Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Steamed Crabs With Garlic Aioli

I decided against the rib eye roast for my birthday dinner after I re-read this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, I'm Almost Always Hungry, by Lora Zarubin.  Right now is peak season for Dungeness Crab in the bay area so I would be a fool not to indulge in it (and its market prices).  Prep wise, this meal is a snap.  All you have to do is cook the crab and serve.  I did not clean and crack each one for my (12!) guests, I just gave them a tutorial at the the table and had them do it on their own.  While the crab is the star, the garlic aioli is close behind.  This requires a little arm work so be prepared to do it in shifts with a partner or switch arms back and forth for rest. 

    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
    • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
    • 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, for thinning
    • 6 2-to 2½-pound live whole Dungeness crabs
    • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

Make the aioli:
Place the garlic and salt in a mortar large enough to hold all the ingredients, and pound it to a smooth paste. Add the egg yolks and beat with the pestle until well combined.
Begin adding the oil, a few drops at a time, letting it run down the side of the mortar, beating continually until the mixture starts to thicken. The aioli mixture should begin to thicken immediately. Continue adding all the remaining oil slowly in a steady stream, always adding to the side of the mortar. If the ailoi becomes to thick to beat, add a few drops of Meyer lemon juice to thin it out. Then stir in the remaining Meyer lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prepare the crabs:
Wash the crabs under cold running water. Bring a large stockpot (at least 12 quarts) of water to a boil. Add the salt and 2 to 3 crabs. Return the water to a rapid boil, cover, and boil the crabs for 12 minutes. To test doneness, pull off a leg—the meat should be firm and white.
Using tongs, remove the crabs from the boiling water, and rinse under cold water. Bring the water back to a boil and cook the remaining crabs in batches.

To clean the crabs, remove the top shell and then the gills on either side of the body. Rinse under cold running water. Turn the crabs over and remove the triangular piece off the breast body. Cut the crabs in half and tear off the legs.

Place the crab pieces onto a large platter. If not serving immediately, cover the crab, and refrigerate. Serve chilled with the garlic aioli.

Tip for making aioli: Drip the oil from a teaspoon to begin the emulsion process to prevent the aioli from separating.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Thanksgiving Turkey!

A lot of work went into this little sucker including brining over night, an herb compote butter and lots and lots of basting.  Not bad for my first time!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bacon and Spinach Stuffed Rib-Eye Roast

It's my birthday next week and it just so happens to be the same day that the town of Sausalito is having their annual Christmas Light Boat Parade and fireworks.  We've decided to have 4 couples over for dinner and I think this has to be what I am going to make.  I found this recipe while I was flipping through the new December issue of Bon Appetit and my mouth started watering.  I've never made a rib-eye roast but there is no time like the present! 

Bacon and Spinach-Stuffed Rib-Eye Roast
  • 1 pound applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked (or three 10-oz. bags frozen, thawed) spinach, squeezed dry, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs made from day-old white bread
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, whisked to blend


  • 1 5-bone standing beef rib-eye roast (10–13 lb.), chine bone removed, fat trimmed to 1/4" thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh thyme



  • Pulse bacon several times in a food processor to coarsely chop. Scrape bacon into a large skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring often, until brown but not crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Pour off and reserve 2 Tbsp. bacon drippings for another use. Return pan to medium heat. Add celery, shallots, and garlic; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach and crème fraîche; cook, stirring occasionally, 2–3 minutes longer. Scrape mixture into a medium bowl.
  • Stir breadcrumbs, scallions, sage, thyme, and nutmeg into stuffing mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic and refrigerate, Stir in eggs. Spread stuffing out on a rimmed baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and chill until stuffing is firm, about 1 hour.


  • Let meat stand at room temperature for 4 hours.
  • Arrange a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 450°. Set a V-shaped rack inside a large roasting pan. Place roast on a work surface with bones standing straight up. Using a knife, cut along bones so only 1" of meat is attached at base of bones.
  • Season roast (including the bones) generously with salt and pepper, rub with oil, and sprinkle with thyme. Place roast, bones facing up, in prepared pan; wrap bone tips in foil to prevent burning.
  • Pull bones away from meat to create a 3–4"-wide pocket at the top. Lightly pack stuffing into pocket. Starting at one end, tie kitchen twine horizontally around bones to keep them in place and secure stuffing. Tie the roast vertically between each bone.
  • Roast beef for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue roasting for 3 hours–beginning to probe center of roast at the 2-hour mark–until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast registers 110°–115° for rare and 120°–125° for medium-rare.
  • Transfer roast to a carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Remove twine.
  • Carving option 1: Cut between ribs to make 5 large bone-in steaks to share.
  • Carving option 2: Spoon stuffing into a serving bowl. Slice off rib rack by cutting through strip of meat at base of bones. Slice between bones and transfer ribs to a platter. Place meat on a work surface; cut into 1/4–1/2"-thick slices. Transfer slices to platter with ribs and serve with small spoonfuls of stuffing on the side.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brooks' Sweet Onion Tart

I am cooking my very first Thanksgiving meal at my house this year - WOO FREAKING HOO!  This has been a dream so needless to say, I am pretty excited.  I really want to incorporate recipes and traditions from my family and this onion tart is one of them.  My aunt really goes all out on Thanksgiving and I will be serving up some of her best dishes from over the years but this tart has always been a staple.  It's actually from a local specialty store called Foodstuffs in the northern suburbs of Chicago and the only dish she doesn't make from scratch.  They couldn't ship them to me on the West Coast but they were kind enough to share the recipe. 

Brooks’ Sweet Onion Tart
Serves approximately 6-8
Ingredients :
Spanish Onions 1 lb
Unsalted Butter 1 Tbsp
Brown Sugar 1/2 cup
Baby Swiss Cheese, Shredded 1 cup
Eggs, Beaten 1 cup
Heavy Cream 3/4 cup
Pie Shell, Pre-Baked 1 each
Puff Pastry Sheets 1 each
Preheat oven to 350. Slice onions 1/4” thick. In a sauce pan, add butter and cook onions.
Add brown sugar and caramelize onions. In a separate bowl, add beaten eggs and cream.
Add cooked caramelized onion mixture to egg mixture and blend. Add all ingredients into
the pre-baked pie shell. Bake in a 350 oven for approximately 60-90 minutes until set.
Slice puff pastry sheets into 1/2” ribbons. Place on baked tart in a lattice (criss-cross)
form. Place back into the oven for another 8-10 minutes until pastry is golden brown.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Leeks Vinaigrette

If you're a leek lover like me, this recipe is right up your alley.  I was reading my new issue of Bon Appetit yesterday while getting my nails done and this jumped right off the page.  I served it last night with a steamed lobster (like that isn't rich enough on its own) and it stole the show.  My husband's favorite part was the vinaigrette that it's served with and I'll argue that using coarse- grained mustard is a must.  This would be an easy recipe for a dinner party that would wow guests.  A big thumbs up. 
 Leeks Vinaigrette
  • 6 medium leeks (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken stock
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, whites and yolks separated and chopped
Heat oven to 425°F. Trim dark-green tops from leeks, leaving root end intact. Remove tough outer layer. Starting 1" above root end, halve leeks lengthwise. Wash leeks, making sure to clean all sand from between layers. Dry slightly on paper towels.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil and butter in a large, deep ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, turning occasionally, until light golden in spots, about 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, 3–4 minutes. Add 1 cup water, chicken stock, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until leeks are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon parsley, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small bowl. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer leeks to a platter, drizzle with vinaigrette, top with eggs, and garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.


Steamed Lobster with Lemon-Herb Butter

If you live in San Francisco, head over to Clement Street and grab some fresh seafood at discount.  They have everything from live lobster, blue crabs, oysters, fish- you name it.  Yesterday, Drew and I cruised over there to pick up a 3lb lobster to steam and share for dinner.  It was delicious.  For a 3lb lobster we steamed it for about 15 minutes.  It came out tender and perfect.  I served it with my fontina and chive risotto cakes and braised leeks. 

Steamed Lobster with Lemon-Herb Butter

  • 6 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound live lobsters
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
  • Lemon wedges
Cook lobsters in 2 large pots of boiling salted water until shells are pink and lobsters are just cooked through, about 11 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in small saucepan. Add lemon juice and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve lobsters with lemon wedges and warm herb butter.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Shaved Fennel Salad with Avocado and Fresh Herbs

Drew and I ordered a fennel salad at a local restaurant to compliment a pizza several months ago and ever since I have been making it at home every other week.  I made up my own little version of it after poking around at recipes on the Internet.  It's a good balance of acid and fat (yes, fat) and it tastes even better if you make it and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so.  Unless you have super hero knife skills, you'll need a mandolin slicer. 

Shaved Fennel Salad with Avocado and Fresh Herbs

1 bulb of fennel, sliced thinly
1 bunch of flat Italian parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of good olive oil
1 avocado, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.  Season and serve. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Grilled-Tomato Pizzettes With Basil and Fontina Cheese

I love Labor Day weekend.  In fact, one year ago this Monday, I married my handsome husband on a sunny beach.  To celebrate the weekend and our anniversary, we have a lot planned.  First, 2 nights up in Napa hosting friends.  I don't want it to be too fussy because I want to relax so these pizzas are a perfect recipe for afternoon grilling by the pool.  I recommend picking up some store-bought dough from Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.  Costs just a couple bucks and saves you time.  This would go great with chilled rose. 

For the Grilled Tomatoes
  • 3 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat grill to high. In a bowl, toss tomatoes with oil and thyme; season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Starting with cut sides down, grill tomatoes until soft and charred, 8 to 12 minutes per side.
  3. Return to bowl; cut into rough pieces with kitchen shears
Now, for the pizza!

  • 1/2 recipe Grilled Tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound store-bought pizza dough
  • Flour, for work surface
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Fontina cheese
  • Fresh basil leaves
  1. After preparing grilled tomatoes, reduce grill to low. Divide pizza dough into four pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, shape dough into rough 12-inch-long ovals. Alternate between rolling the dough with a pin and stretching it with your hands. If it tears, pinch dough together to patch.
  2. Place dough on grill. Cook until lightly charred on one side, 3 to 4 minutes; press lightly with a spatula to deflate any air bubbles.
  3. Flip dough; layer with cheese and grilled tomatoes, dividing evenly. Cover grill; cook until cheese melts and bottoms of crusts are charred, 4 to 6 minutes. Garnish with basil.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin with Parmesan & Fresh Thyme

This summer has been all about squash for me. This weekend, my neighbors gave me some squash from their friend's garden that looks like it's on steriods. They are HUGE. I started brainstorming a good way to use it all up and decided on doing a gratin. I poked around on the internet and found this recipe on FineCooking.com and look forward to making it tonight. I don't have any thyme in my kitchen but I have basil so I am going to use that instead. For some crunch, I am going to mix a little panko and olive oil and spread a thin layer on top before baking.

Zucchini & Summer Squash Gratin with Parmesan & Fresh Thyme

For the onions:
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium onions (14 oz. total), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced

To assemble the gratin:
1-1/4 lb. ripe red tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3/4 lb. (about 2 small) zucchini or other green summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch slices on the bias
3/4 lb. (about 2 small) yellow summer squash or golden zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices on the bias
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. coarse salt
1-1/4 cups freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

To cook the onions: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until limp and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low if they're browning too quickly. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes Spread the onions and garlic evenly in the bottom of an oiled 2-qt. shallow gratin dish (preferably oval). Let cool.

To assemble the gratin: Heat the oven to 375°F. Put the tomato slices on a shallow plate to drain for a few minutes and then discard the collected juices. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini and squash slices with 1-1/2 Tbs. of the olive oil, 2 Tbs. of the thyme, and 1/2 tsp. of the salt. Reserve half of the cheese for the top of the gratin. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the thyme over the onions in the gratin. Starting at one end of the baking dish, lay a row of slightly overlapping tomato slices across the width of the dish and sprinkle with a little of the cheese. Next, lay a row of zucchini, overlapping the tomatoes by two-thirds, and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat with a row of squash, and then repeat rows, sprinkling each with cheese, until the gratin is full.

Season lightly with pepper and the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Drizzle the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil over all. Combine the reserved cheese with the remaining 1 Tbs. thyme and sprinkle this over the whole gratin. Cook until well-browned all over and the juices have bubbled for a while and reduced considerably, 65 to 70 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 min. before serving.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Food is love and comfort

We recently had a devastating death in our family and it's been a rough two weeks to say the least. As friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances walked through our house to offer their prayers and regrets, something quite interesting happened- they all brought food. And they all seemed to bring something that they found comforting to them, as if they wanted to share their trick to coping.

One friend made homemade tortillas and dropped them off in our kitchen early in the morning while everyone was sleeping. We mopped up our eggs with them. Another friend showed up with a bunch of NY strip steaks. We grilled 'em right up for dinner. There was artichoke dip, chicken salad, queso, deli sandwiches, Lou Malnati's pizza OVERNIGHTED from Chicago- the list goes on and on. Yet, never once was a salad dropped off. Salad just doesn't seem to make the cut when it comes to comfort and rightfully so.

Food is a lot of things but, in my opinion, food has one major common thread: Love and Comfort. And during this time, that's exactly what my family needed. Thanks to all that shared their trick to coping.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

If you have read my blog long enough, you'll know that I hope to be Ina Garten in my next life and pretty much worship the ground she walks on. She entertains in her pimp little Hampton's pad effortlessly, eats basically whatever she wants all the time, can make a dinning room table look absolutely amazing and runs a successful catering business. And that's her JOB! She gets paid to do all that!

Anyway, in my boring life, our feta was about to turn and I needed a recipe to use it all up. I decided to test this one out and I added some red onion and red peppers to it as well and toasted some french bread to serve on the side. Delicious. Oh, Ina...

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

Serves 4

Good olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced fennel (1 bulb)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Pernod
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds (16 to 18) shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tails left on
3 ounces feta cheese, preferably Greek or French, coarsely crumbled
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (see note)
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 lemons

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in 10- or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and garlic and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits clinging to the bottom of the skillet, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the skillet. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Arrange the shrimp artfully in one layer over the tomato mixture in the skillet. Scatter feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle evenly over the shrimp.

5. Bake the shrimp for about 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with wedges of lemon.

Assemble the shrimp right in a 10- to 12-inch stainless-steel sauté pan, and then put the pan in the oven for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lamb Meatball Curry

While we have been doing more than our fair share of grilling this summer, I have been on a serious Indian kick. I think it's because I discovered the cuisine so late in life that now I am doing everything to make up for lost time. I mean, this stuff is so freaking tasty. Cooking it, on the other hand, scares me a bit. Is it the amount of ingredients in each recipes? Or the lack of amount of experience I have with some of these ingredients?

Well, it's time to get over it and start making this stuff at home. I looked around and found this recipe at Essentially Healthy Food via Saveur . Wish me luck.

Lamb Meatball Curry
Serves 4

500g Lamb Mince
10g Fresh Ginger
1/2 Red Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
25g Ground Almonds
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Curry Sauce
1/2 Red Onion, roughly chopped
25g Fresh Ginger
2 Cloves of Garlic
150g Fresh Tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Ground Coriander
1 Tsp Ground Turmeric
15g Coconut Oil
4 Whole Cloves
4 Cardamon Pods, crushed
3 or 4 Small Pieces of Cinnamon Bark
1-2 Chillies
400ml Coconut Milk
50ml Water
8 Curry Leaves
1 Tsp Garam Masala
Juice of ½ a Lemon

Coriander Leaves, to garnish

To make the meatballs
1. Finely chop the onion, ginger and garlic in a food processor. Add to the lamb mince together with the ground cumin, ground almonds and a little salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.

2. Divide into 20 even sized pieces and roll into balls.

To make the curry sauce
1. Place the red onion, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, ground cumin, coriander and turmeric in a food processor and blitz until a paste is formed.

2. Heat a shallow saute pan, approximately 5cm (2") deep and 25cm (10") in diameter. Heat the coconut oil and then gently fry the spices until their aroma is released. Add the paste and cook for a few minutes. Then, add the coconut milk, water and whole chillies. Stir well, bring up to the boil then cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in the garam masala, curry leaves and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

To cook
1. Pre heat the oven to 180℃/160℃ Fan.

2. Brown the meatballs in a non stick frying pan. Drain any excess fat on kitchen paper. Place the meatballs in a single layer in the pan with the sauce.

3. Cover and cook in the oven for 30- 40 minutes.

To serve
1. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Orange and Beet Salad Recipe

I've been really craving beets lately. Usually, I'll just slice some and serve it with some greens and goat cheese but that combo can become a bit boring at times. I like this recipe because it's still simple to pull together and the orange totally changes the flavor profile. This salad would be perfect for an alfresco lunch or dinner in the summer heat.

Orange and Beet Salad Recipe
Simply Recipes
1 bunch of beets, leaves removed (save them for beet greens!) - about 4 or 5 medium sized
2 large navel oranges, peels cut off with a small small knife and sliced
1 bunch of arugula leaves, cleaned, and any thick stems removed
Several thin slices of red onion
optional 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

In a small jar, mix the following ingredients. The mustard is there to act primarily as an emulsifier.
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the beets with their peel on. I prefer the boiling method because it's more efficient - cover the beets with water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes or until beets can easily be pierced through with a fork. Alternatively you can wrap the beets in aluminum foil and bake them in the oven at 400°F for an hour or until done. After cooking, allow the beets to come to room temperature and remove their peels. Slice or quarter them. If you have time, place them in a small bowl and marinate them in half of the oil and vinegar dressing, ingredients listed above.

Compose individual salad plates with arugula, a few slices of orange, a few beets, a few slices of red onion and a few chopped walnuts. If you want some added color, gently add a few slices of the orange to the beet juice from your bowl of beets. Let the oranges absorb the beet color and use in your salad. Sprinkle dressing over the individual salads.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chicken Mar i Muntanya with shrimp, mussels, green beans, piquillo peppers, and chorizo

I know this isn't a food-porn-quality picture but it does prove that I actually do cook these recipes. I had a dinner party (which turned into a bit or a rager) a couple weeks ago. I was pretty fried from a busy work week so I wanted to do something easy and something family-style. Well, needless to say, I turned to the Ad Hoc cookbook (again).

What I liked about this recipe is that it has a lot of different flavors that go well together, it all comes together pretty quickly in the end and it is pretty to look at. It's not a paella but it's a close cousin.

Chicken Mar i Muntanya
with shrimp, mussels, green beans, piquillo peppers, and chorizo
Serves 6
From Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller. Artisan, 2009

One 4-pound chicken
1/2 recipe Chicken brine (see note), cold
12 extra-large shrimp (12-15 count), shells on
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Piment d'Espelette
Canola oil
Saffron rice (see note), warm
3 piquillo peppers, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 cup thin green beans (haricots verts), blanched
1/2 cup chicken stock, warm
1 Spanish chorizo sausage (about 4 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
18 small mussels, preferably Bouchot or PEI
Flat-leaf parsley leaves
Fleur de Sel

Cut the chicken into 10 pieces (I bought seperate pieces). Pour the brine into a container large enough to hold the chicken, add the chicken, and refrigerate for about 12 hours (no longer, or the chicken may become too salty). Preheat the oven to 400F.

Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse under cold water, removing any herbs or
spices sticking to the skin. Pat dry with paper towels, or let air dry. Set aside.
Without removing the shells, using a small pair of scissors or a paring knife, make a
shallow cut down the back of each shrimp from head to tail. Gently open up the shrimp
and, with your fingers or the paring knife, remove the vein. Rinse the shrimp under cold

Combine 4 cups water and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons salt in a medium bowl and stir to
dissolve the salt. Add the shrimp to the brine and let stand at room temperature for 10
minutes. Remove from the brine, rinse, and drain on paper towels.

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of Espelette. Heat some canola oil
in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the dark meat skin-side-down, lower
the head to medium-low, and cook until the skin is a rich golden brown and crisp, about
8 minutes. (If you turn the chicken too early, more moisture will be released from the
meat and you will not get the crisp caramelized surface you are looking for.) Turn the
pieces and brown for another 6 minutes, or until golden brown on the second side.
Remove from the heat, transfer the dark meat to a plate, and set aside.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add more oil as needed. Add the breasts skinside-
down and cook until the skin is crisp and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Turn the
chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, until almost cooked through. Remove from the

Spread the rice in the bottom of a large heatproof serving dish or baking dish. Arrange
half the piquillos and half the green beans over the rice. Tuck the dark meat and the
breasts into the rice, pour the stock over the ingredients, and put the dish in the oven.
Heat some oil over medium heat in a frying pan large enough to hold the mussels in one
layer. Add the chorizo and cook until browned and crisp on the edges, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the chorizo to a plate and pour off the excess fat, leaving just a coating in the
pan. Add the shrimp to the pan and sauté until just cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes
per side. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Add the wine to the pan, bring to a boil, and boil for 30 seconds. Add the mussels, cover
the pan, and cook until the mussels have opened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the

Arrange the chorizo, shrimp, and mussels in the baking dish; set aside in a warm spot.
Return the frying pan to the heat, add the remaining peppers and green beans, and heat
through. Arrange them over the chicken and shellfish, garnish with parsley leaves, and
sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Chicken Brine
5 lemons, halved
24 bay leaves
1 bunch (4 ounces) flat-leaf parsley
1 bunch (1 ounce) thyme
½ cup clover honey
1 head garlic, halved through the equator
¼ cup black peppercorns
2 cups (10 ounces) kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
2 gallons water

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute,
stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely, then chill before
using. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Saffron Rice
¼ cup canola oil
¾ cup finely chopped onion (cut just smaller than a grain of cooked rice)
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 cups (about 14 ounces) short-grain rice, preferably Calasparra
2 ¾ to 3 ½ cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion and season
with a sprinkling of salt. Reduce the heat and cook gently for 3 minutes. Add the saffron.
Reduce the heat to very low, and cook for another 2 minutes; do not brown the onions
and saffron. Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often, to toast the rice for
1 to 2 minutes.

Add 2 ½ cups of the stock, stir once, scraping the sides of the pan if necessary, and
cover with a parchment lid (see page 120). Bring the stock to a simmer and simmer,
adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 8 minutes, until most of the stock has been
absorbed. The rice will still be firm. Gently stir the rice, scraping it up from the bottom,
and reduce the heat to very low. Add an additional ¼ cup of stock, cover with the lid,
increase the heat, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes, until the stock is
absorbed. Taste the rice and, if necessary, continue cooking, adding up to ¾ cup more
stock ¼ cup at a time, as necessary, until the rice is almost tender and the final addition
of liquid is almost absorbed. Turn the heat to low to allow the rice to absorb the
remaining liquid, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and serve hot.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Guajillo Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!!

Time to pound Mexican food and drink lots of cold beer with lime wedges. The weather in the bay area has been out of control so tonight we're having a neighborhood taco party on the roof. On the menu? A tribute to one of my favorite tacos in San Francisco, the Guajillo Braised Beef Short Rib Taco from Tacolicious.

Tacolicious is located in our old hood in the city, the Marina. Everything is good there but this taco really stands out. On top of the fact that this is ridiculously good, they have amazing fresh salsa and original hot sauces that they should bottle and sell - I'd buy them!


Guajillo Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa

Braised Short Ribs

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
6 dried guajillo chilies
2 dried chipotle chilies
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 pounds beef short ribs
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon oregano
Salt, to taste

½ teaspoon whole cumin seed
6 small tomatillos
2 avocados, sliced in half, seed removed, flesh scooped out
1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Salt, to taste

To serve
Corn tortillas


For the short ribs

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. In a pan over a medium flame, lightly toast cumin seeds until fragrant. Grind cumin seeds using spice grinder or the bottom of a heavy pan and set aside.
  2. Slice open chilies and remove the seeds. Toast chilies in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and soak in 2 cups of water and set aside.
  3. In a heavy-bottom pot, heat oil and sear ribs until golden brown on all sides. Remove ribs from pot and set aside. In the same pot, add the onion and cook until it begins to caramelize, then add the garlic and continue cooking for about 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the chilies and their soaking liquid to the onions and garlic. Stir to combine, then puree in a blender with the oregano and a pinch of salt and place back into the same heavy bottom pot. Add the ribs back to the pot, cover and cook in the oven for 3 – 3 ½ hours. You may do this a day or two in advance; reheat when you are ready to serve.

For the salsa

  1. In a pan over a medium flame, lightly toast cumin seeds until fragrant. Grind cumin seeds using a spice grinder or the bottom of a heavy pan.
  2. In a food processor blend tomatillos, avocados, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice and cumin until smooth. Season with salt to taste and reserve.

To serve

Heat tortillas on a flat-top griddle or in a large frying pan. Keep warm as you cook them by wrapping them in a clean dish towel. For each taco, put two tortillas on a plate, add a scoop of the braised beef, top with salsa, and enjoy!