Thursday, September 24, 2015

Salad Nicoise with Grilled Salmon

It was very hot this past Monday in the Bay Area and many cities had record high temperatures. I enjoyed working on my recipe development at home.

I have a new personal kitchen assistant, Mayra, who has been working with me the last few weeks. She does a good job prepping, cleaning and organizing, and also can do things quite neatly like cleaning and folding napkins and kitchen towels. I love her work and am lucky to have found her.

Plus she is fun to work with. She told me she loves my food and that I am the best chef in America. What a great compliment from such a pretty woman! In return for her, I quickly made Salade Nicoise (yes I am so fast! ...especially with her help). We had a nice meal together in the backyard for our lunch break.

Salade Nicoise is my all-time favorite composed salad. I had leftover grilled salmon filet from the previous dinner, so I added it to the salad along with filet of anchovies (no tuna for this salad), and served it with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing instead of the usual Aioli (Provencal garlic mayonnaise). I used Lucero Organic Farms tomatoes (Early Girl), Heirloom Organics cute potatoes, and super fresh eggs from Cozzolino's... they were only 2 days old. They are excellent  products. I got everything from the Menlo Park farmers market on Sunday. It was very, very beautiful and delicious!

We also had my favorite bread -- Semifreddi’s sourdough seeded baguette. I don't like sourdough bread in general, but this is one exception. It is the most tasty bread available in the San Francisco/ Bay Area. That is just my opinion, but you can believe me. Semifreddi's sourdough baguette is available at Trader Joe’s, Wholefoods Market and other markets.

Salade Niçoise
(Serves 4)


For the balsamic vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
1 can of good tuna, like solid albacore 
16 anchovy filets
½ pound of green beans, cooked
1 pound of small Yukon or Dutch potatoes, boiled to tender and cut in quarters
1 each small red and orange bell pepper, cut in strips (optional)
1 small red or white onion, finely sliced (optional)
1 pound of small ripe tomatoes, cut in quarters
4 fresh farm eggs, semi-hard boiled, cooled then peeled and quartered
1/2 cup Nicoise olives or kalamata olives
1 lemon cut in quarters

To make the vinaigrette:
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, salt and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the oil in a thin stream to emulsify the mixture.  Season to taste with salt (if necessary) and freshly ground black pepper.

Assembling the salad:
In a large serving bowl or 4 individual bowls or plates, arrange all your salad ingredients the way you like. Serve with balsamic vinaigrette.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Sangria with Red Summer Fruits

I made this for a Labor Day barbeque party in my back yard. Everyone loved it. Typical Sangria recipes call for red wine and some brandy, but I used rosé wine and some white rum. The result is light and refreshing. I used Charles Shaw’s popular White Zinfandel “genuine California wine”.  It is a fairly sweet wine, but works perfectly for this Sangria. 

The weather is still quite hot here in California, and a lot of summer fruits continue to be available. So before summer slips away, try making this Sangria. I guarantee you will love it!

Sangria with Red Summer Fruits--Sangria à la Pastèque et aux fruits rouges

Makes about 12 servings

1/2 small watermelon
1 basket (½ pint) raspberries
1 basket (½ pint) red currents
½ basket (¼ pint) blueberries
½ basket (½ pint) strawberries
1 juice of orange
2 ounces (50g) powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 bottle (750ml) of rosé wine or white zinfandel
¼ cup white rum (optional)
1 bottle (750ml) sparkling water or apple cider, chilled
Few sprigs of mint as garnish

1. Rinse all the fruit. Cut the watermelon into one-inch cubes; cut strawberries in half or quarters depending on size.
2. Place all prepped fruit in a large mixing bowl.
3. In another bowl, mix well the orange juice, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, rosé wine or white zinfandel, and white rum if you are using.
4. Pour the wine mixture into the fruit bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1-2 hours.
5. When ready to serve add the sparkling water or apple cider.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Late Summer Wines -- Perfect for Labor Day Weekend!

Summer is not over yet in California. In fact, it's just beginning for those on the coast, where fog reigns for most of the summer. Are you ready for Labor Day weekend? These wines are my recommendations to enjoy for the rest of summer. Every one of them is very good and available at Trader Joe's for under $10, with most of them in the $5-6 range. I love TJ's!

I am not going to babble on in wine snob lingo about the characteristics of these wines. You just need to go to TJ's and pick them up to get ready for Labor Day weekend and enjoy.

Delicious affordable white, rosé and sparkling wines from California and France.

The above two wines are great with appetizers and seafood. You also can make a great summer Sangria (add watermelon and fresh berries) with the Charles Shaw White Zinfandel. It's only $2.49.

Many of my women friends enjoy these sparklings from France for summer.

This has been my everyday aperitif all summer. I enjoy this rosé very much.

From the south of France, Portugal and Spain, here are some reds that are great for BBQ... and all are under $6:

Encuentro is an organic wine from Valencia, Spain. It has a very mild and unique flavor and taste that I have never experienced before... very soft and feminine. It is a fine wine worth trying... but of course trying new wine is always recommended! 

This Tuella is from the Douro region of Portugal, very delicious and only $6. The Sainte-Croix is a robust Syrah-Merlot blend from the south of France. Both of these wines are good with grilled foods, from burgers to chicken breast to flank steak.

Have a great weekend!