July 2009 Archives

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I just had the best salad of my life!  Our new Green Bean-Tuna Salad with Black Olive Dressing. 


A few months ago I had a wonderful green bean salad at Shady Lady in Sacramento.  Chilled, cooked green beans, with chopped sweet peppers, in a nice vinaigrette.  I loved it and it made me think about adding a green bean salad at Tucos.

 

After spending about a month thinking about green beans (no, I'm not kidding), I came up with an idea to ceviche the beans.  Cilantro, sweet onion, hot peppers, lime juice seemed like a wonderful way to frame the chilled, cooked green beans..... Failure.  The lime juice never really wanted to marry with the green beans, neither did the hot peppers, and the texture was, how do I say it politely, BORING.  Back to the drawing board.  Another week or so thinking about green beans and then it came to me while driving- green beans, hard-cooked egg, really good canned tuna, sweet onions.  Today I put the idea on the plate, adding nicoise olives, creating a garlicky, lemony, dressing with black olives and the results were spiritual...  It has to be the absolute best possible way to enjoy a green bean.


Recipe for the Black Olive Dressing:


1C  Mojo Sauce (see prior posting for recipe)

1/4 C Olive Oil

2 TBS Black Olives (prefer nicoise)


Blend until emulsified


Build the salad to taste with however much green beans, sweet onion, hard-cooked eggs, tuna, nicoise olive (or other pitted, feisty black olive) and fresh chopped parsley.  Apply dressing generously.  Careful with the salt since the black olive dressing is a bit salty already (from the olives).

Tucos at the SF Ferry Building

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Yesterday was such a wonderful day!  I got to present a cooking demonstration at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market- one of the nation's most prestigious farmer's market.  It was a dream-come-true!  I presented a three-course menu designed to be easy, delicious, and fun- a menu that will work well for a summer get-together with friends and family:


Farmer's Market Green Salad with Citrus Dressing

Summer Paella

Panna Cotta (Italian gelatin custard) with Market Fruit Compote


The recipes are great  workhorse recipes for improvising around your finds at the market.  The demonstration seemed to be very well received by the standing room-only crowd.  A special tahnk you to Antonio, our lead cook, for helping out with the demo- we made a great team!  Here are the recipes for anyone interested:


Farmers Market Green Salad With Citrus Dressing

(serves 10)

1/2    cup fresh orange juice

1/2    cup olive oil

1/4    cup apple cider vinegar

1/2    teaspoon Dijon mustard

2    teaspoons chopped fresh chives

2    teaspoons chopped sweet onion

1    teaspoon salt

2    pounds salad mix

1    cup golden raisins

1    cup toasted nuts

2    cup fruit, sliced thin


For dressing:

In a blender, combine orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, chives, onion and salt and blend on medium speed. Set aside.


For salad:

In a large bowl, combine salad mix, raisins, nuts and fruit slices. Toss with the dressing and serve.


Farmers Market Paella

(serves 10)


1          quart shellfish

1          cup light crisp white wine

1          onion, chopped, sautéed golden

1          quart market meats (sausage, chicken, seafood, etc.), cooked (roasted or boiled)

2          cup medium-grain rice

1          quart ripe tomatoes, peeled, diced

½   cup olive oil

1            tablespoon kosher salt

pinch of saffron

2          shakes Tabasco

1/4   cup Mojo sauce


For market meats:

Boil meats like sausage, chicken (skinless).  Seafood can be raw.


For Broth:

Boil 1 quart shellfish (clams ideal) until done.  Reserved the seafood to add to finished Paella.  Used liquid for broth. Add hot water to make 3 cups broth.


For Rice:

Combine rice, broth, saffron, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, salt, Tabasco in pot or deep baking pan, cover with foil and bake 20 minutes in 400F oven. Then add cooked market meats (including reserved shellfish from broth), cover and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Finish by drizzling mojo sauce on top and generous freshly chopped herbs.


Mojo Sauce


1/3    cup olive oil

1/3    cup orange juice

1/3    cup lemon juice

6          garlic cloves- fine minced

1            teaspoon kosher salt

½      teaspoon ground pepper

½      teaspoon ground cumin


Combine


Panna Cotta with Market Fruit Compote

(8 servings)


½     cup heavy cream

½     cup crème fraiche (or sour cream)

1 ½  cup milk

½     cup sugar

1            teaspoon vanilla

3     sheets gelatin (or 3 tablespoons gelatin powder)


Soak gelatin sheets in cold water until soft.  Mix milk into crème fraiche a little at a time to thin  without clumps, add sugar and vanilla.  Lightly squeeze softened gelatin sheets and melt in small pan over hot water, then slowly add cream mix (similar to tempering eggs).  Refrigerate until set.



Market Fruit Compote

(2 cups)

½    cup water

½    cup sugar

1     cup fresh fruit, peeled, diced

1            tablespoon liquor (rum, bourbon, tequila depending on the fruit)

Make simple syrup by bringing water to boil and adding sugar.  Remove from heat.  Add half of fruit and blend.  Add remaining fruit and alcohol.  Refrigerate.

Baby Light My Fire!!

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Cooking over primitive, hardwood fires is my new religion... As I write this, I'm still floating on air from my recent evening experimenting with cooking over a primitive, hardwood fire (a campfire).  I'm feeling incredibly relaxed as a result, almost like I spent a day at the beach or at some wonderful camping trip....  When I think about it, should be no surprise- I love camping and my favorite part of camping is the campfire.  There's something calming, spiritual and therapeutic about it. 


A recent Anthony Bourdain show on Argentinean Chef Francis Mallmann's passion for cooking over harwood fires (as well as his recent book "Seven Fires") captured my imagination and basically reset my culinary clock.  Tired of waiting for a camping trip, I improvised by layering brick and stone onto a wheelbarrow and began my campfire.  I laid a cast iron griddle and nice heavy grill from my barbeque and began my adventure- spring onion and tomato halves basted in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt, sweet peppers roasted over the hottest part of the fire then slow cooked over the coolest part till they went perfectly limp, freshly-picked ears of yellow corn roasted over the hottest part. Fra'Mani sausages on the griddle, and rib-eye steaks both on the grill and griddle to see the differences.  The results were roll-your-eyes-to-the-back-of-your-head spectacular.  Mallmann is onto something.  The burnt flavors together with the campfire smokiness strikes at the most primitive parts of our pleasure zones like few things in life can... I won't name those few other things- you know already.


I strongly recommend that everyone reading this posting rush out and by some oak firewood and build themselves a fire pit.  Oh and pick up plenty of marshmallows too- the kids are going to love you for it.

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