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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Last week, the news of the day just got to me.

Scandals, graft, partisanship, falsehoods.
Wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes.
Cruelty, abuse.
Tariffs, taxes.
Chaos.

It was just too much. The siege breached my defenses and I fell into a major depression. Dark. Caged. Compressed. Inescapable.

Wait . . . did I say “inescapable?” Scratch that, for I did, indeed, find an escape.

(more…)

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It’s hot out there. Uncomfortably hot. Freaking hot. Evil hot.

Here’s something tasty. Something easy. Something cool.

With a few common (and one not-so-common) ingredients, you can use this easy-as-you-please recipe to create a luscious, sweet/tart/creamy/flowery treat to enjoy in the long, hot evenings.

No-Churn Lemon Ice Cream

Makes 3 cups (which is like one serving here, but you can stretch it out if you’re feeling generous).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater (see Notes)

Procedure

  • In a medium bowl, combine sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice. Stir to incorporate.
  • Add milk, cream, and rosewater and mix until the sugar and salt are dissolved (when you no longer hear a gritty sound as you stir).
  • Pour the mixture into a shallow nonreactive pan; I use an 8×8-inch CorningWare baking dish, but a metal pan will work just as well.
  • Cover with foil, and set in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours. It should be crusty at the edges but still soft in the center. Stir to mix and break up the ice crystals.
  • Return to freezer for another hour and repeat until the mixture is frozen through.
  • Serve and enjoy.

Notes

  • A garnish of chopped almonds works very well with this.
  • The addition of rosewater is technically optional, but I strongly recommend using it here, as it adds a floral top note to the treat that makes a big difference.
  • Rosewater and orange blossom water are staples in my spice cupboard. They’re inexpensive, but versatile, adding a certain je ne sais quoi to dressings, cocktails, desserts, even dishes like steamed vegetable and mashed potatoes. Like lavender is to Provençal cooking, these subtle, fragrant decoctions are essential to traditional Levantine treats, like my baklava.

k

 

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Most everyone knows that I hate single-taskers in the kitchen . . . those items in your utensil drawer or the cupboard that only do one thing. If your kitchen is anything like mine (i.e., galley style layout), you know that I have limited storage space and even greater limits on counter space. So, if I’m going to allow a single-tasker into my kitchen, it has to do an amazing job and it has to take up minimal space. (Example: the Norpro bean slicer; small in size, but an absolute champ at slicing haricot vert lengthwise.)

With that in mind, many of my friends were surprised to hear that, for a holiday present, I had purchased a sous vide cooker. “Sous vide” (pronounced “soo veed,” meaning “under vacuum”) is a cooking technique, long used by professionals, that is now enjoying a resurgence among foodies. (more…)

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On Monday I mentioned that I had gotten myself into a bit of a sticky wicket by offering to run the kitchen while my wife hosted a business retreat. News that we’d have both gluten-free and vegan dietary restrictions gave me serious agita, as I am not well-schooled in cooking for non-meat-based diets.

With a little research and some creative thinking, though, I managed to pull it off. Cooking double-purpose menus meant that I overdid it a little on the quantities, but hey, leftovers, right? (more…)

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We have houseguests staying with us this week, which naturally reminded me of the time my girlfriend’s parents came to dinner.

Let me ‘splain.

As part of her new business, my wife is hosting a retreat for some of her colleagues. They are staying with us for the week, during which they’ll all confab and meditate and plan and strategize and bond as a team.

Since my direct involvement is neither required nor particularly useful, I offered to do two things:

  1. Do the cooking and washing up.
  2. Otherwise stay out of the way.

Regular readers know that I am an unabashed omnivore; my recipes are almost always omnivorous or “omnivore adjacent.” Knowing that, you can imagine my reaction when, after planning menus and making shopping lists, I learned that one of our guests is gluten-free and another is vegan:

DON’T PANIC

(more…)

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I learned to cook from my father. He thought there was one temperature setting: Volcanic. He cooked everything fast and hard. “Braise” was not part of his vocabulary.

It took me a long time to unlearn that — burning through too many pieces of non-stick cookware was part of that re-education — but now I thoroughly appreciate the value of the entire heat spectrum. While the sear and the char are still part of my cooking toolbox, I am now quite familiar with the simmer, poach, braise, and other “go easy” settings.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is a perfect example of “go easy” cooking. A few simple ingredients combined with proper (low) heat make for a lovely, light entree. I use capellini (angel hair) as opposed to the traditional spaghetti because I think it lends itself better to the thin, light sauce. (more…)

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Despite its many advocates, I loathe brie.

Even so, every year or two, when the opportunity presents itself, I give it another try just to see if, somehow, my taste buds have changed and I now agree with the world at large.

To date, I still don’t like brie.

I was reminded of this today when discussing the relative value of spending $500 on a meal for two in a Michelin star restaurant.

My position was that, a few times in a life, it’s worth it.

My opponent took the position that, like getting kicked in the gonads, it’s not. His opinion was that, beyond a certain high-dollar threshold, you’re just showing off. In addition, he informed me that my statement was flatly false, as he’d had a few high-end meals during his life and, in each case, it was never worth the money.

He did not realize that he had just proved my point.

You see, if he had not experienced those few very expensive meals, he’d have had no basis on which to form an opinion (other than his own preconceived notions). This is the essence of prejudice: to condemn a priori a book you’ve never read, a movie you’ve never seen, a meal you’ve never tasted, a person you’ve never met.

For my part, I’ve had three very expensive meals in my life.

The least enjoyable was at Morton’s, a high-end steak house here in Seattle. The most enjoyable was a fantastic meal with a great family of friends at Canlis (also here in Seattle). The most memorable was at the restaurant in the World Trade Club, located (when the WTC was still a thing) in the Ferry Building along San Francisco’s Embarcadero.

Were these meals worth the price these high-end restaurants charged? I mean, was the food, the preparation, the presentation, the service, and the atmosphere all worth the money paid?

No (though Canlis came damned close).

Were the experiences worth the price? Meaning, was the meal plus the company, the occasion, the conversation, and the memories gained worth the price?

Without question: Yes.

As a result of each experience, I gained something. After each meal, I knew more about what to expect from high-end dining. I had new anecdotes with which I could entertain, edify, inform. Most importantly, I now have real-life data on which to build an informed opinion. Just as, years ago, I gained first-hand knowledge that allows me to judge whether something is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, I now have first-hand knowledge of fancy-schmancy dining.

Would I spend that kind of money regularly? Fat chance.

Would I spend that kind of money on a meal in the future? Count on it.

Just as with my ongoing litigation of Brie vs. My Taste Buds, I think some experiences are worth the indulgence a few times in our lives. For me, I like to see exactly what all the shouting is about so that I might determine for myself whether or not I agree with the world at large.

Aside from the thing paid for, there’s the experience of the thing.

That is where I find value.

k

PS. Full disclosure: I was a guest at both Canlis and the WTC, and had a gift card that covered part of the bill for Morton’s. (I’m a fairly tight-fisted old fart.) I did, however, see the menus, and was aware of how much the meals cost.

 

 

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