Tuesday, July 29, 2008

King Salmon BLT Sandwich

A variation of the classic using local king salmon. Simply grilled salmon fillet, crisp smoky bacon, tomato and lettuce. One of the many ways to eat Salmon and a good one at that.

Baby Arugula

I have never grown any kind of lettuce or greens before and on a whim I decided to try and grow arugula which has become a very popular lettuce. Arugula is also known as rocket, maybe for its pointed shape? It has a strong, peppery and spicy flavor, because of this its used more of a flavoring then by itself where it would over power the other ingredients. My seeds sprouted and were fast to grow, now only a few inches tall. Bright green and very flavorful. I wanted to pair this strong spicy flavor with something sweet to balance the flavor, I roasted nectarine's and red onions with honey and sherry vinegar till soft and caramelized, then tossed with the arugula to make a simple summer salad.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Alaskan Halibut

King Salmon from Alaska is the prize fish here, but the Halibut is king too. I ate more halibut then salmon on this trip and that's fine because it was so fresh and Delicious. They can be massive fish weighing over 400 pounds, the younger smaller ones are much better for eating, being more tender. I had the chance to go fishing on glacier bay with a retired fishing guide on his boat, we fished in a area called icy strait. It is the main body of water that connects the Pacific ocean with Glacier bay, rich in sea life and the summer feeding grounds for humpback whales. We dropped anchor in a one hundred feet of water and baited our huge hooks with dinner sized chunks of salmon. When the baited hook reached the bottom it was only a few minutes before a fish was hooked, a quick fight and the first fish weighing around 25 pounds was in the boat, one more halibut tipping the scale at 40 pounds was caught and it was time to head back in. The fish were quickly cleaned on the boat into long fillets which were later cut into eight ounce fillets. To cook the halibut I choose to do bold Mediterranean flavors with this mild and very fresh fish, pan seared a golden brown and finished in the oven, I made a quick pan sauce of browned butter, capers, chopped garlic and parsley. I placed the fish on bed of sauteed cauliflower, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cioppino, Glacier Bay Style

Being from San Francisco, its not hard to think of how to serve fresh dungeness crab, But when in Glacier Bay Alaska and we are pulling crabs out of the water, this was my first, but not last way of serving them. Cioppino the classic San Francisco seafood stew of crab and shellfish in a garlic tomato broth. In Alaska I used fresh bay crab, halibut, salmon, scallops and prawns with a saffron garlic and tomato broth. The stew is made by quickly steaming the crab for 15 minutes then cleaning and cracking all the legs to let the broth flavors penetrate, next chopped garlic is sauteed in olive oil, all fish and shellfish are added, next a splash of white wine for the stew and for my glass. Saffron and chopped tomatoes are added, the stew simmers till everything is cooked and then spooned into bowls with a pinch of chopped herbs on top. Crusty rustic bread is very good for dipping into the broth.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Alaska Adventure, Part 2

I have been here over a week now and a veteran of numerous whale watching dinner cruises, the whales continue to put on a great show for the guests on board. Getting used to life in the forrest and the lack of a dark night. Food wise there is a good side and a bad side to being in Alaska, the plus is the amazing ingredients, the minus is getting those ingredients! Since there is not any roads to where we are, everything is brought in by barge or air taxi (the same one I flew in on) Tonight's fresh salmon was delayed in getting here because the air taxi wanted a full paying fare for the seat instead of my ice chest with king salmon. The salmon made it later in the evening and I hope the passenger didn't have to wait if he or she ordered for dinner. I was just told yesterday by a chef here, that almost every bush in the Forrest is wild blue berry, guess whats on the dessert menu tonight? Will post photos on a later date, there is not a way to download now, to be continued.....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cooking in Alaska

I am currently doing a two week cooking stint at a remote rustic lodge in Glacier Bay, Alaska. The trip getting here was a long journey and used progressively smaller airplanes, I thought I might have had to help fly the last one, it was that small.
I have never been to Alaska before and I am very impressed, its a big and beautiful state with very clean and unspoiled wilderness. The natural ingredients here are the big draw with wild king salmon, dungeness crab, halibut and wild berries being very popular. It will be fun cooking and experimenting with these ingredients and the ideas and photos will be posted soon.

My adventure here started only two hours after I arrived, my first job was to cook on the lodge boat. We went out on a three hour whale watching tour, I did a three course dinner for 2o lodge guests, I started with a simple salad followed by grilled wild salmon and fresh baked apple pie for dessert. I think the people enjoyed the dinner, but the whales stole the show. We lost count how many whales we saw swimming, playing and breaching (jumping out of the water) but it was at least one hundred. We could have watched them all night, easy when the the sun is still shining at midnight! To be continued.....

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lamb Sirloin

Did a quick dinner with a nice piece of Colarado Lamb, marinated with the usual rosemary, red wine and garlic. Then quickly pan seared and finished in the oven till done medium rare. I served it with a rustic style crushed Yukon gold potato, carrots and garlic mash. The sauce was made with a splash of vegetable stock in the pan to deglaze the good brown bits.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Coastal Roadtrip

Just back from a quick work related trip to Monterey California, it was a very hot day in valley, so I took the coast highway along the Pacific Ocean to get some relief from the blazing heat. The highlight of the drive was passing mile after mile of vegetables being grown in fields next to the highway. Strawberries, cherry's and artichokes were in full production and I bought as much as I could at a local produce stand. Its one thing to see foods on display in the market, but its really cool to see it growing in the fields. The town of Monterey is located on the Southern end of Monterey bay, Golfers know it for the nearby Pebble beach golf course, I know it for its artichokes and lettuce that grow in the cool sea breeze. Good wine making is on the map here as well and did I mention seafood? If you eat squid (calamari) its from these waters. Tonight its field fresh artichokes, here's how I prepared them.

2 fresh artichokes
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 clove chopped garlic
dash extra virgin olive oil
fresh chopped parsley
kosher salt/pepper
1 cup mire poix for cooking artichokes (diced onion, celery, carrot)

1. Add rough chopped mire poix to a few quarts of salted water, bring to a simmer.
2. Clean artichokes by cutting in half and cutting sharp thorns off leaf tips.
3. Simmer artichokes till tender, drain (done when you can easily pull out a leaf)
4. Make a simple dressing with the rest of the ingredients.
5. toss cooked artichokes in the dressing before eating or can be served with lemon-garlic mayonnaise.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Brasied Pork with White Beans

Even in the Summer a comforting stew sounds good when the cool fog comes in. I made a simple stew of pork shoulder, garlic, onion and white beans. After about three hours of slow simmering the beans are soft and tender and the chunks of pork are falling apart. The flavors are a lot like cassoulet but with out all the vegetables and sausage. I served it with a dollop of a parsley pesto.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Sweet & Tangy Red Onion Jam

This is a nice condiment I learned to make from Chef Bradley Ogden when I cooked in his San Francisco restaurant many years ago. It is very simple with only a few ingredients, sliced red onions, brown sugar, water and good red vinegar. Start by putting all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a gentle simmer, cook for at least an hour or more till the onions get very soft, almost like melting. During the cooking stage, add water to keep the onions covered in liquid. When onions become soft, let simmer till the liquid evaporates and thickens, its now ready! A option is doing a light colored jam using yellow onions, white sugar and white vinegar.

Note: The jam will get better with age and is great with
poultry, pork and oily fish like salmon or tuna.