Category Archives: Entertaining

This Week’s Spontaneous Sauce – Spicy Peanut Slaw Dressing

By | Books, Entertaining, Ingredients, Obsessions, People, Sauces, Seasonal | No Comments

The Seahawks ended their season on Sunday so our game day gatherings have come to an end. It was a fine finale. In addition to being an intense playoff match, it was Jeff’s birthday celebration. Of course, I obsessed about the food for far too long. I even asked for suggestions on Facebook. I wanted a special menu that catered to Jeff’s tastes, but was still suitable for eating in front of the big screen. Jeff’s birthday menus are always challenging. By mid-January we are sated with formal feasting and special event fare.  Now that we are doing the football thing, many of our favorite comfort foods have come and gone. It’s not quite time to usher in our Heart-Healthier February tradition. The trouble is that Jeff is a really nice guy who is perfectly happy with almost everything. My suggestions tend to be met with “Sure, that sounds good”. Ugh. “Perfectly happy” isn’t…

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This Week’s Spontaneous Sauce – Classic Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce

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

Seattleites have historically been fair weather sports fans. The Volland household falls squarely into that fickle camp. We LOVE to watch our teams when they are winning, but would rather do something else when they aren’t. Needless to say, we have rarely missed a Seahawks broadcast in three years. Part of the fun of being a newbie sports fan is game day meals. Fiddling with fresh ingredients during commercial breaks assuages a little of the guilt that comes with spending a weekend afternoon in front of the TV. I cook lots of simmered food in pots – chili, soups, and frijoles with nuggets of smoked pork. These are served with hot, black skillet cornbread, oatmeal biscuits, or corn tortillas. Occasionally I’ll do a Sunday ragu.  Japanese oden with hot mustard really hit the spot one particularly cold game day. Our equivalent of a baked potato or nacho bar tends to…

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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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Thanksgiving

By | Entertaining, People, Seasonal, Traditions | No Comments

As a food writer with a brand new book out, I’ve felt some pressure to make Thanksgiving a big deal this year. Several people have asked about my plans. I have shared a few favorite recipes and lots of gravy tips but I have resisted the urge to namedrop turkey farmers or pledge allegiance to certain cranberry varieties. That’s just not my style. Instead, I’m going to come clean. I’ll admit that my Thanksgivings are rarely the jaw dropping, camera-ready feasts you might expect from a food professional. I have my years, but more often than not, we join my husband’s family and have a very traditional menu. This year, alongside a few small slices of Butterball or Costco turkey, I will serve myself an oversized portion of green bean casserole, the kind made with canned French beans and Campbell’s mushroom soup. I may scoop some salty StoveTop stuffing straight…

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Cooking with Fire

By | Entertaining, Ingredients, Obsessions, People, Seasonal, Tools and Equipment, Traditions | No Comments

For roughly thirty years, my family has had an annual “Grape Stomp” where we pick and crush the fruit from an acre of vines planted in front of my parent’s Walla Walla home. The first grapes ripened just as I graduated from French culinary school so this event became my favorite performance stage. This year, I got the fire bug. We have cooked several of these meals in or over live fire. Once, we buried a bunch of stuff in a pit and covered them with grape must. Another year my friend, Doug Cooper, rigged a makeshift rotisserie using the churning mechanism from an old ice cream maker. We have spun legs of lamb suspended by tripods. People still talk about Scott Wellsandt’s incredible paellas. This year, I wanted very little fuss and lots of flexibility because there were very important considerations besides the food. This was our first party in…

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