Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños, My Boating Tradition

Peppers ready to assemble and a cold beer while cooking of course

Wrapped and ready to grill

Hot and Crispy off the Grill
It all started during one sunset at anchor in a quiet bay on the Island of Lanai, Hawaii. My cousin prepared grilled bacon-wrapped jalapenos with a melted cream cheese filling served up with a stiff dark rum and pineapple drink. Wow- I'm hooked now. Grilled peppers have become a tradition on my boat since that trip a few years back. Just this last weekend with good weather, I cooked dinner on my boat and naturally made grilled bacon peppers again. They are very easy to prep ahead of time, and keep cold in the fridge or cooler until ready to grill. Try them on your own home grill. One note on the hotness of the peppers is that they can be very hot when raw, but with precooking and removing the seed membrane, they will be much less hot.

My Grilled Jalapenos 
Jalapeño peppers, large size
Bacon strips, smoked is best
Cream cheese, regular or light
Toothpicks to secure

1. Make a slit down the side of the raw pepper and careful remove all the seeds and whitish membrane.
2. At this point they can be boiled or fire charred to remove skin and precook.
3. When cool and cleaned, stuff slit with cream cheese.
4. Lay a strip of bacon on a cutting board and tightly roll up around stuffed pepper.
5. Secure with toothpick, they are ready to grill.
6. Grill on medium heat and turn son they brown evenly.
7. Remove toothpick and serve.

Note: Wearing plastic gloves will keep your fingers and anything you might touch, from burning when cleaning seeds.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Simple Chicken Salad

The best is often simple with only a few ingredients and tonight it's a chicken salad. A chicken breast is marinated in soy and ginger then grilled till cooked through, allowed to cool, then sliced. I tossed with shaved carrots, arugula, cilantro in a basic soy vinaigrette with a sprinkle of white sesame seeds over the top.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Green Eggs and Ham

The name comes from the classic Dr. Seuss children's book, the green comes from the Salsa Verde sauce I used in my breakfast hash. Lots of sauteed vegetables with bacon becomes a good bed for the soft poached egg, a spoonful of green sauce and it's ready to go with my coffee.

The Hash with Celery, Garlic, Bacon, Potatoes and Asparagus

Breakfast Hash with Poached Egg and Parsley Salsa Verde

More Stove Top Grilling

Another day. another meal and today it's grilled beef flank steak and potatoes. I served the steak with with one of my favorite sauces, Salsa Verde. It's a blended sauce of Italian parsley, garlic, capers, lemon juice and plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Tangy and flavorful, and great with meats or fish.

Grilled and ready to Slice
Pan Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

Steak and Potatoes with Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde
1 bunch Fresh Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup capers, drained
Juice from 1 lemon
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 cup extra vireo olive oil

1. Blend all ingredients till smooth.

Note: Salt is not necessary because of the salty brined capers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stove Top Grilling

Nothing compares to cooking over a open fire, the intense heat and smoke that imparts flavor while giving food beautiful color. Sometimes its just not going to happen so a good alternative is using a cast iron grill pan on top of the stove. Tonight I cooked big meaty pork chops in my grill pan and they turned out really nice for indoor grilling. The secret is to preheat the pan till its almost smoking then cook the meat with a good exhaust fan on. The thick iron pan does a good job of holding the heat and giving a good sear. I can't wait to cook more.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

First of Spring Asparagus

Nothing says Spring like the first arrival of asparagus in markets and in your garden if you are lucky to grow them. My small crop was planted a few years ago and now produce enough nice large stalks to eat every few days. My idea for todays harvest is a very simple omelet using some local rainbow eggs given to me. The asparagus were cleaned and sliced then lightly sautéed in a dash of good butter, the eggs were beaten and cooked in a non stick sauté pan to which the asparagus were added, folded over and its done. Perfect and next time maybe a slice of cheese but today its just fine.

Two days out of the Ground

Fresh Harvested Stalks
 in Butter and Herbs
Simple and Perfect

Braised Pork Tamales

With the weather getting warmer I am spending more and more time on my boat. Today I decided on Mexican pork Tamales served with a cold beer, a perfect plan. The Tamales are Made by slow braising pork butt and dried chili peppers till it is fall apart tender, the cooked and shredded pork is added to a spoonful of corn masa dough which are then enclosed in fresh banana leafs. The little bundles are then steamed for about an hour and then they ready to eat. I served them with a tomatillo-green chili salsa and avocado. They were perfect eaten on the boat while watching the warm sun set. Note: tamales are a perfect food that can be made far in advance and reheated when ready to eat and available now in well stocked markets.

Tamales Steaming

Banana Leaf Wrapped Pork Tamales

Sailing back to Port while the Tamales Steam

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Latin Inspired Weekend Breakfast

My standard go-to breakfast on weekends is a pan of assorted meats and vegetables cooked and topped with a perfectly poached egg. Today I used some Latin ingredients in my breakfast hash, roasted Pasilla Peppers, Cojita Cheese, red beans, cilantro and avocado along with Fingerling Potatoes and Niman Ranch bacon. A good breakfast finished with a splash of my homemade Habanero Hot Sauce and I am ready to start the day.

Ingredients Cooking in the Pan

Latin "Hash" Waiting for the Hot Sauce

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Bay Areas Chefs Lounge

The Bay Area's Chefs Lounge is a causal, social and networking club of food professionals and foodies, who gather the first Monday of every month in a different location. The group was started in 2007 by Todd Spanier, CEO of The King of Mushrooms, a wholesale mushroom company in South San Francisco. The monthly event is hosted by a restaurant, bar or food business of a member and will often serve light snacks.  Attendees bring food pot-luck style, but it's not just any food after all, it's their peers that will eating it.  Sometimes a winery will offer a tasting too.  The 2-3 hour event is filled with lots of industry talk, and you might even find that new line cook that you have been searching for.

This months location was in San Francisco at The Ramp Restaurant

Chef Neils Marquis amazing Saffron Rice and Chicken Kabobs

Chef Todd Spanier's Hot  and Cheesy Black Chantrelles 

The King of Mushrooms, Todd Spanier

Local Lamb Prosciutto

Monday, February 10, 2014

Saiwaii Ramen Noodles

Spicy Garlic Tonkotsu

Tonkotsu Pork Flavor with Kikurage

Custom Made Butterfish and Unagi Roll
On a recent cold and rainy weekend I wanted a big bowl of steaming hot noodles. Most of the time I frequent a Pho restaurant on Clement Street in San Francisco, but I had another soup idea this time. Japanese Ramen soup is becoming very popular now and lots of restaurants are popping up everywhere. I visited one of San Francisco's Asian neighborhoods on Irving Street right off of 19th avenue; this is where Saiwaii restaurant is located. A somewhat small space but with comfortable seating. This restaurant specializes in Ramen noodles with many popular variations and a list of optional additions like pork belly, egg and seaweed. There is also a big sushi list as well as a menu of classic hot Japanese entrees like tempura or pork Katsu. I expected good food but was blindsided by how good it was, complex and refined with amazing flavor and textures. It's my new favorite restaurant and with decent prices too.

Saiwaii Ramen
2240 Irving Street
San Francisco, CA

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rainbow Eggs

I was given a small basket of local home hatched eggs here in Marin County, the variety is very unique because of the color of the shells. The breed of chicken is Araucana with its origins in Chile South America. I found that other then the color of the shell they aren't any different then other free-range eggs. 

Araucana Hen

Rainbow Eggs

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Winter Squash Curry

Feather River Farms

Chick Pea and Squash Curry

It's been a while since I visited my local farmer's market and with unseasonably warm weather this week, I had no excuse not to go.  My plan was to walk the whole market to see what's available and to compare prices; lots of root vegetables and winter greens are here during this time of the year.  I noticed a nice stall from Feather River Farms in Lake County, California.  They had a huge variety of Winter squash that they were even cleaning and cutting into cubes, a real time saver.  I bought a precut bag with the idea of making a Indian curry with it. I diced and slowly cooked yellow onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes along with the winter squash in a curry seasoned coconut milk. A handful of chopped kale at the end then spooned over steamed Basmati rice. Winter comfort in a bowl.

Farro and Mushroom Saute

Farro, Kale and Mushroom

One of my favorite grains is farro, a grain from a species of wheat with Italian origins.  My guess is it will be one of the trendy foods of 2014, as it's been popular on restaurant menus all around town.
It has a nutty and chewy texture with a mild taste.  It is easy to cook by simmering in salted water and draining when done.  I sauteed Dino Kale with oyster mushrooms in olive oil then tossed in the farro. Quick, easy and delicious.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Sriacha Hot Sauce Panic

Bottles of Pepper Goodness
OK its not really a panic but the very popular hot sauce is facing a dilemma which might affect its many fans. But first a little background on the sauce, Sriacha is a hot sauce made from red Fresno chili peppers, white vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Its named after the coastal city of Si Racha in Eastern Thailand, its a common condiment found on most tables in Southeast Asia. In the U.S. there are a few brands but the most famous is made by Huy Fong Foods in Los Angeles with its trademark Rooster and its green cap, to say its popular is a understatement, it just be the biggest thing since ketchup. Recently there has been complaints and a lawsuit from people neighboring its factory, they claim to have breathing problems with pepper odors during production in the fall. A California Judge has ruled for shipments of sauce to halt for 30 days and allow the health department to test for microorganisms. The Company is now being courted by other cities and some states to make the sauce. I scrambled to buy a few cases for my restaurant to get us through the shortage but too late, its not available right now.