Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Making scones is a weekend tradition for us. I’m a big fan of the British scone. Cooks Illustrated has the nerve to say this:

The British original is lean, dry, and barely sweetened. Spoonfuls of jam and clotted cream are a must.

Bollocks! I know I’ve mentioned before how Cooks Illustrated recipes annoy me with their ridiculous obsessive compulsive details. Here they ask us to freeze the butter then grate it. Screw that!

And the Cooks Illustrated recipe has blueberries. Blueberries (insert shocked reaction). What is it with Americans and their fear of raisins? I know so many people who don’t like raisins. Or if they do they only like them alone but not cooked in stuff. I remember being a kid in kindergarten and having little boxes of Sun Maid raisins as a treat. When did everyone develop a complex about raisins?

We pulled out Jake’s British Good Housekeeping cookbook and here is my slight modification to the recipe.

1. First we make our own cultured butter. The culture is added to some heavy whipping cream (double cream) then sits in a dark cabinet for a few days. We then take a sample to freeze and shake the jar until butter forms. Afterwards you get cultured buttermilk and cultured butter. Making your own butter is obviously not part of either recipe but this is part of our weekend tradition.

2. Thank god for my John Lewis scale. It weighs grams and ounces and the top part doubles as a liquid measurer with millilitres. So I put 225 grams of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl and mix it up. I’m adding a half teaspoon of baking powder than in the British recipe because they use self-raising flour. And the two tablespoons of sugar is my addition too. I do light a slightly sweeter scone.

3. I cut in 40 grams of my newly made cultured butter with a pastry blender. Then I add about a 1/2 to 3/4 cups of raisins to that.

Next is 150ml plus of the newly created cultured buttermilk even though the British recipe asks for just plain milk. Stir it into the flour mixture until it starts to pull together. Add more buttermilk if needed.

4. Here’s where Cooks Illustrated has me. I drop the scones onto a baking sheet into amorphous blobs. I just don’t care enough to roll them into pretty uniform circles. And another American touch is to top them with a little sprinkle of raw sugar.

Finally bake at 425 degrees(220 C) for 12-15 minutes.

5. Cut open and eat with the newly made butter, which ahem, Cooks Illustrated, is the whole point. And cultured butter is the best. Yum.

Read Full Post »


Read Full Post »

Not only are roasted chestnuts perfect for the holiday season, but you’ll get a lot of accolades for bringing them to your holiday party despite the fact that they are easier than pie to make.

Cut a an X in each chestnut. Roast in the oven at 425 degrees F for a half of an hour. Pile them up in foil and take immediately to the party. If you’ve invited me over this season to a party, you may find that I’ll be bringing these. More info here.

Read Full Post »

Smoked Turkey Day

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we decided to smoke our turkey instead of bake it for our Thanksgiving feast. I was responsible for preparing the turkey which included injecting it with a butter marinade and brushing it with butter. It was by far the easiest preparation I’ve ever had for a turkey. Jake took everything from there and tended the BBQ adding wood chips and coals every so often as well as checking the temperature.

What did I learn about smoking a turkey? Surprisingly the flavor only had a hint of smoke. You could taste it on the skin and in the dark meat, but other than that it is pretty comparable to a baked turkey. For this reason I think next year I’ll prepare it with a similar recipe to what I do when baking which means massaging butter underneath the skin, adding herbs to the cavity etc.

My favorite part about smoking the turkey rather than baking it is that I was able to use all three shelves in my oven. With the root vegetables, the two stuffings, and the veggie casserole, there was actually no room to spare. I can’t imagine what I would have done with a turkey in there too. The roasting pans for turkeys are ridiculously large and they pretty much take up your whole oven. I think smoking the turkey is definitely the way to go if you only have one oven.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Read Full Post »

I can’t remember the last time that I truly experienced fabulous journalism in The Seattle Times, but here it is. Rebekah Denn details the story of a local energy bar maker who finds how difficult it is to control his product in, to borrow Denn’s vernacular, the industrial-food chain. After salmonella contamination was found in peanuts, this producer decided to get his peanuts from a small local peanut producer in would-you-believe Western Washington. Not a place known for growing peanuts. I highly recommend the article.

TWO MILES from the Kingston factory where Lunde hand-cuts his Caveman bars is an incongruous sight for Washingtonians: a small, family-owned peanut factory.

Clark and Tami Bowen run the certified-organic “micro-roastery,” CB’s Nuts, with — literally — an open door. Anyone walking into the remodeled fire station can peer from the small retail area to the factory floor, watching the peanuts move from enormous hanging cloth storage bags to the carefully tended roaster to the other stages of processing and packing.

“These guys were a lifesaver,” Lunde says, dropping by CB’s one day on the way to work. Their nuts smell better than any others, he says. They look better, more golden and robust. They taste better — a lot better.

“It’s night and day by comparison,” Lunde says. “At CB’s, I can actually go down and see what they’re doing.”

Read Full Post »

Organic Chickens

I really enjoyed this column from food writer Nancy Leson. What did I learn? Heritage turkeys = bad. Organic chickens = good.

Read Full Post »

Reading the New York Times article about a woman who was paralyzed by ecoli, I was struck by the following passage:

The frozen hamburgers that the Smiths ate, which were made by the food giant Cargill, were labeled “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.” Yet confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.

How can something labeled Angus beef be a mix of trimmings? Jake wondered if “Angus” had become a fake word that didn’t mean anything similar to the word “natural.” So I asked the Explainer and surprisingly they answered. Here is the link to What is Angus Beef?

Read Full Post »

Dan Ackroyd as Julia Child

Read Full Post »

Bye bye gourmet

I am very saddened to hear that Conde Nast is getting rid of Gourmet magazine. I have so many favorite recipes from Gourmet. Some of my favorites include tarte tatin, chicken liver mousse and fondue. I used to get both Bon Appetit and Gourmet.

While the recipes in Bon Appetit were always nice, the writing in Gourmet was always superior. I remember a great article on eating marrow, or the one about eating a sheep’s head. They described eating things I would never eat in such an entertaining way that I felt like I was able to experience the sensation without actually experiencing it.

This is very sad news. The following excerpt really says it all:

Not only did Bon Appetit have more readers, according to recent statistics from the magazines’ media kits, Gourmet had circulation of 950,000 copies while Bon Appetit had 1.3 million readers. Additionally, Gourmet had a reputation of being a very expensive magazine to run, featuring long articles by well-known writers while Bon Appetit was focused on much more economical, recipe-driven content.

Read Full Post »

Foie Gras Burger

On our recent trip to France, foie gras was ubiquitous. I doubt there was one menu where it didn’t make an appearance. Asking the French to give up foie gras is like asking Americans to stop driving. While it may be the right thing to do, it’s not going to happen.

Jake ordered this foie gras burger in Nevers. You can’t really eat it like a burger. Every bite would be way to rich. It was delicious and decadent though.

As an aside, I should have my France pictures to post any day now. Editing them is taking a lot longer than I thought.

Read Full Post »

Jake is having some withdrawal symptoms from not having his daily pan aux raisin. I, on the other hand, am having difficulty reading anything to do with politics. All of it makes me angry right now and I don’t feel like getting into the details.

On a local level though, I was pleased to see Mike McGinn come in first in the Seattle Mayoral Primary. I voted for him and, wow, that is fantastic news! I met McGinn at our Democratic caucus in Greenwood for 2008. He seemed like a nice guy and he remembered my name from some random emails I sent on a Greenwood ListServ. I tend to have a good memory, so I always like it when someone else does too. I have a big pet peeve about people who introduce themselves to me several times and never seem to remember me.

Another thing of note is that we took the new light rail on our return to Seattle. It currently doesn’t go all the way to the airport, but there is a shuttle from the airport to Tukwila where it starts. It was a very pleasant ride although there were a total of 7 bicycles and only 2 places to put them. Jake and I were lucky to snag those two spaces. When we got downtown we rode our bikes back home. It was surprisingly nice after a 10 hour plane ride.

Read Full Post »

Some lefties (BTW, I’m a proud lefty) are boycotting Whole Foods because of the politics of the CEO. I have long felt that John Mackey is certainly a bit nutty. You need just check out this article from 2007 here. But is that enough reason to boycott the store?

I don’t shop at Whole Foods because quite frankly I think they have substandard overpriced products. I think where they excel is produce, but just about everything else you buy in the store isn’t any better considering the ridiculous price. I bought charcoal there that was terrible. And graham crackers that were so bad I threw away the box. Sure the fruit is good, but does that mean I want to spend $3 on an orange?

Probably the main reason I don’t shop there is that I live in a city with fabulous alternatives. I’ll take the Town & Country markets any day over Whole Foods. It’s local and great. The produce is fabulous and they stock everything I need including Asian products. I especially like the bulk foods section and even the bulk seafood section.

A couple years ago, Hsiao Ching Cho wrote this at the PI:

Last week in my column, I shared my experience of discovering the apple pie I had bought from Whole Foods was moldy. I suspected I would hear from the company — and I did. But, imagine my surprise to hear from a reader in Oakland, Calif., and one in Bellevue who also had purchased moldy pies from their local Whole Foods locations.

This meant that my bad-pie experience was not exclusive to the Roosevelt store and it was potentially systemwide. I forwarded the reader e-mails to Jolyn Warford Bibb, who is the regional marketing coordinator at Whole Foods in Emeryville, Calif. Her return e-mail stated: “Thanks for the feedback. … I hate to read it, but at the same time it is good for us to see. We are committed to correcting this terrible problem.”

The week after her column appeared, several readers wrote in to say they too had been disappointed by Whole Foods’ substandard food.

So I don’t need to boycott Whole Foods because I don’t shop there anyway, but I am a reasonably political person and I do like to patronize places that have the same core values that I have. Sometimes that’s not possible, but if it is I’m happy to support places that share my beliefs.

Read Full Post »

I usually try to buy locally roasted coffee. This is Seattle after all so we have a lot of choice. For a very long time I was buying Pegasus which is hands down my favorite, but unfortunately my office moved and now Pegasus is completely inconvenient. Thus began my quest for a local replacement.

I always bought Pegasus beans by the pound because we make our own lattes in the morning at home.  In trying other coffees I stumbled upon a trend to sell coffee by the 12 0z oz bag for the same price that places used to sell a full pound or 16 0unces. It’s not just your small places either. Starbucks, Tullys and Torrefazione all have 12 0z oz bags for you to buy. Now I did see a full pound at Starbucks too. You just have to be careful.

This is Kuma Coffee which is roasted in the Seattle neighborhood Magnolia. It’s really good and they do sell it by the pound for I think 10.99. Much better than 10.99 for 12 ounces as far as I’m concerned.

Read Full Post »

You wouldn’t think it to look at him, but on some level Jake is afraid of this man. Who is he? The owner of Gorgeous George’s Mediterranean Restaurant in Greenwood. We had heard good things about this restaurant, and so had planned to go sometime in that way where you say to yourself “we should really try that place sometime.”

Then I read a reader review on some restaurant rating site that said “George doesn’t just cook for you. He sings and dances and comes to your table.” This information I relayed to Jake who was completely horrified. When we passed the restaurant one day on an evening stroll we peeked in and saw George with his signature hat out in the dining room talking to guests. “We are never ever going there,” Jake said.

Dare I make a cultural observation here? Feel free to offer your thoughts too. Is it that Americans really like the gimmick of the stranger who is your best friend? Do we know no boundaries between strangers and ourselves? Are the British just uptight? Why can they not enjoy the company of a dancing and singing chef?

In America, there is always the pretense of extreme friendliness even if that friendliness is so obviously false. Ever been asked by a salesperson how your day was and then you told them something other than it’s going well? Usually, their faces change as if to say “oh how interesting” in a I’m-not-really-interested sort of way. I was once in that same predicament. I was at my service job and I asked a customer how she was. Not so good, she said, I had two toes removed yesterday. I didn’t really know what to do with that information.

In Britain, everyone is extremely polite. I like how when making a request either as provider or consumer, you always end your phrase with please. I’ll have a pint of Guinness please. There you are, two quid please. Yet, and perhaps I’m wrong but I seem to recall, that you are never asked how you are if the person doesn’t really want to know the answer. Is it rude? Well, it’s honest, isn’t it? But I digress.

Here are some more scary tidbits from Gorgeous George’s. And Jake, feel free to weigh in here and tell me if I’m misinterpreting your discomfort.

You’re the only chef I know who sits at customer’s tables. Do you have a fetish for watching people eat your food?

No, it’s just nice. I try to sit at the tables so everyone will feel at home here. But I don’t come out to sit when I’m in a bad mood. I can’t fake my face, I can’t be two-faced. If I’m nervous or mad, I’ll just stay in the back and cook.

What do you learn about people from watching them eat?

Sometimes people just need to put the food in their mouths. Like the baklava can go straight into your mouth, no forks needed. It’s not cake. Sometimes people don’t know what they just ordered. It’s Mediterranean food, with spices from the Holy Land. I say Holy Land, not Israel or Palestine, because I want both Jews and Palestinians to feel comfortable eating here.

Read Full Post »

You know you want to know.

Read Full Post »

Paw-licking good

Danton has some sort of liver disease. We don’t know what has caused it, but he is jaundiced right now. It’s been a rough week trying to figure out how this young cat got sick and it’s possible we’ll never know. Since he won’t eat or drink at all, part of taking care of him is to give him medicine twice a day and to force-feed him food through a syringe three times a day. It’s not easy force-feeding a cat let me tell you.

On Friday, he miraculously ate a half can of tuna. We were elated. But this was followed by two days of eating nothing at all meaning two full days of force-feedings. He kept sniffing the wide variety of foods that we tried to get him to eat including baby food, but he never ate it. Instead he would just motion to bury it by scratching the floor around it.

Last night we went to see Shakespeare in the Park. It was The Taming of the Shrew and quite good I might add. Here’s a link to the company. My friend Lynne has a family tradition of bringing a bucket of fried chicken to Shakespeare in the Park, so we stopped by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Then as we were driving to the show, we thought to ourselves how good that chicken smelled in the car and all of us started to get hungry. Maybe it will have the same affect on Danton, I thought. So we took a piece home for him. I tore off the Colonel’s secret recipe crust and started to tear up the chicken, then I put it in front of the cat. Lo and behold he ate it! He ate a lot of it! He would walk away then go back to get more. At the end of the night we left the chicken out and he finished it up. I really love KFC right now.

How I wish this were some sort of cat plot to get us to feed Danton people food, but of course that’s not it. With any luck, he will have turned the corner and we’ll start to see some improvement.

Here’s a photo of him eating. Not a good photo, but I didn’t want to disturb him.

Read Full Post »

Grade-A Crap

I was amused to see this billboard across from the Jolly Roger Taproom in Ballard. Luckily MyBallard got a photo of it.

Read Full Post »

Cafe au whey

I think I’m now officially a part of hippydom. I used the leftover whey from our goat cheese curds in my latte this morning. It was interesting. Very whey-like which I suppose was predictable.

Photo via CheeseSlave.

Read Full Post »

Jake and I made cheese curds out of some raw goat milk yesterday. What better excuse to make poutine? I made a herb gravy with butter, fresh herbs and wine. I then added sauteed morels (thank you Ballard Farmer’s market) and voila. Oven fries topped with cheese curds and with some herb and morel gravy poured over the top. I don’t think I’ve ever made anything more decadent and homely at the same time.

Read Full Post »

Right now in Seattle, Italian pizzas are all the rage. If you’ve had an Italian pizza, you know that the crust is very very thin and is portioned for one person.

1. Roll out the pizza dough very very thin. Almost every pizza dough recipe is virtually the same. So choose your favorite. Each batch should make 3-4 pizzas. 4 for very thin pizzas. 3 for slightly less thin. I found out that DiLaurenti in Seattle is owned by the same people who own Pagliacci pizza. So I buy my dough from DiLaurenti to save time.

And I definitely roll the dough. I’m not an expert on stretching and I find that I just get holes. As you can tell, I don’t worry about making it round, but you certainly can.

2. Heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Then I heat my propane barbecue to as hot as it will go. I’m only going to flash cook the pizza dough on the barbecue to make the dough stiff. I find that if I cook the whole pizza on the barbecue then the bottom cooks before the top.

Use your pizza peel to get the dough on the barbecue completely flat. This takes practice. Close the lid and wait for a one minute tops. The dough will puff up. You can either deflate bubbles or just let them deflate on their own. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Mixed Berry Pie

I like recipes that are really simple. 5 ingredients or less is a good thing. This mixed berry pie is just that. I made an all butter pie crust with a bit of almond flour thrown in for good measure. The filling is 4 cups berries, 1/2 sugar, 1/4 flour and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. That’s it, and it comes out perfect every time.

Read Full Post »

I made this at home with a nice citrusy vinaigrette.

Read Full Post »

I just found this great spoof on the high fructose corn syrup commericals starring Jackie Beat. The original commercial is first for those of you who haven’t seen it.

Read Full Post »

Random thoughts

It’s been really hard posting lately. Work has been somewhat difficult and then there is the fact that I am once again moving. The third time in less than 2 years.

What have I read lately that I like? Well this was a great Explainer article at Slate about preventing flu. On the same topic of science you can read about the rise and fall of high fructose corn syrup, also on Slate.

Everyone says the film Bob Roberts is very poignant right now. I’ve never seen it. Care to recommend it to me?

Read Full Post »

Why “screw that?” Because sometimes you read something so ridiculous in recipe that you have to curse.

We will be signing a lease on a new house that has a ceramic glass stove top. I have heard anecdotaly that you cannot cook using a cast iron pan on one of these stove tops. So of course I google to see what types of pans are appropriate on this type of stove top. It may be interesting to know that in America if you are purchasing a new stove and it is an electric stove the glass stove tops are the only options. Have a coil stove now? You have to special order the coils as they are widely out of circulation.

Here are some of the limitations of this “advanced” technology that I found on a dizzying comment thread regarding this topic.

Do not “slide” pots or pans around on the ceramic top, you must pick up the pots or pans and place them where you want them. Sliding them can cause cuts or scrapes on the glass.

Always use proper pan size for the cooking area you are using…to determine proper pan size, it would be the size of the pan compared to the size of the cooking area, always try to match the pan as close as possible to the size of the burner.

Never operate the cooking areas without having a pan on them.

Always keep utensil handles turned inwards towards the stove, not outwards where they can be bumped.

Pans that have a uneven bottom or are warped or “grooved” do not work as well as smooth bottom pans, and will tend to cook slower and in a uneven manner.

Do not taunt happy fun ball comes to mind. Are freaking kidding me? What’s the point of having a stove that you’re afraid to use. There are countless stories of people (gasp!) having their food boil over in the pan and the stove top is irreparable. Who makes this shit? Words do not describe how scared I’m going to be to cook. I’m going to have to buy plug-in electric burners to do canning or any of the other tasks which may taunt the cooktop. Screw it!!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »