My Kitchen Helpers

Kitchen Helper #1

Kitchen Helper #1 is Chuckie, he likes to help by laying on the rug in front of the kitchen sink.  In my galley style kitchen the stove is directly across from the sink and the trash can is just under the sink.  It is the perfect spot to help and supervise, as he gets first dibs on any cheese or bacon scraps
that might (will) hit the floor.

Kitchen Helper #2

Cookie aka Cookie Monster is my Kitchen Helper #2.  Cookie is a world class counter surfer.  He has made off with a 1/2 lb of uncooked bacon (ate the whole thing), several cans of unsupervised cat food,  blocks of cheese.  In addition he is a very efficient Hoover, even cleaning up the vegetables that hit the floor!


3:00 PM Chocolate Pick-Me-Up Cookies

Makes about 42 cookies

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
8 ounces dark chocolate (58 to 62 percent
cacao), chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 ounces (1 cup) milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the baking sheets with parchment.
2. Spread the pecan pieces in one layer in a small baking pan and put in the (preheated) oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes and check the nuts to see if they’re a light golden brown. If not, toast
2 minutes longer. Set aside to cool.
3. Melt the chocolate and the butter by putting them in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. (You can use a double boiler if you have one.) Stir and scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally with the rubber spatula until the chocolate is smooth and evenly melted. Remove the bowl from the heat. Let cool to
room temperature.
4. In a small bowl, stir the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
5. With an electric mixer or by hand, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until smooth. Mix in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix until everything is evenly
combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice with the rubber spatula. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips, just until combined.
6. Put 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the (preheated) oven. Place 1-tablespoon (slightly rounded, not flat, not heaping) mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets. If you have one you can also use a small ice cream scoop to form the cookies and plop them out onto the sheets (it’s much faster and easier).
7. Bake the cookies for about 9 to 11 minutes, or until they’ve lost their sheen. Although they may seem underdone and kind of gooey, don’t be tempted to let them bake longer—they’ll firm up as they cool. So that the cookies bake evenly, you may need to rotate the pans in the oven or switch racks halfway through.

Courtesy of Emily Luchetti, author of “The Fearless Baker”

The Fearless Baker book cover

Wok’s Up With Chard?

We have found this technique is great for a variety of vegetables, Chard, Broccoli, Romanesco, Cauliflower, Rapini, and Broccolini. You can have it on its own, as a side dish, on grilled or toasted bread with a fried egg on top, you can mix it with cooked pasta and parmesan cheese, and you can add it to chicken stock and make a brothy soup. It will keep in the fridge for a week.

Half a red onion {big dices the size of your little finger nail}
A bunch of Swiss Chard {about a dozen leaves} de-stemmed and washed clean and torn into 2 inch pieces
3 cloves of sliced garlic
1/3 cup of Canola oil
1/4 cup of good olive oil
2 pinches of Chili Flakes {optional}
1/4 cup of tap water
Salt and Pepper to season

Heat the wok on high gas, for about a minute, then add the canola oil, let it get hot for about 30 seconds, add the diced onion, they will sizzle fast, so swirl the wok and cook the onions for about a minute, or use a wooden spoon to stir around, if its too hot, lift the wok off the heat, the onions around the edge will cook faster, keep stirring, add the sliced garlic and cook for 20-30 seconds, then add the Card {its OK if its wet} Turn the Chard over with the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. It should wilt, add 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup of good olive oil and sprinkle with Chili Flakes, salt and pepper. Lower the heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook for about 10-15 minutes turning occasionally. You should have a little juice in the wok when finished. If it’s too watery drain the juice. When doing Cauliflower, use a white onion and add a little chopped mint right at the end. All these vegetables are done the same way. You can experiment using sesame oil and adding soy sauce if you want do an Asian slant. Can’t say enough about Veggies cooked this way.

Courtesy of Seamus and Shelly

The French Paradox

Why is it that the French, they say,
Can smoke and drink and eat paté?

Desserts so rich they’d stop a train.
Sauce so thick it’d ground a plane.

Fried duckling skin and stinky cheese,
Beurre blanc and meat they “mangent” with ease.

Perhaps the Atlantic sets them apart?
Why does all this fat not affect their heart?

A riddle, yes, it appears to be.
The answer not one we’d expect to see.

The drink which monks refined with skill,
The plonk the Romans long did swill,

A beverage that Bacchus knew could make itself.
One that grows much lovelier resting on a shelf.

That lowly grape, found ’bout everywhere,
Plus yeast will yield beyond compare,

Elixir that poets and madmen crave,
Which makes those timid soon grow brave.

Supplies the tongue with wit and stealth,
Yet sipped with care assures good health.

Fruit of the vine, so bent and gnarly.
Vitis Vinifera: you got it, Charlie!

The liquid lovers well define,
This candy for the soul . . . is wine.

Courtesy of Peter Palmer 1992

Spring & Summer Sipping & Saving

Hess Select Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County ‘09
From the venerable winery on Mount Veeder, this is an honest, varietally correct SB that’ll keep you coming back for more: zesty but not too acidic, ripe and well balanced, and thankfully not overworked like some out there.

Qupe  Marsanne Santa Ynez Valley Label

Qupé Marsanne, Santa Barbara County ‘10
Since 1987 Bob Lindquist has been an almost one-man champion of Marsanne. Other CA wineries make it, but none are finer and none age so beautifully (should you desire). The ‘10 is now available, and it’s exotic/delicious!

Verdad Grenache RoseVerdad Grenache Rosé, Sawyer-Lindquist Vineyard, Edna Valley ‘10
Fresh, fragrant, pale and dry. Oh, and certified biodynamic. What else you want?

La Vieille Ferme Côte du Ventoux, Rhône Valley ‘09
The ‘08 is even better; if you find a bottle buy it (or let me know, cause I will). Compared to its older sibling the ’09 was a tad clunky when last tasted, but I imagine it will mesh come summer. Classic, slightly leathery and peppery Côte du Rhône scents and flavors at an amazingly low price.

Au Bon Climat Pinot NoirAu Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County ‘09
It’s no secret that Jim Clendenen makes some of the finest Pinot Noir on the planet, and it’s no secret that his basic SBC bottling is one of the best values around. The 2009, having recently tasted it, is a lovely follow-up to the 2008 (one of my all-time faves): lighter bodied, floral, musky, fragrant and complex.

Courtesy of Zinfreek

Leek & Feta Gallette‏

Leek and Feta Gallette
Courtesy of our friend Heidi from Marin County California

 It’s what’s for dinner.

 So sorry meatlovers. 

Mama’s on strike and it looks good to me!

Escaping Seattle Rain for a Portland Treat

Where do Seattle foodies go when grey days (daze) and everything topped with pork belly becomes too much? Portland; land of food trucks, a passion for farm-to-table dining and great public transportation.

Portland is the new Promised Land of food! Our first stop… Pine State Biscuits! Ahhh biscuits. When done well, they leave you weak in the knees. But use them as the bedding for eggs, collard greens and shitake mushroom gravy? Heaven.

Enter “The Wedgie”, my personal favorite. A crunchy, salty slab of fried chicken, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, slices of fried green tomatoes and a soup ladle of blue cheese dressing cradled in a tender, buttermilk biscuit. Do I make you hungry baby?

Next stop Tasty n Sons.

Bon appétit!

Courtesy of Chef Hollyce