Scott’s High Heat Upside-Down Roast Turkey Recipe

iStock_000000321397XSmall.jpgFor our Christmas family dinner this year, we roasted a 12-lb turkey that turned out delicious. For the first time, we tried a new technique consisting of roasting the bird upside down (breasts down) and high-heat kickoff followed by a two step heat reduction while roasting (a total of 3 different temperatures are used). All you do is manage time and temperature – nothing could be simpler.

In the past, we’ve done brining and that works well to yield a moist bird. But the high-heat upside-down approach used here delivered just about the best, most moist turkey we’ve tasted – without the hassles of brining. Note: I kind of had to give up brining – my wife just can’t stand the thought of open bowls of water and poultry in our refrigerator – she sees salmonella dancing everywhere around! Besides, as she says, there’s never enough room in the ‘frig anyway at this time of year!

Continue reading “Scott’s High Heat Upside-Down Roast Turkey Recipe”

Scott’s Perfect Roasted Potatoes

iStock_000000984296XSmall.jpgThis Christmas Eve, instead of our usual favorite Lemon Garlic Orzo side dish, we cooked a side dish of roasted small potatoes. We found a useful recipe here and modified it just a bit — and the results were wonderful!

There’s certainly nothing particularly healthy or low-fat about this recipe – but it’s so simple and results in some great small potatoes!

Continue reading “Scott’s Perfect Roasted Potatoes”

Lemon Garlic Orzo

The original recipe for this simple side dish came from the now defunct S. Anderson Vineyard in the Stag’s Leap district of the Napa Valley. This is a great side dish for almost any meal. It’s flavors go especially well with the Roast Chicken!

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. orzo pasta
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 whole green onions, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions

  1. Cook the orzo pasta using package directions (typically, 8-10 minutes in rapidly boiling water).
  2. While cooking, mix the other ingredients together.
  3. Drain and pour orzo back into pot or bowl. Mix in the other ingredients. Garnish with a bit of parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Serve. It couldn’t be simpler!

(Added: April 22, 2001

Beef and Onion Stew

1795035092_8afc3298c6_mIntroduction

This recipe was inspired by the Holiday 2000 Williams-Sonoma Taste magazine.

Directions

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add beef and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Ingredients

3 pounds boneless, well-marbled
stew beef, cubed

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1-1/2 pounds pearl onions or
shallots, peeled

3 celery stalks, peeled and sliced

1 14-1/2-ounce can diced, peeled
tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Marinade

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

4 whole cloves

3 whole allspice berries

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Pinch of nutmeg

Drain beef, reserving marinade. Melt butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté onions and celery until softened, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl.

Add remaining olive oil to pan. Sauté beef, in batches if necessary, until browned, about 10 minutes. Return onions and celery to pan. Add reserved marinade, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper and enough water to just cover beef. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer partially covered, until beef is tender and sauce is thickened, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Yield: 4-6 servings

(Added: January 13, 2002)

Scott’s Favorite Restaurants

Here are my for places I’ve eaten in my travels. This list was begun in May 2002, last updated January 2009.

Note that I live on the San Francisco Peninsula — so my comments about restaurants closer to home are likely based upon repeat visits. My comments about restaurants in other cities are based upon my travels to various locales and based upon a more limited set of experiences with a particular restaurant. For every listing I’ve included the date of my most recent visit.

I’d welcome your comments on my recommendations here and suggestions for new places to try. Please post your comments here or email them to me.

Here are my favorite restaurants in the following locales:

See also:
San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants (4/3/05)
San Francisco Chronicle’s Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants (4/13/03).
New York Times: Fluent in French with a West Coast Accent, Paris in San Francisco (12/10/02).
Seattle Times Critic’s Choice (11/17/02).

  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Bellevue, Washington
    • Daniel’s Broiler
      • 4 Stars (September 2002) – Classic steakhouse in the penthouse of a tall downtown building. Great views when the weather permits.
  • Boston, Massachusetts
    • Clio, in the Eliot Hotel, 370 Commonwealth Avenue. (617) 536-7200
      • 5 Stars (October 2002) – A delightful restaurant with incredible food! Expensive (both the food and the wine!)
    • Hammersly’s Bistro, 553 Tremont St.South End. (617) 423-2700
      • An old stand-by in Boston, great food, bistro atmosphere.
    • Legal Sea Foods
      • Another “forever” place in Boston — noisy and crowded with reliable seafood. Wine list is very reasonably priced. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to the Kendall Square location. It’s always busy. Bring a good friend for conversation — or a book to read while you wait!
  • Hawaii-Kona Coast
    • Hawaiian Style Cafe, 65-1290 Kawaihae Rd, Kamuela, HI 96743. (808) 885-4295
      • A local place – cash only! (December 2007) – A great breakfast or lunch place (closes at 1:30 PM). About 15 miles up from the Mauna Lani/Mauna Kea area in Waimea. Very close to Merriman’s – on the same (left) side of Highway 19 as you get into Waimea. Big portions – I had an omelette which came with a huge portion of hash browns as well as a separate plate of great (fluffy!) pancakes!
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
    • Alan Wong’s, 1857 South King St., Third Floor, Honolulu, Hawaii 96826. (808) 949-2526
      • 4-1/2 Stars (February 2003) – You won’t find Alan Wong’s in Honolulu if you’re just driving by. In a non-descript 4-5 story building in an out of the way section of town (about 10 minutes from Waikiki) is perhaps the best restaurant in Hawaii. Street parking in this area is dicey — use the valet and feel secure! Small and intimate, an elevator ride upstairs, you’ll find a staff committed to your satisfaction with outstanding food to help ensure it! The Caesar Salad in a cheese basket with Kalua Pig underneath is just wonderful. For an entree, try the Seared Yellowfin Ahi with the most amazing Crispy Asian Slaw — absolutely delicious!
    • Roy’s Restaurant, 6600 Kalanaianaole Hwy.
      Honolulu, Hawaii 96825. (808) 396-7697
      • 4 Stars (February 2003) – This is the original Roy’s, opened in 1988. If you’ve had dinner in Honolulu since Roy’s opened, you’ve probably been here. We watched the sun go down from our second story table. Be prepared for endless choices at Roy’s — daily and regular menus and a wine list that goes on forever. You really can’t go wrong for dinner at Roy’s — if per chance you do, given all the choices you have — it’s your own fault!
  • Menlo Park, California
    • Cafe Borrone, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, California. (650) 327-0830
      • 4 Stars (All the time!) – Cafe Borrone is my favorite breakfast place. Parking is easy in the underground garage. My favorite bookstore (Keplers) is right next door. I meet friends and colleagues for breakfast here at least once a week! My favorite is their #2 breakfast — eggs scrambled with Black Forest Ham and Cheddar. With a mild sausage on the side and a mug of decaf coffee and I’m set to attack the day! The line to order can be a problem later in the morning, so be sure to get there early like I do (7 or 7:30 AM)!
    • Carpaccio, 1120 Crane Street, Menlo Park, California. (650) 322-1211
      • 4 Stars – Our old standby dinner place in Menlo Park. This is the place for Italian food in Menlo Park. You can spend more (Del Baffo) but you can’t get better price performance than at Carpaccio. Quieter than the bistro atmosphere at Left Bank. Owners also run a bigger place called Capellini in San Mateo – which is just too far from home!
    • Marché, 898 Santa Cruz Ave, Menlo Park, California. (650) 324-9092
      • 5 Stars (March 2003) – An excellent (and expensive) local restaurant that is the equal of the best you might find in San Francisco. Delightful room and atmosphere (high ceiling, spacious but small space). The small (10 max) private room looks ideal for small groups. Had the Dungeness Crab Cakes to start followed by California Halibut — both were just outstanding. Superb wine list. Great desserts (including cheeses and salad after). Wow! But hold on to your wallet! You have to pay for this kind of excellence.
    • Left Bank, 635 Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park, California. (650) 473-6543
      • 4 1/2 Stars (March 2003) – A wonderful French bistro restaurant on Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park. The owners over a wonderful high ceilinged space about 5 years ago that was formerly a Chinese restaurant. Kitchen in the restaurant kind of bistro atmosphere. Great private room upstairs in back. Had fabulous wild salmon on bed of the sweetest creamed corn in memory! Pork with spaetzle is always great. Braised veal cheeks make a wonderful stew. Wonderful desserts. Great wine (and dessert wine!) list.
  • Oakland, California
    • Oliveto
      • 4 Stars – Had my 50th birthday party in the private room at Oliveto a few years back. Wonderful pork loin! Great salads and desserts. Warm family memories!
  • Pacific Grove, California
    • Passionfish, 701 Lighthouse Avenue. (831) 655-3311
      • 4 1/2 Stars (September 2002 and several times since!) – Delightful, just delightful. Fabulous wine list (at minimal markup), great seafood (half the menu) and meats (the other half). Highly recommended! If you’re in the Monterey/Carmel area, you just have to enjoy Passionfish!
  • Palo Alto, California
    • Il Fornaio
      • 1 Star (July 2002) – I used to eat here a lot — it was a big “power breakfast” spot in the heyday of the Internet boom. But, recently, I had dinner there and was very disappointed in the quality of the food. One redeeming value (and why it’s even listed here): a free WiFi connection available in the bar area in the front of the restaurant!
    • Mike’s Cafe Etc., 2680 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, (650) 473-MIKE
      • 4 Stars (March 2003) – We’ve had family and friends dinners at Mike’s for years it seems. Mike’s is one of those great neighborhood restaurants (in Palo Alto’s Midtown area) which just feels good — for either lunch and dinner. My favorite entree is the Penne with Chicken and Broccoli — along with a glass of the Morgan Chardonnay! Desserts are from the Prolific Oven in downtown Palo Alto — the Carrot Cake is my favorite! The San Jose Mercury News reviewed Mike’s in January 2003 with a very favorable review.
    • Peninsula Creamery
      • 3 Star – This was my favorite breakfast spot during the heydeys of the Internet boom in 1999-2000. A great place to meet people in the morning — if you’re in the mood for a full breakfast. Lately, I’ve become more comfortable with Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park — but the Creamery remains an old favorite.
  • Portland, Oregon
    • El Gaucho – 319 Sw Broadway. (503) 227-8794.
      • 4 1/2 Stars (June 2002) – Fabulous steaks along with at your table Ceasar salad creation. Dark and romantic atmosphere. Pricey — but a great night on the town! A great place for some delicious protein if you’re on the Atkins diet! Sister restaurant in Seattle.
    • Papa Haydn
      • 4 Stars (August 2002) – Right on busy NW 23rd Street (people watching), indoor dining, some 2 person street tables. Known for its awesome dessert menu. Good menu. I had the Filet Mignon Bresaola which was very good — although the filet was a thinner slice than you might normally expect for this cut.
    • Wildwood
      • 4 1/2 Stars (May 2002) – Great food, atmosphere. My favorites on the current menu are the Wild Salmon and the Pork Loin. Owner Cory Schreiber also has a cookbook. Would have been 5 Stars — but it’s a bit pricey.
  • Portola Valley, California
  • Redwood City, California
  • San Francisco, California
    • Boulevard – Mission and Steuart Streets
      • 4 Stars (October 2002) – Top rated San Francisco restaurant. Great food, nice atmosphere, but very high prices and ridiculous valet parking ($12.00 for lunch, $10.00 for dinner). In other words, if you can get there on foot and are living on an expense account, enjoy yourself — it’s great. Public transportation (BART/Muni) is available a block away at the Embarcadero station.
    • Pacific Cafe – 7000 Geary Blvd. (34th Avenue), (415) 387-7091 (No reservations)
      • 4 Stars (August 2002) – Good food, great prices on fresh seafood, wonderful service, a local place that’s fun with family and friends. No reservations but they serve wine to those waiting.
    • Palio d’Asti – 640 Sacramento St. (between Montgomery and Kearny Sts.), (415) 395-9800
      • 4 1/2 Stars (August 2002) – Great food, reasonable prices. We took a family party of 11 (including 3 kids) on a Friday evening. The Chef came out and had a great time with the kids, helping them decide on their pizza and pasta choices, etc. I had king salmon which was among the best I’ve had all year — including at Wildwood in Portland! Started with a panzanella salad (not on the menu). Wonderful wine list.
    • Red’s Java House – Bryant at Embarcadero – Pier 30.
      • 3 1/2 Stars (May 2002) – The perfect waterfront hamburger joint. Classic San Francisco place with the cheapest prices in town for burgers, fries and a Bud for lunch. Lots of locals, construction workers, etc. frequent Red’s for lunch and eat out in the (mostly!) sunshine on the Embarcadero. A must do if you’re looking for a little fun for lunch.
  • San Mateo, California
    • Viognier – above Draegers Market, 222 East Fourth Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94401, (650) 685-3727
      • 4 1/2 Stars (August 2002) – This is one of our favorite restaurants. The atmosphere is delightful, the food is just grand, and the parking is easy (underground below the market). Prices are definitely on the high side but everything else seems to make up for it.
  • Seattle, Washington
    • Oceanaire Seafood Room, 1700 7th Ave., Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 267-BASS.
      • 4 1/2 Stars (December 2002) – Fresh seafood, great grill atmosphere. The fresh Dungeness Crab cocktail starter was amazing. The Ahi Tuna entree equally outstanding. Amazon has a lunch menu available online. The Seattle Times has a recent review available online.
  • Woodside, California
    • Village Pub
      • 4 1/2 Stars (July 2002) – Great food, atmosphere at the recently remodeled Village Pub. The chef, Mark Sullivan, likes to do combinations of the same meat/poultry — duck three ways, pork three ways, etc. If you like great pot roast, you’ll love the Daube of beef! Would have been 5 Stars — but the prices are very high.

Ideas for Restaurants to Try

Other Resources

Scott’s Favorite French Onion Soup

istock_000001245149xsmall[Update: December 12, 2019 – See below for a new approach to carmelizing the onions more easily!]

This recipe was inspired by Husch Vineyards’ French Onion Soup recipe, modified a bit to suit our tastes better. Husch is a small family winery in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County, just down the road from Navarro, Handley, Roederer, and some of our other favorites! Check here for a list of Anderson Valley wineries. Anderson Valley is one of the most beautiful California valleys and is on the road to Mendocino.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 5 medium yellow onions (3 lbs), sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups chicken stock (substitute beef stock for stronger flavor)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup sherry or dry white wine

Directions

  1. Melt the butter and olive oil over a low heat in a large heavy-bottomed kettle. Add the onions and seasonings. Toss to coat the onion slices with butter/olive oil. Cover and cook on low heat until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized. This is a slow process and will take about 45 minutes to one hour stirring every 10 minutes or so. Grab a good book and read near your stove!
  3. When nicely caramelized, add the chicken (or beef) stock, bay leaf, and sherry. Simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves four – just the best with some crunchy sourdough cheese bread for dipping!


Update: Carmelizing Onions

Thanks to Cooks Illustrated for this alternative approach to carmelizing onions for making this soup. This technique is faster and easier than the traditional approach described above. Here are the steps for this technique.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs yellow onions, sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Slice onions thru the root (pole to pole)
  2. Place onions into 12-inch skillet with 3/4 cup of water, 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Boil over high heat, cover – until water evaporated and onions start to sizzle – about 10 mins
  3. Uncover, reduce heat to medium-high
  4. Using spatula, gently press onions into sides and bottom of skillet – without stirring – for about 30 seconds. Then stir, and gently press onions back into sides and bottom again. Repeat as needed until well browned and slightly sticky (15-20 mins).
  5. While the onions cook, combine 1/8 tsp of baking soda and 1 Tbsp of water in a bowl. Pour onto onions and stir constantly about 1 minute. Now done!

First posted: November 6, 2005. Updated: December 12, 2019

Scott’s Potato Salad

Introduction

This recipe was inspired by a Warm Potato Salad recipe in the June 2001 issue of Gourmet magazine.
Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lb small (1 1/2- to 2-inch) Yukon
    Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 celery ribs, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 whole dill pickle, chopped

Directions

  1. Cover potatoes with salted cold water by 1 inch in a saucepan, then simmer until just tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. While potatoes are simmering, whisk together mayonnaise, oil, vinegar,
    garlic, chives, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl.
  3. Drain potatoes in a colander and cool 5 minutes. Add to dressing along with
    celery, tomatoes, and pickle. Toss and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: this recipe is good even if the celery and/or tomatoes aren’t
available!

Added: July 29, 2001

Update: See also this recipe from Elise Bauer with the additional “secret ingredient” of a bit of pickle juice! The additional tartness from the pickle juice is very nice!

Scott’s Perfect Pot Roast

This recipe was inspired by a recipe in the September 26, 2001 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Food section on the subject of comfort food in the days post-9/11.

That particular recipe credits Chronicle food writer Robin Davis who says she loves this dish for the aroma that drifts through the house as the meat cooks — and for the leftovers. The cooking aroma does make the long cooking time tolerable. Serve this with some creamy mashed potatoes for a wonderfully soothing comfort meal. Save your leftovers…they’re even better tomorrow!

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 2-1/2 to 3 pound chuck roast
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions

  1. Place the mushrooms in a small bowl. Use 1 cup of the hot (preferably boiling) water. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand for 30 minutes to soften.
  2. Remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid, squeezing as much liquid as
    possible back into the bowl. Coarsely chop the mushrooms.[Update: January 2006 – there’s a great tip in the March 2006 issue of Fine Cooking magazine about using a French press coffee maker for rehydrating the porcini mushrooms. Turns out that a small French press is ideal for doing this – and avoids the need for using a filter for the liquid, etc.]
  3. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or 2 layers of cheesecloth. Set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, until translucent.
  6. Reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the onions begin to brown, stirring from time to time.
  7. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the onions turn a deep golden brown.
  8. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits in the pot. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  9. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the same Dutch oven over high heat. Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Brown well on all sides. Transfer the meat to a platter.
  10. Add the mushroom-soaking liquid to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.
  11. Return the brisket to the pot, along with the onion-wine mixture, the remaining 3 cups water, the mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.
  12. Tightly cover the pan. Place in the oven and cook for about 3 hours, until the brisket is very tender.
  13. Transfer the meat to a platter and tent with foil.
  14. Remove the bay leaves from the cooking liquid. Working in batches, puree the cooking liquid in a processor until smooth. Transfer to a large saucepan. Adjust seasoning and rewarm, if necessary.
  15. Cut the brisket across the grain into thin slices. Arrange on a platter.
  16. Spoon the sauce over the meat.

(Added: October 12, 2001)

 

Scott’s Lemon Pasta Salad with Chicken

We enjoy making this Lemon Pasta Salad on for lunch on a Sunday and then
munching on it cold throughout the week either for lunch or when we need a
snack. It’s really good either warm right when you make it or cold.

Our inspiration for this salad came from one of our local markets, Andronico’s, who makes a version of this salad for their deli. Our original base recipe comes from a recipe in Bon Appetit, July 2000 issue where the writer claimed it was her own version of the deli version from Gelsons Market in Los Angeles. We tried a couple of our own variations before settling on this particular version.

The recipe uses about a pound (plus or minus — it doesn’t matter much) of
chicken (mostly breast meat). For convenience, I often get either a roasted chicken from the local market and strip it – or pick up two of the Louis Rich pre-cooked chicken breast pieces (two 6-oz packages) and use that. Of course, you can also cook chicken breasts specifically for the recipe!

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 to 1 pound of chicken cut into 3/4 inch strips
  • 12 oz of lemon-pepper fettucine (we use
    Mendocino Pasta’s)
  • 2 1/2 cups snow peas cut into matchstick size strips
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts (raw or toasted, your pleasure)
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Directions

  1. Boil the water (salted) and cook the pasta al dente style. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, mix chicken pieces, snow pea strips, pine nuts and Italian parsley.
  3. Add the cooked pasta to the large bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and mustard together and then slowly add the canola oil while mixing all the time into a smooth consistent mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture slowly over the pasta and other ingredients in the large bowl, mixing all the while. Toss until well coated and mixed.