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Recipes, inspirations, and more.
Blog
Recipes, inspirations, and more.

The Spice Series – Ginger

Ginger comes from a tropical perennial plant and the part that we actually use is the root!   Ginger holds a very powerful aroma that is sweet and soothing. Dried ginger or ginger  powder lacks the strong aroma but maintains the wonderful flavor.  Ginger is an  interesting spice in that its’ origin is unknown.

 

 

There are 2 ways to harvest ginger: dried or preserved. Here we will be talking about dried ginger. Usually with dried ginger the skin is removed to speed up the drying process, however in the spice trade there are 8 different grades of dried ginger and the different drying processes classify them.

 

 

Ginger is classified as one of the most versatile spices. It can be used for a wide variety of dishes from sweet to savory and is most commonly found in Asian dishes.

It also has a few other jobs. Ginger is used when eating sushi as both a palate cleanser between dishes and it is also said to be able to counter act the negative effects of bad fish.
Ginger is also known to have a soothing affect on an upset stomach. Either way ginger is a delicious and versatile ingredient that we highly recommend integrating into your kitchen. A great dish to start off with is the following recipe by Chef Jean-Philippe.

 

Carrot and Ginger Soup 

  • 3lbs Carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1 Leek, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp. scallion, finely sliced

In a large stainless steel pot heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sweat onion, leek and carrots for 5 minutes over medium hit. Add fresh ginger, garlic, fresh thyme, pinch of sea salt and water. Bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the
carrots are cook. Put in a blender with 2 tbsp. of butter. Taste and add sea
salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in a soup bowl with scallion for garnish.

Spice Series: Cumin

This is the first of a series of 5 in the Spice Series by Chef Jean-Philippe.  We hope you  enjoy it.  Read on for a bit of culinary trivia.

Personally, I was not the biggest fan of cumin based on the smell when it is by itself.  However, after doing some research into some of my favorite recipes I realized that cumin is used in many dishes that I really loved including many curries and dry rub recipes. So I
have decided that cumin is that spice you just have to have!

 

Cumin seeds come from a small annual plant and they are harvested after the plant has flowered but before the fruit falls to the ground. The stems are dried and then the seeds are removed. It is important to vigorously rub the seeds together to remove most of the
little hairs found on them.

 

When purchasing and storing cumin remember that the seeds will last you 3 years if kept in an airtight container while the ground cumin will only last about 1 year in an airtight container. This shouldn’t be a problem, however, because cumin is found in so many recipes. Try this one out and give us your feedback!

Culinary trivia:  An interesting fact you probably didn’t know… The greens from a cumin plant are actually cilantro!

Broiled Local Halibut
with Eggplant Purée, Cumin Vinaigrette

Serves 4

  • 1.5 lb. Halibut Filet, portion at 6 oz. each
  • 2 Eggplants
  • 2 Garlic chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 Green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Tomatoes, diced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
  • 4 sprigs Italian parsley

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Ground cumin
  • ½ Lemon Juice
  • Sea salt

Roast eggplant in the oven. When cooked, take off the skin and keep the inside. Mix it with all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook with olive oil for 10 min.

Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and brush the Halibut, broil until is cook. Make sure you don’t overcook it. Serve on a plate with the eggplant purée.

Bon Appetit!

Book Review – The French Laundry Cookbook

Thomas Keller, the author of this book and owner of The French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, is a true believer that a meal is an emotional experience. He applies that philosophy to his restaurant and also to this cookbook. This cookbook provides you with 150 recipes for you to duplicate The French Laundry in your own kitchen.

Not only does this book feature exact recipes from Thomas Keller’s kitchen, but the photography provided by Deborah Jones makes the book itself a piece of art. It begins with a personal introduction of Thomas Keller’s cooking mentality. He speaks of his love and respect for food. There is a brief history of his road to creating The French Laundry and then an introduction to the chef written by Michael Kuhlman.

Dispersed between the pages of amazing recipes are beautiful photographs of the dishes and ingredients themselves. Here and there you also find little bit of information on the ingredients or methods. This book not only talks about the food, but also shows you what it means to truly love and respect the art of cooking. It belongs both in your kitchen and on your coffee table.

Book Review – The Complete Robuchon

We thought it would be nice to provide our readers with some insight into some of the inspirations behind AYS. Here we are featuring an amazing cookbook written by Joel Robuchon.  Since THE COMPLETE ROBUCHON was originally written in French, Robin H. R. Bellinger wonderfully translated it into English in 2007.

This book is organized to provide you with some great beginning knowledge and then works its way into over 800 recipes. It begins with a few tips on creating a balanced meal, using just enough ingredients from different parts of the food pyramid and planned out to become an experience. This book really follows the concept of every meal creating a memory.

It also provides you with a brief but concise section about wine – how to properly serve and pair wines with your creations. Along with this wine knowledge, it breaks down the necessary details of different cooking methods from grilling to deep frying.  Of course, it also provides you with information on all the utensils you will need in your kitchen to carry out the following recipes and a glossary for any terms you may not know.

Diving into the actual recipes, this cookbook organizes its recipes the way you would arrange a four course meal. It begins with the basics like sauces and then leads you into your first course items such as Salads, Soups and Starters. A section on Eggs is the only thing separating you from the amazing recipes it holds for your main course broken down by proteins.  This is followed by your side dishes and a wonderful little chapter on some traditional French recipes that everyone should try. Last but not least comes a well-developed Desserts chapter.

This book is a great reference for anyone interested in exploring food. The recipes are detailed with concise and easy to follow instructions that make French cooking seem much more attainable. One of the best things about this book is that it can be found on Amazon.com for just around $25!

The Beauty of Roquefort

The French have such a beautiful relationship with cheese.  America has certainly grown to love cheese as well!  While there are literally hundreds of cheeses, many of which are native to France, Roquefort is one prized cheese of France.  Many people consider blue cheese and Roquefort cheese to be one in the same but that just isn’t true.  While there are quite a few differences the main one is that blue cheese is made from cow’s milk and
Roquefort is made from sheep’s milk.  In 1961, it was made official that a cheese could only be classified as Roquefort if it was aged in the caves of Mont Combalon in the commune of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in France.

Roquefort is one of the 3 greatest blue cheeses in the world alongside Gorgonzola and Stilton.  It holds a strong clean flavor with saltiness opposite to that of the sheep’s milk.  Its texture is damp but will still crumble and melt in your mouth.

We recently featured Roquefort on the menu for a wedding at a private estate.
It was among some other delicious cheese and fresh fruit for an appetizer course.

A few ideas for enjoying Roquefort in your home is to spread it on a fresh sliced crustini or serve it crumbled in a nice summer salad.  If you would like more suggestions on how to incorporate Roquefort into your personal kitchen, contact us.

The Herb Series – Rosemary (the last in this series)

The last in our Herb Series is rosemary. An herb that most people are very familiar with, rosemary is native to the Mediterranean area. A very pungent herb whose leaves can be used both fresh and dried, rosemary is high in iron, calcium and Vitamin B.

Lucky for those of you with an herb garden, rosemary grows similar to a weed. It is actually used for its beauty in landscaping in addition to its many uses in the kitchen. Rosemary has an old reputation for improving memory, but there is not scientific evidence to substantiate these claims. We do however know that rosemary is a great asset in the kitchen. Simply hold the stem and run your fingers down the stem in the opposite direction of the leaves. Give it a quick chop and place it into your dish.

Here is a recipe from Chef Jean-Philippe that shows how to use rosemary in your own kitchen.

Rosemary Marinated Grilled Swordfish with Citrus Sauce

1 lb Swordfish cut in 6oz portions
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
12 red skin baby new potato
2 branches Fresh Rosemary
4 cloves Garlic, sliced
6 oz herbs salad
2 oz orange juice
2 oz lemon juice
2 oz grapefruit juice
1 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Tomato
¼ Ginger
Salt & Pepper

Marinate the Swordfish with Olive Oil, 1 branch rosemary and ½ of the garlic for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Grill it until it’s cooked but don’t overcook it; it should be moist and juicy. For the Sauce make a caramel with sugar and water; when it reaches a nice golden color add sherry vinegar, reduce heat. Add all citrus juice, diced tomato, bell peppers and ginger. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake baby new potatoes in a sheet pan with the other ½ of the garlic, 1 branch rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper.

The Herb Series – Tarragon

It’s time for tarragon, the fourth star in our Herb Series. Also known as Dragon’s Wort, tarragon is native to a large portion of the Northern Hemisphere including Europe, Asia and much more. When adding tarragon to your home garden it is best to purchase it as a plant as it can be difficult to bring up from seeds. Being a perennial it is most likely to go dormant in the winter. Good thing for us in California, it thrives well in hot sunny areas with little watering.

French tarragon is considered best for the kitchen and is considered to be one of the four fines herbes in French cooking. Tarragon can be used both fresh and dried; however, when using the fresh form it’s best to used sparingly as it is much more pungent.

Utilized most in dishes highlighting seafood, poultry, eggs, vegetables and sauces. The following is one of Chef Jean-Philippe’s favorite recipes using tarragon.

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Arugula, Tarragon Lemon Vinaigrette

 

  • 2 lb Green Asparagus
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 4 radishes
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 spring onions, diced

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp. tarragon vinegar
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon
  • ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, sliced
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh ground Pepper

 

Heat the grill. Peel the asparagus and cut the bottom. Place in a small sheet pan and add extra virgin olive oil, mix well. Cook on the grill for 7 minutes, until tender.

For the Vinaigrette, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well.

In a platter, place Arugula and Mache Salad, add spring onion and radishes. Next to the salad, place asparagus. Pour the vinaigrette all over. You can garnish with fresh herbs.

 

 

 

 

The Herb Series – Thyme

A member of the mint family, thyme is the third installment in our 5 part Herb Series. Thyme is a very common herb used in dishes with meats, soups and stews. It is a great source of iron, manganese, Vitamin K and dietary fiber.

Thyme can be used in both fresh and dried manners. However, when using fresh thyme, it must be used quickly as it does not hold well after being picked. Along those lines, thyme actually retains more flavors in dried form than most other herbs. Thyme is slow to release flavors so unlike other herbs that should be added at the end of cooking, thyme should be added during the cooking process to fully extract its flavors.

When adding thyme to your herb garden, be sure to store it in a hot sunny location with well-drained soil. Thyme can survive through a drought so don’t be shy about growing it in a desert home. Try taking some of your home grown thyme and use it in this great recipe from Chef Jean-Philippe.

Broccoli Soup

  • 3 lb Broccoli, shopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Leek, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes diced
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Extra virgin olive Oil
  • 5 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp butter

In a large stainless steel pot heat up 1 tbsp. of olive oil and yellow onion, leek, broccoli for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, fresh thyme, pinch of sea salt and water or vegetable stock. Bring to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked. Put in a blender with 2 tbsp. of butter. Taste and add sea salt and pepper if necessary. Serve in a soup bowl with stems of broccoli florets.

 

 

Farmers’ Market

I know you have heard us say this before, but we can’t stress enough the importance of quality ingredients. We say it constantly because it’s true, and that is why we do all of our shopping at our local farmers’ market. The farmers’ market gives us the opportunity to know where our ingredients come from, speak directly to the farmers, and always provide the best quality.  Every week Chef Jean-Philippe goes to two different farmers’ markets, one here in Thousand Oaks and one in Santa Barbara.

One of the great things about shopping at a local farmers’ market is that you will always be provided with ingredients that are fresh and in season. For example, right now we are in the peak of artichoke season. Just look at these beautiful artichokes that were at the Thousand Oaks farmers’ market.

Not only is a farmers’ market great for the ingredients, but also because the farmers are selling directly to you they are able to provide these quality items at a price less expensive than the grocery store.  There is a great selection; you can find everything like fresh herbs, vegetables, fruit, homemade breads, fresh seafood and lots of other items depending on the season. You can also visit the Ventura County Certified Farmers’ Market Association booth for lots of information on the vendors and seasonal items. For more information visit www.vccfarmersmarkets.com.

Come and visit the Thousand Oaks Farmers’ Market every Thursday from 2pm-6pm at the Thousand Oaks Mall east end parking lot. If you have any questions please send an email to dianna@ayschef.com.

 

 

 

The Herb Series – Dill

The second post in our Herb Series is all about Dill. I have found that dill is one of the herbs that are underrated. Originally from Eastern Europe, some people stay away from using dill because it has such a strong scent and flavor, but when used properly dill, or dill weed, can add a deliciously bright flavor to a dish. Utilized mostly in dip, herb butter, soup, salad and fish recipes, dill is best used when it is freshly picked.

The best way to do this is to grow dill in your herb garden at home. Dill is one of the easiest herbs to plant and harvest. It is best to plant dill in the warmer winter months. If you decide to grow dill in a pot, be sure to use a deep one to allow its roots to flourish.

Once it is ready for harvest, grab a sprig or two while you are cooking. Freshly chopped dill in a dish can bring such a bright, fresh flavor that is unlike anything else. Dill is great to throw in a summer salad with just a squeeze of lemon juice.

We have a delicious dish from Chef Jean-Philippe that will show you how to use dill in your own kitchen.

Fresh and Smoked Salmon Mousse on Baguette Crostini

  • 8 oz. Fresh Salmon (poached)
  • 4 oz. Smoked Salmon (fine sliced)
  • 1 Shallot (diced)
  • 2 Tbsp. Low-fat Greek Yogurt
  • 3 oz. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Dill (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley (chopped)
  • ½ Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and chill for few hours. Served on Baguette Crostini.