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.