Category Archives: Ingredients

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 – 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 good…

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This Week’s Spontaneous Sauce – Cilantro Curry Dressing

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

It’s a brand new year. Like most people, I’m starting 2016 with the whispered mantra “I can do better”. I didn’t write much this month. I rationalized my procrastination by calling it a seasonal hiatus, but in truth I just didn’t think my holiday dishes were cutting edge or artful enough to make public. Instead of polishing up recipes for elegant gingerbread demi glace or cranberry quince relish, I made merry with friends and family, ate too many cookies, whipped up easy mid-week meals, and felt slightly ashamed that my concoctions would never be considered those of a “Sauce Master”. (That title change will forever get under my skin.) In 2016 I can do better, and the place to start is by crawling out of the food blogger’s pit of despair and stop confusing “better” with “more complicated”. I wrote my book to teach home cooks that the “right” way…

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This Week’s Spontaneous Sauce – Chanterelle and Bacon Pasta Sauce

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

It was Thanksgiving week,  so every time I opened the fridge in search of dinner inspiration I was faced with a wall of ingredients slated for other events. Things were a bit crazy. There were a lot of gravy-centric interviews on radio and TV. I can’t actually remember what I threw together for spontaneous midweek dinners – except for this magnificent chanterelle and bacon sauce. I had restocked my stash of chanterelle mushrooms last weekend because they were just too pretty and cheap to pass up. ($10.99 a pound I think. I’ve seen them for a lot less, but not this year.) Then I forgot about them. When I discovered them tucked away in their brown paper bag, I was thrilled. I grew up hunting chanterelles. Mom and Dad kitted us out in hiking boots, raincoat, compass, safety whistle, and our own special “mushroom knife” with a belt holster. We broke into…

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Stocks, fast and slow

By | Ingredients, Seasonal, Traditions | No Comments

  The biggest stock pot is on the stove today. It’s just barely burbling and the aroma of onions, chicken parts, and herbs is shifting from raw and sharp to sentimentally pleasing. I’ve been talking a lot about “new” stocks and infusions lately; doing interviews, writing articles, teaching classes, and insisting that great sauces do not require cauldrons of simmering bones as a starting point. I’m touting the value of quick “mock stocks” made with vegetable scraps, dried mushrooms, shrimp shells, yeast concentrates and virtually anything that will add complexity and depth to plain water. I’ve been actively urging people to try alternatives like 30 minute vegetable stocks flavored with non-traditional ingredients like eggplant, green beans, and corn cobs. The only savory dark brown stock I have referenced in months has been a vegan recipe from the book that takes two hours.  (And is spectacular!) Today’s stock is nothing like the…

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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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