Category Archives: Dishes

A Summer of Simplicity

By | Cooking Outdoors, Dishes, Ingredients, Local, Obsessions, People, Sauces, Seasonal, Traditions | No Comments

Last year was complicated. For the first time in my life, words actually escaped me. I spent a lot of time holed-up indoors, anxiously awaiting emergency phone calls. I stayed productive, searing mountains of meat and poultry and draping them in various sauces. I finished my newest book, Pan Sauces (Scheduled to be released by W.W. Norton in August 2018) and I regularly chastised myself for not updating my website. Then I let it go. That was the right decision. This summer my circumstances have changed. I feel bright and hopeful, and my sauces have been similarly fresh and simple: vinaigrettes, dressings, and coulis.  Perhaps it is nostalgia for family now gone, but I have been magnetically drawn to the seasonal foods of my childhood. My iron kettles have been filled and emptied of clams. Dozens of oysters have been grilled and slathered with spicy garlic butter. For the first time in…

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Rediscovering Lemons (Chicken Picatta Recipe)

By | Dishes, Ingredients, Obsessions, Sauces, Seasonal | No Comments

The Pacific Northwest is not citrus country. I’m going to use that as my excuse for gradually forgetting about lemons. The lemons at my local supermarket tend to be lousy: underripe and rock hard or dry, leathery, and tired. At nearly $2 a pop, they are rarely a temptation…until now. Earlier this month, I went to LA for a conference and skipped classes on Sunday morning to explore the Hollywood Farmer’s Market. It was citrus heaven. I fondled tiny tangerines, compared the heft of orange varieties, and practically snorted the grapefruit. The aromas, samples, and prices were outstanding. I devoured what I could on site, and managed some remarkable restraint by limiting my purchases to only what I could carry in my purse. The idea that citrus, pomegranates, and avocados can actually grow in backyards instills in me a wonder that I suppose visitors to this region feel about our pears…

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This Week’s Spontaneous Sauce – Shallot and Cream Sherry Beurre Blanc

By | Dishes, Entertaining, Obsessions, Sauces, Seasonal | No Comments

Today’s cooks are clearly eager to learn about fresh, seasonal, and healthy sauces, but over the past few weeks I have been reminded that people still LOVE butter sauces. I rarely make them but this weekend we had a birthday celebration for my friend, Mark, so I decided to splurge. Mark and another dear friend, Kris, grew up in families with Scandinavian roots. When they get together around the holidays, they often share buttery tales: Mom spread butter on her chocolate cake, Grandma refused her buffet plate of lutefisk until the fish and potatoes were visibly swimming in it, entire cubes of butter were the norm just unwrapped and plopped on the top of steaming green vegetables. I’m sure my mish-mash of European ancestors were also butter lovers, but Mom and Dad were partial to green vegetables seasoned with vinegar or soy sauce. I felt almost giddy when I decided, at…

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This Week’s Spontaneous Sauce – Cider and Sage Pan Sauce

By | Dishes, Ingredients, Local, Obsessions, Sauces, Seasonal | No Comments

I’ve always loved cider. Squat brown bottles of Canadian cider were always tucked in among the beer during our summer vacations. I drank more pints in London pubs than I probably should have. Over the years I turned my back on cider and my eyes wandered to our sexy local craft beers, but I’m thrilled that good, local ciders are back and demanding attention. They are far too good to forsake. I’m searing a lot these days – testing out temperatures and surfaces, but I’m not yet ready to lock in recipes until I can explain what is going on in the pans. That means I’ve got good pan residue that I can spontaneously deglaze with whatever is handy. Cider has been handy, apples are handy and I have a giant shrub of purple sage that is always calling out for attention. No doubt this recipe will be tested and improved…

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Okonomiyaki – Osaka Pancakes

By | Dishes, Ingredients, Obsessions, Sauces | No Comments

Okonomi = as you like it. Yaki = cooked or grilled.  How can you help becoming obsessed with such a dish? I currently want to eat these Osaka-style cabbage pancakes at every meal. My first few attempts at home were not great. Cabbage in crepe-ish pancake batter does not an okonomiyaki make. I tried some Korean panjeon mix and that was even worse.  Finally, I called in an expert; Mayu Jensen. Mayu is married to Jeff’s cousin, Tim Jensen. Tim has lived in Japan for nearly 30 years.  After a successful career in the Tokyo rock and roll industry, they moved to a traditional mountain house in Nagano. They visit every holiday season and sometimes tack on a little extra time because paper walls make for brutal winters. This year, while Tim and Jeff re-ignited their childhood slot-car rivalry, Mayu and I went to our excellent Japanese supermarket, Uwajimaya. She patiently listened as I explained…

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Great Grandma’s Pickles

By | Dishes, Obsessions, People, Preserving, Seasonal, Traditions | No Comments

My ancestors were a colorful bunch, but they were not cooks. My Grandma’s grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches and brownies were spectacular. Since we liked them so much, and we only visited her for a week in the summers, that’s all she would make us – for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Inheriting three collections of treasured, sticky recipes tucked into  boxes and books seemed like a goldmine. Unfortunately 99% of them called for boxes of JellO, canned condensed soup, and/or Crisco. The only decent cook on either side was my Mother’s Grandmother, Catherine Miller. She was a first generation German/Russian immigrant who came to Washington near the turn of the 20th century. I remember her as a tiny woman with thin dresses and a thick accent. Mom had a few fond memories of rustic cabbagey and noodley dishes, but all I ever remember tasting at her house was second hand…

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