Kouign-Amanns: You Will Definitely Need to Have More than One

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Starter Bakery

“Kouign – a mann” one of the most oddest spelling words I have encountered lately. It is pronounced “queen a-mahn” in case your having a hard time pronouncing it. But let me tell you that these pastries are to do die for, and not to sound cliche, but they are. Standing in the middle of the sidewalk we all reached for what looked like the most sugary croissant I had ever seen. I grabbed one and it filled my entire hand. I didn’t even know where to start because it just looked so god damn good. Sprinkles of sugary fell into my hand which I ate before I even took my first bite. And then it was that time. I took my first large bite into the kouign-amann. My whole body started to sink and melt. All I could taste was lots and lots of sugar with warm taste of butter. I didn’t want to swallow the bite because I didn’t want the sensation to end. The kouign-amann melted in mouth and before I knew it I had eaten the entire kouign-amann. It was by far the most scrumptious morning pastry I had ever tasted. Not going to lie but two days later my friend and I visited a local bakery so we could get some more. Let me tell you ahead of time that these are the most addicting pastries you will eat, I don’t really see that as a bad thing. But trust me you won’t regret eating more than one of these.

Joe’s Special: My Family’s Comfort Food

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Joe’s Special is a go to meal in my household. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, it is a traditional Italian American dish made of spinach, eggs, mushrooms, diced onions, and ground beef. My father was the main cook in the family, I apologize to my mom for not being the best cook in the world but at least she tried. I have two other sisters, and let me tell you that were the three most pickets eaters growing up. Talking to my father this past weekend I asked him how it was like cooking for three girls growing up. He said, “Cooking for you was hard and frustrating when you were little. You didn’t like spicy foods too much and I cooked with a lot of spices. It was fun cooking pasta for you though especially mac &cheese. You really loved that.” However, my father emphasized when it came to pasta he would always have to make three types of sauces because me and my two sisters like three different pasta toppings. He said, “You were very picky about sauces on your pasta. You still are. I had to use white Alfredo sauce instead of regular red sauce on the pasta every time for you.” My two younger sisters have two preferences, the middle sister loves marinara sauce and the youngest sister loves just plain butter on pasta. Whereas, I prefer Alfredo sauce. That was only pasta, trying to force-feed us the vegetables was the difficult part. That is where the Joe’s Special comes in. My father said, “You didn’t like vegetables too much, so I would make Joe’s Special which had everything in it. For some reason you would eat that. I guess disguising foods made you eat them.” Joe’s Special was the first way my father got us to eat our vegetables enjoyable, and has become our favorite family meal to this day. When my sister two years younger than me and I return home from college for holiday breaks, Joe’s Special and pasta is the first family dinner meal we have. For me, vegetables have never been more enjoyable unless there in Joe’s Special. Joe’s Special is my father favorite meal, and he credits all his cooking to his Uncle Tony who use to be a chef. He learned all his recipes from him and it made my father a great cook. My sisters, my mother, and I definitely lucked out with getting a father that knew how to cook for us picky eaters.

Japan Town, San Francisco

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Sushi has always been a go to food for me. When I don’t know what to eat I usually resort to sushi. This is what I thought was considered traditional Japanese food. But little did I know that there was a whole variety of other foods that were considered part of the traditional Japanese culture. Last week we got to explore Japan town of San Francisco. We got to explore new kinds of recipes and foods that were significant to the people of the Japanese culture. However, for me, the different types of foods were not foods I enjoyed too well. I don’t want to give the tour a bad review because the experience was something I wouldn’t regret and my tour guide was very informative and knew so much about the neighborhood and its traditions. I’m glad I tried new things because honestly those food items would have never been my first choices to order off the menu. Experiencing the food was overwhelming for me, a lot of salty and fishy items. If you enjoy the taste of the ocean water in your mouth or a scent of the fish docks than maybe that kind of food is right for you. There is one item which I was really impressed with. We ate at a small local convenient store called Super Mira Market, the food item was called Oyaka Don. It was made up of organic chicken, green onions and eggs with a base of white rice. These items I was familiar with and the combination gave me the sensation of being at home and waking up to home cooked breakfast. It felt warm and calming and didn’t give me too many overwhelming flavors to take in. Also, getting a glimpse at the convenient store showed a lot of cultural differences that are unique to the neighborhood. I think the setting also contributed to the homelike feeling the food gave me. It showed how tradition and culture play an important role in what makes up the neighborhood and the people in it.

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What do you get when you cook with Marshmallows, Parmesan Cheese, and Green Onions?

Marshmallows, parmesan cheese, and green onions. Three ingredients you couldn’t even imagine trying to mix together in one meal. However, I managed to find a dinner I could whip up including all three. One recipe I found that included marshmallows was candied yams. I had only had yams once in my life when I was very young, so I had no clue what to expect. All I knew was taking a first glance of the ingredients: brown sugar, butter (lots and lots of butter), marshmallows, and a can of sweet potatoes; is it would be very very sweet. Cracking open the can of yams I was surrounded by aromas of sweet syrup. I spread the yams along the glass pan and then began to dice out cubes of butter over the yams. I scooped a large cup of brown sugar out of the bag and sprinkled a layer all over the yams until it was completely brown. Finally came the moment where I got to tear open the bag of mini marshmallows. I smoothed out fluffily marshmallows along the top of the yams, butter, and brown sugar. The dish looked like a layer of clouds that you wanted to lay down on or squish with your hands. It was tempting not to touch the marshmallows or pick at them while waiting to put them in the over. After twenty-five minutes of waiting in the kitchen that smelled like smokes I finally got to take the finished product out of the oven. The golden brown marshmallows laid on a bed of sugary brown syrup that looked more like a dessert than dinner.

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Taking the focus of the of the sweet sugary marshmallows, I accompanied the candied yams with a parmesan cream sauce with diced green onions in garlic that would top breaded chicken. I’m assuming most people know how to make breaded chicken so I’m only going to focus on the parmesan cream sauce. Before I even start to describe the sauce, I just want to say it turned out phenomenal. All you need is some cream cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic, milk, and of course everyone’s favorite ingredient butter. All of this you throw into a saucepan to boil until creamy and smooth sauce appears before your eyes. I dipped my finger into the sauce to see if anything needed to be added and to my surprise it was just perfect. Garlic, buttery, creamy smooth tastes filled my mouth. I drizzled it over the baked breaded chicken, which added a kick to the moist crunchy chicken. Then served alongside the yams it was the perfect combination of salty and sweet. Trust me when I was given those ingredients to work with I was t first completely doubtful, but to my surprise I turned out with a delicious dinner.

 

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Candied Yams

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup of butter ( I used 1/2 cup of butter)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of marshmallows ( I used the whole bag)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Place sweet potatoes in a medium baking dish. Distribute butter pieces evenly over the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Layer with miniature marshmallows.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven 25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender and marshmallows have melted.

Parmesan Cream Sauce with Diced Green Onions

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • salt

Directions: 

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Saute the garlic and green onions for about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, milk or half-and-half, and Parmesan cheese and heat until hot and smooth. Stir in pepper and salt, to taste.

My Kitchen Disaster

Lesson 1. Never put foil in the microwave. Baking brownies may seem like an easy process, especially when your following directions on the back of the box. However, when putting two thirteen year old in charge, something is always bound to go awry. My best friend and I decided on day after school to make brownies for a bake sale our school was having. Brownies were the easiest option to bake, all we had to do to was follow four easy steps. The first mistake, and the biggest mistake, we made was putting the butter wrapped in foil into the microwave. Thirty seconds in when were started to smell burned rubber. Black swirls of smoke were exiting the microwave, and at that instant we sprinted over to see flames inside. We quickly threw open the microwave and waved down a rag on top of the burned butter. After we scrapped away the burned foil from the butter we mixed the butter and oil into the brownies mix and shoved it quickly into the oven and waited. We were finally done and felt accomplished. This only lasted until we took the brownies out of the oven and we tried cutting the sheet into small pieces. Our knife could barely make its way through, it was as solid as a rock. We didn’t put them into the oven too  long and we had the temperature set just right. After about a half hour of trying to figure it out we looked at the ingredients list again. We completely forgot the eggs. We looked at each other in complete laughter as we stared at our block of chocolate. From that point on, we discovered it was probably best for our mothers to do the baking for now.

Mission Neighborhood Food Tour

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This past Friday I went on a food tour through the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. Before I begin to describe the endless fulfilling tastes I was introduced to, I want to say I was blown away and very much intrigued by the food we got to sample. The neighborhood in the Mission in which we became familiar with as we walked along the the streets for three hours gave us a glimpse into how diverse and culturally the Mission was. The Mission has always been a primarily Hispanic neighborhood but has continued to grow to accept people of all different nationalities and has built strong connections with one another. The first stop on our tour was a place called Mission Minis. Mission minis has been a local bakery which serves different types of mini cupcakes. As I walked in I scanned by eyes among the choices in front of me, it was overwhelming let me tell you. The options I had were Meyer Lemon Creme, Peanut Butter Kiss, Classic Vanilla, Double Chocolate, Ruby Red Velvet, and Cinnamon Horchata. I chose the classic red velvet cupcake. Taking my first bite of the cupcake, I felt my teeth sink into the top layer of cream cheese frosting. Finally tasting the red velvet batter with the cream cheese began to slowly melt onto my tongue. The red velvet cupcake was moist and fluffy until it dissolved away and I quickly put the second half of the mini cupcake into my mouth. There is now better way than starting off your morning with a little sugary kick.

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Making our way through the neighborhood, our next location was a Jewish Delicatessen, called Wise Sons. Wise Sons is known for the freshly baked bread and signature pastrami sandwiches. They have endless options and favorites, but our group tour got to try there famous pastrami sandwich on rye bread. I personally have never been a huge pastrami fan, I am one of those people who stick there simple turkey sandwiches and very rarely venture out of the box. However, today was that exception. The server brought us out plates of steaming pastrami sandwiches. I could see the steam rising out of the sandwich from the hot pastrami in the cold air. Cold pickle slices accompanied the sandwiches as the waiters recommended they were a good blend together. I spread mustard on the top of the sandwich, which I felt was a key addition to the sandwich. The mustard was very tangy and added flavor to the salted pastrami. The rye bread added a calming sensation to the mixture and mellowed both taste overall. Together, all three flavors created a crafty blended sandwich.

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Across the street was a place called Local Mission Eatery. It was a very small hole in the wall place that gave me a homy feeling right when I walked in the door. They had beautifully lit chandeliers hanging above the tables in the room and along the walls they have black and white images printed on the tiles of people and places around the city. The images on the wall made me appreciate the people and places that sometimes go unnoticed when we walk around the city. The goal of the this eatery was that all there food was grown locally. Still warm and freshly prepared, we were served toasted sandwiches. Just from looking at it I could not tell what I was about to bite into. I took a bite and I could hear the crunchy toasted bread start to crinkle. My mouth was filled with a sweet, buttery, and bitter taste. I couldn’t put a finger on it about what was making it sweet but at the same time a little tangy. The waiter told us that the sandwich was made of ricotta, kale, pumpkin butter, and green apple slaw. These were all ingredients I would have never expected to put together and they were also ones I had never tried. I devoured the sandwich within seconds of my first bite.

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Before we hit the the fourth stop on our tour, we go to experience the beautiful art pieces and murals of Balmy Alley. Living in San Francisco all my life, I couldn’t believe I had never walking down Balmy Alley. Balmy Alley’s murals began in the mid-80’s. We were lucky enough to have a tour guide who told us the overall meanings of each mural. The murals began as an expression over human rights and political abuses. I recommend getting a tour for the murals, which we received one from Precita Eyes Mural Arts just down the street from Balmy Alley.

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After visiting Balmy Alley and the Precita Eyes Mural Arts store, we made our way to Pig and Pie. The aromas of the eatery were overwhelming me with anticipation of what we were going to eat. I sat down on a bar stool at a counter overlooking the kitchen. I watched as the chef delicately prepared each sausage with sauerkraut and mustard that would soon be served to us. Finally, a plate was placed down in front of me. The sausage was warm and salty, and the sauerkraut and beer mustard on top filled my mouth with all sorts of bitter and invigorating flavors which I still can wrap my head around in order to describe. The beer mustard I thought was exquisite. I kept adding more onto the sausage when I was running low because it  added so much powerful flavoring to the concoction. My two friends and I saw a freshly baked batch of red velvet twinkles come out on the oven and heading toward the shelf. We could not resist leaving without trying one. Who wouldn’t want to try a red velvet twinkie. As we were about to leave, we decided to run up and buy one. The outside layering of red velvet reminded me of a sponge when I looked at it. The twinkie was so fluffy and light and the inner layering of cream cheese frosting filled my mouth with sweetness and delight.

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The food tour through the Mission Neighborhood gave me so much more appreciation for the city I have grown up in. It showed me how much more there is to find and learn about in my hometown. I learned I need to venture out more and take the time to experience more food and also the culture. There is so much to learn about in San Francisco and especially the diversity of the people and food in it.

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Regalito Rosticeria

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Growing up in San Francisco has exposed me to all types of foods, ranging from Japanese to Mexican to Italian and even Burmese food. The varieties of food in San Francisco are endless. In particular, I want to focus on the Mission District. The Mission district has phenomenal Mexican food along with so many other different cuisines. When I take a stroll down Valenica Street I find numerous hole in the wall and upcoming restaurants that I am so eager to try. About two months ago, my entire family tried this new restaurant called Regalito Rosticeria. It was a Sunday evening, and honestly, I was in no mood to eat Mexican food. I walked into the restaurant and was surprised to see how modern and artistic is was. Beautiful murals and art pieces hung on the walls which gave it warm and vibrant feeling. As my family sat down, the waiters brought us corn tortilla chips and large bowls of guacamole, my absolute favorite dish to have when eating Mexican food. You can never go wrong with guacamole. However the chips were not just ordinary triangular tortilla chips, they were large round hard corn tortillas that you would break and dip into the guacamole. I thought it was such a odd way to serve chips but at the same time kind of brilliant. Coming from a large family, snatching the most amount of tortilla chips at the beginning of meal is an issue for our family, but at this restaurant we all got one big circle tortilla that we would break ourselves without having to share. My family did a family style dinner option where we had endless small plates come out at each time. The first small plate we received was chicken taquitos. Before I even start to describe the taquitos, I want to point out how mouth watering they are even when I think of them. The taquitos consisted of soft corn tortillas wrapped around shredded chicken. They were topped with a light cold cream sauce, circles of cheese, cilantro and fresh chopped up salsa. The salsa was a very mild and refreshing. It complimented the taquitos really well and gave it a little bit of tang and extra flavoring.

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We had three plates of taquitos delivered to the table and they were gone within a few minutes. The next small plate that made its way to the table was a dish which consisted of roasted potatoes topped with chile strips, cheese and a light cream sauce. The light cream sauce must be a signature recipe for the restaurant since they serve it on both of the small plates. The light cream sauce tasted like a mix of sour cream with a hint of cheese and maybe some type of citrus ingredient. Roasted potatoes would not be something I expected to eat at a Mexican restaurant but it tasted amazing with the chile strips and cream sauce. I added a little of salsa on to the potatoes and I highly recommend doing it, it reminded me of dipping potatoes into ketchup but with tad bit more kick to it. The final small plate was one of my favorites, enchiladas. The chicken enchiladas were garnished with cheese, the light cream sauce, and onions and cilantro. I think the combination of the onions and the light cream sauce gave the most flavor to the enchiladas. The enchiladas were also laying on a bed of green chile sauce which gave a strong potent flavor to it. When ordering at this restaurant, sharing small plates is the way to go because you get a little bit of everything. And everything that I tried was absolutely amazing and definitely hard to forget. To top the whole meal off, our dessert was churros. I always think of churros as being at amusement parks or ball parks and to get for my dessert was the icing on top of the cake. Growing up churros were always my go to thing to get at baseball games, and there hard to find just at ordinary stores or restaurants. The warm dough covered with lots of cinnamon was hard to not gobble down in one bit. I would recommend this restaurant highly for those looking to experience a modern take on Mexican food and to experience the Hispanic culture with in San Francisco.

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