Saturday, December 27, 2008

quince parfait, seattle snow job and more

I have neglected you little blog, through the holidays, but I've been busy cooking and eating. Time for catch up in list form:

1) I returned home from a trip with over 6# or quince, so after they scented my fridge with the most mouthwatering smell (I do suggest using a quince over baking soda!), I peeled, cored and cooked them to soft perfection in sugar syrup (1:1, water:sugar or honey), strained that off and reserved it for later, cooked the quince down to mush and pureed it. Then there sits the quince paste in the fridge, waiting to be spread on rosemary toast and made into QUINCE PARFAIT. To be fair it's bastardized version of a dessert in a Gerard Hirigoyen cookbook- The Basque Kitchen.

Dunk ladyfingers in the quince syrup very briefly (you could add a little dessert white wine to the syrup to give the dish kick) and put down a single layer in a ramekin, layer on quince paste, repeat and then top with a mixture of barely sweetened goat cheese and heavy cream (it should be the consistency of think oatmeal), Then top that with caramelized pinenuts. To pretty it up when you serve it, sprinkle a little powdered sugar.

2) That leftover quince syrup is delicious mixed with Rye Whiskey and serve on the rocks in a highball... start at 1:1 and then let the booze and the sweet duke it out according to your palate. We found the ptcher of the stuff jelled up, so I cut the drinks with a tad of citrus to thin. I used orange, lemon and lime juice all separately with equally delicious results.

3) Speaking of drinks, I invented another one- THE SEATTLE SNOW JOB, in honor of our recent, brief Ice Age. It sounds very much like we're about to move overseas, can't take our booze with us and are getting very creative with our cocktails... well, that's how it happens isn't it?
Seattle Snow Job
1 oz Orange Rhum or Brandy
1 oz Plum Eau de Vie (Clear Creek Distillery Mirabelle is what I used)
1 oz Benedictine
.5 oz Almond Syrup
1.25 oz heavy cream

Shake copiously with ice and serve up. Garnish with fresh grated nutmeg or grated, toasted almond. Repeat for extra cheer.

4) Remember that Lamb I had to butcher in our sink? Well, with Sean gone to London last week, and him being the primary lamb vetoer, I decided to defrost that neck and make some stew, which became Lamb Tagine due to the excessive amount of prune, date and onion I had in the pantry. Plus it didn't hurt that I have homemade Ras al Hanout on the spice rack and I don't plan to move my spices either. So Lamb Tagine over cous cous was on the menu for Emily and I for a delicious lunch the day after my brilliant idea. It was delicious. My only regret was taht I didn't add any pepper to make it more spanky. Of well, there are many lambs in my future.

5) We had an excellent grass fed, Oregon beef standing rib roast for Christmas. I would go out on a limb and say it was the best standing rib roast I have ever had. Not the beef from Whole Foods we had last year which made me frown and shae my fist at those Whole Foods bastards; this was tender and flavorful and the crust was amazing (a mixture of rosemary, fresh black pepper and Maldon Sea Salt, all mixed up with dijon mustard and slathered on think just before searing in a super hot oven). Maybe the new stove made a difference, too.

6) Of course the best part of prime rib is the sandwiches made from the leftovers. Okay, maybe we don't have to say what the best part is, but if I made a prime rib and didn't have leftovers like this, I would be reduced to tears...
I took a roasted garlic loaf from La Brea Bakery, cut it in half horizontally, cored out he soft stuff and filled it with Eggplant braised with Tomato and Chili Pepper, mayo and thin slices of the prime rib. Ate them a few hours later on the road. Perfection.

7) Holiday baking and Holiday Bacon! Mustard Seed and Cheddar Crackers in abundance chez nous, Cornmeal Thumbprint Cookies filled with Ginger Jam, Gingerbread Reindeer, Cinnamon Chocolate Eggnog and of course, some bacon from Monteillet!

Okay, gotta go out there and eat some more food, we're in Portland after all! At the vey least I'm having some canelles from Ken's Artisan Bakery.
Eat well!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Department of Food and delicious quince

I just got an email from a good chef friend in SF linking me to a very good Op-Ed piece in the NY Times, which had me whooping along in agreement by the end:

Please read it and if you agree think about signing that petition...

Not since Carter did I feel so hopeful (okay, I was only 10 by the time his presidency ended, but he is the only Prez to get the nobel peace prize after all) about a president and therefore about our ability to be involved in what goes on in Washington.

Wouldn't it be great to see less money going to the production of high fructose corn syrup and other things on labels that make me put foods back on the shelves and make it myself (not that you could stop me from cooking).

Just one fun note/suggestion: maybe they could call this person the Food Czar?

Okay, now off my soap box and onto the food.

I spoke with my friend Matthew last night about a delicious cocktail he made using poaching syrup he had cooked some quince in. What he made the quince into is a whole other mouthwatering topic... I just happened to have a 6 pound bag of quince in the fridge, brought back fresh from Dayton after Thanksgiving. So now I have my own quart of poaching syrup, ready for the bottle of Rye and some curious drinkers at the ready. Perhaps Matthew, you could send me some more specifics on the drink.

One more thing I'm eating these days- Cuban Roast sandwich and corn from Paseo. I will miss these in London.

That's all for today. I'll post the skinny on that quince again soon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

what I've been eating

Well, all that frenzy at first and then just no posts for almost a month. But what a month. Confirmation we'll be moving to London for a few years (more on that later), colds all around for everyone, a trip out to Waitsburg/Walla Walla/Dayton/Milton Freewater for Thanksgiving... So now in the spirit of catching up, and en homage to Nick Hornby's regular "What I'm Reading" column in the Believer, here's an overview of what's been in our fridge, cooked in our oven, seared on our stovetop, purchased in restaurants and on the street, etc etc etc.

1. Freshest of the fresh lamb. From our friend's farm out in Dayton- Monteillet. Sure they make the best cheese I've ever had in the US, but they also raise animals for meat. And what wonderful meat. Joan called me on a Monday and by that night I had a group of us putting in a very hefty order. One whole lamb, 4 pork shoulders, 5 chickens, some eggs and pounds and pounds of cheese later, I'm out in front of Tilth in Wallingford transferring food from cooler to cooler, money changing hands under the cover of night. Such a wholesome activity, but something felt very sneaky about it all, like we were in on some kind of secret no one else was to know. Of course, that small group of us got in on some things you can only get in some of the nicer restaurants in Seattle get, the ones who are committed to local eating. Final page in this story comes with a picture. I got home and pulled out the lamb for divying and lo and behold it was in only 3 pieces. So I had to polish up on butchering 101, using my sterilized sink as a prep area and very happily carving with my boning knife. I managed to make sense of it all, the ribs, the saddle, the shanks, etc...
2. Handmade Buckwheat Noodles with Preserved Gourd and soft Tofu. Topped with that lovely bright red Korean Hot Pepper paste or Ponzu or those crazy msg laden nori/bonito/sesame seed packets they make in Japan.
3. Well, it's a drink, but Presbyterians.
4. Petit Noirs confections, far more caffeine and sugar than I should have at night. I should curse Lan for being so dang talented but instead I praise her highly. Best toffee I've ever had in my life. Go there. Buy things. Don't worry about the shipping charges, they're worth it. Buy lots, because it goes so fast!
5. Monteillet cheese. I'm out of Larzac and craving more. Soon we'll be living just 2 hours from Paris and loads of this great cheese, minutes from Neal's Yard, just a few hours from Roquefort... but now, right now, I want some Larzac on a wheat cracker. Mmmm...
6. Squash. Acorn, butternut, delicata, kabocha. Tis the season. I think my fingertips are beginning to go orange.
7. Hibiscus Tea. I know, it's a drink.
8. This lovely citrus salad. With Cara Cara Oranges, Grapefruit, Lime, Cucumber, Fennel, Capers and copious Olive Oil. Winter olive oil is best. And a liberal sprinkling of fleur de sel. Slice all hard things very, very thin, wafer thin. Section the citrus so it is pulp only, arrange and drizzle oil and salt. A crank of pepper et le voila! Perfect.
9. Nuts. Holiday time, you have to have a bowl of unshelled ones out, don't you?
10. Vanilla confiture. Left by our friend Anne who has moved to London ahead of us. Wonderful on complex cheeses. Then again it could be delightful on Petit Basque. Mmmm...
11. Duck legs on Yellow Eyed peas.
12. Homemade Blueberry preserves sweetened with honey from our friends at Monteillet again.
13. And I will be eating soon- a gratin of dried Matsutakes (foraged by a friend's folks) and cauliflower.
I'll leave it at 13. My lucky number. I'm not totally caught up, and I'll try to be better about my posts. Aaah, life.