Tuesday, May 23, 2006

herbivores beware

I just got back from a dinner at Zingerman's Roadhouse (if you live within driving distance - I figure 4 or 5 hours - you must partake in somepart of the Zingerman's empire at some point, but I digress) where they hosted Bill Niman, founder of Niman Ranch. He's got a new cookbook, which I previewed and it was FABulous. The first 2/3 of it is text about his mission, farmers, and about the livestock that they raise. The latter part is filled with recipes from establishments that use beef, pork or lamb under the Niman label. A very creative way to fill the book. Interesting to know the chefs who use this top quality meat.

Overall impression of the tasting menu was that it was wonderfully executed as usual. What stands out most, however, is the salad "Beef short ribs with watercress and local strawberries". My mother and I weren't really expecting beef even on our salads, but this was the most outstanding short rib I have ever tasted especially and possibly as a result of the fact that I have never tasted one that has been only seared. When I make short ribs, however infrequently it may be, although I start with a sear, I always braise them. These were only browned while the inside was left rare. And let me explain that the center of the meat tasted like pudding, not in a disgusting way, but in an almost sexy smoothness. The marbling in these bites was partially melted into the beef, and wow, I can't even explain how good this was. Couldn't get enough of the flavor and the combination. This "salad" was a mixture of tastes that I would not have put together on my own.

If you have a few minutes, please take the time to check out their website, and heck, order some to see how wonderful their product is.

Friday, May 19, 2006

paula deen with unami

Just got done making the most excellent mushroom soup in the entire world. This isn't lowfat - I couldn't control myself so I went ahead and made the full fat version. And man, am I glad. Here's the recipe link: Smoky Portabello Soup adapted from Paula Deen. Seriously even if you don't like mushrooms, get someone to make this soup for you because ever after you will declare yourself a mushroom fan.

But here's how I simplified it. First of all the written part of the recipe totally confused me. Secondly I'm not sure why she (or the food network kitchen staff) decided to roast half of the mushrooms first in the oven. In my mind that's just another dirty pan. Why in the world would we do this to ourselves. So first roughly chop the eight medium portabello and about 6 or 8 shallots (instead of onions). Saute them with 4 whole garlic cloves in the olive oil and liquid smoke for 20 minutes.

While this is happening, make the rue in a pan large enough to eventually hold the cream. After 8-10 minutes add the heavy cream to the rue. Whisk til incorporated. Keep warm but do not bring to a boil.

When the vegetable mixture has sauteed down, add the chicken broth and wine (optional). Using a stick blender, totally puree this mixture.

Add the cream thickened by the rue into the pureed mushroom broth. Taste & season. Simmer at medium heat for 20 minutes. Do not let this come to a rolling boil.

Finish with the slightest touch of cayenne pepper. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous thing.

This soup will totally make you understand the concept "unami". Interested? Read something about it.




Thursday, May 11, 2006


toasted marshmallows. ymmm. okay, here's how I love to do it. put the marshmallow on the stick. quickly dip in and out of the fire for maybe 30 second or so - constantly rotating the stick. DON'T let it catch on fire. Here's the most important part, as I reaffirmed a few nights ago when my husband and I had a nice fire in the crisp spring air. Peel the whole toasted skin off the marshmallow by slipping it off the top. Pop that sucker in your drooling mouth and enjoy while re-toasting the second layer of the very same marshmallow. delish.

a little hershey's and graham crackers don't hurt either.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Don't know why the previous post has the wrong date, but oh well.

So remember I was away relaxing with my husband and suckler. NO, siree. It's sooo much better than that. For my 30th birthday, not only was I at what seems to be the most fabulous place in the world, but my closest friends and family showed up AS A SURPRISE to celebrate it with me. Generally I'm not one to be gullible enough to be surprised, but this?!? I was totally shocked and amazed. Still am. What amazing friends I have. Bet you wish you had them.

It was all in all literally beyond my imagination. I was so relaxed when I got home. Now I totally understand those commercials for a cruise line where the people are so forlorn that only yesterday tea was brought to their rooms promptly at 4 p.m. and only yesterday roses were brought to their room, etc. That's what I felt like when I returned. I tried to say "charge it to the room" at the supermarket, but they thought I'd lost my mind. Haven't had such fun in quite a while.

To bring this back to theme of food and consuming all things good, the food at the resort was fantastic, from the southwestern breakfasts, to the poolside smoothies and southwestern caesar salads (mmm), to the outstanding restaurant LaTilla (who knew smoked antelope would taste so good). Wishing there was a link for you to see the menu. My entree there was fabulous, butter poached Lobster nestled into a cauliflower "risotto" (they added the quotes). Even haters of cauliflower would have loved this mash of cauliflower and peas and a whole lot of cheesy goodness. Made my tongue sing; happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday from my t to my c, happy birthday to me. Explaining that one will have to be yet another post.