Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Humboldt Co California delicacy?

12 Large banana slugs
white vinegar

Drop the banana slugs into a container of white vinegar for about one hour. This both kills them and congeals their slime. Use plenty of running water to rinse the slime and vinegar off their bodies.  Gut and clean them as you would a fish.  Then using your thumbnail, pop out the small hidden shell from the head area. The shell will be about the thickness of  a fingernail and about the size of a dime.

Cut the slugs into bite sized or smaller pieces and sauté' in butter.  Serve over rice. They would go well in sushi.

Alex Johnson, an HSU alumnus, shared this recipe and meal with Don Butler in 1973. Alex had happened on the recipe in the HSU library. Don's understanding from Alex was that the recipe was used by the early settlers of Humboldt County.

There you go, a little local history, and way to dispose of those pesty, slimy, critters.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Homemade New York Cheesecake.

I promised my daughters I'd make them a cheesecake this weekend.  I actually owe them one, which I won't get into, but the cheesecake they almost had before and didn't get, is no where near as good as this one, so they ended up with a better deal anyway.

My mother in law gave me this recipe.  She told me she got it from an elderly Jewish lady in New York, so, to me, it's officially New York Cheesecake.  The orginial recipe called for Zwieback toasts (teething toasts for babies, of all things) for the crust, instead of graham crackers.  Zwieback crust is much better then graham cracker crust by far, there's something more sophisticated about the texture, and the flavor doesn't step on the taste of the cheescake itself.  Unfortunately, Nabisco no longer makes Zwieback toast. 

So what the hell was I going to do.  I was not about to lower myself to a graham cracker crust.  This recipe is too good for that. So while I was still half asleep wondering how I was going to make my crust my husband found this recipe:

1 whole package of Gourmet Center Biscoff Crisp European Cookies
3/4 package of Nabisco Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies.
(this will work for a 10" springform pan)
Grind them up in a food processor with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 tsp cinammon.  And 1 1/3 stick of melted butter and pulse until all ingredients are mixed.  Spray the pan with cooking spray and press teh crumb mixture to cover the bottom and sides of the pan.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes. 

Now that that problem was solved, on to making the cheesecake. 

1 prepared Biscoff/Lorna Doone crust
2 1/2 lbs (5 8 oz bars) cream cheese - softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 tbs flour
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
5 whole eggs & 2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream

Blend all ingredients except the cream in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer.  Add the 5 whole egs and 2 egg yolks one at a time, beating lightly after each addition.  Fold in the 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  Fill the prepared pan with the cheese filling and bake in a very hot oven (550 degrees - note turns out this was too hot in my current oven, 500 would have been better) for 12 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to very low (225 degrees) and continue baking for 1 hour.  Cool cheese cake before cutting.

And Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Bean and Cheese Burrito

The creamy beans,
The gooey cheese,
And the crispy tortilla holds it together,
When I see one I say, "Please!"
The beauty of a bean and cheese burrito

By Cordie

Sunday, April 11, 2010

La Trattoria

Last night we tried a new (to us) restaurant for dinner.  They've been open since November of 2001 and the restaurant is owned by a husband and wife team.  They serve Italian cuisine, mostly Northern Italian in the winter months, more Southern in the summer.  The name of this quaint little restaurant is La Trattoria which means "the cafe" in Italian.  You won't find your typical Americanized, over cheesed Italian food here.  It's more like something you would get if you visited an Italian family and mamma from the old country cooked for you.  They use mostly local and organic foods, serve vegetarian and omnivore alike and have a nice wine list.  The menu changes daily, so you'll never know for sure what your choices will be for that night.  They're small and busy, so make reservations.  (707-822-6101)

Last night this was there menu:
We started with the marinated vegetables, lentil salad, pecarino and salami.  The vegetables were mostly rutabagas, and carrots and they were subtly marinated.  I usually don't care for rutabagas, but these were quite good.  The lentil salad was extrememely simple, a mild sauce and mellow herbs.  The cheese was excellent and the salami locally made and delicious.  We also ordered a bottle of Il Montaggio from our local Fieldbrook Winery

A small house salad that comes with the main course was served next.  A blend of various local and very fresh greens with a mild vinaigrette.

For the main course John ordered the braised pork shoulder in white wine and onions served with scalloped rutagabas and potatoes and barley.  The sauce was so mild that the flavor of the pork stood out on it's own, tender and delcious.  The barley was simply barley, cooked probably, in their own vegetable stock, and was perfectly done.  As I mentioned before I'm not a big rutabaga fan, but the scalloped rutabagas and potatoes were incredible.  John was having what I call a Ratatouille moment. That moment in the movie where the food critic, Antono Ego, is taken back to his childhood with the first bite of his dish or ratatouille.  John felt like he was home having a childhood Sunday dinner.  It was over the top comfort food.
I ordered the potato, leek, and caper ravioli's (they make their own pasta) topped with spinach, fava beans and pecarino cheese (lots of it!) with a basalmic browned butter.
The pasta was perfectly made and cooked.  Like savory little pillows on your tongue.  A perfect blend of the mild soft potato and leek contrasted by the capers.  The spinach was not over done, a brilliant green, and the fava beans were buttery.  The ravioli's didn't have much salt on them, but the pecarino cheese had the perfect amount of saltiness that none was needed, and was an excellent contrast the the basalmic browned butter.  Just enough basalmic to have the flavor, but not be sour.  Heavenly. 
We were too full after dinner to have a big dessert, so we ordered a couple glasses of port.  Benjamin Port, which was served with two small pieces of good chocolate. 

The service was excellent, considering the number of people and that the husband (James Becker) was the only waiter on duty, besides two bus boys, while his wife (Patricial Cambiancica) cooked in back.  There was minimal wait time and the tables were turned quickly but without being rushed.  The prices were reasonable for such good food as well, and I cannot wait to go back and see what they have on their menu the next time.  I highly recommend this restaurant.  It's relaxed, casual, the food is of very high quality, but not pretentious, nor are the owners.  Be sure to check them out.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cafe Tomo

A couple of weekends ago we decided to have some sushi.  We ended up in Arcata at a pretty good little sushi restaurant called Cafe Tomo.  I still think Kyoto's in Eureka is better, but Tomo's is a definite close second.  You can find them just off the Plaza in Arcata in the Hotel Arcata.  707-822-4100.
Here's a small sample of what we had. 
Pretty huh?  Flying fish roe with raw quail eggs.  Very yummy!

Follow up Bruschetta/Tapenade pics

Dinner the night before Easater.  Simple and yummy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kim's Olive Tapenade

The night before Easter we weren't up for cooking a big dinner and didn't want to eat too much knowing we'd be feasting pretty heavy the next day.  John suggested bruschetta, which sounded great and made me think it would be fun to make a homemade olive tapenade.  This is what I came up with and it was delicious!

Kim's Olive Tapenade
20 kalamata olives
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp fresh basil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oi or more as needed
1 tbsp dry sherry
pinch of salt
1 tsp dizon mustard
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1/2 juiced lemon
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredeints together in a food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed.  Great for topping crackers,  baguettes, and of course bruschetta.