Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pâté de Campagne (Country Pâté)

Pâté de Campagne

The wine group I belong to had an event this past Sunday. Almost every month this group get together and does a "theme" tasting. These are social events, but they are also educational as well (if you pay attention). This month we contrasted four Washington Syrah's against four Syrah based wines from the Northern Rhone.

I love what Washington is doing with wine, but in this tasting they were like bringing a knife to a gun fight. The Northern Rhone defines that grape and it came thorough (for me) like the champ that it is.
We typically have a pot luck meal after our events and what better to take than a Country Pâté? I spotted this recipe in Bon Appetit and I need to give Molly Wizenberg credit for this recipe. The only deviations were that I used a smoked hog jowl bacon mixed with the pork and I used a French Ham for the center layer..........oh, yeah, I also substituted nutmeg for the allspice. The sign above says Pork, Pork, Pork. I forgot to add another item....Pork (Jowl bacon)
Bon Appetit!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Red Pozole

I have been cooking for over 40 years and I still come across classic dishes that I have never tasted or cooked. A few weeks ago my friends Heather (Voodoo & Sauce blog), Scott and their adorable son Zephyr had us over for dinner. Heather served a red chicken Pozole and it was fantastic. This was only the second time I had ever eaten Pozole. The first was at the Cochon 555. At that event the Posole dish that Jason Barwikowski served was the best thing I ate in 2010.

This dish has roots back to the Aztecs and was used in rituals for special occasions. The conjunction of corn (usually whole hominy kernels) and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mexicans believed the gods made humans out of cornmeal dough. There is also mention of human sacrifice and something about pork tasting a lot like human flesh (Hmmm, I will take their word on that one) on the wikipedia link.

Our dish was simply Pasilla chiles, hominy, onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, chicken and chicken stock. This is a no-brainer to make ahead several days ahead of time. I warmed it back up tonight and garnished with fresh cabbage, cilantro, scallions, radishes and some lime juice.
The soup/stew is very complex, and has a depth of flavor that belies the few ingredients actually used. The chiles used are what I am guessing gives this dish religious significance and the spice mix warms your body and your soul.

Pozole is going into permanent rotation at our home.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Father & Son

Before my son left for an exchange in France (Bordeaux) we had a final meal together. Since it was Father's Day it only seemed fitting that some kind of protein get grilled. I have been playing with some of the lesser cuts of meat of late. You know, they are the ones you see on a restaurant list. Basically things like Pork Shoulder, Flap Steak (Bavette Steak), Hanger Steak, Flat Iron Steak, etc. These cuts are fairly inexpensive and with some care you can elevate them to great heights.
I started with half a Pork Shoulder and just de-boned, butterflied and then stuffed with garlic and rosemary then rolled into a roast. The roast was about 6-7 lbs and all I did was sear on a medium hot grill then move the roast completely off the flame. I banked the coals to one side and tried to keep the temperature around 250 degrees. The first time you try this make sure you get this going early as it can take 6-8 hours to cook. This roast you should pull at 185 degrees and let rest for 30 minutes. At that temperature you can still slice the roast. If you cook another 10 degrees you are going to wind up with pulled pork (delicious, but not what we are going for).
This roast goes well with a vegetable that you can add some acid to. Brussel Sprouts sauteed with bacon and some lemon juice are killer. Grilled Asparagus with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon are a gimme too.

Smoke Roasted Pork Shoulder
w/Sauteed Brussel Sprouts & Grilled Asparagus

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew dies at 74; Hall of Famer was one of baseball's premier home-run hitters

The above headline made me sit up and think about getting older. I grew up the same small Idaho town (Payette) as Harmon did and heard stories about his exploits as soon as I was able to put on a baseball glove. I will tell you this, that small town absolutely adored Harmon. The one time I met him in person was when he spoke at my little league football banquet in 1970. As I recall they invited 3 or 4 teams in the area to a dinner held at Maudie Owen's cafe and he spoke of his own football days, signed autographs and hung out with a bunch of star-struck 11 and 12 year olds (adults too). This seemed like a big deal then. As time has passed it seems like an even bigger event. In 1969 Harmon was the AL MVP. Imagine getting A-Rod to show up in Payette, Idaho to speak to a bunch of 11 and 12 year old pee-wee football players.

When I heard Harmon was sick a few weeks ago I sent him a personal note and I thanked him for speaking at my football banquet over 40 years ago. His passing makes me realize that life is short and we should all count our blessings. Harmon was a kind gentle man who lead by example and who made a very small town in Idaho very proud. I will miss him.

Harmon Killebrew, known for his towering drives, hit 573 homers in 22 seasons that included an American League pennant with the Minnesota Twins in 1965 and a most valuable player award in 1969. One manager said he could hit the ball out of any park, 'including Yellowstone.'

Harmon Killebrew, a Hall of Fame slugger who became one of baseball's premier home-run hitters with the Minnesota Twins, has died. He was 74.

Killebrew died Tuesday of cancer at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Twins announced. He said in December that he was undergoing treatment for esophageal cancer and last week said he had entered hospice care.

He hit 573 home runs during 22 seasons with the Washington Senators, Twins and Kansas City Royals, including eight seasons in which he hit at least 40 home runs. Killebrew helped the Twins reach the World Series in 1965, where they lost to the Dodgers, and he was named the American League's most valuable player in 1969.

A 13-time All-Star, Killebrew was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.

"This is a sad day for all of baseball and even harder for those of us who were fortunate enough to be a friend of Harmon's," Hall of Famer and former Killebrew teammate Rod Carew said in a statement. "He was a consummate professional who treated everyone from the brashest of rookies to the groundskeepers to the ushers in the stadium with the utmost of respect. I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for Harmon Killebrew."

At 5 feet 11 and about 210 pounds, Killebrew was a stocky first and third baseman, outfielder and designated hitter who was particularly known for his ability to hit memorably long home runs.

"He hit a ball in Minnesota that went over 500 feet and broke two chairs," former Twins Manager Cal Ermer told the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press in 2002.

Paul Richards, then manager of the Baltimore Orioles, said during Killebrew's breakout season in 1959: "Killebrew can knock the ball out of any park — including Yellowstone."

Killebrew hit 42 home runs that season for the Washington Senators, who moved to Minnesota in 1961 and became the Twins.

Killebrew credited his power to growing up in Idaho. "When I was 14, and for the next four years, I was lifting and hauling 10-gallon milk cans full of milk," he told the Washington Post in 1984. "That will put muscles on you even if you're not trying."

Harmon Clayton Killebrew was born June 29, 1936, in Payette, Idaho. A star athlete at Payette High School, Killebrew already had fans in high places. Idaho Sen. Herman Welker touted Killebrew enough to Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith that Griffith sent the team's farm director to Idaho for a scouting trip.

It was raining when Ossie Bluege arrived to see Killebrew play. They talked and Killebrew made it clear he was planning to play football and baseball at the University of Oregon.

But then the weather changed and the game was on.

"I happened to hit a ball over the left-field fence, and I'd been going to that ballpark since I was a small boy and never had seen anyone hit a ball over that left-field fence," Killebrew said during his 1984 Hall of Fame induction speech.

"Mr. Bluege … called Mr. Griffith and he said it was 435 feet or so [into] a beet field, not a potato patch, and he thought that was a pretty good hit for a 17-year-old boy from Idaho."

Killebrew signed with the Senators in 1954 for $30,000. "It really wasn't a $30,000 bonus," he told the Washington Post in 1984. "They gave me the minimum salary of $6,000 a year for three years and on top of that a yearly bonus of $4,000 for three years."

Because of baseball rules at the time concerning players who received bonuses when they signed with a team, Killebrew had to spend two seasons in Washington before he could be sent to the minors. He played sparingly with the Senators until 1959, when he started a remarkable string of powerful seasons.

The right-handed hitter had more than 40 home runs in a season eight times between 1959 and 1970. He hit 25 home runs in 1965 when the Twins won the American League pennant.

A soft-spoken man who was nicknamed "Killer," Killebrew had enjoyed playing in Washington and was apprehensive about the team's move to Minnesota. But "I quickly learned that Minnesota was my kind of place and the fans there were my kind of people and are my kind of people," he said in his Hall of Fame speech.

In the 1968 All-Star game, Killebrew ruptured a hamstring stretching for a throw at first base. He played only 100 games that season, hitting 17 home runs.

"A lot of people thought I was through," he told The Times in 1985. "But that injury was kind of a blessing in disguise for me. I worked harder in the winter than I ever did before, and I was in better shape the next season than I ever was in my life."

Killebrew bounced back to become the league's most valuable player in 1969, hitting 49 home runs and driving in 140 runs. He hit 41 home runs in 1970. The Twins won the American League Western Division title both seasons.

Killebrew retired after playing with Kansas City in 1975 and spent several seasons as a broadcaster, most of them with the Twins.

"He's one of the great hitters of all time," Al Kaline, a Hall of Fame outfielder with the Detroit Tigers, told the Detroit Free Press in March. "He wasn't just a power hitter. Harmon was strong, but he had great hands and wrists and a great strike zone."

Killebrew's survivors include his wife, Nita, and nine children from two marriages, according to the Twins' website. His first marriage ended in divorce. A complete list of survivors was not available.

(Article pulled from the L.A. Times)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

David Abreu

Abreu winemaker-Brad Grimes

The first "big time" winery we hit in Napa was Abreu. My buddy Sam is on their mailing list.
David Abreu is perhaps one of the hottest vineyard manager in the Napa Valley. He has a great reputation and he has a long list of clients who are willing to spend as much as it takes the produce high end wine.
David Abreu also makes wine under his own name as well. His Madronna Ranch Cabernet wines are highly sought after and are as expensive($500-600/bottle) as they are rare.
Abreu has a small, discrete winery
 located in a cave. The facility is small, very tidy and the place has the feel of a monestary.

Cave tour

We had a chance to meet and spend a couple of hours with Abreu winemaker Brad Grimes. Keep in mind that Abreu doesn't have a tasting room and they rarely see visitors. For us to get the opportunity to spend a morning with Brad was akin to being a fan of U2 and getting to spend a couple of hours with Bono.
Brad Grimes may be one of the best (and least known) winemakers anywhere. While we heard over and over this weekend that "wine is made in the vineyard", I couldn't help but take away from this winery visit that the winemaker's personality does show through. Brad comes across as someone who "thinks and feels" in his wine making.
I didn't get the sense that this guy spends much time getting caught up in wine science. He came across as a serious artist who "guides" vs. "makes" wine

What an awesome morning and the beginning of an amazing group of winery tours.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Milk Braised Pork Shoulder

Milk Braised Pork Shoulder

I think it may have been the weather that made do this. Early this month the weather in Portland, Oregon had been creeping into BBQ territory. Even though I probably grill 100+ days a year outside there are times when I don't feel like getting soaked while trying to coax some wet hardwood charcoal (yeah, I am a total Luddite) to light.
So, the weather is cold and wet and I was surfing some cooking sites when something nudged me to do a google search on "Milk Braised Pork". This is a technique that an Italian Grandmother developed and I wish I could say that it was an old family recipe, alas it isn't. I tell you this though, if you cook this, your family will remember it and they will tell the story of their Mother or Father who cooked this succulent pork dish.

Milk Braised Pork Shoulder
4-5lb Pork Shoulder (boned and tied)
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil
2 Onions (chopped)
4 Shallots (chopped)
1 qt. Whole Milk
Fresh Thyme-2-3 big sprigs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Season the Pork Shoulder with salt and pepper and add to a enamel lined cast iron pot with some olive oil. Brown all sides and remove. To the pot add the onions and shallot and cook until soft, add the milk and the pork and bring to a simmer then add the thyme. Add the pot to the oven and cook the pork for two hours (keep the lid to the pot slightly open). After two hours transfer the pork to a warm dish to rest for 20 minutes. Place the pot with the milk mixture on a medium burner and reduce this mixture for 15 minutes. The mixture will look a bit gnarly.....the milk will curdle, but if you hang in there and reduce and then puree with an immersion blender you will have the silkiest, most savory gravy you have ever tasted.
Season the gravy to taste, slice the pork and plate with a side vegetable. This gravy would be awesome on mashed potatoes as well.

Heads up, the remaining gravy and a couple of handfuls of left over pork (chopped) make a pasta dish that is worth going to the trouble to make by itself. Buon Appetito!

Friday, March 4, 2011

David Arthur

..........................David Arthur Vineyards.................................................................. Barrel Room .......................

....................Sam Sundeleaf & Tyson Ducker.............................................. Conception Oak Tree .......................
I was in the Napa Valley last week for 5 days. Myself and 5 other serious food/wine friends flew down and we rented a house together. Keep in mind this isn't just a casual group of wine drinkers who would be happy hop scotching up and down Hwy 29. This group is either in the wine trade, has a wine collection or both. We are all on some exclusive mailing lists and we called in every favor we could.
The first "big" stop of the week was at David Arthur. This was my first real foray east of the Silverado Trail into an area known as Pritchard Hill. The valley floor in Napa is somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 feet in elevation. David Arthur is at about 1200 feet. The winery produces about 3000 cases of wine which makes this basically a "cult" winery (re: expensive and hard to get). The winery is open to visitors with an appointment and if you are on the mailing list (like my buddy Sam) you can get a grand VIP tour (like we did). We had a chance to taste through the entire lineup of wines that David Arthur produces which for the 2008 vintage includes:

Sauvignon Blanc
Meritaggio (California take on a Super Tuscan)
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon (actually a Bordeaux blend)
Elevation 1147 (100% Cabernet)

View from above the winery looking West

David Arthur Vineyard

Thinking that things couldn't get any better (trust me, they did)

We had a fantastic afternoon tasting the wines and talking about vineyard practice, barrel management and philosophy of making wine from these hillside vineyards.
This was to be the 1st of a series of great winery visits we had on our trip. Great day, great friends, great wine-cheers to David Arthur Vineyards!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The French Laundry

Champagne at the French Laundry

I just got back into town on Sunday after a five day trip to the Napa Valley. Six of us were there to celebrate my buddy Tom's 40th birthday. If you know anything about wine, then my telling you we spent time at Abreu, Continum, David Arthur, Dunn, Karl Lawrence & Rudd (I will do a post of this later) might strike a chord. If you are more in tune with food then I could say that the above wineries are to wine what The French Laundry is to food. Speaking of The French Laundry, the group of us decided over a month ago to bite the bullet and see if we could get a reservation. Long story short, we did and we went (blog post to come later.......c'mon, with 15 courses this may take a while).

Monday, February 14, 2011


My birthday was a week ago and I got the one gift I really wanted

Thanks Mom & Dad

I am not a religious person, so in my world this is about as "Biblical" as I want to get.
The Silver Spoon is considered to be the Italian equivalent of "The Joy of Cooking".
I might second that sentiment if "The Joy of Cooking" had been written by Thomas Keller. I am looking forward to Italian meals that provide a religious experience.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meat, Cheese, Vegetable

Friday a wine group I belong to celebrated the event we call "The Feast of St. Vincent".
If you are really interested you can click the link and get a quick run down of who St. Vincent was and also some info on our group (Confrerie de Vignerons des St. Vincent de Macon).
We hosted our dinner at the Oregon Culinary Institute and what a great dinner it was. OCI is a teaching restaurant and with a group of our size we can have their restaurant space reserved as a private event. A four course seasonal dinner is $18.00 + gratuity (a phenomenal bargain).
In the past OCI had done appetizers for our group, but due to a change of policy we weren't able to make that happen this year.
So what do you do when life gives you a lemon? You make lemonade. I decided as the outgoing Chanclier (President) of the group to take our budget and see what I could pull together. I knew that with our budget we couldn't realistically pull in another caterer and the thought of a Champagne reception with a Fred Meyer veggie/lunch meat tray gave me the motivation to step up and prepare appetizer platters for 40 people.

Charcuterie Platter

Cheese Platter

Vegetable Platter

Cold Smoked Salmon Crostini

The three platters turned out wonderful and was really pleased with the presentation.
I even got cocky and did some individual Salmon appetizers as well.
Prep for these four platters + some nuts, olives and condiments took about 3 hours. This little exercise gave me a huge appreciation for what a caterer does. A big shout out goes to Chop of Portland for their pate, smoked duck and house made charcuterie.
I got nice compliments all night about the appetizers, but the biggest pat on the back came from the chefs at the restaurant when I was pulling these out of my car and setting up. When they asked "who did your appetizers, those are awesome"! and I could look them in the eye and say: " I did them".