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!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Red Lobster...come on, really?

My family wanted us all to get together at a premiere dining location in central Ohio - Red Lobster (in the middle of the failing strip of restaurants on Dublin-Granville Road). I don't know what to say - I always made fun of the tourists in Times Square who marveled at the Red Lobster shrieking "it's just like at home!" The best I can say is that the crab legs were actually quite good - and while it pains me to admit it, the ones at Whole Foods are previously frozen as well. So not much difference. But I avoided the salty butter sauce like the plague, knowing it would do unspeakable damage to my insides should it make it to my stomach. So while the shrimp was okay, if second rate, and the lobster was rubbery, I did enjoy the crab legs. Oh...and the vodka soda was just lovely. :)

Day two of our journey west...yet another chain restaurant. Heaven help us...see us out of Ohio quickly, please. :) Although day three is looking up, we're having Massey's pizza for dinner. And while that is in NO way good for me, it's damn delicious and something I look forward to every time I'm back in town!


We finished packing up our things early Monday morning in anticipation of the movers arriving around noon. It was a hectic day full of last minute issues - the local Time Warner location was closed, so I had to travel down to the UWS to turn in our DVR; our bank didn't allow the moving company to debit the full cost of our move until I approved it; the rental car was late; blah, blah, blah. So we finally headed out, leaving our apartment and New York City behind. After about an hour and a half we realized that we hadn't eaten much of anything during the day, and we had another 8 hours of travel ahead of us. So out of desperation, we pulled off somewhere in Pennsylvania, and the only place that looked promising enough for a meal was the restaurant chain Chili's (serious desperation here, folks).

I figured I could get SOMETHING fresh and delicious. Wow, was I wrong. The chips and queso (not my first choice) - chips were greasy and coated in salt. the Queso was not fact I don't think there was cheese in it at all. Instead it was a brown glob of hamburger meat and salt-riddled sauce. My chicken tacos arrived, and lo and behold the chicken was salty! But worse, the two side dishes (simple rice and beans) were so salty I couldn't even eat them.

So day 1 of our journey west consisted of salt, salt and more salt. When did this become a trend? Or has it been a trend and I just haven't noticed? I mean, for the last decade I've eaten organic and fresh and I've steered clear of restaurant chains (especially fast food chains), so maybe this is normal now. Do people think that salt = flavor? Why? And how can I convince them otherwise??

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Going Away Cake

My coworkers brought out this cake yesterday as a little Congratulations-On-Your-Master's-Degree-and-Good-Luck-With-Your-Move-and-We're-Going-To-Miss-You celebration. Exactly my type of cake - fresh fruit, a light & fluffy (and not too sweet) frosting, and white cake. It also just happened to be from one of my favorite bakeries in the city: Venieros.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Yesterday was particularly taxing for a number of reasons. And throw on top of the daily stress the fact that we're down to essentials at home. Boxes are piled, everything but the basest of necessities is secured and ready for moving. So when I realized we had a full bottle of rum, off I ran to the store for some fresh mint, limes and Club Soda. And this photo is a true representation of our life in limbo, as it is this week. All the glassware we want to keep is packed away, so we're using the rejects that will be tossed out when we move. And there's limited space in the kitchen, so the one working space is crowded with the stuff we'll use this week. But alas, I will not be deterred when I have my mind set on a cocktail. :) And despite the boxes, the humidity, and the stress of the day, the cocktail was delicious (and so was the company of my husband).

4 - 5 fresh lime leaves
1 oz. fresh lime juice
2 oz. white rum
1 tsp. + 1 dash sugar
Club Soda

Note: I doubled this recipe to make 2 drinks in one shaker. Add the lime, mint and sugar to the shaker. At this point I would use a muddler to combine the flavors - but mine was packed. Instead I added 2 ice cubes and shook it vigorously to combine & crush the mint. Add the rum and shake. Strain into a glass of your choice (already filled with ice), and top the rest of the glass with soda. Stir lightly, add one or two more mint leaves to the glass, and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Question from a reader: Whole Fish

Do you have any ideas on how to cook a whole fish and what kind works good? Thanks , sir.

Great question, thanks for asking. There are a number of ways to cook a whole fish. I'll tell you a couple of my favorites:

  • Stuffed & grilled (or baked) - I often do this with trout. Make sure the fish is gutted and scaled, and the cavity is open and clean (head on or off, that's up to you). Sprinkle in some salt & pepper, and then stuff the cavity with aromatics. I often use lemon slices and whole rosemary sprigs. Sprinkle a baking sheet with a good amount of coarse salt and place the fish onto the sheet (the salt will keep the skin of the fish from sticking) - sprinkle the top with salt & pepper and bake at 350 degrees for MAYBE 15 minutes - trout cooks VERY fast. If you're grilling (my favorite way to cook this) you need a fish basket. Stuff the trout as suggested, coat the basket in a touch of oil and secure the fish inside. I would turn it halfway through cooking over the fire. If the skin was properly scaled, it's delicious to eat - especially in the grilled version (it often gets crispy).
  • Baked in salt – this works well for whole fish and for whole chicken. I would still stuff the cavity with some aromatics. Then layer some lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the fish on top of the lemon, and then pour 3 – 5 pounds of salt over top (depends on the size of the fish). If you mix a little water with the salt before pouring it over, it sticks together a little better. Press the salt together and completely seal the fish inside. Baking depends on the fish (size, etc.) so I would look up the best baking time for whatever fish you’re using. When done, you crack open the salt shell and remove the fish. And as much as you might think the fish is salty – it isn’t.
  • This is kind of a cheat, but I wanted to mention it. It’s not for a whole fish – but if you take one huge filet of a large fish (such as a Salmon), this is my favorite way to cook it. Sprinkle some coarse salt on a shallow baking dish and lay the salmon on top. Sprinkle some salt, pepper & olive oil over the flesh of the fish. Chop up some capers and dill, and rub that into the fish all over. Place under the broiler until the center of the salmon is cooked to perfection.
Hope this helps! Happy eating!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summertime Breakfast

This is one of my favorite breakfasts on a warm morning. And it gave me some great energy for a day spend packing. Fill the bottom of the bowl with a good portion of greek yogurt (you can use a vanilla yogurt if you like it sweeter), and then pour over a generous amount of honey. Pile on some granola (I used a honey, raisin & almond granola mix), and top with fresh fruit - strawberries & blueberries for me this morning. You can drizzle over a little more honey if you like, but it wasn't necessary for me. GREAT breakfast!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Duck Prosciutto

Today was one of the last times I'll be visiting the Inwood farmers market! I got the normal - a huge bag of apples for keith to last the week; some pumpkin bread for breakfast; some nice mint & greens for mojitos & salad later. And I stopped by the Turkey Farm booth in the hopes of finding some turkey legs to roast for dinner. Alas, no drumsticks today. So I moseyed on over to the Duck Farm booth - always a great place to stop. I went with Lola duck breasts for dinner tonight. And as I was waiting for her to get the breasts, I read that they carry duck prosciutto. Intrigued, I asked to see it. Instantly, I fell head over heels in love. Dried, cured & seasoned, complete with the thick layer of fat still attached, this breast was gorgeous - it even still had the string attached from which it was hung to dry. I bought it and rushed up to the apartment knowing that even before I put together breakfast I would be slicing off a piece of that breast to sample. It did NOT disappoint - ducky, gamey, chewy and outstandingly delicious! And now that we've achieved our packing goal today, I can't wait to slice some of the duck prosciutto up (along with some pieces of the fresh OctoberFast cheese from the Dairy Farm booth at the farmers market) as an afternoon snack - after the bubble bath with my husband, of course.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pink Lady Apples

I have one week left at my current job, and it's more than hectic. Aside from my normal day-to-day routine and duties, I'm also heavily involved in the process of finding my own replacement. So amid the normal stress and the beginning of second-round interviews today, this was my lunch. Delicious. Not nearly as filling or satisfying as I'd like. But still, Pink Lady Apples are great!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Perfect Steak

I love a good steak. I'm sure I've said that before. Last night I felt the urge for a big, seared piece of meat. And when I cook a steak at home, I almost always go for a huge, bone-in (sometimes dry-aged) ribeye. At $18.99 per pound it's not the cheapest cut, but it's damn delicious. And if cooked right, it is so tender and luscious.

I also usually love my steak unadorned - for the most part. I pulled them out of the fridge and let them sit for 1/2 hour before cooking. My steaks were about 2 inches thick. I sprinkled the tops with a good amount of salt, and then a really good amount of fresh cracked pepper. If you have a cast iron skillet, it is seriously the best way to sear a steak. No oil or fat of any kind, just get it really, really hot. Nearly a full flame. As the skillet is heating up, turn on the stove up to 450 degrees. Crazy hot, but exactly what you need. Place the steaks into the hot skillet (salt & pepper down) and leave them there for 6 minutes. Do not move them! Add the salt & pepper to the other side. After 6 minutes, turn them over. 6 more minutes on this side. Then the entire skillet goes into the oven. After 3 minutes, turn them over and let them cook for another 3 minutes. Pull them out of the oven and out of the skillet immediately to rest for 5 - 10 minutes.

While the steaks were cooking I sauteed some gorgeous sliced mushrooms with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a splash of Balsamic Vinegar. And as a side, I steamed some baby carrots. Perfectly satisfying, if I do say so myself. And I think I could give any good steak house a run for their money!

It helps me with my packing

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Two weeks - I should be ashamed of myself that I haven't updated this blog in two weeks. Things have been insanely hectic with the end of school, work and the pending move in 1 1/2 weeks. So I've allowed my blog to be pushed back on my priority list (not to mention I've been cooking less as well). However the other night I made dinner and my loving husband snapped one photo of my prep work - and he just emailed it to me, encouraging me to post it. He's so good - keeping me on my toes! So I'm going to be better - and I do plan on updating the blog with food as we travel across the country!

So the other night I had a craving for a hamburger. Diner-esque, simple, and tasty. The meat was pressed thin, and dusted with salt & pepper - that's it. White bread, onion, tomato, iceberg lettuce, ketchup & mayo. Very soul-filling.

And no pic of the finished product, but here's my workspace! There's a hunk of cheddar cheese, slices of onion and a tomato - those are all toppings. On the other side of my gorgeous wood block is a carrot, 1/2 a sweet onion, 2 radishes, and a small bulb of fennel - these were all shredded into a slaw, and I added some rice wine vinegar, salt & pepper. The chopped onions went into the pan-fried potatoes that were served as well.

So there you go - and now I will be diligent!! :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


We took a trip to the Museum of Sex here in NYC over the weekend. Fun museum (as you can imagine) - even funner gift shop! However this time (yes, we've been more than once) the museum had their cafe open. It's called OralFix and is in the basement of the museum. Fantastic space - dark, inviting, sexy - perfect for MoSex. The menu consisted of some pretty amazing cocktails, all based around the sexual enhancing properties of certain ingredients (for instance Violet for Passion; Basil Dust for Lust; Saffron for Pleasure). We sampled cocktails for Charm, Fertility, Passion, and Long-Lasting Energy.

Saturday Frittata

I love having eggs on the weekends. It just screams RELAX to me, for some reason. So while we were all getting ready on Saturday, I ran down to the farmers market and bought some fresh eggs. This is a favorite combination of ingredients for a frittata - savory, just the way I like it!

Saturday Morning Frittata (serves 4-6)
1/2 pound ground sausage with fennel (sage sausage would be great as well)
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2-4 oz. goat cheese
12 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbl. butter

Heat up a pan over medium-high heat, add the ground sausage. Once the sausage is nearly cooked through (break it up as it cooks), add the pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the peppers begin to soften. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, and salt & pepper (to taste) and whisk to completely combine. Add the butter to the sausage & peppers, and once melted add the egg mixture to the pan. Stir lightly to make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. As the eggs begin to cook, you can pull them away from the edges of the pan, allowing the uncooked eggs to flow down to the hot surface of the pan. The mixture will begin thickening up and becoming solid. Break up the goat cheese and sprinkle it all around the top of the mixture. The top will still be very wet, so at this point place the pan under the broiler to cook the top of the frittata. Once cooked through, remove, slice and serve.

Zig Zag

Alas, I forgot to take a photo of the wonderful Zig Zag cocktail. However I did make a HUGE punch bowl of it for Friday night. And we even had some left over for later in the weekend. You're going to have to trust me - it's fantastic, and worth the effort.

Zig Zag (this is for the HUGE batch)
9 cups fresh watermelon juice
6 cups homemade lemonade (see below)
6 cups citron vodka (I used Absolut)
2 1/2 cups Cointreau

Combine in a big punch bowl, stir and serve over ice. A great garnish is whole blueberries and a small lemon slice.

Homemade Lemonade
2 cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups simple syrup (see below)
4 cups water

Combine everything together in a pitcher.

Simple Syrup
1 1/2 parts Water
1 part Sugar

Combine in a pot over medium heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is clear. Cool. Can be stored for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.

A Tale of Two Fondues

At the request of one of our guests, Lori, last Friday night I made some Italian Cheese Fondue for dinner – and a chocolate fondue for dessert.  Fondue is always fun, and is a great way to bring everyone at the table together. I found a recipe from Giada DeLaurentis a while back, and I’ve adapted it a bit to create my favorite cheese fondue. The chocolate fondue was adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence (any dessert with a splash of liquor is the way to go).

As soon as we got back to the apartment, I set up some sous chef stations for both Lori & Chrissy. Lori was responsible for grating all of the cheese, and Chrissy got to work juicing the watermelon for the Zig Zag (more to come on that). The cheese sauce is relatively easy, but takes constant attention as you’re slowly adding the shredded cheese.

I put together a huge pile of things to dip into the fondue, including endive leaves (one of my favorites), chorizo, summer sausage, sourdough bread, pretzel bread, and sliced fennel. And once the cheese fondue was devoured, and after a game of “Loaded Questions,” we moved onto dessert. The best part about this chocolate fondue is that you do it all right in the fondue pot. You just need someone to stir and someone to pour in the ingredients. I had some beautiful strawberries to dip, as well as some delicious pound cake and salty pretzels. And while I usually don’t partake in a lot of dessert, I did jump right in to the chocolate fondue. Here's where I apologize - I have no photos of the chocolate fondue. Sorry!!

Italian Cheese Fondue
8 oz. Fontina, grated
8 oz. Gruyere, grated
5 tsp. cornstarch
2 cups dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
Fresh ground black pepper
Stuff to dip
Optional: 6 oz. chopped & fried pancetta (too salty for my taste in this dish)

Toss the grated cheeses in a bowl with the cornstarch. Make sure to spread the cornstarch around, coating as much of the cheese as you can. In a pot over medium-high heat, pour in the wine. Bring the wine to a boil and lower the temperature to medium. Whisk 1 handful of cheese in until it is nearly melted. Repeat this adding 1 handful of cheese at a time. Continue whisking until the cheese is completely melted and the fondue bubbles. Pour into a fondue pot and start dipping.

Chocolate Fondue
16 oz. chocolate (I used half dark and half milk chocolate – and more like 20 oz.)
½ pint Whipping cream
½ cup Caramel topping
3 Tbl. Frangelico (or the liqueur of your choice)
Stuff to dip

Make sure the fondue pot is heated, and add the chocolate. While whisking add the cream, caramel and Frangelico. Continue whisking until the chocolate is melted through. Start dipping!