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


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Location:San Francisco, CA

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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

USPCA Bay Area September Meeting


It’s hard to believe how much one can eat and drink in a professional conference! I feel like I won’t get hungry for days.

The September meeting of our USPCA Bay Area Chapter is traditionally held in Chef Garbo‘s beautiful summer cabin in Inverness. We get together on Saturday afternoon for lunch, then check out some coastal foodie places, shop local markets, then retreat to the cabin, where we all cook together, talk business, share ideas and techniques, eat, drink, play board games, enjoy the garden and the wild bird sanctuary, and generally have fun. Those who are able to stay overnight get together again in the kitchen on Sunday morning to cook brunch. Then we eat again. There is always plenty of tasty leftovers to take home for family and friends. My favorite meeting of the year!


This year we had lunch in the busy Point Reyes Station Cafe, toured Heidrun Meadery and tasted their delicious and unique handmaid mead, did our grocery shopping at the Palace Market, and picked up the last bag of fresh Drakes Bay Oyster Company oysters at Inverness Market. At the cabin, Chef Greg and I fired up the backyard grill, while everyone else got busy in the kitchen.


As always, there was a lot of food styling photography done. I’m proud to say that my pickled quail egg appetizer was very likely the Most Photographed Dish of the Evening!


This year, our former chapter president, Chef Kara, left us for the sunny Southern California, but she came all the way back to Inverness in order to pass the torch to the new president, Chef Gini.


Here is our dinner menu:

Moscow Mules by Claude Garbarino

BBQ Oysters
Pickled Quail Egg and Herb Salad Nests by Polina Antonova
Chicken Wraps by Dawn Buchhollz
Smoked Salmon with Sour Cream Sauce Crostini by Greg Chew

Tossed Salad with Caramelized Walnuts by Gini Bortz
Raw Kale Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Cucumber by Maggie Lawson
Grilled Stuffed Chicken by Greg Chew
Sexy Ribs by Claude Garbarino
Grilled Steak Medallions with Bacon and Herbs by Polina Antonova
Pearl Barley with Rosemary Roasted Grapes by Maggie Lawson
Grilled Veggies by Polina Antonova

Cheese Cake by Dawn Buchhollz
Boozy Pops by Claude Garbarino

Mead, wine, mineral water


Brunch menu:

Coffee, orange juice, mead Mimosas

Breakfast Sausages and Bacon
Lemon Bread & Pecan Muffins by Gini Bortz
Quiche by Dawn Buchhollz
Quail Eggs and Salmon Roe on Toast by Polina Antonova

I came home with lots of new recipes and business ideas, and a bag of garden apples, courtesy of Chef Garbo’s neighbors. Already looking forward to the next meeting!

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