Monday, October 18, 2010

Some odds and ends

Is it really October already? Here are some odds and ends

Had a trip up the coast for our anniversary, cooked some Alaska salmon, had some fantastic wine, and took a drive up the 1 to Monterey.

Finally got around to making Chinese soy sauce chicken, including an adventure to the 99 Ranch Market soy sauce aisle. Bonus, tiny bok choy for $.99 a bag!

Birthday dinner was a great big veal chop and some heirloom tomatoes -- YUM!

Crazy around here, watching what we eat and drink, doing Wii Fit, baseball, baseball, baseball... are the holidays really almost here?!?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Life giving you lemons?

Add vodka.... and wait....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I am a terrible food blogger

I am such a bad blogger...

1 - I get into a rut where I make the same things over and over ... or go to Juan Pollo around the corner

2 - We go to the coast, eat fresh fish and/or steak, and really who wants to hear about our adventures at the beach?

3 - When I do cook something new -- this week a "quick chicken masala" from Food & Wine that I adapted to be even quicker -- I forget to take a single photo (but I served pale chicken and onions, along with white rice, on a white plate....)

Well... for #3, here's the recipe:

  • Take 1 8oz package of Greek yogurt, mix with 2 Tbs olive oil, a clove of garlic (minced) and 2 tsp of garam masala (I might suggest using a bit more), along with a tsp or so of salt. Mix up in a baking dish, then add a package of boneless/skinless chicken thighs, and marinate overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 400, slice a large onion up in 1/4 inch slices, lay the chicken out on the slices, cook for about 50 minutes in the top 3rd of the oven, until the chicken is done.
  • Meanwhile, I tossed some baby carrots with olive oil, salt & cumin seeds, then roasted them on the other rack in the oven for about 30 mins, tossing every few minutes.
  • Serve with basmati rice & chilled Harmony Riesling.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Text only


I've actually cooked twice this weekend, new things from cookbooks since this is the time of year that I put away the braising type books and get out the lighter cooking.

Yesterday was a classic from Marcella Hazan, a pasta in sausage cream sauce. It's a lot like Mario Batali's "sausage and weeds" (in fact I use the same pasta), but no tomato paste. I really liked it, it had a nice mild flavor but was still creamy and coated the pasta well.

Today, we went around the world to Rick Bayless from Mexican Everyday. I hit the Smart & Final "Extra" down the street for some tomatillos, a chile, tortillas, and some cotija cheese. I made the spinach & mushroom enchiladas with tomatillo cream sauce. I left out the optional chicken, but followed the recipe pretty closely. I do have this comment ... the recipe calls for queso fresco, but lists feta as an alternate. Queso fresco here is more like mozzarella in texture, so I bought cotija. Maybe it's a regional difference? Who knows. I used sour cream too, I find the Mexican crema a bit too runny for my taste.

Why no pictures? Well, the pasta wasn't really all that photogenic, a pale sauce on pale pasta. The enchiladas really needed to be put together, served & eaten really quickly. And, I was running late, or I would have added some artistic photos of tomatillos half husked or something using depth of field. Besides, surely someone else has made those enchiladas so there is probably a great photo out there in the interwebs somewhere.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's Friday!

As an homage to Thursday Night Smackdown's "Awesome Shit that I Want Monday"... I present the following....

Don't you need a pendant that looks like okonomiyaki?? I do... or rings that look like other Japanese foodstuffs. Check it out on Etsy

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Local Bounty

A quiet weekend in Los Osos was well deserved after the 25 lbs of pork shoulder sold at the baseball tournament last weekend!
We rested, we ate Mo's BBQ for lunch, steaks & local bay scallops for dinner, and homemade chorizo & egg burritos for breakfast.

As we were packing up, one of the Forever Stoked guys that live next door brought these beauties, wild chanterelle mushrooms from their secret spot somewhere in the hills:

Yes, they are that big, here's one next to my chef's knife (not a paring knife) for scale:

Simply sauteed with butter, shallots, and a bit of thyme & seasoning, splashed with vermouth & cream:

Tossed with papardalle, they were just about perfect with a Loring Wine Company Pinot (08 Rancho Ontiveros to be exact).

Spectacular. Makes California worth it... mostly.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Back to the Kitchen...

A week with the creeping crud head cold, our house saw a lot of soup. Monday and Tuesday were soup, and Wednesday was pasta (sausage and "weeds" from Mario Batali) which is a big favorite. Thursday I was just way too beat, so it was pizza.

Friday I made it through the afternoon without cold medicine and without using a box of tissue, so we celebrated with something new from Pepin's More Fast Food My Way, crispy chicken thighs and mushroom sauce.

The thighs are cooked skin down with a tight lid in no fat until the skin is nice and crispy, these could have gone a few more minutes. Then some onion, garlic & mushrooms are sauteed in the chicken fat (drain all but about 2 tablespoons), with a bit of wine (vermouth in this case) until reduced to a nice sauce. With a nice salad, made a perfect Friday night dinner. The evening was rounded out with some popcorn and The Great Muppet Caper - love Charles Grodin's socks!

Saturday was errand day, with grocery store visits in between torrential downpours (its an El Nino, confirmed officially today). I had promised the Rabbit for a while that we would see the Percy Jackson movie, capped off by Bob's Big Boy (ok patty melt actually, though the meat was kind of dry).

Today, the sun came out, and I felt like spending some time in the kitchen. I made breakfast (eggs and chicken sausage), then put together some no-knead bread, and baked it.

During the USA/Canada overtime, I tried this quick "ricotta" cheese from Serious Eats.
Note my sophisticated cheese making equipment - Pyrex, colander, paper towels.

It actually turned out pretty good, with a drizzle of nice olive oil, a bit of salt, pepper & thyme. We had a little post-game snack.

Now, I have a pot roast going in the oven. Life is good.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pressure.. part 2

So that chicken curry?
Eh... it was ok. Not very flavorful. The good part is, it was fast. It just didn't come together quite like I hoped. It didn't even look that good, hence no photo.

Please, pressure cooker... prove me wrong! Show me that I didn't waste $45 (hooray for an excellent coupon). I know I can do my mom's famous lima beans with a smoked ham hock, but the question is... will Andrew's white bean allergy translate to lima beans?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Under Pressure

I finally replaced the scary jiggly-top Presto cooker that I inherited from my mother in law. While it cooked serviceable lamb shanks on more than one occasion, it spit and bubbled, always making me a bit nervous that I'd be cleaning lamb bits out of the can lights in the kitchen. I joined the 21st century and picked up the Fagor, it has lots of pressure release safety valves, which makes me feel better.

First up was a pork stew with tomatillos. It's been a while, so I can't remember where it came from. While not as yummy as the stew from Suzanne Goin's Lucques book that I have made before, it was really good. And, best part ... really really fast!

Speaking of fast, I still love the Jacques Pepin "Fast Food My Way" series, and he has a really nice, easy chicken bouillabaise that comes together with simple pantry ingredients, and even a rouille to swirl in. Perfect for a cool evening after a baseball game. The kielbasa I used wasn't the greatest (sorry Farmer John, stick to hot dogs, ham & bacon...), but this dish always gets raves around here.

I have grand plans for a chicken curry later this week from Lorna Sass' book Cooking Under Pressure. Can't wait!! Of course, it's been about 80 degrees this weekend. Wait, isn't it still winter??

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind, so lots of repeats, soups, and cheap eats. There were 4 briskets smoked in the cookshack for various events... tired of brisket!
I did Eggs in Purgatory again(but did not photograph) and came up with the best method - 8oz can of plain tomato sauce, 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes w/basil & garlic, plus seasonings to taste (oregano, crushed red pepper, s&p)... simmer a bit, poach eggs in sauce, serve over toasted sourdough with some arugula & olive oil on the bread before putting on the sauce & egss. GREAT and CHEAP! Hooray!

Coming attractions: more with the pressure cooker; some Ethiopian derived recipes from a friend; CORNED BEEF from scratch .. turned into Pastrami by the CookShack....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Curry for a cold night

Well, it really wasn't THAT cold, but last weekend I made this curry from Jamie Oliver with a funny name, Jalfrezi. I can't find the location of the original recipe, but here is a link to it. The recipe I found had a curry paste method as well, or you could use store bought (which I did).
One thing about this recipe, it makes a LOT of curry. Enough for us to have 2 meals, with seconds. It has a lot of ingredients, and I was a little suspicious of the cauliflower (which I love). It was really delicious, with just the right amount of heat. I didn't have any fresh chillis so I used a couple dried anchos.

Then, this fail-fest - a "shepherds pie". It tasted ok, but really not spectacular. I'll leave the cottage pie cookery to The Olde Ship.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's 2009

We were a smaller group than usual this year, but that's ok - we still had a fabulous night of good friends, good food & good wine!

We started off with a wonderful rose, Montaudon, to go with gougeres that I made with some English cheddar, and stuffed with some truffle pate whipped into some cream cheese (in my new 4 cup Cuisinart).
We also had some home smoked trout by Andrew, that was brined in a maple syrup based brine (but perhaps left in a bit too long, as it was a tad salty), smoked with apple wood in the Cookshack. We served that on granny smith apples with a dab of horseradish cream.
Our friend Andy made a sweet corn chowder, with red pepper & crab that was outstanding. It was really thick and wonderful, like maque choux and butter made into a soup. I hope he wrote that one down (I know he probably didn't)! That went perfectly with a 2006 Turley White Coat that we picked up a while back in the Paso Robles tasting room.

I made olive crusted rack of lamb, from this recipe on Epicurious, which came together like a breeze -- I made the topping earlier in the day,
then just had to sear off the racks, paint them with a bit of dijon, and press on the crust.

It was cooked perfectly if I say so myself (though the crust didn't want to stick), and went well with a parsnip potato mash with olive oil (no cream), and just a simple wine sauce made with veal stock reduced and red wine/shallots/rosemary reduced.
Next time I'll thicken the sauce a bit more, but the flavor was definitely right. We had a magnum of 2003 Vieux Telegraph La Crau to go with the lamb, and finished up (after a little walk and Travis Pastrana jumping the rally car on TV) the wine with some Beecher's Flagship cheese and some smoked almonds - home smoked again -- one with bbq rub (top secret) and one with hot sauce (Red Rooster) and brown sugar. The hot ones were addictive. Somehow I had no photos of the almonds... and they are all gone. He will be making more of the hot ones for sure!

For dessert, our friend Kate made a winter fruit ravioli in phyllo pastry, with some sauce that was to die for - reduced berries & wine.
I need to make sure to get some ice cream to use up the leftovers! We had a Konzelmann Vidal Ice Wine with this.

Then we talked, laughed, cleaned up, and mocked Ryan Seacrest before popping the cork on a Dom Ruinart Brut & watching some illegal fireworks in the night sky.
All in all, another very nice evening in a great tradition.