People call me a chef (even says so here). I’m not a chef. Ted Allen is not a chef (as if his round wood spoons didn’t say as much). Rachael Ray is not a chef. None of us ever said we were. (I have on occasion, claimed to be, but that was just to piss off Michael Symon, who is a chef, or was—now he’s a TV cook, entertainer, and successful restaurateur. I cooked at Sans Souci, a Marriot-owned restaurant, ages ago, but I wouldn’t last an hour on the line today.)
Terms matter. I say this because today’s guest poster, Patricia Tracey, is and remains solely a chef. Not a celeb chef like Symon or Bobby Flay (both of whom are superlative cooks, btw, another and more meaningful term). She’s a cook’s cook, a woman who cooks for a living because a professional kitchen is where she’s happiest. Jersey born, educated at Johnson & Wales, she’s cooked on the east coast, cooked at a Hyatt, continued to grow, opened restaurants for the highly respected Kimpton hotel group, which seems actually to care about its restaurants.
When my San Fran acquaintances, Scott Raymond and Rachel Luxemburg, asked me to have a look at her quest to open, at long last, her very own place, Myriad Gastro Pub, with the help of the crowd-funding site kickstarter.com, I donated (because I like to support professional cooks and entrepreneurs), then I asked her for a guest post.
As it turns out, Trish lost her mom, Joan, the same year I lost my beloved dad, both to cancer. She fell into a deep funk I know all too well, the kind where you wake up in the morning and think, “Shit. I’m awake again. Still fucking here.”
She has, at age 46, begun to feel the sunshine again, and has the spirit and gumption to give the grueling work of chef-restaurateur a go. Please watch her video (below, or here) and if you like it (and especially if you live in or travel often to SF), kick in a few bucks (it will make you feel happy, seriously). But first read about her salsa verde; it rocks.
What I asked her was, what does she like to cook for herself, what does a chef cook when he or she is not earning the daily bread or cleaning out the grease trap, or dealing with heating and cooling guy, or trying to figure out what to put on the menu since the fish delivery never showed?
Eggs, of course. I knew I liked this woman.
What This Chef Eats at Home!
by Trish Tracey
People often ask me, “What do you cook at home?” The quick answer from many chefs, myself included, is that we never cook at home because we are always working. While that answer may be popular, it’s not true.
The truth is that I do enjoy cooking when at home, whether it’s for a large holiday gathering, for small groups of friends and family, or even if it’s just for myself—which is what happens more often than not.
No matter the occasion, it’s not too difficult to make a quick and easy meal look and taste like a gourmet dish.
One of my favorite staples that I always try keep on hand is my own take on salsa verde, a simple, yet amazingly versatile, condiment that can elevate the flavor of many dishes.
My salsa verde is a blend of chopped Italian parsley, chopped capers, minced shallots, lemon zest, and extra-virgin olive oil. Depending on what the salsa verde is going with, I may add boquerones, Spanish-style anchovies marinated in lemon, or some type of complementary olive.
Though salsa verde can be added to any number of dishes, I do have my favorites. It can be drizzled over a tasty open-faced egg salad sandwich on rye toast, giving it big and bold flavor.
Want another easy, zesty breakfast/lunch/dinner idea? Simmer or bake eggs in a light marinara and then top with shaved Reggiano and salsa verde. Serve this over toasted or grilled sourdough bread or even luscious polenta.
Looking for something a little more substantial? Rub sliced garlic, fresh cracked black pepper, and a little paprika on a rib-eye before grilling. When it's done, slather the steak with salsa verde and finish with a little flaky Maldon sea salt.
It goes equally well with a roasted hearty fish, laced with pimenton and lemon, or topping a beautifully roasted chicken.
Make a batch of this salsa verde and keep it on hand. You will not tire of it and it will make you look like a rock star in the kitchen when you turn a simple dish into something big and bold and made with love.
(Here's my kickstarter video; if you like, visit kickstarter.com to donate; I hope to cook for you there one day soon. And thanks, Michael, for letting me share this!)
Marinara Baked Eggs with Salsa Verde
- ½ cup light marinara sauce (if you don’t have homemade, you can use Rao’s)
- 2 large eggs
- Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan cheese
- Heat the marinara slowly over medium heat, in any small cast-iron or steel skillet that you would like to serve in. (You can also make this in any pan and slide it onto any pretty bowl or plate you like.)
- When the sauce is warm, crack the eggs into the middle of the sauce and season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Shave Parmesan over the top.
- For the stovetop method, cover with a lid and simmer on low for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how well you like your yolks cooked.
- To bake in the oven, leave uncovered and place in a 375°F/190°C oven for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how well you like your yolks cooked.
- While the eggs are cooking, toast or grill some hearty sourdough bread slices and butter.
- Drizzle the baked eggs with salsa verde and serve with toast.
Mediterranean Salsa Verde
- ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped, drained capers
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1½ tablespoons finely minced shallots
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup pure olive oil or other mild oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Mix all ingredients together and taste for seasoning.
- It’s best to make it at least an hour before you need it so the flavors can develop. You can keep this stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week or so and spoon it onto almost anything.
Variations for the salsa verde:
- Chopped boquerones or other anchovies
- Minced garlic
- Any type of chopped olives
- Minced sundried tomatoes
If you liked this post, take a look at these links:
- My recent posts: On Schmaltz and Digital Publishing and The Book of Schmaltz: The Hardcover Edition.
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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.