Monday, March 14, 2011

UnRecipe: Getting My Crave On

I'm back! I'm back!! Two weeks off and time in the Aloha State and what do I return with....? Mainland comfort food post. OK, so what I'm really doing right this second is photo editing and writing like a maniac to whittle down all the sights, smells, tastes and experiences of my last Hawaii trip into something that actually makese sense. At least something that sounds better than: Went to Hawaii. It was awesome. The end. Not cutting the Dijon mustard, is it? So, please bear with the Prime and enjoy this moment of in-the-moment cooking, as I tackle specific food and flavor cravings.

Another instance where rice, does indeed, make it nice - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I will say this, my idea of curry is very different from Hawaiian or Japanese curry, which is quite similar as they're usually on the sweet side and more like a beef stew with less complex spices. Living in an area with access to tasty Indian food, I've developed an appreciation and craving for those spices. When I'm feeling a curry craving, I like throwing together all the odd mixes of fragrant spices together and letting the magic of coconut milk bring everything together. The last time I made curry, I was wanting something especially fragrant, so I made a batch of jasmine rice that steamed in water and coconut milk, and then tossed the steamed rice with fresh cilantro leaves. The curry was the usual mish-mash of spicy, slow-cooked goodness, but in this case, the rice actually was the main attraction, as the steaming in coconut milk really made for a rich and delicious addition to the dish.

Holy Frites, this was tasty - photo by Wasabi Prime

One of my favorite guilty pleasure dishes is getting the steak and blue cheese fries at The Elysian in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of downtown Seattle. It's that dish of  flavor/texture favorites: thick cheesy sauce, thick pieces of steak, piled over crispy French fries. God bless America, and don't schedule a cholesterol test that week. I had a really specific hankering for this dish one week, so I made an at-home version. I seared some flank steak and sliced it thin. From the pan drippings, I started a basic bechamel sauce, but thickened it with chunks of blue cheese. In the oven, I roasted a pan of diced sweet potatoes that were seasoned with salt, pepper and some cayenne for extra heat. While not true French fries, it still provided a nice crispy bed of starch to layer the steak and cheese sauce over it. Is this a healtheir version? Hell, no. But did it help still the voice sounding like Audrey II, begging, "Feed me, Seymour?" Yes, it did. And I didn't even need to throw Steve Martin as a sado-masochistic dentist into a man-eating plant to make it happen.

A new segment titled: Wait, Wait, I Can Fix It! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

One night I could not deny the Call of the Wild Chocolate Chip Cookie. What, you never heard of Jack London's more obscure tale of cookie baking in the wild Alaskan frontier? Jeeze... read a book now and then, why dontcha... Acts of literature-besmirching aside, I have been known to do late night cookie baking. It's always chocolate chip cookies as those are my favorite. Nothing fancy, just the standard Toll House recipe that's on the chocolate chip packaging and I always have the basics sitting around. On this particular occasion, the craving was there, but the Toll House brand was not. I had some generic chocolate chips in the pantry and followed their basic recipe to cookie PFAIL! I should have listened to the voice in my head that said, "there's too much brown sugar in that recipe." But I ignored it, along with the other comments that voice makes about worshipping Satan or eating lead paint chips. Apparently one out of every three insane inner-voice comments is, in fact, correct. The cookie batter for the first batch ran like soup. The cookies finished baking, but super-thin and they all stuck together looking more like chocolate chip Pangea. So along with this event being a chocolate chip cookie craving, this became a Wait, Wait, I Can Fix It! event. Which is to say, I took the remainder of the dough into a baking dish with a criss-cross of parchment paper lining the inside, and threw it all into the oven. They baked off fine as chocolate chip cookie bars, and cutting them into little squares, you'd never know what a hot mess they initially were.

Stay tuned, dilligent readers. If you read through all that crazy mess, I again promise to post about Hawaii very soon!! In the meantime, if you haven't already tracked down a favorite charity that's providing humanitarian aid to help Japan in the wake of one of the worst natural disasters of record, please consider going to the American Red Cross website and giving what you can. The money you save by cooking at home versus going out to eat could help some people in serious need of aid!
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  1. Whoa nelly that steak dish looks AMAZING! Must try it!

  2. Love it! Especially the "Call of the Wild" bit! Hehe.

  3. Hi wasabi, welcome back! All of these dishes look great but since I am suffering a massive sweet tooth right now the chocolate chip cookie bars are where it's at.


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