Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lemon drop cocktail

There is a tradition at my brothers house of serving lemon drop cocktails for any reason, I am sure that he being a liqueur distributor and his wife being of Russian decent have nothing to do with it? Anyway they are very good and its hard to count how many you have had.

Olga's Lemon drop cocktail
fresh squeezed lemon juice
simple syrup (50% sugar/50%water dissolved)
good quality vodka (try lemon flavored)

Mix equal parts with ice, shake to chill and strain into a martini glass with a sugar coated rim, serve at once and you better make more quick!

This post is number one hundred!

The idea for doing this blog is my answer to writing a book without dealing with publishing companies, also there is not a clear format to this blog other then food related topics. Maybe one day there will be a book, but for now this will have to do. I have found that I cook more from scratch now then ever before, I get more enjoyment from my own pasta, sauce or breads, its all about the quality of each ingredient.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Posole Soup

Posole soup is a Christmas tradition in Mexico and its becoming one here too, at least at my house. Its a soup of pork or chicken with the addition of hominy. Hominy is corn that has had the outer layer of skin from the kernel removed. The flavor of the soup is like a liquid corn tortilla. The best part is that you have a steaming bowl of soup that you finish with your choice of shaved lettuce, cilantro, jalapeno, avocado, fried tortilla strips, tomato and a squeeze of lemon or lime. I like mine spicy with tons of cilantro and avocado.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Clement Street fish market

Here is some recent shots taken from a fish market on Clement Street in San Francisco. Clement Street is a long street on the Western side of the city and its a big mix of mostly Asian businesses and restaurants. Its known as the non touristy Chinatown for locals. I shop the Clement street neighborhood all the time and this fish market is really good because of the freshness and high volume.High important when buying fish because its not sitting on ice for days waiting for someone to buy it. This market has all the normal tanks of live fish, crabs and prawns as well as a huge display of local fresh fish on ice. By the way the live frogs and turtles are not for pets if you know what I mean.

Ribollita, Vegetable Soup Italian Style

Its the holiday season and everyone is eating a lot of unhealthy foods. Here is a good winter soup that is made for cooking in big batches and reheating.Ribollita is a very rustic Tuscan soup who's name translates to "reboil". Its simply made with diced carrot, celery, fennel, onion and garlic. Saute in olive oil till soft then add precooked white beans and water or chicken stock. Add roughly chopped chard or kale. Simmer for about 30 minutes, check seasoning and serve with crusty bread and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My newest kitchen toy

I have been really into making breads and pizza's lately but what I have been lacking is a oven stone to devolp a crispy crust. With a big well stocked restaurant supply store near work it was a easy decision to buy one, they run around $50 dollars and you just put in on the lower rack. I crank up the oven to 500F and wait for about 20 minutes for the stone to absorb the heat.Then using a pizza peel dusted with corn meal I slide the pizza's off and on to the stone. In less the 10 minutes its brown and crispy with the cheese bubbling.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Risotto of Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Sage

Next to making pasta with what ever you can find in your house, a basic risotto is easy. It can be flavored with anything you have on hand. In the Summer it can be fresh corn, peas or maybe asparagus. The long winter season is perfect for comfort ingredients like root vegetables. This risotto was just whole oven roasted sweet potatoes with the cooked pulp removed and added during the last cooking stage of the rice. Finished with fresh chopped sage and shaved Parmesan cheese. Great by itself or as a side to maybe roast pork.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Easy Bread

Some people like the smell of fresh baked cookies, but I love the smell of bread right out of the oven. I always keep a supply of good quality locally ground flour and dry yeast packets for when I want to bake. Having a kitchen aid stand mixer with a dough hook is also a big plus. I most often just make a basic flour, water, olive oil dough, allow to proof once then spread out on a sheet pan, then more olive oil and sea salt sprinkled over the top. Let it proof a second time then place into a hot oven, 15-20 minutes later its bread!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Craving for a Juicy Pork Chop

Its rare when I look in the meat case for a dinner idea, normally its some kind of fish or shellfish. There was some nice thick pork chops calling out to me so I took them home. I preheated my stove top cast iron pan while the chops were seasoned with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. The cast iron is excellent for searing meat because it will retain heat. Its the original non stick pan. A dash of olive oil in the pan and it was time to sear.The chops only took about five minutes per side while I sauteed sliced onions and cabbage to go with them. When the chops were platted with the cabbage and quick saute of peeled sliced apples in butter became the sauce. Its a good cold weather comfort dish that is really not as fatty as you would think. So go for it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quick & Easy Pizza

So you have two chefs making Thanksgiving dinner for themselves and its lunch time, what do you make to go along with the beers? Pizza of course! A quick whole wheat crust, fresh grated mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes and chopped Oregano from the garden. 30 minutes to prep and 15 minutes in a 450F oven.

Prickly Pears

On a recent Napa Valley road trip I came across these nice Prickly Pears, they are the edible fruit of Cactus plants. Mostly used in making desserts and drinks. They have large thorns and need to be peeled before use. I think I might have to get some for a Prickly Pear Margarita!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Not so traditional Thanksgiving

This year a co chef from work was the guest and co-cook for the day, He being Jewish and having chef cooking experience from Israel came up with a Kosher thanksgiving menu. Basically its the same food but using a Kosher fresh turkey from a Kosher butcher shop in San Francisco, I knew I was in the right place with a Rabbi standing in line with me. There is too much to explain now how and why food is Kosher, but the rules regarding kosher food are very complex and strict, So another time. The menu was roast herb and citrus turkey, rosemary roasted red potatoes, caramelized root vegetables, celery and apple stuffing, orange cranberry compote, natural pan gravy, simple green salad and freshly made apple pie. Everything was made from scratch in a few easy hours, a glass of wine and beers always within easy reach. We even made fresh pizza for a snack while cooking (good with the beer) When it was all done, it looked great, but was way too much food, a few phone calls to find more eaters didn't work out either. The turkey itself was amazing, perfectly cooked and very moist with a lot of flavor. Never going back to non kosher. Also for the meal to be Kosher it could not include any diary, so not having any cream or butter made it very healthy.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Miso Glazed Sea Bass

There is a fish recipe made famous by the Japanese chef Nobu the chef/owner of the chain of restaurants by the same name. It is fish that marinates in a mixture of Miso, Sake, Mirin and brown sugar. It has a amazing flavor of sweet and salty with the flavors of the Sake and Mirin rice wine. Here I took a nice fillet of California Corvina sea bass and marinated it for a day then roasted it in the oven till golden on the outside while still being moist inside. I served it with lemongrass infused jasmine rice and pickled cucumbers and peppers.

Artic Char

There is a Fish called Artic Char which is in the same family as salmon but also resembles a big trout, its a Northern fish from Artic regins around Norway and other Northern Countries. It has orange flesh with a beautifully colored skin. Its best when cooked like Salmon. Here is a dish I made with Pan seared Char using brasied white beans and flavors of orange and fennel.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

San Francisco road trip

Not a real road trip, but just across the bridge for a afternoon adventure in the city. While taking the kids to the zoo, we came across a Russian church with a booth in front selling home made piroshki. We stopped and bought the two kinds they were selling, ground beef and mushroom. They were both really good and only $2 dollars each. Next for a restaurant at lunch time it was a visit to the Asian district of upper Clement street. Packed with lots of small markets and restaurants, we headed to my daughters favorite Pho noodle house and ordered the usual pot stickers, Hong Kong crispy pan fried noodles with beef and vegetables and a big steaming bowl of chicken noodle pho which comes with a plate of vegetable and herb garnish to add for a flavor boost. We skipped desert and headed to one of the bigger Asian markets for Japanese mango mochi treats. The fog burned away leaving a warm afternoon as we headed back across the bridge home.

Fall duck breast salad with goat cheese stuffed figs

Its been awhile since my last post, a new job has kept me busy. This salad was conceived for my fall menu using seasonal ingredients like figs and cranberries. It is a simple salad of a 7oz duck breast cooked medium rare and sliced set atop a bed of mixed greens dressing with a citrus vinaigrette, garnish of cranberry compote and three ripe figs stuffed with herb goat cheese. A sprinkle of orange zest completes the salad. Its a nice entree sized salad with the comfort food quality's of thanksgiving flavors, enjoy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mini Lamb Burgers in Pita Bread

A grey and cold Sunday morning made watching cooking shows on cable an easy choice. My youngest daughter who is first in line to inherit all my cooking gadgets was learning some tricks from her favorite "cool" chef, Bobby Flay. He is well known for doing a lot of good simple cooking on the grill. She took his recipe ideas and changed them to suit her own taste. Her idea was mini cheese burgers stuffed in pita bread. My burger idea was cumin scented ground lamb, which is a natural with pita bread. She made hers plain but I added shredded lettuce, sliced tomato and ripe and creamy avocado to mine. It was really fast and easy using the indoor grill on the stove then putting the cut pita bread on the grill to warm and soften them for stuffing. A middle eastern style yogurt sauce would have been a good addition, but I used my favorite hot sauce instead.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Red Snapper with capers and vegetable saute

On a weeknight after a long day of cooking for other people, I want to be able to cook something good but fast. I start by walking through the local market and see if any thing looks good. I notice a nice fresh Snapper fillet at the fish counter, so that goes in the basket, next what to serve with the fish? How about a quick saute of diced zucchini, eggplant, onions and garlic? Sounds good. First the deboned fish is simply seasoned with salt/pepper then it goes into a hot pan with a dash of olive oil. In a second hot saute pan the diced vegetables with a dash of olive oil get a quick toss, cooked through but still retaining there shape and color. Next the cooked vegetables go on to a preheated plate with the nicely browned fish placed on top, a scattering of small capers and a squeeze of lemon to finish. Try it tonight!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Roasted Greek inspired organic chicken legs

I had a idea of roasting chicken legs with a marinade of crushed garlic, fresh chopped oregano, olive oil and lemon juice. I will serve it on a slice of grilled olive bread with wilted spinach, feta cheese and dry cultivated tomatoes. When you have only a few ingredients they have to be the best. Local fresh organic chicken legs, fresh oregano from my garden, imported feta cheese from Greece, dry grown heirloom tomatoes. (these are tomato plants that are not irrigated, it gives the tomatoes less moisture and a more intense flavor)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chilaquiles for breakfast anyone?

There is a common or maybe classic Mexican breakfast called Chilaquiles, it is often served at breakfast and made with fried corn tortillas, green or red chili sauce and eggs. Basicly a scrambled egg and tortilla cassorole. And being someone who likes all things Mexican, I threw together a verison with what I had on hand in my fridge. And I must heat it up with a dash of hot sauce when I serve it.

2 diced strips of good thick smoky bacon

1/2 of a onion, sliced
3 corn tortillas, torn
1 potato, diced
2 organic eggs
1/2 cup red or green enhilada sauce

1. Saute onion, potatoes and bacon till browned.
2. Add eggs, tortillas and your choice of chili sauce
3. Stir till eggs are soft scrambled, garnish with cilantro

Note: Great with grated jack or cheddar cheese

Serves 1-2 people

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tomales bay oysters

You can't beat fresh local oyster's on the half shell, they are nature's perfect packaged food. They will put up a fight when you try to get the rough shell off, but its well worth it. A last minute idea over the weekend was to head west to the Marin County coast, it was well worth it. And only a forty five minute drive through the rolling hills and the tall and dark redwood Forrest's. Tomales bay is a long narrow bay that runs parallel to the North Marin coast, it is home to a lot of wildlife as well as lots of oyster farms. I used to go to a oyster farm called Hog Island a few years ago, they have good oysters and clams, but it is now expensive and somewhat touristy, the Johnson oyster farm down the highway is my choice, simply good oysters with a fair price. I was talked in to a deal of 50 small oysters for $40.00 dollars, He twisted my arm so I had to do it. Me and my kids along with another family stopped at a local beach down the road and ate a few dozen, the rest came home. Some people like to barbecue them with BBQ sauce or a vinegar/pepper based dipping sauce, for me its just fresh lemon and hot sauce. Go get them and suck them down.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Brasied Pork Tamales

On a whim I decided to make tamales, normally a big production and time consuming, but these weren't that hard to make at all. Tamales are Mexican in origin and very popular at Christmas time. They are corn husk wrapped bundles of a soft corn dough called masa which are filled with meats or vegetables.They are sometimes made sweet with the addtion of raisins, Cinnamon and sugar. Tamales are simply steamed till cooked then unwrapped and served with a dollop of your favorite salsa.

I started my tamales with a big chunk of fresh pork butt which I slowly braised in a liquid made with water, fresh diced tomatoes and dry smoked chipotle chilli pods. After slowly simmering four hours the meat is very tender and can be easily shredded and set aside. Next the masa dough is made with masa flour, salt and water, follow directions on package and mix well to form a soft dough, this is the same dough mixture that corn tortillas are made with. Next the dry corn husks, which can be found in the Latin section of most markets, they need to be soaked in water for a few hours to soften. To assemble, spread a few tablespoons of the masa dough in the center of the open corn husk, place a tablespoon of seasoned filling on top and fold all sides like a little square package. Tear a strip of corn husk and use it to tie around the tamale to hold it together. Place tamales in a large pot with a steaming rack on the bottom, fill with a little water, cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and steam for about 30 minutes. serve with your choice of salsa. Enjoy

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A few bites from Mexico

Just back from a week in Mexico, I visited the area of Cabo San Lucas on the southern tip of Baja. It is the Northern Mexican state that borders the Untied States, with the Pacific Ocean on the West and the Sea of Cortez on the East. It was, like it always is in August, Hot!! The best foods I enjoyed were the simple ones, like Ceviche and tacos. I ate a lot of Ceviche which was simply made with just Lime juice, diced tomato, cilantro and either diced Mahi, squid or shrimp. Basically a fish salad washed down with cold Modelo beers.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Grouper with Farmers market veggies

The Marin Sunday Farmers market is the biggest and the best of the daily markets here in the bay area, this time of the year the market is huge with all the summer vegetables. I found a nice fresh grouper fillet at a large well stocked fish and shellfish stall, then it was a question of what I was going to serve with it? Corn, summer squash and tomatoes were everywhere so it was a easy choice. I cut all the vegetables in a way to show off all there different sizes and shapes, then simply saute in olive oil with fresh oregano from the garden. For the fish, the small bones were removed with needle nose pliers and seasoned with kosher salt and pepper. Into a hot pan with a dash of olive oil, browned on the first side then flipped over to finish. I made a sauce of sweet 100's yellow cherry tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. Simple, colorful and farm fresh.
1 handful assorted summer squash, sliced and quartered
1 Roma tomato, large diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 ear yellow corn on the Cob, kernel's removed
2 5-6 ounce Grouper fillets (or firm white fish)
1 pinch oregano, chopped
1 dash olive oil
kosher salt/black pepper
1 basket sweet 100's cherry tomatoes
1.Season Grouper fillets with kosher salt and pepper and sear in hot pan with olive oil, flip and finish second side till done, keep warm.
2.Saute cherry tomatoes in a pan with a dash of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper, simmer till tomatoes are soft and saucy, set aside.
3. In a third saute pan, saute all vegetables, oregano, garlic in olive oil.
4.Assemble by placing vegetables on plate, place fish on top, spoon sauce on and around fish, enjoy.

Friday, August 17, 2007


In the summer when its warm and the days are long, another way I enjoy eating seafood including most South Americans is in the form of Ceviche. It is a citrus pickled and marinated seafood originating from Peru, Ceviche is now very common in both central and South America. The basic component's are fresh sliced fish or shellfish, fresh lime juice, diced onions and Chile peppers. Lots of other ingredients can be added such as corn, cilantro and tomatoes. Fried tortilla chips are an excellent and common way to eat Ceviche.

Ceviche my way

8 oz very fresh pacific snapper, sliced thin
juice of 2 limes
juice of 1 orange
segments from 1 orange
1/2 jalapeno, diced fine
1/3 small red onion, sliced thin
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped fine
1 Cobb of corn, grilled, kernel's removed
1 avocado, diced
Kosher salt/pepper

1. Mix all ingredients, chill for 2 hours.

Serve in chilled martini glasses with corn tortilla chips.
Yield = 4

Peek tomato season is right now

It is late August and all tomatoes are at their absolute best! Put them in every recipe now because fall is coming and then they will soon be gone. Making a simple salad is the best way to taste all the different flavors and textures as well as all the colors and shapes. The key is to use only the best ingredients in your salad like extra virgin olive oil, quality aged vinegar, fresh milled black pepper and sea salt.
Simple Tomato salad
assortment of ripe heirloom tomatoes
baby arugula, washed and dried
extra virgin olive oil
aged sherry vinegar
fresh milled black pepper
kosher or sea salt
1. Slice the tomatoes in wedges, arrange on plate.
2. Place a small nest of arugula on top.
3. Combine 1 part sherry vinegar to 3 parts extra virgin olive oil, season with the salt and pepper.
4. Drizzle vinagrette over salad, enjoy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pan Seared Pacific Snapper

I made a quick and easy fish recipe for dinner tonight. I used Pacific Red Snapper fillet for its clean ocean flavor and flaky texture. Also to go with it I used one of my favorite beans, garbanzo's or as they are also known chick peas. I simply stewed them with onions, tomato, garlic and saffron. With the strong flavors of the dish I chose a sauce that would stand up to them, Salsa Verde which translates to "green sauce". Its simply loads of fresh parsley, capers, lemon juice and olive oil, blended till smooth.
2 five ounce red snapper fillet, bones removed
2 cups cooked chick peas
1 small onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 Roma tomato, sliced
1 dash olive oil
1 pinch fresh chopped oregano
Kosher salt/pepper
2 tablespoons Salsa Verde (recipe follows)

1. saute onions, garlic, tomato, oregano, saffron in olive oil.
2. When vegetables are tender, add the chick peas and a little water or white wine and continue to simmer.
3. Heat a non stick or cast iron pan (my choice)
4. Add a dash of olive oil and place seasoned fillets in pan when smoking hot, use your fan.
5. After a few minutes flip the fillets over and continue to cook till done.
6. Spoon chick pea stew on center plate and place fish on top, spoon sauce on and around fish.
Yield= 2

Salsa Verde Sauce
1 bunch cleaned flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic
2 cups olive oil
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons capers

Place all ingredients in blender and blend till smooth.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fresh Squid, its all good!

I recently had the opportunity to cook a large quantity of fresh Squid over a previous weekend.On the first day I decided to quickly grill the squid and then toss it in a simple lemon vinaigrette with ripe tomatoes and shaved fennel. This little dish would serve as a first course for the grill Swordfish we were having. When working with Squid I prefer to use fresh instead of frozen if possible. Here in the bay area most of our fresh squid comes locally from the Monterey bay, there seems to be a never ending supply of these little tasty guys. Step one after you have bought fresh squid is to clean and prepare them for cooking. Frozen squid will almost always be pre cleaned. To clean them have a cutting board, sharp knife and a bowl set in another bowl of ice to keep them cold while you work. Lay the squid out in front of you and make a cut just in front of the eyes to remove the tentacle's in one piece. Next hold the end tip of the tube down with your finger while using the back of the knife to scrap out the interior of the body, the long tube will have a purplish skin and little wings on the tip which can be easily scraped off if desired. At this point the tubes can be cut into rings, but its much easier to grill when they are left whole. A quick rinse under cold water and they are ready for your recipe.

Grilled Calamari salad
2 pounds fresh cleaned squid
2 Roma tomatoes,rough chop
1 fennel bulb, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, rough chop
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt/fresh pepper

1. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for cooking.
2. When its hot and clean, place pre oiled and seasoned squid tubes and tentacles on grill.
3. Turn over once or twice till done, which depending on hot the grill is only a few minutes, its very important that squid is not overcooked or it will become very tough and rubbery.
4. Cut the tubes into rings and place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, Check seasonings.

Note: Serve at room temperture on a platter or chilled in martini glasses.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A good food and drink weekend

This weekend I did a quick trip to the hot central valley to join my brother in teaching our mother how to use her new computer. Food and drink always plays a big part in any get together and we did both. First I went to see the three brothers that own La Rocca seafood in San Francisco. When I need the best fresh fish its where I go to get it. Its a whole sale business that sells to the best restaurants in the bay area. I had the idea of doing something from Sicily with big bold flavors. The flavors of Sicily are influenced by its location in the Mediterranean sea, being close above northern Africa there is the Moroccan influence of using a lot of citrus in its food. Swordfish and squid are common so I ended up buying about three pounds of each. With the fresh fish and squid on ice I drove to my moms house. Once at the house I started to clean and cut the swordfish so it can marinate before grilling, my brother started cleaning the squid which will be a side dish. Of course any kitchen operation will need a beverage close by and with the 104F heat outside we choose Jamaican red stripe lager beer. Its perfect with Bob Marley music playing in the back ground.
Sicilian food with Jamaican beer? they are both islands so close enough.

For the Swordfish I made a marinade which I poured over the fish, then the fish was skewered with bamboo skewers (soaked in water to prevent burning) covered and refrigerated. during this time a charcoal grill was lit. When the grill is hot and clean, wipe with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. The skewers are then placed on the grill and turned every few minutes while basting with the marinade. The fish is done when just cooked through, too long and they can become dry. I served the Swordfish with a Sicilian cous cous salad. More on the Squid in the next post.

Swordfish marinade:
3 pounds swordfish in 2 inch cubes
1 cup fresh orange juice
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Marinate chilled and covered for 2-4 hours

Sicilian Couscous salad:
2 cups Israeli couscous
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
2 oranges, segments and zest
1 pinch of Spanish saffron
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
a splash of sherry vinegar
1 bunch spinach leaves, clean and dry
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
Toast the couscous in a saute pan with a dash of olive oil till golden brown, cook in salted water like pasta, remove from heat and drain, add the rest of the ingredients, mix well and allow to sit for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend together.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Quick and healthy stir fry

When you want a fast meatless dinner, its very easy to do a stir fry. Some of the ingredients can include diced firm tofu, precooked Asian noodles and all of your favorite vegetables. Just have everything pre-cut and ready to go into the pan. First heat a large wok or non stick pan over high heat, add a dash of vegetable oil, when its smoking hot start slowly adding the ingredients and gently stir with out crushing or breaking up the ingredients. You can add flavorings such as chopped garlic and ginger, a dash of light soy sauce or your favorite pre-made sauce like hoisin or black bean. In only a few minutes everything will be cooked, arrange onto a plate and top with sliced green onions. Enjoy

Monday, July 16, 2007

My vote for best bread in the bay area

Della Fattoria! This local company from the North bay area city of Petaluma has been baking for years, it was even featured on Marta Stwerts TV show. (she flew in by private chopper) The breads are baked in big outdoor brick ovens which have been heated by wood fires. They bake around ten different breads and my favortie is there rosemary and meyer lemon loaf. In the bay area Della Fattoria can be found at most whole foods and quality markets. You have to try it! Della

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fresh pasta and Tomato sauce

Tonight with a burst of energy I made fresh pasta and a simple sauce of Roma tomatoes and garlic. The pasta using only three ingredients took about half an hour to complete. A nice finish to the dish was sprinkling freshly made bread crumbs to give the pasta a crunchy texture.

Basic fresh pasta:
4 cups all purpose flour
2 whole organic eggs
1 dash kosher salt
water as needed

1. Place a mound of flour on the work surface and add the salt, eggs and a little water in the center, mix well and add more water if too dry.
2. knead mixture till it forms a soft but not sticky dough.
3. Let rest for 15 minutes covered with plastic to prevent drying out.
4. Using a pasta rolling machine, roll out long sheets, then cut into desired lengths and shapes. (I made wide ribbons)
5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, it will cook in less then a minute, drain water and its ready for sauce.

While the pasta was resting I put together the sauce using 4 freshly diced roma tomatoes, 3 cloves of sliced garlic, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, a dash of crushed chili flakes and salt. Brown garlic in olive oil, then add the rest of the ingredients, simmer for a few minutes, check seasoning and its done.

Braised pork soft taco's

I eat very healthy most of the time, but every once in a while I cook a nice piece of fatty pork for tacos. I start with a five pound pork butt that has been seasoned well with a dry rub of ground cumin, red chili powder, kosher salt and fresh pepper. Place in a hot braising pan with a little vegetable oil and brown well on all sides, then add water or chicken stock about half way up the side of the pork, bring to a boil then turn heat down to a simmer, cover and cook for around 2-3 hours untill very tender. Remove pork from brasing liquid (save the liquid for another use) and by using two forks, shred the meat. It is now ready to eat or it can be made crispy by placeing in a hot non stick pan and frying. To assemble: heat your choice of corn or flour tortillas on a hot pan, place a heaping spoon of the shredded pork on the tortilla, then add the fresh corn salsa. (from previous post) I always add diced avocado and extra chopped cilantro, enjoy.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Fresh grilled corn salsa

I like this fresh corn salsa when I feel like a sauce other then the traditional tomato salsa. All the ingredients are lightly grilled for a smokey flavor yet still crunchy. When corn is in season you have to try it.

3 ears white or yellow corn
2 jalapeno peppers
1 roma tomato
1 small yellow onion
1/2 bunched chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
dash of kosher salt and pepper

1. Preheat gas or charcoal grill.
2. Lightly grill the corn, peppers, onion and tomato.
3. Slice corn off cob, dice the tomato, seeded jalapeno and onion.
4. Mix all of ingredents in bowl, taste for seasoning.

Roasted cherry tomato sauce

This is a nice rustic sauce that I used at a Spanish tapas restaurant in San Francisco many years ago. I still like to make it in summer when tomatoes are at there best. It is very easy to make and with only a few quality ingredients.

1 basket organic cherry tomato
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 dash kosher salt
1 pinch crushed chili peppers

1. Preheat oven broiler.
2.Toss all ingredients together.
3. place in saute pan and put under broiler.
4. Cook for about 5 minutes till slightly charred.

Serve at room temperture with grilled meats and fish or as a sauce for pastas

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Stuffed squash blossoms

My mom came over to visit and brought me a bunch of beautiful squash blossoms from her local farmers market. The best why to use these is to stuff them and fry in oil till crisp and golden. I would love to do a potato-salt cod filling, but I trip to the Molinari deli in North beach for the salt cod is not going to happen today, instead I will do a simple herb rice and cheese filling. Lightly dust with flour and fry in hot oil till golden, drain on paper towels. I did a roasted organic cherry tomato sauce with just olive oil and salt. You will only find squash blossoms in the summer season and at your local farmers markets, buy them now if you can find them, they will only be around for a little while longer.

12 fresh squash blossoms
1/2 cup white rice
1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs (parsley, thyme)
2 clove garlic chopped
1/2 small onion diced
olive oil
1 cup diced cheese ( I used feta)
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups trans fat free vegetable oil for frying

1. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil, add the rice.
2. Continue to cook the rice for a few minutes, add the stock
3. Cover and simmer till done (about 15 minutes) allow to cool, add cheese and herbs, mix well, taste for proper seasoning and adjust if necessary.
4. Wipe each blossom with a damp towel to clean, check inside for bugs.
5. Place a heaping tablespoon of the rice mixture in each blossom.
6. Dust with all purpose flour and carefully place in the preheated vegetable oil (325F)
7. Fry till golden brown and carefully remove with tongs then drain on paper towels.

Artichoke risotto

This was my first home grown artichoke, I bought a plant which is somewhat rare to find and it grew well enough to produce a few nice artichokes. The next thing was what to make with them. Steamed whole and served cold with a garlic aioli dipping sauce? maybe stuffed with chopped garlic, herbs, bread crumbs and olive oil then baked till tender? I think I will make a risotto with aromatic diced vegetables, prosciutto ham and Parmesan cheese.
1 cleaned diced artichoke
1 celery rib, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup arborio rice
2 slices prosciutto ham
1 dash grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups water or stock
1. Saute all vegetables in olive oil, add the arborio rice.
2. Slowly add seasoned water or chicken stock a little at a time, waiting till liquid is absored before adding the next bit of stock.
3. When rice is tender and creamy add the ham and cheese, check seasoning, serve immediately.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Small bites with big Greek flavors

Did a lot of cooking at the restaurant today, so cooking a big meal at home was not a option. Here is a quick saute of spinach and diced garlic in a touch of olive oil, then its topped with slices of good quality Greek feta cheese, fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and fresh cracked pepper. A delicious light bite in five minutes. Great warm or at room temperature as a first course.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bulgar Wheat Tabbouleh

A favorite grain of mine that I eat a lot is Bulgar. It is a wheat kernel that have been steamed, dried and then crushed. Its a popular staple in middle eastern cooking. Its very easy to prepare since it has already been cooked, just add one part Bulgar to one part boiling salted water, turn off heat and cover, after about ten minutes its done. It can be as a side or in salads. For the classic Greek tabbouleh salad just add fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and lot of chopped parsley to the cooked grains. I like to add toasted almonds also for there texture and nutty flavor.

Monday, June 25, 2007

San Diego Dining

Just back from a weekend of sailing in San Diego. Great city with a casual beach attitude, its not known as a food city but with any US-Mexico border town its all about eating Mexican food as much as possible. Now you can always find good Mexican food all over California, but In San Diego its a way of life along with the sun and the beach. The popular fish taco has become the signature item in San Diego, maybe due to its origins in Baja California. I like going to the local taco shops, which many are open 24 hours.
At restaurants you first choose your meat, beef carne asada, grilled chicken, pork carnitas, etc. Then how do you want to eat it? in a taco? will it be soft, crispy or rolled. Maybe in a burritos dry or "wet" with a spicy chili sauce. There are many options on the menus, just don't forget your hot sauce before you walk down to the beach and watch the sunset.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Carrot Salad, Moroccan Style

Its getting hot now and a good time for a salad. I had everything in house for this, so it was easy. Shave peeled carrots, mix with a little lemon juice, Cinnamon, dash of honey, cumin, chopped cilantro, kosher salt, pepper and a light olive oil.Mix well and serve, toasted almonds would be nice in this salad also.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Crispy Pacific Seared Salmon

I am just back from a beautiful sail out to sea today and I was inspired by the many fishing boats I saw off of San Francisco. tonight I will cook seafood, I naturally choose to cook the local favorite, wild king salmon. Next to the dungeness crab, when the wild local salmon hits the market, its the thing to cook. I like to do it as simple as possible with just a few ingredients, I belive that when you have perfect ingredents that you should be able to taste them. Tonight I will do a sweet pea risotto to serve along side the salmon. There is a lot of nice flavors and textures as well as the bright colors of the ingredients. Few ingredients means fast preparation and cooking, for the salmon just a little kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to season. Then place into a smoking hot pan with just a touch of olive oil, cook till flesh is a crispy brown then flip over to finish, place fish fillet on plate with risotto then if you wish maybe a squeeze of fresh lemon, a glass of Napa Chardonnay will help complete the meal, enjoy.