Monday, September 28, 2009

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese

Focaccia bread still hot from the oven

I made a three ingredient snack with fresh bread dough, soft and sweet caramelized red onions and a crumbled slice of blue cheese. Fast with the flat bread baking along with the onions, at the last minute the blue cheese goes on to melt, a glass of red wine and I am all set!

Rustic Layered Eggplant

It was a warm weekend and I felt like making something simple, light and healthy. I came up with roasting sliced eggplant and tomatoes and layering them with shaved Parmesan cheese, red onions, tomato sauce and fresh basil. Then a little Extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top to finish and its ready, I ate all of it and really should have made more for the next day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Braciola is a Italian dish simply translated into meat roulade or roll. Its made with a variety of different meats or fish such as swordfish, it has a filling of breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and eggs or what ever ingredients are available. Rolled and secured with toothpicks or tied with string, browned and fried in olive oil or a tomato based sauce. Great as a side dish served with pasta on a cold winter night.

Beef Braciola

1 Flank steak, pounded flat
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 handful spinach leafs
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tablespoon garlic, chopped
Tomato sauce as needed

1. Combine the filling ingredients and spread evenly on to the flank steak.
2. Roll up with the meats grain running length wise, secure with toothpicks or string.
3. In a pan with hot olive oil, brown all sides then add tomato sauce, cover.
4. Cook at a simmer till tender, about 1-2 hours.
5. Remove string and cut into thin slices, arrange on a platter with the tomato sauce.

Y=4-6 servings

Mahi mahi

Mahi Mahi Fillets Ready to Cook

One fish that I love to eat allot is Dolphin fish or commonly known as Mahi mahi which is its Hawaiian name, in Latin American Countries its known as Dorado. But don't worry about eating a dolphin, its not the from the same family. It is a large Ocean fish found in warm Pacific waters with a firm meaty texture and mild flavor, it has a thick non edible skin with brilliant sliver, gold, yellow and green colors. It is best cooked on a hot grill or pan sauteed. It is a prize sport fish with fishermen because of its beauty, size and taste. When I make fish tacos its the first fish on my list to use and tastes great.

Monday, September 14, 2009

San Diego, a Weekend of Sun, Tacos and Sailing

Just back from a few relaxing days in San Diego, the plan was to go sailing and sample some of the good Mexican food from the city's best taco shops. San Diego being a city on the border of Mexico gives it some of the best Latin food in California and is home to the famous fish taco, which are on found on menus everywhere. My brother and I brought fishing poles on the sailboat and trolled for tuna as we sailed the ocean, I did not get the big prize fish, but did bring in a small Barracuda. Later that evening the fish was simply grilled with olive oil and lemon and was surprisingly good, Mild and almost sweet. Also tacos made from slow cooked pork with fresh tortillas and salsas rounded out the dinner.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Fresh Albacore Tuna Pasta

Albacore is not the first tuna people think about when using when in recipes, Ahi (Blue fin)is the popular one that people are most familiar with, often from sushi bars. Albacore is found mostly in cans, packed in water or oil. It can be found fresh and is just as good and a little cheaper too. I made a spicy pasta using this tasty tuna with capers, tomatoes, chili flakes and extra virgin olive oil. Great for lunch or a light dinner.
4 oz Fresh Albacore, diced
1 Roma Tomato, diced
1 Tablespoon, capers, drained and rinsed
1 clove chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil
1 handful, dried spaghetti
1. Cooked the pasta in boiling salted water till done, drain.
2. Saute the tuna, tomato, garlic, chili flakes in olive oil.
3. Add capers and pasta, toss well and serve in warmed bowls.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Swordfish and Clams

I made a easy and flavorful dish tonight using a block of Swordfish and a garlic clam sauce. I started by wrapping a 4 ounce block cut piece of swordfish with bacon and secured it with a bamboo skewer. The swordfish was seasoned with sea salt and pepper and placed in a hot saute pan with a dash of olive oil, after a minute I flipped it over and placed the pan into a preheated 400F oven. In a second hot pan a dash of extra virgin olive oil goes in with a clove of chopped garlic, then a diced Roma tomato and a cupful of clean scrubbed little neck clams, a squeeze of lemon and the lid goes on for about 2 minutes. The fish comes out of the oven and on a plate, the cooked clams and there juice goes over the fish, chopped parsley to finish. It was really good with smoky meaty flavors from the bacon and the briny flavors of the clams. The only thing missing was a crusty grilled piece of bread to soak up the juices.

Classic French Cooking from a Classic Chef

Slowly Simmering Beef

Beef Bourguignon with Buttered Egg Noodles

Lately there has been allot of interest in the life and cooking of Julia Child who brought classic French cooking home to many people. My youngest daughter was recently given Julia Child's ground breaking book, Mastering the art of French Cooking. With her new cookbook open and a old Julia Child show on TV, she watched and wanted to recreate the classic Beef Bourguiqnon that was featured on the show. We were soon off to the store with a short shopping list to buy what was needed. With the cookbook open we quickly prepped and cooked the famous dish. After a afternoon of simmering in a heavy copper pot till tender, it was done. The stew was served with wide egg noodles and chopped parsley. My daughter loved making and eating it, she was very proud of her work. and vowed to cook more from the book.

1 pound Beef stew meat, large dice, seasoned and dried on paper towels
3 Carrot, Diced
3 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 Sprig Thyme, Chopped
3 Strips Smoked or Unsmoked Bacon
2 Cups Beef Stock, homemade or low salt canned
1 Cup Water
1/2 Bottle of any big Rhone style red wine
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
Kosher Salt/Pepper
8 Pearl Onions, Peeled
8 Button Mushrooms, Quartered
1 bunch Parsley, Chopped

1. Slowly cook the bacon in a heavy oven proof pot, remove when browned.

2. Brown the beef in the bacon fat, very important to get well browned.

3. Add the garlic, carrot, thyme and continue to cook for a few minutes.

4. Deglaze with red wine, add water, tomato paste, cover and place in 300F oven for 90 min.

5. In a separate pan, brown the pearl onions in butter, add mushrooms and cook for another few minutes till just cooked through, season with salt/pepper.

6. Add the onion/mushrooms to the braise, check for seasoning and add a touch of cornstarch to thicken, add the chopped parsley to finish.

Serve with Buttered Egg Noodles tossed with a pinch of parsley and be sure to pour yourself a glass of the remaining red wine to toast your success in mastering a French classic.

Berry Infused Liquors

Rasberry Vodka, Blackberry Rum

Blackberries on the Bush

I recently had the idea of what to do with a surplus of vodka in my freezer, all these extra bottles came from my brother, who is in the wholesale liquor distributing business. Infused liquor is really popular right now and is also very easy and cheaper to do yourself. Start with a good quality neutral tasting spirit and just add your favorite berries, fruits, vegetables or spice into the bottle, Let age for at least two weeks for flavors to develop. Then simply use in your favorite mixed drinks. I have had allot of good results using vodka infused with sliced cucumbers, which is mild and refreshing. Raspberries, black berries, blueberries are slightly sweet with great color. Citrus peels like lemon or lime are good for making lemon drops. Jalapeno peppers will make a good bloody Mary for Sunday morning brunch.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Thai Vegetable Coconut Curry

Thai Vegetable Curry with Jasmine Rice

This Thai inspired curry has all the flavors that I love and if I close my eyes I can almost be back walking and eating on the streets of Bangkok, I really need to plan a trip back soon. Thailand's flavors are a mixture of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, this easy curry has them all.

1/2 Globe Eggplant, Diced small
1/2 Yellow Onion, Diced small
3 Garlic cloves, Diced thin
1 Small carrot, peeled and sliced thin
1 Jalapeno, Sliced (optional if you like heat)
1 Teaspoon Thai curry Paste**
1 cup unsweetened Coconut milk
1 dash Fish Sauce*
1 pinch Cilantro, Rough Chop
1 pinch Basil, Rough chop
2 Kaffir Citrus leafs*
1 Teaspoon Ginger, Grated
1. Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, eggplant, curry paste and jalapeno in a dash of vegetable oil.
2. When Vegetables are almost done, add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a simmer.
3. When the curry has slightly thickened and the vegetables are tender its ready.
4. Remove and discard the kaffir leafs, serve with a steamed rice such as Jasmine.
* These ingredients can be found in Asian markets, **There are normally three types of thai curry paste. Green, yellow and red with the green being the hottest.