Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's not a quiche!

Time for another installment of our weekly recipe feature. I even surprise myself. (I know it is only two weeks in a row now but you have to take pride in the little things too.)

This is another, rather simple one. My perception of simple is a bit off however. I tend to stay away from any prepackaged or half 'home-made' crap and prepare everything from scratch. But there is nothing about this which is complicated or requires any special equipment. (you will notice that it has been cooked in a small sauce pan. This is by no means a requirement but as I don't bake much I simply do not have a pie pan. Yes it is on the list.)

This is a great breakfast idea however as it can be prepared ahead of time and travels well, for those who like to eat on the road. Start with a simple dough, just a single egg and about 3/4 to 1 cup of flour. Using the well method, combine the two. As they come together, add more flour until ingredients are loosely combined. It took me at least another 1/2 c of flour for the rolling process. Not rocket science though. If it is sticking, add more flour. Roll the dough to appropriate thickness, 1/4 inch? I don't know. Just until it looks right.

The filling consists of mostly Ricotta. In fact, this whole thing was just an excuse to use up some left over Ricotta from a failed lamb experiment last week, combined with some inspiration from Mario. Chop a couple of garlic cloves, a bit of white onion (red would certainly work as well) some parsley and whatever else makes you happy. I put some chili flakes and fresh thyme in there as well, mostly because it was there. Then I added some salami and bacon. I didn't cook the bacon first, and it was uncurred. I am still alive so it seems that cooking beforehand is unecessary. Salt and pepper to taste. Not too much salt as there is plenty in the meats. Oh yeah, add some parm reg as well. Mix these together. Then one egg and a handful of flour to bind. Once mixed, pour into the pastry shell which should by now be in a pie pan (or sauce pan if you like.) Top with a bit of Mozzarella and bake for 25-30 minutes at 400.

Garnish with a bit of freshly chopped parsley and serve warm or cold, as you like.

Quiche [keesh]
a pielike dish consisting of an unsweetened pastry shell filled with a custard and usually containing cheese and other ingredients, as vegetables, seafood, or ham: spinach quiche.

See, no custard, no veggies, not a quiche! Does sound good with some spinach though.



Wednesday; early lunch

What trip to Seattle would be complete without a visit to the promised land? Salumi. For the unitiated, this is an easy place to miss. Just a small store front on a curious, out of the way street in Pioneer Square. Near the new stadiums, most probably just pass it by on their way to the freeway or just never venture down here at all. What a shame. This is, as nearly all food people know (in and out of Seattle) the pinnacle of domestic cured meats. Though Armandino's creations can be found elsewhere, places like Jar in LA serve Salumi on Mondays, being at the restaurant for lunch is an unrivaled experience. It is just a tiny place. Long an narrow, with a single counter and the product prominently on display as you enter. Behind the Counter are prepared the most delicious sandwiches, possibly anywhere.
We arrive a little late, as we got started later than we would have liked and made the obligatory visit to Top Pot for breakfast. Worried that there would not be enough time for proper digestion, I tried to hold back at breakfast but to no avail. The fritter is just too good. No worries however, as there is never a problem with appetite when at Salumi. My wife was able to snap a shot of her's being prepared. She got the Porchetta and I the Cottechino. (I can't remember if they have two ts or one and word doesn't recognize either word so, close enough. Besides, who would quibble over spelling when a beautiful piece of pork is placed in front of them?)

These sandwiches never dissapoint and today was no exception. I have to say that whatever type of plant matter they put on the Cotechino (there, now I've covered all the bases) was unnecessary though it did add quite a nice bitterness to compliment the somewhat sweet sausage. The spread that they use is quite simply amazing. I have heard them say that it is just olive oil, bread crumbs and garlic (one of them also has parsley) though I have tried and never been able to recreate anything near to it. Believe me I have tried. Served with fresh Mozzarella, it is wonderful.

While it is sometimes difficult to think past the sandwiches, the place itself is quite charming. Relatively unadorned, pictures of Armandino and Cullatello hang on the walls while the sound track to the Godfather plays softly. Wine by the glass is available on an honor system. A large bottle is placed in the center of a long table and patrons pay on their way out for each glass. The whole experience is rather communal. The place is large enough to accomodate only about 15 people. Most at the long, center table where space is too valuable to afford a 'comfort seat' between strangers.
None of this matters however when holding a Salumi sandwich in hand. All else fades away as diners indulge in cured meat perfection. In, of all places, downtown Seattle. Go figure.

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Wednesday; breakfast

I know this could be a little confusing as it is now Wednesday. However, the topic (as will the content) refers to last Wednesday, November 21st. The day before Thanksgiving. As usual when in Seattle, we had a plan to wake up early and get to Top Pot around 8. Of course we didn't actually get out of bed until after nine and by the time we actually walked over there (about 14 blocks or 1.0 miles) it was ten or so. We arrived so late that they were already out of raised glazed doughnuts. She got the cake instead and I, as usual got the apple fritter. I am not sure why, but it bothers me when she eats off of my plate. Even though it is expected by now and really, I never finnish the fritter. Still, it is mildly irksome. No matter. The coffee was adequate this time. It has been good at times here but that is not why people come anyhow. It is for these delicious doughnuts.
Even the pidgeons come to have breakfast here. We saw, probably the fattest one I have ever seen. Of course I have never seen a midwest pidgeon. If they follow the trend set by the human inhabitants of the midwest, they are no doubt huge. This one though, was not a big bird, it was just fat. No qualms about a carb filled morning meal however. After breakfast, another brisk walk to the hotel to collect batteries for the camera. (Fuck this thing goes through batteries!) Then it is off to see Armandino!!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Looks like we made it

It is true, we have arrived safely into Seattle just last evening. Fortunately we had the foresight to pick up some sushi to take with us on the flight. Kind of surprised that no one threw fit about the soy sauce. We did have to drink the miso down in the cab though. Anyway, no matter, we are here.
As soon as we arrived at the hotel, dropped our stuff off in the room, which was surprisingly large and nicely put together, we were off to dinner. I say surprising not because the room was just nice. We nearly always stay at the Alexis when we are in town because all of the rooms are very well done. The nice thing is they are also nearly all different and we got an exceptionally nice one this time.
Our first stop in Seattle, Frontier Room in Belltown. Fairly quite, it being a Tuesday evening, we found a booth in the back, bar area. It is a very interesting space. One of these long narrow restaurants, it opens up into a bar in the back with cow skin booths along one wall and a long, communal table running down the middle of the room. Against the far wall is stacked a large pile of fire wood.
The two of us being new to flogging, we made a rather rookie mistake and ordered the same thing. Can you blame us though really. This place has one of the best pulled pork sandwiches in Seattle. Granted this is not a heated competition. The pork was just a bit dry but this is no doubt incentive to add great amounts of their terrific BBQ sauce. It is spicy and just a bit sweet and goes so very well with the sandwiches. Truly the sandwich is just a BBQ delivery device in this instance, as most things are in my opinion. French fries, Salmon burgers, breakfast cereal, all of them just an excuse to eat BBQ sauce. The sandwich itself is quite good though. We decided to switch the standard, cornbread side for greens and beans. The greens were a bit salty, even for collard greens but the beans were very good. Also qutie sweet and smoky. OK, I can't seem to add any more pictures so I will continue later. Besides, the left over pizza from Via Tribunali last night is calling me.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Weekly recipe

This title may turn out to be rather misleading. I have been going back and forth with the idea of posting recipes regularly. You see, I am somewhat secretive with my cooking. I won't even give them up to my wife. This secracy is further enforced by the fact that I never really use recipes and can't actually recall what goes into the fare I produce until I am actually in the act. As a result, I don't really have exact measurements and often forget to include items when I try to remember and write them down.
However, this is one that I pinched from a cooking show anyhow, so I figured, what's the harm. Fortunately, my wife was able to get a picture before it was devoured hastily. (A rare occurance in our household.) So here it is. It is amizingly simple and very delicious. I hope you enjoy.

To start, get a large pot going on meduim heat as you chop one, large yellow onion. One of those grapefruit sized ones. Rough chop and, by this time the pan should be hot, add a healthy amount of olive oil (for this site and for all of my cooking, I use extra virgin olive oil. That is a lot to type over and over again though so I will just type olive oil, or sometimes even just OO and you should assume extra virgin.) Enough to cover the entire bottom of the pot. Throw in the onions and chop a good amount of garlic. This can be adjusted to your own taste for garlic. We both love garlic and consume quite a bit of it. I usually add three to five large cloves. Throw in the garlic and wash six to eight roma tomatoes. (If you can't find fresh romas, where do you live?? You should move.) Slice tomatoes in half and add to the pot. You need to move all the other stuff, onions and garlic, to the sides of the pot and place the tomatoes, cut side down, directly on the bottom of the pan. Damn! You see, I've done it already. When adding the onions and garlic, be sure to add some salt. Probably about a teaspoon or so. This will cause all of those lovely juices to exude and comingle. Fresh ground pepper also goes into just about everything I make, even the breakfast cereal. Getting back to it. Once the tomatoes are in there, wash some parsley and remove the stems, probably about a good handful will do it. Add the parsley whole to the top of what should now be a wonderfully sweet smelling pot. Add one whole cinnamon stick as well and let all of this just hang out together. At this time, you can prepare the fish. The recipe from the show suggests Monk fish, and typically I would dutifully oblige. However, the WF by our house does not stock it as the fishmonger has some aversion to it. We have been using Black Cod and it works fine. It is a little flakier than Monk but that is ok. Really any good whitefish will work. Anyway, approximately .75 lbs per person seems to work out well. Of course, we both have a fairly healthy apetite so you might be able to get away with .5 lbs per person. Begin heating a large sauce pan. Trim the fish if necessary and slice into medallions. The size is not really important. Just something that will allow for ease in cooking. Add a bit of OO to the pan. (I told you I would do it. Don't act so surprised.) Season the fish (more shorthand. That means salt and pepper.) and add to the pan. Cook until done on one side, approximately four to six minutes. Flip and go back to the pot, which should by now have filled your kitchen with the wonderful smell of cinnamon. Stir this mess thoroughly and try to break up as much of the tomato skins as possible and otherwise incorporate all of the ingredients. Once done, add this mix to the pan with the now finished fish. Done! If you like, and we usually do, prepare some pasta in the mean time and serve the fish over it, as represented in the picture. I have no suggestions on which pasta you should use. This is not, as you have probably guessed, a step by step, explain every detail type of recipe, nor will any future recipes be as much. I tend not to cook that way. Just do what makes you happy. It would probably work well with any pasta, though I would cation agains any long noddles. This is just my personal taste however. Cooking should be about fun and experimentation and doing what make sense to your own taste. Hope you enjoy. That is all for now.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mozza Mozza Mozza

Once again I have started a post with little thought toward its direction or composition. Well some thought obviously went into it, as evidenced by the title, but that is all. Further complicating the matter is that I have not as of yet this morning had a drop of coffee. I ran out yesterday and, knowing that Peet's restocks its beans on Wednesdays, have decided to abstain for the day in order to get fresh beans this evening. I know, it's sick.
Well, to the subject at hand, my wife, being the good little flogger that she is, came straight home and wrote all about opening night at Mozza. I on the other hand, could barely manage a few late-night, and probably incoherent emails before passing out. So I come to you today, a day late, with tales of Pizza.

First of course, the restaurant itself was nicely done. With warm orange walls and a long bar that wound its way along one entire half of the small space. Behind which, Nancy Silverton worked all night, shoving pizzas into the oven. There were no signs of Batali, though that is appropriate. This project is supposed to be more Silverton than Batali. Bastianich was also there, working the room.

For an opening night, everything seemed well planned and thoroughly rehersed. Our service was excellent and the food arrived in short order. However, the table next to us, who had arrived earlier and order just before we sat down, still had not received anything when our second course came out. To start with, we ordered the Affetati misti, an assortment of cured meats from Armandino's shop in Seattle. (Check back next week for pictures from the source) The Lardo was absolutely delicious, as was the Finnochiona. They were out of the Proscuitto di Parma, due to an earlier ham heist by a Vespa riding gourmand. As a substitute, they offered another salumi which was good, but as a substitute for proscuitto, no.

The salad was next. This was an amazing salad. My wife will complain that I stress too often and too enthusiastically that I am a carnivorous creature. It is true, I eat salads occassionally. And who doesn't like at least some vegitables (I like most.) But none of this matters with this salad. This salad was more meat and cheese than green stuff. But the salad is not what either of us has come for. We came for Pizza. And some of Armandino's finest. And well because it was opening night and there is no Tuesday night Football.

The pizza was very good. So good in fact that I even ate some of the Wife's longneck clam pizza (I don't typically eat bivalves or fungus for that matter.) I had that Salami with mozzarella and red chilis. It was excellent. We also shared a Margherita. The table next to us, when they finally got their food, had the Burrata. The pizza was beautiful. In fact I welled up a little. I think I may have had a chili in my eye, but it was hard to tell. All and all a wonderful LA food experience. We stayed nearly three hours and never felt rushed to leave. I very highly recommend a trip to Mozza. I know that we are already planning a return visit. A little wiser after our first though, I think we will try to stagger our order a bit. The pizza tends to get cold by the time you make it around to the third.

I realize this should be where I wrap it up. Or maybe I should have done that a long while ago, but I am not a writer. So here is the close.

By the way, this is her plate, not mine

Oh the shame.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Up and running

Success! The camera for my wife's blog has arrived. I had to wait out in front of my building because we don't have a house phone (really, who has those anymore?) and the buzzer doesn't ring the cell phone. So I sat out, drinking coffee, reading the Journal and having a cig. No matter, it has arrived and she is up and running. Check out her blog when you get a chance. We are very excited currently as we have a table at Mozza in just a couple of hours. Primarily though, I thought to describe our upcoming, annual pilgrimage to Seattle for Thanksgiving. As usual, we will arrive a couple of days early and stay an extra day or two to fit in all of our requisite stops at some of Seattle's finest eateries. I will skip the standard steakhouse, The Met is probably the best in Seattle (Tuesday) and focus on things unique to the city. On Wednesday morning, we will head to Salumi. This is Mario's father's place. Such a shame to describe the owner in relation to his son. Unfortunately there are simply too few people out there who would instantly understand if you told them you were going to see Armandino. I am conflicted however. I typically get the lamb proscuitto, if they have it, but have been reading about the culatello and am drawn by the curiosity of trying something new. Especially something new that can rarely be found outside of Northern Italy, to which I have yet to travel. I think Elliot's is on the list as a result of their excellent happy hour ($3 martini's) and my wife's penchant for oysters (I am not a fan.) The Frontier Room, in the now trendy Belltown area has great pulled pork sandwiches. This will probably be our late night stop either Tuesday or Wednesday. Of course we will need to find time for Via Tribunali, maybe the best pizza in Seattle (though natives would disagree.) Then, a trip across the water to the best sushi place in Seattle, without a doubt, and maybe anywhere in the US. Sushiman is in an unlikely place. A non-descript strip mall in Issaquah, but it has the best salmon of anywhere I have ever been. They use only wild, Alaskan salmon and the owner, Bobby, is a former sumo-wrestler and often behind the bar. Of course the obligatory visits to the parents. Fortunately for me, my parents are split up so I get two Thanksgiving dinners. Both are from the midwest so no skimping on the fat or gravy. (Also fortunately for me, my parents don't have any idea what a blog is, let alone read any, so I am safe.) Always the dutiful son, I will be spending all of Thanksgiving day at my father's house. Otherwise a very enjoyable experience, I love my father very much, but this week his three sisters will be in town. (They still live in the midwest, so you can imagine.) *disclaimer* I love the midwest (sarcasm) and any comments on this site to the contrary may not necessarily be shared by the author or publishers of this blog (may not be but are.) Before I offend further, I think I will call that a post, besides Jeopardy is on.

Monday, November 13, 2006

New post

I really cannot think of much to write although, after reading several other blogs (using the very nice 'next blog' button) I have determined that having something to say is in no way a prerequisite for blogging. The camera which was supposed to arrive today, for my wife's blog ( will not arrive until tomorrow. This is cutting it rather close as we have reservations for Mozza tomorrow night. This is Batali's new restaurant in LA, his first here actually. Tomorrow is the opening and I wanted to get her a camera before then. Hoping it arrives tomorrow. I realize that, rather than typing in the address within the post, I could probably put a hyperlink to it. This would allow any to just click and be directed there, unfortunately, I have no idea how to do this. Maybe I should take the time now to figure it out. (Can you tell I had no plan for this post before I started, or even now, several sentences later?) Hey, look at that I figured it out. You would think that since I figured it out I would go back and delete my ignorance, so as to hide my lack of technical ability. However, I have no shame and am really just to lazy. OK, this is quite enough

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hello and welcome

I am not sure that I will take the time to keep this up. To be honest, I have just set up an account so that my wife can start a food blog. A little surprise for her, something she has always wanted. I have to keep it a secret until the digital camera arrives, probably on Monday. We'll see if I can actually find something interesting to write about. I am not sure why, but am rather intrigued by writing a message to no one.