Browsing Category


dinner Fall main courses Recipes San Francisco sauces seafood soups special occasion vegetables & hot greens Winter

Birthday Dinner: Crab Bisque & Filet Mignon w/ Bernaise + Sweet Potato/Chard Gratin

December 13, 2010
home made filet mignon with bernaise sauce

home made filet mignon with bernaise sauce

Home made crab bisque with dungeness crab

I hosted 8 (including myself) for dinner on Friday to celebrate my gentleman’s birthday; it was lively all night, everybody got full and we washed about 25 wine glasses. We drank champagne, prosecco, sparkling wine from california; we drank mouvedre from Chateau Margene, cuvee from Beckmen, a roussane blend from Tablas Creek–we had delicious wine, and the food came out great.

Recipes to follow in the next day or two. I wish I’d taken a photo of the refuse after making the crab stock, it was a pretty mess in my backyard compost container.

appetizers condiments & pickles Fall fried lunch main courses Recipes salad dressings salads seafood

Salmon Cream Cheese Wontons & Spicy Persimmon Slaw

November 14, 2010
home made salmon cream cheese wontons

home made salmon cream cheese wontons

spicy persimmon cabbage salad

Inspired by Wild Ginger in Cambria, CA, these wontons are tasty, filling finger food; the slaw helps to cut the fat and is a nice fall accompaniment. They’re also a really convenient way to use up any leftover wonton skins and leftover salmon.

For 12-16 wontons

Square wonton skins
1/3 lb salmon, cooked (grilled, broiled, whatever)
1/4 C cream cheese (I prefer Gina Marie from Sierra Nevada Cheese Co)
1-2 tsp brown rice vinegar
1/8 tsp five spice powder
lots of safflower/sunflower/other high eat oil for frying

Shred the salmon and mix with room temperature cream cheese. Add rice vinegar, five spice powder, and a pinch of salt to taste. Set aside for up to 2 hours or refrigerate up to 2 days ahead. Use 1T per wonton wrapper and moisten wrapper with spray bottle. Fold diagonally and seal, then bring end points together and seal. Fry at medium high heat, testing a piece of wonton skin first, until evenly golden.

Spicy Persimmon Cabbage Slaw

1/2 head cabbage, chopped somewhat finely
1 persimmon, sliced thinly
2 tsp gochujang or other chili paste such as harissa
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp ground cumin

Whisk gochujang, lime juice, cumin and salt; toss cabbage and persimmon in mixture and let set 10 minutes before serving, or up to 1 hour.

dinner Fall lunch main courses pasta seafood

Matsutake Mushroom Gnocci with Watercress

October 31, 2010
matsutake gnocci with watercress

Preface: The only other context I’ve eaten matsutake is in dashi and in a quesadilla (a delicious quesadilla). I don’t think I would make this dish exactly the same next time; I think it would be better in more broth, without the creme fraiche, with egg noodles (Asian style). I used really good quality, fluffy, fresh gnocci for this dish and I think it was really competing with the matsutake, which is a shame because they should have been the feature of the dish.

matsutake gnocci with watercress

matsutake mushrooms cooking

Luckily, matsutakes had a bumper crop this year and they were only $20/lb. In SF, they can be found for $40 or more most years, so this was a really nice surprise last time I popped in at the Japanese market. Yesterday, I even saw them at Rainbow Foods!

I do think simmering the matsutakes in dashi (it was small amounts of mirin, soy sauce, sake, walnut oil and then a larger amount of straight up dashi–water infused with kombu and i-forget-the-name tuna flakes) worked well, I just would have made more of it next time and omitted the creme fraiche I added. The watercress also worked well. So go ahead and do that, and sub those gnocci for egg noodles and I’m pretty sure you’ll have a delicious meal.

Anyway, no recipe here since I won’t stand behind it, but thought you might learn from my experience.

appetizers breakfast & brunch main courses Recipes sauces seafood

Shrimp & Grits

October 30, 2010
home made gourmet shrimp and grits with chard
home made gourmet shrimp and grits with chard

A friend and I stopped by Farmer Brown for a late night meal after seeing a play about a week ago and we had some shrimp & grits. Created a little inspiration.

Had a little panic, though. I canned my own tomatoes this summer with just some fresh lemon juice; a coworker and I were talking about canning techniques and she mtnioned she would not can her own tomatoes especially without preserved lemon juice because of the variation in pH in fresh lemons, due to the botulism risk.. I felt like a bit of a dummy. I took chemistry, why’s my brain not thinkin?

At any rate, I ran out of tomatoes and really had to break open that jar and had myself all hyped up that we might start having lazy eyes and collapsing lungs within a day or two, but it’s been a few and we’re fine. I did throw the rest of the jar away, kinda regretting that now, and what we did eat would have been totally worth it because it was totally tasty.

Here’s my version.

Shrimp and Grits
For four

1 C polenta
1 C chopped tomatoes, strained tomatoes, or 2C fresh tomatoes chopped and seeded
1 tsp dry thyme or 1 T fresh thyme
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/4 C vegetable stock
16 18-20 count shrimp (prefer blue Mexican prawns), deveined and shell removed completely
2 C chopped fresh spinach

Cook the polenta using a 1-3 ratio with water or stock. Be sure to bring liquid to boil first, evenly cipher in the polenta and continue stirring on low heat for at least 5-6 minutes until creamy and thick.

In a sauce pan bring the tomatoes to a simmer and add the chili flakes, thyme, and veg stock. Reserve some veg stock in case you need to thin the sauce. Let it reduce to a tasty, rich flavor and add the shrimp to cook. Add the spinach, turning off the heat and throwing a lid on the pan for 30 seconds or so to wilt. Serve on top of the polenta in a bowl.

dinner Italian lunch main courses one-pan recipes pasta Recipes sauces seafood

Spaghetti & Shrimp in Spicy Chevre Sauce (Pasta with Goat Cheese Sauce)

October 18, 2010
bionaturae whole wheat spaghetti in goat cheese sauce with shrimp

bionaturae whole wheat spaghetti in goat cheese sauce with shrimp

I was reading the Times a couple of days ago and saw an article about whole wheat pasta and its merits. Yeah, it’s merits. I haven’t tried the stuff in years and 100% agreed with the starting sentiment of the article–it’s icky stuff, and I’m a pasta traditionalist, picky as hell about my Italian food in general.

But the author won my trust as I read and knowing I could get their “favorite” brand at my neighborhood grocer, I grabbed some when I was at the store later in the week and gave it a go. It’s really non offensive. It even has a nice texture. We’ll try rigatoni next time.

Also, I just returned from a fabulous trip to Mexico with my S.O., and am seriously craving some pasta! We ate pretty much meat, and a little bit of vegetables, and a lot of coconut milk and wine (oh come on, not together!).

Bionature whole wheat spaghetti with shrimp in goat cheese sauce

Pasta with Goat Cheese for two:

12 shrimp of your preference (blue Mexican gulf prawns for me, until they don’t have them next year..)
2 T butter
2 tsp olive oil
2 T goat cheese
3/4 C vegetable stock
1/4 C heavy cream
120 grams spaghetti (I used bionature whole wheat organic spaghetti)
1 tsp chili flakes
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp mixed Italian dry spices
salt & pepper

Start your water to boil and chop the garlic finely. When you add the pasta to the boiling water, warm a skillet to medium high heat and add the butter and oil.

When the oil and butter are hot, reduce to medium and add the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add the veg stock, cream, chili flakes and spices.

De-vein and peel your shrimp, patting dry and tossing with a little salt. When the sauce is bubbly and slightly reduced, add the goat cheese until incorporated, and then immediately the shrimp.

The pasta should be about done; drain and add it immediately to the sauce*. If you should need to wait for it to finish, DO NOT over cook the shrimp–take them out slightly underdone and set aside, re-adding them with the pasta. Simmer a bit as you see in the picture above and serve it up!

*You could also add some swiss chard, kale, or spinach to this dish at the end, throw a lid on it to wilt and serve.

*In my opinion, the trick to really good home pasta is to simmer the pasta a bit in the sauce, getting it really hot.

appetizers dinner lunch Recipes salad dressings salads seafood

5 spice salmon & asian mixed vegetable salad

September 1, 2010
five spice salmon

five spice salmon

asian salad with fennel and broccoli stems

Thanks to P for the inspiration.

This dish is extremely quick to prepare if you have the right equipment (a mandolin or julienne tool) and 100% doable on a weekday. Took me about 15 minutes, healthy, tasty, and very presentable.

For the Salmon

1/3 lb salmon per person, fillet, non farmed
5 spice powder
berbere spice mixture or a bit of cayenne

Salt the salmon, let sit for a couple of minutes. Dust the fleshiest side of the salmon in five spice powder and then top with 1/3 as much berbere or cayenne or other similar mixture.

For the Asian Mixed Vegetable Salad

2 broccoli stalks, trimmed and peeled w/ veg peeler
2 radishes, quartered and sliced thinly
1/4 bulb fennel, shaved on mandolin
1/2 cucumber, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
4 leaves butter lettuce, roughly ripped into 1-2 inch squares or so
1 pink pluot, in 1/2 inch cubes
1 dark plumb, in 1/2 inch cubes
2T seasoned rice vinegar
1T walnut oil or other fragrant nut oil
1T sesame seeds or gomashi
salt to taste

Julienne broccoli stems (hopefully you have a mandolin type contraption to do this) and mix all ingredients together!

appetizers desserts dinner Italian main courses Recipes San Francisco seafood special occasion

Bday Dinner: Prosciutto Pluot, Halibut on Truffled Corn, Apricot Ricotta Tart

July 9, 2010
prosciutto wrapped pluot with balsamico and burrata

prosciutto wrapped pluot with balsamico and burrata

halibut on truffled corn with microgreens and asparagus

Apricot Nut Ricotta Tart

Prosciutto wrapped Pluot

Simple–great fruit, slices of it, wrapped in very thin prosciutto, paired with a soft cheese like burrata in this case, or seasoned ricotta (season with olive oil or flavored olive oil, salt, pepper), drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar.

Halibut on Truffled Corn

I’ve made this as an appetizer as well, and substituted asparagus shavings steamed lightly for the asparagus itself, and served smaller pieces of fish.

For 4

1.3 lb halibut fillet, skinned
3-4 ears fresh corn
1 pack rainbow microgreens
12 asparagus spears (or 5 if you are shaving them)
fresh thyme
truffle oil
hazelnut or walnut oil; if unavailable substitute mild, high heat oil – a few T
toasted sesame oil – 1 tsp
gomashi – ground salt and toasted sesame seeds
salt & pepper

You’ll need two skillets.

Lightly peel the asparagus and place on parchment paper. Dress lightly with olive oil or flavored olive oil (lemon, clementine, etc; alternatively add lemon or other citrus zest). Wrap peeled asparagus in parchment paper to enclose, and place in oven at 350.

Heat 1-2 T nut oil and toasted sesame oil in nonstick skillet or skillet with good sides for flipping at medium high heat. When hot, add corn. When corn begins to color, reduce heat to medium and add thyme. Continue flipping or stirring every 30 seconds to 1 min.

Meanwhile, heat a few T of oil in a pan for the halibut at medium high/high heat. Use enough to easily coat the bottom of the pan. Dress halibut fillets in gomashi and a dash of fresh ground pepper. Top side down into the pan first when oil is hot. When 2/3rds cooked, flip.

When corn is finished cooking, turn off heat and add 1-2 tsp truffle oil, mix. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove asparagus from oven. Total cooking time for most asparagus will be about 15-20 minutes, but check it as ovens vary.

Assemble as pictured on top of the corn; corn, halibut, microgreens, asparagus.

Apricot Tart with Ricotta Marscapone Nut crust

Apricot Ricotta Tart

3-4 cups nuts of any combination or variety: blanched/blanched slivered almonds, raw cashews, macadamias
5 dried apricots
2 T melted butter
6 fresh apricots
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup mascarpone cheese
8 oz ricotta cheese (preferably sheep’s milk)
orange blossom water
benedictine or other brandy/liquor

For the Crust: Chop finely the dried apricots. In a food processor, blend nuts and dried apricots until fine meal is formed. Add 2 T honey, 2 T melted butter and blend until sticky ball is formed. If too sticky, add more nuts. Should be able to hold together.

In a 9 1/2 inch tart pan, press out the crust evenly and then place in freezer or refrigerator to set for at least 30 minutes.

For the Filling: Mix the ricotta, marscapone, 1-2 tsp orange blossom water, 2T honey and 2-3T benedictine/brandy for the filling. Chill.

For the Topping: Wash and quarter the apricots. Start a simple syrup of 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C water in a large sautee pan. When made, add the apricot quarters and reduce heat to simmer, turning occasionally until fruit plumps but does not fall apart. Remove pieces onto a cool platter as they finish cooking. After fruit is removed, gently raise heat to create apricot caramel.

Bake the tart crust at 350 for 15 minutes until coloring golden. Remove and let cool thoroughly or pop into freezer/oven to bring it down.

Fill with ricotta mixture, top decoratively with apricot slices. If you want the topping to be glossy, melt some red currant jelly in a pan and brush on top. It will dry clear as pastries from a bakery.

appetizers dinner Japanese main courses Recipes San Francisco sauces seafood vegetarian

Going Japanese: Miso Marinated Black Cod, Carrots & Konnyaku in Tofu Sauce

February 1, 2010
Miso Marinated Broiled Black Cod

Saikyo Yaki & Konnyaku to Ninjin no Shira ae

Miso Marinated Broiled Black Cod

Carrots & Konnyakku in Creamy Tofu Sauce

I’ve had a fabulous traditional Japanese cookbook for some years now, never really venturing into it. I was interested in it because an old friend used to cook, by nature, a lot of fusion food, and I loved the yuzu citrus so much that I”d go to the Japanese market in Berkeley with some regularity. Now that I live in SF, I have all the expanse of the Nijiya supermarket in Japantown, among other resources.

I’m not inclined to post a lot of the recipes, because they’re complicated, and require making sauces and broths and other things before cooking your actual item, but also because for most people, it will be difficult to find the ingredients.

That said, Japanese food photographs beautifully, and I hope to integrate some of the techniques and ingredients I am learning about into my more improvisational cooking in the near future.

Julienned Carrots

Marinating Yuzu Miso Fish

Miso Fish

– Best to use Salmon or Black Cod/other oily fish

– Marinate for 1.5 lbs of fish; I like to do this on Saturdays or Sundays and use it throughout the week; later in the week the flavors are stronger so it’s best to use the cod last as the marinade will remove some of the oily, fishy flavors.

-Marinade must be applied for at least 1 day in fridge or up to 5

Cheesecloth or Japanese cooking cloth
3/4 cup light colored, sweet miso
1-2 T mirin
1 T freeze dried Yuzu peel, zest of 1 fresh yuzu, or zest of 1-2 fresh lemons or limes

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Wrap each piece of fish in 1-2 layers of cheesecloth or 1 layer of Saryachi cloth. Paint the marinade on TOP of the cloth, not touching the fish directly. Layer neatly and reasonably tightly (without aggrevating the fish flesh) into a glass, ceramic or plastic container with a lid. Coat each side of the fish and continue layering. It is OK to mix fish types in the same container.

To cook, after marinated at least 1 day in refrigerator, remove cheesecloth and scrape any clumps of marinade off the fish. Put into small foil pan or other pan that is broiler safe with skin side up. Broil for 2-4 minutes, until skin is crisped and blackened. Flip, and cook until colored and cooked through under broiler.

I like to serve this with something acidic, like a simple salad or impatient pickles, and sometimes some miso soup as well.

dinner Italian main courses pasta Recipes seafood special occasion Wine pairings

Tutto Mare – mixed seafood pasta

January 2, 2010
Tutto Mare - Mixed Seafood Pasta with shrimp, clams, scallops & crab

Tutto Mare - Mixed Seafood Pasta with shrimp, clams, scallops & crab

A New Year’s Day dinner recipe while we hosted Y’s brother & wife from HKG.

Pasta ingredients
semolina flour, ground finely (0 or 00 size)
wheat flour, ground finely (0 or 00 size)
2 eggs

Make pasta for four – recipe (double it), cut the noodles 1/3 inch wide, lay flat to wait to be cooked at end.

Sauce ingredients
1/3 yellow onion, diced finely
1-2 T fresh thyme or lemon-thyme
Parsley, washed & chopped fine
1 package ground saffron, or pinch infused into warm clam juice or fish stock
1/2 bottle clam juice or clam bouillion
8-10oz fish stock (can buy frozen in stores)
1/2 lb shrimp
1/2 lb bay diver scallops
1/3 lb fresh crab meat
10-12 small clams (smaller = more tender)
1/2 stick butter
champagne or dry white wine, 1 cup
olive oil
salt & pepper
vanilla salt (infuse salt with vanilla pod that has been cut/used and shake, reserve for future use)

Set water to heat on high in a very large pot while you heat a large skillet with high sides & with a fitting lid to medium heat.

Add half of the butter to the skillet and let melt, allowing water to sizzle off. Add the onion, and let cook until soft, but not colored. Add the thyme, and cook for 1 minute.

Meanwhile, heat to high a non-stick skillet and add the remaining butter. Once hot, add the scallops and some vanilla salt. Cook 1-2 minutes and add shrimp. When nearly done cooking, add 1/2 to 1 cup champagne or dry white wine, reduce until shrimps are cooked, remove shrimps & scallops and reserve, while continuing to reduce fluid.

To the high-sided skillet, once thyme is cooked 1 minute, add fish stock, clam juice, vanilla salt (use reason) & saffron, reducing by 1/4 to 1/2, and add clams to cook & cover it until they open. Once opened, add the liquid from the nonstick skillet and allow all to reduce.

Your water should be boiling now. Add a heaping table spoon of salt, and add the noodles to cook for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, add crab meat to saffron-clam mixture, to warm. When cooked, strain noodles and add to broth mixture, coating. Add the shrimp & scallops and cook 1 min on high heat. Adjust seasoning. Distribute into heated bowls and top with parsley.

Wine: we just ate it with leftover new years eve champagne.