A Simple Soup

Snow, hail and hurricanes on the East Coast--here in California, it's another perfect day. I harvested a few tomatoes from last year's plants and the collard greens then pulled up the plants, turned the soil and started my spring planting: tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, beans, potatoes and chard. A second crop was ready of the English peas planted at the beginning of January--so what to do with the collard greens and peas? I made this simple soup with quinoa, and wanting some protein, stirred in an egg. Delicious!
Soup With Quinoa, Green and Fresh English Peas:

1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup quinoa
1 stalk celery, deveined and sliced
1 quart vegetable (or chicken) broth
about 2 cups of chiffonaded* collard greens
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon garlic powder
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 egg, stirred together
Melt the butter in a soup pot over low heat and stir in the quinoa and celery.  Add the broth and bay leaf, turn up the heat to bring the broth almost to a boil, then turn back down to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the greens are tender. Add the sage, garlic powder, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). When the soup is seasoned to your liking, stir in the egg. Cook and stir gently for a minute until the egg is cooked.


Foodies' Delight

Hyatt Century CityThe gleaming Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City has hosted kings, queens, prime ministers, celebrities and every US President since Lyndon Johnson. In fact, President Reagan spent so much time in the hotel that the press called it "The Western White House". Last Wednesday, the 18th, it was the site of the 2012 Herzog International Food & Wine Festival. The preliminary trade event is THE place to be for Kosher wine buyers with makers from Israel, France, Spain, Australia, Portugal, Italy, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and the USA, with two booths needed for the wide variety of wines made by Herzog Cellars. The consumer portion is an opportunity to taste wines and spirits often not widely available, not just for those that keep Kosher, but for those of us who are not Jewish but like to taste wines from around the world.
Food at Herzog International Food and Wine FestivalLast year, the Festival was at Herzog's state-of-the-art 77,000 square foot facility in Oxnard, CA. Incongruously set in an industrial park in a city not known for gourmet dining, the facility houses the extraordinary Tierra Sur restaurant, the highest Zagat-rated restaurant in Ventura Country. Chef Aarons has long and varied international resume, including Savoy in New York, Zuni Café in San Francisco and Restaurante Da Delfina in Tuscany, Italy. Chef Aarons creates exotic and mouthwatering cuisine with a Mediterranean flair, from fresh local seasonal produce. At last year's festival he had his own kitchen as the event was at Herzog Cellars. This year, he had to build his own kitchen at the Hyatt location. He looked a bit harried and called the experience "like a Restaurant Impossible" but one would never have guessed at any hinderance to his culinary creation because the food was delicious and beautifully presented.
AppetizersI spent so much of my time sampling the fabulous hors d'oevres that I didn't taste as many wines as I should have. But who could resist the lavish spread with multiple offerings such as hot smoked salmon with black garlic sauce, black cod ceviche in Lapsong tea marinade with Mandarin orange and cucumber, tuna tartar with Za'atar spice (Middle Eastern herbs with sesame seed) pickled eggplant and microcelery, cold smoked hamachi with baby beets and Myer lemon aioli, and Jerusalem artichoke tortillas with salmon roe and black bowfin caviar? To top it off, I had the huckleberry compote and sips of two delicious dessert drinks: the Walders Vodka & Vanilla mixed with pineapple juice and the limoncello from the Israeli winery Binyamina.
Herzog International Food & Wine FestivalAs for the wines, I had the Chateau Leoville Poyferre stuck in my mind from the 2011 Herzog Festival----so I made a beeline to their booth to try the Bordeaux. I tasted the 94 point 2004 last year and thought the 93 point 2005 just as luxuriously complex, smoky and rich. Next stop was Capçanes, made by the eponymous village in the Priorato hills of Spain where the grape growers formed a cooperative, producing about 2% of their wines under Kosher conditions. They have become world renown, garnering high ratings of 90+ points. Touring & Tasting had the Mas Donis Barrica at one time--a spicy, fruit-forward Garnacha with a bit of Syrah. I enjoyed the 95 Point Peraj Ha'abib which is a powerful blend of Garnacha, Carinena and Cabernet Sauvignon. The name Peraj Ha'abib was a fortunate mistake--a rabbi translated spring flower erroneously as Peraj Ha'abib, instead of Peraj Ha'aviv. But Ha'abib means is a term of endearment, so it gives the wine a loving touch. Other highlights: Herzog's dense and chocolately 2008 Chalk Hill Cab, the Domain Netofa 2009 Latour Red blend of Syrah and Mourvedre, and the Chilean Alfasi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Herzog International Food & Wine FestivalWe scooted out of the trade tasting just in time as motorcycle cops were starting to line the Avenue of the Stars in advance of President Obama's motorcade. I'll be keeping a lookout on the Herzog website for upcoming food and wine pairing events at their restaurant to taste more of Chef Aarons tasty treats and sample more of the Herzog wines--some only available at the winery. I haven't been to one of their wine and food pairing evenings, but see on their events calendar that past tastings are just $15--worth making the drive to Oxnard!
Photos by Shannon Jordan Photography.


Authentic Teriyaki

Restaurant teriyaki is usually made (I've never seen otherwise) by grilling meat and pouring sauce over it. This authentic recipe uses the pan juice from the meat to flavor the teriyaki and is infinitely better. You can use chicken or salmon as well--the chicken must be cooked through and not rare inside and the salmon just barely cooked in the center (it will continue cooking after it is taken from the heat).
Tama's Steak Teriyaki:
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon garlic
2 tablespoons Mirin* (Japanese cooking wine)
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons. soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 steak
4 tablespoons saké*
*Note: Mirin and saké are not the same--Mirin is sweet with just a touch of alcohol, saké is very dry and has a high alcohol content)
Mix the ginger, garlic, Mirin, sugar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Heat oil in a large frying pan (cast iron works best) over medium heat until oil is hot but not smoking.

Add steak and sear on both side. Add the sake (there may be quite a bit of smoke/steam) and let cook for half a minutes as the alcohol burns off. Remove the steak and let sit. Add the soy sauce mixture and evaporate by half, scraping up any browned bits into the sauce. When the sauce is thickened, turn the heat to low and cook the steak another 2-3 minutes, turning several times to coat it on all sides. The steak should be seared on the outside and rare in the center. Let the meat sit for 2 minutes to redistribute the internal juices, then slice into 1/2" slices. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top.

I've been so busy uploading recipes to Touring and Tasting' new website, after being named Food Editor (yay!) and posting to their blog that I haven't had time to enter anything here.

I like having a food blog because I have so many of my recipes on it and can access it via smartphone or computer if I need.

There's so much to learning about baking--scaling, proper proofing, benching, rounding, use of steam...I hope to have to to blog about it this week. In our last class, we made monkey bread--easy to make and it was appreciated at the Touring and Tasting office when I brought it in the next day. It's basically round, sweet rolls covered in brown sugar and cinnamon and baked until the sugar is caramelized. Next time I make it, I will add walnuts to the coating.

Monkey Bread:
4 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup powdered milk
31/4 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons active yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3 1/4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cups to 1 3/4 cup cold water
1 cup or more sugar
1/2 cup or more cinnamon
Mix the flour, salt, powdered milk, sugar and yeast in a mixer bowl.  Add the egg, butter and 1 1/2 cups water and mix with the paddle attachment of your mixer or with a large spoon until the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. Add water in bits only if the dough doesn't come together. The dough should be soft and moist.
Replace the paddle with a dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (or knead by hand on a lightly floured board). The dough should clear the sides of the mixture but stick just a bit on the bottom of the bowl. It should pass the "windowpane test" where it a small portion can be stretched to where one can see shapes behind it, without the dough tearing.
Oil the bowl and turn the dough around in it to coat with oil. Let proof for 1 1/2 to 2 hours in warm area or until it doubles in size.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Using a scale, scale out 2 oz portions. Always cut the dough with a bench scraper or chef's knife--do not tear apart. Round each portion into a ball and roll in melted butter, then in the sugar mixture. Put into an ungreased savarin or angel food cake pan. The portions will form a ring when proofed and baked, but each will be easy to pull off. Let the monkey bread rise for another 45 minutes, then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the bread is cooked through and the outside is nicely browned. Let sit a few minutes too cool as the sugar will be hot--it will be hard to let them sit, because they will smell wonderful!