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Holiday Recipe: Chicken, Basil, and Prosciutto Ballotine


Holiday Recipe: Chicken, Basil, and Prosciutto Ballotine

Bold Food pop up dinners are coming up, and I've worked with Feastly to publish a holiday recipe that is beautiful, festive and delicious!

A ballotine is a boneless, skinless chicken that is stuffed, rolled, and tied. It makes a beautiful, festive dish for the holidays and is delicious warm or cold. I first made this recipe as an experiment in a Bold Food private cooking workshop, and it was a complete success! After seeing that we had chicken, prosciutto, and basil, we began to think along the lines of European/Mediterranean food. Wanting to make something visually stunning with the ingredients on hand, we decided on a chicken-prosciutto ballotine stuffed with garlic, basil, and chicken sausage. The chicken gets perfectly cooked and retains its moisture due to the sous vide technique, and the fillings provide a ton of flavor.

Head over to the Feastly site to see the full recipe with step by step pictures.


Food Trends 2017: What's on the Way


Food Trends 2017: What's on the Way

As an obsessive foodie and avid traveler, I have the opportunity to eat at a wide variety of restaurants around the world. That puts me in a good position to spot emerging food trends. 

One current food trend I hope will go away soon is pine. Every restaurant of a certain creativity level has a dish flavored with pine right now. Yep, that's Christmas tree flavor. We can thank Noma and the Nordic food revolution for this addition to the global food lexicon. A lot of amazing things have come out of the Nordic movement, but pine is not one them. When I ate at Noma, Geranium, Radio and Relæ in Copenhagen in 2014, I had a LOT of pine. (If Rene Redzepi were here now, I'd have a very creative way to thank him for the pine in my food!)

Below are some food trends that I expect to gain popularity in the next few years. Feel free to share your own predictions in the comments section below.


SingleThread  in Healdsburg, CA - Mt. Lassen trout ibushi-gin with shio koji vinaigrette, trout roe, and myoga

SingleThread in Healdsburg, CA - Mt. Lassen trout ibushi-gin with shio koji vinaigrette, trout roe, and myoga

Koji is the fungus used to make soy sauce, miso and sake, and shio koji is a salted liquid that is used as a marinade and sauce which contains enzymes that help break down proteins which releases free glutamate, the main source of umami. Koji preparations are clearly well known in Japan, but koji has been on the menu at SingleThread in Sonoma, Baroo in Los Angeles, Barley Swine in Austin, The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa, and Restaurant Andre in Singapore.

Barroo  in Los Angeles, CA - Farro and kamut cooked with koji beet creme and dashi with nuts and rose apple pickle.

Barroo in Los Angeles, CA - Farro and kamut cooked with koji beet creme and dashi with nuts and rose apple pickle.

Raw Fish

Gaggan  in Bangkok, Thailand - Raw fish taco

Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand - Raw fish taco

Raw fish preparations are a part of many cultures, but we are not simply seeing them in expected places like Japan (sushi), Mexico and Peru (ceviche). We are seeing raw fish in Hawaiian poke-like preparations in fast casual restaurants, and a raw lobster preparation at Bianchi in Zurich. There were recently two raw fish dishes on the menu at Gaggan, a high end modernist Indian food restaurant in Bangkok, and just about every chef driven restaurant in the US will have a crudo or ceviche like dish on the menu.

Edible Clay and Dirt

Central  in Lima, Peru - Cushuro (a round colony of bacteria from the Andes that are solid but chewy), cacao, chaco clay.  

Central in Lima, Peru - Cushuro (a round colony of bacteria from the Andes that are solid but chewy), cacao, chaco clay.  

Noma in Copenhagen has served dirt to their guests (on purpose), and for years Michel Bras has garnished his famous gargouillou salad with a bit of dirt. Andean natives in Peru eat the clay that sticks to the potatoes they cook in the earth, and Central and other restaurants in Peru have started serving edible clay. Central actually serves a dessert with edible clay and white chocolate.  As Peru is driving many culinary trends right now, the edible clay trend will continue to grow.



Non-alcoholic Drinks and Pairings

SingleThread in Healdsburg, CA - Turmeric and grenadine with smoked salt

SingleThread in Healdsburg, CA - Turmeric and grenadine with smoked salt

Many high end restaurants are putting more effort than ever into beverage pairings that do not contain alcohol. SingleThread in Sonoma County offers a revelatory non-alcoholic pairing. Coi in San Francisco offers a tea pairing, and Restaurant Andre in Singapore is fermenting their own juices. The trend is also starting to trickle into more casual chef driven restaurants and will continue to do so.



Roasted Asparagus Salad with Vinaigrette and Black Garlic Yogurt Sauce


Roasted Asparagus Salad with Vinaigrette and Black Garlic Yogurt Sauce

This festive salad has two dressings: a classic vinaigrette and a yogurt-based sauce, which was inspired by Ottolenghi, The Cookbook. The acidity in the vinaigrette is balanced nicely by the creaminess of the yogurt.  In addition, the sweetness and floral notes in the fermented black garlic in the yogurt sauce goes very nicely with the stronger pungent aspects of the raw garlic in the vinaigrette.  Make sure to scoop up some of the yogurt sauce with each serving of salad!

A tip for seeding the pomegranate: Cut it in half through the middle and then, over a large bowl, whack the rounded part of the pomegranate with a sturdy wooden spoon while loosely holding the cut side in your other hand. The seeds should fall right out.

Serves 6


1 lb. asparagus 

2 firm persimmons, peeled and sliced

3 Persian cucumbers, sliced

¼ - ½ cup Marcona almonds, chopped

Seeds of one pomegranate 

½ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped

½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


2 tablespoons lime juice (or to taste)

2 tablespoons honey

½ cup olive oil 

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt to taste

Black Garlic Yogurt Sauce

16 oz. plain Greek yogurt (whole milk)

Zest of one lime

3 tablespoons black garlic, minced 

3 tablespoons oil-cured black olives, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Coat asparagus in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast under the broiler until the tips are brown and crispy. When cool, cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces and put into a large bowl along with the cucumbers, persimmons, cilantro, mint and almonds, and pomegranate seeds. 

To make the vinaigrette mix all the ingredients together and whisk rapidly.  The honey will emulsify the vinaigrette.  Taste for salt and tartness.  The vinaigrette should be tart, so add more lime juice if it is too sweet. 

To make the yogurt sauce, mix the yogurt, lime zest, black garlic, olives and olive oil in a small bowl until well blended. Spread the yogurt sauce on the bottom of a serving plate, toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette, and place the vegetables on top of the yogurt sauce. Serve immediately.


Homemade Thai Spiced Potato Chips


Homemade Thai Spiced Potato Chips

Sometimes at a Super Bowl party, you want Frito Lays with canned Hormel chili (no beans; don't be ridiculous) and Velveeta. Theres nothing wrong with that. It tastes good!

I'm from Denver, so every year the Broncos make it as far as the Super Bowl, I also make two pans of rice krispies treats at my house. One batch is orange, and one is blue. Even if the Raiders are in it, Im still gonna make my orange and blue rice krispies. I've lived in the Bay Area for 20 years, but once your arch enemy, always your arch enemy.  

Sometimes at a Super Bowl party, you want chips with onion dip, tiny pizzas and beer.  

And sometimes you want to make those homemade potato chips and caramelize the onions for the handmade dip. Maybe the pizzas are tiny tarte flambées made with specialty puff pastry, and the beer is home brewed. Just sayin. If this is one of those years for you—like it is for me—this recipes for you.

Homemade Thai Spiced Potato Chips

Serves 4

  • Ginger - 25 g
  • Galangal - 25 g
  • Lemongrass - 2 stalks
  • Thai chilis - 25 g
  • Lime leaves - 20 leaves
  • Coconut - 25 g unsweetened shredded
  • Takii umami powder
  • 4 Russet potatoes
  1. Dehydrate all of the spice mix ingredients except the Takii powder on separate shelves in a dehydrator.  The ginger, lemongrass and galangal should be cut into thin slices to speed up the dehydration.  [Most ingredients will take only a few hours to dehydrate, but do this the day before in case some of the ingredients need to be dehydrated overnight.]
  2. Roughly chop each ingredient before grinding in a spice grinder.
  3. Grind Takii powder in a spice grinder.
  4. Mix 10g each of ginger, galangal, lemongrass and coconut.  Add lime leaves, chilis and Takii powder to taste.
  5. Cut potatoes into 3mm slices using a mandoline (no need to peel).
  6. Cook potato slices for 3 to 5 minutes in boiling, salted water.  The potato should taste cooked.
  7. When cooked potatoes cool, fry at 165C (330F) until brown and crispy.  This will likely need to be done in 3 to 4 batches to avoid overloading the fryer. 
  8. Immediately transfer potato chips to a large bowl, add some spice mix and toss to coat.


Ramen School in Osaka, Japan


Ramen School in Osaka, Japan


Over the holidays some families stick to age old traditions of cooking and baking holiday favorites.  My younger son Cooper and I make ramen! We love ramen and avidly explore every Bay Area ramen shop we can find.  When I travel across the nation and globally I do the same, looking for the best and most popular ramen I can find!  

When we make ramen over the holidays we often use the Momofuku recipe.  That is a great book with very creative recipes, many of which aren't too labor intensive, have a small number of steps and each recipe is packed with flavor.  Their ramen recipe, however, is quite a bit of work, which is why we do it over the holidays when we have time away from work and school to focus on doing it right!  

When we were in Japan last year, we were delighted to find out that there was a professional ramen school in Nagase, a short train ride from Osaka, and we made sure to sign up.  The Toranoana ramen school is run by ramen master Hiroshi Miyajima.  He trains chefs who want to open ramen restaurants, and also teaches one-day classes to amateur cooks.  Miyajima-sensei is, by his own admission, not fluent in English, so a translator allowed us to get the most of out his class.  Cooper was nine years old at the time and I love that cooking schools outside of the US are open to having children join their classes.  Cooper is a passionate cook, very responsible in the kitchen, and has an innate set of cooking skills that make him a natural in the kitchen!  It's often hard to find good classes for him to take at home but here they had no reservations about Cooper taking the class with me.  

We both learned a lot during the course.  In the morning we started preparing the chashu, dashi for tare, onsen eggs and broth.  We made the broth in just a few hours with a giant pressure cooker.  Partway through the morning we took a break to eat ramen that the chef had made in a course the day before and received a great lecture on ramen theory (as I now call it).  The morning ramen was chicken based, surprisingly rich and very tasty!  In the afternoon we climbed a set of  very steep stairs (maybe it was really a ladder) to find a few small rooms with machines for quickly making fresh noodles.  Cooper had a great time collecting the noodles quickly and efficiently as the came down the conveyor belt and placing them in a noodle tray.  At the conclusion of the class midway through the afternoon, we ate another bowl of the ramen that we had made that day.  This was pork based and just as good.  We were very full after two bowls of ramen, and actually couldn't find it in ourselves to eat any more ramen for the next few days!  This was actually very sad because we were in Japan!  The good news is that we made a quick recovery, and were able to resume our ramen regimen by the time we reached Tokyo a few days later!


Sous vide smoked BBQ brisket


Sous vide smoked BBQ brisket

BBQ is an art form and there's nothing more satisfying than cutting into your brisket to find that it is still moist and the fat has rendered perfectly.  And like any other art form, practice and persistence help to improve the final product.  It is so disappointing to spend a lot of money on a great piece of meat and spend a lot of time prepping and cooking that meat, only to end up with a chewy piece of shoe leather.  Combining sous vide with smoking is a perfect way to increase your chances of ending up with a moist and delicious brisket.  Sous vide ensures that the brisket will stay tender and moist, while the smoker provides that great bark and smoky flavor.  I combined the ChefSteps Smokerless Smoked Brisket recipe with actual smoking.  Also, because I have a CVap, I was able to keep the brisket whole rather than cutting it in two to fit it into sous vide bags.  Either way will work just fine.  A CVap is a controlled vapor oven which allows you to control the wet bulb and the dry bulb temperatures independently.  The key for this preparation is that there is a tremendous amount of water vapor in the oven which severely limits evaporation from the meat and keeps it as moist as cooking it sous vide in a bag.  In addition, the CVap provides precise, consistent low heat exactly like sous vide.  Check out the pictures below to see the steps for sous vide smoked brisket.