Food and Cooking

Delicious recipes, family friendly dining news and reviews, and resources for foodie families in Marin and the Bay Area

Make a Bowl of Guacamole for Game Day

February 6, 2016

Guacamole For some reason, guacamole seems to be perpetually linked to the Super Bowl. Come February, the pebbly-skinned green fruits go on sale at the supermarket, inviting you to make a big bowl of delicious creamy guacamole to snack on or add to recipes.

When it comes to guacamole, I think simpler is better. There are so many recipes out there, often including ingredients ranging from tomatoes to mayonnaise (yuck!) to those seasoning packets you find in the supermarket containing who-knows-what. The New York Times cooking section even recently published a recipe that included green peas! Most traditional guacamole recipes eschew these ingredients in favor of simplicity, allowing the flavor and unctuous texture of the avocado to be the star. I think my favorite guac recipe which I'm sharing here does just that.

It's almost a shame that we all feel the need to make guacamole during the Super Bowl, given that California's avocado season runs from March through October. The imported Mexican ones seem to be a decent substitute, but I've found that the avocados from Peru and other South American countries aren't as good.

Longevity Noodles for Chinese New Year

February 1, 2016

longevity noodlesChinese New Year starts next Monday, February 8, so we are making some of the traditional foods associated with the holiday. Foods that are made and eaten during the new year celebration often have symbolic meanings meant to invoke prosperity and good fortune. In this case, the name "longevity noodles" is self-explanatory: the long noodles symbolize a long and happy life. Don't break them up when you're cooking, and try to eat them all in one piece!

This recipe is our adaptation of the traditional dish. We included a variety of kid-friendly Asian veggies like snow peas, napa cabbage, and bean sprouts, and left out the black mushrooms at the request of my daughter, who helped shop for the ingredients. Feel free to vary the ingredients depending on your family's preferences. Our kids both asked for seconds (and ate the vegetables and chicken, not just the noodles).

Chef Daddy Cooks Food Your Kids Will Eat: Beef Bourguignon

January 25, 2016

Beef BourguignonOn cool winter nights, it just seems right to make some stick-to-your-ribs comfort food classics. One of my family's favorites is beef bourguignon.

This timeless dish of beef braised with red wine and vegetables is easy to make and I have yet to find anyone who doesn't love it. It's one of my dinner party staples, since you can throw it all together in the early afternoon and just let it go on the stove so you can socialize instead of slave away in the kitchen.

One of the other great things about beef bourguignon is that you can make it from an inexpensive cut of meat like chuck, which the long braising time renders tender and delicious. I like to buy locally raised grass-fed beef from Marin County producers like Stemple Creek Ranch and Marin Sun Farms when I can, and this is a great way to prepare a quality ingredient without breaking the bank.

Let the Farm Come to You With a CSA or Organic Grocery Delivery in Marin

January 19, 2016

Bloomfield Organics CSA shareIt's the new year, and that usually entails resolutions about being more healthy. But families are busy, so simple tasks like just going grocery shopping for healthy food can be inconvenient, if not downright difficult. (This goes double for new parents!) Fortunately, you can get healthy, organic food delivered right to your doorstep or to a convenient local pickup area here in Marin County through a local farm's CSA or an organic grocery delivery service. These services all feature locally grown or produced sustainable food—perfect for the healthy locavore family!

Family Dining in Marin: Taki Japanese Restaurant

January 12, 2016

Taki Japanese restaurant in NovatoOur go-to place for Japanese food in Marin has always been Taki restaurant in Novato's Pacheco Plaza. We've been dining there for years (even before we had kids), and it's consistently provided good food, friendly service, huge portions, and a pleasant atmosphere. It's a great family dining experience.

Taki has a rustic Japanese country inn atmosphere, with lots of woodwork and Japanese art and decor. While most of the seating is at regular tables, there's a Japanese-style tatami area for larger groups in back, where you sit on the floor, courtesy of cutouts for your legs in the raised platform. There's even an outdoor dining area in front of the restaurant, in case you happen to be there on a nice day.

The a koi pond and fountain near the entrance contribute to the serene atmosphere, and the owner sometimes lets the kids feed the brightly colored fish, who swim over to them in anticipation of a meal. The kids also enjoy watching the sushi chefs at work at the wooden sushi bar, and looking at all the Japanese decor items around the restaurant, including traditional geisha dolls, lucky cats, and darumas.

Classic Chicken Paprikash

January 10, 2016

Chicken paprikashA classic central European comfort food dish, chicken paprikash is a great recipe to add to your winter cooking repertoire. Essentially chicken braised in a paprika-laden sauce finished with some sour cream, chicken paprikash is popular in Hungary and its neighbors like Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia.

Make sure you use sweet paprika—preferably Hungarian or Hungarian-style, not the hot or smoked varieties. Dark meat chicken pieces, bone-in and skin-on, work best in this slow-cooked dish. You can use bone-in chicken breasts, too, if you like or even a whole cut-up chicken. Also make sure you serve this with lots of noodles, mashed potatoes, or spätzle to soak up the delicious sauce (it's the best part).

Ingredients

  • 2–3 lbs chicken thighs or leg quarters, bone-in and skin-on
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

Slow-roasted Rotisserie-style Chicken

January 3, 2016

faux-tisserie roast chickenA roast chicken can be satisfying and delicious, but it can be deceptively difficult to make. I've been experimenting with trying to make the perfect roast chicken (I'm getting there, I think), and have been using different techniques to see how they turn out. One of the more successful ones is a "faux-tisserie" chicken, which attempts to develop the same fall-off-the bone texture that you get from your favorite rotisserie-cooked bird.

The general technique comes from Bon Appetit magazine, which advocates cooking the chicken low and slow for hours. I decided to flavor it like they do at Gira Polli in Mill Valley, whose wood-fired rotisserie chickens I think are some of the best in Marin. While this is not a whip-it-up-after-you-get-home-from-work recipe, it's really pretty easy. You just need to be around for the 3 hours it takes to cook it.

A Family That Eats Together: Ziti Frittata

December 27, 2015

Ziti frittataMarin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike.

Hummm… bacon and eggs for dinner? Count us in! Sometimes it just seems right. Think of this dish as a take on quiche but instead of a crust I use cooked pasta. Add in some veggies and the kids will never know that you sneaked them in because my frittata is just that good. The best part is that this recipe is so quick and easy it is a perfect weeknight dinner. It can also easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the pancetta.

Servings: 8–10
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

Recipes for a Delicious Thanksgiving

November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving turkeyIf you're looking for some fantastic family-friendly recipes for Thanksgiving, then we're here to help! We've decided to list all our recipes for Thanksgiving favorites here in one place for easy reference this week. We've included two different recipes for turkey, as well as a variety of sides and desserts. Enjoy! And we hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends.

The Main Event

Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with Gravy for Thanksgiving

November 9, 2015

Herb roasted turkey breastWhen we crave those classic holiday dinner flavors, we often grab a turkey breast roast from the market and make this easier, smaller scale, and faster version of a Thanksgiving feast. It's perfect for a nice family meal or Thanksgiving dinner if your family is smaller and you don't want to deal with cooking and storing a whole turkey. Another bonus when just cooking the turkey breast: you're less likely to overcook it since it's all you're dealing with.

I grab a handful of fresh herbs from the kitchen garden and use them in a compound butter to season the turkey breast bother under and on top of the skin. Not only does this give the turkey an amazing flavor, but it makes the skin extra crispy, too.

Put the roast in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan, pop it in the oven, and you'll have dinner in no time. I love using a cast iron skillet because it makes it easy to make gravy out of the pan drippings.