Wednesday, May 25, 2011

5 Star Spicy Sushi Challenge

I meant to post this quite a long time ago, but I misplaced a memory card for quite a while.

First things first, Lacey Koibito is where the best sushi in the Olympia area is found. The Olympia and Tumwater Koibitos are not to be trusted.

They recently started a one day a week habanero pepper roll challenge. 6 dudes rose to the occasion and crushed the aforementioned challenge. As a bonus we received a free roll, nice T shirt, and 10% off for life (when wearing the shirt).

This was our opponent.

A spicy tuna roll topped with habaneros, jalapenos, and some other pepper in a sauce that seemed to be mostly Sriracha. 
All 6 of us finished within 5 minutes. While it was spicy, it was bested with relative ease.

The blank board in the back now has all our pictures on it. 
I also took one pretty picture. 

All the sushi lined up on the counter, ready to be served

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Pub Burger

I didn't post anything about it yet, but I made burgers two weeks ago. It was my first foray into the burger making world. I didn't want to half ass it, so I didn't start until I had my own meat grinder. I previously made burgers in the style of an In and Out Double Double Animal Style. This time I tried the recent Cook's Illustrated Pub Burger. I documented the process quite well, so pictures before the recipe. 

Chopped Sirloin
Ready to grind
Grinding begins.
Freshly ground beef
Butter the beef
1/2 lb Patties 
Grilling - in a cast iron pan on the grill
2 min per side
5 min in the oven
The treasure
The Pub Burger
Makes 2 burgers


2 good hamburger buns 
1 lb petit sirloin 
2 tbsp butter
6 strips peppered bacon
2 oz good cheese (I used beechers flagship)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Pub Style Burger Sauce
     3/4 cup mayo
     2 tbsp soy sauce
     1 tbsp worcestire sauce
     1 tbsp brown sugar
     1 tbsp chopped chives
     1 tsp ground pepper
     1 clove garlic, minced


Cut the meat into 1/2 inch cubes trimming away large chunks of fat.

Lay out the chopped meat and place in freezer until slightly hard but not totally frozen.  About 40 minutes.

Also put the kitchen aid attachment in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Grind away using the coarse option.  Melt the buter in the mean time.

Spread out the ground beef and drizzle the butter throughout, add some pepper as well. 

Form into 2 meatballs and press out patties from there. Be careful to not overwork the meat.

If you aren't ready to eat, the patties can be stored for no more than a day.

Whip up the sauce (literally, just combine everything), make the bacon, and grate the cheese)

Preheat your over for 300.

Put the oil in the pan and kick the heat up to high. Season both sides of the burger with healthy amounts of salt and pepper while you wait for the oil to be just smoking.

Cook the burgers for 2 minutes without moving it. Flip and then cook on the other side for another 2 minutes.

Now, take the burger and put it on a baking sheet. Add the cheese and stick it in the oven for 5 minutes.

Take it out and let it rest for 5 minutes*. 

Add the sauce and bacon to the bun while you wait. 

Dish it up.

Sadly I trusted my shitty thermometer and not the recipe... I left it in the oven for a little longer and it ended up a bit, but not badly, overcooked. 

I have one more shot at making it medium rare and will post another picture if I do.

Still, so juicy and full of flavor. A true champ of a burger.

* After being very precise with 5 minutes of baking the second time around, the burger come out slightly pink and closer to the upper side of medium than medium rare... those seeking a medium rare burger should put it in for only 3 minutes. 6 will get you medium well. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mexican Pizza

The decision for the night was pizza.

The aisles of Trader Joe's were being wondered.

The memory hits me... there's delicious organic chorizo in the freezer that I got from Olympia Local Foods, I believe it was specifically from Flying Dog Farms out in Grapeview, WA. (Note, this is probably the second product I've ever had from Grapeview, the first is obviously this.)

Yes my friends, mexican pizza time. Not mexican pizza that looks like this though.

No quero Taco Bell.


Trader Joe's wheat pizza dough.
Just Chili California Hot Sauce instead of pizza sauce.
Ranchero Cheese

I threw out the crust first.
Broiled for 10 or so minutes.
Added the sauce, cheese, jalapenos, and chorizo.
Broiled for 10 or so minutes.
Added chopped tomatoes and cilantro.

It was ready.  Behold this spicy treat.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Before today I couldn't tell you exactly what rhubarb tasted like.

I've had strawberry rhubarb pie many times... but the flavor doesn't stand out enough that you can totally pick apart what rhubarb tastes like. Now, as the first sentence implies, things have changed. I've had raw rhubarb, rhubarb compote, and delicious rhubarb bars.

It all started one day ago at the Nicolai household where fresh rhubarb was cut. More detail on that adventure can be found on the Nicolai blog.

The many stalks waited in the fridge overnight and then I swooped in with a delicious sounding recipe to make their unique taste mine. Rhubarb bars. RhuBARbs.

Makes a 9x13 inch pan full


12 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon


1 3/4 cup rhubarb compote
1/4 cup lemon juice (just happened to be all the juice from the zested lemon)
1/2 cup sugar
5 eggs
2 tbsp cornstarch


4 cups rhubarb, sliced in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
3/4 cup sugar


Make the compote! (Mix sugar and chopped rhubarb in a pan over medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until you can smoosh out all the rhubarb chunks. Blend it into a puree.)

Make the crust! (Toss all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until the mixture is down to large crumbs. Press it into a greased 9x13 pan and stick it in the fridge/freezer for 15 minutes. Also, kick the oven onto 350.)

Bake the crust! (20-25 minutes @ 350 and in the meantime...)

Make the filling! (Mix everything up. Whisk it hard. I still had some disconcerting chunks of cornstarch so I ran it through a pasta strainer)

Add the filling to the now slightly browned crust! (Turn the oven down to 325 (I forgot to do this and it still turned out awesome) and bake for about 25 minutes so the filling is set.

Remove it from the oven, let it cool, chop into pieces and hit it with some powdered sugar.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Portoborzo Stuffed Bell Peppers

Question: When did bell peppers become the most expensive groceries... well, pine nuts excluded?

I still don't have the answer, but I realized this was a problem about 40 minutes after I decided I wanted to make stuffed peppers and went to the grocery store. $3 each. Craziness. Those things are worth approximately 99 cents to me.

Seeing the outrageous price I decided I would stuff portobello mushrooms instead. Turns out there really isn't enough of a cavity to stuff things into a portobello mushroom. So, I chopped up the mushrooms and now had a bunch of undercooked orzo and uncooked mushrooms in a red sauce. My hand had been forced. I had no choice... back to the store for some overpriced peppers.

All said and done with bitterness about having to buy pricey peppers aside, these suckers are tasty. And quite healthy too. Bonus.

Recipe modified from here.

Portoborzo (Portobello + Orzo) Stuffed Bell Peppers
Serves 6

1 28-oz can whole Italian Tomatoes
3 portobello mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan plus extra for topping
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup orzo
6 bell peppers of your desired color
chopped basil and parsley

Kick that oven on to 400 and start to heat the vegetable broth up to a boil.

Take the tomatoes out of the can (use the sauce as well) and break them up with your hands. You can squish them through your fingers to break them... it's fun. Now add the oregano, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Now the vegetable broth should be boiling. Add the orzo and cook for 3 minutes (this won't cook it all the way). Drain the orzo so that the broth is poured into the baking pan and not wasted. Add the orzo to the tomato-mushroom mix.

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove all the ribs and seeds. Take a small little slice off the bottom so that they can stand up. Load the peppers up, put them in the broth filled dish, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle cheese over the top, and cook for another 15 minutes or so.

Touch it up with a little parsley and basil to make it pretty.