Smoky Scallops with Tomato-Pomegranate Molasses-Habanero

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It’s my mom’s birthday today. A dinner was made in her honor.

Lightly cold-smoked scallops, peeled and roasted grape tomatoes, habanero pomegranate molasses dressing, warm parsnip puree, salty prosciutto, floral basil, crispy oil-cured olives.

 

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Mad Men Party

It was my friend Terence’s birthday recently and a fabulous Mad Men party was thrown in his honor by his lady who in turn hired me to cater it. I was excited to do a retro menu and what a hit it was.

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orange elderflower jello shots

Jello used to be a hit back in the days. I made a updated version which is just a fancied up jello shot with orange juice, vodka, elderflower liquer and bitters. I served them up in candy cups and strewn with edible flowers for decoration.

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Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Easy and Quick Hor d’Oeuvres

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.

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Piquillo Peppers, Lemon Oil & Zest, Sherry Vinegar

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.

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Pecorino Bean Crostini, Pickled Zucchini

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.

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Pickled Cherry Peppers, Tuna, Basil, Pinenuts

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.

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Crostni with Dry Rubbed Home-Cured Bacon, Crescenza Cheese

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.

A Summer Dinner

I made dinner for a few friends the past weekend at my friend Ellen’s place which she has renovated with an awesome kitchen. It houses an island over 16 feet long with its own sink, wine fridge, shelves for cookbooks and a microwave, and tons of very organized storage area for all the kitchen tools and tableware. And the best of all a six burner Viking stove and french door Viking fridge. As you can imagine I was super excited to be cooking in this kitchen. Could I possibly have more surface area to work on? I think not.

Here was my summer menu:
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Vadouvan Gougeres

These look like typical gougeres but I added a spoonful of vadouvan to the batter. They came out golden, puffed up and with a hint of earthy curry.

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Oyster Ceviche

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It’s a treat to be able to slurp down a few oysters when I head to my favorite farmer’s market in Santa Monica. The Carlsbad Seafood people are always there shucking up some delicious oysters. For a take home bag of a dozen it costs $10 which is not bad at all. Especially when they are ginormathon like the Catalinas above. They were larger than usual around this time, maybe a tad bit too large. With the super fresh oysters I made Eric Ripert’s oyster ceviche. The flavors were so simple but refreshing just like a ceviche should be. Lime, cilantro and onion. The touch of lemon oil was nice though and I played a heavier hand of Tabasco cuz I’m crazy like that.

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Beer Pairing

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.

Gougeres
St. Bernardus Wit

gougeres

st. bernardus wit

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Citrus Soy Kampachi with Shichimi, Chives

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I had kampachi and supremed citrus with juices left over from making the crudo. These made way for a simple quick meal. I made a citrus-soy sauce reduction with the leftover citrus juices, minced shallot (also left over which meant less work – yay!), soy sauce, mirin, sugar and rice vinegar. I didn’t measure anything – just put in a lil bit of this and that. I simply seasoned the kampachi with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and cooked it in a pan with a lil bit of vegetable oil. I finished the dish with some chive tips and a sprinkling of shichimi togarashi. The citrus soy reduction was surprisingly good with its balance of savory and fruity flavors. And the hue was beautiful too, striking from the blood orange with all its drama.

In the Mood for Crudo

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I was in the mood for crudo the past weekend. I picked up some beautiful sea scallops at Santa Monica Seafood ready for a super fresh dish. I absolutely adore raw scallops. Scallop sushi with a teeny bit of yuzu juice and salt is one of my favorite treats.

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I had a few ingredients I really wanted to utilize in this dish – sumac and O Olive Oil’s lemon oil. Sumac is the dried and ground berries of the Rhus species of plants. It is used in Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine and lends a tangy flavor to savory dishes. I complemented the scallops with an avocado mousse and citrus salsa that was made with pink lemon, meyer lemon, tangelo and blood orange. I plated the thinly sliced scallop on top of the avocado puree and spooned the citrus salsa along with other side. I lightly salted the scallop slices with kosher salt and drizzled a bit of lemon oil over them. A sprinkling of minced chives on one half of the scallops and citrus salsa and a sprinkling of tangy sumac over the other half and the avocado puree finished the dish. The scallops were so fresh. The combination of the tangy bright flavors against the briny sweetness of the scallops and the mild and smooth avocado mousse was very enjoyable.

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I couldn’t stop myself from picking up some kampachi too though remembering when I made a delicious crudo way back. I ate this one very simply with a sprinkling of salt, drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a spoonful of the citrus salsa and chives. Also delicious and fresh.

Luna Oysters

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Yay today I successfully shucked oysters! I tried this before once and what a fail that was. I picked up a dozen luna oysters from the Carlsbad Seafood stand at the Santa Monica farmer’s market. Luna oysters are similar to Kumamoto oysters – small, delicate and sweet. The oyster guy showed me how to shuck them. The oysters needs to be set flat side up on a surface and held with a towel to protect your hand. The oyster knife needs to be worked in to the hinge where the top and bottom shell are attached. Once the knife is in twist it to pop the shell open and cut through the muscle holding onto the top shell. And success! Well almost – there were still a few I could not get the knife into the hinge. The ones that popped open made a great afternoon snack though with a squeeze of meyer lemon.