Routine

250ml Sicilian Nero d’Avola.

Like I mentioned, I had a drinking routine.

I would come home from work, make and photograph a Savoy Cocktail.

Attempt to get it blogged.

My wife would then get home from her work, and we would have a beer together.

After which, we would go out for dinner.

One of our favorite local pizza places is always busy and we’ve been going since it opened. As there is always a wait, the establishment let’s you hang out in a nearby bar and then they come and fetch you when your table is ready. We’d usually have another beer and play some pinball.

Well, they take the excuse to leave work and get a shot of Fernet, Jaeger, or Tequila at the bar, then tell you your table is ready. It’s a cozy arrangement.

So, by the time we’re finally in the restaurant and our salad arrives, we’re feeling pretty toasty. Of course, we then order a bottle of wine to split while we enjoy our dinner.

In January, I was trying not to drink, and so my wife just got wine by the glass. “Oh that is very healthy of you,” was the comment from the waiter.

Lately, we’ve taken to not drinking before dinner and then just ordering a carafe of wine to split with dinner, instead of a bottle. The waitress was downright Sarcastic with her comment about Carafes vs Bottles the last time we were in.

And it’s not even that they are grumpy that we are spending less, as often they would just charge us for two glasses, and serve us a whole bottle.

It’s like we’re letting them down. And, of course, they are now charging us full price for a carafe of wine.

Poor Man’s Cane Rosso

One of my big rules for myself is to buy chickens whole and break them down.

They are usually so much tastier and less dry.

In the summer I usually grill, but in the winter, I roast.

When, I roast chickens, I usually spatchcock them, rub with herbs and olive oil, place them on my oven’s broiling tray, and then convection roast at 375 F.

However, at a couple of Bay Area restaurants, they do a cool thing where they cook their potatoes under the rotiseries where they roast chickens. The potatoes become saturated with delicious fat and meat juices. Mmmmm…

Leaving aside any issues of cross contamination, and a lack of pan gravy, I wondered if I couldn’t do something similar. Anyway, unlike myself, Mrs Flannestad isn’t a big fan of gravy.

Roli Roti Chicken

Preheat your oven to 400F (375F if convection).
Spatchcock and rub your chicken with oil and spices as desired. Cut up your potatoes and toss with a little oil, salt, and pepper. I’ve discovered the potatoes need a bit of a head start on the chicken, so put them in the dripping pan of your broiling rack and place in the oven for 15-20 mins or until they start to cook. After 15 mins, move the potatoes around a bit and then place the chicken on the broiling rack. Put the broiling rack on top of the dripping pan and potatoes. Cook until desired degree of doneness is reached (internal temp of around 150F). Remove chicken to rest. Remove potatoes from pan, scraping to get all the good stuff, carve chicken, and serve with a salad or other vegetable.

Chicken Dinner

For bonus points, serve Persimmon Pudding for dessert with Mitchell’s Pumpkin Ice Cream.

Persimmon Pudding

Pork, Kraut, and Cider

“What do you want for New Year’s Eve Dinner? Lobster? Beef Tenderloin?”

“Not really.”

“How about Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Prunes, herbs, and chestnuts?”

This is kind of a joke, as I’ve made two dinners recently have involved prune stuffing of various small animals.

But, hm, Pork sounds like a good choice, maybe something like Charcuterie Garni, but not so complicated?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1/2 tsp juniper berries, 1/2 tsp caraway seed, 1/2 tsp aniseed ground and mixed with curing mixture of sugar and salt.

Smoked Salmon and Meyer Lemon Fromage Blanc

Smoked Salmon with Fromage Blanc mixed with meyer lemon zest, juice, and thyme.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

La Tur Cheese. So good!

Kraut Cider and Pork Chops

Brown the Pork Chops. Give the apples a slight head start in the oven with hard cider. When chops are browned, place in pan, cover with warmed kraut and cook until done.

Dinner

Dinner! Serve with some delicious hard cider and maybe roast winter squash.

Cider

Girl Music Geeks

As anyone who has worked in food service will tell you, oft times you get pressed into service making Food and/or drinks for your significant other and their friends.

Mrs Flannestad has a group of friends who also are really into music, and they get together from time to time to listen to music or watch concert videos.

This time they came over to our house, so I made dinner.

Beets!

One of my favorite winter vegetables, Beets, are great, and tomatero farms had some that were so great looking at the Alemany Farmers’ Market Saturday that I couldn’t resist. Though, it is good to float them past the attendees to make sure no one has had bad experiences in the past. Like cilantro, people often have strong opinions about beets. My favorite way to deal with them is just to wash them, wrap them whole in foil, and throw them in the oven until they are cooked through. When they are done, it is very easy to rinse them under running water and just slide the outside skin off the beets.

Mirepoix

I wanted to make Israeli Cous Cous, but our local grocery doesn’t carry it, so I opted for a type of italian pasta called riso instead. It is about the size and shape of rice and can be braised, just like arborio rice.

Spatchcocked!

I can’t remember what magazine I got this chicken recipe from. It’s kind of a ‘wet rub’, not dissimilar to some Mexican preparations for grilling. You roughly chop an onion and a couple cloves of garlic. Throw them in a blender with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt, a couple tablespoons of vinegar, fresh Marjoram, and a generous helping of good paprika. I like to use a mix of regular and smoked paprika. Then rub this over your whole, or Spatchcocked, chicken and let it stand. Grill or roast in a hot oven. Super tasty and super easy.

Greens!

For the riso dish, you basically do it like risotto. Put some stock on a low heat. Toast the riso in a pan with olive oil. Add some mirepoix and saute. Add stock to just cover and continue to cook until it is al dente. I added some saffron to the stock and cooked some thinly sliced collard greens to add later.

Roasted Beets

When the beets are tender, and you have skinned them, you can do whatever you like with them. I tossed them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. I made a simple sauce of yoghurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, dill, and scallions to serve with them.

Roasted Chicken

The marinade does get a little dark, but it is super tasty, the onions become sweet and really tasty.

Dinner

Deglaze the roasting pan, add some flour and cook. Stir in some chicken stock and you’ve got pan gravy. Cut your chicken into serving pieces.

Dessert

I’ve been into fuyu persimmons lately, often serving them with salads. This time I opted for dessert. Before dinner, I tossed them with sugar and balsamic vinegar and left them to macerate. To serve, I put a shortbread cooking into a bowl, a spoonful of Cowgirl fromage blanc with a drizzle of San Francisco Beekeepers’ Mission Honey, and then added the persimmons with the juice that had accumulated. Super easy and super tasty.

Then we all popped some beers, sat down, and watched the new Jonathan Demme Neil Young concert film ‘Journeys’.

A great night of music geekery, food, and beer.

Porkpourri

It’s funny, a lot of my friends got the Momofuku cookbook and the first thing they tried to make was the ridiculously complicated Ramen recipe.

To me, though, the first thing that stood out was the Bo Ssäm.

All you do is order a pork shoulder from your favorite butcher, say Avedano’s Holly Park Market. Make a sugar and salt rub for a pork shoulder.

Let it sit in your fridge for a day or two. I will warn you, the smell of the semi cured pork shoulder will draw neighborhood dogs. Ignore their pleading eyes and throw it in the oven at 300F.

Get the rest of your dinner in order, like a Plum Frangiapani tart from Mission Pie.

Baste the roasts every hour. Really, who needs air fresheners when you can slow roast a pork shoulder?

And something like 6 hours later, you have a delicious dinner. This was about half way.

Discussing exactly how much longer for the roast. Seemed pretty tender to the fork.

Have some friends over who know how to shuck oysters.

Get set up…

Have them teach you how to shuck.

Though you have to be careful not to stab yourself.

Get rolling on the shucking…

Have some friends over who make beer. My favorite comment of the evening: “You have no idea how hot it is watching my Jewish wife learn to shuck oysters.”

Heck, it never hurts to have a scientist around to remind you about the potential dangers of eating raw shellfish…

Unfortunately, after this things got a little greasy and somehow none of the rest of the photos turned out. Suffice it to say, a good time was had by all.

Bachelor Night 04

From Drop Box

People often get a little confused when they visit San Francisco in July and August. Generally, we have fog but haven’t had any real rain since February. So all the hills are parched and dry, yet it is often quite chilly and kind of damp.

From Drop Box

Any weekend morning usually starts with a walk to the top of Bernal Hill, from which you often has vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, or points South. Well, sometimes, unless it is summer. But there are usually a lot of nice people and dogs up there, so you take what you can get.

Well, I guess I painted myself into this corner. Even Mrs. Flannestad was telling me I had to rent “Sucker Punch” tonight. While it wasn’t super awesome, it was a pretty amazing translation of the action usually associated with a video game into a full length feature. As far as the summer crappy movie fiesta goes, as someone who has spent far too many hours of his adult life playing computer games, I’d put “Sucker Punch” in the middle, just in terms of personal enjoyment. It was sparkly. Strangely still giving Inception the crown, with Sucker Punch second, and Source Code last.

We had some leftover roast chicken from a dinner last night and it seemed like a comfort food kind of night. Chicken Tetrazzini. Make a Bechamel. Saute some vegetables. Boil some pasta. Mix them all together with the boned and diced chicken, cover with bread crumbs and bake until browned. Cocktail was a Hanky Panky. 1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth, 1 1/2 oz Dry Gin with a teaspoon of Fernet Branca built over ice. Lemon twist garnish.

Aside from my little cocktail project, one of my off and on projects has been to attempt to rip a portion of all our CDs to digital format (320kbps mp3, highest quality VBR). I have already finished most of the Jazz and World CDs, but I started on the “Rock” CDs recently. The Missus being away allowed me to spend some serious CD crunching time and I finally finished the first CD rack, as pictured, approximately 720 CDs, from Able Tasmans to fIREHOSE. And I got close to finally finishing the PC game Bioshock. Whee! I may finish it before Bioshock Infinite comes out!

Sometimes Monty has a hard time telling the difference between stuffed animals and dog toys.

Saturday Night Dinner, Feb 26, 2011

We’ve been big fans of Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher since our Wall Street Journal reading parents introduced us to them a number of years back.

Aside from being down to earth wine critics in a sea of pretension, they also have been the advocates of a tradition they call Open That Bottle Night. The idea being that a lot of times you need to get away from pointless hoarding of wine, it is often better drunk sooner, rather than later.

As part of the whole Open That Bottle ethos, they started organizing an annual “Open That Bottle Night” the last Saturday in February.


Dottie and John Share Their Thoughts on Open That Bottle Night

When we began writing our “Tastings” column for The Wall Street Journal in 1998, we tried to write an accessible column that answered the real questions that real people had about wine. Soon, we realized that the question we received most often was this: “I have a bottle of xxxx that I received from my grandfather (or saved from my wedding, or bought at a winery, etc.). When should I open it?” (The addendum was usually: “And how much is it worth?”) We told everyone the same thing: Open it this weekend and celebrate the memories. But we answered the same question so often that eventually we figured, jeez, let’s just set a date when we will all open that bottle together and celebrate the memories. We chose a Saturday in September 1999.

A few years ago, Mrs. Flannestad gave me their book, “Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage”, which is a wonderful memoir of a successful marriage accompanied with an appreciation for wine.

We always try to celebrate Open That Bottle Night a little, in the spirit of John and Dorothy, accompanying a bottle of wine we have been putting off opening with a tasty dinner.

Grilled 5 Dot Ribeyes. Red Wine and Black Trumpet Risotto. Rainbow Chard braised in a spicy tomato sauce.

This wine dates back to a trip Mrs. Flannestad took to the wine country with her parents, before we were married. In fact, it was on that visit to California that we told them we were going to be married!

What, you say they only do citrus supremes on Food Network? Nuh uh, we have them at Chez Flannestad! Tarocco Orange Supremes, to be exact.

One of the advantages to living in California is the occasional beautiful day in February, usually the first time we get out the grill for the first year. The short daylight, though, usually means grilling in the dark, which can be quite spectacular when working with Lump Mesquite.

Right, well the dinner turned out wonderfully, though I thought the steaks were cooked a bit beyond my “ideal”. Fortunately, Mrs. Flannestad enjoys hers a bit closer to “Medium”, so this pleased her. Learning to compromise is an important skill in a successful marriage!

Unfortunately, while the reminiscing over the bottle brought back happy memories of that trip to Napa 10 or 11 years ago, the wine itself was corked and mildewy tasting. After a bit of wishful thinking about whether the wine tasted better after “breathing”, we gave up. Yep, that’s a spoiled wine, all right.

Slight disappointment, but from John and Dorothy’s advice Mrs. Flannestad knew to be prepared for this possibility and had another wine picked out as backup!

Score!

BOTW–Foret

Groceries

With my new schedule, it’s kind of weird, I’m out of sync with what seems like the rest of the working world. Thursdays are the new “Fridays” and Fridays are the new “Saturdays”, and Sundays are the new “Monday”.

On Friday, I usually sleep in and spend my day doing errands, walking the dog, and then making dinner so I can have something ready for Mrs. Flannestad when she gets home from work.

On New Years, while at our friends’ house, we had worked together on making an excellent version of the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Hungarian Beef Stew.

It was rainy and a bit cold last “Saturday”, so it seemed like a good day for Stew.  Why not revisit the success of the Hungarian Beef Stew?

Beef Paprika Stew

It turned out tasty, but a bit odd texturally. There was a gritty character I’ve never experienced with Paprika seasoned stews. Unpleasant. The only thing I can figure is that the Spicely Paprika, which I’ve never used before, is weird. Either that or the bottle was half sand.

Broccoli Rabe

Fortunately, the Broccoli Rabe from River Dog farms suffered no such textural problems. Sauteed/braised with chiles, anchovies, garlic, and raisins, it was quite delightful.

Foret Label

One of my favorite not too funky Saisons is Foret from Saison Dupont. It is truly a delightful beer.

To be honest, it has a double “nostalgia” factor which gives it extra resonance.

Back in the day, Slanted Door used to be on Church Street in San Francisco. One of Mrs. Flannestad and my favorite things was to go there and split a 750ml bottle of Saison Dupont (or two) with our dinner of shaking beef, spring rolls, etc.

Life has rolled on in the last decade or so. Slanted Door has moved (twice!) and gone on to tremendous success. Unfortunately, they no longer carry the 750ml bottles of Saison Dupont at Slanted Door, but we do carry the smaller bottles of Foret at Phan’s new Chinese Food and Cocktails venue Heaven’s Dog.

Foret in a Glass

But why buy a small bottle, when you can buy a large one?  As far as I can tell, the big difference between Foret and Saison Dupont is that Foret is organically produced.  Stylistically they are quite similar, with all the wonderful hallmarks of a good Saison.

Dinner

Not entirely a successful Friday Night Dinner, but the Foret from Saison Dupont and Cabernet Sauvingon from Navarro somewhat salved my failure with the stew.

BOTW–Ommegang Abbey Ale

Ooof, been a while since I did a Beer of the Week Post!

Ommegang-3

We resume your regularly scheduled programming with an old favorite, Brewery Ommegang‘s Abbey Ale.

Ommegang-4

An American version of Trappist Ale, Ommegang Abbey was the first beer brewed by the Brewery and one of the first very good American beers in the Belgian “Dubbel” style. Sweet, but not cloying it is a great beer to serve with pork, duck, or other rich roasted meats.

Dinner.

2 Pork Chops.
2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and thinly sliced.
1/2 teaspoon Caraway Seed.
Sauerkraut.
1/4 # Pancetta.

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Sear Pork Chops in an oven proof skillet. Remove chops from skillet and skillet from heat. Toss apples with caraway seed and line the bottom of the pan with the apples. Place pork chops on top of apples. Cover with Sauerkraut. Pancetta on top of Sauerkraut. Place in oven until pork chops cooked through.

Remove pancetta from top and chop. Remove sauerkraut to bowl. Remove chops to plate. Toss apples, sauerkraut, and chopped pancetta. Spoon on top of chops and serve with roast potatoes and cold beer.

Dinner.

Say a Brewery Ommgang Abbey Ale!

Ommegang-2

Sweet Potato, Parsnip, and Tofu Curry

Another easy, old favorite. You can make it with any root vegetables you like.

You’ll need a couple sweet potatoes, a couple parsnips, tofu, an onion, 3 tomatoes, a few cloves of garlic, an inch piece of fresh ginger root and curry powder.

I usually make my own curry powder by toasting 1 teaspoon of whole fennel seed, cumin seed, fenugreek, coriander, mustard seed, cardamom, and 3 cloves over low heat in a dry pan on top of the stove. Once the mustard seeds start to pop, and the whole is quite aromatic, remove from heat, cool, and grind in a coffee grinder or spice mill. Add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, cayenne, and tumeric.

Cut up your veggies and tofu. Mince the garlic and ginger.

Heat a large pan very hot, add a bunch of oil of your choice, and add the garlic and ginger. Once those start to smell nice, add the onions and continue cooking until soft. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they more or less disappear. Add the root vegetables and half the curry powder. Add a bit of water or stock to loosen, cover and cook until the vegetables are close to done. Add the tofu and a bit more liquid, if necessary.

Serve with rice. A nice addition is some yoghurt thinned out with lemon juice and chopped fresh cilantro on top.