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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Judging the Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest


I recently had the honor of judging the Third Annual Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest . Six finalists were chosen to prepare their dishes for myself and four fellow food savvy judges including Liam Mayclem from CBS 5’s Eye on the Bay ; Lynne Char Bennett, food writer and test kitchen director, San Francisco Chronicle; Ken Frank, chef and owner of Napa’s La Toque restaurant ; Carolyn Jung, author of the Food Gal blog ). Our assignment was to make decisions based on taste, use of fresh, local ingredients, appearance and appeal, simplicity, and ease of making, and originality.

Liam Mayclem and myself in front of The Culinary Institute of America after judging the Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest





In the end, it was Merry Graham of Newhall, CA who won with her Lemon Hoisin Glazed chicken on Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Sesame Rice. Mary’s recipe beat out nearly 1,200 West Coast recipes to win the $10,000 grand prize and a one-year supply of Foster Farms fresh chicken. Her recipe featured

Merry Graham was the winner of the Foster Farms Fresh Chicken Cooking Contest, and received $10,000 and a year’s supply of Foster Farms chicken

locally grown ingredients including lemons, asparagus and of course, Foster Farms fresh chicken.

“This recipe started out as something my family loved and I kept working on it until I felt it best represented the flavor and integrity of the fresh ingredients,” said Mary.

Mary’s recipe is below if you’d like to make it for your family. Also, stay tuned for more chicken and other poultry reipes. My new book, Culinary Birds, will be out early fall of 2013.


Lemon-Hoisin Glazed Chicken on Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Sesame Rice

Serves 4 – 6

6 Foster Farms chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, cut into 1” chunks
2 ¼ tsp salt, divided
1 tbsp minced ginger root
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
3 tbsp peanut oil, divided
6 green onions, chopped, with whites and greens divided
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice, rinse well and drained
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tbsp honey, divided
1 large lemon or two small, finely grate zest
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, divided
2 tsp black sesame seeds
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2” pieces
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
1/3 cup roasted salted almonds, roughly chopped

Mix chicken, one teaspoon salt, ginger, and half of the garlic. Set aside.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, warm one tablespoon peanut oil. Stir in onion whites, remaining garlic, and jasmine rice. Cook, stirring frequently, for 8 minutes or until beginning to toast. Add broth, half of the lemon juice and one teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15 minutes. Uncover, fluff with fork, stir in dried cherries, sesame oil, and remaining green onions. Set aside.

In large frying pan over medium high heat, warm one tablespoon peanut oil. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, for 6 minutes or until no longer pink on the outside.

In small bowl, stir together vinegar, Hoisin, one tablespoon honey, remaining lemon juice, half of the lemon zest and 1/4-teaspoon red pepper flakes. Add sauce to chicken in pan and continue cooking for 10 additional minutes on medium. Raise heat to high and cook for 2-4 minutes until sauce on chicken is dark and has thickened. Sprinkle chicken with black sesame seeds. Remove pan from heat, set aside and keep warm.

In second large frying pan, warm remaining peanut oil over high heat. Add asparagus, remaining honey, red pepper and remaining salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2-4 minutes, or until asparagus is tender.

To serve, plate rice on serving platter. Top with half of the cilantro, almonds, and roasted asparagus, Top with chicken pieces. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and lemon zest.


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John Ash and fellow chef and friend, Mei Ibach, pose with salmon dishes made at the Windsor Certified Farmer’s Market, August, 2012. Photo courtesy: Rick Tang

I recently demonstrated this recipe at the Farmer’s Market in Windsor, CA, near my home in Sonoma County. We used salmon that was line-caught locally in Bodega Bay. Before you purchase any seafood, I recommend consulting first with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch chart, which can be found online, or you can download a free pocket guide or an app for your phone.

Chef John Ash talks about sustainable seafood at the Windsor Certified Farmer’s Market. Photo courtesy: Rick Tang

This Japanese Style of roasting works equally well on fresh halibut or sea bass. I serve the resulting fish hot or at room temperature, either as the center of the plate or as part of a salad. If you are doing this fish on the barbeque, a technique that I find helpful is to place the fish skin side down on a sheet of heavy aluminum foil and cook it indirectly and covered over a medium heat. The foil prevents the fish from sticking or burning (because of the sugar in the marinade).

John demonstrating sustainable seafood recipes at the Windsor Certified Farmer’s Market. Photo courtesy: Rick Tang

If you are broiling, do the same thing and be careful not to get the fish too close to the broiler element so that it can cook without burning. I’d allow at least 4 inches between the fish and the heat source. You can serve the salmon as is, or with a noodle salad. I’ve included the recipe if you decide to do the latter. Enjoy!


Japanese Roasted Salmon served over Soba Noodle Salad. Photo courtesy: Rick Tang

Japanese Style Roasted Salmon

Serves 4

4 five ounce fillets of wild salmon with skin on
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sake or dry white wine
1/4 cup mirin
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons chopped green onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
Zest and juice of one small lemon
Soba Noodle Salad (recipe follows)

Season salmon with salt and set aside.

Combine marinade ingredients stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour marinade over fish and marinate refrigerated for 2 – 4 hours. Turn fish occasionally.

To serve: Roast salmon in a preheated 450 degree oven or alternately broil or grill salmon until just done, about 4 – 5 minutes depending on thickness. Be careful not to overcook. Salmon should still be translucent in the center. Serve with Soba Noodle Salad, if desired.
Soba Noodle Salad

Makes 3/4 cup or so

1/4 cup Dashi or defatted chicken stock
2-1/2 tablespoons white (Shiro) Miso
2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce, preferably low sodium
1/3 cup or so canola or other neutral vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chopped sweet pickled ginger

Add the stock, miso, vinegar and sesame oil to a mini processor or blender and with motor running slowly add oil to form a creamy dressing. Add ginger and pulse a couple of times to very finely chop and incorporate. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Pulse in a blender if sauce separates to bring it back together before serving.

4 ounces dried soba noodles
2 cups peeled, seeded cucumbers, sliced on an angle
1 cup green onions, whites and green tops sliced on the bias
1 cup daikon radish or sunflower sprouts, gently packed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Japanese seven-spice powder (Togorashi), to taste (optional)
Bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Separate the noodles and drop them into the boiling water, stirring once or twice. When the water begins to boil, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this procedure twice cooking until the noodles are just tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water until completely cooled, tossing gently to remove surface starch and drain well.

Toss the noodles with the dressing, cucumbers and onions. Top with the sprouts, sesame seeds, and a pinch of seven-spice powder.
Recommended Wines: Soft reds like pinot noir or merlot are nice with this salmon as long as you don’t allow it to become too sweet. A drier style Gewürztraminer or Riesling, especially those from Alsace, are also delicious with this dish.

John Ash (c) 1994
Revised 1/08


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A Special Event to Celebrate Tomato Season

Have you always wanted to have a big-name chef cook you dinner in a gorgeous setting? If so, I have a great opportunity, and you would be helping some great kids at the same time.

This year Kendall Jackson Winery has added a new Friday night event to its 16th Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival. It’s called Chef Tables in the Vineyard and it’s scheduled for the Friday September 14, 2012. It is a benefit for the Cooking with Kids Foundation, and it will be a fun evening with Guy Fieri, Mario Batali, and more than a dozen other Bay Area chefs including yours truly. Each chef is preparing a special menu for the guests at their table made with local ingredients, and served in Kendall Jackson’s Estate Vineyard.

The Heirloom Tomato Festival the next day is always a sell-out event that highlights the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes we grow here in Sonoma County. There are a few tickets left for both events, but they will go fast! Here is one of the dishes I’ll be creating for the Chefs Tables in the Vineyard event. Hope you’ll come and let me make it for you!


Serves 4

Picture by Jihad Hamad

Chickpea puree (recipe follows)
1-1/2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced
Fresh basil oil (recipe follows)
1 pound fresh buffalo mozzarella, drained and sliced
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Toasted blanched almonds
Slivered meaty black olives such as Cerignola
Corn, Daikon or sunflower sprouts

Spoon the chickpea puree onto plates. Lay the tomatoes decoratively on top and drizzle the basil oil attractively around. Lay the mozzarella slices on top of this and sprinkle on a little sea salt and black pepper. Garnish with almonds, olives and sprouts.

Chickpea Puree:
1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until very smooth.

Fresh leafy herb oils (basil, mint, chives, cilantro, parsley, shiso, etc.)
3 cups lightly packed herbs, large stems discarded
2 cups or so cups olive or canola oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Blanch herbs in salted boiling water until they turn a bright green (about 5 seconds). Drain and plunge immediately into ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. This blanching step inactivates the enzymes which causes the herb to turn brown and develop an oxidized flavor.

Squeeze herbs as dry as you can and add to a blender along with enough oil to cover by at least 2 inches. Puree to make a smooth paste. Strain thru a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth or alternately let sit for a few hours and then decant the oil off the solids. Oil should be a very bright green and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper if desired and store covered in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

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