Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cherries in Red Wine


Cherry season is well under way here in San Diego, and the farmers' market has been selling wonderful juicy bing cherries for over a month now. The season in San Diego lasts for several months starting in mid-late May, so now is the time to buy them at their best.

As the cherry season is short in most areas, preserving them is a great way to prolong the season, and they can be used in sweet and savory dishes. This recipe for cherries in red wine can be done safely using a hot water canner, as the cherries have high acidity, as do the wine and orange juice. You will need 4 Ball or Kerr pint jars, together with lids and bands to make this recipe. Alternatively, if you do not wish to hot water can the fruit, simply make the recipe and refrigerate the fruit, but use within 2-3 days.

Recipe for Cherries in Red Wine
Ingredients (makes 4 pints)
  • 2 quarts red wine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 24 whole cloves
  • 16 3-inch strips orange zest
  • 4 pounds Bing cherries, pitted (about 8 cups)
Recipe
  1. Place the wine, sugar, orange juice, cloves, and orange zest in a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Have ready 4 scalded pit jars and their bands (to scald, dip the jars in boiling water. You don't need to sterilize the jars, as you will be processing them for more than 10 mins).
  3. Simmer new lids in a small pan of hot water to soften the rubberized flange.
  4. Add the cherries to the wine, simmer for 10 minutes, until they are soft but not collapsed.
  5. Remove the cherries with a slotted spoon, and ladle them into the hot jars.
  6. Reduce the wine mixture to about half its volume.
  7. Strain the wine mixture, and pour over the cherries in jars, leaving 1/2 to 3/4 inch headspace.
  8. Wipe the rims, set on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.
  9. Place the jars in a big pot with a rack in the bottom and add enough water to cover he jars by 3 inches.
  10. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and gently boil the jars for 20 minutes.
  11. Turn off the heat, allow the jars to rest in the water for 5 minutes, and then remove.
  12. Allow the jars to cool, untouched, for4 to 6 hours.
  13. Check the seals, and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Refrigerate after opening.
This fruit is amazing drizzled over pound cake, cheesecake, or served in tall glasses with whipped cream, ice cream, or yogurt. It makes an elegant dessert in minutes, and looks stunning with the dark fruit.

It can also be served with savory dishes, if you heat it first. More recipes can be found alongside this one in the book, Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone, a great book for anyone interested in home canning.



Monday, June 28, 2010

Growing Grapevines from the Mercato


As Gourmet Fusion is a vendor at the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays on Date Street, San Diego, I am often able to go and see what some of the other vendors are offering for sale. This week I was talking to Lissy Keily with Maness Vineyards about growing grapevines in San Diego, and could not resist buying some to try out.

Maness Vineyards of Jamul is selling a selection of grapevines at the Mercato for you to grow at home yourself and are happy to give you information about growing the vines, the wine these grapes produce, and the tours and products offered at their winery.

I live by the coast and have a container garden with many different kinds of plants which thrive all year round, but as every gardener knows, there are also the plants that simply don't make it, so I am keen to see what happens to these three plants.

The vines we chose were Nebbiolo (red), Sauvingon Blanc, and a red Zinfandel. I planted them on Sunday and am trying to find a sunny spot for them, as they like plenty of sun, but also like cool evenings, so the marine climate by the beach may work. Grapevines also like a climate that has more sunny days than rain, so that is not a problem in San Diego county. They apparently don't need a lot of water (also good), and according to the Sunset Western Garden book the vine can grow unchecked for the first summer, and the more leaves the better. They are pretty small at the moment, just 12 - 18 inches tall, but I'll keep you posted on their progress.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mediterranean Olive Oils & Vinegars at Gourmet Fusion

The Gourmet Fusion store is now offering specialty olive oils and vinegars through its online store. These delicious oils and vinegars are perfect for summer salads, pasta, and grilling (the lemon oil is especially good with fish).

We have three types of Spanish extra virgin olive oil - mandarin orange, Spanish lemon, and rosemary, as well as a natural extra virgin olive oil.

Our two vinegars are a rich, dark Vindaro Rioja Balsamic vinegar, and a 12-year reserve Moscatel semi-sweet vinegar.


If you are looking for a simple salad that is a little different, this mixed spring greens salad takes minutes to make, and is sure to be a hit at any dinner party or barbecue.

To make the salad we used Mallafre Catalonian extra virgin olive oil pressed with mandarin oranges and the Sotaroni white Moscatel vinegar.


To make this delicious salad, all you need is:

1 packet of mixed green salad
1/2 can of small mandarin oranges
2 tablespoons Mallafre mandarin oil
1 tablespoon Sotaroni white Moscatel vinegar

Rinse and pat dry the mixed salad, and place in a salad bowl. Mix together the oil and vinegar and pour over the greens. Toss together to distribute the dressing, and place the mandarins on the top. Serve as a light main course, or as a side dish with crusty bread.








Friday, April 16, 2010

Ossobucco

Ossobucco, a northern dish, came to mind recently when I bought a new paperback by Stuart Woods the other day, as one of the main characters in his books, Stone Barrington, always asks for this dish when he visits his favorite Italian restaurant.

in Italian literally means "bone with a hole", and consists of slowly cooked veal shank which is cooked until tender. It is often served with risotto or pasta, but can also be served with fresh vegetables such as asparagus. This recipe includes carrots in the sauce, but these are optional.

Ossobucco Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 slices veal shank, each 1 1/2 inches thick, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups meat stock
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 2 small cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Method
  1. Spread the flour on a plate and dust the veal, tapping off the excess. In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the veal and cook on the first side until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  2. Turn the meat and add the onion, carrot and 1 crushed garlic clove to the pan, scattering it around the pieces of veal. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned on the second side about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, turning occasionally, until the meat is tender, 1 1/2 - 2 hours. (The dish can be prepared up to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. To continue, reheat gently over low heat for 20 minutes).
  4. Combine the parsley and remainder of the garlic on a cutting board and finely chop together. Transfer to a bowl, add the lemon zest, and toss together. Scatter the mixture of the veal. Baste the veal with the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer to a warmed serving dish or individual plates and serve at once with risotto, pasta or vegetables.

Pizzaiola Halibut

Pizzaiola is an Italian classic sauce which is often served with beef but works equally well with any firm such as, halibut, tuna or swordfish. La is made with tomatoes, garlic and oregano in olive oil, the same as a pizza sauce. The sauce is very easy to make and when served with fish makes a light and healthy summer meal. This recipe is from Antionio Carluccio's book, an Invitation to Italian Cooking.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 halibut steaks
  • 1 medium can tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pinches dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • flour for dusting
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method
  1. Dip the fish into the flour.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over a high flame.
  3. Fry the fish in the oil turning once until cooked through.
  4. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  5. Slice the garlic and add it to the olive oil, reduce the heat a little and almost immediately, before the garlic starts to brown, add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper.
  6. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, then return the fish to the sauce.
  7. Heat through for a further minute or two to allow the fish to soak up the flavor of the tomatoes before serving.
  8. Serve the fish with the sauce with a green side salad and crusty bread.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Braciole

If you are looking for a tasty meal, and feel like making something more adventurous than Spaghetti Bolognese, is a great alternative. Braciole is stuffed beef rolls in a marinara sauce. It takes a little time to prepare, but it is well worth the effort.

The recipe below serves four, and the rolls can be made several hours ahead of time, and kept in the refrigerator, so that you are not rushing around when your dinner guests arrive.

Ingredients
  • 4 thin slices of round steak
  • 4 slices prosciutto ham
  • 1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated romano
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups canned Italian tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 tablespoons flat-leaved (Italian) parsley, minced
Method
  1. If your supermarket has a butcher, ask him to pound the slices of steak, otherwise, you will need to do this yourself. They need to be quite thin in order to roll properly.
  2. Blend breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, parsley, oregano and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place a slice of prossciutto on top of each steak, then spread one fourth of the breadcrumb mixture in the center of each slice, roll it up, tuck in the endss and tie with thread.
  4. Heat olive oil in a heavy casserole, and brown the meat rolls on all sides.
  5. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine and half a cup of stock, bring to the boil.
  6. Cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Add more stock if necessary.
  8. When the meat is tender, season the sauce with salt and pepper, and serve with pasta such as penne, or rigatoni.

Jambalaya

This weekend I decided to make , as it is a dish I have not made for some time. Jambalaya is a Creole dish found in many different forms in the southern states of America and in Central America. The dish contains pepper and chillies which gives it its hotness, and often the fleshy oysters found in the Gulf of Mexico are included. These are shelled and arranged over the rice a few minutes before the dish is cooked, so that they solidify, but remain fleshy.

However, when I arrived at the supermarket for the ingredients, not everything was available, so some improvising was necessary. Stone crab claws could not be found anywhere (not even frozen), but here in California we had an abundance of Alaskan King Crab legs, so I used these instead, chopped into approximately 3-inch lengths, resulting in a slightly more sweet flavor which contrasted well with the pepper and tangy lime flavors. The recipe below gives the original recipe, but feel free to substitute seafood and pork flavors with whatever you have available locally.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 2 medium green peppers
  • 18 oz tomatoes
  • 4 oz boiled ham
  • 8 oz large shrimp, shelled
  • 4 crab claws (Stone or Common crab)
  • 4 rashers rindless smoked bacon
  • 3 oz onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 7 oz long grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • sprig of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon balm
  • 1 chili, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
  • chicken stock to cover
Method
  1. Dry fry the diced bacon, and then lightly fry the onions in the bacon fat, over a moderate heat. Add the crushed garlic and finally the diced peppers. Simmer the vegetable mixture for about 5 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the onion transparent.
  2. Sprinkle in the rice, and stir until it is transparent and beginning to swell. Add the salt, pepper, thyme and lemon balm.
  3. Marinate the finely chopped chili in the lime juice for 10 minutes before adding it to the other ingredients in the pan. Make sure that the chili is well distributed throughout the dish.
  4. Stir in the ham and tomatoes. Pour on the chicken stock and cook oer a high heat for 5 minutes. Then fold in the prawns, crab claws. Set the oven at moderate (180 C, 350 F, gas 4). Place the pan in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes.
This recipe was found in the book Shellfish by Anton Mosimann and Holger Hoffman.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Like most people, I am constantly looking for quick and easy meals to make in the evening, and this is ideal. It is great because most of the ingredients are things you can keep on hand in dried form or canned, so it can be made quickly without the need to go shopping.

Ingredients (Serves 4)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 chopped anchovy fillets in olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon of the oil (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups canned whole plum tomatoes, chopped with juice
  • 1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • 12 oz dried spaghetti or other strand pasta
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, minced
Method
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. In a large frying pan over low heat, warm the oil and garlic until fragrant but not colored, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the and their oil, and cook, mashing them with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes.
  4. Raise the heat to medium and add the tomatoes and their juice, and the olives, , oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
  5. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.
  6. Season to taste with salt.
  7. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons salt and the pasta to the boiling water.
  8. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, according to the package directions.
  9. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
  10. Add the pasta to the sauce along with the parsley, tossing to combine.
  11. Add as much of the cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.
  12. Warm briefly over low heat to blend the flavors and serve.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Paella

I used to make this recipe in England, and now make it here in California with slightly different ingredients. If you do not know Paella, it is an everyday Spanish dish, and its ingredients vary greatly, but the nearer you are to the coast, the more seafood it will contain. As well as seafood, it also contains chicken and pork (even if in the form of sausage or ham).


Ingredients (serves 4)


1 lb clams (littlenecks are good)
1/2 lb shell on large shrimp
2 cooked boneless chicken breasts
2 mild italian or chorizo sausages
1 medium sized red pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion chopped
1 crushed garlic clove
12 oz bottled clam juice
1/2 glass dry white wine
10 oz long grain rice
Saffron threads (infused)
5 oz fresh or frozen peas (thawed)
Salt & pepper to taste
Lemon & parsley garnish


You can vary the ingredients by adding mussels, langostinos, or lobster and you can use ham or pork instead of sausage.

1. Prepare the shellfish. Wash the shrimp under running water, and scrub the clams and leave to soak to remove any sand (if they are particularly sandy, leave them for 5-6 hours).


2. Pour boiling water on the saffron threads and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes.

3. Chop the onion into small pieces, and crush the garlic.

4. Remove the seeds from the pepper and cut into strips.

5. Part cook the sausage in a frying pan with a little cold water for about 6 minutes. Remove from pan and leave for a few minutes to cool. Blot with a paper towel to remove excess fat and remove the skin with scissors. Cut the sausage into small pieces.

6. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the onion and crushed garlic until the onion is transparent. Add the part cooked sausage and fry over a high heat. Add the pepper to this mixture and cook for five minutes.

7. Add the cooked chicken and tomatoes. Cook gently for 2 minutes before adding the white wine, saffron liquid, and about half the clam juice. Stir well.

8. Stir in the rice, then bring the mixture to the boil.

9. Add the shrimp and the clams and stir well. Cook with the lid on for approx. 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked. Check frequently while cooking, as the rice absorbs the liquid quickly, so add more clam juice as needed.


10. Serve with lemon wedges and parsely garnish. Enjoy!

Ratatouille

If you are trying to think of a different way to cook summer vegetables, why not take a leaf out of Disney's book, and make ratatouille? Ratatouille is a vegetable stew from Provence in Southern France. It makes a colorful and delicious vegetable dish when all of the summer are relatively inexpensive. It can be served hot with grilled or roasted lamb or pork, or chilled with garlic bread as an appetizer. You might even get the kids to try some if you tell them it's called !

Ingredients
  • olive oil for frying
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed with 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced
  • 1 lb tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped, or 1 x 14 oz can tomatoes
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper
(serves 4 to 6)
  1. Heat 2 spoons of oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry until golden.
  3. Add the remaining vegetables, season well with black pepper and stir in enough water to come about half way up the mixture.
  4. Bring to the boil, stirring constantly, then lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. The vegetables should be broken down and soft, and the juices quite think.
  6. Adjust the seasoning and transfer to a hot serving dish, or cool and chill in the refrigerator.

Pasta with Simple Marinara Sauce

I have been asked many times what my favorite meal is, and despite the many elaborate, and sophisticated meals that I have eaten in restaurants, and painstakingly made myself, I always come back to basic Italian sauce and pasta.

I have sampled many different foods at the different food shows we attend but I am always reminded that the best food in the world is often the simplest. The beauty of this sauce is that it is quick and easy - anyone can make it, and it always tastes good. It is inexpensive, and you can make a huge batch and keep it in the refrigerator, or freeze it. You can use it in different ways - either use it as a simple sauce with , or add chicken, shrimp or other seafood, and serve it with a green salad, and crusty bread. So, in these difficult economic times, it is a nutritious and inexpensive meal to make - and kids love it, too!

Marinara Sauce (serves 6)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cups canned Italian tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets, mashed (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan, and saute onion and garlic until light golden.
  2. Add white wine.
  3. Stir in tomatoes, and all other ingredients.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Serve with spaghetti, or pasta of choice.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lemons and Limes


As the seasons change, different fruits and vegetables appear and disappear at the farmers market, depending on where you live. I took a look at the La Jolla Open Aire Market website, as they have a great list of all our seasonal fruits and vegetables, and noticed that we are lucky enough to have lemons and limes in season all year round.

This reminded me of a recent conversation I had with my father who still lives in England, who spent many weeks trying to find limes at the local stores, as he wanted to "experiment" making some lime marmalade. Admittedly, he lives in a very small country town, but even so, it made me realize what an amazing climate we have here in Southern California. Citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, not only add color and flavor to many dishes, but are a great source of vitamin C, essential to help boost our immune system.

The recipe below for Classic Lemon Bars appeared in a recent food network magazine, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

The lemon bars are simple to make using a food processor, and of course, take advantage of those super juicy lemons found at the farmers market all year round.

This recipe makes 24 bars.

Ingredients for the Crust
  • Vegetable oil for greasing pan
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Ingredients for the Filling
  • 4 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
Recipe
  1. Make the crust: Place the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan with vegetable oil and line with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Grease the foil with oil. Pulse the butter, flour, both sugars and the salt in a food processor until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. Press evenly into the bottom and about 1/-inch up the sides of the prepared pan, making sure there are no cracks. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling: Whisk the whole eggs and yolks, sugar and flour in a bowl until smooth. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 300 degrees. Pour the filling over the warm crust and return to the oven. Bake until the filling is just set, 30 to 35 minutes.
  3. Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack, then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Lift out of the pan using the foil and slice. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.



Colossal Grilled Shrimp

In Southern California, we are lucky enough to be able to grill outdoors practically all year round, but if grilling season is a long way off for you, this recipe can also be made indoors under the broiler.

If you are looking for something simple, that is still elegant enough to impress the most discerning of guests, try these grilled Colossal Shrimp. These large shrimp, often known as the Giant Tiger Prawns, are imported into the United States from the Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions. They are much bigger (usually between 6-13 inches in length) than other and retain their shape well during cooking. If you cannot find these in the stores, the Blue Shrimp, from the west coast of Mexico, makes a good alternative.

These were marinated in a simple lemon and olive oil marinade and served with a Greek salad and pita bread. The flavors of the marinade also go well with Italian style food, so you could serve them over angel hair pasta tossed in olive oil and garlic, with a green salad on the side. Either of these meals is very light and ideal for a hot summer evening.

Colossal Grilled Shrimp with Mediterranean Marinade (serves 4)
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 raw unpeeled Colossal Shrimp (use more if using a smaller shrimp)
Recipe
  1. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper in a glass bowl.
  2. If the shrimp are not already deveined, slit the back of the shrimp and remove the vein with a deveiner, rinse and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Add the shrimp to the marinade and toss to coat evenly.
  4. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes up to an hour.
  5. Remove from the marinade and grill over medium-hot coals until the shell is pink and the flesh opaque, depending on the size of the shrimp. The shrimp we used took 4 minutes each side to cook.
While the shrimp are cooking you can prepare a simple Greek salad using mixed spring greens, tomatoes, and cucumber tossed in olive oil and red wine vinegar (seasoned with a little salt if you like). Mix in a salad bowl and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and black olives. Serve with pita breads lightly grilled on both sides.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spaghetti with Chanterelles in White Wine


One of the nice things about being part of the Little Italy Farmers market is that you are able to buy some really great produce from the local vendors, and get cooking tips and techniques at the same time.

Last weekend we bought some chanterelles from the resident "mushroom man" at the Date Street, San Diego market, and he suggested we make a white wine reduction with shallots to bring out the full flavor of these hard to find wild mushrooms, so that's what we did.

Golden chanterelles taste earthy and smell fruity, and are one of the most sought after wild mushrooms. Because of their subtle flavor, they work extremely well in simple dishes like the pasta dish shown above, or soups, casseroles, risottos and stir fries, which help bring out the wonderful flavors.

Like all mushrooms they require careful cleaning, as dirt gets stuck inside the gills (much like leeks), so rinse them under cold water for a few minutes, then pat them dry on a paper towel.

They are prepared in much the same way as any other mushrooms, you cut off the rough end of the mushroom, and depending on the size of the chanterelles you have (they range from the size of cultivated button mushrooms to about 6 inches in width), you can either leave them whole, or slice them. The outer skin on the mushroom can also be removed, if you prefer.

This recipe makes a really light meal, and you can also add pancetta or bacon (sauteed with the shallots), and serve the pasta with a tossed green salad.

Spaghetti with Chanterelles (serves 2)
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small shallot (finely chopped)
  • 10 oz (approx) chanterelles
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 oz spaghetti
  • few sprigs fresh Italian parsley
Recipe
  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil for the pasta. Once boiled add the pasta and cook according to the instructions for al dente.
  2. In a large frying pan over a medium heat, warm the oil. Add the chanterelles and saute for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  3. Add the chopped shallots to the mushroom liquid, and saute for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the white wine to the onions and cook until most of the alcohol has evaporated, about 1 minute at a high heat.
  5. Return the chanterelles to the wine and onion mixture, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 2 minutes (the mushrooms should be just cooked but still tender).
  6. Drain the pasta and add the cooked pasta to the sauce, along with the Italian parsley.
  7. Add a little more olive oil, if needed, and toss to combine.
  8. Serve immediately and garnish with a sprig of parsley.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mugs on Sale at Gourmet Fusion


Now is a great time to shop at Gourmet Fusion online if you are looking for Easter and Mother's Day gifts.

All of our ceramic and glass mugs - including mug and coaster sets, like the cute little tabby shown here - are on sale through March 30th.



Why not combine a mug with one of our cast iron or ceramic infuser teapots, or one of our specialty teas, to make an extra special gift.

We always combine shipping, and are happy to gift wrap and answer any questions you may have to make your shopping experience simple and fun.

Check out our range of mugs, teapots and tea at the Gourmet Fusion store online, or in the Leaping Lotus, Solana Beach. (Sale items online only).



Friday, March 12, 2010

Wine to Lose Weight?

I am not quite sure how this works, but recent research has concluded that women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol tend to gain less weight over time than those who drink no alcohol. This included wine - both red and white, beer or liquor.

Research carried out at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston studied the alcohol consumption of over 19,000 women, all starting out at healthy weights. Over the 13 years taken to carry out this study, most women gained weight. However, those who consumed a light to moderate amount of alcohol gained less weight, and were less likely to become overweight or obese. The conclusion drawn from this was that those who drank moderate amounts of alcohol tend to eat less food, particularly carbohydrates.

The reaction to this article which was carried in USA Today appeared to be skeptical, at best, and I have to agree that a glass of wine for me usually means I need to bring out appetizers and snacks (see the picture), so it doesn't often lead me to eating less. I wonder if a similar study has been carried out with men?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spicy Italian Sausage Sauce with Penne


This is a variation on the traditional marinara pasta sauce, as it has the addition of hot Italian turkey sausages, and an abundance of colorful vegetables. The sweetness of the carrots and yellow pepper combines wonderfully with the hot peppery sausage.

You can use pork or turkey sausage, and both taste great. We chose turkey as it is the healthier option with less calories.

Ingredients
(serves 4)
  • 3 hot Italian sausages, skinned and sliced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3-4 small carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1/2 small yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons red wine
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil leaves for garnish (optional)
  • 8 oz dried penne
Method
  1. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and saute the crushed garlic. Add the tomatoes, dried oregano, dried basil, bay leaves, and red wine and bring to boil. Cook for 2 minutes at high heat. Reduce the heat and stir in the tomato paste, salt and pepper.
  2. Simmer the sauce for a further 6 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a pan of boiling water for the pasta, and add the dried penne. Cook according to the instructions (about 10 minutes for al dente).
4. Skin the sausages, and cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Heat the sausages in a pan, adding a little water, if necessary - no oil is usually needed with Italian sausages. Cook for 5-6 minutes.

5. Add the chopped onion, carrot, bell pepper and celery to the pan and cook with the sausage meat for a further 5 minutes - 6 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

6. Add the marinara sauce to the sausage and vegetable mixture, and heat through.

7. When the pasta is cooked drain, and add to the sauce mixture.

8. Serve immediately, and garnish with the fresh basil leaves.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gourmet Fusion's Mediterranean Diet

We at Gourmet Fusion have long been advocates of the Mediterranean diet - mainly because we love Mediterranean food, and most of the meals we cook at home have a Mediterranean influence. We also carry several types of virgin and extra virgin olive oil in the Gourmet Fusion store, and oil and vinegar dressings are always the first choice on our salads.

Many of us have read of the benefits of a diet rich in olive oil, whole grains, fish and fruit, because of its low cholesterol and benefit to a healthy heart, but a new study finds that such a diet may also protect aging brains from damage linked to cognitive problems.

The latest study was carried out at Columbia University Medical Center, New york City, and all of the participants, who averaged 80 years old, had no history of strokes, and had MRIs to look for brain infarcts - that is, tissues that have died because of reduced or cut-off blood supply (these infarcts are in fact strokes, but are so small that they escape notice).

The participants were divided into three groups - those who followed the the diet to a high degree, those who followed to a moderate extent, and those who followed very little at all during the previous six years. The people who strictly adhered to the Mediterranean diet had a 36 percent reduced risk of stroke compared with those who followed in the least.

Other studies have already found that this type of diet also lowers the risk for depression, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and premature death, and as it tastes so good anyway, it is probably something we should all consider including as part of a healthy lifestyle.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lobster Cocktail

I recently read a survey that said 79 percent of American people believe that Valentine's Day is romantic because they eat special food that they have prepared for, or with, someone special. It also found that 65 percent of those questioned were planning to celebrate Valentine's Day by cooking and sharing a romantic evening at home this year, rather than going out to eat in a restaurant.

With that in mind, I thought I would share this recipe that I have made many times over the years for special occasions, and its elegant simplicity has never failed to impress and delight our guests. The recipe uses lobster, which is expensive, and may be difficult to obtain in some areas, so the lobster could be replaced with large shrimp (fresh or frozen) with equally good results.

Ingredients
  • 1 lobster (about 1 1/2 lbs), boiled
  • 1 lettuce heart
  • 4oz mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon cognac, or brandy
  • 2 teaspoons lime or lemon juice
  • generous pinch of ground ginger
  • 12-15 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • salt to taste
  • 4 slices lime
  • 4 black olives
Method
  1. Shell and slice the lobster.
  2. Arrange the lettuce leaves in four glasses and top with the lobster slices.
  3. Beat the mayonnaise with the tomato puree, cognac or brandy, and lime or lemon juice.
  4. Season with ginger, Tabasco, paprika and salt.
  5. Stir in half the whipped cream.
  6. Pour the dressing over the lobster and garnish with the remaining cream, the lime and the olive.
To make sure this cocktail is a winner, choose to serve it in tall, elegant glasses.

You can prepare these cocktails ahead of time, and refrigerate for up to an hour, then simply add the remaining cream and garnishes just before serving.

To make the evening really special serve with champagne, or a dry white wine, and melba toasts or crispy bread.

This recipe, along with many other delicious shellfish recipes and cooking tips can be found in the amazing book, Shellfish, by award winning chef Anton Mosimann.












Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Strawberries at Little Italy's Mercato

One of the great things about living in San Diego's beautiful climate is that strawberry season starts at the end of January. How awesome is that? As Gourmet Fusion is a vendor at the local farmers' markets on Saturdays and Sundays, this means we have first pick of the freshest, tastiest food San Diego County has to offer.

At the Little Italy Mercato on Date Street, Kawano Farms of Oceanside is selling these juicy, field-fresh strawberries every Saturday morning. They are great to use in smoothies, desserts or just to snack on, and as well as their amazing taste, strawberries are full of goodness too, falling into the category of foods known as "super foods".

If you are looking for a yummy snack on super bowl Sunday, why not try this favorite that we published in our blog some time ago, but that proved to be so popular it is worth mentioning again.

This recipe is from "The Deen Brothers Cookbook", who if you didn't know, are Jamie and Bobby Deen, the sons of the Food Network's Paula Deen.

This simple, yet wonderful , makes use of the abundant at the farmers market (or supermarket) right now.

They make an elegant looking dessert as part of a buffet, or can be served at a fancy brunch or as part of a tray.

Ingredients
  • 32 whole large strawberries, hulled
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
Method
1. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut sides down, on a serving platter. Carefully, cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms. Fan the wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip, fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the stuffed strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Little Italy Mercato takes place every Saturday between 9 am and 1:30 pm on Date Street, San Diego, between India and Union Street.