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Cookie Art and Brunch in Seattle

16 Dec

I saw some impressive holiday cookie art over the weekend, while dining with our friends at the Four Season’s Hotel in downtown Seattle. It’s a beautiful hotel, with views of the water from Art restaurant, and it is a wonderful place to enjoy a leisurely lunch. Another surprising feature is that it has some very reasonably priced items on the brunch menu. I couldn’t resist the Dungeness Crab Salad.

From there, you can easily walk to Pike’s Place Market, the Seattle Art Museum (a.k.a. SAM) or there’s plenty of nearby shopping. I just love Seattle, any time of year!

P.S. Stay tuned for more cookie “art” soon…

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Food of the Gods

9 Aug

Do you love chocolate? My preference is dark, bittersweet, 60% cacao or higher…with some nuts (almonds, walnuts, macadamia–all delicious!)

I heard about The Mast Brothers today on the radio, interviewed by Chef Elizabeth Falkner, who recently moved from San Francisco, after 25 years, to Brooklyn (and opening Krescendo in Sept). This chocolate looks amazing!!!

You can learn more about it by watching these videos about the 2 brothers and The Source. Worth seeing!

http://mastbrothers.com/about

Apple Pie In An Apple – Part 2

10 Apr

This post is related to Apple Pie In The Apple on my blog in February. I found another recipe online yesterday, and after trying this idea myself, I’ve adapted the original “re-blogged” recipe, and feel obliged to add Part 2.

Check out this link for the other recipe I found. It’s got nice pictures, including the lattice crust, that you may find helpful.

I’ve mentioned previously I’m not much of a baker (mainly because I don’t have the patience to measure out lots of ingredients), therefore, hoped to find an easy pie dough recipe and referred to Michael Ruhlman’s ratios for Pie Dough. I’ve put a link of his book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking on My Tasty Store and there is also iPhone App  available for about $4.99. I think it’s worth it just for the convenience of having it if you’re a traveler who cooks while on vacation.

For a single crust:

  • 12 ounces Flour (350 grams)
  • 8 ounces Fat (I used Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces; note:1 stick of Butter is 4 oz.)
  • 4 ounces Water (I added 1 ice cube to keep it chilled)

1/2 Teaspoon of Salt (Optional)

1 Tablespoon of Sugar (Optional)

Mix dry ingredients and Butter in a Food Processor until Butter is in Pea-sized pieces.

Slowly add in the Water until it starts to hold together , but work it as little as possible (you may not need all of the Water, depending on the humidity of your environment). Don’t worry if it’s not totally formed into a ball.

Dump it out onto a piece of plastic wrap, knead it a bit and shape into a flattened disk, wrap up the plastic disk and place it in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes and up to a full day.

Once chilled, roll out on a floured surface and cut into strips for the lattice (you should count on chilling longer than 20 minutes if the temperature is warm and/or if the dough is very soft).

My tips/filling recipe are below:

  • 4 Apples
  • 4 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend (or Cinnamon)
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Optional)
  1. I figured out that you should not try to make the lattice directly on top of the apple (it’s too hard to get it looking nice). Make it on the counter and then place it on top of the apple. Leave a little space in the lattice for steam to get through.
  2. I also dotted the top of the apple with a little butter for extra flavor which you can see in the photo above (optional but delicious!)
  3. I used Pumpkin Pie Spice in lieu of Cinnamon
  4. I used 4 Apples, not 5-6 as in the original recipe I re-blogged, and there was plenty of filling for the apples.
  5. I used a Tablespoon of Light Brown Sugar per Apple in lieu of 1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar and 1/4 Cup White Sugar (since I prefer the flavor of Brown Sugar)
  6. I used a round metal Teaspoon measure to scoop out the Apple.
  7. I tried setting the Apples on the top slice of the Apple (that is cut off the top) as a base…it helped stabilize 3 of the apples but the 4th one slide off during the baking process. Not sure I’d do that again, unless the top slice was a little thicker, or maybe I’d cut a bigger hole in it for the base of the apple to sit in.
  8. I’m not crazy about covering them with aluminum foil and will be test without next time. I felt it took too long for the crust to brown.

I think this concept would work equally well if you wanted a short cut and topped the Apple with some nutty Granola instead of a crust. If you try it, please share your tips or ideas. Would love to hear them!

A Seasonal Vegetarian Antipasti Platter

11 Mar

Whenever I think of an Antipasti platter, I think of various cured meats, such as Prosciutto, Salami, Sopresatta, and Bresaola. The one pictured here, from Peter Lowell’s Restaurant in Sebastopol (West County Sonoma) was all Vegetarian and I didn’t miss the meat one bit! I’m definitely going to be ordering it again.

This one included Grilled Radicchio with Balsamic Vinegar (I think it was White Balsamic), a head of Roasted Garlic, a small slice of Frittata, Roasted Potato sprinkled with some Parmesan, Roasted Beets, Bosc Pear slices, a Mustard Greens Pesto (delicious!) and Kalamata Tapenade with Kumquat (a very nice creative twist!), Olives (including Castelvestrano which are one of my favorites), Caperberries and a couple of Pickled Red Chiles, Brie, Crostini, a bit of fresh, lightly dressed Kale, Curly Endive and Watermelon Radish.

I recommend trying to put together your own Vegetarian Antipasti–I think you’ll love it!

And of course, if you’re in the area, visit Peter Lowell’s…it’s one of the best places in town (open 7 days a weeks for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Crab Louie Salad and Spud Point Marina

20 Feb

There is nothing like freshly cooked Dungeness Crab, dipped in garlic butter! I also like to make a second dipping sauce from Mayonnaise, Lemon Juice and some Curry Powder. The flavors pair very well with the Crab and a simple shaved Fennel & Apple salad (tossed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Salt & Pepper), along with some crusty bread, can’t be beat. By the way, family members, please note for my “Last Supper”!

We wanted to cook up some live Dungeness Crab for dinner a few weekends ago, so took a drive out to Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay in Northern California. It’s just a few minutes north of Lucas Wharf. Lucky for us, Seafood Watch considers this type of crab sustainable and Paisano Brothers Fisheries had a holding tank full of them–being well into the season, we were surprised by the large size of 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. It’s a good idea to take an ice chest since they only have plastic garbage bags, which are easily punctured by their claws, making your trunk wet and possibly having them escape!

If you’re not up for cooking them yourself, Spud Point Crab Company is across from the Marina and serves Crab sandwiches and Clam Chowder, among other things.

We had plenty of leftover Crab, so I made a salad with a “Louie” style dressing (including Mayo, Sweet Pickle Relish, Ketchup, Lemon Juice, Chopped Capers).

Hopefully, we’ll do this again at least one more time this year! The season begins in Mid-November (perfect for a pre-Thanksgiving meal) and runs to June, but it’s best to get them in the winter months. Do you have a favorite Crab recipe to share?

Carne Crudo with Enoki Mushrooms & Black Truffle Bruschetta

7 Jan

This dish is from Manzo at Eataly in New York. It was one of the memorable dishes from my recent vacation and I feel it is worth blogging about for several reasons…it was beautifully plated, had an excellent combination of flavors, and for using Grass-fed Beef.

I had not previously heard of Piemontese Beef. It comes from a breed of cattle originally from the North-West region of Piemont in Italy, and considered among the best in the world for being especially tender and lower in fat.

I am a big proponent of Grass-fed Beef, especially after watching the video Food, Inc. (which I highly recommend),  and it’s my preference for the limited occasions when I eat Beef. As you probably know, Grass-fed Beef farms provide a more humane livestock system, a healthier human diet, less deadly E. coli, and elimination of feedlots that are filthy, require tons of antibiotics, and cruel to the animals. Manzo’s Razza Piemontese Beef is American-sourced, coming from Brewer Ranch in Miles City, Montana.

As usual, our preference was taking a seat at the counter rather than at a table, so we could watch the food being prepared and hopefully, get better service, which we did…the bartender was prompt, friendly and guided us in the right direction with his top recommendations.

I was quite surprised to see the meat for this Crudo being freshly ground up, right before our eyes, in the smallest, individual-size grinder that I’ve ever seen. I’m going to search for it and will put up a link in My Tasty Store when I find it (remember to check out My Tasty Store on the side bar of the blog when you’re viewing on a computer–unfortunately, it’s still not working well on mobile devices…it’s a project for the New Year!). The earthy flavors of Mushrooms and Black Truffles, together with the delicate Quail Egg Yolk, were divine.

We also enjoyed a Roasted Cauliflower and Romaine Salad with an Anchovy  Caper Vinaigrette. I will definitely be duplicating this salad at home!

Chef Michael Toscano, the former Sous-Chef of Mario Batali’s Babbo, definitely impressed me and I look forward to going back.

If you’d like to see some of the other dishes, here is a link to the Fall menu. Be prepared to get hungry!

What restaurant dish has given you inspiration to try at home?

Russ & Daughters – Pastrami Cured Smoked Salmon

1 Jan

Located in the Lower East Side of Manhanttan, Russ and Daughters Smoked Salmon can’t be beat! Luckily, they also ship and it is available to order online.

As expected, the place was packed on New Years Eve! But it was totally worth the wait to stand in line for some of their Pastrami Cured Smoked Salmon. This historic landmark offers about a dozen selections of smoked and cured Salmon, each with special characteristics, and as I was patiently waiting and debating in my mind, I thought the classic New York spices of Pastrami and Smoked Salmon had to be the winner!

There are recipes online for Gravlax or also Roasted Salmon with Pastrami spice rubs. I think Pastrami Salmon from Cookstr.com sounds pretty good, especially with the Potato Pancake and garnished with some Crème Fraîche. What are you eating to celebrate the New Year?

I wish all my readers, friends and family a Happy, Healthy and Delicious New Year!

Good Eats To Take On A Plane Trip

23 Dec

I recently found these cute little Mini Brie “Bites” from Trader Joe’s. They are perfect to throw in my bag and nibble with an apple once I get through security.

Traveling anywhere on a plane these days takes much longer than it should, so I never leave home without snacks. You never know when you’re going to get delayed by a flight being late, or even worse, cancelled!

Some of my favorite snack foods to carry are:

  • Nuts or seeds (or chocolate covered nuts…even better!)
  • Peanut butter sandwich crackers
  • A couple of tangerines (also good for squeezing or muddling into a drink) or an apple

Depending on the time of day or the length of the trip, sometimes a more substantial meal is necessary. If you freeze a 2 oz. tube of yoghurt, like Stonyfield Organic YoKid Squeezers, it can be placed in your bag of liquids. Once defrosted, squeeze into a paper cup or small container with a few tablespoons of granola.

If you travel for several days, instant oatmeal can be made using a coffee machine in your hotel room (mix it in the coffee pot and change the flavors by infusing the water with a tea bag like orange spice, and add some walnuts for a boost of protein). I always travel with a set of plastic utensils and some paper napkins…

Other quick and easy ideas for breakfast:

  • Whole grain tortilla with crunchy peanut or almond butter wrapped around a banana
  • Whole grain tortilla with smoked salmon and chive cream cheese (red onions optional)
  • Whole grain tortilla with avocado (mashed with a little green Tabasco sauce and lemon juice) and bacon
  • Leftover Vegetable Frittata or a fried egg and prosciutto or spinach in a whole wheat pita
  • Hard boiled egg

Easy ideas for lunch or dinner:

  • Panini with Charcuterie, slivered red peppers or zucchini and a hardy lettuce, spinach or chicory
  • Wraps using cabbage or escarole leaves with sliced turkey and cheese (mustard optional)
  • Chinese chicken salad using shredded cabbage (doesn’t get too wilted if you go light on dressing)
  • Pasta or Couscous salads

I always pack a few tea bags, which motivates me to keep hydrated, and I find that many herbal ones, like spearmint, can be steeped in cold water.

On a side note, if you have an iPad, the Scrabble App is a great way to kill time…a little pricey at 9.99 but worth it, in my opinion.

Bon Voyage and Merry Christmas!

Good Airport Food?

15 Oct

I know what you’re thinking…it sounds like an oxymoron, but I’ve tried Vino Volo on several occasions and I can honestly say it’s good!

They have about a dozen locations in airports (mostly on the West and East Coast). It’s a perfect place to relax while waiting for your flight to board, especially if you’ve experienced any stress getting to the airport on time or any aggravation getting through security (anyone?!).

My favorite dish is the small bowl of Ligurian Chickpea and Chorizo Chili. It definitely has a bit of heat, but a nice balance of flavors from the smokey Paprika and sweetness of diced tomatoes. I think it pairs nicely with a glass of Pinot Noir or Sparkling wine. On my last visit, there was no Sparkling wine on the menu, but when I asked if they had any by the glass, I was offered a choice of two–one of them was a J Sparkling Rose, made in the traditional mêthode champenoise…delicious!

Other menu items include Marcona Almonds, Mixed Greens with Vinaigrette, Brie and Prosciutto Sandwich with Fig Jam, and Braised Pork Tacos.

I will be posting more about food on the go, so I hope you’ll keep reading…and remember, you can also subscribe to the blog to get notified when there are new posts.

Flowers Vineyard & Winery On The Sonoma Coast

2 Oct

Yesterday, we took a drive up the Sonoma Coast, north of Jenner, to an event at Flowers Vineyard & Winery. This link has some photos that includes the typical coastal fog. We could barely see 15 feet in front of the car at times once we hit the top of the ridge! Needless to say, it was a slow drive, but worth it once we hit our destination.

The hosts were warm and welcoming the second we arrived and offered us some of their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir…we prefer Pinot so enjoyed a glass.

We also ate a few delectable Hog Island Oysters on the half shell…both raw and BBQ’d (the latter with a chipotle butter sauce). Yum!!