I got a HUGE number of tomatoes and hot peppers from my dad’s garden over the weekend. I’ve already used nearly 1/2 the tomatoes, believe it or not!
Tonight I’m making grilled skirt steak burritos with fresh guacamole and salsa. The secret to my guacamole is LOTS of lemon juice. The secret to my salsa is these tomatoes.
I don’t have much of a recipe. For the guacamole I mix avocados, onion (either powder or grated fresh onion, I don’t like chunks), lots of lemon juice, cayenne and salt. Easy.
For salsa, I put onion, hot peppers, lime juice and salt in the food processor, mix all that until it’s paste-like. Add some tomatoes and blend it all up. Then some cilantro. Then I stir in some chopped tomatoes and adjust everything by taste. I wing it.
Fort Mason, Building A
San Francisco, CA 94123
A friend and I were meeting up to see Tim Minchin at the Palace of Fine Arts…Brilliant show by the way. We needed food first so she got us into Greens at the last minute. I thought I hadn’t been there but as soon as I parked and started heading past the harbor boats I had a de ja vu. Yeah, I’d been there but it had been years and years and I think we were there for lunch. I really don’t recall anything about the meal then so this was a brand new experience!
We ordered a number of things and split them all, starting with the Spring Rolls (with grilled tofu, carrots, jicama, Thai basil, mint and rice noodles. Served with hoisin, grilled shiitake, beech mushroom and radish salad). These were good but I’m going to rename them Mint Spring Rolls…not a subtle flavor.
The sampler was great because we could easily split the things between what I like and don’t like! My friend got the beet salad, olives and marinated Yarra Valley feta, we shared the taboulleh, grilled artichoke, mummous and pita. All very tasty.
Paparadelle wiht Peas
The Green Gulch Lettuce and Little Gems salad (with Hidden Star Orchard cherries, Point Reyes Original Blue, slow roasted almonds and golden balsamic vinaigrette) was lovely and the cherries were a nice addition.
The Pappardelle with snap, snow and English peas, pine nuts, spring onions, meyer lemon butter and chives tasted like spring. I know it’s July but we had winter here through June so we’re just getting our spring! It was wonderful to have pine nuts again. I haven’t had them in ages since there is apparently a shortage although that’s hard to believe when I drive around California surrounded by pine trees! I know, they’re from a certain type of pine…but still! I miss them.
The dishes at Greens aren’t complicated. They aren’t piled with a million conflicting flavors. They are vegetarian. They are flavorful, fresh, seasonal, beautiful. You can’t beat the view—the boats in the harbor with a peek at the Golden Gate behind them if the fog lifts enough.
Parking can be a challenge if there is event at Fort Mason but if there’s not, the large parking lot should have a space available somewhere. I love that Greens set the standard for locally source, vegetarian fare *years* ago and it still going strong. It’s a classic.
A pair of 19″ Chatsworth racks are connected via two 3/4″ grade-8 steel threaded rods at the top and bottom. This cinches the shelving together so much of the downward force becomes outward force back to the rails, allowing considerably more than the rated 50lb weight. UPS rails at top and bottom provide some shear strength to keep the whole thing square. I use the cable management rails for running hoses and cords (one side being “wet”, other being “hot”), and as a mount point of sorts for the pump. Heavy-duty castors help it move around, and pulling the kettles and pump off strips it down to the point it can be pressure-washed. I built this in 2003 out of random defunct ISP flotsam in my garage (with a trip to the hardware store for the grade-8 steel rods, so, for the rack setup itself, my total cost was about $40); as of 7/4/2011 it has supplied ~700gal in 10gal batches, and I haven’t had to turn a screw on it since assembly.
Top kettle starts out as sparge water (note lines running up to an immersion chiller that is initially used to raise wort temp for step mashing without heating the grain directly). Middle kettle is the mash tun, and lower kettle is the first boiler. This lower boiler allows me to start the boil almost immediately after starting the sparge, which shaves about an hour of thumb twiddling out of the process. A magnetic drive pump (out of view in these pics, on the lower left front cable management rail) is initially used for recirculation in step mashing, and then becomes the method of moving the wort from the lower boiler to the upper (once sparge water is exhausted). I typically will split the wort between upper and lower for the majority of the boil; this gives me plenty of headspace for foam and allows me to get just over 100kBTU under the wort for reaching the boil quickly and getting good reduction. Toward the end of the boil, I’ll run the remaining wort from the lower to the upper kettle, allowing me to gravity feed the whole batch into a plastic conical fermenter. The immersion chiller is used for its originally intended purpose immediately at flame-out, so my finishing hops don’t inadvertently become flavor hops in the 20min or so it takes to rack into the conical.
I supplement cooling with a counterflow chiller, which takes the wort the rest of the way to 70F with the valve wide open; this allows me to pitch within 1/2hr of flame-out, giving my chosen bug a decisive advantage over any encroaching microbes. I typically pitch from a starter prepped the day before (as close to high krausen as I can get it), so I have stupidly high pitching rates and high activity levels, which also helps the chosen bug get an early sprint (typically have raging fermentations within 12hrs).
Most three-tiered homebrew rigs are quite expensive. The RalphRack ™ brew setup is probably cheaper than most of those even if you bought all the parts new from Graybar, but is really ideal for someone on a budget who happens to have access to used or discarded telecom/datacenter gear like this.
I picked up my fish from my Seafood CSA (CSS – Community Supported Seafood) yesterday. It’s fun to have no idea what I’m going to cook until after 1:30 when i pick up my fish! Surprise! I came home and pondered for a while. Stared into my fridge….I had a fennel bulb and a chunk of garlic. I almost always have chicken broth since another CSA I’m in gives me 2 dozen eggs and 2 chickens every 2 weeks. The recipe started coming together in my head.
This serves 2 people and could easily be scaled up.
I put a quart of chicken stock on low heat and simmered it with about 2 inches of ginger root, sliced and one fennel bulb, sliced. That simmered about an hour. Reducing by about 1/4th.
Meanwhile, I took the 2 yellow potatoes I had and sliced them as thinly as I could. I don’t have a mandoline. Well, that’s not true, I have one and haven’t the foggiest idea how to set it up or use it. So I use my wicked sharp knife instead! I put the slices into a bowl of ice water where they remained until I was ready to fry them up.
I whisked together:
1/4 cup white miso
2 T seasoned rice vinegar
2 t soy sauce
a dash of cayenne
I brushed that over the sea bass fillets. This is not chilean sea bass. It’s locally caught white sea bass. It’s more of a cod texture…actually, it may be a type of cod?? Not sure! Sustainable, green-listed fish :)
Cut the fillet into 1/3-1/2 pound pieces. Brush the miso paste onto the top and bottom of the fillet. Set these aside for a few minutes.
Fill a semi-high-sided pan with about 1″ or so of grapeseed oil (or other high-heat oil). I love the shade of green that the grapeseed oil has. It just looks cool. Bring the temperature of the oil up to 350°. I’ve had this candy thermometer for years and I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Glad I had it though! While waiting for the oil to heat over medium-high heat, remove the potato slices from the ice water and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. You don’t want them wet or you’ll get splattered with hot oil! Carefully drop the slices into the hot oil a batch at a time. I put about 10-15 slices in at a time and it didn’t drop the temperature of the oil dramatically. Let them dance around in the oil until they are brown. Remove carefully and place on paper towels to drain the oil, I also dabbed the tops with papertowels, then sprinkle with a nice finishing salt. I used Shinkai Deep Sea Salt and it was perfect.
Things got a bit hectic when I was trying to do crisps and fish at the same time. Put the sea bass into a quite-hot pan with a little olive oil. I wanted a nice crust on the outside of the fish and a pretty raw center. This fish was caught the day before, it was beautifully fresh. Sear for 1-2 minutes on each side.
Place the fish in a shallow bowl. Strain the simmering broth into the bowl. Sprinkle with chopped scallions. Serve the crisps on the side.
We drank, oddly, a pink wine with this. I hate pink wine typically but this one was light and citrusy and paired rather well.
I host a soup night, ideally once a month, but really it happens when we have a free weekend night. I make a huge pot of soup, customized each time for the number of people coming and the allergies/preferences/aversions of the guests. It’s really, really fun and it gives us a way to actually get together with our friends regularly even when life is hectic. It’s a different group of people each time…and if there is every a time that everyone on the invite list can show up, I’m not sure what we’ll do, our house isn’t nearly big enough!
This time I live-tweeted the making of the soup, just for fun. A sort of step-by-step recipe without instructions! This is enough soup for 16-18 people.
4-5 quarts chicken stock simmering on the back burner:
Chicken Stock Simmering
3-4 carrots (mulitcolored, they looked cool!):
1 fennel bulb and 4 stalks celery:
Fennel and Celery
Cooking all that stuff down, entertaining myself with the camera:
Waiting for veggies to cook down
4 yellow potatoes:
Potatoes will go in next
3/4 bottle white wine and 6 cloves garlic:
Added white wine and garlic
One bunch kale, somewhat “julienned”…I’d say finely shredded:
6 small zucchini:
Snap peas, halved:
Lastly, snap peas
In there with the zucchini went 3 cans of cannellini beans and then the soup was ladeled over spaghetti that I broke in half before boiling (so it would be possible to eat it with a spoon!)
To serve it was first pasta, then soup, pesto on top of that (basil-walnut-lots of lemon), and for everyone but me, shredded parmesean.
This week’s box from my CSA is full of so many of my favorite things. Romaine lettuce, Kale, Green Onions, Fennel, Strawberries, Potatoes, Cucumbers. They have an “exchange” box at the pick-up site and I swapped my carrots out for a 2nd head of romaine. I still have a zillion carrots from previous weeks, we just don’t go through them very fast. I am having a Soup Night on Saturday though and I can make a big Caesar salad.
I thought the last dinner was good. This one was better. Not that there was anything missing from the first one, I just felt that this one stepped it up.
Arriving and mingling
We went with 4 friends and they hired a driver to take us to and from the dinner so much more wine was consumed than at the last event. So much so, I forgot the menu there and I don’t have all the details of this meal! Therefore, this will be more of a photo tour of the evening.
A rundown from Jim and Leah
We gathered around to hear from Jim and Leah and then we headed around the farm to meet the goats and chickens, see the variety of crops and check out the original apple trees from 100 years ago.
On the farm tour
The source of the goat cheese
Surrounding the entire farm is a deer fence. The farm bumps right up to the Soquel hills so without the fence, the deer would destroy the farm. They still have to contend with coyotes, mountain lions and gophers, but at least the fence dissuades the deer!
Rows of crops meld into the tree line
300 chickens live here
We wrapped up the tour and were lead down to an amazing table setting. We sat along the creek, it was absolutely gorgeous.
The table is set up by Soquel creek
The first course featured farm grown spinach and beets and was topped with goat cheese made from the goats we’d just met.
Spinach with Goat cheese and beets
It’s amazing the kitchen setup they have out in the woods. Backwoods gourmet at its finest!
The smell of the outdoor kitchen wafts down to the diners
The shellfish dish was the highlight of the dinner (not that there were any lows!). We got loaf after loaf of bread to soak up the amazing broth the clams, mussels and squid were in. It was heavenly. I could have had nothing but this all night and been a happy foodie.
Shellfish and squid stew with crusty bread
There was a course in between here of perfectly cooked, lick every bit from your finger, gorgeous quail. So good, I forgot to pull out my camera….I would have gotten quail juice on it anyway.
And dessert by candlelight was scrumptious strawberry shortcake.
Strawberry shortcake for dessert
The whole dinner was paired with wines from Testa Rossa vineyards and Corralitos Brewing Company beer. I even enjoyed the pink wine…it was my least favorite of the evening but I still liked it!
Good food, good friends, good times. Life’s mantra.
You had me at the bread. Lost me for a bit with the chicken foot but got me right back with the morels.
That’s the meal in twitter format, now for the rest of the story.
Confit of Ivory King Salmon
I have to be totally honest here, the meal got off to a bit of a slow start. The Confit of Ivory King Salmon with Fennel and Star Anise was nice but I thought it needed a touch more salt. There wasn’t anything
wrong with it per se, it just wasn’t revelatory. The salmon was remarkably pale. Poured with this was a non-vintage Champagne Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut. It tasted like Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider. More so with every sip.
Poularde with Rhubarb and Chicken Foot
Then the Milkfed Poularde with Braised Rhubarb, Cilantro and Toasted Sesame arrived…adorned with a deep fried chicken foot….the whole thing was room temperature. I really don’t think it was supposed to be, and if it was, it shouldn’t be. The rhubarb was sweet and I’m not usually big on sweet things with my meat in general unless it’s done perfectly and interestingly. I ate it, foot and all, but did not enjoy the dish. The wine was Greek: Domaine Skouras, Moscofilero, Pelopennese 2010. Very floral…to the point of tasting like hotel soap. With my sample of one Greek wine, at this point, I’m not rushing to Greece for a wine tour. I was worried. Usually restaurants tend to wow me with their first 2-3 courses and lose me with their mains. This was not a good start.
Halibut with Arugula Blossom, Artichoke
I shouldn’t have been worried. Next up was the Steamed Halibut with Arugula Blossom, Purple Artichoke and Wild Caper Vinaigrette. This was beautiful. Perfectly cooked, nice salinity, sauced so well I mopped the last of the sauce up with my fingers. The sauvignon blanc this was paired with (Scholium Project “La Severitaa di Bruto-Farina Vineyards” 2009) was pleasant and crisp and a welcome change from the Greek calamity. It’s an experiment out of UC Davis. A successful experiment.
Rabbit Loin with Morels
The rabbit. OH THE RABBIT!! I am not a big fan of rabbit. I grew up in a 4-H town, lots of people raised bunnies. I never found the flavor very interesting. Usually a bit like chicken but less meat to work with. The Arkansas Rabbit Loin with Morel Mushroom, Endive and Rye was incredible. The morels were the first I’ve had this year so that was a treat to my hard-core food porn self. The demiglace was rich and the cumin crackers should be sold to me in large boxes. Every week, ship me more! This dish was paired with a beautiful, and actually light-bodied, 2005 Vosne-Romanee Maison Champy. I would have thought it would be too light for the richness of the dish but it really worked.
Lamb with Porcini
Before showing up, I’d given the restaurant my list of aversions. I was beginning to think they browsed this site and found my favorite things to substitute. The Elysian Fields Lamb was made NOT for me. It was supposed to have Smoked Red Pepper, Chickpea Pannise and Kalamata Olive. BLECH! Mine came out with a pristine, fresh porcini! IN JUNE! Apparently from Oregon…craziness. The substitution couldn’t have been more spot on.
The palate cleanser was Prickly Pear Sorbet with Nopales and Campari Jelly. Man, was the campari bitter! One little bite of that stuck with me for a while. The sorbet was lovely but I couldn’t shake the bitter jelly taste for a good long while.
Chocolate Brioche with Maple Ice Cream and Caramelized Popcorn
The Chocolate Brioche with Reduced Maple Ice Cream and Caramelized Popcorn was great. I wouldn’t have called it a brioche, it was more dense than that but that wasn’t a problem. There was some sort of foam on top…not a fan of foam, looks like spittle bug goo. I could have done without it, it didn’t add anything to the dish. The popcorn was good and crunchy and not too stick-in-your-teethy.
Cookies and treats
My favorite part of the dessert courses though was the tiny little marshmallow on the cookies plate. Lots of vanilla flavor, wonderful texture, so fresh and beautiful.
My husband (Disclaimer: he roasts his own coffee beans and has become a huge coffee snob) got a cappuccino and was disappointed in the over-roasted bean flavor. I got green tea and that was nice :)
Overall we had a wonderful meal. I would definitely go back. We sat next to two Navy sailors in their dress whites (Hey! They didn’t have to wear a jacket!). They were so far from the stereotype of sailors. For one, they were at Charlie Trotter’s and secondly, they were discussing Chinese Opera with the waitress. Loved it!
The waitstaff was all very attentive without being stuffy and hover-y. We visited with the woman at the bar after our meal while we were waiting for our ride and had a wonderful conversation about Mexico, mexican food, various alcohols and traveling. I never know what the attitude of these places will be when we go, especially when there is a jacket required, but it was a lovely evening.
Shred 2 lbs of potatoes, I used the shredder in my food processor, and one sweet onion. I just picked up some walla walla onions that went well. I also used a combination of white, purple and red potatoes to make these look funky :)
Place the potato-onion mixture in a strainer, salt the mix and let it sit over the sink for a while to draw out some of the water. I let mine sit for, maybe, 30 minutes? Longer is probably better.
Squeeze the mixture in some paper towels and get as much moisture out as you can.
Take a bit of the mixture and make a small patty, place some smoked salmon on top of the patty, then place more of the potato mixture on top of the salmon to seal it inside.
Drop this filled potato pancake gently into a small amount of oil and fry it up until it’s brown and crispy…flip it and brown the other side.
Do this on medium heat so they potatoes don’t brown too quickly or they’ll still be raw on the inside!
I realized right as these were finishing that I needed a sauce for them. I’d just picked up plain yogurt so I just minced a garlic clove, mixed that into some yogurt, added a little cayenne and salt and it was perfect! So simple.