Very Versatile Bread Crumbs

November 15, 2008

I recently had the pleasure of working with, then testing, one of Walter Pisano’s recipes for an upcoming article in The Seattle Times Sunday magazine, Pacific Northwest. The article discusses Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian feast served on Christmas Eve. Walter is the chef/owner of Tulio Ristorante in downtown Seattle, a place we frequent for its warm and inviting ambience and Walter’s divine Italian home-style cooking with a twist. Not to mention Christmas Eve, when he serves several of the Feast dishes in addition to his regular menu.

Here’s a photo of his Vongole Ripieni–Baked Stuffed Clams with Toasted Parmesan Bread Crumbs–truly one of the best bites I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Baked Stuffed Clams with Toasted Parmesan Bread Crumbs are on the Christmas Eve menu at Tulio Ristorante.

And here’s what I did with some leftover clams, clam broth, and buttery bread crumbs, which combined perfectly with whole-wheat pasta and a handful of Alaskan spot prawns.

A pasta dish inspired by Tulio\'s Baked Stuffed Clams.

Look for my article on Feast of the Seven Fishes and Walter’s stuffed clams recipe in Pacific Northwest magazine on Sunday, December 21. 


Blue, Blue Hawaii

November 13, 2008

At the end of October, we spent nine blissful days in Hawaii to attend the Les Dames d’Escoffier annual conference and a few days of r&r. Here I am enjoying my very first Mai Tai of our vacation at the House Without a Key lounge at the host hotel, the Halekulani, on the beach at Waikiki.

Braiden\'s first Mai Tai on the beach in Waikiki.

Our lunch included a delicious Ahi Tuna Sandwich:

Eating on the beach at Waikiki included an Ahi Tuna Sandwich.

And a Cobb Salad, complete with blanched edamami (boiled soy beans), green beans, and crab salad. 


Cobb Salad takes a decided Hawaiian twist thanks to crab and edamame (boiled soy beans).

Not to be outdone, here’s the Coconut Cake we had for dessert:

The House Without a Key Coconut Cake at the Halekulani Hotel along Waikiki Beach.


My Way with Flowers

November 11, 2008

Some people like to say that I have a way with words. But if I hadn’t gone into food-and-wine writing, I might just as easily have gone into flower designing. There’s something so creative about buying a big bunch of blossoms from John & Lita’s Produce & Flowers, my favorite flower farmer in the Pike Place Market (in the spring/summer), or Corner Flowers (at other times), coming home and perusing my vase collection, and figuring out the “perfect” seasonal bouquet.

Here are a couple of my creations, which are always placed atop a glass etagère that is lighted from below. 

An Asian aesthetique comes out in this flower arrangement designed by Braiden.

And here’s another:

Braiden\'s simple flower arrangement of Stargazer Lilies from the Pike Place Market.

And here’s a memory from late-summer, made from John & Lita’s Teddy Bear Sunflowers:

Big, bouncing beauties from John & Lita\'s Produce & Flowers in the Pike Place Market.



Something’s Poppin’ on Pike Street

November 9, 2008

On Friday, November 7,  KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn, Seattle’s first and only gourmet popcorn shop, opened for business in the historic Kress Building at 215 Pike Street in downtown Seattle. Owned and operated by Popcorn Chef Robert Hicks and George Marema, KuKuRuZa showcases a classic soda-shop theme, with fresh popcorn prepared in the open kitchen throughout the day, upbeat 1920s music, and old-fashioned sodas and treats.

Made in small batches with top-notch ingredients such as real creamery butter and the finest chocolate, KuKuRuZa Popcorn boasts more than 25 flavors and is available in a variety of creatively themed packaging. With flavors such as Triple Nut Caramel, Cinnamon Red Hot, and Burgundy Cheddar Cheese, there’s a flavor to savor for every popcorn lover’s palate.

Take the Pledge to Eat Locally This Thanksgiving

November 7, 2008

Make a pledge to eat locally this Thanksgiving.

Today in the Pike Place Market at First and Pike, from 10 a.m. until noon, join King County Executive Ron Sims and local farmers to help kick-off Eat Local for Thanksgiving. It’s followed by a cooking demonstration by Chef Eric Tanaka of Tom Douglas Restaurants.

Take the Eat Local for Thanksgiving pledge to include at least one locally grown or raised food on your holiday table. You’ll be supporting local farms, you’ll be eating better, and you’ll be entered to win a locally raised turkey or organic milk for a year! You can also pledge online to include one locally produced food on your Thanksgiving table, and chart the CO2 savings, thanks to the good folks at Puget Sound Fresh. 


Winemaker Dinner for $65

November 5, 2008

You know that within Northwest Notes we’ve often waxed poetic about Chef Eric Donnelly’s creative takes on seafood at the Oceanaire Seafood Room in downtown Seattle. Here’s a photo from a sumptuous halibut-themed dinner earlier this year.

A sumptuous halibut appetizer at a springtime dinner in the venerable fish\'s honor.

In response to a slowing economy, Chef Donnelly and company will present their second $65 five-course wine dinner on November 7.  This time, Eric’s food (from Northwest oysters with spiced apples to braised Kurabota pork shank) will be paired with selections from Erath Vineyards, one of Oregon’s pioneer wineries.  Founder Dick Erath planted his first vines in 1969 and released his first vintage in 1972.  Since then, Erath has been known for its fantastic Pinot Noir as well as for its Riesling and Dry Gewürztraminer. Sadly, Dick passed on last month far too young–at the age of 69–but his legacy will live on, and glasses will undoubtedly be raised, at the dinner.    

From the press release come dinner details and the full menu below. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at (206) 267-BASS.

 What: Five-course Erath Estates wine dinner for $65 (price does not include tax or gratuity)

 Where: The Oceanaire Seafood Room, 1700 7th Ave # 100, Seattle, WA, 98101

 When: Friday, November 7 at 6:30 p.m.


1st course: Northwest oysters with spiced apple granite

Wine: Pinot Blanc, Erath, Willamette Valley ‘06

 2nd course: Duck Confit salad with mizuna and huckleberry vinaigrette

Wine: Pinot Noir, Erath, Estate Selection, Dundee Hills ‘05

 3rd course: Peppercorn-crusted Tombo Tuna crudo with cranberry gastrique

Wine: Pinot Noir, Erath, Leland Vineyard, Wilamette Valley ‘05

 4th course: Braised Kurabota Pork shank with collard greens and Matsutake mushrooms

Wine: Pinot Noir, Erath, Hill Vineyard, Dundee Hills ‘05

 Dessert: Riesling Poached Japanese Pear and Hard Spice Ricotta

Wine: Late-harvest selection to be determined

Eggnog and Fois Gras

November 3, 2008

The monthly e-newsletter of the venerable James Beard Foundation included the following informative food note on “eggnog.” The blurb was particularly interesting thanks to the dish–foie gras frothed with eggnog foam–that chef Pascal Chureau, of Portland’s Lucier restaurant, will serve this evening at the Beard House during his “Northwest Passage to Modern Europe” dinner. View the complete menu here.  

Lait de Poule

WHAT? Which came first: the chicken or the eggnog? Although lait de poule translates, unappetizingly, as “chicken milk,” it’s actually the French name for eggnog, that seemingly harmless beverage that has been known to lure many naïve merrymakers into making fools of themselves at office holiday parties. Though eggnog is said to owe its heritage to posset, an English drink popular among early American colonists, food writer Robert Sietsema points out that the “aggressively luxurious” egg-and-cream-filled drink is infinitely more French in character and may in fact be an American version of an 18th-century French recipe. This month at the Beard House, Pascal Chureau of Lucier in Portland, Oregon, validates this theory by serving a froth of lait de poule with the ultimate French dish, foie gras.

Support Our Market and Vote for Proposition No. 1!

November 1, 2008

I rarely get political, but when it comes to the Pike Place Market, I gladly make an exception. On Tuesday, I urge you to vote for City of Seattle Proposition No. 1 in support of a six-year levy promising $73 million for much-needed and long-overdue improvements to the Market’s crumbling infrastructure, heating and cooling systems, and additional public restrooms. 

Puget sound as seen from the patio alongside Place Pigalle.

As long-time Market News “Passages” columnist Paul Dunn recently pointed out, “With this levy the Market needs to reaffirm the guidelines to preservation that brought it from Mayor Dorm Braman’s ‘somnolent fire trap’ to Washington State’s #1 tourist attraction and now a vibrant and successful business and residential location. This election is as important as the 1971 Initiative to Save the Market, which opened the money gates to rehabilitation and renovation in the 1970s.”

For more information, or to volunteer or make a donation, please visit Citizens for Pike Place Market

But most importantly, VOTE! 

Lamb Loin Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Butter Beans

November 1, 2008

Wine bottles at Sawtooth Winery in the Snake River Valley in Idaho.

Lamb Loin Stew with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Butter Beans

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon

Serves 4

Mike Neuffer, a successful third-generation homebuilder from Reno, Nevada, who’s had a lifelong passion for wine and describes himself as” a part-time cellar rat,” just felt like he was home when he first discovered the Walla Walla Valley in 2000. He bought the  parcel of land that would become Nicholas Cole Cellars in 2001, planted estate grapes, and waited for his first harvest in 2005. Meanwhile, assisted by mentor and friend Chris Camarda of Andrew Will Winery fame, the two used grapes from some of the best vineyards in the state to craft carefully blended, Bordeaux-style red wines.

Today, he makes award-winning wines under both the Nicholas Cole and GraEagle labels. The winemaker’s lamb stew—a toothsome, Mediterranean-leaning concoction of lamb, sun-dried tomatoes, and buttery-big beans—is one he has served at all of his Holiday Barrel Taste Weekends, although “stew” may be a bit of a misnomer, since it’s a refreshingly quick-cooking dish. Mike reports, “It has garnered rave reviews from my customers, some of whom have threatened bodily injury if I refuse to share the recipe with them. The second year I had it printed up and available upon request.” Serve with a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon and feel your body warm and spirits rise against the winter gloom.

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped yellow onion

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 pound boneless lamb loin, trimmed and cut into 1/3-inch strips

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning

10 sun-dried tomato halves packed in oil, drained and cut into thin strips (San Remo brand recommended)

1/2 cup chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, stacked and rolled like a cigar and cut into thin strips

1 15-ounce can butter beans, rinsed and drained

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until softened but not browned, 1 minute.

2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the lamb and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook until browned on the outside but still pink within, 1 to 2 minutes per side. 

3. Add two-thirds of the sun-dried tomatoes, the stock, and one-half of the basil and stir well. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

4. Add the beans, remaining sun-dried tomatoes, and remaining basil and stir well. Cook until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Ladle the stew into 4 bowls, garnish with the fresh basil leaves, and serve.

Cook’s Hint: Mike suggests that rabbit, duck, beef, or venison can be substituted for the lamb in this dish; chicken and pork are too bland. Homemade lamb stock or store-bought veal demi-glace also work well in place of the chicken broth. The dish is wonderful to serve company when accompanied by crusty artisan bread and a simple green salad. To extend the stew to serve more than four people, serve it over egg noodles, plain rice, or couscous (in keeping with the Mediterranean flavors), or accompanied by new potatoes roasted with olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary.

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.

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