Friday, March 27, 2009

so much food, so little time

Poor John is stuck in the hinterlands, first Anchorage, now Fairbanks, due to the volcanic eruptions. So it's me, the cats, the dog, and frig full of food.

Last night I managed to take two hours to get from the bottom of the driveway to the kitchen, high centering myself again, unstucking myself, and then backing down the driveway into the snow berm on the edge of the drive. Thankfully, brother Thad was still in town and available for a tow out. Any way....

Needed something quick and tasty.
Steak salad. It was so good I repeated it tonight.
Pile up some lettuce on a plate and dress with a mustard aioli vinaigrette (Trader Joes aioli).
Slice up left over steak and fan decoratively around the lettuce.
Fan 1/2 an excellent avocado to set next to it.
Carefully slice up some chevre, roll in fine bread crumbs and broil for a couple of minutes. Fan those out around the lettuce.
Top with a dollop of olive tapenade, so handy to have in the frig.
Slice up a terrific yellow mango, perfectly ripe.
Pour a glass of Malbec.

Tonight's version involved slicing the less done end of the flank steak, salting and peppering well, and sauteeing in butter, and a less perfect mango with strawberries.

I'm a fan.

Tonight's wine was Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, just a glass, and the remainder of a nice Italian.

At the store the other day, saw a new brand of ice cream: Stoneridge Creamery. Got some vanilla, and did a taste comparison between it and Haagen Daz vanilla. Haagen Daz. I mean, I'll finish the Stoneridge. But I'll buy the Haagen Daz again.

And THEN! tucked in the garage door, the mailman delivered an incredibly aromatic package filled with fresh lemons and rosemary. The house smells divine! I am feeling some lemon/rosemary shortbread or poundcake coming on....I'll keep you posted.

There is nothing like eating well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Alone with meat.

John's in Anchorage for the annual trade show and Symphony of Wines. Henry is en route back to Eugene. It's me, the pile of snow in front of the garage, the dog, and the cats.

The pile of snow serves as an excellent appetizer, whetting the appetite through vigorous exercise shoveling trying to avoid the high centering issue that preempted breakfast this morning.

Having conquered, at least for now, the snow stack: In the frig we find a flank steak, some fresh mushrooms, a delicously ripe mango, and miracle of miracles, both white (Yalumba unoaked Chardonnay, currently second runner up for favorite house wine) and several red wines, including Doña Paula Los Cardos Malbec, a favorite for Board meetings because it has a screw cap, is inexpensive and yummy.

Tidy up the kitchen, cut up the mango and add to last night's fruit salad of apples, strawberries and oranges. Pull out a white onion, some garlic, and two little red potatoes. Heat butter and olive oil in a little sauté pan for potatoes cut in 1/2 and sliced thinly, slice 1/2 the onion into 1/2 inch slices. Wash some romaine and tear it up and put on the plate. Dress it with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Put the potatoes in their pan to begin browning and then put the onion slices in their pan. Decide for some reason to tournée the mushrooms, perhaps just to see if I still can. They "turned" out pretty well if I do say so myself.

Rub the steak with a little olive oil and salt and pepper it well. Heat the cast iron skillet over moderately high heat with butter/olive oil, the garlic clove, and the mushrooms face down. Once the garlic is looking pretty cooked, flip the mushrooms over, add the steak. Brown well on both sides. At some point, move the mushrooms over to the now on low heat onions. Cook the steak a few minutes on both sides until it feels done-ish (drat, one end is a little too done, the other too rare. Oh well.) remove from the pan and put on a plate and add a dollop of the red wine with a bit of butter. Shake until nice and saucy and pour over the steak. Slice it thinly and arrange nicely on the plate. Top with the onions and the mushrooms. (Who ever thought of tourneeing mushrooms in the first place? How odd.) And the potatoes. Pour a glass of wine.

Get a text from John saying he misses me and wishes he was home. I sent him a picture of dinner and said ditto.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dinner with the Robertsons

Our good friends asked us over for dinner last night while the two college kids are still in town so we can all see each other. We arrived through the official first day of spring snow storm to an intoxicating aroma. There was a plate of innocent, simple looking little home made cheese crisps. My goodness. Charlotte comes from Charleston area, and her grandmother contributed this recipe to the really wonderful Charleston Receipts, the oldest Junior League Cookbook in print and one I recommend you get even if only for the Ice Box Cheese Wafers. OMG.

I ate quite a few accompanied by Veramonte - a wonderful buttery crisp balance.

There was also a wonderful stew with pearl onions over egg noodles, fresh asparagus (spring!) and a tossed salad, all accompanied by Chasing Venus sauvignon blanc (yes!), and Januik Syrah (*****) and Cabernet Blend (also very good) and finished with an apple crisp and vanilla ice cream. Conversation wended its way to Wii fit, and some of the party wandered off to work off the crisps with a bit of Wii fun, but I note a comment on Facebook about beer and balance problems.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chicken & Waffles

Henry came home for spring break yesterday and he said, in an email, that he'd like chicken and waffles for dinner when he got home.

OK then.

If you haven't ever been to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles in southern CA, it is a must do.

I made my best effort to replicate this wonderful stuff.

Fried Chicken - I can do.
Waffles - can't find the good recipe. Used NY Times.

1) Make a fruit salad with navel oranges, kiwi, and strawberries.
2) Cut the chicken into parts, dip in buttermilk, and roll in flour seasoned with salt & pepper, with a bit of baking powder.
3) Fry in peanut oil in the big cast iron pan, until each piece is browned on both sides.
4) Put in the oven at 350 to bake until done, about another 1/2 hour.
5) Make a romaine and arugula salad with oil and vinegar dressing.
6) Get out the old stove top waffle iron that makes heart shapes, since you are so happy to see the young scion home. Clean it, get it warmed up.
7) Make the waffle batter.
8) Cook up the waffles.
9) While you are doing that, take the chicken out of the pan and hold in the oven warming, while you make pan gravy from the drippings. Where did all the milk go that was in the frig this morning? Oh right, the young scion is home. Oops. Thick gravy.
10) Glare at said scion when he says "Are you actually making waffles?"
11) Glare at John when he comes upstairs and says "Are you actually making waffles?"
12) Serve it all up.
No one ate waffles but me, and admittedly they were not big crispy delicious ones like you get at Roscoes. the fried chicken was pretty good though.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Linguine that would make a sailor blush

John saw the sign: "King Crab at Auke Bay" so headed out.

A king crab feeds more than a few, so he called in recruits - our friends Candy and Dick with their exchange student Christopher from Denmark. Called some other friends, but they were having king crab at their house already....The way it goes in Alaska.
So he cooked it off (debate: Do you cook it whole and then de-yucky it, or do you tear the shell off, empty the yuck out and then cook. At our house, the latter.) and picked it.

I made a Granny Smith Apple pie and picked up some vanilla ice cream.

John made a dipping sauce, blanched broccoli for an appetizer. Made a big pot of linguine, steamed off some snow peas, fresh carrots, roasted a red pepper and sliced that up to add to the pasta. Made a tossed salad. Wines included Can Feixes and a yummy Chardonnay I can't recall. For some reason, conversation became spiced with language that might seem a bit inappropriate for dinner table including the under-aged and ostensibly lady-like, but there was laughter all around, so perhaps it fit the menu.

At some point, the subject of peanuts came up, don't ask. We happened to have a bag of roasted organic peanuts in the shell from Washington. Although one and all had eaten crab and cream linguine, salad, and apple pie with ice cream, there was something about the saltiness and crunchiness of the peanuts that just hit the spot.

What a night, and so nice to have dinner with friends, it has been a while.