Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pecha Kucha-Food

I found out about this event from Facebook. I had never heard of Pecha Kucha before but it has become a popular event. I did some research on it and kind of got an idea of what it was about before going but still wasn't exactly what I had expected but it was fun and interesting. I had expected there to be more foodies that I knew but only recognized a couple of people from other foodie events.

Pecha Kucha is a 20x20 presentation format. 20 images are displayed for 20 seconds each while someone speaks about them. These events usually have a theme and the one I went to was food. So all the presentations were food related. The first presenter didn't know what to expect either because he thought he only had 20 seconds to present all 20 photos rather than 20 seconds for each one. I felt embarrassed for him but he pulled through it.

The event took place at Ouch My Eye, an art Gallery in SODO (South of Downtown). There appeared to be a boob theme in the gallery because every piece of artwork in the place consisted of boobs and/or nipples. The thing that most caught my eye was a pair of hand knit boobs. The announcement for the event said to bring your appetite so I was thinking there might be some drinks/apps provided but that wasn't the case. There is a coffee shop connected to the gallery so you could buy some coffee and they may have had a few food items to purchase and there was also some wine being poured in the back of the gallery for purchase.

There were about 9 different presentations. Some of the most memorable and fun presentations were Ryan Rector from the Pike Place Fish Market, Kate McDermott the pie maker, Myra Kohn the Urban Adventurer, and Rick Baker the Hallava Falafel Food Truck guy. The last presenter was Sam Mcleod, author of Big Appetite. He gave a good presentation and had some interesting stories to tell but was a little disappointed that he only had one slide to show for the full 400 seconds.
Pecha Kucha-Food Crowd

Monday, July 26, 2010

Coriander Mashed Potatoes & Maple and Herb Brined Pork Roast

Only a few sections left in the cookbook. Last week I made the Maple and Herb Brined Pork Roast from the Poultry and Meat section of the Herbfarm Cookbook. The recipe recommended serving it with either the Potatoes in Herbed Cream or the Mashed Potatoes with Toasted Coriander. Since I had already made the Herbed Cream potatoes I decided to try out the mashed potatoes. I think I made just about every potato recipe in this cookbook.

I marinated the pork roast for almost 24 hours in maple syrup and herbs. The roast I got was a bit smaller than the one recommended in the recipe so it took a lot less time to cook. I cooked it a little more than I should have based on the internal temperature but it still turned out juicy and not too dry. I just got a new oven that has a meat thermometer. I'm looking forward to giving that a try and hopefully won't have to worry about over cooking anything again.

I used a little less coriander in the mashed potatoes since the last time I used toasted coriander I thought it was too much and they turned out great.

There wasn't a lot of juice left from cooking the roast but I put what little there was into a saucepan and mixed it in with some gravy sauce mix to pour over the potatoes and pork.
Picking HerbsMarinated Pork
Spice GrindingGround Coriander
Maple and Herb Brined Pork RoastCoriander Mashed Potatoes

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chicken Breasts in Tarragon Cream

A recipe from the poultry and meat section of The Herbfarm Cookbook, and probably the quickest/easiest recipe I've made from the cookbook so far. The recipe claims only 10 mins from start to finish but the chicken took a little longer to cook than that. I think my chicken breasts were a little larger than what the recipe had expected. It called for 4 breasts at about 1.5 lbs and I used only 3 breasts which were just over 1.5 lbs so it took about 10 mins longer to cook.

We normally share a bottle of wine on the weekend and usually drink reds because we both prefer reds. The past several weeks though we have been drinking whites due to all these recipes I've been making that require white wine. I'm just about out of white wines from my Esquin Wine Sampler Cases and might have to actually go out and buy some. Even the recipe I have picked out for next week calls for white wine.

I finished off the tarragon I bought last week for this recipe. I'm still waiting for the tarragon I planted to grow up so I won't have to keep buying it. it's been my most used herb since starting this project. Loving it!

Loved the flavor of the cream sauce in this recipe. I just wish I had made some pasta or something to go with it and the chicken. It was rather runny though even after letting it simmer for a while. Adding some cornstarch or something to thicken it up a bit would have been a good idea. Other than that I liked how it turned out and especially liked how quick and easy it was.

Browning Chicken
Chicken Poaching in Cream
Chicken Breast in Tarragon Cream

Monday, July 12, 2010

Poached Halibut with Tarragon Sauce

This recipe came from the Fish and Shellfish section of the Herbfarm Cookbook. The recipe is actually for salmon but I thought I'd try it out with halibut instead. Some of the other recipes called for using either halibut or salmon and didn't realize till after I bought it that this wasn't one of them. I decided to go ahead and make it anyway and hope for the best. This was my first time poaching fish, I normally bake, fry, or bbq it.

I've been using a lot of tarragon since I started the Herbfarm Cookbook Project and am becoming a big fan. I love the taste and I loved this sauce which also had some parsley in it. It may have gone a little better with salmon but I still enjoyed it on the halibut. I thought the fish came out pretty well though it was hard to get all the water out before putting it on the plate. Seemed like I was sopping up water from the fish every few mins while I was taking pictures and still there was quite a bit of water in my shots and it was more difficult to clean up once the sauce was poured. Not sure what the best way is to remove the excess water from poached fish.

Next weekend I'll be on the poultry and meat section which I still need to choose a recipe from.

Tarragon and Parsley Poaching Halibut
Poached Halibut with Tarragon Sauce Tarragon sauce poured over poached halibut

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Herbfarm Cider Dinner

For my birthday this year, Mark bought me dinner at the Herbfarm. I've always wanted to go but never have gone mainly due to the price but I had hoped to go some day. I saw Ron Zimmerman, owner of the Herbfarm tweet about a special cider dinner they would be having in June. I looked into it and it was only 6 courses compared to the 9 courses they usually have. I always thought 9 courses was just too many. Since there were less courses the price was also reduced which made it even more appealing. I'm also a fan of cider and all the pairings for this dinner were from local hard cider makers, most of which were present at the dinner. So it seemed the perfect time to check the place out.

I arrived a little early after spending some time at Molbak's looking at and buying a few more herbs for my herb garden. I was served a glass of Eaglemount Homestead cider followed by a cherry cider by Tieton Ciderworks while mingling with a few people. Halfway through the cherry cider, we headed outside for a tour of the herb garden hosted by Carrie, Ron's wife. We were able to bring a glass of wine out with us. It was a little difficult to take photos and carry around a wine glass at the same time, but I managed. I brought my smaller camera, the Olympus E-P1, so it wasn't as difficult. She told stories of how the Herbfarm started and pointed out some of the herbs in the garden and passed around some flowers for us to take bites of and other herbs were passed around to smell. Did you know chive flowers are actually good eating? That was one thing I learned and plan on looking for some recipes to try that out on. Last stop of the garden tour was the pig pen where we met two pot-bellied pigs named Basil and Borage.

We headed back inside and were guided to our seats which had name tags. I sat at a table with a bunch of wine/cider makers. Across from me was Ron Irvine from Vashon Winery and next to me were Peter Ringsrud and his wife from Snowdrift Cider. Before the meal we went around the table and introduced ourselves to everyone and told a little story, preferably about apples. I didn't really have an apple story so I talked about my Herbfarm Cookbook Project that I've been working on.

BlinisShortly after our introductions our first course was served. Three buckwheat blinis, each with different toppings. I ate them from left to right. The first was topped with fennel, next one with chives and radish and the last with smoked salmon roe and chervil. Of the three I liked the chives and radish one best. I'm not a big fan of roe, too fishy tasting to me so it was my least favorite. This was paired with a sparkling cider from Finn River. I've had sparkling cider before but I don't think I've had one that had alcohol in it. It was pretty tasty.

Between the first and second courses, Ron Zimmerman, Ron Irvine and a couple cider experts talked about cider and how much it's grown in popularity over the years. During Ron Irvine's speech he surprisingly poured some of his cider onto the floor and it wasn't an accident. Only he was allowed to do that, not that I would want to anyway.

Farmstead RabbitFor the second course, we had buttermilk fried rabbit leg with collard greens, cider and green tomato marmalade, bacon-fat-poached loin with corn bread puree and Fines Herbes. I don't remember if I've ever had rabbit before. If I have it was when I was very young and my mom probably didn't tell me I was eating rabbit. I thought it was great, it tasted a lot like chicken, for reals! Wescott Bay Traditional Dry cider was the pairing for this course. I don't think I've had a dry cider I haven't liked.

squab n foieThe third course was squab breast stuffed with foie gras and a carrot, pea, tendril, thyme flower, and squab jus salad. Pretty sure I've never had squab or foie gras before but I at least knew what they were from watching the Food Network. The squab was good but I'm not sure about foie gras. I think it's the texture of it that I'm just not a big fan of. For some reason this dish had two cider pairings, Snowdrift Cliffbreaks Blend Cider and Wildfire Semi Sweet Ember. The online menu I saw before the dinner only listed Snowdrift so it must have been a last minute addition.

pork neckThree courses down and we are halfway through the meal. The Fourth course plate came out with an applewood roasted pork neck with bacon-braised greens, boletus mushrooms, triple cooked potatoes, and a cider hay jus. I don't think I've ever eaten the neck of a pork before. I would have never guessed it was a neck. It was tender and tasty. I'm not a huge mushroom fan and luckily there weren't a lot of mushrooms in the dishes. I don't mind them much if they are soaked and cooked in something enough to take away most of the earthy flavor. I didn't even notice them since they were cooked and seasoned well. Red Barn Tulip Valley Burro Loco Crabapple cider was the pairing for this dish.

prosciutto and cheeseThe 5th course seemed more like an appetizer to me. This course was a slice of Estrella Family Creamers cheddar cheese with some house cured prosciutto, arugula, and Eaglemount ginger cider vinaigrette. It looked like there were also some nasturtium petals on the prosciutto. Which reminds me I have some nasturtium seeds that I bought and still haven't planted in my hanging baskets. I better get on that if it's not too late. This course was paired with Wandering Angus Bloom Cider. By this time I was starting to get a little full so I didn't eat quite all of this one because I wanted to save some room for the dessert course coming up.

dessertWe get to the final course, dessert. Balsamic macerated bing cherries topped a dark chocolate encrusted chocolate hazelnut ice cream with french sage meringue and English sage marshmallows. I almost never order dessert when going to a restaurant unless I get it to go because I never have room for it so it was no surprise that I wasn't able to finish it all but it was delicious. It was paired with a sweet Blue Mountain Cherry Cider. I'm not usually a big fan of sweet ciders but the cherry ciders I had that night were both surprisingly good.

Just when I thought dinner was over, an after dinner drink menu was brought out that was filled with tons of teas and coffees. I went with the Smart Tea which consisted of lavender, rosemary, and peppermint and is not caffeinated. It also came with an IQ quiz which you were to try before drinking any tea and then again after drinking it. The Smart Tea is supposed to make you smarter but I didn't do any better after drinking it. While sipping on my tea I decided to look at my watch. I hadn't looked at it all night and had no clue what time it was. I was surprised to see that it was already 10:30. While sipping on tea another small plate of about 10 bite sized pieces of sweets came out. I only managed to eat one of them before heading out.

The dinner was a great experience and I had fun touring the garden and meeting some people and of course the food and ciders. I didn't realize there were so many local cideries around. I don't think I heard of any of the ones I drank that night. Some of them you can buy from various Whole Foods and others can only be bought directly from them.

Here are a few more photos from the dinner and even more can be found on my SmugMug site.

Carrie Tells Stories
Herbfarm Garden
Dinner Time
Blue Mountain Cherry Cider
Full House
Herbfarm on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Potatoes!

Potatoes are probably my favorite vegetable. I grew up on the stuff. We ate them almost every night for dinner. I had already done a vegetable recipe in the Herbfarm Cookbook, the Braised Fennel Bulb. My plan was to do one recipe per category, but I just couldn't resist trying a couple of the potato recipes. There were 5 to choose from and I ended up doing two of them. There are also a couple of mashed potato recipes that I might have to go back and try, but am planning on going back to my original plan and choosing a recipe from a different category for next week.

The first potato recipe I did was Potatoes with Lavender and Rosemary. I've got spanish and english lavender in my herb garden but have never used it for cooking so I really wanted to try this recipe. The recipe uses both the sprigs and the flower itself. I used quartered red potatoes and boiled them with the lavender sprigs. Unfortunately I cooked them a tad too long, they were slightly mushy and some of the peels were coming off the potato but it didn't turn out too bad. Fingerling potatoes seem to be more forgiving if you overcook them. After parboiling, they were tossed with chopped lavender buds and rosemary. It made quite a bit and still had some left over. They were great for breakfast, just browned them in a few tablespoons of butter.
Chopped Rosemary
Chopped English Lavender Buds
Red Potatoes Boiling with Lavender Sprigs
Potatoes with Lavender and Rosemary
The second potato recipe was Potatoes in Herbed Cream which was basically scalloped potatoes. I think I've only tried making scalloped potatoes once before and they didn't really turn out that well. I think they ended up too dry. This recipe however turned out very well. The top layer of potatoes was a little crispy but the couple layers under that were delicious and moist. The recipe gave suggestions on herbs to use but left it pretty much up to the chef to determine which herbs they wanted to use. I used all herbs from my herb garden: rosemary, sage, thyme, and marjoram. The herbs didn't get chopped up and thrown into the potatoes but instead were steamed with the milk/cream prior to baking which gave a very subtle herb flavor. I think I would have preferred a bit more herb flavor and might try chopping up some herbs and adding those between the layers of potato next time I make this recipe which is very likely.
Fresh Herbs
Potatoes Ready for Baking
Potatoes in Herbed Cream
Potatoes in Herbed Cream Plated

Monday, July 05, 2010

Strawberry Lemon Bars

This was my second time making lemon bars but first time with fruit. It really gives it a little extra flavor to cut down on the sweetness of the lemon custard. A recipe for lemon raspberry bars was tweeted by AllrecipesNews last Thursday so I bookmarked it and made it on Saturday but used strawberries instead of raspberries. The recipe is from Two Peas and Their Pod, @TwoPeasandPod on twitter. Here's my version, using strawberries instead of raspberries. I also used a 9x9 pan since I don't have an 8x8 pan.

Crust Ingredients
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon

Filling Ingredients:
2 large egg yolks
1-14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 ounces fresh strawberries, quartered

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and lemon zest. Stir until graham cracker crumbs are moist. Press crumbs into the prepared pan, pressing the crust mixture one inch up the side of the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown but not burnt. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Once the crust is cool, combine the egg yolks and condensed milk until well mixed. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir until mixture begins to slightly thicken. Gently fold in the strawberries.

Pour the lemon strawberry filling evenly over the graham cracker crust. Bake for 15 minutes, or until just set.

Cool to room temperature, then chill for at least one hour before serving. Cut into bars and serve. Keep bars in the refrigerator-up to five days.

Sliced Strawberries
Strawberries in Lemon Custard
Strawberry Lemon Bar