Monday, February 27, 2012

Brunch at Screen Door

Happy Monday, loyal readers. I yet again have the problem that I really haven't been cooking enough to blog about cooking. Thank goodness that even when I am not cooking, I am still eating. So here are some pictures of a brunch that Santina and I shared at Screen Door back in January. 

There is a lot of good food and great restaurants in Portland. It's so hard to say that any one restaurant is my favorite, but if I really had to pick, it would be Screen Door. I went for the first time for the first birthday I spent in Portland back in 2006. My little sister was visiting, and for a birthday present she picked out a restaurant for dinner and took me there. That restaurant was Screen Door, and at the time it was the hot new place to go. That dinner, and every meal I have had at Screen Door since, was perfection.

Screen Door was also one of Santina's favorite spots when she lived in Portland, so we decided to brunch there. A handy thing about living two blocks away like I do is that I can put my name in, then head home to drink mimosas until I am called back to my table. That's exactly what Santina and I did.

I was thrilled to see lemon sticky buns as a special at brunch, so I ordered that and the breakfast corndogs. Delish. Santina got something with eggs. Ew. She liked it though, so that's good.

If you're ever in Portland, try Screen Door.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Southern-Style Collards and Ham Hocks

Today is Mardi Gras, the last day of unabashed revelry before the 40 long days and nights of Lent begin. To celebrate, here is a good old Southern dish and the perfect Southern drink, a Sazerac. 

And a Mardi Gras manicure...

Yes, those are an attempt at tits on my thumbs. When I showed Santina my Mardi Gras manicure, she was disappointed at the lack of boobs, so I added some to my thumbs. It was her idea to put one on each thumb to form a rack when they are together. They kind of look more like scary eyes, but they make me laugh, so I am happy with them. Longest caption ever.

Eat up, drink up, and get out there, show your titties, and win some beads. 

1 large ham hock
4 lbs collard greens
2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
Apple cider vinegar
Hot sauce

1.  Place the ham hock in a large pot.  Cover with water plus about an inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the meat is falling apart, about 1 hour. Add more water as the water boils away.

2.  Meanwhile, clean the greens and strip them from the stalk. I actually like the stalk, so I leave some of it on, but definitely get rid of any stalk that is large and tough. Roll several leaves together and cut into ~1 inch strips. Do this for all the leaves.

3.  When your ham hocks become tender add the collards, sugar, and a healthy dose of vinegar (I added about a cup) to the pot. Add collards to the pot until the pot is full. Most likely all of the collards will not fit. Allow the collards to cook down and continue adding until all of your greens fit in the pot. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, until collards are tender. Stir your collards often and keep sufficient water level to all the collards to simmer. About halfway through cooking add salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Serve with a couple dashes of hot sauce, corn bread, and a sazerac (recipe below). I did not make corn bread, and I really wish I had.  Next time.

The Sazerac is one of my all time favorite drinks, but I don't make it all the often. I am terrified that if I make them too often, I will get sick of them. I limit myself to one or two a week, max.

1 cube sugar
1 1/2 ounces Rye Whiskey
1/4 ounce Absinthe
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Lemon peel

1. Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice.

2. In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube.

3. Add the whiskey to the second glass containing the bitters and sugar.

4. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Absinthe, then discard the remaining Absinthe.

5. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass. Rub the lemon peel around the rim of the glass, and place on the edge of the glass, but do not put lemon peel into the drink. (My lemon peel fell in my glass. It should know better than that.)

As a last word, here is Santina with an example of a way to show your titties that will win you no beads.

Bon appetit.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Roast Beef with Roasted Tomato Chimichurri

This roast beef is sort of a big deal for me because I have never made roast beef. One of the three cuts of meat left from my 2010 cow was a sirloin tip roast. It lingered in my freezer for this long because I don't know off the top of my head what to do with a sirloin tip roast. Apparently you roast it. Which I did. And it was delicious.

The best-sounding recipe I found by googling "sirloin tip roast" was for a Sirloin Tip Roast with Spicy Roasted Tomato Sauce. Looking at the recipe, the sauce was just chimichurri with roasted tomatoes in it. I am calling a spade a spade and changing the name of the recipe to Roast Beef with Roasted Tomato Chimichurri. 

I have made the Brussels sprouts before (see here) so I won't re-post the recipe. But let me tell you, it is the tastiest and easiest Brussels sprouts recipe ever.

Roast Beef:
1 (2 to 2 1/2-pound) sirloin tip roast
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 Roma tomatoes, cut in half
2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Roasted Tomato Chimichurri Sauce:
1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1.  For the roast beef, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  Season the beef with salt and pepper. Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.

3.  Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and heat the olive oil. Sear the beef over high heat on all sides. Turn off heat. Place the seasoned tomatoes around the seared beef and place the pan in the oven. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 130 degrees F. for medium rare, 135 for medium, about 30 to 40 minutes. Take the roast out of the oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the meat should rise 5 degrees F more and the juices will redistribute into the roast.

4.  For the chimichurri, place the parsley and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the red pepper flakes, salt, red wine vinegar and the roasted tomatoes from the beef pan and process until pureed. Add the olive oil in a steady stream with the machine running.

5.  To serve, slice the roast and place on a serving platter. Drizzle a little sauce over the meat. Serve the remaining sauce in a small bowl alongside.

Because, like a normal human being I do not eat an approximately 3 pound roast in one sitting or pretty much anything I cook in one sitting, I have to be good about using leftovers. Roast beef is a pretty easy thing for leftovers. Who doesn't love roast beef, cheddar, horseradish, and mustard on a crusty roll? Here is the sandwich I ate the day after I made the roast.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Meyer Lemon Curd



I wrote the following (and took the previous pictures) about a month ago, then never posted it. I think it is a perfect post for Valentine's Day because it involves two things I love - lemon desserts and visits from Santina. To make it a bit more current, here is a pic of the Valentine's Day manicure I gave myself.

On to cooking...

You may have noticed that I don't really do desserts. I think the only dishes I have posted that come close to dessert are pumpkin bread and sweet corn tomalito. Three things this evening came together that led me to make a dessert:

1.  I bought a bag of Meyer lemons earlier this week because I love them and they're in season. I did not have any plans for what I would do with them;

2.  I moved my cookbooks to a new place in my kitchen and came across one my parents got me ages ago, Luscious Lemon Desserts. Lemon desserts are my favorite, and the recipes within that book are sorely under-utilized; and

3.  Santina arrives at 10.30pm this evening, and I need something to do so that I don't pace restlessly around my house, checking the time every 30 seconds, not being able to stand the anticipation.

I perused the cookbook, knowing that I couldn't take on anything too complex or anything that required ingredients I do not have in my house. When I saw that I had everything for lemon curd, I was thrilled. And the fact that it looked relatively easy was a bonus.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks

1.  Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

2.  Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk in the yolks until smooth.

3.  Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and leaves a path on the back of a wooden spoon when a finger is drawn across it; do not allow the mixture to boil.

4.  Immediately pour the Lemon Curd through a strainer into a bowl. Let cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. (Lemon Curd keeps for a month in the refrigerator and for about 3 months in the freezer.)

I look forward to finding ways to use the lemon curd. It goes well on everything, even just a simple piece of toast. Or can you imagine how good it would be smeared on a sweet cream scone? Or a buttermilk biscuit? Mmm. There are also numerous recipes in the Luscious Lemon Desserts cookbook that call for lemon curd. Maybe I'll try another from there. I don't know. I don't know if we'll have enough time.

Bon appetit.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snacks - Stuff I Eat for Dinner

So, ya, I haven't posted in a long time. I made a New Year's resolution to be better about it, and like so many other NY resolutions, I haven't stuck to it. The problem is, the cooking I have been doing lately can hardly be called cooking. I am too busy and get home too late for fabulous meals, so I find myself eating strange salads, rice topped with whatever is around, and snack food. Yes, I have many times eaten popcorn for dinner.

The thing about eating popcorn many times for dinner is that you learn to make it perfectly. And who doesn't want to know how to make perfect, non-microwave popcorn? No one.

Here is a selection of delicious snack food I have been eating.

The popcorn, as previously mentioned, is a tried and true method for making great stovetop popcorn.

The pecans are a recipe from my mom. I ate them for the first time sometime last fall, maybe at Thanksgiving time, and I love them. I don't even like pecans, but something about these crunchy sweet and spicy morsels has won me over. You'll love them too.

The olives in the picture aren't actually olives I made, they are Stuffed Queen Sevillano olives from Trader Joe's. But as previously mentioned, I am a busy girl, and I don't actually have three snack foods prepared on one night to photograph. I am giving you a recipe for very good homemade olives, and let's pretend they are pictured instead of olives that I am way more likely to use in a martini than eat for dinner.  

Perfect Popcorn
3 Tbsp oil (I usually use peanut oil, but any high smoke point oil is fine)
1/3 cup popping corn

1.  In a large sauce or saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, with one popping corn kernel in the pan. I tend to cover the pan, but if you do, pay attention so that you hear the kernel pop. If you leave the pan uncovered, the kernel will probably pop out of the pan and hide somewhere in your kitchen, never to be found again. 

2.  Once the kernel pops, add the rest of the popping corn to the pan, cover, and take off the heat for 30 seconds. This allows all the kernels to get to approximately the same temperature so they will all pop at approximately the same time. This means less unpopped kernels.

3.  Return to heat, and pop the corn. It is done when there are a few seconds between pops.

4.  Salt and eat. I sometimes salt at the same time that I put the kernels into the oil. It seems to work well that way.

Spicy-Sweet Toasted Pecans
1 cup raw pecans
2 Tbsp sugar
Some shakes of cayenne

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2.  Blanch the pecans for 5 minutes (blanch = boil them).

3.  Drain the pecans.

4.  Toss pecans with sugar and cayenne. I add multiple shakes of cayenne because I like spice, but you can add as much or as little spice as you like.

5.  Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the oven.

6.  Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. It usually takes me a bit longer than 10 minutes to fully toast the pecans, but my oven sucks. Just check them and see how they're looking after 10 minutes, and leave them longer if necessary.

Marinated Olives
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
1 cup green olives
1 cup black olives

1.  In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until warm.  Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and chile flakes and simmer for 3 minutes, or until the oil is aromatic and the garlic turns golden.

2.  Add the olives, adjust the heat to low, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

3.  Remove from the heat and let the olives cool in the oil.

4.  Remove and discard the rosemary before serving.  Serve immediately, or store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for about 1 month.

Because eating popcorn, nuts, and olives is not a sustainable way to live, another of my New Year's resolutions is to start eating, and cooking, better.  I sort of have to in order to continue with this blog, right?

Bon appetit.