Kale with Seaweed and Ginger Recipe

December 10th, 2010

How to cook Lacinato Kale

I have been experimenting with cooking Kale for a few years now and keep finding it to be one of my favorite green vegetables for side dishes, salads or even stand along dishes like the suddenly popping up everywhere kale chips that are in every health store in town these days. This bitter green seems to be much less common than other standard salad or side counterparts like spinach, arugula or Swiss chard, but is extremely versatile and is very easy to make.

One of my favorite ways to cook Kale is simply boiling it in water with a dash of vinegar and a pinch of salt for no more than 4-5 minutes, as in this kale and seaweed recipe below. Then you can dress it up more or less with anything you like from simple oil and lemon to nuts, chili flakes or anything that you might enjoy.

Kale with seaweed and ginger


1 Bunch of Lacinato Kale

1 Tablespoon of dry Seaweed

few slices of pickled or fresh ginger

Tablespoon of sesame oil

Juice of ½ Meyer Lemon

Optional: Sesame seeds, Chili flakes

Take a tablespoon of dry seaweed, put it in a cup and reconstitute it by pouring boiling hot water over it. Let it stand for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a 3-4 qt saucepan bring ½ of a pot of water to boil. Add a dash of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar and add Kale. Boil no longer than 4-5 minutes. Drain in the colander, making sure there is no access water left.  Add reconstituted seaweed and thinly sliced ginger on top and squeeze lemon juice over kale and dress with sesame oil. Additionally, you can sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and / or chili flakes over this dish.

Tips & Tricks:

Do not overcook Kale – it will turn rubbery and chewy as well as loose its’ color. You need to use a dash of vinegar in your water and dress with lemon first to prevent kale from discoloration.

You can get dry seaweed in Whole Foods or any local Japanese store. You don’t have to use seaweed – skip it altogether and use olive oil instead of sesame.

I usually serve this for dinner with pan-roasted halibut, salmon or other fish and seafood. It also works very well as a side to a slice of pizza


Red Quinoa Salad

June 15th, 2010

How to Cook Quinoa

Cook quinoa as instructed on the package or:

Combine 1 cup red quinoa & 2 cups water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until water absorbs.



Black beans ¼ can

3 springs of freshly chopped mint

½ cup of feta cheese

¼ cup of chopped green or kalamata olives

1 – 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

1 tbsp of freshly chopped dill or green fennel

½ tsp salt

Pepper to taste

Let the quinoa cool for just a few minutes. Toss all the ingredients together with quinoa and season well with salt, pepper or a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with flaky white fish like cod or halibut, chicken or a vegetarian course.

Tips & Tricks:

Watch out for salt and add it slowly – both olives and feta cheese are salty and will add flavor to quinoa salad once they are mixed in.

Add a splash of olive oil or balsamic vinegar or both to the salad – experiment with flavors and herbs you like.


Cooking Pan Roasted Halibut w/ Zucchini Crudo, Cous Cous and Swiss Chard

May 29th, 2010

Cooking with Carl Mindling

I met a fellow foodie Carl Mindling at our favorite wedding networking event – Martini Madness – that a friend and a great San Francisco wedding coordinator Duncan Reyes puts together. My wife Lisa Whalen is a San Francisco wedding photographer and we frequently go to wedding professionals networking events together, and through these events have met a number of individuals who truly appreciate the “art” of entertaining, and share my love of all things food & wine related.

I was immediately intrigued when Carl Mindling approached me a few months ago about an idea of creating dinner parties together. I love cooking and I love collaborating with others and immediately saw so much creative potential in this idea.

So after we picked our dinner date (May 15th) and invited some of our friends we shortly started brainstorming ideas about what to cook and the theme of the dinner. I volunteered to cook fish and host the party at my place (which later I decided to move to my great friend Robin’s house – THANK YOU,  Robin!!)

I love cooking fish – as most of my close friends know I am a huge sushi fan, and some of my favorite meals have centered around yummy slabs of salmon or tuna… But for this dinner I wanted to cook a less fatty, sleeker white fish. First I thought I would make a sea bass with beurre blanc, but once I got to the store I realized that wild halibut was fresh and in season. So I picked out eight great fillets for eight great friends whose company I really enjoy.

I shortly realized that I never really cooked halibut the way I envisioned it done for this dinner party. I’ve  made a few good recipes before including Halibut with Cabbage and Shitake Mushrooms and Halibut crusted with herbs and nuts, but I really wanted to make something new – something that would be exciting for me as well as for my guests. So a few days before our dinner I experimented and just took a few of my favorite flavors and tried to imagine what would put a Mediterranean twist to cooking this fish. And here we are:

Pan Roasted Halibut

Pan Roasted Halibut


Combine in a bowl:

3 tbsp Olive Oil

Juice of 1 Lemon

1 tsp of Capers

Chopped Mint

½ Thin sliced Jalapeno

2 Rosemary twigs

2 tsp of white balsamic vinegar

½ tsp honey

Salt & pepper to taste

To Do’s

I marinated the fish in this dressing for a few hours.

First time I made this fish I enclosed it in parchment paper and baked it to perfection for 12 minutes. But for our dinner, I wanted more of a classic presentation, so I first seared the fish in a dash of oil on one side to get a golden crust, then finished it in the oven on a bed of fresh fennel. I enjoyed the more tangy flavors of jalapeno and capers working together with the earthy rosemary and the bright and fresh mint. Carl made perfect cous-cous to go along the fish, which we put on a bed of simply boiled (about five minutes) swiss-chard.

Here are a few more pictures from our dinner:

Cous Cous by Carl Mindling

Cous Cous by Carl Mindling

Zucchini with olives and mint

Zucchini with olives and mint

Tomato, Olives and Mozzarella Skewers by Carl Mindling

Tomato, Olives and Mozzarella Skewers by Carl Mindling

Tips & Tricks:

Before searing the fish, make sure to remove it from the sauce and pat it dry. Fish must be dry when it hits the pan, otherwise it won’t sear.

Make sure the pan is perfectly preheated; otherwise the fish will stick to the pan. I used my All-Clad copper-core saute pan to really control the temperature, and not overcook the fish so I could get a crispier edge. Cast iron skillets will give a slightly moister but equally great feel to the fish. Please spare the fish and your guests the torture of non-stick pans!

Sear on just one side for 3-5 minutes and bake at 450 for 7-8 minutes, its better to undercook, then overcook the fish.

I use grape seed oil for searing because it has least flavor of all oils, has one of highest heat indexes and doesn’t flavor the fish too much (as it will occur with olive oil)

Swiss-Chard: Boil water, add teaspoon on salt and add chard. Boil for 5 minutes, remove, drain access water and season with a splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice, a dash of olive oil, salt pepper.


Zucchini Fritters with Cheese

February 20th, 2010

I came across a version of these fritters in one of the Italian cook books I have at the house and gave it a try primarily because it seemed like a quick, fun recipe to make and I had all the ingredients on hand. (Which is basically just zucchini and cheese!) I came up with a sauce for it, which to me made this already perfect dish even better. Over the past few months I have been playing around with it, adding this and that, substituting things and trying to perfect it. Here is one of the best variations I came up with. These are perfect as appetizers, party food or just snacks.

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Method: Sauté, pan fry


2 eggs

½ cup flour

½ cup breadcrumbs (panko or Japanese breadcrumbs seem to work best)

1-2 Tbsp Parsley

2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

3 Tbsp fresh Ricotta cheese

2 Medium Zucchini

Salt and pepper


2 Tbsp Mayo

1 ½ Tbsp Sour Cream (you can skip that and add more mayo instead)

2 tsp light mustard

1 tsp curry

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp paprika

1 tsp capers

Dash of hot sauce

Few teaspoons of cream or milk to make a sauce thinner (if needed)

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add flour, parsley and breadcrumbs and mix well. Add cheeses and mix. Then shred zucchini (with a hand shredder) and keep mixing until your batter is smooth and well integrated. Add a dash of baking powder (optional) and let rest for about 15 – 20 minutes or longer.

Preheat a sauté pan or a fry pan on medium or medium high heat until hot and add some Canola oil to it. You want a decent amount (2 -3 tbsp or so) enough to cover the pan. Using a tablespoon shape fritter dough into small round portions and lower into the hot pan and sauté on one side for 3-4 minutes, then 2-3 minutes on the other side. You should have a nice dark golden sear on each side. Serve hot with the sauce as an appetizer or just finger food.

Tips & Tricks:

I use Trader Joe’s sweet and sour mustard – it seems perfect because it’s light, flavorful and doesn’t overpower the sauce. Don’t add strong mustard here: skip completely if needed.

For crying-out-loud, don’t flip these back and forth – I hate to see people do that to food. When you sear something you let it develop a crust (a sear) by leaving it alone and letting brown in the pan. If you fear burning, lift up one side lightly to check and flip if done.

Cookware: Cast iron skillet for moister fritters or heavy gauge stainless steel for a crisper seared edge. Both are good just a slightly different result.

I always add a little cream / milk to delude the thickness of the sauce. But you definitely don’t want to add too much. Play around with it to see what works best for you.

Variations: For a sharper, stronger taste add some blue cheese or Gorgonzola instead of ricotta. Feta cheese will work beautifully as well. I recently made these with a mixture of Gruyere and cheddar and really liked the chewier and “cheesier” feel of those cheeses. Play around with herbs and other ingredients. Adding sautéed jalapenos (you have to sauté those first, otherwise they will be too crunchy) yielded a really good result. Try coriander, curry, paprika and other spices.


Cooking Halibut with Cabbage and Shitake Mushrooms, in Parchment Paper.

October 29th, 2009


I will say it right off the bat –  the original dish is from the menu of one of my favorite hang-out spots in Carmel, CA, called Flying Fish Grill. If you live on the west coast – get your ass there NOW (make a reservation before you go – this ain’t Olive Garden) It is a spectacularly unique seafood place with an Asian twist, an interior and décor as unique as the menu and a fabulous local wine list. Flying Fish cooks this a bit differently than I do (sauce, etc)  – so try their fish if you can, as it is simply outstanding!  (my recipe is an interpretation of the original, so if you have an opportunity to try the real deal, go for it)


The reason I decided to play around with their recipe in the first place is because I had never cooked halibut before. For over 30 years I thought I was allergic to white fish and recently discovered I actually no longer am. So, in short, I needed to test a few things out about halibut before experimenting with my own recipes: cooking time, temperature, texture, sauce ideas and oiliness of the fish. I wanted to work off of a recipe I knew I liked and that “worked” before plunging into my own improvisations. In fact, my  #1 piece of advice for entertaining guests is this: never cook something for guests you’ve never cooked before. It’s a sure way to make an ass out of yourself.


Halibut is a very firm, lean, large flake fish with practically no specific scent other than the freshness of the sea (provided you know how to buy fish!) It is in fact ideal for any sauce you can imagine, since it easily absorbs flavor. Since trying this out, I’ve experimented with many more variations of roasted or broiled halibut with pesto, preserved lemon, simple soy, ginger and chilly or just nuts and herbs.  


Halibut Cooked in Parchment Paper

Halibut Cooked in Parchment Paper


 2 lb Pacific Halibut, cut into 1/2lb filets

¼ head of cabbage

shitake mushrooms (2 per filet)

Soy sauce, dash or rice vinegar

Fresh Ginger minced

Sesame oil

Salt, Pepper

Few chilly flakes or Japanese pepper


Parchment Paper

Method: Bake / Broil

Cookware: Oven, Pizza Stone or Cookie sheet

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Sauce: Combine 3 tbsp soy sauce, a ¼ tsp of minced ginger, dash of vinegar and a dash of sesame oil & chilly flakes, season with pepper.

Wash filets, pat dry and salt generously with salt. Set aside in  fridge for up to 3 hours, pull out about 30 minutes before you start cooking. First thing you gotta do is get the parchment paper ready: Take a large square of paper and cut a heart shape about 3 times larger than the fish filets. Fold the sheet in half. Take a teaspoon of sauce and smear a small amount (about the size of the filet) on one side of the folded parchment paper. Cut cabbage into 2 inch slices & slice the shitake mushrooms. Arrange cabbage in a square, mimicking the shape of the filet, then add shitakes and finally the fish. Top with a few dashes of sauce. Fold second half of the parchment paper over the cabbage, mushroom and fish stacks and roll up the edges around the heart, (starting at the bottom of the “heart”) until you have a semi-circular looking shape to the parchment. Repeat with the rest of your fish and place parchment packages on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Cook the fish for 10 minutes at 500 degrees for a perfectly cooked filet. Do not overcook; texture of the fish must be soft and creamy inside.


Serve with Asian style cole slaw, wild rice or noodles, or just a simple vegetable stir fry.


Tips & Tricks:


The most important thing about fish is avoiding overcooking: simply cook less time than you estimate. In my experience,  10-12 minutes for a 2” thick filet of halibut or salmon yields the best results.


Selecting fish: I buy my fish on farmers markets (my #1 preference) or Whole Foods (my #2 preference), unless I detour to Half Moon Bay or a real fish market. My experience with conventional supermarkets is: you just can’t trust them. Sometimes the fish is good, sometimes it’s not. If you decide to go via the Safeway route ask to smell the halibut – it should smell like ‘nothing.’


Zucchini & Jalapeno Cornbread

July 12th, 2009

I love cornbread for its’ versatility, simplicity, all around party applicability, and its’ ridiculous ease of preparation. In fact if you don’t know how to bake or cook, cornbread is just the thing for you to prepare. Got a large bowl and too little time? You can make it! Just toss all that stuff in the bowl, mix it up, and let it stand a few minutes. Next, pour the mixture into a heavy cast iron skillet (my personal preference) or a earthenware dish and throw it in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. That’s easy right? No? You can try the sawdust special in your local grocery store instead, but … I will stick to this one.




1 & ¼ cups of all-purpose flour

1 & ¼ cups of polenta or cornmeal

Pinch of salt

3 large tablespoons of sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs beaten

2 teaspoons of melted butter

1 & ¼ cups milk

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

2-3 medium or 1 super large zucchini

1 or ½ cup Jalapeno (depending on how spicy you prefer)

¼ cup of roasted pine nuts

Method: Bake

Cookware: Cast Iron Skillet (10 in)

Cut zucchini into small cubes and sauté with a pinch of salt and pepper in cast-iron skillet until golden brown. Set aside.

In large metal bowl combine flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, baking powder and mix well. Slowly add milk, beaten eggs and butter and keep mixing with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and elastic looking. Add ¾ cups of cheese and cooked zucchini and mix it up.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Preheat lightly oiled cast-iron skillet and pour in the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top and return to oven for another 5 minutes. Cool and serve. And there you have it – cornbread. Yep, it’s THAT easy.