Northwest Wining and Dining Update

March 13, 2015

You may have noticed that here at Northwest Wining and Dining things have been pretty quiet since our last post over the holiday season.

That’s because, as of December 31, Braiden “officially” retired from food and wine writing.

However, not to worry! Ever the writer, Braiden is now hard at work on her next book, NOT food and wine related, but a more personal endeavor.

Think “memoir!”

It feels fabulous to be creating/creative once again. As Lynne Rossetto Kasper once said to a group of us at the Symposium for Professional Food Writers at The Greenbrier, “Writing a book is like weaving an intricate tapestry. . .you have to make sure all the threads are interwoven.”

We’ll keep you posted from time to time on the book’s progress; hoping to have a rough draft by early May (my self-imposed deadline).



Recipe of the Month: Hot Honeyed Halibut

July 31, 2014

Hot Honeyed Halibut

Varietal: Riesling

Serves 4

This recipe, which is so tasty it made it into both editions of the Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook, is that classic combination of spicy/sweet/salty, with just a hint of citrus (from a touch of lemon juice) for acidity. Riesling, one of the most food-friendly of wines (and generally a good bet with Asian dishes), complements these flavors nicely. I’d choose a dry or off-dry style (as opposed to sweet) from a cooler climate, as these wines tend to be lighter on the palate and more floral in character.

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or 1 tablespoon soy sauce plus 1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1 1/2 pounds Alaskan halibut fillet, rinsed, patted dry, bones removed, and cut into 4 (6-ounce) pieces

1. In a small bowl, stir together the honey, Tabasco, soy sauce, and lemon juice, and reserve.

2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the halibut fillets flesh side down and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook 3 to 5 minutes more, or about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. During the last 2 minutes of cooking time, drizzle the reserved honey mixture evenly over the fillets.

3. When the fillets just turn opaque, divide them among individual plates and serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted from the “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” gift edition and e-edition, by Braiden Rex-Johnson, copyright 2005 (print edition) and 2012 (e-edition). Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Lisa Ekus Wins 2012 Outstanding Career Award

February 7, 2013

Thrilled to share the news that Lisa Ekus, my longtime literary agent and dear friend, who’s also founder and president of  The Lisa Ekus Group, will be awarded the honor of 2012 Outstanding Career by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau with the goal of recognizing and rewarding international culinary talent. Awards are given to cookbooks of excellence and culinary professionals from all over the globe.

The award will be handed out on February 23, 2013, in Paris, France, at the Gourmand Awards Gala event. Past winners of the Outstanding Career Award include Chuck Williams, Richard Grausman, and Dun Gifford.

From the press release I learned that, in her more than 30 years in the culinary industry, Lisa has cooked dinner for Julia Child; media trained Emeril Lagasse and Padma Lakshmi; secured book deals for more than 150 authors (me included–thanks, Lisa!); created culinary partnerships with leading manufacturers such as Lipton, Del Monte, Keebler, General Mills, Kraft, and Williams-Sonoma; and represented numerous restaurants, books, and food companies for public relations, including American Roland Food Corp.

Lisa’s cookbook collection numbers more than 7,000 volumes (and counting!). She also works closely with a number of charitable organizations, including The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, PeaceTrees Vietnam, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The Lisa Ekus Group began as a public relations agency—the first of its kind in the United States devoted entirely to cookbooks, chefs, and food products. The company has grown into a full-service culinary agency providing media training, public relations, consulting, talent representation, and literary-agency services to a world of culinary talent.

In 2000, The Lisa Ekus Group began offering Literary Agenting services and has since negotiated more than 350 book deals with such publishers as Andrews McMeel, Running Press, Artisan, Chronicle, HarperCollins, Penguin, Robert Rose, Simon & Schuster, Sterling, Ten Speed Press, and my personal favorite, Wiley, publisher of “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.”

Congratulations to Lisa for being such a pioneer in the culinary world. And personal thanks for all you have done to further and enhance my career.

Smoky Clam Chowder

January 31, 2013

Smoky Clam Chowder

Wine Varietal: Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris

Serves 4

The addition of salmon jerky gives this rendition of clam chowder a hearty flavor and a real Northwest flair. Salmon jerky is available at the four fish stands in the Pike Place Market, although I am especially fond of the version made by Pure Food Fish.

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubes boiling potatoes

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

2 cups milk

Pinch dried thyme, crumbled

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

2 (6.5-ounce) cans chopped clams, with juice

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 to 3 tablespoons diced salmon jerky

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the potatoes, celery, and onion. Cook until vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

2. Add the clam juice, milk, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

3. Add the clams, whipping cream, and smoked salmon, and stir well. Cook several minutes more, or until the mixture is warmed through. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

4. To serve, ladle the clam chowder into soup bowls and serve right away.

Cook’s Hint: For informal croutons, lightly butter Saltine crackers, place them in the bottom of the soup bowls, and pour over the chowder.

Recipe reprinted from “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” by Braiden Rex-Johnson.


Historic Yakima Valley B&B for Sale

July 20, 2012

A Touch of Europe Bed & Breakfast and Fine Dining Establishment in the Yakima Valley 

Ever dreamed of owning and operating a bed-and-breakfast inn?

Our friends Erika and Jim Cenci are approaching retirement. And just last week they sent me an email with details of their gorgeous property–an historic bed-and-breakfast inn and restaurant located in the heart of downtown Yakima’s Mansion District–that they have put up for sale.

You may remember the Cencis, as they are prominently featured in my book, “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia.” (PNWD).

I adored Erika’s recipe for Chilled Yellow Watermelon Soup with Dungeness Crab and Watercress Coulis when I dined at the inn while doing research for PNWD, and reprinted in in my book.

And I enjoyed writing a profile of A Touch of Europe Bed & Breakfast and Fine Dining Establishment. This property dates back to 1889, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Erika and Jim have operated the property since 1995.

In their email, they said, “It is hard to believe that we now have entered our 18th year as a successful B&B in Yakima. And, with our ages nearing 75, it verifies that time really does fly by quickly. So now we’re looking forward to moving on, perhaps to Arizona.”

The Cencis will continue to operate their business as usual until they find a suitable buyer. The buyer can purchase it for use in the following three ways: as a turn-key, active, fully furnished/equipped-throughout bed-and-breakfast inn; as a vacation rental; or as an unfurnished residence (some furnishings could possibly stay if sold as a residence).

If this sounds like your dream come true, please contact the Cencis for further information and/or a tour of the property at:

1-509-454-9775/888-438-7073 or

Richard’s Copper River Salmon Croquettes

May 31, 2012


Richard’s Copper River Salmon Croquettes

Wine Varietal: Pinot Noir

Serves 4

During the glorious summer months, when the Copper River salmon are running, my favorite fishmonger at Pure Food Fish in the Pike Place Market, Richard Hoage, saves some of the meaty bones as a special treat. I take them home and scrape away the succulent nubbins of flesh, then use Richard’s recipe to make salmon croquettes. Sometimes I add my own flourishes, such as diced red or green peppers or fresh corn kernels, depending on what’s handy in the vegetable compartment and what strikes my fancy. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche, best-quality mayonnaise, or your favorite barbecue sauce or salsa verde.

1 large egg

Pinch of salt

Pinch of freshly ground black or white pepper

1/2 white or yellow medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley, or 1 tablespoon minced cilantro, plus additional sprigs for garnish

1 pound scraped Copper River salmon meat or 1 pound wild Alaskan salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, minced by hand or food processor

1 to 1 1/2 cups unseasoned soft bread crumbs (See Cook’s Hint, below)

1 tablespoon olive oil or 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Lemon wedges, for garnish

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the egg, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and the minced parsley. Add the salmon and gently stir until the egg mixture is well incorporated. Add 1 cup of the bread crumbs and stir again. If the salmon mixture is too sticky to handle, add the remaining bread crumbs and stir again. Divide the salmon into 4 portions and form into patties. Do not handle or pat the salmon any more than is absolutely necessary.

2. Over medium heat, place a nonstick skillet large enough to hold the patties without crowding. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the patties and cook 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Turn and cook 3 to 5 minutes more, or until the patties just turn opaque in the middle. Alternately, the patties can be baked on a lightly greased baking sheet in a 400°F oven for 6 to 8 minutes on each side. or until the patties are lightly browned. Or broil the patties 4 to 6 inches from the heat source for 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

3. Transfer the croquettes to individual plates, garnish with the parsley sprigs and lemon wedges, and serve.

Cook’s Hint: To make unseasoned soft (fresh) bread crumbs, tear slices of white or whole-wheat bread into chunks and place them in a food processor. Process until crumbs of the desired size form. Fresh bread crumbs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week; in the freezer, tightly wrapped, they keep for about six months.

Recipe reprinted from the “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook, Gift Edition and e-Edition,” copyright 2005 and 2012, by Braiden Rex-Johnson.
Photograph Courtesy of Spencer Johnson.  

Welcome Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook E-Edition

April 20, 2012

It was both a happy moment and a sad moment, the best of times and worst of times, when Spencer came back from his morning coffee and workout session in the Pike Place Market a few weeks ago and showed me the photo above on his cellphone.

As he’d been wandering the Market’s nooks and crannies, he discovered my “Pike Place Market Cookbook” on the shelves at Metsker Maps along First Avenue.

Sad because the book was recently declared out of print; I bought 30 of the last 60 copies available; a new book entitled “Pike Place Market Recipes” will be published by Sasquatch Books next month. . .and I am not the author!

But out with the old and in with the (very) new as my “Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook,” which was published in 2005 by Ten Speed Press in a hardcover gift edition that remains in print, has just been released in an e-edition!

The electronic version of the seafood book, complete with gorgeous four-color photos, Fun Facts, and a How to Buy Seafood section (all part of the hardcover original), can be viewed on a Kindle.

IPhone and iPad users (such as myself) don’t despair! Simply download the free Kindle Reading App and you’ll soon be on your merry way.


It’s a Great Time to Buy a Cookbook!

December 13, 2011

The last few years have brought tough times to traditional brick-and-mortar local and independent, not to mention one big national chain bookstore (RIP Borders).

So I was very heartened as we walked through Macy’s in downtown Seattle last weekend, when I spotted two of my titles in several displays in Barbara’s Book Nook on the main floor near a major exit. Great placement!

Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (pictured above in the second row, left-hand side) was available in one book dump. . .

The second edition of the Pike Place Market Cookbook on another.

Now, if I could just get Barbara to stock the gift edition of the Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook!