Friday, May 29, 2009

Steak attack

Etiquette be damned! 

Who, aside from the non-carnivorous among us doesn't love the perfectly grilled ribeye on a warm almost-summer evening? 


I had a significant stint in my life, where meat was not a part of my diet. (Then I went to culinary school. Back then they’d have none of that nonsense.)   I am aware that we eat TOO much meat in this country. The truth is that our consumption of meat and gi-normous portions has become so epic that it's difficult to sit down and really wax eloquent about chomping on a big fat ribeye. But I stared that challenge down and got out my wax. 


 Now that you know it is with careful conscience that I talk about grilled fatty meat, I must warn the faint of heart to turn away now. Because I'm not protecting anyone and I'm telling it like it is.  Fat is flavor baby. It is! Yeah, yeah, there's flavor elsewhere too. But the subject here is a big-fat ribeye. Not garbanzo beans with harissa. Oh, hold me back. 


I have an aunt who I just adore who told me one time that she could hardly keep her hands off of the crispy glazed and cooked fat of a ham. I was floored! Not by what she was saying but that she had the gonads to admit it out loud! Who admits to slicing off a hunk of fat and eating it? That inspired me. I love that kind of in-your-face honesty. I aspire to it. No, she wasn’t overweight and this was YEARS ago and she’s STILL  pretty darn healthy. So there.


I’m not insinuating that the food pyramid (as un-balanced as that thing is) should have a new charred fat area or anything. I’m just asking. Has  the all things in moderation guideline  gone by the wayside in order to make room for soy milk and flax seed?  It’s okay isn’t it?  To LIKE the taste of charred fat on a perfectly grilled ribeye? Of course it is!


Go ahead, if you must. You Oprah-Dr.Oz-following nay sayers. Cut off those fatty parts and pretend you just enjoyed the perfect steak. I say once a year, thumb your nose at the timid and when the weather is right, fire up the grill and don’t compromise your fat content.




Saturday, May 23, 2009


I don't know why but I've never cooked a brisket before. I know! I've made corned beef but not a simple brisket. 
Sunday dinner fell on Friday this week. Family visiting from out of town and Sunday-dinner folks leaving for Italy on Monday brought us around to a Friday night Sunday dinner. 

There was a request for brisket so I obliged. There were 6 for dinner but I'm afraid there was enough brisket for 20. I think it earned the name roast beast. I tried to sear the meat before roasting but it was too big for the largest saute pan I had. It was draping over the side of the pan as I browned it. 

I topped the beast with sliced shallots and a few dashes of this and a glug of that and poured a beer in the pan, put it in the oven and said.. "forget about it!" 
Some 4 hours later the house smelled wonderful and dinner was ready. How easy is that? 

Calls for a celebration!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Best friends and birthdays

I don't want to give anything away here...but birthdays for my close friends and I.. well.. they're landmark birthdays for the most part. 

I was honored and thrilled and over-the-moon (almost) about celebrating my best friend's (yeah...39th.. that's right.. that's the ticket) birthday. 

I've got that whole "flash photography" thing going on so I didn't take a lot of pictures. But how I wish there was sound here to go along with THIS photo:

Nancy and I sang our hearts out! We didn't stop at just Happy Birthday To You... we went for Bab's and People Who Need People... and a more out-of-tune duo you've never encountered. We had some volume going on too. 

Denise and I go back (cough, choke) 24 years! Holy Cow! That's right kids! Avert your eyes! That's almost the silver anniversary of friendship!

We celebrated with a fantastic dinner and Cosmopolitans. Mostly we celebrated with deep and meaningful (BWA HA) conversation and SECRETS! That's right. We told secrets. But I digress. 

Those pretty but horrid cupcakes are NOT what brought me to the blog this morning. It was these little gems.

Fresh Garbanzo beans. Amazing! Nancy called me from the market the other day and asked if she should buy them. You would have thought I'd just won the lottery! I was elated. Of course buy them! Now, I'm telling you, go get some of your own! The season is very short for these delightful bites. 
We tossed them with a little olive oil and some smoked sea salt and roasted them in foil on the grill. They're reminiscent of edamame only better. 
I finished them off cold and straight out of the serving bowl  for lunch today. 
Two salty thumbs up for these gems!

And Happy Birthday Denise!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Grill your greens

It has been a couple of weeks of serious contemplation. Thinking, thinking, thinking and frankly, I’m tired of thinking. Though, most of that thinking has led to a sense of gratitude and gratefulness, I’m still ready for some mental down time.

Sunday dinner was spectacular! Maybe because I didn’t have to think much about it. Time spent enjoying the perfect weather and the company of good friends. It was enough. We talked late into the evening and didn’t turn on any lights! I love defying the clock. Rules be damned!

There was the rhubarb. I am not a fan of the taste of rhubarb. I don’t care how many strawberries you tuck in with it or how much you sugar it up. It has a big “ick” factor for me. But it’s pretty! And pretty goes a long way where dessert is concerned. And where my friends are concerned, leftovers to take home are just a Sunday dinner bonus!


The weather called for grilling and I would almost go so far as to say I made grilling the theme. I grilled everything but the risotto. And even the risotto had grilled asparagus in it. The sweetness of grilled asparagus and the creamy risotto with the tangy chevre was a match made in heaven.

I grilled the romaine for a grilled Caesar. I grilled the croutons. I even grilled an avocado. Shut up! I did! And if you think the perfectly-ripe cold avocado is dreamy. Try grilling one. Seriously. You’ll be transported.


I apologize for the “washed out” look on some of my photos. Suddenly, my camera stopped obeying me and I can’t turn the flash feature off. The only thing I hate worse than rhubarb is flash photography.


So, after the grilled dinner and lots of inappropriate banter and subsequent gut-wrenching laughter... I got all sentimental about Tom’s car. This is what he showed up in. Don’t you think this is the quintessential Sunday-dinner ride?

 Okay, back to the salad.

Seriously, you need to try grilling your Caesar salad! I think you’ll love it. I just brushed the split hearts of Romaine with a little olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and pepper. I split the avocado and removed the pit. I put these on the grill until a nice char developed.

As for the croutons, I sliced some wonderful roasted garlic crusty bread and brushed it with olive oil and again, salt and pepper. Once it was charred from the grill I raised it up on the top rack to get crispy.

I made the dressing using an emersion blender. Roughly, it was a clove of garlic, a coddled egg and about ¾ cup of olive oil. To that lovely garlic aioli I added the juice of half a lemon, a healthy dash of Worcestershire, cayenne, Dijon, salt and pepper and a little balsamic vinegar.

I chopped the salad ingredients, topped with some shaved Parmigiano Reggiano (don’t even think about buying that krap in the deli cup) and drizzled with the dressing.

Try it!


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hanging with Bruce the big brown dog.

This is Bruce. Bruce the big brown dog. I'm rooming with Bruce  while his  people are off to Honduras giving eye exams and delivering eye glasses to those in need. Bruce and I shared a moment in the sun while I enjoyed a glass of dry Rose.  

I'm sorry I've been scarce. It seems I've had little time to do more than open a box of crackers or a bag of chips. Little food preparation or even thought of food as a creative outlet has crossed my mind in the last week.
That is all about to change though. There will be a Sunday dinner! Even if it's on Monday. My best friend is celebrating a birthday and there will be a girl's night to write about! 
I was told  that another of my friends was able to find some fresh garbanzo beans so those will be on the menu. I have never even seen fresh garbanzos so I'm excited! I have heard them described as "little green brains". I'm sure that description has little to do with flavor and more with aesthetics. 
I understand they are to be roasted. Don't worry, I'll take pictures and post them here. So, thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned and I hope you're enjoying the promise of summer! 

In other news: I recently made this gem of a salad. I used spring greens but the original recipe called for Arugula. Arugula would be perfect! The spring greens weren't too shabby though. 
It's just greens, watermelon and feta with a little red onion and a simple olive oil vinaigrette. Happy warm weather!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

I remember warmer days in May but this one showed a little playfulness in offering up a myriad of conditions. It rained sideways this morning and the winds (and the wind chimes) were howling a tune in unison. 

It was hard to get excited about anything. Then Nancy mentioned Tequila. hmmmm It is that one day when a well-made margarita, much like a party dress, is just called for. 

I mentioned fish tacos and Nancy trumped me with guacamole and like a couple of hungry, celebration-seeking gringos we waited for the first sign of blue skies and headed out for Whole Foods. 

Armed with all the right ingredients we started a fire in the fire place and like all the Whos in Whoville, we started singing... yahoo doray, yahoo doray (okay, we didn't really sing). But we DID refuse to let the chill sway our resolve to grill fish and make our annual fish tacos. 

And then-as though some cosmic bandoleer-wearing weather warrior moved on our behalf- the sun came out and made our margaritas sparkle.

I'm telling you kids it's true! That's just how it happened! One minute we're warming our hands by the fire and the next- poof! We're peeling off layers of clothing and drinking shiny margaritas! This crazy Pacific Northwest-Don't go trying to figure her out. 

Oh yeah, it's all fun and games until someone tries to eat two of these.

In all honesty, Bruce the big dog came to my rescue and finished the job I started. 
Then, like a true dog-friend, Bruce took us for a walk and we rid ourselves of the self-inflicted pain. 

We strolled down to Lake Washington and marveled at the view. After a day of sideways rain, little warms the body, heart and soul more than the sunshine dancing across the waters of Lake Washington.

We headed up hill towards home and I ran across this beautiful Dogwood tree in bloom. It made me smile.

Then, I ran across this scene that reminded me of both the power and peace of springtime. Just yesterday (before the winds and the sideways rain) these cherry blossoms were enjoying their glorious perch on the brances of the tree. In a day their job was done. And what a lovely exit they made.
There's really no telling what tomorrow will bring. Whatever it is, I hope to embrace it. I think that there can even be beauty in sideways rain! Really!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Opening Day!

I know, I know. Where have I been?
Wherever it was I went without the equipment that allows me to get my photos off of the camera and onto my computer. So what is the sense in trying to tell you about rhubarb crisp without showing it to you?

The great thing about crisps (in my opinion) is the-baking-without-hard-and-fast-rules factor. I know I've mentioned it before and I'll probably say it again. I really don't like following recipes. A crisp really doesn't require a recipe. Just instinct.  A little of this and a little of that a little lemon zest and some butter and you're on your way! 
This one had fresh-picked rhubarb, blueberries & strawberries. 

This weekend marked  Opening Day for boaters! I don't recall if there was begging involved on my part or just a little clever banter and flattery. Whatever trick I pulled out of the hat worked and Chris took a break from his busy schedule and ignored the northwest squall and took the Whisper out to strut (or sail) her stuff on Puget Sound. We experience a little of everything (except snow). The rains were not to be ignored when they showed up. At times it rained sideways. But our sailing spirits were not dampened. 

Wind is always welcome when the motors are cut and there wasn't an abundance of that either. But we managed to have a great time despite the calm waters. We saw a few Dahl Porpoises in the distance and more than a few sea lions who managed to rival Bruce's big-dog bark. 
We had lunch and prosecco and marveled at a bright cloud or two. It was an awesome day. 

A day spent with friends is never lost on me. A day spent on the boat with friends? Well, that's just a little slice of paradise.