I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

May 30, 2010

For Lori!

As requested....the best Beer Can Chicken Recipe. You can't go wrong with this!

1 T Brown Sugar
1T Sugar
1/4 C Paprika
2 T Salt
1 tsp Celery Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1-3 tsp Cayenne, depending on your heat preference
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1 T\tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder

1 Tall Can of Beer, Coors lite works well. :)

1 Chicken, trimmed of excess fat and skin, rinsed and patted dry

Mix all spices together and rub on the outside and in of the bird. Pour out (or drink) 1.4 of the beer and add inn excess rub to the can, Insert can in to the rear of the bird, standing it up straight. BBQ on low/med for 45 min-1 hour until bird reaches 155 degrees. Let it sit for 10 minutes, tented under foil before carving.

If lower legs or wings start to burn, wrap them in foil while cooking.


Sunday morning food love

Last night while cruising around Facebook I happened upon one of my friends from work (Blair!) who posted that she had just made Red Velvet Scones with Cream Cheese Icing....So I did what anyone would do and begged for her to share the recipe with me.

Because who doesn't love Red Velvet & Cream Cheese?

So she shared with me. :) Not only the recipe, but she also brought them in to work this morning and gifted me with one, which I promptly inhaled while standing in the kitchen.

They turned out a little more like a cookie than a scone, being soft and chewy and they are not as red as you are used to as she used dark cocoa powder, but I have to tell you that I don't care. I think they might have been even better this way and that she should re-name the recipe and claim it as her own. They were absolutely divine.

She also mentioned that this is a very kid friendly recipe, her 5 year old had a blast helping her cut out the scones in the shapes of hearts and teapots.

Thank you Blair! I might be back down to the front desk to beg for seconds very soon!

Red Velvet Scones with Cream Cheese Glaze

2 1/4 C Flour
2/3 C Sugar
1/4 C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 C Unsalted Butter
3/4 C plus 1 T Heavy Cream, divided
1 Large Egg
2 T Red Food Coloring (may need more to get a richer color)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.

In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup cream, egg, food coloring and vanilla extract. Combine cream mixture to flour mixture until dry ingredients are moistened; dough will be sticky

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/2 in thick. Using heart shaped cookie cutter(or any really, we also used teapot shaped cookie cutter), cut scones and place on baking sheet. Brush tops evenly with 1 tbs cream.

Bake 10-12 min. Cool completely.

Cream Cheese Glaze

1 (3 oz) Pkg Cream Cheese
1 C Confectioners Sugar
1 T Heavy Cream

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix with electric mixer at low speed. Beat till smooth.
Using pastry bag (or Ziploc bag) pipe on cream cheese glaze.

May 27, 2010


My new favorite Proverb....adapted from the Chinese original....

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day. Fish: 24/7

This is the motto that I got to read for 2 straight days on the back of a friends t-shirt on my recent trip to Baja and the Sea of Cortez for our annual family vacation. Once again we were guests if our friends Bruce and Jill, participating in the annual Rancho Leonero Fishing Tournament to benefit the school and the children in La Ribera, BCS. If you ever want to combine a kick ass vacation with giving back to some really deserving kids, this is the way to go. You stay at a beachfront resort, with all meals included. Fish for a couple of days and hopefully bring in camp meat (aka the local yellow fin tuna....awesome!) or other fun fishies to cook there at the resort or bring it home to your loved ones. And all of the proceeds go to the students in La Ribera to further their education. So you do something good for people in need while you are on vacation....how many people can say that?

Last year we caught a respectable amount of fish and got ourselves on the board point-wise.....this year I wanted to crawl inside a Bloody Mary to hide from the shame.

First Day Out....

We had gorgeous weather.

We had a great captain and deckhand.

We went smack dab in the middle of the same spot that we scored last year.

Traveled down the cost towards San Jose del Cabo and straight out to sea.

We had a marlin jump in front of us and pretty much flip us the bird as we were throwing everything but our club sandwiches in the water to bite on.


Day Two

We had beautiful weather.

We had the same captain & deckhand.

We traveled North this time towards La Paz and then further out to Sea.

We followed pods of dolphins, birds and bait boils, again, throwing everything in the boat but Brocks beer cans (empty of course) at them to try and get a bite.

Then we all took naps.

Then we finally got one....a marlin! It was Davids turn at the reel and he brought it to the boat twice before we could turn it loose...it was a beaut, about 125 pounds, was a heck of a fighter and gave us 30 points on the tournament score board.

Then we had a lot more nada.

So we opted to pay a little more to fish for some bottom fish (not tournament fish) closer to shore just so that John, Brock and I could say that we caught something.

John caught something-I think it was a pargo.

Then I caught something edible. (Cabrilla, its kind of like seabass!)

And then we were done.

My sweetie got skunked, not so happy. :(

BUT.....All in all it was a great trip. We lost the tournament to folks who raked in the tuna, and, after some rather pathetic pleading, obvious hint dropping and puppy dog eyes, were able to share in their bounty.

And I did get to bring home my cabrilla, which we are cooking tonight for dinner. Well....mom is cooking, I am typing and drinking wine so I am really writing this on behalf of the awesome brunette in the kitchen right now.

This easy little crust is terrific on any light white fish. She adapted it from a recipe out of Bon Appetit, available on Epicurious.com.

Baked Fish with Pecan Breadcrumb Crust

4-6 oz Sea Bass Filet's
1/2 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs (Or Panko if you need to )
3/4 Cup Pecans
2 T Butter, melted
2 T Prepared Horseradish
1 1/2 T Dijon Mustard
1/3 C Parmesan Cheese
4 T Minced Parsley
4 T Lemon infused Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 13x9 pan and lay filet's in pan, sprinkle with salt & pepper. Add nuts and breadcrums to a food processor and pulse until nuts are finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and add butter, horseradish, mustard, cheese & parsley. Season with salt to taste. Press bread crumb mixture on to the filet's and drizzle with 1 T olive oil each. Bake about 10-15 minutes or until done all the way through, this may vary based upon the thickness of the fish, keep checking so you don't overcook the fish. Broil slightly at the end to brown the crust and serve.

Salud! It is good to be back, but I am ready to go again!

May 18, 2010

Holy moley abalone!

Here I am again a week later (after mothers day extravaganza!) cooking yet another fancy dinner for the best lady in my life.

If you are my age (30 something or other) and live in California you have most likely lived most of your life with abalone being illegal to hunt/fish for and only possibly encountering it in a restaurant on the rarest of occasions.

Nowadays they are farming it on the coast of Santa Barbara and you can get it here and there, but is is not only few and far between, but fairly expensive. I had it for the first time since I was a child about a month ago at Hozy's in Santa Paula.....this is a must go if you are a food/wine lover. It is in a very small industrial business park, run by folks who's main "job" is an auto racing products company and the restaurant is really just for fun. The wine list is amazing and the food is always top notch because the owner loves food.

One day when I grow up, I want a restaurant just for fun. Really I do.

But in the mean time, I just get to use my "connections" to  get what I want to cook for my mama when the occasion arises. When moms birthday came around the corner and once again I was faced with the task of making her a fabulous dinner, I was saved my normal angst as my dad came up with the entree idea. God love him for this!

As you might have gotten the hint from the title.....Abalone of course.

So our plan was....Brock would go get it in Goleta with our friend Greg (thank you Greg, we love you!)....dad and I would clean it from the shells and Brock would pound it in to its tender state, suitable for cooking.

Then I get to make the sides, salad and sauce...egg wash and flour the abalone, pan fry it and serve it.

Then TV came on, my helpers vacated the kitchen and I found I needed help. Mom found that she coudn't sit still and found it in her heart to help me out...strapped on her apron and helped fry up the abalone. Isn't she cute?

Wow did we do good!

I am only a few hours away from leaving on a trip to Mexico so I have to cut this one short but i do have to share the recipe as it really does kick ass.

Pan Fried Abalone Cutlets with Tomato Beurre Blanc

12-4" Abalone

Remove from shells-see http://www.fishtech.com/recipes.html for tips on "how to". Make sure to pound thin for optimal tenderness

2 eggs + 1/2 cup water mixed together
1 cup flour + 1 T salt


1 Cup White Wine
1 T Whole Peppercorns
1 Garlic Clove, smashed
3  Sprigs Fresh Thyme

2 Cups water
2 Tomatoes, Sliced and seeded

3/4 cup butter, softened

Canola Oil for frying

In a small saucepan, boil wine, peppercorns, garlic & thyme until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Strain and set aside. oil tomatoes in water until reduced to 1 1/2 cup-strain through cheesecloth and smash through as many solids as you can without making it chunky. Boil on high until reduced to about 1 cup total. Add butter 1 T at a time, stirring all the time until it is smooth. Add salt or pepper to taste.

Heat oil in a large saute pan.

Dredge abalone in egg and flour, saute in pan only about 30 seconds -1 minute to a side, it will NOT take long and please don't overcook it!

Please enjoy, this is truly a rare delicacy!

May 17, 2010

Bacon wrapped pork

Yes, I did say that. No joke.

And yes, I am thinking of going to therapy for being a baconaholic....

But before I go there, just hear me out. Please?

Because this recipe is really, really good. No joke, your friends and family may ridicule you for wrapping your pig in pork, but they will then bow at your feet....worshipping the pork God/Goddess that you have become.

We finally defrosted the last part of the wild boar that Brock brought home for a gathering of friends last night. Wild pig doesn't have much fat on or in it, so after googling through multiple websites and finding that most folks recommended that it be wrapped in bacon to keep it moist. (Like I was gonna argue)

The recipe I opted for was out of Gourmet Magazine from 2006 and is posted on Epicurious.com. I only made minor adjustments tot he sauce as there was not a lot of liquid in the roasting pan at the end, so I deglazed the pan a bit to stretch the sauce.

Maple Brined Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, March 2006

For brining pork
4 C Water
1/3 C Kosher Salt
1/4 C Maple syrup (Grade B or amber)
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1 Garlic Clove, smashed
1 (4- to 4 1/2-lb) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed

For roasting pork
3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
1 T Ground Sage
1/4 C Maple Syrup (Grade B or amber)
16 bacon slices (about 1 lb)
1 T Cider Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 C Water

Brine pork:
Combine all brining ingredients except pork loin in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and heat over high heat, stirring, until salt is dissolved. Pour brine into a deep 4- to 5-quart pot, add ice until it is cold. Add pork to brine, making sure it is completely covered by brine, and marinate, covered and chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

Roast pork:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove pork from brine and rinse quickly under cold water, pat pork dry and then transfer to a roasting pan. Stir together garlic, sage, and syrup in a small bowl and rub all over pork. Lay bacon slices crosswise over loin, overlapping slightly, and tuck ends of bacon underneath loin.

Roast pork until thermometer registers 130°F. Stir together 1 tablespoon syrup and vinegar until combined. Brush vinegar mixture over bacon slices and continue to roast pork until thermometer registers 135°F, about 10 minutes more, turn oven to broil if the bacon needs crisping. Remove from oven and let stand in pan 15 minutes. Transfer roast to a cutting board with a lip, reserving juices in pan, and let roast stand, uncovered, while making sauce.

Deglaze pan with water, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Pour in to a saucepan, straining out the solids.Skim fat from pan juices and discard then bring to a simmer. Stir together cornstarch and water and whisk into jus. Simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon syrup. Serve pork with sauce.

And then serve up Sarah's Roasted Potatoes with sauteed leeks and onions and Alicia's Grilled Vegetable Skewers and Sweet Corn, it's a feast!

May 15, 2010

Leftover love

I love leftovers.

Mine from dinner the night before, from dinner at mom and pops and also from restaurants that we have dined in. Brock *kind* of likes them which means I generally get the lions share and am able to take it to work with me to munch on....although occasionally I do get a phone call wondering where the rest of the spaghetti/enchiladas/taco salad toppings went to.

Oops. Was I supposed to share?

Leftovers as they are can be damn good if not better than they were the night before, but then there are leftovers that can be MADE better.

Last night we had dinner at the Mandarin House Chinese restaurant in Ventura which is my new favorite Chinese Restaurant. The food is good, the service is great, the wine list pretty much sucks (typical for Chinese food), they have a full bar and they are friendly as hell-the hostess will "thank you for coming back" even if it your first time. If you get the waiter that looks like and Asian Adam Lambert, you are lucky...he is one of the best. :)

Last time I tried the "Monkey in the Bush" which sounds like a bad Asian porn film, but is really just an awesome dish made up of pork, shrimp, shiitake mushrooms and green onions in a delicious sauce. This time I tried something a little different...the crispy duck with plum sauce.

Mmmmmm......Crispy duck skin. Seriously? This is like France and China's version of the chiacharrone....or a really decadent version of what my mom and I fight for on Thanksgiving Day.

So it was tasty. Served with the plum sauce and nothing else. Yeah, really good.

Tonight I made it even better.

Saute up some chopped red pepper, mushroom and carrots. Add chopped green onion and the leftover chopped duck meat. Add in the leftover fried rice. Throw in a few glurgs of soy sauce. (Glurg being a true measurement...just picture the sound in your head and you've got it). Saute on high, scraping the pan well to get the crispy bits.

Fried Rice. King of the Leftover World.

Serve in a bowl with a spoon because a fork or chopsticks just won't get it to your mouth fast enough.

May 9, 2010

Who's yo Mama??

How many girls are lucky enough to have a mom who is also a shopping and spa buddy, exercise partner, career coach, drinking cronie, therapist and best friend?

If you are anywhere near as lucky as me I am seriously thrilled for you.

From the time I was 12 to about 19 I was darn sure my mom was dumb as a stump and mean as hell because she wouldn't let me do what I wanted....When I opened my eyes seven short years later, the hormones had faded and I grew up just enough to realize that I was a pretty lucky girl. She never kicked me to the curb, never beat the crap out of me (although I deserved it multiple times), she's bailed me out of countless crummy situations, never ever gave up on me and eventually became one of my best friends.

As mentioned in at least half of my blogs, she is also my cooking partner, fine dining buddy and my inspiration for many killer meals. She is easily one of the best cooks I have ever met, she loves to cook and feed people and is always looking to inspire herself and others by going outside the box. When she met my Dad 40+ years ago she could hardly cook having grown up in a house with a Mother and Grandmother who did it all for her....Nowadays even though I have the degree in culinary arts, she tends to cook for me more often than I do for her simply because she loves to do it. So it goes without saying that for Mothers Day I tend to go all out for her.

This year I had a hard time focusing...the adult ADD kicked in this week and I just could not hone in on what I wanted to make for her. I was all over the board with beef, pork & seafood... vegetables weren't even on the radar and I didn't even have a dessert in mind to make for the occasion. Truly I was so focused on having days off this week that I couldn't even think about anything other than not having to work.

Saturday morning while I was perusing the farmers market in Ventura I finally started to formulate a plan, but it was still rather scattered and not altogether cohesive. I was going with smoked duck pizza with goats cheese and arugula, smoked trout with roasted fennel & red onions. Things I bought that I thought about making things with but shoved to the side.....golden beets, green onions, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cherries.....I know I will eventually use them, but this was really starting to tick me off that I couldn't focus!

This morning I hit up the Channel Islands farmers market (new favorite!) and was hoping for some fresh fish/shellfish to pique my interest and light a fire under me.

I found it here....

On a dockside boat selling fresh fish, they had fresh Sand Dabs, which I love....tender and flaky white meat fish. Flat like a flounder or halibut, they are too small to fillet and most fishermen in our area tend to regard them as a pain in the ass and toss them back when they get them.

Not me...I love 'em fried, sauteed, grilled, simply salted, , herb crusted or smothered in sauce. So if you get them, just let me know and I will come pick them up from you. :)

And then I found inspiration at another booth that featured dried fruits of all sorts. The gal that was selling mentioned wrapping aforementioned fruit in bacon and you can imagined what I did at that point.

I drooled a little. For real. Because you know I have this little thing for anything with bacon, right?

At that point I was sold and my menu was DONE!

My menu tonight for my Mom....also known as Mama, Lynn, Lynnie, Lynnerd, Muffy, Fluffy, Mommifer, Ame, Amy, Seeeester and a few other names I am probably forgetting.

First we start out with champagne and toast to her first because she is the best mom in my life, then Nana and Grandma Kenton next and then every other wonderful "mother" I have ever had in my life....Mar Jane, Rik Rik, Debby, Christine, Karen and a number of other kick ass ladies who know that I love you so much.

Nibbles Platter

Morbier Cheese
Brown Sugar & Fennel Salami (from Boccalone in San Francisco, YUM!!)
Pango-A Pineapple/Mango blend of dried fruit from the PH Farmers Market

Bacon Wrapped Figs stuffed with Bleu Cheese
These were so good and gone so fast I couldn't get a picture!

Smoked Trout on Crostini with Grilled Fennel & Red Onion

Flatbread Pizza with Smoked Duck Breast, Goats Cheese & Arugula

Pan Seared Sand Dabs with Wilted Pea Shoots & Sweet Corn & Langostino Sauce*
Recipe Below!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream drizzled with Bonny Doon Framboise

Yo Mama.....This Blog's for you. I love you. :)

*I made this recipe up on the fly and am sooooo happy with it. There is not much I would do different, but there is some room for flexibility should you wish to change it up. The Langostino can be substituted for shrimp if you wish, it will be equally as good. However the combo of shellfish and corn is one that can't be beat!

Pan Seared Sand Dabs with Wilted Pea Shoots & Sweet Corn Langostino Sauce

2 Cups Shrimp Stock
3 Ears of Corn, kernels cut off
1 Cup frozen Langostino (Trader Joe's has the best!), defrosted
1/4-1/3 # Fresh Pea Shoots (Ventura & Channel Islands Farmers Market!)
4 Sand Dabs, Cleaned, (Channel Islands Farmers Market!)
3 T Winter Savory, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste

Reduce shrimp stock to 1 cup. Take 1/3 of the corn kernels and puree in blender or food processor, strain through mesh and add to shrimp stock. Cook gently and season with salt to taste. Add corn kernels and cook for 5 minutes. Chop langostino and add to the sauce.

Spray a large nonstick pan with nonstick spray or oil and heat until smoking. Season Sand Dabs with S&P, add to the pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes on a side. the fish is very delicate so be careful.

Meanwhile, wilt pea shoots in a pan with a little butter or oil until tender.

De-bone fish one side at a time. This fish comes away from the bones very easily, just make sure you get the dorsal and pectoral fins out as they both have little pin bones as well...again, very easy to take out.

Ladle sauce in a lipped plate or shallow bowl, top with pea shoots and fish fillets and serve.

Happy Mothers Day from me and from my beautiful Mommy!

May 5, 2010

Today I am Mexican

And two months ago I was Irish.

No matter that I am half German, a quarter Lithuanian and a quarter Scots with a possibility of some English (my Great Grandma McKaye swore on her deathbed we were related to Sir Walter Raleigh....Sweet! Got a pirate in my family tree!). When it comes to certain holidays I, as many Americans, celebrate St. Patricks Day like I am Irish as Paddy's Pig and Cinco de Mayo like I am Juanita Conchita Gonzalez Ruiz from Pueblo.

Green Beers and Corned Beef or Margaritas and Tacos, it doesn't really matter. We celebrate the occasion and hopefully know the reason behind each one, even if this is not the culture we stem from.

Because America IS a melting pot. Why not celebrate?


Snakes were driven out of a country sometime in the 1600's by a Saint from the Roman Catholic Church and Mexico defeated France in a very unlikely victory in the year 1862.....Randomly this is actually celebrated more in California than it is in Mexico...so.....

So we eat and drink and celebrate because of this and for a brief moment we all are Irish and/or Mexican.

Even if we aren't.

Tonight I am Mexican.....

I came home and had a margarita instead of my glass of wine. A Cadillac Margarita, because that is how I roll. I love me a margarita, but don't even think about serving it to me without salt, serving it blended or without Cointreau or Grand Marnier floating on top. I'll kick your ass, make fun of you and find a new bartender.

My enchiladas were a "new" recipe....and by that I mean I made the recipe up on the fly and I can claim it as my own. Got to love it because it really does have some flexibility on the ingredients and you can make do with what you have instead of making a special trip to the store if you don't have to. I think next time I want to add corn to it (because I love corn almost as much as bacon) and try it with corn tortillas instead of flour. we shall see....if you make any deviations, let me know!

Steak and Chile Enchiladas

1 Medium Red Onion, medium dice
3 Anaheim Chiles, seeded and sliced thin
2 Green Onions, Sliced

Jalapeno Oil*

1/2 cup chopped Cilantro

2# Beef Steaks, cut in 1/4" pieces (I used tri tip steaks this time)

8 oz Green Salsa (tomatillo)

8 Oz Jack Cheese, Shredded
8 Oz Ranchero Cheese or Queso Freso, crumbled


Corn or Flour Tortillas

Saute the onions and peppers in the Jalapeno oil until soft. Set aside in a large bowl. Add Chopped Cilantro. Saute beef in Jalapeno Oil (*Can be substituted for olive oil, but if you want the heat, add a few chopped jalapenos) until browned but not cooked all the way through. Add to chile and onion mixture. When cool, add 1/2 of the cheese and 1/2 cup Green Salsa. Season with a little garlic salt, cumin and chili powder to taste....maybe 1/2 - 3/4 tsp of each.
Salt and pepper as needed to your taste.

Pour 1/4 cup of the green salsa in a greased 9x9 pan and spread around the bottom. Fill tortillas with meat and chile mixture and place seam side down in the pan...this recipe filled 5-9" tortillas for me.

Pour remaining green salsa over the top and spread around to cover.

Top with remaining cheese and bake at 400 for about 30 minute until bubbly and delicious looking. if your oven runs hot, cover with a piece of greased aluminum foil so the cheese doesn't burn.

Salud! Y feliz Cinco de Mayo!

May 1, 2010

Eating on the run

All of a sudden I looked up and it is May.


Holy crap, where is the year going? Two minutes ago it was January and I was up to my eyes in phone calls. Now it is May (MAY!) and I have hit the ground running straight in to the busiest June I have seen in years. I am selling and booking, organizing and detailing, checking in on my groups and my teams groups, helping out at the hotel where needed and somewhere in the middle of that I remember to eat

Early morning meetings find me skipping my daily walk (ugh) and grabbing a bite at work while passing through the kitchen. A bite of fruit, slice of bacon, blueberry muffin is what I get for breakfast. Maybe make a cup of instant oatmeal in the microwave in my office and always, always eat it at my desk. This morning I had a half of a shrimp burrito from Tacos Jalisco, cold of course, while I was driving to work.

Lunch is whatever leftovers mom gifts me with or that I have brought home from last nights dinner out because I got home too late to cook anything. Or I run out in to Ojai to run errands for myself, my clients and my co-workers and grab a Rubens Burrito or if we are splurging, a delicious entree from Osteria Monte Grappa. Today I got to inhale leftover Chinese food, heated up.....at my desk of course.....in between a site and a wedding

Tonight's dinner will most likely be hors d' ouevres snitched from a hot box during the wedding reception and then a glass of wine at home before I pass out and come back to do it all again tomorrow.

I love my job.