Sunday, March 30, 2008

Farmers Market Rock Snapper

Red Rock Pacific Snapper

Sunday farmers market is the biggest one of the week in Marin County, half of the people are serious shoppers that have come for a weeks worth of fruits and vegetables, the other half come for the social aspect and will bring all the kids, lattes for the adults and maybe sweet filled crepes for the kids in between pony rides and going on the huge inflatable jumpers. My kids were not with me today at the market so I was in and out. First step is to walk up and down every row to get a idea on what is available while noting the different prices, next is to go back and get what I want from the vendors that had the lowest price for that item. The best trick is to go at closing time where prices are slashed because the farmers would rather sell it cheap then pack it up, the only risk is some popular items might be gone. Seafood stalls at the market are getting bigger now with a lot of variety, there is one that stocks more fish then the best markets in town, the red rock snappers were telling me to take me home, so I picked the nicest looking one. I have a idea of stuffing it with citrus and herbs and roasting it whole. First I scaled and gutted the fish, then made deep cuts into the flesh to aid in cooking and allowing flavors to penetrate, I seasoned inside and out with kosher salt, black pepper and fennel seeds, then stuffed the cavity with fresh picked parsley, oregano, sliced lemon and garlic. Next a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and into a preheated 400F oven for about 20 minutes. The meat will just flake off the bones and will be very flavorful and moist.

Stuffed with Herbs and ready to Roast and the finished Snapper right out of the oven

Friday, March 28, 2008

Biscotti Cookies

I was at the market doing some shopping for dinner with the kids and ran across a huge assortment of different plain and flavored biscotti, a idea of making some popped into my head. I was thinking doing a traditional one of citrus zest and almonds. I had just about everything except the almonds so this was going to be easy. Biscotti translates into "twice baked" the cookie is shaped into a long flat log that is cooked, then it is cut into long thin slices that are cooked again till golden and slightly crisp which is perfect for dunking into coffee or hot chocolate which the kids are going to do.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lamb Tagine

Being close to the Easter holiday, lamb is the meat of choice. With the idea of doing something with lamb, I choose to do a tagine which takes its name from the dome shaped clay cooking vessel. I cut boneless lamb into large pieces then browned them in a saute pan, then transferred to a braising pan, next onions and garlic were browned and added to the pot, also cumin, saffron, raisins, green olives and a little water. covered and into the oven for three hours at 350F, when tender the thickened lamb stew is spooned over steamed cous cous.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Simple Pasta

I guess doing a ten hour shift was not enough cooking for me today, so I make pasta from scratch! First basic pasta dough is rolled out thin and cut into wide strips, I do the same with green and yellow zucchini, then I blanch in salted water the pasta and vegetables, then into ice water to stop the cooking, drain well. Next I saute sliced shallots in a little olive oil and butter. Next add the pasta and vegetables, toss gently and when hot its time to plate. Shaved cheese on mine and its done. Light and healthy.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring is so close you can taste it

First of Spring Asparagus

Fennel seed crusted Black Cod Fillet with Black Forbidden Rice

After a winter of somewhat boring fruits and vegetables, Spring is coming and some of my favorite vegetables arrive, like asparagus and artichokes. I picked up a bunch of first of the season asparagus at the local market and a fillet of black cod which looked really good. First I crushed the fennel seeds in a morter and dusted the Cod, then the fish goes into a hot oiled pan for a quick sear before going into the oven to finish cooking. The asparagus was sliced into bite sized pieces and quickly sauteed with sliced garlic and olive oil. Asian black forbidden rice was simply cooked with vegetable stock and everything came together on the plate. With a big batch of fresh Salsa Verde on hand, this naturaly became the sauce for the fish, it was really good to have fresh asparagus again and the cod was very moist, flaky and tender. I'm ready to cook more.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Taco Craving

Pork Carnitas Burrito with plenty of hot sauce

London has its pubs with fish & chips, we here in California have Taqueria's (taco shops) They are found everywhere, ask anyone and they will tell you there favorite place. I tend to stay away from all chain Mexican restaurants, I don't do sour cream! I like to go where English is the second language and you will find huge jars of pickled jalapeno peppers and carrots for you to spice up your food, Mexican music blaring from the juke box. On weekends you will often find menudo on the menu (tripe stew) This last weekend I went to a local taqueria called "Picante" in San Rafael, Marin County. It was good and clean with lots of locals, which is always a good sign. It had the normal steam table filled with big vats of different rice, beans and meats. I got a burrito with crispy chunks of pork "carnitas" and no sour cream! a cold Tecate and I was all set.
I give it 3 out of 5 points

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pre Spring Parsley

Garden Fresh Parsley
Spring is very close and the weather has turned, its clear and getting warm now. Last summers herbs that re-seeded themselves are starting to grow and my parsley is doing really well. When I think of parsley I think of Salsa Verde (green sauce) It is the Italian green parsley sauce of parsley, capers, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. All ingredients go in a food processor or blender and its blended smooth. Tangy from the lemon juice with a lot of fresh herb flavor from the just picked parsley. I marinated a free range chicken breast in white wine, garlic, olive oil and lemon zest. Seared on a hot cast iron pan and finished in the oven along with a pan of Yukon gold potatoes and onions. When the chicken is done, its a dollop of Salsa Verde on top and dinner is served.

Blending Salsa Verde and the finished sauce on free range chicken breast

Monday, March 03, 2008

Local Vietnamese Restaurant

Pork Pot Stickers

If I have a choice I will always go in to the city to eat, more choices and most of the time better food then here North of the gate. I discovered a restaurant nearby that does a really good job serving Vietnamese food. My daughter and I go at least once a week, The owners know us now and bring out pot stickers first thing. Next the big steaming bowls of chicken pho which come with a plate of sliced jalapeno, sprouts, basil and cilantro. Hot chili sauce immediately goes into my bowl of soup. The name of the restaurant is La Maison de la Reine (the house of the queen) in Corte Madera, Marin County. Note: recent vists have shown me to only order the Pho soups, the rest of the food is fair quality and on one recent vist the dinner plates had to be returned three times because they were dirty, not a good sign, I think I will stick to Clement street restaurants next time.

Squid & Prawn Pho with side of sliced Jalapeno, Lime, Basil and Cilantro