I feel giddy. Like a kid on summer vacation, which in fact I am.
My day job has finished at last, and my days are my own at last! I can cook, I shop, I can do all those silly little projects I've been meaning to get to. I can wander down to Bittersweet and have a giant cup of hot chocolate and read the newspaper. I can read the newspaper! I can do a crossword puzzle! I can -- I can -- Okay...okay...okay....Eric says I have to not hyperventilate.
We passed through the Fillmore Jazz Festival yesterday on the way to stopping at Goodwill to drop off all the stuff I weeded out of my closet. (I can do spring cleaning! I can shop for new clothes!) The air was rife with the smell of barbecueing meat and so it was that we decided that it was it was burgers for the night.
Eric had to work on Saturday afternoon, but when he got back, we shopped for some meat and some blue cheese. Naturally. Fourme d'Ambert, I have to say, is super on the burgers -- nice sharpness and balance, a bit of salty, and best of all, inexpensive.
Since I can never leave well enough alone, I also decided to make some homemade ketchup. This recipe, from Roy's in Hawaii, is not too much trouble at all. And yes, it beats the pants off of Heinz.
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Ketchup
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 7.25-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup dry red wine
6 tablespoons golden brown sugar
2 large dried ancho or poblano chilies, seeded, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from canned chipotles
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 bay leaf
Combine tomatoes with juices and all remaining ingredients in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced to about 3 cups, about 30 minutes covered, and then 30 minutes uncovered. Discard bay leaf. Working in batches, purée ketchup in blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Cool slightly, then chill until cold. (Ketchup can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.)
Makes about 3 cups.
So blue cheese is not necessarily the thing for the Cheese Kitty, but he did deign to advise us on the forming of burgers. I'm not a big fan of the normal hamburger bun -- too much bread. I had been inspired by the burger on focaccia from Zuni Cafe, but as we couldn't find any focaccia, and I didn't have time to make some, we settled instead for some brioche buns from Bay Breads. FYI, that works. Really well.
This morning, with all my free time, I decided to run more errands, this time down on Clement Street.
I had a cell phone and two of our old PDAs that we wanted to donate, and one of the Bay Area drop off points is the Toy Boat Dessert Cafe.
I love this place! Covered in kitsch, it also sells coffee and italian sodas and ice cream next to every imaginable type of Pez dispenser, St. Joseph action figures, Jesus tape -- you get the idea.
Clement Street is a perfect place for wandering on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The best dim sum in the city can be found there. (No, I'm not saying which specific place it is, because I went in there today and the line wound around the counter and out the door. I'm not letting any more people in on the secret!)
And just up the street is one of our favorite haunts, Kamei Restaurant Supply. You can find ANYthing here to suit your cooking needs. ANYthing. And many things that have nothing to do with cooking, like those kitty-statues that wave their paw in greeting -- you know, the kind you see in Chinese restaurants.
They have cleansers, cookware, a wide variety of crockery and those Japanese plates and sushi dishes whose overpriced counterparts you see in Japantown. What do you need? Rice cooker, French press, potato masher, industrial size muffin pans, stockpot large enough to boil a small child? Cutting boards, molcajetes, pastry cutters, bunsen burners, mopheads -- it's all there for a lot less money than you'd pay in more chi-chi stores. We bought our cast iron teapot here for substantially less than the usual price.
Today, I bought some cotton dish cloths ($.99)for use on our picnics next week and a Totally Bamboo sushi dish ($11) that will make a nice little serving plate for said picnic. I later saw the self-same bamboo plate from the self-same company at Sur la Table for $16.
Anyway, we'll be out of town for a week or so as we rumble down the coast to Paso Robles for a little winery vacation! (No, not a "Sideways" trip -- at least not THAT kind of "Sideways" trip.) The list of winery recommendations, I might add, seems to be constantly growing. Feel free to let me know what your fave Paso winery is!
Be sure to tune in for more when we get back.