Month: September 2008

Japadog and Guu

Vancouver is to Japanese restaurants as Portland/Seattle is to coffee shops. Which is to say, there is a fuckton of Japanese food here. We sort of knew this; I mean, we knew we couldn’t afford to spend as much time in Japan this fall that […]

Oh Shit, We Are in Canada! Part I: Jade Dynasty

So, sorry I haven’t been around much. I was in the field all last week with no internet (except on my phone, like I’m gonna blog on that thing), and yesterday Scott and I got a wild hair up our asses and came to Vancouver, […]

Scarlet Runner Cassoulettes

I hate to do this (or anything for the sake of doing), but since I said I would post the cassoulettes (mini-cassoulet) from the Scarlet Runner beans I grew (or that I would cook them, actually), here it is. Sorry to give it so unenthusiastically, but it’s late, my head hurts and I’m developing a case of the itis.

This took the better part of a day (two, in fact). Day one: salt the duck legs and fridge overnight. Day two: start soaking the beans in hot water, and confit the duck. Day three: reheat and shred the duck, cook the beans, assemble the cassoulettes.

To get the beans ready, I mostly followed Hank’s advice in the comments section of my original bean post. But since the beans were fresh, they didn’t give me too much lip. And of course, I never salt my bean cooking water (‘else they go tough). The beans were quite nice and tender, and although their color bled a bit, they stayed a pretty lavender-taupe.

There just weren’t enough of them.

I had to supplement with a can of butter beans (Phaseolus lunatus; named for their resemblance to the full moon, chosen for their similarity to runner beans in size and texture). In Appalachia, butter beans are often synonymous with runner beans. Elsewhere, with lima beans. Mine were Italian. You do the math. I already had some in the cupboard, thankfully, because the thought of buying more beans, soaking them, and cooking them for hours made me want to blow my fucking brains out.

I shopped for some little crocks at Goodwill today, but couldn’t find the perfect ones. I ended up using my old vintage Anchor Hocking milk glass flat bowls instead (had I the coveted Le Creuset mini cocottes, I’da used those instead). I lined them with some North Carolina prosciutto (just a couple slices), laid in half a cooked pork sausage and forkfuls of shredded duck confit, then spooned in some beans and topped with a white wine sauce thickened with duck fat roux, with chopped thyme and the roasted garlic and rosemary from confiting the duck.

It was so rich! Hence, my sodium headache and intestinal binding. I ended up serving it with some quick tomato-zucchini strata just to get some damned minerals and acid into my mouth. Of course, a little Bordeaux didn’t hurt, either.

I’m going to be in Washington for the week (vegetation monitoring), and posting will be a bit spotty. I’ll do my best. In the meanwhile, please watch this new video from TV on the Radio (one of my favorite bands EVAR). It is extremely fucking good. This song, Golden Age, starts with a total Wanna Be Startin’ Something bassline/beat from Thriller, then segues seamlessly into a Talking Heads-ish Afrobeat thing that is so tasty. And it has magical dancing cops and Care Bears. Do yourself the favor.

What amounts to a hill of beans

Scarlet runner beans, in varying stages of my impatience Jason is coming over again tonight for Project Runway Night (followed by Top Design), and is gorgeous to be bringing a barbecue chicken pizza from Blind Onion. I’m making some salad of sorts from my garden’s […]

Heirloom pico de gallo

My tomatoes are really coming on good now. I have to go out every day to keep up with them! Otherwise those fucking raccoons will steal them, take a few bites and then leave them there to rot. This is what they’ve been doing to […]

Braised rabbit ravioli with caramelized shallots and chanterelle jus

So, in case you don’t know, I’m on Twitter. I’ve never felt the inclination to be all, “Hey everybody! Tweet me! Tweet me hard.” Nonetheless, some of you good friends of mine have found me. Some of you are even good for a little smack-talk once in awhile.

Enter Peter Minaki (aka Peter the Greek, aka Kalofagas). He’s been my home skillet since Day One, and eventually I think I showed him it’s okay to cuss on a blog. Now you can’t get the motherfucker to shut up. One day in Twittertown, he mentioned some duck he was gonna cook up, and said something about it being duck season. “Wabbit season,” I tweet back.

Then, darlings, it was on.

I challenged Peter to a Wabbit Season versus Duck Season throwdown, hoping (knowing?) it would be the mother of all blog grudge matches. LET’S GET IT ON!

I cut a 3-lb. rabbit into its 4 limbs and saddle, and set the loin aside. After a slow braise with onions and parsley, I set it aside to cool and then pulled and shredded the meat. Mixed with fromage blanc, a splash of Mirabelle plum brandy and the cooked rabbit liver, and pulsed a few times in the food processor to mince. Taste, add salt and pepper, and fry some sage leaves to crumble in. A pan of slivered shallot and cipolline onions was caramelizing on another burner.

While the rabbit was braising, I was turning the carcass, kidneys and liver into an unctuous stock (I added a spoonful of veal demi to hurry it along – is that cheating?). After the meat had been pulled from the limbs, I tossed those bones into the stock pot, too. I thinly sliced my precious handful of store-bought (!) chanterelles on the mandoline and gently laid them into the finished, strained stock to reduce into a rich jus.

I whipped up some pasta dough, kneaded it for ten minutes, and after about a half hour rest, I rolled the pasta out into two thin sheets. I scooped the rabbit filling onto one sheet, egg washed the edges and topped it with another sheet. I used the useless Williams-Sonoma egg-cooking round molds (I got so sick of failing at cooking eggs with these things that I eventually just learned to properly poach an egg so I’d always have perfect sandwich-sized eggs).

To serve, I nestled a warm wad of caramelized onions into a small bowl, topped it with the ravioli, and ladled the piping-hot jus over the top. Enjoy with a nice Brooks 2006 Amycas – a blend of Pinot Gris (21%), Pinot Blanc (37%), Reisling (21%), Gewürztraminer (18%) and Muscat 2%) (which is, admittedly, an extremely sterile wine description. But it was delicious).

So, whaddya think? Do I win? Is Peter’s duck dish better? YOU DECIDE!

Curry popcorn with dried cranberries

Yes, I’m posting popcorn. On a Friday morning. After the harried 5-times-a-week Foodbuzz challenge, I decided to take a wee break after the 10th. I’m still trying to figure out if I can/want to keep up the pace indefinitely. So for today, I show you […]

Lamb berbere with grilled vegetables, jalapeño pesto and smoked tomato orzo

Yes, that is a segment of lamb femur with the marrow sucked out, enjoying its second life as a parsley holder. I love having a little time to just wander around the grocery store, no agenda or list, and just see what looks good and […]

Onigiri is filled with Mother Love

I love onigiri. They’re like Japanese arancini. The first time I had it, I was at my friend Kayoko’s house. She was my first exposure to real Japanese culture (hentai notwithstanding), and she would frequently host informal dinner parties for her friends and Portland International School co-workers. I was one of the few, fortunate gaijin invited to these events. Sometimes, when the fillings for nori-maki would run out, she and her Japanese friends would just use up the remaining sushi rice with spoonfuls of miso, or umeboshi from the jar in her fridge to slap together some onigiri, which would get passed around on a large plate like some kind of umami brownie.

When Scott and I visited Tokyo a year ago, we struggled to adjust to the time change. We’d wake up at around 4:30am Tokyo time, starving and needing caffeine (the hotel didn’t start serving “koh-hee” until like 7:00 or 8:00). Unfortunately, the only thing open that early was the 7-11, which was where we obtained our breakfast every morning. An ice-cold can of Boss cafè au lait and a couple of onigiri triangles from the cold deli case, pull up a curb and eat your breakfast. If it weren’t strange enough to be shorts and flip flops-clad, tattooed white people, add 1) being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at a bird’s hour and 2) eating whilst seated at a curb, which is never done (eating outdoors or while walking is somewhat unusual in Tokyo). Fortunately, the only people up early enough to gawk were the taxi drivers and convenience store clerks, and I’m sure they’ve seen worse.

But those 100 円 (~$1) onigiri were the best! Since I’m illiterate in katakana, it was always a surprise what flavor I was going to get. Sometimes it’d be salmon, sometimes miso, sometimes egg. I loved nibbling through the nori and rice into the interior, and trying to figure out what it was. I tried to make mental notes of what I was tasting, for when we got home.

I make misoyaki quite often – it’s such a simple way to enjoy fish, if you keep a tub of miso in your fridge (and a few other common Japanese ingredients in your cupboard). We always have a little leftover, and once in awhile, I end up with enough to warrant re-use. Usually, I’ll just nuke it and eat it straight from the tupperware, but this time, I used the leftover shiro maguro (albacore) and the genmai (Japanese brown rice) to pat a few onigiri into a meal.

Just flake the fish with a fork and sprinkle with sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. Then take a ball of rice (cold or warm) into wet hands, flatten slightly with your fingertips, and place a spoonful of filling in the center. Put another pinch of rice on top and form into a ball (covering the filling with the rice). Pat it into a slightly flattened triangle (the usual shape, but you can make any shape you want, really). Then wrap a piece of nori around the outside so that the onigiri may be taken from a plate without the rice sticking to your fingers.

I keep a tub of these teriyaki-flavored nori strips in my pantry. I bought them on a whim, but they’re not substantial enough for just snacking. Sometimes I cut them into very thin strips with scissors to sprinkle on rice, but I’ve decided that their true calling is wrapping onigiri. Instead of making triangles, I formed rounded squares and made a criss-cross with the nori strips. These were neat little packages of umami, ready for a light dinner or a bento lunch.

Next time you have some leftover fish (or any other salty food) and rice, why not try your hand at onigiri? Heck, it’s worth cooking rice and fish just to make them. Ittadakimasu!

Fried squash blossoms

Yes, I fucking did it, so get off my back already! Actually, it wasn’t that bad. Contrarily, I might start viewing all foods through the Scottish “these’d be crakin fried” lens now (eh, Kittie?). This will spell ultimate doom for my figure. My muffin tops […]