Tag Archives: attainable gourmet

Happy Birthday…Well…To Me.

The Interwebs are a funny place. They make our world so large, and yet also so small. So informed and yet also so naive. We fool ourselves into imagining we can explore life from the comfort of our couches, and forget the importance of teaching the next generation how to write, how to shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye, how to set a nice table.

Clearly, there can be no birthday without cake. Photo Credit: Annie Laurie Malarkey | Capital Grille

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is officially the annual birthday musings, where I look fondly (and at times not so fondly) on years past, and look eagerly (always eagerly) ahead. This past year was a good one…full of wiggly foster puppies, recharging trips to the Coast, indulgent lobster bakes for the masses, and quiet days at home.

We lost our sweet Onca, but found our sweet Louise, and I finally conquered my fear of Hollondaise with my dear friend Chelsey’s guidance.  All in all I feel proud of the last year, and excited about what’s ahead.

My wish for my birthday this year is to continue to be able to do what I love…to cook, to eat, to dance in the kitchen until I’ve lost my breath, and to do it all with those that I cherish.

And so with that, I want to say Thank You. Thank you for each comment, each time you passed a recipe onto a friend, each new reader that joined. Thank you for being here, for being part of it all, for helping share my stories. Thank you for encouraging me when I thought there wasn’t anyone else out there, and for helping be a part of hopefully turning this little blog, and one Attainable Gourmet, into something real. I couldn’t do it without you.

xo,

Erina

Many, many years ago…but determined to never lose that optimism and spirit.

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Simple Surprises: Agave Mojito

Here at Shut Up & Cook, it’s all about the twist on the expected. The interwebs are flooded with loads of food blogs (some good, some great, some downright bad), and all boasting their own interpretation of why they’re unique. You have gluten-free vegetarians, lovers of scones, and those who just want to eat bacon, morning, noon, and night. You have the tidy baker, the messy cook, and new, left-handed moms in the kitchen. I could go on and on, but if you’re here you’ve probably already read your fair share of them, and have hopefully found your niche.

In all my cooking, and my writing, I try to capture the everywoman in the kitchen; this idea of the Attainable Gourmet. It’s all about cooking great food, with great friends, drinking great wine, and seeing what happens when you put all that together. It’s about finding life’s little treasures, when you least expect it, and slowing down enough to actually be able to appreciate it.

Deviled Deliciousness with Chef’s Choice Toppings from Matt’s in the Market

There are so many standard recipes out there, and it’s good to have a few in your back pocket because you never know when you’ll be called on to make a perfect tray of Deviled Eggs or stunning Lemon Tart, but in general, I like to try to take the everyday and make it exceptional. This doesn’t mean fussy, or precious, or requiring 50 ingredients you’ve never heard of, but rather creatively looking at the palette of ingredients available to you, and the inspiration driving, and taking it from there.

This Agave Mojito is easy yet indulgent in spades. It’s made with Blue Agave, saving you from the dreaded simple syrup making (because who wants to be stirring sugar and hot water when you just want a cocktail), and is a perfect way to use up the mint that is quickly trying to take over your tomato plants. The act of letting the mint and the rum infuse makes this less laborious than the standard version, and garnished with a sprig still delivers the visual punch.

What is your favorite twist on the expected in the kitchen?

Agave Mojito
Serves 1, can easily be multiplied for a crowd

Does anything say summer more than this?

  • 8 mint leaves + sprig for garnish
  • 2 oz rum, I like Turkey Shore Distillery because it’s from the street I grew up on…and it’s really good
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 oz Blue Agave Syrup, I used Wholesome Sweetners since it’s organic and lower in calories, mixed with 1 oz hot water
  • Club Soda
  1. In a cocktail shaker add the mint leaves and rum and muddle. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to infuse the flavor.
  2. Add the lime juice, agave syrup, and hot water.
  3. Add a handful of ice cubes to the shaker and shake well to combine.
  4. Strain into Collins glasses, over ice (I like the giant ice cubes because they melt slower )
  5. Top with a splash of club soda and sprig of mint

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Filed under Drinks, Entertaining, Uncategorized

The Attainable Gourmet: Salmon Nicoise

Salmon Nicoise

My dear friend Madeline is a tremendous writer. Tremendous. She truly is one of the greats, and while the world perhaps hasn’t realized it yet, they will, and sooner rather than later I suspect. Mark my words.

(Madeline, when you became oh-so-rich and oh-so-famous you remember who gave you your first food blog shout out. That’s right.)

She lives in Brooklyn now (because where else do tremendous writers live) and is a total night owl which is dreamy for me when driving home from the barn because it means she’s one of the few East Coasters who will answer my calls. One night a few months ago we were talking and she indicated the slightest possibility that she might be able to come for a visit. Being the unrelenting honey badger that I am I immediately began a harassing campaign of emails, text messages, and phone calls to convince her that she must come visit. And it worked!

Madeline arrived with her infectious laugh and unbelievable stories (except they are totally true) for this past President’s weekend. What immediately commenced was four days of hooting and howling, dirty childish jokes, long walks on the beach, great meals, and the contagious dreaming of “what if”. We sat by the fire at my Aunt Jean and Uncle Ryan’s beach house in Cape Meares, warming our feet by the fire,  snuggling with a very happy Duke, and imagining “what if” we became famous writers and food bloggers….what if we traveled the world together…what if that good fortune that seems to strike others, struck us.

Duke never tires of chasing the ChuckIt

And so over lots of bubbly, and buoyed by each other, we made big plans.

In talking about Shut Up & Cook, Madeline was an unfailing supporter. On and on she went with things about my writing she’d liked, recipes she was “obsessed with” (Madeline tends to fall massively in and out of love with certain food types), and ways to build up traffic. At one moment she blurted out, “I know why I like reading your blog….you’re real. You’re not a chef. You’re not professionally trained. You’re not perfect. You’re the every woman. You’re the Attainable Gourmet.”

Oh So Happy Puppy Paw Prints in the Sand

This Salmon Nicoise is almost too good to be true, very healthy, beautiful to present, and pretty easy to make. It’s an Ina Garten staple and I wouldn’t change too much because it’s just so yum. Perfect served on a winter’s night, listening to the waves crash against the shore, and the dreams grow in our heads and hearts.

Roasted Salmon Nicoise Platter

Adapted from Ina Garten with just a few tweaks

Serves 12

Ingredients

4 lemons, zested and juiced (lemon juice from a bottle is just fine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 pounds skin-on fresh salmon fillets
3 pounds small red bliss potatoes
1 1/2 pounds haricots verts, stems removed
3 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes
12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in 1/2
1 bunch arugula
1/2 pound large green olives, pitted
1/2 pound artichoke hearts, quartered
1 can anchovies, optional

Vinaigrette: (I’ve doubled hers in below because it’s so good and I didn’t think it made enough)

1/2 cup champagne vinegar (red wine vinegar was fine)
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1  cup good olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

For the marinade, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, mustard, garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 tablespoon pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the salmon on a sheet pan that has been covered in aluminum foil, and drizzle the marinade over the salmon. Allow the salmon to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot off the heat and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Leave the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but firm. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in thick slices and set aside.

Place the salmon in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is almost cooked through. Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the skin and break into large pieces.

Blanch the haricots verts in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water. Drain again and set aside.

For the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Set aside.

Arrange the salmon, potatoes, haricots verts, tomatoes, eggs, watercress, olives and anchovies, if used, on a large flat platter. Drizzle some vinaigrette over the fish and vegetables and serve the rest in a pitcher on the side.

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Filed under Entertaining, Health Conscious, Lactose Free, Make ahead, Personal Work, Salads, Seafood, Uncategorized