Roasted Vegetables with Pesto

March 21, 2013
Thumbnail image for Roasted Vegetables with Pesto

After my recent rant about pesto, I thought it only fair to share a new dish using home made pesto sauce. This recipe gets bonus point for being easy. It’s something you can throw in the oven to cook, then grill a piece of fish or chicken while it’s cooking and you have a meal in about half an hour.

These vegetables are something I’ve been making at least once a week for the past couple of months. To give credit where it is due, the dish was inspired by my mother, who offered up some vegetables out of her refrigerator before going out of town for a week. She suggested I roast the eggplant and tomatoes together with the mushrooms. I added a few other ingredients and served it during a weekend away with friends. Wouldn’t you know, it was a hit? The roasted mushrooms seemed to be …

Read the full article →

How to Make Pesto (plus a bit of a rant)

March 19, 2013
Thumbnail image for How to Make Pesto (plus a bit of a rant)

A few years ago on a trip to Rome, I met an American woman living in Milan who is married to an Italian man. She mentioned how her mother in law is so strict about the provenance of her food that she would never even consider eating pasta al pesto outside her home region of Genoa. At the time, I simultaneously scoffed at the idea and sat in awe of the level of conviction it takes to adhere to one’s beliefs regarding food in that manner.

Because I typically grow about a dozen basil plants every summer, I make batches of pesto and freeze them to eat throughout the year. What would her mother in law would think of my pesto? It’s not traditional in its execution, but the ingredients are (most of the time). She would probably be horrified that I use a food processor instead of mortar …

Read the full article →

Slow Cooked Chicken with Cannellini Beans, Fennel and Tomato

March 7, 2013
Thumbnail image for Slow Cooked Chicken with Cannellini Beans, Fennel and Tomato

Slow cooker, crock pot, Dutch oven; call it what you will, but all of these vessels utilize the same cooking process; one that is low and slow and yields the ultimate in slow cooking satisfaction; a house filled with tantalizing smells, and a warm, hearty meal which is easy to cook and serve. We may be into Spring weather now, but there are still plenty of chilly days that have me yearning for something simmering. Unfamiliar with slow cooking? Below is a bit of a primer along with a recipe to get you started.

Is there a difference between a crock pot and slow cooker?
The answer is yes and no.
Both have independent electric heating elements and lids to keep the heat in, but “crock pots” heat from all sides and some “slow cookers” heat from the bottom only, often via a separate heating plate. Today, the term “…

Read the full article →

Early Spring Salad with Fennel, Watercress, Pomegranate, and Hazelnut Vinaigrette

February 25, 2013
Thumbnail image for Early Spring Salad with Fennel, Watercress, Pomegranate, and Hazelnut Vinaigrette

In Southern California, fennel grows wild along the highway, a product of some long ago wayward seed blown by the wind or dropped by a bird. The frothy fronds with their wispy yellow flowers grow as tall as a tree alongside the stretch of coastline going through Camp Pendleton between Los Angeles and San Diego. I’ve often considered pulling over to see what they’d be like if I tried to dig one up, but I have yet to brave the highway traffic to do so.

Thought to have been brought to California by the Spanish hundreds of years ago, today wild fennel is considered by many to be an invasive plant. But never fear, if you’d like to grow it in your garden, you can buy non-invasive varieties. Easier still, just buy it in the market. While it’s available almost year round, the peak fennel season is autumn through early …

Read the full article →

Oysters part 4- How to Make Oysters Rockefeller

February 19, 2013
Thumbnail image for Oysters part 4- How to Make Oysters Rockefeller

There is over a century of history surrounding the recipe for Oysters Rockefeller and as many recipes out there as there are varieties of oyster. Created in 1899 at Antoine’s restaurant in New Orleans, the dish was a version of one originally made for snails. Legend has it that when it was first eaten, people said it was “rich enough for a Rockefeller,” hence the name.  One thing is for sure, the recipe is a closely guarded secret and while people have tried to duplicate it, it’s never been published, not even in their Antoine’s cookbook.

There’s been much debate over the years as to the ingredients, but experts agree the most traditional versions are made with a mix of herbs and watercress, not spinach which has become more common. Bacon, Parmesan cheese, cream, and even hollandaise sauce, are frequent additions, but not original. This version is as faithful as …

Read the full article →

Oysters Part 3- Sauces and Garnishes

February 13, 2013
Thumbnail image for Oysters Part 3- Sauces and Garnishes

So now that we’ve talked about the history of oysters, the different types and where they come from, and you’ve seen how to buy, clean and open raw oysters, how about making some sauces to go with them? Below are some of the most traditional ways to serve oysters. My favorite is mignonette sauce, or just completely unadorned. How do you like your oysters?

Mignonette Sauce

Mignonette Sauce

Mignonette is the typical French accoutrement for oysters. Order oysters or a fruits de mer platter in any Parisian bistro and what you’ll get is a clean taste of the sea with a wedge of lemon and this piquant sauce.

4 oz red wine vinegar
2 ea shallots, peeled and minced
1 Tbsp freshly cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and allow the shallots to marinate at least 1 hour.

It’s all about the shallots.
The shallots add a savory component …

Read the full article →