Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Posole soup

Posole Soup

It would not be Christmas time in my house without a big bowl of the traditional Mexican soup Posole. My version is made with a spicy broth, pork and hominy and will always have lots of chopped cilantro and avocado with a squeeze of lime to finish. It has the flavors of a pork taco but in a soup form.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Special Seafood Pasta

I have been working on a special project of coming up with a good gluten free pasta recipe and it was easy with the help of a new line of a gluten free flour product that was developed by Chef Thomas Keller. The special flour is called "Cup 4 Cup" which is a non wheat blend rice type flours designed to replace conventional flour in recipes. Using the special flour I made a basic egg pasta dough which was then rolled out and cut into to fettuccine size noodles, I then focused on the seafood sauce. For this special dinner a chose to add Maine Lobster and Mussels in a rich home made fresh tomato and fennel sauce. Once all the ingredients are ready they come together very fast because of the fast cooking time of fresh pasta, a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley and fennel fronds completes the dish. What to drink with this? Champagne of course!

Fresh Cooked Maine Lobster

Special Seafood Pasta

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fish Restaurant, Sausalito, CA

Dungeness Crab Fritters

Seafood Ceviche
There is a popular restaurant in Sausalito called Fish that was started a few years back by my chef buddy Chad Calahan, formerly of Masa's Restaurant in San Francisco. He has since left the operation, but the restaurant is still going strong under the new owners. Its setting is on the water surrounded by many boats in the large marina and the menu is dominated by local sustainable fish with flavors from around the world.
On this day we chose to sit outside on wooden benches and enjoy the warm Winter sun. We tried the tilapia fish tacos, seafood ceviche served with fresh tortilla chips, a spicy Portuguese fish stew and fresh dungeness crab fritters. Everything was really good and the fish stew was a stand out and in a bowl too small for the amount I wanted to eat of it.

Fish Restaurant
350 Harbor Drive
Sausalito, California
415 331 3474

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

King Alaskan Salmon

I was in the mood for salmon the other night and my first choice was King Salmon from Alaska. This fish is wild caught and it's full of natural fat, the good omega three fat that helps keep your heart healthy. The color is a bright orange which comes from it's diet of small shrimp. One of my favorite ways to cook this fish is to simply season and sear it in a very hot pan 'till its golden brown and crisp. I also sauteed Yukon gold potatoes and red kale to go with it, the sauce is a very flavorful tomato and olive relish.

Cherry Tomato Relish
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Kalamata olive slices
Capers, rinsed
Garlic, diced
Lemon segments and juice
Parsley, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Mix all ingredients well. Great with any fish or meat.

Pan Seared King Salmon Fillet

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weeknight Chicken Dinner

I had the idea of cooking chicken for tonight's dinner and wanted to keep it simple with only a few components. When cooking at home I always try to use some of the ingredients I have on hand, so the nice pomegranate on my kitchen table gave me the idea of doing a somewhat sweet glaze for the roasted chicken breast. I chose to make simple mashed russet potatoes with a swirl of roasted puree of Kabocha Squash and bacon-studded sauteed Swiss chard. The dish had a nice balance of textures, flavors and colors; not a bad meal for a weeknight in front of the TV.

Pomegranate Glazed Chicken Breast
2 each Organic Chicken Breast, skin on
2 cups Pomegranate juice, fresh or bottled
1 cup Orange Juice
2 ea Star Anise
2 T Brown Sugar
Kosher salt/fresh cracked pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Put all glaze ingredients in a pan and bring to a simmer.
3. Slowly reduce the liquid untill it thickens like a syrup; remove from heat and remove star anise.
4. Season chicken breasts and place skin side down in a hot saute pan with a dash of olive oil.
5. Place pan in oven to finish cooking, bring chicken up to 170F internal; flip over.
6. Spoon glaze over the chicken breasts and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes until it reaches 175F.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Bay Area Tradition on Hold?

While the rest of the country is eating turkey today, we in the San Francisco Bay Area like to do things a little different. That difference is serving local Dungeness crab whenever possible. This has become a holiday tradition for a lot of people, but due to the stubbornness of a few not willing to agree on a fair market price it's just not going to happen. Pete my fish guy at All Seas Seafood says that there is tons of crab off shore up for grabs but the fishermen are holding out for a extra .25 cents per pound and both sides won't budge on it. Everyone loses now and us Dungeness fans might just have to be forced to eat turkey.

Holiday Meal

This year I chose to do something a little different for the holiday meal and make a chicken ballottine. This a classic French way of preparing birds, its very similar to a galantine but with a different cooking technique. A Ballottine is normally a bird, chicken in my case, it is completely boned out leaving the skin and meat intact. The next step is to make a filling known as a forcemeat. it is stuffed, trussed then roasted and served hot. another close way of stuffing and cooking a bird is called a galantine which is prepared the same way but poached and served cold.

To start I made a stuffing of ground raw dark chicken meat, raw Italian sausage, panko bread crumbs, prosciutto ham, pine nuts and fresh sage, I used my kitchen aid mixer to mix all the ingredients together. For the bird I started by completely removing all the bones and laying the chicken skin side down, next the stuffing is evenly spread all over the chicken, the chicken is gathered up and trussed in the form of a whole intact chicken. Next is to roast the bird till it reaches a internal temperature of 170F. I served the chicken with mashed potatoes, pan gravy and shaved sauteed brussel sprouts.

Stuffed Chicken with Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday Night Diver Scallops

Pan Seared Scallops with Thai Curry Sauce
One my favorite things to eat is fresh day boat diver scallops. They are not a everyday occurrence due to thier high cost, but worth every penny. Diver scallops are considered the best because of how they are harvested. Scuba divers hand pick the scallops only when they reach the right size and the boat they are on returns to shore the very same day, insuring optimal freshness. Other lower-grade scallops are harvested by using a form of dredge that is dragged along the bottom of the sea, not only destroying all forms of life in its path, but taking young scallops and damaging their shells too.

Tonight I chose to simply season the scallops with sea salt and black pepper then I pan seared them in a hot pan until nicely caramelized and just cooked through. I served with them a rich coconut curry sauce, steamed black forbidden rice and sauteed baby bok choy. I garnished each scallop with a dollop of finger lime "caviar".

My Favorite Coconut Curry Sauce

6 oz Coconut Milk
1 T Thai Yellow Curry Paste
1 small knob Ginger, grated
1 clove Garlic, grated
2 Kaffir Lime leaves
1 T Soy Sauce, low sodium
1 T Mirin Rice Wine
Fish Sauce (to taste, salty)
Juice of one lime
1 T Fresh Basil, chopped
1 T Fresh Cilantro, chopped

1. Saute the ginger, garlic and curry paste in a dash of vegetable oil 'till fragrant.
2. Add the coconut milk, lime leaf, soy sauce, mirin, fish sauce, simmer until reduced to a saucy consistency; remove and discard lime leaf.
3. To finish add the chopped basil, cilantro and lime juice; spoon over the cooked scallops.

Yield = 1 cup
Note: For a more spicy sauce add fresh Jalapeno or Serrano peppers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Finger Limes

Finger Lime "Caviar"
One of the hottest foods chefs have recently discovered are finger limes, this member of the citrus family is found in Australia but due to exporting restrictions its not available here yet, luckily they are also being grown in central and Southern California in the Fall months. The appearance of these limes are small long and narrow shapes with a hard skin. The prize and what makes this fruit so unique is not so much the juice but how the juice is contained, small round translucent beads filled with the tart juice, it is very much like caviar with the same crunch resulting in the juice coming out when crushed with your teeth. I think it could be used wherever citrus juice is used, but maybe best sprinkled over seafood as a crunchy and tart garnish,  maybe it can even used on the rim of a martini glass for a margarita? This rare seasonal fruit is also not cheap, the half pint I found in my local store was $10.00 retail. Its a small price to pay for something new and so cool.

Mattarello Pasta

New to the farmer's market circuit is a local San Francisco company Mattarello Artisanal Handmade Pasta featuring quality freshly made pastas using locally produced ingredients.
The Chef and founder John Pauley was insipred after repeated trips to Italy, including a apprenticeship in Bolognia to start making his own pastas. Currently Mattarello is making fresh egg, spinach and whole wheat pasta in the form of tagiatelle and pappardelle. They also produce two finished sauces to compliment their fresh pastas, a ragu of grass fed beef and pork and San Marzano tomato sauce. I cooked a mixture of the spinach and egg tagiatelle pastas and served them with the ragu. The pasta was finished with a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese and it was really good! A huge plus for the home cook is that the fresh pastas will cook in less then a minute, so no more slaving over that hot stove after a long day at work.

Mattarello Pasta can be found at:
Marin County Farmers Market, Larkspur Landing,
Saturdays 9am-2pm
Burlingame Farmers Market, Sundays 9am-130pm

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Artic Char

Pan Seared Artic Char, Soft Polenta and Baby Artichokes

I came across a nice piece of Artic Char recently which became the basis for a simple week night meal. The Artic Char is closely related to salmon as well as trout, found in the Artic and in the high alpine lakes of Europe. The fish is commonly raised in farms for our Western markets and is classified as a best choice because it's sustainable. I like it for its mild trout flavor and always cook it with its thin skin left on which becomes very crisp when cooked in a saute pan. Tonight I served the pan sauteed fillet with creamy cheesy polenta and sauted baby artichokes, perfect.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mystery Basket Cooking

Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast with Chantrelle Cream Sauce

There is a long tradition in professional kitchens to give a random bunch of ingredients to a cook that might be trying out for a job; it's called a "mystery basket" test. This a very good way of finding out how good a cook is. The cooking test requires that they be able to come up with a good tasting and looking dish without any prior planning. In the real cooking world you often don't have the luxury to sit at home surrounded by cookbooks or the Internet to research food ideas, oftentimes it is a last minute request by a diner with a dietary restriction that you have to produce immediately. I did many of these "mystery basket" tests over the years and the one that I remember the best was trying out for Bradley Ogden's soon-to-be-open San Francisco restaurant, One Market.  I had to take a written test first which I think is a very good idea for weeding out the many cooks applying for positions in restaurants. There were questions on the test like "describe risotto" and "what process makes food brown?" I passed it, then advanced to a one-on-one interview with Chef Brad.  He had me verbally tell him step-by-step how to cook a particular dish, and after I finished he liked what I had to say and I was hired on the spot. Even recently I am still tested by last minute requests and this week a had to come up with a three course lunch for a VIP with only a three-hour notice.  The result was a mushroom-stuffed chicken breast roasted and served with a chantrelle cream sauce, new potatoes with sage and sauted asparagus. The client was happy and another successful day at work was accomplished.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pizza Night

It's been a while since I made pizza at home for my girls as it is a somewhat long process involving making the dough, the sauce and assembling all the topping ingredients. First, the kneaded dough has to then rest and proof for about a hour before being portioned and rolled out, during which time a fresh tomato sauce is made. So with a burst of energy I decided to go for it tonight.  My girls being non- adventurous teenagers wanted the classic pepperoni and cheese. For me, I use some of my favorite flavors including grilled eggplant, fresh tomato, olives, fresh mozzarella and arugula, also not forgetting the sprinkle of crushed chili peppers. The whole project turned out to be a easy and relaxing process which was aided by a mandatory glass of wine or two.  Dinner's ready kids - come and get it!

Tomato, Eggplant, Olive and Arugula Pizza

Monday, November 07, 2011

Fall Golden Beet & Apple Salad

Fall Beets with Fennel, Apple, Orange and Arugula
It's definitely fall now with shorter days and cooler nights; with that we eat foods that reflect the new season. Tonight I put together a simple salad using roasted golden beets with baby arugula, thin shaved fennel bulb and apple. Next I removed the segments of an orange and tossed that in with the vegetables. To dress this salad I made a vinaigrette using orange juice, extra virgin olive oil and micro-planed orange zest. Simple, colorful and very good.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Monterey Bay Seafood Watch list

Sometimes I think about the amount of food that I have processed and cooked in my professional life; the numbers are staggering and I am just one out of many. It really gets me thinking of how much we are consuming and that some of the world's wild food supplies are in serious danger of vanishing for good. A great resource in helping consumers and professional cooks make good choices is the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch list. This list has been compiled using scientific information to help provide consumers with the best choices in buying seafood and which fish to avoid. My love and respect for the ocean helps keep me focused on doing my part to help this good and important cause. The seafood watch list is gaining popularity here on the West coast and spreading rapidly across the US and beyond. I like it when I go to local restaurants and see that they follow the list, it's a step in the right direction. I encourage you to read the list and use it when selecting seafood to eat. There is a free app available for IPhone too.

Seafood Watch best choice, Wild Alaskan Halibut

Parma Ham Wrapped Halibut, Chick pea stew

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sausage Stuffed Chicken Leg

Sausage Stuffed Chicken Leg

Cooking for my daughter tonight I was inspired by a dish that I cooked many years ago while working at Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco. The dish was a boneless chicken leg stuffed with locally made Bruce Aidell's sausage. Bruce is the husband of Boulevard's Chef/owner Nancy Oakes, so it made perfect sense for a winning combination.

Tonight I started my version by using a locally-farmed organic chicken leg that I completely boned out while still leaving the meat and skin intact; the chicken leg becomes almost like a sausage casing. The next step is using raw chicken sausage for the filling because of it's flavor and reduced fat. Pork sausage is a good alternative if you choose. Next is to truss the chicken leg closed after filling the cavity with sausage by using toothpicks and butchers string. To cook the leg I simply season it with sea salt and cracked pepper then into a hot pan with a splash of olive oil for a quick sear on all sides, giving it a nice brown color.  The pan then goes into a preheated 400F oven, and after maybe 20-30 minutes it's done (180F internal.) Remove toothpicks and string before serving. I sauteed shaved Brussel sprouts and sliced Yukon gold potatoes to go with it. It was good chicken with a good memory of a past cooking experience.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Island Style, Part 2

Classic Ahi Poke at Hookipa Beach, Maui

Two very common things on the Hawaiian food scene here are poke and Spam. First what can I say about Spam, the canned mystery meat?  If you grow up here it's part of your culture and considered a comfort food. Its history here in the Islands dates back to the days of the war in the Pacific; it was the only meat available to the soldiers and it remained to this day a common meat choice. I respect that, but will pass on it because I am not used to eating out of cans. Now poke I like, its raw marinated fish that is really good as a quick snack or a appetizer. Its found it just about everywhere with many varieties, Ahi tuna being the most common. Other varieties may include octopus, salmon or maybe even marlin. There is a heavy Asian influence in its seasonings which can include sea salt, soy sauce, seaweed, green or Maui onions, sesame oil and Sambal chili for the spicy versions. What sets poke apart from other raw fish recipes is that the fish is still kept in its raw state without the use of a citrus juice to "cook" it like a ceviche. A recent discovery that I found is Korean style poke with spicy kim chee added- yum!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Island Style 2011, Part 1


In this lush rain forest like Island of Maui are just about every kind of tropical and non tropical fruits and vegetables that you can think of, a lot of times it grows wild. I went out this morning and picked guava fruit from the trees to go with my breakfast and now I have discovered  local pumelo which is a form of grapefruit but the size of a honeydew melon, Normally these that are found on the mainland are quite sour with a very large layer of bitter white pith between the gold skin and the massive fruit segments, these local tree ripened fruits are sweet with a low amount of acid. They are now giving me the idea of making them into a salad with sliced avocado that is also growing here on our North Shore property..

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Curried Butternut Squash with Chick Peas

It's hard right now not to go to your local market without tripping on the huge displays of fall squash; it's that time of the year and that turned out to be my inspiration for tonight's dinner. One of the best ways to cook squash is roasting at a high temperature, which intensifies the flavor and produces a smooth texture. I also had the thought of using it into a Indian style curry along with sliced onions, chick peas and a good quality curry paste.

To start I cut a medium butternut squash in half leaving the skin on, next scoop out the seeds and place flat side down on a parchment covered sheet pan, then into a preheated 400F oven for about 45 minutes. Cook until the outside side starts to brown. While the squash is cooking, peel and thinly slice a yellow onion and put into a heavy pan with a dash of olive oil to slowly cook and soften, then add a spoon of curry paste. The paste will have to cook slowly for a few minutes to bring out the flavors, then add precooked chick peas and a splash of vegetable stock or water to make a thick stew. By this time the squash is cooked and somewhat cool to touch, peel off the skin and cut into medium dice, add to stew, carefully stir then check for seasoning. I added a pinch of chopped cilantro. This would good served with a scoop of steamed brown rice for a very healthy and delicious meal.           

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Napa Oktoberfest Party

The Custom Firepit

Oktoberfest Sausage's

Just Getting Started
Distant Valley View

I had the pleasure of attending my friend's annual Oktoberfest party high up on his mountain-top property. The air was still warm for this late in Fall, with the plump and sweet grapes just about ready to be picked any day. There was lots of good food cooked in a amazing custom-built wood fire pit, also five live bands playing a wide range of music for every taste. Being in Napa Valley there was almost too many wines to try and some people I think, did came close to trying them all. Lots of fun as usual.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Comfort Food

Soft Polenta with Stewed Tomatoes

Comfort food is any kind of food that you are familiar with, maybe its a dish that your mom used to make for you as a child, it can be foods from your home Country if you have relocated. For me one of the first foods I cooked was creamy soft polenta with sausage and peppers, this is a variation of that using just tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil. When it gets cold outside a hot bowl of this is what gets me going and takes me back to when I first started cooking.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Night Pasta

Ouick and Easy Pasta

Leftovers?? Not really, but ingredients from another night's dinner are born into a new dish. Last night's roast chicken becomes a ingredient with rigatoni pasta, roast peppers, fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. While the pasta boils in salted water, the other ingredients are quickly sauteed in lots of extra virgin olive oil. Ten or so minutes later, it all comes together in a preheated bowl. Good stuff and minimal work.

Farmers Market Food Find: Falafel Sandwich

Food Stall Falafel Sandwich

One of my favorite snacks is Falafel, Middle Eastern fried chick pea fritters. These were put into warm pita bread and topped with a spicy yogurt sauce, pickled vegetables and peppers. There are lots of food choices at the farmers market now but I keep going back for it, delicious.

Panini Pressed Sandwich

Roast Chicken and Heirloom Tomato
Pressed and ready to eat

The Panini is an old-style sandwich with new interest and it's found everywhere these days. It's simply a sandwich that is pressed between two hot grill plates, warm and toasted on the outside. I made one tonight using roast chicken, heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fragrant basil on crusty Acme bread from Berkeley, California. Lots of great flavors and textures.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blackened Snapper with Beans & Rice

Blackened Red Snapper
A old favorite of mine is the Southern classic blackened red fish with beans and rice. I made it using Pacific red snapper or also called rock fish, and this fish has been coated with Chef Paul Prudhomme's blackened redfish spice. Its the spice and technique that made him famous at his New Orleans restaurant K-Pauls. The spice seasoned fish goes on a very hot cast iron pan to quickly cook giving it a dark almost crunchy texture. Lots of smoke happens in the process, so windows open and the fan on!
Serve with slow-simmered red beans and Southern style rice. A cooling mayonnaise based remoulade sauce would go good, but tonight it's just lemon. Good stuff.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Baby Grilled Vegetables

With a few rainy days happening now it's really last call for Summer vegetables. I found this assortment of baby zucchini, eggplant and peppers at the Sunday farmer's market. Simply grilled and seasoned, then add a very generous splash of extra virgin olive oil and some torn basil. Looking at this pile of vegetables gives me the idea of putting them on pizza.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Hawaiian Plate Lunch

My Plate Lunch

As a tourist in Hawaii you probably won't see it on restaurant menus, but as a local it is the common lunch sold just about everywhere: the Hawaiian plate lunch. This inexpensive meal will always include two scoops of steamed rice, macaroni salad and some kind of protein such as pork, chicken or fish. At work this week we hosted a Polynesian day featuring music, dancing and my plate lunch. I served marinated pork wrapped and slow roasted in banana leafs and kim chee with the other traditional ingredients. It went over well. The origins of this dish go back many years to the days of plantation workers needing a cheap and filling meal while harvesting sugar cane. I will be in the Islands soon and report on it with a few posts and any recommendations.

Oxbow Public Market, Napa Valley, California

The growing town of Napa in the world famous valley of the same name is home to a new market complex of specialty shops and restaurants. The Oxbow Public Market is the same group that gave San Francisco the Ferry Building Marketplace, foodie ground zero. The Oxbow Market has a wide range of small restaurants that are perfect for a quick bite or gathering supplies for a vineyard picnic. There are a few retail stores inside with antiques, food and wine. I tryed Pica Pica restaurant which serves small tapas style Venezuelan food; it's concept is to serve food in a fresh corn type of bun. It was OK, not great. Next time I will try C CASA Taqueria which looked really good. Definitely visit the market next time you are in the area, it's easy to find located right across the bridge from downtown Napa.

The Oxbow Public Market

Pica Pica Restaurant

Pica Pica Pork Sandwich

Oxbow Public Market, 610 First Street, Napa, California 94559

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stuffed Pasilla Peppers

Chorizo & Rice Stuffed Pasilla Pepper

The last of the hot Summer weather is the perfect time to finish ripening peppers, and many varieties can be found right now in your local markets. This somewhat mild Pasilla chili is the perfect pepper for stuffing, so that's eactly what I did. The peppers were charred over a open flame then placed in a plastic bag to steam; the charred skin will come right off. A slit is made on the side to remove the chili seeds and membrane which is where most of the heat comes from. Next a mixture of chorizo sausage, diced onions and rice are cooked them spooned into the hollow chili pepper. The peppers are covered with foil in a pan and reheated at 350F for about 20 minutes.  I made a fresh Tomatillo salsa to serve with it. A melting cheese would be good with it as well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Food Truck Sites Around Town

The Action Inside the Stadium
Tailgating with Food Trucks

The food truck craze has now entered the world of sporting events. A large group of trucks were cooking for the masses before the 49er football game this last weekend in San Francisco. It's great with more variety and a welcome change from the normal hot dog menu, but the prices are not great with most food starting at around $10 and up. Quality beers go for about $10 as well, a steep price for a quick bite to eat. If your home team is winning and the weather is good then it's all right.

Last chance for Heirloom Tomatoes

A winning combination

This time of year is the last chance to eat amazing tomatoes before the winter cold comes.
A assortment of tomatoes, sliced fresh mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil is all you need!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer Vegetables

Another abundant end of Summer vegetable is squash which includes all the varieties of zucchini. These are perfect in the classic dish of Provence, Ratatouille which is a combination of zucchini, eggplant, onions, tomatoes and lots of good olive oil. The key to cooking this colorful assortment of vegetables is to first cut them all the same size and then to cook them separate from each other; the vegetables need different cooking times, and zucchini and tomatoes are quick but eggplant will take more time to be tender. It is also a recipe that will taste even better the next day, so make a big batch. I served my ratatouille with a grilled rib eye steak, perfect!
Zucchini squash, diced (yellow, green, etc)
Eggplant, diced
Tomato, diced
Yellow onion, diced
Garlic clove, diced
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt/fresh cracked pepper
Fresh basil
1. Arrange all cut vegetables in separate piles ready to cook.
2. Heat a dash of oil in a saute pan; when oil is hot cook the vegetables separately 'till tender.
3. Finish with remaining vegetables.
4. Combine all the cooked vegetables, season to taste, add chopped basil.
Serve warm or at room temperature

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The National Drink of Greece, Ouzo

We have the somewhat strange ritual of drinking shots of frozen Ouzo when ever I visit my Mom's house.  She's not Greek, but we just do it anyway. Ouzo of course being the famous Greek aperitif with a strong anise flavor, in the same family of liquor as Turkish Raki, French Pastis, and Sambuca from Italy.
With it's strong flavor it is best served straight or mixed with a little water and ice and it will turn milky white, which is normal so don't be alarmed. There are many brands out there and you will get what you pay for, so stay away from the cheap "moonshine" ones that will taste harsh. This bottle of Ouzo was pretty good and about $20 U.S.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Prosciutto and Green Figs

Two simple amazing flavors combined to create an even better flavor. The strong flavored and salty cured ham paired with the soft creamy and sweet fig, perfect.  Maybe introduce a third flavor of arugula and a dash of Extra virgin olive oil? It's all good and perfect for Summer.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad

I made a Summer salad for a group the other day which was composed of colorful heirloom tomatoes, red and yellow watermelon, shaved feta cheese, micro arugula and drizzled with a sherry vinaigrette. All in season and perfect for a hot Summer day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pork Carnitas with Fresh Corn Pancakes

Summer Ingredients on a Plate
Fresh Corn Pancake
Crispy Pork
With corn being available everywhere right now, I decided to make corn pancakes and braised pork to go with it. To start, I seasoned a pork shoulder and browned it well in a heavy pan and then into the pressure cooker it went with a splash of water and fresh garlic, and it simmered it under pressure for about two hours. Next, I made a fresh corn batter with milk, egg, flour, baking powder, pinch of salt and fresh shucked corn kernels, blended 'till smooth and added more corn for texture. The third component is a heirloom tomato salsa made with diced tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro and fresh lime juice. I made the corn cake on hot greased cast iron pan while the fall-apart tender pork finished in a pan 'till it was crispy. Pork went on the corn cake and salsa on the pork; ready to eat!

Cochon Heritage Fire, Napa Valley 2011

John Fink cooking Tandoori Goat
Flying Rabbits?
Todd Spanier basting his three hogs
The crowd enjoying the food
"Live fire" cooking with CIA Greystone in the background
Over the weekend I helped my buddy, Chef John Fink of "The Whole Beast" catering company.
We were cooking at a event in Napa Valley, California the Cochon Heritage Fire which has the simple mission of promoting heritage animals. These are breeds that are original and have not cross bred for mass production. This event featured chefs from around the country preparing pig, goat, lamb, chicken, duck, salmon and rabbits over a open wood fire. It seemed like every different kind of recipe was made with these animals.  The chefs were split into teams featuring a different animal each, we were in team goat. Our team produced three different preparations, Latin goat tostadas, tandoori roast goat with cucumber salad and the already famous John's harrisa sauce, spit-roasted goat with spicy slaw.  It was a great event and nice to cook outside surrounded by vineyards full of soon to be picked grapes.