Peachy Keen…and other assorted peachy puns

Fresh peaches and whipped feta

It’s definitely peach (nectarine) season around these parts so this week I’m going to share a couple of simple peachy themed recipes with you.

The first recipe is for a Peach and Whipped Feta salad. I introduced you to whipped feta  a few weeks ago with my “Getting Toasted” Post. The thing I really like about this salad is that it refreshing, and doesn’t require any cooking. This salad also works whether the peaches are harder and not as ripe or super ripe.

Peach and Whipped Feta Salad

serves 4

2 ripe peaches or nectarines (cut into thin slices)

1 cups whipped feta*

1 cup micro greens or baby arugula

1 tsp premium balsamic vinegar for drizzling

1 TSP crushed and toasted Marcona Almonds or hazelnuts

salt and pepper to taste

8 slices of prosciutto

For individual serving, spread a heaping tablespoon of whipped feta diagonally across a chilled salad plate. Lay 4-6 slices of peach on top of the whipped feta and drape 2 slices of prosciutto over the peaches. Top with greens and sprinkle with the Marcona Almonds/Hazelnuts. Dress salad with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


Recipe number 2 is for Peach and Prosciutto Pizza. You can use which ever store bought crust you prefer, in this case I used Whole Foods Pizza Dough This recipe will be for a 20″ pizza.

Peach and Prosciutto Pizza with Ricotta and Arugula

Peach and Prosciutto Pizza with Ricotta and Arugula

1 ripe peach halved and cut into thin slices

1/2 thinly sliced shallot or red onion

2 cups arugula

8 slices or prosciutto  torn into rough strips

1/2 cup pancetta

1/2 cup ricotta

1/2 cup shredded parmesan

1 cup shredded aged mozzarella

2/3 of a cup fresh mozzarella thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

balsamic vinegar


Place peach slices in to a bowl, drizzle lightly with oiive oil, honey and salt and pepper and set aside. In a second bowl, dress the arugula with a splash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper and set aside.  Roll out crust to whichever shape you would like, and cover crust completely with the ricotta and lightly sprinkle half of the aged mozzarella and parmesan over the crust.

Peach and Prosciutto Pizza ready to go on the grill.

Layer the peaches, shallots, prosciutto and pancetta over the crust then top with the remainder of the shredded cheese and the fresh mozzarella. Bake the pizza until the bottom is golden brown and the top has started to brown. Remove from the oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and honey and finish with the dressed arugula.




Fully Loaded….Fries that is…

Here in Southern California, loaded fries is a pretty big deal and just about every bar and hamburger stand has their variation of them whether it’s Pastrami Fries, Carne Asada Fries, or Greek Fries loaded with Gyro meat and feta. We make our own variation at home and the best part aside from warming up some BBQ brisket or pork and heating up some fries not much prep or cooking required. So this also comes together pretty easy on a week night with stuff from the grocery store.

Jack Danial’s Pulled Pork Fries

1 package of Jack Daniel’s Pulled Pork or Brisket

1 jar of Tostitos Queso sauce

1 bag of French fries, tater tots or waffle fries

2 cups of shredded cheese

1 jalapeno finely chopped

3 scallions finely chopped

1 dill pickle finely chopped

bbq sauce/mayo sauce*


Cook the fries according to the package directions. While the fries are cooking, heat up the bbq pork/brisket according to the package directions and set aside. Once fries are cooked, add the shredded cheese and top with bbq meat and drizzle with queso sauce. Return to the oven and heat until the cheese melts (about 5 minutes). Remove from oven, garnish with the chopped onions, jalapeño and pickles then drizzle with bbq sauce/mayo and serve.

*BBQ/Mayo Sauce

½ cup bbq sauce

½ cup mayo

1 TBS apple cider vinegar

pinch of salt

1 TBS honey or agave nectar

1 tsp hot sauce optional

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until combined


Its the most wonderful time of the year….Tamale Season

Freshly steamed pork tamale with salsa verde

It’s hard to believe its November already and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. One of my favorite things about this time of year and into December is the abundance of tamales. Its not uncommon here in Southern California to be approached in a grocery store parking lot or along the streets by someone selling home-made tamales. I have no qualms about buying these tamales and hopefully soon the city of LA and all of LA County will make it easier for street vendors to get permitted and be able to vend legally.

If you ever had a chance to watch tamales being made by hand you know that its a labor intensive process. Which is why people tend to only make them once a year.  Its definitely something that requires some planning and prep and you can’t reasonably expect to be done in a couple of hours. Heck, just soaking the corn husks takes a couple of hours.

The first stage of making the tamales is to prepare the filling.I’m partial to pork filling with a nice tomatillo salsa. You’ll find my Chili Verde recipe here. Its important to save the cooking liquid from the pork but strain the solids out and season it well with salt. You’ll want to use this as the broth for your masa.To make my filling,  I shred the pork from the Chile verde and then add chicharrone molido (cooked pork belly that’s been ground) and my green salsa and test for seasoning adding salt and pepper as needed then I set the filling aside while I prepare my corn husks and masa.

The masa is in my mind the most important part of the tamale. I blandly seasoned masa means bland boring tamales even if you have a really flavorful filling. So its really important to season your stock well and season your masa. The ratio for masa is 3 parts Maseca, 2 parts stock and 1 part fat, then a good amount of salt and 11/2 TBS baking powder. I prefer lard or bacon fat over shortening because I feel its more flavorful and since a tamale is only as good as its masa we want to take advantage of any opportunity to add flavor.  If you have a butcher or a really good Latin market, you should be able to buy unfiltered pork lard (aka manteca de cerdo).

Consequently, if you live near a really good Latin market you can also find pre-made masa for tamales. I feel no shame in using Northgate Gonzalez‘* prepared masa. Its well seasoned and consistent and no matter how you may try homemade masa isn’t. Northgate sells masa by the pound so you need to have an idea of how many tamales you hope to make and the size. The downside is that its definitely more expensive to buy the pre-made. It’s on sale this time of year and I think I paid $.99 per pound. You can buy a 5lbs bag of maseca for a couple of bucks and you can use it for other things.

Here’s what you need for tamales

  • Masa
  • chile verde filling
  • corn husks or foil to wrap tamales (if you use corn husks you’ll need to soak them in hot water for about 90minutes to soften them up so they’re easier to work with
  • A large deep pot with a lid so you can steam the tamales

Here’s a video to show you how to make masa followed by another video demonstrating how to fill, roll and tie the tamales.

And remember the next time your tia, abuela or co-worker is sharing their tamales know that a lot of time, love and work went into them.

*Northgate also sells sweet masa for sweet tamales as well as Guatemalan style masa. I’m partial to the Anaheim Northgate off of Lincoln and State College. Its huge and I can do all my shopping there as well as finding Latin Caribe spices and brands i.e. Goya.

Editorial comment. I receive no compensation from Northgate…but I love them

Easy Curried Chicken Salad


Curried Chicken Salad tucked into a pita with romaine lettuce

I don’t know about you, but my work life is getting pretty hectic and will probably continue to be until the end of the year so the next few posts will be pretty quick and easy recipes.

This week I’m making a curried chicken salad, which revisits one of the first posts on the blog. This blog was originally started as a requirement for a class on Social Media (yep, you get college credit for learning how to use the social medias).  One of the assignments was to make a BuzzFeed Style listicle. I chose to make my listicle about the best sandwiches (in the world ever!) The assignment gave me a chance (read excuse) to eat/make/photograph all my favorite sandwiches. Let’s pause for a moment of wistfulness and feeling nostalgic for a time when life was arguably less complicated when I was trying to juggle home-life, studio art classes with a full load of credits and working part-time.

Anyway, one of the nice things about this salad is that you can use leftover chicken (or turkey this will be great post Thanksgiving to use up leftover turkey and crudite) and the other ingredients are optional but you probably have them in your fridge and pantry.  Nuts and celery add a nice crunch for texture and raisins, grapes, dated or dried fruit of your choice and some carrots will add a nice bit of sweetness. I used Jamaican style curry seasoning but you could just as easily use a chili powder or five-spice powder to change the flavor profile if you’re not into curry. Feel free to experiment (it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t follow my recipe and well I’d never know either way).  I usually keep it simple and enjoy the salad with crackers or on a sweet roll but you could easily serve it over a bed of mixed dressed greens or between two slices of your favorite bread.


2 cups shredded or cubed chicken

2 carrots peeled and diced

1 stalk of celery diced

2 scallions chopped

¼ cup diced red onion

¼ cup dried fruit like raisins, dates, mango, cranberries or fresh sliced grapes

¼ nuts or seeds

1 TBS prepared brown mustard or dijon

½ cup mayonnaise

1 TBS curry seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized mixing bowl mix the curry, mustard and mayonnaise until everything is well blended. Then add the nuts/seeds, carrots, onions, celery and fruit and mix until everything has been coated with the dressing. Now just add the chicken and mix. Enjoy…

Fig Bacon and Goat Cheese Flatbread

Store bought flatbread is dressed up with fresh sliced figs, crumbled bacon and goat cheese then drizzled with a honey balsamic syrup for sweetness

This is a really quick and easy lunch idea borne from our excess of figs and uses things you may already have in your fridge and pantry.  I took a couple of store bought flatbreads, brushed them with bacon fat and baked on a cookie sheet with a wire rack in a preheated 400F oven for 2-3 minutes. I removed them from the oven then topped them with sliced figs, crumbled bacon and goat cheese. I put the flatbread back in the oven for 3-5 minutes until the goat cheese starts to melt and brown. I removed them from the oven then drizzled with a honey and balsamic syrup which was 2 parts honey to 1 part balsamic vinegar. Then I cut it into 1-2″ wide strips for serving. If you’re thinking of this for a lunch idea then I’d add a simple spinach or arugula and goat cheese salad with a drizzle of the honey balsamic syrup for dressing. Quick and easy…


2 store bought flatbreads

2 TBS bacon grease (melted)

¼ crumbled goat cheese/feta or blue cheese

¼ crumbled cooked bacon

2 tsp of honey

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Salad Days (some assembly required)

boiled eggs, olive, fingerling potatoes, green beans, shallots, tuna and tomatoes make up this salad

Its another hot one here in Southern California, which puts me in the mood for some lighter food and given the richness of last weeks duck tacos a few salad days might do me some good. Keeping with the Mediterranean theme that was discussed a few posts back, Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna seemed like a good way to make use of some of the freshly ripened tomatoes from our garden and produce that we’ve received this past week from Imperfect Produce. My local Sprouts has a decent selection of frozen sustainably caught fish and we try to keep some tuna and salmon in the freezer for leaner, lighter protein options.

Salad Niçois is a composed salad with greens, olives (usually Niçois), scallions, tomatoes and boiled eggs with either anchovies or tuna and dressed with olive oil. Sometime back in the 30s recipes started to appear for Salad Niçois with boiled potatoes and green beans. Which I’ve added to my version as well.  Putting the salad together involved a little bit of chopping, making the vinaigrette and searing the tuna. I used some leftover fried fingerling potatoes and then boiled eggs for about 6 minutes. During the last few minutes of the eggs boiling, I tossed in some chopped green beans along with a teaspoon of salt to blanch. Then I drained the eggs and green beans and put them into ice cold water to stop the cooking. After a few minutes, I drained the water and added more cold water.

Salad Niçois with Seared Tuna 

(serves 2)

6 cups cleaned and chopped greens ( we had hearts of romaine so that’s what I used)

2 scallions chopped

1 cup sliced and cooked fingerling potatoes

⅓ cup olives

2 tomatoes cut into quarters

2 boiled eggs

½ cup cooked chopped green beans

2 4-6 oz tuna steaks

salt and pepper

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dried oregano

1 TBS olive oil

lemon juice

4 TBS Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

To start, put the garlic clove, salt and pepper, oregano and lemon juice into a mortar and pestle and crush together until a paste forms.  Put into a  zip top freezer bag and then add the olive oil. Place the tuna steaks into the bag and rub with the marinade until all sides of the tuna are coved and set aside.  Lightly dress the tomatoes, green beans and potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette and let sit while you sear off the tuna. Using a dry non stick skillet on medium high (or on the grill if you have a wire grilling basket), sear the tuna. Don’t try to move the tuna around, when its sufficiently seared it should easily come off the pan to flip on a gas flame this is usually after about 2 minutes. Sear the other. side for about a minute if you prefer your tuna medium rare. Remove from heat and let rest on a cutting board. Assemble the salad either on individual plates or in a large bowl and dress the greens with the remaining dressing. Slice the tuna and add to the salad and serve.



1 part cider vinegar

2 parts extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

Juice of ½ a lemon

½ tsp anchovy paste or 1 anchovy filet

1 crushed garlic clove

1 tsp mayonaise

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp peppercorns

½ tsp dried oregano

In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic, oregano and salt together until a past forms. Then move to a small bowl and whisk with all the other ingredients until everything is well combined.


Ahi Poke (pronounced poh-keh)

Authentically traditional, Ahi Poke with ogo, alaea salt, kukui nut, onions, scallions and sesame oil.

So a few weeks back there were several reports about a midwest company that does business under the name Aloha Poke, trying to enforce their trademark of the phrase Aloha Poke. There was a bit of an inter-web brouhaha because this same midwest company, sent cease and desist notices to Native Hawaiians that use variations of the phrase aloha and poke for their food related business. You can read more about this story here. There are a couple of petition which you can check out here and here.

I did my ranting and raving about the gall of that company and their profiting off of the cultural appropriation of Hawaiian Culture a few days ago, So I won’t rehash that here. Though the issue has made me realize that many of you may not know what authentic poke (pronounced po-keh) is or how to make it. ‘Cause the stuff they sell at places like Aloha Poke is not authentic.

At its core, poke was a way to preserve the day’s catch before refrigeration was available and it put to use things that were in abundance like salt, seaweed and kukui (also called candlenuts) nut oil and meat. Ogo which is a dark reddish brown thread-like seaweed as well as alaea salt are used. Alaea salt is sea salt that’s been mixed with red volcanic clay. Chopped kukui nuts are roasted and then salted to make inamona. Alaea salt is then added to the inamona and is the seasoning for the poke. Since kukui nuts are hard to find here on the mainland, my local Tokyo Central sells both Noh Brand and Ohana Flavors brand poke seasoning*, which is basically ground up kukui nuts and Alaea salt (and sometimes furikake and red chili flakes). They also sell dried ogo. Here’s the recipe:


1 lb sashimi grade fish or tofu cut into 1/2″ cubes

1 TBS Poke Seasoning* (see above)

1/4 cup chopped scallions

1/4 thinly sliced sweet onion

2 TBS sesame oil

2 TBS chopped and rehydrated ogo

Combine the fish, scallions, onions, ago and oil in a bowl and slowly add the poke seasoning. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors marry.

You can eat poke over cooked rice (sticky white rice ideally), with crackers or if you really want to get authentic, with poi. There are other varieties of poke out there, but this particular one predates the arrival of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans workers who brought soy sauce, salmon and rice to Hawaii.

Shoyu Poke

1 lb fish or tofu

¼ cup chopped scallions

¼ cup thinly sliced sweet onions

2 TBS sesame oil

1 TBS shoyu

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds or sprinkle of furikake rice seasoning

pinch of alaea salt

1 tsp brown sugar or honey

1 tsp garlic chili paste (optional)

In a bowl, mix the shoyu, sesame oil, salt and sugar/honey until both the salt and sugar/honey are dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Shoyu Poke with tako cucumber and avocado and wonton chips


Spring Rolls and light summer time fare……

It’s been crazy hot and humid in NJ these past several days. I’ve been thinking of some light dinner and lunch options. First up, are fresh Spring Rolls. I made them using left over rotisserie chicken and arugula for a little peppery bite. I just took the chicken and shredded it into a bowl then added about 1 TBS of prepared hoisin sauce. The rice noodles, are soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes then drained and cooked in boiling water for 3 minutes. They are drained again then rinsed in cold water, drained and allowed to cool.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Spring rolls are fairly easy to make, you just cut up the ingredients that you want to use, then wrap them in Spring Roll Wrappers. I like to take a dinner plate and put about ½ cup of warm water on the bottom of the plate. I take a dried spring roll wrapper, dip the edge into the water then rotate the wrapper until the entire wrapper has been coated with water. I let the excess water drip off, then I’ll place the damp wrapper on a plate. Place my ingredients in a pile on the edge close to me. Then I’ll roll it once, then fold in the sides and roll to the end of the wrapper. I repeat this process until I”m out of ingredients.

You can also fry the spring roll wrappers. I minced about ¼ lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp, then placed it into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. I added a clove of garlic that was finely minced, a nickel sized, piece of peeled ginger, minced, the white and green of a scallion, 1 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of corn starch. I mixed all the ingredients together and refrigerated for about 30 minutes. Once the shrimp is chilled, wet the spring roll wrappers as above and then fill with 1 TBS of the shrimp filling. Fry at 350ºF in small batches until golden brown. Serve with lettuce leaves and herbs like cilantro, thai basil and mint. They’re also served with cold rice noodle salad.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Both types of Spring Rolls are traditionally served with Nuoc Cham.

Nuoc Cham
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves of garlic mashed
1 thai red chili
3 TBS of Vietnamese Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam)
½ cup water (I’ve also used coconut soda)
2 TBS of molasses or dark corn syrup

Mix all the ingredients together until the molasses dissolves. You can store this in a container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

And here are the finished spring rolls.

Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Here is Rice Noodle Salad with bbq beef and fried shrimp spring rolls with Nuoc Cham Dressing. The rice noodle salad employs the prep once use twice method. The veggies, herbs and rice noodles were prepped for making the fresh Spring Rolls earlier in the day. The bbq beef is left over from the banh mi sandwiches that we had last night.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls  and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls
and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.


A recent photo essay on the Huffington Post placed Bibimbap 13th in a list of 25 Foods You Have to Eat Before You Die. Though I disagree with the position that Bibimbap came in. I think it should have been in the top 5, I whole-heartedly agree that you should try Korean cuisine’s answer to comfort food.



Bibimbap is basically a rice dish served with a variety of stir fried vegetables, grilled beef like bulgogi, sweet tangy chili sauce then topped off with raw egg. The western variation is usually served with a fried egg. This is a fantastic way to use up vegetables or extend leftovers and change them up into a different meal. Popular vegetables are, spinach or similar green, zucchini, fiddle heads, beans sprouts, julienned cucumbers. The version pictured above has spinach, julienned carrots, julienned yellow squash, julienned shitaki mushrooms, marinated skirt steak and cucumber kimchee.

The Bulgogi marinade can be used for any protein, its especially good on Kalbi (Short Ribs) and chicken.

Bulgogi Marinade
1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
1TBS Sesame oil
1 bunch of scallions chopped
¼ cup natural style apple sauce or 1 grated Asian Pear
2 cloves of garlic finely minced or grated
1″ finger of ginger. Peeled and grated
1tsp toasted sesame seeds
1tsp chili powder (ghochutgaru) or sriracchia
¼ cup honey or agave syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a zip top bag. Add the meat and marinade in the fridge up to 3 days.

The veggies are prepared the following way…
Julienne then sauté in a very hot wok in 1TBS of sesame oil, along with some minced garlic and ginger and a dash of soy.

To assemble, put a large scoop of steamed rice in a warm bowl. Place the fried egg in the center and then the chili paste. Arrange the meat and veggies around the egg.

There’s also a variation called dolsot bibimbap. Which is served in a heated clay or steal bowl. The heat from the bowl fries the bottom of the rice to give it a wonderfully nutty flavor and crunchy texture. You can simulate that texture and nuttiness by frying the steamed rice for a few minutes in some sesame oil.

Roasted Pork Belly Bao with Cucumber Kimchee and Carrot Slaw

Roasted Pork Belly Bao with Carrot Slaw and Cucumber Kimchee

Roasted Pork Belly Bao with Carrot Slaw and Cucumber Kimchee

This sandwich may take first place from the Banh Mi in my Top 10 Best Sandwiches post. There’s a few steps involved in making the bao. But they aren’t particularly complicated and the pay off is worth it. Bao buns are available in the freezer section in most Asian Markets. You can substitute Chili paste like sambal oleek or use red serranos if gochu jang isn’t available in your area.

Quick Cucumber Kimchee
2 to 3 small pickling cucumbers sliced thinly
1 TBS salt
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS fish sauce
1 head of garlic crushed into paste
1 small bunch of scallions chopped
3 TBS Red Pepper Paste (gochu jang)
or Korean Chili Powder (gochu galu)
1 red Chinese Long Pepper or Thai chili

In a large bowl, place the sliced cucumbers and add the salt. Toss the cucumbers so that the salt and sugar is dispersed throughout the cucumber slices and let set for about 30 minutes. In a food processor, add the garlic, scallions, pepper paste, chili and blend into a paste. Set aside a couple tablespoons of the paste to use for the sauce for the pork belly and dressing for the slaw. Drain the liquid from the cucumbers and rinse several times in clean water to rinse off the excess salt and sugar. Add the fish sauce, sugar and chili/garlic mixture. Toss the cucumbers with the chili paste and fish sauce. Put into a container and refrigerate at for at least 2 hours before serving. This hasn’t had an opportunity to ferment like other kimchees, so is probably good for a week max.

Pork Belly
1 LB Pork Belly
1 TBS Five Spice Powder
3 TBS salt
1 tsp white pepper ½ tsp salt
1 Head of garlic split in half
1 cinnamon stick
2 Inch of fresh ginger crushed

Cut the pork belly into 2 inch sections and score the skin. Add the pork belly, cinnamon stick, garlic, ginger and salt to a large stock pot. Fill with water until the pork belly is completely covered. Bring to a boil and let boil for 15 minutes. Drain the pork belly into a colander and allow to dry.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Mix the five spice powder with the white pepper and ½ tsp of salt. Arrange the pork belly in a single layer on a foil line baking sheet (one with sides otherwise you’ll have pork fat all over your oven) and dust with the five spice mixture. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Brush the pork belly with the glaze and turn the oven down to 250ºF, cook for 15 minutes and glaze again.

Glaze for the Pork Belly
2 TBS of the garlic chili paste from above
1 TBS Rice Wine Vinegar
2 TBS honey
1 TBS Soy Sauce
¼ cup brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside 1 TBS to use for the slaw dressing.

Carrot Scallion Slaw
1 Large Carrot grated
1 scallions shredded
2 TBS Toasted and crushed peanuts
3 or 4 julienned mint leaves
3 or 4 julienned thai basil leaves
Mix together in a bowl and dress.

1 TBS of the Pork Belly Glaze
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp lime juice

Whisk together until well incorporated and toss with the slaw.