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Araya’s Place – Madison Valley



House Specialty


I’m definitely a carnivore, although I regularly make and eat many, non-meat meals.  I still hesitate, however, going to vegetarian restaurants.  Mostly because I’ve had a few bad experiences. And I like the option of meat. So I had a little trepidation when friends suggested dinner at a new, vegetarian*, Thai restaurant, Araya’s Place, in Madison Valley.  But I had nothing to worry about.


HOT Soup


Housed where Rover’s, Thierry Rateaureau’s French, (very!) fine-dining location, was until it closed earlier this year, this is the second Araya’s Place in Seattle.  There’s a third location in Los Angeles.




Walking into the restaurant was like having one of those dreams where everything seems familiar yet you know you’ve never been to the place before.  You can still see the bones, the structure of Rover’s, but the space has been completely opened up; there’s not a tablecloth in sight; plush curtains and wall hangings are gone; and what was cozy and refined is now bright and relaxed.  It’s a pleasant space and I appreciated the bare windows letting the last of the day’s light into the space.


Pumpkin Curry


We shared a selection of items and it was all delicious. My worries were totally unfounded.  Lots of lemongrass, Kafir lime leaves, Thai basil and other Thai flavors perfumed our meal; each dish was an exotic delight.  Portions were generous – I was the lucky recipient of all our leftovers – three of us could not finish two appetizers, a soup, and two entrees.


Put da lime in da coconut...


It’s nice to see Rover’s revived as another great Madison Valley dining option.

*Araya’s also has a number of vegan dishes.

Araya’s Place
2808 E Madison St.
Madison Valley

Araya's Vegetarian Place on Urbanspoon

Araya’s Place
5240 University Way NE
University District

Araya's Vegetarian Place on Urbanspoon

Soup Season



It's the most wonderful time of the year....


The sun is rising later and setting earlier. Warm days give way to cool, sometimes even chilly, evenings. My big Japanese maple tree is turning color. Already. Technically, autumn begins on September 23rd this year but my brain and body are already making the change.

The last post, Spicy Corn Soup, was a summer soup. Today I’m thinking of soups that warm you from the inside out. Heartier soups. The photo below is a chicken pasta soup I made a week or so ago when we had gray day. It’s one of those “look-in-the-fridge” soups. As long as I have an onion, a couple of carrots and some sort of stock or broth I can pull a soup together by adding odds and ends from the pantry and fridge.


Chicken Pasta Soup


But this post isn’t really about a recipe. (If you are looking for a recipe there are several here on the blog.) Lately I’ve been thinking about a Soup Swap I hosted a few years ago.  It was a lot of fun and I meant to host another the next year.  Well, somehow……. it’s now been over three years since that first swap!  Funny how that happens.  So I’m determined to do another this year.  I’m going to change a few things based on what I learned the first time around but the basics will remain the same.

I encourage you to think about hosting your own soup swap – that’s really what I wanted to say!  The holidays will be here before you know it, so you may want to plan something for late October or early November.  Or, maybe better, start thinking about a January event.  After the holidays are over it’s a little bit quiet.  Perfect timing for connecting with friends in a more relaxed way.

Spicy Corn Soup



Spicy Corn Soup


As we move from summer to fall, gardens and farmers’ markets are filled with so many options.  There’s still some stone fruit available, but we’re also seeing apples and pears.  Tomatoes are in full swing. Cucumbers are starting to wane, but eggplants are bountiful; and squash and pumpkin are coming into their own.  One of my very favorites, sweet corn, is everywhere.

A place I always visit when in Prosser, Washington is Wine O’Clock.  I’ve had the pleasure of dining there a few times and highly recommend it.  A couple of years ago a friend and I had lunch there and had the most delicious, fresh-off-the-cob, corny, corn soup!  I still think about it.  I searched my cookbooks and online for a recipe that resembled the soup of my memory, to no avail.  But I did find this interesting recipe from one of Bobby Flay’s shows on Food Network.  I recently made this for a dinner with friends where I was assigned the appetizer.  I served small bowls of soup along with a couple of tiny, savory scones.  The scones are based on Ina Garten’s Cheddar-Dill Scone recipe. It is one of my go-to recipes; it never fails and people love it!  I made one-half recipe; substituted a mix of chives and thyme for the dill; then used small 1½” – 1¾” round, square and triangle cutters to make tiny 2-bite scones.

I made a few changes to the soup recipe, too.  I think the amount of chipotle in the original recipe was incorrect, although Bobby is known for heat in his food.  My advice is to start with the 1 tsp I used and if you think the recipe needs more after you’ve added the cream then add a little more but I would not start with the 1 tablespoon in his recipe.  The generous teaspoon added a nice little burn without being too hot.  To allow the soup to really highlight the corn, I halved the amount of cream.  Finally, I made the pepper sauce as they suggested but it was more pink than red.  There wasn’t enough contrast with the color of the soup.  So I’ve changed the recipe below to what I would try next time, hoping that by reducing the cream-to-pepper ratio I’d get a nice bright red color. In the photo above I’ve added some of the pepper sauce but stirred it into the soup.

I really liked this soup!  Serve it warmed, but not piping hot.
Read more…

Repurposing Deliciousness


Steamed Mussels in Thai Basil Coconut Broth

This post is an idea, more than a recipe.  You might remember the photo from the Thai Mussels post I wrote a few weeks ago.  In that post I mentioned how delicious the broth is.  And it is!  When all was said and done I had quite a bit leftover.  It suddenly occurred to me that I could use it another way.  The next day I made risotto using the leftover broth.  I adjusted the risotto recipe for the amount of broth that was left.  It was so good!

Last weekend, friends and I had a big seafood feast on Saturday night.  My contribution was a riff on a traditional steamed clams dish.  There was both broth and a few clams remaining at the end of the evening.  I pulled the clams from their shells, strained the broth and brought them all home.  A couple of days later I made risotto with the broth and just before serving added the clams, too.  Again, delicious!

I have no idea why I haven’t done this before but you can bet I’ll be doing a lot of it in the future. If risotto is not your thing, you can always use the broth for regular rice, or as the base of a soup, as the start of a pasta sauce…..  the possibilities are endless. I’m thinking it might even add interesting flavor to a poached egg – that will be my next test.

Rhubarb Galette


Rhubarb Galette

Don’t let the term “galette” scare you because it sounds a little fancy! A galette is simply a rustic, one-crust, pie or tart. In many ways they’re easier to make than pie.

I like galettes for a number of reasons:

  • they come together quickly
  • you can make them small or large with just a few changes
  • they’re great if you want to make “pie” for one or two people or want to use up a small amount of fruit
  • I love the rustic look
  • since there’s only one crust, I don’t feel as guilty enjoying a piece!

You’ll start with your favorite pie crust recipe. If you don’t have a tried-and-true-recipe, you can find many options online. (Both Ina Garten and Alton Brown have good recipes. Note: some recipes make one crust and some, two.)

I roll out my dough a little thicker than I do for pie, probably just under ¼”.  As a rule of thumb, a crust rolled out to a 11″ – 12″ round will hold about 4 cups of prepared fruit.

Once it’s rolled out, carefully move the crust to a baking sheet that’s been covered with parchment paper or a Silpat sheet.  If it tears when you move it, patch the tear with a piece of dough from the edge and a little water. Slightly mound the filling in the center of the crust leaving about a 2″ border.

Starting on one side and continuing around, fold the border up over the filling, overlapping and pinching the dough to create a rustic edge.  While you are not too concerned about “pretty”, you want to make sure the edge will hold together to help keep liquid from spilling out as it bakes.  Having said that, there’s a good chance some will spill, but don’t worry about it, if it does.  Once folded and pinched, you can brush the dough with an egg wash, if you’d like.  I generally do not.

For the filling you can use any sort of pie filling recipe that calls for four cups of fruit. (I know that rhubarb is a vegetable but we tend to treat it as a fruit!)  Or you can add a bottom filling  under the fruit, similar to the one in this Plum Galette recipe by Jacques Pépin.  I made it over the weekend and it was great!

Read more…

Sunset Supper at The Market


Sunset Supper

Two weeks from tonight one of Seattle’s best events will take place on the cobblestones of Pike Place. Sunset Supper at Pike Place Market will be celebrating its 19th year!

Seattle’s top chefs, restaurants, wineries (well, Washington wineries), breweries, distilleries and no-alcohol beverage makers will donate time and materials to support this benefit for the Pike Place Market Foundation. The Foundation provides services in four major areas: a senior center, including housing; a pre-school; a food bank; and a medical clinic, all within the heart of the market.

Besides your dollars supporting these great programs, you get to sample bites and sips from a great lineup of contributors. It’s a win all-around.  You can see the full list of vendors here.

I’ve attended the last few years and will be there again this year.  It’s a fun event and a perfect time of year to enjoy a warm Seattle night outside.

The event often sells out – especially the Patron tickets – so don’t wait too long.  Get your tickets now!

Mint Sun Tea


Mint Sun Tea

This year I’m bringing back a summer staple that somehow dropped from my repertoire – Sun Tea. A few weeks ago a friend posted a photo of produce from her garden and sitting behind the produce, a batch of tea brewing in the sun. The wheels in my brain started turning….. how long had it been since I’d made a batch? Last year? I don’t think so. The year before? Maybe. I’m not sure how long it’s been but now that I’m thinking about it, it’s time to bring it back.

The basic premise is that you place either tea bags or loose tea in a clear container filled with water. You set the container in the sun to let it “brew”. On a hot day this helps reduce the amount of heat in your house, since you aren’t heating up a stove to boil water. Speaking of boiling water…. I have never had an issue with sun tea but because the water does not reach boiling point it is possible for bacteria to develop. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) wrote a summary about bacteria in tea almost 20 years ago. You can read the report here. (pdf)

I use the 2 quart container you see pictured in the photo and, depending on the type of tea, submerge three to five teabags in the water.  Then I let it sit in a sunny location for three or four hours. If you want stronger tea or would like it to brew faster, use more teabags. Remember that when you drink the tea, you’ll likely serve it over ice which will dilute it, so brew the tea stronger than you would for hot tea.

This year, I’ve made a lot of mint tea. I have tons of mint in my garden so I’ll snip three or four 8″ pieces and add those to the container, along with a black tea, like English Breakfast. Once the tea is brewed, remove the bags and the mint, if you added it. Then, to really bring out the mint flavor, I add about 1/4 cup of mint flavored simple syrup (recipe below). If you like a sweet tea, you may want to add more than 1/4 cup.

To finish, store your container in the refrigerator and it will be ready when you’re jonesin’ for a cool drink on a hot day. Just fill a glass with ice and then fill with your tea.

Mint Simple Syrup

Basic simple syrup is 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar combined and then brought to a boil for about 2 minutes.  You want to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved.

To make mint simple syrup, stir together the sugar and water and then add as many mint leaves as you can, keeping them submerged in the sugar mixture.  Boil for 2 minutes, as with plain simple syrup.  Then remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Once cooled pour the mixture through a sieve to remove all the mint leaves.  Place in a covered container and chill until you need it.

Hazelnut Poppy Seed Cookies


Hazelnut Poppy Seed Cookies

Here’s another winning recipe from The Grand Central Baking Book.  This truly has become one of my go to books, especially for cookies.  The instructions are clear, the recipes well-tested and the results delicious!  This was my first time making this recipe and it definitely won’t be the last.  I’m having a hard time keeping myself from eating them all at once!   The nutty flavors of poppy and roasted hazelnuts enhance the rich and buttery shortbread style cookies. I made one change to the recipe.  Based on the instructions it seemed the hazelnuts are left whole and mixed in.  I find that whole nuts can sometimes make it hard to slice rolled cookies.  I tossed the hazelnuts into a food processor to chop them up a little, leaving some good size pieces.  Also, I have a heavy-duty mixer and it had no problem mixing the nuts into the batter.

Hazelnut Poppy Seed Cookies

Adapted from The Grand Central Baking Book…

  • 3 cups plus 3 tablespoons (1 pound) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces) poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces, or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) hazelnuts, lightly toasted and skinned (see below)

Measure the flour, poppy seeds, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, then reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until they disappear into the dough. Fold in the hazelnuts with a sturdy spatula. Shape the dough into two logs 2 inches in diameter, then chill for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 3 months). Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking sheets. Slice the cookies 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and place them about 1 inch apart, in 3 by 4 rows, on the prepared pans. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. The cookies should be firm to the touch.

To toast hazelnuts, preheat the oven to 275°F.  Place shelled nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Toast for 20 to 30 minutes, until the skins crack and the nuts begin to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and place the nuts in a kitchen towel.  Wrap tightly and let sit for 5 minutes or so. (You’re letting them steam a little bit.) Then rub the nuts (still in the towel) vigorously to loosen the skins.  You may not be able to remove every little piece of skin, but that’s okay.  Remove the nuts from the towel.

Wine Tasting & Blending at EFESTĒ Winery


Big Papa in the Glass

EFESTĒ (pronounced like the letters, F-S-T) is one of the Washington wineries with a tasting room in the Woodinville warehouse district. The tasting room sits behind a couple of warehouses and up a long driveway off of 144th. It is warm and welcoming with large windows bringing light into the large space. There’s a stand-up bar, as well as, a variety of chairs and tables providing plenty of options and space for tasting.

But the tasting room was not my destination on this visit. EFESTĒ is trying out a new sort of tasting they plan to offer soon. A few of us assembled in the tank room for a combined vertical/barrel tasting. This tasting focused on Big Papa, EFESTĒ’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine. The tasting was led by Peter Devison (scroll down, then select his name under Our Team), EFESTĒ’s winemaker. While we tasted, Peter, a great speaker and storyteller, talked to us about what we were tasting; where he thought the wine was, in terms of drinkability; the characteristics; and other winery and wine making tidbits.

Vertical & Barrel Tasting

First we started with bottled wines to set the baseline. Our first wine was the Big Papa 2008, a big, bold wine with tons of structure, rich black currant flavor, and strong tannin. This wine demands a big, meaty steak to pair with it and will easily handle a few more years in bottle before reaching its peak. Next we tasted the 2011. This wine was only bottled a year ago and is still in process of coming together. It had a much fresher taste than the 2008, tannin was barely detectable, and I did not find it nearly as complex as the 2008. Peter does not believe it will age as long, either. We then moved on to the 2012, which had only been bottled last week. Tasting wine at this stage is a little bit unfair to the wine, as it hasn’t recovered from the shock from bottling. Having said that, this is a nice wine that will only get better as it settles down. A lot of fruit, but also more structure than the 2011. It will be interesting to see how it ends up comparing to the 2008.

Then we moved on to the fun part. Our next four wines were barrel samples that could be used to create the 2013 Big Papa. While they were all Cabernet Sauvignon, each of the samples was from a different vineyard and/or AVA. Each had its own set of characteristics that it would bring to a finished wine. I find the process of selecting and blending wines fascinating. Although it parallels cooking in many ways, I can’t seem to get my head around what elements in one wine will complement (or not…) elements in another wine. Although I’m sure much of that comes from experience, this is the skill that makes a great winemaker.

We tasted and talked about the four samples, individually, and then tried our hand at creating our own blend. While I didn’t create anything worth writing home about, I loved the process of experimenting to see what I could come up with.

EFESTĒ plans to offer this event again on July 11th.  Wine Club members and those on their mailing list will get first notice.  The events will be limited to small groups so, if you are interested, sign-up for their newsletter!   You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter, but event notifications go to Wine Club and newsletter subscribers first.


Waiting to start           Teeny-tiny beaker for our experiementing


Tzatziki and Pita


Tzatziki & Pita

A favorite summertime snack – or sometimes it becomes a meal – is Tzatziki and pita. Cool, crisp refreshing, cucumber is always delicious, but especially so on a warm, sunny day.

I don’t always follow a specific recipe but generally start with something like this version from Ina Garten.  I may vary it depending on my mood or ingredients on hand. One major difference is that I always use Greek yogurt and it really doesn’t need draining.

I made the pita you see in the photo and while they don’t look too bad, let’s just say I wouldn’t serve them to company. So I won’t share that recipe today but may have one for you in the future. In the meantime, good pita is easy to find in any grocery store.


from Ina Garten

  • 1 pound (1 pint) plain yogurt (whole milk or low-fat)
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place the yogurt in a cheesecloth or paper towel-lined sieve and set it over a bowl. Grate the cucumber and toss it with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt; place it in another sieve, and set it over another bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours so the yogurt and cucumber can drain.

Transfer the thickened yogurt to a large bowl. Squeeze as much liquid from the cucumber as you can and add the cucumber to the yogurt. Mix in the sour cream, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to allow the tzatziki to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavors to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


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