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About Foodie Pam

My CookBookKarma ChatterI love to cook, try new recipes and enjoy great food. I devote my free time to growing fresh vegetables in my garden, seeking out interesting new recipes to cook, reading, tasting new wines and relaxing with my kitty, Zuekki.  In the most recent past I was the Director of Research at QED Labs, a small biotech company that I founded. 

I have always had a passion for food and started Project Foodie to combine my love of food with my computer and entrepreneurial skills. Living in the heart of Silicon Valley with access to a vast array of gourmet restaurants, amazing wines and fresh produce it's easy to allow food to consume you.  Of course, Silicon Valley also has an obsession with technology. Project Foodie is the perfect mix of the two.

Contact Foodie Pam: foodiepam@projectfoodie.com.

Pam's Articles

St. Helena: Great food and Relaxation

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Written by foodie pam   
Sunday, 21 April 2013

In the San Francisco Bay area we have lots of choices when it comes to a getaway including the city itself, the coast and either Napa or Sonoma’s “Wine Country”.  While I love the city, for relaxation I typically turn to the Wine Country and most often the Russian River Valley area of Sonoma.  Recently, however, I ventured into Napa County with its gorgeous vineyards spreading over hillsides, wealth of wonderful restaurants and several small towns to explore. 

For this trip the destination within Napa Valley was St. Helena, CA, which has shops, restaurants and a lodging all within a 2-3 block area.  I particularly like when I can find a hotel near my dinner choice so I can walk back to the hotel. In St. Helena not only could I walk back to the hotel after dinner but in the morning I could walk to my choice of breakfast options and window shop too.

ImageThe hotel I stayed, the Wydown Hotel, is a 12 room boutique hotel located on Main St.  I love boutique hotels because each has a unique feel and they cater to your every desire.  The Wydown has 4 different room types that vary slightly in price.  The corner rooms are slightly larger and have a view of Main St, whereas the other rooms have views of the neighboring park or inner atrium which shields them from any traffic on Main St. All of the rooms are spacious with King size beds and include a fridge, Keurig coffee maker, day passes to Health Spa Napa Valley, free WiFi, and parking.  The staff is very friendly and helpful with recommendations for wine tastings/tours, food choices, and things to do during your stay.

ImageThe Wydown is named after the owner’s favorite street from his hometown of St. Louis.  As I was relaxing at the Wydown I started thinking of it as the “wind-down” because it is such a great place for clearing the stress of our daily lives starting with its large lounge that has not only comfy seating, reading material, and a fireplace but also a fun puzzle to clear your mind as you relax.  They also provide passes to a nearby spa (about a 3 block walk) so that I could exercise (a necessity given all the food I was to eat during my stay!).  The spa has all the essentials for a great workout including treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, weight machines and even a lap pool.  I didn’t get a massage but they offer them if you feel the urge to further indulge.

I’m not sure I could have handled a massage since I ate way too much of the amazing food at La Condesa the night before.  While I hadn’t been to La Condesa in St. Helena before I was at the La Condesa in Austin Texas. The St. Helena location has revised both their style and food to accommodate the St. Helena feel, which is much more subdued than the bustling Austin Texas location. 

ImageThe food is also more refined that what I experienced in Austin. Chef Chris Mortenson has an amazingly creative palate from which he creates amazing savory dishes like Guacamole with pickled strawberries, queso fresco and toasted pepita seeds; Guacamole with poached shrimp; pastor sauce and pineapple, pork belly huarache with point reyes blue cheese, fig jam, and arugula; and fried shrimp tacos with avocado puree, salsa bruja valentine and chipotle-corn salsa.  The guacamoles were part of the guacamole and salsa tasting that includes 4 different guacamole variations and 4 salsas served with chips.  I was surprised when the poached shrimp guacamole was my favorite, but the flavors really worked well together especially the slightly sweet tang of the pineapple.  The pork belly huarache was another favorite with fig jam and blue cheese pairing perfectly.  In addition to the small plates and tacos, La Condesa has main dishes but I didn’t sample those as I was saving room to try their homemade ice creams.  With creative flavors like bacon, birthday cake, brown sugar banana, coffee chip, cream cheese and blue cheese it was hard to pick only one.  Instead, my husband and I shared 3 – with cream cheese being my favorite and brown sugar banana his favorite.  I really liked the coffee chip too though, especially because you could taste the dark roast coffee that went into it.

ImageAs though all the food at La Condesa was not enough we’d have been lax foodies if we hadn’t sampled some of their more than 200 different varieties of Tequila.  We did a tasting of 3 tequilas and then based on the recommendations of our server tried a shot of one more – an ultra añejo tequila called Don Julio 1942 which is the smoothest tequila I’ve ever tasted.  It was silky smooth with vanilla and tropical fruit flavors with spiced undertones.  After the 4 tequilas it was a good thing we only had to walk (er stagger) a block and a half to the Wydown for a wonderful night’s rest….

If you go:

Wydown Hotel
1424 Main Street
St.Helena, CA 94574
707.963.5100
http:www.wydownhotel.com

La Condesa

1320 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574
http://lacondesa.com/napa

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 April 2013 )
 

Russian-style corn salad with lobster and homemade chips

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Written by foodie pam   
Friday, 22 February 2013
List of viewable recipes from "Spanish Flavors" by Jose Pizarro

Recipe from Spanish Flavors by Jose Pizarro (Kyle Books, 2013)

ImageI know you will wonder why there is a Russian salad in a Spanish book, but you will find the ensaladilla Rusain restaurants and tapas bars all over Spain,  with thousands of variations. It should be called a Spanish summer salad. In the Canaries, they slip in some corn as well. When I told my friend about this dish, he thought I was mad, but I promise it is delicious!

Serves 6-8
2 x 1 lb cooked lobsters
1 large fresh corn on the cob or 1 cup fresh corn kernels
6 oz waxy new potatoes
6 oz carrots, halved
3 1/2 oz fine green beans
1/3 cup petits pois, freshly shelled or frozen
1/2 quantity Olive Oil Mayonnaise (see recipe below)
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup gherkins, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt
For the homemade chips
1 1/4 lb small, floury potatoes, such as Russet
olive or peanut oil, for deep-frying

First remove the meat from the lobsters. Twist off the claw arms and break each one into 3 pieces at the joints. Crack the shells of each claw with a lobster cracker or large sharp knife, and remove the meat. Slice open the meat from the largest claw, remove the very thin, flat piece of bone from the center, and discard. Remove the meat from the other pieces by hooking them out with a lobster pick. Try to keep the pieces of meat as large as possible. Pull the tail away from the head and discard the head. Place the tail belly-side down on a chopping
 board and, using a large, sharp knife, cut it in half lengthwise. Separate the two halves and remove and discard the dark intestinal tract that runs along the top edge of the tail meat (there might be a little on each half). Lift out the piece of tail meat from each half, and cut it crosswise into thin slices. Put the meat onto a plate, cover, and chill until you are ready to serve.

For the salad, stand the whole corn cob upright on a board and cut the kernels away, keeping the blade as close to the cob as you can. Cook the vegetables separately in boiling salted water until tender, then refresh them in a bowl of ice water. The potatoes will take about 12-15 minutes, the carrots about 8 minutes, the green beans 4 minutes, the corn 3 minutes, and the peas 1 minute. Drain everything well, cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch dice, and the carrots and beans into similar-sized pieces. Mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice in a mixing bowl, then fold in the cooked vegetables, scallions, chopped gherkins, parsley, and some seasoning to taste.

For the chips, peel the potatoes and slice them crosswise, very thinly, ideally using a mandoline. Wash them in plenty of cold water to remove the starch, and dry well-spin them first in a salad spinner, then dry them extra well on clean kitchen towels. Heat some oil for deep-frying to 350F. Place a chip basket in the oil, drop in a large handful of the potato slices, and fry for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, stirring them around occasionally, until golden brown and very crisp. Remove using the chip basket, shake off the excess oil, then spread the chips over a paper-lined baking sheet and leave to cool. Sprinkle with a little fine sea salt, and set aside.

Spoon some of the salad onto 4 plates, and arrange the lobster meat alongside. Pile some of the chips onto the plate and serve.

Olive oil mayonnaise

Makes 1 1/4 cups

2 large free-range (cage-free) egg yolds, at room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup sunflower oil

Put the egg yolks, lemon juoice, mustard and sea salt into a mixing bolw and lightly blend together.  Gradually which in the oils, a little at a time, until you have produced a thick and silky-smooth mayonaise.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 24 February 2013 )
 

Flour Power

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Written by foodie pam   
Tuesday, 18 December 2012

ImageI am a baking fool. In good times and in bad, creating something wonderful out of flour and sugar soothes my soul. I consider baking not only relaxing, but downright therapeutic. During this time of year, when life seems to be racing out of control, there is nothing more satisfying than setting aside a few hours to try my hand at some new recipes. This end-of-season selection of books left Team Project Foodie salivating! From innovative desserts that appeal to the kid in each of us; to mini-masterpieces ideal for entertaining; a love letter to vanilla; and a bonanza of first-class cookies--you'll want to stock your pantry and preheat that oven. Only something good can come of it.  And this is no time of year to overlook man’s best friend! Whip up one of these tasty canine treats, and we know exactly who will beg to lick the spoon!

Baking Out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith

Goldsmith, a pastry chef and contributor to the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets, presents 80 whimsical, original recipes sure to bring a smile to your face as well as your tummy. Explore your inner child with desserts like Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies; Tangerine Creamsicle Pots de Crème; Sweet Corn & Blueberry Bread Pudding; and Buttered Popcorn Gelato. Regression has never tasted so good. -- Picked by Peggy Fallon.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Baking Out Loud".



Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets by Abigail Johnson Dodge


Dodge has done it again. Specifically, this Contributing Editor to Fine Cooking magazine has compiled 100 of the sweetest little recipes imaginable. Even though petit, these tiny treasures pack full-size flavor. Set your sites on Two-Bite Apricot-Pistachio Tarts; Double Espresso Whoopie Pies; Frozen Nutella Yogurt Bites; and Salty Mixed Nut Brittle, and I guarantee you’ll come back for seconds. And isn’t that the real point of bite-size desserts? --- Picked by Peggy Fallon.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets".


Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m one of Them. Don’t get me wrong; I love me some chocolate. But given my druthers, vanilla wins out every time. And now, thanks to author Sever, I can come out of the closet. With 80 recipes like Buttery Baked Vanilla Bean French Toast; Vanilla Nougat Candy Bar Bites; Golden Pear Vanilla Jam; and Malted White Hot Chocolate, I suspect a lot of others will soon join me. There’s also a healthy smattering of vanilla history and folklore to read while dessert is in the oven. Surrender to the bean! -- Picked by Peggy Fallon.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Pure Vanilla".

Seriously Simple Cookies by Nancy Baggett

Cookies are one of my favorite sweets to bake, for these tiny treasures are so easily shared. But even when I simply stash an entire batch away for myself, cookies have a built-in portion-control factor that softens any guilt feelings I might harbor. (Assuming, of course, I eat only 1 or 2 cookies at a time.) In Seriously Simple Cookies, Nancy Baggett provides a glorious collection of more than 200 recipes, ranging from traditional to modern as well as simple to challenging. Whether you're a card-carrying cookie monster or simply know one, there are enough good recipes here to satisfy cravings well into the new year. -- Picked by Pam

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Simply Sensational Cookies".

Better Food for Dogs by David Bastin and Jennifer Ashton, and Grant Nixon, D.V.M.

Foodies like to eat real food. So why feed your dog processed stuff out of a can? Even though it’s often served with the best intentions, commercial dog food is not always the healthiest choice. This book is filled with hard-to-find nutritional advice and tips to keep your pooch healthy; as well as savory recipes for the canine gourmet. (Rotini with Meat Sauce, anyone? How about a Divine Dinner Burrito?) And something tells me treats like Oatmeal Peach Cookies and Blueberry Banana Biscotti will leave more than a few tails wagging. Bone Appétit! -- Picked by Peggy Fallon

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Better Food for Dogs".


Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 17 December 2012 )
 

With Yeast on My Mind....

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Written by foodie pam   
Friday, 23 November 2012

ImageI am a baker. A bread baker, that is (although I do enjoy baking sweets, as well.) When time is limited I opt for no-knead recipes; but whenever I'm home for a full day, slow-rise, artisan breads are my loaves of choice. And, like many home bread-bakers, I’m always on the lookout for challenging recipes, unusual flavor combinations, and new techniques to try. Lucky me! Each year a new crop of bread-baking books is published. Here's what caught my eye this year; and since I truly believe you can never have too many bread cookbooks, I’ve also listed a few other books from years past that remain on my "active" cookbook shelf. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Hot off the press

All You Knead is Bread by Jane Mason

All You Knead is Bread celebrates the breads of the world, with simple slow-rising varieties, sourdough, everyday breads, occasional breads, celebration breads, and sweet breads from around the world. Whether you want to learn new techniques or explore breads from other cultures, I’m sure you’ll find both the similarities and differences in these breads intriguing.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "All You Knead Is Bread".

Nick Malgieri’s Bread by Nick Malgieri

Most bread books focus only on making bread, and assume you’ll find dozens of uses for the loaves you bake. Generally that’s true, but I often wonder whether certain breads wouldn’t be better suited for some use other than what I’ve chosen. Nick Malgieri’s Bread takes aim at this problem by combining bread recipes with complementary savory recipes. The breads range from slow-rise to pan breads and rolls, to filled breads and more. In some cases I’m not sure which recipe draws me in more: the bread itself, or the accompanying application. Either way this book is sure to keep me baking well into the spring...and then some.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Nick Malgieri’s Bread".

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish

No-knead bread remains popular because of the minimal effort involved in making it. (Novices think it's magic.) And while the finished bread tastes very good, it isn’t always the most flavorful loaf out there. In this book Ken Forkish offers similar, but slightly more complex techniques which result in noticeably enhanced flavor. Yes, you’ll still cook the loaf in a covered cast-iron pot, but you will also get an opportunity to work the dough a bit with your hands. Not a bad thing, if you ask me, since this small effort results in deeper, richer flavor.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Flour Water Salt Yeast".

Favorites from years past

Artisan Breads at Home by Eric Kastel

Overall, I’m a fan of the entire Culinary Institute of America’s At Home series, but the bread- baking book is my favorite. These recipes work without fail, and provide all the details needed to bake exceptional breads, rolls, sandwich bread, and even special-occasion breads. This is the most-used book in my bread cookbook library.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Artisan Breads at Home".

The Italian Baker. Revised by Carol Field

This update to the James Beard award winning cookbook explores Italian bread in all its glory.  If the phrase "Italian bread" conjures up only a couple of different varieties, then be prepared to be amazed. From numerous loaves to unique rolls, to sandwiches and sweet breads, this book will teach you the essence of bread making, Italian-style. I’m slowly working my way through the entire book and loving everything I make.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "The Italian Baker, Revised".

My Bread by Jim Lahey

This book is the no-knead bread source. If you want a simple, dependable recipe for bread that can be easily made with minimal fuss, look no further. This is the book I inevitably turn to whenever I want great-tasting homemade bread during a busy week. I’ve even trained Foodie Husband to make it!

Recipes to try: 4 viewable recipes from "My Bread".

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 27 November 2012 )
 

Food Gal App for San Francisco Bay Area Foodies – with a chance to win your own!

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Written by foodie pam   
Sunday, 09 September 2012

ImageWhether you live in the San Francisco Bay Area or plan on traveling here, finding great restaurants is a top priority for every Foodie.  Carolyn Jung, aka Food Gal, is a former San Jose Mercury News Food editor who knows her way around the SF Bay Area food scene.  She frequently blogs about restaurants on her blog FoodGal.com and has transformed that resource into an even greater one with her Food Gal's Ultimate Guide to Bay Area Dining app ($1.99 in the iPhone App Store with Android version coming soon).  

The app offers a selection of 75 Bay Area restaurants that Carolyn has tried and enjoyed.  She describes each restaurant and provides details on fab food choices. The app has a great interface that lets you find the restaurants on a map (based on your location if you let it) or as a list.   

While Carolyn and I live only a few miles apart and have explored restaurants together, I’m amazed at some of the hidden gems she’s found and shares in her app.  That’s because the app highlights both well-known, highly-rated restaurants along with smaller and less familiar, but equally tantalizing places.  In other words, whether you’re a life long Bay Area resident or newbie, this app is sure to introduce you to new restaurants.

And now for that chance to win! Before September 17, 2012 add a comment to this post as a registered user that describes one of your favorite San Francisco Bay Area restaurants.  We’ll pick our 3 favorite entries to receive a free copy of Food Gal’s app.   

Note: in order for us to be able to contact you the comment must be added as a registered Project Foodie user to be eligible to win. 

 

Disclosure: Samples of products discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or manufacturers.

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 September 2012 )
 
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