Curried Apples with Cider Cream

January 31, 2012

Curried Apples with Cider Cream

Wine Varietal: Late-Harvest Riesling

Serves 4 to 6

Combining several varieties of heirloom apples makes the most flavorful apple compote, crisp, or pie. The touch of curry powder warms the spirit on cool autumn days.

3 large, crisp, heirloom apples, about 1 1/2 lbs., preferably a mix of several hardy varieties such as Braeburn, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Fuji, Pippin, or Criterion

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon mild curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons golden raisins, optional

1.To prepare the apples, rinse and pat dry but do not peel. Core the apples, cut into quarters, and cut the quarters into bite-size pieces.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the curry powder, cinnamon, and allspice and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the spices give off their aroma. Add the sugar and raisins and mix well, then add the apples and stir until they are covered with the sugar/spice syrup. Cover and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until apples are tender but not mushy, stirring occasionally.

3. To serve, place apples in individual dessert dishes and top with cider cream.

Cider Cream

Makes 1 1/4 cups sauce

1 cup good-quality apple cider or 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate, defrosted

1 pint whipping cream

1. Bring the apple cider to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until mixture is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Beat whipping cream until stiff, then fold in cider (or apple juice concentrate, if using) until thoroughly mixed. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Something Unusual for Your Valentine’s Day Special Someone

January 30, 2012

We all know that a box of chocolates or a bouquet of roses are de rigueur gifts for Valentine’s Day. But let’s be honest. . .they aren’t very creative.

So why not offer up a much more inspiring and inspired gift for your sweetie this year?: a Waterways brunch or dinner cruise of Lake Washington?

Last summer, Spencer and I thoroughly enjoyed sailing from Waterways Cruise’s HomePort on the south shore of Lake Union, through the Montlake Cut, past Hunt’s Point, and back around the lake during one of the company’s Sunset Dinner Cruises.

The newlywed couple who sat next to use had opted for a Special Occasion package, so their tabletop was festooned with fresh red rose petals. Talk about impressing your sweetie!

We set off after a Champagne toast and welcome from the captain as musician Ryan Shea Smith regaled us with live music on vocals, guitar, and keyboard.

Our generously portioned amuse bouche comprised super-tasty slices of the freshest Yellow-Fin Tuna, Mustard-Soy Ginger Aïoli, Seaweed Salad, and Microgreens. A lusciously fresh seasonal salad followed.

My subtly-spiced wild salmon came encased in a banana leaf and accompanied by a cascade of pineapple salsa and a blanket of aromatic coconut jasmine rice.

Dessert was the perfect light and airy sweet bite: Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Coulis and Cinnamon Whipped Cream.

Wines included offerings from Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia, and other leading Northwest wineries.

All of this gustatory goodness, not to mention picture-postcard views of Seattle and Bellevue, will make for an unforgettable Valentine’s Day for any lucky loved one.

Here’s the Valentine’s Day menu:

First Course

Crab Cake Nouvelle

Pacific lump ginger scallion crab cake, atop mango aioli with dragon fruit and crisp rice noodle nest

Second Course

Farmers’ Market Salad

Herbed Laura Chenel goat cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, Ciliengini mozzarella, teardrop tomatoes, candied pistachios, and petite greens, with a spring herb vinaigrette

Third Course:

Your choice of Entrée:

Filet “Oscar”

A beautiful pan seared filet mignon medallion, cut in half and stuffed with Pacific crab, asparagus and sauce béarnaise, set on a cloud of whipped potatoes with sheep’s milk cheese, in a pond of rich Port wine demi-glace


Salmon Bonne Femme

Sautéed local salmon with toasted almonds, roasted vegetable and sheep’s milk cheese risotto, accented with a vanilla bean beurre rouge, passion fruit, and microgreens


Chef’s Capelli D’Angelo

Foraged mushrooms and truffle essence, angel hair pasta, organic baby spinach, tomato rose, and grilled vegetables in creamy Chardonnay-tarragon sauce

Fourth Course

Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

With fresh-berry compote, salted caramel, and passion-fruit whipped cream

Living the Low-Carb Lifestyle

January 27, 2012

For several months now, Spencer (and to a lesser extent, yours truly) have been trying to survive on a medically supervised low-carb, low-fat, very high protein diet.

Right out of the gate, my significant other lost six pounds, and has continued to lose slowly even in spite of the holidays and nine days in California.

I lost an inch or two around my middle, which was a good thing, as my waistbands had lately gotten more than a little snug.

It’s been “interesting” figuring out what restaurants are low-carb friendly.

Here’s the way we navigated the menu at Chinook’s, a wonderful seafood restaurant we frequent when we are out and about in the car. It’s part of the Anthony’s Homeport family on Fisherman’s Terminal, just a few miles outside of downtown Seattle.

Chinook’s Manhattan Clam Chowder is always spot-on, and the Oregon Bay Shrimp Cocktails had lots of the small, but tasty, shrimp and chopped celery paired with a spicy cocktail sauce.

In addition to good food, there are gorgeous marina views that I enjoy snapping with my Hipstamatic app.

A Perfect Merging of Earth and Ocean

January 24, 2012

Place Pigalle, a venerable restaurant in the Pike Place Market with heart-stopping views of Elliott Bay and a proper French bistro vibe has always been one of our favorite places for both Saturday lunch (Oyster Stew and Beet and Goat-Cheese Salad!) or an any-day-of-the week dinner.

Over the holidays, when both of us had a touch of the “crud” that was going around Seattle, and I simply didn’t feel like exerting the energy to make dinner, we stopped by around six p.m. for a cocktail to cheer ourselves up, with the hope that they might be able to squeeze us in for a bite to eat.

A drink at Place Pigalle is always a treat, not only because the bar is so well stocked and wine list so full and interesting, but because the bartendress there is very knowledgeable and personable, not to mention generous with her samples. This time she let me try Cardamom Bitters made by Seattle-based Scrappy’s, which reminded me of Scandinavian Christmas cookies and glögg, and made me lament how underused cardamom is in American cooking.

My entrée choice of Seared Scallops with Almond Purée and Braised Fennel took me to new heights, a simple-sounding dish that perfectly merged earth (a musky purée of almonds) with ocean (the plump, briny scallops). Braised fennel created the perfect anise-y, crunchy note, while a few orange segments and spinach leaves provided visual color and contrast and an acidic note.

Bravo, Place Pigalle. You heartily deserve our Dish of the Day!

Just for fun, here is Place Pigalle’s Oyster Stew.

The Dead Celebrity Cookbook

January 20, 2012

I am bombarded daily with press releases, new-product announcements, and updates on new books, especially cookbooks. I often read the subject line and quickly delete the item if it doesn’t pique my curiosity or have anything to do with an article I’m working on or plan to write.

Some of the emails and cover letters I receive are particularly inane or funny, and not intentionally! Here’s the funniest one I’ve received in a LONG time, about a new book entitled, “The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen.” The cover letter says:”

<<Frank DeCaro reminds us that many Hollywood celebrities enjoyed cooking long before it was “cool.” The man everyone knows as the movie critic on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart has compiled recipes from over 145 of Hollywood’s favorite stars who are no longer with us and included them in “The Dead Celebrity Cookbook.”

<<People are breaking tradition and inviting their favorite “dead celebrities” to their Christmas dinners via their recipes; in fact, having “dead celebrity cooking parties” is fast becoming the latest Hollywood trend. This has huge appeal for Hollywood trivia buffs, foodies, or anyone who loves great recipes spiked with hilarious commentary, such as, “feasting on Sinatra’s barbecued lamb, taking a stab at Anthony Perkins tuna salad, or wrapping your lips around Rock Hudson’s cannoli” (and really – who hasn’t?).>>

Are these people for real? Only in Hollywood, sigh.

Here’s the entire release, in case you just have to read more, along with a recipe for Peter Falk’s Pork Chops:

The Dead Celebrity Cookbook – A Collection Of Favorite Recipes Of Hollywood’s Most Beloved Stars

Los Angeles, CA, December 28, 2011 – For anyone who loves Hollywood memorabilia, is an entertainment junkie, and loves to eat and cook – they will treasure Frank DeCaro’s ‘The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen’ (HCI Books). Frank compiled favorite recipes from some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Sonny Bono, Liberace, Michael Jackson, John Denver, Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson, Humphrey Bogart, and Peter Falk, just to name a few.

“I love these dead celebrities! They’re the stars I grew up watching, and they deserve to be remembered even if they were more talented on screen than they were in the kitchen. Frank clearly worships them as much as I do, and after reading ‘The Dead Celebrity Cookbook’ you will, too.” -Rosie O’Donnell

“Celebrities die–eventually–but their recipes live on, thanks to Frank DeCaro’s thorough and thoroughly delicious book. DeCaro’s dry wit is tasty, and judging from these yummy concoctions, most of these celebs died really happy!” –Michael Musto, Village Voice

Inspired by a “Dead Celebrity Party” during his college years, DeCaro thought the one thing missing from the event was the food of the dead. Since then, he’s been collecting recipes of the stars and lucky for us, he’s put them together in, THE DEAD CELEBRITY COOKBOOK: A Resurrection of Recipes from More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen (HCI Books – October 2011- $19.95).

DeCaro, who is best known for his nearly seven-year stint as the movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and now heard weekdays on his own call-in radio show, gives us a giggle while feeding us treats from Tinsel Town, like Liberace’s Sticky Buns, Mae West’s Fruit Compote, John Ritter’s Favorite Fudge, and Bea Arthur’s Vegetarian Breakfast.

THE DEAD CELEBRITY COOKBOOK is here to remind you that before there were celebrity chefs, there were celebrities who fancied themselves as chefs. They were whipping up culinary delights, and sometimes sharing them with us on shows like Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas or even Johnny Carson. DeCaro gives us some entertaining and informative commentary before each section of recipes in chapters that include: “Talk Show Chow,” “An All-Night Oscar Buff,” and “I Lunch Lucy,” a whole section dedicated to the red-haired TV goddess.

Says DeCaro, “I miss those days when celebrities still had mystery about them, and a glimpse inside their radar ranges seemed, for any fan, like a window into the world of glamour and excitement, which is why I put together this book.” This book delivers recipes that the stars are dying for you to make.

For more information, please go to:


Best known for his years as the flamboyant movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Frank DeCaro is heard each weekday morning on his live national call-in program The Frank DeCaro Show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. A writer and performer, DeCaro pens the “Icons” column for CBS Watch magazine. The author of the pioneering memoir A Boy Named Phyllis, DeCaro previously wrote the “Style Over Substance” column for The New York Times. Visit the author at and on Facebook, and follow him at

Available online or at bookstores or to order directly from the publisher, contact: (800) 441-5569 or

THE DEAD CELEBRITY COOKBOOK: A Resurrection of Recipes from More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen

Frank Decaro

ISBN: 978-9-7573-1596-1– $19.95 — October 2011



Brini Maxwell, author of Brini Maxwell’s Guide to Gracious Living and creator of “I adore this book so much I find myself on the horns of a dilemma–make the recipes or kill myself so I can be in the sequel.”

Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough,, bestselling authors of more than twenty cookbooks including Lobsters Scream When You Boil Them and 100 Other Myths About Food and Cooking: “Hankering for star-powered recipes? With this laugh-out-loud encyclopedia of Hollywood culinaria, Frank DeCaro brings out the real ‘celebrity chefs’ in spades. Or with a spade.”

Lisa Lampanelli, comedienne: “Frank DeCaro has the most delectable treats I’ve ever tasted — and the recipes aren’t bad, either! My dying wish is to have one of my recipes in The Dead Celebrity Cookbook II. Anyone for the Queen of Mean’s ‘So-Good-You’ll-Slap-Yo-Mama Chicken ’n Waffles’?”

Bob Smith, author of Remembrance of Things I Forgot: “Frank DeCaro’s two obsessions–food and the famous–have been hilariously united in The Dead Celebrity Cookbook. Reading Frank is like breaking your diet with your funniest best friend.”


Peter Falk 1927-2011

He was one of the great ones–appearing in films as disparate as The Princess Bride and Wings of Desire in the same year, 1987. But no matter what Peter Falk did (and he did a lot), he will always be remembered as the police detective in the rumpled raincoat on the mystery series Columbo. The character, one he played for more than thirty years beginning in 1971, is one of TV’s most indelible portraits. Among Falk’s most beloved films were the cult hit The In-Laws, the one-two Neil Simon punch of Murder by Death and The Cheap Detective, and six pictures with his buddy, the director/actor John Cassavetes, including the 1974 classic A Woman Under the Influence. The Emmy- and Oscar-nominated actor published his memoir Just One More Thing in 2006, and it wasn’t a moment too soon. Falk was diagnosed with dementia two years later. Just one more thing: His pork chops are as toothsome as he was.

Peter Falk’s Pork Chops

6 pork chops

1 medium onion, finely chopped

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup white vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon thyme

1 cup water

½ cup liquid from jarred vinegar peppers

1 cup (or more) vinegar peppers

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350°. Brown pork chops in olive oil in a heavy frying pan and remove to a casserole. Cook onions until translucent in same oil and add to casserole. Deglaze pan by adding white vinegar and stirring up all brown bits. Add to casserole along with all remaining ingredients except vinegar peppers. Bake for 1½ hours. Add vinegar peppers and cook 15 minutes more. Remove pork chops and peppers to a warm serving plate. Add 2 teaspoons corn starch to pan drippings to make gravy. Pour over pork chops and peppers and serve.

Cutting Room Floor (sidebar):

You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Idris Elba, the hulking British actor best known as Stringer Bell on HBO’s The Wire, has said that his edgy detective character on Luther owes a debt to Falk. Luther, a childhood fan of Columbo and creator Neil Cross, explains that both the classic American mystery show and the smoking hot BBC crime series are “howcatchems” not whodunits, and no one did that better than Lt. Frank Columbo.

Dine Out Vancouver: January 20 to February 5

January 17, 2012

Our friends at Tourism Vancouver sent word that the 10th annual Dine Out Vancouver, the largest restaurant festival in Canada, will run this year from January 20 to February 5, and will feature new events, special hotel offers, and the highest number of participating restaurants to date–a whopping 225!

They report that three-course, prix-fixe menus will be priced at $18, $28, and $38, with suggested BC VQA wine and beer pairings courtesy of Wines of British Columbia and Kronenbourg 1664, available at an additional cost.

Participating hotels will offer rooms priced at $78, $108, and $138 per night, and some are featuring special Dine Out packages, too.

In celebration of Dine Out Vancouver’s 10th birthday, the list of daily dining experiences has expanded to more than 70 events. Samples from this year’s tantalizing schedule include Plated & Paired at the Public Market, featuring fresh eats and wines from 10 top B.C. wineries; Kronenbourg 1664’s popular Brasserie Mystère; the brand-new Street Food Cart City; and “Salt & Pepper” events featuring salsa dancing, an exclusive chef’s table experience and more. Tickets for paid events range from $25 to $150.

Dining Around the Napa Valley

January 13, 2012

Over Christmas week, Spencer and I spent four days in Napa and four days in Carmel, California. It was a glorious time for beach walking, restaurant hopping, picnics centered around wine and cheese, and just being together.

Here are our dining highlights and fondest food-related memories from Napa. In a subsequent post, I’ll cover our best dishes from Carmel, so please stay tuned.

Bouchon Petit Plateau, a seafood tower comprising half a lobster, eight oysters, four shrimp, four clams, and eight mussels. Yes, this was my entrée, and yes, I did manage to eat each and every bite all by myself!

Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller’s new(er) resto in Yountville that joins Bouchon and The French Laundry, offers credible crab cakes; well-roasted monkfish and vegetables; and a rare, perfectly cooked and toothsome ribeye.

But, perhaps surprisingly, the star dish was a a salad made of French Laundry baby greens (grown right up the street), tossed with toasted almonds, citrus segments, red onion slices, beets, and a citrus vinaigrette. A crunchy crostini with a big dollop of Laura Chenel chèvre completed the dish. I’ve never tasted greens so delicate, fresh, and full of flavor!

Ad Hoc is currently closed until March for remodeling, as is Bouchon Bakery, which suffered a fire in late 2012 and has been unable to operate at full steam ever since.

Bistro Jeanty Escargots with Garlic Pastis Butter, properly served in the traditional way, in the shell (!), along with an escargot holder.

Not to be outdone were the Bistro Jeanty Moules au Vin Rouge, Mussels in Red Wine Sauce. Ooh-la-la!

For Christmas dinner, we enjoyed Sautéed Duck Breast with Chestnut & Pearl-Onion Confit, Parsnip Crème, and Thyme Jus at Brix (perhaps best known for its hearty Sunday brunches and gorgeous patio).

Cindy Pawlcyn’s Mustards Grill delighted for lunch with a Grilled Ahi, Basil Aïoli, and Pickled Ginger Sandwich, a veritable bargain at just $14.95. I guess I was too focused on eating, because I forgot to snap a photo.

Celebrate New Naches Heights American Viticultural Area on January 13

January 10, 2012

Just before Christmas, the induction of the state’s 12th American Viticulture Area (AVA)–Naches Heights–became official.

This is a BIG DEAL, as the petition process is lengthy and arduous, and only a few truly unique viticultural areas are chosen.

Naches Heights is a particularly interesting AVA since all the grapes produced there are certified biodynamic, organic, or sustainable!

Our friends at The Tasting Room: Wines of Washington have organized a party for this Friday evening, January 13, to celebrate Washington’s newest AVA. Phil Cline of Naches Heights Vineyard and Paul Beveridge of Wilridge Vineyard, who are growing all organic and biodynamic grapes in the Naches Heights AVA, will both be on hand for the celebration to talk about the magic of the Heights and their journeys to make it an ideal growing site.

The official presentation will be given at 6  p.m. and the celebration will continue into the evening. There will be a special flight menu and discounted prices on everything produced by Naches Heights Vineyard and Wilridge.

For further details, here is the entire press release:

Naches Heights Approved as the 12th AVA in Washington State

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) today approved the establishment of the Naches Heights American Viticultural Area (AVA), creating Washington State’s 12th AVA. The establishment of the Naches Heights AVA will be effective in one month.

The Bureau’s approval will serve to further distinguish the quality and character of the wines produced with grapes grown on Naches Heights, a volcanic plateau located to the west of Yakima, WA. In order to carry the Naches Heights AVA, at least 85% of the grapes used to make a wine must be grown in the designated area. Naches Heights is further distinguished because all of the vineyards in the new AVA are certified biodynamic, organic or sustainable.

American Viticultural Areas are geographical wine grape growing regions in the United States with distinct soil and climate conditions. Their boundaries are defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, a division of the United States Department of the Treasury, and established at the request of wineries or other petitioners.

Phil Cline, owner of NHV vineyard and the first person to plant vines on Naches Heights, said: “We are pleased that the federal government agrees that Naches Heights is a distinctive place to grow wine grapes. We are also pleased that all of the vine growers on Naches Heights are committed to sustainable viticulture.”

Paul Beveridge, owner of Wilridge Winery & Vineyard on Naches Heights, commented: “We have been farming on Naches Heights for five years and producing wine from Naches Heights grapes for the past two years. While the large Columbia Valley AVA is characterized by river valleys and was shaped by the ancient Missoula floods, Naches Heights is located above the valleys on a one million year old Andesite lava flow from the Cascade Mountains that was never inundated by the historic floods. The Andesite is unique to Naches Heights in Washington State and we think it gives a distinctive character to our wines.”

Korean Food for the New Year

January 6, 2012

I must admit that I am not an expert when it comes to Korean cuisine.

I tested two recipes for my original Pike Place Market Cookbook that were submitted by Deluxe Barbecue, an old-time business has long-since been supplanted by a sushi place.

And everyone who’s a foodie knows about the nation’s national dish and passion–kimchi–fermented cabbage that comes in many different styles and variations.

But last month, when Spencer and I needed to make a Uwajimaya run for green tea and sake, we stopped off in the food court for lunch.

Shilla at Uwajimaya caught my eye, not only because I suspected it was an outpost of the venerable downtown Seattle Shilla, but because it was a step up from the pre-cooked, hot-table food offered elsewhere at the busy food court.

Shilla at Uwajimaya owner Ike Lee

Cooking to order, à la minute, Shilla’s owner Ike Lee told me he is a former owner of the original downtown Shilla. He’s an affable and faintly hucksterish (in a good way) sort of guy. It’s immediately apparent that he owns the place and he thrives on making his customers happy.

I happily settled in with the Tofu Soup with Seafood.

“Take the soup with a small bite of rice first,” Lee advised. “Koreans have a more spicy palate than Americans, so you need the rice to mellow the soup.”

Good advice, as the soup was pleasingly, warmingly, meltingly spiced.

Here is Spencer’s Spicy Chicken, which he asked for “extra-spicy,” so I could hardly even sample it!

Entrées came with brown or white rice, kimchi, and a chopped romaine salad with a light soy-sauce dressing.

We got out of there for less than $20 and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Thanks, Ike!

Seattle Wine and Food Experience: February 26

January 3, 2012

Mark your calendars now. . .

For the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, the premier showcase for wine and food in the Northwest.

The event will take place Sunday, February 26, 2012, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, 305 Harrison Street in Seattle.

Guests will experience a world tour of wine, beer, and all things culinary, according to a recent press release.

The event benefits The Giving Grapes Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that assists local charities who provide financial assistance to service industry professionals.

Event features include:

Wines from around the world

Featured Wine Region: Oregon

Beer and cider exhibit

Sip Northwest Distillery Row

20+ chefs preparing gourmet bites

Viking demo stage hosted the “Chef in the Hat” Thierry Rautureau

Fonté Coffee Lounge

Artisan Food “Shop”

Washington Beef Bistro

Live Music

Wineries from a variety of countries as well as Washington State, California, Oregon, and Idaho are participating in the event.

“Our wines have always enjoyed a strong following among Seattle wine lovers, and the Seattle Wine and Food Experience is a premier event,” said Steve Burns, Oregon Wine Board Interim Executive Director. “To be the lead regional sponsor is an exceptional opportunity for Oregon’s top wineries to build and strengthen their following in Washington.”

Tickets are $49.