Hazelnut Espresso Torte

December 31, 2014

Need a simple, yet elegant (and definitely “grown-up) dessert for your holiday table? Try this espresso-fueled torte.

Hazelnut Espresso Torte

Varietal: Dessert Wine: Sherry or Tawny Port

Serves 6 to 8

This recipe is dedicated to Seattle’s ongoing love affair with coffee, a flavor that pairs perfectly with sweet, rich, Northwest hazelnuts. The cake alone is plenty good for dunking in a strong cuppa ‘joe, but transforms into an extravagant dessert when brushed with coffee liqueur and layered with creamy coffee frosting.

For the ultimate dessert pairing, try a good-quality dry Sherry or a Tawny (not Ruby) Port. The nutty notes in these two wines will pick up the earthy flavors in the hazelnuts. Hinzerling Winery, under the direction of winemaker and owner Mike Wallace, is one of the Northwest’s oldest and most venerable producers of high-quality dessert wines.

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of table salt
2 large eggs, beaten until frothy
1/2 cup prepared espresso or instant espresso powder, reconstituted according to package instructions
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (See Cook’s Hint, below)
1/4 cup Kahlua or coffee-flavored liqueur
Coffee Cream Icing (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons grated semi-sweet chocolate, optional

1. Arrange the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Generously grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with waxed paper, and grease and flour again.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center, add the eggs, and stir just until crumbly. Combine the espresso and the oil, and add one-third of the liquid at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the hazelnuts, blend well, and pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

3. Place the cake in the oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pan and the middle is springy-firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a dull knife and turn the cake out of the pan. Remove the waxed paper and allow the cake to cool completely on the wire rack.

4. With a long, serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally into two even layers. Brush half of the coffee liqueur evenly over the bottom layer, then frost it with half of the Coffee Cream Icing. Place the remaining layer on top, brush with the remaining liqueur, and frost the top of the cake only, allowing any excess icing to dribble down the sides.

5. To serve, cut the cake into even slices. If desired, sprinkle a bit of grated chocolate over each slice.

Cook’s Hint: To toast hazelnuts, place the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, or until the nuts give off their aroma, shaking the pan occasionally. Watch closely so that the nuts do not burn. Remove the nuts from the heat. When cool enough to handle, rub off the skins with a clean kitchen towel.

Coffee Cream Icing
Makes 1 1/3 cups
1 cup mascarpone cheese (Italian cream cheese)
3 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

1. In a small mixing bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, brown sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk and stir well. If necessary, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of milk and stir until the icing reaches a thick, yet spreadable consistency.


Braiden’s Favorite Thanksgiving Potatoes: Double Apricot Sweet Potatoes and Red Curry Mashers

November 30, 2014

Braiden’s Favorite Thanksgiving Potatoes

Tired of the same old side dishes at Thanksgiving? How about trying these favorites from the Rex-Johnson family?

Double Apricot Sweet Potatoes
Varietal: Riesling

Serves 4 to 6

Sweet potatoes get a double whammy of taste and texture when they are flavored with apricot nectar and topped with amaretti, Italian macaroon cookies baked with apricot-kernel paste. Amaretti are available at DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine in the Pike Place Market and at upscale grocery stores. Pair the sweets with a stone-fruit-rich wine, such as a Riesling. Its apricot and nectarine aromas and flavors, along with the classic kerosene (think new bike tires!) nose, work especially well with this side dish, as well as other tastes and textures on the Thanksgiving table, such as roasted turkey and oyster stuffing.

12 Amaretti di Saronno cookies (6 individually wrapped packages)
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large, uniform-sized chunks
1/2 cup apricot nectar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons dark rum or apricot nectar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a medium baking dish or spray with nonstick spray. Unwrap the amaretti, place them in a small plastic bag, and crush with a meat mallet or rolling pin until medium crumbs form.
2. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water by one inch, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
3. Drain the potatoes and put them through a ricer or food mill or mash with a potato masher or fork. Stir in the apricot nectar, orange zest, fresh ginger, and salt, then transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish.
4. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the crushed cookies and rum, then spoon the crumbs over the potatoes, smoothing to the edges. Bake 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are heated through.

Red Curry Mashers
Varietal: Pinot Blanc

Serves 6 to 8

Mashed potatoes have become the ultimate adult comfort food. I like this Asian rendition in which the potatoes take on the tawny color and nutty flavor of toasted sesame oil, followed by the slow afterburn of red curry paste. Pair the potatoes with Pinot Blanc, a balanced/refreshing wine that displays delicate fruit aromas and flavors of apple, citrus, pear, and/or melon along with good acidity.

2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into large, uniform-sized chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 cup regular or nonfat half-and-half
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil (Note: Be sure to use toasted or Asian, not regular, sesame oil in this recipe.)
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste

1. Place the potatoes and the garlic in a large saucepan, cover with cold water by one inch and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain well, then shake the potatoes over medium heat until they become mealy and dry.
2. Put the potatoes and garlic through a ricer (preferred method) or food mill, beat with an electric mixer, or mash with a potato masher or fork. Do not use a food processor or the potatoes will become gluey.
3. In a small bowl mix the half-and-half, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and red curry paste until smooth. While whipping the potatoes with a fork, add this liquid, then whip an additional 30 seconds until the potatoes are fluffy. Serve immediately, or spoon into a lightly oiled baking dish and keep warm in a low oven (200 to 250 degrees) until ready to serve.

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: Steelhead Fillets in Basil Rice Paper

August 31, 2014

Steelhead Fillets in Basil Rice Paper
Varietal: Gewürztraminer

Serves 4

Rice paper is an edible, transparent paper made from the pith of the rice-paper plant and water. This Vietnamese staple, often used as spring roll wrappers, has a plastic-like texture until soaked briefly in warm water, whereupon—like magic!—it becomes soft and pliable. When plump steelhead (or wild salmon) fillets embedded with fresh basil leaves are wrapped in softened rice paper, then cooked in a hot pan, the rice paper fuses to the surface of the fish and the basil leaves show through, like autumn leaves pressed between sheets of waxed paper. Pair the packets with an aromatic, slightly sweet wine, such as a Gewürztraminer, which often makes a good choice with salty and/or spicy Asian dishes. Pale to medium straw in color (sometimes with a pleasing rosy glow), “Gewürz” shows off aromas and flavors of apricot and peach, flowers (roses!), honey, and lychee backed up with spicy notes of cinnamon and cloves.

16 to 24 basil leaves, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
Four (6-ounce) steelhead or wild salmon fillets, skin and pin bones removed and discarded, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
4 pieces rice paper
1 tablespoon sesame oil (Note: Use regular, not toasted or Asian sesame oil, in this recipe.)
Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Recipe follows)

1. Place 2 or 3 basil leaves (depending on size) on the top and bottom of each of the fish fillets, pressing in the leaves to adhere to the surface of the fish. The leaves should not cover the fillets completely; there should still be fish flesh showing between and around the outer edges of the leaves.

2. Pour 1/4 inch of warm water onto a plate. Place 1 piece of rice paper in the water and allow to soak for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until pliable. Do not allow to soak too long or the rice paper will tear. Allow as much water as possible to drip off the rice paper and back onto the plate, then transfer the rice paper to a second plate.

3. Place a fish fillet in the center of the rice paper, fold two opposing ends of the rice paper to the middle of the fillet until they overlap, then repeat with the opposing ends. Turn the fillet over and place on another dry plate. Repeat this procedure with the remaining rice paper and fillets.

4. Over medium heat, place a nonstick skillet large enough to hold the fillets without crowding. When the pan is hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the fillets, decrease the heat to medium-low, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn the fish, being careful not to tear the rice paper, and finish cooking another 3 to 5 minutes. You will be able to see the steelhead change from translucent to opaque as it cooks. If unsure about doneness, check by carefully cutting into the middle of one of the packets with the tip of a small, sharp knife.

5. To serve, divide the steelhead packets among warmed dinner plates and drizzle with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Makes about 1/4 cup

1/4 cup Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc nam)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Thai chile, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Place all the ingredients in a small nonreactive bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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: 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: Northwest Seafood with Simple Soy Glaze

June 30, 2014

Northwest Wild Salmon

Northwest Seafood with Simple Soy Glaze

Varietal: Off-Dry Riesling

Makes 1/4 cup

I have read that most people cook the same eight basic recipes over and over again. If that’s the case at your house, I hope this recipe will become one of your eight favorites because it’s so delicious, easy to make, and versatile that you can use it on almost any fish or shellfish you choose. Suggested seafood partners with the glaze include salmon, halibut, swordfish, black cod (sablefish), sea scallops, or sustainable shrimp (peeled and deveined). Don’t forget to open a bottle of off-dry Riesling from a top-quality producer, such as Long Shadows, Pacific Rim, or Poet’s Leap, all from Washington State.

1 tablespoon light cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

11/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, soy sauce, honey, and mustard. Add the horseradish and blend thoroughly.

2. Lightly oil a broiling pan with a rack or spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray. Place fish fillets or steaks or shellfish on the rack and lightly brush the seafood with the glaze. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat source for 3 minutes, then brush the fillets again. If the seafood starts to brown too much, move the pan 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. After 3 minutes, brush once more, then continue broiling until the salmon reaches desired doneness.

Cook’s Hints: Now comes the really fun, creative part of this recipe. If you don’t like horseradish, you can substitute freshly grated ginger, Chinese five-spice powder, Japanese seven-spice seasoning (shichimi togarashi), or hot chili oil for an Asian flair, or Cajun blackening mix for a Southwest touch. Add the alternative seasonings a little at a time, until you reach the level of spiciness or hotness you prefer.

Simple Soy Glaze works well with vegetables, especially asparagus. To prepare fresh asparagus, snap the tough, “woody” white ends off each spear by holding the top half of an asparagus spear in one hand, the bottom half with the thumb and forefinger of your other hand. Bend the spear until it snaps. This will occur naturally where the tough and tender parts meet. Use the bottoms of the stalks to make asparagus stock for soup. Cook the remaining portion as desired. Or, for a more elegant preparation, using a clean, sharp vegetable peeler, peel down from about 2 inches from the ends of the asparagus. Peel all around, then cut off the very end with a small, sharp paring knife.

Fresh asparagus also makes a lovely summer salad when simply grilled with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook 8 to 12 minutes, or until just tender. Then transfer to salad plates, drizzle with good-quality balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts (or walnuts) and plumped dried cherries or cranberries.

To toast small quantities of nuts, heat them in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to turn light brown and/or give off their aroma (mustard seeds begin to pop), shaking the pan back and forth often so the ingredients do not burn. Remove from heat, cool, and add to your recipe, or grind as directed.

To plump dried fruits, add the fruits to a small saucepan and cover with water, stock, or liqueur (such as Madeira, Port, or cream-style Sherry). Bring to a boil, cover, and remove the pan from the heat. Allow to stand 10 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit is plumped.

To speed the plumping process, put 1/2 cup water into a microwave-safe glass dish. Add the fruit and microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat. When the fruit begins to plump, remove from the microwave and cover. Let rest for 5 minutes, drain water, and use the fruit as directed.

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 

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 

Recipe of the Month: Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette

April 30, 2014

Alaskan Wild Salmon northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Serves 4

This recipe from “Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining” was created by Kevin Davis, chef/owner of Steelhead Diner in Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market and Blueacre Seafood in downtown Seattle. It showcases two of the Northwest’s iconic ingredients: fresh, wild salmon and dried cherries and would be perfect to try with Copper River salmon, which begins its annual run in May. Pair it with another Northwest icon—Oregon Pinot Noir—which mirrors the lush berry, earthy, and smoky flavors in the dish. Some of my favorite Oregon Pinot Noir producers include reasonably priced versions such as Willamette Valley Vineyard’s amazing Whole Cluster Fermented Pinot Noir (which winery founder Jim Bernau characterizes as “Pinot Noir candy”) or luxury-priced Pinots from Domaine Serene and Archery Summit.

Macerated Cherries

1 cup dried cherries (Chukar brand preferred)

1 cup port or Madeira

Four 8-ounce Copper River King salmon or other wild salmon fillets (center cuts preferred)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled

Freshly grated zest of 1 orange

1 cup smoked almonds, lightly crushed (Blue Diamond brand preferred)

1. To prepare the Macerated Cherries, place the dried cherries in a heatproof nonreactive bowl. Bring the port to a boil and pour over the cherries. Cover with plastic wrap and steep for 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

2. Prepare a medium-low fire in a gas or charcoal grill. Brush the salmon with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the fillets on the grill skin side down away from direct heat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turn the fish, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more (for medium rare) or to the desired doneness.

3. While the fish is grilling, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter turns brown and gives off a nutty aroma. This is called beurre noisette in French, and translates as “brown butter.”

4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chopped rosemary, orange zest, almonds, and Macerated Cherries (drained and patted dry) in that order, pausing between each addition and stirring gently to allow each ingredient to render it essence into the butter. Be careful when adding the first two ingredients, as the butter may sizzle and pop. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Place the salmon fillets on 4 dinner plates, top with the brown butter, and serve immediately.

Cook’s Hint: Wild king or Chinook salmon has a very high fat content and will tend to flame up if cooked too fast. It’s always a good idea to have a water bottle handy, just in case. Don’t leave the grill unattended at any time throughout the cooking process. Also, Chef Kevin has an easy way to prevent overcooking your fish. Simply turn the grill off when the fish is slightly underdone; this allows the carryover heat to finish cooking the fish.

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.

Poached Halibut with Spicy Mashed Potatoes

March 30, 2014

Fisherman's Terminal boat

Poached Halibut with Spicy Mashed Potatoes

Wine Varietal: Pinot Blanc

Serves 4

Mashed potatoes are the quintessential simple, rustic food. I like to add Asian elements to my mashers, then top a heaping mound of spicy potatoes with a tender poached halibut fillet.

1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half, plus 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 teaspoon toaste d sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon Thai red curry paste

1/2 cup fat-free, 1/3-less-sodium chicken stock (See Cook’s Hint, below)

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 cup water

1 cup white wine

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

Steamed brussels sprouts, broccoli florets, or 1/4-inch-thick carrot rounds, optional

1. To make mashed potatoes, place the potatoes and the 2 cloves peeled and halved garlic in a saucepan and cover with several inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain well, then put the potatoes and garlic through a ricer, or mash with a fork.

2. In a small bowl mix the toasted sesame oil, red curry paste, chicken stock, and soy sauce until smooth. Add the liquid to the potatoes, mix well, cover, and keep warm.

3. To poach the fish, bring the water, wine, and crushed garlic to a boil in a skillet large enough to hold the fillets without crowding them. Remove the pan from the heat, add the halibut fillets, return the pan to the heat, reduce heat to low, partially cover (set the lid slightly askew so that steam can escape), and simmer 5 to 10 minutes, or until the fish just turns opaque. Do not allow the water to boil. Remove the fish fillets and place on several layers of paper towels to drain well.

4. To serve, scoop a mound of mashed potatoes in the center of individual plates and place a halibut fillet over the potatoes. If desired, arrange steamed vegetables in a circle around the mashed potatoes.

Cook’s Hint: If fat-free, 1/3-less-sodium chicken stock is unavailable, substitute defatted chicken stock and leave out the 2 teaspoons soy sauce.

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


Scandinavian Pasta

February 28, 2014

Scandinavian Pasta

Wine Varietal: Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio

Serves 4

I have been making this ultra-simple pasta dish for years to rave reviews from family and friends, and nobody ever guesses how easy it really is.

3/4 pound (12 ounces) conchiglie (seashell), rotini (spaghetti spirals), or farfalle (butterfly or bow-tie) pasta

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup fresh snipped dill, or 1 tablespoon dried dill, crumbled

2 packages (3 ounce each) cold-smoked salmon, such as Nova-style or lox, chopped

Dash freshly ground white pepper

1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain well, reserving the pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, dill, smoked salmon, and pepper and toss gently to blend. Add the reserved pasta and toss gently until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. If the pasta is dry, add the reserved pasta water bit by bit, stirring after each addition, until the desired consistency is reached. Taste and add additional pepper, if desired.

3. To serve, place the pasta on a large serving platter or divide among individual bowls and serve immediately.


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