Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thanksgiving came and went and was made extra by my brother's smoked turkey. On the BBQ he cooked a nice 12 pounder and it looked beautiful..... He is the man for the Cue at the restaurant.

In the meantime we've just been background searching permits, leases, menu, names.... All the good stuff that will get more complicated as we get closer.

Plus his ribs weren't bad either as our tests to get the right rib recipe is underway. The baby backs are great and Frankie's BBQ sauce is deemed killler!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Restaurant

Big move this weekend to SF Bay Area.... A restaurant is in the conceptual stages. I hope to document its evolution on this blog from now on.... In the meantime recipes that are being tested for the restaurant and dishes that I have cooked and eaten will also be a part of this. And here we go!!!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strawberry Semifreddo

We didn't stop with the lamb. Seasonal and local strawberries were used to make an oustanding dessert. Strawberry semifreddo with almond crunch topping, strawberries (again) salsa and chocolate sauce. A semifreddo is a great way to make a sort of easy ice cream. We used a Swiss meringue instead of an Italian one. Which means you don't have to monitor the temperature of the sugar. Time consuming and messy.... We did make a custard with the yolks and stirred in the crushed strawberries to cool it off. The Swiss meringue was folded into the strawberries and then frozen. It took a poll to decide whether we'd put the almond crunch on top or below the semifreddo. But after freezing the semifreddo in a bottomless spring form pan we decided to put the crunch on top. I thought it would be more elegant and look less like a tart and make for a more unusual looking dessert. Chopping up more of those strawberries and tossing them with a chiffonade of mint and triple sec made for an excellent "salsa". The chocolate sauce was easy. Melt chopped chocolate, butter and corn syrup for a shiny chocolaty masterpiece.

Lamb for Spring

An excellent time was had by all. A Spring-themed cooking class with lamb artichokes and cauliflower. Our couple hadn't even eaten artichokes before (can you imagine what they were missing out on) much less prepare them. But that's what we did. A simple rack of lamb was enhanced by a garlic rub with Dijon mustard and fresh rosemary. Medium size artichokes were trimmed to within an inch of their lives. The only way the French will eat them. And then braised in olive oil, salt and pepper. My three favorite ingredients by the way. A strip of Meyer lemon was thrown in just because there are so many of them on the trees right now. A super savory side dish of Cauliflower Bread Pudding was added as a great lagniappe. Who could ask for anything more. The pan from the lamb was deglazed, of course, with white wine and a teaspoon of grainy mustard was added. Voila.... pan sauce! Another great French inspired meal you can make everyday or save for a special occasion and look fabulous.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

La Bourride

Submitting a recipe from an online inquiry for use in a magazine article/interview gave me the chance to recreate a dish from France that I learned about when I lived in the Langedoc-Roussillon region on the western Mediterranean. I decided on La Bourride... A little sister to Bouillabase... A simpler fish stew that just uses a single fish (usually monkfish). Cod, snapper and tilapia are easy substitutes. The fish is stewed in the soup during the final cooking stage so it needs to be a relatively firm, white-fleshed fish. It turned out great and I realized why I like this even more that bouillabase. I never fawned over fish stews that have too many different types of seafood, so this is the stew for me. A simple soup made with garlic, tomatoes, clam juice and saffron is stewed to release the flavors, the fish is then cooked in the soup until it flakes. Remove the fish whisk in an aioli and ladle the soup over the fish. Fantastic and rustic simplicity at its best. Reasons to love France all over again.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

duck duck duck

The duck cooking class workshop turned out really well. I'd had trouble trying to find a way to use a whole duck for the class. I knew what elements I wanted so it came to me to treat the dish as a kind of salad. And to contrast the sweet pear sauce with something bitter like the dandelion greens. The surprise is the rutabagas! When roasted they become super sweet and caramelized. We braised the duck legs in Moscato and pears, shredded them and tossed them with the roasted rutabagas and dandelion greens. Then reduced the sauce and blended it with the pears to thicken. The breasts were seared, crisping the skin and medium rare on the inside. Not everyone enjoyed the skin but it was prepared well for those that indulge.

The first course was a tart, in the loosest sense of the word. I thought about French tartines where they take toasted bread and pile up ingredients for a sort of open-faced sandwich. We made parmesan waffles, then a spread of reduced portobello mushrooms and topped that with roasted butternut squash. A little wilted escarole was served along side.