~ Totally Undeserving of the James Beard Award

~ Completely Undeserving of the James Beard Award ~

Monday, July 18, 2011

...and the answer is...

as I said, the new version is slightly changed:

(and only one right answer)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Remain seated please; Permaneced sentados por favor

This post is a bit of a departure for me, as I am not blogging specifically about anything I have cooked, but rather a combination of two subjects I like…one is still cooking and the other is Disneyland.  And please see the quiz to the right -->

Growing up in So Cal, my family often visited Uncle Walt’s little backyard playground many times a year. Sometimes my brothers and I were fooled by our parents...”get in the car, were going to drive aimlessly around for hours on end looking at houses”. At least that’s what I heard, I am not sure if that is what they said. But on rare occasions…because if they did it too many times we wouldn’t get tricked…they would say those words, we pile in the Ford LTD and off we go. What seemed like weeks of driving non-stop, we would get near the Magic Kingdom, maybe my brothers weren’t fooled as easily as I...someone would blurt out: “I see the Matterhorn!”  Those many visits combined with a few trips with my high school marching and jazz band to play and march inside the park and my stint in the summer of 1980 as a dishwasher at the now (and sadly) defunct Tahitian Terrace make it an extra special place.
Nice Prices!

I am sure there are people who could care less about food at Disneyland, some who eat their way though the park and some are in between. I am the latter. For me there are a few places that are in my mind, unique experiences or opportunities. My big bro and sis would probably vote for Club 33 as their most memorable spot, but you have to know some who knows someone to get in, but here are a bunch of pictures in case you were wondering whats inside.

Right off the bat, it would have to be the Blue Bayou Restaurant in New Orleans Square as my hands down winner for most memorable spot to grab some grub at the park. The cool atmosphere…out of the heat in a sit down restaurant being waited on. Monte Cristo.  Those two words bring salvation, salivation and a salutation to the chef. Crunchy, cheesy…just don’t eat too many unless you are a quart low on oil. They are also offered across the “street” from the Blue Bayou at Café Orleans, a bit cheaper at $17 versus $25 at B.B. but you won’t get the atmosphere. Someone has to pay for the fire-fly’s wages! A monte cristo is pain to make, I have tried a couple of times but here’s the recipe.

Next on my list would have to be a churro. Basically a long donut rolled in cinnamon and sugar. You can find them other places, even Costco but why take the fun out of someplace special?

A lot of people are crazy for the Dole pineapple whip served up at the Tiki Juice Bar, next door to the Enchanted Tiki Room entrance (left side of the picture under the Adventureland sign), to be honest I have never had one but a lot of people sure like them.

Another spot I like is the Bengal Barbecue also in Adventureland. They sell a few items at this grab and go place, most notably a few skewers, cheap and different.

What I don't recommend and luckily you won't be able to do this anymore, is to drink an entire serving of Welch's grape juice and immediately ride the Tea Cups with your high school buddies, spinning somewhere around 12,000 RPM, but the Fantasyland juice stand closed in 1981, however you can still flirt with danger with some other treat and the Tea Cups!

Who hasn’t made Mickey Mouse pancakes? Who has had them at Disneyland? On road trip a few years back we went to Disneyland for 3 days and were able to slow down and enjoy many things it’s hard to do in a one-day-er. We got up, got to the park and went straight to…no, not Indy…no not Big Thunder, but to the River Belle Terrace in Frontierland for pancakes!...looking out over the Rivers of America as the Mark Twain chugs by.

Many times we would grab lunch at the Hungry Bear in Critter Country. Nothing special about the menu, just typical burgers and chicken, but the reason we like it is it's next to the river, it's quite-er, out of the way at the end of the road so to speak and we have always been able to find a table. 

Well, those are my top choices!...and remember to...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bonjour! Bienvenue!... s'il vous plaît venez dans notre bistrot, s'il vous plaît avoir un siege...

...Notre soir spécial est moules dans une sauce à la crème de safran, frites et un petit morceau de saumon au pesto avec l'ail germent.

Oh, umm… désolé, vous ne parlez pas français?

Ok, permettez-moi de traduire.  Our special tonight is mussels in a saffron cream sauce with a side of fries.  That is also served with a small serving of Copper River King Salmon with a garlic scapes pesto.

Mussels served with “French Fries” are very common in France and the crunchy, salty fries pairs well with the soft, savory mussels.

I can not take credit for the mussel recipe, it came from a cookbook which I picked up at a book-signing event at the Palace Ballroom hosted by Tom Douglas.  At the event, various local chefs sell their books, sign them and offer appetizers.  One I picked up was Thierry Rautureau’s cookbook “Rovers” from the restaurant of the same name. He offered a delectable slow braised pork belly (basically uncured, uncut bacon) with some type of wonderful sauce...and he's a nice guy!
I bet a lot of you, like me have thrown mussels in a pot, steam them in wine with garlic and red pepper flakes…maybe pour the whole thing over noodles, and it’s quite good. In Seattle, we are lucky to be able to get wonderful Penn Cove mussels from Whidbey Island quite easily.  Going into it, I thought this recipe would be very similar... Je me suis trompé!  This was amazing! Aromatic, silky, packed with layers of flavor. Well worth the effort.

I decided if I were going to the trouble of this recipe, I would make homemade fries…pomme frites.  The key in making crunchy, perfectly cooked fries is double cooking them. I have a fryer that I am able to set the temperature so no need for a thermometer.  Cut the fries to the desired size and soak them in cold water while you go on to do other things, such as setting up your “mise en place”  [miz ɑ̃ plas], or putting in place or everything in it’s place. I find it well worth the effort to pre-prepare your recipes. Most times you will need measured ingredients immediately. You don’t want your sauce boiling over while you are pawing through your spice rack for Herbes de Provence or whatever.  Slice, dice, mince, chop, measure and find all of your ingredients first before doing anything else…other than sampling the wine of course! By using this method all you need to focus on is your assembly.

So, back to the fries, after soaking, drain and pat as dry as you can. Your fryer should be ready at 325 F, your tongs and or bamboo strainer and a paper towel lined sheet pan are also at the ready. Be sure to have on hand whatever you will spice them up with, mine I went with sea salt, coarse ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary. Toss in a handful of your julienned potatoes, just enough so they are all submerged in the hot oil. Cook until they are blond in color, just soft. Mine usually take about 7 minutes, removed and drain on the paper towels, repeat to finish round one. Crank the fryer up to 365-375, cook until your desired color is achieved, again mine is another 7 minutes. Remove and place them in a large bowl and immediately toss with your spices (which are ready!, remember kids? mise en place?) so they will stick to the hot oil. The first round cooks the interior and the second on higher heat cooks and crisps up the outside. Time these well as I find keeping them warm in an over doesn’t work well.

So now the mussels…oh, the mussels!  Saffron, Pernod, butter (of course, it's French!), shallots, garlic, fresh herbs, crème fraiche (fancy sour cream)…all burbling and steaming away together, waiting for those mussels to open their "mouths" to drink in the sauce and for their liquor to ooze out and mingle with the sauce.

I spotted some garlic scapes at the Sunday farmers market and picked up a bunch. Garlic scapes are the green tops of elephant garlic. There are many uses for them and when putting together the nights menu, I figured I could whip up some sort of pesto using them and I did.  I grilled/smoked some small portions of Copper River King on the Traeger using apple pellets, smeared some pesto on a plate and topped it with the salmon.


Music to Cook By:  Cafe de Paris, various French pop artists. How can you cook French food without listening to Edith Piaf's "La vie en Rose"?...Des yeux qui font baisser les miens...Un rir' qui se perd sur sa bouch'...Voila le portrait, sans retouch'...De I'homme auquel j'appartiens...

I haven't made it to France (yet!), but tonight I pretended I was there...