Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Carter House Gardens

My favorite Restaurant in Humboldt, and one of my top three favorite restaurants I have ever been to is  Restaurant 301 at Carter House.  It's expensive, but not over priced.  The ambiance of their restaurant is upscale, but cozy and comfortable and the service is over the top professional, yet friendly and comfortable.  Never pretentious.  To top that off, I really love their "garden to table" philosophy.  They don't just talk the talk at Restaurant 301, they walk the walk.  Twenty seven years ago they started an edible flower and herb garden for their restaurant. What ever they don't grow themselves they do their best to find locally, and use the local supply of food as their inspiration in the kitchen.  They supply the restaurant from local farmer's markets, farms, and ranches, and use that to create both an amazing al a carte menu and an even more amazing discovery menu which is 2 special multi course meals, with each course being paired specially with a different wine.

Today on my walk to the library I got a little distracted by the local Victorian's and was happy to find myself standing outside the very Carter Gardens that help supply those menus - the one started 27 years ago to raise edible flowers and herbs.  I snooped around three sides of the garden until someone walked up to me and said, "they don't mind if you go on in the garden and walk around.  Just don't take anything. "  I hope that didn't mean, don't take any pictures, because I couldn't help myself.
I could have spent the whole day here, and I'm wondering if they would mind if I came back with a book on my next lunch hour and sit on the bench in front of the lavender bushes and read for a while.  I'll just have to try.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cardamom/Pistachio Cake with Lime Syrup

My wonderful boss (no I'm not being sarcastic) is leaving us for bigger and brighter opportunities.  I hate to see her go, but I'm happy for her, and she was an a great excuse for a potluck.  It doesn't take much to come up with an excuse for a potluck where I work.  We're all  food obsessed people.  Not a bad thing in my opinion, even though I'm sure there is some freak out there ready to create a syndrome around it.  Anyway....
One of my co-workers showed up to the potluck with this amazing cake.  Cardamom and Pistachio Cake with Lime Syrup.  (One of several wonderful dishes - I'm still waiting for the corn salad and homemade mac and cheese recipes) I will say though, that Michelle's cake was the most unique and delicious dish there.  I haven't had a chance to make it yet, but I plan to.  She was kind enough to share the recipe and here it is for you to try.

1 cup pistachio meat (or pecans)
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 cup sugar (3/4 cup for cake, 3/4 cup for sauce)
1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
11 tbsp butter, softened
3 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 large lime ( or two small ones)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease round cake pan and line bottom with wax paper.  Grind pistachios and cardamom in food processor.  Stir in 34 cup sugar and all of flour.  Mix in butter in crumbly.  In separate bowl, mix eggs and yogurt.  Stir into batter.  Pour into cake pan and spread out with spoon (batter is thick) Bake for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert and allow to cool on a rack.

Zest limes and set zest aside.  Sqeeze limes and add enough water to make 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp total liquid.  Add 3/4 cups sugar.  Heat over medium heat until boiling.  Add lime zest and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Strain out lime zest and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Syrup will be slightly thickened.

Poke holes in top of cake witha skewer.  Pour syrup over cake and allow it to soak up.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Defeated Chicken

In my journey of divorce I'm discovering little treasures here and there.  Tonight, it was  my "week on week off" roomie's Philippine Cookbook by Reynaldo Alejandro that I discovered.  Sitting in my little room by myself contemplating my world I noticed this cookbook.  I wasn't expecting such a book among the engineering, science and Asian travel books, but there it was. I was so excited.  I pulled it out and perused it.  Lots of different lumpia recipes and things like fried pigeon, fried pig knuckles and ox tongue pie.  But the one recipe that really caught my eye was Talunang Manok or Defeated Chicken.  I had to laugh.  What kind of recipe is called defeated chicken?  I mean, really.  All chicken recipes would ultimately be a defeated chicken recipe wouldn't it?  They're defeated and in my stew pot and soon to fill my tummy right?  Well, it has a whole different meaning in the Philippine culture. 

Here is what I learned. 

The national sport of the Philippine's is cockfighting.  Not a pretty sport, not something I condone, but it's their culture and it's not my place to judge that, and the history of it and how this particular meal came about.  The cocks who have lost their last fight are called talumnan.  They were bred for cockfighting, not eating, so these roosters are tough little buggers. So, not being people to waste an animal, and I have to respect them for doing this, they created a special recipe to make them tender enough to eat, The Defeated Chicken.

This can be done with a regular stewing chicken - so don't worry about finding a worn out fighting cock.

2 cups salted black beans (these can be found in a Asian specialty market)
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 4 to 5 lb stewing fowl, cut into serving pices
2 lbs pigs' feet (can be found in Asian or Mexican markets)
4 cups water
3 garlic heads, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp oregano
1 small piece star anise
1 cinnamon stick

Mash beans with vinegar and brown sugar an place, with the chicken, pigs' feet and water, ina large pot.  Boil until chicken and pigs' feet are tender ( a pressure cooker may be used).  Add garlic and spices to stock.  Simmer until thick.

Serves 4- 6

There you have it - one defeated chicken. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Surfside Burger Shack

I noticed this place about a month ago and have been itching to stop in and check them out.  Every local review I've read has been very positive, and they serve only grass fed local Humboldt County beef, a half pound of beef at that. 

I finally got my chance to stop in today, and I'm not sure what possessed me, but I didn't order their 1/2 lb burger.  Instead I ordered the salmon burger.  I don't normally care for salmon burgers, so I'm not sure why I went that route, but I'm very glad I did.  It was made with wild pacific salmon and had all the fixin's on it that a regular burger would have, plus I had them add avocado for a extra dollar.  It was DELICIOUS!  And their fries were fantastic.  I never eat more then three or four fries when I order a burger.  I devoured two thirds of them - way beyond my stomach's capacity!

The restaurant is small and filled with pictures of surfers and bikers, mostly local.  There is a pinball machine as well.  The menu isn't extensive.  It's simple like the restaurant.  Their focus in on good quality ingredients.  You can order several size burgers, from 1 to 4 patties.  They're basic burgers, but you can choose from several extra toppings to specialize your burger.  They also have hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, salmon burgers, turkey burgers, and veggie burgers.  There are BLT's and I think maybe some sub sandwiches.  They have some salads - at least one on the special today (avocado salad) and several sides.  They do a chicken nugget basket and have a kids menu.  They serve local micro brews, Corona, Pacifica and Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys.  They have several types of soda and bottled water.  Prices range from from $6 to $9 and you get enough food to justify the price.  The Surfside Burger Shack is family owned - Chad Smith is the owner, and you can find them at 445 5th street in Eureka CA.  They do have take out menus and you can call them at 707-268-1295. 

And if you're really hungry and up for a challenge, every weekend they have the Tsunami Eating Challenge.  It's a quad burger with all the regular toppings plus 4 extra toppings.  I think you have to eat the fries too - a combo item.  You have 1 hour to finish.  Their regular burgers are huge, so it would take a big hunger to get a quad down in my opinion.  If you finish in an hour, the meal is free, you get your picture on the wall and a free t-shirt.  So if you're real hungry - I dare you to try - double dog dare you! 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mmmmm Bruschetta

I have too many tomatoes in my roommate's fridge this week.  I decided a good way to use some up would be to make some bruschetta.  Not only did it seem like a good way to use a bunch of them up,  it just sounded so good.  I didn't have any basil on hand, and the store was out, so I got creative and bought a jar of pre-made pesto and made the best of it.  I chopped 1 and a half tomatoes, 1/4 cup red onion, tossed in two tablespoons of the pesto, added 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.  I stirred it altogether, spread olive oil on slices of baguette, and some of the pesto on some and toasted them in the oven.  Straight out of the oven I topped the baguette toasts with the bruschetta.  YUM!  I went with another craving I was having and topped the bruschetta with an anchovy filet.  The saltiness was a great contrast with the sweetness of the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. 

I think this will be all the dinner I need for tonight.  Mmmmm.

Saturday, July 3, 2010