Category Archives: Sauces

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 multi-leveled 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. Historically, my summer menus involve a whole lot of hungry friends and a new culinary obsession – there were summers of arepas, fried noodles, and smoked meats. This year, I have been magnetically drawn to the fresh foods of my childhood. Perhaps it is nostalgia for family now…

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Rediscovering Lemons (Chicken Picatta Recipe)

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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…

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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 – 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 – 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 – 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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