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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Throwback Time: A Trip Back To Santa Clara Valley Long Before It Became Silicon Valley

A few years ago I was invited to an event industry preview of a new facility by the popular catering company, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme. They had just taken over a defunct nightclub in downtown San Jose known as The Victory Lounge. I was honestly having trouble paying attention to the presentation because the walls were covered with signs that blew my mind. The night club just left their existing decor which was a total flashback to my youth. Someone had taken the time to make perfect recreations of signs from businesses that originated in Santa Clara County in the 50's and 60's. Each sign was an exact replica of the logo and colors of these businesses. I spent the entire time at the event making a list of the names.

Even though I am a San Jose native there were still several of these names that I did not recognize. I decided it was worth keeping a log because it would have been impossible for me to recall all of the names. I am not sure where these signs have ended up but I am hoping they might have made their way to the San Jose Historical Museum near Kelley Park. Anyone who remembers Santa Clara Valley in the pre-technology era will appreciate these companies who really helped shape our culture.

Diamond Laundry Cleaners
Burger Pit
Borcher Bros. Fuel
UA Theaters
De Anza Hotel
Newberry's (The American Way)
Curry & Gripenstraw Funeral Directors
Palomar Gardens School of Dance
Frontier Village
Mayfair Market (You Always Get More For Your Money)
Super Thrifty Markets
Alma Bowl
El Rancho Drive-In Amusement Theatre - Best In The West
Original Joe's
Hyatt St. Claire
Greyhound Bus
Fox California - The Best Of Everything
Gallenkamp's Super Shoes
Henry's Hi-Life
Liberty Theatre
Tiny's Drive-In Restaurant
Dollar Dan (Says now I'm the dealinest)
Western Appliance
Smilin' Bills Furnitureland
Lucky (Operated by your neighborhood)
Black Cat Licorice
Hart's - San Jose's Largest Department Store
Walgreen (You're Always Welcome At Walgreen)
Courtesy Chevrolet
Daylite Meat Company
Nickel's Tailoring
The Pink Poodle
Be Wise Shop & Save @ BI-Wise Market
Alum Rock Drive-In
Star & Bar Stations
Studio Theatre
Babe's Muffler
Willow Donuts & Coffee Shop
Mossholder's Nursery
American Dairy
Foster Optical
Giant Super
5 Spot Drive-In
Mel Cottons
Club Almaden (Swim Everyday at Club Almaden)
Olivera Egg Ranch
Firato Ravioli
Andy's Pet Shop
Aconda Hotel
Columbia Dollar Stores
Town & Country Village
Farmer's Union
Crest Theatre
Wings Chinese
Race Street Fish & Poultry
Camden Pet Hospital
Burbank Theatre
Mission Theatre
General Appliance
Allied Radio & Television
O.C. McDonald
Rosicrucian Museum
Kiddie World
Orchard Supply Hardware
Santa Clara Country Fair
Stephen's Meat Products
Hills Flowers
Loew's Hippodrome
Goldeen's Furniture
Trinkler-Dohrmann Co. - Good Housekeepers
Jolly 5 & 10
State "San Jose's Favorite Theater"
M Blum and Company
Fredkins Busy Markets

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Carl Cooks: Classic Mac & Cheese Rhymes With Peas

One of my favorite TV chefs is Tyler Florence. His cooking show on The Food Network and his best selling cookbook are both called Tyler's Ultimate.

Speaking of favorites one of my all time comfort foods is macaroni and cheese. Unlike many food snobs I have no problem with the iconic blue box version so many of us grew up eating. Just for nostalgia's sake here's a shot of that familiar staple found in so many pantries.

However, making your own mac & cheese from scratch is not that hard at all and the flavor curve goes right off the charts. Here's another blue box that's a great start for your own mac & cheese from scratch.

Making this great Tyler Florence mac & cheese recipe from scratch only requires a few key ingredients shown here:

1 cube unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 quart milk
5 cups sharp white Chedder cheese

Frozen Peas (16 ounce bag)
1 large yellow onion
2 large garlic cloves
1/3 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
1/3 bunch of fresh thyme (leaves only)

1 Package small elbow pasta (1 pound)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Cook pasta in large pot of salted water per package instructions. (7-8 minutes)
Warm the milk.
Shred the cheese.
Finely chop the parsley leaves.
Make a classic roux by melting the butter in a large sauce pan at medium high heat. Whisk in the flour until it dissolves then gradually stir in the milk.
Slowly add all but one cup of the cheese to make a thick sauce.
Add the parsley
Fold in the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce until well combined.


Preheat oven to 400 degreees
Pour pasta and cheese sauce mixture into deep baking pan
Top with remaining shredded cheese
Cook about 30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top

While pasta is in the oven...
Finely chop the onion
Remove thyme leaves from stems and chop
Peel and finely mince garlic cloves
Warm olive oil in medium saucepan
Add the onion, garlic and cook until soft
Add the peas stirring them until warm and soft
Top the finished mac & cheese with the sauteed peas

So be sure to let it rest before slicing. If peas are not your favorite, just follow the recipe and omit the topping. The nice thing about this recipe is that the squares of mac & cheese can either include the peas or not. Tyler's version includes crispy bacon cooked in the pea mixture which definitely adds another layer of texture and flavor. I prefer this veggie version and serve it with bacon bits on the side. Anyway you slice it you just can't beat classic mac & cheese when it comes to comfort. Thanks to Tyler for inspiration and another great twist on a classic.