Sunday, October 19, 2008

Family Kitchen Roadtrip - Matterhorn and Alembic Bar in San Francisco

For a little trip outside of our family kitchens, here is a look at our recent tour of San Francisco, where we ate, drank, played with kitties, and repeated the process over three days!

We kicked off the weekend with a fondue dinner at Matterhorn, a Swiss restaurant near my house. The smoked cheese fondue was pretty good, but the star of the night was the steak fondue in oil - with six different types of dipping sauces, no less. The appetizer dishes that came with the fondue were really refreshing - especially the baby artichoke salad with lemon zest. We lingered over the fondue pots and drank some really good, reasonably priced wine.

The next day we went to one of my favorite places to hang out, Alembic Bar in Haight Ashbury. They have wonderful handcrafted old fashioned drinks and a very eclectic menu. We ordered just about every offal that they had on the menu that night, much to the horror of the vegan diner who was sitting next to us on what seemed like her first date.

As we ordered a raw calamari salad to start and followed it by baked bone marrow, roasted madallions of beef tongue, oysters, and house-made corn nuts (memories of 7th grade beckons), we overhear the vegan diner saying to her date, "Bone marrow? Who would think of such a disgusting thing to put on the menu?"

Ah. Well, Amy says you can't trust a vegetarian. I don't even want to know what she would say about vegans.

While the vegan and her date dined on olives and nuts, Amy's oysters arrived fresh on the half shell.

Then the waiter delivered the magnificant baked bone marrow with toasted bread - I didn't catch the look on the vegan diner's face as I was busy spreading marrow on the bread anyway. The marrow is flavored with capers, parsley, and roasted garlic. You spread it over toasted artisan bread. The texture is soft, buttery, fresh, and rich.

I suppose this must have looked pretty scary to a vegan - after all it is a big bone cut lengthwise, probably requiring a band saw. Whatever. It was delicious!

A "Special-ality" - Chris's Meat Loaf

I have gleaned yet another secret recipe from Chris's ever-surprising repertoire! This time, he brought a secret bag of ingredients to make meat loaf. But being a former investigative journalist (kidding!), I spiked his drink with truth serum (not really!) and got this recipe out of him (seriously!).

Now this is comfort food at its finest - and just the thing to christen my cast iron skillet.

The meatloaf is a mixture of three different kinds of ground meat: beef, pork, and lamb. Chris says his mother usually use all beef at home. Mix in one chopped onion, an egg, garlic salt, crumbled bouillon, and a handful of fresh bread crumbs (we use the bag we got in North Beach when Joey took me on a tour).

Usually the recipe calls for some ketchup but I didn't have any so Chris improved with some shrimp cocktail sauce.

After mixing in all the goodies, you can form the meat loaf in a cast iron skillet in whatever shape you want. For example, the shape of Taiwan:

Or, more appropriate to its name, you can form it into a ...

... meatloaf.

Slather some more cocktail sauce or ketchup on top and sprinkle some regular or brown sugar over the ketchup/cocktail sauce. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, then bake, uncovered, until the top is nice and brown (about 15 more minutes).

While the meatloaf baked, Chris whipped up some mashed potatoes - using a hand held mixer to make sure that the taters are nice and airy.

The result? A delicious, comforting, savory meat loaf dinner!

Mojo and Keelo circled around the kitche and salivated/tried to get onto the kitchen table as the meatloaf baked in the oven.

But wait, Mojo Jojo is looking so weird in that picture! The flash never does him justice. Here is a picture of Mojo looking more like himself:

There, that's better.

Chris's Meat Loaf
1/3 lb ground beef
1/3 lb ground pork
1/3 lb ground lamb
1 egg
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pork bouillon cube, crumbled
about 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch each of oregano and thyme
1/4 cup ketchup, plus more to glaze
pinch of sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix all the ingredients together, add more breadcrumbs if necessary. Mixture should be soft. Don't overmix.

Shape the loaf in a cast iron pan, or if you don't have one, use just a regular baking pan. Glaze with more ketchup and pinch of sugar.

Cover, bake for 40 minutes or until the meat loaf is cooked through. Uncover and bake for about 15 more minutes until the top is golden brown.

Swat kittens away before you open the oven door.

Slice and serve with mashed potatoes!

Chris says the leftovers would be perfect for a meatloaf sandwich, but I ate it with rice, of course!

Peking Style Fried Tofu

1 carton of extra firm tofu
1/2 C flour
1 egg (beaten)
1 T chopped green onion
1 T chopped ginger root
1 T rice wine

Group A:
2 t salt
1 t MSG (or hondashi)
1/2 T sesame oil
1/2 C chicken broth

Cut tofu into 1-1/2 x 1 x 1/2 pieces. Coat each piece lightly with flour, then dip into egg.

Heat up 2 T oil in pan. Arrange tofu piece by piece evenly in the pan and fry over medium heat for 1 minute. When tofu is a golden color, turn over, add 2 T of oil and fry until golden. Add rice wine, scallion, ginger, and group A. Pierce tofu with a fork to allow liquid to soak through. Cook over low flame until liquid is absorbed by the tofu.

Shrimp Balls in Mushroom Soup

6 oz. raw, shelled shrimp
1 oz. pork fat or pork shoulder (ground)

Group A:
1/2 t rice wine
1/2 t salt
1/2 t MSG (or hondashi)
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 t sesame oil
1 egg white
1 T cornstarch

1 C straw mushrooms (can sub with any mushroom mixture. We used sliced portobellos and short straw mushrooms and they were delicious! Can also try oyster mushrooms.)

Group B:
1/2 T rice wine
6 C chicken or pork broth
2 t MSG (or hondashi)

6 1-inch sections of green onions

Throw pork, shrimp, and group A into the food processor. Cook straw mushrooms in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and drain.

Shape shrimp paste into balls and place in group B. Heat mixture over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and turan heat to high. When liquid boils, add green onions.

Pig's Feet in Soy Sauce Over Rice

Serves 3-4

2-2/3 lb pig's feet
1-1/2 T soy sauce
6 1" sections of green onions
4 cloves of garlic, peeled

Group A:
3 C water
3/4 C soy sauce
1 T cooking wine (rice wine or sherry will do)
1/2 T rock sugar or white sugar
1 star anise (or 1.4 t five spice powder)

4 C cooked rice

Chop pig's feet into 5-6 pieces. Blanch in boiling water. Remove, drain, and spoon the soy sauce over the outer service of the pig's feet. Set aside.

Heat 4 T of oil in a preheated wok. Fry the green onion and garlic until fragrant. Put in the pig's feet and fry until the surface is golden brown. Add group A and cook over medium heat for 40 minutes. Cook until 1-1/2 cups of liquid remain (about 1-2 hours more) on medium-low heat.

Szechuan Gherkin Slices (cucumber salad)

Szechuan Gherkin Slices (cucumber salad)

1 1/3 lbs gherkin cucumbers
1 T salt
10 slices of ginger root, shredded
1 hot red pepper, shredded
1/2 cup of sesame oil
5 dried hot red peppers, cut into 1-inch sections
1 t Szechuan peppercorns
Group A:
2 T vinegar
2 T sugar

1. Cut off tips of cucumbers and cut each into 4 to 6 sections; mix with salt and let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinse lightly in cold water and drain. Place in a bowl and sprinkle shredded ginger and hot red pepper on top.

2. In a small pan, heat up 1/2 C of sesame oil. Stir fry Szechuan peppercorns over medium heat until fragrant. Add dried pepper sections and stir fry for 30 seconds. Remove. Pour mixture over shredded ginger and hot red pepper. Add group A and mix with cucumbers. Refrigerate 6 hours. Before eating, cut each cucumber into 2-inch sections.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Friends Dinner

Liang, Jing, and Justus came to my house last night and we made a delicious meal! Jing had two awesome cookbooks from which we picked out recipes. I'll post them soon. For now, here are some pictures!

Liang getting the pig hooves ready for hacking!

They were really hard to chop! Good job Liang!

Mushroom (straw and sliced portobello) and shrimp/pork meatball soup in chicken stock and pork boullion.

Jing and Justus made this delicious picked cucumber salad with szechuan pepper oil and vinegar. YOM!!

Pan fried tofu! Jing put something in it that was so good! I will find out when I post the recipes. :P

Best part of the meal: stewed pig's feet! We couldn't believe that they had it at Krogers!

Dinnertime! I was so excited I think I ate too fast!

Forgot to take pictures of the dessert, but we made red bean soup with tapioca! Mmmmm!

Thanks everyone for cooking and coming over!