Nancy’s Pumpkin Cheesecake

September 30, 2014

Market pumpkins northwest wining and dining website

Nancy’s Pumpkin Cheesecake
Varietal: Dessert Wines: Late-Harvest Riesling

Serves 8 to 12

With all the recent interest (some might say hysteria) about pumpkin flavorings in foods and beverages (e.g., Starbucks Pumpkin-Spice Lattes, Pumpkin-Spice Oreos, and even Quaker Foods Pumpkin-Spiced Instant Oatmeal), I thought we were long overdue in looking back at this recipe from Nancy Nipples, longtime proprietress and “head milkmaid” at The Pike Place Market Creamery.

Nancy suggests making her special cheesecake a day or two before you plan to serve it to allow the flavors to meld and intensify. I like to “frost” it with my invention—Rum Cream—for an added layer of decadence, but that is entirely up to you.

The rich, spicy cake pairs perfectly with the medium to viscous texture of a good-quality Late-Harvest Riesling. These wines often exhibit aromas and flavors of apricot and tropical fruits (pineapple!), honey and caramel, flowers and almonds, lovely counterpoints to the seasonal cake.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 1/4 cups firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about six 2 1/4-by-4 3/4-inch crackers)
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
One 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Rum Cream (recipe follows), optional

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan. Sift the flour with the pumpkin pie spice and reserve.
2. To make the crust, in a medium mixing bowl stir together 1 1/4 cups of the brown sugar, the graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, and cinnamon. Add the butter and stir until well mixed. Pat the crumb mixture on the bottom of the prepared springform pan and about halfway up the sides. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
3. To make the filling, place the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat at low to medium speed until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add the remaining 1 cup brown sugar, beating well after each addition, then add the reserved flour and mix well. Add the pumpkin and vanilla and blend thoroughly.
4. Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared crust and bake 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake 1 hour, or until the top is light brown and slightly puffed. Turn off the oven and leave the cake in the oven an additional 20 minutes without opening the oven door.
5. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and cool completely. Refrigerate at least overnight or (preferably) for 1 to 2 days. Just before you are ready to serve, frost the top of the cake with Rum Cream, if desired.
6. To slice the cheesecake cleanly, dip a long, sharp knife in hot water, wipe off the blade, and slice. Repeat this process between each cut, using a spatula to remove each wedge to individual plates.

Rum Cream

Makes about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum

1. Chill a small mixing bowl and a whisk. Add the cream and confectioner’s sugar to the bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Stir in the rum and use immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 day.

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.

Recipe of the Month: Alaskan Salmon with Warm Blackberry-and-Shallot Compote

May 31, 2014

Berries photo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Alaskan Salmon with Warm Blackberry-and-Shallot Compote

Wine Varietal: Merlot

Serves 4

Years ago, when I attended a class entitled “Cooking with Great Seafood Chefs” and watched a former executive chef from a well-known Seattle seafood restaurant prepare this dish, I was instantly impressed with his use of seasonal ingredients in a simple, yet tasty way. This would be the perfect dish to make right now—at the height of summer—when blackberries are prime and Alaskan king or sockeye salmon are running strong. And after the recipe was published in my seafood cookbook, it was chosen a Recipe-of-the-Year by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer!

3 to 4 shallots, peeled

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups fresh blackberries, gently rinsed, drained, and patted dry

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon minced fresh chervil

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Pinch of kosher salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets, skin and bones removed, rinsed, drained, patted dry, and cut into 4 (6-ounce) pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. In a mixing bowl, toss the shallots, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and the sugar. Spread in a baking pan and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until the shallots are lightly browned and soft. Remove from the oven and spoon the shallots and syrup into a nonreactive mixing bowl with a lid. Add the blackberries and raspberry vinegar and toss gently to mix the ingredients, being careful not to break up the berries. Cover the bowl and set aside.

3. Heat a nonstick skillet large enough to hold the salmon fillets without crowding over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. While the oil is heating, mix together the flour, chervil, parsley, salt, and pepper on a plate or a piece of waxed paper. Pat both sides of the salmon fillets in the flour mixture, then shake off the excess.

4. When the oil is hot, add the salmon fillets and cook 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook 3 to 5 minutes more, or until the fish just turns opaque.

5. To serve, transfer the salmon fillets to individual plates and spoon the compote over the top of the fish.

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.

Photo by Spencer Johnson 

Friends of the Market Celebrates 50 Years

April 28, 2014


pike place market spring northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Have you heard of Friends of the Market (FoM)? It’s the advocacy group, led by Seattle architect and civic leader, Victor Steinbrueck, who saved the Pike Place Market from the wrecking ball in the 1960s.

The group has become much more active and visible in recent years, hosting weekly Market tours on Saturdays during the summer months, helping revamp historic artwork through the Market, and taking an active role in the planning of the Waterfront entrance to the Market.

The group also celebrates its 50th birthday this year, and plans to launch a new website this month.

According to the March 2014 FoM newsletter, “Ritama Design is in the final stages of producing Friends’ new website. It will include concise histories of the Market and FoM, plus a complete pictorial review of the public art in the Market. . .Additionally, the site will keep the archived videos, newsletters, and interactive contact and enrollment features.”

So if you haven’t already checked out the group’s new online presence, please click here to learn more.

And, next time you are in the Market, be sure to pick up a copy of the Market News (a free newspaper available at the Information Booth at the corner of First Avenue and Pike Place). It contains Paul Dunn’s “Post Alley Passages” column, always a voice of authority about what’s happening in the Market (politics, people, even the occasional celebrity link).

Paul is FoM’s vice president, former executive director of the Pike Place Market Merchants Association, and long-time Market dweller. And a good personal buddy, to boot!

Photo courtesy of the Pike Place Market Preservation & Development Authority.


Pike Place Market’s Annual Daffodil Day March 20

March 17, 2014

Garden show 2014 yellow flowers northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

That lovely downtown-Seattle spring tradition we all know as Daffodil Day returns this year on March 20, when downtown streets will be awash in cheery yellow as legions of volunteers hand out over 10,000 daffodils to workers, residents, and shoppers to celebrate the first day of spring.

Mark your calendar now to take a stroll at lunch hour that day to pick up your little ray of spring sunshine–gratis, thanks to Pike Place Market flower vendors.

Arcade lights pike place market logo northwest wining and dining downtown seattle websiteAnd, while you have your calendar open, don’t forget to save-the-date for Arcade Lights, which returns to the Main Arcade on Friday evening, April 25. The annual springtime celebration of all things artisanal offers you a chance to taste handcrafted savory and sweet bites, washed down with craft beer, local wine, and nonalcoholic beverages, all made by local artisan food and drink purveyors.

Each ticket includes 10 tokens redeemable for food and beverages of your choose, plus a keepsake glass. Extra tokens can be purchased at the event. Proceeds benefit the Market Foundation.


Valentine’s Day Dining Options

January 27, 2014

Heart cookie photo

A few weeks ago, a friend and consultant of mine told me he was going out on a first date and asked me to recommend a few restaurants with the following parameters:

I am seeking a a restaurant in downtown Seattle. . .perhaps somewhere in or around the Market. Here is what I am kinda of shooting for in terms of requirements:

• good place to meet for drinks

• good wine selection

• maybe dinner or good Happy Hour menu

• not too $$$

• good first-date place

• view of Waterfront

• small/intimate. . . .yes, perhaps even romantic

• not noisy and crowded

And, after a bit of thinking, I answered:

Man, you don’t have too many parameters here. Ha! Hard to find one bar/resto that meets everything you desire, but here are some suggestions:

Il Bistro in the Market (dark, romantic, nice bar area, inexpensive and good-value Happy Hour [HH]). However, no water view.

Steelhead Diner in the Market (more casual than Il Bistro and probably more noisy, but wouldn’t seem like such a commitment. Also less price-y.) Peek-a-boo water views depending on where you sit. Not sure about HH menu or pricing. . .

The Pink Door in the Market is fun and funky but you’d need a reservation for dinner for sure. . .bar is fun but crowded and possibly noisy. Good price points, wine list, food, etc. Water views in summer on the deck but not in winter (but there is a trapeze artist on certain nights!).

Andaluca in the Mayflower Park Hotel has no water view but think romantic, tapas, and good wine list. . .perhaps better for a second or third date.

If you want a real “bar” bar, then Oliver’s in the Mayflower is a really well-established bar, noted for its martinis. They have a HH and also free appetizers.

If you want a real water view, there is also 67 at the Edgewater. . .we haven’t been there lately and never for HH but you might consider it.

So cheers to everyone near and dear in our lives as we approach Valentine’s Day 2014. . .

Welcome to the ‘Hood: Aragona Restaurant

January 20, 2014

Aragona rendering northwest wining and dining website link

Last summer, we got wind that Thoa’s Restaurant & Lounge would be pulling up stakes. One of several restaurants owned and operated by my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Thoa Nguyen, the restaurant was located in the base of our condominium building at First and Union for an impressive period–10 years.

We wondered who might take over the large space with a bar at the front, kitchen behind glass, and peekaboo views of Elliott Bay.

Soon, word leaked out that über-successful Seattle chef Jason Stratton, the genius behind northern Italian-leaning Cascina Spinasse and Artusi in Capitol Hill, was interested.

We saw the architect’s rendering (above) and learned the concept of the new space, named “Aragona,” would be regional Spanish food. Having studied in Madrid for four months while I was in college, and falling in love with both the people of that Iberian country and its cuisine, I was psyched!

Aragona jason stratton tour northwest wining and dining website link

We watched the construction, heard the whine of the saws and banging of the hammers, and even sniffed the glue and shellac when the workers laid the floors, so felt very invested in the latest iteration at First and Union.

A few weeks before opening, we enjoyed a hard-hat tour, with Chef Stratton pointing out artistic details and the many new facets to the restaurant. . .

Aragona female chef northwest wining and dining website link

And chatting up Aragona’s Chef de Cuisine, Carrie Mashaney, who previously served as chef de cuisine at Spinasse and gained wide acclaim last fall after appearing on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Aragona wine guy chris northwest wining and dining website link

Behind the wine table (pouring a dry Fino Sherry and Spanish wines from small producers), we recognized a former buddy from RN74–Master Sommelier Chris Tanghe.

Aragona jason kitchen northwest wining and dining website link

Stratton took us behind the scenes in the gorgeous new kitchen, completely outfitted with new equipment including a plancha (a flat-top grill widely used in Spain and Latin America to cook fish and shellfish).

Aragona column northwest wining and dining website link

This stunning column really spoke to me. . .a modern update of the many beautiful columns and pillars one sees everywhere in southern Spain. In a press release, it’s described as “the visual showpiece of the dining room. . .created by internationally recognized Seattle mosaic artist Kate Jessup.”

The column is surrounded by a central service table that will be used for decanting wine, carving ham, and dishing out paella-like rice dishes.

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

We enjoyed a variety of nibbles that afternoon including savory cookies and olives. . .

Aragona food northwest wining and dining website link

flatbread and nut-covered cheese balls.

Aragona group shot northwest wining and dining website link

Here’s an overview of the main dining room taken from the private dining room at the back and looking toward the bar (with the kitchen on the left).

Aragona logo northwest wining and dining website link

And here is the lovely logo that evokes the proud traditions of España.

Just a few weeks later, after many hours of overtime work by the construction workers and staff, the restaurant opened for business on December 9.

Aragona restaurant main dining room interior northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We were lucky enough to be included in the Family and Friends dinner the evening before, and were blown away by the glamorous transformation of the interior, which manages to be contemporary, warm, and elegant while still nodding to restaurants in Spain. Here (above) is the main dining room.

Aragona bar area northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

The bar offers a separate, more small-plate menu and multiple wine-by-the glass options, which will be perfect for theater-goers and music lovers for pre-Benaroya-hall events.

Aragona restaurant jason stratton owner chef and carrey sous chef northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Here are Jason and Carrie looking relieved that their latest “baby” is finally open for business.

Aragona restaurant octopus cauliflower puree northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

We fought over the Grilled Octopus and Cauliflower Purée with its lovely charry notes and buttery richness.

Aragona restaurant dessert northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Although we didn’t have room for dessert, here’s a photo of one of several tempting options.

Rave reviews are already starting to stream in for Aragona. Please have a look at our friend and colleague Bethany Jean Clement’s complete, and very positive review from The Stranger’s January 15 issue.

Nicole Sprinkle, in The Seattle Weekly, also weighed in with a review in the January 21 issue, while Zach Geballe praised the impressive and inventive wine and Sherry offerings.

Architectural rendering and logo courtesy of Aragona.
Top eight photos by Braiden Rex-Johnson. Remaining photos courtesy of Aragona. 

Celebrate the Holidays at the Pike Place Market

November 18, 2013

Pike place market xmas photo northwest wining and dining website link

Pike Place Market brings the magic back to the holiday season with the fun and joyful event, Magic in the Market, on Saturday, November 30. The festivities take place from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the Market shops and restaurants open all day.

Meet Santa and his favorite elf in front of the Pike Place Market clock and take your own family photos while also finding original stocking stuffers, specialty foods, and handcrafted gifts for everyone on your list.

Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition Teams will perform for holiday shoppers from 1 p.m. to 4:30 pm under the Market Clock.

Kids 12 and under will have fun decorating cookies made by Pike Place Bakery in the new Atrium Kitchen located on the first floor of the Economy Building from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The lighting of the 20-foot holiday tree as well the Market Swine Deer, Carrot, Strawberry, and Pear will be led by Santa with the help from Figgy Caroling teams at 5 p.m.

Event Details

What: Magic in the Market holiday celebration featuring free photos with Santa, a tree lighting ceremony, Figgy Pudding Carolers, and cookie decorating for kids.

When: Saturday, November 30, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Where: Santa, tree lighting ceremony and Figgy Carolers will be located near the Market clock and sign; cookie decorating held in the Atrium Kitchen, Economy Market Building at 1st and Pike St.

October Events at the Pike Place Market

October 14, 2013

Arcade lights pike place market logo northwest wining and dining website

Friday, October 18, marks one of the Pike Place Market’s most fun events of fall–Arcade Lights.

Seven p.m. to 10 p.m. that evening is the time to join your fellow foodies, locavores, beer lovers, and wine enthusiasts in the Market’s historic Arcade to taste handcrafted savory and sweet bites, handcrafted beer, local wine, and nonalcoholic drinks by more than 60 local artisan food and drink purveyors. Adults (over 21 years of age) only, please!

This after-hours event, which benefits all the good works of the Pike Place Market Foundation, provides the perfect setting in which to taste the latest creations of Seattle’s famously innovative food and drink purveyors.

The Pike Place Market Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting the following human service agencies at the Pike Place Market: Pike Market Child Care and Preschool, Pike Market Medical Clinic, Pike Market Senior Center and Downtown Food Bank

More than 60 local food and drink artisans will be showcased at Arcade Lights, including Drummin’ Up Wontons, Mt. Townsend Creamery, Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt, Sweet Iron Waffles, Whidbey Island Ice Cream Company, Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Naked City Brewery, Naches Heights Winery, Patterson Cellars, and more.

Pair your favorite must-have tastes with a glass of seasonal ale, Washington wine, or bubbly fruit soda in what has become known as the ultimate tasting event of the season!

Advance tickets, which cost $28, allow advance ticket holders to enter the event at 6:30 p.m. Day-of tickets are limited, and cost $35.

Ticket price includes 10 tokens, a tasting glass, and a cloth napkin. Additional tokens can be purchased at the event entrances.

Market pumpkins northwest wining and dining website

A more family-friendly event takes place on Saturday, October 26, when the Market offers up a Halloween celebration presented by the community’s very own Orange Dracula.

Kids and parents can snap photos with friendly witches, explore a spooky kiddie haunted house, and find the perfect carving pumpkin.

Pets in costume can join in the fun too! Trick or treat through the crafts market and participating Market businesses.

The fun begins under the Public Market clock and continues to Orange Dracula, which has Halloween decorations, costume,s and a Dracula pinball machine. Orange Dracula is located on the third lower level of the Market.

So, all in all, October is shaping up to be a VERY fun time in Seattle’s venerable Pike Place Market.

More on Pacific Northwest Farmers Markets

July 8, 2013

In our June 17 post, we updated you on the summer schedule at the venerable Pike Place Market.

In today’s post, we are sharing the good news about other farmers markets in the Pacific Northwest.

Pybus Public Market, Wenatchee, Washington

Pybus public market

After more than a year of dreaming, planning and construction, Pybus Public Market, located at 3 North Worthen, Wenatchee, opened its doors to the public in its inaugural debut (soft opening) on Saturday, May 11, at 7:30 a.m.

The building was built in the late 1940s, and brings together a part of the Wenatchee Valley’s history. . .and a glimpse of its future. Opening weekend included a number of festive events, including the lighting of the large red neon “Public Market” sign that is so reminiscent of the Pike Place Market’s eponymous sign.

Since opening weekend, Pybus Market has been open seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Berries photo

Vancouver, British Columbia, Farmers Markets

Vancouver’s annual farmers markets – typically beginning mid-May and running through late October – are more than just a great place to shop; they’re also a terrific source of food education and a great way to meet the colorful characters of Vancouver’s vibrant food community.

Kitsilano Farmers Market

May 12 to October 20 (Sundays, 10am – 2pm)

With nearly 50 vendors offering an array of organic and conventional foods, shoppers can get their hands on Fraser Valley honey, organic coffee, gluten-free cakes and crackers, freshly baked breads, biodynamic berries and handmade crafts. It’s also the perfect spot to grab some goodies for a picnic on nearby Kitsilano Beach.

West End Farmers Market

June 1 to October 19 (Saturdays, 9am – 2pm)

Located in the heart of Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood (walking distance from a number of downtown Vancouver hotels), this quaint market offers high-quality produce, pastries, cheeses, honey and more. For a full day of fun, shoppers can combine a visit to the market with a round of shopping on nearby Robson Street.

Main Street Station Farmers Market

June 5 to October 2 (Wednesdays, 3pm – 7pm)

Nearly 40 vendors line up alongside Thornton Park selling goods like pure maple syrup, natural sausages, wild-caught salmon and handmade soaps. Those who want to carry on their shopping streak can continue along Main Street and browse the area’s trendy boutique shops, or stop by Campagnolo restaurant for a delectable market-inspired menu feature created by executive chef Robert Belcham (available Wednesday nights).

Granville Island Farmers Market

Beginning June 6 (Thursdays, 9am – 3pm)

The Granville Island Farmers’ Market offers everything from handmade artisan cheeses to all-natural gourmet sauces. After working up an appetite, shoppers can choose from more than 70 eateries scattered throughout the island, or stop for mouthwatering fish and chips at False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf.

Lonsdale Quay Artisans Farmers Market

May 4 to October 26 (Saturdays, 10am – 3pm)

Located just 10 minutes via SeaBus from Vancouver’s downtown core, the Lonsdale Quay Farmers’ Market brings together some of Vancouver’s best jam makers, honey gatherers, salsa mixers, bread bakers and crafters. It’s also the perfect pit stop to grab a snack en route to the North Shore’s Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and Grouse Mountain.

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