MALIBU, California

MALIBU, California
LOOKING ACROSS STA MONICA BAY

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Gold Medal Vegan dishes for the Olympics..photos UP!

Great foods for watching the Olympics..For Monday my clients have chosen a pretty diverse mix of what I call "comfort Vegan food", making the most of fresh seasonal veggies:


Vichysoisse..made with lots of fresh leeks, onions and coconut milk..blend and serve cool


A hearty Caldo Verde..a Portuguese soup made with vegetable broth, potatoes, kale, garlic and chickpeas, herbs and smoked paprika


Walnut-basil pesto with pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice ( in place of salt) with Gluten free pasta


A fabulous lentil & yam stew, tomato based with garlic, collards and sage..a complete meal in a bowl


Lightly sauteed fresh asparagus with pinenuts..to be completed at client's home


Steamed millet with turmeric, and ground cardamom..a high protein grain


Oatmeal cookies with roasted sunflower seed butter and white chocolate


Individual, whole wheat fresh berry-cherry  "tarte tatins"
( sorry the photos are a tad darker than usual I am trying to get used to my new back-up camera as my main one is in for cleaning)



Russet potatoes and own grown tomatoes

Thai Purple basil, kale and collard greens

Field strawberries and leaf parsley

garnet yams,curly kale, collards and purple basil
Chopped kale for the Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde simmering..potatoes, collards, smoked paprika, garlic, kale, chickpeas


Vichysoisse packed
These 2 the French Lentil stew with yams, collards, plum tomatoes, carrots and cilantro fresh sage..deliciously hearty great with grains or by itself, High protein Stew


 oatmeal roasted sunflower seed butter and white chocolate chip cookies.( a healthier version of chocolate peanut butter cookies)....sweet and salty










Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Portobello Mushroom "Burgers", Eggplant "steaks" with a panzanella, Sauteed spicy broccoli, warm Spanish Potato salad...Tips Ideas and photos

Growing up in the North of England, salad was always the same thing... a dinner plate covered  with lettuce ( usually hot house grown Butter lettuce), 1/4 tomato, spring onions, radishes, sliced hothouse cucumber and a boiled egg..dressed with Heinz Salad Cream...my Mother explained one day that on "The Continent" ( the rest of Europe) they ate their salads with olive oil, which horrified me...this type of salad was promoted before the Second World War

Flash forward 20 years and I was loving all the salads in the South of France and appreciating the velvet touch of pure 100% local grown and produced olive oil &  red wine vinegar..there salads where scented with fresh local herbs, tangy tomatoes off the vine and hard crunchy cucumbers, with purple onions, black olives and fennel...

To Spain where I had the pleasure of actually seeing our own grown olives produced into  wonderful, fruity fresh, olive oil, and began experimenting on salads with our own grown  fruits..tangy citrus, in the Fall pomegranates, local sage, wild rosemary and wild thyme....

Now in Southern California, I am fortunate enough to have my own organic garden and be close enough to some of the best organic farmers in the world... ( and no I have not seen nor used Heinz Salad Cream for over 40 years..lol)

I love this time of year in California. (Daytime temps by the ocean high 70's - 80'sF inland triple digits)..all the local farms are producing ripe, vibrant fruits and vegetables and the colors & aromas in the local markets are fantastic..
In fact fresh ripe and gloriously sweet strawberries are cheaper than apples right now!

I will post some photos of local markets  on Saturday.

The Menu for tomorrow's delivery:


Whole wheat pita bread, toasted and then spread with a spicy mixture of black olives, cilantro, chili paste , chopped own grown hot peppers, olive oil, ..to be prepared at the client's home


The soups are wonderful either warm or chilled:
Green beans with sugar peas in a carrot, onion, celery broth finished with chopped parsley.

A wonderful (tastes almost like Jerusalem artichoke) potato and watercress soup, made with rice milk and coconut milk..deep, smooth flavors.

Portobello Mushroom "Burgers" ( in vegetarian cooking for a "meaty" texture to a dish I always use either mushrooms or eggplant) in this dish the client will lightly grill the mushrooms and top with   caramelized purple onions .. I have added fresh strawberries to the caramelized purple onions and some balsamic vinegar).
In place of a bun they are to be placed between Romaine lettuce leaves and added sliced own grown tomatoes..deliciousness

Eggplant roasted "steaks" with a panzanella..chopped own grown tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, capers parsley, with own made sour dough bread, olive oil and own made red wine vinegar..all to be assembled at the client's home.


Sauteed Spicy broccoli with own grown Cajun Red peppers and chickpeas

A warm new potato salad Spanish style, with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, purple onion, garlic, smoked peppers, parsley, olive oil, red wine and balsamic vinegar

Steamed white quinoa..high protein grain


Own grown sprouts, Rejuvelak ( a non-dairy probiotic)


A Fresh strawberry-blueberry cobbler made with buttermilk ( the only thing on the menu that is not Vegan!)

I will try and post some photos tomorrow, I hope you try some of these ideas out at home.

here are some  tips for using more fruits in salads & salad dressings:

in place of vinegar in salad dressings use citrus juice...lime, lemon, orange grapefruit

add fresh berries or  peeled apples/pears to a blender, add citrus juice and good olive oil and herbs...blend and enjoy over leafy greens

make the same dressing and serve with warm steamed veggies...delicious with grains,  pastas & potatoes..

add fresh berries to any salad

banana and yogurt mixed with olive oil & lime juice, is a good base for any fruit that is not quite sweet enough, like fresh apricots or plums

Use ripe plums in the place of tomatoes in any salad..they are great served in a salsa in place of tomatoes or tomatillos...use cilantro, spicy peppers, cucumber, avocado & etc anytime you are using raw onions for  salsa, wash in running water and drain well to remove the strong and sometimes over powering sulphur taste in any salsa or salad.
Always wash and air-dry strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries & etc. but do not wash raspberries as they are too tender.

Also add cooked beans to any salad to increase the protein value.




yes more own grown tomatoes..they love beer


own grown eggplants
Sometimes in Summer months there is a recall on lettuces..or they are pricey..in place of salad greens use cooked, cold vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli...add the dressing and allow to "marinate" overnight..you will love the results.
Potatoes will soak up more dressing and flavor if you add the dressing to them while they are still warm, also cut in halves when using small new potatoes and chunks when using larger.

* when using lime juice and sometimes lemon juice do not add salt as the flavor of lime or lemon is "salt like".




Portobello ( left) for the "Burgers"




own grown tomatoes


own grown hot pepper..Cajun Red

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dishes for a day at the Races or Shoot.."Downton Abbey" 20th Century

One of the great pastimes in Britain and also named the "Sport of Kings" is horse racing.
When I worked in Oxfordshire for Lord & Lady Edwin McAlpine, they bred their own race horses, as they had a stud farm on their country estate, and they often attended races in England, flying in one of their many helicopters to a race meet, from their country house (again think of Downton Abbey 20th Century).

The evening of the dinner for their return, I had to  ensure that the center piece flowers were the same color as the jockey's silks,  if they had had a win, if they had a loss then the center piece colors would match the color of her ladyship's gown that night.

The meets would often be very cold and windy affairs so, I had to make sure I had some soup/hot tea with honey ready for serving on their return.







The same happened in the many shoots on the estate,we had in the Fall....

This was a formal affair..with people arriving the night before from London, and staying in one of the many guest rooms..the whole household being on "Full Alert".

The morning of the shoot..I would make vats of soup, hot tea and toast, for the "beaters" the men who set out before the guns and dogs and flush out the fields.
.this often happening before dawn...(although some of the birds were wild a lot had been reared in captivity and released in the the surrounding woods, the week before)...that week it was normal for pheasants to be seen being rounded up and put Back into the woods as they had wandered off!
Then it would be a full English Breakfast ( even kippers brought in from Scotland) for all the guests and even some of the local "gentry" would hanger on for some breakfast...before long everyone had left


 and I could get on with preparing a light lunch for Lady McAlpine, and then a large  afternoon tea/drinks party for the returning shooters and beaters.(pies, sausage rolls, pasties, pate, wine and brandy, Scotch whisky ofcourse, and more soup,) 


 The beaters and "guns" had drinks outside the house on their return, then the "guns" ( shooters) retired to the inside of the house, as I sorted out the braces of birds and who got what ( Lady McAlpine had given me a list of how many braces, each person would take home it was a very civilized affair as no matter how many birds one shot, one always went home with more) 

...the next few days would be filled with me hanging braces of birds in the large stone floored pantry, to be 'dressed" later that month..which meant me being shut in the fenced old dog pen and plucking birds for hours ( see previous Blog)


So today I am making 3 very different but very delicious soups which reminded me of the days of horse races and "shoots".

1) a traditional thick "London Fog" pea soup, with a twist... carrots, split green peas, pearl barley, celery, brown onion,bay, cumin and finished with earthy flavored cilantro


2) a Beet Borscht with a base of red wine and apple juice, flavored with bay leaf and cinnamon


3) A summer vegetable soup..Recipe.. Feeds 4-6
 ( I like mine chunky you can make as you prefer)
 Strip the corn from 2 ears of sweet corn

Roughly chop:

8 young carrots..
2 medium brown (Spanish) onions
1 head of celery

saute in 2 tbsp grape seed oil ( or canola oil) olive oil is too heavy for this

add enough stock to cover the vegetables, bring to a boil  & add the 2 (Stripped) ears of corn and simmer, keep replacing the stock to keep the veggies just covered. Add 1 bay leaf and 1 tbsp chopped  fresh sage or 1 tsp dried

After 20 minutes add 9 chopped medium mushrooms, and 1 red bell pepper roughly chopped, the corn from the 2 ears of sweet corn simmer for another 20 minutes.

Add enough rice or almond milk ( You can use reg milk if you prefer) to cover the veggies and simmer for another 20 mins..skim surface and then add salt and pepper.
remove the stripped ears of corn

Turn off heat and add
4 chopped zucchini
1 cup fresh peas,or chopped green beans,  or fresh sugar snap peas, or mangetout.
and 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley..stir well and wait 10 minutes then serve.

You can also add any vegetables that are in season, if you find you haven't got a good  selection you can always add good new potatoes, or peeled potatoes.

The other parts of the menu are:
A roasted corn and arugula salad with lime
juice and olive oil

Asparagus, tomato, walnut and zucchini salad with a yogurt and balsamic dressing

Grilled eggplant with  red onion and tomato

Whole wheat couscous with cumin

(sorry but my camera is in the "shop" being cleaned and repaired so I am showing photos from previous days cooking..everything will be back to normal next week)






These are tiny potatoes!







Friday, July 20, 2012

Jet Set Catering..Breads, tarts, pies, desserts, soups......LOTS of Tips & photos!!

Everyone loves comfort food.
When I worked in London as a private chef, for various aristocrats/celebrities,in the 80's everyone adored desserts and puddings they had had in their childhood. It seems like things don't change much, HRH Prince William requested his groom's cake be made from English biscuits ( cookies) in milk chocolate, something he had as a child!

Ever popular is fruit crumble here in U.S. I make it with whole wheat flour, brown sugar and either soy-free margarine or unsalted butter...it is  almost a shortbread crumb topped poached fruit pudding..tomorrow I am making it with local berries which are now at their best, strawberries and raspberries.
A popular variation in U.S. is to add rolled oats to the topping and it is called a Fruit Crisp.

Savory pies were/are also popular, I have a regular order every Friday for any veggies cooked with cheese and a pastry crust, along with some type of fruited pudding, for a family in Hollywood.
 Cornish Pasties ( pron. with a hard A) which were originally made for the Cornish Tin Miners so they had some food when they were in the mine..the pastry was their edible wrapping, although the pastie was wrapped in a piece of cloth that later was used to wipe the miners faces off when it got too hot down in the mine. In those days, they were made the size of a folded dinner plate, these days they are the size of a side plate folded and I make them with cooked vegetables & cheese or nut butter..very popular both sides of the Atlantic.

Also popular are the "rustic" brioche yeasted pastry pies and I usually make them every 2 weeks..roasted or sauteed ripe summer vegetables also either with cheese or nut butter and nutritional yeast, tomorrow I am making a roasted  red pepper and vegetable rustic with toasted flax seed and tarragon crust and also including real cheese as the clients can eat dairy.

More popular in  France and Italy are the cold or cooler soups, the only one really acceptable for a lot of families used to be Vichysoisse in UK, although I did have a celebrity client in LA who preferred his warmed.


Today I made a wonderful sage and butternut squash soup, blended with coconut milk it is great either warmed or served chilled..the fresh sage adds a mellow depth.

My biggest tip when cooking vegetarian and vegan and making everything taste good is to cook as much ( soups, stews, anything with a liquid base) the day before ( except pies and cakes) and allow the flavors to develop overnight..
it is important that the food has to be cooled quickly before putting in the fridge do not put warm/hot food into a fridge as not only will the dish spoil so will most of the other items in the fridge.
The times to avoid cooking and storing the day before is when  the weather is humid...as everything is likely to spoil very easily.

I have a cooling room..where there's no sunlight and fans extracting warm air.
 Big tip for summer food preservation is to lower the temperature  on your fridges/freezers in hot weather..this is because the air rushing in ( when opening the door) from the kitchen is hotter and that makes the  fridge's motor work harder to keep optimum cold, and can take some fridges 30 minutes to cool down by which time your food is spoiling.This will keep your bills down and lower your carbon footprint.

Food prepped so far:



the flesh of the roasted butternut squash, in stock with celery, onion & garlic..sage leaves and coconut milk added when it is blended
own grown tomatoes, zucchini, purple onion, garlic, herbs, red wine..the base for the "rustic pie"

added roasted red bell peppers

marinating overnight
the toasted flax seed-tarragon 'brioche" yeast pastry

the pastry allowed to prove for 2 hours, knock back and put in fridge overnight, then bring to room temp before rolling out
extra sweet "Calico" sweet corn for the roasted corn salad on Monday..soaking in clean water after returning from market


 these 2 cheese topped vegetable and cheese pies
these 2..carrot cake with fresh peaches, pears and raspberries..a great way to get people to eat their fruit and vegetables..lol

another sourdough this one with sesame seeds and caraway

these have proved for 4 hours now they will ferment for another 7 hours at room temp..I used a mix of pastry and bread flour for  a lighter crumb