Food & Drink

I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!

Food is NOT just fuel!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Breakfast Pizza

Pizza isn’t generally something you think of for breakfast – unless you’re in college and it’s still sitting in the box from the night before.  But a few years ago I started buying pizza dough at Whole Foods and we would make our own pizzas for dinner.  And then one day I thought I’d give a breakfast version a try.  We’ve done all kinds of toppings on our breakfast pizzas, including sausage, peppers, ham, and anything else you can think of.  I figured this was a perfect breakfast for the day after my birthday – fattening.

For this pizza, I cooked some bacon, sauteed some mushrooms and also some onions.  And we had a pile of cheese options.  For mine:  tomato sauce, grated parmesan cheese, mushrooms, onions, bacon, shredded mozzarella, 2 duck eggs, black pepper, small amount of grated Botarga.  Great way to start the day!!

Ice Cream Cake

Truth is, I’m not one for sweets (we’re not talking candy here – for some reason I could sit and eat candy all day – it’s things like cakes, donuts, desserts that don’t do it for me).  And yet, I think my husband was quite disappointed that I didn’t request a cake.  You see, he loves cake.  Wait, I think I’m understating that.  He LOOOOVES cake – and icing.  Lots of icing.  So after dinner last night, I actually had a small craving (but secretly I knew he had a big craving) for something sweet.  My first thought was ice cream.  We wandered out, and keith suggested Baskin Robbins.  Walked in the door and I was immediately drawn to the ice cream cakes.  Things like that always sound great in my head.  :)  Opted for a marble cake with praline ice cream & white frosting.  

One small slice for me - keith can have the rest.  After one bite I scraped off nearly all of my icing and piled it onto his plate - which he eagerly accepted.  I'm just not a dessert kind of guy...give me roasted garlic any day.  :)  But still, the cake was great and we have lots leftover in the freezer!

Birthday Dinner #1: Filet Mignon

Yesterday was my birthday, and since we decided that keith would make his famous brisket on Saturday (when we'd both be home all day), I opted for something rather decadent for my birthday evening meal.  We live up near the northern tip of Manhattan, and I work waaaaaay down off of Houston Street in the East Village.  Silly me figured - since I took the day off from work - I could just head back down to near my office, go to the gym and buy all the stuff for dinner down there.  It worked out fine - I got some laps in at the YMCA pool, and shopped for dinner.  But really, it's an hour commute one way on the subway.  Surely there was some other way I could have spent my birthday?  :)

Regardless, the filet was perfection.  I pulled out my trusty cast iron skillet - seasoned each filet with salt and a good amount of pepper - and seared them on each side.  I finished them in a hot hot hot oven for maybe 6 minutes.  They were so freakin' tender - food like that is orgasmic!

And what's sexier than steak and baked potatoes, you know?  So that was an easy side - plied with butter & sour cream.  And as a nice green addition, I grabbed some French Haricort Green Beans.  I sauteed them  with some garlic slices in olive oil - very simple, very clean and fresh.  A perfect and decadent birthday dinner!

Monday, April 25, 2011

keith's Skyline Chili & Chili Dog

A few years ago keith found a copycat recipe for Skyline Chili.  We both have always loved it and usually find time to get some when we’re back in Ohio.  However since he started making it, I no longer have the desire to try the original – I’m hooked on keith’s version.  This has become an Easter weekend tradition for our home – mostly because I demand that he make it at least once a year.  I told him last night that I could ask for it more than once a year, but the anticipation makes it all that much more delicious!

Last night’s dinner did not disappoint.  In fact, keith actually tweaked the recipe just a bit more and made it even better.  And I have no qualms with telling you that I had a hot dog (mustard, and piled with chili, onions & cheese) AND a plate of spaghetti (piled with chili, onions & cheese – at Skyline this would be called a “threeway”).  Satisfying and delicious!!!  And I rewarded him for this monumental effort – although you’ll have to use your imagination about how I rewarded him.  :)

keith’s Skyline Chili
2 lbs. ground beef
2 cups chopped onion
4 cups beef stock
2 cans tomato sauce (16 oz. total)
2-3 Tbl. chili powder
2 Tbl. + 1 Tbl. apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 oz. grated unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 bay leaft
2 dashes Tobasco sauce
1 pinch mace
½ Tbl. molasses
1 pinch dried mustard
Finely shredded cheddar cheese (keith used a mixture of cheddar & monteray jack)
Optional Topping:  chopped onion

In a large pot, add the broth, beef and 2 Tbl. vinegar, bring to a boil and let it boil for 15 minutes.  Add all the remaining ingredients (except for the cheese and optional toppings – and including the last Tbl. of vinegar), and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.  Stir frequently, and if the mixture becomes too thick, add small amounts of water periodically to keep it simmering.

Remove the bay leaf after 2 hours, and skim off any extra fat that is on top.  Serve over hot spaghetti, or hot dogs in buns.  Top with onions (optional) and plenty of cheese.  And when eating the spaghetti – the authentic way to eat this is with a knife & fork.  For god sake don’t twirl!!

VCR - in honor of the old Red Star Tavern (Nationwide Arena District, Columbus, Ohio)

This is my own version of what was my favorite martini at Red Star Tavern.  It's pretty close - and quite tasty!

VCR (makes 2)
4 oz. vodka
1-2 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. lime juice
Red Bull energy drink
Lime wedges

Combine the vodka, cranberry juice & lime juice in a shaker with ice.  Shake and pour into a martini glass.  Top the glass with Red Bull energy drink (don't stir), and squeeze in one wedge of lime.

Chicken Parmesan

This has been a comfort food dish for me for years.  Mark (my pre-keith) used to make it for me the night before I had to fly back to the cruise ship.  So I took the recipe and made it my own.  This is its current incarnation, and I still love it!  And this is another example of how I wasn’t thinking forward with food – this weekend we already had 2 frittatas back to back, and then I cooked Chicken Parmesan with pasta only to have keith make his famous Skyline Chili with pasta the next night.  Good thing I’m swimming laps during the weekdays!!

Chicken Parmesan
1 Italian pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Olive oil
3 Tbl. fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbl. fresh thyme
Red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes with the juice
Grated parmigiana reggiano cheese
Bread crumbs (panko is great)
2 eggs, beaten with a little water
2 chicken breasts
Fresh mozzarella (I used 4 small balls sliced in half)
1 lb. angel hair pasta
1 small can tomato sauce
2 Tbl. tomato paste

Start a big pot of water boiling for the pasta.  In a large pan, heat up some olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the Italian pepper, onions and garlic and a pinch of salt.  Let them cook for 5-7 minutes until they start to become tender.  Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hand as you put them into the pan.  Pour in the juice, the other can of tomato juice, more salt, the basil, thyme and some red pepper flakes (up to you for heat).  Bring this to a boil, then lower the heat and add the tomoato paste.  Let this slowly bubble and cook down for about 20 minutes.  Stir often to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pan – the sauce should thicken up nicely.

While this is cooking, heat up some olive oil in another pan.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Dredge the chicken breasts in flour, then in the eggs, then in a mixture of grated parmigiana cheese (1/2 cup) and bread crumbs (1/2 cup).  Place in the hot pan, and cook for 4-6 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Place browned chicken breasts in the oven – cook for 15 – 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  After about 8-10 minutes, place the mozzarella on top of the chicken to allow it to melt.

Pile cooked pasta on your plate and top generously with sauce.  Place finished chicken breast on top, and sprinkle with parmigiana cheese and more red pepper flakes (optional).

Pomegranate & Orange Margarita

I was feeling the siren call of Tequila.  So I made a big pitcher of a newly made-up margarita to celebrate the fact that it was Saturday.  J

Pomegranate & Orange Margarita
2 cups Tequila (remember, this is in PITCHER quantities)
½ cup Orange Juice
½ cup Triple Sec
2 cups Pomegranate juice
½ cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)
¾ cup simple syrup
½ cup Cranberry juice
Orange slices

Combine everything but orange slices in a pitcher and stir to combine.  Pour over ice, and garnish with a slice of orange.

A Tale of Two Frittatas

Matt invited us over Friday night for dinner.  This was the furthest into Queens either of us have ever traveled before.  Isn’t that funny?  The directions lead us on a 10 minute walk from the subway (turn left at the Bear with One Eye…if you reach the Burning Man you’ve gone too far), and we were greeted by the smell of a homemade frittata awaiting our arrival.  Hash browns, peppers, sausage & bacon – yep, delicious.  Followed by shortcake with fresh berries – and everything was lubricated with vodka Seabreezes.  Sigh…lovely Friday evening.  Thank you Matt!  And here’s the fluffy frittata before we carved it up.

But then on the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about frittatas.  So the next morning as I was shopping at the farmers market in the rain, I concocted my own frittata in my head.  Yes, we had a frittata for dinner and then a frittata for breakfast.  So what.  J  But I was intrigued by the “hash brown encrusted” idea, so decided to take my own stab at it.  Turned out great – and it was fun to build this frittata.  I took a very different approach than Matt – I used my hash browns as a literal crust, giving the frittata a crunchy base.  Quite tasty – and I didn’t mind having back-to-back frittatas at all!!

Chris’ Hash-Brown Encrusted Frittata
2 large Russet potatoes
1 large sweet onion (1/2 for shredding, ½ sliced)
1 ½ cup chopped Shitake mushrooms
4 pieces thick-cut bacon, fried
Olive oil
6 eggs, beaten with 1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

I used a food processor to shred the 2 potatoes and ½ of the onion.  Heat some olive oil in a non-stick pan, and spread the potato/onion mixture out evenly.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper, and allow to cook over medium heat until the potatoes brown completely on the bottom.  Once browned, use a plate (or another pan, or some other flat surface) to help you flip the potato mixture over all in one move – you want it to stay together so that it forms a crust.  I put a plate over the pan and inverted everything so that the potatoes plopped down onto the plate in one motion.  Then I slid the potatoes back into the pan to cook the other side. 

At the same time, cook the bacon and then once done chop into ½ pieces..  And in another pan, heat up some olive oil and cook the onions for 2-3 minutes (with a sprinkle of salt), and then add the sliced mushrooms.  Cook for about 6 minutes, until the onions are tender.  Set aside.

Once the potatoes begin to brown on the second side, it’s time to build the frittata.  Spread the onions & mushrooms out evenly over the potatoes, then do the same with the bacon.  Finally, pour the beaten egg mixture over top of everything and then evenly distribute ½ of the cheese.  Cook on the stove for 3-5 minutes until the sides of the eggs begin to cook through.  Then put the entire pan under the broiler for 5-7 minutes or until the egg in the center is cooked through.  Remove from the broiler and spread on the remainder of the cheese.  Slice and serve.