Sunday, May 1, 2016

Swapper profile: Kelly White + Fresh Cultured Cream Cheese Recipe

Name: Kelly White

Home (+ hometown swap): San Francisco, SF Swappers

Profession: Recovering attorney, budding knitwear designer, die-hard fermenter, newly-minted natural cheesemaker, and stay-at-home mom.

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago?
In the November of 2015, I was listening to an episode of the Local Mouthful podcast ( in which the hosts were discussing food swaps. I had heard of food swaps before (although I couldn't tell you where or when), but the hosts' excitement about food swaps was particularly inspiring. I remember pausing the podcast so that I could search online for a swap in San Francisco. I pretty quickly found SF Swappers, got on the mailing list, and eagerly awaited the next event so I could try it out! 

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?
I made fresh cream cheese, cultured naturally with kefir grains. It seems like cheese is always on my mind lately. Over the last seven months, my almost 5-year old son and I have been "cooking" our way through David Asher's book, The Art of NaturalCheesemaking. I have been chronicling our cheesemaking adventures (and mishaps) on my blog,, and I have been tending our aging cheeses almost daily. A couple of weeks before the swap, David Asher was in the Bay Area teaching classes and workshops. I attended his class on Blue Cheeses (through Pollinate Farm in Oakland) and during class, he mentioned that it's very easy to transform kefir-cultured crème fraîche into cream cheese. I had made cream cheese before, but only with freeze-dried cultures, and his mention was all I needed to start experimenting to find the cream cheese recipe I liked best. Homemade cream cheese is so much better than store bought, and I figured my fellow food swappers would appreciate it.

Cultured cream cheese: delicious!
What’s your favorite thing about swapping?
Preparing food at home and sharing it with your friends and family can be fun, but preparing food and trading with fellow food enthusiasts who have different culinary backgrounds is really inspiring, eye-opening, and delicious.

Who or what most influences your cooking?
Taking Harvard University's free online class, Science & Cooking, made a huge impact on my cooking. Ever since that class, I think more critically about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it when I cook anything. I also find inspiration in podcasts, like Local Mouthful and Cooking Issues, and in fermentation books including Sandor Katz's The Art of Fermentation, and Amanda Feifer's Ferment Your Vegetables. I also love hearing about new recipes, techniques, or ingredients from friends.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
My Benriner JapaneseMandolin Slicer. I have the original size, in mint green. It makes vegetable preparation a dream. I use it almost every day.

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession?
Whole Spice's CrushedUrfa Chili and Crushed Marash Chili. These spices seem to make pretty much everything taste better. 

Biggest food surprise?
People say your tastes can change and that you can learn to like things, but actually experiencing that shift really surprised me. I used to hate beets. Like really, really hate beets. They tasted like dirt to me. Ever hopeful my opinion of beets would change, I kept trying them when they'd show up on my plate at a restaurant. I continued to hate them until several years ago, when my husband and I were on vacation in New Zealand. I tried a beet there and was astounded to find that I actually liked them. Now I will eat beets pretty much anywhere or anytime, and I am a zealous advocate for continuing to try the food you didn't like yesterday.

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?
Oysters on the half-shell with a drizzle of mignonette, and a bottle of crisp white wine.

When I'm not in the kitchen I'm _________.
I'm writing, knitting, or galloping around town with my son.

Favorite local food experience:
I love the cheese counter at Rainbow Grocery. The staff is so knowledgeable and helpful, and the cheese selection (and samples) are incredible.

Recipe by Kelly:

Fresh Cultured Cream Cheese (makes about 12 ounces)

·         Clean, fine cheese cloth or butter muslin (not the loose stuff you can get at the grocery store)
·         Fine mesh strainer (for straining kefir)
·         Quart jar or other similar vessel
·         Pot or bowl for catching whey
·         Colander

·         2 cups of fresh, heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized)
·         1 cup of fresh whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized, and preferably not homogenized)
·         1 teaspoon (or so) of kefir grains OR about 2 tablespoons of homemade kefir
·         Kosher salt

Mix the cream and milk together with the kefir grains or prepared, strained kefir in a quart jar. Loosely screw on the lid of the jar or cover with a tea towl secured by a rubber band. Let the jar sit for about 24 hours at room temperature. You're basically making crème fraîche, so keep an eye on when the mixture has thickened to that consistency.

Once the cream and milk mixture has thickened, strain out the kefir grains (if you used them) and place them in fresh milk. (If you used prepared kefir, there's no need to strain anything.)

Spread the cheese cloth evenly over a colander that you have placed over a pot or bowl and pour the thickened cream and milk mixture into the cheese cloth. Knot the cheese cloth at the top and either hang it from somewhere in your kitchen with a pot or bowl below to catch the whey. Knotting the cheese cloth on a wooden spoon placed across a tall pot works. You can also just knot the cheese cloth and  leave it in the colander over a pot or bowl. Let the mixture hang for about 8 hours at room temperature, or until you have the consistency of cream cheese that you prefer. 

Sprinkle kosher salt into the cheese and mix it thoroughly. I like about a teaspoon of kosher salt for this recipe, but you can use more or less depending on your taste.  Store the cream cheese in a covered container in the refrigerator. You may notice that after your cream cheese has sat in the refrigerator for a day or more, it becomes slightly effervescent. That's totally normal.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Swapper profile: Jen Choe + Bahn Mi Carrots Recipe

Name: Jen Choe 

Home (+ hometown swap):
San Francisco, SF Swappers

By day I'm a production manager in digital publishing. By night, a fermentation enthusiast. And starting this month, I'll be spending my weekends helping CUESA produce market demos, classes, and farm tours. 

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago?
It was mid-2015 when I started using Instagram as a medium to document my grocery habit (@grocery_choe). Soon enough, I learned that others around the world that were documenting similar things as well (#groceryhaul is a thing?). I think it was the DC swappers group that got wondering if SF had one too...and we did! And here we are. 

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?
The same day of the last swap, my husband was scheduled be flying out to New York. There's nothing sadder than airplane food when you're confined for 5-hours straight, so I wanted to make something he could take with him. Veggie lox (or "mox" as Leo cleverly calls it) is savory, completely vegan, and travels well. I doubled the batch, sending him off with a jar and sleeve of crackers (an apple and a banana too, naturally...). The rest came with me to the swap. 

Recipe discovered—while trying to find a use for carrot juice pulp—from a vegan blog.

What’s your favorite thing about swapping?
For me, it's hard to ignore the fact that human interaction is increasingly being commodified in our society. You see it in examples like babysitting, staying with friends while travelling, getting a ride to the airport, sharing a homemade meal with a friend, borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor....We rarely reach out to our social circles for any of our needs anymore, because why burden our loved ones, when, "there's an app for that?" 

But what happens to the bonds with our loved ones, when we completely stop needing their support anymore? How do we make and strengthen new connections when money is slid-in between every interaction?

Rad events like food swapping help to remind us that there is this other way.

I always leave these events with a sense of connection, mutual respect and gratitude for the folks that participated. 

The delicious haul is a beautiful physical representation of that. 

Who or what most influences your cooking?
From my mother, I picked up late night cooking habits, a tendency to cook in large quantities, and her Korean recipes. The other day I found myself making 10 pounds of kimchi at 3 AM...when it dawned on me that our fridge doesn't have room for the gallon jar it ripens in!

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
The julienne peeler is a miracle worker for anyone that likes texture in their food. It saves me hours of prep time every month, especially on my beloved bahn-mi carrots.

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession?
Rose! Since discovering food grade rose petals in the bulk section at Rainbow and I've been flavoring my milk kefir with it.
I thought I knew rose, but no, not in this way... Its fragrance is pure, and simply heavenly. Rose shortbread, rose whipped cream, rose ice cream...

OH—I would be remiss to not give a shout out to homemade kefir-cultured butter. MY GOD I've never eaten so much butter in my life, but it is SO GOOD, and everyone must start making this.

Biggest food surprise?
My mind was blown when I learned that you can make almond milk in a hurry by blending 2 Tb almond butter to 12 oz water! Great for smoothies and chia pudding.

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?
Oh boy...

First course
--Dozen beausoleil oysters, lemon, dill pickle brine mignonette, with a glass of an exceptional white burgundy

Second Course
--A pile of warm, fresh tortillas from Nopalito or Gracias Madre, a generous side of cultured butter
--Fermented uni, with a glass of Japanese beer
--A bite of kobe beef filet mignon (or similar) that Leo determines is "worth it" for a vegetarian to cheat with
--Taco salad from Nick's Crispy Tacos, with both red and green house salsa bottles--full and within reach

An arrangement of fruit, in this way:
--Huge bowl of the plumpest, sweetest local strawberries, blueberries, blackberries
--Medium size bowl of the plumpest sweetest cherries (stems intact, please)
--1 perfectly ripe, good-sized cherimoya
--And on the side, 2-3 coffee cherries, a scoop of cocoa bean fruit, and a fistful of actively fermenting cocoa beans 

When I'm not in the kitchen I'm...
exploring the aisles at a local grocery store, or talking to vendors and shoppers at the farmers market.

I spend a lot of time thinking about the space between food and eater. What I mean by that is: Everybody eats...and it's the what, the how, the where, the when, and the why that I find really quite fascinating. There's so much anthropology to be gleaned from our eating habits...One day I'd love to author a historical guide to San Francisco's grocery stores.

Favorite local food experience:
I had first read about Berkeley's Cultured Pickle Shop in Sandor Katz's The Art of Fermentation. In it, he swoons over their innovative flavors of Kombucha—Buddha’s hand/mint/bee pollen, turnip, beet. Wait—TURNIP? For real? Ever since that day, I had been obsessed with the idea of turnip flavored kombucha. Months and months went you see, this kombucha is only available at the Berkeley Farmers Market, or at their shop, which is open M-F, 9-5. As a city girl, with a 9-5, without a car... satiating this thirst was not going to be easy.

My blind attempts at trying to flavor MY homemade booch with turnip were complete failures. Despite my strange obsession, my fiancé still married me. Our wedding celebrations were getting costly, so we decided to simply have a staycation honeymoon. And I bet you can guess our first stop on that honeymoon...

Yes! The first stop on our honeymoon was the Cultured Pickle Shop! Unbeknownst, but lucky for us, the weekday that we went turned out to be a quiet catch-up day for the shop. Stepping into this promised land, I was as awestruck as I'd ever been, yet Alex was very gracious, offering us glasses of fennel kombucha (FENNEL!) while she created a pickle plate for us... Long dream short--we bought a ton of stuff, I got a tour of their shop, and even a photo with Alex in front of the large glass barrels of the beverage that had seduced me so long ago...

Anyway, this isn't even the experience, guys.

My most memorable local food experience was...wait for it... 

STAGING at Cultured Pickle Shop for a day. 

For those that do not speak restaurant industry French (which, included me), a stage is an opportunity for a cook to work unpaid at another chef's kitchen to learn and be exposed to new techniques.

My incredibly thoughtful husband had set this experience up for me as a Christmas gift. Isn't that the sweetest thing? 

Recipe by Jen:


I always have a jar of banh-mi carrots in the fridge. A heaping of the quick pickles instantly add dimension to breakfasts, farm bowls, taco nights, or yes, sandwiches of the Vietnamese persuasion.

My favorite type of recipes are easy to make, requires few ingredients, and makes a lasting impact. Banh-mi carrots fulfill these criteria, and I'm happy to share with you here!

Ingredients (organic when possible):
--1 lb carrots 
--1 large daikon (apx. 2/3 lb)
--1.5 cups distilled white vinegar
--1/4 cup sugar 
--1 heaping teaspoon salt 

Wash and peel the carrots and daikon, reserving the peels for stock*.

Fine julienne all vegetables and toss in a large mixing bowl. (If you plan on making this regularly, a julienne peeler will become the best $10 you've ever spent.) 

Add vinegar, sugar and salt to a quart size mason jar, twist on the lid tightly, and shake until solids have dissolved.

Pour vinegar mixture over carrot/daikon. With clean hands, toss and turn to ensure that the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout. Pick out miscut vegetable pieces at this time.

Let stand at room temperature for a minimum of 30 minutes, turning the mix occasionally. Transfer into 2 quart size jars and refrigerate. Let pickle in the fridge for 12 hours before serving.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Swapper Profile: Sole Anatrone + Recipes for Handmade Orecchiette Pasta and Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Sole teaching a pasta-making class
Name: Sole Anatrone

Home (+ hometown swap): I live and swap in San Francisco!

Profession: I am an adjunct professor of Italian cinema, literature and Women and Gender Studies at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University.

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago? I think the first swap I attended was about 4 years ago, here in San Francisco. I think I read about it in a local food newsletter and thought, “That sounds so fun!” – because for me fun = food + people.

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?
The last thing I made for a swap was focaccia with three jars of topping: pesto, pickled eggplant, and roasted red pepper. I try to make something different for each swap. In the weeks leading up to the last swap I had been making a lot of focaccia and had been loving the summer eggplant harvest so I thought I would put something together with those items.

What’s your favorite thing about swapping? I love seeing recipes other people are testing out and being inspired by their choices. I often go home and try to recreate or transform some of the creations I tasted at the swap. The nice thing about the swap is that it is one of the few spaces left where you can talk about and eat food without being caught up in the world of commerce. I often use the swap as a testing ground, trying out new recipes and looking for feedback (pop tarts was a fun one!).

Sole and her co-chef, Chris
Who or what most influences your cooking? My cooking is very much a product of my biography. I grew up in Santa Cruz and in Italy, in my cooking that means an Italian palate with a California-hippie attention to nutrition, balance and seasonal produce. This is particularly clear in my pasta-making classes. Every couple months I lead a series of classes with my friend and co-chef Chris. Under the name “Delizia SF” we teach students how to make a variety of traditional Italian pastas and then we put a little California spin on the sauces, side dishes and antipasti. These classes bring me so much joy, we always have a wonderful time in the kitchen and the class ends with a great big group meal. We started with orecchiette, a semolina pasta my grandmother often made; most recently we made squash tortelloni in a hazelnut and sage-butter sauce. For more info contact: or find us on Facebook.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool? My black wooden spoon. It is wide and round almost flat, the wood feels good in my hand and doesn’t burn my tongue or get stained if I leave it in tomato sauce. I love it!

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession? Carrots have been particularly delicious this year. I am currently roasting a batch for a carrot-pepper soup and have been tossing them in just about everything from chile verde and ragù. Usually we think of roasted carrots as being a fall food but these late summer carrots are so sweet; a nice summer dish is to take roasted carrots and toss them with olive oil and my herbed salt (rosemary, thyme, oregano and garlic) and add them to a salad of charred corn and ricotta salata.

Biggest food surprise? Jellyfish salad. I had no idea what to expect when I tried it for the first time many years ago at little Japanese restaurant in the outer Richmond. I was blown away but how delicious and textured the dish was, not too salty and not slimy at all, just a little crunchy and deeply refreshing. I love coming across ingredients that are new to me, that is a big part of why I love to travel; last fall in Portugal my adventurous palate led me to discover amazingly delicious warm cod and chic pea salad, and a deeply disappointing candied egg yolks! Jellyfish salad was a wonderful surprise but definitely a special-occasion dish!

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be? My impulse is to list the richer, saltier items that I save for special occasions: prosciutto, raw oysters, Spanish-style clams in garlic and white wine, grilled tri-tip, tortellini in brood… But if I'm honest I would probably want something comforting (it is the end of the world after all!) so I might have a carbonara (with lots of garlic, pancetta, pecorino and peas).  

When I'm not in the kitchen I'm _________.
Teaching, reading, and thinking about food in other parts of the city.

Favorite local food experience: Chile verde from Puerto Alegre; walnut bread with burrata and mushroom-truffle honey from Beretta; and the Alemany Farmer’s Market.

Recipe by Sole:

Handmade Orcchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto

Download Sole's recipe here.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Swap recap: summertime eatin'

With our next swap coming up on October 1st, seemed high time to get up a recap post on our last July.

Not surprisingly, we had a lot of BBQ and hot sauces, a variety of things to scoop them up with, plus plenty of other summertime treats mixed in. Margarita mix, anyone?

Take your pick, BBQ 3x by Kelly

Bourbon BBQ by Stephanie

Jalapeño hot (!) sauce by Hima

Apricot Lime Margarita Mix by Kari

A trio of toppings with focaccia by Sole

Sweet-and-sour red onion jam and blueberry cinnamon shrub by Aimée

Curtido (fermented red cabbage relish) by Erin

Pickled lemons, orange confit and more by Yael

Shrimp chicken rolls by Dee

Apricot jalapeño savory jam by Erin

Apricot almond protein balls by Kari

Savory salmon & cream cheese madeleines by J.K.

Beautiful bread loaves by J.K.

Delectable truffles by Becky

Fig newtons and seed bread by Molly

Collecting bids

Cheese penny crackers by Kate

Lavender shortbread and lemon rosemary shortbread by Deanna

Fennel and other flavored salts by Yosh

Hibiscus syrup by Tina

Swappers preparing their stations

Socializin' during the potluck

Here's a what I came with vs. what I left with shot

Can't wait to do it all over again!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Swapper Profile: Diana Dinh + Quince Tarte Tatin Recipe

Home (+ hometown swap): San Francisco, CA

Profession: Connecting people and processes within the tech start-up world.

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago?
I can't even remember how I initially found out about the SF Food Swap, but seeing that I obsessively trawl the internet for food-related things, it was only a matter of time before I got reeled in. My first swap was in 2012. I made balsamic roasted strawberries and baked biscuits for samples. I remember being so awed by the thoughtful creations: vanilla kumquat compote, candy cap mushroom cookies, sugar-frosted flowers...

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?
I made two things: a savory eggplant spread and miso caramel. I've had a long-time love affair with eggplant and had recently made baba ghanoush without tahini simply because I hadn't any handy. To make up for it, I amped up the paprika. The result was so delicious that I wanted to make more of it and share. As for the miso caramel, I'm a baker at heart, so my mind tends to sway towards the sweet for food swaps. However, I wanted to make something slightly off the beaten trail, and miso pairs so well with the savory smokiness of a dark caramel. 

Savory eggplant at the March 2015 swap
What’s your favorite thing about swapping?
I really love the creative inspiration I get from going to a food swap. It's a great opportunity to use ingredients (cara cara orange mostarda, chocolate adobo...) that I wouldn't have made myself. 

Who or what most influences your cooking?
I read about food voraciously, devouring cookbooks, food history books, food politics books. But I think my cooking has been most strongly shaped by three people: my mother; my butchery/charcuterie guru, Kate; and my friend and food soul mate, Jon. Growing up, I was my mother's unknowing sous chef, washing and prepping all manner of Asian greens and cleaning cuts of meat as she turned out amazing Vietnamese dishes. I spent a month learning to butcher and make charcuterie with Kate in Gascony. In addition to getting me technically attuned to pig anatomy and my boning knife, she's taught me volumes about what it means to cook good food. Lastly, it was Jon who pulled me into the culinary milieux of San Francisco, convincing me at the tender age of twenty-one that I must invest in a KitchenAid stand mixer and food processor (of course, he was right). 

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries with Baked Biscuits
What’s your favorite kitchen tool?
My stand mixer should be a given, seeing that I bake as much as I do. I also love my chef's knife (a Global) and bench scraper (it makes even the untidiest surfaces tidy!).  

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession?
After years of riding the Californian-Italian-New American high, I'm finding my passion newly renewed in South East Asian flavors. The brightness, the pungency one finds in food from that corner of the world is unlike any other flavor profile. 

Biggest food surprise?
Spanish tapas. Without a firm foothold in the US and with an unfortunate run of uninformed eating choices as a college student in Barcelona, tapas fell vertiginously low in my eyes. In my then-quite limited experience, tapas were overly heavy: a mess of potatoes, cheese, and grease. They remained decried for nearly a decade, until I returned to Barcelona with a tapas treasure map drawn out by Jon. The ah-ha moment was reached, and not long after cemented in the celebrated pintxos bars of San Sebastian. I was so incredibly wrong about tapas. 

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?
I would begin with a Lebanese mezze spread: hummus topped with lamb and pine nuts, roasted eggplants in warmed yogurt, muhammara, kibbeh, and pomegranate roasted starlings. I would want this with nargile. Then, I would move on to a main course of Vietnamese caramel-braised pork shoulder on the tenderest white rice, with a bowl of simple greens soup on the side. For dessert, I would have quince tarte tatin with a scoop of the velvetiest vanilla ice-cream. There would be a loaf of challah throughout the whole meal.  

When I'm not in the kitchen I'm _________.
Reading at Thoroughbread and Pastry or The Mill, hiking at Mt. Tam, or perhaps biking to Ocean Beach with my husband. 

Favorite local food experience:
Two things make me indescribably happy about living and eating in San Francisco: ice-cream from Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous and the Noe Street evening farmer's market. 

Recipe by Diana: 

Quince Tarte Tatin

For the crust:

·         236 grams flour
·         3/4 T. sugar
·         3/4 t. salt
·         168 grams butter (also, 3/4 c.)
·         Ice water

1.       In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt and pulse to mix evenly
2.       Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add to flour mixture. Pulse until coarse, pebbly texture is achieved (~5-7 times)
3.       Add 3 tablespoons ice water to flour butter mixture and pulse (~10 times). Add additional ice water tablespoon by tablespoon, pulsing a few times between each addition. The dough should just come together; be careful not to add too much water or else the texture of the crust will be gluey and sticky rather than flaky and delicious. 
4.       Dump dough out onto sheet of plastic wrap, molding into an inch thick disc. Try to handle the dough as little as possible; you want to keep it nice and cold for texture. 
5.       Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes

For the tart:

·         6 medium-sized apples (I like Granny Smiths or Pink Lady’s)
·         1 1/2 sticks butter
·         1 1/2 cups sugar

·         Preheat your oven to 375F
·         Peel, core, and quarter your apples and set aside
·         In a cast-iron or other heat-proof skillet (mine is 12 inches wide), melt butter over medium-low heat
·         Take off heat and add sugar, stirring (a wooden spoon is good here) to incorporate
·         Bring the skillet back over medium heat, letting the sugar and butter melt together into a light golden brown caramel. Timing is everything here; watch for the color to turn. Wait a minute too long and you will have burnt caramel. This should take about 7-10 minutes 
·         Add the apple quarters core side up, packing the skillet as densely as you can. I like to make two concentric circles
·         Let the apples and caramel meld together, about 5-7 minutes. You should notice a slight shrinking of the apples. Now would be a good time to add any extra slices if you find yourself with more room in the skillet
·         While the apples and caramel marry, take out your pie dough and roll it out to the size of your skillet. You want it to be somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick
·         Carefully drape the pie dough over the apples, using a fork to seal any gaps between the dough and the edge of the skillet
·         Place the skillet in the center rack of the oven and bake until the crust is a lovely golden color, about 25-30 minutes
·         Immediately flip the tart out onto a dish or another appropriate serving platter, taking extra care with the hot skillet and caramel