Monday, May 31, 2010

Miami (Sandwich) Vice

Everglades!

A few summers ago I went to Miami, and I now know that Miami Vice doesn't refer to detectives in white linen pants and sportcoats, it refers to the dirty little habit people in Miami just can't break...the Cuban Sandwich: a sinfully delicious and addicting vice. Miami might have their famous Medianoche sandwich—the oh-so-good concoction filled with pork, ham, Swiss, mustard, and pickles, then pressed until thin and melty... but Seattle has the Midnight Cuban Press from Paseo. Nothing like your traditional Cuban sandwich, Paseo's Midnight Cuban Press is a legend in its own right: succulent roast pork, smoky ham, melty Swiss, unbelievable caramelized onions, sweet banana peppers, garlicky aioli, and bright, fresh cilantro.


I had been hearing about Paseo for years before I actually experienced the glory. Most people couldn’t believe I hadn’t been, I mean… I live right between the only two locations—west Ballard and Fremont, and if you hadn’t noticed, I’m a little obsessed with good food. A few months ago, when Seattle had one sunny day (which was sunnier, two months ago, than it was all Memorial weekend) Evan and I finally went to Paseo. The Ballard location is a little pink shack, with a few picnic tables and line that stretches two blocks down the street. Don’t let the insane line intimidate you… the wait is well worth it.

Phone pic of my first Paseo

We both got the Midnight Cuban Press—mine with aioli, his without. It was life changing. The flavor combo was unlike than anything I’ve ever had, and was absolutely amazing. If I could pick one thing to eat the rest of my life, it might be a Paseo sandwich. No joke. The onions were big and sweet, the aioli tangy with a super garlicky bite, and the pork tender and full of juicy goodness. Talk about a vice!

This weekend, Evan was on a boy’s trip, so I was home alone with nothing to do but cook (and watch a Law & Order: SVU marathon). After a few fast food filled weekends away, I was stoked to stay home and get a little kitchen crazy. I made pizza, I made cake, I baked eggs, and… I recreated the ultimate pork sandwich.


My easy home version of the Paseo sandwich includes leftover roast pork (I used this delicious recipe from a Food52 member, Kayb), deli ham, Swiss cheese, honey caramelized onions, garlic-yogurt spread, and cilantro on a French baguette, pressed to messy, delicious perfection. If you have leftover roasted pork, then I highly recommend you make this. If you don’t have leftover roasted pork, then I seriously suggest you get your butt in the oven (your pork butt, or shoulder, that is), grab a huge handful of napkins, make an ice cold, minty mojito, turn up the heat, and pretend that it’s not 48 degrees and raining at the end of May.

Paseo Style Cuban Pork Sandwiches

Makes 2 big, filling, fantastic sandwiches

1/2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 small-medium sweet onion- sliced in rings
1 tablespoon honey
1 large garlic clove- pressed
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
pinch of ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1.5 cups pulled pork
4 thin slices of smoked deli ham
4 slices of Swiss cheese
1 French baguette- halved lengthwise and cut in 2 portions
handful of cilantro
salt and pepper

For caramelized onions: in a skillet, heat EVOO and butter over medium heat. Add onions and slowly caramelize until golden. Take off of heat, and add in honey and a pinch of salt.

For garlic-yogurt spread: whisk together pressed garlic, yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, and a pinch of salt.

For sandwiches: On each baguette half, slather on garlic spread, and layer pork, ham, swiss, onions, and cilantro. Top with other baguette half. Heat big skillet over medium. Place sandwiches in skillet, and press (I press w/a heavy cast iron skillet) for a few minutes on each side, until cheese is melty.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Too Much of a Good Thing

Las Vegas one weekend + California the next = 2 weekends of In-N-Out Burger. Time for salads.


(Blurry "I-want-to-hurry-and-take-this-pic-so-I-can-devour-that-animal-style-burger" Pic)

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Dilla a Day

Oh man. I love quesadillas. That tasty lil’ ham and cheese number I told you about awhile back, that was just the tip of the tortilla, my friends. There was a time in my life—college, to be exact—when I had the genius idea of starting a quesadilla café. My little eatery would have everything you could ever dream of putting between two tortillas.


Of course I’d serve up the classic, with oozy melty jack and cheddar, guac, sour cream, and salsa. Then I’d have the deli-dillas (yes, I thought about the menu-section names a lot). Deli-dillas would be your average deli counter creations between crispy, golden tortillas. These would be your ham and cheese, chicken Caesar, roast beef, turkey club, BLT, etc. Then there would be diner-dillas—things like meatloaf dilla, mashed potato, maybe a few bacon-and-eggs or corned beef hash type breakfast options. Next on the list: destination-dillas—filled with everything from Hawaiian spam and pineapple, pepperoni pizza toppings, and Caribbean coconut rice with pigeon peas, to down south pulled pork and slaw, Northwest smoked salmon, and crab cakes from Maryland. I’d also have a few dessert-dillas on the menu, for good measure.

I recently made three extra delicious dillas that would definitely need to be on the menu: the tuna-dilla, smoky asparagus dilla, and the Philly cheese-steak dilla. Get out there and buy yourself some tortillas, because these gems are just dying to get eaten.

Dilla Numero Uno: The Tuna Dilla


Tuna-dilla may sound a little creepy, but trust me…this isn’t your grandma’s tuna surprise. In college, my roommates and I ate a lot of quesadillas… hence my café idea. We all had our specialties… Kristy rocked the super cheesy, fully stuffed corn and black bean salsa dilla, I usually stuck to simple dillas with chili or split pea soup, and Bree… her claim to fame was the one and only tuna-dilla. I was a little freaked out at first. My family did not partake in hot tuna. No tuna melts, no tuna casseroles, and definitely no tuna surprise. Bree’s tuna dilla, however, changed everything. Fresh, flakey tuna between crispy tortillas with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese… epic. I’ve updated the tuna-dilla to include sweet piquillo peppers and nutty Swiss cheese. It’s a little weird, super simple, and insanely satisfying. Simply mix 1 can of drained chunk light tuna with a little salt, pepper, and a small splash of olive oil, layer with Swiss cheese and piquillo peppers between two flour tortillas, and grill until golden and melty.

Dilla Dos: Philly Cheese-steak Dilla


A cheese-steak between tortillas, what more do you need to know!? One night, Amanda mentioned that she’d be making me Phillies later in the week, then she flip flopped to taco salads. Excited about the prospect of cheese-steaks, I mentioned them to Evan, and it was all downhill from there. Amanda ended up flip flopping back to cheese-steaks, but Evan was already sold. So, to avoid having the same thing two nights in a row, I decided to jazz up Evan and my cheese-steaks by making them quesadillas instead. So easy for a rushed weeknight. Sautéed onions, red bell pepper, and pepperoncinis; Swiss cheese, and thin sliced deli roast beef. Aside from the amazing sandwiches at New York Sub Shop in Hood River, Oregon, I’d say these are the best cheese-steaks I’ve had.

Dilla Number Three: Smoky Asparagus Dilla


Smoky asparagus dillas were actually inspired by Mel’s zucchini and onion quesadillas, which are fantastic (and will for sure show up on here at some point). Mel’s killer zucchini quesadillas have sautéed onions, zucchini, cumin, and lots of ooey, gooey, melty cheese, so I decided to make it even better with a few tweaks and the addition of my favorite spring veggie- asparagus. The smoky cheese and asparagus really make it a full on meal, and a delish one at that. Just ask Brit and Amanda, they witnessed this little creation one night when I went a little asparagus crazy, making three separate, completely unrelated asparagus dishes for dinner.

Smoky Asparagus Dilla for 2-4 people
1/2 onion-sliced
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
6-8 asparagus stalks- halved and then sliced lengthwise
2-3 garlic cloves- diced
.5 teaspoons cumin seeds
.5 teaspoons ground cumin
Generous salt and pepper
1-2 cup shredded cheese (a mix of jack and something smoked-gouda or smoked cheddar)
4 flour tortillas (8 inch for optimal filling/dilla, but smaller or bigger would work)
EVOO for brushing
1-2 tablespoon EVOO for cooking
Pinch red pepper flakes

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in large skillet, and add cumin seeds, onions, and asparagus. Cook until fragrant and slightly tender. Add zucchini, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until tender and slightly saucy. Assemble on a cookie sheet: 1 tortilla, handful of cheese (desired amt), half of mixture, handful of cheese, 2nd tortilla (x2). Brush top of tortilla w/EVOO, and bake for 5-10 min, until golden, flip, brush w/EVOO, repeat. Enjoy with sour cream and cilantro.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blogiversary and BBQ Salad

It’s my one year blogiversary! Happy Birthday, Loves Food, Loves to Eat!
I wanted to make some kind of fancy update to the site, throw a party, go out for drinks, or make a bunch of delicious snacks for my fans, followers, and friends… but then I went to Las Vegas last weekend for a crazy girls trip, came home exhausted to a boyfriend and cat that missed me, a messy house and dirty laundry, a giant Norwegian parade on my street, and a super busy work week… not to mention Evan took off today for San Francisco to visit his sister, and I’m off again tomorrow, to northern California for a family visit. So, the big celebration I dreamed of isn’t happening this week.


Eventually, when I have a free weekend, I’ll have a real party to celebrate, complete with specially crafted cocktails, creative eats, and delicious goodie bags. And I’ll write the post I should be writing on my one year blogiversary, about how much I love this little site, how it’s led to so many fun times, and how blogging about my fantastic food life has helped me discover what makes me tick. But for now…while I unpack from Vegas and re-pack for Cali, Biscuit and I will have a nice, quiet celebration, with a glass of wine and a grilled cheese sandwich (for me) and a plate of Fancy Feast (for her).


Hopefully next week things will calm down a little, and I’ll see Evan more than a couple hours. Maybe we’ll have a little champagne toast to celebrate one year of blogging. Maybe the sun will even come back and we’ll find time to invite friends over for drinks, grill, and relax on the balcony … or maybe there will still be laundry to catch up on, Evan will be taking off for a guys-only Memorial weekend trip, and I’ll be getting sushi take-out and working late every night.


If we do end up finding a few minutes for a nice dinner, I want to make the salad I made two weeks ago… when life was calm and easy-breezy. The amazingly tasty salad I barbequed on the grill, with the garlicky, lemony dressing I whisked together in mere minutes. The simple salad with nothing but homemade dressing, deliciously charred romaine, and crusty grilled baguette slices. The salad we took our time to eat on the balcony as the sun set, while Biscuit chased bees and Evan and I caught up on each other’s day. The salad of calm, warm, spring evenings at home with my sweetie.


Ah, a girl can dream.

Fully Grilled Caesar Salad

1.5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 large lemon
1-2 cloves pressed garlic
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan
Generous salt and pepper
1 large romaine heart (or 2 small-medium)
1/2 baguette- halved lengthwise
For dressing, whisk to combine everything except romaine and baguette. Salt and pepper to taste. Heat barbeque to medium/medium high heat. Cut romaine heart(s) lengthwise in half, and brush cut side with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush baguette with olive oil. Place romaine and bread cut side down on grill and cook 1-2 minutes, until charred, but not overly wilted. Serve still warm. For presentation, serve romaine hearts whole, surrounded by bread and dress to your liking. Or, slice lettuce crosswise and serve in a bowl, with sliced baguette and dressing.

What was I eating one year ago?
 Chipotle Chicken Soup

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wrinkly Fannies

My dad is the baker in the family. When I was growing up, Mel despised making cookies, but John loved it. He still does. A guy that keeps sweets in the house is alright in my book (Evan could learn a thing or two on that front), but the problem is that John always wanted crispy, crunchy, nearly burnt cookies, and the rest of like them with a slight crunch on the outer edge, but a soft, chewy middle.


John’s go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe was from our family’s go-to cookbook, the Original Fannie Farmer. Amanda and I always wondered why other kids’ parents made big, thick, soft, pillowy chocolate chip cookies, while our parents made thin, wrinkly, flat, crunchy cookies. Fannie Farmer’s wrinkly chocolate chip cookies were like a staple in our household, and we ate them, but we didn’t like them, damnit.


Amanda and I spent our high school and college years rebelling from John’s wrinkly Fannies. We would only eat our friend’s soft cookies, and we would do everything in our power to find the perfect cookie recipe (according to Tash, the secret is half shortening, half butter). It wasn’t until two years ago, for a Race for the Cure bake sale I was putting on at work, that Amanda and I gave the Wrinkly Fannies another chance.


Low and behold, those weird, wrinkly, flat cookies weren’t half bad. We discovered that the whole time, John had been overcooking them to achieve the crisp crunch he liked, but if we cooked them according to directions, they came out perfect…imagine that. Still thin, flat, wrinkly, and slightly crunchy on the outside, but with a salty, buttery, chewy center. Now we’re a little obsessed with them… wrinkles and all.


Today John is having surgery on his knee, and we wish him the best of luck on a speedy recovery… because we’re a little obsessed with him too, wrinkles and all.

 
Chocolate Chip Cookies aka: John's Wrinkly Fannies
From the original Fannie Farmer cookbook
 
¼ lb butter

½ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
¾ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cups flour
½ t salt
½ t baking soda
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 and grease cookies sheets. Cream butter, then gradually add the two sugars, beating until light and smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix flour, salt, baking soda together and add to butter mixture, blending well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart and bake 8-10 minutes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Brunch on the Balcony

We had amazing weather this weekend… like, Seattle is finally catching on to this thing called ‘spring’. It was sunny, it was warm, it was beautiful. There was a nice but slight breeze, the skies were blue, and I swear there were even birds chirping. I took advantage of the fantastic weekend in every way possible. On Saturday Amanda, LB, and I went to the UW baseball game, a perfect place to sit and soak up some rays. Today we went to our friend’s beach house and lounged in the sun, kayaked, and played in the sand.

Aside from sunny day activities, warm weather also means al fresco dining. More specifically, it means al fresco brunch. My favorite thing EVER. I love brunch. I love brunch on the balcony with all that delicious food, sun, and nature. So, without further ado, I give you Brunches on the Balcony…my new favorite weekend tradition.


Parmesan French toast with poached eggs and arugula – inspired by a Gourmet recipe.


Poached egg on toasted baguette with fresh avocado, cream cheese, piquillo peppers, a splash of balsamic, and a sprinkle of smoked gouda.


Until next time…

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Not So Iron Stomach

I met Mario Batali! Well, sort of. He was holding a book signing right in front of my office…which just happens to be in the same building as his family’s amazing Chartrucerie shop, Salumi. So, by ‘met him’ I mean, I stalkerishly took pictures of him from around the corner, then finally got in line and bought a book, which he signed. I also bought a book for Amanda, and for my coworker’s daughter, Laura. I was a little flustered, and told Mario to make it out to “Laura…L-U-A-R-A.” He corrected me. Mario is clearly not only an Iron Chef, but also an Iron Speller.


I wanted to come up with something awesome to say to him, I also wanted to hop on here and immediately tell you all about it, maybe even come home and do some ‘Easy Italian Cooking’ out of his book I bought, Molto Gusto, so I could blog about it. But alas, something else was goin’ down that day, which is evident in my sickly palor in the picture of us together. My stomach wasn’t feeling too hot from the get-go that morning, and shortly after kickin’ it with Mario, I went home from work early... with stomach flu. Tuesday afternoon was definitely a blur, of which I’ll spare you the gory details. Wednesday I napped most of the day, ate a few bites of chicken noodle soup and a handful of crackers, followed by a few bites of Evan’s chicken katsu. By this evening...Thursday, I was ready to get some food in my belly, but there was only one food I could think of that didn’t make my stomach flip. Mel’s potato soup.


Growing up, this was THE soup we had in our family. We had it when we were sick. We had it when we weren’t. We had it all the time… and we never got tired of it. It was one of the first things Amanda and I made in our own kitchens after moving out, and we both still make it on the regular.


Unlike typical potato soups, Mel’s isn’t thick and creamy, it’s not full of herbs and spices, and doesn’t contain leeks (sorry Julia). It’s simple in preparation and flavor, delicious and comforting with a buttery, oniony, chicken broth base and bites of tender potatoes and carrots. It’s the one thing that will always comfort my weak stomach and my hungry soul.

Watch out stomach flu…you’ve just met your match.

Mel’s Potato Soup

5-6 russet potatoes- peeled, quartered, and cut in ‘thickish’ slices
1 small-medium yellow onion, diced
1-2 carrots- peeled and chopped or sliced
1 stick (8T) butter
S&P
4-6 cans (8-12 cups) chicken broth
1 can (about 2 cups) evaporated milk
Grated cheddar cheese for garnish
Warm French bread for dipping

Melt half stick (4T) butter in large pot over medium low heat and add potatoes, onions, and carrots. Cook (making sure it doesn't stick) until onions are translucent and potatoes are slightly tender. Add generous salt and pepper. Add in one can (or 2 cups) of broth, and bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Add remaining broth, bring back to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Just before serving, add in remaining butter and evaporated milk, and stir until melted and incorporated. Serve with grated cheddar cheese, fresh cracked pepper, and warm French bread. Or, if you happen to find yourself whipping this up when you have stomach flu, serve with Saltine crackers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Birthdays are Better with Bacon

Evan turned 25 last week. And so did his identical twin, Mark.


For their big quarter century birthday, I wanted to put on a real classy event for them. You know, all glitz and glamour, something that would really impress. Or… completely the opposite. So I invited all of our friends to Wingmasters, a divey sports bar around the corner from our apartment, for buckets of messy, greasy buffalo wings, pitchers of PBR, and a few games of Big Buck Hunter. And, considering it was such a formal affair, I figured I should make a real black-tie dessert. One with bacon, of course.

I had been eyeing a recipe on Gourmet.com for Frozen Peanut Butter Pie with Candied Bacon for quite some time. Just waiting for the right occasion. A double birthday at a wing bar full of 20-something guys was just the opportunity I needed. But really, it’s peanut butter and bacon, together in a pie. Who needs an excuse?!


I could care less about PBJ sandwiches, but I’m a big fan of peanut butter desserts. Especially peanut butter chocolate desserts… sorry Amanda and Mel. I love cool, creamy, sweet peanut butter in the form of ice cream, cheesecake, and milkshakes, or warm, nutty peanut butter rolled into cookies, baked into bread, or mixed into pancakes. So, why not take creamy peanut butter to the next level by pairing it with salty, smoky bacon? If Elvis can do it, so can I!


I felt like Dr. Frankenstein, combining an innocent pie with a not-so-innocent breakfast meat, creating some kind of (delicious) monster. I whipped, I fried, I candied, I mixed, I froze. And at last, only a short time later, the creature came to life. A frozen peanut butter pie on a chocolaty crust, studded and sprinkled with meaty, crunchy, sweet, salty bits of oh-so-naughty candied bacon. (By the way, I left out the chopped nuts). Saying the pie was a big hit would be an understatement. The twins were blown away. Anthony drooled awaiting a slice. Dave licked the pie plate clean, literally. Everyone ooh’d and ahh’d over the combo.


In the end though, it wasn’t the candied bacon that won me over. It wasn’t the buttery chocolate wafer crust. It wasn’t even the crazy combination. It was the cool, creamy, rich but light, frozen peanut butter filling. O.M.G. If you want heaven in one peanut buttery frozen bite, this is it, folks. This. Is. It. Expect to see this mixture show up again in other iterations. I’m thinking ice cream cake. You just wait.

And, by the way… I did end up giving Evan a really classy, glitz and glamour type birthday present. We took a little staycation right here in our city. We stayed in the romantic and elegant Fairmont in downtown Seattle, drank champagne, lounged in the Jacuzzi, and had an amazing steak dinner, along with ahi tartare and martinis, at the Metropolitan Grill.

Just like bacon, we’re very versatile.