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Showing posts from November, 2018

Fresh Tamales

I noticed for the first time today a lady selling tamales in the driveway next to the Mexican consulate. The consulate is on the I-85 access road north of Cheshire Bridge. I stopped by and picked up a package of three; given the choice between corn-wrapped and banana leaf-wrapped, I went with corn-wrapped. I took them home and broke out one for dinner. The tamale was excellent: nice moist chicken with a soft, gentle burn; dense and flavorful masa jacket. I ate my excellent tamale with some potato soup I cooked up with a few potatoes and some turkey stock from Thanksgiving. A very satisfying meal.

Seattle: Little Oddfellows at Elliott Bay Book Company

Elliott Bay Book Company is a favorite bookstore in Seattle, located in the Pike/Pine district. Its coffee bar, Little Oddfellows, is named after the neighboring Oddfellows Restaurant, located in the Oddfellows building. The atmosphere is very nice and appropriately bookish. The staff is very nice but appropriately reserved for a bookstore. This is my savory scone laced with feta cheese. The crumb was moist without being overly so, allowing the feta to come through nicely.

Seattle: The London Plane

Gabe suggested we meet at The London Plane and he hit the mark. The restaurant is located in Pioneer Square in a beautifully restored building. The interior has a high ceiling and huge windows to let in lots of light. The staff was very helpful and enthusiastic. I ordered two items, the quiche of the day and a croissant. The quiche was tasty although not quite as eggy as I expected. The croissant was huge and filled with buttery flavor. The jam was excellent but my favorite spread was the butter, which seems to have been lightly salted. And the coffee kept coming.

Seattle: Elliott's

Once I hit the ground, I headed to the Seattle waterfront for seafood. I quickly settled on Elliott's, a long-standing favorite with a beautiful view of ferries sailing through the mists. Elliott's creates an elegant atmosphere with wonderful service. This tea service is an example of the care bestowed by Elliott's on its food and its customers. My server pointed me to this spicy chowder, which was truly excellent. The elements were perfectly in balance: cream, seafood, corn, spices. Here is my king salmon, the best piece of salmon I have had in a very long time. King salmon has the highest oil content of any salmon, making for both healthy and delicious eating. The taste and texture of this fish were perfect and it was flawlessly prepared. The assortment of accompaniments around the fish added to the pleasure. I missed a photo of my superb flourless chocolate and pistachio cake. The pistachio ice cream served alongside was the perfect pairing---the cre…

SEA: Floret on the Go

After getting off the plane in Seattle, I needed a small snack to keep me going. I found Floret and stopped by their on-the-go counter. They have a wide variety of items, including some nice looking chocolate bars, but I went with the savory hand pie. About two minutes later, this little beauty appeared. The crust is full of butter making for a rich pastry. The filling was indeed savory but not overpowering, just mildly spiced. It was exactly what I needed.

Chamblee: Lunch at Harmony Vegetarian

I frequent Harmony for their delightful Chinese vegetarian food but rarely for lunch. This dish is a satisfying summary of their food: sesame "chicken", curry treat, brown rice. I also enjoyed a cup of won ton soup. A meal at Harmony is a lesson in the pleasures of expert vegetarian cooking technique. The faux-chicken sesame dish had all the pleasures of the meat version: savoriness, a little sweetness, crunchy outside and tender inside.

Turkey Pot Pie

Post-Thanksgiving meals gave me the chance to practice my pot pie skills. I decided to home fry the potatoes first: cooked in microwave, coated with oil, baked in the cast iron skillet with a few turns. The resulting carmelized flavor came through and some of the texture survived the gravy as well. Next, I made a roux and added the turkey stock I made with the bones. Next came the turkey and some pre-cooked vegetables. I topped the pie with some buttermilk biscuits from the freezer. The result of this few minutes of work was a savory pie with a great balance of turkey and vegetable flavors.

Yeasted Apple Cake

The book Classic German Baking gives several ways to use apples in baking. This yeasted apple cake is very different from a typical American approach. It isn't difficult if you have a bread machine. And it tastes great. Here is the dough in the bread machine. The final rise happens in the baking pan with the dough spread out. The apples go on top and everything goes into the oven. The result is fluffy and apple-y.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Petite Violette

I haven't had the chance to try local mainstay Violette since the Petite Auberge folks moved from North Druid Hills to create Petite Violette. Thanksgiving dinner was the perfect opportunity. The restaurant was bustling with returning and new customers. The staff was very enthusiastic and attentive. Dinner started with this gumbo. The roux was silky and flavorful, dotted with seafood and sausage. Bread, of course, which I enjoyed with butter, this being Thanksgiving. My wedge salad was an unexpected treat. It was rich without being overwhelming. Despite being tempted by turkey, I decided to go with the salmon. I was not disappointed. The fish was moist and flaky. I finished by savoring a piece of pumpkin pie and coffee.

A Thanksgiving Eve Turkey

I decided to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving eve, a simple way to appreciate a dinner at home. I picked up a nice fresh turkey from Tucker Butcher Shop. I dry-brined it the night before by rubbing it with salt. I spatchcocked the turkey, cutting out the backbone and flattening it on a pan. Unfortunately, in my excessive enthusiasm I also cut the breastbone in half. The turkey rested on a bed of carrots and celery. I put the backbone and a few other small parts into a pan along with water and a few vegetables. A few hours later, the turkey was done. My cut of the breast left its edges drier than I would have liked, but the center was nicely moist. The crust was very crispy. The dry brine gave the bird a distinct salty taste, something I liked but something to consider when considering the technique. Once I carved the meat off the turkey, I used the bones and vegetables to make a batch of turkey stock. Some turkey drippings went into a pan to create a roux, followe…

Applesauce and Apple Butter

Given my abundance of apples, I decided that I had enough apples for both applesauce and apple butter. Applesauce is a simpler dish. Apple butter is cooked longer to make it thicker, cooked in apple juice or cider for extra flavor, and is heavily spiced. Here are the apples in the pot at the start of the cooking process. Once the apples were soft, I ran them through the food mill to break them down and separate the peels. The milled apples were put back into the pot for more cooking. Once everything was done I loaded it into jars and put them into the pressure canner. I have consumed one jar of applesauce which was delicious; the rest will last me through the dinner.

Homemade Ricotta and Lasagne

After reading this recipe for homemade ricotta in Serious Eats, I decided to make some myself for a batch of lasagne. I boiled milk with a little vinegar to encourage clotting. After cooking, I carefully strained the curds, a process that took quite some time given the small curds. I made two batches of pasta for the lasagne. The yield of ricotta was smaller than I had hoped, even after starting with a half gallon of milk. I managed to eke out a thin covering for two layers of lasagne. As advertised, the ricotta gave a very delicate taste and texture. But its qualities were somewhat masked by the rest of the lasagne. I would reserve the ricotta-making process for other dishes that give a higher platform for its qualities.

Pre-Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is a busy time and getting everyone together in one place can be a challenge. Fortunately, our extended family was able to join in a comforting lunch on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Preparation started the night before when I baked Southern-style cornbread, cubed it, and dried it in the oven. Southern-style cornbread has no added sugar and no wheat flour. The dressing included sausage, onion, celery, and garlic. The main dish was pork shoulder. I braised it in the Dutch oven with some carrots. I eventually cut the 10-pound shoulder in half to make sure it was done on time. The potatoes went into the oven as the first step in mashed potatoes. The dressing went into the oven after the potatoes came out. I riced the potatoes in the food mill then whipped them with milk and butter. Gravy, of course. A sumptuous meal and a wonderful chance to spend time together.

Beans for Dinner

I decided to make vegetarian beans for dinner as a satisfying, hearty meal. The process started by soaking the pinto beans overnight. Next, I sauteed onions, followed by garlic and tomato paste. Browning the tomato paste a little adds flavor. I was, to my great surprise, out of chicken stock. For the first time in several years, I bought vegetable stock at the store, to which I added the pinto beans and fixings. The Dutch oven went onto the stove for a couple of hours. The result was just the sort of belly-warming meal that I had hoped for.