Monday, February 28, 2011

Fartichoke Gratin

Last week I made my first purchase from the awesome organic store in the style of a CSA box that is Olympia Local Foods.

While Olympia Local Foods is quite awesome, my decision to buy Jerusalem Artichokes was much less awesome. I knew nothing about them and figured that were a lot like regular artichokes... wrong.

They are ugly as can be (look a lot like ginger), have absolutely no relation to artichokes (actually more related to sunflowers), and have nothing to do with Jerusalem (some sort of strange lost in translation error). To make things a lot worse, I learned about a special property of their from some other blogs... the fact that they give you wicked gas and are sometimes called "Fartichokes."

Given all of this I was still excited to try and cook with them. They kind of taste like Jicama and certainly have a  similar texture. I decided to follow some other recipes and gave putting them into a gratin a shot. Some other delicious Olympia Local Foods stuff was also included like garlic, yellow onions, and yukon gold potatoes.

Chop it all up.

Stack it, add other stuff, cook.

This didn't taste bad. It didn't taste great either. But one thing stood out in a BIG way... flatulence.

These things give you gas. Not like a toot here and a toot there gas... I'm talking hold your hat with one hand and plug your nose with the other gas.  Bubbling stomach gas. No chance of going into public gas. It was absurd. After having one serving and feeling the effects, the rest of the giant gratin was promptly dismissed into the food waste bin. For that reason I'm not going to bother including a recipe.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Four Loktails Part 1: The Loko Hulk

Is Four Loko not awesomely intoxicating enough for you?

Do you feel trashy drinking out of a 24 ounce can covered in camo?

In case you have that awesome mixture of classy and trashy afflictions, here is the key...


2 parts Orange Blend Four Loko (old version preferred, but not necessary)
1 part Vodka (to make it a little sweeter, use whipped cream vodka)
1/2 part blue curaco
1 lime wedge (optional)



Garnish with lime wedge.

Enjoy the nice dark green color and the fierce bite. Also, enjoy waking up in a stranger's back yard.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I ate a $27 burger

Yes, I ate a $27 burger. Having a $30 groupon made it a little easier to accept, but it was still outrageous. The price was appropriately equally as absurd as the burger and its list of toppings.

The Neil Everett (kitchen sink) Burger from Gilt Club in Portland, OR.

This burger contains: Sesame Seed bun, fries, onion ring, bacon, foie gras, gouda, fried egg, delicious medium patty of painted hills beef, lettuce, a mystery spiced meat, and sauce. 

I attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to cut it in half to see it from the inside. 

Would I order it again? No.

Was it absolutely worth having once? Hell yes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Old Crow Fire Sauce

I once tried to make my own hot sauce. It was something like a bunch of jalapenos, garlic and vinegar in a food processor. Let it sit for a while. Strained it and voila: vinegar with a slight kick of heat and some green color. Disappointing at best, gross is probably more accurate though.

I gave it a few years to think about my mistake and I thought that it was finally time to redeem myself. I found a recipe for Whiskey Hot Sauce and made a couple changes. First, go big or go home - habaneros all the way. Second, the woman used a $40 bottle of bourbon for her whiskey and I used some dirty ass Old Crow. Finally, I made a double batch. This was a mistake that was realized once excess liquid started pouring from the food processor and spreading spicy habanero joy to nearly every surface of the kitchen. I cleaned it up and my hands felt like they were on fire for hours afterwards. (Read: don't make a double batch.)

If and when I make it again there are a couple changes (other than making a single batch) I will make. I'll use a little less brown sugar and a little less chipotle pepper. This recipe is a fantastic starting point though.

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1/4 cup habaneros, diced with as many seeds as you want to brave
1/2 cup carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 cup white onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup bourbon
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp salt

Add the vinegar to 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil. Add peppers, carrots, and onions. Simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Add everything else. Stir and simmer for 4 minutes.

Move it to a blender / food processor and puree it up. Let it cool and pour it into bottles. I used an old beaver mustard bottle and an old hot sauce bottle.

Here is some of it on a quesadilla. It's boss... especially if mixed with sour cream.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine's Tuna Mac+Che Casserole

Valentine's Day came and for the first time in the last three years the heart shaped pan was not filled with Eggplant Parmesan. Perhaps not as cute, but there was a pretty tasty meal substituted for it.

I took an award winning southern mac and cheese recipe and loaded it up with some tuna, peas, and onions. It was delicious, and thankfully good on the reheat as I made a shitload of it.

Tuna Mac+Che Casserole

Recipe adapted from here.

1 lb wheat elbow macaroni
1 lb grated sharp cheddar (I used a mixture of Dubliner and extra sharp Tilamook)
1 8 oz package of cream cheese cut into 8 blocks
2 tbsp butter
2 eggs, beaten
2 cans albacore tuna
1 lb frozen peas
1 red onion chopped
salt and pepper to taste
bread crumbs to cover

Get ready to be blown away by the complexity of this recipe.

Cook the macaroni and add the peas for the last 30 seconds to thaw them.

Drain the pasta/peas. Add the pasta and all the rest of the ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly (until all the dairy is melted).

Add to a casserole, lightly cover with bread crumbs, put the top on and throw it in the oven for an hour.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snicker at my Doodle

It was Valentine's Day and Snickerdoodles were being craved.

Luckily, they are quick and easy to make. Quite tasty as well.

Thick, chewy, sweet, and that little cinnamon kick. Couldn't ask for too much more.

Also, the dough was really good. Sampling is recommended if you make a ball that's too big and have to take some out to make it the right size.

Recipe was pulled from here.

Makes 27 cookies + the dough that was eaten before baking

2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 sticks of butter
1 1/2 cups (+ 3 tbsp for later) sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar

Set the over to 350 degrees.

Sift or otherwise mix all the dry ingredients into a bowl.

Using an electric mixer on med high, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and be sure to scrape down the sides so it is properly mixed.

Slow the mixer down to low and add dry ingredients in small batches.

On a plate, mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon. Take balls of dough that are about 1 - 1.5 inches in diameter and roll them all around, coating them completely.

Cook for 12-15 minutes.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Washington's Best Burger?

Last week I made my first trip to Pick Quick in Fife for the 2011 season. It was phenomenal as expected.

Last year they were declared by USA today to be the best burger in Washington.

I wrote about it here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cream of Broccoli and Edamame Soup with Cheese Croutons

Some time ago there was some deal through Tanga to get the Vegetarian Times magazine for $3/year. Now that I'm about a year into my 3 year subscription, I finally made something. Soup.

It should be noted that the recipe was for Broccoli and Edamame Soup, but when it was finished I wasn't very impressed and had to add a bunch of fattening dairy products.

Original recipe + Dairy = Amazingly good.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
6 cups vegetable broth
3 cups frozen shelled edamame
1 lb broccoli, mostly florets, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup half and half

1 baguette cut into 1/2 thick slices
Dubliner cheese

Heat up the oil. Add the onions and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook it on medium for 10 minutes. Add 1/2 a cup of the veggie broth to get up any seasoning that cooked to the bottom of the pan. Then add the other 5 1/2 cups of stock, broccoli, edamame, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, toast the bread slices for 5 min or so on each side. Then add a nice slice of cheese over the top. Kick the oven up to broil and take it out when the cheese is crispy on top.

If you've got it, go to town with your immersion blender. If not, blend it in batches in a blender / food processor and transfer it back. Let it cool a bit. Whisk in the sour cream and half and half. Serve it up with the cheese bread.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bananutella Bread

A couple days ago it was Nutella Day...  I'm not sure why a moderately famous sweet treat is worthy of its own day, but I like the stuff, so why not? I had seen some cool pictures of banana bread swirled with nutella and figured it was worth a shot. The banana cupcakes muffins I made were quite tasty, so I decided to take the same recipe and make it into bread, with some adjustments.

Recipe based on the one from the Martha cupcake book.

3 cups cake flour (not self rising)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
4 large very ripe bananas
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter @ room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs @ room temperature
1 cup hazelnuts toasted and chopped
3/4 cup nutella

Set your ovens to 350 and grease up two loaf pans.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, baking soda, and salt - set aside

Combine buttermilk, bananas and vanilla in a bowl. Take a fork to it and get the big chunks out. Set this aside as well.

Using an electric mixer on high cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, stopping after each to scrape down the sides.

Kick the mixer down to low. Add half the flour, then half the banana mix, the other half of the flour, the other half of the bananas.

Now take approximately 1 cup of the batter and mix it with the nutella in a separate bowl.

Add the hazelnuts to the original batter. Pour it into the two loaf pans.

Take the nutella mixture, pour it over the top and swirl it in. (I didn't do a very good job of this... it might be better to add the nutella mix in the middle and then swirl it.)

Cook 1 hour or  until a toothpick comes out clean.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quick and Easy Veggie Omelet

Onions, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Chives, Sharp Cheddar, Eggs and a splash of cream.

Easy. Tasty.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Superbowl Cheeseburger Dip

It was superbowl. Is there a better day for consuming a dip meant to emulate the taste of a cheeseburger? I was so confident the answer was "no" that I made this dip twice... at two different parties. 

The original recipe came from Burger Lab awesome guy J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and can be found here. Unless it's a real large gathering, I would suggest halving the recipe. 

1 poblano chile (I used an anaheim as the store was out of poblanos)
1/2 lb block of American Cheese from the deli
1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 lb fresh ground beef
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
5 oz evaporated milk
1 tbsp Franks Hot Sauce
2 tbsp shredded cilantro

To kick it off, take the chile and roast it over the flame of your gas burner. Use an oven on broil if you don't have a gas stove. Totally blacken it and then let it chill out for 5 minutes. Run some cold water over it and get rid of all the blackened skin, the stem, and the seeds. Chop it up finely.

Cut both the cheeses into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine them with the cornstarch in a bowl / bag until they are evenly coated.

Heat up the oil in a saucepan on med-high. Make sure it's good and hot, then add the ground beef and cook it until the pink is gone. Add the cumin and red pepper, stir it together for 30 seconds or so. 

Add the tomatoes, chiles, and milk now. Stir it up and bring it to a boil. 

Turn the heat down to low and add the cornstarchy cheese. Stir constantly until it's melted. Add the hot sauce and cilantro. Serve it up immediately. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Honey Walnut Prawns

The fine folks at Yelp have done their homework, run their numbers, and somehow decided that the most romantic city in the country is... Tacoma, WA. Perhaps not the first place you would guess, or even the 50th, but they have the data so what they say goes.

Now, in Tacoma there is a fantastic little spot named the Indochine Lounge that could be seen as quite romantic. Water feature in the middle of the restaurant, clean design, great staff, and fantastic(ly overpriced) food. The dish that makes them shine is Honey Walnut Prawns, and that is what I've tried to recreate here.

The recipe was adapted from here.

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup walnut halves
Enough vegetable oil for frying
1 lb of prawns peeled and deviened
3 egg whites
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp plus an extra dab of honey
1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp plus an extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 can pineapple chunks (obviously fresh would be better)

Mix the sugar and the water and cook until boiling. Add walnuts and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and separate walnuts from remaining sugar (if the sugar completely candies (as it did for me), don't worry, it's still delicious.)

In a large bowl, combine mayo, honey, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice.

Dip the prawns in the egg whites and then the cornstarch. Double batter if desired. Fry the shrimp up. Place on a paper towel to remove excess grease.

Toss pineapple and shrimp in the honey mixture. Serve over mixed greens or rice and garnish with candied walnuts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chimichicken Bacon Ranch Sandwich

I had a lot of leftovers from the various things I'd cooked up and found a fantastic way to make another savory treat.
Delicious grilled chicken? Crispy Bacon? Chimichurri Ranch? A nice winter afternoon grilling session?
Let's kick this thing off.

1 panino roll
1 raw chicken breast
3 pieces bacon
2 oz cheese (I used the Smoked Peppercorn White Cheddar)
1 tbsp chimichurri
3 tbsp buttermilk ranch
salt and pepper

Get a grill fired up!

I prefer thinner pieces of chicken on a sandwich, so I filleted the chicken breast into 2 pieces. I then hit both sides of both pieces with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Mix up the chimichurri and ranch. Grate the cheese. Slice the bun.

Toss the chicken on when the grill is plenty fiery.

When the chicken is ready to be flipped, do it! At this point you should also add the bacon to the grill, top the flipped chicken with the cheese(might need to wait a bit if you don't fillet the chicken breast), and put the bun on the grill. Flip the bacon after a minute or two. Add the chimichurri ranch to the top bun after it's toasted.

Build that beast and enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trashbag Chocolate Pie

Sometimes when your girlfriend is massively hungover and demands chocolate pie, you make some chocolate pie. Not classy, not involved, but still tasty.

Recipe adapted from here.

Trashbag Chocolate Pie

9 oz chocolate bar finely chopped (I used dark chocolate)
1 8 oz container cool whip
1/2 cup almonds
1 graham cracker pie shell

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate.
Crush the almonds and add them to the melted chocolate. Fold in.
Add the cool whip and fold in gently.
Let it sit for 10 minutes before pouring into graham cracker crust.
Freeze for 1 hour and then refrigerate for 2.

Serve it up, feel classy. It kinda of tastes like fudge... fudge served in a trailer park.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Perfect Buffalo Beef Sandwich

I was ready to create the final product with the Buffalo Beef, Hot Sauce Gravy, and Buttermilk Ranch made.

Picked up the rest of the necessities from Ralphs.

Panino Rolls from Essential Baking Co. in Seattle
Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar from Tilamook
A couple slices of bacon from the deli

Added 1/2 a slice of extra crispy bacon (chopped fine) to 3 tbsp of the ranch dressing.
Cranked the oven up and started to toast enough beef to cover the sandwich.
Grated 2 oz cheese and added it after beef was warmed. Added sliced roll at the same time.
Warmed 2 tbsp of the gravy.
Cut lettuce and tomatoes.

And now it's time.

Beef and cheese on the bottom.

Hot Sauce Gravy spread across the cheesy beef.

Tomatoes and Lettuce added.

Bacon Buttermilk Ranch on the top.

And it all comes together... Spicy, cool, savory, crispy... perfect.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Homestyle Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

I made the Buffalo Beef and Hot Sauce Gravy, and had a sandwich in mind. At this point I knew I needed something to cool it down. I did some research and would have never imagined making ranch dressing is this simple.

3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup sour cream
1-2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1/4 + cup buttermilk

Put it all together. Whisk it all up. Get it in something you can serve it out of. I finished up a thing of squeeze mayo, so that's where mine ended up.

Amazing flavor. So much better than anything from the store. You can really taste the spices and the olive oil. Never thought it would be 1/2 this easy.

Buffalo Beef and Hot Sauce Gravy

Buffalo sauce is delicious. I don't think it's fair that it really only gets added to chicken, so I embarked on a quest to make up some fantastic buffalo beef. I believe I've succeeded.


3 lb chuck roast
1 cup mustard
12 oz beer
4 cups Franks Red Hot Sauce
1 heaping tbsp flour

Almost certainly not necessary, but the first thing I did was animal styled the beef. Put some mustard (1/4 cup for each side) down and cook the beef for a couple minutes on both sides.

Get out your crockpot!

Put some Franks Red Hot down.

Add the leftover mustard from the pan.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup of mustard.

Add the beer.

Add enough Franks Red Hot to cover the roast.

Slap it on low for about 6-8 hours and go about your day.

*Attention* Your entire house will smell like a beefy hot sauce factory at this point.

When you're ready to shred, take it out of the crockpot (watch out for the attack of the spicy vinegar fumes).

Using two forks, go to town shredding the beef and discarding the fat.

It's now ready to go / store.

Pour the cooking liquid through a strainer and into a pot. The will catch any remaining beef and mustard seeds if you used deli mustard. Let this settle for an hour or so to allow the fat to rise - refrigerate if you want to make sure you can separate all the fat.

Take a little over a tbsp of fat from the top of the pot and put it in a pan.

Try your best to get rid of the rest of the fat from the top of the liquid.

 Now, turn the pan on medium until it's slightly sizzling. Add a tbsp of flour and cook for a couple minutes whisking the entire time to not allow clumps to form. (A beef fat rue).

In small batches, add the rest of the cooking liquid, whisking all the time and bringing each batch to a boil.

When you've added it all and it's at the desired consistency, take it away from the heat and it's ready to go / store.

There you have it. Buffalo shredded beef, buffalo style sauce / gravy, and a mountain of dishes.

Cupcakes... err... Muffins!

I worked at it and have created banana pecan cupcakes with a caramel buttercream frosting banana bread muffins!

Used the recipe from the Martha Book.

The batter.

At his point I made the (Burnt) Caramel Buttercream Frosting. Turns out I don't know exactly what "a very dark amber" is and I created some sort of hard candy. That did not stop me from trying to mix it into the frosting though. Turns out it wouldn't mix, who would have thought. I frosted and ate one cupcake that wasn't actually too bad (notice the caramel chunks).

The real secret to success, however, is to just change what you're making.

I made amazing banana bread muffins!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Seared Hawaiian Ahi Tuna with Argentinian Chimichurri

I have wanted to make a chimichurri for quite some time. With no idea for dinner, tonight was the perfect opportunity. The internet seemed to have quite the chimichurri conundrum... to cilantro or not to cilantro. It seems it ends up in a lot of recipes even though it is distinctly not in the original Argentinian variety. I'm no cilantro hater, I like it in general, but decided to stick traditional. I based the recipe off the one found on the userealbutter blog, but had to make some changes when the end result was more oily than I would have liked.

2 bunches flat leaf parsley, minced
10 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons red chili flakes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Chop it all up and add it together.

Mix it up and let it sit for at least 3 hours.

I chose not to buy the tuna steaks from the grocery store, so I headed down to Olympia Seafood Company to pick some up there. What a fantastic choice that was. They had fresh hawaiian ahi tuna steaks, but not that were quite the size I wanted. The woman went back to their fridge and pulled out a huge chunk of tuna to cut me off a steak. She sized it perfectly and explained they had picked up the tuna from the airport that very morning and told me that if I'm going to cook it at all, don't overdo it. She went so far as to describe the perfect way to cook a piece of tuna such as this is to "threaten it".

I hit it with a little salt, pepper, and olive oil. Put it on the smoking hot grill for around a minute on each side, sliced and served it up with the chimichurri down the center. 

Almost certainly the best tuna I've had in my life. The hint of flavor from the grill, the incredible fresh tuna taste, and the delightful spice from the chimichurri. Can't be beat.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pizza Finale

Triple Pizza Night

1 & 2: Wheat dough, red sauce, smoked mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, fontina, shitake mushrooms, black olives, and red onions.

3: Wheat dough, salsa verde with guacamole, smoked mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, fontina, extra sharp cheddar, cilantro, green chiles, fresh jalapeƱos, oven roasted turkey, hot sauce lined crust.