Thursday, December 20, 2012

End of the World Last Supper

If we are embracing the Mayan Calendar, then tomorrow is the #EndoftheWorld as we know it! 
What would your last supper be?

I would have to have my last Nova Lox on a bagel made by Andrew Meltzer. No other bagel has come close to his in my mind.  There should also be some caviar on this bagel just because there are no limits today.  And when we say a Shmear, lay it on thick today please, I'm not worried about my waistline tomorrow!

Now that breakfast course is over I'm having cracked Crab, Dungeness of course, with a perfect avocado sliced in a fan and drizzled with a toasted cumin lime vinaigrette & fresh mint.

I am a Sushi whore and would eat it 6 days a week if the budget allowed!
Uni & Unagi MUST be part of this meal.
And since the world is ending anyway, I would have Hamachi Collar, despite how unsustainable it is.
While I'm eating out of the sea, I'll take some cold smoked black cod riellette with capers, preserved lemon and tarragon on crispy rye toast.

No life would have been worth living without a plate of duck, let's have it 3 ways since it's the last night on earth:
crispy duck confit, thigh for me please, some smoked cured duck breast with a grilled peach and let's have some seared liver & onions with Marsala on that plate too, cause everything is better in 3's!

Let's not stop at duck liver, this is the last meal we will be eating after all!
Foie gras & slow roasted muscat grapes with a glass of sauterne would put a smile on my soul for sure!

Roasted poached pears, Almond frangipagne with a bourbon spiked Caramel sauce and a great PX sherry or aged rum would finish me of and send me into the nether world with a smile on my face!

But wait, there is more... a cheese course of all cheese courses to end this last meal on earth....stinky, ripe glorious cheeses of all kinds with fresh figs and dried cherry mostarda and hazelnut loaf to carry it all into my bursting belly

Most important message here; make the most of TODAY, and everyday for that never know when it will be your last!
And let' the petty stuff slide right off ya, life is WAY too short to let it contaminate joy!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Favorite Holiday Cookies

Yield 6 dozen 1” cookies

¼ #         Butter
1#           Chocolate (use a good quality block bitter of semisweet)
1 cup      Sugar
4 ea        Eggs
2tsp        Vanilla Extract
3 cups    All Purpose Flour (use 2 ½ cups for a flat spreading cookie)
½ tsp      Salt
1 tsp       Baking Powder

Melt butter and chocolate together and let cool
Mix eggs and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy, add extract and incorporate.
Add chocolate mixture to sugar and egg mixture and mix well
Mix flour with baking powder, salt and if you are adding flavors like cayenne or espresso powder, mix into flour first
Now mix flour into the chocolate egg mixture and chill for an hour to set batter.

With a small cookie scooper scoop dough into balls and roll well in powder sugar. Be sure they are well coated with powder sugar!
Bake on parchment for 5 minutes at 350 degrees
Let stand a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack. 

Flavor combinations:
 Replace vanilla with Orange Extract and add cinnamon to the powder sugar
Replace vanilla with Almond Extract and add cardamom to the powder sugar
Add Cayenne to the base and cinnamon in the powder sugar to make a Mole cookie
Mint Extract for a cool, rich and refreshing variation
Espresso powder in the base for a mocha variation
Any flavor you like with chocolate will work well here, let your creative juices flow!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Crave Food: Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cake for the October dessert table

Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cheesecake

1½ cups hazelnuts
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
3 Tbsp. sugar
Toast hazelnuts in oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cool slightly and rub off skins. Pulse nuts in food processor until coarse. Or, take cooked crisp crust or granola, pulse it in a food mill to crumb texture
Add sugar and process until nuts are finely chopped, but not greasy.
Combine with butter and pat into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool before filling.

Filling: (Do a half batch for tarts.)
1 lb. cream cheese, room temp
1 lb. goat cheese, room temp
6 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups sugar
½ cup molasses
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cardamom
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of Salt

Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and spices
Beat cheeses until smooth. Gradually add sugar mixture, scraping down sides of bowl.
Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well.
Beat in pumpkin just until blended. Pour into crust lined pan.
Place a pan of water in bottom of oven. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 30 minutes.
Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack. Cover the pan and rack with a large bowl or pot, so that the cake cools slowly.
Cool completely then chill before serving.

**A nice trick is to reserve some of the cheese mixture before you have added the pumpkin, and create a marbleized pattern on top of tart before baking.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Cooking Series at PCC

Check out this page to read about and sign up for my Fall Cooking Series, starting in October!

Thanks to Paula Thomas for this image taken in my Ceramic/Cooking class at Pottery Northwest: Flavor, Form & Function; The Art of Food Presentation

Harvest Dinner at Milbrandt Winery

Saturday, October 6th in Prosser, Washington at the Milbrandt Winery.

 Menu as Follows 
(subject to change with availability of ingredients)

Parsnip and Pear bisque, Crispy Shallots,  Arugula Emulsion
Traditions Riesling

Socca Crepe, Shaved Apple Herb Salad, Fennel Pollen Yogurt
The Estates Ancient Lakes Riesling

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella, Melon, Purple Shiso, Feta, Saba
The Estates Evergreen Chardonnay

Chili and Cumin rubbed Pork Tenderloin
Green Chili Bread Pudding
Grilled Nectarines
Sarsaparilla Gastrique

Pistachio Financiers, Grilled Figs, Mascarpone Cardamom Anglaise
The Estates Ice Riesling & Vineyard Series Mosaic

Love to play with your hands?

Consider taking my Ceramic/Cooking class that will explore Flavor Form & Function: The Art of Food Presentation Wednesdays from 6-9 pm beginning October 3 to December 5th

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pasta Fazool

This is one of those delicious soups that gets better while it sits overnight in your fridge.
All the flavors and the herbs bloom into the broth beautifully.

Now understand that all things are not exact. That is exactly what makes it such a wonderful dish.
Make it your own with your own preferences of flavors. LOVE Garlic, then add a bit more! LOVE rosemary, then adjust it accordingly. I would taste this dish as i made it to get the flavors to where i wanted them, if its not quite right another pinch of salt, grinding of black pepper, bit more fresh thyme and a squeeze of a lemon always got me there...oh, and most importantly, i finished it with dollop of butter...but don't tell the Italians that! 

When I got an order I started by sautéing bacon in a dab of butter, then added the escarole and a pinch of garlic, then added in some fresh thyme and rosemary, sautéed a bit then added chicken stock to the vegetable base we had sautéed the day before....then I add pasta and the white beans that has already been cooked. Once it was hot I then finished with a tad of butter. Of course salt and pepper is added through out the process and adjusted at then could simplified this by cooking it all at once, we wanted to have the options open for the vegetarian & vegans........if you want to pick my brain more on the nuances feel free...i was very organic about how this was made.

let's attempt to give you a real recipe here:

1 cup diced Bacon - we used Hemplers (
2 cups Yellow Onion julienned
1 cup Fennel Bulb julienned
1 cup Celery julienned
1 1/2 cup Carrot julienned
1 T Fresh Garlic minced
2 t. Fresh Thyme minced fine
2 t. Fresh Rosemary minced fine
S & P

Lemon juice
1 head of Escarole Chopped - this cooks down considerably
2-3 cups Cannellini or white beans cooked or if canned, rinsed and drained
Cooked Pasta shells
3 qts. Broth (Chicken or Veg depending on your eating habits)
Parmesan Reggiano

Now here is where it will be different depending on how you eat.
If i was making this at home i would start by sautéing the bacon in the pan before the onions to release all that yummy salty fat!

When the bacon looks about 1/2 cooked add your onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium low...then add everything else up to the lemon juice. I love to sauté my herbs in the hot fat as it releases their essential oils and it makes the whole house smell amazing….as if the bacon and onions had not already done that!

Go ahead and sauté just until you feel the garlic has been cooked enough, but do not brown it!
Then add your broth and make sure you scrape the bottom of the pot to release any bits of fond!
Now we would just bring it to a boil and then remove the veggies from the broth to cool so they did not become mushy. Once the veggies and liquid were cooled we married it back to the broth and let rest in fridge over night. I looked for translucency in the celery and a little tooth left on my carrot because we always cooked this dish again to order. This way we could preserve those wonderful textures and ensure the pasta did not turn to mush. I also never did the bacon step until it was ordered so that we could keep it veg/vegan depending on the customer.

If you are going to serve it right away then add your escarole towards the end, again, i love my textures. If you prefer it softer then add it with your broth or just before and sauté it with the other vegetable. 

Add the cooked pasta and beans at the end and more broth if necessary. I liked it loose but not too brothy... like the ratio you get with a bowl of Pho.

I LOVE butter, i use it interchangeably with oil when i am not doing things in smoking hot pans. I admit, this dish had some lovely butter as one of its flavor profiles!

FINALLY, finish your soup with a dollop of butter and garnish with FRESH Parmesan Reggiano. It makes a difference, really! Use the good stuff here please! I learned how to make a variation of this at my first restaurant job in a little place called Georgina’s Italian Kitchen on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Sadly it’s not there any more, but thank you Tony for taking that chance on me and hiring a green cook! : )