Category Archives: Appetizers/Starters

Crazy for Abalone

Red abalone is a locally raised ingredient that is inspiring chefs around the region. 

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in October, 2017.)

Once so common in California that it could be collected at low tide, red abalone — the tastiest member of the species — is now a luxury ingredient not seen on many menus but beloved by those who have tried it. Rich, subtle, creamy, with a whisper of ocean, the meat of this giant sea snail is different from most other seafood. Deliciously so. Continue reading

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Utterly Delicous Albacore Tuna Crudo Recipe

“Crudo” is essentially an Italian way to present pristine raw fish — think sashimi but more interesting and varied — and this recipe is a winner.

Albacore Crudo with Strawberries and Nuoc Cham

This is a simple, absolutely wonderful recipe if you have super-fresh fish and want a quick way to prepare it.  Besides being utterly delicious, it’s pretty and lends itself well to adaptations.  For the uninitiated, “crudo” is the same concept as sashimi except the preparation is as varied as the cook’s imagination. While nominally an Italian dish, it’s prepared in all kinds of ways by fancy chefs and home cooks. In my dish, the richness of the fish is underscored by the light, slightly citrusy sauce with its Asian flavors, which I pump up a bit with the barest drizzle of lime oil.  The sweet/tart pop of strawberries goes quite well with this. Even if using strawberries with fish sounds weird to you, try it anyway and you won’t be sorry. Or use pomegranate seeds. Continue reading

Bodacious Basque Tapas in Los Gatos

One-bite wonders at Pintxos Pote in Los Gatos keep diners coming back, like this combo of egg, shrimp, olive and aoili.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2017.)

Pintxos — those luscious bites found in Spain’s Basque region — are to tapas what porterhouse steak is to beef.  At least, that’s what any visitor to the incredible foodie capital of San Sebastián on the Atlantic near the French border would tell you. This thriving Basque city has Michelin stars like other towns have gas stations and the top activity seems to be devouring mind-blowing mouthfuls in the city’s hundred-plus pintxos bars.  But South Bay residents don’t have to go nearly that far to munch on outrageously tasty pintxos in a friendly environment. Continue reading

(Recipe) Beet-Cured Salmon; Gorgeous, Easy and Tasty

beet-cured salmon on blini

Gravlax is a beloved staple in Scandinavia and in Jewish households that wouldn’t serve anything else but lox with their bagels and cream cheese. This simple fish curing technique is based on the idea of preserving salmon with a combination of salt and sugar. It’s super easy and only requires a little foresight because curing takes a couple of days. Continue reading

Top 10 Tapas

tapasThere are a slew of restaurants in the South Bay offering Latin-style small plates these days, so which are the most popular dishes?

(Published by South Bay Accent in February, 2014.)

Spanish-influenced appetizers have become as hot as spicy chorizo.  Whether you call them tapas (Spain), picadas (Argentina), petiscos (Brazil), bocas (various Latin American countries) or just snacks, the idea of petite quantities of food served with alcoholic or other beverages has universal appeal, with more tapas spots now open in the South Bay than ever.  With so many choices out there, it’s high time we selected the region’s ten tastiest tapas.  Continue reading

(Recipe) Herb Salad – It’s Great as a Sauce!

DSC_0007Herbs make a mouthful of taste when used as a salad and work as a great counterpoint to many savory dishes.

Many sauces include herbs as a key flavor agent — hollandaise and pesto are just the beginning — so why not lighten things up and use just the herbs?  It’s less crazy than it seems once you’ve tried it.  Plus, a little pile of lightly dressed greenery is a lovely addition to a plate. Continue reading

Knock-’em-Dead Appetizer, Knocked off from French Laundry

FL salmon cornetsIf you’ve been to the French Laundry, this ubiquitous starter is one of Thomas Keller’s best-known creations. Tiny seed-flecked cones are filled with salmon tartare and minced onion with some caviar (naturally) crowning the top along with a microscopic sprig of dill. Called salmon cornets, they require a regiment of prep cooks, special holders and all the usual rigamarole of this temple of refined cuisine.

The recipe has long been available and self-flagellating home cooks can certainly make them at home with great effort.  But why would you want to when the flavor profile can be captured in a waaaaay easier-to-make version that you can throw together fast and serve to happy guests? Continue reading