White Asparagus, Shaved Avocado, Tarragon Mayonnaise

Peruvian White Asparagus
Shaved Californian Avocado
Tarragon Mayonnaise
I was shopping at Whole Foods Market today for meat to make a very Autumn-Style dish for a big party this weekend: Stout Braised Short Ribs, a two-day process which we will be starting tomorrow morning.
Walking into the produce section, I noticed this big display of asparagus, the quintessential Spring vegetable, right? Turns out this asparagus was from Peru. Where Spring has sprung! In solidarity with my Southern Hemisphere Cooking Compadres, I picked up some asparagus to serve along side a Whole Foods pre-cooked smoked chicken tonight. Their smoked chicken is really good.
White Asparagus

Trim off the end of the asparagus, then shave the entire stalk with a vegetable peeler.

Place shaved asparagus stalks in salted simmering water with a bay leaf. Cook until tender, taste for doneness. This was about 8 minutes. When tender, place asparagus in an ice bath to stop the cooking, then dry on paper towels.

Mix mayonnaise with finely chopped fresh tarragon, salt and pepper, and a splash of tarragon vinegar. Tonight’s dinner had to be effortless, considering the upcoming party and all the cooking involved. But…
Mayonnaise aficionados might appreciate an “almost effortless” homemade version, compliments of Julia Child, that I paired with fresh swordfish here.

“Mayonnaise is one of the finest and most important sauces in classic cuisine. The shame is that few of us ever taste the kind of fresh handmade mayonnaise that deserves such culinary status – and even dedicated home cooks don’t realize that making their own is a simple process that takes only minutes and, if you use a food processor, almost no effort at all.” Julia Child

Shave a slightly under-ripe avocado into strips with the vegetable peeler. Season asparagus with salt and pepper, ladle tarragon mayonnaise over the center, top with shaved avocado ribbons. Add a tarragon sprig for garnish. This side dish was really simple and quite lovely.
Happy Spring to My Blogger Friends in the Southern Hemisphere!


For more information on Peruvian White Asparagus, please visit Gourmet Trading Company here.

Pistachio Crusted Opah, Pomegranate Nectarine Reduction

Pistachio Crusted Fresh Opah from Fijian Waters
Pomegranate Nectarine Reduction

Opah, also called moonfish, weighing up to 200 lbs., is harvested incidentally by long-line boats fishing for tuna and billfish in the Pacific. This fish does not swim in schools, so it is caught by accident. Historically, catching an opah was regarded as good luck and was given away rather than sold. The fishmonger at Bristol Farms poetically told me that the skin of a moonfish resembles moonlight dancing on the ocean. (photo from hawaii-seafood.org)
Opah has a rich, creamy flavor and firm, fatty texture, resulting from a diet of mostly squid. To make this dish: Combine pistachio nutmeat and panko breadcrumbs with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in a food processor. Dust the filet with flour, lightly coat with mayonnaise, then crust the filet with the pistachio mixture. Sauté in olive oil in a non-stick ovenproof pan until both sides are browned. Finish cooking the fish for just a few minutes in a 400° oven.
The folks at POM Wonderful sent me a few samples of their pomegranate products, one of which is this awesome POM Nectarine juice. 100% juice. I simply poured it into a pan and reduced it over medium-high heat to a syrup consistency. It needed nothing else, and paired beautifully with the fish! I am looking forward to trying this juice reduction with other dishes. And thank you POM Wonderful.

One of my favorite parts of hosting a dinner party is setting the table in the morning. Sometimes our dinner parties have themes, as in the Jackie Kennedy Dinner, or the Gourmet Retro Dinner Party, the Wolfgang Puck Austrian Dinner, or the All-Salmon Dinner Party. But this night was just about some good food and good friends. The inspiration for the table setting came from my garden, I just picked what was blooming!

A jaunty table setting with colors of the roses: red, purple, and white.

Etorki – Cheese of the Month

shaved etorki cheese
grilled sunburst and pattypan squash
wild baby arugula
toasted tamari almonds
 roasted almond oil & late harvest riesling vinaigrette
First brush sunburst and pattypan squash with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper then grill.

Cline Cellars Late Harvest Riesling Vinegar

La Tourangelle Roasted Almond Oil
Vinaigrette: Steep minced shallot in late harvest riesling vinegar, then season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and whisk in La Tourangelle roasted almond oil in a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. The riesling vinegar and this almond oil are a match made in heaven; delightfully sweet, bright, nutty, toasty. Very elegant.


Plate wild baby arugula with warm grilled squash and toasted tamari almonds. Then spoon vinaigrette over. Top with shaved Etorki cheese.

Etorki is a sheep’s milk cheese produced in the French Basque Country. Etorki has a smooth, velvety texture and rich, hazelnut (almost burnt caramel-like) flavor. Its aroma is sweet and buttery, and the cheese is voluptuous on the tongue. Because of its supple texture, you can bend it a bit without breaking so it is great for shaving with a vegetable peeler.

Etorki, which means “origin” in Basque, is a pasteurized sheep’s milk cheese that has been produced in the heart of the Basque region of southwestern France for over 4000 years. 
The cheese is made from local sheep’s milk in Mauléon, in the Atlantic Pyrenees. More specifically, Etorki is made from the milk of black- or red-faced Manech ewes. The ewes’ milk is exceptional, but there is only a scant supply; it takes 22 ewes to provide the same amount of milk obtained by the milking of a single cow. 
The scarcity of ewes’ milk and the limited milking season – December to July – offer a partial explanation for the higher price of cheese made from sheep’s milk in comparison to that made from cow’s milk. And Etorki is composed of over 98% ewes’ milk. For more on delicious Etorki, please visit the Ile de France website here.
My Cousin Vicki’s Wedding 
October 2008

What does Vicki & Jonah’s Wine Country Wedding at Cline Cellars in Sonoma, California last year have to do with the Cheese of the Month post?

Wedding Favors!

They chose to give an assortment of hand-crafted oils and vinegars as gifts. Great idea! Mine was the Late Harvest Riesling Vinegar. There was also Blood Orange Vinegar, Pomegranate Vinegar, and White Truffle Oil among others. Perfect wedding favors for foodies like us! Thanks V & J!

Dear Vicki & Jonah:
 Congratulations and blessings on your first anniversary!
Best wishes for many many more happy years together.
Love, Cousin Lori Lynn

Salmon & Salmon Skin Spinach Salad, Miso Chile Lime Dressing

Wild King Salmon Filet & Crispy Salmon Skin
Baby Spinach
Black & White Sesame Seeds
Bonito Flakes
Kizami Nori
Miso Chile Lime Dressing

My Citrus Salad Tree was planted a year ago. The first fruit to ripen is the Bearss Lime Tahiti Seedless, also known as a Persian Lime. This is a citrus tree that has 5 varieties of fruit grafted onto one trunk. In addition to the Persian Limes, there are Valencia Orange, Honey Mandarin, Late Lane Navel, and Minneola Tangelo (a cross between grapefruit and tangerine).

Each arm is tagged.
I’m using the Persian Lime in this dressing.
Cannot wait for the rest of the fruits to ripen!

Miso Chile Lime Dressing:

  • 2 t. Miso (shiromiso, white soybean paste)
  • 1/2 c. Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 2 T. Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 t. Soy Sauce (low-sodium)
  • 2 T. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 t. Red Chile Pepper Flakes
Whisk all ingredients together. Miso dressing is one of my favorites, I like to make different versions for different salads. In this version I substituted white miso for red, lime juice for lemon, and red chile flakes for ginger. My original recipe here.

Buy Fresh Wild King Salmon filet with skin on. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Slice off the skin leaving about a half inch of meat attached. Toss with salt and pepper.

Separate the dressing; one part for salad,  one part for marinade. Marinate the filet.

Place salmon skin slices (skin side up) and filet on a broiler pan. Broil under high heat for about 8 minutes until the skin is crispy and the filet is just cooked.

Toss the warm crispy salmon skin slices with baby spinach and miso chile lime dressing.

Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds, bonito flakes (shavings from dried smoked bonito, a type of tuna) and kizami nori (roasted shredded seaweed). Top with salmon filet.

The spinach wilts slightly amidst the crispy skin and warm filet. Really enjoyed the different textures and bright flavors here. I’m looking forward to creating more citrus-based dressings as the fruits on my Citrus Salad Tree ripen! Please let me know if you have an interesting recipe using any of the fruits mentioned above.

Osso Buco, Saffron Risotto, Peas & Snow Pea Shoots

Veal Osso Buco
Saffron Risotto
Peas & Snow Pea Shoots

When my dear friend of many years, Father Adam, comes to town we like to cook! Nothing we make ever takes less than three hours. It’s always an adventure. Last time we made Mario Batali’s Osso Buco with Toasted Pine Nut Gremolata. I had purchased several fresh veal shanks then, and put the extras in the freezer. It was time to defrost them and give Suzanne Goin’s recipe a try!
Osso Buco

Veal shanks were rubbed with garlic, lemon zest, thyme and rosemary then refrigerated over night. The next day they were brought to room temperature, seasoned and browned on all sides in olive oil.
The browned shanks are removed from the pan. Diced onion, carrot, celery, sage and garlic are added to the same pan, and cooked over medium heat until just starting to caramelize. Add 1/2 c. chopped canned tomatoes then 1 c. dry vermouth. Raise the heat and reduce by half.

Add shanks back to the pan with enough hot veal stock to almost cover the meat. Add parsley sprigs, cover, braise at 325° for about 3 hours.

Father Adam and I put the Le Creuset into the oven and went for a walk at Royal Palms State Beach.

Three hours later!
The meat was removed to a baking sheet. The sauce was strained, then we used a gravy separator to remove the fat. We reheated the sauce in a clean saucepan and adjusted the seasoning. It was so flavorful!
Saffron Risotto

Saffron threads were toasted in a small pan, then ground in a mortar. We mixed the saffron with olive oil and added diced white onion, thyme, crushed chile de arbol, salt and pepper. Cooked until the onion was soft.

Add arborio rice and stir to coat the grains.

Add 1/4 c. dry white wine, then when that has evaporated, add hot chicken stock gradually while stirring until the rice has absorbed the stock. When the rice is al dente, season with salt and pepper.

The shanks were removed to a baking sheet and broiled for a few minutes to get a nice brown crust.


Peas & Snow Pea Shoots

Frozen peas were defrosted and cooked in olive oil with minced shallot, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the pea shoots and heat until the leaves are softened and tender.
Beautiful Colors!

Dau Miu (snow pea shoots) are young pea shoots that are delicate and crispy with a flavor that’s a cross between peas and spinach with a hint of watercress.

Falling Off the Bone!

This terrific recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin. You can find Chef Goin’s exact recipe here.
And be sure to check out Father Adam’s unique blog, Monastery Daily Photo: Views From and Within A Roman Catholic Monastery in Northern California.