Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Stanley Tucci's Favorite Panini

 By: The Food Hunter


On an episode of the Desert Island Dishes podcast, host Margie Nomura asked Stanley Tucci what his favorite sandwich was, to which Tucci exuberantly replied, “I love all sandwiches!”  Tucci went on to share that one sandwich, in particular, holds his favorite spot, and that is his twist on the infamous grilled cheese.

It should come as no surprise that Tucci’s version of this American classic uses authentic Italian ingredients. I wouldn't have expected anything less from the Italian sex symbol. 

If you want to recreate his favorite sandwich at home Tucci suggests using mozzarella, dry-cured salted ham (aka prosciutto) and fresh basil or pesto (or both).

Stanley Tucci's Favorite Cheese Panini


3-4 pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto
3 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
fresh basil or pesto or both
2 slices artisan bread
butter or olive oil for bread

Decide if you want to use butter or oil. My preference is butter. Coat one side of your bread slices with pats of butter and place face down on a heated griddle or flat pan.

Top each piece of bread with prosciutto and mozzarella. Lastly, top with either piece of fresh basil or a drizzle of pesto or maybe both…it is up to you. Top the sandwich with the other slice of buttered bread and cook. After a few minutes, carefully flip and cook the other side.

Once the cheese has melted, remove the sandwich from the pan, slice it in half and serve.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Mustard Seared Tuna with Shallot Cream

 By: The Food Hunter

For those who adore the combination of rich, savory flavors and the fresh taste of seafood, Mustard Seared Tuna with Shallot Cream is a dish that promises to impress. I discovered this recipe on Food & Wine. This dish, created by chef Stuart Bell, perfectly balances the robustness of Dijon mustard with the delicate flavor of tuna, all elevated by a luscious shallot cream.

Let’s explore how to create this culinary masterpiece in your own kitchen. Below is a high-level overview of the recipe scaled for 2 people.

Mustard Seared Tuna with Shallot Cream


  • Shallot Cream:

    • Kosher salt
    • 1-2 medium shallots (unpeeled)
    • 1/8 cup heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • ¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Tuna:

    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon drained capers
    • 1-2 tuna steaks
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    • Eggplant Relish (for serving)
    • Steamed green beans (for serving)


  1. Prepare the Shallot Cream:

    • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    • Spread a 1/2-inch layer of salt in a baking dish and arrange the shallots on the salt. Bake for 45 minutes until soft. Let them cool, then peel and blend with cream, lemon juice, mustard, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook the Tuna:

    • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add capers and cook until crisp. Set aside.
    • Season tuna with salt and pepper, spread mustard on each side, and cook in the same skillet until browned outside and medium-rare within.
  3. Serve:

    • Plate the shallot cream and place the fish on top. Sprinkle the crispy capers. Serve alongside Eggplant Relish and steamed green beans.



Tuesday, June 25, 2024

An Unforgettable Evening at Top of the Market in San Diego

By: The Food Hunter

This experience was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own.  

San Diego is a city brimming with culinary delights, but few dining experiences can compare to an evening at Top of the Market. Nestled on the waterfront, this restaurant offers not only stunning views of the bay but also a menu that showcases the finest in fresh, local ingredients. My husband and I were recently invited to dine at Top of the Market, and it was an evening filled with exceptional flavors and impeccable service. Here’s a look at the unforgettable meal we enjoyed.

Our evening began with the Kanpachi Crudo, a dish that set the tone for the exquisite culinary journey ahead. The presentation was a visual delight, with thin slices of kanpachi artfully arranged on the plate. Each bite was a harmonious blend of local citrus and creamy avocado, enhanced by the subtle heat of Serrano peppers and the richness of olive oil. The freshness of the fish, combined with the bright, zesty flavors, made this appetizer a standout start to our meal.

Next, we shared the Beet and Burrata Salad, a beautifully plated dish that was as delightful to look at as it was to eat. The salad featured peppery arugula, complemented by sweet, juicy segments of orange. The creamy burrata paired perfectly with the earthy beets, and the pistachios added a satisfying crunch. The white balsamic vinaigrette tied all the elements together with its tangy and slightly sweet profile, making this salad a refreshing and sophisticated choice.

For the main course, I chose the Alaskan Halibut, and it did not disappoint. The halibut was perfectly cooked, with a golden-brown crust and a tender, flaky interior. It was served atop a bed of fregola, a type of Sardinian pasta, that added a wonderful texture to the dish. Asparagus spears provided a crisp contrast, while the preserved lemon tzatziki offered a creamy, tangy element that elevated the flavors. Thin slices of Persian cucumber and dill completed the dish, adding a refreshing crunch that balanced the richness of the fish and sauce.

My husband opted for the local Sea Bass, which was another fantastic choice. The sea bass was sitting on a bed of silky polenta that was simply divine. The mushrooms added an earthy depth to the dish, while the citrus salsa brought a surprising and delightful sweetness that complemented the fish beautifully. Each component was expertly crafted, creating a harmonious and memorable dish that highlighted the chef’s skill and creativity.


Dining at Top of the Market was more than just a meal; it was a culinary experience that showcased the best seafood San Diego has to offer. The combination of fresh, local ingredients, innovative dishes, and impeccable service made for an evening that we won't soon forget. Whether you’re a local or just visiting, Top of the Market is a must-visit destination for anyone who appreciates fine dining and exceptional seafood. If you’re looking to treat yourself to an unforgettable dinner with breathtaking views, this is the place to be.

Ready to experience Top of the Market for yourself? Here’s a tip: make a reservation in advance to secure a table with a view of the bay. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply want to enjoy a night out, this restaurant promises a dining experience that’s second to none. Enjoy your meal, and prepare to be amazed!

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Lemon & Mint Snap Pea Salad

By: The Food Hunter

As the weather warms up, there's nothing quite like a refreshing salad to complement your meals. This lemon and mint snap pea salad is the perfect dish for spring and summer, combining crisp snap peas with the zesty brightness of lemon and the refreshing taste of mint. It's an easy-to-make salad that's light, healthy, and full of flavor, making it ideal for brunches, picnics, potlucks, or any occasion where you want to impress with minimal effort. 

Tips and Variations:

  • Extra Crunch: Add your favorite nut for an additional crunchy texture.
  • Herbal Twist: Substitute basil or parsley for mint if you prefer a different herb.
  • Spicy Kick: Sprinkle a pinch of red pepper flakes into the dressing for a subtle heat.
  • Vegan Option: Omit the feta cheese or use a plant-based alternative.

Why You'll Love This Salad:

  1. Quick and Easy: This salad comes together in just a few minutes, making it perfect for busy days or last-minute gatherings.
  2. Fresh and Flavorful: The combination of crisp snap peas, bright lemon, and refreshing mint creates a burst of flavor in every bite.
  3. Versatile: This salad can be a side dish, a light lunch, or even a main course when paired with grilled chicken or fish.


Lemon + Mint Snap Pea Salad

⅓ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 cup snap peas, sliced thin
½ cup fresh mint leaves (not packed)
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
feta cheese
tomatoes, chopped

Mix together dressing ingredients. Add the dressing to the chopped peas, tomatoes and mint. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add walnuts and feta cheese.

Serve immediately! 

This lemon and mint snap pea salad is more than just a side dish—it's a celebration of fresh, seasonal ingredients that come together to create something truly special. Give it a try, and enjoy the refreshing, zesty, and minty flavors that make this salad a perfect addition to any meal. Happy cooking!

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Easy Strawberry Cake

By: The Food Hunter

If you adore strawberries, then this easy strawberry cake is the perfect treat for you. With only a few ingredients and a mere 10 minutes of prep time, you can create a delightful dessert that's ideal for spring, summer, or any occasion that calls for something sweet and refreshing.

Tips and Variations:

  • Extra Strawberries: For an extra burst of freshness, fold in some chopped fresh strawberries into the batter before baking.
  • Turbinado Sugar: Grease your pan and sprinkle with some sugar.
  • Serve with Ice Cream: A scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside a slice of this cake can take your dessert experience to the next level.
  • Blueberries: This cake would be equally delicious with blueberries 


Easy Strawberry Cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups sliced strawberries

1. Preheat:
   - Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
   - Butter a 10-inch springform pan

2. Prepare Dry Ingredients:
   - Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.
3. Mix Wet Ingredients:
   - Put butter and 1 cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
   - Mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
   - Add in egg, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.
   - Mix until combined.

4. Combine:
   - Gradually mix in the flour mixture.
   - Transfer batter to the prepared pan.

5. Arrange Strawberries:
   - Arrange strawberry slices on top of the batter.

6. Bake:
   - Bake cake for 10 minutes.
   - Reduce oven temperature to 325°F (160°C).
   - Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50-55 minutes.

7. Cool and Serve:
   - Let the cake cool in the pan.
   - To serve, cut into pieces.

Whether you're planning a spring brunch, a summer picnic, or simply want a quick and delicious dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth, this easy cake is a fantastic choice. Its simplicity, combined with the delightful flavor of strawberries, makes it a go-to recipe you'll want to make again and again.

It's a recipe that promises maximum enjoyment with minimal fuss, making it an essential addition to your dessert repertoire. Happy baking!