Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two days in Seattle

B and I are coming to the end of a very short trip in Seattle (B had a conference). Our United flight up yesterday morning was too early in the morning and cramped as usual, had friendly staff and got in twenty minutes early. In spite of the myriad problems with Priceline — I hope never to shop through Priceline again — we successfully picked up a car from Budget at the airport without a long wait. We went to the Tacoma Museum of Glass, had lunch at Pike Place Market, explored the Seattle Art Museum, and enjoyed a serviceable dinner at Cedars Restaurant. The hotel — the Holiday Inn Express, another Priceline find — is friendly and cheap, and worth it only because we rented a car. Pros: free wifi and printing. Cons: the bathroom smelled like cigarettes when we arrived, and there was no hot water until this morning.

Today we explored UW. We worked a few hours over coffee at Solstice, stopped in at the University bookstore, and lunched at Wayward Vegan, which was fine but oversalted (the tempeh reubens are better in Eugene). We had intermittent sunbreaks all day, but a few hours of sun in the afternoon was enough to see the center of campus and the church-like library. Dinner was excellent at Village Sushi: we shared all dishes, starting (after salad and miso) with the six-piece Chef's Choice sashimi (tuna, salmon, escolar, shiromi, snapper, and scallops with roe), and then moving on to tuna lightly seared in sesame and dressed in a citrus-soy dressing and served over greens, and finished the dinner first with unagi (eel) and then a very tasty uni (urchin). Both in the afternoon and then after dinner, we went to Chaco Canyon, my new favorite cafe. Chaco is all organic and very hippie: drinks consisting of vegetables passed through a blender, bowls of tofu and quinoa, and raw vegan raspberry tart.

Tomorrow if the weather holds we'll go to the zoo, maybe back to Chaco for lunch, and then to the airport. If the weather is bad, probably Experience Music Project? Then I hop on a plane to Eugene to visit my parents and B hops on a plane to Salt Lake City to go through the archives at Bringham Young University.

Update 12 June 2010:

I finally posted pictures from the Seattle trip on Picasa. There are a few from outside the Tacoma Glass Museum, Pike Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum, and the UW campus. And there are a lot from the Seattle Zoo — the weather held. You can view the slide show here, or click on it to go to the Picasa page:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Salmon chowder

I think I'm finally up-to-date with posting pictures here. We'll see how long that lasts. Last night we made a fantastic salmon chowder.

Begin by making the fumet: simmer the head (gills removed) and bones of a whole salmon (you should be able to get such scraps from your fishmonger, for around $1/lb), along with some ends of leeks, in just enough water to cover for about half an hour.

Meanwhile, start sauteing leeks, sliced, in a little butter or olive oil. Add some salt and, once the leeks soften, add just enough milk to cover. Dice two sweet potatoes and add to the leeks-and-milk.

When the fumet is done, strain it and add some to the soup. Add also 1/2 lb salmon trimmings (the bits of fish that the fishmonger cuts off the fillets to make them even, and so sells for half price), which will poach pretty much instantly. Stir in one cup cream, and maybe a little more fumet because although you like stew, you don't want the soup too thick. Adjust the salt and serve the very rich soup with a lightly-chilled cab-merlot blend or pinot noir.

Butterfish burgers

The idea for these burgers comes from the most recent issue of Food & Wine, which we receive without ever signing up or paying for it — the magazine is mostly ads but occasionally has good recipes. I'll copy out the recipe in full, although we used butterfish and different toppings and pan-fried the patties:
Tune Niçoise Burgers

Total: 30 minutes
4 Servings
  • 1 ¼ pounds fresh tuna, diced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 12 pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Extra-virgen olive oil, for brushing
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 4 brioche buns, split and toasted
  • Sliced tomatoes and arugula, for serving
1. Spread the tuna, scallions, olives and capers on a plate and freeze for 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pule until the tuna is finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Form the mixture into four 4-inch patties.

2. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the burgers with olive oil and grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and crusty and just cooked through, about 6 minutes.

3. In a bowl, mix the mayonnaise and anchovy paste; spread on the buns. Top with the burgers, tomato and arugula, close and serve.

Wine: Strawberry-scented Provençal rosé: 2009 Note Bleue.

Salmon baked over couscous pilaf

We more or less followed this recipe, but additionally we topped the salmon with julienned scallions and chopped fresh ginger.

Pizza with sauteed onions, mozarella, romano, and broccoli greens

Cream of mushroom soup

Salmon baked in parchment with tomatoes, onions, and capers

Prepare a salsa with one large jar canned whole peeled plum tomatoes (one of our best batches!), one red onion, greens of one spring onion, a large spoonful of capers, and some olive oil and black pepper. Check that your salmon steaks are completely descaled, and place one steak in the center of a large piece of parchment. Top with plenty of salsa. Fold up the parchment and staple it closed. Then fold the parchment packet up again in a large piece of foil. Bake in a preheated oven 15-20 minutes. Open up the packets on the plate, and enjoy!

Picnic at Point Lobos

B and I love picnics. Before the closing-night performance of the San Francisco ballet (a wonderful production of Romeo and Juliet), we went to Point Lobos (as opposed to the other Point Lobos) and had a fantastic picnic of shucked extra-small oysters, homemade baguette, brie, home-grown peas, strawberries from our CSA, and red wine. Then we walked the mile-long trail, and then drove to the ballet, sneaking in chocolate-covered almonds for dessert.

Rather than post many pictures here, I will encourage you to click through the google-generated slide show (as always, click any picture for a larger version):

Broccoli flowers from the garden

We took out the broccoli last weekend and put in peppers: two sweet peppers and one spicy. There were few leaves left to eat, but we kept the broccoli flowers for a few days.

Whole wheat penne with sauteed mire poix and fava beans

Spring poached salmon salad

Our fishmonger recently got a hold of some Oregon salmon, and we have been devouring it greedily. We poached salmon in a broth made from onions, celery, and carrots. We also boiled halved spring white onions, and briefly blanched peas, carrots, and celery. We made a dressing of shallots macerated in cider vinegar. Then we assembled the salads, and topped them with fresh flowers form the garden: sage, thyme, and broccoli.

Tuna ceviche tartare

Our recipe followed reasonably closely this one from The New York Times. We substituted parsley for the cilantro and dropped the hot pepper.

Campanelle with canned tomatoes, leeks, and mushrooms

Lunch: poach eggs over wheat berry and salad

We mixed leftover wheat berry with minced onion and vinaigrette. We served the wheat berry over washed but otherwise undressed mixed greens, and topped the salad with two poached eggs, over which we shaved radishes. Accompanying lunch we had cappuccino — B is a very good barista.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rare albacore tuna, with fennel, radishes, and shallot vinaigrette

This was one of our all time most delicious dinners, and we have had some pretty delicious dinners. The recipe comes from Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. We didn't follow it completely, but I'll copy out the recipe for you nontheless:

Rare Yellowfin Tuna with Coriander and Fennel Seed

Since the ingredients are available almost all year, this dish has become a popular and versatile mainstay on the menu. However, it requires the freshest, most pristine tuna you can fine. The tuna is seared very briefly, so the fish remains quite rare, almost like sashimi.

Serves 6 to 8
  • 2 pounds center-cut tuna
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds

  • 3 small shallots, diced fine
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • Salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed
  • 1 small bunch radishes, trimmed
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, tough stems removed

Ask your fishmonger for 2 pieces of tuna weight 1 pound each, the pieces about 3 inches in diameter and 8 inches long. Rub the tuna fillets with olive oil and season generously with salt and cracked pepper. In a mortar, crush the coriander and fennel seeds coarsely, until their fragrance is released. Sprinkle the crushed seeds evenly over the tuna, pressing them into the flesh. This can be done several hours before cooking. Hold in the refrigerator.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Carefully place the seasoned tuna in the skillet and sear for 30 seconds on each side. Remove the tuna to a platter and cool for an hour or so at room temperature.

Make a vinaigrette by macerating the shallots in the lemon juice and Champagne vinegar with a good pinch of salt for 10 minutes. WHisk in the olive oil, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

Use a very sharp knife to slice the tuna into even ⅛-inch slices. Place 2 slices side-by-side on each serving plate. Using a japanese manfolin, shave the fennel bulb into thin ribbons and strew them over the fish. Shave over some radish slices in the same way. The result should be a playful mosaic effect. Splash the vinaigrette over the tuna, fennel, and radishes. Add a light sprinkling of salt. Roughly chop the cilantro, scatter it over each plate, and serve.

Stir fry of prawns, mushrooms, and chard; wheat berry

Salade Niçoise

Grilled asparagus pizza

B had offered to make pizza on April 28, because I had a late seminar. I arrived home to a fantastic dinner:

Rigatoni with white beans and red chard

When you need to make dinner quick, bring salted water to a boil, wash and chop a head of red chard, begin sauteing some onion in a wok in copious amounts of olive oil, add the pasta to the water, add the greens to the wok and cover, open a can of white beans, add the beans to the stir fry, grate cheese in the food processor, drain the pasta, toss it in with the vegetables, taste for salt, open a bottle of white wine, and serve.

Cream of cauliflower soup with homemade baguette

B made this wonderful dinner for us and a friend of ours. He described the soup as "cream of everything in the fridge": after sauteing and boiling cauliflower, leeks, and celery, he blended the soup with the immersion blender. The cauliflower gets very creamy — no dairy necessary. We garnished the soup with parsley and broccoli flowers from the garden.

Pad Thai

Inspired by the New York Times.

Tuna sashimi

What do you do when you have a full pound of sushi-grade tuna and no white rice in the house? Cut it for sashimi, and entertain yourself making radish roses.

Halibut with indian spices, served over braising greens

Begin by peeling and coarsely chopping an inch or so each of fresh ginger root and fresh turmeric root. Peel also a few cloves garlic. Combine the spices with a little salt and olive oil and process in the cuisinart.

Apply a thin coat of olive oil to the bottom of a broiling pan, and place on it two half-pound fillets of halibut skin-side-down. Spread between half and two-thirds of the spice mixture on top of the fish. Heat the broiler and cook ten minutes.

Meanwhile, melt a small nub of butter at the bottom of a medium saucepan and add the last third-to-half of the spices. Wash half a pound of braising mix (mixed baby cooking greens: kales, chards, amaranth, etc.) and add to the saucepan while some of the washing water is still clinging to the greens. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let the greens steam and reduce. They should only take ten minutes if they are tender. Stir the wilted greens into the spice mixture and then taste and adjust the salt.

If you are instead using older greens, or something thicker like collard greens or mustard greens, cook the greens for longer, and only begin cooking the fish when the greens are almost ready.

Plate in the kitchen. First cover each plate with a thick bed of the cooked greens. Then, using a metal spatula, remove the fish from the broiling pan all in one piece, leaving the skin behind. Serve with a strong, dark purple-red wine to complement the bitter greens and spices, and also to complement the vibrant green and orange colors.

Salade Niçoise

Strawberry rhubarb tartlets

Pies for us:

Pies for B's meeting with his professors:

Two pizzas: mushroom and tomato; asparagus