Eat Good Food: Bi-Rite's Guide to Selecting and Cooking Tasty Food
A variety of recipes from this book.
|Mom's Pear Skillet Cake||Grilled Peaches with Blue Cheese & Hazelnuts|
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for Eat Good Food: Bi-Rite's Guide
A cookbook and market guide from the nation's premier neighborhood grocery store, featuring expert advice on how to identify the top ingredients in any supermarket and 90 vibrant recipes that make optimal use of the goods.
San Francisco's Bi-Rite Market has a following akin to a hot restaurant--its grocery goods and prepared foods have made it a destination for lovers of great food. In Eat Good Food, former chef turned market owner Sam Mogannam explains how to source and use the finest farm-fresh ingredients and artisanal food products, decipher labels and terms, and build a great pantry. More...
An Excerpt from the first chapter Creating Community through Food
...IN THE BEGINNING, WE HAD NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE DOING. We made it up as we went along, running it like a restaurant, which turned out to be a huge advantage. And, it turns out, we reinvented the grocery store in the process.
I DID KNOW ONE THING FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. Coming from the restaurant world, I understood the importance of making things entertaining and treating the market as a theater of sorts. The flattering lighting, the upbeat music, the open kitchen and exuberant signage are all designed to create an energetic, fun vibe. I also knew that having friendly, informed staff would be key. So we hired former waiters for our "front of house" staff, and we expected them to know our food inside and out, just as they would at a restaurant. Even if they're stocking shelves, their main role is always to inspire customers, put them at ease, and get them excited about good food. All with the overarching goal of making grocery shopping an interactive, fun, and enjoyable experience.
THE PRODUCT SELECTION GOT A MAKEOVER, TOO. We revamped the offerings and got rid of products that my dad and uncle had carried for years--things like cigarettes and forties of malt liquor. It came as a big shock to some folks in the neighborhood. After we reopened, people would come in, take a look around, and eventually ask, "Ain't you got smokes?" We didn't. We filled the shelves with things that I as a chef would want: pantry items like good wine vinegar and panko bread crumbs, farm-direct produce, and sustainably raised meat. Basically, it was a lot of the same ingredients I had used at my restaurant.
I PREFERRED THESE INGREDIENTS BECAUSE THEY TASTED BETTER, not just because they were organic or local. That evolution came over time and happened largely because of the people around me. These were people--mostly our own staff at first, but more and more guests as well--who wanted to make a difference in the world, and they began to push me in ways that nobody had before. Our produce buyer, Simon Richard, had a huge impact on me. A farmer himself, he helped me see farming in a new way, and I gradually understood why organic and sustainably raised produce was so important. I owe him a lot for that...
...When we started making these changes, some guests grumbled about the higher prices that came with these more sustainable foods. We tried to help them understand the factors behind those price tags, including the lower yields (but higher quality) associated with organic farming. We worked hard to instill the idea that every grocery purchase affects the environment, the economy, and the well-being of the people who feed us. We talked about the true cost of food, including the hidden costs of subsidies (paid for by our taxes) and health care. In short, we all have the power to either contribute to the problem or be part of the solution. We all have the opportunity to make an impact every time we eat...
Grilled Peaches with Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts
These grilled peaches are infinitely versatile: you can eat them by themselves as a light first course; for a more substantial salad, serve them on a bed of lightly dressed arugula. They are even lovely as dessert. The best part is that you can grill the peaches a few hours ahead of time and then assemble them just before serving.
For best results, use peaches that are ripe but still relatively firm; the extra sturdiness makes them easier to manipulate on the grill. And freestone varieties (ones where the pit separates cleanly from the flesh) are by far easier to work with here than clingstones. If you can't find hazelnuts, almonds or walnuts will work nicely, too.
Serves 4 to 8
4 ripe peaches
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (see Note)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup toasted skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (see Tip) 20 tiny basil leaves (or 3 or 4 large basil leaves, torn into pieces)
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill or a grill pan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, halve and pit the peaches, and brush a little oil over the cut sides.
When the grill is hot, put the peaches cut side down on the grill. Let cook undisturbed for at least 2 min¬utes; then peek at one and check the browning (if it sticks, it means it hasn't browned enough). Cook until the peaches have nice dark grill marks, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Then flip them over and cook just until heated through and softened slightly, about 4 minutes longer. Remove the peaches from the grill and set aside.
Put the vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a rapid simmer. Cook until it has reduced to about half its original volume and has become noticeably thicker, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Divide the cheese among the peaches, mounding it slightly in the cavity where the pit was. Sprinkle the hazelnuts and basil over the cheese. To finish, drizzle with the reduced vinegar and a bit more of the olive oil.
TIP: To toast hazelnuts, spread them evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and broil, shaking the pan frequently, until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. (They toast from the inside out, so let your nose guide you rather than your eyes.) Remove the skins by putting the nuts on a clean kitchen towel, gathering the corners to make a bundle, and rubbing the bundle against the palm of your hand.
NOTE: Though it can be hard to find, Pedro Ximinez sherry vinegar would be spectacular here. It has a lovely fruity quality that's a little brighter than balsamic but reduces to the same lovely syrupy consistency.
Copyright © 2011 by Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough. Reprinted from Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food with permission from Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
About the Authors
Sam Mogannam is the second-generation owner of Bi-Rite Market and founder of the Bi-Rite family of businesses, which includes Bi-Rite Creamery, 18 Reasons, and Bi-Rite Farms. He also serves on the board of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Sam has been featured in Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Sunset, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and programs such as Foodcrafters. Sam stepped into the family grocery business in 1997, after working as a chef at his own restaurant, and transformed the market into a culinary landmark.
Dabney Gough is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, a former columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle, and a contributor to Fine Cooking and the Honolulu Weekly. She is the co-author of the forthcoming Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones and lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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Co-authored by Dabney Gough: