I have had some crazy Jello Salads in my life and pretty much think they are gross. Every one of my aunts had one they considered their specialty and they would bust them out at every family gathering. The one I actually looked forward to was made by godmother. She made this Strawberry, pineapple and banana salad every year at Thanksgiving. I am not a Jello lover – though every now and then I make this just to con jour up memories of how fabulous my godmother was. I remember when I was around eight years old she would encourage me to spend an afternoon in her kitchen with a recipe – and she would celebrate the results no matter how terrible the dish turned out. She enjoyed cooking and entertaining and always threw big lavish holiday parties.

My godmother at age 13. She borrowed some lipstick and the fur from a friend to take this picture.

My godmother at age 13. In a borrowed fur and a friends lipstick.

Strawberry, pineapple and banana salad

2-6 oz. boxes Strawberry Jell-O

4 cups boiling water

1 pound frozen strawberries, do not drain

1 can – crushed pineapple, do not drain

½ cup sour cream

4 -6 bananas, sliced

Place the strawberry gelatin in a medium heatproof bowl. Stir in the boiling water and mix well to dissolve the gelatin. Whisk in the sour cream.

Add the strawberries and crushed pineapple. Stir until well combined. Place in oblong glass dish and refrigerate for two hours. Remove and add the sliced bananas folding them into the mixture.

Chill until overnight until set.

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Pablo Picasso Thanksgiving

Pablo Picasso Thanksgiving

 

Self-proclaimed “Painter, Illustrator, Jeweler, Creator, and Ruckus-Maker”, San Francisco based artist Hannah Rothstein recreates Thanksgiving plates as other famous artists would recreate them.

Eli Lieb

Eli Lieb

Eli Lieb is an independent and openly gay American pop-singer song writer from Iowa. He lives in Los Angeles where he is currently working on his second album. I fell in love with Eli over a very romantic and intimate dinner a few months back here in San Francisco. After dinner he pulled out his big guitar and serenaded me with his beautiful song “Young Love“. On YouTube Eli’s covers of popular songs gained him gazilions of followers and fans.

Eli and I on our dinner date.

Eli and I on our dinner date.

Eli just released this video and I’m not mad at all that Shangela is in it instead of me. Not one bit!

Eli answers my foodie questionnaire here:

What is your favorite dessert?
Sticky Toffee pudding with hot custard. I love British food!

What restaurant would you call your home?
Tea And Sympathy in New York City. It’s a classic British tea house/restaurant. When I lived in New York, I was at that place probably 4 times a week. They knew me well.

What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?
I had freeze dried pancakes that were made in front of me and the batter was in a syringe. It was at this place, Moto in Chicago.

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?
Oh man, well I wasn’t allowed the sugary cereals as a kid (which I now am grateful for). But I had them on special occasion and I remember loving Cap’n Crunch.

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after the club?
I love a big sandwich after a long night out. Or a bag of Pirates Booty. I’ll eat it while watching something funny like 30 Rock or Parks And Recreation.

My great grandparents moved to the East Bay from Kauai (via Puerto Rico) where the family settled on a small piece of property in Hayward. They utilized that small property to its fullest – planting a Pinkerton avocado tree in the backyard along with Meyer lemon, grapefruit, orange, passion fruit, plums, persimmons and apple trees. My grandmother spent most of her life in that house and whenever I stopped by for a visit I would end up carting home bags of gorgeous fruit.

Grandma in the backyard, 1946.

Grandma in the backyard, 1946.

The property has long been sold -but my memory and fascination with my grandmothers green thumb still inspires me. Here in my downtown San Francisco urban garden there are two Gwen avocado trees. When these suckers fall they make a huge thud.  Jackson thinks these avocados have fallen from heaven just for him. I’ve used the leaves to make Chichilo Negro (Black Beef Stew)  and most recently stuffed them with crab with a recipe out of the cookbook Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis .

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I’ve written about brownies before – specifically about Brigette’s Brownies. They still standout as the benchmark for my favorite brownie. Over the years I have fallen in love with others but always end up comparing everything to hers. It has been impossible to find Brigette or her brownies and that seems like such an easy feat in our world of modern technology. So yet again, I’ve tried to recreate them. My memory recalls a dark chocolate brownie with lots of chunks of chocolate – all made with just a few great ingredients. I know she used dark Belgian Callebaut Chocolate (she would buy it in 11 pound blocks), eggs, flour and butter – at least that’s all I could see on her apartment shelves. I’ve dug around for recipes that only used these things and have adapted this recipe from two that I thought were close – one from pastry chef David Lebovitz (whose Paris based blog I follow religiously) and one from Martha Stewart. I think these are great – but don’t be surprised if I post another recipe in the future.

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6 ounces unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces Callebaut bittersweet chocolate, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces Callebaut bittersweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9-inch square baking pan with melted butter; line with a strip of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides, and brush paper with more melted butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and the salt, set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, melted chocolate, eggs, and melted butter until combined; add flour mixture, and mix vigourously for 1 minute.

Spread batter in prepared pan; sprinkle top with the chocolate chunks. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool completely in pan. Use paper overhang to lift cake from pan; peel off paper, and discard. Cut into 16 squares. You can also refrigerate this and then cut them for absolutely perfect squares.

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New neon at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

New neon at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

How excited am I to know that Mr. Holmes Bakehouse is opening right around the corner from my apartment. I spoke with baker Ry Stephen about croissants, neon, drag, french bulldogs, the Tenderloin and old acquaintances. It seems Ry and I have been neighbors for quite a some time as well as having the same circle of best friends – and yet we’ve never met! The brick and mortar shop is slated to open soon – like any day or next week and will be another welcome jewel in my quickly changing neighborhood. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more perfectly layered croissant and am happy to know that Jackson has a new place to call Holme on our morning walks.

The croissant at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

The croissant at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Let’s meet up if your in the Tenderloin for a croissant.

Swag at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Swag at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff

Jonathan Groff is an American stage actor and singer. I first jumped on the Jonathan bandwagon when he guest starred on Glee as the antagonistic character Jesse St. James. And then again when he appeared as Ian Todd in the second and final season of the TV series BossIt was on this series that I became obsessed with everything Jonathan! We recently got to hang out while planning the birthday party for Human Rights Activist Cleve Jones. Cleve had requested Jonathan sing The Flesh Failures / Let The Sun Shine In from the musical Hair – which Jonathan played the role of Claude in the 2007 rival. I got to cook dinner for Jonathan and the boys that would sing backup with him and was delighted to see the table light up when the platters of food arrived. His voice is magic and it gave me chills to hear it live in my apartment. Jonathan is currently in San Francisco filming the HBO series Looking, in the starring role of relationship confused Patrick Murray.

Jonathan Groff, Juanita MORE! and Cleve Jones Image / Georg Lester Photography

Jonathan Groff, Juanita MORE! and Cleve Jones Image / Georg Lester Photography

What is your favorite dessert?
It would have to be my mom’s pumpkin pie that she makes every Thanksgiving. We finish shooting season two right before Thanksgiving, so I’ll be eating a lot of that pie as I try to climb out of my post Looking depression…

What restaurant would you call your home in San Francisco?
That’s a tie between Kitchen Story, The Grind, and Bi Rite.

What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?
Eating cakes from Sweet Inspiration at night inspires me to exercise the following morning.

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?
Golden Grahams. And I loved brown sugar pop tarts.

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after the club?
A cheeseburger with sweet potato fries, a side of mayo, and a bottomless diet coke.

Jonathan and Jackson.

Jonathan and Jackson.

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