This tart came about one cold winter day. I was actually sick during that time and had lost my sense of smell and taste. But instilled with an urge to cook. Perhaps it was all the laying about doing not a single thing. If I woke up tomorrow minus my ability to taste I would be thrown into turmoil, stripped of life meaning. How I longed for the aroma of sizzling bacon and leeks cooking in butter. Thank goodness my sickness was only temporary. The day after I made the tart I was fully able to taste again. Hooray. Sweet leeks, nutty comte and smokey bacon topped the homemade Zuni Cafe rough puff pastry. The house smelled absolutely wonderful to everyone’s pleasure.
For this month’s installment of the Foodbuzz 24 event I did a spread of easy and quick hor d’oeuvres. I had some good ingredients in my pantry already so I whipped them up for a lunch with a few good friends.
Piquillo peppers are such a delicious ingredient. They are northern Spanish peppers which are hand-picked, roasted, peeled, seeded and jarred. All the work is done for you beforehand. I seasoned them with lemon oil, sherry vinegar, lemon zest and a pinch of orange-thyme salt.
I’ve made bean crostinis countless times. What can I say? I love them. They are really versatile, inexpensive and of course tasty. This time I added pecorino to the bean puree and paired it with Zuni Cafe’s pickled zucchini. The tangy crunchy pickles were a nice contrast to the creamy bean puree.
I had pickled some cherry peppers recently which were sitting in the fridge unused. They make a perfect hor d’oeuvre base once its top is cut and it’s deseeded. I stuffed them with a salad of tuna, basil and toasted pinenuts. I used imported Spanish tuna which is higher quality and more delicious than the domestic stuff. The cherry peppers had a pleasant kick of spiciness.
I made a simple mix of smoked paprika, brown sugar and black pepper and rubbed this over thick-cut home-cured bacon and let it marinade overnight. After baking them off in the oven I combined it with creamy Bellwether Farm’s Crescenza cheese on a crostini. Needless to say these were very popular. Even all the leftover bacon was polished off. Easy and quick hor d’oeuvres, always a pleasure to host with.
I made bacon using once again my Charcuterie cookbook. Bacon is one of those thing in my mind that was always store-bought. I had no idea making bacon at home is so easy. All you need is pork belly, salt, sugar, and pink salt. The pork belly is cured with the salt mixture in the fridge for 7 days or so depending on the size of the meat. Traditionally American bacon is smoked after cured (which is tasty!) but you don’t necessarily have to do that when making your own at home. The book instructs you to cook the bacon in a low oven to 150 degrees, which would be the desirable temperature reached when smoking it.
After cooking the slab bacon in the oven I sliced off a piece and fried it up. It was super delicious – dense, meaty and with that distinctive cured flavor. It was definitely a cool moment in my kitchen eating my very own home-cured bacon.
I was luckily chosen to take part in this month’s Foodbuzz 24 event. A beer pairing meal was on my agenda. It’s been a few years since I did my first one so I researched around a bit to gather ideas. I kept things simple and rounded up a few of my beer loving friends and presented a six-course beer pairing menu.
St. Bernardus Wit
B.L.T. is the king of sandwiches. This month I reached the pinnacle of my blt making history, partly because we’re still in the juicy tomato season and also because I found the perfect bread. If you don’t already know Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica makes the most amazing breads ever – light and fluffy with a super thin crispy crust. They started selling sliced bread! Imagine that freshly baked bread toasted and spread generously with mayonnaise, topped with thick juicy slices of pineapple heirloom tomato straight from the farmer’s market, smoky juicy Niman Ranch dry-cured bacon, and fresh and mildly oniony onion sprouts. Heavenly, no joke. My favorite sandwiches that I’ve made besides this blt is just suped up version it. The blt stuffed with perfectly ripe haas avocado is mouthwatering. One with the avocado and also spread on one side with fresh goat cheese? To die for.
About two and a half weeks ago my brother’s friends Sarvi and Aaron contacted me about catering for their wedding party. It was supposed to be a more casual event held at a artsy and hip neighborhood bar/art gallery, providing guests with a light lunch. I enthusiastically took on the task with the help of my friend Ellen. So I began the menu planning keeping in mind that the food would have to be finger food so guests can eat easily while standing and drinking, the food would have to go with some nice wine, and of course something delicious.