Welcome, bienvenidos to Cook and the Fly
In this blog you'll find Mexiterranean food pictures and recipes, fishing stories, random thoughts and snippets of my new life in Southern Baja.


Grilled squids with carrot neige, chickpeas and charmoula

You can substitute small tender squids for baby octopus, cuttlefish or slices of THICK octopus tentacle.
Even though it might look complex and labour intensive, a bit of planning ahead and good prep will make this dish a breeze...

1) Chickpeas: you'll have them soaked overnight . Rinse them and boil them with some garlic, bay leaves and some chili flakes.Give them 20 minutes a full boil, check for doneness and salt.
When tender, but not soft, shut the heat and let cool.

2) Carrot neige: while the chickpeas boil, prepare this.
Peel and slice carrots in round, quite thin (couple mills), place them in a pan  with a big chi¿unk of butter, a good amount of sugar and enough water to almost cover the carrots.
Add a small splash of vanilla and simmer  until tender.
Transfer to a blender, add enough cream and blend life out of it...
If you feel fancy and proper, go ahead and strain.

3) Charmoula:Think you're making a pesto with half cilantro and half Italian parsley. Add garlic, paprika, coriander and cumin ( all to taste..), salt and lemon juice. Lube with a generous amount of olive oil and pulse in a robot or a blender until you achieve the "pesto texture".
Flavour wise, you'll want to taste the citrus of the lemon and of the coriander seeds, above the cumin... but still the herbs are going to be there..present and fragrant.

4) Protein: marinate briefly with vegetable oil, garlic, S&P and a bit oh heat.
Place on a HOT grill and cook until tender and nicely charred/marked on the outside.

That's it, just put the dish together as in the pic and enjoy...wine? BEER!
Buon Appetito! ; )


Scallops carpaccio with peas, radish and herbs

Really quick dish that takes advantage of the fresh, tender, sweet peas of spring.
Start by placing your serving dish in the freezer and also by sanitizing your cutting board and your knife.

Prepare the sauce: place shelled peas in the blender, add a bit of S&P and a generous splash of best olive oil, a touch of Dijon mustard and a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Blend like a madman and reserve, chilled.

Clean a few radishes, dice them as small as you can and mix them with the herb of your choice (basil and mint work great together, or fresh thyme, whatever you like...), a bit more of S&P and olive oil.

Slice the scallops across and gently pound the slices flat. Placing them between two sheets of plastic will help you handling them without rips.

Now, on your chilled plate pour some of the blended peas and arrange the sliced scallops on it.

Sprinkle with the reserved radish and herbs dressing and you're ready to serve, alongside a good, buttery Chardonnay.


A good option would also be the addition of a carrot,celery and onion mignonette, which would bring out further the smell of spring.


Fennel, beets and orange salad

Here's the recipe, as promised.
It's a great salad on its own or an even better bed for a chunk of grilled/seared fish....

So, very easy...
Slice very thinly  some fennel, beet and radish.
Also peel and slice an orange, collecting the juice in a bowl.
Make sure you remove the pits and the white peel from the orange slices.

Toss everything in the bowl, adding lemon juice, S&P and the best olive oil you have.
Don't forget the beets will tend to dye everything red, so be careful...

Place some sturdy lettuces in the plate and arrange the vegetables on top and the orange slices.
Drizzle liberally with the dressing and you're done...

Now, a nice addition to this salad would be dry cranberries and almonds, or toasted pumpkinseed.

Personally I would not add any cheese, but cooking is like rock'n'roll, so feel free to improv.



Pan seared snook fillet with roasted turnip & lavender and sweet pepper & fennel

Down here in Baja Sur we have plenty of snook... which also makes for a great fishery. The catches are few and apart, specially with a fly, but they're BIG.

If you don't have snook handy, halibut, bass, striped bass, grouper will do as well, just leave the skin on.

Start by wrapping peeled and cubed turnips in a piece of foil along with a sprinkle of lavender seeds, S&P and a splash of olive oil. Place them in a medium hot oven until soft( around 25 minutes).

In a skillet saute in olive oil 1 measure each of thinly sliced bell peppers and fennel bulb and 1 measure of diced onion. Add a bit of garlic, a few fennel seeds to boost the flavour and season with S&P .
Once everything is nice and tender, blend the life out of it and add just enough sugar to balance the flavours. Check for salt and reserve.

Once the turnips are tender, in bowl, mash them like they were potatoes,add a liberal amount of room temperature butter (how much? Think Paula Deen....) and whip them nice and fluffy.

Season the fish fillet with S&P, rub a bit of vegetable oil on the skin and place it SKIN SIDE DOWN in a HOT skillet and leave it there undisturbed until you'll see the sides turn milky white.
At this point, flip the fillet over, shut the heat off and let the residual heat in the pan finish the cooking... for a 1 inch thick piece allow around 1 minute for medium... tough to say, so keep your eyes on the fish.
You're done! Assemble it like in the pic, if you like, and maybe serve a little fennel salad next to it

Recipe to come next...


         Buon Appetito!


Warm molten chocolate cakes (base recipe)

I am not in the habit to write the exact amounts  of the ingredients in my recipes, because I feel that so much depends on one's taste and ..touch.
I also believe that cooking is freedom and one should rely more on personal taste and technique than following a precisely recipe.

A always, though, there's the exception...

Baking, and baking with chocolate I think, is such an exception.

The following is the recipe for my take on Vong's famous signature Lava cake.
This recipe is for small individual muffin size cakes and you can truly be as inventive and daring as you want with toppings, sauces and pairings.

imagine placing a marshmallow in it before baking it and top it with crumbled cookies, or add anise or got chillies to the batter... you name it! ; )

This bad boys had Grand Marnier mixed in the batter and were served with an orange creme Anglaise

Here it goes:

9 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 tsp. flour
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Butter four 4muffin. molds. Dust each mold with 1 tsp. of the flour, tapping out excess, then put on a baking sheet.

2. Put chocolate and the remaining 8 tbsp. butter into a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water over medium-low heat and heat until almost completely melted, about 10 minutes. (Note: don't let the boiling water touch the bowl)

3. In the while, beat eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together in a mixing bowl until thick and pale .

4. Whisk chocolate and butter together, then add to egg mix, stirring until just combined. Whisk in the remaining 2 tsp. flour.

5. Divide batter between the molds and bake for 6–7 minutes (center of cakes will be very soft). Invert cakes onto 4 individual dessert plates and let rest, do not touch it,  for about 10 seconds. Lift up an edge of each mold to let cake fall out onto plate. Dust cakes with cocoa and serve immediately.....

Super success guaranteed!


Ojo Del Toro! Eat or be eaten: Panga fishing for Baja's big-game fishes.

The following is a great article I came across on the internet. Full of good pointers and tips for whoever is planning a trip down here, in the Baja... Enjoy.

Ojo Del Toro!

Eat or be eaten: Panga fishing for Baja's big-game fishes.

  • By: Scott Sadil
  • Photography by: Gary Bulla

A Jack Close-up
Valente Lucero captains the panga La Venadita, “the little deer,” off the shores of Punta Arena, an hour by car south of La Paz, Baja California Sur. Valente is known amongst family and friends as Venado, a nickname earned at a younger age when the seductions of local tequila often inspired him to hop about the pueblo of Agua Amarga like a deer and, on more than one occasion, climb into the arms of a cardón cactus and leap, like a frightened doe, to the desert floor below.
Halfway through a week spent fishing bluewater off Punta Arena with the Lucero family, taking turns in pangas captained by a cadre of in-laws, cousins and nephews, I discover that, thanks to Valente, my nickname is now El Fiero. At first I’m flattered. In my broken Spanish, I conjugate derivatives from a source that seems to include words involving fire, ferocity, something wild, an animal or beast. Yet two mornings later, Israel Lucero, my captain for the day, informs me that fiero is also a variation of feo—that is, Spanish for “ugly.”
Rising light and the last hints of cool night air trace our wake as we beat a course across a wind-swell sweeping through the channel between Punta Arena and the southern tip of Isla Cerralvo. About us, pangeros stand motionless as seated horsemen, affixed to the handles of gleaming outboards, their boats rising and falling in graceful rhythms that seem only remotely connected to the blistering wail of four-stroke engines. Ahead, tucked tight to Cerralvo’s steep barren beaches, we see the panga of our carnaderos, or bait guys, whose wares comprise the single most important ingredient—beyond fuel itself—to our day’s anticipated success.

Counterclockwise from top: A dorado comes to the gaff (some of these fish are kept for food)
Yet “success” seems suddenly a relative notion. Try as I might, while daylight sharpens and the heaviness of the coming heat begins already to settle over the water, I can’t quite resuscitate the feelings of respect I’ve believed showered upon me each time another bluewater beast has, for days running now, eaten my fly, threatening to pull me off the bow—or over the gunwale—and into the drink. “El Fiero!” the captains, young and old, have taken to calling, as I struggle to stay upright, lurching about a panga’s bow, the rod tip buried in bouncing seas far beneath my shuffling bare feet. El Fiero? The Ugly One? Israel settles us idling just outside the cluster of pangas exchanging U.S. dollars for scoops of wriggling sardines—and immediately, not a short cast away, a toro, a big jack crevalle, explodes through the surface, leaving behind shock waves as if a sack of Red-E-Crete were somehow pitched into the sea.
El Fiero? What do these guys think this is anyway? I ask myself, swinging the 12-weight up onto the bow. A fricking beauty contest?
Sometimes you wish it were. For the truth is, there’s a tenor to Baja panga fishing that can escalate quickly to the level of hysterics—oftentimes at the expense of anglers foolish enough to feel they can match muscle with the alleged aim of their double-hauled casts. Methods are simple, straightforward, techniques as subtle as those found on a high school wrestling mat. What you have, of course, is the richest bluewater fishery in the world, where every fish that swims can be and is preyed upon by something larger and faster than itself—a kind of piscine oneupmanship that doesn’t end until you’ve reached a point so far beyond the effective limits of open skiffs and fly-fishing equipment that you might as well try to hit major league fastballs with a toothbrush.

A yellowfin tuna goes back where it came from.
Not that anyone practices restraint. I’ll have to mention this someplace, so I might as well get it over with right here: While fishing with Juan Carlos, another Lucero family captain, I saw, for the first time in my life, a marlin within casting range. I made that cast, a fairly clever backhand throw to keep the fly from passing over the captain and Tom Kucera, the other ranchero in the boat—and the marlin ate the fly.
So absurd does this all still seem to me, so beyond anything I’ve ever imagined doing or even wanting to do as an angler, that I find the memory of it faintly whimsical, quite unlike the overblown terror I generally remember experiencing during encounters with other big fish. Don’t get me wrong: Juan Carlos and I certainly gave it our best shot. And I recall, most fondly, the 17 consecutive jumps the fish made when, after leading the boat for 10 or 15 minutes toward the horizon, it finally got serious about trying to separate itself from the annoying pressure I was putting on it with my picayune 12-weight. The 350 yards of gel-spun backing contained on this particular reel seemed utterly pointless were it not for the steady hum of the Honda pressing the panga forward. Admirably enough, after well over an hour, we did recover all the line, and at one point I actually hoisted the butt of the leader above the water. By this time I had given my gloves to Juan Carlos, who was game to take a stab at billing the fish, a shot that seemed to me was asking for a hell of a lot more trouble than any of us deserved. As long as a man, something over 100 pounds, I’d guess, the fish was tired but still cruising alongside us at a stately clip, sometimes a silhouette, sometimes a ghostly shadow, capable of moving off from the boat without apparent effort.

Here’s the drill: Get on the water early, and acquire a supply of sardines (live ones). Cast your imitation of frightened sardine at likely spot while your guide tosses real sardines (also frightened) at same. Then hold on.
Later, when I asked Juan Carlos if he thought we had done something wrong, if there was anything we might have done differently, he shook his head and said, “Mal suerte.”
Had he ever caught a marlin? I asked.
Plenty of them, he answered, smiling in a way that reminded me of the response you might get if you asked a teenager about his success with girls. But this would have been his first fly-caught marlin.
“Possible otra vez, Fiero?” he added, gunning the engine to reclaim the five or so miles we estimated we had covered since the marlin ate the fly.
More routinely, however, consider the fuss caused by those toros—jacks like the ones that erupted each morning while we purchased bait, or cruised the surfline off Punta Arena, furious beasts crushing chum flung by our pangeros as we drifted with wind and current just outside the shore break. The focused close-ups and inshore shots invite you to fish your 10-weight because, well, hey, come on, man, you’re practically surf-fishing. How often do you even see a 10-pound fish this close to dry sand? No matter that here and there the fish that just hit the bait again seems on the order of that sack of building aggregate. “We are light-tackle enthusiasts!” you warble, dancing in the bow to the sway of swell and the dampened vibrations pulsing behind 300 grains of recently airborne love.
The problem, however, is if you hook said toro on anything lighter than your toughest stick, and it does in fact turn out to be closer to 20 pounds than 10, you’re going to suck the life out of a fish that nobody, not even the village pariah dogs, will eat—while the panga captain and your partner will sit in the stern, drink a soda, split a sandwich, and try once again to break through the language barrier—while you’re in the bow doing something that soon takes on the elegance of digging post-holes for a backyard fence.
Which isn’t to suggest that the sport in question is nothing but roll-up-your-sleeves, kick-ass, run-and-gun angling. Even those toro prove elusive if you persist on “shooting the covey.” Fail to cast to individual fish and, shocking though it seems, your fly may go unnoticed as the big jacks slash about and wallop the bait.
It was Valente, the most experienced, senior and gifted of the Lucero family fly-fishing captains, who urged me one afternoon to place the fly as close as possible to single, chummed sardinas, insisting that I needed to get my cast to land simultaneously in the same spot as his own. Fair-skinned and slight, with a nest of curly black hair he keeps hidden under a hat tied so tightly under his chin that the straw brim folds down around his face, Valente has embraced the passionate and sometimes reckless efforts of Baja panga fly fishers, beginning with the early attempts by Gary Bulla, my host on this trip, to devise certain protocol for the game. Using live chum to locate fish or bring them to the surface is now standard practice in Baja panga fishing, making it possible for captains far less talented than old hands like Valente to bring plenty of fish to the boat. The telling detail concerning Valente, however, is that in his panga, La Venadita, he doesn’t carry a radio—or any other means to communicate with members of his extended family’s fleet.
Certainly there’s a bit of old school Luddite to Valente; no doubt most of us would have stayed out of some of the cacti we’ve scaled over the years if we’d had a computer or cell phone or iPod to keep us occupied through the night. But by choosing to fish without relying on frequent contact with other captains, Valente submits each day to the strength of his experience, creativity and intuition, venturing into a private world divorced from the incessant chatter and play-by-play droning about the other boats.
I received instructions to pinpoint my casts while Valente had us backed up close to a heavy shore-break, the result of an early season tropical depression that sent surf marching up the East Cape. Jacks and the occasional roosterfish coursed the margins of the surf, here one moment and gone the next. We had reached the point in the drift where Valente and I were keeping our eyes out for a big wave set—yet as the panga dipped and rose, we also fell into synch, and the next time the fish showed, we both watched as sardine and fly fell to the water and immediately disappeared as one down the maw of a vicious, heart-stopping grab.
It didn’t take a lot of Spanish to explain to Valente the idea of a bullseye—en el ojo del toro!—and while he spun the engine and headed us away from the surf, I staggered about laughing on the bow, picturing that pretty cast while struggling to prevent any more backing from disappearing off the reel.
“Andale, Fiero!” chimed Valente.
Still, there’s no denying that some of the sport offered up on Baja pangas proves about as subtle as a bar fight. Much of what happens while fishing over offshore structure—reefs, sea mounts, pinnacles and other fish-attracting contours located by means of triangulation that leave us gringos spinning in our seats—is little more than a test of strength and the virtues of knots and equipment. Your captain, in effect, is the guy who is really fishing: you’re job is simply to launch the fly, “find it” as your line sinks and straightens in the current, and then hang on tight. Skipjack, bonita and yellowfin tuna leave you pinned to the gunwales to your heart’s content . . . and if I sound, for an instant, like I might have anything against such sport, please note that I just ran out of painkillers for that procedure performed on sun damage to the back of my casting hand. I’d go clamming with a fly rod if I thought I could get those suckers to bite.

A roosterfish is returned to the Sea of Cortez.
There are, of course, notable exceptions to the deepwater game—sporting opportunities that have more to do with angling skills than Kevlar loops, triple-edged cutting-point fly hooks, your weight-training regime, or second mortgages taken out to invest in reels capable of stopping—or at least slowing down—a horizon-bound Bugatti, say, piercing the shimmering heat waves on a Nevada highway.
Take, for instance, dorado, mahi-mahi, dolphinfish—call them what you will. No doubt dorado have hooked more anglers on the elegance of bluewater Baja fly-fishing than any other Sea of Cortez species, even if you do hear that these slender, acrobatic leapers are relative pushovers in comparison to the powerfully configured, deep-diving tunas and jacks. Such comparisons, however, mean absolutely nothing when, drifting through a school of surface-popping skipjack, your captain suddenly hollers, “Dorado! Dorado!” hurriedly pitching a handful of sardines. There, in amongst the blasting skippies, appears a fish so bright with blues and yellows that for a moment you might be excused for indulging in a vision of a lit-up state patrol car that just got wind of that speeding Bugatti breaching that desolate Nevadan mirage.
But then you better make your cast. Quickly. Accurately. Because these glowing neon surface tracers, although recklessly aggressive during their initial rush through bait, are known to grow increasingly wary the moment they spot a boat and sense line and lure leaping this way and that way above their iridescent heads.
The trick with dorado is your chances improve dramatically if you actually fish for them. This sounds obvious but, amidst the wealth of so many other fish, it’s often overlooked. Granted, you can fling your 500-grain head into the gullet of the ocean blue and now and then—because this is, after all, just fishing—a dorado will eat your fly and, once again, you’re off to the races. The biggest problem, however, with this kind of chuck-and-strip fishing is that there’s a very good chance you’ll already be hooked into something else should a dorado actually arrive—and what do you do now, your rod bent double, while the fish you really want is slashing about through your captain’s chum with the ferocity of a prizefighter’s right hook?

A psychedelic sailfish dorsal.
Conversely, if you sight-fish first, you can make choices not afforded when blind-casting. The day after the marlin encounter, we had a leather-colored hammerhead appear off the back of the boat, apparently interested in the scent of a couple of skippies we had dangling in the water to help attract dorado. I took a long careful look at the shark—about the same size as the previous day’s billfish—and I thought, No thank you, and I declined the invitation to cast.
Besides waiting and sight-casting, the other commitment one makes for dorado is to carry a rod rigged with a slow-sinking, intermediate or even floating line, as well as, perhaps, employing an actual surface pattern like the easy-to-cast Crease Fly. Baja panga anglers commonly venture offshore with impressive bundles of rods, all of them strung up and ready to go, in preparation for specific species and sizes of fish and an array of different conditions and situations—but also simply because of the number of times reels fail, rods break and even lines, for whatever weird reasons, disappear overboard. That said, just as many panga anglers pretty much keep one rod in hand all day—and when, say, a dorado appears, they simply cast and strip quickly, keeping the fly near the surface rather than trying to switch rods in the flurry of excitement that invades the boat when suddenly the water is lit up with pelagic pyrotechnics.
What you don’t want to be is an angler wondering if you’re using the right rod, the right line or reel or fly. Has anyone ever explained to you that you don’t catch fish without your fly in the water? In case I haven’t made it perfectly clear yet, let me emphasize right here that Baja panga fishing is not exactly rocket science. There is, mind you, a lot to think about. There is a lot to know. But my advice is to do your questioning and tinkering and problem-solving back on dry land, and keep as much thinking as you can out of the boat.

Above: The author displays a hefty Baja dorado. You can catch them by chance, but you’ll do better if you actually target them. Obvious, right?
I’m only being a little facetious. Baja panga fishing is more athletic than intellectual, more reactive than prescriptive. Aim for feeding fish. Try to put the fly as close to one as possible. If something pulls, pull back. If it pulls hard, pull back harder.
Obviously, there’s got to be a little more to it than that. And over dinner each night—the sweet scent of Negra Modelos mixing with the aroma of grilled dorado and amberjack, the heady tang of ceviche, the authentic ranchero music “oompahing” through the palm-frond ceiling—advice ranged widely that might have made any of us better anglers if not also better citizens at large. But I hate to introduce too much ambiance or a bunch of subtle intricacies into what might best be described as a sport of reckless casts into the dangerous dimensions of chaos. There’s a beauty to this kind of sport—but it has a lot more to do with the wind and the waves and the wild animals eating one another all around you than anything you do with a fly rod. It can also get a little ugly. But I’ll tell you this as well: It can be a hell of a lot of fun. If you like to think, go trout fishing. If you like to wrestle fish till your knees shake, put your hopes in the hands of a panga captain and $20 worth of live bait.
Scott Sadil chases fish with a fly rod and waves with a surfboard wherever they are found. He’s considered an expert on Baja bluewater fly-fishing and, in fact, penned the book, Angling Baja: One man’s fly fishing journey through the surf. His most recent book, Fly Tales: Lessons in fly fishing like the real guys, was released last August. He lives in Hood River, Oregon

Roasted sweet peppers and sheep's cheese rolls

Here's Sicilian inspired dish. It delivers all the sunshine and flavours of Sicily (or Mediterranean Spain...) in this chilly winter days.
A favourite in my catering menus as well...

For this great appetizer, or side to a grilled fish, start by charring the skin of a large red bell pepper over an open flame. Place the blackened pepper in a plastic bag and let it rest for around 15 minutes for the steam to loosen the charred skin.

While this happens, work on the stuffing:
Take the crust off a 2 days old country bread, sourdough or any other rustic bread and cut it into small cubes.
Place the bread into a mixing bowl and add freshly chopped Italian parsley, basil and garlic to taste.
Season with S&P, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and drizzle liberally with olive oil...the stronger and heavier, the better.
Mix everything, taste, and coarsely grate the aged sheep's cheese until you get just the right bite  (note: ideally I would use a good pecorino from Sardinia, but any good aged Spanish sheep's cheese will work way more than ok..look for  Roncal, Canal or Idiazabal at your cheese store).

At this point the stuffing should still be quite dry and coarse.

Place a ripe tomato in a blender and liquefy it; add it to the stuffing and mix it; if needed, repeat with more tomato. Adjust with S&P and reserve.

Peel the roasted pepper and get rid of the seeds and veins, rinse it and carefully cut it in fillets.

Place some stuffing on the inside of the pepper, roll it up as in the pic and place it on a plate.
Top with an anchovy fillet (optional, but strongly recommended...), a few fried capers and a drizzle of best olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar - or balsamic syrup.

There you have it...sunshine in a plate!
Well dressed at a dinner party...

At home...
Buon appetito.

Eggplant & goat's cheese pinchos with balsamic raisin & pumpkinseed pesto

This cute little thing is one of thye most requested items in my menus.
It's a great addition to any cocktail party or tapas spread.

Start by slicing the eggplants lenghtwise and placing them on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the slices with S&P.
Roast in a medium hot oven until the edges start getting some colour and the eggplant turns tender.
Delicately remove the slices from the baking sheet whilst still warm and let them cool off.

While the eggplant cools, work on the pesto.
In a blender, or robot, place Italian parsley, fresh mint,pumpkinseed, raisin, a bit of chili flakes, garlic to taste, 1 part of balsamic vinegar, 3 parts of the best olive oil and blend/pulse until you'll have a quite coarse but fluid product. Season with salt and pepper and adjust with a bit of sugar and more vinegar as needed.
You'll want to achieve a balance between the herbs and the sweetness of the raisin ... you'll know whn you'll get it right.

Next, smear a bit of room temperature goat's cheese( a soft one, like a Montrachet...) and a tiny bit of the pesto on the eggplant slices; roll'em up and secure with a skewer ( or, if you feel really fancy, with a thime sprig...) and place on serving plate. Make the pinchos look nice and drizzle liberally with the pesto.
Enjoy your success!


Shrimp carpaccio, zucchini spaghetti and jalapeño marmalade

Really neat, a little off the box apetizer and a personal twist on Mexican aguachile de camarones

You should start with the marmalade, by placing seeded and deveined jalapeños in a sauce pan, cover them with an equal amount of sugar, a bit of lemon or lime juice and a small apple (grated, with skin...).
Let the mix simmer, on low heat, until peppers are really tender and the marmalade comes together.Cool and reserve.

With the help of a mandolin slice zucchini into spaghetti and ball them up on the plate.

Peel, devein and butterfly the shrimp and , placing them between pieces of food wrap, flatten them pounding them lightly with a weigh.

Place the shrimp atop the zucchini spaghetti, add some very thinly sliced onion, drizzle generously with lime or lemon juice, adjust S&P and sprinkle plenty of cilantro leaves.

Add a few grape tomatoes and dollops of jalapeño marmalade and you're in for a treat!

I suggest you serve it with  good totopos/ tortilla chips and an ice cold XX Amber....  Salud! ;  )

NOTE: since you're working with a raw protein be extremely clean  and sanitize throughly your knives, hands and cutting board before and during the preparation...


Baked Chocolate Clams

Apologies if I haven't been  posting much lately but it has been a very busy week...actually it still is.
Here a good clams recipe from Baja.
Down here we use Chocolate clams which are large and meaty enough for a preparation like this, but you can use any large bivalve present in your area. It's a great BBQ party dish too!

Start with cleaning the clam by removing all the sinewy tissues and the intestines;
place the meat back into the shell and add chopped Swiss chard (or any other greens...spinach, bok choy, gai long will do too), minced Spanish chorizo and shredded Manchego cheese.
Tie the shell shut with fine wire and place in a HOT oven or in the coals and ashes of your barby for 10 to 12 minutes.
Serve it with cold beer and  pliers... Enjoy!!!



Jan 13

Pork loin roast Porchetta style> wilted chard> porcini sauce> mashed baked purple yams

Making the green beans and prosciutto salad...still missing gorgonzola, pepitas and 25 yrs balsamic

Pasta rotolo suffed with ricotta and squash blossoms> cream of zucchini> bechamelle

Pan seared yellowtail witg spiced butternut squash, roasted cauliflower, charmoula and mustard leaf

No strings attached...Oink!


Trimming the yellowtail loin


Pan seared halibut with capponata and zucchini puree

This dish is made of three parts: the capponata, a Sicilian eggplant stew, the zucchini cream and the fish..

Start with the capponata: dice onion, red bell pepper and zucchini  in equal measure and dice the same total amount of eggplant.

In a wide skillet saute the onion and pepper until soft, add garlic to taste, S&P, fennel seed, some chilli flakes and the zucchini; saute a little longer and add the eggplant, cooking it down a bit. Check seasoning.

You might need to add a bit more olive oil at this point, but be careful not to exceed because the eggplant WILL release all the oil that it absorbed.

At this point add  a few blended tomatoes and a pinch of oregano... let simmer uncovered to reduce and then add SUGAR and balsamic vinegar in a 1:2 ratio.

Crank the heat up and reduce further. Adjust salt, sugar and vinegar and  reserve.

Next is the zucchini cream: chop the zucchini and saute in olive oil with a liberal amount of garlic and a touch of FRESH rosemary OR mint.

Let caramelize a bit, add S&P and a splash of white wine. Let evaporate, transfer to a blender and blend life out of it.

The fish: Cut a nice, thick portion from the halibut loin, kiss it with a trace of vegetable oil and sear it, skin side down, in a very hot  heavy bottom skillet ( I use cast iron...) until you see the sides turning white; shut off the heat, flip the fish and let it seat there till done to your taste... time depends on your stove, the skillet used and stuff, but I'd say another minute for medium.

Ready! Plate it nicely and drizzle some good Extra Virgin olive oil and you're ready to go!


°With today's eggplant you don't really need to salt them in order to get the bitterness out of them. so you can skip that step...
°If you have some rosemary roast garlic or chillies infused olive oil, use it to drizzle the dish..it would add a great accent


Chickpeas and chorizo stew

One of my favorite legume dishes...  and a great complimentary tapa at the restaurant.

You'll need chickpeas (that you'll have soaked overnight and boiled with a few bay leaves, garlic cloves and a dry chilli), the reserved cooking liquid and aromatics from the chickpeas ( or chicken stock...),  the Holy Trinity of onion, carrot and celery, garlic, a few tomatoes and a good Spanish chorizo.

Chop all the aromatics and the chorizo; because this is a truly rustic dish, do not go crazy fancy when you chop but aim for a chunkier cut.

Saute everything until it looks like this:

Season with S&P and add the chickpeas, the grated tomatoes

 and enough reserved cooking liquid to top off the garbanzos and let simmer until ready.


Easy, no?  Got to admit I am no expert in Spanish wines, but I am quite sure that a younger Tempranillo would cut it more than "OK" with this....   Buen Provecho!