Despite sunny summer like weather this past weekend in San Francisco, we found ourselves in the mood for something more autumnal. One of our favorite cooking techniques is braising tough cuts of beef for hours in vegetables and wine and we were unable to come up with an excuse not to launch into a dish more associated with chilly fall days. The smell filled the house and made the weekend seem all the more relaxing.

We bought two beef shanks from Marin Sun Farms at the Ferry Building Farmers Market and to fortify the sauce, we used a tomato ragout that we had made during the week with some overripe heirlooms and some chilis. Once they were nestled in the crock-pot for the afternoon, it was just a matter of taking a leisurely nap, making polenta and waiting. The results were tender and unctuous and worth the extended cooking time.

braised beef shanks on polenta

recipe follows

Herbed Heirloom Tomato and Goat Curd Tart

Here in Northern California, we’re seeing the tail end of heirloom tomato season. You can still find several varieties at farmers markets, but you might also spy discounted bins for the damaged or less attractive ones. We overheard one vendor at the Ferry Building tell someone “We’re going to keep putting them out until some one complains.”

We snagged a few anyway last weekend at the Divisadero Farmers Market intending to throw them in a salad. But as often happens these days, life intruded and they sat in the fridge all week. It got to the point of using them or losing them to the compost bin.

Wanting to use them to highlight their sweetness, we opted to throw them in a tart. Since tomatoes are mostly water, we realized that a couple of extra steps were required to keep the pastry from getting soggy. We also decided to use up the goat curd that we had snagged from the Achadinha Cheese Company and crumbled that on top. This produced a sweet and savory combination that was a pleasure paired with crème fraiche fortified scrambled eggs for a relaxed week end breakfast

Herbed Heirloom Tomato and Goat Curd Tart

Recipe follows

Making Your Own Bacon

The bacon trend seems to be everywhere these days with it showing up in everything from chocolate bars to doughnuts to a rather dubious sounding martini. And why not? The flavor pairs well with savory and sweet preparations and appeals to the American love of salty meat.

It’s easy enough to just go to the store and grab a packet of bacon. But when we sampled some home made bacon at the ForageSF Underground Market, one question began to persistently ricochet around our head.

Exactly how hard is it to make your own bacon? As it turns out, not hard at all. It’s just a matter of time commitment.

making Bacon