Thursday, March 26, 2009

On Finishing salts, BBQ tastings, et al...

So first off, my opinion on finishing salts- I was always taught to season before you cook. In my career, I've found this to be very sound advice. I had the occasion to eat at a very nice restaurant in Seattle a short time ago, and as is the case with nice, cutting edge restaurants, they want to be, well, on the cutting edge. So they use finishing salts. I found that one bite would be oversalted, and one bite would be bland. Please folks, have fun with your finishing salts, but do yourself a favor and make sure you season BEFORE the food goes in the pan... and now I will step down from my soap box, and tell you another tale of culinary bliss!
My friend Ken, owner of The Filling Station Deli, came over to the house yesterday so that he and I could work on a spankin' BBQ sauce for his pulled pork sandwich that is on his menu. We made three different sauces, all similar but with all slightly different flavor profiles, to come up with the 'mac daddy' BBQ for the best sandwich shop in Yamhill Co., Oregon. I will keep you informed on what happens with it, and what route Ken takes on his way to BBQ fame.
I have to run, but keep up the fun, and for the love of blog, keep cooking, and tell me about it, I want to know!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Long walks, Street food and boats...

Portland, OR... What a great city! Saturday was the opening of the Saturday market, and a wonderful day it was. I met with my lovely friend D., and our day together started with a lovely walk along the esplanade, right on the river. We walked the east side of the river with a gentle sprinkle on our backs, crossed over to the downtown area where we proceeded to enjoy the food court of the Saturday market. We had wonderful turnovers from Africa, one with lentils and the other with beef, and then we were off to find the falafel man. Falafels ordered, we had a chat with the chef and owner, Mouhamed, and found that he also made New England clam chowder. Being of a New England mind, we asked for a taste and the taste was offered up. Wonderful chowder! It was creamy with out being too thick, a nice smooth consistency with lots of good clam flavor as well. And the falafel was wonderful too, with all the appropriate condiments, which made for a nice filling yet healthy experience. Mouhamed's restaurant is called Bumblekiss, incidently, and is in NE Portland, at 46th and Fremont. If you want a great falafel or chowder(he also does fish and chips that looked wonderful too!) then head on down and let me know what you think.

Our stomachs full of good food, we washed it all down with some strawberry lemonade, while we watched a one handed man play a guitar like instrument and sing songs. Very fun! We said goodbye to the market, and headed off to complete the southern leg of our journey to where we had parked. We passed by the Oregon Maritime Museum, which is actually an old paddle boat. They were giving free admission, and since free is good, we took a tour of a really cool old boat. We stood on the observation deck and watched a rather large sea lion playing in the river. We talked to an old maritime historian. We got bumper stickers! And then we headed on...

The day finished with a stop at Petite Provence, where we enjoyed tea and cappucino, and artfully crafted pastries. I highly recommend them if you like french pastry. I don't drink cappucino, but that looked gorgeous too.

So there you have it, a day in the life. Thanks again D. for a lovely day! Until next time, have fun all,

Friday, March 20, 2009

My holy trinity strikes again...

You can talk of your fathers, your sons and your holy ghosts, but for me the holy trinity consists of good food, good friends and good wine. This was apparent again last night, when I was invited over to some friends house where we cooked up some pearl couscous risotto with mushrooms and sweet potatoes, fortified with duck stock and an aged Gouda. Served with that was a hard seared filet mignon, served rare, a very colorful salad of Bull's blood beets, asparagus, butternut squash, caramelized shallots, beet tops and baby greens, all of which was topped with panseared sweetbreads.

I'm telling you, if you haven't had sweetbreads, and have an adventurous pallate, there isn't much better in my mind. These particular sweetbreads were seasoned with truffle salt and pepper, dipped in buttermilk and dredged in flour, then quickly sauteed in peanut oil and finished in the oven. Divine!

So the meal was served up with great friends and great wine(2006(I think) Road's End from Carlton Cellars), and a bit of local cheeses to start.

So dear friends, please, if you have a mind, try this recipe, it is unfailing:

3-4 good friends
1-3 bottles of nice wine
As much food as is needed

Bring together in a comfortable happy environment and let the three ingredients meld and blend their flavors. It's a hit every time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Paddy's Day, and a celebration of meat...

Hello all my few faithful,

I hope all is grand in all of your little slices of heaven. St. Paddy's, like any other day, is not a day of rest. I got the call to do a small(4-5) person, high end dinner, and I made all attempts to rise to the occasion. I was told they like meat, were carnivores as it were, and that I should make the menu as such. So without further ado, here is the menu, and after I will discuss some points of it-

Brookside Inn Event
March 17, 2009

Passed Hors D’ouevres- Pork cheek rillettes on a Yukon gold potato chip with a five-dry chile mayonnaise

Amuse Bouche- caramelized shallot and Oregon Black truffle brulee with a toasted brown sugar crust

Starter- Panseared Buffalo slider on soft Rosemary lavosh with baby greens, concasse of tomato and a roasted garlic aioli

Pasta- local mushrooms with hand-made pasta, white wine and cream, aged Reggiano Parmesan

Main – Confit of duck leg, roasted breast of duck with a maple-rosemary-juniper baste, sweet potato puree, white wine braised spinach

Intermezzo- Tomato sorbet with baby greens, crispy Carlton farms bacon and a savory black pepper biscuit

Dessert- Vanilla bean soufflé with a raspberry-dark chocolate sauce

Cheese- local selection of cheeses

So there you have it, and to break it down by course, here we goooooo...
Hors D'oeuvres- The pork was braised in red wine with onions, rosemary, and chicken stock. They were cooled, pounded out, pressed into molds, and warm braising liquid was poured over them, then cooled. unmolded, they were then sliced and put atop the chip with the mayonnaise.
Amuse- a custard of caramelized shallots, and black truffle that was pureed with the cream and eggs made for a very savory and rich custard that was complemented by some fine local Pinot Noir.
Slider- Buffalo from L Bar T Ranch in Forest Grove, OR was mixed with a small portion of ground Carlton Farms Pork cheek, seasoned, and served on homemade rosemary foccacia and aioli. It was a perfect complement to the rich, oaky Archery Summit Pinot Noir it was served with.
Pasta- Fortified with duck stock, the wild mushrooms used were- Hedgehogs, hon shemigi, king trumpet and hen of the woods. as a bit of a bonus, I added a bit of panseared sweetbreads to the top. Very tasty. This went with a lighter Pinot from Stevenson-Barrie.
Duck- locally raised duck was used, a much leaner duck than typical farm raised ducks. Two of the four diners said that they don't eat duck or sweet potatoes, but nevertheless they cleared their plates.
Sorbet- The intermezzo was off the top of my head. I wanted to make something that would make me smile, as well as something that would make the guests question the course, then ultimately taste it and be pleasantly surprised. It worked quite well. They had never had anything like it, and they loved it. I curled the raw bacon around the handle of a wooden spoon, so after it baked in the oven, it held it's spiral shape. The biscuit was actually a shortbread that I infused black pepper into, and the sorbet was grape tomatoes, a touch of mayonnaise and stiff peaked egg whites, hand stirred.
Dessert- very straight forward, very traditional.
Cheeses- three of four were Oregonian, and one was California. aaawwwwwww.... it's sooo good.
So there you have it, yummy yummy. I still had time afterwards to go to a small house party, have my alotted amount of Corned beef, Guinness, and a bit of a tipple of Power's.
So as always, I look forward to comments, concerns(with this menu, probably mostly cholesterol related concerns, and just whatever else you would like to comment on.
take care all,