Friday, June 11, 2010

les choses que j'adore!

First off, I torture myself by this doing this, but I'm always looking at the adoptable dogs on Petfinder (listing of all animals in shelters across North America.)  This month, RONNY has melted my heart.

Next, I found this store through my endless hours of perusing my fave blogs.. link via The Kitchn.

Huset sells home goods, clothing, bags, kids stuff, etc...and my favorite part - the modern scandinavian designs... LOVE.

Huset, which means "the house" in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian is a one-stop shop for the best in modern scandinavian design. Huset offers a thoughtful collection of clean, clever, and contemporary items for modern living. In addition we also present designers, and design news for those of you that are interested to know more about what is going on in the Scandinavian design arena.
Huset is "the house" for the savvy design enthusiast; bringing together the rare and unusual of today's visionaries plus the time-tested scandinavian icons of design, directly to your front door. Our search for more individual, design oriented products has yielded a collection which includes furniture, gifts, accessories, textiles, jewelry, clothing, kids items, fine art and objects for the home; featuring the works of more than 60 scandinavian designers. On our yearly return to scandinavia, we're committed to search out and bring you emerging designers and trends for you to discover as well.
Scandinavia has long been known for it's great design heritage; using natural materials to create classically elegant yet very contemporary style, with simple but comfortable refinement. We believe that great art and design are incredibly life-enhancing. Our passion is making great scandinavian design accessible, inspiring, functional and exciting.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

salade COBB - delicieux!

When I am considering recipes I might share with you all, there are a lot of foods that I arbitrarily rule out. Sandwiches? Nope! With rare exception, who needs a recipe for slapping things between two pieces of bread? Fruit salad? Oof! No! Again, unless you’re doing something fancy-fancy to it, I’m pretty sure people can find their own path to chopped fruit in a bowl. So when I got to thinking about making an old-school Cobb salad a couple months ago, I quickly rejected it because given the Cobb salad’s ubiquity on lunch menus everywhere, who doesn’t know how to make it?

As it turns out, someone does not. Last month, at a restaurant in New Jersey, both my mother and I ordered Cobb salads, my mother the “small” version, along with a cup of soup, and myself, the regular one, with no soup. When the waiter brought out a bowl that was a third the size of the table, I groaned and tried to shuffle objects around on a table to accommodate it. “What is up with these ridiculous portion sizes?” I complained, as usual. Oh, little did I know, people! Little did I know, because the waiter next brought out a bowl I can barely describe. Imagine the bowl you would take down to make a salad for 12 people, or a vessel large enough for this guy to take a nap in, or this bowl, with a diameter so staggering that it would only fit if partially hanging off the table. This was my entrée Cobb salad.  And within those acres of iceberg, not a speck of bacon was to be found.

So let’s talk about Cobb salad, the original, old-school way, the way I really wished it would have been — with bacon. Like any food with a long past, there are dueling versions of how it came into existence. What most agree on is that The Cobb Salad was invented at The Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood in 1937, and it had some connection with The Brown Derby’s owner, Robert Cobb. Whether Cobb, on a hungry prowl, pulled this and that from the fridge and swiped bacon from a line cook to satisfy his cravings, as Arthur Schwartz insists, or whether a chef at the restaurant created this salad to cheer Mr. Cobb up when he returned to work, hungry and irritable, after a dentist appointment, as his widow says it came to be, will likely never be known. What few disagree on is the ingredient list: a mix of iceberg, romaine and watercress heaped with avocado, blue cheese, chicken, chives, hard-boiled eggs and tomatoes.
And bacon. Look, I’m almost over it, okay?

Classic Cobb Salad

Adapted, barely, from Saveur

Serves 4 to 6
Dressing (Heads up: I found I only needed half of this)
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded
1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 bunch watercress, some of the stems trimmed, chopped
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (we used a Stilton)
6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium tomatoes, peeled*, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chives, minced
Make the dressing: Combine the canola oil, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire, sugar, and garlic in a blender. Purée the ingredients to make a smooth dressing and season with salt and pepper. Set the dressing aside.

Make the salad: On a (very) large platter, combine the iceberg and romaine lettuces along with the watercress. Arrange the blue cheese, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, and avocado on top of the greens in neat rows. To serve, drizzle salad with dressing, season with salt and pepper, and top with chives. Alternatively, toss everything together in a bowl.

Do ahead: Salad dressing keeps, covered and refrigerated, for up to one week. Individual ingredients (except the avocado, which is too prone to browning) can be prepped and chopped, and kept in separate containers in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble the salad. However, no doubt due to sturdiness of 2/3 of the lettuces, I found that the entire assembled salad kept surprisingly well wrapped in plastic in the fridge for a few hours.

* To peel a tomato: Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water for 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Slide the skins right off, starting at the X. Completely befuddled by the need for this step? Skip it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"oeufs en cocotte"

It’s no secret around here that I love eggs. A friend and I were recently – and, rather excitedly – comparing our Top 5 egg-dishes, and there was one rather obvious common thread: we both love them runny.

Now, I haven’t always loved runny eggs. In fact, I still don’t really like the Singapore coffee-shop style of coddling eggs in a tub of hot water for a couple of minutes, until the whites are barely set and the yolks are still completely liquid. Two of these – as far as I’m concerned – completely uncooked specimens are cracked into a saucer, and doused in soy sauce and stirred into a pulp. Thankfully, while I still am not a huge fan of runny whites, I’ve learnt to love runny yolks, which are also the perfect sauce.

Oeufs en Cocotte (the fancy french name for Baked Eggs) are something I’ve read about for a long time. For some reason, I never really got around to making them till this past week – ramekins too small; ovenproof dish too shallow; no cream in the house…. All I can say is that I am one helluva fool for procrastinating for so long.

The entire dish comes together in about 15 minutes, and can be customised for any time of the day – add a little chopped ham or crisped bacon under the eggs for breakfast, unmould over a frisée salad for a light lunch, or serve in the shell, topped with a little caviar, for an elegant starter with grilled asparagus spears for dinner. Whatever the time of day, and however you choose to garnish it (or, eat it plain as below), if you love eggs even a quarter as much as I do, I’m sure you’re going to really enjoy this one.
Oeufs en Cocotte
4 eggs
butter for greasing
40g freshly grated cheese (I used emmental here, you could also use a mild cheddar, gruyere, parmesan, or any other melty cheese that tickles your fancy)
60-100g cream
salt and pepper
a few tablespoons of shredded/chopped ham/bacon/leftover roast chicken
a large handful of spinach, blanched and drained well
Preheat your oven to 180C, and butter two appropriately sized ramekins or oven-proof dishes (you want a dish approximately 10-15cm in diameter and 3-5cm deep). Sprinkle most of the cheese evenly into the base of the dishes. If using any of the optional extras, scatter the meat/veg in a thin, even layer over the base, then crack two eggs into each dish. Drizzle half the cream around the yolks (I prefer to have the egg yolks exposed), then season well with salt and pepper, grate over a little nutmeg, if using, and sprinkle the rest of your cheese over.

Bake in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes. When done, it should still be pretty wobbly – the yolks should be runny and the whites just set. (Feel free to take them out a minute or so before the whites are set, as they will continue cooking from the residual heat.) Serve with plenty of buttered toasted bread to mop all the egg up, and a tall glass of iced coffee.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

tucson 2010

I needed all the sunshine I could get and I got it!  Seattle has seen the WORST spring, and now getting into summer, in my books.  The weather folks are predicting that June will be one of the wettest on record...great.  So, you see, Tucson was a much needed break from the gloom.

We had daily temperatures of 100+ degrees, evening temperatures of 85+ degrees, night temperatures in the mid-70's.  That's perfection - for me.  Dry heat and warm evenings.  Upon arrival I headed straight to the pool. Read cooking memoirs in my chaise lounger, sipped gin and tonics, and just basked.  The rest of my time was more of the same - a much needed rest - much needed vitamin D and heat - it was very difficult to come home (until I found out that I had magically been whisked into first class!!)

Here are some glimpses of my lovely vacation...