coming soon: dutch babies & bartlett pear

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i love pancakes – but i think i love dutch babies more… more to come.

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pumpkin pie & whiskey carmel in a shortbread crust

welcome back – it’s been too long. what i mean is i moved – from seattle to san francisco to boston – since my last post. a whirlwind! but now that i’m here – let’s talk about pie. jeti and prepared for thanksgiving in boston – brrrr.

we were only in charge of one dish – pie. the day before thanksgiving i rushed home from work to get started on my pie. what would i make?? then, i remembered that Jeti’s Master raving each year about his favorite pumpkin pie – from birdbath bakery – in a rich shortbread crust.

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so we got started. first – the crust. i thought i would get the crust ready before heading down to the store to pickup [ahem] the pumpkin… thirty minutes later, the crust was done but the snow was just picking up.

i tried to drive the car out of the small hill in the driveway, but i failed. i knew the snow wouldn’t last long. a few hours past and the plowers came by. 9pm rolled around quickly and i finally made it down the hill, but all the stores were shut. gah – my only responsibility was pie! how could i show up without one? the next morning, i made an emergency trip to every store i could imagine, until finally concluding that Walgreens was my only option. amazingly, canned pumpkin was in stock.

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in no time at all, we had pie. very, very delicious pie. since we were only having one pie, i decided to please both pumpkin and pecan parties and whipped up a caramel pecan topping infused with a dash of whiskey.

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the shortbread began to brown, but the result was unmatched. maybe my best pie – ever.

crust

1 c. unsalted butter [softened]

2 c. flour

1/3 c. sugar

filling

1 2/3 c. 100% pumpkin

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/8 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cloves

2/3 c. sugar

touch of salt

1 1/3 c half and half

3 eggs

topping

1/2 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 shot whiskey

1 c. toasted pecans

1 tsp. heavy whipping cream

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

prepare the crust by mixing together all ingredients. press into a 9″ pie pan. make sure to press the dough up high enough on the sides to prevent sliding.

bake for 10 minutes. remove and let stand while you prepare the pie filling.

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

make the pie filling – heat the pumpkin and the sugar over medium heat in a saucepan until the pumpkin becomes fragrant (5 minutes) stirring occasionally. remove from heat and let cool. add the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined. add to pie crust and move back to the oven.

bake for 12 – 14 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees. continue baking for 35 minutes, or until the top of the pie moves like jello when you move it. if you test it with a toothpick, make sure that the center is solid (but still moist).

while the pie is cooling, make the topping on the stovetop. melt the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat until the butter starts to boil. stir constantly with a whisk. allow the caramel to thicken. add the salt and the vanilla. continue stirring but remove from heat. add the whiskey and the whipping cream. allow to cool slightly, then pour over the top of the pie evenly. spread the pecans over the top, and let the pie set for 1 – 2 hours before serving. you can warm it back up at 250 degrees for 10 minutes before serving if you prefer it warm.

happy baking!

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butternut squash & apple soup du jour

seriously, how can it be November? we’ve officially come face to face with blustery cold days and frequent rain storms. on my regular trip to the market, i find butternut squash on sale for just $0.99/lbs! without a recipe in mind, i decided to pick one up.

the lonely squash stared at me from the counter for some 9 days as the search for an appetizing meal played on. and then suddenly, déjà vu. this time, last year, butternut squash, counter. i recalled last year trying out a butternut squash soup recipe on some friends, which was given a mediocre review of a bit too thick for soup and more resemblant of a baby food.

how gross, i thought. but i’m sure i can do better. so this time around, i decided to axe up the recipe by replacing sauteed apples with apple sauce and a touch of apple juice, and one additional cup of chicken stock.

the result was dreamy. the perfect creamy soup, hold the cream. a healthy take on fall with a warm cup of butternut squash & apple soup, finished with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

butternut squash soup

one butternut squash (2 1/2 lbs or so)

2 cups of water

2 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp butter

1 cup applesauce

1 small yellow onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic

1/4 c apple juice

2  1/4 c chicken stock

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp coriander

preheat oven to 400°. slice squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. place sliced side down into baking pan with two cups of water. bake at 400° for 45-50 minutes, or until the squash is tender. remove from oven and allow to cool, until the pulp can be easily removed from the skins. this should give you approximately 3c of pulp.

saute diced onions in butter until translucent (5 mins). add applesauce and minced garlic. simmer for another 5 minutes. add chicken stock, apple juice, squash pulp, salt, pepper, and spices. whisk ingredients together and bring to a boil. lower heat to medium and reduce for about 10 minutes.

puree the soup in your food processor or food mill. keep warm over low heat and serve immediately. top with creme fraiche and cinnamon for a special treat. enjoy!

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halibut cheek sliders; cherry compote

for anyone who hasn’t had the luxury of indulging in halibut cheeks, i’m sorry. they aren’t easy to come by, but when you stumble across them they are a must have. this mild white fish cheek compares favorably against lobster tail, without the added work.

the halibut cheeks can be sautéed in a white wine, lemon, garlic, and butter pan for about 5-7 minutes – until thoroughly cooked. the texture is much different from a fillet with the shape and density resembling miniature lobster tails.

i served my sliders with mustard greens, red onion, cheeks, and cherry compote – though the dish would also complement well with garlicky aioli. the delicious juicy bing cherries were irresistible at the market. in fact, i used the remaining cherries to whip up an unforgettable cherry almond scone (coming soon…).

 

halibut cheek sliders

3/4 lbs of halibut cheek

1 lemon

3 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 c white wine (dry)

2tbsp butter

salt/pepper

slider buns (recommended: brioche rolls)

mustard greens

saute garlic and butter, add juice from one lemon and 1/2 c white wine. lightly salt and pepper your cheeks. simmer the sauce and add the cheeks, cooking for about 5-7 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. slice red onion and rinse mustard greens. serve cheeks on toasted slider buns with greens, onion, and a dollop of cherry compote.

cherry compote

1 c. pitted bing cherries

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 c minced onion

1/4 balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 c water and 1/4 c sugar dissolved

saute minced onion with olive oil and fine lemon zest. add the sugar-water, cherries, balsamic and a squeeze of lemon juice. simmer to a reduction.

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thank you frank bruni

i certainly hope everyone had a chance to glance over Frank Bruni’s coverage on Seattle’s fine cuisine in the Times a few weeks back. boy did he hit the nail on the head, talking up some of our best picks including a few of my favorites – Walrus and the Carpenter, Revel, Tavern Law and Staple & Fancy.

we are quite lucky here in Seattle to have such a variety of model restaurants to stomach. if you haven’t had a chance, it’s certainly worth a read.

next up: cake balls!

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roasted beet salad & chèvre

i never used to care for beets. in fact, there was a point when if someone mentioned beets my mind immediately went to those underwhelming red vegetables served from a can. until recently, when beets became so much more than a canned vegetable.

typically i would leave the beets to the experts while dining out, but after finding some wonderful roasting ideas which all appeared pretty straight forward, i decided to give it a go. the beets are peeled and painted with olive oil. they are then surrounded with orange slices, thyme sprigs and a pinch of salt. i roasted my beets in foil the way i would a potato.

forty minutes later i had beautifully appointed rich red beets. my mom, who doesn’t much care for goat cheese was on her way over for dinner that evening. but since beets and goat cheese complement each other so well, i thought i attempt a chèvre crème fraiche sauce, toning down the goat cheese intensity for her.

the beets, finely diced were tossed with thinly sliced radishes, pickled shallots, arugula, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

roasted beet & chèvre salad 

3 red beets

1 shallot

4 or 5 radishes, thinly sliced

a handful of arugula

one orange

a few springs of thyme

salt

balsamic and olive oil dressing

3 ounces creme fraiche

2 ounces goat cheese

1 tbsp milk

salt

pepper

1 c vinegar

1/2 c sugar

1 tsp salt

pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. brush peeled beets with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and wrap up with four slices of orange and several sprigs of thyme. bake for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

while the beets are cooking, thinly slice a shallot for pickling. combine one cup of vinegar, half a cup of sugar, and a dash of salt to a  small bowl. add sliced shallots, cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

in a food processor, mix goat cheese, creme fraiche, and milk together until you have a smooth creamy sauce. store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

once the beets are cool, dice them into small bite sized pieces. toss cooled beets, radishes, and shallots in a balsamic vinaigrette of your choice, or balsamic and olive oil. spread goat cheese sauce over a plate. top with beets and arugula to taste. add cracked pepper and a dash of salt if desired.

enjoy!

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asian chicken lettuce wraps

halfway through july and I’m beginning to worry summer may pass us by this year in Seattle. i keep waiting for a sunny day — particularly one that merits firing up some coals on the barbecue. since that day has yet to arrive, we dabbled with recipes to conjure up a refreshing summer meal despite the rain.

we settled on chicken lettuce wraps, inspired by none other than the world-wide web. these turned out just as we’d hoped  — light, refreshing, delicious.

of course what really makes these guys tasty is the ‘special’ sauce, a blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, sugar, hot asian mustard, red chili paste, sesame oil, and ginger. what is great about this sauce is that each can spice up their own ramekin of sauce as desired.  the chicken breasts are first pan seared and thereafter cooled for mincing.

the meat is minced with a mixture of onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and garlic — and then stir fried over medium high with a soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar sauce.

finally scoop a dollop of meat mixture into each iceberg lettuce leaf. load up with the sauce of your choice and fold it up like a taco. scrumptious!

alongside our lettuce wraps we indulged in a fresh asian chicken sesame salad (recipe below).

chicken lettuce wraps

2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast

oil for cooking

1 can water chestnuts – minced

1/2 c crimini mushrooms – minced

1/2 c yellow onion – chopped

2 garlic cloves

head of iceberg lettuce

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp rice vinegar

‘special sauce’ 

1/4 c sugar

1/3 c water

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1/4 tsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp chili oil

2 tsp chili paste

hot mustard to taste

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp tomato paste

pan sear the chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side. allow to cool. while cooling, mince water chestnuts, onion, garlic, and mushrooms. set aside. once the chicken has cooled, mince the chicken and add to the other minced ingredients. combine 2 tablespoons of soy sauce with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar. this is your stir fry sauce, set aside.

put all special sauce ingredients except for the hot mustard and chili paste into the food processor. blend until combined. refrigerate until eating. add chili paste (2 tsp) and hot mustard to taste right before serving.

stir fry chicken mixture with soy mixture for 5-7 minutes on medium. while this is cooking, wash, clean, and separate your iceberg lettuce leaves. spread on a plate and serve alongside the meat mixture. add about 1/4 cup of meat mixture to each lettuce wrap, add sauce to taste, and enjoy!

asian chicken salad 

1/2 package of chinese egg noodles

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp soy sauce

1-2 tbsp of minced jarred ginger (such as the ginger people’s minced ginger)

2 tbsp Sriracha or chili paste

1 c thinly sliced carrots

one pan seared chicken breast, sliced

1 cup diced green onions

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1/2 c chicken broth

cook egg noodles according to packaging. during the last 2-3 minutes, add the carrots to the boiling water. drain and rinse under cold water. combined peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, srirarcha, and chicken broth in a food processor. blend until combined. add green onions, sauce, sesame seeds, and diced chicken to the pasta. cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. enjoy!

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