Archive for the ‘the husband’ Category

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

What I Did this Spring

Sometime back in February, I fell off the blogging grid. Where was I? What was I doing? Well, here’s a recap (with lots of photos):

I threw an epic Momofuku Dinner party with Bo Ssam, Sous Vide Hangar Steak Ssam, home-made Kimchi, Rice, Roasted Cauliflower and a whole mess of sauces. All from the Momofuku Cookbook by David Chang. Wow! Oh, and I created some specialty cocktails too, the Cucumber Bliss (cucumber infused vodka, ginger liqueur, lychee juice and meyer lemon bitters) and the Ginger Collins (ginger vodka, lime juice, orange bitters and club soda).

Since it just happened to be one of my good friend’s birthdays, I topped dinner off with the Apple Pie Layer Cake from Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tossi. One of my guests declared it the best cake he had ever eaten. I’m not sure he was wrong.

Just a couple of weeks later I upheld my tradition of cooking dinner as my gift for another set of my friend’s birthdays (they’re a couple and their birthdays are on two consecutive days). I made giant ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and an egg yolk, plain cheese ravioli for the kid’s, Caesar salad (my friend loves my version) and home-made foccacia bread.

I finished that dinner off with another cake from Milk, the Confetti Cake. Not quite as good as the Apple Pie Layer Cake, but still tasty (and fun, especially for their kids).

Next up in my trio of birthdays was my own. I wasn’t planning a celebration this year but my husband insisted. We hosted a small group of friends for a crab boil, Dungeness Crab, Spot Prawns, Mussels, corn, potatoes and some Andouille Sausage that I made, stuffed and smoked myself. I also made all the crab dipping sauces found in Becky Selengut’s cookbook Good Fish: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the Pacific Coast. While the avocado herb sauce and lemon panko sauces were both good, the soy caramel made me want to pick up the bowl and lick it out when the meal was done. I’m not even joking a little here. And of course there were custom drinks including the Arecibo Sidecar with pear-infused brandy, triple sec, home-made limon-limettachello and meyer lemon bitters in a sugar-rimmed martini glass (and in case you’re wondering, Arecibo is the name of our house).

One more birthday, one more excuse to cook from Milk. For my own birthday I decided to make the carrot layer cake. I really wanted to make the pistachio layer cake (because I love, LOVE pistachios) but just a couple of the ingredients totaled $80 and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that. Happily, the carrot cake was really good (even though it didn’t set up very well because I undercooked the liquid cheesecake). Moist and not overly sweet.

Once we finished dessert I found out why my husband was so insistent that we have a party. He had been working for weeks (maybe months) on an edition of Trivial Pursuit personalized just for me (as in, all of the questions pertained to trivia about me). One of the sweetest things he’s ever done.

He also bought me a PlayStation with lots of video games. I lost a lot of March to Skyrim. Some people say video games are a waste of time but as my husband is fond of quoting “Time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted” -John Lennon

I managed to pull myself away from video games long enough to cater a couple of big parties.

We dog sat (that’s our dog Rupert on the left and the one we were dog-sitting, Penny, on the right).

I made some slap-yo-mama good Balsamic-Mint-Strawberry Jam

Somewhere around here I started feeling under the weather. Which for me means one thing, my (not so) secret shame, cup noodles. Something about them is magical when I don’t feel good.

While still not feeling 100% I co-hosted a baby shower. Since I was sick I had a lot of time on my hands to make some custom decorations. As for the food, we made pesto chicken salad, Mediterranean tuna salad, pasta salad with preserved zucchini and tomato confit, greens topped with strawberries, goat cheese and pecans, roasted asparagus with aioli and pinot noir syrup, confetti cookies (again from Milk) and cake balls and pops. I spent a lot of the party having coughing fits (and drinking shots of vodka to try to calm them, wheeee).

And since time marches on whether you feel good or not, we had this delivered, 27 cubic yards of dirt (for reference, there is a 16′ x 20′ tarp under there).

We dog sat again.

After three weeks I finally gave up and went to the doctor…

…twice. Thank the maker for modern medicine. Curse you asthma-riddled lungs.

Meanwhile my husband (and some friends and hired guns) were moving all of that dirt. I helped some by pulling weeds. A lot of weeds, actually. And I did some planting in the one area that now had all the dirt it needed.

Finally through the miracle of antibiotics (and the best cough syrup I’ve ever had) I started feeling better. We celebrated with a day away from the garden.

And some plant shopping.

Eventually, we got to the fun part of the gardening project, the planting. Made slightly less fun because it had to be done in the rain, but we’re troopers. And, lets face it, there are times in Seattle where if you wait for it to stop raining, you are never going to go outside.

We spent the night at a friend’s house and she made us Dutch Baby Pancake for breakfast.

We went to a BBQ where we ate brisket and drank bourbon.

We piled the dog into the car and drove to Boise to visit my mom and mom-in-law.

We spent the day at my mom’s cabin. What a view.

Back in Boise we ate some pretty great Basque food at Epi’s. Chorizo with pimentos, ham croquetas, Txerri Txuletax Pipperrakin (pork chops with pimentos) and gateau Basque for dessert.

We celebrated Rupert’s 6th Birthday with a ride back to Seattle.

I went to the BlogHer Food Conference in Seattle (meh), made some fun new friends and ate this (they called it potato salad). How about we all agree to stop “deconstructing” food, hmmm?

We went to a Dodgers vs. Mariners game and had a beer (or two) in memory of my Dad (the Dodger’s were his favorite). I’m pretty sure the grand slam hit by the Dodgers was just for him.

We dog sat. Again.

We finished the last of the gardening (except for the never-ending weeding) by planting a few vegetables in my new raised beds.

And last weekend, since we were rained out from camping, we took a drive to Mt. Vernon to retrieve our newest backyard decoration from our friends at Bistro San Martin who had wrangled him for us. We call him Chicken Boo (you’ll get the name if you ever watched the Animaniacs). I love him. Our dog is scared of him.

In between all this craziness, I still managed to work, teach classes, swim and even, occasionally, do house work.

I can’t wait to see what summer will bring…

xxx

 

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island

Back in January, after reading a New York Times wrote an article titled 10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride, I began plotting our trip. I figured, if it’s worth a plane ride, it must be worth a two-hour car trip. Looking at our calendar (and the hotel’s calendar), our first chance would be … September. Oh my, such a long wait. But again, if it’s worth a plane ride, it has to be worth waiting nine months.

Finally the time was here. Lummi Island is normally serviced be a car ferry, but for three weeks every September the car ferry is dry docked and the island is only serviced by a passenger ferry. If we had been staying more than night, I might have been disappointed not to have a car, but since ours was to be a very quick trip, and the hotel was very nice about picking us up at the car ferry, we decided to just go with it.

We arrived with enough time to relax in our room for a while before heading down for pre-dinner cocktails. It was a gorgeous sunny day so we decided to relax on the deck with cocktails and snacks.

My favorite of the drinks I enjoyed was the Spotted Owl made with Aviation gin, nettle purée, Douglas fir eau de vie, lemon, simple syrup.

Tangy and refreshing with a shocking green color. Our options for snacks were marinated cheese or turkey confit. Since I am mad for cheese, that is what we decided to have. I absolutely loved the simple presentation of the cheese presented in a jar.

Finally it was time for dinner. At our table we were greeted with menus detailing the five-course meal that was to come (and some sparkling wine). I am a strong believer that when you’re having a tasting menu, unless you have an actual sensitivity to certain foods, you should eat what the chef prepares. I may not be the biggest fan of fish in the world, but it just doesn’t make sense to me not to eat what the chef feels he cooks best. That being said, I was a little relieved to see that there was only one course that would have fish. Then I started looking over the back of the menu, where the provenance of the ingredients being used were listed. Salmon, clams and oysters were all listed but they were nowhere to be found on the menu. That’s when we found out about the snacks.

They started bringing out plate upon plate of one- to two-bite snacks. Many of them fish, most of them delicious (you never know what you might find out you like).

Snacks:

Smoked reefnet sockeye salmon
This was served in a closed wooden box with something burning beneath it so when the lid was taken off the box a delightful little puff of smoke came out and filled the air.

Salmon roe roll
Salmon I can live with, enjoy even. Salmon roe on the other hand is often a little too “fishy” for me. However, the crispy roll and the cream filling were very tasty.

Potato chip with homemade sauerkraut and black cod
Not much to say about this one. The title of the dish pretty much tells you exactly what it is. Didn’t love it or hate it.

Farm basket with herb emulsion
Basically a deconstructed salad with a basket of greens and vegetable tops, hazelnut “dirt” and herb dressing served in a little terra cotta pot. Fun, but a little messy. We got “dirt” crumbs everywhere.

Butter clam, cucumber, geoduck and potato, served with frozen horseradish
I liked all the components of this dish, but the horseradish “snow” that was served with it was my favorite part. It’s a little hard to describe, but picture a spicy snow cone and you’ll come close.

Kale toast with black truffle purée and rye crumble
My favorite of the snacks, the combination of crisp cooked kale (not sure if it was fried or baked) along with the truffle was fantastic.

Pickled oysters with garden sorrel

The presentation of this dish was just stunning. River rocks frozen in ice with the oysters atop. Unfortunately oysters are one of the flavors I really don’t like. I know I’m supposed to (it’s one of those things chefs are supposed to just like) but I have never met an oyster I enjoyed. But I’ll keep trying…

So, now we’re seven plates in and we haven’t even started dinner. Oh my.

First course
Organic grains with pickled mushrooms

The grains in question were emmer, barley, farro and spelt and they were in a slightly bitter sauce (made from watercress, I think). The pickled mushrooms added a nice counter balance.

Second course
Squid with kohlrabi and seaweed and an oyster emulsion
I’ve never had squid before in any form other than fried. I liked this dish (except for the oyster emulsion) but squid probably isn’t going to become a “OMG they have fresh squid I have to order that” kind of thing any time soon.

Just when we thought they were done bringing out snacks they brought out one more.
White anchovies with pickled elderberries in a brown butter sauce
The look on my husband’s face when a whole anchovy was sat down in front of him was priceless. While I’m not a huge fan of fish, my husband really doesn’t like it. But, being adventurous eaters we went for it. I was pleasantly surprised (and I really liked the brown butter sauce) while the husband, well, not so much.

Third course
Nettles farm hen’s egg with summer vegetables and lemon verbena sauce

This was described as every vegetable currently in season on the farm served with a poached egg (though technically it was a sous vide egg yolk not a poached egg). This was my favorite dish of the night. Perfectly ripe vegetables, some pickled, some cooked, some raw surrounding a perfectly cooked, creamy egg yolk. Each bite was a little different depending on which vegetables happened to be on the fork and the yolk and lemon verbena sauce made for a totally tasty dressing.

Fourth course
Slow roasted pork shoulder with grilled onions

There were at least three different types of onions surrounding a tender piece of pork shoulder. The pork had a slightly sweet, tangy barbecue type sauce as well as an onion au jus. Outstanding.

Before the dessert course they brought out a single paper husked cape gooseberry as a palette cleanser. So much better than sorbet.

Fifth course
Green apples with buttermilk and licorice

This had apple sorbet topped with buttermilk foam and surrounded by very (very) thin slices of apple and some kind of licorice gel chips. A very intriguing combination.

Finally, because we hadn’t had nearly enough, we were presented with flax seed caramels. Yes.

After dinner I was allowed to go into the kitchen and chat with the chef for a while. I am always amazed when I go in a kitchen and it turns out to be tiny (and without much special equipment). For most of the meal, the doors to the kitchen were left open so I got to enjoy watching the staff assemble all of our delicious plates. I’m always surprised when a kitchen is so calm and quiet when they are producing that kind of food. P.S. the chef said that my idea for sous vide paté was genius (which I have to say made me feel pretty darn good about myself).

Finally we made our way back to our room where we were greeted by chocolates on our pillows. The hot tub was calling my name but the bed called louder.

The next morning we returned to the dining room for breakfast and then the concierge gave us a ride up to visit Nettles Farm. I love that all of the vegetables, herbs, berries and flowers that we ate throughout our meal came from a farm less than a mile away. We spied on the chickens and pilfered a few tomatoes from their vines.

 

With that we walked back to the Inn and then got a ride back to the ferry. Our quick trip suddenly over.

So, was it worth the wait and the drive? I would answer with a resounding yes as this will get a place in my top ten meal list. Though I’m not sure I would make the effort again (I like to spread my fine dining experiences around a little).

 

The fish-hating husband, however. Well he had a different take. You can read all about how a non-fish eater with the palette of a five-year old copes with a meal like this right here.

 

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Peanut Butter Pie, for Mikey

Between my second and third year of college I spent the summer working at a Lutheran summer camp, Camp Perkins, which is about 45 minutes outside of Sun Valley, Idaho. It was the summer camp that I went to growing up and it still holds a fond place in my heart. I was a counselor assistant and spent most of my time in the kitchen. Each morning, a rotating group of counselors and counselor assistants would meet early, before breakfast, for morning prayers. Generally, our time was focused on a story or topic that one of the counselors had found. One story, even after 20 years, still sticks with me.

The (true) story was about a couple. Since the day they had fallen in love, they had made a habit of saying ” love you” every time they parted. Sometimes, of course, this was hard. The story related how even at times when they had been arguing, the last thing they said to each other was “I love you, even if it was through gritted teeth. It almost became a game, just a silly thing that they did, but every time one said it the other knew it was true.

On the morning of the accident, her husband was running late. He had an important meeting to get to and was in a hurry to get on the road. He left the house and got in the car, just saying goodbye. His wife came after him, in pajamas and curlers, and ran to the car. He laughed and said “I love you” and she said it back.

That was the last thing she ever said to him. He never made it into the office that day. Another driver hit and killed him on his drive. Even though her heart was shattered, she felt a sense of peace knowing that the last thing she said to him was “I love you”.

 

Earlier this week, a food blogger from New York, Jennie Perillo, suddenly lost her husband and father to her two small children. Even though I’ve never met any of them I found this news incredibly sad. Although I’ve seen this kind of loss before, when my mom lost her husband (my dad), I have a heard time comprehending what that would be like to go through firsthand.

Jennie wrote a short blog post. She’d been meaning to make him his favorite pie but there was never enough time in the day. “Ill make it tomorrow” she said. But now, suddenly all the tomorrows are gone.

She asked simply that today, if you wanted to help her heal, you make a peanut butter pie and share it with someone you love. So today, I made a pie for Mikey, with healing thoughts and prayers for Jennie and her family, and I’ll be sharing it with my husband, the love of my life. The man that I have made sure to say “I love you” to (sometimes through gritted teeth) every time we part. Because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

 

Get the recipe here: www.injennieskitchen.com

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Dinner for Friends

I live by a few major tenets when it comes to food related gifts.

1. If you give me a gift of something like, say, fruit off of your tree, you can count on getting some of it back in a new improved form (pie, jam, infused liquor, etc.).

2. If I do happen to give you a jar of jam or chutney or what not and you don’t return the jar to me, I probably won’t give you more jarred goods (the cost of jars really starts to add up).

3. If you and a bunch of my other friends get together and buy me an expensive new toy for the kitchen, I’m going to make you a fancy dinner.

That last one, number three, that happened this Christmas. My husband and several friends all chipped in to get me this:

A Sous Vide Supreme Demi (and a vacuum food saver, since it is integral to the process). I decided to make a dinner that would show off what I think are the best features of cooking sous vide (French for under pressure).

Over the span of a couple of weeks of planning my menu developed into five courses. I wanted to do a fish course too, because that is a place where the sous vide method really shines, but my friends include one with a salmon allergy and one that hates all things that used to swim in the sea (I also had to work around dislikes of winter squash, hazelnuts, raisins, olives and one friend with a dislike of vegetables in general). I also did a cocktail pairing to go with each course, ’cause that’s how I roll.

My awesome friend Dawn took a lot of the pictures that follow (and also helped clear the table, serve drinks and load the dishwasher). Not sure I could have done it without her (well, I could have, but it would have been way less fun and there would be like five photos).

Here we go…

xxx

Eggs are especially nice cooked sous vide. The whites are just set and the yolks get really creamy, almost custard like. I also took this opportunity to serve of some of my home cured duck prosciutto (in fact, this is the same salad I developed and posted the recipe for just a couple of weeks ago).

xxx

If you’ve ever opened up a can of park and beans, you’ve seen that sorry excuse for a piece of pork just floating there on top. Well, my pork and beans instead featured a large square of my home-cured bacon which I finished sous vide instead of in the oven (I’ll be posting more about my bacon experiments soon). Cornbread seemed like the perfect accompaniment.

xxx

The beauty of chicken cooked sous vide is that it can safely be cooked to only 140°f (where the normal safe temperature is 165°f) because it is cooked for at least an hour. This makes for exceptionally moist chicken. I served it with a plum chutney that I canned over the summer and a mustard vinaigrette. The carrots were also cooked sous vide with a touch of butter and a bit of brown sugar. Even my vegetable hating guest said that they were tasty.

xxx

Another strength of cooking sous vide is the ability to turn a tough cut of meat into a something that is tender and delicious. Generally I would cook short ribs in a braise. Sure they turn out great but they have to be cooked well-done. With the sous vide, they can be cooked medium-rare (130°f) but since they are cooked for 48 (or even 72) hours they still get super tender. I adapted a recipe from Grant Achatz’s Alinea Cookbook using the root beer cure and the fennel recipes found on page 356 (though I cooked my fennel sous vide). However, since I am not a “foam” person, instead of a vanilla-potato foam I roasted potatoes with vanilla salt and a vanilla bean (though I’ll admit they got a little over cooked). I also completely forget to make the poached prunes. I was four cocktails in after all.

xxx

Lastly I made what I called my “Ode to the Captain” (Captain Crunch, that is). I will have a post with pictures of the process and a recipe later this week. But for now…

xxx

Thanks to all my awesome friends (and my even more awesome husband) for the great gift and a great night!

xxx

P.S. Five courses, with five cocktail equals a lot of dishes to put away.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

I Highly Recommend NOT Having Your Foot in a Cast

On April 12 I had ankle surgery. The surgeon found lots of damage. A patch of arthritis and a couple of ganglion cysts were removed, a tear in one of my tendons was repaired and a rather large (as the surgeon called it) bone spur was burred off.

But perhaps the thing that will affect my ankle the most was that the surgeon “tightened up” my ankle ligaments. He used what is called the “pants over vest” method which basically means he folded the ligaments over on themselves and then stitched ’em up real good. The recovery time for this procedure is six weeks, non-weight bearing, in a cast.

I went with red.

I am especially happy for the invention of knee scooters because even with their faults (they really need a tighter turning radius) it is certainly better than six weeks on crutches, ugh.

I had all kind of plans for what I would do with my recovery time. I’ve been meaning to type a few new recipes into my menu planner (and organize the ones I already have a little better). I was going to fix all of the photos that went missing when I had to move my blog. I was going to take an online Photoshop class. The thing is, all these plans I had involved the computer and I quickly found that if I sat at my desk at the computer my ankle swelled up inside my cast and it made me miserable. I tried moving my laptop and working with it on the couch (so I could keep my ankle elevated) but It just wouldn’t work for me. My back hurt, my wrist hurt, my elbow hurt. It just wasn’t meant to be.

I wish I was more of a reader because this would obviously have been a great time to get some reading done, but for some reason the only time I really enjoy reading is when I am camping (and then I can’t get enough of it). I did devour a stack of magazines that a friend dropped off with my husband and I caught up on 10 or so Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season eight comic books (which were great). I also kept on on Food Blogs which let me enjoy the start of spring produce vicariously.

I spent a lot of time watching TV. I generally watch quite a bit of TV but I had it on almost all the time while I was recovering. I also spent time on Twitter and Facebook. I can count on one hand the number of times I left the house in six weeks and while I had some visitors they were few and far between. I felt completely cut off from the outside world so my social media outlets helped me to fell a little more connected. It’s funny because my job involves me being alone a lot of the time but I guess the two minutes I spend talking to my produce guys and the checkers and baggers at the grocery store are important to my sanity. I can definitely say I can’t see myself becoming agoraphobic any time soon.

I’m grateful that my Mom came to help me out in the few days right after my surgery. It was  especially difficult to get around the first few days so having someone there during the day (when my husband was at work) was wonderful. I’m also grateful for the friends that did come by. Visits from Nicole, Dawn, Cathy and Irene lifted my spirits immeasurably.

I’ve always considered myself lucky for finding the man I call my husband but in the last six weeks he has been amazing. So patient with my requests (especially on my cranky days), fetching me whatever I might need. Meals, beverages, blankets, even lilacs from the back yard. Whatever I asked for I received. He made my recovery so much easier.

I’ve been out of my cast and in a walking boot for two days. So much better (but not without it’s own difficulties). I get my next box of goodies from Full Circle Farm on Wednesday. I can hardly wait to get back in the kitchen (the stove is actually dusty) and back to cooking up yummy meals.

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Mussels with Fennel and Orange Broth

Mussels may be the husband’s favorite food. This always seems a little weird to me because he despises fish (although he will eat tilapia or halibut if coerced) and doesn’t like clams or oysters. He, like me, is a big fan of escargot though, so maybe it’s a texture thing (they always seems similar to me).

When I got fennel in the box I immediately thought of using it with mussels because I think fennel matches nicely with seafood (but, as mentioned, the husband doesn’t like other seafood). Then I started to think about what matches with fennel. Here’s what I came up with.

2 tablespoon butter
1 head fennel, trimmed, core removed and diced
1 bunch red scallion, diced (any other sweet onion or even leeks would work instead)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup orange juice
1 sprig thyme, leaves removed
2 pounds mussels, beards removed

1 loaf of crusty bread (to sop up the delicious broth)

I started by melting the butter over medium heat in a saucier (a stock pot would work just fine). I added the fennel, onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and let it all sweat until fennel and onion were cooked through. Next I added the wine, orange juice and thyme and brought the mixture to a boil.

Then I added the mussels to the pan. Gave it a stir.

Then put the lid on and let them cook. After six minutes I checked them and decided they needed a little more time (they were still slimy in the middle). Three minutes later I dished them up.

The husband enjoyed the dish immensely. I always like it when I make a dish he really enjoys (he is just so picky). I enjoyed the mussels well enough, but the broth was definitely my favorite part of the dish (it always is). Yummy bread, sweet, tangy broth. What could be wrong with that?

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

What the Husband Likes to Eat

At least he has pretty good presentation skills.

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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