The Beauty of Homemade Mayonnaise

September 27th, 2008

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The past few weeks have been very warm in the San Diego area; not the typical dry, warm weather but much more humid. The morning glories are still blooming and the garden is still full of tomatoes, peppers, chilies, and all kinds of herbs are growing abundant. Although the sun is starting to set earlier and evenings are getting chillier, it appears that San Diego is not ready to give up the summer yet.

A recent conversation with my running coach made me think about mayonnaise, one of the greatest all-purpose sauces. Most Americans use it for one of two purposes; either to dress a sandwich or lubricate a macaroni salad. I know many who are disgusted (including my running coach) by even the mention of the condiment when having a conversation about food. When did mayonnaise get such a bad rap? Is it the crazed non-fat diet movement? Or could it be that the tasteless, mass-produced 'mayonnaise' available from your local mega-market hardly contains a single mayonnaise ingredient?

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Basil Parsley Pesto

July 31st, 2008

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Basil has been a culinary herb in Europe and Central Asia since before the written word. It’s easy to grow here in San Diego as basil thrives in hot sunny weather. The smell of basil gets me very excited as it is yet another reminder of summer. And as my basil plants begin to take over the patio I know its time to make pesto. Since my parsley plant was doing much of the same I decided to toss that in as well. Besides, parsley gives the pesto a much more vibrant color; but be careful, if you add too much it can turn bitter.

Basil Parsley Pesto

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How to Thicken a Sauce

January 24th, 2008

How to Thicken a Sauce

Roux is commonly used to thicken sauces like gravies, broths and cream soups, as is the case in my Salmon and Leek Pot Pie Recipe . A roux is a cooked mixture of flour and fat (typically butter). I have seen different fat-to-flour ratios used, typically a 3:2, but you can't go wrong with a 1:1 (especially if we want your sauce a bit thicker like I tend to). If after whisking in the liquid to your sauce you find that you would prefer it be thicker you can always opt for a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry. The thing with roux is that it is necessary to allow enough time for the flour to cook in order to eliminate a 'raw' flour flavor; and that just won't happen if you have already added the liquid.

How to Thicken a Sauce

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Jalapeno Cream Cheese Spread

January 12th, 2008

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Spread

Jalapeno cream cheese spread served on toasted bagels. It will make your lips hot and peppery and taste so good. I also like to use it in omelets. Many of the bagel shops will use jarred/canned jalapenos in their spreads, personally, I'm not a fan. I think they tend to be a little weak in flavor and even worse is the mushy texture.

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Spread Ingredients

1-8 ounce package cream cheese (room temperature)
Jalapenos, minced (how many will depend on how hot you like it)
Red pepper flakes

the procedure

Add all ingredients in food processor (I do this in the stand up mixer) and blend. Whip it good!


My friend Jami only cooks once a year, but when she does; oh boy, she cooks up a hell of a storm! I stole this gravy recipe from her. What can I say, I'm a sucker for caramelized onions. If making this for Thanksgiving dinner you will want to start it while the turkey is roasting. When the turkey is done cooking finish the gravy with balsamic vinegar and the pan juices.

the formula

Turkey neckbones, giblets and wing tips
1 carrot, diced
1 rib celery, diced
3 medium sized onion, quartered
parsley springs (about 1/3 bunch)
8 cups low sodium chicken stock or water
1 bay leaf
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Turkey pan drippings
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

the procedure

1. Combine in a large pot; turkey neckbones, giblets, wing tips, quartered onion (with peel - this will give the broth a golden color), celery, carrot, parsley and cover with 8 cups chicken stock (or water). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

2. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2 hours, occasionally skimming top. Remove from heat and strain broth; discard cooked vegetables and turkey parts. Reserve broth for gravy and set aside.

2. Melt butter in large heavy saucepan, blend flour into the melted butter a spoonful at a time.

3. Cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to make a roux. Be sure to cook flour through to minimize the flour taste.

4. To thicken the gravy, whisk in small amounts of roux stirring constantly until the gravy is the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Gradually whisk in turkey stock made in steps 1 and 2. Boil until gravy thickens, stirring often, about 3 minutes.

6. Spoon off fat and add pan drippings to gravy. Slowly add 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly. Add 1 teaspoon rosemary and thyme.

7. Add balsamic vinegar to turkey roasting pan and bring vinegar to simmer over medium heat, scraping up browned bits. Bring to boil uncovered until reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes; add vinegar to turkey stock mixture.