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.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

They're Back, Tomatoes

Right now all forms of tomatoes are starting to flood the markets, its going to be a good season with lots of recipes; go get them!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Good Coffee Find

Yes, the drink we all love and need at least a cup a day, but sometimes it's not that good. When a good coffee is found it's hard to try a new variety because of the fear of getting a bad cup. This last weekend I visited my favorite farmers market in Marin County and needed my morning cup. There sitting on one end of the market was a classic silver Airstream trailer converted for brewing and serving coffee. I was sold. Single latte to go please!  It was amazing; I could not get over how good it was, flavorful and rich without any bitterness. The coffee is from Remedy of Oakland and I am going to have to find a way to get it more often. Give it a try if you come across it.

Remedy Coffee
4316 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA