Enchilada night gave us an excuse to make our own green sauce. Jalapenos, Anaheims, tomatillos, onions, garlic, green onions, vegetable broth and cumin were all respectively roasted or sautéed, then simmered and puréed.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
My mouth is still watering almost a week later, hands down Pok Pok served up one of the best meals I have ever had. This wasn't your average Joe, greasy, strip mall Thai joint, in fact it was everything but. Everything was fresh, spicy, tangy, salty, crisp and simply exploding with flavor. I make it down to Portland every few months to see family and friends, and there is never enough time to fill my ulterior motives of eating at all of the amazing Portland street carts and fabulous restaurants. Pok Pok has been as the top of my must-eat-list after being named thebest restaurant in Portland, nods from the greats and a huge feature in Bon Appetit, not to mention it is affordable. This trip I finally made it. Most dishes are served family style, which is great because, well for one I went with my family, but what a better way to try everything than to split it all. It just wouldn't be the same experience if we didn't get to enjoy the dishes together, tasting and discussing the complex flavors and we ate our way around Thailand.
Khao Soi a curry noodle soup served with pickled mustard greens, shallots, cilantro, crispy yellow noodles and roasted chili paste. We dumped the whole plate of condiments into this rich, coconut milk based curry soup and ladled it into our individual mini bowl for consumption. We tried to diversify our proteins as much as possible so on we went to white meat. Kai Krapao Khai Dao was a dish of stir fried minced chicken with tiny slivers of long beans, krapao basil, white onion, black soy, fish sauce, garlic and dry chilies with a beautifully poached over Jasmine rice.
Khao Man Som Tam was a perfect mixed plate with a green papaya salad, coconut rice, sweet shredded pork, fried shallots and cilantro. And might I say, the cabbage leaves on the side were the most delicious leaves of cabbage I have ever had. The coconut rice wasn’t sweet but it was insanely rich and creamy. Green papaya has become a favorite dish of mine, it is shredded unripe papaya tossed with tomatoes, long beans, Thai chili, lime juice, tamarind, fish sauce, garlic, palm sugar, dried shrimp and peanuts. It is delightfully light, the noodles don’t have much natural flavor but they are firm, crisp and pick up flavor from the strong flavors of the dressing.
Glass noodle salad with the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth house-made thin slices sour pork sausage as well as ground pork, Chinese celery, pickled garlic, Thai chilies, shallots, carrot, lime, fish sauce and garlic oil dressing. I wish I could infuse that much flavor into thin rice noodles. I could eat dishes like this all day, every day. While I might knock down the spice a touch, but that is just my personal taste. The noodles are light, and the dressing is crazy good. Tangy and salty and spiked with fresh vegetables, ground pork and I cannot stress enough some seriously amazing pork sausage.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
This is for sure not the prettiest soup, the light brown color is certainly not all that becoming. But seeing as it was delicious and that it has comprised almost the entirety of my diet today, I thought it was worth sharing. I had a wisdom tooth extracted this morning, the procedure was relatively painless but I am on a strict diet of only soft foods. Hence the giant batch of soup, and the delicious chocolate, peanut butter and coffee milkshake I am currently enjoying. I had thoughts of beets, leeks, fennel or kale being used in a beautiful soup but the grocery store was almost entirely out of green produce. So I was left with potatoes and onions. Even by themselves these root cellar staples can make a filling and tasty soup, I figured it would still be better than some slop out of a can. I couldn't resist caramelized the onions until they were a dark brown because I love the flavor so much. The result of the deeply caramelized onions blended with potatoes was like Thanksgiving, when the mashed potatoes and the gravy become one smooth dish, rich with flavor and comfort. But if you were to just cook the onions until tender I imagine the soup would turn out a lovely white color. Or stick with the caramelizing and hope that the colorful topping add enough distraction that the soup will be slurped down before anyone has time to mention the color.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Saturday, January 21, 2012
It is birthday cake time again! I love an excuse to make a birthday cake, you can get away with more extravagant things, more indulgent, more decadent. I get to pull out the cake stand, and candles and all the mismatched little plates from cupboard. I made this flourless chocolate cake, complete with homemade ice cream for my boyfriend. It was pointed out during this birthday dinner party, the irony of his last present to me actually being a present for him. He gave me David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert for Christmas and now he gets to eat all of the cakes, cookies, fruit desserts and ice creams I whip up out of this book. This Racines cake is one of the first cakes in the book, one out of the several chocolate based cakes that adorn the first few pages. This one is sprinkled with cocoa nibs and has beautiful raised edges. It is by all means a rich and decadent cake but it is so light and fluffy everyone was astonished. It really is amazing what a bunch of whipped egg whites and melted chocolate can do. So happy birthday, and thank you for presents that continue to give.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I really have to admit that this photo I am presenting to you does this recipe no justice and for sure does not do the cookbook justice. I just couldn't get my rendition to make love to the camera like Ottolenghi did. But I had to share it with you anyway because it was so simple and delicious and fragrant. I received two copies of Plenty for Christmas; well two came in the box. One was not for me, one was for my mom. She wanted a copy as well after she flipped through the pages of beautiful, stunning, mouthwatering photographs of vegetables, salads, soups and sautés. She didn't want me hours away cooking these immaculate dishes, that she couldn't eat. So we have both been cooking from our copies in our respective kitchens. I fell in love with this book even more after cooking up these chickpeas. Honestly, I thought that this recipe would be pretty boring, chickpeas, vegetables, pretty standard but a great side for some beautiful lamb kebabs. However, I think that this side dish stole the show. The combination of caraway, garlic, mint, cilantro and lemon juice brings unbelievable flavor and depth.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
The spotless, smooth clean counters of my parents’ house were perfect for whipping up some quick Christmas morning scones. They are so much easier to make when you can just dump the dough out onto a large surface and work with it there, instead of having to keep the dough squished onto a cutting board. I suppose I could just super clean my counters pre-scone creating, but still don’t just trust these old counters shared with six roommates as much as the tidy, well-kept counters my parents exemplify. These scones come together in a flash, they are great for a quick homemade breakfast. I am pretty sure we made these a complete meal by adding bacon and breakfast sausage, from our new favorite butcher, to our plate. How about that for a decadent breakfast? Cream scones, homemade spread and everyone’s favorite pork products. These scones could be paired with a beautiful fruit salad for a lighter breakfast, or simply snacked on by themselves with coffee or black tea. As always scones are best the same day you bake them. So eat up and enjoy.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I made my first roast for Christmas this last year… aka a few short weeks ago. Not only have I not cooked a big, fancy center piece roast, but I am having a hard time remembering if I have ever had one. There have been large turkeys and hams, but steaks and chicken breast are much more common. But the cover of Bon Appetit magazine is often enough inspiration to try something new, create a showpiece of a centerpiece and learn a few things. I learned sometimes you really need to go to a real butcher, supermarket butchers just can’t cut it, literally and figuratively. I learned that going to a real butcher is really, really fun. Not only do they have better quality meat and a larger selection but the way they handle the meat is so careful and meticulous, it is an art form. I also learned how to tie up a roast. And I learned that a fancy roast like this has a lot of steps. Give yourself plenty of time, not only does this baby cook for over an hour, it needs to rest after and there are lot of steps before you can slide her into the oven. Good news is that almost all of the prep can be done the day before. And for a first attempt I couldn’t be happier. Kale, fennel, apples, onions, garlic, thyme and rosemary add color and flavor to this pork inside pork, covered in pork beauty. It is a perfect dish for winter, a perfect dish for a large dinner and a perfect dish to learn how to cook your first roast.
Saturday, January 7, 2012
The day that this apple butter was bubbling away, happened to be the same day that oranges were being shredded for marmalade and the kitchen never smelled more amazing. A passing roommate even proclaimed, "I am so glad my house smells like this". Apples, fresh squeezed apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice alongside the pungent aroma of a copious amount of orange slices. It was what I think those nasty, plug-in air fresheners aim for, just so much better. Like pie, and summer breeze, and citrus and endorphins and love. A little far? Maybe… But this butter, made with no butter, will make you smile as is reduces into a spattering, plopping lava like substance. Enjoy it spread on toast year round to get a taste of these lovely fall (slash early winter) apple flavors.