Saturday, August 16, 2014

How To Make The Only Cavatappi Pasta Salad Recipe You'll Ever Need

It's too tough to pick just one pasta salad recipe as the best, because there are thousands of possible recipe combinations to choose from.

Despite that it's one of the most difficult summer side dish categories to make a clear-cut judgement on, I want to share my Cavatappi (Corkscrew-Shaped) Pasta Salad recipe that received some very high accolades recently. I firmly believe that it's the only Cavatappi Pasta Salad recipe you'll ever need.

The perfect summer side dish: Brad's Cavatappi Pasta Salad

Brad's Cavatappi Pasta Salad

Yeilds: 15 Servings

Main Ingredients:

16 oz. Cavatappi Pasta, cooked al dente (drained and cooled)
1 Cup English Cucumber, cubed (1/4 inch sauare)
1 Pint Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/4 Cup Red Onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp Capers, drained
1/2 Cup Pine Nuts, toasted
4 oz. Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled
1/3 Cup Flat (Italian) Parsley, roughly chopped

For The Dressing -- Classic Aioli:

1 Tbsp Garlic Paste
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Sea Salt, or to taste

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the main ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small non-reactive bowl, thoroughly whisk together the Garlic Paste and Lemon Juice.
  3. After the Garlic Paste and Lemon Juice are emulsified together, very slowly drizzle in the Olive Oil while quickly whisking at the same time. It may be best to place the bowl on a cloth so that it doesn't shift around while your are whisking.
  4. I can not stress enough how important it is to add the Olive Oil very, very slowly (in a thin, steady stream) as you whisk. This will ensure that the acid and the oil emulsify properly.
  5. Whisk in the Sea Salt.
  6. Once your Aioli is complete, completely work it in with the main ingredients, making sure to coat the salad evenly.
  7. Cover the bowl and let the pasta salad chill in the refrigerator until it's time to serve.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Inside the Restaurateur: Bleubird (Episode 1)

Have you ever wondered, "what makes a restaurant successful?"

Well, just about every day, the thought crosses my mind.

So in my quest to find out what makes an eatery thrive, I dine there -- taking note of the type of cuisine on the menu, evaluating the quality of the ingredients, presentation, and flavors, discerning how I feel about the restaurant's atmosphere and decor, and observing the level and consistency of service they provide.

What I usually discover is very useful and informative, especially when it comes to writing restaurant reviews.

But the critique is only half the story.

Out of this realization, the idea for Inside the Restaurateur was born, a way to satisfy my curiosity to discover what's behind about the other half and fulfilling my desire to share the knowledge (and the wisdom that follows it), which can only be found inside the minds of the restaurateurs themselves.

Inside the Restaurateur features some of the most successful restaurateurs in the Treasure Valley.

In this (the first) episode of Inside the Restaurateur, meet Sarah Kornfield and David Kelly, co-owners/operators of Bleubird. Watch and get a peek into their personalities and backgrounds. Explore the inevitable challenges of opening and breeding a successful establishment. Learn what Bleubird means to them and how it translates into their vision for the future...

Want to learn more about Bleubird? Visit

Friday, July 18, 2014

Recipe: Chili Lime Mahi Mahi Slider

Chili Lime Mahi Mahi Slider with Creamy Slaw on a Bacon Fat & Garlic-Toasted French Baguette


12 oz Mahi Mahi (about 3 filets)
Tajin (Chili Lime) Seasoning
2 Cups Shredded Green Cabbage
1/4 Cup Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
1 1/2 tsp Ground Chipotle Powder
2 Roma Tomatoes (sliced)
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar
Fresh Cilantro
1/4 Cup Rendered Bacon Fat
1 Tsp Garlic Paste
16 inch French Baguette


1. Slice the baguette lengthwise (horizontally) and then evenly divide into 6 even sections (about 2 1/2 inches square). Mix the bacon fat and garlic paste together. Spread the mixture on the horizontally sliced sides of the baguette. Place the slices with the spread side up on a baking sheet.

2. Broil for approximately 1 to 2 minutes or until bread becomes aromatic and golden brown (with slightly darker edges). Remove and set aside. Decrease oven temperature to 400 F (bake setting).

3. Generously apply the chili lime seasoning to the Mahi Mahi filets, and bake at 400 F for 15 minutes. Once finished, let rest for 2 minutes; then slice each filet into 2 square-shaped halves (or 6 halves altogether).

4. While fish is in the oven, thoroughly combine the cabbage, dressing, and chipotle in a bowl.

5. To assemble the sandwich in the following order (bottom to top): bread, fish, cheese, tomato, slaw, cilantro, bread.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pilot Episode: "Inside The Restaurateur" Airing August 5th

I sat down this week to find out what's inside the minds of these two budding restaurateurs... 

Meet David Kelly and Sarah Kornfield, co-owners/operators of Bleubird in downtown Boise. They will be featured on the pilot episode of "Inside The Restaurateur," available to view on this blog and YouTube, Tuesday, August 5th.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How To Make Tomato Seed Vinaigrette

Many people throw away the seeds and pulp that are separated from the outer flesh of a tomato when dicing it. Never do that again! 

What should you do instead?
Treasure Valley Chef Tomato Seed Vinaigrette
Tomato Seed Vinaigrette

There're some great, practical uses for tomato pulp and seeds in your everyday cooking. For instance, making a homemade tomato seed vinaigrette adds a nice, sweet acidity to your salads and other veggies

Not only will you end up with something to bring new life to your dish -- making this yourself will save you money on store-bought salad dressings, too. And those highly processed dressings don't hold a candle to this quick, easy and flavorful alternative for what you may have been previously discarding. 

Here's the recipe...

Treasure Valley Chef Tomato Seed Vinaigrette
Tomato Seed Vinaigrette

Tomato Seed Vinaigrette

Makes about 12 servings

Liquefy the following ingredients in a blender:

The seeds and pulp of 10-12 roma tomatoes

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 large basil leaves

3/4 tsp garlic paste

pinch of sea salt

Serve as a dressing for just about any salad or toss lightly with grilled vegetables.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Best Recipe For White Bean Bruschetta

Bruschetta /brü–ˈske–tə/ pictured here with a classic tomato-based topping

This flavorful appetizer consists of Italian bread slathered with garlic and olive oil, toasted, and typically served with a tomato-based topping.


You don't have to make the a bruschetta topping with tomatoes. In fact, bruschetta, by definition, has less to do with what goes on top of the bread and more about how the foundation for your topping is prepared.

When making bruschetta, the bread should be cut thick (about a one-inch thickness). After rubbing the slices with fresh garlic and olive oil, broil or grill the slices until the edges of the bread are brown and crispy. The thick-cut slice allows for the crostini to be thoroughly crunchy on the outside, while still soft, supple, and warm on the inside -- a perfect canvas.

Everything else that follows can be left up to artistic interpretation, which means that it's time to put a gourmet twist on this proven classic... White Bean Bruschetta
This White Bean Bruschetta recipe was taste-tested by about 20 participants
during a live food demonstration that I gave recently. It was a huge hit!

White Bean Bruschetta Recipe

For The Topping: Makes About 18 Servings 

2 15 oz. Cans of Cannellini or Northern White Beans, drained and rinsed
½ Cup of Tarragon, chopped
½ Cup of Parsley, chopped
1 Small Red Onion, diced
4 to 5 Large Radishes, sliced into half circles (no more than ¼ inch thick)
Juice of 2 Large Lemons
¼ Cup of quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt, to taste
A soft, mild-flavored Goat Cheese


  1. Add the beans, tarragon, parsley, onion, and radishes into a bowl.
  2. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Toss with other ingredients.
  3. Finish with a generous amount of sea salt and toss again.
  4. Serve with thick slices of Italian bread, smothered with garlic and olive oil, and then toasted or grilled.
  5. Spread goat cheese on the crostini. And add the white bean mixture on top of that. Enjoy!

Feel free to make your own interpretations with additional ingredients or substitutions as your heart desires. Remember, recipes are simply a guideline. Get creative and take ownership of your dish as you see fit. Tell us what you did to make this dish your own in the comments below.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Case For Eating Anything You Want

"Eat anything you want," says author and intellectual foodie, Michael Pollan, "just cook it yourself."

In his quest to promote the benefits of home cooking versus the continual consumption of boxed, bagged, canned, and jarred, highly processed, addictive corporate produced sustenance, I believe that Pollan is on to something but that he just barely misses the mark -- on purpose.

Because without actually saying it, he implies a very important message in the video above. The road to building better eating habits isn't simply solved by cooking at home, it's also in utilizing the freshest, most seasonal, sustainable ingredients possible.

What are the pros and cons to the message conveyed in the video? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.