Friday, July 20, 2012

Padron Chili Peppers

On a recent weekend I visited the city of Portland, Oregon where I attended the weekly farmers market in the downtown area. This is always a great way to see what other cities or even states are growing this time of year, and no big surprise was seeing lots of berries on display there. Oregon being a little cooler then California has a slight delay in warm weather vegetables coming to market, but the berries were out in force with amazing varieties. Another popular seasonal vegetable found there is the small Padron chili pepper, loved for its mild pepper flavor (but maybe one in twenty will be spicy hot). I bought at least four baskets which I brought back with me to California to enjoy here. The very best way to cook them I think is to quickly pan roast with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Perfect when served in a bowl as a snack with a cold drink.

Love the Variety 

Berries in all colors

Peppers everywhere

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Tomatoes

Gazpacho, Summer in a Bowl

Here in California we are now getting into our prime tomato season. All varieties are starting to flood the markets and will continue until the end of October when the first rain of Winter arrives. One of the best ways to enjoy the pure, raw flavors of these tomatoes is with the classic Spanish soup, Gazpacho. It's perfect on a warm Summer night and can be served chilled or at room temperature. Give it a try when you come across really good tomatoes.

Gazpacho Soup
2-3 Good quality or heirloom tomatoes
1/4 Red Onion, fine diced
1/2 c Spanish sherry wine or other red wine vinegar
1/2 c Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh pepper
1/4 bunch Cilantro, chopped
1/2 Avocado, diced (optional)

1. Put cored rough chopped tomatoes in a blender with a splash of vinegar, olive oil, salt and cilantro.
2. Pulse to make the soup as chunky or smooth as you would like.
3. Remove and add the red onions, check for seasoning.
4. In each serving add a spoonful of diced avocado, fresh pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil.
Yield= 2-4 servings

Notes: try adding poached seafood or maybe diced cucumbers.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Plums with Grilled Pork Chops

Wild Plums and Wild Plum Chutney

Brined Charcoal Grilled Pork Chops

Pork Chop and Plum Chutney

On a recent local hike I came across a tree filled with ripe plums, and after gathering a large quantity I decided to make a chutney. These ripe plums were going to be too soft when cooked so I added a few nectarines for a firmer consistency. Another idea was to serve it with grilled pork chops; two great foods coming together to a form an amazing meal. 

2 cups diced wild or cultivated plums
3 diced nectarines
1/4 diced yellow onion
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 pinch fresh cracked pepper
1 cardamom pod cracked

1.  slowly cook all ingredients till they become soft and the liquid reduces to a thick jam-like consistency.

Note: Remove cardamom pod shell.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Salmon Tonight

Its the peak of Summer and wild local Salmon is on my menu, quickly pan seared and finished in the oven to give a crispy brown crust with a still moist center, to help cut the richness I made a "jam" out of sliced red onions, vinegar and sugar, slowly cooked till soft. Black forbidden rice and bacon sauteed yellow beans to round out the dish. Perfect for tonight.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Holiday Fruit Salad

Holiday Fruit
This week at work I made a fruit salad for a special request using fresh blueberries, white peaches and strawberries with the U.S. flag as a theme. To make the stars I sliced the peaches into to flat pieces and then cut out stars with a paring knife. The client was happy with the outcome.