Recipe Review: Summer Salmon Cakes with Zucchini Fennel Slaw


Summer squash is in season now, and this recipe makes great use.  Zucchini is used two ways, in a lemony slaw with fennel and also in the light salmon cakes.  I double the recipe to make two-three servings.  Healthy and easy to do on a weeknight.

Link to recipe here.

Bon Appetit Recipe Review: Zucchini Cornbread


This recipe from the July 2011 issue of Bon Appetit puts together a delicious combination of summer zucchini and cornbread.  The shredded zucchini makes the bread really moist – that plus the butter.  The butter is browned first, lending a more complex nutty flavor.  The recipe calls for 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup of whole-wheat flour, but I used all-purpose flour only.  Slice the decorative zucchini slices paper-thin, otherwise the bread underneath may not set properly.  The bread tastes delicious, not too sweet with great cornbread flavor, and it tastes even better when it is lightly toasted and crunchy with a little melted butter on top.  This is an easy recipe and got great comments.

Link to recipe here.

Restaurant Review: Aperto


Aperto is a neighborhood Italian restaurant in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.  On the menu were Italian dishes that make use of seasonal ingredients: Early-Girl Tomato Soup, Bruschetta with Roasted Figs, Melted Teleme, Proscuitto, and Balsamic Reduction.  The pasta is all made in house, including ravioli, oriechetti, fettucini, and tagliolini.  The menu is divided into a traditional categories, antipasti, paste, secondi, contorni, dolce.

The meal started with some complimentary warm foccacia with olive oil.  For starters I had the Roasted Summer Stone Fruit Salad with Pork Belly, Frisee, Arugula, and Gorgonzola Vinaigrette.  The pork belly was roasted perfectly and was complemented by the acidity and sweetness of the roasted peaches and cherries.  The gorgonzola vinaigrette added another flavor note that worked well with the overall dish.

Continuing with the bacon theme, I had the Taglioni “Pepati”, Garlic, Smoked Bacon, Jalapeno, Roast Tomato Sauce, Arugula, Butter, Pecorino, and Grana Cheeses.  The spicy tomato sauce was quite good, sticking to the strands of taglioni.  The portion sizes were very generous, and the pasta was reasonably priced. I left feeling quite satisfied.  We were going to a dessert place afterwards but the cherry and almond clafouti and strawberry shortcake looked like interesting desserts.

The service staff was very welcoming and attentive.  The place is small and a bit noisy, but overall I would definitely recommend Aperto for its bold flavors and reasonable prices.

Recipe review: Melon with Basil-Lime Granita


Melon with Basil-Lime Granita is a perfect summer dessert, light and refreshing.  Blend a simple sugar syrup, basil, lime juice, and freeze, scraping every 30 minutes to get a slushy ice texture for the granita.  Then serve it on top of canteloupe and honeydew macerated in a little bit of sugar.  To go over the top, serve with a delicious, not-too-sweet cornmeal cookie.  A definite hit dessert.  Recipes from the dearly departed Gourmet magazine.

Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Torn Croutons, Burrata, Basil


Heirloom tomatoes are a magnificent summer treat and are highlighted in this salad by Suzanne Goin, chef of Luques in Los Angeles.  Sunday Supers at Luques is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks.  Chef Goin makes seasonal, delicious food.

Notes: burrata is a creamy cheese encased in a mozarella skin.  It bursts open when you cut into it.  Burrata is sold at Trader Joe’s.  You can substitute mozarella or ricotta. You can also substitute approximately 1 tsp of dried oregano for 1 Tbs fresh oregano

Adapted from  Sunday Suppers at Luques, by Suzanne Goin and Teri Gelber

Time: 30 minutes, Servings: 6

Heirloom Tomato Salad, Torn Croutons, Burrata, Basil

1/3 pound country white bread
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh oregano leaves
1/2 garlic clove
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
3 pounds heirloom tomatoes in assorted sizes, shapes and colors
1 tsp. fleur de sel
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound burrata cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 to 3 Tbs. small fresh basil leaves

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Cut the crust off the bread and tear the remaining loaf into 1-inch pieces. Using your hands, toss with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, squeezing the bread to help absorb the oil. Toast on a baking sheet, stirring a few times, until the croutons are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the oregano, garlic and 1/4 tsp. of the kosher salt to a paste. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the vinegars and the remaining 6 Tbs. olive oil.

Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut in half. Core the heirloom tomatoes. Cut half into wedges and set aside; slice the rest 1/4 inch thick. Season with the fleur de sel and pepper. Cut the burrata into 12 slices. Arrange the tomato slices and burrata on a large platter. Drizzle with a little vinaigrette.

Toss the heirloom wedges and cherry tomatoes gently in a large bowl with the shallots, the remaining 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, a pinch of pepper and 3 Tbs. of the vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning, adding more vinaigrette if desired. Add the croutons and gently toss.

Pile the salad in the center of the platter. Scatter with the basil leaves.

Recipe: Watermelon, Fennel, Black Olive, Feta Cheese Salad


Refreshing, easy summer salad adapted from Todd English, The Figs Table cookbook.  Great combination of salty and sweet.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups seeded watermelon chunks
  • 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced (about 2 cups) (use a Japanese mandolin or regular kitchen knife)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bunch green onions, green part only, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 ½ cups crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Put the watermelon, fennel, olives, red onion, green onion, and feta in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and toss well. Chop basil and add immediately before serving (to prevent browning).  Divide among salad plates and serve immediately.

NYTimes recipe review: Brown Butter Nectarine Cobbler/Cake


This recipe from The New York Times  makes a delicious hybrid fruit cobbler/cake.  The batter gives it more structure than a traditional cobbler, but there is a juicy fruit layer and crunchy topping like a cobbler.  What puts this recipe over the top is the browned butter that creates an amazing crispy/chewy crust.  Nutmeg makes the cake fragrant and adds another layer of flavor.  In my hands it takes a little longer to bake than suggested.  The juice from the nectarines makes the surrounding cake a little difficult to set.  Impress all your friends and family with this easy dish.

San Francisco Street Food Festival 2011 Pictures


Perfect day and delicious food at the 3rd annual San Francisco Street Food Festival to benefit La Cocina.

4505 Meats: Cheeseburger – perfectly seasoned meat on a brioche bun

Commonwealth: Grilled Lamb Cheeks and Watermelon Gazpacho

Chiefo’s Kitchen: Scotch Egg – hard-boiled egg, covered in spicy sausage, batter, deep-fried

Flour + Water: Porchetta sandwich – pork with spicy pork sausage, sweet onion jam on a great roll, watermelon and mint limeade

Maite Catering: Salpicon – refreshing fruit drink

No-knead bread tutorial


I have been a fan of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread for a while now and have streamlined the recipe a bit.  It requires, as the name suggests, no kneading, or frankly much work at all.  The method takes about 24 hours total, but the active time is only a few minutes.  So, with a little planning you get fresh bread with a crackling crust right out of your home oven.  I like to mix the ingredients Saturday afternoon/evening, let the dough rise until the next day and then bake on Sunday for lunch or dinner.  You need a covered baking vessel like a dutch oven that is safe to 450 degrees F.  The bread first bakes in the covered vessel, which traps steam that is important for the crust to develop.  Then it bakes a little longer uncovered and develops a magnificent crust and soft interior.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

3 cups bread flour

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp instant yeast

1.5 cups water

Method

Stir all dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl, then add water.  Mix until the dough comes together.

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours (overnight).  The dough is ready when little bubbles appear at the surface.

Wet hands and fold dough over a couple of times.  Let rise again for 1-2 hours in a bowl covered with plastic wrap.

During the second rise, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F, and preheat a covered baking vessel in the oven.

Place the dough in the hot baking vessel, close the lid, and bake for 30 minutes.  Then remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes or so until golden brown.

Set the bread on a wire rack to cool.

Strawberries and Nutella


Just thought of this combination this evening.  Obvious, but simple and delicious!

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