Tag Archives: Pike Place Market Recipes

A jam for jamming

Rhubarb Jam

It would be lovely, I suppose, if every stalk of rhubarb shot up clean bubble gum pink throughout, and if it stirred up into a jam the color of nail polish, and if (while we’re dreaming) it could in no way, in any quantity, poison anyone. The rhubarb I buy at the store is like this, but the stuff in our backyard—rhubarb reliably misshapen, strangely sized, and half-buried in dead leaves—is not really all that pretty.

This year, I hacked it all into pieces any which way, piled it into a roasting pan with a cup of sugar and a cinnamon stick, and roasted it for almost two hours, until the foam had subsided and a thick, gooey jam had begun to stick to the sides of the metal.

My rhubarb jam wasn’t even close to pink, and somehow, this feels like a shortcoming. But while it roasted, I put my kid down for a nap, tagged up on a deadline, made myself coffee, answered email, and made dinner. Oh, I brought the mail in, too. I was jamming, people, in more ways than one. And right now, balancing a book release and a new lupus treatment and a traveling husband and the kind of sunny Seattle weather that makes me want to lie prostrate in the back yard, I can’t think of anything more beautiful than a jam that doesn’t require actual attention.

This is one of those. There’s chopping and mashing and scooping and smashing, but you won’t need an ounce of glamour to make it. You don’t need a recipe, even-just four pounds of rhubarb, a cup of sugar, a cinnamon stick, and a bit shy of 2 hours at 400 degrees, stirring every so often. Call it jam, or compote, or stuff, even. It doesn’t matter what you call it. I pile the roasted rhubarb stuff on yogurt, and eat it after Graham goes to bed, when the house is silent, and I want the last part of the day to sweeten anything sourish that’s happened during the daylight hours.

This stuff sweetens life just enough.

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Filed under Breakfast, fruit, gluten-free, Pike Place Market Recipes

What Does “Eating Locally” Really Mean, Anyway?

In Seattle, eating locally can be almost unnaturally convenient. I order online, and in the dead of night, a burly man (or maybe it’s a woman— I never see the delivery person, so I wouldn’t know) hoists reusable grocery bags from his truck in the rain, eases open my creaky screen door, and slides local kale and cheddar onto the porch, usually without even waking the dog. For breakfast, I sauté the greens and pile them over last night’s roasted potatoes, then top them with a blanket of cheese. It melts while I make more coffee.

It’s a locavore’s dream, living here. But a couple of years ago, I started to wonder: What does it mean for this food to be “local” if I made no part of the transaction with an actual human being? And what is “local,” anyway, besides the descriptor all foodwise upper middle classers are supposed to put in front of everything we eat?

Continue reading the story at GiltTaste.com

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My Market

Last week, I was prowling the Pike Place Market’s sidewalks with my husband and sister. Out of nowhere, Jim tugged up a memory of being a kid in Maine, reading Tom Robbins. The book’s characters were teenagers, skipping school to sit at the Market in the rain, floating little paper boats down the steep gutters lining Western Avenue. We’d just been at World Spice, buying New Bay, their freshly-ground version of the Old, and there on Western, he seemed to be putting today’s Market together with his own Market, the one created in his brain in Maine in 1993, or whenever it was.

I looked at him like he was nuts, of course. Doesn’t everyone connect the Market with food first? (Answer: No.)

The thing is, when it comes to the Pike Place Market, everyone has their own memories. That’s part of what makes the Market so magical.

Over the course of this month, friends and bloggers will be sharing their own Market memories–why they went there, what they tasted, and how they brought the Market home. Join us by sharing a short Pike Place Market memory below, or blog about it, and paste the link below (or notify me at @onfoodandlife).

Oh, and that up there? That’s my Market, as of last week. Looks pretty tasty, doesn’t it?

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A little taste

This, friends, is my cookbook. It comes out on May 8th, which is just over two weeks away. My breath does a little skip in my throat when I think about it.

For you, today, I have a little taste of the book. Click on the cover above–yup, that gorgeous thing up there–and you’ll get a PDF sampler of the cookbook, complete with recipes for Le Pichet‘s famous salade verte, which you’ll probably need to serve after a meal of sautéed crab legs with chili-ginger butter. You’ll also get a feel for the look of the book, which I happen to love.

Enjoy.

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Mirror, Mirror

Identical feet, give or take 50 years

I thought I was going to Portland to help my grandmother June heal. I’d planned to teach a doughnut-making class at Sur La Table there, with Mark Klebeck of Top Pot Doughnuts, and I thought staying with June the night before would give me a chance to pop in with some soup. She had massive abdominal surgery three weeks ago; perhaps I didn’t know what that meant. I expected to wash sheets, or fold laundry, or perhaps run errands for her. I arrived with a tub of cumin-scented carrot soup, a gentle, fragrant concoction I thought might be easiest on the most timid of tummies.

Of course, any woman with the name “June” who lives in the Northwest will have a strong constitution; I should have known that she’d answer the door in her usual singsong voice, and that by the time we’d shared the soup and her salad—tiny pink shrimp piled into avocado halves, adorned with her sister Mary’s famous dressing, made of mayonnaise and Cholula (and darn good, I might add)—I’d nearly forgotten that she’d accidentally carried around a ruptured appendix for three weeks. She’s from good stock, that one. She’s healing just fine.

And every time I visit her, I’m reminded how much we have in common, even though she’ll be 85 this summer. We have the same flushable cheeks, and the same strong, thin hands, and the exact same feet, size 7 1/2, with unusually pretty toes. (Someday, I’ll show you in person, if you want. I feel very good about my feet.)

I like to think I have her sense of humor, too. After dinner, it seemed perfectly normal that we ended up standing next to each other in the bathroom, shirts pulled up to our bra lines, complimenting her nicely-healing scar and comparing our bodies, mine an almost carbon copy of hers, give or take 50 years.

When we were done bragging to each other about skin that doesn’t seem prone to stretch marks and lamenting the inconvenience of the sub-bosom sag, we moved right along, as if a two-generation gap somehow makes it perfectly normal for two women to act like 16-year-olds in front of a bathroom mirror. I’m sort of surprised we didn’t go through her old lipsticks together.

Cover: Pike Place Market Recipes

But we didn’t. Instead, I dug out the copy of Pike Place Market Recipes
I’d brought to share with her—the one I’d begged my publisher for, before leaving for Portland, because I wanted to give her one in person. I showed her the recipe for the carrot soup, and she promised she’d lend the book to her friend Verna, who would certainly make it. (Grandma June doesn’t really love cooking, so she avoids it. I’m finally getting used to this.)

But June liked my carrot soup, people. In fact, she said it was the best one she’d ever had. Now, carrot soup isn’t a hamburger or a dish of macaroni and cheese; one only tastes so many carrot soups in a lifetime. (You’d never see “Best Carrot Soups” on the cover of a magazine.”) But she said it.

When I made it the first and second and third time, this soup was about the Market. It was about walking into World Spice and reaching for a Kleenex halfway into my journey through the paprika selection, and about tufts of carrot tops tickling my armpits as they poked out of a packed produce bag.

From now on, though, it’ll be about June. Carrot soup will be about sitting at her kitchen table, drinking water from fancy pink wine glasses, because neither of us felt like drinking wine, anyway. It’ll be about watching her hand flutter excitedly along the side of the stove while the soup warmed, because she was she was so nervous, telling me about her new boyfriend. It’ll be crawling into that pink metal-framed daybed (that wasn’t ever mine, was it?), realizing how much her pride and approval matters to me.

So here’s a carrot soup that tastes like looking in a bathroom mirror, and finding someone you wouldn’t mind being at 85. If that’s not entirely relatable for you, just make it. I can promise that at the very least, it will taste good.

Carrot Soup with Cumin and Honey

Carrot Soup with Cumin and Honey (printable PDF)
Excerpted from Pike Place Market Recipes: 130 Delicious Ways to Bring Home Seattle’s Famous Market

Sometimes, shopping for a small, simple dinner at the Pike Place Market can be overwhelming – there’s unavoidable temptation to buy, say, and entire salmon, and take it home for a holiday feast when you’re only two for dinner. When you just need something warm and satisfying, make this velvety carrot soup, spiced with cumin, cayenne, and pimenton de la vera – smoked paprika from Spain’s La Vera region. Look for the pimenton at World Spice Merchants, DeLaurenti, The Spanish Table, or in the spice aisle of a large supermarket, in a red box.

Time: 45 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into 1” pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton de la vera)
Small pinch cayenne pepper (to taste)
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons honey (or to taste)

Heat a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the oil, then the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the carrots, season to taste with salt and pepper, stir, and cook, covered, for another 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Stir in the cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper, then add the broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook until carrots are completely soft, another 10 to 20 minutes.

Using a blender or food processor, carefully puree the hot soup in small batches and return to the pot. Stir in the honey, then check the seasonings, adding more cayenne or honey to taste. Serve hot.

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Filed under gluten-free, Pike Place Market Recipes, recipe, recipes, soup

Shake it off

za'atar-crusted chicken 1

Sometime in January, I started a list in my music files called “Inspiration 2012.” I imagined it being a sort of year-long anthem for life, with songs landing on the list every few days, but so far, there are only two: “Shake it Off,” by Florence + The Machine, and “Don’t Carry It All,” by The Decemberists. They’re very different songs, about very different things, but they both send me a very simple, portable, digestible message. They say let go.

The first, sung by a woman who tends to perform dressed much more modestly than the average pop-ish beltress, is the one you’ll find me singing in the car with the windows down. There’s a line in there that’s always gotten me, deep down inside, behind the heart, between the shoulder blades. She says, “it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off.” She’s right, you know, and I think she gets righter the louder I sing. And it’s her voice that’s followed me around these last few (busy) weeks. I can’t say who the devil is—not because I’m being cagey, but because I really don’t feel like I know—but he’s there, clinging. He needs to cut his fingernails.

I haven’t been very still lately. We spent a week in March in Whistler, for our anniversary, skiing with old friends. We flew immediately back east, to celebrate the life of a dear, close family member I’m still not sure how to miss and love and cherish properly. We came home for a few days, then I went back east again, for a conference in New York. There was drinking and eating and learning and exploring and cursing myself for being so bad at New York, but there wasn’t much sleeping.

spring recipe card sets

I came home, and Hannah and I finalized the printing on the spring recipe card sets, and tied them all with pretty yellow bows. (They’re here!)

Then a certain little boy turned three, and there were turtle cupcakes and a Thomas the Train cake and parties and family. Then there was a za’atar-crusted chicken for Passover, and there was Easter breakfast, and now it’s Monday. And as much as I’d like to think I have the power to stop it, I know Tuesday is coming. I’ve felt like I’m fluttering, darting around in a way that feels fabulous and mostly fun but not entirely human.

This week needs to be calmer. This week, I think I just need to shake it all off and start over. Every time my mind wanders, to Pike Place Market Recipes (which comes out in—eek!—just over a month), or to starting Benlysta infusions in a few weeks, or to Graham, or to passing loved ones, or to my sister moving away from Seattle, the song will come back. Maybe these are my devils–not devils, any of them, but things I carry with me all the time these days.

There’s an important distinction here, I think. Shaking off does not equal forgetting. It’s not ignoring, or procrastinating. It’s simply a setting down. An equalizing. It’s looking at your own life as it sits beside you, sipping coffee, rather than carrying it around like oversized luggage. (I don’t know about you, but when I pack for a trip, I stuff every single bag too full, every time.)

It’s looking life in the eye, and listening to what it has to tell you.

It’s letting someone else’s life inspire you, rather than letting it bury you in sadness.

Za'atar chicken for dinner

So here’s what’s coming on Hogwash: a look at what’s outside of me, so I can stay inside for a few weeks. A glimpse at Pike Place Market Recipes, and the recipes in it that I’m most excited about—starting with the roast chicken I made for Passover (yogurt sauce and all, Kosher schmosher), one of my favorites (and one of the simplest) in the book.

Come to think of it, roasting chicken is the culinary embodiment of the shake it off policy. It’s starting from scratch. It’s the easiest thing to do—olive oil, salt, and za’atar, smeared with bare hands in the sunlight and roasted in a hot oven—but it’s somehow completely grounding.

And ahhh. Grounded. That’s just what I want to feel.

za'atar-crusted chicken going into oven

Za’atar-Crusted Chicken with Harissa-Yogurt Sauce (PDF)
From Pike Place Market Recipes: 130 Delicious Ways to Bring Home Seattle’s Famous Market (Sasquatch, May 2012)

Although walking into The Souk, on the north end of the Pike Place Market, may be intimidating for those less familiar with Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African foods, it’s actually a haven for ingredients for quick, creative dinners. On its shelves you’ll find za’atar, a dried herb and spice mixture often made with thyme, oregano, savory, dried sumac, salt, and sesame seeds—you may find it lends itself well to other dishes you make regularly, like roasted potatoes. You’ll also find harissa, a North African chili sauce, which lends gentle heat to the ultra-simple yogurt sauce that accompanies the chicken here.

Active time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
Equipment: Kitchen string, for tying legs

1 (5-pound) whole chicken, patted dry with paper towels
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons za’atar
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 to 3 teaspoons harissa

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Rub all parts of the chicken with the oil. Place on a roasting rack set over a roasting pan. Blend the salt and za’atar together in a small bowl, then sprinkle the entire chicken with the spice mixture. Fold the wings behind the chicken’s back, tie the legs together, and sprinkle any remaining spice on any bare spots.

Roast the chicken for about 1 hour, or until the breast meat measures 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. If the skin is dark golden brown before the meat is done, slide a baking sheet onto an oven rack above the chicken.

Meanwhile, stir the yogurt and harissa together in a small bowl, and let sit at room temperature while the chicken roasts.

When the chicken is done, let rest 10 minutes, then carve and serve hot, with the yogurt sauce.

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Filed under chicken, gluten-free, Pike Place Market Recipes, recipe

Now what?

Yogurt Dip with Feta and Dill 5

A friend recently referred to my recent string of cookbook projects—all of which are now finished, save the final edits—as my Irish quadruplets. She suggested that perhaps I begin participating in some form of cookbook-related birth control.

I can’t blame her. I didn’t mean to write four cookbooks in 16 months. It just happened. Eighteen months ago, I didn’t think I’d ever write one. But now, with all the major deadlines behind me (as of Saturday), sitting at home in my puffy robe as the snow spins off my neighbor’s roof in a little fit of confusion, I’m wondering just who did all that work. (It couldn’t have been me.)

And more than anything, I’m wondering who I am now, in a culinary sense. I know a lot about the Pike Place Market right now. I know a lot about myriad foods across Washington State. I know more than I ever anticipated knowing about doughnuts. And I know a lot about grilling fish, too. (That was the ghost writing project, which I never told you about.)

What I don’t know, it seems, is what food will be mine in the years to come. I’ve been gluten-, soy-, and egg-free for almost six months, and I’m just starting to figure out whether that’s helping with lupus. (Summary: I think it is.) I’ve been figuring out that in baking, using pure ground flaxseeds in place of eggs (instead of flaxseed meal) makes a huge difference. I’m figuring out my favorite version of socca, the Mediterranean chickpea pancakes I can’t seem to stop eating. I’m finding a good snack bar for after the gym.

What’s next for me? For the first time in what feels like a long, long time, I just don’t know. And I kind of love it.

Here’s a dip inspired by a bite I had last weekend at the Fancy Food Show, in San Francisco. It’s not much—just some yogurt, a flurry of feta, and the dill I’ve been meaning to use. It’s not the kind of thing that fits in a book, you’ll notice. It’s the kind of thing that fits in a little jar in the fridge, for snacking, when you’re not making food at all hours of the day. Perhaps that’s what I like about it.

Yogurt Dip with Feta and Dill 1

Yogurt Dip with Dill and Feta (PDF)
Here’s a dip that works in my house as a substitute for ranch dressing—only there are some undeniable nutritional benefits going on here. For something that tends more toward the “spread” category, add a handful of pitted kalamata olives, and whirl the whole thing in a food processor before serving.

Serve the dip with fresh carrots, cucumbers, baby zucchini, bell peppers, or crackers.

Time: 10 minutes active time
Makes: About 1 cup

7 ounces full-fat Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork to smash the feta into tiny pieces. Serve or chill up to 1 week.

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Filed under appetizers, gluten-free, recipe, snack, vegetarian

The perfect table

Split Pea Soup with Dill and Cardamom 3

It all started, I suppose, with an article in The New York Times about a vacation home in Nova Scotia. It wasn’t a home we’d ever build, even in our dreams, because to me, it seems strange to have your dream life more than 3,000 miles away from your real life. Even so, the inside was so light, and so welcoming to crowds despite its small size, that it got us thinking. We loved its long, slender, people-friendly eating space. We loved the built-in bench that ran along one entire wall of the living room. Since we’re predisposed to feeding crowds of people quite regularly, and usually on short notice, we thought, wouldn’t it make sense for us to have a big, hefty, crowd-loving dining table, instead of a formal, ill-fitting, accidentally inherited one?

And so early this fall, armed with advice garnered while writing a story on how the Seattle restaurateurs behind Bastille and Poquitos and Caffe Fiore (and soon Macleod’s) use reclaimed materials, my husband and I set out to convince a large piece of wood that it wanted to be our a new dining room table.

First, we found a church pew. It’s evidently a remnant from an old Episcopalian building in Portland, Oregon, one that spent the last 30 years in a garage in Kirkland, Washington. It made its way to our house on a trailer that only came unhitched once, complete with a pre-communion gum stash, but lacking hymnals. It’s nine feet long, so we settled on a seven-foot table.

Later, at Earthwise, a reclaimed building materials shop south of downtown Seattle, we found a 14-foot-long cedar board leaning up against the outside of the building nonchalantly, almost modeling, as if it knew just how we’d ooh and ahhh at it. It was a bear of a thing, and as we brought it home, our ski rack bent and cursing, we wondered whether we’d done the right thing. It had clearly spent the majority of its life outdoors, and even though my husband, a hobby woodworker, had A Vision, I couldn’t see it. He disappeared into his shop, about once a week all fall, to sand and chisel and patch and epoxy and finish. I made him coffee, and found great little wooden chairs at a consignment shop in Walla Walla, and hoped for the best.

The day before our Thanksgiving crowd of 20 started arriving, friends helped us assemble the table in the living room. (It’s bound by metal rigging that emits a high-pitched hum if you pound the table in just the right place.) I slapped burlap coffee sacks on top of the girly turquoise fabric the chairs had come with, and suddenly, instead of a dining area, we had a gathering space.

Working at the table

I’d be willing to bet that if I poured carefully, I could fit a full cup of liquid into the cracks and crevices still undulating across this table. If you’re one for symmetry, it’s imperfect. Its two halves are mismatched in both thickness and shape, and now, with my computer high-centered on its highest section, it rocks back and forth a little as I type. I’ll have to be careful not to wear too much fine silk, because the edges are still a bit raw in places. We may have to floss food out of the center. But there are two full quarts of epoxy in this thing, making cracks that once went straight through the wood perfectly impervious to anything one can see with the naked eye. And filled with grandmas and grandpas, sitting hip by hip in the same place filled the hour before by scribbling toddlers, it has somehow, with its mere presence, made our house more of a home.

play-doh at the new table

We had a lovely Thanksgiving week. Despite the conditions on Snoqualmie pass, everyone eventually arrived. The cousin who stayed with us cooked and stirred and scrubbed more than any guest ever has (although I won’t say should, because I loved it). The other cousin made real southern biscuits, the kind you can pull apart layer by layer, and I ate them, gluten and all, and didn’t notice a thing. (That’s another story.) My brother brought a fresh venison roast. My parents did dishes and dishes and dishes. We made two giant meals in my own house, and held Thanksgiving itself at my in-laws’, which meant that the work was spread out enough that I could still taste the food by the time it hit my plate.

lunch at the new table

And now that everyone’s gone, this new table still works. My sister, who has been traveling the world (literally) for months, is here staying with us for a bit. When she wakes up, we’ll sit here together, dappled by the rare Seattle sunlight, with my recipes and her photos and our dueling coffee cups, and we’ll just be family. As the day wears on, we’ll eat split pea soup made with the bone of the ham she roasted to keep the turkey company. The empty bowls will sit on the table, I’m sure, like they did so often this past week, just resting, as if they themselves wanted a feel for it, too.

Then, as the days wear and tear on it, the table will get dinged and stained and scratched and abused, and slowly, year by year, it will become perfect. I can’t wait.

Split Pea Soup with Dill and Cardamom 1

Split Pea Soup with Dill and Cardamom (PDF)
Based on a recipe from my forthcoming cookbook, Pike Place Market Recipes (Sasquatch 2012), which is itself based on a verbal recipe from the ladies at the counter at Bavarian Meats in the Pike Place Market that uses their smoked ham, this soup blends the earthiness of split peas and leftover ham bone with enough dried dill and cardamom for intrigue, but not so much they take over the soup. You can puree it before stirring the ham pieces back in, if you prefer.

Time: 40 minutes active time
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, smashed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (2-pound) ham hock, or meaty bone from a holiday ham
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 pound dried split peas
1/4 cup cream or half and half (optional)

Heat a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the oil, then the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the carrots, celery, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the ham hock, broth, water, bay leaf, dill, cardamom, and split peas, stir, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a bare simmer until the peas are soft and the meat falls off the bone, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the bay leaf.

Transfer the ham to a cutting board and set aside until cool enough to handle. Finely chop the meat, discarding the bones and any fatty parts, and add it to the soup. Add additional water, if necessary, to thin the soup to your desired consistency, and rewarm over low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper (you won’t need much salt because the meat is usually salty enough), stir in the cream, and serve hot.

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Filed under gluten-free, leftovers, Lunch, pork, recipe, soup, soy-free

On the border of Spain and Germany

IMG_5907

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking Jess, good God, didn’t you ever take a geography class? I did, but sometimes geography just gets in the way.

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. The manuscript for Pike Place Market Recipes is due in nine days. Technically, I have five entire uninterrupted hours to work on it right now, which is why instead of buckling down with a French press and a sheath of notes, I’m blogging. (Procrastination is alive and well.)

The thing is, there’s something about writing a cookbook that’s bugging me. It’s about how we use cookbooks. Yesterday, I was interviewing Uli Lengenberg, the German master butcher and owner of Pike Place Market’s Uli’s Famous Sausage. He’s a big bear of a guy who ferries links around the city on the back of his motorcycle, wearing a canary yellow helmet. And when it comes to recipes, he has opinions.

Yesterday, I asked him what he tells people when they want to know what to do with his sausages. He was emphatic that a recipe is just a guideline, and I couldn’t agree more. “You don’t die if you don’t cook like the recipe says,” he said, hands waving in the air above his tiny little spectacles. “Your love for creating something tasty and enjoyable will always be bigger than the need to follow a recipe.” Yes, Uli.

And my biggest challenge, in these next nine days, is to somehow create a book that gives people perfect guidelines for great food without making them feel totally wed to the recipes. I don’t want the book to prevent people from (as Uli calls it) cooking from their hearts.

As we talked, his love for food spilled into the air, in a genuine, helpless way, circling up around his helmet and his big black work boots and the beer taps halfway between us and the meat case. He explained a concept that I’m very familiar with, but that doesn’t (to my knowledge) really have an English equivalent. Literally, mit fleischeinlage means “with a meat ingredient,” but like so many words in any language, in German, einlage also means “orthotic.” Uli explained that in German, cooking something mit fleischeinlage means that you add to it what you have, and that all of those little things—leftovers, half-dead vegetables, special ingredients that you only have in miniscule quantities—are what add up to make a dish special. All those little things are what support the dish.

When I got home, I took some of his chorizo out of the freezer. I’d been saving it to remake a recipe from the book for Spanish Chickpea and Chorizo stew, but given my conversation with Uli, it didn’t seem like I should hold myself to the written recipe if I had chorizo on the brain and a fridge full of mismatched ingredients. I ditched the chickpeas, and threw in potatoes and cabbage, and a bunch of spring onions that have been sulking in the back of the produce drawer. They’d been back there, forgotten, since I bought them thinking I had to and then cooked spring asparagus instead.

Simmered down for an hour, the stew looked like a remarkably gentle collision between Spain and Germany—the rich, red color of pimenton de la vera and the chorizo crumbles swam around the whitish shredded cabbage and potatoes, somehow coexisting happily, like when my dog and cat are both in good moods and they curl up on the couch together.

At the end of our conversation, Uli told me that he always asks people what they want to cook when they ask him for advice. He doles it out, but always, always volunteers to also show them how to eat it. Might have to pack some of this stew up and head down to the market.

But first, the book. I need to write it mit fleischeinlage.

The UnRecipe
Spanish-German Chorizo Stew starts with good chorizo. Crumble a few fat links into a hot soup pot, and let them cook until your house smells like a different country. Add a big handful of chopped alliums – whatever mixture of garlic, onions, and leeks your refrigerator offers up – and then add about 5 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery stalks. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and a good dose of Spanish pimenton, then add two peeled and chopped russet potatoes, half a small head of green cabbage (nicely shredded), and enough chicken stock to cover it all. Oh, and glug in some sherry vinegar, because you want a little tang. Bring the stew to a simmer, and go do something else, but every once in a while, come back and stir it.

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Filed under commentary, Lunch, pork, recipe, soup

A good day for sunburn

View from poma atop China Bowl

I like the way the sun warms my back when I’m wearing black, and the way it shines on everyone the same way, blind to color and wealth and happiness. I like the way it glints off the water sinking deep into the hearts of the new camellia flowers in my front yard. I like the way it dries out the cover on my gas grill, after I forgot to replace it, now almost two weeks ago.

But when I’m roughly 11,000 feet closer to the sun than usual—say, sitting on a chairlift when said chairlift breaks down—I don’t particularly like the way the sun fries my face. Granted, there are worse things than spending an hour “stuck” in the Colorado mountains on a sunny day; I only really got cold at the end. And considering that thirty years’ skiing had never before offered me a similar situation, I’d venture to call myself lucky. Okay, so I didn’t get much skiing in that day. And I have a pretty wicked sunburn, for March, with lines across my face that will probably look funny until May. But I didn’t loose any appendages; I didn’t even get all that cranky.

I did, however, guzzle a hot chocolate, take two runs, then head for the smokehouse at Wildwood, where a pulled pork sandwich helped me forgive all. We sat with that big burning beast to our backs, Lauren and I, trying to dip waffle-cut fries into ketchup faster than the chilly hilltop breeze could whip their heat away. We pointed out barbecue sauce when we inadvertently smeared it across our faces. Then we skied, and I taught Lauren to tuck, and we skied faster. We checked in on our children from the chairlift, feeling simultaneously freed and tethered, like all mothers must.

A well-accessorized tot

So I’m blaming the chairlift for my sunburn, but both cheeks are peeling, and the sun was really only blasting me from one side that morning. The burn is from the skiing and the pork sandwich and the margaritas on the deck at the Minturn Saloon and the laughing and the tot wrangling and yes, quite possibly, from the hour on the chairlift as well. The whole is always more than the sum of its parts.

That night, cheeks burning, we went to Kelly Liken. It’s the first time in years (is that possible?) that I’ve been to a new-to-me restaurant with absolutely no itinerary besides enjoying myself. We laughed because both our children had gone to bed early without a fuss. We laughed when we ran into former private chef clients of mine, and when they treated us to glamorous cocktails, and when the server wholeheartedly congratulated our husbands on their 8 years of marriage because somewhere along the line, “Jess and Jim’s” anniversary had been translated to “Jeff and Jim’s.” We laughed when we twisted shaved roasted lamb leg up into fantasy bites with nettles and ramps and fried (what was it, that potatoey croquette thing?), and when we nibbled meat off a rack off rabbit, like a carnivorous version of Tom Hanks’s baby corn scene in Big. We laughed at how I’d pressed frozen waffles to my face in an attempt to ice it down, and at how the spun sugar topping the sticky bun dessert poked into the soft fleshy insides of our cheeks as we chewed it. Then we might have laughed some more, but I don’t really remember.

Then we came home. We came home, and there was a list fifteen miles long, with things like taxes and laundry and deadlines and planting the dahlia bulbs that have been lingering in the backyard for more than a week, looking sad and naked. I’ll start testing recipes again next week, I thought. When I’m rested, and my throat stops hurting.

Then I thought a little harder. I certainly don’t want to write a cookbook that only has recipes that you want to make when you’re 100%. I know as well as anyone that cooking can be lovely, but it also takes some effort, and some days you just don’t have as much to give. Still, after almost a week on the road, I wanted something hearty, something that felt complete. I patted a simple rosemary crust onto a gorgeous pork loin, and popped it into a nice, hot oven. While the panko tanned, I mixed potatoes with thyme and garlic, and drizzled asparagus with olive oil, and slid them in next to the pork. In a food processor, I whirled tart red plums (out of season, I know, but the book’s due in May and summer must be present—save this recipe for summer, if you want) with a bit of garlic and rosemary and balsamic vinegar. I let it simmer down until it looked liked applesauce with lipstick on. The pork came out perfectly pink in the center, so we bathed it with that magenta-hued sauce, and felt just as happy to be home as we’d been thrilled to be on vacation.

Now that we’re back, I don’t mind the sunburn much. My skin is also red from fresh cold wind, and wine, and the blush of a jolly good time. And I’ll certainly never look at a frozen waffle the same way again.

Lauren and Jess

Rosemary Crusted Pork with Balsamic Red Plum Sauce (PDF)

No, there’s no photo, which should tell you something—although this simple pork roast is gorgeous enough for company, you can make it on the laziest of days, like when you might have strep throat, and your face is peeling from too much sun, and your nanny is sick and you’re trying to wean your cranky tot from his pacifier and all you want to do is WHINE. (All that happiness above? That was three whole days ago.) But wait, this is about pork, right?

For a complete dinner, slick some small potatoes with olive oil and roast them right next to the pork. While the pork rests, steam a bunch of asparagus, and serve them drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with the extra breadcrumbs from the pork.

Time: 30 minutes active time
Makes: 6 servings

For the pork
1 (2 1/2-pound) pork loin roast, excess fat trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the sauce
3 large firm-ripe plums (about 1 pound), halved and pitted, then chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the pork in a small roasting pan, fat side-up. Rub the top with about 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, rosemary, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper together until the breadcrumbs are evenly moist. Pat the breadcrumb mixture onto the pork, coating it in an even layer on the top and sides, and slide it into the oven on the middle rack. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is brown and the center of the roast measures 140° with an instant-read thermometer. (If the top begins to brown too quickly, slide a baking sheet onto the rack above the pork or cover the pork with foil.)

Meanwhile, whirl all the sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

When the pork is done, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Rewarm the plum sauce, then slice the pork into 1”-thick slabs, and serve slathered with sauce. Serve extra sauce on the side.

And a note for you skiers: For future reference, a corkscrew works to change your DIN setting.

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Filed under fruit, gluten-free, pork, recipe

A Cookbook Snapshot: Pike Place Market Recipes

Photo by Clare Barboza

Last Thursday, I caught a Keta salmon. I don’t mean I caught it, as in I put a fishing line into the ocean and it bit down something fierce. I mean a large man threw a fish at me, and it didn’t hit the floor.

I probably should start by telling you that I’m not exactly known for my hand-eye coordination. But when you step behind the counter at Pike Place Fish, the purveyor at the heart of Pike Place Market that’s world-renowned for the fishmongers’ salmon-throwing antics, there’s not all that much to learn. Not at first blush, anyway: You put an apron on. You turn one shoulder toward the fish, as if you were a batter anticipating a pitch. A guy in orange guides your hands into position, placing the back hand higher than the front hand, so that when the fish swims through the air toward you, head high, it lands between the thumb and forefinger of each of your outstretched hands. You clamp down like your life depends on it.

So that’s what I did. Only, I have to tell you, I was sort of cheating. The salmon I caught was tiny, for starters, and since it was destined for an afterlife of tourist abuse, it didn’t matter if my fingers bruised its delicate flesh. The guys in orange, though? They’re not cheating. They catch those fish like they’re catching newborn humans, tender and gentle. I don’t know about you, but the difficulty seems to me like it might stretch beyond the coordination issue. I can’t imagine wrapping my brain around the combination of yelling at the top of my lungs and treating something with such intimate care.

Catching a fish at Pike Place Fish

Thursday was a good day. I also took my first Savor Seattle tour of Pike Place Market, and learned that initially, when MarketSpice (the market’s oldest vendor) opened, its tea was technically illegal because the cinnamon oil used to flavor it was banned; it’s too dangerous to touch in its purest form. I made a cake using milk spiked with the tea, and topped it with an orange tea glaze, so the whole cake smacked of orange, clove, and cinnamon. I bought a smoked ham hock from Bavarian Meats and braised it into an ever so gently smoky German split pea soup over the weekend. I bought the biggest white beans I’ve ever cooked, from The Spanish Table, to stir into an unusual but refreshingly simple Spanish paella. Then I tied my hands behind my back, because spring’s bounty is still coming.

This, friends, is what writing a cookbook looks like. It’s a life I could get used to: peruse one of the world’s best markets for food I’m crazy about, take it home, and make it more delicious. Occasionally, I get to gussy up my favorite things for a quick modeling stint (Clare Barboza is the book’s fabulous photographer), and things start to look more real.

"Public Market," by Kevin Belford

Only, like anything, it takes work. Today, I walked into a coffee shop, feeling overwhelmed by the whole wheat cinnamon pull-apart bread I’m not quite satisfied with, and by the organizational task ahead of me. I was stalling. The photo above, part of an exhibit at Fresh Flours by Kevin Belford, loomed over the only empty chair. Really?, I thought. You mock me so.

I love how the book is divided by provenance—so the chapters group recipes based on ingredients that come from Puget Sound, for example, or the mountains, or Pike Place Market’s specialty shops. But from a writers’ perspective, it’s sometimes difficult to maintain the balance intrinsic to a book with a more traditional course-by-course layout. I’m trying to decide what tips to throw into the book’s introduction, which purveyors to interview for little sidebars, and how to capture the magic of the market in relatively few words. And as I get closer and closer to its end (the book is due May 15th), the number of recipes left to test for the book dwindles, and I start getting weepy about the recipes I might have to leave behind, like a recipe for sweet-hot mango pickles that I make again and again because I simply can’t get enough. (That chapter’s full, my brain says.) There’s work to do, but when it comes right down to it, I’m not dragging my feet because I don’t want to do it. I’m procrastinating because I don’t want it to end.

But seriously. The world is in this state, and I walk out of my house thinking Oh God, how did I write 80% of a book with only two chicken recipes? Buck up, Jess. You’ve got a book to finish, because (shhh) there’s another one coming.

Pike Place Market Recipes is going to be gorgeous. It’s going to be delicious. It will taste like blackened salmon sandwiches and chickpea and chorizo stew and French-style apple custard cake. (Not all at once, of course.) It will smell like a good story, and fresh-baked sour cherry-oatmeal cookies with huge chocolate chunks.

And with any luck, it won’t bruise too easily. I’ll teach you how to catch it.

Sweet-Hot Mango Pickles (PDF)
Here’s an unusual snack, similar to the cucumber chips I posted before, but sweeter – and for Seattleites, a needed burst of sunshine. For another variation, try grating the mango in a food processor instead of cutting it into spears, soaking it in the marinade, then draining it and serving it as a sweet-and-sour slaw, over salmon tacos or grilled chicken.

Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

2 large almost-ripe mangos, peeled and sliced into 1/2” spears
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl just big enough to hold all the mangoes. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes for flavors to blend, stirring occasionally, then serve.

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Filed under appetizers, fruit, gluten-free, Modern, recipes, snack, vegetables