24 May 2016

Who needs broccoli rabe when you have broccoli (and kale)?

Everyone's in love with broccolini/broccoli rabe, but it's expensive and, if you live in the sticks, it may not even be available in your local grocery store.  Now, I have a ton of kale in the garden, so perhaps I'm unaware of how difficult that is to find in a store, but I think this combination of kale and good old-fashioned broccoli comes pretty close to the fancy rabe stuff. (PS--An idiot family in Antarctica could grow kale in their yard, so you should try if you like it. It even overwinters in my Zone 4 Northern Colorado garden.) Fix it however you want; garlic, oyster sauce, and soy sauce would be pleasant too.  This is my pseudo-Italian version, great as a side or tasty just tossed with pasta.

Lemony Broccoli and Kale

Serves 6 as a side

2 teaspoons olive oil
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large bunch broccoli (about 3 cups chopped)
3 cups washed, chopped kale leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon, zest of ½ the lemon
1 tablespoon capers
Salt and red pepper flakes to taste

First things first: wash and chop ALL of that broccoli!  Don’t throw away the stem or leaves—they’re delicious!  They taste like broccoli!  Just slice the stem kind of thinly and then chop those rounds in half so they cook to crisp-tender perfection.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Now, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the kale in batches, stirring constantly until it begins to wilt and then adding more.  When everything is bright green and a little wilty, shove the kale around to the outer sides of the pan and throw the broccoli into the middle, making sure each piece gets some contact with the pan. Alternate between stirring and sitting so that you get some charred bits on the broccoli. (Optional, but nice.)

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and capers.  Cook, stirring frequently and scraping up any brown bits in the skillet, until garlic is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and serve hot or at room temperature. 

20 May 2016

A quick stop in Utah

I went to the Moab area and up to SLC this week.  It was pleasant, though I cant say they have anything on Colorado in terms of food or beer.  In Moab, I hiked in Arches (best) and Canyonlands (also nice) National Parks, and stayed in nearby Green River, which was a sad little town but way cheaper.  There was a darling taco stand set up at a brokedown gas station, and the barbacoa was delish.

In Moab, both the food and beer disappointed at Moab Brewery, but Sabaku Sushi was great, and the garden veggie roll was probably the best vegetarian sushi I have ever had. The poke was good, too.

Here's some of what I saw in Arches:


And Canyonland:

In Salt Lake City, which I had visited briefly before, I hung out mostly in the Capitol (downtown) district, where I had great coffee at a little neighborhood cafe called Alchemy, OK beer and a funny pizza thing with corn and shrimp at Red Rock, and took a pleasant walk on the Capitol Building grounds, which are lovely.

The Great Salt Lake is indeed greatly salty, though there's really no place to walk unless you go to Antelope Island (Utah Lake in Provo is kind of a better park, though smaller and not tasty).


On the way out of town I hit the university neighborhood for some tasty Vietnamese rice noodle salad at Indochine (the chicken curry was nice, too).

17 May 2016

Almond Poppy Seed Cake for Chiarra!

Remember how I was in New Orleans, all too briefly, last month, and I stopped in for coffee and dessert at Rue de la Course near Tulane after totally stuffing my face at Jacques Imo's?  Well, I was there with one of my favorite travelling and eating companions, Chiarra, and we actually split that almond cream cake at Rue de la Course.  It was delicious, and it got me thinking about an almond poppy seed cake (well, muffins) I used to make in college. Now, combine that train of thought with Chiarra's recent request for a dessert recipe and the fact that I just missed her birthday, and you have this cake recipe, slightly altered from the way I used to make it in the 90s. So,

Overeating in NoLa     +       Chiarra likes dessert

Almond cream cake      +        Remembered Chiarra's birthday

Almond Poppy Seed Cake

For the cake:
Baking spray, for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoon poppy seeds

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup orange juice
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8" x 4" loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Beat butter and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with flour mixture, just until flour is incorporated. Fold in poppy seeds. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk together sugar, orange juice, and a pinch of kosher salt in a bowl. Add a little water or milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake and serve. 

13 May 2016

City o city is staffed by douchebags, but I love it

I have been trying to get in to City, O'City for lunch or brunch for a year (admittedly, I have not been trying that hard), and I finally managed to stake a claim on a bar seat a couple of weeks ago on a weekday at 11am. Seriously, that's all that was available. So, I will start by pointing out that this place is kinda douchey.  It's in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and everyone who works there has this practiced disdainful look as they tell you the wait will be at least 20 minutes. And you can see that half the tables are empty.  If, however, you are willing to slump in a bar stool, you can uncomfortably perch over your food, which on the day I went, was actually the better choice, personality-wise. The very knowledgeable bartendress actually made eye contact and and had pleasant manners, though the music was very loud in that part of the restaurant.  Whatever, the food was amaze balls.

The beers on tap were great, offering a nice variety of everything that is currently trendy (sours, summer lagers, oddly spiced porters) from a number of local breweries. I had the chicken and waffles, which was actually breaded, fried cauliflower and waffles.  It was so perfectly seasoned, and everything on the plate went so well together, that I think it might have been the most carefully composed dish I have ever had. The cauliflower was generously spiced with cumin and the breading was thick and satisfyingly crunchy.  There was a perfect little drizzle of bourbon maple syrup for scraping your waffle and cauliflower through on the way over to dip the whole pile into the chive-sprinkled creme fraiche on the side.  The carrot "bacon" was not terribly flavorful, but it at least provided some visual appeal.  I have seriously had dreams about this meal since I ate it. Look, there it is!:

The old man had the BBQ bowl, which was a thoughtfully arranged heap of a whole bunch of decadent-sounding items that turned out to be surprisingly light and bright in flavor (though quite filling).  Here's everything that was in the bowl: mac & cheese with homemade cashew cheese (you could get real cheese for extra $) BBQ tofu, mustard glazed greens, creamy coleslaw, and fried shallots. Everything about it was delish, but I think we agreed that the greens and the coleslaw were actually the most interesting items in the bowl. It looked something like this:

I have no idea how many years it would take me to find a seat for a weekend brunch, but I can tell you I'm going to succeed or die trying, because there are so many more things on this menu I want to try.  I think City, O'City is particularly remarkable not for the great menu items (which are actually becoming easy to find in super-hip, super-healthy Denver and NoCo), but for the execution. The balance of ingredients and choice of seasonings was just right on everything, and to see that attentiveness to detail in any craft is very exciting.  I hate the games we have to play to get a seat (do I need to be younger? Wear skinnier jeans?), and the whole vibe in there feels a little too in love with itself, but maybe they have a reason to think they shit gold.  Cuz the kitchen staff just might.