Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween and My Favorite Food...

...kind of a twist on the usual versions of my favorite foods anyway. Something to enjoy a bit of the harvest as well as some local and not so local foods; pizza!

It's All Hallows Eve once again and the lad is out with his Mum and friends so here I am waiting to see how the turnout will be in the new neighborhood and so far it's been pretty good, about 20 kids so I've given out about 1/2 the 150 piece bag of candy purchased for the evening. So, the jack o' lantern is lit, the dog is at my feet and I'm sitting in front of rerun TV. What do you think I could make for myself on such an evening? Another clue, I wanted to try a new sangiovese I just picked up but more on that later...

Northwest Fall Pizza
  • Dough
  • 3/4 Cup Warm Water
  • 1 Tbl Yeast
  • 2 Tbl Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/3 Cup All purpose four
  • 2/3 Cup Whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbl Kosher salt

  • Toppings
  • 2t tsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Large bosc pear, cored and sliced into 16 wedges
  • 2 oz Rogue creamery Oregon blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 Cup Walnuts, raw and chopped coarse
  • 2 slices Red onion, about 1/8 thick
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Add the yeast and flour to the warm water in a food processor or mixer and pulse
  2. Add the kosher salt and knead together for about 4 to 6 minutes
  3. Let rest in an oiled bowl while covered with a towel, about 40 minutes

  1. Heat the oven with a pizza stone to 550F

  1. Divide the dough in half and roll out to about a 10" disc on a floured board
  2. Top the disc with 2tsp olive oil
  3. Arrange the pear wedges evenly over the olive oil
  4. Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese and chopped walnuts
  5. Separate the onion slices into rings and arrange evenly over the top of the pie

  1. Bake for about 7 to 8 minutes
  2. Remove from the oven and let rest about 3 minutes and slice into wedges

Tonight I had this with a lovely $8.99 sangiovese from Italy but that's another post. Lets suffice it to say that this was a fine combination for a fall evening.

I do need to find my camera cable because even if I do say so myself, this was damn near as pretty as it was tasty


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Late evening in Shoreline...

So after arriving home after dark...didn't I leave the house before daybreak as well?

Sitting down to a fine meal after a day of it and knowing we'll be out late tomorrow for the MLS semifinal playoff game. Sitting in front of the tube, a recorded PBS Levon Helm concert and thinking about doing some work stuff to try and catch up...

Anyway, home about 6:30 after a long day and an errand on the way home and again...what to eat? After last night it was gonna be pretty basic and not involving a lot of work nor anything too rich so how about some home cookin'... quick, hearty (it was after all only 49F today at it's warmest) and made from the stuff I had so roasted corn chowder it is!

Weeknight Roasted Corn Chowder

1/2 Yellow onion diced
1 Garlic clove, large fresh minced
1Tbl Butter
1Tbl Olive oil
1 Carrot, small dice
1 Celery rib, small dice
1 Yukon Gold potatoes, 1/2" dice
1Cup Roasted corn, frozen Trader Joe's
3Cups Chicken stock
3Dashes Tabasco sauce
1tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2Cup Heavy cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Sweat the garlic and onions in the butter and olive oil
Add the carrot & celery cooking for about 3 or 4 minutes
Add the potatoes, roasted corn and stock & bring to a boil over high heat
Lower the heat to a slow boil until potatoes ate just starting to fall apart and run a masher through the pot to smash up some of the spuds
Add the Old Bay and cream and simmer for about 20 minutes or until thickened nicely
Adjust the salt & pepper to taste and serve piping hot with some crusty bread

All in all about 40 minutes including cook time. Hits the spot on a chilly Fall evening with an icy cold IPA - Broken Halo from Widmer for contrast all with some classic Americana music on the tube. Life doesn't suck...


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ken Wright 2002 Savoya Vineyard Pinot



Kill me now for I have tasted Nirvana!

To begin, the only thing wrong with this wine is that it's a school night so I can't drink the whole bottle. This has got to be the very best wine that has ever passed over my lips.

Everything that a red wine should be was in this bottle; rich ripe fruit tasting of cherries, plums, blackberries, vanilla, a hint of smoke and tobacco, pinch of black pepper and not a hint of any vegetal flavors. Smooth and full with great mouth feel without being overly viscous. The color rich red garnet with a deep purple in the glass like ripe Italian plums and just the ever so slightest hint of cocoa around the edge.

I decided that I needed to open something nice with some chanterelles I had tonight. Now some people live for chocolate, others the local asparagus of Spring. My food year is repeatedly made with the arrival of the wild mushrooms in fall; hen of the woods and lobster shrooms are ok and in fact most lovely but the one that makes it for me is the chanterelle. Perhaps it is the fact that it is singularly available and relatively affordable and very plentiful with the advent of Fall but I think it is the fact that it just suits my culinary style - butter, olive oil, garlic, shallots, pork, fresh ground pepper, thyme, pizza, parmesan, asiago, rosemary...these are a few of my favorite things (to steal a line made famous by Julie Andrews) and chanterelles fit right in with all those things. Fall is colorful leaves, smoke in the air from fireplaces or yard leavings, wine grape and pear harvest...aaahhhhh.

Tonight it was a twist on an old favorite - the same saute of chanterelles with garlic, butter and white wine I use for my bruschetta but tonight I made a pizza dough with extra olive oil and after the rise I tossed a bit more olive oil on the rolled out disc and topped it with freshly grated asiago cheese and then the sauteed chanterelles. Baked in a 550F oven for about 7 minutes and while it baked I opened the wine.

Oh the wine... I wish I could share this fine juice with the rest of the world. Those that say they can't taste the difference between a fine wine and plonk would fall to their knees and pee themselves over this make no mistake. Over my career I have had the good fortune to drink so many fine reds from every wine producing region in the world and I must say this is right up there with the finest and for my dollars even better. Now I don't recall whether this was a gift or whether this was one of the bottles purchased as part of a package of futures from Ken but the current vintage is running about $45 to $60 on the internet and if it's anything like this it's worth every penny.

What luck for me!

Anyway, hasta...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday and I Don't Wanna Do Anything

After a long day at work where I accomplished little except some self frustration and a rainy commute to get home...

Tomorrow's trash day so out with the rubbish and recycle, a bit of time standing with the dog scratching behind his ears and listening to the back garden waterfall during a respite in the rain and I just don't want to do anything. No dog walk, no gardening, no cooking, no nothin'...

After surfing a bit o' internet I still couldn't come up with anything to do for dinner nor was I very motivated to think harder. First thought ran to a galette of chanterelle & parmesan but the pastry would have taken too long and even a pizza type dough would have set back the time too much so I made a drink and as I sat sipping the juice of distilled Swedish grains with citrus and water of quinine I continued to contemplate the problem of dinner (well, better than the old days of sitting around getting smoked up and contemplating meaningless things like my navel, huh?) and came up with broccoli & button mushrooms in oyster sauce with brown rice, pad Thai, cheddar and mushroom omelette, home fries and over easy eggs and even not having any dinner at all. Take out is an option but I'm trying to quit running out anytime I want something (I was terribly spoiled being able to walk everywhere at our last house), delivery would work but I'm also trying to quit spending money frivolously when I have food in the house.

After making another drink and reading a bit I had it; a tried and true not too much cooking, hearty, cheesy, hot and good and done nearly as quickly as boiling water... gnocchi. Rich in taste and texture, creamy and satisfying and best of all, nearly effortless so here it is -

Monday Night Throw Together Gnocchi
  • 1lb Gnocchi, I like to keep a couple 1lb packages from Trader Joe's around the house
  • 1Tbl Butter
  • 2Tbl Mama Lil's Kick Butt Goathorn peppers in their oil
  • .5oz Garlic, fresh minced
  • 2oz Asiago cheese, grated
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Boil the gnocchi according to the package instructions reserving the cooking liquid
  2. Finely chop the peppers and add to a cold saute pan with their oil, the butter and garlic
  3. Bring the burner up to medium high while cooking the garlic and stirring to flavor the fats
  4. When the oil is sizzling, add the gnocchi and heat for about 2 minutes stirring and tossing the gnocchi
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and reduce until thickened, add the cheese and stir in to make a clingy sauce
Serve with some fresh ground pepper over the top and sit in front of rerun TV and you've got a great dinner in about 15 minutes for a lazy Monday evening


Sunday, October 25, 2009

And so the week comes to an end...

It's been a pretty good food week for us around Casa Hunger. Knowing we're headed into the time of being a bit more conscious of our food purchases and also knowing our Entertainment book coupons are about to expire, Henry and I headed to our very favorite place - the Wingdome!

We had just been to the rally before the Sounder match and although we didn't have tix we attended, tried to get tee shirts for fan appreciation (they ran out about 10 peeps before us), lent some support and stopped by the Wingdome for an order to go; 2 each orders of 10 wings, 3 alarm and an order of hot cross fries - waffle cut fries tossed in 3 alarm sauce and topped with bleu cheese. While we waited, we got a few drinks at the nearby market and then headed home with our bounty to watch the Sounder FC match. Anyway, suffice to say it was truly wonderful to have a great treat and watch the home team win the last game of the season all with my son and best pal on a Saturday night.

Last weekend I made a yummy cottage pie with lots of vegetables and enjoyed that through the week except for the day the majority of the team did Thai takeout; mmm Mussaman curry. This has been a pretty cool week temperature wise and the cottage pie was a real tasty treat; hearty and savory break for the workday.

Thursday Henry and I attended a meet & greet for Kasey Keller and Freddie Ljundberg from the sounders and afterward he played some football in the parking lot of the Home Depot where the event was held then he suggested the nearby taco truck for dinner; I was pretty surprised but it's one of my favorites so no argument from me. This one is called El Camion and Henry announced "This Rocks!" after the first bite of his tacos de pollo. He tried my gorditas with carne asada and liked that almost as much. He let me know he'll take his Mum there and that he and I can return any time. I love that he's getting more and more adventurous all the time.

Friday I introduced the Younger Hunger to spaghetti carbonara and he decreed it to be awesome. This was a fine frugal Friday evening, usually a night set aside for pizza but I fell asleep on the couch after a big week at work and it was too late to start the dough. Enter carbonara...

Spaghetti Carbonara
  • 1lb Spaghetti, dry
  • 2 slices Bacon, thick cut - diced
  • 1Tbl Olive oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves, small
  • 4 Egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp Salt, Kosher
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy cream
  • 2oz Asiago cheese, grated
  1. Boil spaghetti & reserve the cooking liquid
  2. While the spaghetti cooks, cook the diced bacon in the olive oil over medium heat
  3. When the bacon is crisp, add the garlic and turn off the heat stirring to cook slightly
  4. Whisk the egg yolks with the salt and add the cream while continuing to whisk together; set aside
  5. Add the drained pasta to the pan with the bacon and garlic tossing in the oil & fat - if the pasta sticks, add some of the pasta water to release from the bottom of the pan
  6. Add the combined egg yolks and cream plus the cheese
  7. Stir the sauce into the pasta, the heat of the pasta will cook the eggs and it must be stirred well to keep from scrambling the eggs
  8. Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste and serve

This evening it's been another drear rainy day here in the PNW so I needed something hearty again that would yield a few leftovers so tonight it was mushroom risotto - simple, hearty, rich and an old standby for me. I nearly always have the makin's in the cupboard and it was a fine way to end the week and begin the leftovers for lunches (although I have one portion of cottage pie left, it was a big batch).

Mushroom Risotto
  • 2 Cups Arborio rice
  • 2 Cups White wine
  • 4 Cups Chicken stock, very warm
  • 1/2oz Garlic, fresh minced
  • 8oz Yellow onion, diced
  • 8oz Mushrooms, button or cremini or whatever you have
  • 1tsp Thyme, fresh
  • 1/4tsp Crushed red pepper
  • 1Tbl Olive oil
  • 2Tbl Butter
  • 4oz Asiago cheese, grated
  1. Melt the butter with the oil over medium low heat
  2. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and thyme increasing heat to medium
  3. Add the onions and sweat with a pinch of kosher salt until translucent
  4. Add the mushrooms and stir cooking until the mushrooms have given off their liquid and it has evaporated
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat each kernel with the remaining oil until it glistens
  6. Add the wine and reduce the heat to medium low again
  7. Once the liquid is evaporated, add 1 cup of the warm chicken stock and stir until all liquid is evaporated
  8. Repeat above step until all stock is consumed and the rice is cooked through but still al dente - if needed water can be added until the rice is done
  9. Once the rise is done, add freshly grated black pepper & salt to taste
  10. Cook stirring until nearly all liquid is evaporated but still a little gravy like
  11. Stir in the grated cheese and serve immediately
Tonight, I added some frozen peas and the heat of the risotto thawed the peas quickly and it added a nice green color and another dimension of flavor. Later in the week I can make risotto cakes fried crisp and serve them under braised greens or sauteed broccoli with garlic. It makes and fine leftover lunch as well.

That about rounds up the week, more later...


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Garlicky Pink & Green Yumminess

So here I sit after a fine tasting, relatively good for me and very quick dinner. If I hadn't had to make the rice it would have been about 15 minutes but brown rice takes almost an hour so while it cooked I caught up on Facebook and the completed the prep for the main event; shrimp with green.

Shrimp with Green

8oz Prawns, peeled & deveined - I used 21-25s, on sale for $3.99 a pound so still frugal
6oz Broccoli florets
.5oz Garlic, fresh minced
1.5Tbl Peanut oil

Combine the following -
2Tbl Shaosing rice wine
1tsp Sesame oil
1tsp Hoison sauce
1tsp Sriracha - I like spicy so this definitely to taste
1Tbl Soy sauce

In a hot wok, add the peanut oil and garlic and stir quickly
Add the shrimp and broccoli tossing to coat with the oil and garlic and spread out in the wok to get it all over the cooking surface for about 90 seconds
Stir again and add the sauce
Continue to stir fry until the shrimp is just about done and the broccoli is still crisp; by this time the sauce should have reduced a bit and coated the goodies

Serve over hot steamed brown rice & serve with an IPA, mine of choice lately has been the Sierra Nevada Torpedo but the Widmer Broken Halo is a fine choice as well


Monday, October 19, 2009


I just saw the date of my last post and my oh my it's been a while.

As I sit here in my new house with my pooch at my feet and after a fine meal of fresh chanterelles sauteed in butter, olive oil & garlic it dawns on me that I need to start writing again. It's been too long and I do miss it so I don't have a clue as to why I have been away so long other than games, buying and moving into a new house, big projects at work. barely keeping my head above water in so many things but hey, I digress a bit and even border on making excuses...

The new house has presented many a challenge, not the least of which has been moving from a 1450 square foot house to one 840 square feet with a 120 square foot guest house. The yard is magnificent and has presented us with a few herbs and two apple trees, one of which even has apples that taste good and are clear without any brown spots. The other is really a bit more ornamental, the fruit is riddled with brown spots and the fruit is really more for the tree rats than anything else. Really though the birds are plentiful, the squirrels are cute and friendly and the dog loves the pond. He dashes out there and jumps right in before he does anything else. Right now we are watching the sumac turn to orange and red, the hostas going golden before dying and harvesting the last of the apples before a long winters nap. We wrapped the banana tree for it's hibernation and I'm starting to look for the spots in which to grow vegetables next year. There are raspberries here already, a spot for me to plant asparagus and artichokes for next year (the wait will be difficult I assure you) and we brought our potato boxes up from the old house and will find someplace for them along with zukes, leaves and a pizza oven that we will add in the near future.

Anyway, I've gotten a bit outside my frugal ways and I need to get back on it. November we reinstate the path so until then I want to try and get back in the habit of writing; most of this will be more musings along current thoughts on food, the challenges and quirks of learning to cook in my new house (came with a Jennair convection oven but I think the temp's way off) and finding places to keep all our feed and while I'm getting back in the groove, I'll plop a couple recipes here as well but since I can't find the cable to my camera right now it won't have the visuals to go with; please accept my apologies up front.

Tonight's dinner was a perfect example of why I live in the PNW; chanterelles with garlic on toast along with a cheap Cline Syrah so here goes...

Northwest Mushroom Bruschetta

Toast 4 slices of good pugliese or ciabatta and set aside
  • 4oz Chanterelles, fresh
  • 2tsp Butter
  • 2tsp Olive oil, Spanish arbequina works nicely here
  • 3 or 4 small sprigs Thyme, fresh
  • 1 clove Garlic, fresh
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper (fresh ground) to taste
  • White wine - my go to cooking white is Big House White from Bonny Doon
  1. Melt the butter in the oil and put in the whole thyme sprigs until they start to pop and sizzle
  2. Toss in the minced garlic and swirl for about 15 seconds
  3. Toss in the sliced chanterelles and a pinch of kosher salt
  4. Saute and stir for about 3 mins until the shrooms are limp, add some pepper and toss again
  5. Grind in some pepper, add about 1/4 C of the white wine and reduce
  6. Remove the thyme sprigs and top the toasts

If you're inclined, grate a bit of asiago over the top with your microplane for another added bit of flavor but it's good w/o too

The Cline was a decent bit of plonk for $8 but a bit weak and hot but more on that later as I continue to search for an everyday red for the weekdays...