Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out With a Bang

Red Mill Burgers. The best big, greasy, bacony burgers in Seattle—hands down. This is quite possibly the last beef I'll eat until February. 

To free our bodies of the heavy winter ales and holiday baked goods we’ve over-indulged in the last two months, Amanda and I are doing a meatless and boozeless(ish) January. Also, we’ll be wearing bikinis in February for our sister’s trip to Tahiti (!), so that’s another reason behind our madness. On top of that, Evan and I are going to try to (loosely) follow Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse. Just for funsies. And because the vanilla-date smoothie and the breakfast quinoa look amazing.

So today, for one last hoorah, we went for it. The full on bacon cheeseburger. Milkshake and all.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Santa Came Early

Evan and I celebrated Christmas over the weekend. After dating for six years and living together for almost two, we’ve still never spent an actual Christmas eve or morning together. Some people might think that’s weird, but we think it’s pretty good. We see each other every day, and don’t see our parents nearly as often. So, instead of sacrificing time with our families to make it work, we just have our own early Christmas together, just the two of us. Eventually we’ll probably do the his family/my family holiday split, so that we can spend time with each other’s families as well, but for now, our set up works. And, we have our own little Christmas tradition together.

On “Christmas” morning, Evan and I get up, make coffee, and open presents. Then we help Biscuit open her presents (this year she got a cat-nip filled mouse, a big square of wrapping paper, and a good-sized length of ribbon), we have a nice little breakfast, and go on a walk around our neighborhood. We usually try to make a lighter breakfast, because later in the afternoon is my favorite part of our Christmas tradition—we stop by one of the diviest bars in Seattle, sit under the Christmas lights and mounted fish, and order a huge serving of deep fried mushrooms and beer. It just wouldn’t be our Christmas without those hot, juicy, greasy little bites of fattening deliciousness, dipped in ranch, and chased with a deep, dark, chocolaty porter. Ah, so festive!

If your holiday tradition also involves a fattening, deep fried, dive-bar treat, then you might want a light breakfast too. You might want Christmas Eggs. Ok, that’s the worst recipe name ever, I know… but they’re red, white, green, and gold, and perfect for the holidays. And they’re delicious—sweet roasted tomatoes with baked eggs, peppery arugula, and nutty parmesan cheese. You can easily scale the recipe from two people to ten people, and it requires little time in front of the stove. And, since I’m full of holiday-spirit today, I’ll even let you change the name of the recipe. What a thoughtful Christmas gift!

Christmas Eggs

3 medium sized tomatoes, quartered, then quarters halved
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
drizzle olive oil
drizzle balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
4 eggs
1-2 tablespoon freshly grated or shaved parmesan
a small handful of arugula per person
Optional: toast, sliced french bread, bacon, crispy baked pancetta,

Preheat oven to 400. In a small shallow baking dish (that would perfectly fit the amount of eggs your serving), toss tomatoes, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake until tomatoes are caramelized and juicy, about 30-40 minutes. Crack eggs directly over top of tomatoes, spacing apart and keeping yolks intact. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until whites are set. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve over a bed of arugula, or with arugula on top (as an open face sandwich, with bread on the side, or simply on its own).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Tis the Season

My first round of holiday baking this Christmas season was not full of snowflakes, jingle bells, and angels getting their wings. It was a little more “Bad Santa” than “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Well, maybe not fully Bad Santa, but it left me wanting a drink.

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a baking failure. I mean, sure, sometimes I bake stuff that isn’t ahhhmazing, but generally it’s pretty good, or at the very least, edible. My first batch of holiday cookies this year, however, was a different story. And my second batch.

I whipped up my chocolate chai biscotti—generally a no brainer. That is, until my flour canister came up empty, and I used the end of the flour bag that had been in my cupboard. My spice cupboard. I didn’t even think twice about it, until I tasted the biscotti...chocolate with a faint undertone of onion, garlic, and curry does NOT scream Christmas. But, not to be deterred, I opened a new bag of four, and started over. I mixed my butter and eggs, measured out my fresh flour, cocoa powder, and…sugar? I was out of sugar! I decided to move forward anyway, with only half the amount of sugar. I figured the chai mix, cocoa, and vanilla would make up for it. I even added a little extra cinnamon, sure that it would help.

Can you imagine what a mouth full of cardboard with a heaping spoonful of cinnamon would be like? Well, I think it would be pretty similar to my second batch of biscotti. It was dry and hard to swallow, it tasted bitter… it was almost worse than the first! For some reason, at that point, I thought that making the icing extra cinnamonie would add something to the biscotti. It did…it added more moisture-sucking cinnamon. Another batch of biscotti… in the trash. A couple of hours, 2 sticks of butter, a bag of chocolate chips, 6 eggs, a destroyed kitchen, and a frazzled Amber later…and I had no baked goods to show for it.

I’m not a Grinch, or a Scrooge, or even that magician that constantly tries to foil ol’ Frosty the Snowman, so I stared over the next day…without biscotti. This time I made Dori Greenspan’s insanely chocolaty World Peace Cookies with crushed candy cane bits, buttery Almond Brown Sugar Cookies from Gourmet, and soft, slightly chewy spice cookies.

It was a holiday baking miracle on 24th street, after all.

Better Than Biscotti Spice Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 large baking sheets, or use parchment.

Whisk together flour, spices, and salt- set aside. Stir baking soda into warm water in a cup until dissolved, then stir in molasses. In stand mixer (or with handheld) beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in baking soda/molasses mixture until combined well, then beat in flour mixture until just combined.

 Roll teaspoon size balls of dough and arrange them about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Flatten balls into 1 1/4-inch rounds with tines of a fork. Bake cookies until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Enjoy while watching White Christmas and NOT making Biscotti.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Not Your Mama's Pork n' Beans

Unless, maybe, your mom is Ruth Reichl. This Cannellini with Pork and Rosemary recipe from Gourmet is worth the time and multiple steps involved, and it's perfect for winter. I recommend adding more roasted tomatoes to up the flavor, and be sure to add salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Hard Nut to Crack

By “nut” I mean squash, and by crack I mean “cut.” I suppose the title would be much more clever and relevant if I was trying to cut a butternut squash (get it, nut…crack) but alas, it was an acorn squash, and after a super-duper busy week at work, my creativity is just about zapped. But anyway, back to that squash.

I had an acorn squash lying around, so I decided to make soup. Now, I’ve made plenty of butternut squash soups, but this was my first acorn squash soup. Also, even though I have cooked them (baked with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon) it’s been awhile. Maybe I’m far wimpier than I used to be, or perhaps I had just completely forgotten about all the hard work prior to the delicious outcome…but let me tell ya, those things are a mother-effer to cut through! After several attempts to saw it in half, a few near finger amputations, and some serious machete-style action, I finally had to call Evan into the room to give it a go. He even struggled. Then once that bastard was halved, I thought peeling and cubing it would be a breeze. It was not. I had to roast it for about 15 minutes to get the damn thing soft enough to cut through. Next time, since I’ll plan on roasting from the get-go, I might even add some oil and spices while it softens, but this time around, I just wanted to get a knife through it. So, unless you have a chainsaw in your kitchen, I would recommend briefly roasting, and then cubing and peeling your acorn squash.

After that ordeal, however, the soup really was a breeze. I love basic winter-squash soups, because you can really follow a basic formula and adjust as you go. First, chop and sauté one medium sized yellow onion in a little bit of olive oil, and butter if you prefer. Once the onions were translucent, I added some toasted cumin seeds and garlic. Then, while my solid-as-steel squash roasted, I (effortlessly) peeled and cubed a sweet potato, and threw that into the mix. Finally, I was able to get the acorn squash into the pot, and I let it all meld together for a few minutes. Next, I added about 4 cups of chicken broth, and let everything simmer until the squash and sweet potatoes were fork-tender. Into the blender (in 3 batches) it all went, pureed until smooth. With the last batch, I added about a half-cup of roasted tomatoes before blending (canned tomatoes or tomato puree would also work). Finally, while the puree warmed on the stove, I lightly toasted a spoonful of mustard seeds and cumin seeds, to sprinkle on top. And there you have it. Roasted acorn squash and sweet potato soup.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Here Come the Brides

Congratulations to all of my engaged friends… you can no longer put your hands up (up, up) to “All the Single Ladies”…But you can certainly still shake it like one!

Here’s to an upcoming year full of Champaign toasts, cake tastings, pretty frilly things, flowers, naughty gifts, bachelorette parties, fancy Hors d'œuvres, and of course… lots and lots of love!

Monday, November 22, 2010


It's that time of year again, Thanksgiving... time to give some thanks. I’d like to say thanks to all of my readers, family, and friends who support my blog, read my stories, and eat my food—you’re awesome, every one of you. I’d like to thank my coworker Mandy for taking me to the Seattle Magazine Best of 2010 Bash last week (and my company for paying for it), where I (over)indulged in amazing food from local chefs, and had glass after glass (after glass) of local wine. Thank you, Tom Douglas, for serving that amazing crispy duck with hoisin sauce in a steamed bun—I’ve been dreaming about it. While we’re on the subject of duck, thank you to Ben and V for that wonderful dinner at Poppy where I got up the nerve to try duck again (the first time, years ago, was NOT good)…now all I want is duck! Thank you to Evan for ordering the Chicken and Waffles with unbelievable maple brown butter sauce the other night at Ventana (and to Chelsea for having her birthday party there)—now I’m inspired…be on the lookout for chicken and waffles gracing a blog near you sometime very soon! Thanks to Brit for serving up the first turkey of the season at a lovely dinner party. Thank you to Amanda for, well…everything…but especially for the two days’ worth of meals I had thanks to your condo-anniversary party leftovers (rosemary meatballs, pumpkin and walnut lasagna, tomato and parm flatbread). Thank you Mel and John for saying we can make this chicken liver paté at Thanksgiving this year…and sorry to Amanda for that…hopefully you won’t read this. And, thanks to all the food bloggers and recipe writers for your constant inspiration and motivation.

Also, thanks to Brian and Allie for the idea behind this super delicious stromboli.

Sweet caramelized onions, earthy sautéed mushrooms, and nutty butternut squash are rolled up, amongst layers of cheese and dough… trust me, once you make this, you’ll be thanking me (and Brian and Allie). And, if you choose to serve this at the appetizer table this Thanksgiving, your guests will be thanking you. Pay if forward folks, pay it forward.

Butternut, Caramelized Onion, and Mushroom Stromboli

Makes 2 Strombolis


1 .25 ounce packet of active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2.5 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence


1/2 of 1 large butternut squash- peeled and cubed in small pieces
1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced
1.5 cups chopped mushrooms (I used chanterelles)
2 cloves chopped garlic
1.5 cups grated jack cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus 2 tablespoons)
olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a sheet pan, toss squash with a splash of olive oil to coat, and top with a hearty pinch of rosemary, and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg. Roast until tender--around 15 minutes.

In a skillet heat about 1.5-2 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter, add onions and cook until just starting to caramelize, then add mushrooms, and finish cooking through until desired state of deliciousness. Salt and pepper lightly. Combine squash and onion mixture, and season to taste (if needed). Let cool.

For dough: In mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, herbs, and oil. Beat until smooth. Roll into a ball and let rest until ready to assemble. Punch down the dough and divide in half.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough to a large rectangle. Spread half of the squash mixture across the dough leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle half the cheese (jack and parm) over the top. Starting with the long end, roll up the dough into a roll, pinching the edges to seal. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Let the dough rise 10-15 minutes.

Bake (in 450 degree oven) until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle each stromboli with additional Parmesan cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Boozin’ It Up

I like dessert. And I like booze. And I really like boozy desserts. For the record, I also really like saying “boozy desserts,” but I suppose “drunken desserts” also has a ring to it. I don’t know about you, but for me, the holidays are made for boozing, and for dessert. Last year I gave you the ooey, gooey, alcohol infused chocolate Kahlua cake. This year, just in time for Thanksgiving and family boozin’ (wait, you don’t booze with your fam at Thanksgiving?) I present to you…

Spiced custard. Nuts. Rum. What more do you need, people!? The answer is nothing…or whipped cream. Either of those answers is correct.

I made this dessert as a substitute for pumpkin pie. Ok, now people hate me… but it’s true: I could care less about pumpkin pie. It has a funny texture, it tastes boring, and it’s just not that exciting. Our Thanksgiving table will have pecan pie for sure (the best of all pies, in my opinion), pumpkin loaf—a delicious pumpkin-cake and cream cheese filling roll of delight (see, we’ll still have a pumpkin item on show)—and now… deliciously boozy little custards. Hey, I put pumpkin pie spice in them…doesn’t that count?

I suppose you could call this dessert pots de crème, because technically, that’s what it is. Little pots of cream, or custard, baked in a water bath, and chilled prior to serving. But when a big family Thanksgiving rolls around and you’re feeding a crowd that consists of teenage boys that like to hunt and play sports (and dads that like to hunt and watch sports) pots de crème (aka poh duh KREHM) might not be the most popular choice at the dessert table. That’s why I will be serving Spiced Custard Cups with Drunken Pecan Sauce. Sure, that name doesn’t leave much to the imagination, but at least you know what you’re getting. And everyone likes to hear that there’s booze in their dessert…right?

Spiced Custard Cups with Drunken Pecan Sauce
Serves 6-8

For the Custard Cups:

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cinnamon stick
A generous pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Combine both milks in a saucepan and gently heat until slightly frothy. Turn to low and add cinnamon stick, pie spice, and nutmeg--steep for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and continue steeping for about 10 minutes, until milk is lukewarm. Remove cinnamon stick. Whisk together the eggs and yolks then whisk this into the milk mixture. Pour mixture into ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish. Fill baking dish with water (be careful not to get water in ramekins) halfway up side of ramekin. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until solid but still slightly jiggly. Cool until set (overnight is best).

For the Pecan Rum Sauce:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cups toasted pecans (whole and pieces)

Combine water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat. Remove cinnamon stick, and stir in rum. Add pecans. Cool and pour over cool custard cups. Chill overnight and serve with a dollop of whipped cream (if you're feelin' fancy).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Last of Summer’s Bounty

Country folk know a thing or two about food. Like putting stuff up for winter…a necessary thing in the country when you don’t want to waste your summer crops, and you need food stored up for the long, cold days ahead. I grew up on home canned goods and foraged then frozen edibles—I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a jar of pickles or jam from the store, and every freezer I’ve ever had in Seattle has been stocked with freezer bags of huckleberries or mushrooms that the fam picked.

Right now, eating seasonally and DIY cooking are all the rage in the food world—20-something bloggers are writing about canning jams and jellies in their cramped city apartments, fancy restaurants are serving local produce straight out of the dirt, and pickling has become hip and trendy among gourmands. I guess my parents were ahead of the trend.

Every year, Mel makes several batches of preserves—huckleberry, peach, apple butter, cherry. She makes sweet pickles, dill pickles, pickled asparagus, and spicy pickles with habanero peppers. She makes jars and jars of the best red salsa ever using tomatoes from the garden. They smoke salmon and they can tuna. And, within the last couple years, they’ve started making and freezing huge batches of tangy salsa verde.

When I was a kid we didn’t grow tomatillos, because John was allergic. Well, we all though he was—when my parents were just dating, my dad had an allergic reaction that sent him to the hospital and tomatillos were always the suspected culprit. We all feared them. I don’t know when or why he decided to give them a go again, but turns it out that he can handle them just fine. Last summer he had a similar trip to the ER after snacking on peanuts, but he went back to his daily PBJ after about a month, with no retuning symptoms. Allergies are tricky I suppose… I’m just glad that the ‘rents finally got around to growing tomatillos…oh, and that my dad survived them, of course.

Since we had been an anti-tomatillo family for so long, none of us really knew what to do with them…until Amanda found the best salsa verde recipe ever in Bon Appetit. The recipe makes a decent sized batch, enough for one or two meals. However, since my family has that ‘put it up for winter’ mentality, we always make several batches and freeze it… and by several, I mean that my parents have about 5 gallon size freezer bags of the stuff, and Amanda and I each have about 5 quart-size bags in our own freezers.

Evan and I went to see my parents for Mel’s birthday last month, and we brought back pounds and pounds of tomatillos and peppers—the last big harvest of their garden. Then Amanda and I spent an afternoon grilling tomatillos, peppers, and onions for salsa verde. Then, for the inaugural batch, we made chili verde with browned cubes of pork, simmered in the smoky, spicy, tangy salsa. Lucky for us, we have many more chili verde nights ahead of us this winter.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

'Ello Mr. Todd

For Halloween this year, Evan was Sweeney Todd and I was Mrs. Lovett—baker of the worst pies in London… but definitely the best pies in Seattle on Halloween night.

It was kind of weird…upon seeing my costume, everyone guessed that I was Helena Bonham Carter, but they couldn’t guess my character. I guess that’s why I had to hand out mini meat pies (is that squire on the fire? Mercy no sire, if you look closer, you’ll notice it’s a grocer). Don’t worry, it was just ground beef...

I threw together the pies on a really tight deadline (deadline, get it? Dead..line), so they’re semi-homemade and super simple. With more time, a homemade pie crust , puff pastry, or savory shortbread dough would be ideal, but 2 store bought 9-inchs pie dough rounds worked perfectly, and made 24 mini pies (made in a mini cupcake pan). I didn’t write down exactly went into the pies (ahem, that will be Todd and Lovett’s secret), but any delish ground meat mixture will do—like mushrooms, onions, beef, tomato paste, and a little red wine.

Simply roll the dough out a little thinner than it came, cut 24 circles (larger than the circumference of mini cupcake pan cups), and pat them into greased cups. Then fill each one with a little cooked and cooled meat mixture, and top with a smaller dough round with a hole punched in the middle to let it steam. Into a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until golden brown, and there you have it—mini meat pies.

Straight from Sweeney Todd’s barber shop, to Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop, to your home kitchen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Return to Halloweentown

I love Halloween. And I'm really good at it. Actually, Amanda and I both are quite the professional Halloweeners. We've been known to serve some devilishly delicious and frightfully fantastic Halloween snacks (mummy cupcakes, witch finger cookies, lil smokie spiders, and eyeball dip to name a few), and we can rock a Halloween costume like no one's business... not to brag or anything, but Amanda won $200 and a guitar in a costume contest last year.

So, in the spirit of All Hallows Eve, here is a look at some past Halloween favorites.

Me, Jared, Amanda, and Jess... circa 1989


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Blue Plate Special

My dad is an expert at the grill. His specialties, always served on the "Blue Plate Special," include chicken under a brick, jerk salmon, and my personal favorite: super sauced up beef ribs, lovingly known as Gooey Ribs. They put pork ribs to shame.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Around the World in One Blog Post

I think that happiness comes in the form of cheese...melted and oozing between or within layers of dough. Grilled cheese sandwiches? Check! Quesadillas? Check! Empanadas!? Yes please!

A few months ago I experimented with empanadas for the first time… those unbelievably good pockets of dough filled with deliciousness and then baked or fried. I baked Puerto Rican style papa y queso empanadas inspired by the flaky-fried empanadillas I regularly devour (for only $3 during happy hour) at La Isla. Then, since I was on a roll, I also made crumbly Italian sausage, caramelized onion, and gorgonzola empanadas, inspired by a fantastic pizza creation (made by V) that was comprised of the same delicious goodies. That’s the beauty of empanadas… and grilled cheese sandwiches or quesadillas, for that matter…you can put anything in them, and as long as there’s a layer of rich gooey cheese melting in and around the other ingredients, your heart will be happy. Well, not literally…with all that cheese, your heart (and your heart doctor) will probably be un-happy, but we’ll let someone else’s blog deal with that.

Last week I was reminded of how wonderful, simple, and versatile empanadas are when my friend Amanda (not my sister, different Amanda) hosted a fall-themed girl’s night dinner in her new apartment. She made really good empanadas, but I’ll get to that in a second. First, a little about Amanda. She was the first friend I met in college, because our sisters were roommates. We went out together that first night in Seattle, and told people we were sisters. Then, when we met our separate roommates and made new friends in the dorms, we merged groups. We’ve been one giant girl-group ever since. We basically could have started our own sorority…if we were into that sort of thing. We weren’t into that sort of thing though, especially not Amanda—she’s a free spirit. So free, in fact, that last year, she and her boyfriend quit their jobs and flew to Southeast Asia, with open ended return tickets.

They travelled through Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia (and probably some other places I missed) for over a year. They celebrated Thanksgiving with a freshly butchered rooster on a permaculture farm deep in the jungles of Malaysia, and filled hand-sewn Christmas stockings with local treats in Indonesia. And now they’re back in Seattle, looking for jobs and settling into a new apartment and a ‘normal’ routine. I’m sure they won’t stick around for long though, so I’m gonna try to get lots of Amanda-time in…hopefully with a side of Southeast Asian cuisine!

…Or a plate of sautéed mushroom and goat cheese empanadas, which is what she served the other night. Like I said… you can put anything in empanadas. I’m not sure exactly what she threw in that mix… but I know that sautéed mushrooms, spinach, roasted garlic, and goat cheese were definitely in there. The beauty is that once you figure out a good dough recipe, the filling can be improvised. The possibilities are endless… she could have thrown some toasted nuts in there, or maybe taken it a completely different route and added caramelized onions and shredded Swiss to the mushrooms. I could sit here and write for hours about different empanada-filling possibilities, but instead, I think you should just try it for yourself.

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, I would suggest getting creative with empanadas. If you’re feeling a lot adventurous, perhaps a trip around Asia is more your style?

If you just want to make some good food and don’t want to think about it, however, you can make these.

Queso Y Papa Empanadas

Empanada dough (see below)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed small
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup cilantro
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
approx. 1 cups grated mozzarella
1 egg and a tablespoon water-whisked

For sofrito: In food processor, pulse onion, red pepper, cilantro, garlic, salt and black pepper until like a paste.

Heat oil over medium low in a large non-stick skillet or pot (I use a big wok). Add potatoes and sofrito, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Lightly mash with fork or back of spoon. Remove from heat and cool to room temp.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Divide dough into 16 pieces, and form each one into a disk. To fill, roll out 1 piece on a floured surface w/ rolling pin into a 3-4-inch round. Spoon a tablespoon of potato filling and a pinch of cheese (eyeball it) into center and fold dough in half. Press edges together to seal, then crimp with a fork. Transfer all filled empanadas to oiled baking sheet. Brush empanadas with egg wash and bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, serve warm.

Empanada Dough
From Gourmet Magazine

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour before filling.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: BLT with a Twist

A few months ago I had the delicious pleasure of making this recipe for Fried Green Tomato BL(A)Ts to test as a potential Editor's Pick for a Food 52 contest... and I slathered this easy-peasy super tasty homemade mayonnaise all over it. I recommend you do the same.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Lost Boys

Sometimes I make things that you probably should know about, but then I get side tracked or busy or end up baking a really awesome cake that I have to share, and then months down the road I look through my pictures and realize that I never told you about that other amazing thing I made. The one that was just as deserving of a blog post, but got tossed to the side and forgotten. Well, enough is enough!

It’s time to shine the spotlight on some of those long lost meals that have been hiding in the depths of my memory and my computer, yearning to get a full page blog post, or at best, an honorable mention. A lot of these have recipes I’ve typed up or jotted down on (on a random piece of mail or a napkin), some of them have stories that go along with them, and others—the lost-boys of my kitchen—these ones just have pictures. A lot of pictures. Um… maybe thousands of pictures. It’s high time I let them into the light, and share them with the world. One at a time. Starting with this salad that you really need to know about.

I recently had a salad with fennel and grapefuit, and it brought to my attention the fact that I came up with a way better fennel-grapefuit salad this summer, and I never told you about it. It’s really sad that I didn’t share this with you when I first created it, back in the height of summer, when avocados and grapefruit were at their finest (and cheapest). I randomly threw this salad together on a whim and a craving, and it was so good that I recreated it over and over for two weeks. I even remember calling Mel, fork in hand, and gushing about my new salad. What I don’t remember, however, is what exactly went in to this beauty!

I’ve searched through my emails, notebooks, and files trying to find where I had written everything down, but to no avail. I know the basics—mixed greens, creamy and nutty sliced avocado, tart and slightly bitter grapefruit segments, and paper thin slices of licorice-scented fennel bulb. All of those things are awesome together, but I remember that the dressing was really the cherry on top. That damn dressing that I can’t remember for the life of me.

I know I squeezed a lot of fresh grapefruit juice into it, and definitely some olive oil, salt, and pepper. It might have had a splash of cider vinegar, and maybe a finely diced shallot—my vinaigrette go-to. Now, if I really rack my brain, I mean really try to take myself back a few months ago to when I was tossing this salad together, I sort of recall Dijon mustard, apricot jam, and maybe even honey. I'm sure all of the above would be delicious. But...what was for sure in that dressing!?

Recipe incomplete and memory in shambles, it didn't matter...I couldn't sit on this any longer. You needed to know. And now you can experiment with my possible inclusions, and let me know what you come up with! While you’re testing it out, I’m going to search through my backlog of mouthwatering food pics, and find another hidden gem that I’ve regretfully failed to tell you about.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Joys of Sisterhood

When I woke up yesterday morning, I texted Amanda and asked if she was making scones, and if Evan and I could come over and eat them. She replied with a firm ‘No I am not, and no you may not.” After I sent another text with choice words and bullying, I was able to convince her to invite us over for Saturday morning scones. I love having a sister.

Amanda made delicious pumpkin scones, and we had them with pumpkin spice flavored coffee.

Maybe fall isn’t so bad after all.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fall Shmall

I’m having a hard time getting into fall this year. I’m usually a sucker for the crisp air, red and orange leaves, new boot collections, and comforting fall food, but this year I just can’t seem to get over summer. Summer was far too short and the weather, well… it sucked. I didn’t get my fill of long days and vitamin D, and suddenly—before I even had a chance think about buying brightly colored open-toe wedges—it was 6pm and already dark outside, and pumpkins starting popping up in the grocery store.

I’m trying to get into it though. I mean, I really do love wearing scarves and baking crisps and crumbles, and who doesn’t like a big pot of chili or soup on a cool fall day? Luckily two of my favorite fall things are helping me (slowly but surely) come around to the turning season: football and new TV shows! Ok, that’s maybe the dorkiest thing I’ve ever said on this blog…but I’m not kidding… I’m kind of obsessed with some TV shows right now. And the football thing… well, that’s just for the food.

Amanda and I recently went to a Husky tailgate with some of her friends (who happen to be UW athlete alums), and it was amazing. The game sucked, we got stomped, but the tailgate party was ah-may-zing! The group brings a big flat screen and satellite dish so we could watch the game right there in the parking lot. And the food… so good! Every tailgate they do is themed on the opposing team, so in a game against the cornhuskers, the food theme was corn. Amanda and I made sure all of our corny contributions were purple and gold, so no one would be confused about our loyalties.

Ever since then, I’ve been inspired by fun purple and gold football food ideas, and came up with the most perfect thing. It would be absolutely perfect for a Husky game…but I didn’t test it out at a football game. I tested it out for the premier of Law and Order: SVU! I love SVU like no one’s business. I even made Evan create an SVU theme song remix for me… it’s pretty rad. It feels kind of lame but also awesome to be madly in love with a network TV cop drama. But I mean… c’mon, Stabler’s a babe. And if you don’t believe me, ask Amanda—she’s obsessed too.

Anyway, for the big SVU premier, Amanda came over for… chicken wings! Purple and gold ones! I made Sticky Blackberry Honey Hot Wings. They were sweet and smoky, sticky and finger-lickin good. Flecked with (gold) shards of orange zest, the purple glazed wings were a UW football fan’s dream come true. They were also pretty damn good for Law and Order night.

As long as I have fall TV shows and football food, I suppose I’ll survive the short days and crisp air. With these wings, maybe I’ll even start getting into the season a little.

Sticky Blackberry Honey Hot Wings
24 chicken wings

2.5 cups blackberries
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 cup orange juice
1.5 tablespoons chipotle tabasco (or more to your liking..and you can use hot sauce of your choice plus a sprinkle of chipotle powder)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/4 cup melted butter
zest from 1 orange

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and put wings in for 40-50 minutes (until cooked through). While wings are baking, make sauce: puree berries, honey, ketchup, orange juice, hot sauce, brown sugar, and balsamic until smooth. If you dislike the seeds, strain (I like to leave them in). Mix puree with melted butter. Set aside.

After wings have cooked for 40-50 minutes, drain juices. Pour sauce over wings and coat evenly (you might have sauce leftover). Stick back in the 400 degree oven for 10 more minutes, turning often. About half way through, sprinkle a little more brown sugar on top, and mix in, sprinkle orange zest on top. For last few minutes of cooking, turn on broiler.

Reserve remaining sauce for dipping, or for another use (like eating with a spoon or dipping tortilla chips into or basting on salmon).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Brunch

I love breakfast and brunch…a lot. I like going out for brunch—the bloody mary bar at the Leary Traveler, the vegan pancake with fresh fruit from Portage Bay the spicy chilaquiles with black beans and eggs from Senor Moose, a cup of black coffee with super thick cream and a California scramble from the Rusty Pelican, an earthy chestnut pancake from Volterra, a veggie-filled hash from Hi-Life—if it’s a delicious brunch in Seattle, I’ve probably had it (or it's on my list...and if I haven’t heard of it or tried it, hook a sister up!). I like going out for brunch so much, that lately I’ve forgotten the one thing I like even more… making brunch at home.

My favorite go-to brunch is always a spin on the following: a thick piece of crusty bread topped with something green, sometimes a bit of breakfast meat, a fried, poached, or even scrambled egg, and sprinkle, slice, or shaving of cheese. No matter what combo you go with, it’s a no-fail winner. Lately I’ve been obsessed with roasted tomatoes, so today’s brunch was a toasted slice of French bread, topped with sweet tomatoes slow roasted in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and rosemary sea salt, peppery arugula tossed with a simple shallot vinaigrette, crispy baked pancetta, a fried egg, and a few shavings of Polder Gold Koe—a hard, nutty aged cow’s milk cheese I brought back from Amsterdam.

Compared with a restaurant brunch, making it at home costs less, tastes better, and has far fewer calories. What a satisfying way to start a Sunday.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Keeping Portland Weird

Last weekend 14 friends and I went to Portland for the Warrior Dash—a 3-mile RACE FROM HELL complete with obstacles like fire jumping, diving over floating logs, and the best part… a total, full-on mud bath. It was insane, it was awesome, I loved it. Did I mention that runners were dressed in costumes, ranging from furry loin cloths and Viking helmets to wedding dresses and 3-piece suits? Did I also mention that after the race there was a huge beer garden dance party, filled with muddy warriors chugging ale and gnawing on giant turkey legs (not to mention YouTube-worthy freak-dancing, but that’s another story). I told you… totally awesome.

Since we made the trek all the way down to P-town, we decided to get a hotel and celebrate our warrior-status with a night out. Now, I’ve spent a lot of time in Portland… growing up, Portland was our nearest big city, so we went there for all our school shopping, Christmas shopping, and all around mall shopping needs (that’s right… is an hour away from the closest mall). We also went to Portland for the airport, the train station, and school field trips. So during my adult years, while my friends took off on weekend getaways to Portland, I chose to stick around Seattle, or check out other towns cities I wasn’t so familiar with. However, it turns out I wasn’t very familiar with Portland at all (past the malls, anyway). Last weekend was my first grown up night on the town in Portland, and I loved it. With an earthy-hipster vibe and street food on every block, Portland is AMAZING!

Unlike Seattle, with its soul-crushing city ordinance against food carts, Portland is a food-cart mecca! Streets and parking lots are lined with food carts made from old campers and trailers, and serving up everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to Kahlua pork. It’s like a street festival or a fair… Every. Single. Day. I now know where all of the world’s dreamers go… they go to Portland. And they make street food. Wandering the lively streets of Portland late at night, after closing down the bars, I felt like a kid in a candy store… an inebriated, 20-something kid in a candy store filled with delicious street food.

After a very disappointing street quesadilla (I don’t want to give out a bad review, because that’s not my style… but… not a fan of one specific Portland dilla-cart that has chicken sausage on the menu... you’ve been warned), I needed the streets to redeem themselves. And that’s when I spotted the waffle place. Unfortunately, I don’t even know what this place is called. I wasn’t looking at the name; I was looking at the menu… and at the vanilla scented waffles, folded half, oozing with melted chocolate in other patron’s greedy hands. J-dub and I ordered 3 waffles. Hey…we jumped over fire, we deserved it! We had a ham and cheese, a maple pecan, and…wait for it… s’more! The s’more was everyone’s favorite. A chewy, golden waffle, filled with nutella and marshmallow cream, and folded in half…gooey, sweet perfection.

While in Portland, we also had to try a favorite for locals and tourists alike: VooDoo Doughnuts. You’ve seen it on TV… the little shop adorned with posters and voodoo dolls, with pierced and tatted-up donut slingers, and the famous holy-grail of all donuts, the maple bacon bar! If you haven’t seen it, you don’t watch enough travel or food TV (or maybe I watch too much).

Either way, we went, we stood in line for over an hour, and we got a dozen donuts, including the maple bacon bar, a giant squishy donut topped with Captain Crunch, and one with a mystery grape-flavored purple powder. Then Amanda, Evan, and I ate said dozen donuts, by ourselves, with help from no one. Was it worth the long wait? Duh.

Costumed leaps through fire, street-food galore, and donuts shaped like voodoo dolls...You’re weird Portland, but I like it. A lot. Keep it up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Europe Part 2: Brugge

I don’t know about all of you, but I always had a picture in my head of Europe. It was filled with narrow cobblestone streets, small brick houses with brightly colored shutters, serene canals with white swans drifting ever-so-peacefully by, and of course, giant, looming castles with waving flags, pointy tops, and huge wooden doors. I watched a lot of Disney movies as a kid.

Actually, now that I think of it…this image might be straight out of Beauty and the Beast. Regardless of where it came from, it was my Europe. Lucky for me, on my first ever European vacation, I was able to experience the Europe I had always dreamed of, full of swans, cobblestone streets, castles, shiny red apples, princesses, evil step-moms…

Ok, so maybe Brugge (Bruges), Belgium wasn’t exactly like my childhood visions, but it at least looked the part. Evan and I took a quick one-nighter to Brugge, via train from Amsterdam (wherein we accidentally sat in first class and after twenty minutes of luxury, were asked to move). Right when we walked into the picture-perfect medieval town, I knew I was in heaven. Actually, I knew that at the train station in Antwerp, when I had my first Liege-style Belgian sugar waffle. With just one bite of that waffle, I knew Belgium was going to be good.

Brugge was amazingly beautiful and breathtaking…but let’s get back to that waffle! Dense and chewy with hints of vanilla and crunchy bits of pearl sugar crystalized on top. It was amazing. I can’t really even explain how delicious it was because every time I think about it, my mind drifts off and I lose myself in daydreams filled with waffles. If you think waffles are strictly for breakfast, drowning in maple syrup and butter….you’ve never had a real Belgian waffle. We spent roughly 24 hours in Brugge, and I ate roughly 5 waffles… a couple plain, a couple with chocolate, one with ice cream. Not gonna lie…the train station kiosk waffle was my favorite.

Brugge, however, isn’t just about the waffles or the amazing old architecture. It’s also about the beer and the moules-frites! All of the adorable little restaurants had menus out front advertising their moules-frites: mussels with fries! I had the most delicious, steaming pot of mussels alongside a small dish of frites with mayo. Compared with the vlaamse in Amsterdam, the Belgian frites didn’t blow me away (crazy, right?) but the mussels… wow! They were fresh and bright, full of flavor. And I had a huge pot of them, all to myself.

And… no trip to Belgium is complete without sampling the local brew. Our favorite was the Kwak—a really delicious amber-colored beer with a funny glass and a great story. We drank a lot of Kwak. Then we got lost among the castles and towers, in the pouring rain, heads fuzzy from beer, late at night trying to find our way back to our cozy room in a tiny little bed and breakfast. We wandered the dark, quiet little streets of Brugge, dripping wet, literally walking in circles for well over an hour. By the time we finally found it, my only pair of jeans was soaked through and my shoes were squishing…but I’d do it all over again for a sugary waffle and a tall glass of Kwak.

Our stay in Brugge was brief, but it was just long enough to reignite my fantasy of a fairytale Europe, and to give me enough pictures—on film and in my head—to keep the magic alive until next time!
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