Monthly Archives: November 2011

Eleven Madison Park Cookbook Review

“While we take what we do very seriously, we try not to take ourselves too seriously.”

That’s a quote from the introduction to the new book Eleven Madison Park, The Cookbook by Daniel Humm, Executive Chef and Will Guidara, General Manager.

I was honored to be one of a handful of San Francisco food bloggers invited to a small meet-up with Daniel and Will a week ago. In talking with them, these words really rang true. They are very down-to-earth, have an enormous amount of passion about food, family and collaboration. Their attitude was warm, friendly and full of humor.

On first glance, the book comes off as a beautiful over-the-top technique-driven cookbook. Upon further inspection though, and validated by our chat with Daniel and Will, there is an undercurrent of educating the home chef. While giving the advice that yes, these are very challenging recipes, you can rest assured that they have been tested and if you persevere, and follow the recipes, you will succeed.

Will asked what we thought of the book. My first impression, which I shared with the group, was that the book could be intimidating. Upon further inspection, the layout of the recipe pages inspired me to think that I could successfully make the recipes. Each of the beautiful photos, shot by Franceso Tonelli, is accompanied by recipes for all components of the dish. By breaking the dish into smaller individual recipes, you could choose to make all of the parts, or some. Will did say that this was their intention and were glad that it came across in the book.

There are several sections in addition to the clear recipes and stunning photos, one section is devoted to what the authors have deemed basics that you will need to build your recipes. Standard items like stock are included here. However, they’ve gone so far as to include several varieties of butter you might want to have on hand, an assortment of ice cream and some very interesting crumbles. Loved this section.

Two other interesting and very telling sections of the book focus on the running of the restaurant and a list of what each of the many employees’ jobs entail. These sections meant even more once I saw how Daniel and Will talk about working together, both front and back of house. The fact that there is a day-in-the-life section that talks about how things get done rounds out the idea of collaboration that these two men have based their restaurant culture on.

Check out reviews by the other SF bloggers who also attended the meet-up:

click here to purchase Eleven Madison Park, The Cookbook by Daniel Humm and Will Guidara
Photo courtesy of Little, Brown and Company
Posted in cookbook | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Love Pumpkin Bread


Yep, that’s right. And, I think Ms Iz does, too (that’s my daughter, in case you didn’t know).

I made a gluten-free (happens to also be dairy-free) pumpkin bread yesterday, which I have to say beats the pants off my old version. I don’t bake a lot, so it’s very nice to find a recipe that comes together easily and has little to no mess (but a few dishes to clean up afterward).

The original recipe is from Noteworthy: A Collection of Recipes from the Ravinia Festival, which is a book I received as a wedding gift. Many years (almost 15) and life changes (had a kid, got out of my marriage) later, I still return to this recipe every Thanksgiving. I love pumpkin pie, but can’t really eat the crust, and being a novice baker, muffins and breads like this are much more in my comfort zone.

Even though butter and I are best friends, using vegetable oil here makes the bread moist and the batter silky. I changed up some of the spices, though. I didn’t have everything on hand, so used cinnamon, cloves and ground ginger. Adding the walnuts just before baking gave the bread a nice crunch, but didn’t mess with the interior texture. Oh, and of course, I used a gluten-free mix of flour instead of the traditional white flour the recipe calls for. I bought a pre-mixed flour this time, but you can go here to find a great recipe for your own mix.

I had intended to make muffins this year, but as always happens, I had no liners for the tray. Once I bought the liners, I realized I only had a mini muffin tray, so the liners were too big. I spotted the mini springform pans in the back of the cabinet. Adding a little oil and some parchment paper made the breads a snap to remove from the pans.


Pumpkin Bread

makes 5 small loaves

Recipe adapted from Noteworthy: A Collection of Recipes from the Ravinia Festival


  • 1 2/3 cup sifted gluten-free flour (use a mix or make your own)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/ 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl.
  • Mix together vegetable oil, orange juice, pumpkin puree and eggs in another large bowl.
  • Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Make sure to mix completely to incorporate everything.
  • Lightly oil the pans. Line your baking pans with parchment.
  • Pour the mixture into the pans.
  • Add nuts to the top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Insert a cake tester or toothpick into the center and if it comes out clean, the bread is ready. If not, bake for another 5 minutes.
Posted in dairy free, gran fran, pumpkin bread, thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

No-Cook Cranberry Relish…Woo Hoo!

I don’t really like cranberry sauce.

But wait, that was before I found this excellent no-cook cranberry relish.

Well, it was back in 2001, I believe, when Gourmet (R.I.P.) published this very simple no-cook cranberry relish. I was dead set against it. In 2002, my friend and co-worker at the time, Heidi, said she had made this and was thrilled with the results. The taste, said Heidi, was tart and the texture was crunchy, not soggy.

I sat down and thought through the pros and cons of cranberries. It occurred to me that I’ve been drinking cranberry juice for years and loved it. The thought also crossed my mind, though, that all other ways that cranberries were ever presented to me did nothing for me, and even turned me against this particular berry.

But, I promised Heidi I’d make it. She was right. The relish is nothing like the canned cranberry (or fresh cranberry) sauce I’d previously eaten. And, so, this has become a standard in my Thanksgiving repertoire.

Wait, wait, there’s even more. Every year, I get the ingredients to make this, and somehow have convinced myself of a few things from the previous year:

  1. There are shallots and fresh ginger in the original recipe (there are not, but they are now featured in my version).
  2. You have to cook this recipe. (Nope, just pop everything in the food processor and that’s it!)
  3. Everyone at my sister’s table loves this relish. (Not so much, but a few of us do love it, while others just want the traditional version).

This relish gets better over a couple of days, so make it today and it will wow your guests on Thanksgiving.

No-Cook Cranberry Orange Relish

Recipe adapted from Epicurious (Gourmet magazine, 2001)


  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 (12-oz) bag fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 small shallot, chopped coarsley
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated fresh ginger


  • Finely grate 2 teaspoons zest from orange.
  • Cut away and discard peel and pith from orange, then cut sections free from membranes.
  • Pulse cranberries with zest, orange sections, sugar, cinnamon, shallots and ginger in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  • Chill, covered, at least 2 hours to allow flavors to develop.

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Posted in cranberry, no-cook, thanksgiving | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Filet of Sole a la Joe

Last night, I made breaded filet of sole. Since my dad came up with this recipe, we refer to any preparation that involves breading fish or meat as “a-la-Joe”. It’s such a simple recipe that I make this on weeknights after work.

My daughter requested a gluten-full version, so I made it two ways. My gluten-free version was made by using Glutino brand bread crumbs, which are mostly corn. For this recipe, I don’t love the corn, but they work really well for chicken and shrimp. Since I didn’t have time to make my own crumbs from leftover rice bread, I used the Glutino ones, which turned out well.

There is an ongoing battle between Gran Fran and Joe as to whether or not you really need to soak the fish in oil before breading it. I think Joe is for the oil, Gran Fran is against. In my book, the more olive oil flavor you can get, the better, so I do soak mine. I’ll let them weigh in here with their own opinions on the issue.

I have access to both Dover and Petrale sole out here on the West Coast. I’m not sure if there are other names for this kind of sole elsewhere in the country, but you can use this preparation for any kind of filet that is light in texture, I’ve used it on tilapia and red snapper before, too.  My daughter prefers the Petrale sole (fancy!), so that’s usually what I go with.

This will be a great post-Thanksgiving light dish to serve, to fend off all those extra calories from those turkey legs you all ate.

Breaded Sole a-la-Joe

serves 4 as a main dish


  • 2 pounds Petrale Sole (or Dover, or whatever filet you’d like to use)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (I use gluten-free for my portion)
  • Olive Oil to cover the fish in a shallow pan
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Capers, drained
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees, with a baking pan placed in the oven to heat up.
  • Place fish filets into a shallow dish and cover with Olive Oil. Set aside for ten minutes.
  • While the fish soaks, mix the mustard with the capers and some pepper.
  • Place the breadcrumbs on a board or plate and dredge the fish filets through them to coat.
  • Working quickly, remove the hot pan from the oven, take some of the fish soaking oil and coat the pan.
  • Place filets on the pan and sprinkle some salt and pepper on them.
  • Put the pan back in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, until you see the crumbs start to brown.
  • Serve with the mustard caper sauce.


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Posted in dairy free, fish, gluten free, single parent | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments