Author Archives: Devany

About Devany

Ceramic artist and food writer living in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC surrounded by hundreds of waterfalls, deer and fungi. Life is sweet. With deep roots from LA, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Charleston and Hawaii.

Pistachio Soup

Standard
Pistachio Soup

With roots in Persian cooking, one of my favorite cuisines, this rich and delicious soup offers a delicious start to a dinner for four. The soup receives brightness from fresh orange and lemon juice stirred in just before serving It should be served in smallish bowls and dressed with creme fraiche, a drizzle of of saffron oil and some chopped toasted pistachios. It does keep well if you want to make it ahead or make it for two and save two servings for later. This soup is very easy to make except for the peeling of the pistachio, which is just time consuming, more than difficult.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup very hot olive oil
1 tsp saffron threads
2 cups shelled raw pistachios
1/4 unsalted butter
1″piece of ginger finely chopped
3 large shallots finely chopped
1 medium leek, finely chopped
2 tsp toasted ground cumin
1 Tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
3 cups chicken stock (homemade is best)
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Juice of one lemon(I used a Meyer)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of creme fraiche per person

Method:

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Heat the olive oil in a small pan or bowl (microwave is ok) and add saffron. Allow to rest at least 1 hour. Longer is fine.

Put the pistachios in a bowl, pour boiling water over and cover with a plate. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Drain the water. Use latex gloves and rub small handfulls of the nuts together in your hands to remove the skins. Get as much off as you can. Not all the skins will come off. This is ok. Getting some off will make the color more green and less brown.

Put a piece of pastry paper on a baking sheet and spread the pistachios on the baking sheet. bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the shallots, ginger. leeks, cumin, paprika, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Saute until the shallots and leeks become soft. Add the stock, 1/2 of the saffron oil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the pistachios. Put the remainder in the pot with the soup. Use an immersion blender to roughly puree the soup. It is ok to still have bits of nuts and shallots. Add the orange and lemon juice then taste for additional salt and pepper.

To serve, coarsely chop the reserved pistachios. Ladle the hot soup into bowls, top each with a bit of the nuts, a swirl of the creme fraiche and a little saffron oil.

Slanted Door’s Shaking Beef My Way

Standard

I have loved this recipe since I took my first bite at Charles Pham’s iconic Ferry Building restaurant 14 years ago. It is outstanding and I have stuck to his pungently flavored tender morseled dish, adding just a few touches of my own. One being crunch flash fried spinach instead of the traditional fresh watercress. I add a tad more fish sauce and a bit of cooking win, Oyster Sauce, a few chiles and more garlic than Mr. Pham. It is just the way my taste buds roll. It is however essential to buy the very best filet you can find to make this dish. I wait till I find a piece on sale and grab it. That is when I make this dish.

Gather your wok and and get your ingredients mise en place, it goes together quickly. Have your deep fryer or a pot of clean oil at the ready for your spinach, you will want to fry it just before serving. I cook my rice well in advance in my Zojirushi Rice cooker which keeps the rice warm forever.

This recipe serves 2, it can easily be doubled by just increasing the meat

Ingredients:

1 Pound Filet Mingnon
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola plus 1 tablespoon of canola oil
1-4 whole small dried red arbol chiles
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
3 stalks of green onions trimmed and cut to one inch lengths
2 tablespoons of finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Stir Fry Sauce

2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Chinese Cooking Wine
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup Red Boat (or other high quality) fish sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
1/8 cup oyster sauce

Salt and Pepper Dipping Sauce

1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

3 cups fresh baby spinach cleaned and very dry
3 cups peanut oil in large pan @325 degrees

Method:

1: Marinade beef in the pepper, chiles and canola oil for about 2 hours.

2.Meanwhile make the stir-fry sauce by combining the ingredients and mix until the sugar is dissolved. set aside.

3. Divide the meat into two portions, straining oil and do the same with the onions.

4. Put oil in wok and heat over medium heat till it shimmers. Cook each batch of meat with onions till browned. removing to a plate.

5. Put in the ingredients for the stir fry sauce and bring to a simmer, add butter and continue to shake or stir. Add the meat and stir. Make the dipping sauce by stirring the ingredients together, it is that simple. And serve the beef, either over watercress or next to flash fried spinach.

6. To make flash fried spinach, either use a deep fryer or a pot with 2″of peanut oil. Take 1/2 of a clam shell of clean dry organic baby spinach. Fry at 350 for about 1-2 minutes, until the spinach starts to turn dark green. Remove and drain. This is DELICIOUS!

Gigantes or Royal Corona Beans in Creamy Garlic Sauce

Standard
Creamy and delicious gigantes beans

These giant beans are full of protein and when cooked right are creamy and delicious. I like this method that can be done in less than an hour vs the traditional method that takes all day. No soaking needed. If you do not have access to Spanish Gigantes, you can purchase the Royal Corona Beans from Rancho Gordo. They are much the same in size and texture. The beans can be used as a side dish or main. They are also terrific served on toasts as an appetizer.

Recipe:

Beans:

Place 2 cups of beans in the IP covered with water 3″ over the beans. Set on beans for 20 minutes. Run and allow to go to natural release. remove lid, then add 2 tsp salt and a head of garlic cut in half. Cook again for 25 minutes on bean setting with natural release.

While the second cook is going prepare the sauce:

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons good quality Olive Oil
8 Cloves garlic minced
1 onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 rib of celery finely chopped
3 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 can San Marzano plum tomatoes, pull apart tomatoes with hands
1 cup white vermouth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley or other herbs
Good quality EVOO. I use my smoked olive oil.

Method:

In a dutch oven, using medium heat add 3 Tbs olive oil and saute the garlic, onion, carrot & celery till soft, about 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add salt and peppers. Add the wine and simmer till reduced by 1/2.
Add the tomatoes and their liquid and simmer another 5 minutes. Check seasonings, correct if needed. Stir in cream.

Divide beans among bowls and top with sauce and sprinkle with parsley or other herbs then drizzle with oil just before serving. They can also be served family style in a larger bowl and are great as an appetizer on bread.

Pastitsio: Greek Lasagna in the Instant Pot

Standard
Pasttitsio is full of flavor and texture and made much quicker in the Instant Pot!

This recipe is so good that I revisit it every few months. It makes a great centerpiece for a dinner party and the leftovers are better than the first night’s meal. With the Instant Pot there are not as many leftovers, it makes a smaller amount, but I like that since we typical feed two to four at our house. If you want to make it the traditional way for a larger number of people, click here. The noodles are difficult to find, but I get them on Amazon.com, buying 6 bags at a time.

Greek Lasagna Pastitsio

When teaching others to make this dish, I have often joked that the word pastitsio (pa-STEE-tsee-oh) translates to “messy kitchen” in Greek. I was only kidding, but there is a hint of truth to that statement. The Greek word pastitsio derives from the Italian pasticcio, which loosely translates to a mess or a hodgepodge.

Three essential components make up this dish – pasta, meat filling, and a creamy bechamel sauce which are layered in a pan and baked to a golden brown. Each stage will require dirtying some pots and pans, but I think you will agree that the end result is well worth the clean up!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 14 oz. can tomato puree or sauce
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • /2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano crushed
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Kefalotyri if available)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. breadcrumbs plus 1/2 cup for topping if desired
  • 1/2 pkg. #2 Macaroni for Pastitsio (500g)- available at Greek or ethnic groceries.
  • 2 egg whites (reserve the yolks for bechamel sauce)
  • 1/4cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
greek noodles

For the bechamel sauce:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/2cup all purpose flour
  • 1 pint milk, warmed
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten lightly
  • 1/2  of a whole nutmeg, grated with a microplane

Preparation:

This recipe will yield about 4 servings depending upon the size of your pieces. I use a 6″ spring form pan that is 3-4″ deep.

Begin with the Meat Filling:

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add ground lamb and cook over medium-high heat until pink color disappears, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until they are translucent, about 5 minutes more.

Add wine, tomato sauce, parsley, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and allow sauce to simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. While sauce is simmering put water on to boil for pasta.

Cook pasta noodles according to package directions and drain well. Rinse noodles in colander under cold water to cool them slightly.

Stir in 3 tbsp. breadcrumbs to meat sauce to absorb excess liquid and remove from heat.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in pasta pot and return cooked noodles to the pot. Stir in beaten egg whites and 1 cup of grated cheese and toss lightly, being careful not to break the noodles.

Brush the bottom and sides of the spring form pan with olive oil. Layer the bottom with half the pasta noodles and press down so that they are somewhat flat.

Add the meat filling in an even layer to the pasta. Top with remaining pasta noodles and flatten top layer as best you can

Bechamel Sauce:

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste or roux. Allow the flour/butter mixture to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.

Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Simmer over low heat until it thickens but does not boil.

Remove from heat and stir in beaten egg yolks. Add pinch of nutmeg. If sauce still needs to thicken, return to heat and cook over very low heat while continuing to stir.

Bechamel is thicker than gravy but not quite as thick as pudding. It should be somewhere in between. One way to tell if it is thick enough is to dip your wooden spoon in the sauce and draw your finger across the back of the spoon. If the sauce holds a visible line then it is thick enough.

Pour the bechamel over the pasta noodles making sure to pour sauce down in to the corners as well. I even pull back the sides of the pasta to let some go down the sides. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs if desired. I make a foil sling for the spring form pan to make it easier to remove from the IP.  Process in IP on high on rack for 18 minutes using instant release. remove from the pot and place on a sheet pan. place under broiler on low to toast the topping. allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting.

tight shot 2

Rate this:

Mee Krob: A most Delicious Treat

Standard

Since I was a child this has been one of my favorite Thai Dishes, It is a savory, yet sweet and savory dish with a lot of crunch from Northern Thailand. It is rarely seen on restaurant menus because it must be served fresh and it is fairly labor intensive to prepare. I promise you, it is well worth it.

Mee Krob With Shrimp and Tofu
Mee Krob
Thai Crispy Stir Fried Rice Noodles
Developed by Devany Davidson  
Mee Krob is an easy dish that makes a fantastic snack, or appetizer. Children LOVE it. Vegetarians could easily leave out the shrimp. In Thailand this is almost always prepared in a wok If you feel nervous about deep frying in
a wok, you may use a stock pot.
Ingredients
6 ounces sen mee – rice noodles (these are called by other names in
Chinese look for the thinnest rice noodles if you do not see the “mee”)
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbs of thinly-sliced pickled garlic or regular garlic rough chopped.
6 tbs of shallots (small red or purple onions), sliced thinly
6 ounces of medium prawns, shelled and de-veined
Sauce
¼ cup sweet chili sauce (also known as dipping sauce for spring rolls)
¼ cup of ketchup
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate mixed with 5 teaspoons water
6 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup palm sugar (or brown sugar if you cannot find it)
7-8 fresh kaffir lime leaves, shredded (if you cannot find fresh, forget
about it dried and frozen are not flavorful enough
2 tablespoons fish sauce – Nam Pla (I prefer Red Boat)
* Note the sauce should be a balance of sweet, salty and savory, not just
sweet
Garnish
Thinly sliced green onions, and red and green Thai Chiles or jalapenos julienned.
1/2 cup extra firm tofu, cubed
½ cup of cilantro chopped coarsely
1 Cup of bean sprouts
4 radishes julienned
Chopped peanuts, toasted

Method
1. Heat about 3 cups of peanut oil in a wok or very deep stock pot until very hot (350)
2. Drop the noodles, a small quantity at a time, into the hot oil.
They immediately puff up and turn golden brown.  Turn immediately
with chop sticks or spider.
3. Remove at once with a slotted spoon, or a wire spider.
4. When all the noodles have been cooked, set aside to drain
5. Drizzle the egg into the oil to form a ribbon of cooked egg, then take it from the oil and chop it up. 
6. Finally deep fry the pieces of tofu until golden brown and set aside.

1. Now pour off and reserve all but a little of the oil
2. Stir fry the garlic pickle and shallots
3. Stir fry the prawns briefly until they turn pink
4. Mix the cooked ingredients, except the tofu, and transfer to a serving platter.
5. Combine the ingredients of the sauce, cooking on a medium burner
until slightly thickened and place it in a small bowl.
7. Just before serving, ladle it over the food and toss gently then add a
bit more on top and garnish.

Notes: If you live in an area that does not have an International Market, you can order everything online at www.simply-thai.com Most large
grocery stores have many of the ingredients now days.
You can prep the garnishes ahead of time and make the sauce ahead, so
that all you have to do is the frying and tossing before service.

An Ode to The Northwoods Inn and their Fabulous Sides

Standard

Growing up in Southern California in the 1960’s and ‘70’s I  got to enjoy a lot of fun theme restaurants. They were somehow an extension of Hollywood and the era that ushered in Disneyland and many other area theme parks of that day. A few remain, but many have been shuttered over the years to make way for malls, freeways and most importantly housing developments as human encroachment took over the land of my birth. We had sunshine and great weather till the people came, then we had traffic, smog, inflated real estate prices and lots of other problems.

One of the few remaining theme restaurants is Clearman’s Northwood’s Inn in Covina. They also have sites in La Mirada and San Gabriel, but mine was in Covina. Opening in the height of LA fun and fancy in 1958 they still manage to draw crowds.

When you drive up on a hot southern California day, your eyes deceive you, it looks like a snow covered Alaskan log lodge. As you step into a North Woods Inn, you’ll slowly pull open a heavy wooden door and peer into a dimly lit and richly decorated room of rustic log walls, massive taxidermied bears, jewel-toned stained glass, sawdust-strewn floors and eccentric hunting-lodge kitsch. The signs tell you to “Please throw peanut shells on floor.” 

You must arrive hungry. Entrees include all you can eat of two salads, recipes below, their famous garlic cheese bread, rice pilaf, a one pound baked potato with cheese, butter, sour cream and mushroom gravy. And then there are the huge steaks!

So over the years I had to recreate the recipes since I moved thousands of miles away from these favorite salads and cheeese bread! Here are my takes on them. Some people mix the buttermilk blue cheese on iceberg with the red cabbage salad, but I like to use the red cabbage as a palate cleanser. The cheese bread is my favorite and I think it is also like the bread at a long gone nearby establishment The Trails.

The Red Cabbage Salad

The Northwoods Inn Red Cabbage Salad 

1/2 cup . red wine vinegar 
4 T. sugar 
3 tsp. kosher salt 
2 tsp. seasoned salt 
1/4 tsp. pepper 
1/4 TBS. grated onion
1/2 cup olive oil 

1 head red cabbage, coarsely shredded 

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and onion until sugar and salt are completely dissolved. Whisk in oil. Dressing can be made ahead and stored in fridge. Bring to room temp before using. Pour over cabbage, toss well and let sit 10-15 minutes. Toss again and serve.

The Best Cheese Bread Ever

Clearman’S Northwoods Inn – Cheese Spread 

In a food proccessor add:

1/2 ts dry mustard 
1/2 ts celery salt 
2 ts garlic salt & 6 garlic cloves
3 tb plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 
2 ts tabasco 
1 ts paprika 
1 lb butter 
1 lb cheddar cheese – grated finely 
3 oz romano cheese, grated
Mix until well blended. Refrigerate

Put onto sourdough bread, place under broiler until lightly toasted.

Keeps 6 weeks in fridge, can be frozen

The Clearman’s Blue Cheese Dressing

They serve this on Iceberg, but I prefer it on butter lettuce

· 1 cup buttermilk 
· 1 cup sour cream
· 3 cloves garlic 
· 1/8 tsp sugar 
· 1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika 
· 1 teaspoon salt 
· 6 tablespoons blue cheese
PREPARATION:
In a food processor combine buttermilk, sour cream, garlic, sugar, paprika, and salt. Blend until smooth. Add blue cheese, and pulse quickly once or twice. Do not blend. You want small chunks of blue cheese. 

Refrigerate 4 hours or more before serving to let flavors blend. 

Yield: About 1-1/3 cups 

Another one of Mr Clearman’s fantastic establisments farther West in Cucamonga, now Rancho Cucamonga still stands, The Magic Lamp Inn.



Bruce and Mark’s Sichuan Chicken Wings

Standard

Wings saucaed

This recipe is adapted from my friends Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbourough’s podcast, Cooking With Bruce and Mark. They are a fabulously talented couple, married for many years. They are endowed with both humor and cooking talent among many other things. Bruce is the chef and Mark is the writer. Together they are a team that has produced many best selling cookbooks and a great podcast. I suggest you subscribe to it. Bruce and Mark adapted the recipe from the book All Under Heaven by Carolyn Phillips.

These wings are perfect for your Superbowl party, or just for a fun diner with a kick. You can adjust the heat by adding more chiles or leaving the seeds in some of the chiles. A wok or large skillet will work for this.

Ingredients: 

  • 24 chicken wings, divided by cutting the drumette from the winglets and discarding the “flipper”
  • 1/2 cup of cornstarch
  • 4 cups of peanut oil
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions finely sliced (green and  white parts)
  • 2″ of ginger, peeled and finely chopped.
  • 20 (or more) Japones dried chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3/4 cup plain rice vinegar
  • 7 TBS sugar (I used Indian Jaggery, grated)
  • 3 TBS “regular” soy sauce. If you are buying it in an Asian grocery this is called “light” soy as opposed to the darker, thicker soy.
  • 2 tsp crushed Szechuan peppercorns, lightly toasted and crushed in a mortar and pestle

Method:

Wings drying

  • In a zip lock bag, toss the chicken wings in the corn starch and place on a rack to go into the refrigerator over night or for 12 hours. This sufficiently dries out the chicken and makes it crisp up perfectly.
  • When ready to assemble, heat the oil in a wok to 375  and fry the wings in small batches so that you are not over crowding. You can use a fat thermometer to assure even heat.
    wings frying
  • Remove the wings to a rack to drain.
    Wings fried
  • Pour and strain the oil into another container.
  • In the wok, add aromatics: ginger, garlic and chiles. Stir fry briefly.
    Wings sauce
  • Add the soy, rice vinegar and sugar, stirring while cooking
  • When fully incorporated add the wings and stir to coat
    Wings saucaed

I think he liked them!

Wings finished