November 11, 2014

Cooking with Beatrice Valenzuela

Had the pleasure of collaborating with Beatrice Valenzuela for a special Summerland box -  and cooking the recipes for a family mole recipe over black beans, roast squash and jalepeno chèvre stuffed squash blossoms in her inspired echo park home. One of the best days on the job! -A

July 29, 2014

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

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.

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

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 

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

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.