Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hartwood on the Selby

Hartwood Collage
Lately, the Selby has been doing food-related features for the New York Times T magazine - and also posting the photos and Q & A on their site. They're all fantastic, but this one - for a restaurant called the Hartwood in Tulum Mexico looks flat out amazing. In fact, I'm ready to go.  Right now. 

Who's in???

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cooks Confab School Lunch! - Sunday April 3 in San Diego

Cooks Confab School Lunch
Do your memories of school cafeteria food mostly involve bready pizza and soggy french fries? It's hard to believe it's gotten worse in the meantime isn't it? Well, the Cooks Confab is here to help change that!

Driven by their common passion to change a desperately broken system that affects many of their own school-aged children, the seventeen chefs of the Confablieri will be putting their culinary talents to work this Sunday from 12-4 PM at Fibonacci's Campus Point Bistro on the Qualcomm campus near UCSD. The chefs have been tasked with creating healthful “Cafeteria Fare” - underscoring a farm-to-institution concept by incorporating fresh local produce from nearby farms and eliminating the highly processed ingredients that permeate current cafeteria menu selections.

The offerings will include KITCHEN 1540’s Paul McCabe’s play on healthy “Fish & Chips” – Wild Striped Bass, Baked Vegetable Chips, Tartar Sauce, NINE–TEN’s Jason Knibb’s riff on Beef and Broccoli and Andrew Spurgin’s Salad Bar featuring produce picked that morning by kids from Waters’ Fibonacci’s Organic Garden created by Urban Plantations. Of course, it's a Cooks Confab event and they know their audience likes to have fun, so never fear! There will also be some innovative cocktails and desserts made with wholesome but indulgent ingredients for the hedonists in the crowd. :) Check out the full menu below...

This is a family friendly event, and tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis, $35.00 for adults and $15.00 for children. (I'll be there with my nieces and their mom!) These events always sell out, so get your tickets now to ensure a spot. To purchase tickets, visit Brown Paper Tickets, and for more information visit the Cooks Confab website.

All event proceeds benefit Slow Food Urban San Diego's mission to support San Diego Unified District's Farm to School Program and other like-minded projects.

Cooks Confab School Lunch

Beef & Broccoli with Brown Rice

Jason Knibb – NINE–TEN


Chicken & Local Vegetable "Pot Pie"

Jeff Jackson & TK Kolanko – A. R. Valentien


Cream of Tomato Soup with Parmesan Cream & Bread Crumbs
Lentil–Barley Soup with Mint Yogurt

Strawberry Yogurt with Chocolate Dipping Sticks

Trey Foshee & Lori Huffman – George’s California Modern


“Fish & Chips” Wild Striped Bass, Baked Vegetable Chips, Tartar Sauce

Paul McCabe – KITCHEN 1540
Donald Coffman – Paradise Point


Suzie's Farm Vegetable "Lasagna"
Jidori Chicken Roulade
Handmade Focaccia
Strawberries n' Cream

Katie Grebow – Café Chloe
Amy DiBiase – Chef/Consultant


Salad Bar from Waters’ Organic Garden
with a Bunch of Stuff That’s Good For You

Andrew Spurgin – Waters Fine Catering
Melissa Mayer – Martini Media


Wheat “Macaroni ‘n Cheese”
Carrot Turmeric Purée
Diced Vegetables
Gruyère Cheese

Olivier Bioteau – Farm House Café


Nathan's Natural Alpine Chicken Satay
Thai Almond Sauce
Cucumber Relish

Antonio Friscia – Stingaree


Potato-Cauliflower Tostada, Yellow Cherry Tomato, House
Queso Fresco, Pickled Broccoli Stem, Salsa Verde

Ricardo Heredia – Alchemy


Cashew Nut Ice Cream Cups with Honeyed Quinoa

Jack Fisher – Jack Fisher Confections


Spring Flavored Paletas

Lisa Altman – Viva Pops


Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

Strawberry “Milkshake”

Ian Ward ­ Snake Oil Cocktail Co.


Housemade Beet "Vermouth"
Hibiscus Extract, Raisin Reduction,
Pressed Apple Foam, Micro Radish

Saul Paniagua – Waters Bar Service

About the Cooks Confab
What began as a few local chefs casually chatting over food and drinks has evolved into a large group of San Diego’s most innovative and prominent chefs using their culinary talents to both entertain and teach. Through their fun and stylish dinners, special events and educational sessions, the members of Cooks Confab provide not just a phenomenal meal, but an opportunity to learn more about the conservation and sustainability issues affecting our food choices today. For more information, check out their website.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Basil Buttermilk Salad Dressing and Dip {a recipe}

Veg and Buttermilk Basil Dip
If you ask around, it's pretty hard to find someone who truly doesn't like ranch dressing.  We may turn up our noses at it as junk food - something kids use to mask the flavor of vegetables and dip their pizza in - but secretly, we all have to admit we like the tangy, creamy flavor.

When Hidden Valley Ranch first hit the market back in the 80s, it was a packet of dehydrated seasonings and buttermilk powder that you mixed with your own mayonnaise and milk to make your own "fresh" dressing.


Fast forward a couple of decades, I found this truly fresh buttermilk dressing recipe on the old Gourmet website, and marveled at how much it tasted like good old ranch.  I hadn't made it in a long time - but then last week we were having some friends over, I had pulled some baby carrots out of the garden, and I had  some sweet little radishes, cauliflower and romanesco from the farmers market - so I thought a crudite with homemade dressing would be just the thing.  I whipped up a batch of this and sure enough,  it was a hit with kids and grownups alike.  For the dip I used a healthy dollop of sour cream with just a splash of buttermilk - you can adjust as you see fit.   

Either way, it's something everyone will love, and nobody will be ashamed to admit it!
Veg and Buttermilk Basil Dip
Basil Buttermilk Dressing or Dip
adapted from Gourmet, January, 2005
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
this is great with crudite, and would also be fantastic on tomatoes or over an iceberg wedge.  Just add crumbled blue cheese and leave out the basil the to turn it into blue cheese dressing!

2 fresh, juicy garlic cloves
Rounded 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2/3 cup good quality mayonnaise (I use Hain)
1/3 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 to 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
a few grinds of pepper

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with salt using large heavy knife (or in a mortar and pestle.)

Stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, basil, and garlic paste in a small bowl. Add enough buttermilk to achieve desired consistency - a little more for a dressing, less for a dip. Add two or three grinds of fresh black pepper.

Chill, covered, for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.

Keeps, refrigerated, for about three days.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Melted Humboldt Fog with Chanterelles

Melted Humboldt Fog with Chanterelles
Wow, where did last week go? That was fast. On Saturday night we had a few people over to watch a movie. This is kind of a new thing - a monthly "Film Club" based on one our friend Tom started in San Francisco. Tom put an ad on Craigslist and invited strangers, and so far we've just stuck to friends, but if our friends keep canceling at the last minute, we may rethink that strategy. Anyhoo, we did it on a Saturday night this month, so I stepped up the food a bit. Normally it's just some "snacky bits" as we call them in this house - popcorn, olives, cheese, crackers, maybe something sweet. This weekend I did some Corned Beef and Cabbage Sliders (made with kimchi), a shaved Cauliflower and Fennel Salad with Caper Vinaigrette and something that is seriously the best and easiest "dish" you'll ever eat. (Provided of course that you like goat cheese!) Humboldt Fog cheese, heated until melted and bubbling.
Shaved Cauliflower and Fennel Salad with Caper Vinaigrette
It's delicious enough cold, but when it's heated, the gooey outer later melts and turns to liquid (and bubbles and browns if you leave it in long enough) and the middle becomes almost soufflé-like. I first tried this when it was on the menu at JRDN, and when the Fresh and Easy down the hill from us carried it, we had it maybe once a month for dinner with a salad and some bread. When they stopped carrying it, I stopped going there. It isn't cheap, but on balance, given it's ease and deliciousness - I say it's worth it.
Corned Beef and Cabbage Sliders
If you can get your hands on some (I think they're just about to go out of season) - Chanterelles are fabulous with it - but any mushroom will do. Just toss with a little olive oil and arrange in the dish around the cheese. Bake at 400 until hot and bubbly. That's it, that's all!

I made the sliders with Trader Joes Corned Beef, sliced and piled on their little slider buns with swiss cheese. I ran them under the broiler to melt the cheese, and topped them with well-drained kimchi slaw and a bit of mustard. The salad is shaved cauliflower and fennel, tossed with a mustard vinaigrette with a bit of anchovy paste, lots of lemon juice and a spoonful of capers!