Back to the Kitchen: Recipes from San Francisco laced memories

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My father passed away suddenly when I was in my early 20’s and lately I have been really missing him. Perhaps it is from the holidays, or maybe because this is his birthday month,  or maybe just… because! One of the many things that we shared in common was our love to leave our sleepy hometown of Petaluma and go into San Francisco to eat! From North Beach to Fisherman’s Wharf to Ghirardelli Square, we could happily eat our way across town!

When I am not able to get there I have my own versions of some of the most famous culinary delights. I love clams and mussels. I used to only eat them out because I could never get them cleaned. I’ve now  learned a few tips that are so easy and guests just go crazy.

For mussels, scrub them with a brush under cold water and scrape off any barnacles with a knife. If the beard is still attached (most cultivated mussels have been trimmed mechanically), remove it by pulling it from tip to hinge or pulling and cutting it off with your knife. Do this just before cooking. Discard any with cracked or open shells. I got a great tip for getting the sand out of clams. Rinse them off in cold water to get rid of the gunk. While keeping them submerged in water place a stainless steel spoon over them and stream water continuously for ten minutes. The combination of the water and the stainless creates an electrical current that causes the clams to spit out any sand.

Preparing these dishes remind me of great times I had with my dad, Jack Kenneally.  As I sip a good Sonoma Pinot and daydream of the Marina as the fog rolls in, I get to feel close to my dad, share his legacy with my friends, and see his sparkle of humor in the eyes of my daughter, Emma Rose.

San Francisco memories conjure up recipes from the heart. PHOTO: Karen Young

Lovely Lisa’s Minestrone

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 yellow onions, diced

6 stalks of celery including leaves, thinly sliced

3 carrots, chopped

1 Tablespoon Italian herbs

Sweat above ingredients in covered large soup pot 5 minutes

Uncover and add

4 cloves garlic, minced

Sauté 5 minutes


12 cups of chicken or veggie stock

3 cups canned chop tomatoes

2 Yukon gold potatoes diced

2 cans 15 oz cannellini beans, drained

1 small head Savoy cabbage, quartered and sliced

Bring to boil and simmer 30 minutes


8 oz pasta of your choice

6 more cups of stock

2 cups green beans cut into 1-inch pieces

Simmer 15 minutes

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese

San Francisco Style Clam Chowder

6 slices bacon, chopped

4 scallions, thinly sliced

3 Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped in ½ inch pieces

1 green pepper, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2-cup water

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

Splash Tabasco and Worchester Sauce, to taste

2 cups raw clams with juice

2 cups heavy cream

Sauté bacon until crisp in a large stockpot. Add onions, potatoes, green pepper, celery and garlic. Add 2 cups of water and season with salt and pepper, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. In a separate pan heat the clams and their juice for 3 minutes. Add the clams and juice to the pot, pour in the half and half. Heat, stirring until piping hot. Makes 6 servings.

Mussels and Clams in White Wine

1 lb. mussels

1 lb. Clams

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, chopped

2 cups dry white wine

Juice and zest from 1 lemon

5 sprigs flat leaf parsley

6 chives, sliced

Clean the mussels, scrubbing to remove the beards. Clean the clams as described above. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped garlic and shallots. Sauté until they soften. Add the white wine and lemon juice. Finish with the parsley and chives. 

Add the mussels and clams. Cover the pan and let mussels and clams steam open.


3 cups tomato juice

1 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced thin

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 sprig rosemary, chopped

1 sprig marjoram, chopped

1 sprig oregano, chopped

½ pound fresh fish (flounder, haddock, perch), boned and cut into 1″ pieces

½ cup red wine

12 clams in the shell

1-pound shrimp, in the shell

4- Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

6 parsley sprigs, chopped

8 lemon wedges

Place tomato juice in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add onion, celery, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, garlic, and fish to the pot and simmer, covered, for an hour to thicken broth. Add the wine, shrimp, and clams and heat to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the shrimp just turn pink. Serve in heated bowls, topped with cheese, a wedge of lemon, and parsley.

Sourdough Bread

1 cup Starter

1 package dry yeast

2 cups warm water

2 teaspoons sugar

1-teaspoon salt

6-7 cups flour


Let starter come to room temp. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup of warm water. Add sugar and let stand for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rest of the water and the starter. Add four cups of flour. Mix to blend then beat at medium speed until smooth and elastic about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in 2 cups more flour, then add up to 1 cup more to make a stiff dough. Turn dough out on to a board coated with remaining flour. Knead until dough is springy and small bubbles form just under the surface. (15-20 minutes) Or place in bowl of electric mixer fitted withy a dough hook and process for about 10 minutes.) Turn dough into a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk about one hour.

Punch dough down and let rest for a few minutes. Divide into 2 equal parts and shape each one into a ball and place on greased cookie sheets that have been lightly dusted with cornmeal. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise until doubled, about one hour. With a very sharp knife cut a Chris cross in each loaf about 1/4 inch deep. Preheat oven to 400. Bake until golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped about 1/2 hour.

Sourdough Starter

1 Package dry yeast

1-cup warm water

1 cup warn nonfat milk

2 cups flour

In a medium bowl mix yeast over water. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes. Mix in warm milk. Add flour; mix to blend then beat until smooth. Transfer to a large container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then with a towel and let stand at room temperature 24-48 hours. Stir down upon occasion. It will be quite active for several hours after it is prepared. Use starter or refrigerate in a tightly covered container until ready to use.

Halibut in Herb Sauce

1/4-cup fresh lemon juice

1/4-cup olive oil

6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

6 6-ounce halibut fillets

Olive Oil for brushing

Puree first 5 ingredients in processor. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Brush fish with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer fish to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Chicken in White Wine North Beach style

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 chicken breast halves with ribs and skin, cut crosswise in half

3 chicken drumsticks with skin

3 chicken thighs with skin

6 ounces 1/4-inch cubes prosciutto

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 1/4 cups dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1 cup crushed tomatoes with added puree

Fresh rosemary for garnish

Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, sauté chicken until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter. Add prosciutto, sliced garlic, and chopped rosemary to same pot. Stir 1 minute. Add dry white wine, chicken broth, and crushed tomatoes with puree. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil 5 minutes. Return chicken to pot, arranging in single layer. Return to boil. Cover pot and place in oven. Bake until chicken breasts are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove pot from oven.

Bring chicken mixture to simmer. Transfer chicken to platter; tent with foil. Boil until sauce is reduced to 2 cups and coats back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve.

Basic Chocolate Truffles

12 ounces Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips

1 stick butter

1/2-cup ground chocolate

In a double broiler, melt the chocolate over simmering water, stirring constantly. (Or a metal bowel over a pot of boiling water, just remember to be careful.) Remove from heat. Add butter stirring until melted. Chill until firm enough to form into small round pieces. Roll in ground chocolate. Chill overnight in refrigerator. Makes about 40.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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