Mason jar salads

Springtime is the time for light pasta dishes and very green salads.


All the fresh seasonal spring vegetables:
Artichokes
Asparagus
Fava beans and leaves
Flowers: borage, calendula, chives, fava, pansies, peas, rose, wild mustard, wild turnip, etc.
Green garlic
Green peas and pea shoots
Herbs
Mushrooms
Radishes
Spring greens
Spring onions
The first cherry tomatoes,

as well as late season winter produce:
Bitter greens: arugula, baby kale, chicories, etc.
Broccoli
Cabbages
Cauliflower
Lemons
Oranges
Root vegetables and their tops

– all work well in both salads and pastas.


Recently some of my clients asked me to lighten their spring menus, and to replace the soup with a fresh salad that they can enjoy all week, and take to work for lunch. For this, mason jar salads are a perfect solution. These salads have been a trend in the last couple of years, and they make a lot of sense for busy people who like to eat healthy and well.


The idea is that you pack your salad in a mason jar, 1/2 pint, 1 pint or 1 quart, depending on your appetite, in an order that helps to keep it fresh in the refrigerator for the whole week. The dressing goes on the bottom of the jar. Then you add a vegetable, legume, or protein, to separate the dressing from the greens, so that the greens don’t wilt, and the greens, nuts, and edible flowers go on top. When ready to eat, turn the jar out onto a plate, and it will dress itself. Or, mix it and eat it from the jar. Pack the jars tightly: the less air there is, the slower will the salad dry out.

Examples:
– Greek yogurt, mint, lemon juice, minced garlic or spring garlic; fava and garbanzo beans; grilled chicken; fava bean tops
– White wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced shallot, olive oil; quail eggs; mâché
– Balsamic vinegar, olive oil; fire roasted peppers; prosciutto; cannellini beans; wild arugula, pine nuts
– Lemon juice and zest, garlic, olive oil; olives, feta; red onion slices, rinsed, bell pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, Persian cucumber (sliced, salted, and left to drain, then squeezed dry); baby spinach, borage flowers
– Strawberry infused balsamic vinegar, walnut or olive oil; strawberries, goat cheese; walnuts, baby greens
– Orange slices and juice, olive oil; steamed green beans or cooked cranberry beans; shaved fennel; baby arugula


Please go out into the garden or to the farmers market, get whatever looks the best, and improvise! Don’t forget to add some edible flowers, to make the jars more fun to open.

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Location:Tiburon, CA

Mexican salsa

Here is the simplest, tastiest, absolutely addictive homemade salsa, as learned from a Mexican grandmother today:

Open windows. Char an onion half, jalapeños, and Roma tomatoes in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, until blackened almost all over (it takes time). Peel the tomatoes and onion, don’t bother to peel the jalapeños, but remove seeds. Puree in blender to somewhat chunky consistency. Add chopped cilantro, season with salt and lemon juice. Serve with tortilla chips and beer.

The proportion depends on your mood, ingredients on hand, and the desired spiciness. Today we used 4 tomatoes, 4 jalapeños, 1/2 large yellow onion, and a medium bunch of cilantro. It made a quite fiery salsa, so the grandmother separated 1 cup of it, and blended it with 2 fresh tomatoes and another squeeze of lemon, to make a milder salsa for the kids.

Enjoy!

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Location:San Rafael, CA

Green for spring


“Eat the rainbow” may be a nice slogan to tempt kids to eat more vegetables, as opposed to the colorless packaged food-less food; but if you follow the seasons and try to get the best and freshest produce that the local farmers have to offer, you’ll find yourself eating your rainbow a few colors at a time.


The summer is red, blue, and purple: it starts with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, then tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants, watermelons, figs. The fall colors are orange and yellow: squashes, pumpkins, persimmons, apples and pears.
Winter is, predictably, white: cabbage, potatoes, turnips, parsnip, rutabaga, mushrooms; citrus fruits and pomegranate add much needed color accents.

Now, in the spring, the green color dominates the garden and the farmers market. The green vegetables that were available all winter – leafy greens, lettuces and cabbages – are still here, and taste as great as ever. They will be gone soon, eat them while you can! Beans and peas first produce delicious greens, then tender pods. I love to mix the two in the same dish, and the middle of spring is the time when both are available. The strictly seasonal artichokes, asparagus, ramps (wild leeks) and fava beans have to be enjoyed in spring: the season is short, and it’s now! The first vegetables of summer make an appearance, and their color is green: summer squashes and cucumbers are here to stay, but they are in their most tender “baby” stage now.


What’s in season:
Artichoke
Arugula
Asparagus
Beet greens
Bok Choy
Broccoli
Broccolini
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Collard Greens
Cucumber
Dandelion Greens
Endive
Fava beans
Green beans
Kale
Leek
Lettuce
Mustard greens
Peas
Pea greens
Rappini (broccoli rabe)
Sorrel
Spinach
Swiss Chard
Turnip Greens
Watercress
Zucchini

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Spring menu today

SALAD
 Mixed greens with orange, walnuts, and goat cheese
 SOUP
 Cream of asparagus
 MAIN
 Ono, mango salsa
 Langostino and spinach frittata
 Chicken with wild mushrooms
 Beef liver, sherry sauce
 SIDES
 Quinoa with asparagus and peas
 Braised greens
 Sautéed cauliflower and broccoli
 Herbed sweet potatoes
 


Ono with mango salsa (Manila mango, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro)


Chicken breast stuffed with wild mushrooms (porcini and chanterelles from Mendocino sautéed with spring garlic and thyme; white wine sauce)


Langostino and spinach frittata


Sautéed beef liver with shallots and sherry reduction


Quinoa with asparagus, peas, and lemon


Za’atar spiced sweet potatoes


Sautéed baby broccoli and cauliflower florets, white balsamic glaze
 
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Happy New Year 2016!

Happy New Year from Caliblini Personal Chef Service!

The last dinner party of 2015 was:

Roasted garlic and herb focaccia

Cream of mushroom soup
Fennel and orange salad with walnuts

Chicken roasted with garlic and thyme
Roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranate
Smashed red potatoes

Fruit and berry crumble


Now working on menus for 2016!

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Menu today


SOUP
 Creamy curried cauliflower soup
SALAD
Fennel and orange salad with toasted walnuts
MAIN
Cod baked with tomatoes and sweet onions
Rabbit stew with wild mushrooms Honey mustard pork tenderloin Parmesan meatballs, onion gravy
SIDES
Baked sweet potatoes with chai spices
Polenta with wild mushrooms
Brussels sprouts with pomegranate and feta
 Honey roasted winter squashes
 


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Location:Mill Valley, CA

Menu today


Vegetable soup with meatballs
 Sautéed halibut, salsa verde
  Spaghetti squash
 Duck legs roasted with pears and sweet onions
  Potatoes gratin
 Pork roast with herb mustard crust
  Braised cabbage
 
 


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Ecuadorian cuisine with Chef Alejandra


Today I volunteered to assist an Ecuadorean-born, French-trained chef Alejandra Espinoza with teaching her class on Ecuadorean cuisine. Chef Alejandra puts a slight French twist on traditional Ecuadorean dishes, like seasoning the fish with lime juice and piment d’Espelet, or using shallots, white wine, and cream to turn an otherwise simple quinoa with vegetables into a delicious risotto. She uses freshest local seasonal ingredients for her menus, but her pantry items come from South America, Europe, and all over the world.


The menu:
Appetizers
Guacamole, green plantain chips
Shrimp ceviche with chulpi
~
Main

Grilled ling cod in lime sauce
Quinoa risotto with squash, white corn, pecorino cheese
~
Dessert

Tres leches with fresh strawberries
~


The beauty of working alongside a chef with such a unique and diverse background is that you learn a lot.

– Use slightly overripe avocados for easy mashing into a guacamole
– You can get the best, freshest local catch if you come to Pier 33 very early in the morning
– Ecuadorean ceviche is not spicy (unlike the Peruvian ceviche that I was familiar with). The aromatic broth used to cook the shrimps is then strained, chilled, and added to the marinade, alongside the lime juice, red onions, and cilantro. No chilies!
– Ecuadorean guacamole, on the other hand, is almost too hot for me to eat
– Green plantain, thinly sliced and deep fried, makes wonderful crunchy chips
– Chulpi, the South American snack of salted roasted corn of a particular variety, is dangerously addictive
– Having a housecleaner help during a cooking class makes the chef’s work 100x easier. Thank you, Dina!
– Parking in Cow Hollow is a nightmare, but it’s doable after 6 pm


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Francisco, CA

Permalink

Here is the interview that Chef Garbo did with me for the Personal Chef magazine:
 
 http://chefgarbo.com/cooking-from-russia-to-the-usa-an-interview-with-chef-polina-antonva/
 
 
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Menu today


Menu today for a family of four:

Sole with lemon-cream sauce
French green beans
Baked French lentils with chicken sausage
Honey-glazed winter squashes
Pork medallions with peaches
Farro pilaf
Braised beef short ribs
Ratatouille


The beautiful fruits and vegetables for these meals come from Marin Farmers Market.

People often ask me how to cook thin delicate fish fillets, like Dover sole, so that they don’t fall apart. One way is to season them, then roll them up and cook:


And the fish turner spatula helps a lot!
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Location:San Rafael, CA