Friday, February 17, 2017

Halibut Roasted in Parchment Recipe

Recently Real Good Fish reached out to me to see if I would try their services and share my experiences. I was already considering subscribing and am very happy to tell you about them. Real Good Fish is like a subscription based community-supported agriculture program (CSA) where you get a box of fresh produce only in this case, it's a share of fish or seafood each week. It's dropped off at a convenient location in the San Francisco Bay Area for you to pick up. You get a heads up the day before so you know what you are receiving. Sometimes you will receive things you may not ever be able to find at retail like Ridgeback shrimp or California red abalone but the newsletter and website provide storage tips and recipes. 

So far I've received crab, abalone and halibut. It's always enough for 2-4 servings and costs $22. It's pretty much the freshest way to get your fish or seafood. It's all local, sustainable and the newsletter gives you details about who caught your seafood, the catch, and the like. 

This week it's California halibut. It's mild and a bit firm and very healthy. A portion of 3 1/2 ounces is less than 100 calories, low in fat and a good source of protein. Cooking it in broth or steaming it is a good bet. Cooking it quickly in parchment works because it's basically steaming in its own juices. I add a little bit of olive oil to keep things moist and some preserved lemon for flavor. It adds both acidity and salt, which is pretty much all the fish needs. Note that the time will vary depending upon how thick your fish fillet is. Be careful not to overcook it. You can always pop it back in the oven if needs another minute or two. 

Parchment Roasted Halibut
Serves 4


4 halibut fillets, about 4 ounces each
Preserved lemon, sliced with any pits removed
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 


Heat oven to 400° F. Place the fish on one half of four 12- to 15-inch lengths of parchment cut into squares or a heart shape. Top each fillet with slices of preserved lemon. Drizzle each with a teaspoon of olive oil. Fold the parchment over the fish; make small overlapping folds along the edges to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes if a thin fillet of 1/2 inch or less, 10-12 if a one inch fillet, If it's over one inch, 15 minutes. 

Carefully cut the packets open, remove the lemon slices and serve.


Disclaimer: I am receiving seafood from Real Good Fish in exchange for sharing my experiences, I am not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Emu Eggs

What’s big and speckled green? It might look like a dinosaur egg, but it's actually an emu egg. The emu is the second largest bird in the world and native to Australia. Emu are raised in US for their meat and oil, but their eggs are also quite a delicacy. This particular emu egg is the very first one I’ve ever had the pleasure of cooking. 

You may not be able to tell from the photo just how massive the egg is, but when cracked and emptied, the contents are equal to 2 cups! According to the American Emu Association, chicken eggs contain 37% saturated fat and 63% healthy unsaturated fats, emu eggs contain 31% saturated and 68% healthy unsaturated fats. Both contain 8 of the essential amino acids. Another key difference? Chicken eggs are about 65% white and 35% yolk whereas emu eggs contain 55% white, and 45% yolk. Not surprisingly they are richer and creamier than chicken eggs.

Emu eggs can be stored in the refirgerator for up to two months. I was advised to let the egg come to room temperature before using it. I probably had it out of the refrigerator for about an hour. It was still cool to the touch. After beating the egg, I used it to make a large stuffed omelet and the next day a flat frittata style omelet. I was pleasantly surprised to find the flavor similar but superior to chicken eggs, and when cooked, more tender than chicken eggs. One egg will definintely serve at least 6 people. 

I was given the emu egg by a friend, but I’ve heard you can sometimes find them at farmers markets or even at supermarkets such as Whole Foods Market. Have you ever seen or cooked an emu egg? Please share your experiences in the comments!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Chicken with Fennel & Lemon Recipe

Chicken with Fennel and Lemon

If you live in California, you're probably sick of the rain. Of course, we need the rain after many years of drought but it's still somewhat tiresome. The wet weather has put me in the mood for comfort food and in particular braises, soups and stews. Truth be told, this particular dish is barely a braise. Chicken thighs are seared then finished on top of a melange of onions and fennel and some slices of lemon. It's soothing and familiar but lighter than traditional comfort food which was once synonymous with "heavy." Comfort food can be fresher and healthier than it used to be, but just as soul soothing. 

Have you ever noticed how recipes often call for dry white wine? That always frustrates me and I vow not to do it moving forward. It's better to know which wine in particular works well in a given recipe. In this case, I think a crisp Sauvignon Blanc is great. I used Joel Gott 2015 Sauvignon Blanc which has hints of lemongrass and tropical fruit and plenty of acidity. I also used a Meyer lemon. I hope you are able to find Meyer lemons. They have the most scrumptious scent and a sweetness that means even after just a few minutes in the pan, they are perfectly edible. You can use a regular lemon, you just may not want to eat it.

This recipe is simple and straight forward, other than salt and garlic I added no seasonings. I like letting the fennel and the lemon really shine through. As with many of my recipes, I was inspired by several I found online, including a version of a braised chicken thighs recipe from Melissa Clark at the NYTimes and another, an adaptation of a Thomas Keller recipe for crispy chicken thighs with olives, lemon and fennel from the the LA Times. Please carry on this tradition and adapt this recipe as you see fit. Make it your own! 

Chicken with Fennel & Meyer Lemon  
Makes 4 servings 


1 fennel bulb 
4 large or 6 small chicken thighs 
Kosher salt 
1 Tablespoon olive oil 
1 large onion thinly sliced into half moons 
4 cloves finely chopped garlic 
1/2 cup crisp Sauvignon Blanc 
1 Meyer lemon, sliced, seeds removed 


Trim the stalks and bulbs discarding the core and any bruised layers. Reserve the fronds and mince them finely. Cut fennel into thin slices.  Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt. Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet that will hold all the chicken in one layer.  Add the thighs skin side down and cook until brown, about 7 minutes. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute just to sear. Transfer to a plate. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the fennel and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and  then cook stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the onions, turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring often, until the fennel is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Time will vary depending upon the size of your pan. 

Layer lemon slices in the pan on top of the fennel and onions. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side up, in a single layer over the lemon slices. Pour in the wine. Immediately cover the pan, set the heat to low and cook for about 5- 10 minutes, until a thermometer inserted reads 165 degrees. Serve topped with minced fennel fronds.  


Disclaimer: I received a coupon for Foster Farms Simply Raised chicken which is American Humane Certified, raised without the use of antibiotics and fed a 100% vegetarian diet. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Favorite San Francisco Chocolate Caramels

I grew up in California, learning about the Gold Rush and about the waves of immigration that it brought to our state. It wasn’t the prospectors who succeeded so much as the entrepreneurs who followed in their wake. The most famous of couse is Levi Strauss. But another important immigrant was Etienne Guittard who came from France in the 1800’s intending to mine for gold, but ended up in the family chocolate business instead. Fast forward 149 years and the company is being run by 4th and 5th generations of the Guittard family, supplying responsibly sourced high quality chocolate to the Bay Area and beyond.

Chocolate is big in San Francisco. Our climate makes it an ideal place for making confections. Many local confectioners today use Guittard chocolate. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here are some of my favorites, all of whom use Guittard chocolate. All except Kika’s Treats have retail locations and all except Recchiuti are available in Whole Foods Markets

I first fell for Kika’s unique caramelized graham crackers coated in chocolate. But I also love her Salty Crunchy Caramels which are intense and perfectly balanced. The thin layer of chocolate is rich and dark and the crunch inside the chocolate is irresistable. A little box of three is perfect for sharing, one for you and two for me!  

I remember the first time I discovered Poco Dolce’s chocolate tiles, I had a sesame toffee one and then felt the need to try every flavor. Today I am particularly fond of Kathy's Burnt Caramel Tiles, which truly were created thanks to a happy accident. Not really burnt but just on the edge of burnt, they have a less sweet character that I particularly like and are hard and crisp not gooey.  Also a must try are her olive oil bars, which now come in a great variety of flavors. The 81% and 68% Cacao Olive OIl with Sea Salt are both divine. The olive oil adds a bitter edge and a luciousness to the bars. 

Chuck Siegel makes so many wonderful things, it’s lucky his factory has large glass windows so you can see the action. My favorite item might be his Triple Chocolate Almonds, which are roasted California almonds dipped in both milk and bittersweet chocolate and then dusted in cocoa. Another good pick are his Fleur de Sel Caramels which come in a lovely blue and brown box. You get both the classic and the bittersweet in each selection. He’s been making them for at least 10 years. 

Another pure magician when it comes to confections is Michael Recchiuti. He also makes incredible Fleur de Sel caramels a favorite of the New York Times. But it’s his Burnt Caramel Truffles I love even more. And his Sesame Nougatine bar is another seasonal top choice. If you like cacao nibs his Fever bar is a must.

Disclaimer: My thanks for Whole Foods Market for hosting an event and providing me with some samples. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy.