Month: March 2008

Som Tam

Or, as we like to call it, “Sometimes.” Okay, I’m really pissed because I made some delicious food last night but the photos came out hell of shitteh so I don’t want to show them to you. I made the dish I was going to […]

Because we are concerned about your health!

Okay, I totally stole the idea from Voodoo Donuts, but it’s so good, how could I not? I was in a stupid shittown grocery store that had maple bars and fried bacon in the deli. Two great tastes that taste great together. [Insert Homer Simpson […]

Chicken dumpling soup

Scott said “it tastes just like the Amish Kitchen back in Columbus!” I’m pretty sure he meant that in a nice way, but I think the actual Amish would think my dumplings aren’t plain enough, and are of sin.

I had some leftover oven-fried chicken from Friday night, and some leftover gnocchi from Saturday, and am in a shitty mood. I needed some comfort food, with gravy.

Thank god I keep chicken stock in my freezer! I had some fancy-ass Klamath Pearl potatoes, some Sweet Nantes carrots, and a bunch of other shit that doesn’t have a gay name. Ooh, I also had a little leftover gravy from fried chicken night. Onions, thyme, that chicken, and those gnocchi. Stick it in a pot with the stock and gravy on low heat until the potatoes are done (well, add the gnocchi last so you don’t end up with lead slugs).


These words make me feel like a total fucking whore. And not the good kind. I never thought I would *gasp* cook something from a mix, but Williams-Sonoma had a box of chocolate truffle bread mix (with real Valrhona chocolate!) on the clearance rack, and […]

Orzo with octopus, garbanzos and chayote, with meyer lemon vinaigrette

I bought some chayote. I had always been kinda curious about these weird little fuckers, and finally bit the bullet and just brought some home. I sometimes just buy strange produce and then figure out how to use it after I get it home. I’m […]

Dinner at Simpatica: a reprise

Simpatica Catering and Dining Hall is one of our very favorite restaurants ever. We eat here every other month or so, and are never disappointed.

Best-looking kitchen in Portland. There’s just something about boys in aprons, lemme tell ya.

The people we were seated with were recent California transplants, not-quite foodies (the prissy bitches passed over half the appies for some reason or another), and Simpatica virgins. They were, however, happy to receive my “Best Of Portland” list. Gah, get a couple drinks in me.

First came the hushpuppies. Tender little clouds of cornbread, crispy on the outside and ethereal puffs of steam on the inside. I enjoyed mine with a squirt of hot sauce.

The Lousiana hotlinks had that uber-savory Viande flavor – a little bit lamb, a little bit pork, and just the right amount of heat, all tempered by a cool, sweet savoy slaw. Even the prissy bitches had to give it up and testify.

The shrimp were gargantuan, and swam in an herbal crab stock reduction, perfect soppage for quality baguette. These were just one more element of my complete undoing.

The Zydeco meat pies were like spicy empanadas with the faintest dribble of creme fraiche to soothe the palate and quell the fire.

A creative take on the fried pickle, these house-made zucchini quick-pickles were a little sweeter than I’d normally prefer (in a pickle), but paired so well with the remoulade that I ain’t mad at it.

After the appies (and my chance to prove that I wouldn’t be a total nuisance) Dave let me come back to the kitchen and taste some of the chrysanthemum that would be featured in the salad. It tasted exactly like I expected: asteraceous. Go ahead and look it up. It’s a real word. Most lettuces are in the Asteraceae family, so why not throw a chrysanthemum in the mix?

Throw in some mache and mesclun and we’re laughin’. The addition of some fat and protein never hurt a bitter green that I ever met, and the chopped egg’s placid character was a perfect compliment to a back-talkin’ spicy crouton.

If anyone ever wants to know the secret ingredient to making regular food taste like restaurant food, this is it: copious amounts of butter.

Jason’s Popeye arms come from his use of what is literally a giant wooden paddle to lull a vat of jambalaya, I just know it. When Greta asked “what’re these stringy bits in here?” about the jambalaya, I assumed it was the mucilagenous starch from okra or somesuch, but upon closer inspection of the next morning’s leftovers-as-breakfast, I realized it was pure ham muscle fiber. The tasso had completely dissolved into the rice. I truly wish I had been able to capture this, but I guess you’ll just have to believe me. (I think some of the mix’s richness was also derived from chicken livers, but this is just an educated guess based on what I tasted.)

Oh, heh, I couldn’t get through more than couple bites of the jambalaya, as I had defiantly championed through the entire appie and salad courses without pacing myself.

One of the hottie sous chefs rolls a chocolate beignet through a dredge of cinnamon sugar.
The beignets were head-to-toe orgasm with roasted banana ice cream, but constituted a Multiple with the addition of salted almonds (my idea – they were strewn about the tables in tiny terra cotta vessels to quell pangs between courses). The non-foodies at our table missed out on my genius, but whatevs.

Do you know how hard it is to photograph dinner-lit food without using a flash? Out of 157 shots, I could only muster these few. Lesson learned!

Simpatica Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

Dinner at Simpatica

Can I ever express enough how much I love this place? Saturday, March 15 Cajun Night Appetizers Oysters On The Half Shell with Tabasco Mignonette Fried Pickles Cajun BBQ Shrimp Hush Puppies Louisiana Hot Links Cabbage Slaw Zydeco Meat Pies with Andouille Sausage Cajun Salad […]

NY Strip with blue cheese and celeriac gnocchi

NY strip is a good cut of beef. Salt and pepper and a sear is all it needs. I gave it some Dutch blue just for shits and giggles. Also, celeriac makes good gnocchi. I think next time I’ll do a brown butter and caraway […]

Spring chicken and asparagus-pea risotto with mint

‘Lenten Rose’ hellebore in my garden. I collect hellebores, jack-in-the-pulpits and euphorbias.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the old adage, “she’s no spring chicken”. It’s strange, because I generally feel pretty sassy and chic for being a chick over thirty, but I go through periods of feeling a bit fwumpy and old. This is probably not coincidental to shopping for clothing at Forever 21 at the mall.

And there it is. See that? I just psychoanalyzed myself in front of all of you and am already cutting myself some fucking slack and enjoying a nice cocktail and some delicious, white carbs.

I made this springtime dish to celebrate spring’s arrival and to engage in battle for some Tupperware over at Ben’s joint. “What’s Cooking?“, his blog asks. Oh I’ll tell you what the fuck is cookin’: well, I guess I already told you in the title of this post.

Spring makes me thing of so many things – the fecundity of rough-skinned newts; the deafening aroma of daphne blossoms across the street; and fresh chicken, skin painted with rich, butter-yellow fat. But what greater harbinger of spring is there, you wonder, than asparagus? (Well I thought of morels, too, but they weren’t at New Seasons yet and I didn’t have time to drive 6 hours to the Rogue National Forest to pick some.) Its little lily shoots, so tender-crisp and verdant, just perfect with snap peas for a springtime risotto. And how about some nice spring chicken, with good crunchy salt and pepper and paper-thin lemon slices under the skin? You can already smell the warm hyacinth and mossy underbrush, can’t you?

Lemony spring chicken: For two people, get a double breast with the bone out but skin on. Flatten it out and lazily pound it into a half-assed paillard with the side of your fist. Give a good pinch of coarse sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to the skin-side, then slide your fingers between the skin and flesh and ease a few slices of lemon in. Skin-side down onto a rippin’ hot grill pan (if it’s hot enough, the chicken will literally squeal when you place it on the pan), and S&P the (non-skin) flesh side. When you get some good grill marks on the skin, flip it, turn off heat, and pop it in a 350-degree oven while your risotto is cooking. When it’s done to the touch- test (learn this trick), rest for five minutes and then slice on the bias, taking care not to tear the skin too much while you slice through the lemon.

Asparagus-pea risotto with mint: YOU MUST USE HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK. That’s just how it goes, sorry. I squoze in an hour to do this, during which time I read funny shit on the internets. You can make time, too, or you will just hafta wait until Saturday to make this. (If you’re very clever, you already have some in your freezer.)

You know how to make risotto. If you don’t, just go ahead and flip open Joy of Cooking to the How To Cook Risotto page. S’cool, I’ll wait. Okay, back? Good. Cut off the woody ends of like 4 or 5 asparagus spears, then dice up the good parts (reserving the tenderest tips). Similarly dice up a handful of snap peas (fresh-shelled peas would also work, but wouldn’t need to be chopped). In your pan, melt a pat of butter and a drizzle of olive oil, and sweat some shallots. When things are smelling pretty good, get going on the rest of it (toss in the arborio rice, stir until the “white dot” appears, splash of chardonnay, ladlesful of stock while tirelessly stirring, stirring, coaxing every molecule of starch out of each motherfucking grain until your hands bleed, etc.). About midway through, add the diced asparagus stems (not the tips, though! these are tender and don’t need that long). Add a few scratches of nutmeg and a fat pinch of lemon zest. After like 5 more minutes (or two ladles) add some fresh thyme, too. Then toss in the asparagus tips and the peas with the last ladle of stock. Salt to taste (my homemade stock is never salted). Top with lots of parm and a chiffonade of mint.

Serve with a chilled Prosecco, which will enhance the citrus notes in the chicken and risotto, and get you buzzed if you polish off two bottles.

Heh, oops, this photo was shot before I added parm! I am such a fucking amateur!

Lemongrass pork lettuce wraps with grilled pineapple

This is a recipe from a few weeks ago, but I wanted to share it today since I haven’t been cooking much on this stupid finger (contrary to last week’s productivity, the finger really doesn’t like to move and bump shit). My wraps are “fresh!” […]