Summer Harvest

Summer produce options always makes cooking a little easier. Especially when we get all the stone fruits in the market; dessert becomes a little easier to formulate.

What better produce to get then somewhere local offering high quality at a reasonable price. Jared’s Real Food farm in Lakeside has been our go to farm stand this year.

Earlier this summer I was cooking for groups of 2-6 quite often; as people were looking to celebrate in small groups at home. I even had a couple parties of 10. They rented a house in San Diego to party it up and be on vacation, without actually leaving the house. I being alone am a safer option than any dine in business at this point. The only drawback to my service, (compared to a restaurant), is fancy table ware. Restaurants usually have plates and bowls that are elegant or unique, while I serve with whatever the household supplies. Occasionally someone is set up with fancy pants dishes, but usually there are not enough of the cool ones to serve everyone.

Bellow are a couple luscious dishes that have quit a bit going on. First is a wild boar meatball with grilled and marinated baby eggplant, peeled cherry tomatoes and rutabaga noodles. (Yes, even if you don’t like eggplant or rutabaga…this is gooood). The second pic is a lovely, yet complicated salad of bitter endive, tart rhubarb, sweetened broccolini and peeled fresh loquats.

Masked and Ready For Business

I am currently entertaining small groups of wonderful people eating memorable food. Being masked up during parties is no fun, but it beats not being at the party.

Moving forward, we will continue to be healthy, vigilant and kind. We will keep some of our protocols as business returns to whatever the new normal is. June is looking great for me as I hope it is for you. Remember; the world is churning right now, but sometimes agitation gives you something magical…like butter. Below is a quick snap from an anniversary dinner for two awesome parents.

Big Eye tuna with caramelized cauliflower, chile and corn with soy dipping sauce and fresh turmeric oil

Looking Forward…In 2020

I think we are all looking forward to whatever the new normal is going to be. Although my actual cooking hasn’t slowed down, who I am currently cooking for has, as my family has been eating very well.

A random dish from last year: Fresh polenta stuffed with gruyere and served with wild boar sausage and gravy. Crispy kale and herb flowers round it out.

Sooner rather then later, I’ll be back shopping in the markets in some fashion. Practices will change; I imagine I’ll need a mask and removable top to shop before a party. But once I’m at your home, not much will change. I’ll be cooking private dinners for ravenous foodies; which is always great fun. But I love the family vibe and the complications that lie within that type of setting. It’s all fun, like getting a compliment from the grumpy father in-law that proudly “doesn’t like anything”. Or trying to please all the palates for a mutli-generational family of 13. Those successes are just as gratifying as preparing a multi-course fine dining experience.

No matter the occasion, I am excited to bring fresh locally sourced foods into your kitchen. 2020 will end like a flower blooming, and I’ll be here ready to add that flower to a salad…or garnish a soup or something :-)

Aplomb About Plum

Lemon Plums have hit the market. A bright, happy version of the classic plum; this will put a twist into any springtime fruit situation you’ve got goin’ on.

Same relative size as a red or black plum

I’m a bit of a sucker for new flashy fruits or cute veggies of unusually small size. Plum cobbler is my favorite of all fruit cobblers. Coming across this stone fruit made my dessert planning an easy decision. Ingredients like this plum are a prime example of why planning menu details can be counter productive. Planning food around known ingredients can spoil the opportunity for surprise, creation and invention. Which in turn create excitement, which triggers emotion and helps us hold onto a memory.

While the base of this recipe is old, tried, true, and simple. As in all food, It still has to be done properly. This properly cooked cobbler was course 6 of 6. Served with butter roasted, salted cashews and brown sugar/vanilla whipped cream. It was a lovely end to an awesome dinner.

Perfect cobbler waiting for 6 lucky dinner guests

New To You Veggie

Well, probably new to you.

Cardoon is a late fall thistle that pops up in the grocery store every year. Being a thistle, it’s in the artichoke family, which is the reason we eat and buy the scary looking thing. It has a mild bitterness absent in artichokes, but it’s never the overwhelming on the palate. More of an, “oh, yeah, I see what you’re, talking about.”

Preparation

For quick and easy artichoke flavor, you only need 20 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you are waiting for it to heat, prepare the Cardoon. Rinse off any dirt, then slice or peel away the thorns on the edges. Cut the trimmed stalks into 1/2″ slices and dump into the boiling water with a big pinch of salt. Boil for about 5 minutes or until tender. Strain and toss with good salted butter. They are also great in a casserole.

Hunting Good BBQ

Wedding trip to Raleigh North Carolina took me to parts unknown. Alone in another city with nothing to do but explore and eat? Yes please.

Fried chicken, sausage gravy and pickled okra from Mecca

What to do with time to kill

Eating in any downtown can be fun, especially after walking 15 miles of it. There are always options for fun and food, the only question is: What do you want? Most people are satisfied with trendy places that have fancy whiskey drinks and a large assortment of craft beers. I veer toward history and proof of quality. On my recent trip to Raleigh I wanted ethereal BBQ and fried chicken. Most other things would take a side seat to finding those. Of course I branched out here and there. But nothing ever blew my mind, and I failed on some documentation.

The classics are what I seek

I referenced some life changing fried chicken here. With that in mind, I kept ordering fried chicken at places trying to chase that crispy tender dream. I also pride myself on a top quality biscuit, so when someone boasts best biscuit in the city…I gotta check it out. With all the food in Raleigh I had, nothing made me close my eyes and sigh…except the BBQ. This Eastern style whole hog BBQ chopped pork sandwich was everything I needed and wanted. This sandwich alone allowed me to get on my plane at peace with myself and the world. I ordered another one to-go before I left :-)

Almost perfect pickles…

The biggest ordering mistake I made were these fried pickles. I needed a salad at that point, but didn’t realize it till after I ordered. They were overly salty because the flour dredge was heavily seasoned for other items. With the salty pickles it was too much. However. I still got my answer to the quality of the place and the dish. Yes, over salting was a mistake, but the pickles themselves were either home made, or of very high quality and the cut was great. So overall they told me the place cared about small things. If I were to return and order the pickles. I would be very disappointed if they were salty again.

Overall, Raleigh was clean, safe, friendly and delicious. Cheers to a great town.

New Apples Are All That

Perusing seasonal fruits for menu delectability just got easier. I just introduced myself to Lucy Glow and Lucy Rose apples. They are so good, and so cool. The first flesh colored hybrid Pome I’ve ever seen. On top of the cool color, their friggin’ delicious. The glow, with the darker flesh and golden hued skin tastes and textures like the best Fuji. While the Lucy Rose is like the best honeycrisp I’ve ever had; with some berry notes. Here is a lazy link for info, courtesy of Specialty Produce.

Summer Lovin’

Seared Alaskan halibut with sweet onion soubise, fresh corn polenta and peeled tomatoes and favas.

A party is a party. If you’re not having a good time…you’re at a lame party. Is it your fault? Maybe, but probably not. Everyone has a recipe for a good party. I like; great food, music and drinks. Add on some cool people and a tidy place, light some candles if the sun is down and good times are afoot. One thing I have found to be true over the years doing dinner parties everywhere in the county. Parties on the direct beach coastline, like Mission Beach, parts of PB and La Jolla. The hour before sunset is absolutley intoxicating, equaled only by grand mountain views.

Although my food is always moisture rich, I have been efforting sauces lately for photography’s sake. And while I am efforting sauce for pictures…what do I do? A brown sauce, with no shiney counterpoint…Oh well, I’ll keep working on it and will get a new camera soon :-)

Prime tri-tip with avocado mashed potatoes, smokey babaganoush, grilled carrots and parsley roasted broccolini

Having a Proper Hogwarts Pint…

…or Hogsmeade, depending on age.

A little heavy on the froth, but still scrumtious in the morning.

My wife and I started reading Harry Potter around 2003 while entertaining ourselves on long roadtrips. Over the years we enjoyed the movies, but, for various reasons we only finished the 3rd book. A few years ago we picked the books back up for and with our boys. We ripped through the first three pretty quickly, but they needed to grow up a bit more as the books progressed.

Being the food minded person I am, I couldn’t see finishing off our last movies without trying my hand at two of the most classic beverages in the series. Butterbeer of course, which I’ve dabbled with since ’07, but always coming back to the original online knock off of the theme park recipe. But I’d made that for the boys before; and I wanted something new and exciting. Something with all the delectable notions of Butterbeer. One that kept popping up and sounding yummy was “Pumpkin Juice”. “Pumpkin Juice” comes up a lot during breakfast time at Hogwarts and always held a notion of nourishment and comfort.

Extra cream top butterbeer and chocolate frogs. WANDS OUT!

In reality, anything close to plain actual pumpkin juice sounds gaggy. So I went with a mental mix of pumpkin pie and Orange Julius. Although I didn’t incorporate orange flavor, I would like to try this again someday with that flavor in mind. But this one is wicked good.

Pumpkin Juice 2c filtered water 1/3c pumpkin puree 1/4c pure maple syrup pinch of pumpkin pie spice (TJ’s is best)
Small pinch cinnamon
Small pinch salt
1/4tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4tsp lemon juice
1/4tsp vanilla
1 organic free range egg
orange food coloring to look desired

Puree in a blender and serve chilled or over ice

ButterBeer
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
½  teaspoon butterscotch extract
Four 12-ounce bottles cream soda

In a small saucepan over medium, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until the mixture reads 240 F on a candy thermometer.
Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4c of the heavy cream. Set aside to cool to room temperature and add the butterscotch.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Use an electric mixer to beat until just thickened, but not completely whipped, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the brown sugar mixture between 4 tall glasses (about 1/4 cup for each glass).

Vacation Is Medicine…If Taken Properly.

Ahhhh, the Pacific Northwest. Maybe I’m just always on vacation, doing what I love, with who I love; but it always feels right. My wife and I visited Seattle over Labor Day. A although we’ve been there a few times, we still keep missing Pikes Place Market for some reason. I guess that means another trip is in the future :-)

When traveling, I’m usually doing what I can to somehow “taste the region”. That could involve one bite at one place, or many bites at many places. Last time I went to Colorado, I was doing everything I could to find cool game meat. Which was great tearing down on some elk and rattlesnake. This year, I had a craving for NW mollusks that aren’t common in other areas. That meant NW oysters and geoduck. Not having had geoduck in years, it was a treat. But I wasn’t loving the salmon eggs scattered over everything. They dominated rather then played with the flavor. The turmeric oil was lovely and the clam was perfectly prepared.

Oysters can be frustrating because I don’t have them often enough to remember the correct names. There are distinct differences between oyster flavors, so it really matters what you order. We carefully enjoyed and articulated our oysters at Taylor Shellfish,. But alas, I forgot which were which, even though we took this reminder pic.

Working from the fatties on the right, to the left in pairs. The oyster selection was great, great, not good, ok, and amazing. Although I’m sure there are local favorites that Seattleites go to for seafood. I found Taylors searching online for geoduck and they had great Yelp reviews. Enjoyed ourselves so much that we ruined our time table to see Pikes Place. Oh well, at least there was time to blow my taste buds open with some salami from Salumi.

Back to Batalli’s

What used to be famous for being Mario Batalli’s Dad’s joint This place is now just a great old Seattle staple that doesn’t disappoint. As I’m typing this, I’m gnawing on a slice of the whole grain mustard salami pictured below that is just….drool. Although my current (and very temporary) diet disallows me chile flake. I still ordered the chile rolled coppa because I have a hard time controlling myself :-|