Category Archives: Tips/Techniques

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

(Recipe) Easy, Delicious Chicken Enchiladas

mom-enchiladas

I fondly recall an enchilada dish my mom made that was notable for the colorful inclusion of black olives (the tasteless canned, sliced kind — she was busy) and sliced scallions.  Compared to the gloppy enchiladas in Mexican restaurants swimming in mud-colored sauce, hers was a pretty change of pace even though it probably relied on canned tomatoes and other convenient ingredients popular with her generation. So I set out to do a version with better ingredients.  Given that this is completely made up, I apologize for not having succinct amounts and detailed instructions. But enchiladas aren’t very hard to make so this should be easily put together. Note my alternative approach for the usual frying of tortillas called for in making enchiladas. Continue reading

Wine Salt – Magical Ingredient for Improved Outcomes

wine saltHow can something so simple be so transformative?  I read about wine salt in a New York Times article some years ago and the concept intrigued me. Combining the properties of marinades (adding flavor and tenderness) and dry rubs (helping create a crispy exterior and adding yet more flavor), wine salt is what it sounds like:  wine and salt (and a bit more). But its impact on proteins is magical. Besides tenderizing, it encourages juiciness and adds subtle but enhanced flavor.  Continue reading

Cooking for a Cause

Share - AfricaIn war-torn parts of the world, women still must cook for their families despite the hardships.  A wonderful new cookbook spearheaded by a local resident raises money for female victims of war.

(Published by South Bay Accent in December, 2013.)

For most well-off South Bay residents, milestone birthdays are spent at a fancy spa, maybe indulging in an exciting sport and certainly consuming too much food and drink.  And then there’s Lauri Pastrone. When the Los Gatos resident turned 50, she decided to launch an all-encompassing project to vastly improve the lives of thousands of women she would never meet.

Pastrone, a slim, articulate blonde, had long been making contributions to Women for Women International (WfWI), an organization that helps female war survivors rebuild their lives through small stipends and skills training aimed at earning needed resources — money, food — to assist themselves and their families.  Launched in 1993, WfWI has distributed more than $108 million in aid, loans and other services to well over 370,000 women who live in the war-ravaged nations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Rwanda. Continue reading

(Recipe) Two Salads in One: Tomato Green Salad

tomato salad-5Fast to prepare, lighter than tomato-only salads and very delicious, this is my summer staple.

During tomato season, it’s tempting to pile these luscious fruit that we treat like a vegetable along with cheese and other ingredients into the ubiquitous tomato salads that pop up on restaurant menus in many guises.  Don’t get me wrong; I love those tasty towers of tomato and I’ve got some recipes here.  But sometimes, a lighter approach is desirable. 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