Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Molinari Italian Delicatessen

Great Sandwich with a Great View

Lots of Choices

The Aroma of Cured Meats and Cheese is Amazing
Made and Sliced to Order

New York might have Katz deli but here in San Francisco we have Molinari, the famous North Beach store selling all things Italian, wines, meats, pasta, etc. I always go for one of the made to order sandwiches on a fresh crusty roll. Today I went with the Molinari Special combining Roasted marinated sweet peppers, fresh mozzarella and sun dried tomatoes with plenty of good olive oil, that's it and all I needed, perfect.

Molinari Delicatessen
373 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, Ca

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Tamales

The Basic Chicken Tamale Ingredients

Red Chili Sauce Simmering

Chicken Stewed in the Pressure Cooker

Finished Sauce Blended and Strained

Tamales Assembled 

Steaming Tamales

Ready to Eat with a Dash of Hot Sauce and Cilantro

Its that holiday time of year again and I always make the Mexican Christmas tradition of Tamales, little corn husk wrapped dumplings of ground corn and meat with chili sauce. I am attending to a Christmas party tonight and no surprise was asked to bring food, what to make for a crowd? How about tamales which can be made ahead of time and reheated on site? perfect. A few basic ingredients and with the aid of my pressure cooker its pretty quick too. Now on to the party!

First the dry corn husks are soaked in hot water to soften, the chicken is cooked in the pressure cooker with seasonings and garlic till fall off the bone tender, the dry chills are simmered with garlic, onion and tomato then blended and strained. Masa is made with instant masa flour. Now its simply a scoop of masa on corn husk with a spoon of shredded chicken and chili sauce, folded up and placed in a steamer for about a hour, done and ready eat or serve later.

Note: Any kind of meat, vegetable or sauce can be used.

Friday, November 28, 2014

New Thanksgiving Tradition??

A Rare Flawless Day at Sea

Brendan "All Good"

Cooler Full, Lets Head Home

Simmering Tomato, Fennel and White Wine

Cracked Crab and Mussels Added and Steamed

This years thanksgiving holiday plans changed when my friend Brendan Moylan called with the idea to go crabbing, a perfect weather forecast and the promise of fresh crab was all I needed. A quick morning motor on his fishing boat took us five miles offshore to the Pacific fishing grounds and our six crab pots were quickly baited and soaking. What to do for three hours while we wait? Hint Brendan owns two breweries! We got lucky fishing and were able to bring Dungeness crabs home for our holiday dinners. What to make? well there is two very famous ways to cook San Francisco crabs, one is simply cooked and chilled served cracked with sour dough bread and local white wine and very popular at local crab feeds. Two is the Italian style Cioppino seafood soup with a tomato and garlic based broth. Being a chilly rainy day I chose to make the hot soup. Amazing and perfect.

Cioppino My Way

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Weeknight Surf and Turf

I cooked a special dinner for my girlfriend this early this week and when I was stumped on what to make I decided to do a popular surf and turf menu, its the best of both worlds. For the sea I chose large dry pack scallops, which were flawless, meaty and sweet without that horrible brine that a lot of scallops are packed in. For the land its got to be lamb loin chop which is very elegant and flavorful. Next question was the accompaniments? for the scallops a sauce of pink grapefruit beurre blanc which is a fine diced shallot and grapefruit reduction with butter whisked in served on a bed of slow braised leeks.  For the lamb, a marinade of red wine and herbs then served on simple potato puree. The lamb is grilled outside while the scallops go into a smoking hot sauté pan to sear and cook till just medium rare. Everything then makes its way to a warmed plates with a chilled flutes of vintage Billecart-Salmon Brut, Ah life is certainly good.

Perfect Scallops ready for the Sauté Pan

Marinated Lamb Grilling

Scallops with Pink Grapefruit Beurre Blanc and
Leeks, Grilled Lamb with Potato Puree

Monday, September 22, 2014

Its Hot Sauce Time

The warm end of Summer produces the best produce including a bounty of chili peppers. I was given a variety of red ripe peppers from Barking Crow Farms in Marin County and the idea of making hot sauce instantly came to mind. To make the sauces I used Red Fresno, Cayenne and Thai Birds Beak slowly simmered in white vinegar, garlic and a touch of salt, then allowed to cool before being blended. I kept half to use as a slightly chunky sauce and the other half strained to fiery liquid. Both with intense hot pepper flavor and a tartness from the vinegar. I think they will be perfect with a Southern Gumbo or maybe stir fried Asian rice noodles.

Ripe and Ready

Freshly Bottled and Ready to Use
Just picked

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Last of the Season Green Beans

Mature Plants bearing lots of Beans

Ready to Pick

Around the end of July I thought I could get one last crop of beans grown before the rainy fall season. So I planted from seed about 20 bush beans and in a short month later its time to start harvesting these small thin beans. Perfect by themselves or in a salad. This was easiest vegetable I have grown, just plant and forget till harvest.

Wine Country Farmers Market

Locals Gathering for Live Music in the Square

Tomatoes Everywhere

Local Grapes

Theres is a farmers market going on everyday somewhere in the bay area including the Northern wine regions of Sonoma and Napa Valleys. For the town of Sonoma its on Tuesday evenings during the summer located in the historic town square. The market includes a wide range of food trucks, booths and vegetable stalls with a live band in the center providing music for the event. What is different is the large amount of wine industry people who gather after work and sharing there wines and talking shop.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prime Summer Tomatoes

Farmers Market Bounty

Spanish Style Gazpacho

Its the end of summer and tomatoes are at there absolute peak right now, eat them now when they are at that there best because these beauties will be gone soon. One of my best ways to eat them is in a chilled gazpacho soup.

Gold and red heirloom tomatoes
Red onion
Spanish sherry vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh Cracked pepper

1. Wash gold tomatoes and quarter.
2. Blend with a dash of vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil.
3. Chill then ladle in bowl.
4. Finely dice red tomatoes, onion and place a small mound in soup.
5. Coarsely chop cilantro and sprinkle in soup, drizzle olive oil on top.

Monday, July 21, 2014

My Take on Red Beans and Rice

Beans and Rice
The Southern Classic "Red Beans and Rice" is my inspiration for tonight's meal. Its a common combo cooked throughout the US and Latin America Countries. Low cost, easy and delicious. My recipe was using fresh ground chili cooked in the rice, slow simmered pinto beans and a chunky corn and avocado salsa. Perfect on a Monday night with lots of leftovers for a few days.

Summer Chunky Salsa

1 ear White Corn, grilled/cut from cob
1 handful Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1 Avocado, diced
a big pinch of Cilantro, chopped
1 Tablespoon White Onion, Fine diced
1 Poblano pepper, Roasted, Cleaned, Diced
Juice of 1 Lime

1. Mix well, season to taste.

Y= 4-6 servings

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rice, Not Just a Side Dish

Aromatic Vegetables
To give good flavor start with diced vegetables like onions, celery, carrot, peppers and fennel bulb.

Saute Vegetables with Rice
Saute the vegetable mixture with rice in olive oil or butter till glossy.
Adding Seasoned Stock
Add seasoned meat or vegetable stock, normally 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice. Cover and simmer till cooked, fluff with a fork and serve.
Intensely Flavorful Fluffy Rice

Its Tomato Season!!

Cherry Tomatoes on the Bush

Just picked and ready to Cook
Nothing like freshly picked tomatoes made into a simple sauce with pasta. its now mid Summer and tomatoes are becoming abundant in area farmers markets now. Go get and eat them because you will surely miss them this winter.
A Sauce of Garlic, Olive Oil and Fresh Tomatoes

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sir and Star Restaurant

Sir and Star Restaurant

Poached Duck Egg on Savoy Cabbage with Thick Cut Bacon

Beef Marrow Bones with Onion Confit and Biscuits

Almost in the middle of nowhere is the West Marin County town of Olema, home to the restaurant Sir and Star. It is owned and operated by Chefs Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong who had the popular Mankas Lodge nearby before it suddenly closed due to a fire that destroyed the building. The new restaurant Sir and Star follows the same menu philosophy of Mankas by using very local ingredients from the sea to the field. The building is a old farmhouse with a wrap around covered porch set in a grove of mature eucalyptus trees and they even painted it black! The food is served in smaller plates perfect for sharing and with a good list of California wines too.

Sir and Star Restaurant
10000 Sir Francis Drake
Olema, CA 94950
415 663 1034

Saturday, June 07, 2014

You have to Eat your Veggies Too

The meat might be the star of the plate but the sides can be great too. This was a sauté baby carrots, Fingerling potatoes and onions all cooked to a caramelized sweetness with a touch of bacon added to give a little smokiness.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Very Local Jacksmelt

Freshly Caught Smelt

Fresh Grilled Smelt 

This past weekend while sailing San Francisco Bay I noticed a school of bigger then normal fish swimming behind my boat, quick get the fishing pole and get a hook in the water with a chunk of squid on it. Minutes later I was reeling in a good size Jacksmelt, about 18 inches long. Smelt resemble a big sardine with a thin skin and small scales, oily but with lighter flesh. I cleaned it and marinated the filet's in extra virgin olive oil before going on a smoking hot grill, a few minutes on each side and it was done. It was delicious and not very fishy, Great with a squeeze of lemon, fresh chopped parsley and a sprinkle of capers. I am going to have to fish for more really soon.

Cobia, a Recent Find

Seared Cobia Fillet with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Its not that often that you will hear of a new fish that's available in the market place but I was recently told from my seafood guy at work about a less common fish called Cobia. Other common names are Black Kingfish, Black Salmon or Lemonfish. I did some research and found that it is a farmed fish raised in huge floating ocean pens. The biggest producers are from Mexico, Panama and Vietnam. I am normally against farmed fish but this one has the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch seal of approval as a best choice. I ordered a few sides to try and experiment with and I found them to be easy to work with a lot like Yellowtail Tuna, firm and meaty with beautiful edible skin. The cost was a little high, around $16 a pound wholesale, not cheap but worth the price if you want a great piece of fish.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Oven Dried Tomatoes

Sun Dried Tomatoes have been around as long as people preserved tomatoes by drying them in the sun, perfectly preserved because of low moisture and natural acidity. That's great in the summer if you have a lot of warm sun but oven dried tomatoes can be made all year, not so much to preserve them but to intensify the flavor and give them a more meaty texture. Roma tomatoes are perfect because of the thick meaty flesh they have, cherry tomatoes work great too.

Oven Dried Tomatoes
Roma or Cherry Tomatoes
Kosher Salt
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Garlic Cloves
Fresh Herbs (Thyme, Rosemary, Sage)

1. Wash and cut the tomatoes in Half, Lay out cut side up on a oiled sheet pan.
2. Sprinkle with salt, garlic and herbs (olive oil later)
3. Place in a low oven 150F-200F
4. Watch them after 2-3 hours for them to slightly shrink and dry out.
5. Remove and drizzle with the olive oil and they are ready to use.

Note: placing in a oven with just the heat of the pilot light overnight is almost fool proof and works well.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Hash and More Hash

Roast Pepper and Potato Hash with Poached Egg

I guess its becoming my signature breakfast now? A one pan meal of potatoes, vegetables and breakfast meats like bacon or sausage accompanied by a lone perfectly poached egg, Salsa Verde on this mornings plate. Perfect way for me to start my day with a big coffee.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeños, My Boating Tradition

Peppers ready to assemble and a cold beer while cooking of course

Wrapped and ready to grill

Hot and Crispy off the Grill
It all started during one sunset at anchor in a quiet bay on the Island of Lanai, Hawaii. My cousin prepared grilled bacon-wrapped jalapenos with a melted cream cheese filling served up with a stiff dark rum and pineapple drink. Wow- I'm hooked now. Grilled peppers have become a tradition on my boat since that trip a few years back. Just this last weekend with good weather, I cooked dinner on my boat and naturally made grilled bacon peppers again. They are very easy to prep ahead of time, and keep cold in the fridge or cooler until ready to grill. Try them on your own home grill. One note on the hotness of the peppers is that they can be very hot when raw, but with precooking and removing the seed membrane, they will be much less hot.

My Grilled Jalapenos 
Jalapeño peppers, large size
Bacon strips, smoked is best
Cream cheese, regular or light
Toothpicks to secure

1. Make a slit down the side of the raw pepper and careful remove all the seeds and whitish membrane.
2. At this point they can be boiled or fire charred to remove skin and precook.
3. When cool and cleaned, stuff slit with cream cheese.
4. Lay a strip of bacon on a cutting board and tightly roll up around stuffed pepper.
5. Secure with toothpick, they are ready to grill.
6. Grill on medium heat and turn son they brown evenly.
7. Remove toothpick and serve.

Note: Wearing plastic gloves will keep your fingers and anything you might touch, from burning when cleaning seeds.