Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

I would like to thank my Blogcritics Editor Caitlin for choosing to tag my new article as an Editor’s Pick. It means a lot as this week’s article is an awfully personal affair.

In conjunction with the article I am glad to announce that from now on all ingredients used in the production of dishes on LC will be sustainable, organic, and seasonal. I wanted to mention it this one time, because I will not constantly write it on every post. This only applies to when I cook. I never have, nor ever will, censor any material graciously donated by a guest poster. Those of you that have guest posted know that I extend Carte Blanche.  Here is the breakdown.

Dairy products – organic
Produce – organic & seasonal
Poultry - cage-free & organic
Beef – grass-fed & organic
Seafood – sustainable only

For more comprehensive insights into my thought process please check out my article on BC…

Sending Out An SOS: Sustainable Organic Seasonal

Guest Post Spotlight

Today I am honored to welcome Deana from Lostpastremebered. She is a historian, cook, and fabulous writer. Recently she joined our team at Blogcritics and has already made her mark with some awesome articles. Here is the link to her Author's Page. I have thoroughly enjoyed following Lostpastremembered as it offers great food and history. What more do you want? Please check out her blog and sign up to follow her fantastic posts.


Hello, I'm Deana from Lostpastremembered. Many thanks to Lazaro for asking me to guest blog on his wonderful Lazaro Cooks site. I am so impressed by the way he pulls all of us together and introduces us all to new bloggers we may not have known. He is a bit of a Matchmaker, isn’t he? I decided I would share something unusual but very delicious with his readers. It is one of my favorite recipes and I threw in a little history too!


Ancient Romans used Lavender to scent their baths and the word lavender comes from the late Latin, lavandarius, from lavare to wash. Lavender is actually a member of the mint family that grows in Europe, India, Africa and Arabia as well as the US. I just love it. I love the freshness in the scent of the leaves and flowers and I love the flavor it adds to food. I know many of you will find it odd to think of it as a spice and not a perfume, but it is a regular addition to the blend herbs de Provence. It is used in many dishes both sweet (mmm blueberrys, chocolate) and savory (game, cheeses).

Queen Elizabeth I

The English love lavender. Queen Elizabeth always had a lavender conserve on her table and drank lavender tea for her migraines. A recipe for the conserve was given in The Queen’s Closet Opened in 1655: "Take the flowers being new so many as you please and beat them with three times their weight of white sugar after the same manner as rosemary flowers; they will keep one year."

Nicholas Culpepper

In 1653, Nicholas Culpepper in his Complete Herbal had a recipe for Spiritus Lavendula compositus Matthiæ
: Take of Lavender flowers one gallon, to which pour three gallons of the best spirits of wine, let them stand together in the sun six days, then distil them with an Alembick [still] with this refrigeratory.

I came across a recipe in Food & Wine 5 years or so ago for meatballs with lavender. It was love at first bite. I made it for the first time when I had a friend’s business partner over for dinner and wanted to make something unusual since he told me he had an adventurous palate. Lavender meatballs? For eons, French shepherds have grazed their flocks on lavender fields to scent the meat and milk of their sheep with the delightful herb… adding it after the fact is not that big a stretch. And for these meatballs, it wasn’t just the lavender it was also the lemon zest and fennel and red wine that made these something special. When I don’t have lamb handy I make it with ground turkey and the result is delicious. Did I forget to tell you about the Arugula pesto?

It was a brilliant success. The flavors were spectacular together.


Based on a recipe from Food & Wine Serves 4-6

1 pound ground lamb
¼ pound ground pork
(OR 1 ¼ pound ground dark meat turkey instead of lamb and pork)
½ medium onion, minced
2 T of dry red wine
1-2 T vin cotto* (optional)
1 tablespoon minced parsley
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
½ teaspoon crushed lavender
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 6-ounce bunch of arugula, roughly chopped plus extra for serving
½ cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup cooked fava beans or peas (optional)
1 ¼ pounds fresh tagliarini or ½ pound dry whole wheat spaghetti

*vin cotto is a reduced wine that is sweet with a deep full flavor

In a bowl, mix the meat with the onion, wine, parsley, zest, thyme, fennel, lavender and red pepper. Add one-third of the garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Roll the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

In a very large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the meatballs and cook over moderately high heat, turning frequently, until browned, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until no trace of pink remains. Transfer to a plate.

In a food processor, puree the arugula with the almonds, 1/2 cup of Parmesan and the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and garlic. Scrape the pesto into a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta; transfer it to bowl. Toss the pasta with the pesto and 1/2 cup of the cooking water; add more water if the sauce is dry. Serve with the meatballs and more Parmesan and olive oil.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Basque Calamari

Welcome to Pescatarian Tuesday

I know you are expecting a vegetarian dish on Tuesday, but I thought I would switch things up and highlight our friends who live off the sea. This dish was inspired by one of the greatest chefs of all time and the Chef of the Century in France…Joel Robuchon.

Squid is a wonderful protein to cook. They have tentacles, and both the bodies and the tentacles are eaten; I do not serve the heads. Clean the squid thoroughly inside the body or the tube as it called. Outside of the tube are these two wing-looking things, cut those off. Now, slice the tubes into 1/3 inch wide rings, or thicker if you’d like. The tentacles are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like to dice them and serve them in a sauce.

Espelette pepper is a beloved chili pepper from the Basque region of France. It is not exactly cheap but you can find it online. This dish comes together through the herbs and clam juice producing an amazing broth to compliment the squid. Mission figs add a final unexpected sweet contrast. I used capellini pasta which I think works perfect here; however feel free to substitute your favorite pasta shape. This course could even work great with rice.

Basque Calamari

For the Squid:
1 lb cleaned squid
Tubes – cut into rings
Tentacles – diced

For the Broth:
2 tbs olive oil
1 red bell pepper – diced
1 white onion – diced
4 cloves garlic – sliced thin on mandoline
1 leek – (white and light green parts only) – sliced thin on mandoline
4 vine ripened tomatoes – peeled & diced

Fresh Herb Bundle – tied together with butchers twine

8 oz clam juice
Vinagre de Jerez – Spanish Sherry vinegar
2 bay leaf
Fleur de Sel
Espelette pepper

Keep the squid cold in the refrigerator. In a saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the leeks and garlic cook for 2 minutes.

Turn heat to low. Add the clam juice, tomatoes, herb bundle, and bay leaf. Season with sea salt and Espelette pepper. Add vinegar to taste and acidity level desired. Add the squid rings and tentacles. Gently simmer for 35 minutes.

Cook the capellini pasta to al dente. Cut the Mission figs into quarters.

To Plate:

1. Using a carving fork twirl the pasta into a neat ball.

2. Plate in the center of the bowl

3. Generously spoon the broth over the pasta

4. Add some of the squid

5. Top with some of the Mission figs

6. Garnish with thyme flowers and edible flowers

Lastly, weeks ago my blogger friend Dawn at The Alternate Wife posted about a daring haircut she had back in the day.  Well, for the last few weeks I have been rummaging everywhere trying to find this of my favorites!

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Skirt Steak & Chimichurri Salad

Welcome to Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday

I get annoyed every year when people wax poetic about “Grilling Season.” Mostly because I cannot have a grill, the joys of condo living. So for us unfortunate souls we must be able to cook meat beautifully in the kitchen. Skirt steak, or Churrasco, is a wonderful cut of meat. There are a two skirt steak cuts that come from the diaphragm of cattle, the outside skirt and the inside skirt.

The Inside skirt is a more uneven piece of meat, smaller, and less expensive. The Outside skirt is the more appealing of the two, more uniform in size, and thus more expensive. Skirt steak is a favorite choice cut of meat in South America, predominately in Argentina, and Uruguay where red meat consumption is quite high.

Tough cuts of meat have long muscle fibers that tenderize through extensive cooking. Skirt steak cannot be cooked for long so it must be cut against the grain to shorten those muscles. The marinade with the beer and fresh herbs imparts a lot of flavor to the meat. Alcohol does not tenderize, cooking or cutting tenderize, so always cook any alcohol before marinating. Raw alcohol “cooks” the exterior of meat preventing the meat from fully absorbing the flavors of the marinade.

Chimichurri is a green sauce condiment and marinade used in Argentina, Uruguay, Central America, the United States and by extension in the 305. Here I decided to highlight it two ways; first making the original sauce and then creating an herb salad inspired by the ingredients that make up the sauce. Garlic chips make a wonderful crunchy garnish, while Mission figs add a sweet touch.

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Salad

For the Skirt Steak:

6 savory sprigs
6 thyme sprigs
3 culantro sprigs
2 bay leaf
½ tbs black peppercorns
3 garlic cloves – (smashed and skin left on)
16 oz Killian’s Irish Red
½ cup cane sugar

Four 6-ounces trimmed outside skirt steaks
Fleur de Sel
Onion powder
Black pepper
Canola oil
2 tbs unsalted butter

Combine the marinade ingredients in a saucepot. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature. In a glass bowl, place the steaks and cover with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge overnight.

Remove the meat from the marinade. Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Discard marinade. Pat dry the steaks with paper towel. Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a heavy bottom pan, heat the canola oil over high heat. Season the steaks with sea salt and black pepper.  Add to the pan and brown the steak on the first side. Flip the steaks and add the butter to the pan. Baste the steak with the butter as you brown the second side. Transfer the steak to the oven and cook for 8 minutes for medium rare. Remove the steaks to a wire rack to rest for 8 minutes.

For the Chimichurri Sauce:
1 cup Olive oil
2 limes juiced
2 elephant garlic cloves
2 shallots
Flat leaf parsley

Note: All herbs are fresh. Quantities at the discretion of the cook.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until pureed. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes for flavor to meld. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

For the Garlic Chips:
Elephant garlic cloves
Cold milk
Canola oil

Slice the garlic cloves as thin as possible on a mandoline. In small saucepan, cover the garlic slices with cold milk. Bring to the boil. Drain the garlic in a strainer and rinse under cold water. Heat the oil to 300 F. Pat dry the garlic slices with paper towel. Fry the garlic slices until golden brown. Drain the garlic chips on paper towel.

Note: These garlic chips can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days.

For the Chimichuri Herb Salad:
Flat Leaf Parsley
Red Bell Pepper – (sliced thin on the mandoline)
Mission Figs
Garlic Chips

For the Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:
Olive Oil
Sherry Vinegar
Organic Honey
Dijon Mustard
Sea salt
Black pepper

Combine in a glass bowl. Whisk vigorously to emulsify.

To Plate:

1. Center the herb salad on the plate

2. Spoon some of the mustard vinaigrette

3. Top with the mission figs, red bell pepper, and garlic chip

4. Slice the steak across the grain

5. Plate the steak

6. Season with sea salt, smoked paprika, marjoram, black pepper

7. Add the Chimichuri Sauce

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

No new BC article this week. Dude needed a break! We will be back next with another new article.

Now on to a topic that is causing much anguish in the Lazaro Cooks! household, Audi’s vanity. I was not so subtlety informed on Tuesday that it had been an unacceptable number of posts since his last appearance on the blog. That his loyal “Fans” missed him.

What a crock?! Can you believe this cat?! I don’t know what is worse; Audi’s out of control ego, or me giving in to his terrorist like demands?! You decide.

He's sleeping there, hamper be damned!

Guess he didn't like Pop's camera skills...He tried taking it by force!

Okay, that is enough Audi...

Guest Post Spotlight

It is my great pleasure to introduce Sam from My Carolina Kitchen. I have very much enjoyed reading her wonderful blog, which is a treasure-trove of great information. Not only does Sam produce fantastic dishes, but she has a way with words and a lovely writing style. Please check out My Carolina Kitchen, You’ll be incredibly glad you did.

Gazpacho with a tropical twist

I am honored that Lazaro has asked me to be the guest blogger for today. Since Lazaro and Nancy share the hosting, I thought it might be fun to make a soup that would suit both of their tastes. I chose gazpacho, but decided to garnished it with a tropical twist – mango. After all, Lazaro does live in south Florida.

You may think that the only time to make gazpacho is when local heirloom tomatoes are at their peak at the farmer’s market. But if the only tomatoes you can find are plum ones, don’t let that stop you from making this healthy and delicious soup. Plum tomatoes work perfectly for gazpacho. From time to time I’ve played around with the ingredients, used different vinegars - sherry, rice, balsamic or combinations, purchased different colored sweet peppers, substituted V-8 for the tomato juice, added a fresh jalapeno for heat, and used croutons as a garnish, but so far I seem to come back to this particular recipe.

I say so far, because I get bored easily and am always looking for new twists on old favorites. I’ve seen three other gazpacho recipes that sound intriguing: one with pineapple as a base, one with mango, and one with watermelon. I’m curious. Have you ever made gazpacho with these ingredients and did you like the results?

Chunky Gazpacho with a tropical twist

Adapted from “At Blanchard’s Table” – serves 8

8 plum tomatoes cut into quarters
1 large red bell pepper, seeded & cut into quarters
1 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups tomato juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 mango, peeled and chopped for garnish

Place the tomatoes into a food processor and pulse until very coarsely chopped but not pureed. Remove from the bowl, and repeat with the pepper & cucumber.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, oil, and tomato juice. Add the cayenne, salt, pepper and chopped dill to the vinegar mixture. Add the chopped vegetables and minced onion and mix well. Serve very cold, garnished with sprigs of fresh dill and chopped mango.

For food, culinary adventures and travel, you have an open invitation to stop by My Carolina Kitchen anytime and say hello. Again, I want to thank Lazaro for inviting me today.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Eggplant Parmigiano Concept Dish

Welcome to Vegetarian Tuesday

If you are a regular reader of my work you know that I love playing with food. Deconstructing food is my favorite thing to do in the kitchen. Taking a dish that is well known and rethinking it. Today I wanted to work with eggplant parmesan.

This Italian classic is basically breaded and fried eggplant baked in a tomato sauce with mozzarella and parmesan cheese. I wanted to keep the original components but apply different cooking methods to achieve a lighter finished product.

The star of the show is of course the eggplant. Here I made an eggplant confit which is slow cooked in olive oil and spices. The tomato component is in an oven-roasted beefsteak tomato topped with Italian breadcrumb, Parmigiano Reggiano, and fontina cheese.

Lastly, the base of the dish is sautéed Candy Cap mushrooms with shallots. I received some dried Candy Caps and Portuguese Flor de Sal sea salt from Marx Foods, a top notch gourmet online retail shop.

As you eat through the course hopefully you get the sense of eating eggplant parmesan, but in a much different and lighter package.

Eggplant Parmigiano Concept Dish

For the Eggplant Confit:
2 medium eggplants – (washed and cut into ½ inch thick slices)
½ cup olive oil
2 shallots – minced
2 tbs coriander seeds – crushed
½ tbs cane sugar
½ cup Riesling wine
2 sprigs savory
1 tsp Meyer lemon juice

In a braising pan, heat olive oil over low heat. Add the shallots, coriander seeds, sugar, and a pinch of Flor da sal. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring with a wooded spoon. Add the wine, lemon juice, and savory. Stir well. Add the eggplant slices. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.  Remove the eggplant to a wire rack to drain any excess oil.

For the Beefsteak Tomatoes:
Beefsteak tomatoes
Fontina cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice the tomatoes into ½ inch slices. Lay each slice on a sheet pan and season with sea salt, marjoram, and oregano.  Top with the Italian breadcrumbs, Parmigiano Reggiano and fontina cheese. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

For the Candy Cap Mushrooms:
1 oz dried Candy cap mushrooms - reconstituted
Flor de Sal
White pepper
Unsalted butter
White wine vinegar

Put mushrooms in a non-reactive bowl. Pour boiling water to cover mushrooms. Allow to sit for 20 minutes until tender. Strain the mushrooms. Reserve the mushroom water for a nice flavorful stock base. Pat dry with paper towels. 

In a sauté pan, add 2 tbs unsalted butter and brown the mushrooms. Add the shallot and a dash of vinegar, cook for 1 minute. Season with flor de sal and white pepper.

For the Garnish:
Arugula leaves
Oak leaf
Edible flowers
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Lightlt season the arugula, oak leaf, and flowers with some olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

To Plate:

1. Center the candy cap mushroom saute in the center of the plate.
2. Top with the eggplant confit
3. Then the roasted tomato
4. Garnish with arugula and edible flowers
5. Swirl some olive oil on the plate

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Guiso de Maiz & Miami-Style Corn Fritters

Welcome to Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday

I love my father, he is one of the nicest people you ever want to meet, but he is not a cook. With that said, the old man has his few courses he prepares that he is particularly proud of. One of these is called, Guiso de Maiz, a rustic Cuban corn stew. Since it is Father’s Day, I thought it perfect to highlight this wonderful stew.

Florida sweet corn is one of the best crops my state produces. June marks the end of the Florida sweet corn season until August. There is nothing better than cutting the kernels fresh off a cob. Traditionally this stew is made with tomato, I omit it. Mostly because I love the sweet subtle flavor of fresh corn combined with Vinagre de Jerez, or Spanish Sherry vinegar and that is enough acid.

Calabaza or West Indian pumpkin is another important component of the dish. You find this used extensively in Caribbean cuisine and by extension in Miami. Traditionally, the stew is served chunky and rustic. Well that’s not my style. In my cuisine I puree and strain 95% of my soups, stews and sauces. I prefer my guests to enjoy silky mouthful after silky mouthful.  The garish for the soup is diced Calabaza, sweet corn, browned pancetta, and fresh culantro.

I had so much magnificent corn in my kitchen that I decided to make Frituras de Maiz or Miami-style corn fritters. Check them out after the stew. Yeah, this post was pretty corny…no doubt!

Guiso de Maiz

2 tbs grape seed oil
4 oz chorizo – diced- (casing removed)
2 leeks – (white and light green parts only)
1 roasted red bell pepper – diced
2 shallots – minced
3 tbs Vinagre de Jerez – Spanish Sherry Vinegar
8 cups vegetable stock – recipe below
1 boniato – diced
1 cup Calabaza – (peeled & diced)
8 large ears corn, kernels removed – 4 cups
Sea salt & white pepper

Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook till browned. Add the leek, roasted red pepper, and shallots. Cook until vegetables are tender – 6 minutes. Add the vinegar, veggie stock, boniato, and calabaza. Reduce the heat to low. Cover with parchment lid and cook for 20 minutes

Add the corn. Season with sea salt & white pepper. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup completely. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper.

For the Garnish:
Sweet corn kernels
Fresh Culantro - chopped

In a sauté pan brown the pancetta. Add the diced calabaza and cook for 3 minutes. Add the corn and cook for 2 minutes.

To Plate:
1. Mound the garnish of pancetta, calabaza, and sweet corn in the center of the bowl.
2. Sprinkle with chopped culantro
3. Pour the stew around the garnish.

Vegetable Stock
1/2 pound leeks – (white and light green parts only) - chopped
½ pound yellow onions – chopped
¼ pound of carrots – peeled and chopped
1 fennel bulb – trimmed & chopped
¼ cup canola oil
2 bay leaf
3 sprigs of thyme
1 large bunch of marjoram

Chop all the vegetables in a food processor. In a stockpot, cook vegetables in canola oil over medium-low heat for 8 minutes. Add the bay leaf, thyme, marjoram, and enough water to cover. Simmer for 50 minutes. Skim frequently to remove impurities. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Note: Freeze any leftover stock immediately for later use.

Frituras de Maiz:

2 cups fresh corn kernels
2 tbs AP flour
½ tsp Fleur de Sel
3 organic eggs
1 tbs unsalted clarified butter
Corn oil

Puree the corn in a food processor. In a glass bowl, combine the corn puree, flour, and fleur de sel. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix well. Add the clarified butter. Mix well to completely combine.

Heat the corn oil in a heavy bottom pan to 350 F. Using 2 spoons shape the fritters to your desired shape. Drop into the oil and fry till crisp and golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Pat down with paper towel to remove as much excess oil as possible.

Lime Salt
1/4 cup Fleur de Sel
Grated zest of 1 lime

Combine the salt and lime zest in a bowl. Mix well to incorporate. Leftover salt can be frozen for later use.

Whipped Chive Crème Fraiche
½ cup crème fraiche
½ bunch chive – chopped fine

In a glass bowl, whip together the crème fraiche to a desired consistency. DO NOT OVERWHIP! Gently fold in the chopped chives.

To Plate:
1. Assemble corn fritters on a plate.
2. Spoon a dollop of whipped chive crème fraiche on each fritter
3. Sprinkle some of the lime salt
4. Garnish with fresh chervil

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

My friend Natasha from 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures is hosting a great recipe contest.  She is giving away 4 Magic Bullets.  They are wonderful kitchen gadgets useful for doing quick and easy prep work.  Submit your favorite snack recipe.  Hop over to her blog to get all the pertinent information.  The contest closes FRIDAY JUNE 18, 2010.  I have already submitted my entry.

This week I have 3 Blogcritics Articles to promote.

1. If you watch the show Treme, then check out Kate's great review Treme - Wish Someone Would Care

2. Deana from lostpastremembered wrote the interesting piece All the World's a Blog & A Great Chocolate Cake is Found

3. Yours truly penned Ceviche: Fish As Cocktail

Guest Post Spotlight

I am honored to welcome Vanessa from Coffee and pie.  This wonderful blog is written the talented Vanessa, a British girl, who has been living in Berlin, Germany for the last three years.  Before that she lived in France in Annecy, Lyon, and Mulhouse.  This is a very wordly blog dealing with travel, photography, books, films, and her passion Baking.  By that I mean food preperation not "baking."  Anyway, she is one of best writers and photographers you will find on the blogosphere.  Go over and sign up to follow this wonderful blog Coffee and pie.

Although I like to think of myself as straightforward, in many ways I am a person of contradictions.

I’m not much of an early riser but not exactly a night owl either as sleeping in always makes me feel guilty about missing the morning light.

I’m a language teacher but dislike the idea of taking courses myself and prefer to learn alone.

I pride myself on having good taste in books and films but listen to the cheapest kind of music.

I grew up in a small village but only really feel comfortable in the anonymity of a big city.

I’m one of the most organised people as far as time management is concerned but also one of the messiest you’ll ever meet.

For years, my great passion was mountains. They became like old friends I could pick out on the horizon on walks and I couldn’t imagine my life without them, yet I now live in one of the flattest areas far from the Alps.

Perhaps though, it’s not so surprising that I ended up in Berlin since it too is a place of contradictions, the divided city. To the untrained eye, it seems modern and bursting with change yet blink again and you’ll find traces of the past springing up everywhere. It’s a place where old meets new, a vast building site that may never be finished as the writer Döblin once described it. It’s a capital city with no real centre since each area considers itself separate and unique from the others. I love the fact that you find everything here; travel just a few stops on the suburban train and it’s like stepping into another world.

Last week, I took a trip back to Sans Souci palace in Potsdam, a place where I first went on my first visit to Berlin back in the summer of 2006. I remember the heat and humidity of that day not so different from how it was last week. Already early in the morning, there was a kind if stickiness in the air as groups of tourists made their way around the park under a cloudless sky. I opted for the shade of a bench under the gaze of the white statues which resisted the sun’s rays. I thought back to past summers when I used to spend all day here reading but this time was content to explore different corners like the church tower reflected in the mirrored surface of the lake or the vast array of flowers bursting into bloom. I thought about how much time has passed since my first visit, how it was to see Berlin through the eyes of an outsider, something I cannot imagine now. I long to return here when the leaves have turned to a deep gold or the avenues are buried under a blanket of snow.

(In the park of Sans Souci palace in Potsdam)

(the grave of Frederick the Great. Apparently, he encouraged people to grow potatoes to ward off famine).

(Apricots on the market in the Dutch quarter of Potsdam)

To finish with, I’ll leave you an American recipe that’s also a bit of a contradiction since no-one can decide whether it’s a pie or a cake. I’d been wanting to make it for years but always felt intimidated by the crème patisserie and the idea that it would all be too heavy but it’s actually easy and amazingly light on your tongue. The only thing I regret is that I waited so long to find that out.

Boston Cream Pie (from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess)

(My Boston cream pie)

For the sponge cake
225g unsalted butter, very soft
225g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g flour
25g cornflour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3-4 tablespoons milk

2 x 21cm sandwich tins (around 5cm deep), greased and lined

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour in between each one so the mixture doesn’t curdle. Then fold in the flour, cornflour and baking powder until you have a nice smooth mixture, adding a little milk if needed.

3. Divide the mixture equally between the tins and bake for around 25 minutes or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in their tins for around 10 mins before placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.

For the crème patisserie
125ml milk
125ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
50g caster sugar
15g plain flour

1. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan until almost boiling then remove from the heat, cover it and leave it to stand for 10 minutes.

2. In large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until creamy then beat in the flour. Add this egg mixture to the warm milk along with the vanilla essence. Pour back into a saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens. Remove from the heat then leave to cool by tearing off some greaseproof paper, wetting it and placing it on the surface of the cream in the bowl so you don’t get a skin. Please don’t place it in the fridge as apparently, it does strange things to the texture.

For the chocolate ganache
150ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate

1. Warm the cream, vanilla extract, butter and chopped chocolate in a pan until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

To assemble everything when cool, place four strips of greaseproof paper on the plate on which you’re going to serve the cake to make a square. Sandwich the cakes together with the cream, the pour the chocolate icing over the top of the cake so you have a nice thick layer that runs down the sides. When everything’s set, remove the paper so you have a perfect cake on a drip free plat

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Quick and Healthy Tempeh Sloppy Joes

When I think back on my childhood, there are a few meat dishes that I really miss. Among these are Sloppy Joes. My three sisters and I loved "SloJoes" ... mmm, the sweet tomato sauce and soft, warm hamburger buns really bring back good memories.

Fast forward to adulthood, ground beef Sloppy Joes are not in the cards for me anymore, as I have become aware of the unhealthy, unsanitary state of factory-farmed ground beef and the immoral prospect of killing animals for my own gluttonous pleasure and coronary demise.

Luckily, I can have my Sloppy Joes and eat them too. I looked high and low for a non-meat Sloppy Joe recipe and created one that rivals, if not surpasses, recipes using real animal flesh. I like serving these Sloppy Joes on a soft multi-grain bun with a side salad or corn on the cob.

Here is the recipe:


1 8 oz. package tempeh, cubed (I prefer the soy kind)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tbsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black ground pepper
2 tbsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional)

Steam tempeh for 10 minutes in a steamer basket placed on top of a pot filled with water. Once the tempeh gives off a nutty aroma, after 10 minutes, it's ready. Transfer to a bowl and crumble it.

In a large-size saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and saute onion until translucent. Add bell pepper an tempeh, and saute for a few minutes more, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Add tomato sauce, chili powder, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and hot sauce (if using). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes longer.


The first time I bought tempeh, I never thought that I would like it ... but I had to try it at least. I thought it looked weird and couldn't imagine how it could possibly be made to taste good. Since I had already bought the tempeh, I went ahead and made my first tempeh dish. To my surprise, my first attempt at cooking tempeh was a total success, and even my omnivore husband liked it ... and he doesn't like a lot of things. Since then, I have sought out tempeh recipes to try and even created some of my own.

The trick to cooking tempeh is to steam the tempeh, as noted above, crumble it, and then cook it with flavorful spices and sauces, since it really is a great vessel for flavor. To give the tempeh a better texture, I lightly fry the tempeh with a little canola oil and onion before I incorporate other ingredients. Tempeh also absorbs a good amount of water, not as much as rice or pasta, so be aware of keeping that water balance.

Nutritionally, tempeh is very nutritious, especially the one made from soybeans. Soybeans are regarded as equal in protein quality to animal foods. Just four (4) ounces of tempeh provides 41.3% of the Daily Value (DV) for protein for less than 225 calories and only 3.7 grams of saturated fat. Plus, the soy protein in tempeh tends to lower cholesterol levels, while consuming protein from animal sources tends to raise them. In addition, four (4)ounces of tempeh provides 23.5% of the DV for riboflavin, 21.9% of the DV for nature's blood vessel relaxant, magnesium, and 72.5% of the DV for manganese and 30.5% of the DV for copper, trace minerals that serve various physiological functions.

In additional, tempeh provides beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and platelets, stabilizes blood sugar, promotes gastrointestinal health, treats menopausal symptoms and lowers the incidence of prostate cancer.

So, try tempeh if you haven't. Who knows ... you might like it and improve your health quite a bit in the process with this super-healthy meat alternative.


Nancy, a.k.a. The Vegan Voice

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Linguini with Short Rib Ragu & Avocado & Feta Shortcake

Welcome to Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday

It is clear that we live in a “30 minutes meals” society. What a sad statement.  In my opinion, cooking is a philosophy, a way of live; not a recipe or chore. Dishes that require longer cooking times are succulent, complex, and have depth of character. The process requires the cook to think and contemplate technique to develop a finished product that elevates a humble ingredient…in this case the short rib. What it really does is separate the cooks from the posers.

I love to use short ribs to make my ragu, or meat sauce. The advantage of using the short ribs is in the bone. Bones are filled with collagen that, when cooked, breaks down and produces gelatin. Marrow gives you superb flavor and gelatin thickens up the sauce. When making a good ragu you should never allow the liquid to boil rapidly, hence the long cooking time. This small step helps the cook using short ribs extract as much gelatin from the bones as possible to enrich the sauce. Moreover, not allowing the sauce to boil minimizes the release of impurities the bones.

Cooks Tip:  Make this ragu 24 hours before serving. This does two things, first as the ragu sits in the fridge; the fat solidifies at the top, making it very easy to skim off. Thus a leaner finished product. Second, braises get better with age, as the flavors amalgamate even more.

My Argentine friend brought me two magnificent wines from a recent trip to her homeland. Malbec, a full bodied red wine, I used in the braising liquid. The second wine was a Torrontes white. This wine I used in the making of the linguini.

Tomato and basil is a natural match. To compliment the ragu I made a basil puree. Fresh basil from my brother’s garden blended with olive oil, champagne vinegar, fleur de sel, and a touch of white pepper.

The final component on the dish is a tasty Brie Frito. Brie cheese breaded in day old Italian breadcrumbs, fried in peanut oil, and seasoned with fresh marjoram. If you have yet to try fried Brie, it is amazing.

Linguini with Short Rib Ragu

For the Short Rib Ragu:

5 oz Bacon
1 large onion – diced
1 fennel bulb – diced
2 shallots – minced
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 bay leafs
2 beef stock cubes
750 ml Malbec Wine - Argentina
Half & half

2 lbs Hereford Beef Short Ribs
Wondra Flour
Sea salt
Black pepper
Smoked Paprika
Safflower oil

Season the short ribs with flour, sea salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika. Heat the safflower oil in a large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Brown the short ribs on all sides. Remove to a rack to rest.

In a sauce pot, sauté 5 oz of bacon. Add the onion and fennel bulb. Cook for 7 minutes to soften. Add the shallots and garlic. Make a well in the center and place the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste to reduce some of the raw acidity. Deglaze with the Malbec wine. Drop in the bay leafs and beef stock cubes. Add the short ribs to the pot. Add enough water to completely cover the beef. Lightly tent with aluminum foil.

DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL. Barely simmer for 8 hours. Stirring every 30 minutes to avoid anything from sticking to the bottom and burning. As the liquid reduces, replace with water. Skim frequently to remove all impurities that rise to the top. The finished product is a concentrated beef flavor; you can cut it with some half & half.

For the Basil Puree:
3 packed cups fresh basil
¾ cup Canola oil
Champagne vinegar
Fleur de sel
White pepper

In a blender, combine basil, oil, a dash of champagne vinegar, pinch of salt and white pepper. Blend till smooth.

For the Brie Frito:
Brie cheese
AP Flour
Organic egg
Italian bread – (crust removed)
Peanut oil
Freshly chopped marjoram

Pulse Italian bread in food processor to make fine crumbs. Set up your breading station, in separate bowls, flour, eggs, bread crumbs. Heat the peanut oil to 325 F.

To Plate:

1. Using a carving fork, twirl some Torrontes linguini into a loose ball. Center on the plate

2. Spoon some of the basil puree on the plate

3. Generously spoon the short rib ragu over the pasta. 

4. Plate the Brie frito.

When we conceptualized the Quickies Cooking Challenge and the ingredients of Avocado & Feta Cheese were chosen, I immediately thought, Dessert. The dish is composed of pound cake, avocado sauce, feta cream, orange agave syrup and a Pirouline wafer.

Avocado & Feta Shortcake

For the Pound Cake:

1 Stick unsalted butter
½ cup Granulated sugar
3 Organic eggs
2 Organic egg yolks
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tbs Baking powder
4 Drops Rose Water – (Using a dropper)
1 tbs Havana Club Anejo Reserva rum

Leave butter 30 minutes at room temperature to soften. Preheat the oven to 370 F. Line the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with parchment paper. In a glass bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar. Add the eggs, yolks, rose water, and rum. Beat to mix. Add the flour and baking powder. Stir carefully to incorporate entirely. Bake for 40 minutes.

Note: Slip a knife into the center of the cake. If it emerges clean and dry…It’s cooked!

For the Avocado Sauce:
1 Avocado – (chopped)
Organic Honey
Orange Juice
Cane Sugar
Sea Salt
1 tsp Water

Note: The base of the sauce is one avocado. From there the quantities of the rest of the ingredients are up to the palate of the cook. More sour, more sweet, etc.

Put all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add more water if needed to adjust consistency.

For the Feta Cheese Cream:
4 oz Feta Cheese
4 oz Crème Fraiche
4 tbs unsalted butter
Superfine Sugar

Note: The quantity of superfine sugar is at the discretion of the cook’s palate depending on how sweet you want it.

Leave the feta, crème fraiche and butter 30 minutes at room temperature to soften. In a glass bowl, using a hand mixer, mix together the feta cheese, crème fraiche and butter. Add some superfine sugar, mix to incorporate. Continue to add sugar till desired sweetness is achieved

For the Orange Agave Syrup:
4 tbs Organic agave syrup
2 tbs Orange Juice
Pinch of Sea salt

In a glass bowl, whish the ingredients together. Add more OJ to adjust consistency as needed. The final product should not be too loose

To Plate:

1. Cut rounds of pound cake using a biscuit cutter

2. Spread layers of feta cream

3. Pipe some avocado sauce on top

4. Swirl some orange agave syrup on the plate

5. Top with the Pirouline wafer

Note: The Pirouline is the only part of this dish I did not make.

That’s it for now…till we exchange a few words again…Peace!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

This week's BC Article is up...Thank You Caitlin!  2 articles to pimp today.

This first article you REALLY want to check out,  it is interesting and well-written.  Kate Shea Kennon is one of the best writers on BC, not only does she write fabulous articles about cocktails, she also is a tremendous reviewer of television shows.  Luckily for us here on LC, she has graciously agreed to  Guest Post in a few weeks.  I cannot wait.  This particular piece is about the search for a cocktail in Berlin, Germany, the city of Bier!

Cocktails in Berlin: Right This Way, Your Table's Waiting

I profiled one of my favorite chefs of all time, Marco Pierre White.  I also included a new dish of mine own creation.  Please check it out...if anything for the's pretty good!

Marco Pierre White: The Mad Genius in the Kitchen

On to this week's Guest Post Spotlight

I am proud to welcome Sarah author of the fantastic blog, All Our Fingers in the Pie.  Sarah is an avid cook, her blog is a treasure-trove of wonderful information and well-written culinary delights.  I was honored that she agreed to guest post as I have thoroughly enjoyed reading All Our Fingers in the Pie.

So get ready to learn something...

Hello to all of you, the Lazaro followers! This is my first time participating in a guest post so I might feel a little stilted. I must say I had no idea I had become so comfortable talking to my own 'group' on my blog.

Actually I blogged for months before realizing I had a group. So one day I added that gadget or widget thingy, whatever it is called. Blew my socks off that people out there were reading me. At first it felt weird, then I felt like I had my own little soap box and then I realized I had found a whole group of new friends. I love this blogging world.

I have no idea how Lazaro and I met but glad we did. I love reading his posts and also meeting all of you through his blog. When he asked me to be a guest, I didn't even have to think. I wasn't sure what to make and then I relaxed back into my own groove and realized that I am inspired by what is in my kitchen.

Pineapple was on sale and I could not resist. Now comes the challenge. What do I do with it? I live alone and all this cooking can sometimes provide way more food than I can manage to eat. So if I am able put it away for a later use, it is a bonus.

The obvious ideas are a fruity salsa, a sorbet or grilled. But I would really like to try something new. And, since I am guest blogging for Lazaro, I would like something somewhat new and exciting.

Scanning through a lot of the same ideas for pineapple finally led me to this one. It was love at first sight. The pineapple was cooked and this means that I can preserve or freeze this in jars for later use.

Actually, I have never thought of pineapple as a blank palette for showcasing flavours until I found this recipe for sambal.

If you plan to preserve the leftover sambal, then do not stir in the cilantro. Set aside the sambal you will be preserving and stir cilantro only into the portion that you will be eating immediately. When you serve the preserves, stir cilantro in at the time of serving it for a fresher taste.

Mahi mahi and pineapple are a match made in a Pacific island heaven. This fish is very firm and is also ideal for grilling on the barbecue. I simply brushed the fish in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then placed it directly on the grill.

I cooked it for about 2 minutes and then moved it to create a nice criss-cross grilling mark. Then I flipped it over and did that again. That was enough time to fully cook the mahi mahi,

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Sambal

In Indonesia the word sambal covers a very wide range of condiments. This one is sweet and spicy.

2 garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 fresh Thai chilis or 3 serranos, minced including seeds
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 pieces ( an inch or more thick) with skin on mahi mahi

Cook garlic and shallots in 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy 12" skillet over medium heat until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chilies and pineapple and cook over moderately high heat and stirring occasionally, until pineapple is softened, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, sugar and salt and sauté sambal, stirring, 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature and then stir in cilantro.

While sambal is cooling, prepare the grill for cooking. If you are using a charcoal grill, open the bottom vents and light charcoal. If using a gas grill, heat on medium. Charcoal fire is medium hot when you can hold your hand for 3 or 4 seconds 5 inches over the coals.

Brush fish all over with remaining oil. Grill skin sides down until skin is crisp, 4 or 5 minutes. Turn over and grill just until fish is cooked through, 4 or 5 minutes more. Serve with sambal.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hearty Breakfast Tofu Scramble

When one thinks of a hearty breakfast, images of eggs, bacon and even steak come to mind, don't they? Well, I've created a breakfast scramble, completely devoid of animal products, that will fill you up and satisfy you without sending you straight to the hospital with blocked arteries. In fact, my Hearty Tofu Scramble has no cholesterol and, per serving, has half of the recommended daily amount of fiber you need every day. You can eat it in the morning, as a filling for a breakfast burrito (try a high fiber tortilla such as Ezekiel's for a bigger fiber punch) or eat it later in the day, with a side of brown rice for a nutritious lunch or dinner.

In this scramble, I use Silken tofu since the texture resembles soft, fluffy eggs, is low in fat, high in protein and takes on the flavor of the accompanying ingredients very well.

Here is the recipe:

1 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped in half moon slices
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cooked Soyrizo
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 14 oz. package Silken tofu (Wildwood brand), 1/2 inch dice
1 cup black beans, cooked
1/2 cup fresh yellow corn, cooked (canned will work also)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin


In a heavy bottom pan, on medium heat, cook onion in canola oil for about two minutes, then add the garlic and cook for about one more minute till onions are soft and translucent. Stir in the Soyrizo and saute for about 1 minute, then add the tomato, salt and cumin and cook for an additional minute. Add the Silken tofu and mix well, cook for 2 minutes. Add the beans and corn and cook for an additional 2 minutes until all of the ingredients are hot and flavors have married.

This quick and simple scramble won't leave you missing any of that heart-clogging stuff one usually associates with the American breakfast. Because this scramble is flavorful, colorful and full of texture and fiber, it will leave you satisfied for hours. A good breakfast accompaniment, besides tortillas, is some type of potato, such as home fries.

I hope you enjoy this scramble. It's a tried and true staple on our breakfast table.

Nancy, a.k.a. The Vegan Voice

Quickies: Morning, Noon & Night Challenge Round-up

A big heartfelt thank you on behalf of Denise and myself to all of our blogger friends that supported us during this endeavor.  The response was awesome.  Countless wonderful creations highlighting avocado & feta cheese.

If you did not have a chance to get involved, I am happy to report that we will be doing this again!  Just have to brainstorm with the talented Denise on another great challenge.

A big thank you to my friend Natasha, the talented 5 star foodie, for inspiring me with her wonderful 5 Star Foodie Makeover!

When I conceived of this idea it was mostly to highlight a wonderful cookbook from a creative and innovative cook.  Please get yourself a copy of Denise's book.  It is truly a gem and would make a magnificent addition to your food library.

I originally thought these two items would make a cool I made one!  I was not able to enter in the contest, but I will post my avocado & feta dessert on this coming Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday.

Check out Denise's blog for the winner and about a tease!  Here's the linkage...

Quickies Cooking Challenge Round-up

Since this is vegetarian Tuesday, here's a quick dish I made over the weekend.  It is as flavorsome as it is indulgent.

Beech Mushrooms,  Heirloom  Tomatoes &  Yukon Gold Mash 

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quickies Challenge Update & Final Call

Thank you so much for everyone who has supported our Quickies Cooking Challenge.  There is still time to enter if you have not done so.

Please click on this link to Denise's Blog Quickies on the Dinner Table where she posted all the entries we have.

If your name is not on that list, and you sent an entry, please contact me via email

We are doing everything possible to avoid leaving anyone out.  That would be the worst.

Quickies on the Dinner Table Contest Entry List

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spiced Yellow Eye Snapper Soup

Quickies: Morning, Noon, & Night Challenge update:  We are down to 2 days.  All entries must be submitted by June 7, 2010.  It's not too late to join in.  There are 2 prizes up for grabs.

Welcome to Lazaro Actually Cooks Saturday

Spiced Yellow Eye Snapper Soup

This soup has a terrific intensity of flavor. The broth is spiced but is not spicy per se. I am kind of a lightweight these days when it comes to spicy food. The older I get my stomach says NO! With that in mind, you can amp up the chilies and take it to another level of heat.

Yellow Eye snapper is abundant around Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. A good friend brought me back some two pound, oil free, Yellow Eyes from a recent fishing trip to the Florida Keys. In keeping with my theme of avoiding waste, every piece of the fish is used. Pan-roasted sea scallops provide a sweet partnership with the spiced soup.

Eating the skin of fish is a wonderful treat. Steamed its quite difficult to eat for the novice, but crispy it's great. The key to crisping the skin is removing as much moisture from the skin as possible. Skin that is too moist will take longer to crisp and overcook the flesh. A great tip is to take the back of a knife and gently squeegee the skin.  Thinly sliced Yukon Gold potatoes serve as a perfect pedestal to keep your crispy skin out of the soup.

Thanks to Natasha's Basil Emulsion, I was inspired to create a tarragon emulsion to crown the scallop.

For the broth:
3 tbs grape seed oil
1 onion - minced
1 leek – (white and light green parts only) – small dice
2 celery stalks – chopped
1 lb Campari tomatoes – (peeled, seeded & chopped)
½ tsp Birds eye chilies
Handful of fresh cilantro – (stalks & leaves)
1 tbs fresh chopped savory
1 cup white wine
Yellow Eye Snapper head, bones, & trimmings
Spanish saffron strands
Sea salt & black pepper

1 Yukon Gold potato - (thinly sliced on the mandoline)

-  Heat the oil in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat.

- Add the onion, leek, & celery. Cook for 6 minutes to soften.

- Season with sea salt & black pepper

- Deglaze with the wine. Reduce until almost dry

- Add the tomatoes, cilantro, chilies, spices, savory& snapper bits

- Pour enough water to cover. Simmer gently for 45 minutes

- Remove the snapper heads & bones.

- Add the Yukon Gold potatoes.  Cook for 7 minutes.

- Remove the potatoes with a spider straner

- Blitz in a blender.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer

- Check for seasoning. Season with salt & pepper if needed.

For the Yellow Eye Snapper fillets & sea scallops:
8 – 1 ½ inch pieces of Yellow Eye Snapper fillets – skin-on
4 – 20/30 ct sea scallops
Olive oil
Sea salt & white pepper
1 tbs unsalted butter

- Remove the seafood 30 minutes from the fridge before cooking

- Pat dry the snapper skin

- Heat 1/8 inch olive oil in a large skillet.  Season the fish with sea salt & white pepper

- Add the snapper fillets skin side down.  Hold down the pieces with a fish spatula for 15 seconds

- Cook for 2 minutes

- Gently turn over and cook for 30 seconds.  Remove to a rack to rest SKIN SIDE UP!

- Add the butter to the pan

- Season the scallops with sea salt & white pepper

- Cook for 1 minute on each side

- Remove to the rack to rest

For the Tarragon Emulsion:
1 cup fresh tarragon
1 tsp organic honey
1 tsp Meyer lemon juice
½ cup walnut oil
Fleur de sel

- Place tarragon, lemon juice, honey, & half the oil, in a blender

- Blend to mix

- Pour the rest of the oil in a slow steady stream and process until thick

- Season with fleur de sel

Yukon Gold Pedestal

To Plate:

- Stack some of the reserved potatoes to make the pedestal

- Top with the sea scallop and roasted snapper fillet

- Place a dollop of tarragon emulsion on the scallop

- Gently pour the broth.

- Garnish with fresh chervil

Here you go...T

That's it for now...till we exchange a few words again...Peace!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blogcritics Article & Guest Post Spotlight Thursday

This week's articles are up...Thank you Lisa! Denise's Article is a wonderful review of an interesting cookbook.  I would check this one out...actually I already did!

Book Review: Cradle of Flavor by James Oseland

My article is a companion piece to my guest post on Tanantha's I Just Love My Apron.  Check it out, if you have absolutely nothing else to do....

A Taste of Cuba in Miami

Now on to our fabulous Guest Post Spotlight.

I am proud to welcome Natasha from 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures. Her cuisine is sophisticated. Her technique flawless. If you do not learn something when you read her blog, please read it again, because you are just not paying attention.

Natasha is on my personal Mount Rushmore of foodies. I would tell you to please visit her blog, but you probably already have. If not, where have you been? Go over there right this instant and sign up to follow her blog. You might end up being her 5000th follower.

Above all I respect her because she is a super-sweet and supportive person. I see her on many of the blog I read, always leaving a comment, and offering encouragement. So, without any more of my lunatic ramblings, I give you the 5 Star Foodie...

Caprese Verrines

The delicious flavors of the Caprese salad shine in these special verrines featuring Mozzarella-Greek Yogurt Cream, Basil Emulsion, and Tomato Granita. Perfectly refreshing, these little appetizers are a wonderful way to start an elegant summer dinner party. All the components can be prepared ahead of time and assembled quickly at the last minute right before the dinner starts.

Ingredients: (4 espresso shot size servings)

2 small to medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1-2 tablespoons chicken stock
1 cup basil
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mozzarella di bufala, chopped
2 tablespoons plain Oikos yogurt


Place tomatoes in a large mixing cup along with chicken stock and blend with immersion blender. Pour into a shallow container and freeze for 30 minutes. Mix with a fork to break up the ice. Repeat a few more times each 20 minutes until completely frozen and flaky.

Place basil, lemon juice, half of the oil, and egg yolk in the mixing cup. Blend with an immersion blender. Pouring the rest of the extra-virgin oil in a thin stream, blend until achieving the consistency of a think emulsion or mayonnaise. Season with salt and chill.

Combine mozarella and oikos yogurt and blend with an immersion blender. Chill.

When ready to serve, fill the bottom half of the espresso shot glass with mozzarella cream, followed by a layer of basil emulsion, and top with tomato granita. Serve immediately

That my friends is technique on another level. My kind of inspirational reimagination of a classic dish. Now take your immersion blender and go check out one of the best blogs on the blogosphere...5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures