Monday, June 29, 2015

Recipe: Lamb Kofta (egg & gluten free)

This is a healthy and fragrant dish, just delicious for grilling in the summer and serving with salad or on slider buns with hummus.

Lamb Kofta


4 cloves garlic
1 tbpsn grated or crushed ginger (or 1 tspn ground dried ginger)
1 tbspn ground coriander seed
1 tspn cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
4 pods cardamom (or 1 tspn ground cardamom)
1 zucchini
1/2 onion
1 lb ground lamb
salt & pepper

Method


  • Before you begin prepare a large mixing bowl and a tray to place the formed kofta on
  • Grate or dice the zucchini finely and add to the bowl
  • Cut the onion into chunks and add to a food processor



  • Add all the spices to the processor - salt, pepper, cinnamon, cummin, coriander, cardamom, all spice, garlic and ginger
  • Puree the onion until the spices are well integrated - you may need to grind the cardamom pods before adding to the onion mix. 




  • Place the onion/spice puree and the ground meat into the bowl and mix with your hands until the spices and vegetables are well distributed throughout the meat
  • Pull a small ball of meat out of the mixture and roll with your hands, then play "patty cake" and toss the meat slightly between your hands. This ensures a firmer and consistent shape. 
  • For sliders form into burger patty shapes or for kofta kebab roll into a small cylinder and thread onto a kebab. 
  • Makes 8 small patties (155 cals, 3g fat, 2.5g net carb) or 12 kofta kebabs (103 cals, 2g fat, 1.5g net carb)


  • Grill on a hot barbecue or a cast iron skillet until browned ~7 mins
  • The vegetables lighten the dish and add 'stickiness' meaning you do not need egg or wheat making this a perfect gluten free or keto dish when served with salad
  • This is a great dish to prepare in large batches. Anything you are not eating immediately can be covered in plastic and moved to the freezer. Once frozen remove the kofta from the tray and store in an airtight plastic bag or container. 

Kofta Sliders



Thursday, June 25, 2015

Goth Gourmande Recipes now on Yummly

If you like my comfort food and low carb recipes you'll be happy to know I have added them all to Yummly.com


Yummly allows you to save and share recipes and find plenty of new content. You can search by ingredients and they have a "paleo" option to turn up low carb recipes.

You'll find the Yum button at the bottom of each blog entry, click the "Yum" button to add it to your Recipe box or you can go to the Goth Gourmande Yummly page to see all my tasty recipes in one place. Why not try it out?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Stone Korean Kitchen, San Francisco

There's nothing quite like dinner and a movie for a date right? The Landmark at Embarcadero is one of my favourite cinemas in San Francisco, all documentaries and indie films and reminiscent of the Dendy in Australia. I'm always on the look out for good food nearby little theatres like this and so we stumbled upon Stone housed in a small back building near the tourist district of San Francisco. 



Like many business dristricts this area is quiet at night but the restaurant has mostly Korean diners and is packed by the time we're served dinner so this is always a good sign.


Korean alcohol like Cass & Hite beer are available. Most Korean beer is very light in flavour and designed to be drunk ice cold with steaming hot spicy food.


Banchan - free with meal

Small plates of pickles, vegetables and small fish are provided before the meal and refills are available. 



Spicy pork belly $21USD

A healthy serving of pork belly is marinated in gochujang chilli and vegetables. This isn't the best spicy pork I've ever had as the fat hasn't been rendered enough out of the pork. I'd skip this and get more beef or a bipimbap bowl.


Kalbi $21USD 

Beef short ribs are cut across the bone and marinated in a sweet soy and sesame dressing then grilled hot with brown onions. I prefer it when they leave the meat strips along the rib ready to be rolled out, but you can't have it all this is still a solid redition. The meat quality is fairly good and the marinade is not overpowering. 


Ssam for 2 $52

If you're going to get barbecue I definitely recommend this as the way to go. Two barbecue proteins with lettuce wraps, chilli, miso, sesame oil and salts and a serving of bowl of tofu kimchi stew. 



Ssam means "to wrap" and this is how you should eat Korean barbecue, take a piece of lettuce then spread with some chilli and/or miso. Top with hot vegetables and meat and then wrap the lettuce and eat whole like a taco. Delicious!


Cheese corn $7USD

In Japan this kind of food is known as yoshoku but I don't know the Korean name for it - essentially it  is "Western Food" but it is generally unrecognisable outside Asia. Gratin is a common form of yoshoku and corn served with mayonnaise and cheese is a fairly common side dish or topping. It's delicious though and a good accompaniment to all the meat. 


Soon doobu $16USD (or included with Ssam set meal)

Soon doobu - soft tofu stew - is one of my all time favourite dishes. Soft fresh silken tofu is cooked with vegetables and meat in a tomato, malt and chilli stew and topped with a raw egg. Served in a sizzling hot pot the egg cooks in the steaming stew. This is a very good rendition rich and spicy but not overpowering. Various levels of hotness are available, this dish comes default with seafood but we request it vegetarian. 

The service is fairly quick and the food is decent but not amazing. The Korean food in Japantown is definitely better quality but the soon doobu is excellent and I intend to return for some of their other homelier dishes rather than barbecue. They have various options of dolsot bipimbap - sizzling rice topped with meat, egg and vegetables that beg a return.

Stone Korean Kitchen

http://www.stonekoreankitchen.com/

Embarcadero Center
4 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bask, San Francisco

I come from a Basque family so going to a restaurant like this means competing with my grandmother's cooking, and that's dangerous. San Francisco has a surprisingly large Basque community including multiple Basque restaurants and a cultural centre, so I'm hopeful when I book dinner with friends.


The Lauburu (Basque cross) is on just about everything, which is a sure sign that the staff and owners are actually Basque. I have a lauburu tattoo which quickly draws attention from our waiter and he asks about where my family is from. It turns out the chef at Bask is from Eibar in Gipuzkoa - the same home town as my family - and the food is consequently authentic and familiar.

There are larger 'main' dishes on the menu but I think of pintxos as the ultimate Basque food, and since I'm catching up with friends from Australia some drinks and a variety of small plates is about perfect.



Charcuterie plate $15USD

Serrano ham, chorizo and blood sausage are served with lots of bread. Every meal with my family would start with chorizo and bread so this is a must for me. This is chorizo as I remember it - hard cut spicey cured paprika sausage not the soft fresh sausage mince style that is common in Californian Mexican cooking.


Goat Cheese $10USD

Covered with pistachio and honey served over sultanas and caramelised onions then baked until warm and gooey. Perfect for sharing if you can fight your other diners for the dish. The tart goat cheese is offset by the sweet honey and crunchy nuts making this a perfect multi taste multi texture dish.


Albondigas $10USD

Basque style meatballs served in tomato sauce. Meatballs might seem simple but they call out to childhood nostalgia for just about everyone. Unlike American meatballs most European meatballs are made with multiple types of meat - in this case Lamb and Beef. I'm glad for the additional flavour profile since Lamb is not that common here in San Francisco. The sauce is very traditional and worth scooping up with the bread.


Ham Croquettes $9.50USD

Another childhood favourite croquetas in many forms are common throughout Spain. These are a traditional ham croquettes with an egg and roux based soft and salty filling. Perfect drinking food.


Gambas al ajillo $9.50USD

Prawns are fried simply in olive oil and garlic and served with lemon and a spicy aioli


Brie Bites $10.50USD

Not for the dieter this is rich beyond compare. Chunks of brie are covered in breading and then deep fried, served with a sweet jam. 


Tortilla $9USD

When people in California talk about tortillas they mean the thin corn or wheat bread products, but this egg and potato frittata is what the Spanish mean. Thinly sliced onion and potato is mixed with egg and fried in a pan then sliced into portions. This rendition is covered in more of the spicy aioli served with other dishes. 



Patatas Bravas $9USD

Another potato dish and a sure hit for the family - fried potates are served in a spicy tomato sauce. Great with cold beer or cider.


Arugula Salad $10USD

All that rich food needs a few vegetables to cut through the fat. This is really a California style dish but goes well with the Basque food. Arugula is dressed and toped with beets, blue cheese, walnuts and apple. 



 Brussel Sprouts $9.50USD

Brussel sprouts are one of those foods that I have discovered as an adult. Many people find that the savoury taste is only appealing as they age but for me these were decidedly absent in my house altogether - I am the only fan in my family! This is a great classic version fried with bacon and topped with parmesan cheese. The savoury taste is excellent with the meat dishes.


Flan $7USD

Time for dessert for some of the diners! We opt for more traditional Spanish options. Flan is an egg custard baked with a toffee bottom that self sauces when turned out of the custard cup. This isn't the best flan I've had - you can see the air bubbles have not been well tapped out so that the custard isn't as smooth as I like. The taste is spot on though. 


Churros $7USD

Churros are fairly common in California where there is a large Latin population but this is just how they should be served - covered in cinnamon sugar in small bites with a rich chocolate dipping sauce. If you can fit in more fried food after all those tasty tapas this is recommended and my partner looks like a kid in a candy shop as he wades in.

My impression? The food was very authentic and tasty, there is a huge range of small dishes that is sure to appeal to just about every diner including children and fussy eaters. There's a great range of wine, beer and cider available if you want to stay for a few drinks and small nibbles. Service was good though the restaurant was very busy on a Saturday night. Well worth a stop, I will definitely be taking family here when they visit.

Bask

http://www.basksf.com

42 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94111

Basque comfort food and small plates, great for sharing and drinking

Review: Mifune, Japantown San Francisco

Of all the restaurants in Japantown in San Francisco Mifune is the one that feels most like a real family restaurant from Japan. Specialising in family comfort food and good quality noodle dishes this is a great option for a casual date or a small group of friends looking for a drink and some down home Japanese cooking. Mifune is a semi regular restaurant option for us - whenever I'm eating carbs it's one of the first places I want to eat. Mifune was listed in the 2007 Michelin Guide for San Francisco, long since knocked off the list by high end eateries brought by tech dollars but it is in my mind still worth a stop for visitors checking out Japantown.


The decor is like something straight of a Japanese department store food hall bistro. Housed in the bottom of one of the Japantown mall buildings the restaurant is all dark wood, red paint and Japanese woodprints. Small fences provide privacy from other diners making dinner conversation relatively easy despite the restaurant generally being packed.


Imported Asahi $6USD

Import Japanese alcohol is available for sale like Asahi, Saporo and Sake. Importantly this is not the Asahi brewed in Canada which is usually sold in stores in the US and tastes completely different. 


Croquette $4.20USD

Served exactly as you might get them in Japan these crispy potato croquettes are filled with mash potato and covered in panko breadcrumbs. Served on a bed of cabbage with tonkatsu sauce - a sweet sticky BBQ sauce that goes well with meat and deep fried dishes. These croquettes are suspiciously uniform and look like they're made in a factory and possibly imported from Japan like most of the croquettes you can find in stores in Japantown. Don't let that put you off they're delicious and they go great with a cold beer or soda.


Kappamaki $4.20USD

Diced cucumber sushi appetiser is okay but not the best - mostly due to inferior sushi rice. My advice is stick to the noodle and fried comfort dishes.


Sukiyaki Nabe $9.80USD

Nabe is a Japanese take on noodle hot pot, this dish comes with Udon, sukiyaki beef and lots of vegetables. A cold salad comes as a set. The beef is good and the Udon is excellent but I find the nabe soup very thin, there are better dishes on the menu. I have a similar complaint with the ramen at Mifune, despite their excellent trade in noodles the broths are too thin to bother with.


Curry soba $7.80USD

Chewy delicious hand made soba noodles are served topped with a beef and vegetable Japanese style curry with pickled vegetables and egg. This is a very hearty dish and more than a bit messy, definitely one to eat on your own or with friends rather than a date you're trying to impress. That being said good quality noodles and thick moorish Japanese curry is a hard combination to beat. Don't expect anything ground breaking in the curry - this is very similar to boxed House curry but it has that delicious comfort food appeal. This dish can also be served with Udon noodles for the same price.


Zaru cha soba $6.50USD

This is not an easy dish to find in the US and definitely one of my favourites to order from Mifune. Buckwheat noodles are made with green tea, oiled and served cold with toppings like scallion, shaved daikon and seaweed. The noodles are chewy and pungent with tea, the dish is very simple but very filling and makes a great option for those looking for plain food. For the gluten free diners it's worth noting that buckwheat is not actually wheat and therefore this is a gluten free option.


Tenzaru Udon  $6.50USD

Thick chewy wheat udon noodles are oiled and served cold in a boat covered in tempura vegetables and prawn with a soy dipping sauce and toppings. The Udon is good if you like that texture but pales in comparison to the soba. 


Mifune special $8.50USD

This dish is very similar to the tenzaru udon - a half serve of Udon / Soba noodles is topped with vegetable and prawn tempura. A soy dipping sauce is provided for the noodles, mix the wasabi and vegetables into the dipping sauce to your taste. I recommend all the wasabi. This is a great one plate option of all the best of Mifune and at a very reasonable price making it a great option for a mid week meal or pre movie munch.


Tempura moriawase $6.00USD

If you order Tempura on it's own without noodles you will receive a large mixed plate that is more than enough as a meal on its own. A range of vegetables like broccoli, pumpkin, onion, sweet potato, capsicum are provided. Two huge Japanese sweet shrimp (ebi) , a piece of fish and a crispy fried seaweed cracker are also usually included. Actual inclusions vary week to week and seem to be seasonal. For six dollars this is a steal, the batter is always light and the oil fresh. 


Daimyo Set Meal (Teishoku) $14.00USD

This set meal really shows the Japanese chefs having adapted to the US market and providing more food than any one person can possibly eat. There are several other set meal options but this one includes a California roll, salad, full plate of tempura and a hot soy soba noodle dish with fish cakes and tea. All of the food is good quality but there really is too much of it and I eat half of most items and then look sadly at the rest. Because of the nature of the noodles and fried batter this is not a dish worth taking home for leftovers. If you are going to order a set meal at Mifune I suggest splitting it with a friend. 

Mifune is usually packed to the gills on the weekend, particularly if there is an event on in Japantown. No reservations are taken and a polite but firm queue is formed of hungry diners waiting for a table. If you're starving or have impatient family this might not be a great choice unless you come early or late. The key to their success is good quality simple food churned quickly. This means that you get efficient but possibly icy service. If you dawdle after finishing your meal the bill will be brought and your table cleared before you can say "should we stay for another beer?" My advice is after eating retire to another venue for drinks and conversation.

Mifune have two other restaurants in Japantown - Mifune Don is a casual diner serving rice bowls and Mifune Bistro is an upstairs option with lunch style dishes. Skip these and head to the main restaurant next to Isobune.

Mifune



Japan Center Kintetsu Building: 
1737 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94115


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Recipe: Bacon Lettuce and Tomato (BLT) Salad

People on my low carb recipe board are always looking for more salad options, this is a simple but delicious salad that goes great with any meal. Try it with your favourite breakfast meats (or low carb breakfast burrito omnom), a light lunch or a quick post work dinner.


BLT Salad 


1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2 cups arugula (rocket)
4 slices bacon
Olive Oil
Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Method


  • Multiply the above values by the number of diners for a plate sized serving
  • Cut your bacon strips in half and grill in the oven until crispy. 
  • Around 8 - 10 mins under the grill (broiler) should suffice, be sure to turn your bacon once

  • In a bowl place the arugula & halved cherry tomatoes
  • Crumble the bacon slices into the salad
  • Sprinkle with the oil & vinegar then season with salt and pepper
  • Toss liberally with salad tongs until the dressing and seasoning is well distributed
  • Be careful what vinegar you use - balsamic is common in salads but adds significant carbs to this salad. Using cider vinegar this is 2g net carbs per serving


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Snapshot: Powell's Sweet Shoppe, Windsor

One of the best things in small towns is old fashioned sweet shops, or milk bars as I'd have called them. Powell's is a fantastic example in Sonoma which offers huge ranges of themed candy and gifts. Powell's have several locations around the Bay Area but since these days I only eat sugar on vacations it's best that I don't visit any of the others!


Kids delight candies abounded everywhere like cheap chews, gum, lollipops and chocolate bars. Many old fashioned selections were available and an entire wall of jelly bean flavours.


Big sections of themed sweets can be found like this explosion of pink. There were Hello Kitty, My Little Pony and romantic gifts a plenty. Super hero and less pinkified options also available.


The chocolate cabinet included selections like hand filled chocolates, truffles and dipped confections like turtles, pretzels and toffees.


The ice cream / soda bar included options for all the treats you might want from an old fashioned soda shop like ice cream sodas, milk shakes, ice cream and sundaes. The soft drinks included an array of original and natural flavours


 We settled on some simple gelato cups with an included chocolate straw, great for sharing in the park opposite the sweet shop.

Powell's Sweet Shoppe

http://powellsss.com/go/ 

720 McClelland Dr
Windsor, CA 95492

Old fashioned sweet & soda shop
Great for kids and families


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Sonoma County California

There are a huge number of wineries to be found in Northern California but being a huge movie buff one of the highlights for me had to be the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. As well as traditional Italian style wines they have an amazing on site tourist destination including a museum, restaurant and kitchen store.


The gates are postcard worthy with a view of the vines peaking out through a gorgeous stately entrance complete with a lead light glass sign. 


The buildings are equally impressive with no dollar spared - this is a loving tribute to wine and food from a man who has the funds to build his dream wine destination. The copper rooves and sandstone architecture hark back to his Italian roots.

The main grounds offer a huge number of events for locals and tourists to engage in fun and frivolity including regular concerts, dances and wine tastings. If you're bringing a family try visiting during the Summer months when the pool and cabines can be booked for some kid friendly fun while you enjoy the local wine. 

One of the main attractions is a museum devoted to Coppola's directorial career with one of a kind displays of costumes, props and accolades. I might love wine but this was the highlight of the visit for me especially with so many of the the goth fantasy Dracula items on display. 


Lucy Westenra's burial garb from Bram Stoker's Dracula


Dracula's mediaeval armour from Bram Stoker's Dracula


Props and memorabilia from Apocalypse Now


A restored 1948 Tucker from Tucker: The Man and His Dream


The infamous desk from The Godfather


Various film making accolades including several Academy Awards (Oscars) and Golden Globes

We were really here to have lunch and try the wine though, our basic visit structure was to speak to the hostess at the restaurant and get in line for a table, then spend the wait looking at the museum. If you've spent half an hour looking at the museum and then get asked to wait another half hour this will lead to cranky hungry people. 


The entire place is decked out with old school charm. I am particularly fond of the dark wooden bar with its classically trained cocktail staff and glorious Italian espresso machine. 


The restaurant itself Rustic looks a little like an Italian steakhouse but with gorgeous Californian views and an airy high ceiling. The menu highlights Francis' favourite meals along with many Italian classic rustic dishes. 


Coppola Winery Director's Cut Zinfandel 2011 $8.50USD

Zinfandel to me is a uniquely American wine, it's something I'd never really encountered before moving to the United States and it's still growing on me. This is definitely a food wine and would benefit from a few years grace but nonetheless it's an enjoyable tipple with an Italian meal.


Pettole (Zeppole) $3USD

A fried doughnut style bread product filled with a melted cheese, not too oily or too rich but just right!



Salad with candied walnuts and Sonoma County blue cheese $9USD

This was a lunch special included in the 3 course selection that we chose but anything that features that delicious local blue cheese is fine by me. Other salad offerings are primarily American rather than Italian classics like Cobb Salad.


Bumbola con Broccoli e Salsicce $17USD

I admit I spent a great deal of this meal trying to understand the pasta shape having never seen a bumbola noodle before. Some research proves that the name is given for the "bumblebee" shape and that the pasta is made custom for the Coppola brand. As well as being served in the restaurant it can be purchased retail in the kitchen store on site it is recommended for heavy sauces (rather like a large pasta shell). Served in a wine, fontina and cream sauce with broccoli rabe and loose sausage mince this is a very rich dish with a smooth but bitter end. As well as the rich sauce the pasta is very weighty - I can only manage a few noodles before I'm full. Both the pasta and sauce are delicious though, the simplicity of the meal means that all the focus is in the quality of the ingredients and I am not disappointed.


Rigatoni and Meatballs $18USD

Sometimes the simple things in life are best and while this might seem like a comfort food classic it is a great dish to order. Thick doughy pasta is perfectly al dente and served with freshly made meatballs (I want to say veal and lamb?) with flakes of real Parmiggiano Reggiano. A simple classic dish served exactly as it should be.

After you're done eating check out the kitchen store with high end oils, pasta and sauces, utensils and cook books as well as cute souvenirs. The entire place is well worth a trip, even if you're not a big wine lover for a simple meal made with a love and a great side stop on a roadtrip for the whole family. Kids, food lovers and movie fanatics will all be satisfied!

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

https://www.francisfordcoppolawinery.com/

300 Via Archimedes
Geyserville CA 95441
(707) 857-1471