Monthly Archives: February 2012

happy…

Supper with Ernest

No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure. – E. Hemingway, more or less, from Midnight in Paris

 

Epicurious made it so easy that you still have time to put together a Midnight in Paris menu before tonight’s Oscars!

And the award goes to…

We’d like to thank the Academy for all our new followers. ~ Season’s Harvest

We aren’t the only ones who are gushing about Colorado’s own Fruition, Rioja, Restaurant Six89 and Frasca Food & Wine.  Take another look at the D Post story on the 2012 JBF Awards – winners to be announced May 7 – giving you plenty of time to get to Cannes for that annual film hoohaw.

 There are more reasons than ever to be excited about Denver Restaurant Week.  You still have a chance to make some eleventh-hour reservations – and since it starts this weekend, we DO mean last-minute.

 If you are “just visiting” or have been cooking at home a lot, you need to educate yourself and your palate by trying some of these wonderful places.  To guide you, let 5280 send you to the 25 Best, or consult Urban Spoon for helpful reviews, 10Best’s lists include great places to eat, and our city’s food critic helps us narrow it down to ten at The Denver Post.   Finally 5280 gives us the low down on the most recent Top Chef casting call.

 If the Oscars are your thing, you should visit FoodRepublic.com’s 17 Best Picture Food Scenes (only one of which we agree is both about food and “best” – you guess which.)

 If you are watching at home with all your celebrity friends who were “on hiatus” in 2011 (weren’t we all?) go straight to Epicurious.com’s Oscars Party Planner.

And one last award for best “fishie” information in Denver goes to Seattle Fish’s Market Report!

See you at the Vanity Fair party.

       

Frozen or drowned

Every year we act surprised, but this is the time of year in the northernhemisphere when weather plays with our best-laid plans.  Strawberries freeze in Florida or drown in California.  A week of plans are lost.  And then before you know it, Spring has crept up the longitudinal ladder and fruit is plentiful, lasting and pretty again.

Mardi Gras Mambo*

It has been said that a Scotchman has not seen the world until he has seen Edinburgh; and I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.  ~  Mark Twain

Polling the warehouse and office for everyone’s favorite pre-bead-throwing Mardi Gras foods.  No one owns up to liking King Cake, but everyone has their preferred gumbo and jambalaya recipes.

Colleen’s absolute favorite is Rachael Ray’s Chicken Jambalaya.  Looking it over, I agree, although jambalaya is very forgiving if you want to get creative.

To add a little kick, the Cajun Grocer has boudin alligator sausage–the Alligator is sauteed with “the Cajun Three” (onions, celery, bell pepper) then seasoned and combined with cooked rice and finally packed in a sausage casing.  They also have andouille, but our own Boulder Natural Meats makes their own delicious version, and you can buy great Colorado Sausage andouille around here at Tony’s Market.

On the other hand you might be wondering why cook at all (and have to clean up before the festivities) when you can have the best late lunch at Lucile’s – one of my favorite neighbors at  Logan /Alameda.  Of course, if you are in Boulder, Fort Collins, Littleton or Longmont, Lucile’s has blessed you with one of its Cajun cafes, as well.  This way you will have time to go buy an extra couple of packs of Mardi Gras beads to toss up into the bare winter branches of your trees.  

If you have misbehaved on Tuesday night, then it’s to church for Ash Wednesday penence, followed by a small treat before Lent seriously kicks in.

For myself, I get a little bit of chicory and toss it in 2-times the usual amount of ground coffee before drip brewing; and then I turn to my favorite recipe for beignets (this is as close to mine as I have found online, but you can short-cut it and buy the Café du Monde mix.) 

Use canola oil – it does not add a particular flavor to the beignets – and keep the stovetop heat at medium. The oil is hot enough to start frying when a pinch of flour sizzles when it hits the surface of the oil. Do NOT crowd the pan. If the beignets get too sizzly, lower the heat a bit.

And then I sit at my table and pretend it is early Tuesday morning in Jackson Square. . . before the crowds, before the noise. 

 

 

* We love you Zachary Richard

Breakfast is Love

“A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.”   – Sir Thomas Moore

I was looking at the paper – the food section – yesterday, and all the stores have ads for flowers and chocolate.  But who in their right mind would want to get flowers if they could have sweet, beautiful strawberries instead?  Who would want an anything-less-than-perfect chocolate truffle if they had the choice of a great Tuesday morning (Valentine’s Day) breakfast . . .   

 . . . things like baked thick-sliced bacon rubbed with cracked pepper and brown sugar (this is so easy you don’t need a recipe – but it saves a clean-up headache to line the pan with aluminum foil.)  After about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven, keep a close watch on it – the sugar will carmelize and then blacken in the blink of an eye.

 . . . things like Ecuador’s incredible blueberry juice – Colada Morada  the recipes for which vary from family to family.  Most contain blueberries, blackberries, and pineapple. Some add naranjilla juice, babaco (champagne fruit), strawberries, and even raisins.

 . . . things like the freshest Ciabatta Rolls from Pajama Baking Company on South Pearl Street – sliced, toasted lightly, buttered and coated with local honey.

  . . . things like a cup of robust coffee mellowed with a little steamed milk – that extra touch.

  . . . things like what we tested yesterday at the office – a seasonal riff on Far Breton:

FAR BRETON

A  far is a custardy cake, like a clafouti but with a smoother texture, like a flan.  You can try many fruits – pear and almond, cherry, even apple, but the brandy-soaked prunes and raisins are typical of Brittany, where they serve it for breakfast or dessert.  We tried it this week with blueberries.
 
INGREDIENTS
1 ¼  C whole milk
¾ C table cream
3-4 large eggs (depending on how custard-y you want it to be)
½ C sugar
5 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼  t vanilla extract
1/8  t salt
¾  C all purpose flour
 
1 C small pitted prunes (6 oz)
½  C water
1/3 C raisins
¼  CArmagnacor other brandy
 
… and Powdered sugar
 
DIRECTIONS
 
  1. Combine milk, eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt in blender jar. Blend 1 minute. Add flour and pulse just until blended, scraping down sides of jar. Cover and chill in jar at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. Combine prunes, ½ cup water, and raisins in heavy small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until fruit is softened and water is almost evaporated, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Pour brandy over fruit. Using long match, ignite brandy. Let flames burn off, shaking pan occasionally. Transfer fruit to small bowl. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
  3. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom with parchment. Butter paper. Dust with flour, shaking out excess; put on baking sheet.
  4. Distribute fruit evenly in bottom of pan.  Reblend batter until smooth, maybe 5 seconds.  Pour over fruit.
  5. Bake cake on baking sheet until sides are puffed and brown and a knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
Cool cake completely in pan on a rack.  Invert onto waxed paper; sift powdered sugar; remove pan; peel off parchment. Place serving plate over cake and invert again and dust top with more powdered sugar.

. . . and a kiss!

Super Snack

Chef  Jody Ray sent along the infamous Beer Cheese Dip JUST in time for Saturday and Sunday preparations*

  1. 8 oz cream cheese
  2. 1 pkg of dry Ranch dip mix
  3. 5 – 6 green onions, white and green (add more if you like onion)
  4. 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (add more if you like cheese)
  5. Beer – about 1/2 beer – or enough to make your dip spreadable; add slowly to check consistency  [we usually use Coors, Bud or any domestic beer in the fridge]
  6.  After mixing all ingredients together, refrigerate until cold. 

Serve with chips, crackers, veggies/crudités, etc.

          As a last step, as if Jody needed to remind us,

“Enjoy the dip and drink the rest of the beer.  Don’t you dare let it go to waste!”

*   WBC Middleweight Fight – Saturday February 4 at 8:00 pm Mountain Time on HBO;     Super Bowl – February 5 at 4:30 pm Mountain Time on NBC