30 January 2009

Almond Blossoms

You lucky devil's. I'm going to give you one of my favorite dessert recipes that my Auntie Jorden sent to me. She warned me to give Amanda Hesser credit because it was her recipe originally. In my mind it is a Cook family recipe, but thanks to Amanda anyway. We would have come up with it, given time.

She means it when she says don't go over the one hour mark- the key to this cake is that it is a little underdone. I checked the cake at the 55 minute mark and it seemed to be RAW on the inside, so I blasted it at 370 degrees for the last five minutes- a big mistake. Though you might not believe it, the cake will firm up as it cools and have a tender almondy texture- if you don't overcook it. If you do, it's just a regular, delicious almond cake. It lacks magic. So don't make the mistake I did!

I am sorry for the lack of posts lately. I wanted to write about Sunday, because it was nuts, but due to some family stuff I didn't feel it was right. I feel like making light of the situation today, so I will tell you.
We wanted to go wine tasting, but couldn't because everything was closed. We knew we had to do something fun to make up for the disappointment of not going tasting. It came to me in the shower that morning- Tad's Chicken and Dumplings. Tad's is an old person restaurant located on the shores of the Sandy River, and it rules. It is the kind of place where the moment you sit down they give you a platter of veggies with ranch dip and hot buns with butter. We ordered like crazy people- fried chicken, steak, halibut and extra dumplings (the size of large grapefruits) floating in gravy, and this was just lunch. Whisky poured from Kevin's flask into our iced tea, we screamed with laughter about all things inappropriate until the table next to us moved- in general, we caused a ruckus.
When we left we swore we wouldn't be able to eat for a week- so why not have a digestif at Clyde Common to take the edge off? You know where this is going. We went directly from our huge meal to another restaurant, where we ended up staying at until we felt we could eat another bite. We ended up moving from the bar to a table and eating pasta with wild boar, baby octopus with chorizo, pork rillette, and three desserts- rosemary creme brulee, chocolate and scotch icecream roulade and a meyer lemon tart. We're disgusting, horrible people.
I think it ended up being about 7 hours spent in the two restaurants- we barely saw the outdoors on Sunday. And it gets worse. Shane claimed to be driving us home but in fact he was driving us to a nearly empty strip club on Burnside. It was depressing, I won't go into detail except to say as we left a woman was getting on stage to dance to "Putting on the Ritz" by Taco. It was my friend Laura's first adventure with us since she has moved here- I can only imagine what she thinks of us.

I hope to have a fabulous staffmeal tonight- I will let you know.

23 January 2009

National Pie Day

I'd like to bake a pie for the holiday, but as Dave pointed out, why the fuck does this special day fall in January? Does it look like I have piles of fruit laying around, begging to be baked? No. Piles of dog hair, yes, but berries and peaches and all of the wonders that make pie good, no.
The only pie that makes sense to me during these frigid, fruitless months is lemon meringue with lemons from somewhere warm. It will go unmade for today, as I have to go to work shortly. The time that I could be spending making one of my favorite winter pies will be spent waiting on friday night assholes and pretending to love every minute of it.

The guilt of not making a pie today... It's heavy. Here is what appears to be a good lemon meringue recipe. Please- someone- make a pie today.

21 January 2009


Recipe Restoration

After attending Prospect 1 in New Orleans, we were very aware of how many artists lost their life's work in the storm. This article explains the experience of people losing their life's recipes to Katrina as well. Judy Walker (with the help of many others) put out a book of lost recipes called "Cooking Up A Storm" as an effort to save some of the culinary history that was already disappearing before the storm. It looks like an amazing book!


Way to go America! I'm actually proud of us. Obama is not just handsome but also seems to be a FUCKING POET.
In celebration, I made eggplant parmesan and had one hundred glasses of wine! It was joyful indeed. Jessika made homemade pasta (do I need to repeat part about the pasta being homemade? For real.), and Kevin made sure that everyone was drinking.
I'm sure that everyone knows how to make eggplant parmesan, but I'm going to share my recipe anyway. This is my mom's recipe plus lard, because I am a lard pervert and have to put animal fat in everything I cook.


2 eggplants
Lots of mozzarella, I like a combo of fresh and not fresh
one large can of Italian tomatoes or fresh ones if its summer (which it never is.)
5 cloves of garlic
panko bread crumbs
5 or so eggs
2 cups of flour
olive oil

Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick disks. Sprinkle with sea salt and let sit for 30 minutes or so. This helps pull out some of the water. Pat the slices dry and roll in egg. Then roll in flour. Then roll in panko. Fry in Olive oil or if you are smart fry in olive oil AND lard. This is the key, me thinks. Fry them until they are brown and wonderful. Layer the slices in a large casserole dish. Cover with the tomato sauce I forgot to mention you should be making (keep it simple- saute garlic in olive oil, add tomatoes and maybe a dash of sugar, simmer.). You might want to cover the bottom of the dish with the sauce as a base layer, but if you forget it will seep down during cooking anyway. Cover this beautiful mass with sliced mozzarella. I like to buy the firm mozzarella and slice that up for the top, but then I like to fill in the gaps with small balls of fresh mozzarella as well. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour, and serve over FRESH pasta. Or dry pasta. But if you have friends who are willing to make you fresh pasta, keep them around forever and make sure to invite them over on any Italian themed nights.

19 January 2009

The Weirdest Customer Yet

Saturday night was WEIRD. I expect Saturdays to be full of people who go out to dinner once a month, fear the menu and despise the staff. This one wasn't much different, except there were way more weirdo's prowling. Where did you come from, Saturday night Aliens? Let me explain. Five diners enter the restaurant. Older couple, younger lesbian couple, and then... this other person. We could not comprehend this wild card. She was really tall for a little kid, or really short for an adult. But which was she? She was indeed a Benjamin Button character but not hot like Brad Pitt (she was not even not-not hot*). She had crazy black curly hair with a creepy old person porkpie hat resting on the top, tiny little black eyes a-scowling, and a pink trench coat. She was spindly like an old person, but with the face of a horrible little child.

Holly was thrown by her as well, it wasn't just me being judgemental and mean as usual.

HOLLY: Would you like to wait at the bar while we get your table together... Wait a second, are you a weird old person or are you not even of age?
LITTLE WEIRDO: What do you mean, "of age" *picks nose*
HOLLY: Never mind... We'll hide you in a corner shortly...
LITTLE WEIRDO: Can I see the dessert menu please?

So, they sat down and I immediately regretted choosing the back section of the restaurant as my territory for the night. The only drink ordered: an amaretto sour. Who the hell, (besides Shane and I as of that moment,) orders an amaretto sour? Some day, I'm sure that little individual will. She drank nothing though. She did however order all of the biggest things on the menu. She might have weighed sixty five pounds and was probably 5' tall. I wondered where she planned on putting all that food, and it turned out she planned on cutting it all into tiny bits and scrabbling it up on the plate until it looked like puke and then not eating it. She didn't speak, and when her mother's birthday cheese plate arrived, her little claw darted out and she stole one of the three pieces of cheese on the plate. It was like watching a frog catch a fly with its tongue. She ate the cheese with blank beady eyes and chewed like a cow eating grass. It was horrible. I asked the mom how she felt about that little person stealing one third of her dessert in one foul swoop, and she laughed nervously. I'm glad its over now, but I don't think I'll ever get that blank stare out of my mind. What if she ruined manchego for me forever? BITCH!

Restaurants. Full of people having awkward social interactions. That's usually where I come in, filling hateful silences with mindless chatter about sweetbreads, interrupting passionate public make-out's with bad news about desserts. I do my best! I just couldn't bring myself to bail out that table.

*not hot/not-not hot is a game we invented in New Orleans. It basically asks the questions, would you sleep with them but never tell anyone (not-not hot) or would you not even let them buy you dinner (not hot)? (Another example of shallow, nasty behavior on my part. I blame Kevin.)

16 January 2009

for SHAME!

Last night we binged as we have never binged before (a bold faced lie, obviously). Shane, Kevin and I went out for some midnight snacks. Jalapeno hush puppies, spaetzle and a salami plate from the Victory, followed by a trip to the french fry cart for poutine (poutine being fries covered in gravy with cheese curds). Oh yes, and then we had ribs from the rib cart.
If you aren't already going to the food carts on 12th and Hawthorne for late night eating, get on it. You'll feel good about it in the morning.

14 January 2009


Back to food!

New Orleans has taken over my brain. I just finally finished reading Gumbo Tales by Sara Roahen, which is a book all about New Orleans food. My auntie sent it to me before my trip, and I read a few chapters before I left and became obsessed with gumbo. I continued reading while I was there, and then when I got home. Every chapter is devoted to a different food that is a part of life in NOLA- gumbo, po'boys, sno cones, oysters, et cetera. I love this writer because she is a woman who only regrets not being able to eat MORE. She loves food, loves the stories behind food, and talks about blacking out because of a po' boy. A girl after my own heart, she is. If she had a chapter on barfing after overdosing on fried soft shell crab, well, I would have to see her birth certificate.
Anyway. I woke up early on Monday morning and read her chapter on red beans and rice. It turns out that this dish is a Monday tradition in New Orleans. This was fate as it was Monday and I was hungry. I was not going to ignore fate as long as it included ham hocks and andouille. We already had plans to make maple bourbon pecan pies for Pine State thanks to inspiration from all the BBQ stops we made on our trip, so when we went to the store for pecans we got all the fixings for red beans and rice too.
You are supposed to make them on Mondays with the hock from Sunday night's ham. Fortunately, Pine State sells amazing southern style country ham and it was down to the bone. We had to pretend we were following tradition, but at least we had the right ingredients. As we made the pies (come try one at Pine State, they turned out well- look at that crust!), the beans soaked and we started cooking.
Red beans and rice are made with any number of pork products. We chose andouille, ham, tasso, bacon grease and bone marrow. Kevin cracked that ham bone with a hammer so that the glorious marrow would seep into the beans, adding to the creamy meatiness. You can see in the first photo that it started out as a thin, soup like creation. You can still make out the holy trinity and the individual beans. Three hours later, the next photo, it has cooked down and the beans have opened up and thickened the stew, and the vegetables have disappeared. The smell alone was worth the effort. I have to say, I think we had great success. I know that I will hear back later that I forgot an ingredient or something, but I think I should just move to New Orleans and have people believe that I've always been cooking this way. I am including the recipe I ended up using, after reading many and creating a composite.

Red Beans and Rice

One lb. red beans
2 links of andouille
1/4 lb. tasso
1 large ham hock with cracked bone
3 tablespoons bacon grease
1 bell pepper
5 sticks celery
1 yellow onion
7 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
1 tablespoon cayenne
3 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon pimenton
chopped green onions and parsley for garnish
3 cups Long grain white rice

Soak beans over night or quick soak them in simmering water for an hour or so (I'm sure this is not recommend but if you are irresponsible like me then you can count on this step.). Drain the beans and put them in a pot of boiling stock and water with the ham hock and the spices. Meanwhile, saute your meats in the bacon grease. Add them to the soup when they are nice and brown and tasty smelling. Leave the juices and grease in the pan. Chop the pepper, onion and celery up (your holy trinity) and sweat them out in the same pan. Add this to the soup as well when they achieve the level of doneness that you prefer- we let the onions cook until clear, but the celery and peppers were still a little bit crunchy. Now just let this soup cook for as long as you can stand it. Two hours is the minimum but all day long is tradition. If you have to rush things, smear about a quarter of the beans against the side of the pot while cooking to open them up and thicken the soup.
And of course, during the last 45 minutes of simmering, cook up some long grain white rice. You serve the beans on top of however much rice you prefer, with chopped green onions and parsley (which we forgot) as a garnish. You are also supposed to serve french bread and butter with this dish and Abita beer. You can find this beer in Portland! This recipe serves many people. Maybe ten? Even after 4 of us ate our weight in it on Monday night, we will still be eating only red beans and rice for the next week and not complaining.

10 January 2009

Estate sale

More Estate Sailing

Today Kevin and I went to two estate sales in North Portland. The mink oil was an especially good find on Kevin's part, I must say. There was one creepy lady at both sales who tried very hard to make friends at each of them. I heard her trying to make the same joke 4 or 5 times about the dolls that we ended up buying, but no one ever listened. Except for me of course- but I didn't let on. She kept holding them up and looking around and laughing awkwardly, saying "I wouldn't want to run into one of these in a dark alley at night!!!!!!!!!!"
Honestly I wouldn't want to either- and that's why we brought them home with us. What if this is the beginning of an extensive antique doll collection? Wouldn't everyone just love THAT.

05 January 2009


Sorry for all those words in the last post. Here are some photos for those of you who "hate reading".

03 January 2009


New Orleans, how I so miss you already.
The theme of our trip: Puke. Why is this so? I don't know. It only happened once, but still it was discussed, threatened, and deeply considered. The French Quarter smells like it- maybe that's how we got started. But for the rest of the trip it seemed to come up in every singe conversation. I'm pretty sure I was the one referencing it, and I was also the one who did it. It's true, I puked on new years eve. However- it was not alcohol induced. It was the result of eating deep-fried soft-shelled crab with onion rings and then following it up with.... single malt scotch gelato? What?!?!
Yes, I actually found a gelato place I can get behind. It's called La Divina and it's on Magazine street. They featured flavors like absinthe, sesame honey goat milk, pear Gorgonzola, ginger carrot marscarpone, avocado, red cream soda, pb&j, creole cream cheese, and bourbon pecan- to name a few. Not only were the flavors interesting, but they were also delicious. The totally dweeby counter boy and I geeked out about our mutual love of dairy products and the wacky things you can do with them. The gelato actually tasted like Italian gelato too. It ruled. But, only hours after happily accepting it into my heart I was puking crab skeletons on the hotel floor. Sad. Plus we had reservations for Herbsaint for that night. I laid in bed and wept for a few minutes and then picked myself up and said, Yes, I can go eat another 5 course meal! I will conquer this night!
Unfortunately, Herbsaint was kind of a hot mess. They were busy, yes, but it seemed like it was their first new years eve ever and they were seriously flailing around under the strain. And the Chef was drunk. This was not their first new years eve by a long shot however, and we were disappointed. A few things were good, I had an ox tail consomme that was tasty, and some hen with truffle something that was also good.
We spent the special midnight moment at Harrahs casino. Trashy, depressing and appropriate. What I learned there on that night was that in New Orleans, you don't have to wear pants. Throw on a tee shirt and some hose, (or not,) high heels, glitter, and fucking go out and have a good time! You can wear this look at night or day. Another good look is booty short zip up jump suits. I'm torn between which look I am going to introduce to Portland, but I'm pretty sure shirt-no-pants is already kind of hot here so I'm thinking I'll push for it.
Other great meals we had while we were there included: Lillette- we spent Kevin's birthday here and loved it. I had trout with leeks, Israeli couscous, and tons of garlic. This was my favorite plate of all time. We had awesome barbecue at a place by the prison called the Joint. I had ribs and macaroni and cheese. We ordered the whole menu and sat in the garden eating until we were paralyzed from the mouth down. We had pimms cups and muffulata's at the Napoleon house- I think this was my favorite bar. It was dark and old timey in the right way. We had drinks at the Columns hotel- this place is supposed to be old fashioned and cool but is actually a weird country club-like dive bar. We of course had bignets at Cafe Du Monde, and a kind of lame dinner at Cochon. I did not have a hurricane, but I did have lots of Abita beer which is the local brewery.
My favorite meal was gumbo z'herb. This is a gumbo that features tons of greens. You are supposed to cook it with an uneven number of greens for luck- and for every green you use, you get a new friend. We had this dish homemade at my families friend Macon's house. Macon has lived on the levee at river bend for 20 years. He built his house there and it is the coolest place ever. It is on stilts because the river rises very high a few times a year. Right now its pretty low, so there was a beach below the house. He has a goat that lives on their porch named Sweetpea, a cat named Shorty and a rabbit named Bun Bun. Macon made the gumbo with seven types of greens from his own garden and also blackeyed peas for new years. His lady Amy made whole wheat bread, and put out some of her families country ham. Everyone brought a pecan pie. It was a real treat to be invited into Macon's home for New Years, and this great feast.
We went straight from his house to the Maple Leaf bar, which is an old bar up in that neighborhood that has been there forever. We drank beer and played songs on the juke box.... I could go on and on.
I will mention that we witnessed an attempted robbery. A woman robbed a cab driver with plastic gun. He got out and fought her to get his money back. He pulled her shirt off during this struggle and we all learned that she was not wearing a bra. This was also conformation that she was in fact a female. We were all confused and told him to stop fighting her, but then he told us to call the cops on her. Then we were really confused. Anyway he got his money back, she ran off with one shoe, no shirt, and the cabby had a new lease on life. At least I hope so.
I want to go back to New Orleans when there isn't Sugar Bowl redneck bullshit going on. My stomach misses it there.