Monday, July 23, 2012

Dinner Party


“Dining partners, regardless of gender, social standing, or the years they've lived, should be chosen for their ability to eat - and drink! - with the right mixture of abandon and restraint. They should enjoy food, and look upon its preparation and its degustation as one of the human arts.”M.F.K. Fisher, Serve It Forth



I end the Colorado series with our last meal together. I offered to cook dinner for a few of Kelsey's roommates and friends. I decided to make it a tapas/potluck style dinner as I love to eat meals that are little bits of many different tastes. It was an ambitious menu for one person, in a short amount of time, but I had some awesome Sous Chefs to help me out. Although cooking a large meal for a group of people can seem a little scary and overwhelming, when you are in the kitchen with your friends and guests and they are all part of the process of creating the meal, cooking can be just as enjoyable as consuming the meal.





Menu:

Prosciutto and Green Olives
Calamari and Cod Ceviche
Shrimp and Spanish Chorizo Bites
Sherry Mushroom Bruschetta with Pine Nuts
Chili Lime Sticky Wings
Simple Salad



I always like to start a meal with a few easy, simple, light finger foods to get every one's pallets ready. An amuse bouche if you will. Nothing that will fill you up, just a few salty bits while you sip your first cocktail that wet every one's appetite for the meal to come. Olives are my go to, light and briny. Prosciutto is just tasty, but whatever you see in the grab and go section that looks good to you, you are already making a meal, let the store help you out!



Sherry Mushrooms with Pine Nuts

This is a wonderful appetizer, and a different take on the usual tomato bruschetta. The savory mushrooms are a perfect canvas for the aromatic ingredients (especially the sherry) which makes this dish melt in your mouth.


Serves 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Ingredients
• 3 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
• 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 (8 ounce) container cleaned and sliced Button mushrooms
• 2 (8 ounce) containers cleaned and sliced Cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
• 1/3 cup dry sherry
• 1/2 cup pine nuts
• 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1 large french baguette, cut into 1/4 inch slices, and drizzled with olive oil
Directions
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until beginning to brown.
Stir in mushrooms, sherry, and pine nuts; continue cooking until mushroom juices have almost evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add lemon juice and season generous with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
While mushrooms are sitting, place baguette slices on a baking sheet under the broiler for a few minutes (watching carefully that they don’t burn.) Spoon some of the mushroom mixture over each slice and serve immediately.

Source: Very Culinary
http://veryculinary.com/2011/04/07/sherry-mushrooms-with-pine-nuts/

Shrimp and Spanish Chorizo Bites
A stunning and elegant dish, and so quick and easy!

makes about 30 bites
 1/2 pound medium shrimp (about 30 shrimp), peeled and deveined if necessary
1 (7.9 ounce) package of Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon dry Sherry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
 In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, garlic, oregano, vinegar, Sherry, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil; toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Skewer one shrimp and one round of chorizo onto wooden toothpicks or skewers. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and chorizo.(I skipped this step)
If you skewered: Working in batches, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place a few skewers into the pan and sear on both sides until the shrimp are cooked through and the chorizo is lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and garnish with the parsley.
If you didn't: Heat skillet over medium heat. Use the oil and sherry marinade the shrimp was in, as your oil for cooking. After the oil marinade mixture has come to temperature add chorizo and shrimp. Cook mixture until shrimp just turns pink. Serve the entire mixture (including oil and sauteed garlic) in a shallow dish. Garnish with parsley. I like to serve it this way with crusty bread, the oil becomes flavored with the spicy chorizo and the sauteed garlic, perfect to dip the bead in. Enjoy!
Source: The Galley Gourmet
http://www.thegalleygourmet.net/2012/06/shrimp-and-spanish-chorizo-bites.html

Chili Lime Sticky Wings


These are perfect for any get-together! A big game, Potluck, Grad party . . . They’re just good!

    For the chicken:
  • About a dozen large chicken wings
  • Season each wing evenly with kosher salt, ground black pepper, chili powder, and a little cayenne pepper, garlic powder (the amount for each is totally up to you)
  • For garnish, chopped cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp oil or non-stick cooking spray for the baking sheet
  • For the glaze:
  • 1/4 cup honey (or more)
  • 1 to 2 tsp lime juice
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • hot sauce to taste (Cholula or Tapatio or your favorite)
  • Season the glaze with cayenne pepper, black pepper, a pinch of salt, onion powder, granulated garlic, cumin, and chili powder (taste as you go and adjust seasoning)
  • Kosher salt to sprinkle on top (optional)
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray evenly with non-stick cooking spray or brush 1 tablespoon of oil all over the bottom of the foil lined baking sheet.


For the glaze...

Combine all of the ingredients except the lime juice, into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a soft, controlled simmer and allow to reduce for about 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste as you go, adjusting the seasoning as you see fit. Add the lime juice at the very end, and stir. Remove from heat, cover loosely, and set aside to keep warm while the chicken cooks. As the glaze sits, it will thicken and become stickier by the minute -- just a heads up.



For the chicken...

Rinse the chicken wings under cold water quickly, then pat each wing completely dry with paper towels. Season each chicken wing all over with all of the seasonings listed. Arrange each wing flatter side up (see photo for reference) on top of the scallions, leaving at least 1-inch of space between each wing. If you arrange the wings too closely together, they will steam rather than crisp up.



Place the chicken wings on the middle-lower oven rack and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush 1 to 2 coats of the glaze over each wing. Place the chicken wings back into the 450 degree oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, I glaze the wings throughout the cooking process flipping them every time, in about 5-7 minute intervals. Keep an eye on these last 10 minutes, because depending on your oven, it can caramelize faster than you'd expect and burn. If wings are not crisping, you can turn over to broil and keep a sharp eye on them so they do not burn. Allow the wings to rest and cool for 5-8 minutes. Sprinkle just a tiny pinch of kosher salt over each glazed wing to help bring out the flavors.

Serve with a garnish of chopped fresh cilantro.

Enjoy



Recipe adapted from: Carnal Dish

http://carnaldish.com/recipes/meat/poultry/chipotle-lime-stickywings/#.T7LnRFIxinA


Calamari and Cod Ceviche

This is one of my go to dishes! It’s perfect on a hot day, and very addicting. This is a crowed-pleaser!

5 Calamari Bodies (Cleaned)
1 fillet of Cod or any white Fish
1Bell Pepper (whatever color you prefer)
1Jalapeno
Cilantro
1Red onion
2-3 Cloves Garlic
4-5 limes
EVOO
Salt
Pepper
Cumin
Garlic Powder
Red Pepper Flake
Avocado



First slice the calamari into rings. Cube fish into small bite size pieces(look out for bones). Next juice limes over fish. I start with 2-3 and then increase after fish has marinated and "cooked" from the acid by taste. I season with salt and pepper (and other seasonings above) little by little as I go. Adding more seasoning as I add each ingredient. I always taste after every step. I start with garlic(minced), then the onion(diced), then the Jalapeno(diced), then the red pepper(diced), finally the avocado(small bite size pieces). After I add the avocado, I juice about half a lime directly on top of it, before I stir it in to the rest of the mix, to prevent discoloration. And finally the cilantro. A final taste for seasoning. And then I place it in the fridge to marinate for at least 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through by the acid. Serve with a drizzle of EVOO and garnish with cilantro and tortilla chips.



Simple Salad

Just that...whatever salad ingredients you have, lettuces, veggies, fruit? Cheese, nuts, croutons.... and whatever salad dressing you prefer in your fridge. Have Fun!


Needless to say it was a wonderful meal, and I am not solely referencing the food. The company was exquisite and welcoming. There is something about sitting down and dining with people that puts everyone at ease and allows everyone to relax and get to know each other.

 It could also be the vino or PBR.
But this is the art of dining, telling stories, laughing with or at one another and making new friends and memories. It’s how we make, experience and enjoy our culture.
We ate and drank "with the right mixture of abandon and restraint", and I can't wait to reunite with these old and new friends to do it all over again.
Until next time, Bon Appetit Colorado!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Boulder Food Crawl

Day two in Boulder started early!



I was so excited to be in
Colorado I woke Kelsey up even though it was an hour earlier my time.

I wake up early...sorry Kels


We started with some bagels and coffee on the go to fuel up for our hike! Boulder has great hikes with beautiful views. And as I sit here in rainy rainy dreary Seattle I am soo missing this one.


We got off the trail and needed to cool off in the creek! After a brief stop at Target for floating accessories we were on the banks of the creek trying to beat the oppressive heat.


Here is Kelsey with her floaty! Isn't she a cutie! She is deciding if she should brave the creek and float down the "rapids". 

We had a long morning/afternoon filled with aerobic activity. So what does that mean to me???

Wine Time Baby!

After we cleaned up from our very "Boulderish" day. We headed to an Italian Pizzeria called
 Pizzeria Locale.

They offer a great HH. The restaurant is clean, bright and white, with a long bar where you can feel like your in Napoli watching the handsome bartenders pouring Vino Bianco.



Prosciutto Di Parma Riserva & Olive

The prosciutto was buttery and perfectly salty, the olives paired nicely with the crisp white wine. I was already in HHH (Happy Hour Heaven).

But we were at a Napoli Pizzeria, so we had to try the pizza.
(I know, poor us) 


We ordered the Margarita Pizza. It was stunning. Thin crust, melty cheese, simple yet amazing sauce and basil. All we could both think of was the scene from Eat Pray Love.


But because we had more appetizers to conquer we did not devourer the whole thing like Julia Roberts.



Next we strolled down the street to Aji, a Latin American restaurant. We chose more than a few items off their menu as well as the menu of their sister restaurant next store Leaf, a vegetarian restaurant.


We started with their house sangria.
Refreshing...

Aji makes their own hot sauces, which are fabulous!

From the Aji menu we ordered:
Duck and Pork Tacos
Lobster and Banana Ceviche

From the Leaf Menu:
Tempura Avocado
Apricot Deviled Eggs

It was all amazing and delicious, but my favorite were the Lobster Civiche and the Tempura Avocado.

Not only were there plantain chips but the civiche actually had citrus marinated bananas mixed with the rich lobster meet. I would not have guessed banana and lobster together but it was a pleasing surprise. Topped with pickled red onions it was tangy & luxurious.
This dish was truly amazing. On the plate is a sour orange sesame reduction, with black sticky rice cradling the tempura avocado, topped with a mango salsa. Tempura avocado is genius, crunchy exterior and a silky lush interior, the acid cuts the richness of the dish. It was inspired!

No need to say how we felt after this meal, FULL. But well worth it! Long drawn out meals are what it is all about, we sipped and nibbled, laughed and caught up on each other's lives.
We slowly walked back to the apartment, and caught up on The Bachelorette, a perfect evening after our meal...ok meals!

Day 3 next and more food to come!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back to Colorado!


After I graduated college I spent a winter in Breckenridge, Colorado to live the life of a ski bum. I definitely achieved that goal, but gained so much more. I moved to this state not knowing a single sole and left with more friends and amazing memories than I could ever have imagined. Ever since, I have been dying to go back to this amazing place that truly stole a huge part of my heart. Okay enough with the seriousness...let’s get to the eating and drinking!



I finally had the perfect excuse to go back. My very best friend Kelsey who I have known, as we like to say, "from the womb" moved to Boulder, Colorado this past year and I was able to get away for a long weekend to stay with her.

Most people do not like traveling...

I am not one of those people.

I don't get stressed out, I always arrive early, I always bring entertainment, and I always give myself a small indulgence to make the trip enjoyable.

SEE EXAMPLE BELOW
 


I enjoy the quite time to myself and the anticipation for my destination.



I arrived around 12:30 and was shuttled into Boulder by my lovely partner in crime Kelsey. After I had settled in at her apartment it was off to happy hour! (Oh how I love HH)

* Readers be warned, this vacation was what I like to call a "Food Crawl". Kelsey and I are both foodies and enjoy the art of eating, and we are good at it.

What else can I say but we ate well, drank well, laughed well and lived well on this vacation. M F K Fisher would be proud!



We started to wander around beautiful downtown Boulder along the red brick streets and found ourselves on the roof top of Rio Mexican Restaurant.

Boulder is hot in the summer, like "find air conditioned activities at any cost" kind of hot. But Rio has a great roof top looking out on to the mountains, and has misting sprinklers all around the patio, to help all its outdoor guests keep cool. What also helped us keep cool were dangerously strong Margaritas. 


These delicate looking bevies are not so subtly alcoholic. The restaurant has a 3 marg maximum. After one of these lovely libations, the black clouds hovered ominously and we headed to our next "inside" location to wait out the afternoon rain storm. We found ourselves in the French bistro Brasserie Ten Ten in time for their HH menu.



As we looked through the menu, I spotted bone marrow and there was no way I wasn't trying it. I have wanted to try bone marrow for the longest time, ever since seeing Anthony Bourdain suck it down on the Travel Channel.



BONE MARROW

fleur de sel, port poached shallots,

ten ten dijon& baguette

and

a Stella
It was truly a decadent snack and helped us pass the time while the rain poured. We indulged in the chat and gossip we had been missing over the past months and were able to walk home after the rain subsided, feeling satisfied and excited for the rest of our time together!

After we rested at her casa we got ready for my first night out on the town. We met one of Kelsey's friends Laurie downtown, who had driven up from Denver for the night. We had a blast! We started at Centro for a few drinks and a snack to last us the night.
There were so many delicious looking items on the menu; one I still wish we would have tried was an Avocado Salsa with pork belly, SOOO BASICALLY PORKBELLY GUAC....??? I know, I know I'm still kicking myself for not trying that one. But no worries, our dish was as equally glutinous.
Lobster Nachos

With Pork and Green Chilies.
Crazy good with a cold beer on a hot night.
After we put a few (ahhem) calories in our stomachs, we were ready to hit the bars for a few drinks and some serious lady talk. It was truly a lovely first day back in the CO.
And can you believe this was only day one?
I told you, FOOD CRAWL.
Stay tuned for day two, it will go down in history as one of best HH marathons I have ever completed. And only Kelsey could have kept pace!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

YELP

Oh how obsessed I am with this site. I seriously think I have looked up every single restaurant in Seattle on Yelp.
And definitely every single restaurant I am about to go to. It really gives you a good feel for the atmosphere, service and food that a restaurant has to offer. Now I know not all reviews are fair or completely represent the experience everyone will have at each restaurant, but over all, its a great way to find great and unique eats around town. I have posted a couple reviews on Yelp. Here is one review that I think represents the correct way to use, and review on Yelp.
I reviewed what is known as the Salmon Cooker, located on the Seattle Pier by the waterfront. It is a cafeteria style, fast food/seafood/takeout or sit down, indoor/outdoor, VERY casual dinning food pavilion. I walked down to the water for the sun shine and a liquid lunch! This is not a fine dinning experience, not even close and I knew that when I decided to eat here. What I mean by the correct way to review a restaurant is just this, don't write a review about a divey pub and give them a poor review because the music that was too loud, it smelled like stale beer and how the food was greasy.....DUH that is why you go to a dive bar, and the pitchers of PBR make all of those "issues" seem charming.
Any way, so here is the review with a link to my Yelp profile.

****(four out of 5 stars)

Okay so this might seem like a high review. Its just fried seafood served up cafeteria style, right? But I believe if you take a place for what it is not what you want it to be you can utilize its best attributes.

For example, seafood, its all going to be fresh. Also location, there is outdoor seating right on the pier.


I came down on a Thursday afternoon and had a great Oregon IPA draft for $5 dollars and 2 oyster shooters, $1.50 ea. If you see the picture I posted, the oyster shooter does not look like much but it tasted amazing. The Oyster was super fresh and briny and the sauce was different than any I have had before. They mix their spicy cocktail sauce with a splash of Crab-pot lager straight from the draft. mix it up and pour it in the shooter. It was surprisingly good and I eat a lot a lot of oyster shooters!!


Don't expect a gourmet meal. Grab a beer and some fresh seafood and soak in the beautiful scenery!


Monday, June 25, 2012


Saturday morning always feels so great. You have the whole weekend ahead of you, Monday seems so far away. But we all know 6pm Sunday afternoon comes REAL fast. But this is why we all must let Saturday morning soak in! This is usually best achieved with liquid, the alcoholic version. And yes I do proudly wear the title of Lush!

Saturday morning the boy and I headed over to a new restaurant that was recommended to us for brunch. Cafe Parco is a lovely Italian inspired cafe. There were only a couple of other people in the restaurant so we were seated next to the open window overlooking the park across the street.




If you are going out to breakfast booze should almost always be involved.

There were many scrambles and frittatas. There was a sweet and savory section which had savory style French toasts. For example this was the dish that was recommended.

Panino Croccanti

Two pieces of French Toast

Layered with rosemary ham and black truffle Sottocenere

and topped with a soft egg.

This sounded great to me, but since it was recommended by my boyfriend’s co-worker, he was planning on ordering it. I pondered over the Pork Belly, but then decided that I would opt for the Sweet shrimp and avocado scramble with potatoes. At the last minute my boyfriend changed his mind and ordered the Banana Bacon Waffles. If he would have ordered the original dish we went there for, I might be more enthusiastic about this restaurant, but since we didn’t I’m not sure this review represents the best dishes this kitchen has to offer.   



The dishes came out very quickly and my dish was exactly how I would have expected it. The shrimp were a little over cooked, but the flavor was good and put avocado on anything and I will eat it.

The Banana Bacon Waffle was really good, sweet and savory with a light and crunchy waffle. Over all, great service, average food, a little pricey, charming atmosphere and hey there’s booze!



I’m sure we will venture back to CafĂ© Parco and we will have to try the recommended dish!!
All in all great start to the weekend, but Sunday afternoon came to quickly again!

http://cafeparco.com/main.php
Father's Day Weekend!!!!

Went back home to Bellingham to see the fam! And Dad!

As soon as my father picked me up from the train station we drove straight to Taylor Shellfish Farm!!!

Oysters, mussels and clams!!! We took them home to cook up a fabulous PNW dinner!!

On the Menu:

Signature Drink: Moscow Mules!!!!!!



Oysters on the half shell with a rice wine and fish sauce mignonette .



Caprese Salad.



Mussels and clams in a fennel sherry broth with grilled bread.



BBQ Oysters.



Yeah...Happy Fathers day!!

The Moscow Mules were my lovely little sister’s idea. She had just recently had them on a trip to California and thought they were so refreshing. A perfect signature cocktail (plus they are Oprah's favorite).

Moscow Mules:
Ginger Beer
Lime Juice
Vodka
Ice
Mix a shot (or 2) of vodka with about a cup of ginger beer ( this is non-alcoholic like ginger ale but less sweet) and a squeeze about a half of lime or more to taste. Pour over ice and garnish with lime and a neon straw :)


After we made our cocktails, sipped while we chopped and prepped all of our ingredients, nibbled on some cheese and shared a few stories it was time for the main event!
This dish is one of our all-time favorite dishes, and it is so easy! This would be perfect for a large dinner party, all you need to do is prep everything before your guests arrive and just before it is time to eat, put it all in the pot and turn on the heat!
Clams and Mussels steamed in Sherry with Fennel seed
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 pounds fresh mussels
2 pounds fresh clams
1 cup of dry sherry
1 cup of claim juice
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Toast fennel seeds in a hot dry skillet until browned and smoking. Remove from heat. Then dump all of the rest of the ingredients in, cover and cook on high heat until the clams and mussels open. If a clam or mussel doesn’t open discard. Serve with grilled bread that has been rubbed with fresh garlic to sop up all of that amazing broth and a chilled glass of white wine!


Perfect!

Cheers to a great Daddio!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

     
So I was having one of "those days" at work today and I took a trip to the market during lunch. I had to pick up some lunch meat for the house. I arrived to a lovely specialty foods store at one end of the market. Delaurenti and wound my way through the shelves of gourmet products from around the world that you will never find at your grocery store. I love looking at food stuffs that I have never seen before. If I had a higher income right now I would have probably bought almost every item in the store, then tried every single one when I got home. But alas, I went to the counter and ordered only the two items that were requested from David; Roasted Ham and Spicy Sopressata. While standing in front of the crazy selections of all kinds of cured meats....


 I read over all of the titles, then I saw it. Jamon Iberico. If you are not familiar with this cured meat Simon Majumdar a food writer describes this as one of the greatest foods on earth;

 "Jamon iberico de bellota is prized for its unique taste, created in part by the aroma of sweet acorns that the pigs feed on ("bellota" means "acorn"). Iberico pigs must graze under Encina oak trees, because their acorns give the pigs’ fat a rich, creamy texture that melts in your mouth. The salt curing of the meat and the three years of aging that follows makes for a taste that lingers like a fine wine."

Read more: http://www.askmen.com/fine_living/wine_dine_archive_300/346_jamon-iberico-5-things-you-didnt-know.html#ixzz1xcYIrmV9

I have drooled watching Anthony Bourdain eating this beautiful paper thin meat on the Food Network, but never thought I could be eating it in Seattle. I thought this was a buy-the-plane-ticket-just-to-see kinda of a food. But there it was. Then I looked at the price, $79.99 a pound...

Well that explains the way people rave about it. So I decided to buy 4 slices. I mean they slice it so thin, how much can it cost? about $6.50 is the answer. Pretty steep for 4 slices of paper thin jamon. But, hopefully it will be worth it.
I left the market, but not before being tempted by the huge case of cheese!

After work I treated myself for getting through the tough day at work with four lovely slices of Jamon Iberico and Prosecco!



Perfect!

I also bought a bottle of wine for tonight. We have been trying to watch this movie forever and both have been too tired by the end of the day, so I thought it would give us both some incentive to stay awake.

                                                              Happy Wednesday!