Food Hero

Provencal Salad by appetista
December 19, 2008, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Provencal Salad

C'est magnifique!

Tuna, tomatoes,

Yellow potatoes,

And green beans dress my plate.

Capers and oil,

Eggs from a boil,

This meal will be first rate.

This is the salad to save your Thursday night. By Thursday, the lettuce needs CPR, the fish was eaten days ago, and the curry paste is lying to you when it says it can make all the leftovers taste fresh again. What you need is something fresh, something jazzy, something that will convince your family to eat a few vegetables. This, my friend, is the salad for you. One of the reasons I like this salad is that there are some long steps in between. The eggs must boil, the potatoes must cook. This gives you ample opportunity to open a bottle of wine, relax, and enjoy cooking. The recipe says to use good quality canned Italian tuna. In my world, Bumblebee in oil is Italian. I’m sure Chicken of the Sea in oil would be Italian too.

(An aside – there are some luxuries in life that I don’t let myself try. I do this because I live in blissful ignorance of how inferior the cheaper stuff is. If I were to try real Italian tuna for $7 a can, I’m afraid I could never go back to $3 Bumblebee. Mozzarella cheese is the same for me, and so is vodka. Several years ago, I switched from canned black olives and jarred green olives with pimentos to the olive bar at the expensive grocery store. My life is better for it, but my wallet is not.)

This salad is incredibly easy to make as well. You don’t have to worry about judging the doneness of meat. There are no fine knife skills involved. What I’m trying to say is that if you make it through the first bottle of wine and onto the second, you will still have a fantastic dinner and avoid the emergency room. And that, my friends, is all you can ask for from a salad.

The recipe comes from Gourmet (July 2007) and makes about four servings in a little under an hour.

Provencal Salad

For dressing

¼ c white wine vinegar

2 t dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ t sugar

⅓ c extra-virgin olive oil

For salad

1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved

1 pound small (1- to 2-inch) yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold

2 (6-ounce) cans tuna in olive oil, drained

12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

½ c pitted Kalamata olives

3 T rinsed drained bottled capers

½ c finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

4 hard-boiled large eggs, quartered

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic, sugar, ½ t salt, and ¼ t peper, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Cook beans in a pot of boiling salted water (2 T salt for 6 quarts water), uncovered, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain beans and pat dry.

Add potatoes to boiling water and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain. Halve potatoes while still warm.

Gently flake tuna and toss with 1 tablespoon dressing. Toss potatoes and beans with tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley, and remaining dressing in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and top with tuna and eggs.


Huevos Rancheros by Katy K
December 14, 2008, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Breakfast/Brunch, Katy K | Tags:


A few years ago, I ordered the Huevos Rancheros at Etta’s Seafood restaurant near Pike Place Market (one of Tom Douglas’s excellent restaurants in Seattle) and it was a revelation.  My dining partner commented on the alacrity with which I attacked my breakfast that morning.  Since then, when I have time on a weekend morning (or after a long bike ride), I make a breakfast that was inspired by what was on my plate that day. This has evolved to include Chorizo al Vino, Salsa Fresca, and black beans, along with scrambled eggs and sliced avocado.  The Chorizo al Vino is from a cookbook called Tapas by Penelope Casas.  The Salsa Fresca is adapted from The All-New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking and the black beans are based on the Brazilian Black Beans recipe also in The All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking. Make as much of each as you want to eat. The Salsa Fresca is enough for 2-3 servings for me. The quantity of the black beans is defined by the can of beans and results in enough for 3-4 servings. As for the chorizo sausages, cook up as many as you can eat!

Chorizo al Vino
Spanish style chorizo (I use a brand called Dona Juana)
white wine

Take chorizo sausage, use a fork to poke holes in it, and put it in a pan with 1/2 its weight in white wine (for 4 ounces of sausage use 2 ounces of white wine). Cover and simmer until the wine is almost gone. Slice the chorizo into 1/4 inch slices and and cook them in the same amount of white wine, uncovered, until the wine is almost gone. The recipe says to serve it in the pan it was cooked in for tapas. I just put it on my plate for breakfast. I keep chorizo in my freezer and this recipe is a good way to thaw  frozen chorizo as well.

Salsa Fresca
1/3  Cup     onion, diced
1/2  Tblsp   lime juice, fresh squeezed 

2/3  Cup      grape tomatoes, diced
1     Tblsp    fresh cilantro, chopped
1     clove    garlic, pressed 
1/4   tsp       (or more) serrano chile, diced 
salt and pepper to taste 

Mix the diced onion and fresh lime juice together and set aside until ready to serve. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and set aside until ready to serve (I think the lime juice mellows the onion). When you are ready to eat, mix all of the ingredients together and serve.  

Black Beans
1/2   Tblsp   extra virgin olive oil
1/2    Cup     onion, diced
1/2    Cup     green bell pepper, diced
1       15 oz   can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4    tsp       ground cumin
1/8    tsp       (or more) red pepper flakes
1/4    Cup      orange juice, fresh squeezed
2       Tblsp   sherry 
salt and pepper to taste 

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the onion and green pepper and cook until soft and just starting to turn brown at the edges, add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds. I like to add the garlic near the end of onion-cooking so that it doesn’t overcook, brown, and turn bitter. Add the orange juice and sherry to deglaze a little and then add the beans, cumin, and red pepper flakes.  Cover and simmer until the beans are heated through. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid until the beans are the consistency that you would like them to be.

Make some scrambled eggs, slice some fresh avocado, mix the salsa fresca ingredients together, and serve everything on a handsome plate.  Normally, Huevos Rancheros are served with tortillas. I’m not really that into tortillas (or bread, or pasta, or rice – I know – gasp – but I do like french fries – that’s in my heritage), so I eat this dish as is, but you enjoy it as you like it!


Happy Hour – Whiskey Sour by Katy K
December 6, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: cocktails, happy hour, Katy K | Tags:


Maker's Mark Whiskey Sour

Maker's Mark Whiskey Sour

Tom Chiarella wrote a piece for Esquire entitled “The 75 Skills Every Man Should Master“. It’s fun read.  A friend at work asked me why I was reading such an article and, though I think one should not have to defend oneself for reading, I said that I need to know these things so I can be my own man and not have to depend on a man to be one for me…and maybe I can judge whether he is man enough for me…but I digress… 
Among all the skills one should master, #17 is “Make one drink, in large batches, very well”. That’s good advice – don’t you think?
Mr. Chiarella’s drink is the Whiskey Sour and you can find the large batch recipe in his article.  Now, I love a good Whiskey Sour, and I had been trying to work out the proportions for myself by trial-and-error. Since I read the article I have found this recipe to be quite reliable. 

Per drink:

2    oz  whiskey
1/2 oz  fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz  simple syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal volume of water)

photo4Just stir, serve on the rocks, and enjoy.  Maker’s Mark is in my photo and it is a nice American whiskey that I bought for the Thanksgiving Manhattans last week. It makes a delicious Whiskey Sour but I think I prefer Canadian-style “rye” like Seagram’s VO or Seagram’s 7.  I’ve heard that Canadian rye is not real rye but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.  I find that many Canadian whiskeys are milder-tasting than the American whiskeys I’ve tried.  With a lighter whiskey, the taste of the lemon in the Sour is more forward, which I like, but your choice of whiskey depends on what you’re in the mood for. Now that it is winter, the Maker’s Mark is satisfying, but in the summer, on the deck of my friend’s boat on Lake Union, Whiskey Sours made with Canadian rye are just the ticket.