Archive for January, 2010

Raincoast Crisps

Are you familiar with Raincoast Crisps yet? They are from Vancouver, B.C., from a company called Lesley Stowe Fine Foods. I don’t know any of their other products yet, which is probably a good thing. A box of those crisp, crunchy, flavorful crackers costs about $7. That was fine when I was getting a paycheck. Now? Not so much. I am thankful that I can still afford a splurge now and again, but alas I am now saving my money for the cheese not the crackers.

The thing is, I have been craving Raincoast Crisps something fierce. After a little searching online, I came across a recipe that damn near replicates the crisps. This week, I decided to give it a try.

I have made crackers a couple of times. I’ve made paper thin crunchy crackers and cheesy crackers. I know my way around a cracker recipe. They are generally pretty simple – 4 or 5 ingredients; mix; roll; bake. This recipe however is a little different. If you haven’t had Raincoast Crisps, you will probably think, “Why bother.” Well then, go on out and buy yourself a $7 box of crackers. If you develop a habit however, you may reconsider making your own.

Most ingredients you can find in the bulk food section of any well-stocked grocery store. The flax seed meal needs to be refrigerated, so you may need to look for it there. Just buy what you need for 1-2 batches, which will make these really affordable snacks.

You bake the thick, lumpy batter in a loaf pan and when it comes out of the oven it looks like a burnt loaf of bread. The next day however, when you slice up the loaf, all the treasures you mixed into the batter reveal themselves like little jewels. Sprinkle each slice with some kosher salt, then oven dry them for a couple of hours. Once cooled, they are ready to store. Or eat. I prefer to serve mine with a rich triple-cream brie, like Delice de Bourgogne.

Raincoast-type Crisps
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup pecans
2 Tablespoons flax seed meal
1 Tablespoon flax seed
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Kosher salt for sprinkling

Mix first 8 dry ingredients in large bowl. In measuring cup, mix buttermilk, honey, brown sugar, molasses, baking soda, and salt. Combine wet into dry ingredients. Pour batter into greased small loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool, wrap, and store overnight in the fridge.

The next day, thinly slice the loaf into 1/8-inch slices.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment; sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
Oven dry at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn off oven and leave to dry for about 2 hours. When completely cool, store airtight container.

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OK, so my pirate lingo leaves a lot to be desired. What I am trying to say is – you have got to try some of the citrus fruits that are in season right now. They are very tasty and will keep you healthy to boot. Or booty. Argh.

For me, the abundance of Satsuma oranges and Clementines on sale in December is my first clue that citrus season is going strong. I love those easy-to-peel little flavor bombs and swear that it is what keeps me healthy as cold and flu season reach their height.

This month, I’ve been finding a lot blood oranges and Cara Cara oranges – two other favorites of mine. I like to tuck one of them into my snowboarding bag, to enjoy after a long day on the mountain.

We ate a lot of citrus growing up, but above all else, we ate grapefruit the most. My mom had those funny knives that you could use to separate the segments. So, after cutting your grapefruit in half – on the fat side – you’d carve out the flesh in each little chamber. Later, our family adopted the serrated spoon method. Equally effective and perhaps more so, since you could use the spoon to scrape the flesh away from the peel.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I witnessed a whole new way of eating a grapefruit. A co-worker of mine would peel the whole thing and then painstakingly remove the pith and membrane from each segment. It seemed to me like a whole lot of work – especially when the spoon method had worked well for me for so many years – but then, she gave me a piece to try.

It was amazing. All that peeling seemed liked no work at all after that. A fully peeled grapefruit – a grapefruit au naturel, if you will – is kind of sexy. It is like skinny dipping. When you have peeled the grapefruit completely and sit down with a bowl full of pith- and peel-free segments, it will be the best grapefruit you have ever eaten. Try it.

Here’s what you need to do:

Completely peel the grapefruit and separate the segments. Chunks of 2-3 segements are OK.

Take each segment, or chunk of segments and carefully remove the membrane around each segment. You may need to make a slit across the top of each segment if they are particularly tough.

Place the freshly peeled segments into a bowl, grab a fork and enjoy!

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I am so glad you are still reading because that has got to be the worst title ever. If nothing else, I am pretty honest. Since leftover steak is what this post is about, that is the title. I probably could have gotten away with the title MAGIC! because that is what happens when you take leftover steak and transform it into something different.

There really isn’t any dish that tastes as good the next day. Pizza tastes different, chili and spaghetti sauce may taste better, but trying to recreate the exact meal you had a night or two ago from the leftovers in your fridge rarely happens. Thanksgiving dinner may be the only exception.

Leftovers are a reality for us all however and I think if you are creative, you can find some way to make use of them. Think about how many uses you find for that leftover turkey after Thanksgiving: Turkey soup, turkey pot pie, turkey sandwiches, and on and on.

We had a great meal out the other night at The Met – a Seattle steakhouse that is one of my favorite (and most expensive) guilty pleasures. Truth be told, I can’t finish a whole steak anymore. Especially since our favorite steak at The Met is the long-bone rib-eye. We first tried this steak last winter and decided to go for it again. While we managed some self-control and decided to share the steak, 36 ounces is a whole lotta meat. That meant leftovers.

In the back of our minds, I think the Mister and I were both looking forward to leftovers, since we knew that would mean steak sandwiches. Gavin made up the sandwich below from leftovers from our last steak, and it’s a keeper. This is a very ad-hoc recipe. Feel free to adapt it to your own preferences. You may prefer a different type of bread or cheese. I have made it with caramelized onions and blue cheese and it is insanely delicious. I think the only key elements are the steak (obviously), the mayo and the butter. There is no sense trying to make this sandwich low calorie, low-fat or at all healthy. So don’t try.

Steak Sandwiches

Leftover steak, sliced thin
Onion, thinly sliced
Dijon or spicy mustard (I like Edmund Fallot, the hubs likes Gulden)
Cheddar cheese
Sliced sourdough bread

Butter what will be the outsides of each slice of bread liberally. On the inside of each slice of bread, spread a generous amount of mayo. Add a little mustard to one side as well. Place the slices in a skillet over low heat, butter side down. Sprinkle some or all of the onions on one side and slices of the cheese on the other.

In the meantime…heat another skillet over medium heat. Melt a little butter in the pan and then add some of the onions (unless you want them all raw). Add the sliced leftover steak. Sauté until the meat is warm through and all the pink (if there was any), is gone.

Transfer the hot onion and meat mix to one side of the bread. Top is with the other slice of bread – butter side up. Raise the heat to medium and cook and flip until each slice of bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted. Slice in half and enjoy.

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Walruses and Carpenters

For many people, winter is a season of suffering. Here in the Seattle area, this is especially true. It is cold, dark, grey, and wet. Despite these negatives however, I love Seattle in the wintertime. I don’t love it as much as I love summer, but I do love it more than most people. There are two things in about wintertime that I am most fond of: snowboarding and oysters.

A couple of weeks ago, I read a tweet from Jon Rowley (@oysterwine) about an oyster tasting trip he was putting together. The trip was going to be in the evening to Totten Inlet, in nearby Hood Canal, to take advantage of the low tide. Winter is the best season for oysters and Jon wanted to provide the group with a benchmark oyster eating experience, “Lantern light, freezing weather, plump oysters just rousted from their beds and opened on the spot…”

Jon knows a thing or two about seafood and teamed up with the Taylor Shellfish to put together the adventure. He referred to would-be participants as “Walruses and Carpenters.” Do you know that story by Lewis Carroll? There’s a reference to it in Carroll’s more famous story – Alice in Wonderland. It’s about a walrus and a carpenter that trick dozens of oysters to join them on the beach, where they eat every last one. If you haven’t read it, you should.

The trip was just $20, which included the roundtrip coach ride from downtown Seattle, all-you-can-eat oysters, wines to match and hot oyster stew. Sign. Me. Up. I didn’t want to go solo, so I surveyed the oyster lovers around me. When it comes to meeting farmers and fisherman, my dad is the ideal companion. He can shoot the shit with anyone.

So, last Monday we met a busload of fellow oyster enthusiasts for our adventure. There were lots of chefs, plus some bloggers and fishermen on board. It was a rainy, rainy night, but thankfully the temperatures weren’t too cold.

On the drive down, Jon showed some videos featuring Puget Sound shellfish: Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin and Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. Featured in both programs was Xinh Dwelley, of Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House in Shelton. She provided some hilarious – and naughty – cooking demonstrations using the geoduck. Everyone loves to laugh at that tasty, albeit fallic, delicacy. Jon gave us some more information on oysters and answered some questions as well. Did you know that most oysters take 3-5 years before they are mature enough to be harvested (and for us to eat)? Yeah, me neither.

When we arrived at the beach, everyone donned their raingear, headlamps and rubber boots. With shucking knives in hand, we headed to the beach. Thankfully, there were some experienced shuckers already there. Four tents were set up around a modest bonfire. Each tent had a different variety of oyster being shucked and laid on ice, ready for us to enjoy. There were Totten Inlet Virginicas, Olympias, Pacifics, and Kumamotos. Some chilled white wines – previously awarded for their perfect pairing with oysters – were also being served, in real stemware no less.

Among the crowd were some people from the restaurant business, some hardcore foodies, Bill Taylor – fifth generation of Taylor Shellfish, and Rodney and his family from Rodney’s Oyster House in Toronto. Rodney’s son Eamon is the Canadian oyster shucking champion. He’s also pretty cute. So, I tucked away my shucking knife and followed him around until he finally started opening some Virginicas. Actually, there were so many people shucking oysters I could just focus on eating them.

My favorite oyster has always been – and remains – the diminutive Olympia oyster. Indigenous to the Pacific Northwest, the Olympia oyster was nearly driven to extinction due to the pollution from pulp mills in Puget Sound about 80 years ago. It is about the size of a quarter and has a somewhat metallic aftertaste that some people find unappealing. I find it irresistible.  

Everyone was encouraged to search the beach for oysters too, though it was pretty dark out. One guy searched the beach however and found the biggest one he possibly could. He shucked it and ate THEWHOLETHING! It was pretty badass, I must admit. I love raw oysters, but chewing them for too long even grosses me out.

As the oyster slurping started slowing down, and more and more wine bottles were emptied, it was time to move on to the bivalve finale of the night. Xinh cooked up several vats of her famous oyster stew. We all lined up for cups of the steaming elixir – and refills – that would end our ultimate oyster evening. As Jon promised, it was just the right mix of magic and madness.

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What’s in a name?

When I started blogging in December of 2007, it was mainly to share recipes with family and friends. When I chose a name for my blog, “Sonja’s Kitchen” seemed good enough. Since then, I have written some recipes and shared cooking tips and eating adventures.

I’ve been thinking about the future of this blog a lot in the past year. As much as I love cooking, I also love to dine out, drink, travel and share stories. The name “Sonja’s Kitchen” no longer fit my blog as well as when I started it 2+ years ago. Thus began a search for new blog name that would more aptly fit my new blog.

During a girls’ weekend in L.A. last spring, we were eating at IHOP at 3am. My friend Robin took a goofy photo of my gazing longingly at the phrase “Satisfy the Craving” printed on the menu. At 3am, we were obviously “satisfying the craving” for some greasy booze sponge-type food.  The more I thought about that phrase later however, the more I liked it. Finally, I decided “Satisfy the Craving” fits my blog – and the way I eat – perfectly.

I will admit that  it wasn’t my first choice. “Satisfy the Craving” is a little longer and a little clunkier than I would have liked. Buying a domain name is no easy task however. Every fun and clever domain name you can think of has probably already been taken. Many are taken by so-called cybersquatters. People buy up domain names and don’t use then, but hope someone will want the URL enough to pay big money for it. As much as I wanted forkit.com, I wasn’t will to pay big bucks for it…

So welcome to Satisfy the Craving. Stay tuned for dispatches from my stomach.

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