Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vegas Baby Vegas!!

I am in Las Vegas for the week to work at a massive trade show, the hours in the kitchen will be gruelling but when I'm off I will be in the food capital of the country, just about every major chef in the country has a restaurant here and a few chefs from overseas as well. Its been a few years since I have spent any time here and its going to be fun.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pork Belly

Pork belly is the cut of pork from which bacon is made; it has been around for a long time but has gained increased popularity in recent years with many chefs and home cooks who love its meaty flavor and texture. Another plus is the low cost due mostly to the excessive amount of fat, but this fat gives flavor, moistness and tenderness to the meat when cooked low and slow. In the Asian countries of China and Korea its also very popular and that gave me the idea of using a Soy Sauce, Mirin and ginger flavored braising liquid. A two pound piece cut in two and cooked about a hour in my pressure cooker. The falling apart tender pork was sliced and put on top of cooked Somen noodle with scallions and cilantro, a little braising liquid spooned over to moisten. Any kind of pork is a good thing and was great.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hangtown Fry

There is a famous breakfast dish here in Northern California called the Hangtown fry, its orgins date back to the California gold rush in the 1850's. The town central to where this gold mining operation took place is called Placerville in the Sierra foothills. Back in those wild and semi-lawless days justice was swift and often resulted in death by hanging, which gave this town the nickname of Hangtown. There are a few stories about how this dish of expensive and rare ingredients came about. One is that the miners with new found riches were able to afford this type of food, I like the story of the condemned men being given a choice of their last meal before hanging, they would choose the hangtown fry with its basic ingredients of fresh oysters, bacon and eggs. The oysters being delivered fresh on ice from San Francisco a hundred miles away, it would have to take a day or two to arrive thus buying them some extra time here on earth. This famous dish can still be found on the menus in some bay area restaurants.

Hangtown Fry

3 fresh organic eggs
3 Small Freshly shucked Pacific oysters
1 Strip thick smoked bacon, diced
Kosher salt/Pepper

1. In a nonstick pan cook the diced bacon till crisp, remove.
2. Dust the oysters in seasoned flour and fry in the bacon fat till cooked and crispy
3. Remove the cooked oysters and blot on paper towel.
4. Beat the eggs and pour into a greased hot pan, cook till just set.
5. Arange the cooked bacon and oysters on the eggs and serve hot.
6. If you are in Placerville, quickly get out of town when finished eating!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oyster Mushroom Hash

A Sunday breakfast favorite of mine is some type of hash. Its is a one pan meal of crispy fried potatoes with maybe a meat like bacon. This time I used smoky bacon, diced russet potatoes, chopped green onions and oyster mushrooms. Everything goes into a nonstick pan and cooks into a crispy pieces, a fried egg goes on top to rain down warm yolk all over when cut open. hollandaise sauce? maybe, hot sauce? oh yes please!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Weeknight Bruschetta

Tonight with my daughter quietly doing her school homework I was faced with my daily challenge of "What to make for dinner" Using ingredients I had on hand I came up with bruschetta. This is basically a form of a rustic grilled toast with a savory topping. Having some nice Fontina cheese and Del Cabo organic cherry tomatoes it all came together fast and easy.

Tomato Bruschetta

2 Rustic bread slices, 1/2 inch thick
1 cup organic cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 slices Fontina cheese
1 clove garlic
3 leaves fresh Basil
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt/Pepper

1. Mix the tomatoes, basil and half the olive oil in a bowl, season to taste.

2. Brush the rest of the oil on both sides of the bread.

3. Grill the bread on both sides in a hot stove top grill pan or outdoor live fire grill.

4. When bread is crisp and golden remove and rub with the garlic clove.

5. Add the cheese slices while still warm and spoon the tomato mixture over.

Note: There are many variations to this recipe using the bread as a base for your choice of toppings.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Winter Garden Vegetables

I was looking the other day at the bare spot of soil where all my Summer vegetables were, this gave me the idea to plant a Winter crop. Hopefully with the shortest day of the year approaching there will be enough sun for growing the plants. There was not much of a selection of vegetables available this time of the year but Red Russian Kale and Toi Choi looked promising. With 24 baby plants in the ground its just a matter of waiting and hoping for a good harvest in a few months.

Toad in a Hole for Breakfast

The traditional English dish of Toad in a Hole is sausage cooked in Yorkshire pudding. My breakfast take on this classic is to cook a egg inside a cut out slice of bread, you get your egg and toast all done in the same pan. Always the key to any simple dish is the quality of its ingredients. To start I used a thick hand cut slice of Pain Au Levain from the famous Acme Bread Company in San Francisco. I used a three inch ring mold to cut out a circle from the center of the bread; a small glass works just as well if you don't have ring molds. This slice of bread goes into a hot nonstick pan with a dash of butter, and next a fresh organic egg is carefully broken and poured into the hole with a sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper. Let it cook a few minutes on each side to brown the bread and cook the egg, a slightly under cooked egg yolk will ooze out when cut which is perfect for the crusty toast to soak up.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Green Eggs & Ham?

No not exactly but close, Today I made a breakfast dish using pork chorizo sausage, corn tortillas, eggs, spinach and the ever present avocado that I love to eat so much. This is a one pan saute of spicy crumbled chorizo and torn tortillas, a organic egg is added with a small hand full of fresh spinach. When the egg is just cooked and the spinach is wilted its onto a waiting warm plate topped with sliced avocado. I really like this kind of a one pan meal and its fast too. Other options can be added such as maybe potatoes, beans or a favorite salsa.