Sunday, April 29, 2007

fresh charred tomato salsa

Its almost Cinco de Mayo which might as well be a state holiday here in California. Mexican food is very common here but Mexico's holiday is a good excuse to go all out with the food and drinks. My daughter is having a party in her schools Spanish class and she wants to make chips and salsa, no problem lets do it! The most common salsa is using a mixture of fresh chopped tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice, only we will grill the vegetables till they are charred and smoky then quickly blend the mixture so its still somewhat chunky.

15 Roma tomatoes
1/2 Red onion, skewered
1 Jalapeno peppers
1/2 cilantro bunch
juice of 2 limes
kosher salt/pepper
water to thin if necessary
optional: 1 dried Ancho chili pepper

1. Cut tomatoes and peeled onions in half, lightly oil and place on hot grill.
2. Cut stem off peppers and cut out seeds for a less spicy salsa, place on grill.
3. Turn vegetables on grill so all sides are charred black, remove and cool.
4. Lightly remove most of black charred skins and put in blender with lime juice, cilantro and seasonings.
5. Pulse the blender till smooth, thin with the water if its too thick, check seasonings and serve with the best chips you can buy or make them yourself!

Note: the salsa was later voted "best salsa" in the class Cinco de Mayo salsa contest

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Papaya, Tropical flavors right in your kitchen

When you come across a nice ripe fragrant papaya, buy it. You can use them for a lot of different recipes. Very good at breakfast in smoothies or with cereal, diced in a salad with chicken and a citrus dressing for lunch or the base of a tropical fruit salsa for grilled fish tacos. Sometimes simple is the best way with just a wedge of lime squeezed over it.There are many varieties around the world in different sizes and shapes, you can always use the papaya as your excuse to travel the world.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spring sweet pea risotto

I found these beautiful and fresh English peas at the local farmers market. I had to buy a big bag because most of the year only frozen peas are available, you have to jump on them when you see them. This simple classic risotto is a great way of using them and they will still retain there bright color and fresh flavor.

1 cup shelled fresh peas
dash olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
4 cups fresh made seasoned chicken stock, simmering
kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
half cup fresh shaved Parmesan cheese
1. Saute the rice and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes.
2. Slowly laddle stock into rice while stirring, wait for rice to absorb the stock before adding another laddle.
3. When last laddle goes into the rice add the peas, when the rice is creamy and tender it is ready to plate, check seasoning.
4. serve in pre-warmed plates with grated cheese sprinkled on top.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rain on the grill? no problem

If your food drys out while cooking on the grill, just do it in the rain. Just kidding, but the show must go on. When family from out of town and a rained out softball game forces a quick game plan. I turn to the grill (this also keeps the stove clean) The menu is simple Latin flavors like ancho chili-lime grilled chicken, a big pot of spicy black beans, Spanish style rice, plenty of hot sauce and warmed flour tortillas.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Nothing like fresh herbs

I have always grown the hardy herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage, but this year I planted parsley and cilantro from seed. They are growing really well and I am able to go outside and snip a bunch for what ever I am cooking. I am counting on them to reseed themselves for next years crop too.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Almost Summer grilled chicken skewers

I have looked at the cover on the outdoor grill all Winter long, I know it was not much of a Winter but I still had it covered. Anyway the cover is off and let the grilling begin. Over the weekend my Daughter and I bought some nice organic chicken from the local store and we discussed what we were going to make. I then remembered the long bamboo skewers in the kitchen drawer and I idea was born. We cut large cubes of the chicken and threaded on wet skewers. (so they won't burn) Then a quick marinate of fresh chopped rosemary, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. We then placed the skewers on the hot clean preheated grill and turned every few minutes until done. We served one skewer per person along with red skinned mashed potatoes.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Curried yellow split peas with rock snapper

This was a fast one pan dinner of garlic, onion, curry paste simmered with yellow split peas, then when tender rock snapper fillets were quickly poached in the peas. A note when buying fish, check the label after purchase, I didn't and was charged $22 for 8 ounces of the wrong fish, was it worth it the price? yes!

shellfish risotto

I had family in town from Maui, Hawaii recently and it was a opportunity to do my verison of some of my favorite local flavors. First I started with Acme crusty sourdough bread and with cowgirl creamery Red hawk cheese, then a classic Caesar salad with home made croutons and dressing, for the main course it was prawn, mussel, clam and dungeness crab "cioppino style" risotto. They loved it and vowed to make back home in Maui, I hope to be there when that happens.