Friday, August 29, 2014

Lemony Baby Broccoli with Goat Cheese

We've got tons of great fresh organic food in San Francisco. I'm not sure I will fully appreciate it until summer goes and the farmer's markets stay open. What we lack in change of season, we make up for in year round fresh produce!

We've been to the market a few times recently down at Fort Mason on the Bay and have loaded up on leafy greens, peppers and fresh, local meats.

Lemony Baby Broccoli with Goat Cheese
makes 3-4 sides

1 large bunch baby broccoli or broccolini
2 cloves garlic
1/2 lemon (juice + 1 tbsp zest)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup goat cheese (crumbled)

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan heated over medium heat. Add garlic and let cook for 2 minutes.

Add whole baby broccoli pieces to saute pan and add crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and squeeze lemon. Save some of the lemon juice to add to the dish before serving.

Let baby broccoli saute for about 10 minutes. It should still be slightly crisp and not completely limp.

Remove from heat and transfer to a cutting board. Chop up into bite size pieces. Add to a serving bowl and squeeze remaining lemon over broccoli. Add lemon zest and goat cheese. Stir to mix and serve!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pork Shoulder Niçoise

I'm a real sucker for all types of slow cooked pork from a Mexican carnitas version to this Mediterranean inspired version. Trying to come up with summery roasted meat recipes isn't easy, but this one is really bright with lots of fresh ingredients. Make it on a Sunday when you've got some time to hang out around the house.

Pork Shoulder Niçoise
serves 5-6

3 lbs bone in pork shoulder
3 tbsp salt
2 tbsp pepper
2 tbs olive oil
7 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 shallot (minced)
2 large heirloom tomatoes (diced)
1/4 cup olives (with pits)
2 tbsp capers
3 sprigs rosemary
1 lemon (quartered)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium chicken stock

First thing to remember. This recipe does not need a lot of salt because the olives and capers are super salty. Keep that in mind.

Start by taking the meat out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes prior to cooking. Pat the pork thoroughly dry. Cover the pork in a coating of salt and pepper and pat it into the pork so it sticks. 

Heat a Dutch oven with olive oil over medium-high heat. Drop in the pork and let sear on each side for 2-3 minutes so a nice crust developes. Remove pork to a plate.

Lower heat to medium and add the garlic and shallot. Let cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, crushed red pepper flakes and rosemart. Let cook for 5-7 minutes, until tomatoes have softened.

Add white wine and chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add pork back to the liquid. Squeeze 3 of the 4 lemon quarters into the pot and drop them in. Lower heat to as low as your burner will go and cover. You want it to be super low that the liquid barely bubbles. Let cook for 2 hours.

After 2 hours check to see if the meat is falling off the bone and easily pulls apart. Mine took about 2 1/2 hours. Remove meat to a cutting board when ready and remove all fatty pieces and the bone. Mine had a lot of fat which made the meat super flavorful, but is really unpleasant to eat. Pull meat into chunks meat with 2 forks. Don't fully shred it, but make it more like a pot roast.

Return meat to pot with sauce. Let simmer in the sauce for 15 minutes before serving. Squeeze remaining lemon wedge over the whole pot to brighten it up before serving.

Serve alongside crusty bread and a good glass of wine.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Watermelon Fizz

So, watermelon juice/ water is insanely easy to make. I strongly encourage you guys to try it. After seeing watermelon drinks on menus all over San Francisco I decided I had to make my own.

Using 1 small, seedless watermelon gave me an entire quart of water. One watermelon goes a long way. This recipe can be adapted to make a tasty adult beverage for those hot summer days and nights, or keep it simple and make a watermelon fizz for you and the kids.

Watermelon Fizz
makes ~8 glasses

1 small - medium seedless watermelon
1 container sparking water (not flavored)
ice cubes
rosemary sprigs 
simple syrup (optional if watermelon is not very sweet)
Vodka (optional - 1 shot per glass)

Start by removing the rind from the watermelon. Cut the top and bottom off the watermelon so it can sit without rolling around. Cut the rind off so you have one big watermelon ball without and green. 

Cut watermelon up into cubes and pop into a food processor or blender. You might need to work in batches so it doesn't overflow. Pulse until the watermelon is as smooth as it will get. Pour the juice through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Repeat until all watermelon has gone through the food processor and been strained.

You will likely need to help the juice get through the sieve so move it around until only the pulp is left.

At this point, taste the juice. Mine was perfectly sweet and needed no additional sweetener. 

If your watermelon isn't as sweet make some simple syrup. 1/2 cup water mixed with 1/2 cup sugar and bring to a simmer. Let cool. Add a small amount the watermelon juice and taste. Add until it has reached desired sweetness.

To make the watermelon fizz: Add a few small ice cubes, fill 1/2 way with watermelon water and fill the rest with sparkling water. Garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary and a fun straw.

Kick up the fizz by adding a shot of vodka to the ice cubes before adding the watermelon juice. Stir and serve!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Party Snacks: Teriyaki Chicken Skewers with Ponzu Dipping Sauce

This marinade recipe may be familiar as I've used it before on this salmon recipe a few years back. It's my grandma's recipe that my sisters and I grew up loving. When we would drive to see my grandma in Albany, there would undoubtedly be the aroma of either a) meatballs and pasta or b) marinaded chicken with macaroni salad when walked in the door. There was no chance there wasn't food already on the table.

I keep going back to the marinade because it's simple and full of flavor. I stuck with my grandma's recipe by using chicken thighs because they are so juicy and tender when grilled. Just make sure to trim the chicken really well because chicken skin and fat is gross. I'm gagging a little thinking about it.

Teriyaki Chicken Skewers
makes ~10 skewers

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (trim all excess fat and skin)
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
1/2 lemon (juice)
2 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper

for the dipping sauce:
1/4 cup ponzu
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp Mirin
1 green onion (thinly sliced)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Start by trimming all the fat and skin off the chicken. You can buy them without skin, but I find that there is a little too much fat left on for my liking. Once trimmed, cut thighs into thin strips.

In a freezer bag, add soy sauce, minced garlic, ginger, lemon juice and sugar. Don't add the salt and pepper yet. Drop in the chicken strips and seal. Pop in the fridge for 2 hours to marinade.

When ready to serve, take out of fridge 15 minutes before cooking.  Skewer the strips onto wooden skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both side

Crank up the grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Drop the skewers directly on the grill pan and let one side cook for 5 minutes. Turn over and cook for 4 minutes. Watch closely so as not to burn the chicken, but a nice caramelized crust is a good thing! Remove from heat.

As the chicken cooks, whisk together the dipping sauce. Combine ponzu, soy sauce, Mirin, green onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Serve skewers together with the dipping sauce and enjoy at your next party or picnic.

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