Sunday, April 19, 2015

Asparagus Season is the Reason

Is there any more representative image of Spring than a couple ladybugs making love on a spear of asparagus?

This great photo by Flickr user Benimoto inspired me to
post a few links to some previously published asparagus recipes.

One of my biggest vegetable pet-peeves is undercooked asparagus. Many cooks are so afraid to overcook it, they tend to not cook it long enoug
h, and this results in a still bitter stalk. There's a perfect degree of doneness where the spears are just tender, and the natural sweetness shines through. So, go buy a couple bunches of fresh asparagus, and give one of these recipes a try. Enjoy!

Asparagus and Chicken Noodle Casserole

Creamy Fresh Asparagus Pizza (note: uses old, original pizza dough recipe)

Pan-seared Spring Asparagus with Lemon, Balsamic and Parmesan

Pasta Primavera with Fresh Asparagus


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spring Pea Green Curry with Black Cod and Strawberry – Channeling My Inner Spa Chef

I’ve always loved green curries, but until a recent visit to Al’s Place, I’d never thought of using fresh, sweet peas as the base. It was amazing, and after only a few bites I knew I'd steal this idea and make it my own. Sorry, Al.

Their version featured pickled strawberries, but I decided to try a different approach, and used diced, fresh berries instead. I didn’t use any palm sugar or coconut milk, so the sweetness they provided paired perfectly with the brightly seasoned sauce.

As I mentioned in the video, I used a jarred curry paste, Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste, to be exact, and it works just fine. It contains green chili, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, salt, shallot, pepper, coriander, cumin, and kaffir lime, which is pretty much what you’d grind up to make a fresh green curry.

Next time I’ll make the paste from scratch just to see how much better it is, but I have to admit, the trade-off in time and effort is pretty attractive. Speaking of attractive, this lovely bowl of spring goodness sure would look good on your table, so I hope you give this spring pea green curry a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 appetizer-sized portions:
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons green curry paste, plus more to taste
2 cups chicken broth
1 pound trimmed sugar snap peas, snow peas, or English peas
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 pound boneless black cod (aka butterfish or sablefish), but into eight 2-oz pieces, skin scored 1/8th inch deep
4 tablespoons diced strawberry
2 teaspoons mint chiffonade

Monday, April 13, 2015

Tonnato Sauce – Not Just for Cold Veal Anymore

Some things sound really amazing the first time you hear about them, and other things, like this tonnato sauce, really don’t. I was probably in my early twenties when this first appeared on my culinary radar as, “vitello tonnato.” At the time, a plate of cold, thinly-sliced poached veal dressed with a chilled, runny tuna sauce didn’t make a lot of sense, but I tried it anyway, and have been a fan ever since.

I don’t often serve it with the traditional veal, as in never, but ironically that’s the only thing I don’t serve it with. It’s tremendous as a spread, and equally impressive as an all-purpose, all-world dip. You can also turn any basic potato salad into the stuff of legends...well, at least picnic legends.

I have to give credit where credit's due, and admit I stole the idea for my "tonnato tartare tartine" from one of my favorite San Francisco restaurants, Bar Tartine. They do it much better, but even my primitive version was incredible, so if you're into that kind of thing, I highly recommend it.

As I said in the clip, there are only a few ingredients, and they're all “to taste,” so you should expect to adjust. I like mine with lots of everything, plus some garlic and cayenne, but that’s just me. By the way, in keeping with the spirit of the original dish, if you do happen to have some cold, leftover roast chicken, turkey, or pork, slice it thin, and slather this stuff all over it, and enjoy one of the best cold plates ever. I really hope you give this tonnato sauce a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 2 cups tonnato sauce:
1 (7-ounce) jar olive oil-packed tuna, plus reserved olive oil
6 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons capers, drained
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 or 2 cloves minced garlic
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch of cayenne

For the spring vegetable topping:
equal parts shaved raw carrot and thinly sliced raw sugar snap peas or snow peas, tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Topped with arugula sprouts or thinly-sliced arugula leaves.

For the raw beef topping:
ice cold diced lean beef (I used eye of round), tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Topped with arugula sprouts or thinly-sliced arugula leaves.

Next Up: Tuna Smoothie