Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chorizo Potato Soup

I made this dish for a soup party last weekend and was having such a good time, that I forgot to photograph it. Out of 12 competing soups, it took second place. Though it didn't win the prized bottle of Pinot, it warmed our insides and made us smile.

- 5 large potatoes, any variety
- 1 (3- to 4-ounce) link of Spanish chorizo (or bacon)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 6 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 lemon (freshly squeezed juice)
- 1 tsp Hunan red chili sauce (or any hot sauce, chili pepper flakes, etc)
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- sour cream to garnish (1 tbs for each portion)

1. Wash and scrub potatoes well and knick out eyes and dark spots. Do not peel. Dice into cubes and place with chicken stock in a heavy 3 quart saucepan. Cover and cook at medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook covered until potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 25-30 minutes.
2. Saute onions with olive oil in large saucepan until tender and caramelized. Add garlic and saute until it browns. Add milk and cream. Cook mixture over medium heat until near boiling.
3. Saute chorizo in separate pan with olive oil until it takes on a golden brown hue.
4. Add chorizo, onions, and milk to potato saucepan. Add 1 tsp hunan chili sauce and lemon juice to soup. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes.
5. Before serving, garnish individual portions with a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle 2-3 tsp or desired amount of Chorizo salt atop sour cream.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Olympia oysters, otra vez

Oysters, oOh, yes. Oyster Bill and his penny-size Olympia's take center stage again. We went through 2 dozen of these briny bad boys, and were still drooling for more.

We tried a trio with our Bloody Mary salt for kicks only to affirm what I thought'd be the outcome: oysters as fresh as Taylor Shellfish are best left nude. Though a smidge of lemon pulp adds a citrusy tang, there's no reason to ruin a perfect oyster before it goes down the shute.

Infusing flavors into raw oysters may be more of a trend than not. Last time I shot some olympias at 'Anchovies and Olives' , they too were dressed, but with raw ginger.

Pie photo play-day-away

When my sweet tooth is bigger than my salty tongue, I saunter on over to Deborah (of Deborah's Pies) at the Ballard Farmers Market. She's just as sweet as her Bumble Berry pies that weigh in at 2.9lbs.

Filled with just enough juicy raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, it'll take your sweet tooth for a ride until you can snatch another on Sunday. If you can't stomach a 3-pounder, she sells them by the slice and can be reached for pre-orders at 206-542-1860.
Inspired by the berry, we're currently working on a new salt.... to the tune of Cherry.

Red Quinoa Breakfast

Skipping breakfast ought to be a sin. I never step foot out-the-door without fueling my tank to drive my day.

When I was young, breakfast was Lucky Charms or packaged, processed pastries. I blame none other than myself in a pantry-filled kitchen, stocked to the brim with far healthier, satisfying choices. Shame on me too for having a mother who was a dietitian. I deserve a slap and spanking for that.

Red Quinoa, tomato-cucumber Kick-Egg start w/Nicoise Olive salt

1. Rinse a 1/4 cup of quinoa thoroughly and drain. Add 1 cup of water to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer until all the water has evaporated.
3. Heat another saute pan, gently cracking 1-2 eggs in pan. Watch closely so that the yellow yolk does not get hard, though this is dependent upon your preference. The longer you cook an egg, the harder the yellow yolk will be, and the crispier the white will become. Cooking the egg less will give you a runnier yolk, allowing more flavor to disperse and break atop the quinoa.
4. Slice cucumbers and tomatoes to desired amount and degree of thinness.
5. Garnish with Nicoise Olive salt.

Beets marry Vanilla salt

It is nearly impossible to satiate my craving for beets. From soups to roasted chunks, they are like a bad habit I cannot kick. I attribute this to my love of dirt. I can only guess that such a fondness for the smell of dusty, earthy dirt must have come from my father's love of gardening.
Though I hated planting heaps of flowers and moving ridiculously heavy pots under the hot California sun, I was secretly enamored by the whiff of a new bag of dirt, and just as captivated by the packed soil that nourished a previous seed.
Like soil and clay, a wine that says "dirt-packed barnyard" sends a signal to my brain, clicking the "on" button. Call me a filthy chiquilla, but a terroir-driven Cab Franc from the Loire valley makes me happy as a clam. It's the dirt.
Roasted Beet recipe:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Wash 5-6 large beets, trimming the stems. Cut beets into large chunks, cutting off skins.
2. Place chunky beets on a sheet pan with tin foil, and coat beets with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until tender (when pierced with a fork).
3. Remove from oven and let cool. Once beets are room temperature, toss again with extra virgin olive oil.*
4. Sprinkle Vanilla salt to finish for a dirty, salty, sweet bouquet.

* I coated my beets with an almond oil that was gifted to me (in above trio photo). Tourangelle stocks beautifully-flavored, aromatic French oils. Flavors run the gamut, from Pistachio to Avocado to Grapeseed to Sunflower, and even Pumpkin Seed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Salty Nuts

In need of an app to bring to a party? A quick snack to take to a flick? Roasted almonds with Lavender Rosemary salt is my go-to, get-together-dish regardless of the occasion. It's simple, easy, cheap, and always a hit.

And even better is that it pairs with bubbly, beer, or a glass of wine. At the theatre.

Roasted Almonds* Recipe:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Unleash raw almonds onto baking sheet, and generously coast with olive oil.
3. Place sheet in oven and roast for 22-25 minutes, turning occasionally until they are a dark, golden brown.
4. Take out of oven, and sprinkle nuts with Lavender Rosemary salt* while still hot.

* Pecans and walnuts are great substitutes.
** Almond Cardamom salt works equally as well.