Monday, January 31, 2011

Mushroom Bruschetta

I visited "The Mushroom Lady" at this weekend's farmers market and came home with some really nice Maitake and Buna Shimeji mushrooms. Both of these are native to Asia and can be quite expensive, but closing time at the market is when good deals are made. I played with the idea of sauteing the mushrooms over creamy polenta but my second idea of Bruschetta was faster. Slices of oiled quality bread grill on my panini press while I quickly cook the mushrooms. I do this with vegetable oil over very high heat with kosher salt and pepper, and when they are just starting to become limp they are done and come off the heat. Why do I use vegetable oil? For the neutral flavor and high smoke point (it will reach a higher temperature before smoking and burning.) I tossed the cooked mushrooms with fresh parsley and extra virgin olive oil before spooning onto the crusty warm toast, shaved Parmesan to finish, and poured a glass of equally good white wine to savor with it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dungeness Crab Risotto

I was lucky enough to attend my eldest daughters school crab feed this last weekend. I gorged on mounds and mounds of Dungeness crab that night and you would think that I had enough? but this is the prize crab of San Francisco and I wanted more. On my way out the door I went to say my good byes to the kitchen staff who were nice enough to give me a box of claws to take home. With this crab I first had the idea to make Cioppino, the famous seafood soup of San Francisco but I chose on doing a rich and creamy risotto. Only a few basic ingredients cooked and I was eating this amazing crab again.

Dungeness Crab Risotto
5 ounces fresh dungeness crab meat
3 ounces arborio rice
1 small shallot, fine dice
1 pinch chopped parsley
1 cup dry white wine and some for you while you cook
3 cups fish stock, vegetable stock or water, simmering
Dash extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt/Pepper to taste
1 pat butter

1. Saute the shallot and rice in the olive oil till translucent.
2. Add the white wine, slowly stir till liquid is absorbed by the rice.
3. Slowly add little by little the rest of the liquid till rice is tender, check seasoning.
4. Add the crab meat, parsley and the butter off the heat, stir in and serve immediately.


I served it with a little salad of citrus segments, fennel seed, herbs and crab meat

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Breakfast Ham & Eggs

Sunday mornings are for relaxing with a cup of coffee and reading the paper with a quick and easy breakfast. This is what I came up with today, 2 slices of locally baked Acme bread with a hole cut out of each slice, a thin slice of Prosciutto ham placed in the hole next a cracked organic egg on top then into a non stick pan with a dash of extra virgin olive oil. It is started on the stove then finished in the oven. Done when the ham is crisp and eggs are cooked but still runny. A good tasty breakfast in the time it takes the coffee to brew.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

New Orleans Food Memories

I was thinking recently about my visit to New Orleans and all the fantastic foods I enjoyed there, it gave me the urge to make a Louisiana style "Po Boy" sandwich. Since I love any kind of seafood, fish was my first choice for the sandwich. I found at my favorite market the locally caught Halibut looked the best so that's what I used. The name Po Boy is the Louisiana dialect of Poor Boy which originated as a low cost sandwich for the working class. The sandwich traditionally always is made with a form of seafood to include Oysters, Shrimp, Crawfish or maybe Catfish. They are simply made with only fried seafood on soft French bread, they can come "dressed" with shredded lettuce, tomato and maybe a form of Mayonnaise.

Fried Halibut Po Boy

5 ounces fresh Halibut, cut in strips
2 Tablespoons Chef Paul Prudhommes Blackened Fish Spice
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1 6 inch soft french roll
Juice of one lemon
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
Dash Canola oil

1. Mix a pinch of of the seasoning, lemon juice with the mayonnaise.
2. Dredge the Halibut in the seasoning and pan fry in smoking hot canola oil.
3. When fish is crispy and cooked through remove and place a paper towels to drain.
4. Slice roll in half and place lettuce on bottom half, add fish on top.
5. Drizzle the seasoned mayonnaise over fish and place the top roll on top.

Enjoy with a cold beer and plenty of napkins!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Weeknight Pasta Bolognese

This is another "simple is better" recipe and using just a few ingredients will produce a warm and comforting dish. Bolognese sauce has its origins in Bologna, Italy and is primarily a meat and vegetable based sauce with surprisingly very little tomato added. This type of sauce benefits from a really long cooking time at a low temperature and is even better the next day.

Spaghetti Bolognese

1 pound ground beef
2 carrots, peeled
2 stalks celery
1 small yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 can good quality crushed tomatoes
1 dash extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt/pepper to taste

1. Rough cut all the vegetables in a food processor (pulse)
2. Saute them with the olive oil and bay leaf.
3. Add ground beef and cook while breaking up into small pieces.
4. Add tomatoes, bring to a low simmer.
5. Add water when necessary to keep from burning or getting to thick.
6. Cook pasta till just done, drain and place into warm bowls.
7. After checking sauce seasoning ladle onto pasta and add grated Parmesan cheese.

Tip: Use the hot pasta cooking water to pre-warm the bowls when you drain the pasta.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday Night Fish Dinner

With most of the week being busy and hectic I find Sundays the most relaxing and its also the day Marin County has its biggest and oldest Farmers Market. After my morning coffee I am off on the short drive to the market to seek out something for tonight's dinner. I walk the whole market first to get a feel of what is new, popular and who is selling it at the best price. There is the Mushroom lady by the front entrance who sells a amazing variety of locally foraged mushrooms, the beautiful Gold Chantrelles on display stand out from the rest and beg me to buy half a pound, next its off to the fresh fish stall for a few cooked to order BBQ Tomales bay oysters to eat while I look over the fish, I choose a snow white fillet of Corvina Bass from the Central California Coast. Back at home making dinner is a easy process with the idea of doing a Winter Root Vegetable Risotto as a base for the fish fillet which I decided to wrap in thin slices of Prosciutto ham.

A few hours later my risotto slowly simmers on the stove while my ham wrapped fish fillet goes into a hot non-stick saute pan with a dash of extra virgin olive oil, the fillet is then flipped after about a minute then into a 350F oven to finish cooking. The mushrooms were quickly sauteed in butter and then everything came together on a pre warmed plate. This is the way I like to cook with only a few quality ingredients bought from the farmers themselves. Its a win win for everyone.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Espresso Coffee Maker

What can I say about the number one brewed drink in the world?  I didn't always like it but now its part of my morning routine and my day will seem off if I can't get at least one cup. Being in San Francisco also gives me the opportunity to buy really good locally roasted coffee beans from a few sources in the North Beach neighborhood. I would rather have a really good quality cup of Espresso over the multiple cups of a watery brew. I have had many different coffee makers in the past but like using the "old school" Moka pot which is a stove top espresso maker. Often called macchinetta in Italy, meaning Little Machine. This coffee is made by putting fine ground coffee into a filter basket which sits on top of a bottom chamber filled with water, when the water is heated it is forced up through the coffee into the top chamber where the finished coffee can be poured into a waiting warm cup. It brews under pressure instead of the more common and inferior drip type coffee makers, depending on the size of the pot they normally produce a few ounces of a rich strong coffee that I finish with a dash of raw sugar.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Flavor Packed Oxtails

Oxtails in Seasoned Flour

Browned Oxtails
Braised Oxtails with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

Yes that's exactly what they are! the tail of a Ox or a steer. They are meaty yet bony with lots of body producing gelatin. Oxtails are allot like short ribs where they to be cooked a long time to become tender and very flavorful because of the high ratio of meat to bone. To cook these I chose to dredge them in seasoned flour and brown them well before adding my aromatics of carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Next I poured a whole bottle of Syrah in and put the top on the pressure cooker on. After coming to the proper temperature they cooked for about two hours. I served them with horseradish mashed potatoes and the very rich cooking liquid with vegetables. This kind of food is perfect on a cold Winter night with a glass of the same wine that went into the braise.

Pressure Cooked Oxtails

2 pounds Oxtails
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 celery stalks, cleaned & diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 750m bottle of red wine
4 bay leaf
Kosher salt/Fresh cracked peppercorns
1/2 cup A.P. flour
1 T smoked paprika
dash vegetable oil

1. Dredge the oxtails in four seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper.

2. Brown the oxtails in a heavy bottom pan or open pressure cooker with the vegetable oil.

3. Remove browned oxtails and add the vegetables to pot to brown.

4. Add the meat back to the pot and pour the wine in, add the bay leafs.

5. If using pressure cooker: place lid on and lock, bring to temperature, cook for 1-2 hours.

6. If using normal pot: bring to simmer, put lid on and place in 350F oven for 2-3 hours.

7. When meat is very tender, remove to a plate, reduce the liquid to a sauce consistency.

8. Add the meat back into the sauce, serve with Pasta or mashed potatoes.

Yield= 4

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Food Trucks

The food truck craze is growing with more trucks offering more choices and often parked in a neighborhood near you. San Francesco's Civic Center is a hot spot for trucks serving lunch on a recent weekday. From Korean style tacos to grilled cheese sandwiches, its all here.