spice channel.

Merry Holidays everyone. Today our plans revolve around some food prep for tomorrow, and then watching the The Spice Channel for a few hours, starting with either Assbreak Hotel (3pm) or Fuck Me In My Jeans (5pm), depending on when we finish cooking.

Oh nee, we're just joking. Nothing but wholesome activity around here: cookie baking, chili making, etc. But those two movies are actually on this afternoon if either of those titles sound like your thing.


fryske dúmkes (Frisian thumb cookies).

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp aniseed

This recipe makes a shitload of cookies as written. Here's Wikipedia's recipe.



Mimolette and no-knead bread.

Christmas Eve, you say? Can't say it really felt like it, though that's largely on purpose. I guess we've been conducting our own little completely non-controversial War on Christmas for the past several years now, and well, Christmas done officially lost.

To the victor goes the spoils. Hot crusty bread with butter and/or still-controversial cheese? Check. Scallops with balsamic red onion confit, brown butter, and a little mash? Yes. Finishing Season 3 of Downton Abbey? Manliness be damned, yes, yes, yes. We should just go ahead and have a girls' spa day today to clear any remaining testosterone out of my system.


seared scallops with red onion confit and brown butter.

This is largely a Daniel Boulud recipe, the word confit is his term, though to me this is more of a compote or relish, but yes I'm sure I don't know a hawk from a etc.

2 cups mandolined red onions
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

5 tbsp butter

8 large sea scallops
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp butter

3 cups peeled potatoes
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cream




Yes, it's Titiz. Titiz brand CHESTnuts. Come on.



salade cévenole.

This is kind of an attempt to recreate my first taste of duck confit, at the formerly rather more French Place Pigalle in Seattle, probably 1997 or so (it changed owners in 2007). If there's a secret to this salad it's to dress your cabbage with the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt, and sugar at least two hours before you want to serve it. By then the cabbage has wilted a little and released some water, making it easier to gauge the overall seasoning. The confit will be salty too remember so don't over doooooo it on the cabbage.


duck confit salad with red cabbage, arugula and chestnuts.

1/2 red cabbage, sliced thinly
two big fistfuls of arugula
12 roasted chestnuts, shelled and quartered
12 walnuts, toasted and halved
juice of a lemon
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 to 2 tbsp walnut oil
1 tsp to 1 tbsp duck fat from the confit
1 tbsp raw sugar

1 or 2 legs duck confit, depending on their size and how duck-centric you want this to be
salt to taste
pepper to taste



cuisses du canard.

Above: the frills of having a zero-profit record distribution business continue, in the form of more free entertainment, this time from the all-star Ellington band. Last night's sets included a totally unexpected and thoroughly heroic vocal by Mr. Elliptical himself, Michael Vatcher, as well as paint-peeling solos from special guest Peter Evans. And no drinking by me, also pretty heroic if not entirely unexpected.

This morning's breakfast involved the below "Xmas Special" Dirk purchase: 4 confit duck legs for 10 bucks, that's the cheapest game in town ha get it, game, so I'ma 'bout (btw, a totally unintuitive and difficult punctuation for a very natural colloquialism, but I do believe that it's right. You can also say "I'ma do this", so the "a" isn't really the a from "about", it's an a that replaces "going to", I know, I know, but you also know that we think about these things) to go get another can to get me through the dark days of late January. No, you are correct, cans of duck confit are not in the reduced grocery budget, but I'm thinking of it as the €10 I didn't spend on beer last night.


bánh phở.

Well, we were about due for a new Vietnamese thrust around here anyway, but a couple days' worth of inexplicable queasiness (or possibly explicable via changing mirtazapine brands again) made the demand for comforting rice products unpostponeable.

Bánh phở are the non-round rice noodles that go in phở, and like most noodles they come in various thicknesses. Somehow we'd never tried the thicker end of the spectrum, and that unfortunate tryinglessness came to an happy end last night, and yes the thicker ones are better, or at least to this noodle-deprived mother, more satisfying.

Last night we et them (Scrabble artifact) up with a homemade peanut sauce very close to this one, but with grated ginger and sugar instead of bakgember, no fish sauce or coconut, and a dash of tamarind at the end. Soon the other half of the noodle package will be et up with a recipe that will then appear somewhere in this post, or maybe just something based on this.

Noodle cooking method: soak for 45 minutes in cool water then boil until there is a chewiness level that is tolerable, that took about 5 minutes for us. If you let them go beyond chewy they'll end up gummed together in clots or they'll start falling apart when you try to pick them up.

And, as has been our custom lately, we finish with a totally unrelated recipe from another cuisine entirely: this is something I should try as a healthy-ish GF dessert. Apples are on sale at the moment, and we have a lot of them. This is a Saveur recipe at the moment, but I'll fix that, just you watch.


bratäpfel mit walnusseis.

¾ cup raisins
¾ cup walnut halves, chopped
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup dark rum
4 tsp. kosher salt
6 tart apples, such as Gala
1 cup dry white wine
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
⅓ cup honey
1½ tbsp. ground cinnamon
whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 350°F (150°C on our oven). Combine raisins, walnuts, sugar, rum, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Core apples, and place right-side up in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Fill each apple with ¼ cup walnut mixture, add wine and butter to baking dish, and drizzle each apple with honey; cover tightly with foil, and bake until apples are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cinnamon and let cool slightly; serve in bowls with pan sauce and a dollop of whipped cream on the side.



winter light.

Above: production line. Below: one of the many benefits of not drinking is that last night's entertainment costs = €0.00, which included two sets of ICP Orchestra and a gander at Tomoko Mukaiyama's wasted.



Hey I know what would be fun, let's have a post where the photos match the text. Last night Dr. Moop decided that she would finally act on her simmering craving for pappardelle, which is really just a super bonus for those of us who weren't even aware that our pappardelle cravings were simmering.

She also made a very fast version of Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey's no-knead bread, which she's been playing with for a month or two now, but this is my first time tasting it, and yes it's as great as the entire internet says.




Spine-tinglingly exciting post forthcoming about this week's Dirk sale on John West canned salmon. Basic gist is that the 100M grocery budget has been downsized again, and this means being open-minded about interfacing with heretofore unexplored protein sources.

My last and only previous experience with canned salmon was impactful enough to where I haven't even considered buying any in at least the last 10 years. The contents of that first and only can were overinclusive, a blasted mix of unappealing skin, bones, and probably some other parts of the salmon that I generally don't put in my mouth.

So this week's Dirk sales flyer had John West Alaskan salmon for roughly €2.60/lb (it's one 418g can), not terribly cheap, but intriguing enough to warrant an experiment. This salmon included skin, yes, but they were whole filets, no bones, and actually smelled good. As utilized below, yes, tasty enough to repeat. Is your spine tingling yet, he asked rhetorically.


salmon and sweet potato cakes.

1 can good pink Atlantic salmon, drained
1 medium sweet potato, cooked and peeled
1/4 tsp chipotle powder, or possibly even one pureed chipotle pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
3 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup toasted almonds, pulverized
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
squeeze of lemon
1 egg

Combine everything with a fork. Form into patties and fry or bake. Serve with something sweet and spicy, we tried mayo first, not sharp enough. Thai chili sauce was better. Makes way too many servings.



autentico mexicano.

Good news for the eight Nederland-based readers of this blog: there's finally a real soft corn tortilla maker in town. They're called Tortilla Factory, based in Halfweg, Mara met some of the folks behind it and yes they are very friendly and very Mexican. You can order their tortillas via their website, or possibly via some other electronic means but their website is down at the mo, I'll update with deets when it's up.

Also, good news for the two readers of this blog who live in this very house: I'm making stamppot for the first time tonight, using dear, trusted KK's eight-year-old eG guide as my own basic guide but taking a liberty or two. I'm doing a very non-traditional and kind of Southern onion and black pepper gravy, which is where more than half of the ingredients are coming from.


stamppot (kale and potato mash with smoked sausage).

500g potatoes
500g kale, rinsed and chopped fine
water to cover
pinch salt
one knob butter
milk to moisten

300g rookworst or other smoked sausage

2 shallots, quartered
one small sweet onion, diced medium
125g lean bacon or lardons
2 tbsp water/stock/wine to deglaze
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cream
enough milk to eventually make the right amount of gravy, I ended up using at least 1/2 cup
a pinch thyme
a dried sage leaf or two, crumbled
several grates of nutmeg
more freshly ground black pepper than seems prudent
salt to taste

So cook your bacon/lardons over low heat for 20 minutes or so, or until the fat is full rendered and meat is crispy. Remove from pan and set aside. Put the shallot and onions in the pan and deglaze with the wine, water or stock. Add butter and cook on low for 10 minutes or so. Add cream, milk, herbs and spices and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes or until sauce is appropriately thickened.

For the rest, cover the peeled potatoes with just enough boiling water to, well, cover. Add kale on top, and mostly cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until taters are done. Now, you could apparently also put your sausage in this water and heat it up that way. When potatoes are done, remove sausage if you're doing it this way, then drain the rest and return kale and potatoes to pot. Mash together, add butter and enough milk to reach desired consistency. Salt to taste.

Serves 4 if you double the sausage.


carrots like mom used to make.

3 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick or so)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp raw sugar
salt to taste

Steam carrots until almost the way you like them, for us this is about 10 minutes. Take carrots out of the pan. Melt butter in pan, add sugar, stir til sugar dissolves, adjust sugar and butter to taste, return carrots to pan, stir to coat, salt to taste. Served 2 as a side, but we ate a lot of carrots.



you could make a killing.

 "Everybody makes mistakes, most people make the same ones over and over again." —Detective Sarah Linden, The Killing.

I've just finished the second season of The Killing (US), and though in retrospect you could really have guessed most of the answer from the beginning, I found much to enjoy in the telling. Now I'm going to make Mara watch the original Danish version (Forbrydelsen) with me, because apparently (and not so so surprisingly) they're quite different in pacing and tone. There's a NYT article here about the differences if you have no plans to watch either or already have.

Also, I'm looking for a job. Anyone who needs something done that I'm any good at, hit me up.


top guitar hero brazil.

I've been experimenting with "new relaxation techniques", one of which, a theta wave headphone track, may have just given me the worst dream I've had in recent memory. I'll flesh this synopsis out when I have time, but essentially the key data points would be: a Top Chef kind of show but for hundreds of guitar players instead of chefs; set in Rio de Janeiro; I was partners with Amy Adams who pretended to be very nice and sweet to me at first, like we were best friends and really hitting it off, until the cameras were rolling and then she incessantly made fun of my belly during the first challenge, which everyone found hillllarious; me subsequently running mostly naked through the thankfully deserted halls of the TV studio in a way that reminded me very much of Carrie (they're all gonna laugh at you).

When I eventually made it back to my room, I found that Amy had turned the other contestants against me so thoroughly that they'd destroyed my suitcase and remaining clothes and so all I had left to wear for the remaining two days of the competition was a cooking oil-soaked camouflage outfit I found in the shared kitchen (it was MutliCam, a term I just now learned for the first time). I think it was used frying oil.

That evening of course, the cast and crew all went out to a chic and stylish outdoor terrace for delicious Brazilian food and cocktails, tanned and dressed in pretty awesome outfits and enjoying themselves immensely while I sat alone in my wet-yet-crispy camo jumpsuit. After an hour or so of this, I decided to seek relief by going off to shop for new clothes (at 9pm or so) via Rio's public transportation system, and well as you can imagine I got off in the bad part of town and was chased by people with machine guns and machetes for several hours.

I did experience a nice moment walking home from Favela Massacre mode where I stumbled into a tourist attraction that was basically these gently fluorescent caves with crystalline pools of water lapping at themselves in a quiet manner. Very peaceful. If you could hear my theta wave recording this would make perfect sense. When I returned to the TV studios in my by now rather supremely uncomfortable camo, I limped into the ungently fluorescent shower room and slowly shaved my full beard into a bushy handlebar moustache. I emerged from the showers to find everyone else returning from the final, mandatory rehearsal, which I had of course missed, and thus I wouldn't be allowed to participate further, though I could stay and help clean up afterwards if I liked.

I was well, a bit "down" after all this as you can imagine. This being Day Three of the dream I finally had an impulse resembling, "Hey, wait: doesn't this all sound suspiciously like my normal neuroses (body image; social anxiety; performance anxiety) combined with the real-life events of the last month or so (hundreds of guitar players; unfamiliar public transportation; shaving off a beard; I just watched like 3 days of MasterChef)....maybe it's a good idea to stop and FUCKING CHECK AND SEE IF THIS IS REALLY HAPPENINGGGGGG" and I immediately woke up to discover that I'd only been asleep for two hours. Suuuuuuuuper relaxing.




Shakshouka. A good thing to do for a warming breakfast if you've made too much red sauce for your previous two days' Italian needs (yesterday's arancini risotto and the day before's unprecedented chicken parm casserole).

To your remaining red sauce, add a bunch of toasted cumin seed, dried thyme, and some crushed red pepper. Cook it down some, ten minutes or so, then lay a couple of eggs in there (make wells first if you want them to look pretty), cover, and cook for 4 minutes for still-runny yolks or until eggs are set to your liking. Throw some chopped cilantro, crumbled feta and pul biber on there afterwards and blast your sinuses out. The Wikipedia article says that you can/should even serve it with zhoug, which next time I maybe will.


Chronology break: Day Two of shakshouka (after the Top Chef Brazil dream) was decorated with a pesto that I'd pestled up out of wilting arugula (1 cup), nearly stale pistachios (1/4 cup) and spotty basil (1/4 cup), plus garlic (3 cloves), salt and olive oil (to taste). Even better than the first day, fresh garlic and herbs bring a nice zing.




Traditional Day One nutrition regimen in progress, but first a brief moment of ugly yet soothing rainy day windstorm food. It's so boring I don't even know what to call it.

Last night's epic dreams: I found an exhausted, fat clone of me in a closet and had to kill it (pretty straightforward); then we acquired two zebra colts but then also Amsterdam flooded and my poor brain spent hours imagining what every conceivable lifeform looked and sounded like drowning. No cats though, thanks for that.


chicken + spinach casserole.

20 kalamata olives
1 rosemary branch
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 courgette
1 onion
6 cloves garlic
6 cans peeled tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
(these quantities make twice as much red sauce as you need)

125g mozzarella
125g ricotta

2 free-range chicken breasts
400g fresh spinach
Parmesan for grating



i like the nightlife.

Well this was pretty much the final point of my Atlanta stay that was an unqualified success, some time Friday morning. This is a turkey carcass that literally has my name on it. Like I walked up to the fridge, saw it in there and said "Oooh, that has my name all over it", and Jeanie Jeanie was conveniently right there to say "It literally does have your name on it". And it did.

For the rest: how do I say this to myself in a believable way. Go back to the happy places from this month-long adventure and try to bring those things here, because for a couple weeks there it really seemed like you were on to something. Oh yeah, and avoid situations like this one pictured below, you idiotic man, there is no good reason for you to be anywhere near O'Neill or taxicabs at 4am, you stupid fucking dick.



number two.

Yesterday: bidding the boyz a fond farewell. 3.5 hours in a pretty empty airplane. Walking into a kitchen in full-on "hot food" mode. Turkey, gravy, sweet potato, rutabaga, cranberry, broccolini. Planning documents. Pumpkin cheesecake. Green Jell-O with mandarin oranges and punkin pie.

Today: O'Neill. Tomorrow: Durians. Sunday: maybe a visit to cousins Chris and Carla's new restaurant. Monday: Department of Motor Vehicles. Tuesday: back to Amsterdam. Wish me luck.



Last day in Phoenix, off to Atlanta tomorrow. Above, one last brutal badminton tournament. Below, unexpected vegan lunch at Green, not bad, not really anything super special either other than the decor, which was very nice. Tonight: West Side Story and Thanksgiving leftovers.


hank bobby michette.

My dad has a pretty great new camera. New dog's not bad either.

I forgot to tell this story about the football game. It's halftime, we're in a long line for the restroom, maybe 20 people or so. Right when we finally make it inside the door and are next in line, watching the backs of a room full of burly men in football fan garb silently peeing, my dad turns to me and says, in his normal speaking voice, which is not quiet at all, "Hey I bought West Side Story today".

I can't believe we got out of there alive. Granted, the night before, we had been talking about West Side Story and he couldn't believe I hadn't seen it, and it's true, I should see it. So he bought it, which is potentially great. But there's no need to announce that into a men's room full of drunk, peeing Cardinals fans.


west side story.

If you want a more Dutch/speculaas-tasting version of this, you can bump the ginger, cloves and cardamom up to 1/4 tsp each even maybe. I know that the last time I did this it was better than it was as written below and I used a little more of every spice except cinnamon.


almond apple crisp with brown butter.

6 tbsp almond flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

3 lbs. apples (I used 8 apples), half sweet and half tart, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

5 tbsp butter, browned to a beurre noisette


Combine everything from the first group of ingredients except the butter and almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse ten times, four seconds per pulse. Add almonds and pulse five more times, one second each. Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you put the apples together.

Adjust rack in oven to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 190C/375F. Add second group of ingredients to a big bowl and stir to coat everything thoroughly. Put apple mixture in a 9" square baking dish or similar, distribute topping evenly over top, bake for 40 minutes. Drizzle brown butter over top, turn up oven to 200C/400F and bake for 5 minutes or until everything looks properly bubbly and brown.



blown out.

in the kitchn.

Above: Dad's blue suede badminton cake (think red velvet but you know, blue). Below: sweet potato puree, home-pickled jalapenos, Martha Stewart vs. Thug Kitchen's cranberry-orange relish.


sweet potato, maple, ancho puree.

3 giant sweet potatoes
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
salt to taste


collard greens.

1 bag collard greens
3 strips cooked bacon
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp raw sugar
2 cups chicken broth
salt to taste


cranberry-orange sauce.

juice of three oranges
zest from one orange
24 oz fresh cranberries
1 and 1/2 cups raw sugar
1/2 cup water
salt to taste



acción de gracias.

Housekeeper pork tamales from Manuela, with a very very good homemade red salsa, spi-cy.


cardinal rule.

Points to ponder: the awesome Alcohol Compliance shirts worn by the guys checking people's IDs; the family of four next to me must have consumed over $100 worth of food during the first half of the game, they ate constantly (that's their sandwich pictured), and everything cost $9 (a bottle of water was $4.50); I wonder how many of the hundreds of people wearing Pat Tillman jerseys saw the documentary; the Cardinals franchise has made their mascot/logo look meaner in recent years; habanero cheese is a good idea.