Monday, November 18, 2013

Roast Duck

It's that time of year.  Time to roast a duck.  This is a simple preparation, but it does take a few steps and a little planning for time.  But this fairly easy recipe produces a tender and crispy duck.  

1 Duck, about 5 pounds
Chicken Stock, 3-5 quarts
½ Onion, thickly sliced
2 Bay leaves
1 Sprig rosemary
½ Cup dry vermouth
½ Cup orange juice
To prepare the duck, trim off all excess fat and the wing tips.  Using kitchen string to truss the duck so that the wings are tucked in and the legs are tight against the breast.  Use a fork to prick the fat on the breast of the duck all over.  Let rest at room temp for about 30 minutes.

Combine all ingredients, but the duck, in a pot just large enough to fit the duck.  The amount of stock you use will depend on the size of pan, but it needs to be enough to cover the duck.  Bring to a boil.  Add the duck, breast side down, and simmer for 45 minutes.  Drain, set onto a roasting pan and let sit to dry for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. 
Heat oven to 500f.  Roast the duck for 30 minutes.  Remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Degrease the cooking stock and strain the solids out.  You can toss the stock, keep/freeze it to make a soup or make a sauce.  I reduced the stock to about ¼ of it original volume by keeping it on a rolling boil for about 25-30 minutes.  

In our house, we love sauce or gravy with any roasted meat and tonight is no different.  I recommend the sauce route for the cooking stock.  Yum!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Roasted Matsutake Mushrooms

In all honesty, I am tired of that curry lamb dish on the front page of my blog.  Chris is traveling and the girls and I are eating simple.  So, I post tonight with nothing much new to report, but this quick matsutake mushroom dish.  I have never cooked with matsutake mushrooms.  I often wondered about them, but never picked up any because they were so expensive.  But today, Uwajimaya had a bounty of them, priced differently according to their quality grade.  I did a little research as to the grading process. It seems the best of the best are the ones where the caps are still closed and tight to the stem.  The gills will not be showing at all.  The ones I purchased are close to the top, but not the absolute best, at $19.99 per pound.  The NY Times recently published this interesting article about foraging for matsutakes in Oregon.  After reading the article, I know why they are now down in my price range.  Still, it seems a lot of cost was incurred getting them to the shelves at market.
For my first cooking experience with matsutake mushrooms, I went with the simplest method.  Outside of the traditional rice dish, which I was even too lazy to make, I went with this super simple preparation.

¾ pounds matsutake mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter, melted
freshly ground pepper
fleur de sel

To clean the mushrooms, cut off the very end of the stems.  Use a mushroom brush, paper towel, or your fingers to brush any dirt off the mushrooms.  If needed, rinse gently with water, but do not let the water soak into the underside or gills of the mushrooms.
Heat oven to 450f.
Slice the mushrooms into ¼ inch thick pieces.
Place onto a baking sheet or cast iron skillet.
Drizzle the butter over top.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and fleur de sel.
Roast the mushrooms until tender, for about 8-12 minutes, stirring once in the process.  The mushrooms should still hold their shape and be tender without being limp.

They had a woodsy taste with a hint of cinnamon, very distinct in flavor.  Definitely robust enough to hold other flavors.  Next time I will try them with a little soy, mirin and sake, on the grill perhaps.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Creamy Tomato and Curry Lamb

Might you have wondered what I did with the left over leg of lamb from that Lamb Shawarma from the other night?  After all, though we obviously love to eat, that was a lot of lamb.  Having left overs is a common occurrence in our house given that we love to roast large pieces of meat.  I often make them into pasta dishes, sometimes use them in sandwiches, and tonight I'm taking the lamb and making a variation of my kids' favorite Indian dish, butter chicken.  Here's a nice helping of butter lamb.  

1 to 1.5 pounds cooked leg of lamb, cut into 1-2" pieces
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 large sweet onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
up to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used none because of my kids)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup finely diced tomatoes
15 oz can tomato sauce
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large pot, heat butter over medium heat.  Sauté the onions until light golden brown.  
Add the garlic, garam masala, ground ginger, cinnamon, cayenne (if using) and tomato paste. Stir to combine and sauté until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.  Let boil gently for a couple of minutes.
Add the lamb and bring back to a boil.  Turn heat down, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes
Add cream and bring back to a boil.  Boil uncovered until sauce is slightly thickened.
Serve with rice and good naan if you can find it.

This is a keeper.  There was no way to photograph this and make it look pretty.  But as Chris said, we should have this every time we have left over lamb.  It was really good.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lamb Shawarma

For something different tonight, we went to Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook and cooked up a little lamb shawarma.  I followed the recipe, which can be found here, to the letter with the exception of the cooking.  For the last 45 minutes, I cooked the lamb uncovered basting with the pan juices often.  As suggested in the recipe, I served the lamb with home made pita bread and all the fixin's.  I opted to serve the pita on the side.  After all, having put all that work into making them by hand, I wasn't going to drown them under the lamb.

The scent of the lamb cooking filled the house with wonderful spice and a cozy feeling of fall. Even Pacino, our dog, laid patiently waiting for the four and a half hours in hopes of getting a little taste.  It was delicious and all of the accouterments were essential to completing the meal.  Excellent!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wok Fried Julienned Potato in Chili Oil

The other day, my friend Sam asked me about a dish he had at a Chinese restaurant here in Seattle.  He described it as a spicy potato dish where the potatoes were like noodles.  Coincidentally, Chris had dinner at this same restaurant last night and I asked him to make sure they had the potato noodles.  A little mishap occurred and somehow the entire plate of potatoes inexplicably slid into his lap as he simultaneous took the plate in his hand and turned his head to talk to someone.  So, I'm not sure Chris' description of the potato dish would be accurate.  I haven't made it to the restaurant to try them for myself, but that's not going to stop me from trying to make something like them from the descriptions I did receive. A quick phone call to my mom sorted out a few minor details and I'm off and running.

1 pound potatoes, choose a low starch variety, I used fingerlings
2 tablespoons oil
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons light soy
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Peel the potatoes and cut them into thin matchstick sized long strips, equal thickness to a thick spaghetti noodle.  
Soak the potatoes in iced water for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Drain the potatoes and dry on paper towels.
Heat a large wok over medium high heat
Add the oil and the garlic.
Once the garlic is fragrant, add the potatoes and toss a couple times. 
Then add the soy, vinegar, sugar, chili oil and sesame oil cook the potatoes for a minute or two.  The potatoes will be tender but still a little bit crispy.
Add the scallions and serve.
It's a keeper.  I have no idea if it matches up to what Sam had, but I'll be making this again. 
A bonus photo is the rolled pork belly I made.  Last night I put fresh sage, salt and pepper and dried thyme onto the inner side of the pork belly and then rolled it up and tied it.  Then I sprinkled it with kosher salt and pepper and set it int he refrigerator over night, uncovered.  I roasted the pork belly at 450f for 45 minutes and then at 250f for another hour.  Let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.  Fabulous!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Grilled Black Bean Sauce Pork Chops

Wow, the summer blew by quickly, and what a fantastic summer it's been.  We had epic weather here in Seattle.  It's been the best summer weather I can remember.  We've been grilling a lot, experimenting a little, but mostly going back to old favorites.  With the warm weather, we've been enjoying sweet and flavorful tomatoes from the garden.  The garlic I harvested last month has been fantastic.  My potato crop was a little disappointing volume wise.  They've been delicious, but I just didn't get as many as I'd like.  I need more room!  Since the garlic has been harvested, I've planted various Chinese leafy greens.  They are fast growing, and so we get quick satisfaction.  Tonight, I'm going to wok fry some Petit Star bok choi, roast some potatoes and grill some thick cut pork chops.
Yesterday, I wandered into Tom Douglas' Assembly Hall on the ground floor of Via 6, a new apartment building on the corner of 6th Avenue and Lenora downtown.  It had a good feel and I'll be back to try Tanaka San, but I did come home with a jar of Tanaka San's black bean sauce from the market, Home Remedy.  I'm trying out that black bean sauce in a marinade for the pork chops tonight.  It has a delicate smoky flavor unlike other black bean sauces I've used.  Nice.

4 bone-in, thick cut pork chops
3/4 cup Simply Apple pure pressed apple juice
2 tablespoons Tanaka San's black bean sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scallions, sliced on the bias
2" piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

Combine the marinade ingredients.  Pour over the pork chops or place everything into a large zip lock bag.  Refrigerate and marinate for at least 6 hours our overnight.
Take the pork chops out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.  I pulled mine out an hour ahead, but let it be known this is not generally recommended from a food safety regulation standpoint.  But bringing the meat to room temp allows for more even cooking.
Light a charcoal grill, and grill the pork chops over the hottest part of the coals until medium rare.  Brush the chops with the marinade as you grill.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dungeness Crab Risotto

A trip up to Whidbey Island this past week brought us home with a bagful of freshly caught Dungeness crab and fresh English shelling peas.  Thanks to salmon heads and turkey legs for bait, and a good pot drop, we hauled in plenty of crab to feast on.  And thanks to the Bayview Farmer's Market, I found, to my surprise, what may be the last fresh English peas of the season.  Armed with both, I received the request from the kids to have crab risotto.

For the risotto:
1 Large shallot, finely chopped
1 cup carnaroli rice
2 Tablespoons olive oil1/3 cup dry white wine
4-6 cups chicken stock, heated to simmer
1/4 cup mascarponi cheese
1/2 cup freshly shelled English peas
1 heaping cup of fresh dungeness crab meat at room temp
White truffle oil to finish

Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots and sauté until translucent.  Add the risotto and saute until the rice is well incorporated and starting to make a slight whistling/crisping sound.  Deglaze with the white wine and simmer until wine is almost completely evaporated.  Begin adding the chicken stock, enough each time to just cover the rice.  Stir once and let simmer until the stock is almost completely evaporated.  Then add more stock.  Continue this process until rice is al denté.  
Meanwhile, blanche the peas in boiling, salted water for 90 seconds.  Drain and shock with ice water.Once rice is cooked, add mascarpone and another 1/2 cup of stock.  Stir until well combined.  
Add 1/4 cup of the crab meat  and the peas and stir in to incorporate. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Serve the risotto with a drizzle of white truffle oil then topped with more dungeness crab.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lunchtime Pretzels

We were watching a food show last night that sent me immediately to pretzel researching. After looking at a few recipes, I combined a couple to form this recipe below.  The pretzels turned out doughy, yet light and were best eaten fresh out of the oven.  Fabulous!

2 1/2 cup bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, between 106 to 110 degrees F

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups close to boiling water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Malden sea salt flakes
Cinnamon sugar

Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Whisk to combine.  Using the hook attachment, knead the dough by slowly adding the warm water in a steady stream with the mixer on low, # 3 speed.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes.  
Remove the hook attachment, bring the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit to rise for about an hour. 

Heat oven to 450f.
Combine the 4 cups water with teh 1/2 cup baking soda in a 9" x 9" pan and set over the stove on low heat.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 8-10 equal sized pieces.  Roll the dough with your hands into a long rope, about 12-16 inches long.  Twist the dough twice at the end, then fold over onto the center to form the pretzel shape.  
Place the pretzels onto a large cutting board or pan as you complete them.
Carefully place each pretzel into the water and baking soda bath.  This bath is what makes the outside of the pretzels that deep golden brown color.  Use a large spoon and spoon the water over the pretzel a few times.
Remove the pretzel with a slotted spoon or spatula and place onto the baking sheet.
Once you have done this for all the pretzels, bake them for 5 minutes.

Remove and brush with the melted butter.  Sprinkle with either the salt or the cinnamon sugar and return to oven for another 3 minutes.
Serve warm.  I had mine with a little Maille moutarde au chablis from Paris and the girls had some fresh jambon with theirs.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Grilled Shishito Peppers

My neighbor Anne passed me this recipe for grilled shishito peppers the other day.  How did she know?  She must have read my mind.  I'd been looking for these peppers on and off since I had them at a restaurant some time ago.  I never came across them until, as fate would have it, the day after Anne handed me the newspaper article.  The peppers are not spicy, but have a slight sweetness to them and taste mild and bright.  Grilled and salted, they are tasty little treats to have with a cold glass of beer.  I made a slight alteration to the recipe which calls for chopped almonds.  Since I did not have any almonds, I used toasted sesame seeds instead.

8 oz Shishito peppers
1 tablespoon pure sesame oil
kosher salt
toasted sesame seeds

Heat your grill on high.
Toss the peppers with the sesame oil and a large pinch of kosher salt.
Grill the peppers until they are blistered and quite soft.
Return the peppers to the same bowl you tossed them in.  Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and additional salt to taste.

Simple and delicious.  We ate ours with a pan fried pork chop and white rice.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Chilled Pea Soup with Garlic Cream and Grilled Gulf Prawn

I had an excellent pea crop this year, but unfortunately, we were on our trip when they were at their peak.  When I harvested them the day we returned, I found most of the peas were over ripened, or past their sweet peak.  We had some for dinner the other night and with the rest, I decided to make chilled pea soup to bring to a Fourth of July party.  With the soup, I could mask a little of the bitterness some of the peas developed.  I served these in small glass jars to be had like a shot of soup.

For the soup:
6 Cups water
1/8 Cup kosher salt
4 Cups shelled peas
5 Fresh Basil leaves
5 Fresh Mint leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped spring onion
2 1/2 Cups reserved cooking liquid
Salt and pepper to taste
Large bowl of ice water to shock the peas

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a large pot.  Add the peas and once the water comes to a boil again, cook the peas for another 90 seconds at a rolling boil.
Drain the peas, reserving the 2 1/2 cups of water.
Put peas immediately into the ice water bath.
Using a blender, purée the peas with the reserved water, basil, mind and spring onion.  You will probably need to do this in 2 batches.
Strain the soup through a medium meshed sieve.  I like a little bulk to the soup, so I don't use a fine mesh.  If you prefer a finer soup, use a fine meshed sieve.  Salt, if needed, and pepper to taste.
Put the soup into a container and seal.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Can be made a couple of days ahead.

For the garlic cream:
2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
1 1/2 Cups heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt

In a medium pot, melt the butter over low heat.  Add the garlic and sauté until lightly browned.  Add the cream, sugar and pinch of salt.  Let simmer for about 8 minutes.
Purée in a blender.  Place into a container and seal.  Refrigerate until chilled.  Can be made a couple of days ahead.

For the prawns:
12 Extra large Gulf white prawns
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Peel and devein the prawns.  Skew each prawn length wise once through the tail and then through the upper body.  Brush each with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill until just cooked through.

To Serve:
Fill each glass with about 1.5-2 ounces of the soup.  Spoon a little of the cream on top and finish with the shrimp skewer laid across the glass.

The soup was a little thicker than I wanted.  Next time, I'll make it thinner as it thickened a bit once it chilled.  Other than that, delish!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Last Day in Paris, Vendredi. Food Shops, a Lunch at L'Absinthe, and a Dinner Post by Chris

What a spectacular time we've had in France.  The buzz of Paris, the two hour lunches, the adventure of getting around, the friendly people, the long walks, all the sightseeing, the beautiful countryside and of course those sweet cows.  As we sat after our lunch today, we asked the girls if there was anything we missed or anything else they wanted to see.  Stella's only wish was to go back to Normandy for more ice cream.  It was the best there.  The rest of us were satisfied and ready to head home to rest, sleep in our own beds and hug Pacino.  Today, we walked the streets of Paris one last time and visited some specialty food shops.  Pictured above are the small items we've picked up during our trip that we'll be bringing home with us.  Just some little souvenirs of France.  And below, some of the stops we made today.

The above photos are all from Hediard

Black truffles from Maisin de la Truffe

The many duck and goose foie gras products of Fouchon

 The beautiful white ceramics of Astier de Villatte

Lunch was a success at L'Absinthe, on Saint-Honoré, a short walk from our hotel.  Everything we ordered had its own flavor and was beautifully prepared.  We wanted a two hour lunch, a carafe of wine and a Paris experience for our last lunch and we got it.  
One of today's specials, Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
 Ravioli with Crayfish Cream Sauce
 Crispy Pig's Ear with Crisp Lobster and Thai Basil Spicy Jus
Green Asparagus and Smoked Herrings, Poached Egg and Avruga Caviar Vinaigrette

All excellent and worth a return trip.

And Now a guest post from Chris.
I have always been a pizza guy so when I read that Pizza Rossi was ranked number 12 out of 9,788 restaurants in Paris on TripAdvisor, how could I resist.  Little did I know that 7:30pm on a friday in Paris was when all Parisian taxis take a café break (at least I think that's what he said), so we headed off on the estimated 15 minute walk.  45 minutes later we were surrounded by 64 year old Parisian prostitutes wearing thigh high boots.  I had many questions right about now, a) who is frequenting these frightening creatures, b) why is my dream pizza place located here and c) where the hell is this supposed heavenly pizza joint?  Now sweating from a long walk and dodging the oldest prostitutes known to man, we arrived at Pizza Rossi.  Was this a joke?  Surely the folks on trip advisor, as my brother in-law would say, are having a go.  This place would have disappointed if I showed up with my buddies when I was in college, not to mention the last night of a long planned trip overseas with my family.  So we high tailed it out of there to try and find a taxi back to the Japanese cuisine district.  Let's take a taxi, nope still on café break.  Rant here, I have seen more taxis with no people in them in Paris than those with.  What gives?  There seem to be many taxis but no way to actually catch one. Paris better look out when a ride share program like Lyft gets here. All those resting taxis are going to have to start actually driving customers around.  So into the subway we went. Stella reinforced what a great neighborhood we were in when she pointed out "gee there sure are a lot of people jumping the turnstile".  20 minutes later we were back in familiar territory and searching for dinner, liquid refreshment and a bathroom.  Udon was the call, so we knew where that was. Nope, line out the door.  Second udon joint, nope, line out the door.  Thai place, nope, go away.  I know the Izakaya place we ate last night, maybe he will take us in. Yep, score.  So, our last night in Paris lead us back to our best meal and a do over that did not disappoint. We ate a little slower and savored it a little more but it was equally delicious and as Stella said "it was fate that we were lead back here" as she slurped down her portion of soft shelled crab.  I think it was a good end to our adventure. -Chris

I leave you with a few final photos from Paris on our last walk of the trip.  In retrospect, I wish I had gotten a photo of the prostitutes outside Pizza Rossi.  There were at least a dozen of them on that one block.  We did not see any anywhere else, until that street.  I mean truly, what in the world?  We could have put a blinder on to the prostitutes, but the restaurant itself was completely unworthy of a last meal in Paris.  We were not going to stick around to find out if the pizza was good or not.  Alls well that end well though, thanks to Izakaya Issé!

 A living wall on the side of a building

Au revoir!  We'll miss you France!
We're homeward bound!