Monday, November 23, 2015

Recipe - Squash, Sweet Potato, & Kale Hash

Browsing the internet for side dishes for some rock fish we purchased fresh from the market this weekend, I found a hash recipe that looked really good.  A few modifications to accommodate ingredients in my kitchen produced  a balanced hash that went very well with our rock fish.


1/2 lb. Bacon, Diced
1 Sweet Potato, Large
3 Leeks, Baby
1 Yellow Squash, Large
2 c. Kale
1 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar


(1) Dice sweet potato into 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces.  Bring a pot of water to a boil and add sweet potatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Strain and set aside.

(2) Meanwhile, clean and slice leeks. Clean and dice yellow squash.  Chop and wash kale.

(3) In cast iron skillet over medium heat cook diced bacon for 3-4 minutes.  Add potatoes and constantly mix for another 4 minutes.  Add leeks and squash, cooking for another 4 minutes.

(4) Add kale and incorporate.  Cook until kale is just wilted.  Add red wine vinegar and remove from heat.  Allow to cool and enjoy. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Recipe - Pan Fried Rockfish

A basic recipe that is a staple in my repertoire.

1 Rockfish
2 Tbls. Olive Oil
2 Tbls. Butter Substitute (or Butter)


(1) Clean and fillet rockfish.  Cut fillets into portion sizes.  Score the skin on each fillet.  Salt and pepper each side of the fish.

(2) Heat oven to 350 Degrees F.  Heat olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium high heat.  Add fish to pan, skin side down.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.  Flip fish over.  Add butter substitute (or butter).  Hold pan at an angle and spoon butter substitute over fish for 2 minutes before placing the fish into the oven to finish cooking (approx. 2 minutes).

*Cooking times will vary based on thickness of fish. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Local Grass-Fed Beef - We Scored!

A few years ago, we bought a grass-fed cow.  It required a hefty out-of-pocket cost but overall the meat was cheaper than traditional corn-fed beef from the grocery store and grass-fed beef is healthier, containing higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, less fat, etc.  Unfortunately, the farm from which we bought our last grass-fed cow closed - the farmers moved to Virginia.  So a few months ago, we started the reconnaissance for a new farm.  Browsing the internet and local farmer's markets provided a number of promising leads in the San Diego Vicinity, including De-La-Ranch, Campo Creek Ranch, Watkins Cattle Company, Homegrown Meats, and True Pasture Beef.

Grass-fed beef is sold by the cut (ground beef, filet mignon, ribeye, etc.), share (a predetermined package comprised of inexpensive through expensive cuts), quarter (1/4th the animal), half (commonly referred to as a side of beef), or whole animal.  Each procurement method is progressively less expensive.  For example, grassfed ground beef might cost you $10/lb and a grass-fed Filet Mignon might cost you $25/lb if you buy them individually, whereas you can get a whole animal (including ground beef and filet mignon) for just under $9/lb.  We opted to buy an entire cow.  However, having been through the process before, we knew that our freezer would not hold an entire cow, so we also had to find friends who would split the cow.  Not a problem.

Ultimately, we ended up going with True Pasture Beef after discussing location, pricing, packaging, and delivery with all vendors contacted.  And now, our fridge is full of a few hundred pounds of local grass-fed beef!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Recipe - Cabbage Sofrito

A better description for this dish would be cabbage spread or cabbage dip - not exactly a concept that would get most people excited.  But the transformation of the humble cabbage into this tangy and spicy creation was worth a little name manipulation, so I opted to keep the original name, Cabbage sofrito, which comes from the dishes conception story.  A few weeks ago, I was driving home from running some errands listening to The Splendid Table on NPR when a caller asked what they should do with some leftover vegetable platters.  Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the host of The Splendid Table, suggested that she make a sofrito out of the vegetables to use as a base for soups.  I was not familiar with the term sofrito, which was used to describe a mixture of sauteed finely chopped vegetables and spices.  If it could work for leftover vegetable platters, I reasoned it could work for the abundance of cabbage that was growing in our refrigerator.  The results were surprisingly tasty.  Put on toasted bread w/ parsley spread over top or use as a dip for chips.

Cabbage Sofrito on Toast w/ Parsley

1 Head Cabbage
8 Carrots
1 Large Onion
4 Garlic Cloves
1/4 c. Olive Oil
1/4 c. Rice Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder
1/8 tsp. Cardamum
1/2 tsp. Sumac
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
1/8 c. Brown Sugar, Loose


(1) Blend, food process, or finely chop the cabbage, carrots, and onion.  Simmer over low heat, occasionally stirring until virtually all of the liquid has evaporated, leaving a thickened paste.  Remove from heat and set aside.

(2) Finely chop garlic.  Add oil to large pan and heat on medium/medium high.  Add the garlic and stir around 10 to 15 seconds.  Do not let garlic burn.  Add the thickened cabbage, carrot, and onion paste, and stir to incorporate.  Add vinegar and spices and cook for five minutes.  Remove from heat.  Serve on toast drizzled with olive oil and parsley (and diced heirloom tomatoes if you want some additional freshness).

Racer Crabs - The First Taste

Last weekend at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market we picked up some racer crabs for $5.00 per pound.  Great deal as far as I'm concerned.  However when I got home I couldn't find any information on racer crabs - anywhere.  At first, I thought it might be a variety of dungeonous crab - but this week I asked the vendor if this was a species of dungenous and he advised it wasn't but could only tell me that a famous fish market north of Santa Barbara that sold these under another name.  So for the time being, all I really know about this crab is that it is found close to Santa Barbara in deep water and is closely related to a snow crab (according to the fishermen I bought this from).

Racer crabs are clean and feisty - the husband/wife team we bought from took precautions to keep appendages out of the way of the pincers, which are very sharp (as I learned firsthand later, slicing my thumb deeply while manually trying to crack the shell).  We bought four pounds of crabs, which totaled seven crabs.  As soon as we got home from the market, we threw the crabs in the fridge.  The next morning, I threw the crabs in a steam bath for ten minutes (treating them like blue crab), which was definitely enough time - but probably a hair too long.  

It took about an hour to pick the two crabs (again, she is an expert crab picker) - and we came away with just under a pound of meat, which put us at just under $23 per pound for actual meat (better than box crabs).  The cooked meat, without accoutrement, is sweet and satisfying - on par with snow crab.  The shells were perfect for making a crab stock, which we then used to make an amazing crab bisque.  Picking the meat was fairly comparable to picking blue crabs, a time consuming love afair.  All in all, our first experience with racer crabs was amazing.  I am at a loss as to why these crabs are not more widely available.  Abundant, relatively easy to catch (so we are told) and tasty.

If you have a positive identification on this crab - please let me know.  I'd love to learn more about the fishery and sustainability. 

Recipe - Beef Bone Broth

Ingrid and I bought a grass fed cow last year, butchered and wrapped.  It was a great decision.  We are currently scouting out a new source for buying whole cows, as the one we procured from has since moved to Virginia and I'll post on that in due time.  But in the meantime we have finally eaten enough meat out of the freezer for me to find the heavy box of beef bones.  So it is time for some grass-fed beef bone broth for use in stews, soups, and a myriad of other recipes.  A brief warning - this recipe does not come with exact proportions.


Beef Bones (Approx. 5 lbs)
Onions (2 large)
Carrots (8 large)
Celery (trimmings from one stalk)
Bay Leaves (2)


(1) Place Bones in roasting pan.  Roast at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes.

(2) Remove roasting pan from oven and place on stove (over two burners) on medium/high heat.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cover bones with water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to maintain at a simmer.

(3) Simmer for anywhere between 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain out bones, veg, and fat.  I usually place my stocks in the fridge and remove the layer of fat after it has solidified.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Recipe - Grilled Squid w/ Sumac and Mizuno Salad

An exotic recipe by my standards with sumac, an uncommon spice in the American kitchen, and Mizuna, a green that we never would have explored had it now shown up in our CSA basket.  Sumac is a purple berry with a slightly lemony flavor.  Ingrid and I first ran across sumac while dining in Seattle and were so taken with the flavorful addition to the side dish (roasted corn with butter and sumac), the sumac is now a staple of our spice cabinet.  Mizuna is a peppery green, close in flavor to arugula - a perfect foil for a lemony dressing and seafood.  Master the ingredients and cooking methods and this will become a regular dish on your menu.

Grilling Squid in Strainer in Charcoal Chimney

Grilled Squid:
1 lb. Cleaned Squid
1 - 1/2 tsp. Sumac
4 tbls. Olive Oil

Mizuna Salad

4 c. Chopped Mizuna
4 tbls. Olive Oil


(1) Slice the squid hoods into thin strips.  Place in a bowl with 1 tsp. sumac, 2 tblsp. olive oil, and salt.

(2) Start the grill.  The key to this dish to to have blistering heat.  I used a charcoal chimney, leaving the charcoal in the chimney, and a strainer for this purpose.

(3) Once the charcoal is fiery red, grill the squid in small batches for 1 - 2 minutes per batch until it is all done.   Once off the grill, add the remaining olive oil, sumac, and the juice of 1/2 lemon.

(4) Prepare the salad by combining Mizuna, olive oil, a few tablespoons of lemon juice, and salt.

Grilled Squid w/ Sumac and Mizuno Salad