October 31, 2014

Caramelized Pumpkin Soup

Caramelized Pumpkin Soup 4

I’m not usually one for molecular gastronomy – it requires too much precision and expensive equipment for me – but ever since I first tried it I’ve been a huge fan of the caramelized carrot soup put together by the mad scientists over at Modernist Cuisine.

Despite a minimal list of ingredients and uncomplicated instructions, the soup has a depth of flavor that is unparalleled by any conventional recipe. Rather than try to explain their culinary techno-magic myself, here’s the secret straight from the source:

It’s the pressure-cooking that really allows the flavors of this soup to flourish. The flavors are a combination of caramelization and the Maillard reaction (what people commonly call “browning”), which produces a rich, caramelized, nutty flavor. Pressure cookers are particularly suited for promoting the Maillard reaction because elevated temperatures encourage foods to develop their characteristic flavors…

As it so happens, this neat little science trick works on more than just carrots. Using a pressure cooker to caramelize the pumpkin as it cooks causes it to develop wonderful richness and complexity that ordinary pumpkin soups just cannot match. Even better, it’s done with just a hint of butter and no milk or cream.

Served with delightfully spiced and ever-so-sweet cider-poached pears and crunchy pumpkin seeds, this soup is the perfect decadent autumn treat! Continue reading

October 10, 2014

Butternut Squash Pizza

Butternut Squash Pizza 1

Oh hey, Autumn.

This is my favorite time of the year in Seattle. Summer is great and all – with the sun and the beach and the barbecuing – but there is truly nothing that beats a crisp fall day. There is a bite in the air, golden leaves line the sidewalks, and cozying up with a book and a fresh cup of coffee is the perfect Sunday morning activity.

Of course there’s all the wonderful winter beers, but that’s a whole other story.

Nothing could be more seasonal than this Butternut Squash Pizza. The nuttiness of the parmesan and pistachio meets the sweetness of the squash and caramelized onions to form a soul-warming union of comforting flavors. Those lovely notes are reinforced with mellow mozzarella and earthy sage to boot. On top of it all, this dish just looks autumnal with its orange and green colors and sinister caramelized onion curls.

Serve this up next to a fresh-cut jack-o’-lantern after a day of traipsing around a corn field and you will be the epitome of Fall – not to mention the envy of all your friends.

Continue reading

September 9, 2014

Rhubarb Mojito

Rhubarb Mojito

Hm? What’s that I’m working on over here, you ask?

Oh, just jazzing up a regular ho-hum mojito with summer’s best seasonal ingredient: Rhubarb.

The tart, assertive flavor of rhubarb is the perfect addition to this classic recipe that combines fragrant mint with tangy lime and a hint of sweet simple syrup. It’s presence in the cocktail is subtle, but nonetheless makes you wonder why you’ve been drinking your mojitos the old-fashioned way all this time.

With just one additional step/ingredient beyond the regular recipe, the only limiting factor will be the rhubarb on the shelves of your grocery story. I’m a little late to the game when it comes to extolling to virtues of rhubarb since we’re nearing the end of its availability, but that just means you won’t be able to procrastinate before you go buy some! Continue reading

September 5, 2014

The Pint is Mightier: Schooner Exact Brewing

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

For out latest review we ventured to the South Seattle destination of Schooner Exact Brewing. While it would be easy it pass judgment on their business park location with airplanes from nearby Boeing field buzzing overhead, it would be a mistake to do so. Aside from a solid selection of beers and a cozy interior, it’s home to the best damn Reuben in Washington State.

Unfortunately we visited when the brewery was missing one of their most delectable looking brews: the Black IPA and the barrel aged Winter Warmer. Expect a follow up review in the future!

Schooner Exact Brewing Company

Eric’s first beer – Gateway Golden (3.5/5 on Untappd)

I don’t usually go for Golden ales, but our quest for great beers always pushes me to try new things – and in this case I am glad I did. I enjoyed this beer much more than I expected to.

The brew poured a golden color and had a mild hop aroma. It did not appear very carbonated.  At first taste I was surprised by the level of hoppiness, which was very apparent and pleasant. It is a shame that Schooner Exact was out of their Pale ale at the time of review, because it would have been very interesting to compare the two.  Strangely, there is almost a subtle creaminess in the aftertaste, hidden cleverly amongst the hop flavor, that added a good level of depth to this beer. The Gateway Golden would be a fantastic beer for a hot summer day.

Porter, Golden and Eric Continue reading

August 12, 2014

Roasted Red Jalapeño Elote

Roasted Red Jalapeno Corn 2

I suspect many of you will scoff, even cringe, when you pull out the mayonnaise to make this dish. You might question why on earth I would stray from the canon of butter when it comes to finishing some perfectly nice corn on the cob.

You would be oh so wrong to do so.

Elote, a traditional Mexican preparation of corn on the cob, employs mayonnaise for one simple reason: stuff sticks to it. Delicious, scrumptious stuff like refreshing cilantro and salty cotija cheese that would just slide right off a butter coating. Furthermore, it’s easy to mix in all sorts of wonderful things like tangy lime juice and spicy roasted red jalapeno.

In short, it’s the perfect vehicle for adorning your sweet grilled corn with the best possible combination of ingredients. So stop hating on mayonnaise and make yourself some Elote, ASAP. Continue reading

July 28, 2014

Grape Leaf Potato Salad

Grape Leaf Potato Salad

If you – like me – love potato salad but are tired of the same old spices and heavy mayonnaise base, then boy do I have the dish for you.

This potato salad was inspired by a jar of grape leaves that I’ve had sitting in my refrigerator ever since I made dolmas a few months ago. I’d been brainstorming different ways to incorporate the leaves into a new, creative dish when I finally thought up this potato salad for the Fourth of July.

The grape leaves are more subtle than you might imagine if stuffed dolmas are your point of reference, but they do impart a unique finish to this potato salad. Paired with robust oregano and finished off with a tangy dressing that’s just the right amount of creamy, the flavors are assertive without being overpowering.

The addition of cucumbers provides a wonderful crunch that is often missing from more traditional versions – or is otherwise filled by celery, which can overpower other more mild ingredients. The little bursts of refreshment make this the perfect dish for a hot summer days! Continue reading

July 18, 2014

Chipotle Grilled Corn

 

Chipotle Grilled Corn

What’s the best way to beat the heat? Sometimes you just have to fight fire with fire. And by “fire,” I mean this Chipotle Grilled Corn.

This corn the cob is the first in what’s sure to be a long string of grilling-related recipes, as I finally purchased my very own grill a few weeks ago. Although you can emulate some of the mechanics of a grill by using the broil function of your oven, I don’t believe there is a real substitute for freshly grilled meats and vegetables. Grabbing a small grill off craigslist or making friends with your neighbors who have one is highly recommended.

As for this recipe, it really couldn’t be simpler once you have the right equipment. At just four ingredients, it definitely qualifies as a cheat dish. I promise that you won’t feel cheated at all by the wonderful union of sweet and heat that you bite into though.

This recipe is a perfect example. A proper searing on the grill brings caramelizes the outer layer of the corn, bringing out it’s natural sweetness. It’s paired with out the smokey and devilishly spicy flavor of the chipotle pepper and tamed just so by creaminess of the butter to make for an easy, delicious side.

Serve these bad boys up with some carne asada or barbecued chicken and enjoy with some sangria. You could even invite over some friends – assuming you’re willing to share. Continue reading

July 5, 2014

The Bracket is Mightier III: A Game of Beers

7:13 update – We have a victor! The Delirium Tremens is the official champion of the third annual(ish) beer bracket. Congratulations to Zach, who entered the DT!

IMG_3762 Continue reading

June 30, 2014

The Pint is Mightier: Standard Brewing

(Beer Connoisseur Eric Peters contributed to this post)

Last time we took it easy, getting back into the swing of things with a Pint is Mightier trip to Reuben’s Brews. Didn’t want to pull any beer-drinking muscles after so long without a brewery review.

This time though, we really came out swinging.

In our most expansive review to date, we covered four beers each at Standard Brewing, the Central District’s first craft brewery. Aided by the fact that Standard is a mere three blocks from Eric’s house and thus not requiring a car to get to, we dove mouth-first into the beers proffered by one of the new kids on Seattle’s brewery block. With a jewel of an outdoor area and a broad selection of beers ranging from old standbys to unique treats, this is absolutely worth a trip (walking recommended).

Standard Brewing

Standard Brewing

Quinn’s first beer – West Coast IPA (3.5/5 caps on Untappd)

With a golden profile and an excellent hop aroma, I was excited to start my review of Standard with the West Coast IPA. The flavor was heavy on hops, but not in a way that was excessive or unpleasant. The blend of bitter and citrus notes was well done, although it lacked a bit in complexity. In short, the West Coast was a quintessential (see what I did there?) Pacific Northwest IPA. It wasn’t the best of it’s style that I’ve had, but it’s well-crafted and enjoyable nonetheless. Continue reading

June 23, 2014

The Great Green Pizza

The Great Green Pizza

If chlorophyll could turn you green, then this pizza would make you into the incredible hulk. A happy, satiated hulk that is very content with his/her dining decision.

The peas and asparagus on this pizza retain just enough of natural crunch to provide a nice textural contrast while developing a faint sweetness under the heat of the oven. The roasted green onions bring a mild but noticeable flavor that winds up somewhere between biting onion and soothing vegetable. Combined with creamy mozzarella and sharp, salty parmesan cheese against a backdrop of aromatic pesto makes this a delicious and multi-dimensional dish.

With a light sauce, veg-heavy toppings and just the right amount of cheese, this pizza is perfect for the warm summer months. Find yourself a park or a patio and enjoy while you soak up the rays! Continue reading

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