Monday, January 26, 2009

With chili: beer or wine?

Sunday we invited all the Hit The JACC Putt hole builders over for chili.

We had a contest where the golfers voted on their favorite hole in our fundraising miniature golf event over the holidays, and the winning hole building team was to win a $100 gift certificate to the Island Pub. Awkwardly, the hole my team made (the Airport, see Jan 11) won. It felt wrong to have my team win and get the prize, and plus, it seemed to me the whole group really deserved to win - we netted $3000 on that event! So we invited the whole crew over for dinner.

Chili for a Crowd from the Silver Palate Cookbook, a terrific recipe when you aren't sure how many gajillions to expect, it makes enought for 35 - 40 and freezes well, so you have dinners ahead. Edna Lewis's all-cornmeal cornbread. Rice. A big tossed green salad. Fiddlehead Cookbook brownies with Valhrona chocolate. Mom's English Toffee. Told folks to bring stuff to match the menu, as they saw fit.

Beer. Folks brought 6-packs. Some brought wine, some brought bread, some brought chocolate items. More brought beer. Luckily, John had laid in some wine too. I think the line up of bottles indicates that wine is now the choice with chili.

Sadly, it was also a farewell to our new friends Karen (who worked as the booking manager at the JACC ) and Alan, headed off to Washington DC, another statistic in the loss of journalism jobs. They are responsible for the beautiful paint job on the Airport hole.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

From the sublime to the ridiculous

Monday night, John procured fresh winter king salmon, in my opinion, the very best salmon there is. Worth flying to Alaska in the winter to have, if you never have had it. I digress.

I got home a bit late, needed to be in the kitchen too, to prepare the Breakfast Strata for yesterday's Champagne Breakfast. He was preparing the grill, had beets roasting in the oven, a tossed green salad, some steamed fresh broccoli, a plate of navel oranges and apples, and some inexplicable lump shapes in the oven.

"Shhh", he said. "Ren requested Dino Nuggets, so I got some for her."

Dino Nuggets, Costco at its finest. Dinosaur shaped breaded chicken chunks. Yum.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chinook winds

A beautiful day yesterday, with an unusually warm soft breeze.

We responded in traditional fashion to warm weather: I washed my car, did some yard work, Ren went for a walk. John prepared to barbecue.

Dominican Republic Chicken. We used to make this back in the Governor's House days:
Cut a good organic fryer into parts, freezing the carcass for stock later. Put the parts in a glass bowl or large zip lock bag.
Flame off 1/4 cup of dark rum, and combine with 1/4 cup soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Pour the rum mix over the chicken and marinate for four hours.

Grill, broil, or barbecue the chicken.

(We used to lightly flour the pieces, saute and then finish in the oven, and top with tomatillo sauce and sour cream back in the day.)

A tossed salad with aioli pesto dressing and grated parm, Sunday peas and carrots, and a plate of wonderful navel oranges and pears.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to handle a woman

Big whoop-dee-doo concert last night for the Arts Council: James "Superharp" Cotton, sold out (900 seats), phones ringing all day, in early, working until way late, no time to eat. Fabulous music, great shoes, feet hurt.

Ren and John helped raise $1300 in additional contributions, Ren is the "membership whore", her words not mine. Whatever---it works!

Came home late, around 10:30, John had a bubble bath, some Scharffenberger on ice, and some fresh spot prawns ready to go with capellini.
This works for me.

These shoes are not the shoes I was wearing, I was wearing my favorite Fluevogs which are sort of high-heeled running shoes, but they helped bring in the bucks - new members and up-grading members got a chance for a $75 gift certificate at the Shoefly store, of Sarah Palin fame.
This also works for me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Saltimbocca or is it Cordon Bleu? Dinner in ten steps.

John out of town, Ren with upset stomach. What to have for dinner? something delicate, like chicken, she says.
First: Must make flourless almond lemon cake for staff birthday in the morning.
Second: Must build a fire.
Third: Ren will empty the dish machine and make the salad.
Fourth: Clean the kitchen.
Fifth: Put on the rice.
Sixth: Make some saltimbocca. Bone two chicken breasts, freezing the bones for stock. Pound them between plastic wrap until uniformly thin. Cut each breast into to relatively matching halves. Top one half with slice of prociutto, some fresh sage leaves, and thin slices of Gruyere cheese. (Could have put more cheese, after we tasted the end result.) Top with the other half. Standard breading (flour, egg, bread crumbs). Fry up in the big black cast iron pan over medium heat with butter and a little olive oil. Salt it.
Seventh: whoops, take out the cake.
Eighth: Make a mango and tangelo fruit salad. Turn the chicken to the other side.
Nineth: Set the table.
Tenth: Serve it up.

Not bad. Dinner by 7:45.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dinner and a Show

Today we dismantled the Hit the JACC Putt miniature golf course (my team's "Airport" hole won Best Hole!) and decided to go see the matinee showing of Happy Go Lucky. John put a pot roast on to cook and we went to the movies for the first time in a long time.

This may explain why, even though this film gets rave reviews from almost everyone, our little party (John, Lynn, and myself) found it wanting. Poppy drove us nuts, the homeless guy scene gave us the creeps, the love interest was very Buzz Lightyear and way too young, and the driving instructor was a complete whack job. The popcorn was good, although I over-salted mine. Maybe we just need to get out more.

We came home to the warm welcoming aromas, very root vegetable & garlic-forward (I forgot to mention that Ren and I helped John write the wine list descriptions for a new wine list this morning....very mostly toasty family-like of us I thought) of a well-prepared pot roast and I built a fire while John finished dinner: Pot Roast, quinoa, a tossed green salad, steamed broccoli, with Lindemans Shiraz, and lo and behold, there were chocolate covered pears in the frig! Ren had awakened refreshed from her nap this afternoon while we were away and decided to whip up some ganache and dip some Bosc pear slices in it. Yummers. I recommend naps!

The photo is James attempting to land his golf ball in the Airport.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


The reason I gave up cooking professionally is that I constantly worried about making people sick.

So it happened last night.

The weather is so cold! I was hungry for rib-sticking food: Beef and Noodles ala my mom. Get some thick cut beef short ribs. Dust them in seasoned flour and brown them off in a bit of olive oil in a pot set over medium high heat. If they don't all fit in the pot at once, do them in shifts. While the meat is browning, slice up onions - probably at least one or two, and smash a couple of garlic cloves. When all the meat is browned off, put it all in the pot and add the onions, garlic, and a dollop of red wine or beer if you have some handy, and some water, about an inch maybe? Not too much. Add a bay leaf, bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for about 3 hours.

One hour before serving, boil flat egg noodles. When they are cooked, drain them, and add them to the pot with the meat. Stir, and allow to cook together to meld the flavors.

Serve up with a big tossed green salad and a refreshing fruit salad, some red wine.

Do not serve to people who are on Weight Watchers. It makes them sick.