Family Meal

by Chef David Ferguson




Filtering by Tag: Recipes

Seared Blackened Tuna, Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Ruby Grapefruit, Purple Potato Chip, Green Onion Soubise, & Ginger Bell Pepper Puree

Prep Time:  60 mins    Cook Time:  1 hour    Serves:  2

A spate of warmer than usual weather had me thinking outside of typical Winter fare.  The bright colors and flavors of this dish can warm up your kitchen no matter what the weather is like outside.  I made my own blackening spice with chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, and cayenne.  However a store bought blend will do just as well.  Tuna can be cooked like steak, so a temperature range can be used.  I would suggest cooking the tuna quickly, just searing the outside in a very hot pan.  This keeps the texture and flavor you pay for in a nice piece of tuna, in tact.  

There are more than a few steps to this recipe, but don't be intimidated.  Completing each item before moving on to searing the tuna and plating is the easiest way to go about it.  



  • 1 lb fresh Ahi or higher grade Tuna; trimmed and cut into 2"x2"x4" logs
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 4 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • cilantro for garnish
  • grapefruit supremes for garnish


  • 1 cup cleaned shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 3" piece of ginger; pealed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt

Ginger Bell Pepper Puree-

  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup carrots; sliced
  • 1 3" piece of ginger; peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • salt to taste

Green Onion Soubise-

  • 1 large yellow onion; thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • 1 large bunch fresh green onions
  • salt to taste

Purple Potato Chip-

  • 3 purple potatoes
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups water


Place a sauce pot over high heat with  the components for the pickled mushrooms (water, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, lime juice) and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, place cleaned mushrooms, cilantro, and ginger in a medium sized mixing bowl.  When the mixture is boiling and the sugar has dissolved, pour the hot pickling bring over the mushrooms.  Set aside and let the mushrooms cool to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Place your bell pepper in a saute pan or a small baking tray and let it roast in the oven until the skin begins to blister (approx. 20 mins). Place the pepper in a bowl and cover with a towel to cool, removing the skin and seeds once it is cool enough to handle.  Meanwhile, place the sliced carrots, peeled ginger, and grapefruit juice in small  sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Simmer carrots and ginger until very tender, adding a tablespoon or so of water if the juice begins to evaporate.  Once tender, add the carrots, ginger, and cleaned bell pepper to a blender, reserving the poaching liquid.  With the blender running, add a tablespoon of the poaching liquid at a time to the solids until  a smooth puree forms.  Season with salt to taste then remove puree from the blender and set aside.

Add your sliced onion, butter, and milk to a sauce pot and set over medium heat.  Bring your pot up to a simmer and let cook until the onions become very, very tender (approx. 30 mins).  Strain out the onions, reserving the butter and milk.  Puree the onions in a blender with the whole, fresh green onions. Add the reserved milk and butter gradually until you reach the desired smooth and creamy texture.  Season with salt to taste then remove the soubise and set aside to cool.  

In another small pot, place potatoes, water, and salt over medium heat to simmer.  Poach potatoes until just tender, then remove from the water and let dry on paper towels or a wire rack.  When the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, slice into thin rounds.  Bake the sliced potatoes in the oven at 375 degrees until crisp (approx. 10 mins).  Once done, set aside to cool.

Mix together your seasoning in a shallow bowl.  Roll your trimmed tuna steaks in the seasoning blend, coating them liberally on all sides.  Place a saute pan over high heat and add 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil.  When the pan is very hot and just starting to smoke, place your tuna steak in and sear for 30-45 seconds on each side.  When all four sides are seared, let the tuna rest for 2-3 minutes before slicing.  

Fried Green Tomatoes, Burrata, Reduced Balsamic & Fresh Basil, with Arrabbiata Sauce

Prep Time:  30 min    Cook Time:  20 min    Serves:  2

As we approach the end to another summer, there are still a few treats left in the season.  This pairing of the southern classic, fried green tomatoes, and a spicy arrabiata sauce is a perfect way to burn through the abundance of fruit showing up on the vines right now.   Add in some fresh basil and some reduced balsamic vinegar and you have a late summer recipe to send the season out in style.

Arrabbiata means angry in Italian, denoting the spiciness in this tomato based sauce.  Simmer the red pepper flakes and garlic together in olive oil before adding in your tomatoes.  This will allow the heat and favor to diffuse into the oil and into your finished sauce.  

Simmer the vinegar slowly over low heat to reduce. This will ensure you don’t over reduce or scorch the syrup.  Reducing the vinegar not only makes it more sauce like, it concentrates the flavor.  The sweetness in the vinegar is important as it counters the heat in the arrabbiata, and makes the dish more balanced as a whole.    



  • 2 large green tomatoes (either roma or beefsteak); sliced
  • 8 oz burrata cheese
  • ½ cup fresh basil; chopped
  • ½ cup arugula; chopped
  • 2 large eggs; whisked
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Arrabbiata Sauce

  • 4 large san marzano or roma tomatoes; chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil; finely chopped
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste


Add olive oil, chopped garlic, and red pepper flakes to saute pan and simmer over medium/low heat.  Simmer for two-three minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in your chopped tomatoes and raise the heat to medium, continuing to simmer for another 10 minutes.  Stir and break down the tomatoes using a wooden spoon before transferring to a food processor.  Pulse the sauce until it achieves a light chunky consistency.  Add in the fresh chopped basil then set aside.

Add the vinegar to a small sauce pot and bring to a simmer.  Drop the heat to low and reduce the vinegar to the consistency of a light syrup.  Remove vinegar from the heat, add to a small bowl and set to the side.   

In three separate bowls add your eggs, flour, and cornmeal.  Take the sliced green tomatoes and dredge them first in the flour, then in the eggs, and finally in cornmeal, before setting aside on a wire rack.  

In a high sided pot add the cup of vegetable oil and set over medium/high heat. The oil should reach approximately 300 degrees.  If you don’t have a thermometer to measure this, a good way to test the oil is to just have a spare piece or two to test fry.  When the oil is at the proper temperature, the tomatoes should turn a golden brown after about a minute on each side.  Remove the tomatoes from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel before seasoning with salt and pepper.  

Toss the remaining chopped basil, arugula, and olive oil together with some salt and pepper.  Plate a small amount of the arrabbiata sauce before placing your fried tomatoes on top.  Top the tomatoes with the salad of basil and arugula, then add the burrata on top and drizzle the balsamic syrup.

Ricotta Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Sweet Corn Pudding, with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil Pesto

Prep time:  30 mins.    Cook time:  10 mins.    Serves:  2

Late August brings with it the rewards of a whole summer’s worth of work in the garden.  The greatest of those rewards for me being squash blossoms.  While squash blossoms great fresh and tossed in a salad or in a pasta dish, I wanted to make the blossoms the star in this recipe.  By stuffing them with a ricotta and herb mixture and then lightly batter frying, these blossoms become a  fresh and satisfying appetizer or light entree.  

Squash blossoms are very delicate and have to be handled with care when stuffing with the ricotta.  Slice the blossom open vertically, from the base to the top of the flower.  It’s better to slightly under fill the blossoms so that you have enough room to fold over and close the incision.  I would also suggest letting the  blossoms set up in the fridge for 20 to 30 mins after filling before battering and frying so that the filling does not run out once they hit the oil.  

While you could deep fry the blossoms in a more neutral flavored oil like vegetable, shallow frying in a pan with olive oil works great here.  Leaving a small bit of stem at the base of the blossom allows you to dip them in the batter and gently lower into the oil.  Fry the blossoms for one to two minutes on each side until a light golden brown then flip before allowing them to drain on paper towels.  


  • 8 cherry tomatoes; halved
  • basil leaves for garnish
  • ½ cup olive oil

Squash Blossoms-

  • 8 squash blossoms
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano; chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil; chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • ¾ cup seltzer
  • ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • salt & pepper to taste

Corn Pudding-

  • 1½ cup yellow sweet corn
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup light cream
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
  • salt & pepper to taste

Basil Pesto-

  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste


In a mixing bowl combine the ricotta, egg yolk, chopped oregano, chopped basil, salt, and pepper.  Cut open the squash blossoms and gently fill the flowers with the ricotta mixture, then set aside in the fridge to set.

Add the butter and corn to a small pot and lightly saute.  When the corn has begun to cook, add in the cream, sugar, salt and pepper and cook down until the cream has reduced by roughly half.  Add the corn mix into a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Add the corn mix back to the pot and return to heat, adding in the cornmeal.  Stir the corn pudding, adding in more cream or cornmeal in necessary until you achieve a thick, smooth texture.  Set aside.

Add the basil, walnuts, lemon juice, cheese, garlic to a food processor.  With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil and process until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper then set aside.  

In a bowl combine the seltzer, flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper with a whisk until well mixed.  Add the olive oil to a saute pan and place over medium heat.  Once the oil is heated, dip the blossoms one by one in the batter and then add to the pan.  Work in small batches, frying the blossoms for 1-2 minutes on each side.  

Plate the corn pudding before staggering your squash blossoms out.  Garnish with the cherry tomatoes, basil leaves,  and pesto.  

Ranier Cherries, Endive, Hazelnut Butter, with Goat Cheese, Black Pepper Bacon, and Cherry Vinaigrette

Prep Time:  30 mins.    Cook Time:  10 mins.    Serves:  2

Summer makes cooking very easy as it supplies us with a glut of beautiful and delicious ingredients to use.  At the top of both those categories are Ranier cherries.  Super sweet, with golden flesh and a bright red blush, you could do very well with just placing them in a bowl and letting your guests go at it.  For those interested in a slightly more elaborate treatment though, this salad balances the Ranier’s sweet flavor with the bitterness of endive,  smoky black pepper bacon, and creamy hazelnut butter.

For this recipe, it is recommended to use thick cut bacon.  Thinner cuts won’t break down properly and you’ll end up with bacon bits instead of the nice crispy lardons the recipe calls for.  Using a thick cut, and cutting the bacon into a small dice before rendering slowly will get you the best results.  Cook the bacon over low heat very slowly to cook all the fat out, then drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Reserve 3 tbsp of the bacon fat for your vinaigrette.

Toss the hazelnuts in olive oil and salt before roasting the oven, then cool. To remove any skins from the hazelnuts, simply dampen a towel and clean the skins off after roasting.  It's important to let them cool after roasting them in the oven.  Placing them directly in the food processor while still hot will cause the hazelnuts and oil to separate and prevent the “butter” from coming together.  If this happens, or if you accidentally add too much oil, add in a tbsp or 2 of cold water to bring everything back together and smooth out the texture.   You want to shoot for a very creamy and easily spreadable consistency.


  • 2 cups Ranier cherries; pitted and halved
  • 3 strips thick cut bacon; diced
  • 1 large endive spear; cleaned  and halved with leaves separated
  • 1 cup mache greens
  • ½ cup crumbled goat cheese

Hazelnut Butter

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 5+1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cold water (optional)

Cherry Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup Rainier cherries; pitted and halved
  • 1 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 3 tbsp reserved bacon fat
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme


Preheat your oven to 375°.  Toss the hazelnuts in a tbsp of olive oil with salt to season before transferring to a lined sheet tray and placing in your preheated oven.  Roast the hazelnuts for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer the nuts to a paper towel lined plate and place in the fridge to cool.  Once cool, place the nuts, honey, salt, and vanilla extract into a food processor.  With the motor running, slowly start to drizzle in the remaining 5 tbsp of olive oil and process until very smooth and creamy.  

Meanwhile, place a saute pan over medium-low heat and add in your bacon.  Render the bacon slowly until very crisp then transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

In a food processor add the cup of pitted cherries along with the champagne vinegar and chopped thyme.  With the motor running, add the reserved bacon fat a tbsp at a time.  Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl and chill.  

To assemble, run a long streak of the hazelnut butter across the plate before adding you endive leaves, mache, and cherries.  Fill the endive leaves like cups with the cherries, goat cheese, and bacon, before liberally adding dollops of the dressing around the plate.  

Grilled Plums, Burrata, Baby Arugula, Shaved Almonds, and Vanilla-Honey Vinaigrette with Reduced Balsamic

Prep Time:  10 mins    Cook Time:  25 mins    Serves:  2

For the uninitiated, burrata is a cream filled mozzarella cheese.  Burrata is a wonderful, fresh ingredient on it’s own, that is exceptional with just some bread and a drizzle of olive oil and salt.  In this salad though, it really stands out with it’s heavenly texture and indulgent creaminess.  To serve; slice each piece in half, exposing the filling. Gently turn each half inside out and plate.  Serving the cheese this way will enable you to cut it with a fork without chasing it all over the plate.

I make a version of this salad in mid to late summer with peaches.  Since it is still April though I used red plums, which are an excellent substitute.  Make sure to heat the grill for at least ten minutes before starting your plums and to clean the grill well with an oiled cloth.  This will ensure high heat and a clean surface so you get proper caramelization on the fruit.  

Reduced balsamic is possibly my favorite condiment.  It’s great on everything from salads to ice cream.  And it’s simple to make.  Simply simmer balsamic vinegar over medium-low heat until it achieves the consistency of a light syrup.  Use a small pot and stir often with a rubber spatula.  Remember the vinegar will thicken more once it cools so do not over reduce or you will get something more akin to molasses in consistency.  If this happens simply whisk in a teaspoon or so of cold water to thin the syrup back out.  


  • 2 red plums; halved and quartered
  • 16 oz fresh burrata; halved
  • 16 oz baby arugula
  • ⅓ cup fresh basil; chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint; whole leaf
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint; chopped
  • ⅓ cup shaved almonds
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup + ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar; reduced
  • Salt to taste


Pour balsamic into a small sauce pot and set over medium low heat.  Simmer balsamic, stirring often, until reduced to a light syrup.  Remove  the pan from heat and let the reduced balsamic cool.  

Preheat your grill with burners on high.  Toss plums in ⅓ cup olive oil so they are well covered.  Place your plums on the grill evenly spaced.  Grill plums 3-4 mins on each side, looking for good grill marks on each side before flipping.  Let plums cool on a wire rack.

In a medium mixing bowl, add in lemon juice, honey, and vanilla extract.  Whisk ingredients until they are well mixed.  Gradually drizzle in olive oil while whisking, then add chopped mint and season lightly with salt to taste.  

In a large mixing bowl, toss together baby arugula, basil, mint, and almonds.  Dress salad before serving on top on plums and burrata, finishing with a drizzle of reduced balsamic.


Skirt Steak, Arugula Salad, Queso Blanco, Red Pepper Coulis, & Chimichurri

Prep Time:  20 mins.    Cook Time:  12 mins.   Serves:  2

Skirt steak is a cut more prized for flavor than tenderness.   Fatter than filet with slightly more steps in preparation, it is not the usual choice for home cooks.  However, it is a great choice to match with the bitter, peppery arugula greens, and the sweetness of roasted bell peppers.

Skirt steak can come with a tough membrane that needs to be removed before cooking.  You can request that your local butcher remove it or you can remove it yourself at home.  If not cooked properly skirt steak can be tough.  A quick pan sear to medium rare or medium is the preferred technique.  Make sure to slice against the grain, as with most steaks, to maximize tenderness.  

I used baby arugula in the salad as I think it has better flavor than the more mature greens.  The only drawback to this is that baby arugula can be a bit stemmy.  While definitely a labor of love, removing the stem from the leaves will give you a nicer product.  


  • 1 lb skirt steak
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 cup baby arugula; stems removed
  • ⅓ cup sweet corn
  • ¼ cup crumbled queso blanco
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic;  chopped and divided
  • ½ shallot; chopped fine
  • ½ shallot; sliced thin into rings
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp olive oil; divided
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place red pepper directly on oven rack and cook 10-15 mins until skin begins to char.  Place pepper in a mixing bowl and cover with a towel.  Set aside.

Place a saute pan over medium heat and add in 1 tbsp olive oil along with chopped shallot and 1 clove chopped garlic.  Saute garlic and shallot for 3-5 minutes.  Once cooked, add the garlic and shallot to a food processor.  Return to the red pepper and remove the skin and seeds.  Add the cleaned pepper to the garlic and shallot in the food processor along with the sherry vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Process pepper on high until very smooth, then pass mixture through a fine mesh sieve.  Set aside.  

Add ¼ cup olive oil along reserved garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, red pepper flakes and lime juice to a mixing bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  

Place a large skillet over high heat.  Add vegetable oil and heat pan until very hot.  Season skirt steak heavily with salt and pepper before placing in pan.  Cook skirt steak 3-4 minutes on each side before removing from the pan and letting rest 5-10 minutes.

Toss together baby arugula, corn, and sliced shallot in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle salad with olive oil and fresh lime juice then season with salt and pepper.  Serve salad alongside skirt steak, topping with crumbled queso blanco.  Serve chimichurri over steak with red pepper coulis on side.  

Pappardelle, Pancetta, Sugar Peas, & Fried Sage, with Shallot White Wine Sauce

Prep Time:  30 min    Cook Time:  15 min    Serves:  2


Spring has begun it’s slow but inevitable conquest of winter.  While that victory may come a little slower in New England, I can’t help but get excited about some of my favorite spring ingredients. This pasta has a light sauce to feature the freshness of the components, but is also hearty enough to get you through those cold early spring nights.   

The pancetta should be rendered slowly under low heat to get all the fat out and achieve a nice, crisp texture.  Reserving the rendered fat provides a flavorful base to build your sauce from.  Make sure to also reserve some of the pasta water to add additional flavor, and a bit of texture to the sauce as well.  

The pasta should be cooked al dente, and finished in the pan with the rest of your ingredients in the sauce.  Finishing the pasta in the sauce not only allows flavor to soak in, but it also releases some of the the starch from the pasta as well.  This makes the pasta “stand-up” on the plate and makes the dish more cohesive, not just lose ingredients tossed together.  


  • 4 oz dried pappardelle
  • 1 cup pancetta; chopped
  • 1 cup English sweet peas; picked and rinsed
  • 1/2 shallot; finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic; finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese; shaved
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage; chopped + 6 whole leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp butter


Place a pan with olive oil over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and lower to medium-low heat, allowing the pancetta to render slowly.  Once all the fat has rendered and the pancetta has crisped, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Reserve the rendered fat.

Add the shallots and garlic to the pan with the pancetta fat and cook over medium heat, stirring often.  When the garlic has started to brown and the shallots turn translucent, turn off the heat to avoid a flame-up and add your wine.  Turn the heat back up to medium and reduce the wine until there is about 2 tbsp left in the pan.  Take the sauce off the heat and set aside.

Add vegetable oil to a pan and set over medium heat.  Test the temperature of the oil with one of the whole sage leaves.  The oil should be hot enough to fry the leaf without totally burning it. Too cold and the oil will soak into the leaf and make it soggy.  When the oil has come up to temperature add the rest of your leaves and fry quickly, removing from the oil with a slotted spoon and placing on paper towels to drain.  

Meanwhile fill a large pot with water and salt heavily.  Your pasta water should be almost as salty as sea water.  Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil before adding the pappardelle.   Cook the pasta until al dente before removing from the pot and adding to your shallots, garlic and wine.  Reserve some of the pasta water and add to the sauce pan as well, enough to just cover the pasta.  Return the sauce pan to medium heat, adding peas, and fresh sage.  Cook pasta in sauce, adding more reserved water if necessary, until the sauce thickens and coats pasta evenly.  Add in your reserved pancetta and butter, tossing to mix.  Plate your pasta, crumbling fried sage over the top and garnishing with shaved Pecorino Romano.


Stuffed Pork Loin with Dates & Golden Raisins, Salad of Arugula, Fennel & Blood Orange, with Blood Orange Gastrique

Prep Time:  1 hour    Cook Time:  30 min    Serves: 4

Pork loin is a fantastic protein for its versatility.  It’s also cheap, which is arguably a better quality.  This dish however, is luxurious and would be at home on any fine dining menu. Serve this to impress guests at a dinner party, or as a treat for a weekend dinner with the family.

A note on cooking pork.  Until quite recently, it had been suggested to cook your pork all the way through to 165 degrees.  Anyone who has had a dry pork loin before will know this is overdone.  To the joy of chefs everywhere -who had been insisting on the change for years - recommended temperature has been lowered to 145 degrees.  Since a stuffed roast pork loin is relatively large, resting the pork like a steak will allow it to come up to temperature gradually without risk of overcooking.  I recommend cooking your pork to an internal temperature between 135-140 degrees in  the oven, and allowing it to  rest and finish off the heat   This will produce pork with a slight rose-hue in the middle, but it is most definitely done.  The pork will be far more tender, juicy and flavorful at this temperature, rather than tough and dry.


  • 1 2-3lb pork loin roast - butterflied
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil


  • ½ cup chopped seedless dates
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 large shallot - finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic - minced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 large fennel bulb - sliced thin on mandolin, leaves reserved
  • 2 large blood oranges - skin and pith removed, cut into segments
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • gastrique
  • ½ cup fresh blood orange juice
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
  • ¼ orange blossom honey
  • 3 tbsp chicken stock


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium heat.  When the butter has melted, add in the shallots and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic has browned and shallots have become translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add dates, raisins, and walnuts to the pan and stir to incorporate all ingredients thoroughly.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until walnuts start to brown and stuffing has become fragrant.  Remove stuffing from heat and add mix to a bowl and set aside.

Lay butterflied pork loin out on your cutting board and season heavily with salt and pepper.   Lay a thin layer of stuffing over the entirety of the pork loin and, beginning at one end, slowly roll up the loin into a tight cylinder and lay seam side down.  Using kitchen twine, tie the roast securely in 1” intervals.  Season the outside heavily with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a large skillet with 3 tbsp vegetable over high heat.  When the pan and oil are hot, sear all sides of the loin until golden brown.  Remove the pork loin from the pan.  Place pork on a lined baking sheet, and roast in the oven  for approximately 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 135-140 degrees.   Remove from oven and let rest 10-15 mins.

Meanwhile, place a small sauce pot over low heat and add honey, vinegar, and blood orange juice.  Allow juice and vinegar to reduce over low heat until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon, about 15 minutes.  Add chicken stock and reduce again, another 3-4 minutes.  Remove gastrique from heat and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.  Assemble salad of arugula, fennel, and blood orange in a large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Slice pork loin diagonally on a bias and serve alongside salad, drizzling salad and pork  with gastrique.  Garnish with fennel leaves.

Pan Roasted Salmon, Red Quinoa Pilaf with Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Sautéed Spinach, & Brown Butter Vinaigrette

Prep Time:  30 min    Cook Time:  40 min    Serves:  2


Cooking fish can be a bit intimidating.  A beautiful fish filet can go from perfectly cooked to overdone in a snap, and leave you with something dry and unpalatable.  However, once you get the timing down you will be producing flavorful dishes with tender, flaky flesh and a perfect crisp crust.   Salmon, due to its higher fat content and darker flesh, is more forgiving than white fish to cook. You can actually take temperature on a piece of salmon and cook it much like a steak from medium-rare to well done.  For this recipe I will be cooking the salmon to medium, but if you like your fish a little more well done, just add a couple more minutes in the oven.  To save yourself some time and effort, ask your fish provider to remove the skin for you. They should be more than happy to accommodate your request and it saves you a step in your preparation. 

Quinoa often carries a reputation as a bland health food, but this pilaf is hearty with lots of bold flavor. The sweet potatoes and onions balance nicely off the slight bitterness of the spinach.  Quinoa, like most grains, cooks at a proportion of 1:2 grain to liquid.  Always rinse your quinoa in cold water before cooking to remove excess starch and add in your onion, spinach and sweet potatoes at the very end of cooking.

When preparing the brown butter vinaigrette, be careful not to scorch the milk solids in the butter.  Cook the butter over medium heat.  At first the butter will foam up before the milk solids separate and settle to the bottom of the pan.  At this point, watch the color of the solids closely as they shift from a light golden hue to a darker brown color.  Brown butter smells heavenly and carries a complex nutty flavor that adds a depth and intricacy to anything it’s added to. 


  • 8 oz salmon fillets; skin off
  • 1 large sweet potato; peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 2 ½  cups raw spinach; separated. 2 cups whole, ½ cup chiffonade
  • ½ cup fresh basil; chiffonade (fine ribbon cut)
  • ¼ cup smoked almonds; chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic; minced
  • ½ large yellow onion
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil; separated
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 6 oz unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp brown mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Season both sides of your salmon liberally with salt and pepper and set aside.  Add your cubed sweet potatoes to a bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the the sweet potatoes to evenly coat and spread out on a lined baking tray.  Place the sweet potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes and then set aside, they should be fork tender at this point. 

Meanwhile, place quinoa and vegetable stock into a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  The grains should appear soft and translucent, and the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge of the grain.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a medium sauté pan and add garlic.  Allow the garlic to slightly color and become fragrant before adding your onions.  Cook onions until they become tender and translucent, about 5 minutes, then add 2 cups spinach.  Toss the spinach in the pan and cook lightly, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Allow the spinach to begin to wilt before removing everything from the pan and incorporating into the quinoa.  Cover and set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until browned but not burned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.  In a blender, combine the vinegar, olive oil, shallot and mustard. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the reserved butter and blend until thickened. Season to taste and set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

Place a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the remaining tbsp of oil.  Allow the pan to become very hot, with light wisps of smoke coming off before placing the salmon gently into the pan.  Immediately put the pan in the oven and cook for 8 minutes, allowing for extra time for more well done fish.  When you are ready to serve, dress the chiffonade basil, spinach, and chopped almonds with the vinaigrette and serve the small salad atop the salmon.


Poached Pears, Lavender Earl Grey Mascarpone, Honey Graham 'Earth', & Candied Honey Chip

Prep Time:  20 min    Cook Time:  1 hour    Serves:  2

This is a perfect dessert for a winter dinner party, elegant but not too rich.  Early grey tea, honey, and lavender marry together well and play off the tanginess of the mascarpone, which  adds a luxurious texture.  The prep and assembly for this is also refreshingly simple, and the components can be made a day ahead of time to give you one less thing to worry about when entertaining guests. The only thing to watch for when making this is the honey chip.  Use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on a baking tray and monitor closely to ensure you don’t burn the sugar.  


  • 2 ripe (but still firm) bosc pears; peeled, halved, and cored
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strong earl grey tea
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 4 sprigs fresh lavender
  • ½ cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp blackstrap rum
  • 4 honey graham crackers


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soak pears in water and 1 tsp of lemon juice to keep from browning.  Combine white wine, tea, honey, vanilla extract, lavender, and remaining tsp of lemon juice in a medium sauce pot over medium heat.  Stir mixture until the honey dissolves and gently add pears to poaching liquid cut side down.  Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until pears become very tender; about 30 minutes. Flip the pears over about halfway through to ensure they poach evenly.

Meanwhile, put the graham crackers in a food processor and run until they become powdered, set aside for later.  

Once the pears have finished remove from the poaching liquid and drain on a wire rack.  Cool the pears in the fridge.  Bring the poaching liquid back up to a low boil and reduce to about ¾ cup.  Reserve ¼ cup of the syrup.  Drizzle a small amount of the syrup onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking tray and place in the oven.  Monitor the syrup in the oven closely, once it begins to bubble and brown slightly at the edges, remove the tray from the oven and place to the side to cool.  

Add the mascarpone, sugar, and rum to a large bowl of a stand mixer and whisk.  Add in the reserved ¼ cup syrup and whisk on high until peaks form.  Place the mascarpone in the fridge to set.  Reserve the remaining syrup to drizzle over the pears once you are ready to serve.  

Braised Beef Short Ribs, Sweet Carrot Puree, Pan Roasted Baby Potatoes, Button Mushrooms, & Seared Onions

Prep Time:  40 min    Cook Time:  2 ½ hrs    Serves:  2

Winter weather and colder temperatures call for a hearty braise.  This recipe may seem daunting, but fortunately most of the work is done in the oven. Developing the flavors gradually will help ensure you have a robust dish with decadent texture. Trust me; it’ll be well worth it in the end.

To begin, sear the ribs on high heat in a large pan on all sides. Sautéing the carrots, celery and onions in the leftover drippings will produce caramelization and build the deep flavors that a good braise delivers. 

When preparing the carrots, cut them into equal size slices and simmer in water with sugar and salt.  Cook the carrots until they are extremely tender, and reserve the liquid used to simmer them to make your puree.  Gradually add the reserved liquid as you process the carrots so you don’t accidentally add too much.  

The mushrooms are cooked twice; once in the oven to remove excess water, and then finished in a pan with butter when you’re ready to serve.  It’s important to cook them this way, as simply placing them in the pan first will result in soggy mushrooms that have steamed in their own liquid.

Cook the onions quickly in butter over med-high heat.  You want to cook them fast with higher heat and let them retain some texture while still picking up some flavor from the pan.  

When the ribs are finished, strain the solids out of the braising liquid and reduce until thickened for use as a sauce.  You may need to skim the liquid to remove some excess fat.  Simply remove the thin translucent layer of fat that will accumulate on top with a ladle and allow the liquid to reduce until it coats a spoon.  Stir in a small knob of cold butter to finish the sauce off the heat.


● 1 lb bone in beef short ribs

● 48 oz beef stock

● 1 cup  Amber ale

● 2 celery stalks, cut into ¼” slices

● 7  medium carrots, peeled and divided (2 cut into ¼” slices, 5 cut into 1/2 “ rounds)

● 1 ½  yellow onion, divided (1 rough chopped, ½ sliced into ¼” crescents)

● 2 cup button mushrooms, chopped

● 2 oz bacon

● 6 baby yukon potatoes

● 6 oz chives, divided (4 oz whole, 2 oz chopped fine)

● 4 oz thyme, whole

● 4 cloves garlic, minced

● 2  tbs olive oil

● 4 tbs vegetable oil, divided

● 4 tbs butter, divided

● 3 cups water

● ¼ cup granulated sugar

● salt and pepper to taste

● flat leaf parsley for garnish


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place a large pan over high heat with 2 tbsp vegetable oil. While the pan is heating, season all sides of your short ribs liberally with salt and pepper.  When the pan has come up to temperature, begin searing the short ribs for 1 minute on each side.  When all sides have been seared, remove the short ribs from the pan and set aside.  

Remove any used oil from the pan. Reduce to medium heat and add in remaining 2 tbs of vegetable oil, garlic and rough chopped onions, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 2 minutes before adding in the celery and carrots.  Allow carrots and celery to begin to brown before pouring in the beer. Begin stirring with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to remove any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue stirring to allow the beer to reduce and evaporate before returning the short ribs to the pan. Once in the pan, pour in enough stock to almost cover them leaving only the very top of the short rib exposed.  Add in the whole chives, thyme, and bacon and bring to a boil. Put on the  lid and place   in the oven for two hours. 

Coat the chopped mushrooms evenly with 2 tbsp of olive oil before spacing them apart on a lined sheet tray. Roast in the oven for 15-20 mins to remove any excess moisture and then set aside.  

Combine the remaining carrots with the water, sugar, and a liberal pinch of salt in a small sauce pot.  Set the pot over medium heat and bring up to a simmer, allowing the carrots to cook until very tender.  Strain off the carrots, reserving a ¼ cup of the liquid.  Add carrots to a blender and begin blending on low, gradually easing towards high to avoid splatter.  Carefully pour in reserved liquid in stages, pureeing the carrots until very smooth.  Season with salt (to taste) and set aside. 

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and add in 1 tbsp butter.  Place the reserved onions into the pan and season lightly with salt.  Allow the onions to cook until they soften and start to brown, tossing occasionally.  Reserve the onions once they have finished.

Place potatoes in a medium sauce pot and cover with water.  Season the water heavily with salt and set the potatoes over medium heat to simmer until fork tender.  Remove the potatoes from the water and slice in half.  

Once the short ribs are fork tender, remove from the pan and strain off the solids in the liquid.  Return the liquid and short ribs back to the pan and reduce over medium high heat.  

Finish the mushrooms and potatoes while the braising liquid is reducing. Place a medium sized pan over medium heat and melt 1 tbsp of butter. Place the potatoes cut-side down into the pan.  Cook for two minutes on each side until golden brown, remove from pan, and set aside.

Return pan to high heat, along with 1 tbsp of butter. Add the mushrooms and allow to brown, tossing occasionally. Once browned, incorporate the chopped chives and potatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste.  .  

Once the braising liquid has reduced to the point where it will coat a spoon, remove the short ribs.  Add remaining 1 tbsp of butter and stir to emulsify.  Serve the short ribs, potatoes, and mushroom over the carrot puree spooning the reduced sauce on top. Finish by garnishing with whole parsley and the browned onions. Enjoy!

Mushroom Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms & Asparagus Tips

Prep Time:  1 hour    Cook Time:  40 min    Serves:  4

Risotto is an amazing dish.  Like all great food, properly preparing risotto requires attention and love.  You can't just walk away from risotto and come back to it later, you need to be there to develop texture and flavor.  Similarly, the mushrooms and asparagus in this recipe are given their own special treatment before bringing everything together, but this also pays off in texture and flavor.  

I only used the tops of the asparagus and sauteed them quickly over medium high heat.  Roasting the mushrooms in the oven first will help to remove excess water, so that when they are finished by sauteing in butter they crisp up and sear instead of just steaming.  Don't add the mushrooms and asparagus until the risotto is finished cooking and you have already added the cheese and butter.  If it becomes too tight, add a little more stock to develop more of a sauce.  Finish with fresh chives and shaved Parmesan and a drizzle of olive or truffle oil.

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  • 2/3 cup Arborio rice (or similar risotto rice)
  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 cup asparagus tips
  • 12 oz shiitake mushrooms (or hen or the woods, Porcini, oyster, morels, etc...)
  • 2 oz fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup shaved Parmesan
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 tbsp butter (divided)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil or truffle oil for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Wipe the mushrooms down with a damp cloth to remove any  lose dirt.  Toss the mushrooms with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl to coat.  Spread mushrooms out on a lined sheet pan and place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove once done and set aside to dry.

Slice the tops off 1 pound of asparagus to yield approximately 1 cup.  Make sure to cut the tips into appropriate sized pieces, about 1/2".  Heat  2 tbsp butter in a medium saute pan over medium high heat and add the asparagus.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss, cooking until just tender then set aside.

Return to your mushrooms.  Heat 2 tbsp butter in a medium saute pan  over medium high heat and add your mushrooms, tossing and cooking until browned.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Chop into 1/4" slices. 

Prepare shallots and garlic and heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add shallots and garlic, cooking until the shallots become translucent and the garlic becomes aromatic.  Add the risotto rice to the pan and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.  Pour in the wine and continue stirring, letting the wine evaporate completely.  Once the wine has evaporated, begin to ladle in the chicken stock.  Continue stirring constantly as the stock evaporates and you continue to add more one ladle at a time.  It is important to stir the rice as this constant motion is what develops the starches that creates the creaminess in risotto.  Continue stirring and adding stock until the rice reaches an al dente texture (tender but still slightly firm to the bite).  Add in the cheese and finish with butter and the chopped chives.  Toss in asparagus and mushrooms, adding more stock if the rice becomes too tight and needs more sauce.  Plate and garnish with a drizzle of olive or truffle oil.