Posts Tagged ‘tomato’

Stone Brewery Fresh Dinner October 2009

October 20th, 2009 by Justin | 2 Comments | Filed in Reviews

Like everything at Stone Brewery, their quarterly Fresh Dinner event is absolutely epic.  Just like their bistro, the catalyst for this event was Stone’s dedication to local, organic foods, and the Slow Food movement.  The dinner consisted of a six course meal plus an intermezzo and appetizer prepared by executive chef, Alex Carballo, and his staff.

Cucumber, Bell Pepper and Onion Salad; Freshly Baked Rolls

A great way to start any dinner, this light salad was tossed with olive oil pressed fresh that day which was delicious, rich and earthy.  The fresh olive oil was a re-occurring ingredient throughout the meal and paired well with the rolls.

Ginger Roasted Winter Squash Soup

Served in a snifter and one of my favorites of the night with just the right touch of ginger.  I just wish there was more of it to go around.

Arrogant Bastard Ale Battered “Fanny Bay” Oysters with a Mussel and Clam Seafood Vinaigrette

Anything fried is without a doubt heavenly, and this dish was no exception.  Add to that the near perfect, light and flaky beer batter and you have a course that was hard to beat.  Luckily for all in attendance, this was easily blown out of the water by the dishes to follow.

Intermezzo: Beet and Apple Juice

An off-menu intermezzo, the combination beet and apple juice shooter was quite tasty (even to someone who doesn’t like beets!) and cleared the palette at just the right time.

Spiny Lobster Tamale with Roasted Poblano Sauce

  • Local lobster supplied by Pacific Shellfish, caught off the coast of La Jolla
  • Poblanos from Dragon Organics
  • Masa and corn husks from Esperanza’s Tortilleria

Chef Carballo substituted lard for freshly made butter to produce the best use of lobster ever I’ve ever enjoyed.  The poblano sauce, which was mixed with other chilies, was delicious with a great roasted taste, but the tamale was moist and savory enough to stand on its own.

Herbed Crepes Stuffed with Mushrooms, Fresh Ricotta and Topped with Charred Tomato Compote

  • Eggs from Eben-Haezer Poultry Ranch
  • Herbs from Dragon Organics and Stone Bistro Gardens
  • Mushrooms from Mountain Meadow Mushrooms
  • Ricotta made in-house from fresh milk from De Jong’s Dairy
  • Tomatoes from Connelly Gardens

What can I say about these?  Served in tandem with the tamales, these hearty crepes were simply excellent.  Like the whole of the meal, the compote was simple and unassuming, but showed the strengths of sticking to the basics and letting the natural flavors of the food speak for themselves.

Arugula and Persimmon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Arugula from La Milpa Organica
  • Persimmons from Crows Pass Farm
  • Lemons from Vivian Blackstone
  • Olive Oil from Temecula Olive Oil Company

Unfortunately, there has to be a least favorite and this course was it for me.  Even though the persimmons were beautiful, it’s my personal preference that arugula doesn’t stand well on its own, and that it goes better when mixed with other greens.  Others, of course, disagreed and ate it all up.

Two Lemon Tart with Candied Lemon Zest and Pomegranate

  • Eggs and pomegranates from Eben-Haezer Poultry Ranch
  • Lemons from Vivian Blackstone (Meyer and Lisbon??)

I love strong lemon flavors (sometimes eating them as one would an apple or orange) so I’m routinely disappointed by desserts that feature lemon but turn up weak in flavor.  But by this point in the meal, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.  The candied zest, which I’ve never seen before, was both novel and addictive, and this dessert finished the night with a bang and great flavor.

Tomatoes are, by far, my favorite vegetable, so it made it hard to deny the herbed crepes the honor, but my favorite course of the night was, hands down, the spiny lobster tamales with roasted poblano sauce.  I was sad to force myself not to eat anymore of these so that I could save room for dessert.  Thankfully, dessert was far from disappointment.

Without a doubt, the night was a great success and worth the hour drive to get to the brewery.  If you think good food has celebrity value, then this event was absolutely star-studded.  I can’t wait till tickets for the winter event are available.

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Fresh Chile Citrus Salsa

July 7th, 2009 by Justin | Comments Off on Fresh Chile Citrus Salsa | Filed in Salsas, Sauces

I don’t watch a lot of television, but when I do, I naturally gravitate toward the Food Network.  And, unashamedly so, two of my favorite shows are Chopped and Iron Chef.  I just so happened to be watching Bobby Flay competing on Iron Chef last Sunday, and noticed that he had four or five blenders filled with different combinations of vegatables and what not to be pureed into sauces.

Since I was planning on making tacos some time soon (which happened to be yesterday), I decided to give this technique a try.  Also, I just so happened to have the luck of having a roommate who recently took up gardening,  so I had all of these peppers hanging around fresh on my balcony.  “Fresher is better” and all that.


  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 3 jalepeños
  • 3 banana chiles
  • 3 Anaheim chiles
  • 2 limes
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbps. extra virgin olive oil

Remove the tops of the tomatoes, quarter and add to blender.  Add the juice of the lemon and limes.

In a small pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and peppers.  Toss till well coated.  Roast until the chiles begin to blacken on each side.  Turn with tongs to get an even roasting.  Be careful not to burn them as you don’t want flaky bits of ash in your salsa.  The entire process takes about 7-10 minutes.

Once roasted, remove the chiles from the pan and place on a cutting board to cool.  Do not rinse or wipe them down.  Once you are able to handle them, remove the stems.  Leaving the seeds in while provide more spice,but if you or your guests can’t handle the heat, deseed them as well.  The chiles should be very tender, and able to be quickly deseeded with a quick scrape of a spoon.

Add the prepared chiles to the blender and puree until liquefied.

Spicy to the lips and sweet to the palate.  Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

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Chicken ala Ackbar

July 1st, 2009 by Justin | Comments Off on Chicken ala Ackbar | Filed in Meals

So here’s a chicken dish that’s been turning out well with some consistency in both preparation and review.


  • 2 Chicken breasts, butterflied (or enough for 4 people)
  • 2 Tomatoes (cubed)
  • 2 Onions (cubed)
  • 2 cups (or 4 servings) jasmine rice (prepared as directed on package)
  • Fontina, shredded
  • Olive oil
  • Red vinegar
  • 2 lemons, or 5 tbsp. juice
  • Dry white wine (optional)
  • Green Tabasco (optional)
  • 1 tbsp Basil
  • Fresh ground pepper (buy a mill, dammit)
  • Garlic powder
  • Cilantro, whole or chopped (as a garnish)

Ready? Go!

Prepare the rice as directed on the package. The time here will depend on the type of rice and the method in which you prepare it. Lacking a rice cooker, I choose to cook on the stove top which, taking about 20 minutes, is a perfect time for this dish as the whole thing should take about that long. While the rice is cooking, begin cooking the vegetables and chicken as follows.

In a small frying pan, begin caramelizing the onions in 2 tbsp. olive oil and of red vinegar each over medium heat, breaking up the onions into smaller pieces while cooking.  Add basil and a pepper to taste.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, turning the onions occasionally so as not to burn. Reduce heat to low and add the tomatoes, stirring carefully to distribute the tomatoes without smashing them. Cover and let sit on a low heat until the rest of the dish is ready.

Meanwhile, in a separate pan large enough to hold all of the chicken without overlapping, again start with 2 tbsp. olive oil and red vinegar over medium heat. Once the red vinegar begins to bubble, add the chicken to the pan.  After about 5 minutes, add lemon juice, a dash of white wine (optional), garlic powder (enough to lightly coat the chicken), and a dash of Tabasco (optional).  Cover and reduce heat to low.

Allow the chicken to cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes, turn, and recover.  Since we will be cooking the chicken for about 15-20 minutes, be sure to use a low heat so as not to over-cook and dry the chicken out.   When the chicken is almost ready, uncover, raise the heat to hi, and turn the chicken again. Allow the chicken to cook briefly just long enough to slightly sear the presentation side (1 to 2 minutes).

A dish best served funky…

Serve the chicken, presentation side up on a bed of rice and top with the onions and tomatoes (don’t forget the juice!).  Garnish with shredded Fontina and whole or chopped cilantro.  For the Tabasco inclined, a little of the green stuff goes well with or without the cilantro.   Some corn tortillas would also be nice.

Serves 4.

The whole meal only takes about 25-30 minutes with preparation.   The Fontina, a softer and mild cheese, can, of course, be substituted with something else to your liking. I suggest that you keep it soft and mild.  However, if you want to go hard, try some Parmesan.  But if I catch you using that Kraft trash, I will break into your house and tear your wife in half!

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