Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saute Snapper with Summer Vegetables

Tonight I chose to make a pan seared fillet of Snapper with a quick saute of Summer vegetables and tomato sauce. The fish was simply seasoned with kosher salt and pepper then cooked in a hot saute pan with a splash of extra virgin olive oil. While the fish was cooking, I placed diced green and yellow squash, onions, corn and cherry tomatoes into another hot pan with olive oil, tossed until cooked through but still with some crunch. The fish is flipped over to finish cooking while the vegetables are placed in the center of the plate, a spoonful of freshly made tomato sauce drizzled around and then the cooked fish goes on top.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blackened Rock Cod with Tomato and Corn Relish

Its the end of Summer and with that a heatwave to warm things up, maybe for one last time before the cold weather reappears. I enjoyed the weather with a spicy blackened fillet of Rock Cod or Red Snapper as its also known as. To serve with the fish I chose to make a Summer relish of grilled yellow corn, cherry tomatoes and lime segments. Quick, light and easy on a hot night.

Corn-Tomato relish
1 lime, segments removed
1 ear of corn, grilled and cut
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 pinch parsley, chopped
3 Tablespoons, extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lime
Kosher Salt/Cracked Peppercorns

1. Mix well and taste for proper seasoning.

Blackened Fish Fillets
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper

2 boneless 5-6 oz Rock Cod Fillets, skin on, scales off

1. Dredge the fillets in the spice mixture.
2. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a very hot cast iron pan.
3. Place the fillets skin side down, press flat with a spatula to prevent the fish from curling.
4. After about one minute, flip over to finish cooking, which should only one or two minutes.

The fish fillets should be dark and crisp but without being burned, serve the fish with the Tomato and corn relish.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Baby Back Pork Ribs with a Tropical Twist

Tropical Baby Back Pork Ribs
I recently bought baby back Pork ribs with a couple of ideas on how to prepare them, my first idea was to wrap them in banana leafs and cook them Island style, low and slow till tender. The twist was to take advantage of the amazing stone fruits flooding the markets right now. I made a simple chipotle chili and peach glaze, this was then brushed on the ribs, next was to wrap in banana leafs and steam in a pressure cooker. As the ribs slowly cooked with that constant steam hiss of the pressure cooker I prepared a chutney using fresh peach, banana and flavored with a cardamon pod. After a few hours of cooking, the ribs were ready to eat. The meat just fell off the bone with the flavors being as interesting as good, everything worked really well together, a little spicy and tangy with sweetness from the fruits. Sometimes experments don't always work out, this time it did and dinner turned out great.
Peach-Banana Chutney
1 ripe Peach, pitted and diced
2 firm Bananas, peeled and diced
1 small red Onion, peeled and diced
3 T Sugar
2 T White wine vinegar
1 dash cracked pepper
1 cardamon pod, cracked
1 cup water
1. Slowly simmer all ingredients till water reduces and mixture thickens.
2. Discard cardamon pod.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sugar Snap Pea Risotto

Five perfect ingredients transformed into a Delicious dinner, the inspiration came from baskets of flawless organic snap peas bought from the local farmers market. The addition of Arborio rice, torpedo red onions, Parmesan cheese and water all properly added and cooked together at the appropriate time. Fast, simple and perfect quality.

Kettle Grilling

Smokin Kettle

Smoky Grilled Chicken Quarters

My brother and I were put in charge of cooking for a recent family gathering and we had the use of a huge ceramic kettle grill. This type of grill has origins in Japan where it is known as a shichirin, a ceramic stove. The grill had a large egg shape which is designed to contain and reflect the heat source from the bottom. It took awhile to get the fire going and to burn down to white hot coals, the marinated chicken quarters went on the grill and the huge lid was then lowered in place. Massive amounts of smoke poured out of the adjustable vent on top and with temperatures reaching 500 degrees or more it was not long before the "its ready" was said. The chicken was left with crispy golden skin on the outside and with moist smoke flavored meat inside, it was perfect for a summer night.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

San Francisco Farmers Market

The biggest and best Farmers market in San Francisco happens every Saturday at the ferry terminal building on the waterfront, The historical building itself holds some of the best restaurants, specialty markets and stores in San Francisco and with the addition of the Saturday farmers market it is a true destination for anyone that loves food and exploring what makes the bay area one of the food capital's of the Country. The local shoppers tend to come early and buy what they need and are gone before the mid day crowds come.

Baby Beets

I woke up to a beautiful day and had the idea of taking one of the local ferry boats into San Francisco, with scenic views of the bay and city without the driving or parking issues of the big city. The first thing the hits you is all the smells of food cooking, from Latin tamales to local oysters and the grill, it can be overwhelming with all the choices of food. The best way to shop is look at every stall and note what interests you and price, then go back and get what you what at a stall with the best price. I go for the things that you can't find often in markets like baby vegetables, specialty greens and breads. With bags full of food and maybe a few bites from a vendor its time to re board for the trip home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sweet Pepper Bruschetta

The saying "Less is more" really applies when you are using only a few good quality ingredients. Tonight I made a simple bruschetta with Italian Fontina cheese and sweet red peppers slowly simmered in extra virgin olive oil. I started with thick slices of local toasted artisan Ciabatta bread topped with of creamy Fontina cheese, next the peppers go on after slowly cooking in olive oil till soft and tender. I placed the bruschetta under the broiler to quickly melt the cheese and its done. The taste of crunchy toasted bread with the semi-pungent creamy cheese and the oil drenched sweet peppers is pure joy!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Ring Mountain Wild Blackberry Tart

Wild Blackberry Tart

Fresh Picked Berries

Ring Mountain View

There is a small bay area mountain behind my house here in Marin County called Ring Mountain, its great for hiking and the views from the top are amazing. Today I discovered blackberries growing wild on a mid morning hike up the mountain, they are just beginning to ripen and bursting with a tart juicy sweetness. I had to take advantage of all the berries by picking a bag full for a for a tart I plan to make. I started by using small four inch tart pans to make single serving tarts. I made a basic sweet pie dough using flour, butter, sugar and ice water, after I rolled out the dough and lined the small pans I pre cooked them, this method is called blind baking. Next I tossed the berries in sugar and cornstarch which will help thicken the juice from the berries. Then into a 350F oven for about 20 minutes, the individual pies are now done and need to cool before coming out of the tart pans. Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream are perfect to serve with them while still warm. The kids loved them and want to go back for more.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Amazing Carrots from the Berkeley Bowl Market

I went on a special trip across San Francisco bay to one of my favorite markets, Berkeley Bowl. It is ranked as one of the best markets in the whole country and the produce department has no match. The selection of fresh produce is almost ridiculous, but truly amazing at the same time. Just the selection of carrots included at least ten or more varieties, I could not pass up on these up, so I bought a few of each color. I quickly blanched them after carefully peeling them, next they were tossed with in a dash of butter and fresh chopped herbs.

Berkeley Bowl West, 920 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley, Ca 510.898.9555

Monday, August 03, 2009

Greek Style Heirloom Tomato Salad

I made a simple Greek salad using a amazing heirloom tomatoes that I bought at the weekend farmers market. Really fast and simple with a lot of flavor.

1 Heirloom Tomato, sliced
1 pinch Red Onions, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Feta cheese
3 Green Olives, pitted
1 pinch fresh Oregano
1 splash Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dash of Good red wine vinegar
Sea Salt/Black Pepper

1. Arrange sliced tomatoes on platter.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients over the tomatoes.
3. Season with Sea Salt and Cracked Peppercorns.
Note: Sliced Cucumbers are a great addition.

Weekend Sailing on San Francisco Bay

The Calm and Sunny Waters of the North Bay

Grilling Salmon at Anchor

Sunset at Ayala Cove, Angel Island

During the Summer months its often quite windy but sunny on San Francisco bay, weekend day sails are are a lot of fun, but when given the chance to over night in a quiet cove, I am all up for it. My brother came into town for the weekend, which gave us the excuse to sail, so we stocked up the boat with lots of good food and drinking supplies and set sail. Grilled sausage sandwiches were for lunch while sailing in a fairly calm part of the North bay, then it was on to the central bay with windy white capped waves for the rest of the afternoon. We then sailed to Ayala cove at Angel Island state park, we would share this quiet anchorage with only about ten other boats. With the boat now securely moored for the night we could relax and grill a dinner of salmon with new potatoes and Summer vegetables. As we watched the sun set behind the Western Marin hills we had after dinner drinks made with Myers dark rum and pineapple juice. When it became dark, sleep came fast as the boat gently rocked at anchor.