Pork Sandwich.

pork sandwich

Anybody out there watch the Walking Dead? Well, we are pretty hooked on the show, honest to goodness. Chris has read the comics since Issue 1, so he was stoked when they announced a TV adaptation. Me? I tend to watch the zombie movies/shows/etc just to make him happy. Me not whining seems to make him not whine, which in general is a pretty good thing. So when I can, I just keep my mouth shut.

If you know me, you might have chuckled a bit there. I am rarely silent.

pork!

Anyhow, maybe you can sense where I’m going here. I decided to watch the show with him, way back when. One episode in, and I was hooked. So dang glad I kept my mouth shut that time for a change. So somehow, we roped a few friends into coming over and watching some episodes with us. We called it a “shredded meat party”. Ha!! They got hooked too. And we got to eat a lot of pulled pork.

The second half of season 3 started a few weeks ago, and we set up the same system. Another party of shredded meat. We are such cheeseheads. But this time, the crazy sickness took a ton of our group, and by mid-afternoon it was determined that it would be the two of us, the show, and a bowl o’ pork. We even grabbed some “SF Beer Week” beverages while we waited.

As it turned out, we managed to eat this dish that week and into the following week. I froze a little and ate that a week or so later. It was interesting: I was glad to have it between just the two of us, but at the same time, man, this was an amazing dish. It would have been a great one to share. So maybe, just maybe, we’ll make it again. Zombie or no zombie.

aleppo pepper pork sandwich

Aleppo Pepper Pork & Fennel Sandwiches
adapted from Food & Wine, September 2011; serves 6

time commitment: 3 1/2 hours the day of (30 minutes active), plus overnight marinating

printable version

ingredients

Pork

3 1/2 lb boneless pork shoulder

1 T fine sea salt

3 T minced garlic

1/4 c plus 1 T Aleppo pepper

1/4 c white wine vinegar

sandwiches

1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil

3 T fresh lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large fennel bulb—trimmed, cored and very thinly sliced

4 cups (packed) arugula

6 toasted rolls, split, for serving

instructions

Make 6 cuts in the pork, 1 inch apart, cutting most of the way through the meat. Rub the pork all over with the salt. Rub the pork with the garlic and then with the Aleppo pepper, covering the meat completely. Wrap the pork in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Set the pork in a baking dish just large enough to hold it and add 1/4 cup of water. Cover the pork with parchment paper and then cover tightly with foil. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.

Pour all but 1/4 cup of the roasting juices into a bowl and reserve. Drizzle the pork with the vinegar, cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir the olive oil with the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Add the fennel and arugula and toss.

Discard any fat and gristle from the pork. Shred the meat into large pieces and toss with the pan juices and reserved juices. Pile the meat on the rolls, top with the fennel salad and serve.

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a san francisco treat

A long long time ago, like practically right around the time I started writing this little blog, I posted a recipe about meatballs and a story about music, and how those things tie Chris and I together pretty succinctly. Coincidentally enough, I wrote that post right before we were about to head to California to do a little wine tasting, which is pretty much where we meet in the middle.

He usually picks the music, I pick the food, and we both pick the wine. Love it like that.

But a weekend or so ago, all we had to do was worry about the wine, which was easy because, well, we have a lot of it.

It’s one of those ideas that felt like it should have been something we thought of on our own, but we just aren’t the entrepreneurial type, as it turns out. We are certainly glad someone did. A San Francisco-based couple has a blog they call “Turntable Kitchen” where they pair food with music, and eventually they decided to take it another step and sell a monthly subscription to a dinner with music pairings. They send a record with a couple of songs, a link to a mixed CD they’ve made, and three recipes with a featured ingredient as well.

It’s genius. And again, why didn’t we think of the damn thing?!

For our first month’s dinner, we picked our ingredients on the way home from a hike around Mt Tam. It had been a nice, sunny day and we were ready for taking it easy. We grabbed our goods, grabbed showers, grabbed a bottle of wine from the cooler, and got our music listening/cook on.

For those of you who didn’t know, cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco. It has a subtle fennel flavor, and is loaded with tomatoes and practically overflowing with any kind of seafood you can imagine and truthfully, you can put whatever you damn well please into it.

It’s the perfect dish for taking it easy – you dump all of the sauce ingredients into the pot and let it simmer, you add your seafood, and you slurp it up over a nice glass or two of white wine. Meanwhile you can have some melt-in-your-mouth burrata on crostini and prepare the components for your dessert. Cioppino night is a laid-back, California type of night.

And the best part? you do it all while hanging out with the one you love – a day spent in the sun and amidst nature, and a night spent together in the kitchen, checking out some California tunes, which if I remember correctly, was a band called “NO”. But again, the music’s his deal, remember?

Cioppino
Adapted from Turntable Kitchen & Bon Appetit, December 2011; serves 4

time commitment: 1 hour, 30 minutes (45 active)

printable version

ingredients
3 T olive oil
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 1/2 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with juices
1 15 oz can of fish stock
1 c white wine (we adore Vermentino)
2 bay leaves
1 T fresh oregano
1 T fresh thyme
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (start with 1/2 t each and adjust as you see fit)
12 littleneck clams
12 mussels, cleaned and debearded
1/2 lb halibut, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 lb bay scallops
1 lb large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
sourdough bread, for serving

instructions
Heat oil in a large heavy pot (Dutch oven, if you have it) over medium-high heat. Add fennel, onion, garlic, and green pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add diced tomatoes and juice, fish stock, wine, and spices (through salt). Mix together, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.
After the stew has simmered for about 45 minutes, add in the scallops, halibut, and shrimp. Once these start to turn opaque (3 minutes or so), stir in the clams and cover. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the mussels. Cook for 3-4 more minutes. Remove and discard of any clams/mussels that haven’t opened up at that point. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Ladle into 4 bowls and serve with nice crusty sourdough bread to carry that San Francisco treat all the way home.

Fennel-y-dee

One of the downsides to losing the Iron Chef battles, or rather the downside to losing, is that you don’t get to choose the ingredient next time around. Okay, I retract that statement; there is another downside – crushing of pride. Embarrassment. Resulting fear and anxiety about the next one, another losing battle for sure. Soul-stealing. Losing leftovers – who wants those?! I couldn’t even look at the sliders from last time.

Wow, that was intense. And maybe a little dramatic. Whatever.

But when you don’t get to pick the ingredient, you just never ever know how you’re gonna feel about it, until you do. Know, that is, which generally doesn’t happen until the Wednesday before the actual event. So you wait two months in anticipation, since you, er, lost. Remember?

And then someone announces that FENNEL is the god-forsaken theme ingredient. Fennel. Shitfire (yes, this is a word).

As it turns out, f-ing fennel is not my most favorite ingredient on the planet. I was hoping for, I dunno, cheese? Bacon? Crabs? Fire-breathing dragons? Rattlesnake? Durian? Definitely not fennel.

And dang, here I go being dramatic again. I really don’t hate fennel. Honest. I just, as my gramma would have said, I just don’t love it. And these secret ingredients – they need to be loved. You need to be excited about them. You need to want to slather them all over your body, and eat them till the cows come home.


dishes, left to right: fennel crackers with roasted fennel dip, fennel-lamb kebabs with fennel chutney, green salad with shaved fennel and parmesan, fennel ice cream sundae, random shot of food, homemade smoked salmon and pear crostini with fennel cream, porchetta-fennel pulled pork with pickled fennel, fennel ice cream with chocolate fennel tuile, fennel angel food cake with candied fennel

Or do you?

The top three:

  1. Heather’s Fennel Dessert Sundae (fennel ice cream, fennel-manchego shortbread, and orange-fennel caramel) AND Jeff’s house-made smoked salmon with fennel and fennel cream fraiche)
  2. Elizabeth’s fennel ice cream (which was better than mine) with chocolate fennel tuile
  3. Kevin’s lamb-fennel kebabs with fennel chutney

 

Four SF battles in, I finally made a dish worthy of a win, or at least a shared win. With fennel, of all things. But I sucked it up and I liked it, and I liked ALL of the dishes made. And my dish? I just stuck with things that I do LOVE – ice cream, caramel, and shortbread. I figured, even if I don’t LOVE fennel, I’d at least love the mediums that included it.

So here we are – at an Iron Chef first – a tie. Picking the next ingredient (or ingredients, depending on what we decide) should be fun. Plus, my pride will be intact – for once. 🙂

ps – the shortbread recipe is coming soon. but it’s so dang good, I just had to give it it’s own post. had to.

Fennel Ice Cream
From Gourmet 2007 via Epicurious; makes ~1 quart

time commitment: variable. at least 3 hours (1 hour active time), or you can do this in steps and make the base the night before and freeze the ice cream the next day.

printable version

ingredients
1 2/3 c heavy cream (or 1/2 & 1/2)
1 T fennel seeds, crushed
1 c whole milk
3/4 c sugar, divided
4 large egg yolks

ice cream maker

instructions
Bring cream and fennel seeds just to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, then cover and let steep about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring milk, 1/2 c sugar, and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring.

Whisk together yolks and remaining 1/4 c sugar in a large bowl, then add milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Return mixture to medium saucepan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a heat-proof bowl. Strain fennel cream into the same bowl, pressing on solids while straining to extract as much flavor as possible. Mix together.

Quick-chill by setting bowl in an ice bath and stirring occasionally until cool, about 15 minutes. You can also just chill the mixture in the fridge overnight, if you allow an extra day for this.

Once mixture is chilled, freeze in ice cream maker according to machine’s instructions (usually 15-20 minutes). Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, about 1 hour.

 

Orange-Fennel Caramel Sauce
original recipe; makes ~1/2 c

time commitment: 30 minutes

printable version

ingredients
1 c sugar (+ more to thicken, if needed)
1/4 c water
zest of 1 orange
1/2 c fresh orange juice
1 T fennel seeds
1/4 c heavy cream
1 T butter
1 t sea salt

instructions
Combine sugar and water in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil and DO NOT STIR. Also, DO NOT WALK AWAY. On occasion, pick the saucepan up and swirl the mixture, but don’t stir. Somewhere between 5-8 minutes the mixture will begin to turn from clear to a light golden color. Once the golden color is more noticeable, remove from heat more often and swirl the mixture. The caramel color will quickly change colors, and will continue to cook in the pan once removed from the heat, so don’t wait to remove the pan when it’s dark, or your sauce will burn. What you want to end up with is a nice, deep golden color that isn’t burnt, so if you don’t get the right color after removing from the heat and swirling, then add it back to the stove for a few seconds at a time. Make sure it’s spot-on before you continue to the next step – it’s better to toss out a little burnt sugar and start over than to have to start all over once you finish everything and realize your caramel tastes burnt and gross.

Once the sauce is the right color, carefully add zest, orange juice, fennel seed, and heavy cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir over low heat until smooth and any caramel bits dissolve. Strain the mixture (twice, if needed) through a fine mesh sieve and pour back into the saucepan.

Now, once I got to this point my sauce was a tad too “watery” for my liking, so I added about a teaspoon of sugar at a time, cooking on medium-low, until it thickened up. I adjusted the amount of sugar on the front end when I wrote this recipe, so yours should be thicker, but feel free to do this if you want to thicken up your sauce and just slowly cook it without a ton of heat until it gets where you want it. Once it does, finish the sauce with the butter and sea salt, and remove from heat to let cool completely. You can strain at the end if you want, but straining earlier was helpful for me to check the thickness.

The sauce will keep for a few days (weeks?) in the fridge. Zap it the microwave for ~30 seconds before serving.

Totally Legal

My pops was the chicken-cooker in our house. My mom made the (horribly dry, sorry mom) meatloaf, the holiday fixin’s, kickass potato salad, and plenty of things that are escaping my memory right now. But pops – he was in charge of poultry (and steak, for that matter. this worked to our advantage since she was the only one who ate leather instead of red juicy meat.).

There must be a genetic alteration linked to having an affinity for cooking fried chicken – my gramma had it, my aunt Faye has it, my pops has it, and by golly, I think I do too. Maybe it’s a Southern thing, but since not all Southerners can cook a can of beans I’d be willing to bet it’s a little of both. Maybe I’ll ask someone who knows a thing or two about genetics :).

But Pops wasn’t just a master of the fried variety; he has a killer barbeque chicken recipe too, and I’ve made it a time or three. Thinking about that dish just made my mouth water (and I finished my over-processed-but-low-calorie lean cuisine an hour ago. i guess that isn’t saying much, eh?). I think I may procure the ingredients for said dish soon; we’ll see.

Above all the cooking of said chickens, it was my pops who first taught me how to wield a knife into the bones and joints of the little birds, cutting them into 8 or 10 or even 6 pieces. I remember him grabbing a chicken from the market a few years ago, not too long after I went away to college (ok, 10 years ago, not a few); I think he felt it was his responsibility to teach his little girl how to cook, and cooking starts with cutting.

Sure, culinary school really helped me nail down the technique, and Thomas Keller’s pictures in Ad Hoc at Home are pretty helpful too, but it all started with Pops. These chicken butchering skills were never quite as helpful as they’ve been this past year though, as I’d guess we’ve gotten a dozen whole chickens from our CSA over the past few months; so as you’d imagine, we’ve eaten a lot of chicken lately. Usually, I butcher them, usually into 8 pieces, and usually it’s a pretty quick process. But sometimes, no matter how quick the process, I like to just toss a chicken, intact, into the oven, or onto the grill and now, almost by habit, into a brine before all of that cooking stuff even happens.

Roasting a whole chicken has to be one of the easiest processes on earth. You toss a few spices or herbs together in some butter or oil, you rub it all over the chicken (underneath the skin, too!), and you toss it into the oven and walk away. As Ina Garten would annoyingly say, “How easy is that?!”. But she’s right, despite her permanently bad hairdo and her fancy house and weird husband.

And while that simple herb rub is sure to win some points, I’m choosing here to go a step further and say that a toasted spice rub and a sweet & sour sauce from none other than my chef-crush Michael Chiarello is perhaps a little more time-consuming, but easy-peasy and probably, no definitely, the best dish I’ve eaten at home in a few weeks – hands down.

We all have our mediocre weeks in the kitchen, and lately the food I’ve been producing hasn’t been ‘knockin’ my socks off’, so to speak, which is probably ok since it’s so damn cold here. But this recipe, this recipe knocked it outta the park Barry Bonds style. Ok, I take that back a degree or two – Barry Bonds style, without the steroids. It still packs a punch, but it’s totally legal, I promise.

Roast Brined Chicken with Raisin and Pine Nut Agrodolce
Adapted from Michael Chiarello via Food & Wine, October 2010; serves 4

time commitment: 24 hours (for brining, dry rub marinating, and roasting); less than 2 hours active time (1 the night & morning before; 1 the night of)

agrodolce is Italian for awesome. Ok, really – it basically means “sweet&sour”. this recipe is definitely that, and I loved the grapes with the nuts. in fact, I could think of lots of other things to do with the agrodolce, so it’s not limited to chicken, that’s for sure!

this is definitely a multi-stepper, so prepare in advance. I brined the chicken and made the spice rub and the agrodolce the night before. in the morning, I removed it from the brine and rubbed the chicken with the, well, rub, and let it sit in the fridge until i got home that night. all that was left was roasting. You can certainly skip the brine if you want, but it’s worth the extra effort, if you’ve got it!

printable version
printable version (basic brine only)

ingredients
brine
10 c water
1 c kosher salt
1/4 c light brown or granulated sugar
5 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 T black peppercorns
4 cups ice
1 3-4 lb pastured chicken

toasted spice rub
2 T fennel seeds
2 t coriander seeds
2 t black peppercorns
3/4 t crushed red pepper
2 T ancho chile powder
1 T kosher salt
1 T cinnamon

chicken
3 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled

agrodolce
1/2 c raisins
1/2 c warm water
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
1 c Sherry vinegar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 t fennel seeds
1/2 c seedless red grapes, halved
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

instructions
brining the chicken
In a large pot, combine the water with the salt, sugar, garlic, bay leaves, & peppercorns. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the salt. Transfer the brine to a very large bowl and add the ice. Let cool to room temperature. Put the chicken in the brine, breast side down, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

toasted spice rub
In a medium skillet, combine the fennel and coriander seeds with the peppercorns. Cook over moderate heat, shaking the skillet a few times, until the fennel seeds turn light brown, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper and toss until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Transfer to a plate to cool completely. Put the toasted spices in a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the chile powder, salt and cinnamon.

agrodolce
In a bowl, cover the raisins with the warm water and let stand until plumped, about 10 minutes. Drain. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, red onion and fennel seeds. Simmer over moderate heat until thickened, about 20 minutes. Pour into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir the raisins, pine nuts, grapes and olive oil into the syrup. Season lightly with salt and set aside (or refrigerate) until ready for serving.

rubbing the chicken
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Put the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle all over with the spice rub. Be sure to get underneath the skin as well. Set the chicken breast side up and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for at least 4 hours. Let chicken sit out at least 30 minutes before roasting.

roasting the chicken
Preheat the oven to 450 (yes, 450 – this is not a typo). Brush the chicken with the melted butter and roast in the upper third of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and roast the chicken for 25 minutes longer, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 155 when inserted in the inner thigh. Remove from oven, and let the chicken cool down, or come to room temperature if you want. Carve into 8 pieces, transfer to a plate and serve with the agrodolce.

Castles Made of Sand

I had a free flight courtesy of my friends at Southwest, and my 8 roundtrips within the last 2 years. It expired in April, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not one to let things that are “free” go to waste. Hubs had 1/2 of a free flight (i.e., a “one way”) as a result of his perseverence during “Free Flight Blackout” over Christmas, insisting that they had to let him use at least part of his round trip gratis fare. While San Diego was our first choice, as it turns out, it was many others’ first choice and so we took a risk, and instead took a maiden voyage northwest – to the home of Grunge.

I’d never been to Seattle, hence the “maiden voyage” connotation, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. A disadvantage in living in such an awesome city as Chicago is that, at least in my experience with U.S. travel, it’s hard to find a city that’s remotely comparable. Nonetheless, we proceeded with an open mind that was only somewhat inundated with fear of rain.

Needless to say, I fell in love with another West Coast city. What does that mean?

Here are our chosen points of interest:

Woodinville. Take a day, rent a car, and get thee to the wineries. As my friend Todd said, I apparently don’t go anywhere if I can’t find a winery within an hour. I think he’s right. We didn’t load up like we did in Napa, but most importantly we started our trip off right :). Word on the street is that there are quite a few wine regions in the area, but we went for the close one. The tasty rosemary and sea salt flatbread below with the cozy fireplace? Columbia Valley.

Cafe Juanita, Kirkland. Anybody watch “The Next Iron Chef”? Chef Holly Smith, of Cafe Juanita, was an early loser but you wouldn’t know from the Northern Italian fare she puts out here. The octopus you see below isn’t from there, but from Chez Wetzel instead, and serves as my attempt at a recreation of her dish. I had the cutest little pasta dish, rabbit agnolotti, and could have cared less that we didn’t even get to eat until 9.

Pike Place Market. Flying fish? Fiddleheads? Locally made honey? Ten thousand types of pasta? I think I’ve made my point. Although I’m certain Hubs’ interest was quickly fading after the first 10 vegetable stands, I could have wandered for hours.

Theo Chocolate Factory. A factory – full of organic free-trade chocolate? Come to mama. I fell for the chai and coconut curry bars, but if those don’t suit your fancy they had about 20 other flavors, all with free samples. We didn’t even need that damn tour that sold out a week before we got there. Hmmmmph.

Poppy. We thought long and hard about going to Herb Farm but decided that spending 500 bucks on dinner was not in our best interests. That said, the owner of Poppy used to be the executive chef of Herb Farm and left a few years ago to open Poppy. Plus, this guy, he’s gonna be on Top Chef Masters, which was reason enough for me to check it out. The dishes, called ‘thali’, are Indian-style dishes with multiple small courses served all at once. And with naan. You can’t go wrong with naan, and you can’t go wrong when it’s 32 buckaroos for all of it. Although if you ask Hubs, he will swear the oysters he got for his appetizer did him in the next day, as he’s now proclaimed Jerry Traunfeld as Top Chef Masters’ “villain”.

Capitol Hill. Our B&B was up in this neighborhood, and it was the perfect distance from downtown, absolutely gorgeous, and owned by one ‘bear’ of a guy. The last person I’d ever expect to be running a B&B; I’d picture him chopping wood, donned in flannel, but nonetheless, he was awesome and we really hit it off. If you’re ever up in that area and in the mood for pizza, try Palermos, which I ended up ordering for take-out when Hubs was busy eating Walgreens’ version of Saltines.

Pioneer Square. Thanks to men being the weaker species :), I found myself wandering around sans Hubs for an afternoon, and landed in this little gem of a neighborhood, which I liken to Chicago’s Printer’s Row. It’s one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, and filled with historic buildings, tiny parks, and quaint shops. Also, Vietnamese sandwich shops.

Fonte. Another place I visited by my lonesome. Good wine flights and bruschetta, and a perfect downtown spot to read a book. Grab some coffee while you’re there, or get your beans packed up for home.

Seattle Public Library, Central Branch. One of the more modern buildings in the downtown area, with bright yellow escalators, tons of books (is that obvious?), and city views that aren’t half bad either.

Clearly, there is plenty to do in Seattle, and you could easily fill a weekend or even a week. But, before you venture to the good ol’ Northwest, a few words of advice:

If you have bad knees, please do take advantage of the bus system. Those hills are a doozy, and 1 mile really does take 20 minutes. Plus, the public transit rocks (meaning – it’s clean, it’s cheap, and it’s always on time).

Watch out for dreadlocks. There is no telling what’s under there, and you’ll see lots and lots of dreadlocks. Which I generally like, but this guy sorta scared me.

Also watch out for narcissistic doggies at the market. They lay in their cuddliness, collecting affection from passersby with ease. They can’t be trusted.

There are uncensored graphics at Starbucks. Starbucks??!! You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing boobies.

Speaking of coffee, drink loads of it because it’s damn tasty. Wear a coat with a tie so you can “double fist” but keep a hand free.

Don’t go up the Space Needle. It’s sorta lame, especially if you’ve taken the (free) trip up Chicago’s Hancock Tower, which has a much more awesome view. Plus, it’s super windy up there and the view from the bottom is way better.

Go alone. Your Hubs (or Wifey) will probably get sick from who knows what and have to stay in bed all day at some point during your trip. Just kidding, of course, but wandering the city alone was sorta fun, although copilots are always better. So if you are traveling solo, it’s totally doable.

Do not look for Jimi Hendrix’s statue. It isn’t there , and an empty spot with a wire sticking out is sorta lame. Although, I did some more research, and word on the street is that it is there and I missed it. Damn google maps for betraying me!

Do go on a hunt for a frequent Pearl Jam rehearsal spot behind the alley of the Crocodile Cafe. With Seattle being practically solely responsible for the birth of Grunge Rock, you’d do the city a disservice if you didn’t find something representative of that era. Plus, it is a cool door, eh? Even if you do have to wander in an alley to find it.

Try fiddleheads. They’re delightfully crunchy.

And go to Cafe Juanita and get the grilled octopus dish, or if all else fails, try this one at home.

Braised, Grilled Octopus with Fennel, Green Sauce, and Chickpea Puree
Inspired by Cafe Juanita; serves 2 as an appetizer

printable version

ingredients
1 small octopus (~1/2 lb); head removed
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 c red wine (I used an Italian blend)
1 c red wine vinegar
a few sprigs of thyme
1 clove garlic
1 handful of fresh parsley
1 T capers, drained
1 green onion
1/4 t red pepper flakes
fresh lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2-3 T milk or cream
fennel bulb (as much as you want), thinly shaved

instructions
octopus
preheat oven to 325 F. place trimmed octopus in medium pot and sprinkle with salt and a little pepper. pour red wine and red wine vinegar over and add thyme and garlic. cover and place in oven for about 30 minutes, until octopus is soft and tender, but not chewy. remove from liquid.

green sauce
meanwhile, in a mini processor, add parsley, capers, green onion, pepper flakes, and pulse. slowly pour in olive oil until a coarsely pureed. add 1/2 lemon’s worth of juice and season with salt and pepper. pour into small bowl.

chickpea puree
in the same processor (rinsed), add chickpeas and milk. puree until smooth, adding more milk if needed. season with salt and pepper.

putting it together
light a grill pan over med-hi and brush with oil. grill about 2 minutes on each side.

place half of green sauce on bottom of plate. top with half of chickpea puree, and top with half of octopus. gently toss fennel shavings in a little oil and the other half of the lemon’s juice and place atop octopus.