I awoke to another zillion emails, but one really caught my eye. It was for New Year’s Day Cornbread from Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo, a specialty food company known for their glorious Heirloom Beans.
Sando wrote, “This recipe comes from my pal Taylor Boetticher of the Fatted Calf Charcuterie. If you’re in the Bay Area, try making your Black Eyed Peas with their bacon or other pork treats. The recipe is true Texas cornbread and it’s perfect with your pot of good fortune. A huge thanks to Taylor’s mother, Star Boetticher, for sharing the recipe and keeping good conditions alive.”
I headed off to the kitchen to preheat the oven. Baking with available ingredients, it turns out that I had to replace the whole milk with 1% milk, and swapped low fat plain Kefir for buttermilk …hoping it would work. And it did! This Cornbread is perfect even with my substitutions, no need to look for any other cornbread recipe, ever.
The cornbread was served with room-temperature salted butter that was blended with honey…and a pot of coffee. ‘Twas a delightful December breakfast. The custard layer is simply genius. For good fortune, I will make it again on New Year’s Day to be served with Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens (recipe now posted here).
Black Eyed Peas are eaten for luck, Collard Greens are symbolic of dollar bills, and Cornbread is symbolic of gold. And we will add a Glazed Spiral Cut Ham to the menu because pigs have long been a symbol of wealth and gluttony. Sounds delicious and lucky, can’t beat that. Here’s to a Prosperous New Year!
A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated.
We eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate that ancient miracle from the second century BCE and potato pancakes are almost everyone’s favorite symbolic food. This year my latkes have a daring twist. 5779 is the year of the Kimchi Potato Latke!
Adults who adore kimchi’s complex spicy, salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami, fermented flavors will fall hard for this pancake. Kids, unfortunately, not so much…the younger set should probably stick to traditional style potato latkes with that wonderful combination of sweet apples and sour cream, like this one.
The recipe is a marriage between my kimchi jeon (mind-blowing kimchi pancake batter) and my standard recipe for potato latkes. The combination is amazing pancake synergy.
Panko Crusted Pacific Rockfish Tostadas
Corn Tortillas, Avocado, Shredded Cabbage, Chile, Radish
Mexican Onion, Cilantro, Baja White Sauce, Lime
Rockfish are a wonderful clean-tasting fish with a firm texture and nice flakes when cooked. This fish stands up to many methods of cooking, but it is especially great when coated with panko breadcrumbs and sautéed to get that golden brown crispy crust with a steaming hot inside that is mild and flaky and muy delicioso.
Over 70 members of the rockfish family populate the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to Mexico with many species caught right here off the coast of California.
Pacific rockfish are sustainable and affordable at around $10 per pound compared to halibut at over $25 per pound!
French Bistro Trout Amandine with Haricots Verts
Almonds, Dried Currants, Capers, Lemon, Browned Butter, Parsley
The back story for this dish started last summer when I received an email from Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant in Las Vegas regarding their Summer Scratch Off event. I wasn’t particularly interested in the event, but the image of the trout with fresh green beans really caught my eye. It looked so balanced and tasty, I saved it to my computer.
The restaurant describes itself as honoring classic French cuisine, serving traditional French gastronomy in a quaint Parisian bistro, devising fresh takes on classic fare.
On a recent a trip to Vegas, we had to have lunch at our favorite al fresco restaurant. Who can resist sitting outside on The Strip, watching the spectacular choreographed Bellagio water fountains accompanied by Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman singing Con Te Partiro? Not us, not ever. It is a rare visit to Vegas indeed, when we do not have breakfast or lunch at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas. On one trip a while back, I even purchased a set of their plates for my collection.
Is it a drink? Is it a soup? Is it an amuse bouche? Yes. Yes. Yes. Complex in flavor and compact in presentation – these kabocha shooters are excellent for Fall entertaining. Kabocha, a winter squash also known as Japanese pumpkin, has a delectable taste with beautiful flesh the color of turning Autumn leaves.
The soup’s sweet profile includes nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, and brown sugar while the savory side contains caramelized onion, garlic, ginger, and dry sherry. The roasted squash is blended with the various ingredients and a touch of cream. All this flavor is packed into a little shot glass where a rich cultured cream floats atop and a sticky-candied-crunchy pumpkin seed garnish is perched on the side.
Octopus Tacos with Bacon
Tacos de Pulpo con Tocino
Tacos are great. Octopus tacos are amazing. Octopus tacos with bacon are over-the-top!
Braised octopus’ mild flavor is enhanced by bright lime juice and roasted tomato salsa. Its lean, chewy, tender texture is balanced by crispy, salty, smoky bacon. When paired with crunchy purple cabbage, spicy red jalapeño, herbaceous cilantro, and pungent onion all nestled in charred corn tortillas we end up with some extraordinarily tantalizing tacos. Ones that are bursting with a wild range of flavors, colors, and textures.
Seriously, there are so many crazy ways to cook tender octopus… from beating it on a rock to slamming it against the side of your sink (ten times no less) to boiling it with wine corks. Or you can massage the cephalopod vigorously with lots of salt until it froths then plunge him into a copper pot full of boiling water. Or you can roast him in a 200°F oven for five (!) hours…
Or try my simple fool-proof method below, cooking time five (!) minutes.
The cooking method actually depends on the type of product with which you start. Here I begin with one pound of Frozen Cooked Spanish Octopus Tentacles (Pulpo Cocido) which is readily available and easy to prepare. This product can be found in the frozen seafood section of Whole Foods Market. Surprisingly, unlike other seafood, octopus’ texture might even benefit from the freezing process so fresh octopus in not considered to be superior.
The octopus is from the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean, a product of Spain. It has already been cleaned; tentacles have been separated from the head. It was cooked with salt and bay leaves, then frozen. Keep it frozen until the day before use, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Place thawed tentacles in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil then turn down immediately to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the tentacles from the pot and let cool slightly on a platter so they can be sliced.