July 29, 2014


Head on over to Barney's site The Window for the recipe for this summer ceviche.
-a

June 23, 2014

Brick Chicken on the Grill

Jay asked me to burn the chicken.
Growing up, his mom would barbeque chicken and leave his dad's pieces on the grill a little longer than the rest. Somewhere along the lines Jay developed a taste for the charred chicken too.

Growing up in my house, a weekly menu highlight was Mom's smoky chicken. Mom would roast a chicken, forget about it and join Claire & I in the other room to watch a movie, and the house would fill with smoke & set off the smoke detectors. Muscle memory would kick in and as if under hypnosis we would each grab our go-to pillow and positions under the detectors and fan them until they went off. That's how you know smoky chicken is done.

I wanted to find a happy balance between the crispy charred chicken Jay had growing up and avoiding (sorry mom) the dryness of smoky chicken.

The recipe starts with spatchcocking the chicken, which you only need a sturdy pair of scissors and a knife to do. Next is an overnight dry rub. For extra char to the chicken, I let it cook skin side down longer, and only needed a few minutes on the other side. A brick is used to keep the chicken flat & even contact with the grill.



Brick Chicken with Romesco Sauce

spatchcocked chicken: 
1. Using kitchen scissors, place chicken breast side down on a surface & cut along both sides of the back bone to remove it.
2. Flip the chicken over and open it like a book - locate the white cartilage/keel bone of the bird in the center.
3. With your knife, make a deep cut on the soft spot on the top of the keel bone and along sides of the keel bone.
4. Press firmly down (you will hear a crack) to flatten it - and the keel bone will be easy to remove.

rub: 
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp salt
Lemon zest (from one lemon)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin

romesco sauce: 
1 small, seeded dried ancho chile pepper
1/4 cup almonds
1 clove garlic
1 large red pepper seeds removed, grilled
handful of cherry tomatoes
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tsp. paprika 
pinch of salt
olive oil

soak the chile in boiled water to soften for 5 minutes, drain. Add all ingredients, except olive oil,  to a food processor/blender.While blending,  slowly drizzle in the olive oil until smooth. Adjust salt.

for grilling:
Mix the ingredients, rub all over the chicken and refrigerate overnight (or at least 2 hours). Bring the chicken to room temperature before grilling.

Light your grill, make sure sure the grates are completely clean.  Once the grill is hot, dip a paper towel in some olive oil and using metal tongs to swab the grates - this will prevent the skin from sticking. Place the bird skin side down and place a brick (can be wrapped in aluminum foil, or use a heavy cast iron skillet) across the top of the chicken. Allow to cook for about 15 - 25 minutes (depending how well done you want it). Carefully remove the brick & flip the chicken over. Add a few lemon halves, cut side down,  to the grill too at this point. Cook chicken for about 10 -20 minutes, using a thermometer or check to make sure its done. Rest for 5 minutes.

Squeeze grilled lemon over the chicken & serve with romesco sauce.

Also pictured with grilled corn with miso honey butter & grilled summer squash and zucchini.

June 10, 2014

Stinging Nettle Gnocchi



this is what I know about gnocchi making:
- russet potatoes are best
- bake them, don't boil for a fluffier dough
- split them in half while hot and scoop out the flesh to a potato ricers/mill -- if you wait til the potatoes cool, you'll have a pretty gluey pasta 
-squeeze out excess moisture; the more liquid in your dough, the more flour you will need to sop it up, and they end up with the consistency of a bunch of erasers
-you can get away with less flour if you use a beaten egg to bind it all together (which is necessary for using gluten free flours) 

the nettle gnocchi above include peas, crispy prosciutto & porcini mushrooms in a butter herb sauce. 


June 8, 2014

INNA jam fresno chili chocolate cake


The first job I had when I moved to california two years ago was as a jam maker in the east bay. I was fresh off an apprenticeship in a high end/high pressure kitchen in Barcelona, and eager to stay involved with food and learn something new. My previous experience with jam was blasting music in my old kitchen in Philly with Adriane, and turning out preserves for ourselves and for friends, no matter where they were in the country. The work days with Dafna and the girls of INNA jam weren't much different. There was still a lot of loud music and jam eating, but they knew how to make chili pepper jam- a game changer for any cheese board or as a layer in a dark chocolate cake.



Dark chocolate cake with Mascarpone and Chili Jam
 makes one small but very rich cake

cake
4 oz. dark semi-sweet chocolate
6 oz. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tsbp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp. flour (AP or gluten free)
pinch of salt
pinch of cinnamon 

filling
mascarpone
INNA jam fresno chili pepper jam
powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two small cake pans or large ramekins with butter, lining the base with a round of parchment paper, and butter that too (the cake will rise a bit while cooking and collapse while cooling).
Using a microwave or double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together. Stir in the cocao powder and sugar. Whisk in one egg at a time, and then the remaining ingredients. The batter should be smooth. Divide the batter into the two pans, place the pans on a baking sheet (in case they overflow/it's easier to remove from the oven) - and bake for roughly 35 - 40 minutes, the top should be shiny with some cracks in it. Allow to cool completely.

Once cool, add a layer of mascarpone cheese and then top with a heavy dose of chili pepper jam. Carefully layer the second cake on top, some of the filling with ooze out, and top with a dusting of powdered sugar.




June 2, 2014

Steel Cut Oats with Roasted Figs

It was a wild good weekend with friends, swimming and sleeping outside. Back to our hillside home for a long and lazy sunday and a late breakfast. I roasted figs until they were splitting at the seams and very juicy, browned butter to bring out the nutty carmel flavors to mix with grade b dark vermont maple syrup all on top of slow cooked steal cut oats.



Steel Cut Oats with Roasted Figs
for two

1 cup steel cut oats
almond milk
6 figs, halved
olive oil
2 tbsp butter
maple syrup
cinnamon
blueberries
almonds

Bring 3 cups water + 1 cup oats to a boil, then cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, adding more water if needed along the way.
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Rub olive oil on the halved figs, and lay out cut side up on a baking sheet. Roast for about 10 minutes.
In a small dry skillet, toast almonds for about 2 minutes over medium high heat, until golden. Set aside and chop into small bits.
In a small sauce pot over medium low heat, add the butter. Once melted, skim the white dairy fats off the surface with a spoon so you have a bright yellow clarified butter. Keep this over heat and stir constantly until the yellow turns a deep golden brown color. Pour into a small container and set aside.

Add a splash of almond milk to the oats in their final cooking stage. Scoop into a bowl and top with cinnamon, blueberries, the roast figs, some of the brown butter and maple syrup and top with chopped almonds.



May 22, 2014

from the top

sometimes recipes don't work, things don't go as you hoped. you shop especially for that recipe with a long list of ingredients, come home from work early to throw on an apron and a record-  and it just doesn't work and you end up pissed off and eating eggs for dinner.
I had a couple of those this week. when it happens, I always roast a chicken. It's my reset button, gives me my kitchen confidence back. sometimes I rub toasted spices and olive oil over the outside to get a crispy spicy skin. sometimes i'll stuff a lemon, garlic, and herbs in the cavity going for extra juicy. sometimes i'll cut up sweet potatoes, celery and root vegetables to lay in the pan and catch all the drippings from the bird.
my hands know what to do; because they've been doing it for years. no matter what variation I put on the recipe, it's mine.


May 16, 2014

show up with a pie


 Last night we headed up in the hills of laurel canyon to our good friends liz & erin's home for a dinner party.  They really have the dinner party thing figured out. There's always good booze (red wine or tequila usually, my favorites), the food is delicious and unfussy in a serve-yourself style in the kitchen, and everyone feels like old friends around their table out back.
Cooking something special, something that takes a while, without using any shortcuts,  feels like the best gift I can give someone. So I baked my first gluten free pie from scratch, filled with yellow peaches, blackberries, blueberries & cherries.




The recipe is based off my favorite pie dough recipe, using Thomas Keller's Cup4Cup flour mix, with the additional of one egg as a binding agent. Gluten is what gives your pasta it's elasticity, your bread it's chew. Which is why gluten free baking can be tricky and require a lot more supplemental flours and ingredients. It required a little more patience rolling out, but the end result was just as buttery and flaky as my old pate brisee dough recipe. The key with any pie is keeping everything cold! The temperature of the room or heat from your hands is enough to melt the butter. So constantly keep throwing the bowl in the fridge between steps or prep. 

(Gluten Free) Pie with Summer Fruits

pie dough: 

3 cups of cup4cup flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 cup of butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 egg
1/2 cup of chilled water, including 1 ice cube

filling: 
1 pint bluerries
1 pint blackberries
1/2 lb. cherries, pitted and stemmed
5 or 6 small yellow peaches, pitted and sliced 
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
juice from 1/2 a lemon, strained of seeds

egg wash: 
1 egg yolk
bit of cream
raw sugar/coarse sugar

In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, and sugar and whisk to incorporate. Add the butter to the flour mixture and using a small pairing knife, slash into the mix to try to break down the butter into smaller sizes. Then, using your fingertips, quickly pinch the butter and flour together to try to incorporate the two - don't over mix, seeing flecks of butter is ideal, just make sure their isn't dry patches of flour without butter. Throw the bowl into the fridge for 5 minutes. 
In a small bowl, whisk an egg into the water/ice mixture. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator, make a small well in the center and add the egg mixture. Using a fork, quickly mix the bowl so a loose dough forms. Divide the dough into two portions, and lay out on two separate squares of plastic wrap, wrapping it tie and forming the dough into a ball. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes. 

Working on a well floured surface (like wax paper), roll out the dough, one half at a time. : using a rolling pin, first lightly hit the dough to flatten. Roll up and down, starting in the middle, to create an even dough - turn the dough 90 degrees, re-flour, and work in this direction. Carefully transfer the dough to pie dish so it has about a 1/2" overhand (will shrink in oven). If it breaks, which mine did, just use your fingers to patch up the dough in the dish. 
Roll out the remaining half of the dough in the same manner on a piece of wax paper, then cut into strips, transfer the whole paper to a tray and refrigerate along with the pie dish for about 30 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix ingredients for the filling in one bowl. Pour the filling into the pie dish. Top with the strips of dough, criss crossing them (using a spatula will help transfer without breaking). 

Whisk the egg yolk and cream together for the egg wash. Brush quickly over the top layer of dough, and sprinkle with raw sugar. 

Bake for 10 minutes, to brown the top. 
Lower the temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake for about 45-55 minutes - the filling will begin to bubble and the crust will be golden.