Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Sky's the Limit(?)

For the last few years, I've called Denver, Colorado "home." It's not a title I use lightly. I've lived in a lot of places: St. Catharines, a town outside of Niagara Falls; the suburbs of Toronto; Long Island, NY; downtown Montreal; Hong Kong; and Washington, D.C. I can't say I'm "from" Denver, but I do feel quite comfortable and centered here.

Denver is where Mr. Rose (who has also lived in a lot of places) and I came right after we left Washington D.C., which is the city that both of us had resided for the longest time in either of our lives. We bought a house in Denver. We bought a Subaru. We mounted a ski rack on the Subaru. I had to start wearing sunscreen (Mr. Rose who is pale as a sheet has always been diligent with sunscreen). We adopted a (third) dog. We adopted the Colorado lifestyle. This is home like no other place has ever been.

But. There are limitations to living in Colorado. "Ethnic" food usually means Mexican food. Figs on a plate are the thing to get at restaurants (just kidding... but aren't we just about sick of braised pork belly and/or roasted beet and goat cheese salads yet?). H Mart is the only Asian grocery you can get lost in and it's way the hell out in Aurora.

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Then, this morning, I came across this article in the New York Times and was reminded of these shortcomings. Flushing, N.Y. is home to the new Sky Foods Market. This ain't the kind of thing that existed in Flushing, N.Y. when I lived one county over in Long Island. It's 36,000 square feet of live frogs, duck gizzards, and noodles of every shape, size and flour, and it boasts a prepared hot food section, including its own sushi bar. I can picture the mind-boggling variety of fermented tofu and pickled... um... things. I can smell the livestock. I can imagine my hair getting frizzy as I walk through the aisles humidified by the tanks of crazy-looking fish begging me to eat them. Clearly, this place is totally awesome.

Google it, though, and you'll find some nay-sayers. As of today, two grammatically retarded reviewers on Yelp gave it 2-3 stars. And this entitled beyotch whined that it's not serious about "organic."


I'm seriously considering a weekend getaway to Flushing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another day in paradise (with quails, morels, and garlic scapes)

The kitchen renovations aren't quite done yet, but the Speakeasy Kitchen has been back up and running for weeks. Not surprisingly, after 5 months without a functioning kitchen, I enthusiastically went back to cooking, but had forgotten to blog about meal after meal (in part because the computer on which I blog has not yet been reinstalled in the kitchen).

Then came the weekend at J&M's cabin. You may remember this place. Perched on a hill at 9200 ft elevation, and surrounded by beautiful vistas, it's the perfect place to work up an appetite and then cook up a storm. In preparation for the trip, I acquired some quail and morels from Gilt Taste, threw them into a cooler with some locally-sourced heavy cream and garlic scapes, and made the ascent to paradise.
On this particular trip, we drove up through Eleven Mile Canyon, and went for a quick hike. J calls it "The Stairmaster Trail." It was a short but steep climb to some beautiful views.

After a dip and a brief nap on a rock in Eleven Mile River, we headed back to the cabin to make some dinner. M quickly rolled out some fettuccini. He is the master of all things dough and can whip up fettuccini for four in less time than anyone I know. It is M's fault that I cannot eat pasta out of a box anymore. He makes it look so easy (and makes it so tasty) that there is no reason -- not even time savings -- why anyone wouldn't just roll out their own pasta.
While M worked on the fettuccini, I cut up the morels and garlic scapes and made a cream sauce.
J kept busy by keeping our glasses full with pink champagne (ok, technically, it was from the Alsace region... whatever) and zesting the lemon for the quail, which I lightly pan-fried.
Once again, a delicious meal shared with great friends after a lovely day of fun in the sun. I can tell you how I made the meal, but remember that this meal is best shared with friends so you'll have to figure out that part on your own.

Pasta (this is my recipe -- not sure what M did, but there are lots of recipes out there so mess around with them however you like)
Serves 4-6
1 c semolina flour
1-1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp fine salt
3 large eggs
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp water

Mix the flours and salt together in the Kitchenaid mixer. Add the liquids and mix until the dough comes together with all ingredients well-blended. Add water 1 tsp at a time if it's too dry and won't hold together, or flour 1 tbsp at a time if it's too sticky. Then pull the dough out and knead it for a few minutes, pulling the dough out, folding it over on itself and flattening it out again. Cover with saran wrap (especially if you're in an arid climate) and let rest for 20 minutes. Then cut the dough up into 8 equal pieces, roll each piece into a ball, and flatten it out a bit so you can roll it through the pasta maker on the thickest setting. Fold into thirds and re-roll. Repeat 2 more times, then continue to roll, adjusting the roller to thinner settings until you reach your desired thickness. Then cut. Repeat for the remaining 7 pieces of dough. Toss finished pasta lightly with semolina so it doesn't stick to itself before you can cook it. Boil in a large pot of salted water for 1-2 minutes.

Morels and Garlic Scapes in Cream Sauce
3/4 lb morels, cleaned and cut into roughly equal sized pieces
10 garlic scapes, cut into 1" lengths
4 tbsp minced chives
1/4 c rose wine
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
1 c heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Saute scapes in 2 tbsp butter with a pinch of salt for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute till tender. Add wine and reduce for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside the scapes, mushrooms, and liquid. Heat remaining butter in the pan and add flour, stirring quickly and constantly, to make a roux. Add cream, then scapes and mushrooms along with any fluid that accumulated while they sat. Toss in chives, bring to a simmer, and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pan-fried Quail
6 semi-boneless quail, rinsed and patted dry
2 tbsp olive oil
grated zest of 1 lemon
coarse salt
freshly cracked pepper

Season both sides of the quail with salt, pepper and lemon zest. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Place the quail in the pan and let sit undisturbed for 3-4 minutes and when the quail skin is nicely browned, turn the quail over and let sit for another 3 minutes, or till nicely browned. Remove from the stove and tent with foil for 5 minutes.