Garden-Fresh Gazpacho with Garlic Croutons

June 30, 2010

Garden-Fresh Gazpacho with Garlic Croutons

Varietal: Chardonnay (Unoaked)

Serves 6 to 8

This recipe comes from Penny Durant, who with husband Ken, owns and operates Red Ridge Farms. It’s a small herb and specialty plant nursery and garden shop located on a prime site with sweeping views of the Red Hills of Dundee. They even grow olive trees and press their own oil at their second venture, the Oregon Olive Mill! Penny’s recipe is as healthy as the lifestyle she represents; it serves as the perfect light, summer appetizer on its own, or a main course with the addition of chilled cooked Alaskan spot prawns, shrimp, or Dungeness crabmeat. An unoaked Chardonnay, with its citrusy notes, works well, although red-wine lovers may prefer a light, slightly chilled red, such as Lemberger or Gamay Noir.

1 1/2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored, peeled, and coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups), plus any juice that accumulates (Note: See Cook’s Hint, below)

1 large cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped (2 cups)

1 small white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)

1 medium green bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed and coarsely chopped (1 cup)

One 4-ounce jar pimientos, drained

Two 11.5-ounce cans tomato juice

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, plus extra for seasoning

1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

2 cups day-old artisan sourdough bread cubes (1/2-inch cubes)

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1. At least 2 hours before you plan to serve, in a food processor or blender, pulse about half of the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and bell pepper, along with the jar of pimientos and half of 1 can of the tomato juice until smooth, 15 to 30 seconds. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Repeat the blending procedure with the remaining vegetables and the other half of the can of tomato juice. Pour the liquid into the mixing bowl.

2. Stir together the puréed vegetables with the remaining 1 can of tomato juice, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the vinegar, salt, Tabasco, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Refrigerate 6 to 8 soup bowls.

3. When ready to serve, rub the inside of a small skillet with the cut garlic. Reserve the garlic. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium heat. When hot (the oil should bubble around the edges of the cubes when you put them in), cook the bread cubes, turning periodically with kitchen tongs so all the sides are coated with oil, until toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.

4. Crush the reserved garlic and add it to the chilled soup, mixing well. Ladle the soup into the chilled bowls, float a few croutons in each bowl, and sprinkle with the chives.

Cook’s Hint: To peel a tomato, cut a shallow “X” in the bottom end and drop it into boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and transfer the tomato to an ice bath. After 15 to 20 seconds, remove the tomato, pat dry, and slip off the skin with a sharp knife. To seed, cut the tomato in half horizontally and gently squeeze the halves over a bowl to force out the seeds. Fingers or a small spoon work well to remove any remaining seeds.

Recipe reprinted from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, 2007, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

NuCulinary’s Scintillating Spring-Roll Recipe

June 28, 2010

NuCulinary Sushi Shot

We’ve been very remiss in writing about our friend Naomi Kakiuchi’s dyn-o-mite cooking classes that she offers through her company, NuCulinary.

NuCulinary Sushi Class

Here’s a shot of the hands-on sushi-making class I attended and loved. Naomi is at the end of the table in the neon-green chef’s coat, with yours truly in the right foreground.

Class that evening was taught by “sushi whore” himself, Chef Hajime Sato, who owns and operates Mashiko in West Seattle and offers an instructional sushi-making-at-home DVD.

Naomi’s extraordinary spring roll recipe and wine-pairing suggestions will make for some simple summer supping and sipping.

Fresh Spring Shrimp Spring Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce

Wine Varietals: Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris

Makes 8

These simple Thai spring rolls need no cooking, just a few newly sprouted herbs and vegetables, rice wrappers, and small cooked prawns from your fish counter. Make the dipping sauce and you have a roll-your-own appetizer in just 30 minutes. Serve with a crisp Sauvingon Blanc or Pinot Gris as their slight sweetness pairs nicely with the vinegar and chili in the dipping sauce.

16 small cooked prawns
2 ounces dried mung bean vermicelli
2 cups hot water
8 dried rice paper wrappers
16 fresh Thai basil leaves
1 cup fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
1 medium carrot, cut short julienne
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup cold water
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 small red chili, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander

1. Soak vermicelli in hot water 10 minutes and drain.

2. To make the rolls: Dip rice paper wrapper into lukewarm water until softened and place on work surface. Put in 2 shrimp, 2 basil leaves, coriander, carrot strips, lime rind and vermicelli. Spoon on chili sauce.

3. Fold in two sides and roll up. Place on serving dish, sprinkle with cold water to keep moist, and cover with plastic wrap.

4. To make the Dipping Sauce: Place cold water in small bowl; add sugar, stir until dissolved. Stir in fish sauce, vinegar, chili and coriander leaves.

Ride the SLUT; Eat at The Fish

June 24, 2010

Flying Fish on South Lake Union

On Friday, May 28, our friend and award-winning Seattle chef/owner Christine Keff reintroduced Flying Fish’s new location in hot new South Lake Union and we were lucky enough to be among the hordes who descended for the opening-night party the evening before.

In addition to mouth-watering happy hour, dinner, and late-night dining, Flying Fish now serves lunch at its new location. The menu features small plates, large plates, platters, and bowls to encourage diners to sample a wide variety of the kitchen’s creations and includes such “Fish” classics as Sister-in-Law Mussels, Crispy Calamari, and Grilled Fish Tacos. Flying Fish will also continue to feature a full bar and wine list to fit any taste and budget.

Flying Fish on South Lake Union

The new “Fish,” located at 200 Westlake Avenue North, brings its flair for fresh, creative dishes to Vulcan’s environmentally friendly, LEED Gold-certified Westlake/Terry Building on the corner of Westlake Avenue North and Thomas Street. It’s easy (and fun!) to hop on the South Lake Union Transit (SLUT) from the Westlake station in downtown Seattle and be whisked to within a few steps of Flying Fish’s door in a matter of minutes.

Happy hour begins at 4 p.m. each day, and dinner is served seven nights a week starting at 5 p.m. Regular lunch service is offered Mondays through Fridays.

Flying Fish Interior

A busy Sunday evening at Flying Fish’s new South Lake Union location

On a subsequent Sunday-evening visit, we hopped on the SLUT and sat at the bar for a glass (or two) of French Rosé and several apps. There was a good crowd and the small plates we tried were all grand.

Small Plates at Flying Fish

Crispy Calamari, Field Greens Salad, Sea Scallops With Sunchoke Purée

Small Plates at Flying Fish

Hawaiian Grey Snapper Carpaccio and Curried Lamb Ribs

“This is the start of a fresh, new chapter for Flying Fish. We look forward to continuing our tradition of service, creativity, and superior sustainable seafood in the revitalized South Lake Union neighborhood,” Chris Keff says. “Our new location in this dynamic neighborhood allows us to grow and expand our Flying Fish community in new ways that perfectly align with our values of innovation and commitment to sustainability.”

Although experiencing a rebirth, Flying Fish will stay true to its roots and commitment to delivering the freshest possible fish to create signature dishes featuring local organic ingredients, global spices, and forward-thinking styles of preparation. Keff remains committed to the values that first brought local and national acclaim to Flying Fish: an inventive, always-changing menu featuring the freshest, in-season seafood and produce from local farms and regional fishermen.

Congrats, Chris! And here’s to many more years of making Seattle diners and visitors mouths water and tummies happy.

Salmon Goes Wild at Elliott’s Oyster House

June 21, 2010

Children of Emmonak

Enjoy sustainable salmon and help children in Alaska at the same time when you visit Elliott’s Oyster House. During the month of June, the popular waterfront restaurant welcomes in salmon season with its annual Salmon Gone Wild promotion that celebrates fresh, sustainable wild salmon.

Elliott\'s Alaskan King Salmon

Dungeness Crab-Crusted Salmon

Salmon Gone Wild features special salmon menu specials, drink and happy-hour specials, and much more. During the promotion, Elliott’s will donate 25% of every Yukon Keta salmon entrée purchase to the Boys and Girls Club of Emmonak, Alaska, which is the region where Yukon Keta are caught.

Every salmon comes from wild, sustainable runs and Elliott’s only partners with fishermen and suppliers who use eco-friendly practices, including those from the Yukon region’s community-owned Kwik’pak Fisheries.

For further details:

BENEFIT: During Salmon Gone Wild, Elliott’s will donate 25% of every Yukon Keta entrée purchase to the Boys and Girls Club of Emmonak

WHEN: Now until June 30th

WHERE: Elliott’s Oyster House, 1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56, Seattle, (206) 623-4340

Please find More Sample Menu Items for Salmon Gone Wild at  Elliott’s Oyster House

Happy Hour Items (more offerings and details online):

Alder-Smoked Salmon Fritters

House alder-smoked king salmon mixed with fritter batter, peppers, onions and corn.  Tossed in Cajun seasoning and served with tangy remoulade sauce.

Sockeye Salmon Satay

Salmon marinated in ginger and garlic then grilled and based with orange hoisin sauce.

About Elliott’s Oyster House

Elliott’s Oyster House has been Seattle’s classic seafood house for nearly 35 years. The award-winning restaurant features a 21-foot-long oyster bar and 30 varieties of oysters. Elliott’s highlights natural flavors of the finest seafood in the Pacific Northwest. Elliott’s is Seafood WATCH ®-compliant and actively participates in the Henderson Inlet Project, The Humane Society, and Wild Salmon Supporters. Located on the renowned Seattle waterfront on Pier 56, Elliott’s Oyster House is open Sunday- Thursday from 11a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. For more information, call (206) 623-4340 or visit:

About Kwik’Pak Fisheries LLC

Elliott is proud to be partner with community owned Kwik’pak Fisheries LLC, which purchases and processes the Wild Yukon River Salmon.  The company was formed in 2002 to support the livelihood of the Yupik Eskimos through employment, training and educational opportunities.  As part of their commitment to the Yupik people, Kwik’pak is dedicated to preserving the environment.  The only seafood company to receive membership in the Fair Trade Federation, Kwik’pak is also a member of the Marine Stewardship Council and FishWise.  What’s more, the fishery works with Trace Register, which verifies the origin of every registered product.  In fact, Kwik’pak is the only wild salmon company in Alaska to offer 100 percent traceable salmon.

Berry Much Fun at Biringer Farm’s Strawberry Fest

June 17, 2010

City dwellers pack up the car and head out to Arlington, Washington, this weekend (June 19 and 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to Biringer Farm‘s Strawberry Fest. It’s located on the new Red Rooster Route, a collection of half a dozen small family farms, at 21412 59th Ave NE, Arlington, WA, 98223.

Think of this as a strawberry paradise. Ride the Jolly Trolley out to acres of fresh strawberries to pluck and eat right from the vines. You’ll never get them any fresher!

Enjoy the open wide spaces, get back to nature, meet the farmer, and see where your food comes from. Picnic in the vintage covered wagon next to the historic barn or bring a blanket and picnic on the grass.

Festive Activities: Pony Rides, Giant Strawberry Ride, Kiddy Slides, Puppet Shows, Inflatables, Pennies in the Hay, Story Time, Barnyard Croquet, Pig-Butt Bowling, and more.

Barn Market: Ready-picked strawberries, containers of fresh-sliced and sugared ready-to-eat strawberries, local honey, shortcakes, cold drinks, and (of course!) fresh strawberry shortcake.

This is an experience in this traditions are kept, treasured memories are made, and luscious fruit goes home with family and friends. . .until they return again.

How best to use your fresh-picked strawberries? Here’s a complete Northwest menu. . .scroll down for the recipe for Merry Berry Medley.

Save the Date for a Party for Health

June 14, 2010

I was very concerned to hear that one of the pillars of the Pike Place Market community, The Pink Door’s founder and owner, Jacqueline Roberts, was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a chronic and often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

But leave it to Jackie to do her darndest to focus awareness on this complex and unpredictable disease by throwing a Festa Per La Salute! or “Party for Health” on Sunday, June 27, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Festa Per La Salute! will feature a sumptuous feast of fresh Northwest seafood, Pink Door Lasagne, grilled veggies, and overflowing wines. . .along with The Pink Door’s usual cacophony of trapeze artists, jazz musicians, accordions, modern dancers, prosciutto slicers, and bodacious beauties passing oysters. . .and, of course, those beautiful views of Elliott Bay from the deck.

Roberts has pledged 70 percent of all proceeds from the event to the University at Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC) and its groundbreaking MS-Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency (CCSVI) research.

Further details:

WHEN: Sunday, June 27, 2010
5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

WHERE: THE PINK DOOR, 1919 Post Alley, Seattle

COST: $100.00 per person. Additional donations for research very welcome and much appreciated!

TICKETS: Tickets must be purchased in advance by phone at 206.443.3241 or in person at The Pink Door by Friday June 25, 2010

Representatives from the University at Buffalo will be at The Pink Door to discuss their studies of the possibility that symptoms of MS result from the narrowing of the primary veins outside the skull, a condition called Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency, or CCSVI. The BNAC’s 1,700-person research study will verify Dr. Paolo Zamboni’s ground-breaking CCSVI theory on which he based his balloon angioplasty procedure to treat venous constriction. Dr. Zamboni has found that the majority of his patients experienced a decrease in MS symptoms. In fact, Zamboni’s wife, who had MS for 17 years, is free of symptoms four years after treatment.

To learn more about BNAC and MS research, please visit

About The Pink Door
In 1981, a whimsically inclined 20-something Italian-American ingénue put her creative hooks and inspiration from travels abroad into a surreal cellar of a space that became equal parts Bohemian loft, Trattoria, and Pigalle cabaret. “La Padrona” Jacqueline Roberts wasted no time filling the space with nuances, a seasonally changing menu of hearty, honest Italian food and wine, spirited service, and eccentric alluring entertainment. Some 27 years later, The Pink Door remains a Seattle favorite with a fresh, constantly changing seasonal menu and eclectic nightly entertainment.

The Pink Door Entertainment
There will be a stilt walker welcoming people in the alley, the Master of Ceremonies will greet people at the door, and there will be lots of live music as well as fabulous food and drink!

The movers and shakers of the alternative medical world will be in attendance, including Dr. Joseph Pizzorno (who founded Bastyr College). Dr. Cora Ibarra (Jackie’s bio-integrative doctor, who will travel from Nevada), and many other renowned specialists.

Cookin’ with Kids for Long-Term Health

June 14, 2010

Tom Douglas Cooking Classes

My latest article for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine–Good Grub–was really fun to research, write, photograph (and, I hope, to read). It highlighted one of the monthly Saturday-morning cooking classes for kids and their parents offered in partnership by Premera Blue Cross and Tom Douglas Restaurants.

Here are some photos that Spencer took during the class I chronicled on a sunny-bright day in early March at the Palace Kitchen in downtown Seattle.

Tom Douglas Cooking Classes

The two young men in the class watch intently as garlic sauce whirls in the commercial-sized food processor

Tom Douglas Cooking Classes

The fruits of our labor. . .a groaning-board buffet of all the dishes prepared that day

Savor Idaho and Celebrate Idaho Wine Month

June 10, 2010

Idaho Wines

As many of you know (and any of you who are familiar with my seventh book, Pacific Northwest Wining and Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia), Idaho is fast emerging as a major wine-producing state. With the long, hot days available to growers and Idaho’s rich volcanic soil, grapes are being grown and made into award-winning wines.

Idaho Wine Month focuses attention on this burgeoning industry, and brings people together for all of the tastes and treasures that Idaho has to offer. With the promotion of Idaho wine during Idaho Wine month, local restaurants, retail stores, and wine shops will be offering specials for those who purchase wines produced and bottled in Idaho during June.

Idaho Wines

Another way to celebrate Idaho Wine Month is by attending the second annual Savor Idaho, Idaho’s Premier Wine & Food Event, hosted by the Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission. Focusing on Idaho wine and food, Savor Idaho will be held at the Idaho Botanical Garden on June 13th from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will feature many local wineries, restaurants, and exhibitors.

Ahoy, Matey! Cafe Nordo Washes Ashore

June 7, 2010

Cafe Nordo

Ahoy, matey! Good news. . .there’s still time to walk the gangplank to “Bounty! An Epic Adventure in Seafood,” which runs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings through June 19.

This fun-filled, action-packed, aquatic-themed show and five-course dinner and wine pairings is presented at Theo Chocolate in Seattle’s funky Fremont neighborhood and garnered a very favorable review from The Seattle Times theater critic, Misha Berson.

The evening begins with a Champagne greeting at 7:00 p.m.; the first course sets sail at 7:30 p.m. in Cafe Nordo–an intimate restaurant on an old sailing vessel.

Guests are regaled with sea stories and chanteys, folklore and science in this epic celebration of the fruits of our oceans.

And one of the evening’s best features? Concerned citizens can leave their Monterey Bay Aquarium wallet inserts at home, as local and sustainable seafood is at the very heart of this love letter to the sea.

Cafe Nordo Seafood Salad

Delights from the creative menu include the Big Bang amuse bouche, Sea Urchin, and locally sourced salmon, all of which highlight the local and sustainable gifts of the waters around Seattle. Original music and performance are the wind and waves in this evocation of a sailor’s love for the ocean.

Here’s our server, “Chum,” dishing up Manila clams, Mediterranean mussels, and Dungeness crab claws from our table’s very own aquarium!

Cafe Nordo Seafood Soup

And here’s a close-up of the delicious seafood soup.

And not to spoil the surprise, but the evening ends with a dramatic shipwreck and. . .zombies!

Cafe Nordo Zombies

Tickets are $79 per person on Thursdays; $89 on Friday and Saturday, and are available at For more information visit

Dish of the Day

June 4, 2010

Restaurant Zoe Asparagus Salad

In early May, on a cold winter’s night that should have been more spring-like, after a rather disappointing cheese-focused event where the cubes were small and the wine pours even smaller, we took our chances without a reservation and were lucky enough to get into Restaurant Zoe, one of our long-standing favorite restos in Belltown.

The Dungeness Crab Salad with Brioche Crouton, Green Asparagus, and Ramp Pistou (not to mention the green olives that weren’t mentioned on the menu, but definitely added intrigue to this already intriguing salad) lifted our spirits and excited our palates with the promise of spring weather to come (which has still been slow to reach our region, even though Memorial Day has now passed).

This early taste of spring on a cold, cruel evening more than qualifies Restaurant Zoe’s Dungeness Crab Salad as our Dish of the Day.