Saturday, October 30, 2010

Le Gruyere and Ham Pizza for the fall

I subscribe to the Whole Foods Market newsletter and I was very grateful for that when this recipe came over my e-mail. I was actually looking at a recipe for Le Gruyere and butternut squash casserole because my parents have an abundance of squash this fall but the pizza recipe caught my eye.

It sounded like it might be a little rich with the creme fraiche but as it turns out it was perfect. You only use a 1/3 cup of the creme and it is dolloped instead of spread so it is not over the top. I followed this recipe exactly and it was delicious so don't miss an ingredient including the fresh thyme sprinkled on at the end. (Actually I used a pizza stone and a pizza dough from QFC called East Coast Pizza.)

This pizza would be great as an appetizer or a main course.


1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 12inch pizza crust - your choice

1/3 cup creme fraiche

3/4 cup grated Le Gruyere

2 ounces sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips

2 T fresh thyme

In a large skillet heat oil and add sliced onions, salt and pepper. Cook until caramelized and browning. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (or whatever your crust requires.) Dot crust with creme fraiche and sprinkle caramelized onions, Le Gruyere cheese, and prosciutto. Bake until the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbling, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly, sprinkle on thyme and cut into wedges. Enjoy!

Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 Seattle American Lamb Jam was a tasteful success

Yesterday afternoon while Seahawks and fans were getting drenched in the first major storm of Seattle's winter season, a less formidable group were gathering at the Bell Harbor Conference Center at Pier 66 for the second annual American Lamb Jam. Huddled inside the dry warm space with twenty-one of Seattle's finest chefs, the intrepid group of foodies dined on Moroccan lamb shank sloppy joes from Boka Kitchen and Bar and Lamb pastrami on rye from Re:public restaurant.

The event was even larger than last year with more eateries and wineries participating. As my sister and I ate and drank our way through each entrants offerings we soon began to realize that unless we wanted our bloated bodies carried out of the Center when it was all over we were going to have to pick and choose.

It was not an easy task since there were so many wonderful dishes to try. Andaluca who had one of my favorites last year had another great dish with a lamb in fillo triangle that was spot-on. Ponti Seafood Grill had a terrific lamb char sui on a Chinese steamed bun (a bit more sauce would have been nice), and the Barking Frog with a show stopper of a pot pie made with lambcetta and confit chanterelle.

The fan favorite of the evening turned out to be Grilled lamb shoulder confit with preserved huckleberries and creamy parsnip. A very excellent and tender bite that received many oohs and aahs. The dish was prepared by Chef Mark Bodinet from Copperleaf Restaurant of Cedarbrook Lodge who gets to compete in New York against winners from other Lamb Jam's across the country.

We didn't think that everybody had a winner this year. Ray's Boathouse disappointed after a good showing last year with a fillo wrapped offering that was as dry as dirt. Bell Harbor international conference center had a uninspired lamb gyro that was more sour cream than anything else. But fortunately there were very few examples of no-so-great dishes.

Overall, not a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. I'll be back next year.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Using Local Ingredients in Season - Walla Walla Sweet Onion Tart with Bacon

The trend is definitely going in the direction of fresh and locally produced food. Walla Walla isn't exactly neighboring Redmond these days but we do share the same great state and that is close enough. I'd rather eat an onion from Walla Walla than from anywhere else in the world.

One of the reasons this particular onion has achieved such greatness is its sweetness. For once you can peel and chop an onion without crying your eyes out and any chef will tell you that is a bonus. But it is the flavor of the onion that sets it apart.

A recent sailing trip required some easy to serve picnic items and a nice onion tart fits that bill quite nicely. I found the recipe in a Food & Wine issue from November 2000 in a salute to the Evergreen State. It is so rich that you can and should use it for special occasions. The suggest that you pair it with a full bodied Semillion - from Washington State, of course!


2 sticks frozen unsalted butter

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 T sugar, plus 1 tsp

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup heavy cream

For filling:

1/2 pound thickly sliced bacon

3 large sweet Walla Walla Onions

salt and freshly ground black pepper

7 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

1 1/2 T freshly grated Parmesan

1 tsp minced rosemary

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Make the Pastry: Work over a medium bowl, grate the butter over the large holes of a box grater: freeze. In another bowl combine the flour sugar and salt. Add butter and cut mixture with pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and mix with fork until a dough forms. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and pat into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Make the filling: In large skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels and cut into 1 inch pieces. Pour all the three tablespoons of bacon grease off and add the thinly sliced onions to oil. Cook onion over low heat until tender and carmelized. It will take about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper and cool.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll dough onto lightly floured surface into a 15 inch disc. Fold the dough in half and place in 11 inch tart pan. Trim the overhang. Freeze the tart shell until chilled, about 10 minutes.

Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry starts to dry. Remove weights and foil and bake for about 3 minutes longer until golden. Let cool on rack.

Turn the oven down to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whisk cream and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients finishing off with a 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Pour into tart shell and bake for 25 minutes or until the custard is set. Transfer to rack to cool slightly. Remove tart from pan and serve.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Indian Spiced Chicken Wings with Peach-Mango chutney

After a quick trip to Wenatchee where we scored a pile of beautiful fresh, ripe peaches I came to the realization that they weren't going to stay ripe for very long. We couldn't eat them fast enough singly so I had to look for other options. Usually a lovely pie would ensue but since I am trying to watch my desserts I had to think of something else.

As I gazed at the other contents of my pantry I saw a couple of nice mangos that I'd been saving for smoothies. They screamed to be married to my peaches in one way or the other and because they were mangos it was chutney that popped into my head. Ah Ha! That would use my peaches and keep them around for awhile at the same time.

The chutney recipe was easy to find and easy to make. Now the question was how to combine it with the organic chicken wings that were defrosting on the counter. I decided to make the wings with Indian spices and serve it with some garlic chips.

For the chips I took a homemade flour tortilla and cut it into several triangles. Early in the day I chopped a couple of garlic cloves and then poured about a 1/2 cup of vegetable oil over them in a small bowl. I let it sit all day allowing the garlic to infuse the oil with its flavor. These are so easy to prepare: just heat the garlic oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat, when the oil is hot place the triangles into the oil, cook until brown, turn over for another second or two until golden and remove to paper towel. Immediately sprinkle with a little bit of garlic salt. Delicious.

For the wings I used the Albers Corn Meal recipe for oven fried chicken except instead of the usual spice suspects I broke into my Indian spices. Cumin, Coriander, Cardoman, Chili Pepper, etc. You should make it to your personal taste so it can be either mild or hot.


1 dozen organic chicken wings

2 T butter melted

2 large eggs beaten

2 T milk or water

1/2 cup Albers Yellow Corn Meal

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 teaspoons of your favorite Indian spice mix

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread melted butter in baking dish 13 X9 inches. Combine eggs and milk in medium bowl. Combine corn meal, flour, salt and Indian spice mix in medium bowl. Dip chicken into egg mixture to coat and then dip into corn meal mix until covered. Place in prepared baking dish.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until chicken is golden and done. Serve with peach-mango chutney and garlic chips.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Eastside Dining Experience - The Flat Iron Grill in Issaquah

We here in Redmond are always looking for new places to dine and we're willing to drive a little ways to do it. A pleasant drive along Lake Sammamish - east or west side - will bring you to Issaquah and a new restaurant called The Flat Iron Grill.

Located in quaint Gilman Village it is the site of the former Iris Grill. My one visit to the Iris Grill left me with a few real obvious impressions - mediocre and overpriced cuisine, shaky service & LOUD. The reason it was noisy wasn't because it was crowded but because the space is large with cathedral ceilings and nothing to absorb sound. The Iris Grill tried to cover it up with piped in music but it actually made it worse.

The Flat Iron Grill has done quite a bit to remedy that situation by using multiple sound absorbers in the form of curtains, carpet and actual sound absorbing boards hung on the ceiling. The restaurant will still not make your quietest dining experience list but it is vastly improved. My dining partner and I never had any difficulty having a conversation or talking to our waitress.

The improvements help not only with the sound but also with the general ambiance by making the area feel warm and inviting. They have done the walls in warm brick colors and decorated with a lot of iron memorabilia and knickknacks. The overall impression is comfortable and pleasant.

Our reservations were for 730P on a Friday night and our table was ready when we arrived despite the fact that it was a quite busy. The service was pretty good overall, our waitress approached our table immediately to say she would be with us very soon, she had just begun to cross the line to "too long" and I had actually just opened my mouth to say something about it to my partner when she came back. The rest of the evening she was flawless.

They have an interesting wine list with some labels we were not familiar with. We tried the Haystack Needle Tempranillo '07 from Washington at 8.50 a glass and were moderately happy with it. As an appetizer I couldn't wait to try the Figlets - figs stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in nueske's smoked bacon - and they were very tasty. I could have used a skosh more sauce for rolling them in though.

Other appetizers included House made Mozzarella, Grilled Oysters and Salsify Flan plus a number of others. You could easily do a series of tapas for a meal at the Flat Iron Grill. Prices on the starters range from $8 to $16 a plate.

For our entree my partner chose the Jambalaya with chicken, chorizo and a selection of shellfish at $24 while I went with the Muscovy Duck served with sweet potato gnudi, roasted fennel, and arugula and blood orange marmalade butter sauce for $25. The Jambalaya, although it looked fairly unremarkable on the plate, was given two thumbs up by my companion and my taste was pretty good. The duck looked marvelous on the plate and was perfectly cooked but the topping was too salty. It might have been saved with a counter of the sweet marmalade but there was too little of it on the plate to make a difference. In fact, if I might just say, there were more words in the description of the sauce than there was actual sauce on the plate.

Overall though I give this new restaurant 3 stars out of 5 and I will definitely go there again soon even if it is just to eat some more of those Figlets. It is not inexpensive and you can expect to pay over a $100 for dinner for two with wine. There is also outdoor seating for those few warm nights on the Eastside in the summer. Go and enjoy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Honey-Soy Broiled Black Cod

Last year my husband and I went to the Boat Show at Shilshole Marina in Seattle. After the show we went to Ray's Boathouse and hit the bar upstairs for some outstanding sunset views and some grub. We ended up having a number of appetizers rather than entrees and one of those included a sample of smoked Sablefish.

Sablefish is also known as Black Cod and I was floored when I tried it at Rays for the first time. It is the silkiest tasting fish I have ever had. It practically melted in my mouth.

That's why when I was visiting Gemini Fish Market in Issaquah this week and spotted black cod in the case I jumped on it. Even though I never cooked black cod before I thought that most of my salmon recipes would work well with the fish because both have a high fat content. I brought out one of my favorite cookbooks, Salmon by Diane Morgan, to find the perfect match.

First I Googled black cod recipes and I found out that many chefs are using a Japanese approach to preparing this increasingly popular and sustainable fish. That included a very interesting looking recipe from Iron Chef Morimoto that I would like to try sometime. But for this time around I wanted to make it as simple as possible because my biggest fear was ruining this perfect piece of fish.

In Diana Morgan's book I found a recipe for Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon that definitely has a Japanese flair. It looked simple enough that not even I could make a mess of it and perfectly transferable from salmon to black cod. The results were beautiful and it was a huge hit in our house.


1 lb black cod fillet cut into 4 pieces, skin on

2 T soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup mirin

1 tsp peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

For Sauce

4 tsp wasabi powder

2 T fresh lime juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup honey

Combine 2 T soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and ginger in small bowl. Pour over black cod fillets in small bag to marinate for 30 minutes. Do not marinate longer than 1 hour because it will begin to cook the fish.

Place all ingredients for sauce in small saucepan, mix, and heat over medium-high heat until it boils while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and turns syrupy. Set aside and keep warm.

Place black cod fillets on cookie sheet skin side down. Put under broiler (about 3 to 4 inches below heat) and cook until it begins to color - about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn over so skin is up and broil another 3 to 4 minutes. Don't worry about skin burning since you will remove it before serving.

Remove fish from broiler and pull skin off the back. Place perfectly cooked fillet over bed of steamed rice and pour a nice dribble of the sauce over the whole thing. Enjoy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Spinach Caprese Salad with Garlic Croutons

Now that our Farmers Market in Redmond is open we have an opportunity to get lots of fresh produce, cheeses and bread. All of those delicious things are available in this terrific summer salad. If we can't get rid of the rain then we can pretend it's summer by eating it on a plate.

Nothing says summer more than a warm tomato and this salad has them in spades. Since it's a bit early yet for big fresh summer types I used sweet cherry tomatoes. Fresh mozzarella is available at a number of stalls at the market and you can find organic. The bread can also be purchased from the market - you can just use the leftover heel for the croutons.

This is an easy recipe to make. Start by preparing your croutons:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice up enough 1/2 inch squares of white bread for as many salads as you are making. Take 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, mince and add to a small pan of extra-virgin olive oil (2 T) over low heat. Cook until the garlic is just translucent. Spread croutons on cookie sheet, pour oil over croutons through a sieve, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and then turn to coat before placing in the oven. Bake for ten minutes or until croutons are crunchy and lightly golden.

For the salad take about a cup of cubed fresh mozzarella and drizzle with1T olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Toss together in bowl and set aside to come to room temperature.

Take about a cup and a half of cherry tomatoes cut in half and place in bowl. Chiffonade 2 Tablespoons of fresh basil and toss with tomatoes. Drizzle with aged balsamic vinegar.

Combine the mozzarella and tomatoes together and then distribute on top of beds of baby spinach. Drizzle the remaining dressing from bottom of bowl on to salad and top with croutons. Ta dah!