Category Archives: food photography

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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Filed under comfort food, dinner, fish, food photography, halibut, lunch, recipes, sauces, seafood

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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Filed under baking, dinner, food photography, news, seattle dining

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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Filed under chicken, dinner, food photography, international, leftovers, lunch, recipe.index, sauces

baba’s pirozhki

i’ve risen from dormancy. i almost forgot about you, blog. but i’m back. my computer and life ‘tasks’ have been salvaged from disarray (for now…). i have been back piling recipes to share with you, and am particularly excited about this one.

my babaushka (aka baba, grammy, grams, grand-ma-ma, etc.) more often than not prepared a dense russian cuisine for family meals. as children, our favorite meal was always baba’s pirozhki. the same crispy deep-fried dough and various fillings gave the  seven-year old in me just enough excitement to keep me coming back for more. often she would prepare three or four different pirozhki and each bite sized popper would be a surprising delight.

what didn’t occur to me, until i began recreating baba’s pirozhki, was that our ‘russian’ cuisine was actually russian with a chinese twist. my baba, 1/2 russian and 1/2 chinese made a minced meat pirozhki with soy and oyster sauce! she then served the meal with a homemade dipping soy sauce alongside.

i know, it sounds amazing weird. but believe me, it’s good. the pirozhki dough takes a few hours to rise and is easy to work with. i flattened a golf ball sized glob of dough and put one spoonful of filling in each dumpling.

don’t let the deep-frying scare you away from this recipe. we find that only ~10% of the oil used in the cooking process remains in the food after crisping on a paper towel. OK, it’s not a great statistic, but it could be worse.

the recipe my baba kept of course calls for 10 cups of flour and enough to feed an army of people. i cut the recipe into 1/4 and still have leftovers! it should feed 4-6 easily. the rolls also freeze very well. the result will be best if you reheat them in the oven @ 350 degrees.

pirozhki (пирожок)

dough

2 1/2 c flour

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 c milk

1/4 c warm water

1 tsp cooking oil

1/2 yeast packet

2 tbsp butter

melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. add 1/4 cup of milk. separately, dissolve 1/2 packet of yeast with warm water. allow to proof for ten minutes. add 1/4 c milk, oil, and eggs to yeast mixture. transfer to a large bowl. sift flour and salt together. add buttermilk mixture to yeast mixture. begin slowly adding flour until dough can be kneaded (approximately 2 1/2 cups). knead dough and allow to rise in a warm covered bowl for 3 hours or until it has doubled in size.

filling

1 yellow onion

1 tsp dill

2 garlic gloves

1 tbsp oil

bunch of fresh thyme or herbs of choice

salt

black pepper

3/4 lbs minced pork

1/2 lbs minced beef

2 hardboiled eggs

saute onions and garlic in oil. add dill, pepper and salt. add minced meat once the onions are translucent. if desired, add about 2 tablespoons of soy or oyster sauce to the meat mixture. cook meat until browned (10-15 minutes over medium). drain the meat mixture. dice the hardboiled eggs into small pieces and add to meat pan. mix in a 1/8 c of flour for thickening and set aside until dough is ready.

when the dough is done rising, take a small amount of dough (golf ball size) and flatten it like the picture shows. add one scoop of filling. Close and pinch the dough together. allow pirzohki to rise for another ten minutes prior to deep-frying. deep fry until golden brown on each side in 3 cups of vegetable oil.

be sure to try them with soy sauce! other popular side sauces are sour cream, horseradish, or mustard. enjoy!

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tiramisu cheesecake

happy birthday [to me]! i celebrated yet another birthday last night and am rather embarrassed to admit i slaved away on my own birthday cake. honestly i’m not a big birthday fan, so why did i need to make myself a cake? we had already celebrated with friends on Saturday, indulging in italian pizzas and coconut cream pies.

but Nick thoughtfully prepared an earth-shattering dinner menu for Monday that we planned to consume until incapacitation, after which i would probably have been better off falling asleep. instead i topped it off with a slice of irresistible. so i felt it would only be appropriate to make my contributions to the meal via a celebratory dessert finale.

the menu? short rib bone marrow homemade ravioli sprinkled with garlic chips courtesy of the chef [seen below], followed by tiramisu cheesecake from ricotta and marscarpone courtesy of the apprentice.

i actually intended to make a traditional tiramisu, but it turns out lady fingers are far more difficult to find that one would think [high demand, mother’s day weekend?]… three markets later, i decided to go for a chocolate cookie crumb cheesecake with an espresso twist.

the end result was surprisingly so much better than tiramisu. it was moist and creamy, but not too heavy. since my cheesecake cracked [womp, womp] i covered the top with a plain marscarpone whipped cream frosting, filling in all of the crevices. i then added the chocolate marscarpone whipped cream rim and ground dark chocolate, the perfect amount of bittersweet.

i may just have to make this birthday cake business a tradition.

tiramisu cheesecake [espresso cheesecake]

16 oz cream cheese

4 oz marscarpone

1/2 c ricotta

1 c sugar

2 eggs

1 shot espresso

2 tbsp Bailey’s Irish cream or Kahlua

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c chocolate graham crackers

3 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

in your food processor, blend melted butter and lightly smashed graham crackers. pour mixture into the bottom of your 9″ springform pan and press into the bottom in an even layer. set aside. mix cream cheese, marscarpone, and ricotta on high until light and fluffy. add sugar slowly until combined. reduce blender speed and add eggs one at a time until just mixed. add espresso, vanilla, irish cream until combined. gently fold in flour slowly to avoid clumping. pour mixture through a food mill into the prepared pan. wrap pan with foil tightly and place into a water bath in the oven. bake for 60 minutes.

marscarpone frosting

1 c heavy whipping cream

8 oz marscarpone

1 c confectioners sugar

1/4 c cocoa powder [optional for chocolate frosting].

whip in your stand mixture until thoroughly combined. spread evenly over cooled cheesecake.

cover cheesecake with your choice of chocolate shavings, fine chocolate, cocoa powder, or chocolate covered espresso beans. allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours prior to serving. enjoy!

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shrimp scampi & linguine

with warmer days finally sprinkling in around seattle’s tiresome gray hues, it hit me like a brick. oh dear – summer. you know, that short-lived 6-week season when short shorts, tank tops, and summer dresses come out to play haunt all of us with our pasty legs and bloated winter bellies.

ugh, I must start eating lighter meals and researching this year’s best streak-free sunless tanner. seattle’s summer slogan ought to be warning: don’t blink or you might miss it. what I find most unusual is the volume of high end speed boats and convertibles that seem to rise from the dead just long enough to get their annual tune-up.

the joys of shrimp scampi were calling to me – a dish that I first made with the help of a good friend, and would proceed to make many of times thereafter. citrusy lemons and garlic galore, sub parsley for what some would refer to as ‘you love it or you hate it’, cilantro. this dish is quick, easy, and light.

 shrimp scampi

1 lbs shrimp – veined and peeled

1/4 c butter

1/2 c chopped cilantro

2 shallots

2 lemons, for juice and peel

4-6 garlic cloves

1 c white wine

linguine

boil 2 quarts of water for linguine. cook per package instructions. 

sauté shrimp for about 1 minute in steaming water until just cooked. remove from pan and set aside. melt butter until foaming, add garlic and shallots. sauté 3 minutes until shallots become translucent. add white wine and lemon juice from two small/medium lemons, continue simmer. add 1/2 tablespoon of grated lemon peel. add cilantro, salt and pepper to taste. add back the shrimp to reheat over medium heat for 2 minutes.

combine shrimp and sauce with strained linguine noodles. serve and enjoy with a delicious crusty bread or side salad!

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, fish, food photography, leftovers, lunch, recipe.index, recipes, sauces, seafood, shrimp

chocolate black raspberry cupcakes; champagne frosting

easter weekend and book club tonight. my first book club ever. i’ve never considered going in the past, because i figure if i don’t have time to read the book – why go? as if reading the book was a mandatory requirement of attendance or something. i’ve since been informed ‘book club’ is more a rendition of Sex In the City – a total excuse for a room full of ladies to drink wine and indulge in delicious treats while ranting and raving about everything under the sun. thus, my cupcakes and i will be there.

as much as i am craving chocolate peanut butter cake – i needed to make something a bit more ‘girly’. in lieu of Easter pastels, and managing to include my daily dose of chocolate, raspberry and champagne fit the bill.

why chocolate stout? well to be honest, the stout (such as Guinness) complements dark chocolate so well that the end result is simply a richer moister chocolate cupcake.

critic approved!

chocolate cupcake

1 c stout (such as Guinness)

1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 c pressed cocoa powder

1/2 c canola or grapeseed oil

1/3 c sour cream

1/3 c milk

2 eggs

2 c flour

2 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

chocolate raspberry ganache

6 oz dark chocolate (high quality)

1 c heavy cream

1/2 c seedless black raspberry preserve

raspberry whipped cream frosting (optional)

1 c heavy whip cream

1/3 c seedless black raspberry preserves

6 tbsp powdered sugar

champagne frosting

2 sticks unsalted butter

4 tbsp champagne

3 c powdered sugar

2 tbsp heavy cream

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. line 24 muffin cups with your favorite cupcake liners.

melt butter in a sauce pan. add oil, cocoa powder, and stout. whisk until thoroughly combined. let cool.

sift flour, sugar, soda, and salt together. in a separate bowl, beat sour cream, milk and eggs. add stout sauce. slowly fold in flour mixture until just combined. pour batter into your cupcake liners, filling each 3/4 way to top. bake for 15-17 minutes, until the centers are clean on a toothpick. let cool.

while the cupcakes are baking, chop dark chocolate chunks and put in a heat proof bowl or double boiler. heat heavy cream for ganache in a sauce pan until just bubbling at the edges. pour over heavy cream over the chocolate chunks and stir until chocolate is melted (may need to heat over double broiler. add raspberry preserves until smooth.  allow to cool for a few minutes, but not too long that the chocolate begins to settle.

using an apple corer, gently remove the centers of the cupcakes. push the corer down until it feels like you are about 1/2 way to the bottom.  fill with ganache. allow to cool completely.

now, you do not need to make both frosting recipe’s, so take your pick.

raspberry whipped cream frosting:

whip on high heavy cream, preserves, and powdered sugar for 5 minutes or until peaks are forming. fill plastic sandwich bag or a piping bag. frost cupcakes in the design of your choice!

champagne frosting:

whip butter and heavy cream until light and fluffy. begin adding powdered sugar 1 tsbp at a time. whip on high until powdered sugar is fully incorporated. alternate between powdered sugar and champagne. using a piping bag to frost your cupcakes – enjoy!

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Filed under baking, birthday, comfort food, dessert, food photography, recipe.index, recipes, shiba inu