Monday, August 22, 2016

Chile Rubbed King Salmon Recipe & GIVEAWAY!

It's King salmon season and I couldn't be happier. King, also known as Chinook is the most precious and luscious salmon around. It’s very high in healthy fats and has an amazingly creamy texture. I was offered the opportunity to try fish from Daily Fresh Fish so naturally I chose King salmon. DailyFreshFish is a company that delivers seafood overnight. There's no warehousing or middle man and no time for it to linger in a case at the market. It goes from the dock to the shore and then directly to you. The only way to get fresher seafood would be to either catch it yourself or go to dock and get it from a fisherman. 

The company offers a wide range of seafood, and is certified with The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainable seafood certification program, which verifies that the seafood is sustainable. They also use seafood guides from the Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the NOAA FishWatch to select sustainable fisheries and farms. Even their shipping materials are made from recyclable materials or are reusable or recyclable. 

For years I have experimented with different techniques for cooking fish. I particularly love Jacques Pepin’s technique of cooking fish at 200 degrees. I use the same technique but start the fish in a skillet over high heat because I love eating crisp salmon skin. I also add a spice rub because it gives the fish plenty of flavor and color without drowning it in sauce. This recipe uses a spice rub I created for a client years ago. Taste it before you put it on the fish and adjust it to your liking. It can easily be made in smaller or larger amounts depending upon how much fish you have. 

Thanks to DailyFreshFish I’m giving away 2 packages of 2 six ounce filets of fresh King salmon (value $28.99). You must be a US resident to win. Leave me a comment telling me about your favorite seafood meal or fishing experience. Two winners will be chosen on August 25th. Be sure to enter your email address in the field where it is requested. Do not leave your email address in the body of the comment. 

Note: King salmon should be available all month, but in case it’s not you will receive frozen King salmon instead. 

Chile Rubbed Salmon
Serves 4


1 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Cooking oil
4 salmon filets 


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Combine the chile powder, cumin, brown sugar and salt in a small bowl. Coat the flesh side of the fish with the spice mixture.

Heat a cast iron or oven proof skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to barely coat the skillet. Carefully lay the salmon into the skillet, skin side down. Cook for 2 minutes or until the skin gets crisp. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 - 30 minutes, or until cooked until done to your liking. The amount of time will depend upon the thickness of your filet.


Disclaimer: DailyFreshFish supplied fish to me an for the giveaway. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

All About Peach Butter

With Summer comes sweet juicy stone fruit like peaches and nectarines. Which is exactly what was in the second batch of fruit I received as part of the Canbassador program from  In addition to making a cobbler and a tomato peach salad, I made peach ginger butter. Fruit butter is very similar to jam, but it has a creamy consistency that seems amost buttery even though it’s completely dairy free. Fruit butters are easier to make than jam since they don’t set the same way. You cook the fruit to the right texture rather than setting with pectin. 

Since this was my first time making it, I had lots to learn. For one thing, you don’t need to remove the skins. I did, but this was not necessary since they get pureed into the mixture. I added some vanilla, cinnamon and cloves in a sachet. This was also probably unnecessary. Because of the ginger flavor you can’t really detect the other spices. I used mostly all peaches and one nectarine. 

The main thing I learned about making fruit butter is, it’s really easy to make! It takes very little time or effort and makes a jar makes a nice gift. The recipe I used came from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving

I like fruit butter on an English muffin, but it’s good on any sweet breakfast bread or toast. The silky consistency is really irresistable! I’ve put together a list of ways to use it.  Have you made or used fruit butters? If so, let me know how you like to use them.

Ways to use peach butter 

* Add to a cheese or charcuterie plate

* Use as a filling for cookies or pastries 

* Layer on a grilled cheese sandwich

* Mixed with mustard as a marinade or sauce

* Used in place of apple butter in cakes or muffin recipes

* Serve on crepes, pancakes or waffles 

* Swirl into yogurt  

* Mix it with ketchup and soy sauce to make a barbecue sauce

* Slather on biscuits, cornbread, muffins or croissants

Disclaimer: My thanks to the Washington State Fruit Commission for choosing me as a Canbassador and providing me with fruit and to Jarden for providing a copy of the book. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

Tomato Peach & Tofu Salad Recipe

I don’t know when I stopped making salad every night, but it happened. That’s not to say I don’t eat salad anymore, I probably eat it more often than ever, I just eat it as a main dish instead. At least several times a week for lunch and at least once a week for dinner, I serve a main dish salad. What makes it a main dish? I’d say protein. And tofu is a perfect plant-based protein for salads. 

A few weeks ago I attended an event hosted by House Foods organic tofu. Chef Melissa King did the cooking and also a cooking demo. I picked up a lot of good ideas. I loved her take on a Caprese salad and I’ve made my own versions of it several times. In one version I made a small bite style appetizer by placing diced tomatoes and tofu on large basil leaves and dressed them with coarse salt and extra virgin olive oil. In another, I was captivated by another recipe I found for Tomato-Peach Salad with Tofu Cream. But I wanted the salad to be a main dish, rather than a starter so I made some changes. 

My version uses tofu in two ways, I used it as a creamy dressing and also in pieces. It’s a very light summery salad, perfect for lunch. The soft tofu is really nice with the juicy peaches and tomatoes. I shouldn’t have to say it, but this recipe relies on the best quality lucious and sweet produce. If nectarines taste better than peaches, by all means use them instead. The fresh basil, salt and pepper provide a nice balance to the sweetness of the the fruit. 

Tomato Peach Tofu Salad
Serves 4


14 ounce package silken tofu
1 Tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 large heirloom tomatoes
2 large peaches
1 bunch fresh basil, about 20 leaves
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


Cut the tofu into two halves. Place one piece in the blender with the sherry vinegar and soy sauce and blend until creamy. Taste for seasoning. 

Take the other half of the tofu and slice it into about 20 pieces. Slice the tomatoes and peaches into thin wedges. 

Spoon the creamy sauce into four plates top with slices of tomatoes, peaches, tofu and basil leaves. Drizzle each plate with a teaspoon of olive oil and finish with a generous pinch of salt and black pepper to taste. 


Disclamer: My thanks to Washington State Fruit Commission for the peaches and House Foods for the tofu.  

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Meet Viola Buitoni

When I lived in Italy I was both very lucky to know a few Italians who treated me like family, and very naive. I think back now on my 6 months living in Italy and I can’t help but realize how much I missed. What I really needed was a friend like Viola to help me navigate and find the good stuff. 

Viola Buitoni is a San Francisco cooking instructor and kind of impresario--organizing Italian themed events. She’s also tremendously down-to-earth, relaxed and utterly charming. I took a cooking class with her a few years ago and loved every minute of it. Her classes sell out so quickly I rarely have time to write about them in advance. To travel with her to Italy? That sounds like heaven to me. 

Where did you grow up and can you tell me about your family’s food connections? 
VB: I grew up in Perugia, the main city of Umbria and was born into one of Italy's first pasta families. I am the 6th generation of the Buitoni family. Our pasta fortune originates in Sansepolcro, a province of Arezzo. Shortly after moving to Perugia to mind one of the pastifici, my great grandfather Francesco founded Perugina with Luisa Spagnoli. Though my family no longer has a stake, Buitoni and Perugina are both worldwide food brands to this day. 
What made you decide to run tours to Italy?
VB:I've been in the Italian food business for more than 25 years, I've run kitchens and dining rooms catered to the NY elite and even owned a store. After a short maternity break, I started teaching and found enormous joy in sharing the knowledge I had accumulated. My deep love and understanding of Italian food was clearly infectious. I've grown a following of students who often told me I've changed the way they think about food. Guiding a cooking experience in Italy seemed a natural extension of the "Viola experience", so to say, a way to continue to inspire passionate home cooks even further in embracing not only the technique but the deeper meaning of food and kitchen culture in Italy. 

What kinds of recipes do you to teach? 
VB: I teach recipes that can live and change in home kitchens and that are suited for school nights; the kind that that can work for generations and create lasting memories while changing with time. My food is very market driven, it is a celebration of where and when I am in different places in the world. Always, of course, with an Italian sensibility. 

Why are your trips to Lucca and Maremma instead of to the more well-known cities like Florence or Perugia? 
VB:The simple answer is I have access to unique and well suited facilities, but there is more. My maternal family has summered in Maremma for 6 decades, so I know and love it intimately. Lucca came on the coat tails of Maremma when a local foundation noticed the work I was doing and proposed that I do something similar in the lucchesia. 
There is also the desire to share Italy as I know it and love it, with all its fables, and  all its foibles. An Italy that is for locals, that runs on the timetable of nature and its seasons. Teaching about food is also generating emotions, opening a door into an upbringing and adulthood that have always been deeply connected to the pathways of producing, purveying, cooking and enjoying good food. I can think of no better place to do this than the less known territories of Italy. 

What are some of the highlights of your tours to Italy? 
VB:In Maremma a private dinner on top of a mountain from which you can see forever, a visit to the winery of a family. A friend who watched me grow up. In Lucca cooking classes straight from markets, a private tour of a villa guided by the princess who owns it, followed by a reception in her private loggia. 

To learn more about Viola's tours to Italy visit: Viola's Italy