Notes on prep: The beets alone weren’t all that better to me than if you were to just roast them in tin foil with olive oil, salt and pepper; The goat cheese mouse was good, but I found it to be more satisfying after letting the mixture separate from the whey in the container over night. It becomes super thick and much richer than when you pump it full of nitrous imo; The caraway tuiles are a complete waste time–virtually flavorless when combined with the rest of the components and a complete pain in the ass to make; I didn’t even end up using the rye crumble b/c I thought it was gross; The beet vinaigrette is amazing! Just make this and some roasted beets and strategically crumble some decent goat cheese around the plate, and save yourself the trouble of 40 some-odd steps.
I decided to go back and take advantage of a few new photoshop tools and re-edit a bunch of pictures from a few years ago. These are all from the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the most amazing places that we visited while on our bicycle tour in 2008/2009. If you like you can go back and read about the site HERE, along with a decidedly less, perhaps, over-processed set of photos. The main reason I’m posting them is that I am thinking about having a few ‘Archival Prints’ done of some of these (which is kinda expensive) and I just want to have them in an easily accessible place so that I can continue to hem and haw about the prospect of doing so without having to open them all individually. In any case, if you are ever anywhere near this place you should make it your mission to visit. I wish that I could go again tomorrow!
We almost picked up a pizza for dinner last night, but at the last minute decided to buy a premium 28 day dry-aged rib-eye instead. Needless to say, this is one of the better things that life has on offer, at least in terms of food. We don’t eat red meat very often in our house, and it is even less often that we splurge on insanely expensive cuts like this one. We usually buy bavette or one of the other miscellaneous ‘flap’ meats. Fortunately, we were parked right outside a specialty market, so we didn’t have time to reconsider.
I’ve taken this post as an opportunity to jump right into doing some of these sort-of augmentation design pieces I alluded to in my previous post. There isn’t much to work with around here, but I made due with a section of the Sunday NYTimes, and paper shopping bag. I like the first, the second was is just OK to me, and the third one is really just a cop-out I did real quick just to wrap it up. I have to spend some time playing with my baby today, after all!
This is billed as a Momofuku recipe, but the reality is that this is just the way it is done, at least on the stove. Grilling is a whole different story. The ribeye featured in this post is half the size of the one the recipe calls for.
Instructions for Cooking a Ribeye per David Chang of Momofuku
2 to 2.5 pound bone-in rib-eye steak, preferably dry-aged
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Few sprigs of thyme
3 garlic cloves
1 medium or 2 small shallots
Maldon salt or use any large grain sea salt you have.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
2. Heat a medium to large (10-12 inch) cast-iron pan over high heat.
3. While the pan is heating, season both sides of the steak liberally with Kosher salt. I would say more like how you’d sprinkle a bed with rose petals, rather than how you’d salt a sidewalk in New York in the winter. Then season with pepper.
4. When the pan is ready (really, really hot), place one side of the steak down and do NOT touch it. The steak should sizzle aggressively. After 2 minutes, using tongs, flip the steak onto its other side. The seared side should be on the golden side of browned. Sear the other side for another 2 minutes. Then, stand the steak up on its fatty edge (opposite the bone) and sear that for 30 seconds. Afterwards, turn it back down on the first side that was seared.
5. Place the steak in the oven and leave it alone for 8 minutes.
6.Protect your hands and remove the steak from the pan, then place it back on the stove over low heat. Add the butter, thyme, garlic and shallots to the pan. As soon as the butter melts, start basting! Use one hand to tilt the pan at a 45 degree angle so that the butter pools at the bottom. Then with the other hand, scoop the liquid butter up with a large spoon and bathe the steak. Baste constantly for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes or so, the steak will be rather rare. If you like it that way, stop now and move to step 6. If you like medium rare (which is your next and last option), keep basting for another minute or two. Move it to a plate and let it rest. Make sure to leave the remaining fat/butter in the pan and reheat it once the steak is ready to eat.
7. Lastly, slice the steak. Cut the steak off of the bones and slice against the grain (perpendicular to the bone) into half-inch thick slabs. Sprinkle on some Maldon salt and drizzle the remaining fat/butter over the pieces. Serve with potatoes and drippings.
Once I decided to give up my social networking page, I came to discover that there is a lot of other things going on around the interweb. I’ve been looking at A LOT of design/styling pages lately, and I have to admit that some of the work out there is mildly intimidating. I suffer from a severe lack of style. My desk is all tangled cords & wires, some papers, and a beer can. While I have to admit that I can make individual things look beautiful or delicious from time to time, I also have to admit that I have virtually no skill for capturing or creating a beautiful setting or scene. Sometimes, I get lucky, but I would like to learn to be able to design and coordinate something so simple as a truly striking plate setting. The unfortunate side-effect of this desire is presumably another box (or many boxes *ugh*) of stuff. Maybe weird stuff that I would never otherwise use. This may be a mild artistic crisis. In the meantime, I figured out how to isolate a single color and make the rest of it black and white in photoshop today. It works for other colors besides red. Luckily, I didn’t have any photos of roses or red coats to experiment on. I think it’s great for greens. I might start leaning on this a bit too heavily in the future.
Before we left the house I managed to give her a nice big bottle which knocked her out for a little while. She was getting a kind of fussy as I was preparing for us to leave, but then she fell asleep on my shoulder. When she’s asleep is the best time to sneak a bottle in. Otherwise, she rejects it outright.
After we hit the bank and the post office we walked past a cool mural at FAB PDX down on Distillery Row. I tried to talk her into a few distillery tours, but she told me she only likes tequila, and none of those guys are making that yet.
So we headed down to the water front and checked out the Hawthorne Bridge. You can get right down on the water via these little mini-piers they have set up. They are pretty cool spots, pleasantly undulating in the currents of the water. There were two other guys down there. One was reading and the other was fishing and enjoying a cold one.
After that we headed over to Pioneer Courthouse Square to check out this protest the Radical Left was having this afternoon. The theme was ‘How is the War Economy Working for You?’ Lucia thought it was a bore, and decided to sleep through it. But, you can’t expect a little noodle to understand these kinds of things yet. Her dad wanted to go down because he has a few strong feelings and opinions about what is going on in this country. Unfortunately, I was turned off by the scene. There is a reason these folks are on the fringe. Stoned, disheveled, and crazy isn’t a good look for anybody (except maybe really hot babes, of which there was decidedly none here), let alone folks who are trying to save the world. It just comes off as amateurish, and basically laughable, which is how most people I overheard passing by on the street read the event.
I’m sure this could sway a few minds, though:
After that we headed over to Powell’s to pick up a few books. Bringing a stroller into that place is not advisable, but we stopped giving a damn about people’s opinions of stroller pushers a few months ago. People melt when they see this baby, anyway, lol! She slept through this particular nightmare shopping experience. We bought the Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty. We love Ottolenghi around here these days. Fabulous, fresh and and easy seasonal recipes abound! Highly recommended!! We also got a copy of the latest GRANTA, this quarters theme being ALIENS (the illegal or otherwise immigrant kind, mainly) then got the hell out of there, and back down to the water-front. Lucia was getting antsy for a bottle by this point, but she has a pretty sophisticated palette, and scoffed when I offered her a bottle of cold milk. We were lamping in front of the Steel Bridge as she rejected my meager offering.
On our way back to the house Daddy decided to check this bombed-out warehouse in the SE Industrial District.
Lucia thought it would be funny to re-enact the scene from Tropic Thunder where Tugg Speedman gets riddled with bullets running back to the helicopter. Not really sure what brought that on, but we went with it. She’s a funny bird.
Speaking of funny, Lucia couldn’t get enough of the Sunshine Room, even after I told her that this is where heroin-chic junkies ascend to the outer-realms. I made her promise she’d never wear neon-orange lipstick, unless she grew up to be eccentric and rich.
This is when it finally dawned on her where daddy had taken her:
I picked up a hefty bag of golden beets the other day. They were all very small, none larger than say a golf ball—-perfect for pickling! This is probably my favorite home-made pickle that I’ve done so far. I make them whenever I can procure a large number of golden or chiogga beets for relatively little money. (Sometimes beets can be extremely expensive, and other times not.) It’s super easy, and the flavor the beets take on is amazing.
• 1-2 lbs small beets of any variety (enough to fill a 1 quart mason jar)
• Olive Oil and salt & pepper
• a few sprigs of tarragon
• one small bulb of fennel
• a few thick strips of orange zest
• 1 cup champagne vinegar (or other similar variety)
• 1/2 water
• 1/2 sugar
Preheat the oven to 375º. Toss the beets in a bowl with olive oil and some salt and pepper until they are evenly coated. Fold all of the beets up into some tin foil, and put into the oven, baking for about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. Once they are done baking, allow them to cool until you are able to handle them. Then peel and trim the beets making sure they’re nice and clean. Cut the fennel into thin strips, a bit larger than say a matchstick. Put the beets and fennel into mason jar along with the orange zest and about 3 or 4 sprigs of tarragon.
Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a small pot, and bring to a simmer. Then pour it straight into the mason jar. The liquid should come right up to the brim (or at least pretty close!) Put the lid on the jar, and allow it to come to room temperature, then put it into the fridge for 2 days before eating for full pickle effect. (You can eat them sooner, if you want, but the pickling process takes a few days.) These last forever so long as they’re kept refrigerated, but I don’t reckon they’ll last too long. . .
I have had the perfect pancake recipe right under my nose for at least 4 years and never known it. It only took Gabrielle to make this crazy irrational decision to buy 3 lbs of blueberries. Naturally, the onus falls unto me to figure what to do with the bulk of them. And over the years, I’ve more or less given up on making some pancakes at home. The recipes are always a failure, or ridiculously complicated, or from a box, which is fine if you like your pancakes to be super lame. [Note: apparently this is not always true.] The short story is I used to get my pancakes out to breakfast, but no more! The best pancake recipe that I have ever made personally is in Chez Panisse Fruit, one of the many books by that highfalutin old windbag Alice Waters.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Chez Panisse/Alice Waters empire. While I acknowledge that they have done wonderful things in terms of the dynamics of being a restauranteur, and for food culture in general, I usually find Mrs. Waters pompous conveyance of her ideas to be a total turn-off. I’m sure that it appeals to the well-heeled among us, but if you really want to make a difference, you must appeal to everyone. I’m willing to over-look that kind of thing though because I’m on such a high-plane, aesthetically. And, the truth is, Chez Panisse does have some great recipes.
I actually made these ones with left-over batter from yesterdays breakfast, and they’re still killer. The top one is blueberry peach, and the bottom one is with blackberries. I don’t go in for that fruit-on-top approach. I like my berries in my pancake, dig? (Sorry, I just watched The Mack.) These are pure buttermilk joints, too. None of that mixture of different milks business. I don’t really drink milk, and as I mentioned above, I never really made pancakes, but every time I would make the venture to do so, I would always end up with a spoiled carton of buttermilk and vitamin d both up in the fridge. Forget all of that noise. I’m taking about pure buttermilk pancakes—-with a gang of berries up in ’em.
• 2 cups Buttermilk
• 2 large eggs
• 6 Tablespoons Butter, melted
• 1.5 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour (I use cake flour)
• 1 Tablespoon Sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• Berries, fruit, whatever you like–look to Kenny Shopsin for inspiration
Beat the eggs into the buttermilk, then stir in the melted butter. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined. The batter should be a bit lumpy.
I’m not going to describe how to cook them, but I will say that I have been using 8″ non-stick skillets to cook mine, and they turn out pretty fucking perfect. I guess I’ll also add that you should add the berries onto the pancake as the first side is cooking, as opposed to the perhaps more logical approach of stirring the berries directly into the batter. Make these pancakes. If you have better ones I want to know about them and I’m dead serious.
Right up front, I don’t know hardly anything about noodle bowls, but come to find out this one is pretty slammin’! During the course of making this, I also found out that there’s ’nuff David Chang haters, but also more than enough folks on the other side of the fence in the clash. I’m not into the war, but I am into sick cookbooks. I’d been toying with the idea of picking up Momofuku for a bit now, but cookbooks cost some serious coin. I’d flipped through it a couple of times, but this last time I flipped to the page with shrimp and grits on it and couldn’t resist. Matter fact, I went out and bought a bag of grits too! But I digress, this post is about the Ramen bowl, which basically consist of the first 7 or so recipes in the book that are all dag easy, excepting that the broth took forever.
I’m about following recipes they way they’re written the first time I do them, so I followed this bugged out criteria that called to bring two sheets of Konbu (dried seaweed paper) to a boil then to let it steep for 10 minutes, before I took those out, and put in two cups of dried shiitake’s, brought it back up to a boil, and let it simmer for somethink like 30 minutes, before I removed those and put a whole chicken in the pot and let it poach for an hour. If someone knows and can explain the logic of doing all this in stages and would like to share their knowledge, I would be pleased to receive it! In the future, I’ma just put all that shit in the pot at the same time and save myself an hour of pot-watching.
During the hour that the bird’s poaching, you’re meant to roast 5 lbs of meaty, meaty pork bones in a hot hot oven. I came so close to buying some fancy pork bones, at my fancy butcher, but luckily they were out. I went back to the asian market where I should have bought them in the first place, and when I rolled up on the meat case they had a massive, just massive pile of neck bones piled up in the first sub-segment of the case. They looked straight brutal when they were whole. The kind lady saved me a good deal of chopping by insisting that she cut them down for me. The above bag/spread was originally 3 huge neck slab pieces that didn’t even remotely resemble necks. Later when I got home I come to find out the book calls for neck bones as the best possible meaty bones to use, so I was feeling pretty chuffed about that–all the more so as I slid the baking sheet into the oven and the house was quickly over-taken by the aroma of fatty caramelized meat-nugget goodness.
But as shamefully satisfying as that was, the recipe for this broth calls for an equally shameful foil. Yo, they want you to put 1lb of smoked bacon up in this broth for 45 minutes, then toss that shit. For real. Of course, I didn’t throw it out. The bacon slab is just lamping up in my fridge right now. It’s just that I don’t understand so many things about this ramen broth, but I’m doing them anyway! I am blindly making this rich, luxurious broth, and, hypothetically, flippantly discarding huge chunks of perfectly good bacon meat. I feel like writing a letter demanding a rivision!
But that’s what you’re supposed to do—-once the chicken is poached, and the bones are browned, you pluck the chicken from the broth, and the bones take it’s place, along with the bacon. Pull the bacon after the 45 minutes, and set the bones to a gentle simmer for upwards of 7 hours, replenishing the water level from time to time. In the last 45 minutes throw in a halved onion a couple chopped carrots, and a bunch of scallions. Then strain it. That’s the Ramen Broth. The recipe is supposed to yield 5 quarts. Now, I know what your thinking: WTF a boiled chicken. Word, ya’ll. I had one of those on my hands.
As the bones and bacon began to simmer away, I got to work on pulling all the meat off of the chicken carcass, and somewhere along the way I thought: Why. . . Khao Man Gai! We have a fantastic food cart in Portland that’s called Nong’s Khao Man Gai that’s serves this as it’s only dish. Nong’s admittedly blows my attempt out of the water, but it still turned out really tasty as an on-the-fly dish. It goes like this: You poach a chicken, then you make some rice with the poaching liquid. In the meantime, mince up some ginger, garlic, a chili pepper, some vinegar, some sugar, and some miso paste. I did all that in my little mini-Cuisinart food processor. I made some rice with the ramen broth when it was finished and put it together with some chopped chicken, and the above garnish, and maybe an extra small ladle of broth to moisten it up a bit. So good and so simple!
Having cleared the bones of most of their meat, I set to using them to make Taré or Japanese Barbecue Sauce. I love preparations like this because they just look so fucking evil! It a dark, pungent cauldron of broken bones—so visceral! Taré is made by roasting some chicken bones in a hot oven for about an hour, then transferring it to the stovetop to deglaze the fond before, in the case of this recipe, combining and bringing 1 cup sake, 1 cup mirin, and 2 cups light soy sauce to a gentle simmer, allowing it to reduce to a slightly syrupy consistency. It’s finished with a few twists of fresh black pepper. Stated: this is the saltiest concoction of all-time! But that’s what it’s used for here—to season the ramen broth. It lends a rich, smokey quality that is definitely unique, but you have to go easy with it. The saltiness is no joke.
Meanwhile, I had a nice piece of wild boar belly that I’d thoroughly rubbed down with equal parts kosher salt, and sugar cold chillin’ in the fridge. I used boar belly because all my go-to places were actually out of pork belly, which is insane! Pork Belly has been getting soooo popular, but no doubt, ’cause it’s hard to fuck -up because of the high fat content, and is just so so tasty! Any way, my man Dave down at the Hawthorne Pastaworks hooked me up with a 3lb piece of boar belly. I cut off a portion of it to make some bacon, and roasted the rest. The instructions call to roast it at 450º for an hour, then to turn the heat down to 250º, and slow cook it for another hour and a half. I guess you could say it turned out a bit on the crisp side, but I kind of liked it that way. It wasn’t charcoal black or anything, and I thought that once it was in the ramen bowl, and mixed in with everything else, that it lent a nice flavour component. For a further technical discussion on this check here, as well as the rest of the blog. In any case, this stuff is good. A little denser than your typical pork belly, I think, but no less satisfying. On one level, I think it might even be better. It was fine substitute. In order to get precise slices of, it is recommended to put it in the fridge for a few hours after cooking so that it can solidify, then after slicing to fry it up in a pan. Try to save some for the Ramen!
By far the trickiest part of all this was the technique for poaching eggs in their shells, which works, and works well. I had to shoot a bunch of runny egg oysters before I got it right, though. The book says that they need to be in a water bath between 140 and 145º for about 40-45 minutes. As you can see, my thermometer is basically spot on 140, maybe 139º, and that’s where I held it for 45 minutes, but when I cracked my first egg to check it out, the damn thing was a runny mess. I ended up letting them bathe for almost an hour and a half, fidgeting with my (electric) stove’s nob until I hit on a number closer to 145. Eventually, I popped one open and it was perfect. I think those few degrees make a huge difference! So if you try this, err closer to 145º! But it works, it works! You can have perfectly poached eggs right from the shell!
This is the killer. I will probably always have this in the refrigerator now. This is beyond simple: Take a piece of pork shoulder as big as you like, and rub it down completely with an equal mixture of kosher salt, and sugar—and any other spice you think might be good, if you want to. Put it in a baking dish covered with plastic overnight in the fridge. In the morning, dump out any of the juice that way have accumulated, and and set the oven to 250º. Put it in the oven, and go to work or something. It’s got to be in there for about 6 hours. When you come back to it, just tear a piece off the salty-sweet crust and say it’s not killer!
That just about covers everything on the cooking side, except for a fresh veggie or two. I used some sugar snap peas because I had them. The other components used for garnishes are scallions, nori paper, sliced bamboo shoots, which the book calls to stew in a bit of sesame oil and light soy sauce with a chili (but I don’t think it’s worth the effort. They’re still bamboo shoots outta can. I’m not really feeling them, myself)—and that weird fishcake stuff, that I’m usually NOT down with because it often comes in these humongous slices, but I was OK with this time because I found a slim, little bar of it only about as wide as a nickel. It’s the thing with the pink swirl, which is also nice. Also, I didn’t make the noodles from scratch, and I bought a bag that may or may not have been authentic ramen noodles, but they looked the most ramenish of all the many noodles that were on display. As can be seen in the pic above, I’ve got everything ready to go, I just have to throw it in the bowl. Bow! Boil the noodles! Drain the noodles and put a huge portion in the bowl, and ladle 2 or more cups of broth into it, then add all the other components: 3-4 slices of pork belly, a good mound of pulled-pork, a helping of sliced scallions, and the bamboo shoots, your delicious seasonal vegetable of choice, a few rounds of the fish cake, a couple sheets of nori paper, and your perfectly poached egg. Also, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you’re hungry! As in straight-up starving, because this is so much food! Finally, I went for a run about 4 hours after I ate this, and that was a big mistake. Plan on being ridiculously full for the rest of the time that your awake if you ever make this—matter of fact, it will probably put you to bed!
Usually when I go out to see a gig I can hardly walk on my own, but lately I’ve given up on drinking for a couple of reason, and so I ventured out this past Sunday to see Indian Jewelry at the Holocene in Portland, OR in single-vision bliss. The only real downside to this is that there was only one Erika Thrasher instead of two (or three!) However, their stage show generally remedy’s the deficit with its chaotic strobe light madness, and brilliant pummeling bass lines. The last time I checked them was in Atlanta at the Eyedrum, where they were admittedly way the eff further out, but on the other hand, the crowd at that show weren’t a gaggle of art school fashionistas with actual turkey feathers up their ass. I like double entendres, and the Holocene picked a good one–I generally can’t stand the people it draws, it’s such a hollow scene (ha ha!) Basically, it was me and two other girls up front loosing our minds or something, while just about everybody else sulked or posed. People should stay home and sulk. Or at least stay in the bar area. Maybe I’m just not arty enough? I spend most of my free time staring at my tomato plants or ranting about scenes, so that could be the case.
Indian Jewelry is a noise band from Houston, TX, that’s been around for quite a while now. I personally don’t think ‘noise band’ is an apt description; post-apocalyptic pop band is better. They’re kind of like The Velvet Underground, Spaceman 3, and Iggy Pop all wrapped into one package, and they outshine their noise band contemporaries because their songs have real substance, like hooks and melodies. The core members are Erika Thrasher and Tex Kerschen, around which an endless roster of musicians orbit, sometimes changing as often as tour date to tour date as they travel from city to city. Being prone to such mutability, it’s always a surprise what you’re in for at one of their shows, and a good reason to never miss them when they come to your town. On the off-chance that you like the song in the video below, it can be found on their album Invasive Exotics, which is all killer. Going South is for my money their best track. They have many, but I owe this tune a special debt of gratitude for helping me push across that dense, humid, sludgy/swampy wasteland in the eastern part of North Carolina last summer when I rode my bike across is. I guess technically I was headed east, but that’s neither here nor there. When this song is pumping full blast into your head, you won’t know or care where you are.
This video is from a show they played a while back in an abandoned mansion somewhere. Make sure that your computer speakers are turned up all the way. Also, don’t play this if you are prone to epileptic seizures (not joking.)