Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fava's are Here!

These beans are only available for a short time in the spring and early summer and there are a few steps in cleaning and cooking them, but they are clearly worth it so give them a try.
Fava Bean cleaning: for one cup of ready to eat beans you will need to start with about three pounds of bean pods, split open and remove the beans, next quickly blanch in boiling water for about a minute, plunge in ice water to stop the cooking process and to keep the bright green color, next pinch one side of a bean and squeeze the bean out of the thin shell. At this point they are cooked and ready to eat. Great in salads or my favorite way of pureed and spread on crostini with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Grilled Asparagus with Shelled Fava Beans

Summertime Tuna

OK its not quite Summer yet but it is really close, anyway those flavors that I love came together as a chunky relish to go with a fresh grilled tuna steak. I simply char grilled fresh corn and Roma tomatoes and combined them with shelled fava beans with a healthy amount of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lime. The thick tuna steaks were seasoned with a rub of fennel seeds, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, drizzled with olive oil and cooked rare on a hot grill, wow was it good, perfect for a weekend evening. Note: Fresh Fava beans can be found at good or farmers markets for a limited time and are labor intensive in preparing.

Fennel Crusted Tuna Steak

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Charcuterie Plate

With Summer coming and having lighter, less heavy meals the charcuterie plate might just be the perfect idea. The term charcuterie comes from the form of cooking devoted to prepared meats most common using pork but also including other foods such as pates, hams, sausage, confits, salami, etc. These meats are normally cured and originally were made as a way of being preserved without refrigeration. It is common to serve cheese, pickles and fruits along with other appropriate condiments with them. It is very easy to buy one or two of your favorite cheeses and sliced meats to arrange on a platter with maybe some crackers or bread. This type of menu is perfect for a picnic and be sure to bring a bottle or two of wine to go with it. On a recent weekday night when I did not want to cook, I arranged this plate of sliced apple, crackers, Drunken goat and Burrata cheese along with some nice sliced Prosciutto ham. Perfect.

Charcuterie plate

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Before and After Pizza

Ready for the oven
Ready to eat with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Pizza night is a common theme at my house and the kids really like to pick out ingredients and design their own pie; they normally go for a cheese or maybe even a sausage pizza. I like to go all out and use ingredients such as basil pesto and thin sliced Parma ham. These small, personal pizzas only take about five minutes to cook in my 500 degree oven and the pizza stone helps gives it a great crispy crust too.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Simple Asparagus

It is often said that simple is better, and with cooking food I totally agree. Tonight I made asparagus with caramelized shallots, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and toasted pine nuts. Just a few ingredients quickly put together and it's ready. The asparagus is sauteed in olive oil until just cooked but still with some crunch to it. The shallots are sliced thin and also cooked in olive oil till soft and starting to turn golden in color. A splash of balsamic vinegar over the top of the asparagus, and a scatter of pine nuts give it a nutty flavor and it's ready.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Salmon Season is Here!

Good news for Salmon lovers, the Summer salmon season has started and it's going to be a good one. In the past few years the fishing season was closed or only open briefly because of low salmon numbers, but levels are up this year and fishermen are now catching their limits. These local Chinook salmon have just started to be available in local markets with prices that are still pretty high. It is expected to go down a few dollars a pound in the upcoming weeks as a regular supply will be available. My first salmon of the season was prepared simply by a quick sear in a hot pan and then finishing in the oven, a saute of pancetta bacon and asparagus went with it. One of my favorite sauces to serve with it is the Italian Salsa Verde which is a blend of capers, garlic, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. It's perfect for the salmon and great with any fish.

Pan Seared Local Salmon

My kind of Weekend Breakfast

One of my favorite breakfasts is Chilaquiles which is a form of Mexican scramble using tortillas, eggs and beans. This morning I made a version of this using fresh roasted pasilla pepper, corn tortillas, asparagus, pancetta bacon and a poached free range egg. It comes together fast, and having a hot cup of coffee to sip while enjoying this while sitting in the morning sun is perfect. Oh, and don't forget the hot sauce!

Char Roasted Chili Pepper

Runny Egg Goodness

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Week Night Grilling

When it's warm like the Summer I often get the urge to cook outdoors and when ever I can I do it on my sailboat. A warm Tuesday night was all I needed for a quick evening sail then to anchor for dinner while the sun sets. The menu was simple marinated flank steak with a tangy salsa verde sauce and my new favorite grilled eggplant and spinach salad. Fast, easy and good. The key is to have everything prepped and ready so that you won't spend all your time cooking and I highly recommend a good glass of Champagne for the sunset.

Grilling at Anchor

Setting Sun

Steaks on the Grill

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Last Chance Dungeness Crab Omelet

Ready-to-fold Crab Omelet
The 2012 Dungeness crab season closed at the start of this month and I really wanted to enjoy fresh local crab one more time this year.  I chose to make a simple omelet for breakfast using a filing of wilted spinach, sauted shallots, diced tomato and lots of fresh-picked local crab meat. The goal was to really keep it simple so I could taste all the flavors and textures.  It was really good with a rich taste of the sea and certainly worth all the time it takes to pick the meat out of the shell.  I can't wait till next year!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Grilling Dinner Middle East Style

Grilled Curry Chicken Thighs
Grilled Eggplant & Chick Pea Salad
Tonight's recipe is completely made up and was inspired by looking at my charcoal grill in my back yard.
It was a case of asking my standard question "what to make for dinner?" Well how about doing curry spiced grilled chicken with a tossed salad of spinach, chick peas, grilled onions and eggplant? Yes, that sounded good and it was; absolutely perfect for a warm Summer's night.

Curry Spiced Chicken with Chick Pea Salad

8 Chicken thighs, bone-in
3 T Curry paste*
1 Eggplant, sliced 1/2 inch thin
1 Red onion, peeled and quartered
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 C Cooked/drained chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1 t Ground cumin
1 T Red wine vinegar
1/2 C Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Bunch cilantro, chopped
1 Sprig mint, chopped
8 oz Fresh washed spinach
1/2 c Raisins
1/2 c Sliced almonds
Kosher salt/pepper

1. Marinate the chicken in curry paste for at least 3 hours or overnight.
2. Light a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill.
3. When fire is hot, carefully cook the seasoned and marinated chicken till cooked through but being careful not to burn it. (180F internal)
4. Sharing the same grill, cook the eggplant and onions till golden and tender.
5. After allowing the vegetables to cool, cut into bite size pieces and place in large salad bowl.
6. Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the bowl and mix well, check and adjust the seasoning. 

Note: Serve the salad along with the grilled chicken.

Yield = 4
*Curry paste available at middle eastern or specialty food stores