Summer Entertaining – Oyster Cup & Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce

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On a recent week-end we enjoyed the Argentinian cooking of the catering crew on the polo fields of the 2014 Oyster Cup benefiting the Emergency Fund for Breast Cancer.  The Cerro Pampa Polo Club has such a  beautiful setting and a very family friendly environment.    One of so many things to love about this event apart from the food is that after the polo matches everyone dances together.  Adults, kids of all ages, and a handful of dogs.  It is always so much fun for me, but I was pleasantly surprised this year to find that my teenagers still enjoyed going.  The afternoon also proved that you don’t need a kitchen to feed a large group of people.  Raw oysters, grilled meat and some chimichurri is all you need.

Argentina is known for high quality meats and they did not disappoint serving grilled steak and Chimichurri sauce with lots of crunchy bread and side salads to the hungry spectators and players on the polo field.   This dinner complimented the oyster bar that was open during the polo match.  Both the dinner and oysters were delicious.  No recipe required for raw oysters of course, but this is the recipe from the master’s at Food Network for Steak Gaucho-Style with Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce.  I make my own Chimichurri, but use whatever herbs I have on hand and love it with lots and lots of fresh basil from my garden and like it served over anything (see it over grilled chicken above).  Traditional chimichurri is comprised mostly of parsley, but like many things in life, chimichurri requires that you experiment a little to suit your own tastes.

Sydney’s Chimichurri Sauce

Ingredients

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 cup lightly flat leaf parsley

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium size shallot minced

1/4 teaspoon chille pepper flakes

1 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Juice of 1/2 of a lime (use other half for garnish)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Wash and remove stems from herbs.  Then using a Bullet or food processor blend all ingredients until still a little bit chunky.  Serve immediately.  Store remaining sauce in an airtight container,  but note that this sauce will not last more than a few days and is best as soon as it is made.

 

ABOUT CERRO PAMPA POLO FIELDS

Cerro Pampa Polo Club, located in Petaluma, California, is a full-sized, fully-boarded Bermuda Grass Polo Field with and exercise track and on-site boarding. Cerro Pampa, made famous by the Oyster Cup Tournament enjoys a younger polo crowd with a laid back atmosphere. It’s a fun place to learn and play polo and is the San Francisco bay area’s only polo club.

Summer Bucket List – Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland

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My summer bucket list included taking my children to the much celebrated Brown Sugar Kitchen for breakfast before school started.  My obsession began one chilly December morning when two of my best friends took me there for my birthday.  They insisted I order the fried chicken and waffles, because this is what Brown Sugar is famous for.  I resisted, liking neither waffles nor fried chicken, and having these for breakfast was not going to happen.  I ordered something so totally unmemorable that I honestly can’t remember what it was.  I do, however, remember fondly the fried potatoes that came with it, but that was before I took a bite off the plate of my friend.  Because it was my birthday she politely allowed me to devour her breakfast.   I recall she ordered herself an extra scone and insisted she was stuffed.  Since then, I’ve wanted to return, but week-ends are brutally busy there and at home and soccer practice filled every weekday morning.  Today the clouds parted, the sun came out and we had a free morning.  The only problem was we had some over night guests, so we took them all along on a culinary adventure to West Oakland.

We had a 10 minute wait and then the five of us sat down.  I was definitely with the waffle loving crowd so there was no question – they all wanted waffles, but I had to sell the fried chicken which none of them were interested in until they tasted it.  It was as delicious as remembered.  They soak it in buttermilk, then fry it and then bake it, but what makes it really amazing is the tarragon.  Since December I have used tarragon (dried from Whole Foods) in all the chicken I make.  That and paprika.  Tanyan Holland, the chef and owner studied French cooking and it shows.  She insists that you can use all the fresh ingredients you want, but it’s really all about pumping up the flavor (I read this in the one and only copy of her cookbook, available September 2014, while I waited for my food).  That’s why they call her the Queen of Flavor – I discovered this on her website, Brown Sugar Kitchen, click to read more about Tanya and her new book.  But what is truly amazing is how she has taken this little sliver of West Oakland and turned it into such a cozy, happy, fun and delicious place.

We started with the hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows, the teens spilled one of these  all over the table, floor and each other (note: this required a little extra in the tip department). Then the waffles and fried chicken.  Who knew waffles could taste like this? They are as light as air, but have a fabulous texture.  The service was excellent, the food fabulous and now I love chicken and waffles for breakfast.  It was definitely worth the trip. For reviews and location click http://www.yelp.com/biz/brown-sugar-kitchen-oakland.

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Laguna Beach or Orecchiette Pasta for Four

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P & S @ Laguna Beach

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Oak Street Beach

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Dana Point – Summer 2014

I have just returned from a fabulous trip to Laguna Beach.  The salt air and glorious azure water, plus seeing old friends, made it the perfect August escape.  When I returned I decided to make this little comfort food dinner to get everyone to bed early and back into their summer sports routine.  

Because this pasta doesn’t have a cream sauce, just a little olive oil and parmesan sprinkled on the top, it is fairly low calorie while still providing a nice carb load to help everyone feel full and sleep a little sounder.  Not to mention it is totally scrumptious.  

If you get to Laguna, the Oak St. beach is my favorite.  Make sure you take the time to check out Laguna Surf & Sport and ask for Russell if you want a surf lesson.  Happy summer. 

Chicken Asparagus Orecchiette Pasta

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Ingredients

1 box orecchiette pasta

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves of garlic diced

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed

1 bunch slender asparagus 

4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese in small pieces or balls

Sea salt and ground fresh pepper to taste

1/2 cup parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

Preparation

Prepare pasta as per package directions, but ensure pasta is not over cooked.  While pasta cooks heat olive oil in a sauté pan and brown garlic on medium heat.  Add the chicken and cook until white throughout – about 10 minutes.  Cut asparagus one inch below tips and cook toward the end of the cooking time with the chicken.  Tips should be fairly crunchy (about 2 minutes).  In a pasta bowl toss chicken mixture with cooked pasta and add mozzarella while still hot.   Mozzarella should be slightly melted, then add salt and pepper to taste.  Top each serving with a generous amount of parmesan.