down “green juice” isn’t really our idea of an enjoyable dining experience.
In fact, we’re of the opinion that enjoying one’s food is one of the healthiest habits you can have – and a few salads and skipped desserts aren’t going to get in our way. So, we decided to ask some of our chefs what kinds of dishes they like to create when they are going for something light, fresh, and eminently dinner-party-worthy. Read on for some of their recipes and thoughts as they move into 2012.
We always love hearing what Chef Derek Burns has cooking. Here’s what he had to say:
New Year’s Resolution: “My two resolutions are to paddle from San Francisco to the south end of Pacifica on a stand-up paddleboard – not diet-related, but exercise is crucial to any nutrition plan), and to develop a vegan tasting menu that rivals one of my more decadent ones. Flavors, textures, variety, and techniques all have to come together to create the same level of excitement and surprise – the heart of any good menu degustation.”
Desert Island Food: “Kale salads are my absolute favorite. Super healthy, balanced nutrition and a nice toothsome bite!”
Resolution-friendly menu: “A great, light menu might consist of fresh summer rolls, followed by a nice piece of grilled fish on some kale salad. For dessert, either a raisin and walnut-stuffed apple, or a simple bowl of winter citrus would be perfect.”
Derek’s Desert Island Kale Salad
The following ingredient amounts are approximate; adjust to your own tastes.
- 1 bunch kale (I love lacinato, but any kind works)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Drizzle of good olive oil
- Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved (when in season)
- Small handful grated or shaved hard cheese (such as asiago or parmigianno)
- 1 avocado, chopped
- Big pinch salt
- Pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste
Wash the kale and remove the center ribs from each leaf. Chop the kale according to your preferences, either in fine ribbons or just torn into larger, bite-sized pieces. Add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt to the kale, and toss with your hands to combine. This can be done ahead of time; it even tenderizes the kale a bit. Toss with a drizzle of good olive oil, then add the tomatoes, avocado, and cheese. Season with pepper and pepper flakes, adjust amounts of any ingredient as necessary.
- 1 c. farro
- 1 c. white wine
- 2 quarts water
- 1 delicata squash, seeds removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 pixie tangerines, peeled
- 1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped fine
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 meyer lemon
- 10 almonds, toasted and crushed
- 1/2 – 1 c. good olive oil
- Salt to taste
- A few shavings of pecorino or other hard cheese (optional)
- A few handfuls fresh baby greens (the best you can find)
And we couldn’t go without asking our resident special-diets expert, Nicole Poirier, for her favorite healthy recipe. Her Thai-style salad is exotic and delicious (and gluten-free!).
Nicole’s California Som-Tam Salad
- 1 chayote squash
- 1 large carrot
- 10 grape tomatoes, halved
- 10 green beans, cleaned and snapped into 1-in. pieces
- 2 c. lettuce or mixed baby greens
- 1/4 c. roasted peanuts, crushed
- 2 tbs. fresh lime juice
- 2 tbs. fish sauce (or Bragg’s Aminos for vegetarians)
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 red Thai chili pepper, minced (optional)
Peel and julienne carrot and chayote, avoiding the pit of the chayote. Place in a mixing bowl and add tomatoes and green beans. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili pepper, if using. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then pour over the vegetables and toss well. On a serving platter, make a bed of the lettuce. Place dressed vegetables on top of the lettuce, and garnish with crushed peanuts and lime wedges, if desired.
Here at Kitchit, we believe that the best part of the holiday season is gathering around the table with family and friends to share, reflect, laugh, and enjoy. In honor of that, we’ve shared some of our favorite holiday food traditions. Here’s to a season filled with good food and good company!
“This year during Christmas, I’ll be cheering on the Cardinal at the Fiesta Bowl! But, my family’s main celebration comes during Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is a big holiday for my family, and we usually gather together at home to cook a beautiful assortment of Chinese holiday specialties. Always on our table are baked, fried, and steamed nian gao — a type of sticky sweet cake made from glutinous rice flour. There is usually some form of noodle dish served, as well. We make pulled noodles from scratch. They are very long, and when we eat them, we are careful not to bite off or break the long strands if we can. The noodles are a symbol for longevity, and eating them ensures a long life ahead!”
“On Christmas Eve my family has an amazing prime rib dinner. My mom makes the best Yorkshire pudding to go with the roast. It’s the first thing I start craving when Christmas time comes! For dessert there is usually a plum pudding, which I loved when I was growing up because I got to light it on fire. It’s been a couple of decades and I still find it fun. After dinner we change into pajamas and gather at the fireplace to take a family photo and hang our stockings. After that I try to get some sleep before waking up to my sisters screaming ‘Merry Christmas!’ and jumping on my bed. Maybe someday I’ll outgrow these traditions, but then again, I love Christmas because it reminds me never to grow up and to always be thankful.“
Mia, Director of Content and Community
“My family’s holiday tradition has always been making latkes, eating too many of them, and then exchanging a bounty of new socks and underwear. And, as if we couldn’t be truer to the stereotype, we’ve even been known to get Chinese takeout and go to the movies on Christmas Day. For the past few years, though, I’ve been celebrating Christmas with my husband’s family, and now get to experience all of the hubbub of Christmas morning that I missed as a kid. We make oatmeal and eggs, slice some beautiful California grapefruits, and, after the presents have been opened, drive to El Grullense in Redwood City, where we fortify ourselves with delicious tacos for our Christmas Day lunch.”
Ian, Chief of Product
“The food that I most associate with the holidays is cranberry sauce from Zabar’s in Manhattan. Actually, pretty much anything from Zabar’s reminds me of the holidays, rIght down to the bagels and lox. Other than that, our signature holiday dish is a rutabaga mash. It’s kind of like mashed potatoes meets spaghetti squash. But one of my favorite holiday food traditions doesn’t actually involve eating. It’s stringing popcorn and cranberry chains for our tree. My mom likes oversized trees (freshly cut and fragrant), so it takes a while to create yards and yards of red and white garlands. But she and I sit around and craft them together, making it a true family tradition — and the effect in the end is classic.”
The Kitchit Holiday Roundup
Although we have plenty of holiday traditions to go around, we thought it would be fun to collect some holiday inspiration from around the web. Below is a sampling of what we found — here’s to spreading the good tidings and cheer!
1. Cherry-red Le Creuset Bakeware: Not only will it look fab on your holiday table, but it can be used whole year round. We especially love the mini cocottes — did someone say chocolate souffle?
2. Gingerbread brownstone: Because making a regular old gingerbread house is just too easy, right?
3. Martha Stewart’s dreidel favor bags: So cute, and very helpful if your Hebrew has gotten a little rusty.
4. A modern fruitcake: We couldn’t resist more Martha, especially with this inspired and seemingly delicious rendition of the oft-maligned classic. Three words: Creme. Fraiche. Frosting.
5. Rosemary gin fizz: Because after all of that celebrating, you’ll need something to wind you down.
6. Michael Aram star ornament: Interfaith families rejoice! Hang this gorgeous star of David on your tree, or on a door or window in place of a wreath.
7. Cavallini Co. garden calendar: Ring in 2012 in vintage-foodie style with this collection of garden-themed prints.
The Perfect Gift for Food Lovers
Skip the hassle of holiday shopping (the traffic, the shipping fees, the 1-day sales…need we go on?) without skimping on great gifts for everyone on your list.
Just in time for the winter holidays, Kitchit is pleased to announce the arrival of gift cards — perfect for anyone on your list who enjoys good food and good company. Gift cards can be purchased, personalized, and delivered through the Kitchit website, so that you can finish (or start) your holiday shopping with just a few clicks of the mouse. You can find Kitchit gift cards here.
A Few Ways to Use a Kitchit Gift
So, what exactly does a Kitchit gift card get you? The are no limits to the experiences you can create with Kitchit, but here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
Enjoy a resolution-friendly dinner with family or friends with Chef Kirsten Goldberg: Kirsten will keep the cheer going well into the new year, but with a menu that focuses on fresh, light (and still delicious) food.
Surprise your valentine with a romantic meal by Chef Ryan Baker: Ryan’s unique, elegant, and innovative food — not to mention attentive service and eye for detail — will make this Valentine’s Day one to remember.
Discover the secrets to great BBQ with resident pitmaster and Chef Sarah Burchard: Heat up a winter evening with authentic, hot & smoky BBQ — or have Sarah teach you the tricks of the trade.
…Or Give Someone $50, On Us!
‘Tis the season for giving…and receiving! When you invite your friends to Kitchit, we will give them a $50 Kitchit credit. And, when they book their first event, you will receive a $50 credit, as a special thank you from us. Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving!
This post is brought to you by the talented Chef James Simpkins, who recently wowed diners with his whole pig roast. Here, he gives all of the details – and a gameday-worthy recipe.
Big Game Pig Roast
A few weeks before the infamous Big Game (the Cal vs. Stanford football game, for the uninitiated) I got my absolute favorite request – ever – from Chris K., a member of Kitchit. He wanted nothing less than “a pig on a spit,” and I was totally psyched to oblige. Being a food history buff and a big fan of cured and smoked meats (a very old cooking method, by the way), I was intrigued – and even more so when this Midwesterner found out that football was involved. Plus, I always embrace the opportunity to show that not everything chefs make has to be served on white linens and eaten with fine silver. A pig roast was in order and it was time to get down and dirty!
This pig roast was basically going to be the ultimate tailgate, which, while awesome, presented a few logistical challenges. I told Chris that while I couldn’t guarantee an actual spit (darn those fire codes), I could get him a pig on a board and deliver it to him—hot—with all the necessary accompaniments. He agreed and we started hashing out our game-day strategy.
Golden Gate Meat Company came through in the clutch with a 56-pound pig—pretty small as pigs go, but perfect for this group of 40-50. A good rule of thumb for smoking meats is to allot an hour of cooking time (low and slow at 225-250°F) for every 10 lbs. you start with. So, I played by the rules and smoked “Claybourne” (as he was later named) for just under six hours, until the shoulder temperature was 165°F. From there, I wrapped the pig to keep him warm and loaded him into the back of my Subaru along with baked beans, potato salad, and lots of cornbread, then headed south to Palo Alto.
From there, it was just a matter of breaking out the paper plates and digging in to the feast! Not only was the food great, but having an old-fashioned pig roast with fifty friends really kicked cheering on the home team up a notch. In fact, I’d say this event sets the new standard for game-day celebrations. And, in case any other Kitchit members agree with me, I’ve even put together a recipe and a couple of unbeatable game-day packages that will suit everyone – from the diehard fans to those of you that are just in it for the good food and good fun.
James’s Gameday Baked Beans
This recipe makes a lot of beans – enough for 15-20 people. If you’re serving a small-ish crowd, feel free to halve the recipe. The baked beans called for in the recipe can be homemade (use your favorite recipe), or if you’re pressed for time, used your favorite brand of canned beans.
- 3lbs. (or 3-4 cans) Baked beans
- 1/3 lb. Smoked beef, pork, sausage, or bacon, chopped fine
- 1/4 c. Heinz ketchup
- 1/4 c. Smoky barbecue sauce (I use Cattlemen’s)
- 1/4 c. Brown sugar
Mix all ingredients together in a large pot, and place over medium heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching, until the flavors have melded and the beans are hot.
For the win: Gameday packages with James Simpkins on Kitchit
Looking to bring the James Simpkins pig roast experience to your house (or backyard) the next time you root for the home team? Or maybe football isn’t your thing, but Sunday brunch still sounds good? Book one of the packages, listed below, by:
*Plus, mention that you read about these packages on the blog, and the Kitchit team will throw in a special treat to make your Sunday meal a little bit sweeter!*
James’ (In)famous Game Day Pig Roast
Call up to 100 of your closest friends for this one-of-a-kind and utterly delicious feast. Package includes:
- 1 whole roasted pig plus standard accompaniments (rolls, sauces, condiments, garnishes)
Choice of 2-3 sides:
- Sweet ‘n smoky baked beans
- Fresh coleslaw
- Potato salad
- Collard greens
- Fresh vegetable mix
- Mac ‘n cheese
All-purpose Sunday Brunch
Whether you plan on tuning into the game or just spending some quality time with friends, this delicious Sunday brunch has you covered. Find up to 30 pals and choose 4 of the following:
- Scones with clotted cream, blackberry preserves, lemon curd
- Dungeness crab soufflé
- Mason-Dixon slow-roasted pork shoulder with cheddar grits and sweet onions
- Asparagus with hollandaise
- Pommes Anna: thinly-sliced yukon gold potatoes with clarified butter
- Frisée salad with crumbled eggs, caramelized onion, blue cheese, warm bacon vinaigrette
- Quiche Lorraine
- NYC-style smoked salmon