Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sovereign States

The Definition:
A sovereign state is a political association with effective internal and external sovereignty over a geographic area and population which is not dependent on, or subject to, the power of any other power of state. While in abstract terms a sovereign state can exist without being recognised by other sovereign states, unrecognised states will often find it difficult to exercise full treaty-making powers and engage in diplomatic relations with other sovereign states.

The Set-Up:
This past week, Seattle was hit with a record breaking heat-wave. It was so hot that the only thing that could be done to keep myself from breaking into a restaurant and crawling into the walk-in freezer to was sit in front of a fan with my feet in a bowl of ice water. While I was sitting there contemplating my demise I thought about a lot of things. How much do I really know about the world? How much do I really know about food? What do the people of Angola eat? What about The Ivory Coast? What do they have for dinner? I came to the conclusion that although I feel pretty knowledgeable about a good number of different culture's cuisines there was so much more to learn. Something must be done to continue my culinary education.

The Plan:
With a loose timeline I plan on researching, planning, cooking, and blogging about a meal that tries to best represent each one of the 203 sovereign states (some debated but all recognized buy other sovereign nations, just perhaps not by the United States). Sure, it may take me 5 or 6 years but that just gives me more to look forward to. I'll be starting in alphabetical order. Next week my new obsession begins with Afghanistan.

The List:
The ever changing list of Sovereign States

Monday, July 27, 2009

time for a picnic

This week has been so hot that the idea of cooking anything makes my skin crawl. In fact, we are the only things cooking around here. My poor kitty Clara looks like she's given up and I'm sure if she had a little noose she would end it. But we don't keep those kinds of things in the house because of times like these. We decided to pack up lunch and take it to the streets. Well, more like the park. Okay, I guess I did cook the eggs for the deviled eggs, but that was a necessity, you just can't have a picnic without deviled eggs. I think it might be a law or something. For our picnic I made sandwiches on lovely rustic rolls with fresh made farmers cheese from Samish Bay Cheese, organic black krin heirloom tomatoes, a little flake salt and cracked black pepper, and a lil bit of Dijon mustard to bring it all together. I also made the requisite deviled eggs with horseradish and a dusting of pimenton picante. We also brought a few mini apricots just in case. No stiffling walls to smother us, just the beautiful green grass and the sounds of a bearded bride in her wedding gown riding a scooter. I'm not joking about that either. A small terrible bunch of filmmakers were making a movie about a super hairy bride falling off her scooter, right in the middle of our picnic. I do not want to see that movie. But I wasn't going to let them ruin my picnic. That or the murder of crows that were circling us like we were fresh rotted corpses or a trash can filled with BK wrappers. When all was said and done, we had a nice time eating outside. Now can we get back to normal freaking temperatures around here please so I can go back inside?

Deviled eggs with Horseradish and Pimenton Picante
6 eggs
1 tbsp mayo
1/2 tspn dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tbsp picked onion, minced (cocktail onions is my secret weapon)
a dash or two of hot sauce (Tapatio!!)
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

pimenton picante for dusting

Put the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to a boil and then turn off the heat, moving the pan off the burner. Wait 9 minutes and run cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking. Carefully remove the shells. Cut the eggs in half and remove the yolks. Set the whites aside and mix the yolks with all of the other ingredients (except for the pimenton) until nicely combined. Using a piping bag (I use a ziploc bag- just fill the bag, snip off the bottom corner with scissors and pipe away) and fill the egg white cups with the devil's mixture. Dust the tops of the deviled eggs with pimenton picante. Now you too can be the star of the party!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

BAMN!

New York gets all the good stuff. Holy hell this place sounds amazing. I love the idea of a gourmet automat. Mac and cheese croquettes, oh yeah. Rye corn dogs, fancy chicken nuggets, lil' bacon cheeseburgers. They are accepting applications for franchises. Somebody with cash needs to open one of these beauties near here right now. I'm all for the the slow food movement, but Bamn! makes me want delicious things in my mouth stat! Oh and by the way, I really hope the name is a tongue in cheek reference to Emeril. After watching the episode last week where Elmo guest starred I just about drilled holes in my brain just to get the image out. But I'll even endure a triple Emeril bamn and even a Rachel Ray "sammy or stoup" for some mac n' cheese croquettes now!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pozole Verde de Pollo is the winner!

There's an argument going on around here. What's the better hangover soup? Pozole or menudo (you also have your pho champions but I won't even acknowledge those philistines). In my book, it's pozole all the way. You have your delicious pork or chicken base (I made pozole verde de pollo). You have the delicious hominy kernels (corn soaked in lye - if that doesn't sound delicious to you, nothing will), meat, and vegetables. You also have all of your delicious garnishes that make up the bulk of the soup. I like to put jalapenos, radishes, avocado, and cilantro in my pozole. In fact, I wish I had a big bowl of my delicious pozole right now to get rid of this horrible hangover I've been cursed with. So sure, menudo is great but do you really want to eat a bowl of tripe named after a horrible 80's boy band for breakfast? Okay, so maybe the soup had the name first but I'm not going to argue semantics. All I know is that pozole is delicious and nutritious and is clearly the winner in the hangover cure debate. I rest my case. Oh, and by the way, pho is actually quite delicious when it's not made with dish water but we'll talk more about that later.

Pozole Verde de Pollo

9 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 large white onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs (you can use breast if you want / less flavor though)
1 lb tomatillos, husked
2 fresh jalapeño chiles, quartered
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 (15-oz) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained

Garnishes: sliced radish, sliced avocado, sliced jalapeno, cilantro, etc...


Bring 8 cups water, bay leaf, half of onion, half of garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil, covered, in a large heavy pot, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add chicken and poach at a simmer, uncovered, skimming off any foam, until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board to cool. Strain the broth and discard the solids. When the chicken cools shred it with a fork.

Simmer tomatillos and remaining onion in remaining cup water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain vegetables and purée in a blender with jalapeños, 1/4 cup cilantro, oregano, remaining garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Heat oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add purée. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth and meat and simmer 40 minutes

Serve in large bowls with garnishes. Watch your hangover disappear before your eyes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

yummy weeds

You probably have them growing in your yard. Or your neighbors yard. Sure they might have car exhaust and cat pee on them but all I'm saying is that dandelion greens are incredibly easy to forage. I'm not suggesting that you eat the ones in your driveway but if you go somewhere a little less gross you can get some delicious peppery greens for free from your own neighborhood. I cheated and purchased these from the Cap Hill farmers market but I also like the idea of finding your food. There is something primal and satisfying about coming across things in nature that you can just pick up and eat. That being said, some people don't like to eat dandelion greens raw because they can be a bit bitter (especially the stems). I however enjoy the spicy bitterness of the stems and I love the greens raw. I made a simple salad of dandelion greens, a drizzle of a good Spanish EV olive oil, some 25 year old aged balsamic vinegar, a little sliced spring onion, fresh cracked black pepper, Murray River flake salt, shaved parmigiano-reggiano, and topped off with a fried organic chicken egg. It feels nice to take something that most people spend many an afternoon weeding out of their yards and turn it into a beautiful meal.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

break a few eggs

Sometimes I dream about having my own little tapas restaurant where I would make a Spanish tortilla (omelet) of the day, some bacalitos (little sandwiches), and serve up a variety of local cheeses, peppers, and olives. That sounds perfect to me. However, until this happens I'll just have to make my tortillas at home. This time I made a Skagit River Ranch bacon and piquio pepper tortilla with a little pimenton sour cream. Yum.