Fresh Uni Ceviche in San Diego- Hillcrest Farmers Market

Uni sea urchin cevicheWhat an awesome Farmers Market!  I have to hand it to San Diego moving right up the list to one of my favorite places to be.  The farmers markets are awesome.  What a find at Hillcrest Farmers market. Fresh sea urchins cracked open right there and made ceviche style!  Shout out to the guys at Poppa’s Fresh Seafood Company you’re awesome.

Simple & Easy Italian-Style Celery Salad

I was watching the Barefoot Contessa this morning and she was making an Italian inspired meal which included a celery salad.  Her recipe although I am sure is very good seemed a little more complicated then the one I make –as do most celery salad recipes (too many ingredients overpower the delicateness of the main ingredients in my opinion) so I thought I’d post my recipe here today.

Italian Style Celery Salad with Parmesan                                                                            4-6 servings

  • One medium to large bunch thinly sliced celery including the tender leaves, sliced on an angle (approx. 5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup  freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • Fleur-de-sel sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 + ounces aged Parmesan cheese shaved

Put the sliced celery and coarsely  chopped (you still want to have the leaf form somewhat) leaves in a mixing bowl.  Add the lemon juice, olive oil, about 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese.  Toss together and taste.  Now add the  salt ( if you don’t have fleur-de-sel sea salt you can substitute any sea salt or even kosher salt)  and pepper to taste.

Put the salad in either a serving bowl or in individual serving cups/ bowls (I sometimes like to put this salad in a martini glass or a fancy ice cream cup) and sprinkle the balance of the shaved Parmesan and a few more cranks of the pepper mill on top.  That’s it.  Simple and easy celery salad fresh and delicious.

 

 

Crudo Restaurant Review- A Hidden Backstreet Gem With Serious Good Eats

Crudo Restaruant and Bar CrudoI have finally found a restaurant in Arizona that leaves me thinking–even dreaming about what I ate and drank weeks after having a meal there.  I am not suggesting that there aren’t others out there but in the 10 years that I’ve returned to live in Phoenix / Scottsdale area, Crudo— chef / owner Cullen Campbell‘s creation– is the first I can say…”Don’t talk to me while I’m eating this because it is so good that I have to savor every single second of this bite.” Hint* squid ink risotto– see below.

From the moment you approach Crudo you get hit with the aroma of the wood buring grill…that warmth and comforting smell that immediately hits your senses and opens your appetite for the gifts you are about to receive. As you walk up the few steps to the foyer you get transended to a place resembling a restaurant on one of the small side streets in Venice, California–an open, clean, airy feeling that is soothing and refreshing.

To the left is the entrance to Bar Crudo owned by Micah Olson where the magic begins with the perfect concoctions of various libations reinvented and newly created by serious mixologists.  Watching them make your drink whether it be from their drink menu or a new concoction made just for you it’s like watching a live performance of a great chef preparing a special treat– brings back a time when making drinks was an art not just a job.  These guys know their stuff and just wait until you taste what’s been created for you.  In our case it was the perfect start to ‘a foodie’ experience…

The Crudo dinner menu is comprised of small to medium portioned food creations broken down in to four main categories- Crudo/Raw, Mozza/Mozzarella, Cotto/Cooked, Griglia/Grilled in addition there is also Lati/Sides and Dolce/Desserts.  Chef Cullen Campbell also offers a Corso option which allows the patron to choose from 3, 4 or 5 courses from the menu at a prix-fixe for each of the three options.  The wine list is not too big but the selections are very nice.  Since we were not familiar with some of the wines on the list we asked for recommendations which were excellent choices each time and paired very well with our meal.  We especially liked the ‘wine-on-tap’ concept served in a carafe type vessel.  On to the food…

Although I enjoyed all the menu items we ordered,  below were my favorites:

Any of the Crudo’s – Delicate ‘Italian Style’ sashimi so cleverly put together with an array of quality condiments.  Whether it be black garlic, smoked olives or a hint of truffle oil they are Albacore Crudospectacular.  Albacore – Ultra-fresh thin slices of albacore with julienned apples, small pieces of black garlic all drizzled with truffle oil.

Butterfish- Thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth butterfish with plumped up oven dried tomato pieces (a real treat), lardo andmicro arugula which adds just the right amount of bite– seasoned just right.

Ricotta- Fresh ricotta with the oh-so yum plumped up dried tomato (plump, moist, tangy, Ricotta Mozzanaturally sweet yet savory, rich tomato morsels) dressed perfectly with a nice olive oil, a chiffonade of basil and gracefully seasoned with salt and pepper and a few slices of wood-fired grilled crusty bread.  This mozza is so delicate, light and creamy and all the embellishments to the dish don’t in any way detract from the star of the show…the Ricotta they merely act as an enhancement.

Burrata –This burrata is decadent in it;s own right and dressed with a pancetta vinaigrette that cut the richness factor in a way that makes it melt away in your mouth leaving you craving the next bite and just the right amount of arugula to cleanse the palette. Also accompanied with slices of the wood-fired bread.  Serious good eats.

Mushroom – An assortment of in-season mushrooms made in a ‘gratin style’ with mozzarella and topped with a sunny-side up egg and drizzled with truffle oil.  I always say if you can add an egg to a dish unexpectedly and make it work well– that’s what separates the men from the boys so to speak.  Mission accomplished!

For me the pièce de résistance was the Squid ink Risotto. Tender creamy squid ink risottoSquid Ink Risotto at Crudo with pieces of “almost like” tuna confit , roasted tomatoes and pickled chilis that gives it a nice spicy kick.  This one is like pure heaven.  Just close your eyes, stop talking and just savor every single bite.

As for the Desserts they are generally made by Tracey Demsey Originals and the tarte I had on the first visit was very good.  On my next visit chef Campbell made a breading pudding and panne cotta combination that was fabulous.

In closing my husband said that my review might sound too subjective and that everything I wrote was favorable.  My response was “why shouldn’t I sing its’ praises if I have nothing bad to say?”  Crudo is a must-go-to restaurant from the first moment you walk in you will have an evening to remember at this backstreet gem.

Crudo
3603 E. Indian School Road Phoenix
602-358-8666
crudoaz.com

Brussel Sprout Slaw

Made this quick little brussel sprout slaw recipe on-the-fly today for lunch.  Served it with a Brussel Sprout Slaw / Saladsmall hot crusty loaf La Brea Bakery bread and nicely aged room temperature Bijou Crottin goat cheese from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery.  It was worth noting…

Served 1 (me)

1 cup of baby brussel sprouts slice very thin (chiffonade)
1  tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil  (add more or less to your taste)
a small handful of freshly shaved parmesan
juice of 1/2 small lemon
pinch of fleur-de-sel (sea salt)
a few grinds of the pepper mill

Toss it all together and enjoy…crisp and refreshing.

Grilled Garlic & Herb Chicken Dinner At Home

Grilled Garlic Rosemary Chicken Dinner At HomeSimple dinner at home.  On the menu:

  • Grilled Garlic Rosemary and Oregano Chicken
  • Roasted Tomatoes
  • Corn On The Cob
  • Butter Lettuce with Balsamic Vinegar & Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Dressing

Quick Garlic & Herb Marinade
The quantity for the recipe below will make enough to marinate meat to serve 4 to 6 people–in this case 4 to 5 large boneless chicken breasts.  I used this marinade on the chicken but it’s great on pork as well.

Note: Only use fresh garlic–not jarred, powder, etc and fresh herbs for this marinade.  Don’t have it….make something else.

6 large cloves garlic crushed
1/4 cup finely minced fresh rosemary
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh oregano
zest of 1/2 of a medium size lemon ( can add zest of whole lemon depending on you personal taste)
Juice of the whole lemon
1 1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (not hot)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a gallon size zip-lock bag and mixed together.  Add the meat–chicken or pork that has been patted dry with a paper towel–and zip up the bag removing as much air as possible.  Massage the marinade and the meat so that it is fully coated and lay flat.  Refrigerate and let marinate anywhere from 1 hour to 12 hours flipping the flattened bag over occasionally.  This meat can be cooked on the grill, broiler or in a pan–if cooking in the pan make sure that your start with a hot pan to brown and sear in the juices then lower the heat and cover to cook all the way through.