Monday, December 20, 2010

Carne Asada Fajitas

This past weekend the boy and I went down to my parents house to help decorate their Christmas Tree.  Needless to say, we were both tired when we returned to San Francisco.  The boy was craving Mexican food and instead of him getting a burrito at a questionable Taquerilla, I convinced him that I would cook Fajitas and we could relax and recover together in the comfort of our own home.  That settled, we dropped in on our local Trader Joes and picked up some ingredients.  I was set on making Carne Asada and was looking for the right cut of meat at TJ's.  They didn't have anything I wanted (Filet Mignon is not ideal here) so (Mom - don't hate me) I grabbed the TJ's marinated Carne Asada steak.  I came home and started to make another marinade for the meat because I wanted to add a bit more flavor to it.  Once the meat marinated for about 20-30 minutes, I grilled it on an indoor grill pan, served it with sauteed vegetables and some cheese and voila, Fajitas!
Carne Asada Fajitas:

1 package of pre-marinated Carne Asada steak from Trader Joes (make sure you slice the pieces into more manageable sizes, roughly the size of your hand)
1 small shallot, chopped roughly
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ancho chili powder (optional, if not add a bit more chili powder)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1 tbsp honey
2 limes, zest and juice
1 orange, zest and juice
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp peanut oil - or any neutral flavor oil

Indoor Grilling

Mix all the marinade ingredients and add the Carne Asada and let sit for at least 20 minutes room temperature.  Heat a grill or your grill pan to high.  Sear the meat for 3-5 minutes on both sides until medium rare and tender.  The time will depend on the size of your meat and the hotness of your grill/grill pan.  Serve with a whole wheat flour tortilla, shredded cheese, sauteed peppers and onions and some salsa and you have yourself a rocking fajita.

Peppers and Onions

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Breakfast Cheese Toast

I turned 25 a few days ago and it made me realize how much of a great life I have.  I'm healthy, have a great job, live in a great city, and have fantastic friends and family.  That being said, I got to go to Incanto for dinner last night to celebrate with the boy.  We had a really offal dinner that included Pigs Trotters, Calf Kidneys and Lardo.  Waking up this morning, I was craving some bacon and eggs and remembered this breakfast that I used to make in college when I had a late morning.  You toast some bread, rub some garlic over it, add cheese and a fried egg on top.  Add a side of bacon and a mimosa and you're off to a great Saturday.

Breakfast Toast:

2 slices of a baguette, on an angle
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 clove of garlic, pealed
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
4-6 slices of Gruyere cheese
2 eggs
chives for garnish

Preheat an oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Put the bread on the baking sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.  Toast the bread for 4ish minutes, until it starts to get a nice golden color but is still a bit soft in the middle of the bread.  Rub the bread with the garlic and then spread the tomato paste on the bread in a even layer.  Season the bread with more salt and pepper, also add the thyme leaves.  Top with the slices of cheese and put back in the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese.

While the cheese is melting on the bread, fry 2 eggs in a skillet, to your preference (I like sunny side up with a runny yolk but you can scramble them as well).

Top the cheese toast with the eggs and garnish with chives.  Add a slice or two of bacon and you have a great weekend brunch.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta and Chestnuts

This past Thanksgiving dinner I finally convinced my mom to let me cook something a little different than our normal menu.  I had made roasted Brussel Sprouts a few weeks earlier and loved how they developed a nutty flavor.  Given that it is Thanksgiving, I upped the ante and added some pancetta and cooked chestnuts.  They were by far, my favorite side dish from our Thanksgiving dinner.

Brussel Sprouts:

2-3 ounces of cubed pancetta (TJ's has it)
12-15 brussel sprouts, halved and cleaned
2 tbsp olive oil - I used duck fat because it was tasty, but bacon fat works too
Salt and Pepper
1/4 tsp. of chili powder
1/2 cup of pealed chopped cooked chestnuts

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large skillet brown the pancetta on medium heat.  Once crispy, take out with a slotted spoon and drain onto paper towels.  Add a bit more oil/fat to the pan on medium high heat.  Add the sprouts, halved side down, season with salt, pepper and chili powder and let cook for 5-7 minutes, until they get a nice color of golden brown.  Stir around a bit, add the chestnuts and a splash of water or chicken stock.  Put the pan in the oven and cook the brussel sprouts till soft but still have a bite to them.  Depending on the size 8-12 minutes.  Once done, sprinkle with the crispy pancetta and serve.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Broccolini with Cheese Sauce

This side dish is a great addition to any meal.  You steam the broccoli or the broccolini in some salted water and then top it with a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.  If you choose to veto the sauce, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the broccoli right before you eat it, because if you squeeze the lemon juice on it right after steaming, it will turn a weird brownish green color that, well, just isn't appetizing.

Broccolini with Cheddar Cheese Sauce:

1 bunch of broccolini or broccoli
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp Wondra flour
1- 1 1/2 cups warmed skim milk (warm it in the microwave in a liquid measuring cup)
1/4 tsp freshly graded nutmeg
1/4 tsp mustard powder
1 cup freshly graded sharp white cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper

You need 2 pans, one shallow that you can fill with water and steam the boccoli/broccolini and another saucepan that you can make the sauce with.

Boil the water with a large pinch of salt.  When boiling, add the broccolini and cover to steam. 

While the vegetable is steaming, heat the butter in the sauce pan, once melted add the flour.  Cook for at least a minute to cook off the raw flour flavor.  Then add the warmed milk, and stir to combine.  Add the nutmeg, mustard, salt and pepper, then slowly start adding the cheese a hand full at a time, till it's melted completely.

When the broccolini is done, take off the heat and drain.  Make sure the cheese sauce is combined and smooth.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.  Make sure the sauce has cooked for at least 5 minutes on medium low to thicken a bit, drizzle over the cooked broccolini and enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Quiche Lorraine

I had brunch the other day with a friend and had a fantastic Quiche Lorraine at Cafe Devine in North Beach.  I decided to remake it for breakfast this morning.  It's a perfect way to start a rainy Sunday and prepare for the Giants game tonight.  I decided to not make a crust with this quiche because it takes time and frankly, I didn't feel like it.  This recipe is for 2 quiche cups that I made in mini Ramekin dishes which turned out pretty damn tasty.  I added some frozen peas for some green but you can substitute scallions or leeks instead if you have them on hand.

Crustless Quiche Lorraine:

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 - 3/4 cup graded Gruyere cheese
pinch of salt
freshly cracked pepper
large pinch nutmeg
2 slices of bacon, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup frozen peas or sliced green onion or leek
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed

Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine everything through the nutmeg in a bowl and beat till a little fluffy (20-30 seconds).  Heat a saute pan on medium low heat and add the bacon to render the fat.  When the bacon is crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.  Add the shallots and saute for a minute or so, add some cracked black pepper, then add the peas and the thyme.

In the 2 Ramekin dishes, separate the bacon equally on the bottom.  Spoon enough of the egg mixture on each dish to cover the bacon, then add the shallot and peas.  Spoon the rest of the egg mixture and top with the rest of the cheese and a few more thyme leaves.

Bake in the oven with a tray underneath to catch spillage for about 20 minutes.  Till the egg is set but a little jiggly.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Citrus Ginger Beef

I appologize for the quality of the photo, I only had my point and shoot with me...
The boy and I had a fun couple over for dinner the other night.  Some wine, The Blind Side and very full tummies later we decided that this dinner was post worthy.  Before, we had deliberated on what I would make and decided on an Asian menu: Citrus Ginger Beef, Brown Rice, and a Cucumber Salad.  The stir fry turned out extremely delicious and we ate ALL of it.

Citrus Ginger Beef:

1 - 1 1/2 lb of flank steak, sliced very thin, against the grain
zest of 1 orange + juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 lime + juice of 1 lime
2 inch knob of ginger, pealed and sliced into discs
3 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp soy sauce + 2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp Amontillado sherry
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 bunch of hericot vert or green beens, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp peanut or canola oil
1 tsp toated sesame seeds
2 scallions, thinly sliced at an angle

In a large bowl take the sliced beef and coat it with the corn starch.  Add the soy sauce, sherry, and half the zest of the citrus.  Toss to coat evenly.  Let marinate for 30 minutes, toss around each 10 minutes.

In another bowl combine the other half of the citrus zest, the rest of the sherry, soy, red pepper flakes, and hoisin.  Put aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of the canola oil to very high heat in either a wok or a large deep saute pan.  Saute the hericot vert for a few minutes in the oil till they blister a bit.  Take out with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the oil.  Heat the same pan on high and add another 1 tbsp of oil till it smokes.  Add the sliced ginger and let it infuse the oil.  Add the beef 30 seconds later with all of the juice.  Saute for at least 2 minutes, until the beef has nice sear on one side.  Stir it all up and let it cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Add the reserved sauce and let it cook till it gets thick.  Add the scallions and sesame seeds and serve while hot.  Squeeze a bit more orange juice on top at the end.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Linguine alla Carbonara

Thehave made the playoffs!!! This is very exciting news for the Bay Area and calls for a celebration. They play in their first playoff game for the first time in 7 years on Thursday, October 7th at 6:30pm and to celebrate I'm going to make a deliciously tasty dish that is saved for special occasions, well at least for me it is. I'm making Linguine alla Carbonara. My version isn't awful for you, I use whole wheat pasta, it doesn't have cream or butter but it does have eggs and lots of Parmesan cheese (ehh give and take right?). I add some vegetables also, and today I used bacon rather than pancetta because I had it in my fridge. I did tweak it a bit by adding some lemon zest at the end because, well, it sounded delicious and I had some lemons from my parent's lemon tree.

Linguine alla Carbonara

(2 dinner portions)

1/2 pound of whole wheat linguine pasta
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 slices of bacon, chopped into slices or 1/3 cup of pancetta
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
salt and pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
zest of 1/2 a small lemon

In a large pot, bring a lot of water to boil. Salt the water with 1/3 cup of salt (a nice big handful) and place the pasta in the water, stir to make sure they don't stick to one another.

In a bowl, take the egg, 1/2 cup of the graded Parmesan and some freshly ground pepper, and whip together for a few minutes. Make sure there are no lumps in the egg mixture. *If you want you can add a splash of cream to make it extra creamy.

In a saute pan, add the bacon or pancetta on medium low heat and render the fat from the bacon. When the bacon is cooked and crispy, take out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In that same saute pan, add the garlic and shallot and saute on medium heat till the shallot is tender and translucent. Add some cracked pepper, red pepper flakes, and frozen peas (it's going to be salty from the bacon so hold off on the salt for now) and stir to combine. When the pasta is almost done, add it to the pan with 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Turn off the heat and wait 1 minute. Add the egg and Parmesan mixture and quickly toss everything together making sure the eggs don't scramble but thicken a bit. Add the rest of the Parmesan cheese and the lemon zest and combine everything one more time. Taste for seasoning.

Garnish with some flat leaf parsley and some basil. FYI I'm enjoying this right now.

Monday, September 27, 2010

White Wine Sangria

I got inspired a few years ago watching Bobby Flay make White Wine Peach Sangria. He added so much fruit to it but it looked extremely tasty. Whenever I made it, I always tweaked it to accommodate whatever I had in my fridge. I tweaked this recipe and added a few slivers of jalapeno to cut through the sweetness, but that is totally optional.

This weekend it was beautiful outside. It was the first time this entire year where it actually felt like California in San Francisco. There was no fog, it was hot, and I'm talking 85 degrees hot, and everyone was in a fantastic mood. Football is back, it's time to fire up the BBQ and get cooking. For me, sangria and summer always go together. The boy and I were craving a summery drink to quench our thirst from the heat. White Wine Sangria seemed like a perfect solution. Use a dry white wine, nothing too sweet. Add some juice (I like the Orange, Peach, Mango juice that is at Trader Joes) some booze, and some fruit and voila...

White Wine Sangria

1 bottle of white wine, chilled (I used Sauvignon Blanc, a white Rioja or Pinot Grigio would work well too)

1 to 1 1/2 cups juice (Orange, Peach, Mango, Pineapple, etc)

1/4 cup triple sec or Cointreau

1/4 cup brandy or Cognac

1 apple, sliced

1 orange, sliced

hand full of mint leaves

1/4 jalapeno, thinly shaved (optional)

1/2 cup sparkling water or sparkling fruit juice

Add all ingredients into a big pitcher and let sit for a few hours in the fridge. Pour into wine glasses and enjoy!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mushroom And Thyme Risotto

This is a great twist on the classic risotto recipe. I paired it with the Pork Chops and a salad, it made a really nice meal.

Mushroom and Thyme Risotto:

1 cup of sliced crimini mushrooms
5 springs of thyme, leaves pulled off
1 shallot, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup aborio rice
extra virgin olive oil
3 cups of chicken/mushroom stock
salt and pepper
I tweaked the 3 cups of chicken stock by adding the ends of the mushrooms and some thyme leaves to infuse the flavor. I let it simmer for 20 minutes or so to have the mushroom flavor really come out.
In a wide saucepan heat the olive oil and saute the mushrooms with just pepper. Once you add the mushrooms to the oil, don't touch them. Let them sear on one side really well before stirring. After a few minutes of cooking the mushrooms, add the salt and the thyme and stir to combine. With a slotted spoon take out the mushrooms and set aside. Saute the shallot for a minute or so with salt and pepper. Add the aborio rice and toast for a minute or two. Add the wine and scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring and adding a ladle full of stock every 2-3 minutes till the rice is done, about 18 minutes. Right before the rice is done, add back the mushroom and one last ladle full of stock and finish cooking.

Pork Chops with an Apricot and White Wine Glaze

Almost every weekend, I ask the boy what he's craving for dinner on Sunday night. It usually turns out to be a discussion of what we've had in the past week and what we're both sick of. That said, I've been wanting to make this pork dish for a couple of weeks and thought it would be a great Sunday night dinner. I created this in my mother's kitchen with much advice from her, the end result is pretty damn tasty.

You sear the pork on both sides with DUCK FAT (I know, really tasty and enjoy), take them out of the pan, cook the tasty goodness at the bottom the pan with some shallots, white wine, apricot jam and stock. Coat it all and bake it for a few minutes. Done.

Pork Chop with Apricot and White Wine Glaze:

3-4 pork chops
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 tbsp apricot jam
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock (optional, or you can add some water or more wine)
salt and pepper
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp duck fat or bacon fat

Preheat oven to 375 F. Season both sides of the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper. In a saute pan, heat up the olive oil and duck fat on medium high heat. Sear the pork chops on each side for about 4-5 minutes, depending on how think the chops are. Once the chops are seared on both sides take them out and let them rest on a plate, cover in aluminum foil.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan if it's dry, saute the shallots with some salt and pepper for a minute or so, till a little soft. Add the wine and scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the apricot jam and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and return the pork chops to the pan, with any of the juices on the plate. Coat the chops on both sides with the sauce and put the pan in the oven. Bake for 4-5 minutes, till the chops are medium well, a little pink in the chop is ok.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cheese Plate

Friday night, roommate dinner, finally. I made a cheese plate and it was just so pretty looking and really tasty that I had to share it. The trick to making a cheese plate look pretty is incorporate different colors and textures. I had a few different cheeses a soft Raclette cheese and an Old Amsterdam Extra Aged Gouda were my favorite. I added cashews and raw almonds along with champagne grapes to make it extra special. Top that with some sliced salami and some coppa and you have yourself a pretty tasty cheese plate. Serve it with crackers or toasted bread.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage

For the first time in a long time I didn't feel like cooking. I went around the corner to try and pick something up that I could warm up and eat quickly. I stumbled upon this Butternut Squash Ravioli and immediately wanted to make it with a brown butter and sage sauce. I'm aware that this recipe is not good for you, but what the hell, it's god damn tasty and everyone deserves a little indulgence once in awhile. This is a super easy dish to make and took me maybe 12 minutes from start to finish. Add a salad and you have a complete meal.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage

1 package of butternut squash ravioli
4 tbsp butter
7 whole sage leafs
salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg
Parmesan cheese and pine nuts for sprinkling on top

Bring a pot of water to boil and salt heavily (grab a fist full of salt and add it to the water). Boil pasta till they float and are almost cooked, about 6 minutes.

While pasta is boiling, take a saute pan and melt the butter and the sage leafs. Keep an eye on the butter and make sure it starts to brown but not burn. When the pasta is almost cooked take it out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and add directly to the pan. Cook the rest of the pasta in the brown butter and sage for a few minutes and coat all the pasta, season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add a little bit of the pasta water if you would like more sauce. Serve with a sprig of fresh sage, freshly graded Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lamb Tacos

This weekend my parents came up to the City for a BBQ. We made enough food for 17 families but devoured a ton of it ourselves. We made a boneless lamb leg, butterflied and marinated in garlic, rosemary, orange and lemon zest, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and a ton of olive oil. It was delicious and I snagged myself some for leftovers. I decided I wanted to make a taco/fajita with the lamb for dinner tonight, it was really tasty. I pickled some onions and added a few condiments and it actually was one really delicious meal.

Lamb "Tacos"

slices of warm lamb
pickled red onion - see below
cucumber slices
sun dried tomatoes
shredded cabbage
crumbled feta cheese
Tzatziki sauce - see below
corn tortillas

Tzatziki Sauce - My Way:
1 small package of Nonfat Fage Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 large lemon, maybe more depending on how thick you want your sauce
splash of orange juice or a touch of orange zest
8 mint leaves, minced
3 chives, minced
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Combine all in a bowl and drizzle over tacos at the end. Top with Feta Cheese. This can also be used as a dressing for cucumber slices.

Pickled Red Onion:

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup vinegar (I also added a splash of red wine vinegar)
3 tbsp white sugar
2 bay leaves
5 whole peppercorns
5 allspice berries
5 whole cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander
6 celery seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or 1 dried chili
1 garlic clove, smashed

In a sauce pan, bring everything but the onion to a boil and make sure the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to low and add the sliced onion. Cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your onions. Let cool and serve with the lamb tacos. Store in a metal jar, with the pickling juice, in the fridge and it can last for months.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jalapeno Nectarine Martini

A few weeks ago I went to trivia night at Tonic, a bar in Russian Hill. They have a really tasty Peach Jalapeno Martini that is amazingly good and really pretty. They use Absolute APeach, peach nectar, jalapeno and muddle it together to make the martini. I decided that I wanted to recreate it using a white nectarine because I like white stone fruit better. My first attempt was pretty unsuccessful. I thought muddling the fruit, jalapeno and regular vodka together would be completely fine. I know now that I have to use some nectar or puree to make the drink taste more like the fruit.

Round two: I pureed the nectarine in a food processor and added a little water to thin it out and a little sugar or splenda to sweeten the nectarine, mine wasn't as juicy as I wanted it to be. I then used that juice with the cut up jalapenos and the vodka to muddle it all in a glass with ice. I added mint too because I like how both the mint and the jalapeno cut through the sweetness of the nectarine. Add a splash of Cointreau or Triple Sec and shake over ice. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with either a twist or I used some jalapeno slices. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries

Another side dish to the asparagus that I made were Sweet Potato Fries. Technically they're Yam Fries because we used yams instead of sweet potatoes but that's just a technicality. You cut up the potato into thin fry like strips, coat with olive oil and some seasoning and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. They're super delicious and extremely good for you.

Sweet Potato Fries

2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned and cut into thin match like strips
olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder (you can use regular or ancho depending on your preference)
1/2 tsp Lawry's seasoned salt

Preheat oven to 400 F. On a lined baking sheet (I used foil) coat the taters in the olive oil and the seasoning, use you hands, get down and dirty and mix it all up. Bake for about 20-30 minutes till the potato is cooked and they're a bit crispy. Keep and eye on them and don't let them get too mushy, you may need to add some olive oil in the middle of the cooking process.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I made a very delicious dinner last night with the boy. It was my take on Steak Frite (recipe soon to follow), however, the asparagus with a bread crumb and egg topping was probably my favorite side dish of the night. I roasted the asparagus instead of steaming them because I like the flavor it develops in the oven. As for the topping, I wanted to use a crumbled egg but put my own little twist on it. This is probably one of the easiest side dishes I've done and yet extremely flavorful.

Asparagus with a Bread Crumb and Egg Topping

2 eggs
1/3- 1/2 cup bread crumbs, unseasoned
1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
4 springs of thyme and parsley, minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest or half of a lemon zested - eyeball it
1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed
extra virgin olive oil - enough to coat the asparagus
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a saucepan, put the two eggs in and add enough cold water to cover them completely. Put on the stove and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, put a top on the lid and take off the heat. Let sit in the hot water for about 15-20 minutes, then drain and fill back up with cold water. Once cool, remove shell (they should come off fairly easily) and separate the yolks from the whites.

While the eggs are cooking, in a pan coat the asparagus in the olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes.

While the asparagus is roasting. Heat a saute pan with the butter and toast the breadcrumbs till a golden brown, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Transfer to a bowl and let cool a bit, add the Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and the crumbled cooked egg yolks. Add the fresh herbs at the end and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste.

Once the asparagus are cooked, align them on plate and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top in a line, allowing the asparagus to be visible on both sides.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Night Dinner, Kinda

Roast Chicken, need I say more? I have been craving one of these for a very long time and finally took the time out of my busy day to go for it. I had the boy over, it was delicious, the entire apartment smelt like chicken for a day or so but it was glorious! I am a huge fan of the crispy skin afterwards and the meat turned out to be sooo moist! I even made a chicken salad afterwards. I usually make this dish on a Sunday Night, it takes a bit of time and to me feels like a great way to start off the week. However, nothing ever goes as planned so we did a Monday Night Dinner.

*Make sure to take out the chicken and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour. Placing a cold chicken in the oven results in uneven cooking.

Roasted Chicken

1 whole chicken, 5-6 pounds
1/2 lemon, cut up into wedges
1/2 small onion, cut up into wedges
2 garlic cloves, smashed
6 springs of rosemary
2 springs of thyme
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp each of salt and pepper + more for seasoning inside the bird
pinch of red pepper flakes
Kitchen Twine

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl combine the olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a bowl and set aside. Separate the skin from the meat with you fingers and go as far down the bird as you can. Take the olive oil mixture and rub the meat under the skin with it. You can also substitute butter pad for this as well. Stick a sprig each of rosemary between the skin and the meat (where you just massaged) and stick it as far down as you can. Season the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper and then stuff the cavity of the chicken with the onion, lemon, garlic, thyme and rosemary. You want the cavity to have some aromatics in it but not completely stuffed full.

Tuck the wings of the bird underneath it's body and use some kitchen twine to tie the legs together. Place on a lined baking dish and stick in the oven for about an hour to an hour and a half depending on the size of the bird. Cook till the bird is about 160 - 165 F and the juices run clear when poked. Once at that temperature, pull out the chicken and tent with tin foil and the bird will continue to cook for a few more minutes out of the oven.

Let rest for about 15 minutes, carve her up and serve. You can also season the skin with a little salt at then end if you like. If you don't end up using all the chicken, save it and make Chicken Salad with it later in the week.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dinner with Momma

My mother came up to SF to have dinner with me and help me finish unpacking, oh the joys of moving! I made Stuffed Peppers, Broccolini with White Cheddar Cheese Sauce, and an Arugula Salad. The dinner went great and we made a Carrot Cake afterwards, recipe maybe to follow.

Stuffed Peppers

1 lb. lean ground beef or chicken (I used 94% lean ground beef)
5 bell peppers - 1 finely diced, 4 chopped in half length wise cleaned of all the ribs and seeds
1/2 large onion or 1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp marjoram (optional)
1 tsp - 1 tbsp salt and pepper
1/2 tsp ground chili powder
2-3 tbsp tomato paste
1 can of tomato sauce or 1/2 box of Pomi tomato sauce (picture below)
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 cup brown rice
1/2 cup water (optional)
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan cheese for grating on top

In a deep and wide saucepan heat up 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Saute the chopped pepper, onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook till onion is translucent on moderate heat, about 5-9 minutes. Remove all the vegetables from the pan. Add the remaining olive oil and sear the ground beef (on medium high heat) till cooked, breaking it up into bits, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining cooked vegetables and stir to combine. Add the bay leaf, the herbs (minus the parsley), the tomato paste and the water and stir to combine. Add the tomato sauce (you may need more or less depending on the dryness of the meat), brown rice, and stir. Taste for seasoning, adjust to your liking. Turn to low and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking dish or cookie tray with foil and drizzle olive oil on the pepper halves, facing upwards. Season with some salt and pepper as well and bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes till the peppers give a little and aren't entirely crisp. Pull out and let cool.

After the sauce has been simmering away, retaste the sauce and adjust for seasoning, add the fresh parsley. Spoon mixture into each pepper so it's completely stuffed. Spoon a tsp of tomato paste on the top of the stuffing and grate some Parmesan cheese on top and put back in the oven. Let cook for 10-25 minutes depending on how soft you want your pepper and how crispy you want the Parmesan cheese to get.

Take out of oven, let cool and serve with a salad and a green vegetable.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Asian Lettuce Wraps

I have officially moved! This past weekend was a long one. I have moved all of my stuff about 6 blocks to my friend's old place, same neighborhood, different house. The kitchen is bigger, back yard is nicer, and the roommates are great. Sunday night dinner, had a few ingredients in the new fridge and decided to make Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

5-6 chicken thighs, skin off
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice 1/2 orange
juice AND zest of 1 lime (zest first, then juice)
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sherry
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/2 scallion, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup peanut oil

For Garnish:
Butter Lettuce Leaves
Toasted Almond Slivers
Cucumber Salad

Combine all ingredients in a zip lock bag or bowl and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a frying pan, spray with non stick spray and add some peanut oil. Cook chicken on one side on medium/medium high heat for about 6-7 minutes, flip and cook on the other side. If the chicken is still not done, put the pan in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, depending on how thick the chicken thighs are. Once the chicken is done, squeeze a little bit of lime juice on top while warm. Let rest for a few minutes and then chop into bite size pieces.

Serve with butter lettuce, cucumber salad, chopped cilantro and scallions, and toasted almond slivers. Put all into the lettuce leaf, wrap up and chomp.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Asian Chicken Salad

I roasted a chicken earlier this week (recipe to follow) and it was magnificent. I decided to take some of the chicken and make an Asian Chicken Salad with it and it turned out pretty tasty. I julienned (very thinly sliced) some carrots and bell peppers, added some green onions, segmented clementines, thinly sliced white onion and toasted slivered almonds with a nice citrus soy vinaigrette. It's a clean light chicken salad that doesn't need to be refrigerated, so great on a picnic or for a BBQ with friends.

Asian Chicken Salad

1/2 a cooked rotisserie chicken, skin off, shredded
1 bell pepper, julienned
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
2 scallions, chopped
1 small onion, chopped in half and very thinly shaved/sliced
4 clementines, segmented or a can of drained Mandarin oranges
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
handful of cilantro leaves

juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar or honey
1 inch of ginger, graded
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
dash garlic powder
7 mint leaves, chopped finely
3/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp peanut oil

Prepare vinaigrette, and mix well to combine. Toss all ingredients with the dressing in a bowl and let sit for about 10 minutes to absorb the flavors. Serve room temperature or cold.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Duck Breasts

After a fantastic weekend of scavenger hunts, birthday parties, a great night in with the boy, and still maintain a voice that sounds like a frog (lost my voice, seriously I hope it comes back), I wanted to enjoy a solo Sunday night dinner. Even with my family, Sunday night dinners were always special with BBQ's or some fun or new recipe my mother and I would try.

I have just gotten back from a business trip to Richmond, VA where I had a great appetizer of pork belly on top of risotto with a balsamic drizzle. I tweaked it a bit with duck breast and a parsley salad on top, but it was extremely delicious and have enough for lunch tomorrow for work.

This recipe was for one person (aka: Me) but you can totally adapt it for a family or a few friends by adding a few extra duck parts. Also, the risotto I used was from last week's recipe, when plating, use it as a base or basket for the duck, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top of the risotto for some yummy flavor. Lastly, you can use a turkey breast (skin on) in replacement of the duck if you can't find it or don't like duck (if you're a crazy person).

The Seared Duck Breast in its Entirety

Duck Breast with Balsamic Reduction (serving size: 1-2 people):

1 duck breast

1 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, minced and mashed with a side of a knife with some salt to make a garlic paste

non-stick spray

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

hand bunch of fresh parsley or micro greens

On medium heat reduce the balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat when it developes a thicker consistency, about 5-7 minutes.

Combine thyme, oil, macerated garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl. Take the duck breast and score it in a diamond pattern (shown above). Massage the duck "tit" with the oil mixture and let sit for a few minutes. Get a saute pan hot, spray with non-stick cooking spray and add a touch of oil (the duck will render a TON of fat when cooking). Sear the duck breast for about 6 minutes skin side down then flip over and sear for another 5-6 minutes, till the juices run pink. Let rest for 5 or so minutes with tin foil on top. Slice duck breast and place it on top of the risotto. Drizzle the balsamic reduction around the place, top everything with parsley and serve.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Basic Risotto

I'm not feeling so hot today. I think I'm coming down with the flu, right before a business trip. When I get sick I crave homey things. One thing that I LOVE is risotto. You can add lots of different flavors to risotto because it really absorbs whatever you put in it. I made a classic risotto because I have a sore throat and didn't feel like getting fancy. The trick to risotto is to add the broth a little at a time and constantly stir. So pull up a stool, pour yourself a glass of wine (if you're not under the weather) and start working those arm muscles, it's worth it in the end.


1 shallot, finely diced
2 cups of aborio rice
1/2 -3/4 cup dry white wine
5-6 cups of hot chicken stock (put it in a sauce pan and keep it on medium low on the stove)
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh thyme leaves
Parmesan cheese

In a deep and wide sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Add shallots and saute till translucent, don't burn. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes till the rice starts to become a little translucent at the ends. Add the wine and stir, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan.

Start ladling the chicken stock 2 ladle fulls at a time into the rice. Adjust the heat to medium/medium high to make the liquid evaporate at 2-3 minute intervals. Keep ladling in the stock every 2-3 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. After about 15-18 minutes of stirring, season with the salt, pepper, and thyme and taste. Adjust to your likings of salty and pepperiness. Once the rice is soft but still a little al dente, pull off the heat and grate Parmesan cheese on top. Consume.

*You can add mushrooms and more thyme to make a delicious second risotto.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce

I usually don't make pasta. It is one of those things that for me, once you eat it, you keep eating it. So I try and only make it for special occasions, or if I'm feeding an army of people. I'm using whole wheat Penne but you can use any type of pasta your little heart desires.

You can make this two ways, one going gung-ho and opt for the cream, or you can save calories and use whole or skim milk. You won't get the richness that comes from the cream but it isn't bad at all. You can also add meat to this sauce, not technically a Vodka Cream Sauce, but it adds some protein.

Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce

1/2 box whole wheat Penne Rigate
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and Pepper (about 1 tsp each)
1/2 cup vodka
2 bay leaves
1-2 pinches of red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp marjoram (optional)
2 cans of tomato sauce
1/2 can tomato paste (small can)
2 tsp sugar (optional, depending on taste)
1/2 cup cream or milk
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
chiffonade of 7 basil leaves
Parmesan cheese for dusting afterwards

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Add the bay leaves and the dried herbs through the marjoram and stir to combine. Continue to saute the onion till translucent and add the vodka. Let some of the alcohol evaporate for a few minutes and then add the tomato sauce and paste, stir to combine. Add some water if the sauce it too think. Continue to cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes. Taste after 20 minutes and adjust for seasoning, add sugar at this point if necessary.

Meanwhile boil pasta water and cook pasta till al dente. Add pasta just before it's fully cooked to the sauce and continue to cook the pasta in the sauce. Once the pasta is cooked, add the cream/milk along with the fresh herbs and stir to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

*If you don't feel like making your own tomato sauce, you can use store bought sauce and doctor it up a bit with some seasoning. In a saute pan, add the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Add the vodka and let some of the alcohol evaporate. Add the cooked pasta with a bit (1/2 cup) of the cooking liquid and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce. At the very last moment, add the cream/milk and toss to combine. Garnish with the fresh herbs and cheese.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mini Quiche Cups

I'm getting very sick and tired of eating some of the same things for breakfast. Everything had a ton of sugar and a ton of carbs in it, and doesn't fill me up till lunchy lunch time. I got an idea to make mini quiche cups that I can take to work, warm up and eat fairly quickly, that saves me from eating another cereal bar.

I know right now my mother is telling me "Well darling girl, why don't you just wake up early and make yourself some nice breakfast?" My response, "I like sleeping."

So last night, after the Lakers won the championship I tackled this task of trying to make these mini quiches. My first attempt went pretty well. It was a twist on Quiche Florentine, the flavors were really amazing and I was fairly happy with the first round. However, I definitely need to tweak it a little bit. I wanted to add some protein so I used Chicken Apple Sausages, turns out, too sweet with the caramelized onions. I would suggest substituting a hot or savory sausage, like a Jalapeno Cheddar, or just a plain Hot Italian Sausage, just make sure they're cooked before you combine it in the egg mixture. This recipe can be easily turned into a fritata or a scramble, you can even substitute the Gruyere cheese with feta and add olives for a Mediterranean twist.

Mini Quiche
8 eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper and beaten slightly
1/2 - 1 cup milk (anywhere from skim to whole depending on how many calories you want to save)
1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, I used Gruyere
1/2 bag chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and drained of all water
1 savory sausage, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
2 pinches nutmeg
1/2 tsp garlic powder
olive oil
cupcake liners
non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a saute pan, heat up the olive oil and saute the onions with a little salt and pepper till translucent on medium heat, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, spinach and chopped up sausage and stir to combine. Add the red pepper flakes, nutmeg and garlic powder and turn off heat.

While the onion mixture cools, mix the seasoned eggs and milk together in a big bowl. Make sure to beat for a few moments to incorporate air to the eggs. Add the cheese, sun dried tomatoes, a touch more red pepper flakes if you wish. Add the onion mixture to the bowl and stir to combine.

Using a muffin tin, place the liners in and spray each cupcake liner with non stick cooking spray. Then spoon in the combined egg mixture into each liner. Make sure not to fill up completely because the egg mixture will rise a bit.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Then at the last minute, turn on the broiler and brown the tops so it has a nice crust. These can be rewarmed in a microwave very easily. Just make sure to use the cupcake liners that don't have metal in them.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Bay to Breakers is a yearly event in San Francisco that consists of a 7 mile trip from The Embarcadero, through Golden Gate Park, finishing at Ocean Beach. The boyfriend hosted everyone the night before so we could all wake up together (at 6am mind you), get ready and start the "race." A few girlfriends and I dressed up as Neon Ballerinas, while other members of our group just went for straight Neon. However, because everyone was staying the night before I decided to make dinner for everyone and decided I was going to attempt Spaghetti Bolognese. It turned out really well, it's not the classic version but it was pretty damn tasty. I made the sauce and let it simmer for a good 2 hours and the flavors developed really nicely.

Bolognese Sauce:

1/2 cup of pancetta
1 onion, finely chopped
2-3 large carrots, pealed, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pork sausages (removed of their casings) or some sort of ground pork with seasonings
1/2 - 3/4 cup of white wine
1 dash vodka (optional)
2 cans of tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/4 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp chili powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper (bout a tsp of each)
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
Fresh basil and parsley chopped for garnish

Brown pancetta in a deep pot with a little bit of olive oil on medium heat till crispy.
Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and start to sweat the onion, carrot and garlic in the rendered oil from the pancetta, you may have to add a little bit more oil at this point. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, fennel, chili powder and red pepper flakes. Let onions cook till translucent. Pull the vegetables out with a slotted spoon.
Brown the pork sausage and break up into small pieces with the back of your spoon. Once the pork is browned, add back the vegetables and pancetta and stir to combine. Pour in the wine and vodka to deglaze the pan and scrape the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add in the tomato paste, the tomato sauce, broth, and bay leaves.
Let the sauce simmer on low for at least an hour to let the flavors develop. After an hour taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Right before you're about to combine the sauce with the pasta, add the cream and turn off the heat.
Boil pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti) in very salty water till al dente. In a frying pan, add the pasta sauce and when the pasta is ready combine the pasta in the pan with a 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Let pasta finish cooking in pasta sauce. Garnish with fresh herbs (basil, parsley and even mint will be delicious) and some Parmesan cheese. ENJOY!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Curry Marinated Shrimp

I had a BBQ last week with some friends and neighbors. We had a fantastic combination of young and old, neighbors and out of towners, new friends and new boyfriends, it was a great time, ICE included. I made sliders and this amazing marinated Shrimp with Coconut Milk and Curry Paste (I used Red Curry Paste but have tried it with Green as well and it tastes just as good). If you're ok with pealing the shrimp after it cooks with messy fingers I recommend you cook the shrimp with the peals on, the flavor is much stronger, but messier.

Coconut Curry Marinated Shrimp:
1 pound of large shrimp
1 can of light coconut milk (TJ's has a great one)
1/2 stick of lemongrass (optional)
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
1 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 handful of cilantro
1 scallion, chopped
zest AND juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp red curry paste
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp fish sauce (found in any Asian grocery store)
1 tbsp canola oil

Combine all ingredients in a zip lock bag and let marinate for 30 minutes to an hour (don't let sit longer than an hour or the shrimp will start to cook from the acid in the lime).

Place shrimp on a hot grill for a few minutes on each side, they will start to curl up when they are done cooking. Serve immediately with chopped cilantro and scallions.

Birthday Fajitas

So my boyfriends birthday was awhile ago, but I promised him that I'd make him dinner and his favorite dessert, Carrot Cake. When it finally came time to pay out my birthday labor, he craved Fajitas. I created this marinade from many a trials but it has a nice combination of sweet, spicy and savory. I use flank steak because it cooks/grills up very quickly and maintains it's flavor and moisture extremely easily. Marinate the meat for at least an hour to really infuse the beef with the spices if you can.

Fajita Marinade:
1 flank steak
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 an onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped
1 handful of cilantro
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ancho chili powder (found in random stores/Mexican food specialty stores)
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 - 2 limes
2 tbsp tequila
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp canola oil

Combing all ingredients in a zip lock bag and massage meat. Let marinate for at least an hour, if you can hold off...wait a day, the flavor develops greatly.

Preheat a grill to high, sear on one side for 7 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for 5-10 minutes, till medium rare. Let meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing in thin pieces against the grain. Serve with sauteed peppers and onions, cheese, avocado, cilantro, scallions and salsa on a whole wheat tortilla.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Crusted Pork Tenderloin

I created this recipe for an easy dinner at home after I had had a long and exhausting day. You rub the pork loin with Dijon mustard and then coat it with a seasoned breadcrumb mixture. It's very easy to make and can feed a family or have leftovers for yourself for the next few days. Not only is pork tenderloin healthy with very little fat, there is no oil or butter used when cooking the loin. Serve it with a salad or a green vegetable and you'll feel like you've had a very complete and satisfying meal.

Crusted Pork Tenderloin:
1 pork tenderloin, about a foot long
3 heaping tbsp of Dijon mustard
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt + a pinch of salt
1/2 tsp gnd black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 F. Pat dry the tenderloin. Combine all the dry ingredients and mix together, then rub the entire loin with the Dijon mustard and make sure there is a nice coat of mustard all over the pork. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the entire loin and make sure all sides are covered with the breadcrumbs. Put the loin on a lined cookie tray and place in oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the pork is medium to medium well, or 145-155 F when testing with a meat thermometer.*

*Side note here, don't leave the thermometer in the oven unless you know it can handle staying in the oven. I left my precious meat thermometer in the oven for about 5 minutes and it sadly melted.*

Take out pork when done, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and let rest for a minimum of 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute throughout the meat. Slice 1 inch pieces of the tenderloin and serve with a salad or some sort of green vegetable.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Biryani Rice

My roommate's girlfriend is a vegetarian and has exposed me to a completely different idea of cooking. She has great recipes and let me tweak her recipe for her Biryani rice. She says that you can use any type of nut and dried fruit to go with this dish, use whatever you have, it makes it quite delicious. *You can also use leftover takeout rice to make this dish as well.

Biryani Rice:
1 cup of brown basmati rice
1/2 raisins

Cook the brown rice to instructions, about 45 minutes. When the rice is about 40 mins into cooking, throw the raisins in to let them plump up for the last 5 minutes.

1 tbsp peanut oil or any light oil
1 medium onion, sliced into inch slices
1 cup of shredded carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp graded ginger
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground saffron
S + P
1 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 orange
1/4 cup of water or so
3/4 cup of toasted cashews
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup of cubed tofu (optional)

Saute carrots and onion in the oil over medium heat till the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and ginger and stir to combine. Add all of the spices, including the S + P and toast the spices. Add the rice, raisins, soy and orange juice. Saute and make sure all is combined and mixed well. If the mixture is try, add some water and let cook on low for about 10 minutes or so. At the very last minute, add the cashews and scallions and serve with yogurt sauce on the side, below. You can also add cubed tofu into this dish to add some protein.

Yogurt Sauce:
1/4 cup of non-fat greek style yogurt
juice of 1/2 meyer lemon + some zest
4 mint leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
S + P

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saffron Chicken

I was home for the weekend visiting my parents and putting in my family "bondage" time, we decided on Saffron Chicken for dinner because, well, it's tasty and easy. Throw everything in a pot, stick it in the oven and it serves a ton of people.

Saffron Chicken

Pieces of 1 whole chicken - cut the breast and thighs into large bite-size pieces (bout 2 inch cubes)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tiny pinch of red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 heaping tsp. of tomato paste
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 cups of chicken broth
1 very large pinch of saffron threads (don't be shy here)
1 cup of rice

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large Dutch oven, heat up olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper the chicken pieces and toss to make sure they're coated (you can throw on a bit of EVOO if you wish). Brown the pieces of chicken, you may need to do 2 batches so you don't over crowd the pot. Pull out browned pieces of chicken and put aside. Add some more EVOO and saute the pepper, onion and garlic. S + P, add the bay, red pepper flakes, and continue to saute till the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the can of chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste and the chicken back into the pot, stir to combine. Add the chicken broth and the saffron threads, stir to combine. Then add the rice and mix around, add some more S+P if necessary. Then put the lid on and stick in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Once done, let sit for about 10-15 minutes to set with the lid on.

Goes really well with a salad of arugula, avocado, slivered almonds, shaved radish, segmented orange and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


A few weeks ago I had a college roommate come visit for New Years. We made a fabulous feast and created an appetizer to munch on while the meal was being cooked. Here it is:

Crostini with Avocado, Pine Nuts, and Honey:

1/4 a baguette sliced at an angle, 1/2 inch thick
1 avocado, sliced 1/8 inch thick (if you half the avocado, hit the base of the knife into the pit, twist and the pit should pop right out. Then take a smaller knife and slice the avocado while still in the shell. Use a large spoon and spoon out the sliced avocado.)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove
Clover Honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay the sliced baguette on a baking sheet and drizzle with some EVOO, S & P. Toast for 5ish minutes, till the bread is a little crispy but not hard. Once out of the oven, rub with the garlic clove while the bread is still warm. Then place a few slices (you may need to cut the long slices of the avocado in half to fit onto the baguette) of the avocado on a piece of the toasted bread, then sprinkle a few pine nuts on the top. Top with a little salt and pepper and drizzle with a touch (just a touch) of honey. They're ready to eat!


Saturday, January 16, 2010


My good friend and I ventured to the Marina this past week to try Tacolicious. Tacolicious was once Laiola, a Catalan Tapas restaurant that received a great face lift and transformed into a taco and small bite Mexican restaurant. I talked to the owner Joe Hargrave who explained to me that he took a trip to Mexico and had a revelation. There are very few places in San Francisco that will combine sustainability and Mexican food, more specifically tacos, that taste god damn delicious. They say:

"...I should state that Tacolicious was founded on the principals of sustainability. A large portion of our produce comes from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market where we launched our stand last summer. We use natural meats. Our tortillas may not be organic but they're made daily at our very own local La Palma."

I stumbled upon Tacolicious before they even had the restaurant up and running. I found them at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market on Thursdays for lunch next to Namu, the Korean BBQ place. They had an extremely long line and couldn't help but wonder how tasty are these tacos because that is one long ass line!! I tried their carnitas, beer and a shot chicken, and potato and chorizo tacos. All of them were extremely tasty and very authentic. It reminded me of the taco expeditions I would take in high school with my friends to try and locate the right taco truck in Redwood City. Recently, I then found out that Tacolicious wasn't just going to be a Thursday lunch time adventure, they were opening a restaurant in the Marina completely devoted to tacos, this was something that I definitely had to try.

My friend and I sat down at the counter/bar around 7ish closer to the back of the restaurant. There was maybe one or two tables open and a few bar spaces left. (FYI by the time we left at 8:30, the entire bar was 3 rows deep of people) I ordered a Margarita Picante. This was delicious, it wasn't too sweet and had a nice heat that lingered in the back of your throat for a few seconds after you sipped it. We munched on chips and the most addicting salsa ever, we suggested to the owner, Joe that he should bottle this and sell it because he would make so much money. It had great flavor of tomatoes and spices but wasn't overpoweringly hot.

We then started to examine the menu. They had tasty looking appetizers and we were recommended the Tuna Tostada by our waitress so we jumped on board. We also were looking at the tacos, they offer 4 tacos for $12, perfect for my friend and I to share. I ordered the fish taco with red cabbage slaw and a lemony white sauce, the classic fish taco that I love! I also ordered the chorizo and potato taco which I have had before and knew I would love. My friend also ordered the chorizo and potato and the carnitas tacos.

When our tuna tostada came, we were in love. It was a slightly spicy/sweet white mayo sauce with chili powder atop a crispy circular tostada. Sitting on top was ahi tuna and a slice of avocado with crispy leek. This was sooo tasty, one problem: there were only 3!! My friend and I quickly devoured one each and looked at each other, who's getting this third? I reach for a knife to cut the perfectly plated piece of ahi goodness and I get a tap on the shoulder, it's Joe, the owner who says "Wait, I'll send out another one." I was in love!! No more than 60 seconds pass and we have another Tuna Tostada in hand and ready for consumption. I couldn't believe how nice he was and so attentive to what we were eating and when we were eating it.

Then our tacos arrive. I loved the fish taco, it was perfectly crispy and the slaw added a nice fresh crunch. The chorizo and potato taco was as perfect as it ever was and the carnitas are super tender and juicy. The tacos also come with three different salsas. They have a tomatillo and guacamole creamy mild salsa. Second, is a habanero salsa which is a great yellow color and is hot as hell. I loved it, the better burning sensation after consumption, the better. Finally the third is a chipotle salsa that has a dark red color which has some smoke to it. I loved putting the habanero and the tomatillo guacamole on the chorizo and potato taco.

Overall, the chips were great, drinks were strong, and food was delicious, all leaving me wanting more. I emailed Joe to get the recipe for the Margarita Picante, here it is:

Margarita Picante:

2 oz. tequila
1 oz. triple sec
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. Simple Syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled for a few minutes, then cooled)
1 tsp. red chili vinegar

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain over an ice filled, pink peppercorn rim coated tumbler.

Chili Vinegar:
1 cup of rice wine vinegar
a few of various dried chilies (ancho, de arbol, chipotles, etc.)

Bring both the vinegar and chilies to a boil for 10 minutes. Cover and let cool, strain through a fine sieve. Pepper infused vinegar stores indefinitely.

Pink Peppercorn Salt:
1/4 cup pink peppercorns
1/4 cup vanilla sugar (store 1 vanilla bean in a cup of sugar for a few weeks)
1/4 cup kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder and buzz into a fine powder, or mash in a mortar and pestle.

Please visit Tacolicious:
2031 Chestnut Street., @ Fillmore; Marina


I first found this recipe in an Hors d'oeuvres Cookbook and made my own twist to it. You can serve it with many different things, chicken, fish or as an appetizer with toasted pieces of baguette. You put everything into a food processor and it's done in a few minutes. Easy!

This is for a serving for 6-8 people, if you have a smaller party, or just want some for yourself, just cut the recipe in half.

1 Jar of Roasted Piquillo Peppers (TJ's has a great one)
1/2 cup of toasted unsalted slivered almonds
4 garlic cloves
1 big hand bunch of Italian parsley
1 big hand bunch of cilantro
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. sherry vinegar
3 scallions, chopped
hand full of cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes in oil (TJ's has a great one as well)
1/2 cup chopped stale bread
1 tsp - 1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of cumin
pinch of dried chipotle powder
S + P to taste
1/2 - 3/4 c. EVOO

Process everything but the olive oil in a food processor and process till mixed, maybe a minute or two. Then stream in the olive oil while the processor is running and watch to see a mixture turn into that of a pesto. That's it! I love to put it on a toasted piece of bread, or serve it with some fish or chicken. Very tasty and super easy!! You can store this in the fridge for a few weeks with a layer of olive oil on top of it, or a few months in the freezer.