Recipe of the Month: Smoked Salmon Dutch Baby

December 31, 2012

Smoked Salmon Dutch Baby with Dill Sauce

Wine Varietal: Sparkling Wine or Champagne

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Dutch babies, also referred to as German babies, baked pancakes, or oven pancakes, are puffy pancakes cooked in a skillet in the oven. Although often served with a sauce of lemon juice mixed with confectioner’s sugar, I like this savory version spiked with smoked salmon and sautéed veggies and served as an appetizer. Served with a glass (or two) of your favorite bubbly, it would be a lovely way to ring in the New Year!

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 small white or yellow onion, chopped

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

3/4 cup lowfat milk

1/3 cup flour

Dash freshly ground white pepper

4 eggs or 1 cup egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters

1 1/2 teaspoons ground sweet paprika

1 package (3 ounces) cold-smoked salmon, such as Nova or lox, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1. Heat the oven to 400°F.

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.

3. Melt the butter in a large, nonstick, ovenproof skillet in the oven until sizzling. Wrap the handle of the skillet with foil if it is not oven-safe, and check the skillet frequently so that the butter doesn’t burn.

4. Blend the milk, flour, and white pepper in a food processor or blender. Add the eggs and process just until blended.

5. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the reserved vegetables to skillet, distributing evenly. Immediately pour in the egg batter.

6. Bake in the center of the oven until the Dutch baby is puffed and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle evenly with paprika, and place the salmon pieces over top of pancake. Cut into 8 wedges and serve immediately or allow to come to room temperature.

7. To serve, place 2 wedges on each appetizer plate and place a dollop of Dill Sauce beside the wedges.

Dill Sauce

Makes 1/2 cup

1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1/4 cup nonfat or lowfat sour cream

1 tablespoon fresh snipped dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill, crumbled



Place yogurt, sour cream, and dill in a small mixing bowl and stir to blend. Season to taste with Tabasco and salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cook’s Hint: To insure the Dutch baby comes out of the pan easily, this recipe works best when prepared in a nonstick skillet. And no peeking while the Dutch baby is cooking; opening the oven door while baking will cause the pancake to fall!


Fabulous Holiday Recipe: Mixed Greens with Fallen Cheese Soufflés and Champagne Vinaigrette

December 27, 2012

As we count down to the holidays and begin thinking about what to serve our families and friends for the special day (whatever you choose to celebrate), we will post some of our favorite recipes of all time for your consideration. Enjoy, and let us know how you like them!

Mixed Greens with Fallen Cheese Soufflés and Champagne Vinaigrette

Varietal: Riesling, Syrah, Cabernet Franc

Serves 6

In this savory salad that first appeared within the pages of my seventh book, “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining,” the cheese soufflés and roasted red peppers act as bridge ingredients, so wine pairings are versatile. You can go with everything from Riesling to Syrah to Cabernet Franc!

Champagne Vinaigrette

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Champagne vinegar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound fresh asparagus, woody stems trimmed

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Samish Bay Montasio cheese or high-quality Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

Kosher salt

Freshly ground white pepper

4 to 6 ounces fresh arugula leaves

4 to 6 ounces fresh watercress

1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, homemade (see Cook’s Hint, below) or store-bought (pat very dry), cut into bite-sized pieces

1. To prepare the Champagne Vinaigrette, in a cruet or container with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil and vinegar. Shake well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray six 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.

3. Prepare an ice bath (see Cook’s Hint, below). Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the asparagus, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus turns bright green and become tender-crisp, 2 to 5 minutes (depending on thickness). Plunge the asparagus into the ice bath until cool enough to handle. Remove the asparagus, pat dry, cut into bite-sized pieces, and set aside.

4. In a small saucepan, combine the cheese and cream. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts. Heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the cream and steam rises off the top, but do not allow the cream to come to a boil.

5. Remove from the heat and, in a mixing bowl, whisk a very small amount of the cream mixture into the eggs (this is called tempering). Continue adding the cream very slowly and whisking constantly, being careful not to scramble the eggs. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

6. Divide the cheese mixture evenly among the custard cups (for easier handling, place the custard cups on a baking sheet without crowding). Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until they turn golden around the edges and puff. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes at room temperature, then cover and cool 2 to 3 hours (or up to 2 days) in the refrigerator. Do not worry if the soufflés fall; they are supposed to!

7. When ready to serve, combine the arugula, watercress, reserved asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl and toss with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette, or more to taste. Divide the salad among 6 salad plates. Run a small knife around the inside of each custard cup to loosen. Carefully invert the cup over the salad and tap gently to release the custard. Position the custard on top of the greens and serve.

Cook’s Hints: (1) Roast peppers in one of these three ways. Roast over a gas burner on high heat, turning frequently with kitchen tongs, until well charred on all sides; broil under a hot broiler several inches from the heat, turning frequently, until brownish-black blisters form; or roast in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, turning frequently, until brownish-black blisters form. Put the roasted peppers in a paper or plastic bag, close the top, and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag and scrape off the skin; cut away the seeds and ribs. Wipe away any remaining black particles with a damp cloth, then slice or chop as needed. If desired, use thin plastic or rubber gloves to protect your hands while preparing chile peppers. (2) Ice baths are called for when blanching vegetables or fruits; the cold water immediately stops the cooking process so that the produce doesn’t become overcooked. To make an ice bath, simply fill a large mixing bowl with ice cubes and add cold water to cover the cubes.

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.

Fabulous Holiday Recipe: Baked Stuffed Clams

December 24, 2012

As we count down to the holidays and begin thinking about what to serve our families and friends for the special day (whatever you choose to celebrate), we will post some of our favorite recipes of all time for your consideration.

Here’s the recipe for lusty Vongole Ripiene (Baked Stuffed Clams with Toasted Parmesan Bread Crumbs) that comes from chef Walter Pisano of the long-running Tulio Ristorante in downtown Seattle.

Walter’s recipe was printed in a December 2008 article I wrote for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine on the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional, multi-course Italian seafood-centric dinner served on Christmas Eve.

Please follow the link about to learn more about the Feast of the Seven Fishes, to seem Seattle Times photographer Ken Lambert’s lip-smacking photo, and to see Walter’s recipe.

Fabulous Holiday Recipe: Herbed Goat Cheese with Walnut Crostini

December 21, 2012

As we count down to the holidays and begin thinking about what to serve our families and friends for the special day (whatever you choose to celebrate), we will post some of our favorite recipes of all time for your consideration. Enjoy, and let us know how you like them!

Cervelle de Canut (Herbed Goat Cheese with Walnut Crostini)

Varietal: Chardonnay (Unoaked) or Syrah

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer

This easy-to-make appetizer, originally published in “Pacific Northwest Wining and Dining,” is the perfect nosh to keep on hand for holiday drinks and unexpected guests. Also nice is its versatility with wine, since it works with both white (an unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Gris or Blanc, or even bubbly!) or red (Syrah or Merlot).

8 ounces Juniper Grove Fromage Blanc or soft, fresh goat’s-milk cheese (chèvre)

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/4 cup minced shallots

Juice and freshly grated zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

12 to 16 slices artisan walnut bread, toasted

1/2 head frisée, torn into bite-sized pieces

1. With a whisk or in a food processor, whip the fromage blanc and crème fraîche with the shallots, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, parsley, and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. To serve, spread the herbed goat cheese on the toasted walnut bread and arrange on a serving plate. Top with frisée leaves.

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.

Fabulous Holiday Recipe: Citrus Yogurt Cake with Baked D’Anjou Pears and Meyer Lemon Marmalade

December 18, 2012

Orange, or any other citrus-flavored marmalade, is a key ingredient in Citrus Yogurt Cake.

As we count down to the holidays and begin thinking about what to serve our families and friends for the special day (whatever you choose to celebrate), we will post some of our favorite recipes of all time for your consideration. This light and lovely cake is a welcome alternative to the typical heavy holiday flavors (chocolate, mint, eggnog). 

Citrus Yogurt Cake with Baked D’Anjou Pears and Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Varietal: Gewürztraminer or Riesling

Serves 8

This light, innovative, citrus-flavored cake from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining” can be flavored with either orange or lemon zest and is accompanied by cilantro-spiced pears and the marmalade sauce of your choice (Meyer lemon, orange, or grapefruit). It makes a lovely pairing with a medium-bodied, slightly sweet wine such as an aromatic Gewürztraminer or and off-dry Riesling.

Baked D’Anjou Pears

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon ground coriander

4 ripe, firm D’Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and cut in half

Citrus Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for coating the pan

1 1/2 cups plain, whole-milk yogurt (See Cook’s Hint, below) 

4 large eggs

2 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange or lemon zest

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

Pinch of table salt

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 to 3/4 cup Meyer lemon, grapefruit, or orange marmalade

Sweetened whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or frozen yogurt, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil first (for easy clean-up) and grease or coat with nonstick cooking spray.

2. To make the Baked D’Anjou Pears, in a small bowl, mix together the sugar and the coriander. Rub the sugar mixture over the pear halves. Arrange the pear halves, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until a small, sharp knife is easily inserted, but the pears are not mushy. Allow the pears to cool completely at room temperature.

3. To make the cake, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Grease well or coat with nonstick spray a 5- by-9-inch loaf pan or an 8- to 10-cup fluted tube or Bundt pan. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar in the pan and turn to evenly coat the greased surfaces with sugar. Tap out and discard any excess sugar.

4. Add the 1 1/2 cups of sugar, the yogurt, eggs, zest, and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wire whisk until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients to make a smooth batter. Do not overmix. With a rubber spatula, add the oil, stirring in gently and turning the mixing bowl as you add the oil (a technique known as “folding”).

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes if using a loaf pan, or 55 to 65 minutes if using afluted tube or Bundt pan, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Tent the cake with foil after 1 hour, if needed, to prevent over-browning.

6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Turn out and cool completely, right side up, on the wire rack.

7. When the cake has cooled, cut it into individual slices and place one slice in the center of each small plate. Stir the marmalade well to loosen it or warm at 50 percent power in a microwave oven until softened. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the marmalade over one side of each piece of cake, allowing a bit to overflow onto the plate. Slice each pear in half lengthwise, starting about 1 inch from the top of the pear and cutting into 1/4-inch slices. Keep the top portion intact and spread out each sliced pear half to form a fan shape. Place a fanned pear half on top of the marmalade, propping it up against the cake. If desired, add a dollop of whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.

Cook’s Hint: For the best texture in the cake, choose a brand of yogurt that doesn’t contain pectin or gelatin, such as Dannon or Nancy’s.

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

Fabulous Holiday Recipe: Chocolate Pot de Crème

December 14, 2012

As we count down to the holidays and begin thinking about what to serve our families and friends for the special day (whatever you choose to celebrate), we will post some of our favorite recipes of all time for your consideration.

Beginning today: Chocolate Pot de Crème, which hails from Place Pigalle, one of the Pike Place Market’s most romantic and long-running French restaurants. The recipe was included in the “Pike Place Market Cookbook, Second Edition.”

Chocolate Pot de Crème

Varietal: Dessert Wine (Port)

Serves 6

Pot de crème translates from the French as “pot of cream,” but I simply refer to this intensely chocolate-y dessert as a “pot of pleasure.” Just be sure to choose a bittersweet chocolate you like to eat out of hand, since some bittersweet chocolates can be intensely dark and bitter, and this three-ingredient recipe contains no added sugar. “Chocolate Pot” serves as the perfect foil to a dense, rich Port wine (ruby or tawny—your choice!), such as those made by Hinzerling or Powers in Washington State, or Sineann in Oregon.

1/2 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 cups whipping cream
6 large egg yolks
Fresh mint leaves, optional

1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a stainless-steel or glass bowl placed over a saucepan filled with simmering (not boiling!) water, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to get any water into the chocolate or it could seize (clump and harden) and become unusable. Slowly add 2 cups of the whipping cream, whisking until the chocolate and cream are well mixed, and bring just to a boil, whisking occasionally and being careful not to scorch the cream.

2. Remove the chocolate/cream mixture from the heat. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the yolks until thoroughly combined.

3. Divide the chocolate mixture evenly among six ramekins or custard cups (6-ounce capacity), then refrigerate 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the chocolate sets and chills. After the chocolate chills completely, cover the ramekins with plastic wrap. The desserts can be refrigerated for up to one week or, alternatively, the ramekins can be well wrapped and frozen, then thawed overnight in the refrigerator before serving. (May be made from one week up to six months ahead.)

4. Just before serving, whip the remaining 1 cup cream until stiff peaks form. Remove the ramekins from the refrigerator, add a dollop of whipped cream to each, and garnish with fresh mint leaves, if desired.

Annual Sisters Holiday Lunch at icon Grill

December 11, 2012

Every holiday season, my two honorary sises and I have lunch at icon Grill in downtown Seattle. I’ve written about these get-togethers for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine in an article about holiday traditions.

And I’m happy to report that last Friday we again partook of icon’s fun seasonal offerings while we basked in the holiday spirit amid a plethora of colorfully decorated Christmas trees and holiday tchotches.

As usual, I enjoyed the Butternut Squash Bisque and Grilled Pear Salad. Sis and Sis shared the Holiday Wreath Salad and Candy Cane Beet Salad.

We talked so much, and all had to get back to work or appointments, that we didn’t have time for dessert this year, sigh.

But if time had allowed, we would have tried a brand-new item that sounds decadently delish–Eggnog Pudding and Italian Rum Cake.

We were happy to see that, once again, chef Nick Musser and crew are offering a program featuring five Chateau Ste. Michelle wines by the glass or bottle  in which a portion of the proceeds benefit colleges and universities in our region that offer vitculture and enology programs.

The Grill’s popular Santa Brunches run Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., through December 23.

Dish of the Day: Place Pigalle’s Outstanding Oyster Stew

December 7, 2012

This Dish of the Day was originally published in 2010, but it still holds true today. Thank you, Place Pigalle!

Every now and then, usually in the winter months, when the weather is typically Northwest (gray, gray, and more gray), I get a hankerin’ for Place Pigalle’s Oyster Stew.

This outstanding version of the genre has been on the menu at the venerable Pike Place Market hideaway for god knows how long–I’d bet ever since former bartender Bill Frank took over the famous biker bar in 1982. Whenever it was, I hope new owners (at least by Pike Place Market standards) Seth and Lluvia Walker  NEVER take it off!

Place Pigalle\'s Oyster Stew

Somehow, its creamy smoothness is totally imbued with über amounts of oyster nectar. A coupla perfectly poached oysters lurk within. I always add pieces of broken-up bread (soft inside part only, no crust) to sop up the sensual soup and make it last longer.

One cup, along with the Roasted Beet Salad, is all I can rationalize, although I’d drink vat loads if the calorie count and sat-fat levels were lower. Which more than qualifies Place Pigalle’s Oyster Stew as my Dish of the Day.

Dish of the Day: Artful Mini Burgers

December 4, 2012

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been reprinting some of our favorite Dishes of the Day from the last year or so while we enjoy some time out of the office.

Here are the Mini Burgers from ART Restaurant & Lounge.

Last week I met a local marketing expert/publicist to talk about some possible freelance work. We met at ART Restaurant & Lounge, not only because it’s one of my favorite places in Seattle, but because it’s also very conveniently located right across the courtyard from our downtown condo.

I’d just gulped down a Balance Bar, half a big Fuji apple, and glass of low-fat milk, so didn’t want anything to eat.

The young publicist, however, had skipped lunch due to her heavy workload. So I suggested she try chef Kerry Sear’s legendary mini burgers.

She chose both salmon and veggie, and raved about the curry and cumin spices in the latter.

I loved the whimsical long plate the burgers were served on–printed with a french fry background. Adorable!

Even more adorable was the mini bottle of ketchup that accompanied the burgers.

For both taste and presentation, ART’s mini burgers deserve our Dish of the Day.