Thursday, July 30, 2015

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges

 Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges
Black Bread, Butter, Jalapeño, Yuzu, Maldon Salt

I was sitting in the dining room of my virtual restaurant, the Borage & Basil Bistro, reading about Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Santa Barbara Sea Urchin.

“This dish is the perfect example of how uncluttered Jean-Georges’ cuisine is, as well as the volumes he can make his dishes speak. The bright iodine from the uni marries perfectly with the buttered pumpernickel toast. It’s just delicious from both a textural and flavorful standpoint,” said Chef Wylie Dufresne.

Contemplating getting on a plane to NYC to try this utterly sublime dish, it occurred to me how silly it would be to travel across the country from LA – to eat Santa Barbara uni! 

Not only is the uni local, we also have the rare yuzu tree (an important component of this dish) growing in our garden. So that is how Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges ended up as the appetizer on tonight’s dinner menu at the Borage & Basil Bistro, this summer’s virtual restaurant where all the menu items feature fresh snipped herbs, exotic ripe fruits, and edible flowers from our garden.

With its salty, clean ocean scent and hues of gold and deep orange, its sweet, exotic, haunting taste and creamy, buttery texture – the captivating sea urchin roe makes for an elegant appetizer, indeed.

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges Recipe

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Beef Filet, Horseradish-Olive Tapenade, Cannellini Beans, Spinach, Arugula Flowers

Filet Mignon, Horseradish-Olive Tapenade
Cannellini Beans, Wilted Spinach & Arugula, Arugula Flowers

Welcome back to the Borage & Basil Bistro, this summer’s virtual restaurant where all the menu items feature fresh snipped herbs, exotic ripe fruits, and/or edible flowers from our garden.

Tonight’s dinner special is inspired by Chef Nancy Silverton, adapted from a recipe she shares in A Twist of The Wrist, a terrific book of quick flavorful meals. It’s a version of a meat lover’s entree that had been popular for years at Campanile – a truly seminal restaurant – one that influenced the LA dining scene with its farmers market-driven fare spanning over two decades…

The beauty of this dish is that it marries the flavors in one pan – our filet mignon is seared – then the beans are heated in the beef juices, greens added at the end to wilt. Silverton’s suggestion of jarred black olive tapenade paired perfectly with the filet, but here at Borage & Basil, we swirl in some prepared horseradish, which gives the dish an extra kick. Our arugula is flowering, so to finish the plate, the attractive tasty arugula blossoms are scattered about. Arugula flowers taste much like the leaves, but with a delicate crepe paper-like texture.

casual bouquet of roses, fennel flowers, yarrow, and Mexican heather

Borage & Basil’s centerpieces come from the garden as well. Tonight the tables are adorned with a casual bouquet of roses, fennel flowers, yarrow, and Mexican heather.

Beef Filet, Horseradish-Olive Tapenade Recipe

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Watermelon Salad - Pomegranate Syrup, Feta, Cucumber, Red Onion, Borage, Cayenne, Olive Oil, Sprouted Watermelon Seeds, Basil

A Unique Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Brick, Pomegranate Syrup, Feta, Cucumber
Borage, Basil, Red Onion, Cayenne, Olive Oil, Sprouted Watermelon Seeds

Borage and Basil Centerpiece

 Welcome to My

BORAGE & BASIL
Bistro

The Borage & Basil Bistro is a bright sunny spot, a virtual place to enjoy summer’s bounty on a pretty plate. A relaxing place to sip a nice cool, crisp and melon-y Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh picked herbs and edible flowers dominate the menu.

Today’s salad special takes the ubiquitous combination of watermelon and feta and adds our eponymous borage & basil. Like bright stars falling from the summer sky…with it’s electric blue color and a faintly sweet flavor with hints of cucumber, borage makes the presentation pop! Pomegranate syrup adds sweet and tangy notes, while sprouted watermelon seeds add interest – they’re high in protein, with a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. It’s a visually striking salad, light yet satisfying. And it just screams summer!

Watermelon Salad - Pomegranate Syrup, Feta, Cucumber, Red Onion, Borage, Cayenne, Olive Oil, Sprouted Watermelon Seeds, Basil

Unique Watermelon Salad Recipe

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fresh, Fabulous, and Frugal - Carrot Top Pesto!

Carrot Top Pesto

Remember when the checker at the supermarket would ask if you would like her to remove the tops from your carrots? With one swift twist, those unruly tops were separated from the orange roots, and unceremoniously placed in the trash can at her feet.

What took us so long to realize that the tops have taste, and nutrition? And value. The feathery green tops of carrots taste a bit like parsley laced with carrot flavor. They make an excellent pesto, can be sautéed in a blend with other greens, or chopped and used as part of an herb garnish.

Fresh, Fabulous, and Frugal - Carrot Top Pesto!

I recently returned from a spectacular trip to Alaska where I had the absolute pleasure of getting to know Chef Brenda. She is an artist in the galley – a master of multiple cuisines. Her dishes are fresh and creative, and synergistic – she has ability to put together magical meals where the food is enhanced by the mood and the environment, and vice versa. She can fillet a whole king salmon as expertly as she bakes mouth-watering pastries and stunning cakes.

Chef Brenda

One night on our trip, Brenda paired a slow-roasted brisket with a delightful side dish of roasted carrots with a carrot top pesto. I recreated her recipe at home, it is my pleasure to share it here… 

Chef Brenda’s Carrot Top Pesto Recipe

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7 comments • Filed in: Meatless

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini

Sublime Franco-Korean Elderflower Soju Martini

St-Germain Liqueur is created in the artisanal French manner from freshly hand-picked elderflower blossoms. Its sublime taste hints at pear, peach and grapefruit, yet none of them exactly. It is a flavor as seductive as it is elusive.

Soju is a Korean alcoholic beverage distilled from rice that has slightly floral and barely sweet flavors. Pleasantly light with a round mouth-feel and an alcoholic content of 20% (about half as much as vodka), it is usually enjoyed neat, sipped from a shot glass.

Angostura Bitters, a product of Trinidad, is an aromatic preparation of botanically infused alcohol. Just a couple dashes of its distinctive herbal spice flavor enhances the other components by adding another layer of complexity.

To create an Absolutely Bewitching Martini, pair soju with elderflower liqueur and angostura bitters, and enjoy a fusion cocktail that is delicate, captivatingly complex, and impossibly irresistible.

Elderflower Soju Martini Recipe 

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8 comments • Filed in: Entertaining