Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sushi: Sashimi, Nigiri and 4 Rolls

Serves 2 sushi fiends, with about 8 pieces left over

Fish procurement

You'll get more adventurous as you do this, but you can usually get good quality tuna and salmon at Whole Foods. Neither can have been frozen. Salmon is finicky, so make sure it's not cracking—don't buy it if it is. Ask the purveyor what is sushi grade, and they should be able to point you in the right direction. In Boston, there's a very good fish market called "The New Deal Fish Market" in Cambridge. But even here, they haven't had anything sushi grade beyond these three fish.

Special equipment:

  • Bamboo sushi mat (only if you are making rolls)
  • Very long, sharp knife, preferably single-side blade


  • 4 sheets nori
  • Fish (recommended): N.B. you will need more fish than you will actually eat. In order to get the fish to cut well, and look nice, you will end up with excess that is difficult to use for sushi. These recommendations allow for slightly imperfect shapes of fish, and some error.
    • ½ pound tuna
    • 1/3 pound salmon (skin removed
    • 1/8 pound fluke
    • 1 container high quality crab (plan on what you will use the leftovers for, as you'll have a lot left over)
  • Avocado, cut into 1/3 – ½ inch strips
  • English cucumber, cut into ½" strips, then cut diagonally, so you have a very long triangular "tube"
  • Cilantro, washed, stems attached (but no roots or dirt)
  • Spicy Mayonnaise; Mix the following together in a small bowl.
    • 2 T mayonnaise
    • 1.5 tsp hot chili sauce (Sriracha)
    • ¾ tsp sesame oil (hot if you have it)
  • Sushi rice (see recipe)
  • Prepared wasabi
  • Prepared, pickled ginger
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Su water: Mix vinegar and water in a small bowl, and keep to side. This is what you will be using to keep the rice from sticking to your fingers and your knife.
    • 2-3 tsp Rice vinegar
    • ~ 1 quart water


Given that you are working with raw fish, it's important to make the sushi in an order that leaves the fish exposed for as little time as possible. The following is the best order I have found:

  • Make nigiri "pods", do NOT add fish
  • Make California rolls
  • Make tuna rolls
  • Make salmon rolls
  • Cut fish for nigiri and sashimi

After making each roll, re-wrap fish, and put back into refrigerator.


  1. Dip your hands in the su water (you will do this for each piece of nigiri you mold.
  2. Take 2-3 tsp of rice into the palm of one hand. Press into shape with the other hand. Adjust the shape as desired. You will have a rectangle with rounded edged. These nigiri are smaller than restaurant nigiri. If you're like me, this is a wonderful thing, b/c restaurant nigiri is way too big.
  3. Place on service place
  4. Add a small amount of wasabi to each piece of nigiri


  1. Place nori shiny side down on the bamboo mat, with the edge lined up along the bottom of the matt. The wider side of the nori should be along the bottom of the mat.
  2. Dip hands in su water to coat, and repeat as necessary.
  3. Place rice along bottom half (the half closest to you) of the nori. Thickness is up to you, but I recommend 1/6", this will give you a tight, restaurant-sized roll
  4. Place Filling in center of rice band:
    1. California rolls:
      1. Cucumber, avocado, crab, cilantro (optional)
    2. Spicy tuna rolls:
      1. Add spicy mayo in a ¾" strip down the middle of the rice. Add ½" x ½" x length piece of tuna, Add several cilantro sprigs
    3. Spicy tuna rolls with avocado:
      1. Same as above, but with avocado added
    4. Spicy salmon rolls with avocado
      1. Same as spicy tuna with avocado
  5. Put away each piece of fish before moving to the next type
  6. To roll:
    1. Pick up the mat, and tightly roll the sushi.
    2. Continue to roll, until last ¼"
    3. Moisten finger with su water, and place along the edge of the nori to create and adhesive to "seal" the roll
  7. Wrap each completed roll in saran wrap and put into the refrigerator
  8. Once all rolls are completed or prior to serving, remove and cut each roll into 6 pieces. Do this BEFORE you cut the fish for nigiri or sashimi

Sashimi and Nigiri Completion

  • Remove fish from refrigerator as needed only. Start with the least delicate fish (usually tuna), and move to the most delicate (fluke in this case)
  • Trim each piece of fish as needed, so that you have a "block" of fish that will allow you to cut clean rectangles
  • Place the knife to cut a 1/6" to 1/8" piece of fish. You'll want to cut such that you can see the "grain" of the fish, i.e. you should see a cross-section of the striations of muscle for each piece
  • Cut in a single motion, if at all possible
  • For delicate fish like fluke, cut on a bias to get a wide enough slice of fish
  • Arrange pieces on top of nigiri
  • Arrange pieces on plate for sashimi

Sushi Rice

Makes enough with left over for 12 nigiri, and 4 rolls

The rice will take approximately 70 minutes, start to finish (not labor intensive, just time intensive).

  • 2 ¼ cups short grain rice
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T Mirin (Japanese sweet sake/cooking wine
  • ¼ cup sugar

Cook rice in rice cooker, according to directions. 2 ¼ cups is equivalent to 3 of my "rice cooker cups." Once cooked, turn off heat and allow to sit covered for 20 minutes. Move rice to a large bowl, being careful to remove any browned rice grains.

Meanwhile, in a small nonreactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, mirin, and sugar and heat over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes; do not allow to boil. Keep hot.

Move rice to a large bowl. Mix in ½ of the vinegar mixture using a light lifting motion to avoid crushing the rice. Taste, and add more if necessary. Should have a sweet, slightly acidic edge. Mound loosely, and cover with a wet paper towel. Allow to sit covered for 20 minutes to allow flavor to develop.


Pockey’s Cajun Rice Dressing

As a bit of introduction, Pockey is Roy's step-father from Marksville, Louisiana. Marksville is pretty much the North Pole of Cajun country. But its northerly latitude in no way impacts the quality of the Cajun food. From what we can tell the Lafargue family, and Pocky in particular must be some of the leading culinary lights in the area. The recipe below represents my best attempts to duplicate Pockey's rice dressing. He has very graciously given me the recipe, but unfortunately there are some key ingredients that are impossible to obtain outside of Cajun country, notably, "Savoy's Dressing Mix," a mix of gizzards and spices that adds significantly to the dish. But this is pretty good (if I do say so myself).

Serves 6

  • 1 pound package Jimmy Dean HOT sausage
  • Optional, but highly recommended if you have it: 1-2 turkey livers, thoroughly minced.
  • 1 medium onion, cut into a ½ inch dice
  • 1 smallish green bell pepper, cut into a ½ inch dice
  • ½ jalapeno, minced into an 1/8 inch dice
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced into a paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • 1-2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bunch green onions, green parts only, sliced into 1/8th inch slices
  • 1 ½ cups medium or short grain white rice, cooked according to package or rice cooker directions

  • Tony Chacheri's Cajun Seasoning, salt and pepper to taste

On High, Thoroughly brown the sausage, ensuring that it is very well broken up. Once browned, pour off grease. Add onions, peppers and garlic, and sauté on medium-high until onions are translucent. If you have liver, add now, and cook until well cooked and thoroughly interspersed. Add Worcestershire, mustard, and celery salt. Continue to sauté 1-2 minutes. Add chicken broth so that it is just at the level of the top of the meat. Cover and sauté on medium low for 30 minutes, or until all liquid has evaporated. Adjust seasoning. Mix dressing with half of rice. Assess if you would like a lighter dressing. If so, add the remainder of the rice. Mix in the green onions, and adjust seasoning to taste.

Possible variations:

  • 1 can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
  • 1-2 stalks of celery cut into a ¼ inch dice
  • Ground Thyme

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tropical Carrot Cake (or cupcakes)

Makes 48 mini-cupcakes, Serves 10-15 as sole dessert

adapted from
  • 2 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup dry-roasted macadamia nuts (don't chop)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger (you'll be food processing, so don't waste your time chopping finely)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely grated peeled carrots
  • 2 8-ounce cans crushed pineapple in its own juice, well drained (or not, I've usually not drained it. This gives it a moist but very cakey texture. draining might make it denser. I'll try next time)

  • 2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, chilled
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cups powdered sugar (add more later if you feel it is not sweet enough)
  • 3/4cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco López)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) coconut extract


For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Or, use 2 buttered cupcake pans, with liners if not non-stick, without if non-stick and buttered.

Combine 1/3 cup flour and next 3 ingredients in processor. Process until nuts are finely chopped. Whisk remaining 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour-spice mixture. Stir in coconut-macadamia mixture, then carrots and crushed pineapple.

Divide batter among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 1 hour. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and both extracts. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over top of cake. Top with second cake layer, flat side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Top with third cake layer, rounded side up, pressing slightly to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill cake and remaining frosting 30 minutes. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange whole nuts and ginger around top edge of cake. Chill 1 hour. (Can be made ahead)

Thai Chicken Stir-Fry

This is very similar to the first dish we had when we arrived in Bangkok. My brother took us to a small garage/hardware store/general store/"restaurant" where we watched the owner of the "entity" make this for us. It was wonderful. The best food we had was street food. While this is not technically street food, is it very close, and so are the ingredients (Thai street food uses fresh vegetables extensively). This experience was memorable for more reasons than the food. I was sure I was going to get food poisoning, and since I used an excessive amount of the super-spicy vinegar-pepper-sugar condiment on the dish, when we left, my stomach was protesting as if I might actually throw up (several tablespoons of vinegar and fresh Thai peppers on an empty stomach will do that…) My brother shook his head and told me I'd be fine, while I reassured myself that food poisoning takes 12-36 hours to take effect. I was fine, and this recipe is as close as I have found to recreating the culinary aspect of this experience.

Source: Adapted from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook

Serves 4-6

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 4 garlic cloves minced (the way I mince garlic incorporates salt, if you don't use this technique, add 1-2 tsp of kosher salt to the marinade)
  • 4 tsp very finely minced lemongrass.
    • Use only the inner leaves, and be very sure that this is an extremely fine mince, no more than 1/16th of an inch. Lemongrass is very tough, and if it is not chopped finely will ruin any dish it's in
  • 1.5" piece of ginger, or 4 tsp. Peel ginger, then grate the ginger into a bowl, using a smaller size grater.
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro, preferable more stems than leaves
  • 4 T Asian fish sauce (nam pla) (available at most grocery stores in the Asian section)
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 T corn starch
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken cut into ¼-inch strips

Stir-fry Ingredients

  • ¼ cup peanut oil
  • 4 T niced garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 T minced red onion
  • 4+ Serrano peppers, red and green if possible. Or 1.5 – 2 jalapenos. Cut in half, seeded, then sliced cross-wise as thinly as possible—no more than 1/16 of an inch
  • 2 smallish English cucumbers, cut into a ½ x ½ x ¾ inch dice. (no need to peel English cucumbers)
  • 2 cups grape or pear tomatoes, under-ripe, if possible
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped, lightly packed Thai basil, regular basil or mint
  • Steamed rice (2 cups uncooked rice will be plenty)

Marinate Chicken

Combine all marinade ingredients without chicken. Mix together till corn starch and sugar are dissolved. Incorporate chicken and continue tossing until coated. Marinate for 2-3 hours.


Heat a wok of non-stick pan until very hot. Add oil and heat it to very hot, near if not smoking. Add garlic, pepper flakes and onion and stir for a few seconds. Add marinated chicken mixture, scraping off all marinade into the pan. Stir-fry until chicken turns opaque. Add the chiles and stir-fry for a few seconds (15-30 or so), add the cucumbers and the tomatoes and stir-fry for a few more seconds, or until you manage to incorporate them. Remove from heat. Incorporate basil and serve immediately.


Serve immediately over rice.

Thai Spinach Wraps

Serves 4

  • ¾ pound shrimp, shells removed, poached for 2 minutes, and cut into quarters
  • 30-40 large spinach leaves, washed thoroughly and spun dry
    • Note, you will probably have to buy normal, unwashed spinach, as bagged spinach typically doesn't have large enough leaves. You'll then have to cherry pick the largest leaves.
  • 2" piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4 " cubes or slightly smaller
  • ½ cup unsweetened, dried coconut, toasted coconut
    • Toast on highest rack on broil at 550 degrees for 1-2 minutes. Check every 30 seconds to avoid burning
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • ½ cup cilantro (leaves and stems) roughly chopped
  • ½ cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • ½ cup purple onion, cut into a ¼ inch dice
  • ¾ cup Thai Sweet Chili sauce (get in Thai section of large grocery stores, typically not available at Whole Foods type stores
  • Optional: bean sprouts


Place shrimp in a bowl in the center, place all other ingredients except spinach in individual ramekins with small spoons to serve each. Place spinach leaves on the serving tray if you have room, or on a separate place.


For each wrap, place 1-2 pieces of shrimp, 2-3 peanuts, a small amount of everything else, roll up and eat as a taco or spring roll.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 4-6 for main course, 8 for a starter

1.5-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (3 large breasts)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 small onions, chopped into a 1/4 inch dice
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno minced
4 tomatoes cut into 1/4 dice
2 large (20 oz-ish, not 14 oz.) cans of tomato sauce (Hunt's)
1 T. cumin
1/2 T. chili powder
1 tsp. oregeno
2 T Worcestershire sauce

Minced cilantro, 1/4 bunch
1 avocado, 1/4 inch dice
2 limes, cut into 8 wedges
White corn tortilla chips

Poach & pick chicken
Fill a 4 quart pot half full of salted (1 T) water, bring to a boil. Boil for 13 minutes. Remove chicken from broth. Keep broth for soup. Pick, or shred chicken to fairly small strips.

In a 6-8 qt stock pot, saute onions and garlic, add peppers when onions are well sweated (3-5 minutes). Continue to saute 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute until soft and beginning to dissolve. Add tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer 2-4 minutes until soup turns from bright red to a more brickish red. Add 2 quarts of broth, or more as needed to get a thin soupy texture. Add chicken, cumin, chili powder, oregano, worcestershire sauce. Keep at a vigorous simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until soup has reduced and thickened to a viscosity between a broth and a stew.

To Serve
Remove from heat. Ladel soup into wide-rimmed soup bowls. Place tortilla chips around rim. Add avocado and cilantro to the center of the soup. Garnish with limes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

arugula, strawberry, steak and basil salad

Serves 2 (dinner), 4-6 as a first course

1 package washed arugula
NY strip or other high quality steak
1 pint strawberries cut into 12ths or 16ths
1 bunch basil, stemmed, washed, dried, and with leaves coarsely chopped.
Wedge of high quality parmesan, and swiss cheese slicer
2 T very good balsamic vinegar
4-6 T very good extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Pre-heat oven as high as possible, set to broil.

Pat steak dry, then heavily salt and pepper. Alternately, marinate in your favorite marinade.

Slowly whisk oil into vinegar and mustard until emulsified. Continue adding oil until dressing pleases your palate. This dressing can be a little more vinegary than most balsamic vinaigrettes. Add salt to taste.

Broil meat on highest rack for 3" each side for medium rare. Cut steak immediately into strips after removing from oven.

Assemble the salad:
Toss arugula, basil, and strawberries with balsamic vinaigrette. Add sliced steak along the top (does not need to be warm), use swiss cheese knive to shave a liberal amount of parmesan over the salad. Add cracked pepper if desired.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Caesar Salad

Serves 2

1 package of hearts of romaine (3 hearts)

3T good quality extra virgin olive oil

½ T volume of garlic cloves, sliced in half length-wise (3-4 regular sized cloves)

4 anchovy filets

1.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Dijon mustard

¾ of the juice of one small/medium lemon

½ tsp black pepper

1 egg, warmed (15 seconds on high in a powerful microwave)

1/3 to ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt to taste (very large pinch, typically



2 slices of good quality bread

2 T butter (salted would be best)

Set oven to broil at 500 degrees. Toast bread. Melt butter. Cut bread into 1" x1" pieces. Drizzle butter over and toss (do it in a couple of separate drizzles). Spread croutons over cookie sheet. Place on top oven rack and cook for 45 seconds. Take out of oven, turn over each crouton. Cook for another 30 – 35 seconds. Be very careful, these are prone to burning.



In a large bowl using a wooden spoon, smash garlic cloves against the sides of the bowl until they are disintegrated. This is pretty labor intensive, and fairly irritating at first—power through, it's worth it. Squeeze the garlic pulp against the sides of the bowl, and rub around the entire bowl. Discard the mashed garlic, the oil (which is what you've been extracting in this process) will remain and add a wonderful flavor (don't feel like you need to get rid of every fleck of garlic though). Don't try using a garlic press for this; it doesn't work; the oil gets left in the press and you're left with a flavorless dressing. Place the anchovies in the bowl, mash them against the sides as you did with the garlic, but don't discard. Continue until you have a paste. Add the egg, lemon juice, mustard, pepper, Worcestershire, and whisk well. Slowly beat in the oil. Taste and season with salt.

Putting it all together:

Wash the leaves of romaine and roughly shred. Be sure to use almost all of each leaf, as the thick part of the ribs add a much needed texture. Place in a salad spinner and spin until dry. Note: if you don't have a salad spinner, go out and buy one now; it will be the best kitchen purchase you make this year ($10-$20 at Bed, Bath and Beyond). Toss the shredded romaine with the dressing to coat. Mix in the parmesan cheese to taste. Toss with the croutons. Serve immediately.

Optional Toppings:

King crab: 1.3 pounds (shell on)

Blackened Salmon: Cover with blackening seasoning on each side. Heat a cast iron skillet to extremely hot. Cook each side of the filets on hot for 1 minute, or until smoking and "blackened." Reduce heat to medium-low, cook each side an additional 4 minutes until cooked through. Chill salmon in fridge until cool. Do not serve warm, it will wilt the lettuce and ruin the salad.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Espinacas (Spanish style chick peas and spinach)

Serves 2-4

- 1 T butter
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- One 15-oz can chick peas
- One 10-oz package washed spinach
- 2" piece of spicy, dried chorizo, preferably Palacios brand, cut into a 1/6" to 1/4" dice
- zest of 1/4 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon (fresh), plus more from concentrate (to taste)
- crushed red pepper flakes

Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Once foam subsides, add garlic. Saute, till beginning to soften. Then add spinach to the pan (you'll need to add it in a couple of waves, given the volume). Continue to add spinach and stir until all has been added. Once spinach is all wilted, add chick peas, chorizo, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir 1 minutes. Add additional lemon juice, either from concentrate or fresh. Stir until spinach is beginning to change color, and all are well incorporated. This will be several minutes (3-5). Sprinkle over crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Add salt and more lemon juice to taste.

Goes wonderfully with an Spanish-inspired main. Especially Cod.

Amaretto Spiked Blackberry Cobbler

Serves 6

Topping Ingredients:

2/3 cup corn meal
4/3 cup flour
7 ounces of marzipan paste, crumbled (such as "Odense," usually available in the bakery aisle)
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk

Filling Ingredients:
Four 10 ounce packages frozen blackberries (don't need to be thawed)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 T lemon juice
1/4 cup amaretto
4 tsp corn startch
3 T cold water

Ice cream: vanilla, pistachio, or marzipan (Mission to Marzipan, by Ben and Jerry's)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Making the filling
Bring blackberries, brown sugar, lemon juice, amaretto to a boil. Turn down and simmer, covered for 5". Continue to simmer until a fair amount of liquid has evaporated, and it is beginning to thicken. Combine the corn starch and the cold water. Mix in and continue cooking until thick and bubbly.

Making the topping
Whisk egg and buttermilk together, set aside. Mix dry ingredients in a food processor, DO NOT include marzipan crumbles. Add marzipan, and process as little as possible, but until evenly distributed. Add butter and mix till completely blended--again as short a time as possible. Slowly add buttermilk/egg mixture until combined.

Making the cobblers
Divide the filling among 6 large (5") ramekins. Spoon topping evenly among the 6 ramekins. place the ramekins on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.

Notes: Taste the filling. You may want to add some almond extract. It's very hard to get the almond taste to come through.

Panzanella Salad

Serves 4-6

- One 8" foccaccia round, cut into 1" pieces
- 3 very ripe tomatoes, cut into a 1" dice
- 1 bunch of basil, slightly more finely chopped than rough chop
- very good balsamic vinegar--to taste
- every good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)--to taste

- 1/2 red onion sliced very thin--not more than 2 mm wide
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar

Marinate Onions
Combine onions with red wine vinegar, salt and sugar in a ziploc bag. Ensure that sugar and salt are dissolved. Leave in the bag for 1/2 hour, up to 2 hours.

Make Salad
Combine onions (use half to start, and add more to taste), tomatoes, and basil. Liberally douse with balsamic and EVOO. Taste, and add more balsamic, EVOO or salt, to taste. Immediately before serving, mix in foccaccia.

Very nice summer salad, particularly if you have very good tomatoes. We served it with pork, but it would work well as a side with any Italian main, or with a sandwich.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Smoked Salmon, Asparagus and Goat Cheese Risotto

Serves 4

  • 4 ounces good quality smoked salmon, sliced into 1.5" x 0.5" pieces
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed, blanched to desired firmness and cut into 1" pieces
  • Zest of 1.5 lemons
  • 2 T fresh dill, minced
  • 2 ounces of soft goat cheese (double if you prefer a richer dish.
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock, heated
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T minced shallots
  • 1.5 cups risotto rice (white short grain—never use brown rice, the husks make it almost impossible for it to absorb the liquid in this method of cooking).
  • ¼ - ½ cup grated parmesan
  • Cracked pepper to taste

Asparagus: Bring water to boiling. Add asparagus and boil for approximately 2 minutes, or until desired tenderness. Cool, then cut into 1" pieces and set aside.

Risotto: Heat pan on high. Reduce heat to medium high. Melt butter. Once foam has subsided, incorporate shallots and sauté till beginning to soften. Add risotto rice and continue stirring in pot until they begin to toast. You will smell this, as well as be able to see the whiteness of the grains increasing and becoming more opaque. Reduce heat to medium-low or low. Add ½ cup chicken broth, and stir until it has been absorbed and there is very little liquid in the pan. Continue to add broth in ½ to 1 cup increments, until the rice has reached your desired texture—al dente is recommended. Once desired texture is achieved, add parmesan cheese to taste. Then incorporate goat cheese, lemon zest, asparagus, and cracked pepper. Stir and adjust seasonings or cheese quantities to taste. Once desired flavor is achieved, add smoked salmon in. If you would like the smoked salmon to taste more "cooked," add it in with the other ingredients, the risotto will continue to cook it.

Serve immediately. Garnish with dill sprigs and lemon slices or twist.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Makes one 16" pizza, with a liberal amount of toppings

  • 1 pound frozen pizza dough
  • 2 T
  • 2 chicken breasts, poached in heavily salted water, then cut into a ¾" to 1" dice
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce—the simpler the better
  • 8 ounces sliced pineapple, canned or fresh
  • ½ medium red onion, cut into a ½" dice
  • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup asiago cheese
  • ½ cup minced cilantro

Defrost the pizza dough. Take it out before you leave for work. Put it in a bowl about 4x the volume of the frozen dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, ensuring that the plastic wrap is completely in contact with the bowl, as well as the dough—you're goal here is to minimize the amount of air between the plastic wrap and the dough, as air will dry out the parts of the dough with which it is in contact. This will make it challenging to work with. After 8-10 hours, the dough should have thawed and risen, filling most of the bowl.

Oven Preparation: Place the oven rack to its lowest position. Set the oven to "Bake" and pre-heat to 550 degrees, or whatever is the highest temperature on your oven.

Make the crust: Place a liberal amount of flour on a cutting board or other work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl. Form it back into a bowl. Liberally flour the outside of the ball of dough. Then begin expanding it into the crust. Do this by first placing the dough on your closed fist and letting gravity help to attenuate the dough over your fist. Then place your other fist in, and begin, using both fists to form the crust, continuously expanding the diameter of the dough, by expanding the distance of your hands from one another. The motion is somewhat like small, vertical slow-motion boxing jabs, with the fists getting progressively further apart. Whatever you do, DON'T let it get a hole in it. If you get a hole in it, you are going to have a soggy pizza. It's not the end of the world, and my first attempts were all like that, but you want to avoid holes if you can.

Spread the pizza only a pizza stone (pre-heat if you have one) or a 16" pizza pan. Then taking a pastry brush, brush the melted butter over the crust, brushing the rim most liberally brushing the rim. Spread ½ cup of the BBQ sauce over the pizza. This will seem like a small amount, but should be sufficient, and will help to keep the pizza crisp. Sprinkle mozzarella and asiago cheese to taste. It does not need to be covered in cheese. It will seem very cheesy, even if you still see a substantial amount of sauce and crust. Toss chicken with BBQ sauce to coat. Sprinkle over onions and evenly distribute pineapple.

Cook for 6 minutes. Check to see that it is cooking evenly. If cheese is melted and crust is approaching golden brown, remove. Otherwise, continue cooking. Typically, it will take between 7 and 8 minutes to cook in a 550 degree oven.

Remove, sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Recommended Side, Corn and Feta Salad

Adapted from Oasis restaurant in Palo Alto, CA

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"Salsa" Verde: Caper Sauce

Serves 4

- 1/4-1/2 juice of lemon
- 2 T capers
- 1/2 T minced parsley
- 1 T minced dill
- Salt to taste

* Try adding minced chives and tarragon

Serve with smoked salmon, bread or lox, chevre or cream cheese, sliced red onion, sliced caper berries & diced hard boiled egg

Serve with "Modified Nicoise Salad"

Modified Nicoise Salad

Serves Two

- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- EVOO, 2-3 times volume of lemon juice
- 1-2 tsp good dijon mustard
- 1 T Plain yogurt
- 1/2 cooked egg yolk
- 1 T minced fresh tarragon
- Pinch of sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste

- Arugula
- 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced (1/2 yolk reserved for dressing)
- 6 caper berries
- 4 green beens, pickled or fresh
- whatever else you like