Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Posole

Posole soup is a Christmas tradition in Mexico and at my house too. All of my favorite Latin flavors in one big bowl, braised chicken, chili peppers, hominy, avocado and fresh cilantro. It is very easy to make and everyone can garnish there own soup with a choice of there favorite condiments like crispy fried tortillas, diced avocado and jalapenos.

2 whole chicken legs, skin removed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 quart water
2 cups canned hominy, drained
Salt to taste

1. In a heavy pot saute the onion and garlic in a dash of vegetable oil.
2. Add the chili powder and saute one minute more.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for one hour.
4. Remove chicken legs and remove meat from bones, return to soup.
5. Check seasonings and adjust if necessary, ladle into preheated bowls.

To serve: have small bowls of fried tortillas strips, diced jalapenos, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, hot sauce available for guests to add to there soups.
Yield= 4

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chilaquiles for breakfast

Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish often served as breakfast, it is a basic one pan scramble of corn tortillas, salsa, eggs and cheese. other ingredients can be added such as beans or chicken. I like it spicy with a lot of hot sauce, avocado and chopped cilantro.

1 chicken leg, cooked and shredded
2 corn tortillas, torn into large pieces 2 ounce enchilada sauce or salsa
1 whole egg
1 pinch shredded cheese
1/2 yellow onion, sliced thin
chopped cilantro

1. Saute the chicken, onions and tortilla's in a dash of oil.

2. Add the egg and scramble, when cooked add the sauce and the cheese.

3. Plate and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Yield= 1 Options: chorizo sausage, avocado, roasted chili peppers

Monday, December 22, 2008

Duck Ragu with Creamy Polenta

With the cold and rainy weather of this season, a comforting bowl of creamy polenta and tomato stewed duck sounds good. A brasied and shredded duck leg was added to sliced onions, garlic and tomatoes and after a hour of slow simmering it was spooned over creamy polenta, grated parmeasn can be added if desired.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Smoked Salmon on Potato Blini

I made a nice hor d'oeuvre of smoked salmon on a potato blini finished with a dollop of creme fresh and chives. They are fairly simple to make and good for the holiday parties. If they are made a little bigger they would make a nice first course or they can have the addition of caviar and be served with a glass of good champagne.

Potato blini
1/2 cup cooked and mashed russet potatoes
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 whole egg
1/4 cup flour
dash kosher salt
whole milk as needed

1. In a bowl mix all ingredients with a wire whisk.
2. Add milk to mixture till it becomes a thin smooth batter.
3. Ladle one ounce of batter per pancake on a hot greased non stick pan.
4. When they start to dry on the edges, flip and finish cooking.
5. Assemble with smoked salmon, a dollop of creme fresh and a sprinkle of chopped chives.

Note: store bought smoked salmon can be used, sour cream can be used instead of creme fresh.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pappardelle Pasta with Slow Brasied Pork

Nothing like a pot simmering on the stove during a cold winter day, I made a variation of the Italian classic, Pappardelle with wild boar. You just don't find wild boar to much in the market so I used domestic pork. The cubed pork is browned then slowly simmered in red wine and tomatoes till it is so tender that it falls apart, a basic fresh herb pasta is made and the pasta sheets are hand cut into thick ribbons which are cooked, drained then tossed in butter, to finish Parmesan cheese is grated and added. Its ready to eat in front of a warm fireplace with a nice glass of red wine.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Chicken and Bacon Hash with Avocado

I could eat this for breakfast every weekend, crispy diced potatoes fried in smoky bacon fat and tossed with chicken and onions, topped with rich and creamy avocado. Maybe with a fried egg and definitely a big splash of hot sauce. Can't wait till the weekend!

Asian Comfort in a Bowl

My young daughter was not feeling well today so I had the idea of making a chicken soup with won ton dumplings. I made a quick trip to the Clement street China town in San Francisco on the way home from work, I was lucky to find a parking space right in front of the New May Wah market. This store has everything and at good prices too. I had some of the ingredients at home so all I needed were a couple of chicken backs for the soup stock a chicken breast and a pack of won ton wrappers for the dumplings. With bags in the car and driving North over the Golden Gate bridge it is time to cook.

2 chicken backs
1 knob ginger, crushed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stalk lemon grass, crushed
2 carrots, rough chop
2 quarts water
2 stalks celery, rough chop
1 chicken breast, boneless and skinless
1 dash soy sauce
1 Tablespoon fine sliced scallions
1 egg
Salt to taste

1. Make the soup broth with the chicken backs, 2 cloves garlic, half the ginger, celery, carrot, soy sauce, two quarts water.
2. Bring to a simmer and cook for an hour, check for seasoning and strain into another pot, keep at a simmer.
3. While the broth is cooking, make the won tons. In a food processor put the egg, chicken breast, one clove garlic, the other half of ginger, salt.
4. Pulse the chicken mixture till smooth.
5. Lay out the won ton wrappers and place a teaspoon on the chicken mixture in center of each wrapper, wet edge with water moistened finger and gather up the edges to make a dumpling.
6. To cook: add the dumplings to the simmering broth and cook for about five minutes, divide the broth and dumplings into bowls and garnish with the scallions.

Yield = 4 servings

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hot Chicken Sandwiches

There a lot of options on using leftovers from big holiday meals, I already cooked crispy bacon and chicken hash for breakfast this morning, now its lunch time and I had another idea, hot chicken sandwiches, First I toasted dinner rolls that were split in half, then I reheated some sliced chicken in the gravy, the hot chicken goes on the rolls then gravy gets poured all over.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Duck, Southwest Style

When chicken gets boring, give duck a try. I marinated duck breasts in fresh lime juice, garlic and chili powder for a few hours, then I scored the skin to help in rendering the fat when cooking, the breasts go skin side down into a saute pan with a low flame, after about twenty minutes of slow cooking I drain off the fat (save for another use, its very flavorful) I turn up the heat to crisp the skin, then flip over the breasts to finish cooking. I served the duck breast sliced and fanned out on a bed of slow braised black beans and with a dollop of fresh made guacamole. All I need are warm tortillas to make some duck tacos and you don't want to forget the hot sauce.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Flavors of Puerto Rico in Marin County

There is a popular Puerto Rican restaurant called "Sol Food"located in San Rafael, California, it started as a very small restaurant and a few years later a second bigger location opened up down the street. Its a Cool and funky place with lots of tropical plants and a neon lime green building that's hard to miss. The food is classic Puerto Rican with lots of slow simmered beans, rice, grilled meats and the famous fried plantains, which are served either sweet or with garlic and salt. Be sure to try the house made hot sauce, its so good they sell it.
Sol Food, 732 Fourth Street or 901 Lincoln Ave, San Rafael, California

Country Style Lentils with Sausage

The calender says its winter but kind of hard to believe when its so nice out, anyway in keeping with winter style meals I choose to make stewed lentils with sausage. I started with finely diced onion, celery and carrots sauteed with bacon and garlic, then I added lentils and chicken stock to cover, I simmered the vegetables and lentils till tender. With the lentils cooking I browned whole link edsausage and finish cooking them in the lentil stew. Check for seasoning and its done. I will make this again when its really cold out then it will be true comfort food.

Brussel Sprouts with Smoked Bacon

A lot of people don't like brussel sprouts because they have somewhat of a strong flavor. I have found that if you treat them like you would cabbage then you might like them better and bacon helps everything! I start by taking the sprouts and shaving them into thin slices using a mandolin, they can also be grated by using a box grater. Next saute thick slices of smoked bacon with sliced onions and garlic, when the bacon and onions are browned and the fat is rendered, add the brussel sprouts and saute till wilted and cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste and maybe add a splash of good balsamic vinegar to give a little sweetness and acidity. Give it a shot, I am sure that you will really like them.

Farmers Market BBQ Oyster's

I took a trip to the Marin County Sunday farmers market today and being a few days till the big thanksgiving holiday it was packed with people shopping for food. I found some nice Brussel sprouts from a farm in the half moon bay area (I will post a idea and recipe for those) At the market there was a huge tent of local seafood on ice, they had a big gas grill to BBQ oysters. Three large oysters for five dollars sounded like a great deal to me.They were simply cooked till they popped open and then basted with chopped fresh garlic and butter, chopped green onions were sprinkled on top to finish. they were really good with a splash of hot sauce.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Holiday Trial Run

I was thinking about what to do for dinner the other night, I knew I had a loaf of good quality bread at home to use up. I came up with doing a roasted double chicken breast filled with a basic bread and sausage stuffing. I served this with a side of roasted then mashed sweet potatoes. The first thing to do was to cube the bread and toast it in the oven, while this was going on, I diced garlic, celery and onion and lightly cooked it with a crumbled mild Italian sausage. The vegetable mixture was then mixed with the toasted bread cubes and fresh chopped rosemary. The chicken was place skin side down and the stuffing was spread down the center. Then the breast was rolled up and tied with heavy kitchen string, olive oil, salt and pepper all over and then into a preheated 350F oven, Cooked till the chicken reached a internal temperature of 175F. The chicken will take about 30-40 minutes to cook. For the sweet potato mash I took whole roasted sweet potatoes mixed with boiled russet potatoes which were mashed together and kept them warm. When the chicken is done, I placed it on a plate covered with foil to rest before cutting, at this time I make a simple sauce with the pan drippings, a dash of flour and a splash of white wine, I spooned this over the sliced chicken breast and the sweet potatoes.

Sunday Afternoon at the Races

When its a warm 80 degrees and the race track has one dollar admission, beers and hot dogs then its the place to be.Its not even close to four star dining, but the price is right and maybe a lucky horse pick will put those few dollars back in your pocket.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Indian Spiced Pork Tenderloin

I bought a pork tenderloin with the idea of doing some kind of Indian flavor with it, I used a Indian curry rub which I brushed on the piece of cleaned and trimmed pork. I let the pork marinate and absorb the rub flavors for a little while. During this time I roasted whole sweet potatoes in a hot oven. Next I slowly braised garbanzo beans with garlic and sliced onions till tender. To cook the pork I put it in a hot pan with olive oil to brown on all sides, then place in the oven to finish cooking. The sweet potatoes when cooked will peel very easy and are simply seasoned with salt and pepper, some chopped cilantro finishes the garbanzo beans and the pork is sliced and served.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A taste of Ethiopian Flavors

Photos: Sample platter of various brasied meats, Salads, Goat Cheese and Vegetables,
Ethiopian Harrar Brand Beer, Injera Bread, used for picking up food

My daughter had a dinner with her global studies class at a Oakland Ethiopian restaurant and I was lucky to join her. I don't recall ever eating food from that Country in Africa, so I jumped at the chance. The restaurant is called Addis and is considered one of the best and I have to agree. It has very friendly staff who were helpful with making choices. Our group decided the best way to eat is to just let them send out platters of food. To start we all ordered Ethiopian drinks to try, there were two kinds of Ethiopian beer, lager and stout. Full bodied with spice and a sweetness that everyone was not used to, next came a honey wine which was more like honey mead beer, it had a sweet apple taste with lots of spice. We felt that the sweet and spicy taste of the beer and wine compliments the food and was not to good on there own. When the food came to the table it was served on big pizza trays covered with a large flat bread. There were lots of different stewed lentils, potatoes, vegetables, chicken and beef, a small bowl of hot chili sauce on the side and a huge basket of a form of spongy pancake called Injera, This pancake was your knife and fork, tear a piece with your fingers and scoop up some of the food. The foods seemed very similar to Indian, but a lot milder. It was fun also to watch the kids eat with there hands, they did not get in trouble for this because the parents were eating the same way.

Addis restaurant, 6100 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, Ca, 94609 510.653.3456

All fresh and all good

At my house pizza and pasta dominate whats for dinner. My Kitchen-aid stand mixer makes fresh dough and the baking stone in the oven give us the best fresh pizza, now with new pasta dough attachments for the same mixer, its very easy to make fresh pasta now. To test out the dough attachments I made a basic fettuccine pasta and a simple fresh tomato sauce to go with it. It was simple and really good. Next I will have to get a cow to make my own cheese.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Posole Soup

This Mexican soup is common around Christmas time, but I like it all the time. I make it with chicken stock, sliced onions, dried chili peppers and garlic added to browned chunks of pork, after this simmers a few hours and becomes tender I add hominy. This ladled into big bowls and simply garnished to taste with diced avocado, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon or lime. It has the rich flavor of slow simmered pork and corn tortillas, which are made from the same treated corn that is hominy. Other additional options can include fried tortilla strips, crisp lettuce, diced red onions and diced jalapenos.

Monday, October 27, 2008


My kids have been begging for these for a while now, so with a burst of Saturday morning energy I made a small batch. Just three basic steps of making vanilla pastry cream for the filling, pate a choux as the crispy hollow pastry and the chocolate ganache sauce to dip them. When the shape of these pastries are round they are called profiteroles but if they are made into longer shapes then they are called eclairs. These are really good when dipped into caramel sauce also.

Pate a choux
1 cup water
3.5 oz butter
3/4 cup flour
4 whole eggs

1. Bring water and butter to a simmer, add flour and stir well.
2. after 2 minutes of stirring and cooking on low heat, start adding eggs on at a time off the heat.
3. When all eggs have been added, place mixture into a piping bag with a #8 tip (large)
4. Pipe out 30 round balls onto sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
5. Bake at 400F for 30 min then let dry out in the turned off oven.

They will be golden brown with hollow centers.

4 oz chopped dark chocolate
4 oz heavy cream
1. Bring cream to a bowl, add to chocolate.
2. After 2 minutes, stir till smooth.

Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or bean
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon butter

1. Bring the milk, sugar and vanilla to a boil.
2. Mix the corn starch with the egg, break up any lumps.
3. Add a splash of hot milk to egg mixture (tempering) then add the egg mixture back into the milk, while stirring.
4. When the mixture thickens take off the heat and stir in the butter, let cool and put in a piping bag with a small tip.

To assemble: stick the pastry cream tip into the pastry and careful fill with the pastry cream, then dip the tops in the chocolate ganache. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Duck legs for Winter

Winter is coming fast and with it are all the cold weather comfort meals, one of my favorites is slow braised duck legs, these are slowly cooked in wine, aromatic vegetables and fresh herbs. The legs take on all the rich flavors of the simmering liquid and become falling apart tender. The next step is to take the duck legs and put skin side down in a non stick pan to crisp up the skin, while this is going on the vegetables are removed from the broth and reserved, the stock is strained and simmered till reduced to a sauce consistency. Arrange the duck with the vegetables on a platter and spoon the sauce over the crispy skinned duck legs.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Back to School in New York

Culinary Institue of America, Hyde Park, New York

Pork Tenderloin Roulade Canape

Tea Smoked Prawn & Orange Salad

Country Style Terrine with Fennel, Watercress & Apple Salad, Red Onion Confiture in Apple

After many months of studying for my Professional chef certification test, I made the trip to upstate New York to attend the famous Culinary Institute of America. I have always heard about its reputation as a leading culinary school, but I never have seen it. Its campus is beautiful and right on the Hudson river with all the trees turning the fall colors of red and gold. The test was a series of written and practical tests over the course of four long days, it was hard enough cooking in a new kitchen and learning where all the equipment was, but having master chefs standing behind you watching every move and taking notes, sometimes a little stressful. They were very fair in there evaluations and could find any flaw, any egos the testing chefs had were quickly deflated.We all did well and are glad at the same time that for now testing is over, the word is we will be back in a year for the pro chef III certification.

Friday, October 03, 2008

All the Nutrition without the Calories

One of the proficiency's of my upcoming chef exam is mastering healthy cuisine. We are given nutritional guideline's and have to come up with a three course menu that falls with in the guideline's, it makes you rethink every ingredient and cooking method. Low in fat but high in flavor and chock full of nutrients. For me it was easy because I eat pretty well and have experience cooking for cardiac patients. I choose a region and style of cooking that is normally low in fat to start with, the Mediterranean. For my main course a took a 4 ounce skinless chicken breast and pounded it flat then spread a pure of green olives, garlic and parsley, rolled it up and saute in a non stick pan to cut down on cooking fats. Steamed spinach and Bulgar wheat with a stewed tomato and saffron sauce. The dish is flavorful, colorful and only 323 calories.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Country Style Pate

I have been very deep in my studies and also practicing cooking different required foods for my upcoming professional chef certification test in New York. One of the items required, is to do a classic terrine, the catch is that we won't be told what type of meat that we will use till the last minute, so its hard to practice for this. Anyway just to get used to cooking it, I chose a country style terrine with pistachios and wild mushrooms. For most cooks this is considered "old school" and we don't see or do much of this kind of cooking anymore. For me its been about 20 years since I did it last. Then you make it you realize why its not too popular anymore, it is around 75% pure fat! Anyway I was happy with my first attempt and feel more confident about doing it in New York. I made a red onion "jam" to go with it, the sweet and sour flavors work well with the fatty meat.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Duck Sausage & Chantrelle Mushroom Pizza

I had the idea of making pizza tonight after a long week of work, my game plan was to use some chantrelles I have at home. Pizza on a Friday night meant that I was going to have to stop at the local store for a bottle of wine to go with it. I didn't need anything from the meat department but I stopped and talked shop with the butchers, one of the guys has been experimenting with making different sausages to sell. He wanted my opinion and gave me a few to take home and try, one was made with duck meat and the other was a classic pork bratwurst. I poached the sausages and sliced them to go on top of the pizza along with shredded mozzarella cheese, chantrelles and caramelized onions. The pizza turned out great and the duck sausage was my favorite. It turned out to be the first rainy night of the upcoming winter and the sausage and mushrooms fit right in with the cool weather.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Houston Texas food prowl

I was sent to Houston Texas for a few days of studying and practicing for a upcoming chef certification in New York. What I like to do when I travel to a new region is experience the many foods and styles of the area. The problem with this trip was the major hurricane Ike which was due to hit in a day or two, the whole town was shutting down and boarding up. So there goes my chance to explore the foods of Texas. One cool thing that I witnessed was a plated lunch event for 1400 people, all the components of each plate were prepped and cooked by a kitchen staff numbering around 40. The cooked food was put in"hot boxes" (temperature controlled rolling boxes with racks inside) next they had conveyor tables where plates were fed on one end and rolled across the belt as the cooks would place the ingredients on the plates, next covers were placed on plates and then they are loaded into more hot boxes to be wheeled outside of the meeting room where waitstaff deliver them to the table. The two conveyor tables were able to do the 1400 people in about 2 hours. This was not considered a big event, over 5000 starts getting big. It was cool to watch and learn how to do the big numbers and I was lucky to get a flight out of town the morning before the hurricane hit.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Slow Food Event

The first ever U.S. Slow Food event came to San Francisco this weekend with perfect weather. The main event was held in a large hall at Fort Mason, thousands of foodies ready to sample everything. Some of the highlights were over tastes of 600 wines and 100 beers available, wood burning ovens cooking pizza and Indian flatbreads, local cheese & seafood samples. It was a good opportunity to talk to the growers and producers about there products. These simple quality made and grown foods are what California cuisine is all about.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Slow Food San Francisco

I have been driving past San Francisco's city hall for years as I come and go to work, recently I saw a unusual project going on, trucks were dumping tons of soil and building a low wooden fence around it. Next week came planting in what turned out to be a large urban vegetable garden for San Francisco's slow food event. Slow food nation as its called was started in Italy in protest to a McDonald's that opened at the famous Spanish steps, its cause is to get back to real cooking and eating and doing away with fast food and a hurried eating lifestyle. It sounds good to me, for more information check out

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer salad

I found everything for this colorful and delicious salad from the local farmers market. Yellow wax and green beans, ripe tomatoes, Sonoma goat cheese and fresh made basil pesto. I used a simple sherry vinaigrette along with the basil pesto to dress the salad. I tossed in some of my home grown arugula for added for flavor too.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Roast Chicken at the farmers market

If you have ever been to any of the local farmers mark
ets here in the San Francisco bay area then you would have experienced the fragrant smell of rosemary and garlic marinated roast chickens, then you would see the line of people waiting to get these amazing birds. Get in line with the other people, you will want one. They turn slowly on a huge truck mounted rotisserie, golden brown and crispy, ready to be carved to order,.full,half or quarter birds are available. The side dish of roast potatoes can't be missed and these are cooked under the chickens in all the herb scented fat dripping off the birds. Try the chicken and potatoes and maybe get some fresh berries from a nearby vendor for dessert.

farmers market

We are at the end of our summer and also the hottest time of the season, this perfect for ripening all the Summer fruits and vegetables. The display of all the amazing Summer produce is huge at local farmers markets. Some of the highlights now are all the different tomato varieties. Fresh basil is always displayed next to the tomatoes. Stone fruits such as peaches and plums are also here and at the peak of there season. Now is the time you should buy and eat these foods because winter is coming fast.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Vietnamese Style Grilled Squid

I did a quick road trip to my mom's house nearby where my Brother and his Wife were visiting. It seems everything centers on the evening meal and there is somewhat of a tradition to cook some kind of exotic food in addition to our regular meal. On the way to the house I stopped at a local Asian market and purchased three pounds of fresh squid and some other key ingredients I would need to make this Asian inspired dish. Give it a try, its really good on a hot summer night.
3 pounds squid, cleaned**
1 big splash fish sauce*
1 small knob peeled ginger
2 cloves garlic
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro
1/4 bunch fresh mint
1 dash soy sauce
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon spicy chili paste*
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar*
1.Blend all ingredients till smooth in a food processor, it should be a balance of sweet and sour, spicy yet cool. Use a little of the sauce to quickly marinate the cleaned squid before cooking.
2. Prepare a hot fire and preheat the grill before adding the squid.
3. The tentacle's are easy to cook when skewered, place skewers on grill, after about a minute flip and do the other side, repeat with the body tubes, do not over cook or they will become tough and rubbery.
4. Toss squid in sauce and serve, garnish with sliced lime, chopped cilantro and peanuts.
Yield= 4-6 small plates
* Available at Asian markets
** To clean squid: Cut the tentacles off just in front of the eyes, next starting at the tip, use the back of a knife to push all the insides and head out of the tube, the tube can be left whole or cut into rings, wash all parts well and they are ready to cook.