28 September 2009

Wish List

Admittedly, I'm a little kitchen appliance crazy. First it was the Kitchen Aid mixer (love you!). Then it was the Cuisinart food processor (I hardly know you, and yet also love you!). This week it was the yogurt maker (thank you, Holly!) but now... its the Thermomix. I don't understand how it works, but it is clearly the best thing ever. First of all, everyone in Spain uses them. Second of all, its a food processor, a blender, a mixer, a scale and a COOKER all in one! You can make entire complicated meals all in one vessel. It weighs the food for you, it toasts breadcrumbs and stirs risottos, it blends ice into snow and you never need to touch measuring spoons or dishes again.

I mean, I like measuring spoons and dishes, but come on! This thing sounds so amazing! Upon reading about it, I have been shaken to the very core. I feel that it is not fair that I don't live in Europe, and am mad that America doesn't prioritize cooking the way Europeans do. Take me for example. Why do I not have:

A selection of sherry's and vermouth's on hand, always, for cooking and drinking?
A Thermomix?
A rich national history (like, centuries) of culinary accomplishments?
A working knowledge of the metric system (baking by weight is so much easier! Why didn't we just go with it?)

Ok, I'll stop. Im feeling a little jealous of Spain today, but it is not productive. It's just that...I just want to make this one recipe, and its in spanish and uses weight measurements and I'm VERY FRUSTRATED. I will carry on, and also make bread. I will also, some day, own a Thermomix.

Wish me luck.

Yogurt: A Success

I tried again, this time with raw goats milk and with only 2 tablespoons of starter. This batch is a bit thin, but very delicious. It is silky and bright tasting, with a tiny cream top. I am going to try again with the suggested spoonful of powdered milk (even though that seems weird and I don't want to do it) and then again using greek or icelandic yogurt as a starter to see if thick starter makes thick yogurt. Any suggestions?

27 September 2009

Yogurt: A Failure

I tried to make yogurt, and I fucked it up big time. It came out curdled and watery. I think I added too much starter to the milk, and I don't have a thermometer to get exact temperatures. Heres how I did it:

1 quart whole milk, 1/2 cup plain yogurt. I heated the milk until it nearly boiled, let it cool down until it was just a little warm. Then I added the yogurt (it was too much- I'm sure of it now) and put it in the yogurt maker. 8 hours later- watery. 12 hours later, watery. 20 hours later, watery. 24 hours later, I'm trying again. This time I'm only adding 2 tablespoons of yogurt as a starter, and I brought the milk very briefly to a boil.

We'll see.

23 September 2009

Pink Martini

So only the tin cup is pink. The rest is just a perfect martini.

3 parts Ciroc vodka
1 part Dolin dry vermouth
lots of ice
a righteous lemon twist

Stir well and serve in a frosty tin cup, preferably pink.

Homemade Pasta

As I am now the proud owner of a food processor, I wanted to start trying recipes immediately. The very first thing I did was push a lemon through the slicer, just for fun. Then I moved on to something a little more complicated- pasta. I got my recipe from James Beard's book Beard On Pasta as it is specifically for a food processor. It is so easy. Flour, eggs, oil and salt. I don't have a pasta roller and that was the only thing that slowed us down, but even rolling it by hand wasn't very difficult. I also was lucky enough to have an assistant, Lauren, to do most of the sweaty labor. The results were predictably fantastic- fresh pasta really is the best. We also made pesto with purple basil from the back yard.

Food Processor Pasta
Adapted from James Beard "Beard on Pasta"

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon olive oil

For this recipe, use the metal blade attachment. Put flour and salt in the food processor work bowl. In a small bowl to the side, whisk olive oil and water. Feed this mixture into the food processor while it is turned on. If it is dry and not forming into a ball, add water just one drop at a time. You should not need very much at all. Once it forms into a ball, remove it from the f.p. and knead it for 5 minutes. I used my standing mixer for this, just to really geek out on my kitchen appliances. After kneading, wrap in plastic and chill for 1/2 hour or more. Then, roll it with your hand crank pasta roller, your kitchenaid attachment (lucky) or by hand, like me! We wanted wide ribbon noodles, but you can cut your pasta in whatever shape you'd like. Next I will make Jacky shaped pasta.

22 September 2009

Hot Dog Bar

Saturday night we had a bar themed meal! Hot dog bar! Jon's homemade fermented pickles, aoli, yellow mustard, apple and cabbage slaw, and toasted buns. We also had apples and honey to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. We were running a dessert special at the restaurant that night and when it was all said and done I made sure to remind them that they had "promised me a dessert". This was just not true. But, blame it on my attractive waitress clogs, I got what I wanted! Vanilla bean yogurt panna cotta with fresh berries and whipped cream SERVED IN A WINE GLASS! I often feel that foods served in fancy glass wear is a little tacky, but this was anything but. It was like I was a fairy princess eating out of a dew drop. I shared with Holly despite my strong urges to eat it in the mop closet, alone and frantic, and in the end it was better that way. It was a big dessert.

Grains & Butter are Perfect

I'm reading this book called "Nourishing Traditions" that is all about eating traditional foods for health rather than stylish "low-fat" "health" foods. I won't get into it too much, unless you call me and then I will blabber in your ear for a looong time all about it, but essentially this book explains that butter is a perfect food that is easily digested and should not be feared. And that is why this is my new favorite book. This lady loves natural animal fats of all kinds, and fermented foods and drinks (AKA duck fat, full fat yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha, to name a few). These are the things I love! Give me a drink with some weird cloudy stands floating in it and I'll be happy as a clam.

I have always felt that butter just HAS to be good for you, and now I have found someone who is on my side. My grandmother is not afraid of butter. If she is going to have a piece of toast, she is going to have a nice thick spread of butter along with it. She is my hero, my inspiration, my role model, and so it makes sense that we both connect over a nice stick of real butter.

But anyway. The other thing this book reminds us all to eat is whole grains. I love me some grains, and I can't stop eating them lately. Last night I made mujadara. I could have sworn I wrote about making it a while back but I can't find the post. Mujadara is one of my favorite vegetarian dishes. It is made with rice, lentils and caramelized onions. I make mine with wheat berries instead of rice, and serve it with feta cheese and lemon juice. Last night I ate it with tomatoes and bitter greens right out of the back yard.

For today's grainy delight, I made granola. I could eat granola every day, and from now on I probably will. Here is my recipe, full of grains and joy.


2 cups organic steel cut oats
1 cup organic rye flakes
1/2 cup coconut flakes
3 T flaxseeds
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup almond slivers
1/3 cup dried cherries

3/4 cup raw agave
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamom

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients and spices in a small bowl, and then pour over the granola mix. Stir very well and spread on a large baking sheet. I baked mine in a large braising pan so that I could stir it. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, stirring often at the end. This stuff burns quickly and easily, so be careful.

21 September 2009

Camp Food

Our first night of camping, when it was just Kevin and I, we failed big time with dinner. We planned on making borscht. Cabbage, potatoes, beets, beef, sour cream and pimenton all sounded like a recipe for success, and especially when a few aspic cubes were tossed into the mix. Well... we got to our camp site late. By the time we were cooking it was dark, and by 9:30 we were STARVING. We could not let it cook any longer, despite the fact that we knew that the dish needs time. It was not good. Overly salted, under cooked. The beef tasted horribly beefy and did not "fall apart". The beets were so earthy and sweet that it gave me the creeps. It was bad, and there was a lot of it. Next!
Thank god our friends Nic and Topher came to save us on Friday night. They brought with them salmon and potatoes, corn with cotija, kale and bread. Nic cooked the salmon on corn husks that he pained with mustard. As the husks burned off, the mustard adhered to the salmon skin creating a toasty mustard crust. Give me a break. The potatoes were cooked in a packet with tons of garlic and oil. The greens we cooked in a dutch oven with lemon juice and salt, and the smoke from the fire made them extra special.

It was a great trip. On our second day the sun came out and we frolicked along the river and even went for an invigorating midday skinny-dip (twice! Notice my cold dead face in the last photo- I call it freezing victory.) and the dogs were happy to run around and get dirtier than usual. They love to sleep in a tent, and Jacky loves to sleep in my sleeping bag with me.
The stars were unbelievable. We all laughed about how dumb people are and how we all always say the same dumb stuff when confronted with the night sky, but then we took a walk and looked at the stars and we all exclaimed "we're so small..." and "there's gotta be life out there...". We are so predictable.

Back in Portland I am anxiously waiting for my cuisinart to be delivered. Pesto!

16 September 2009

Salads For Kisses

Fresh out of the garden, my first lettuces. Like lambs ears, or Jacky's when they are clean- warm and soft. With black krim tomatoes and lettuce both warm from the sun, a perfect avacado and french sheep's milk feta; my favorite big salad yet.
Whenever Kevin asks me what I want for dinner, he usually answers with me, mockingly, "umm... a big salad?"
I was so thrilled with this one, the one that helped me make it through another double, that I left him one for when he got home from work with a love note in the fridge. He did not find it- he was still focused on the perfect potato salad from a few days ago- until morning. Guess what was for breakfast?

Eating greens right out of the garden makes me feel like I am injecting vitamins and health directly into my bloodstream. I also get this feeling when drinking Dewars Old Fashioned's. Just sayin.

I'll be "away from my desk*" for a few glorious days, camping and eating. Meal planning started today, with helpful suggestions/opinions from me like "there's always fruit roll-ups" and "no".

On the menu:
Thursday: Undecided, Something with meat on a stick
Friday: Snacks from Packets, Dinner Packets, After Dinner Snacks from Packets, Dessert in Packets
Saturday: Fancy Breakfast with hemp milk (sick) (no)

Liquor list: Bourbon. Tequila. Scotch. Campari.

Obviously we are totally unprepared and overly excited about making fires while drinking dirty cocktails. My new flair for scotch just can't be good! Housecoats and cigarette holders here I come. I always thought it would be vermouth to throw me in with that camp but now I wonder.
Photos, interviews, exclusive details to come!!!!

*I work exclusively from bed.

14 September 2009

Potato Salad; The Rule Of 2

Make this. It is so good. The homemade mayonnaise is essential to the recipe as its lemony, olivey goodness is the best part, and the pickles send it over the top.

2 lbs potatoes, cooked, cooled, cubed. (I like mine pretty firm)
2 cups homemade mayonnaise
2 dill pickles, chopped
2 eggs, hardboiled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 springs of parsley

Combine. Chill. Eat.

13 September 2009

Family Brunch

Who invited the little lion?

11 September 2009

Nap Time

Service Industry Fun

Last night, a man off the street walked up to one of our tables and started yelling at our customers about how people should not dye dogs' hair. These people did not have a dog, or hair dye from what I could tell, and they were naturally confused. We tried to politely usher him away, and he got very angry and called us some mean names. Our feelings were hurt, we felt bad for our customers, and I wondered what got him thinking about dyed dog hair.

I mean, I agree with him- dye, no. Tattoos, yes. I also think: Grown women do not belong on razor scooters, Peonies are not out of style (as the lady at the plant store told me today, bitch), and Pine State Biscuits should deliver.

I wonder what else that guy thinks about and yells at people for??

This Was Not My Idea

I know, EEWWWW!!!

But seriously, I am so excited about what you are looking at here. It's aspic (and a lot of fat and bits stuck to the sides of the pot), and then it's aspic in ice cube trays. Horray!
"But why?", You might be wondering.

I'll tell you why. My friend and Captain, Sous Chef Will gave me this idea. I made the aspic by accident. I was making a stock with the lamb and duck bones from the cassoulet, and did not have time to make an actual soup with the stock. So I put it in the fridge, and the next day it was a meat jelly (apparently this means I did a good job and used really great hearty bones.) But then another day passed and I started to worry that my meat jelly would go to waste, and so I asked Will what to do. He suggested that I put the aspic in ice cube trays, freeze it, remove the cubes from the tray and put them into a plastic bag for easy frozen storage. And then, whenever I am making fancy sauce or whatever I can just take a few cubes out and I'm ready to go! This is so exciting to me that I almost have butterflies over aspic cubes. Or I drank too much coffee. Either way- I am thrilled.

10 September 2009

From The Garden

The race is on- will I cook these beets or allow them to wilt away in the crisper for weeks? OR, will I both let them wilt away in the crisper AND THEN cook them?

God knows I love questionable food.

It's What's For Lunch

With my fancy mayonnaise I made a delicious lunch salad. Here is the recipe:

Chickpea Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Tuna
1 can chickpeas
1 can tuna
1 large heirloom tomato (black krim)
5 sprigs of parsley
1/4 cup homemade mayonnaise, maybe more, maybe less (depends on how nuts you are)
s+p to taste

Rinse and drain chickpeas and tuna. Mix with mayonnaise. Chop up parsley and tomato, combine with tuna and chickpeas. Mix in salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread!

I can't decide what to do with the rest of the mayonnaise- maybe a cake?

09 September 2009

Mayonnaise, Make Your Own

It's easy and not a little bit gross the way store bought mayo is- its silky, olivey, lemony, and somehow seems healthier even though it has a much thicker and more luxurious texture.

3 egg yolks
2 cups olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

It is important with this recipe that you use good olive oil. You can really taste it in the end, so if if sucks and/or is rancid, everyone will know and judge you.

Whip the yolks until they are creamy and light yellow, about 2 minutes. I used a whisk and sweated, out of breath, whilst standing right next to my standing mixer. Why? Because I'm intense like that. Whisk in lemon juice and salt. Add a few drops of oil and beat it like mad. Then a few more drops. Then a few more. Then, go for it. Add big splashes of oil, whisking the whole while. I added a little more juice and salt (to taste) for flair at the end. There you have it! Store it in a cute jar for a week. Have you ever seen a more perfect shade of yellow?


All the work was worth it. Even the part when I was trying to rip one of the duck's legs off and I grabbed its neck and a trapped air bubble qucked out. Even when I was pulling tendons out of the braised and very hot lamb shanks and they snapped like rubber bands.

Yes, it was worth it, because cassoulet is by far the most delicious dish ever.

The beans, velvety. The meats, tender and just gamey enough. The crumb layer, crisp and full of butter. Thank you Julia!

I did accidentally drink a whole bottle of champagne during dinner and so I don't remember dessert. But it looks good, doesn't it???

08 September 2009

Another Day, Another Pie

I apologize in advance.

I hate to do it, but I'm going to have to launch into a server rant about a hot new trend. And I know that it might not go over very well because my best friend (I love you!) falls into this heading, and I know some of these people are legit, maybe even her, but not most people, so here I go...

"Gluten Allergies". How is it that over the past 3 months every other table I wait on has at least one "gluten allergy"? I mean, I get it, a working knowledge of food science vocabulary is exciting. Its like loving sauce! It's broad, vague and yet specific! It implies a certain amount of self awareness and knowledge about the fact that what you put into your body has an impact on how your body feels. And that's cool. But, really? Really really? Celiac disease exists, I would be mean and crazy to try to deny it, but I just wonder when it became contagious! I hope I don't catch it by sharing used tattoo needles or a drinking out of someone else's water glass!

It drives me insane because there are so many faces of "gluten allergies"- there are the dieters who don't want to say they are just on a diet and so they medicalize it to make it sound more legitimate, there are the new age-y types who follow every food fear trend, the self important self diagnosers who like to show off, and then there are a few people who really are celiac's and they carry around a card that explains their medical condition AND, what's more important, is they call ahead and leave information with their reservation explaining that they might need a few special allowances.

Seriously, I don't think having a little gas and or a stomach ache is that big of a deal. I get those things too, but I would rather have them than either a. find out I have an actual allergy and have to change my eating habits or b. make a big deal about it and make other people treat me differently. Is it the gluten or is it the 4 cocktails you just drank that will make you feel like shit in the morning?

These gluten people are almost worse than vegans. They don't plan ahead but expect restaurants to bend over backwards to make adjustments to the menu for them at 8 pm on a Saturday. And then wonder why it takes a long time. This has become such a problem at my restaurant that we are having a meeting this week to specifically address it! And, there are dishes on our menu that don't have gluten in them- but these people don't want those ones. They want the ones with the gluten but special for them, without the gluten. My favorite part is when they make this special request, we run around like crazy to accommodate them, they remind me of their importance every time I get to their table "now, this is gluten free, riiiight?", but then when dessert gets to the table they "indulge!!!" and have some fucking cake! NOT ON MY WATCH! GLUTEN! I never want to speak of you again!

Everything in moderation, as my grandmother always says. If you have an imaginary or real allergy, please call ahead and we would be happy to "indulge!!!" you.

07 September 2009

Life Plans

I'm sorry there is a stupid ad in the screen, but this was one of my favorite scenes from the movie. I can relate so closely to how she feels!

Estate Sale Sneakery

Kevin and I stopped at an estate sale in our neighborhood because we are sick and obsessed. It was one of the weirdest yet, which is saying something.


I was digging through their weird and horrible cookbooks (looking for Mastering the Art of French Cooking) when I stumbled upon James Beard's Theory & Practice of Good Cooking. I just finished reading the Tenth Muse by Judith Jones and so I have been thinking a lot about him- his talent and eccentricities. I was flipping through it when I noticed that there on the first page it was SIGNED! I slammed the book shut and asked how much. 50 cents later and it was mine!
I do love getting change back at an estate sale.

The book is full of funny explanations and opinions like this one: "I'm always astounded by the number of people who say they don't like or have never eaten rabbit. They are to be pitied." Pitied! I agree.
I plan on trying a few of his recipes, but I am especially interested in making bread. I will next attempt to acquire Beard On Bread.

Anyway, I am a lucky girl indeed.

A Whole Duck

I got a whole duck from work on saturday night, beak, eyes, paws, flippers and all. It is soooo cute and now different parts of its body are allll over my kitchen. First, its head, spine, and ribcage were dismantled and roasted in the oven( I am a terrible butcher, by the way. It took 4 knives and a lot of ripping for me to get everything apart). Toasted bones make a great stock.
Meanwhile, the breasts have been wrapped and are now relaxing in the freezer until further notice with a pound of awesome ground beef that I changed my mind about for tonight's dinner. The legs and wangs are in the oven after being pan seared, and are nestled in around 4 pounds of lamb shanks, onions, garlic, herbs, tomato sauce and cabernet.
The skin is boiling on the stove in order to render of some fat that I can eat with a spoon during dark moments.

What ever am I up to?

Well... I saw Julie and Julia on Saturday morning with Kevin and Shane and we (I) cried through the whole movie. I loved it! And, just like everyone else who saw it, I remembered how amazing Julia Child was and rushed to get a copy of MtAoFC (and wished I went to a private cooking school in Paris). Naturally, every (every) book store in Portland is sold out! It was kind of embarrassing to ask for it today, as I knew all kinds of yahoos have been searching for it just because of the movie. I'm just sad that I didn't already have a copy.
You see, I already made plans and invited everyone over to have Pate de canard en croute tonight. But then I couldn't find the book this morning. I already had the duck, the beef and the pork for the filling, I just needed the recipe and a trussing needle!
So anyway. It was not meant to happen today. I did find a copy of Julia Child & More Company though, and decided to make a cassoulet. I tracked down four pounds of lamb shanks and some navy beans, and now everything is cooking.

I had never butchered a duck before today- it is much harder than they make it look at my job. I will post photos later of the process and the results. In the mean time, go see that movie!

03 September 2009

Oregon State Fair (= bad behavior)

We made a pilgrimage to the Oregon State Fair on Tuesday. Heres what we consumed:

1 Mount St. Helens of Twirly Fries (real name)
5 hand dipped corn dogs
1 non hand dipped corn dog
1 regular hot dog
1 notdog
1 elephant ear
2 ears of corn (1 dipped in butter froth)
1 frozen strawberry lemonade
1 giant diet coke

Probably other things too but it's too upsetting to remember. Because... after all of that, my friend Nic and I decided to go on a ride! None of our friends or boyfriends would agree to go with us, and we didn't understand why until we got on the ride and it started swirling us around, as if in an effort to kill us! It was the worst minute of my life! We cried and begged to be let off, screaming "WE REGRET IT!" and "MAKE IT STOP!". The elephant ear really made my experience horrible. I'm surprised I didn't barf, though it probably would have been a relief. Do you see the photo up there that is a violent blur of light and pain? That's us, drooling and squeezing our eyes shut. When we got off the ride, our friends

Other highlights of the fair included looking at the gift basket, scrapbook, table setting, and cake decorating competition exhibits. I am tempted to enter the gift basket competition next year. I'd like to say it would be an easy win but you know how gift basketeers are- mean and competitive.

Also I saw some pygmy goats and am 100% positive that I want two. So next spring, get ready for goat mayhem.