Archive for September, 2010

September 30, 2010

A New Addition to My Drinks Cabinet

The oh-so-talented and ever-so-cool Ely Brothers extended an invite to the recent Nail or Fail event for Drambuie at Garage Bar.  The event pitted bartenders from across Columbus in the battle for the best reimagined Rusty Nail. 

PK voted for Wayne Walters of Park Street Cantina with his Wasabi Nail.  I loved this because it was part cocktail, part appetizer.  Genius.  He was kind enough to share his recipe with me.  And I’m kind enough to share it with you, too.

Wayne Walters’s Wasabi Nail

1 1/4 oz Drambuie

1/4 oz cucumber juice

1/4 oz grated fresh ginger

1/4 oz wasabi

4 oz sour mix

Shake with ice, pour in a martini glass, garnish with a sliver of wasabi marinated carrot and a skewer of shrimp.

Playlist, thanks to the super-cool DJ, included my personal going-out favorite New in Town, by Little Boots. 

To view the rest of the Ely Brothers’ event pics, click here.

September 29, 2010

Salmon with Creamy Leeks and Cannellini Beans

Fish is pretty much your best bet for a quick weeknight meal — it’s healthy and fuss free.   Salmon being one of PK’s favorites, I’ve come up with pretty much a million different ways to fix it.  Tonight, it was simply prepared with salt and pepper, then topped with leeks softened with pancetta and served with creamy cannellini beans and potatoes.  PK tip: if you’re not all that into fish, serving it with potatoes or beans like these really mellows out the fish.  It’s a good first dish for the fish phobic.

While I started with dried beans, if you’re doing this on a weeknight and don’t have the time to soak the beans during the day (about 4 hours), I give my full permission to do the canned thing.  Although for pete’s sake, rinse those things. 

Cube one or two small, peeled potatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, a small tomato and place in a small pan with just enough water to cover, add salt, and if you’ve got it, a bay leaf and maybe a bit of thyme (a fresh sprig would be perfect).  Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are almost falling apart.  Remove the bay leaf and thyme stem, if it’s in there, and without draining the potatoes, crush them lightly with a potato masher.  Add in about 1 1/2 cups of the cooked cannellini beans, a healthy drizzle of olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar and some pepper.  Give it another taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

While the potatoes are cooking, crisp up a slice or two of pancetta (or regular bacon) then lower the heat and add in a sliced leek (white and light green parts only).  When the leek is softened, after about 10 minutes over medium low heat, add in 1/4 cup of cream.  Taste for seasoning and adjust.

In a grill pan (or on the grill, if you’ve got the energy), cook your salmon filets for 10 to 12 minutes, or just until beginning to flake. 

To serve, place a generous spoon of the bean and potato mixture on a warmed plate, top with the salmon filet and spoon over some of that lovely leek sauce.

Nom, nom, nom.

Playlist included El Perro del Mar’s Change of Heart.

September 27, 2010

Brick Lane, Meet Persephone: A Seasonal, Weeknight Curry

Awww! Cherub is such a big help with chopping tomatoes. With a butter knife.


Indian food is something I’ve developed a taste for.  To the point that I crave it regularly.  I didn’t always.  I didn’t understand it; it was a little too exotic.  Now?  Let’s be honest here: I love it.  It has become a point of pride that I’ve tried to learn what I can about a world cuisine that 1.1 billion (with a B) eat every day.  

On Sunday, Hades, Cherub and I made a stop at the Sawmill Patel Brothers, the Indian supermarket, and worked up the ingredients for a lovely English-inspired vegetarian curry (it’s the heavy cream that makes it smack of something that Richard Hammond might enjoy after a few shouts at his local).  Cherub even helped pick out the 10 pound bag of Basmati rice that we ended up taking home.  Add in some seasonal baby eggplants and cauliflower, plus the last (I keep saying this) of the tomatoes from our garden.  Then a lovely melange of Indian spices from Patel to make it delicious.  

These two dishes require a bit of prep, but it’s totally worth the minor, and I do stress minor, effort. 

Lemon Basmati with Curried Eggplant and Cauliflower 

For the Lemon Basmati 

1 c. Basmati rice, soaked briefly in water 

2 c. water 


While you’re doing prep for the rest of dinner, soak the rice in cold water.  When it’s time to get cooking, bring two cups of water to a boil and add in a generous sprinkling of salt.  Then tip in the drained rice, bring back to a boil and then reduce to the lowest setting to simmer slowly for about 15 minutes.  Turn off when done.  You will finish this in a frying pan just before the curry is ready. 

For the Curried Eggplant and Cauliflower 

The cauliflower breaks down significantly in the 30 minutes it cooks. Leave it initially in large chunks, so that you'll have some variety in size when it comes time to serve the dish.


1 bay leaf 

1 small red spicy pepper, whole 

1 black cardamom pod 

3 or 4 green cardamom pods 

1 t. cumin seed 

1 t. mustard seed 

1 red onion, chopped 

1 shallot, chopped 

1 garlic clove, minced 

1/2 inch fresh ginger root, finely grated 

5 or 6 baby eggplants, halved 

1 Japanese eggplant, sliced into rounds 

2 red skinned potatoes, cubed 

1 tomato, chopped 

1 heaping t. of curry 

1/2 t. garam masala 

2 c. water 

1/2 c. heavy cream 

Vegetable oil, salt, pepper (optional) 

In a pan heat a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil over medium high heat.  Add in bay through mustard seed and cook for one to two minutes, until browned.  Careful, the mustard seeds really pop.  If you have a screen to put over the pan, by all means, do it.  Then add in the onion and shallot.  Continue to cook over medium high heat for another two minutes, or until just beginning to brown.  Add in the garlic and the grated ginger.  Cook for 30 seconds.  Tip in eggplant through garam masala, cook for two minutes.  Add in the water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes.  Just before serving, reduce heat to low, add in the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. 

To finish the Basmati 

1/2 t. mustard seeds 

1/2 t. fenugreek seeds 

1/2 cumin seeds 

6 curry leaves 

2 green onions, sliced 

1/2 c chopped almonds 

1/2 lemon, zest and juice 

1/2 inch grated fresh turmeric root (1/2 t. dried turmeric will work just as well) 

1 generous pinch fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish 

In a large frying pan, heat 1 to 2 T. vegetable oil over medium high heat.  Add in the mustard, fenugreek and cumin seeds and the curry leaves.  Cook for one to two minutes, until browned.  Careful of the popping mustard seeds, cover with a lid or splatter screen.  Add in the green onions and almonds, cook for two minutes.  Mix the lemon zest, juice and fresh turmeric and pour in quickly and cook for 20 seconds.  Add in the cooked rice and stir to incorporate the seasonings.  Fry for two or three minutes to reheat. 

To serve, place generous servings of rice and curry in shallow plates, top with chopped coriander. 

Playlist included M.I.A’s Paper Planes.

September 26, 2010

Japanese Crepes from Foodie Cart

Columbus, as the locals all know, has a fast growing number of food carts and food trucks.  PK loves Foodie Cart.  

Sweet people.  Tasty, creative crepes.  And a devoted following

Within two minutes of setting up, a healthy line had already formed, thanks to lots of followers on Twitter and FaceBook.


We sampled the two sweet crepes, not having room for the Tigertree BLT with E&C.   Sigh.  Next time, hopefully. 

We sampled the Azuki Stick and the Kabocha Pumpkin


The Azuki Stick was filled with azuki beans, strawberries and shredded mozzarella.   Nice, nice.  Very nice. 

Azuki Stick with strawberries and mozzarella.


And then the heavenly Kabocha Pumpkin Mont Blanc.  It was like Japanese pumpkin pie in a crepe.  Silky pumpkin, baked meringue and whipped cream.  

September 23, 2010

Thursday Night Turkey, via Slovenia

Poseidon is somewhat of a world traveler.  After spending some time in Slovenia, he brought back with him a delightful way to incorporate turkey into a weekly menu.  He first came across this dish at the restaurant Julija on Ljublijana’s Main Square.  It’s a very typical and traditional Slovene dish, but with Italian notes (after all, Venice is just a stone’s throw).  Turkey and game are more popular there than chicken.  Why not consider a turkey breast for your weeknight meal?  It’s not a lot of work (season the ingredients and toss them in the oven, make a quick sauce), but it’s a lot of flavor.

Julija’s Fennel Turkey with Gorgonzola Bechamel, Roasted Brussels and Potatoes

For the Turkey:

1.5 lb. boneless (skin on!) turkey breast

1 T fennel seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 to 10 fresh sage leaves, chopped

Olive oil, salt, pepper

Combine the fennel, garlic and sage then stuff under the loosened skin on the turkey breast.  Drizzle breast with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place in a roasting pan and put in a 400˚ oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165˚.

For the vegetables:

8 to 10 brussel sprouts, trimmed

2 medium red skinned potatoes, cubed

Salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine the Brussels and potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Arrange on an oiled baking sheet, place in a 400˚ oven (along with the turkey) for approximately 30 minutes, or until vegetables are browned.  Shake the pan once or twice during roasting to evenly brown.

For the Gorgonzola sauce:

2 T butter

2 T flour

¼ c heavy cream

¾ c milk

 2 oz gorgonzola or blue cheese

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over low heat, then add in the flour, stirring to eliminate any lumps.  Cook for one or two minutes.  Whisk in the cream and milk.  Add the cheese and stir to melt.  If the sauce is too thick, add in a bit more milk.  This should only take 3-4 minutes.  Set aside, keeping warm until you are ready to serve.  (Or should you just pour the whole thing over some macaroni?  Perhaps another time…)

To finish the veg:

2 slices bacon, chopped

Apple cider vinegar

To finish the vegetables, cook the bacon in a large pan over low heat until crisp.  Add in the roasted brussels and potatoes, along with a splash of apple cider vinegar.  Stir to incorporate, cook over low heat for a minute or two.

Serve with Hedges C.M.S. White, from Washington State.  It is a shockingly good pairing.

PK tip: be careful, if you have leftover bread in your pantry, you may be tempted to eat the rest of the Gorgonzola sauce out of the pan as you’re cleaning up.  Well, that’s not really a tip.  It’s something to do.  And come to think of it, I recommend it.

Tonight we listened to Hang with Me, by Robyn, amongst other things.

September 23, 2010

Preparations for Columbus Local Foods Week

After dropping off cherub at preschool, I spent a couple of hours this morning helping out at the Local Matters office in preparation for Local Foods week.   It’s a beehive of activity, which is a wonderful thing to see.  I spent the morning bundling thousands of pledge cards for the Eat Local Challenge.  I’ve filled mine out, have you?

Local Matters has a ton of great activities planned for Local Foods Week (October 2-8) like the Harvest Ball, the Market to Market Ride, and the Grilled Cheese Throwdown.  But they are also challenging the community to deepen their connection to local food through their first Eat Local Challenge.

 “This year we wanted to use Local Foods Week to ask the community to step up their commitment to eating more local food, so we’ve launched the Eat Local Challenge.  Individuals pledge a personal commitment to local food and get entered for a chance to win great prizes like a ‘Pantry Makeover’ with local products from Whole Foods, or 26 weeks of the Weekly Fresh Market Bag from the Greener Grocer,” says Local Matters Executive Director (and all around nice guy), chef Michael Jones. 

Roll up your sleeves, grab a fork and get ready to dig in.  PK has a menu that’s starting to take shape for the week and will include local fish, pork, and grass-fed beef, as well as a wide variety of seasonal produce that beautiful Ohio has to offer.  I’ll post recipes every day for all our meals and let you know where you can purchase the same ingredients.

Take the challenge with us!

September 22, 2010

At the Noodle Bar with Mr. Bob Harris

When I first saw Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, it took me somewhere I’d never been.  Those beautiful shots, that dreamy music, the insomnia, discovery and wistful alienation not only transported me to Tokyo, but somehow soothed me as well.

I think Bob and Charlotte might’ve shared a dish like this one night between pachinko and karaoke.  It’s simple, but the Japanese flavors, as always, are sneaky in their complexity.  Take your time making it, and take your time eating it.

Sofia’s masterpiece shows us that the unfamiliar can be scary, but that’s always outweighed by new experiences, new acquaintances, and maybe some lessons learned.  Best of all, it gives us some time to think, daydream, or escape.  Again, this may seem complicated, but it’s really only 4 relatively easy steps.  So just organize your mise en place and relax.  These are calming flavors.  You’ll make a beautiful dish.  Most importantly, if only in your mind, you’ll take a wonderful trip.

Charlotte’s Maguro with Somen, Leek Broth, and Crispy Squid

Serves 2

2/3 – ¾ lbs. of Sashimi-grade Tuna steaks

2 “bands” of somen noodles

For the marinade:

2 generous tablespoons of sake

2 generous tablespoons of soy sauce

1 clove of garlic, finely diced

1 teaspoon of mirin

1 squeeze of lime juice, but yuzu is ideal

Combine the marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl, give it a stir, and set it aside for now.

For the broth:

1 heaped tablespoon of miso

3 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of mirin

1 tablespoon of rice vinegar

a small drizzle of sesame oil

1 leek, white and light green part only, thinly sliced

3-4 shitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated finely

In a saucepan over low heat, add the liquid ingredients.  Then whisk in the miso.  Make sure to whisk until thoroughly incorporated, so as not to leave any clumps.  Then add three cups of water, and bring it to just below a simmer.  Finally, add the ginger, mushrooms, and leeks, and set it on the back burner on low heat until you’re ready to serve.

For the Squid:

2-3 small squid, (cleaned, bodies only)

¼ cup of Panko

1 cup of vegetable oil

Pinch of salt

Cut the squid crossways to make rings.  Place the rings in paper lunch bag or small Ziploc bag with the panko and a pinch of salt and shake.  Heat the vegetable oil to 350˚ in a very small sauce pan and carefully drop in the rings.  They will turn golden brown in about a minute or ninety seconds.  Remove the rings onto a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with a little salt immediately.  Be careful not to eat them all before dinner.

Then get the noodles started.  Somen noodles only take about three minutes in vigorously boiling, unsalted water to cook. 

Sear the tuna.  You can make the tuna on your grill, but since its only cooking for about a minute on each side, this is probably overkill.  Instead, just get your grill pan super hot, lay the tuna in (unseasoned), and sear, for about a minute on each side.  Please do not overcook this fish or it will become mealy and horrible.  A note to the novice:  the fish will be a beautiful red/pink on the inside – and that’s how we want it.  (Red if you’re using yellowfin, pink if you’re using albacore.)

Let it rest for a few minutes and slice into ¼ inch pieces.  Then place these pieces in the waiting marinade for about a minute or two on each side.  This has the advantage of giving you time to plate.

To serve:  Place two ladlefuls of broth in the bottom of a shallow bowl.  Heap the noodles atop the broth.  Then arrange the tuna slices atop the noodles.  Finally, sprinkle the bowl nonchalantly with the crispy squid rings.

Serve with at least one Asahi Super Dry.  Please, seriously, do this.

Playlist included Shugo Tokumaru’s whimsical Parachute, and of course the LiT Soundtrack (nerds, I mean serious fans like me, have the bound, deluxe edition).

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