Monday, October 22, 2007

hash browns

Was at Grizzly Manor Cafe in Big Bear, CA over the weekend. Sat strategically at the bar so I could see the cook prepping all the breakfast on a giant 5-burner griddle. This place has HUGE pancakes the size of a plate, big servings, local attitude, and reasonable prices.

Here's what I learned:

Omelette/Eggs: Chef scrambles in bowl, pours out as a flat sheet onto the griddle, about the size of a dinner plate. It bubbles up and cooks pretty fast. In the middle, he adds a pile of ham, a handful of cheese, then using two grill spatulas, flips the sides up on top. Total process was maybe 1-2 minutes.

Hash browns: hash browns come frozen in a transparent 1 or 2 gallon-sized plastic bag. Looks like potatoes, grated on the big holes on the grater into approx. 1.5" x 1/8" grated strips. Hard to tell, but it's possible that they were par-boiled in this form, then flash frozen. In any case, potatoes are as white as a sheet of paper. In any case, chef mashes the frozen bag to loosen them up, then pours them out on the griddle, evening them out into a fairly thin later, no more than 1" thick (easy to do on a giant griddle with a lot of surface area). Then using a ladle, pours what looks like oil or clarified butter (about 7 ladles full) over the mass. Flips the hash using two grill spatulas, as necessary, when it begins to brown.

Had sushi last Friday. I've become much more of a yellowtail fan: it tastes smooth, lightly buttery (not as much as tuna or salmon) and precisely clean. Yum!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lentils revisited

I have a newfound love for lentils. Ever since I made that lentil dish with bacon from the San Francisco Chronicle cookbook, I've enjoyed their earthy flavor and creamy texture. I've become much more of a legumes fan lately: chickpeas and white beans, both hot and cold, have been in quite a few recipes over the last few months. Maybe a cassoulet is in my near future! In place of the chorizo, you can sub kielbasa. Thanks ATK cookbook for another great recipe

Spanish-Style Lentils with Chorizo, Morcilla and Swiss Chard
Serves 4-6
Total prep time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:60 minutes
Total time:1hr 15min

1+1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz. spanish chorizo, sliced into rounds, 8 rounds reserved
8 oz. morcilla sausage (spanish rice sausage)
1 onion, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard, rinsed and separated: stalks sliced into 3/4" pieces, leaves sliced into 3/4" ribbons
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika (agridulce) or hot Spanish paprika (picante)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1.5 c. chicken stock
1.5 c. water

1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced into rings

1. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp. oil and sausage, and cook for 5 minutes to brown slightly and release some oil. Remove sausage.
2. Add remaining oil, onion and chard stalks, and saute for 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic, saute for 15 seconds, add paprika, chili powder and thyme and saute for 15 more seconds.
3. Add lentils, tomatoes, chicken stock and water to pot. Bring to boil, turn heat to low, cover, and cook for about 35 minutes. Lentils should already be a bit soft, with a tiny bit of tooth.
4. Add chard leaves and stir just to combine. Nestle sausage back into pot, cover, and cook covered over low heat for 10 more minutes.
5. Adjust salt, pepper and seasonings to taste. Serve with some crusty bread to sop up the sauce.