Holiday Entertaining: Oysters and Caviar

Holiday Entertaining: Oysters with Caviar

Holiday Entertaining
Oysters and Caviar

For the holiday season we’re serving a most thrilling luxury, the world’s most sublime delicacy – the roe of a mature sturgeon!

It’s a connoisseur’s dream – a fresh shucked oyster topped with crème fraîche and a generous dollop of royal ossetra caviar.

Elegant jewel-like eggs with that fabulous, famous burst of the sea sit atop a crisp, firm-textured bivalve with a sweet aftertaste that sparkles with salinity. Crème fraîche adds a nuanced enhancement to the roe with its creamy tang. Pulling out all the stops, this opulence-in-a-shell is paired with Champagne to complement the caviar’s briny zest.

Exquisitely rich, gloriously complex, utterly delectable. Happy Holidays, my friends!

Holiday Entertaining: Oysters with Caviar

Oysters and Caviar

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Got Frozen Salmon? Make This.

Smoky Salmon Stew with Tomato, Potato, and Fennel

Smoky Salmon Stew with Tomato, Potato, and Fennel

We live in Southern California, where we can walk to the docks and pick up local fresh fish arriving by the hour. Our markets are full of fresh fish that is flown in daily from around the world. So, why buy frozen fish?

  1. Convenience of having protein in the freezer, on hand, ready to thaw.
  2. Value where frozen is typically 20 to 25% less per pound than fresh.
  3. Availability when fresh fish is not in season, frozen is always there.
  4. Taste and texture are not sacrificed, especially in a recipe like this stew.

The frozen farm-raised Atlantic salmon comes from Whole Foods Market where they source from responsibly managed fish farms that aim to help maintain sustainable seafood supplies. Their salmon are raised in carefully monitored, low-density pens and tanks without antibiotics, pesticides or added growth hormones.

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart Living. For a cold weather meal, I loved the idea of a smoky fish stew and added another layer of smoky heat with Korean chili threads (shilgochu). They are finely-sliced dried chilis that are reddish brown in color with smoky red pepper and fruity flavors, and a medium degree of heat. Along with fennel fronds, the chili threads add a savory embellishment to the final presentation.

Smoky Salmon Stew Recipe

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It’s Back – The Stuffing Everyone Loves!

The Stuffing Everyone Loves Recipe

The Stuffing Everyone Loves!

It’s been 5 years since I’ve shared The Stuffing Everyone Loves recipe. So for 2016, it’s back!

What makes this recipe different from the familiar mushroom sage dressing served on dinner tables all over the country at this time of year? Not much, and that is the beauty of it. It’s just like you remember, only better. And everyone loves it.

Rustic ciabatta, with its porous, chewy texture is the perfect bread for this stuffing. A homemade rich-flavored giblet stock, eliminates the need to cook the stuffing inside the turkey, while retaining that classic turkey flavor.

A 50-50 ratio of vegetables (mushroom, celery, onion, and leek) to the volume of ciabatta creates a balanced, not overly bready-y dish. Cooking the stuffing in a shallow baking dish allows for the desirable contrast of buttery toasty bread atop a moist stuffing beneath. Plenty of butter, Italian parsley and butter-fried sage bring the classic flavors of the season.

And with no “surprise” ingredients (oysters, nuts, fruit, chestnuts) it simply appeals to everyone…and exceeds expectations.

The Stuffing Everyone Loves Recipe

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Baran’s 2239 ~ Rainbow Carrots with Hazelnut Truffle Aillade, Carrot Caramel, Hollandaise

Baran's 2239 ~ Rainbow Carrots with Hazelnut Truffle Aillade, Carrot Caramel, Hollandaise

Baran’s 2239 Baby Rainbow Carrots
Hazelnut Truffle Aillade, Carrot Caramel,
Browned Butter Hollandaise

Leave it to Chef Tyler Gugliotta of Baran’s 2239 to take the humble carrot and turn it into a root vegetable fantasyland. Visually stunning, the colorful carrot-garden-in-a-bowl has three wildly distinctive sauces: a heady hazelnut truffle aillade, a sweet and earthy carrot caramel, and the rich silky hollandaise made with nutty browned butter.

Baran’s 2239 is arguably the hottest restaurant in the South Bay. The culinary collaboration by owners and brothers, Jonathan and Jason Baran and their friend Chef Tyler Gugliotta, opened earlier this year in Hermosa Beach, California.

“Fantastic pedigree in the kitchen.” -Los Angeles Magazine

“Progressive. Delicious. Unexpected.” -LA WEEKLY

“Best New South Bay Restaurant” -LA WEEKLY

“Atmosphere is casual, food is not.” -Los Angeles Times

#4 restaurant for “Best Overall” restaurants in Los Angeles -OpenTable

Jon Baran and I have been colleagues for several years and enjoy discussing recipes and esoteric ingredients…and it turns out that Tyler’s dad, Chef Greg Gugliotta and I worked together decades ago at Chez Melange. Small. World.

It has been my honor and pleasure to shoot Tyler’s food. His dishes are inspired, innovative, refreshingly original. Baran’s 2239 super-seasonal menu is fun and adventurous, this carrot dish is a perfect example. I loved this dish and asked if he would share…

Thank you for this wonderfully imaginative recipe, Chef!

Chef Tyler Gugliotta
Chef Tyler Gugliotta
Baby Rainbow Carrot Recipe
By Chef Tyler Gugliotta

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Striped Bass Ceviche, Passion Fruit, Persimmon

Striped Bass Ceviche with Passion Fruit

~Striped Bass Ceviche~
Passion Fruit, Persimmon, Lime
Red Onion, Chile, Cilantro, Radish Sprouts

H Mart’s seafood department is exceptional. I couldn’t pass up the beautiful striped bass sashimi and if I had more time, I would have waited for the yellowfin tuna that was about to be filleted.

Their produce department is fabulous too, showcasing the best of California fields plus esoteric fruits and vegetables found only in Asian markets. Not sure how the fuyu persimmons would be used, but several ended up in my basket just the same.

Inspiration for this vibrant ceviche comes from both my garden and my new favorite Korean supermarket. In the yard is a tree full of Persian limes while wrinkled passion fruits harvested days earlier are sitting on the counter.

The super-fresh striped bass will become ceviche, with a quick 10 minute lime marinade to preserve its pristine qualities. Paired with sweet-tart passion fruit and honeyed persimmon…a refreshing, clean, snappy recipe takes shape…

Filleting Yellowfin Tuna at H Mart
Filleting Yellowfin Tuna at H Mart
Striped Bass Ceviche, Passion Fruit, Persimmon Recipe

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage, Balsamic Syrup

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage, Balsamic Syrup

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Italian Sausage, Balsamic Syrup

Last Thanksgiving’s Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Shards was such a hit, I’m going to add meat to the veggie dish again this year. Bacon and Brussels sprouts are a classic pairing, but for an unexpected twist, I’ll be serving the little brassicas with Italian sausage seasoned with fennel. Fennel seeds add interesting anise notes that complement and add complexity to the roasted sprouts.

A balsamic vinegar reduction will add sweet notes and enough acid to balance the rich sausage. A sprinkling of parsley will bring bright, fresh qualities. I’m confident that this side dish will be equally, if not more popular, than the bacon version. As a bonus, ease of preparation and a short ingredient list make this one a winner for the busy holiday cook (me).

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Italian Sausage Recipe

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Roadkill Spaghetti

Roadkill Spaghetti - Sweet Salty Angry Chicken Wings, Carrot Bones, Spicy Arrabiata Sauce

Roadkill Spaghetti
Sweet Salty Angry Chicken Wings and Carrot Bones
Spicy Arrabiata Sauce

Why, oh why did the chickens cross the road on that DARK HALLOWEEN NIGHT? This MACABRE scene is the third and last in a series of three original FRIGHTFULLY fun and flavorful BLACK bean spaghetti recipes developed for my friends at Explore Cuisine.

The BLOODY MUTILATED MESS of DEAD chickens, BLACK bean spaghetti, and white carrot BONES in a spicy arrabiata sauce is actually DEVILISHLY DELICIOUS while simultaneously HORRIFIC to behold.

GRISLY ROADKILL Spaghetti will SHOCK your friends and family with its sweet, salty, spicy flavors and GRUESOME presentation.

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Spaghetti AFRAID-O with White Carrot Phalanges

Spaghetti AFRAID-O with White Carrot Phalanges

Spaghetti AFRAID-O with White Carrot Phalanges

Are you wondering what to serve for dinner on HALLOWEEN night? Something delicious and nutritious to counter-balance all that candy? SCARE your family with Spaghetti AFRAID-O!

It is a downright DISTURBING dish where alfredo and marinara sauces depict DEATH or at the very least, some SEVERE INJURY as FINGER BONES are MANGLED among BLACK bean spaghetti.

The idea for this dish came to me in a NIGHTMARE, it is the second in a series of three original FRIGHTFULLY fun and flavorful BLACK bean spaghetti recipes developed for my friends at Explore Cuisine.

The challenge was to create three HORRIFYING recipes. They needed to be GORY yes, but also DEVILISHLY delicious. This one is organic, meatless, gluten-free, and lower-carb too.

Spaghetti AFRAID-O with White Carrot Phalanges

Spaghetti AFRAID-O Recipe

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Deviled Eyes Buried in Garlicky Black Bean Spaghetti Spoons

Deviled Eyes Nestled in Garlicky Black Bean Spaghetti Spoons

Deviled Eyes Buried in Garlicky Black Bean Spaghetti Spoons

Happy Halloween! DEVILED Eyes BURIED in Garlicky Black Bean Spaghetti Spoons are the first in a series of three original FRIGHTFULLY fun and flavorful BLACK bean spaghetti recipes developed for my friends at Explore Cuisine.

The challenge was to create three UNNERVING recipes with a GHOULISH bent. They needed to be CREEPY yes, but also DEVILISHLY delicious with a unique presentation – the first ones to DISAPPEAR from the halloween buffet.

To keep the VAMPIRES at bay, dish #1 is quite garlicky. BLACK spaghetti is tossed with olive oil, GARLIC, fresh herbs, red chile flakes and crumbled egg yolk, while EERIE eyeballs are flavored with GARLIC mayonnaise. BLOODSUCKERS BEWARE!

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Korean Chili con Carne with Red Beans and Kimchi

Korean Chili con Carne with Red Beans and Kimchi

Korean Chili Con Carne
Red Beans, Kimchi, Shishito Peppers
Sesame Garlic Yogurt, Yellow Picked Radish, Scallion

How’s your Korean food vocabulary? Gochujang, gochugaru, kkwarigochu, pat, kimchi, danmuji, pachae, chamgireum and bokkeun-kkae are some of the ingredients that transform a traditional chili con carne into this super-flavorful Korean Chili with a unique topping.

Gochujang and gochugaru are sold in varying degrees of spiciness. For this recipe, I use medium-hot heat level as shown on the packaging. Gochujang is a Korean red chili paste with sweet heat and a fermented umami richness. It has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried Korean red peppers. Gochugaru, also made from sun-dried red peppers, is a coarse-ground chili powder. Together, they give this chili its distinctive Korean spiciness. Kkwarigochu (shishito) are thin-walled mild peppers with a fresh green vegetal flavor and just a whisper of heat. But beware, every once in a while, there’s a hot one in the bunch! Kkwarigochu stand in for green bell pepper used in standard recipes.

Korean Chili con Carne with Red Beans and Kimchi

The usual Western chili toppings of onion, cheese, and sour cream are replaced with a Korean flair. Pachae (curled green scallion) stands in for the diced white onion. Yellow cheddar is replaced by danmuji, a yellow pickled radish that is sweet, sour and crispy. Thick tangy yogurt gets a punch from garlic and rich toasty notes from sesame oil. Finally bokkeun-kkae (toasted sesame seeds) add visual appeal, nutty notes, they are a common Korean garnish.

Korean Chili con Carne with Red Beans and Kimchi Recipe
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