Getting Versatile with Padron Peppers!

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One of the best new discoveries I’ve made is Padron Peppers. They are so delicious and simple to prepare, it’s easy to get stuck serving them the same way over and over. However, the fickle side of me just won’t allow that, so I had to start getting versatile with padron peppers!

Padron Peppers are small peppers (about 5 cm long), with a color ranging from bright green to yellowish green. Their peculiarity lies on the fact that, while their taste is usually mild, a minority (10-25%) are particularly hot. Whether a given pepper ends up being hot or mild depends on the amount of water and sunlight it receives during its growth.

Here are four different ways to enjoy your Padron’s:

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 Blistered Padron Peppers, sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with salt & and garnished with lemon zest. Simple and delish!

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 Goat Cheese Stuffed Padrons wrapped in Pancetta, stuffed and roasted with no need for seeding or peeling; these little tapas sized tastes are yummy and a delight, served as a passed appetizer.

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 Padron Pepper, Avocado & Cheese Omelet. I kept the Spanish influence on this and made my omelette with Manchego cheese topped with a drizzle of Chipotle Hot Sauce.

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 Fritter Roulette. A recipe from one of my favorite chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi. They are fritters made with shredded butternut squash and fresh corn kernels that have padron peppers fried right into them for a unique appearance and a fantastic taste!

I have posted the detailed recipes for each of these variations. Just select the title and it will link you to their individual recipes to view and/or print.

Send me a note… I’d love to know what you do with your Padron Peppers!

(Printable recipes can be found in my recipe index)

The Cutest, Most Scrumptious Apple Dessert Ever!

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I found this recipe in a post on Facebook and couldn’t resist trying it. Much to my delight, the finished product turned out even better than how yummy and mouth-watering it looked in the photo. It is quite easy, although a bit time consuming – but worth the effort. I will also show you how to make it as a one  dish dessert, removing all of the effort and keeping all of the deliciousness!

These little wonders are called Caramel Apple Crisp Bites and they are as adorable as they are compact; easily offered as an individual serving for a large group. However, make sure that you make extra, because although one is sufficient to satisfy a sweet tooth, your guests will most surely be coming back for more.

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CARAMEL APPLE CRISP BITES

Ingredients

  • 2 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used store bought in a can.  I find these to work the best)
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples (I used granny smith)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Caramel topping (store bought!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease pan with non-stick butter spray
  3. Melt butter
  4. In a medium size bowl mix graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and butter with a spoon
  5. Evenly distribute mixture to the 24 mini muffin cups. Press along the bottom and sides to make a “cup”
  6. Bake for 5 minutes and let cool completely
  7. Chop the apples into little pieces – I used a food processor.  Don’t puree, just finely chop
  8. Mix apples, sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl
  9. Bake in a baking dish for 15 minutes on 375 degrees, until apples are slightly softened (No need to grease the dish as the apples will create enough liquid to keep it from sticking)
  10. Scoop a teaspoon or so of the apple mix and place on top of the graham cracker crust cups (while still in the muffin pan)
  11. Sprinkle any extra graham cracker on top of the apples (I had some left over!)
  12. Bake for 5 minutes on 350°
  13. Let cool completely
  14. Use a knife to loosen from pan and they should pop right out
  15. Drizzle with caramel topping
  16. Enjoy

Notes

  1. I used my Apple-Peeler-Corer and it worked wonderfully to prep the apples. I cut the slices in half and then chopped them the rest of the way in the food processor.
  2. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled. If you are making a lot, borrow some extra muffin tins as the waiting time for cooking and cooling will keep you there too long if you don’t have extra.
  3. Make sure you cool them before you try to remove them from the muffin cups or they will stick. Once cooled, they easily pop out!

Variation

  1. To make this into a single pan dessert, eliminate the bottom crust. Prepare your apples. (I just cored and cut up unpeeled Gala apples into large chunks and did not pre-cook them.) Spray a 9×11 pan with butter spray, add the apple chunks and cover with the graham cracker mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until browned and crisp on top and the apples are fork tender. If the top starts browning too much before the apples are fully cooked, cover lightly with foil to finish cooking.
  2. Drizzle caramel sauce on top and serve warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

(Printable recipe can be found in the recipe index under Desserts)

 

Homemade Hummus; so easy and delicious!

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I am a huge fan of HUMMUS and pretty much like almost any flavor and kind, but nothing compares to making it yourself. It’s really amazing how quick and simple it is. Honestly, homemade hummus is so easy and delicious to make, there’s no reason not to try it yourself!

The Flavor Choice is Yours!

The best part about homemade hummus is that you can flavor it any way you like. Try a little roasted garlic, sun dried tomato & olive, or jalapeño cilantro. The choices are endless. One of my favorite recipes for hummus is with roasted red peppers, so that is what I did this time. Roasted Red Pepper and Green Onion Hummus.

Homemade Roasted Red Peppers

Homemade Roasted Red Peppers

Dried or Canned – It’s all Good!

I happened to have some dried chickpeas in the fridge so I soaked them overnight and cooked them to use in my hummus. I often make hummus with canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) as well, so not to worry if you don’t have the dried version. It will still be substantially better than anything you would buy in the store ready-made!

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ROASTED RED PEPPER AND GREEN ONION HUMMUS

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (results in 3 cups cooked chickpeas) OR 2-15 oz cans chickpeas (this will give you a little more than 3 cups but you can use some as garnish or save for a salad)
  • 3 medium red bell peppers
  • 3 green onions, sliced white and light green parts only
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil plus extra for serving and basting peppers
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

Directions

  1. Soak 1 cup dry chickpeas overnight in a bowl of water about 2 inches above the top of the beans. Rinse and place in a medium saucepan with fresh water again about 2 inches above the beans. Heat to simmer and cook for about an hour or until the beans are tender. Add more water if needed as it cooks down. Alternately use canned chickpeas and drain & rinse well, reserving the extra above 3 cups for garnish or another use.
  2. Coat the outside of the peppers lightly in olive oil and grill or broil until blackened on all sides. Immediately place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and then remove the skin with your hands. Discard skin, stems, seeds and membranes and cut peppers into large pieces.
  3. Place the tahini and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the garlic, green onions, 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, cumin and cayenne and process for 30 seconds, scrape sides and bottom with spatula and process for another 30 seconds or until mixed well.  Add 1/2 of the chickpeas and blend for 1 minute, scraping as needed. Add the other half of the chickpeas and blend for another minute. Add the red peppers and blend until smooth. Salt to taste and season with extra lemon juice or oil as needed for the correct flavor and consistency.
  4. Place the hummus in a storage container. I like to cover the top of the hummus in plastic wrap so that it touches the surface. This keeps it from drying and looking discolored on the edges. Cover with the container top and refrigerate until cool.
  5. When ready to serve, heat about 1 Tbsp oil in a small fry pan. Add pine nuts and cook until just barely turning golden. Immediately remove from heat and pour into a ramekin to cool. Top the hummus with the oil coated pine nuts, drizzling extra pine nut oil on top. Serve with vegetables and pita chips.

Note:  Hummus can also be used as a sandwich spread, on burgers or other grilled meat sandwiches, in deviled eggs, with pasta, spread on bagels, as a sauce for kabobs and countless other ways!

What other ways can you think of to use hummus? I’d love to hear from you!

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Appetizers)

 

Simple Strategies for Pairing Wine with Vegetables

Simple Strategies for Pairing Wine with Vegetables


 
 
 
Click To EnlargePhoto: 

Vegetable Gardener Newsletter
by Andrea Immer
February 1998
from issue #13
White with fish, red with meat, says the rule of thumb. But what to drink with vegetables? Cookbooks and wine merchants are ready sources for wine suggestions with meat, fish, and fowl. But the garden path is surely a road less traveled when it comes to wine advice. Yet could there be two more natural tablemates than wine and vegetables? Both are products of a very magical conversion—soil and sun into flavor.

As a restaurant sommelier, and as a home cook and herb gardener, I have worked both sides of the wine and food pairing equation. Sometimes the point is to highlight a special wine. Other times the garden or greenmarket presents some absolutely perfect seasonal produce to which the wine should pay tribute.

Always the goal is to transform the earth’s gifts into a pleasurable dining experience. With that in mind, I’ve discovered some simple tools to which I return time and again.

Wine-loving vegetables

Certain vegetables and herbs virtually always complement wines; some can transform single dishes and even whole meals into a showcase for a special wine. The major wine-loving vegetables are shallots, leeks, corn, peas, fava beans,and mushrooms; and among herbs and adjuncts, thyme, sesame oil, and gently cooked garlic.

One of my favorite pairings is a creamy sweet-corn polenta with a full-bodied, oak-aged California Chardonnay or French white Burgundy, also 100% Chardonnay. With their blockbuster fruit and oaky richness, such wines are absolutely seductive. Those same virtues, however, can simply clobber many dishes, vegetable or otherwise. But enter the creamy, cheese-enriched polenta—a textural mate for the wine’s expansive, mouth-filling style—and you’ve got a match made in heaven. For subtler, less oaky Chardonnays and Burgundies (try French Chablis and Pouilly-Fuissé, or New York, Washington State, and Oregon Chardonnays), substituting fresh goat cheese for some of the Parmigiano Reggiano in the recipe adds a tangy note that synchronizes beautifully with the more elegant wine style. Either way, this pairing is a perfect showcase for both the wine and the sweet corn.

But now shuffle the cast of characters. In a supporting role to other produce, wine-loving vegetables and seasonings can be integrated as a fantastic bridge to wine. Because wine is a staple of meals in my home, the following ingredients and techniques have become integral to my cooking. For the garden-centered cook who loves wine, they are a boon.

Shallots—I admit it: I am a shallot junky. Their ability to convert virtually any vegetable into a friend of wine is nearly fool proof. Culinarily, there is nothing novel about this approach; shallots are a cornerstone of many classic French dishes, all geared to complement wine. Applying this trick to vegetables, given their flavor diversity, is a watershed for the garden cook-cum-wine lover.

To instantly link vegetables to wine, gently sauté minced shallots to softness in butter or olive oil. Then, simply toss in your favorite fresh vegetables—either raw if they are quick-cooking or, for denser ones, after pre-cooking. The shallots form a subtle, earthy-sweet bridge to wines, white and red. A little salt amplifies the effect. An added touch is to deglaze the shallot pan with a bit of the wine you’ll be serving. Here are a few of my favorite applications for the shallot trick. 

With lighter-bodied, soft red wines like Italian Barbera and Chianti, Spanish Rioja, or American Pinot Noir, toss fresh tomatoes briefly in the shallot oil and serve as a salad; or cook them a bit longer and use as a sauce for pasta. In early summer, a pick-and-choose sauté of baby turnips, squashes, green beans, fava beans, peas, and mushrooms works well. In spring or fall, make your sauté of greens such as chard, bok choy, broccoli raab, or collards.

With crisp, dry whites like Sauvignon and Fumé Blanc, Mâcon, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling, I like a southwestern-style sauté of sweet corn, red and green peppers; or fresh spinach; or carrots with cumin or tarragon.

Garlic, thyme, and olive oil—This trio is another great bridge. I learned this technique from our Windows on the World culinary team. Simply start by sautéing minced garlic and thyme in olive oil over low heat, taking care not to burn the garlic. You can then incorporate vegetables in a variety of ways.

Vegetable sautés, especially of leafy and bitter greens, tomatoes, squashes, eggplants, and mushrooms seem perfect for summer. With their Mediterranean/ Provençal flavors, these sautés pair beautifully with both reds and whites from Provence and the Côtes du Rhône region, red Spanish Rioja, and Chianti.

In cooler weather, baked, braised, or puréed root vegetables and winter squashes take to this method nicely. Turnips, leeks, both white and sweet potatoes, carrots, fennel, beets of any color, pumpkin, and the whole range of winter squashes all work well. Toss chunks of the vegetables in the oil mixture, then bake or braise them until tender. The resulting flavors are earthy, satisfying, and very wine friendly. For an elegant presentation, moisten the vegetables after cooking with a little vegetable stock and purée (try cauliflower this way, too). Or add a little more stock and some milk or cream for a gorgeous, velvety bisque (stunning with squashes, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes). My favorite wines with the root vegetables are earthy, medium-bodied reds such as Pinot Noir, Chianti, and Spanish Rioja. The squashes and sweet potatoes make a beautiful match with aromatic whites such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Gewürztraminer.

Wine-friendly cooking techniques
Here’s another approach to bridging vegetables to wine. “Reductive” cooking, which reduces the water content of the vegetable and caramelizes the natural sugars, can enhance the wine compatibility of vegetables that may be tough to pair.

Grilling brings out a smoky sweetness and can tame a tendency to bitterness in vegetables such as peppers, squash, eggplant, and fennel. Tomatoes are often thought to be tough wine partners due to their acidity. But oven-drying them, or cooking them into a confit (peel and seed, then slow-cook in a pan with a little butter until the excess moisture has evaporated) concentrates their flavor and also coaxes out their natural sweetness, making them a great partner to a much broader range of wine styles.

Versatile wines

There are some wines whose style (medium body, little to no oak, mouthwatering acidity) and structure (dry and crisp) make it hard to go wrong pairing them with vegetables.

Among whites, try Alsatian dry Rieslings and Pinot Blancs. Italian dry whites like Pinot Grigio, Orvieto from Umbria, Soave from Veneto, or Ver­nac­cia from Tuscany are good.

Dry rosés (distinct from off-dry blush wines) are extremely versatile with all food, and often inexpensive. Try France’s Provence and Côtes du Rhône rosés; Italian rosés such as Regaleali Rosato from Sicily; Spanish rosés from Navarra such as Chivite, Vega Sindoa, and Las Campanas; and American dry rosés like Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare or McDowell Grenache Rosé.

For reds, choose Chianti and Barbera from Italy; Spanish Rioja and Navarra wines labeled crianza, meaning they have minimal oak aging; or French Beaujolais.

Beware the wine zappers.
 Every day I am given food menus to which I am asked to pair wines. I used to brace myself for the worst—asparagus and artichokes are infamous among wine lovers for their chemical component that clashes with most wines, leaving an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. Herbs, greens, pungent and bitter vegetables, and tomatoes also present challenges.

But I have found that the versatile wines listed above at least hold their own with these foods. The dry rosés and Italian whites in particular seem to have a zesty bite that meets these aggressively flavored vegetables head on.

A final word on pairing wine and vegetables. It is not really necessary to “think” about a wine and food pairing. In the wine-drinking world, most people choose a wine out of habit and what’s handy, and that works just fine. But the fun of a thoughtful wine and food pairing comes into play when you have something special on your hands, something whose virtues you want to showcase and savor. And that is the essence of the garden cook’s mission—to capture flavor at its peak. Why stop short of the beverage? By its very nature, no other liquid flatters the earth’s bounty better than wine.

Great combinations
Herb or vegetable and wine matches you can rely on:

• Chardonnay or French white Burgundy and sweet corn; mushrooms.
• Red Zinfandel and basil, especially as pesto.
• Pinot Noir or French red Burgundy and beets.
• Cabernet Sauvignon or red Bordeaux and rosemary.
• Sauvignon Blanc or Fumé Blanc and dill, cucumber, celery.
• Dry rosés with salads of herbs and baby lettuces or pungent greens like radicchio, arugula, and endive.


Roasted and Caramelized with a Remarkable Aioli

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I love the padron peppers and brussels sprouts that I receive in my CSA box and think that they are little jewels from heaven. They are both very well suited for either pan frying or roasting with the basic olive oil, salt and pepper mixture and are absolutely delicious eaten just like that. No muss, no fuss. However, the fickle side of me always wants to find something different along with a way to elevate the ingredients to new heights. So what did I do this time? I roasted and caramelized them and served them with a remarkable aioli!

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I had been in San Francisco and visited one of my favorite sites; The Ferry Building. There, you will find a cadre of incredible vendors selling the most delicious and wonderful wares. One of my favorites there is Far West Fungi. It is a merchant who sells a wonderful selection of fresh and dried mushrooms along with other related items. It was there that I purchased my head of black garlic. Black garlic is sweet meets savory, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones. It has a tender, almost jelly-like texture with a melt-in-your-mouth consistency similar to a soft dried fruit. This was the second recipe that I made using it (the other to be posted next – Heirloom Tomato & Summer Squash Tart.) However, not to worry, because if you aren’t planning a trip to San Francisco soon, you can get almost the same result from roasting a regular head of garlic which will create a sweet and savory flavor with a similar soft dried fruit consistency.

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OVEN ROASTED PADRON PEPPERS & BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH BLACK GARLIC AIOLI

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. padron peppers, stems removed
  • 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and cut in halves
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cloves black garlic
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Coat the peppers and brussels sprouts with 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Carefully stir the vegetables and continue to roast for an additional 10-15 minutes or until they start to caramelize and turn crisp on the edges. 
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the aioli. Mash the cloves of garlic with a dash of Kosher salt. Whisk in the egg yolk and lemon juice until you can see black flecks but no chunks of garlic visible. Slowly add the Extra Virgin olive oil and whisk to emulsify. Season with additional lemon juice and salt/pepper to your taste.
  4. Serve the aioli with the roasted vegetables.

Note:  If you don’t have black garlic, follow these instructions to roast a head of regular garlic and use 4 of the cloves, reserving the others for another recipe or to enjoy slathered on a piece of toast with a light sprinkling of flake salt!

roasted garlic

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Peel off the loose skin
  3. Cut off the top of the head so the garlic is exposed on top
  4. Make sure all cloves are exposed by using a paring knife to tip off the top of any hidden cloves
  5. Place a piece of tin foil underneath and drizzle about 1 tsp of olive oil over all of the exposed cloves
  6. Wrap the head in the foil and place on an oven safe dish
  7. Roast in the oven for 35-55 minutes until the cloves are golden in color
  8. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and gently squeeze the cloves out of each skin

(Printable recipe can be found in the recipe index under Side Dishes)

 

 

My weeknight concoction – Chicken Pot Pie with Polenta

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For tonights dinner, I searched the refrigerator and found some ears of fresh corn and a half roasted chicken so I decided to create a Chicken Pot Pie with Polenta. I used the vegetables I had on hand, carrots, green onion and sweet baby peppers along with the leftover chicken and some frozen peas to make a base for the pie. Instead of a crust I decided on a topping, so I removed the corn from the cobs and simmered the kernels in water to create polenta. 

All in all, it turned out to be a pretty simple process and didn’t take more than a half hour to put together.  Then a few minutes under the broiler and viola!

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CHICKEN POT PIE WITH POLENTA

Serves 2 (can be easily doubled or tripled)

Ingredients

  • 3 ears corn, shucked and cleaned
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese (save 1 tbsp to sprinkle before broiling)
  • 3 Tbsp butter, separated
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked roast chicken
  • 2 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 green onions, sliced white and light green parts only
  • 4 baby sweet peppers chopped (or 1/2 bell pepper – any color)
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Slice the kernels off the corn cobs and place in a medium saucepan with just enough water to cover. Simmer for 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked kernels to food processor and add just enough of the cooking liquid to puree to a somewhat smooth texture.  Reserve the rest of the cooking liquid until you are sure you won’t need any more and return the puree to the pan. Cook over medium heat until you reach a somewhat thick consistency adding cooking liquid as needed. Add 1 1/2 Tbsp butter, the gruyere cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium fry pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook onion, carrots and peppers over medium heat until tender. You may need to cover the pan for a bit to get the carrots to tenderize. In another small saucepan, melt the remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp butter and whisk in the four. Cook for a minute or two until blended and lightly golden. Add chicken broth, whisking to blend and cook until somewhat thickened. Add cream, tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add shredded chicken and mix. Add cooked vegetables and frozen peas and cook until heated through stirring occasionally.
  3. IMG_4146Pour chicken mixture into small individual casseroles or ramekins. Top with polenta and sprinkle the reserved Tbsp gruyere on top and broil for several minutes until lightly toasted on top. The polenta will remain moist with the texture of a puree, not like a crust. The flavors marry well together with the chicken/vegetable cream sauce to create a tasty dish.

I used 3 smaller casserole dishes as we had a guest for dinner. This recipe makes two entree size portions or three – four tapas size portions.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under main entrees)

Don’t Miss Out on the Riviera Restaurant and Lounge in Calabasas!

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Unless you know about this place, you may not expect to find such a great restaurant hidden in the middle of a strip mall just a few doors down from Babies”R”Us. It is well known to locals and a great place to go, so make sure you don’t miss out on the Riviera Restaurant and Lounge in Calabasas.  It is located at 23683 Calabasas Road across from the Calabasas Commons.

It can be a bit loud in the room where the live music is playing and people are 2 deep at the bar, but not to worry. If you are looking for a quieter experience, just move on down to one of their dining rooms and you’ll be able to turn down the volume a few notches. This time we were very fortunate as we had not made reservations but called on the way and were seated at a perfectly wonderful table in a corner of the front dining room. Being a Saturday night, we felt that the stars must have been aligned as we were able to be seated immediately in the perfect spot and they were busy!

The service is great with recommendations and help where needed. The food is terrific and things are served with perfect timing and grace. No one is rushing you out and you aren’t sitting waiting for something to get you started. 

The food was great as always.  Here’s a glance at what we had to eat:

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Slow Braised Short Rib over Creamy Polenta, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Baby Lentil Soup with Winter Vegetables.

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Miso Marinated Chilean Seabass with green beans, braised red cabbage and a lemongrass coconut ginger sauce, Flank Steak served with mashed potatoes, onion strings and red wine reduction, and Imported Dover Sole Mueniere filleted table side with seasonal vegetables and lemon butter.

Solidly good food. So put it on your list of restaurants to check out when you’re in the Calabasas area. You’re sure to have an enjoyable meal!

Thank you Giada for the Best Green Bean recipe!

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For a yummy way to serve green beans, I have to thank Giada De Laurentiis for the best green bean recipe! It is for Sauteed Green Beans with Tomatoes and Basil served with Parmesan Crisps. Quick and easy to prepare and makes a fantastic side dish. I made a few changes to utilize some of the fresh vegetables that I had on hand from my CSA box and it came out fantastic!

I substituted green onions for the shallots and fresh heirloom tomatoes for a can of diced tomatoes. I peeled the tomatoes by blanching them in a pot of hot water for about a minute and kept all of the juice I got when I chopped them, to use in the sauce. I think the fresh tomato really brought a great flavor to the dish, however you can easily use canned tomatoes when they are not in season. I would opt for San Marzano tomatoes for a better flavor and chop them myself instead of using canned tomatoes that are already diced. These small changes can really make a difference in the quality of your dish!

Sauteed Green Beans with Tomatoes

Sauteed Green Beans with Tomatoes

SAUTEED GREEN BEANS WITH TOMATOES AND BASIL SERVED WITH PARMESAN CRISPS
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts only
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large or 3 medium fresh tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped retaining all juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (or you can use chicken broth)
  • 2 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling water until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool in an ice bath. (bowl of ice water) Drain well; set aside.
  2. Melt the butter and oil in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the beans and cook until the juices evaporate and the beans are almost tender, stirring often, up to 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and basil. Simmer 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
  3. Parmesan Crisps: Yield 8-10 crisps
    1. Preheat oven to 400°
    2. Pour a heaping Tbsp of Parmesan onto a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet and lightly pat down. Repeat with remaining cheese, spacing the spoonfuls about 1/2-inch apart.
    3. Bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Cool.
    4. Peel off the sheet and serve with the beans.

 (Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Side Dishes)

 

Tired of Cabbage Salad? Make this unbelievable Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup!

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I was inspired by my beautiful CSA Napa cabbage and the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashana. I was yearning for the tastes and aromas of holiday traditions in my past and decided to work on a recipe for Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup. Who knew that this process would result in the most heavenly, divine soup that it did! So if you’re tired of cabbage salad, I urge you to try this unbelievable Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup!

Aside from cabbage, the most important ingredient for me was some caramelized, tender, falling off the bone beef short ribs. Next was a medley of fresh vegetables and of course something to create both the sweet and sour sensation. Most of the cooking time is hands off, as it needs to simmer for over two hours to gain the depth of flavor and tenderness required to make it exceptional. Another must is to make it the day before serving it so it can mellow and become the harmonious bowl of flavor that will make you coming back for more!

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SWEET & SOUR CABBAGE SOUP

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. beef short ribs
  • 2  tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 4 medium carrots sliced on the diagonal 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 lb. ripe tomatoes, cored and cut in wedges
  • 1 15-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes cut in wedges, including sauce in can
  • 1 large head Napa cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 quart water
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle the meat on all sides with 1/2 tsp salt. Place in heavy 8 qt. pot. Place over medium-high heat and sear until browned on all sides, turning often. Remove to a plate.
  2. Add the oil, onion and carrots to the same pan. Saute 5 minutes until onions are wilted, but not browned.
  3. Add the fresh and canned tomatoes and their sauce and stir, cooking another 2-3 minutes until the tomato juices start bubbling.
  4. Add half the cabbage and top with the short ribs. Place the remaining cabbage on top of the meat. Add stock, water, 1 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and sugars. Cover and bring to a boil. (If you cannot fit it all in your pot, cover and cook the cabbage and meat for a couple of minutes to shrink it in the pot and then add the liquids and seasonings)
  5. Lower heat and simmer gently for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is so tender it practically falls apart when prodded with a fork.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning, adjusting with salt, pepper, sugar or lemon juice, as desired.
  7. Remove the beef ribs (and possibly their bones if they have separated in the soup). Shred the meat into large pieces and add back into the soup, discarding the bones.
  8. Let the soup cool to room temperature and then transfer to the refrigerator overnight. Reheat on medium heat and serve with a loaf of Challah or other bread for dipping.

Note

  • Leftovers can be frozen for up to 3 months.

(Printable recipe can be found in my recipe index under Soups)

Steeped in history, Fog City – SF get’s Reinvented

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The Fog City Diner which began in 1985 has been reinvented into the new Fog City restaurant serving modern, eclectic San Franciscan cuisine. The site of 1300 Battery Street was a docking point for ships during the Gold Rush Era feeding hungry sailors before their departure to serve in WWII. In 1985 it became the Fog City Diner which some compared to Westernized dim sum; it was the State Bird Provisions of the 80s. Now owned by renowned Chef Bruce Hill, it offers modern eclectic San Franciscan cuisine, with an emphasis on wood-fired meats, fresh seafood and desserts that include house-made custard and French crullers. After visiting there myself, I would say – this one is a winner! 

The long bar in the center of the restaurant is open and inviting and there are tables lining both sides of the bar. It’s a fun energetic atmosphere whose style is clearly San Franciscan. The service was friendly and hip; the exact recipe for a good time. We arrived a bit early for our reservation so we garnered a couple seats at the bar for drinks and an appetizer. Their drink menu contains a nice list of interesting cocktails so I went for The Vodka Fix – made with Square One Basil Vodka, Carpano Bianco, lemon, honey and Proseco. I thoroughly enjoyed it as it was the perfect amount of sweet and sour with a nice smooth flavor.

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The appetizer we started with was their Local Oysters on the Half Shell served with oak barrel aged hot sauce and shallot mignonette. The delicate, fresh oysters were yummy and the sauces complimented them without overpowering, so the flavor of the oyster was dominant as it should be.

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At this point, we were enjoying our repartee with the bartender and were perfectly comfortable at the bar, so we decided to continue our dining experience there rather than moving to a table. Our next selection was their Broccoli di Cicco which was broccolini that was flame grilled with lemon, garum (fish sauce), Fiordolio olive oil (from Umbria on the Tuscan border of Italy) and garlic chips. One might think that broccolini by itself is without reward, however, I can tell you that this was simply delicious! Tender crisp coated in a scent of lemon and a perfectly aromatic olive oil with a blast of garlic every so often. Yum!

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Next up was the Short Rib Kimchi Tacos. They were fantastic! The meat was tender and succulent pairing wonderfully with the mild kimchi topped with sesame seed. An inventive departure from a standard taco and supremely done!

IMG_3665Last up; an impressive display of Wood Oven Clams garnished with sweet corn, shishito peppers, cherry tomatoes, scallions and sake butter. Served with toasted crostini’s to soak up the delicious broth. The hint of smoked wood in this dish added to it’s elegance. For the first time in several restaurant experiences, my shellfish was all open and available to procure! Kudo’s to the chef in ensuring a perfect specimen for an amazing entree.

Combining the experience with the food, I would say that this might have ranked my top choice for this trip to San Francisco. If I were local, it would definitely become a regular spot for me. Living three hours away is a bit of a hindrance, but you can be assured that I will return!