Sunday, June 17, 2012

Carne Asada Tacos

A popular filling for tacos or burritos is Carne Asada which simply translates to grilled steak and for tonight that's what I cooked, one real nice New York strip steak that thick and well marbled. For the steak I made a marinade using dry Pasilla chillies, charred tomato, onion and garlic that was blended and allowed to soak in the meat for a few hours. Next on the list was to cook it on my stove top grill pan, using high heat with the vent fan set on high to capture all the smoke coming from the pan. The meat achieved a nice char on the outside while locking in all the flavorful juices, (remember to always let the cooked meat rest before cutting) With the meat cooking I made a chunky guacamole using mashed avocado, diced onion, jalapeno, lime juice and plenty of chopped cilantro. It is very common in Mexico to make tacos using two small tortillas stacked together and then filled with the meat and garnish. One strip steak made about ten of these little flavor packed tacos, a good snack for a few people or dinner for two with the addition of beans and rice. Don't forget the ice cold beer!

Perfect Cooked New York Strip Steak

Carne Asada Taco with Guacamole and Pasilla Chili Sauce

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer Vegetable Ratatouille

Summer Squash
My favorite Summer vegetable is actually a combination of lots of different vegetables. I really like a Mediterranean vegetable ratatouille, which is basically a mix of zucchini, eggplant, tomato and onion cooked in lots of good olive oil. I used a assortment of vegetables recently bought at my local farmer's market and they included green and yellow patty pan, crookneck and other types of zucchini squash. I added diced fennel bulb, red onion, garlic and tomato. The trick is to cook each ingredient separately so that color is retained and also different vegetables will take different times to cook; they should be just done while staying slightly firm. I use plenty of extra virgin olive oil and generous spoons of my freshly made basil pesto to finish. It's so good and it will even get better after a day or two of the flavors coming together. It's a great side or good simply tossed with fresh pasta.

Ratatouille with Roast Chicken

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Pork chops and fennel salad with Risotto Cake

Grilled Pork Chop with Risotto Cake and Fennel Salad

It's June and warm out which means the start of lots of outdoor cooking. Today's menu will be a grilled pork chop with some stone fruit chutney I made the other day, a crunchy shaved fennel salad and a crispy risotto cake. What I like about risotto cakes is that they can be made a day or two ahead and then reheated when ready to serve; I put a cast iron pan on the outdoor grill and with a splash of olive oil reheat them there, which gives them a really nice crisp exterior. The fennel salad is almost like a slaw of shaved fennel bulb and arugula; it will hold up well without going limp after being dressed with a light vinaigrette. For the pork chops I like using the really thick double ones and being brined for a day or two will really improve the flavor. The brine will flavor the meat and also help retain moisture so the pork will be juicy when cooked. Brining is good for all meats that can dry out when cooked like pork and poultry.

Basic Brine
4 cups water
1/2 cup white or brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
3 cloves garlic
1 T black peppercorns
3 bay leafs

1. Bring all ingredients to a boil.
2. Allow to cool completely.
3. Completely submerge meats in brine.
4. Refrigerate for one or two days.
5. Remove meat, dry off and it's ready to use.

Important note: You will not need to season the meat because the brine has already done it.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Basil Pesto, The Summer Condiment

A recent trip to my local farmers market gave me huge amounts of fresh basil which is now starting to appear in abundance at a decent price of $2 a bunch. My idea is to make a big batch of basil pesto to use in various preparations like pasta or grilled vegetables. I like to add a equal amount of Italian parsley to the pesto recipe to boost the color and flavor of the sauce. This sauce begs to be tossed in fresh hot pasta with lots of grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
Fresh Market Basil

Basil Pesto
1 large bunch fresh basil
1 bunch Italian parsley
3 cloves peeled garlic cloves
1 cup olive oil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
dash of salt
1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Its simple, blend all ingredients till smooth and creamy.
2. Cover and refrigerate.
Y= 3 cups

Rich and Fragrant Basil Pesto

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Simple Roast Chicken Breast with Wilted Kale

Roasted Chicken with Kale and Chutney
Weeknight cooking has to be simple because sometimes you just don't have time for a elaborately made meal. Tonight is one of those nights, so chicken it is. I had a little nectarine chutney that I made a few nights ago which I paired with a roasted chicken breast, while the chicken is cooking a bunch of dino kale is sliced thin and sauteed with a piece of chopped smoky bacon for added flavor. About one hour of total cooking and dinner's ready.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Sushi Ran of Sausalito

With San Francisco just a few miles away, getting world class sushi is never a problem but sometimes small local restaurants can be hit-or-miss. When you find a good one it can be a long lasting relationship. There is one in Marin County, California called Sushi Ran, tucked away on a side street away from the tourist zone of Sausalito. It has been there for many years and has expanded to include more seating and a bigger bar serving a extensive sake list. It's not cheap, but you pay for pristine quality and skill. Besides a full sushi menu they also serve a full hot menu with favorites like miso glazed black cod, grilled hamachi kama and wagyu beef carpaccio. On I recent trip I discovered a roll made with huge sea scallops, avocado and miso aioli topped with spoonfuls of tobiko caviar that is flavored with bonito, WOW is all can say and I want more!

Sashimi Platter

Scallop and Avocado Roll

Sushi Ran
107 Caledonia Street
Sausalito, CA 94965