Roasted Baby Carrots with Ginger

30th June, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Sides, easy, vegetarian

This time of year, early summer, at least that what it seems to be here in California, the local farms are providing bunches of young carrots that are tender, sweet and wonderful, But, it’s not always easy to come up with fresh and delicious ways to present them.

Here’s a simple recipe that delivers wonderful results. The ginger and garlic are a delightful surprise, adding lively, spicy notes to the earthy goodness of the beautiful young carrots, and a little brown sugar and balsamic vinegar give them some color and depth, while cutting the slight bitterness the carrots can have. Use them to dress up simple fare – a grilled whole fish or a great steak, and improve your night vision at the same time! Read more…»

Pan Seared Scallops with Scarlet Runner Beans

22nd June, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Light Mains, Starters, easy

A couple Saturdays ago, I was pouring over the beans at Rancho Gordo (don’t I lead a fascinating life?), looking for something new, something I haven’t tried, something fun. Molly asked, “Have you tried the Scarlet Runners? They’re huge and really good.” No, I haven’t. She pointed to the bags, and, of course, I had to bring some home. (Food follows me home the way stray kittens follow kids.)

Where the beautiful, big runner cannellinis (see recipe) leave off, these things start. Dried, they’re about an inch long, deep maroon, speckled with black and purple and tan, and once soaked, gain about 50% in size. Lovely! I spent much of my 45-minute drive home thinking about what I’d do with them. (Yes, when I shake my maraca, you can hear the beans rattling.)

Just look at them! Up there, in the photo! Those are not small scallops, and the beans aren’t exactly dwarfed by them. Have I convinced you? They’re big. And, delicious. They have a wonderful meaty texture, and a firm skin that allows them to keep their shape. Enough about the beans…

The diver scallops are seared to Maillardize their naturally sweet juices, and present some enticing color. If they’re still cool in the centre, they’re cooked just right. Texturally, they harmonize wonderfully with the beans, and the combination of flavors is magical. Enjoy! Read more…»

Tamed Salsa Macha!

8th June, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Chiliheads, Salsas, easy

Last week, Steve Sando, heirloom bean king and mastermind of Rancho Gordo, peppered his Facebook page with pictures of amazing looking food from his recent visit to Veracruz. One photo in particular had me, a confirmed chilephile, almost ready to eat my screen. It showed a beautiful bowl of glistening salsa macha, made from local dried chiles, peanuts and garlic. Steve didn’t have a recipe, so I took it on as a personal mission to develop one. After a little research and a few experimental batches, here’s what I’ve come up with. It may not be 100% authentic, but it sure tastes good.

The traditional Salsa Macha of Veracruz is made with the dried chile comapeño, a small orange chile that is unavailable outside of the region. I’ve substituted a combination of ancho and de àrbol chiles to bring up the flavors, and tame the flame a bit. Use more ancho if you want it milder, more de àrbol if you want the heat. Dried chiltepins and pequins, widely available, can also be used to add even more fire, and the true die-hard can add dried habanero, which will also add wonderful layers of fruitiness to the salsa. Read more…»

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What’s Cooking?

2nd June, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in What's On the Table?

Tonight, it’s an elk chili, made with the Chili Canario recipe and a couple pounds of beautiful elk chuck that’s been in the freezer since last season. The house smells wonderful!

With it, some garlic braised chard, finished with an orange/balsamico reduction, roasted asparagus (which I’d thought to be the last bunch of the season, but the farm delivered another one today!), and gorgonzola polenta. A bottle of Archetype’s 2005 Cabernet/Shiraz blend is breathing. Dinner in 20 minutes!

Let us know! What’s on your table, tonight?

Pan Seared Duck with Orange Chipotle Sauce

2nd June, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Main Courses, Moderate

First, a confession. See the picture? Where’s the succulent, juicy, rare slices of beautifully seared duck breast, with crispy skin and lovely sauce? What’s that dark flesh that could be anything? Well, um…

I actually shot the photograph of the leftovers that I had for lunch today. When cooking for company, they’re rarely patient enough to wait around whilst I go about fiddling with plating and lighting and photographing the food I’m about to serve them; they want to eat, and preferably, while the food is still warm. So I had to make do with the leftovers. I’d put the tiny little pieces of duck breast in the fridge, along with the sauce, so the meat got much darker than it was on the night of serving, and the gorgeous golden, crispy skin turned into what you see here . Still, it was a deliciously decadent lunch. So it goes. You’ll have to take my word for it; it was much prettier the night before. If you want to see other pictures of nicely presented duck flesh, do a search. The web is littered with ‘em. Then, come back here for something really delicious, a bit showy for your guests, and quite easy to do.

Basically, this is a riff on the classic canard a l’orange. The addition of some sweet pickled chipotles adds a spicy, fragrantly smoky character to the dish that plays wonderfully with the orange sauce, without overwhelming the wonderful taste of the duck.

You can use mallards or teals, or whatever your hunting friends can be talked into bringing over. (Thanks, Norbert!) Whatever duck you choose, the key is to not overcook it. Read more…»