Strawberry Salad

strawberry saladI don’t normally eat berries out of season, but the organic strawberries have been sweet and delicious these days.
The dressing should be made ahead of time, kept in a sealed container.
Serves 6
Strawberry dressing
1/2 pint strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1 tbsp berry vinegar
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 tsp rose water
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp pink peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle or the back of a pan
Place all of the ingredients except the olive oil into a blender.  Blend until smooth, then slowly pour in the oil until it is all emulsified.  Taste for
salt and pepper, then chill until needed.

Salad
1 pound mixed lettuces
1/2 pint strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1/4 red onion, sliced very thinly
1/4 cup crumbled feta
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Toss all the ingredients with enough dressing to coat the lettuces to your liking.

 

Vegetable course for 2 under a buck- it must be Spring!

Asparagus, my favorite sign of Spring, is in every Farmer’s Market and store in the Bay Area. In fact it was only 77 cents a bunch at Berkeley Bowl and 99 cents a pound at Haight Street Market. Here’s a recipe that features a versatile relish that you can use with lots of dishes.

Grilled asparagus, serves 2
1 bunch asparagus
spray olive oil
freshly ground salt and pepper

Trim the white ends off the asparagus, set aslde.
Put a grill or cast iron pan on a burner set to medium high.  Let this sit until it begins to look hot. Spray a hint of olive oil onto the pan to see if it evaporates.  If so, the pan is ready.
Spray a small amount of oil all over the pan, then put the asparagus in it.  Wait a minute or so, then turn the spears over to brown evenly.  The skin of the asparagus should look brown and blistery.  Do this in batches if you are cooking for more than 2.
When most of the asparagus spears are browned, turn off the heat and let it continue to cook for a minute or so.  Set aside to serve with dinner, or eat right away as a separate course.

Garlic confit 

I use my toaster oven for this
1 cup peeled garlic cloves
about 1/2 cup olive oil, or enough to cover the garlic by 1/4″
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Put the garlic and bay leaf in a ceramic or glass bowl or baking dish. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the garlic, then put the olive oil on top.
Cover the bowl with foil and bake at 150 degrees for 60-75 minutes, or until all the garlic is lightly tanned and soft.  Set aside to cool.
Place the cooled garlic and oil in a sealed container.  This keeps for about 3 weeks to use for any recipe that requires roasted garlic.

Lemon-onion- garlic confit relish for asparagus or fish
The lemons were from a friends’ trees- I used 1 meyer lemon and 1 regular lemon, either type is fine
serves 6Meyer lemon and garlic relish
1/4 cup olive oil (you can use the oil from the garlic confit to make it more roasty tasting.)
2 lemons
1/2 onion, cut into medium sized cubes
1/2 cup cloves of garlic confit, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp white wine
1/4 tsp dried thyme
about 1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

With a channel zester, zest the lemon peel into 11/-2 inch strips.  If you don’t have a channel zester, use a vegetable peeler to peel the lemon, then cut strips about 1/4 “.  Set aside
Put a nonreactive pan on medium heat and add the oil.  Let it heat for a minute, then add the onions.  Cook until clear, stirring occasionally.
Add the lemon zest, garlic confit, lemon juice, white wine, thyme, salt and ground pepper, then stir a few times.
Reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The lemon zest should be soft and not bitter,
the onions and garlic soft.  Taste for salt and pepper.
Set aside to cool and place in a sealed container, then use a nice spoonful to accompany grilled asparagus, fish or grilled chicken.

Lavender Chicken

Tuesday, I really did make the best slow roasted chicken, using lavender that grows in the parking lot of my building.  I paired it with roasted potatoes with rosemary (also from outside) and some great looking yellow wax beans from my local produce market that I just blanched and salted.  The sauce is made from the pan juices and vegetables that make a base for the chicken as it cooks.  A Provençal Rose such as Bandol is heaven with this!

This chicken takes a while, but is easy once it’s done. I put it in the oven and forget about it, just letting the aroma fill my kitchen. And rather than truss the chicken with string, I just stick a skewer though the chicken to hold in all of the ingredients inside it.

Cynthia’s Herbes de Provençe Chicken and  Sauce

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

For the chicken:
1 whole chicken
2 onions cut into quarters
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
1 stalk of celery, cut into 4
1 lemon.
4 cloves garlic
2 2″ sprigs lavender, if possible.  If not, another teaspoon of herbes de provence
2 tsps herbes de provençe

1Tbsp olive oil
about 4 tsps. salt
about 2 tsp ground pepper
1 8′ skewer

For sauce:
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Put 6 of the onion quarters, the celery pieces, the carrot pieces and 2 garlic cloves in a glass or non-reactive baking pan.  Set aside.
Wash off the chicken, rinsing out the inside also.  Sprinkle 2 tsps salt and 1 tsp pepper on the inside of the chicken.
Zest the lemon with a microplane zester into a small bowl and set aside.  Cut the lemon in half.
Put 2 of the onion quarters, the lemon halves, 2 garlic cloves, the lavender sprigs and half of the herbes de provençe inside the chicken.
Run the skewer through the legs and the bottom of the chicken to close the opening and to keep it closed.
Add the olive oil, remaining salt, pepper and herbes de Provençe to the lemon zest.  Rub this over both sides of the outside of the chicken

Place the chicken, breast side down, on top of the cut up onion, celery and carrot.  Put in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, turn the chicken over with a pair of tongs.  Sprinkle the 2 tsps flour over the base vegetables.  Cook the chicken for another 20 minutes, or until the breast is brown.  Poke the leg with a knife- if the juices that run out are clear, the chicken is done.

Put the chicken on a plate and cover with foil.  Set aside.

Put the vegetables, flour and juices in a blender jar and blend well to combine.  Taste for salt and add if needed.

Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce.  Delicious!

Chocolate is for lovers

My Wine and Chocolate Pairing class at San Mateo Community College on Feb 9 was sold out; but you can dream about the menu:

I made dark chocolate bark with cocoa nibs, Meyer lemon zest and limoncello,
Milk chocolate, roasted pear and pear brandy truffles,
White chocolate, dried white peach and pistachio bark, paired with a
DO Colheita, Moscatel de Setúbal by Bacalhôa (like a tawny port),
Peppermint coated white chocolate truffles, and
Milk chocolate and dried cherry bark, paired with 2005 Renwood Vintage Port.

You can have a tasting like this right in your own home.

It’s too late for Valentine’s Day but we have Leap Day this year (Feb 29); when Irish tradition holds that women may propose marriage.

Happy tasting!

Hello world!

Finally getting my website/blog up and operating.

Looking forward to sharing lots of food, wine and chocolate with you this year.

Check back regularly to get the latest information on my classes, culinary travel and special tastings.

Or better yet subscribe!

—the chef