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.

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: 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 

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.


Seattle Wine and Food Experience February 23

February 10, 2014

Wine Glasses

Buy your tickets today for  the city’s premier food and wine event, the Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE)!

SWFE is back for its sixth year on Sunday, February 23, 2014. VIP tickets are sold out; general admission tickets cost $55 per person and allow entry from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Throughout this unique gastronomical event guests will learn about and taste a wide offering of quality products through “experiences” and event features.

According to my friend and fellow Seattle Dame Jamie Peha, president of Peha Promotions, TableTalk Northwest, and producer of SWFE, “What makes Seattle Wine and Food Experience unique in the marketplace are the ‘experiences’ that guests encounter. Guests have the opportunity to educate themselves about beverage and culinary products from the Northwest and beyond, talk to producers, and taste samples from a variety regions and growing industries.”

Another feature that makes the sixth SWFE unique is that the event’s charity beneficiary is Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter. According to a press release:

This year’s beneficiary, Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, brings together it’s talented membership for a special experience at SWFE. Get a taste of the beverages, food, and specialty products from talented members of Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle including Thoa Nguyen/Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill, Maria Coassin/Gelatiamo, Lisa Nakamura/Gnocchi Bar, Nancy Donier/Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering, Leslie Mackie/Macrina Bakery, Susan Neel/McCrea Cellars, and Susan Kaufman/Serafina Osteria & Enoteca.

Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle raises funds for scholarships for women in the culinary, beverage, and hospitality industries, and also supports community-outreach programs and sustainable-agriculture projects based in Washington state.

Other Dames participating in SWFE include Rose Ann Finkel/Pike Brewing Co. and Holly Smith/Cafe Juanita.

Other featured “Experiences” to date at the 2014 event include:

*Featured Wine Region: Woodinville Wine Country – Taste wine from Washington’s up-and-coming destination wine region with more than 30 of Woodinville’s wineries (and all of Washington’s AVAs) including Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Winery, Lauren Ashton Cellars, Patterson Cellars, and many more.

*The QFC Advantage Lounge – In this lounge environment complete with leather sofas, guests will enjoy bites from Murray’s Cheese, Boar’s Head Meats, and Simple Truth Crackers and sips of luxury wine brands including Chateau Ste. Michelle Single Vineyard Designates, Spring Valley Vineyard, Col Solare, and Northstar Winery. You know it’s going to be good!

*Northwest, California, and International Wines – Get tastes of wine regions from the Northwest and beyond with sips from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, and international wineries (including Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, and Portugal). With more than 800 wines available to try from the world’s top producers, your palate is in for quite a tour.

*SIP Northwest Distillery Row – Take a run at Sip Northwest Distillery Row featuring many of the region’s hottest craft spirits makers as well as global brands. Sip through their latest creations and learn how grains and botanicals become whiskey, vodka, and gin.

*Tim’s Cascade Snacks Beer and Cider Exhibit – Local favorite Tim’s Cascade Snacks will be serving up its famous salty chips and popcorn that pair great with regional ciders and brews. Discover the new developments in the world of these craft beverages.

*Les Dames d’Escoffier Alley –See above.

*Washington Beef Butcher Block – Washington Beef presents a unique opportunity to “Crave, Cut, & Create” your way to a perfect beef meal. Experience and savor beef’s flavor when prepared with care and paired with complimentary flavor profiles in dishes from Andaluca, bin on the lake, BOKA Restaurant + Bar, and The Georgian.

*Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar – Grab a sweet treat at the event and revive your palate, with a stop at the Top Pot Doughnut and Coffee Bar. Try a hand-forged doughnut and cup of Top Pot Coffee. For an added bonus, grab a sample cocktail from Sun Liquor Distillery.

*Chef Prepared Gourmet Bites – Guests can savor the incredible creations from more 25 of Seattle’s most accomplished chefs representing a global range of cuisines. Featured restaurants include Andaluca, Anthony’s Pier 66 & Bell Street Diner, bin on the lake, BOKA Restaurant + Bar, The Capital Grille, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Chinoise Sushi Bar & Asian Grill, Dirty Oscar’s Annex, Far-Eats, The Georgian, Gnocchi Bar, Gracie’s/Hotel Deluxe, The Hollywood Tavern, The Hunt Club, Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering, La Bodega, Macrina Bakery, Miyabi 45th, Purple Café & Wine Bar, Racha Thai, Ray’s Boathouse, Serafina Osteria & Enoteca, Tai Foong USA, Tilikum Place Café, Trellis Restaurant, and Volterra.

*Chef in the Vineyard with Ste. Michelle Wine Estates – Meet Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Culinary Director John Sarich, sample creative bites and taste through a wonderful selection of Washington’s best wines from 14 Hands, Anew, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest, Michelle, and O Wines. Seek out their displays in local QFCs for a special ticket discount.

*Event Feature: Stella Artois – With more than 600 years of Belgium brewing experience, Stella Artois is best known for its detailed method for pulling a pint and their “special” Stella Artois chalice. Enjoy a sip of Stella Artois and its other world-class brands including Cidre, Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Leffe Brun, and Leffe Blond.

*Northwest Travel Magazine – Test your palate with a blind comparative tasting of the same varietal from different AVAs. Northwest Travel contributor Cole Danehower will be hosting this fun and interactive experience.

Tickets for this year’s event are on sale here. General Admission tickets are $55. New this year is an optional VIP ticket is available to guests for $65 and includes one hour early entry, custom event tote bag, wine glass and tasting plate, plus an opportunity to win a variety of prizes including a wine trip weekend for two to Woodinville Wine Country, tickets to July’s Wine Rocks event, and more. Ticket prices include access to all areas of the event. No one under 21 will be admitted and ID is required.

So please plan to attend the sixth-annual Seattle Wine and Food Experience. . .good not only for you but for the good of Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter.


Recipe of the Month: Crab Veneto

January 31, 2014

Elliott's oyster house spicy-crab nwwd northwest wining and dining downtown seattle website link

Crab Veneto

Wine Varietal: Lemberger, Gamay, Beaujolais

Serves 2 as an appetizer; 1 as an entrée

On Pier 56 on the Seattle Waterfront, Elliott’s Oyster House offers what many consider the definitive Dungeness crab service in town. Elliott’s starts by cooking the live crabs immediately in small batches to preserve the quality of the meat. Once cooked, the crabs are quickly chilled. Each crab is then cleaned and cracked to order for easy eating. Then you can choose to eat your crab in three different ways—steamed, chilled, or marinated. An extra-large crab bib, cocktail fork, shell bowl, a hot towel and plenty of paper towels, a finger bowl brimming with a mixture of hot tea and lemon water, and a crushed cracker hand wash make cleaning up after the messy job of eating Dungeness crab much more enjoyable. If you can’t make it to Elliott’s, try the recipe below, which was given to me years ago by (then) Elliott’s executive chef Andrew Juhl. It is easy, tasty, and would make the perfect appetizer to share with your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. . .or any time of the year.

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 drops Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon minced parsley

1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, pure olive oil

1 precooked, chilled, Dungeness crab, cracked into pieces suitable for picking (see Cook’s Hint, below)

1. In a large, deep bowl mix together the garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and olive oil.

2. Add the crab pieces and toss gently. Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Hint: To prepare a whole, cooked Dungeness crab for picking, hold the crab with one hand from underneath and, with the other hand, pry off the large top shell. Scoop out and save the cream-colored “crab butter,” if desired. Run your thumb along the sides of the body cavity to scrape away the feathery gills. Rinse under cold water to remove any remaining viscera.

Grasp the crab in both hands and break the body in half lengthwise, forming two sections with the legs attached. Remove the legs by breaking off at the joints closest to the body. Separate the claw portion from the leg at the first joint. Bend back and remove the smaller claw pincer, along with the attached claw cartilage. Crack the claw with an aluminum crab cracker, the back of a heavy kitchen knife, or a mallet, being careful not to crush the meat. Repeat with the second claw.

With kitchen shears, cut along each side of the leg shells, or simply crack carefully to open. With the palm of your hand, press the top of the crab body until you feel the interior shells give slightly. Do not press so hard that you smash the top and bottom shells together. Alternatively, ask your favorite fishmonger to prepare your crab for picking, as described above.

You are now ready to eat your crab. Remove the meat from the legs, claws, and body of the crab using your fingers, a crab pick, a seafood fork, or a crab “toe” (the tip of a crab claw)—anything is legal when eating Dungeness crab.

Photo Courtesy of Elliott’s Oyster House. 
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.


Recipe of the Month: Seafood Chili

December 30, 2013

Dungeness Crab photo

Seafood Chili

Wine Varietal: Merlot

Serves 4

My late mother was a sweet, quirky woman with deep Southern United States roots (Georgia and Florida). Among her many idiosyncrasies, she was very superstitious. She claimed that on New Year’s Eve, everyone should eat black-eyed peas in order to ensure making lots of money in the New Year. Since I don’t particularly like black-eyed peas, I try to at least eat a few kidney or black beans on New Year’s, and have prepared this recipe many times in honor of Mom. You can use any firm, fleshy whitefish (even leftover whitefish fillet chunks will do), but I especially like halibut or lingcod. For one particularly decadent New Year’s Eve supper, I made the chili with Dungeness crab, Alaskan spot prawns, and sea scallops with great success. For those people (like me) who don’t eat pork, rest assured that although the bacon gives the chili a musky undertone and an added bit of texture, the recipe works equally as well without it.

3 slices bacon, plus reserved bacon grease or 1 1/2 tab lespoons vegetable oil

2 large onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or well-drained canned tomatoes, plus additional for garnish

1 1/2 teaspoons ground chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

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

1 (7-ounce) can whole mild green chiles, drained and chopped, or 2 (4-ounce) cans diced mild green chiles, drained

3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 to 1 1/4 cups dry red wine or water

1/2 pound uncooked or cooked halibut, or other firm, fleshy whitefish fillets, skin and bones removed, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (15-1/4 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed, and drained again

Sour cream, for garnish

Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Place the bacon slices on a paper towel to drain and pour 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon grease (or the vegetable oil) into a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic and cook over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, mild green chiles, and Tabasco and stir well. Add 1 cup of the red wine, bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer for 35 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes too dry, add more red wine 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each addition.

3. After the mixture has simmered for 35 minutes, crumble the bacon and add to the chili. If using uncooked fish, add to the chili and stir gently to mix. Cook just until the fish is transluce nt, about 5 to 7 minutes. If using cooked fish, cook the bacon an additional 5 minutes after adding it, then add the fish and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until the fish is warmed through.

4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and sauté the kidney beans until warmed through, about 3 minutes.

5. When the fish is cooked or warmed through, divide the chili among individual plates and place a spoonful of sautéed beans beside it. Top with a dollop of sour cream, and sprinkle with additional chopped tomatoes and parsley.

Cook’s Hint: Unlike many chilis that are soup-like, this rendition is thick and chunky, which is the reason I suggest serving it on a plate rather than in a soup bowl. With the sautéed kidney beans on one side and the seafood chili on the other, the dish makes a beautiful presentation.

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.



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