29 December 2009

Marinated Black-Eyed Peas

Tasty-looking local black-eyed peas at the Weave and a lovely-looking recipe from my Southern Living 1982 cookbook (modified a bit):


  • 12-16 oz. black-eyed peas (fresh, rehydrated-and-boiled, canned)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/8 c. vinegar (your choice – I mixed red wine, white wine and some balsamic)
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • several dashes hot sauce


  1. In large container with cover, add peas, then onion and garlic, mixing well
  2. In separate measuring cup, combine and mix liquid ingredients and salt
  3. Pour liquid over peas &c. and mix well
  4. Cover and refrigerate three days
  5. Enjoy!

28 December 2009

Sopa de Aguacate

Had some avocados that needed to be eaten now, so, an unseasonable-but-delicious chilled avocado soup.


  • 1 bunch green onions 
  • 3 large ripe avocados
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp/ paprika
  • 2 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 small handful parsley
  • 2 c. ice water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Coarsely chop white segment of onions and place in blender or food processor
  2. Add flesh of one avocado, garlic, and lemon juice; purée 
  3. Add flesh of second avocado; purée
  4. Add third avocado, cumin and paprika; purée until smooth
  5. Add parsley and slowly add vegetable broth; blend until smooth
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate overnight 
  7. Just before serving, stir in iced water to thin purée

16 December 2009

Matzoh-Ball Soup

It's that time of year. Well, one of them. And I had a big ol' pot of chicken stock boiling, so – might as well give matzoh-ball-soup-making a go for the first time in my life (my late great-aunt Tiny first and then my mother have of course traditionally handled the previous incarnations). I didn't get Tiny's recipe which I'll need to do in future, but pulled together a reasonable version of it.

The soup


  • Big pot of chicken stock, chilled, filtered, cooked way down
  • 1 lb. carrots, chopped
  • 3/4 lb. celery, chopped
  • 1-2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 lb. chicken thighs, de-skinned and -boned


  1. Make the stock in advance. Don't even think about using stock from a can. Chill it overnight, skim, and store outside of main pot.
  2. Heat oil (or schmaltz if you've got it) in large pot
  3. Add carrots, celery and onions, and cook 10 min. over low heat, mixing frequently
  4. Add a few cups of the stock, filtering again as you do, to cover the veggies, and raise to simmer
  5. When simmering, add chicken thighs and cover. Cook 15-20 min.
  6. Uncover and add remainder of stock, and raise to medium boil
  7. Add matzoh balls to pot and cook 15 min.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

Matzoh balls

  • 4 matzoh or 1 cup matzoh meal
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbs. chicken stock
  • 4 tbs. vegetable oil or schmaltz
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Add eggs, stock and fat to large bowl; mix thoroughly
  2. Mix matzoh thoroughly in food processor [unnecessary if you're using matzoh meal]
  3. Add matzoh or meal to large bowl and pepper as necessary; mix until combined and unyielding
  4. Let sit for 15-20 min. to allow everything to absorb
  5. Fill bowl of water to allow for hand-wetting
  6. When soup is at medium boil, form matzoh balls with hands and drop in gently, wetting hands between
  7. Allow to cook for 15 min.; serve and enjoy!


Pretty damn good! Need to get the real recipe, next time.

Winter Parsley-and-Walnut Pesto

Had a bunch of leftover parsley, so decided – winter pesto!

  • 1 1/2 c. walnut halves 
  • 1 c. parsley leaves
  • 1 cu. freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
    1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
    Salt and freshly ground pepper
    2 tbs. butter, room temperature
  • water to mix pasta

1 lb. pasta of choice  


  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Toast the walnuts in a pie plate for 7 minutes, or until golden; let cool. 
  3. Coarsely chop walnuts and transfer to a bowl
  4. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts, garlic and parsley until finely chopped 
  5. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and the olive oil and process to a coarse puree
  6. Season the pesto with salt and pepper. 
  7. Cook pasta 
  8. In large bowl, add butter and combine with pesto
  9. Off the heat, add the pasta to the pesto pesto and toss until combined
  10. Enjoy!

New Holland Cabin Fever Brown Ale

Very dark with a rich, creamy head, you could be excused for mistaking Cabin Fever for a porter, but the flavor while roasty is very much an ale. Great mouthfeel and nice slightly bitter finish, none of the sweetness that sometimes plagues brown ales. Highly recommended.

15 December 2009

Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter

Each year I've been here, I've tried and been disappointed by the Duck-Rabbit Baltic Porter – too sweet, too boozey. But no more! This year's batch is perfect: rich, creamy, dry, super-flavorful. A truly great winter beer: pick yerself up some (especially get it on tap, at Milltown).

12 December 2009

Founders Harvest Ale

A limited-release, wet-hopped ale, Founders Harvest is a solid IPA. Not overly floral but nice and bitter, refreshing. Not sure if I take it over their standard offering (Centennial IPA) but wouldn't refuse it, either.

08 December 2009

Lazy Man's Mole

Felt like a mole but without the time, so tried my hand at something kinda-sorta-similar.


  • 1/3 bar good dark chocolate (I used Green & Black's Maya Gold)
  • 1 bottle dark beer (in this case, Bell's Porter)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 Anaheim peppers, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Serrano pepper, chopped
  • 2 Chipotle peppers, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, in 1" cubes (or whatever other meat you like)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • t tbsp sunflower or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup water or stock


  1. Over low heat in large saucepan (one that has a lid), melt chocolate
  2. When chocolate is melted, add a few ounces beer and peppers; raise heat to low-medium and cook for 5-10 minutes
  3. Add onions, oil and a few more ounces beer; cook for 3-5 min.
  4. Add garlic, spices, remainder of beer and raise to simmer, mixing well
  5. Add tomatoes, mix thoroughly and cover; cook 15 min.
  6. Add water or stock and meat; cover and cook, stirring periodically, until chicken is tender (this will take a while, probably 45 min. or so – use this time to cook some rice!)
  7. Enjoy!

Really good. Rich, spicy, tasty. A perfectly acceptable alternative to driving up to DC for mole.

    25 November 2009

    Left Hand Fade to Black

    Feeling very much in the mood for a dark beer that was a) local, and b) I hadn't tried yet, I settled on the just-released Fade to Black from Left Hand (producers of an excellent Milk Stout). Thick, creamy tan head over jet-black ale, it's marketed as a "Foreign Export Stout" and comes on strong with a full and slightly syrupy nose. The taste couldn't be less syrupy though: rich dark malts balanced with a nice hop bitterness and some dark fruit notes, it finishes incredibly smooth. Really is kind of like a much, much better and smoother Guinness Extra Stout (just saying this brings back memories of dank London clubs and a half-warm bottle between my fingers).

    24 November 2009

    The Lost Abbey Lost & Found

    I'd heard The Lost Abbey talked up but hadn't seen any for sale back east, so was glad to see it at Liquor Mart here in Boulder. We picked up some Lost & Found and popped it open, and it's definitely a winner: a nice subtle fruit and ale nose, thick creamy head and an excellent mouthfeel. Lots going on, good malt body and nice hop balance – never hoppy but a great slightly bitter counterpoint and finish that completes the beer excellently. Definitely glad to have had a chance to taste.

    17 November 2009

    Allagash Curieux

    Milltown had a tasting with Allagash last week, and so continue to have on tap several beers not normally found on draft, including the Curieux. Barrel-aged (in Beam barrels) and incredibly smooth, Curieux is a real treat – a bit of the traditional Allagash spice followed by vanilla and a great finish. Get a pour if you can.

    16 November 2009

    Seattle: Elysian Brewing Company

    Elysian Brewing Company is one of those brewpubs that is sadly uncommon in most parts of the country: rather than the beer being a gimmick to accompany so-so bar food, at Elysian it's the reason to come. The food's quite good, too – very nice grilled corn cakes to start, and the house-made black bean burger was excellent – but it definitely takes a back seat to the beer.

    I'd been to Elysian before on my previous trip to Seattle and made my way through most of their regular beers (indeed, Elysian bottles and sells their beers all around, and many of their stand-bys are also on tap at other local pubs), so decided to take a trip through the seasonals. I was served well by this decision, as there were three sour beers on tap (my current semi-obsession, beer-wise), reviewed below in order.

    Haleakala Hibiscus Sour Ale: Mild sweet nose, full body, tart edges. Carbonation mild owing to wild yeast, finish a perfect blend of tart, sweet, sour, bitter. Hops there but only as balance. Very refreshing and easy-drinking, gets a bit more sour when warm. A real winner and it turned out to be the best of the bunch.

    Sour Power Flemish-style Wood Aged Sour Ale: Very, very smooth. More sour in the nose than the taste, and not overly woody - definitely wood-aged but all the good and none of the bad elements of the process. Kind of wished it was a bit more sour, but still solid.

    The Trip III Dark Sour Blend: Super-sour nose, low carbonation, porter-style dark body with a great smooth and sour taste and finish. So sayeth the note: "The 3rd beer in collaboration between Elysian and New Belgium, 70% Dark Lager brewed by Elysian and aged sour ale (Foudre 13-30%) brewed at New Belgium.

    Pacific Northwest Food Adventures

    Plenty of pictures of the food I ate in Seattle and Vancouver already up on Flickr; I'll be posting write-ups of those and others through the week.

    23 October 2009


    I'd seen the recipes and had kept them at skeptical distance, but these days, considering the level of my bank account and the amount of dandelions in the backyard, I thought might as well try my luck at the proverbial free lunch.

    As it turns out, it's not too bad, and tomorrow I may collect more from my neighbour's yard (my backyard is little and I have used up all the dandelions) to make a second batch. Actually, it tastes quite a bit like kale, but with a thinner texture.

    Easy and fast:
    clean the dandelions (however much you may find in the yard) thoroughly to get rid of the dirt. Chop them in 1-inch strips, without roots. Blanch them in 2 cups of boiling water for 3-4 min. Drain and set aside.
    In a skillet, heat a bit of olive oil and throw in 2 minced garlic cloves for 30 seconds. Add the dandelions and cook for about a minute, making sure the oil covers the dandelions.
    And there you go! A nice side dish!

    21 October 2009

    Scallops and Asparagus on Capellini

    A big success this evening, using one of Marcella Hazan's recipes and one of my own devising.

    Sautéed Scallops with Rosemary and Lemon


    • 1 1/2 lbs. scallops (bay, or sliced small if sea scallops)
    • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced very thin
    • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary
    • salt
    • black pepper
    • 2 tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice


    1. Wash scallops and pat dry with a towel
    2. Put oil and garlic in skillet large enough to accommodate all scallops in one layer; turn on heat to medium
    3. When garlic turns a pale gold, add rosemary
    4. Stir quickly, add scallops, salt and grindings of pepper, and turn up heat to medium-high
    5. Cook, stirring frequently, for ~2 min. until scallops turn from translucent to flat white
    6. Add lemon juice, turn heat to highest setting, stir once or twice and serve


    Just fantastic. Make sure you serve over a pasta that will take the sauce well. Parmesan a good addition on top.

    Asparagus with Shallots and Garlic in White Wine Sauce


    • 1 lb. asparagus, tips trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 medium shallot, diced
    • salt
    • pepper
    • 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbs. butter
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1 tbs. lemon juice


    1. Heat butter on medium, until melted, in large sautée pan with lid
    2. Add garlic, cook until fragrant
    3. Add shallots, cook until translucent
    4. Add olive oil and cover all of pan
    5. Add salt and pepper grindings, and then half of the wine
    6. When wine is cooked halfway down, add asparagus and stir thoroughly
    7. Add remainder wine and lemon juice
    8. When sauce begins to simmer, cover pan and steam for 2-3 min.
    9. Transfer to serving dish, serve and enjoy!


    Again, great. Also make sure you use the sauce, it's killer, and combines well with the above. I used capellini and that worked excellently. Parmesan on top is good, too.

    14 October 2009

    What Happens When You Go Shopping After Day 3 of Comps

    This is what I just bought:

    (1) Box organic whole wheat penne
    (1) Box organic whole wheat spaghetti
    (1) Tube Dijon mustard
    (1) Bottle sunflower oil
    (1) Bottle sesame oil
    (1) Bottle canola oil
    (2) Roma tomatoes
    (1) Grease screen
    (1) Ciabatta loaf
    (2) Bars chocolate
    (5) Boxes Annie's Mac'n'cheese [to be fair - it was on sale and there were coupons and I was out]
    (1) Package Reed's ginger chews

    Of that, I can guarantee that... the ciabatta will get eaten tonight. The tomatoes turned into guacamole. Otherwise, presumably these things get used eventually.

    07 October 2009

    Fort Collins Brewery The Kidd Lager

    Fort Collins is a solid-if-underrated Colorado brewery, so I was pleased to see a brew of theirs I'd not yet sampled - The Kidd Lager - at Carrboro Beverage Co. Like its Colorado cousin 1554, it's a dark beer that's not a stout or porter, but where 1554 is an ale, The Kidd is, um, a lager. And a very good one. Smooth and with a hella-easy drinkability, the chocolate malts come through as flavor but not big-footing, and with an excellent, crisp lager finish. Really good stuff.


    I got a tip that the former head chef from Oiishi opened Momoyama and that it was pretty good so, when I was in the neighborhood around lunchtime owing to hard-drive failure, I stopped in.

    Momoyama is not good. Everything bland, fish not fresh (the tuna in particular was watery and nearly flavorless), and not especially cheap (nothing below $9 in the lunch specials). I would advise against going there.

    30 September 2009

    Terrapin Side Project Vol. 7: Maggie's Farmhouse Ale

    Starting with a nice yeasty nose, Maggie's Farmhouse Ale comes on with a great full flavor, not too winey and without the yeast totally owning it. Goes down very smooth with a spice finish; great with food. Also, as an aside: the Side Project cover art represents a huge improvement over Terrapin's standard, idiotically cartoonish themed-turtle-mascot labels. Just stop guys, it's difficult to take your (otherwise great) beers seriously if you have a dumb mad scientist turtle as the logo.

    Highland Clawhammer Oktoberfest Lager

    Meh. Pretty flat, neither very hoppy nor very malty, not sweet but not that flavorful. Not a winner.

    24 September 2009

    Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA

    During my time in Boston, Harpoon IPA was my real standby beer: very nice balance between hop and malt, crisp and refreshing with a solid copper body. Good local brew, and recently available here in NC – but it doesn't quite stack up to the West Coast IPAs in terms of pop, and Harpoon clearly knows it. So last summer they cranked up the Leviathan series, including the Imperial IPA, a Saison Royale, Big Bohemian Pilsner, Quad (a Belgian blend of yeasts), and Baltic Porter. All clock in at above 9%ABV, with the Quad at 11.75%. And I look forward to the others, because Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA is a real winner. Starting with a dynamite, sweet hoppy nose, it has a terrifically complex and balanced body: hoppy but not floral-through-the-nose, just enough malt to balance, a bit syrupy but not in an overly alcoholic way (you don't really taste the 10%ABV at all), and a great balanced finish with a bit of spice. One of the best little suprises recently: highly recommended.

    22 September 2009

    Med Deli Pita

    Good news - Med Deli is starting to make and sell their own pita from local flour. Take this together with Bagels on the Hill and you can almost convince yourself that this city has legitimate ethnic baked goods!

    15 September 2009

    Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen

    So very German. In this case that's a compliment – this isn't as much of an all-star as the Ayinger Oktoberfest Märzen (more on that one later), but it's a great Oktoberfest beer, incredibly smooth-drinking and tasty. You really could see how drinking enormous steins of this for untold hours would seem like a good idea.

    Weyerbacher Autumnfest

    Solid, just as pretty much every Weyerbacher I've had. The Autumnfest Ale has nice not-too-sweet malt, and good full body. These guys need to work on their graphic design, though – the labels are highly mediocre, and the logo font is just awful.

    10 September 2009

    Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

    Nice. Punkin Ale has a nutmeg nose, spicy start and savory finish. Probably not a drinking-all-night beer but a great fall beer that doesn't come on as stong as a Raison d'Etre.

    08 September 2009

    Bell's Octoberfest

    Really tasty! Bready, with a nice sharp tang and good bitter finish – not sweet at all. Definitely feeling the fall beers now, so several upcoming.

    07 September 2009

    Domaine du Jas D'esclans Côtes de Provence Cru Classé 2008

    A lovely white wine: full-bodied, nice vanilla flavor, a bit of acidity and fruit. Went exceedingly well with scallops and garlic – definitely recommended. Also, check out that saucy wolf logo!

    10 August 2009

    2005 Cloudline Oregon Pinot Gris

    Nice sharp nose, comes on a bit acidic with a full grapey body and a not-too-dry finish. Nice enough but doesn't stack up to the Four Graces.

    31 July 2009

    Yogurt Rosemary Roast Chicken

    • 3-4 lb. roasting chicken
    • 1/2 c. yogurt
    • several sprigs fresh rosemary
    • 2 oz. white wine
    • 4 slices bread, chopped or food-processed
    • 1/2 medium onion, diced
    • salt to taste
    • pepper to taste

    1. Mix yogurt, rosemary, wine and salt; cover chicken thoroughly, and place in covered container in fridge for several hours/overnight
    2. Heat oven to 450°F
    3. Stuff chicken with breadcrumbs, onion, salt and pepper; place on rack above roasting pan
    4. Roast for 15 to 20 min., reduce the heat to 375°F, and continue to roast for about 1 more hour for a total of about 1-1/4 hours for a 3-lb. chicken. For larger birds, add another 10 min. for each additional pound.
    5. The chicken is done when the leg wiggles freely in its joint and when the juices run clear from the thigh when you prick it and from the cavity when you tilt the bird. A thermometer inserted into the lower meaty part of the thigh should register 170°F.



    23 July 2009

    Mint Raitha

    Had all the necessary ingredients, so looked into a few recipes and combined them by bits and bobs.


    1 large cucumber, grated
    • 2 c. plain yogurt
    • 5 spring onions (white sections chopped and green sections reserved)
    • 1 medium tomato, diced
    • 1/4 c. chopped mint
    • 1 tsp. roasted cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. ginger, finely chopped


    1. Prepare ingredients
    2. Mix in large bowl
    3. Chill for at least 30 min.
    4. Enjoy!


    Very nice; a keeper.

    20 July 2009

    Fresh Summer Dinner: Baked Cod with Basil, Tomato and Garlic on Pesto Pasta

    Cod was incredibly on special this week at the Teet ($4.99/lb.!) so I stocked up. A day of tropical-style rainstorms had the world smelling green and my front yard smelling of basil, so it needed to be eaten. And it was, in two ways.

    Roasted Cod and Tomatoes with Basil and White Wine


    • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 thick cod fillets, about 4 to 6 ounces each
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
    • 1 tbs. fresh, chopped basil
    • salt to taste
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 1/4 cup dry white wine


    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
    2. Place the tomatoes in a large baking dish (large enough to eventually accomodate the cod fillets in a single layer). Drizzle the tomatoes with 1/2 of the olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until they are very soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
    3. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and turn the oven down to 350°F. Transfer the tomatoes to a small bowl, add the garlic and basil, toss to combine and set aside.
    4. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper, drizzle them with the remaining olive oil and place them in the baking dish.
    5. Pour the tomato mixture and wine over the fish. Cover the dish with foil and place it in the oven.
    6. Cook until the fish is just cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

    Pesto was the family fave, Marcella Hazan's food processor pesto (I did a half-batch on whole wheat pasta).

    Marcella's Pesto


    2 c. packed basil leaves
    1/2 c. olive oil
    3 tbsp. pine nuts
    2 garlic cloves, chopped fine before processing
    salt to taste

    after processing above:

    1/2 c. grated parmigiano
    2 tbsp. grated romano
    3 tbsp. softened, room temp butter (add last and hand mix in)

    when adding pasta:

    use a couple tbsp. of the hot water to dilute and soften the pesto before putting pasta into bowl with pesto.


    Incredibly delicious. A winner of a recipe on the cod.


    J.W. Morris California Gewürtztraminer 2007: Well, fine. Not terrible but definitely pretty sweet and none of the dry finish of an actually good Gewürtztraminer. But it's $4 and as a sweet wine on a hot day, totally fine.

    19 July 2009

    Founder's Devil Dancer

    A really, really big imperial IPA (12% ABV and 112 IBU – bigger than Dogfish Head 90 Minute, not as big as 120), Devil Dancer goes down shockingly smooth. Very tasty, nothing shocking though – neither overly hoppy nor malty, and pretty pricey at $18/4-pk. Worth checking out if you're into big IPAs, for sure, and should age well.

    16 July 2009

    The Four Graces Dundee Hills Pinot Gris 2007

    I wish I were feeling more articulate about this wine, because it's an excellent one. It's a very archetypal mid-high-level Wilamette Valley Pinot Gris: dry, a bit tart, full of flavor and only a bit sweet. It's an excellent wine, and a very good pickup at the $15-a-bottle level. Drink it.

    Carrboro Taco Review: Coma Rica

    Taco Provider: Coma Rica
    Location: NE Corner of W. Main and Weaver Street in gas station parking lot
    Taco Type: chicken
    Toppings: fresh onion, cilantro
    Sauces: red, green
    Tortilla: single corn, handmade right there
    Cost: $2/taco
    Summary: The chicken was tender, had obviously been marinated in something yogurt-and-tumeric-y, and super-tasty. The red salsa was spicy but not blindingly so, the green super flavorful and smooth. The single complaint is that the just-handmade tortilla fell apart halfway through each taco, but this is a minor quibble – the tortilla was excellent if not structurally sound.
    Overall rating: Excellent. Best chicken tacos I've hasd thus far in Carrboro. Had ordered a pupusa to go with one chicken taco but the mistake was just as well; I'll simply have to go back for more. They also have tortas (including Cuban) and something semi-terrifyingly translated as "Beef Rose."

    12 July 2009

    Sunday is Food Day: Catfish Rice and Carrot Soup

    Unsurprisingly, much of the time spent since my return to NC has been on food-related issues. There was a slight, er, incident in the freezer in my absence but the damage appears to be localized and minimal. Mostly I just needed to re-stock the larder and cook some food for what promises to be a busy week. Two-and-a-half recipes follow.

    Recipe one, lifted from Bittman mostly:

    Catfish with Rice


    • 3 cups fish or chicken stock (I used chicken, as it was what I had)
    • 1 1/2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
    • 2-3 medium tomatoes, cored, chopped and mashed (w/their juices)
    • 3 tbsp. butter, melted
    • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 1/2 cup Madeira or other sweet wine
    • 1-1 1/2 lb. catfish or other mild, firm fish, cut into bite-sized pieces


    1. Bring stock to a gentle boil in medium sacuepan or wide skillet with lid
    2. Add rice and bring to a boil
    3. Turn heat to medium-low and cover; cook for 15 min.
    4. Turn heat to low and stir in tomatoes with their juices, shallot, garlic, butter and Madeira.
    5. Gently fold in fish, cover, and simmer for 15 min.
    6. Serve hot and enjoy!


    Tasting halfway through I knew that this wasn't quite doing it for flavor – nice, but needed something more. So I began preparing a supplementary sauce (below); if I'd had to do it again I'd probably have added a bit of salt to the rice, along with some paprika and saffron. Maybe 1/2 chopped onion. However, all that said – it was really nice, delicate and all the tastes that were there, were good.

    Totally-Improvised Accompaniment Sauce to Above Dish


    • 4 oz. red wine
    • ajvar (several tbsp.)
    • 3 cippolino onions, diced
    • olive oil
    • 6 preserved capers
    • several large dashes paprika
    • fewer dashes cayenne


    1. Heat olive oil to medium
    2. Add onions and cook until soft
    3. Add spices, stir in, and then add half of wine
    4. Cook wine down for several minutes, stir in ajvar, and add capers and remaining wine
    5. Cook down to desired consistency


    Very nice and works quite well over the rice

    Carrot-Sweet Potato Soup


    • 4-6 carrots, cut into 1/4" sections
    • 1 sweet potato, cubed
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 4 cups vegetable broth
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced
    • 2 sprigs fresh sage, cut
    • 2 cups water


    1. Bring stock to low boil and add onions; cover and cook for 5-10 min.
    2. Add bay leaves, sage, cover and cook for 2-3 min.
    3. Add sweet potato and cook 10 min.
    4. Add carrots and cook 5 min.
    5. Uncover and add ginger; cook 10 min.
    6. Cover and cook 20 min, or until most of stock is cooked off.
    7. Add water, bring to boil for 2 min. and turn off heat
    8. Let cool and transfer to food processor; blend to desired consisentency
    9. Serve hot or cold


    Sweet, flavorful, and not planned at all. A win!

    Infusions and Cocktails: Update

    A vacation in the woods seemed a good time to demo several new infusions and cocktail preparations. Captive audience, friends who would presumably tell me the truth and apparently – mostly success. The biggest winner without a doubt was the fennel vodka infusion, both solo and as a mixer. Annoyingly, supermarkets trim the crap out of the fronds of fennel, meaning I'll have to wait until the farmer's market on Wednesday to replenish my stocks (not that that's the worst thing anyhow), but I also think that the freshness of the fronds was a major contributor to the success of the infusion.

    Typically I'm not a huge anis-flavor fan, but this came out less licorice and greener, fresher and sweeter. Really tasty chilled on its own, it was also the hands-down cocktail winner as follows:

    Tupper Lake Special


    • 1 1/2 oz. fennel-infused vodka
    • ice, crushed or cubes
    • large lemon wedge
    • bitters
    • vanilla seltzer (or plain)


    1. Add ice to cocktail glass
    2. Pour shot of fennel-infused vodka over ice
    3. Add dash of bitters
    4. Squeeze lemon wedge fully, and drop in drink
    5. Fill with seltzer
    6. Enjoy!

    Obscenely tasty and refreshing

    Another favorite of mine on the week:

    Mos Isley Bandit


    • 1 oz. fig eau de vie
    • 1 oz. cardamom-infused vodka
    • 1/4 oz. chili-infused vodka
    • 1/4 oz. dry vermouth
    • ice, crushed
    • lime wedge


    1. Pour all booze in shaker with ice; shake thoroughly
    2. Put ice in cocktail glass; pour shaker over ice
    3. Squeeze lime and add to glass
    4. Enjoy!


    Spicy and weird, bitter and sour, I was definitely the biggest fan of this drink. Not bad for anyone else but certainly an acquired taste.

    And a new summer number on my return:

    Carrboro Carass


    • 1 1/2 oz. clove-infused vodka
    • bitters
    • 3 oz. San Pellegrino Limonata
    • ice, cubed


    1. Mix as many shots of the clove vodka and bitters as you like in a shaker
    2. Put ice in cocktail glasses
    3. Pour shaken mixture over ice
    4. Add Limonata
    5. Enjoy!


    Unsurprisingly, clove and lemon work well together. Super-tasty.

    Next time, on Friar Lane infusions:

    ...currently working up the next batch of old favorites, and a few new special guest stars. Hint: rhymes with gin.

    24 June 2009

    Apricot-yogurt pie

    From this site:


    1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
    2. 1/3 cup sugar
    3. 1/4 cup sliced almonds, crushed
    4. 1/4 cup rolled oats
    5. Pinch of salt
    6. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    7. 1/4 cup canola oil
    8. 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
    9. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    10. 1/4 cup sugar
    11. 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    12. 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    13. 1/2 cup warmed apricot preserves


    1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, almonds, oats and salt. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the granola mixture and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 5 minutes; transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate and let cool slightly.
    2. Using a flat-bottomed glass, gently press the granola evenly over the bottom and side of the pie plate to form a 1/2-inch-thick crust. Freeze the crust for about 10 minutes, until completely cooled.
    3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for 25 minutes, until the filling is set but still slightly jiggly in the center. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pour the warm apricot preserves on top of the yogurt and gently spread in an even layer. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. Using a warm knife, cut the pie into wedges and serve.

    OK full disclosure: I have no idea what this pie tastes like. Today we went to the food market in Bratislava (more on that at a later post), and I found some nice apricots, but a bit too tangy, so I thought: pie! But having made a gooseberry pie ten days ago, I felt like changing from the pate brisee crust and switching to something that uses probably my second most favorite food: oats.
    So I did the crust above, cooked it ten minutes before placing the apricots on it, and it was omg-delicious. So much better than the basic flour-butter-water-fridge combination (though easy to memorize). Try it and tinker with the oil/butter ratio (i had good butter so i increased that). The result: with Schlage, or sweet whipped cream, the pie was pretty good.

    [Everytime I do a search for pie, the English sites give me something way too overworked. What I want is tarte. Is pie not the translation for tarte, or Anglo-pies are just different from Franco-tartes?

    Read this blog: Sichuan Oddysey

    My friend Kareem has a new blog/mission:

    My mission is to eat in every Sichuan restaurant in Manhattan and then report back to you here.
    Given that Sichuan food is the third best world cuisine (after Arabic food and the Birreria in Pilsen but before hamburgers and Per Se), this should be an exciting—if caustic and grossly unhealthy—project. A quick note about authenticity: one of the worst things about food writing and its culinary Orientalism is the idea that authenticity can be sought out, understood, and explained. As a blogger I find that stupid and lame, and as a student of cultural anthropology I find it troubling and full of incorrect assumptions about basically everything. So, I’m not going to describe this stuff as if there’s a central, essential Sichuanness that I can appraise and these places can emulate, I’m just going to talk about whether or not I like them.
    Right on, even if the ordering is wrong. So, you know: read it, add to RSS, etc.

    21 June 2009

    Sunday is Food Day: Vichyssoise

    I recently had the good fortune to happen upon a used copy of Mark Bittman's "The Best Recipes in the World", and it has already been a great resource; if you come across a used copy be sure to pick one up. For Bittman fans, it's a good approach to a cookbook: an enormous hardbacked monster of a book, 1000 recipes from everywhere, and especially useful if you've got ingredients but no specific direction you want to go. Yesterday at the market, there were leeks. I was contemplating buying only one at $0.50, but the hawker successfully upsold me to 5/$2. And a good thing, as almost immediately I realized that I needed to make some cold leek and (also market-purchased) potato soup. Which would be vichyssoise.


    • 5 baby leeks, white bits only, well-rinsed and sliced
    • 3 medium potatoes (Yukon Gold in this case), diced
    • 5 cups veggie stock (this one derived from collard stems, Swiss Chard chaff, fresh garlic bits)
    • 3 tbs. butter
    • 1 c. whole milk (calls for 1/2 c. cream, so just upping for more fat)
    • salt
    • pepper


    1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat; add leeks and stir occasionally for 5-8 min. Keep heat moderate and cook until leeks are soft
    2. Season with salt and pepper, and add the potatoes. Mix thoroughly, and cook for one minute
    3. Add the stock and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 30 min.
    4. Pour into large bowl and let cool to room temp, either in fridge or not.
    5. Pour from bowl into blender, and blend until smooth, adding milk now.
    6. Return to fridge and cool; serve cold and enjoy!


    TBD – still in process as of this writing.

    16 June 2009

    Traquair House Ale

    It'd been sitting on the shelves at Carrboro Beverage Co. and was marked down, so I decided to take a shot at the Traquair House Ale. It was nice! Smooth and a bit sweet, and it was clear that it needed to be drunk now (hints of vinegar coming in), but overall - quite nice, a good after-dinner beer.

    Rheinhessen Spätburgunder Rosé Eiswein 2004

    Another of the super-bargains from 3Cups some time back, this ice wine was simply a perfect treat. Not too sweet, wonderfully grapey, crisp and refreshing, and at only 8% ABV not a clobbery dessert wine. I went back in search of another bottle (for $10!), but of course they were all gone. Oh well - nice to have had the chance at all.

    01 June 2009

    Sausage and Beer

    The Sausage: Giacomo's Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage on challah with cheddar with horseradish mustard and collards with spring onions

    The Beer: Witterke White

    The Seat: My back porch

    The Verdict: Yes

    30 May 2009

    2006 Domaine Meyer-Fonné Pinot Gris Réserve Particuliére

    I'm generally much more of a red wine fan than white, but I have a real fondness for pinot gris, due to its being generally a tasty but not-too-sweet white, with a dry finish. So when I had a chance to pick up the Meyer-Fonné on sale for $10 (usually a $20 bottle) at 3Cups the other week, I leapt at it. And it's certainly a nice wine, and very much worth it for me at $10. But... I pretty much echo Stephen Tanzer's thoughts on the 2005 - this probably could have used a little more time, as it was pretty sweet (almost Chardonnay-y, even), fruity and didn't finish particularly dry. Tasty though, with a nice sharp mineral character in the nose and the body, but if I'm going to pay full price for a pinot gris, I'm definitely going to go with one of the incredibly reliable and delicious Oregon marques.

    Collard Greens and Spring Onions in Soy Sauce

    The collards and spring onions at the farmer's market here are and have been absolutely beautiful for months now, and I usually pick up some of both each week. This leads to the good-problem-to-have situation of needing to innovate within the delicious-green genre. Potluck the other week was a tofu stir-fry with Sriracha and soy, so I decided to make something that would complement that well, and this was a big, big success.


    • One bunch collard greens
    • 4 large spring onions (with big bulbs), or about twice/three times that many skinny spring onions
    • medium-heat oil of choice
    • a bit of sesame oil
    • 1 tbs. chili garlic sauce
    • sherry/marsala/similar sweet cooking wine
    • rice vinegar
    • soy sauce


    1. Set large pot of water to boiling, and boil collards for five minutes
    2. Remove collards from water and slice off stems; chop collard leaves and set aside
    3. Return stems to water and cook down into delicious broth – use for other dishes, freeze for later, etc.
    4. Separate spring onions into bulb section and stem section; slice stems cross-wise and set aside, mince bulbs finely
    5. Heat oil, mixed, in large pan or wok over medium; add minced onion bulbs
    6. When onions begin to soften, add soy sauce and mix thoroughly; cook for 1-2 minutes
    7. Add chili garlic sauce and rice vinegar and mix thoroughly; cook for 1-2 minutes, mixture should be a bit sludgy at this point
    8. Add cooking wine to taste, cover and cook down until about half of liquid is gone
    9. Add collards, mix thoroughly, adding more cooking wine if necessary; cover again and cook for 3-5 minutes
    10. Uncover and add sliced spring onion stems, mixing and cooking for only about a minute
    11. Serve and enjoy!


    Universally a hit. Just super-tasty, a bit of heat but not too much (this can obviously be modulated in either direction to taste), and a good compliment to a wide range of dishes. Very healthy and vegan to boot!

    16 May 2009

    Carrot cake to finish graduate school

    Oven preheated at 350 F. Butter 2 (9 inch) round cake pans.

    In a medium bowl: mix the dry stuff:
    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 cups sugar (yeah, right)
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • pinch of nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon salt

    In a large bowl: whisk the wet stuff:
    • Beat the 4 eggs lightly, then whisk in the canola oil (1 and 1/3 cups).

    Add the dry ingredients (of the medium bowl) into the large bowl. Stir. Stir in the carrots (3 cups shredded) + 1 cup chopped pecans. (optional: ½ cup raisins).

    Divide the batter into the two pans evenly, bake for 30-35 minutes.

    Then there's something in the recipe about frosting, which I don't believe in at all. What I did was bring one of the cakes to friends at school who were in a studying frenzy, while i kept one at home. You may want to experiment in the stacking of the two cakes, i hear cream cheese is good, but who knows, maybe marmite or peanut butter could make your cake more braincell-friendly.

    13 May 2009

    Penne col Sugo di Funghi Coltivati

    Mushrooms were on special at WSM today, and I immediately thought: that'd make a great pasta sauce. So I tapped Marcella's Italian Kitchen and was, of course, not disappointed. Slightly modified a mushroom penne recipe of hers (subbed out the anchovies and parsley, and a few other things) and it worked like a charm. Highly recommended.


    • 1 lb. fresh mushrooms
    • 1 tbs. butter
    • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 cup chopped onion
    • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
    • Salt
    • Ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup rosé
    • 1/2 cup canned peeled plum tomato, drained and cut up
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 lb. penne


    1. Wash the shrooms under cold water and pat dry
    2. Cut shrooms lengthwise, thinly
    3. Heat butter, oil and onions in large sauté pan (with lid, for later) on medium high heat
    4. When onions become translucent, add garlic
    5. When garlic turns golden, add shrooms, salt and many grinds of pepper. Stir thoroughly and lower heat to medium.
    6. Cook until shrooms have exuded all liquid
    7. Add wine; stir 2-3 times
    8. When wine has cooked off, add tomatoes and bay leaves. Stir thoroughly, cover and cook for 10 minutes
    9. Cook penne; transfer to serving bowla dn toss with mushroom sauce and a thin stream of olive oil
    10. Enjoy!


    Huge success. Highly recommended.

    08 May 2009

    Turkish Coffee

    I've been itching for an excuse to fire up my ibrik ever since I found one at PTA Thrift, and the opportunity came this week when I got some super-dark-roasty coffee. I searched around for a good cardamom-blend recipe and this one seemed good:

    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 tablespoon of extra finely ground coffee (powder consistency)
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar [might double this next time]


    1. Bring water and sugar to a boil in ibrik.
    2. Remove from heat and add coffee and cardamom.
    3. Return ibrik to heat and allow to come to a boil. Remove from heat when coffee foams. [This happens very quickly – make sure to pay attention]
    4. Again, return to heat, allowing to foam and remove from heat.
    5. Pour into cup, and allow to sit for a few minutes for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the cup. Cardamom pod may be served in cup for added flavor.


    I won't pretend that I'm up to the standards of dar-al-Islam, and I probably need to amp up the sugar (the cardamom pod also sounds like a good idea), but this is a damn tasty cuppa. Great for dark roasts, and makes me think again about getting a proper Turkish grinder from Mariakakis'.

    UPDATE: For cup two, added more sugar and the cardamom pod. Zing! Very very tasty. Thinking now maybe add a little chili powder? Or maybe add some of the chili schnapps for a caffé corretto-style business.

    02 May 2009

    MKD Foodstravaganza: Beer Reviews

    Terrapin Big Sloppy Monster: dark, rich, complex and sweet. A bit of hop finish with very strong bourbon tones – definitely a sipping beer, but a very very good one. Maybe not quite up to KBS or Paul's Day Off, but highly excellent.

    Duck Rabbit Paul's Day Off: a very limited edition from Duck Rabbit – no bottles and only a few kegs with no future plans for more. Very complex, cocoa tones and a crisp hop finish with steady bourbon flavor throughout. Really just an exceptional beer, and still available at Milltown for as long as the keg lasts – you should try it if you get a chance.

    New Holland Full Circle Kölsch-Style Beer: crisp, refreshing and not too yeasty as some summer beers can be. Nothing truly spectacular, but solid on all fronts - a very well-balanced summer beer, and recommended.

    Stoudt's Pils: an excellent Pils. Hoppy finish, a little sweet and very satisfying.

    Dogfish Head Burton Baton: very, very smooth for an imperial IPA - that would be the oak talking. A tasty beer.

    01 May 2009

    MKD Foodstravaganza: Recipes

    Of course MKD's visit is marked by incessant consumption of foodstuffs and beerstuffs. Recipes follow, and beer reviews below.

    Mexican (?) Chicken a la MKD


    • 2 split chicken breasts
    • juice of 1-2 limes
    • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
    • 1/4 of 1 medium white onion (sliced)
    • kosher salt
    • black pepper
    • chili powder
    • cayenne or other spicy pepper powder
    • (all spices to taste, don't over-do it)

    1. Place chicken in an oven-safe pan, cover with liquid and dry ingredients, toss to coat
    2. Dust top of chicken with a touch more pepper and/or salt
    3. Cover pan tightly with foil
    4. Place in oven preheated to 375F for about 25 minutes
    5. Remove foil, toss chicken in remaining liquid, and continue to cook uncovered until thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast reads 165-170 (another ~20 minutes)
    6. Let the chicken cool for at least 10 minutes, then using a fork, pull it into shreds.


    Delicious, tender, tasty.

    Mushrooms with Roasted Poblano Peppers

    • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
    • 4 poblano peppers, roasted, skinned
    • olive oil
    • kosher salt
    1. Roast poblano peppers. Place in paper bag to cool and sweat, remove skins and slice in 1/2" strips
    2. Wash and, if mushrooms are not already sliced, slice them
    3. Heat olive oil over medium heat in sauteé pan
    4. Add mushrooms, sprinkle salt over them, and continue adding olive oil until mushrooms are well coated
    5. Cook mushrooms until they begin to soften, and add peppers
    6. Mix peppers and mushrooms and cook for several more minutes until thoroughly combined
    7. Serve and enjoy!


    Super-good and, obviously, very very easy.

    Ancho-Roasted Jalapeño-Roasted Red Fresno Salsa

    • 4 dried ancho chili peppers
    • 4 large jalapeño peppers, roasted
    • 2 red fresno peppers, roasted
    • white vinegar


    1. Rehydrate anchos by setting in a bowl and pouring near-boiling water over them; let sit until they swell, and then chop roughly
    2. Roast jalapeño and red fresno peppers. Place in paper bag to cool and sweat, remove skins and chop finely
    3. Combine all peppers in a small blender and blend on low, adding small amounts of white vinegar to desired consistency (should be a usable paste)


    A real winner – smoky, spicy-but-not-too, and compliments a wide range of other foods. Very highly recommended.

    Refried Pinto Beans


    • 2 cups pinto beans (either from a can, or rehydrated)
    • 1 head garlic
    • 1 jalapeño pepper
    • 1/2 white onion
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
    • salt
    • water
    • vegetable oil
    1. Skin garlic, and either chop very finely or combine in blender with jalapeño and onion
    2. Heat oil to medium in large cast-iron skillet with high sides
    3. Add garlic, pepper and onion and fry in oil for 1-2 minutes
    4. Add pinto beans, salt and cumin. Mix all thoroughly.
    5. Add water covering beans thoroughly; raise heat to medium-high
    6. Allow beans to cook down, adding water periodically, for 30-45 minutes
    7. When beans soften, begin mashing (potato masher works well), adding more water and some more oil as necessary
    8. Beans will begin to stick to the pan – this is good, just make sure they don't burn too much
    9. When it looks like refried beans, you're done


    An old stand-by, this never does me wrong. Also works quite well with black beans, subbing in a section of fresh ginger root for the cumin powder.

    Roast Tomatillo Salsa


    • 2 lbs. tomatillos, de-husked and washed
    • 1 jalapeño pepper
    • 1/2 large white onion
    • 2 roast poblano peppers
    • 6 cloves garlic
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • white vinegar
    • salt


    1. Roast tomatillos and poblano peppers in separate pans (make sure the tomatillos are in a deep baking pan)
    2. Place poblanos in paper bag to cool and sweat, remove skins and set aside
    3. When tomatillos are blackened on top and beginning to fall apart, remove from oven and set aside to cool
    4. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, poblano and lime juice to blender and blend until fine
    5. Add tomatillos and their juices to blender; blend until all is combined
    6. Add several liberal dashes salt, and liberal pour of vinegar; blend all again, adding vinegar until reaching desired consistency (anywhere from very viscous to more liquidy)
    7. Enjoy!


    Been making this one a while and there was a little too much lime juice in this iteration, but adding the poblanos (which I did late) saved it. Very much a favorite, there's always some of this in the fridge.

    30 April 2009


    Yes, Rasika is the real deal. It was a special occasion, my bro's birthday, and so the hefty prices were not beyond the beyond, though I would hesitate making a habit out of it. The onion uttapam was unreal, the tandoori lamb chops fantastically tender and tasty, and the crispy spinach (flash-fried) in the palak chaat was simply astonishing, one of those "I've never had anything like this" deals. That being said: the chicken green masala was good-not-great, and ditto for the paneer. The dal makhani was oversold to me a bit - it was really good but I'm not sure the best I've ever had. The breads were very good, the chutneys and raita fine - Haandi does them all better. Rasika is an excellent restaurant, but guys, your Flash website is just crap.


    I agree entirely with Spencer Ackerman - DCNoodles is one of, if not the, best bowls of soup in DC. The wide rice noodles with crab and fish dumplings in spicy soup is fantastic, but our entire party was happy with their orders - the drunken noodles and pumpkin empanada are especially good. And don't listen to the comments section over there - $12/14 is beyond worth it for this food, and unless you're willing to drive out to Falls Church you are not going to get a better Asian soup/noodle opportunity for a similar price in DC.

    17 April 2009

    Lavender Vodka Martini

    Yes, that's right.


    • 1 3/4 oz. lavender-infused vodka
    • 1/4 oz. dry vermouth
    • splash of Alpenbitter
    • two dashes Angostura bitters


    Combine with ice in shaker, shake, serve up


    like a floral garden of booze. My revenge against this week's perfidious pollen.

    Vodka Infusions

    This post is a long-overdue follow-up to the series of experiments first referenced here. The results are in for the first rounds of schnappses, and they're relatively unambiguous. By far the best is the Horseradish Schnapps, recipe repeated below:

    Horseradish Schnapps
    1. Wash, peel and slice a small piece of horseradish root.
    2. Put the slices in a clean glass jar with tight-fitting lid.
    3. Cover the root slices with clear, unflavoured vodka - 40% alcohol content (80 proof).
    4. Let steep for 3-4 days in a dark place at room temperature
    5. Shake lightly and taste from time to time.
    6. Strain and filter your infusion into a clean glass bottle or jar with tight-fitting lid.
    7. Let sit for a few days and enjoy. Storing in the freezer works well.
    The only unambiguous failure of these infusions was the rosebuds - they just didn't take, other than giving a bit of a golden color to the vodka. That batch is currently infusing with a variety of other herbs - lavender and raspberry leaves - and I'll post updates on that when it's ready. There's also a straight-up lavender that's infusing, has imparted a great bluish color and lovely floral smell but not yet tasted. Other verdicts and directions (same as above save for time and quantities)

    Solo Stars

    • Cardamom: takes about a week or so for the pods (5-6 per 500 mL) to get properly infused, and very well worth it. Very warming, lovely nose, goes down really smooth and mixes well with a few others below (I'll get to that) - good served room temp or chilled.
    • Clove: given how much harder they are, give the whole cloves (8 per 500 mL) about two weeks to infuse. Very nice golden color and definitely best served chilled.

    Excellent Mixers

    • Ginger: You'd think this could carry it alone, but not quite. The palette of the ginger (half a small root section, sliced, two weeks) doesn't quite cover all the alcohol, so it's really best left as a compliment to others.
    • Chili: Fine as a shooter, but also lovely as a compliment to the horseradish in a dry, spicy martini. Several small chilis, two weeks.

    Mixed Drinks

    One great outfall of this is the Masalatini. Incredibly smooth and with a range of flavors you don't normally get in mixed drinks, I highly recommend keeping enough of each of these in stock to mix up a few of these.


    • 1 oz. cardamom schnapps
    • 1/2 oz. ginger schnapps
    • 1/2 oz. clove schnapps
    • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
    • several dashes bitters
    • Combine all in shaker with ice; mix thoroughly
    • Serve up
    So now it's all down on paper. Pixels, rather. Another recipe upcoming soon.

    19 March 2009

    Pork Soup

    LALLI BLAH BLAH makes an excellent suggestion. Note especially step 8:
    8. Cut the meat up. It will fall apart and the platter will look like a big delicious mess-pile. Cut the skin, which should be crunchy, into chip-sized pieces and serve them in a separate dish, so you can see which of your friends are smart and which don’t know how to live.
    That's correct. The same lesson applies if you inadvertently leave gizzards inside a chicken or turkey while smoking it.

    Four-Onion Pasta with Peas

    It being spring, onions are in great abundance. Or maybe it's not that it's spring, I just had a lot of onions in the house. Regardless, I was inspired to make an onion-based pasta dish in a cream sauce and it turned out quite well.

    • one pound farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked
    • one can peas (or, you know, just a lot of fresh peas)
    • 1/2 large sweet onion
    • 1/2 yellow onion
    • 4-6 spring onions
    • 1/2 cup shallots
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
    • liberal dose butter
    • salt and pepper to taste

    1. Boil water for pasta; cook pasta; drain and set aside
    2. Chop yellow and sweet onion into 1/2" sections
    3. Dice spring onions into 1/4" sections
    4. Dice garlic and shallots
    5. Heat generous amount of butter in large, high-sided skillet
    6. Add garlic and shallots; cook for 1-2 min.
    7. Add sweet and yellow onions; cook for several minutes until onions soften
    8. Add half of white wine and milk; stir well and cover, simmer for several minutes
    9. Add peas and remaining white wine and milk; stir well and cook for 1-2 min.
    10. Add pasta; stir until all ingredients are combined
    11. Turn off heat, add cheese and sitr until all pasta is coated
    12. Serve and enjoy!


    Very nice, and equally good cold and nicely congealed out of the fridge

    18 March 2009

    Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale

    From Scotland's Heather Ales comes the Ebulum Elderberry Black Ale. Heather's deal is making beers with traditional - read, very very old - methods and native ingredients, so Ebulum is "made from roasted oats, barley and wheat boiled with herbs then fermented with ripe elderberries." Which sounds pretty awesome, and is. Lots of flavor rich dark flavor with a nice sour-berry (not sweet) finish, best enjoyed at "room temperature" - this would be British room temperature, so that's ~55 degrees Fahrenheit - it's a nice departure from, well, pretty much everything.

    04 March 2009

    Counter Culture La Golondrina

    Having finally exhausted the stock of the beans that shall not be named, I decided to go with a can't-fail bean, the La Golondrina from Counter Culture. It was on sale at WSM and though I'd not had the beans before, I've had it on drip from the Daily Grind a few times, happy each time. I won't go full-on coffee geek here, but suffice to say that this is a very, very solid coffee, great flavor and body, no sugar or milk necessary at all. Highly recommended.

    24 February 2009

    Abita Bock

    With a fridge full of stouts, I am usually a happy man, but tonight's turkey burger dictated something more straight-up-drinking-beer. So despite missing the Abita tasting last week at Carrboro Beverage Co., I decided that I'd take Jason's advice and try their Bock - a leap of faith as I am generally not a super-malt-fan. Faith rewarded: very smooth, not overly malty and most importantly not overly sweet. Nice cereal finish, too. All the new Abita beers apparently went over well at the tasting, which I'm glad to hear - they were ahead of the curve some years back, but while they were doing their best not to get drowned out of business, the rest of the US microbrew market went and started making all sorts of crazy, hoppy business. But it seems they're back in the game.

    21 February 2009

    Larry's Bean Martin

    Larry's is an incredibly reliable roaster - their espresso brews up rich and creamy, never over-roasted, and I've had many of their other beans in the past all to excellent effect. Which makes Bean Martin even more disappointing - it was on special at WSM, and as Larry's is always a good bet it was an easy call. But Bean Martin is not a good coffee -over-roasted, unbalanced and ultimately just muddy. I was just coming off of finishing off some overly-old beans with no kick left in them and maybe that's affecting my palette but I don't think so - this is just way too far in the other direction, all roast and no middle. I suppose I'll have to give over my usual biases against milk and finish off the rest of the beans cafe au lait to attempt to balance out a bit.

    Don't worry Larry's, I'll be back!

    19 February 2009

    Lunch: Delicious Sandwiches

    Two small sandwiches for lunch.

    At top: Giacomo's salami and soppresetta topped with sauteed onions and roasted red peppers; opposite face English coastal cheddar on Trader Joe's Tuscan Pane [an excellent and cheap ($2.29) bread for sandwiches]

    Larger sandwich: Giacomo's salami and soppresetta topped on one side by parmigiano reggiano; on other side by sauteed onions and roasted red peppers, also on Trader Joe's Tuscan Pane.

    Verdict: Delicious, obviously.

    12 February 2009

    Kind-of Ma Po Tofu

    Inspired by this recipe from a few days ago and with blocks of tofu and unused spring onions (the latter one of many farmer's market lovelies neglected this past week while conferencing), I decided it was time to get a bit more serious about figuring out how to actually make tofu well. I believe I succeeded.

    • 1.5 blocks tofu, extra firm
    • 6 spring onions
    • 4 small dried peppers
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 6 cloves garlic
    • 2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
    • splash of chili Madeira (optional, obviously)
    • soy sauce
    • high-temp oil (I used canola - use peanut, or whatever you've got, just not olive)
    • 4 tbsp. flour/2 tbsp. corn starch (which I didn't have)


    1. Chop/dice garlic and set aside
    2. Dice spring onions into 1/2" pieces and set aside
    3. Crush dried chilis with sugar and set aside
    4. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and leave to steep in hot — but not boiling — water that you’ve gently salted.
    5. Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium heat.
    6. Add 2 tsp. chili garlic sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds or so.
    7. Pour in the tofu with about half the water and cook for a minute or so.
    8. Add garlic, cook for another minute
    9. Add the sugar, chilis, madeira and soy sauce
    10. Cover and simmer for five minutes.
    11. Add the spring onions, mixing until covered and continue to simmer for another two minutes or so.
    12. Add the flour gradually so it's evenly absorbed
    13. Serve over rice, and enjoy!


    Needed a little soy sauce to finish it off but then - truly excellent. Nice burn but not too much. Perfect comfort food.

    08 February 2009

    Rajiv-inspired hot chocolate

    Rajiv can't handle milk that well. However, after walking back from the Mall to Mt Pleasant for Obama's inauguration, we were both craving hot chocolate.
    Once back in my kitchen, the only non-dairy liquids my half-frozen brain could think of were soy milk and coconut milk.
    Rajiv provided the powdered chocolate. It turned out to be warm and reminded us of tropics, where we wished we could have teleported to...

    I've adapted the recipe a little this morning, after Rajiv sent me this link about vegan hot chocolate.
    -one part soymilk (3/4 cup maybe? I just eye balled it)
    -one part coconut milk
    -two huge tablespoons of cocoa powder
    -a teaspoon of brown sugar
    LOW heat. Whisk ahead. Do not let it boil or burn at the bottom. Should be thick and "grown-uppy".

    12 January 2009

    Founder's Porter

    As with all of the Founder's beers I've had recently, the porter is a solid, classy winner. The tagline for the beer is "Dark, Rich & Sexy" and there's a mysterious lady in black on the label - it doesn't disappoint, either, coming in with deep chocolate roast, lots of flavor, and a great bitter finish. Not too sweet as some porters are, and overall just a satisfying, balanced beer. This one just shipped last week, so be on the lookout for it.