05/30/14

On Real Food and Home Cooking

Empty Shelves

Someday I want to write a cookbook based on the premise that you can eat anything you want, any time you want, as long as you personally cook every bite from scratch ingredients.

You see, I disagree that people “don’t have time to cook” (I kinda have to, right?)…but really, I believe that:

1: people choose not to prioritize home cooking (we all have 24 hours in a day), largely due to social pressures and media influence, and…

2: people with little cooking experience don’t understand that home cooking can be simple, healthy, fast, and affordable… a position of ignorance that corporate food has been more than happy to encourage and profit from.

In our MY KITCHEN program, we teach foster kids, many with ZERO kitchen experience, how to cook simple, healthy meals in classes lasting less than an hour.

Regardless of what Food Network (and their frozen food sponsors) would LIKE us to think…you don’t have to be an Iron Chef to cook real food.

100_4719There’s also the ever-growing trend towards convenience “foods”, again much of it due to corporate marketing, who’s been trying to push their C-Rations on us since they were forced to find a non-military market at the end of WWII.

We’re reaching a critical tipping point in history where it will no longer be a matter of IF I choose to cook from scratch, but that there won’t be raw ingredients available to do so.

Lack of business and ever-tightening “regulations” are putting small farms, farmer’s markets, and artisanal food producers out of business in droves (and not by accident) while corporations are buying up larger tracts of farmland at a historic rate. As the supply diminishes, so does the knowledge, interest, and demand.

Unless something is done to change the trends…our great-grandchildren will be shopping in a food desert, and happily munching their solent green, and never know what they’re missing.

Retailers, of course, have a much more vested interest in moving people toward “meal assembly” than actual cooking.

There’s less waste, it’s easier to stock and store more “high profile” products in less space, and the shelf-lives (ie: the amount of time they have to get it sold) are vastly greater with frozen and pre-packaged foods. I’m not sure what the difference in mark-up is, but with 30% of our fresh produce ending up in the dumpster, the gap has to be pretty marginal.

rachael_ray_02

Finally, how much responsibility should we place on the TV shows, magazines and food writers of the past decade’s “foodie movement” for possibly widening the rift between “us and them” (ie: people who cook and people who don’t) by making it more about entertainment and “food porn” than practical application?

You’ll note that Food Network (and all the others) may be yapping incessantly about “farm to table” during the shows…but the ad time is filled with pre-packaged garbage and convenience food. Is the underlying message that…

“We both know you can’t do what you just watched Bobby do…but doesn’t THIS look almost as good?”

Change and education are the key to regaining responsibility for our family’s health and nutrition, not conceding to a corporate food mentality that will always, ALWAYS place the security of their shareholders over the health of our families.

Your thoughts?

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

05/24/14

National Clean Your Grill Weekend!


Happy “National Clean Your Grill Weekend!”

Okay, I made that up…but let’s face it, for a lot of folks today (and tomorrow) are when we pull the trusty ol’ Webers or gas grills out of the back of the garage to kick the tires and light the fires.

How to clean a grill for Spring.Even though I tend to keep the bbq running year-round, I do look forward to the more favorably weathered outdoor cooking months, as I tend to have more company around the grill.

Shirt-sleeves, chilled adult beverages, lawn chairs, and lots and lots of beautiful smoke!

However, if your grill needs to come out of hibernation, here are my top 5 tips for spring cleaning and tunin’ her up for summer…

(In step-by-step order)

5. Kick the tires

At least once a year (and this is as good a time as any) I recommend disconnecting, cleaning, and reconnecting all tubes and hoses. Things swell, shrink, rot and rust in cold weather––and propane leaks can take all the fun out of that first bbq of Spring!

A good rule of thumb: if I see something that makes me think, “I wonder if I should replace that?” I should. Is there a loose wheel, or a squeaky hinge that’s going to bug you for the rest of the year? Take it apart and clean, tighten, or replace it now…you’ll be too busy cooking later.

Dragon Claws Recipe

Dragon Claws (click on pic for the recipe)

Oh, make sure to sweep out and hose down your favorite grill spot on the deck or patio. Leaves, branches, pet toys, and other miscellany…in other words: tinder…have a habit of gathering in those corners over the winter.

“A little clean up now will make that first BBQ party of the year much more enjoyable. Making sure everything is in good working order will pay off big, later.” – Chef Chris

4. Clean the Interior

If you haven’t already, shut off, then disconnect the gas supply to your grill.

Remove the cooking grates and, using a soft wire brush, clean any loose debris from the insides of the body and lid. If your gas jets aren’t removable, I recommend covering them with a length of tape before you start cleaning. This helps minimize the chances of gunking up the holes with loose debris.

Remove the cooking grates and, using a soft wire brush, clean any loose debris from the insides of the body and lid. Scrape your "flavor panels" with a putty knife or scraper, and use a wire brush to remove ash. Remove the plates and brush any gunk off of burners with a wire brush.

Scrape your “flavor panels” with a putty knife or scraper, and use a wire brush to remove ash. Remove the plates and brush any gunk off of burners with a wire brush. Brush all debris from inside the grill into the drip pan, and dispose of it.

Oh, and just one guy’s opinion: I never line my drip pans with aluminum foil. I know it makes for easier clean-up, but it can also prevent the grease from flowing properly, which can be a fire hazard (not to mention it can negatively affect the flavor of my food). Scrape out the pan with a putty knife or scraper, and all the debris should be scraped into the grease trap.

3. Prep the Grates

This is an easy way to clean grill grates and get them ready for Spring.Now, I know this has never happened to you, but I’ve heard of some folks who open their grill in the spring and find the remnants of the meal they cooked on it last season.  Lucky for them, cleaning these nasty, neglected grill-grates is actually easier than most people realize, and you can usually forego the brushes, a dirty sink and a bunch of elbow grease, if you start the day before.

Lay a plastic bag on the ground, top with damp newspaper, then lay your grate on top. Give the grates a healthy spray of oven cleaner, and cover with another layer of moist newspaper (dampening the newspaper keeps it from sticking to the grates). Follow this with another plastic bag. Batten down the edges so the whole mess doesn’t end blowing into the next yard.

Grilling the perfect hamburger

Grilling the perfect hamburger…click the pic to learn how!

The next day, hose down the grates thoroughly, and then wash off any remaining oven cleaner residue with hot soapy water. Rinse the grates again, dry, and coat lightly with vegetable oil, and you’re good to go! (Just a note: only use this method after checking with your owner’s manual. Some manufacturers warn against using oven cleaner on any part of their grill.)

Lastly, plan to fire up your grill for 30 minutes or so (on High) to burn off any possible remaining residue, before the first use.

Cleaning grill grates is easier than most people realize, and you can skip the brushes, a dirty sink and a bunch of elbow grease, if you start the day before.

2. Pretty up the Exterior

Let’s face it, we eat first with our eyes, and I’ve eaten more than one perfectly good steak that probably would have tasted a lot better if the grill hadn’t looked like it had been yanked out of the bottom of a drainage ditch just before cooking.

First things first, power hose the exterior to get rid of any dirt, crud, or creepy-crawlies. Next, use a bucket of hot, soapy water, an old towel, and maybe bristle brush, or a putty knife, and clean every nook and cranny.

You don’t want to use abrasive cleaners to clean any painted, porcelain or stainless steel parts. I’ve found that a mild dish-soap (the stuff made for hand-washing) works just fine. Porcelain enamel components must be handled with additional care (read your user’s manual, or contact the manufacturer).

Touch-up enamel, and high-heat spray paint is available from your dealer.

Exterior grill surfaces should be cleaned while warm to the touch, with warm soapy water.

How to grill the perfect hot dog

How to grill the perfect hot dog – Click pic for our tips!

1. The Test Run

My number one piece of advice, when gearing up for grill season, is to do a full blown test run…on a night when failure is an option.

The last thing you want, when the boss and his wife are ready for their rib-eyes, or you’ve got a house-full of hungry dinner guests, is to discover that the reverse glamfram widget in the secondary intake fluxuator has burned out and your grill won’t throw enough fire to thaw an ice-cube.

Plan a simple grilled dinner for the family, using all the burners, and any special accessories on your grill (have the local pizza-joint’s number on speed-dial, just in case), and make sure that everything works, from fuel, to ignition, to temperature control.

Grill a dinner for the family, using all the burners, and any special accessories on your grill to make sure that everything works, from fuel, to ignition, to temperature control.

Makes notes of any issue that arise, or improvements you’d like to see, and make those upgrades before the boss is standing there with an empty plate!

Also, when you clean up your grill, be sure to clean up your cooking area as well. Patios and decks can gather a lot of debris (read: tinder) in the off season, so make sure you give them a good sweep before lighting the fires.

Speaking of which, have a great Memorial Day weekend, and sometime during all the fun, laughs, and great good, take a moment to reflect, remember and send up a thank you to the brave men and women of our armed services who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free.

Happy Grilling!

-Chef Perry Simply
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

05/20/14

DIY $2.50 Travel Spice Rack

Travel Spice Container

Now, I realize that not everyone spends as much time in other people’s kitchens as I do, but there’s always the occasional picnic, family dinner, or camping trip that requires some on-the-spot cooking, and you never know what you’re going to find in Aunt Mildred’s cupboards (or worse, you have a pretty good idea of what you will!)

You can pick up mini-spice containers online or at specialty kitchen shops, but typically they’re a little spendy, complicated to use, and either don’t hold enough spices for more than one meal, or have openings that are too small to fit a teaspoon into.

So, when I found this beauty at The Tualatin Pharmacy the other day, I was pretty excited. It holds a reasonable amount of my seven most common spices (I’m seriously considering buying a second one, as well) in huge 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 2″ compartments.

It’s lightweight, durable, easy to use, and best of all, it was a whopping $2.50!


Some tips:

  • Before you load up your new container (and after you wash and dry it), get out all of your favorite spices, and line them up on the counter according to your favorites and the ones you use the most often. If you enjoy different cuisines, you could get multiple containers and label them according to the type of spices (Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc…)
  • You can use a sharpie to write the names of each spice on the outside of the container, but I recommend using a strip of masking tape so you can change your mind in the future.
  • The snap on these lids are pretty tight, but due to my own paranoia, I like to add a good, tight rubber-band lengthwise down the box. You could also put the whole thing in a gallon zip back for a third layer of protection.
  • For big multi-dish meals with lots of spices, you could also pre-mix the spices for each recipe and store them in an individual section. Dedicate one space each to salt and pepper, and the other 5 to specific recipes!

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Just a note, the great big ones like this can be hard to find, so when you do, splurge and buy a couple of extra for future use.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

 

05/16/14

Garden Scramble with “Everything Bagel” Cheddar

As part of the Cabot Creamery “Cheese Board”, I’m lucky enough to get a box of goodies delivered to my door once a month!

Cabot Cheese BoardYesterday I was once again greeted by the friendly FedEx man with a box filled with lots of great stuff. A heavy canvas shopping bag (look out Farmer’s Market!), a snazzy wine-bottle multi-tool, a huge dish cloth, and, of course, some more amazing cheeses!

Of the three samples I received this time, the “Everything Bagel Cheddar Cheese” caught my eye, and got my mouth watering.

I do love me a good everything bagel, and cheese is, of course, one of my favorite food groups, so the thought of combining the two…had my attention.

Cabot Everything Bagel Cheddar

Of course, Cabot nailed it. It’s exactly what a really good everything bagel would taste like, if topped with a thick slice of excellent white cheddar. Lovely stuff!

After I recovered from my initial swoon, my first thought was,”This would make some killer eggs!”

I was right…

Everything Bagel Scramble

Garden Scramble with “Everything Bagel” Cheddar

3 farm-fresh eggs
2 Tbsp. milk or cream
2 Tbs. butter, divided
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup each red/yellow/orange bell pepper
Dash of salt & pepper
1 Tbs. fresh parsley, divided
1 Tbs. fresh cilantro, divided
2 tsp. fresh chives, divided
3 oz. Cabot “Everything Bagel” Cheddar Cheese
1 round of flatbread (optional)

Mise en Place:

Whisk eggs until just combined, with milk, and a dash of salt and pepper. Mince garlic, dice peppers, and chop fresh herbs. Cut cheddar into 1/4 inch dice. Warm flatbread. Toss herbs to combine.

Prepare the Dish:

In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat and saute garlic, peppers, and 1/2 of the mixed herbs, until peppers just begin to soften. Remove from skillet, set aside and keep warm.

Add remaining butter to the skillet. When butter is hot, pour in the egg mixture and shake the pan until eggs are mostly set (see our post on Perfect Scrambled Eggs, here!)  Next, add the sauteed veggie, herb mixture and cheese cubes, toss, remove eggs from heat and cover until cheese has melted.

To serve, divide scramble between two plates, top with remaining pepper mixture and fresh herbs, and serve with warm flatbread.

Eating in the garden is optional.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

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05/16/14

A flavorful roasting tip

Roast Chicken with Onion Sauce

Here’s a quick tip to adds tons of flavor to your next roasting project:Instead of placing your chicken, or beef roast, on a roasting rack, cut thick slices of onion, put them in an oiled pan, then place the chicken or roast on top.

Scatter a few whole garlic cloves (peeled) and maybe some fresh herbs, as well.

Onions1

The onion will absorb the meat juices, and onion and garlic, simmering in the released broth, will bathe the roast in rich flavor.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter roasting, let the meat rest while you make a sauce with the onions by adding a little stock or wine to the pan, chopping the cooked onions, and cooking it for about 3 minutes on high heat to reduce.

If roasting pork, try adding a splash of cider vinegar before reducing.

Spoon the sauce over the sliced meats, serve and enjoy!

Oh, and for my fellow BBQ junkies…this method is fantastic for smoking a brisket, as well! Simply place peeled and halved onions directly on the grill, with the meat on top and a drip pan below.

Smoked brisket over onions

Rest your brisket, wrapped in foil, for the last hour or two, along with the onions.

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

 

 

05/15/14

All about Omelets

om·e·let – noun: omelet; plural noun: omelets; noun: omelet; plural noun: omelets

A dish of beaten eggs cooked in a frying pan until firm, often with a filling added while cooking, and usually served folded over.

Origin

French omelet, earlier, from lemele ‘knife blade’, from Latin lamella. The association with ‘knife blade’ is probably because of the thin flat shape of an omelet.

29History

The fluffy omelet is a refined version of an ancient food. According to Alan Davidson, the French word omelet came into use during the mid-16th century, but the versions alumelle and alumete are employed by the Ménagier de Paris in 1393.

According to the founding legend of the annual giant Easter omelet of Bessières, Haute-Garonne, when Napoleon Bonaparte and his army were traveling through southern France, they decided to rest for the night near the town of Bessières. Napoleon feasted on an omelet prepared by a local innkeeper that was such a culinary delight that he ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs in the village and to prepare a huge omelet for his army the next day.

Simple French omelet

A beautiful omelet prepared by one of our MY KITCHEN students!

Styles

The French omelet is smoothly and briskly cooked in an extremely hot pan specially made for the purpose. The technique relies on clarified butter (to ensure a high smoke point) in relatively great ratio to the eggs (prevents sticking and cooks the eggs more quickly). Good with just salt and pepper, this omelet is often flavored with tomato and finely chopped herbs (often fine herbs or tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives) or chopped onions. French omelets are also removed from the pan in a manner different from an American omelet. They can be rolled out in a trifold design or just simply slide out of the pan directly into a plate and when made correctly have little to no color to them.

American style omelets are different from a French style in that it is placed in the pan and left until the eggs have cooked through. It will have a nice golden brown crust. The filling is placed into the middle of the omelet towards the end of the end of the cooking process. It is then folded in half and served.

The American omelet/Folded Omelet is definitely a simpler method than the French. It is cooked in a sauté pan with out stirring. The filling is is placed on the eggs just before it is finished. Fold it in half and slid it onto a plate.

A frittata is a kind of open-faced Italian omelet that can contain cheese, vegetables, or even leftover pasta. Frittata are cooked slowly. Except for the cooking oil, all ingredients are fully mixed with the eggs before cooking starts.

And, of course there’s Chef Perry’s favorite: Hangtown fry, containing bacon and breaded oysters, is an unusual omelet that originated in Placerville, California during the gold rush.

Records

On March 19, 1994, the largest omelet (1,383 ft²) in the world at the time was made with 160,000 eggs in Yokohama, Japan, but it was subsequently overtaken by an omelet made by the Lung Association in Brockville, Ontario, Canada on May 11, 2002 — it weighed 2.95 tonnes (6,503.6 lbs.). (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Ham and Cheese Omelet

Chef Chris’s Basic Filled Omelet

Omelets are one of my favorite meals. It was one of my first adventures in cooking. My father would cook them on Saturday mornings while us kids were watching cartoons. When I was older he taught me to cook a classic filled omelet. Now I am passing this tradition to my children. While now days I add things like sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms. The basics are still the same.

Active Time: 5min.                                                        Total Time: 15min.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. milk or cream
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1-2oz. your favorite cheese
  • 1-2oz. Ham
  • Salt & black pepper

Mise en Place

Grate the cheese. Dice the ham. Crack eggs into a small mixing bowl.

Preparation

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Whisk the eggs together with the milk/cream (the milk will help the eggs be a little fluffy) and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Add the ham and the cheese (reserve a pinch or two of cheese for plating) once when the bottom is firm but still runny on the top.

When the eggs are cooked through use a spatula to gently fold omelet in half and slide onto a warm plate. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Serve with a side of fruit and toast or toasted bagel.

05/13/14

Three Tips for Choosing and Storing Avocados

Tips for choosing and storing avocados

It’s avocado season, baby!

One of my favorite foods, I look forward to the glut of fresh, tasty, reasonably priced avocados each Spring.

The only trouble it, it can be hit or miss picking a perfectly fresh avocado. Here are three tips:

Avocado RipenessConcerned that your avocado is too ripe?

Look at the skin under that dry little stem at the pointy end of your avocado. If it’s still green under there, you have a good one.

If it’s brown, you’re likely to find a slimy avocado full of brown spots on the inside.

Need to keep it fresh for a few days?

If you have more avocados that you can eat in the next couple of days (I know, that’s crazy talk) place the extras in the back of the fridge.

Refrigeration halts the ripening process. Just take them out and place them on the counter 24-48 hours (depending on ripeness) before  you plan to use them.

how to ripen avocados

Are they all unripe?

If you find a shipment that all feel like little green baseballs, and you need a nice, ripe avocado by the next day, try this: Place your avocado in a small paper bag along with a ripe banana or apple.

Both bananas and apples release large amounts of ethylene, the hormone that triggers ripening in mature fruit (this is also why you don’t want to store apples or bananas in a fruit bowl with other fruit).

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

It usually takes about 24 hours to convert that rock-hard avocado into one that’s perfectly soft and ready to eat.

Deconstructed Califoria Roll

Oh, and here’s my favorite way to prepare them, a “quick and simple” Deconstructed California Roll. This is about as basic as it gets, and it really let’s the flavor of a beautifully ripe Hass or California avocado shine through!

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

05/5/14

Choosing a New Grill: How Much Grill Do You Need?

Summer’s coming….and that means grill season! Father’s Day cookouts, graduation parties, 4th of July shindigs…the good weather/good food list goes on and on!

If you’re looking for your first grill, a new grill for a new space, or it’s just time to replace ol’ faithful… make sure you’re investing in a grill that will make your time outdoors a bit more memorable.

In a good way.

Finding the right grill for your particular lifestyle can be a challenge and there are many options to choose from. With so many choices out there it can be tough to narrow down your search and, before you know it, you’re staring blankly at your 200th website, in a full-blown Google-coma.

Never fear…if you keep a few simple things in mind, both the process of shopping for and buying your next grill should be much easier.

If I could only have one grill, year-around, I would go with propane. You can use wood pellets, chips, or chunks to get that smoke flavor, and, for the typical backyard griller, the conveniences all fall on the side of gas.

Most grills fall into one of three price ranges: 

Entry-level Grills:

These grills are your basic work-horse. One or two burners, a grate, and a lid. Cost is reasonable, starting at around a hundred, and moving up into the three-hundred-dollar range. In this class you’re not likely to find a lot of bells and whistles like rotisseries, or off-set burners. If you’re an occasional griller, single or with a small family, this is probably a good place to start.

Inexpensive doesn’t mean you want to buy junk. I’m a big believer in the “wiggle test”. Place you hand at one corner of the grill and give it a gentle shake. If there’s a lot of shimmyin’ and shakin’ going on… it’s probably not very well built, and you might want to keep looking.

Mid-level Grills:

These are a bit more expensive, but offer more features than the entry-level gas grill. Prices from three hundred fifty to around a thousand dollars. In this range you’re starting to look at long-term grills, built to withstand heavier use, and including multi-control burners and some of those “convenience features” we just talked about.

This type of grill will typically handle anything that the griller of a medium to large family is going to throw at it.

Deluxe Grills:

The cream of the crop! Starting at around fifteen-hundred, and going up, and up, and up.

These high-end grills often feature big BTU ratings (BTU stands for British thermal unit, which indicates the amount of gas that a grill is able to burn, which corresponds to how much heat it can put out), enough cooking space to feed the whole team, and enough high-tech hardware to launch the space-shuttle. If you like to throw parties, and do some high-volume grilling…and you’ve got the swag, well…life is short!

One guy’s opinion…I’ve owned a LOT of grills over the years, and when it comes to gas grills it’s always best in the long run to choose an established manufacturer in order to get a quality product. This is one of those cases where you really do get what you pay for.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

05/3/14

My favorite breakfast: Hangtown Fry

 Hangtown Fry

People often ask me what my favorite foods are, since I seem to be all over the board when it comes to styles and cuisines. It’s a hard question to answer, and the list changes on an almost daily basis (I think that’s a good thing).

When it comes to breakfast, I love a good congee, a steaming bowl of pho, even a really well done eggs benedict…but my first love will always be Hangtown Fry.

Farm-fresh scrambled eggs, fresh Willapa extra-small oysters sauteed in butter with garlic and shallots, smokey bacon right out of the Traeger… oh, baby!

If I see this on the menu, I close it up and order…with a side of rye toast, please…

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

Hangtown Fry

In 1849, a prospector rushed into the saloon of the El Dorado Hotel announcing that right there in town, along the banks of Hangtown Creek, he had struck it rich. Untying his leather poke and spilling its shining contents of gold dust and nuggets. Turning to the bartender he loudly demanded, “I want you to cook me up the finest and most expensive meal in the house.”

The Bartender called to the cook who said, “The most expensive things on the menu are eggs, bacon and oysters. Take your choice. I can cook you anything you want, but it will cost you more than just a pinch of that gold dust you have there.”

“Scramble me up a whole mess of eggs and oysters,” the prospector said, “throw in some bacon, and serve ’em up. I’m starving!” The cook did just that, and thus the Hangtown Fry was invented.

It consists of fried breaded oysters, eggs, and fried bacon, cooked together like an omelet. In the gold-mining camps of the late 1800s, it became a one-skillet meal for hungry miners who struck it rich and had plenty of gold to spend. Live oysters would be brought to the gold fields in barrels of seawater from as far away as Shoalwater Bay on the Washington Coast.

Such a meal cost approximately six bucks. As a dollar had the equivalent buying power of around thirty dollars today, this was a hundred-and-eighty dollar breakfast. The recipe swept the entire Northwest Territory, from California to Seattle, in the mid-1800s.

A few drinks and a Hangtown Fry were considered a gentleman’s evening.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.

 

Hangtown Fry Recipe

An an honest-to-goodness “traditional” recipe would have the eggs, fried oysters, and bacon all scrambled together. While I prefer my Hangtown fry “deconstructed” as in this recipe, and with sauteed oysters, with are healthier, and whose flavors don’t get muddled with breading and frying oil.

The rest of the ingredients, however, are those shared generously with me by a 4th-generation oyster-man, in Oysterville, WA.

He told me that it went back at least as far as his great-great-grandmother, who ran the kitchen in one of the first hotels on Shoalwater Bay. (Pretty freakin’ cool, huh?)

Serves One (okay, maybe two or three if you’re not a hungry gold miner…)

8 extra-small to small Pacific oysters
4 Tbsp. butter
4 eggs, scrambled in butter, salt, & pepper.
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
3 slices crisp cooked bacon, diced (Center cut, peppered bacon is very nice!)
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped (opt)

Scramble eggs to your liking, and set aside, keeping warm.

Shuck oysters (saving the liquor)rinse to remove any sand, and drain well. If using bottled oysters, you can skip the rinse.

Saute the garlic and shallots in melted butter over medium-low heat, until softened. Add the oysters and liquor, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and cook until just firm. Remove the oysters from the pan (leave the juice) and set aside, keeping warm.

Bring the heat under the pan up to medium high, add cream and vinegar, and reduce to thicken into a pan sauce. Add the oysters back in, toss to coat evenly, and remove from heat.

Place your scrambled eggs on a plate, or in a bowl, top with bacon, then oysters, then a couple of Tbsp. of pan sauce. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro (optional), and serve.

I like mine with dill rye toast, or toasted pretzel rolls (pictured).

Serve when eggs are set. Top with crisp cooked bacon.

Makes 2-4 servings.

—————-

This Hangtown Fry recipe is taken from THE SHOALWATER COOKBOOK: Incredible edibles from the novels Just Past Oysterville and Shoalwater Voices, by Perry P. Perkins

“One cool June morning, a Saturday, Jack rose at first light. After scrambling up some eggs and oysters, a dish known to the locals as Hangtown Fry, he bustled around the house, preparing for their weekly visit to the bookstore.

Dottie had assured him the latest John Grisham legal thriller would be in that week, and Jack was excited to get the book in his hands.”

Just Past Oysterville: Shoalwater Book One – pg 246

05/2/14

Simple Poached Salmon with Lemon-Parsley Orzo

Simple Poached Salmon

Chef Chris and I had a great time doing cooking demos at last night’s “Ladies Night” event at the Portland Sportsman’s Warehouse, supporting Royal Family Kid’s Camps!

The turnout was awesome, and we enjoyed the opportunity to show folks a great, almost full-proof way to prepare a delicate, moist, and delicious salmon dish, regardless of their level of cooking experience.

As promised, here are the recipes!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

16 - Copy

Simple Poached Salmon
4 five-ounce salmon fillets
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs tarragon
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste

3Season the salmon pieces with salt and set aside. Choose a heavy pan just large enough to fit the salmon snugly in one layer and add the wine, tarragon, and just enough water to come halfway up the salmon pieces (but do not add the salmon yet).

Season with a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, immediately turn the heat to very low so it’s barely simmering. Add the fish pieces and cook for 3 1/2 minutes (add an extra minute or two if using steaks), then carefully turn the pieces over and cook for 3 minutes more to finish. Ensure that the water never gets hot enough to boil.

Remove the fish pieces to a warm plate then turn the heat to high to reduce the liquid by half. Whisk in the butter and season to taste with salt and lemon juice, if necessary.

Pour the sauce over the fish and garnish with a little chopped parsley.

Orzo with Lemon and Parsley
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
3/4 lbs orzo (cooked)
1 lemon, juice & zest
1/2 bunch of flat leaf parsley
salt freshly ground pepper

4Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well.

In a small Dutch oven over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Gently fold in the cooked orzo, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper until well mixed.

Transfer the orzo to a serving bowl and serve warm.