Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Cuban in Mexico

Why dear piggy? Why are you so damn delicious? The latino got it right. Just what would Latino food culture be without the pig? Up here in Seattle we're not exactly teeming with Latino culture. We have some great taqueria trucks and the awesome Salvadorian Bakery but if you want Cuban food you're out of luck. Every Christmas my family makes a traditional Cuban x-mas meal of roast pork, black beans and rice, yucca con mojo, and tons of other good stuff. The only problem is, this year I could wait until the holidays to have my roast pork. I made it in November. Nope, not even for turkey day. Just some random Thursday. One of the best things about Cuban roast pork is all the leftovers. Empanadas, pork sandwiches, quesadillas... Yeah you heard me, quesadillas. I don't know much about faux pas except for the fact that I seem to make at least a few of them a day. Cuba and Mexico may not care for each other very much but I happen to love both cuisines. I bought some fresh tortillas and cotija and queso Oaxaca from my favorite bodega in the market. Sprinkle in some shredded roast pork, roasted goathorn peppers, and scallions. Che would've eaten this happily and asked for seconds. Muy sabroso!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's all Greek to me.

I have a friend that doesn't eat cute meat. That is, animals that she would have as a pet, she won't eat. Now I agree to the extent that I probably wouldn't want to eat a cat (I love my pain in the ass cat), but if I was in a country that ate cat I guess I would try it. What I have found is that the cuter the animal the more delicious it is. Lamb, pork, rabbit, all delicious. I think it's a healthy attitude to have if you're connected to where your food comes from. If you don't want to think about eating animals, be a vegetarian. Okay, so who's still reading? Good, you either have a healthy sense of what you eat and a good sense of humor, or you're completely disgusted by me and you're one of those sickos who can't stop looking at car crash victims. Either way, glad you're here! I am such a carnivore I truly have no idea how I managed to be vegetarian for 8 years. Perhaps I'm making up for those years but if you give me the choice of animal or vegetable I will almost always go with the meat. So anyways... Greek food! How's that for a segue?!

I wonder how upset Greek chefs get when the clueless order a gyro (jai-ro)? It's pronounced (yeer-ro) you vlakas uncultured kolodaktilo is probably what they say. Most people that have ever eaten Greek food knows what spanakopita is. You know, spinach, feta cheese, and spices wrapped in phyllo dough. Kreatopita is a meat version of those delicious Greek pies usually involving lamb. Now, phyllo is a little bit difficult to work with. You have to be pretty quick and careful because it's paper thin and dries out quickly. If you lay some plastic wrap over the dough and then keep it covered with a damp kitchen towel you'll be fine. Try making this dish and you will impress even your most jaded of Greek friends! At least the meat eating ones.


1/2 cup EV olive oil
1 large onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pound ground lamb
2 packed cups wilted spinach *
1/2 lb Greek feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
kosher salt tt
fresh cracked black pepper tt
20 sheets of phyllo, thawed
olive oil for brushing

* To wilt the spinach, briefly blanch in boiling water about 2-3 minutes. Removed from the water, drain, and wrap in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out the water. Set aside.

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium high heat saute the onions and garlic until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground lamb and brown. Remove from the heat and let come to room temp. Mix in the spinach, spices, 1 egg, dill, and feta. Combine well.

Take out one sheet of phyllo. Lay it flat, brush it with olive oil. Lay another phyllo sheet over the top. Brush with olive oil. Repeat until you have 12 sheets stacked on top of each other. Brush an 8" cake pan with olive oil. Lay the 12 stacked phyllo sheets inside so that it fits into the bottom and corners but still comes up the sides and sticks out. Now stack the 8 leftover sheets of phyllo the same way you did with the bottom sheets. Fill the bottom shell with the lamb mixture. Cover with the top 8 layers and tuck in the excess dough down inside the bottom layer. You can cut away some dough if there's too much. Brush the top of the pie with the other egg. Bake for 35 minutes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What to eat when the banks collapse. vol. 1

My wife and I always joke that at least I have the cooking skills so if we ever end up homeless at least I can cook up a tasty pigeon. No, it's not that bad over here but things are a bit tough right now. Money is tight and business is slow and I'm constantly trying to think of ways that I can put my cooking and food planning skills to use. We're buying less pre-prepared food and trying to be less impulsive in the grocery market. I started making a weekly plan of food that I can cook that will last us a few meals on the cheap. It's actually quite simple to make amazing, delicious meals for not much money. Sometimes it takes a little more effort but it's worth it. I started off this week with some of my Irish roots (actually I married into being Irish). In Seattle you should buy your brisket at the lovely Market House Corned Beef at the bottom of Capitol Hill. You have to admire a place so dedicated to producing one quality cut of meat for the past 50 plus years. Beautiful corned beef for about $3.99 a pound. Market House Corned Beef - 1124 Howell St- Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 624-9248.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

6 lbs corned beef brisket
1 1/2 lbs yellow onions, thickly sliced
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 lbs red potatoes, peeled and halved
2 heads cabbage, cut into 6 wedges ea.
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1/2 cup Guinness Irish stout
1 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp coriander seed
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1/2 Tbsp dill seed
3 bay leaves

Here's the easy part. Place everything except for the onions, carrots, potatoes and cabbage in a large stock pot and cover with water. Give it a little stir and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 3 hours. Add the potatoes, carrots, onions, and place the cabbage on top and continue cooking for 40 more minutes covered or until the cabbage and potatoes are fork tender. Season if needed with kosher salt. Slice the corned beef across the grain. Serve with cabbage and vegetables and a good dollop of Dijon or course-grain mustard.

what to do with leftovers
corned beef sandwiches (Reuben!)
corned beef hash and eggs
corned beef soup
corned beef croquettes
Irish tacos

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Haitian feast.

When I lived in Miami I never really appreciated what I had around me. Sure I ate all the Cuban food I could eat and I definitely ate my fair share of seafood. Unfortunately I can count the amount of times I ate Haitian, Jamaican, Nigerian, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Dominican, or any of the many other ethnic foods Miami has in spades on my fingers and toes. Perhaps my family was just a little too white Cuban bread to go out for something as obscure as Nigerian food, or maybe I was a little too busy skateboarding to care. Lucky for me I did at least get some tastes to remember. I bought some local organic goat meat at the farmers market a few weeks ago and decided that I needed to make a Haitian feast.

Hatian Curried Goat
I found a traditional Haitian curried goat recipe that seemed to have as much Jamaican influence as Haitian technique. The goat meat was stewed in a curry that was almost more of a Jamaican jerk sauce than a curry. To make it my own I tweaked the amounts of onion, ginger, garlic, cumin, chilies, allspice, and cinnamon. I also added a little bit of lime and coconut milk.

Pigeon Peas and Rice
This pigeon peas recipe has a bit of a Puerto Rican influence to it. It makes sense that all of these island that are so close to each other have such similar influences. I rendered some bacon and sauteed onions and garlic in the bacon grease. I then stirred in the rice until the grains got glossy. Then I added the canned(drained) pigeon peas and coconut milk. Brought up to a boil and stuck it covered in a 375 degree oven for 30 mins. Yummy.

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
This is almost a southern soul food dish with some African influence. I love okra. I know a lot of people who don't seem to care about this mysteriously slimy vegetable. In the south they cut them up and deep fry the delicious little snacks. This dish is so easy. Chop fresh okra (you can use frozen) and stew it with diced tomatoes, chilies, salt and pepper. I of course added bacon because it was sitting there staring at me. I have no self bacon control.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What up, homefry.

In Seattle there used to be a 24 hour cafe called Minny's. Once in a while I had one of those nights when I needed some grub at 2 in the morning (ie:drunkytown) and Minny's was one of only a handful of all night eateries in Seattle(if I wanted gut rot or a free showing of crackhead theater I'd go to The Hurricane). After trying to swerve our bodies through the sea of drunken frat boys we would finally reach our table and peruse the menu. Not that we needed to, burgers are always the only logical choice at that time of night (that or a breakfast of chicken fried steak). My biggest complaint was the fact that they served home fries instead of french fries. Every time we went there I would say "what kind of dumb, backwards hick place is this?" "You don't serve home fries with a burger!" I still hold true to my drunken sentiments, however I don't want the potato gods to be angry with me and I should show my appreciation for the glorious fries made at home. I served my with eggs and toast like it should be! I used Olsen Farms heirloom new potatoes and Olsen's house made German sausage. To make it a little more interesting I added some fennel, cherry peppers, and fresh rosemary. I sauteed some onions and garlic, added the fennel, peppers, and diced sausage cooked until soft/done. In a different pan at the same time I cooked the small diced potatoes (with the rosemary and salt and pepper) in butter until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I combined the two, seasoned, and added some chopped fennel frond. Home fries fit for the best of chicken fried steaks!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mac N' Blue

This ain't your mama's mac n'cheese. Well, maybe it is but if that's the case your mom's got some home cookin' class. I love traditional Southern style simple macaroni and cheese, all creamy and gooey with a crunchy breadcrumb topping. However sometimes you have to change things up a little. I like to make this recipe using my favorite Point Reyes blue cheese, peppery thick bacon, and fresh chanterell mushrooms. I also usually use a thicker type of past like penne or rigatoni to hold up to the sauce. Don't be scared of this recipe. You can always diet tomorrow.

1 lb penne or rigatoni
1 lb pepper bacon, cut into batons (small strips)
1/2 lb chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded asiago cheese
2 cups crumbled Point Reyes blue cheese
1 cup grated parmesean cheese
kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Boil pasta in large pot of salted water until al dente or just cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Drain. In a saute pan over medium high heat render the bacon, about 3-4 minutes. Remove cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate.

Butter a 10" (or so) baking dish. Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Add flour and stir constantly for 1 minute (do not brown). Slowly whisk in milk and cream. Simmer until it thickens slightly, about 4 minutes (whisking periodically). Reduce heat to low. Add the shredded asiago cheese and the crumbled blue cheese. Whisk until cheese melts, about 2-3 minutes. Season sauce with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Stir the cooked pasta, mushrooms and bacon into the sauce, mixing well. Transfer the mixture to the buttered baking dish. Top with grated parmesean. Bake about 30 minutes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Poke (no, not Pokemon)

I hate August. We're so close to my favorite season of Fall but we still have to get through the hottest month of them all. So it's like 500 degrees in my apartment right now. No lie. The idea of cooking anything makes me die a little bit inside. In dire times like these I look to salads, ceviches, sushi, or anything I can eat raw. I love this poke dish using sashimi grade ahi tuna. I make it my own by adding a little ponzu and togarashi.

1 lb sashimi grade ahi tuna, medium diced
1 sheet nori seaweed, cut into small strips
4 tablespoons scallion, finely sliced on bias
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp ponzu (or lime juice)
dash of togarashi (spicy Japanese pepper)
1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Mix well and eat. It doesn't get mush easier than that.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Porchetta Salad

Okay, let me preface this by saying that if you are watching your weight stop reading now. Actually you probably won't want to read my blog ever again. My love of fatty delicious food is uncontrollable. This dish is what happens when we decide we need to eat a little lighter so perhaps well have a salad for dinner. I bought a couple slices of porchetta from my favorite butchers, Don & Joe. What is porchetta you ask? Why it only happens to be one of the most delicious inventions in the history of the glorious pig (no, pigs didn't invent it). Porchetta is basically deboned suckling pig that has been rolled up with herbs and spices. So basically you have the pork belly, shoulder, loin, chopped innards, and skin all rolled up into a tight cylinder. It's like god in pork form. So I made a herb and mesclun salad with a maple balsamic viniagrette. I topped it off with some of my favorite Point Reyes blue cheese and toasted walnuts. Then somewhere in my deranged brain I thought to myself "what would make this dish even more rich and decadent?". "I know, I'll top it with the yolk of a small farm, organic chicken egg." I got the idea from a Spanish dish I had once where it was a deconstructed caeser salad where the dressing was not emusifyed but instead the greens were topped with a drizzle of amazing olive oil, sea salt, fresh anchovies, and a duck egg yolk on top. I felt like if I was going to go all out I might as well go all out. In the end, perhaps the egg was over the top but I can tell you that it was delicious and as I fended off my heart attack and my "Am I getting fat?" guilt I happily licked my plate clean.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Indonesian chicken wings.

I love Asian street food. I also love Buffalo wings. I had some chicken wings in my fridge but I didn't have any Frank's Red Hot (hot sauce) which is what I like to make my Buffalo wings with. Instead I went the route of making an Idonesian bbq sauce with kecap manis which is Indonesian soy sauce that's sweetened with palm sugar. It's thicker and sweeter than other soy sauces and I mixed it with sambal (chili garlic paste) and ginger. This was a great summer snack especially with a few Bintang beers. You can make them as spicy as you want them, just don't burn your kitchen down because will get a little smokey if you broil them like I do.

Indonesian Chicken Wings

3 lbs chicken wings (tips removed)
1/2 c kecap manis
2 Tbsp sambal
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice

Remove the tips of the chicken wings and cut them in half at the joint. Preheat broiler. Combine the soy sauce, ginger, sambal, honey and lime juice and stir until mixed well. Marinate the chicken in the bbq sauce for 30 minutes refrigerator. Place the chicken wings on a broiler pan or sheet pan in a single layer spread apart. Broil for 8-10 minutes each side until the chicken is perfectly cooked. Serve right away.

Friday, July 18, 2008

little piece of chicken

Roasted chicken is not glamorous. It's not the kind of dish you think of when you have guests you want to impress. Too many visions of clicky chicken dry as a bone. It takes too long to cook and you can't seem to find that instant temp you had laying around so you just cook it until the color pink is eradicated. Well it doesn't have to been this way. Roasted chicken is a beautiful dish when cooked properly. I'm a fan of the high heat for less time method. One of my favorite chicken recipes is from James Drohman of Le Pichet & Café Presse. It's simple and has amazing texture and flavor. I added some truffle butter to doll it up a little. I served the chicken with a fresh chorizo stuffing.

Roasted Chicken
3/4lb roasting chicken
1/4lb butter
2 Tbsp truffle butter
coarse sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Truss the chicken. Melt the butter in the roasting pan over medium heat on the stove top. Select a heavy roasting pan just large enough to hold the bird. Rub the truffle butter under the skin of the bird. When the butter is melted, place the chicken in the pan on its back. Baste well with the butter. Season liberally with the sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Put the chicken in the oven and roast until done, basting every 15 minutes. Depending on the size of the chicken and your oven, this should take about 1 hour. Remove the string and serve immediately

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My cheese is moldy.

Everybody loves cheese (wasn't that a tv show?). Ask any ex-vegan what their downfall was and 90% of the time it'll be the fromage. When I was a kid I would sit there and eat a whole block of velveeta by myself. Yeah I know that's not really cheese but it was close enough. As I've gotten older my tastes have refined a bit and I tend to enjoy cheeses that aren't sliced and individually wrapped in plastic. Washington state is home to some amazing cheesemakers (and a lot of ex-vegans). One of my favorite cheeses is the seastack from Mt. Townsend Creamery. Seastack, or the Sleestack as K likes to call it (any Land of the Lost fans out there?), is a brie style cow's milk cheese that is mold ripened for two to three weeks. It's coated with vegetable ash and salt ot give it an earthy flavor. I love this cheese. It's soft and creamy with a tangy bite from the rind. It's the perfect cheese that will stand up to a bold acidic white wine. As I recently discovered it's also a great cheese to cook with. I made a light cheese sauce out of it and served it with brussel sprouts. Very delicious.

Brussel Sprouts with Seastack

1 lb brussel sprouts, trimed and cut in half
1 Tbsp butter
1 round of Seastack cheese
1/2 c dry white wine
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

In a saute pan over medium high heat melt the butter and saute the brussel sprouts cut side down until they get a nice caramelization (about 3-4 minutes). Pour in the wine and with a spoon swirl in the dijon mustard. Cover and turn the heat down to medium low. Steam for 6-8 minutes until just tender. Cut the Seastack in half. With a spoon scrape the cheese out of the rind and stir into the sauce until the cheese dissolves. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Curry crab salad.

So it seems as though summer has finally started to creep up on Seattle. It's been sunny for like three days straight and they say it might even reach 75 degrees today. Crazyness! To celebrate days like this I enjoy eating nice and light. Salads, tapas, sandwiches, cocktails, you know, light meals. The market had some beautiful shelled dungeness crab meat and I recently looked through one of my old Thai cookbooks that has a great recipe for curried crab. I thought I'd summer up the dish a little bit by turning it into a salad.

Thai Curry Crab Salad

1 Tbsp minced lemongrass (just the soft white parts)
2 Tbsp minced ginger
3 minced cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp yellow Thai curry paste
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 Tbsp palm or brown sugar
1 cup coconut milk

1 lb fresh crabmeat
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 bunch cilantro

In a hot pan with a little peanut oil quickly stir fry the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic. When the aromatics start to get soft add the curry paste and fry that for a few minutes. Then add the soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and coconut milk. Mix well and simmer until it reduces a bit and becomes a little bit thicker. Taste and season with salt if needed. Remove from heat and chill.

Mix together the crabmeat, scallions, chilies, sprigs of cilantro, and lime. Add about half of the curry and mix well. Add more if needed. Serve with sesame crackers and some nice greens.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Be the meatball.

So I know I've gushed about how amazing the Leschi market is and how amazing their butchers are. Lamb sausage, landjager, smoked turkey, etc. They also do a few prepared items that are very delicious. They do a mean meatloaf that is juicy and tasty. They also make organic angus beef meatballs. These meatballs melt in your mouth and will make you swear off vegetables. I could live off these beautiful spheres of meat.

So the first night cooked them off and made kefthethes. I roasted them in the oven with tomatoes, thyme, and lemon. After they're done, I topped them off with some feta cheese and kalamata olives and served them with grilled pita.

The next day for lunch we had grilled lamb sausage and meatball sandwiches with caramelized peppers and onions. I wanted to eat like ten of them but I'm on a diet so I only ate one huge meaty sandwich. I tell you what, it seems like the butchers at this fine establishment can do no wrong.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

classy hangover food

Let's face it, when you have a really horrible hangover the last thing on your mind is food. But we all know that getting some of that all important greasy goodness in your stomach is one of the only things that will put you back in the land of the living. That and a half a bottle of aspirin. The problem is that our mushy brains tend to gravitate towards fast food at dire times like these. Quick and painless, that's what we want. It doesn't have to be that way. Or at least not if there is someone else nearby who can still manage to make a grilled cheese sandwich. I think that the grilled cheese is the perfect anti-hangover food. Greasy and cheesy enough to rumble with whatever booze still lurks in your body. Why else do you think it has American classic status? Because of it's healing properties, that's why. It can be as simple as American cheese on white bread pressed in a buttery pan or something quite noble and elegant as my version of the classic. Either way, you'll be on your way to no longer wishing you were dead.

Grilled Cheese with Black Forest Bacon and Pink Lady Apples

8 slices of good dense artisan bread
1/2 lb Beecher's Smoked Flagship (see sidebar)
1/2 lb black forest bacon
2 pink lady apples
Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp butter

Easy stuff. Cook the bacon until done. Preheat a grill pan over medium heat. Slice the cheese and apples. Spread some mustard on the bread. Layer on some bacon, cheese and apples. Put you sandwich together. Spread a little butter on the outside of the sandwich and place on your grill pan (or even on your BBQ). Cook for about 4 minutes each side or until the cheese is melted.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I think I'm disappearing?

All of my old comments disappeared when I revamped my account. Very strange. No big deal I guess but I just wanted to tell you that If you leave a comment I will comment back. I'm not a jerk, really. xo

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Da Pino

On a semi-seedy strip of Rainier Ave on the outskirts of Columbia City (a pretty newly-hip neighborhood near the International District lies a tiny hole in the wall called Da Pino. Blink and you'll miss it. To help find it keep your eyes peeled for the tagged up Chicken Shack across the street and it's not that far from the gutted out Chubby & Tubby. What we have here is Calabria, Italy native Pino Rogano's tiny charcuterie deli/restaurant.

When you walk in you'll trip over a few tables of old Italian men snacking away at plates of a in-house cured salami and lamb prosciutto. That's right, I said lamb prosciutto. It's what Pino is best known for. The only problem is that he runs out before it even leaves the curing room. Not to say that everything else he makes isn't amazing. His spicy salamino is moist and peppery and makes a kick ass sandwich with a little garlic aioli and arugula. Maybe even on one of the scrumptious sandwich rolls from nearby Columbia City Bakery. Also if you happen to see some of his wild boar salami hanging in the case buy a few because you're likely to eat them before you make it home. Slightly gamey with an amazing richness and a hint of acidity from the wine he adds to it. Thinly sliced with a nice double cream brie and a few glasses of a spicy red wine and I couldn't be happier (well, unless I won the lottery).

Yes, I did mention something about people eating lunch there. He has a small menu of assorted sandwiches, soups, and salads. He also has a few pasta specials up on a chalkboard. I recently went to Da Pino with a friend and we were slightly intimidated by Mr. Rogano. He is a very no nonsense guy. After getting over the butterflies in our stomachs I decided to ask him if we could eat there. He pointed to a menu on the counter and we escaped to confines of a table in the corner. He walked over and said we should have sandwiches with the fresh mild Italian sausage he just made. They were so delicious. Nice crusty bread with fresh marinara and melty mozzarella. Oh god, and the sausages were so moist and flavorful. Amazing.

I know Pino doesn't have a kid on the Food Network but that doesn't mean he isn't one of Seattle's kings of charcuterie. Just be sure to call ahead so you can get some lamb prosciutto.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spicy clams are good.

A little while ago my good friend Zoe wanted me to cook a dinner party for a bunch of people. Sadly everybody cancelled but I still cooked for a few of us. I made my favorite Manila Clams with Spanish Chorizo and Dry Vermouth. It's probably one of my favorite all time dishes. It's so savory and spicy and amazing. Don't forget the bread to dip into the phenomonal juices. I almost want to shake it with some icy gin and make a martini it's so good. Okay, maybe that would be gross but I'm not lying when I say that you will want to bottle the leftover liquid and drink everyday. Of course you could change around some of the ingredients like say littleneck clams instead of Manila or linguisa instead of chorizo. Use your imagination but until then, use my delicious recipe.

Steamed Manila Clams with Spanish Chorizo

2 lbs fresh Manila Clams
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2” thick on a bias
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c dry vermouth
1 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, stemmed & chopped
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Quickly rinse off your clams in cold water. Discard clams with broken shells.
In a medium pot with a tight fitting lid, over med heat, add your olive oil and saute the chorizo until cooked through (about 3-4 min).
Add the garlic and saute for 1 min. and then add your vermouth and bring to a simmer. As the vermouth begins to simmer add your clams and cover. Let the clams steam 5-6 min. Uncover and remove from the heat and add your parsley and season with salt and black pepper. Serve hot with a fresh baguette and some dry white wine or a martini.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Orzo Risotto with Venison Sausage

I love unusual interpretations of classic dishes. A lot of people get upset when someone messes with the food that is near and dear to their hearts and I understand that. However, if no one ever tried to innovate these dishes then we would all still be eating bland dinosaur dishes like Boiled Beef with Parsley Sauce or scary things suspended in aspic. We should definitely have a sense of history and respect the classics but by being creative and adventurous with food we can keep the arts part of the Culinary Arts relevant.

It's been done before so I'm not claiming the invention of the wheel or anything but I decided to make risotto out of orzo pasta instead of the usual rice. My own twist to it is that I tweaked the cooking method that I've seen on a few other recipes by cooking it more like an actual risotto and I've added the addition of asparagus, asiago cheese, and a local, spicy venison sausage that I purchased at Whole Foods. If you're on a diet stop reading now because just reading this recipe you will gain a couple pounds.

Orzo Risotto with Asparagus and Venison Sausage

2 cups orzo pasta
3 cups chicken stock
1 bunch fresh asparagus, hard ends removed, cut into 2" pieces
1/2 lb venison sausage, no casings
1/2 cup finely grated asiago cheese
2 tbsp high fat European style butter
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

In a pot of boiling salted water, blanch the asparagus 3 minutes.

Saute the venison sausage in a pan with a little olive oil over medium high heat until fully cooked. Season if needed.

In a large pot cover the orzo with chicken stock and cook over medium heat, adding stock as needed until just cooked through. Stir every few seconds. It should be cooked through in about 10 minutes and the remaining liquid should have a creamy consistency. Stir in the cheese, butter, asparagus, venison sausage, and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and serve hot.

Stir in cheese, butter, salt, and pepper and serve immediately.

Friday, April 11, 2008

It's the cheesiest!

So things are starting to finally settle down with our move and all. We're all moved in and unpacked and my kitchen is starting to finally be workable. I could use a little more counter space but for now it'll have to do. Now if I could only shut up my lousy upstairs neighbors. I swear they run laps up there with metal shoes on 24 hours a day. Anyways, before I work myself up, remember when you were a kid and all you wanted to eat was hot dogs and macaroni and cheese? Well that's usually what I wanted to eat. Even today I find myself craving the best of all kid's feasts. So there is an awesome cheese maker in Pike Place Market called Beechers and they make an amazing mac n' cheese using their cheddar style Flagship cheese, penne, and fresh cream and they also make a Mexican style one with corn and spicy salsa. They are so good I could eat them every day for every meal. Now for the hot dog part I decided to have an amazingly juicy brat from Uli's Sausage who also happens to live in the market. That topped with some Mama Lils goathorn peppers and spicy German mustard and I'm set. That's right, no powdered cheese or hooves in my meal. Just good fresh and local food that reminds me of being a spoiled little brat.

Friday, March 7, 2008

When it rains, it pours.

In my life, when It rains, it pours. The month of February has been a whole lot of bad. Everything I needed to work properly was broken or in the process of breaking, my body was falling apart (adult chickenpox and sprained ankles, yay!), the move to our new apartment was traumatic and never-ending, and the money gods decided that we shouldn't have any. March has begun much the same way, minus the moving part. We narrowly averted severely flooding our new apartment and the five floors beneath us (a screw broke in our shower faucet and the tub was filling up faster than It was draining and so we bailed water into our sinks for two hours until the emergency plumbers arrived). After burning some sage and whatever other spiritual stuff we could think of, we're hoping our luck turns a corner. If you have any good luck to spare, please send it my way. Now on to some food.

Lately I'm trying to focus on good things so to start off my day I love a good breakfast. Delicious venison sausage from Montana that we purchased from Whole Foods, fried local organic eggs, and some English muffins with double cream butter. Yum! The sausage was firm with a nice meaty and slightly gamey flavor. They were so good I could've had ten of them. And nothing beats a good fried egg with just a little kosher salt and fresh black pepper (plus a few dashes of Tapatio hot sauce). This is the kind of breakfast that gets me in a good mood at the beginning of the day. Not to say that I'll stay in a good mood but at least it gives my day a chance. Not only that but check out my view as I eat this tasty meal. Here's what I see out my window everyday. Be jealous.

Or This...

I used to not really care about views or anything like that but now that I have one I have to say, it rocks. There's nothing better than having a delicious meal with an amazing view. Now if I can only convince K to give me a foot rub at the same time I would be set. Oh, and I want to win the lottery.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The fish with wings.

Have you ever heard of skate? Or maybe you know it by it's other name, the ray (as in stingray). Only the wing fillets are worth eating and they are separated off by a sheath of cartilage which make eating them a small adventure. However, once you brave the unusual anatomy of the creature, you get firm succulent white fish at a reasonable price. They are boneless and fairly easy to fabricate. Sometimes the flesh can give off a slightly chemical smell but that can be dealt with by soaking the fish in a little acidulated water (water with some lemon juice in it). Don't be scared. Try something new, it won't kill you. Unless of course someone is trying to poison you. In which case, don't eat anything you don't make yourself. Good luck.

Sauteed Skate w/ Pickled Lemons and Beurre Noisette

4 skate wings, rinsed and patted dry
1 Tbsp canola oil
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup pickled lemons (recipes below)
Juice of 2 fresh lemons
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp capers, drained
3-4 slices of french bread, cut into 1" cubes
2 tsp garlic powder
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

First make the croutons. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Toss the cubed bread with the garlic power and salt. Drizzle them with canola oil. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake until golden brown (about 6-8 minutes).

Over medium high heat add 1/2 Tbsp canola oil and 1 Tbsp of butter to a large saute pan. If the skate wings are too large, cut them in half. Salt and pepper the flour. Dust the skate wings in the flour, shaking off the excess and add the skate wings to pan. Saute for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove the skate from the pan and keep warm.

In a the same, melt the rest of the butter over a medium low heat. Once the butter starts to turn golden brown add chopped parsley, lemon juice, and capers. Remove from heat. Pour evenly over cooked skate and serve with slices of pickled lemons and croutons.

Serves 4

Pickled Lemons
8 lemons, thinly sliced
32 fl oz lemon juice
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp pickling spices

Mix the lemon juice, pickling spices, salt and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil, and cook 3-4 minutes until sugar and salt dissolve. Add the lemon slices to a sterile container, and pour the brine over them and tightly cover. Will last refrigerated about one week.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Twin Peaks kind of day.

To most twisted Pacific North-westerners, David Lynch is somewhat of a local icon. Born and raised in Missoula Montana, he would later bring our mysterious part of the country into homes across America with his cultish hit show Twin Peaks. I am a huge Twin Peaks fan. I am a huge David Lynch fan for that matter. I love the way he uses non-linear storylines and finds a darkness in nearly everything wholesome. With Twin Peaks he showed the world that the beautiful green state of Washington is in fact the UFO spotting, Bigfoot stalking, serial killer raising, suicide capital of the states. It is a great state but it does have a serious dark side.
So anyways, a few weeks ago K and I went sledding with our friends Rod and Shannon. On the way out there we made a pitstop in Issaquah to grab some lunch at the famous XXX Root Beer. More of a fun kitschy experience than great food. They are a fifties style burger joint crammed to the rafters with with 50's car memorabilia. They have car shows in their parking lot almost every week. While everybody else played it pretty safe with the menu (although Shannon's Ford Roadster chili burger was a giant tasty looking monstrosity) I decided to get XXX's infamous, bigger than your torso Cutlass 442 burger. It was a very large burger with grilled ham, hamburger patty, bacon, roasted hot dog, grilled onions, mayo, XXX dressing, lettuce, tomato, pickles with curly fries. My gripe was that there was too much bun. It wouldn't be nearly as hard to finish eating if there was less bread in the equation. After eating, we waited a few minutes to see if I would have a heartattack, and then off to the snow we went. We drove out to Snoqualmie Pass and had a great time sledding and snowboarding. Though I could've done without the few times we bashed into each other at breakneck speeds. So after a few hours of playing in the snow we decided to head over to the town of North Bend, the famous setting for Twin Peaks' own Twede's Cafe where Special Agent Dale Cooper get some "cherry pie and a damn fine cup o' coffee". I'm not big on coffee or pie so I had a Cola float. Everybody else had cherry pie and apparently a pretty damn okay cup of coffee. I did try the cherry pie and it was pretty tasty. After filling our bellies even more we then drove up to the Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge, where even more of Twin Peaks was filmed. The falls are so beautiful and awe-inspiring. That photo up at the top are of the falls and Salish Lodge. It was getting dark and after staring at the scenery for a while we went inside the lodge for some wine and cognac. It was a perfect day in the strange, creepy Northwest.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Most important meal of the day.

Well, I'm sick again. Yes I know, I was cheated in the immune system department. All I have to do is look at someone with a cold and I'll catch it. Good thing I work in customer service and get to interact with the entire flu riddled population of Seattle this winter. Good times. So anyways, I'm done fishing for sympathy. I want to talk about breakfast. Most important meal of the day, or so I've heard. To tell you the truth, I rarely eat breakfast. Maybe there's a correlation between that and the fact that I get sick all the time. It's not that I don't like breakfast foods. I love eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, biscuits & gravy. While I really don't care for cereals, pancakes, or any of those early sweets I truly can't get enough of those savory morning treats (nice rhyme!). The problem for me, is that I'm seriously not a morning person. It takes me a couple of hours to get my head straight. At least I've quit my horrible Georgia tradition/addiction of drinking coke for breakfast. The hole in my stomach and the teeth in my mouth thank me for that.

So a few weeks ago I bought some venison sausage from Whole Foods and tossed the in my freezer. I had never had venison before so I was pretty excited to try them. Some people have a problem with eating the tasty meat because it invokes chilhood memories of when Bambi's mother get shot in the Disney classic. I don't seem to have that problem. I do however hate the idea of hunting for sport. If you're going to kill something, you better eat it. It doesn't happen that often but I recently woke up early enough on one of my days off that I was hungry around breakfast time (10am is still early isn't it?). The night before had I put the sausages in the fridge to thaw out. I sauteed them up in a tiny bit of olive oil and served them with some local organic fried eggs and english muffins with butter. To me, this is a perfect breakfast. Now if I could only get myself to eat breakfast more often perhaps I wouldn't have to spend so much money on cold medicine. It's just a theory.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Soup is good food.

I really do enjoy the holidays but man, I am glad things are back to normal (at least as normal as they get around here). Things have been kind of non-stop for the past month or so and I felt like I never had time to do the things I needed to do. But here we are again. Back to the grindstone. One of my New Years resolutions is that I get back to consistently posting delicious foody (or foodie, whatever) goodness. Twice a week or more is my goal.

So here we are in the early part of January. Here in Seattle that means lots of rain and wind and cold. There's nothing better than soups and stews (anyone that says stoups gets a smack in the face) on these kinds of days. I love a good hearty rib-sticking soup that fills you up and keeps you warm. Split pea soup with ham is one of my favorites. The other night I watched The Exorcist for the 1000th time and believe it or not, I got the hankering to make some after watching Linda Blair spew gallons of the stuff all over the place. Yes, I know I'm strange but there it is. I had a Berkshire ham bone in the freezer from the holidays and knew I had to make some soup with it.

Split Pea & Berkshire Ham Soup

Serves 8-10.

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
4 peeled carrots, diced (one diced carrot set aside)
3lbs cooked Berkshire bone-in ham, most of the meat cut off ,diced, and set aside. (see note)
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 cups dried green split peas
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
4 cups chicken stock
6 cups water

In a large, heavy pot over medium high heat melt the butter Add the onion, celery and carrots and sauté until they to soften (about 6-8 minutes). Add the ham bone, oregano, bay leaves. Stir and sauté 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock & water and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium low. Partially cover pot and simmer for 1 hour or until the peas and vegetables are tender
Remove the ham bone and pull off the remaining meat adding it to the rest of the diced ham. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or using an immersion blender. Return to pot. Return the diced ham to the soup. Add the last diced carrot and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the frozen peas and simmer 4 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Eat it hot. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers.

*(Note) Aside from the ham bone you are looking for about 2 cups of diced ham.