Friday, December 17, 2010

A Visit to Preferred Meats with the San Francisco Professional Food Society

Ugandan born Bala Kironde, with his soft spoken elegance, provided members of the San Francisco Professional Food Society with an outstanding tour of his company, Preferred Meats. Bala Kironde’s father was a Ugandan diplomat turned farmer. On his extensive property holdings a vast assortment of fowl were raised. One of 16 children, Bala Kironde completed his university studies in England with the full intention of returning to Uganda to take over the management of his father’s farm. Mr. Kironde’s graduation coincided with the political upheaval in Uganda under the dictatorship of Ida Amin in the 1970’s, and Mr. Kironde’s father lost most of his farmland holdings.

A lucky break put Mr. Kironde in touch with a Californian entrepreneur who offered him a job in California where he has since made his home. Bala Kironde’s path from his arrival in California to making Preferred Meats the company it is today has been a long one from raising chickens hands-on to becoming a wholesaler of some of the most outstanding meat available in the Bay Area.

Mr. Kironde has wisely employed John Paul Khoury, CCC as his Corporate Chef. John Paul is on the front line interfacing with chefs and other culinary professionals from the restaurants that form the base of Preferred Meat’s clientele. Chef Khoury prepared a sampling of meats for us to try including two types of pork, lamb and maigret de canard. Each sample was better than the next and confirmed why Preferred Meats is the top company of its kind in the Bay area.

Although Preferred Meat products are not necessarily certifiably organic, sustainable or grass-fed they are close to it. Bala Kironde purchases from a group of hand-picked small to medium sized top notch farmers he knows and has visited personally. Product is mostly local, but some comes from as far away as Texas and Uruguay. Preferred Meat’s products are many and varied ranging from chicken, beef and lamb to exotic fowl, foie gras and goat.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Notecard Full of Memories

Pumpkin Bread is probably my favorite dessert on earth, or at least one of them.
This recipe is the only recipe that I have been using for decades without changing a single thing in the recipe. I make it any time of the year, but especially around the holidays when pumpkins are in season.
I guess there's one thing I've changed: I use fresh pumpkin instead of canned. Initially because I couldn't find canned pumpkin in Italy, and more recently because I don't use anything other than fresh.
I've never transcribed this recipe onto my computer or my recipe database. Instead, I pull out the note card with the recipe from a little recipe box I still have and use that. Over the years, the card has yellowed and it's gotten little bits of pumpkin and other ingredients stuck to it. I've halved, doubled, tripled and quadrupled the recipe in pencil. But it's still the same handwritten note card I was given years and years ago.
I first had this pumpkin bread, fresh out of the oven with butter and cream cheese, at my college boyfriend's mother's house (his name was Basil) and it was delicious. Basil's mom wrote the recipe out for me and I've been using it ever since. I look at her handwriting and think of her each time I make the pumpkin bread: a delightful, loving woman dedicated to her husband and sons. And a great baker.
And now I'll share this recipe with you, even the notecard....

Pumpkin Bread

Makes 4 loaves

Preheat oven to 3500 F (1800 C)

4 cups sifted all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup oil (I use olive oil)
14 1/2 oz pureed fresh baked pumpkin
2/3 cup water
4 eggs

Make well in sifted mixture of all dry ingredients. Add oil, then water and pumpkin. Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour into four well-greased loaf pans. Bake for about an hour, but check after 35 minutes. Large loaves may take more than one hour.
Serve warm or at room temperature with butter, cream cheese or plain.