March 23 - Yam Cubes, Noodle Bowls

Such donuts!

No, this post has nothing to do with donuts. I just had to pick up two dozen of them from Top Pot for a thing at work, and I'd never been in possession of so many donuts before. It was a little magical. I mean, just look at them!

Aaaanyway. . . . I've been a little preoccupied with sweet potatoes and yams lately. I blame this one on my dad. I don't think he likes them, so we never had them when I was younger. This was also the case with brussel sprouts. And music videos. So now, having discovered them as an adult, I'm completely OD-ing on them. I'm sure the sweet potato-related madness is setting in as I type this. It makes them no less delicious. Like, for instance, when I decided to dice, toss with rosemary,salt and pepper, and fry them in a little oil.

Cubes = 3D goodness

I liked how this cooked them faster - I've found that yams seem to take much longer to cook than regular potatoes. Or even sweet potatoes, which I guess are different. Who knew.

They seemed like a great side dish for the pork dish that I think I found on Serious Eats, which involved a pork tenderloin cut into medallions, seared, then finished in a sauce containing brandy, mustard, tarragon, and cream.

Are we tired of pork yet? Of course not!

It was pretty simple, although I misjudged and undercooked the pork slightly. I guess I still have to fine-tune my meat-ometer. Not to be confused with a meatometer. Still, after adjusting the cooking time they turned out quite lovely. Especially perched atop some fresh asparagus next to those lovely yammy cubes.

Presentation is half the meal. Um, right.

Having an entire international district at my disposal has proven to be one of my favorite things about this great city I live in. It provides me with the opportunity to indulge in lots of great food for not so lots of money. It's also great because there seems to be a never-ending supply of tiny eateries I have yet to check out.

On Saturday night following a stop at the Punk Rock Flea Market, a few friends and I decided to check out Szechuan Noodle Bowl. It's a tiny place with about 10 tables, but we were determined to sample their wares. It turned out to be pretty worth it.

Check it out! As we were awaiting our food, a couple of ladies came out to the dining room and starting making dumplings. By hand. This seemed to me a very good thing, and of course we had to order some of those dumples.

Discs? Chop chop!

And my god they were awesome. We had the pork dumplings, which were tender and lovely. They were swimming in a lightly spicy sauce which complimented the mildly porky innards just perfectly. Honestly, they were my favorite part of the meal. And I ate most of them. But I don't even care. Ha!


Mostly because of course, since I was there, we didn't have to worry about not ordering enough food. Aside from the dumplies we also got a green onion pancake for the table, which was also of superior quality. It had a nice light crisp to it, and it was thick without being too doughy or heavy. It also wasn't greasy as I've experienced other, lesser pancakes to be. Success.

Would it be good with maple syrup? I wonder. . .

Sean, who had suggested this restaurant to begin with, ordered the house specialty: szechuan beef noodles soup. It had a really nice flavor - deep and subtle with not super spicy overtones. I'd say this was a winner too.


That boy of mine ordered the pork noodles with brown sauce, which was accompanied by cucumber sticks. Man I love cucumber sticks. I'm not sure why I ever consume cucumbers any other way. The little cubes of pork had a nice flavor to them, and a slightly springy texture. I'm curious as to how they're made, but I find it's best not to question things like that. Just accept. And enjoy.


I think the best part of the meal (aside from those luscious, lovely dumplings) was the noodles. They were so chewy and soft and fresh tasting - it makes me want to make noodles from scratch all the time. Then I remember that I'm lazy. But it's okay, because I can go to Szechuan Noodle Bowl and enjoy them at relatively low prices. Mmmm. . . noooooooooodle. . . . .

And here's a picture of Moos looking silly. This is what fresh noodles do to people.



March 16 - PUSA, Roast Beef, and Duck Soup


Sometimes being a grownup is weird. Like for instance when a band from your youth decides to get back together and you can go see them now because your parents can't tell you that you're not allowed to go. Well, they could, but would you listen?

I went to see the Presidents of the United States of America at The Paramount, this beautiful theatre in downtown Seattle. It's actually far too pretty for rock shows. They should have classier stuff there. Like performance art.

Anyway, it was an alright show - PUSA is great live. They're great performers, and they really make sure the crowd is having fun. And here's where it gets weird - the crowd. I was standing next to 12 year olds and 45 year olds. There was a hipster couple behind us complaining about a fat hippie in a utilikilt blowing up balloons and bouncing them over the crowd. During the show this awkward soccer mom moshed into me. So, so weird.

Smile, you're a winner!

And what's with this? They incorporated a horn section made up of high school kids. What did those kids do to play with PUSA? And why didn't I get to do stuff like that when I was in band? All we ever got to do was play with the orchestra. And there's nothing worse than a high school orchestra. Except maybe a deaf school orchestra. But I bet those don't even exist. Probably.

Luckeeeee. . . .

The next day my grandfather invited me over for lunch. Pretty sweet, because my grandfather is a great cook and I love free lunch. Especially free duck soup lunch.

It was actually a style I'd never had before - really smoky and five-spicy with . . . donuts!

Fixin' for some soup.

Okay, not those kind of donuts. Chinese donuts are basically light dough fried chewy. I've never had them before, so I guess I'm not sure what other applications they have, but they were an interesting addition to the soup. They don't have a super distinct flavor on their own, but they took on the broth enough to soften just a bit and get. . . ducky.

Is there anything better than soup?

Left to my own devices for my next meal, I let that boy pick out ingredients for me to cook up at home. He came home with a beef tri-tip roast. Having never worked with this cut of meat before, I decided to play it safe: I seared it on the stove, deglazed the pan with some brandy, caramelized some shallots and garlic in the pan, and then tossed everything in the oven with a shot of balsamic vinegar.

Cooking like a grownup!

It was a fair success. It's a far more tender cut of beef than I'd thought, and the sweet potatoes I cut up and put in the roasting pan took on a lot of great flavor. I'm getting better at this.

Another thing I'm going to get better at is taking pictures of my food. I'm studying up on techniques to fix. . . I mean, enhance all my crappy. . . er, amateur photos.


March 15 - Pike Place, Snackin!

Spring! It's. . . springing!

One thing I love about living in Seattle is Pike Place Market. Yes, it is touristy and showy, and generally crowded and ridiculous, but it's still a local market full of fresh produce, seafood, and other great products. Sometimes it's great just to stop in for a drink or a snack.

The drink was what drew me in on Saturday. There's a fresh juicery I like to stop by when I'm downtown because the old Asian women who work there always seem irritated with all the tourists. It makes me smile while I'm drinking my refreshing strawberry beverage.

Juice and juice fixins.

I also can't resist the call of delicious porkmeats from the Chinese snackery next door. My boy likes the steamed bbq pork buns, but I usually get the bbq pork on a stick. What could be better than meat on a stick? Convenient and refined.

Always with the pork.

I also love the Market because there's always something to make me think, WTF? Such as. . . bizarre produce. I believe this was the first place I encountered the Grapple, that unholy marriage of delicious fruit and noxious Dimetapp. So you can imagine my curiosity and trepidation at the sight of this:

Purple asparagus? Why??

And there was also a cat in a sweater. The picture of a spirit broken.

Mr. Rogers cat? Why??

A trip to Pike Place is never complete without stopping at Le Panier. It's pretty much stating the obvious, but they make the most delicious French pastries I've had outside of . . . um. . . France.

Shelf after shelf of golden delicious.

Every time I go I spend about 15 minutes perusing the buttery goodness before ultimately deciding to get a Palmier. AKA heaven in baked good form. If I learned how to bake these, fattie wouldn't begin to describe me.

Nobody tell me how to make these.

That night I had friends coming over to play video games for a bit before their dinner reservations, so I decided to spoil their appetites.

I kind of miss Lindsey Lohan.

I had some salmon in the fridge, and I wanted to try my hand at mini-quiches. Because mini equals tasty. It was pretty simple - puff pasty cut into rounds and set into my muffin tin, topped with a bit of shredded cheese, cooked and flaked salmon, and topped with a mixture of egg, cream, and finely chopped onion. I think they turned out pretty well.

Just call me the appetite-ruiner.

The same could not be said of my yam wedges. I cooked them for what I figured was a good amount of time, but they were really soft. I thought I'd turn the oven down and leave them in to perhaps crisp up a bit, but they just kept getting softer. They were still tasty, but I'm clearly no Robert Irvine. Although I have cooked for Swedish pop stars on the moon.

They look crispy, but don't be fooled.

And by request, to end the evening, my now go-to cupcakes made a repeat appearance. The frosting was a bit different this time, but they were nonetheless delightful.

Of course my friends aren't sick of cupcakes.

So I'm going to close with a shot of protesters I saw downtown just off the St Patrick's parade route. Anonymous apparently has active members in Seattle, and they're pissed. I like how they were handing out literature that was clearly disturbing this lady:

Skeptical. . .

I won't take a stand on it, but I will say that I think they look very very funny. Especially that guy in the yellow hoodie. Yeah, that guy.


March 9 - Rosemary Caramel Cupcakes

Rosemary: who knew?

Most of the time, my ideas for cupcake flavors come from drinks. Why is this? I don't know, I guess. Drinks are easy to make delicious, and I suppose I think the same would follow for drink-inspired treats. I'm right sometimes.

Anyway, the my hero has a kickass recipe for monkeybread that involves rosemary. It doesn't seem like it should work with a sweet caramel-y dessert bread, but it's super tasty. So why wouldn't it work for cupcakes? The answer is that it would. It really really would. In a way that could only be described as EPIC WIN.

Shiny happy cupcakes.

So here we go.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
leaves off 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together sugar and butter in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Very finely chop rosemary and add to milk. (Well, that's what I did. I'm not sure when it would be optimal to add the rosemary or to where exactly, but this worked fine) Combine baking powder and flour. Alternately add wet and dry ingredients to batter and beat just until batter is smooth. Fill baking cups 2/3 full and bake for 17 minutes.

Hey, there's rosemary in this milk. Weird.

I was a little concerned when I saw the rosemary in the batter, like people would be picking it out of their teeth, but this turned out to be a non-issue.

Green speckles be damned!

I adapted this recipe from the hazelnut cakes I made for Nutella Day, so I knew they would rise beautifully. And I was totally right. The cake was perfectly fluffy and tender, and somehow the rosemary brought out the buttery-ness of the . . . butter.

Naked cakes!

I wanted to do a caramel frosting to keep with the monkeybread theme of the cupcakes. I searched about on that internet, and found a great-sounding recipe on allrecipes.com, but it seemed a bit complicated. I'd only made buttercreams and cream cheese frostings in the past, so I was a bit nervous, but everything turned out pretty ok.

2 tbsp white sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Place 2 tbsp sugar in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. At the same time, put all other ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let the sugar cook until it melts and becomes dark brown - you know, caramelized. Set it aside, but not for too long, because if it cools it will get hard, and that's no good. Let the other ingredients come to a boil, then stir in caramelized sugar. Return to heat and allow to boil for two minutes, stirring. Take off heat and transfer to a bowl. Beat with handmixer until mixture reaches frosting consistency. This took a super long time for me, but it did eventually happen.

Here is where I would normally have pictures of me making the frosting, but Moos absconded with my camera because the cat was doing this:

animal + stupid = camera stealing adorable.

Anyway, these cupcakes were awesome. Totally freaking awesome. The rosemary came out in a really lovely way, and the caramel frosting was really creamy and had a great flavor. They're so good I can't even properly describe it. I know the combination seems strange, but the resulting delicious was mind-numbing.

Behold: the delicious!


February 25 - Purple and Porchetta

So fancy.

Corporate America likes to business lunch. In this spirit, my department went out to Purple Cafe and Wine Bar to welcome a new girl to the team. Sweet. Purple has been a place I've wanted to check out for a while now.

We started out with the cheese platter, which was awesome. I didn't take a picture of it because I felt weird photographing my food in front of my co-workers, but the cheeses were lovely. The waiter described the best one as "like frosting, only it's cheese." This was oddly accurate. I couldn't describe it any better. It's weird, I know. I think it was delice de bourgogne, but I'm not totally sure. It kinda looked like this:

I ordered the pork loin lunch special - a pork loin with broccolini and cranberry relish. I don't know why they add the -ni to the broccoli, it didn't make it taste any different from regular-type. The cranberry stuff was a little intense on its own, but overall the flavors came together pretty nicely. And yes, I did take a picture of my food. And yes, I got made fun of.

Mmmm. . pork.

Because pork is delicious, I decided to try my hand at porchetta - which I think is just oven roasted pork. I picked up a pork shoulder roast and some sweet potatoes for dinner. My first step was to butterfly the roast and remove the bone, which was surprisingly easy.

I guess it kind of looks like a butterfly. . .

Then I added some seasoning - salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, anise, and just a touch of cayenne pepper.


Then I tied it all up with kitchen twine.

Tied up too tight.

I put it fatty side up on a foil-lined pan in a 400 degree oven, with the potatoes, which I had poked with a fork, coated in vegetable oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

It was kind of awesome, because everything finished at the same time. Apparently a 2.5 pound pork roast and giant sweet potatoes will cook in about an hour and fifteen minutes. I used a probe thermometer to tell me when my pork had reached an internal temperature of 160 degree Fahrenheit. Otherwise known as the temperature of no intestinal parasites.

Golden brown and delicious.

When I removed the twine and sliced the pork and I was pleased to find that it had cooked up all moist and tender. The flavors were nicely incorporated throughout the pork since I had cut it apart and seasoned it before rolling it back up. The potatoes were totally awesome - crisp and salted on the outside while llight and fluffy on the inside and delectably sweet. With butter, of course!

Dinner is served!

The coolest part about all this (besides being crazy delicious) is that 2.5 pounds of pork roast and two giant sweet potatoes fed me and my boy two meals each for a grand total cost of about $5. Cooking at home rules.

I'm going to close with a picture of the lunch I packed for work last week. Because I think it's cute and my mom would be pleased at how balanced and healthy it is: broiled salmon onigiri (in a cute wrapper I bought at Daiso!), tasty fat blueberries, cucumbers with ranch, and jasmine tea.

Adorable and tasty!