My Latest Cookbook: Culinary Birds

CulinaryBirds- cover 2-11-13It’s here! My latest cookbook project has been released just in time for the holidays!

For more than 7,000 years, poultry has been a mainstay of the human diet. It is the most consumed animal protein around the world and there are endless, delicious ways to prepare poultry. Culinary Birds explores a number of traditions including staples of the American table such as the many variations of roast turkey, and just about everyone’s favorite-fried chicken!

Even other countries have their delicious versions of fried chicken. Below I have included a recipe from Culinary Birds that offers a Japanese twist on this beloved dish.  Culinary Birds is available on and at bookstores throughout the country. I hope you’ll pick up a copy and ask me to sign it at one of the many events I have planned in the next few months. I’d love to meet you!

Serves 4

Known as Kara-age this is a classic nibble sold all over Japan and especially at Izakayas, the Japanese bars that dot Tokyo’s nighttime foodscape. Instead of the thick flour based batters that have come from America, this chicken is traditionally marinated, dusted with potato starch and then beautifully and crisply fried. Its got everything you’d want in a bar snack: crispy, juicy, and salty.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon sake (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through garlic press
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup potato or corn starch
Kosher or sea salt
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Cut the chicken into 2-inch pieces. Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl, add the chicken and gently stir to coat the chicken. Marinate refrigerated for 30 minutes or so.

Add vegetable oil to a heavy, deep skillet to a depth of 1 inch or so. Heat to 360 degrees. Remove chicken from the marinade and dredge them in the potato starch, shaking to remove excess. Add chicken pieces in batches if necessary to the hot oil and cook turning occasionally until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain chicken pieces on paper towels and season immediately with salt. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over.





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Beef Tagliata- A Recipe to Remember

Beef Tagliata- a recipe to remember!  Ed Aiona/Chef John Ash

Beef Tagliata- a recipe to remember! Photo Credit: Ed Aiona/Chef John Ash

One of my favorite things about food and cooking is the way it forms a connection with all of us. The communal enjoyment of tastes and flavors while sharing it with friends can be a lasting memory.

Case in point, a few years ago while participating in a cooking demo and chef discussion at Epcot Center in Orlando, I met Bill Orben, who was a writer for the Orlando Business Journal at the time. The recipe I made that day was a Grilled Beef Tagliata, and Bill says it has become a family favorite in his house.

“With some tweaks of my own, (I left out the capers because my family is not a really big fan), it is one of those dishes we likely will fix at least once a month.

My son, who was 22 at the time, attended the event at Epcot with me, and it has become a favorite in his household as well. Although he calls me each time he prepares it, asking me how long he should leave the balsamic vinegar on the stove to reduce.

The dish, served with a simple side of roasted new potatoes, is enjoyed by anyone I serve it to. I’ve cooked it at my home in Kissimmee, Fla., at my sister-in-law’s in Chattanooga, Tenn., with friends in Austin, Texas, and at a beach condo in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

I have thought about the experience of cooking with you and recently came across your card and the original recipe and thought I would send you a note to let you know how much your dish is appreciated. When me and my son get together and jointly prepare the dish, we both think back to those memories of cooking with you.”

I was really touched by this thoughtful letter, and really happy to know that recipe has become a staple for Bill Orben and his family. It is one I love too. Here is a copy of the recipe, in case you’d like to try it for your family.

Serves 6

This is one of those very simple dishes that epitomizes the best of Italian cooking to my mind – - perfectly grilled meat, spicy greens all bathed in a fragrant flavorful oil. Like all Italian recipes there are infinite variations. Tagliata comes from the Italian tagliare, which means “carved” or “cut”. It’s a technique in which the meat is cut into thin slices which produces a lot more surface area to drizzle on seasoned oils or condiments. The cheese is an important component in the overall flavor and texture of the dish.

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons fragrant extra virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1 ½ pounds New York strip steak or sirloin, about 2 inches thick, excess fat removed
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
6 cups lightly packed tender young arugula
Reduced Balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons Fried capers
Lemon wedges

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas or stovetop grill. In a small saucepan over low heat, cook 2/3 cup of the olive oil and the garlic until the garlic is lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the rosemary and cracked pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Rub the steak liberally with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season liberally with the salt and pepper. Grill the steak over high heat until rare to medium rare. (If you do this on a stovetop with a ridged grill pan, you’ll need plenty of ventilation!). Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes or so. This allows the juices to “retreat” back into the meat and redistribute themselves.

Spread the arugula on a serving platter. Slice the steak thinly across the grain. Arrange the meat on top of the arugula and pour the warm seasoned oil over the meat. Drizzle with Reduced Balsamic Vinegar and scatter Fried Capers over all. Serve with lemon wedges.

Reduced Balsamic Vinegar
Here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for and a useful restaurant trick well worth knowing. Boil some balsamic vinegar, uncovered, over high heat, until it is reduced by a little more than half—say 60 percent. As it cools, it will thicken into a syrup that can be drizzled over all manner of things. Its advantage over straight-out-of-the-bottle balsamic is that in this state, it “stays put.” It can be stored at room temperature almost indefinitely.

Fried Capers
When capers are fried, they take on a different flavor and texture that I really like. Drain the capers well, pat dry with paper towels, and then fry them in small batches in about ¼ inch of hot olive oil until the buds begin to open and are lightly browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Can be done a few hours in advance.



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Sustainable Seafood Choice- Arctic Char

I’ve just returned from this year’s Cooking for Solutions  event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I have been on the board of this event since its inception because I believe it is important we all educate ourselves in making sustainable seafood choices and help preserve our oceans.

This year, my recipes at the event focused on Arctic Char, a fish that resembles salmon in taste, but also has some of the same flavors as trout. Arctic char is also known as Alpine Char, or you may find it on a sushi menu labeled as Iwana. Arctic char is both a fresh and saltwater fish that is available wild only for a few months in the fall. Farmed arctic char is available year-round, and since the farms are land-based, closed-circle farming systems that treat their wastewater, Seafood Watch ranks this fish as a “Best Choice”.


Here is a recipe I made at this year’s Cooking for Solutions event. Give Arctic Char a try- and let me know what you think!


Serves 4

The kale pesto is more than you’ll need for this recipe. It keeps very well so try it the next day withpasta!IMG_0960

8 thin slices prosciutto
Four 5 ounce arctic char fillets, about 3/4 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Kale pesto (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/2 cup each dry white wine and fish or chicken stock
2 tablespoons soft butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay two slices of prosciutto side by side on a flat surface. Put one piece of arctic char crosswise on the prosciutto and season lightly with salt and pepper. Generously coat the top side of the fish with the pesto and wrap the prosciutto securely around the fish. Repeat with remaining fish.
Add olive oil to a skillet large enough to hold fish in one layer and heat over medium high heat. Lightly brown the wrapped fish on both sides. Place pan into the preheated oven and cook another 4 minutes or until the fish is just done. Remove the fish to warm plates.

Add the shallots to the pan and cook until softened but not brown, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the liquid until it becomes syrupy and then whisk in the butter. Season to taste, pour over the fish and serve immediately.

Kale pesto
Makes 2 cups

4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 quart chopped kale (Lacinato preferred), any tough center ribs discarded
2/3 cup freshly shredded parmesan
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, blanched almonds or walnuts
1 cup or so extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the garlic and allow it to simmer for a minute. Add kale, bring the water back to the boil, stirring it a few times until kale softens, about 2 minutes.

Drain the kale and garlic and immediately plunge into cold water to stop the cooking and preserve the kale’s green color. Drain again when cool. Remove garlic, peel and set aside. Squeeze the kale with your hands to remove as much of the water as possible.

Add the garlic, kale and remainder of ingredients to a food processor. Process until mixture is pureed to your liking. It should have a little texture. You may want to add more olive oil to reach desired consistency.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 7 days. Can be frozen for up to 3 months.



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Sustainable Black Cod in a Spicy Coconut Broth

Cooking for Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium  is back! I have been involved with this event since it 


began, and I’m passionate about its mission: to help consumers, chefs and businesses choose seafood that is caught or farmed in ways that contribute to healthy oceans.

Cooking for Solutions takes place this year May 17-19, and there are still tickets available for several events. Cooking for Solutions supports the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s respected Seafood Watch program, recognized as the leader in creating science-based recommendations for choosing sustainable seafood. The event includes three days of tastings with celebrity chefs, including Carla Hall  from The Chew . You’ll find food from more than 80 restaurants, and nearly 60 wineries will pour their latest selections. I am part of a Food & Wine Adventure on Saturday, May 18, in the Carmel Highlands, and look forward to these intimate classes each year.

One of my favorite sustainable seafood choices is Black Cod, also known as Sablefish or Butterfish. It has a delicious flavor and one of its best attributes is that even if you overcook it a bit, the fish is still moist and firm.

Sablefish, courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sablefish, courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium

This recipe for Black Cod in a Spicy Coconut Broth uses a curry mixture called laksa   . It has its roots in Malaysia. And if you want to replace the spinach, you could use other Asian greens like steamed baby bok choy. I hope you enjoy the recipe- and let me know what you think of Black Cod!



Serves 4

4 fillets of fresh black cod cut at least 3/4 inch thick (approximately 1-1/2 pounds total)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups lightly packed young spinach
1 cup chicken stock
1-1/2 cups coconut milk, well stirred
3/4 cup laksa paste or to taste (recipe follows)

Garnish: Daikon or other savory sprouts such as sunflower

Pat the cod dry, season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an ovenproof sauté pan (preferably non-stick) over moderately high heat and quickly sauté fish on one side until nicely browned. Turn fish over and place pan in a preheated 450-degree oven for 4 – 5 minutes or until just cooked through.

While fish is cooking heat the stock and coconut milk in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Stir in laksa paste and keep warm.

To serve add remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and heat over moderately high heat. Add spinach stir-fry until just beginning to wilt, about 1 minute. Place spinach in the center of shallow warm bowls and top with cod. Ladle broth around, top with sprouts and serve immediately.

Laksa Paste
Makes a little more than a cup

2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (or to taste)*
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1/3 cup chopped and toasted macadamia nuts or blanched almonds
1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped ginger
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons fish sauce (or to taste)
Juice and zest from 2 large limes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup or so coconut milk

Add all ingredients except coconut milk to a blender and process for a minute or two or until very smooth. Add mixture to a small saucepan and cook over moderate heat for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Should be very fragrant. Stir in coconut milk and cook for 2 – 3 minutes more. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

*Chili garlic sauce is available in the Asian markets and the Asian section of some supermarkets. Lee Kum Kee from Hong Kong is a widely distributed brand.



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Photo from sk8geek

Photo from sk8geek

For many of us, the Easter ham is a tradition that goes back generations! This is a recipe for one my favorite versions. I hope you enjoy!

Serves 10 to 12
1 10 to12-pound fully cooked, bone-in smoked ham (shank end), room temperature
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup apple jelly, warmed
2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
3 whole allspice
3 whole cloves
Zest of 1 orange plus 2 oranges cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 2-inch long piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Position a rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 325°F.
Using a sharp knife, score the fat covering the ham in a 1-inch-wide diamond pattern (do not cut into the meat). Place the ham in a roasting pan and add 1 cup water. Roast the ham for 2 hours.

While the ham is roasting, prepare the glaze. In a heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, combine orange juice, brown sugar, and bourbon. Bring to a simmer and continue simmering for 10 minutes. Add the jelly, shallots, allspice, cloves and zest, bring to a boil and reduce until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the orange slices and ginger, and cook until the orange slices are tender, about 2 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, score the fat covering the ham in a 3/4-inch-wide diamond pattern (do not cut into the meat). Place the ham in a 10-by-14-inch roasting pan and add 1 cup water. Roast the ham for 2 hours.
Drape the glazed orange slices over the ham, securing them with toothpicks, and brush the ham and oranges with about 1/2 cup of glaze, reserving the remainder for serving. Continue roasting the ham until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 145°F, about 30 minutes.

To serve: Remove the toothpicks from the ham and arrange the orange slices on a platter. Slice the ham and arrange on top of the oranges. Warm the remaining glaze and serve alongside.

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Sexy Recipes to Woo Your Valentine

Food and Love have always had a special association. M.F.K. Fisher notes in her wonderful little book An Alphabet for Gourmets that gastronomy has always been connected with its sister art of love. “Passion and sex is the come-and-go, the preening and the prancing, the final triumph or defeat, of two people who know enough, subconsciously or not, to woo with food as well as flattery”. Here are 3 recipes to start the dance.

Photo from Jespahjoy

Photo from Jespahjoy


Serves 6

With the unprecedented cheese renaissance in this country, this old war horse of the 60’s and 70’s is making a huge comeback. Time to unearth that old fondue pot and long forks or wooden skewers and treat your sweetie to something special.

Emmental and Gruyère are the most commonly used cheeses in a classic fondue, but Appenzeller, Comté, Beaufort, Tête de Moine — all relatively low in moisture — also work fine. The addition of cornstarch keeps the cheese and wine from separating.

As an additional treat, when you’re almost done eating the fondue, leave a thin coating of cheese on the bottom of the pot. Lower the flame and allow the coating to turn into a brown crust, then break it into pieces and share it with your guests. The crust is considered a delicacy in Switzerland.

1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons kirsch
1/2 pound Emmental cheese, coarsely grated (2 cups)
1/2 pound Gruyère , coarsely grated (2 cups)

Accompaniments: Cubes of French bread, apple wedges, cubes of smoked ham, boiled baby new potatoes or whatever else you’d like.

Rub inside of a 4-quart heavy pot with cut sides of garlic, and then discard garlic. Add wine to pot and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat.

Stir together cornstarch and kirsch in a cup.

Gradually add cheese to pot and cook, stirring constantly in a zigzag pattern (not a circular motion) to prevent cheese from balling up, until cheese is just melted and creamy (do not let boil). Stir cornstarch mixture again and stir into fondue. Bring fondue to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to fondue pot set over a flame and serve with bread and other accompaniments for dipping.



Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

oysterShuckingInvented at Antoine’s in New Orleans in 1899, the dish was named after John D. Rockefeller , the richest American at the time, for the richness of the sauce. Antoine’s has kept the original recipe secret but all kinds of interpretations exist. Basically it includes a rich cream sauce with spinach and other greens and flavored with Pernod or anisette. This version omits the rich sauce but is still full of flavor.

24 small to medium oysters
2 cups gently packed young spinach leaves
1-1/2 cups gently packed watercress, large stems removed or more spinach
1/3 cup gently packed celery leaves
5 tablespoons butter
1 ounce Pernod or other licorice flavored liqueur
Salt to taste
Drops of lemon juice and your favorite hot sauce to taste
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Shuck the oysters discarding the flat top shells. Drain the oysters and strain their liquor and refrigerate both until ready to cook. Wash deep shell inside and out and set aside.

Blanch the spinach, watercress and celery leaves in lightly salted, boiling water for 30 seconds until wilted. Strain and rinse thoroughly in cold water to stop the cooking and set the bright green color. Add the greens to a food processor along with the green onions and pulse to chop very finely (or can be done by hand).

Melt butter in a skillet over moderate heat and add chopped greens and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the strained liquor, Pernod and season to your taste with salt, drops of lemon juice and pepper sauce and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet with 1/3 inch or so rock or coarse salt and press reserved oyster shells into the salt to keep them upright. Place an oyster in each and divide the green sauce among them. Top with parmesan and bake until sauce is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned, about 8 minutes.



Makes 20,  serving 4

You could also use fresh pasta for this in place of the won tons. It will take a little longer to cook of course.

1/2 pound tender young asparagus, woody ends discarded, tips reserved
Sea salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup farmer or whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or mashed anchovy fillets
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
40 wonton wrappers

For the sauce
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds or pine nuts, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly grated lemon zest
Parsley Sprigs for garnish, preferably fried

For the ravioli: Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil in a saucepan. Add asparagus tips and cook till tender but still bright green, 1 minute. Drain and shock in ice water drain again and set aside. Cut stalks into 1-inch lengths and cook as above. Dry stalks on a paper towels and chop very finely in a food processor or by hand. Place in a bowl.

Add cheeses and remaining ingredients except wontons and stir together. Taste and adjust seasoning. Place a scant tablespoon of filling on half of the wrappers. Using a pastry brush, paint water around edge of each square. Top each with one of the reserved wrappers and press edges firmly to seal. If you don’t cook ravioli right away, cover with a damp cloth.

Bring salted water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add ravioli and bring to a boil. As soon as ravioli rise to the top, about 1 minute, remove with a slotted spoon to warmed plates.

For the sauce: While waiting for water to boil, melt butter in a skillet over moderate heat and add almonds, shaking pan. Cook until butter turns a light brown color. Add reserved asparagus tips and drizzle over ravioli. Top with a grinding or two of pepper, some freshly grated parmesan and a little lemon zest. Garnish with parsley sprigs.

John Ash © 2013



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A Super Bowl Snack with a Spicy Twist

Grilled Shrimp Wrapped in Soppressata with Mango Hot Sauce

Grilled Shrimp Wrapped in Soppressata with Mango Hot Sauce

This is one of those combinations that sounds weird, but is a crowd-pleaser. This recipe for Grilled Shrimp Wrapped in Soppressata with Mango Hot Mustard Sauce was published in my John Ash Cooking One on One cookbook. Depending on the color of the soppressata you get, you can show your San Francisco 49er spirit with the red meat and the beautiful gold colored sauce.

You can serve it as an appetizer or as a main course, with steamed jasmine or basmati rice. If you serve it as an appetizer, I suggest you skewer each shrimp individually, which will result in less mess for the guest, and for you!

Soppressata is a cured Italian sausage similar to salami. It has a wonderful, peppery flavor and is generally available at good delicatessens. Ask for it very thinly sliced so it will stay wrapped around the shrimp better during grilling.

This recipe serves 4 as a main course, 8 as an appetizer. You can multiply it to fit your crowd.

Grilled Shrimp Wrapped in Soppressata with
Mango Hot Mustard Sauce

16 small fresh basil leaves
16 large (16-20 size) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and brined if you like
16 thin slices of soppressata
Mango Hot Mustard Sauce (see recipe below)

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas or stovetop grill. Place a basil leaf on the side of each shrimp and wrap the shrimp with a slice of the soppressata. Grill the shrimp until just cooked through. The center should be very slightly translucent- you can check with the point of a small knife. Serve immediately with the sauce spooned over or arranged for dipping.

Mango Hot Mustard Sauce
½ cup pureed ripe mango (from 1 medium mango) or canned
¼ cup fresh tangerine or orange juice
¾ teaspoon Chinese hot mustard powder, or to taste
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon canola or other neutral flavored oil
Salt to taste

Combine the mango, tangerine juice, mustard powder, lime juice, vinegar, and wine in a blender and pulse 3 or 4 times to pureé and combine. Add the canola oil and pulse 3 or 4 times more to make a smooth sauce. Season with salt. Set the sauce aside for at least 2 hours while the flavors marry and build. The sauce can be warmed gently, but do not simmer or boil. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes about 1 cup.



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Gluten Free Dishes for Holiday Gatherings

As we gather for the holidays with friends and family for great meals and get togethers, you may find that some of your guests are on a gluten-free diet. It is becoming more common as an increasing number of people discover they are allergic to gluten.  Some folks choose to adopt this way of eating for its health benefits.

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is the ingredients that give dough elasticity. It is sometimes added to foods for thickening or a flavoring ingredient. People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease have a high sensitivity to gluten. Eating a gluten-free diet has been linked to a decrease in cholesterol levels, and some feel it increases their energy and efficiency levels. Gluten is also used in a variety of processed foods, so by avoiding those, you avoid eating gluten as well as many other bad ingredients.

This month I’ll be teaching cooking classes at Rancho La Puerta , a health resort and spa in Baja,Mexico. We’ll be making some gluten-free recipes in one of these sessions, and I would like to share some of those recipes with you below. These will be great dishes to make for holidays and throughout the year. They will satisfy guests who are following a gluten-free diet, and those who are just looking for great food to eat!


Makes enough to fill a 3-cup mold or dish

The simplicity of this recipe belies its great taste. Serve with crisp non-gluten croutes, toasts or crackers of your choice and, as the French do, with some little cornichons and grainy mustard on the side.

1 ounce dried wild mushrooms such as porcini
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots or green onions (white part only)
1-1/4 pounds thickly sliced fresh wild or exotic cultivated mushrooms*
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons curry powder or to your taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup toasted, preferably unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons toasted nut oil such as walnut or olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, chives and/or basil
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Rinse the dried mushrooms quickly and let soak in warm water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain, squeeze dry and chop.

Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over moderately high heat. Add the shallots, all mushrooms, garlic, curry and cumin and sauté and stir until mixture is just beginning to brown and all liquid has evaporated.

While mushrooms are cooking add the cashews to a food processor and process till finely chopped. Add oil and continue to process to make a paste or butter. Add the mushroom mixture and process till almost smooth. Stir in the herbs and zest and season with salt and pepper to your taste and place in a 3-cup pate mold or other ceramic dish. Can be stored covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Allow to return to room temperature to serve.

*A caution here – - only use wild mushrooms that you are certain are edible. If you are not a hunter you can certainly substitute wild or cultivated mushrooms found in the market such as chanterelle, shiitake, cremini, portabella, oyster, etc.

Serves 4 – 6

Brining is a terrific way to add flavor and succulence to not only shrimp by poultry, pork, and finned fishes. Note that kosher salt is called for in this recipe. If using sea ordinary table salt reduce the amount of salt to 1/4 cup. Also note that I’m asking you to save the shrimp shells. They can be used to make a delicious shelf fish stock for use in other recipes. Store them frozen until you are ready to make stock.

For the Brine
1/3 cup each kosher salt and brown sugar
1 quart cold water

For the Marinade
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 pound large shrimp (16 – 20 per pound) peeled and deveined (save the shells!)
Salsa Verde (recipe follows)

Garnish: Sprigs of cilantro

Prepare brine by stirring salt, sugar and water together until dissolved. Add shrimp and refrigerate for 20 minutes or so. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Remove shrimp from the brine and rinse thoroughly. Toss with the marinade to coat the shrimp and marinate for up to 1 hour, refrigerated.

Grill shrimp on both sides over medium hot coals (or alternately under a hot broiler) until they are just cooked through, about 3 minutes total, turning halfway through. Place shrimp on plates and top with the salsa and cilantro sprigs. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 1 cup

This is a quick little sauce of Spanish origin that is delicious on all kinds of grilled, pan seared or roasted meats, fish and vegetables. Note that I’ve used blanched or roasted garlic rather than the fresh raw type. I think this is especially important if you are going to make the sauce ahead. Over time, raw garlic can become harsh and hot. Blanched or roasted garlic maintains its more subtle and sweet flavor and doesn’t overpower the sauce as it sits.

2 cups coarsely chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or mint
4 (or more) anchovy fillets in oil
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 tablespoons blanched or roasted garlic (see note below)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2/3 cup or so fruity extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add the parsley, anchovies, capers, garlic, basil and zest to a food processor or blender. With machine running, slowly add the oil until just blended. Sauce should still have a little texture. Season with salt and pepper. Can be stored covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

To blanch garlic, separate cloves but don’t peel. Place in a small sauce pan and cover with at least ½ inch of cold water. Place on stove over high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as water boils, drain and repeat process one more time. Rinse to cool off cloves. Remove husk from poached garlic and store covered in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

To roast garlic, cut off top quarter of a whole head to expose each of the cloves. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap loosely in foil and roast in a preheated 375-degree oven for 30 – 40 minutes or until garlic is soft when gently squeezed. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Squeeze out as needed.





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Bacon Recipe Contest Winner

Me and my radio co-host, Steve Garner, broadcasting from the finals of the Bacon Recipe Contest for The Good Food Hour

Earlier this month my radio co-host, Steve Garner, and I hosted a Bacon Recipe Contest on our radio show, The Good Food Hour on KSRO in Sonoma County. We had some great entries, and did the difficult work of narrowing them down to four finalists. The contest was held November 3rd at G&G Supermarket in Santa Rosa, and one delicious winner emerged.

Bob Cronbach created two recipes that can be served separately, but served together, they earned him the Grand Prize! As a child, Bob was once crowned the “Junior Pancake King”, and says these recipes were

Bob Cronbach and me interacting during the Bacon Recipe Contest finals

inspired by his early cooking experiences and experiments. The Apple Bacon Fritter is versatile since it could be served plain as a snack, or dusted with powdered sugar or served with maple syrup and fruit, it could be served for breakfast. Serve it with his Maple Bacon Pecan Ice Cream, and you have a dessert that will really impress your holiday guests! There were a total of four winners chosen, and you can find all of their recipes on KSRO’s website.

All of the Bacon Recipe Contest Finalists with hosts- Laurie Figone, me, Marna Hill, Bob Cronbach, Steve Garner, and Olarn Tonverapongsiri

This was our 26th Recipe Cooking Contest and we’ve always had a great time with these.  I am sad to say this will be the last cooking contest we will host on KSRO, as the station recently cut our radio show and has replaced it with syndicated programming. I feel that local media programming is just as important as buying local produce and supporting local businesses. The Good Food Hour may re-emerge in another form, but in the meantime, you can always keep in touch with me here and on my Facebook page.

Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

The winning dish!

Bacon Apple Fritter

4-5 Thick cut slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon
3 medium sized, firm apples
1 cup of Bisquick
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
4 cups of oil, preferably peanut or corn

In a deep fryer or deep sauce pan, heat oil to 350 degrees

Dice the bacon and cook over medium heat to crispy lardons. Remove with slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Set aside to cool.

Peel, core and dice apples, approximately 1/3 inch. You should have about 4 cups.

Combine and mix all dry ingredients.

Whisk together the wet ingredients, then combine with dry ingredients. Stir bacon and apples into the batter. You want a thick batter, and you may need to add more Bisquick or milk as needed.

When oil is at right temperature, drop batter into the oil, 1 tablespoon at a time. Do not crowd. Brown one side, then turn. Remove to paper towels with slotted spoon to drain. Between batches, monitor oil temperature and adjust flame as needed.


Maple Bacon Pecan Ice Cream

1 cup grade B maple syrup
4 cups half & half
2 tablespoons strong, cold coffee or espresso
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
5 egg yolks
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon (about 6 slices)
¾ cup Pecans

Special equipment: candy thermometer, ice cream maker

In a medium saucepan over moderate heat, reduce the maple syrup to 1/2 cup. Set aside.
Over moderate heat in a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half and coffee with 1/2 cup sugar until hot and just bubbling around the edges.

In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with 1/2 cup sugar, then add 1 cup hot half-and-half mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour the whole egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon and registers 170 degrees F on a thermometer. Do not let the mixture boil!

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl and whisk in the maple syrup. Cover with parchment paper letting the paper touch the surface of the mixture, to prevent a skin from forming. Chill the mixture until very cold, at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a rimmed sheet pan with heavy foil. Place a baking rack over the lined sheet pan and arrange the bacon slices across the rack next to each other. Bake until crispy, about 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, finely chop.

On the 2nd rimmed sheet pan, spread out pecans and bake with Bacon 6-10 minutes. Check at 5 minutes and shake pan to prevent burning and to get an even roast. When roasted, let cool, chop, and set aside.

Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, 20 to 30 minutes and at the last minute, add the pecans and bacon and let churn until just combined. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze.

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Got Bacon? And a Great Recipe?

Photo from GoodNCrazy

For more than 26 years I have been co-hosting a Saturday morning show called “The Good Food Hour” on KSRO, a local Sonoma County radio station. Each year, my co-host, Steve Garner and I, host a cooking contest and this year we’ve decided to feature an ingredient that’s near and dear to most of our hearts: Bacon!

The minute you hear it sizzle in the hot pan, or take in its intoxicating smell while it’s cooking, bacon invokes passion in many of us. It is truly nature’s perfect food, and you will find it in a four-star restaurant, to a Sunday morning breakfast at a local diner or even at home. In addition, the versatility of bacon is unmatched. From appetizers (remember rumaki?), soups, salads, breads and spreads, breakfast and main dishes, vegetables, even desserts, something with bacon always gets my attention.

Four finalists will assemble at G&G Supermarket in Santa Rosa on Saturday November 3rd at 11 a.m. where their dishes will be tasted live during The Good Food Hour broadcast. The panel of judges will include me, Steve Garner, and a panel of celebrity judges. Winners will be selected during The Good Food Hour, from 11am to 12 noon. Prizes include gift certificates, cookbooks, wine, and cooking classes!

Your original and creative bacon must be received by Wednesday October 31, 2012 at 5 p.m. You may email, mail, or fax your recipe entries to:
KSRO Recipe Contest
P.O. Box 2158, Santa Rosa, CA 95405
Fax: 707- 571-1097

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