Happy December! How was your Thanksgiving/Hanukkah weekend? We had one Thanksgiving dinner at home, another with friends, and a fantastically successful breakfast of leftover stuffing pressed into a waffle iron. It was a good holiday.
Last year we discovered how great a pork roast can be instead of a turkey. It goes with all the traditional sides, but cooks relatively quickly and and is very little fuss. I used David Tanis’ porchetta recipe, coating the pork with loads of garlic, fennel and fresh rosemary, and it worked perfectly once again.
I had another go at making Aunt Mary’s creamed spinach, but left out the cream of mushroom soup. It didn’t seem to matter at all, I just had to add some extra salt to the mixture. I also pre-cooked the onions, which I think improves the texture. My father made his famous buttermilk mashed potatoes, because you just have to have mashed potatoes. And we also made a simple salad of raw, thinly-sliced fennel in lemon juice and olive oil, as a foil for all the other gooey, dairy-rich foods. Continue reading
Last weekend I was craving oysters, so we picked up a couple of bags at Taylor Shellfish and invited some friends over. The quandary with oyster nights is what to serve for a main course – you don’t want something too heavy, but it needs to be interesting enough so you don’t just skip it and fill up on nothing but oysters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In any case, this time I tried a recipe for salmon chowder from Becky Selengut’s book Good Fish. The base is classic chowder, with celery, onion, potato and cream, but it also adds tomato for color and extra flavor, and the salmon (in this case, a piece of wild sockeye) is cut into small pieces and added just before turning off the stove so it cooks in the residual heat.
It turned out great. I often like the idea of chowder more than the reality, but this was what chowder should be: creamy and flavorful but not gluey, and the salmon was perfectly cooked and not at all fishy. We ate it with some addictive buttermilk rosemary crackers from Offshore Baking in Maine (owned by Neal and Kathy Foley, our hosts from Duckfest, who recently did an Indiegogo campaign to help pay Kathy’s medical bills – the crackers were our perk, and I highly recommend them).
For dessert there were chocolate chip/malted milk ball cookies from the freezer and glasses of good bourbon, making for a perfect winter evening by the fire.
Last weekend we squeezed in another supper club get together. This one was a South Indian theme, so we had a nice spread of curries.
We served all the main dishes family style. There was rice, Goan shrimp curry, Keralan chicken, a pot of mixed vegetable curry with sweet potatoes, and our contribution, a coconut milk curry with cauliflower and fresh spinach. We also brought several chutneys, which were made for our appetizer, bhel puri, but also worked nicely with everything else. Continue reading
That milk-braised pork I made last week for supper club? Here’s what I did with some of the leftovers: a lazy approximation of the roasted cauliflower pasta from one of my favorite cookbooks, Olives and Oranges. I sauteed garlic, anchovies, hot pepper flakes and breadcrumbs in lots of olive oil, then threw in capers, cauliflower florets roasted until sweet and golden, minced parsley and diced-up leftover pork, then added bowtie pasta and let it all simmer for a minute. Daaaaaang.
It was our turn to host supper club, but we hadn’t been sure what our theme would be. Then we heard the news of Marcella Hazan’s passing, and decided to have a dinner composed of her recipes to honor her work. I hope she would have been pleased. Continue reading
I got the Momofuku cookbook for my birthday! To break it in, we had some friends over to dinner and I made a bunch of things out of it: pork belly ssäm, pickled mustard seed sauce with pickled cucumbers (recipe below), sweet corn with miso butter, and steamed buns. Well, the buns were my own favorite bao recipe, but I shaped them based on David Chang’s process, folded over into little pockets before steaming, and it worked great. The sauce was killer. The salty-sweet roasted pork belly wasn’t bad either. There were very few leftovers. Continue reading
As is often the case, my birthday week had several parts. First came the party.
This week I have a cooking article in the Cascadia Weekly, explaining a dish that’s near and dear to my heart: German Apple Pancake. I finally sat down with my favorite recipes for clafoutis, Dutch Baby, and Yorkshire pudding, figured out the ratios and tried making a completely off-the-cuff breakfast with an apple I found in my parents’ fridge instead of referring to the original recipe. It worked pretty darn well. On our way home we stopped at a fruit stand and bought a bag of Jonagolds, I have my eye on a recipe for buckwheat apple tart from the new Deborah Madison cookbook.
And, speaking of Dutch Babies, I want to share a comic that my aunt Holly Tuttle did a while back for a cartoonist cookbook. (Note: cooking religious extremists is not recommended)
Usually when we drive through Ellensburg on our way back from the Tumbleweed Festival every year, we end up stopping for dinner at the Valley Cafe, one of our very favorite restaurants back when we lived in Eburg. This year we decided to throw caution to the winds and try out the Yellow Church Cafe.
We just got back from our annual road trip down to Santa Cruz, and as usual we planned our route to include visiting as many new-to-us breweries as possible. Not hard to do on the west coast these days.
Our band played a concert in Wenatchee, so we used my parents’ house as our starting point and headed down Hwy 97 to the Columbia Gorge. We stopped for lunch at Bert’s Pub in Yakima, which had some good reviews online. When we got there we realized it was the same space that used to be Grant’s Brewpub, where we’ve played music before. Weird. In any case, they had a great selection of local beers and some surprisingly good food. I had a Bale Breaker IPA and Jon had a Yakima Craft. Continue reading