You know those pretty blossoms atop the chives in your (or your neighbors) garden? They’re the ones that are typically admired for their pretty lilac color, but often left to wilt and die as if they’re purely ornamental. But wait, they’re not! They are yummy as they are pretty, and if you’re an acid freak like I am, you’ll love adding a delicate taste of chive and onion to use as a finishing vinegar for salads or soups. (The blossoms are also good sprinkled in salads.)
All you need:
Vinegar – champagne or white wine
Jars with lids – I used small canning jars
Just snip the blossoms at the base of the bud and pile them into a container or two.
Fill the containers with vinegar and seal with the lid.
Let sit for four to five days then strain out the flowers and use the vinegar in place of your usual. Voila!
I don’t know how he comes up with this stuff but when mom gave us some dried porcini mushrooms last week Andrew immediately said he wanted to make it into a powder and add it into his mom’s macaroni and cheese recipe. I was stunned at first as I had to process the greatness of this idea, but after the gears got up to speed I knew it would be the perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day (and Dad’s birthday too). Some say to add cheese to mushrooms is a hack and a cheat, but I can’t help but to disagree, especially with this recipe.
There are a few secret ingredients in here that you won’t be able to taste outright, but they’ll add an insane depth of flavor to the mornay (cheese sauce) that takes this dish into a realm that is like no other macaroni you’ve ever had. Aside from the earthy richness of the Porcini’s there’s a dash of Worcestershire sauce and mustard powder. Again, you won’t necessarily taste them, but you’ll know there’s something special there.
Give it a go, so simple but deceivingly complex. The best kind of dish, no?
Porcini Mac n Cheese
Serves 6-8 as a side (or in our case 4 with lots of leftovers for snacking).
We used 2- 12 ounce packages of macaroni. (Actually, Bionaturae’s Chiocciole “snail” shaped. So many big wells to collect cheesy goodness.) Cook to package directions.
Sautée 1/2 cup finely diced onion in 5 Tbs butter.
Add 1/3 cup flour, blend and cook until incorporated and very lightly browned.
Slowly add 3 cups milk and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Whisk well to combine and avoid lumps.
Flavor with 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1/4 tsp white pepper.
Add 3 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese and mix well. Cook until thickened slightly and the cheese melts.
Add 2 tsp of dried porcini powder (pulse in a spice grinder or food processor). Mix well.
Add the cooked macaroni to a buttered casserole dish (or two) and pour the cheese sauce over the noodles. There may be extra sauce so don’t use it all if you’re worried it’s too much. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned and the sauce is bubbling.
Enjoy! But avoid temptation and let it cool slightly before snacking.
My favorite breakfast…lately at least. I have been loving the sweet and savory tastes of this mix and I owe it all to the inspired snack I had from Kylan at the Pioneer Square Pantry tasting party a few months back. (Production is limited so homemade granola is the next best thing.) Here’s my take:
[Sheep milk] yogurt +[homemade] granola + drizzle of [local] honey + drizzle of [arbequina] olive oil + pinch of [black] sea salt.
The addition of the olive oil and the sea salt is genius! It’s the perfect balance with the tangy yogurt and the sweet crunch of the granola. I’ve added the type of ingredients I’ve used above [in the brackets] but you should use whatever your favorite ingredients are. Just be sure you use a killer granola and have a nice finishing olive oil and a chunky and crystally sea salt. Below are links to my faves.
The thing I haven’t been able to resist all weekend is, for better or worse, the thing that we were left with the most of after the get together on Friday (we may have over-planned). These sugared pistachios that Andrew made are evil and addictive…so here ya go. The recipe.
It’s from the gorgeous Heston Blumenthal at home cookbook, and while the book is more advanced this recipe is quite easy with a few kitchen geek items on hand. Andrew quadrupled the recipe, but as I’m sharing it here it’s the original from the book, using weight as measurement instead of volume.
200g white caster sugar
[special equipment: kitchen scale, candy thermometer.]
Preheat the oven to 170-degrees C (338-degrees F).
Place the nuts on a baking tray at toast in the oven for 12 minutes.
In the meantime, put 150g water and the sugar into a small saucepan. Place it over a medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
When the temperature of the liquid reaches 135-degrees C (275-degrees F), or the syrup is beginning to color at the edge of the pan, add the pistachios and whisk until the syrup has completely crystallized and coated the nuts.
Pour the coated nuts onto a baking tray lined with parchment and allow to cool.
The nuts can be kept in an air-tight container for up to 6 months.
So dangerously poppable, these wonderful cheesy puffs are officially cocktail party approved. Two successful test batches in and we’re hooked. I mean, really. Who’s not going to love a homemade puff of cheese. One bite. Savor. Two bite. Gone.
The Pâte à Choux pastry dough is really sticky, so we tried two methods to form the puffs: quenelles and piping. With the first batch using the quenelle method we found it harder to control the size of the puffs, and it seemed like a lot of unnecessary work. The second batch with the piping bag was much easier and faster. Go the piping route! And if you’re out a pastry bag just snip the corner of a plastic storage bag.
We liked topping each puff with a touch of sea salt and parmesan to vary the tastes a bit. The sea salt was an essential addition, but if you prefer to stick with one cheese, for the ease of things, you can always top with some of the Gruyère. Oh, and in a strange twist, I prefer these guys cooled a bit. There’s definitely something sexy about the cloud of steam one gets from a fresh-from-the-oven bite, but all of the cheesy, chivey goodness is best tasted after they’ve cooled slightly.
Perfect for partying in every way.
Gougère French cheese puffs
Yields about 30 small bites
1/2 cup water
3 Tbs butter
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more as a topper
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch black pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 organic eggs
1/4 cup minced chives
3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (plus more for topping)
Optional: 2 Tbs grated parmesan
Prepare (shred, chop, measure) all of the ingredients before you get started. Preheat the oven to 475-degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat mat.
In a medium saucepan add the butter, water, salt, cayenne, and black pepper. When the butter has melted add the flour and mix quickly until the dough begins to pull away from the sides. Remove from the heat and transfer to a stand mixer or bowl and let cool before the eggs are added, about two minutes will do.
Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly and quickly. It may seem lumpy at times but continue to stir until just incorporated. Add the Gruyère and chives, mix well.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and pipe small mounds about the size of a small truffle. Space evenly and allow them room to puff. If there are any peaks gently press them down while topping each puff with grated parmesan (or Gruyère) and a touch of sea salt.
Pop the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375-degrees and let bake for another 20 minutes. They should be a lovely golden color and have a crisp bite at the outset. The inside should be eggy and cheesy, but still quite light.
We’ve been having lots of fun playing with popcorn lately and there are so many fun twists that I can’t wait to share, but I figured I’d start off simply with an heirloom popping corn done right on the stove.
If you’ve never popped popcorn on the stove top I swear in some weird way it’s easier than in a microwave where I always managed to under-pop or walk away and completely singe the entire bag. With the stove, the quality of the popped kernels is much better and you have so many choices in the variety of corn that you want to use. Heirloom varieties are not genetically modified (they don’t contain Round-up!) so the character, taste, and texture of the corn is richer and tastier.
Everyone has one of those tall stock pots with a lid tucked away somewhere; ours has become our popcorn pot. You’ll want a tall pot so a large amount of steam can collect.
1. Place the pot on medium-high heat and add two tablespoons of oil. We switch between bacon fat, duck fat, or coconut oil.
2. Throw in 3-4 kernals while the oil is melting. Once those guys pop the oil has reached the right temp.
3. Add 1/2 cup of popcorn and cover.
4. Swirl the pot over the heat and listen to how the corn is popping.
5. Once the popping stops wait a second or two longer, remove from the heat, and open the lid to let the steam escape.
6. Serve with your favorite salt.
The brand we’ve been using is India Tree (a Seattle-based company!), and their Paloma Blanca is heavenly…even described as “little doves” (palomitos) on the package. Available online or on the gourmet food aisle at many grocery stores. While the Blanca is our favorite, the other varieties are great too.
It is freakin’ cold here. The days are clear and dry; words that don’t often describe Seattle weather, but without our usual thick blanket of grey-gloomy cloud cover there’s nothing to hold in even the slightest bit of warmth. I love seeing bits of frost on the ground each day (not to mention the sun!), but until it actually snows I’ll continue wish it into existence and feast on oh-so decadent, stick-to-your-ribs kind of dishes like this guy here: a proper dish of spaghetti alla carbonara.
The key here is not to skimp–not to be afraid to use the rendered bacon fat, and not to be shy about the salt, pepper, or parmesan. It’s not a traditional addition, in fact many Italians won’t eat it if there’s a speck of anything green, but I like to add chopped fresh parsley to give a bit of freshness and lighten things up…if only just a tad. Regardless, with or without a pinch of greenery this dish is badass.
When cooking the pasta, be sure to use a large pot with about 4-quarts of water. I used to force it into a small pot in order to save time and water, but in order to get the perfect texture and release of starches be sure to use lots of water, and don’t be afraid to salt it. We want to be sure the noodles have their own layer of flavor. And if you’re looking for a good brand of pasta I really like bionaturae’s line of organic pastas. They’re often on sale at Madison Market too.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 lb (about 4 slices) thick cut bacon, sliced
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 pound spaghetti
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: Fresh parsley, chopped
Warm the olive oil in a pan and cook the bacon (sliced into lardons) until crisp. Set aside but be sure to save the rendered fat.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it reaches a boil ladle a few spoonfuls of the water into a bowl to warm it before adding the egg and cheese. Set the bowl aside and add 2 teaspoons of salt to the boiling water and drop the spaghetti. Cook according to the package directions or until tender but firm.
Toss the hot water from the bowl and add eggs, parmesan, and black pepper. Beat well. When the pasta is done drain it and toss immediately in the egg and cheese mixture. Mix well, then add the bacon and rendered fat. Mix again and add more black pepper; taste and add salt and more pepper if needed.
A little late today, but I have an excuse! I was elbow deep in salmon roe and salt water. Dad unexpectedly saved some roe for us after his fishing trip yesterday morning so I had to get to curing it for my cravings atop omelets, potato latkes with creme fraiche, deviled eggs, smoked salmon rillette…it goes on and on.
Andrew found this wonderful recipe and step-by-step guide from the blog Savor the Taste of Oregon, and it’s really quite easy to do. The only intensive part is separating the roe from the skeins, but I found that using a wood chopstick to gently scrape the eggs away from the membrane worked nicely. And really, you’ll just have to accept that much of it will not be usable without meticulously separating them one…by…one.
This is the perfect way to celebrate salmon season and also to use every part of the fish. I notice in the kitchen at the restaurant there is not one piece that goes to waste; they even fry the bones and eat them as a snack! I’ve taken this to heart and have tried to do the same at home…it just so happens that I love caviar so it’s not too much of a stretch to get a little dirty and make my own. Eeh, I’m so happy. If this is your thing give it a go! Here’s my slight variation on the recipe.
Cured salmon roe:
- 3 quarts of water at 100-degrees
- 1 cup of coarse sea salt
- 2-4 fresh salmon skeins
- 2 large bowls
- 1 large seive
- clean canning jars
In one of the large bowls create the brine by adding the salt to the warm water. Once the salt is mostly dissolved add the salmon skeins and soak in the brine for 30 minutes. Fill the other large bowl with water and set aside.
Note: The eggs will start to cloud, but don’t worry they will regain their clarity after another dip in the salt brine before transferring to the jar.
When the time is up gently transfer the roe into the bowl of fresh water and begin separating the eggs into the seive and rinse with water as needed (if it starts to get sticky). Take the seive of eggs and dip it back into the salt brine. Transfer to a super clean jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Our Bangkok Firecracker Martini
This is one of our most popular cocktails at the restaurant, and while I’ve shared some testing I’ve done with new liqueurs I figured it was time to share something that I know works. I’ve written this recipe down for dozens of customers, so I know it’s loved, but keep in mind that when I say that it works I mean that it will appeal to a very specific type of person. You’ve gotta love heat, and you’ve gotta love Thai Basil. If that sounds like you then this is your drink.
There’s no way to control the heat from the Thai chili’s as even at the restaurant the batches we get differ drastically from week to week. Aside from the heat level though, the Thai chili has a beautiful floral taste and when paired with the lemon and touch of simple syrup it makes for a surprisingly refreshing drink.
makes 1 martini
- 2 Thai chili peppers (bird’s eye chili)
- 10-12 Thai Basil leaves
- 3 oz. Vodka (at the restaurant we use Citron, but a basic one works too)
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Simple syrup to taste (start with about 2-3 tsp)
Muddle the Thai chili peppers and the Thai Basil, then add the simple syrup and lemon juice. Shake over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.
Note: The simple syrup isn’t meant to make this sweet, but really to balance the heat and the citrus. The great part is that you can add as much as you’d like so start with a few teaspoons and go up from there. You really can’t go wrong. Cheers!
Cold Buster: Lemon Ginger Hot Toddy
I’m dead sick. The worst kind of sick where your teeth ache and your eyes can’t open all the way. No matter how hard I try to look presentable it’s just not going to happen. So really, the only thing to do is booze it up.
Ok so, the truth is that I haven’t taken over-the-counter medicine in a few years, but really if you think about it, one of the active ingredients in Nyquil is alcohol (along with a ton of other crap you don’t really want). So here’s my version of a Hot Toddy that will soothe a sore a throat, ease a tough cough, and knock you out all while helping to kick the cold with the ginger, lemon, and local honey. So good for you!
Ginger Lemon Hot Toddy
- 1.5 oz whiskey
- 1 slice organic lemon
- 1 slice organic ginger
- 2 tsp local honey
- hot, boiling water
Steep the lemon and ginger in the water for at least five minutes. Pour into a mug, add the shot of whiskey and honey. Stir. Drink up.
Note: I steep the lemon and ginger in my teapot and will refill with hot water a couple of times. It’s great to sip even without the whiskey. And since we’re focusing on helping our body heal, and ultimately steeping the ingredients in the boiling water, it’s best to use organic produce and local honey (not honey from China).