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Monday, March 22, 2010

Farmers Market Finds

On a recent trip to the Mercato (the amazing famers market in Little Italy) I came across an ingredient that I have never use. Not as rare of an occurrence as you might think.

The ingredient~ Stinging Nettle; I know it doesn’t sound very appetizing; more like it instills fear and a look of “are you seriously going to eat that” (at least that was the look my mom gave me when she saw me cleaning the nettles with rubber cloves on).

The nettles (a common shrub) have “venom” in then and if touched in the raw state it makes your skin sting a little. But when cooked, they crisp when fried or braise like collard greens. The nettles have an herbal flavor; almost a cross between spinach, arugula and fennel.

It was love at first bite and I have been play with every idea I can think of for cooking them. From sautéed in a pasta sauce, to cooked and add to my scrambled eggs (these where my two favorites).

If you too are inspired to cook with the stinging nettle, they can be found at “Suzies Farm” booth in either the Little Italy or the Hillcrest farmers markets. But act now; I am not sure how long they will have them for.

Spaghetti with Pancetta, Garlic, and Stinging Nettles
Serves 2

¼ cup Pancetta, cut into small cubes
½ tsp Garlic, minced
½ cup Stinging nettles
1 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
¼ lb Spaghetti
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil.
Blanch stinging nettles, place into ice water and strain.
Remove leaves from stems and roughly chop leave in small dice (discarding stems).
Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat, add pancetta. Cook till pancetta pieces are golden and crisp.
Add spaghetti to boiling water with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
Strain pasta and reserve 3 tablespoons of cooking liquid.
Heat sauté pan with pancetta over medium high heat; add garlic and cook till fragrant.
Add stinging nettles; stir to combine and cook till leaves begin to crisp.
Add cooking liquid and pasta; stir to coat pasta in sauce.
Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
To serve, twirl pasta around the end of a set of tongs and place onto a plate, garnish with Parmesan.

Bubble Gum Vodka!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know, really they stopped letting camel cigarettes use the cartoon camel but they allow bubble gum flavored vodka!?!

I have to admit it is really good. Yes I may be a bit bias, as I was the little kid that always ordered the bubble gum ice cream.

You might be wondering where you might be able to get such a strange and glorious concoction. Well you can find it at your local liquor store (or Bev Mo). A company by the name of “Three Olives” makes a Bubble Gum vodka (and it is not extremely pricey). Or if you wonder the internet you can find quite a few recipes. Yes I said it there are recipes, most of which use Bazooka bubble gum ( This is even more awesome, since now I finally have a use for the gum (and I can just sit back and read all the Bazooka Joe comics I want)!

I first came across the wonderful elixir at a local watering hole (called The Office). They serve a beautifully bubble gum pink Bubble Gum Shots (sorry no picture, was having too much fun). But I think I may have been able to copy there recipe, I hope that is some conciliation.

Bubble Gum Shot
2 oz Bubble Gum Vodka
4 oz Lemon lime soda
Splash Pomegranate juice
Superfine sugar

In a shaker with ice, combine Bubble Gum Vodka, lemon lime soda, and pomegranate juice. Shake to incorporate.
Rim half of a rocks glass with superfine sugar.
Strain shaker into glass.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Silky Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse

Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse
Serves 6 to 8

1 3/4 cups Whipping cream
1 tsp Gelatin
1 ½ cups Semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup + 1 tbsp Frangelico or hazelnut liquor
2 tbsp Nutella
3 tbsp Unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes

Chill 1 ½ cups whipping cream in refrigerator. Chill metal mixing bowl and mixer beaters in freezer.

In a double boiler, combine chocolate chips, ¼ cup Frangelico, Nutella and butter. Melt over barely simmering water, stirring constantly. Remove from heat while a couple of chips are still visible. Cool, stirring occasionally to just above body temperature.

Pour remaining 1/4 cup whipping cream into a small sauté pan and sprinkle in the gelatin. Allow gelatin to "bloom" for 10 minutes. Then carefully heat until gelatin is dissolved, and there are no lumps. Do not boil or gelatin will be damaged! Stir mixture into the cooled chocolate and set aside.

In the chilled mixing bowl, beat cream and 1 tablespoon Frangelico to medium peaks. Stir ¼ of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whipped cream in two batches. There may be streaks of whipped cream in the chocolate and that is fine. Do not over work the mousse.

Spoon into bowls or martini glasses and chill for at least 1 hour (If mousses are to be refrigerated overnight, chill for 1 hour and then cover each with plastic wrap).

Garnish with toasted hazelnuts, fresh berries or a sprig of mint.


I received and email today from one of my students and I found it very inspiring and I wanted to share it.
Her limited choices in foods and budget restrictions sounded like a challenge; I thought we might be able help.

I was thinking that the creative minds that read my blog could come up with some amazing ideas. And I would love to know what you all come up with.

Thank you.

"I have been volunteering for Jewish Family Service and took a group of gals to WIC to get their WIC stamps and shop for their WIC foods. Realized that they don’t know how to Cook!! So I am teaching two very basic cooking classes in April.

I am so excited !! I could not be doing it, if I had not taken the classes with you and learned the basic approach to teaching classes.

The kitchen is very small and I will only have 6 girls per class. I am going to do my own prep, and prepare a few simple dishes in the kitchen.

I have been going thru cookbooks, pulling out simple menus using the WIC foods: Milk, bread or tortillas, eggs, beans, pasta, cheese, peanut butter, $10 worth of fruits and vegetables per month and tuna. The first class will not use any meat, but will talk about adding it to some of the foods.

All the girls in the program are either pregnant or have babies. Once they are nursing, they get some additional foods.

Each girl will get a donated re-useable grocery bag, a recipe box with the recipes, a vegetable knife, cooking spoon, and a set measuring cups and spoons.

If it goes well, I will another class in May, using meats.

Maybe in the fall I can arrange a field trip to the Mission High School Kitchen and set up a demonstration of some kind.

I have set up a field trip to Sprouts and they will "play" a scavenger hunt, reading nutrition labels, types of milk, sodium in canned and frozen foods, etc.

I will let you know how it goes!!!!"

Thanks Ele

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who said you have to drink your Whisky and Guinness on St. Patrick's Day?!?

For St. Patrick’s Day this year try something new. Like my Guinness Beef Pie, a wonderful play on a Sheppard’s Pie. Or try cooking will Bailey’s or Whisking; and drink a little less of it.

When I think about St. Patty’s Day; I think of a good Irish Pub, a clover on top of my Guinness, and a lot of good laughs. I tried my best to incorporate all of those things into a menu for my feast. I did this by playing around with classic pub food like meat pies and mashed potatoes.

Here is my full feast, a display of all the great flavors and booze Ireland has to offer-

Whisky Glazed Carrots and Parsnips, Sweet and Sour Sautéed Cabbage and Swiss Chard with Caraway Seed and Bacon, Turnip Horseradish Mashed Potatoes, Guinness Beef Pie, and Bailey’s Chocolate Pudding

Guinness Beef Pie Recipe
Serves 4

1 ½ lb Ground beef, 80% lean or less ( I don't recomend extra lean for this)
2 tbsp Vegetable oil
To taste Salt and Pepper
2 tbsp Unsalted butter
3 tbsp All-purpose flour
2 tbsp Tomato paste
1 cup Chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Guinness or stout
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Onion, finely diced
1/2 cup Celery, finely dice
1 tbsp Fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 tbsp Fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tsp Dry mustard powder

Flour or as needed
1 Sheet puff pastry
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp Water
1/4 cup Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a large sauté pan heat oil over medium heat and brown ground beef, you may need to do this in two batches in order to get beef brown. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and separate meat from pan drippings, set aside.
Whisk together beef drippings, chicken stock and tomato paste, to remove any lumps.
Add butter to the pan and melt over medium heat.
Add flour and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until flour begins to turn light brown in color.
Slowly whisk in chicken stock mixture, beer, and Worcestershire sauce.
Bring to a simmer, add onion and celery. Cook till thickened. Return beef to the pan along with thyme, rosemary and dry mustard powder.
Stir to combine and cool completely.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour or as needed, onto countertop and roll pastry till doubles in size.
Place baking dish onto the pastry sheet and cut the dough just slightly larger than the dish.
Divide cooled filling amongst the baking dishes.
Stir together egg and water.
Cover each bowl, pressing sides lightly to help adhere. Brush pastry tops with some of egg mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Bake pies until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tempeh, the I can’t believe it’s not meat; meat!

My advanced coking class (Part 3) in San Marcos recently had there “Iron Chef” night; an evening for students to explore their creativity and to challenge themselves.

The theme was Vegetarian (inspired by Dr. Jenn) and students were given a choice of meat substitutes. The students came up with some amazing inspired creations.

One of the options being tempeh, an item that many students (and people in general) are not familiar with. I am here to help you get familiar with it.

Tempeh is made from cooked and slightly fermented soybeans and formed into a patty, or I should say a log and holds together like a firm veggie burger. Many commercially prepared brands add other grains, and also add spices and extra flavors. When you mix grains and tempeh; you get a great texture and nutty flavor. Although tempeh is made from soy, it has a unique texture (think a soy bean and mushroom veggie burger, in a good way) and is nothing like tofu.

If you aren't fond of tofu don’t fear the tempeh!

It is also very high in protein and calcium, as well as beneficial isoflavones and a great vegetarian option other than tofu.

My preference is to steam (or boil) tempeh to soften the and remove any possible off flavors before marinating, cooking and serving. To steam, place the full “log” in a steamer for approximately 10 minutes, flipping half way through. Then add to a stir fry (instead of tofu), or crumble into soups or chili.

Because of its firm texture, you need to slice tempeh into small dices or cubes (so as not to overdo it), not more than 3/4 inch thick.

For class we steamed the log of tempeh, coated it in a BBQ spice rub (allowing 15 minutes to rest and absorb flavors), brushed the entire log in oil and grilled till warmed through. Served on a grilled baguette with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. SOOOOO YUMMY!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Passover Recipe

With the upcoming holidays I just thought I would pass on a few recipes that I thought might help to make the day taste a bit better.
Easter recipes to come (glazed ham).

Matzo Ball Soup
Serves 4- 6

1 Egg
1 tbsp Chicken broth
1 ½ tbsp Rendered chicken fat, at room temperature
¼ cup Matzo meal
½ tsp Salt

In a large bowl mix together egg and chicken broth, add matzo meal, chicken fat and salt.
Stir to combine and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Bring 4 cups of water to water to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer.
With a mini ice cream scoop or 2 small spoons; scoop balls of matzo meal mixture into water.
Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

4 cups Low sodium chicken broth
15 Baby carrots
Matzo balls
¼ cup Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

In a stockpot bring chicken broth to a boil and reduce heat to medium low.
When stock is simmering; add carrots and matzo balls, cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until carrots are fork tender.
Season with salt and pepper, garnish with parsley.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Quick list of classes for March, April and May

Chef Jenn's Upcoming Hands on Cooking Classes:

At Torrey Pines High School and La Costa Canyon High School

• Spa Cuisine- healthy cuisine (4 weeks)- at Torrey Pines High School
-Wednesdays~ May 5 - 26, 2010 $131 from 6 to 9 p.m.

• Asian Cuisine- specializing in Chinese & Japanese cuisines (2 weeks)
-at Torrey Pines High School-Wednesdays~ April 21 - 28, 2010 $75 from 6 to 9 p.m.

• Spanish Cuisine- specializing in Mexican & Cuban cuisine(2 weeks)
-at La Costa Canyon High School-Thursdays~ April 22 - 29 2010 $75 from 6 to 9 p.m.

• Italian for Beginners Part 2- a repeat of our popular Italian cooking for beginners series
(4 weeks)- at La Costa Canyon High School-Thursdays~
May 6 - 27, 2010 $131 from 6 to 9 p.m.

• Mediterranean Cooking Class- specializing in Greek & Moroccan cuisine (2 weeks)
-at La Costa Canyon High School-Thursdays~ June 3 - 10 2010 $75 from 6 to 9 p.m.

To register online go to
Or call (760) 753-7073 ext. 5103

Hands on Cooking Classes in San Marcos at Mission Hills High School

Culinary Basics (Italian, French, Asian, Regional American, and more) 11 weeks for $50! All food and supplies are provided for you.

• Part 1 (Tue) March 30 to June 15, 2010
• Part 2 (Mon) March 29 to June 14, 2010

Registration opens March 15

To register contact Roberta at (760) 752-1272

For any other questions please contact Chef Jenn at (858) 212- 9054

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Looking for a place to dine in San Diego....I highly recomend The Linkery

The Linkery

Don’t be daunted by a menu the size of the constitution; with just a few more words. Every word helps you better understand what you are eating and where that food comes from. With a wine and beer list as long as the menu it’s self.

The menu opens with a list of the Linkery’s “farmers and artisans”. These are the people responsible for harvesting and producing the food which is skillfully transformed into your meal. Eat ingredient in your dish is branded with the initials of its source.

With a menu that encompasses everything from Baja Oysters to Berkshire pork; you know you are in for an amazing journey. My journey began with a glass of the “mixed tape”. That’s right the mixed tape is back. And no, it’s not some sappy combination of love songs for that girl you just can’t stop thinking about- it is a bold blend of grapes (Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre, and Petit Sirah) that scream for food. Made especially for the Linkery by the wine Garage in Napa Valley.

First course of “Octail”, is the most amazing octopus civiche! Flavors that took me right back to the beaches of Baja.

And a uncomplicated plate of “House cured beef bresaola”, cleanly plated with olive oil, navel oranges, and smoked sea salt. Simple plating but by no means simple flavors.

We split an order of the “Lowcountry boil”. A house specialty indeed! With clams (Sunburst Manilas) that where cooked to perfection and tasted of fresh sea water, shrimp (wild Mexican) that where so sweat and house-made andouille sausage that had the perfect kick of spices and heat. The rest of the food on the plate was just garnish to me.

When it came to dessert, well the sweet-tooth junky that I am could not have just one. Thank God, the “Lardoice cream sandwich with chocolate and hazel nut chunk cookie and candied house cured bacon” was a bit of a letdown (even though you would never know from the picture). Except for the candied bacon; sweat, salty, crispy, sexxxy!

The winner of the night was the “Carrot cake with citrus and goat cheese frosting” This dense cake was full of fall spices and covered in a layer of light-as-air, sweet goat cheese frosting.

I highly recommend dining at the Linkery!

The basics-
Located-3794 30th St
at North Park Way in North Park
San Diego CA USA

No reservations!

Open late –
Mon-Thu: 5:30pm - 11:30pm
Fri-Sat: noon - 11:30pm
Sun: 11am - 11:30pm

Contact-(619) 255 8778 or

Staff are very friendly and helpful, knowledgeable of the food and beverages. There when we need them and otherwise they step back and let you enjoy your meal.

A cozy atmosphere of dark wood and booths and bar tables, surrounding a glass cube of a kitchen. If you are a foodie or love to watch cooking shows I recommend asking for a table with a view of the kitchen.

Friday, March 5, 2010

San Diego Restaurant Supply

Took a trip downtown to visit San Diego Restaurant Supply today; I needed a few things like large plastic cutting boards, wooden reamer, and mini cupcake liners.

As to be expected a quick trip turned into an hour of me trying to decide “what do I really need”.

If you don’t know SDRS is open to the public. Yes, you (the home cook or avid foodie) can shop here to pro’s do!

The store is a cross bread between the classic restaurant supply warehouse and a modern cookware store, with all the tools and equipment you have ever wanted at reasonable prices.

1202 Market St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-239-8107
Fax: 619-239-1200

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Quick note from one of my students

I hate talking myself up, so when ever I can let a student say a few kind words on behalf I am happy to share them.
Here is an email I received today from one of my students-
"Thanks Chef Jenn!

Last night's dinner was great, and Brett and I will make that dinner again! Brett woke up this morning and talked about it at length. haha.

Yes, I would love to have your bread pudding recipe, and sorry to give you a start when I was referring to my horrendous bread pudding (that was not your recipe) disaster that even the ants would not touch! haha.

Best Regards,

p.s. thanks you for being the best and most gifted teacher we have encountered!

g.g. and brett schaumburg"

Wine Country Menu- Week 1 with Wine Pairing

Week 1 Menu
Fresh Corn Chowder

Arugula, Red Onion and Grape Tomato Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing

Citrus Cedar Plank Salmon with a Citrus Buerre Blanc Sauce

Stone Fruit Cobbler

To better show case the flavors of this meal you will need wines that can cut through the fattiness of the Citrus Buerre Blanc sauce served with the Salmon, a wine with goof acid will do that. A Sauvignon Blanc is a food example; wine known for it's tangy acidity and citrus notes.

Might I suggest- Benziger Family Windery Signaterra Sauvignon Blanc, Shone Farm, Russian River Valley This crisp, clean, lightly minerally, well balanced wine is not only delicious it is also eco-friendly; grown both organically and sustainably.

The 2008 Signaterra Sauvignon Blanc, Shone Farm was named one of the "Top 100 Wines 2009" by the San Francisco Chronicle.

That is not to say that a buttery lightly oaked Chardonnay would not work or a light red like some Pinot Noir’s or Cab Francs. Please let me know what wines you like or think would work well with this menu.