Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc Sauce (Or: Don’t Tell Your Doctor)

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[Sometimes I think that Craig’s dad, Steve Johnson, writes more popular posts than I do when he’s at the helm of my site. Here he is, joining the Sauce Week fray, with a Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc that I hope he makes for me the next time I visit Bellingham. Take it away, Steve!]

Several years ago, when I was developing a real interest in home cooking, my friend and I took an evening cooking class sponsored by our local community college. The recipes and instruction were from Joe Merkling, then chef of the restaurant at the Bellwether Hotel in Bellingham. The dishes he demonstrated that evening included Panko-crusted chicken breasts with a butter sauce. The sauce we made was a classic French beurre blanc (white butter), enhanced with lemon juice, capers and parsley. It was so delicious, so decadent and so rich that when Adam Roberts, The Amateur Gourmet, invited me to do a post during “Sauce Week”, I jumped at the chance. What a perfect excuse to make a sauce that uses a whole cup of butter, heavy cream and herbs!

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Espagnole Sauce: My Culinary Everest

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[My friend Diana Fithian–playwright and home cook extraordinaire–kicks off Day 2 of Sauce Week with this epic post about one of the world’s most difficult and important sauces. Take it away, Diana!]

When Adam asked if Iʼd like to contribute to Sauce Week, and sent a list of sauces to choose from, there was one that jumped out at me right away: Espagnole Sauce, arguably the most time-consuming of the French mother sauces and the precursor to demi-glace. Itʼs part recipe, part exercise in masochism – first you make stock, then you make a brown sauce with the stock, then you reduce that sauce with more stock until you get demi-glace, and only then do you use the resulting demi-glace to make a handful of “small” sauces by combining it with other ingredients like mushrooms and wine.

I told Adam to sign me up.

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No French Fries After 40 (A Birthday Trip to Belfast)

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[My friend Dara Bratt, an award-winning filmmaker, kindly offered to write a guest post about her recent trip to Belfast. How could I say no? What follows is an epic story of treacherous bridges, overflowing pints of Guinness and a meal so extraordinary, it had to be consumed twice.]

For my husband’s 40th birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland. His dad, who passed away before I met him, was born there, and Kieran had never been. To execute this mega-surprise, I had the support of his mom, and in Northern Ireland, my cohorts were Kieran’s cousin Judith and his Uncle Peter.

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Cruising For Food

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[Last month, Celebrity cruises invited me on board their new ship, the Solstice, for a two-day cruise to experience its food and wine program. Normally, I delete most P.R. e-mails and invitations but something about this one caught my eye: it was leaving from Seattle. Craig’s parents live in Bellingham, one hour north of Seattle. So I forwarded them the e-mail and asked if they were interested. They were. So I told Celebrity that I was sending Steve and Julee along as my correspondents; what follows is a full report by Steve.]

My wife Julee and I don’t think of ourselves as cruising people. We like the freedom of independent travel.

But not long ago Adam offered to let us take his place on a two-day cruise out of Seattle on the Celebrity Solstice. The cruise was for travel agents and writers to promote Celebrity’s new Alaska destination. It was free, we had the time and the emphasis was going to be on fine food and dining… That said to us: “Welcome aboard!”

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Steve’s Sous-Vide Salmon Adventure

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[Back in December, Craig was shooting his movie in New York and Craig’s parents came to visit the set. While we were hanging out, I received an e-mail from a company called Sous Vide Supreme offering to send me a “demi” Sous Vide machine to write about on my blog. I politely refused (don’t have the space for it in L.A.) and mentioned it to Craig’s dad, Steve. “Oh gee,” he said, “I’d love to try some sous vide cooking at home.” “Well,” I said, “I could have them send the machine to you if you’d agree to do a guest post?” Julee, Craig’s mom and Steve’s wife, interjected: “Now Steve, do we really have room for that?” Steve brushed off her worry: “Let’s do it!” What follows is Steve’s account of cooking sous vide for the first time. Hopefully this is the first in a series of Steve’s sous vide cooking adventures. Take it away, Steve!]

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Alone With Your Ramen

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[Recently, at the wedding of our friends Jenny and Cliff, we met a delightful woman named Yuko Uchikawa who began telling me about this fascinating ramen joint in Japan where you sit in little cubicles so you can be alone with your noodles. I asked if she would write a guest post and she kindly agreed. What follows is her ramen story.]

My acupuncturist in Nagoya is from Fukuoka, and Fukuoka folks are passionate about their ramen. When I asked where I should go to get Fukuoka ramen in Nagoya, he replied “Fukuoka.” When pressed, he said, “there is a place, downtown, that comes close. It’s a chain, but it’s good. It does express our passion. There are dividers.” Dividers? “So you are completely alone with your ramen.”

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Waiter! There’s a Nipple in My Soup! (A Review of Robert’s Restaurant at Scores Gentleman’s Club by Cole Escola)

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[When the P.R. e-mail came offering me a free dinner at Robert’s Restaurant at Scores Gentleman’s Club, my first thought was: “Ew, boobies!” And my second thought was, “I can’t take a free meal and write a solicited review, I’m an ethical food blogger.” I was about to click “delete” when I realized that it might be pretty hilarious to send my gay comedian friend Cole Escola to do the dirty deed for me. And Cole, as you’ll see below, happily obliged. This is the story of his dinner at a steakhouse in a strip club.]

When it comes to my tastes, I’m an American through and through. I like deep-fried twinkies, chocolate with peanut butter, and bacon on everything. This patriotic love of decadent combinations is exactly what made me say “yes” when Adam asked if I’d like to review Robert’s Restaurant inside of Scores Gentlemen’s Club. Even though I’m gay (and I mean gay) I couldn’t resist the temptation of gourmet steak paired with topless women. Like I said, I’m an American.

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Outstanding in the Field

[When my friend Jimmy Hilburn told me that he was attending an event called “Outstanding in the Field,” I asked him if he’d take pictures and do a guest post. As you can see below, Jimmy went above and beyond the call of duty. Here’s Jimmy with the story of an unforgettable dinner.]

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Is it still considered “eating locally” if you have to travel over 1000 miles by car, plane, subway and jitney just to get to your “local” destination? I’m going to go out on a limb and say probably not. Environmentalists and socially conscious foodies would probably frown on what my mom and I did, but ours was never a very noble pursuit. We just wanted to have an amazing, unique dining experience. And we did!

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