Monday, May 26, 2008

Holiday Weekend Dinner

Its the holiday weekend and the official kick off to the summer season, Fire up the grill right? No this year its cloudy and cold with rain and fresh snow in the mountains. With the last breath of winter I decided on cold weather comfort food. Slow braised chicken legs with tomatoes and garlic over a pool of creamy soft polenta.

For the chicken:
2 organic whole chicken legs
1 t chopped rosemary
1 t chopped thyme
3 Roma tomatoes, large dice
5 cloves garlic
1 small onion, sliced
1 dash white wine
1 cup chicken stock
Kosher salt
fresh pepper

1. Season the chicken legs with salt/pepper and herbs, brown the legs in a pan with a dash of olive oil, add chopped tomatoes, garlic, stock and wine.
2. Cover pan and simmer for 45 minutes till tender.
3. Remove cover and reduce liquid till slightly thickened.

For the polenta:
3 cups chicken stock or water
Salt/pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring liquid to a simmer and slowly stir in polenta with a wire whisk to prevent lumps.
2. Slowly cook while stirring occasionally (about 20-30 minutes)
3. Stir in the cheese and check for proper seasoning, the cheese might give enough salt.
To serve: Spoon soft polenta on to plate, place one leg on top and spoon sauce over, can be garished with fresh chopped parsley.
Note: There is a lot of options to this recipe, try adding any of the following: chili flakes, capers, olives, fennel bulb, brocolini, wilted spinach, etc.... Any remaining polenta will get firm when cool and can be cut and grilled for other dishes.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Greek Style Eggplant

Did the common weeknight market stroll wondering what to make for dinner, when a perfect eggplant stood out and become the center piece of what was going on the plate. Olive oil drenched eggplant with green olives, feta cheese, fresh oregano and tomato was the plan. First the eggplant is sliced thick and salted with kosher salt to draw out what can be bitter juices. Next a quick saute with olive oil, then a scattering of olives, Greek feta cheese, parsley, oregano from the garden and a touch of Italian tomato paste. Served warm at room temperature all the flavors come through and its amazing! love this stuff. Give it a try as a side dish with grilled fish on a warm summer night.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Slovakia is a very common food in Greece and its neighboring countries, normally it is made up of chunks of marinated lamb that is skewered and grilled. I did a verison of this with large chunks of pork called "Souvlakia Hirina"marinated with red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, cumin, garlic, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, this was allowed to marinade for a few hours then threaded onto bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water to prevent burning. It was faster for me to broil these instead of firing up the grill. Basted with marinade as it cooked to a crispy brown. In addition to the meat I rolled out some bread dough and cooked these small rounds on the pizza stone to resemble pita bread, a simple Greek style cucumber and cherry tomato salad was made also. To go with the skewers a simple plain yogurt sauce was made with shredded cucumber, lemon juice and ground cumin. It all came together and was Delicious.

For the Souvlakia:
1 pound large diced pork
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 T dried oregano
1 T ground cumin
1 dash kosher salt
1 t ground cinnamon
4 crushed garlic cloves

Yogurt sauce:
1 cucumber, shredded
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped parsley
dash lemon juice
1 crushed garlic clove
ground pepper

Friday, May 16, 2008

Citrus Trees

It is always good to have a few citrus trees in your backyard. The juice and zest from orange, lemon and limes is very usefull in cooking as while as in making a varity of drinks. I have a meyer lemon and a kaffir lime tree in my back yard, its great to be able to go outside and grab citrus when you need it. The kaffir lime is not very common here in California, but it grows well because of the warm weather. Its use is mainly the leafs of the tree. The leaves are very fragrant and used in Southeast Asian cuisine. If you ever had a Thai coconut curry then you will have tasted it, it is a addicting flavor and I'm glad I have a tree close by. Look for the leaves in the frozen section of good Asian markets.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I was watching a cooking show on cable with my daughter and the chef was making potato gnocchi, we looked at each other and said "lets make it". Gnocchi are small potato dumplings from Italy. The process is a lot like making pasta, but using cooked potato along with the flour and eggs. Start with whole unpeeled russet potatoes and simmered in water till tender about 45 minutes, remove and drain, while still hot, peel skins and pass through a potato ricer, allow to cool. Place potatoes on work surface and make a well in the center. Next add whole egg, salt and sprinkle the flour over the potatoes, gently knead the dough till it comes together into a ball. Cut into smaller chunks and roll these into long one inch thick pieces. Cut these into one inch pieces, dust with flour to keep them from sticking to each other. Using the back of a fork, press and roll to give it little ridges. These ridges will help hold the sauce. At this point you simply cook in simmering salted water til they float to the surface, remove with a slotted spoon and toss with your favorite sauce or cool down in ice water to save for later. Make a big batch because they freeze well too. Try adding fresh chopped herbs such as basil when making the dough.
3 pounds russet potatoes
1 whole egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Yield = 4 entree or 8 appetizer