Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gotta Use the Eggs - Caribbean Salmon Souffle

Gotta use the Eggs - Caribbean Salmon Souffle
We're heading out soon for Christmas and we have half a dozen Eggs left in the fridge.  We don't normally eat Eggs for breakfast mid week so we were left with the typical vacation quandary.  What do you do with the Eggs?  Milk is not as big a worry because I drink quite alot of it but the Eggs are a challenge.  We always need them in the house but we don't eat them that often yet when we want one we're often out.  You know.  So here we have half a dozen Eggs and some basic pantry items.  What to do?  Well, a Souffle may not initially jump out at you as the easy option.  Yes you could default to an omelet.  I do love a good Spanish Tortilla (Potato Omelet) and I did just buy some adorable Peewee Potatoes.  Nope.  This Soufflee is super easy and needs little shopping if any.

I have made it a few times before and the link is here: Caribbean Salmon Souffle

What do you need in the house? 

1 rib of Celery.  Most markets sell Celery in ribs now or often they don't but the price is per pound so I am not shy about breaking off a rib or two.  Actually, I always buy two.  1 to cook the other to munch.
1 clove of Garlic.  If you don't, leave it out. 

1 half small Onion or Shallot
At least 1 c of Milk and Butter.

1/2 c flaked Coconut.  Most bakers stock this.  I do.  If you don't, leave it out.  Don't fear the souffle!  Once you get the base, the acoutrements are the fun bit.  I forgot the Coconut once even though it was sitting in the pan toasted on the stove.  It was fine.  It was not as interesting in my opinion but it was fine.
The only thing you may not already have in the house but most do is 1 tin of Salmon.  If you don't, any Frozen seafood like, Snapper, Shrimp or Crabmeat lurking in your freezer or pantry will do.  About 1 cup. 

The thing that is different today is that normally I do this Souffle with 4 Egg Yolks and 6 Egg Whites.  That is normally fine because the Yolks get used somewhere.  But since this is a preholiday fridge clearance, no Yolk shall be left behind.  I put in 6 Egg Yolks and 6 stiffly beaten Egg Whites. 

To compensate for the extra liquid in the 'Custard', I added 4 T of flour instead of the usual 3 T.

I still baked it for 30 minutes.  It is normally entirely set this we 5% gooey in the middle this time (extra Yolks!) which was yummo!.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spicy Double Chocolate Ginger Diablo Cookies - revisited

Spicy Double Chocolate Ginger Diablo Cookies
I made my Spicy Double Chocolate Mexican Diablo Cookies again for my weekly mommies session at the local Community Centre.   D suggested I cut back on the Cayenne so if you click on the cookie title above to the original post, note that for this batch, I only used 1 t of Cayenne.  I thought it wasn't spicy at all but the consensus was that it was the right amount of heat.  I only had a few left to bring home.  We had hoped to give all of them away since D and I are still both carrying baby weight. :^D

I thought I would also note that the dough was ALOT stiffer this time.  The last time it was like Muffin batter and quite easy to mix.  This time it was quite stiff like more traditional cookie dough.  I might have chosen to use the stand mixer but it was too late.  I guess it was the size of the Eggs because I changed nothing else.  So I thought I would advise those who want to try it.  That you could hold back 1/4 of the Flour until later if you are concerned but you don't have to.  Just keep turning the dough over and over.  It will come together.  But a stand mixer will  make quick work of it.  Just mix it until the dusty look is gone.  I still chilled the dough as before.  I did use a 1 oz scoop this time.  You could use a Coffee Bean scoop, they are normally 1oz/2T as well but unfortunately, they don't have the sweeper for easy extraction.  Otherwise, roll them with your hands roughly the size of a ping pong ball.
Do not squash down. They'll spread a little but these are chewy in the middle.  If you like crispier thin cookies, you could use softened Butter instead.  Not the same though. This made a batch of 48 cookies.  I used two sheet pans at the 1/3 and 2/3 levels in the oven. Still cook for the 15 minutes but at 8 minutes swap the levels of the pans and rotate the front to the back.  Allow to cool for only a minute or two and they'll be firm enough for you to move.  Don't pile up until completely cooled. 


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Frying Scotsman - Portland - Homemade Tartar Sauce! Need I say more?

Frying Scotsman Halibut and Chips
That title is my whole post.  I mean really! The dude makes his own Tartar sauce from scratch in his little truck.  Come on! That's food passion.  I doesn't have to be expensive fine dining to be haute.  Dude cares and it comes through in his food.

Little Frying Scotsman Trailer
We saw him on Eat St.  It's funny too because he has the ad for the show hanging in his cart now too.  He's as warm as he was on the show and we weren't holding TV cameras.  The fries are Handcut and the fresh Fish dipped in his own crispy Batter!  It's a very busy cart now because of his recent celebrity so everything is made to order as the fish is churned out at quite a pace.  It's a bit harder to sit in the downtown area near the carts but luckily he has a couple of standing tables in front of his cart.

The batter was very tasty and crisp.  It was a tad on the greasy side as he's moving so fast.  It could have been allowed to drain in the basket a few seconds longer.  The fries were PIPING hot.  Awesome.  And he doesn't over salt them so you can dress them as you please.  With Vinegar, good man!  Where else in the states!? Well, I guess it's caught on lately.  When I was a kid and we travelled and asked for Vinegar for our fries we were met with such stares.  And occasionally, a kind server would come from the kitchen with a bowl of vinegar and wait to see what we'd do with it.  Haha!

Service: Warm, welcoming, and enthusiastic
Ambiance: It's a foodtruck. Busy downtown cluster had a sort of fair ground feel.
Cost: $$

The Frying Scotsman (Food Cart)
(503) 706-3841
SW 9th And Alder St Map
Portland, OR 97205

The Frying Scotsman (Food Cart) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fifteen Minutes Fridge to Fork - Poached Eggs on Cheddar Polenta with Mushrooms

Fifteen Minutes from Fridge to Fork - Poached Eggs on Cheddar Polenta with Mushrooms
Lil dude decided to get up half an hour early today so I decided I was going to need a nice hearty breakfast to get through the morning. It was Saturday as week. I like to reserve hot breakfast to weekends. I don't know why while I'm on Mat Leave. After he'd had his Brekkie of Organic Pears and Apples (w dash of Carrots) with Oatmeal, I dove I to a majesty of engineering in the kitchen. I made my Poached Eggs on Polenta with Mushrooms in 15 minutes from fridge to fork on the fly.

Poached Eggs on Polenta with Mushrooms - 15 Minutes Fridge to Fork

1. Take out medium saucepan, small saucepan and a small nonstick pan. Fill the medium saucepan with Water and add 2 T White Vinegar + 1/2 t Salt turn on high heat. Add 1 T Olive Oil to the pan.
2. Goto fridge and fetch 2 Eggs, Milk, 1 c Crimini Mushrooms (leftover from Risotto on Thursday so already cleaned, woohoo. I would have grabbed whatever), 1 Scallion/Green Onion, and White sharp Cheddar if you have it
3. Turn on heat to frypan to medium. Throw in Mushrooms spread out and leave.
4. Measure out 3/4 c Milk and 1/2 c Water into small saucepan. Add 1/2 t Salt, dash fresh Nutmeg if you have it. Pepper to preference. Bring to boil. Measure out 4 T Cornmeal/Polenta Medium/Fine. Ours is in dry good jar on the counter :-). When Milk is boiling, turn down to Medium. With a whisk in one hand and the Corn in the other, whisk the Milk constantly and vigorously as you sprinkle in the Corn. Mix until it thickens. Taste to season. Cover and leave on low heat.
5. The water in Medium saucepan should not be boiling but steaming and with small bubbles on the bottom like it wants to. Break 1 Egg into the bowl you had the Corn. Stir the Water until you get a funnel in the centre. Stop stirring and drop the Egg in. The White should close in on itself like a chocolate kiss. Leave for 2 minutes. Toss the Mushrooms.
6. Slice the Scallion
7. Break the second Egg into the small bowl. Lift the first Egg out with a slotted spoon and place in a shallow dish on the side. Swirl the water again and drop the second Egg in for 2 minutes. Add back the first Egg. Toss the Mushrooms.
8. Stir the Polenta. Add some small pieces of 2 T Cheddar or grate it. I used the rasp I used for the Nutmeg. Finish with 1 T of Butter or Olive Oil. Dollop on to your plate.
9. Drain your Eggs with the slotted spoon. 4-5 minutes for Medium yolks. Place on the Polenta.
10. Top with the Mushrooms and garnish with the Scallions. Salt and Pepper.

15 minutes max. Lil Dude was in his high hair in the kitchen and that's the maximum amount of time he will tolerate sitting there. He'll sit contentedly watching me eat though. :-).  Another hour and a half of terrorizing the living room and he's napping now.


Friday, December 02, 2011

Portland Soup Company - Okay food and Not-so-okay company

Portland Soup Company Food Truck
I dragged D and lil T to the Portland Soup company.  I'd seen them on the Eat St. or Diners and was impressed how this young guy was making his own food from scratch.  I am a sucker for homemade soup.  D was not as excited and less so when we discovered it was in the cluster of foodtrucks out by the University.  Portland is a haven for foodtrucks.  They are everwhere and not just downtown.  You will mostly find them in clusters and semi-permanent sites in a sort of strip mall set up in parking lots and empty lots.  Sounds awesome but then as a local told us, it becomes harder to distinguish the good from the 'me-too'.   Well, I thought from the sounds of this one, that this was going to be one of the better ones with a guy who cares about good food and his patrons. Well, I regretted dragging D away from the downtown cluster and the Frying Scotsman for this one.  

Portland Soup Company Menu
First thing to note is that the soup was sold out by shortly after lunch as the Pork Butt he wanted.  Okay.  D looked at me, unimpressed and asked if I wanted to go elsewhere since I seemed so fixated on Soup.  I said no, undaunted since he was also known for his fresh Sandwiches and Salads.  So I ordered the Fresh Mozzarella Sandwich and D ordered a large Arugula Salad.  

Portland Soup Company - See the Salad titled ARUGULA?!?!
D then proceeded to take lil T and the stroller away to find a shady spot to eat.  I paid and waited.  After already running my creditcard, the dude behind the counter said he was out of Arugula.  I said, rather sarcastically and incredulously, "What!?".  He said again "We're out of Arugula.  Would you like to replace it with Spinach?"  I said "well, it was my husband's order and he's rolled away.  He really wanted Arugula."  I hemmed and hawed and said "Okay, give me the Spinach."  Dude turned around and exchanged words with dude#2 and cameback to me to say "we're out of Spinach.  Is mixed greens okay."  I said, emphatically "No. That's ridiculous."  He said to me, rather nonchalantly and exasperated "It's the same thing" To which I said "If that were true you wouldn't have felt it important to title the salad "Arugula Salad".  Then Dude#2 muttered, audibly, "What time is it?  Let's get out of here."  Arse!
Portland Soup Company - Arugula Salad without Arugula!
Portland  Soup Company Bland Mozzarella Sandwich
So left with no alternative and knowing D would have not been happy if I returned without his salad, I accepted the Mixed Greens. It was not the same thing.  The Salad had about as much personality as one of those plastic clamshell salads from McDonalds.  I guess that was why the chef had chosen Arugula!  The Sandwich was fresh enough but the Mozzarella was bland and the whole thing was not seasoned enough.  It tasted thrown together.  Disappointing food and experience.  Should have had the Mexican a few carts down.  Oh well, at least the Bangkok Duck&Chicken Thai (just the name, not what I ordered) and the Frying Scotsman the nextday was good and friendly.  

Service: Snotty
Ambiance: It's a foodtruck but University zone offers lots of alternative seating in shade. 
Cost: $$
Food: Mediocre and offered substitute was not par
The Portland Soup Company (Food Truck)
(541) 968-1230
University area
SW 4th and Hall Map
Portland, OR 97201
The Portland Soup Company (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon


Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder - Fusion Comfort

Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder
It's hard to have Deng Jang in the house when you don't eat Korean food everyday.  Deng Jang is Korean Miso.  It is more pungent and spicier.  Like Miso, store bought Deng Jang is very perishable.  If it isn't, it has preservatives like MSG.  Homemade Deng Jang lasts longer as there is more time and care taken in preserving it.  I remember as a kid, mom would be sat in the kitchen beating the basic version into loaves to ferment.  They would age and develop a sort of patina that looks like aging Cheese.  You won't find that sort of quality in the shops so if you're going to buy in the shops, you want to look for non GMO (not only organic) Soy and no MSG.  Soybean farming is quite dominated by the evil chemical empires that have GMO'd the crap out of much of the production but the regulation on GMO labelling is only for raw ingredients and not products containing GMO ingredients.  Tofu can be Organic but still be GMO.  Be aware.

But I digress.  So when we do buy Deng Jang, or Miso, D likes to find various ways of using it so we are sure to go through it.  To confess, D does prefer Miso over Deng Jang.  He finds Deng Jang too pungent for his palate.  When used in very small quantities, it needn't dominate a dish.  It can be used to add what is commonly known as 'Umame'.  The term is used to describe a depth of flavour.  It's the difference between a well developed broth and a limp watery one.  Literally, it means flavour or savoury in Japanese.  It was the objective for the discovery of MSG which has been associated with though not proven to be linked to health issues.  That aside, it doesn't taste very good as many shortcuts don't.  You'll find that 'flavour' in lazy Korean or Japanse restaurants in their broths, i.e. Royal Seoul House on Broadway, blech. So you can use Deng Jang or Miso in smaller quantities to create that flavour in things like Risotto, Salad Dressings, Soups, Marinades/Rubs, Dips.....or Chowder.

Awase Miso Clam and Mushroom Chowder

serves 4 as a main

3 lbs Manila Clams
1 c Dry White Wine (or 1/2 c Wine and 1 1/2 c Water)
1 c Water
1 c Water (2nd cup, or Clam Juice from a bottle, in addition to the juice from the Clams in the Chowder)
1 T Olive Oil
3 T Unsalted Butter
1 small Onion, diced
2 ribs Celery, finely diced
1 pack (1 c) Enoki or Brown Clamshell Mushrooms, brushed and roots trimmed
4-5 sprigs fresh Thyme, length of your index pinky finger
4 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Bay Leaves
3 T Awase Miso (light Miso paste, but not the lightest. Look for non GMO, no MSG)
1 1/2 Yukon or White Potatoes (not Russet) 1" cubes
1 c Cream
Fresh Parsely, optional
Salt and Pepper

Scrub and rinse the Clams.  Use live.  They can stay in the fridge covered in a moist towel for upto two days but try to use them within 24 hours of getting them home.  We buy ours at TnT in their live Fish section.  We can pick our own Clams and Mussels. Throw any open ones away.  To double check, knock on them and they may spring closed. If they do not,  they are dead.

In a dutchoven or heavy pot, add the White Wine and the first cup of Water on High Heat and bring to boil.  You can reduce the amount of Wine to 1/2 a cup here if you want and increase the Water.  Dry White means not Sweet.  As well, do not use anything too Oaky.  American Chardonnays are too Oaky for this application.  Add the Clams when the liquid is boiling.  Cover and shake occasionally for 6-10 minutes.  After cooking, throw any closed ones away.  Lift the Clams out with a slotted spoon into a large bowl and set aside.  Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and reserve. Stop short of pouring when you reach the sand at the bottom of the pot.  You should have about 3-4 c.  Throw the sand away and rinse the pot.

Add the Olive Oil and the Butter to the pot in Medium heat.  Sautee the Onion and Celery until soft, ~5 minutes.  Add the Potatoes, Thyme, Bay Leaves and Garlic and sautee briefly.  Add the Miso and spread around.  Add the Clam liquid back and the Water/Clam Juice.  The Miso can be salty so only season after you've added the liquid.  Add the Cream and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes until the Potatoes are tender.  Add the Clams back and the Mushrooms.

Garnish w Parsley and serve with Toast. Soooo Yummo!  I would have added another Tablespoon of Miso and D would have liked to add Bacon.  He crumbled some Bacon he cooked on the side on top.  I think the Bacon would dominate the dish and think it is nice left out.