Getting Ready for T-Day

Thanksgiving ideasBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I love hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Steve is finished with most of the food shopping and I’ve completed some of my early prep—making pie dough, baking cornbread, and cubing white bread for the stuffing, according to my Thanksgiving game plan. We’re in good shape. Continue Reading »

Roasted Cranberry Chutney

Roasted Cranberry Chutney

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

As a child, cranberry sauce was my favorite part of Thanksgiving. Slithered from the can and sliced, glistening jewellike and with a sweet-tartness, it added just the right deliciousness to the big feast.

I didn’t realize people actually made fresh cranberry sauce from scratch until I moved to New York City after college and began a new Thanksgiving tradition, enjoying potlucks with other “orphans.” It was a revelation.

Through the years, I’ve made many a bowl of fresh cranberry sauce, often just following the quick and easy package recipe and adding some orange zest. Then about ten years ago, I found a recipe for roasted cranberry sauce in Saveur magazine and I have been making it faithfully. Roasting seems to intensify the cranberry flavors beautifully. Continue Reading »

Sandwich for dinner

Fig and Arugula PaniniBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

After Halloween, the excitement begins, as I anticipate the upcoming holidays and all the cooking and baking ahead, from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

I start planning my menus, making grocery lists and thinking about table centerpieces. I also plan on quick meals for those days when holiday preparations make everyday cooking a distraction.

I asked Dave recently what he makes for his family for dinner when he’s busy juggling work life and activities surrounding two young children. His go-to supper turns out to be flatbread panini sandwiches. Continue Reading »

Thanksgiving PrepBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving yet? I’m starting to look through recipes to decide what to make. I’m also thinking about how to decorate my Thanksgiving table.

I’ve started gathering Indian corn, gourds and small pumpkins from the farmers’ market for a centerpiece. As much as possible, I like to use fall produce that can be eaten later, rather than just serve as table decorations, so as time gets closer, I will add pomegranates and persimmons to my shopping list, and just before Thanksgiving, I’ll pick up some grapes.

I like to determine in advance, who will sit where for the big feast, trying to mix up the guests and keeping in mind which people will be most compatible sitting through a long dinner together. I work out the seating by drawing a rectangle to represent the table and begin marking on my “table,” who will sit where. It usually takes several tries before I come up with the seating arrangement that I think will work best, to keep everyone happy and engaged. Continue Reading »

A Quick Halloween Supper

Mummies on the Loose

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

If you expect your ghosts, princesses and superheroes to be champing at the bit to go trick-or-treating on Halloween, plan on a simple supper by making hot dog mummies. Accompany with some vegetable sticks or a handful of cherry tomatoes and call it a meal.

These mummies are easy to make using frozen puff pastry and hot dogs. While the recipe is for six mummies, make fewer or more, as you like.

Leftover, defrosted puff pastry can be refrozen if you don’t need all of it to wrap the mummies. Keep the second sheet in its wrapper, in the refrigerator, on hold. If you don’t’ use it, freeze immediately for another time. Here are some ways to use frozen puff pastry. Continue Reading »

A Time for Comfort Food

Stove-top Pot Roast

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

In San Francisco, smoke hangs heavily over our city from the wildfires raging in Northern California. Aside from our air quality, which has at times been as bad or worse than Beijing, we are unaffected.

But the smoke is a daily reminder of the tragic events that are unfolding daily, resulting in a staggering loss of life, loss of homes and personal possessions, loss of businesses, loss of jobs, and loss of the area’s natural beauty. So much is blackened, scarred or obliterated.

If you have ever driven past sun-drenched vineyards, toured wineries and participated in wine tastings, you know how magical the experience can be—it translates into a multi-billion-dollar tourist industry. Continue Reading »

Make Mine with Miso

Miso Eggplant

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

As a child, I never much cared for eggplant. Now I like eggplant, but rarely think to add it to my shopping list.

Recently, I’ve seen some very nice Japanese eggplants at our farmers’ market so I decided to cook it the way my mother did, with miso.

Sweet and salty, high in umami from fermentation, miso has a way of making everything taste better. Unlike some other fermented foods, this bean paste has a pleasant fragrance. Of the two main types, white miso is sweeter and smoother; red miso is saltier and more intense. Refrigerated, miso will keep a year. Continue Reading »

Pasta BakeBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

What would we do without ground meat? It’s the hands-down, most versatile choice for that last-minute, what-to-cook dilemma. Whether you use ground beef, pork, chicken or turkey, there are infinite ways to turn this dinnertime staple into quick, delicious meals.

Here are some ground beef safe storage and handling tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture: Continue Reading »

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