World on a Plate

Exploring culture. One plate at a time.

Category: Gourmet Gifts

The Kitchen Sisters


The 13-part NPR series, Hidden Kitchens: Stories of Land, Kitchen and Community, is a wonderful, at times heart warming reminder of the cultural and social influence of food.  By exploring the world of hidden kitchens be it street corners, unique kitchens or in this story below, a makeshift kitchen in a prison cell it showcases how people’s stories of courage, redemption and resourcefulness connect us.  It also features recipes, via the NPR website, for great regional, local dishes. Small stories that say something big. 

The oral history programs are produced by the San Francisco-based  Kitchen Sisters.  Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva  have been collaborating together since 1979.  Previous efforts were not related to the culinary.  In fact they won 2 Peabody Awars for thier radio series Lost and Found Sound: An Aural History of the 20th Century and for "The Sonic Memorial Project. Now the This audio collection has now been assembled into a book that includes recipes, photos and additional stories that were not featured in the radio effort.  Now the book is being turned into a three-CD audio book, read by actress Frances McDormand. 

If you are in San Francisco on Saturday, Nov. 19, the Kitchen Sisters will be at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market at Noon.

Making Clandestine Candy Behind Bars (link to NPR for audio program)

"Robert ‘King’ Wilkerson, who created the most amazing kitchen. He was in prison at Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana for 31 years. Twenty-nine of those years he was in solitary confinement, basically as a political prisoner, because he was a Black Panther. He started a chapter of the Black Panther movement with two of his other friends. They had become a sort of a cause celebre known as the Angola Three.

Somehow, in solitary confinement, he managed to create a kitchen — and he did it out of a stove made of coke cans, and he burnt toilet paper rolls to get heat. And he made pralines, which we love in New Orleans. He made these delicious candies and perfected the recipe, hidden in prison.

They decided they had made a mistake for locking him up for so long. ‘King’ had a new trial, and he’s out now, and he sells his candies which he calls "Freelines." He does it as a way to help raise (consciousness) about political prisoners. ‘King’ learned to do it from his friend ‘Cap Pistol,’ who was in the kitchen at the time and taught him how to make sugar candy. And they are really, really good."

Grillin’ Up Some Pizza

Zagrill Americans love pizza.  Each of us eats an average of 46 slices (23 pounds) of pizza a year, according to a recent study. Most of us order in or eat frozen pizza.  In addition, 74% of households, according to the HPBA, own an outdoor grill. Now, courtesy of the camping gear folks over at Eastman we have the ZaGrill Pizza Griller.

The BBQ gadget was awarded Best New Barbecue Accessory of 2005 at the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association’s EXPO 2005. The Vesta Awards honor innovation in design and technology for hearth products and outdoor room products.

Preparing a pizza for the grill can be easy or challenging. The time-pressed home cook can simply take a favorite frozen pizza and plop it on the grill pan. Others could prepare the dough from scratch or buy dough from a local pizzeria.  Boboli, the pre-made Italian pizza crust, is a worthwhile compromise. Typically a frozen pizza is ready in 30 minutes with a grill that’s at 450 degrees. A homemade crust or thicker crust such as Boboli may take 5-10 minutes longer.

Eastman’s product design prevents burning, ensures a crisp crust and evenly melts cheese.  The cavity itself is non-stick for easy clean up. There’s also a patent pending on the heat shield that creates a protective air pocket, allowing for a great pizza baking experience on the outdoor barbecue grill.

California Pizza Kitchen Original BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe (copycat recipe)

Personal Chocolate Fountain

Fountain The new Sephra Home Chocolate Fountain could quite possibly make you the Queen or King of your next fondue party. It’s touted as "the world’s first, high-quality home fondue chocolate fountain." According to the manufacturer now the "elegance and fun of dipping tasty fruits and desserts into a cascading curtain of warm, melted decadent chocolate"  that falls from a height of 18-inches on the home model, can be all yours. The fountains will begin shipping in May but pre-ordering has begun at the company’s website. Cost is $249, which includes four pounds of Sephra’s own brand of premium Belgium chocolate, which requires no oil for melting. Perfect for caramel, cheeses, barbecue sauces or salad dressings. 


After completing the chocolate series this week I had a few odds and ends remaining that I thought merited sharing.  Although a bit late for Valentine’s Day these gifts are suitable for any time of the year:

Chocolate Smarts Game – a box of 60 question and answer cards such as ‘Which cocoa beans are the best?’; ‘What’s the best way to melt chocolate?’ and What country consumes the most chocolate?’  Guaranteed to raise your chocolate IQ.  ($16.95)

ChocoWit – each individually wrapped Belgian chocolate contains a special message. There are over a 100 different messages to collect.  (12 pieces; $19.50)

Woodhouse Chocolate – is the latest indulgence from Napa of small-batch handmade chocolates. The box reminds me of a bit of the Laduree Bonaparte macaroon box. The couple behind the nearly two year old chocolatier was inspired by the film, ‘Chocolat’ starring Juliette Binochet. A One pound-box of mixed chocolates will be sure to delight at $48.