Well, what with the world ending on the 21st of May and all, Mrs. Flannestad and I were talking about what we would want for our last meals.

We’re not huge fans of overly rich foods, so no Foie for us, thank you.

To be honest, one of my favorite dinners is fairly simply roasted chicken with a salad and risotto.

I suggested it, Mrs. Flannestad said, “Make it so!”

I learned this risotto dish on from an actual Italian. Steep some dried mushrooms (I used Chanterelles) in hot water. Remove soaked mushrooms from soaking liquid and reserve liquid. Mince mushrooms. Trim and clean your asparagus. Break off the tips. Steam (or blanch) the stalks. Prepare an ice bath. When the stalks are tender, drop them in the ice bath to stop them cooking and set the chlorophyll. Puree the stalks in a blender with some of the soaking liquid from the mushrooms. On a stove, combine pureed asparagus with the rest of the soaking liquid and some water, chicken, or veggie stock over low heat. Brunoise a half an onion and a half a carrot (some like to use leeks or celery instead, so the carrot color doesn’t distract). Heat a heavy pan large enough to contain your risotto. Add oil and 1 cup risotto. Cook until it is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the onion and carrot and sautee briefly. Add enough warm stock to cover the rice. Simmer, adding liquid as it is absorbed until the rice is just a little firm to the tooth. Stir in the minced dried mushrooms. In a separate pan, saute the asparagus tips. Stir a little finely grated parmesan (or other tasty cheese) into the risotto. Add some finely minced fresh herbs, (like Marjoram or Oregano,) and adjust seasonings. Fold in aspargus tips. Serve and grate a little more grated parmesan cheese.

Spatchcocked the chicken (as usual from Avedano’s), rubbed it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs. Roasted in a convection oven at 400 degrees F until done.

Russian River Damnation, of course.

Damnation: In the great beer producing country of Belgium, some brewers have made it a tradition to give their beers an unusual name. Sometimes the name is curious, now and then it is diabolical and other times it is just plain silly. Damnation is our brewmaster’s interpretation of a Belgian style Strong Golden Ale. It has extraordinary aromas of banana and pear with mouth filling flavors of sweet malt and earthy hops. The lingering finish is dry and slightly bitter but very, very smooth.

7.0%ABV / 1.068 O.G / 25 BUs

Salad with not so great tomatoes (it’s too early in the year) and balsamic vinaigrette.

True Confession: For many years I overdressed my salads and over seasoned my salad dressing.

Hey, I grew up in the midwest, and really the lettuce was more of a garnish for the syrupy salad dressing and accoutrements of the salad. The idea that you’d want to actually taste the greens was foreign.

However, since moving to California, we’ve had a lot of good salads, and I’ve realized simpler is better, when it comes to dressing.

I’ve actually read a bunch of classic cook books, and its interesting that garlic is never really an ingredient in the actual salad dressing. Usually what is suggested is that you rub a garlic clove into the salad bowl before making the dressing and tossing the salad.

I’ve started adopting that, though I don’t have a big wooden salad bowl.

What I do is put a little kosher salt in the bottom the bowl, then I rub the garlic clove in that. Sort of making garlic flavored salt. Then I rub any garlic sticking to the clove and discard the clove. To the seasoned salt, I add the ingredients for the salad dressing. Finally toss the leaves in the dressing. I’m still working on dressing my salads less, but this ends up giving you salads that taste more of your ingredients and less of raw garlic.

Pulling out the big guns, Radio Couteau La Neblina, 2007.

Spanish for “fog,” la neblina rolls in from the Pacific Ocean to blanket and cool the coastal Pinot Noir vineyards of western Sonoma County. Aged on primary lees for 15 months, this cuvee is a blend from four truly coastal vineyard sites where this classic vintage was captured. The core of this blend is from vines planted in the Goldridge soils of the Sebastopol Bench along Gravenstein Highway 116. We fermented with 10% whole cluster in 2009 to add tannin complexity, structure, and spiciness.

Salad with Tomatoes and vinaigrette, Asparagus Risotto, Spatchcocked Chicken, Damnation, Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Mrs. Flannestad. Life is good!

BOTW–Double Trouble & Chilayo

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

When I was growing up, my sister and I weren’t really allowed into the kitchen. Basically, about the only things we were allowed to do were load and unload the dishwasher and decorate Christmas cookies. Especially since the family roles were very traditional, even if I displayed some interest in cooking, men were really only allowed to grill things outdoors in our house.

Consequently, I was sent off to college with very little idea of how to feed myself. I survived the first couple years on dorm food, Ramen, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

But then I went and spent what little money I had saved on Comic Books and Records, so I had to get a job. I also needed to an apartment outside of the dorms, so I didn’t have to spend summers at home with my parents.

I really don’t remember how I ended up getting a job at Brat und Brau, I don’t think it was anything more than a random job application submission. Anyway, after they determined that I was unsuited for service work, I was assigned to the job of getting the dining room in order for lunch service, including setting up the salad bar and popping the corn.

Somehow, I parlayed this experience at Brat und Brau into a job as a prep cook in the catering department of a local deli chain.

It was there that I realized that I really enjoyed cooking. I mean at first I didn’t make anything more complicated than my typical bachelor food: fried potatoes with bacon, eggs, and cheese, but I sort of sunk into it and started to absorb the business and culture.

I’d always felt a bit like an outsider, and the people at the catering company were people I felt more comfortable with than a lot of the friends I had grown up with. They were outsiders. In the 1980s and 1990s, cooking was not yet really a reputable career, and my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with this new direction. I even tried to drop out of college my junior year and just cook, but they wouldn’t let me, “We’ve paid for your tuition this far, you WILL graduate.”

Anyway, I did eventually graduate, with a lovely and useful Bachelor of Arts in English, but as soon as I had finished college, I went into cooking full time at a local Southwestern Restaurant.

At the Southwestern restaurant, I was initially thrilled, this was really good food. Or, well, it seemed to be at the time. But then I started reading about actual Southwestern and Mexican Food, Mark Miller and Diana Kennedy were my first two big authors, and realized what we were serving was, well, not that good. A mishmash of Italian-American comfort food and Southwestern food, even though we were using decent ingredients, it bore no resemblance to any of the dishes I made from Ms. Kennedy nor even Mr. Miller.

Along with the early influences of Ms. Kennedy, Mr. Miller, and the Chinese Food Books of Nina Simonds, one of the people who has been most influential on me later in life is Alton Brown.

I always really like people who get down to the basics and demystify things that seem too complicated. Or, well, things that other people have made seem too complicated. Sure, cooking is complicated, but there are methods which allow us to understand it, and even generally end up with predictable outcomes.

I really like that he has always been on the side of demystifying food from a technical perspective, but not only that, but that he has championed American Food and Food Culture. He even seems like a sensible man.

I recently learned that Alton Brown has decided to stop producing new episodes of his Good Eats show on the Food Network, after a mere 249 segments and something like 10 years. Get sad about the end of a TV show? Especially one on the Food Network? Seems a little pathetic. But, I am. You can make fun of me now.

The first beer this week, is the Orchard White from the Bruery.

Orchard White is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned Belgian-style witbier. This hazy, straw yellow beer is spiced with coriander, citrus peel and lavender added to the boil and whirlpool. A spicy, fruity yeast strain is used to add complexity, and rolled oats are added for a silky texture.

I didn’t read the label at first, and was like, “What’s that flavor?” Put on my glasses, checked the fine print. Oh right, Lavender. Well, at 5% ABV or so, the Orchard White is easy drinking and enjoyable. Spiced Wit Beers are not generally my favorite Belgian style, but this isn’t bad, despite the Lavender, maybe on a hot day, when you’re feeling a little floral. Interestingly, I recently read that the Bruery is reorganizing its beer production and varieties, and to make room for other things in its schedule will be discontinuing the Orchard White.

Monty, however, is not impressed, with all this boring monkey talk about beer and food preparation. Until all this blah blah is over, he will be waiting on his chair at the table.

The second beer is Hops on Rye from Firehouse Brewing. I really know zilch about this beer and brewery other than a friend recommended it to us. Looks like it is brewed at a sports bar chain which has locations in East Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. The beer isn’t bad, a Rye based IPA, but I think Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye is a more, uh, elegant example of this style. Mrs. Flannestad enjoyed it more than I, it seemed just a little unpolished to me.

One of the first dishes I made from Diana Kennedy’s “Art of Mexican Cooking” was a pork stew called Chilayo. Like most Mexican dishes, there’s a bit of semi-labor intensive prep on the front end, and then its pretty easy. Preheat your oven to 300. Basically, soak some chiles in boiling water, then puree them with onions, garlic, and spices. While that is going on, cut up some pork stew meat (this was a very nice piece of Kurobota pork shoulder from Avedano’s Holly Park Market), pour warm water (or stock) over it, start it simmering. Add the pureed chiles and a half pound of quartered tomatillos. Cover and move to the oven and cook until the pork is tender. I served it with Rancho Gordo Cranberry Beans (cooked with a ham hock), Plain Brown Rice, spicy braised chard, and warm corn tortillas.

Definitely Good Eats.

BOTW–Hop Off!

First, just a reminder that Sunday, April 24, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

French Style Potato Salad.

Most potato salad in the US is made according to the mayonnaise dressed model. Another tasty way to make Potato Salad is, according to Julia Child, more French. I am not an expert in French Cuisine, so I cannot say. I do, however like this kind of Potato Salad. What are the characteristics? Start some potatoes boiling or steaming. While that is happening, make the dressing, (or maybe Marinade is a better term,) by finely mincing some shallots and herbs (Fresh Tarragon FTW! Fresh Dill is also great!). Splash in a little White Wine or Sherry vinegar, olive oil, a teaspoon of coarse mustard. Liberally dash in Salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the potatoes are just barely cooked, drain them and toss them in the marinade. Allow to stand for a bit, check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature. I embellished this version by also including steamed green beans along with the potatoes. Very tasty.

I like to add things to hamburgers.

Different people have different philosophies on Hamburgers. Are they just beef or do you season them? Fabio Viviani got dinged for hamburgers which were too much like, “Meat Loaf,” by the judges on this year’s Top Chef Season. Personally, I like to skirt the edge of Meat Loaf by adding some bread crumbs and seasonings.

Flannestad Hamburgers: In a large bowl wet a couple tablespoons of bread crumbs with wine and olive oil. Finely mince a couple cloves garlic and a teaspoon of onions. Decide on a regional seasoning theme. I like Spain lately, and season with Spicy Smoked Paprika, Thyme, and Oregano. Add a pound of ground beef and knead lightly until combined. Divide into three patties. Before cooking season with salt and pepper.

These Ledbetter’s English Muffins are my current favorite Hamburger Buns. However, they are a little thick, so I like to take about an eighth of an inch out of the middle when cutting them for burger accessories.

Wherein I deviate from my commute in search of beer.

The other Friday I was at work and remembered that we needed more beer at home. However, after a few years I have exhausted most of the typical choices at the two nearest stops on my commute. I thought to myself, “Man it would be awesome if there was some way I could stop off at one of this cities great bottle shops for some unusual beers on the way home.” Then I saw a comment from the manager of local bottle store Healthy Spirits, and thought to myself, “Wait, if I took the 6 MUNI Bus to Haight and Divis, then walked to Healthy Spirits, I could get some tasty beer. Then, the 24 MUNI Bus stops right in front of the store and takes me all the way to Cortland Avenue! Score! Cool beer, and it probably won’t take any longer than usual.”

I had been drinking dark beers recently, so I asked for a selection of Hoppy beers, thinking Mrs. Flannestad and I could do a bit of a taste off among a few we hadn’t yet tried.

Sierra Nevada, Hoptimum

A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put —Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas.

Mr. Flannestad: I liked this, but found the finish a tad overpoweringly bitter for my liking.

Mrs. Flannestad: The most hoppy delicious beer of the evening. Winner and Grand Champeen!

Drake’s, Hopocalypse IIPA – 9.3% ABV, 100+ IBUs

Large amounts of American two-row malt and English Pale malt are combined with Vienna, Rye & Crystal malts, then balanced with German magnum, Simcoe & Chinook hops. Then, of course, we then dry hop it with additional Simcoe & Chinook. Finally, this deep orange monster is loosely filtered to keep the integrity of the malt and hops in tact. Enjoy the massive aromatic revelation and prophetic flavor of this beer now and forever after.

Mr. Flannestad: I seem to remember finding Hopocalypse my favorite of the evening, just enough hops to balance out the malt.

Mrs. Flannestad: Tasty, but a little too over-hopped to take the lead.


Humlemord er en ølserie, hvor vi bruger så store mængder humle, at vi kalder det humlemord. Facts om Passion of Hops: OG: 1104 FG: 1030 Alkohol 9,9% vol.Brygget d. 11. december 2009, tappet d. 8 februar 2010, IBU 160. Indhold 33 cl.Brygget på malt, vand, gær, sukker, humle (Sorachi, Amarillo, Chinook, Simcoe, Columbus, Palisade) Ufiltreret og upasteuriseret Bør opbevares mørkt og køligt. Mindst holdbar til: 10. marts 2012

Mr. Flannestad: This was kind of weird, not a great fusion of Belgian and American styles. More interesting than outstanding.

Mrs. Flannestad: I had high hopes for this one as I smuggled it home for Mr. Underhill from Denmark. The woman in the shop in Copenhagen told me that the translation was “HOP MURDER” so I was very intrigued.  However, the additional aging spent waiting for this HOPPY occasion was not kind to the carbonation. Note to self: drink souvenir beer immediately after landing in celebration of making it home alive.

Burgers were grilled over lump mesquite and garnished with arugula, tomato slices, and sauteed onions.

Firestone Walker, Double Jack

Double Jack IPA is our first ever Imperial IPA. It features a big malty middle to cloak the high alcohol and mouth puckering hop bitterness. Huge tangerine, grapefruit and juicy fruit aroma blossom over the herbal blue basil and malt earthiness of this aggressive beer. Best enjoyed in moderation.

Mr. Flannestad: The maltiest entry of the beers we tried this evening, very good. I would rank it No. 2 among those tried.

Mrs. Flannestad: This was my second favorite of the evening, but I felt that it could have used some HOP in the name to qualify for the competition.  Double Jack didn’t quite fit in, but was very delicious. and hoppy good.

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!


Saturday Night Dinner March 4, 2011

I’ve covered Julia Child’s Salmon with Aromatic Vegetables before, this time we used Steelhead Trout from Avedano’s Holly Park Market instead of Salmon. Hard to find Wild caught Salmon these days, Steelhead is our second choice, along with Arctic Char. Another good use for those hard to finish bottles of Dry Vermouth, by the way.

Fish with Aromatic Vegetables

Method: Pre-heat an oven to 300 F. Finely chop a combination of equal parts onion, celery, and carrot. Heat a Saute pan, add butter and vegetables. Saute until the vegetables are tender. Add dried or fresh tarragon and thyme. Deglaze pan with a generous amount of Dry Vermouth. Butter a roasting pan approximately the size of your fish fillet. Place the fillet skin side down in the pan, salt, pepper, and some cubes of butter. Pour vegetables on top of fish. Add more dry vermouth to come up half way up the side of the fillet. Cover with buttered parchment paper or lid and place in oven. Bake until fillets are just cooked through. Remove fillets from liquid to warm plate. Pour liquid into sauce pan and reduce until syrupy. Optionally, mount the sauce with butter. Pour over filets and serve.

To be honest, I think this would be an awesome sous vide preparation.

More interesting, though were the side dishes, generally riffs on flavors I associate with Southern Italy.

Pan roasted Cauliflower braised in cx stock with red chile, garlic, herbs, anchovy paste, olives, and sherry vinegar.

METHOD: Cut up a head of Cauliflower into “florets”, heat a saute pan. Add some olive oil and then Cauliflower. Let “pan roast” over high heat until you get some nice color. Add minced garlic, crushed red chile, fine chopped herbs, an anchovy filet, and some chopped Green Olives. Give a shake or two. Pour in some chicken (or vegetable) stock and cook until the Cauliflower is tender. Finish with a splash of sherry vinegar to brighten the flavors.

I’ve been rediscovering Cauliflower lately and enjoying the flavors. This was one of the more interesting preparations I’ve done recently.

Israeli Cous Co us with pine nuts, raisins, lemon zest, herbs, and cinnamon broth.

METHOD: Heat a pint or so of chicken stock until warm with a cinnamon stick. Heat a deep saute pan. Add some olive oil and a cup of israeli cous cous. Add some pine nuts, raisins, and sliced green onions. Saute briefly, then add chicken stock by the cupful. continue to add stock as it is absorbed until the cous cous is tender and cooked through. Finish with herbs and the Zest of one lemon.

I really like Israeli Cous Cous, you often cook it rather like risotto. A bit more fun than the pilaf-like preparations for regular Cous Cous.

Both of these side dishes could be described as “profoundly unfashionable” in flavor and style, nearly Medieval with their emphasis on strong flavors, herbs, and spiced. I really liked them in combination with the milder fish preparation.

Serve with a nice, light red wine, like this Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir from Wild Hog Vineyards.

Saturday Night Dinner: Feb 12, 2011

We’ve had some nice weather the last couple weekends, so Mrs. Flannestad has been lobbying for grilling.

The problem being, even with the nice weather, it still gets dark really early.

This weekend was so nice, though, that I couldn’t put it off any longer, even if I was grilling in the backyard with a flashlight.

Cut up and marinated a chicken with fresh Oregano, Garlic, Lemon Juice, Mustard, and Black Pepper.

Sliced an eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Halved some small Zucchini. Salted liberally and basted both with olive oil. Two Red Peppers.

Started the coals, I’m a huge fan of grilling over Lazzari Lump Mesquite. I start them with a chimney starter and usually have them up and going much quicker than charcoal briquettes in a starter, or with, horror, lighter fluid.

Chiffonade half a bunch of basil, minced 2 cloves garlic, teaspoon hot pimenton de la vera, splashed in olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

Grilled Red Peppers until evenly charred. Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini. Chopped and tossed with seasonings.

Made a two person batch of Cous Cous with Scallions, herbs, pine nuts and currants.

Grilled Chicken.

Pretty decent meal, served with a bottle of Emtu 2007 Russian River Vineyard Pinot Noir.

When I’ve made grilled chicken for in-laws, they have sometimes asked why my chicken turns out so well and theirs is always dry.

I don’t go in for brining. I maintain the best grilled chicken is first off, quality chicken. Best to buy it whole and cut it up yourself. I usually just quarter the chicken or maybe cut it in eighths. Then you have to leave the bones in and skin on, or it will dry out too quickly. Beyond that, just mind your fire and your meat while it is on the grill.

Feeling Italian (Part 2)

As I continue to work Sunday through Friday, it has been a bit of a struggle to make my one day a week off count. Get all the errands run, get some posts written, and, most importantly, spend some quality time with Mrs. Flannestad and our dog Monty.

A while ago Michele got me a copy of David Tanis’ cookbook, “A Platter of Figs“.

I promised to make her some things from it, but after a persimmon cake which wasn’t as good as our usual recipe, I hadn’t gone back and tried anything else.

So for this Saturday night, the first we’ve had together in a while, I opted to do a whole menu.

Feeling Italian (Part 2)

Steamed Fennel with Red Pepper Oil
Roasted Quail with Grilled Raddicchio and Creamy Polenta
Italian Plum Cake

First things first, headed to the Alemany Farmers’ Market Saturday “morning”, with the hopes of finding as much of the produce as possible.

Stopped at the Tomatero Farms stand and were thrilled to find Raddicchio.

Dapple Dandy Plums (my favorites!) from Ferrari Farms.

We only found some questionable looking Fennel, so I hedged our bets with beautiful beets from Blue House Farms.

Also some Maitake Mushrooms from Far West Fungi, part of a sekrit plan to “improve” Tanis’ menu.

After some fortifying Sopes and squash blossom Quesadillas from El Huarache Loco, we headed home with our spoils.

A bit later in the afternoon, we headed up to Cortland, to Avedano’s Holly Park Market, where we perused our meat options.

No quail today, so we consoled ourselves with a whole Chicken (head on!) from Soul Food Farms.  As is usual, there was a little sticker shock with the price of a Soul Food Farms product.  “I just paid what for a whole chicken!?”  As this was our first time with this producer, we crossed our fingers that the flavor, and good feelings from supporting a small producer, would make it worth the price.

Monty and Squeaky Blue Ball (his favorite).

A nice family dog walk at Crissy Field, then back home to start cooking dinner.

Got home, Michele put on the music, while I cut up the chicken and started a simple stock with the chicken neck and back bones.

Made the Plum Cake.

Washed the beets and started them in the oven to roast.

The Fennel was indeed questionable, so decided to reprise a recent invention.

Nose to Tail Beets (or perhaps “Leaf to Root”?)


1 bunch beets
2 cloves Garlic, sliced
chile flakes
raisins, chopped
olive oil
Chicken or Vegetable Stock.


Pre-heat oven to 400.  Cut stems and leaves from beets.  Wash and clean.  Wrap in aluminum foil package, salting and adding a bit of olive oil.  Roast until tender.

Wash Beet greens and stems.  Chop stems into 1/8 inch pieces.  Slice Leaves.  Heat saute pan and add a couple tablespoons olive oil.  Add garlic slices and cook a couple.  Add Beet stems, Oregano, Thyme, salt, and Chile flakes.  Saute until tender.  Add beet leaves and splash in some stock.  Add raisins, cover, and cook until leaves are tender.  Check salt and add more if needed.

When Beets are cooked, rinse under cold water and remove outer skin. Cut into Eighths and add beets to pan with greens and stems.  Toss to mix and serve warm.

Started the Polenta. Roasted the Maitake Mushrooms.

Roasted Chicken.  One of my big issues with the recipe for the Squab was that they didn’t bother to use the fond from the roasting pan.  David! You’ve got a Pancetta and Squab fond, and you’re not going to at least make a pan sauce? Lazy!

So after the chicken was done, I started dripping based roux in roasting pan. Added the Chicken Stock I’d made. Finished pan sauce with Roasted Maitakes and some of pancetta which had been used to wrap the chicken.

Opened the wine.

Drin that bottle.

Carved the chicken and served it forth, perhaps not as beautiful as it would be at David Tanis’ house or Chez Panisse, but what can you do? I’m just a home cook! If it tastes good, I’m done.


And it was a really tasty chicken.  Totally worth the price, for flavor alone.  The good feeling of supporting a small producer, and happiness from making an amazingly delicious special dinner for my wife, were just icing on the cake.  An awesome Saturday night, I definitely made this one count!

BOTW–West Coast I.P.A.

I really like every beer I have tried so far from Green Flash Brewing.

Of those I am especially fond of, their Le Freak is a pretty cool beer.

However, their West Coast IPA is probably their flagship beer.  “Extravagently Hopped”, is how they describe it on the website, and I’d agree, though not to the extent of some, cough, other Southern California brewers.

Still smarting from last week’s stew disaster, I decided to revisit, but with things I am comfortable with.  Like Pork.

Yellow Indian Woman

And Rancho Gordo Yellow Indian Woman Beans. Soaked the beans for a couple hours and set them to cook with some garlic and herbs.


Groceries for the stew.

Country Spare Ribs

Mmmm, Got some awesome country style spare ribs at Avedano’s.  Check out that marbling!

Braising Greens

And some kale and tatsoi from a friendly face at the Allemany Farmers’ Market.


Browned the pork, sauteed some aromatic vegetables, covered it with white wine, and put it in a 325 degree oven to simmer.


Also got some nice Chanterelles from Far West Fungii at the Allemany Farmers’ Market. Roasted those off.


When the meat was getting towards tender, I removed the meat from the bone, degreased the cooking liquids, and combined the now tender beans, braising greens, and roasted chanterelles. Covered again and returned to oven.




That turned out tasty.  Walnut Bread from the Noe Valley Bakery.


Oh wait, I seem to have forgotten to take a picture of the beer.  Navarro Zinfandel with dinner this time, instead of Cabernet Sauvingon.

BOTW–High Tide

High Tide.

Port Brewing’s High Tide Fresh Hop India Pale Ale located at local bottle shop City Beer Store.  I can never pass up trying a Fresh Hop beer.

In glasses.

All about the grapefruit in the nose and taste.  Nicely balanced, though, and not sharp.  Very drinkable.


Experimental Roasted Pumpkin and Apple Risotto with sage.  Pretty tasty.  Salad of Arugula and Persimmons.  Portobello Mushroom Sausages.


In the midst of a clean up and cooking operation yesterday, I had to run to BevMo to get more lump Mesquite Charcoal.

Perhaps it is a sign of my dysfunction, but I can never go to BevMo and then leave with just one thing. I have to stare at things in the Rum aisle, the whiskey aisle, the liqueur aisle, etc. for a while. Eventually I often end up in the beer aisle. Today I couldn’t help but notice that Dogfish Head‘s Seasonal Pumpkin Beer, Punk, was available.  How could I leave without picking up a four pack?

We have a bit of a disagreement here at the Underhill-Lounge about the “best” Pumpkin Ale.  Mrs. Flannestad is very fond of Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Pumpkin Ale.  I am a bit more fond of the Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale.

To me, the Buffalo Bill is almost more of a “spice” beer.  The Dogfish, at least to me, allows a bit more of the pumpkin character to come through.  It’s also a bit less sweet than the Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale.

Don’t get me wrong, they are both good beers.  I just happen to prefer the Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale.

Some fresh cranberry beans from the Farmers’ Market this morning.  Couldn’t resist making them part of tonight’s dinner.

Grilled Porterhouse Steak.  Yellow Potatoes slow roasted in olive oil with garlic and herbs.  Fresh Cranberry Beans braised with Collard Greens.