Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Birthday And Plenty To Be Thankful For - PLUS Moules Frites And Cake On The Equinox

Each and every year when my birthday rolls around I am reminded how little I actually celebrate this day since I feel that I spend so much time celebrating every other day. I instead use this day to reflect and to feel the gratitude that I am here and it is because of my parents that I am. 
When I feel that I have adequately reflected, usually by dinner time, then I get ready to chow down on what ever my favorite thing is at this point. For many years my chosen birthday dinner was sushi, other times its surf and turf so you can easily see a trend - seafood.
Today my choice, after cruising around the fish markets in Chinatown this morning, is mussels and shrimp or Moules Frites, as its more popularly known. I went ahead and added 3 pounds of large Lousiana shrimp because I can. I made some crispy fried potatoes and some hunks of fresh seeded Italian bread to sop up all the delicious, buttery, wine infused juices. If today is also your birthday I wish you a happy one. If today is not then I wish you a happy Equinox.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Salads

The beauty of summer is upon us and with this summer beauty brings summer bounty and this bounty can turn into a salad without you even knowing it.

I picked some fresh salad greens and some nasturtium blossoms and some squash blossoms along with some rattlesnake beans some heirloom tomatoes and a cucumber and I also picked a few sprigs of lemon basil and purple basil to round out the sweetness. At home I had some bacalao and some yucca and some batata (batata is a tropical sweet potato, it is white with a burgundy skin). Since the yucca and batata were already cooked and in the fridge I simply sliced it into little discs and squares and I browned it on both sides in some butter. I made some quick croutons with some fresh ciabatta bread that I picked up this morning by tossing the cubed bread in a little olive oil and some of my seasoned salt, when the yucca and batata were browned I removed them to a plate and tossed the croutons in to brown in the hot pan. I had made some cilantro oil a few days before so that was the base for my simple dressing with white vinegar.
This salad came together quickly since I had mostly everything already prepared. My son likes heaping portions so I made a pretty one for me and a piled a mile high version for him, his got some mozzarella cheese instead of the bacalao since he doesn't care for the saltiness of the fish so much - odd since he likes other salty fish. Make some summer salads - I can't wait to hear what you do.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lets have a Toast to Toast - Bruschetta is summer

What do you do when you want to kick up your summer platters? Make some fancy toast. Brushcetta is exactly the answer.
With summer bounty in full swing we have access to some beautiful produce and what better way to use it then on a piece of simple toast. Here I have some fresh mozzarella, still warm and soft, with some heirloom cherry tomatoes, roma tomatoes and grape tomatoes right off the vine tossed with a little herbed salt that I mix up and a splash of olive oil layered on a crispy and toasted on only one side slice of a bastone loaf that was rubbed with fresh garlic then drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil then its flecked with a little chiffonade of green and purple basil and finished with some slivers of radish and some nasturtium petals and if you want drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on it before serving. 

The Kamado Smoker and Grill (cookbook review)

If you are looking for a cookbook that takes you from soup to nuts explaining things that both the novice and the seasoned outdoor cook can appreciate then this is the book for you. This book is filled with recipes that everyone can appreciate.
Tips, everyone wants tips and tricks and you will find them numbered and with a nice large banner so you know where they are. Don't know what reverse searing is? You will find the answer in this book.
While the book is loaded with pictures and step by step visual instructions I do think there could have been a few full page images of some of these delicious dishes. All in all this is a great cookbook and you don't necessarily have to have a Kamado Smoker to benefit from all the good advice as these tips and techniques have cross over to any backyard grill set up that you may have. Go out an pick up a copy.

I received a free copy of this book to review and secondly the author is one of my colleagues as a Char-Broil AllStar.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Calabacitas By Any Other Name Is Squash - A Dish Of My Youth

When I was a kid growing up in New Mexico you couldn't get me to eat squash if it was candy coated, dipped in chocolate and disguised as a super hero but you could always get me to eat Calabacitas. You see I didn't know what calabacitas was but I did know that I loved it and I did know that I hated squash. I wouldn't even taste squash if it was offered to me. I grew up in a family that spoke more spanish than english but we spoke english at home since my parents wanted us to grow up that way and squash was one of those english words that I could not possibly put in my mouth. Squash - thats what I did to bugs, thats what happened to toads that didn't make it across the road, squash was an absolutely gross word. Calabacitas, on the other hand had a tasty ring to it, calabacitas had cheese. Well to make a long story short you can imagine my surprise when I saw one of my aunts making calabacitas and she said "and now we add the squash" - the WHAT - I thought - no, don't ruin it but she did it anyway and I saw what she was putting in and it was zucchini - now I am completely confused. What the heck is going on here? It wasn't until I asked what does Calabacita mean that I learned it was SQUASH. I had been eating squash all along and loving it. I still prefer to say Calabacita or Zucchini and if I do eat a squash I use its name like Kabocha and when people say "whats Kabocha" then I have to say "squash" but I use that word sparingly. Enjoy my Calabacitas, its my favorite thing to eat in the summer.
I like to cook everything separately giving each item its own special attention and color and caramelization before combining them together. Its not the traditional way to make it because it is a bit more fussy but thats the way I like to do it - fussy.
Once everything is ready I mix it and today I had some Lambs Quarters, a delicious wild green, so it went into the skillet with my peeled and roasted chiles that I chopped up.
I don't always have fresh oregano but since its one of the herbs we have in abundance in the garden this year I will get to use it more often, what a treat, so a little fresh oregano that I chopped up, some melty cheese - I like muenster, and some warm corn tortillas and you are all set. If you want to add more cheese to your plate then do it because thats what I do.
All thats left to do now is try to get the right proportion of calabacitas to tortilla and just eat and eat until you balance it out- Calabacitas - its what squash wants to be.

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