Saturday, November 30, 2013

Surprise Lemon Caesar Dressing

Last Friday's vlog's featured ingredient was fish sauce, and earlier in the week, I shared a super easy dump and simmer Bacon Tomato Pasta Sauce using fish sauce as an umami element as well as a partial salt element. In that recipe, you really don't taste the fish essence at all, but you do get the benefit of the richness and depth of flavor that fish sauce in low ratios can lend to a slow cooked dish.

Today I'm sharing another recipe featuring an alternative use of fish sauce, but this time, in my Surprise Lemon Caesar Dressing, you want the fish element to come through because... <SURPRISE!!! :D>... it's got fish sauce in it! :P (And it's a Caesar dressing...)

The fish sauce is used in this recipe to lend that deep, pungent, complex umami and distinct anchovy flavor you get in traditional Caesar dressing. And yes - there are anchovies in your Caesar dressing. See? You like anchovies better than you thought! :D

(And if you already knew there are anchovies in your Caesar dressing, please don't assume I underestimated your knowledge of all things Caesar dressing. I was just talking to those other people... ;) )

Surprise Lemon Caesar Dressing
Makes enough to dress 4 to 6 salads. Easily doubled.
Time: 10 minutes

- zest of half a lemon
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1 clove garlic grated or very finely minced
- 2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2.5 to 3 Tablespoons mayo

- 3 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar

- 1/4 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a bowl and stir or whisk to thoroughly combine. Adjust seasoning if needed, then vigorously whisk or stir in olive oil.

Enjoy! :)


Friday, November 29, 2013

Dry Brined Turkey Results

Because it flies in the face of much traditional turkey prepping wisdom, a few peeps were understandably curious about what the result would be when I posted that I was dry brining my turkey this year.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a big believer in the idea of a "best" way to do things. I've cooked enough to know that all kinds of techniques and processes can yield a desired and desirable result. And I've fed enough people to know that what is a desired or desirable result, and still within the realm of tasty, can vary quite a bit between reasonably discriminating palates.

That said, as an efficiency loving type gal with limited space within which to work, I love dry brining because it not only works to produce a moist, flavorful, yet natural tasting bird, but because it is also quite efficient. It saves space, water, seasonings and time (you can dry brine the bird from a frozen state), and, in my opinion, you lose absolutely nothing in the result.

If you follow the right ratio of salt to bird, the right amount of brining time, and you don't overcook (165F internal dark meat temp is done), you will simply have a more intensely flavored bird with none of the cured texture of an oversalted or oversoaked brine, none of the artificial juiciness of a wet brine - and I get that some of us really love said juiciness - but a natural tasting and feeling moistness to the meat, and consistent seasoning throughout the meat to the bone.

I like to give my bird a light but thorough external coat of olive oil to help crisp and brown the skin even bettah. This year, I added sage, thyme, black peppercorns and a little bit of onion powder to the rub.

And yes. You will still have enough flavorful pan drippings and juices to make delicious gravy.

And since I don't like to reinvent perfectly good wheels, here's Russ Parson's piece explaining how it works and how to do it.

So there you have it, peeps.

Dry brined bird.

It works. :)

Oh, and I can't overstress the benefit of the initial high temp sear before lowering to finish.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So Last Week: November 18th - 24th, 2013

MONDAY 11.18

Izz and I pretty much farted around all day.


I shared my recipe for Dweji Bulgogi (Spicy Korean Pork BBQ).

And reminded y'all just how ripe your Hachiya persimmon has to be so you can eat it without wanting to punch yourself in the face.


Asked peeps for chicken suggestions and patched this crowd sourced dinner idea of Grape Jam - Chipotle - Thyme Roast Chicken & Fridge Cleanout Slaw together.

That was fun.


Shared this Dump & Simmer Thai Inspired Chicken Curry recipe.

And found out I have yet more edible weeds in my backyard! :D

FRIDAY 11.22

My weekly vlog about how to pronounce my name, Cookalong #17, and FISH SAUCE! (Crap - it's already Wednesday. I need to share some fish sauce recipes...)

Also shared my Buttermilk Biscuits with Chorizo Cream Gravy recipe.


Enjoyed some nosh and drinks with some friends from The Plus while The Man hung out with the kids. Always nice to steal away for a bit. :)

Flying Dog Double Dog IPA

SUNDAY 11.24

Shared my take on foraging.

Enjoyed a really lovely brunch with the fam at Stone's World Bistro in Escondido...

Artisanal Snausage Platter

Stone Imperial Russian Stout
Alesmith Nut Brown Ale

...and took in an easy hike afterward.

Two days late on the this post and one day before Thanksgiving. 

Turkey's dry brining in the fridge, Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce has been made, and I'm working on my second cuppa and a little more putzing around before I start getting the house ready for tomorrow.

Looking forward to a relaxing holiday weekend with family and friends.

May we all spend tomorrow surrounded by love and delicious things. :)


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Fresh cranberry sauce is one of those things that's so quick, easy and inexpensive to make, and well ahead of time, that probably the only reason to use canned is that you have some sentimental attachment to it.

Or you like the rings. :P

And it's so super adaptable to your palate and preferences.

Pineapples were fragrant and super inexpensive at the market yesterday (I think something like 49 cents a pound), so I got two of them, and decided to put some in this year's sauce.

Just a touch of cinnamon (about 1/4 teaspoon) and cardamom (5 seeds) for a mild holiday spice note were my additions this year, but nutmeg, clove and ginger would also work beautifully.

Pineapple Orange Cranberry Sauce
Makes about 3 1/4 cups
Time: 30 minutes
Printable Version

You can make cranberry sauce several days in advance, and it keeps for several weeks in the refrigerator.

- one 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 1.5 cups fresh pineapple that's been cut into a 1/2-inch dice (if you don't have access to fresh pineapple, you can use canned, but reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup or so)
- 1+1/4 to 1+1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup water
- the zest of an orange
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

- optional spices to taste: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger and cardamom would all work well alone or in combination

Put all ingredients except spices in a medium saucepan, stir, and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often.

Reduce the heat to medium low and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the cranberries pop. (About 10 minutes.)

Remove from heat and stir in spices at this point. The residual heat will infuse the sauce with the spices. (I tend to have a light hand with the spices because once you've overcomplicated your food with spices, it's very hard to correct. You can always add more, but there's very little you can do to change or cover it up once you've added too much.)

Cool and store in lidded container(s) in the fridge.

Goes great with with roast turkey, chicken, duck and pork.

Leftovers would be delicious with a cheese platter or in baked brie.

Enjoy! :)


Monday, November 25, 2013

Stone World Bistro & Gardens - Escondido, CA

"For all those harsh beer names, this place is surprisingly zen."

~ Joey upon being seated for brunch at Stone World Bistro & Gardens

Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent about Stone's often challenging but also constantly evolving brews, you have to marvel at what they've done with and for the craft brewing industry. They've pushed the limits, and expanded the horizons, of the beer drinker's palate. And now with their bistro-gardens and beer pairings in these really lovely and organic feeling garden settings (they also have their own farm), they're helping to elevate the appreciation and enjoyment of beer to that which we could, until recently, only experience with wine.

And they've created such a demand for their product that people are willing to make a special trip to BFEscondido (not that Escondido isn't beautiful, but there isn't much other reason to make a destination of it - and no, I don't consider the Wild Animal Park a good reason to go... :P) just to partake.

But if you have to drive out of your way to their Escondido location to see what it's all about, they've even built in a second attraction for you by building their craftbrew mecca right next to a trailhead.

FOOD: Lots of hearty globally inspired ideas that seem designed to stand up to the complexity and boldness of many craft brews. On this day, we went during brunch and ordered the Potato Pierogies, Biscuits & Gravy, BBQ Duck Taco Trio, and the Wild Boar Korean BBQ Sandwich (which comes with a healthy side of kimchi), and no one was disappointed, which rarely happens in this family of foodniks.

AMBIENCE: Like Joey said, it really is a sort of minimalist zen kind of vibe. Lots of sleek yet somehow rustic feeling stone and steel surrounded by what seems a smart and relatively low maintenance and conservation minded garden. Outdoor seating is plentiful, and the environment really does feel like an unexpected oasis.

Bonus points for a truly aesthetically pleasing middle finger to our hypercautious, hyperlitigious society in the form of a garden with stone steps, dirt paths, and unsure footing for the enjoyment of patrons walking around with their glasses full of high ABV libations.

SERVICE: Friendly, professional and accommodating, without being overbearing or transparently schticky in the least.

Definitely worth a visit if you're in North San Diego in search of a pleasant dining experience regardless of your taste for craft beer. Worth special effort if you happen not only to love Stone's brews, but want to see a good and truly interesting evolution in the craft beer movement.

Stone World Bistro & Gardens - Escondido
1999 Citracado Parkway
Escondido, CA 92029


Sunday, November 24, 2013

On Backyard Foraging & Thanks To Mother Nature

We have a small backyard, and there's not much going on back there but dirt, mulch, 2 wild wisteria vines, and 4 small planters populated by 3 chili plants, 3 blueberry bushes, and assorted weeds naturally occurring plant life.

The plan is to add to our edible garden little by little, adding more fruit and veg as the mood strikes me, but right now, that's where it's at.

And while I weed the weeds that endanger the plants I'm actually trying to grow, I will often let the rest develop into something I can identify, and then further determine if I can eat. And if I learn on good information that it is indeed safely edible, you can bet I'm going to eat it at least once.


Well firstly, I'm an ethnobotanist by nature, if a totally lazy and accidental one. I've been curious about plant uses since childhood - specially the edible ones. It's just a thing of mine.

Secondly, I am a lifelong lover and a student of food - of the ways to enjoy it, and of course, the ways to prepare it. And if gardening or small scale farming brings us that much closer to the true source of our food, I think foraging brings us one step closer.

The understanding that the best of what we eat to nourish, sustain, and satisfy us, was, is, and always will be, a gift from Nature.

The understanding that we may replicate, duplicate, and manipulate it to our taste and convenience, but that even if we didn't, it is and has been there to provide.

And the belief that it will continue to provide if we seek, even in the smallest ways, to understand, connect with, conserve, and consume with a sense of gratitude, stewardship, and moderation.

This collection of mallow, quelite and dandelion, which is chock full of great dietary fiber and nutrients, by the way, is going to be prepared as Korean namul banchan. And that, along with some of the dweji bulgogi I made last week, steamed rice, a fried egg, and seasoned gochujang, is going to make a deliciously earthy and healthful bowl of bibim bap early next week.

I'll be sure to say grace to Mother Nature before I partake. :)


Friday, November 22, 2013

Buttermilk Biscuits With Chorizo Cream Gravy

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Transferring another recipe over, and I think Friday's a perfect day to share a yummy weekend breakfast idea.

Buttermilk Biscuits with Chorizo Cream Gravy

If memory serves, this recipe, like so many of my recipes, was the result of a Fridge Cleanout. Since then it's become a family fave and one of Mads' most frequent breakfast requests.

There are so many great basic buttermilk biscuit recipes out there, so I see no point in reinventing the wheel. Use whatever recipe you like, and if you don't have one yet, I like this Southern Buttermilk Biscuits recipe from

If you're in a pinch for time, or just feeling lazy - because that happens on the weekends - just use those Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits in a can. I'm pretty sure your family won't hold it against you. And if they do, they might be assholes. :P

Buttermilk Biscuits With Chorizo Cream Gravy

Makes about 2.5 cups gravy, easily doubled

Printable Version

If you're baking scratch biscuits, I recommend getting all your mise en place (i.e., duckies in a row) ready for the Chorizo Cream Gravy, then making the biscuits and putting them in the oven, and then making the gravy while the biscuits are baking.

The idea situation is of course fresh out of the oven biscuits with warm gravy. The gravy can be made a few days ahead and reheated with just a little added milk or cream to thin it back out without sacrificing flavor.

- 6 ounces Mexican chorizo (about half a typical tube)
- 1.5 Tablespoons butter
- 2.5 Tablespoons flour
- 1.5 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 1/2 cup half & half (but you could use whole milk or heavy cream)
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon (or a few turns of fresh cracked) black pepper

- finely chopped parsley, chives or green onion for garnish. (I prefer chives.)

1) Cook your chorizo over slighly higher than medium heat until the fat melts away from the meat, and without draining fat, add butter.

2) When the butter is just melted, stir in the flour with a whisk, making sure to break up any clumps, and let the flour cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes.

3) Pour in the chicken stock while whisking, continuing to disintegrate the chorizo roux, until all the flour has blended in with the stock. Continue gently whisking as the gravy thickens.

4) When the gravy has thickened and begun bubbling for about 10 seconds, pour in the half and half and continue whisking to incorporate the half and half with the gravy and let simmer for about 30 seconds.

5) Add the onion powder and black pepper, whisk again to incorporate, let simmer for another 10 seconds or so, and take gravy off the heat so it won't continue to thicken.

Serve over biscuits with some chopped chives and/or parsley.

On another day, with breakfast snausage on top. :)

Leftover gravy is delicious over mashed or baked potatoes.

Enjoy! :)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dweji Bulgogi (돼지 불고기) aka Spicy Korean Style Pork BBQ

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

Further to my featured ingredient of last Friday's vlog, gochujang or Korean red chili pepper paste, I thought I'd share my recipe for Dweji Bulgogi (pronounced DWEHji BOOLgohgi, dweji meaning pig or pork, and bulgogi meaning BBQ or grilled meat).

A lot of people find the regular beef bulgogi to be a gateway dish into Korean cuisine, and that stuff is tasty to be sure. But I am big on pork and hot stuff, so I actually prefer this preparation way more.

Marinating Dweji Bulgogi.
This one was made with pork shoulder.

Dweji Bulgogi (돼지 불고기) aka Spicy Korean Style Pork BBQ
Serves 4 to 6
Time: 30 to 45 minutes active time
Printable Version

If you have a low tolerance for heat, or you just want to try something new, you can sub half the gochujang with dwenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) or miso.

And if you're averse to pork, you can also make this with boneless, skinless chicken thigh meat cut into roughly 1.5-inch cubes.

- 2.5 pounds pork shoulder strips, cut into roughly 1/4" thick pieces
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like your food
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup gochujang (Korean red chili paste)

- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons oil, depending on how fatty the meat is. The less fatty the meat, the more oil you'll want to add.


- 2 jalapeños or serranos, thinly sliced (optional - for some, the heat from the gochujang is plenty)
- 1 Tablespoon grated or finely minced fresh ginger (sometimes I'm feeling the ginger, sometimes not)

On another day, made with pork belly with the rind removed
and half a small yellow onion rather than green onions.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a mixing bowl and ideally allow to marinate for at least 45 minutes to an hour before cooking. In my experience, the best way to get all the meat evenly seasoned is to get in there with your hands, and mix and massage to distribute all the seasonings on and between all the slices of meat.


There are different schools of thinking on bringing meat up in temperature before cooking, but I personally prefer to take the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking it to bring it up closer to room temp because I find that the meat is much more likely to develop a proper sear or crust than if it’s cooked straight out of the fridge, which results in more of a steamed or boiled texture.

Pan-fry or Saute: Cook the meat in four separate batches on an oiled (about 1.5 teaspoons per batch) pan preheated to medium high, for 2.5 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure all pieces are cooked. If you, like I, love onions, you can saute some 1/4" thick pieces of sliced onions with each batch.

Oven Method: Preheat the oven to 425F. Mix and additional 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons oil in with the meat and spread it evenly in a single layer on a foil-lined sheet pan or broiler pan. Place the pan about 4 inches under the heat element (usually the second rack in your oven) and cook for 15 minutes.

The shoulder cooked in the oven.

The belly cooked in the oven.

Grill: You'll need a grill basket to keep the meat from falling through the slats. Spread the meat in a single layer and cook over medium high heat (and at least 5 inches above the coals or gas element) until the meat is cooked 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the cut and grill heat.

My favorite way to enjoy it is with sangchu ssam (Korean style lettuce wraps) with lots of fresh lettuce and Korean herbs like chrysanthemum leaves and perilla and a good dab of ssamjang (seasoned soybean paste).

Hope you enjoy. :)


So Last Week: November 11th - 17th, 2013

MONDAY 11.11

Declared November 11th International Day of The Sharp Kitchen Knife knowing full well that at least one veteran was going to express their indignation over my choice of dates without any consideration for or even knowledge of the fact that I regularly speak out about what I believe is the best way to honor our war veterans. 

Made Creamy Butternut Squash Soup and Buttermilk Corn Muffins with Mads for our November Cookalong. As she gets older, I'm grateful for the commonality of food, among other things, to keep us relating. :)

Took a lovely walk downtown with the fam per Joey's request... 

And then came home to some semi-homemade ramen, which also made Joey extremelyvery happy.


Made a Stock Rotation Cleanout Italian Chicken Stew...


Hung out with Izz on the patio while she tortured a snail.

Shared my Broccoli Raisin Slawlad recipe, which is great for those holiday potlucks, BTW...

And indulged in some Wagyu beef and Matsutake mushroom yakiniku at home.


Black Friday can suck it.

FRIDAY 11.15

Did my first weekly vlog on how to say pho, "thank you" in Korean, and also about gochujang. :D

Shared my Basic Seasoned Gochujang recipe as a follow up.

And also a little Fall cheer from the garden. :)


Spent some time with a couple of our favoritest friends, tasting beer, shooting the shit, and enjoying an easy lunch.

Some really good beer, I must say. :)))

SUNDAY 11.17

Shared my recipe for Super Fluffy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Pancakes as well as thoughts on eating a little parenting crow.

Took the fam for a little excursion downtown to try Zig Zag Pizza Pie and to take Izz down to the beach for the first time since she started walking, per Joey's request of last week. (See immediately preceding item. :P)

Had the best time together. 

And laughed all the way home joking about bodily functions and convincing our kids yet again that we have no rhythm. To their favorite songs, no less.

How many days 'til Turkey Day again? Not enough is alls I know...