I have no idea where October and November went. October was an abnormally beautiful month in Seattle and I was thrilled that so much of our garden was still productive during official Fall. We spent lots of time outside, so I will attribute the lack of posts in October to being sun drunk. Some very dear friends moved to Hawaii just as I was returning from an amazing month in Maui. Another very dear friend recruited me to serve on the Board of a brand new creative arts non-profit and event space in Georgetown called The Trap. I had a bunch of dental work done. I made a ton of jam and chutney. We put in an offer for an investment property after months of searching for just the right place and having the first one fall through. The annual Casa Latina (I serve on the Board) gala was a smashing success and great time–we had a little bidding war with a nearby table and won a trip to Costa Rica! My dear friend Pierre paid us a visit and we had a ridiculously silly good time. November brought history-making elections. We acquired two new hens and had to end up butchering one of them; it was our first time doing it and quite the learning experience. I’m still an omnivore. Some good friends got married. We closed on the house the night before we left for New Mexico for ten days. Hanging out with my family and some great old-school friends was just what I needed to refresh. My mom and I made 13 dozen tamales after Thanksgiving, which I’ll post soon. I hunted down red and green chile like a crazed drug addict and finally got to spend some time in Santa Fé.
So now we are well into December and the holiday buzz and consumer rush and fears of the Mayan calendar ending brings us to Gougeres. These little French cheese puffs are like small popovers that disappear entirely too quickly…they are truly addictive and melt in your mouth. Perfect and easy little hors d’oeuvre, laced with gruyere and begging to be paired with some savory tomato jam or more cheese. An accompanying glass of sparkling wine is strongly recommended. These will get you into the holiday spirit while you think about all the happy mouths at your next party. Happy Holidays to you and yours!
I have become so Pacific Northwest. Special prize goes to the first person who can identify at least six quintessential PNW things about this post.
A few years ago, Dan suggested I try stinging nettles, a plant that rears up each spring and stings and irritates the skin of unsuspecting hikers and people generally not paying close enough attention. He claimed it was delicious, sorta like spinach. Having fallen victim to some of his not-so-successful food
adventures follies in the past, the short answer was “Nope”. He persisted, foraged some young leaves, and dried them out to make tea later. I was still not convinced. Every spring since then, it’s been “nettles this” and “nettles that”. I know they’re loaded with iron and vitamin A, but my lizard brain had issues eating something that obviously doesn’t even want to be touched.
My resolve was finally broken on April Fools Day after we participated in the Eat. Run. Hope. 5k event for Fetal Hope, put on by Ethan Stowell and Eastside Memorial Fetal Medicine. I’ll admit that when I registered, I was driven to do this 5k mostly for the food. Canlis, Volunteer Park Cafe, The Walrus and the Carpenter, Terra Plata, SAM Taste, Revel, Skillet, Golden Beatle, Marche, Via Trubunali and of course Ethan Stowell and Co. were among the restaurants offering small bites after the run. When April 1st arrived it was cold, windy and threatening to rain. We were both in the thick of that terrible, lingering cold going around that killed most of my appetite and turned a “5k run” into a “5k walk as fast as possible without passing out”. I was bummed that I couldn’t enjoy the food as thoroughly as I normally would have, but I was also graced with an epiphany: The only thing that tasted really good at that point was a creamy nettle soup that someone (Revel? Golden Beatle? I wasn’t paying close enough attention in my post-walk haze) offered up. It was perfection in a little compostable cup with a compostable spoon, topped with a few fried shallots and a small chive flower. Creamy but not heavy, earthy yet green at the same time, simple, sublime. Continue reading
If there was ever a dish that makes you feel like you’re getting a big, chesty hug from your favorite aunt, this is it. This gratin isn’t too heavy but it’s perfectly substantial, and can be paired equally well with lamb, salmon, or eggs for brunch. Fennel is one of the most overlooked perennial veggies out there, and I’m not quite sure why. It has a delicate anise flavor and is excellent raw in salad, roasted with root vegetables and garlic, or baked with potatoes and enveloped in a light béchamel wine sauce and Gruyère.
This is the perfect dish to make if you have a) some good bread on hand to toast and slather the eggs on, and b) fresh, organic, cage-free eggs with bright orange yolks calling your name. Individual ramekins allow you to cook each one in accordance to runniness preference.
Variations of this recipe call for cooking the ramekins in a water bath. I’ve never used this approach and they still turn out great. I like to use our toaster oven when cooking for just the two of us; it uses less energy and I can keep a close eye on the eggs so they don’t overcook.
Butter the inside of your single-serving ramekins
Break 2 eggs into each ramekin
Add 1 Tbsp heavy cream, salt and pepper, some fresh thyme and about 2 Tbsp grated parmesan or aged manchego
Bake in a 350 degree F oven. Runny yolks should be ready in about 5 minutes; cook a little longer if you like them more firm. Don’t cook too long–hard yolks are no fun.
Serve with buttered toast. Consider keeping chickens if you don’t already have them.
French toast is one of my favorite ways to experience that heavenly sweet-salty combo and it’s easy and perfect for a snow day brunch. I had brie and apples on hand, but pears and a slightly sharper cheese like a young manchego or mild cheddar would work equally well. A dollop of Pear Jam would also be delicious. Here’s my basic french toast recipe: Continue reading