June 7, 2016

Tahini Spaetzle with Olives, Chickpeas and Cauliflower

Tahini Spaeztle

See how nice that spaetzle looks? I promise it tastes even better. But I know when you start reading the recipe to make it for yourself, you’re going to try to ruin it.

You’ll look at the ingredient list and start thinking about how you can cut a few corners. “What ridiculously named olive does he want me to use?” you’ll ask. “Can I just use a regular lemon?” you’ll wonder. “I can just cook up some dried pasta, right?” you’ll reason.

Do. Not. Give. In.

Castelvetrano olives are available in most grocery stores, in jars if not fresh. Preserved lemons can be found at any middle-eastern specialty shop – or you can easily make your own. And while making your own spaetzle might seem intimidating (many recipes tell you to press the dough through a colander) it really doesn’t have to be. Just use thumb and pointer finger to pinch off small bits of dough. A bit messy, but not challenging.

The extra effort is worth it, I promise you. This dish is a sublime blend of tangy, salty, and creamy that nonetheless defies expectations of being too rich or heavy. The castelvetranos are meaty and buttery, spaetzle is nutty, and the preserved lemons are packed with concentrated zest and just the right tartness.

Do it right. Treat yo self. Continue reading

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April 10, 2016

Maple-Fennel Pork Chop

Maple-Fennel Pork Chop

A quick editorial note first. I know it’s been quite some time since I posted a new recipe here. I’ve written before about the challenges of keeping up regular posts between work and school, so I won’t get into it again. Since my last post, however, I’ve also gotten engaged (!!!) and adopted a cute but mischievous little pup (!). Needless to say, finding time to write – and even cook – has been difficult.

In the past I’ve always said that I would get back to posting on a more regular schedule. I honestly don’t know if that will ever be the case. Cooking is a hobby and a passion for me, and sharing it with others – whether in person or on this blog – brings me a lot of joy. But when it feels like a chore or I feel guilty for not posting, the magic fades pretty quickly.

So I hope you’ll check back now and again for new recipes – or better yet sign up for updates! – but no promises about getting back to new recipes every week.

Now enough talk – to the recipe! Continue reading

October 23, 2015

Pumpkin Bourbon Flip

Pumpkin Bourbon Flip

Pumpkin-mania is here folks. Lattes, beer, ice cream, pie – you name it. If it’s Autumn, it’s pumpkin.

A lot of people make fun of the pumpkin craze, but I for one welcome our new pumpkin overlords. Pumpkin and its other squash-kin are delicious, vibrant, versatile, and cheap. They are great in a wide array of sweet and savory dishes and the perfect antidote to cold-weather gloom.

However, even though pumpkin dominates Autumn like no other seasonal vegetable and pairs great with all things sweet and creamy, there is a surprising lack of pumpkin cocktails.

Enter the Pumpkin Bourbon Flip. Continue reading

September 8, 2015

Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese Pasta Salad

If you’ve been reading this blog for much time, you probably know that I’m a big fan of culinary challenges. Unusual ingredients, strange kitchen set ups – you name it. Recently though, I completed a trial like no other.

I spent two weeks as a vegetarian.

Yes, it’s true. Your humble blogger and avowed carnivore went fourteen days without a single bite of meat. It was part of a deal that my girlfriend and I made to “eat healthier,” because meat is “bad for you.” In exchange she agreed to give up sweets for two weeks. I think I got the raw end of the deal.

(For the record, there is ample evidence to suggest that eating less meat contributes to better overall health. There, I admitted it.)

So what did I learn from the experience? Continue reading

August 8, 2015

Pancetta, Pea, and Mint Pizza with Pistachio Sauce

Pancetta, Pea, Pistachio Pizza

This pizza is your new best friend.

It will give a ride to the airport at a moment’s notice. It knows when something is wrong before you even say a word. It always has the next round.

I kid, of course – but this is a darn good pie.

The pistachio sauce is a nutty, subtle alternative to the more traditional aggressive red and rich white pizza bases. The salty, smokey pancetta and crisp sugar snap peas are like a see-saw, rocking your tongue gently back and forth between two flavors. Everything is bound together by mozzarella, and cut with just a hint of mint to keep things cool.

The pizza as a whole manages to be both indulgent and refreshing at the same time. As the midsummer heat begins to fade into temperate Autumn evenings, you may find yourself more attached to it than you’d care to admit. Continue reading

June 2, 2015

Revisited: Gazpacho with Pea Shoots and Capers

Gazpacho Redux

With both the legislative session and school winding down, I’m making it a goal this summer to really explore one or two international cuisines. I realized recently that not really having the opportunity to cook for several months has left me in something of a culinary rut. I think a deep dive into the subtleties of a specific palette is just what the chef-doctor ordered.

And since a visit to Spain many years ago was what really piqued my interest in cooking, so it only seemed like a fitting place to return.

Almost four years ago (!) when I had just started this blog, I posted a recipe for one of the most ubiquitous of Spanish dishes – gazpacho. Here is what I wrote at the time:

There are hundreds of ways to spice up a gazpacho recipe – and believe me, I’ll be back here with some of my own takes down the road – but for a quick, refreshing dish on a hot day, you can’t beat the original.

Don’t say I’m not a man of my word.

Technically the addition of bread to this dish would make it salmorejo, the less famous cousin of gazpacho, but it’s largely the same concept. This recipe is a bit heartier – enough to be a light meal by itself – but still delightful for a warm summer day. The fried capers offer little bursts of salt and vinegar that help break up the flavor of the soup. The pea shoots, meanwhile, are a beautiful visual addition that also provide some diversity in texture.

Traditional? Not as much. Delicious? Sí.

Gazpacho with Pea Shoots and Capers

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup crusty bread, preferably a bit stale, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón or smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for plating
  • 10-12 capers
  • 1/2 cup pea shoots

Instructions

  1. Place the cubed bread in a small bowl with the vinegar. Let it stand until all of the liquid has been absorbed so that the bread is slightly soggy.
  2. Roughly chop the red pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and garlic. Don’t worry about getting them too small or the same size.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables to food processor along with the bread, pimentón, cumin and quarter cup of olive oil. Blend to your desired consistency (there are all manner of opinions on how much you should blend your gazpacho. I’m a fan of almost completely smooth, but it’s up to you).
  4. Chill the soup for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving. Feel free to let it sit overnight, as the flavors only develop over time.
  5. To serve, fry your capers in a small sauce pan with a dash of oil until lightly crisped and beginning to lose their shape, about 2-3 minutes. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the gazpacho and top with a handful of capers and the pea shoots.
May 2, 2015

The Bracket is Mightier IV: A New Hop

No, you didn’t miss it.

We made the difficult decision last time to stop live blogging our beer brackets. Not only does it slow down the process as we furiously write up mid-tournament reviews, but, frankly, the quality of blogging declines as the bracket goes on (ahem).

So instead, here is our post-game analysis of Beer Bracket IV: A New Hop. There were a couple highlights this time around. For starters, its the first time that a #1 seed has gone all the way. The Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge, a delightfully tart and complex Flemish Sour Ale from Belgium, didn’t lose a single match up on its way to the crown. All our previous winners rose up from the losers bracket to take the top spot.

Southern Tier’s Choklat won the annual “top tier seed crashes and burns” award. Chocolate notes have many fans in the beer community, but our judges did not look favorably on what tasted like carbonated chocolate water.

This was also (sadly) the farthest a Washington beer has got in the competition. Elysian’s Punkaccino – a flavorful and well-balanced coffee and pumpkin ale – put up a good fight in the championship against the Cuvée, but was ultimately unsuccessful. Someday, Washington beers!

Here is how it all went down:

Beer Bracket 4 -Winners Bracket

Losers Bracket

And here were the entrants, seeded:

  1. Brouwerij Bockor Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge
  2. Southern Tier Choklat
  3. Elysian Punkuccino
  4. Fremont The Brother
  5. Black Raven Trickster
  6. Hop Valley Alpha Centauri
  7. Alesmith Yule Smith
  8. Uinta Sea Legs Baltic Porter
  9. Anchorage Galaxy White IPA
  10. Old Schoolhouse Ruud Awakening
  11. Elysian Dark O’ The Moon
  12. Schooner Exact Hoppy the Woodsman
  13. Two Beers Fresh Hop
  14. Black Raven Tamerlane
  15. Evil Twin Justin Blaeber
  16. Ninkasi Oatis Vanilla Stout
  17. Perennial Artisan Ales Saison De Lis
  18. Lost Abbey Witch’s Wit
  19. Eel River Raven’s Eye
  20. La Trappe Jubilaris
  21. New Belgium Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout
  22. 10 Barrel Big Ol Pumpkin
  23. Iron Horse Lagunatic Brew

Stay tuned, our fifth bracket is imminent and it is bound to be an exciting one!

April 26, 2015

Bourbon Panna Cotta with Hot Fudge Sauce

Bourbon Panna Cotta

Once again I have to apologize for how tardy I’ve been in posting new recipes. I actually made this dish back on Valentine’s Day, but work and school have been all-consuming over the past several months. Add in the fact that Maggie and I just bought our first home (!!!) and you can imagine it’s been a very busy time for me. Now that things have settled down though I hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule.

If you were expecting a verbose return, I’m going to disappoint you once more; there isn’t that much to say about this dish. It’s cream, vanilla, nutmeg, chocolate – and bourbon. If you aren’t sold after hearing that lineup, you might be a lost cause. I just don’t think there is anything I can do.

The real uniqueness of panna cotta comes from the silky yet firm texture and, of course, the presentation. I used a broad, shallow dish for the cast, but you can really use any shape you want as long as you can get the panna cotta out after a warm water bath. Feel free to experiment!

Bourbon Panna Cotta with Hot Fudge Sauce (serves 4)

Panna Cotta Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 dash of nutmeg

Hot Fudge Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Pour the bourbon into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let stand for 4-5 minutes until the gelatin has softened and dissolved.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the cream on medium until it begins to simmer. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and nutmeg and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Pour the cream mixture into the bowl and gentle mix into the bourbon and gelatin until fully incorporated. Divide the mixture into serving vessels and refrigerate for at least four hours to give the panna cotta time to set up.
  4. In a saucepan, heat the 1/2 cup of heavy cream to a simmer. Add the brown sugar, salt and butter and continue simmering until dissolved. Add in half the chocolate and continue stirring until melted and mixed in. Repeat with the second half of the chocolate and remove the pan from the heat.
  5. To serve, fill a pot or casserole dish with hot water and set the panna cotta vessels inside so that the tops are just above the water line. After about 1 minute, remove the vessels from the water and run a knife along the outside edge. Gently flip the vessel onto a plate, giving it a light pat if the panna cotta doesn’t come free immediately. Drizzle with hot fudge sauce and serve.
February 7, 2015

Kimchi BLT

Kimchi BLT

Bloggers note – It has been longer that I like since my last post. The legislature is once again in session, which means my day job is substantially busier than normal. There may be a bit more time between posts, but I promise to keep the recipes coming!

Now, to the dish at hand.

The BLT is a classic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made better by importing some flavors from Korean cuisine. In this recipe, it is brightened by tangy, spicy kimchi that perfectly complements the salty bacon and ripe tomato. The addition of a creamy, runny egg not only builds on the complexity of flavor, but also makes the meal a bit more substantive.

Easy to assemble while remaining both delicious and unique, this sandwich is great for a fun lunch or weeknight dinner!

Kimchi BLT (serves 1)

Ingredients

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 egg
  • 3 thin slices of tomato
  • 2 leaves of bibb lettuce
  • 1/4 cup of kimchi, diced
  • 2 pieces of sourdough bread, lightly toasted

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine the garlic, lemon juice and mayonnaise until evenly incorporated. Let the mixture sit while you cook the remaining ingredients.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium-high and cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove the bacon to a paper towel and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and crack the egg into the skillet. Let it cook for about 3 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy, then flip using a spatula. Sear the egg for 1 minute on the other side before removing it from the skillet, so that they yolk is still slightly runny.
  4. To assemble the sandwich, spread the garlic aioli on each piece of bread, then layer the egg, bacon, tomato, lettuce and kimchi on top.
November 26, 2014

Spiced Cranberry Sangria

Spiced Cranberry Sangria 2

Do you want to know a secret?

The best place for cranberries at your Thanksgiving table isn’t in a sauce or baked into an overly sweetened dessert – it’s in your wine glass.

Cranberries are the feature ingredient in this festive sangria, bestowing some of their signature tartness to compliment to the warm, sugary notes of brandy. In turn, they absorb some of the sweetness from the other ingredients, making them palatable – dare I say enjoyable even – to eat themselves once you’ve finished your drink.

Set against a backdrop of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and orange, this sangria blends classic Spanish influences with holiday flavors for an unique, belly-warming beverage. And while cranberries are a Thanksgiving mainstay, this recipe would be equally suited for any wintertime holiday. Cheers!

p.s. When it comes to the cranberries, I have to put a plug in for Starvation Alley Farms. In addition to being locally owned by the wonderful Oakes family down in Long Beach, WA, they’re easily the best-tasting cranberries I’ve ever had. Continue reading

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