turkey tortilla soup 300x225 The Day After: Thanksgiving LeftoversBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Thanksgiving hasn’t even happened yet, and already, I’m thinking about the leftovers—for ourselves and our guests.

If you saw my post last week, you know I’m roasting one turkey the day before, for leftovers to share and to give me drippings to make gravy in advance. I’ll be able to carve that turkey without distractions, sort the pieces, bag and refrigerate them, cutting down on Thanksgiving Day stress. The second turkey will be roasted on Thanksgiving Day—that’s the one we will have for dinner. We’ll see how this plan works out…. Continue Reading »

thanksgiving table 081 300x225 Thanksgiving Tips from the Special Fork KitchenBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Last Thanksgiving, I had the brilliant idea of spatchcocking my turkey. I had the butcher take out the backbone so I could roast the bird, butterflied. The turkey cooks faster and the skin gets nice and crispy; even on the underside of the bird. I do this to whole chickens all the time.

Big mistake. I hadn’t considered how much space an 18-pound turkey would take, flattened out. It didn’t fit any roasting pan or sheet pan, and I ended up having to cut the bird in parts, dismembering it.

So this year, I have a new plan: I’m roasting two smaller birds—one on Wednesday and a second one on Thursday. Why this madness? Continue Reading »

Mama Julia’s Red Rice 300x225 An Introduction to Southern Foodways

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Looking back, I realize that for all the business travel I’ve done, I haven’t been to many cities and towns in the American South: New Orleans, Birmingham, Atlanta and High Point (North Carolina)…that’s it!

And while I enjoyed the food, I never gave much thought to the role of African slaves in the development of the cuisine. Sure, I knew that peanuts (groundnuts) and okra came from Africa. And that the cooks in the great Southern plantation houses were enslaved Africans.

My eyes were opened in Charleston, South Carolina, last week at the annual Les Dames d’Escoffier International Conference. Continue Reading »

beets 026 300x300 Cooking Up Some Fall Favorites

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

We don’t really see changing seasons much here in California. But we do enjoy changing produce as summer fruits and vegetables disappear, giving way to the fall harvest.

Here in San Francisco, our markets are all about apples, figs, pears, winter squash and root vegetables like beets and turnips.

I’ve gathered some selection and storage tips, with recipes from the Special Fork database, of some of our fall favorites.

How to select: Squeeze apples gently; there shouldn’t be much “give,” a sign that the apple is old and spongy. Look for apples that are heavy for their size. Apples should smell lightly fragrant. Select apple varieties according to intended use—baking, eating out of hand, for applesauce and so forth. When choosing apples for a pie, it’s a good idea to have a mixture of baking apples: sweet and tart ones for flavor balance; and tender and firm ones for a balance of texture. There are so many varieties of apples, many regional, that it’s best to ask the farmer at the farmers’ market or the produce clerk in the supermarket to help you pick appropriate types for your use. Continue Reading »

Cocktail Sauce 300x225 Tracking Down a Cauliflower Recipe

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I find that, while perusing culinary magazines, if you come across a recipe that you want to try, you have to flag it immediately with a Post-It. Otherwise, the issue gets tossed back in the magazine pile and good luck in finding it again.

This was my situation when I looked for a cauliflower recipe that had intrigued me, where you cook the florets in crab boil seasoning. I had bought the seasoning but it was only last week that I happened to have a head of cauliflower in my fridge and remembered my intention. Usually I simply roast or steam the florets, or use them in stir-fries.

I couldn’t remember where I’d seen the article, so I did a web search and found it on Epicurious. The recipe, Poor Man’s “Shrimp” Cocktail, was by Chef Kevin Roberts and had been published in Bon Appétit three year ago (time flies). Continue Reading »

caramel apples 225x300 It’s Time to Make Caramel Apples

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Last year, I never got around to carving pumpkins. This year, I’ve done one already, to delight my two-year-old grandchild who sang, “Happy birthday, pumpkin,” when we lit the candle.

I also made a first round of caramel apples. It’s easy if you start with caramel candies and melt them in the microwave.

The recipe below is a general one because the amount of candy you need will depend on the size of your apples, and the time to melt the caramels will depend on the type of caramels you buy and the power of your microwave oven.

An Important Caution
Recent findings have shown that caramel apples are a breeding ground for listeria. Researchers think that juices released when the stick is poked into the apple, coming in contact with the caramel, is the cause. It appears that refrigeration and consuming the caramel apples within a week avoids the problem. In any case, do not make these apples until you’ve read about the listeria issue and feel comfortable proceeding. Continue Reading »

Tuna Tofu Patties 300x225 What to Cook after a Vacation

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

What to eat upon returning from vacation poses a real dilemma. There’s never anything fresh in the fridge and you’re too tired to cook, anyway. Yet, having eaten out for 18 days in a row, you don’t want a restaurant meal or takeout, either.

So on Wednesday, our first full day back from Hawaii, I was rummaging through my pantry and freezer, trying to decide what to have for dinner. In the fridge, I had a package of tofu that hadn’t expired and some eggs. In the pantry, some Wild Planet tuna and panko bread crumbs. The parsley on my deck was thriving, thanks to my house-sitter son.

So, Tuna Tofu Patties! Continue Reading »

O’o Farm Salad Dressing 300x225 Lunch on a Farm in Upcountry MauiBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I was food editor of the Honolulu Advertiser before Hawaii Regional Cuisine came into fruition. In those days, the best restaurants in the Islands boasted European chefs cooking with imported ingredients.

Never mind that every backyard was burgeoning with papayas, mangoes, passion fruit, avocados, lychee and other tropical treasures. Never mind that Hawaii was a melting pot of culinary influences—in addition to native Hawaiian: Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipino, Korean, Puerto Rican and many other immigrants called Hawaii home.

All of these assets were ignored in the old days of Hawaii’s haute cuisine. Continue Reading »

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