Monday, April 28, 2008

Welcome Summer grill

Grilled mackerel pike (saira): sprinkle the fish with a lot of salt on both sides and inside, refrigerate for a couple of hours. Rinse and dry with paper towels. Brush with olive oil, grill on a hot (450F) grill 2-3 minutes per side.

Mango salsa: cut one ripe mango into cubes. Finely chop 1 small or 1/2 large red onion and a small handful of cilantro (I was actually using a mix of cilantro, flat leaf parsley and chevril, plus 2 shredded kaffir lime leaves). Mix, season with juice of 1 lime, salt and pepper.

Plain white rice; prepared wakame salad.

The fish is delicious, but so full of tiny bones that a lot of patience, a finger bowl and two forks are a must. I would have filleted it before serving, but it looks so good whole!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Little Veggies

I couldn't resist buying these when I saw them, and now I just have to share the pictures. They must be genetically modified, with genes of either a whale or an elephant. However, they are tender and taste good.
Take a little more time to cook than normal artichokes.

One serves two as a light supper, boiled, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip. 2/$5 in our local supermarket.

Dancy Sushi

When our favorite Monster Sushi closed, I vas crying on my boyfriend's shoulder: I'll never come to your place in Mountain View again, now when we cannot go to Monster Sushi! It was not just a good quality working-class sushi place, with big friendly slices of freshest fish and good dinner-size rolls (dinner for two, that is). It was part of home. We walk to the Monster, then walk to Trader Vic's for drinks. Peninsula living.

Time passed, and the former Monster reopened under another name. When we walked in the empty, just remodelled restaurant, I was feeling like coming to a dead friend's house and finding some stranger living there. The place was almost empty, still smelling of fresh paint, and there were two totally unfamiliar smiling sushi chefs behind the bar. I sat at "our" table and didn't know what to do. Then the food arrived...

What can I say? The quality and freshness are such that I won't be surprised if people start coming there from San Francisco. I know just two other sushi bars on the Peninsula that get this type of fish (they probably use the same supplier). The fish is expertly cut.

There is a selection of seasonal exotic fishes that you don't get everywhere. And the chefs don't stick to the classical menu either, there is a number of unique creations on the menu, like this Sunrise Roll here, rice, tobiko and quail egg wrapped with red tuna - there's also a Sunset Roll, wrapped in salmon.

It's more California fusion than traditional sushi, they can add a cherry tomato to the salad of daikon with rice vinegar dressing, or decorate the Super California Roll with fresh strawberries, all with admirable imagination and elegant and delicious result.

I am sure the prices will go up, but right now it's no more expensive than any regular sushi bar. We paid something like $40 for a light dinner for both of us - no sake, remember, we go to Trader Vic's for drinks afterwards.

Now I'll have to come to Mountain View more often. We haven't tried one tenth of their menu.

Dancy Sushi, on the corner of San Antonio and California.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Summer is here!

Not just any strawberries, but really ripe, pretty dry, aromatic berries that you only get when the weather is just beginning to turn hot.
Their aroma even reminded me of the wild strawberries that we used to pick up in the wood clearing as kids. It's not the same berry, of course, but the message is as clear: summer.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I would like to talk about my new gas grill. Almost all of my friends who grill have Weber Q grills of various sizes, and they are very happy with them. These are small portable gas grills that don't look like most grills, like black boxes, but actually have a design. Also they have large grill area for the size, and they heat up and hold the heat efficiently. So when shopping for a gas grill for my new big patio, being mad about grilling as I am, I decided to go for a grown-up version of the same.

So, when my Monster Q arrived in a huge box, I was quite dissapointed. The assembly wasn't fast or easy. It looks like after all these good reviews, the manufacturer somewhat relaxed the quality control. The gadget came in 36 parts, some of them broken, and with an assembly instruction of 19 steps, no text, pictures only, some incorrect. Fortunately, the customer service hasn't relaxed yet, so after a couple phone calls, a weeks wait for replacement parts, a few arguments over the instruction and one trip to Home Depot to get more tools, we worked all the bugs out and started grilling!

Now I think that I own the best patio grill ever. It looks cute, and it actually looks smaller than it really is.

It heats to 600F (no joke!) in minutes. And, unlike my old grill, when the lid is on, it holds the heat. This means it can be cleaned like a self-cleaning oven. And we already made a pizza on it. The grilling area is so big that even if I have a party I can still cook all the food at once. The only complaint is that even though it has wheels, when the tank is on, I cannot move it - it's too heavy, and the tank is not fixed to the cart and falls off. Well, I guess the wheels are just for moving it to storage for winter. And I am ready for the summer here!

Grilled Chatobriand Steak, Grilled Vegetables.

Wash and trim the asparagus. Trim the greens from the carrots, leaving about 1 in. - Yes, I finally found a use for these organic homegrown young carrots with greens attached. They are excellent on the grill. I don't use the greens though. - Wash the carrots, rubbing them with the dish sponge. Do not peel. Wash and towel-dry the steak.
With a brush, cover steak and vegetebles with olive oil with some salt and pepper added to it.

Heat the grill to 450F. Place the steak in the middle, vegetables on the sides. Cover and grill about 2 minutes.
Turn the vegetables, lift the steak and turn it 90 degrees, same side down, to create grill marks. A couple more minutes, and the vegs are done, remove to a hot plate.
Turn the steak over, sear for a couple of minutes, then lower the heat and continue cooking until the internal temperature is about 140F (medium-rare).

Simple summer food. I am all ready for summer, where is it?

Served with herb butter, brown tomatoes and baby greens, vinegrette dressing, Chateau de Brandey 2006.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

OK, Guess I have to start somewhere...

Grilled Sea Scallops, Saffron Risotto

Ever since I moved to Marin County in January, I've been going to Marin Farmers Market almost every week. Like all things Marin it's so outrageously upscale, ecologically correct and certified organic that it looks totally fake. I should write more about this market some time, I go there like one goes to a zoo, and it's much closer to home.

However, between certified free range eggs coming from hens that are being treated humanely on a local farm, and unwashed organic homegrown carrots at $3/bunch one can always find something interesting, and at times even unique - it's a big market, you know.

This weeks find were fresh sea scallops on half-shell, individually packed, from Peru. Yes, these sea monsters have been on a trance continental flight, and still they looked very fresh. I never look that fresh after these flights. On the other hand, few sea scallops live to be my age.

Sold at $1.50 a piece or $15 per dozen, they are medium-sized, but worth it anyway! They are probably the best scallops I ever had.

With seafood so great you don't need much seasoning or decoration. What I did was put a little piece of lemon-shallot butter on each,
and grilled them on the covered gass grill at 400F for 2 minutes.

Served with simple saffron risotto (shallot, olive oil, saffron, white wine, chicken stock, Carnaroli rice), cherry tomatoes (next time I will omit the tomatoes, they don't really belong to this story, both color and texture) and Italian parsley.

Wine: Dry Creek Saralee's Vineyard Chardonnay 2004.