Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Baked Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes
I had a great class last night with some familiar faces and some new ones. We made a plum galette, peach turnovers and pizza margarita. (The class was all about dough!) I also told a friend I would post a simple recipe here for him to try...so this is it:
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 teaspoons (10 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or rosemary, minced
1 lb pasta shells or rotini (something short, and hollow to catch the sauce)
1 ¼ cup mascarpone cheese (if unavailable try ricotta cheese)
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
pinch of cayenne pepper
coarse salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C
Line a large shallow sheet pan with aluminum foil. Butter the foil lightly.
Arrange tomatoes in a single layer, cut sides up, on the sheet pan, drizzle the olive oil over them and sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast until slightly plumped, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 12 minutes. Reserve 1 ½ cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain pasta well and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the mascarpone cheese to the pasta and stir until melted. Add back the reserved cooking water, tomatoes, half the parmesan, 3 tablespoons chives, cayenne, salt and pepper and toss well, then allow the mixture to cool to until warm.
Butter a 3-quart (13- by 9-inch) shallow baking dish and add the pasta mixture. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese over top. Bake uncovered until golden and bubbly, 18 to 20 minutes. Garnish with remaining tablespoon of chives.
The pasta can be prepared, but not baked, 3 hours ahead and kept, uncovered, at room temperature. It can also be eaten right from the pan, and not baked.
ADDITIONS: 1 oz soft goat cheese, 4 oz. chopped ham, 2 tablespoons chopped basil, or 4 oz. sautéed baby shrimp.
Monday, August 30, 2004
Dirty Bloody Mary
I really love Dirty Bloody Mary's with a lot of lemon
4 cups ounces tomato juice (V-8 works too)
1 1/2 cups best quality vodka (I use Skyy. For a much spicier drink, use Absolut Pepper)
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon grated horseradish
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Juice of two small lemons
1 oz. pickle juice or (green) olive juice
Pinch of celery salt
Pinch of black pepper
Celery spears, pickles or large green, stuffed olives, for garnish
Combine all (non-garnish) ingredients in a pitcher.
Run a lemon wedge around the rims of 4 large glasses. Fill the glasses with ice, then pour in your Bloody Mary, garnish and enjoy.
Drink, enjoy, repeat
Makes four drinks
Sunday, August 29, 2004
Today I need to make guacamole for a party. It's an easy enough recipe, but one that a lot of people don't make. As a matter of fact, there is a commerical running these days that has a sad looking man tearing an avocado in half and putting it, pit, seed and all into a blender, before proclaiming "Guacamole, it's harder than you think." Funny though the ad is (which, BTW, is an ad for a fast food guacamole bacon burger) it sure is wrong! Guacamole is as simple a recipe as there is! Try this and see.
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and mashed with a fork
¼ cup finely minced onion
1 fresh chile including seeds, minced
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1 small tomato, diced
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Makes about two cups
Here is more information on avocados from the California Avocado Commission
“The best way to tell if an avocado is ready for use is to gently squeeze. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm yet will yield to gentle pressure.
To ripen an avocado, place it in a plain brown paper bag and store at room temperature until ready to eat (usually two to five days). Including an apple or banana in the bag accelerates the process because these fruits give off ethylene gas, a ripening agent.
To Peel An Avocado:
Start with a ripe avocado and cut it lengthwise around the seed. Rotate the halves to separate.
Remove the seed by sliding the tip of a spoon gently underneath and lifting out. The other common seed-extraction method - striking the seed with a knife - is dangerous and not recommended.
Peel the fruit by placing the cut side down and removing the skin with a knife or your fingers, starting at the small end. Or simply scoop out the avocado meat with a spoon.”
For more information on avocados, visit www.avocado.org
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Orange Ricotta Pancakes
Serve these with maple syrup and a large glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. Mmmm.
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup white sugar
Zest of one large orange
½ cup flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Powdered sugar for dusting
Whisk together the ricotta cheese, sugar, eggs, and the orange zest until combined. Stir in the flour until just combined. It is ok if the batter is lumpy. Do not overmix. If batter seems too thick, add up to ¼ cup of cold water.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches (and adding more oil to skillet as needed), add batter, using a scant 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Serve hot, dusted with powdered sugar
Friday, August 27, 2004
Roasted Feta With Mixed Peppers
In honor of the Olympics in Greece, I thought I should include a recipe that uses one of Greece's great exports. Feta cheese. This is super simple, and open to tons of variations:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 thin rings of red bell pepper
4 thin rings of green or yellow bell pepper
3/4 pounds Greek feta, cut about 3/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over moderately low heat. Add the bell pepper rings and saute, turning occasionally, until they soften but still hold their shape.
Put half of the peppers in the center of a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Top with the feta, in one layer. Season the feta with oregano, pepper and pepper flakes. Top with the remaining bell peppers and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Fold the foil loosely around the feta, sealing well.
Bake until the cheese is quivery, 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully transfer the cheese and peppers to a serving plate and pour the juices over. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Heirloom Tomato, Celery and Basil Salad
Americans love tomatoes. Americans buy tomatoes. Most of the recipes I post include tomatoes!
In the final glory days of summer, wet, wild, luscious tomatoes -- tomatoes as they used to be -- are splashing a rainbow of colors across farmers' markets and grocery stores.
If you can, smell tomatoes when you buy them. They should be faintly aromatic. If they smell of nothing they will probably taste of nothing.
The stalk leaves should be fresh and green and the fruit should be firm with a bright, unflawed skin.
Never store tomatoes in the fridge as this impairs natural ripening and flavor, instead store them at room temperature. Over-ripe tomatoes will deteriorate even more quickly if chilled.
Take them out of plastic packaging as soon as you get them home and leave them to "breathe" in a bowl.
4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced crosswise
1/2 sweet onion sliced crosswise (Vadalia or Maui would be best)
4 stalks celery with leaves, thinly sliced crosswise, leaves torn
Small handful fresh basil, torn
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, celery, celery leaves and basil; set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and cream; to combine.
Season with salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss to coat; serve immediately.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Aquavit Spiced Salmon
I love the herbs and spices used in this dish. It's almost refreshing. If you can't find aquavit, season the sour cream with 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon ground dill seeds, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1 tablespoon vodka.
1 pound salmon fillet, skin on, bones removed
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons dill seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon aquavit (Scandinavian alcohol)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chervil or parsley
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, or to taste
Rinse the fish under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a small skillet, over low heat, toast the coriander, cumin, dill, and fennel seeds for about 2 minutes, until they start to release their fragrance. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl, add the salt, and combine.
Rub the fish with the spice mixture and place in a baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
To prepare the aquavit sour cream, in a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, aquavit, caraway seeds, and chervil. Add vinegar to taste. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the baking dish with the fish on the middle oven rack and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until it flakes nicely with a fork.
Serve the fish topped with the sour cream and accompanied by the fennel.
Recipe adapted from Andreas Viestad, author of the incredible book KITCHEN OF LIGHT: New Scandinavian Cooking
Sunday, August 22, 2004
Owning a restaurant
People ask me if I would open a restaurant. I always answer (emphatically) no. For one thing I love meeting people the way I do, getting to give personal service and without the enormous pressure a restaurant brings. I have thought about opening a tiny retail space to have classes, but in the end, I think that is just as stressful (with the rent I would be obliged to someone, something I don’t want.) I read a great article in the San Francisco Chronicle today that explains a little better than I can why opening is a restaurant is so tough. Its super long, so here are some excerpts. For the full story go to
"A love of food and beverage is not enough," said Hudson Riehle, a spokesman at the National Restaurant Association in Washington. "A restaurant operator has to focus on managing the expenses side of the equation."
Consider Gayle Pirie, 40, and John Clark, 44, the husband-and-wife chef team who revitalized Mission District restaurant Foreign Cinema when they took over the kitchen three years ago.
Although it's clear their real love is creating culinary art, they, like most modern chefs, are forced to keep an eye on the bottom line. It's a constant juggling act to provide customers with a bountiful experience while keeping close tabs on the costs of food, labor and a horde of incidentals, from the candle tax to the courtyard heaters to site repairs.
The 220-seat restaurant serves about 1,300 to 1,400 diners a week, with an average per-person check of about $40. After adding in revenues from private parties and people who just have drinks in the bar, it had 2003 sales of $3.2 million and is on track to do $4 million this year.
Foreign Cinema is cash-flow positive, but it won't realize a genuine profit for at least five years, because it carries $2 million in debt. Its earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization were $86,000 last year. With higher sales and a tight grip on operating expenses this year, they may hit $400,000.
Their food and beverage costs average about $21,000 a week, or 30 percent of their weekly revenue of $70,000.
Of every dollar a full-service restaurant brings in, it spends roughly a third on food and alcohol; another third on salaries, wages and benefits; up to 10 cents on rent; and up to 20 cents on other costs such as marketing, according to studies by restaurant associations.
That leaves about 4 cents of pretax profit. As with all restaurants, alcohol is far more profitable than food. "We pay $25 for a bottle of booze and sell it for $100," McDonald said. (Beer and wine have slightly lower markups.) "Many people who start out in the restaurant business end up owning bars or in real estate."
----------- Now you see why I think a restaurant isnt the way to go for me! :-)
Friday, August 20, 2004
Jamaican Jerk Burgers
I made a huge dinner for twenty-five people on Wednesday, with the help of my favorite assistant Gila. It was so nice to spend a day just making a TON of food. I did get a little stressed out towards the end, but overall it was worth it. Here is a recipe for Jamaican Jerk Burgers that I made:
In a blender puree:
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/4 cup parsley
2 medium jalapeño chili, seeded, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
zest of one small orange, and the juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Pour mixture into 3 pounds of ground beef and combine well. Make into patties and grill as normal.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Peach Barbeque Sauce
I don't think anyone doesn't enjoy a really ripe, juicy peach. At this point in the summer though, some people are looking for more things to do with peaches (and all stone fruits) than just eating out of hand, which is why I started making this simple and amazing BBQ sauce...
Easy Peach Barbeque Sauce. My new addiction.
4 large, ripe peaches (or any stone fruit. If the peaches are not really juicy, add a few teaspoons of orange juice)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar OR white vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 small chili pepper (I use a Thai birds-eye, but you can use any you like), seeds removed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon orange zest (bright orange rind of the orange. Do not include the bitter, white pith just under the zest.)
Slice peaches. In a blender or food processor, blend until smooth with vinegar, tomato paste, chili, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and zest. Remove about 1/3 cup sauce to baste over flank steak or chicken for last few minutes barbecuing. Pass the reserved sauce at the table.
Thoughts on Spam.
SPAM®. Before it was an annoying email, it was a food made by Hormel - Spiced-Ham. I am thinking about Spam for two reasons, one because I am making a Luau themed dinner with a client on Wednesday, and two, because I sent an email to a lot of people last night! LOL. Here is some interesting info on this spiced ham product. I have never tried it...have you? It is one of those things that really challenges my mantra, "Don't yuck someone's yum."
SPAM luncheon meat was first introduced in 1937 in Austin, Minn. "No single product in human history is better known for its heroics during wartime, its accomplishments during peacetime and its popularity during mealtime than SPAM Classic." (Or so the Hormel website tells us.) "Spam, the lovable spiced ham in a can, rounds out any true Hawaiian's diet. After being introduced to Spam by the military during World War II, islanders quickly incorporated the food into their cooking. Despite mainland conceptions of Spam as pedestrian and unappealing, islanders are addicted. Hawaii now boasts the highest Spam consumption in the world (11,000 cans daily), and local cooking contests such as the SPAMARAMA in Honolulu and Maui's SPAM cook-off are more popular than ever."
In case you are inspired to try some Spam yourself, here is a recipe I found online at www.hormel.com.
1 (12-ounce) can SPAM
1/3 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
Place SPAM on rack in shallow baking pan. Score surface; stud with cloves. Combine sugar, water, mustard, and vinegar, stirring until smooth. Brush over SPAM. Bake in 375°F oven 20 minutes basting often. Slice to serve. Serves Six.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Saturday, August 14, 2004
Julia Child, cookbook author and television chef (among other things) passed away.
She loved food and loved the camaraderie that came with it. "Dining with one's friends and beloved family is certainly one of life's primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal," she said in the introduction to her seventh book, "The Way to Cook." "In spite of food fads, fitness programs, and health concerns, we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."
"You have to eat to cook. You can't be a good cook and be a noneater. I think eating is the secret to good cooking."
Friday, August 13, 2004
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Animal crackers, and cocoa to drink
That is the finest of suppers, I think
When I'm grown up and can have what I please,
I think I shall always insist upon these.
YOU DON’T LIVE ON PIZZA & CHICKEN NUGGETS, & YOUR CHILD SHOULDN’T EITHER
Introducing your children to a wide variety of foods at an early age is a great way to encourage a lifetime of smart, healthy and sophisticated culinary choices.
Unfortunately, with today’s busy schedules, very few parents have the time to prepare or supervise all the meals their children eat. That is why Fresh Approach Cooking offers NannyCuisine™: the perfect way to introduce your childcare worker to recipes and food preparation techniques based on the foods you want your child to eat.
Good habits begin early and NannyCuisine is an ideal way to start your children down the path of good eating habits. It is also a great solution if you child has dietary restrictions your nanny may not be familiar with - Kosher, Vegetarian, Sugar Free, or Wheat or Dairy Allergies, for example; or if you will be traveling abroad and want to accustom your child to the foods they might encounter while away from home. Even something as simple as wanting new recipes to try is a perfect reason to sign up for NannyCuisine classes. The reasons are endless, and so are the menus Fresh Approach offers.
Fresh Approach chef instructors are very friendly and extremely knowledgeable, with years of experience.
We teach all of the classes in your home, during the day, (so none if your nannies time is spent away from the children) and come with the recipes, ingredients and equipment to teach your nanny how to create delicious meals your children will love to eat – as well as offer instruction in basic sanitation and nutrition. Children are encouraged to watch and learn too – a fantastic way to get them interested in the foods they eat.
Each class runs two hours and is taught based on your family’s approach to food. After the lesson, the Fresh Chef does all the clean up related to the class.
Classes May Include:
Organic Baby Foods
After School Snacks
Make Ahead Dinner for Kids
Special Diet Meals (Wheat Free, Low Fat, Kosher, Milk Allergy, Picky Eaters, etc.)
You can choose to have just one class ($125) or opt for a series of six informative lessons ($600).
We can be reached at info@FreshApproachCooking.com
Please write if you have any questions. We are here to help!
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Fig and Prosciutto Sandwiches
There are several hundred varieties of figs, ranging in color from pale yellow to green to purplish black, with flesh that can be cream-colored but most often is a vivid pink and studded with edible seeds.
Fresh figs are generally available here for a brief time in late spring and again from late July into October.
Here is a recipe for Fig and Prosciutto Sandwiches.
1 loaf rosemary focaccia
3 figs, cut in thin rounds
1 slice prosciutto
One handful arugula, washed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
Thinly slice 4 pieces of focaccia vertically. Place layer of figs on one piece of focaccia. Add a slice of prosciutto and a handful of arugula. Sprinkle arugula with olive oil. Season with pepper to taste. Top with another slice of bread, and press firmly on sandwich to flatten. Cut in half. Repeat from step 2 with 2 more slices bread.
Makes two sandwiches.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Have you ever tried to make your own fresh cheese? I have, and it didn't exactly work (8 hours of work ended with a blob of "mozzarella" that we ended up using as a Super Ball)...SO, I buy cheese (like most people) from a wide array of places...
The Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills and the Cheese Shop of Silverlake, (knowledgeable owners, and they offer a taste before you commit. I think most food should be sold that way...)
Whole Foods of course has a great selection, but your cheese should not be wrapped in plastic, it's dying in there...unwrap it and put it in butchers paper or waxed paper, then keep it someplace cool and dark...
A good online source is The Ideal Cheese Shop (http://www.idealcheese.com/).
Smart and Final in West LA has a good selection, but the one in West Hollywood, oddly, does not.
For other fun information, visit the American Cheese Society at www.cheesesociety.org
Other helpful sites:
So the cheeses that I eat are pretty varied, and cover most of the ones everyone likes, but here are some you may not have tried, that I recommend:
Ribafria (Portugal) - Aged Goats Milk Cheese
Saint Nectaire (France) - Cows Milk Cheese, soft with nutty flavor
Afuega'l Pitu (Spain) - Semi-Soft Cow's Milk cheese
Pecorino Folige Noce (Italy) Semi Firm Sheeps Milk Cheese
Humboldt Fog (USA) - Creamy Goats Milk Cheese with a thin layer and coat of vegetable ash
Shropshire Blue (England) - Sharp, aged, blue veined cows milk cheese
Why not try a new cheese today! (Just not anything by Kraft, ok?)
Monday, August 09, 2004
Fresh Pasta with Prosciutto and English Peas
I'm getting feedback from people saying I don't write enough on this site...that it's just recipes...well, that was sort of the idea, but also, I should point out, I don't really like writing! I don't know, its just not my thing...
So, on that note, I had a TERRIFIC class last night...and in the interest of writing I will say that it came about because I donated one class to a silent auction for a charity event a month or so ago...the winner(s) were absolutely the sweetest people...its incredible to me how many awesome people I meet doing this! It was the first time I've ever actually written the menu without having them have input, so that was fun too.
We made: Fresh Mission Figs with Humboldt Fog Cheese, Classic Adalusian Gazpacho (they liked it, I thought it came out much too oniony...), Fresh Pasta with Prosciutto and English Peas (that was a winner!) and a Mixed Fruit Crisp with Boulder brand French Vanilla Ice Cream (I really like Boulder brand, try some if you ever see it!) Here is the pasta recipe...NOT low fat!
1 pound wide spaghetti
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 cup shelled fresh peas, blanched
4 ounces thinly sliced Prosciutto, chopped
Zest of one lemon, plus juice of half the lemon
¼ cup ricotta salata cheese, grated
Grated Parmesan for topping
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain; reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Simmer cream, butter and lemon peel (not the juice, the juice will make it curdle) in heavy large skillet over medium heat until slightly reduced, about 1 minute.
Stir in Prosciutto and let heat through, about 1 minute. Add pasta and cheese and toss to coat, adding enough pasta cooking liquid to moisten if needed.
Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Garnish with peas.
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Anchovy and Potato Pintxos
Doncha just love it?
It's a Basque word that basically means tapas or canape. There are hundreds of variations, but most are just served as a small bite to be enjoyed with a drink.
This recipe is for Anchovies, Roasted Peppers, Potato and Egg. They are a fab way to snack, indeed.
The recipe is pretty much just assembly, and sure it takes a few minutes, and requires an egg slicer, but once you have your ingredients gathered, it really easy to do.
Try it and see.
And sure, sure, anchovies aren't quite as beloved here as in Spain, (what? you think they taste "furry?" Try the white ones...) but they are really a delicious burst of salty goodness, and this is a spectacular way to have them. I bought mine (both the white and the brown) at Whole Foods in the specialty foods department. You can buy them by the "each" which makes it reasonably priced.
So go on, and make this, you will LOVE it. And for your non-fish-eating friends, it tastes just as good without the anchovies...just add a sprinkle of smoked paprika to the mayo and a bit of coarse salt to the top and you are good to go...
1 large green bell pepper, halved lengthwise, cored and seeded
1 large, ripe red bell pepper, halved lengthwise, cored and seeded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the peppers
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
8 ( 1/4 -inch thick) diagonal slices from a thick baguette (slices should be about 2 inches by 4 or 5 inches) lightly toasted
1 to 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 hard-cooked eggs, cut into thin crosswise slices 1 medium red potato, boiled, peeled and cut into thin slices
8 white anchovies (packed in vinegar), drained
8 brown, oil-packed anchovies, drained
Minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and oil it lightly. Press the peppers gently to flatten them and place them on the cookie sheet skin side up. Brush with a little oil and roast until the peppers are tender and lightly charred, about 35 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 15 minutes. Peel the peppers, return them to the bowl, and toss with the oil and vinegar.
To assemble the canapés, cut the peppers into 1-inch thick strips. Spread each toast lightly with mayonnaise and place a slice of egg and a slice of potato side by side slightly overlapping on each toast. Place a strip of green pepper and a strip of red pepper side by side along the length of the toast, trimming as necessary to fit. Top the red pepper strip with a white anchovy and the green with the brown anchovy. Repeat with the rest of the bread slices. Sprinkle the canapés with parsley and serve.
Pintxos is the Basque equivalent to tapas
California fishermen and seafood suppliers deliver approximately 300 species to market each year
Q. How does the Chicken fit its shell?A. Egg-sactly!!