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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 »

Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

When I was a magazine food editor years ago, one timesaving strategy we promoted was what we called planned overs. Unlike leftovers, which could be an unexpected boon or curse, depending on how you felt about eating something twice, planned overs were exactly that: something you cooked more of, with a plan for using the remainder in a second meal.

Today, most home cooks can’t count on planned overs because few people seem to plan meals ahead of time these days. And even if you meticulously plan ahead, with everyone’s busy schedules, unforeseen things seem to happen to make the plans go awry. Continue Reading »

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I don’t know about you, but chicken is our go-to meat and it gets boring. Recently, I was mulling over what to do with some chicken thighs.

What did I want to eat? What kind of flavor would excite me to cook?

I started thinking Vietnamese—something with high flavor and a different taste profile from what I’d been cooking over the past few days.

So, I boned the thighs, marinated them and Steve grilled them when he came home from work. Continue Reading »

Ham and Artichoke Cheese SpreadBy Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

It used to be that kids went back to school the Tuesday after Labor Day—that bittersweet time when summer is officially over, and the excitement of a new school year begins.

These days, school is in full swing by Labor Day. Little Miss T. returned to preschool two weeks ago, and I am back to the grandma routine, fixing the Friday bento lunch. (Mom and dad do the other days.)

You may remember that I started to make the bento lunches because my grandchild is such a picky eater and lunches were returning home uneaten. I started out armed with great tips from bento expert Sheri Chen. Continue Reading »

Your Summer Recipes

Vietnamese-Style Grilled Pork and Lettuce Wraps

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Each summer, Special Fork goes on hiatus in August, returning after Labor Day. So, this is our last post for the summer. We will return on Monday, September 11.

Steve and I always take our traveling vacation in the spring or fall. This year, if you’ve followed my blog posts, Instagram or Twitter feed, you know we were in the South of France and Turin, Italy, visiting food markets and eating great meals.

August is a staycation time for us. A time to chill and regroup. We are fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of destinations for day trips—the Napa Valley, St. Helena, Monterey and more. It’s also time to visit museums, putter in the garden and do home projects. Continue Reading »

Roasted Cheese-Stuffed Figs with Bacon

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

Growing up in Hilo, we had a fig tree. It was one of many fruit trees in our backyard.

The mango, mountain apple, tangerine, litchi and guava trees thrived in our lush, Hawaiian climate. The fig tree did not.

It was puny and didn’t yield much fruit. And the fruit it did produce tended to be undersized. Ants, attracted to the sweetness, burrowed into the figs so you had to split them open to check for the little critters before taking a bite. Still, I loved that fig tree and to this day, I can’t wait for fig season.

The season runs from late summer through early fall, so July is a little early to be buying figs, but I couldn’t resist purchasing some I found last week, even if they weren’t so perfect and I knew they wouldn’t be so sweet. I figured these out-of-season figs were a good candidate for roasting, which would intensify their sweetness, and wrapping in bacon, which would remedy all sins. Continue Reading »

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