Pearl Sugar & the Liege Waffle: A story of sweet obsession

 

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Liege Waffle w. Fresh Berries

I have always been a waffle lover. I remember my mom making them for my friends the morning after slumber parties and as an adult, they remain a favorite of mine.

While nothing beats the beautiful simplicity of a buttermilk waffle with melted butter and real maple syrup, I have branched out quite a bit in the waffle department: gingerbread waffles, corn waffles with pork belly, waffles with berries soaked in vanilla rum. Heck, I even threw a Waffle Party once, a slightly crazy soiree filled with fruit curds, compound butters, whipped cream and lots of sparkling wine.

But, sadly, I didn’t discover the reigning ruler of waffles until a few years ago — the liege waffle, made with Belgian pearl sugar. The specialized pearl sugar is added to the unsweetened batter before cooking and melts in the waffle iron, creating crispy crunchy pockets throughout the waffle.

 

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Belgian Pearl Sugar

The sugar also caramelizes the entire outside of the waffle, making it sweet enough to eat on its own. In fact, these are a popular street food in Belgium where people often buy a waffle to snack on while they walk. The sweetness of the waffle negates the need to dress it up with messy toppings (though that’s part of the fun!) making it a great thing to eat on the go.

I had my first liege waffle after my friend Oliver gave me a gift certificate to The Gaufre Gourmet, a Portland food cart that serves up “wonderous waffles” in an array of sweet and savory ways. Since that initial introduction, I have also enjoyed several liege waffles at the Waffle Window, a bustling little spot with oodles of waffle options.

And with every crispy, crunchy bite I took, I vowed to learn how to make these addictive waffles myself. (If you haven’t noticed, my main cooking motivation seems to be to recreate things I love — probably hinged on a combination of frugality and laziness!)

The first step was finding the special sugar, which I bought at an upscale grocery store, though you can find pearl sugar online very easily as well. Lars Own seems to be the most popular brand. They do a larger Belgian sugar (which is what I used) and a smaller Swedish sugar (which I have in my cupboard, stashed away).

I’ve read in a pinch you can also use broken up sugar cubes, which I find intriguing. Might have to try it out sometime just for kicks!

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Once the pearl sugar was procured, I moved on to finding a recipe. I had actually intended to use this one but ended up going with the one of the back of the box due to the shorter rising time.

What sets these apart from any of the waffles I’ve made before is that the batter is a yeasted dough. This means that these waffles require some forethought and time because they will need about 30-60 minutes to rise depending on the recipe used.

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Yeasted Dough for Liege Waffles

Once the dough is ready to roll, stir in the sugar. The recipe called for the whole 10 oz package to be thrown in. In hindsight I’d say you could use half of that and they will still be plenty sweet. These waffles were very, very good, but they quite certainly would have been just as tasty with less sugar.

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Adding the pearl sugar

Then put the dough in your heated waffle iron and you’re ready to go! They will take about 3-5 minutes to cook.

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You can just see the caramelized sugar coating shining through!

When I made my first batch I was with Oliver, a fitting coincidence given his role in leading me to the world of liege waffles. We topped ours with fresh berries (which gave the dish some much-needed tartness) and slight dusting of powdered sugar.

They were crack on a plate. I kid you not.

Fresh Berries

We also made a few with crispy bacon crumbled in. Normally I am a bacon purist, I like bacon on its own but not really in things. But the batch of bacon waffles were shockingly good — the salt, smoke and generally savoriness of the meat made the sweetness of the waffle even more delicious.dsc_3685

Craving that sweet but salty balance again, I re-heated some of the leftover waffles the following night for dinner.

* These waffles keep great by the way — the melted sugar keeps them crispy and a quick trip in an oven or toaster is all they need to be just as tasty a second time around.*

After they were heated through, I topped them with fresh spinach, grape tomatoes, caramelized onions, queso fresca and some grated Parmesan.

Pure. Bliss.

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I seriously can’t wait to make them again!

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Liege Waffles with Bacon

 

Capturing the magic of the daikon “carrot” cake

 

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I was so happy with this meal, I almost cried. For real.

I have mentioned the Pok Pok cookbook on this blog a few times, as it’s one of the few cookbooks I actually use. The majority of the (hundreds of!) cookbooks in my house belong to my husband, and at most I just peruse them for the pretty pictures. But Andy Ricker, chef/owner of Pok Pok, makes food that is so addictively good I can’t help but want to make it at home — as often as possible.

Despite Ricker’s nation-wide fame, some people might not know about Ping, a restaurant that he ran in Portland’s Old Town until it closure 15 months ago. I ate there several times in its heyday, but I quite clearly remember my first dinner there — only because of the dish that made me fall head over heels in love, the savory “carrot” cake.

I had no idea what to expect from such a dish when I ordered it. The menu described it as a stir fry made with eggs, bean sprouts and seared daikon radish cake. It made no mention of carrots whatsoever. And when the dish arrived, there was not a carrot to be found. Instead it was a plate of pure magic.

It’s hard to describe what made the dish so perfect. Perhaps it was the Kecap Manis, the sweet soy sauce that seems to make every stir fry taste ‘just right.’ Or the crispy squares of daikon cake, which were chewy but tender and so full of umami flavor. Or the eggs, which were scrambled in such a way that they helped the sauce coat every single bite.

Years later, I still can’t identify what makes this dish so incredible, but I do recall that I inhaled it and promptly ordered another, to go, so I could enjoy it for lunch the next day. (It took all of my willpower to not eat it as soon as I got home!)

For a while I badgered anyone I knew who had worked at Ping to tell me the secret of the carrot cake, but it wasn’t until the cookbook Portland, Oregon Chef’s Table was released in 2012 that the recipe was finally revealed.

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A photo of the original dish, featured in the Portland Oregon Chef’s Table cookbook.

Yes, it’s taken me 2 years to try to recreate the recipe — simply because I was intimidated by the idea of making my own steamed daikon cake. I guess my culinary confidence has expanded since then because after rediscovering the cookbook, I couldn’t wait to give it a whirl.

* While I would recommend you buy the cookbook yourself, after all there is a lovely recipe from my husband in there, I will send you here for a “published with permission” link to the recipe.

I started with a quick trip to the Asian market for a hefty two-pound daikon radish, plus bean sprouts, cilantro, Thai rice flour and the ever important Kecap Manis.

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Ingredients assembled, I began the process of making the radish cake, which was surprisingly not difficult in the least.

Start by grating the daikon. Then heat up a large skillet and fry the radish in some oil. After about 5 minutes, add water and bring to a boil. Cook until softened, about 15 minutes.

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Softening the daikon in water

Then mix with a rice flour slurry:

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Softened daikon, rice flour, water and salt & pepper

Dump into an oiled aluminum pan and steam until cooked through. The recipe said 15 minutes, but mine needed much longer. Ricker never mentioned what size of aluminum pan he used though so maybe his was larger, allowing the cake to be thinner.

So just steam until it’s not mushy in the middle. It will firm up after it cools too. And if you have to “resteam” it later because you think it needed more time, that’s okay too. *ahem*

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Here it is cooled:

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Yay! My very first daikon cake!

It’s pretty sturdy!

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Then cut into cubes and it’s time to move on to the actual dish.

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Squares of daikon cake, scallions, cilantro and bean sprouts

Fry up the cakes in a non-stick pan. Get them nice and brown and crispy.

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Then add all the rest of the goodies, starting with sliced onions and garlic, moving on to bean sprouts and eggs, and finishing with sweet soy, soy sauce and the scallions. Top with torn cilantro.

The first bite I took made me giddy. It was absolutely perfect — the flavors were exactly how I remembered. And I still have half a radish cake in my freezer for when I get my next craving.

If you are feeling frisky I highly recommend giving this a try. You shouldn’t go through life without tasting some of this magic yourself!

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Methven Winery and the case of the stolen pinot noir

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Last weekend I was fortunate enough to help represent my company at an open house for Painted Hills Natural Beef. While Painted Hills beef is from Fossil, OR, the company had paired up with Methven Family Wines in Dayton for the event — which meant a trip out to wine country!

Oregon wine country, as you have seen before, is a beautiful place and knowing that a fabulous — and free! — dinner was waiting made the gorgeous drive from Portland all the better. I won’t mention that gorgeous drive included an hour of terrible traffic — let’s just focus on the pretty (and delicious) stuff!

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This was what greeted us when we arrived…

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I never say no to pinot!

After checking out the scenery, my co-worker Ariel and I went to check out the food — always a high priority for us. The dinner was served buffet style, but what a feast there was: Painted Hills striploin, scalloped potatoes, grilled veggies and a salad of spinach, blue cheese and pears.

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A plate full of happy.

Now here’s where the fun starts. Everyone chose their seats prior to lining up for food. So when returned to our chairs, Ariel and I noticed something that had slipped past us before, each table came with a bottle of wine, snuggled up in a burlap bag. Since drinks had to be purchased, we were very excited at the prospect of free wine.

However, on our table sat a bottle of white wine, which wasn’t cold and didn’t sound like the best pairing for our steak. So while our neighboring table was at the buffet, we convinced another co-worker to swap out their bottle of pinot noir for our pinot gris. After all, they had only dropped their jackets there, surely they hadn’t even noticed if their table had red or white wine. Right?

Nope. We were totally busted! Luckily after giving us a hard time, they seemed to forgive us, which was good because we had already cracked it open and started drinking. The bottle was dry when all the ‘thank you for coming’ speeches were over and then someone got on the microphone and said, “Everyone flip your chairs over, if you have a sticker on the bottom of your chair, you get to take home the bottle of wine on your table!”

Uh….

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The (very empty) evidence of our dishonesty

Good thing for us my boss won the bottle at our table. We just let him know he had treated us to his wine and thanked him. I’m not too sure if he was pleased by that but what can you do?

Go outside and enjoy more pretty!

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Rainbow at Methven Family Wines

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Just another lovely evening in wine country.

Business trips are better when your business is meat!

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Beef Tartare, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

I posted a teaser last week about my business trip to Seattle in which I promised more pictures would be coming. I have finally gotten my act together so here’s how I spent my 5 days “working” in the Emerald City! (As a side note — working in the meat industry really has its perks — we ate constantly.)

On the drive to Seattle from Portland, we stopped in Olympia to get dinner at the Water Street Cafe. The food was pretty fabulous and the pasta special was super good. I’m going to ignore the sprinkling of dried parsley on the rim.

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The next day, my friend and co-worker Breezy and I embarked on day-long trip around Seattle doing sales calls.

We started in Ballard:

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Watching our lunch cook at Stoneburner

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Roasted cauliflower with agro dolce and an incredible pizza with sausage, olives and mozzarella. Oh yeah, and a bottle of rosé.

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Inside Stoneburner — a very pretty restaurant.

After 25 other sales calls (not involving eating and drinking, I swear) it was 5 pm. Exhausted and in need of sustenance, we found an adorable little wine shop/cafe called The Bottlehouse where we settled in for some happy hour treats:

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The most incredible cheesy sandwich with tomato jam and a pickle, The Bottlehouse.

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I like pink wine!

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The next day we did more sales calls, hitting up two of my favorite butcher shops, The Swinery (in West Seattle) and Rain Shadow Meats (which has two locations, Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square).

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The Swinery, West Seattle

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Porchetta sandwich topped with crispy pork bits, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

Since it was a Saturday, we spent the rest of the day wandering around town. We stumbled across a shop called Glassybaby. It was full of the most beautiful hand blown glass votives and tumblers I have ever seen. Absolutely gorgeous colors! If I could have afforded it, I would have bought them all.

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We popped into Nacho Borracho, a new restaurant specializing in nachos (of course) and fabulous boozy slushies. Seriously, the nacho were amazing — their homemade cheese sauce is the stuff dreams are made of. And the drinks! They were so good I’m still thinking about them. If you live in Seattle, this place should be on your radar. It’s got quality ingredients in a slightly dive bar/hipster type atmosphere. I would live here if I could!

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Nacho Borracho, Seattle, WA

Another evening, my boss treated us all to a never-ending feast at Loulay Kitchen & Bar, followed by more food and drinks at Aragona.

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Seared Foie at Loulay, Seattle, WA

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Panna Cotta, Loulay, Seattle, WA

Basically it was a long weekend full of food, fun and festivities.

I love my job!

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Just a grill full of Iberico pork Costilla Falsa (boneless ribs)…

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Seattle water front from Pike Place Market

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I love the Ferris Wheel in such an industrial looking setting.

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Till next time, Seattle!

A Year in the Making: Springtime Sugar Cookie Nests

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Sugar Cookie Nests

Last year I saw some really, really cute cookies on Pinterest. They were little thumbprint cookies, topped with chocolate and decorated with tiny chocolate eggs. I had every hope of actually making them. But then life happened and my motivation for fiddling around with tiny cookies flew right out the window.

Luckily this year was less chaotic and I actually managed a few sweet spring-time experiments like homemade Peeps and — finally — these little sugar cookie nests. And I have to say they were adorable enough (and tasty enough!) to be worth the wait.

While there are TONS of cookie nest recipes around, I really liked the simplicity of this one — no mini muffin pan necessary, just a basic sugar cookie recipe and some imagination. I contemplated using coconut flakes as the grass, but in the end I went with melted dark chocolate, green jimmies and mini chocolate eggs.

Not much else to say about these except I loved them. The cookie melts in your mouth and the bittersweet dark chocolate offsets the sweetness of the candy egg. They are the perfect happy spring cookie to go with the sometimes rainy, sometimes sunny type of days we’ve been having here lately. And while I’ve never been never a huge fan of rain, I do love the flowers it brings!

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The Peeps make cute plate decorations at least…

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Hot pink and pastel pink are equally happy spring colors!

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My lilacs are going crazy this year — love the way they smell.

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Pretty, pretty tulips.

The Ups and Downs of Homemade Peeps

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When I was younger, I always wanted to like Peeps — they were so cute and colorful and looked so festive it was hard not to want to bite their little heads off. But even as a kid, I’d get halfway through the pack and lose interest. They just weren’t as delicious as their bright candy colors made them seem. (They were still better than Cadbury Eggs, with their creamy yolks that still give me the creeps, but a far cry from my favorite Easter candy, mini-Whopper Robin Eggs.)

And yet, this year I became obsessed with making my own. After all — homemade marshmallows are infinitely better than store-bought ones, so it would seem that homemade Peeps would follow the same logic.

I did some recipe and technique research before I began, which led me to trying out Alton Brown’s recipe for marshmallows. Normally I am a big proponent of Martha Stewart’s recipe, but it seemed like as good a time as any to try something new. (Personally I still find Martha’s recipe to be fluffier and sweeter, but feel free to use whatever recipe you like best.)

If you are a newbie at marshmallow making, make sure you have a candy thermometer that is calibrated and that actually works (mine broke and I ended up having to test for the soft ball stage using a cup of water. Effective but not very fun). Also prepare yourself for the mess, especially if you try to color part of your mixture like I did. Imagine yourself in a stringy web of sugar — it gets everywhere!

And in hindsight, dying the marshmallows was pretty silly. The sugar covers them anyways, I was just experimenting.

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Pink and White Marshmallows. They look unassuming but managed to put up quite a fight.

After the marshmallow mixture is made, scoop it into a greased pan and press it down with greased hands or a spatula. You will be cutting them out with cookie cutters so you don’t want it thicker than the cutter you plan to use. Don’t worry if they look bumpy or a little wrinkled. The sugar will hide any blemishes.

Then let the pans sit for 4 hours or overnight. This gives you plenty of time to clean the sticky sugar mess off your counters (though really why bother…it’s about to get worse) and turn your entire kitchen inside out looking for every bottle of sanding sugar you own. As a note — the finer the sugar, the better.

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Perfect Peep Pink!

Then comes the fun, incredibly messy and occasionally frustrating part — decorating the Peeps.

The sugar won’t really stick to the front and backs of the marshmallows as most recipes will have you dust them in a combination of confectioners sugar and cornstarch so you can handle them. This means the sugar will only coat the sides where they have been cut.

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I learned that by dipping  a pastry brush in water and gently dabbing the ‘mallows that the sugar would stick fairly well. Which meant I had water, a brush, dishes of sugars plus the marshmallows all. over. the. place.

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This was actually the eye of the storm…

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Don’t mind the nubbins in the middle of the plate…

Sugar will most likely get everywhere. I promise you. You will need way more than expected and so you’ll keep dumping it into plates, realizing that the cute little dishes you poured it in won’t work at all. Really, what were you thinking?

But in the end, you will be greeted with adorableness and every granule of sugar lodged into your skin, your socks and in your hair will have been worth it.

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The Blue Bunny

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The flower cutter doubles as a bunny tail!

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Homemade Easter Peeps

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Bunny tail!

Now are you ready for the bad news? They tasted terrible! Like weird metallic grossness. The marshmallows themselves were fine and dandy but the sugar coating made them awful. I googled as much as I could but didn’t really find a good answer, though a friend of mine told me it was most likely some form of anti-caking mixture added to the sugar that would make them taste “off” when used in large quantities.

It seemed like a reasonable answer since I’ve used the sprinkles before, in much lesser amounts, without ever noticing anything weird.

So these Peeps will get to keep their heads. I’m seeing if they dry out well enough that I can coat them in something (Modge Podge? Shellack? any suggestions?) and have them last a few years as fun Easter decorations.

Even though I didn’t eat them, I still feel like mission “make Peeps” has been accomplished. Next up on my candy bucket list is to make black licorice.

Have you ever tried to recreate an old childhood favorite? Did it work out or were you disappointed in the results?

Salted limes make vodka happy…

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Salted Lime Vodka Collins

I’ve been on a real Pok Pok tear lately — I’ve been cooking out of the book for the past few weeks and my daydreams have begun to feature fish sauce wings (a recipe I haven’t made yet). But even more than Ike’s famous wings, I have been craving a certain cocktail from Pok Pok — the salted plum vodka collins. Besides the odd beer here and there, this is the only thing I drink while dining there.

It is sweet, tart, tangy and intriguingly different from any other cocktail I’ve had. Once I discovered it, it was all I ever needed.

In fact I used to sit at the bar in the early days of Pok Pok (when it was less busy and you could actually just walk in and sit there) and stare down the bartender as he made it. I was determined to figure the recipe out — and after a few drinks one evening, I had it on mental lock down.

But alas, the day I was craving it the strongest, I didn’t have any salted plums on hand to get my fix. However I did have salted limes, which one of Pok Pok’s sister restaurants, The Whiskey Soda Lounge, uses in their salted lime vodka collins. Unsurprisingly, that is my go-to cocktail when I eat there.

Clearly there is a theme in my life — I like vodka drinks, I love salted things and put an Amarena cherry in there and I’m sold!

The ingredients for both cocktails are the same, except for the limes and plums, of course.

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The basics…not pictured is the soda water.

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Now the salted limes and plums are not really palatable on their own, but muddled into a drink, they are phenomenal. They add a salinity I adore and a certain mouthfeel that I can never quite describe to people. It’s still a light, quenching drink but there is just something lingering and almost weighty about the flavor.

So hard to describe — guess you’ll just have to make it some time to see what I’m talking about! Which leads me to the exact recipe which features Andy Ricker himself (chef/owner of Pok Pok) whipping up the drink in a video format.

As you can see, it’s a seriously easy cocktail. Muddle, add ice and liquids, shake and serve. The hardest part is tracking down the salted fruit (found in many Asian markets) and the Amarena cherries (upscale grocery stores or online). And once you taste a sip, hopefully you’ll agree that this drink is one of the most delicious concoctions ever.

Here it is poured right from the shaker:

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Salted Lime Vodka Collins

Finally — my favorite part — garnish with an Amarena cherry (or two).

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Salted Lime Vodka Collins

Celebrating St. Paddy’s with the Irish Holy Trinity of Booze

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Irish Car Bomb Jello Shots

In culinary school I learned the about the trinity of mire poix: onions, carrots and celery. I also learned the holy trinity used in Cajun or Creole cooking: onion, celery and green bell pepper. If one was to put together a boozy trinity for St. Paddy’s Day, it seems obvious it would include Jameson, Baileys and Guinness.

And in fact, those three boozy friends come together often (probably most often on college campuses all over the country) to form the drink known as the Irish Car Bomb. I’m not really huge on the name of the shot — which is insensitive at best — but it’s what this combination is most known as so I’m going to roll with it for this post.

To help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and to help make my Monday less dreary, I decided to whip a batch of Irish Car Bomb Jello Shots up over the weekend. I found the recipe on Gizmodo and the reviews of it seemed like it was winner so I hightailed it to the liquor store to pick up the necessities:

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They didn’t take long to make and the recipe is very straightforward. You start with the base layer — a combination of whiskey, Guinness, sugar and gelatin. Once that has set (about an hour or so depending on the size of vessel you use), make the top layer. That one is a slightly creamy, very dreamy layer of Baileys, water and gelatin. Then let the shots set up — which will take another hour or so — and then let the good times roll!

And trust me — as one would expect from a shot made with three different types of alcohol, these are definitely potent. Gizmodo says each shot is roughly 12% and while I can’t vouch for the math, I can say the sample I tried gave me a warming whiskey burn.

The only complaint I have is that I don’t like my Jello shots really stiff. I prefer them to have more jiggle to them, more squishy than something I really need to chew. But I realize not everyone feels like that, so this consistency is probably fine for many people. Personally the next time around, I will try these with half the gelatin called for — or maybe I’ll just up the booze! — because the shots were very firm.

Faux Pok (Pok): Making yam khai dao at home

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Fried Egg Salad (yam khai dao) from the Pok Pok Cookbook

Last year was the year for Portland cookbooks. In fact it seemed like every time I went on Eater, another chef had landed a deal and was working on a book. In the final few months of 2013, several well-known local talents, like chefs Gabe Rucker and John Gorham, released books that were hot commodities all over the country.

Most of the books I was content to just flip through at Powells, but there was one that had to be mine — Andy Ricker’s cookbook for his nationally acclaimed restaurant Pok Pok. Pok Pok is a place dedicated to Thai street food, made famous by their incredible fish sauce chicken wings. After a few very successful years, Pok Pok became so popular that Ricker opened several new restaurants throughout town (all with a slightly different Thai spin) and even opened a spot in NYC.

And while I, like most people, love the Pok Pok wings, the one dish I always, always order is the yam khai dao or fried egg salad. It was hard to put my finger on why I love it so much but after reading Ricker’s description of the dish, I solved the mystery.

The vinaigrette that dresses the greens, herbs and crispy egg is perfectly balanced. There is heat fire from the Thai chiles, a bit of funk from the fish sauce, sweetness from the palm sugar simple syrup and zing from the lime juice. It’s one of those dishes that sucks you in from the first bite and you just can’t stop eating it. Or thinking about it. Or craving it.

So, of course, it was the first dish I had to make from the cookbook.

Disclaimer: While I would absolutely recommend buying yourself a copy of this book, you can find a copy of this recipe here.

I started by sourcing all of my ingredients, which necessitated a special trip to the Asian market for Thai fish sauce, Chinese celery, a disc of palm sugar and Thai chiles. The rest of the items were already in my fridge: lime, onion, garlic, carrots, lettuce and cilantro. And of course, two eggs.

Pok Pok

Yam Khai Dao – Fried Egg Salad

Once the hunting and gathering was completed, the fun began.

The recipe has one sub-recipe for the vinaigrette: a palm sugar simple syrup, which was, well, simple. It’s basically a few ounces of palm sugar melted in water.

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I even got the kitchen scale out for this one!

The simple syrup recipe makes about a quarter cup, but only a few teaspoons are needed for the egg salad. Happily the rest is excellent in cocktails.

Next up is veg prep — some mincing, some chopping and a little bit of julienne.

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Once the mise en place is taken care of, it’s time to fry up the eggs. According to Ricker these can be made up to 15 minutes in advance. The most important part is frying them over high heat so the eggs get a nice crispy crust. Just don’t overcook them — you want the yolks almost set, no more.

Once they have rested for a few minutes, cut each egg into quarters.

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High heat, plenty of oil and cooked until the yolk is barely set.

In a large pan, or wok, warm up the dressing. Then add in the eggs, veggies and herbs and toss gently to coat. Note: This isn’t a warm, wilted salad but neither is it a cold salad — don’t cook the greens and herbs, just get the chill off.

Final step — plate up and dig in!

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Yay!

Keeping my word would be easier if it was February 31st

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Remember last month in January when I said I was going to dedicate a post each month to trying a recipe made by a fellow WordPress blogger? High off my bacon-onion marmalade success, I had all the confidence in the world for February. And then my birthday happened. I spent one weekend in Tacoma with family, one weekend (my actual birthday) with a few close friends and the third weekend was my big blow-out party.

So basically I would just like all of us to pretend that February is not a short month and that I haven’t already failed at my resolution. Everyone in agreement? Excellent!

img_88151But this post needed to be new stuff and since I was already late, I figured I’d try out two of Liz’s recipes to make up for being a slacker. The first one was super quick, I whipped it up in 10 minutes: spicy edamame hummus with lime and jalapeño.For February, I wanted to tackle a recipe from one of my longest standing blogging buddies, Liz from food for fun and deLizious Food Communications. I actually made a recipe from her blog last summer, the Mr. Wonderful White Cake, for a family reunion potluck. And it was, in fact, just as delicious as she had promised. It was also incredibly easy to whip up which was good because I was on such a time crunch that I almost bought a cake mix. This was ten times better!

The most time-consuming element of this recipe is cooking the soy beans, which took 5 minutes. Then everything is loaded into the food processor and blended with a touch of olive oil until it’s the consistency you prefer. A recipe this easy means that the next time you have a snack craving, this hummus could save you from a less healthy temptation.

I ate mine after a painfully long grocery shopping excursion. I arrived home so hungry I thought I would pass out…or scarf down a bag of chips. But instead I made this and felt so much better. It’s flavorful, you can make it as spicy as you like and it has the benefits of soy beans (protein, fiber and antioxidants). It’s also very pretty!

More bonuses: the list of ingredients is both small and affordable. Requiring no tahini, it gets some heat from the chile and its tanginess from the lime. And, of course, it calls for garlic — because hummus without garlic is like peanut butter without jelly. It was great with flat bread but I’m going to be eating it all week at work with fresh veggies instead.

The second deLizious recipe on my plate this week is French bread. I should mention I haven’t made bread since culinary school…12 years ago. Stay posted to see how it turned out!