Chef, instructor, cookbook author, restaurateur and winemaker Joanne Weir doesn’t need a new career – but if she did, she might consider becoming an auctioneer.
At Fresh Starts Chef Events on April 7, she managed to auction off scraping rights to the bowl and spatula used to mix the mascarpone cheese, cream, and other ingredients for her Tequila-mi-su. And one lucky bidder took home the entire dessert she had just put together (which she says tastes much better the next day.)
A loyal supporter of Homeward Bound and the Fresh Starts Culinary Academy, Chef Joanne was making her fourth appearance with our celebrity chef series. “I’m thrilled to be here,” she told the sold-out crowd; guests received her with equal warmth.
Mediterranean style has been Joanne’s signature cuisine for years. But in 2012, she opened (with well-known restaurateur Larry Mindel) a Mexican restaurant, Copita Tequileria y Comida in Sausalito. She made her first wine the same year, all while presenting her show on PBS-TV and teaching around the world.
While chopping and mixing, Joanne described the easy way to skin a roasted pepper – rub with a paper towel; how to cook with parchment paper — brush with olive oil and seal it well; how to know “real” tequila – make sure it’s 100% agave.
By her own admission, she “channeled Julia Child” – some of this, a little more of that – as she prepared sweet pea guacamole served with fresh tortilla chips and a tomatillo, mint, and avocado salsa for the salmon, shrimp, and spring vegetables baked in parchment. The main course was accompanied by green rice (who knew plain old rice could taste so good?) and, of course, her Tequila-mi-su.
Guests had the chance to buy a glass of Joanne Weir wines as well, though she produces only 100 cases of each. Despite being relatively new, both her red and white wines were double gold-medal winners in the San Francisco International Wine Competition.
According to Joanne, her newest book, “Cooking Confidence,” is based on the oh-so-common question: “What should I make for dinner tonight?” She promised its recipes use fresh, healthful ingredients in delicious dishes that are relatively easy to prepare — guests had no trouble taking her at her word. – Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos by Neely Wang.
Salmon, Shrimp and Spring Vegetables Baked in Parchment – Serves 6
3 small carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
6 very fresh salmon fillets (6 oz. each)
6 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 lime, thinly sliced
6 spears asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
1 cup sugar snap peas, strings removed
¼ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the carrots and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and set the carrots aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut 6 pieces of parchment paper (or foil) in the shape of a heart, about 20 inches across at the widest part of the heart. Brush each piece liberally with olive oil.
Place one piece of salmon on half of the heart and top each with one shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and place a slice of lime on each fillet.
Divide the carrots, asparagus and snap peas evenly among the 6 parchment hearts, scattering them on top of the salmon. Sprinkle a tablespoon of white wine on top of the fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
To seal each parcel, fold the heart in half and begin by folding and creasing the edges to enclose the salmon and vegetables. Continue folding the paper down over itself until the parcel is completely enclosed.
Place the parchment parcels on a baking sheet and slide into the oven until well puffed, about 15 minutes. To serve, place one parchment parcel on each plate and snip the center open with scissors.