Archive for the ‘What’s Fresh’ Category

Preserving The Harvest

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

I used to find the wild blackberries in my yard to be a nuisance.  The overgrowth was overwhelming.  Coming back inside with scratched and bloody arms was usually the end result of pulling out the invasive, indigenous vines.  This year, however, I decided to let them hang around a little longer and harvest the berries.  I managed to pick six quarts of luscious, ripe, juicy berries and made them into jam.  I managed close to 14 eight ounce jars of handmade blackberry jam.  I look forward to spreading it on Sunday morning biscuits and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches this Fall.

Nice Pair!(ing)

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Summer is here and it is definitely time to BBQ.  Most of the time when searing those succulent, viscid vittles, I am enjoying a beer.  However there are times when the perfect wine pairing will ratchet up the meal to an elegant level that transforms the patio into your own personal sidewalk cafe.  Here is a pairing to assist you with such an aesthetic.

Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breast served with a fresh peach relish paired with a Viogner (vee-oh-NYAY).

This medium bodied, acidic white wine from the Northern Rhône, is fruity and fragrant, with notes of peach, apricot, melon and apple.  The peach notes will be emphasized because of the relish, and the crisp, refreshing apple notes will compliment the grilled flavors quite nicely.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Lately, when I am browsing the produce stands, I am finding pale green beans.  If you are experiencing this same phenomenon, here’s a tip to bring out the vibrant, vivacious and vivid green color.

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and and a pinch of salt and about 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the water.  The baking soda will sweeten the water pulling out the natural sugars and pigment in the green beans.  Trim the stem and blanch in the water for about 3-4 minutes.  Shock them in an ice water bath until completely cool and save for the next day in a sealed container, if you aren’t eating them right away.

You will see an enormous change from doing the pale green beans in your steamer basket.

Erin Go Blah? Sod Off!

Monday, March 8th, 2010

St. Patrick’s Day, my favorite holiday, is upon us next week.  I am looking forward to the festivities and the FOOD!.  Believe it or not, Irish fare is not all bland, boiled or bromidic.  There are succulent and tasty flavors and preparations involved in Irish cuisine.  A St. Patrick’s Day menu I might prepare is as follows:

Apple-Parsnip Soup
served with Irish Soda Bread

Crab & Boile Salad
(Boile is a hand crafted goat’s cheese marinated in olive oil and herbs)

Bacon Wrapped Salmon
served with an apple-thyme cream

Bailey’s & Strawberry Fool
(a traditional whipped cream dessert)

All of this accompanied by a few pints of Guinness….the perfect meal.  Slainte!

SuperBowl (of soup)

Friday, February 5th, 2010

With Superbowl Sunday this weekend, the pinnacle of the tailgating season has arrived.  I thought this recipe would be an appropriate way to begin the festivities.

Amber Ale & Fontina Soup
Serves 6 / Serve with Amber Ale


1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 lb unsalted butter
1/2  of a 12 oz. bottle Amber Ale
1/2 lb Fontina cheese
1 qt. chicken stock
3 TBS flour
salt & white pepper to taste


Melt butter over medium heat.
Increase heat  & add onion & garlic. Saute until translucent.
Add flour & cook for about 2 minutes.
Add ale & cook for about 3 minutes.
Add stock, stir until incorporated.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low.
Fold in cheese in 2-3 parts.

Anniversary Dinner

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Last night my wife and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary, and we treated ourselves to a fine dining experience at The Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie Falls.  I choose to have a 5 course Chef’s Epicurean Tasting Menu provided by Chef de Cuisine Jack Strong.  Our server also suggested a wine flight with the meal and I was more than happy to accept.

I began with an amuse-bouche (amooze-boosh) of tuna tartare with lemon zest, chive oil, volcanic ash sea salt, garlic and cucumber; a wonderful way to start the evening.  That was followed by a Fall Squash and Apple Bisque with goats cheese creme brûlée paired with Nicolas Feuillatte, Champange, Brut, Epernay, France, MV.

I then had the Caramelized Onion and Fall Root Vegetable Buckwheat Tart paired with Basel Cellars, “Forget me not”, Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, WA, 2007.  This was followed thirdly by a Seared Scallop with braised fennel and a cranberry coulis paired with The Pines 1852, Pinot Gris, Columbia Gorge, OR, 2007.

We then were both given a Prickly Pear Sorbet to cleanse our palates and entice our taste buds for the tasty and titillating treats to come.

The entree was a Smoked Fallow Venison Strip Loin served with spaghetti squash, Full Circle Farms braising greens, local apples, pancetta and a Cascade huckleberry reduction.  Paired with Brazin, Zinfandel, “Old Vines”, Lodi, CA, 2006, it was the highlight of the meal for me.  I grew up eating venison with much regularity and the flood of memories that came rushing back with that first bite were most welcome on this happiest of occasions.

To finish of a truly delectable eventide, I was given the Twice-Baked Cheddar Souffle.  Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar, roasted mission figs and quince candied persimmon, paired with Château Ste. Michelle, “Reserve”, Late Harvest Semillon, Columbia Valley, 2000.  My wife opted for the Triple-Layer Coconut Cake; lime curd, coconut cream, pomegranate and coconut shards.  We were both elated with the finish to our meal and the personal touches showed a professionalism I truly appreciate, and am often critical of.

Hard To Port!!

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

I was out with some colleagues recently and we were dining at a tapas restaurant.  At the end of a wonderful meal, I decided dessert was in order.  I was browsing the dessert menu and saw there was a Port sampler.  I jumped at the chance to partake in three different varietals and was very glad I did so.

I started with a Porto Kopke 10 year old Tawny.  It was very robust and complex with a slightly sweet finish…a great start.  Next, I partook in a Porto Barros 20 year old Tawny.  This was even more dynamic in that the oaky notes were very noticeable, but in great balance with the rest of the flavors.  A wonderful dried cherry flavor was at the finish and was a great compliment to the hazelnut truffle I was eating.  Lastly, I had a Porto Rocha 1977.  Wow!  This perfectly aged Ruby was delightful.  It brought a perfect balance to the dark chocolate truffle it was paired with, and was by far the best of the three.

It had been quite some time since I had finished a meal with a dessert wine, and I am glad I did.  I have a renewed enthusiasm for Port and will be finding any way to incorporate it into my meals at home.

Dinner Made (and grown) With My Own Two Hands

Monday, October 5th, 2009

I just made a humble dinner for my wife that consisted of beef tenderloin, steamed broccoli, and baby russet potatoes.  I grew the potatoes in my garden and harvested them last week.  I was disappointed with the amount from the harvest, but very satisfied with the flavor.  They were small, but had all of the character I was hoping for.  But I have to say, knowing that I grew them was the most rewarding.

It’s The Simple Things

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

I was in my garden this morning, which has been decimated by the heat, and the things that are left have really caught my eye.  I picked a tomato that is vine ripened, and there are a few small jalapeño peppers that look wonderful.  My potatoes and carrots are doing well, but other than that….

So for my lunch today, I will more than likely have a sandwich with that tomato from my garden and I will enjoy every bite. Simple, but satisfying.

Dude, Massive Herbage!

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

I was weeding my garden the other day, and I am rather pleased with the results…Especially the herbs! I have a large amount of thyme, oregano, lavender and mint.  The mint I use on a regular basis and I am not too concerned with thinning it.  The others, however, are truly out of control. If you are having similar issues with your herb garden, you can cut it back and thin in out, but what to do with all of the lush, perfumed harvest.

One thing I do, is bundle them together with some kitchen string at the stems, and hang them to dry. After about two months, you can then pick the dried leaves and store them in a jar to use throughout the winter.

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