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!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grilled Ham, Turkey & Cheese - late night snack

Perfect after a few (maybe more than a few) drinks out with friends. Ham, turkey, Swiss & Provolone on sourdough bread. And instead of butter to brown the bread, I always spread a little mayo on the outside. Delicious!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Parsley...not just a garnish anymore

I remember parsley growing up. It was the curly, little green sprig that came on the plate of every meal I ordered out at restaurants. And I also remember being told not to eat it because it was a "garnish," and could even take root and grow in my stomach (apparently along with the watermelon seeds, I could have had a garden in my tummy growing next to the gum that stayed for seven years). I always ate - much to the disgust of my mom and sister. Partly because I wanted to see if parsley would start growing out of my ears. But I also think somewhere I realized that if something was delivered on my dinner plate, it was to be eaten. Looking back, it wasn't a great garnish anyway (certainly not in the way it was presented at, say, Bob Evans...I wonder if they still use curly parsley in the same way today?). It was often accompanied with a slice of orange, which I also always ate. And now I almost always have parsley in the house. Admittedly I do cook more Italian and American comfort food than other types, and if it makes it onto a plate raw, it's usually chopped & sprinkled overtop, or made into a refreshing parsley salad with lemon juice & olive oil.

You've come a long way, parsley. At least for me you have! And look, you're not even curly! :)

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My new favorite Gin

It's an old standard, but I've just reacquainted myself with the simple & delicious Gin & Tonic. Hendrick's has "traditional botanicals such as juniper,
coriander, and citrus peel." And the addition of the "unexpected of cucumber and rose petals" takes this gin a step above the others! I'm totally a commercial for Hendrick's Gin!

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Short Stack

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Location:Tom's Pancake House

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cheese Bar

After having a flight of beers at Hair if the Dog, we made our way to Cheese Bar. It's an amazing cheese shop, complete with an outstanding beer & wine selection. The owner & cheese monger was recently dubbed the world's best cheese monger, and it's easy to see why! The selection is amazing, and the staff is knowledgeable and passionate.

I was mesmerized by the options. And I couldn't resist a hunk of Robiola.

A bottle of wine, some cheese at our table & samples from the bar...what a delight! And somehow I still had the strength to buy a small wheel of Robiola-esque cheese, and a slab of sweet soppressata salami. Life is good!

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Walk The Dog

I took the plunge and got a flight of beers. All so amazingly complex, rich, and surprisingly mouthy. Great first trip to HotD with Kevin.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hair of the Dog brewery

The best thing I've ever seen on a menu (hint: pancetta)!

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Pasta Bake

Pasta bakes are great fun, and so easy to put together. keith really wanted some hearty pasta the other night, so we went off to the market to pick up some ingredients. I didn't keep track of everything, as I let him make the pasta (after I set up his mis en place). Comforting & delicious, it's like a big food hug. he cooked a pound of ground sirloin along with some onions, garlic, mushrooms, and red bell pepper. To this he added a big can of whole, peeled tomatoes and the sauce, as well as one small can of plain tomato sauce. There was likely some thyme, oregano and basil thrown in there at some point (really, I think I was playing xbox and just running into the kitchen when he had a question...I'm guessing). As this was cooking, he boiled some farfalle pasta (2 minutes UNDER what it suggests on the box). Once the meat mixture was bubbling and delicious, he added a big handful of chopped pepperoni and poured the whole thing into a big bowl. He added 2 handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese and about a cup of ricotta cheese. Then he added the pasta, mixed it all together and poured it into a baking dish. The whole thing was covered with a nice layer of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and placed in a 375 degree oven for about 30 - 45 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.

Fall has arrived at our house.

Chris' Cure All

It's very likely I've posted this drink recipe on here previously...I'm just too lazy to look. :) This is a martini that resurges every fall in our household and it sticks around through winter. It started as a way to get some really good and fresh ingredients (namely raw ginger, lemon and honey) into my system when I was feeling the beginnings of a cold. It's warm, soothing, and has healing powers. Honestly, if there isn't some alcohol content in your cold medicine then you don't know what you're missing! As a kid my mom would make me drink hot tea with honey, lemon and a splash of whiskey when I had a cold. I still drink that when I'm sick...there's just a little more than a splash of whiskey, and I add ginger. From that came the Chris' Cure All.

The idea was to make something that would soothe, and please, while providing direct injections of the ingredients (all of which I fully believe aid in the healing process...I'm talking the ginger, lemon, honey, not the liquor). It needed to be sweet enough that keith would enjoy it, yet robust enough for me. There's an old cocktail called The Grandad that mixes scotch and amaretto - the flavors combine so well together I decided that would be the base of the cocktail. And by no means is this a simple drink - you've got to sip, and a couple will knock you out. :) But it's delicious, especially on a cold fall or winter night. And the next time you feel the start of a cold, make a Chris' Cure All and I'll be damned if you're not feeling great the next day.

And just a note, you could make this drink with a scotch that wasn't aged 12 years, but why would you?

Chris' Cure All
1 Tbl. honey
splash boiling water
1/4 inch piece ginger, peeled & chopped finely
1 wedge of lemon (approximately 1/2 tsp. lemon juice)
1 oz. Amaretto
2 oz. 12 year old Scotch (preferable Macallan or Singleton)

In an empty shaker, pour the honey. Add the splash of hot water and stir the honey until it dissolves completely. Add the ginger, lemon juice (and throw in the whole wedge if you're using it once squeezed), Amaretto and Scotch. Add ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a martini glass. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

Breakfast Sandwich

This is a meal that keith learned from his mom - in fact the recipe is part of a collection of recipes she gave him when he moved out of the house so many years ago. It's become a bit of a guilty weekend pleasure for me, and keith makes it every so often (not too's damn heavy, but oh so delicious!). And it's wonderfully simple to make. Pillsbury flaky biscuits in a can; a package of breakfast sausage (bulk, not links, formed into small patties), and sharp cheddar cheese. Bake the biscuits and cut them in half. Cook the sausage until it's completely done, then toss it in the microwave for just a few seconds to help melt the cheddar (you could do this in the pan during the last few minutes of cooking as well, but the microwave is easy). That's all there is to it!


I suddenly was craving tacos. When I mentioned that to my husband, he offered to make some for sweet! Off to the market for all of the ingredients. And this time, he was going to attempt it without one of those taco seasoning packets (not because he's all that excited about cooking, but because he knows I prefer it that way...still so sweet!).

We, my husband and I, have come to an understanding when he cooks. I stay out of the kitchen as much as possible during the actual event - and for a short period after. Simply because often times the mess brings out my neurotic side and I scurry around behind him cleaning up all of the stuff he's dropped or discarded. I  can't help myself, the kitchen is my domain and I like it to be organized, efficient, and clean! But I've learned to relax. Now I just let him do his own messy thing without a complaint. Don't get me wrong, I often peek over at him mixing something and watch a glop hit the floor. Instead of getting frustrated, I giggle. And then I tell Max to go into the kitchen to help daddy. Max loves it when keith cooks - lots more stuff hits the floor, and as everyone knows, if it hits the floor it belongs to the dog.

All that being said, the tacos were excellent. he always goes all out as well with the toppings: fresh chopped green leaf lettuce, diced raw tomatoes, chopped onions for me, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream, and hot sauce (again, for me). I've been favoring this awesome habanero hot sauce given to me by Kevin as a 'welcome to Portland' gift when we first arrived. Intense heat with a great amount of flavor.

One note about tacos - the shells annoy me. I admit it. It's hard to fill them, they always fall over and all the contents explode from inside. This time we thought we'd try the flat bottom tacos. Great idea, right? They'll stay upright! And they do indeed stay upright. However the meat mixture is wet, and within minutes the bottom of the taco is a soggy mess, nearly impossible to get from plate to mouth without making a mess. Alas, back to the originals next time. But still...damn tasty!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Roman-Style Lamb

I'm a sucker for a good lamb dish - especially as cooler weather starts rolling in. Typically I make some sort of stew or thick dish with chunks of lamb shoulder - OR I simply roast a whole shoulder. I was flipping through Molto Italiano by Mario Batali and ran across a recipe for Roman-Style lamb. Of course he calls for a delicious and tender spring lamb, but alas, it's fall! So I went ahead with the dish anyway...such a rebel.

What I found really interesting as I was making this dish is the amount of liquid that is added, and that it's expected to basically all cook away. About halfway through the final stage of the recipe (cooking out 2 cups of wine) I said to keith "I'm not sure this is going to work." He walked up behind me and whispered in my ear "trust in Mario." :) So I did.

With my trust firmly reinstated I forged ahead, stirring often and adding more and more wine as it cooked away. Lo and behold I was knocked over with the flavor of the gorgeously cooked pieces of lamb. I think I may have cut them a little too small, but as some of the pieces broke apart slightly in the cooking, they became intensely flavored and delicious. And while I opted for a boneless shoulder instead of the bone-in version he suggests, I couldn't have been more pleased. This lamb dish just sky-rocketed to the top of my favorites. I can see this becoming a cool weather staple in this house - and something I'll cook for friends and family. Nothing says love like an explosion of flavor!

I did have one missing component that I'm sure will add even more depth to the flavor: anchovies. Mario uses them as seasoning rather than to add a distinctive fish flavor. I completely forgot to buy some at the store. In my frustration over forgetting the anchovies I did add a splash of fish sauce and a little extra salt (components I figured would have been reminiscent of anchovies) and it seemed to work just fine. Next time I'll do the anchovies - I'm sure they melt into the dish and you wouldn't even know they were there except for a slightly more complex flavor to the dish.

So as the temperature begins to descend, I whole-heartedly recommend this lamb dish. And make lots - the leftovers are just as good!! I served the lamb with some mashed purple potatoes - great pairing, if a bit heavy.

Roman-Style Lamb, by Mario Batali from "Molto Italiano"
5 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, 1 finely chopped, 4 left whole
4 pounds lamb shoulder (he calls for bone in), cut into 2-inch pieces (for bone in, you'd need a butcher to do this)
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
4 salt-packed anchovies, filleted, rinsed and drained
1/2 C white wine vinegar
1 Tbl salt, plus more to taste
2 C dry white wine
1 Tbl parsley, chiffonade
12 fresh mint leaves

In a large deep heavy-bottomed skillet (I used my dutch oven and it worked great), combine the olive oil and whole garlic cloves and saute over medium heat until the garlic begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and set aside. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the lamb, working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, and brown well on all sides. Transfer to a shallow bowl.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the rosemary, anchovies, vinegar, salt and chopped garlic and mix well. Add the vinegar mixture to the meat, tossing to coat, and return to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook slowly until the vinegar evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add half of the wine and the reserved whole garlic cloves and cook until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. As the wine evaporates, add the remaining wine as needed.

Transfer the lamb to warmed plates, sprinkle with parsley and mint, and serve immediately.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Honeydew & Cucumber Martini

I bought a cute little honeydew at the market the other day - I really love the flavor of a good honeydew. But instead of cutting it up for breakfast or a snack, I juiced the whole thing. Surprisingly not as much juice as I'd expected - not as much as a watermelon of the same size. But enough for what I wanted (and I have big martini glasses).

Honeydew & Cucumber Martini
3 parts fresh honeydew juice
3 parts cucumber vodka (I used Pearl Cucumber Vodka)

Add the juice & vodka to a shaker with ice, shake vigorously and pour into a martini glass.

Roasted Chicken

There is something so comforting about a whole roasted chicken. I read once that there are a few simple things to prepare that can tell you if someone is a good cook: eggs (either just a simple fried egg, or an omelet), and a roasted chicken. They're simple, but they're also very easy to get wrong.

Typically when I roast a chicken there are a few things I almost always do. I never let the bird sit directly in the pan - first, because a lot of fat drips out and I don't want it sitting in it; second, because I don't want any part of the bird to cook faster than another. So I always use a natural lift - sometimes celery, or lots of whole garlic. This time I used whole carrots and quarters of an onion. If you end up using the drippings in the pan to make a sauce, these also add great flavor to the sauce. And they do serve as aromatics, adding some flavor to the bird.

Inside the chicken - I always stuff it with aromatics. Often herbs are used, but this time I halved a couple of shallots and threw in some whole garlic cloves (skin and all, you don't eat it so don't go through the trouble of peeling it). Apples work great, or onions and thyme. Anything you like that will add moisture and flavor to the bird. I've only ever used a stuffing inside a bird once - generally I don't do it (turkeys, ducks, etc.) because the bread of a stuffing helps dry out the bird. Plus if it isn't cooked exactly right, you run the risk of contaminated stuffing. I did it once, like I said, inside some ducks. It was a prune & apple stuffing - sounds odd, but it was outstanding. And lots of it - it was for Thanksgiving a few years back and with six people I had 3 ducks going at once!

When you're roasting a chicken, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Simple is great. Most times I just rub in some olive oil all over the bird and then sprinkle with salt & pepper. This time I used a savory butter (thyme, salt & pepper) which I not only spread generously all around the bird, but I pushed up under the skin of the breast and legs. Always remember to prep the bird - this one was an amazingly fresh bird from a local farm, so I had to even remove a few lingering feathers. I always pull the wing tips back under the bird to keep them from burning. And I also always truss the legs - simple tie to close the legs over the opening of the cavity. This just helps ensure the legs cook evenly and not too quickly.

Obviously cooking time depends on the size of the bird. However I always start with a HOT oven - often 500 degrees. I get it pre-heated, throw the bird in, and immediately drop the temperature to 350. This helps get a sear on the skin of the bird, and aids in browning and crispiness. Mine cooked for about an hour. If it starts to get too brown, simply pull it out and cover the breast with some aluminum foil.

Doneness - I always recommend a meat thermometer. But sometimes you just don't have one handy, so a good rule of thumb is to pierce the bird in a meaty place (breast is good for this - deep pierce), if the liquid that runs out is clear and/or yellow with NO pink or red in it, then the bird is likely done.

I'm still working on my carving skills. I did pretty good this time, except for the second leg. I ended up yanking off all of the meat and leaving the leg intact on the carcass. Oh well, that was keith's plate. :)


I love a good bratwurst. Maybe it's the shape. :)

I grabbed some bratwurst at the store, and managed to find some great fall corn as well. So everything went on the grill. Soak the corn for a few minutes in cold water, and then onto the top rack for about 1/2 hour. I love corn this way because there's no need for those damn corn holder spiky things that I used growing up (when we ONLY boiled our corn - which I never, never, never, ever, never, ever do anymore - roast in the oven, or grill). You simply pull back the husk, slip off the bunch of corn hair (it slides off so easily when the corn is done), and you have a natural handle from the husk! Bathe them in butter and you're good to go!

As for the brats - I sometimes simmer them in some beer to inject a little more flavor. This time I simply plopped them on the grill and cooked until done. I sauteed some onions and peppers to pile on top of the brats. And for finishing touches: coarse stone ground mustard and provolone cheese. Delicious!

a well-rounded breakfast by keith

Root Vegetables

I cut up and roasted a bunch of root vegetables the other night as a side dish. So simple and delicious. Chop them all into roughly the same size (after peeling, etc.), coat it all in some olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. 375 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes until they start to turn golden brown and get soft to the touch.