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Bay Area Chocolate Gifts

The Bay Area is a wonderful place for chocolate. We have bean to bar manufacturers as well as talented confectioners and pastry chefs all crafting wonderful treats. Today is the deadline for 2 day delivery, so if you’re looking for gifts to arrive in time for Christmas, here are some of my top picks: 
Recchiuti is famous for their burnt caramel truffle, fleur de sel caramels and their wonderful s’mores kit. This year I got a chance to try their Dark Hot Chocolate. Please note, this is not cocoa, it’s real chocolate pistoles, made with a custom South American blend. What are pistoles? It’s the French name for a Spanish coin; the chocolate coins melt into a rich, yet mellow and smooth drink when dissolved with water or milk (or a combination). Or you can add some to your coffee, as my mother-in-law likes to do. It’s won raves from many publications and is a great winter time treat for kids or adults, just under $20.
One of my favorite local confectioners is Charles Chocolate. I’m crazy about their triple chocolate coated almonds and their sweet salty cashew bar, this year I tried two more recent additions to line of chocolate bars, the Toffee Coffee dark milk chocolate bar and the Caramelized Crisped Rice bittersweet chocolate bar. The Toffee Coffee bar has chunks of almond toffee and coffee beans in it, the toffee flavor really comes through deliciously. The Crisped Rice bar has caramelized crisped brown rice that might remind you of a Nestle Cunch bar but it’s much darker and with just a light crunch.The bars are available in mini versions for about $3 each. 
Kika’s Treats makes all kinds of things, including outstanding Salted Crunch Caramels and Salted Nutty Caramels. They also make a line of chocolate covered cookies including different flavors of shortbread and graham crackers. The Caramelized Graham Crackers coated in chocolate are a favorite of mine and you can get them coated in dark chocolate, milk chocolate or 70% Dandelion chocolate. You’ve never had graham crackers like these before, they are thick, crisp and crunchy, and positively irresistible. Each box is $8-10.
Earlier this year I got a chance to try the chocolate panettone From Roy studded with Guittard chocolate. I had never had a panettone as luxuriously airy yet moist, rich and delicious. From Roy recently received an investment in cash and is expanding, offering panettone year round and in a variety of different flavors. It’s made with an Italian starter made from wild yeast and takes 40 hours to make! Last week I ordered one for a friend, but I’m sorry to say they are now sold out. The cakes are $50, but lofty and worth every penny.
Another choice for chocolate lovers would be a book on chocolate, and this year there are two I strongly recommend, neither are cookbooks per se, but both include some recipes.
Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution this compact volume starts by explaining just what bean to bar means and how chocolate is made. It has a lot of Bay Area connections including pages devoted to Scharffen Berger and Guittard, both “chocolate pioneers” and a profile of Dandelion Chocolate.

Along the way there are wonderful features on pairing chocolate with cheese, tea, spirits and more plus recipes including a few from locals Michael Recchiuti and Alice Medrich.

This book is perfect for anyone who loves chocolate and wants to know more about the American chocolate makers, and is looking for new ways to enjoy chocolate. 

Making Chocolate from Bean to Bar to S’more, written by Todd Masonis, founder and CEO of Dandelion Chocolate. It’s a gorgeous coffee table volume that covers everything form how to temper chocolate, how to source cacao and even the equipment used to process chocolate.

The recipes come from Dandelion’s in-house pastry chef, Lisa Vega. Vega gives away the secrets to recipes for cookies, brownies, cakes, drinks and more.

This book is for chocolate aficionados, especially those who want to try their hand at making it or just want to learn more about it. It’s also good for those who want to use different percentage chocolate in recipes. The recipes don’t call out specific brands. 

Disclaimer: I purchased each of the items featured in this post, with the exception of the hot chocolate. The books were review copies and this post includes affiliate links. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate (Video)

All photos by Greg Seber

Pomegranates are one of the best parts of fall and winter months. Won’t you agree? Love the fruit!

Recently, at a private cuisine and culture presentation and lunch event I did for a group of home economists in our house, I was asked if  there was any special technique I used to cut and de-seed a pomegranate. Well, of course there is! I am a pomegranataholic and I better know how to get those ruby red arils out of the fruit as quickly as possible!

How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranat | by Feride Buyuran continue reading

The post How to Cut and De-Seed a Pomegranate (Video) appeared first on AZ Cookbook.

Vegetable Chopper Mandoline Slicer Dicer – Onion Chopper – Vegetable Dicer Food Chopper Dicer Pro – Food Choppers and Dicers – Spiralizer Vegetable Cutter – Veggie Chopper Spiralizer Vegetable Slicer

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The Science of Cooking: Every Question Answered to Perfect Your Cooking

Get answers to all your cooking science questions, and cook tastier, more nutritious food using fundamental principles, practical advice, and step-by-step techniques.

Where does the heat come from in a chili pepper? Why is wild salmon darker than farmed? Does searing meat really “seal in” the juices? A good recipe goes a long way, but if you can master the science behind it, you’ll be one step ahead.

Using full-color images, stats and facts through infographics, and an engaging Q&A format to show you how to perfect your cooking, The Science of Cooking brings food science out of the lab and into your kitchen. Topics include meat and poultry, seafood, dairy, pulses and grains, fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, baked goods, and more, making it perfect for perfecting everyday cooking as well as for special meals.

Silicone Kitchen Tongs,Heavy Duty Non-Stick Stainless Steel Tongs Set with Locking Head and Silicone Tips Serving for Cooking,BBQ,Barbecue,Salad,Steak. 2 Pack ( 9 & 12 Inch ) Green

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Beautiful Brussels Sprouts Video by The Pioneer Woman

I wanted to thank you so much for watching my Creamy Mashed Potatoes video and weighing in last week! I read every comment and the feedback was so helpful as I plan the next several cooking videos. Great suggestions, guys—some of it I never would have thought of myself.

Your suggestions will be reflected in the next round of videos I shoot later this month. In the meantime, I wanted to share this video with you, because this happens to be one of my favorite side dishes of all time (and I think it’s one of the prettiest—look at the color!) I filmed this the same time I filmed the mashed potatoes, and it was lots of fun.

The printable recipe is on my original post if you like to print things out: Beautiful Brussels Sprouts post w/ printable recipe

And here it is in living color!


Lemon-Chocolate Chip Soft Biscotti

These lemon-chocolate chip soft biscotti are an old recipe from my grandma; they are part cookie, part biscotti, sponge-like soft, lemon-scented, and loaded with chocolate chips. Full of traditional flavor and with a recipe that feeds a small army, this is a perfect holiday gifting cookie!

Soft biscotti sliced and laying on parchment paper.

The story behind how I came to unearth this recipe is a long one, so I’ll give you the short and sweet version… I first had something that tasted like these at a friend’s house over the holidays. Someone in her family made them, but that was the first and last time I had them, and then tried for months to recreate them myself, to no avail.

Then I mentioned it to my grandma and tried to explain what they tasted like and what the texture was like, and lo and behold, she said she had a recipe just like that! Apparently she hadn’t made them in years and years because not many people in the family cared for them, which is why I had never tasted them at her house before.

I tried the recipe, and… boom! It was just like what I tasted at my friend’s house and for someone who really, REALLY does not care for lemon-flavored food (neither sweet or savory, just in my ice water, please), the fact that I absolutely love these little soft biscotti says a lot (also, chocolate chips don’t hurt, either).

A sliced lemon and measuring cup with chocolate chips.

Once you read the recipe you may have a few questions, so let’s get those out of the way…

  • This recipe makes A TON. Eight loaves, to be exact. It’s great for the holidays because you can gift them and add them to your cookie trays with wild abandon, but if you don’t have the need for that much, you can definitely scale the recipe down (I recommend keeping the additional egg yolk to retain the tender consistency).
  • This recipe calls for margarine. I know, it’s so 1950’s, but let’s just roll with it here. I have, more than once, unsuccessfully swapped butter for margarine in old recipes, so now I just embrace the margarine. If that’s what my grandma used, that’s what I use.
  • I think you could swap orange peel and juice for the lemon, if you’d like a different flavor profile. Orange and chocolate is delicious, right?!

Overhead shot of soft biscotti sliced on parchment paper.

I call these soft biscotti because the mixing method is nearly identical, they are shaped as such, but they don’t go through the slicing and second bake that traditional biscotti do; the consistency is a little sponge-like, maybe like a tea cake, and they just TASTE old-fashioned, which I love.

They come together fairly quickly and easily, so you get a lot of bang for your buck given how much the recipe makes. And these freeze really well, too… just wrap them up really tightly in plastic wrap and foil, tuck in a freezer bag, and you’ll be all set for last-minute company.

I hope you enjoy this a-little-bit-different-but-totally-delicious recipe that’s just begging to be enjoyed!

Sliced soft biscotti on parchment.

Five years ago: Snowball Cookies
Six years ago: Gingerbread Men Cookies

Did you make this recipe?
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Lemon-Chocolate Chip Soft Biscotti

An old recipe from my grandma full of traditional flavors and perfect for gifting over the holidays!


For the Dough

  • 6 whole eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 3 cups (595 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2½ cups (567 grams) margarine, at room temperature
  • Zest of 6 lemons
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 9 to 10 cups (1,275 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (120 ml) milk
  • 4 cups (680 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • Granulated sugar, for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 9 cups of the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar; set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, blend the eggs and sugar until thoroughly combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the margarine and blend well. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix until smooth and combined.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture alternatively with the milk until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the chocolate chips.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 pieces. Dust the dough lightly with flour if it’s too sticky to handle. Gently shape the dough into logs that are approximately 10 inches by 2 inches, then transfer to the prepared baking sheets (depending on the size of your sheets, you should be able to bake two or three loaves per sheet).
  6. Brush the tops with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and tester comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before slicing. The soft biscotti can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can also add a layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 2 months.

Recipe Notes:

  • While you may be tempted to substitute butter for the margarine, I would caution against it, as it may change the taste and texture of the dough.
  • This recipe can be scaled down if desired.

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

All images and text ©Brown Eyed Baker, LLC.

The post Lemon-Chocolate Chip Soft Biscotti appeared first on Brown Eyed Baker.

Greek to Me & MyHeritage Special Offer

Do I look Greek to you? I don’t think I do but my dad and my uncle both have olive skin and brown eyes, as did their mother who was sometimes misidentified as Italian. Recently I got a chance to try out one of those DNA tests and it estimated my ethnicity at 89.1% Ashkenazi Jewish, 2.2 Balkan and 8.7 Greek. The Ashkenazi and Balkan are not surprising but the Greek is. Of course, Greece isn’t all that far away from Romania and I know that some of my ancestors did come from Romania. 

If you would like to either take one of these DNA tests or give one as a gift, MyHeritage is offering the kit for half off the normal price, just $49 today only and you can get free shipping by going to and using the code MHCOOKINGWITHAMY

Whether or not I’m Greek is up for debate since DNA tests cannot definitely determine your ethnicity, but they are fun. Also have I mentioned I love Greek food? Unfortunately many Greek restaurants in the US have rather limited menus. My two favorite Greek restaurants that go way beyond the most typical dishes are Kokkari in San Francisco Molyvos in NYC. And for rotisserie pita sandwiches or salads I frequent Souvla in San Francisco (don’t miss their frozen Greek yogurt with baklava crumbles or Greek sour cherry syrup). 

If you want to cook Greek food, I’d like to point you in the direction of two fantastic Greek food writers, Diane Kochilas and Aglaia Kremezi. They both have wonderful recipes on their websites. What I love about these two writers is that they really delve beyond the dishes everyone already knows and are part of the healthy Mediterranean diet. Kochilas wrote Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die and Kremezi is author of Mediterranean Vegetarian FeastsI was fortunate enough to meet them at a culinary conference a few years ago. On my wish list? Taking Greek cooking classes from them in Greece, Kremezi teaches at Kea Artisanal and Kochilas teaches on Ikaria

Disclaimer: I received the MyHeritage kit free of charge I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. This post does include affiliate links. 

Perfecting Tonkatsu

Any long-time reader knows that I’m slightly obsessed with pork and pork dishes. One of the first “restaurant” dishes that I fell in love with as a child is tonkatsu, and it’s eggy variant katsudon. I say “restaurant” because this crisp breaded Japanese pork chop dish was something I couldn’t get at home. Japanese recipes were definitely outside my mother’s culinary wheel house. So I could only enjoy a tonkatsu when the family went out for Japanese (which fortunately was quite often, Japanese being my mother’s favorite cuisine, outside of Chinese that is).

My own kids are a little more fortunate in that Su-Lyn and I have dedicated a fair portion of our lives to learning a cookbook’s worth of global recipes that appeal to our little ones (and to us as well). So when T1 demands shabu shabu, a penne Bolognese, or a four cheese pizza, he gets fairly authentic versions, with almost everything made from scratch.

But when I was a kid, ordering a tonkatsu or katsudon was a treat. These were also my preferred go-to dishes in Japanese restaurants until I was about 13. While my parents were sushi lovers, and my brother started appreciating raw fish at an early age, the idea put me off for years. I simply refused to eat it until one day, during my thirteenth year, I suddenly realized that maybe I was missing out on something delicious. I boldly ordered a sashimi deluxe, much to the surprise of my family. Plus a warning from my mother, who said that I should have ordered just one or two pieces to try and that I had to finish the entire “deluxe” platter “or else!”.

Today, I’m still a huge tonkatsu fan. I’m constantly looking out for awesome versions, both here in Singapore and overseas. The best I’ve had, or at least my favourites, have been at Butagumi and Katsuzen, both in Tokyo. What I look for is a moist, tender, flavourful pork cocooned in a crisp yet still somewhat fluffy batter. The color of the crust is really important too; it can’t be overcooked, i.e. too dark and tasting a little burnt.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally dabbled with making tonkatsu at home, but because we can get pretty great variants here in Singapore, I never really got serious about it. And partly because of that (and partly because of a lack of proper research), the ones I made at home never matched what I’d eaten in better restaurants.

This past week, however, I decided to get serious. The superwife was going to be out, which gave me time and the opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. I also finally decided to skim a few recipes, both in cookbooks I own and online.

I also remembered that 5 years back, Su-Lyn and I learnt how to make a delicious crisp fried pork loin noodle soup dish (pakomen) from the chefs at the Capitol Hotel Tokyu. What struck me about that pork preparation was that the marinated loin was dredged in potato starch.

I decided to do that this time as well. I had marinated my pork loin for a few hours in soy sauce and sesame oil. Having wiped it dry, I pounded it flat with a kitchen mallet; not so flat that it would tear, but at least 50% flatter than it was originally. I then dredged the pork in the potato flour and dipped it into beaten eggs, making sure it was entirely coated. I then placed that into a bowl with panko.

Now, I’ve found that when you do a simple flour-egg-panko breading, sometimes when you fry your meat, a lot of the panko breaks or falls off in the hot oil. On those occasions, the crumbs simply haven’t bonded sufficiently. I’d also read that a moist panko crumb sticks better. So, after coating my pork lightly but evenly with panko, I dipped it back in the egg, then returned it to the panko. The resulting crust had just the right consistency, i.e. the right thickness and it seemed to hold together well.

I then placed the breaded pork on a tray lined with baking paper and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I’ve learned also that it’s good to let breaded meats rest for a bit. This helps the crust to settle and stay together when frying.

Before frying, I took the pork out of the fridge and let it rest for another 15-20 minutes, mostly because I didn’t want the internal temperature of the pork to be too cold. In the meantime, I got a pot ready and heated up my oil. You want the oil to be able to almost submerge the pork when you fry it. I also prepared a wire rack, placed over a tray.

Once the oil was ready (test it by tossing in a few panko crumbs — it should start to bubble right away), place your pork carefully in. Fry for 90 seconds then flip the pork carefully and fry for another 90 seconds. Remove the pork and place on the wire rack. Wait for 5 minutes.

Just like with French Fries, if you want a crispier tonkatsu, the secret is in double frying. The resting time between fries also allows the pork to gently cook. After 5 minutes, place the pork back in the oil, cooking for 2 minutes, then flipping and cooking for another 2 minutes. Take the pork out, shake off excess oil carefully and return it to the wire rack. Let it rest for another minute and then you’re ready to cut it up and wolf it down.

Now, this might seem like an awful lot of steps to make something as simple as a breaded pork cutlet, and it is. Which is why it’s sometimes simpler to head out for certain dishes. But I’m happy I’ve finally perfected this. As are my kids, both of whom like tonkatsu (although probably not as much as I do). And now I know I can make this for the rug rats at home whenever they want, which makes the time and effort to do this properly totally worth it.

I hope this works for you as well. Happy eating.

The post Perfecting Tonkatsu appeared first on Chubby Hubby.