Herb and Eatery

A few of us lucky food bloggers got a chance last weekend to visit Brian Malarkey’s newest venture, Herb & Eatery – an extension, really, of his award-winning restaurant Herb & Wood.

Herb & Eatery is the front of the store and the Herb & Wood dining room is in the back.

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Herb & Wood has already won a ton of accolades for being the most stylish and sexy new restaurant in town- and now with Herb & Eatery, you can take all of the goodness home with you.

Jars of goodness at Herb & Eatery

Jars of goodness at Herb & Eatery

Herb & Eatery essentially has all of the goodies that make chefs (and humble food bloggers) swoon. Brian Malarkey gave us a sweet tour of the chef’s shop and restaurant before filling us with food.

Brian Malarkey

Almost everything is made in-house. You like the tapenade or the salsa that was part of your (award-winning) dinner at Herb & Wood? Come next door and you can buy a jar of it to take home.

Want some fresh herbs, fresh-baked croissants, imported cheeses, frozen ice cream cookie sandwiches, or even the designer flatware you used? It’s all for sale next door.

View of the pastries from the second floor

View of the pastries from the second floor

Herb & Wood was the first phase of this project; and this awesome shop is phase two. They have already expanded the upstairs area into a lounge for private gatherings; and the adjacent space into an art gallery and private event room.

Art on display in the private event space next door to Herb & Eatery

Art on display in the private event space next door to Herb & Eatery

In addition to a drool-worthy “chef’s shop,” a host of housemade pastries are available, every one of them made around-the-clock by pastry chef extraordinaire Adrian Mendoza.

pastries and kombucha

And don’t forget the house-made kombucha.

pastries

Speaking of croissants, YOU WANT THESE CROISSANTS.

They are made fresh daily (and sell out really fast) with tons of specialty imported butter and they are said to rival the best Parisian café. We enjoyed them plain, stuffed with chocolate, stuffed with meat and cheese, and made into these lovely breakfast sandwiches.

This is the Maple Croissant: filled with maple pork sausage, a fried egg, gruyere cheese, arugula and aioli.

croissant

We also got to sample a few of the baked eggs dishes: Brian was very exited about these … they take a loaf (bread) pan and fill it with scrambled eggs and potato, then bake it, slice it, and cover each slice in one of five different topping combinations.

This is the one with mushrooms, Humboldt goat cheese, herbs, kale, and crème fraiche. It was heavenly.

mushroom baked eggs

And this is the baked egg with tomato, capers, olives, basil pesto and lemon zest:

baked egg with tomato

We weren’t even close to being finished. Next we got to sample a few of the items from the All Day Menu (breakfast is only served from 8-11 a.m.).

One of my favorites was the poke & avocado salad, with kimchi, cilantro, housemade ponzu and mixed greens:

poke

… but I also loved the smoked curry chicken and cashews salad with kale and cilantro.

curry chicken salad

We also sampled some of their amazing sandwiches, like the banh mi with chicken sausage, papaya, and chicken liver pate:

banh mi

… as well as the amazing tuna melt with olive oil-poached albacore tuna, preserved lemons, herbs, capers and white cheddar cheese.

tuna melt

As if that wasn’t enough carbs to put us all into respective food comas, we also got a sample of two of Brian Malarkey’s favorite appetizers: a Marin triple cream brie with seasonal mustard and jelly:

brie

…  plus these beautiful sugar cane Thai chicken skewers:

thai sugar cane chicken skewers

And really amazing root fries with homemade smoked French dressing and yusu aioli:

root fries

Aaaand ice cream cookies …

ice cream cookies

The ice cream cookie flavor blends were perfect: they have chocolate chip cookies with mint chocolate chip ice cream; cranberry oatmeal cookies with vanilla bean (my favorite) and peanut butter cookies with banana ice cream.

I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise given the amazing reputation that Malarkey enjoys in this town, but LITERALLY everything they have is amazingly delicious.

This isn’t one of those places where you might drop in for a breakfast pastry because they have a good baker, but not come for lunch or dinner because other items aren’t as good.  Here, everything is good. You can tell that the chefs and employees there take food quality seriously and want you to experience the best. I’ll definitely be back!

Mason Jar Salads and Mason Jar Dressings

These Mason jar salads are all the rage nowadays, and I am happy to say, I made these before they were cool.

Nothing to it, really, just get all of your favorite salad fixings together, plus a few mason jars. I like to use the wide-mouth pint jars (Ball and other companies even have them in pretty colors), and if you can obtain a few reusable plastic lids (like these), that would be even better.

mason jar salad

I generally like to keep it simple, so I make the same salad for every day. You can obviously change it up so you can have a different salad every day.

Once you have all of your supplies and ingredients, there are only two rules:

  1. Keep the dry stuff dry.
  2. Keep the wet stuff wet.

So, start with the dressing. Fill each jar with a tablespoon or two of your favorite or chosen dressing.

Next, add other wet salad ingredients: fresh tomatoes, legumes, fruits, beans or corn, pre-cooked (and pre-cooled) pasta, avocados, feta cheese, tofu, hardboiled eggs, etc.

Then try to put a “barrier” like chickpeas, quinoa, cucumbers or beets, but if you can’t create a barrier, just make sure the layers cover the whole jar.

Put your greens (lettuce, romaine, spinach, kale, etc.) at the top along with anything else that needs to stay dry, like tortilla crisps or crispy bacon bits.

That’s it!

Now you have premade, healthy meals that are ready to go all week.

beforenaftersalad

Mason Jar Dressings

OK, so these aren’t popular (yet, anyway) but they should be. You know that jar of strawberry jam or raspberry preserves in your fridge that you never use? The one that has just enough that you can’t use it for anything else? What about that one jar of mustard that only has a few teaspoons left? Do you have a container of yogurt that you need to use before it goes bad?

Oh yeah. We’re using up your fridge leftovers with this one.

First, take that almost-empty jar out of the fridge. Shake it around a little. Make sure it isn’t filled with toast crumbs from the last time you used it. The contents of this jar will be your binder.

Next, determine what flavors go well with that binder. Raspberry or strawberry (or other berries) go well with balsamic or dark vinegars. Mustard – particularly spicy mustard – is best accented with white or white wine vinegar. Then add fresh or dried herbs.

Here are a few ideas to mix it up:

  • Berry jam/jelly  +    Balsamic vinegar       +   fresh rosemary or basil = Balsamic Berry Dressing
  • Greek yogurt      +     White wine vinegar   +  fresh dill and lemon = Creamy Dill Dressing
  • Dijon mustard    +     White vinegar +  fresh or dried oregano = Herby Mustard Dressing
  • Pure Honey    +    Apple Cider vinegar  +  sriracha and lime = Spicy Honey Vinaigrette
  • Greek yogurt  + cilantro, lime, hot sauce + fresh, mashed avocado  = Baja Goddess Dressing
  • Creamy peanut butter + soy sauce, rice vinegar + cilantro, ginger = Peanut Ginger Dressing
  • Fresh hummus + white vinegar + feta cheese and fresh basil/herbs = Greek Hummus Dressing

Once you have established the flavors and the binder, simply add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and put the lid on the mason jar and shake vigorously until completely blended.

Baja Goddess Dressing

Baja Goddess Dressing

Fresh finds at the new Ceviche House

This month, I got to check out San Diego’s newest and freshest spot. The Ceviche House in North Park combines a family atmosphere with fresh and fast food.

For the last four months, I’ve been on intense chemotherapy, so my doctors didn’t let me eat any raw fish or other foods that might present a greater risk of illness. I finally got the All-Clear to eat some, and I am so excited to be able to enjoy beautiful dishes like this again.

And it was perfect.

I got the Ensenada (yellowtail, watermelon, pomegranate seeds, microgreens, avocado, and chili-sesame oil) on a tostada — but you can get any of their menu items on a lettuce wrap or bowl if you want to skip the carbs. I was concerned that the chili-sesame oil might be too spicy (my mouth is still a little sensitive to spice after chemo), but it’s a perfect compliment to the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltiness of the fresh yellowtail. I could have eaten 2 or 3 of these!

ensenada tostada

And just look at how pretty it is! I’d never had ceviche without peppers and onions before, or with fruit, but the combination of flavors in this dish is amazing … I can see why it’s one of their most popular dishes.

I had a hard time deciding, because all of the options looks amazingly delicious. Tuna, cucumber and orange zest? Yes, please. Shrimp and mango? Totally.

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Owners Viviana and Juan Carlos make sure to procure only the best from sustainable sources like superstar seafood mongers Catalina Offshore Products. You can taste the quality in every piece of fish and produce.

acapulco ceviche

To show off their new store, The Ceviche House is giving an Acapulco Ceviche away to two lucky winners. Be sure to follow Starbright’s Kitchen and The Ceviche House for more chances to win:

ENTER CONTEST HERE:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2f9e1bf95/?hh

Pan de Cazon

Pan de Cazon is a regional specialty of the Campeche region of Mexico; a region bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Guatemala on the other. As I’m sure you can imagine, the other regional specialties of the area include some amazing seafood dishes – I know that soon, want to try some recipes like Siete Barbas and seafood tamales.

I rarely get the chance to cook with great fish, and lately I’ve had a bunch of it from Catalina Offshore Products here in San Diego. These guys are incredible! I had an amazing filet of spiny dogfish shark, caught wild in Mexican waters. If you are unable to get a decent piece of shark, this recipe will also work with any white, flaky fish.

I based my recipe off of this one from El Cielo Foods, but mine isn’t quite as spicy. Instead of using whole habanero peppers, I seasoned mine with a really good hot sauce. Feel free to add more if you can handle more spice than I can.

 

pan de cazon

Pan de Cazon

  • 1-2 filets of shark or other white fish, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 7-8 small corn tortillas, slightly crispy
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. California chile powder or chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp. habanero pepper hot sauce (I like El Yucateco)
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, heat the black beans with a little oil, and half of the cumin and chile powder, plus salt and pepper. Mash the beans slightly as they cook. Set on low heat to keep warm.

In another small saucepan, sautee the onion and garlic with oil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the rest of the cumin and chile powder. Mash the tomatoes slightly as they cook, and add the pieces of fish and the hot sauce to taste. Add the dill and half of the cilantro. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Assemble the pan de cazon by spreading the beans on a crispy tortilla, then putting another tortilla on top, then adding the shark and tomato mixture. Alternate the beans and the shark to make a tall stack, then serve warm with cilantro and fresh avocado.

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Thieboudienne with Winter Vegetables

I love every type of soup or stew, and I recently discovered a lovely new one. It’s the best kind: one you can adapt to whatever is in your kitchen. I had a lot of winter vegetables on hand, like parsnips, turnips, potatoes, eggplant, and squash, so that’s what I used. I also happened to have several lovely filets of salmon, but you can use any type of fish.

This is a traditional Senegalese dish, and I based my adaptation on the Thieboudienne in Saveur Magazine, but obviously I changed it a lot. This recipe calls for the fish to be stuffed separately with a mix of chiles and parsley, but I just added those to my stew and made sure the fish was spread throughout the pot, instead. I also pre-cooked my rice and chopped my vegetables for quick cooking, instead of the more traditional African method of serving the vegetables almost whole.

I’d also recommend serving with some fried plantains on the side (or in the stew), if you can find them. Just sautee each slice for 2-3 minutes in hot oil — no need to coat or dredge the plantains, the natural sugars inside them create the crispy crust — then season with salt, pepper, and lime juice.

Thieboudienne with Winter Vegetables

Thieboudienne with Winter Vegetables

  • 1-2 large filets of flaky fish
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/2 of one large eggplant, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 2 turnips, diced
  • 2 small red potatoes, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 1 handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes and chiles
  • 2 tbsp. tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • lime wedges for serving
  • extra virgin olive oil for sauteeing
  • 1 quart vegetable stock

 

Start by sauteeing the garlic and onion in a large Dutch oven, and cook until transparent. Add the potatoes, carrots, eggplant, parsnip and turnips, as well as the fish sauce, tamarind paste, and some salt and pepper. Make sure all of the vegetables are coated. Add the can of tomatoes and chiles, then the stock, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and let simmer for about an hour.

Add some of the fresh parsley (save a little for serving), the fish and rice, then cover and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked thoroughly. Flake the fish and make sure it’s mixed throughout the stew. Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary* and serve with fresh parsley on top and a wedge of lime to squeeze on top.

*Use caution with salt, because the fish sauce adds a lot of sodium!

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Win Every Night with the 8×8 Cookbook

I’ve been cooking my way through this new cookbook, and it’s fantastic!

Kathy Strahs has taken the concept of simple baked dishes to another level with the 8×8 Cookbook – not just boring timesavers, but real tips for elevating simple dishes into impressive works of art. There are a million cookbooks out there about using baking dishes, but this one has real-life experience.

8x8 cookbook

First, I tried out the caramelized banana pancake squares. These are really easy, and the “self-saucing” technique Kathy uses makes the fresh pancake squares really impressive and delicious. This is what I mean by a simple technique for elevating a simple dish — everyone loves a banana pancake, but caramelizing the bananas in some brown sugar and butter first adds another depth of flavor to the dish, and it’s just as easy as making a pancake.

caramalized bananas

These would be so much fun to make with kids as a fun weekend breakfast, and I will totally have to make the next time I have a brunch or go to a daytime potluck. Aren’t they cute?

caramalized banana pancake squares

Then I made the roasted cod with gremolata and lemony orzo. This is a really simple and classy dish you can make for your sweetheart or for your whole family. You only need a few simple ingredients, and again, a simple technique — in this case, adding lemon zest to the boiling water when you parboil the orzo — adds another level of flavor that makes it better than your average weeknight baked dish.

roasted cod with lemony orzo and gremolata

The Boursin baked mashed potatoes were next – not the most photogenic dish, but definitely one of the best – a simple cheesy mashed potato recipe, kicked up by creaming the potatoes, adding extra butter, and baking in a hot, hot oven.

I couldn’t get away with a cookbook review without trying at least one of the desserts! The chocolate craving cake (shown here without the accompanying frosting recipe) was really rich and chocolatey. I totally want to make this again and experiment with different frosting toppings — but the fancy technique in this recipe makes it so moist, you hardly need any!

chocolate craving cake

I first encountered Kathy’s work in “The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook,” and “The 8×8 Cookbook” is a perfect follow-up. I can’t wait to see what amazing tips she has in store for her next book.

Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

I love this recipe! I had no idea beer batter was so easy. Literally … just four simple ingredients for the batter, a few more for the perfect white sauce, a little bit of cabbage and cheese and all of the fixins, and you’re on your way to Taco Heaven.

Residing in San Diego, it’s pretty easy for me to find a good fish taco, but frankly, I had always assumed that the delicate-yet-heavy-duty coating most people use for their fried fish tacos was way more complicated.

And the white sauce HAS to be more than just mayo and yogurt, right? Not really.

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Beer-Battered Fish Tacos

For the fish/ batter:

  • 1 lb white fish filets
  • 1 cup, plus 3-4 tbsp., Bisquick mix
  • 1/2 cup good beer
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Oil for frying

For the white sauce:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. sriracha or good hot sauce
  • the juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder
  • salt and pepper

For the garnish / assembling your tacos:

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, shredded
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • diced tomatoes
  • warm flour or corn tortillas
  • fresh limes
  • hot sauce

Start with the white sauce: Blend all of the ingredients together thoroughly and refrigerate. This can be made up to a day ahead of time.

Then set two shallow dishes in front of you, the first one with 3-4 tablespoons of Bisquick, plus a little salt and pepper. The second dish should have another cup of Bisquick, plus 1/2 cup of beer and 1 egg. (You may need a little bit more beer if the mixture is too sticky.)

Start to heat your oil in a frying pan or deep skillet.

Cut the fish into small pieces and dredge each piece in the first dish (dry ingredients only) and coat thoroughly. Do not skip this step! This is what seals in all of the fish’s moisture, and keeps the beer batter stuck to the fish.

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When the oil is hot, dredge the fish pieces in the beer batter – right before you drop them in the hot oil. Fry each piece for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, and place on a paper towel when done.

Serve fish hot and fresh in tortillas and with all of the fixins.

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