Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Grilled and Smoked Holiday Turkey

Mesquite Smoked and Grilled Organic Turkey

Turkey, Tomato and Avocado on Sourdough Bread
I ended up cooking a large turkey for this years Christmas holiday, normally this cooking can take many hours of supervision but I decided to cut it up which worked great because of the faster cooking time and being able to cook each piece to perfection with out overcooking which is the common problem. I made a simple white wine, dijon mustard and herb marinade which gave it great flavor too.

One of the best things I like about cooking a big turkey is getting to use all the leftovers in a variety of different ways.  Day one its fresh and hot roast turkey served with all the popular sides, day two its sandwiches or maybe Tacos, day three it can be turkey chili using the bones for flavorful stock and don't forget there's always breakfast options too.

Smoked Salmon Hash

Smoked Salmon and Sweet Potato Hash
A friend of mine visiting from out of town stopped by the famed Swan Oyster Depot Restaurant in San Francisco and brought me a big chunk of Local Smoked Salmon. This restaurant has a amazing selection of prepared foods to eat there or take home. A lot of ideas went through my head on using this beautiful fish before I finally decided on making a breakfast hash with it.

Smoked Salmon Hash
1 pound Smoked Salmon
1 Sweet Potato, diced
1/2 Sweet yellow onion, diced
3 Strips Thick Sliced Bacon, diced
1 Handful Spinach
3 Organic Eggs

1. Slowly cook the bacon with the onions and sweet potatoes in a non stick or cast iron pan.
2. As the hash is cooking bring a small pot of water to a simmer for poaching the eggs, a dash of plain white vinegar will help keep the egg from spreading and keep it into a round shape.
3. When the hash is tender and slightly brown add the spinach and crumbled salmon to cook.
4. Season with S/P and split on three warm plates, top with a soft poached egg on each.


Smoke Salmon is available in well stocked markets everywhere.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Boxing Day!!

The Mexican Christmas Tradtion, Posole Soup

Pressure Cooker Braise Pork

Ready to eat with diced Onions and Cilantro

One of my favorite soups is the classic Posole soup originating from Mexico,  a thick and rich meat broth with either chicken or pork and hominy. All the great flavors of Mexico in a soup form. My soup is made with a dry rub of home ground chili powder on cuts of pork shoulder that is browned in a heavy pan, then cooked in a pressure cooker with chicken stock till fall apart tender. This broth and shredded meat becomes the base for the soup to which precooked hominy is added, simply seasoned and brought to a simmer. After it is ladled into bowls the fun part comes, adding traditional condiments to personalize to your own taste. The condiments include: dry oregano, chopped cilantro, shredded green cabbage, lemon or lime juice, fine diced onion, diced avocado and plenty of hot sauce.

Note: Canned Hominy can be found in most markets, a pressure cooker does not have to be used but its faster to cook meats.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pan Seared Chicken and Potatoes

Roasted Ruby Crescent Potatoes

Pan Seared Chicken Thigh with Garlic-Tomato Sauce
Chicken is the go to food for most meals and tonight that was my plan. Pan seared to give color and finished with roma tomato, garlic and white wine, slowly simmered till tender. Another favorite side of mine is a olive oil sauté of fingerling potatoes with fresh herbs and garlic, rich with amazing flavor. These came together on my plate with a quick sauté of broccoli rabe, perfect.

Just Pasta, Cheese and Sauce

Fresh Made Pasta
Fresh Tomato and Sausage Sauce
Shaved Parmesan Cheese

Sometimes simple is best and with pasta thats the key, only only a few handmade ingredients put together carefully and your meal can be flawless. This was the case on a recent weeknight when my daughter asked "Whats for dinner daddy?" I really didn't want to drive to my local store and with all ingredients I had on hand I was able to make fresh pasta and sauce for her dinner, a true labor of love.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Brussels Sprouts, Just in Time for the Holidays

Local Farmers Market in Castroville California

Brussels Sprouts, Fresh Picked and Still on the Stalk

It seem their is a love or hate relationship with Brussels sprouts, you either like them or not. With me, I like them and prepare them in a variety of ways. My favorite recipe is to shave them thin and sauté with a thick dice of pancetta and onions but also very good as a winter salad with nuts and dried cranberries. They are best if you find them still on the stalk where they will have a fresher flavor and will store for a longer time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Hawaiian Classic, Poke

Shoyu Ahi Poke* 

A Variety of Poke a the Market

The State dish? could be and found in almost every market in the state of Hawaii, Poke. A cold salad of mostly raw or cooked seafood dressed in soy sauce, sesame oil, Maui sweet onion, seaweed and chili peppers. There are lots of variations of seafood used but Ahi (Yellowfin tuna) is the most typical. The history of Poke dates back many years but started gaining in popularity in the 1970s to the level its at today where its eaten almost daily as a snack or maybe in a rice bowl as a meal. Sold by weight in little plastic tubs starting at around $10 U.S. dollars a pound to maybe $16 or more for better grade fish.

* Note: Shoyu Ahi Poke is a basic salad seasoned with Sesame oil, Soy Sauce and Onions  

A great Hawaiian Food Find

Amazing Spread
A somewhat new product found in local Hawaiian markets is a new take on the classic tuna fish salad, Smoked Ahi Spread. A delicious flaky spread of lightly smoked Ahi tuna in a lemon mayonnaise with a hint of tamarind. Its best served by itself on a rice cracker or maybe in a sushi roll? How about little finger sandwiches with shaved cucumber on crust less Hawaiian sweet bread? If you live or visit the islands ask for it at your local market. 

Note: The price is roughly $8 U.S. dollars for a 8 oz tub

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Very Last of Summer Peas

Pea pods on the vine.

Just picked Peas

Fresh Pea Risotto with Spinach and Bacon

While eating the last of a friends late summer peas this year I decided to put a few in the ground to see what would happen, I was surprised that they soon sprouted and grew into mature bushes. Next came very fragrant flowers where the pea pods grew from. The strange result of all this is that I was harvesting peas during the first week of November! OK Fresh pea risotto it will be and I enjoyed this rare treat.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Stuffed Local California Squid in Tomato Sauce

Fresh Monterey Squid

Making Heirloom Tomato Sauce

Squid Simmering in Tomato Sauce

Braised Stuffed Squid in Heirloom Tomato Sauce

On a recent visit to one of San Francisco's Asian neighborhoods I noticed fresh local squid available in the market, so I bought a few pounds to take home to cook. These little sea creatures come from an area in the United States where they are very plentiful- Monterey Bay, California. Because of their vast numbers it's OK for them to be harvested without hurting their species or the environment. These squid are seen on most restaurant menus everywhere, often served fried with some kind of dipping sauce. Tonight my idea is to stuff the tube-shaped body and slowly cook them till tender in a spicy fresh tomato sauce. It was a little time consuming to clean, stuff and cook them but I was rewarded with a very flavorful dish.

Stuffed Squid in Tomato Sauce
1 pound fresh squid or pre cleaned tubes and tentacles 
1/2 cup cooked plain rice
1 T fresh herbs, chopped (Parsley, etc)
1 T garlic, chopped
2 cups heirloom or roma tomato, diced
3 T Olive oil
2 cup white wine

1. Clean squid by removing tentacles from head and cleaning out tubes really well.
2. Mix some of the herbs and garlic into the rice.
3. loosely stuff the tubes with the rice mixture and secure with toothpick.
4. Make a tomato sauce by sauteing garlic and tomatoes in olive oil.
5. Add white wine and rest of herbs, simmer till saucy.
6. Add all squid and cover pan, cook on low heat for about 20-30 minutes.
7. Remove cover and continue to cook till the liquid reduces to a slightly thick sauce.
8. Remove toothpicks from squid and serve with the sauce.

Note: Great along side Pasta or risotto.

Edamame, Fresh from my Garden

Soy Beans 
Soy beans are found everywhere now and not just at your local Sushi bar. A native of East Asia that is commonly used to make soy sauce and tofu, has now migrated to many forms including soy oils, soy milk and the list goes on. I have found that these beans are super easy to grow and will produce mature beans in about five weeks. Put them on your garden list for the next growing season.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cool Weather Cooking

Slow Cooked Red Wine Chicken

Winter comfort foods are best cooked low and slow which translates to cooking at a low temperature for a long time. Tonight that's just what I did with organic chicken thighs, fresh herbs, aromatic vegetables and red wine. Slowly cooked till tender with a rich flavorful sauce spooned over white corn polenta. Perfect.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fried Green Tomatoes

Right off the Vine

Spiced and Soaking in Buttermilk

Frying to a Golden Brown

Grilled Bread with Green Tomatoes, Arugula and Bacon

This is a classic Southern Summertime staple -fried green tomatoes. These are simply green, unripe tomatoes that are coated with some type of batter or seasoned flour and fried till crispy brown.
The tomatoes can be harvested unripe any time during the growing season, but often in the Fall when the last of the tomato crop will not have time to ripen is the best.  The green tomatoes are firm with a slight tangy to sour flavor and will remain firm and not soggy when cooked. My idea was to pair these classic fried tomatoes with the classic BLT sandwich, with lots of good flavors and textures.
I treated my tomatoes to the same process of my fried chicken. I sliced them thick to soak in buttermilk and a southern dry-spice mixture, then dredged them in a spiced cornmeal-flour mixture. Next fried in vegetable oil heated to 350F till crisp and brown, drained and sprinkled with salt.

Fried Green Tomatoes
Green unripe tomatoes, sliced thick
Buttermilk to cover
Kosher salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Soak the tomato slices in buttermilk and spices for a few hours.
2. Heat vegetable oil to 350F in a deep heavy pot.
3. Toss the tomato slices in cornmeal and spices.
4. Fry the tomatoes in small batches till golden crisp.
5. Remove and place on wire rack or paper towels.

Note: Serve right away with a dusting of salt.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Late Season Baby Squash Blossoms

A Farmers Market Bundle of Baby Squash

Baby Squash with Heirloom Tomato Sauce
It's amazing that these Summer baby squash are still available this time of the year, so I had to buy them before they are done for the season. These small, tender squash still have the flower blossoms attached which are great stuffed.  I decided on a quick saute with olive oil and fresh herbs set on a pool of home- grown heirloom tomato sauce. Simply amazingly good and a perfect first course.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Almost too Hot Pepper Sauce

Habanero Peppers
Cooked and Ready to Blend

Prawn Ceviche with Habanero Salsa

The saying goes "When life gives you Lemons, make Lemonade" well when I get Chilli's I make Salsa. A friend of mine recently gave me a big handful of his home grown Habanero peppers. They were small and bright orange like little fiery pumpkins. After many years of eating salsas I have developed a appreciation for the flavor of the peppers that goes beyond the heat they produce, that's good because Habanero peppers are high on the scoville scale, a number scale of how hot peppers are. 100,000-350,000 for Habanero while the common jalapeno is 3,500+. When I make cooked Salsas I use my normal recipe of simmering them with yellow onions and garlic in white vinegar with a touch of sugar and salt, then carefully blending and straining. This salsa turned out great with really a good fresh chili flavor up front and with a mouth numbing burn starting slowly to becoming intensely hot after a few minutes, did you know drinking milk is a great way to stop the pain?

Habanero Salsa
2 cups Fresh Habanero chili
1/2 Yellow onion, diced
3 Garlic Cloves, rough chopped
1 cup White vinegar
1/4 cup Sugar
Pinch Kosher salt
1 Tomato, chopped (optional for a more saucy texture)

1. Simmer all ingredients for about 30 minutes till soft.
2. Carefully Blend till smooth, add water to thin if necessary.
3. Use a medium wire strainer to remove any large bits or seeds for a smooth sauce.
4. Refrigerate for up to a month.

Note: Always wear plastic gloves when handling raw chilies and don't touch your Face!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ready for Fall Chicken with Grits

Low and Slow Braising Chicken
Its slowly becoming Fall here in California with some cooler days and a occasional shower now, with that change comes the season of stews and other slow cooked foods. I recently made a stewed chicken dish  the other day using common aromatic ingredients such as garlic, onions and tomatoes, normally I like to serve this stewed chicken with soft and creamy polenta. This time I had the idea to try and use ground hominy instead of polenta, Hominy is a form of corn just processed differently. It is dried corn kernels treated with slaked lime, washed and then ground, it can be ground to a flour which is used to make common corn tortillas (Masa Harina) if its ground course then it can be cooked like polenta with the southern name of hominy grits. It turned out great and the leftover grits were put into a loaf pan to set up, the next day it was sliced and fried in a pan.

Chicken with Hominy Grits

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Poached Petrale Sole with Garden Yellow Tomato Sauce

Wine Poached Sole with Tomato Sauce
Working backwards tonight I started with yellow tomatoes from the garden and came up with a menu to go with it. My idea is to make a yellow tomato sauce and serve it with white wine poached Petrale Sole and jumbo Gulf prawns. Only a few ingredients & so simple; quality is the key.

Poached Sole with Yellow Tomato Sauce

Petrale Sole fillet, cleaned (4-5 oz per person)
2 medium Yellow tomato, rough chopped 
Jumbo Gulf prawns, cleaned, shells reserved (3 per person)
1 cup White wine or vermouth 
2 cloves Garlic, peeled, chopped
1 Shallot, peeled, chopped
1 Knob Butter
Kosher salt/pepper
Pinch Arugula

1. Simmer garlic, shallots and prawn shells in wine for about ten minutes then remove shells.
2. Roll the sole, season and place in wine liquid, gently poach till cooked through, remove and keep warm in low 200F oven.
3. Add tomatoes to poaching liquid and cook till soft, add a pat of butter and blend till smooth.
4. Check sauce seasoning and adjust if necessary, keep warm.
5. Saute prawns in butter and garlic till just done.
6. Place a sole roll and 3 prawns on a warm plate, spoon sauce over and garnish with arugula.

Notes: Can be served chilled. Sole can also be stuffed with sauteed spinach.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Food Truck Party Catering

Dinner is Served with Million Dollar Views

The Boneyard Food Truck

Strawberries and Cream

A new trend in party catering is to simply hire your favorite food truck. I attended a birthday party recently and that's exactly what they did. The food was from the barbecue truck The Boneyard of San Francisco. The truck is fairly new to the food truck scene and is the creation of pit masters Mike Bradford and Rich Mainzer.
The truck has a rotating menu of BBQ staples such as brisket or pulled pork, salads, beans, etc.

The Boneyard Barbecue Truck

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Home Style Sweet Potato Fries

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

Grilling in a Stove Top Pan

It seems like after years of eating russet potatoes, people are enjoying the new and somewhat trendy sweet potato. Not just for holiday meals anymore, they are served with every day meals now. My kids will often share a big bowl of grilled sweet potatoes, their favorite. I simply peel and slice them about a half inch thick, toss in olive oil with a light dusting of kosher salt, slowly grill on a stove top pan till tender. Non stick pans work great. They're also good grilled over a charcoal fire with a squeeze of lime.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fresh Garden Vegetable Hash

Just Picked Heirloom Tomatoes
Peppers, Potatoes, Onions and Tomatoes

Garden Vegetables, Grilled Beef and Smoked Bacon Hash with Poached Egg

When the garden is producing amazing vegetables you have to cook them anyway you can. This morning I made a hash with lots of mild gypsy peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and a little smoky bacon for flavor and finished with a poached egg & sliced avocado. A big cast iron pan works great in this recipe. This is simple to prep in the morning while you are drinking your first cup of coffee. The first step is to dice all the ingredients, next slowly cook the bacon. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook till tender and crispy browned, season to taste then place a scoop on a plate. Top with a poached egg if you wish.

Note: I love hot sauce with mine, maybe you will too.

Cool Summer Soup

Yellow Pear Tomato Gazpacho

Hot tomato soup is a winter classic, but in the Summer full of warm days a chilled soup is very refreshing. The first soup that comes to mind is the Spanish classic Gazpacho. It's a very simple soup to make, and with that the quality of the ingredients are key. It's August so tomatoes are at their absolute best right now. Gazpacho is almost like a blended tomato salad with most of the same ingredients like vinegar, olive oil, cucumbers and tomatoes. This is a great soup to make ahead and serve the next day. Give it a try.

3 cups Heirloom Tomatoes
1 cup Cucumber
1/4 cup Red onion
3 cloves Garlic
Pinch Oregano (fresh or dried)
1/4 cup Vinegar (Spanish sherry or red)
1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh Pepper

1. Peel and rough chop the cucumbers, red onion and garlic.
2. Rough chop the tomatoes, save a little for garnish.
3. Put all ingredients except for salt in a blender, blend till smooth or chunky.
4. Salt to taste and pour into bowls.
5. Garnish with diced tomato and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tamalpie Pizza Restaurant

Tamalpie Pizza, Mill Valley

"The Dipsea" Fresh Mozzarella Pizza

Crunchy Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad

I recently went out for pizza the other night and tried a new to me restaurant called Tamalpie in Mill Valley California, the name is taken form the local landmark Mt Tamalpais and Pie the slang word for pizza. The restaurants design theme is taken from mountain biking along with some of the pizzas named after the more popular local biking trails. I really like the menu and with additions of local artisan ingredients like Hobbs Pepperoni and Point Reyes Blue Cheese it was hard to choose. The Pizza here is the star but the sides and or menu items are just as good.

Tamalpie Pizza
475 Miller Ave.
Mill Valley, Ca