Thursday, December 30, 2010

Back on the coast, scallops beckon

Now that I'm back on the coast, all I want to do is eat some seafood, no matter what the cost. And seafood combined with the comfort of risotto ... well, talk about getting homey in the dead of winter.

So after returning from landlocked Idaho Falls, I whipped up a batch of Lemon Risotto (with about half a 10-oz. bag of fresh spinach that I added along with the lemon juice in the end) sprinkled with delicious, melt-in-your-mouth scallops.

Because the Lemon Risotto recipe called for both extra-virgin olive oil and butter, I also used both to sear the scallops. I only made about 10 oz. of scllops, so I used about half the amount that was called for in the recipe (about 1/2 T. each) and added a light sprinkling of salt. We didn't have any leftover scallops, but the leftover Risotto tasted fabulous the next morning for breakfast!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The tenderest Pork Loin on Christmas Day

What a great Christmas. Besides spending the week with my awesome inlaws, I also spent the week eating awesome food and trying my darnedest not to feel guilty that I wasn't doing any exercise to counteract all those calories.

Well, if I gained a few pounds, it was worth it.

On Christmas Eve, we feasted on a delicious ham, Funeral Potatoes (we were in Idaho Falls, after all) and plenty of trimmings including Seafoam Salad. Then we got spoiled all over again the next day with the above pictured Pork Loin that Greg woke up at 5 a.m. to make for us.

It was unbelievably tender for pork, and plenty flavorful despite its few ingredients.

Greg's Pork Loin
2 gallons water
2 c. plus 1 T. salt
3 t. coarsely ground pepper, divided
4 garlic cloves, divided
7-pound pork loin (with bones and tied with twine)
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Make a brine with the water, 2 c. salt, 2 t. coarsely ground pepper and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Place the pork loin in the brine, completely submerged, and refrigerate for 5 to 5-1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare a barbecue that's large enough to accommodate the entire pork loin. Create a rub with the olive oil, remaining 1 T. salt, 1 t. ground pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves. Discard the brine and pat the pork dry, then rub the olive oil mixture evenly over the pork.

Cook the pork on the barbecue until all sides are nicely browned, then place the pork in a roasting pan and cover with foil. Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers at 155 degrees. We had some trouble browning the meat because it was so darn cold in Idaho, so the timing here could vary, but altogether it will likely take 2-1/2 to 4 hours.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kalbi that almost cost me an extra $45

All this talk about Korean BBQ got me in a Korean BBQ mood, so decided to prepare Kalbi the easy way: Instead of making my own sauce, which Mom does, I just used a Korean-Style BBQ Sauce for Beef Ribs that I found at a Korean store in Mom's neighborhood.

Unfortunately, this cut of beef rib is a bit hard to find, and the store I bought them at this week, which will remain unnamed, is now on my *?#! list because they overcharged me $45. Yes, I got the money back when I by chance noticed the mistake, but think I deserved a little more than an apology, don't you? A gift card, perhaps? Even better, a free bottle of wine!

Would have tasted great with the ribs I marinated overnight, then simply pan-fried for about 2-3 minutes per side. Ideally, I would have grilled them, but brrrr! We'll leave winter grilling to the masters like Mom!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seattle street food finally goes fusion

Seattle is in the midst of a street food revolution that I am just loving, even though I haven't gotten to try much so far.

A small business area in my neighborhood that I've been covering for my other blog went from having sporadic visits from random food trucks earlier this year to now in the middle of winter featuring a schedule with a different vendor for lunch nearly every day of the week.

This week I finally made it down there to try one of their latest additions, Fusion on the Run, which I simply couldn't resist after reading so much about the Kogi BBQ truck that I was unable to track while in L.A. this summer. Now I'm not so sad I missed Kogi, which I think puts about a pound of cilantro on each taco. In comparison, Fusion on the Run offers a more Hawaiian take on their choices, which means I will be going back to try their creative and non-cilantroed taco options (coconut chicken curry, Kalua pig and Spam, oh my!), and also to get some more ideas for my own culinary creations.

How did I never think of this combination, called the Ono Sandwich? I'm always looking for an excuse to make Kalua Pig, but it just makes too big of a batch for Bryan and I to eat unless we're having a party. But if we put it on buns and eat it with coleslaw like BBQ Pork sandwiches, the two of us could easily devour all 6 pounds of pig!

Hey, don't judge.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Chicken favorite morphs into a pasta dish

One of the things I miss most about working at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is how it forced me to constantly try new recipes. Sure, I still browse recipes in the newspaper and other publications, but the chances of me making a recipe that I've sat staring at for hours are much higher. I got to know the recipes so well while editing them, I could almost taste them, which usually meant that it would be appearing on my table within the week.

That's not to say all the recipes were winners, but working there definitely added more girth to my myriad recipe books. Among the winners, however, is Chicken Paillards with Cremini Mushroom Sauce, which I've been making a little too often lately because I don't have a lot of other recipes that use leeks, and I've been getting a lot of them from the farm.

So this time I decided to mix things up a bit. I was struggling to decide what kind of starch to make with the chicken. I usually make my Rice Pilaf, but that just sounded so boring. Instead, I turned the recipe into a pasta dish that I've actually been mulling in my head for a couple of weeks:

Pasta with Chicken, Mushroom and Leeks
2 chicken breasts, cut in strips
1/2 t. kosher salt, divided
1/4 t. garlic salt
4 slices bacon, chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 leek, sliced thin
2 c. penne pasta
3/4 c. chicken broth, divided
1/4 c. sour cream
2 t. cornstarch
Mix chicken with 1/4 t. kosher salt and garlic salt and let marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Heat a large nonstick skillet to medium high and cook bacon. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels; drain all but 1 T. of the bacon. Saute chicken in the bacon grease until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add mushrooms and leek to the skillet with remaining 1/4 t. salt and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 c. chicken broth and sour cream and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, mix remaining 1/4 c. chicken broth with cornstarch and stir until thoroughly mixed, then add to simmering sauce; stir until thickened. Add bacon and chicken to sauce to heat through.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Add cooked pasta to sauce and serve.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This Festivus was for all of us

Check out the spread at Stephen's "Festivus" party last night.

My favorite detail was the cocktail menu, which included drinks named after the "Seinfeld" episode the party was named after, including "Feats of Strength" (equal parts tequila and cranberry juice with lime); "K. Cosmo" (2 parts vodka, 1 part Triple Sec, 1 part lime juice and 1-2 parts cranberry juice); and "Airing of Grievance" (2 parts gin and 1 part sweet vermouth). That's some clever stuff!

Thanks for bartending all night Derek!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mom's "secret" dumpling recipe: Bisquick

In the midst of yesterday's deary rain, I stopped by Mom's for a quick visit and she made a corresponding meal of stew with dumplings. I was excited to finally get the recipe for her dumplings, which I've loved ever since I was a child. Well, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I imagined. She uses Bisquick. Mixed with water. How easy is that?
I gotta say, I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't some secret trick to their fluffy goodness, but it's so nice that every once in a while, getting a recipe from Mom isn't like pulling teeth.
Unfortunately, the stew recipe wasn't quite as easy to get out of her, but I'm sure her dumplings would taste marvelous with this Chicken Soup (but maybe leave out the rice!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bleu cheese salad for bleu cheese haters

Check out this gorgeous salad I brought over to Leslie's last night that was a hit even among fellow bleu cheese haters. I try to like bleu cheese, and I even like Gorgonzola, but there's something about the bleu that's just too much. However, in this salad, it's absolutely delicious.

I don't remember where I got this recipe, but I found it online here from Williams-Sonoma. Naturally, mine is a little different (as in easier). I add only one rather than four pears, and don't necessarily insist on using just spinach as the salad. Last night I used a lovely mix of salad greens that worked equally as well:

Pear, Walnut and Bleu Cheese Salad
1/4 cup sour cream
2 T. mayonnaise
2 T. walnut oil (or canola)
2 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot-pepper sauce
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 ounces baby spinach
1-2 pears, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted
2 ounces crumbled bleu cheese

Whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, oil, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot-pepper sauce and black pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Toss the salad with the dressing, then top with the pears, walnuts and bleu cheese.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If you haven't tried sunchokes, do it!

OK, seriously, who out there has ever eaten sunchokes? I'd barely even heard of them when they arrived on my doorstep from Full Circle Farm this week, but I was excited to give them a try. The description that comes with each box explained that they're also called Jerusalum artichokes, and as far as I'm concerned, you just can't go wrong with anything that has the word artichoke in it.

But since I had no idea how to prepare these sunchokes, I simply followed the recipe the farm also had sent. (Here's the PDF; it's the recipe on the top left.) I double-checked the instructions to simply scrub them, since they look kind of like a cross between ginger and yams, both of which I normally peel. But yes, the skin stays on, at least for this recipe.

Apparently, you can also mash sunchokes and use them in soups, but I will definitely be making this recipe again. Potato Au Gratin is always a winner in our house, and this one has the added benefit of tasting like it has cheesy artichoke dip mixed in. You gotta try it!

Here's how I made it:

Sunchoke and Potato Au Gratin
1 T. butter
3/4 lb. sunchokes, scrubbed and sliced in 1/4-inch slices
1-1/2 lb. potatoes, sliced in 1/4-inch slices
1/4 c. olive oil, divided
2 t. kosher salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
1 shallot, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. grated cheddar cheese
1 T. flour
1 c. milk
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 T. dried parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a casserole dish with the butter.
Toss the sunchokes and potatoes with 2 T. olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne. Place half of the mixture in the dish, layering evenly. Mix the shallots and garlic in a small bowl, then sprinkle half the mixture over the sunchokes/potatoes and top it with half of the cheddar cheese. Top with remaining sunchoke/potato mixture, then the shallots and garlic, and sprinkle the flour on top. Add remaining cheddar cheese, then pour the milk over the casserole.
In a bowl, mix the panko with remaining 2 T. olive oil, parsley and Parmesan cheese, then spread evenly over the casserole. Bake for 1 hour, or until fork tender.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chile Verde passes the tender test

Before I got started on this recipe for Green Chile Pork Stew (Chile Verde), I had about as much trepidation as anticipation for the very first step of it, which, essentially, is to boil the meat in 1/3 c. water. Even Bryan passed by while the once-tender chunks of pork butt were boiling away and sarcastically said, "Mmm ... boiled meat."

But at the same time, I so was looking forward to not coating the chunks in flour, then browning them individually in oil, which 1) is time consuming, 2) is messy and gets oil splattered everywhere, including on me, and 3) does meat really need fat added to it?

However, considering that the meat had another hour and 15 minutes to simmer in acidic tomatoes, I was hopeful the pork would again end up tender, juicy and flavorful. I was not disappointed. Aside from running up the stairs a few times to stir the pot, this dish was fairly hands off, especially since I used canned chiles instead of roasing them myself (which is so not worth the work!).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mexican Pulled Pork for breakfast!

I was trying to think of an appetizing way to style this Mexican Pulled Pork, but because I failed to make the cole slaw that usually accompanies this dish or add any other garnishes, this is what you get.

No, it's not pretty, and you know what, it didn't taste as good, either. So this morning, I decided to spruce up the pulled pork a bit: I heated some between two corn tortillas in my cast-iron skillet, slathered it with sour cream and Tapatio, then threw a fried egg on top.

Who needs cole slaw?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Un-Americanized version of Chicken Divine

Does this look familiar? Picture it on a bed of fluffy jasmine rice, covered with cheese and ... no, I guess it really doesn't look like my beloved Chicken Divine recipe. And according to Bryan, it doesn't taste very similar either, even though it has the same two main ingredients: broccoli and chicken.

Well, I suppose it's possible leaving out the condensed cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise and cheddar cheese did de-Americanize it a bit, but since I added a can of coconut milk in its place, was it much healthier? (Um, yes, actually I think it was.)

Anyway, what it all comes down to was that I really wanted to make Chicken Divine but was lacking a few of the more "American" ingredients, so I had to Asianize it a bit. Here goes:

Coconut Chicken Divine
2 chicken breasts, cut in chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1 T. canola oil
1 large stalk broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
1 can coconut milk
1-2 T. curry
1/2 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 T. lemon juice

Cut chicken in chunks, then massage with garlic and salt, and let marinate for about 2 hours in the fridge.

Heat oil in skillet to medium high. Add chicken to skillet and cook until no longer pink on the outside, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan, then add broccoli to pan and stir-fry until color brightens, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to pan, then add coconut milk, curry and red pepper flakes, if using, as well as more salt to taste, then simmer until chicken is done, about 15 minutes.

Add lemon juice, then serve over rice.