Wednesday, May 30, 2007

enraptured

breakfast at ferry terminal market.
lunch at the french laundry. 

Friday, May 18, 2007

redemption

When I was young, my mom was a hostess at Sizzler, and then Golden Corral, a Sizzler knock-off. We went there for "special occasions": report card time (my straight A's, my sister's straight C's), Mother's Day and Father's Day. My dad would always remind us not to fill up on the salad, save some room for the all-you-can-eat roast beef. I didn't develop a meat-tooth until much later in life, and I was obsessed with the salad bar. So many different kinds of things that we never had in our salads at home; I wondered if other people ate these kinds of things, and I just didn't know it: cubed ham, cubed pineapple, canned beets, 3-bean salads, and cottage cheese. After much experimentation, I discovered the perfect combination. A bed of spinach (the only green that can stand up to the weight of the other ingredients), cubes of boiled, pressed turkey, sliced, raw button mushrooms, hard-boiled eggs, baco-bits, sunflower seeds and croutons. Lots and lots of thick ranch dressing. I would eat two of those while the rest of my family stuffed their faces with baked potatoes and carved meat until they were sick. My very last meal with both of my grandparents was a Sizzler meal; a little filipina lady served up iced tea refills, and she reminded me of my mom (not present at the meal). My dad left no tip, and shrugged his shoulders when reminded of it.
"They get paid", was his reply. I thought of someone shorting my mom in the same situation, so I slipped $10 on the table when everyone was leaving.

After a week of disappointing meals: a blah $125 dinner at Union, Domino's Pizza, and crappy tartines, I craved a Sizzler salad, a meal that wouldn't disappoint. My newer, adult version of the Sizzler still contained the requisite spinach (now organic), sliced button mushrooms and sunflower seeds. I also added a perfectly ripe avocado, barely hard-boiled egg, crispy (fake) bacon and (fake) turkey, and slices of fresh tomato. I even made Hidden Valley ranch dressing from the pouch, adding Best Foods Mayo and (soy) milk. Lots of sea salt and fresh black pepper. I was afraid I went a little overboard, but the tomato and avocado made up for the crappy hippy substitutions. I'm eating another one tonight.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

more to life than meat

i talk about meat an offal lot. i really love meat. i want to raise it, kill it, butcher it, cook it and eat it. i want to be a part of the cycle of life. don't get me wrong, i'm not hating on the veggies. i spent the morning in the garden, planting tomato starts that have been flowering on my windowsill. i trying making like a bee and using a q-tip to pollinate the flowers, which may or may have not worked. between third and fourth grade, i spent summer in oklahoma "pollinating" my mom's vegetable garden, catching crawdads and playing with my pet catfish. seriously, i made my mom buy me a live catfish at the farmer's market. he lived in a kiddie pool with some bluegills i caught (mom used to take me fishing, too). i would dig night crawlers out of the compost pile to feed them, and taught the bluegills to jump out of the water for worms. i would put on "fish shows" at the family barbecues. (when i came back from camp, they had unlearned that particular skill.) i also caught tadpoles and kept them in the pool which my mom promptly pickled and jarred. good on sticky rice, she said, but i digress.

butter lettuce from our garden was the only lettuce other than iceberg i had ever tasted. i couldn't understand why they were so different, and why we couldn't have butter lettuce all the time. the thought of lettuce made of butter really appealed to me, but it's still my favorite lettuce (and on my menu right now). i haven't been to my garden in two weeks and it's out of control. favas and orca beans (my term, i think they're technically called calypso beans), radishes, spring onions, beets and huge heads of lettuce. the micro greens have turned to macro greens, due to neglect. and i planted the tomatoes, although it seems a little early. i'm really excited about the Mexican Midget tomato plant. i imagine it sprouting fat, juicy little luchadores. i guess my thought process hasn't changed much from lettuce made of butter...
i also planted Black Krim tomatoes. they make me think of a Yugoslavian woman in a babushka, picking tomatoes as dark as the black sea. and Beaver Dam peppers? just plain funny.
i've harvested beets, pounds and pounds of kale, snail-laden leeks and one beautiful head of cauliflower. i wish i had some chickens or quail. i wish i was a farmer.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

roast beef curtains

after reading angela's eat and tell about the whopper jr. and a recent discussion of arby's with a minnesotan friend of mine, i got to thinking. while i love a whopper, burger king's fries are a travesty. (i harbor a secret love of chicken fries, and sometimes flexcar to ballard when luke is at work to have some, with honey mustard, while publicly denouncing the bk advertisements that urge you to substitute the chicken for potato fries.) my perfect fast-food meal is arby's. it brings back memories of mom working late; dad would get the two-times the 5 for $5 sandwiches and we'd eat arby's for a week. i was oddly repulsed by the iridescent, slightly green-tinge of the meat(from the slicer, says my dad). the sweet, wonder bread bun would be steamy warm, soft and soaking with roast beef juice by the time we opened them at home.
when i was old enough to my own ordering, i tried the GIANT (double the meat), SUPER (tomatoes, lettuce, special sauce), Beef & Cheddar (onion bun, cheez sauce), but i always came back to that paragon of beef, the Regular. The double messes up the perfect meat to bread ratio. The super is superfluous. and cheez sauce? need i explain?
2 Regulars (2 packets of horsey, 1 of bbq sauce for each) and curly fries (ketchup and horsey sauce to dip). a medium orange soda; i've discovered orange soda is the only pairing for arby's and subway.
and if you're in the money and not hating your thighs, a small jamocha shake and a coke. You cannot order the shake without the coke. Shakes especially, and ice cream, too, require a coca-cola palate cleanser. it'd be like ordering a Regular and no curly fries.
the biggest crime of all, the closest arby's has no drive-thru.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

i DO cook at home, too.

sunday, sunshine, ballard's farmers' market after brunch.
sample of cider from rock ridge farms (awesome hard cider)
grilled oysters
tiny beautiful turnips
wood sorrel from foraged and found
duck eggs, so much fresher than the ones at pike place market creamery
cirrus, camembert style cheese-Mount Townsend Creamery
pineapple sage plant
to complete my full-out martha stewart day, i dusted off the sewing machine, sewed curtains for the living room and scrubbed a year-old taro bubble tea stain out of the bedroom (always put the top back on the bubble tea before you start fooling around).

i was actually excited to make dinner. the turnips were picked on a whim, and i had to consult alice waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables for an idea: turnip and greens soup. i needed a little more substance for my weakling vegetarian man-boy: poached duck egg on roasted garlic crostini (la brea bread) in the soup: puree of veg stock, onions and turnips. a handful of kale (from MY garden) and wood sorrel, finished with sel gris, chervil (from MY windowsill) and extra virgin olive oil.

it makes me feel better to cook a nice meal after i've had a crappy day at work. i like to prove to myself that i really can cook. then i dropped a glass on my foot and made my left pinkie toe bleed.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

here comes the bride...


when they make a wedding dress, i will have a bacon-themed wedding. prosciutto bouquet, coppa garter...something old (cured bacon), something new(pig veal?), something borrowed (angela's lomo) and something blue??? i can sub bacon fat for the butter in the buttercream icing on my cake.

Monday, March 26, 2007

the sweet and the meat tooth

i crave all kinds of things all the time. i also have a meat tooth, and a sweet tooth.
when i didn't eat meat, i definitely had an umami tooth. i craved that meaty taste that tofurkey could never replicate. i tried to cope by putting nutritional yeast on everything, which i still love. i love nutritional yeast-y fake cheese sauce, nutritional yeast flakes, butter and fleur de sel on english muffins, and nutritional yeast and onion powder popcorn. one non-veg friend compared the taste to old, funky cheese, which i am fine with.
i must admit, i recently purchased a small tin of msg. i love MSG, it satisfies the meat tooth. the MSG is hidden in the back of the cupboard under some hagelslag purchased in amsterdam, behind 3 packages of nori and 5 pounds of brown rice. my tell-tale heart. my dirty little secret. i don't even think my boyfriend knows that i have it back there. i sprinkle it on frozen corn; i've even tried putting it on my popcorn. and i always sprinkle it on bland tofu dishes that i cook for my vegetarian boyfriend because i have to eat that crap, too. it's embarrassing for a professional cook to put this out there. it's like telling people i have a ginsu knife or a george foreman grill. i swear, it's for personal use ONLY.
i have the salt tooth; it's been a monkey on my back since i was small. my mom had high blood pressure and we never had salt in the house. ironic, because we had gallons of soy sauce, but no salt. (my mom also purchased MSG by the 5-pound bag, but i digress). I remember going to dinner at popeye's chicken--a big night out for the my family. everything tasted better, sharper, more intense. my parents couldn't stand it; the food was too salty. salt? this magic fairy dust that makes everything taste better. i wanted more.
great article in chowhound about salty sweets, which i am a fan of. i am obsessed with the yin and yang of food. balancing a hoedown with a thin mint. fat and acid. the salty and the sweet. angela's favorite treat: hot chocolate with a sprinkle of sea salt. sometimes i go really crazy and make hot chocolate with thick, fresh cream from the farmers' market, chunks of chocolate, sel gris and a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. mmmm. all i need is a side of bacon to satisfy all of my cravings.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

what would bacon do?



i have been very sick and very neglectful of b.s.s.
drinks at tavolata, followed by jay's special concoctions have led to this blog, in which i extole the virtues of bacon.

-my personal bacon concoctions: the b.l.tini (bacon salt rim, lovage infused gin, tomato water), apple tarte tatin with blue cheese ice cream and candied bacon, bacon caramel-filled chocolates, and bacon brittle (recipe below).

-my suggestion of adding bacon bits to the chocolate gelato and peanut butter caramel dessert at oliver's twist

-bacon mints, bacon wallet, bacon band aids, and my personal favorite, "what would bacon do?" spin folder- courtesy of archie mcphee

-mathlete.com's wake n' bacon wooden pig-shaped alarm clock that wakes you up with the delicious smell of one strip of frozen bacon cooked under a halogen lamp.

-amazon lists 116,911 books with the keyword "bacon"; 745 of those are in the Gay/Lesbian subheading...really not surprising considering all the euphimisms (meat curtains, hiding the double-smoked, cured winter salami), as well as my two most recent purchases: Seduced by Bacon and Pork & Sons.

-Au Pied de Cochon Restaurant in Montreal

-Pork soup dumplings from New Bo Green in New York's chinatown

-in my fourth or fifth blog mention, i must also include the tonkotsu ramen at Samurai Ramen. liquid pig goodness, lip-sticky demi-glace-ness, pure deliciousness. somehow, minus the pork slice, plus tofu balances out the pigginess for me.

-bacon soda, rumor has it, local soda company Jones Soda came out with it as a follow-up to their popular turkey and gravy soda...

-"bacon is for lovers" bacon aphrodisiac dinners at david greggory restau*lounge in d.c.

-rauchbier, a family friend brought back this smokebeer from germany. seriously, bacon-flavored beer. "The intensely smokey flavor in this dark, rich beer comes from exposing the unsprouted malt to burning slats of local beechwood. " sure, whatever it takes to talk you into drinking bacon.

-baconwhores.com. yes, you can actually get a faux-hooters girl, excuse me, "highly trained expert" to come to your house and "prepare" bacon for you, "exactly the way you want it". ANY way i want it? that's the way i get it?

-my only hit for bacon porn pulled up this gem, "Bacon makes everything crazy. Tie two hot dogs together with bacon. Strangle Bay scallops with bacon. Devil an egg and then stab it with bacon. Stick seventy-seven strips of bacon up a Cornish hen's ass. Rape a baked potato with bacon. Fuck with your peanut butter sandwich. When it's expecting the grape jam, hit it with the bacon. Crush 6 pounds of the extra crispy stuff and make your soups and salad cry. Oh, and bacon gravy! Throw 97 biscuits into a hot tub full of bacon gravy. Clog arteries. Grow love handles. Eat bacon. Wake up and smell the bacon, Utah. If cleanliness is godliness, bacon is truth. And the truth shall make you clean. Nobody wants to smell like bacon, obviously, but in the spirit of watching The Black Table's kooky ideas gurgle, belch, and shit all over the floor, we bring you bacon soap."

Bacon Brittle
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup crispy cooked bacon, in bits (about 12 oz. uncooked bacon)

Grease or butter a large nonstick baking sheet, or line with a Silpat mat. In a heavy medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, increase the heat to high, and cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 290 degrees. Immediately remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, vanilla, baking soda, salt, pecans, and bacon bits. The mixture will foam quite a bit. When the foam subsides, pour the hot mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and, working quickly, spread thin using a silicone spatula or two forks. If the brittle starts to set up before you have spread it out thin, set the baking sheet in a hot oven until the candy softens and continue to spread. Cool at least 10 minutes before breaking into pieces. Store in a covered container.

p.s. jay made me a cocktail with black radish, tequila, sea salt and lime juice. mmmmm.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

speaking of sour...

check out this story by white girl, sara dickerman, on the flip cookbook Memories of Philippine Kitchens. read the first comment about how flip food isn't all that because the flavors aren't strong. maybe your co-workers thought your weak american ass couldn't handle it. gee, i got chinese food at the mall and it wasn't all that. can one find the necessary ingredients in this country? outside of a major city? how about giving filipinos a break because, like most asian nations, their cuisine was created from an impoverished people just trying to get by?

Pan Asian Peanut Sauce
(adapted from)Cendrillon's Recipe

1 cup peanuts
1 lemongrass, minced
3 shallots, minced
2 inch ginger, minced
1T peanut oil
1 cup coconut milk
1T chili sauce
2T soy sauce (or 1T soy and 1T nam pla)
1T mirin
1t chili flakes, or to taste
Hard toast peanuts in oven. Buzz in food processor until coarsely chopped. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Lightly brown the lemongrass, shallots, and ginger in a small pot with peanut oil. Add the peanuts and coconut milk. Simmer for 5 minutes. Season with the chili sauce, soy sauce and mirin. Let cool to room temp. Pulse in the blender until smooth. Fold in reserved peanuts.
i love this with brown rice and pan-fried tempeh (don't forget to splash on some patchouli and change into your PETA shirt). it's good on lumpia, vietnamese summer rolls and your finger.

Cendrillon's website
p.s. The photos in the book are by Mika's papa, Mr. Neal Oshima. Mika did Cendrillon's website, by the by.

Monday, March 12, 2007

bitter sour salty drunk

although it has always been acceptable to drink on the job, i am currently a paid alcoholic guinea pig. three hours of refining a moet white star champagne cocktail has has fuzzied up the rage i felt upon entering the kitchen this morning. "springing forward" an hour combined forces with a pair of misplaced eyeglasses and a chronicly terrible employee and, within minutes of being at work, i was plotting the deaths of co-workers.
thank god for bubbly cocktails.

chef d's mid-shift attitude adjuster
1/2 oz. pear william
1 oz. aviation gin
1 oz. moet & chandon white star champers
1 sugar cube soaked in fee's peach bitters
lemon twist
multiply by three for mondays.

brandon's happy maker
1/2 oz. liquer 43
1 oz. applejack
1 oz. moet & chandon white star
lemon twist
repeat until rage dissipates.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

pour a jug on the ground...

for fallen homie, ernest gallo. he died today, so we will imbibe a jug in honor of the man who created an empire from a library pamphlet recipe for wine. one out of every four bottles that americans drink is a fine gallo blend.
my parents were fans of peach-y riunite. riunite on ice, that's nice! i poured myself a big ol' mug of the stuff in eighth grade. this shit was off the hook, it tasted like peach nehi and made you feel all warm and fuzzy.
julie labar's pot-smoking, wiccan, hippy mom was a fan of the gallo jug. we'd sneak some when we were working on wax voodoo dolls, apple switch magic wands and love potions, which was a lovely combo of old kitchen spices (ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice), vials of my mom's sample perfumes (chanel no.5, giorgio, poison) and julie's mom's sandalwood and patchouli oils. it smelled like an mexican bus full of strippers baking pies. is "witch nerd" a common social phenomenon among pre-pubescent teens?
check out ernest's arch enemy's web site to create an homage to the master.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

dinner at the harvest vine

divine, as always:
creamy bacon crostini
duck confit, pickled pears
candied walnuts
roasted beets
calabasa soup with fried shallots
duck confit with sherry reduction
scallop, foie gras and lacquered beet square, beet green crisp
tuna belly with vanilla olive oil
clams, white beans and bacon
tripe and chorizo-love, love, loved this so much
seared squab and black trumpet mushrooms
mini ganache sandwiches
quince ice cream with quince-pine nut tart
and an bottomless glass of cava

Sunday, February 25, 2007

julie, julia and a barf bag

i'm about half way through this terrible book. i'm waiting for the huge revelation, the thing that makes her realize half-assing and bumbling through MtAoFC is a metaphor for her pathetic life. canned broth? can't find a marrow bone in NEW YORK CITY????? that she lives in new york city and somehow only manages to eat domino's pizza? the lurid attempts to compare her cooking to sex acts she's never even imagined, in thanks to the lack of sex life she loves to brag about?
every sentence makes me feel less smart, less passionate about cooking. i can't put it down. i can't believe that it doesn't get better than this.

i'm in love with:

beef tartare-union
bread soup-serious pie
cirrus cheese-mount townsend creamery
steamed meat dumplings-7 star pepper
shrimp cakes and crispy crepe-tamarind tree
goose foie terrine-harvest vine
pretzel with mustard-licorous
yellowtail carpaccio-lark
escolar-hana sushi
tonkotsu ramen-samurai noodles
hawaii original saimin (with raw egg, mushrooms and scallions)-uwajimaya