Friday, July 17, 2009

Guest Chef: It's Jackson

It sort of defeats the purpose of the whole guest chef idea if I include myself but I figure that since I am visiting, I am just as qualified to fit the label as anyone. Since sleeping at someone else’s house dubs you a houseguest, the label should extend to guest chef when cooking in someone else’s kitchen. My brother and his lady have been hoping that I would cook for them for quite a while after getting a taste of it in Connecticut about a month ago. I spent Friday night with some old friends and we had ourselves a pretty raucous time involving Patron and cucumber martinis, a shocking combo I know. Needless to say Saturday was a little rough so I spent it by the pool after sleeping in. The three of us decided to stay in for an early dinner before hitting the new Woody Allen movie so I ransacked the fridge and took it from there. The first course, more like a tiny salad amuse, was degorged cucumber with Dijon vinaigrette. Degorging is essentially the process of removing water from vegetables like zucchini or cucumber using salt and dry kitchen towels. After I had drained them of their liquid I tossed thin slices of cucumber with a vinaigrette spiked with basil oil and fresh basil chiffonade.

Pilar, my brother’s lady, is very pregnant and therefore must eat a ton of protein whether dairy products or animal protein so I wanted to cook something that would fill her dinnertime quota. I thought a frittata would be the perfect thing since it is made almost entirely of eggs. They had some lovely purple asparagus spears in the fridge so I went with an asparagus frittata. A frittata is an omelet of sorts that you do not have to flip; one side is fried in a skillet before being transferred to a hot oven which crisps the top half. I used about eight eggs and a tablespoon of cream for richness along with about ten asparagus spears, fibrous stems peeled and chopped. This is a really fantastic and easy dish to make because it only takes about fifteen minutes and everybody enjoys a good egg dish every now and then. Pilar enjoyed the departure from her habitual egg sandwich, cheese wedge and glass of milk, or bowl of ricotta which made the whole venture worth it.

The third dish was about as banal and simple as it gets; a green salad with sliced cherry tomatoes. The vinaigrette however was an interesting thing however, derived from a recipe I learned from my sister about a decade ago. She developed an Asian inspired vinaigrette which is nice because it is so radically different from most salad dressings, especially the French standard mustard vinaigrette. The dressing is made with pressed garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and olive oil whisked together. It is so unique and jazzes up even the dullest salad greens like iceberg and romaine. I loved visiting Los Angeles and spending time with my friends and family, going about eating and drinking in my hometown. I grew up and spent the first eighteen years of my life in LA which will always hold a place in my heart and I welcomed the opportunity to catch up, as well as cook, in the city I know and love. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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