Friday, June 22, 2012

Look! It's Summer! I think....

You wouldn’t know it by looking out my window.  Today, the first full day of summer, it was barely 60 degrees and POURING rain. 

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah….it’s Seattle, I know.  But it’s Pride weekend!  It’s not supposed to rain on Pride! 

Even if the weather isn’t summer-like, there are things going on around town that signal the coming of the season.

Pride weekend, of course.  Happy Pride to all the Family out there! 

The most exciting thing that has signaled the arrival of the solstice is the coming of the farmers’ markets.  Here in Shoreline, we finally have our own market!!  And it’s just a couple of blocks from our house!!!!

Last weekend was the first weekend.  Since it has been fairly cool this year, there weren’t many produce stands up last Saturday.   But there were signs up saying that we should see a full complement this weekend. 

We started getting a weekly produce box from a local service, but now that we have a market so close, we may bag the box, at least for the summer. 

Still, between the two, the market and the box, we made some really killer dinners this week.

From the box, we had some chard and green beans and a red bell pepper.  From the grocery store, we got a box of heirloom mini tomatoes.  I tossed those in some olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, then roasted the hell out of them. 

I took that lovely mess of roasted veg, tossed it with some pasta and some extra special olive oil (purchased from the Edmonds market last summer) and voila!  Dinner!

It was so good it made me want to cry.  Everything was fresh and gorgeous.  We feasted!

The other great thing about last weekend was when N suggested we get chicken for lunch on Saturday.  We went to Heaven Sent Chicken in Lake City, owned and operated by Ezell Stephens.  (If you go somewhere called Ezell’s these days, it is not a restaurant owned by the name himself.  After some legal ugliness, he let them keep the name and went somewhere else to keep making chicken.) 

Not only did N suggest we get chicken, she suggested we get chicken livers.  Which you can get at Heaven Sent.  It’s a special order…takes about 7 minutes…and it is worth the wait!

While I prefer my chicken livers fried with less batter on them, I couldn’t argue that these were very tasty.  They were a little overcooked…like maybe the oil in the fryer was a little too hot.  But there aren’t a lot of places in town were you can get fried chicken livers (I know of one other place, if it is even still open).  And the crunch of the crust and the creamy funk of the liver…I was in heaven!! 

Quick wine note: the Jones of Washington Cabernet Sauvignon is a perfect pairing with those livers. 

I got a pound of livers and we ate half for lunch.  Then we had the other half with the fabulous pasta and roasted veg for dinner the next night. 

There was one more really exciting thing we got at the market.  We had long been curious about the beef and pork sellers.  And these guys were having a special, so we got a 3 pound chuck roast and two 2-pound packages of ground beef.  Local, grass-fed beef. 

We did as they suggested and cooked the roast in the crock pot.  Wow.  Just…wow.  This was the most flavorful piece of chuck I have ever had.  I could definitely taste the difference. 

We’re looking forward to grilling some burgers when the weather clears up.  I bet that’s gonna be some really tasty burgers. 

I hope the weather is decent enough for us to walk to the market.  I’m looking forward to seeing what else they have in store for us. 

Oh!  Before I forget, we also got some sweets from a small bakery business called Butter and Love.  Love the name…loved the treats.  We got a couple of whoopie pies, which were delicious. I could taste both the butter and the love in those treats! 

This week, we are going to go a little later and buy some lunch.  The restaurant up the street, Jersey’s, has a stand.  There was also a place that was making fresh quesadillas with locally sourced meat, cheese and veg. 

So, come on over to Shoreline if you have the urge.  Meet us at the farmers’ market.  Get some local color and then take it home and eat it. 

As summer truly arrives, I’ll be watching for strawberries, apricots and other fruits for the making of the jam, a time-honored summer tradition in my family.

Happy Solstice, Happy Pride, Happy Summer!  May the blessings of the season grace your table often.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Rare Bit for a Bunny

I love cooking for my friends.  And every once in a while, one of them asks me to make something for them.  These rare requests are like gold, because they usually take me into new culinary territory. 

Recently, one of my dearest friends tagged me in a post on Facebook and asked me to learn how to make something because she only gets it once a year, she loves it and she wants to have it more often. 

The picture she sent was of great slabs of bread smothered in cheese sauce and broiled until the tops were golden and bubbly, sprinkled with a bit of parsley for color. 

Welsh rarebit, my friends, is my next culinary adventure. 

Also called Welsh rabbit (but, I would imagine, never by the Bunny), this dish is of questionable origins.  One legend states that the dish was conceived by poor Welsh folk who were not allowed to eat the rabbits from the English hunt, so they came up with this bread and cheese sauce concoction instead. 

Like they couldn’t tell the difference? What a crock!

Per the Wikipedia article, “the first recorded use of the term Welsh rabbit was in 1725, but the origin of the term is unknown.  It may have been an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor: only better-off people could afford meat.  In England the poor-man’s meat was rabbit, in Wales the poor man’s meat was cheese.” 

This I might actually buy. 

As I looked at some recipes, a couple of things crossed my mind. 

First, why had I never had this?  It’s cheese sauce and bread!  What’s not to love??

Second, for someone who doesn’t drink beer, this will be one more thing that I will probably love that contains beer. 

Some recipes call for the sauced slices of bread to be broiled, some just tell you to ladle the sauce over pieces of toast and enjoy.  Some call for beer, some don’t.  Some call for a b├ęchamel base, some don’t.

At its heart, though, it is melted cheese stabilized with some flour and butter, thinned with some milk or cream (or beer) and served with bread.  Remind you of anything?

Let’s face it, people.  Welsh rarebit is really lazy man’s fondue. 

What is fondue at its most basic?  Cubes of bread dipped in melty cheese sauce (stabilized with some flour and thinned with beer or wine).  But it’s kind of fussy, isn’t it?  You have to cut up all that bread.  You have to have something to keep the cheese sauce warm so that you can dip your bread into it.  But the Welsh rarebit way, you just put it all on a plate and dig in.  And you don’t have to share a communal pot of cheese with people you may not like.  You get your own plate, your own cheese sauce.  You can even lick the plate if you want to.  Not something I would recommend you do with a fondue pot. 

And now it all makes sense.  Why my friend asked me to learn how to make this dish.  We all know Bunny loves fondue.  So of course she would love Welsh rarebit, too. 

So, dear Bunny, I am looking at recipes to choose one to make for you soon.  We just have to figure out when.  :o)

Because there are few things in this world that make me happier than feeding my friends.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

It's not's fruit and cake.

Sometimes you get a suggestion from a friend that sounds so fascinating that, even though you’ve never eaten it before, you have to try it.

N came home one evening telling me that one of the gals on her team gave her a recipe for something she called yogurt pudding.  Plain yogurt, dried apricots, eggs, a little flour, a little sugar, maybe some sour cream. 

I was intrigued.  But I didn’t take a look at the recipe. 

I imagined something cooked in a saucepan on the stove, the eggs and flour thickening and smoothing the yogurt to make it, well, like pudding.  Then you put in the chopped apricots and chill. 


Not at all. 

It would be accurate to say that this is pudding in the British sense.  It is dessert.  And it even might be kind of healthy. 

You start with plain yogurt, lots of chopped dried apricots, a couple of eggs, some flour, a little sugar.  Mix that all together, put it in a greased baking dish and bake it until the center gets puffy. 

Let me repeat that last part. 

You BAKE it until the center gets puffy. 

It’s a cake!!

Granted, it’s not a cake that a Bunny would eat because it has fruit in it, but it’s definitely a cake. 

Dense, creamy, tangy, sweet, chewy…it’s a feast for the senses. 

You can top it with sour cream before you bake it, which I recommend.  The sour cream keeps it from being too sweet. 

The recipe was given to us because the giver thought our son might like it.  He didn’t want to try it.  But N and I have been enjoying it all week.  It’s a great snack or it would make an awesome breakfast.  It’s solid enough that you could eat it on the go…no fork required. 

Now my brain is thinking of different ways to do this.  I already want to add dried tart cherries, because I love dried cherries.  We won’t be doing raisins, because, well, someone in the house doesn’t believe in raisins with baked goods.  And I respect that.  Maybe some dried blueberries or strawberries.  Or mango, maybe with a tiny pinch of curry. 

Not only is this dish really good, but it is ripe for transformation.  And that is something that makes a recipe more fascinating every time you try it. 

Thanks for stopping by!  Y’all have a good weekend!