Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thai Red Curry Ceviche with Scallops and Mahi Mahi

(Ok, ok, I know, kids, I just posted a ceviche recipe--but this was really, really, really good. And we didn't write that recipe, and we did write this one. Serves eight.)


1 lb. very fresh mahi mahi, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 lb very fresh sea scallops, sliced in thirds

2 tsp. red curry paste
1 fresh shallot, minced
juice from 4 limes
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. fish sauce
Couple dashes of salt
2 tsp agave (can adjust sweetness later, when fish is cooked)
1/2 cup coconut milk

1 mango, sliced
fresh cilantro, minced
1 strip skinned red bell pepper
4 tbsp. toasted dry unsweetened coconut flake
about 1/2 cup very finely minced cocktail peanuts
1 small package onion sprouts
salt and pepper to taste

1) Combine the fresh scallops and fish with the red curry, lime juice, shallot, vinegar, fish sauce, salt and agave. Leave in fridge until the fish is nicely cooked but still tender, about 2 hours. Depending on your pieces, you may need slightly longer.
2) When the ceviche comes out of the fridge and the fish is done, drain and reserve the marinade. Add coconut milk to the fish and taste, adding more salt, fish sauce, sugar, or marinade liquid as needed to make it perfect for you.
3) Layer slices of mango on your plates. Layer the fish on top of the mango bed. Spoon a bit of extra sauce over each one. Add a strip of peeled bell pepper over the fish for color.
4) Sprinkle with toasted coconut, peanut dust, fresh cilantro, and onion sprouts. Serve immediately.


(I'm posting the recipe for this because it's completely original and frankly was fantastic, really surprisingly good, and it was very simple to make. Our toast foam, as you can see, turned out rather...flaccid. It wasn't required and I'm skipping toast foam instructions until such time as we perfect it. The rest was easy, after all. The only challenging part of it, obviously, is that you need to have absinthe sitting around your house, which OF COURSE we do. If you don't, head to the liquor store and pick up two mini bottles. If you can't find crispy speck, please garnish with crispy bacon or or proscuitto or pancetta, it needs some crunch.)

INGREDIENTS (serves 6 generously):

2 tbsp. butter
6 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut from the husk, husks reserved
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium ribs celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. powdered coriander
1 tbsp. white flour

1/3 cup of absinthe (other anise flavored liqueur will work in a pinch)
4 quarts vegetable stock
sugar or agave to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and white pepper to taste

as many speck slices as there are soup eaters, for garnish

1) Melt the butter in a pot and cook the celery, onions, and garlic over medium heat until sweated, about five minutes.
2) Add bay leaves, powdered coriander, and flour. Cook to toast dry elements, about two minutes.
3) Add the absinthe into the pot and use it to scrape up any bits. When that's done, incorporate the stock and put the corn husks in the pot as well. Bring to a good simmer, making sure the liquid is just covering the husks and the chopped vegetables. Cover, lower heat, and cook for fifteen minutes.
4) With a pair of tongs, remove corn husks. Add fresh corn and bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook for ten to fifteen more minutes, until the corn kernels are sweet, bright, and tender.
5) Discard bay leaves. Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender in as many batches as you like and blend very finely, pouring the smooth puree back into the pot.
6) Get a fine mesh strainer and a large bowl and strain your soup into the bowl, using the back of a spatula to scrape the liquid down.
7) Add cream, sugar, and salt and white pepp
er to taste. Because absinthe is made with some bitter as well as sweet herbs, adjustment might take a few minutes, but it's worth it.
8) If using crispy speck garnish, heat a heavy-bottomed skillet and place speck slices in it one at a time, weighting them down with the flat, heavy back of another pot, or a metal spatula if you prefer. Flip after about 2 minutes and remove when crisp. Serve immediately--if not, then wait to add the cream.


We had a tasting menu!

(Translation: we committed an act of hubris such as has never before been seen on the premises.)

I mean, really, that could have gone so south so fast. But it didn't. It was...well. It was, depending on just how I'm thinking of it moment to moment:


hardcore awesome
some right jiggy shit

Gabe and I started cooking about five days before so as to have a handle on it. First, we made chive oil and red pepper oil, because stuff garnished with home-made infused oil is spiffy theoretically, yes? Pretty colors? I know, I'm mentally about six. Next we revved up the ice cream maker and covered the herbes de Provence sorbet and brown butter ice cream. As it happens, brown butter ice cream is insane, tasting as advertised exactly like butter with being ridiculously fluffy. There are three containers of it in my freezer. Following that, we confited the lamb rack and left it to sit in duck fat for a few days.*

(*I don't know of anything on earth that isn't better off for sitting in a tub of duck fat for a few days, apart from maybe salad, cellular phones, and perhaps sushi. But everything else pretty much qualifies as needing a duck fat soak, yes? I'm betting you that if you submerged me in duck fat for a week, I'd come out looking like a million bucks. There is a kitten on my lap, and she claims to want to be soaked in duck fat too. So there you are.)

Next real phase was the Saturday all-day cookoff, when we made every single thing we could think of that didn't have to be prepped day-of. As usual, that paid off like New York real estate. I don't think we could have managed this without lunatic levels of prep. I like, made a flow chart. I'm serious. I made grids. I made checklists. I made the counter guy at Eataly laugh when I said with a cracked grin on my face that I wanted a bunny so I could cook him. Then I made rabbit carnitas.

I'm still recovering and so is Gabe, because it was very much fifty-fifty on the workload. Gabe said to me rather memorably, "What would it cost to write this menu and then just pay prep cooks to come in and make it like they do in real restaurants?" So much food. So very, very many different comestibles. Really, the mere thought of food just at the moment is something rather less than desirable. So far today I've had a slice of bread pudding and a quarter of a sandwich, and that's looking like enough until tomorrow.

(I blame this in part on my awesome friend Marjie, who was in town for the two days after the tasting menu in a very small window of time, and induced me to eat fried Snickers, haggis, Grimaldi's pizza, twice-fried Thai pork, egg in a blanket, and finally a dinner at BLT Steak that dealt the final spine-ripped blow to my already beaten and hemorrhaging metabolism. I love you, Marjie. I take full responsibility for my new diabetes.)

But before the details fade entirely, I hereby present for your viewing and possibly even your pleasure:

(matched wine pairings by guest artists, as named; photos by Melinda Caric)

rabbit liver mouse, moonshine bloody mary deviled quail eggs,
garden green tomato c
huney crostini, house pickled pearl onions

pairing: cactus fruit and Campari aperitif, by Gabriel

thai red curry ceviche with mahi mahi, sea scallops,
mango, toasted coconut, onion sprouts, and peanut dust

pairing: Domaine Gerard Millet Sancerre, 2009, by Luis and Allison

corn absinthe bisque with chive oil, crispy speck, and toast foam

pairing: Matthiasson Napa Valley White Wine, 2006, by Melinda

filet mignon and cucumber carpaccio with sesame-yogurt dressing and red pepper oil

pairing: Trimbach Riesling, 2008, Yann and Keegan

butter poached lobster tail with spaetzel, seared broccolini, and apple cider vinaigrette

pairing: Heiligenstein Gruner Veltliner, 2008, Yann and Keegan

rabbit carnitas with carrot mint puree, fresh mustard greens salad, and fried tortilla

pairing: Chateau La Fleur des Rouzes Pomerol, 2004, Luis and Allison

lamb rack confit, arugula asiago bread pudding,
baby Brussels sprouts, red wine chanterelle reduction

pairing: Dyer Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, Gabe and Lyndsay

herbes de Provence sorbet, fresh figs, lavender shortbread

Oremus Late Harvest Tokaji, 2005, Luis and Gabe

bourbon chocolate cheesecake with pretzel bacon crust,
brown butter ice cream, and house brandied cherries

pairing: Real Companhia Velha Royal Oporto, Tawny 10-year, Mark

Our friends are amazing. They brought amazing wine pairings, came at dirty dishes like spider monkeys, washed off my countertop, and above all were just as wonderfully entertaining as is usual for them. Huge thank yous to the participants, it was totally worth it. And not something I plan to do above once a year. Thanksgiving next, folks, and one hopes we'll say something or other about beer one of these days! Apologies for beer absence, but this was too fun not to post.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NY Times Tuna Ceviche with Yellow Wax Beans


for the ceviche (serves four, altered very slightly from here)

1 pound very fresh raw albacore or yellowfin, cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 shallot or small red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 to 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, spicy as you like it, seeded and minced
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed, drained, and minced
1 ripe medium avocado, cut in small dice
1 small ripe mango, cut in small dice
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or to taste
blue corn chips, to serve

1) Prepare the tuna and put it back in the fridge.
2) In a medium bowl, combine the onion, garlic, chile, capers, avocado, mango, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Toss together gently. Add the tuna to the bowl.
3) Stir together the remaining lime juice and the olive oil. Pour over the tuna, and toss the mixture together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4) Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes, stirring gently from time to time.
5) Just before serving, add the cilantro and toss together. Taste and adjust seasonings.
6) Serve with blue corn chips, because they're crunchy and delicious.

for the wax beans (this recipe's mine!)

1/2 pound yellow wax beans, trimmed as you like them
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 heaping cup of chopped fresh tomatoes (I used mini Romas from my garden, but any will work)
2 tbsp leche de coco
4 scallions, minced fine, white and green parts divided
salt and fresh black pepper

1) Heat your oil in a skillet.
2) Add yellow wax beans, white parts of the scallion, tomatoes and some salt.
3) Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes (the beans should be crisp-tender, and the tomatoes should be forming a glaze). If your pan gets too dry, add a little white wine or chicken stock.
4) Add the leche de coco. (I have some just sitting in my freezer, and it is super useful. Importantly, we're not using coconut milk here--no, no. We're using that sugary stuff people make pina coladas out of, but this is way better.)
5) Salt and pepper to taste. All the acidity in the tomatoes should be tempered and heightened by the leche de coco, but if you want to adjust the amount of that too and make it sweeter, go right ahead.
6) Sprinkle with green parts of the scallions.
7) Eat it up. This is so simple and delicious, I can't even tell you.

for the beer

22 oz. of Pelican Brewery's India Pelican Ale

1) Open Pelican IPA. Serve with this food.


We went back to the Pacific Northwest on a very rushed but awesome-packed trip and spent two nights camping near Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast. And one of the rugged, majestic, wild, magnificent natural beauties of the Oregon Coast is its frickken awesome beer.

Sometimes it's worth it in life to take a detour. Gabe and I and Cousin Brad took one to Pacific City, in the opposite direction we were meant to be driving, to drink some beer. Now, this might have been construed as rather unforgivable on our part, but we're Red Commies deep down and picked up extra to take back to the campsite with us. It's impressive how fast people are willing to forgive you when you're handing them beer.

You're going to notice the fabulous frothy head on this brew right off the bat. Sniff it. Go on, put your nose right in there. It's like putting your head in a pine tree while smoking a marijuana cigarette. Citrus hops are present, also floral hops--basically, if you can think of a hop profile, you'll find it. Malts for this one are the silent partner, a quiet backbone leaning towards caramel. Essentially, if you are like me, and you like the idea of drinking a beer that tastes like pine resin and grapefruit juice shaken and poured from a jar, then buy a 22 of this beer INSTANTLY. Pair it with a strong, aggressive seafood, like this ceviche. Then cry when you've eaten it all up.


I used to work at TGI Friday's.

According to Wikipedia, "Friday's has a large menu with an emphasis on alcoholic beverages."

That's true.

Everything in Office Space is also true.

Anyway, anyone who ever worked for Friday's, and we walk among you, has a Best Friday's Story. I worked there for a long-ass time, so mine are epic. They generally involved pranks, pranks played on both people we liked and people we didn't like one bit, pranks perpetrated and conceived by myself, Gabe, and Luis Nunez, pranks which included but were not limited to:

1) Meticulously put clear plastic over the tops of martini glasses and then trim the edges with a razor so the plastic is invisible. Hang martini glass with the others. Wait.

(delight and surprise index rating: 6)

2) Tell your trainee that he needs to "empty out the old hot water" at the beverage station, and see how many pitchers he fills.

(delight and surprise index rating: 3)

3) Take a clean towel, get it damp, flour it thoroughly. Fry the towel. Make sure the towel is nicely browned. Put it on ciabatta bread with mayo and lettuce and tomato and such, and garnish with fries. Give someone you don't like a "free fried chicken sandwich." Wait.

(delight and surprise index rating: 8)

4) Tie all the beer bottles in the beer fridge together with clear fishing line. Wait.

(delight and surprise index rating: 6)

5) Take all the salad and all the shelves out of the little salad fridge. Put on a coat. Hide in the salad fridge (pick the smallest person--that happened to be me, in our case). Send your manager to make you an emergency salad. Come at him like a crazed spider monkey when he opens the door. Watch him land in the dish station.

(delight and surprise index rating: 9)


I went to meet up with my friend Melinda the other day, and by the time I got there, she had made new friends. We ended up all going for dessert. These new friends happened to be very cool restaurant people who will remain anonymous because this story is made of awesome with awesome killer fire sauce on top.


One of the gents, long ago, worked at Friday's. He came in to work one morning at around eleven to see the head line cook--big African American gent, very reliably steady and together--throwing up violently in the corner. The general manager, far from looking pissed because the guy was hung over, looked deeply concerned and was trying to comfort him. The cook, meanwhile, was inconsolable, even after his stomach was empty of breakfast.

Here's why.

It seems that he had opened a bag of flour and a rat had stowed away there. It was probably a young and small rat, not very noticeable, and the flour bag had been packaged by machine, and when the rat got hungry, it ate some flour and then took a nap. Problem solved. In any case, the cook had a rat jump out at him when he tore the top open, which would have ruined anyone's morning already.

But the rat freaked out and leaped and ran across the grill.


The rat didn't like the grill. So the rat leaped again.

Into the fryer.

Rats, apparently, have a great deal of moisture in their bodies. So in the hot fry oil, it...'ploded, as it were. Inside-out fried crispy rat within seconds.

And a sad, sad cook for the rest of the day.

LYNDSAY: So did you guys change the fry oil?
MAN WHO WILL REMAIN ANONYMOUS: I honestly don't know.

Best. Friday's Story. EVER.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Garden Herb and Tomato Israeli Couscous


1 cup Israeli couscous
1 tsp butter
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
a couple dashes of red pepper flake
3-5 dried curry leaves
1 2/3 cups vegetable stock

as many garden tomatoes as you like
dash of extra virgin olive oil
dash of tarragon vinegar
1 can of pink beans or roman/kidney beans or chickpeas
1 cup minced Italian flat leaf parsley
1 sprig fresh oregano, minced
2/3 cup diced chives
salt and fresh pepper to taste

1 bottle Green Flash Hop Head Red

1) Melt the butter over medium heat until foaming subsides.
2) Add couscous with the chopped garlic and stir to toast, about three or four minutes--you want the pasta beginning to be golden and fragrant, and the garlic to be cooked. When the couscous smells nice and browned, add all the dry spices including the curry leaves. Toast these as well, 30 seconds or so.
3) Add the vegetable stock. Bring to a steady boil. Cover lid. Turn heat to low.
4) After about eight minutes, remove lid, stir, and turn off heat. Then replace lid and let it sit for another 5 minutes or so. You don't want mushy couscous, just cooked through couscous.
5) Meanwhile, chop your garden tomatoes, mince your parsley, rinse your beans, la la la. Put it all in a bowl with your fresh herbs. Sprinkle this with olive oil, tarragon vinegar, salt, and black pepper.
6) Fluff your couscous again. Stir it in the mix. Season again, to taste.
7) Open bottle of Green Flash Hop Head Red.
8) Enjoy together.


I drank Green Flash Hop Head Red for my birthday. (Photo by Melinda Caric. I'm such a turd, only the couscous photo above is actually mine this time round.)

I turned 30, kids. WHEEE! More on the later, MUCH more on that in a sec here, settle yourselves. Ok, so--Green Flash Hop Head Red. I had it at 4th Avenue Pub in Brooklyn, owned by the gentleman scholar Kirk Struble, and it's some pretty divine sh**.

It's a tough business making a good red style. (Maybe that's why Green Flash claims this beer is, alternatively, an American amber/IPA hybrid. But boy, is it ever red. And this is a grand red. It's resinous, it's bright copper, it's sticky, it's red-grapefruit-tastic, it's bright, it's sweet, it's balanced, it's wonderful. You're going to get a vague note of cinnamon within the slightly burnt-sugar sweetness, and the bitterness continues all the way through to a very pleasant landing so far as mouthfeel goes. A delightful brew. And I drank it on my birthday.


Beer is practically a stranger to food at this point. I'm very sorry for this. It's my fault. I've been writing this new book, see. And a Sherlock Holmes comic series for Moonstone Books. So beer forgot about food and wandered off to be alone for a while, take a little "me" time. Not to mention, Gabe has been working two jobs with one day off. And the day Gabriel turns to me--with one day off per week--and says, "You know what I really feel like doing today, Lynds? Let's blog." That will be the day...nope. That day doesn't seem too close on the horizon line.


It was my thirtieth birthday the other day. We played in the city the night before, and then went up the Hudson to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the next day reveled at 4th Pub in Brooklyn. It was epic.

Meanwhile, I have carpal tunnel pretty bad. It's getting better with the wrist braces, but I'm writing too much for it not to flare up quite often. It's slightly embarrassing, actually. This...impediment. Also my hair turned white, and I have the gout, and lost all my teeth. I'm gonna fall out of bed and break my hip tomorrow, maybe, for variety. Nothing like nerve injuries to really ring in a new decade.

I had a great time with my friends, though. They're swell people, all of them absolutely top notch, and I had a pretty birthday dress. Pretty birthday dresses are very important to me, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Also I was wearing my nicely-wrapped-package-necklace. Shown above. Les Klinger says it makes me look like a birthday gift. APPROPRIATE.


Blue Hill at Stone Barns

We had, for my birthday, in the company of the ever-wonderful Luis and Allison:


fried baby corn "corn dogs"
individual mini roasted tomato and goat cheese burgers
fresh garden produce on little pins dressed in a vinaigrette (tomato version pictured above, from their website, that's not mine)
fried yellow wax beans
sesame crusted squash
3 charcuterie meats with a liver mousse sandwiched in dark salted chocolate


bluefin crudo with caviar, green tomato, and pig's ear vinaigrette


18-hour charcoal barbecued heirloom onion with olive tapenade, onion creme fraiche, vegetable puree, and preserved blueberry


baked curried egg with fresh beans under herbed rice paper


gnocchi with chicken mushrooms


fresh baked sourdough with three infused salts: shittake salt, tomato salt, red pepper salt


pork chin, snout, jowl, and loin with avocado and heirloom grains


ribeye with smoked eggplant and purslane


apricot in elderflower tapioca with yogurt sorbet
cornbread with raspberries and peaches
flax brownie with preserved fruit
wild strawberries
chocolate dusted almonds
meringue with raspberries

What a way to turn 30, kids. I am one lucky little skunk. The picture below isn't mine either, but I wanted to show you Blue Hill. It's breathtaking.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two (Die-for! Ha!) Steak Side Dishes

INGREDIENTS (both serve 4, and ideally would go best with a dark meat of some kind for the main event, such as steak or lamb):

(for the MAITAKE MUSHROOMS WITH FIDDLEHEAD FERNS--one of the best seasonal spring dishes I've ever put in my face)

1/2 pound fiddlehead fern fronds, brown stems trimmed and carefully cleaned of grit
1/2 pound maitake (also called hen-of-the-woods) mushrooms, brushed clean and separated into generous 3-inch pieces
4 tbsp. butter, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 medium shallot, sliced thin
salt and fresh black pepper

1) Drop 2 tbsp. of your butter into a hot cast iron over medium-high heat and wait until foaming subsides.
2) Add shallots, garlic, and fiddleheads. Saute for about 4-5 minutes, until the shallots are nicely caramelized and the fiddleheads are bright green.
3) Move the fiddleheads to the side a bit and add your reserved 2 tbsp. butter to the center of the skillet. When foaming subsides, add maitake mushrooms.
4) Season with salt and fresh black pepper. After mushrooms have wilted/browned a bit, about 3 minutes, combine them with the fiddleheads.
5) Adjust seasoning to taste and remove from heat. Serve immediately. The fiddleheads are cooked when they have been sauteed 8-10 minutes and are about the consistency of young asparagus. They should look pretty much like the above picture. Be careful to heat them past their crunch, as bacteria have been known to hide in the little heads and you should cook them thoroughly. It's a rare problem, but might as well be safe, yes?

(for the BLT STEAK POPOVERS; original recipe by Laurent Tourondel uses gruyere, but hey, we didn't have gruyere)

two cups milk, gently warmed
4 eggs
2 cups flour
3/4 tbsp salt
1 generous cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
popover pan

1) Place the popover pan
in the oven, heating oven and pan to 350 degrees.
2) Whisk the eggs until frothy and then slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eg
gs). Set mixture aside.
3) Sift the flour with the salt. Slowly add this dry mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.
4) Once combined, remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick vegetable or olive oil spray. While the batter is still warm/room temperature, fill each popover cup 3/4 full. Top each popover with 2-3 tbsp cheese (we used cheddar; Chef Laurent uses gruyere).
5) Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking. Remove from oven, remove from pan, and serve immediately.

(further dinner instructions)

1) Cook a steak or else a lamb chop just the way you like it. Serve with these sides.
2) Open a bottle of
Tröegs Nugget Nectar.
3) Enjoy together.


I've been on an American craft- and microbrew beer tasting kick of late because Gabe has a new job. Plus his old job. He still works at Woo Lae Oak, but he's also now employed by the lovely folks who run Bar Carrera on Houston and MacDougal, and they have just opened a fabulous new location called Custom American Wine Bar in Williamsburg. They worked with Gabe to write the new hangout's beer list, which brings us to...


Tröegs is a team of two brothers by the name of Chris and John Trogner who brew in central Pennsylvania and make things that tend to be completely delicious. They explain their brewery's name in this manner:

TRÖEGS (tr?gs) *v-tröeged, -tröeg'in The act of tröeg'in, ie "I tröeged it" or {slang} "that boy is tröeg'in" -adj. An aura of complete enjoyment and contentment, ie "My you look Tröegy this morning."

I hesitate to either question or believe their regionalisms, but holy crap nuggets, the Nugget Nectar is fantastic. (To be fair, their other style are also excellent, as I don't want to give the impression that you should be stocking up on Nugget and skip the JavaHead Stout or the Sunshine Pils, to name two...) Nugget Nectar is an Imperial Amber Ale made with classic European malts that is blown through the roof by way of Nugget, Warrior, Tomahawk, and other hardcore hops. 7.5 % ABV, IBUs guessed to be "93ish" by the brewers. I don't know that many other Imperial Ambers can hold a candle to this orange-hued cup of piney goodness, but you're welcome to buy me as many as you like to prove me wrong. The nose hints at biscuits from the Munich malts but is dominated by elegant floral hops and caramelized orange peel. So go ahead and taste it.

Smoother than you expected, yes? Creamier? With a lingering sweetness? Nothing a bit overpowering and everything neatly lined up like an OCD's medicine cabinet?

Go buy this beer right now, it's seasonal. Then eat it with STEAK and STEAK SIDE DISHES. You will not be sorry. If you are, call me, and I'll finish the bottle.


My friend Dahlinger mentioned gardening today, so I'm going to rant about it here for a minute. I love my garden like I love secondhand designer dresses, and the garden this year is--largely--no longer a seething hotbed of Jacobean political intrigue. It has its quirks, to be sure, and abandoned animals, and the odd crackhead who takes up half an hour or so of my time on any given Thursday May 20th yesterday in mid-afternoon when I wanted to be watering the shoots and the leaves. But that's pretty much every space in New York, so why quibble.

And anyway, I'd imagine we'll do a redux of the EXTREME SUMMER GARDEN series on this blog, so some context is good. This is my garden plot midsummer last year, and here's my opinion of what to put in a garden bed with limited space.

HERBS, and reasons to plant them: herbs are so expensive at the grocery store that sometimes I'd like to ask them what just a couple of basil leaves instead of the whole bunch costs. And they have a very short fridge life, which is maddening. Here's my inner monologue some mornings:

(warning: this is a perhaps mentally stultifying example of just how boring my inner monologue can be--proceed with caution...)

ME: Hungry. Not many options in fridge. I have plenty of noodles in the pantry. Hey, I could put that basil on them and some frozen peas. (opens fridge, finds that basil is brown when it wasn't yesterday) S** of a bitch, ten-dollar-basil!!! My nemesis. My love.

Something like that. Plant herbs, and plenty of them. Then when you want two parsley sprigs, go pick two parsley sprigs. Problem solved. I have this year (this is my 2010 garden during last month's rainy spell):

Italian sweet basil
Mexican cinnamon basil
Thai basil
Wild arugula (the crazy patch in the upper right)
Jamaican thyme
English thyme
Lemon thyme
Chocolate mint

VEG, accompanied by veggie warnings: everybody likes a nice zucchini frittata, or a yellow squash soup, right?


If you have an estate, plant squash. If you have your own island, plant squash. If you live in Dakota Territory and the nearest town ain't got no law to speak of and the last neighbor you had was a fur trapper who was gone the next morning and you tend to "disrecollect" things instead of forgetting them, plant squash. If you have a plot, like I do, then don't, unless your car runs on zucchini bread instead of gasoline. The yield is terrific, the space expended monstrous.

Caution: the byword of the man who encounters a pumpkin seed.

In my opinion, you want to plant things that either 1) cost less to grow yourself; 2) look too cool to pass up, or; 3) need to ripen on the vine to taste good. This means you will probably be planting tomatoes. Several kinds, preferably heirloom. It means you really ought to plant lettuce heads, because you can pluck the nicest leaves off for your fresh-from-the-elements salad and your plant will keep growing.

I have this season (we skipped the peppers we did last year only because they're so cheap in my hood):

"Pink lettucy mustard" (pictured--it's a hybrid green, and is fantastic raw in salads)
Red leaf lettuce
Yellow tomatoes
Little tomatoes I forget what kind
Big tomatoes I forget what kind
Purple broccoli
Red Falstaff Brussels sprouts

So that's the size of it, folks. I'm in favor of things that make it easier to cook dinner, essentially, when you're planting your garden. I'll be doing plenty more garden updates as the weather finally improves and the flora starts fawning at the sunshine, so stay tuned and eat well in the meantime.

Lemon-Thyme Olive Oil Cupcakes with Balsamic Glaze


(for the Lemon-Thyme Cake--this recipe was lovingly stolen and marginally simplified from a very pretty blog called The Cupcake Project)

*Makes 12 cupcakes. I couldn't find the cupcake paper, so this looks like a muffin. Shut up, shut up, it's a cupcake.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (not regular olive oil--use a nice, grassy extra virgin)
1 tbsp. lemon zest
3 large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

1) Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
2) In a second mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Add olive oil slowly and mix on high speed until completely combined.
3) Beat in the eggs singly, mixing well after each addition.
4) Add 1/2 the flour mixture, combining well.
5) Add the lemon juice, combining well.
6) Add remainder of the flour. Beat until smooth.
7) Stir in the thyme.
8) Fill cupcake liners or muffin tins.
9) Bake at 375 degrees for twenty minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when touched.

(for the Balsamic Glaze, which is MINE, baby!)

1/2 cup granulated or superfine sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
a touch of fresh ground black pepper

1) Heat the sugar and balsamic vinegar in a small candy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
2) Stirring constantly, continue to reduce the mixture until it thickens to a syrup--about 5 minutes.
3) Remove from heat. Working before the glaze cools too much, paint your cupcakes with a brush or drizzle over the tops.

(for the beer)

1 Woodchuck Draft Cider Dark & Dry

Open beer.
Enjoy together with lemon thyme cupcakes for your high tea.


Well, it's not, of course. It's cider.

You absolutely can drink beer with your high tea, and high tea is what I called it every time I ate one of these killer cupcakes. But maybe you want to class it...I dunno, not UP a notch exactly, but class it...laterally. Yes. Have a cider, then.

I have chosen, for educational purposes, to also picture an actual woodchuck here for your edification and amusement. Woodchucks are awesome.

Woodchuck Draft Cider is a Vermont cider company that makes several varieties of tasty quaffables including an Amber, Pear, Raspberry, and Granny Smith. The Dark & Dry is called 802 (for their area code) and is made with deeply caramelized sugar instead of white sugar, which gives it a beautiful rich color and a better depth of flavor. It's still quite sweet, but this is your f***ing high tea, right? You deserve a treat.


I have believed throughout my adult life in the following principles, a simple list of Things Which Best Be Avoided:

Running, unless pursued by bears. (*NOTE: this is a turnaround from when I was little and thought adults were stupid for not running, because running gets you places faster. I also make exceptions for jaywalking across busy intersections and sudden April rainstorms.)



Non-alcoholic beer and decaf coffee. Because...why?

Cooking anything I can't taste multiple times throughout the process and thus save from heading over a cliff if it is going in the wrong direction, and thus: all effort to make baked goods.

I really thought that unless you got the exact perfect number of grains of baking powder in a batch of cookies (is there baking powder in cookies? or is that baking soda? what is the difference??? does it matter? I can't stop crying...I can't feel my lips...) then you would end up with an inferior product and people would laugh at you and point and call you Loser McFail-Baker. I thought they would refuse to ever hang out with you again even when you wore really cute glittery pumps and instead they would give you a steely look as if to say, "Your butter was improperly softened. I disdain you." I thought that acquaintances and friends, after sampling tepid, limp biscotti, would erect a sign above my apartment door that read HERE YOU MAY SEE LYNDSAY, WHO FLEW TOO CLOSE TO THE SUN AND MADE ASSY CINNAMON ROLLS.

PICTURED: the haunted visage of a man whose muffins turned out dry.

Actually, it turns out that baking is easy.

This isn't going to prove as big a problem as it could have been because I don't care for sweets particularly (open a bag of potato chips, however, and I will eradicate it for you). But expect to see bakery offerings on Beer Meets Food now! Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cambodian Glass Noodles


*(optional) 6 oz. leftover shredded pork shoulder
6 oz. Thai bean thread or "glass" noodles
1 tbsp. rendered pork or bacon fat (can use olive oil)
1 red onion, sliced thin
1 jalapeno, minced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flake
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
2 small heads broccoli, stems peeled, chopped
1 egg, beaten and seasoned
salt and fresh black pepper

1 tbsp. sugar or agave
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. oyster sauce

2 fresh chives, minced
a handful of cilantro, minced

Hitachino Nest White Ale

1) Place glass noodles in a mixing bowl and heat enough water (to just below boiling) to cover. Soak noodles (5 minutes is enough).
2) Heat pork fat until smoking in heavy-bottomed pan or cast iron. If using leftover pork shoulder or shredded pork, add meat to crisp.
3) Add to the pan minced jalapeno, garlic, red pepper flake, and onion. Saute 2 minutes.
4) Stir in broccoli and ground white pepper. Season cautiously with salt and black pepper and pan-fry 3 more minutes over high heat.
5) Move the contents of the pan to one side. If empty side is dry, add a touch of oil. Fry the beaten egg, then mix all together.
6) Add sauce to pan and scrape any fond off the bottom. (If at any point during this recipe something is burning or sticking, feel free to splash in a little chicken stock, water, or soy sauce--just be careful not to oversalt.)
7) Your noodles should be quite soft. Snip them with kitchen scissors in the bowl until they're a nice bite-sized length. Drain and add to pan, turning off heat.
8) Stir the noodles into the stir-fried veggies and pork, adding your chopped herbs. Check seasoning and adjust with sugar, salt, or fish sauce if necessary.
9) Open Hitachino Nest White Ale.
10) Enjoy together.


We've sorta sorely neglected to talk abut Asian beers on this blog, which is a shame. Gabe is the mixologist at Woo Lae Oak, and thus has a hand in picking which beers go on the list there, and Hitachino Nest White is one of them, because people should only drink beers that are awesome and Hitachino Nest White Ale is made of awesome and drinks like liquid awesome.

(Brief anecdote: I don't recall precisely what the beer list was at "the Woo" before Gabe and his GM Dan sat down and did an Awesomeness Enhancement, but it looked pretty much like this: Kirin. Kirin Light. OB. Sapporo. Heineken. Corona Light. Water With Beer Flavor Additives. Water With Beer Flavor Additives Light.)

This is a mean pairing with glass noodles. Hitachino White is a chilled-out Witbier at 5% alcohol, brewed in Japan, a lovely pale golden cloudy color. It has a delicate but vibrant nose on it. Super floral and ginger and cloves and citrus, lemon edges, a faint whiff of yeast. Sip it. It's incredibly complex for a Witbier style, with a Granny Smith tang at the front of the tongue and a depth of bittering balance that you don't often find with brews of this sort, which can lean toward banana and bubble gum pretty easily. This doesn't--it's a medley ofIndian spices with a backbone of lemon and bread. Outstanding. Drink it with glass noodles.


Photo caption: Lyndsay Pairs Beer with Food in Asia.

By the way, if you were ever to stop by Woo Lae Oak, you'd do well by yourself ordering the glass noodles and a Hitachino Nest White. Korean glass noodles are called Jap Chae and are made out of sweet potato instead of mung bean like the Thai/Cambodian variety I used here.

So this dish is inspired by my hometown dining experiences. There are not a lot of exotic places to eat on Longview, Washington. One might even be tempted to say boldly, ON THE CONTRARY! and drive to Portland, OR or Seattle, WA, which both have absolutely killer restaurants. But in Longview itself, unless what you want is some outrageously good Mexican food, ethnic dining is pretty much confined to Hart-C's Thai-Chinese Food and Steak Burger.

Yep. Great name. This from the town that also brought you Cleopatra's Grizzly Bear Casino.

Anyway, #58 is a dish called Glass Noodles with Pork and Eggs. The nifty trick about the Thai plates at Hart-C's is that the family that owns Hart-C's (I went to high school with their kids) isn't Thai. They're Cambodian. The food is similar to Thai, but I've never had another glass noodle dish in a genuinely Thai restaurant precisely like this one. Hart-C's is bloody delicious (they have an out of this world black pepper and garlic fried beef), so as a tribute to them I tried to recreate their glass noodles with some leftover pork. I'm pretty stoked by the results, and it's considerably cheaper than a plane flight.

I took a cooking class in Thailand, when we were in Chiang Mai. I could cook Thai food every day. So tasty. So healthy. So good with BEER.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fish Pie


We cheated. We used a recipe, almost exactly. I am in love with Jamie Oliver's notions of cooking. This is not original, though we made alterations.

But god, look at it.

Jamie's glorious fish pie recipe is here.

We made a few changes, of course.

1) Add leeks with the onion and carrot. Please add leeks. A big one, or two little ones. They're fan-bloody-tastic.
2) You don't really need that much heavy cream. By all means, use it if you like. But you can also sub milk (I think all we had was milk), or just reduce the amount. Trust me, with the cheddar, it's already very rich and creamy.
3) We de-glazed the onion and carrot saute with 1/2 cup of white wine. It was DELICIOUS.
4) We threw in raw shrimp, cleaned, tails off, halved lengthwise, with the raw fish.
5) The eggs are probably stellar, but we skipped them.
6) Open a bottle of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale.
7) Enjoy together.


Classic British brews are endlessly satisfying. They're balanced with the benefit of hundreds of years of expertise, and--while you can probably drink any beer with a fish pie--this one is a particularly nice choice. According to my eminently reliable sources (the generous strangers who have nothing better to do than to improve Wikipedia):

"The Old Brewery at Tadcaster was founded in 1758 and bears the name of famous local brewer Samuel Smith. It is both the oldest brewery in Yorkshire and the only surviving independent brewery in Tadcaster."

Try to think of a cooler name than Tadcaster. You'll find you can't.

Now, go get knocked up and name your infant child Tadcaster. Girl or boy, it won't matter. In either case, he or she will be welcomed as a liberator if not hailed as a god.

This beer tastes like drinking a pecan pie, in a good way. In a BEER way. It's so rich, so toasty, so malty, so balanced, so butterscotch and milk chocolate and almonds and dark fruit and warm earth, without ever being literally sweet, you want another one right away. Along with another scoop of fish pie.


Gabe and I both remember snatches of this song from our childhood. I went ahead and looked it up for this post, and was shocked to discover that it was actually released the year I was born (1980, kiddos). I admit freely, very little time passed as we assembled this recipe when we were NOT singing this song by Barnes and Barnes (you'll notice that the chorus is repeated frequently--because we couldn't recall the real words, that's pretty much all we sang):

Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up

Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up

In the morning, laughing happy fish heads
In the evening, floating in the soup

Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up

Ask a fish head anything you want to
They won't answer, they cant talk

Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up

I took a fish head out to see a movie,
Didn't have to pay to get it in

Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up

They can't play baseball, they don't wear sweaters
They're not good dancers, they don't play drums

Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads, eat them up

Eat your fish pie. The end.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

White Chicken Chili


1/2 pound dry white cannellini or Great Northern beans, soaked 4-6 hours in unsalted water until plump
1 andouille sausage link, casing removed
2 chicken breasts
1 large white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, minced
8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 jalepenos, minced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
dash of cayenne (optional)
1 4-oz can roasted Hatch chilis (mild or fiery)
1 7-oz. can salsa verde (we use Herdez)
3 pints chicken stock
1 small container plain yogurt
plenty of queso fresco, fresh chives, and chopped cilantro, to serve
1 bottle of Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock (to drink!)

1) In a big heavy-bottomed pot, cook the andouille sausage until it releases its fat and browns, about 5 minutes over medium-high heat. If there doesn't seem to be enough fat in the pan to saute the veg, add a little olive oil.
2) Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeno, and celery. Sweat for 5 minutes.
3) Add dry spices and dry herbs. Toast for 2 minutes.
4) Stir in Hatch chilis, salsa verde, chicken stock, and white beans. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook about 40 minutes, until beans begin to soften.
5) Place chicken breast in pot, submerged in broth. Cook through, about 20 minutes.
6) Remove chicken breasts from liquid with tongs and shred with a fork. Return meat to the pot. Test the beans; if still firm, cook a bit longer.
7) When beans are finished, stir in plain yogurt and season to taste. Garnish with chives, cilantro, and fresh white Mexican cheese.
8) Open Paulaner Salvator. Enjoy together.


Let's chat about Germans for a second. Germans are awesome in several ways. First--and this is truly important to me--they are completely, utterly unafraid of moustaches. More on moustaches later. Believe me, we are going to cover the topic of moustaches. But the second thing Fritz and Hans are entirely unafraid of is beer, and drinking it out of glassware with the liquid scope of a horse trough.

The doppelbock style was invented by monks. That's because, back when water was filthy, the Church decided that the best way of purifying it was to make a kajillion different varieties of beer, thus proving that sometimes even something as questionable as all-powerful Catholicism can produce good in the world. Most doppelbocks are dark and fairly rich, with a nice creamy head to them. They are not hop-forward, in fact are often quite mild and sweet, preferring to explore varieties of toasted malt complexity.

Paulaner is a monk founded brewery itself, and has been actively brewing for the monks' consumption (and other lucky people's, of course) since 1634. It could be argued that they know what they're doing by now. Paulaner currently makes fifteen classic varieties of German beer (they also make a non-alcoholic bottle, but I refuse to label that as typically German in any way, shape, or form). Their doppelbock is beautifully dark and caramelized, with tons of toasted sugars and a lingering aftertaste of spicy prunes. Delicious, and great for rounding out a nice bowl of chili.


Gabe has a moustache.

(No. I'm not going to spell it the other way. Don't ask me to spell it like that. People in Williamsburg with pointy elf shoes and Louis Vuitton trucker hats have mustaches. Real men have moustaches.)

I'm emotionally attached to the moustache. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it's an awesome moustache, and I really like awesome things better than I like lameass things. Or maybe it has something to do with Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone being awesome, or Dr. John H. Watson, M.D. being awesome. I have no idea, but moustaches rule.

People in the United States are rightfully wary of the Moustachioed Man. He has a certain panache in the literal "face" of adversity that other men find enviable and women (the women without moustaches, and even some of the women with moustaches) find epic. The thing is, the moustache can easily go too far, or not far enough, and a powerful moustache is all about balance. You don't want to end up doing what Michael Phelps has recently been accused of.

There are certain moustaches, you see, in the United States in particular, which convey the inevitable impression that you work in the pornography field. Now, this plays on the archetypal paradigm of the Mighty Moustache, no question, but do you really want schoolchildren to see evidence of your involvement in the sex industry on your face?


And that is what Michael Phelps has done here. Granted, he is an Olympic Gold Medal-winning professional athlete. And not the sort who goes to cheap suburban hotels in LA with film crews to take off his trousers and lay pipe like a contractor. Or not from what I've read about him, at any rate. It's nowhere in his Wikipedia bio.

The problem is, you would never know it from this moustache. He's famous, so his profession is going to be clearer to everyone than the average Joe's. But moustaches speak, and Michael Phelps's moustache is saying, "I'm here to fix your cable. Can I take my shirt off?" Yes, Michael Phelps, you can take your shirt off, because your torso looks like the Google Earth terrain map of the Appalachian Trail. But expect bright lights and girls named Taffy to want to get involved.

The Germans, on the other hand, have taken moustachular expressionism to new heights.

Here we have an example of another way that a moustache can get out of balance. A moustache, I believe, is exactly like a man's car: if you see a man, and he's car-less--you know, walks, bikes, takes the subway--you're not ever going to judge his manliness on the basis of his vehicle, obviously. But if a man has a Fiat with the paint peeling off and a CARTER/MONDALE 1976 sticker on the back, you might form some thoughts. If, conversely, you see a guy driving a red 2010 Corvette with a bumpersticker that says MY OTHER CAR IS A JET on it, that guy is going to be conveying a different impression entirely. What I'm saying is, neither of these looks is going to get you laid by any of my friends. If faced with the choice, they'd take the guy with the Fiat in a heartbeat, of course, because that guy is compensating for nothing whatsoever, but it's not ideal.

So then there's this moustache.

It's technically, from what I know of moustache types, the Wingspan Facespanner. Is it awesome? Yes? Is it beautiful? Yes. But so are Corvettes, sort of.

Meanwhile, don't even try to tell me this guy isn't German. This guy MUST be German. There's just no other explanation for his total moustache abandon here. It's a bravery that borders on recklessness. Only the Germans can treat moustaches with such wanton inhibition. This guy's name is Wilhelm Sigisfried Poppycock Krapp VonSchittekatter.

Finally, we have an example of the sort of moustache you want from a fellow. (A fellow who, I must add, just bought a straight razor, and things called boar's bristles and hones and strops and I don't even know what.) This man will rub the hide of a boar over his face and then shave it with a deadly weapon from the 19th century. This moustache commands respect.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Baked Eggs in a Leek Nest with Sourdough

(Note: obviously, this recipe is open to endless variation. You could make the base of this dish out of hash browns instead of leeks, maybe baked tomatoes, why not shittakes?, throw some Parmesan or feta on top, whatever you like. Go crazy. Then bake the eggs 8-10 minutes in a 390 degree oven and serve with warm, fresh bread.)

1 massive or two smaller leeks, cleaned thoroughly, halved and then sliced thin (about 5 cups)
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
4 eggs
a big handful of fresh parsley and chives, chopped
2 oz. hard Italian-style dried sausage or salami (we used finocchio), minced fine
2 tbsp butter
salt and fresh black pepper
and to serve, sliced fresh sourdough (recipe link and tale follows)

1) Preheat your oven to 390 degrees.
2) Heat the butter in a cast-iron skillet until foamed subsides; brown it if you like. Mmm.
3) Add leeks. Season with salt and pepper and saute about 3 minutes.
4) When leeks have begun to soften, add minced or pressed garlic. Continue to saute, about 3 more minutes, until garlic is toasted and leeks are starting to brown and melt a bit further. Taste to adjust seasoning.
5) With a wooden spoon, make 4 little nests in your leeks. They should *not* expose the cast-iron pan beneath.
6) Add the eggs to your nests, like so. Crack sea salt and pepper over eggs. Add minced hard salami, sprinkling over pan.
7) Bake 8-10 minutes (10 for cooked very nearly through).
8) Dish up the eggs in the nests. Garnish with herbs. Best breakfast ever. Voila.
9) Get yourself a growler of Sixpoint Double Sweet Action from Whole Foods.
10) Enjoy together.


Oh my lord.

So I joined Twitter about...oh, maybe six months back...because after all it's a free marketing tool and (more convincingly) my friend Leslie Klinger of Annotated Sherlock Holmes fame told me I was ridiculous not to be on a free social media site everyone follows and I should get with the program. (He is right in this evaluation, as he is right to laugh when I put ice in my Maker's.) I joined, and let me tell you, it is a challenge for me to come up with posts that DON'T have to do with food. (My handle is lyndsayfaye, if anyone cares.) My friend Melinda told me that she can't check my Twitter feed without getting hungry. I have reached, meanwhile, some stirring low points in 140-character statements of self. Examples: going to cozy up for some niece and nephew time. I hope there are ninja turtles involved, of the teenage mutant variety.

is uncannily skilled at forgetting to water Christmas trees. In my living room, in plain view. Thereby killing them.

has decided that duck ragu=delicious thing to have in fridge. Can you put it in pasta? Check. Risotto? Check. Hash? Check. Soup? Check.

I'm really none too good at it. And I refuse to say things like " sitting on the couch watching The L-Word. Shane is hot." What was this section about? Beer, you say? Ah, yes. What does Twitter have to do with beer? Well, kids, I soon discovered after joining Twitter that apart from following interesting people, I can also follow WHOLE FOODS. This was a seminal moment. Because a few days ago, the lads from Sixpoint (best Brooklyn brewery ever) finished a concoction they're calling Double Sweet Action for their fifth anniversary. And with admirable haste, they dispatched it and themselves to the Bowery Whole Foods Beer Room and started passing it around. For free. Free Sixpoint Double Sweet Action. Where did I find this out?

Twitter. That's what a full circle looks like, ladies and gents. We grabbed our coats and flew down to Whole Foods with the swiftness of fleet pumas.

The regular Sixpoint Sweet Action is a supremely highly rated American Blonde Ale. We love it. And so when we asked the brewers what they'd done to make the Double Sweet Action and their answer was "Doubled the malts and doubled the hops," we were very pleased. It tastes more like an IPA than does the original, of course, but the honeyed overtones and the lush tangerine really even out the bitterness. Which makes it a perfect...brunch beer! And it's nine and a half percent alcohol! You'll be out of commission by two in the afternoon. You're welcome. Go get a growler.


Gabe made a sourdough starter. Actually, there are two of them, living in the fridge like brothers. I have named them Terwilliger and Newt. One is a wheat starter and the other is a white-flour starter. Now, I don't understand the first thing about baking (you follow rules??), but here's a good discussion of starters and sourdough recipes with pretty pretty pictures of sourdough toast. Gabe followed America's Test Kitchen's recipe here, but unfortunately you need a subscription to access it. The Test Kitchen is rock solid when it comes to baking things, however, and a subscription to their website is hugely worthwhile.

Like I said, I can't bake. Meanwhile, I got to eat it. It was soooo tasty. We had it with white bean chili, and with smoked mackerel, and with jam, and with butter and cracked sea salt, and with olive oil and balsamic. And we weren't sorry.


I have a short story in friends Jon Lellenberg's and Dan Stashower's Sherlock Holmes in America anthology called "The Case of Colonel Warburton's Madness." It was a hat trick to write it, because it's an "armchair" mystery: Holmes solves a case presented to him by Watson without ever so much as leaving his chair except to pour a couple glasses of wine for himself and the Doc (hey, it's me writing Holmes here, after all).

Well, the story was just selected for the Best American Mystery Stories 2010 anthology! Huzzah! I am so chuffed over that I can't tolerate myself. Thanks very much to Otto Penzler and Lee Child for picking it. I'm thrilled. And I will probably never manage to pull off writing an "armchair" mystery of any sort ever again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Year's Thai Crab Fried Rice


1 tbsp. water or fish stock
2 tsp. Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. honey or agave
about 2 cups cooked (1 cup uncooked, following package directions) of day-old brown rice
2 shallots, minced
6 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 inch of ginger, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, minced fine
6 oz. green beans, chopped
8 oz. lump snow crab meat
2 eggs, seasoned and beaten
approx. 4 tbsp. oil (one with a high smoke point), divided
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 bottle Laurelwood Public House & Brewery's Free Range Red

(Note: if you have a wok, follow the traditional method. We don't, and our cast iron doesn't get hot enough, so we do this in batches instead, so as to get a better texture.)

1) Stir the first five ingredients into a smooth paste. Set aside.
2) In a heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet or equivalent, heat 1 tbsp oil until smoking. Add 1/2 the carrots, onion, and green beans and cook until blistered, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape into bowl.
2) Heat another tbsp. oil and fry the remaining carrot, onion, and green beans. Scrape into same bowl.
3) Add next tbsp of oil. Stir-fry the minced garlic, shallot, and ginger until fragrant and toasted, 1 minute. Add the red curry paste and liquid mixture and toast for 30 seconds.
4) Add rice. Incorporate into sauce (it should have dried up very quickly) and fry, about 3 minutes, with more oil if necessary.
5) Stir vegetables back in with rice, adding the lump crab meat. Move to one side of cast iron and add last tbsp. oil to empty side. Fry the beaten eggs. When cooked, mix all together.
6) Mix in fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and black or white pepper.
7) Open bottle of Laurelwood's organic Free Range Red Ale.
8) Enjoy together.


Have we talked about Laurelwood before? I have no idea. Anyway, Laurelwood is three brewpubs, a pizza pub, and an airport bar. Just our size of company. And style too--it's based out of Battle Ground, Washington, and their beers go down real, real easy. It's an open question whether we'd know as much about their beers if the aforementioned airport bar wasn't in the PDX terminal JetBlue usually flies into, which we see at least twice a year, but I'd like to think we still would have found them. And as it is, the meeting was rather magically predestined.

Free Range Red is an organic ale, and Laurelwood owner Mike DeKalb claims that they were the first brewery in Oregon to "brew beers that met the rigorous certified organic standards of Oregon Tilth." Well, I'm not going to lie and say I fact-checked this. What I did do was visit Wikipedia to find out what the hell Oregon Tilth is. Wikipedia claims that Oregon Tilth is a nonprofit membership organization that educates gardeners, farmers, legislators, and the public on how to make better sustainable growing choices and conserve natural resources. But I didn't fact-check the Wikipedia entry either. For all I know, Mike DeKalb is a handgun magnate with a dirty-coal plant he rigged out of harvested elephant ivory to power his breweries. I'm just saying. Not that he is. And for all I know, Oregon Tilth is a grunge rock band who want their name to evoke a combination of filth and the more generalized enigma of the capital letter "T." I mean, maybe the Wikipedia entry is right. But I didn't...never mind.

What I DO know is that the beer is delicious. The Free Range Red is one of their year-round offerings, and it's sort of cheap to pair it with this dish, because you could drink Free Range Red with anything. Any sort of flavorful comfort food would go well with this brew. It's a pretty coral-copper-beige pour with pinker tones in good lights, with a nice smooth head. The toffeeish malts you get in the background are offset and nicely complimented by grapefruit rind and a good, clean acidity. Hops are more prominent than they would be if brewed in any other state, and that's 100% fine by us. All around, a very drinkable beer that also has the advantage of being rigorously organic (unless it's actually produced using babies on treadmills--I didn't fact check, so who can say?).


I kick myself that I haven't updated this blog for so long, but the end of this year came at me like a lead freight train. First, there was Christmas. Yes, Christmas is all rock and roll and the cappuccino's foam and the best of times, but it also meant rather extensive cooking. We changed our routine this year and lived to regret it--three ducks instead of one fat goose, and our cooking method was trusted (Cook's Illustrated) but sadly imperfect. Well, imperfect unless you enjoy duck jerky. And you know, some people do. But we made duck gravy and the sides were delicious and all was well. The salad was the winner of Christmas Night. I'll throw in this recipe as a bonus, even without a picture, because it was inspired.

a whole big bunch of wild arugula
plenty of chopped roasted chestnuts
a good amount of slivered fennel
minced fennel fronds
lots of broken-up frico wafers (frico is a melted Parmesan or Asiago crisp: recipe here)
more-or-less-Jamie-Oliver's "Mind-Blowing Sauce"

Sauce a la Jamie more-or-less: take six peeled cloves of garlic and 10 anchovy fillets and gently simmer in a pot with 2/3 cup of milk for ten minutes, until garlic is cooked. In a blender, mix these ingredients with about 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil (more for creamier dressing) and 2 or 3 tbsp. good white wine vinegar. Season/sweeten to taste and dress salad. Voila! Best. Salad. Ever.

And then Gabe turned 30. Oh, lordy. I wanted to outdo myself for that one, so my friend Heather and I hosted a shindig at a very cute downtown Italian wine bar the day before his birthday. That was epic--and then, then, we went to Babbo.

This is what Mario Batali calls "Guancia Ripiena" with Eggplant Caponata and Broccoli Rabe Pesto. It's basically house-made sausage wrapped in pork fat and roasted, then grilled. The food there was so good it hurts. When you take ravioli and stuff it with goose liver pate, and then dress it with balsamic and brown butter sauce, you have made a friend of Lyndsay Faye and company. Gabe had a great time too. But I still scored bites of everything. In the end we were taken out by Luis and Allison, and we're still on about how nice that was of them and how Mario Batali is a food rock god and how we love our friends.

Then there was New Year's Eve. I was not prepared. Then there was the trip to Washington. Also not ready. But then I got back and it was...


This is like my crack cocaine.

I ran around to nine (is it nine? I think it was nine...) separate Sherlockian events over the course of five days. The daring folk at the Baker Street Journal trusted me to report on the events, which was absurdly charitable, and so I'm in the midst of writing up a report now. But god damn, it was fun. There were all sorts of people there I never get to see and love chatting with, and we gadded about and toasted everything in sight and talked scholarly papers and ate the best crab cakes of all time (the Coffee House Club's) and I think I might finally be sober now, two days later.

I hosted two of the events, which was also a blast. In retrospect, they ought not to have come right after each other. But truly, it was far more hitchless than I had any right to expect.

This is a picture from the BSI Dinner itself, with Mr. Peter Blau. It would be tough to find a better human being outside of Doylean literature. Mike Whelan held the dinner at the Yale Club this year, and I think it was a great move from the Union League Club. Food was great, the event itself wonderful, and the waitstaff had as poor an opinion of an empty wine glass as anyone I've ever seen.

Anyway, I am back to work and keeping up with this blog and determined not to let my focus slip. But this was, just like last time, one of the major highlights of my year. And it ended with Robert Downey Jr. winning the Golden Globe. How bloody cool are we Sherlockians?