Watermelon Mint

Summer Fruit Water

Melon sa Malamig is a Cantaloupe drink from the Philippines. Sa Malamig means “cold” in Tagalog. I like to call it Melon Water, because the recipe is very simple: shredded or blended cantaloupe, sweetener, and water. Its kinda of like a Agua Fresca except without the blended seeds. This makes a great drink for a hot weather. I got to thinking a few weeks ago, why not use other fruits? Why not add herbs for an extra dimension. So I came up with a few combinations to make Fruit Herb Water:

Combo 1: Strawberry, basil, honey, water
Combo 2: Blackberry, sage, lemon zest, honey, water
Combo 3: Watermelon, mint, honey, water
Combo 4: Pineapple, lemon balm, honey, coconut milk, water

I didn’t really measure anything, I just put a couple handfuls of fruit, a few sprigs of herb, few spoonfuls of sweet, and water into the blender hit the on button. So far Strawberry-Basil combo was the surprisingly tasty, I was inspired by a gelato flavor found at my local gelato shop and tried to mimic it in a drink. Watermelon-Mint was extremely cooling, while the Blackberry-Sage deliciously dark. Pineapple-Lemon Balm-Coconut tastes just like a pina colada.

Coffee in saucer

Drinking from the Saucer

Today I learned that a saucer is a small dish originally intended for holding sauce. But in the 18th century, it was acceptable to pour tea or coffee into a cup’s saucer to cool the beverage before drinking it.

I was only able to find once reference about it in Google Books in a 1800s Peterson’s Magazine, but it talks about coffee.

But then I found this in a 1920s book how drinking from the saucer is considered “old” or “passé”:

Years ago, it was not simply permissible to drink out of the “sasser” it was an accomplishment. To see a man pour his tea into his saucer and cool it off and then lift it with firm touch and sip it with a long, soothing, sibilant, gurgling, fugue-like cadence that could be heard in the next county, was to see and hear the proper thing. The louder noise he could make, the more desirable dinner-guest he was considered. If he wanted to do a little fin-de-siecle flourish, he dipped his gingerbread in the tea in his saucer and then played a solo in double-bass with it thru his mustache. And then if he were a true artist and could wipe his mustache on his coat sleeve daintily — daintily, mark you? without the slightest suggestion of coarseness but with that infinite considerateness that betokens the saving of napkins, he was worth while; for napkins were rarely given out except to the minister.

Konstantin Makovsky (1839-1915). drinking tea

18th century drinking from saucer

Lummi Island Willows Inn

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island

The Willows Inn has been serving guests for 103 years in a place that feels stuck in a rural island life; where eagles soar, grey waves crash, and days fuse quietly together. On this quite isle, Chef Blaine Wetzel takes locavorism to delightful and unexpected levels. If there was a book for your taste buds to read it would be found at the kitchens of The Willows Inn.

The tasting menu lasted for three hours, with each course stopping somewhere in the San Juan Islands. All of the prix fixe menu is locally fished, foraged and farmed — this means the meals are dictated by seasonal ingredients. Assistant chefs visited us table-side and described where the food came from and how they prepared it.

It’s unfortunate that I’m allergic to shellfish, but my husband reports that the oysters were sweet, the scallops tender in milk and the mussels smoky yet savory served in its own wooden box. My course substitutions complimented their mollusk counterparts: sweet beets, foraged then smoked mushrooms and umami root crop wrapped in seaweed. There was smoked salmon belly, crisp kale chips with black truffle and rye, venison tartare with wild herbs, crispy crepe with steelhead roe, nettle soup, madrona tea, caramel bites with flax seed, celery roots, and hearth bread with pan drippings and butter.

At $165 per person (drinks are extra) you are paying for a seat at a culinary theater show, not just having dinner. Kitchen is in full view, and if you stay for the weekend they’ll take you on a tour of the farm – which of course we did. They have a number of on-island sites, of which we selected the Watermark House – a well-furnished luxury house with three suites and very nice views of Orcus Island and Cypess Island, and perfectly romantic for two lazy home bodies.

Patxi's Pizza Patxi's Pizza Patxi's Pizza Inside Patxi's sausage, mushrooms pizza

Ballard: Patxi’s Pizza

A new pizza place in Ballard just opened its doors a few months ago bringing a San Fran style Chicago deep dish pizza to the Seattle area. This Patxi’s (pronounced “pah-cheese” in a Spanish kind of way) is one of 16 storefronts, the others located in mostly California and some Denver. It’s a California chain that started a little over ten years ago.

We roamed there on a whim one late week day evening after work. They touted natural and healthy ingredients, some source locally and organic when possible. They also cater to those with special diet restrictions without the extra charge that most places do. The tomato sauce is in-house made and the cheese is whole milk – a bonus in my book. Dinner for two is a 10-inch deep dish takes about 30 minutes to produce with a base cost of $16 and about $3 per additional topping.

We ordered a sausage and roasted mushroom pizza. The sausage came from Zoe’s meats and the cheese from Point Reyes Farmstead. There were four different kinds of mushrooms including portobello, chanterelle, shitaki and cremini. And for kicks, I also had a side salad of warm brussels sprouts made with diced apples, sliced grapes, pancetta and sherry vinaigrette.

Overall it was a solid pizza with a nice crust. The sauce I liked the best since it wasn’t overly sweet. Roasted mushrooms needed to have their stems trimmed – chanterelles can get annoyingly chewy. My husband loved the garlic fennel sausage. The brussels sprout salad tasted common.

They don’t serve desserts, and instead tell you to save your pizza crusts and pour liberal amounts of honey over them. They call it “honey bones” or something goofy-hipster like that.

I’m not yet certain it’s worth the above average “Ballard” price yet; I’d have to go few more times to see if they’re consistent in flavor and quality. But I do suggest heading there during happy hour (3-6pm, 7-days, bar only) and order a $3 drink with a $5 personal single topping pizza.

Website: http://www.patxispizza.com/location/ballard-pizza/

Hazel Nut Spread

Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

CHOCOLATE-HAZELNUT SPREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups (8 oz) hazelnuts
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar or honey or splenda
  • 1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until fragrant and dark brown, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through roasting. Transfer hazelnuts to medium bowl. when hazelnuts are cool enough to handle, place a second bottom side up medium bowl on top and and shake vigorously between the two bowls to remove skins.
  2. Process peeled hazelnuts in a food processor until their oil is released and they form smooth, loose paste, about 5 minutes scraping down bowl often.
  3. Add sugar or honey or splenda, cocoa powder, oil, vanilla, and salt. Process until fully incorporated and mixture begins to loosen slightly and becomes glossy,, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  4. Transfer spread to jar with a tight-fitting lid. Chocolate-hazelnut spread can be stored at room temp or refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Candied Nuts for the Holidays

Candied Nuts

CANDIED SPICY NUTS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups (12 ounces) pecans halves, unsalted
    OR roasted almonds
    OR walnuts
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a flat baking pan with parchment.
  2. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cayenne to a large bowl. Whisk until evenly combined. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg white in medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add pecans and egg whites, and gently toss until combined and the nuts are evenly coated.
    Add in the sugar mixture, and toss until combined.
  4. Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Remove from the oven, and let the baking sheet cool on a cooling rack until the nuts reach room temperature.

CITRUS CANDY NUTS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a flat baking pan with parchment.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk powdered sugar, lemon juice, orange peel, lemon peel and nutmeg.
  3. In another bowl, beat egg white with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add almonds and pecans with the egg whites. Gently toss until combined and nuts are evenly coated.
  4. Add in the sugar mixture, and toss until combined.
  5. Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake 30 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes.
  7. Turn off oven and let nuts stand in oven 15 minutes more.
  8. Immediately remove nuts from pan to sheet of foil and cool completely.

Bleeding Hearts for Halloween

Hardware

  • Heart-shaped gelatin mold
  • Large pot or kettle for boiling water
  • Medium bowl
  • Large bowl
  • Whisk
  • Plastic bag, such as one from he grocery store in the produce isle. This will hold the blood.
  • Measuring cup

Software

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 (3 ounce) boxes strawberry or cherry gelatin dessert mix
  • 4 (1 tablespoon) envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1 (12 ounce) can unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup grenadine
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 fluid ounce red food coloring
  • 3 drops blue food coloring

The Heart Mix

Boil the water. Put the packaged flavored gelatin dessert and unflavored gelatin in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it, whisking constantly. Cool to room temperature (NOTE: this is very important or the next step may present problems).

Stir in the condensed milk. Watch how the mixture is already is acquiring the color of freshly skinned flesh.

Coat the inside of the mold with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Set the heart mold in a bowl. This is to steady it as you pour and for when the gelatin sets.

Pour the mixture into the mold. Cover just the bottom of the mold (this will be the top when you serve it) with a half inch thick layer of gelatin mixture. Refrigerate until it gels firmly.

The Blood Bladder

Meanwhile, prepare the bladder of blood. Stir together the corn syrup, grenadine, and food colorings

For the bladder (the bag that keeps the blood together inside the mass of gelatin) take the gallon-size food-storage bag and turn it inside out.

Pour the blood mixture into one corner of the bag and twist it closed so that no air bubble is caught between the sauce and the twist. Tie a knot in the twisted plastic.

Adjust the position of the knot so that when the bag lies on the counter, it’s about 1 1/2 to 2 inches high, and tighten the knot. With a pair of scissors, snip off the frilly extra plastic outside the knot.

When the gelatin on the bottom of the mold is stiff and firm, position the bladder of blood in the mold, with the point of the bag just inside the point of the heart.

Make sure there is at least 3/4″ of space between all sides of the bag and the walls of the mold (this will ensure that your guests don’t see clues ahead of time).

Complete the Heart

Pour in the remaining gelatin until the mold is as full as you can handle.

Don’t worry if you see a little of the blood-bladder grazing the surface of the gelatin, as longs as it doesn’t project too much; the side you are looking at now will be the bottom when you serve it.

Refrigerate until gelled firmly to the texture of fine, lean organ meat. It takes about 4 hours.

To unmold, put about 2 1/2 inches of hot, but not boiling water in your sink.

Set your mold in the water so that the water comes just below the edge of the mold for 15 to 20 seconds; the time depends on the thickness of the mold pan.

Remove the mold from the water, and run the blade of a knife around the edge of the gelatin.

Invert your serving platter, ideally a white pedestal cake plate, on top and hold it firmly in place.

Then use both hands to turn over the mold and the plate. Remove the mold; you may need to tap or shake the mold slightly to free the gelatin.

Trim any excess gelatin to make it more heart shaped.

Extra Touches

You will need purple, red, blue and black Food colorings

Now we apply some food coloring with a brush to make it look more realistic.

Of course, we’re only making look “realistic” in a comic-book sense. The colors won’t really be much like a real heart fresh from a ribcage would look – but it will look like what most people expect a heat to look like.

Use purple for the ridged areas shown. Try to paint darker near the bottoms and sides, and lighten up on the tops. You can paint a little red on the top part as a highlight. Just don’t overdo it and you should be fine.

Finally, color in the holes we made in the arteries with black

Now go over each vein with red. Just a little should do it. Color some parts of the heart’s surface with a bit of red too to bring out color.

Serving Ideas

The blood looks prettiest when it flows over white plates, doilies, and table linen, which it may stain permanently–but what the hell, it’s the effect that matters.

To serve, use a nice, big Psycho-style chef’s knife and stab the side of the gelatin about one third of the way up from the pointed end of the heart. Twist the knife slightly, and blood will start to ooze out.

Bare your teeth like a Marine jabbing with bayonet, and widen the wound. When the blood is coming at a good slip, grab a dessert plate, and cut a slice from one of the lobes of the heart. Flip it onto the plate, and drizzle it with blood by holding it under the edge of the pedestal. Add whipped cream and serve.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SAFETY: Be careful not to serve pieces of the food-storage bag to your friends. They could choke to death. We want to help you become a more exciting host, not a criminally negligent klutz.

Compound Butters

In modern French cuisine, prior to 1950, compound butters had a much greater purpose then they do today. If you’ll visit this French Cooking Terms page you’ll see several French recipes that instruct you to finish their preparation with this or that kind of butter.

Compound butters are prepared by adding any number of flavorings to the whole butter by either chopping in the items or using a food processor. The following recipe is only an example and today’s cooks use compound butter for dessert as well as entrees. Spices, herbs and protein can be added to compound butters and they are especially useful when using herbs that otherwise would turn black after being cut and exposed to air.

The kinds of compound butters you can make are without limits. Use berries for French Toast or pancakes. Wasabi for broiled meats and sea foods, cranberries for turkey and the list goes on and on. Adding hard chilled butter to finish a sauce is called monter or monte au beurre which gives the sauce an added flavor and sheen, and when you’ve incorporated some additional flavoring agent into the compound it just increases the gustatory profile. So you could add truffles, lobster, shrimp, saffron, herbs or caviar to just name a few.

My favorite is the classic Garlic Herb Butter

Hardware

  • Mixer, for best consistency
  • Plastic wrap

Software

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Application

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and salt and beat for a couple of minutes, or until fluffy. Add the garlic and parsley, stir to combine well. Transfer the the garlic herb butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap, roll up to form a cylinder shape. Twist both ends tight and keep it in the refrigerator. They are ready to use when the butter becomes cold and solid.

Compound Butters

vday

Valentine’s Day

For South Koreans Valentine’s Day is when women shower men with chocolates! Japanese women also gift chocolate to all men around them ranging from love interests to co-workers and bosses. In the Philippines, V-day is celebrated in the same way as their western counterparts, greeting loved ones with “Maligayang Araw ng mga Puso” — literally translating to “Happy Day of the Hearts”.

Since before we were married, we’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day the way the Japanese and Koreans do: me making sweets for Sig and planning a special day just with him. Come March 14th, Sig will have his turn.

If you’re single you can celebrate Black Day (블랙데이) on April 14 by gathering your single friends and eat jajangmyeon (noodles with black bean sauce) and celebrate your singledom.

vday cookies

Sushi Tuna Lean

A Foodie’s Map

Last August, Sig and I experienced an amazing dinner at the Herbfarm with Jeff and Kate. I was asked at some point about “how many restaurants I’ve been to in the Seattle area?” and “which ones where good?” That’s a question which would result into a very complex answer, especially for a foodie like me. My solution was to create a map, this map not only contains places I’ve been, but where I want to go. I’ve also included a layer with notes. Click on the little square at the top right corner of the map to go full screen; believe me you’ll want it that way. Click on an item in the list or a location on the map to view the info. Not all items have notes because I haven’t visited that location yet.

I’ll up date this as time goes on, maybe blog about it…soon-ish.  Read more below the cut.

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