Sunday, February 28, 2010

Roasted Vegetables

There is still a little bit of winter left and roasted vegetables are great on a cool night. Common root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, turnips and potatoes are perfect, these are firm vegetables that will get golden brown and hold there shape with out becoming mushy. The flavors become concentrated and the natural sugars caramelize when roasted. My first choice would be a wood burning oven for cooking because of the smoky flavors and high heat. Just cut all vegetables about the same size so they cook evenly, then toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe fresh herbs, into a hot oven to cook. I added asparagus because my kids love them. Its a great with a chicken or beef roast.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Carne Asada Tacos

Ready to eat Carne Asada Taco

Carne asada is simply Mexican beef steak, its most often thin cuts of beef such as flank, skirt and hanger steak. I like to make a quick marinade with salt, pepper, chili powder and fresh lime juice, after a brief period to let the meat absorb the marinade flavors its on to a hot grill to quickly cook, when done it comes off the heat and rests for a few minutes. When cutting its best to have thin slices cut across the grain, next the meat is piled into a waiting warm tortilla. Mine will always have plenty of Guacamole and hot sauce. Now wheres the cold beers?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Five Ingredients for Dinner

After a long day of cooking for others it is time to relax and cook one last meal, I quick trip to the store and in my bag is a nice piece of sea bass, brussel sprouts, pancetta bacon, potatoes and a good bottle of chilled white Burgundy. With just these few ingredients it will not take long to get from pan to plate. The new potatoes are cut and simmered in salted water, in another pan small pieces of pancetta are browned and shaved brussel sprouts go in to cook, the Sea bass is seasoned with kosher salt and pepper and goes into a hot pan with a touch of olive oil. When all the ingredients are cooked they come together on a warmed plate with a waiting second glass of wine. I offen avoid using a sauce with fish because I want to taste it by itself. Simple, uncomplicated and Delicious.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Duck Breast on Corn Pancake

On one of my recent trips to my local farmers market I came across a stall selling fresh duck breasts from California, its rare to find local duck at a farmers market so I had to get some to try. The duck breasts were small at around 6 ounces each (186.62 G) I marinated them over night in red wine, garlic and fresh thyme. The next day I scored the skin which helps render the fat and make it crisp, the breasts then go into a pan on very low heat, propping up one side so the fat drains away from the duck, after most of the fat melts away and is drained, the pan goes into a hot oven and the duck breasts cook till medium rare. While the duck was cooking a batter for fresh corn pancakes is assembled. Small pancakes are made using a hot nonstick pan and kept warm. A chutney like condiment of slow cooked sliced red onions with vinegar and sugar is made. The duck breast is sliced thin and placed on a corn pancake with a dollop of the red onion jam.

Fresh Corn Pancake Batter

1 cup flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 ears of corn kernels
3/4 cup whole milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 stick melted butter cooled

1. Combine all dry ingredients.
2. Blend half the corn kernels in the milk.
3. Whisk all wet ingredients and corn kernels slowly into the dry ingredients.
4. Place small spoonfuls of batter on a hot oiled pan or griddle, flip when golden.
Note: This recipe is great in the summer when corn is at its peek, not to worry because frozen corn kernels work really nice too.

Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is considered a comfort classic, I consider it a fast and easy dinner to make for the kids which they love it. The classic version uses just three basic ingredients, elbow macaroni and a milk based yellow cheddar cheese sauce. Lots of variations to this basic recipe can be made such as using a different pasta shape, choice of cheese and additives like ham or vegetables. Sometimes I will sprinkle Panko bread crumbs on top to give it a golden color and crunch. I like to serve it in small individual Spanish cazuela pots.

Monday, February 01, 2010


Another rainy week approaches and with that in mind I decided on doing a long and slow braise of Beef and vegetables. The classic name for this dish is Pot-au-fue which translates to pot on the fire. I started by taking a large cut of beef and seasoning it with Kosher salt and pepper, into a hot pot with a touch of olive oil to brown on all sides, this will give great flavor and nice color to the cooking liquid. I deglaze with red wine and add water to cover the meat. Fresh thyme, bay leaf, diced carrot, diced celery, diced onion and garlic are added, this is brought to a boil then turned down to a simmer, after a few hours the meat is getting tender and the vegetables are removed with a slotted spoon. A new bunch of peeled and cut carrots, onions and celery go in, these will cook for about half an hour and will be served along side the meat. At roughly the three hour mark, everything comes out onto a serving platter, the beef is sliced and the liquid is spooned over, Grain mustard and horseradish on the side. Other root vegetables could have been added as well as potatoes and that bottle of wine that was opened at the start can be served if there is any left.