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January 2011

January 24, 2011

Share Our Strength Close-out, and an Alinea Casserole (oh yeah, I went there)

First things first; the numbers are in: you donated $19,656 to Share Our Strength.  THANK YOU!  I am humbled by your generosity, and incredibly grateful for your support of this cause.  You know, there's so much talk in the news these days about the need for civil discourse in politics coupled with a plea for toning down the caustic rhetoric in Washington, and I'm here to tell you -- as someone who works in the trenches -- that things in the political arena are the same as ever, and actually starting to get worse.  But what you guys did?  It makes me really hopeful about humanity in general, not to mention reaffirms my belief that great people do great things and THAT is what makes this world go around.  Seriously, thank you.  I'm honored to know you all.

All the winners of the giveaways have been notified, confirmed, and their goodies are on the way.

Everyone give a big round of applause (and a jealous side-eye, because I know you want to) to Tom Norwood, the winner of dinner for four at Alinea.  Tom and his fiancĂ©e are taking two of their friends to dinner, and I can't wait to hear all about it.

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Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas wrote a(nother) book.  It's called Life, on the Line, and it's due out March 3rd.  You can pre-order it on Amazon, and you can check out the website for the book, which has some great photos, interviews, and excerpts from some of the chapters.  I can't wait for you to read it when it comes out.  I'll be giving away a few copies here on the site in March, so stay tuned.

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Earlier I mentioned how not civil politics is these days.  I've lived and worked in Washington for nearly a quarter-century, and this is the most contentious, testy, frustrating, and head-banging-against-desk-ing it's ever been.  My clients are fantastic, and working with them is intensely rewarding.  However, the climate in which we have to work is so much more challenging and vexing than it's ever been -- this applies to both sides of the aisle -- and at the end of every single day, I'm exhausted. 

To top it off, it's January... which is a hard food month for me.  I love comfort food, but I'm tired of soup.  I love root vegetables, but if I see another potato, turnip, beet, or squash, I'm going to scream.  I really, really miss my January favorites pre-celiac: grilled-cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and lasagne.  Yes, I can make all these things with gluten-free ingredients, but trust me: they don't and will never taste as good as the real thing.

So, a week or so ago, to get myself out of this work and food funk, I gloomily and grumpily opened the Alinea cookbook to the next recipe I'd planned to do for the blog: Salsify, smoked salmon, dill, caper.

Here are the components of the dish: salsify, olive oil, picholine olives, bread crumbs, parsley, lemon, smoked salmon, capers, ginger, red onion, garlic, dill, radish.  There's a lot of powder making, dehydrating, emulsifying... things I already know how to do, so I knew it wouldn't be difficult to make this dish exactly as it is in the book.

And yet, I couldn't do it.  I wasn't feeling it.  I wanted something different.  Something with many of those ingredients, but not. that. dish.  And to make matters worse, I've been turned off by smoked salmon lately.  It's too overpowering, and I just don't enjoy the flavor of it anymore.  That might change, of course, but for right now, the last thing I wanted was to eat smoked salmon. 

So, I opened the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and pulled out salsify, olive oil, picholine olives, gluten-free bread crumbs, parsley, lemon, capers, red onion, garlic, dill, and radishes.  Then, I saw a bag of wild rice on the shelf.  And leftover Vasterbotten cheese from the Noma dish I made in the cheese drawer in the fidge.  And a whole chicken in the freezer.  And all of a sudden, it hit me: I was going to make a casserole.

My friend, David Hagedorn, wrote about his newfound love and acceptance of casseroles in a recent Washington Post piece, and I saved that article because I wanted to try some of his ideas.  So, I quickly scanned his recipes to figure out my ratios, and started chopping, sauteeing, roasting, and baking, and lo, a casserole was born:

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I'm not much for proper recipe writing, so here's a rundown of what I did:

Into a mixing bowl went:

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 C cooked wild rice

Half a red onion, diced and caramelized

Roasted chicken pulled off the bone (white and dark meat), chopped/shredded

8 salsifies, peeled, sliced, roasted w/ olive oil and salt

Small handful of capers

10 Picholine olives, pitted and chopped

Fresh parsley, chopped

Fresh dill, chopped

A Vasterbotten cheese sauce (butter and rice flour for the roux, then the cheese and some milk)

Salt and pepper to taste

I folded all the ingredients together, then gently pressed them into the casserole dish, topping them with butter-soaked gluten-free tortilla bread crumbs.

Baked it in a 375F-degree oven for about 20-25 minutes.

I put some fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon atop my serving before digging in.

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It completely and totally hit the spot, and cheered me up rather unexpectedly.  I'm glad I went with chicken instead of smoked salmon, and think you could maybe even make this with canned salmon (old school!) or maybe some fresh arctic char as the protein and it would be really good.

I've since taken all the leftovers and put them in single-serving containers in the freezer.  That way, when I leave early in the morning for a marathon day of meetings, I can move a container of it from the freezer to the fridge to thaw, and then when I get home, warm it in the oven while I take the dog out for a quick walk when I get home.

Wait.  What did I just say about a dog?

Some of you might remember Jake.  I still miss that little guy.

But last week, a new little guy found his way into my home. 

Meet Dexter (we call him Dex, or Dexy, because helllooooo, Dexy's Midnight Runners):

Photo

So, to recap:

You guys are awesome.

I adapted a recipe from one of the world's greatest restaurants and turned it into a freakin' casserole.

My dog is cute.

The end.

 

January 17, 2011

Bad dancing? Let me show you it.

   

The Alinea at Home Share Our Strength fundraising campaign has officially ended.  In the next few hours, I'll have the final total from the team at SOS.

Watch your email this week to see if you're one of the lucky winners of the many generously donated prizes, including dinner for four at Alinea.

Once all the winners have been notified and confirmed, I'll announce everything here on the blog.

Stay tuned....

And, THANK YOU.

January 14, 2011

Noma: I cooked from it.

I cooked from the Noma cookbook, and lived to tell about it.

You can read all about it here:

The Washington Post: "Tales of the Testers: What About 'Noma?"

And, some photos, in case you're interested:

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January 09, 2011

Oh man......

Technical difficulties on every front.

My dancing-along-to-Michael-Jackson video coming later this week.

Noma cookbook blog post coming soon, too.

Oh, and an interesting adaptation of a dish from the Alinea cookbook.  I did a bit of time travel and retro-fied it.

But alas, none of my technology will talk to each other, so I need some time to sort everything out and get these posts ready for primetime.  Thanks for being patient with me.

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We're in the homstretch of the Share Our Strength fundraising campaign -- which ends as soon as the clock strikes midnight on January 16th.  This is your last week to donate -- $5, $500, whatever you can give -- to have a chance to win dinner for four at Alinea, along with some other pretty cool prizes.

We've raised more than $18,000 in donations so far.  Think we can get to $20,000?  I might have to do the Macarena on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial if y'all get us over $20,000.  It's totally what Abe would've wanted, don't ya think?

 

January 03, 2011

I did somersaults in front of the U.S. Capitol

 

But wait.  There's more.

I heard from the team at Share Our Strength late last week, and guess what?!?!  In just three weeks, you all have donated more than $15,000!!!  So, not only have we exceeded the $10,000 goal, this means that one of you will win dinner for four at Alinea.

This campaign continues until January 16, so you have until then to donate if you haven't already.

Coming soon:

My experiences cooking from the Noma cookbook; and

A video of me dancing to The Michael Jackson Experience on my neighbor's Wii.

But for now, a heartfelt THANK YOU.

Back soon...

 

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  • I'm cooking my way through the Alinea Cookbook. Because I can. I think.

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