- Time Travel Chicken (1/4/2016)
A brush of snow on the ground, heater running full blast, sweaters, slippers, a hot beverage… Yes, Winter has arrived and it’s time to get on that ‘Culinary Bus’ and head to the kitchen to create something that zings with flavors of warmer places and seasons!
Porcini Mushrooms speak of Spring and hope for warmth! Chefs and Foodies quiver with delight as these morsels hit the market every year. So, being January, I delved into my stash of dried Porcini to create this dish!
How to season this particular bird… A rub of ground Porcini will give it a rich earthy aroma and hints of the reawakening forest floor, but more is needed to convince my palate that, indeed, it will be Spring again! Taking my nose through the spice jars led to Sri Lankan Curry!This beautiful blend of Indian Coriander Seed, Cumin Seed, Cinnamon, Fennel Seed, Fenugreek Seed, Cardamom Seed, Japones, Black and Tellicherry Peppercorn, and Cloves from Seattle’s World Spice Market added exactly the right amount of Zing, Pow, Bam needed to make this a highly memorable dish!
After roasting the bird, use the drippings and a few more chopped porcini to make a risotto. Enjoy!! Chef Celinda
- Mi Masa Su Masa (4/20/2015)
So many gluten free flour blends are heavy with rice flour. These tend to magnify my waistline… A perusal of my pantry turned up a lovely bag of masa harina; corn that has been soaked in lime, then ground into a flour. This made a spectacular light coating for the long-line rockfish I picked up at Town & Country’s Central Market in Shoreline today.
Cut your fish into serving size pieces, salt each side and dust lightly with the masa. Brown on each side in hot olive oil. Top with a mixture of fresh mango and minced jalapeno. Pop into a preheated 400 degree oven. You want to cook rockfish fully. It will be flaky, white throughout and no longer opaque.
To complete my theme I served the delicate fish with Abenaki’s Corn Polenta. I picked up this beautiful multi-hued polenta from the people that grow the corn, grind it with utmost care and then sell it at the Eugene, Oregon farmer’s market a few weeks ago. This is some of the best polenta I have encountered, to date. I cooked it with fresh stock and a squeeze of lime to bring out the lovely corn flavor. Check out their website www.lonesomewhistlefarm.com
For some fun texture I made my own version of tostones; double fried green plantain. Simply score the plantain down each side, snip the ends and pop into the microwave until soft and the skin is dark brown/black. One large plantain took about three and a half minutes in my microwave. Once the fruit is soft, let it cool just enough to handle and remove the skin. Cut into 12-14 rounds. The recipes I’ve seen call for all manner of methods to ‘smash’ the rounds, but being a chef with ‘cast-iron’ hands (who needs fingerprints, anyway!) I placed them between two pieces of wax paper and smooshed them fairly flat with the heel of my hand. You could use a glass, a plate, a pan, whatever is handy. Now fry them on one side in olive oil in a cast iron pan. Turn them over in the oil and place the pan into your 400 degree oven with the fish, until they are done. I made mine fairly crisp, but do them how ever you prefer. They can even be cooked extra crisp and served with a dip for a fun appetizer.
Some zucchini sauteed with World Spice’s Caribbean Curry and a bit of fresh minced cilantro to finish! It was VERY quiet around the dinner table at my house!
Enjoy!! Chef Celinda
- Silver for the King (2/22/2015)
Pretty, wild Silver, also known as Coho, Alaskan salmon is incredible when prepared with dense, flavorful King Oyster mushrooms.
This variety of mushroom combines the flavor, we love, of the oyster mushroom, with a dense meatiness that adds incredible texture to your dish. You will find them to willlingly avail themselves of the flavors you introduce in the pan. Tonight, I chose to saute them in butter with shallot and cardamom. When they were sufficiently softened, I deglazed with Oloroso sherry, then a touch of maple syrup, the sweetness balanced by Jerez sherry vinegar.
Coco, or Silver salmon are frequently found at a much better price in your fish market. Being a smaller fish, you need to handle them pretty gently, when cooking. They can dry out in a heartbeat! Keep a close eye on them as you pan roast, poach or oven roast this wonderful fish.
For those of you seeking to keep your diet free of allergens, fresh wild salmon is an excellent choice. Firm fish, like salmon, do not need a coating, as do more delicate fish, like sole. This means, you can usually count on it as a Gluten Free option on restaurant menus. Do carefully read the menu description, though. Ask you server, to be sure it is safe. At home, Salmon is wonderful with so many flavors, sauces, cooking styles and accompaniments. Be creative! Enjoy! Chef Celinda
- Love and Lies (2/2/2015)
Is it a bad thing to fool your special someone by feeding them things that are good for them without their knowledge?? You know how they love spectacular desserts and just should NOT be eating Gluten, but…
You have probably looked at the gluten free treats at the grocery store. You ponder, wondering if they will taste good. At that price, you sure do hope so, but probably don’t have a great deal of faith…
This pretty cheesecake is well within your ability. You need a good mixer, a spring form pan and fresh cream cheese.
This recipe was made for a 6" spring form pan. The crust recipe included, is enough for two cakes or one larger, 9" spring form pan. I put the remaining dough into the freezer for my next baking expedition!
If you are using a conventional oven, you need to take some extra steps to prep your pan. The butter in the crust will potentially melt, dripping down on the element and start a fire. In a convection oven, there is no exposed element, so not a problem. I do like to place a pan in the bottom of my convection oven, to catch drips and make cleanup easy, though. Of course, you can also use the upcoming method to handle drips, too. To create a seal for conventional cooking, wrap plastic wrap around the exterior of the assembled pan, creating a barrier to prevent leaks. You do not want it sticking up over the top edge, so tuck it neatly. Now, wrap foil around the plastic, with the thought of stopping leaks, also, but primarily to protect the plastic from the heat as well as creating a secondary catch point. The plastic will shrink from the heat, but honestly, it should do a great job. If you are further concerned, place a pan or dish under the spring form, too. This is fine, but it could make it take a little longer to bake in a conventional oven.
Once you are done sealing your pan, use a light coating of oil on the inside, for ease of release and for the crust crumb to stick to.
If using a conventional oven, set to 350; 325 for convection.
1 C Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free flour
1/3 C sugar
6 T cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
Dash of salt
Using the paddle attachment, mix together all the ingredients until you have formed a consistent petite pea sized crumb. Do not over mix!! Honestly, if that happens and it forms a dough, you are best to start over. You can save the screw up batch and make some cookies, but it will have a tough texture, if you try to use it for your cheesecake.
Place the finished crumb in the pan. If doing a six or seven inch spring form, put the other half in a freezer bag and store for another day. Now, carefully press the crumb all the way up the sides and across the bottom, using your fingers. If it is sticking to you, run your fingers under cold water to cool them, dry and dust with a little of your gluten free flour. It is very important to get the crust an even thickness on the entire surface. The largest pitfall is the corner where the sides meet the bottom. Push with your finger tips to thin it, if you realize you have created a slope instead of a sharp corner. If you don’t your finished cheesecake will have an unappealing block of crust in each piece. Set your crust in the fridge until you are ready to fill and bake.
To make the filling:
1 lb FRESH, good quality cream cheese. Do not cheap out and do check the date. As it ages, it loses moisture. You will end up with a cheesecake dotted with dry morsels of cheese no matter how much you whip it.
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp real vanilla
zest from half of a lemon
Place all the filling ingredients into your mixer with the whip attachment. Whip until fluffy and smooth. Carefully spoon into your prepared crust. Push it up against the sides in a way that you do not knock the crumbles loose and smooth the top. It will be fairly full. Place in the preheated oven. The cake will take roughly an hour. It’s done when a toothpick comes out clean from the center. If the top is beginning to get too brown, place a loose foil tent over it for the final baking.
Once fully cooled on a rack, carefully remove the spring form pieces. You can simply dust with powdered sugar and serve or use your favorite gluten free topping. The pictured cake has fresh strawberries in pineapple glaze. This is super easy and the combined acid and sweetness of the pineapple will give you the flavor that may not be in the berries coming in at this time of year. Simply reduce the pineapple juice. Add more sugar if your berries are particularly sour. Cool for a few minutes then fold into sliced berries. For a thicker glaze, add some dissolved gelatin before mixing with the berries. For an extra pretty batch, you can also add red food coloring.
- Sword Fights (1/27/2015)
A thrust, a parry, dodge and lunge! To the victor go the spoils; realized in Blood Orange Marinated Swordfish! I scored a couple gorgeous Swordfish steaks at Pure Food Fish, in Pike Market!
Swordfish simply adores citrus. An hour, bathing in a blend of blood orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper leaves you with a remarkably flavorful and tender piece of fish. A quick sear, followed by a short rest and this delightful fish is ready to join your favorite side dishes. The featured picture shows roasted Spring onions, baby artichokes and saffron risotto.
Enjoy! Chef Celinda
- Liquid Love (1/21/2015)
Agave nectar, so sweet, such intensity, such texture; I’ve been hopelessly woo-ed. My secret has been revealed!
Agave nectar is roughly 1.5 times the sweetness of sugar. Being comprised of fructrose instead of sucrose, agave nectar has a lower glycemic index. In moderation, it is felt to be potentially a healthier option.
You can use agave in any recipe calling for honey. Differing degrees of processing result in varied grades of finished product. You will find light agave to have a fairly neutral flavor. Amber agave contains subtle caramel notes. These flavors increase in darker agave. My experience is mostly with light agave.
When baking with agave, in addition to moisture modifications if it is substituted for sugar, you also need to cook at a lower temperature. Agave browns more quickly.
Play with agave nectar in your kitchen. With it’s ease of addition, due to liquidity, it’s an easy choice when a dish needs just a touch of sweetness to balance other flavors. Light syrups add no flavor.
I understand agave nectar is a dream to caramelize, as well, being already liquid. It works beautifully in vinaigrette or as the sweet in a tantalizing gastrique.
Of course, should you be in the mood… it is incredible in my favorite fresh grapefruit margaritas. Enjoy! Chef Celinda
- Dance of the Wallflower (1/20/2015)
Yes, it’s kinda homely. The name doesn’t necessarily inspire creativity. Yet, it has a great deal going for it! Celeriac can be prepared pretty much the same way you would a potato; in fact, some diners would never notice you slipped some onto their plate in place of the weight loss inhibiting potato…
I’ve been endeavoring to work with celeriac. It’s lovely raw, grated in a salad, or cook and then puree or mash this healthful treat. The flavors are subtly bitter/sweet with notes of anise, celery, hazelnuts, and/or walnut. Mashed Celeriac has a lovely fluffy texture. The only hard part is peeling it. Get out a nice sharp knife and just go for it. A carrot peeler really isn’t going to touch this hunk of joy!
I decided to try using Celeriac in a braise featuring Italian herbs and wine. Oh, my! The battle was on! Those beautiful, soft, luscious chunks of roasted vegetable brought out the aggressive side to those at my table… So good! Please do try this soon!
- Belly Dancer’s Spice? (1/16/2015)
The scent of Fenugreek seeds tend to make me think of Belly Dancers, for whatever reason. It’s beautiful, exotic essence perfumes the very air; transporting me to a place dark with romance and secrets.
Fenugreek is used in many varied cuisines: India, Turkey, Persia, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, as well as an ingredient in traditional Yemenite Jewish New Year dishes.
You have probably encountered this spice in curries. Fenugreek’s fresh or dried leaves are used as an herb and the fresh leaves, sprouts and micro-greens are a delightful addition to your vegetable choices. Fenugreek’s distinctive sweet smell is from the chemical component, Sotolon.
The smell of the seeds is reminiscent of so many things, that it can be a challenge to one’s nose to identify exactly what has your attention so thoroughly. It’s pungent sweet, yet bitter aromas may make you think of burnt sugar, caramel, maple syrup, chocolate, coffee, or even, celery. Actually, it is an ingredient in artificial maple syrup.
Such a broad spectrum makes it a favorite in my spice cabinet. Besides it’s natural affinity to all the ingredients from that exotic side of our globe, it is fun to add in unexpected places. Why not? It’s beautiful with cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. Try using a titch of toasted, ground seeds in an omelet. Add the same to plain yogurt, with herbs, to create a spectacular sauce for chicken, fish or maybe a lentil soup! Fenugreek also works well with tomatoes, so imagine a sauce featuring toasted ground seeds, garlic, chilies and fresh herbs. Try this sauce with pasta or as a base to roast chicken breasts.
It’s time for me to stop tormenting you with these ideas! Get in the kitchen and cook! Enjoy! Chef Celinda
- Friend or Foe? (1/16/2015)We know that garlic has been used by cooks since, at least, the time that history began to be written. It gives our dishes such flavor; suchzing; such personality.Garlic can be used raw in pesto,sauteed in many a dish, roasted and used as a spread or accompaniment.The use of garlic, medicinally, is historically endorsed, as well. Modern research confirms that garlic is a potent weapon in the battle against disease. “A 1999 study by S. Ankri and D. Mirelman shows that a compound within garlic called allicin is responsible for garlic’s antimicrobial, antiviral, and antiparasitic activity. It’s also been shown to combat drug-resistant strains of E. coli and could potentially battle some superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics. Allicin isn’t actually in garlic. A compound, alliin, and an enzyme, alliinase are part of the cells in a garlic clove. These two are kept separate, however, when those cell walls are ruptured, they meet and form the all-powerful and mighty allicin.”“A 2001 study by K. Song and J.A. Milner showed that heating, microwaving, or boiling crushed garlic destroyed all the alliinase enzyme activity within it. However, most dishes call for cooked garlic rather than raw.”
Since, there aren’t a lot of application of raw garlic, in ‘polite’ society, how do we get around this?
Studies have shown that cutting your garlic, at least ten minutes prior to cooking, allows the allicin to form. Less will be destroyed by the cooking process. An easy trick to improve health! Garlic can easily be sliced, chopped, pressed or emulsified with a food processor. I have a tiny little Cuisinart Mini-Prep Processor, that is fun to use.
Alas, many individuals seem to be sensitive to this ingredient. I have read a number of articles and posts regarding this. If you fall into this category, when dining out, please be polite and patient explaining this need to your server. So many people are simply afraid of potential bad breath and ‘abuse’ the word allergy. This creates a nightmare for those with actual health consequences. Take a look at my pages regarding dining out, for some suggestions.
- Big Butts! (1/15/2015)
It is commonly braised and used for pulled pork and a variety of other options. I love to simply roast them. The fat within bastes throughout during the cooking process, adding moisture and remarkable flavor.
You can buy these with or without bones. The bone-in has more flavor, but more challenging when it comes time to slice pretty pieces. If you have a boneless one, be sure to open the flap created from removing the bones and season inside, as well.
I don’t generally brine a butt/shoulder. (and YES, the name is interchangeable for this cut of meat) You certainly can brine, if you have desire and the space.
Once seasoned, if cooking a boneless Pork Butt, you will want to tie it. Otherwise, the top tends to lift up and become dry.
Pork is so very versatile. It lends itself to a wide variety of different cuisines, so when it comes to seasoning, its wide open. If you are cooking a big piece, you may want to keep the seasoning simple, so you can use it to prepare several diverse meals. I get a kick out of my “Deja-Food” machinations. The challenge is to prepare of meal, using ‘left-overs’ while utterly fooling the picky eaters at the table.
If you have the ability to handle a large quantity of Pork Butt, I would recommend going to one of the several Cash & Carry stores. They are all over the Seattle area. These stores are set up for restaurants and other food oriented retail operations, but they are licensed for non-commercial purchases, as well. You will pay half the price per pound that you would spend at a grocery store. You will ALSO have a package containing two full butts. A ‘whole’ butt is from both sides of the pig, so two pieces. I generally cook one whole one, while cutting the other into two units that I freeze for another day. You can cut the first smaller, as well. You are in charge!
Enjoy!! Chef Celinda
- Sq-isotto?? (1/15/2015)
This is one of those sneaky side dishes that will win the show every time. The guests at the table, will all look at you and ask, “What is it? Oh, it is soooo GOOD!”
The essence of the fennel mellows with the subtle sweet squash flavors. Being the first time I played with this concept, I didn’t look to add more then salt for seasoning and a touch of sherry vinegar to balance the sweetness from both vegetables and the onion.
It would do well with hard cheeses, like Parmigianno. Many of the warm spices would be good options, as well as your favorite chilies, cooked into the mixture from the beginning. Fresh herbs can elevate in a large variety of directions. Make your choices based on what you will be serving with this lovely side dish.
Enjoy!! Chef Celinda
- Fennel Top Pesto (1/15/2015)
Try it tossed into pasta with Feta or Gorgonzola for a simple but amazing meal!
Try is as a condiment with roast chicken, fish or pork entree’s
Slather a thin layer on grilled bread and top with roasted Roma tomatoes and Pecorino Romano for a magnificent winter Bruschetta.
Envision a sandwich featuring thinly sliced roast chicken, Gouda, fresh apple and a thin slather of this magnificent pesto!
Fennel Top Pesto
Save the long, thin stems and frilly leaves from your next fennel bulb. Chop it roughly and place in a food processor with fresh garlic and roasted pine nuts. Pulse a few times to mingle the ingredients and start breaking it down. Add a little extra virgin olive oil and blend. Add more oil, a little at a time until it is the desired consistency. I did mention that this recipe is ridiculously easy?
Enjoy!! Chef Celinda
- Cracking Up (1/14/2015)
Embrace your ‘Nutty’ side and bring more NUTS into your culinary repertoire. Walnuts, in particular, can be a wonderful addition, to both sweet and savory dishes. They also bring Omega-3 fatty acid and a decent amount of protein to “the table”.
I find it relaxing to hand-shell nuts, like these. Grab a handy nut cracker and start cracking those big shells! You may find a certain sense of timeless contentment or…maybe you might want to use this task for a little stress relief, for those annoyances you may have internalized. Yes, cooking can be quite therapeutic!
Whether smashing things brings you joy or you’d rather just slide into a bag and pull out some treasure, walnuts are easy to work with. They add a wake up of bitterness, lovely texture and the element of surprise in many dishes.
You have probably seen them used in salads. All of the elements discussed in the prior paragraph make them a great choice for this.
Walnuts are wonderful, as the primary, or as a secondary component in sauces. Consider them when working with apples, beets, blue veined cheeses, carrots, eggplant, figs, grains, greens, mushrooms, pastas, pesto and winter squashes, to name just a handful of ideas to consider.
So, maybe you are nuts, but you’re a fabulous Cook! Enjoy!! Chef Celinda
- Coffee: Bitter Blessing (1/14/2015)
You wake up in the morning. You’re foggy and a bit disoriented. You reach for a jolt of BITTER, ie: Drip Coffee, Espresso, French Press… I could list more, but they all typically include sugar, an entirely different life changing ingredient we add to our daily chemistry. Many Seattleites, would claim the consumption of coffee to be a near religious experience.
Today, I am going to discuss using the highly beloved coffee bean as a culinary ingredient. Yeah, I know! Life just moved to an even better place!
Whether using Dark roast, with it’s LOUD flavors or Lighter roast, that can be a bit more moderate, even quiet, in it’s expression, you have so many opportunities to create!
Maybe you have already risked it all, combining coffee with chocolate in your baking. Those two tango sublimely outside your coffee cup! How about using coffee in savory dishes?
Beef and Pork are great dishes to consider using fresh ground coffee, or espresso beans, as the primary component of a rub. The big flavors of coffee is incredible paired up with warm spices, spicy peppers, smokey flavored ingredients.
I also like to use coffee in sauces and gravies; even soups and chili. Have a project that is just not right; no pizzazz, no WOW? Add some prepared coffee to the liquid you are reducing. Be careful, it may feel like your kitchen had a little earthquake… Taste it now. And??? All of sudden, that dish is yelling HELLO!!! EAT ME!!
Don’t be Bitter! Have FUN with your FOOD! Chef Celinda
- Zesty! (1/14/2015)
During, seemingly endless, gray winter days, bringing a little sunshine into our meals is a true bonus. Beautiful colors, bright flavors, reminiscent of sunny days past or future, give us hope. That bitter tang from tiny morsels of zest, as it assaults each of our senses and bellows WAKE UP!!
Using the zest, the thin outer edge of the peel not the inner white pith, in recipes adds flavor, but no fat or sodium! How many ingredients, with that level of WOW, can say the same thing?
The easiest way to make quick flavor adjustments to many dishes, is by keeping a microplane handy in the kitchen. You can zest directly into the pan or do ahead and have it handy. It smells sooooo good, coming off the plane in tiny ribbons, as the oils are released into the atmosphere.
If you are in need of a large quantity, you might want to use a grater with a larger surface. I like to do this over a good size piece of waxed paper. Less mess and more zest for use.
I particularly like the bitter aspects of citrus zests. I use it frequently, in any dish that the primary fruit flavor would work with. Watch Fearless Feast recipes for lots of great ideas!
Enjoy! Chef Celinda
- Chocolate (1/14/2015)
Dark Chocolate is a wonderful ingredient to integrate into numerous savory dishes. You may be familiar with it in Puebla Mole recipes. It is an incredible ‘secret ingredient’ in chili and it makes a subtle component, when included in rubs for beef and pork dishes.
Chocolate is only grown in a narrow band of latitude around the globe. Like good wine, it is available from single plantations. If you get the opportunity, don’t pass up the chance to taste test a variety of chocolates. You will find them to be amazingly different from one another. Savor it on your palate. Close your eyes and delve deeper into the flavor profile. What do you taste? The essence of the earth it was grown in? Spice? Berries? Coffee notes? Approach chocolate tasting the same way you would seek to choose a wine. I will warn you, once you have experienced this level of culinary ecstasy, it’s rather like flying first class…coach will never be adequate again.
You want to buy a product that is high in cocoa; 60% is sweet enough for most people’s eating pleasure, while 80% is best for cooking with. The difference is the sugar content. Once again, taste! Be bold! Think about those flavors, not the sugar. What excites your taste buds?
Another great treat to work with are cocoa nibs. This is chocolate in its non-processed form. No, it has no sugar, but it’s a more balanced bitter flavor then unsweetened, processed chocolate. Try adding nibs to risotto that will accompany beef or pork! You will want to add them at the end of preparation time. They are wonderful sneaky ingredient to integrate into a dish. Experiment!
Remember, dark chocolate is high in anti-oxidants, too! Enjoy!
- Too Pretty to Eat? (1/13/2015)
Rack of Lamb with Orange Gremolata
Lamb Rack, frenched, typically eight bones
Cara Cara Orange, zested and supremed into separate dishes
Salt and pepper
Italian flay leaf parsley, chopped
Pine nuts, toasted
Chef’s Secret: The key to cooking lamb is patience. To achieve the beautiful color in the picture, you need to allow it to rest. If you don’t, when you cut it, all those lovely juices run free.
Cut the rack into portions, allowing three to four ribs per person when using small imported lamb. If you are using American lamb, it is usually from larger animals, so you won’t need as many ribs per person.
Salt and pepper all surfaces. Set it aside and allow to come to room temperature. This creates more even cooking through out.
Mix the orange zest, rosemary and garlic. Set aside.
Heat a cast iron skillet with a small amount of olive oil. Place the lamb in it, meat side down. Brown this. When that is achieved, turn it over. While the back side is cooking, rub the orange zest mixture all over the meat side of the rack. Now, put the pan, with the lamb into a 400 degree oven. Cooking time will be determined by the size of the portions. When the meat is no longer smushy, but beginning to be firm to the touch, pull the pan from the oven. Transfer the racks, uncut, to a plate and set aside.
While they are resting for 10-15 minutes you can complete any side dishes and make the orange salad garnish. To make this, combine the orange supremes with the parsley, shallot and pine nuts.
Once the lamb is fully rested, carefully cut between the rib bones to make chops. They should be beautifully pink, warm all the way through and not losing their juices. Plate them and top with the supreme salad.
Enjoy!! Chef Celinda
- My Love Affair… (1/9/2015)
I must confess, I LOVE Castelvetrano Olives… Such beauty! Such a satisfying object to adore!
Castelvetrano olives are named for their provenance, a town and comune of the same name in Trapani, Sicily, Italy.
This olive is actually not cured, but processed in a similar fashion to California’s black olives. This is why this beauty has such a lovely bright green hue. You must keep them refrigerated, should you want to prolong their existence in your home. That is, if you can resist eating every last one the moment you open the package…
The flavor is sweet and a bit fruity; tasting truly like good olive oil.
Enjoy them with your favorite bold Italian cheese, good quality cold cuts, or alone with a glass of wine. They are an excellent ingredient for tapenade, with their delightful flavor and incredible color. You can include them in many recipes, too. Just crush to remove the pit and chop. Super easy. This olive wants to be loved!