better as leftovers

pork sliders

We have been braising fiends this year, and we’ve begun to make inroads on some of our larger roasts, which means leftovers. Of course, the great thing about braised meat is that it’s better the next day, after the flavors have had a chance to really meld and settle in. Last weekend we pulled out a pork arm roast and braised it on a bed of cabbage, onion, and sauerkraut flavored with paprika, caraway and beer. It was pleasant enough the first night, but lunch the next day was when it really shone.

I had made a batch of buttermilk-caraway dinner rolls (from our go-to baking book for such things, Mary’s Bread Basket and Soup Kettle), which were wonderful eaten hot out of the pan with butter, but were also delightful split, toasted, spread with mustard, and turned into little pork-and-cabbage sliders. A pile of cornichons and a glass of Pacific Rim Riesling completed a rather dreamy lunch.

pork and cabbage noodles

And because we made a truly enormous amount, I had those sliders again yesterday (maybe today, too). And for dinner last night, I threw together this interesting noodle dish. Some fresh shredded cabbage, sauteed in olive oil until well browned, tossed with some of the leftover braised pork, and mixed with cooked gemelli pasta and doused with Frank’s hot sauce. It came out well, with a sort of spicy Asian-fusiony sort of effect. I liked it.

pot roast sandwich

pot roast sandwiches

I don’t normally have the attention span to eat the same thing every day, but I ate this sandwich for lunch three days running and was still not tired of it. I kept trying to decide whether to change it up a bit, add a different condiment…and then made it exactly the same way. Again.

This all came about because we thought a particular day was going to be cold and rainy, so we planned a pot roast. As it turned out, the weather all week was ridiculously warm and springlike, but once the beef was defrosted it was too late to back out. We based the braise on the Yankee Pot Roast Redux recipe in Molly Stevens’ All About Braising, using a rolled and tied cross-rib roast from our freezer and cooking it in Strongbow cider, chicken broth and onions, with carrots and potatoes going in near the end. It was fabulous, and we ate it two nights running with polenta and shredded Brussels sprouts, but there were still many leftovers.

Having thought ahead to this predicament, I had picked up a bag of rosemary potato rolls at the co-op, made by the Breadfarm, a wonderful bakery in Edison. These rolls, like so much the Breadfarm does, are spectacular – sour and chewy, with coarse salt on top and plenty of fresh rosemary scattered throughout. When it came time to make my sandwich, I cut a roll in half, toasted it lightly, spread it with mayonnaise (Best Foods), and fit a slice of pot roast onto it. I also remembered that we had a bag of cilantro in the fridge, so I pulled out a few sprigs to add. Squished down well, the ingredients melded together, and positively sang.

I ate that first sandwich and immediately made another.

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

When we flew into Kansas City last week, getting in just in time for dinner, we were sorely tempted to go back to our favorite BBQ joint, Oklahoma Joe’s. In the pursuit of knowledge, however, we felt that we really needed to try somewhere new – you know, so we can say with authority where our favorite KC barbecue is. We’ve tried Gates, Smokestack and Joe’s, but we had never made it to one which is often touted as the best in the city: L.C.’s Bar-B-Q.

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

Located on the corner of Blue Parkway and Sni-a-Bar Road, just off of the eastern curve of 435, L.C.’s isn’t hard to find – there are even signs on the freeway to get you there. It’s not much to look at, and they don’t serve beer, so I would suggest getting takeout – that’s what almost everyone else was doing when we stopped in. If you eat in, though, you get a big bottle of extra sauce and plenty of paper towels.  We also got to eavesdrop on a really interesting conversation L.C. was having with another guy at the corner table.

L.C.'s Bar-B-Q

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lunch on the slough

Slough Food

Slough Food

On our way out to Larabee State Park for a walk in the woods, we stopped in the town of Edison for a bite of lunch. My original intention had been to have some fried oysters and a beer at The Edison Inn, but as we walked past Slough Food we spied a sign advertising lunch in their courtyard. Whoo!

Slough Food

Slough Food

This place is one of our favorite shops in the whole area. John DeGloria, the owner, sells an intriguing mixture of European imported foods, such as pasta and anchovies, and locally produced specialties such as duck eggs and chanterelles. He has an incredible cheese case, plus cured meats from Salumi and other sources. Most of the shop is dedicated to wine, with a special table set aside for high quality chocolates. There is no better place to build a picnic. And even better, now you can have the picnic right there in the back yard!

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best. falafel. ever.

Falafel on Rue des Rosiers

We’ve been in Paris for a week now and are almost due to come home. We’ve eaten many good things (macarons, croissants, terrines, fromage blanc, braised rabbit, et cetera et cetera) but interestingly enough it’s been the falafel sandwiches that have really made an impact.

Just a few blocks from our apartment, on the Rue des Rosiers in the Jewish quarter, is a collection of competing falafel shops. They also serve schawarma, merguez sausages and other sandwiches to go, but falafel is really the star attraction here.

Falafel on Rue des Rosiers

L’As du Fallafel is the granddaddy of the falafel shops, and the one that gets all the attention in guidebooks. As promised, there was a fairly long line, plus a falafel hawker out front doing everything but actually grabbing people off the street and shoving them into line. I had heard, though, that another place was actually better, so we resisted the hawker and eased our way through the crowds to the other side of the street.

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Empire Ale House

Empire Ale House

As you may or may not know, April is a time of great confusion and rejoicing in the Skagit Valley, being the time of the Skagit Tulip Festival. What this means is that there are a few weeks of blissful quiet while the daffodil fields bloom (why does everyone ignore the daffodils?), then a weekend or two of complete mayhem when the tulips finally deign to show their colors and the tourists flock in, getting lost in downtown Mount Vernon in need of bathrooms and maps.

daffodil field (just passing by)

This particular weekend features the Tulip Festival Street Fair. They were setting up for it as I walked home today, and for the next three days we will continue to be very very glad that we live walking distance from downtown – because god help anyone who’s trying to park down there. We can also be grateful that the weather forecast is looking promising – a few years ago there was a howling windstorm that swept away the craft tents, and last year it hailed. A lot. We’re all hoping this year will be better.

Empire Ale House

If any of you are planning to come up and join in the festivities, you might wonder where there is to eat. We do have a few good places here in town, and it’s an interesting fact that most of them are pubs. Within just a few short blocks we have The Porterhouse, Trumpeter Public House, Empire Ale House, Draft Pics Sports Bar and Skagit River Brewery. Apparently you can never have too many places to drink beer. Continue reading

garlicky lamb sandwich

lamb sandwich

Just a quick one today (then you can get back to your 4th of July preparations – we hope to be barbecuing, if it doesn’t rain too much). It may be only a sandwich, but it’s a sandwich worth talking about, and we’ve had it for lunch twice this week ’cause it was so good.

We had leftover grilled lamb from earlier in the week, leftover piquillo peppers from a salad we had made, and pesto made from the last of the garlic scapes. I sliced the lamb nice and thin, and piled it and the peppers on a fresh soft ciabatta roll with some mayonnaise and pesto, and it became an amazing, savory, garlicky lunch. I can’t think of a thing that would have improved it, except maybe a salad of baby greens and a glass of rosé. Mmmm.