Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mediterranean Style Sea Bass

I cooked a simple dinner tonight using Sea Bass and all the Mediterranean flavors that I love, Garlic, Fennel, Olives and Tomatoes. The fish was a locally caught sea bass bought from my fish guy at the market, he is honest with me and will only recommend whats new and fresh. The fish was simply seasoned and sauteed in olive oil. While the fish was cooking I sauteed diced fennel bulb, sliced onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes, I bunch of spinach was added at the end to quickly wilt and then the vegetables were placed in a mound on a preheated plate. I like using condiments with fish and I decided on using a classic black olive tapenade. I love all the different flavors and bright colors of this dish and it was Delicious too.

1 cup pitted Nicoise Olives
1 Tablespoon Capers (salt packed)
2 each Anchovies (salt packed)
2 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of one Lemon

1. Finely chop to a fine paste or pulse all ingredients in a blender.

Note: If using salt packed ingredients, rinse well to remove excess salt.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Harissa, The North African Hot Sauce

If you like making your hot sauces, then this should be one to try, Its Harissa from the North African Countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Its a very common condiment that's used in a wide range of dishes from these Countries, its spicy but with a lot of smoky flavor from the dried chilies and toasted spices. Try it as you would any other hot sauce.

10-12 dried Chile de Arbol or Ancho Chilies
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Soak the dry chilies in warm water for about 30 minutes to rehydrate and soften them.
2. toast the seeds in a hot dry saute pan for a few minutes till they just start to smoke.
3. Blend all ingredients in a blender till smooth.

Store refrigerated in small jars with a layer of olive oil on top of the paste.

Father's Day Breakfast Hash

Normally people would cook for the father on this day but I like cooking too much to let someone else have all the fun doing it. Making some kind of hash on Sunday mornings is common in my house and today we will keep up the tradition. Today's hash is a "use what I find in the refrigerator hash" and there were good ingredients available, Cooked Chicken, Italian Sausage, Yellow Bell Pepper, Russet Potato, Bacon and Eggs. Everything is cut into cubes and cooked in a non stick pan till tender and golden, a Fried Egg and a fiery spoonful of North African Harissa sauce to finish because I like spicy foods.

1 russet Potato, diced
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
1 cooked Chicken Breast, diced
1/2 cooked Italian Sausage, diced
1 strip Smoky Bacon, diced
1/4 yellow Onion, diced
2 Eggs
Optional: Harissa or other hot sauce

1. Saute all ingredients in a non stick saute bacon till golden brown, divide on warmed bowls.

2. Fry Eggs in a dash of olive oil in a non stick pan and serve one per bowl of hash, spoon Hot sauce over eggs if desired.

Yield= 2

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Orzo Pasta Salad with Olive, Feta and Radicchio

Orzo Pasta Salad

I made a very flavorfull and colorfull salad at work the other day, it has a lot of ingredients that I love like Radicchio, Kalamata olives, Feta Cheese, Fresh Basil and sun dried Tomaoes. I used orzo pasta which resemble grains of rice and quickly grilled the radicchio which gives it a slight smoky flavor.

1 cup cooked Orzo pasta
1/4 cup slice Kalamata olives
2 each lightly grilled Radicchio
1/4 cup Feta cheese
handfull Fresh Basil Leafs
1/4 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes
Pinch whole Flat Leaf Parsley
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
Kosher Salt/Fresh Cracked Pepper

1. Mix all ingredients and add salt to taste (note: the feta and olives are salty)


I was trying to come up with ideas for serving avocado which is one one my favorite foods, a different way is using a mellon baller to make perfect balls of avocado. These were just drizzled with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, but adding other ingredients would make a nice salad. Maybe cucumbers or tomatoes? I will continue to play with my foods and dream up new combinations of flavors.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Baby Arugula

I am growing Arugula (Rocket) its one of my favorite greens and I use on everything, these very young plants already have the bright peppery flavor that I love, look for these greens in upcoming recipes.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fast & Easy Non Fat Granola

On a whim I had the idea of making granola for breakfast this morning and its good to have around the house for a quick snack. People seem to think that granola is very healthy to eat, the basic ingredients of grains, nuts and dried fruits are healthy, but most of all the fat and calories come from the sugar and butter used to make it. My batch was simply oats, almonds and golden raisins, for additional sweetness I used agave nectar which comes from the agave plant that tequila is made from. It's a sweet liquid syrup that is fat free and has about 60 calories per tablespoon. Any combination of grains, nuts and dried fruits can be used, also chocolate chips or M&M's can be added to make it more of a trail mix. I made a bowl with non fat yogurt, Manila Mango and blueberries.

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup almonds (whole or sliced)
4 tablespoons agave nectar
dash cinnamon powder
dash vanilla extract

1. Combine oats, almond, cinnamon, vanilla and nectar on a sheet pan.

2. Bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes, mix as needed so it is evenly browned.

3. Remove from oven, let cool then add the raisins, mix well and store in air tight containers.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Tomato Omelet

I made a simple three ingredient breakfast this morning with eggs, diced tomatoes and shaved Asiago cheese. Beaten eggs go into a heated olive oil drizzled non stick pan, after a few moments of cooking till the eggs are almost set, a spoonful of sauteed tomatoes and the cheese go on, the eggs are folded over into the classic omelet shape, more cheese and tomatoes go on top with a sprinkle of parsley.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday Night Rack of Lamb

Its been a long busy week at work, so with the start of the weekend I went all out with a rack of lamb for dinner. I don't eat lamb often but sometimes I am in the mood for it and this was it. I started my weekend with a very nice evening sail on San Francisco bay then when I got home I started preping dinner with a glass of good red wine. First I made a tomato, onion and saffron chutney then I simply seasoning and roasted the lamb rack in a hot 400f oven for about 12 minutes. I allowed the lamb to rest before cutting into chops and served them with the tomato chutney. The weekend is off to a good start.

Monday, June 01, 2009

First of the season Tomato Risotto

I am starting to see nice tomatoes showing up at the farmers market now, you know its just a tease for whats to follow in a few months. I bought some tomatoes anyway because I am ready for summer to start. I first had the idea of doing a salad of tomato, mozzarella and basil, but I thought the flavors would not be perfect for that yet. A way of concentrating the flavors would be to sun dry or in my case, oven dry. So that's what I did, all afternoon in a 200F oven with a little olive oil and garlic for flavoring. Next I made a simple risotto using a tomato stock and finishing with the chunks of oven dried tomato and fresh basil. It was a lot of work in front of the stove but it turned out great and I will try it in a few months when tomatoes are at there peak.