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Steamed Mussels in Thai Basil Coconut Broth

27-Jun-2014

 
Steamed Mussels in Thai Basil Coconut Broth
 

This is one of my favorite mussel recipes. It comes together very quickly. I don’t always assemble  mise en place when I cook, but for this recipe you should have all the chopping and measuring done before you start.  Feel free to substitute ingredients or increase/decrease the amounts.

This makes a great starter or main course. As a main allow at least a pound of mussels for every two people, more is advisable. As with many mussel recipes the broth is delicious, so make sure you have crusty, country bread available to soak it up.

The recipe specifies individual plating but I generally serve the mussels family-style. To make it easier to get to the broth I use a slotted spoon to place the mussels in the serving bowl and then pour the broth into a small side bowl so that everyone can spoon as much as they want over their mussels.

 
Mise en Place
 

Steamed Mussels in Thai Basil Coconut Broth

adapted from Dishing with Kathy Casey: Food, Fun, and Cocktails from Seattle’s Culinary Diva

  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced ginger
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh lemongrass (Optional) – I added this
  • 13.5 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh Thai Basil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, washed and debearded
  • ½ cup matchstick cut carrots
  • ½ cup matchstick cut red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup slivered green onion
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and lemongrass and cook, stirring often, for about 30 seconds; do not let the mixture burn.

Add the coconut milk, fish and soy sauce, Thai Basil, lime juice, carrots, red peppers, and green onions. Stir for about one minute and bring to boil.

Add the mussels and bring back to a boil. Cover immediately. Steam the mussels covered for 3 to 5 minutes – or until mussels open. Immediately remove from heat and with slotted spoon divide the mussels (discard any not open) and vegetables between 4 bowls.  Taste the broth and add salt or pepper, if needed.  Pour the broth over the mussels. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.

White wines like Dry Riesling or Pinot Gris go well with this dish as they help cut the heat from the pepper flakes.

Scenes from the Beer and Bacon Classic

19-May-2014
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Hook & Plow's Pulled Pork on a bun
 

I was invited to attend the first Bacon and Beer Classic held at SAFECO Field on Saturday night. Generally speaking, I have a little bit of trepidation about attending large, first-time, events since it just seems to take a trial or two until the organizers can pull together an event that really works. However,  the words “Bacon and Beer” seduced me, and I sent in my “yes” RSVP.

 
Making Pretzel Necklaces
 

These guys did a lot of things right: booths were nicely spread around the perimeter in small groups; there were things to do besides just eating and drinking from ongoing musical entertainment to a whole section of grown-up sized games; the number of tastes and bites allotted was a generous, 25 of each, and there was no messing with buying extra tickets; the spaces between the vendor groupings were great for taking a moment to enjoy whatever you were drinking/munching and if you wanted to sit for a few minutes there was plenty of seating!  Also, the small, porcelain, red “Solo” cups were cute and clever.

 
Bacon Jam with cheese frosting
 

A couple of things that could be improved for next year: please do not schedule this event on the same night as a soccer match or a football game, as far as that goes; some participants ran out of food, which is always disappointing. This event had both an afternoon and evening session and, it appeared, some of the vendors did not open at all for the second session, while several others closed down about an hour into the four-hour evening event.

 
Hard Rock Cafe
 

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The Weekend: Beer & Bacon; KCTS Cooks; U-Dist Street Fair

13-May-2014

 
Buskers

 

I can tell that summer is approaching – weekends are starting to be packed with interesting events, many outdoors.  Here’s a few to check out this weekend.

Beer and Bacon Classic

First up, a new event, the Beer and Bacon Classic at SAFECO Field on May 17th.  There are two sessions to choose from: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm or 6:00 pm – 10 pm.  You must be 21 to attend.

There are more than 40 participating breweries and I’m guessing that many of them will be serving more than one beer – talk about options!  There are also more than 40 participating food vendors and what I like about this lineup is there are several restaurants that you don’t normally see at this sort of event.  With all of them serving something related to bacon – well, there’s a winning combination!

Tickets are available here but before you buy check around for discounts.   I noticed Groupon has a special, as does Amazon Local (probably Living Social, too) and some of the vendors have codes you can use for discounts.  Here’s an example.

KCTS Cooks

Also on Saturday a new version of this popular program airs. From the PR release:

KCTS 9 viewers demonstrate their home-cooked best recipes live on KCTS 9 Cooks: Every Day on May 17 at 11:00 am. Our newest viewer cooking special features the kind of mouth-watering, go-to favorites that have been tested and tasted by real cooks in family kitchens.

In addition to the live event with home cooks, there will be a few local restaurateurs demonstrating great sounding dishes:

  • Chef John Howie, Sport, Seattle | Texas-Style Steak Chili (Award winning!)
  • Chef Meeru Dhalwala, Shanik, Seattle | Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Spinach in Coconut Curry and Quinoa & Cauliflower Salad
  • Chef Tom Douglas, Tom Douglas Restaurants, Seattle | Cornbread Pudding

University District Street Fair

While technically not strictly a culinary event, we all know that one of the best things about street fairs is that category of food found only at certain events like street fairs: roasted corn, dripping with butter; elephant ears covered with cinnamon sugar; and all kinds of twists on ethnic food – some more pseudo than traditional.  There’s one area dedicated to food trucks.  Big Time Brewery will host a beer garden, too.

On Saturday, once you’ve had your fill of street food you can always head a little north to the University District Farmers’ Market and pick up something a little more healthy to counter whatever damage you did at the street fair.

The street fair is both Saturday and Sunday, May 17th and 18th.  For full details check the site.

Seattle Restaurant Development Forum

18-Mar-2014
tags:

I’m not sure if this would appeal to any of you but just in case…..

Wednesday, March 19th there’s an event being held at The Triple Door covering the business of restaurants. Here’s the short and sweet description from the ticketing site:

Seattle Restaurant Development:  Join Bisnow and some of the most innovative restaurateurs in the Seattle area for an inside look into the restaurant development scene. Learn about the hottest neighborhoods for up and coming and well established restaurants alike, and hear the real estate perspective on the growth of Seattle as a veritable restaurant hub.

Additional information from the PR person:

It will be about the the trends, challenges, and opportunities in  Seattle’s restaurant world today—and how restaurants are helping create  the physical landscape and culture of neighborhoods.

What’s most interesting, I think, is the list of presenting chefs/restaurateurs Tom Douglas, Renee Erickson, Thierry Rautereau, Rick Yoder, Ethan Stowell and Matt Dillon.  Also presenting are real estate, architecture and other business professionals.  Apparently they plan to pack a lot in during the 90 minutes of presentation!

Anyway, if you are interested I have a discount code you can use.  The ticket site is here and the discount code is #SEAfoodie, which will give you 33% off the $64 ticket.

Time to Make Corned Beef

07-Mar-2014

 

Homemade Corned Beef

 

A couple of years ago I made corned beef from scratch for the first time.   The process is super easy and the results are delicious.  

There are two potential challenges with this recipe:  it may take you time to track down pink salt – this is a preserving salt not just a pink colored salt like Himalayan salt; and pickling (corning) the beef takes about five days – which isn’t really a challenge unless your refrigerator is already packed to the gills.  Finding space for the container might be hard but this recipe is definitely worth it.

I wrote a post with all the details the first time I made it.  If you get started now you’ll have plenty of time and you’ll be rewarded with your own scrumptious corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day!

Espresso Granita

22-Feb-2014

 
Espresso Granita
 

Apparently this is my winter of making lighter, frozen confections – first the tangerine sorbet and now this espresso/coffee granita!  A nice thing about granita is that you don’t need special equipment to make it, so anyone can enjoy this icy delight. It does, however, take a little time as you break up the ice crystals throughout the freezing process.

You can make this recipe with either espresso or strong coffee. I used a combination because I wanted the richness of espresso but the ease of making a pot of coffee. And I chose decaf beans so I wouldn’t mess up anyone’s sleep when I served it as the finale of a recent dinner.

It’s traditional to top this granita with whip cream but you could also use a shot of a favorite liqueur (think Bailey’s, Frangelico or Kahlua) or even just cream straight from the carton.

You’ll need space in your freezer where a 9″x13″ pan can lay flat, but there’s no special equipment required for granita.

Espresso Granita

based on a recipe from The Perfect Scoop

Makes about 2 quarts

  • 1 cup of freshly brewed espresso
  • 3 cups of freshly brewed very strong coffee (I used 2-3 times the normal coffee amount)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

Mix all ingredients together while the coffee and espresso are still warm.  Stir until the sugar is well dissolved.  Cool the mixture to room temperature or cooler.

Pour the mixture into a 9″x13″ pan and place it in the freezer.  (Alternatively, it may be easier to put the pan in the freezer and then pour the mix, to avoid sloshing.)

Freeze for 1 hour, then take a fork and break up any ice crystals that have formed around the edges of the pan.  Drag them towards the center of the pan.  The mixture will still be almost all liquid so be careful if you need to remove the pan from the freezer to break up the crystals.

From this point on, every 30 minutes rake the mixture with a fork, breaking up the crystals and pulling them to the center of the pan.  It will take a few hours for the mixture to completely freeze.

Tangerine Sorbet

07-Feb-2014

 
Tangerine Sorbet
 

I believe citrus fruit is in season during the winter months to keep us from going stir-crazy during frigid and gray winters. With their bright colors and sweet-tart flavor they shock us out of seasonal malaise.  This tangerine sorbet brings a jolt of sunshine and a spring to my step even on the dreariest of days.  It’s super simple to make – there are just three ingredients and two of them come from the tangerines!

There’s a fine line between some sorbets and granita and this is one of them.  This recipe uses an ice-cream maker; but take the same ingredients, freeze them in a long, wide container (like a 9”x12” pan), then occasionally scrape with a fork and you’ll have granita, instead of sorbet.  In fact, you can see that I scraped more than scooped to fill my little bowl.

Remove the sorbet from the freezer 10 to 15 minutes before serving to let it soften a bit.  With just fruit juice and sugar the mixture will freeze rock-solid.

 
Sorbet
 

Tangerine Sorbet

  • Zest from 1 or 2 tangerines
  • 3 cups tangerine (or other citrus) juice
  • ¾ cup sugar

Add the sugar to 1 cup of the tangerine juice.  Heat over low heat just until sugar is dissolved. (It won’t take long.) Let it cool to room temperature.

Add the zest to the remaining 2 cups of the tangerine juice and, when the sugar-juice mixture has cooled, combine all the juice together.  Chill in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 hours until completely cold.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

 
Tangerine
 

Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti

01-Jan-2014

 

Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti

 

Hard to believe that Christmas and New Year’s Day have already come and gone! It seems like just a minute ago I was up to my elbows in sugar, flour and butter, baking cookies as holiday gifts for the family. I made dozens of cookies and managed to save a few of them for me.  I’ve enjoyed them while taking morning or afternoon breaks and savoring the relative quiet during the last few days. These biscotti are especially good with a demitasse of espresso (the Italians are really onto something with this combination!) or mug of tea.

I use the original recipe ripped from a Bon Appétit magazine a couple of years ago.  The recipe is also on their site and I noticed they modified it at some point.  Based on the comments, it appears many people thought the dough was too dry.  I’ve never had issues with the original version, other than the occasional crumbling cookie corner which sometimes occurs when slicing the baked logs.   However, I often use extra-large eggs so maybe that little bit of extra liquid makes a difference.  And I use a Professional Kitchenaid mixer which has a great motor and it does work pretty hard to bring the dough together. So maybe the updated recipe will work better for most people.

The recipe in this post is the original and the one I use, but the link above will take you to the new version, if you’d prefer to try it.

A couple of notes: I use dried sour cherries, sometimes called pie cherries.  The first year I used dried Bing Cherries and didn’t care for them in this recipe.  Also, if you look at the online recipe it says the cookies can be made three days in advance.  That seems pretty limited.  I’ve sometimes taken up to a month to finish them but keep them in an airtight container.

 

Espresso & Biscotti

 
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Tennessee Sugar Cookies

03-Dec-2013

 

Tennessee Sugar Cookies

 

We are now well into the “holiday season”.  Yay!  I know Thanksgiving has barely come and gone, yet Christmas is barely three weeks away.  And my main celebration comes even sooner since I celebrate with my family the weekend prior.  Yikes!  I started my baking ramp up last week.  This week I’m trying to get into production mode.

This recipe is one I always make early in my holiday baking.  It comes together easily and makes a pretty big batch of cookies which makes it an easy win and gets me motivated to do more.  I have no idea why these are “Tennessee” Sugar Cookies but that’s what they’re called.  A million or so years ago one of my cousins brought these to a summertime family gathering.  I fell in love with them immediately and when she gave me the recipe card – because in the olden days that’s how we shared recipes! – that was the name on the card.  The original version was rolled in granulated sugar.  For my Christmas version I roll them in a mixture of granulated sugar and various colored topping sugars, aka sprinkles.  At one point I tried using all sprinkles but found that was a little bit of overkill.

 

Tennessee Sugar Cookies

 
 
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Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie

30-Nov-2013

 

Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie

 

I’ve never made pecan pie before. Which is odd because I really like a good pecan pie and cringe when I have a bad one. So it seems I should have tried my hand at making one (or more) to learn what makes a good pie. Since one of my assignments was the “other” pie for Thanksgiving, other than pumpkin, that is, I decided to give it a try. Lucky for me I used the recipe from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook so my very first pie was great!

The filling in the Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie is rich but not too sweet like some pecan pies are. The molasses and bourbon in the recipe add depth and balance the sugar. Toasting the pecans results in a nuttier flavor. The filling was really easy to pull together.

I even decided to try the suggested pastry recipe instead of my normal go-to recipe. The pastry was pretty time intensive, because there is a lot of chilling at various steps along the way. But it’s really good and would have been even better if I didn’t make an error while blind baking the shell – I somehow turned off the heat when I placed the shell in the oven. Crazy! When I realized what I’d done I had to get the oven back up to temperature and then continue baking. Of course all the time spent keeping the pastry cold before placing it in the oven went down the drain. But even with my error it was still rather flaky, if a bit crispy, too. You can also see that I didn’t get the crust properly anchored to the pan – that’s why the crust is not covering the rim of the pie plate. Not all the filling will fit in the pie crust if it shrinks, but I don’t really stress out over that. I just bake the leftover filling in a little ramekin and save it as a treat for myself – there are positive aspects to making mistakes sometimes!

The only thing I might do differently next time is try to squeeze in a few more nuts – but maybe not. I need to think about that a little more.

If you have a baker or would-be baker in the family, this cookbook would make a nice holiday gift. In the meantime you can find the pie recipe here.

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