Archive for the ‘Cooking demo’ Category


Green Grape Heirloom and Avocado Gazpacho

August 24, 2010

I’m finally at the end of the Tomato Summer Tour 2010. The last recipe of the evening was Green Grape Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Gazpacho.

I know lots of bloggers eat and make gazpacho on a regular basis, so I was excited to see what this option would taste like. I’ve ordered gazpacho in restaurants, just never made it myself. Now I’m kicking myself – it’s so dang easy to make and perfect for a hot weather/summer meal.

The Ingredients:

25-30 Green Grape Heirloom Tomatoes
2 Cucumbers  – peeled, seeded, and diced
2 Limes – juiced
1/2- 1 Cup Chicken or Veggie Stock – Chef Terese used Chicken – I’d use veggie to make it vegetarian.
1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1 Small Jalapeño
2 Green Onions – sliced, including green tops
2 Ripe Avocados – add extra virgin olive oil if the avocados aren’t ripe enough – it makes them creamier.
Salt and Pepper to taste – 1/2 a teaspoon at least
Croutons, Cilantro and Extra Virgin Olive Oil for garnish

In a blender, puree cucumbers, tomatoes, lime juice, 1/2 cup broth, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, jalapeño, green onions, and 1 of the avocados, diced. Season to taste, with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until the next day.

To serve, thin gazpacho with additional broth if desired. Dice remaining avocado finely and add to gazpacho base. Pour into bowls and garnish with cilantro leaves and croutons and top with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

I really liked it. Kristen, my cooking class partner in crime, would have rather had tortilla chips to dip into it.  She isn’t a fan of cold soups in general, but in her defense, it did taste a little like salsa verde. It was pretty acidic and everyone at the table stopped eating after 3-4 spoonfuls.

I’ve seen green, white, red – smooth, thick and chunky gazpacho soups. Some recipes use bell peppers, onion, lemon, and other fruits. I guess it’s like other soup recipes, lots and lots of variations.

Do you have a favorite gazpacho recipe to share?


Strozzapreti w/Brie and Tomatoes

August 22, 2010

Strozzapreti (Priest choker in Italian) is an elongated, hand rolled pasta. One of the legends created to explain the origin of the “Priest choker” name goes back to the tradition of women from Romagna (south-eastern portion of present-day Emilia-Romagna) preparing this type of hand rolled pasta for the local priests, while the husbands, evidently opposed to the influence of the church/clergy in political affairs, wished that the  priests would choke while  stuffing themselves with the pasta.

I had never seen the pasta before. Chef Terese used Montebello Organic Strozzapreti, but any tubular pasta would be fine. Penne or Fusilli would work great for the Strozzapreti with Brie, Tomatoes and Basil recipe.

The Ingredients:
1 lb. Good Quality Pasta – Any tube shape will work
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Small Garlic Cloves – put through a press
2 Cups of Assorted Color Heirloom Tomatoes – Chef Terese used Purple Calabash, Aunt Ruby’s German Green and Persimmon
8 ounces Brie cheese – cut into small chunks  – Chef Terese used the good/expensive stuff – if you aren’t used to buying the good stuff, it has a more robust flavor. You could substitute with a mild Brie or use goat cheese instead.
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Parmesan Cheese  – sprinkled on top
Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

Bring 4-5 quarts of salted water to a boil. Drop in the pasta and cooked to desired doneness and drain. Do not rinse your pasta people!

Place the hot pasta into a large bowl. Toss the cubes of Brie into the pasta first and mix. Then add the tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. You may need more olive oil, totally up to you. Add some Parmesan to the bowl before serving.

This dish can be served multiple ways. Hot, cold or at room temperature – it really doesn’t matter. Chef Teresa suggested it as a great potluck dish. I have to say, it was not one of my favorites of the evening, but I did enjoy it. I obviously buy cheap Brie – because it’s more mellow than what she used. The Brie she used was more than $20 and had a very distinct “stink” – hah! I’m definitely going to give this dish a try with a more mellow Brie or I’ll try the goat cheese. Most people at the table felt the same way. Sometimes fancy isn’t the way to go if your palate isn’t used to it.

All that aside, I was excited to learn the origin of a new pasta (to me), and I think I can use this recipe as a base to create many others.


Pizzettas with Heirloom Tomatoes

August 21, 2010

I am definitely a pizza girl. If I had limited food choices to eat for the rest of my life, cheese pizza would top the list. I’m not much of a meat on my pizza girl – occasionally, but I prefer plain cheese. If I add toppings, it’s usually tomatoes, spinach, caramelized onions, mushrooms,  (Round Table paper-thin is my favorite) or olives. I do sometimes eat Hawaiian pizza or Round Table – pepperoni, mushroom and olive – but it’s a rare thing.

Thin crust vs. thick crust? – I prefer thin crusted pizza, but I do love a great Chicago style thick crust – just not when ordering plain cheese. Needs to be loaded with toppings.

Well, now that you are “all up in my pizza” dos and don’ts – let me share an amazing Corn Meal Pizza Dough and Pizzettas with Heirloom Tomato recipe with you.

Dough Ingredients:

1 Package Active Dry Yeast
Pinch of Sugar
3/4 Cups Warm Water (100 degrees F)
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Corn Meal
1 1/2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Recipe makes two 8-10 inch pizzas or 6 pizzettas – depending on size


In a mixing bowl combine the yeast, water and sugar and mix well. Let sit for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble.

Add in remaining ingredients and knead to a rough ball. Knead by hand for 12-15 minutes or in a mixer for 8-10 minutes. Dough should be smooth and elastic (pressing an indentation into the dough should spring back).

Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Place in a warm area and let dough double in size (about 1 hour). Punch dough down and portion into desired number of pieces. Let dough rest 5 minutes before rolling out.

Pizzetta Ingredients:

1/2 Recipe of dough
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
3 Heirloom Tomatoes – Sliced and drained on paper towels. Chef Terese used Black Brandy Wine
4 ounces cooked bacon* – chopped into a 1/2 inch dice
2-4 ounces parmigiano reggiano
2 ounces arugula – washed and spun dry
Sea salt and Pepper to taste
Drizzle with decent extra virgin olive oil – Chef Terese used Apollo

* Let’s talk bacon – Chef Terese used a Keller Premium-Artisan Applewood Bacon – $10/lb. and WOW was it awesome! The smoky flavored “yum factor” would be worth paying the extra money for. Don’t you like how I’ve now ramped up my game in the world of oils, cheese and bacon? Yes, I’m going to be eating Top Ramen for the non blog posting days, just so I can pay for more premium ingredients.

Pizzetta Directions – Part II:

Roll out dough to desired size. Transfer to an oiled pizza pan or onto a pizza peel dusted with flour or semolina. Place the toppings on the pizzetta starting with some cheese, then tomatoes, then bacon. Top with a little parmigiano. If using a pizza stone, preheat stone in oven and use a pizza peel to slide pizzetta on and off the stone.

Bake pizzettas in preheated 425 degree oven for 10-14 minutes or until crust is golden brown, crispy and cheese is bubbly.

Remove from oven, top with arugula and cool for a few minutes before slicing.



If you have leftover dough, you can store it in the freezer in an oiled Ziploc bag. Defrost overnight in the fridge in a covered bowl. Let rest for at least 1 hour at room temperature before working with it.


Tomato Basil Phyllo, Fillo, or Filo Tart

August 20, 2010

The Tomato Basil Phyllo Tart recipe was definitely a keeper as well. It was my 2nd favorite of the evening.

Chef Terese gave us some tips on how to go about defrosting the phyllo dough. She suggested defrosting it in the fridge overnight. The important part is to keep it moist when you are working with the dough – it dries out really fast. She used damp towels to cover the sheets she wasn’t working with. A student asked why you can’t just put it on the kitchen counter to thaw and she explained that it becomes a big, clumpy mess. The layers all stick together.

Below is a photo of the beautiful tart before cooking.

The Ingredients:
7 Sheets of Phyllo – thawed
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter – melted
1/2 Cup Grated Parmigiano
1 Cup Onion – very thinly sliced – she used sweet white and kept them in their raw form
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
Heirloom Tomatoes – cut into 1/8 inch thick slices – enough to cover the baking sheet – she used 3 large – 8 Roma could be substituted.
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, cut into a chiffonade – This is accomplished by stacking the basil leaves – or any herb leaves, rolling them tightly, then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife – this produces fine ribbons.
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

Brandy Wine, Vintage Wine and Black Pineapple Heirlooms were sliced for the tart. Chef Terese suggested laying the slices on stacked paper towels to help absorb any extra juices – you don’t want them super moist. – You can then collect the seeds off the paper towels to grow your own heirlooms. Yep, totally see that happening, hah!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line a large half sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil spray or brush with vegetable oil. Lay one sheet of phyllo (She used The Filo Factory – Organic Filo Dough) onto the parchment and brush with butter and then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of Parmigiano. No worries if it tears a little while brushing with butter – the phyllo layers are stacked – the only important one is the top layer… and even that will be covered with the tomato slices.  Repeat the butter/cheese process with the remaining 6 layers – pressing down the layers so they stick to one another.

Scatter the top with the thinly sliced onions and top with the mozzarella. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer over the phyllo, onion, and cheese slightly overlapping the tomatoes.

Sprinkle top with basil and salt and pepper. A tip for the basil – soak the basil in water for an hour so it won’t turn black while cooking in the oven.

The colors were so vibrant – I hoped that they would look as pretty when they came out of the oven and they were. Bake the tart until phyllo is crisp and golden brown – approximately 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

The tart looked amazing out of the oven. Chef Terese was able to use a spatula to just slide it right out of the pan onto her prep board. She then cut it into rectangular pieces for us to taste.

I could have eaten the entire pan. The butter flavored flaky crust… combined with the sweetness of the tomato – OMG, so freakin’ good! Even though there was 1 cup of shredded mozzarella and a 1/2 cup of Parmigiano, the heirlooms were the star.

My Dad asked if I was going to be digging up the lawn in the backyard to plant my heirloom tomato garden – too funny. I think I’ll stick to letting the pros take care of the growing. I’ll just keep buying them at the food co-op, Nugget Market and Whole Foods. I might need a second job to fund my new heirloom habit, but I’m o.k. with that. 🙂

Tomato lover? Tomato hater? Do tell…


Grilled Salmon w/Cherry Tomato Compote

August 18, 2010

The Grilled Salmon w/ Cherry Tomato Compote recipe was by far my favorite of the evening and deserves the first tomato recipe slot.

I can’t even explain in words how incredible this dish was.

Salmon Ingredients and Prep:
Four 6 ounce salmon fillets
Zest of 2 lemons
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Pepper

Coat the salmon well with olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Chef Terese explained that it’s o.k. to leave the skin on the salmon before grilling. She starts grilling with the skin side down. By the time you are done (10 minutes per inch thickness of fish) the skin will be crisp and just fall or peel right off.

Crappy photo due to the lack of light outside by the grill, but you get the idea.

Chef Terese’s assistant coated the grill with high heat cooking spray and then grilled the salmon over medium-high heat for 9 minutes per side. She thought the fish was just shy of an inch.

Chef Terese then grabbed the bowl of Purple Cherokee, Sun Gold and Green Grape heirloom cherry tomatoes to start the Cherry Tomato Compote.

Cherry Tomato Compote Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons good olive oil – she used Organic Apollo Extra Virgin Olive Oil – about $20/bottle.
2 Teaspoons minced garlic – about 2 cloves
2 Pints whole heirloom cherry tomatoes
2 Tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 Teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
Pinch of dried chili flakes
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives – If you don’t like kalamata olives,  you can use any type of olive.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the tomatoes in a single layer. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5-7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to lose their firm round shape. Chef Terese actually used the back of a big wooden spoon to smash some of the tomatoes in the saute pan.

Add in the olives and chili flakes and season with sea salt and pepper.

Top the grilled salmon with several spoonfuls of the cherry tomato compote and garnish with fresh basil.

The dish was so good, it deserved two photos – different angles – hah! The medley of cherry tomatoes combined with the saltiness of the kalamata olives was out of this world amazing. People at our table that weren’t big salmon fans, raved on and on about the dish. The only bummer was that there weren’t pieces of bread on the table to soak up the sauce – yes, it was that delicious. This would be the perfect meal to cook for a small dinner party. You could also easily substitute chicken for the salmon if you aren’t a big fish/seafood eater.

Do you guys like when I post recipes from the cooking classes I take? I know they don’t have the same level of prep detail shots that my other posts have. In the 4 classes I’ve taken, only 1 other person has had a camera.  The chefs don’t mind at all, but it feels a little awkward to get photos of the prep stuff.  Once the table I’m sitting at finds out why I’m doing it, they encourage me to go up to the front, they make sure I get a good sample for the photograph and they kind of giggle that everyone else is done with their samples while I’m still trying to perfect the perfect angle for the blog photo. I also get photo tips from people, it’s pretty funny.


Korean Beef Short Rib Bulgogi

July 24, 2010

Dish 3 of the the beer and food pairing was Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA and Korean Beef Short Rib Bulgogi. According to Molly and Sierra Nevada, Torpedo Ale is a big American IPA; bold assertive and full of flavor and aromas highlighting the complex citrus, pine and herbal character of whole-cone American hops.  Torpedo Extra IPA is the newest addition to Sierra Nevada’s year round roster of beers. 

I could definitely taste the ramped up hoppy flavor – 3 times the amount of the other beers we tasted. I learned that when pairing beers and food, the hop bitterness balances the sweetness and richness (fat) in foods and it emphasizes the spiciness (chili heat). 

It was really interesting to learn how the beer flavors interact with the food. The sweetness and maltiness of a beer balances the spiciness and acidity in food. The roasted malt, carbonation and alcohol all balance the sweetness and richness like the hop flavor does. Molly recommended the following book: Tasting Beer – an Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by author, Randy Mosher. The book has a good section on food and beer pairing.

We switched into food mode after the beer talk.

Chef Dio showed us what Korean Beef Short Rib meat was and then he got started on trimming the beef and making the marinade.

3 lb. thin cut beef short ribs (Korean Style)  – you can get them at Asian markets or specialty markets – he used Prather Ranch organic beef chuck flanken style ribs.
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, put through a press
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons Mirin
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea Salt to taste
Optional – chili pepper flakes to taste
Canola spray for grilling

Trim off excess fat from the meat. Combine the marinade ingredients and add in the meat. Mix well and marinate for 6-8 hours or overnight. (Chef Dio did ours overnight).

Preheat grill to high heat. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towel. Spray meat with canola spray and then grill meat for 2-3 minutes per side, slightly charring the meat. Brush meat as it grills with the marinade.

Chef Dio prepared a salad of red leaf lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions and kim chee. I thought the meat tasted great. It had a wonderful flavor and teaming it with a light salad was the perfect compliment. A few swigs of the Torpedo Extra IPA and we were onto the next thing.


Beer Batter Fried Fish Tacos

July 22, 2010

My absolute favorite item at the Sierra Nevada/Food pairing class was the Sierra Nevada Summerfest and Beer Batter Fried Fish Tacos with Chipotle Crema. The battered fish was epic!

When I was a kid, the only fish (and I use that term lightly) I used to eat was fish sticks. Rectangular, frozen from the box. Occasionally I’d have a Van de Kamp’s frozen triangle fillet – fancy girl – you know you’re jealous. I never in a million years predicted that I’d be a huge fan of sushi or that I’d venture out to try fish dishes at restaurants. Now I just need to get over my fear of actually buying and cooking fish.

We had a wonderful fish market where I used to live in San Jose, CA – Race Street Fish & Poultry – you could walk up to the counter and get yourself fresh fish on a daily basis. I now have the Nugget, Whole Foods, and the Farmer’s Market, but would love a walk up counter/market feel.

My biggest fish fear is getting “not so fresh” fish – that’s why I go to a reputable sushi restaurant. Enough of that, let’s get to the recipe and beer.

The Sierra Nevada Summerfest is a refreshing, pilsner-style lager. Its incredible smoothness comes from an extra-long lagering period. Molly explained that it quenches your thirst with big aroma and a tangy hop bite.  She also shared that the delicate/lighter beer had a definite bite in the end – a peppery finish. I would have to agree. It was so perfect paired with the fish, it was my favorite of the 4 we tried.

Now for the tacos…

Beer Battered Fish Taco – makes 18 tacos

1 Pound white fish fillets, skin and bones removed. – Chef Dio used Halibut, but also said he has used cod and sea bass as well.
1 12 ounce bottle of Sierra Nevada Summerfest Beer – any pilsner-style lager would do, shhhh… don’t tell Molly I said that.
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon each – sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, chili powder and garlic powder
4-6 Cups safflower oil for frying

In a dutch oven or deep wok or pot – heat oil to 375 degrees.  – You want about 3 inches of oil.

Cut fish into 1/2 inch wide strips (2-3 inches long). Count on 2 pieces of fish per taco.

Sift 1 1/2 cups flour plus the baking powder into a large bowl. Add in seasonings. Pour in just enough beer whisking gently to a light pancake batter consistency. Drink the rest, hah! Pat fish dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Dredge the pieces of fish in 1/2 cup remaining flour. Coat the fish in the beer batter and gently slide into oil. Fry fish, turning over once until deep golden and cooked through. 3-4 minutes until fish is golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in a 225 degree oven. Fry the remaining fish in batches. If you find that the fish is getting dark too fast, you might need to change out the oil.

Taco Fillings
18 fresh tortillas –
Chef Dio used a tortilla that was a corn/flour mixture.
3 cups of green cabbage – sliced very thin
Chipotle crema

Chipotle Crema
1 Cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – very important to get them really fine.
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon smoked paprika

Combine the sour cream mixture with the peppers in adobo sauce, smoked paprika and salt. Chill for 15 minutes before serving.

Warm tortillas on a griddle or in the microwave. Portion the cabbage and the fried fish between the tortillas. Top with the chipotle crema and serve immediately.

Chef Dio’s tidbit was to pre-fry the fish before guests arrived. Ours sat in the oven for a good 35-45 minutes before it was served, and the crunch and texture were spot on. Not quite sure why I don’t order battered fish more often… oh wait, maybe because it’s not the healthiest thing on the menu – oh well, indulgence is a good thing in moderation.