Saturday, January 29, 2011

fried chicken comfort dinner

I bought chicken at Safeway last week for a mere $1.88 a lb and really filled the freezer.  This got me to thinking that I had not made homemade fried chicken in years--what better January comfort food?  I paired it with a new salad favorite (and sooo easy), baked potato salad.  I even had my Mom raving about this one.

First, for the chicken, I wanted to make the least mess possible (and it was still bad) by using zip lock bags for the dredging.  In the first, I mixed an egg, salt, pepper, cayenne and a splash of milk.  In the second, I mixed 1/2 cup flour with Old Bay, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp amounts). This was enough mix for 4-5 chicken drumsticks.  First into the egg, then shake in the flour.  I heated 1/2 inch of canola oil in a cast iron skillet, and fried all sides to golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side.  I turned down the heat slightly, added a lid and cooked for 4-5 minutes more. Why?  The lid creates steam and cooks the chicken more thoroughly, keeping it juicy.  Total cooking time is about 15 minutes.

The salad is just what it sounds like, and it tastes just like a baked potato.  Rub an ex-large russet potato with olive oil and sea salt.  Bake on baking sheet for 1 hour at 350 degrees.  Cool completely.  Cook 5 strips of bacon to extra crispy, cool and chop.  Chop 2 tbl green onion or chive.  Cube cooled potato and toss with green onion, bacon , 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tbl mayonnaise, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and salt to taste.  Add more sour cream if you like it moister.  Great side with fried chicken.

Monday, January 10, 2011

franchino, north beach

I know I'm guilty--tending to go back to my favorite restaurants over and over.  And why not?  There is a reason you like them, the service or the food or whatever feels good, tastes good, stays the same. But sometimes you have to remember there ARE other restaurants, other neighborhoods out there to be revisited and that is exactly what happened when Brendan and I started out last week and said "let's go to North Beach!"

North Beach is an absolutely charming neighborhood with steep hilled residential areas (but with the views), very little parking, but with walking distance to a load of sweet bars, cafes and trattorias like Mario's, Rose Pistola, and  family style Capp's Corner, to name just a few.  Lot's of old school Italian menus are available up and down the street and as we wandered down Columbus we spotted Franchino, a little wedge shaped space that looked like it could have been dropped in from NYC, with a menu that read like mama's comfort food and the family/owners to match.
 You are greeted at the door by, of course, Franchino, with an exuberant buon giorno and nearly immediate seating although the place appears packed. It only takes a minute to figure out that his wife and two daughters are waiting on the tables. They were most accommodating with Brendan's craving for a penne with a meaty bolognese sauce, and succulent chicken Marsala. It is not often that I find one of my favorites, a truly homemade beef cannelloni with an excellent ragu. We were not celebrating anything, but I could have lied after I saw the incredible birthday platter delivered to the table next to us.  Maybe next time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

new year's eve at maya

Alot of you know that in the hunt for great Mexican food, Brendan and I have fallen for the delicious food at Maya.  Maya, located at 2nd and Harrison in SF, has a warm, inviting interior, loads of windows, a semi-private dining area, full bar and room to dance.  And they really excel at modern Mexican.

On New Year's Eve they offered a four course meal with party hats, champagne toast and dancing to a DJ for $60.00 per person. So, along with our friends, Chris Gill and Larry Sepe we booked the 8:30 seating. The tables were decorated with black and silver balloons and the generous menu featured several choices for each course.

I started with the tacos de pork belly, a melt-in-the-mouth 12 hour marinated pork belly taco topped with pickled habanero/red onion relish and ancho salsa.  Brendan and Larry ordered an equally tasty treat, tacos de langosta, with poached lobster topped with avocado, black bean puree and chile de arbol rouille.  Next up, I had the sopa de langosta, a lobster chipolte bisque with roasted corn/crab truffle dumplings.  The guys enjoyed a salad of field greens, pear, caramelized walnuts, blue cheese and radish-chile de arbol vinaigrette.
The entrees were large portions that ranged from a vegetarian option to filet mignon. The camarones azteca, a sauteed shrimp dish with a tequila-lime marinade, huarache stuffed with black beans and a chive-goat cheese crema fresca was a great choice as was the piramide de filete, a tower of grilled filet mignon with grilled tomatoes, sauteed onions, black bean puree, guacamole and crispy tortilla strips.

I enjoyed the tequila bread pudding with raspberry Cabernet sorbet, Brendan had the chocolate tres leches cake with pear, vanilla bean ice cream and cinnamon creme anglaise.  Chris and Larry chose the banana stuffed empanadas with walnuts and coconut ice cream.  We were close enough to the Embarcadero to head out after midnight and watch the incredible fireworks.