eat in my kitchen

To cook, to bake, to eat and to treat.

Tag: San Francisco

Meet In Your Kitchen | Nik Sharma’s Goan Coconut Curry

Nik Sharma

Spices, aromas, and flavors, and a great portion of tradition paired with curiosity create an exciting mix in Nik Sharma’s kitchen. Two worlds woven into his life feed the man’s inexhaustible creativity: India and the USA. The first country marks his roots, the land where he was born and raised, the latter represents his life since he was 19 and decided to leave the known behind and start an adventure that lasts till today.

Nik established a renowned food blog over the past few years, standing out from the start, visually and culinarily. A Brown Table  is loved for its eclectic recipes and stunning pictures. As a cook, Nik makes you hungry, as a photographer, he creates a unique mood that is captivating, appealing in a way that you want to frame his photograph and hang it on the wall and at the same time go straight to your kitchen and cook and eat the dish. He won Best Photo Based Culinary Blog awarded by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) two years in a row, quite an astonishing career for someone who only grabbed the camera professionally in his mid twenties.

The fact that his dad was a successful photographer in advertising might have influenced the young man’s feel for light and compositions, but Nik says there wasn’t that much of an exchange about his work between father and son, he only learned how to use a camera after he left home. But despite his parents’ warnings – they told him not to follow their footsteps – the photographer, blogger, and soon to be cookbook author did what many kids do: he did it anyway. His mother worked in hotel and restaurant management, she didn’t like cooking, but she had a huge folder full of recipes collected from newspapers and magazines. Nik was fascinated by the world of cooking and baking at an early age, he loved spending hours reading through Indian and western creations, he joined the family’s cook in the kitchen, and eagerly followed his maternal grandmother’s culinary activities. Her Goan heritage is still very present in many of his own recipes.

Reading the titles of Nik Sharma’s recipes makes your mouth water, you can literarily smell the warm aroma of cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, and rosewater filling the kitchen: Imagine Masala Chai Pumpkin Cake, Khasta Kachori (Edamame-stuffed Fried Indian Bread), Honey Sage Turmeric Wings, Goan Coconut Cake, Cherry Black Pepper Cake, or his Toasted Pistachio Cake with Blood Orange Sauce. The recipe he shares with us for our Meet In Your Kitchen feature is a vibrant explosion framed in comfort food: Goan coconut curry with tender game hen and aromatic spiced rice.

The cook’s approach to food is scientific, Nik has an analytic mind and way to think about dishes, but at the same time he looks at things from a “feminine standpoint”, he likes curves and his styling reflects that. “I always think of ballet dancers when I shoot, I envision the dish being a solo dance performer on stage, the light’s only focused on the dance and everything else is dark. I always think of dance and curves, I find them very sensual, I find straight lines and diagonals a little harsh. Even if I do introduce them in my composition, you’ll see that there’s a circle cutting through, like a tangent. Again, I bring math into it because I’m a geneticist by training”.

You can be a gourmet, an aesthete, and share the beauty of life, but if you’re a critical mind, you know that there’s always more to talk about at the table: You can often see Nik’s hands in his photographs, to show the technique of a recipe, the preparation and instructions, but also to showcase that there are people from different backgrounds, that there is diversity behind the scenes of a restaurant. Nik says “We don’t really see them because they are never brought to the front”. There’s an imbalance in our society, a hierarchy in the way who works in the front or the back of a restaurant, and in the way people are paid and it’s our responsibility to talk about this imbalance and solve it.

Every Sunday you can find one of Nik’s beautiful recipes in his A Brown Kitchen column printed in the San Francisco Chronicle (if you don’t happen to live in the Bay area you can also grab some inspiration online on the newspaper’s website) and on October 2nd, 2018, his first cookbook Season will come out. Reflecting Nik’s unique style, the book combines the author’s roots and fascination for flavors with his journey as an immigrant in the US who lived in different states and experienced the culinary heritage from people coming to this country from all over the world.

And if you also want to eat in Nik’s kitchen, check out his supper club!

In the next months, I’ll share many new Meet In Your Kitchen features with you that took me to California, Italy, France, and Japan. Thanks to Zwilling for sponsoring these features for our culinary trip around the world! Thank you, my man James Hickey, for joining me on these adventures and helping me take pictures!

Nik Sharma

 

Nik Sharma

Nik Sharma’s Goan Coconut Curry

Serves 4

2 medium red onions, peeled
2 cups grated coconut (unsweetened)
1 cup (240ml) boiling water
1 inch-piece (2.5cm) peeled ginger root
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
8 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
6 cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
2 whole garlic pods
2 Cornish game hens, patted dry
Kosher salt as needed
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
Boiled rice or bread (to serve)

Cut one onion into thin slices and keep aside until ready to use. Take the second onion and cut it into quarters.

Place coconut, water, ginger, turmeric, peppercorns, cayenne, cloves, cinnamon, and the quartered onion in a blender and pulse on high speed until smooth and combined.

Melt the ghee in a medium-Dutch oven (or a heavy pot) on medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and sauté until golden brown for about 8 to 12 minutes. Peel any extra paper off the garlic pods and trim about ½ inch (1 cm) off the top to expose the garlic. Add the trimmed garlic pods to the onion and cook for about 1 minute. Then add the ground coconut spice mixture into the pan and cook stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Place the two Cornish game hens in the pan snuggly and fill the pan with enough water to just cover the two birds. Increase the heat to high and bring the contents of the pan to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the birds are completely cooked and tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Garnish with the chopped cilantro leaves and serve hot with rice or bread.

Nik Sharma

 

NikSharma11

 

Watch my interview with Nik in San Fransisco in September 2017:

 

 

Thank you, Nik!

 

Nik Sharma

 

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Nik Sharma

 

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Nik Sharma

 

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Nik Sharma

 

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Nik Sharma

 

Nik Sharma

Meet In Your Kitchen | David Kurtz & the best Cubano Sandwich in San Francisco

David Kurtz

A food loving friend of mine who lives in San Francisco told me, if you come to California, you must (!) meet David Kurtz and visit his Homage restaurant in Downtown. I trust my friends, especially when it comes to food, so I emailed David that same evening, not only receiving an answer that he was looking forward to cooking with me, but also to showing me around his hometown and spending a day together to give me an insight into his charismatic city that has so many faces.

The first thing that people think of when it comes to San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge and – if you talk to bread obsessed foodies and Instagrammers – the famous Tartine Bakery. The bakery is a temple for baked goods that one shouldn’t miss, the bridge, however, is a moody diva that is hard to catch. San Francisco is a place of extremes when it comes to the weather, a fact that I had totally forgotten about and wasn’t really prepared for. You can be spoilt with blue skies, sunshine, and summery temperatures in one second, then walk two blocks and be swallowed by mist and end up shivering in the cold. It was a bright afternoon as we drove to the famous bridge, impatient excitement in our faces ready to capture its majestic elegance, yet to find ourselves fighting against thunder and rain as we arrived was sobering. Needless to say there was no bridge in sight, but seeing the clouds climbing the hills behind the bridge and filling the bay with darkness and lightning faster than one can run was just as impressive.

David Kurtz

The day we met David offered this exact spectrum of experiences, in food, weather, and sceneries. We started at the chef’s wonderfully relaxed, casual, yet elegant Homage restaurant, a culinary gem tucked in a little side road surrounded by high office buildings. It’s a tranquil oasis in the center of the vibrating buzz of this city. Sitting outside at one of the bistro tables, with a glass of Californian wine in my hand and a scrumptiously dripping sandwich on a chopping board right in front of me, was one of the best memories that I took home with me from this trip. This sandwich, the Cubano, is truly addictive and so famous that, according to David, it would cause a riot if he ever dared to take it off the menu. Imagine the best homemade baguette brushed and grilled in tasty pork fat (homemade lard), filled with succulent anise braised pork shoulder, hot smoked ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, dill pickles, and even more pork fat. It’s the best sandwich I ever had in my life.

But before I could take a big bite of this unforgettably delicious lunch snack, David and I met two days before to prepare the dough for the bread in his kitchen and give it time to rise and rest. It was a Saturday morning and David and his lovely assisting, coordinating, and always helping ‘right hand’ Anja welcomed me and my film crew at Homage. David has the kind of voice and aura that calms you down immediately, whatever instructions he gave, I gladly obeyed and followed, enjoying to learn how to make the restaurant’s beautiful baguettes and also being introduced to David and Anja’s friends and suppliers at the utterly stunning Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. The market is their weekly shopping date, it’s a mecca for fresh produce. I’ve seen quite a few markets in my life, but this one is impressive, not only due to its setting right at the bay, but first and foremost because of the freshness and variety of the produce that the farmers offer at their stands:

Tomatoes kissed by the sun in all shapes, sizes, and colors; a sea of polished peppers; fragrant bundles of cilantro, basil, bay leaves, mint, and purslane; farmers’ stands specialized in beans (like Romano and Cranberry Beans), or figs, 8 or 10 different kinds of figs gently laid out in baskets, or a stand putting the spotlight on plums, peaches, and nectarines, run by a woman with the sweetest smile, Aomboon Deasy. Each person, each stand at the market focuses on the prettiest crisp fruits and vegetables, celebrating its taste and beauty. One stand in particular left me in an awe: piles of Baby Curly Kale, Red Russian and Dino Kale, green and red dandelion, each leaf packed with so much pungent flavor that you want to nibble them straight out of the baskets (which we did).

I found the perfect partner for my market visit, David and I love food so much so that when Anja gave me a beautiful flower bouquet at the market, both David and I started eating the petals. Like I said, when he tells me in his trustful voice “Meike, you can eat this”, I’ll eat it! But apart from flowers and greens, I also tried the crunchiest spicy kimchi, candy-sweet September strawberries (a luxury for a German girl who’s used to a rather short season of this fruit in her own country), ripe dates right off the vine, and the Rebel Within, a savory muffin filled with a soft boiled egg, sausage, Asiago cheese, and spring onions. It was heaven.

David Kurtz

After the ‘hard work’ at the market and in the kitchen, we spoilt ourselves with a little feast at Nopalito, David’s favorite Mexican restaurant. They cook delicious organic classics, like ceviche verde, enchiladas de mole con pollo (shredded tender chicken in a deep rich chocolaty sauce), and grilled fish tacos, all washed down with Michelada, Mexican beer with tomato, jalapeno, orange, lime, and salt – which was quite an experience. And after the meal we went for a walk at Golden Gate Park, where we were supposed to forage for forest snacks that one can find in a city if you keep your eyes open, but we chatted the time away. Wrapped in dense mist hanging heavily in the air, I was amazed by the beauty of the ever changing weather and the surprising scenes that it causes, and by David’s philosophy and thoughts about the food that he celebrates at his restaurant.

Homage is a very, very special place that I’ll always go back to when I’m in San Francisco, because of David and Anja, because of the food that’s created and put together by the chef and his team with so much love and attention to detail in every single ingredient, because of this warm atmosphere that welcomes you as soon as you open the heavy door flanked by the restaurant’s black facade, an atmosphere that makes you never want to leave again. And if you want to take a piece of it with you, you can grab a jar of the homemade pickles, jams, or a bottle of the wines and beers brought to Homage by David’s friends, a bunch of people who find satisfaction in creating products of outstanding quality, just like David. And thanks to them we enjoy treats that taste so good – maybe because of the last ingredient that David listed in the recipe for his Cubano sandwich that he gave me: Love.

In the next months, I’ll share many new Meet In Your Kitchen features with you that took me to California, Italy, France, and Japan. Thanks to Zwilling for sponsoring these features for our culinary trip around the world! Thank you, my man James Hickey,  for joining me on these adventures and helping me take pictures!

David Kurtz

David Kurtz’ Baguette and Cubano Sandwich

David mills the grains for the flour that he uses for this recipe himself, however you can also use store-bought flour. It’s recommended to work with grams instead of cups, as it’s important to use precise measurements for this recipe.

For the baguette

Makes 3 baguettes

519g water (lukewarm)
30g honey
23g SAF instant yeast
875g all purpose flour
60g fresh whole wheat flour
Or if available
23g hard red wheat flour
23g soft white wheat flour
14g rye flour

157g good quality lard (cold)
20g sea salt

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, using a fork, combine the water, honey and yeast, let it sit for a couple minutes.

In a large bowl, combine all the flours, add to the yeast mixture and, using the hook, mix for a few minutes or until well combined. Add the lard and, using the hook, continue kneading for a few minutes or until the dough has come together. Add a little more flour if it’s too sticky or, if it’s too firm, add a little (!) more water. Add the salt and continue kneading until well combined and firm. Form a ball, place in a clean bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough sit in a warm place for 1 hour. Turn the dough completely over releasing built up CO2 and let rise again for another hour, covered with a damp towel.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Punch the dough down, take it out of the bowl, and divide equally into 3 pieces. Roll into smooth balls and let bench rest for 10 minutes under a damp cloth. When fully rested, take one piece of dough and stretch and pull it into a longish rectangular shape (about 14×5.5″ / 35x14cm). Carefully flip 1 long side over until it reaches the middle of the rectangle, mind that no air is trapped in the fold. Then flip the opposite long side over, so that you end up with 3 layers of dough folded on top of each other. Using your fingers, pinch the fold all the way to seal well. Gently roll the dough into a long, thin sausage shape, then carefully, but quickly transfer to the lined baking sheet (the pinched fold should be on the bottom side). Continue forming the remaining 2 baguettes and transfer to the lined baking sheet. Cover with a damp kitchen towel, transfer the baking sheet to the fridge, and let the baguettes rest in the fridge overnight, further developing flavor and retarding the yeast activity.

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C (convection setting). Take the baguettes out of the fridge when the oven is hot and ready.

Spray the baguettes with a little water and bake for 6-12 minutes or until the crust is golden, spraying them with water once or twice while baking. Internal temperature of the bread should be 210°F / 100°C when fully baked.

For the Cubano sandwich

Makes 1 sandwich

1 large piece of fresh baguette, cut in half
Dijon mustard
Whole grain mustard
2-3 thin slices hot smoked ham
1.5 ounces / 40g Swiss cheese (one that melts well), thinly sliced
2-3 anise pickled spring onions (or fresh spring onion), thinly sliced
2-3 dill pickles (gherkins), cut in half
5-7 ounces/ 150-200g braised pork shoulder (preferably cooked with anise and citrus), pulled or shredded
Good quality lard (pork fat)
Love, most importantly

Heat two heavy pans, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat.

Spread the inside of the baguette with Dijon and whole grain mustard. Lay the ham on the bottom and topside of the opened baguette. Arrange the cheese, spring onions, and pickles on top of the ham. Spread the braised pork shoulder on top and close the baguette. Brush one pre heated pan with fresh lard, carefully place the Cubano onto the pan’s surface and brush more lard onto the top of the baguette. Squeeze, or press the Cubano with the other preheated pan directly on top of the sandwich. Cook in the pan, on medium heat, turning once, for a few minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust of the bread is golden brown and crunchy.

Prepare with love and serve immediately with a large sliced pickle.

David Kurtz

 

David Kurtz

 

Watch my interview with David in San Francisco in September 2017:

Thank you, David!

 

David Kurtz

 

David Kurtz

 

David Kurtz

 

David Kurtz

 

David Kurtz

 

David Kurtz

 

David Kurtz

 

David Kurtz

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