Monday, December 31, 2007

Feliz Navidad - Mole pt. 3

The day of reckoning. I've got a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it. Honestly, it wouldn't have gotten done without a lot of help from LP and DS. Many thanks...

First, blend up the chocolate, nut, seed, and bread mixture with a little turkey stock into one sauce. Then, blend the dried and fried chiles and a bit of stock into a second sauce.

Second, brown the turkey in lard.

Third, in reserved lard, warm, darken, and thicken chile sauce before adding chocolate mixture. Finally, add 5 cups stock, and simmer for about an hour.

Fourth, bake the turkey, covered in the finished sauce, in a roasting pan. Then, after baked, pull meat out of sauce, cool, remove skin and debone.

Finally, place the deboned turkey in serving dish, pour sauce over, sprinkle with sesame seeds, garnish with a little cilantro, and serve with rice and tortillas.

CC (from The Devouring Woman) and her father made a tortilla soup, and BC made a tres leches cake. We had Negro Modello and Tequilla Rickeys to drink.

All in all, a fantastic Christmas meal with good friends...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Feliz Navidad - Mole pt. 2

My plan is to combine days 2 and 3 together, leaving day 4 on it's own so that Christmas day isn't too crazy. To make a long story short, it doesn't happen...

Day 2 calls for cutting up the turkey and making the stock. Seems simple enough... While the stock is simmering, I can complete day 3's tasks (finish the sauce, brown the turkey in lard and bake it, etc). Except that the I need the stock to make the sauce. What was I thinking? Why didn't I read the recipe in full?

So, this morning, Christmas morning, I am starting early. The dried, lard fried peppers are reconstituting, the stock is ready, and I'm prepared to cook the meat.

Wish me luck.

Here's a few pics of the bird and stock (thanks, CG, for the new cleaver!!)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Feliz Navidad - Mole pt. 1

I'm making mole for Christmas dinner this year. I'm using Rick Bayless' Authentic Mexican for the recipe, which is WAY too long and involved to copy here. I'll try to paraphrase for you, offering figures and illustrations where necessary...

Rick says you can complete the whole task in 7 hours from start to finish in one day, but that if you spread it over 4 days, the flavors are allowed to develop more fully, and it is less stress on the home cook. I'm tweaking his days a little, but it will be spread from Saturday, December 22 to Tuesday, December 25.

Bayless says "Day 1 - Assemble the ingredients and compete the toasting/frying" portiong of the recipe. I spend day 1 assmebling the ingredients and day 2 on the toasting and frying...

Saturday, the 22nd: I hit New Seasons first, and find most of what I need. I know I want to buy the lard from Viande. In addition, NS dosen't have the chiles mulatos I need. On my way downtown, I check Jesusito Market on N Interstate, Whole Foods in the Pearl, and Fred Meyer NW for the missing peppers. No dice. I arrive at City Market in the NW for the lard, and I hope they might have the peppers, but they don't.

I meet CC for lunch at Russell St BBQ, and she suggests checking for the peppers at Don Pancho carniceria on Alberta. Sure enough, they have what I am looking for.

Task 1 - Assemble the Ingredients - Check!

Sunday the 23rd: I start by measuring out all the ingredients, cuting, slicing, and chopping where necessary...

Next come the peppers. I have to stem, seed, and devein the dried chiles. That's 28 peppers. Takes a while, but I finally get them done.

Next, I toast the seeds (sesame, chile, and coriander).

Then the frying starts. I plop a generous portion of lard into my great grandmother's cast iron skillet and get to work. Peppers, almonds, raisins, onions, garlic, one by one, all adding amazing aromas to my house...

Then, I fry up a corn tortilla and some stale bread, and add all of the above (expect for the peppers) to a can of drained whole tomates and broken up Mexican chocolate.

Tomorrow? Deconstruct a turkey, turkey stock, soaking peppers, finishing sauce, and cooking turkey. Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My new cheese cave...

As some of you know, I worked the harvest at Ch. Coupe-Roses in France this past September. I spent two amazing weeks in the town a La Caunette, and I've put some pictures way down below, as (unfortunately) my trip isn't really the point of this post...

Everyone knows the French motto "Liberté, égalité, fraternité," right? While there, I learned the motto of the French table, "Pain, Vin, Fromage." We consumed this trilogy at nearly every meal (we substituted cafe for vin at petite dejunnier).

And for the cheese, my hosts had a fantastic little cheese cave in their fridge. I shit you not, it was a Tupperware brand "Cave a Fromage." I love cheese, and I wanted one of these, but instead of carrying it back with me, I decided to track it down once back in the states. You know, we have Tupperware here too...

Or so I thought. After an exhaustive search of the web and stores as well as e-mails and phone calls to Tupperware, I realized I was in trouble. Not only weren't these sold in America, they couldn't even ship to me. I found a few on French e-bay, but with the shipping and exchange rate, the price was out of control.

And then it dawned on me, CG's folks were heading to France the following week. Could they be persuaded to bring one home to me? After a few e-mails, they agreed. Then in late November, the cheese caves (yes plural) arrived. One small and one large. These are Tefal brand, not Tupperware, but I'm not complaining. These are even better than the ones I used in France. Merci beaucoup, Steve!!

I've been using them for a few weeks now, and I love them. The keep the cheese at a better humidity than what the fridge normally offers, and they filter the smells of more pungent cheeses as well. What a delight. In the cheese cave pictured above? Montgomery's Mature Cheddar from the UK (the guys at Setve's Cheese tell me this is the best wheel they've ever had, it is simply fantastic), Abbaye de Belloc (a sheep's milk cheese from the Pyranees), and Mary's Peak goat cheese pyramid from River's Edge Chevre (who is quickly becoming my favorite Oregon creamery).

If you are over in France and you like cheese, I'd recommend bringing one (or two) back with you...

Now for the pics of La Caunette. There are from my visit in early 2006, but I assure you absolutely nothing has change...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Long time readers of my little blog will know that I like a good cup of coffee. One of my favorites, Panama Esmeralda Especial, is back at Stumptown after a bit of an absence.

Here's what the Stumptown page has to say about this coffee...
The 100% geisha varietal from Hacienda La Esmeralda, known as Esmeralda Especial has won first prize in every single cupping competition it has ever been submitted in. The Peterson family first came across these trees on their farm in the early 1990's looking for a way to survive one of the most historically oppressive coffee market crises in history. The long, dangling arms, large cherries and minimal yield were unlike any varietal known in Panama to date. The Peterson's separated the coffee and entered it into the Best of Panama auction in 2004. It has commanded record prices at auction every year since. Stumptown Coffee Roasters has been committed customers of the Peterson's since 2004 when we bought the auction lot and will continue to bring our customers this unique coffee for years to come. With every sip, you will taste pineapple, clementine, key lime, papaya, mango, bergamot, all spice, and high percentage cacao, with a champagne grape finish.
I paid $21 for 3/4 of a pound, which seems quite fair to me for a top tier coffee. However, almost every other roaster on the web is charging more like double or triple that price for this Panama. Am I drinking the real deal? Maybe Duane Sorensen got a pre-auction lot before the price skyrocketed? Anyone know the story?