04 November 2010

Updates and Commentary

It seems like this blog has become "The Blog That Almost Was." I haven't had my heart in contributing to it for awhile.  First of all, it was never my intention to become a recipe blogger.  That's just my way of cheating, because I haven't had the time to invest in any content other than the easy, 'I'm making this' stuff.  Enough.

So, If there is anything referenced to in this blog and you are seeking a recipe, post it in the comments and I will provide one.  That's not to say there won't be any recipes at all.  It's just no longer going to be the focus.  I'm giving this thing another chance with myself, and have to decided to do some different things, as originally intended.  Musings and Mutterings.  Oh yeah, I remember now...

Maybe we'll keep this thing alive a bit longer.

I appeal to you, faithful readers (all one or two of you), that part of what will help keep this going, will be you.  Without comments, I can't be sure I'm not completely wasting my time.  So post away.

Some things to look forward to:

Reviews.

I'm of two minds when it comes to writing reviews.  First of all, I come from the school of not saying anything at all, if it is less than nice.  At least, professionally.  I'm working on overcoming that.  The flip side is, I refuse to gush about everything the way some other sites do.  For example, one of my favourite points of reference gives rave reviews to every food cart on the street.  And in Portland, that's a lot of carts.  As a result, I have been lead awry, a few times too many.  I appreciate this in the ethical sense, but I'd rather have a more accurate point of referral. I, however won't be dishing out insults, and if you don't see a review of something that you're curious about; it either sucked or I haven't tried it.  You can always hit me with requests as well.

Better pictures, but perhaps less of them.

I now have a better camera on my iPhone 4 than I did on the previous models. When I take a picture it will be more appealing to look at; and there will be less of them because I will quickly become annoyed with it otherwise.

Trends, fashions, and theologies.

The cultural aspects of eating and imbibing are a passion of mine.  So, I write about it.

And now, a photo essay...


Really enjoying a lot of raw foods lately, like this Zucchini Salad...

And, some not so raw foods.  It's Fall, you know.

Chili Two ways...



 White Bean Chile, made with Farmers' Market fresh Hatch chilies.  Now grown in Hillsboro!

Start with fresh, local beef...


cook up some peppers (seven different types)!

Purée


Simmer for several hours


Texas Style goodness.

Add Sharp Cheddar and Scallions to serve.  Great with Tortillas, Skillet Cornbread, and Fritos!  I'll eat it every which way...



01 August 2010

03 February 2010

Grilled Asiago Panino with Tomato, Arugula, and Pig Jam

This is the ultimate Sunday lunch.  It's cold outside, but the sun is coming in through the window.  Stay in your pajamas all day, make this sandwich, and kick back to Coltrane's "Kulu Sé Mama".  Don't forget the Peroni.

Method


some good bread  (I use slab bread or a ciabatta)
Asiago Fresco  (a young, soft variety), grated
pig jam
arugula
fresh Tomato slices
olive oil
sea salt

It helps to place the cheese in the freezer for an hour prior to grating. Warm a skillet over medium high heat.  Brush outsides of bread lightly with olive oil.  Layer cheese over arugula on one side and spread pig jam on the other.  Grill sandwiches using a panino press or other heavy object (a brick or second cast iron pan works well).  After you have finished grilling, turning once, carefully open the sandwich and lay in the tomato slices, sprinkling with a touch of sea salt.  Open a beer, and serve.

Recipe for Bacon Jam or as I now say,


Pig Jam!      ...Umami personified.
Adapted from Not Quite Nigella Source: yumsugar



1 lb good quality thick cut bacon (uncured)
1 large onion, sliced thinly
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. dark brown sugar
2 T. Sriracha sauce
1 C. coffee
1/4 C. apple cider vinegar
1/4 C. maple syrup (grade A dark amber)
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 t. hot smoked Spanish paprika (NOT sweet)
1 T. red wine vinegar

In a large, heavy pot, cook bacon in batches over medium high heat until it is lightly browned and beginning to crisp.  Set aside.  Add onion and garlic to fat and cook until translucent and beginning to caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, slice the bacon into 1" strips, crosswise.  Return bacon to pan and add the brown sugar, coffee, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer over the lowest heat possible (maintaining a simmer), for 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally.  Jam will turn very dark and should be quite thick.  Cool for 20 or 30 minutes and place in a food processor. Chop using the pulse button until blended to liking.  Return to pot, cover and refrigerate over night.  Return pot to stove and scrape off most of the fat from top.  Add black pepper to taste, smoked paprika, and red wine vinegar.  Heat over low heat for 45 minutes until almost all of the liquid is evaporated.  If desired, place in a stainer over a glass bowl to drain any excess fat and allow to cool, Keep stored in refrigerator in a glass container.

Repeat as necessary.

01 February 2010

Roast Beef with Beet Relish

The Sandwich, while being an expression of one's creativity, is also an art in subtlety.  You will not see any 'Dagwoods' in this blog.  I give very careful thought to the combinations I use.  Of course, everyone's different, and that is the beauty of it.  Here, I will express some favourites, and you can do what you will.

Most importantly to me, is the quality of ingredients.  I prefer to make all of my own condiments, roast my own meats, and when in summer, grow my own greens.  However, I'm not much of a baker, so I seek out artisan breads in my local area.

In this, and the recipes to come, I will list recipes for the ingredients, as well as the end result.

This creation was inspired by a roast beef sandwich I had at Bunk.  It was amazing.  This is not a copy.  I just felt it only fair to credit them. It's where the idea took root.

Roast Beasty with Beet Relish and Field Greens on Slab Bread


Roast Beef
Beet Relish
Sharp White Cheddar
Field Greens
Garlic Mayonnaise

In Portland, there is an amazing bakery named Little T's.  Their version of slab bread is the best I've found.  Slab Bread is really an authentic Focaccia. If slab bread is not available, substitute a Kaiser Roll or whatever you fancy. I prefer their Sea Salt slab over the Herbed.


Methods


Roast Beef 


3.5 lb beef eye round roast, tied.
about 6 garlic cloves, 4 minced and 2 sliced thin
2 T. olive oil
2 T. cracked black peppercorns
1.5 T. course salt (Kosher)
1 t. chopped fresh rosemary
.5 t. of chopped fresh oregano and thyme
2 T. soy sauce

Combine the minced garlic and next 7 ingredients in a blender and process to a paste.  Cut several incisions in the beef and stuff each with a garlic slice.  Place roast on a rack and rub all over with the paste. Allow to rest, at room temperature, for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 F.  Place roast in oven and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until browning.  Reduce heat to 350 F and cook until an inserted thermometer reads 120 F.  Times will vary, depending on your oven. The roast should then rest on carving board for 10 minutes before slicing.  The internal temperature should also rise to about 125 F during this time.  Slice very thinly.  Try not to eat too much of it now, you'll need some for your sandwich.

However, as a side note:


This makes an excellent dinner the day before your sandwich.  It makes perfect sense to whip up a good Risotto while the roast cooks...

Beet Relish


One bunch (3) medium sized beets
1/2 cup olive oil
3 T. Balsamic vinegar
1 t. course salt
fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
1/3 cup cream style horseradish

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Roast beets in foil for 1.5 hours.
allow to cool, peel and dice.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Stir in the onion and beets.  Stir in the horseradish and refrigerate for up to 4 or 5 days.

Garlic Mayonnaise


While it is true, I do NOT like mayonnaise, I am learning to overcome it in creative ways.  Essentially Aioli, homemade mayonnaise is far different from purchased.  You can also 'fortify' it any way you like.  This is necessary for me to conquer my personal distaste for it.  In this occasion, garlic is the answer.  I will often make a batch plain, then separate it into smaller batches. One could be garlic, while another could be horseradish, while yet another Sriracha.  There are endless ways to change it.  Most importantly, use the correct oil.  After a couple of botched attempts, I finally got it right.  Then, Cook's Illustrated sent out an issue that confirmed my genius.  So, I give them thanks-  For the reinforcement of my already inflated ego.

This mayonnaise will keep for a month in the refrigerator.

1 lrg egg yolk (or whites from two eggs)
1 1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
1 t. white wine vinegar
1/4 t. Dijon mustard (can be omitted)
1/2 t. salt
3/4 C. Crisco Natural Blend vegetable oil
2 cloves minced garlic, if desired

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, save the oil.  Add  1/4 C. of oil, in scant 1/4t. increments, all the while whisking.  Then, continue to add remaining 1/2 cup of oil, in a slow stream.  It should take 3 to 4 minutes to add the oil.  Alternatively, I often do this in my food processor on a relatively slow speed.

Assemble


Cut slab in half and spread beet relish on bottom of bread.  Top with field greens, then meat then lightly shave some sharp cheddar on top. Spread a small amount of mayonnaise on top slice and close.

Delicious.

31 January 2010

The Way of The Sandwich, Part I of I.

   sandwich |ˈsan(d)wɪdʒ| |-wɪtʃ|
    noun    an item of food consisting of two pieces of bread with meat, cheese, or other filling between themeaten as a light meal a ham sandwich.• something that is constructed like or has the form of a sandwich.-New Oxford American Dictionary
A rather prosaic definition, at best.  
If the sandwich were such a droll, plebeian repast, then I ask you; how do you explain the passion in which cultures the world over share of this nearly immaculate food?  I do not in any way intend to discredit anyone's taste here, however, if your idea of a sandwich is what you read above, than you are either about to become enlightened, or you should have already closed this page.
The sandwich is at once; a cultural statement, an expression of one's inner character, and if I may, an evaluation of one's approach to life.  
It is also comfort.  You know, that rather fleeting emotion that seems to only fade further and further in our modern times.
I remember quite well, sitting in my grandma's kitchen, colouring, or petting her cat Boots, while she would make me a tuna salad sandwich.  Or the bean spread and sprouts sandwiches that my mom would send with me to school, completely innocent of flavour, though I would vehemently defend them against my teasing friends; all the while envious of their Oscar Mayer bologna with american cheese on Wonderbread. And let me not disclude the time my dad first made me his secret sandwich, comprised of peanut butter and mayonnaise with banana. Sorry dad, it was revolutionary at the time, I admit, but it is also the reason I have had a completely cringe-inducing aversion to mayonnaise since I was 15.
Naturally, my ideas of all these sandwiches have changed over the years, but they are all cherished memories that bring me comfort.
There is much more that I could convey here about the sandwich as an expression of the existential  nature of Human Kind but instead, let's just make some sandwiches.


20 January 2010

Sandwiches! or, The New Super Food.

Okay, I know.  It's been a long time.

Let me just say I enjoyed all of the bean recipes I never posted.  No further explanation.  They were great, and I am sure some of them will find their way in to this blog at some point.  Moving on...

The downside of living in Portland, (and a reason I've often fantasized of leaving again), has always been a complete, or nearly so, lack of a decent sandwich.  There of course, have been long standing exceptions, such as the Gyro at The Greek Deli on SE Burnside, The New York Style Pastrami at Neumann's German Bakery on NE Sandy, and a few others. However, were it not for the plethora of great Taqueria's in town, lunch would be out.

Until recently.

Now, we have Kenny and Zuke's (two locations!), Bunk, Petisco, and the ever beloved, and personal favourite of yours truly, The Laurelhurst Market. Furthermore, let us not fail to mention, the absolutely insane amount of lunch carts exploding into courtyards of niche eateries all over Portland's hip neighbourhoods.

With the economy in the toilet, this is simply genius.  Less overhead, better prices, smaller menus, equalling better food.  I love it, and when I'm working, and lack the time to prepare food, I am a regular at many of these locations. The lines can be ridiculous at any of these, so consider yourselves warned and get there with enough time to spare. Or, do what I prefer, and brown bag it.

Disclaimer:

Of course, The Erudite Eater endorses all of the above mentioned.  There will be other references mentioned, as well as inspirational foods mentioned in the coming posts.  What some of these places are doing for their sandwiches is simply earth shattering.  Once again, Portland has headed a trend, coming soon to a city near you.

But I digress.

There are two things that I find well defining in any person.  The ability to accessorize, and the ability to make a proper sandwich.

So, let us begin a new theme.  Perhaps, some of what I have planned will actually get posted here.

Sandwiches! or, The New Superfood.

Until then,

Cheers.

Oh, and a hint:

Bacon Jam.  Yeah, that's right.  I said it.

17 October 2009

Borlotti Beans




There was a time in my life when, in my Hedonistic response to prior poverty, that I rarely ate beans. I even asked they be omitted from my burritos at Taquerias. Ridiculous, I know. But let's be fair. Years of Lentils every day, refried beans on tortillas, and even bean spread sandwiches? It's the same type of aversion one has to Vodka after a blood poisoning bender. Beans were the main ingredient (often the ONLY ingredient) in every day life for so long, they just lost their appeal.

However, I have since rediscovered the bean. When used with the sensibility of a finer palate, (rather than the one that used stolen Taco Bell sauces to vamp up their flavour), beans take an entirely diverse and splendid role in cuisine.

For the next few weeks, I will be focusing my posts on the elegant bean. From hearty stews, to light sandwiches and salads, beans will take a centrifuge role in a series that I have coined:

The Poor Food Movement.

For the first installment, I am sharing a simple recipe that celebrates the bean as a dish unto itself.

Borlotti beans

1 cup dried Borlotti beans
2 oz Pancetta, diced
1 onion, quartered
1 Bay leaf
3 or 4 whole cloves of garlic
7 cups water, or broth of choice
olive oil
sea salt
sprig of rosemary

Soak beans overnight. Rinse and drain and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, cook pancetta until beginning to crisp, and fat is rendered. Add onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add beans, water or broth, Bay leaf, some olive oil, and sea salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about two hours, until beans are tender. During the last 30 minutes, add rosemary. When tender, remove onion, rosemary, and garlic. Mash about 1/3 of the beans and adjust salt to taste.

This is great over Ciabatta toasts, served alone, as a side dish, or when doubled, as a requisite to tomorrow's post, Tuscan Country Bean Soup.