Saturday, June 28, 2008

Panzanella Salad

This simple salad with a Italian origin only has a few ingredients, but relays on using only the best quality tomatoes and Basil that are in season. The next component of the salad is using good local artisan bread and extra virgin olive oil. A good well stocked farmers market should have everything you need. Classically this bread uses day old stale bread, but why would you use old bread in a fresh salad?

fresh ripe tomatoes, rough cut (heirloom if possible)
Rustic artisan bread, cut into cubes
Sweet basil, rough chopped
Garlic clove, chopped
Sweet red onion, sliced thin
Extra virgin olive oil
Good quality vinegar (I am using Spanish sherry vinegar)
Sea salt/fresh cracked pepper

Mix all ingredients and let sit for awhile to let the flavors blend. Serve at room temperture.

Options can include: olives, parmeasan cheese, greens, white anchovies, grilled tuna, etc.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ahi Tuna Stuffed with Dungeness Crab Salad

I did a small lunch today and this was the First course. I took a 2 ounce piece of raw sushi grade ahi tuna and put it between two plastic sheets, then carefully pounded it thin and flat. Next I made a simple crab salad with 2 ounces fresh lump crab meat, grated ginger, chopped scallions, lime juice, olive oil, a dash of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar to balance out the lime. I placed the salad on one end of the tuna, next I topped it with diakon radish sprouts and rolled it up. That's it, ready to eat with a drizzle of soy sauce and ginger. I served a chilled Haricot vert and radish salad with it.

Note: The key to this dish is using fresh crab meat and the freshest quality tuna you can buy.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fresh Saffron Pasta

A decided on making a simple fresh pasta tonight using saffron, it will give a golden color as well flavor. Saffron needs to soak in a warm liquid to let the flavor and color steep out, very much like making a tea. Once you have this golden saffron water, you use it as the liquid in making pasta dough. Saffron is the stigma of the crocus flower and it takes about 14.000 flowers to make up a single ounce. A one ounce tin of Spanish saffron will set you back about $40-60 dollars depending on where you get it, I buy mine from a no frills Indian warehouse market in Berkley, California. Its the most expensive spice you can buy, but it will last you a long time and its good to have on hand for lots of recipes from around the world.
After rolling out the dough, I hand cut the sheets into wide ribbons and into boiling salted water. Only about a minute and its done. I made a quick saute of yellow onions, parsley, garlic, bacon and peas. Everything is carefully tossed together and its plate up time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thai Style Beef Salad

Next best thing to having steak and potatoes one night, is using the extra steak the second day. With a hot day today of 95 degrees, my first thought is to make a salad using the extra cooked beef. Maybe I will make a rustic style tomato, beef and bread salad? I choose instead to make a spicy Asian beef, crunchy vegetable and rice noodle salad. Here's how I did it.

the dressing:
1 inch knob grated ginger root
1 clove garlic
juice of one lime
1 t chili flakes
1 dash sugar
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 bunch cilantro
3 sprigs mint
1 dash fish sauce*
blend all ingredients till smooth

The salad:
1 peeled and shaved carrot
1 peeled and shaved cucumbers
1/2 package wide rice noodles* that have been soaked in hot water till soft, drained well
1 T chopped mint
1 T chopped basil
1 thin sliced jalapeno
1 pound Medium rare flank steak, chilled and sliced thin

Mix well with the dressing and arrange on a plate with the sliced beef on top, garnish with sliced green onions. Crunchy chopped peanuts would give good flavor and texture.
Serves 2-4 people
* Available at well stocked stores and Asian markets

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Meat & Potatoes My Way

It is not offen that I eat red meat, but sometimes you get a craving and you have to go with it. I chose beef flank steak for its flavor and texture and the price won't kill my bank account. To start I did a quick marinade of quality red wine vinegar, fresh garden rosemary, crushed garlic and extra virgin olive oil which the steak was placed in to absorb flavor. Yukon gold potatoes were cut and tossed with salt, pepper and olive oil, then into a 400F oven to roast. My favorite sauce for meat and fish is Salsa Verde, made with garden parsley, capers, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice which is blended smooth. It is a strong tangy sauce that is addicting. By this time the meat had gained flavor from the marinade and reached room temperature which will aid in cooking. No grill tonight, so the blazing hot broiler worked great to sear and brown the flank steak. When done to a nice medium rare and a quick rest, its time to slice thin and serve along with the sauce and potatoes.

Note: When meat comes off the heat, the internal juices are so hot they will boil out if the meat is cut right away, when the meat cools, the juices will reabsorb into the meat fibers and not flow out and cause the meat to be dry.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Dinner

Its June, warm and the kids are out of school, Summers here and its time to make warm weather foods. While doing the evening market stroll, I came across first of the season sweet white corn and golden chanterelle mushrooms for a good price. I had the idea of doing a salad using roasted chicken, chanterelles, corn and arugula with a simple dressing. I prepped and cooked all the individual ingredients and just tossed them together with the chicken on top of the salad as the center piece. I salad would be great on its own if you wanted to leave out the chicken. The addition of panchetta or smoky bacon would add nice flavor as well.

The Chicken:
organic deboned whole chicken legs
season with sea salt/fresh black pepper
Pan sear till golden brown and finish roasting 20-30 minutes in 400F oven

The salad:
Sweet white corn, shucked and briefly sauteed in olive oil
Golden chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced and quickly sauteed
Washed baby arugula

The Vinaigrette:
Sherry wine Vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt/fresh pepper
Whisk well

Roast red onions:
1 peeled red onion, sliced and sauteed in olive oil and a splash of quailty sherry vinegar.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Fresh Strawberries

Last year I planted strawberries for the kids to munch on, I was surprised that they made it through the winter and came back. The bush is full of big berries right now and I wish I planted more. I also feel good knowing that the kids can eat them because they are 100% organic.