Monday, February 28, 2011


Stokeberry was selling fajita meat at the farmers market on Sunday, so I took the opportunity to make some fajitas. Alex marinated the beef in lime juice, cayenne, paprika, and cumin while I followed Sarah's tortilla recipe. My tortillas were nothing compared to the magic of Sarah, but they were tasty none-the-less. I roughly doubled the amount of water just to get the dough to stay together and I was having issues getting them thin enough without having them fall apart. So they were a thick, crusty, flat, corn base for all the fajita toppings. I sauteed a bunch of onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, and seasoned it with paprika, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Lastly I grated some Golden Glen Creamery jalepeno cheddar and opened a container of Nancy's sour cream, and voila - fajitas!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Something Pho-nny

I really wanted to make pho, but I didn't quite have all the proper ingredients, so perhaps this is just a soup inspire by pho. I started out boiling chicken stock to condense the flavor. While that was boiling I seared some Skagit River Valley Ranch pork stir fry meat, deglazed the pan with a cup of the stock and added it back to pot of boiling stock. Then I cut up a delightful rainbow of veggies!

Carrots, peppers, red onion, leeks, ginger, garlic, and shiitake mushrooms

I lightly sauteed all the veggies, sliced the pork into bite-size pieces and then mixed it all in the bottom of a soup bowl:

Last but not least, I seasoned the stock with salt, pepper, and an Iranian Herb Mix and then ladled it over the pork and veggies in my bowl to make a delicious soup!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

An Evening with Elysian and New Belgium Breweries

Alex and I did something pretty ridiculous last night: we went to Crystal Mountain for dinner. The two and a half hour drive and sleeping in my Honda Accord in the snow was totally worth it. It started at the base of the Mt. Rainier Gondola where we were served New Belgium Fat Tire in a can with a paper cup-full of warm hazelnuts.

I forgot to grab my camera, so here are some pictures I stole from the internet:

The view was stunning, it seemed like we could just reach out and touch Mt. Rainier. We got off the gondola and were escorted into the high-class Summit House with our cans of beer. There's nothing quite like walking into a fancy restaurant with a can of beer! The self-proclaimed Beer Guru's of Elysian and New Belgium introduced the meal and the chef saying that the meal was based on an "Old World Winter" theme and most of the dishes were the product of late night snacks. This was easily one of the best dinners I've ever had - it was everything I love about food: locally sourced with plenty of fat and pork products and paired with beer! Though they did warn us at the beginning that we were sitting at about 7,000 feet and none of the beers they brought were below 8% ABV. It was a trip to say the least! Here's what we had:

Dark and Rich Demi-Glace Broth with Roasted Chestnuts and Bourbon Scented Cippolini Onions.
Paired with New Belgium La Terroir.
-This was one of those dishes so simple and so exquisitely incredible that both Alex and I were speechless for a minute. The La Terroir was a sour ale unlike any sour ale I've had before - it reminded me of my dad's oranges from his tree that doesn't get much sun, so they're incredibly sour. The sour of the beer juxtaposed the richness of the demi-glace perfectly (something I never would have imagined!). Also, demi-glace served essentially as a soup?!? Amazing!

Spicy Berkshire Pork Belly with Buckwheat Blini and Mt. Townsend Seastack Cheese.
Paired with Elysian Bete Blanche Tripel.
-It's impossible for me to choose a single favorite food, but as far as cheese goes, I think this Seastack cheese is the perfect cheese. The Pork Belly and the cheese both seemed to melt right at body temperature, but then the adorable little buckwheat pancake was there for a bit of texture and the Tripel just rounded out the whole course.

It was at this point that someone noticed the full moon had risen. As word spread throughout the dinning room - everyone got up and ran outside to watch the moon rise over Mt. Rainier. So magical!

Grilled Winter Root Vegetable Salad with Arugula, Bacon Pastry Tart, and Petite Basque Cheese.
Paired with Elysian Bete Noel.
-More melted cheese on pork, brilliant. The arugula was particularly flavorful also. The Bete Noel is a dark beer which provided a real contrast between this course and the previous one.

Hubbard Squash Fried Grits with Poached Farm Egg, Benton Country Ham, and Oregon White Truffles.
Paired with Elysian The Wise ESB.
-Breakfast for dinner! The ESB was a surprising complement to the food - just hoppy enough to add a little spice, but not too hoppy.

Cattail Creek Lamb Tenderloin with Potato & Goat Cheese Souffle, Squash Ribbons, and a Sugo & Cherry Reduction.
Paired with New Belgium Transatlantique Kriek.
-Another course that left us speechless, in particular, the beer. This beer is a true lambic blended with lager. It started our in oak barrels in Lembeek, Belgium, fermenting naturally with Polish cherries. New Belgium Brewery bought the lambic after it had been aged for over 2 years and blended it with a full-bodied golden lager. Incredible. Oh and it sang in concert with the food it was served with.

Gingerbread Pudding with Ice Wine Poached Pears and Toffee Sauce.
Paired with Elysian Bifrost Winter Ale.
-I've never heard of anyone cooking with ice wine before this, but I totally support it. Those pears were amazing. A perfect ending to an incredible meal!

The kitchen received a standing ovation from the entire dining room. Absolutely phenomenal.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Curry and Spice

I am no where near mastering the art of curry. But I keep working at it, and here is my latest and best attempt yet. I think my biggest problem is a totally irrational fear of using too many spices, possibly because I hate over-spiced foods more than I hate under-spiced foods... So I'm trying to find my spice-balance. Here's how last night's curry began:

Spices in a saute pan: Cinnamon, Coriander, Tumeric, Paprika, Clove, Cardamom, Cumin, and Star Anise. (Note to self: buy some Fenugreek!)

I put this pan of spices over high heat and kept the spices constantly moving to toast them and to release their oils without burning them. This happens fairly quickly.

Meanwhile, I was cooking Blue Bird Grain Farms rice pilaf with lots of saffron and an "Iranian rice herb" mixture. In another pan I seared chicken legs in bacon grease until they were good and brown (dreaming of a tandoori oven). I used onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, and peppers to deglaze the pan as they cooked and released their moisture. When the veggies began to caramelize I added chicken stock and the toasted spices and let the whole thing simmer until the sauce was thick. It turned out to be pretty delicious and my under-spicing aloud the flavor of Stokesberry's incredible chicken to come through.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's Pot Pie Time!

I've been craving pot pie lately. Not just craving to eat pot pie, but craving to make pot pie, which is exactly what happened today. I haven't made pie dough in a while, but I followed the golden ratio of 3:2:1 (flour:butter:water). I used my infallible method for cutting butter into flour by small-dicing frozen unsalted butter, adding it to the flour, and systematically squishing each tiny frozen butter cube between my fingers. By starting out with frozen butter, it keeps everything cold enough that the butter doesn't melt and squishing it between your fingers is oh-so-satisfying! Anyway, once I was was done squishing, I put the flour-butter mixture in the fridge while I made the filling with onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, parsnips, cremini mushrooms, green beans, and diced chicken breast. I used my rosemary beer to deglaze the pan, made a quick roux, and added some chicken stock to make it saucy with berbere, cinnamon, paprika, and black pepper.

Side note on my rosemary beer: I wanted to make a beer that tasted like gin, specifically Voyager Gin from Pacific Distilleries. I used some of the lightest malts possible for the mash. The boil contained 5 ounces of hops (Warrior, Mt. Hood, and Tettnang) in addition to rosemary, artemisia, cinnamon sticks, juniper berries, ground cardamom, whole cloves, caraway seeds, and dried thyme. Though I added so much rosemary you can hardly taste the hops...thus it is rosemary beer. It's excellent to cook with and it's aging quite nicely as a beverage. But I digress, back to the pie!

I made the pies in ramekins and the only acceptable thing to do with left over dough is to coat it in cinnamon and sugar and bake it.

I initially forgot to poke the pie dough in a couple places to allow for gas exchange so they don't explode. When I checked on them part way through baking, one of the smaller ones was literally levitating - my pot pie became a hot air balloon! Physics is awesome sometimes. Anyway, I poked them and they finished cooking beautifully.

I made a quick salad to go with a pot pie for dinner. If only pot-pie wasn't so time-consuming to make, I'd make them all the time!