Showing posts with label tuna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tuna. Show all posts

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Tomato Pintxos for Labor Day or Any Day

On a trip to Northern Spain in the spring, I discovered pintxos.
In Spanish bars, the appetizers served with beverages are tapas (about which everyone knows), pintxos and bocadilas. There's an easy way to distinguish one from the other. No bread on the plate, it's tapas. One slice of grilled bread, pintxos. Two pieces of bread (or a roll), bocadillas.
Bar food can be as simple as a bowl of beer nuts, but in Spain having a bite to eat in a bar means something very different.
On the trip, we ate elaborately designed pintxos with shrimps riding bareback on saddles of caramelized onions and smoked salmon that topped freshly grilled slices of sourdough bread.
Others featured anchovies with hardboiled eggs, whole roasted piquillo (small red peppers) stuffed with tuna fish, prosciutto wrapped around wild arugula leaves, delicately thin omelets rolled around finely chopped seasoned tomatoes and flat strips of roasted red bell peppers topped with slabs of brie and an anchovy fillet.
The invention and flavors of pintxos are unlimited. Think of wonderfully supportive flavors and textures to place on top the solid foundation of a thin slice of grilled bread and you have a beautiful and tasty appetizer to go with an ice cold beer, glass of crisp white wine or a refreshing summer cocktail like fresh fruit Sangria.
Tomato Pintxos with Fresh Tomatoes, Thin Sliced Olives and Dried Oregano

One of the best pintxos I enjoyed on the trip was the simplest. Don't get me wrong, I loved the elaborately constructed shrimp pintxos at Atari Gastronteka (Calle Mayor 18, 20001 Donostia-San Sebasti├ín, Spain, 34 943 44 07 92) in San Sebasti├ín, but in Oviedo, near the Cathedral in the old town, in a working man's bar away from the tourist crush, A'Tarantella (Calle Jesus n 1, Oviedo, Spain, 985 73 81 65) restaurant served a simple pintxos that was one of my favorites.
Thin slices of tomatoes were laid on top of a piece of grilled bread, seasoned only with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, sliced, pitted olives were scattered on top and dusted with dried oregano.

Easy to prepare. Simple flavors. Delicious.

For the bread, a dense white or whole wheat loaf is best. The tomatoes should be fresh and ripe but firm.

The individual ingredients can be prepared an hour ahead but the pintxos should be assembled just before serving to prevent the bread from becoming soggy from all those delicious tomato juices.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 large, ripe but firm farmers market fresh tomatoes
12 large, pitted green olives, thin sliced, 1/8"
8 slices thin sliced French bread
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

Slice the bread 1/4" thick. Grill on a hot barbecue, cast iron frying pan with grill ridges or roast in a 450 F oven for a few seconds to put grill-marks on each side. Remove. Set aside.
Set up an assembly line with the ingredients ready to go as soon as the bread is grilled.

Using a sharp chefs knife, slice the tomatoes as thin as possible. The tops and bottoms of the tomatoes should not be used. They can be finely chopped and used as a topping for another pintxos or to create a salsa.

Assemble each tomato pintxos in the following order: grilled bread, drizzled with olive oil, tomato slices, pitted olive slices, a seasoning of dried oregano, sea salt, black pepper and (optional) a final drizzle of olive oil.

Serve immediately with ice cold beverages.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuna Tartar Swims into Summer at MoMA's The Modern in NYC

Earlier in the year I had a great meal. Change that. A really great meal. Working on an article for Bespoke Magazine about multi-course upscale dining, I interviewed Chef Gabriel Kreuther at MoMA's The Modern.

We talked on the phone for half an hour during which time he told me about his culinary background ("Alsatian"), his opinion about double-digit multi-course dining like Thomas Keller's 24 course-meals ("afterwards, aren't there maybe 2 or 3 dishes that were memorable? why not just have those next time.") and why he loved cooking in a museum ("the art inspires me in the kitchen").

At the end of the conversation he offered, "Next time you're in New York, I want you to come to the restaurant and taste my food." Happily I was flying into the city the next day so I could accept the invitation.
His multi-course meal took ten dishes, four deserts and 6 wine pairings before we folded up our napkins. I had a combination of dishes with meat, seafood and vegetables. My wife was served pescetarian dishes. All the dishes were beautifully plated. The flavors exquisitely structured. The wines, many from Alsace, were crisp, light and delicious.
Sitting at a table along the window, we had a good view of the sculpture garden where a cocktail party was in progress. Waiters passed around appetizers and wine. The sun set. The garden was reduced to shapes with over head lights picking out a detail here and there. Inside the feeling was muted elegance. A very different feeling from the large and boisterous Cafe on the other side of the thick paneled wall.

Chef Kreuther was kind enough to let me write about one of his recipes, One, which can be made in a home kitchen without the roomful of sous chefs who help him create the dishes for the restaurant. The tartar recipe is simple although it has half a dozen components, half of which go to creating the exquisite design on the plate.

For a dinner party or special occasion, a dish like the tartar is a lot of fun and it will be one of the dishes everyone remembers.

For Zester DailyNext to MoMA's Sculpture Garden, Tuna Is A Work Of Art






New York City Restaurant Recommendations for an LA Friend Who Is Visiting the City

Ever since I was a babe-in-arms, I have visited New York every year from my home in Los Angeles.    I grew up visiting New York City becau...