Being in the Bay Area, San Francisco city is now just a few minutes away from me. This foodie city has a happening culinary scene hiding underneath the fog
From the hustle-bustle of the farmer’s markets in the different parts of the city, street food festivals to the trendy restaurants, I’m on an expedition, tasting the flavors of San Fran. The cuisine here seems to be a blend of Asian, Latin American and European cultures. Ingredients for almost any type of cuisine can be found locally and the Bay Area provides fine, fresh ingredients from fruits, vegetables and herbs to meats, cheeses and wines, not to forget the supply of seafood from the Pacific Ocean.
In the last couple of months, I have been exploring different parts of SF. I felt like a kid in a candy store at the Ferry Building and could go back again and again for the most amazing “Early Girl” pizza slice I had at the Arizmendi Bakery. I think these and many more such foodie places are the true essence of San Francisco.
From my unique finds at the Ferry building and also at the award-winning bakery, I’ve created a couple of simple, flavorful dishes. Try them out and enjoy a little bit of San Francisco in your own home!
Chipotle Chicken Sandwich with Cilantro-Jalapeño Aioli
After moving to California, we got a new outdoor grill and now we happily grill away all kinds of things, filling up the air around us with a wonderful smoky aroma. So with the freshly-baked bread (and a whole bunch of goodies) I got from Arizmendi Bakery, I decided to make a sandwich with a spicy chipotle grilled chicken. And sticking with a Mexican theme for the sandwich, I decided to add another spicy dimension to the overall flavor of the sandwich by smearing the bread with my cilantro-jalapeño mayo or aioli. Finally, to balance the heat and add a little sweetness, I put a couple of slices of avocado and then some of red onions.
This sandwich is now a family favorite! I’ve already made it about 10 times (seriously!) for lunch and for a few picnics. It’s perfect for a light meal, doesn’t take too much time or effort to make and travels very well. So, give it a try and I guarantee you’ll make it again….and again!
Makes 4 sandwiches
4 individual baguette/ciabatta rolls or 1 loaf of ciabatta, split (Use your favorite bread, if you’d like)
Chipotle Grilled Chicken
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (split into 4 by cutting across each of the breast pieces all the way through)
extra virgin olive oil, for brushing on the chicken breats
fresh ground black pepper
ground chipotle chile pepper
romaine lettuce (1-2 leaves per sandwich)
red onions, sliced (optional)
avocado, sliced and splashed with lime juice (3-4 slices per sandwich)
¾ cup light mayonaise
1 small jalapeño, minced (If you don’t like too much heat, discard the seeds )
5-6 sprigs of cilantro/coriander, minced
½ lime, juiced
Preheat the grill (outdoor / indoor/ grill pan).
Brush the halved (laterally sliced) chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle salt, black pepper and generous amount of ground chipotle chile pepper. Grill for about 7-8 mins on each side. Make sure not to move the chicken pieces while grilling in order to get perfectly grilled marks.
*Cover with aluminium foil and let them sit for about 5 mins before assembling on to the sandwich.
While the chicken breasts are grilling, prepare the toppings and the aioli by mixing all the ingredients for it.
Spread the aioli on the bread bottoms (and tops if you’d like). Lay the grilled chicken breast pieces on the bread bottom and top it with lettuce, onions and avocado slices.
Serve immediately or it can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.
Pasta with Tree Oyster Mushrooms and Asparagus
I’m in love the SF’s Ferry Building Marketplace! Since its not a typical touristy spot in the city, I had missed it during my prior visits as a tourist. Now, I’ve been there a few times, strolling along the marketplace, checking out some of the famous foodie hot spots of the city. This place has it all: a celebrated restaurant, an oyster bar, some hole-in-the-wall eateries, artisan bread store, a fine cheese shop, a wine shop, a fishmonger, chocolate and gelato shops, a rather unusual herb store, a couple of bakeries, coffee shops, specialty stores for cookware and tableware and the list goes on……bringing the unique flavors of SF under one roof!
While I have spent quality time in a lot of stalls in the building, my love for mushrooms made me go back again and again in a store that sells nothing but the most amazing variety of fungi. This shop, devoted to mushrooms, epitomizes the Ferry Building for me! They have everything; cultivated and wild mushrooms, a variety of truffles, salts, oils, and various books to learn about the fungal world.
With the limited variety of mushrooms that I was familiar with from the supermarkets (button/white and portobello), this store opened a new door for me, alluring me to step outside my “fungi comfort zone” and explore some new ones, like the tree oysters.
With a tub of these delicate shrooms in my hands and a concoction in my head, I went up to one of the staff member, who gave me a low down on their flavor profile and helped me envision this pasta dish, with oyster mushrooms and asparagus in a light lemon-butter sauce. The tree oysters are tender and take only a couple minutes to cook. The lemony sauce brightens up the mild flavor of the mushrooms and gets done by the time the pasta cooks.
½ lb pasta, short shaped like fusilli, penne, or your favorite kind
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter (alternatively, use another tbsp of olive oil)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1-2 sprig of thyme (optional)
1 small yellow onion, diced
½ lb tree oyster mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and sliced if using large sized (Alternatively, you can use regular white mushrooms or baby portobello mushrooms)
10-12 asparagus stems, ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch long pieces
½ cup chicken stock or use the starchy water in which the pasta is cooked
freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4-5 sprigs of flat leaf parsley, minced
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in generous amount of salt and add the pasta. Cook for about 8 to 10 mins, until tender but still firm to the bite.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the thyme, onions and garlic and cook for a couple of minute or so.
Toss in the mushrooms along with the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Continue sautéing for a couple more mins, stirring occasionally. Then add the stock or pasta water and cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have cooked down, about 3-4 mins.
Squeeze the juice out of the lemon over the pan and stir to mix it in. Drain pasta and add it into the pan. Mix well and adjust the seasonings.
Remove from the heat and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately or at room temperature.