Wednesday, June 15, 2016

July 4th Backyard Gourmet

Pro Tips and Recipes

Moms like me that want to show off their “backyard gourmet” summer cooking skills - using what’s in season - below are several tips & recipes from many acclaimed California chefs (Napa’s La Toque, Tahoe’s Moody’s Bistro, Catalina’s new Avalon Grille and more), as minds turn to backyard BBQs this upcoming holiday weekend…

Executive Chef Brandon Brocia with the Whitebark Restaurant inside the Westin Monache, Mammoth

·         Grill Recipe:  

Grilled White Corn on the Cob with Roasted Red Pepper Butter and Ricotta Salata Cheese

Clean four cobs of corn of all silk and leave the husks on the outside
Char grill one large red pepper and rub off the blackened skin with a moist towel, cut it in half and de-seed
1 TB of fresh oregano, chopped
8 oz. of ricotta salata cheese, grated
8 oz soft butter

Place the roasted red pepper and 8 oz of soft butter in a food processor and blend until the pepper is mostly chopped, no more than 1 minute.
Add the chopped oregano and salt and pepper and fold it into the red pepper butter.

Grill the corn in the husks until charred and the corn has a light even color.

Pull the husks off the corn and discard, roll the cob in the red pepper butter and then dredge it thoroughly in the ricotta salata cheese

One of my favorite sauces for grilled pork and chicken is simple and outrageously good. I also feature it on the whitebark menu

·         “Outrageously Good” BBQ Sauce:

Honey Bourbon Glaze

2 quartered medium yellow onions
3 cups bourbon
2 cups honey

Place the onions in food processor and blend until the onions have pureed

Place the onions in a sauce pan with the bourbon and flambé the pan

Once the flames have subsided add the honey and reduce until the sauce is starting to brown slightly

Executive Chef Ken Frank of Napa’s Michelin Star-rated La Toque

·         Favorite backyard tool: It’s actually almost free - fishing line tied between two corks is ideal for cutting many cheeses; Chef uses this to cut the layers in very fresh Brillat-Savarin Cheese so he can put truffle inside

·         Garden Recipe:  

Fava Leaf Pesto

1 cup tightly packed fresh tender fava leaves
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
Large pinch of salt, to taste

Bring salted water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Blanch ½ cup of the fresh fava leaves for 15 seconds to wilt them and then shock and cool immediately in an ice bath to preserve the bright green color. Wring out excess water when done. Coarsely chop remaining fresh fava leaves and add both to food processor. Puree with extra virgin olive oil, the pine nuts and salt. When smooth, add the grated parmesan and continue blending just enough to mix well.

For best flavor, use same day. It is particularly good tossed with angel hair pasta. At La Toque we serve it as a sauce with the cheese soufflé on the vegetable menu.

Executive Chef Rob Dalzell of Catalina Island’s  Avalon Grille
·         BBQ Tips: 

1)    Let It Be
Patience may be a virtue, but it's not practiced all that often at the grill. It's impatience that causes the No. 1 grilling mistake: Messing with the food before it has had a chance to cook. Avoid testing the food the minute you put it on the heat, which includes picking it up to see if it's done on the bottom, moving it around and turning it over every 10 seconds.

I suggest putting the food down and giving it time to cook. This gives the food a chance to sear on the bottom so that it naturally pulls away from the grates. If you try moving food before it's seared on the bottom, it'll definitely stick. 

2)    Wait Before Slicing
There's nothing quite as enticing or tasty as a big slab of grilled beef. However, most backyard cooks are an impatient lot—me included—and they start slicing into the meat the instant it comes off the grill. I recommend that you let grilled meat rest for three or four minutes to allow the juices to redistribute and thicken. If you slice into grilled meat too soon, all those moist, tasty juices will flow out, leaving the meat dry and chewy.

 By the way, this wait-to-slice rule should be observed for pork, lamb, chicken and other meats, too. (And if you're slicing into your meat before it comes off the grill to check for doneness, that’s even worse. Use an instant-  read thermometer instead.) 

Here's another steak-grilling tip: Before bringing the steak to the table for slicing, drizzle a little olive oil or smear a pat of butter over the steak to give it a handsome sheen and spectacular flavor and finish.

Chef de Cuisine Guy Frenette of Lake Tahoe’s Moody’s Bistro and Lounge
BBQ Tip:

Use a meat fork to release meat or fish that has stuck to the grill.  Use the tines of the fork to go between the grill grates and underneath the meat/fish to slowly work it off, as opposed to tearing off the crust or skin with tongs/spatula and leaving the good stuff behind to burn on the grill.   

Chef de Cuisine Michael Plapp of Lake Tahoe’s Baxter’s Bistro and Lounge
Seasonal Tips:

1) Radishes aren't only for salads. They are great sauteed in butter with a little sea salt as a side vegetable
2) Instead of peeling baby carrots, use a (clean) fiber pot scrubber.  It removes the dirt without removing the nutrient rich skin  

Garden Recipe:


Stale French Bread, cubed                 1 Cup
Fresh Tomatoes                                  2 lbs
Yellow Onion, chopped                       ¼ Cup
Garlic cloves                                       2 ea
Cucumber, peeled                              1 ea
Red Pepper                                         1 ea
Red Wine or Sherry Vinegar              3 Tbsp
Extra Virgin Olive Oil              ½ Cup
Water                                                  As needed
Salt and Pepper                                  As needed

Soak bread in water until softened.  Puree with remaining ingredients to smooth.

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