Just in time for BBQ Season


Local cookbook author Dina Guillen has a great new cookbook out that’s perfect for your al fresco dining plans, Plank Grilling: 75 Recipes for Infusing Food with Flavor Using Wood Planks.

PlankGrilling Cover

We interviewed Dina when her first cookbook came out, so when Plank Grilling came across my desk, I couldn’t wait to try some of the recipes. Dina’s recipe for Beet Hummus (below) is one of her favorites.

If you’d like to taste some of these delicious recipes, get an autographed copy of her cookbook AND do some good, her book launch is scheduled for April 6 at Mulvaney’s from 6-9 PM, an event that will also benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Beet Hummus

Beet Hummus
Plank preference: Cedar
Makes 2 cups

3 small beets (about 1 pound), trimmed and peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 (15.5-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, or 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts, for garnish (optional)

Soak the plank for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Cut the beets in half and toss with the oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper.

Prepare the plank for grilling according to the instructions on page 12. Place the beets, cut side down, on the toasted side of the plank. Close the lid and grill for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, roughly chop them and place them in the bowl of a food processor.

Add the garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the food processor. Blend until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds. Garnish with the parsley or pine nuts.

(c)2014 By Dina Guillen. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Plank Grilling: 75 Recipes for Infusing Food with Flavor Using Wood Planks by permission of Sasquatch Books.

Photography by Rina Jordan



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Kim cookies sacfoodies

I love to bake, so a few years back, my thoughtful husband bought me the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook which I was excited to dive into. However, I was immediately intimidated. The measurements were in grams, it included ingredients like glucose and freeze-dried corn powder, and there were multiple recipes within recipes (often a turn off for me). Christina Tosi is a baking genius. I am no Christina Tosi. So there the book sat, collecting dust.

But this weekend I conquered my fear and opened the book again and decided to tackle my first recipe from this very cool book. I landed on Compost Cookies which are sometimes referred to as Garbage Cookies. What I liked about this recipe is that I was able to make some subtle swaps (like corn syrup for glucose) as well as add in other fun treats (like M&M’s).

I’m so glad I set my fears aside, because I learned a few new techniques that I look forward to putting into practice with other cookie recipes. Plus, they were delicious.



2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup candy-coated chocolate candies
1/3 old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 teaspoons ground coffee
2 cups kettle-style potato chips
1 cup mini pretzels


Combine the butter, sugars and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, candies, oats, and coffee and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and mix until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or break too many pretzels or potato chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature – they will not bake properly.

Heat the oven to 375°F.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that is not the case.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer they will keep for 1 month.

Recipe adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar, Christina Tosi, Clarkson Potter, 2011

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Salted Caramel Corn


Everyone has that go-to recipe. It’s that recipe you know by heart and you always have the ingredients stocked in your pantry. It’s a sure bet, the crowd pleaser and it never goes out of style. You always get compliments on it, to which you reply casually, “What? This little thing? T’was nothing, really!” (Okay, maybe you don’t use the word “t’was”.) Your friends call it your signature dish. You call it your secret recipe.
Salted Caramel CornBut some secrets are not meant to be kept – especially when it involves buttery caramel and flakes of crunchy salt.

And so I share with you my secret dish, my ace-up-the-sleeve when I need to create something I know no one will be able to resist – salted caramel corn.

Baked in the oven with a homemade caramel sauce, it has all the elements you want in a dessert – the buttery sweetness of the caramel, the crunchiness of the popcorn and of course the saltiness that makes this irresistible.  It’s so good, you will be lucky if it sticks around for more than 24 hours. It never does in my household!

Salted Caramel Corn

5 quarts popped popcorn
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
½ cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
Flake salt or Himalayan salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Pour popcorn into large baking pan and set aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt over medium heat. Melt until combined and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in baking soda until the mixture gets fluffy. Immediately pour mixture onto popcorn and mix to coat evenly. Bake for 1 hour at 250 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes. Immediately transfer to wax or parchment paper, sprinkle with salt and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.


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Now Open: Strings Urban Kitchen

By: Jake Ferguson and Amanda Frew

SUK Collage 1

The Sacramento food scene is a buzz with new restaurants and we were thrilled to find out that one of the newest eateries to open in town is right in our backyard. Strings Urban Kitchen, also known as SUK, now open at Capitol Towers (O and 7th), is dishing up delicious flavors for both lunch and dinner brought to life by the folks from Strings Italian Kitchen.

We were recently invited to enjoy a delicious 3-course meal that showcased the options available at SUK. We were pleased by the welcoming atmosphere, revamped interior and hospitality we received from the staff and owner Michael Gelber. 

Upon our arrival, we were greeted with a glass of Prosecco (who doesn’t love that) and received a full tour of the tastefully designed décor and offerings, which included an expansive wine selection and display, state of the art soda dispenser and a private dining area that is perfect for an occasion-based dinner or work lunch.


The evening featured a custom menu made up of some of the signature dishes offered at SUK. Here are our thoughts on the various dishes:
Read more »

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Food as Art: Paris Edition


Glorious Fruit (2)

From one of the SacFoodies’ travel files – Paris 2012 — this fruit platter in a 16th century Chateau makes us all hungry to hit the road. We’d love to know, where’s a place you’ve experienced food so gorgeous it could live on as a piece of art?

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Dad’s Sandwiches, Sacramento


You all know that we SacFoodies are suckers for great sandwiches. And lucky for us, there sure are some great sandwiches in and around Sacramento. Still, it never ceases to amaze me when there is a sandwich spot that I haven’t yet tried.

Dad's Photo Collage

Enter Dad’s Sandwiches, with two Sactown locations – on J Street and on S Street – and just as the name suggests, sandwiches are their sole focus. I decided to skip on over to the S Street location a few weeks ago. Upon reviewing the mouthwatering options on their giant chalk menu board, I decided to go with their veggie option – The Green Machine – but, with a twist.

What could make a sandwich smothered with garlic spread, brown mustard and Pepper Plant Sauce, then layered with cream cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, wax peppers and olives even better? You guessed it. I had them add bacon.

Whoever “Dad” is, he sure knows his sandwiches. Thanks for a great lunch.

Dad’s Sandwiches on J
1004 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 446 -7456

Dad’s Sandwiches on S
1310 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 448-3237

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Crawdads on the River


Crawdads Collage

With warm whispers of spring and not-so-distant summer in the air, enjoying an evening along the river with a cocktail in hand doesn’t sound too bad.

Word on the street is Crawdads on the River has been newly remodeled and re-opened on March 14, promising tasty creations by executive Chef Adam Pechal of Restaurant Th13teen and Tuli Bistro. Crawdads’ innovative menu boasts flavorful dishes such as Mai Tai Chicken with Pineapple Rum Sweet & Sour Sauce, New Orleans inspired Crawfish Étouffée, and classic river cocktails with a few new twists. 

So if you’re in the mood for expertly prepared seafood and delicious cocktails, make your way to the Riverbank Marina and enjoy an afternoon or evening meal on the water.

Crawdads on the River
1375 Garden Hwy
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 929-2268

Sun – Thurs, 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Fri – Sat, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.


Warm Orzo Salad


It’s officially spring which means it’s time to convert from the cozy comfort foods of winter to the bright and airy flavors of springtime! I recently came across this recipe for Warm Orzo Salad in the spring issue of Good Housekeeping and immediately knew I was going to love it. Now, don’t be fooled—pasta might not seem light and airy, but the amount of fresh shallots, squash and sweet radishes that are packed into this dish are going to seal the deal. This recipe is perfect for a quick weeknight meal since it can be made in about 45 minutes. The recipe features simple ingredients that I already had in my pantry so the workload was even lighter.

If you’re debating on whether to try it for yourself, I can promise the mustard-lemon vinaigrette is life-changing!  It’s the delicious blend of spice and sour-sweetness; it’s hard to believe how easy it is to whip up. That said, if you do happen to try this salad, let me know what you think! 
 warm orzo border
2 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
2 teaspoon(s) olive oil
3 tablespoon(s) red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
2 tablespoon(s) grainy Dijon mustard
1 clove(s) garlic, crushed with press
1 pound(s) orzo pasta
6 radishes, sliced into thin half-moons
1/4 cup(s) packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon(s) finely chopped fresh dill
2/3 cup(s) roasted, salted almonds, chopped

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a large jelly-roll pan, toss the squash, shallots, 2 teaspoons of the oil, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Roast 15 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt; set aside. Add the orzo to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Drain well then add to the vinaigrette along with the roasted vegetables, radishes, parsley, and dill. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 1 day. To serve, stir in the almonds.

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Mother, Sacramento


If you live in Sacramento and hearing “Mother” does not immediately make you think “Sacramento’s most buzzed about new restaurant” then I may have to politely ask if you’ve been living under a rock. The new restaurant venture from Chef Michael Thiemann who was previously with Ella Dining Room has already received rave reviews from just about every local media outlet since opening its doors in January. And, what many are surprised to learn about this new Sacramento gem is that the restaurant is completely vegetarian.

The SacFoodies quickly got wind about Mother and who had or had not tried Mother yet has now been a hallway topic of conversation around the office for weeks. I may not have won the award for being the first to try Mother, but it looks like I win for being the first to blog about the new restaurant.

mother horizontal FINAL

I visited on a Saturday evening around 9pm with three dining companions. We knew we would be in for a wait as the restaurant does not take reservations, but snagged a table after about 30 minutes. Although we were tempted to order the “Chef’s Special” which is 10 surprise dishes, we weren’t quite that daring and elected to share a few appetizers and order our own entrées.
Read more »


A Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Spread


Looking for a last minute recipe to get in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit? Try this easy recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage from Nugget Markets. You don’t even need the luck of the Irish to make this meal, just a little time, a crock pot and an ice cold beer to pair it with. Cheers to St. Patrick’s Day!

Corned beef brisket
2 tablespoons of Hot Chinese Mustard
6 red potatoes, quartered
3 carrots, peeled and cut in half
1 yellow onion, quartered
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into four pieces
½ head of cabbage, large dice Corned Beef and Cabbage

Photo and recipe credit Nugget Markets

Place brisket in a large crockpot and cover by about two inches with cold water. Bring just to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 hours. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. After the 3 hours, remove the brisket and slather on the mustard. Place in the oven to form a crust. This will take 30 to 45 minutes. While the brisket is browning cook the potatoes, carrots and onions in the poaching liquid. Start checking the vegetables after about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are almost cooked, drop in the parsnips and cabbage. Cook until just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes more. Separate from the sauce and set aside. When the brisket is finished allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve and serve with the vegetables and the strained poaching liquid on the side. Enjoy!