Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Color Red

My mom came back from Portland a few weeks ago with a Ziploc bag full of dried chiles. A family friend had sent them home with her knowing I’d appreciate the treat, and she was right. I think that they were chilhuacle negros—a mild fruity Mexican chile—though I am not entirely certain. I am certain, however, that they contributed to a tasty Chile Colorado that I made for my dad, and that I will seek them out again to make the very same dish.

It’s barbeque season, whether the weather thinks so or not, and I am determined to do some fun things on the grill this summer. I made the Chile Colorado ahead of time and we served it with grilled steak, minted summer squash and fresh radishes. It was a nice variation on a classic summer barbeque.
After reading a bunch of recipes, I settled on this hybrid below. I am a huge fan of spicy, and this was not spicy at all. So if you’re looking for a Chile Colorado with a kick, I’d add a few spicier chiles to the mix.

Chile Colorado
12 dried chilhuacle negros 2 T canola oil
3 T finely diced white onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 T fresh oregano, minced
1 t ground cumin
½ t sugar
½ t salt
1 t white vinegar

  • Toast the chiles in a hot frying pan for about 2 minutes, turning regularly. Remove the stems and seeds.
  • Cover the chiles with boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Drain the water and set aside.
  • Blend the chiles with 1 cup of the reserved water until completely pureed.
  • Strain the chile mixture through a fine sieve and discard the solids.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan to medium. Add the onion and sauté for 3 min. Add the garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the cumin, oregano and chile mixture.  
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes. Adding reserved liquid as needed.
  • Mix in the sugar, salt and vinegar.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Honey, Sweetie

Though technically I have an outdoor space at home, it can’t reliably be called a yard. It’s concrete on five sides and open on top. I generously call it a patio, but really it’s the bottom of other peoples’ fire escape. And a drain. Sun sneaks in for an hour or two each day, and that’s barely enough to keep my hostas alive.

I think it’s my lack of a true garden space that allows me to declare with gusto (and no follow through) things like “I want to raise chickens! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” And after tonight, “I want to keep bees!”
Tonight I watched Corky Luster of Ballard Bee Company pull bees out of a hive in a parking lot in Ballard—and I was hooked. They wiggled and squirmed. Some flew around. They all stayed close. And after just a few weeks in their parking lot home they had already started to make honey. It was amazing.

For now, I’ll continue to lean on my limited outdoor space as an excuse and rely on people like the folks at Ballard Bee Company and Sweet As Can Bee Honey to keep me supplied with local gold. But some day, I tell you, I’m going to keep bees.

Here's one of my favorite honey pairings and weeknight desserts:
  • Dark chocolate
  • Sharp cheese—a strong blue is my favorite, tonight I used Pecorino Romano because I had it
  • Toasted whole walnuts
  • Yummy local honey

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Basquiat Frittata

When Jean-Michel Basquiat died at 27, he left behind over 1,000 paintings and 1,000 drawings. I saw a great documentary about him a few weeks ago at the Seattle International Film Festival—and it lit a fire under me.

In addition to the art, he was a millionaire and had dated Madonna—that’s what I call a seriously accomplished 27 year old. 
In the spirit of trying to harness even the tiniest sliver of Basquiat's motivation (glossing over the fact that he developed a drug problem that lead to his death), I am trying to get some things done. This weekend, I finished a quilt that I started in 2007. It is not, mind you, a three-year masterpiece. But rather something I started a long time ago and stopped working on for 2 ½ years. What was I waiting for? No idea. And now it’s done.

So this morning when my friend Carolyn texted about brunch, I looked in my fridge. The remnants of a bunch of Italian parsley, 2 slices of ham, a week old tomato and half a red onion looked at me and said, what are you waiting for? Nothing! Let’s do it.

She came over and we had a simple and lovely frittata. And then we walked to the Capitol Hill farmer’s market for another week of inspiration.
What are you waiting for?

Simple Frittata 
2 T olive oil
½ an onion, finely diced
½ cup left over, prepared veggies (broccoli, sweet potato, tomato, etc)
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (Italian parsley, basil, chives)
1 cup grated parmesan or other hard cheese
4 eggs
4 T heavy cream
1t kosher salt

  • Turn the oven on to broil.
  • Sauté the oil and onion over low heat until translucent, about 15 minutes.
  • Add the veggies to heat.
  • Sprinkle half the cheese and the herbs over the mixture. Do not stir.
  • Beat the eggs with the cream and salt, and pour evenly over the veggie mix.
  • Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minute until the edges of the egg begin to cook.
  • Transfer to the oven (make sure you’re using an oven-safe pan) and broil for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is browned and the eggs are cooked.
  • Slice like a pizza and serve hot.