Monday, April 25, 2011

Panko Parm Halibut Cheeks

As if I needed another reason to adore Olympia Seafood Company, they provided me with a huge one last week. I stopped in to grab something to cook up for dinner and something stood out in a big way. Halibut Cheeks, fresh that day. After making that selection I got 8 of them (3/4 lb) and the man helping me (I believe he owns the place) got really excited as they were going to be his dinner as well. Having never cooked Halibut Cheeks before I asked what his plan was. Excitedly, he told about how the guy at the restaurant next door (I have to imagine he was talking about Dockside Bistro). Breaded with a mixture of panko and parmesan, egg white wash, a bit of salt and pepper, pan fried, dip it in a red sauce. I was sold. Literally on the cheeks, figuratively on the recipe. To make things easy for me, he even offered a handful of panko so I wouldn't have to put any unnecessary time between me and dinner. I had some though and happily declined. I drove home and whipped up this choice meal.

Panko Parm Halibut Cheeks

8 med size halibut cheeks
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup panko
3 egg whites
ghee or vegetable oil
your favorite red pasta sauce... or make your own

The Cheeks:

Super Easy!

Mix the parm and panko in a blender. Blend. Put on plate thats larger than the biggest cheek.

Hit both sides of the raw cheeks with salt and pepper (I rolled them in it, which was a little excessive)

Dip a cheek in the egg whites.

Bread it in the panko and parm mixture. Don't be afraid to press a little bit on to make sure it sticks.

Repeat with each cheek.

The sauce:

I mixed a can of organic tomato sauce with all the available herbs from the garden. Those were...

Greek oregano
Silver thyme

I didn't feel like chopping, so I blended them and added it to the sauce with about 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar.


I used about a tbsp of ghee for each batch of 4 cheeks. Burner on medium-high in a nonstick pan. Approximately 3 minutes on each side.

Bring the sauce to a boil.



Mango Habanero Chicken Burgers

Computers were dying and memory cards were disappearing, but delicious things were certainly being cooked. Specifically, fiery and fruity yet healthy chicken burgers.

The recipe was pulled from here, but changed in one notable way... adding habaneros to really add the kick it needs.

1 lb (99% lean) ground chicken
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1 freshly chopped mango, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 tsp jerk seasoning
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 habaneros, chopped
Zest of 1 lime

It's all quite simple. Mix everything except the chicken together.

Now fold the chicken in with the mixture being careful to not over mix it (thus making the chicken tough). Form into 4 normal sized burgers or 3 gigantic burgers (not the best idea).

Additionally, cooking them is quite easy. Do it in a pan. Do it with butter or vegetable oil.

Serve it with some normal burger toppings. It is phenomenal with an excellent kick. Freeze extras if you please. I haven't dethawed my extra, but the original recipe says they are fantastic on the reheat.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Van's Burgers Returns

There is not a lot on my calendar these days. The one thing that had been there for quite a long time, however, was the reopening of Van's Burgers. Van's Burgers is a number of things that I will describe below.

1. Open for only half the year. They open in April and close in October. 

2. Only open 3 days a week (Thursday-Saturday). They recently expanded their hours to be open from 11-7. It used to be 2.5 hours for lunch and 2.5 for dinner.

3.  A box shaped cart that's no bigger than my parents' tool shed in the middle of nowhere (in between a farm and a golf course).

4. A drive through in which you can expect to spend a significant amount of time in line.

5. Without question, the best fast food style burger in the Olympia area. Probably the best in all of Washington. 

I arrived on opening day at a few minutes after 2 P.M. While I wasn't naive enough to believe that there would be no line, I thought the lunch rush would have died down a bit. I pulled in and there were 11 cars in front of me. I stopped at the relatively new Vans Sweet Spot (another cart that you pass by in line on your way up to the burger cart - they've been open since last year, Van's itself has been open for 12 years) and got a peanut butter and hot fudge milkshake. Thick, chocolaty, an filled with real peanut chunks. It was divine. 

40 minutes from my arrival I finally made it up the line and ordered. Their signature Big Pete Double is fantastic and I've had it multiple times. With that in mind I decided to go for the everything... Big Pete with grilled onions, bacon, and a fried egg. The total cost was about $10 and it lived up to all my expectations. I also didn't need dinner. A truly fantastic experience. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Palak Paneer Odyssey

Palak Paneer is amazing. Gooey delicious spinach. The cheese that tastes like nothing at all. The little kick when it's spiced properly. The fact that it's almost always paired with naan. Yeah, it's amazing. That means it was time to try making it. Now that I've made it... I'm always buying it from now on. It's not that it was bad, just so much work for a product that's not quite as good as what can be found at Olympia's shining star of an Indian Restaurant - Curry Corner.

Most things needed for the recipe were simple. In fact the entire thing would have been a simple shop had I not decided that ghee should be substituted for olive oil in the recipe. Seems more authentic right? Drove to the only Indian Grocery Store in Oympia... closed for good. Drove to the other side of town to get some from the wall of groceries at Curry Corner... closed for the day. Luckily the co-op turned out to have everything I needed (meaning all of my traipsing around town was completely unnecessary). Mother also bought a plethora of organic-y things and enjoyed looking around. Winner.

The recipe I used can be found here.

The recipe I used for the naan is from the same website and can be found here.


1 lb fresh spinach
8 oz paneer cheese, cubed
1 cup chopped red onion
1 cup tomato puree(d)
4 cloves garlic
1.5 inches ginger
6 thai chilis
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 cloves
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp coriander powder (in retrospect, this seems like too much)
1.5 tsp curry powder
3 tsp ghee

Now, get ready to use your food processor or blender... a lot.

Boil the spinach with the fennel seeds and cloves. Get the spinach, cloves, and fennel out and leave the rest of the water aside. Blend the spinach.

Grind onion, ginger, garlic, and chili into a thick paste. Should you please, this can be done in the blender.

Heat the ghee in a pot and add the chili / onion mixture. Cook until it starts to turn a golden color and then add salt. The onions will drop some of the oil at this point... so add the coriander and curry powder.

Mix it all up and then add the pureed tomato. (If you don't have tomato puree, you can stick a tomato in  the blender.)

Cook until it thickens up a bit and add the pureed spinach mix.  Turn the heat down to low. Cover and simmer for a few minutes. If it's thicker than you want, add some water from the set aside pot.

Now, boil either the set aside pot of flavored water with some extra salt or a new pot of salted water. Once it reaches a boil, kill the heat and add the cheese cubes. Let them sit for 3 minutes (this drains off the fat... I guess).

Add the heavy cream and cheese cubes. Bring it back to a boil one last time. Serve with rice and/or naan.

All the ingredients blended up and ready to go.

Palak Paneer and Whole Wheat Naan

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baked Coconut Prawns

Coconut shrimp are absolutely delicious. They are also expensive. Thus, it was time to give cooking them at home a shot. I looked at a lot of recipes and then generally decided to just go for it. For this reason, I don't have any precise measurements. Except I remember that we bought almost exactly 2 lbs of fresh, wild mexican black prawns from Olympia Seafood Company. Good choice.


Egg Whites
Salt and Pepper
Ground unsweetened coconut
Flaked Coconut, sweetened (I would recommend toasting them before using... I did not)
Sweet Chili Sauce (for dipping)

The basics:

Deshell, Devein, and butterfly the prawns, but leave the tail on.

Dip in egg white.

Coat in a mixture of 75% cornstarch and 25% ground unsweetened coconut with added salt and pepper if you please.

Dip in egg white again. 

Dip in flaked coconut. 

Bake @ 350 degrees. Time will very depending on the size of the prawns.

Get some sweet chili sauce to dip them in, and enjoy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Life in Burgers: 1st Quarter 2011

I would like to present the roster of all the burgers I ate in the first quarter of this year. They are in no particular order and include the establishment, location, and one sentence description. Click on the link to check out the yelp review or blog post associated with it. You can also check out my burger list on Yelp that just hit the 50 burger mark.

Over-sauced and under-seasoned.

Wonderfully flavorful and juicy with too much bun.

Overcooked beef with a plethora of other good things.

Expensive and upside down.

Strange soggy veggies and unmelted cheese.

Dried out and bland.

Strangely constructed and in need of better beef.

A large boring patty surrounded by a wealth of other quality items.

Excellent ingredients, just needs more of them.

Best of the quarter. Chorizo and Beef blend that's perfectly seasoned and juicy.

Worst of the Quarter. Cash and Carry Burger.

Excellent burger in need of more veggies.

It was 10:35... Why not?

Twenty Six Dollar Burger.

Thin juicy patties packed with flavor.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Walking The Line - Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

There is a fine line between tomato soup and tomato sauce. I learned this when I made tomato soup that in the end was almost certainly tomato sauce. So while I wouldn't recommend making this tomato soup, I would recommend making this (with a few alterations) as tomato sauce.

Mother found the recipe here and we went to work.

We picked up some canned San Marzano Tomatoes at the fancy Metropolitan Market in the Proctor District of Tacoma. Some basil at Ralph's in Olympia. Some crab to add from Olympia Seafood Company in... yep, you got this one.

The first step is to take the tomatoes, halve them,  add some basil, oil, salt, pepper and roast them for about 90 minutes.

Now, this is the point where I would change some of the directions.

The recipe called for skim milk... I would more likely use a cream, or at least half and half.  I also think it probably meeds a few more spices than just basil. Anyways, what I got was a very thick and hearty tomato sauce. It was tasty, but at the end of the meal it seemed a little bit like I had opened a can of some good pasta sauce to dip my grilled cheese in.

The grilled cheese, was a tasty mix of Beecher's Marco Polo cheese and bread picked up from the 5th Ave Sandwich Shop. It takes a long time to cook, but the combo is hard to beat.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mindblowing Horseradish Sauce and Moderately Altered Mustard

While Corned Beef is fantastic... everything needs a good sauce. This delicious looking blog provided me with two good recipes for things that seemed like they would go perfectly along side.

The first - a mustard with Guinness in it. (I would have liked to make my own mustard, but I waited too long)

The Second - A zesty yet toned down horseradish sauce.

The Mustard:

1/2 cup coarse grain deli or deli mustard
2 tbsp deli mustard
2 tbsp guinness stout
1 tbsp minced shallot
1 tsp brown sugar

The Horsey Sauce:

1 cup sour cream
6 tbsp zesty horseradish
1 tbsp chopped dill pickle
1 tbsp chopped chives

The instructions for both are the same...Mix it all up! Boom! Done!

The mustard is so so, but the Horseradish sauce if phenomenal. It's perfect on a sandwich, great right on the meat, and I will certainly be making it again. Sadly, the only picture I have is the picture I used with the corned beef.