Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

I am a big fan of road trips. I love prepping the car, packing snacks and diversions and mapping out the route. The mister and I are on vacation for the next week, on a trip from Seattle down to Northern California. We are going to hit some wineries, visit family and enjoy some of the sunshine that never seemed to make its to the Northwest this summer. We generally like to get from point A to point B, so instead of stopping for a meal en route we pack along lunch and find a good rest stop for a picnic along the way.

When we were in our 20s (and driving a 1976 VW camper van), road food was cheap and easy: hoagie rolls, pepperjack and cheddar cheeses and a bottle of Dijonaise. The Dijonaise was really the key ingredient. It elevated a simple cheese sandwich to something really special.

A few years ago, we got into wraps. Turkey, bacon, cheddar wraps with ranch dressing was the flavor of choice and they were, and still are great road food. More recently, we’ve been making calzones. The night or two before leaving on a road trip, we’d make homemade pizzas and then use up the leftover dough and all the remaining toppings to make a couple of calzones. These are an easy and filling road food that taste great cold and have the bonus of using up food in your fridge.

For this trip, I again wanted to use up food in our fridge. We didn’t have too many perishables left but there were eggs, cream, half an onion, and cheese. We also had some spinach and bacon in the freezer plus a small disc of tart dough.

Last week I bought a copy of “Around my French Table,” the latest cookbook from Dorie Greenspan. It is enormous and packed with typical French food without all the fuss and French names of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I’ve had my nose buried in Dorie’s book all week so after assessing available ingredients, I knew I’d be making her spinach and bacon quiche.

Quiche is great any time of day, cold or at room temperature, which makes it great road food. I decided on making mini quiches since the mister doesn’t eat vegetables, so I could make two minis with the spinach and two minis without. Plus, making the quiches small would mean a greater crust-to-filling ratio and that my friends, is always a good thing.

Mini Quiches
(Adapted from Around my French Table, by Dorie Greenspan)

1 disc tart dough (see below)
1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed (optional)
3 strips bacon
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Tart dough (courtesy of Fine Cooking)
This is technically a galette dough, but it works well for the quiche and I am sure it would work fine for a pie as well.
11 1/4 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
5 ounces (about 2/3 cup) ice water
1-2 Tbsp unsalted butter

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. With a pastry cutter, cut in the chilled butter until the butter is evenly distributed but visible in small, pea-sized pieces. Add the chilled water all at once to the mixture. Mix the dough until it begins to come together. Gather the dough with your hands into two disks. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour. You can freeze the other disk for about a month well-wrapped in plastic and foil. If you are making a full-sized quiche, you likely need all the dough.

Prepare the filling:

Wrap the spinach in paper towels or a dish cloth and wring out as much excess moisture as possible. Chop finely and set aside. Dice the bacon and sauté in a non-stick skillet on medium-high until crisp, 5-8 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Pour off most of the bacon grease from the pan and wipe out any brown bits. Turn the heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp of butter and melt until the foam subsides. Add the diced onion and sauté until soft and lightly browned, 5-8 minutes.

Like Dorie, I like roll out my dough between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper or plastic wrap. Working from the center out, roll away from you and rotate the dough clockwise every 2-3 rolls. Roll out to about 1/8 thick and 12-14 inches in diameter. If you are making mini quiches, cut the dough in fourths.

Melt 1-2 Tbsp butter and brush it liberally on the insides of a 9-inch spring form pan, 8-inch pie plate or 4, 4-inch mini spring form pans. Even if your pans are nonstick, they need to be buttered. Transfer the dough to the pan(s) and gently press it into the edges and up the sides, taking care not to stretch it. Dorie says to trim the top edges evenly, but I like to leave them rustic-looking. Poke the bottom of the dough with a fork a few times. Place the pan or pans in the freezer for one hour, no less. Reserve any remaining melted butter for the foil.

When the pans have been in the freezer for about 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When one hour is up, it’s time to bake the crust. Use the remaining butter to butter one side of a sheet of foil (or 4 small sheets). Line the dough with buttered foil and press it into the edges. For mini pans, I find it easier to preform the foil around a cup or mug first. Fill with pie weights (dried beans or rice work fine, thought make them unusable in other way after that). Bake for 15-20 minutes (less for mini pans). Remove the foil and bake another 3-5 minutes until the crust is golden. You don’t want them completely cooked, since you’ll be baking them again when they are filled. Let the pan(s) and crusts cool completely.

Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until well-blended.

Assemble the quiches:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Evenly distribute the bacon, onions, cheeses, and spinach in the pan or amongst the pans. If someone doesn’t like spinach (like someone I know), give them more bacon and cheese. Pour the egg mixture into the pan(s) slowly, allowing time for the liquid to seep into the crevices around the filling.

If using spring form pan(s), place them on a cookie sheet in case they leak.

Bake for 20-30 minutes (less for smaller pans), until the filling has risen slightly in the middle, doesn’t jiggle and is lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and let cool before either removing from the spring form pans or slicing and serving. My preference is to pack up the mini quiches or leftover slices of quiche and hit the road!

Read Full Post »

I wrote the following blog entry for a writing contest during IFBC, The International Food Bloggers Conference, this past weekend. During Sunday’s lunch break, our challenge was to eat from the food trucks that had been brought in for the event and write a 200-word blog post about. But – we had to write using “all 5 senses.” More about the contest below…

Away from the clatter of the crowd and the hum of the food trucks, I found a seat along the the canal on the cool concrete. My meal was swaddled in a banana leaf and wrapped in foil that glistened with the juices of the spicy pork tamale steaming inside.

As I unwrapped the small package, the ducks began to gather and the gulls beckoned from above. Not today friends. I’m not sharing.

Tamales are simple food. Humble. The complex flavors betray their basic ingredients. Corn masa. Pork. Spices.

The masa is earthy and dense and encases a filling of rich, slow-cooked pork that is so spicy it warms me from the inside out, even as the cool breeze chills the back of my neck.

On the first day of the conference there was a seminar called “Writing with All Five Senses” by Kathleen Flinn, author of The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry. It was informative but challenging. I didn’t think I ‘got it.’ So, when we were presented with this challenge I didn’t think I would enter. But then I ordered a tamale.

I took my lunch down to the canal to eat and just sat and soaked in the scenery. I tried to remember everything Kathleen told us the day before and slowly the words started to come to me. I went back to the conference area, ordered a beer and chatted with some people. The words kept coming. I ordered another beer. Finally, with about 30 minutes to go, I sat down with pen and paper and started writing. I only had my iPhone at the conference, so once I had sketched out my blog entry I began furiously tapping away on my phone. One of my seatmates checked the word count for me and I clicked ‘send’ to submit.

As the judges deliberated I obsessively read and re-read my entry. Above is exactly what I submitted. I am not an editor, so some of my punctuation and tenses may be wrong. But then they announced the winners! Three entries, in no particular order, won –  White Lotus Cooks, Caveman Wines and ME! The prizes were a selection of cookbooks and cookware (I won a Staub Cocotte), but even better was that the judges were Molly Wizenberg and Kathleen Flinn. That alone was prize enough.
International Food Bloggers Conference 2010

Read Full Post »

I’ll be honest – this week’s Feasting Friday was in fact, on Thursday. The meal far surpassed anything I had on Friday though, so it is really the only meal worth sharing with you.

Salumi is an institution in Seattle. Started by a retired Boeing engineer over a decade ago, it has been making divine cured meats and gut-busting sandwiches ever since. Armandino Batali (Mario’s dad), ‘retired’ a few years ago and the operation is now run by his daughter and son-in-law. Their cured meats can be found on menus from coast-to-coast and the line outside their Seattle storefront often winds its way around the block.

You have to plan a trip to Salumi carefully. They are only open from 11-4 Tuesday-Friday. It doesn’t usually work as a lunch spot for me, but since I have been working on lower Queen Anne I sure have been trying. This most recent visit didn’t start off well. I had planned to meet my friend Anbrit there on Wednesday, but realized I had a conflict so moved it to Thursday. I left the office at noon and was weaving my way through downtown before I realized there was a 1:40 pm Mariners game that day. There was loads of traffic and parking was sure to be abysmal. I finally made it to the Pioneer Square though and surprisingly, found a primo parking spot straight away. I sent Anbrit a text and went to join the line.

The line. It was LONG. And packed with tourists. Don’t get me wrong, I like tourists. I actually find it kind of surprising and charming that people spend their vacation in Seattle. It just means that places that are usually crowded are really crowded during the tourist season.

The line ended up being OK. Once Anbrit joined me, we were able to pass the time very easily while catching up. I haven’t seen her for months and she always has fun stories about her family, travels and school.

The menu is – as you can imagine – heavy on meat. There are some pastas, a vegetarian sandwich, Muffaletta, various cold sandwiches and some hot sandwiches. I still order the same thing I have ordered since my first visit a few years ago though – the porchetta sandwich.

Porchetta is a roast pork dish from Tuscany. It is the source of all things delicious. An entire pig (or at least a shoulder) is stuffed with onions, herbs, fennel and loads of salt and pepper, then roasted for hours until it is melt in your mouth tender. In Italy, small mobile food carts set up at markets and town squares and serve sandwiches of the juicy meat piled high on crusty bread and topped with more salt.

At Salumi, they amp up the flavor by spreading some herb/onion/mayonnaise spread on the bread first and then topping the porchetta with roasted onions and peppers. It is well worth the wait.

Salumi on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Given the less than stellar dining experience we had last week, we decided to try out another local restaurant this week.

Grinders Hot Sands set up shop in Shoreline a few years ago. I became a fan a couple years back, when I worked nearby, but it has taken me this long to talk Gavin into joining me. We weren’t in the mood to cook, so we decided to get some take-out.

I have to admit that it is nice to let someone else do the cooking on Feasting Fridays. Unless I am on top of my game in terms of inspiration, ingredients and energy, by the end of the workday and week, I am beat.

Since today was National Doughnut Day, I didn’t eat lunch because I had gorged myself on mini-donuts from the Pike Place Market this morning. By about 7pm tonight though, I was ready for dinner and Grinders is just a few miles away.

I am not an aficionado on ‘grinders’ as in the East coast variety, but I have it on good authority that the sandwiches at Grinders are the real thing. The owner looks like a total NJ wiseguy – thick neck and all. The sandwiches are big enough to feed two or more and are so loaded with meat and sauce that you pretty much need an entire roll of paper towels on hand when you tuck into one.

My favorite – so far – is “The Dipper.” It is a gigantic ciabatta roll slathered with a horseradish/mayo mixture and melted Swiss cheese. They stuff it with obscene amounts of sliced roast beef, roasted red peppers, sliced portobellos and onions that have been swimming in a red wine bath for some time. Add some chopped fresh basil and dinner is served.

The grinder – at Grinders – is really a thing of beauty. We ordered out sandwiches at the height of their dinner rush and everything was on point. One thing that caught my attention was the bright green basil. They had obviously chopped it just for my sandwich because it hadn’t even started browning on the edges by the time I got home. I love that.

I made it through half The Dipper (and half the roll of paper towels), before I had to walk away. Finishing the sandwich would no doubt be delicious, but given last night’s pulled pork sandwich, I felt satisfied pretty quickly. It was a great meal though and a good reminder that we have some great dining options in pretty close vicinity to ‘The Shire.’

Grinders Hot Sands on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Some Pig

I went to my first Seattle Food Bloggers‘ event tonight. Keren Brown of Frantic Foodie started the group and hosts monthly networking/eating/drinking events. Tonight’s event began at Beecher’s Cheese and continued – progressive dinner style – to their new food truck on 2nd and Pike St.

The food truck craze is in full effect in Seattle. The folks behind Beechers (and Bennetts, Pasta & Co., etc) just opened the pig mobile for business and it appears they already have the recipe for success: prime location + porkalicious food + affordable & efficient = Maximus Minimus.

The menu is simple, just two items: pulled pork sandwich or vegetarian sandwich (a combo of barley and veggies). You can order your sandwich mild (minimus) or spicy (maximus). Clever, huh? There are sides of coleslaw or chips and cold drinks available as well.

The whole operation is pretty slick. The person taking your order has a handheld device to send your order into the kitchen. The truck is outfitted with taps for the drinks. Evidently the lines the first two days have been pretty long, but I think they are prepared for how popular they will inevitably be. In fact, they’ll be very, very popular because this shit is deeeeelishious!

The pork is a shoulder cut that has been seasoned and grilled. Then, after a good amount of char is achieved it is braised for several hours. The bun was soft and mild (not too sweet) and held up really well under the weight of all that juicy pork.

So, how do you find the truck? For now they plan on staying at 2nd and Pike. I am not entirely sure about the hours, but I think they are planning to hit the lunchtime crowd on weekdays. It is pretty easy to spot the truck, since it is shaped like a pig. Check out their website for more details.

I met some nice folks at the event. At my table were Sara from Hungry Grrl, Lacey from Loving Local Food, Mary from Mary Eats and Ann & Abe from Tastefully Overcaramelized. Pretty good company, I must say.

And after looking at their blogs, I know I need to get to work on redesigning and renaming my own blog. We all lamented how hard it is to name your blog. Particularly since most clever domain names are already taken or worse, lorded over by cyber squatters. My top choices have been Fork It, Bittles, Wine and Swine and Satisfy the Craving. All our taken…so the search continues.
Maximus Minimus on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.