Monday, May 30, 2011

Peach Cobbler

Does anything conjure up summer like the taste of warm peaches? Since June is around the corner, I am ready for warm, lazy days. We are still chilly in Seattle, so in an effort to satisfy my increasing (premature, I know!) summer cravings I am making peach cobbler.

This is not a traditional cobbler, more of a clafouti cousin. Frozen peaches are necessary right now since it’s not peach season yet, but when fresh are available choose those. The edges of the cobbler bake into a buttery crisp and the middle is soft peach bliss. This is best served the day it is baked, preferably right out of the oven with a dollop of crème fraiche or softly whipped cream. Indulge in an early bite of summer!

Peach Cobbler
Serves 8

2 ¼ pounds ripe peaches, pitted and cut into ¼ inch slices (or defrost unsweetened, organic frozen peaches)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can also use all-purpose flour or a mix of both)
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Crème fraiche or whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, stir peaches, lemon juice and sugar together and set aside. Drop butter into a 9x13 baking dish and put in the oven to melt. Remove when melted.

In another mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, milk and cinnamon just until combined. Pour the batter over the butter (do not stir), then pour the peaches and any juices over the batter (do not stir).

Bake until the cobbler is bubbling and the top is golden, 30-35 minutes. Serve with crème fraiche or whipped cream.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Deviled Eggs (aka Dev-aiolied Eggs?)

Ok, before we get to the deviled eggs, it's time to tell you about the source of my eggs: my three girls, my beautiful, fluffy, sweet girls who rush to see me when the back door opens and peck at my toes.

Last July, we went on the City Chicken Coop Tour in Seattle and were smitten by the hens we saw. Backyard chickens had been on our mind for quite some time. Six years ago our family debated the virtues of getting chickens versus a second dog. A second dog won out and Boots (a Dachshund-Chihuahua mix) joined Augie (a Dachshund) in our family. Boots and Augie are a wonderful pair of pups so it was a terrific decision.

Fast forward five years and the hankering for fresh eggs in our backyard persisted. After going on the tour and viewing gorgeous coops, we got to work. The baby chick season is roughly March, April and May, so we had missed our window to get local chicks from a feed store. Instead, our lovely ladies were ordered online and came in the mail! We got a call from the post office to pick them up when they arrived. The post office was quite loud with little cheeps… apparently two other families had ordered chicks, as well. We opened our box, and this is what we saw:

At home, we set up a brooder in our garage which is where the girls lived for five weeks while they grew and feathered enough to be outside. Beach chairs were set up around our “chicken stadium” and we sipped wine and visited with guests while admiring our adorable balls of fluff.

They did not remain fluff balls for long, though. Chickens are fast growers and before we knew it we had three hens! In January, they began laying eggs and can I tell you the joy I feel every time I gather one of their perfect, warm eggs? I just marvel at Mother Nature. And the flavor of the eggs? Nothing compares. They provide endless entertainment out the kitchen window, too. Best of all, Boots and Augie roam freely with them.

Meet our girls, Bess, Eleanor, and Ladybird:

Now back to the deviled eggs!

Deviled Eggs (aka Dev-aiolied Eggs)
Serves 6

I wanted to create a little color contrast between the egg whites and aioli on top, so added some tomato paste to the filling. If you have any aioli leftover from the Roasted Tomato Fritters, this is a great way to use it since you do not need much.


1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups grapeseed oil
1/4 cup olive oil

Egg Filling:

6 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoons aioli, plus extra to top eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 garlic clove, mashed
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chives, minced, plus extra for garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic and salt together. Add the grapeseed oil slowly and whisk quickly to incorporate. Next whisk in the olive oil, slowly adding and incorporating. Makes 1 cup. You will have aioli leftover from this recipe, so save the extra to enjoy with grilled veggies, fish or Roasted Tomato Fritters.

Peel the hardboiled eggs and slice in half lengthwise. Arrange the whites on a serving platter. In a small bowl, mash the egg yolks. Add the aioli, lemon juice, tomato paste, garlic, paprika, chives, salt and pepper and mix until smooth.

Spoon the egg filling into a small ziploc bag and snip a tiny hole in one corner. Pipe the filling into the egg whites.

Spoon a little bit of aioli into another small ziploc, snip the corner and squeeze little dollops on top of eggs. Garnish with reserved chives and serve.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Roasted Tomato Fritters with Aioli

Who doesn't love a fritter? Memorial Day weekend is approaching and I'm thinking of a yummy appetizer that can be served at your barbecue. I don't know if we'll have barbecue weather in Seattle... lots of rain forecasted. But we can still celebrate and eat some tasty bites. Aioli is wonderful to dip in and tomatoes always go well with it.

Roasting tomatoes gives them a whole new depth and sweetness. Roast some extra to keep in your refrigerator to add to salads or grain dishes. I am playing around with different flours these days, so decided to try barley flour which gives a nutty sort of flavor. You could also use spelt, whole wheat pastry, white flour or a mix of these.

Roasted Tomato Fritters
Makes 24 small fritters

2 pints cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for frying
1 cup barley flour
1/4 cup chives, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the cherry tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread on baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes for about 45 mintues, until they are split and starting to shrivel.

In a mixing bowl, scrape the tomatoes in with their juices. Add the flour and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix well and mash the tomates into the mixture. Stir in the chives, salt and pepper.

Set a medium sized fry pan over medium high heat to warm. Add a drizzle of olive oil, then drop teaspoon sized dollops of the fritter dough onto the pan. Flatten slightly and fry until golden brown. Turn the heat down to medium if they are getting dark too soon. Flip and fry the other side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil. Serve with the aioli for dipping (recipe follows).

Aioli (adapted from

1 egg yolk, room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups grapeseed oil
1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk the egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic and salt together. Add the grapeseed oil slowly and whisk quickly to incorporate. Next whisk in the olive oil, slowly adding and incorporating. Makes 1 cup

Monday, May 23, 2011

Independent Pizzeria

Last night, the kids went to see Pirates of the Caribbean 4 so Bob and I took the opportunity to wander the Madison Park neighborhood and check out a new place to eat. Well, new to us... Independent Pizzeria opened a little over a year ago and it's been on my "let's try" list. When I first read about this new pizza place, I must admit I was disappointed to learn it was going to be located in the space occupied by Impromptu Wine Bar Cafe. We had spent some lazy, summer evenings at Impromptu enjoying drinks and tasty appetizers and had looked forward to more visits. Oh well...I do love good pizza, so trying Independent Pizzeria was inevitable.

The small space is cozy and we sat in the corner on a leather couch with a coffee table. It was bustling with diners and folks waiting for take out orders. Our server informed us of the long wait for pizzas due to all the orders but we were not in a hurry and relaxed; I enjoyed a glass of Prosecco. We shared an olive plate and the mixed salad while we waited and the salad was quite large and satisfying. It had tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms and Mama Lil's peppers and was dressed with a very nice garlicky vinaigrette.

When our Florentine pizza arrived I fully intended to take a photo for you, but we dug in so quickly I forgot! The crust was a delicious combination of crusty and chewy and nicely charred. The pie was topped with tomato, spinach, mozzarella, grana, ricotta and a soft egg (loved the egg!). It was well worth the wait.

Independent Pizzeria has a comfy, neighborhood feel and is a great addition to Madison Park. The service is attentive and the food well prepared. I plan to return and hope it will be on a warm, sunny evening so we can sit outside in the small patio area. Here in Seattle we have to grab all the outdoor time we can!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Roasted Rhubarb and Mango Salad

Isn't rhubarb beautiful? Its lovely crimson color brightens up a dish and adds a distinct deliciousness. Since it's spring and rhubarb is in abundance, I decided to try using it in a savory way (not that there's anything wrong with rhubarb custard pie, quite the contrary!). I wanted to balance the tart with some sweet, though, and mangoes came to mind. The result is a very fresh, flavorful and pretty salad. We had the added bonus last night of enjoying the salad on a sunny evening. Love it!

Roasted Rhubarb and Mango Salad
Serves 4 generously

3/4 pounds rhubarb, diced in 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 mangoes, diced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
2 avocadoes, diced
4 ounces pistachios, toasted
1 head butter lettuce
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the rhubarb, 1 tablespoon olive oil and honey in a bowl. Spread evenly on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for about 8-9 minutes until soft but still holding its shape. Set aside to cool.

In a large salad bowl, tear up the head of butter lettuce. Add the mangoes, green onions, avocadoes, pistachios and cooled rhubarb.

In a covered glass jar or small bowl, shake or whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, mint, salt and pepper together until emulsified.

Toss salad with dressing and serve.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Syttende Mai!

That's Happy May 17th, which is the Norwegian Constitution Day. It is a national holiday filled with parades, flag waving, traditional dress, marching bands and, of course, food! Here in Seattle, the Ballard neighborhood will have a day full of festivity including a traditional Norwegian luncheon, children's crafts, outdoor entertainment with dancing and singing and a parade that draws thousands of viewers.

In 2005-2006, we hosted an exchange student from Oslo, a delightful girl named Maren. She was a senior in high school at the time. We learned about many wonderful Norwegian delicacies from Maren, such as Karamellpudding (caramel pudding), Blotkake (whipped cream cake) and Lefse (a kind of thick crepe).

I am thinking about Maren and missing her, so Norwegian food is on the menu today. One of my favorite dishes is Risgrot, rice porridge. It is a bowl full of warmth and yumminess. A few simple ingredients and some time stirring and it's ready.

Rice Porridge based on notes from Maren (serves 3-4)

2/3 cup rice (can use short or long grain)
1 2/3 cups water
3 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
butter and cinnamon to top, if desired

Combine rice and water in a saucepan over medium high heat and then reduce heat to simmer until most of the water is absorbed. Pour in the milk, return to higher heat and cook until rice is tender and the porridge is thickened (about 20 minutes). Stir often so it does not stick. Serve with butter and cinnamon.

If you have any rice porridge leftover, you can make rice pancakes.

Rice Pancakes adapted from Norwegian Cooking, edited by Bjarne Hakon Hanssen
Makes 12 4-inch pancakes

1 1/4 cups cold rice porridge
3 eggs
3 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
butter for pan
berries and sour cream for serving

Place all ingredients except the butter, berries and sour cream in a food processor and process until smooth. Let the batter sit for 15 mintues. Melt a little butter in a non stick pan and drop scant 1/4 cups of batter in. Flip when the surface begins to look dry (they are delicate, so flip gently). Serve warm, with berries and sour cream.

I wish I had a photo to share with you, but before I could get a good picture the pancakes had been devoured by my boys. So, imagine a stack of thin golden pancakes with raspberries and blueberries layered between and a dollop of sour cream on top. Take it from me, a mouth watering sight.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goodies in Lake City

How many times have you driven past this little place on Lake City Way in Seattle? (Not many for you non-Seattlites, I'm sure!)

For me, many a time, and I was always intrigued by the sign saying "Mediterranean Market" so I finally paid a visit. It was well worth it and I wish I had ventured in here a long time ago. I had mistakenly thought that the little open air produce area was the extent of the market.

Wrong! There is an entire store beyond it full of goodies (a well named spot).

I met the friendly owner, Jay, who is originally from Lebanon. We had a lovely chat and I learned about the produce that arrives every Friday. Produce like green plums, loquats, fresh grape leaves, Persian cucumbers, and check out these fresh green almonds...

I will be venturing in often to check out the bounty. His shelves are lined with olives, dates, coffee, stuffed grape leaves, Turkish delight, dried apricots, tea, a variety of pastas, grains, nuts, seeds, beans and spices. In the chilled section, there are cheeses such as feta, halloumi and labne. If you like pastry and bread, there are frozen bourekas and fresh pitas. Jay makes his own signature green sauce plus hummus and baba ghanouj and shared samples with me. Yum! He also imports a number of Israeli products such as a fresh tasting tomato sauce, date syrup and pickles.

Stop by for some delicious ingredients and say hello to Jay or one of his sons. Goodies Mediterranean Market & Produce is located at 13721 Lake City Way NE in Seattle.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Strawberry Cake

When strawberries begin showing up in the grocery stores and at farmer's markets, you know spring has really arrived. Years ago, my younger son, Isaac, requested a strawberry cake for his birthday. Not strawberry shortcake or angel food cake with strawberries, but a fresh strawberry cake. I thought this a delicious idea! What better way to celebrate a birthday than with strawberries? A very happy thought. Fortunately, he has a spring birthday so this can be made. I searched for cake recipes containing strawberries but did not love the options I found. I took a few different recipes and started to play around with them...always a fun venture.

Over the years, I've tweaked and modified the cake (Isaac asks for it every year) and what has emerged is a lovely, fresh, light strawberry cake we all enjoy.

Strawberry Cake (makes one 2-layer cake)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cup sifted cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh strawberry puree (made by whizzing fresh strawberries in food processor)
1/2 cup milk
5 egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix well. Mix in the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the strawberry puree and milk in a bowl, then add to the cake batter. With clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, then divide batter between the two pans. Bake for 17 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes. Frost with Strawberry Frosting.

Strawberry Frosting:
1/2 cup fresh strawberry puree (whiz those berries again)
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the strawberry puree, flour and milk in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring all the time. Let cool. Cream the butter and beat in the cooled strawberry mixture. Beat in salt and powdered sugar until it is spreadable. Stir in vanilla. Makes enough frosting for a 2-layer cake.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Crumble and Kale

Have you checked out Heidi Swanson's latest cookbook, Super Natural Every Day? It is a treat. First of all, the photos are lovely and inspire me to make every recipe in the book. Also, the ingredients she uses are fresh and simple.

When exploring a new cookbook, I usually begin with a sweet and a savory from it. The sweet I chose was the Tutti-Frutti Crumble and it did not disappoint. The poppy seeds are an innovative addition to the crumble topping. I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9x13 which worked out well. I did not double the sugar, though, since I've been cutting sugar down or out since reading this article. I was drinking sparkling wine while baking so that replaced the Beaujolais wine.

Served with softly whipped cream, the crumble was a hit at the Shabbat dinner we shared with friends.

Tutti-Frutti Crumble from Super Natural Every Day (serves 8)

3/4 cup spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup natural cane sugar
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted
1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 cup Beaujolais wine

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8 inch square baking dish.

To make the crumble, mix together the flour, poppy seeds, oats, sugar and salt in a bowl. Use a fork to stir in the melted butter. Divide the mixture into three portions and use your hands to form three patties. Place the patties in the bowl and freeze for at least 10 minutes, or until ready to bake.

Make the filling by whisking together the cornstarch and sugar in a large bowl. Ad the raspberries, strawberries, cherries and currants and toss until evenly coated. Wait 3 minutes, add the Beaujolais and toss again.

Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish. Remove the topping from the freezer and crumble it over the filling, making sure you have both big and small pieces.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is deeply golden and the fruit juices are vigorously bubbling. Let cool a little before serving.

Now for the savory! I am a huge fan of kale and always looking for new ways to feed it to my sometimes skeptical family (ask them about my fennel phase...). Heidi Swanson's Kale Salad looked promising since it is basically kale chips tossed with coconut and soy sauce. So simple, yet unique and tasty.

I left out the sesame oil she calls for since one of my family members is not a fan. The result? The whole family chomping kale and saying, "This is the best kale ever!" between bites. Thank you, Heidi!

Kale Salad from Super Natural Every Day (serves 4)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons shoyu or soy sauce
3 1/2 lightly packed cups chopped kale, stems trimmed and large ribs removed
1 1/2 cups unsweetened large flake coconut
2 cups cooked farro or other whole grain (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, sesame oil and shoyu. Put the kale and coconut in a large bowl and toss well with about two-thirds of the olive oil mixture.

Spread the kale evenly across a baking sheet. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until the coconut is deeply golden brown, tossing once or twice along the way.

Remove from the oven and transer kale mixture to a bowl. Taste. If you feel it needs a bit more dressing, add some and toss. If using farro, place on a serving platter and top with the tossed kale. Serve warm.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Spring in Seattle

Is there anything more lovely than seeing flowers bloom?

And spring vegetables emerge?

This morning Bob and I strolled the Pike Place Market and enjoyed the signs that spring is finally arriving in Seattle.

We tasted juicy samples of peaches, melon and apple, and loaded a bag with ramps, fiddlehead ferns, morel mushrooms ($59.50/lb!), peaches, red butter lettuce, blue kale, radishes and dill. As we continued our walk I began thinking of what to cook when we got home. Tomorrow is Mother's Day, so a brunch dish is in order.

We also popped in at Penzey's to stock up on cocoa powder, Vietnamese cinnamon and vanilla. Penzey's arrived in Seattle last October and is ideally located a couple blocks from the Market. I'm delighted to be able to shop in the store and not order online anymore.

Once home, I went to work creating a brunch dish for Mother's Day. The morel mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns seemed like an appealing pair. Since this is my first time cooking with fiddleheads, I read about trimming the dark ends, blanching and then sauteeing the ferns. They are funky looking and the texture reminds me of asparagus, which lead me to think of hollandaise sauce. A twist on the traditional Eggs Benedict began to evolve...

Our three backyard hens lay eggs with the most gorgeous yolks and I'm always happy to have a new way to showcase them. After preparing the fiddleheads and sauteeing the morels in butter, I turned to Jane Grigson's Good Things for a hollandaise guideline and stirred up a lemony sauce. A quick dip of a fiddlehead into the hollandaise confirmed it is a good match. Very important to taste as you go. I poached a few eggs and Fiddlehead and Morel Eggs Benedict was ready for my tasting crew!

Fiddlehead and Morel Eggs Benedict

2 1/2 ounces morel mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
7 ounces fiddlehead ferns
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water
3 egg yolks
4 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon white vinegar
4 large eggs
salt to taste

Soak morel mushrooms in a bowl of cold water and swish around to clean. Drain and quarter lengthwise (or if large, slice in half, too). Melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter in small saute pan and add mushroom. Saute on medium heat until soft (about 3-4 minutes). Set aside.

Rinse fiddlehead ferns and trim the dark ends of them. Blanche in salted water for 2 minutes and drain. Heat olive oil in saute pan (can use the same one from the mushrooms) and saute fiddleheads on medium heat for about 6 minutes, until soft but slightly crunchy. Salt to taste and set aside.

In a 2 quart sauce pan, bring the 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of water to a boil. Let simmer until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Reduce heat to low and add the 3 egg yolks. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. With the heat on low, add a tablespoon of the unsalted butter and stir until melted and blended in. Keep adding butter a tablespoon at a time and blending it in. When all butter is added, stir in lemon juice and salt to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

In a medium sauce pan, bring an inch of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Crack each egg into a ramekin and slide it into the water. Reduce heat to medium and poach eggs for about 3 minutes (depending upon how runny you like your yolks). Gently nudge each egg after a minute to make sure they aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Arrange the fiddlehead ferns between 2 warm plates. Gently place 2 poached eggs on top of each bed of ferns. Divide the morel mushrooms on top of the eggs and drizzle hollandaise on top (you will have extra sauce to dip your fiddleheads in). Add a few grinds of fresh pepper and enjoy.

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful moms!