Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why we never go out to breakfast anymore

Recently Bryan and I noticed that we haven't been to our favorite breakfast spot, Kona Kitchen, in ages. This morning, I figured out why.

It's just so easy, and delicious, to stay home and eat breakfast. Especially when I concoct meals at the gym, like this one!

Mai Ling's Kitchen Sink Skillet
1 medium eggplant
1-1/2 t. salt, divided
1 lb. fingerling potatoes
1 T. olive oil
8 slices bacon
2 c. arugula
4 eggs

Heat 9-by-13-inch glass pan in the oven at 400 degrees while you prepare eggplant and potatoes.

Cut eggplant into 1-inch chunks and place in a colander. Sprinkle with about 1/2 t. salt and let sit in the sink. Cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks and toss with about 1 t. salt and 1 T. olive oil. Blot eggplant with a paper towel and add to the potatoes.

Place potato-eggplant mixture in the oven in a single layer and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cut bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and cook in a large frying pan until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with paper towels. Meanwhile, cook the four eggs in the bacon grease.

When potatoes and eggplant are done, stir in bacon and arugula. Serve topped with eggs.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

P.F. Mai Ling's Lettuce Wraps!

Why would I ever need to go to P.F. Chang's again? Already I have (kind of) mastered their Spicy Eggplant with Chicken dish that I LOVE. Now I can make their lettuce wraps, too!

I had a heyday with this month's edition of Bon Appetit, and Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken was the first recipe I just had to try out. Well, it was sort of a half-try, since I used a rotisserie chicken instead of making the chicken myself, but cutting all that chicken up into tiny pieces takes a long time, so why the heck not?

I got the butter lettuce at Costco: It's "living" lettuce. Isn't that crazy? I wonder how long it's going to "live" in my fridge, since I still have another whole head left!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

An anniversary of debauchery

Four years ago, Bryan and I were celebrating our wedding/honeymoon on the beach in sunny Kauai. This year we embraced the opposite extreme on our anniversary by hiking through the snow at Mount Rainier.

But first, we celebrated with a Happy Hour at our home for the weekend, Coho Cabin, that featured triple-cream brie, crusty bread, chile-fennel almonds from Bastyr, strawberries from Full Circle and Cupcake red wine, all topped with an unbeatable Salted Caramel and Pear Jam we got as a wedding favor at Tonya and Seth's wedding.

It was a delicious treat we seriously didn't need after lunch at the Copper Creek Inn. But as soon as we realized how delicious that homemade jam tasted with brie on a slab of bread, there was no turning back.

Somehow, we even found room for a steak dinner. The baked potatoes with sour cream, butter and green onions were a must, but the fava beans I just had to try because I'd never tasted them.

It certainly didn't hurt that the fava beans (made famous by Hannibal Lector) were paired with always delectable pancetta:

Fava Beans with Pancetta
1 lb. fava beans
2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. onion, minced
2 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced
1/4 to 1 c. water

Boil the fava beans for about 2 minutes, rinse under cool water, then extract the beans.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add pancetta and continue stirring until pancetta begins to crisp, about 4-5 minutes. Add fava beans and 1/4 c. water, then cover.

The fava beans should take between 8 and 15 minutes to cook; check for tenderness after 8 minutes and stir occasionally. Add water if needed, but make sure most of the water is evaporated before serving.

But that wasn't the last of our debauchery. After a hike on Rampart Ridge Loop that was so snowy we had to turn around well after the halfway point because we could no longer follow the trail, we went back to the cabin for a dip in the hot tub. As we sat in the glorious warmth, cold rain started to fall, which is about as good as it gets for this Pacific Northwesterner.

And after Round 2 of Happy Hour, we still managed to find more room in our bellies for the above meal: Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Cheese Crisps (Cheese Crisps not shown out of embarrassment) with ham and a spinach salad with strawberries, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.

Not even a sunny beach could have topped this anniversary!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Deformed Maple-Chipotle Salmon still tasty

I realize I'm having way too much fun putting together the Bastyr News e-newsletter, but it seems important that I try out all of the recipes I'm publishing (such as this Carrot Ginger Soup).

Now my version of the Maple-Chipotle Glazed Salmon looked nothing like the beautiful dish that was served at our cafeteria (check out Derek Sheppard's mouth-watering photo), but it was still quite tasty. I should mention that I failed to follow the directions exactly, and I think that was where my recipe went awry. When it says "skin removed," it means skin removed. I couldn't get mine off — didn't try that hard if you want the truth — and as soon as I flipped the salmon over onto the skin side, the middle curled up. Yes, my salmon turned out deformed, but because the sauce is what makes this dish, it was still delicious.

I served the salmon with sauteed red chard and roasted fingerling potatoes, my new favorite potato dish, which I cooked for about 25 minutes at 400 with 1 T. olive oil and 2 t. kosher salt (thanks Martha Stewart!). Make sure to let them get nice and crusty!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo is not a holiday I normally celebrate. But I made an exception tonight when a new local restaurant, COA Mexican Eatery & Tequileria, opened up its doors a couple of weeks early to let its patrons-to-be sample its fare in a dinner-tequila pairing.

This is what we saw when we first sat down at our table.

But we weren't actually allowed to touch it until we were taught what we were drinking and how to drink it from Experience Tequila. Each flute of tasty tequila was paired with one of three courses, including a final drink to top it all off. The main course? Chicken Mole:

Just like the owner's grandmother's. Think I can get the recipe out of him?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Turkish Chicken with Mom's (not) Broccoletti

When I was preparing the marinade for these Turkish Chicken Thighs at 6 o'clock this morning (it's early to me, alright?), I was trying to decide what sides would go with the dish. Couscous was a natural choice, but the vegetable I wasn't so sure about.

So I took the safe route, and simply decided to make what was in the fridge and needed to be eaten. Tonight, it was a bunch of broccoletti, and I put absolutely zero thought into how I was going to prepare it. Turns out I made it Mom style ... kind of.

Moms' (not) Broccoletti
1 T. canola oil
1/4 t. garlic salt
1 bunch broccoletti (or broccoli, just make sure you peel the stalk), cut into bite-size pieces
1 oz. white wine (Mom uses "salted" wine, but I use Chardonnay because it's ALWAYS in my fridge)
2 T. oyster sauce

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat skillet, then add garlic salt and broccoletti. Saute for about 5 minutes, until slightly wilted but still firm, then add wine and continue sauteing until liquid is mostly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in oyster sauce and serve.

(So what would Mom have done differently? She would have used high heat and, naturally, less time, chunks of garlic as opposed to garlic salt, and she would have made a sauce out of her homemade chicken broth and cornstarch added at the end with the oyster sauce. I know, I know, I ruined it. But the way I made it is so much dang easier! It's a vicious cycle of laziness!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Polenta takes on a Cinco de Mayo spin

One of the reasons I read when I go to the gym is so that I don't get sucked into the cooking shows that are always tempting me. But sometimes, a book just isn't enough to keep my eyes off the screen.

And this time I'm glad. I'm pretty sure I was watching Sandra Lee's "Semi-Homemade Cooking," which didn't suck me in at first because I never trust a skinny cook. But she piqued my curiosity when started frying up polenta, and when she added the black beans, I was sold.

Unfortunately, I can't find that specific recipe, but since I didn't really follow it anyway, I'll just share with you what I made.

Polenta with Black Beans and Salsa
2-4 T. canola oil
1 tube polenta
1 can black beans
1/2 c. salsa
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. Tapatio or other hot sauce
1 T. lime juice

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Cut polenta into 1/2-inch slices. Coat the bottom of the skillet with oil, then add the polenta. Let cook until crispy, about 5 minutes, then turn and cook until the other side is crispy, about another 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and blot off oil.

While polenta is cooking, drain and rinse black beans and place in a bowl. Add salsa, and mash together until still chunky. Heat on stovetop or in microwave until warm.

Meanwhile, mix together sour cream, hot sauce and lime juice in a small bowl.

To assemble, place three pieces of polenta on a plate, then top with black beans and sour cream mixture.

Sandra Lee topped it all with iceburg lettuce, but iceburg lettuce bores me, so I used Broccoli Cole Slaw instead. Eh, maybe it wasn't the best combination, but it's what was in the fridge and it worked for us!