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Blue Nose, Blue Blood

This time it was Blue Nose. It was always something, but it was always something special. There are places to buy things and there are places where it’s an adventure to buy things. One of those places is Osprey Seafood in the town of Napa. 

We brought home some fabulous Bluenose bass from New Zealand this time, but whatever we bring home from there is always delicious. Why? Why are some merchants so much better than others? The fish at Osprey is more-or-less the same price as Whole Foods just down the road, but it is always, always better. Certainly it is more expensive than the seafood offerings of Safeway, but food that is inedible is never cheap enough.

The “why” is simple. They care at Osprey. They care in a way you just don’t see behind the counter at a chain, even at the level of a Whole Foods. At the likes of Safeway it’s not an issue of excitement as they have little interest or knowledge in what they’re selling. 

It’s always amazing at Osprey as, in spite of the fact they deal with fish day in and day out, they’re excited about today’s special arrivals. It’s that ability to be excited that makes them go out of their way to have something to be excited about. 

What’s happened to that excitement in the wine industry? Cynical buyers, loaded with attitude, but with closed minds who have already decided what wines are the best by the time they’re twenty-five. Their counterpoints are ego driven, “lifestyle” wineries more interested in points than quality, which pump out over-oaked, high octane, insanely priced fruit bombs.  All of the above driven by someone else’s pointed opinion instead of their own. True enough there’s a lot to be not excited about.

However, once a month, I get a package that reminds me that there still exists, in the increasingly corporate wine world, merchants filled with passion, excitement and energy that is all their own. That package is the monthly shipment I get from the Kermit Lynch Wine Club, one of the privileges of living in California.

Each package is a voyage of discovery. Not that I do not know some of the wines that arrive, but each shipment is an inside look at the mind of the Kermit Lynch company. The energy and commitment in that collective mind is clear in the quality and distinctive personality of each bottle that arrives. 

For about $40 a month you get two bottles of interesting wine. While that should not be an unusual thing, it is, and the arrival of each package makes me think about the wines we make. As always, there is no greater compliment you can give a wine than it makes you think. Any wine that costs more than $10 a bottle should at the very least make you notice you are drinking it. 

Kermit Lynch, Osprey and merchants like them are the blue bloods, the royalty of the merchant class. While it is said you get what you pay for, it is more than that. There are many places to get above average, but there are few places where you can travel together as excited explorers sharing the energy that discovery brings to those that share in the adventure together. 

You’ll never get this experience at Cost Plus, Trader Joe’s, Costco or any chain operation. You’ll also not save any money by shopping at these chains unless you insist on buying overpriced, industrial wines that are only pretenders to the throne. Yes, if you want to buy Silver Oak these are your places. However, the Osprey’s and Kermit Lynch’s of the world are the ones offering true value. 

There’s a sucker born every minute. Don’t be a sucker. Buying smart means not buying hype. It also means not buying on price alone. Smart buyers buy based on price and the energy and effort the merchant puts into bringing them the very best.

A Kermit Lynch selection with an Osprey selection makes not only for a wonderful dinner, but money well spent.

Julie and Julia

While Julie and Julia may be more a puff pastry than a plat principal, it is a light pleasure that no foodie should deprive themselves of indulging in. The main beauty of the movie is that people are actually cooking in it -- thinking about cooking, dreaming about cooking, really cooking and most of all, really eating and eating with gusto. That's a good feeling in an era where people are more likely to spend time watching competitive cooking than actually cooking themselves. I left the movie feeling good and, best of all, hungry. A wonderful feeling that television shows like Iron Chef and its ilk do not leave me with. If the one good thing that comes out of this movie is that a few people actually pick up those copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, that are sitting, clean as they day they were purchased, on their bookshelves and actually cook something then it's a great movie.

Never trust someone who calls themselves a foodie whose cookbooks are not stained and worn.


Super Bowl, Super Wine, Super Food

superbowl_mainpic Having been on the run quite a bit lately, Super Bowl Sunday seemed to be a good day to stay home, get organized and pamper myself with a bit of food and wine. I decided to spend the day with one wine. That way I could really taste the difference time (both for the wine and me) and different foods would make on my perception of the wine.

Sunday morning in McMinnville Oregon is a quiet time. As I am a early riser, it is very quiet. The lone bookstore is the only outlet for The New York Times, which is a pleasure I indulge myself in for several hours every Sunday morning I can, but they don’t open until ten, which is a long time after I awake. However, that’s not a problem as they deliver the stack of papers on the sidewalk in front of the store early and all I do is slide my $5 bill though the crack in the door and slip my Times out of the stack. Then I make a quick stop at the wonderful Red Fox Bakery for an espresso (Illy), a decadently buttery pastry and a warm baguette to go. Then fortified by caffeine, sugar and butter I head for the grocery store to see what’s fresh.

Today’s plunder included a Oregon black truffle the size of a big cherry tomato, some organic eggs from a local farm and some naturally raised local lamb leg steaks from Anderson Ranches. Some wonderful things to pair with the bottle of the day: 2006 Morgon, Terres Dorées, Jean Paul Brun. Anyone who knows anything about wine knows that when you pull the cork on a bottle of Brun you are in for something special.

After three hours with my nose in newspapers and my ears on the Sunday morning political talk shows, a hunger pang sent me to the kitchen. I decided to braise the lamb, making a pasta sauce for a weekday dinner in the process. This is the recipe for the lamb:

  • 2 lamb leg steaks
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 - 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes ( I recommend Muir Glen)
  • Flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare the garlic, onion, carrots, celery and rosemary. Liberally salt and pepper the lamb steaks and thoroughly coat with the flour. Heat the olive oil in a deep sauté pan (use a pan with a cover) at medium high and when the oil is hot, brown the lamb steaks on both sides and remove to a plate. Reduce heat add all the chopped vegetables and herbs and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes. Add back the lamb and pour in the wine. Return the wine to a boil for one minute then add the canned tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for three hours, or until the meat is falling away from the bone. Reduce the sauce if too thin. Serve with a big scoop of polenta or mashed potatoes and a generous helping of sauce over each steak. Reserve remaining sauce for pasta on another night. Serves two.

That done for dinner and the Super Bowl, I addressed the hunger at hand and made lunch. The eggs, truffle and a bit of brie was all I needed to make a special omelet:

  • 3 eggs (please try to find fresh eggs with yokes that are more red/orange than yellow)
  • Several ounces ripe brie with the skin removed
  • 1 black truffle
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Whip the eggs with a fork, salt and pepper to taste. Shave the truffle into the thinnest possible pieces. In a non-stick saucepan melt two tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, when melted add the truffle slices and cook for one minute and then remove to a plate. Add the remaining butter to the pan and add the eggs, pushing back from the edges and letting the uncooked eggs run under the set eggs. While still runny, add the truffles and brie to one half of the eggs then fold the other half over the top. Let cook briefly, not letting the omelet brown too much and slide onto a plate as soon as the brie starts to melt. You want the eggs to be barely cooked, not dry. Serve immediately with a tossed salad. Serves one.

Now for the wine of the day, 2006 Morgon, Terres Dorées, Jean-Paul Brun. This is a brilliant wine, bright and fresh, but not at all simple as it is compellingly complex from start to finish. At lunch it was stunning with the truffle omelette with an elegant character that did not overwhelm the eggs, but with touches of earthy complexity under the bright fruit that brought our the best in the truffle. The truffle also brought out the best in the wine. This was a great Sunday lunch. Some six hours later, with my weekend domestic duties behind me and the rich smell of the braised lamb filling the house, at the start of the third quarter I returned to the table and the bottle of Brun Morgon. Needless to say, this was a very different food and wine combination, but the Morgon did not miss a beat. While the omelet brought out the delicacy of the wine, the lamb seemed to bring out the power. Such is the beauty of fine Beaujolais. With the lamb the backbone of refined acidity combined with the richness of the fruit flavors to elevate the whole meal. What was most interesting about the Morgon is that it did not change a bit in the course of being open the whole day. While the food changed the experience of the wine, as I could tell when I tasted it on its own before both meals, the air had not changed the wine at all. This stability means that this wine will grow and expand for years to come.

The wines of Jean-Paul Brun remain undefeated, unlike the Patriots.

North-Westrey Cuisine

copperriversalmon.jpgIt was a beautifully warm July night with a gorgeous sunset expanding over the horizon. A fillet of very fresh, wild-caught Copper River Salmon was looking for a good partner and out of my cellar came a 2004 Westrey Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valleyfor the occasion.

Such a full-flavored fish needs little additional fanfare, so I just sprinkled the fillet with fresh Savory from my garden along with a spattering of red sea salt and fresh ground pepper and quickly pan-roasted it to medium-rare. Then served it with a baby arugula salad from a local farm stand and some crusty, warm bread from the famous (in McMinnville anyway) Red Fox Bakery.

The Westrey seemed a bit harsh at first, but soon opened into a silky complexity that brought alive the palate in a perfect counterpoint to the dense, rich salmon. A spot-on example of the wired, electric richness that makes for great Oregon pinot noir this 04 Westrey Reserve is not only delicious, but a bargain at under $30. The initial tightness of this pinot underscores the necessity of decanting young Oregon pinot noir. A short exposure to oxygen will give you a wine with more complexity and balance. The reductive style of winemaking required to make outstanding pinot noir means that decanting young wines should be a standard practice. Let’s face it, with the entry level price for good pinot noir at $20 and well over $30 for real complexity, to not take the time to decant these wines if you’re drinking them young is a waste of good money and good wine.

As the last bite of this sumptuous salmon crossed my lips, the Westrey just hit its stride and a good stride it was as this pinot noir will challenge far more expensive wines.  Winemakers AmyWesselman and David Autrey (get the name of the wine?) continue to not only produce great values, but great pinot noir in Oregon. 

Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Olive Oil

Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Olive Oil
For this recipe, be sure to wash the kale well (or spinach, or chard) - dirt and grit hides in the leaves. I don’t like floppy leafiness in my potatoes, so I chop the kale quite finely. If you stir the kale in too much it can lend a slight green cast to your potatoes, so i just barely stir it in right before serving. Also, on the potato front - feel free to use unpeeled potatoes if you like something a bit more rustic (and nutritious). I picked up some yellow-fleshed German Butterball potatoes at the market last week and they added the visual illusion that the mashed potatoes were packed with butter. Didn’t miss the real thing a bit. 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks sea salt 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped 1/2+ cup warm milk or cream freshly ground black pepper 5 scallions, white and tender green parts, chopped 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish (opt) fried shallots, for garnish (optional)Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, a big pinch of salt, and saute just until tender - about a minute. Set aside.Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Slowly stir in the milk a few big splashes at a time. You are after a thick, creamy texture, so if your potatoes are on the dry side keep adding milk until the texture is right. Season with salt and pepper.Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir. Transfer to a serving bowl, make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with the scallions, Parmesan cheese, and shallots.Serves 6.

Mashed Potatoes with Kale and Olive Oil Recipe - 101 Cookbooks

 

 

Mimmo’s Bruschetta

Mimmo’s Bruschetta

-Small, very ripe (preferably homegrown) tomatoes, sliced

-1 or 2 large cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and one small end sliced off.

-The best extra virgin olive oil you can find — preferably a big, rich oil from the south.

-Thin loaves of crusty French bread (you want slices close to bite size)

-Fresh oregano finely chopped

-Fresh basil cut or torn into small pieces

-Freshly ground black pepper

-Sea salt

Cut the bread into thin slices and lightly toast. Rub the toast with the raw garlic to taste (a latex glove makes this process a breeze, and a fresh one at that). Arrange on a large platter and lightly salt and pepper each piece of bread and top with a slice of tomato. Liberally drizzle all with extra virgin olive oil. Lightly sprinkle with oregano and top each with pieces of basil.

Chanterelle Bread Pudding

Here in wine country we usually think of grapes when it comes to harvest season, but in Oregon it also means something else – mushrooms. Oregon is rich is earthy flavored things from pinot noir, truffles to mushrooms. Among the incredibly wide range of mushrooms available here, the chanterelle is among the finest and most sought after. This bread pudding works wonderfully as a main course or side dish in a more dramatic meal. A natural for pinot noir, but look for a wine driven more by earth than fruit.

The first time I made this it was a bit dry, so don’t be afraid to add more liquid if necessary. I thought it was better the second time around when it was more moist. 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 cups cleaned and sliced chanterelle mushrooms

1 medium diced onion

6 stalks sliced celery (thin but not too thin)

5 cloves garlic – minced

5 cups cubed, crusty rustic bread a day or two old

2 tablespoons minced fresh sage

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 cups cream

1 cup milk

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil in large sauté pan and sauté gently for two minutes; add celery and sauté for two more minutes. Add garlic and toss for one minute and remove from heat.

In a large bowl, bread cubes, chopped herbs, salt and pepper then mix in the mushroom mixture and set aside.

Butter a baking dish.

Wisk the cream, milk, eggs and egg yolks in a bowl. Pour the egg mixture into the bread mixture and mix gently, but completely.  Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and push down gently.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes, but do not overcook so as not to dry out the egg custard.

Serves 6 as a main course or 12 as a side dish.

Rôti de Porc au Chou Rouge Epicé, Pommes et Pruneaux

Rôti de Porc au Chou Rouge Epicé, Pommes et Pruneaux

1 tablespoon olive oil

One 800-gram (1 3/4 pounds) boneless center cut pork roast (in French, rôti de porc dans le filet)

Fine sea salt

1 small head red cabbage, quartered, cored, and sliced thinly

2 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut in eighths

8 prunes, pitted and halved

4 whole garlic cloves (with their papery skin still on)

Whole coriander seeds

French four-spice mix (ground nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves)

1/2 cup red wine (I used what was left of an excellent Fiefs Vendéens Gamay, “Gammes d’Eté” 2004 by Domaine Saint-Nicolas)

Freshly ground pepper

Serves 4.

Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the roast and sear for a few minutes, flipping the meat regularly, until browned all over. Season with salt and set aside.Lower the heat to medium. Add the cabbage, apples, prunes, and garlic to the pot, stir to coat, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the cabbage starts to soften. Season with whole coriander seeds, French four-spice (light-handedly), and salt. Stir to combine.Form a little nest in the middle of the vegetables and place the roast there. Pour the wine over the meat and vegetables, cover, lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about an hour, stirring from time to time to make sure the vegetables don’t burn at the bottom, until the meat is cooked through (I just cut a slice to check when I think it’s done, but if you have a meat thermometer, it should read 70°C / 160°F).Remove the lid, turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the juices have reduced by half. Taste the vegetables, adjust the seasoning, sprinkle with pepper, and serve with strong mustard on the side.

 

From: Chocolate & Zucchini

 

 

Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Dough

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Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana Pizza Dough

Heidi notes: Peter’s recipe says the olive (or vegetable oil is optional). I use it every time - always olive oil, not vegetable oil. I love the moisture and suppleness it adds to the dough, and it makes your hands soft too.

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil (optional)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting

1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment), If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn’t come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a tea- spoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 to 55F.

2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment). Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you are comfortable shaping large pizzas), You can dip the scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it, Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again. Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, Mist the dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a food-grade plastic bag.

3. Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days. (Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.)

4. On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Let rest for 2 hours.

5. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800F (most home ovens will go only to 500 to 550F, but some will go higher). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.

6. Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss as shown on page 208. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn’t as effective as the toss method.

7. When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other top- pings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy. The American “kitchen sink” approach is counterproductive, as it makes the crust more difficult to bake. A few, usually no more than 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese is sufficient.

8. Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower self before the next round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.

9. Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.

Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.

 http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/print/001199.html

Ultimate Food Porn Downloads

If you have any doubts how the Internet is changing the cookbook publishing industry you only have to visit www.tastingmenu.com

allaboutapples2.jpgAt TastingMenu.com you will find two gorgeous ebooks featuring spectacular food photography and an in-depth look at two creative menus from two dynamic chefs.  While beautiful cookbooks are hardly a rarity, what makes these books stand out is the price. They are free downloads. All About Apples, a tasting menu from Scott Carsberg of Lampreia offers a creative menu including apples in each recipe. Such intriguing dishes as “Dungenss Crap wrapped in Red Delicious Apples” and “Cooked and Raw Zumi Apple with Red Prawn and Virgin Olive Oil Dressing” make  a trip to Seattle’s Lampreia Restaurant to sample some of Chef Carsberg’s food seem an absolute necessity.

The second ebook,  Autumn Omakase, a tasting menu from Tatsu Nishino of Nishino, presents an equallyautumnokase.jpg stunning menu based on Chef Nishino’s modern and very creative Japanese cuisine that he presents at his Seattle restaurant. Recipes are accompanied by equally delicious photographs featuring recipes such as “Seared Foie Gras, Maguro and Shitake Mushroom with Red Wine Soy Reduction” and “Hamachi with Balsamic Teriyaki.”

These wonderful free downloads offer a detailed look at the concepts of two chefs that you may have never discovered on the bookshelves of Barnes and Noble.  Beautiful and concise, this new type of publication offers cooks information that allows the home cook to take their technique to a new level and lets you save your money for food and wine.

Accidental Hedonist - Onion Relish

 

* 3 Tablespoon butter
* 2 yellow onions, sliced
* 1 red onion, sliced
* 1/2 cup sweet marsala wine
* 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
* 2 teaspoons honey
* 3 bay leaves
* 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
* 1/2 teaspoons ground corriander
* 1/4 teaspoons ground allspice
* salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook until softened, but not browned.

In a small bowl, mix together the wine, vinegar and honey. Add to the onions. Add the bay leaves, thyme, corriander, allspice, and salt and pepper.

Bring the the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The wine should be reduced to a thickened syrup.

 

From: 

Accidental Hedonist - Onion Relish.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

200 grams dried (or canned) chickpeas
1 eggplant
2 small ripe tomatoes, diced
4-6 spring onion, sliced
6-8 Tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large sprig of rosemary, chopped finely
a splash of fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sweet paprika

If you are cooking dried chickpeas, place them in a bowl and cover them with a few inches of water. Allow them to soak overnight or at least 8 hours. Cook them over a medium heat with the crushed garlic clove for an hour and a half or longer, until they are tender. (I soaked the chickpeas overnight and then put them in a crock pot in the morning to cook all day on low.) Once they are tender, drain them and allow them to cool.

Cut the eggplant in half and score it with a knife in a diamond pattern. Drizzle a little olive oil over the eggplant and bake it at 200c for about 35 minutes, or until soft and tender. Let it cool while you begin assembling the rest of the salad, dicing tomatoes and slicing onions. Toss the tomatoes, onions, chickpeas and rosemary with the remaining olive oil. Cut the eggplant into bite-sized pieces and toss the salad again. Ideally, you should allow it to sit in a refrigerator for a few hours to develop flavours. Before serving, add the lemon juice and paprika and taste for salt, pepper and sour. You might want to add another glug of olive oil too, especially if you are using a really good quality one.

Too Many Chefs: Mediterranean Chickpea Salad.

Spring Salmon

Wild Salmon with Blueberry Marinade
1 pound of wild salmon

Marinade
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
Generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper

Place salmon on baking sheet.

Add all marinade ingredients to small saucepan and heat over medium until blueberries have popped. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour mixture into blender and puree.

Spread a thin layer of the marinade over the salmon - you don’t want to mask the flavor of the salmon just enhance it.

Bake at 500 F for about 10 - 15 minutes depending on how thick the fillet and how well done you prefer your fish. I prefer that the salmon seem a little uncooked in the very center.

Slice the salmon into serving pieces and dollop with a bit of the remaining marinade.

Fresh Wild Salmon Painting the Salmon Salmon with Blueberry Marinade

From the:

Culinary Fool: Spring Salmon.

Napa Cabbage and Grape Slaw

* 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
* 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1 teaspoon sesame oil
* 1 teaspoon grated ginger
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
* 2 teaspoons hot water
* 1 lb. Napa Cabbage, finely shredded
* 1 red onion, sliced
* 1 carrot, shredded
* 2 cups seedless green grapes, halved
* 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

In a medium glass mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, sesame oils, ginger, sugar, pepper and water. Cover with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

In a large glass bowl, mix together the cabbage, onion, carrot, and grapes. Pour over the soy sauce mixture and toss.

When you serve the slaw, top with sesame seeds.

Serves 4-6

From:

Accidental Hedonist - Napa Cabbage and Grape Slaw.

Potato Pancake Halibut and Arugula Salad

Potato Pancake Halibut and Arugula Salad

serves 4
1 shallot chopped
2 tsp coarse salt
1 tbsp cracked pepper
1 tsp chopped dried thyme
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
Four 6 oz halibut fillets
Potato Pancakes:
2 medium potatoes shredded
1 slightly beaten eggs
1 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup onion chopped
Mix all ingredients together, pan fry in oil 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Makes 4 nice potato pancakes.
Arugula Salad:
1 bunch arugula
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine shallot, salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, bay leaf and 1 tbsp olive oil. Spread over fish and marinate for 30 minutes. To make salad, place arugula in a bowl. Whisk together vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss dressing with arugula. Place on four individual plates. Heat remaining olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add fish, skin side down. Sauté for 2 minutes, cover with lid, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 8 minutes longer or until fish is firm to the touch and white juices are beginning to appear. Remove skin and place fish on top of potato pancake and arugula salad on serving plates.

From:

Sara’s Kitchen.

Soffritto-Mirepoix-Sofrito

IMG_RagBolSoffrittoThrough the haze of jet-lagged sleep the aromas would wake me and lift my tired, but still hungry body to the lunch table. Normally we would arrive at the airport at 7 a.m. and then go straight to bed for a few hours sleep when we reached my in-laws house just northwest of Milano. As lunchtime approached a fragrance would slowly grow and expand throughout the house and before you know it my nose would set off the alarm clock in my stomach.

That fragrance was created by my father-in-law, Aldo, cooking his soffritto as he began to prepare for lunch. Soffritto is that simple combination of sautéed aromatic vegetables that is the basis of a seemingly endless list of Italian dishes. Everything from pasta sauces to ravioli filling to Brasato al Barolo has at its heart a fragrant and flavorful soffritto.
The basic soffritto is equal amounts of chopped celery, carrots and onions slowly cooked in butter or olive oil so they release their flavors and aromatics into the ingredients that are then added. The trick is the temperature of the pan: too cool and you just poach the vegetables in the oil — too hot and you start to caramelize the vegetables. In France they call it mirepoix and in Spain sofrito, but whatever you call this process of cooking aromatic vegetables in fat to create a foundation of flavors for a dish, it is a basic element of good cooking in every cuisine: both for amateurs and professionals.

The word soffritto is a conjugation of the Italian verb soffriggere, or to fry lightly, which is an accurate description. A good soffritto needs a little attention from the cook. A trip to the wine cellar while the vegetables are cooking can result in a burned soffritto. Expect to devote an attentive 10 to 15 minutes to cooking your vegetables. They do not need constant attention and stirring, but they do want a watchful eye. You will know you have it right by the mouthwatering aromas that fill your house.

Soffritto is about flavors. If you buy bland, old vegetables you will get a bland soffritto. Go out of your way to get the freshest most flavorful vegetables available. While carrots, onions and celery are the holy trinity of soffritto, there are as many variations as there are vegetables. Garlic often makes an appearance in southern Italian dishes. Some soffritti include pancetta or other meats in the preparation. In classic risotto recipes, onions stand alone as the soffritto. Remember soffritto is a technique and a concept in flavoring not a specific recipe. Try the recipes below and then get creative. Each serves six as a main course and eight to ten as a first course.

Spaghetti con Pomodori e Soffritto
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped.
2 large stalks celery with leaves, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1- 28 oz. can excellent quality crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. thick spaghetti (avoid very thin spaghetti)
Sea salt
Grana Padano or Parmignano Reggiano cheese for grating

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add celery, onions and carrots. Sauté the vegetables gently for about ten minutes until just before they began to brown, then add sugar and cook for one minute more. Add canned tomatoes and mix well. Cover and slowly simmer for thirty minutes stirring often. Salt to taste.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 heaping tablespoon of salt for every two quarts of water. When the water returns to a boil add the pasta and cook until not quite done.

Bring the heat under the pan with the sauce to high and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pan and gently mix the pasta and the sauce. Continue cooking until the pasta is done.

Serve immediately with grated cheese on the side.

Penne con Ragu alla Varano Borghi
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 sweet Italian sausage, skin removed and chopped coarsely
2 large carrots peeled and chopped
1 large onion chopped
2 large celery stalks with leaves, chopped
1- 28 oz. can excellent quality crushed tomatoes
a piece of lemon peel
1 bay leaf
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ lb. unsalted butter
1 cup red wine
1 cup beef or chicken broth
Grana Padano or Parmignano Reggiano cheese for grating
1 lb. penne pasta


Heat and melt the butter in a heavy tall-sided pan over medium heat and add celery, onions and carrots. Sauté the vegetables gently for about ten to fifteen minutes until just before they began to brown then add the ground sirloin and sausage, cook for several minutes more. Add canned tomatoes, wine, broth and mix well. Add bay leaf and lemon peel. Add salt and pepper to taste. Loosely cover and slowly simmer for thirty minutes, then cover tightly and simmer on very low heat for 3 hours stirring often.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 heaping tablespoon of salt for every two quarts of water. When the water returns to a boil add the pasta and cook until not quite done.

Bring the heat under the pan with the sauce to high and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the pan and gently mix the pasta and the sauce. Continue cooking until the pasta is done.

Serve immediately with the grated cheese on the side.