Show 562, January 27, 2024: Chef Andrew Gruel, Co-Host and Proprietor of Calico Fish House, with “Ask the Chef”

Chef Andrew Gruel of Big Parm and the Calico Fish House

Our own Chef Andrew Gruel, the menu-maker behind the full-service Calico Fish House (in the Sunset Beach area of Huntington Beach) and also the founder and pizzaiola of the fast-casual Big Parm (New Jersey-style pizza) located in the Mess Hall in Tustin provides another timely and informative Ask the Chef segment where he responds to listeners’ thoughtful inquiries.

What’s the best cooking oil to use in various applications? Can you cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil? Chef Andrew provides a measure of helpful guidance. We’ve been asked to talk about the specific impact of the increase in minimum wage in California on restaurants and its effect on staffing levels. Hidden costs there, too…Chef Andrew weighs in on this.

Look for Chef Andrew’s new cooking video with Cathy Thomas on Orange Coast Magazine. He prepares One-Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Potatoes (from Melissa’s), mushrooms, and garbanzo beans.

Check out Chef Andrew’s handy and practical cooking tips on Substack at “American Gravy.” There is an accessible free level as well as a premium option with a modest cost.

Show 543, September 16, 2023: IL Fiorello Olive Oil Company, Fairfield, CA Part One

Ann Sievers of Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company

IL Fiorello Olive Oil Company is a family-owned company dedicated to growing and milling the finest quality artisan olive oil. Owners Ann and Mark Sievers produce oil from their own certified organic groves. Their properties are located in Green Valley and Suisun Valley between Fairfield and Napa Valley, a still-rural area where creek-side soils allow good drainage for the trees.”

“An interactive Olive Oil Tasting is offered daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Reservations are required, 14 ppl maximum. $25 per person. Enjoy a comparative tasting of IL Fiorello’s Extra Virgin Olive Oils, Co-Milled Oils, and Balsamic Vinegar Reductions. Led by their experienced staff, you will learn how to appreciate olive oils and enjoy a chef-crafted food pairing to expand your palate. Reserve ahead for Charcuterie & Cheeseboards or Soup of the Month.”

“A Farm Menu prepared by their on-site chef is available daily from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Reservations strongly advised.”

“A Tour & Olive Oil Tasting experience generally commences at 10:00 a.m. and are available daily. Reservations are required. The time limit is 2 hours ($50/person)”

“During the tour of the IL Fiorello organic property, the guide discusses the history of olive oil, the significance of the term extra virgin, and the production of their international award-winning olive oils. Guests visit the olive grove to look at the different olive varieties and how IL Fiorello cares for their trees. The tour continues with a visit to their state-of-the -art Pieralisi Gold olive mill, capable of milling 5 tons of olives an hour. The Tour concludes with a guided tasting of IL Fiorello’s olive oils and balsamic vinegar reductions.”

Founder and distinguished Culinary Educator Ann Sievers joins us along with Husband and Founder, Mark Sievers.

Show 543, September 16, 2023: IL Fiorello Olive Oil Company, Fairfield, CA Part Two

Ann Sievers of Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company

IL Fiorello Olive Oil Company is a family-owned company dedicated to growing and milling the finest quality artisan olive oil. Owners Ann and Mark Sievers produce oil from their own certified organic groves. Their properties are located in Green Valley and Suisun Valley between Fairfield and Napa Valley, a still-rural area where creek-side soils allow good drainage for the trees.”

“An interactive Olive Oil Tasting is offered daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Reservations are required, 14 ppl maximum. $25 per person. Enjoy a comparative tasting of IL Fiorello’s Extra Virgin Olive Oils, Co-Milled Oils, and Balsamic Vinegar Reductions. Led by their experienced staff, you will learn how to appreciate olive oils and enjoy a chef-crafted food pairing to expand your palate. Reserve ahead for Charcuterie & Cheeseboards or Soup of the Month.”

“A Farm Menu prepared by their on-site chef is available daily from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Reservations strongly advised.”

“A Tour & Olive Oil Tasting experience generally commences at 10:00 a.m. and are available daily. Reservations are required. The time limit is 2 hours ($50/person)”

“During the tour of the IL Fiorello organic property, the guide discusses the history of olive oil, the significance of the term extra virgin, and the production of their international award-winning olive oils. Guests visit the olive grove to look at the different olive varieties and how IL Fiorello cares for their trees. The tour continues with a visit to their state-of-the -art Pieralisi Gold olive mill, capable of milling 5 tons of olives an hour. The Tour concludes with a guided tasting of IL Fiorello’s olive oils and balsamic vinegar reductions.”

Founder and distinguished Culinary Educator Ann Sievers continues with us along with Husband and Founder, Mark Sievers (the milling expert.)

Baked Ricotta Pepperonata with Herb Salad

Baked Ricotta Pepperonata with Herb Salad by Jeanne Kelley

Recipe excerpt from:
Vegetarian Salad for Dinner: Inventive Plant-Forward Meals

by Jeanne Kelley

Cooked salads are an Italian tradition. The salads are cooked during the cool hours of the day and served cool or at room temperature for lunch or dinner later. Classic Italian pepperonata is made of sautéed peppers, onions and herbs. In this version, I use sweet mini peppers and bake them until tender along with whole-milk ricotta. Top the summery ensemble with arugula, herbs and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. Serve it with warm focaccia or crusty bread.

4 Servings

  • 15- 16-ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 pounds mini sweet peppers (box peppers), stem ends trimmed
  • 10 ounces (about 2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes
  • ½ medium-sized red onion, cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 16 pitted kalamata olives
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 cup arugula leaves
  • ½ cup basil leaves

Line a strainer with cheese cloth and set the strainer over a bowl. Carefully unmold the ricotta into the prepared strainer retaining the shape of the cheese. Refrigerate the cheese uncovered for 6 hours or overnight.
 
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
 
Cut any peppers larger than your thumb in half. Toss the peppers, tomatoes, onion, olives and garlic with 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish or similarly sized pan. Make a space near the center of the pan. Carefully place the ricotta in the space and drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle the pepper mixture and cheese with, oregano, red chili and salt and season with cracked pepper.Bake in the oven until the cheese and peppers are browned and the peppers are tender, about 30 minutes. Cool until warm. 
 
Just before serving, drizzle the pepperonata with vinegar and top with arugula and basil.

Insalata di Mare / Seafood Salad

Insalata di Mare by Amy Riolo

Recipe excerpt from:
Italian Recipes for Dummies
by Amy Riolo

Prep Time: 10 Min
Cook Time: 10 Min
Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • bf 1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • Juice and zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 pound dry scallops
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless cod, haddock, or other white fish, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound baby squid tubes, cleaned and sliced in small rings
  • 1/2 cup Amy Riolo Selections or other good-quality extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 pound mussels, scrubbed well
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Additional lemon slices, for garnish

Directions

  1. Place the tomatoes, carrot, salt, pepper, and lemon zest in a large bowl, and mix well.
  2. Bring a medium-size pot 3/4 full of water to boil over high heat.
  3. Lower the heat to medium, and add the scallops and bay leaf. Cook, uncovered, until scallops are opaque, approximately 1 minute. Remove scallops with a slotted spoon to a dish lined with paper towels. Add the shrimp and fish to the water, and cook until opaque, 1–2 minutes. Transfer to another dish lined with paper towels. Add the squid and cook for approximately 40 seconds, until rings begin to tighten slightly. Remove with a slotted spoon into a colander. Immediately transfer squid to a bowl of very cold water to stop the cooking.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons EVOO and garlic cloves to a large, wide skillet with a fitted lid over a medium-high flame. When oil is hot, add mussels, toss to coat, and add 1/2 cup water over the top. Cover and cook for 2–4 minutes until mussels are open (cooked). Remove opened mussels, and set aside. If any mussels fail to open after another minute or two of cooking, discard them.
  5. In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking the EVOO and lemon juice together until emulsified.
  6. Add the seafood to a salad bowl, and stir to combine. Drizzle with dressing, and stir. Sprinkle with parsley, garnish with lemon slices, and serve immediately.

Tip

Reserve this recipe, a traditional Christmas Eve appetizer that can be enjoyed anytime, for a time when the freshest seafood and produce possible are available to you.

Pair this dish with a bottle of Passerina di Offida or similar. A white wine with a slender body, low alcohol, and a taste profile underlined by freshness, sapidity, and tropical notes.

Lemony Basil Pesto

Recipe excerpt from:
Everyday Celebrations from Scratch
by Maria Provenzano

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 heaping cups fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the pine nuts in a shallow skillet over medium heat, tossing/stirring frequently. Toast until the nuts are fragrant and slightly brown. Be careful—this can happen quickly. Allow the pine nuts to cool. Place the Parmesan cheese, basil, cooled pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic cloves into a food processor. Process all of the ingredients together for about 15 seconds. With the mixer running slowly, pour in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Process again to mix. If the pesto is too thick, add more olive oil. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days.

Lemony Brussels Sprout Salad

Beef Pad Thai by Jessica Formicola

Recipe excerpt from:
Beef It Up! – 50 Mouthwatering Recipes for Ground Beef, Steaks, Stews, Roasts, Ribs and More
by Jessica Formicola

Not all salads start with lettuce or traditional leafy greens. Here the base is composed of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts, red potatoes, and onions. Topped with thinly sliced skirt steak and a tangy lemon-herb vinaigrette, it can be served as a small starter or an entire entrée.

Serves 4
Prep TIme: 15 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 2 large red potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3–4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Toss together the Brussels sprouts, potatoes, onion, and oil in a medium bowl. Scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.
  3. Halfway through the vegetable cooking time, heat a large cast-iron pan or nonstick skillet
  4. over high heat. Season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides, then drop the steak in the pan, searing for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until just browned. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 3 to 4 minutes. Slice into small strips.
  5. To assemble the salad, divide the roasted vegetables and the steak evenly among serving dishes. Top each dish with some Parmesan and 1 tablespoon lemon vinaigrette.

Lemon Vinaigrette

Makes 3/4 cup

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Combine the garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small food processor until mixed well. (Alternatively, finely mince the rosemary, sage, and thyme, then combine with the garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl.)
  2. Add the salt, pepper, mustard, sugar, and vinegar, and mix to create a paste. Whisk in the oil until emulsified.
  3. Set the vinaigrette aside for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week, and shake or stir well before serving.

Mini Bell Peppers stuffed with Turkey and Pistachios

Mini Bell Peppers stuffed with Turkey and Pistachios by Michelle Dudash

Recipe excerpt from:
Clean Eating Kitchen: The Low-Carb Mediterranean Cookbook
by Michelle Dudash

I love those raw sweet mini bell peppers for snacking. Just wash and eat! They also look adorable stuffed with ground turkey and roasted as little appetizers. You can prep these a day in advance and pop them into the oven right before party time.

  • 1 (1-pound) bag mini bell peppers (about 16)
  • 3/4 pound ground turkey (93% lean)
  • 1⁄3 cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander (see Recipe Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut off the tops of the peppers right between the straight sides and the rounded shoulders. Pull out the seeds and membranes using your fingers or dislodge with a paring knife. Poke a hole into the pointy tips of the peppers, making an air gap to allow for easier stuffing.

In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, pistachios (reserving 2 tablespoons for later), vinegar, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, coriander, cinnamon, and pepper. Using a small spoon or butter knife, stuff the peppers with the turkey, leaving a nice rounded top protruding out a bit at the top of the peppers. Gently roll the meat ends of the peppers into the reserved pistachios. Place the peppers on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Bake until the largest peppers are blistered and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Suggestions and Variations
For a pepper-free version, you can shape the turkey into small patties and sauté in a bit of olive oil over medium heat.

Recipe Note
My preferred way to buy coriander is as whole seeds and then grinding only the amount I need in a mortar and pestle. It adds texture to the dish, where a fine powder can’t. And the aroma is dreamy. It’s one of my favorite spices, and I use it in Asian-style stir-fries, chili, and meat rubs.

Total prep and cook time: 30 minutes • Yield: 16 Servings, 1 Pepper Each

Per Serving: 57 Calories, 2 G Carbohydrate (1 G Fiber, 0 G Added Sugars, 1 G Net Carbs), 5 G Protein, 4 G Fat, 85 MG Sodium.

Mad Mocha Marbled Mousse Pie

Mad Mocha Marbled Mousse Pie by Laura Theodoreby Laura Theodore
Jazzy Vegetarian

This pie is gorgeous to look at, delicious to eat and a delight to serve! Your family and guests will think you slaved for hours creating the “fancy” marbled effect, but it’s actually super easy to do! You will please chocolate and coffee lovers alike with this impressive sweet indulgence!

CRUST

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat pan
  • 11 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded dried coconut

FILLING

  • 1 block (14 to 15 ounces) extra-firm regular tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons vegan cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold, strong brewed coffee
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan dark chocolate chips (55% to 70% cacao)
  • 1/2  cup unsweetened or sweetened nondairy milk

Generously coat a 9-inch round pie pan with olive oil. Put all of the crust ingredients in a high-performance blending appliance and process into a dough, stopping the machine and scraping the bowl several times. The dough will be very sticky. Transfer the dough to the oiled pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan (see note). Put the pie pan in the freezer for 6 to 8 minutes, and then transfer to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

To make the filling, put the tofu, sugar and coffee into a blender and process until very smooth. Transfer 1/3 cup of the tofu/coffee mixture to a small bowl and reserve. Add the chocolate chips to the top of the remaining tofu mixture (that is still in the blender container).

Put the nondairy milk into a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat. Immediately pour the simmering nondairy milk over the chocolate chip mixture and process for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until it becomes completely smooth. Pour the chocolate filling into the chilled crust (it will mound up slightly, above the crust). Immediately drop 5 to 6 spoonfuls of the reserved tofu/coffee mixture onto the top of the pie. Then, using a wooden skewer or the tip of a knife, gently swirl the tofu/coffee mixture into the top of the pie in a pleasing, marbleized pattern. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight), until completely set. Slice and serve!

Chef’s Notes: If you are cooking gluten free, make certain to purchase certified gluten-free tofu, available in most supermarkets.

If desired, create a decorative edge to the crust. Using the tines of a fork, press gently down around the entire outer edge of the crust to form evenly spaced lines.

Show 283, July 28, 2018: Chef Steve Samson, Superfine Pizza, DTLA

Chef Steve Samson at Superfine PizzaChef Steve Samson of Rossoblu (DTLA) and Sotto (Century City-adjacent) fame is no stranger to preparing premium pizza that generates deserved raves. The superb Neapolitan pizza he cooks at Sotto in a wood burning-oven imported from Italy and assembled on-site by Italian craftsmen is well-known.

Steps from Rossoblu he has just launched Superfine Pizza. It’s a thin-crust pizza with both Neapolitan and New York attributes. The mission is to use as many local, premium ingredients as possible. It’s by-the-slice or whole pies. Unusually the pizzas are cooked in an electric deck oven from Sweden. It gets up to temperature quickly and Chef Steve has found it to be more energy efficient than gas.

By-the-slice options include Tomato, Mozzarella, and Grana Padano ; Four Cheeses & Spinach; Escarole, Red Onion, Salt Cured Olives, Chilies, Fresh Mozzarella and Smoked Provolone; Pepperoni, Tomato, Mozzarella and Grana Padano; and Tomato, Garlic, Capers, Oregano, Chilies, Mint, Parsley, Basil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Vegan).

Chef Steve joins us with a finishing splash of California olive oil.

Delivery is on the horizon.