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!

 

 

 

 

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

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!

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.

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

Tomatoes…The Ugly Truth

Found some gigantic, gnarly Travelers tomatoes from the farmers market.  I took pics of them to blog about, and made a delicious panzanella salad.  Then my phone got stolen and the pics that told the story 10,000 words never could.  Regardless of the thievery, I still had something to say.
 

Confession time

The ugly truth is…I don’t enjoy fresh tomatoes.  Yes, I’m “one of those people.” Like Dr. Seus;  I do not like them in a plane, or on a boat, I do not like them with a goat. Ketchup, gravy and salsa are cool, but not if the salsa tastes all tomatoey.   I am not special, there are many like me.  We lurk in the shadows, making small piles of unwanted fruit/vegetable on the side of the plate.  Our blood runs cold when we forget to hold the tomatoes on a burger or sandwich; as we know the taste will spread like wildfire to engulf everything it comes in contact with.
 

Finding my way

Let me be clear; I can somewhat enjoy a tomato if  two things happen.  The tomato needs to be grown well with all needed nutirients, (or in Greece). Or, I have to brainwash myself.  Telling myself before, during and after mastication that, “I have never tasted this exotic fruit/vegetable before, this is a new adventure, and it WILL be delicious.”  I developed this routine in Greece on my honeymoon. Knowing that if I was to enjoy a tomato, Greece (with it’s volcanic soil) would probably be the place.  So I sacked up, stopped being a wuss and started acting like I enjoyed them. It worked :-)  
 
I thought I had read the science behind this but apparently not, as my interwebz research came up empty. What was surprising during the research was the lack of the question.  All matters of science were discussing the nutritional change a tomato goes through when heated but nothing about the taste difference.  What is there or not there after they are cooked? 
Lycopene and glutamate levels are higher in cooked tomatoes and lycopenes molecular shape changes to something more absorbable.  Maybe that changes the taste as well?  I tend to think glutamate as well because of the vast difference between a salted and unsalted bite of tomato.  The salt I think adds a missing link to the glutamate which then gives the taster a savory full bodied flavor.  Like msg.

Fun In The Southwest

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Took a little mini vacation to Arizona.  

Pit tickets to Bruce Springsteen in Phoenix. Then up to Sedona for a couple days of hiking and no kids.  Sedona is known for having Energy Vortexes around specific areas that are supposed to bring the feels. Although we did not feel anything this time, the landscape is breathtaking and the hiking is phenomenal.  After hiking almost 10 miles, we were looking forward to relaxing and seeing some live music in Jerome.  Jerome is a cool, old, haunted little copper mining town north of Cornville. Which was where the yard the housed our tiny camper trailer Air bnb. As we were getting ready, I saw an add on the back of our canyon map for Puscifer the Store.   “I had forgotten about Maynards winery!” (read like a Cathy AACK!)

The Winery

One of my all time bands is Tool.  The singer (Maynard), became a wine enthusiast and started making his own wine.  He sought out grapes suited to the dry Arizona climate and set up shop in Jerome under the name Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room.  Merkin is the more affordable offering but still very high quality.   We settled on the Chupacabra Rosa, which was outstanding.  The Caduceus wines were the most interesting wines I’ve ever had.  The first blew me away, the rest were…challenging.  If you can picture licking a Werewolf right before mornings first light.  A werewolf that’s been running, hunting and killing all night.  Funky hairy beast…although the wine merchants described it as sweaty man, it was just so different, and so perfectly Maynard, that the experience was the memory.

As we settled in with our Chupacabra, Primus is simmering over the speaker system and the ambiance takes over and settles our tired bodies, life is good.

Unexpected treats

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As we were perusing the shop before leaving, I stumbled upon a tiny little baggy of weird. This little baggy was $18 :-|  The merchants didn’t know much but they knew it was edible, so, of course I had to buy it. After using the power of the Googlez, I read they are cactus buds.  An old school southwest food staple that hasn’t quite made it out of the region.  Labor intensive to harvest but nutritionally packed and mellow enough to flavor any way you see fit.  Once re-hydrated, they become texturally interesting chameleons. I threw ’em into a steak dish with mushrooms and sunchokes. Turned out great and got me excited about using them for parties this summer.

Cock-A-Doodle-Delicious

As last year wrapped up, I had the chance (with help and guidance from a friend,) to slaughter and butcher my own chickens.  Well almost, they weren’t chickens, they were roosters.  Rooster is a soup/stew bird that is a bit of a challenge to work with. Everything about it, from the bones to the feathers was strong and tough.  Preparations for our rooster dinner(s) were long and involved but highly rewarding, and economical.  2 roosters made over two nights dinners fed 20+ people.  We went with coq au vin the first night and soup and dumplings the second.  The second night was moan inducing as the meat could tenderize a bit more.

I plan on not using factory farmed meat for home and work this year.  We’ll set up a freezer to fill with locally raised meat in an effort to continue our own  protest of our countries food structure.  Without the time or inclination to spend my mental and physical energy toward protests and politics.  Putting my money where my mouth is is all I can do. Getting us back to basics in terms of food production is empirical for our happiness as a people and planet.  Until Organic is the norm and not the exception, there is work to be done.

Observations:
Found out what a craw is and does.
Poultry have a scent gland on the end of the tail that is always removed.
Rooster testicles are located up in the middle of the body; and taste delicious…just kidding.
Poultry skin lets go of the feathers in specifically 150 degree water.
Roosters are built tough.
Hanging upside down settles the bird.
Chicken feet are scaly, like a reptile.

Your New Holiday Libation…Your Welcome.

Ever sang the Peanut Butter and Jelly song with a group of kids a your local library’s toddler story time?  It’s adorable.  You know what’s more fun then going to toddler story time?  Drinking beer.  Seriously…try it for yourself and compare.

I did a party before Thanksgiving;  before the party the host and I were chatting about this and that when the conversation turned to beer.  He mentioned a concoction that I had never heard of, but for the life of me, I don’t see how that was possible.  It’s such a stupid easy idea, that it made me realize I have a long way to go as far as human development and the usage of my obviously feeble brain.  For two years or so, I’ve known about Peanut Butter Stout.  A popular and wonderfully balanced stout from San Diego’s own, Belching Beaver Brewery in Vista; with a tasting room in North Park.

The Drink

The host of the party asked me if I had ever had a PB&J beer.  An eyebrow raising “noooooooo?” was my reply.  I figured I knew the peanut butter side of it and was right.  Out comes a bottle of peanut butter stout, (the peanut butter).  Then for the jelly, he used a Belgium Kriek Lambic (cherry beer), from Brouwerij Lindemans.  I’m sure there are other beers for the jelly, like raspberry or whatever, but this one seemed like the best of what was available.  Somewhere around a 60-40/70-30 ratio of stout to lambic seems like the money spot.  

Although not a beer you can drink all night long, this combination is all things delicious, interesting and fun.  It brought a smile to my face and it was sweet without being overly sugary. Just a wonderful and different holiday libation.  When it was served at Thanksgiving, everyone was underwhelmed, but that was my fault. Serving them right outta the fridge was an error that masked the flavors.  This drink should be room temp on a cool day.  When cold, the flavors are muted and it just tastes sweet, fizzy and confusing.

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Halloween Kids Treats

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Oooooooo, I’m gettin’ pumped.  This is a Halloween house.  Not only do we love the night of, we have a fun time with it all month.  My neighbor and I spend the entire day decorating.  Which is tiring, but totally worth it and usually kind of fun.  Not only do the kids eyes light up once we’re done, but so do the adults.  Recently I did a kids cooking class for Halloween treats.  Turned out adorable and a good time was had by all.  FYI…kids classes are exponentially harder then adult classes.  About 45 minutes into class when the sugar kicks in…oh man, look out Sally.

We Made:
Green slime
Green slime coated popcorn
Banana ghosts
Cutie pumpkins
Halloween Oreo Stuffed chocolate cupcakes
Caramel apples
Witches fingers
Zombie Twice baked potato mummiesIMG_1431IMG_1435