VIDEO: Chef-restaurateur Brian Malarkey Whips Up Delectable Sides With Cathy Thomas

Chef-restaurateur Brian Malarkey is a fast talker. Not in the negative sense, but the way he hurls chains of words into sentences at lightning speed. While taping a video, I got a little flustered by the “Top Chef” finalist’s rapid pace; I handed him a mandolin when he asked for a Microplane. How embarrassing.

Malarkey has applied that high-energy culinary talent to creating more than a dozen successful restaurants, including Herb & Wood, his newest concept in San Diego’s buzzing gastronomic neighborhood of Little Italy. His other restaurants, under the management of Hakkasan Group (an international hospitality company) include Searsucker (San Diego, Del Mar, Austin, Las Vegas) and Herringbone (La Jolla, Santa Monica, Las Vegas).



In my home kitchen he prepared two delectable vegetable-centric dishes. He roasted baby carrots and cauliflower florets on high heat long enough to create rich caramelization on their exteriors. Roasted carrots were plated atop a generous smear of Aleppo pepper-spiked yogurt sauce, then drizzled with a Carrot Top Pesto Sauce. Dukkah, an optional Egyptian-style condiment consisting of herbs, nuts, and spices, dusted the surface. The browned cauliflower florets found their way into a warm vinaigrette that included fresh herbs and store-bought sweet-hot red peppers from Mama’s Lil’s Peppas. Delicious.

He will be appearing at the Fourth Annual Newport Beach Wine & Food event held September 29 to October 1, 2017. On September 30, he will be serving food from Herb & Wood Restaurant. And at 4:45 that day, he will present a cooking demonstration. I bet vegetables will be the theme.

Roasted Carrots with Aleppo Pepper Yogurt

Yield: 2 to 3 servings

1 bunch baby carrots with greens

Extra-virgin olive oil for coating carrots

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Aleppo yogurt: 1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt (such as Fage- pronounced fa-yeh), 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, Aleppo pepper to taste and salt to taste

Dukkah, if using, see cook’s notes

Cook’s notes: Aleppo pepper is available online and at The Savory Spice Shop at the OC Mix in Costa Mesa.  If desired, top dish with Dukkah, an Egyptian condiment consisting of herbs, nuts, and spices. To make Malarkey’s version, in a mortar and pestle combine 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, 1/4 cup toasted cashews, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/4 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, salt and pepper to taste. Grind until all ingredients are incorporated but not completely crushed. This will make more dukkah then you use in the recipe, but it will last in a well-sealed jar for 2 weeks. Use atop other vegetables, rice, chicken or scrambled eggs.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Separate carrot from green tops (reserve tops for pesto). Peel carrots and cut in half lengthwise or quarter lengthwise if large. Place on rimmed baking sheet and toss with enough oil to nicely coat. Roast in preheated oven until nicely caramelized and tender, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare Carrot Top Pesto: Place green carrot tops in blender. Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, shallots, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 cup oil; blend until finely chopped. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Prepare yogurt sauce: Combine yogurt, Aleppo pepper and salt.
  4. To plate: Make a generous smear of yogurt sauce on each plate. Top with carrots. Spoon Carrot Top Pesto on top. Sprinkle with Dukkah, if using.

Roasted Cauliflower

Yield: 3 to 4 servings

1 head cauliflower, cored, trimmed into florets

Extra-virgin olive oil for coating cauliflower

1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

1/4 bunch parsley, minced

1/4 cup fresh chives, minced

2 tablespoons chopped Mama Lil’s Peppas, see cook’s notes

3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook’s notes: Mama Lil’s Sweet Hot Peppas, peppers with an alluring sweet-hot perkiness, are sold online at (six-bottle minimum order – I give them as hostess gifts).

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring pot of water to boil. Add cauliflower florets and blanch 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well and pat dry. Place on rimmed baking sheet, and toss with enough oil to lightly coat. Roast in preheated oven until richly browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven. Toss in skillet on medium-high heat. Add vinegar and deglaze pan. Add herbs and “peppas.” Cook until vinegar is reduced in volume by half. Coat with oil to make a warm vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.

Source: Chef-restaurateur Brian Malarkey, Herb & Wood, San Diego

Cathy Thomas is an award-winning food writer and has authored three cookbooks: “50 Best Plants on the Planet,” “Melissa’s Great Book of Produce,” and “Melissa’s Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce.”

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