3/52: The Queen of Versailles

The Queen of Versailles was an incredibly interesting an strange documentary.

It’s a window into a super-rich family that was in the process of building the biggest single-family home in America — with pools, ballrooms, like 45 bathrooms, etc. The documentary begins in a time of prosperity for them, but (by accident) ends up tracking the impact of the economic crisis upon the family, their businesses, and the construction of their home.

While they’re incredibly spoiled and intensely out of touch, it was certainly interesting to see how they live, what’s important to them in crisis, and how FUCKED UP they are. Oh, and how amazing it would be to not worry about money at all.



2/52: Glengarry Glen Ross

Second new movie of 2014: Glengarry Glen Ross.


I’ve been meaning to watch this one for a while – I’ve watched the monologue by Alec Baldwin several times, especially in the context of my work on political campaigns as a humorous motivator for myself and my staff.

The acting in this film is great, particularly the characters played by Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon. The storyline is captivating, and though it’s clearly set in the 80s, it’s still incredibly relevant and relatable some 30 years later.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is a small one, “the restaurant” across the street from their offices. I always love depictions of a regular spot like that, the cast of characters and the familiarity they enjoy.

1/52: The Jerk

Ahahahahaha. This movie so weird and hilarious and weird.

I’ve seen lots of parts of it on Youtube, but never the whole thing. This was the ideal movie to watch all hopped up on pain pills while recovering from my heart surgery. While it is completely nonsensical at times (ok, most of the time), watching Steve Martin pull off such a ridiculous character is a total delight.

So many highlights, so much to enjoy.


Here’s one of my favorite parts.

Fresh Pasta with Seafood and Miso Greens

Second recipe challenge! Pasta from scratch.

My friends Dan, Alina, Josh and I made a feast on Sunday evening. We spent an hour wandering around Fubonn (amazing Asian market in East Portland) gathering our ingredients, and then drank a couple bottles of wine while cooking. Perfect Sunday!

I love Fubonn. So many interesting and useful ingredients, so incredibly affordable and the seafood is very fresh and good quality. Some of the Hawaiian and Chinese ingredients remind me of my grandfather, and the Chinese dishes we used to cook together. He was so incredibly meticulous with his cooking, which I loved. I inherited his cookbook. I’ll be cooking some recipes of his this year.

I love bonding with people over food. Whether it’s cooking it, going out to eat, hosting a party, barbecuing on the back deck with a cold beer, enjoying what someone else has created, or any derivation… it’s so comforting. I always feel closer to people after I cook with them, and have forged some of my best relationships and friendships over food.

Dan and I love to cook together, for my parents (last summer, fish tacos with homemade tortillas), for friends. He’s one of my closest friends and we work amazingly well together.

This time we made: fresh homemade pasta with seafood jus (was going to be squid ink pasta, but we couldn’t find any – next time), seared scallops, fried squid (see video below for Dan’s expert butchering learned via YouTube), and butter/lemon shrimp. We also made a miso creamed kale with mushrooms and a simple cabbage salad.

First: The Pasta.


We loosely based our pasta on this minus the squid ink, plus a bit of semolina flour.

3 cups white flour
1 cup semolina flour
5 eggs
2 pinches of salt

Knead with your hands until it’s a soft, cohesive dough. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator as long as possible (we did 45 minutes and that was fine).

Alina and Josh have a KitchenAid, with a pasta attachment. We used that to roll out the pasta dough until it was thin enough to process through the spaghetti attachment. It’s incredibly fun to do. I loved it.

Once we processed the pasta into the shape we wanted, I sprinkled a bit of semolina flour onto each serving size and left it while we prepared the rest of the meal.


We pretty much winged the seafood, which was delicious. Butter + lemon + garlic = you can’t go wrong. Dan championed butchering the squid.

For the (delicious, amazing) miso greens:

3-4 tbs unsalted butter, divided
1 large shallot, sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed, roughly chopped (you should have 4 to 6 cups packed kale)
1/2 cup shiitake mushroom tops
1 tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup dry vermouth (or white wine, and I put it a bit more than this)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon white miso, or more to taste (if you have a darker miso, just use less)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When melted, add the shallot and garlic. Cook over low heat without letting the garlic and shallots brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the kale and continue to cook for a few more minutes until wilted. If it won’t all fit in the pan, just add what’s left after it’s cooked down a bit.

Meanwhile, in a small pan set over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened and cooked through, about 5 minutes. This will smell AMAZING. If the mushrooms become too dry, add another tablespoon of butter. Stir in the soy sauce, cook another minute and turn off the heat.

Once the kale is wilted and soft, increase the heat to medium high, add the vermouth and cook until it’s just evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the cream and miso, stirring until completely incorporated. It should look creamy and delicious. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 2 more minutes until the sauce reduces slightly and thickens up the around the kale. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if you like (but don’t forget the mushrooms have soy sauce). Place the kale on a warm platter and scatter the mushrooms over the top.

adapted slightly from this

Spaghetti Carbonara with Roasted Rosemary Chicken

For my first January recipe challenge, I roasted a whole chicken and made spaghetti carbonara from scratch.

While it was *technically* in the last hours of 2013, I’m going to count it. It’s my tradition to cook a fancy meal for myself on New Year’s Eve – the meditative nature of cooking has always been relaxing for me and I like carving out a time to be reflective on the precipice of the new year.

2013 was an intense year for me. It felt like just about everything happened – big breakup, big empowerment, lots of dates and great new friends, heart surgery, lots of time outdoors, and a lot of finding myself. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.


For the chicken:

1 small chicken, 3-5 lbs (I like the ones at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 lemon
1 tbs whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf (optional)
1 tbs each freshly ground pepper and kosher salt, mixed, for rubbing on chicken after brining

Several hours ahead, brine the chicken. Dissolve the salt in a few quarts of water in a large pot with a lid. Halve the lemon and squeeze into the water, then drop it in. Add the peppercorns and bay leaf, then lower in the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for an hour and a half. Drain and rinse the chicken, and pat completely dry with paper towels.

Rub the chicken inside and out with your salt and pepper mixture. Put the chicken in the fridge until you’re ready to roast it—this time will allow the chicken to dry out so the skin will get nice and crispy.

Roast the chicken. Preheat the oven to 500°. Bring your chicken out of the fridge and place it breast side up in an oven proof pot. Roast the chicken for an hour. It will sizzle loudly!

Lift the chicken out of the roasting pan and onto a plate. Cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes or so, til you’re ready to serve. Make a sauce with pan drippings if you like, just add some white wine and water, heat to reduce.

adapted from here

For the carbonara:
3-4 oz. pancetta, diced
1 large shallot, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb dried spaghetti (I’m as big a fan of fresh pasta as anyone, but dried works better for this)
1 bunch lacinato, chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus more for passing)
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese (plus more for passing)
Freshly ground black pepper

While the chicken is roasting, place a huge nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and saute until beginning to brown and fat is rendering, about 3 minutes. Add the shallot and stir for 2 minutes. Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, scraping up the delicious browned bits, for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the frying pan from the heat.

Bring a large pot three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti, stir well, and cook for 6 minutes. Add the kale and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 4 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, in a small-ish bowl, add the eggs and beat with a fork. Mix in both cheeses and a generous amount of pepper. Try not to eat this amazing mixture right now.

Remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and reserve. Drain the pasta. Reheat the pancetta mixture briefly, and then remove from the heat. Add the spaghetti and kale to the frying pan. Gradually whisk 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking liquid into the egg mixture to render it (you don’t want scrambled eggs!). Add the egg mixture to the frying pan and stir until it coats the pasta and is creamy, not wet and runny. Tongs are helpful here.

If the egg mixture does not become creamy, set the frying pan over very low heat and stir constantly just until it becomes creamy, watching carefully (do not boil). Immediately remove the frying pan from the heat. Mix in enough of the remaining 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid to form a silky texture.

Divide between 2 warmed bowls and serve right away with moist slices of chicken. Serves 2+.

adapted from here