That's right - chocolate! Its not uncommon for me to have cake or pie or cookies for breakfast. This morning it was our fake Nutella - Chococreme. I'm not going to say one is better than the other - they both have their merits. But's I polished off this jar is two days, spread on that loaf of sourdough you see a few posts below. The big merit from Chococreme...a high ball glass!
Tyler whipped up a lasagna last night and it was one of the best I've had in a long, long time. Here's the thing - lasagna is looked down upon as a gloppy, stomach stuffer and not a tasty, interesting dish. There was nothing special in this, in fact, Tyler didn't have enough sauce. But he did include Applegate pepperoni that was cooked to crisp and some ground turkey. The sauce was mostly our imported Italian tomato sauce which is so tomato-ey, not tinney like most canned toms. But what really made this was the cheese that he grated on top which crisped. Interesting textures, interesting flavors and hearty as hell! That's what lasagna should be all about. We're paying much more attention to textures and it makes a world of difference. BTW, we served it with an arugula salad with beets.
Yesterday I taught a Basic Thai cooking class at the store for a sold out crowd. Basic is as far as I can take it. I love eating Thai, but I can only prepare the basics, so we did!
We started with a Thai Limeade sweetened with palm sugar. Then for appetizers we had salad rolls (spring rolls) followed by a Tom Ka Gai, which was a recipe found on eGullet and was outstanding - as good as anything I've had at restaurants. The usual suspect - Pad Thai was another hit, and then just to prove how fast, easy and inexpensive Thai food can be I cranked out a tofu Masaman Curry in six minutes! Dessert was sticky rice with mango sweetened with agave nectar.
After letting my juniper berry sourdough starter go dormant for six months, I brought her back to life and created this loaf: Perfect texture in and out. Not as sour as it was six months ago, but still a beautiful loaf of bread.
I've been having the urge to step back and do some basic baking instead of the experimental stuff. So here are some croissants and pain au chocolate that I made this morning. They turned out pretty good. I've found that most people underbake them, and here in town only one other place is making them from scratch. Oddly enough, no one bought them at the store, but I think that has more to do with people not thinking of us as a bakery. I hope folks will give them a try so they can see the difference between these and the underbaked, out of a box variety.
We got a great deal on wild Pacific salmon at the store this weekend, so we grilled the whole fillet on a cedar plank (from our store) encrusted with coriander, Maldon sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and a hint of cumin. (Click on this picture to see how beautiful those spices were!) Served with saffron, pimiento rice and a warmed corn tortilla from our local tortilla factory. A great meal downed with a Killian's Red beer.
Each semester Tyler trapses off to Indiana for an intensive seminary course. These visits last a few weeks, and it happens to be coming very soon. In anticipation, I start developing a list of all of the desserts that I want to make - I don't have anything better to do! This is also a good time for our friends and neighbors since I can't eat it all myself. So, I'm taking orders and requests now!
Tyler wormed his way into my breakfast this morning - and he claims he doens't like sweets. For me a morning isn't complete with a sugar shock to my diabetes resistance cells. So this morning I had french toast using the goose eggs from my birthday (thanks Karen Carr and Ralph Gauer), topped with slivered almonds from the store and a good glug of syrup from the Chocolate Doctor. She brought me this syrup back in January and we just hadn't made anything that needed syrup before now. Truth be told I had take a few swigs straight from the jar - I love good syrup. This is a really special Canadian syrup that was fresh when she bought it.
Now that I know people are actually reading this blog (who knew?), here's a quick tip. If you click on any picture, you'll get a larger version. I always take close ups of my food because the details are what's important. Also, for expanded pictures of just my desserts, you can always go to my flicker page. And of course, if you go to eGullet, that's where all of my deep dark secrets are kept.
Many people swear by Cooks Illustrated. I have mixed feelings, however. I've found their recipes to be successful but not always rights (more on that in a second), and their product reviews to be be driven by availability moreso than true objectivity.
Yesterday I had a catering gig where I provided scones and brownies. For the scones I used the CI "can't miss" recipe for blueberry scones. They tasted fine but everyone agreed that they were coffee cake and not scones. Traditionally scones are dry. My usual version is a bit moist but still that biscuit/dry texture. These were light and fluffy - not a scone! If I wanted a coffee cake I would have made one! The one technique that I picked up from the recipe, however, was to freeze your butter, then grate it into curls. When those mix into your batter they will form little butter pockets (and of course air pockets) when they melt. This is also part of the reason for the coffee cake texture. I'm sure I'll incorporate that technique in other non-scone recipes in the future. And as always - I sprinkled turbinado on top - its a must!
It seems like we're having to make a lot of fast and easy meals these days. Last night we made pizzas on our Greek pitas from the store. They are the same pitas that our cafe uses. We made two mini pizzas each: 1) sun-dried tomato (Tukas brand) with mozz, roasted peanut oil base (LeBlanc) and sauteed musrhooms; 2) Fresh ricotta sheets, lots of pepperoni (Applegate); 3) Mushrooms, marinara, ricotta shavings, black olives...and whatever else we had. Washed down with some red wine and a really bad Friday night movie (11 Men out)...it was a great start to the weekend.
Many of you will remember that Kerry Beal, The Chocolate Doctor, visited Silver City back in January to conduct a chocolate making workshop. When she visited our home for a quick lunch of Don Juan's burritos (she fell in love with the Chicharron burrito), she revealed one of my great secrets - I have hardly any cookbooks. So she's been on a quest to improve my collection. Her first box was eaten by the US Postal Service. This second box made it just fine.
Tonight we're having our second meal with the locally raised goat - steaks with mustard brandy glaze. Its very windy today (and will be for a month or so) so it took forever to get the fire going. Neither of us is a good meat cook so if someone wants to hurry over before I burn these steaks...
You've seen them a gazillion times before from us. Look, we work long hours and even though we own a gourmet store, a few nights a week we just don't have time to prep a fancy meal. So we do our best. That often means a spruced up off the shelf product. Tonight it was gnocchetti with morels, button mushrooms, onion, garlic, and a bit of tomato paste. The morels are from the store, as are the gnocchetti. The morels actually come from our friends the Liedichs who have a son and daughter in law in South America. Each visit, the Liedichs are sent back with a duffel bag full of these morels, and we sell them at a super bargain in the store.
Normally Tyler plans the meals and I close the store. Its a fairly fair deal for both of us. But every now and then I plan the meals which means Tyler needs to figure out which ingredients I forgot to put on the shopping list. This first meal was only missing one - our super Italian tomato sauce - Ricossa. We used it in a dipping sauce to got with our fiery oven roasted potatoes, and berbere cod sweetened with palm sugar. I dubbed this the "orange meal."
For us a sign of summer's arrival is when we switch our diets over to caprese and nicoise salads. It was warm this weekend so we picked up a can of our favorite tuna (nothing like that nasty Starkist stuff), and loaded on the good stuff from our fridge. We had some dry cured Moraccan olives, garlic stuffed olives, the French mini pickles from the store, sheets of Ricotta Fresca, and much more. It was possibly the best nicoise that we've ever made.
For our birthdays, we went to Shevek & Mi which is our 'most likely to be a hit' restaurant in town. Tyler asked the chef to prepare a five course menu which ended up lasting four hours (amazing for Silver City). We shared the meal with friends Carl & Damie (it was her birthday too), and Mike and Cathy (it was her birthday as well).
No pics, but here's what we had: Started with champagne (nothing notable, but a good starting point) with black olive spread and fried feta in grape leaves.
Next was Cabrales with warmed blood oranges (outstanding), and a dish called something like Menneman which included a poached egg, tomatoes, green pepper and served on pita. It was fiery hot. This was served with a 2006 Martinsancho Ruedo Verdejo. This was a very interesting and enjoyable wine, and very well paired.
Three soups were then brought out: Shrimp tomato bisque (off his menu), raspberry zin (also from the menu), and a creme de crezee which we affectionately called crazy soup. That was the hit, containing carrot and water cress.
Moroccan shrimp on cous cous with Herbe de Provence apple crepes, served with harissa creme fraiche. Paired with a Nabito 07 Marlborough Savignon Blanc.
Finally, veal scallopini mozzarella and blood orange chicken served with Nero Diavola Scilian 2005 Vendennia.
Desserts were unnotable.
Overall one of the best meals I've had at Shevek and well worth each of the four hours in his newly decorated space.
Apparently we are now that we've added a counter the blog. I assumed that only a couple of our friends were reading this, but apparently not. Thanks to our readers, and always feel free to post comments, questions, or just "hey"s.
We had our first meal of goat from the goats that we bought from the Gila Hot Springs Ranch. This was my first time meeting my food, thanking it for its life and sending it to slaughter. A wonderful experience (for me anyway), and it resulted in a wonderful meal. Leg Roast.
Did you see the cake I made myself (and Tyler) for our birthdays over on my Flickr page. Well, here it is. It turned out great. A base of burnt cinnamon dacquoise with a hint of Madras curry, two layers of chocolate genoise brushed with rum syrup, layered with mango mousse (Italian meringue style), coated in a 64% chocolate mirror glaze with chocolate decorations. Happy birthday to us!
We joke that we never repeat a recipe. I'm not sure if that's 100% true, but its not far from the truth. The fact is that its so easy to take some base knowledge and switch up the ingredients that you really don't need to repeat. And more importantly, we just don't have the time to spend hours in the kitchen. So, here are some more quick and easy dinners.
First, gnocchi with grilled brussel sprout halves, pancetta and parma ribbons.
Next, is a leek and squash tagine with salmon. I heated up the tagine bottom, added salmon that was rubbed in palm sugar with a hint of tumeric, then I shut the lid and let it sit for a few minutes. I removed the fish, added the squash and leek and put the lid on again. Served topped with ricotta fesca cubes. This was an excellent meal.
And last is chicken rubbed with pomegranate molasses, red potatoes and onion. Not the prettiest, but it was very good. We enjoyed this topped with some pomegranate molasses coated walnuts that a friend gave us which were outstanding.