Saturday, November 19, 2011


WhatEye8 food blog caters assorted dishes at a Thanksgiving Feast on Friday, Nov. 18. All cooking (15 hours worth!) and food donated to help support Open Classroom Elementary School.

Here's what was in the mini-feast:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Who WIll You Be for Halloween?

Me as “Tiger Mom” at our local Halloween block party, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011. Happy Halloweeeeeeeeen!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cioppino: Chopping up Veggies, Tossing in Fish, and Serving up Hearty Food-Joy

Last night's supper: cioppino made with fresh, local crab legs. 
Cioppino (choh-pee-no). I had my first bowl of this tomato-seafood chowder in Santa Barbara (delicious at Brophy Brothers) as a grown-up. I'm a sucker for any soup served as a main course. But even more so for tomato-based soups. You know the great ones: bouillabaise, gazpacho, posole, Manhattan clam chowder, tomato bisque. Cioppino, with its odd assortment of vegetables and fresh fish and shellfish was most definitely love at first slurp, and naturally I thought, "Cioppino, where have you been all my life?"

Cioppino has an Italian name. But it didn't originate in Europe. No, cioppino is an American contribution to the culinary world (there are some, darn it--pumpkin pie, cranberry relish, Boston baked beans, turkey, succotash, cornbread--sounds like Thanksgiving, huh?). An Italian-American contribution, it turns out, from San Francisco, circa mid-19th century.

Cioppino either came from an Italianized pronunciation of chip in (as in, add to the communal soup pot) or chop in (lots of chopping of fresh fish and veggies)--or it came from ciuppin, the Ligurian fish stew. The origin is unclear. But San Franciscan fishermen developed it and you can enjoy it at restaurants all over the west coast--or in your own home. Here are the secrets, spelled out for you, if you'd like to do it yourself. The soup is simple to make, but it calls for a zillion ingredients. Do not be intimidated--many of these you will have on hand. A good time to make cioppino is when you are blessed with a bounty of fresh seafood--but don't hesitate to use frozen. All will be well in the end.

Soup Ingredients
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tablespoons anchovies, minced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped onion or shallots (sweet onion is excellent)
1 fresh bay leaf (if you have it--if not, two dried)
6 stalks celery, chopped
1 zucchini (optional, but excellent)
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, chopped (optional, but excellent)
2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (or marinara sauce, if you don't have fresh)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (if using fresh tomatoes--if using maranara, skip this)
1 quart (4 cups) clam broth (I recommend Better than Bouillion brand concentrated soup stocks, by Superior Touch--they are all MSG-free)
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh, chopped basil or 3 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed (or 1/2 cup fresh fennel)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (or dried)
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: red pepper flakes to taste
Chopped Italian parsley or cilantro to garnish

Seafood Add-ins
Generally, almost anything goes when deciding what seafood to add to cioppino. Salmon, rockfish, grouper, cod, whiting, halibut, orange roughy—any firm-fleshed fish (avoid delicate fish, such as sole and catfish because they are more likely to disintegrate, or any fish with too strong a flavor, such as tuna). Chop fresh fish into largish chunks before adding. If frozen, add whole and separate into bite-sized pieces before serving.

For shellfish, crab legs, langostino, shrimp, clams, and mussels are good options, as are calamari and scallops (stay away from oysters—again, too much flavor will overpower cioppino). Rinse thoroughly and add in with shells—the shells provide flavor and are part of the hands-on fun of eating cioppino. As always, toss any unopened clams or mussels.

You can also buy an excellent "cioppino-ready" mixture of frozen seafood—which includes scallops and calamari--at Trader Joe's.

Whatever you add in, use only 2 or 3 cups total and add in only during the last 5 to 7 minutes of cooking time to keep the fish tender but cooked through.

Orchestrating Cioppino 
  1. Start with a heavy soup pot—one that you can fry in. Saute the onions, garlic, and anchovies until tender (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add in all other ingredients except lemon juice and boil lightly for 15 to 20 minutes—long enough to make the vegetables tender and to cook in the wine.
  3. Add in 2 or 3 cups seafood and shellfish of your choice. You do not have to have a huge variety—last night I made this with just crab legs, since my husband and daughter had caught some fresh).
  4. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the seafood is cooked through but still tender. 
  5. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, pour in the lemon juice, garnish if desired, and serve in large bowls, placing some shellfish in each bowl. Provide a discard bowl at the table for the shells. Also serve sourdough bread or cheese bread alongside the soup.
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With thanks to my foodie friend, Philip Jenkins, who pointed out that cioppino came from San Francisco.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Lemon-Caper-Garlic Sauce:Stealing the Sauce from Piccata

Ever eat chicken—or veal or turkey—piccata in an Italian restaurant and find the sauce so deliriously yummy you wish you could lick the plate? Something about the tangy lemon, those little pickled capers, the garlicky savoriness--something makes piccata sauce fabulous. Well, have you ever thought about making that sauce yourself? And better yet, making the lemon-caper-garlic sauce and using it on other foods? Say, grilled salmon, steamed broccoli, cauliflower or asparagus? How about tofu? Why not? Steal a great sauce and make it your bitch. It's easy to make and oh-so-gratifying.

Lemon-Caper-Garlic Piccata Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
5 or 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon capers, drained
Juice of one lemon
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon flour to thicken
2 tablespoons butter
Lemon slices to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and saute lightly. Stir in the wine and heat to reduce by half. Stir in the capers, lemon juice and chicken broth. Mix the flour with enough water to make a thin paste and mix it into the sauce, stirring constantly while it thickens. Add the butter and remove from heat. Drizzle the sauce over your food of choice and garnish with the lemon slice (you can also sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley or cilantro, for a green effect).

Note: To make real piccata, as served in restaurants, dredge your thin meat/fish/tofu in salt-and-peppered flour, saute lightly on each side, and then set aside. In the same frying pan, deglaze with the wine, etc. and prepare the sauce as directed. Once it's thickened, add back in the meat/tofu and saute once more, lightly on each side. Serve with the lemon slices. (The only difference is that Italian restaurant-style doesn't add flour to thicken.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ratatoulle Soup: Comfort Food on a Dreary Day

What to do with a harvest load of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and sweet peppers? Something warm and comforting? Ratatouille soup is one scrumptious and easy way to go. Basically, roast the dickens out of those veggies, then boil and later puree the bejesus out of them—a rich, irresistible soup will fill your bowls with Mediterranean sunshine and cheer. Serve with toasted cheese bread, or heck, any hearty bread at all. No need for a salad--you're eating it already.

1/2 eggplant
3 pounds tomatoes, plum, roma, paste, or whatever you have on hand
1 small zucchini
1 pound sweet peppers
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 quart chicken broth
Handfuls of fresh basil and oregano, minced
Salt and pepper to taste


Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Cut eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, and sweet peppers in 1-inch chunks, removing ends and trimming seeds, as needed. Spread on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring halfway through, to cook evenly.

While the veggies are roasting, dice the onions. Add to a heavy soup pot and saute the onions with butter and garlic until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add soup stock, herbs, and the roasted veggies (as well as the yummy veggie liquid on the baking sheet!). Boil uncovered for 40 minutes. Puree in  batches in a blender or use an immersion blender. Soup will be thick and imperfectly textured but perfectly delicious (if you prefer a smoother soup, push through a wire strainer before serving). Add salt and pepper to taste. Any leftovers after two days can be frozen easily. Reuse as pasta sauce, if desired.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sargento Cheese Tasting & Review: Just Because It's Sliced Does Not Mean It's Processed

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to taste and compare Sargento brand natural cheese with processed American cheese. Until I said yes to this job--with some reservations, I might add, I thought all pre-sliced cheeses were processed cheese. Well, nut-uh, is all I can say now. No way. There is the plastic-stuff-somehow-mysteriously-known-as-cheese and then there is Sargento.

Why buy pre-sliced cheese? Well, in complete honesty, I do not. What gourmet does (who does not have teenagers trawling ravenously through her refrigerator for instant cheese gratification)? I simply have accepted my fate and sliced from the blocks myself. Except--wait a second--I do buy pre-sliced when I am at the deli counter. Why? Because it's a breeze to slap the pre-sliced cheese onto a yummy deli sandwich and mostly because I KNOW the deli department cheese will be fine quality cheese. No cheesy cheese need apply.

If cheesy cheese is your desire, head to the dairy department of your supermarket and get the extended shelf-life processed cheese (sometimes known as "American cheese") made from questionable ingredients like molten protein gel and food colorings as well as tasty emulsifiers like citrate and potassium phosphate. Gets your taste buds all worked up, doesn't it?

Otherwise, if you'd like to know more about the good stuff--the deli department cheese that just happens to not be in the deli department, read on.

Sargento, if you are unfamiliar, is the company that makes those cheerful red packages of cheese that come conveniently in shredded or sliced or string cheese configurations and are found in hundreds of variations (Mexican, Italian, American--and that's just the Bistro Blends). Sargento invented the selling style of hanging the packages of cheese on hooks within the diary department. According to Sargento, "Our natural cheeses meet the highest standards of our expert cheese graders. Just what you'd expect from a family as passionate as ours."

Off I go to the supermarket to buy Sargento cheeses and the least possible amount of the so-called-cheese that competes with it as I can get by with for the purposes of experimentation. I have no idea if Sargento will live up to its lore--but I hope so, because being able to loosen up my gourmet ideals and occasionally pop a package of easy and delicious and wholesome cheese into my shopping cart would be a big benefit. I am not snooty about cheese, I just love good cheese. Is that so unreasonable? My eight-year-old loves string cheese, so that will be easy to go along with. The shredded Italian cheeses would work right in with a pizza supper I can put together. We'll see what I come home with.

[Two days later . . .]

I have to disclose, I almost never shop in supermarkets. Instead, I buy from Trader Joe's, Smart & Final (a discount warehouse), Costco (another, bigger, discount warehouse), and our local farmers' market. Also, we grow many of the vegetables we eat in our back yard (thanks, Hubs, you are amazing!). So it felt weird going to our local grocery store chain, but off I marched. Turns out picking up a few packages of Sargento cheese (Sargento provided me a $25 gift card to pay it--thanks, Sargento!) is no breezy thing. I saw at least 20 varieties of cheeses. Finally, I opted for four:

Sargento Artisan Blends Authentic Mexican five-cheese blend, shredded
Sargento Colby-Pepper Jack cheese with habanero and jalapeno peppers, sliced
Sargento Classic Mozzarella, ChefStyle, shredded
Sargento Natural Muenster, Deli Style, sliced

Another confession—oops! I didn't buy American processed cheese to do the comparison. Why? I just couldn't. It's like buying a tacky romance novel if you are a literature professor.  Just embarrassing. You know what I mean. Also, I promise--I know what the fake stuff tastes like--fatty nothing. Got it.

Being a pepper-head, naturally, I dived straight into the spicy Sargento cheese. Piquant, but not too hot, it was delicious enough to make me think of how I'd use it--Mexican appetizers? Jazz up a sandwich? Next I had the Mexican cheese blend--just a pinch tells you, this is real cheese with an autentico pizzazz. Queso fresco, the cheese most commonly served in real Mexican restaurants is simple, if not bland, but this was different. More fun, more texture.

Next, my eight-year-old dove into the muenster. She's all, "What's muenster, Mama? Is that like 'Monster'?" I told her muenster was my favorite cheese when I was a college girl. Now, it's my little girl's favorite, too. Creamy, smooth, with that lovely orange border--exactly deli cheese.

I kept thinking, while tasting, that it's a shame Sargento sells their fine-quality cheeses in the you'd-miss-them-if-you're-a-food-snob plastic pouches, all shredded or sliced or otherwise prepped to make them easy to use. I'm thinking easy-to-use doesn't have to be a detriment. It can be a boost. Tonight's menu? Homemade pizzas, topped with our--I'm proud to say it now--gourmet pre-shredded Sargento mozzarella. There. I can so to learn something new.

See Sargento.com for a slew of great recipes.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas from the First Family to Your Family


“The White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas from the First Family to Your Family,” by Clara Silverstein, features two recipes from What Eye 8 food blogger, Carolyn Blount Brodersen, me. You even get to see a photo of my adorable daughter, Jaclyn. Just in case you missed it, here is what those pages look like. 

You can still get copies of the paperback cookbook directly from Amazon.com-- for $16.49, or from me through Amazon, for $9.99 (look for seller, Tumerica). Get your copy today!






Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lazy Suppers

What do you make for supper when you are feeling lazy? No, not take-out, but when you actually cook something but don't feel like a Hurculean effort. Here are some of my go-to lazy suppers. What are yours?


Gyoza Soup

 8 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 cups greens you have on hand, such as bok choy, cabbage, basil, spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, etc., or a combo of these
1 pound package of frozen gyoza (vegetable, chicken, pork, or shrimp)

Boil the ginger and chicken stock. Add thinly sliced greens and let cook a minute or two. Add the frozen gyoza and let cook for two minutes (gyoza is precooked--it just needs heating up), and serve over steamed white rice.


Tarted-up Sliders

1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 cloves crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Minced cilantro or oregano or mint or any green herb you have on hand

Add all ingredients and kneed to distribute the seasonings. Form into small patties (around 2 inches diameter) and grill. Serve with a salad and rice or bread.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Make Your Own Basic Teriyaki Post-Grill Sauce

Mad about teriyaki sauce? Well, so are we in my little family of three. And teriyaki sauce is easy to make and worth making. The store-bought stuff is too salty, too artificially, and frankly, is it worth the expense? You need only a few simple ingredients to recreate the same thing at home.

In Japan, teriyaki sauce is a thin, sweet-rice-wine laden sauce applied sometimes before but always after grilling and has only three ingredients: soy sauce, sugar, and mirin (sweet rice wine).

While the purist would say that's the only way to go, the teriyaki sauce we are so hooked on is thicker and more rich in flavor. The secret, I've found, is to add in some soup stock--chicken is a good base--and then corn starch to thicken. Let's call this, "Store-bought Knock-off Teriyaki" sauce, then. No more difficult than making any gravy. And delicious on any just-grilled food.

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2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine--please do not substitute--mirin is great to have around for many Japanese dishes)
4 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup chicken stock

Add the mirin, soy sauce, sake, and sugar to a small saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring until the sugar dissolves. In a small bowl, mix the corn starch with 2 tablespoons water to dissolve it. Add the corn starch mixture and the chicken stock to the sauce pan with the other ingredients. Cook, stirring, until sauce has thickened and cooked down in volume slightly. Taste to adjust seasonings (you might want to add up 1 or 2 teaspoons more soy sauce). Pour over grilled vegetables, fish, or meat.

Store unused portion in a tightly fitting container in the refrigerator. Will keep for a few days.

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Notes;

To use teriyaki as a marinade, make the recipe above and stop before you add stock and corn starch. Use just this, then continue and add the other two ingredients for the thicker, richer version as a post-grill sauce.

You can also look around and find teriyaki sauce recipes with ingredients like ginger, sesame oil, pepper flakes--even vinegar. While those ingredients are lovely and fun, they are not included in the basic teriyaki flavor--they are variations that make "teri-style" sauces. The exception is ginger, though, which is used more often. If you do add ginger to your teriyaki, use only the juice squeezed from freshly grated ginger root.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Gotetsu: Japanese Kushiyaki Restaurant in Midtown Ventura, California


Exquisite.
There is only one word to truly capture the fabulousness that is Gotetsu. Exquisite.

The owner/chef, Yukari, admitted she serves only what she loves to eat--and it shows. Small menu, every dish remarkable, memorable, and obscenely delicious. Delicately and excitingly seasoned--just WOW!

Yukari is a delight, by the way, and extremely interested in how you like the food she prepares right before your eyes. I was won over at the first bite.

I recommend the shiso and ponzu-miso smeared chicken thigh, the chicken meatball skewer, the eggplant skewer--and don't get me started on the homemade fresh gyoza--Oh my god. I couldn't say anything else. Like the finest restaurant, you can taste every ingredient--so bursting with freshness.

I thought I was in Japan again and at one of the amazing culinary oases there--but no, right here in humble Ventura, California--a little slice of exquisite Japanese heaven. My life is complete. Only this could be addicting.

Oh, yeah, my seven-year-old loved the food, too. I simply cannot wait to go back. Mind-blowing. Exquisite!

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Gotetsu Kushiyaki Restaurant
2098 E Main St
Ventura, CA 93001
(805) 643-3199

Friday, February 11, 2011

Beef and Potatoes—Twisted

For lunch, I served beef and potatoes. Don't be shocked--I did it twisted. Japanese potato noodles (harusame saifun, available at any Asian grocers) cold in my own ginger-soy-sesame salad dressing, accompanied by organic ginger-garlic-soy sliders, with smatterings of fresh garden veggies.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Japanese Country-Style Eggplant: Nasu no Inaka Ni



Stewed eggplant doesn't sound exciting to you? Think that eggplant is only for vegetarians? Or just plain have no idea what to do with eggplant other than Eggplant Parmesan? Well, this delightful and simple Japanese eggplant dish will change your mind—and your palate-about eggplant. No one I have ever served this to has ever said anything but, “Delicious” or “Amazing” or “How on earth did you make this? I love it!” Asian eggplants are more tender and delicately flavored than the standard variety—but you can use either kind with excellent results. Katsuo-bushi—dried bonito flakes—are a common condiment in Japanese cooking. They come in packages of five packets. Next time you are at an Asian grocers, pick up a package. You can use katsuo-bushi in miso soup, and, together with grated ginger root and soy sauce, as a lovely topping for cold tofu (this is way yummier than it sounds).

Ingredients
· 8 Japanese eggplants (or one large eggplant)
· 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
· 1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes, to taste
· 1 packet dried bonito flakes (katsuo-bushi, found in Asian grocery stores)
· 3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
· 3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine, or substitute vermouth with added sugar to taste)
· 1 cup water

Directions
1. Score Asian eggplants lengthwise every half inch. (If using regular eggplant, cut off ends and then cut remainder into 1" cubes, but do no peel.).
2. Put all ingredients in a sturdy pot and stir to coat.
3. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so that eggplant cooks thoroughly (until it becomes tender).
4. Serve hot or cold.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Black-eyed Pea Croquettes with Tomato-Basil Salsa

Beans, beans, good for your heart.
Beans, beans, they make you start—
Your happy life begins today,
So eat your beans—for health, I say.

Here I go again, defending the lowly bean, and urging, cajoling, and even guilting my readers into eating their beans. Why? Because I am convinced that the wonderful and versatile and inexpensive and plentiful bean is one way to fix the diets of many Americans--if not the diets of the world. Beans, with their heaping doses of protein (soybeans, lentils, and garbanzos) and their generous quantities of fiber (all beans!), are an almost perfect food, rivaled only by garlic, cabbage, and yoghurt. See World's Healthiest Foods for the most complete and mind-blowing information about all kinds about beans (and other wonderful foods).

I keep harping on beans because so few Americans eat much in the way of beans anymore. The food that lacks glamor, that's cheap and, well, has explosive associations, has fallen from favor over the decades. But the facts remain, if you add beans to your diet, you will immediately improve your diet--and over time, your health.Not to mention that when times are tough, beans go a long way. So give beans a try. Make a once-a-week commitment to serving beans, and then increase as you are able.

Meanwhile, here IS a glamorous bean dish. I found this on the menu at more than one trendy eatery while on vacation in North Carolina recently. This is my version of the dish. Easy to make--just takes a little planning if you make it from dried beans. You can serve with any kind of relish or sauce you like. We have heirloom tomatoes ripe and ready as well as fresh basil, so that's what I used. Another fun fact is that these black-eyed pea croquettes are fabulous the next day, tucked in lunches--they travel well as long as the sauce is not applied until just before you eat them.

Black-eyed Pea Croquettes, a la WhatEye8.com


1 pound (2 cups) dried black-eyed peas
6 cups water to cook the black-eyed peas
4 cloves crushed garlic
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Ground black pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs--or other bread crumbs or flour)
1/2 cup cornmeal for dredging
Olive oil for pan frying

  1. Cook the rinsed beans in a covered pot for 1 and a half hours, or until cooked. Drain and let cool. Mash the beans lightly--you still want to see some whole beans, but want enough mashed to make the mixture easy to handle.

  2. Sautee the garlic in the olive oil. Stir into the beans, along with cumin, pepper, and salt to taste.

  3. Add in the eggs and panko, adding extra panko if needed to bring the mixture to a nice texture that will hold its shape (up to about 1 and a 1/2 cups total).

  4. Form patties in your hands that are about 1/2 inch thick. Roll in cornmeal, and put into the frying pan with enough olive oil to coat the pan. Allow to fry for about five to seven minutes per side--until cooked through and lightly browned. Serve hot or chilled--these are good both ways.

Tomato Basil Salsa
Chop garden fresh tomatoes, fresh basil leaves (or cilantro, parsley, oregano, or mint), and any peppers you would like to add. Squeeze in lime juice, and add salt and pepper to taste. Mix and serve as a relish for the croquettes.