Monday, June 30, 2008


Don't you think that George Carlin would have had fun with the kitchen term "Spatchcocking"?
This sounds like some kind of kinky bondage or S&M practice. In reality it is a way of removing the spine of the whole chicken so you can butterfly it for cooking.
I had a Free Range Chicken I had picked up at the store and I wanted to do something different than make my World Famous Guantanamo Chicken.
A handy pair of kitchen shears and even I look like I spent time in a M*A*S*H unit with the precision of this cut.
A quick marinade of lemon, olive oil, rosemary, some garlic, salt+pepper and I was ready to bag the chicken for a day before cooking it on the grill. Resealable freezer bags are great, though I usually use a couple of produce bags from the store. They are sturdy and I feel better recycling them.

I fired up the Weber Grill with some hardwood charcoal and did a pretty wide spread on the coals, but still left a portion of the grill empty so the temperature was medium-hot. Usually cooking a chicken this size takes about 60 minutes or so. This bird was done in about 35 minutes. I would suggest starting cooking with the breast side up and cooking for about 10 minutes. Flip the bird over and go for another 10 minutes with the skin side down and then access where you are at that point. Depending on your flame you may need some more direct cooking, if not set the bird over the portion of the grill that is not directly over a flame.

The real hero of this meal with the Grilled Cole Slaw I did as a side. I had seen the recipe in the July issue of Bon Appetit. I liked the grilling aspect of the cabbage, but I tweaked the dressing. The cabbage gets warm and the dressing is a perfect sweet/sour accompaniment. So a tip of the hat to Bon Appetit for the inspiration and a small pat on the back to me for the imagination.

Grilled Cole Slaw
1/2 Head Green Cabbage (quartered)
1/2 Head Red Cabbage (quartered)
1/2 Red Onion-as thin as you can slice it
1 bunch Scallions

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Sherry Wine Vinegar
1/3 cup Sugar
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard

Brush the cabbage with some olive oil and place on the grill. Grill both flat sides for about 4 minutes each. Add the scallions and cook for about 1-2 minutes per side (just get some color). Note: Since the red onion was my addition, I decided to throw it in raw. Rough chop the scallions and thinly slice the cabbage after it has cooled slightly.
For the dressing go ahead and throw everything into a Mason jar, seal and shake to blend.

Grilled Cole Slaw
Any prettier and this would be this could be in a Rockwell painting. Bon Appetit'

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Synergy (Apricot - Blueberry Crumble with Ginger Ice Cream)

Apricot-Blueberry Crumble with Ginger Ice Cream
When I saw the ingredients list for this months Royal Foodie Joust I knew immediately what I wanted to make. I have been putting together fruit Crisps and Crumbles for years and one of my all time favorites is the Apricot-Blueberry one. We are fortunate that we live in Oregon because of all the great berries (raspberries, strawberries, marionberries, blackberries, etc.) that are grown locally.
While I like fresh fruit, I think that when apricots and blueberries are cooked their flavors are actually enhanced. The apricot takes on a smoother texture and the blueberry adds a fresh acidity that provides balance. With this dessert the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I think that is called Synergy.

Since it was over 100 degrees yesterday (rare in Portland) it gave me a bit of a push to pull out my ice cream maker. When I was a kid we used to have to take turns cranking the ice cream freezer. As you can see a little technology has eliminated the need to conscript children into the process. While this does take some of the romance out of ice cream making, it leaves in all of the flavor.

Apricot+Blueberry = Awesome
Apricot - Blueberry Crumble
1 lb. Apricots-pitted and quartered
1 cup Blueberries
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or you can use a 1Tbsp. of dark rum in a pinch)

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup of flour
3/4 cup brown Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 lb. butter (one stick)


For the fruit go ahead and combine all the dry ingredients into a bowl, mix and then toss with the fruit and the vanilla extract. The fruit can sit in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours to let the apricots and blueberries to macerate.
For the topping go ahead and add all the dry ingredients into a food processor and give a quick 2 second pulse. Add the butter in chunks (6-7 slightly softened chunks) and pulse for a second or two. Just barely incorporate the ingredients. The mixture should look like sawdust when it is done. This topping recipe will provide enough mixture for multiple crumble desserts. You can make a large batch and keep it in an airtight container in the freezer for when you need to throw together a quick dessert.

When you are ready to cook the crumble go ahead and put the fruit into a ramekin and top with the crumble mixture. Place the crumble into a 325 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. When done, pull and cool on the stove top for 10 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of the Ginger Ice Cream (recipe below)

This topping looks like sawdust....don't you think?
Ginger Ice Cream

4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coarsely grated peeled fresh
ginger root ( I go ahead and chop this to a fine mince)
2 tablespoons water
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl lightly whisk yolks. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook sugar, fresh
ginger root, and water over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Add hot half-and-half mixture to yolks in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into pan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not let boil.)
Pour custard through a sieve into cleaned bowl and stir in cream and vanilla. Cool custard. Chill custard, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.

Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Red Burgundy = Pinot Noir

Coat of arms of the second Duchy of Burgundy and later of the French province of Burgundy
I have been writing about food so much that I almost forgot that this blog started out being more focused on wine. This past Sunday the Confrérie des Vignerons de Saint-Vincent de Mâcon (formal wine group to which I belong) held their June event at Burdigala in the Sellwood neighborhood in Portland. Tastings in this group are set up around a theme and this month it was Red Burgundy. Actually to get specific it was old, really good, Red Burgundy.
In Layman's terms Red Burgundy = Pinot Noir grown in the Burgundy region of France. The French City of Beaune is to Pinot Noir what the Vatican is to Catholicism. I will confess that even with what I consider to be a broad wine knowledge my understanding of the Burgundy region of France is sketchy at best. For more than 10 centuries the Burgundy region was under the powerful control of Benedictine and Cistercian monks. Through painstaking labor they cleared and planted much of the exceptional vineyard sites that today produce some of the most primal and haunting wines in the world. The monks kept meticulous records and made notes regarding soil type, sun exposure, what grapes produced well under what conditions. My own theory is that since these guys were literate (not that common in the middle ages) and they weren't getting laid, they had a lot of energy to channel. Ultimately, their pain has been our gain.
After the French Revolution, much of the church holdings were sold to private parties

The bitch of these wines is that Pinot Noir is a harsh mistress. While she can deliver a wine you will never forget,
she is notorious for being inconsistent from vintage to vintage and even from bottle to bottle. Many wine experts (lets use the lay term "geeks") will tell you that much time and money has been wasted on chasing this wine "Holy Grail". Producers are generally the best indicator or quality as is the vintage. Do however keep in mind that a spectacular, mind blowing wine one night may turn into something weak and insipid if you opened it the next night.
Pinot Noir is a fast ripening grape that need cooler weather to ripen slowly. When Pinot Noir has a long growing season this grape when vinified will express the place it comes from almost better than any other grape (German Riesling is in the same small ballpark).
Okay, enough of the cork-dork talk, lets get to some wine tasting (ahem,drinking) notes and a brief explanation about quality levels of Burgundy wine.

At the bottom of the pyramid is
Bourgogne Rouge (Pinot Noir) and Blanc (Chardonnay). Bourgogne Rouge & Blanc account for approximately 52% of the wine produced in Burgundy. Next are the Village Wines which are a step up in quality and account for 35% of the wine produced in Burgundy. The grapes for these Village wines come from a smaller, more well-defined place. The names of the village-Beaune, Pommard, Meursault, Chambolle-Musigny, etc. will appear on the label.
The next designation is
Premier Cru, these wines make up about 11 % of the total production in Burgundy. These wines are all what is called single vineyard wines. The specific vineyard name will appear on the label after the village name. An example would be Beaune (the village) Clos de la Mousse (the vineyard).
At the top of the pyramid is the
Grand Cru designation. These wines are also single vineyard wines and the vineyard sites are so famous that some villages have actually hyphenated their name to include the vineyard. Chambolle-Musigny used to be called just Chambolle until the name was appended to add the name of its most famous vineyard. These wines are made in tiny quantities (think $$$) and the total production of Grand Cru wines make up about 2% of the wines produced in Burgundy. There are only 33 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy and the wines that come from these sites can fetch thousands of dollars per bottle.

We tasted 9 wines and the line up included:

2003 Mercurery, Domaine del la Croix Jacquelet, Faively (Village Wine)
Tart Cherry fruit with tart acidity. The mid-palate was balanced and this had a nice finish.
Even though this was a village wine this was the most expensive bottle we tasted.

2003 Savigny Les Beaune narbantons, Mongeard Mugneret (Premier Cru)
Toasty, almost burnt sugar (think creme brulee') nose, concentrated fruit that was very well balanced. This bottle was also slightly corked-f***.

2003 Nuit St. Georges Clos du Marechale Faiveley (Premier Cru)
Floral nose with mouth coating beefy tannins. This wine would go well with a rare steak.

1990 Beaune Clos du Roi, tollot-Beaut (Premier Cru)
Toasty floral nose with smokey sweet fruit and a tart almost citrus marmalade quality. This was my favorite wine of the night.

1986 Vosne Ronamee Les Chaumes, Daniel Rion (Premier Cru)
Barnyard nose with some toasty character. The acidity was at the tipping point and the wine was showing almost all mineral and no fruit. Another note I had was that this wine had almost a whiff of Durian (since I had an opportunity to actually eat one the previous evening)...sweetish, barnyardish essence.
Yeah, this is a crappy picture, but we were literally tasting in a basement with candles for lighting.
The second flight were consisted of four Grand Cru wines. Quick note, the name of the producer is shown after the name of the wine (village/vineyard/producer). As noted above the Grand Cru wines are difficult to come by and you probably don't want to crack these out if you friends are going to add 7-up to make a wine spritzer.

2001 Charmes Chambertin, Mommessin
Feminine nose with a very rich cherry fruit component. Silky finish.

1998 Pommard les Vignots, Leroy
Perfume nose, sweet fruit, good balance and a nice finish.

1997 Latricieres Chambertin, Faiveley
Sweet fruit and perfume on the nose, nice balance and a nice finish.

1997 Mazis Chambertin, Pilippe Naddef
Earth and game on the nose. Tart fruit and good mouthcoating tannins. Long finish. This one needs to see some bottle time in a cool, dark place.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hog Heaven

Saturday I was invited to a party at the home of my friends Scott and Heather (Gild the Voodoolily) Anderson. The occasion was Scott's 32nd birthday. Usually birthday parties mean cake and ice cream or maybe a grill session with hot dogs and hamburgers on the menu. This group decided to pull out all the stops and go "whole hog" in their party preparation. Heather, Scott, Joe (Scott's brother) and a small army of family and friends put together a foodie spectacular that can only be described as a pig pickin (brings a whole new meaning to this phrase), butt kickin, beer drinkin, Cuban style pig roast.
-This seems innocent enough-
The cooking utensils for this event included: a shovel, pliers, screwdrivers,concrete blocks, rebar, welded wire mesh, a silicone mitt, welding gloves (but no safety goggles ) and about 70 lbs. (I think this is the same amount of charcoal they would use to smelt iron) of Cowboy Charcoal (hardwood charcoal). Forget shopping at Williams-Sonoma, for this meal a trip to Home Depot was all you needed.
Heather told me that they had to get a little medieval with the cooking equipment since they didn't have any welding equipment laying around
(Note to Scott: maybe for your anniversary)

This is the gaze of a mother looking down at her child in the crib
The unveiling of the pig (these cracklings were like the best pork flavored potato chips you will ever eat)
-Cutting up a fat hog-
What I failed to show was that after Joe took off one one of the ham's and one of the shoulder's a group of us gathered around this pit like clan of Neanderthals and proceeded to pick and pull ribs, shoulder meat, neck meat, bacon meat (ummm, bacon) and eat with our bare hands. For my money the impromptu appetizer of a piece of pork cracklin topped with bacon meat (Imagine slow roasting a full side of bacon for 8 hours and you get the picture) was about a decadent as it gets. Note: If you take heart medication you might want to skip my appetizer suggestion.
This is the best part (hint: cheek meat)
Scott Anderson-Birthday Boy
Shinichi & Son (Sage)
This party actually was celebration of two birthdays. Scott and his friend Shinichi. Apparently Shinichi actually get the credit for the roasted pig idea. Last year at his birthday they had cooked a whole goat and made goat curry. For this year Shinichi had decided that he wanted a pig roast. The only drawback to this plan was that Shinichi's landlord had a small problem with him digging a 3' wide, 6' long, 3' deep pit in the back yard ( awww, c'mon...we never get to do anything fun). Anyway, since Scott's birthday piggybacked Shinichi's the two decided to have the pig roast at the Anderson's.

I have only know Heather and Scott for a short time, but I can tell you that in the kitchen, Heather drives with the pedal to the metal. It wasn't enough to have a mere pig roast. While this was a "Cuban style" pig roast, the menu included:


Pulled Pork Carolina-style Sandwiches (buns, vinegar sauce and slaw)

Carnitas tacos (hot sauce, cilantro, minced onion and tortillas),

Banh mi station with some julienned jalapeno and cilantro, with homemade do chua (carrot & daikon)

Brick pressed Cuban Style Pork Sandwiches
(we all ate so much pork off of the grate over the pit that we never got this far into the menu)

Baked Beans
Cole Slaw
Pasta Salad
Pickles (Heather's Quickles-she needs to patent these)

Homemade Ice Cream
(Note: this is a fruit that Andrew Zimmem of Bizarre Foods on the Discovery Channel has had a problem choking down-what a wuss)
These kids threw a hellava party and my brief description is from an outsiders point of view. Check out Gild the Voodoolily for the insiders point of view. This was an absolute ton of work to pull together. I was a very lucky boy to have been included on the guest list.
Heather gives a big two "Thumbs up"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fire Grilled Beef Tri-Tip w/ Chimichurri

Beef Tri-Tip Roast w/ Chimichurri Sauce
I discovered Chimichurri Sauce several years ago in a Steven Raichlen's "Barbeque Bible". This sauce is a traditional marinade and condiment in Argentina and can be used on steaks, pork, sausage and even grilled chicken. This sauce a definitely a cousin of Genovese Pesto or French Persillade.

Chimichurri has a wonderful fresh herb quality, but it also has an addictive piquant component...heat with a great acidity.
Last night I fired up the grill and cooked a Tri-Tip Beef Roast. I love this cut as it is a less expensive piece of meat and if you grill it, then cut it on the bias the flavor and tenderness is outstanding. In my book the Tri-Tip is second only to the Rib-eye for flavor.
The recipe below is one I have adapted from Steven's. I like adding cilantro to the mix, though that may actually throw this sauce into the Chilean Pebre (whatever, this version kicks butt) category. Anyway, this is a good introduction to this sauce and the variations are endless.

Chimichurri Sauce
1 Bunch Italian Flat Leaf Parsley-leaves and tender stems
1 Bunch Cilantro-leaves and tender stems
1/4 White Onion rough chopped
8 Garlic Cloves rough chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, or more to taste
1 tsp. Dried Oregano or 1 Tbsp. Fresh
1 Jalapeno -rough chop, I added the seeds for some more heat
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Throw the garlic and onions into a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Next add the salt, oregano, jalapeno and pulse the food processor again. Next, add the vinegar and water through the drizzle tube on the top of the processor. Add the cilantro and parsley last as you want the sauce to have some chunks to it. Add the olive oil to the drizzle tube and pulse intermittently until everything is incorporated. Season to taste-I love more heat and more vinegar.

Grilled Mixed Vegetable Salad
What I love to do when I am grilling meat is to also do some kind of grilled vegetable salad. This salad had roasted corn, grilled tomatoes (just big enough to not fall through the grate on the BBQ), onions (grilled yellow, and raw red), asparagus, zucchini and a handful of arugula. I tossed this with a red wine vinaigrette and it matched nicely with the rare Tri-Tip Beef Roast.

A friend stopped by with a bottle of 2005 Domaine Du Galet Des Papes-Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This wine had a great earthy, dried fruit character along with garrigue (think Herbs De Provence) on the nose. Big tannin structure and 14% alcohol were more than a match for this meal.
Warning: Chimichurri Sauce is addictive.
Eat at your own risk!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stracci con Bolognese

For years it seemed the only thing I cooked at home was Italian food. I went through about a decade where it seemed as though I had grown up in an Italian family. I was big on regional Italian dishes and I loved the foods of Northern Italy and Emila-Romagnia.

Tonight I actually had the urge to make some fresh pasta. I had made my Ragu (kind of a ghetto Bolognese) the other day and I thought it might be fun to break out the pasta machine (old school Atlas) and see if it still worked.
I wanted to do a hand cut pasta and a Stracci (Italian for "rags") came to mind. Once you have your sheets of pasta rolled out this is basically a "anything goes" style of pasta. You simply cut rough shapes at your whim. The sauce was good, but I think this type of pasta would be better with a non-red sauce....just a hunch.

Okay, I am sure all of you are wonder "What, no fancy wine lable"? Well, the story is that since I made homemade pasta and homemade sauce, the wine is homemade as well. This is a bottle of my 2005 "Rosso". We blended 50% Holstein Vineyard Pinot Noir-Willamette Valley-Dundee Hills and 50% Del Rio Syrah-Rogue River Valley-Southern Oregon. To be honest I wish we had bottled the Pinot Noir separately since the 2005 (in my humble opinion) is a fantastic wine and since we only bottled 8 cases of it, I am now down to my last 3 bottles. While this blend drinks well, it is just a fun slurping wine. You pick up the acidity of the Pinot and the jammy/oakiness of the Syrah. The Syrah itself has an uncanny resemblance to an Australian Shirz. I am sure it has to do with us using a new Hungarian oak barrel. Big fruit, big oaky/vanilla nose and big alcohol. This wine would go great with bowling or even washing the car.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Barolo Braised Beef Short Ribs

Barolo Braised Beef Short Ribs, Sour Cream Garlic Mashed Potatoes, & Broiled Tomatoes
I am sitting here the first week of June in Portland, Oregon and it is cloudy and in the 50's ( oh yeah, the Rose Parade is this weekend, and the weather is always crappy for Grand Floral Parade).

Connor Schoen-Age 12-Future MLB-MVP
My son (Connor-age 12) is the consummate anti-vegetarian. I swear , this little boy eats more meat than an alpha wolf. He has always had an adventurous palate, but it has centered around meat, meat products and meat-like substances. I think he believes that a Chicken Cilantro Sausage counts as a vegetable serving. This morning
I was trying to come up with dinner ideas that would accomplish several things.
1. Allow me to putt around in the kitchen for a long period of time
2. Broaden our meat intake to include something besides a grilled piece of animal flesh
3. Provide some comfort food during a time of year where I would prefer grilling outside, sipping a Mojito and worrying about burning the top of my bald head.

In a flash it came to me. Tonight I would braise something. Since I had some beef short ribs in the refrigerator the choice was now how to prepare them.
I just finished reading "Heat" by Bill Buford. Bill is a writer who apparently had finally made enough money that he could afford to go to work for Mario Batali as an "intern" (i.e., for no pay). The book chronicles a couple of years and much education for Mr. Buford. One of the dishes I recalled from the book was for Barolo Braised Beef Short Ribs. What I specifically recalled was that while Bill worked in the kitchen he was exposed to the "dirty little secret" that Mario's restaurant (Babbo) actually used an inexpensive Merlot for the preparation of this popular dish.
As a wine guy, I can say that to braise with a Barolo worthy of drinking would be a waste of a $50+ bottle of wine. There is absolutely no such thing as a "Two-buck Chuck Barolo". My advice would be to braise with something affordable (and drinkable) and if the company warrants it, go ahead and splurge on the wine for drinking with the meal.
Note: Barolo (produced from Nebbiolo grapes) wines are notoriously big, dark, tannic monsters. The old school wines used to take a decade or more to finally come around for drinking. While today the wines are approachable earlier, the really great wines still need time and with wine "time is money". So, if you don't have a Barolo in your cellar you have several options-invite a friend to dinner who has a good Italian selection in his/her cellar, spend an arm and a leg at a reputable wine shop, or just chill out and ask your wine shop steward to suggest something in your price range. As my favorite shop owner says: "Wine, not Brain Surgery".

Barolo Braised Beef Short Ribs
4 lbs. beef short ribs
1 carrot-coarsely chopped
2 Yellow onions-coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks-finely chopped
4 oz. Pancetta ( or bacon works too)
2 cups red wine (don't, don't, don't use Barolo!!!....if you do, you are just an a**hole)
2 cups basic tomato sauce (use my recipe and just leave out the meat)
Black Pepper
Olive Oil

Dust the ribs with some salt and pepper then sear on all sides until brown in a dutch oven. Set the ribs aside then add the onion, carrot, celery and pancetta to the pot. Cook for 7-8 minutes, add the wine and tomato sauce, bring to a boil and add the ribs back in. Cover the dutch oven and put into a 350 degree overn for 90 minutes or so and behold the magic that appears.

Arugula w/ Lemon Vinagrette & Shaved Parmesan
Serve with a soft polenta, or if you are feeding my son, some Sour Cream Garlic mashed potatoes w/ some fresh chives. I tossed some nice pear tomoatoes with olive oil and broiled them until they sizzled (you can do this on a Weber Grill too). A nicely dressed Arugula salad with a citrus vinaigrette and a quality red wine makes this a stellar Saturday night dinner at home.

Buon Appetito!

Pancakes x Infinity

In mathematics an unimaginably large value is said to be at infinity or is said to be infinity. For the moment, let us consider such a value to be positive. That is, think of an x number line with the origin, or zero, on it. In your imagination have it extend from zero to the right forever. One could say that infinity is at the end of that line. Except that line has no end. It goes on without end.

So, how far away to the right of zero is positive infinity? Well, if you started at the origin and spent your whole life running toward infinity at a million miles per hour, and somehow miraculously lived for a million lifetimes, at the end of all of that you would be no closer to infinity than when you started. That puts infinity very far away indeed.
The symbol for this value looks like this:

What does infinity have to do with pancakes? Well, for the past 30 years I have prepared the same pancake recipe at least once a week. A rough estimate that would equate to:
1 (pancake recipe) x 52 (weeks)x 30 (years) = 1,560 (batches of pancakes). While that is a smaller number than infinity, that is a butt-load of pancakes. The amazing thing to me is that even though I use the same recipe every time, these pancakes always turn out slightly different. Is it the humidity in the air, the moisture content of the flour, are these eggs maybe slightly bigger, is the fat content of the buttermilk more or less? Each batch of pancakes is like a snowflake, unique in its own way, never to be replicated again. That is what I love about this recipe. It is familiar , yet I know I will get a unique result. If I were musically inclined I might be able to make the correlation between making pancakes and playing jazz.

Norm's Pancake Recipe
1 cup of buttermilk
2 Tbsp. melt butter
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 cup of stone ground cornmeal
3/4 cup of flour

Mix the egg and the buttermilk, temper the melted butter with some of that egg/buttermilk mixture before you add it to the rest of the wet mixture. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add the wet to the dry. Stir just enough to incorporate all the ingredients-10-12 stirs. You will have some lumps. You can scale up this recipe x
if you need to.

Monday, June 2, 2008

This is not your Mother's pork chop

For some, dinner for one can sometimes mean fast food (something I would crawl through broken glass to avoid). I will admit that there are times when I just want something simple like a sandwich and a beer or a burrito from the great quick Mexican place across the street.
Tonight I made a pork chop that was transcendent. Meaty, juicy, succulent and so flavorful I wanted to gnaw on the bone (oh yeah, I did that). Growing up, my mom would cook 1/2" thick pork chops until they were at least well done. WTF? Even today I have literally begged to get a medium rare pork chop at a "good" restaurant to be told that the cannot serve pork unless it has been cooked to 145 degrees. I don't think there has been a documented case of Trichinosis in the USA since pre-WWII (okay, there were about 12 cases in the United States last year).
Here is the deal, apparently feeding pigs raw meat "garbage" is the biggest factor in the production of trichinosis (duh). Buy your meat from a reputable butcher and you too can cook a chop that will make you think twice about ordering a Rib Eye Steak the next time you go out to dinner.
So, dinner for one was:


Brined & Dry Rubbed, Double Cut Standing Rib Pork Roast Chop
Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic
Roasted Corn, Tomato, Onion, Pepper and Parsley Salad

Paired with

2000 Panther Creek-Nysa Vineyard-Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Brining pork helps impart a little more moisture to the meat since today's pork is much more lean than it was even 20 years ago. Brine in a mixture of salt, sugar, citrus and garlic for 4 hours. The dry rub was added 3 hours before cooking. I cooked the chop on a Weber BBQ and all I can say is pay attention.
These duck fat roasted potatoes are simply good quality russets, a little olive oil, some duck fat and rosemary with salt and pepper. Heat your oven to 425 degrees and cook the potatoes for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes go ahead and turn the potatoes over and cook for another 20 minutes. You can add the whole (slightly crushed) garlic at this time too.
The salad is as simple as the ingredients and is a nice colorful addition.
Yes, I see it, this label is F***ed up.

The 2000 Panther Creek Pinot Noir was drinking nicely. I got about 3-4 cases of these wines last year when Panther Creek had a dispute with a distributor. Wines that are perfectly aged and that should be selling for $50+ dollars per bottle were going for $17 per bottle (love it when that happens). The wine was showing just a hint of age on the color with a slight brickish ring of color. The nose was dried rose petal floral with a hint of fennel and some earth. Bright cherry fruit and some spice on the palate with maybe some citrus peel on the finish. Drink this now while it still has a little fruit left.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lime Marscapone Panna Cotta w/Raspberry Coulis

Panna Cotta is a dessert that I came to late in life. Growing up in Payette, Idaho there weren't many (actually any) ethnic Italian families. Dessert at my house usually consisted of Popsicles, Ice Milk (Ice Cream was for company), a Betty Crocker Cake or if we were really lucky we got to go to the Dairy Queen and get a sundae. It would take until I was well into my 20's to discover the joys of desserts like Tiramisu and Biscotti with Vin Santo.
Panna Cotta is a dessert that fights well above its weight. It so simple (basically it is a cream Jello) that I am curious as to why we haven't seen a Jell-O brand mix for this (note to self-get do a patent search).
I thought I would try and kill two birds with one stone. First I wanted make an entry into the Royal Foodie Joust cooking contest for June. The three theme ingredients for
this month are raspberries, lime and almonds. Secondly, I was fortunate enough to be going to Heather and Scott's house for dinner. Heather writes Gild the Voodoolily and this happens to be a case of where a blog friend also only lives about 5 minutes from my house (I am the luckiest boy in the whole world). I will have to do a separate post regarding the dinner. So, without further fanfare, here is my entry for the June Royal Foodie Joust (if I hadn't been a knuckle-head and missed the entry cut off time)-oh well, there is always next time.

Lime Marscapone Panna Cotta w/ Raspberry Coulis
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/4 cups whipping cream, divided
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
Small handful of fresh raspberries for garnish

1 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 lemon-juiced

Combine 1/4 cup juice and peel in small saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup cream to gelatin mixture; stir over low heat just until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat.

Whisk mascarpone and 1/2 cup sugar in medium bowl; gradually whisk in remaining 1 cup cream until smooth. Stir this mixture of very low heat until the cream just starts to simmer then remove from the heat .
Whisk gelatin mixture into cream mixture. Pour 4 ramakins or wine glasses. Chill until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the coulis stir the lemon juice juice, 1/4 cup sugar, and the berries together in a small sauce pan. Gentle heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Puree the raspberry mixture in a blender then strain the mixture through a mesh sieve and refrigerate .
To plate, warm the ramakins to help loosen the panna cotta, invert and plate-spoon or use a squeeze bottle decorate the plate with the Raspberry coulis and then grate peel from 1 lime directly over desserts.

I also baked Belgian Touile cookies (my son didn't think it was possible to get that much butter into a cookie) that I hand dipped in chocolate and dusted with almonds for the Coup de grâce