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Archive for 2012
Friday, December 14th, 2012
1 lb Sablefish fillets
1 egg + water (make an eggwash)
1 cup crushed pecans (I zapped them in the food processor)
sprinkle of cayenne
1 lb kohlrabi with greens
3 cloves garlic, sliced
juice of one lemon
This dish has three elements: Kohlrabi puree (think mashed potatoes), kohlrabi greens and the nut-crusted fish. Multi-tasking is important on this one!
Peel and dice kohlrabi and boil in salted water until softened. Puree with 2T butter and salt to taste.
Roughly chop greens and saute with 3 cloves garlic. When cooked to perfection, add lemon juice off the heat.
Sprinkle fish with cayenne and salt.
Dip one side, the cayenne-salt side, of the fish in egg wash. Press that side of the fish into the pecan pieces until they cover the fillet. Place in hot pan with olive oil on medium-high heat until pecans form a nice crust. Flip it over before the nuts burn, reduce heat to medium and cook the fish the rest of the way through.
To serve, put a blob of kohlrabi puree, a pile of kohlrabi greens and the fillets of fish on top. Sprinkle with an interesting finishing salt.
Thursday, December 13th, 2012
Way back in June I took a class from Pim (aka Chez Pim) and immediately after the class started remodeling my kitchen and so I couldn’t make the amazing dishes I’d just learned about. Fast forward to the completion of the kitchen and then my husband got in a motorcycle accident. I couldn’t dive into this project while I needed to nurse him. We were planning on having the inaugural dinner party dish for the unveiling of the new kitchen be ramen because it uses every part of the kitchen from roasting the bones to braising the pork to simmering the stock to making the noodles. I had to wait.
We finally just got to the point that hubby can walk a bit, carefully, and since we watched Tampopo with our son on Thanksgiving, we finally broke down and decided to have a ramen weekend. Now, when you make ramen from scratch, it’s not a quick meal. Sure, the final assembly can be done in minutes, but the prep takes two days.
I can’t share the recipe here, it’s not mine to give, but I can give you a summary of the process. First, earlier in the week, I had to get 5lbs of pork bones and a huge slab of pork belly. That was a special trip to the store! Then on Friday I drove over to San Jose in search of Kansui. I had never been in the Lion grocery store before. It’s a Chinese grocery the size of a typical Safeway or the like. But most things aren’t in English. Shelves and shelves and shelves of chili pastes, all in Chinese, all somehow different?? I accidentally bought a chili concoction with peanuts…missed that detail. I also bought an excellent jar of chili pickled daikon. Random impulse buy. I stood in Aisle 15 for 10 minutes with a picture of a bottle of Kansui on my phone and slowly scanning the shelves. BINGO! FINALLY! Drove back over the hill with the last ingredient I needed for this adventure.
Saturday I got started on the broth. In my huge stock pot I put in the pork and chicken bones, all the other necessary bits and pieces and started it simmering. For 8-12 hours. Then I started the bone-roasting for the Shoyu Tare which has to simmer for 2-3 hours. And then braised the pork which has to simmer for 3-4 hours. Then hubby and son made the noodles that have to sit in the fridge overnight.
This is a serious project people. You’re committing an entire weekend to pork parts and alkaline.
Was it worth it? Hell yes! I strained my broth and got it all ready to ladle up. I had strained out the tare and put it in the fridge the day before so I got that heated up. I got the pork belly out of the fridge, ready to slice.
Friends came over and I rolled and rolled and rolled and cut ramen noodles. 10 portions piled up and ready to go. I set out all my bowls, got my water boiling, RAMEN WAS HAPPENING!
We put on Tampopo. And we ate. And we ate. I finished the first bowl, topped with green onions, spring bamboo shoots, kamaboko and pork. I was full. Everyone headed home stuffed to the gills. Then we dished up second bowls for hubby, son and I and ate at TV trays in the living room while we watched more of Tampopo! It was the first time I’d ever watched that movie and not been starving within five minutes. That is the only way to go. The chef was happy to see these bowls returned to the kitchen emptied of all the noodley-brothy-goodness.
I wish we could eat this every week but I don’t have 2 days to dedicate to one meal every week. This will happen again though. Even if it does completely destroy my kitchen. It was worth every pork-fat-covered pot, every dirty bowl and every broken ceramic spoon. Seriously, I should buy those by the case. I break one every time we use them!
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012
This year’s hardcore adventures were a little more low key than usual. My husband got in a motorcycle accident at the end of September and, although tremendously lucky, severely injured his left foot and, after 9 weeks, still isn’t walking on it.
So, foraging fell on to me and our 8 year old. Hubby stayed in the car with the walkie talkie to alert us if rangers came…none did. So, we didn’t cover as much territory as usual or stay out as long but we found a couple of porcini and about five pounds of chanterelles.
The other task that isn’t usually mine was the charcoal grill. I am the master of our gas grill but fire building is not one of my skills. I managed to get the fire lit (which was a surprise, I thought it was out but it smoldered to life). Still, the porcini didn’t get to the crispy state I like and the chanterelles took FOREVER.
The next night when I cooked the chanterelles down on the stove top and put them on top of NY steak, now that was how I know how to cook!
Saturday, October 27th, 2012
Friday, October 26th, 2012
I picked up Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings cookbook pretty much on a whim a few months ago. We made way too many dumplings and stuffed ourselves (and our neighbors) silly. Not long after that I saw that she was teaching a dumpling class at Love Apple Farm and had to sign up!
This has been an interesting month for us. My husband got in a motorcycle accident at the end of September (not his fault, driver turned in front of him) and, although he will be fine, crushed his foot badly and has been bedridden for 4 weeks (with at least 2 to go) as it heals. I have been the 24-7 nurse for all the time he’s been home from the hospital…3 weeks now. I lucked out that my mother-in-law came to help out the weekend that this class was scheduled so I got to go do something fun and rejuvenate myself for a few hours. Nothing makes you feel better than mushing together ground pork with wonderful sauces by hand and then getting to gorge on dumplings!
Soooo, we all split into groups around 4 tables and started chopping, mixing, rolling and filling! There were pork, veggie and shrimp dumplings, momos, baked buns and sauces to be made!
It was a lot of work and a lot of fun. We spent the first 3 hours prepping the ingredients and the last hour rolling and filling the dumplings that we then moved into the steamer, the pan for frying or the oven for baking. The results were, across the board, fantastic. From potstickers to honey buns, we ate them all and I even snuck a bao home for hubby to cheer him up a little.
Before we knew it the four hours had passed and we were all sated and sweaty. It was work to crank out what in the end was hundreds of dumplings and buns and with the steamers going, it was like a sauna in there!
I bought another book of Andrea’s, stole my honey bun for my honey, and headed home to return to nursing duty. I haven’t gotten to make anything from the dumplings cookbook since the kitchen remodel. Now that I’m actually back in a functioning kitchen (pictures and article about that to come soon!) I can get back to the more complicated dishes like ramen and dumplings!
Monday, September 17th, 2012
I’ve been remiss in my updates. Truth is, the novelty of campsite-cooking in my garage has worn off. I’m still hanging in there. The kitchen is really coming together. But I’m so ready for it to be done!!!
The cabinets and counters are all in. Sinks, back splashes, window sills, tile back splashes, all in…crown molding is going in today. It’s just taking weeks longer than we planned. Yes, I know, remodels always do but this is MY KITCHEN!!
So, a few things that have come out of the garage in the last few weeks:
Acme pain epi, gravlax, cuke and tomato
Mis en place for chicken basil chow mein.
El Salchichero smoked prosciutto and canteloupe (from my dad). A touch of black pepper.
(Basic soup recipe here
Cucumber soda, gin and lime
This drink helps me cope with the stress of the kitchen ;-)
Cod Cakes: Poaching cod in white wine and garlic.
Cod Cakes: Frying up in olive oil
Cod Cakes served atop Caesar Salad
The cod cakes were similar to this recipe minus the potatoes. I used eggs as a binder and I think they worked better. They definitely kept their shape better than the potato-butter-based ones.
Broiled proscuitto-wrapped figs
One day in the very near future I will be posting pictures of my completed kitchen. Soon….SOON!!! ARGHHH!!!!
Friday, September 14th, 2012
My new holy trinity
Mix and enjoy. Seriously. Holy Trinity. Flavor yum. Hendrick’s Gin works well too. Trust me.
Monday, September 10th, 2012
We drove up to San Francisco and met our friends at the Dumpling King for lunch. They’ve been going there for years, we’d never been. Oddly, we’d never been out for dumplings in San Francisco. Only in Sydney. Yes, we travel 7000 miles for Din Tai Fung. This was so much more convenient! ;-)
The dumplings arrive!
Needless to say, we ordered A LOT of food. I think the main mistakes were when our friends would add “Actually, make it two of those.” and we did. Steamers arrived….more steamers arrived…plates arrived…more plates arrived. We were already cramped having convinced the waiter that we were fine at a table for 4 even though there were 6 of us (2 kids). We were too hungry to wait for another table to open up!
Then more dumplings arrive….
And the food kept coming. We only ordered dumplings or variations of dumplings although they had many more options on the menu. There are no dumplings in Santa Cruz aside from the one time we made them a few months ago (pre kitchen remodel hell). We were going to eat every kind of dumpling they offered. And we did…except we couldn’t finish!
I am completely destroyed
There were just a few leftovers…well, a whole meal really that our friends took home since we were staying in the city for the night. I ate more than I thought I could swallow. I had a few chips for dinner that night, I was still so full!
We had a few leftovers
When I arrived I tweeted that we were waiting at Dumpling King and I got a message from @chezpim asking me to get her dumplings from Kingdom of Dumpling a few blocks away. I’m thinking our next dumpling pilgrimage will be to the Kingdom and not just to the King. I very much enjoyed the meal but it wasn’t Din Tai Fung. Maybe Kingdom of Dumpling is and I don’t have to yearn for dumplings between trips to Sydney.