Browsing Category


dinner fried grilled How-to Italian main courses Recipes Summer vegetables & hot greens

Fried Baby Artichokes & Potatoes with Flank Steak

May 24, 2011

fried baby artichokes and fried potatoes

grilled flank steak

From A Platter of Figs – totally doable on a Tuesday night, shopping and all!
Recipe for Fried Baby Artichokes and Potatoes with Flank Steak
For Two

1.5-2lb flank steak
2 C new potatoes or other tender spring potatoes, washed, boiled until just tender and halved/quartered
8-10 baby artichokes, outter layers peeled, tops cut off and halved or quartered*
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 sprigs parsley (or more/less), chopped finely
1.5 C arugula, optional
2 T olive oil
lots of vegetable oil (sunflower or safflower or other high heat oil)
salt & pepper

* As you clean and prep the artichokes, place them in acidulated water (water with juice of a lemon or lime) to prevent browning.

For the Steak
Generously salt & pepper both sides of the flank steak and set aside. Can refrigerate overnight ahead or season within 2 hours of cooking and leave out at room temp.

For the Potatoes & Artichokes
Prep all ingredients ahead. Heat the grill for the steak and begin cooking steak as you start this processs:

Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and cook the artichokes until beginning to color. This is to remove moisture and prepare for frying. Add the potatoes after about 2-3 minutes of cooking and cook. In a large cast iron or other high sided skillet, heat a generous inch of vegetable oil to frying heat. Test with a potato if needed for even bubbling. Add the potatoes and fry 1 minute, then add artichokes and fry all until deep golden. Remove and drain on paper towels or cooling racks.

In original skillet, heat 2 T olive oil with garlic, cooking at low heat until flavor is infused, about 3 minutes. Add fried artichokes and potatoes, salt, pepper, and parsley. Toss and serve. * Original recipe calls to add fresh arugula to potato mixture if you like.

dinner Fall How-to Japanese lunch main courses Recipes soups Winter

“Moon Viewing Noodles” – Udon with Pork & Sweet Potatoes

February 16, 2011
udon noodles with pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes "moon viewing noodles"
udon noodles with pork tenderloin and sweet potatoes "moon viewing noodles"

The hiatus was not entirely my fault. We had an issue with the kitchen sink’s piping, which, once we went in to fix what seemed simple, turned into quite a mess of replacing one part after another, the crescendo being when the disposal decided to actually fall out.

I was not very motivated to create more messes with no great way to clean them, and shortly after that was fixed the hot water decided to turn a lovely rusty brown. Anyway, we are all back in action and, I’m happy to say, fully functional again!

About this time last year I began cooking lots of Japanese food, mainly from a great cook book I own called Washoku Kitchen ($24.50 at the time of this post)– “recipes for Japanese home cooking.” I picked it back up yesterday and started cooking, with a few modifications.

The thing about good Japanese cooking is that the most delicious items seem to take many steps–5 ingredients, but each one you must create. A soy concentrate. A dashi. A miso mixture. It takes time, and works best if you start cooking a LOT of Japanese food, so you can make these things and use them more than once without duplicating efforts.

Udon noodles with pork & sweet potatoes/yams

For 3-4 people as a main course
12 oz fresh udon noodles, cooked*
8 cups dashi with shitake**
4 T seasoned soy concentrate***
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled & cubed
1/2 lb pork tenderloin, sliced thinly
2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Bring the dashi to a light simmer, adding the soy concentrate. Place the cooked udon noodles in heated bowls. Using a large skillet and a lightly flavored oil such as avocado, cook the sweet potato on medium high heat until color is deepened, adding a touch of salt.

Add 1 T sake and 2 T water, and cover to steam 3-4 minutes. Push potatoes to side of pan and add pork, trying not to pile the pieces on top of each other. When pork is cooked, pour broth over noodles, add potatoes & pork to one side of bowl and sprinkle green onion over the top.

*cooked in a wide, not too deep pot with plenty of water for 2 minutes boiling, then drained and rinsed in cool water

**combine cold water with strip of kombu (thick kelp) and two dried shitake mushrooms. After 10 minutes, bring to just under a boil and then turn off. Add 1 cup unpacked bonito flakes (large tuna flakes). Let steep 2 minutes, then strain and return to clean pot

***Combine 2/3 cup soy, 1/3 cup sake, 1 dried shitake mushroom & 1/4 cup bonito or other tuna flakes, let steep 1hour-12 hours. Add 2T mirin, 3T water, 3T sugar. Bring to a simmer and reduce by 1/4. Strain and reserve.

appetizers condiments & pickles Fall How-to Recipes salads Winter

Creamy winter citrus & crab salad

January 5, 2011

Winter salad with citrus and creamy yogurt dressing

Creamy winter citrus salad with Crab

For four:
1 dungeness crab, picked for meat (or about 8 legs/1.25 lbs in-shell)
2 small, tasty oranges
2 grapefruit
1 ripe avocado
1/2 C pepitas (pumpkin seeds, raw preferably)
3T plain greek yogurt
1 shallot
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T good, mild olive oil
bunch watercress
bunch frisee

Pick the crab meat and mince the shallot. Toast the pepitas in a hot pan, moving constantly for a few minutes. Zest the oranges and grapefruit a bit to get about 1-2 tsp of zest into a small bowl. Section the fruits by slicing the stem/flower ends off and cutting the pith away. Hold the fruit in your hand and cut* along the membranes to section the fruit out.

Drain the excess juice into the zest bowl, and add the yogurt, shallot, lemon juice, olive oil and a bit of salt. Whisk together and let stand. Slice your avocado thinly and portion 1/4 for each serving. Dress the frisee and watercress in the creamy citrus dressing, and assemble the citrus segments, crab, avocado and pepitas on top.

*If you’re afraid of doing this, watch a youtube video; if you’re still afraid, cut them in rounds instead.

condiments & pickles How-to Recipes vegan vegetarian

Watermelon Rind Pickle Recipe & Their Applications

August 15, 2010
Homemade pickled watermelon rinds

Homemade pickled watermelon rinds

My mother loves using these as appetizers by wrapping bacon around them, tooth-picking them and cooking in the oven until crispy, salty, sweet.

They’re relatively annoying to find in local markets and for a variety of reasons I expect them to be better made at home–organic watermelon, spices hand carried back from India, quality control. In a market, a jar half this size will cost about $4-5.

Watermelon rind in brine


Pickled Watermelon Rinds with Water Bath

These will keep at least a year assuming a seal is made upon canning.

Rind from an 8lb watermelon, peeled, flesh removed and cubed
Lots of kosher salt
Lots of water
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar, rice vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 T whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches or so long
1-2 T star anise, whole
Optional: whole mace, tied in a cheesecloth bag (do not can it)

Peel and chop your watermelon rind and place the pieces in a briny water overnight, up to 24 hours, at room temperature.  You should use 3T kosher salt to every quart of water. Let it sit a few minutes then give it a stir to dissolve.

Drain the rind and put it in a large pan, such as a pasta pot. Fill with water, just covering the pieces. Simmer until becoming slightly translucent, about 40 minutes.

Drain again and set aside. Use the same pot to combine the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil, add the spices and the watermelon rind, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking about 20-30 more minutes, until all pieces are translucent.

Immediately transfer the rind pieces into clean mason jars or canning jars and have new lids ready and clean. Once the rind is distributed, pour the spices and spice syrup (less the mace packet in cheesecloth) in over the rind until about 1/4 inch from the top, covering the pieces.

Screw the lids on with moderate force and place into a large pot (maybe the same one, cleaned?) filled with warm/hot from the tap water, and bring it to a gentle boil. Once boiling, continue for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and leave until cool enough to handle.

If you force the jars to cool more quickly, they will likely crack or break. Within about an hour, all of the seals will probably sink to show that they are pasteurized and ready for storage. If they have not sunk by 24 hours later, you’ll need to repeat the water bath process.

How-to Recipes San Francisco

Grilled Tri Tip & Favas with Pecorino Ginepro

May 15, 2009

For the Tri Tip (can sub skirt or flank steak, etc)
1 tri tip, marinaded at least 2 hours, up to 36
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup teriyaki or similar sauce
1/4 cup oil (your choice)
1 tbsp chili flakes
2 shots whiskey/brandy/etc
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper

Grill to your best ability.

For the Favas:
1-2lb fresh fava beans in their pods
2 large shallots*
pecorino ginepro (romano will do if you live in the middle of nowhere, but if you don’t i expect you to seek a better alternative, really, for shame)
juice of 1/2 lime
salt & pepper

Boil water, salt it, and put the fava beans in (take them out of their pods first). Cook 1-2 minutes until color has brightened a little. Drain them and put them into iced water, and immediately use your fingers/nails to remove their outer shell. Set aside the inner meat/bean.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a non stick, and add your shallots sliced in rings, with some salt & pepper. When softened, add your favas, salt, and pepper, and cook quickly until warmed and coated. Add juice of 1/2 lime (a tart orange is ok too). Serve with shaved pecorino ginepro or other firm, sheeps milk, salty cheese.

*If you’re feeling naughty you could add some pancetta at the same time as the shallots and skimp a little on the oil.

How-to Recipes San Francisco

BBQ’d Cilantro-Garlic Blue Gulf Shrimp + Asparagus Orzo

April 6, 2009

Proportion for each serving of 6 shrimp:
2T minced garlic
3T olive oil
2T lemon/lime juice
1T minced cilantro
salt & pepper

Clean your shrimp by removing the vein which runs along the outer curve (this is its intestinal tract and its contents are gritty and gross to eat–so cut with a small knife along the top ridge, and then rinse under water to ensure it’s all gone, agitating with your fingers if necessary), then discard the shell or reserve to make some other project of yours.

Adjust the ingredients above as you see fit, but this is a good starting point. Marinade the shrimp for 30 min-2 hr. More than that and the citrus will start cooking them significantly and you’ll end up with oily ceviche.

Grill on high heat, turning towards the end of cooking so that you char a bit on one side. Watch them, they don’t take long. Serve with fresh lime.

1/2 pack Eduardo’s Orzo (my favorite blue and clear packaged San Francisco stuff)
Several stems asparagus
red onion
olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 lemon

Boil the orzo in salted water until tender. Meanwhile, lightly sautee (do not make soft) minced red onion in olive oil, salt, pepper. Add asparagus and cook at medium heat until soft and brightly colored. Add the cooked orzo, turning heat up. Adjust seasoning and add the juice of the lemon to taste.


Unpacking my Capay Farm Fresh To You Shipment

January 3, 2009

I talk frequently in this blog about what I’ve been making with my produce shipment which I began receiving in November, just before Thanksgiving. From the very first shipment I was impressed–I was given not only beautiful, organic produce grown locally which would allow it to last much longer and be eaten much fresher, but also a selection that reflected what I’d be needing for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Thoughtful.

This past Tuesday I received my shipment of the fortnight. It contained a gorgeous napa cabbage (which I have yet to make a salad with), collard greens, radicchio (unfortunately I still have 4 heads left from last shipments ridiculously large allotment, my only complaint), baby bok choy, butternut squash, baby lettuce heads, leeks, red norland potatoes, dino kale (with a lot of high protein bugs! no seriously, kind of an annoyance, but if i wanted pristine looking engineered veggies I’d go to the chain grocery store and eat pestisides instead of bugs), navel oranges and pinova apples.

The first night I sauteed simply the bok choy with chili flakes and garlic and we had it all by itself; another night I used some of the potatoes and the collards with some bacon to make a light meal before we headed out, last night I used a bit more of the Amsterdam Gouda (1 lb block that was given to us) in a scalloped potato dish with more of the potatoes, I boiled the kale and served it with poached eggs, and more.

Needless to say every other Tuesday evening is now spent washing, cutting, tearing and saving greens.

I finally invested in a salad spinner to cut down the time I spend on this, but it’s necessary to do it or most of the items will wilt and go bad before I have a chance to use them. We receive a full shipment but there are only two of us eating away at the box, so we have to make a serious effort to get our money’s worth, despite that it’s a great value ($29 delivered to my door for all of the above!).

For salad greens:

Seperate leaves, remove any bad parts. “Float” in cool water and agitate gently. Repeat if especially dirty in new water. Spin dry (a little moisture left is OK) , wrap in clean papertowels loosely and pack into plastic container, tupperware, or ziplock. Make sure no greens are touching the plastic directly–it will promote spoilage/bacterial growth and will make them go bad more quickly. I like to mix my lettuces at this point and make my own cleaned, ready to use salad mix.

For cooking greens:

Wash in similar manner to salad greens, checking leaves carefully for bugs and larvae. Once clean, remove stems and chop leaves to size you’d like to cook with if you know what you’ll do with them. Retaining some moisture on the leaves, wrap in papertowels and store similarly. Cooking greens (collards, kale, chard) will go dry quickly and become tough if they don’t have enough moisture. If this happens, they can still be used, but I’d recommend boiling or steaming them to restore some texture rather than sauteeing.

For leeks:

Chop any damaged green leaves off the top, leaving some of the firm green leaves (this goes against what most other sites will tell you, but as long as you throw the green part in the pan a bit before the white so they cook evenly, they’re just as delicious. If you hate them, cut them off and reserve them for making stock!). Split the leeks down the center so each is two long peices. Submerge in cool water in a bowl and agitate, especially paying attention to outer leaves and using your fingers to remove the dirt. Leeks are grown in sand and can be very gritty if you do not do this.

How-to lunch one-pan recipes Recipes soups vegetarian

Capay Leek & Potato Soup (& a lesson on leek etiquette)

November 30, 2008
Capay Farm Leek & Potato Soup
Capay Farm Leek & Potato Soup

I drove my Capay Farm Leeks back up the coast to Mendocino for Thanksgiving and found myself cleaning & chopping them to make a leek & potato soup to feed all of us cooks before the main event–kind of like the “family meal” in a restaurant.

On cleaning leeks & picking leeks: A good leak is not slimy, is firm, and has healthy, firm looking leaves. They will have minimal wear and tear at the tips of the greens but will not be cut excessively short already.

Leeks are particularly sandy because of the way in which they grow. The best way to clean them is to cut the tattered or overly wilted greens off the top, slice them in half lengthwise so all the layers are accessible, and put them in a large bowl of water. Go through the outer layers with particular care and use your fingers to brush away or agitate any dirt/sand. Give them a good wiggle in the water and be sure to change the water frequently especially if your bowl is smaller.

Capay Farms Leek & Potato Soup

Leek & Potato Soup Recipe

3-4 medium leeks or equivalent
1 small yellow onion or half a large one
1 stick butter
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock (organic box of it or your own)
1 qt 2% or 1% milk
2 russet or red skin potatoes
salt & pepper

In a large sautee pan or cast iron skillet add half the butter at medium high heat.

Chop your leeks in half circles as thin as is reasonable to be consistent. Use the firmer part of the greens as well if in good condition. Add to the warmed butter once it has stopped bubbling. Add salt & pepper. After a few minutes, reduce heat to medium or medium low. Stir occasionally the whole time to prevent too much coloring or carmelization in one place.

While the leeks are cooking, peel your potatoes and chop them into cubes; perhaps a bit smaller than a lego. Dice the onion finely.

To a large soup pot, add the other stick of butter.  Add the onion to the butter at medium heat. Once mostly translucent, add the potatoes. Let the potatoes gain some color with minimal sticking to the bottom of the pan and without smashing them into mashed potatoes. Add more butter if necessary to accomplish this. Reduce to medium low heat once colored a bit, let cook mostly through. Add the leeks to the soup pan, and add half the milk or enough to cover the leeks & potatoes.

Bring to a simmer and let soften some more. Add most of the stock, reserving some in order to adjust the consistency. Add most of the rest of the milk, also reserving some. Check the salt & pepper, adjust and check and adjust consistency. Once ready, serve or turn off heat and reheat later–do not leave simmering or you’ll have mashed potatoes with leeks.

How-to Italian pasta Recipes

How To Make Fresh Italian Egg Pasta

December 3, 2006
Fettucini al'arribiata fresh recipe

Fettucini al'arribiata fresh recipe

How to make fresh pasta for two: start with 100 to 120 grams of semola flour (in the US, called Semolina–high protein, less gluten than all-purpose, totally different actually), one fresh egg, some fine salt, a fork, and a wooden board (ideally).

Ingredients for Egg Pasta mis en place

Pour your flour into a heap on the board, then plunge your fingers into the center and move in a circular motion to create a pastry “well.” If you don’t have a scale, you should have about this much flour for two people:

how much flour to make pasta for two

how much flour to make pasta for two making a well

Next, you should add salt–a heaping pinch–to the flour, just sprinkle it all on top of the flour. I forgot, so I added mine after the egg. Next, add the egg to the “well,” and whisk gently with a fork at first, until you become fortable, slowly incorporating the flour surrounding it. Be careful not to grab too much flour from any one place or your egg will run amuck! Wait til the egg part is thick enough to not go running away to be rough with the fork/flour situation.

making pasta by hand

Once the egg is pretty incorporated, start tossing flour over the wet parts and moving it with your hands, kneading in the rest of the flour (or as much as it will take until its no longer distractingly/annoyingly sticky). You’ll want to start doing that a little after the soupy consistency shown above–it should be getting crumbly almost.

making pasta by hand mixing dough

making pasta by hand kneading dough

Then continue to knead the dough until its got a nice texture and seems fully incorporated, not dry, but not able to easily sop up more flour. Then wrap it in plastic, and let it sit on the counter for at least half an hour. If you want to roll it out the next day or in the next few days, put it in the frige and take it out an hour before you want to roll it as cold dough is harder to make thin.

Flour a flat surface like a clean kitchen counter lightly with semolina or all-purpose flour. Pat your room temperature, rested egg dough with flour lightly, and shape it into a flat disk with your hands to get started. Take a rolling pin to it (or if you’re lazy and have one, use your pasta machine, but I disapprove of this in general). Get it fairly thin (look at finished noodle thickness) and even. Flour one side generously, and fold loosely (do not crease) to make a log of sorts. Take a knife and cut your noodles however thick you like them–you will need a very sharp knife or you will be miserable.

Fresh Fettucini Egg Pasta Homemade

Alternatively, you can cut your raviolis out and attach the two sides with a bit of water, being sure to push the air out from next to the filling before sealing (or they’ll be likely to burst).

Boil pleanty of water, salt it generously when it comes to a boil. Cook your pasta for two to five minutes depending how thick it is and how narrow your noodles are; for ravioli expect four to six minutes, depending on the filling and how thick the dough is

I coated mine in a roasted roma tomato, garlic, parsley, chili pepper “salsa” that I had made a day earlier for a roast beef dish, a sort of super-fresh arrabiata sauce, this time.