Hoppin’ John 2011

Hoppin' New Year!

This has been an unusual New Years Day for us. We usually don’t go out and then stay out on New Years Eve, but last night we found ourselves at a kick-ass house party that kept us out until 3AM. I don’t know how much sparkling wine we drank, but let’s just say it was a lot. When we got back to the apartment, we felt a bit peckish. Our first meal of the new year consisted of a much-loved standby, soft scrambled eggs with cheese and crispy prosciutto. We ate the eggs with a day old baguette remnant that we sliced into rounds and toasted. Not a bad beginning to a new year.

Our day got off to a bit of a slow start. We figured we likely missed people’s attention for Hoppin’ John recipes by the time we got around to cooking ours, but decided in the end to get this up to get a good start on this year’s writing as well. Hoppin’ John is a perfect, classic New Years dish, loaded with rich wonderful flavors and crazy nutritious. We ended up using refrigerated, Melissa’s pre-cooked black eyed peas we picked up at Andronico’s. They were the only option as the grocery had no dried peas and we forgot to pick some up earlier in the week. It turns out the grocery peas were pretty tasty so no regrets on this year’s shortcut.

We served the Hoppin’ John over jasmine rice and sautéed chard greens that were bright with the taste of rice vinegar and red chili flakes. At the table, the plate got an extra dusting of fresh ground black pepper and a dash or three of Tabasco. The smoky kielbasa coupled with the floral scent of the rice makes for a heady, aromatherapeutic experience. While not too hot, the jalapeno adds just a touch of extra warmth. This is the kind of dish we should all be eating more often.

Sauté of Chard

1 bunch chard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, rough chop
pinch red pepper flakes
splash of rice vinegar
salt and pepper

Remove the stems from the chard leaves. Put the leaves aside. Cut the stems into a medium dice. In a sauté pan over medium heat add the olive oil and garlic cook for 30 to 1 minute. Add the chard stems, red pepper flakes and a small pinch of salt sauté for 2-3 minutes or until slightly soften. Roll the reserved leaves together in a cigar shape and cut the chard into inch wide ribbons. Add the leaves to the sauté pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the pan is starting to dry out add a tablespoon of water and cover for 2-3 minutes, or until the leaves are tender. Before serving add a splash of rice vinegar.

Hoppin’ John

2 table spoons olive oil
6 oz. kielbasa sausage, quartered lengthwise and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 ribs celery, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf
pinch of dry thyme
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups precooked black eyed peas

In a heavy stock pot or dutch oven, cook kielbasa in oil over medium heat until just slightly browned. Add everything but the chicken stock and black eyed peas to the pot with the kielbasa and sautée until vegetables soften, approximately 5 – 10 minutes. Add stock and peas and bring the pot to a low simmer. Cook, covered, for approximately 10 minutes or until the peas are tender. Discard bay leaf and serve over prepared jasmine rice with sauté of chard.

Crab and radicchio benedict

Sunday Brunch in San Francisco.

They’re here! San Francisco Bay Area crab season has launched in earnest and everyone who loves seafood couldn’t be happier. Dungeness crab is a wintertime staple in San Francisco and their seasonal arrival inspires an impressive array of extraordinary uses for the sweet, delicate meat. In addition to eating steamed crab with butter and lemon – the most delicious and simple way to enjoy them – there are countless savory concoctions that might include this wonderful crustacean. We can’t wait to start experimenting.

Our craving for eggs benedict this morning evolved into a hankering for fresh crabmeat. The inspiration came not from crab season’s start, although it has been on our minds, but from our local bakery, Arizmendi, and their fresh rustic English muffins. We’ve seen them in the case several times but today was the day we decided to give them a try, toasted as a base to buttery eggs benedict. We picked a couple of them up after hitting the Inner Sunset farmers’ market where we put the finishing touches on the Thanksgiving shopping. As we made our way home, we stopped at Andronico’s to pick up the turkey for Thursday’s feast and that’s where we spied the season’s crab bounty sitting on ice looking great. The store was running through them quickly, so we decided to grab one before today’s haul disappeared. At a reasonable $4.99 a pound we pick one out and had them crack and clean it for us (no extra charge).

Once home, we (Jason) went to work separating the crabmeat from the shell while the poaching water heated and the hollandaise butter melted on the stove. We sautéed a chopped head of Radicchio de Traviso in a bit of butter with garlic and toasted the split English muffins. We then warmed the cleaned crabmeat in a bit of butter while we poached the eggs and finished the hollandaise. The toasted muffins were plated then topped with the sautéed Radicchio followed by crabmeat, poached egg and finally, a drizzle of lemony hollandaise. The finished dish was a delicious mix of sweet (the crabmeat) and bitter (the Radicchio), made fine with creamy hollandaise and rich egg yolks. With just a sprinkle of cayenne and/or a dash of Tabasco, this has to be the ultimate San Francisco brunch dish.

Local nooks and crannies.

Quick and Easy Blender Hollandaise

6 tbsp butter

2 large egg yolks

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and white pepper

Dash of cayenne

Begin by melting the butter in a small sauce pan, warming it until the solids begin to sizzle.

Separate eggs and add the yolks to the blender. Refrigerate the egg whites for another use.  While blending the yolks, squeeze the lemon juice into the blender and then drizzle the hot butter into the mixture until fully incorporated. Add salt and white pepper and cayenne, blend for a few more seconds. Pour over the assembled