Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thursday Thoughts on Wednesday

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!That means tonight is baking pie night. We made the cranberries Monday night.

Thanksgiving always makes me think of my grandparents. They both were Thanksgiving babies. My grandpa would have turned 95 on Monday and my grandma would have been 95 today. I miss them.

Last Friday it was 70 degrees. When we went out on Saturday, it was in the 30's and very windy so it felt even colder. Plus there were snow flurries. Boo. We both have been so darn cold in the house even with the heat running. I guess winter is here. Brrrr.

Since this week is Thanksgiving week, instead of turkey sandwiches for lunch, I'm having ham sandwiches with smoked gouda cheese. It's so nice to have something other than turkey & Swiss! But we'll be eating turkey tomorrow - turkey smothered with gravy & sausage stuffing.

Dinners this week:

  • Meatloaf with cauliflower & pasta Sunday-Wednesday
  • Turkey, stuffing, cranberries, green beans with mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, pie on Thursday
  • Dinner TBD with friends on Friday

TV:
We finished the second season of Holiday Baking Championship. Those finale cakes were amazing!
I guessed who was under the sheet a few weeks ago, but I was still anxiously awaiting the reveal on HTGAWM to see if I was right (I was). Looking forward to the second part of the season in January.

Movies:
We watched Trumbo over the weekend. It's a good movie. It seems especially appropriate given the current state of affairs in this country. I watched Hail Caesar this week and was bored. I didn't enjoy it very much.

Books:
The Wrong Side of Goodbye, the new Harry Bosch novel from Michael Connelly. This was another excellent Bosch novel. I don't know what it is about Connelly's writing, but despite this being the 19th (I think) Bosch novel, it doesn't seem like he's just phoning it in like some other authors I regularly read. His writing just sucks you in and you cannot put down the book. I got the book on a Saturday, gave it to my dad on Sunday (because I decided to read the new Jack Reacher first), and my dad was done by Tuesday. He brought it back to me Friday and we swapped Jack & Harry books. I started reading Saturday, and by Sunday night I was done (and likewise, dad was done with Jack Reacher by Sunday night). Now that we've devoured the new Harry & Jack books, we have to wait probably another year for the next ones.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Teppanyaki Kyoto

This past weekend, we tried a new-to-us restaurant: Teppanyaki Kyoto. It's in Highland Park, near Park Bruges. When we entered, it was so wonderfully warm & cozy inside on the first really cold night of this winter season. I felt like I was back in Japan as "Irrashaimase!" was called out in greeting. We hadn't made reservations, arrived a bit after 5 pm, and were seated right away. We sat at a table but in the back there is an area with a traditional tatami flooring/seating area.

We decided to share a bottle of white peach Chuu-Hai - basically, a flavored malt beverage. It was good for something different.
After living in Japan for 2 years, I am extremely particular about Gyoza. Not all dumplings are real dumplings in my mind. When I was younger, I loved dumplings at Chinese restaurants. Now, I hate them. The dumpling wrapper is too thick, too doughy, and the stuff on the inside is usually kind of revolting to me. Ick. I only like gyoza dumplings - thin dough wrapper. Everyday Noodles gets it right. So does Teppanyaki Kyoto. These were terrific. Just like I remember, even the sauce. It brought back memories of many lunch meals with a co-worker at a local place. We'd each get an order of gyoza for lunch and a bowl of gohan with a small topping like ebi (shrimp) tenpura and that would fill us up until late in the evening.
SP started with Daikon Salad. Daikon (mild flavored radish) is not really my thing. I'll eat it. Not wanting to offend hosts, I ate a lot of it in Japan. I like it, just not enough to go looking for it. SP likes it a lot and really liked this simple salad of daikon, seawood, and bonito.
I couldn't resist ordering the Korokke, mostly for nostalgic reasons. When I lived on my own, I'd stop at the grocery store after work and pick up dinner. Usually, I went for the prepared foods section. One of my favorites was korokke (croquettes) - mashed potato pancake, fried, maybe some veggie inside. These definitely lived up to memory, especially with that dipping sauce.
Another nostalgic order: Yakitori. There were five skewers: tsukune (chicken meatball), pork belly, pork wrapped cherry tomato (which I'd never seen in Japan, but maybe it's a new thing, it's been a while since I was there), shiitake, and chicken with scallion. Sure, I've had versions of yakitori in the US, but none were ever as tasty as the local yakitoriya near my apartment in Kyoto. This was good, but honestly, nothing will ever live up to the memory of that yakitoriya, with the red lanterns marking the door, gathering there with friends, and over indulging in kirin and yakitori.
When SP visited Japan, he had been told he had celiac disease. Turns out he doesn't. Sadly, there were several dishes he wanted to try while there but couldn't, like Takoyaki. I do not like takoyaki (octopus dumpling with bonito on top). He liked them.
For my "main" dish I chose Yakisoba with Shrimp. This was another nostalgic choice plus I wanted to see if I would finally have a yakisoba as delicious as the ones I ate in Japan. Usually, the sauce tastes off to me. This time, it was just right. It tasted like I was back in Japan, slurping up noodles and cabbage.
When Teppanyaki Kyoto opened, it was billed as the place for okonomiyaki, which is not usually a dish at Japanese restaurants here in the US. I ate a lot of okonomiyaki in Japan and while I like it, it's like daikon, something I'll eat when in Japan but not something I'll seek out. I've heard it described as Japanese pancake. It's a batter with your choice of mixed-in ingredients (okonomi = as you like it), cooked on one side then flipped to finish cooking. It's a lot thicker than what we think of as a pancake. Again, SP couldn't eat this when he was there, so he decided to try it now. He chose Okonomiyaki with Squid & Fried Egg. It comes drizzled with Japanese mayo (he chose spicy) and topped with seaweed powder & bonito flakes that "dance" from the heat of the okonomiyaki.

I was surprised he chose this because of the batter carbs and because of the mayo drizzle. I think he liked it, he said he did, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't order it again because of carbs/mayo. It's big and filling.

I enjoyed our meal at Teppanyaki Kyoto. It brought back a lot of memories of my time in Japan and made me rather nostalgic & wistful for those days. The food I ate definitely tasted like what I ate in Japan - it wasn't some strange American version of Japanese food. Service was great. We'd go back.

  Teppanyaki Kyoto Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend we ate a lot of yummy food. Saturday evening was my birthday dinner with SP. This year I picked Morcilla. As usual, an excellent meal. I really like the albarino wine I always order (SP orders a cider and then a gin drink).
I LOVE the Oxtail Montaditos (caramelized onion, Mahón cheese). I also start drooling when I think of the serrano ham, lamb meatballs, jamon croquetas with leek ash aioli, and dessert churros. Those are our "usuals."
This time we also shared:

  • Tortilla Espanaola (Spanish potato omelette, piperade, piquillo pepper aioli) 
  • Churro de Chorizo (tomato membrillo, manchego)
  • Who Cooks For You Farm 'Rocky Balboa' Salad (smoked goat cheese, asian pear, toasted pistachio, vanilla-concord grape vinaigrette). 

SP tried Sardinas Picantonas (preserved sardines in hot sauce).

It was a delicious birthday meal. We've been to Morcilla 3 times and all 3 meals have been terrific.

Then on Sunday we went to brunch at Eleven.
I had my usual Grilled Sticky (cinnamon swirl brioche, bacon butterscotch icing) for the first course whole SP ordered the Short Rib Hash (poached egg, horseradish, mustard seed jus). Oh my goodness that short rib hash was fantastic and I sort of wish I'd ordered it. But that would mean giving up the Grilled Sticky.
My second course was my usual Eggs Benedict (English muffin, hollandaise, truffle vinaigrette, prosciutto cotto, arugula, citrus) and SP chose Scottish Salmon Salad (local mesclun greens, fennel, cucumber, lemon aioli).
Of course we got dessert! Crème Fraîche Brûlée (raspberry almond macaron) and Warm Apple Pie (candied almonds, Greek yogurt, honey ice cream). Delicious and filling - we didn't eat anything the rest of the day.

Meals This Week:

  • Roast Chicken with Roasted Vegetables (fingerling potatoes, carrots, Brussels, onion)

Yes. Roast chicken and veggies every night. Monday through Friday. It takes a long time for us to eat an entire roast chicken. I will not want roast chicken again for 6+ months.

TV:

  • We finished Luke Cage a couple weeks ago. We really liked it and are looking forward to the next season.
  • We've been recording & watching a lot of the Holiday Baking Championship shows on Food Network. We finished Season 1 of Holiday Baking Championship and started Season 2 (Season 3 is the new season). 

Movies: 
I watched Money Monster this week and thought it was just OK.

Books: 
Night School (a Jack Reacher book) by Lee Child. I spent Monday afternoon and evening reading it (SP went to see some Dr. Who movie thing at the theater). I couldn't put it down, so, as usual, a great Reacher book.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Copperstone Restaurant (Snoqualmie)

Back to blogging about our Seattle trip since we haven't been cooking much new & exciting! We spent a day in Snoqualmie, visiting the Northwest Railway Museum & riding the train and seeing Snoqualmie Falls. After our train ride, we were hungry. We ended up at a restaurant pretty much right across the street from the train depot: Copperstone. It's an Italian restaurant.
We started with iced teas and salads. I liked that the salad was mixed greens and not iceberg. It was a nice salad.
SP chose a special of the day: Butternut Squash Ravioli. He really liked this dish but afterward he kept asking me for mints because it was, apparently, a bit garlicky, or at least he kept tasting it after the meal.
I opted for Layered Lasagna (layers of wide pasta, ricotta, ground beef and meat sauce, topped with mozzarella, baked golden brown). It was good. Quite large for lunch for me and I couldn't finish it all. Lots of cheese.

It was definitely a very filling lunch, probably more than we wanted or needed, but it made us feel a lot better and kept us going the rest of the day. Our server was very good and the food tasty. If we're back in Snoqualmie, we'd return for lunch or dinner.


Copperstone Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chicken with Vermouth-Sage Pan Sauce

When we returned from vacation, we wanted some lighter meals after 2 weeks of eating at restaurants. We also were "vacation tired" so we didn't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Our solution: Chicken with Vermouth-Sage Pan Sauce served with a salad of arugula, spiralized apple, walnuts, and the about to expire goat cheese.
This recipe is from The Science of Good Cooking (America's Test Kitchen). Prep work is pretty easy: chop a shallot and pick & rinse some fresh sage from the pot on the deck.
Brown the chicken & then roast it in the oven to get those great brown bits for the sauce. Remove the chicken, pour off the fat, and saute the shallots.
Add chicken broth, vermouth, and sage and simmer, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. The sauce should thicken and reduce after 5-10 minutes. Whisk in some butter and remove the sage.
Pour sauce over chicken and eat.
We kept our sauce and chicken separate. We reheated a little bit of the sauce each night for dinner. The first night, after the chicken cooled, SP removed all the meat from the bones and we ate the chicken cold with reheated sauce poured over top the chicken on the leftover nights.

This was delicious. The sauce had great flavor from the browned bits, shallot, sage, and vermouth. It actually ended up having a bit too much shallot flavor for me since after 2 nights of "marinating" the sauce started to bother my stomach. So I stopped eating it, but not because it wasn't super yummy, simply because my stomach was reacting to too much shallot. I think next time we might strain out the shallot but keep it "on the side" for SP.

Recipe here and here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Green Bean & Tomato Casserole

I still have a few posts from vacation in drafts, but I thought I'd take a break from Seattle restaurants and post this delicious casserole we made a couple of weeks ago: Green Bean & Tomato Casserole. I ripped it out of the Thanksgiving issue of Food Network Magazine. I'm always a little suspicious of recipes by the Food Network Kitchen (as opposed to the ones in the magazine from Giada, Bobby, Anne, Ina). We've tried a few and they were just OK/not that great. But we decided to give this one a whirl anyway and I am so glad we did because we both really, really liked this casserole.
It helps that it's super easy. The green beans do not need to be blanched first. The tomatoes are canned tomatoes so there's no washing/chopping/juicing. There is a little grating (parmesan) and chopping (rosemary & parsley if you use fresh) but otherwise it's pretty much saute and simmer stuff in a skillet, occasionally stirring, then dump in a 3 quart baking dish, sprinkle on topping, and bake until heated through.
It's delicious, reheats nicely, and gave us our vegetable side for 4 dinners. I've always liked green beans and tomatoes together. The bread crumbs and cheese topping adds a nice extra flavor but it does get a little soggy from the juices. It's still yummy, it just doesn't stay crunchy.

Notes: we omitted the garlic & used shallot instead, SP added the red pepper flakes to his serving on his plate, and since we've never seen, and didn't see when we did the weekly shopping, canned cherry tomatoes, we used a can of diced tomatoes.

This would be a nice side at Thanksgiving but I have a feeling we'll be making it a lot as our veggie side in the coming months because it's so easy and good for colder months.

Recipe here.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Staple & Fancy Mercantile

Our last meal in Seattle was the fourth Ethan Stowell restaurant we tried: Staple & Fancy Mercantile. We made reservations for a Monday evening, a little early since we were getting up early the next day, and when we arrived we were seated right away. I noticed the floor right away and when I asked, they confirmed the floors were the original wood floors and that it used to be a factory (if I remember that correctly). There   is an exposed brick wall with "Cigar" painted on it (one of those old, handpainted advertisements, ghost signs).
Staple & Fancy has a Chef's Tasting Menu and that was tempting, but we didn't want to eat too much plus with my pickiness (no fish, no garlic) we decided to simply order a la carte.
We started with Mixed Greens (champagne vinaigrette). Simple, but delicious. I was careful to not eat too much, though, because it tasted like there was quite a bit of shallot or onion in the dressing and too much of that bothers me.
We also started with Heirloom Tomatoes with burrata and greens.
Like the mixed greens salad, simple but so darn delicious. I ate more than my half because I gave SP puppy dog eyes when I asked for more cheese & tomato. I let him eat more of the salad.
For his meal, he chose Wood Grilled Whole Fish (brown butter, capers, lemon, fried herbs). That night it was branzino.
I really don't like looking at eyes on my food, or the mouth, but he seems OK with it. Anyway, he said the fish was delicious.
The reason I wanted to try Staple & Fancy: Papparedelle (beef bolognese, mint, ricotta salata). This was delicious, but also seemed to have a bit of heat to it. I'm not sure why since the description didn't mention any pepper or other ingredients that would cause heat. It made me think of the pasta I ate for lunch from Il Corvo Pasta but that pasta's description said black pepper-red wine sauce so I expected an intense black pepper flavor/heat. Sadly, I couldn't truly enjoy this dish because it left to much of a tingly heat in my mouth. SP tasted it, too, and was surprised. He helped me with my dish but we couldn't finish it, me because of the heat and him because he'd just eaten an entire fish.
I was full and kind of sad and didn't really want dessert, but SP persuaded me to share a coffee panna cotta with a huckleberry (? some kind of red berry) topping and macadamia nuts. I don't like nuts and I didn't like the red fruit stuff with coffee panna cotta so I wasn't a fan of this dessert. He thought it was great. That's good, because all I ate was one bite and he was on his own for the rest.

SP really liked everything. I was disappointed. I don't expect a champagne vinaigrette to be so flavored with shallot/onion/garlic, which upsets my stomach. My entree was too peppery hot. And the coffee-red fruit dessert didn't work for me. I will say it was a well paced meal, not rushed, our server was terrific, and I liked the atmosphere from the old building, the wood floors and exposed brick with old sign. I just didn't totally enjoy my food.



Staple & Fancy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

I'm still pretty speechless over what the election results revealed about this country. I am ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed, stunned that this country elected that man. This house is full of sadness and some tears right now and not much optimism since all 3 branches of government are controlled by the same party. There are no longer checks and balances in our government.

Meals This Week:
  • We had my birthday dinner with SP's family at Central Diner so dinners Sunday & Monday were food from Central Diner.
  • Tuesday, my birthday, I had lasagna that my mom brought me last week when she made lasagna.
  • Wednesday-Thursday-Friday are vegetable soup nights.
  • Dessert has been a piece of cake from Central Diner that lasted 3 nights.
Movies: One afternoon  I got sucked into The Bourne Ultimatum. I love Jason Bourne books & movies. We went to see Dr. Strange. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. From the previews, I expected to be confused and annoyed with sci-fi time travel crap and mystical crap and stuff but I wasn't. Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Books: I read Escape Clause by John Sandford. It's the latest Virgil Flowers novel. I always enjoy Sandford's books. I also read the latest Joanna Carl book, The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha. It was a light, quick, distracting read.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Lola

The third Tom Douglas restaurant we tried while in Seattle was Lola. It's described as,"Lola features the classic produce of the Pacific Northwest mingled with cooking styles of Greece; the menu offers modern Mediterranean and North African riffs on local ingredients such as Anderson Valley lamb, Penn Cove shellfish and wild King salmon." We made reservations for a Sunday and were seated right away when we arrived.
For beverages, SP chose The 4th Ave (rye, local cherry bounce liqueur, amoro, benedictine, bitters) and I chose wine (Lola white, small carafe (8.5 oz)). We both really liked our choices.
We started off by sharing Haloumi Cheese Kebab (kalamata fig, fig balsamic). I'm still trying to decide whether or not I really like figs (I waver on it) but this sizzling plate was delicious. Lots of charred onions to go with the figs and cheese.
For his meal, SP chose Northwest Shellfish Kakavia( clams, mussels, prawn, fennel, celery, ouzo, grilled bread). As always, he enjoyed his seafood medley.
Since the lamb dish I had my eye on had lots of garlic in it, I instead opted for Braised Beef Shortrib (ricotta dumplings, braised greens, roasted garlic yogurt) without the yogurt. The dumplings were amazing and the shortrib was pull apart tender.
We couldn't agree on dessert so we ordered two. The "SP dessert" was Goat Cheese Turnovers (honey, mint, pistachios). He thought they were fantastic. I liked them, but they're not really my kind of dessert.
This is my kind of dessert: Breakfast Doughnuts with raspberry jam and vanilla mascarpone. These are maybe the best doughnut dessert I've ever had. The mascarpone with the jam smushed on the pillowy fried dough was heavenly. I'd go back just for these doughnuts.

Lola was another great dining experience in Seattle and probably my favorite of the 3 Tom Douglas places we tried. Relaxing, great service, delicious food and drink, within walking distance of our hotel. We'd go back next time we're in Seattle.


Lola Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Birthday & Election Thoughts

It's November 8. Many years ago, I was born on Sunday, November 8 (a few weeks early - I should have been a Thanksgiving baby like my grandparents were). My dad always says I was born after Pitt lost to Notre Dame and before the Steelers beat the Jets. I have no idea how he remembers that.

It's also Election Day. Not just any November Election Day, but Presidential Election Day. I didn't realize just how much I cared who won until a few weeks ago when I started feeling anxious and panicked. One day I nearly cried at the thought of one candidate winning and the other losing. Maybe it was just girl hormones.

SP has been threatening to take away my access to the internet and TV to force me to stop looking at election coverage. I tend to get a little agitated when I read election news. We haven't been watching the 11 pm news because we cannot take listening to election coverage. We haven't been watching any live TV because we cannot stand the election ads. 

It's also a hockey night in Pittsburgh. SP and and bunch of friends share season tickets and he attends several games every season. They hold a "draft" to select games. This year, he somehow picked, and got, tickets to a game on my birthday. I told him it was OK to go, but of course I'm going to give him a hard time and guilt him.

So SP is celebrating my birthday with his brother at the Pens game.

I'm celebrating at home, all by myself, dining on my usual lunch of roasted turkey with Swiss cheese on a toasted English muffin and for dinner, a thawed piece of my mom's lasagna. I don't even have a special treat for dessert because he won't get home until it's too late for dessert.

He also made me promise that if I turned on the TV I wouldn't watch the election news. I'm not sure what else there is to watch. I guess the hockey game.

Birthdays definitely get less exciting the older you get.

Hopefully I'll get a great birthday present and the awful candidate will lose. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Brouwer's Cafe

After a day at Chittenden Locks and checking out the Fremont Troll, we went in search of a mid-afternoon meal. We knew we wanted to try Brouwer's Cafe. It was a little difficult to find because there is not a huge sign. I couldn't really see the above sign on the sidewalk through the parallel parked cars. SP finally pulled over and dashed off to check it out. Once we confirmed we were in the right place, we tried to park. Parking is difficult in Seattle. I get that public transportation is better than everyone driving everywhere, but it's not always easy/convenient if you are in a wheelchair. Finally we found an open space, parallel parked, and walked 1-2 blocks over to the restaurant.
It was around 2:30 pm, so things were slow, just a few other occupied tables. It's a pretty large space with an upstairs area, too. There are dark wood tables, generously spaced, a long bar, and sort of a creepy Gothic feel as this watches you from above:
There is a HUGE draft beer list:
There is an equally HUGE whiskey list:
Did I mention all the beer? And the long bar?
SP enjoyed a beer. I didn't try anything. I was dealing with my cold and a drippy nose and just wanted tea.
I chose Croque Savoyard (Parmesan, Emmenthaler, toasted bread, roasted red peppers, basil, tomatoes; add an organic egg). It was really tasty and filling. The frites were good, too. You get to choose a dipping sauce for the frites: mayo, aioli, rémoulade, Bourbon dragon sauce, chipotle mayo, or curry ketchup. I chose rémoulade and enjoyed it.
SP opted for Traditional Mussels & Frites (Penn Cove mussels, sautéed shallots and garlic in a white wine cream sauce, served with fresh baguette). They must have been good mussels because he finished them quickly and started in on his fries before I had eaten even a quarter of my sandwich. SP chose bourbon dragon sauce for his frites sauce and liked it but also dipped in my rémoulade.
One of the reasons I had Brouwer's on my list was this dessert: Gaufre Liege (cinnamon-vanilla waffle with caramelized sugar, red wine poached pear, and vanilla bean ice cream). We shared this. It was good. I could have used a little more pear but I liked how the ice cream melted into the crisp waffle.

We'd definitely go back the next time we're in Seattle. Lots of beer and whiskey, tasty food, good service, great atmosphere.


Brouwer's Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato