Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pop Up Restaurants, The New Trend

Chef's Jonathan Sutton and Tony Ferari

Local Halibut with Orzo Pasta

I recently visited a Chef friends pop up restaurant, the Hillside Supper Club in San Francisco. What makes this restaurant different is that it shares the space with a full-time restaurant; it's a very clever idea of opening a restaurant without the stress of buying or leasing a property, and all the problems that can come from owning a place full time. "Pop ups" take over a restaurant on the days the place would normally be closed, so it's win-win for everyone. The guest chef gets to cook his food in a public setting, the restaurant owner gets a small fee for the nights he's closed and the public gets to eat in both restaurants. My Chef friend Jonathan Sutton who is one of the Chef/owners is a veteran of many well known eateries, and now after doing the pop up is ready to take over and buy the restaurant in a few weeks. It has been a lot of hard work but has paid off with a loyal following that has grown over the year. Give this place a try and support the restaurant dream for these young chefs.

Hillside Supper Club
Open Evenings, Monday and Tuesday
300 Precita Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94110
1 513 910 8896

Monday, August 27, 2012

A favorite Side Dish

Often when I cook a piece of fish or chicken I will do a one pan side to go along with it; it's much easier to cook and clean that way. Tonight I cooked Coho Salmon and I chose to do a side dish with a combination of sliced Yukon gold potatoes, shaved brussel sprouts, yellow onion and smoked bacon. It all cooks together and is done when the bacon is crispy and the potatoes are tender. Any combination of potatoes and vegetables will work, so give it a try.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oca Potatoes

New Zealand Oca Potatoes

While visiting the city of Berkeley, California today I just had to stop by my favorite market, Berkeley Bowl. It's an amazing place with one of the biggest well-stocked produce departments in the country. Today I bought lots of summer foods, but what really caught my eye this trip was a colorful variety of potato called Oca. It's native to the Andes in South America but fairly common in New Zealand where it is simply known as a yam. The potato is really not much different then a regular waxy potato but the colors are unreal. To cook them I simply roasted with herbs in olive oil and served them along side a piece of salmon.
Oca Ready to Roast

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Breakfast Tart Treat

Homemade Breakfast tart
There is a well known pastry tart that's eaten by kids during breakfast; I am sure it's made with a lot of ingredients that aren't great for you. I decided to made my own using local picked black berries and a homemade short dough crust. To assemble, it's very simple- a square layer of pastry covered with a slightly sweetened layer of cooked blackberries that is again topped with another layer of pastry. Edges are crimped and a egg wash is brushed on top. It bakes at 350F till golden and then into the waiting hands of your kids. Its like eating pie with your hands without the mess.

Beer Can Roasted Chicken

Beer Can Chicken
They say that roasting a perfect chicken is the true test of a accomplished cook, creating a perfectly browned chicken with crisp skin on the outside and moist meat on the inside. There is a method that might seem odd and that is to put a open can of beer inside the chicken while it cooks. It works because it holds the chicken upright so the heat will evenly cook the chicken from all sides and make the skin crisp. The beer inside the can will simmer creating steam that will help cook the chicken on the inside while giving good flavor too. Surprisingly it really works. Imagine maybe a group of guys standing around a barbecue cooking and drinking beer and someone says, "Hey let's prop the chicken up with one of these beers." It all has to start somewhere and maybe that was it? For this chicken I used a dry rub of achiote paste along with salt, pepper and a can of Mexican Modelo beer. When it was done I served it with corn tortillas and cumin-scented black beans.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nonna's Stuffed Zucchini

Fresh Tomato Sauce
Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

Last weekend I was driving back home from visiting with my mom, she is known as "Nonna" to my kids which means Grandmother in Italian. I always stop at a my favorite roadside produce market and on this day I bought lots of fresh vegetables including some beautiful green zucchini. At first I thought of making a form of ratatouille but instead decided to stuff them like my moms use to do when I was a kid. I of course made some changes to be able to use some of the ingredients I had on hand. They in the end turned out great and helped keep my moms cooking memories alive.

Nonna's Stuffed Zucchini

4 Medium zucchini
2 Italian Sausage links or the same weight in bulk sausage
1 Egg
2 T Bread Crumbs or Panko
1 T Parsley, chopped
1 Corn, kernels removed
1 T Pine nuts (Optional)

1. Cut Zucchini in half length wise and hollow out the center with a Mellon baller, reserve pulp.
2. Put all the rest of the ingredients including the zucchini pulp into a electric mixer with paddle attachment, slowly mix till well blended but without becoming gummy.
3. Spoon the filling into the hallowed out cavity of the zucchini, Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over them.
4. At this point they can be cooked by themselves on a baking sheet or in a saute pan on a bed of fresh tomato sauce.
5. Cook at 375F for about 20 minutes or till the stuffing becomes golden brown.

Serve hot with the tomato sauce or at room temperature.

Fresh Cranberry Bean Salad

Beautiful Bean Pods

Shelled Beans

Tossed and Ready to Eat

On a recent day at my local Farmers Market these white and purple Cranberry Beans caught my eye and started my thought process of "What can I do with them?" A light Summer salad was my first choice and that's what I did. Cooking these beans were simple, shelled and simmered in salted water till tender; I was a little disappointed when the purple speckled beans turned a grayish color when cooked, but they still tasted great. 

Cranberry Bean & Bacon Salad

1 cup shelled cranberry beans
1 Handful washed and dried Arugula
2 Strips Smoked Bacon, cut in thin strips
1T Fine diced red onion
1 T Sherry wine vinegar
3 T Extra Virgin Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Simmer the beans in salted water till tender, drain and cool.
2. Cook the bacon till crisp, Blot on paper towels.
3. Whisk the vinegar, oil, onion, salt and pepper together.
4. Toss all ingredients together and arrange on a serving plate.

Yield= 2

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Concert Event Cooking in San Francisco

Whole Lamb with Moroccan Rub ready for the Smoker

John Fink of The Whole Beast with his smoker

Chopping Cooked Lamb for Gyros
I helped out a fellow cooking buddy out on a recent weekend for San Francisco's Outside Lands Concert, this huge concert is a three-day festival with close to 60 thousand people a day and they all were very hungry too! My friend John Fink has a business "The Whole Beast" cooking whole fish and animals over live fire in his custom smoker trailer. He sources natural animals that were raised free of any growth hormones and are 100% organic. For this big job his theme was to use only lamb and he had lots of them, 27 to be exact. He chose to use Moroccan inspired spice rubs for the lamb then serve the cooked meat three ways in the form of Gyros, Mulligatawny soup and added to gravy poured over freshly made french fries that were cooked in rendered lamb fat. It was very popular with a continuous line of people all three days. In my many days of working in kitchens we always have a radio on, this day we had recording artists such as Jack White and Stevie Wonder playing live in the back ground; how cool is that?!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Golden Beet & Peach Salad

Summer Fruit Salad
I made a salad the other night using marinated golden beets and ripe Summer peaches. I harvested some greens from the garden to go along with them all tossed in a simple sherry vinaigrette. The fruit and vegetables gave just the perfect amount sweetness to balance the acid from the vinegar.

Summer Gazpacho, Part Two

Golden Tomato Gazpacho
Another day and another soup, this time using a golden heirloom tomato and a English cucumber. Wow really good and refreshing when served chilled on a hot day. The simple and few ingredients demand only the best to make this recipe stand out, perfect tomatoes are available now through the beginning of fall, so choose your favorite and blend with a touch of good quality vinegar such as a sherry or champagne, then a good healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I added cucumber in the blend and for the garnish along with diced red onion, avocado and fresh herbs. A cool idea would be to swirl two different colors of soup into each other for dramatic effect.