Herb and Eatery

A few of us lucky food bloggers got a chance last weekend to visit Brian Malarkey’s newest venture, Herb & Eatery – an extension, really, of his award-winning restaurant Herb & Wood.

Herb & Eatery is the front of the store and the Herb & Wood dining room is in the back.

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Herb & Wood has already won a ton of accolades for being the most stylish and sexy new restaurant in town- and now with Herb & Eatery, you can take all of the goodness home with you.

Jars of goodness at Herb & Eatery

Jars of goodness at Herb & Eatery

Herb & Eatery essentially has all of the goodies that make chefs (and humble food bloggers) swoon. Brian Malarkey gave us a sweet tour of the chef’s shop and restaurant before filling us with food.

Brian Malarkey

Almost everything is made in-house. You like the tapenade or the salsa that was part of your (award-winning) dinner at Herb & Wood? Come next door and you can buy a jar of it to take home.

Want some fresh herbs, fresh-baked croissants, imported cheeses, frozen ice cream cookie sandwiches, or even the designer flatware you used? It’s all for sale next door.

View of the pastries from the second floor

View of the pastries from the second floor

Herb & Wood was the first phase of this project; and this awesome shop is phase two. They have already expanded the upstairs area into a lounge for private gatherings; and the adjacent space into an art gallery and private event room.

Art on display in the private event space next door to Herb & Eatery

Art on display in the private event space next door to Herb & Eatery

In addition to a drool-worthy “chef’s shop,” a host of housemade pastries are available, every one of them made around-the-clock by pastry chef extraordinaire Adrian Mendoza.

pastries and kombucha

And don’t forget the house-made kombucha.

pastries

Speaking of croissants, YOU WANT THESE CROISSANTS.

They are made fresh daily (and sell out really fast) with tons of specialty imported butter and they are said to rival the best Parisian café. We enjoyed them plain, stuffed with chocolate, stuffed with meat and cheese, and made into these lovely breakfast sandwiches.

This is the Maple Croissant: filled with maple pork sausage, a fried egg, gruyere cheese, arugula and aioli.

croissant

We also got to sample a few of the baked eggs dishes: Brian was very exited about these … they take a loaf (bread) pan and fill it with scrambled eggs and potato, then bake it, slice it, and cover each slice in one of five different topping combinations.

This is the one with mushrooms, Humboldt goat cheese, herbs, kale, and crème fraiche. It was heavenly.

mushroom baked eggs

And this is the baked egg with tomato, capers, olives, basil pesto and lemon zest:

baked egg with tomato

We weren’t even close to being finished. Next we got to sample a few of the items from the All Day Menu (breakfast is only served from 8-11 a.m.).

One of my favorites was the poke & avocado salad, with kimchi, cilantro, housemade ponzu and mixed greens:

poke

… but I also loved the smoked curry chicken and cashews salad with kale and cilantro.

curry chicken salad

We also sampled some of their amazing sandwiches, like the banh mi with chicken sausage, papaya, and chicken liver pate:

banh mi

… as well as the amazing tuna melt with olive oil-poached albacore tuna, preserved lemons, herbs, capers and white cheddar cheese.

tuna melt

As if that wasn’t enough carbs to put us all into respective food comas, we also got a sample of two of Brian Malarkey’s favorite appetizers: a Marin triple cream brie with seasonal mustard and jelly:

brie

…  plus these beautiful sugar cane Thai chicken skewers:

thai sugar cane chicken skewers

And really amazing root fries with homemade smoked French dressing and yusu aioli:

root fries

Aaaand ice cream cookies …

ice cream cookies

The ice cream cookie flavor blends were perfect: they have chocolate chip cookies with mint chocolate chip ice cream; cranberry oatmeal cookies with vanilla bean (my favorite) and peanut butter cookies with banana ice cream.

I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise given the amazing reputation that Malarkey enjoys in this town, but LITERALLY everything they have is amazingly delicious.

This isn’t one of those places where you might drop in for a breakfast pastry because they have a good baker, but not come for lunch or dinner because other items aren’t as good.  Here, everything is good. You can tell that the chefs and employees there take food quality seriously and want you to experience the best. I’ll definitely be back!

Easy sourdough bread

Sourdough is one of my favorite types of bread ever, and I can’t believe it’s so easy!

If you don’t have your own sourdough starter, you can find instructions on how to make one here. But I got mine from a lady giving it away in a Facebook group post; and if you know anyone who makes their own bread, chances are very good that they have a sourdough starter to share with you.

It’s very simple: you start with this 8-oz jar of bubbly liquid. You can store it in the refrigerator, and once a week, you take it out and empty out half (4 oz.).

You can use this to give to a friend so they have starter, or you can use it for baking bread or a myriad of other sourdough things: muffins, biscuits, crackers, pizza dough, bread, English muffins, even sweet breads and muffins like blueberry or banana. Then you add 4 oz. of water and 4 oz. flour, and mix well. Now you have starter for next week.

sourdough starter

By the way, you can also keep your starter at room temperature and discard/feed it every day, but who has time for that?! That method is for people who have the time to bake a loaf of bread every day.

Here is a simple, quick bread baking method (no, really, this IS quick, most sourdough bread recipes require at least 12-24 hours for proofing and rising). You can make this in one evening after work or weekend morning/afternoon.

Easy Sourdough Bread

  • 4 3/4 cups bread flour*
  • 3 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (0.25 oz.)
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 2 tbsp. softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. water

First, combine 1 cup of the flour with the salt, sugar and yeast, and mix well. Add the wet ingredients (sourdough starter, milk and butter) and once fully incorporated, slowly add the rest of the flour.

Turn dough out onto a flour-covered surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, then put it back into the mixing bowl (add a little oil first to prevent sticking). Cover and let the dough rise for about 1 hour.

After about an hour, punch down the dough and form into loaves (you can use traditional rectangular bread loaf pans, or form the dough into a ball and bake it in a round cake or pie pan). Let rise another hour.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, then sprinkle the egg wash (a large egg scrambled with 1 tbsp. water) on top of each loaf. Then bake another 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

sourdough bread

*Tip: You can totally use all-purpose flour for this recipe, and it will make a fine loaf of bread. But bread flour is much finer and softer, and will lead to a softer and better piece of bread.

There’s a great post to read about bread makers here.

Need more tips for your starter? Check out these tips and tricks on the King Arthur Flour blog.

Homemade Bacon – nitrate- and hassle-free

It seems weird, but homemade bacon is one of the easiest recipes I know – and now it’s one of my favorites.

Part of it is because I have a great smoker: it’s a Masterbuilt M7P, and it grills, smokes (both with charcoal or with propane), and has a few other attachments to allow for steaming, boiling, frying, and even campfire cooking.


But I digress. Point is, you need a smoker. You can get a good one for the same price you paid for that fancy grill you have in your backyard right now, and this can grill or smoke.

Once you have the equipment, the ingredients are relatively easy. For unflavored bacon, you only need a pork belly, kosher salt and brown sugar. If you want to flavor it, it’s pretty simple to do so. I’ll explain that later.

Pork bellies may or may not be hard to find: I live in San Diego, and after messing around the first few times I made bacon with going to a commissary (you need a friend in the military to take you shopping for that to work) and going to a fancy butcher shop (waaaay to expensive), I settled on buying my pork bellies from a local Korean grocery store. They are quite cheap ($5-$7 for about a pound and a half), and the bellies are already helpfully trimmed into lovely little blocks, just waiting to be cured and smoked.

Step 1: Once you get the belly home, place it in a large (gallon size) freezer bag, and add one cup brown sugar and two cups kosher salt. [Note: if this doesn’t coat your pork belly completely, add more of both sugar and salt, just make sure there is twice the amount of salt to sugar.] Make sure the salt and sugar is both completely mixed and completely coating the meat. Refrigerate.

Depending on the size of your pork belly, this curing process will take between 2-7 days (7 is for a really huge, dense piece of meat – most pork bellies will take between 3-5 days.) You will be able to tell the belly is cured when the freezer bag has liquid in the bottom and the meat is hard to the touch.

Step 2: Remove the meat and rinse the salt and sugar off, and put it on a clean plate.

Now is where you add flavoring if you desire; I recommend either coating the belly with cracked peppercorns, (real!) maple syrup, or even sriracha for a spicy bacon.


Step 3: Place the belly, on the plate, flavored if you like, with no cover or wrap, in your refrigerator. This will cause an invisible film to develop on the meat, which will act like a magnet for the smoke when you smoke the meat. Leave it this way for at least 12 hours (preferably overnight).

Remember you will need to soak your wood chips for smoking, too, so this would be a good time to put them on to soak!

hickory chips for smoking

The next day, remove from the refrigerator and let sit for about 20 minutes (just to bring it to room temperature) before smoking.

Step 4: Smoke it! Keep your smoker’s temperature between 200-300, and depending on the size and thickness of the meat, the smoking will take between 4-7 hours. 

Make sure you use a digital meat thermometer, or otherwise keep an eye on the internal temperature of your bacon. Once it reaches an internal temperature of 160, it’s ready, but feel free to smoke it longer to increase the wood-smoke flavor.

meat thermometer

Save or pin this recipe card for easy use!

Bacon recipe card

 

Barbacoa Bao Bun Tacos with Avocado-Pineapple Slaw

This is a great recipe to impress a crowd at your next party or impromptu gathering. It uses a Taiwanese-style bun with pre-cooked Mexican-style slow-cooked beef, and the slaw — which is more like a salsa when it’s ready — makes it a perfectly rounded snack or appetizer.

Barbacoa is traditionally made with slow-cooked beef head, and although the name and the low-and-slow style might make some Americans think of BBQ beef or pulled beef, the taste of Barbacoa is more akin to a slow-cooked beef stew with vegetables. The pre-cooked barbacoa from Del Real Foods (which is perfect for a quick snack like this) has great flavor but no spicy heat, but you can spice up the final version of your tacos later.

bao buns

A note about the bao buns: These are available in the frozen section of most Asian markets (like H Mart or 99 Ranch). Sometimes they are called Gwa Pao or Gwa Bao — or my personal favorite, “Taiwanese Hamburger Bun.”

For most brands, like the one I purchased, they are already fully cooked and split in half, and are prepared by simply removing them from the package and microwaving them for about 45 seconds. You can also just let them thaw out for about 20 minutes.

tacos

Barbacoa Bao Bun Tacos with Avocado-Pineapple Slaw

(Makes 10 small tacos)

  • 1 package (10 buns) of frozen Bao buns
  • 1 package fully cooked Del Real Foods Barbacoa
  • about 2 cups chopped green cabbage (approx. 1/2 of a small cabbage head)
  • 1 20-oz. can sliced pineapple with juice
  • 2 large, ripe avocados
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)

First, prepare the slaw, which is sort of a fresh variation on curtido. Chop half of the onion (leave the other half for garnish), and 1 1/2 avocados (save half of one for garnish, too).

Then chop the pineapple slices and place the chopped onion, cabbage, avocado and pineapple in a large mixing bowl. Add the pineapple juice from the can, plus the vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano.

salsa ingredients

If you’re going to add the jalapeno, dice it and add it now. If you’re serving a crowd with varying tastes, it might be best to cut the jalapeno into larger slices and add it as a garnish when you assemble the tacos, so people who don’t like the extra heat can just remove the pepper.

spicy

Blend all of the slaw ingredients thoroughly (use a food processor or a vegetable chopper) and set aside. You can prepare the slaw up to three hours ahead of time — just not too much longer, or else your avocados might color a little.

This last step of blending the slaw in your food processor might not seem worth it, but trust me, it is. This way the bits of pineapple, onion, avocado and cabbage will adhere to the meat and the bun, instead of falling out.

slaw1

Put the barbacoa in a saucepan over high heat and let cook briskly for about 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and evaporated. Be sure to break up any big chunks of meat.

after

This will concentrate the flavor as well as giving the meat a nice sauce for your tacos.

Prepare the bao buns last — check the package, but more than likely, they are ready in the microwave in less than a minute, so obviously they need to be ready last.

barbacoa bun

Fill each bun with meat first, then add the slaw, cotija cheese and other jalapeno, onion or avocado.

closeup

Serve immediately.

with a beer

Crazee Burger’s movin’ on up to a new location

I was lucky enough this week to be among the first to experience Crazee Burger at their new digs, at the intersection of 30th and Lincoln in North Park — the new location just had it’s “soft” opening on June 17.

I have to admit that I came late to the party — I never visited the old location, and the only time I ever had Crazee Burger previously was at the Mission Valley Craft Beer and Food Festival in April. My boyfriend and I took complete advantage of the “unlimited” tastings and had — let’s say, more than one — of the Kobe beef, wild boar and buffalo sliders.

They were awesome.

MV samples

One of my favorite things about Crazee Burger — come on, everyone loves the fact that you can eat things like elk, camel, kangaroo and ostrich, in addition to their many specialty beef burgers — is their sauces. The sliders we enjoyed at the festival were topped with creamy horseradish and chipotle, and their many specialty burgers are topped with inventive sauces perfect for pairing with rare meats.

sauce

For example, their Gator burger is topped with a curry fruit tapenade, their duck burger features a white wine/hoisin reduction, and the turkey burger is served with an orange marmalade glaze. The Cajun burger I enjoyed (which has a spicy blackened beef patty and sauteed onions) is topped with a delicious – but spicy! – smoked chili sauce.

Cajun burger

If “exotic” elk, duck, buffalo and ostrich isn’t your bag, you can choose from a huge number of specialty burgers, all made with top-notch organic beef. I basically need to find an excuse to come back here at least 10 more times to experience all of these.

beef options

The Chubby Charlie especially has me drooling … especially if you follow Crazee Burger’s Instagram feed. And the El Jacobo? I love chorizo. The Texas?! I love BBQ sauce.

And the cheeses … so many cheeses.

So if you’re craving the perfect burger for whatever mood you’re in, head down to visit the new location at 30th and Lincoln. In addition to a bigger, and by all accounts, better spot, the new menus will have duck burgers and elk burgers.

Be sure to let me know in the comments or on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) about your favorite Crazee Burger burger. Happy eating!