Appetizers
August 8, 2013
Gravensteins set pace for extra-early apple season

apple-gravenstein-lg.jpg Benefiting from mild summer weather and a warm spring, apples are rolling in early this summer. Leading the way is a fine crop of heirloom Gravensteins from Sonoma County.

"The crop looks incredible," said farmer Stan Devoto, who grows Gravensteins in Sebastopol. "We've had an almost ideal growing season. We had a lot of warm weather and very, very little rain."

That combination has spurred apples to ripen about two weeks early.

To celebrate the short season of this heirloom apple, The Fruit Guys offers a special Gravenstein Apple Box, available for shipment nationwide. Based in San Francisco, The Fruit Guys supplies fruit and vegetables direct to businesses and homes while working with small farmers to preserve heirloom varieties.

"Why the Gravenstein is so special, it has a long history, particularly in California," said Rebecca North, The Fruit Guy's head buyer. "Typically, it's the first apple of the season and starts the harvest."

"It's a really short window," added Chris Mittelstaedt, The Fruit Guys founder and CEO. "They don't store well. We get them in from the farms and literally deliver them overnight."

Now through Aug. 16, The Fruit Guys offers its special Gravenstein box with a portion of proceeds supporting small Northern California farmers. The special boxes also support the Slow Food Gravenstein Apple Presidium, a project of The Fruit Guys and Slow Food Russian River to encourage farmers to grow more heirloom varieties.

The boxes start at $29 for 16 Gravensteins with free shipping inside California. For more details, go to www.FruitGuys.com or call (877) 378-4863.

This weekend also is the Gravenstein Apple Fair at Ragle Ranch Park in Sebastopol. For details and directions, click on www.gravensteinapplefair.com.

July 29, 2013
'Everything But the ... Blueberries' muffin mix tasty but ...

blueberry.jpg OK, we were intrigued by the name: "Everything But the ... Blueberries (and a little bit of butter and water)" blueberry muffin mix.

Offered by Santa Cruz-based Cherryvale Farms, this new mostly organic muffin mix is part of a six-flavor "Everything But" series that also features corn, pumpkin, apple, walnut and banana - each without the ingredient that gives that particular mix its name.

Our first thought? That's silly. What's a blueberry mix without blueberries? In this case, a pretty tasty, super-moist muffin mix that also works with other soft fruits such as peach and strawberries.

That "little bit of butter" actually is a whole stick (1/2 cup) per package, which makes about a dozen muffins. You also need a cup of blueberries or other fruit and 3/4 cup water.

Considering the suggested retail price for the mix is $7.99, that adds up to rather expensive home-made muffins. But the mix is made with organic unbleached flour, organic unrefined sugar and real spices. And the muffins go from mix to plate in under 30 minutes.

Find Cherryvale Farms' "Everything But" mixes at Whole Foods Markets plus Elliott's Natural Foods, Davis Food Co-op and Sacramento Natural Food Co-op. Or click on www.cherryvalefarms.com.

July 24, 2013
Where to find fast-selling 'Lost Restaurants of Sacramento'

lostrestaurants.jpg People love lost restaurants - and the book devoted to this nostalgic topic.

Just released by American Palate, "Lost Restaurants of Sacramento and their Recipes" by Sacramento's Maryellen Burns and brother Keith Burns sold out quickly in some stores. The book and its recipes were featured in today's Food & Wine section in The Bee. (Read it at http://bit.ly/18DqIFK .)

"I just dropped off another 40 copies at Time Tested Books," said Maryellen on Wednesday afternoon. "They sold out in 45 minutes this morning."

Time Tested Books - located at 1114 21st St. in midtown Sacramento - had the most copies as of lunchtime today. Other local sources that still had "Lost Restaurants" in stock include Corti Brothers market (5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento), Beers Books (915 S St., Sacramento), J Crawford's Books (5301 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento) and the gift shop at the Crocker Museum.

The Barnes & Noble stores at Arden and Natomas also had a few left, Maryellen said.

Priced at $19.99, the paperback is also available online from Amazon.com.

July 10, 2013
Orangevale's 8-year-old healthy food advocate meets Obama

nicolasobama.JPG Nicolas Come, Orangevale's 8-year-old healthy eating advocate, managed to snag an interview few reporters ever experience: Face time with the nation's president.

While at the White House for Tuesday's Kids State Dinner hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, Nicolas met President Barack Obama and interviewed him for his website, www.NicolasGarden.com. The second grader also pitched his kid-friendly health-eating mobile application.

The White House press corps posted a photo of Nicolas (shown here; he's wearing the hat) talking to Obama with the caption, "Hey Mr. President, let me tell you about my app. Your wife will love it!"

Wednesday, Nicolas was on his way home with a tape recorder full of interviews for his website.

Also in Washington, D.C., Nicolas met with Rep. Doris Matsui, the Sacramento Congresswoman who coordinated his trip and cleared the way for his White House access as a correspondent to the Kids State Dinner, which gathered youth ages 8 to 12 from around the nation. Nicolas spent almost an hour with Matsui, discussing Sacramento's Farm-to-Fork movement, community gardens and how kids can get more involved.

Matsui also arranged for Nicolas to meet Dr. Robert C. Post, associate executive director of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Nicolas introduced Post to his Nicolas' Garden mobile app, which is available for free download from iPhone App Store and Google Play.

"What a great way to inspire more kids to make healthier eating a lifetime habit!" Post said.

Post is responsible for Mrs. Obama's "My Plate" program, which advocates healthy food choices.

"Kids my age and their families like mobile apps," Nicolas said. "You can be anywhere in the world and share important information on a digital platform. I think if all kids shared recipes and other healthy links using my Nicolas' Garden app, they would learn that growing and eating good food and being healthy can be fun!"

June 27, 2013
Pillsbury's new Orangesicle cookies taste like summer

orangecookie.jpg Here's a quick cookie as refreshing as a Creamsicle - and it comes out of a box mix.

For summer snacking, Pillsbury introduced a line of citrus-flavored mixes and ready-made frostings. The flavors include Orangesicle, Key Lime and Pink Lemonade and are offered as cake or cookie mixes as well as ready to spread frostings.

We really enjoyed the Orangesicle cookies - without frosting. Packed with sweet orange candy bits, the crisp butter cookies taste like a crunchy Orange Julius. They also have a bright orange color that looks as summery as they taste.

With that color, they'll also make a clever cookie shortcut for Halloween baking.

The 17.5-ounce box shows the cookie frosted, but the orange frosting is not included - and totally optional. One box makes three dozen 2-inch cookies with the addition of one softened stick of butter or margarine and one egg.

If desired, all three frostings are light, fluffy and very citrus - but save them for cupcakes. (The cake mixes make great cupcakes, too.)

Now for the hard part: Pillsbury is just rolling out these new flavors into California stores. They're available online via Amazon.com, but should be showing up in supermarkets soon. Target and Walmart stores also are expected to carry the mixes and frostings.

These flavors are bound to inspire more creativity in upcoming Bake-Offs (such as the strawberry lemonade pie with cookie crust, featured online at the Pillsbury site). For more details and recipes, click on www.pillsburybaking.com.

June 14, 2013
Sacramento-area women vie for $1 million Pillsbury Bake-Off

panzanella.jpg Kalani Allred of Loomis already has baked her way to Las Vegas. Rebecca Moe of Citrus Heights and Charm Allison of Lockeford are halfway there - but need a little help from their online friends.

All three cooks made the initial cut in the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off. Grand prize: $1 million.

In the revamped Bake-Off format, cooks must make it through online voting as well as professional critiques before they're invited to the finals, to be held in November in Las Vegas.

Allred, a graphic artist, earned enough votes online for her creation - Balsamic Chicken Cranberry Panzanella (shown here) - to be named one of 33 finalists in the "Amazing Doable Dinners" category. Her summer salad - inspired by the Italian classic - uses Pillsbury pizza crust and cranberries instead of bread and tomatoes.

"When I'm cooking, I love the gratification of preparing meals for my family and people I love," she said in her online presentation.

Voting is now open for Moe's and Allison's category - "Simple Sweets and Starters." Moe's Mocha Hazelnut Truffle Tartlets and Allison's Chocolate and Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares are among 60 semi-finalists from 30 states. Of those 60, 24 are former Bake-Off finalists.

Deadline to vote for "Simple Sweets and Starters" is June 27. To vote and see all the semi-finalist recipes including Allred's panzanella, click on www.bakeoff.com.

May 30, 2013
River Cats' Dan Dog strikes out in baseball's Food Fight

icecreamhelmet.jpg Sorry, Dan Dog; you got Nuked - and knuckled.

Four menu items - all from Triple A's International League - advanced to the finals of Minor League Baseball's first Food Fight.

In the nationwide battle of baseball chow, the River Cats' hot-dog shaped burger - dubbed the Dan Dog for club executive Dan Vistica - didn't make the cut to the Final Four.

Instead, the finalist for the "Scrumptious Sandwich" division is the Gwinnett (Ga.) Braves' Knucksie, an overloaded pulled pork sandwich and edible tribute to knuckballer Phil Niekro.

Best of the "Hogs and Dogs" was another big bite tribute: The Nuke Dog. This season, the Durham (N.C.) Bulls created the tastebud-burning Nuke Dog - named for fictional flamer thrower Nuke LaLoosh - as a 25th anniversary salute to the movie, "Bull Durham," starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.

Also making the Food Fight's Final Four: The Toledo (Ohio) Mud Hens' "Gut Busters" champion Fantastic Freeze Sundae, 15 scoops plus toppings served in a full-size Mud Hen batting helmet (shown here); and arguably the one healthy choice on this all-league menu - LeHigh Valley (Pa.) IronPigs' local favorite "Aw Shucks" roasted corn on a stick. It's brushed with butter, parmesan and Southwest spices.

Fans have until June 6 to pick a winner - and enter a sweepstakes to taste it in person. For rules and entries, click on http://www.milb.com/milb/fans/food_fight/y2013/index.jsp

May 24, 2013
Sign up early to make dough at State Fair baking contests

image001 (2).jpg Baking know-how could pay off at the upcoming State Fair during two cooking competitions. But to make some dough, you've got to sign up early.

Friday, May 31, is the deadline to register for the State Fair's two featured baking contests: Fleischmann's Yeast Best Baking Contest and the Ghirardelli Chocolate Championship.

Judging for both contests will be July 25 near the end of the State Fair's run, July 14-28 at Cal Expo.

The Fleischmann contest includes two categories: Best yeast baked good (breads, rolls, coffee cakes, doughnuts, etc.) and "Best Dessert Pizza." A $125 prize is offered for each category.

Entrants in the Chocolate Championship must use premium Ghirardelli 60 percent Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips plus any additional Ghirardelli baking chocolate in a bite-size treat. First prize is $150 and a Ghiradelli gift basket.

Complete rules and registration are available online at www.bigfun.org (under the "Contest" section) or call the fair's entry office, (916) 263-3146.

May 24, 2013
Sacramento second-grader cooks on national TV

nichaolasphoto (4).JPG Nicolas Come may be only 8 years old, but the Sacramento second grader brings his hometown's "Farm-to-Fork" campaign to a national audience Saturday morning.

Broadcast live from New York City, Nicolas will appear on "FOX & Friends Saturday" on the FOX News network, starting at 3 a.m. PDT. Nicolas' scheduled segment will air about 6:30-6:45 a.m. in Sacramento.

Nicolas drew the interest of FOX producers with his Nicolas' Garden mobile app and an appearance on local TV. Released last week, the app allows families to share healthy recipes, cooking tips and more in a fun, kid-friendly format. See it at www.NicolasGarden.com.

For his TV debut, Nicolas will cook on camera a recipe he developed for First Lady Michelle Obama's "Healthy Lunch Recipe Contest."

"It's really exciting," he said when contacted by phone in New York. "I'm making Nicolas' California Sunshine; it's curry."

His own recipe, the curry features vegetables, fruit, chicken and spices. This photo is Nicolas practicing his curry Friday at a test kitchen in Brooklyn.

"He's been practicing it quite a bit," said Drisha Leggitt, a Nicolas' Garden volunteer. "On the flight, his backpack was filled with spices. He brought three different curries.

"It takes a lot of guts to get up on live TV, but Nicolas really wants to do this," she added. "Who better to represent the capital's Farm-to-Fork movement than a kid from Sacramento?"

May 15, 2013
River Cats' Dan Dog part of nationwide 'Food Fight'

dandog.jpg In this nationwide Food Fight, the Sacramento River Cats will try to swing for the fences with a bat-shaped burger.

The River Cats' Dan Dog - named for chief financial officer and executive vice president Dan Vistica - is the club's official entry in Minor League Baseball's 64-team "Food Fight."

Iconic concession items from each team's ballpark menu vie in a bracket-style format for the nation's best ballpark food.

In the "Scrumptious Sandwiches" regional, the Dan Dog competes against such heavy hitters as Fang's Venom Burger (from the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers), pitcher Phil Niekro's Knucksie pulled pork sandwich (from the Gwinnett, Ga., Braves) and Fried Bologna on a Kaiser roll (from the Buffalo, N.Y., Bisons).

The Dan Dog is actually a long burger, hand-molded to look like a hot dog. According to the River Cats' official entry, "Start with fresh-ground, locally sourced ground beef, and blend with sautéed onions, garlic and a unique combination of seasonings. ... Add cheddar cheese, grill to perfection, nestle into a sweet French roll and top with a spicy red relish."

Other categories in the bracket include Gut Busters, Hogs N Dogs (devoted to pork products and hot dogs) and Local Legends.

Voters also will automatically be entered into an online sweepstakes. Grand prize: Trip for four to the winning team's ballpark - and a chance to sample its signature dish.

The first round of voting started Wednesday and continues through May 29. The finals are May 30 through June 6.

Patrons can vote as often as they like. Tweets (and re-tweets) count, too. Follow @MiLB, tweet the hashtag #foodfight and include the name of the team or food item that gets your vote.

See all the entries at http://atmilb.com/12ASqLQ or www.milb.com/foodfight.

May 8, 2013
Fresh apricots taste best from own backyard

apricots.jpg It's not your imagination: Apricots just don't taste like they used to.

Several readers called in response to today's In Season feature in Food & Wine. (Read it at http://bit.ly/17KsqB5 .) They complained that supermarket apricots are "tasteless" or worse.

A lot has to do with variety. About 85 percent of the California apricot crop is now Patterson, which has less sugar than Blenheim and other old-school apricots. Also, commercial apricots are picked when still firm and don't get sweeter as they ripen.

The best place to get full-flavored ripe apricots is your own backyard. Apricots are among the easiest fruit trees to grow in California. Some good varieties to try: Autumn Glo (a late-bearing variety that ripens in August), Gold Kist and Tropic Gold. All rate very high in natural sugars.

Now what to do with ripe apricots (including Pattersons): Try this sauce, adapted from Nicole Routhier's "Fruit Cookbook" (Workman Publishing).

Combine 1/4 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add to the syrup 1/2 pound apricots, halved and pitted. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook until the fruit is tender, about 5 minutes.

Drain the apricots, reserving the syrup. Puree the fruit in a blender with 1/4 cup of the reserved syrup and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little more syrup.

Transfer to a jar, refrigerate and use within one week. It's a wonderful dessert topping over cake, ice cream or pudding. This same recipe works with peaches and mangoes, too.

April 10, 2013
Fava beans not for everyone, can cause 'Favism'

fava.jpg Fava beans may be delicious, but they're not for everyone. Like peanuts, fava beans can create health issues.

In the case of favas, the reaction is linked to a genetic hormone deficiency called G6PD, short for Glucose 6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase deficiency.

"An important fact about fava beans is that individuals with G6PD hormone deficiency, also known as 'Favism,' often - though not always - have a very serious allergy to fava beans," said Tom Roberson of Sacramento. "Our 5-year-old son has the G6PD deficiency, so we carefully avoid fava beans.

"The G6PD deficiency is very common around the world, and, I believe, is now routinely tested for at birth," he added.

According to medical experts, G6PD deficiency is seen in about 10 percent of African-American males in the U.S., and is also common in the Mediterranean region, Africa and parts of Asia.

Learn more about G6PD at http://g6pddeficiency.org/wp/.

Most people can eat favas without worry. Favas are entering their peak spring season. For recipes and tips, see http://bit.ly/152qAg9.

March 27, 2013
QVC's Venable tweaks tradition with Easter ham glaze

hamglaze.jpg Tired of the same old ham? QVC host and cookbook author David Venable ("In the Kitchen with David: QVC's Resident Foodie Presents Comfort Foods That Take You Home") likes to mix it up with some tweaks to traditional favorites.

"Like most holidays, Easter menus tend to be very traditional and filled with dishes deemed 'family classics,' " Venable said. "I love classics -- especially if they're any sort of comfort food classic. But every once in awhile, it pays to try a new recipe."

March 26, 2013
Biscuits drive home lesson to authors Dupree, Graubart

Author Photo Nathalie and Cynthia.jpg Common sense can be lost in translation - especially when it comes to cookbooks.

Cynthia Graubart, co-author with Nathalie Dupree of "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking," offers this example from her own Atlanta kitchen:

"My son - who likes to cook - was home (from college) and he tried one of our biscuit recipes while we were working on the book," Graubart recalled. "He was about to put them in the oven when Nathalie noticed all this dough left on the board."

He said, "The recipe said 'makes 12 biscuits,' so I made 12 biscuits."

Most experienced cooks would roll out that extra dough into another biscuit or two, Graubart noted.

"It really brought home to us how careful we had to be with language," she said. "People read 'cut in butter,' and they use scissors."

(A pastry blender or two knives are the preferred tools.)

Dupree and Graubart will demonstrate biscuit making at 3 p.m. April 3 during a visit to American River College, 4700 College Oak Blvd., Sacramento. Open to the public, the free demonstration will be held in the culinary lab (Room 505).

That's next door to the Oak Cafe, where the co-authors will sign copies of their new cookbook starting at 11:30 a.m. that same day. During the signing, the restaurant will serve two seatings of a special lunch featuring recipes from the book. For reservations, call (916) 484-8526.

For more about "Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking," recipe testing and a great gumbo, see http://bit.ly/103mM8L

March 4, 2013
Sacramento Food Film Fest features honey, sushi and more

beemovie.jpg Some movies go great with food, but these films explore food as a central topic.

Slow Food Sacramento will host its second Food Film Festival on March 15 and 16 at the Guild Theater, Broadway and 35th Street in Sacramento.

Local honey and sushi team up for the Friday night opener. To be screened at 5:30 p.m. March 15, "Quest for Local Honey" will be followed with a Q&A led by its Nevada City filmmakers. Then, Taro Arai of Mikuni and Billy Ngo of Kru will lead a sushi tasting and discussion of sustainable seafood, followed by the screening of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."

Saturday's day-long schedule features five films, each with its own discussion. Preceded by an 11 a.m. scavenger hunt, "What's On Your Plate?" - a youthful exploration into a city's food chain - kicks off the second day of the foodie film fest. At 1 p.m., "Community of Gardeners" - an exploration of seven community gardens in Washington, D.C. - will be followed with a discussion of what's happening here by Sacramento garden coordinator Bill Maynard.

Winner of the 2013 New York Food Film Festival, "Meat Hooked!" - about local butchers regaining popularity - will be screened at 3 p.m. March 16. That's followed by "American Harvest" (4:15 p.m.) - a candid look at migrant labor - and "Symphony of the Soil" (6:30 p.m.) with special guest, filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia.

Tickets are $55 for both days, $40 for Friday's honey-sushi gala or $25 for all day Saturday. In addition, Saturday's films are available individually at $7.

Proceeds benefit Slow Food Sacramento and the California Food Literacy Center. For a complete schedule and tickets, click on www.sacfoodfilmfest.com.

February 28, 2013
Kale-potato salad one more way to learn to love this green

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Kale and Potato Salad.jpg Love it or hate it, kale is catching on everywhere. Suddenly, diners and cooks are discovering this ancient green veggie, a descendant of wild cabbage.

Kale haters complain that the curly leaves are bitter (or worse) and hard to clean.

These detractors still could be converts. Tuscan or dinosaur kale has milder flavor and flatter leaves. And kale's high nutritional value makes it worth learning to like.

Chef Katie Cavuto Boyle came up with this flavorful kale and potato salad for the United States Potato Board. It mixes curly green kale with another late winter/early spring favorite - asparagus - plus roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, scallions and walnuts. (Tuscan kale could be substituted for curly.)

Gorgonzola cheese and balsamic dressing give it extra zing.

For more on kale (and more recipes), see our In Season salute at http://bit.ly/13ShBJo

Kale and Potato Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

1 pound petite Yukon Gold potatoes, halved

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

1 shallot, halved and sliced

3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

7 cups (1-inch pieces) green curly kale (tough ribs and stems removed)

1/2 cup fresh scallions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 ounce smoked or traditional Gorgonzola cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. with rack in upper third of oven.

Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil, half the shallots, salt and pepper and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes then add asparagus to baking sheet; roast for 10 minutes more or until potatoes are golden brown and tender.

Puree remaining olive oil, shallot, vinegar and yogurt in a blender or small food processor. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar.

While the vegetables are cooking, place 1 inch of water in a large pot. Bring to a boil then add kale; cook for 1 minute or until kale is bright green and lightly wilted, tossing constantly with tongs. Drain excess water.

Toss kale with potatoes and scallions and top with walnuts and Gorgonzola. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving:

Calories: 260, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 2.5g, Trans Fat:0 g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 210mg, Potassium: 509mg, Carbohydrates: 29g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 2g, Protein: 9g, Vitamin A: 250%, Vitamin C: 190%, Calcium: 15%, Iron: 20%

February 20, 2013
Wake up! Folgers offers $25,000 for new jingle singer

folgers.pngThe best part of wakin' up? Maybe $25,000.

Folgers Coffee, the iconic 163-year-old company founded in San Francisco, is looking for its version of "American Idol" - someone new to croon its famous jingle, "The Best Part of Wakin' Up is Folgers in Your Cup."

Johnny Cash, Aaron Neville, Rascal Flatts and many others have put their own spin on that familiar lyric, originally penned by Leslie Pearl in 1984.

Grand prize winner of this talent search receives $25,000. Contestants can perform individually or in groups of no more than six. Deadline to submit a video is March 6.

Songwriter Gavin DeGraw will pick out 10 jingle finalists. In online voting May 15 through June 19, the public will choose the winner.

For complete rules and video of jingle performances, see www.Folgers.com/jingle.

February 14, 2013
Try pairing chocolate and beer this Valentine's Day

Beer and chocolate? It may be a better match than chocolate and red wine.

So say the experts from Sam Adams. In honor of Valentine's Day, the Boston brewery teamed up with San Francisco chocolate maker TCHO to come up with the right chocolate notes to complement its lagers and ales.

According to New York beer and wine sommelier Gianni Cavicchi, who consulted on this culinary matchmaking, "it's actually easier to pair chocolate with a balanced beer, like Samuel Adams Boston Lager, than with wine because sometimes the intensity of chocolate takes over the wine and the acidity in wine doesn't balance."

When pairing chocolate and beer, rich malty flavors are your friend, Cavicchi added. It's this flavor along with a subtle bitterness from the Noble Hops that compliment the malt sweetness that pairs Boston Lager perfectly with chocolate.

Beer actually may make you want to eat more chocolate, he added.

"The carbonation of the beer cleanses your palate from the heavy finish of the chocolate leaving you ready for the next bite," he said.

That's something to savor this chocolate-heavy holiday.

February 12, 2013
Want life of pie? Marie Callender's offers whole pie sale

pies.jpg In time for Valentine's Day sweethearts, President's Day get-togethers or Oscar night parties (think Life of Pie), Marie Callender's offers its Whole Pie To Go Sale.

Through Feb. 28, more than 30 varieties of pie are priced at $7.99 plus tin deposit. Cherry pie - a natural for President's Day - is available along with apple, banana cream, berry, blueberry, cherry, coconut cream, French apple, lemon meringue, peach, pumpkin and many other favorites.

For a full list, visit www.mariecallenders.com. Excluded are cheesecakes, seasonal fresh fruit and promotional pies.

January 30, 2013
How to build your own Snackadium for Super Bowl Sunday

23520_SnackadiumAngle2r_1.jpg Who's counting calories? The Snackadium scores!

Pillsbury's creative staff came up with this striking 7- by 10-foot centerpiece for its display at Saturday's Taste of the NFL "Party with a Purpose" in New Orleans as part of Super Bowl weekend.

The crowd-size Snackadium uses eight dozen Italian super sub sandwiches (made with Pillsbury's refrigerated crusty French loaf bread dough) for the walls. The cookie sheet field is coated with a layer of guacamole, striped with sour cream yardlines. The red and gold end zones are chunky salsa and cheese dip.

Created out of disposable aluminum pans cut to size, the stands are filled with an assortment of Pillsbury favorites: Mini Crescent Dogs, Pepperoni Pizza Slices, Bacon-Cheeseburger Calzones, Bacon-Cheddar Pinwheels, Crescent Pizza Pockets, Totino's Pizza Rolls Snacks, Bugles, Green Giant Veggie Chips, Pillsbury Baguette Chips and Chex Mix.

It's the extra touches that make this foodie project stand out. Cherry tomatoes and black olives became players' helmets. Atop breadstick posts, the "pennants" are cone-shaped Bugle snacks and sliced fruit roll-up snacks.

Pillsbury has detailed instructions for how to build your own Snackadium, down-sized for smaller gatherings. Some of the variations include a "retractable" bacon dome with beer-can blimp and a veggie version with broccoli and baby carrots in the stands.

See for yourself at www.pillsbury.com/snackadium.

January 29, 2013
IHOP celebrates National Pancake Day with free pancakes

ihop.jpg Here's a deal to flip over: Free pancakes!

Next Tuesday, International House of Pancakes will celebrate National Pancake Day by offering a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes to all customers. The free pancakes will be available at all participating IHOPs from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 5.

In return, patrons may make voluntary donations to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, the event's official charity, and its program at UC Davis Children's Hospital.

Last year, IHOP hosted a similar National Pancake Day party and served about 4 million free pancakes. If added together, all those "short stacks" would be nearly 16 miles tall. During the 2012 event, customers donated more than $3 million to children's charities.

IHOP hopes to reach that goal again next Tuesday. Local participating IHOPs are located at 2941 Advantage Lane in Sacramento, 2525 Iron Point Road in Folsom, and 2035 Arden Way in Sacramento

To find a participating IHOP near you or to learn more, click on www.ihoppancakeday.com.

January 28, 2013
Ice cream inspiration for Super Bowl, Valentine's Day

product_shots-peppermint.jpg Sample ice cream in January? It's cold work, but somebody has to do it.

I recently had the pleasure of helping the experts at Crystal Creamery choose new seasonal flavors for summer. With production in Modesto, the company currently has 31 flavors in its year-round ice cream portfolio, so picking something that wasn't already on that frozen dessert menu wasn't easy.

Instead of more candy bar-inspired combinations, fresh fruit flavors appealed most to my taste buds. (Crystal will reveal the winners in late spring.)

Meanwhile, production is wrapping up on another seasonal favorite: Monday Nut Football ice cream. It's vanilla base with football-shaped chocolate cookies, chocolate-covered nuts and a fudge swirl. How's that sound for Super Bowl dessert?

For winter, Crystal also released Peppermint Blizzard, a very minty red and white ice cream. Although its target market is December, that combination would look great in Valentine's Day desserts, too. I can imagine an ice cream cake with that flavor as its base.

Crystal used Peppermint Blizzard as filling for whoopie pies - a perfect Valentine's Day dessert. Find the recipe at http://www.crystalmilk.com/pep_choc_whoop_pie.html.

Such flavors make ice cream sound appealing even on a freezing day in January.

January 23, 2013
Celebrate National Pie Day with slice of specials

redvelvet.jpgHere's an All-American foodie holiday: Happy National Pie Day! Today celebrates all things pie, the favorite dessert of millions.

Specifically, apple pie is the pick of an estimated 36 million Americans, according to the American Pie Council. The board offers a wealth of recipes, pie-making tips and ways to celebrate via its website, www.piecouncil.org.

Marie Callender's, a restaurant chain synonymous with pie, marks National Pie Day with specials. Its Perfect Pie Trio features chicken pot pie ($9.99) or Shepherd's pie ($11.99), accompanied by Caesar salad and a slice of (what else?) pie for dessert. (Cheesecakes, seasonal fresh fruit pies and promotional pies not included.)

If you miss Pie Day, don't worry. The offer is good through March 28.

Marie Callender's also has a new pie: Red Velvet Dream Pie. It's vanilla cream with layers of red velvet cake, topped by cream cheese icing. It's a good match for two holidays: National Pie Day and Valentine's Day.

The Red Velvet Dream Pie is $13.99 plus tin, available through Feb. 28. For locations, click on www.mariecallenders.com.

January 10, 2013
PBS searching for healthy soul food recipes

pulled-pork-list.jpg Can soul food be healthy? PBS is looking for examples.

In conjunction with the upcoming broadcast debut of Byron Hurt's "Soul Food Junkies," PBS is asking viewers for their revamped recipes of traditional favorites.

"Soul Food Junkies," which will air in Sacramento on "Independent Lens" at midnight Jan. 21, explores the rich culinary tradition of soul food and its relevance to black cultural identity. Viewers also can watch the film (after Monday) and trailers now online at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/.

Hurt's examination was spurred by his father, who stuck to his traditional soul food diet in the face of a health crisis and ultimately died at age 63.

In its healthy soul food makeover, PBS offers online seven revised recipes for such favorites as pulled pork sandwiches (shown here) and black-eyed pea fritters. But the network wants one more from viewers to complete its set.

The winning recipe will be featured on a printable (and post-able) recipe card. To submit an original recipe, send it to healthysoulfood@itvs.org or fill out the form online. (Just follow the links from the "Independent Lens" home page.) Deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday.

January 9, 2013
Toast National Pizza Week (and big game) with beer dough

PRINT_5x7_300dpi_NewOrleansPizza_LowAngle_1296.jpg.jpg.jpg.jpg.jpg Here's a toast (and a twist) to National Pizza Week! (Yes, it's pizza week, now through Saturday.) Instead of beer and pizza, how about putting the beer IN the pizza?

Pizza expert Mark Bello of New York City's Pizza a Casa Pizza School (www.pizzaschool.com) perfected this recipe for The Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

Pizza, of course, is a popular pick for Super Bowl parties. The Big Game is Feb. 3 in New Orleans. So, Bello offers a twist on the classic Italian Margherita pizza with a spicy New Orleans' Big Game Pizza.

January 8, 2013
Thin Mints, anyone? Girl Scout cookie season starts Friday

cookie_tm.pngGet ready for some Thin Mints and maybe some Mango Cremes, too.

Girl Scout cookie season kicks off Friday as the young women in green start taking pre-orders for 2013.

After preorders, Girl Scouts will sell cookies at booths outside of local storefronts, Feb. 22 to March 17.

The price remains the same; $4 per package. After Friday, you can place an order from a local Girl Scout by calling the Cookie Hotline, (866) 472-6657 (GSCOOKS).

This year's cookies will boast a new look with redesigned packaging, emphasizing the skills girls learn while scouting.

There's a new flavor, too - "Mango Cremes with Nutrifusion," mango cream filling with real fruit nutrients and vitamins sandwiched between vanilla-coconut wafers. As always, Thin Mints - the most popular flavor - returns along with Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Shortbread, Lemonades and chocolate-dipped Thanks-A-Lot.

The Girl Scouts of the USA celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012 and has been hosting cookie sales almost as long - since 1917. Each year, the organization sells more than 200 million boxes nationwide.

More than 29,000 girls are part of the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California council, based in Sacramento.

For more details, click on www.girlscoutshcc.org.

January 7, 2013
Pillsbury Bake-Off mixes up its $1 million recipe contest

thumb_pillsbury.gifThat venerable cookoff classic, the Pillsbury Bake-Off radically revamped its recipe for 2013. It's simpler, more diverse and ultimately more democratic.

For the first time, the public will determine all 100 recipes that will vie for the grand prize, Pillsbury announced Monday. The creators of those recipes will compete Nov. 10-12 in Las Vegas for more than $1 million.

"We're excited to roll out changes to the ever-classic Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest," said Jann Atkins, Bake-Off kitchens manager. "We know consumers crave recipes that are delicious, yet easy to make, so adding an ingredient limit allows us to provide inspiration for even the busiest families and novice cooks. And with voters selecting all 100 finalists, we hope to rally excitement and friendly competition across the country as people choose their favorites."

Recipes will be limited to seven ingredients (not counting table salt, black pepper or water) and must take less than 30 minutes to prepare (not counting baking or cooling time).

Home cooks will have more chances to win with three separate recipe categories and three entry periods:

- Amazing Doable Dinners: This category is open now through Feb. 7.

- Simple Sweets and Starters: Entry period runs from April 4 to May 9.

- Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts: Entry period runs from July 4 to Aug. 8.

For full details, click on www.BakeOff.com.

December 20, 2012
Celebrity chef Guy Fieri bounces back from NY flap

FIERI.jpg Guy Fieri, perhaps 2012's most talked about celebrity chef, is home in Santa Rosa for the holidays, getting ready for another non-stop busy year.

Last month's much-Tweeted blow-up over his new Guy's American Kitchen & Bar in New York City's Times Square has "blown over," he said.

Fieri already answered New York Times critic Pete Wells' scathing "open letter" of 34 questions with some sharp words of his own on the "Today Show," calling the review "ridiculous" and "overboard."

December 19, 2012
Find Sterling caviar at Raley's, make buckwheat blini

caviar.jpg More proof that local caviar is going mainstream: Raley's supermarkets - along with sister Bel Air and Nob Hill stores - are now offering Sacramento-grown Sterling Caviar.

During the holidays, the chain's meat departments will take orders for Sterling, ready for in-store pick up with three days notice. Get your Christmas and New Year's Eve orders in now.

It's only fitting; Sacramento is now America's Caviar Capital. (Read more at: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/19/5062625/sacramento-area-is-nations-caviar.html)

Traditionally, yeast-raised buckwheat blini - little Russian pancakes - are the perfect platform for caviar. (Blini is plural; one little pancake is a blin.)

Accompanied with a dab of creme fraiche or sour cream, blini and caviar pair deliciously with dry champagne or sparkling wine - ready to toast the holidays and New Year.

Buckwheat blini

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 cup warm milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 egg, separated

In a large bowl, mix all-purpose and buckwheat flours, salt and instant yeast. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in warm milk, mixing until smooth. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Melt butter and let cool. Stir the melted butter and egg yolk into batter. In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. (Melt a little more butter in the skillet, if desired.) With a tablespoon, drop quarter-size dollops of batter into the pan without crowding. Cook for about 1 or 2 minutes or until bubbles form and break across the top of the batter. Turn and cook for another minute.

Remove blini from heat, cover and keep warm until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with caviar and your choice of creme fraiche, sour cream, cream cheese, finely chopped egg, finely chopped red onion or chives.

Note: Blinis also can be made with just all-purpose flour or a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flours; substitute equal amount for buckwheat.

Makes 24 blinis.

December 18, 2012
Hot Italian hosts Create in California Shopping Night

Find an interesting gift and support California business, too.

hotital.jpg
This evening from 6 to 9 p.m., Hot Italian in midtown Sacramento hosts its third annual Create In California Shopping Night. This event features arts, crafts and other handmade finds from California designers.

Among the featured vendors will be Tapigami (which put together a holiday installation for its jewelry), Interval Press (live screen printing), Ana Apple (handmade T-shirts), Matthew Lechowick (furniture), Gigglosophy (bracelets), The Good Stuff (jam), Miss Velvet Cream (clothing), Maya Kini and Sofia Lacin (more jewelry) and The Dreaded Potter (dishware and accessories).

Nationally famous Bariani Olive Oil will offer its latest vintage. Navid Dehghan, author of "Just Me & My Pizza," will autograph copies of his book.

Plus eat great pizza! After all, Hot Italian is hosting. The restaurant is located at 1627 16th St., Sacramento. For more details, click on www.hotitalian.net or call (916) 444-3000.

December 12, 2012
Holiday food drive needs fresh fruit, veggies for kids

CFLC_Logo.png All some families want for Christmas is something good to eat. The California Food Literacy Center will try to fill that need with healthy fruit and vegetables via a produce drive for low-income children.

From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, patrons can contribute fresh fruit and vegetables at the center's stand outside the Nugget Market, 2000 Town Center Plaza, West Sacramento. Participants can buy produce at Nugget to contribute or bring fresh fruit and vegetables from other sources.

The goal is 2,500 pieces - enough to provide five fruit or vegetables a day for five days for every child in the after-school program at Capitol Heights Academy in Oak Park.

"There are so many worthwhile causes right now providing gifts to kids, but we're in a school where 85 percent of the kids are on free and reduced price lunches," said Amber Stott, executive director, California Food Literacy Center. "When they go home for the holiday, we know they don't have access to the fresh produce they've grown to love in our class.

"We all know weight gain rises during the holidays, so this will help them maintain healthy habits," she added, "while also maintaining their enthusiasm for healthy food while they're on break from school."

For more information or to make a monetary donation, contact Stott at amber@californiafoodliteracy.org or call (916) 873-2025.

December 12, 2012
Persimmon explosion leads to holiday cookies

persimmon.jpgPersimmon season is booming - literally. Our backyard Fuyu is fully loaded.

We picked about 60 pounds of fruit, many as big as heirloom tomatoes. (Here's a photo of one big cluster.) There are many more near the top of the tree, out of reach.

But not out of range for squirrels and birds. It's their annual holiday treat. The critters bite or peck into the super-ripe fruit, which falls from the tree - creating a hefty blop!

During a recent wind storm, it sounded like a water balloon fight. Knocked down by gusts, exploded persimmons littered the lawn beneath the tree. (They're now in the compost bin.)

Although I hate wasting any home-grown edible, I already have my hands and kitchen counter full of ripening persimmons. A lot of them will find their way into cookies, a holiday favorite.

I usually use my great-grandmother's recipe, which I posted online as part of The Bee's Holiday Recipe Cookbook. Search for "persimmon cookies."

Ripe persimmons also can substitute for canned pumpkin in other cookie and dessert recipes. What pulp doesn't get baked will go in the freezer for later use - when this season's persimmon "bombs" are just a memory.

December 11, 2012
How to make grenadine, pomegranate molasses

pomegrante2.jpg pomegranate1.jpg

Pomegranate season brought a red explosion to my kitchen. Our little backyard tree - an aptly named Wonderful pomegranate - produced more than 60 huge red orbs.

They were the biggest pomegranates I've ever grown. Several were as large as softballs and just as round. One weighed 24 ounces.

Inside each fruit were hundreds of plump seed sacs. They seemed to be unusually dark this winter. Instead of crimson, the juicy sacs glistened like black garnets. They produced jelly and grenadine with the same, rich color.

And the flavor is outstanding - which is why I scrambled to preserve it for later enjoyment.

My favorite method is home-made grenadine. It's easy, quick and flexible depending on how much juice you have available. In a stainless steel saucepan, add one cup sugar to every cup of pomegranate juice. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer one minute until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool.

That's it. Store the grenadine in a jar and refrigerate; it will keep at least three months. Or freeze it for a year (or more). Grenadine adds color and pomegranate flavor to drinks, desserts, glazes (try it on pork) and other dishes.

Pomegranate molasses, a popular ingredient in Middle eastern cuisine, is similar to grenadine, but not as sweet. It also takes more time to make. For molasses, put 2 cups pomegranate juice in a heavy saucepan. Add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Bring to boil.

Turn the heat down and simmer for about an hour, until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy. (It will reduce to about 3/4 cup.) Store in a jar in the refrigerator.

For more ideas on enjoying pomegranates, read Chris Macias' story in Wednesday's Food & Wine section in The Bee.

July 3, 2012
Preserve summer's harvest with these handy classes

Summer gardens offer bountiful fruit and vegetables, often too much to eat fresh. Farmers markets and fruit stands also are brimming with bargain produce.

Get some expert advice on how to save some of that harvest for later with the help of the UC Cooperative Extension Master Food Preservers.

These experts have several demonstrations coming up at the Sacramento Cooperative Extension Office, 4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento. Each event is open to the public with no pre-registration necessary. Here's a sample:

- The Pressure's On: UC master food preservers show how to preserve a bountiful harvest (and save time, too) through this introduction to safe pressure-canning techniques. The two-hour free class starts at 10 a.m. July 14.

- Tasty Tomato and Tomatillo Treasures: Get ready to tackle the summer harvest with salsas, sauces and more. This evening class, which has a $3 materials fee, starts at 6:30 p.m. July 18.

- All Dried Up: Learn how to dehydrate fruit and vegetables at home, with or without special equipment. This free class starts at 10 a.m. Aug. 11.

For more details, click on http://cesacramento.ucdavis.edu or call (916) 875-6913.

March 12, 2012
Is it kosher? There's an app for that

Just in time for Passover planning, the Orthodox Union - the group behind the widely used "OU Kosher" symbol - has introduced a new smartphone application that can instantly search the kosher status of more than 600,000 products.

The free app is available for download for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch and Androids. Passover will be observed April 6 through 14.

The OU Kosher app includes products manufactured at almost 8,000 plants in more than 90 countries that meet strict kosher guidelines. Besides the product search, the app also provides "kosher alerts," new product updates and online access to experts to answer dietary questions. There's also access to the OU Kosher information hotline.

The app is part of a social media blitz by the Orthodox Union in preparation for Passover. On its Facebook page and via Twitter, OU Kosher will feature "Kosher for Passover" products, recipes and articles as well as field questions from fans and followers.

To download the app, select "OU Kosher" from the iTunes App Store or use a direct link to the app from the OU's website at www.ou.org/apps.

The direct application can be downloaded at http://itunes.apple.com/ke/app/ou-kosher/id491138771?mt=8.

February 11, 2012
Sacramento native makes 'Worst Cooks' TV debut Sunday

Kelli Powers joked about a casting call for the "Worst Cooks in America."

"Then, my husband said, 'You should sign up,' " Powers recalled. "I was just laughing like it was a joke. But he said, 'You need to do that.' "

Now, Powers - who grew up in the Sacramento area - is one of 16 contestants competing in season three of Food Network's "Worst Cooks in America," which debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday.

Powers, a mom and part-time actress who now lives in a Los Angeles suburb, will be part of chef Anne Burrell's team of eight "recruits." They'll battle in kitchen boot camp with eight other admittedly awful cooks, mentored by superstar chef Bobby Flay.

All 16 contestants were nominated by family and friends for their atrocious cooking skills.

"We had thousands of candidates," Burrell said. "We tried to find people who would truly gain something from the experience rather than somebody who just wants to be on TV."

Powers, whose family still lives in the Sacramento area, wanted to learn the secrets of kitchen success, so she could make recipes passed down from her grandmother.

"I always really excelled at everything I did," Powers said. "But cooking, I didn't get right away. I get it now.

"We learned every second - and we learned a lot from mistakes," she added. "That's OK. It gives you the kind of confidence you need in the kitchen."

In the season premiere, Powers and cohorts attempt Orange Pumpkin Pancakes with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Cinnamon Maple Syrup. The contestant with the least successful dish each week goes home.

Upcoming episodes feature an international cuisine challenge, seafood preparation and cooking for a class of third graders. The series culminates April 8 when the two most-improved cooks are judged by culinary stars David Burke, Marcus Samuelsson and Susan Feniger. The winner gets $25,000 plus new confidence in the kitchen.

For more details, click on www.FoodNetwork.com/Worst-Cooks-In-America. Full episodes will be available for online streaming the day after original broadcast.

February 2, 2012
Sacramento woman among Food Network's 'Worst Cooks'

Can Kelli Powers go from kitchen disaster to culinary master? The Sacramento woman has all-star help from celebrity chefs and a chance to win $25,000.

Powers is one of 16 contestants tabbed for season three of Food Network's "Worst Cooks in America," which debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12.

Powers will be part of chef Anne Burrell's team of eight "recruits." They'll battle in kitchen boot camp with eight other admittedly awful cooks, mentored by superstar chef Bobby Flay.

All 16 contestants were nominated by family and friends for their atrocious cooking skills.

"Kelli's Nana -- her grandmother -- saw great cooking potential in her as a child, though Kelli was more interested in hitting the books than the pots and pans," according to the show's website. "Now a mother herself, Kelli wants to maintain her family's cooking traditions and is determined to no longer be the mom whose dish sits untouched at potlucks."

In the season premiere, Powers and cohorts attempt Orange Pumpkin Pancakes with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Cinnamon Maple Syrup. The contestant with the least successful dish each week goes home.

Upcoming episodes feature an international cuisine challenge, seafood preparation and cooking for a class of third graders. The series culminates April 8 when the two most-improved cooks are judged by culinary stars David Burke, Marcus Samuelsson and Susan Feniger. The winner gets $25,000 plus new confidence in the kitchen.

For more details, click on www.FoodNetwork.com/Worst-Cooks-In-America. Full episodes will be available for online streaming the day after original broadcast.

October 18, 2011
Folsom's new Whole Foods Market hosts pre-opening party

Shoppers can get a taste Saturday of what's to come during a pre-opening party hosted by Whole Foods Market at its new Folsom store, located at 270 Palladio Parkway in the Palladio shopping center.

Called "Folsom Street Market," the event will be held in the new store's parking lot from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

More than 60 local vendors will offer product samples as well as beer and cider tasting. Kids can enjoy a haybale maze and pumpkin patch. Shoppers also can take a tour of the new 45,000-square-foot store.

Next week, this Whole Foods Market - the chain's third outlet in the greater Sacramento area - opens to the public. A bread breaking ceremony will be held at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26, followed by live music, beer tasting and children's activities.

On opening day, the first 250 Folsom shoppers to enter the store will receive a reusable shopping bag filled with Whole Foods Market products.

For more details, click on www.wholefoodsmarket.com.

March 21, 2011
Nugget, Food 4 Less help Japanese disaster relief efforts

Check out - and help, too.

Making it easier for customers to contribute to Japanese disaster relief, all Nugget Markets and several Food 4 Less stores will accept donations right at the check-out counter, the companies announced Monday. This fund-raising assistance will continue through April 1.

In addition, Nugget Market Inc. will donate a matching contribution up to $5,000 to the American Red Cross, which partnered with the supermarkets in this effort.

"The Nugget Market and Food 4 Less family of associates and our guests have come alongside the American Red Cross to help alleviate the effects of this disaster," said Nugget CEO Eric Stille. "We're committed to helping and to bringing hope and aid to those in need."

These tax-deductible donations will be recorded on sales receipts. All funds will directly support those affected by the Japan earthquake and tsunami, according to American Red Cross officials.

February 25, 2011
Racer Scott Pruett hosts special wine dinner

By Debbie Arrington
darrington@sacbee.com

Auburn's Scott Pruett, arguably America's winningest road racer, has had plenty to celebrate, including his record fourth Rolex 24 at Daytona victory last month.

But at 6 p.m. Saturday night, the race-car driver-turned-vintner toasts something totally different: His first winemaker's dinner featuring his homegrown Pruett Vineyards wines.

A few seats remain for this special event at Carpe Vino restaurant in old town Auburn.

"There is absolutely no question that winning nine races in 2010 and my fourth Grand-Am Championship is a career-defining accomplishment," Pruett said. "But bottling the first vintage of Pruett Vineyard as a bonded winery with my wife, Judy, is as personally satisfying as any of my greatest moments in racing."

October 12, 2010
Tequila mixology class offers drop-dead twists

By Debbie Arrington
darrington@sacbee.com

A drop-dead bacon and egg cocktail? That could be an option during a special Dia de Los Muertos mixology class hosted by Tres Agaves Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Lounge in Roseville.

Ashley Miller, Tres Agaves' executive beverage director, will lead three sessions on Oct. 22, featuring Tequila Espolon. Each 90-minute hands-on class will explore the many options and unique ways that bartenders create new specialty drinks.

The class - which costs $25 to attend - also will feature a tasting of Tequila Espolon's collection.

Student mixologists will be encouraged to try combining unusual ingredients with tequila including bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cloves and pepper.

Tequila Espolon is a product of Mexico's San Nicolas Distillery, based in Arandas, Jalisco. Introduced to the United States market in 2000, this brand recently got a makeover with new labeling featuring striking artwork inspired by Mexican folk tales and traditions such as Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

The classes will be held at 5:30, 7 and 8:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 22 at Tres Agaves, 1182 Roseville Parkway, Roseville. For reservations, call (916) 782-4455 or click on www.tresagaves.com.

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075.

October 12, 2010
Bargain hot dogs on the menu Saturday

By Debbie Arrington
darrington@sacbee.com

Hot dog, here's a deal: a 59-cent lunch.

Wienerschnitzel, the world's largest hot dog chain, will offer that bargain Saturday at its new Sacramento outlet, located at 2464 Florin Road at the corner of 24th Street.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the new restaurant will host an open house with 59-cent hot dogs, a bounce house, free stuff and fun.

"We are very excited to celebrate with the community the grand opening of our new Sacramento location," said store owner Bal Soin in a release. "The day will be full of fun and of course der-licious Wienerschnitzel menu items and everyday value offers."

Despite its name, Wienerschnitzel is a California native, born in the Los Angeles suburb of Wilmington in 1961. Serving more than 120 million hot dogs a year, the Irvine-based chain now has 350 franchises in 10 states and Guam.

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075.

October 5, 2010
Folsom woman becomes Martha's helper

By Debbie Arrington
darrington@sacbee.com

Folsom's Colleen Gordon got a moment in the spotlight Tuesday with how-to maven Martha Stewart during the taping of Stewart's show in New York City.

Her five minutes of fame - originally shown live in New York - will be re-broadcast in the Sacramento market at 1 p.m. PDT Wednesday on the Hallmark Channel.

Gordon, a crafter herself, was chosen at random from the studio audience to help Stewart create luminaries out of gourds. That included drilling holes into the dried gourds while live on camera.

"I had never done anything like that before," said Gordon, reached by phone in New York. "I had five minutes to cram everything in my head like a big sponge before we went on camera.

"But my drill was set on reverse," she added. "(Martha) was drilling away on her gourd, but mine wasn't working. It became a big joke. Finally, we got mine working, too. And the gourds turned out beautifully."

The task seemed natural to Gordon, who is in the party business. Visiting New York with her husband Robb for a business conference, the 40-year-old Folsom mom owns Party Wishes (mypartywishes.com), which specializes in themed party planning for children and teens.

"I started doing parties for my own kids," said the mother of four children, ranging in age from 2 to 13. "We take care of it all - decor, favors, hosting. It's for moms who don't have a lot of time."

Stewart gave Gordon an extra surprise: The TV host plugged her Folsom party business.

"She had asked me off camera what I do, but then she repeated it on the air," Gordon recalled. "It was the best advertising I could ever have in the whole world - and it was free."

Gordon also got to keep the gourd. "Now, I've got to find a way to get it home on the plane," she said. "But it will be on my doorstep soon."

Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075.

September 29, 2010
Get your Sacramento locavore guide now

By Debbie Arrington
darrington@sacbee.com

Looking for local produce? Here's a new guide made for locavores. Besides being a handy resource, it's the best price: Free.

"Buy Fresh Buy Local: Sacramento Valley Eater's Guide" is now available at Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op, Davis Food Co-op and Davis Farmers Market.

This 40-page guide covers Yolo, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter and Yuba counties with information on farmers' markets, grocers and restaurants, community gardens, farms, farmstands, food artisans, U-Pick farms, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA produce boxes) and agricultural organizations.

Developed by the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF Bay Area), the guide represents an effort to improve access to healthy food and raise awareness about the importance of buying local, say editor Ariane Michas.

Among its useful features:

• Full schedule of farmers' markets including times, dates and locations;

• A seasonality chart, highlighting crops grown in the Sacramento Valley;

• Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in our area;

• Sacramento Valley organizations and websites dedicated to healthy eating and a sustainable food system.

• Listings by county of growers, farmstands, grocers, restaurants, cafes and caterers that support locally grown produce.

"If there's anything that we've learned in our work for this guide, it is that the Sacramento Valley is hungry for local food," said Michas. "Fortunately, the terrific abundance of the area is well suited to feeding this hunger."

The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is located at 1900 Alhambra Blvd. in Sacramento. Phone: (916) 455-2667. The Davis Food Co-op is located at 620 G St. in Davis. Phone: (530) 758-2667. Both are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The Davis farmers' market, located at 4th and C streets, is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.



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