Search This Blog

Monday, May 30, 2011

Morel Hunting - my first mushroom foraging adventure

When I'm not in the kitchen or stuffing myself at my Mom's or some restaurant, I'm usually on a trail in the woods. I've been exceptionally lucky with the people who bring me on these grand adventures, and this past weekend we decided to combine my two favorite things: Outdoors and food.

The purpose of this weekend was to just get out, relax, do some great hiking, and hopefully finding some morels. Morels, I learned is a type of edible mushroom and May is a great time to go looking for them. Kevin said that they were specific the area we were planning on camping at (Teanaway River Valley) because the land there is drier. So our plan was to have good times and hopefully find some tasty mushrooms!

While we were heading up to a trailhead driving along a dirt road, Kevin somehow spotted a single morel mushroom on the side of the road. Not really sure how he did it, considering how small the little guy was, but we got out and decided to look. We found a couple more but not much.
Jess found one!
After a hike we stopped in a meadow to look for some more.
Most of us gave up and just took naps instead. :)

So we got back to camp and fried up what we had, which wasn't much..
But the morel was surprsingly pretty dense. It had sort of a meaty taste to it but had a great flavor to it. YUMMY!

And since we're on the topic of camp food, here's a photo of some veggies I prepped for this trip. Squash, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, and potatoes! we roasted them in tin foil in the fire. YUMMY!

Review: Matt's in the Market - COPPER RIVER SALMON!

Sorry this entry comes over a week late. As most of you foodies know, Copper River Salmon is here!! For those of you who are unfamiliar or don't know what the great who-hah is about this amazing fish, I'll give you a quick run down.

What's the big deal about Copper River Salmon?
Copper River Salmon comes from the Copper River in Alaska. This river is almost 300 miles long, so the salmon that make this journey every year are usually pretty meaty and pretty fatty. Hence, they are the tastiest salmon - but the season to catch them is very small, usually only a few weeks (sometime in May to mid June).

So when I heard the great news a couple weeks ago, I texted a new friend of mine, Benjamin, who is a chef at the famous Matt's in the Market in Pike Place Market. I failed to ask him if the restaurant would be serving up a great copper river salmon dish, but had reservations the next day with a friend and was too excited. I have never been to Matt's in the Market, but have heard a lot about it, from various people. More notably, Matt's in the Market was featured on Food Network's Bobby Flay's Throwdown show for their Salmon Chowder. Chef Gerl of Matt's in the Market won the impromptu challenge. You can get the recipe and watch Chef Gerl make it himself online.

What I love most about Matt's is that it really is casual fine dining. Exceptionally equisette food but you're not required to wear a certain attire. Located in the heart of Pike Place Market, across from the golden pig and the flying fish, the upstairs restaurant features a small bar, a fair amount of seating, and my favorite part: an open kitchen. I love open kitchens for many reasons, which I won't get into now, but before we were even seated I was pleased. We arrived a little early so we chatted at the bar until our table was ready. Our server came by and told us the specials, and he only had to get out two words before I started squealing and clasping my hands with excitement: Copper River. I cut him off before he could even finish telling me what it came with, but I really didn't care what it came with. I was STOKED.

I started with the Baby Arugula and Dungeness Crab salad with mixed cirtus citronette, avocado, marcona almonds:

Then came the entrees:

Jenn had the Painted Hills Beef Tenderloin (8oz) with wild mushroom ragout, rapini, bluebird farms farroto.

I of course had the Copper River Salmon, and I can't rememebr what it came with, but believe me, it was heavenly. The salmon was PERFECT. crispy skin, buttery flaky meat. DROOL. Man I really want some again.

Jenn got the creme brulee for dessert. I am not a huge fan of creme brulee just because it's far too rich for me. With the exception of Mashiko's Jasmine Creme Brulee which is to DIE FOR (but that's another story).

I had the bread pudding. Also two words I immediately start squealing after I hear them. I love bread pudding. Love love love. I only recently discovered it a year or two ago. Now I can't stop myself from ordering it ANYTIME I see it on a menu. And THIS bread pudding, served with salted caramel ice cream, is unlike any I have ever had. While most people thinking of a fluffy mess turned goopy with sticky sweetness, Matt's bread pudding is incredible. The bread was not soggy or goopy, in fact it was soft with a slight crunch to it and incredibly buttery/creamy/amazingness. If you ever go to Matt's, please please PLEASE get the bread pudding.

The service was prompt, attentive, and not overbearing. We even chatted with our server about plenty of other foods we love. I'd like to go back and try their lunch menu...but we'll have to wait until I'm not poor. The salmon was $38, but for those who are not familiar, that is a fairly decent price for such a dish. Reservations are encouraged if you go, and if you do, tell me about your experience!

Rating: ***** (Everything about this place is fantastic)
94 Pike St # 32
Seattle, WA 98101-2066
(206) 467-7909

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Red Velvet Cake - gourmet cake makin' with Nikki

Red Velvet Cake with Caramel Pastry Cream and Frangelico Ganache

So Nikki's roommate's birthday was coming up and she needed a secret kitchen to make a delicious cake! I made dinner while she made the yummy cake. I didn't really help except for making the Frangelico Ganache with was AMAZING...but this cake was pretty labor and time intensive. She used beets in the cake (probably for the red coloring traditionally) which I thought would be weird but was actually quite amazing. The cake came out more chocolately than red, but it was a great first attempt and it tasted AMAZING!

Tasting the Caramel Pastry Cream....yummy!

Cream went inside the cake...

A close up look at the tasty creation.

I didn't get a slice but from licking the bowl, spoons, and cake crumbs, it was GREAT. You can recreate this by following these recipes:

Red Velvet Cake with Beets
(yields one 9" round layer)

3/4 c. pureed beets
1/2 c. oil
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. dutch cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c lemon juice

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together all the dry ingredients and set aside. Blend the wet ingredients until uniform.
- Add the dry ingredients tot he wet mixture and stir until combined.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool before icing.

Caramel Pastry Cream
(makes about 2.5 cups)
6 oz. sugar (why they measure in ounces i have no idea)
1/4 cup water
2 cups milk
1 1/4 ounce of cornstarch (again, not sure what's up with the measurements)
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1/2 ounce unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine 5 oz. of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 8 - 10 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom into a an ice water bath for a second or two (Nikki did this for longer and the whole thing crystalized it was hilarious) Return the pan to a low heat and stir until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg and yolks. Continue
whisking while adding the hot caramel mixture in a thin stream. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until it thickens and just comes to a boil. Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate.

Frangelico Ganache

16 oz. high-quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
6 Tbsp. Frangelico hazelnut liqueur

In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a boil and immediately turn off heat. Add chocolate to the cream, stirring constantly until chcolate ganache is smooth. Add Frangelico liqueur and allow ganache to cool.

Hope you enjoy!