Champagne and what?

When a monk named Dom Perignon was making wine in 1693 and couldn’t get rid of the bubbles he reportedly tasted it and exclaimed “Come Quickly, I am drinking the stars!” he probably wouldn’t have imagined that 300 years later on a continent that hadn’t been discovered yet it would be poured as a pairing to fried chicken.

Yep, that’s not a typo.  Champagne and fried chicken.  An odd but yet delicious pairing with the chicken crust matched with bubbles.  Delicious.  So this has become a favorite indulgence and thanks to the addition of a Sous Vide stick from Sansaire and our growing collection of fantastic grower champagnes from Somm Select (they offer some amazing wines, new every day and well worth checking out) it’s become even easier to make an amazing feast.

Why Sous Vide?  Well I’m lazy, ok not really but I do like cooking off all the chicken in advance and Sous Vide is a great method for that.  Just season and bag up the chicken, drop it in a water bath for a few hours and go about your day.  Then when it comes time to fry all you’re really doing is re-heating the chicken and setting the crust.  This makes it easy to cook off a large batch of chicken quickly and consistently without having to worry about undercooking.

There are no shortage of recipes available for Sous Vide chicken or fried chicken but not as many that deal with Sous Vide Fried Chicken so I did some hunting around through the internet and our collection of cookbooks and came up with a method combining a few different recipes.

I really like Thomas Kellers Ad Hoc cookbook and many of the meat recipes involve brining in advance of cooking.  His fried chicken recipe is no different BUT I was in a hurry in this instance and didn’t have time to brine the chicken in advance so I tried to infuse some of the flavors from his chicken brine into the chicken during the sous vide cooking.  In this case I added sage, rosemary, lemon and some thyme into each bag of 3-4 pieces of chicken.  I seasoned fairly heavily, and in the end, result it worked pretty well, not as good as the brine but the chicken had some nice citrus and herbal undertones.

For the breading, I used a combination of flour with some onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and baking soda.  The chicken was already cooked so it was just a matter of dredging the chicken in the flour, then a dunk in buttermilk, then flour again before a quick fry of around 2.5 to 3 minutes at around 350 degrees.

Served warm with some great champagne and there you have it.  A delicious meal and fantastic yet unexpected wine pairing.

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Spanish Table class

It may seem like the only place we go anymore is The Pantry, and you may be right – but everything we’ve done there is so good!  so, we keep going back – last night was Spanish Table and it definitely met our expectations.

grilled green onions dipped in garlic Hazelnut romesco – this dish was fun to make because we got to go outside and use the big grill, enjoying our appetizer in the frsh air with a glass of wine thanks to the well-timed sunbreak.

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honey and red wine-braised chorizo with manchego and crusty bread – and easy yummy upgrade to the usual bread & cheese platter.  This will definitely join the rotation for summer.

roasted rice with rabbit, chickpeas, and grilled lemons – fresh off his lam butchery class, BK dismantled one of the rabbits for class.

and cinnamon-cream cheese crème Catalan-similar to flan, but with some cream cheese to add some extra body, and using maple syrup to make it easy.

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Ceviche class

For BK’s birthday we booked a Ceviche class over at the Pantry with M & JJ and it did not disappoint.   The class was well-organized and every recipe seems like one we could easily recreate at home – perfect timing for summer in Seattle!

First, we mixed up the Ceviche Verde so it could sit and “cook” while we worked on everything else – this one was made with Yellowtail and is traditionally served with saltine crackers.

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Then we started pulling together pieces for all the others –

Aguachile de Callo de Hacha (aka scallops)

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Tostadas de Atun

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and Hearts of Palm Ceviche (vegetarian)

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I really liked all them fairly equally – the hearts of Palm version makes a nice appetizer/summer side dish.  The scallop one was light, the Ceviche Verde was so fresh, and the tostadas were yummy with the avocado, chipotle mayo and fried leeks.  Can’t wait to try all these at home!

Dinner at n/naka

Hadn’t had a big splurge dinner in awhile, but with a Saturday night in LA, MK managed to secure us a spot at n/naka – if you haven’t watched Chef’s table yet, be sure to check out this episode:  Niki Nakayama is one of the only female Kaiseki chefs in the world.

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We thought we would get a menu at the end of the meal so we didn’t take notes – and then we didn’t get a menu, so I don’t remember exactly what some of these were.  But a sample menu can be viewed here, and some are the same.  Otherwise, just enjoy the pics!

Saki Zuke :  (A PAIRING OF SOMETHING COMMON AND SOMETHING UNIQUE)

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Zensai   (SEASONAL INGREDIENTS PRESENTED AS AN APPETIZER)

GRILLED SQUID STUFFED WITH SNOW CRAB SQUID INK SAUCE, FRIED RENKON LOTUS ROOT WITH LOBSTER

BLACK COD MARINATED MISO, TUNA AVOCADO

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Modern Zukuri :  (MODERN INTERPRETATION OF SASHIMI)

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Owan “Still Water” :  CLAM, SEAWEED, GINGER, CARROT, KAIWARE, DASHI

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Otsukuri :  (TRADITIONAL SASHIMI)    O-TORO, KAMPACHI, KINMEDAI, SHIGOKU OYSTER, NAMA TAKO

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Yakimono (GRILLED)

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Mushimono/Agemono  (STEAMED/FRIED)      CHAWAN MUSHI WITH SNOW CRAB, SHITAKE, MITSUBA

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Shiizakana   (NOT BOUND BY TRADITION, THE CHEF’S CHOICE DISH)

SPAGHETTINI WITH ABALONE, PICKLED COD ROE, BURGUNDY TRUFFLES

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Niku   (MEAT COURSE)   JAPAN MATSUZAKA WAGYU BEEF A5      (Halibut for me & JJ!)

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Sunomono

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Shokuji   (RICE DISH- SUSHI)

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Dessert

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Dinner was delicious – so fresh, well-paced, great combinations, excellent wine & sake pairings. Highly recommended.

Kuma

Our last night in Tofino we too k a break from campground cooking and enjoyed a nice meal out in town on a super rainy night.  We had spotted the sign for Kuma upon a couple days ago when we arrived and were intrigued by “Japanese Comfort Food.”

We started with cocktails, both delicious – the Yuzu Smash (Bourbon, Mint, Yuzu) and their seasonal.  The Yuzu was the winner.

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For dinner we shared a few plates – first up TAKO TATAKI (local sous vide octopus. cabbage. pickled daikon. ponzu).  Really nice texture, cooked well:

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Next, SPICY SALMON BOWL (local sashimi sockeye salmon. daikon. spicy teriyaki sauce. pickled ginger. avocado. rice):

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One of the best OKONOMIYAKI (Osaka style cabbage pancake. bacon. cheddar. Japanese mayo. tonkatsu sauce. bonito flakes) I’ve had, full of flavor:

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Lastly, MISO TOFU (torched tofu. green onion. ginger. bonito flakes. soy), great texture & flavor:

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what an unexpected treat!

Grilled Zucchini & Leeks with Walnuts

In our next installment of cooking with walnuts, we have this side dish I tried out during for a dinner party a couple weeks ago.  Overall tasty, but the leeks were a little chewy and could have spent more time on the grill.

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Ingredients
•1/3 cup walnuts
•1 garlic clove, finely grated
•2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
•5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
•Kosher salt
•Freshly ground black pepper
•2 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise with some root attached
•2 large zucchini (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise
•1/2 cup (lightly packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Toast walnuts in a dry small skillet over medium heat, tossing often, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Chop very coarsely. Toss warm walnuts with garlic, lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Brush leeks and zucchini with remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables, turning often, until tender and charred in spots, 5-8 minutes for leeks, 8-10 minutes for zucchini.

Transfer vegetables to a cutting board. Trim roots from leeks and cut leeks and zucchini into bite-size pieces. Add vegetables and parsley to bowl with walnuts and toss to combine; season vegetables with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.

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