Fava Bean Dip with Pecorino Romano and Garden Mint

March 31, 2012

Fava Bean Dip with Pecorino Romano and Garden Mint

Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc

Makes about 3 cups

This recipe from the Pike Place Market’s venerable Pink Door restaurant is courtesy of owner Jackie Roberts, a.k.a., La Padrona. This spring-time appetizer was inspired by Jackie’s fond memories of her grandfather eating raw fava beans along with a wedge of cheese, a hunk of crusty bread, and a glass of wine. Luckily, in her iteration, the favas are briefly cooked before puréeing with garlic, parsley, and olive oil to form a bright green spread.

4 to 5 pounds fresh fava beans in the shell

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped

3/4 to 1 cup olive oil

3/4 to 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste

Bruschetta (recipe follows)

1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1. To prepare the fava beans, remove the beans from the shells and discard the shells. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil and add the beans. Cook 30 to 60 seconds, drain, and rinse in cold water. When the beans are cool enough to handle, slit one side of the husk with the tip of a small, sharp kitchen knife, and pop out the bean inside. Repeat with the remaining beans, which should yield about 4 cups.

2. Place the beans, parsley, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the beans resemble small pebbles. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin, slow stream until the fava beans reach a thick consistency, scraping down the sides of bowl once or twice. You may need anywhere from 3/4 to 1 cup of oil.

3. Transfer the bean mixture to a medium mixing bowl and stir in 3/4 cup of the lemon juice. Add additional lemon juice if necessary to reach a spreadable consistency. Stir in the salt and pepper, taste the purée, and add more salt or pepper if desired.

4. To serve, spread the fava bean purée on the bruschetta. Using a clean, dry vegetable peeler, shave curls of cheese over the brushetta and sprinkle with mint.


1 loaf crusty country bread, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, halved

1. Preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and place 3 to 4 inches from the heat source. Broil 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and rub one side of each bread slice with the halved cloves of garlic, then brush lightly with olive oil.

Cook’s Hint: Although your first instinct might be to use extra virgin olive oil in the fava bean purée, Jackie advises not using it in this particular recipe. It is too pungent and makes the purée bitter instead of buttery smooth. A good second-press olive oil does the job and is less expensive than extra virgin oil.

Lady Alice Newest Apple Variety

March 30, 2012

Looking for something new and healthy to nibble on this time of the year? Then pick up a pound or two of Washington state’s newest apple variety: the Lady Alice.

The Rainier Fruit Co., exclusive agent for this new fruit, sent along a sample box about a week ago, and almost half these beauties have already been consumed by my husband and me.

They’re small and compact–perfect for the lunch box or a child’s afternoon snack.

My tasting notes read: Pleasing firm, dense texture with a snap to the skin. Not overly or cloyingly sweet–just right–with a bit of a tart aftertaste and pleasing acidity (much like a fine aged Riesling). Refreshing and very satisfying!

Rainier Fruit Company claims to be one of the largest growers of fresh apples in the United States. According to a press release, “This year the company is shipping its largest crop yet of the Lady Alice apple, a new apple that is making its way into more stores this year than ever before.”

You’ll find Lady Alice apples at your local QFC and other independent stores in the Seattle area through May, or while supplies last. Or use the Lady Alice Store Locator  to find a store near you.

More about the Lady Alice Apple (from the press release):

The unique Lady Alice variety is like a fine wine–it gets richer with age. The variety is characterized by its pinkish-red stripes over a creamy yellow background and sweet, crisp, dense flesh with a hint of tartness. It is an excellent choice for snacking, baking, and cooking. Unlike many varieties of apples, the Lady Alice is slow to brown when cut, making it perfect for salads and fruit trays. Its heirloom-like flesh helps the apple retain its texture when heated at high temperatures. Its delicious sweet bite offers a hint of tartness that lingers on the palate.

The recipe below would be perfect for this time of year since it uses first-of-the-season halibut paired with Lady Alice Apple Chutney. Seasonal eating at its finest!

Roasted Halibut with Apple Chutney

1 tablespoon butter

2 Lady Alice apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1 jalapeno chili, minced

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 (6-ounce) Alaskan halibut fillets, about 1 inch thick

4 teaspoons chopped fresh mint

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the apples. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes or until the apples begin to soften.

Add the orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt, ground coriander and ground cloves. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, sitting occasionally, until the apples are tender and juice is thick, about 10 minutes.

Add the mango and cook about 5 minutes or until the mango softens. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the halibut in a lightly greased baking dish. Drizzle each piece with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook 18 to 20 minutes or until halibut is cooked in the center. Serve with the chutney.

Cook’s Hint: Large pieces of halibut will require additional cooking time.

Photo by Braiden Rex-Johnson

“Your Tulio Love Story” Contest Now Through April 30

March 27, 2012

Tulio Ristorante–one of our go-to restaurants in downtown Seattle and one of  our fair city’s most respected Italian restaurants–is turning 20 this year, which means a LOT of romantic memories have been made over the years at Tulio.

Now chef Walter Pisano and his crew want to hear your romantic memory of a first date, wedding reception, anniversary, and everything in between.

Enter “Your Tulio Love Story” Contest between now and April 30 to be eligible to win the following to share with your special someone:

Dinner for 2 at Tulio

Two tickets to the World Premiere production of First Date at the ACT Theatre

An overnight stay at Vintage Park Hotel

Visit Tulio’s Facebook page to enter and for more contest information. The lucky winner will be announced on May 1.



Great Food Starts Fresh!

March 23, 2012

Any friend of Graham Kerr’s, author of numerous cookbooks and his latest work, “Growing at the Speed of Life: A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen Garden” (not to mention the former Galloping Gourmet) is a friend of mine.

So when Los Angeles-based chef Nathan Lyon reached out to me upon Graham’s recommendation, I knew I was in for something great!

“Great Food Starts Fresh,” is Nathan’s beautifully written and produced book detailing the best ways to use fresh produce–everything we all so happily snap up at our local farmers’ markets, through our Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions, or even at our local health-food and grocery stores.

I loved the lengthy section toward the front of this 344-page tome on How to Choose and Store Seasonal Produce, everything from Apples to Winter Squash. Sections on Kitchen Tools and Kitchen Staples will also come in handy as you embrace cooking with the seasons.

I was drawn to many of Nathan’s recipes, including Pan-Roasted Halibut with Salsa Verde and Asparagus (perfect for this time of year with the fresh halibut season just starting), Crostini alla Puttanesca (with a spicy sauce you can use on grilled bread or pasta), Shrimp with Cheddar Grits and Chorizo (‘nuf said!), and Sweet Potato Waffles with Honey Butter.

But the chef’s recipe for Raw Kale Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries really caught my eye as something simultaneously super-healthy while still a bit indulgent thanks to the addition of all these nutrition-packed goodies: pine nuts, toasted walnuts, toasted almonds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), dried cranberries, fresh orange segments, and crumbled feta cheese.

You can purchase Nathan’s book on his website for $35, a “great” (food) investment in healthful eating with the seasons.

Raw Kale Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts, and Cranberries

 Yield: 4 servings

 For the Salad:

1 bunch curly kale

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup toasted walnuts, chopped roughly

¼ cup toasted almonds, chopped roughly

¼ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

½ cup dried cranberries, preferably unsweetened

3 large oranges

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Vinaigrette:

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced finely (3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (from the oranges)

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Strip the tender leaves from the tough stems of the kale; discard the stems. Rinse and dry the leaves, then roll them up and slice into thin strips. You should have approximately 5 packed cups of kale ribbons.

2. Cut the peel and pith off the oranges, then segment them by cutting between the dividers. Discard any seeds, but reserve the juice for the vinaigrette.

3. In a medium container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

4. Add the kale, nuts, seeds, cranberries, orange segments, and crumbled feta to a large serving bowl. Drizzle half the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more vinaigrette if needed.

5. Wonder aloud why you didn’t make this salad sooner, then serve.

Cook’s Hint: Other optional ingredients that go wonderfully in kale salads are sunflower seeds, diced avocado, and diced apples.


Capital Grille Glorious Happy Hour

March 16, 2012

Now that we are living the low-carb/high-protein lifestyle, downtown Seattle’s Capital Grille has become one of our go-to places for a simply grilled piece of fish and a wedge salad.

The Grille is located in the venerable Cobb Building. It served as a medical/dental building for many years (our very own , now-retired dentist had an office there) before being converted into apartments. . .and home to The Capital Grille.

Here’s a gorgeous piece of ivory salmon I enjoyed a few weeks ago. Although a bit more cooked than I would have liked, the fish was flapping fresh and the simple tomato sauce and sautéed spinach didn’t overpower.

At a business appointment in the Grille’s bar earlier that afternoon, I enjoyed a glass of good-quality Sauvignon Blanc while Spencer had a California Pinot Noir. We didn’t have appetizers (knowing we were coming back for dinner in a few short hours) but watched in amazement as several of the tables around us partook of Miniature Lobster and Dungeness Crab Burgers, Pan-Fried Calamari, and Parmesan Truffle Fries.

Happy Hour is offered weekdays 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with all selections just six bucks apiece. Signature cocktails including the Stoli Doli (Cap Grille’s Signature Martini, infused with fresh pineapple!), Hemingway Daiquiri, or Adults Only Arnold Palmer, along with select wines by the glass are also available.

I’ll be back for such low-carb options as the Prawn Cocktail, while Spencer can enjoy red-meat options including the Miniature Tenderloin Sandwich or Miniature Signature Cheeseburger. Just hold the bread, please!

View Tourism Vancouver’s Smashing New Destination Video

March 13, 2012

Our friends at Tourism Vancouver released a new destination film, “It’s You. . .Vancouver,” which “is blazing a trail around the globe via social media,” according to a recent press release.

Just two weeks after its official release, “It’s You” received more than 150,000 views in 87 countries worldwide.

The three-minute video incorporates a local band and original song. According to Tourism Vancouver, it’s among the world’s first professionally produced destination films in music video format.

The song is performed by Watasun, a local duo whose music fuses urban beats with traditional folk sounds. Throughout the video, the band performs their catchy tune while making appearances in, near, or atop iconic Vancouver attractions.

You’ll recognize snow-covered Grouse Mountain, an Aquabus ferry, and the newly renovated BC Place Stadium.

I really enjoyed this video showcase of one of my favorite cities in all the world and hope you will, too!

Chicken Salad à la Hipstamatic iPhone4 App

March 9, 2012

Several Sundays ago, with the currently showing exhibition at Seattle’s venerable Frye Art Museum about to close, we made an afternoon journey that included a little research into the museum’s Gallery Cafe.

We both enjoyed the Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich with a Mixed Greens Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

I couldn’t resist shooting a couple of Hipstamatic photos, using one of my favorite iPhone4 apps.

Here are the colorful results. As I’m writing this close to lunch time, and still have to do my daily workout, I’m wishing I had one of these plates in front of me RIGHT NOW!


Time to Dine Around Seattle!

March 6, 2012

The amazing mussels appetizer from Steelhead Diner, one of the participants in Dine Around Seattle® 

March may bring the dreaded Ides, but also ushers in the ever-popular Dine Around Seattle®, Seattle’s original dining deal.

Now in its 11th year, Dine Around Seattle® will satisfy the fine food cravings of diners throughout the region with three-course, prix-fixe dinners for $30 and lunches for $15 at some of Seattle’s most delicious establishments.

New participants include Betty, Volterra, Local 360, Bako, The Scotch and Vine, Carmelita Vegetarian Restaurant & Bar, Assaggio, and BOKA Kitchen + Bar. (Prices do not include beverage, tax, or gratuity.)

Each restaurant will offer its Dine Around Seattle® menu Sunday through Thursday, from now until through March 29. Diners interested in making reservations can do so via the OpenTable reservations widget on the website and at the Dine Around Facebook page.

Dine Around’s blog features a lively play-by-play from participating restaurants. Diners are encouraged to check in during their dining experiences via Facebook, Twitter (@dinearoundsea), FourSquare, and Instagram.

The complete list of participating restaurants includes:

35th Street Bistro, Andaluca, ART Restaurant & Lounge, Assaggio Ristorante, Bako, Barking Frog, Barolo Ristorante, Barrio Mexican Kitchen and Bar, Betty Restaurant, Bin on the Lake, Blueacre Seafood, BOKA Kitchen + Bar, Carmelita Vegetarian Restaurant & Bar, Chandlers Crabhouse, Chez Shea, Chiso Sushi, Eva Restaurant, Fresh Bistro, Hunt Club, Le Grand Bistro Americain, Lecosho, Local 360, Lot No. 3, Mamma Melina Ristorante & Pizzeria, Monsoon East, Monsoon Seattle, Nishino, Palomino- Bellevue, Palomino-Seattle, Palisade Waterfront Restaurant, Peso’s Kitchen and Lounge, Ponti Seafood Grill, Preservation Kitchen, Purple Café and Wine Bar – Bellevue, Purple Café and Wine Bar – Kirkland, Purple Café and Wine Bar – Woodinville, Ray’s Boathouse, Shuckers, Spazzo Italian Grill & Wine Bar, Steelhead Diner, SZMANIA’S Steakhouse, Tango Restaurant, The Scotch and Vine, Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge, Urbane, and Volterra.

Mary Karlin Top-10 Cheese-Making Tips

March 2, 2012

Several Sundays ago, my article on Mary Karlin, a Sonoma, California-based cheese maker, ran in The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine.

Although I prepared a sidebar containing Mary’s top-10 cheese-making tips, it was too long to print with the article. So here is that list, along with some additional photos, for all you do-it-yourselfers who want to try cheese-making at home.

Mary Karlin’s Top-10 Cheese-Making Tips

1. Everything in cheese making is gentle. Don’t dump or pour or shake the milk.

2. Use a whisk with a specific up and down motion.

3. Raise the temperature of the milk gently because slower is better.

4. Ladle the curds gently.

5. Use a gentle pressure when pressing the curds.

6. Use the highest-quality milk you can find for cheese. Raw milk—the closest to the animal—is best. Reliable local sources for milk include Puget Consumers Co-op, Whole Foods Market, Central Market and Ballard Market.

7. Let the milk sit out for at least one hour, and preferably a few hours, before making cheese.

8. Cookware is very important, including non-reactive pots that don’t react to acid. Stainless-steel or ceramic pots with heavy-core bottoms and heavy walls are good; don’t use nonstick, cast iron or copper. A six-quart Le Creuset stockpot is a good choice. A flame-tamer or heat disburser is good for pans with less heavy bottoms and sides.

9. The longer the curds stay in the whey, the more firm and dry, with less moisture, they become. Drainage accomplishes the same thing.

10. For specialized cheese-making products, Karlin recommends two Seattle-based companies: The Cellar Homebrew (located at 14320 Greenwood Avenue North or online at http://www.cellar-homebrew.com/) and The Cheese Connection (online at www.cheeseconnection.net).

Artisan cheese maker Mary Karlin, left

Cheese curds ready for draining and pressing

Artisan cheese-making class

Hard at work making cheese

Mary Karlin assesses and pulls the curds to make cheese

Photos Courtesy of Spencer Johnson