Showing posts with label sea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sea. Show all posts

Monday, July 15, 2013


Today, I want to share something fun and summery - just the kind of recipe we all could use in our repertoire - an easy, scrumptious dish to feed a family, which can easily be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd. When we first made this Chez Panisse slow cooked salmon recipe a decade or two ago, I was wowed by its simplicity and honestly, I can't believe it has taken me this long to share it here. Extremely low heat and gentle moisture (provided by a little pan of water at the bottom of the oven) make for the most tender and succulent fish imaginable!

The heavenly Meyer lemon relish also comes from Chez Panisse - it's fresh, tangy, and slightly sweet thanks to the the natural sugars in Meyer lemons. I think the relish would be great with all sorts of seafood and its bright flavors make it a perfect companion to the buttery rich slow cooked salmon.

It's hard for me to believe we're deep into July already. I turned in my manuscript last month  (woo-hoo!) and I have to admit, I've felt spent. I put every droplet of creative juice and inspiration into the book. When I finished I was totally euphoric, but quickly I crashed - my creative well felt fully tapped. So, mostly I've let myself be slow and lazy these past few weeks: I've slept a lot and savored quiet time with friends, family, P, and the kiddos.

After being away and having some serious downtime, I'm itching to get back to the kitchen and cook again with all of you. I've missed you guys!!

INGREDIENTS barely adapted from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook
{printable recipe}

  • 1 center cut King salmon fillet (1.25 - 1.5 pounds)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • sea salt
  • 1 large Meyer lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup, but 1/4 cup seems like more than enough to me)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Place a baking dish filled half way with water on the lowest rack of your oven, making for a nice moist environment for the salmon to cook.

Lay the intact salmon fillet on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush the salmon with a little more olive oil. Salt generously and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Transfer salmon to the warm oven. It should take between 45 minutes to 1 hour for the salmon to cook, depending on the size and thickness of your fillet. You can tell the salmon is done when the fish feels just firm to the touch and the juices are starting to break through the surface. Alice says you can serve the salmon right away or let it rest for up to 3 hours before serving. (Doesn't that sound helpful for a dinner party you want to prep in advance?)

While the salmon is cooking, make your Meyer lemon relish: first, in a small bowl, macerate shallot for 10-15 minutes in vinegar or lemon juice with a pinch of sea salt. Next, (leaving the skin on) cut lemon into 8 wedges. Remove seeds and cut out the core. Cut wedges in half again and slice very thin. Add the slivers of lemon to the macerated shallots. Add olive oil and parsley. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

When you're ready to eat, use your hands to break the salmon into chunks and serve with the Meyer lemon relish. YUM!

Serves 4

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Even as a Californian, for me winter feels like the time of hibernation, nights by the fire, reading novels, being cozy. In this internal time, I find my thoughts wandering to far away places, the summer light, balmy evenings, and the late setting sun. With our family's year away as an almost graspable memory, my wanderlust has taken a specific shape - I yearn for Bali, and I dream of Greece.

I'm slowing wading through the 25 thousand photos I took during my family's 11 months away. I have found plenty of garbage to toss out, but I am also uncovering all sorts of treasures that I didn't quite realize I had. There are pictures of Otis and Lilah gleefully enjoying the freedom of being out of school for the year that are personally precious to us. And I have discovered a trove of abstract photographs that inspire me in a whole new way.

But what I want to share with you today is a glimpse of Corfu. Think of sea side tavernas with tables in the sand, of drinking rosé and eating freshly-caught fish at lunches so long and late, that they creep into the dinner hour. An island with cobblestone streets and architecture in beautiful decay. Markets packed with plump stone fruit. Sunsets that seem impossibly vibrant.

When I told P that I was putting this post together, he said "It's like buying a bikini in winter."

If you dream of travel this time of year, where do you go?

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The Gilis Islands are a dreamy paradise, just a boat ride away from Bali. On this little Indonesian archipelago, there is not a motorized vehicle in sight, only cidomo - funky horse-drawn buggies.  Yes, on Gili Trawangan you can find backpackers smoking weed, flirting, and hanging out. Or like us, you can escape to the sleepy side of the island where there is nothing to do but snorkel with sea turtles, read novels, have bonfires on the beach, and watch epic sunsets. I think Gili T is my new happy place.

I've noticed that travel to remote spots often means sacrificing good eats. But at the whitewashed and stylish Gili Eco Villas, we lucked out with a gem of a cook - Pip a la Supiana, whose food wasn't just decent island fare, it was fantastic. Pip has that magic touch: with simplicity, respect of ingredients, love, and the subtlety of perfect preparation that looks effortless. Everything Pip makes is full of freshness and flavor. My kind of food. (2012: An update on Pip.... sadly, he is no longer at Gili Eco Villas.)

Pip let me join him in his kitchen one afternoon and I had so much fun.  We made fragrant yellow rice, prawn skewers on lemongrass, and this delectable squid dish. One of the best things about cooking with Pip was learning more about his palate of spices that are so different from my typical pantry staples. In my Berkeley kitchen, I tend to favor garlic, rosemary, parsley, thyme, lemon, and mint - where Pip tosses in lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, sesame, chilies, lots of lime, and honey. There is no reason why the rest of us cannot try to cook like Pip: all of his "exotic" ingredients are actually easy to find. I know I will take his cooking home with me to California.

I so enjoyed eating Pip's squid that I ordered it every night we stayed in the Gilis. I won't have the opportunity to cook this squid dish myself until we are back in California later this summer, but I couldn't wait that long to share Pip's recipe with you.

I can imagine 10 years from now coming back to Indonesia and finding Pip with a slew of successful restaurants of his own. He is that good.

(printable recipe)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large pieces of squid
  • 1- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 more lime

For the Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped spring onion
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and finely chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped chilies (green and or red chilies of your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • garnish: sprinkling of sesame seeds

Grind garlic, ginger, and sea salt in a mortar and pestle until you have a well-blended paste. Transfer this mixture to a bowl large enough to marinate the squid. Add juice of 1/2 lime and toss the already squeezed lime into the bowl. (I love that Peep puts already juiced citrus into the marinade - a rustic alternative to adding zest.)  Add the olive oil. Stir the marinade and set aside.

Cut squid tubes open so that you have large flat pieces. Cut squid into smaller pieces (maybe 2x4 inches each) then score the squid by making shallow cuts in a grid-like pattern. Add squid to the marinade bowl, and rub marinade all over the squid especially into the scored grooves. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Chop and prep all ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.

After the squid has marinated for an hour or so, heat up a large skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon or two of sesame oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the squid. Squeeze in the juice of another lime over the top of the squid while it is cooking. Cook squid pieces for a few minutes on each side until done. ( I would love to try cooking this squid on our grill at home. I think the smokey flavor would be delish.)

Set aside the cooked squid. Toss all of the sauce ingredients into the already hot pan that still has the cooking juices from the squid. Stir sauce and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the flavors are released. Pour sauce over the squid, sprinkle sesame seeds over the top and serve. Yum!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


When we were in Australia last fall, I loved scouring all the wonderful cooking magazines from that part of the world. There was a freshness and enthusiasm that really resonated with me. I clipped numerous recipes and kept them folded up in my journal until we had a real kitchen. In Bali, we are cooking a lot. Our kitchen equipment is pretty limited compared to home, but it is unmatched when I think of most cooking spaces we've encountered while traveling.

This recipe from Delicious Magazine is a new favorite at our place. The pureed lime, coconut cream, and cilantro are so fresh and tasty that I actually wanted to drink the dressing on its own. The combination of flavors and textures in the final salad is perfect - citrusy, herby, creamy, crunchy, with a hint of heat.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


We like mussels at our house.... a budget-conscious and delicious buy from Monterey Fish. Plus the quick prep makes for an easy dinner. At home in California, foraging for Mussels is a no-no. Quarantine signs warn of contamination and unhealthy waters.

For the first time in my life, we got to harvest our own mussels off the shore! We were recently in Golden Bay, New Zealand - tucked into the lightly populated shores on the gorgeous South Island, the waters are clean and harvesting seafood from the beaches is just fine.

We heard that the tides were low at ten am, so off we set with a few buckets in hand. Within 15 minutes we had plenty of mussels to cook up.

In trying to keep our meal as simple and local as possible, we threw together an easy spaghetti with mussels. We borrowed a few spices from our neighbor, harvested some herbs from the garden there, then walked to the nearby market and bought some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, local onions, butter, olive oil, sea salt, and pasta.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Where the hell is Bruny Island?

In 1999, P and I went to Australia on part of another longer trip. We hoped to make it to Tasmania but travel there was difficult and very expensive back then. We ended up only visiting Sydney; I can’t complain because our time there remains one of my best travel memories.

This trip I was determined to visit Tasmania. Tasmania has a magnetic pull for me - my yearning seems to stem from a romantic notion of this remote isle nestled near the Antarctic waters. I am always drawn to islands: Zanzibar, Folegandros, Tikehau and Bali  - all islands -  are some of my favorite places on this planet.  The connection to the sea is a great lure for me.

Tasmania lived up to my mythic expectations. The port of Hobart was full of old pirate charm - the sea was alive and the waves rough. Cobblestone streets, ship captains’ houses and copious wrought iron details typified the intact architecture. Plus the island was exploding with the glory of Spring - a cacophany of lavender, roses, wisteria, apple and cherry blossoms.

Even more romantically obscure than its already remote mainland, Tasmania’s Bruny Island called us to visit. We’d heard the island was gorgeous and had world class oysters and artisinal cheese. Enough said.

After an hours drive South of Hobart and a quick ferry ride to Bruny Island, we headed straight to Bruny Island Oyster. We bought a couple dozen beauties from Joe, the proprietor and P got to shucking. With just a quirt of lemon juice we devoured the deliciously salty bivalves that came fresh from what might be the purest sea water I have ever seen. Bruny Island Oysters were perfect - firm, briny and tasting of sea - worthy of a trip half way across the globe.

Our next food stop was at Bruny Island Cheese. We sampled every cheese they made and found the firm cow’s cheese infused with saffron to be our favorite.  And even though it was only 11 am and we were already sated with oysters, we couldn’t resist trying some of their homemade ice cream. When I saw rhubarb and bay on the menu I was smitten. The ice cream was infused with earthy flavor yet creamy with milk of happy island cows.

Our food pilgrimage was well worth the journey - Tasmania was a pastoral island paradise. Cows with shiny black coats and wooly sheep grazed on wide open emerald green fields. Sandy beaches were filled with happy (and tasty looking!) clams. Copious blossoming berry bushes held promise for a summer of preserves and pies. If only we could have stayed longer!

Monday, October 25, 2010


Imagine a lush garden bursting with over 100 varieties of happy organic vegetables, herbs, and fruit growing on a hillside with views of warm turquoise waters and swaying coconut palms.

This cook’s paradise really exists, I swear. If you are an intrepid, gardening chef, who might want to partake in this Eden, read on....

Just up the hill from the bungalow we called home for the past 20 days is Joe’s vegetable garden. Remember Joe, my roasted coconut guru? Joe is full of knowledge, energy, and ideas. He has contemplated creating a perfect village on his gorgeous stretch of beachfront land; lucky for us, his visions of utopia have taken a more entrepreneurial route that resulted in a mellow island resort. Joe leaves the running of the business to his son and daughter-in-law while he tends to his baby - the garden.

I had to share images of the edible beauty that abounds in Joe’s remote island garden and the pristine reef nearby. The colors are otherworldly.... Have you ever seen a Rainbow Lobster? This was my idea of heaven.

P and I grow our own veggies in a 700 square foot patch in Berkeley, so I was blown away by Joe’s vast growing space, covering at least an acre of land.  Joe’s green thumb, the hot tropical sun, rich volcanic soil, and crisp, clear water from the nearby spring make for an extraordinary garden. Tomatoes, bok choy, shallots, parsley, arugula, mustard greens, eggplant, peppers, and various lettuce greens reminded me of home. Joe also cultivates more exotic species that I envied - pineapple, hibiscus, taro, banana, papaya, kava, mango, and of course coconut.

spring water irrigation

Joe dreams of hosting visitors who want to work in the garden and have fun cooking its bounty. He has entertained the idea of a WWOOF listing - a brilliant organization for green thumbs worldwide. If a stint in this cook’s paradise appeals to you, go! Imagine the endless culinary possibilities....

Saturday, September 11, 2010


When I met Tonok, I knew I wanted to cook with him. I was eating a delicious curry chicken salad for lunch at the Bloo Lagoon and I peered into the outdoor kitchen to find Tonok at work. I told him how much I enjoyed his salad and he smiled broadly. He knew his food was good. I don’t mean to be hokey here, but Tonok’s food has that thing, that secret to all tasty food - love. This guy loves to cook and it comes through in the dishes he serves. As we started chatting, limited by his English and my non-existent Balinese and Indonesian, I asked him about cooking and his arms would start waving, he would give me a vigorous thumb’s up, and his smile would grow wide. I had heard that the Bloo Lagoon offered cooking classes so I asked him if he could teach me some of his favorite dishes. With total authority, he planned a meal of traditional Balinese food that we would make together the next day.

The next morning Tonok and I went to the local morning market in Padangbai. Without having my morning “Bali Coffee” aka Balinese jet fuel, I was bleary eyed until the action of the market woke me up. This tiny market, only half-a-block long, was jammin’.

Baskets of bananas, pineapples, and papayas lined the street. Women were weaving palm fronds and selling a rainbow of flowers for offerings.

Fresh, shiny fish were displayed on planks of wood.

And there were so many intriguing hand-made packages of just-prepared treats. With Tonok’s help in identifying the mysterious eats,  I started snapping up goodies: two newspaper packages of cooked yellow rice with spices; another paper-wrapped meal of pork on a stick, herbs and rice; black rice pudding. I even abandoned the squeamish American in me and bought a funky cassava, shaved coconut, and palm sugar treat made by a grandmother as I waited. What would the Health Department say?

I felt hungry and triumphant with this indulgent spree that cost me less than a buck.

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