Craving something meaty, spicy, crunchy, sweet, salty and creamy, that has the intoxicating aroma of basil and chilies? Let's make some Vietnamese Pork Meatball Banh Mi sandwiches. (Actually, these are made with turkey, but you couldn't tell, could you?)
The vegetables usually go into the sandwich, not on the side, but this was prepared for a kid who wasn't sure how he felt about pickled carrots and cabbage.
The roll comes from La Canasta del Pan, in Jackson, WY. My favorite Mexican/French bakery just started making these mini-baguettes, perfect for a Banh Mi.
is a French-Vietnamese hybrid of a sandwich, and classic street vendor fare if you are traveling in Vietnam. It seems to have a bit of a cult following amongst urban foodies in the US. Checking out the website entitled "The Battle of the Banh Mi"
, I learned that if you want to find a real Banh Mi in our area, you'll have to drive to Denver. Let's just make some, it's easy.
Vietnamese pork meatball Banh mi, deconstructed. You don't have to have it on a big French roll.
Here I made them with turkey instead of pork not because I was trying to be healthy, although it is a healthier alternative. I was shopping at the "big" grocery store and became grossed out at the ground pork selection, which contained "pork products" from the "USA" and "Canada".
I could have gone to one of the wonderful butchers in town, who would have ground up some locally sourced fresh pork for me, but being in a hurry I just grabbed ground turkey instead. Turkey works.
Is anyone else addicted to Sriracha sauce? Also known as "Rooster sauce", it was invented by David Tran right here in America. See Culinary Word of the Day for more.
Ground turkey (although pork is my favorite) works because there are so many other flavors going on here. Garlic (lots of garlic), basil, green onions, fish sauce, and Sriracha sauce make for a meatball packed with a big, spicy punch.
Slice the Napa cabbage as thinly as possilble. If you are very observant, you will note that this is just a plain old green cabbage, but it works.
The first thing you do when you make this dish is to quickly pickle some vegetables. Grated carrots and daikon (a Japanese white radish) are traditional choices, but I prefer using a combination of carrots and Napa cabbage. I just love Napa cabbage, and so does our turtle, so everyone is happy.
Pickling sounds complicated, but in this case all it entails is dissolving equal parts unseasoned rice vinegar and sugar, adding salt, and tossing it all with the grated or thinly sliced vegetables. The vegetables pickle while sitting on the counter for about an hour. All you have to do is toss them a bit if you are walking by.
Then you'll want to make the Hot Chili Mayo. Even if you don't feel like making Pork Meatball Banh Mi, you should probably make some Hot Chili Mayo anyways. Three reasons come to mind. 1. It's easy. 2. It's great on turkey sandwiches. 3. It adds spice to everything, including scrambled eggs, grilled fish, hamburgers, pork chops, and chicken. You name it, and Hot Chili Mayo will make it better.
Hot chili mayo is just mayonnaise with Sriracha hot sauce and scallions. It's addicting. It also reminds me of Spicy Red Pepper Miso Mayo, a vegan alternative which you can buy at Jackson Whole Grocer.
For a printable version of each recipe, click on the file below it.
Vietnamese Pork Meatball Banh Mi
Makes 4 generous sandwiches.
1 recipe Vietnamese pork meatballs
1 recipe Quick-Pickled Napa Cabbage and Carrot Salad
1 recipe hot chili mayo
4 mini-baguettes, or 2 large baguettes
This recipe has a few different components, but it is really easy. First, make the pickled vegetables because they will need to sit for about an hour. Then make the Hot Chili Mayo and refrigerate it. Try not to keep dipping your fingers into it. Next, make the meatballs. If you are going to eat your Banh Mi right away, keep the meatballs warm in the oven until ready to serve. Or you can make it all ahead of time, and just reheat the meatballs. It is nice if the bun is warm too!
You can go all out and put sprigs of cilantro, slices of jalapeno, or other pickled vegetables on your Banh Mi, but let's keep it simple.
My version of Banh Mi was adapted from Jeanne Thiel Kelley's recipe in the January 2010 issue of Bon Appetit.
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Vietnamese Pork Meatballs
1 lb. ground pork (or turkey)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped (Buy a bunch; you'll need 2more for the sauce).
1 Tbsp. fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 Tbsp. hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
sesame oil, for frying (not toasted or flavored sesame oil), or canola oil
- Gently mix all ingredients (except for the oil) in a bowl.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- Using wet hands, use a tablespoon to scoop up meat and form a 1 inch meatball. Place on a baking sheet.
- Heat sesame or canola oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat.
- Add about half the meatballs to the pan (they should not touch in the pan) and fry until golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.
- Place cooked meatballs on another baking sheet, and keep warm in a 200 degree oven.
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Quick-Pickled Napa Cabbage and Carrot Salad
This sweet and crispy salad can be served as a side dish, or stuffed into a Banh Mi sandwich.
Wash your carrots well, peel them with a vegetable peeler and discard the bitter peel. Then use the vegetable peeler to make nice long strips.
I like to hold the carrot straight up and down by its root end, and peel from top to bottom. It's hard to photograph, but easy to do!
- 2 cups carrots, shaved into long pieces with a vegetable peeler
- 2 cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage (about half of one large head)
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
- Add the vinegar, sugar and salt to a large bowl. Stir to dissolve.
- Add the vegetables, and toss well.
- Let sit for at least an hour at room temperature, tossing it if you are around. You can make this ahead and keep it in the refrigerator; it stays crispy for several hours.
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Hot Chili Mayo
If you have some leftover Hot Chili Mayo, use it on grilled fish, hamburgers, scrambled eggs, turkey sandwiches...everything!
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise (lowfat or regular)
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
- Stir all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Taste. Add salt if needed, or more Sriracha sauce.
- Can be made up to a day ahead; store tightly covered in the refrigerator.
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Culinary Word of the Day: Sriracha Sauce (ser-RACH-a)
Named after the seaside town of Sri Racha in Thailand, inventor David Tran once sold this hot sauce on the streets of Viet Nam with his parents. The sauce was so popular, they made enough money to emigrate to America. Initially marketed to other Vietnamese immigrants, his "Rooster Sauce" became wildly popular among Americans. It has the consistency of ketchup and is almost as ubiquitous at our house. Gourmet magazine included Sriracha Sauce on its list of the top ten ingredients of 2010.
If you're having a rough time with the weather, this should cheer you up.
A wild morel mushroom, found during the rainiest day this week.
Our morels were not huge, but they were tasty.
Or possibly this.
Cosmic Apple Gardens starters were just dropped off at Jackson Whole Grocer.
So you can jump-start your garden.
Organic heirloom tomatoes, basil, mustard greens, swiss chard, kohlrabi, Lacinato kale, new fire red lettuce, joi choi Chinese greens, arugula to name a few...
Jed and Dale from Cosmic Apple Gardens in Victor, Idaho are a sight for sore eyes. They bring not just starter plants, but the promise of summer.
The sun made a brief appearance yesterday, curing seasonal depresssions and invigorating those of us in a vegetative state. I went on a hike, rode my bike, turned over my garden, and hunted morels. But I found no morels in the sun; I only found them in the pouring rain.
Patty's very first "found-it-all-by-myself" wild morel mushroom. I can't wait to hear what she made with her morels. Patty is an amazing cook.
The sun made me snap out of my chicken curry and elk stew comfort zone, my pasta and red sauce jag. Today I needed a meal fit for the first sunny sky, the first bluebird, the first morel.
I found my morels in muddy, boggy areas, and their dark striations made them very hard to see.
Oops. I wasn't supposed to tell you about the morels. Sworn to secrecy by the sisterhood of the morel hunters, I was. But it is such fantastic news on such an otherwise bleak May month, that I can't keep it a secret any longer. They're up. Go get some.
My modest take was just enough to make this dish.
Morel Smothered Chicken has that whole umami thing going on. The earthy mushrooms, the almost burnt shallot, the bacon, the abundant garlic, and the acidic edge of lemon rind provide layers and layers of flavor. This dish comes together in under 30 minutes, but tastes like it simmered all day.
You could remove the thyme leave from the stems, but hey, it's a weeknight.
To read about how to make perfectly seared morels and Risotto with Pancetta and Morels, visit Obsessed with Morels
Morel Mushroom Hunting 101
Here are few tidbits that I (a novice hunter) have picked up from hanging out with the more experienced morel hunters.
- Start looking for morels in mid-May. Depending on how much rain/sun we get, the season could last into early June.
- Morels start popping up on the West side of the Tetons first, then start to appear in the Jackson Hole valley. They may be seen at the south end of the valley first.
- Look in wet, boggy areas along the Snake River, beneath cottonwood trees.
- If you find one morel, squat down and look around carefully. There are probably more that you overlooked.
- Take a kid with you. Being low to the ground and having sharp eyes is definitely an advantage.
- Morels like terrain that has been "disturbed", such as a burn, or an excavation site. Some forest fire burns have produced legendarily bountiful yet brief crops of morels.
- Practice good mushroom hunting etiquette. Don't hunt on private land (bad karma). Don't move in on another hunter's territory. Approach the terrain as if you were fishing the river; would you fish someone else's pool?
- Once you have bagged your wild mushrooms, take them home and inspect them. A true morel will have a hollow stem. Tap the stems to rid them of insects. If the mushrooms are very dirty, soak them briefly in cold salty water, and then gently dry with a towel. If they are not too dirty, brush them with a toothbrush or other soft brush, and place them on a rack to dry out. Store them on the rack for 2-3 days, then place them in a paper bag (not plastic) and keep at room temperature.
- The most successful morel mushroom hunters ending up having so many morels that they have to dry them. A standard food dehydrator works well, as does air drying on a rack for several days. Reconstitute in hot water prior to use.
Morel Smothered Chicken....can you say umami?
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Morel Smothered Chicken
This is an original, jacksonholefoodie recipe that serves 4. Feel free to tinker with it as you see fit.
If you can't find any morels in your neighborhood, shiitake mushrooms make a great substitute. Who could argue with a piece of chicken smothered in shiitake mushrooms? No one.
My morels were on the small side, perfect for cooking whole in a sauce. If yours are bigger, you may want to halve or quarter them. Dry them out a for a day or two first, too; they will soak up the sauce better.
This recipe calls for a small piece of preserved lemon rind, but some finely grated lemon rind will work just fine. I just love throwing preserved lemon into just about everything, and I happen to have a jar in my refrigerator at all times, so it's easy.
If you want to make Moroccan style preserved lemons of your very own, click here
. They'll take about 3 weeks to pickle. If you want to buy some right now, go to the Aspens Market
, they usually have a big jar of them in the deli case.
The Aspens Market usually has Preserved Lemons in the deli case, at a very good price, I might add.
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 cups morel mushrooms, cleaned with a brush and tapped to remove any critters, or 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
- 1 whole shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 of a preserved lemon, rinsed of salt, flesh removed, and finely chopped, or the juice of 1 lemon + the finely grated zest
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 slice bacon, finely chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup vermouth or dry white wine
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 sprigs of thyme, plus more for serving
- pinch of Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Morel Smothered Mushrooms with Capellini, Asparagus and Parmesan.
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I don't have a culinary word today, but I do have a culinary suggestion. Check out the Jackson Hole Community School's live auction site, (http://www.uniqueexperienceauction.com/Unique_Experience_Auction/home.html)
for some really cool local foodie finds. You could bid on an Argentina Night cooking class with me (we'll be making empanadas, an asado, gnocchi, and dulce la leche). There is also a wild game night, a cooking class at Shooting Star, a day in the kitchen with Oscar Ortega, our local chocolatier, and much, much more.
These short, squat and homely scones will get tall and puffy once baked.
It started to rain in earnest last weekend, waking me up at 6 am, much earlier than I would like on a Saturday. Spring rain always makes me dream of hunting for morel mushrooms. Lots of rain followed by lots of sun is a recipe for morels popping up all over the valley floor.
The rain also made me crave a warm Maple Oat Scone, fresh from the oven and dripping with a maple syrup glaze, and of course a big pot of coffee, and some strawberry smoothies.
Fresh strawberries blended with almond milk and a bit of honey remind me of the liquados you can get in Latin America.
Maple is the key word here. Real maple syrup goes into the scone dough, along with buttermilk and quick oats. The maple syrup is then whisked with confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract to glaze the tops of the crusty still-warm scones. Normally I would skip the glaze, but here it is crucial to this not-too-sweet scone.
The oats look nice sprinkled on top, but if you are feeling lazy, skip it. You could also skip the brushing with egg wash before baking, but it does give them a nice sheen.
Getting to the bottom of my last jug of real maple syrup reminded me that I'll need to order more. For the last few years I have been ordering directly from the Hamilton family in Maine, the parents of a girl who used to nanny for me. Once Amy gave me a jug of their dark amber syrup, and I was hooked.
To order from the Hamilton family in Maine, you just have to send Tom an email. He sends it flat rate through the post office to minimize shipping costs.
I wondered how important it was to seek out an organic product, or did that just increase the already high cost? I asked Tom Hamilton, my source for organic real maple syrup from Maine.
Tom explained that organic maple trees are grown without pesticides, although they are rarely needed. The syrup is processed without formaldehyde, a practice that was once used. More importantly it seems, the labor-intensive process is more kind to the environment with an organic maple syrup: no synthetic defoamers are used, only organic oils are use in processing, and only 3 taps per tree are allowed.
To order from the Hamilton family, see Sources below. Their syrup is pricey but worth it, and having a few extra jugs around provide many impromptu hostess gifts.
Perusing the aisles of a Whole Foods Market in Colorado, I found that the 365 Whole Foods brand of Grade A dark amber maple syrup was a steal, and almost as good as my longstanding favorite from Rockwall Maples Farm, although theirs is darker and richer.
A friend of mine gets her real maple syrup fix by ordering from Amazon.com. She has found that if you set up regular shipments, the cost is reduced and the shipping is free. See Sources, below.
After the rain stopped, the backyard moose came out of the bushes to bask in the weak sunshine.
This has nothing to do with maple syrup, but this luscious Tajarin pasta with duck egg, pancetta, fava beans and summer savory I had last week at Frasca in Boulder, Colorado proves that it really is spring somewhere.
Real maple syrup is not just for pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, and maple oat scones. It is also the key ingredient in my favorite salad dressing: Maple Soy Vinaigrette. If you make a pint jar of this dressing, it will keep in the back of your refrigerator for at least a month. Use it for salads, especially those with apples or pears, walnuts, and goat cheese. Toss a bit of this dressing with roasted root vegetables (parsnips are my favorite) for a warm vegetable salad.
This also has nothing to do with maple syrup, but serves as a gentle reminder to plan your garden. I had planted these carrots last June, and forgot about them until November, which was perfect timing. They were the sweetest carrots ever.
Since I'm going on and on about maple syrup, I'll also mention that it is so easy to make maple syrup butter like Marion Cunningham does in The Breakfast Book. A blending of maple syrup, water and butter "is not just economical, it actually enriches and rounds out the pure maple taste." I would not argue with Marion Cunningham, an authority on breakfast and all things good to eat.
Another sure sign of spring: strawberries are cheap, sweet and plentiful.
Throw the overly ripe, not too pristine berries into a smoothie.
So because it is a rainy day, I will post all three of my favorite recipes that showcase real maple syrup. Grade A dark amber or Grade B real maple syrup (see definitions below) are worth the splurge.
For a printable version of each recipe, click on the file below it.
Maple Oat Scones
This recipe comes from Ina Garten, "The Barefoot Contessa". I have downsized the scones a bit, and cut back on the frosting. These scones are so hearty and filling that they just don't need to be any bigger than an iPhone.
No adjustments were made for altitude. Grade A amber or Grade B syrup would be good choices.
Makes 14 large or 20 small scones
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 4 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water, for egg wash
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Check your oven thermometer to make sure your oven temp is accurate. Make your egg wash. (Mis en Place!)
- Cut the butter into small dice, then put it in a bowl and stash in the freezer while you get everything else ready. It helps if it is really cold.
- Using the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Blend the cold butter in at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.
- Combine the buttermilk, maple syrup, and eggs (I use a 4 cup measure to measure and beat the eggs, so as not to dirty another bowl), and add quickly to the flour/butter mixture.
- Mix until just blended. (Over-blending makes for a tough scone). The dough may be sticky. You should see lumps of butter in the dough.
- Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and mix by hand to make sure all is combined. Flour a rolling pin and your hands, and roll out the dough to 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick (for Ina's version) or 1/2 inch (for my down-sized version).
- Cut into 3 inch rounds, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
- Brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake for 17 minutes for the smaller scones, 20-25 minutes for the larges ones. The tops should be crisp, but do not overbake.
- Combine the glaze ingredients, and drizzle on the cooled scones. Sprinkle each scone with a few more oats, if you like, or skip this part. The extra glaze keeps in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also cut out the scones, and hold them in the refrigerator to bake up fresh a few days later. I like to bake all the scones, then freeze some unglazed, and then glaze after defrosting. So many choices!
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Maple Soy Vinaigrette
My favorite salad dressing is known around here as "Emily's Dressing", after a local private chef who has since moved on to bigger and better things. This recipe has been requested by just about everyone I have ever served a salad topped with this yummy dressing. I like it tossed with roasted vegetables too...Brussels sprouts, beets, carrots and parsnips come to mind.
- 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin or pure)
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic (average size), minced
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a blender, a food processor, or with an immersion blender until smooth. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.
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Maple Syrup Butter
If you need breakfast inspiration, I highly recommend Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book, where I found this recipe. I don't really care for cooking breakfast, although I find myself making breakfast for my family every day. I don't even like to eat breakfast unless it is served to me in a fancy hotel or a good Mexican restaurant.
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Put the syrup, water, and butter in a small saucepan and heat until the butter has melted. Stir to blend.
Serve on your pancakes and waffles.
Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator (usually the back corner) and reheat as needed.
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Maple Syrup Sources:
Rockwall Maple Farms: Grade A dark and extra dark amber maple syrup. 207-474-3973, mailto:Hamilton@hciwireless.net
Brown Family Farm Grade A amber maple syrup through Amazon.com
Coombs Family Farms Grade B dark amber maple syrup through Amazon.com (ordering regularly scheduled shipments through Amazon will save you on the cost of each jug and on shipping).
Maple Syrup Grading
Real maple syrup is not to be confused with "pancake syrup", which is high fructose corn syrup with artificial maple flavor, and not allowed by law to have the word "maple" on the label.
Maple syrup is graded according to flavor and color. The US grading system is as follows:Fancy or Grade AA: a light amber colored syrup with a mild flavor
Grade A: a medium amber syrup with a mellow flavor
Grade B: a dark amber, hearty flavored syrup, great for baking
Grade C: a very dark and robust, molasseslike syrup
Warming maple syrup not only keeps pancakes and waffles warmer but makes the syrup more flavorful. Heat maple syrup in the microwave on high for 30-60 seconds.
From The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
Walking into the new Aspens Market
is like a flashback of all my best foodie memories. It feels like one of my favorite gourmet shops in Chicago, with its modern, clean design, and enticing deli case, filled with inventive takes on my favorite grains and vegetables.
Aspens Market owner Mike Reid and his wife Karen are from Chicago. They have morphed all their favorite foodie shops from back home into the Aspens Market.
The cheese counter includes huge wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano (the real deal imported from Italy), pecorino from Tuscany, homemade ricotta, and Laura Chenel fresh goat cheese from Sonoma, California.
If that's not enough to make you start plotting your next cooking project, once you see the desserts you will have to plan a dinner party as well, because you will want to buy this tart, and those cupcakes. You won't be able to resist Melissa Cortina's creations. Melissa trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, as well as many other places, and her desserts are exquisite.
Melissa's strawberry tart made me want to have a dinner party.
Melissa's cupcakes are worth a special trip to the Aspens Market: mini coconut, red velvet, chocolate with chocolate ganache frosting, chocolate with peanut butter frosting....I've tried them all.
Inevitably, you will wander over to the meat section, and then you will think you are in Tuscany. The Aspens Market immediately took me back to Panzano, to the 250 year old butcher shop Antica Macelleria Cecchini, where I watched Dario, the charismatic Butcher of Panzano, cut up incredibly generous pieces of bistecca alla Fiorentina while singing and chatting and telling me how to use the fennel pollen I was eyeing.
Tomahawk steaks in the meat case at the Aspens Market.
Dario Cecchini, the Butcher of Panzano, and mentor to the Aspens Butchers.
The Aspens Market porchetta looks just like what we feasted on in Italy. Dario would be proud.
It was a Small World moment when I learned that Aspens Butchers Joel, Josh and Melissa had apprenticed with the famous Dario in Panzano. They have brought their slice of Tuscany to Jackson Hole.
Josh with housemade chicken sausages.
Melissa making Pork Rillette, which reminded me of the pork lard (the butter of Chianti) smeared on country bread that I swooned over in Dario's butcher shop. Hers is better.
The Aspens Butchers are committed to whole animal butchery of the freshest local meats. Their beef comes from Robinson Family Farms in Star Valley, who provide a whole cow on a weekly basis. They will cut your meat to order, and provide scraps if you want to make your own broth.
Josh has lots of delicious plans for this freshly harvested pig from Robinson Family Farms. Be sure to stop in for some porchetta this week.
Joel Cox, the head butcher at the Aspens Market, displaysTomahawk steaks in the meat locker where the freshest local meat can be found.
You don't have to wonder where the meat comes from at the Aspens Market...it is source locally and butchered in house. The coarse grind is perfect for chili, bolognese sauce and tacos.
With Joel, Josh, Melissa, Dustin and the rest of their talented crew cooking over at the Aspens Market, I'm tempted to try something new every time I peer into the deli.
When Dustin tossed the roasted leeks with the black-eyed peas and the fresh lemon juice, the smell was intoxicating. Note to self: roast some leeks.
This Black Eyed Pea with Roasted Leek salad was lemony, salty and filling. The perfect lunch for someone who has been eating too many cupcakes.
Joel makes fresh pasta, and Joel's Famous Lasagna, which I must admit is better than mine.
It is comforting to know that I can run around the corner for some Preserved Lemons, in case my homemade stash runs out and I need to make Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Olives
Don't miss the preserved lemons and the orange scented olives in the deli case.
Lunch at the Aspens Market includes sandwiches on 460 Bread, salads, soups, deli items and hot entrees.
That would be the Turkey Club Sandwich. I ordered the Chicken Salad, which came on a brioche roll made especially for the Aspens Market by our friends at 460 Bread.
Rush, Klaus, Cindee and I enjoyed lunch inside the Market. We were tempted to pretend we were in Italy and grab a bottle of wine from Westside Wines next store.
Mike has grand plans for the Market....outdoor seating on the lawn, in house cooking classes, farm-to-table dinners, an outdoor barbeque pit, vacuum packed braises for heat-it-up-at-home entrees, and more.
I love the Stumptown coffee, maple oat scones, homemade granola, chocolate chip cookie dough (for cooking or eating), Melissa's best-I've-ever-tasted Double Chocolate Biscotti... I could go on and on, but I'll stop here so that you can go down to the Market and make some discoveries of your own.
You can get a darn good cup of coffee too.
I don't have a recipe for you today, but I do have a few key carnivorous culinary terms.
Rillette: Melissa was making a pork rillette when I visited the Market. She explained that a rillette is like a smooth pate made from slowly cooked pork in seasoned fat. Covered with a thin layer of fat, pork rillette can be stored for weeks in the refrigerator. It is usually served cold, as an appetizer spread on bread or toast.
Fennel Pollen: Fennel pollen is harvested from wild fennel plants just as they begin to bloom. It's a "secret ingredient" in Tuscan cooking, where it is used to flavor cured meats and to season fish, chicken, and especially pork.
Sources: You can order fennel pollen from Market Hall Foods, or if you're ever in Panzano, you can buy a jar from Dario like I did.
Here's a recipe for a good time, Jackson Hole style:
- Take several hundred skiers, ranging from Olympic downhill gold medalists to housewives on fat skis.
- Put them on Snow King Mountain, one of the steepest and notoriously icy venues in the West for downhill speed.
- Throw in that Friday night feeling of relaxing celebration.
- Mix in one or two or three of Pica's legendary margaritas, a few of their award winning tacos (named Best Tacos by Food and Wine magazine), and the best guacamole in the West.
Pica's chef/owner Andy is the mastermind behind the much-revered Pica's margarita.
What do you get? The one and only Pica's Margarita Cup. An adult ski racing league for the fast and not so fast grown-ups amongst us. (No kids allowed; none of us could beat them).
Polly in the gates, with the town of Jackson and the Tetons all laid out in front of her.
Pica's Mexican Taqueria, in conjunction with the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club, generously sponsors this hometown event. Everyone in Jackson loves Pica's, and it is a special treat to have a Friday night taco and margarita supper after skiing with friends.
Erika and Peg are looking fast in the giant slalom course.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers is my team. Our motto: we may not be fast, but we look good.
Hopes were high when 19 year old pro skier Alex George joined the slightly over-40 Red Hot Chili Peppers. Alex was named one of Powder magazine's 20 under 20 skiers to watch, and we were thrilled to have her on our team. Certainly this would improve our chances of getting our team's name engraved on the Pica's Margarita Cup plaque. (Look for it on the wall next time you are at Pica's).
Carrie and Erika sporting celebratory Jello shots that make you feel like a 20 year old.
Erika and Ned, the masterminds of the Margarita Cup Jello Shots.
Sadly, Alex was injured in a real ski competition, but raced with us in spirit for the rest of the season.
Red Hot Chili Peppers Team Captain Cindee celebrates a successful race with a green jello shot.
Team Captain Cindee was sporting new racing skis and she was skiing fast. The rest of us put absolutely no effort into improving our skiing, but we did try to coordinate our outfits every so often.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers: me, Carrie G., Cindee (Team Captain), Erika, and Carrie K. "We may not be fast but we look good."
Jean, Mira and Anna lined up and ready to race
Pica's Margarita Cup is all about friendly competition and sharing a margarita with your teammates and competitors at the end of the race. For the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it was also about pushing yourself outside your comfort zone by skiing as fast as you can on a steep icy slope in front of dozens of your peers.
Ned is a member of the Slow Daddies, and good for at least 2 margaritas after the race.
We also got to admire some beautiful Friday night skies from the top of Snow King Mountain. Snow King is our "Town Hill" in Jackson Hole. With the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club's offices located at the base, it is the prime training ground for local kids and visiting clubs.
Danielle in the starting gate is determined to beat Tucker.
But every other Friday night in the winter, the King belongs to the grown-ups.
Tucker (a Slow Daddy) almost got beat by Danielle (a Spicy Sister and Picas's owner) in a very close heat.
Kari skis for The Wrong Wax Society.
Polly and I have matching pink pants. I love it when people mistake her for me: she's one of the best skiers on the mountain.
Peg (an honorary Red Hot Chili Pepper) and Carrie (a real Red Hot Chili Pepper) on top of Snow King Mountain sporting Happy 50th BIrthday stickers for Doug.
Anna of the Spicy Sisters is fast, fast, fast.
Carrie G. is showing perfect racing form coming out of the gates.
Andy with girl-Friday Morgan dishing up tacos to the hungry racers. Morgan is a super-fast skier herself on the high school racing circuit.
In case you forgot to check, race results are posted on the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club website: http://www.jhskiclub.org/picas_margarita_cup
. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are proud to not be in last place.
The recipe for the famous Pica's margarita is a highly guarded secret, but you can buy the mix at Pica's and make them yourself at home. Or you can try my Perro Salado
, a margarita of a slightly different breed, made with freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice.
The racing season may be over, but the skiing is still good. So gather your teammates, pretend like it's spring, and make a pitcher of Pica's famous margaritas or my Perro Salados. Or better yet, head down to Pica's and enjoy one on their deck. Ski racing is hard work; you earned it.
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Perro Salado (Salty Dog)
The Perro Salado is a descendent of the Greyhound: tequila gets swapped out for the vodka or gin, and freshly squeezed ruby red or pink grapefruit juice amps up the citrus flavor.
This recipe makes 2 margaritas. Feel free to double, triple or quadruple the recipe if you have your whole Margarita Cup team over.
I had been fooling around with a grapefruit margarita recipe for some time when I saw the Perro Salado in the latest edition of Canal House Cooking, a quarterly seasonal cookbook. Many of their books have a chapter entitled It's Always Five O'Clock Somewhere, with inventive cocktails that capture the spirit of the season.
- 1 cup freshly squeezed ruby red or pink grapefruit juice
- 1/2 cup 100% agave blanco tequila
- 1 lime, cut in half
- kosher salt
Carrie and I, wearing our Pica's Margarita Cup hats, took time out yesterday for a Perro Salado after skiing remarkably good snow at Teton Village.
- Moisten the rim of each glass with the cut side of the lime. Roll the rim in kosher salt.
- Fill each glass with ice.
- Add 1/4 cup tequila and 1/2 cup grapefruit juice to each glass.
- Squeeze each lime half into each glass and stir gently.
Cheers to a great season, Margarita Cup Racers!
Culinary Word of the Day: Kosher Salt
Although all salts are considered "Kosher", Kosher salt likely got its name because of its use in koshering meats. Kosher salt does not contain iodide, which makes it ideal for making a pickling brine without cloudiness. Cooks love Kosher Salt because it comes in large, flat crystals that are easier for the cook to pinch, sprinkle and see on the food surface when seasoning. Kosher salt is also perfect for coating a margarita glass, but coarse sea salt will also do the job nicely.