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Seattle Restaurant Development Forum

18-Mar-2014
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I’m not sure if this would appeal to any of you but just in case…..

Wednesday, March 19th there’s an event being held at The Triple Door covering the business of restaurants. Here’s the short and sweet description from the ticketing site:

Seattle Restaurant Development:  Join Bisnow and some of the most innovative restaurateurs in the Seattle area for an inside look into the restaurant development scene. Learn about the hottest neighborhoods for up and coming and well established restaurants alike, and hear the real estate perspective on the growth of Seattle as a veritable restaurant hub.

Additional information from the PR person:

It will be about the the trends, challenges, and opportunities in  Seattle’s restaurant world today—and how restaurants are helping create  the physical landscape and culture of neighborhoods.

What’s most interesting, I think, is the list of presenting chefs/restaurateurs Tom Douglas, Renee Erickson, Thierry Rautereau, Rick Yoder, Ethan Stowell and Matt Dillon.  Also presenting are real estate, architecture and other business professionals.  Apparently they plan to pack a lot in during the 90 minutes of presentation!

Anyway, if you are interested I have a discount code you can use.  The ticket site is here and the discount code is #SEAfoodie, which will give you 33% off the $64 ticket.

Time to Make Corned Beef

07-Mar-2014

 

Homemade Corned Beef

 

A couple of years ago I made corned beef from scratch for the first time.   The process is super easy and the results are delicious.  

There are two potential challenges with this recipe:  it may take you time to track down pink salt – this is a preserving salt not just a pink colored salt like Himalayan salt; and pickling (corning) the beef takes about five days – which isn’t really a challenge unless your refrigerator is already packed to the gills.  Finding space for the container might be hard but this recipe is definitely worth it.

I wrote a post with all the details the first time I made it.  If you get started now you’ll have plenty of time and you’ll be rewarded with your own scrumptious corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day!

Espresso Granita

22-Feb-2014

 
Espresso Granita
 

Apparently this is my winter of making lighter, frozen confections – first the tangerine sorbet and now this espresso/coffee granita!  A nice thing about granita is that you don’t need special equipment to make it, so anyone can enjoy this icy delight. It does, however, take a little time as you break up the ice crystals throughout the freezing process.

You can make this recipe with either espresso or strong coffee. I used a combination because I wanted the richness of espresso but the ease of making a pot of coffee. And I chose decaf beans so I wouldn’t mess up anyone’s sleep when I served it as the finale of a recent dinner.

It’s traditional to top this granita with whip cream but you could also use a shot of a favorite liqueur (think Bailey’s, Frangelico or Kahlua) or even just cream straight from the carton.

You’ll need space in your freezer where a 9″x13″ pan can lay flat, but there’s no special equipment required for granita.

Espresso Granita

based on a recipe from The Perfect Scoop

Makes about 2 quarts

  • 1 cup of freshly brewed espresso
  • 3 cups of freshly brewed very strong coffee (I used 2-3 times the normal coffee amount)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

Mix all ingredients together while the coffee and espresso are still warm.  Stir until the sugar is well dissolved.  Cool the mixture to room temperature or cooler.

Pour the mixture into a 9″x13″ pan and place it in the freezer.  (Alternatively, it may be easier to put the pan in the freezer and then pour the mix, to avoid sloshing.)

Freeze for 1 hour, then take a fork and break up any ice crystals that have formed around the edges of the pan.  Drag them towards the center of the pan.  The mixture will still be almost all liquid so be careful if you need to remove the pan from the freezer to break up the crystals.

From this point on, every 30 minutes rake the mixture with a fork, breaking up the crystals and pulling them to the center of the pan.  It will take a few hours for the mixture to completely freeze.

Tangerine Sorbet

07-Feb-2014

 
Tangerine Sorbet
 

I believe citrus fruit is in season during the winter months to keep us from going stir-crazy during frigid and gray winters. With their bright colors and sweet-tart flavor they shock us out of seasonal malaise.  This tangerine sorbet brings a jolt of sunshine and a spring to my step even on the dreariest of days.  It’s super simple to make – there are just three ingredients and two of them come from the tangerines!

There’s a fine line between some sorbets and granita and this is one of them.  This recipe uses an ice-cream maker; but take the same ingredients, freeze them in a long, wide container (like a 9”x12” pan), then occasionally scrape with a fork and you’ll have granita, instead of sorbet.  In fact, you can see that I scraped more than scooped to fill my little bowl.

Remove the sorbet from the freezer 10 to 15 minutes before serving to let it soften a bit.  With just fruit juice and sugar the mixture will freeze rock-solid.

 
Sorbet
 

Tangerine Sorbet

  • Zest from 1 or 2 tangerines
  • 3 cups tangerine (or other citrus) juice
  • ¾ cup sugar

Add the sugar to 1 cup of the tangerine juice.  Heat over low heat just until sugar is dissolved. (It won’t take long.) Let it cool to room temperature.

Add the zest to the remaining 2 cups of the tangerine juice and, when the sugar-juice mixture has cooled, combine all the juice together.  Chill in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 hours until completely cold.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

 
Tangerine
 

Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti

01-Jan-2014

 

Pistachio and Dried-Cherry Biscotti

 

Hard to believe that Christmas and New Year’s Day have already come and gone! It seems like just a minute ago I was up to my elbows in sugar, flour and butter, baking cookies as holiday gifts for the family. I made dozens of cookies and managed to save a few of them for me.  I’ve enjoyed them while taking morning or afternoon breaks and savoring the relative quiet during the last few days. These biscotti are especially good with a demitasse of espresso (the Italians are really onto something with this combination!) or mug of tea.

I use the original recipe ripped from a Bon Appétit magazine a couple of years ago.  The recipe is also on their site and I noticed they modified it at some point.  Based on the comments, it appears many people thought the dough was too dry.  I’ve never had issues with the original version, other than the occasional crumbling cookie corner which sometimes occurs when slicing the baked logs.   However, I often use extra-large eggs so maybe that little bit of extra liquid makes a difference.  And I use a Professional Kitchenaid mixer which has a great motor and it does work pretty hard to bring the dough together. So maybe the updated recipe will work better for most people.

The recipe in this post is the original and the one I use, but the link above will take you to the new version, if you’d prefer to try it.

A couple of notes: I use dried sour cherries, sometimes called pie cherries.  The first year I used dried Bing Cherries and didn’t care for them in this recipe.  Also, if you look at the online recipe it says the cookies can be made three days in advance.  That seems pretty limited.  I’ve sometimes taken up to a month to finish them but keep them in an airtight container.

 

Espresso & Biscotti

 
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Tennessee Sugar Cookies

03-Dec-2013

 

Tennessee Sugar Cookies

 

We are now well into the “holiday season”.  Yay!  I know Thanksgiving has barely come and gone, yet Christmas is barely three weeks away.  And my main celebration comes even sooner since I celebrate with my family the weekend prior.  Yikes!  I started my baking ramp up last week.  This week I’m trying to get into production mode.

This recipe is one I always make early in my holiday baking.  It comes together easily and makes a pretty big batch of cookies which makes it an easy win and gets me motivated to do more.  I have no idea why these are “Tennessee” Sugar Cookies but that’s what they’re called.  A million or so years ago one of my cousins brought these to a summertime family gathering.  I fell in love with them immediately and when she gave me the recipe card – because in the olden days that’s how we shared recipes! – that was the name on the card.  The original version was rolled in granulated sugar.  For my Christmas version I roll them in a mixture of granulated sugar and various colored topping sugars, aka sprinkles.  At one point I tried using all sprinkles but found that was a little bit of overkill.

 

Tennessee Sugar Cookies

 
 
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Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie

30-Nov-2013

 

Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie

 

I’ve never made pecan pie before. Which is odd because I really like a good pecan pie and cringe when I have a bad one. So it seems I should have tried my hand at making one (or more) to learn what makes a good pie. Since one of my assignments was the “other” pie for Thanksgiving, other than pumpkin, that is, I decided to give it a try. Lucky for me I used the recipe from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook so my very first pie was great!

The filling in the Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie is rich but not too sweet like some pecan pies are. The molasses and bourbon in the recipe add depth and balance the sugar. Toasting the pecans results in a nuttier flavor. The filling was really easy to pull together.

I even decided to try the suggested pastry recipe instead of my normal go-to recipe. The pastry was pretty time intensive, because there is a lot of chilling at various steps along the way. But it’s really good and would have been even better if I didn’t make an error while blind baking the shell – I somehow turned off the heat when I placed the shell in the oven. Crazy! When I realized what I’d done I had to get the oven back up to temperature and then continue baking. Of course all the time spent keeping the pastry cold before placing it in the oven went down the drain. But even with my error it was still rather flaky, if a bit crispy, too. You can also see that I didn’t get the crust properly anchored to the pan – that’s why the crust is not covering the rim of the pie plate. Not all the filling will fit in the pie crust if it shrinks, but I don’t really stress out over that. I just bake the leftover filling in a little ramekin and save it as a treat for myself – there are positive aspects to making mistakes sometimes!

The only thing I might do differently next time is try to squeeze in a few more nuts – but maybe not. I need to think about that a little more.

If you have a baker or would-be baker in the family, this cookbook would make a nice holiday gift. In the meantime you can find the pie recipe here.

Cranberry-Tangerine Vinaigrette

26-Nov-2013

 

Cranberry-Tangerine Vinaigrette

 

I love this salad dressing recipe and am rarely without it once fresh cranberries appear in the grocery store.  Not only is it delicious, but the color is vibrant and cheery – a perfect way to brighten gray autumn or winter days.  Over the years it’s become a family favorite.  Whenever I’m responsible for the green salad for Thanksgiving dinner this is the salad dressing that’s requested.  I think this year I’ll use spinach as the base for the salad; add finely sliced red onions; sliced mushrooms; pieces of Satsuma; and sweet-spicy walnuts.

The original recipe is from a really great cookbook (you’ll love all the recipes), Dishing with Kathy Casey: Food, Fun, and Cocktails from Seattle’s Culinary Diva. If you are looking for a holiday gift for someone who loves to cook this is a good option!

 
Cranberry-Tangerine Vinaigrette
    • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar or distilled vinegar
    • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed Satsuma juice*
    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Place cranberries, sugar and vinegar in small saucepan and heat over medium heat until cranberries pop, 5 – 10 minutes.
Let cranberries cool slightly and then transfer to a blender.  Puree (being careful to make sure the top doesn’t pop off if they are still warm) the mixture until fairly smooth – there will still be pieces of bright red skin.  Add the mustard and Satsuma juice and lightly mix.
Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.  Slowly, slowly add the oil while continuously whisking until all oil has been incorporated and the mixture is emulsified.
Use immediately or store in the refrigerator.   
* Use any sort of orange-flavored citrus you have on hand. The original recipe called for orange juice but I love the tang of tangerine or satsuma!

Panettone

23-Nov-2013

 
Panettone
 

I’m just about to jump into full-on holiday baking for this year. With Thanksgiving late in November this year, the time until Christmas is going to fly! Especially since my family always gathers the weekend before Christmas, leaving me just over three weeks to get everything done. So I’m starting a little earlier than usual.

Each year I bake many of the tried and true favorites that my family enjoys but I also try to include one or two new things. This year, I’ve decided to attempt panettone, a slightly sweet, Italian Christmas bread dotted with fruit. After searching through my cookbooks I chose a recipe from the Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. In the cookbook she makes the recipe into two larger panettone but for my experiment I chose to make smaller breads as in this version.

Traditional panettone is baked in star-shaped pans.  I have a sunflower baking pan similar to this Nordic Ware Bouquet Pan, that I decided to use, since it has angles similar to the star pans.

 
Small panettone in sunflower pan
 

Following Martha’s instruction for the small loaves this first attempt resulted in slightly dry loaves, and that included reducing the baking time fairly substantially. I’m guessing that since my heavy metal pan would be hotter than the paper molds used in the recipe the baked the bread more quickly. The resulting bread was good enough though and sometime this next week I’ll experiment again – this time with larger loaves.  I’m excited to see my next results!

 
Dotted with raisins and currants
 

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette and a Crispy Egg

30-Oct-2013

 

Asparagus & Crispy Egg

 

This recipe has been a long time coming…. It was more than three years ago when I first made Grilled Asparagus Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette and a Crispy Egg and I’m finally getting around to writing about it.

Araxi is one of my favorite restaurants in Whistler Village. I always stop in at least for a bite of something at the bar, if not for a full dinner.  When some friends visited Whistler several years ago I recommended Araxi as a place they had to visit. They had a wonderful meal and also became fans. When the Araxi cookbook was released in 2009 they decided to host a dinner where we’d all make something from the cookbook.  Six of us got together in May 2010 and this is the dish I made.

I loved this recipe from the beginning but must have held off posting it because there are several steps, so the instructions are long. Luckily for me, procrastination has paid off. A year or so after the dinner with my friends, James Walt, the Araxi chef who wrote the cookbook, appeared on a local program and they posted this recipe online. Can you say cut and paste?

This recipe is listed as a dinner starter in the cookbook, but would also make a nice brunch or lunch main course.

When I made this dish I was very concerned about handling and deep-frying the poached eggs but found that they are actually pretty tough when they’ve cooled. I didn’t have any trouble breading or frying them. I would, however, recommend poaching a couple extra, “just in case” for your peace of mind, but there’s a very good chance you won’t need your extras.

 

Asparagus & Crispy Egg

 
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