Saturday, December 31, 2011

Great Mushroom Pasta....

This pasta is the best!  It don't get any better than this. . .

Recipe for four:
1 packet good quality dried pasta
3 slices of pancetta, chopped up
1 c onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1 big handful of baby spinach
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 package fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 package shitaki mushrooms, sliced
2 three finger pinches salt and pepper
1 pinch chili flakes
1 pinch cayenne
1/2 c Stilton cheese, crumbled
1/2 c cream
3 T butter
3 T olive oil

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil.  Cook your pasta.  While that's happening, heat up a large skillet over medium high heat, add the butter and oil, when the pan's hot add the pancetta and cook until crispy.  When done, remove the pancetta and set aside, now do the same with the mushrooms and set aside.  Using the same oil add the shallots, garlic and onions and caramelize.  At this time, season with salt and pepper and add cayenne and chili flakes.  Just before serving add the spinach and melt.

When finished put the heat on low, and add the cheese, cream, pancetta and mushrooms to the onions and stir.

Drain the pasta, and drizzle with olive oil, stirring with tongs as you do.  Plate the pasta onto warm plates, then add the mushroom mixture on top.    Grate a little parmesan cheese on top...

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hobbes' Best Thin Crust Pizza - Quatro Formaggio with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

This is a KILLER, KILLER thin crust pizza recipe!

I made a lot of dough and portioned it into 2 oz pieces and put them in the freezer for a rainy day.  So you can cut the recipe in half if you want.  I ended up with about 20 pizza portions in the freezer.

Recipe for the dough:
2 c King Arthur flour
4 c semolina
31/2 c slightly warm water
2 t honey
1 t sea salt
1 packet yeast

2 tomatoes
Sharp Cheddar
2 slices, pancetta

First thing to do is set your oven to 300* and place a pizza stone on the center rack.  Slice the tomatoes into thick slices and place them in an oven dish, season with salt and pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil.  Cook for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  When finished, remove from the oven and set aside, now turn the oven up to it's highest setting, ours was at 500*

In a jug, add the water, honey, yeast and stir until honey has dissolved, set aside.  In a large bowl, mix the flours together with the salt.  When mixed, pour flour out onto a clean surface and form into a circle.  Pour the water into the circle and slowly incorporate the flour, drawing more flour into the center.  It will start to look like porridge.  I use my fingers but you can use a fork or spatula.  Soon you will have a big sticky lump of dough.  If it's too dry add a little more water, if it's too wet add a little flour.

Add some more flour to your working area and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, stretching and turning the dough as you go!  When it's done, flour the dough and place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  I put parchment paper on the dough first and then the plastic, to avoid toxins from the plastic going into my food...  Let it rest for about a half an hour at room temperature.

When the dough is ready, clean up your work area and re-flour, now shape the dough into a log, and roll out until you have a long log about 3" thick.  If it gets too long cut it in half and work with two pieces.  Now with pastry knife or scraper cut the dough into 2 oz bits, about 2"-3" pieces.  At this stage you can wrap what you don't need and pop them in the freezer.

Now let's make the best pizza!  Take a chunk of the dough and with your hands press it down and flatten it a bit.  Now you can use a roller to form a really thin crust, making sure to flour the dough as you go.
Take the pizza stone out of the oven and place the crust on it, now drizzle some olive oil on and smear it around with you hand or a spatula.  Then add the pancetta and cheeses that have been cut or crumbled up.  Don't add too much cheese because it will melt and run all over the place!  Finely grate some parmesan around the edges of the crust using a micro plane if you have one, this is the secret to a good crust.  Now place the tomatoes on top, and place the stone and pizza back into the hot oven.  It will cook quickly, like 5 minutes, so keep your eye on it.

I suggest having a nice pint of IPA with this!

Bon Appetit!   Chef Hobbes

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Grilled Steelhead on a Bed of Chard and a Parsnip Puree...

Killer little dish, that's quick to get on the table!

Recipe for four:
1 and 1/2 pounds of steelhead fillets, skin on
1 parsnip rough chopped
1 red onion rough chopped
2 stalks celery rough chopped
2 carrots rough chopped
1 t garlic finely chopped
1 big double hand full of chard chopped
1 c heavy cream
2 T butter
2 T olive oil

First, cut your steelhead into four pieces, rub with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Now start your grill and get it nice and hot.  While that's happening, get a medium sized saucepan and over medium high heat add 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil.  When the butter has melted and is foaming add  all the vegetables, shaking the pan a bit.  Lower the heat to low and cover with a lid, cook until soft, then add the cream.

Start cooking the steelhead, presentation side down, or skin side up, turn when some nice color has been achieved, then finish in the oven if necessary.

In a separate pan, add the remaining butter and oil, and melt the chard.  While that's happening, puree the vegetable mixture and return it to the pan to keep warm!

On warm plates, add a ladle of the puree, then a scoop of chard, and then put the steelhead on top!

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Saffron Pasta With a Beef Sauce

Now this is a good dish to use up that leftover Christmas roast beef!

Recipe for four:
2 c leftover cooked beef, cubed or ground
1 c carrots chopped
1 c celery chopped
2 c onion chopped
2 t garlic finely chopped
1 c red wine
3 c beef stock
1 t fresh rosemary finely chopped
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 T tomato paste
1 three finger pinch both salt and pepper
1 packet dried saffron fettuccine by Rustichella d' Abruzzo available at Gourmet Galley

In a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the oil and butter.  When the butter has melted and is hot, add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook until soft.  Then add the wine and reduce by half, then add the beef, rosemary, salt, pepper and stock, then bring it up to a boil.  Then lower the heat to low and put a lid on the pan and allow to cook for about an hour, adding more stock if necessary.

About 15 minutes before it's done start heating the pasta water.  Remember, pasta needs lots of water and lots of room, so use a big pot, and remember to salt the water.

Serve on warm plates.

Bon Appetit!   Chef Hobbes

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bullistic Dungeness Crab Salad With a Blood Orange Vinaigrette

I used live dungeness crab, which I cooked for this dish, and it turned out absolutely fantastic!

Please note:  If you live in Friday Harbor, the fish barge -- Friday Harbor Seafood Company -- down on the main dock is open until the end of this month, then they close for the winter.  This is the only place you can get live or fresh crab...

Recipe for two:
2 small live dungeness crabs or one pound of crab meat
2 big handfuls of baby spinach
1 big handful of arugula
Juice of one blood orange
2 blood oranges peeled and segmented
1 pinch both salt and pepper
3 T olive oil (extra virgin)
1/4 c finely sliced red onion
A splash of red wine vinegar

Fill a large pot with salted water, and bring to a boil.  When the water is really boiling hard, add the crab upside down (poor little buggers).  When the water starts to boil again, set the timer for 20 minutes.  Fill a sink or bucket with iced water and add the crab when they're done, and allow to cool.  This process will help release the meat from the shell.  When cool enough, clean the crab under running water, then crack and pick out the meat, and place in the refrigerator to cool.

In a large stainless steel bowl add all the ingredients except the greens, crab and the orange segments, and mix.  Now add the crab, greens and orange, and gently toss with your HANDS!  Don't use tongs or spoons, they just bruise the salad greens.  Plate onto chilled plates...

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Bay Cafe on Lopez...

Deborah went over to the Bay Cafe on Lopez with some friends the other night, to enjoy one of owner/Chef Daren's last meals!   Daren is moving to Arizona in January, after 16 years in business.

The new owners will be re-opening the restaurant  in February.  So get over there and enjoy some of Daren's wonderful cuisine before the end of the month...

Shown here is the Seafood Tapas Plate: Dungeness and shrimp cake, grilled prawns and sea scallops.  More YUM!!

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Awesome Rose's Bakery and Cafe On Orcas Island. . .

Alright then!  I lived in California for some 20 years, and loved every minute of the food scene.  Since I moved to the Islands 11 years ago, I've been pining for good food.  Like white Spanish anchovies and home-made pate, and Stilton, the king of cheeses, and olives by the bucket load!

Well my friends, if you've been missing great food, and great ambiance with a French and Italian flair,  then this is your place!  It's not only a restaurant, but also a bakery, deli and they have a fantastic selection of fine wines and cooking accessories and so on!   I can't begin to tell you what a great experience you will have.  The picture to the right is of a wonderful beet salad with wild greens and chevre goat cheese, and a wild chantrelle thin crust pizza, served with a French white wine.  Total YUM!!!   Note:  Rose's is closed every January for the whole month!  So get over there next week...

Thanks John and Johnny for being in our lives...

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Friday, December 23, 2011

African Sweet Potato Peanut Soup, With Red Beans!

OK!  I've got a winner!!

Try this baby out.  This is a really wonderful dish, passed on to me by Chef JJ in California...

Recipe for this bad boy, for four:
1 & 1/2 c red onion chopped
4 c sweet potato (yam) cubed into 1/2" cubes
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 & 1/2 t ginger finely chopped
1 c red bell pepper chopped
1 14 oz can Eden diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can Eden aduki or pinto beans
1 4 oz can green chilies chopped
2 c vegetable stock
3 T peanut butter
1 T almond butter
1/4 t black pepper
3 three finger pinches salt
1 pinch chili flakes
1 T soy sauce
2 T butter
2 T coconut oil

I promote Eden products for two reasons:  The can liner does not break down and release toxins into the food, and they don't add sugar!!!   Muir Glenn does!  Or did!  :-0)

In a large saucepan, add the butter, coconut oil and heat over medium high heat.  When it's hot add the onion and sweet potato, and cook until they're just starting to get soft, then add the garlic and ginger and stir.  After about 30 seconds add everything else, except the soy sauce.  Bring up to a light boil and lower the heat.  Let this cook for a little bit, a few minutes, taste test the sweet potato for done-ness and salt!  If it needs more salt and it will, then add the soy sauce.  This will also give the soup some depth of flavor, without making it taste Asian!


Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sticker Shock!

Ever wonder what those numbers mean on the little stickers that you find on fruit and vegetables?

Well, if it starts with a 9 that means it's been grown organically!  If it starts with a 4 or 5 it's been grown conventionally, meaning it's been exposed to chemical pesticides and fertilizers!!  If the numbers start with 8 that means it's been grown using GMO seed, but we will never see those, because they are not required to tell the consumer!   Right Wankers!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quick Creamy Chicken Curry

Here's a recipe for using that leftover chicken from Sunday's roast...  It's quick and cheap, and kid friendly.

Recipe for four:
1 small sweet potato cubed
1 yellow onion chopped
4 celery stalks chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 c cooked chicken
2 T mild curry powder
1 pint heavy cream
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 c jasmine rice

First get your rice going, always cook your rice with homemade stock instead of water, if you have it!

In a large saute pan, add the butter, oil and heat over medium high heat.  When it's hot add all the vegetables and cook until soft but don't brown.  When it's cooked add the curry powder and stir well.  Then add the chicken and the cream.  Now lower heat to low, and warm the chicken through.

How easy and quick was that!

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lemon Pasta To Die For!

OK, this pasta has anchovies in it!  You won't taste them, honest!  Anchovies are a Chef's ace in the hole.  They use them in stews,  pot roasts and then some, to build flavors, and you don't even know it!  So don't not put the anchovies in. . .  Deb's kids love this dish, and now they know what's in it!

Recipe for four:
1 - 16 oz packet of good quality organic pasta
1/2 yellow onion finely chopped
2 t garlic finely chopped
2 egg yolks
1 - 2 oz can of anchovy fillets, finely chopped and smeared*
1 c parsley chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 big pinch of chili flakes
1 t paprika
Salt and pepper
3 T olive oil

I'm not going to assume that you know how to cook the best pasta, so here's how!  Pasta needs lots of room to cook and release it's starch, so use the biggest pot you have and completely fill it with water and a few three-finger pinches of sea salt.  Bring the water to a solid rolling boil.  Then add the pasta, and stir it for a bit with some steel tongs.

While the pasta is cooking, place a large saute pan on the stove over high heat and add the oil.  When the oil is hot add the onions, anchovy and garlic, shaking the pan, and cook until soft but don't brown it.  When they're done add the chili flakes, lemon juice and a little pepper and the paprika, and stir.  Cook for only about a minute.  Just before the pasta is done, take a ladle of the hot water and add it to the two egg yolks in a seperate bowl and whisk.  Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot it was cooked in, and then add the egg and the other mixture and stir...

*Tip: once the anchovies are chopped finely, place in a bowl and with the back of a spoon smear them into a paste!

Serve on warm plates with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sweet Potato Cake With A Christmas Saute

Made this for breakfast a while back, using leftover mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Recipe for two:
1 c leftover mash formed into two cakes
1 small red onion chopped or sliced
1/2 c sweet potato diced into small cubes
1 c cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 T coconut oil
1 c spinach chopped
1 c chard chopped
1 three finger pinch sea salt and pepper
1 t paprika
1 t fresh rosemary finely chopped
2 t butter

In a pan melt the butter with heat on low-medium.  When the butter has melted add the cakes.  You want to cook these slowly so they heat though but not get too much color.  When you're sure the first side is done, flip the cakes using a steel spatula.

In saute pan over medium-high heat, add the coconut oil.  When the oil is good and hot add the onion and sweet potato, and cook until soft.  When done, season with salt, pepper, rosemary, paprika and stir.  Now lower the heat and add tomatoes and greens.  Just warm the tomatoes though and melt the greens, if you cook this too much the tomatoes turn to mush...

Serve on warmed plates with the cake on top.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Orange, Soy, Ginger-Glazed Pork Ribs

This is a wonderful recipe!  I can call this one my own, because I changed more than three things -- a little unwritten culinary law.  But I do want to give credit to Bon Appetit magazine and Cindy Pawlcyn, author of Big Small Plates.  I adapted and joined both of these recipes....

The ribs should be cut into separate ribs and marinaded for 24 hours, but I only marinaded them for 6 hours and they tasted great.

Recipe for two:
8 country pork ribs, cut into individual ribs
1 small can of Eden garbanzo beans drained
1 T tomato paste
1 c vegetable stock
2 c greens of your choice, we used broccoli rabe

For the Marinade:
1 c soy sauce such as Shoya
1 t whole cane sugar unrefined
2 T honey
1 t chili flakes
2 t sherry vinegar
1 t rice wine vinegar
1 t hot sauce
1 t sesame oil
1/4 t freshly ground white pepper
juice of an orange
2" piece of ginger grated
2 t garlic finely chopped

1/2 c finely sliced scallions
zest of one orange

Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together and whisk.  Pour it over the ribs and refrigerate for 6-24 hours, turning once.

When you're ready to cook, set your oven to 450*  When the oven is hot, place the ribs in an uncovered roasting or sheet pan, and place on a center shelf.  Even though these take an hour to cook, the meal itself is quite easy and quick to do.  Check the ribs after a half hour, if they are caramelizing too much add a little water.

While the ribs are cooking, drain the beans and add the stock and the tomato paste, and stir.  Add a three finger pinch of sea salt and cover with the heat on low.  Tip: you can substitute rice for the beans!   Now saute in a tablespoon of olive oil, and 1/2 an onion chopped finely.  When the ribs are done and the beans are hot, add the greens and cook just to melt.

Serve on warm plates, and garnish with scallions and orange zest.  For best results, use a macro plane for the zest.

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Word On Bread...

We all love a nice, fresh, crusty loaf or baguette, but be aware who you're buying it from, and what's in it!

Most commercial breads, hotdog and hamburger buns, doughnuts and pastries contain a conditioning agent called bromine, yep, the same stuff that's in hot tubs and swimming pools, basically it's non-chlorine bleach.  Large scale bakers use it so they get the perfect product every time.  Be careful, it's a killer!

You have to remember, bread is made from flour, water, yeast, salt and sometimes sugar or honey.  If you look at what's in a loaf of packaged bread or a hamburger bun, you'll see a list of about 30-50 ingredients, some of which is not food!

Also, because of our advanced technology, we're now able to grind our flour super fine.  The problem with this is, the pancreas turns it into sugar, not good!

A while ago I went to talk with Mark Shepard at Bakery San Juan and he showed me some of his bags of flour, which are bromine free.  He also told me that he proofs his dough anywhere from 8-16 hours.  That means that the bread is in a fermented state, which the body can digest easier...

Sprouted grain bread is not bad for you at all, because the grains have been sprouted and were in a fermented state!

Beware, bread, flour, sugar and bad fats are primary causes of cancer, diabetes and heart disease!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wow! Watch This Amazing Video To Learn How To Reverse Diabetes in 30 Days!

The body will heal itself if you give it the right groceries... You are what you eat!

Proper Avocado Crostini, With Cayenne And Lemon

Now this is Proper!  Blimey, my mouth is watering while writing this!

Shown here to the right is one with a balsamic drizzle.  And the one below has just lemon juice, which is the one I prefer...

Just brush a couple of slices of sourdough bread with a little olive oil, and pop them in the oven set at 325* turning once, about 20 minutes or until crunchy.

Now slice up some avocado and lay it on the bread, sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little cayenne and a squeeze of lemon juice!

Absolutely Proper!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ridiculously Good Mac And Cheese With Shrimp

It doesn't cost anymore to make this wonderful dish, this is pure comfort food!

Recipe for four:
1 16 oz bag penne pasta
1 pint heavy cream
1 pound wild shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 large red onion finely chopped
2 shallots finely chopped
1 leek finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 c parmesan cheese grated finely
1 c sharp cheddar cheese grated finely
1 T butter
1 T olive oil

Get your pasta water going by filling a large pot with salted water, over high heat, bring it to a rolling boil.  Then add the pasta and stir.

In a heavy saute pan, add the oil and butter, and heat over high heat.  When the butter foams add the onions, shallot, leek and garlic, and cook until soft, then turn down the heat and caramelize.  When it's done, turn the heat up to high and add the shrimp, shaking back and fourth.  Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of chili flakes.

When the shrimp are almost done, add the cream and reduce a little, then turn off the heat.  Drain the pasta and add it to the shrimp if there's room, otherwise return the pasta back to the pot it was cooked in, then add the cheese and shrimp and stir.  At this point you can serve it onto warm plates like we did, or you can place it in an oven-proof dish and sprinkle a little more cheese on top, and place it under the broiler for a bit, to add some color.

Bon Appetit!  Chef Hobbes

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Christmas Chocolate Martini...

The perfect glass of cheer!

Before you start making this, make sure your martini glasses have been in the freezer for a few hours!  Take a really cold martini glass and turn it on it's side.  Now drizzle some chocolate syrup around the inside of the glass and return to the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Recipe for one:
2 parts gin
1 part Kahlua
2 parts Bailey's
1/4 part Frangelico
1 teaspoon chocolate ice cream

Fill a shaker full of ice, add all the booze and shake the dickens out of it!  Pour into your frozen martini glass and then add the ice cream.  If you use two teaspoons, you can shape the ice cream into a ball, it looks better that way!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dover Sole With Shredded Buttered Cabbage And Roasted Potatoes

A nice little seasonal fish dish, with a white wine, lemon, butter, caper sauce.

Recipe for two:
4 small dover sole fillets
2 shallots finely chopped
2 cups cabbage finely shredded
4 small potatoes peeled
4 T duck or goose fat
1 T capers
2 T butter
3 T olive oil
1 cup white wine
Juice of one lemon
Flour for fish

First thing to do here is to get your oven nice and hot, set at 350*  Peel the potatoes and cut in half, now boil them in salted water until they start to get soft in the middle when a knife is inserted.  Then drain and place them in a roasting pan with the duck or goose fat, and place in the oven.

Now get a saute pan nice and hot over medium heat with the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  When the butter has melted add shallots and shake the pan to coat the shallots.  When they start to change color and get soft, lower the heat to low and add the cabbage and stir or mix with the shallots, season with salt and pepper.

In another pan place the rest of the olive oil and heat the pan over medium high heat.  While the oil is getting hot, season the fish with salt and pepper and dust with flour.  Making sure the oil is really hot, add the fish while moving the pan back and fourth to avoid the fish from sticking.  When the fillets are brown, turn and cook a little more, then finish in the oven.

Now make the sauce.  Using the same pan you cooked the fish in, scrape out any bits and wipe out any oil.  Over high heat, add the wine and lemon juice, and reduce the volume of liquid until you have about 2 tablespoons.  Then add the capers and turn off the heat, now add the butter and shake the pan back and fourth until you have a nice shine on the sauce.

Using warm plates plate your potatoes on the side, and the cabbage in the middle, then place the fillets on top of the cabbage and then add the sauce.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Dipping Sauce...

This is a fun little dipping sauce, and it's quick and easy to make.

You can make as much or as little as you like, and you can adjust the heat for your taste.

Basic recipe:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce
1 whole head of garlic finely chopped
2 t chili flakes
1/3 cup Italian parsley chopped
1 pinch salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, using a whisk.  Now it's ready to serve with nice, fresh, crusty bread from the bakery!

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Awesome Warm Spinach Salad, with Bacon, Egg and Roasted Red Peppers

Quick, cheap and easy to prepare salad that will satisfy the taste buds...

Recipe for two:
5 slices of uncured bacon cut into 2" pieces
1 shallot thinly sliced
1 tub organic baby spinach
1 roasted red pepper cut into strips
4 eggs (see my egg recipe in an older post for the perfect egg)
1 three finger pinch of red chili flakes
1 three finger pinch of both salt and pepper
2 T sherry vinegar
2 T olive oil
1/4 cup dried cranberries
balsamic drizzle

You will need a large stainless steel bowl for this recipe.

First cook and peel the eggs, and cut in half and set aside.  See my egg recipe in an older post for the most perfect egg.  Now fry the bacon, when done remove bacon from the pan and keep warm in the oven.  In the same pan cook the shallots with the bacon fat.

Place a stainless steel bowl on a burner over low-medium heat.  Add the shallots to the bowl with the fat, add the bacon, chili flakes, salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, cranberries and toss and mix together.  When the vinegar and oil starts to sizzle add the spinach.  Now toss all the ingredients together, melting the spinach just a little, but don't over-do this step, you just want to warm and slightly melt the spinach.

Transfer to warm plates and garnish with eggs, red peppers and a balsamic drizzle.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Oven Toasts with Salmon Gravlax, Creme Fraiche, Capers and Red Onion

This is a Bristol little treat for the holidays, when you're having guests over for a glass of cheer!

Oven toasted slices of a rye baguette, if you can get it, otherwise use sourdough or farm house white, at 325* for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes.  Be sure to brush with a good amount of olive oil.
When they're ready, apply a little creme fraiche and capers.  Then lay some thinly sliced gravlax on, and garnish with thinly sliced red onion.  Now drizzle a little hot sweet mustard all over, and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Yum!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Killer Holiday Season Gravlax

This recipe for gravlax comes from an old friend from Napa, California, Cindy Pawlcyn.  Cindy learned this recipe from the New French Cafe...  It's the best gravlax you will ever eat, and you probably won't eat smoked salmon again!

Gravlax is cured, not smoked.  You can use any fish, but salmon and halibut are preferred because of the fat content.  The end result is a sweet, tender and tasty gravlax that melts in your mouth!

Let's make gravlax using king salmon.  First you need fresh fish for this, so trusting your fish monger is important.  I buy my fish here in Friday Harbor from Eric and Brenda at Friday Harbor Seafood, down on the fish barge located on the main dock.  These guys use to fish, so they know the business.

1 pound of king salmon, pin-boned and skin on
1/8 cup good quality sea salt, like Eden or Maldon
1/4 cup organic whole cane sugar from Rapunzel
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 bunch fresh dill, stems removed

First a word about sugar.  I don't use sugar because it's the root of most of our health problems.  But in some recipes we need it.  I found one that is pure and minimally processed, it's organic whole cane sugar, that's unrefined and unbleached, made by Rapunzel and is available at Gourmet Galley.

Watch the video on how to make this fantastic cured salmon.

Bon Appett!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Don't Forget To Protect Your Garlic Before The Ground Freezes!

This spring, I will be adding another element to my blog.  I will be showing you how to grow a garden.  I have over 35 raised beds on our half-acre lot, that feeds us all year long.

I will also be teaching you how to prune fruit trees and vines.  Also how to raise healthy, grass-fed chickens.

Typically, you plant garlic in October.  It gets really cold here in the Pacific Northwest, especially when you're growing in raised beds.  So make sure the beds are covered with a good amount of straw, then cover with a frost fabric.  This will help stop the soil from freezing, and also keep the straw from blowing off!

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


On Sunday we had roast chicken for dinner, and on Monday I made risotto with the leftover chicken.  This is a great way to stretch your money.  Here's how.

Recipe for six:
2 cups arborio rice
2 pints chicken stock (hot)
1 cup leeks or onion finely chopped
1/2 cup carrot finely chopped
1 cup celery finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 cups dry vermouth or white wine
1/2 stick of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cooked chicken

First thing to do, after you've prepped your veggies, is to get the stock hot.  Don't boil it, just get it hot and keep it hot.

Add the olive oil and two tablespoons butter, to a saute pan, and heat over medium high heat.  When the butter starts to foam add the Mirepoix (leek or onion, garlic, carrot and celery), and saute until soft, but don't brown.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Now add the rice, and fry it, stirring often, you don't want it to burn, but you do want to cook it for a minute until it starts to turn translucent.  Now add the vermouth or wine and stir.

Once the liquid has reduced a little, now add your first ladle of stock and a good pinch of salt, and turn the heat down to a simmer, while stirring.  Once the stock has started to disappear, add another ladle and keep stirring and massaging the rich creamy starch out of the rice.  Keep doing this, it takes about 15 minutes. If you run out of stock before rice is cooked, add some boiling water.  Remember, you're cooking rice, test the rice for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary.  When last ladle of stock or water goes in, then add the chicken, and stir.

When you're happy that the rice is done, now add the butter and cheese and stir.  Now turn off the heat and place a lid on the pan, and let it sit for a couple of minutes.  This is the most important part of making risotto.

Plate onto warm plates and add more cheese and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Well Done, Medium Well, Medium, or Rare....

If you have a hard time knowing when your meat is done to your liking, try this little trick!

Thanks to JB, for reminding me about this...

With your hand laid out flat, and the thumb brought in to the side of your hand, try feeling these spots that I've marked on my hand.

Well done will be hard or tight.
Medium well will have a little more give in it.
Medium will be way more squishy.
Rare will be really soft and squishy.

Before you start cooking any meat or fish, it's important to bring it to room temperature for about an hour.  Otherwise you will end up with cooked meat that's still really cold in the middle.  Not ideal!

Remember that when you've finished cooking meat and chicken, it needs to rest.  By doing this, the meat will release it's juices and then soak them back up again.  This way you won't end up with a plate full of blood, or dried out meat!  Bon Appetit!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Seasonal Pomegranate Sauce...

Don't let this scare you, the sauce is simple to make, and once again it's easy!  Even me mate JB could do it! :-0)"

I served this dish with seasonal greens and roasted potatoes...

You decide on what you're going to serve with this.  I'm just going to tell you how to cook the fish and make the sauce.

Sauce for two:
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup fish or vegetable stock
Juice of one ripe pomegranate
1 tablespoon butter

Get sauce ingredients ready now!

If you're going to grill or BBQ the salmon, you can leave the skin on, otherwise take it off.  Cut salmon into portion size pieces and as usual season well with sea salt and black pepper.

Get your grill or saute pan hot, add oil if using a pan.  Now the trick here is to only turn the fish once, and to cook the presentation side first, and the skin side second!  Oil your grill and place the fish on hottest part of the grill, or place your fish in a hot pan with oil.  The only difference in cooking fish on a grill vs. a saute pan is you want to keep the fish moving a little bit, by shaking the pan once in a while.  Once you're comfortable that the first side is done and has some color, turn it and cook for about a minute or two, then finish in oven set at 325*.  This will give you time to make the sauce, but act quickly.

In a hot saute pan over high heat, add the wine and reduce by 2/3rds its volume, then add the stock and do the same.  Now add the juice and reduce until you have about four tablespoons of sauce.  Now turn off the heat and add the butter, and shake the pan in a back and forth motion, until the butter melts and you start to have a nice shine to the sauce.  You will know the shine when you see it, go with your gut!  Remove from the stove at this point, and sauce your fish.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Flat Iron Steak with a Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce...

In no time at all you can whip up this classic sauce!  It's easy and the prep is simple.  Try it, you'll love it.

This dish should keep Larry quiet for a bit!

We served our meat with roasted acorn squash, which is coated with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Then put in the oven at 325* for an hour.   We also had caramelized onions and garlic, with kale.  To caramelize the onions just chop or slice finely and saute in olive oil over medium high heat.  When they start cooking and get soft, add the garlic and turn the heat down to low.  Now leave them alone for 15 minutes, then add the chopped kale, stems removed, and season.

For the meat.  The meat should at room temperature for about an hour before cooking.  This step helps the meat cook evenly.  Get a saute pan nice and hot.  Rub or brush the meat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place in the hot pan.  Cook until nice and brown, then turn and do the same.  The meat should be very rare still, so move to another pan and place in the oven to finish.

Sauce for two:
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon green peppercorns
1/2 cup beef or vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream

Clean out the pan that you cooked the meat in by wiping with a paper towel and scrape out any burned bits.  Now place the pan back on the stove over high heat, when it's hot, add the wine and reduce until about two tablespoons.  Then add the stock and do the same.  Now add the peppercorns and cream, lower the heat to medium and reduce the cream a little.  This only takes seconds!

Sauce your warm plates, and place the meat on the sauce, now add your vegetables.  You can put the rest of the sauce on top of the meat because you won't want to waste any!

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Blow Your Socks Off, Poor Man's Crab Cakes, With Mango Sauce...

Fresh crab is expensive, so I made these little beauties with mashed potato as the binder.  I also cooked a live crab, and then picked the meat.  It's a bit of work, but worth it in the end.  If you have a friend in the restaurant business, have them order you a pound of fresh crab meat...

Recipe makes about six large crab cakes:
1 cup celery chopped finely
1 cup onion chopped finely
1 cup red bell pepper chopped finely
1 & 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg
2 three-finger pinches sea salt
1 three-finger pinch black pepper
1 three-finger pinch cayenne
1 live crab about 1&1/2 - 2 pounds

6 - egg rings or cookie cutter type rings

First fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil.  When water boils add the poor little crab, shell side down.  When water comes back up to a boil, then set your timer for 20 minutes.  When done remove crab from the water and place into a sink or bucketful of ice cold water.  Let it rest until cold, about 5 minutes.  This process releases the meat from the shell.

Clean the crab under running water, now crack and pick the meat and place in the refrigerator.  Now cook your potatoes and then mash with butter and olive oil, don't use milk or cream, as you want a thick paste to bind.  Place in the refrigerator to cool.  TIP:  If you don't know how to clean and crack a crab, contact me.

Add finely chopped vegetables to a hot saute pan with a little olive or coconut oil, salt and pepper and cayenne, cook until soft but not brown, a little color is alright.  When done place in refrigerator to cool.

When everything is cold, place all ingredients and the egg into a large bowl and mix with your hands or a spoon.  Lay out your egg rings on a piece or grease-proof paper and fill with the crab mixture, making sure to compact it, so it stays together.

Now heat a saute pan up over medium heat with two tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin).  When the oil is hot, slide a steel spatula under a crab cake ring and move to the pan, one at a time, leaving the ring in the pan to hold everything together.  Repeat with the remaining cakes.  Turn after a few minutes, you want them to brown a little but not too much.

We served our crab cakes with rice, sauteed onions and chard, and with white wine, mango and honey sauce.  To save time you can use mango chutney that's been heated up in a small saucepan.

To make the sauce from scratch, peel and chop a couple of fresh mangos and puree in a food processor.  Reduce two cups of white wine down to about a half a cup, then add mangos and reduce a little more.  Turn the heat off and add two tablespoons of honey and stir.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chard and Spinach = Oxallic Acid

All greens are loaded with minerals and vitamins.  They're also loaded with oxalic acid.  Especially chard and spinach.  These greens should be avoided being eaten raw.  Two of my friends were helping me pick greens this summer, later that day they cooked some chard and spinach, al' dente, and about 45 minutes later they both had throat irritations!

So I did some research, and found that chard and spinach are loaded with oxallic acid.  It turns out the only way to neutralize the acid is to cook it or dress it with an acid!  That's why we put vinegar on salad greens.

I also found out that spinach is full of iron, but the body can only absorb the minerals if it's cooked with tomatoes.  And guess what, tomatoes are an acid!

This is how I cook chard when I don't have tomatoes.  After washing a bunch of organic chard, take the stems off and chop them up into fine dice.  I like to use a little onion or leek in this dish, so chop a little of either.  Now chop up the leaves and set aside.  Heat a saute pan up over medium heat, and melt butter or coconut oil.  When it's good and hot add the onion or leek and the chard stems and a little salt and pepper, and cook until caramelized.  When done add the greens and cook until just melted. Then add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to neutralize the oxallic acid.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Healthy Snack For Kids...

For the most part our schools are doing a great job feeding our kids a healthy lunch, at least here on San Juan Island.  It's my opinion that kids are becoming unhealthy when they get off school, around 3:00pm.  This is when they're alone at home, or with their friends, and they tend to get stuck into the bad stuff, like candy, chips and cereal, which is highly processed.

Here's a healthy little snack you can prep in the morning so it's ready for when they get home!

Thinly sliced apple or pear, and Parmesan cheese, with a balsamic drizzle.  Deb's kids love this snack food, it just takes the edge off, while dinner is underway...

If you prep this in the morning, squeeze lemon juice on the apple or pear to stop it turning color.  Remember fruit is fructose (sugar), so avoid eating to much.

Bon Appetit!