Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Libations at the Fir, and the Most Awesome, Cheap, Homegrown Mac you Ever Saw...

A quick snapshot of the delicious smoothie, previously mentioned:

This sunday, to celebrate Sarah's completion of the GRE, and my 75 miles on the bike (over 2 days), we went to the Noble Fir to drink our favorite dry cider, the Julien, and devour some small plates. Pictured here, from left: Seasalt & Honey Cheddar, St Andre Triple Cream, Marinated Artichokes, Lentil-Sage Field Roast, & Duck Pate.

Not kidding when we say it's our favorite cider. For three people, we left with two growlers full, and then a growler of one of my favorite beers (Russian River's Damnation):

And finally, the best Mac I've ever had, let alone made:

If you want to try it at home (and I think you do):

Boiled the shells in salted water until done, and put pan baking pan. Toss with olive oil.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil. Put diced onions and minced garlic into the pan and soften. Toss in sliced mushrooms til they soften. Add broccoli florets and cook briefly, until al dente. Then add sliced prociutto.

For the kicker, you add chevre into the saucepan. Stir, on heat, until the chevre melts into a cream concoction, coating the veggeis. Pour the whole filling over the noodles. Mix it in with the noodles so the filling and noodles have even dispersal. Then top with shredded Rosemary & Olive Oil Asiago (or some other such cheese). Bake in oven at 350 for approximately 10 minutes. (I used this time to do the dishes, of which there were very few. )

After it's done baking, scoop some onto a plate, and sprinkle a little cracked black pepper.

This meal, meant to simultaneously fuel me up the week before the century, and be super cheap after spending too much money at The Noble Fir, ended up being not only the best Mac N Cheese that I've ever made, but that I've ever had. On top of it all, it cost $18 to make for about 6 servings. $3/meal=awesome.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Nothing says Summer, for me, quite like ribs. And, well, since we haven't had much of a summer (for which I'm not complaining anymore...and I wish a good, healthy, cool rainstorm all through the East & Midwest)... well, grilling is as close as I'm like to get.

I should mention, here, that I have never been one to grill. I've eaten what others have grilled, but my experience is super-limited.

Anyway, I subscribe to this pork blog because pig is awesome and they had this recipe that sounded amazing. So when my friend Sarah tells me that she's craving ribs, I think to myself "self... it's time to make some ribs."

Starting with their recipe, I did some modifications.

Instead of spare ribs, I got a rack of regular old pork ribs. I smothere the ribs with my own dry rub was an ad-hoc but spicy concoction. I used Cayenne, Chili Powder, Seasalt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper. It was pretty heavy on the Cayenne & Chili Powder and it had some serious kick when I licked it off my finger.

I let the ribs sit in the fridge for a bit longer than a day, letting all the dry rub flavors really dig their talons into the meat.

For the most part, I followed the bbq sauce recipe to a T... 1 c. Ketchup, some maple syrup, I used a red chili pepper hot sauce--but I threw in a bit more than was suggested. Maybe 1 or 2 tbsp... and I put in a whole tsp of the cayenne. I also skipped the smoke flavoring because I don't much care for smoke flavored things (with the exception of smoked salmon and smoked trout...and the naturally occuring smoky flavor from charcoal grilling).

For the cooking, I skipped the suggested baking time. (Mostly because I thought the ribs were only cooked in the oven and I really wanted mine grilled.) I put them on the grill without any bbq sauce for a while, with the lid on, letting them cook pretty slowly, further fementing those dry rubs flavors. then I put the bbq sauce on and let them cook a bit more quickly.

They turned out delicious. Tender, juicy, spicy. I wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Eating With Friends

Most weeks, at least once a week (usually Thursdays), I go over to a friend's house to eat, drink, and watch something--usually ridiculous. We started with Riff Trax. And then when Game of Thrones happened, we watched that. Now we've moved onto Rome.

When Game of Thrones started, we started making food from the Game of Thrones blog. With Rome, we have been eating and drinking Italian. But this week we decided to skip the theme since one of our peeps was out of town. I've been wanting to try something I got from Bread and Jam for Frances with some slight modifications. Here is her version.

Now here's mine:

Endives with Egg Salad & Smoked Trout

Endives, leaved

3 Eggs, hard-boiled, chopped
Mayo (I used homemade-- 2 egg yolks, 3/4 cup veg oil, 1/5 tbsp apple cider vinegar)
Fresh Dill, chopped
Cucumber, diced
Tomato, chopped
Onion, diced
Sea Salt

1 Can Smoked Trout

Combine all of the middle ingredients to make the Egg Salad.

Scoop Egg Salad into the Endives. Cover with chunks of smoked trout.

Devour. Bliss.

Then play Rock Band.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Foods of Summer

I have to admit that I haven't had the most exciting diet this summer, if you can even call these rainy days a summer.

Anyway, with the Seattle Century around the corner, I've been focusing my diet on things rich in protein, lean, etc. So I've been eating a lot of smoothies for dinner. I have to say that I have mastered the smoothie (finally). First, you put the ice in (I use about 6-8 cubes) and crush. Then I had 1/4 cup juice and blend. Then 1/4 cup greek yogurt and 1-2 spoonfulls of peanut butter. Then half a frozen banana and some frozen berries. You can use any fruit you like a smoothie flavored after. I like blackberry. It's sort of like a peanut butter and jelly smoothie. Delish!

But I haven't been eating smoothies every day and despite the crappy weather, the Ballard Market has managed to provide me with greens and radishes and beats and other delightful things. And Seafood Fest gave me a whole salmon at $2/pound. Ridiculous pricing. I wish I had gotten pictures of the whole deboning process (which I mangled). But all of these things together have given me some super fresh dinners.

After deboning the salmon, I marinated it in a dressing made with lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper. I cooked at low heat in the oven. The fish turned out super tender but I kind of overdid it with the lime. Still, doesn't it look pretty? The medjool dates were a wonderful addition. But I kind of think they always are.

The salmon being too tart ended up being kind of glorious because I turned some of the salmon into magnificent salmon salad sandwiches. I used a small amount of tartar in place of mayo, and then diced up radishes, carrots, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes, and threw in a pinch of my mom's zuchini relish. It was pretty much in my top 5 sandwiches of all time. And I wish I had a picture of that too.

A couple weeks ago, I house/dog sat for my parents. With the Century coming up, I didn't want to give up a weekend training ride so I brought my bike down with me. I sought out a ride with at least one big hill that would be about 40-45 miles. It turned out to be the most beautiful ride I have yet to do. The weather cooperated. And it was so smooth on a beautiful bike path, I rode through farm land, prairie, and right up the base of Mount Rainier. Almost the whole ride, I could see it shiny in the distance.

Then I got to feast off of strawberries from my mom's garden and a veggie pasta tossed lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper.

It was simple, light, and totally rejuvenating after a long ride.

While I've been having my usual egg on toast for breakfast, and most often a smoothie for dinner of late, I have still be trying to cook something big each week to take for lunch. This week it was fried rice. I had one of those days where it just sounded so damned good. And I almost never cook rice (usually subbing quinoa for any situation where it would be appropriate). But I really wanted rice.

I started with jasmine rice (which I had to go out and buy since I don't keep it on hand). I put two cups in my steamer and let it go. Then let it sit for two nights. When the rice was ready, I pulled out my big frying pan (because I haven't yet bought a stinking wok) and put some olive oil in at medium heat and let it warm up. Then I tossed a diced walla walla onion and a mashed and chopped giant clove of garlic in the pan. I let them brown and soften slowly. Then I tossed in some diced mixed peppers (some red, yellow, and orange). I don't like it when my peppers get all mushy so I didn't leave them in too long. Then I doused them in hot chili sauce and soy sauce. I wanted to make sure there was a nice flavorful sauce. Here I added some baked tofu. I made sure they were nicely coated and warm and then, finally, tossed in the rice. I mixed and mixed until my arms were sore. That was a lot of rice. I mixed until the rice was fully coated and warm. Then I added peas and mixed. Then, I made a hole in the rice, dropped in an egg, and mixed until it was mixed and cooked.

It's maybe not the best fried rice I've ever made. Mostly because I really didn't care for the Trader Joes Baked Tofu. I really wanted the protein but I've picked around it and it's still pretty damned good.

I've also had a few failed attempts at homemade mayo. It turned out like mayo, but I haven't gotten the vinegar ratio like I like it. And I also made meringue because you only use the yolks when you make mayo, so you have to do something with the whites. What better than meringue, eh? Soon I might try my hand at marshmallow though.

Up next, and soon, tales of pork ribs on the barbie. Yum!