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Lemon Panna Cotta with Hood Strawberries and Fairy Floss

For father’s day, I made a very simple summer time dessert utilizing two of my favorite flavors, lemon and strawberries. It was the combination of two basic pastry components, Pierre Herme’s delicious lemon curd and a basic panna cotta recipe enhanced with a touch of zested lemon. I wanted to share this quick recipe with everyone. Sometimes simplicity is hard to beat.

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Fava Beans, Three Ways

Fava Beans: The oldest and most loved harbinger of spring.

Since time immortal, favas have been appreciated for their buttery texture and nutty flavor. They have appeared on tables across the globe from Egypt to Mexico, and all point between. The tendency may be to complicate with elaborate recipes, but true lovers know they are best appreciated eaten simply.

Here are three simple recipes for you to savor favas this spring.

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Six Pizza Pies: week three of the Saturday Family Meal

It seemed like only yesterday that the ink was drying on my last post and I had to start the next one. This project may very well end up killing me. I am a slow writer with a busy schedule and a small child. Anyone who does not have a child will never fully understand what the word “busy” actually means. I laugh out loud when younger, single friends tell me how busy they are with all the bars they have to go to and tv shows they need to watch. Try weaving in the curve balls parenthood throws you from time to time.

Portland’s week long ice storm ended as abruptly as it started and spring emerged victorious. With the demise of winter, so ended the season of heavy eating punctuated by the artery clogging big guns of French cooking and all the holiday classics. It’s fortunate because my belt did not have a wider notch to go to. My next move would have been similar to Homer Simpsons when he bought a mumu and decided to embrace obesity. My palate was looking forward to spring and a rebirth of lightness punctuated with bright, colorful splashes of flavor.

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Provenance

Provenance (from the French provenir, “to come from”), is the chronology of the ownership, custody or location of an object. – Wiki

We live in a time where being a great cook is simply not enough. Our clientele has become more knowledgeable and is always thirsting for more. We demand to know the provenance of our food. Its origin story. We crave the connection to the land and water from where we came. My favorite author, Antoine de Saint Exupery once wrote: “The joy of living, I say, was summed up for me in the remembered sensation of that burning and aromatic swallow, that mixture of milk and coffee and bread by which men hold communion with tranquil pastures, exotic plantations, and golden harvests, communion with earth.” These stories breathe life into our existence and onto our plates. They nourish our wild souls. Edward Abbey said “We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it.” It is a bridge to our wild ancestral past. The more advanced we get, the further from our origins we walk. Having this provenance, this golden communion, provides meaning and soul to our citified life. We may never walk in the woods picking wild boletes (cepes, porcinis) but we can enjoy them and reconnect to ourselves.

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Bistecca

Good full red. Captivating aromas of ripe red cherry, mocha and violet complicated by an herbal nuance. Sweet, dense and juicy in the mouth, displaying bright flavors of dark cherry, flowers and spices. Finishes very smooth, savory and spicy, with outstanding energy and focus and plenty of early appeal. This complex, multilayered wine strikes me as the best I have ever tasted from Feudi del Pisciotto.

93 points Ian D’Agata, Vinous Media

Cerasuolo. If I had to use one word to fully describe Paolo Panerai’s excellent wine ‘Giambattista Valli’ that would be it. Cerasuolo means cherry like. This wine is so chock full with bright cherry, pomegranate and strawberry flavors I had to wonder if my wife didn’t swap the wine with fresh cherry juice to fool me….

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Pasta alle Vongole

Founded by Russ Raney in 1986, Evesham Wood is based on the idea that small is beautiful. To maintain a high level of quality, we rely on two basic principles: obtaining optimally ripe low-yield fruit from the best possible sites in the Willamette Valley, and using minimal intervention in the winemaking process. That approach is alive and well today, and is evident in every bottle we produce. – Winemaker/Owner Erin Nuccio

The Evesham Wood 2014 ‘Blanc de Puits Sec’ was a wine I had a preconceived notion about. When I looked at the label I fixated on it being a Gewurztraminer rather than the beautiful, dry Pinot Gris it is, or at least mostly is. In addition to the 85% Pinot Gris, there is about 15% Gewürztraminer and a smattering of Kerner, Rieslaner, Traminer and Pinot Blanc blended in. One deep smell of bright jasmine tea, roses and honeysuckle and I knew I was holding a winner….

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Ricotta Fritters, A Savory Tale of Sweetness

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” ~ Willie Nelson

I apologize for apparently having fallen off the edge of the Earth for the past month or so. I returned from the Alsace Wine Festival and jumped directly into an overloaded frying pan that included an intense business trip to Japan checking out wagyu farms and a full-on company rebranding. As a consequence, I have had little time to think, let alone write so I am sharing two quick ricotta fritter recipes that are easy to make and taste amazing….

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Zucchini Blossoms

I saw some amazing Zucchini Blossoms at the Farmer’s Market and made stuffed them with a spicy ricotta mixture then baked them in a Tomato Sauce for a petite goutte. A small nibble to carry me through the end of the day proofing. I needed a break so I wrote down how I make these yummy treats.

I am in the middle of multiple intense moments finishing my first cookbook entitled ‘Cuisine of the Sun’ and editing my Kickstarter campaign starting next week.  It has been an amazing and wild ride that never could have been accomplished without the love, support and hard work of my wife Lisa. The downside to looking at food, thinking of food, photographing food is that I get super hungry and start to drool. My mind wanders and I begin to crave things.

(edit: the book is done and available here).

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Cannelloni, Easy Cooking with Kids

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Beau and Daddy cooking together

As a recovering Chef and loving father I have serious reservations about my four year old’s aspirations to cook. On one hand, nothing could be more flattering then to have my son take an interest in what I did for 25 years and follow in my footsteps. As much as I have joked, I love cooking and thoroughly enjoyed my time in some of the best kitchens of the country. I made lots of great friends, learned a lot about different cultures and got to see the world one kitchen at a time. On the other hand, nothing can be scarier than to hand a small child, prone to being a small child, razor sharp implements. My dog has permanently crawled into a kitchen cupboard, completely unable to comprehend the madness unfolding around her. Sometimes I question my own sanity.

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Pizza, Pizza

Pizza Pizza 06

Pizza cooking in a wood burning oven

Anyone who knows me well enough quickly realizes somewhere along the way a few Italian chromosomes must have taken a big swim in my gene pool because I absolutely adore the rustic Italian cuisine too much for it to be coincidence. As a professional Chef, I had the good fortune to work with an amazing Woodstone wood burning oven complete with a four ton stone which provided some of the most reliable, even heat imaginable. Pizza making at home presents a challenge because it is hard to maintain consistent high heat in order to get the crust right.  A lot of pizzaiolos like higher temperatures around 800 degrees, but I always prefer lower temperatures in the 600 to 700 range.  The problem at home is most household stoves only heat to 550 degrees.  But fear not, I have perfected a method so that you can make perfect pizzas every time. …

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Spaghetti AOP

Pasta con la Bottarga

Pasta con la Bottarga

Hello, my name is Francois and I am addicted to pasta.  I love pasta in all it’s shapes and guises, whether it’s the bowl of ricotta cavatelli with pork cheek ragu I had for lunch yesterday or the Kung Op Wun Sen (Shrimp and crunchy Pork Belly with Glass Noodles baked in a clay pot) I made for dinner just a few short hours later….

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Taming the Beast with Ricotta Cavatelli

Today was a real watershed moment in my relationship with three year old son Beaumont. About two weeks ago we started bonding while cooking together at a small bed and breakfast on the Puget Sound. I was preparing food for an audition of a big TV show I am praying to get on and Beau was sitting on the counter, mimicking my every move.  Each time I added an ingredient he would ask for the same thing then add it to his creation….

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Panigacci: Ligurian layered Pasta with Pesto

 

In my researching interesting pasta dishes for a restaurant I worked at, I came across this dish in Carol Field’s excellent book “In Nonna’s Kitchen”.  I was taken by the rustic simplicity that I had to try it right away.  I made it first for my sous chef Keith Schneider and dining room manager Frederic Watson.  All of us were consumed by the simple flavors of basil married with tomato married with the soft pasta layers.  I tried finding references in other Italian books and couldn’t really find much.  The only other reference to it was a form of ancient flat bread baked directly in the hot coals of a fire….

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Italian Cooking Class

 

1

Watermelon and Tomato Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Chef François de Mélogue
Serves: 4
with Piquillo Sorbet, Parmesan Tuile
Ingredients
  • 1 small                         Watermelon, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick, cut into circles
  • 1 each                         Yellow Tomatoes, peeled, sliced ½ inch thick, cut into circles
  • 1 each                         Red Tomatoes, peeled, sliced ½ inch thick, cut into circles
  • 1 each                         Green or Black Tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick, cut into circles
  • 2 T.                               fruity Olive Oil
  • 1 T.                               Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 c.                              Reggiano Parmesan, finely grated
  • [br]Piquillo Sorbet
  • 1 T.                               Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 each                         Shallots, rough sliced
  • 28 oz. can                  Piquillo Peppers
  • 1 cup                           Simple Syrup
  • 1 t.                               Fleur de Sel
  • 1 T.                               Aleppo Pepper, or Espelette Pepper
  • 1 each                         Lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 T.                               fresh Thyme, chopped
Instructions
  1. Sauté shallots in olive oil.
  2. Mix shallots, Piquillo peppers, simple syrup, fleur de sel, Aleppo pepper, lemon juice and fresh thyme and puree in a blender.
  3. Freeze in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Reserve.
  4. Put small mounds of parmesan on a sil baking sheet and bake till melted, bubbly and lightly brown.  Let cool for a few seconds, then pick up and lay over a wine bottle.  Allow to cool fully retaining a rounded tile shape.
  5. Cut watermelon and tomatoes.
  6. Arrange tomato and watermelon circles on chilled plates.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill till you are ready to eat.
  8. [br]At Dinner Time:
  9. Drizzle with fruity olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season with fleur de sel and black pepper.  Put a scoop of pipérade sorbet in the center and top with a parmesan tuile.
Notes
Nature is the perfect Chef. Things that grow in the same region, in the same season tend to go well together, especially fruits.  The watermelon and tomato combo may sound odd but it will be an epicurean epiphany once you try it.  It is so refreshing and easy to make and perfect for your next Desert dinner party.[br][br]Try adding fresh mozzarella and basil or creamy Feta cheese.  They go amazingly well with watermelon and tomato.  Next time you make gazpacho add watermelon![br][br]Wine Notes[br][br]Dry rosés pair unusually well with summer produce. Rosés usually have wonderful watermelon flavors that do nothing but complement the flavors in the salad.  I would suggest a more robust rosé or perhaps a chilled light bodied red wine, such as a Gamay Noir.

 

 2

Gauzzetto of Wild Salmon, Mussels and Shrimp
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Chef François de Mélogue
Light Tuscan Seafood Stew
Ingredients
  • 2 oz.                             Olive Oil
  • 2 medium                    Carrots, peeled, sliced
  • 1 each                         Leek, cleaned, diced
  • 1 rib                             Celery, peeled, diced
  • 2 cloves                       Garlic, mashed
  • Pinch                           Saffron
  • 2 t.                               fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 T.                               Flour
  • 1 c.                              White Wine
  • 4 cups                          Fish Stock
  • 1 each                         Tomato, diced
  • ½ c.                             Tomato Sauce
  • Four – 4 oz. pieces        Wild Salmon
  • 24 each                       Mussels
  • 12 each                       Shrimp
  • 4 sliced                        Crostini
  • 1 T.                               chopped Parsley
Instructions
  1. [br]Mise en Place (before your party)
  2. Sauté carrots, leeks and celery in olive oil for about five minutes, or until tender.
  3. Add garlic and saffron and continue cooking till the aroma permeates the air and causes you to drool.
  4. Sprinkle flour and thyme and stir into vegetables.
  5. Deglaze with white wine and fish stock.  Bring to a boil and let simmer.
  6. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Check seasoning.  Chill.  Reserve.
  7. [br]Fire (when your guests are seated)
  8. Bring Gauzzetto to a boil.  Add seafood.  Cook about five minutes, or until seafood is cooked.  Spoon into four warmed bowls, garnish with chopped parsley and a crostini then enjoy!
Notes
Chef Notes[br][br]Leave the flour out if you are gluten intolerant.  The flour simply adds a bit of body.  Try adding a touch of chopped anchovy instead of salt.  The anchovies give it a more authentic flavor.  Try finishing with a splash of brandy.  Most importantly, use whatever seafood is absolutely freshest.  Remember recipes are simply guidelines rather than firm unbendable laws.  Cooking for family and friends is one of the best ways to express love and friendship.[br][br]’Whoever receives friends and does not participate[br][br]in the preparation of their meal does not deserve to have friends.'[br][br] [br][br]- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin[br][br]Wine Notes[br][br] [br][br]Ah, the age old question, white or red with fish?  Old wisdom would dictate a white but I think a light bodied red would work as well.  For white wines I would suggest a Viognier, Gewurztraminer or any other white varietal that has a touch of residual sugar to counterbalance the acidity in tomatoes and spice in the broth.  For reds, try a light Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sangiovese or Grenache.  Salmon and Pinot is always a fantastic combination.  If you can’t decide then default to Champagne.  Champagne goes with everything!

 

3 

Pistachio, Polenta and Olive Oil Cake
Recipe Type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Chef François de Mélogue
Vanilla Ice Cream, Silk Road Cherries
Ingredients
  • [br]Pistachio Cake:
  • 50 grams fine Polenta
  • 200 grams ground Pistachios
  • 50 grams Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 125 ml. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 100 grams Butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 each Eggs
  • 200 grams Sugar
  • 1 each Lemon, zested
  • 1 each Orange, juiced
  • [br]Silk Road Cherries
  • 250 grams Cherries, pitted
  • 25 grams Butter
  • 75 grams Sugar
  • 25 grams Pistachios, ground
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • Pinch Nutmeg
  • 1each Vanilla Bean, split and scraped
Instructions
  1. [br]Mise en Place (before your party)
  2. Mix polenta, pistachio flour, flour and baking powder together.
  3. Mix extra virgin olive oil and melted butter.
  4. Beat eggs and sugar till pale.
  5. Mix eggs into olive oil.
  6. Add wet to dry.
  7. Add lemon zest and orange juice.
  8. Butter and paper four – 4 ounce ramekins.
  9. Pour batter in and bake at 300 degrees till done, about ten minutes. Reserve.
  10. Melt sugar and butter together. Cook to light caramel.
  11. Add spices, vanilla, pistachio and cherries. Cook till liquid again. Reserve.
  12. [br]Fire (when your guests are seated)
  13. Unmold a pistachio cake unto a ten inch plate. Top with cherries, drizzle sauce around and garnish with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Notes
You will have extra everything in this recipe. It is so good you probably won’t mind that fact. The batter for the pistachio cakes is better made one or two days ahead.

 

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