Peruvian Scallop Ceviche “Tacos”

This dish originated a month or so ago at a dinner party I did for a 50th birthday.   When I got in contact with Bryan from Whissel Realty a couple days later.  This delicious little creation was all I could think about.  It was a fun experience taping this episode of East County Eats, everyone was professional, flexible and upbeat.   Thank You Bryan, Kyle and Shasta and thank you for representing East County!

 

 

 

 

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Seafood and Eat It

Had a lovely time cooking a 10 person dinner party the other night.  Seafood for a 50th birthday was requested;  I went a bit overboard on the seafood request…gigitty.

I was fired up to cook a few items this night.  Hooked some beautiful Opah abductor and Monchong at COP.  While the latter isn’t totally unknown, the flavor and texture is just melty love that will always get a look. The abductor is daunting because it looks like the fishy blood line on a tuna.  Instead, it’s like fish beef…or, the elusive land grazing cow fish, found herding through Mission Valley during flood season.  Totally badass and steaky with a meatier texture then tuna or swordfish.  I was excited about a few other things on this party as well.  The asparagus lettuce was rich, buttery and umami.  The bay scallops were my favorite.  I had a vision that I knew would crush, and it didn’t disappoint.  The combination had that balance and flavor blast that makes you totally weak in the knees.

Peeled and stuffed apricots/ fuji apple / parmesan / truffle 
Charred and buttered baby turnips
Thai pickled watermelon
Kalamata, feta and truffle duchess potato
Baby brussels with honey walnuts

Golden beet soup with chèvreberg / pistachios / roasted beet
Grilled Opah abductor with grilled tomato/ sauteed potobello / beef jus / soy/ sherry vin
Charred carrot and chile calamari  salad / feta / pickled white strawberries/ dill / huge lime supreme / strawberry dust
Ceviched baby scallops with corn chimichurri / avocado / crispy potato skin
Herb painted Monchong/ broiled broccolini / Japanese purple yam / asparagus lettuce / blood orange butter
Macerated strawberries / coconut tuile / mascarpone / egg caramel

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Mandarinquats

As it so often does; the process of my dinners reveal a culinary gem that wouldn’t fruit* without the lack of a shopping list.  What I mistakenly called Tangiquats are actually called Mandarinquats.  Lovely little fruit if you’ve ever enjoyed kumquats.  I used thin slices and baked ’em on top of a chocolate torte.  Used the zest in a stuffed strawberry and ate em whole.  Very exciting little fruit with a great sweetness and wonderful flavor.  Here is everything else you’d like to know about them…   http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Mandarinquats_1772.php.

*punny

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Vegetarian Italian

As eclectic as I like to roll, I always appreciate a request to stick to a specific cuisine.  In this case, Italian…well, Italian vegetarian.  Cooking vegetarian is always a pleasure; most of my normal creativity is based around earth bound procurements. It also relieves me of the pressure to present meat as a necessary perception of value.  As per usual, favorites of the night morphed and changed as the dinner meandered along. It was a great group of Italian travel enthusiasts that were fired up about good wine and everything Italy has to offer. I presented a multi-course dinner of Italian swerve that highlighted farmers market produce.

Apps:
Seared figs and homemade ricotta on crostini
Lamb stuffed and grilled sweet peppers
Taleggio, walnut and pecan stuffed grilled zucchini

Dinner:
-Italian farmers salad- artichoke, gold Chioggia beets, Cerignola olives, pickled red onion and cucumber, roasted eggplant, herbs, shaved fennel and artichoke vinaigrette
-Pear and chestnut soup with tallegio stuffed baby pear
-Cannellini and kale salad with whole pesto ( torn basil, minced garlic, roasted pistachios, shaved reggiano and extra virgin olive oil
-Butter roasted Cipollini onions and brussels with butternut “ravioli” with mushrooms and porcini sauce
-Fresh made spaghetti with chunky/fresh arrabiata
-Tiramisu (requested)

*As usual, there was an absence of pictures but I assure you, everything was just lovely.  To assure the meat eaters out there that I actually do get fired up with meat, here is a picture of my favorite meat dish this year.  Surf ‘n Turf- Roasted salmon with steak tartare, corn riddled mashed potatoes and dijon bearnaise.  Flavor was off the charts.

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Chicken of The Woods

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Beautiful isn’t it?  A farmers market find that I picked up as an interesting new toy for a party.  I was really excited for this mushroom but it was still a known unknown.  I quickly sauteed a little up just to taste test before it was committed to a dish.  Oh man, so bad; tasted and felt like wet like wood  :-|  No worries; a little broth and browning should help…it’ll find its way.  Alas, it did not find its way.  Tried it again a few days later; same thing.  Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever…buy this mushroom.  Apparently, Chicken of the Woods is nothing like Hen of the Woods.  Hen of the woods is friggin’ fantastic and one of my favorite mushrooms.  Side note:  Hen of the Woods are the only mushroom of any real nutritive value, so eat up.  Ohm!

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Night out in North County

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I’ve always enjoyed talking to people at my cooking classes. Last year someone recommended Bellamy’s in Escondido. She also wanted me to try a strawberry cream cake that I have yet to do. Which reminds me of a poke cake I needed to try as well :-/ Aaaaanyway; she happened to write it down and it made its way under a fridge magnet. My wife ended up getting a gift certificate there for Christmas and we just now used it :-)
Lovely restaurant.  Offers all the standards I’d expect to keep the locals coming in with a smattering of interest and ingredient change out to keep it chic. Highlights were the beet ice cream, cod skin and oysters, (not one dish). I personally enjoyed the escargot (pictured), because I hadn’t had it in years; also, the “soil” was playful and appropriate.
Definitely worth a try and absolutely somewhere to go if you live in the area.

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Sauerkraut

IMG_0290What the hell have we been eating all these years?   I enjoy kraut dogs here and there and I’ll soup up a bottle for a party if need be. But it’s usually underwhelming and always cooked.  Sauerkraut from a bottle is pasteurized, so in essence it boils down to cooked cabbage, (puns are fun).  Which is good, sometimes.  I promise you there is nothing like Sauerkraut in all it’s raw glory.  I’ll take it over kimchi without thinking twice.  The complexity you get from a few pantry ingredients is giggle inducing.  The texture is tender yet bouncy, with crunch and moisture.  Flavors are fruity, sweet, sour, earthy and awesome.  If you’ve never made it before, do yourself a flavor and get after it.  Here is how:

1 organic cabbage
2-3tsp salt
1/4tsp caraway seed
7ish juniper berries
pinch of dried dill

Wash and rinse all surfaces well and wash hands. Thinly slice or shave cabbage into a large bowl; mandolines work great. Add everything else and massage the cabbage until it goes a bit limp. I work it for 30-60 seconds, walk away for 5 minutes and work it another 10 seconds. Pour into a lidded jar but don’t cover. Place small glass bottles inside to weigh down the cabbage. After the jars are weighing it down, add some water to cover and a little salt to help the fresh water. Cover with a towel and place in a cool but non-refrigerated spot for a few days. Once you see a bunch of bubbles…you’re good!

*Notes:
– It is important to have it fully covered with liquid before letting it ferment. The acid you want is anaerobic. – If mold appears on top, just remove it and refrigerate. This is common. – I used too much caraway in mine on accident. I don’t care because it’s f’ing glorious, but it was a mistake. I used 1/3-1/2 teaspoon in the pictured kraut.

I’m sparing you all the fermentation science about lactic acid, and sauerkraut being a probiotic wonderland. There are a gazillion articles about that, I just want you to make it cuz iz good.

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Big Parties, Small Parties…Whatever.

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Did a few cool parties around July 4th.  I had the pleasure of cooking for a proposal dinner…she said yes :-)  I also did two totally different parties for the same client.  They were in east county, which is great…cause so am I.  This busy couple decided for their much needed week off, to forgo travel rigamarole and relax at home for a staycation.  Friends, family, food and drinks in a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere; sounds lovely doesn’t it?  I had the pleasure of cooking an intimate dinner for them and their family (5 total).  I did my usual thing; 8+ courses of farm to table awesomeness.  The picture above was what I was working with.  The wild strawberries pictured below made an appearance as well and were a personal freak out moment for me.  As referenced in my last post, I had just returned from Youdapimp after experiencing my first wild strawberry.  Then, what do I find upon my arrival home?  A clamshell of wild strawberries at Specialty Produce’s farmers market cooler.  A whole friggin clam shell!  Got me gigitty for the party and it felt like finding gold.

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The night after that dinner, I cooked for his birthday bash.  40 people enjoying an abundance of fresh, locally farmed produce, served as a casual buffet.  Here was the menu for the big party.

Apps:
Roasted tomato, chevre and oregano baguette
Pickled turnip mini taco with avocado “salad”
Mango gorgonzola nachos

Dinner:
Grilled tri-tip
Carnitas
Basmati rice with toasted vermicelli and zaatar
Roasted cauliflower
Chile/garlic broccoli
Bacon and onion collard greens with almonds and hari cot vert
Big summer salad- romaine, water cress, herbs, cucumber, celery, carrot and red wine vinaigrette
Cherry cobbler with milk chocolate mousse

 

 

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Family Vacation 2016

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Had a great family vacation recently. 35 other family members descended on the Idaho panhandle through various means of travel and it was fun from start to end.

What a bounty of life the Northwest is. Even hiking is mellow cause the ground is bouncy and spongy from all the fallen debris and rain. Keeps a bounce in your step while hiking. I crossed a few things off my bucket list and also crossed some off I didn’t even know were on that list. Like when we were foraging for huckleberries, I found my first wild strawberry. It was so damn cute and delicious. We had many fresh handfuls of huckleberries but on our last day, we were treated to huckleberry pancakes and waffles :-) I’m pretty sure huckleberries are not cultivated and only found in the wild…but I’ll have to Google that. Wow, I saw a skinned bear foot in the river, I saw a moose pretty close. Caught a fish with a lure for the first time. Caught and ate lake trout…which is more like salmon then what I know here in california as trout. Went mushroom hunting and found hedgehogs, chanterelles and shaggy manes…or I found their poisonous cousins…not sure cause I didn’t eat ’em. Not going to the northwest again without a couple good wild edibles books.  Also saw my boys reel in their first fish :-)  Camping is usually cool, but five days of cool is even better.


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Antelope…at Sprouts

My go to local grocery mart tends to be Sprouts. Recently I noticed they had stepped up their game meat game. Antelope, bison, lamb and wild boar, all ground and frozen. I’m loving that they give an option to the standards, antelopeespecially the boar…boar is friggin’ delicious.

I’ve been toying with game meats quite a bit the past few years.  Kangaroo is great and so are frog legs, (both found at Iowa Meats/Siesels).  Windmill Farms had some options as well.  With people looking to deviate from the mechanized meat industry, all these choices are great for the Tuesday switch up.   Although it’s great to switch it up, these meats run leaner then the normal ground round, so make sure your recipes have fat and or moisture.  That means meat loafs and balls.  Although fine when cooked in a pan like tacos, I’d rather use them for something like sloppy joes or ragout.  We had broccoli, mushroom and antelope stir-fry.  It was good, but not because, of the antelope. ;-)antelope 2

 

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