Key Ingredient: SEAWEED

Sushi Kappo Tamura's owner and chef dishes about the edible sea plant that packs healthy nutrients................... Seaweed, long revered in Japanese culture, is available as close as Puget Sound. But can we simply stroll down to Golden Gardens and harvest some fresh kelp for eating? “Yes,” says Taichi Kitamura, owner and chef at Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake. “All seaweed is edible; it is just a matter of tasting good or bad.”

1215eatanddrinkseaweedSeaweed comes in various shapes and forms—pressed and dried into sheets for sushi rolls, salted in jars, dried whole and other preparations. “I like them all, but my choice is wakame,” says Kitamura. Dark green wakame is sold in both dried and jarred forms. Sometimes labeled as sea vegetables, it has an almost indistinguishable, subtle taste. The texture is satisfying. “It’s something in between melt in your mouth and chewy,” he says.

Add wakame to soup for instant health benefits. “If I’m cooking instant ramen at home, I feel bad about it, but if I add wakame to it, I feel l ate something healthy,” says Kitamura. “If I prepare a green salad at home, I add wakame to the top and toss it with a soy-ginger dressing.”

At Sushi Kappo Tamura, he serves wakame with nattō (a preparation of fermented soybeans that “has an aroma similar to stinky cheese”), cucumber and seafood in a sweet, vinegary sauce.

While nori, the dried sheets of seaweed used in making sushi, is more commonly known, “Wakame can be utilized in a lot of different ways,” says Kitamura, “but…people don’t know about it yet.”

Why you should try it: Wakame is packed with antioxidants and nutrients, including calcium, iron and magnesium—and has a sweet, slightly salty flavor and thick texture. “It is unusual to an American palate, but it’s full of minerals and fiber, plus has zero calories,” says Kitamura.
How to use it: Don’t overcook it. “Melted seaweed is not pleasant—it’s like slime,” Kitamura says. Soak wakame for about 10 minutes before tossing it in a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar, and folding it into a green salad. Minced ginger adds flavor.
Where to find it: Metropolitan Market (metropolitan-market.com) and PCC; Uwajimaya (multiple locations; uwajimaya.com). About $6 for an 8-ounce package. Salt-preserved wakame should be boiled and strained.

Why you should try it: Wakame is packed with antioxidants and nutrients, including calcium, iron and magnesium—and has a sweet, slightly salty flavor and thick texture. “It is unusual to an American palate, but it’s full of minerals and fiber, plus has zero calories,” says Kitamura.

How to use it: Don’t overcook it. “Melted seaweed is not pleasant—it’s like slime,” Kitamura says. Soak wakame for about 10 minutes before tossing it in a vinaigrette made from lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar, and folding it into a green salad. Minced ginger adds flavor.

Where to find it: Metropolitan Market and PCC; Uwajimaya (multiple locations). About $6 for an 8-ounce package. Salt-preserved wakame should be boiled and strained.

Wakame and Shrimp Salad with Dijon Mustard Dressing Serves 4

  • 1 ounce dried wakame
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 ounces English cucumber, sliced thin
  • 4 ounces cooked salad shrimp

1. Put the dried seaweed into a large bowl, fill it with cold water and soak it for 5 minutes. For more tender seaweed, soak it for 10 minutes. 2. To make the dressing, combine the rice vinegar, lemon juice, oil, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together. 3. Drain the seaweed and use your hands to squeeze out excess water. Wipe out any excess water in the bowl, and then return the seaweed along with the cucumber and the dressing. 4. Toss thoroughly to combine. 5. Plate the salad and place the shrimp on top.

 

PUBLISHED SEATTLE MAGAZINE, Dec 2015

 

HOW TO :: Preserving & Canning Pears

Seckel pears are diminutive, with muddy, olive green skin and a firm texture. Their tiny proportions make them impossible to resist, and the perfect size for a light dessert after a rich meal. They ripen toward the end of September, so be on the lookout as the season is short. Pears are poached in a light caramel syrup - you can determine how dark you'd like to burn the sugar. I prefer mine deeply amber, imparting an almost burnt quality to the fruit. Of course, you can also infuse the syrup with any number of aromatics. Here, we use vanilla, but lavender buds, fresh thyme or even a bag of your favorite tea. When you crack open the jars, the pears’ exterior will have a gorgeous caramel hue, whereas the centers stay creamy. I like to serve the pears whole, with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of the syrup. Make sure to use wide-mouth pint jars here, so the pears fit without bruising. Caramel Vanilla Seckel Pears makes 6-8 pints | start to finish: about 1 hour active time

2 1/4 cups sugar 5 1/2 cups warm water 1 vanilla bean, cut in half, beans scraped and reserved 5 pounds Seckel pears

In a large, completely dry, saucepan, add the sugar and shake the pan gently to level it out. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Without touching it, leave the sugar to melt and brown; do not stir it. The sugar will begin to brown at the edges. Once starting to brown, gently swirl the pan slightly, making sure to keep the sugar level, so it does not coat the sides of the pan. The sugar will caramelize, becoming dark brown at edges. Stir the melted sugar slowly, incorporating the dry sugar, until all of the sugar is melted and amber colored. Wearing an oven mitt and long sleeves (molten sugar will spit and pop) carefully pour in the warm water while simultaneously stirring. Any sugar crystals that form will melt in the water. Add the vanilla bean pods and the reserved seeds, and set the pot aside. (This is also when you when add other aromatics, as pictured below.**)

caramel infusions

Peel the pears, leaving a small piece of the stem intact. Immediately drop them into the syrup. When all of the pears have been added, return the pot to medium-high heat. Bring the syrup to a low boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook the pears for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are just beginning to soften, but are not cooked through all the way. The exterior flesh will be easily pierced, but the core of the pear will be firm.

Remove the pears from the heat and, using a soup spoon, immediately add them to the clean jars, lowering each pear in gently to prevent bruising. Pack the jars as densely as you’re able, leaving 1” of space. Once the jars are packed, pour the caramel-vanilla syrup over the pears so they are submerged, leaving 1/2” of headspace in the jars. Cut the vanilla pod into even pieces and add a small piece of it to each jar. Gently tap the jars on the counter to release any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims and seal the jars. Place the jarred pears in a prepared water bath and process for 20 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and let them cool on the counter overnight. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to 1 year.

washed jars • water bath

**You can infuse the caramel water with many an array of aromatics. Try fresh thyme, lavender, ginger, cardamom, cloves, etc. I always recommend doing a small batch on the side first, so you can judge the potency and see if you like the flavor. From there, add aromatics to the pot and steep as you like. As I tell all of my students, the potency of the flavor will grow in strength over time, so keep it a little softer then you'd ideally like. A little clove goes a long way - trust me.

Cooking with Fish Sauce

 Ma‘ono’s Mark Fuller dishes on his go-to ingredient

To the uninitiated, the mention of fish sauce might well result in wrinkled noses. However, the oft-misunderstood ingredient brings a welcome punch to a variety of dishes. Because fish sauce falls outside the flavor categories typically recognized by the American palate, the savory-salty taste is hard to define. The Japanese describe it as “umami”—roughly translated as “deliciousness.” At Ma‘ono, the mystery works.

0815_keyingredient

“People won’t know why the food tastes great, but it does and that’s what matters,” says Mark Fuller, chef and owner of Ma‘ono Fried Chicken & Whisky (West Seattle, 4437 California Ave. SW; 206.935.1075; maono.springhillnorthwest.com), a Hawaiian-influenced restaurant that also serves now-famous fried chicken dinners. “I’m looking for flavor in all of my dishes and fish sauce is a fermented product that’s a bit funky and offers subliminal and compelling flavor.”

Fuller relies on fish sauce for his kimchi, adding it during the beginning stages of a three-day maceration, along with raw oysters, to give the cabbage a kick-start. This fiery relish is served with the fried chicken as an aromatic, fresh-tasting side. Fuller also opts for fish sauce—instead of the more traditional anchovies—in a version of Caesar salad. “I use it as a flavor like I would use salt,” he says.

Why you should try it: A versatile pantry staple, fish sauce imparts a noticeable difference in recipes—and not just in the usual Asian fare. Use it in place of soy sauce or other pungent foods, like cheese. A splash can be added to sauces and broths for body.

Where to find it: Fuller uses Three Crabs fish sauce at Ma‘ono. “It’s the best fish sauce we can get here. It’s high quality and it’s readily available,” he says. At home, he opts for Red Boat artisanal fish sauce, which is more of a splurge. Both are available at Uwajimaya stores (Bellevue, Chinatown–International District, Renton; uwajimaya.com). Three Crabs and other brands can be found at H Mart locations (Bellevue, 100 108th Ave. NE; 425.990.8000; hmartus.com).

How to use it: A little goes a long way. “In moderation, it can elevate just about anything,” Fuller says. Try adding a spoonful to marinades and vinaigrettes. Combine lemon juice, olive oil and fish sauce and brush it over your veggie kebabs right as they come off the grill. Try a splash in your mac and cheese or risotto, in place of Parmesan. But, Fuller says, “Start with a few drops and taste as you go.

 

Le Pichet’s French Onion Soup Recipe

1214frenchonionThis is the recipe for french onion soup perfection - that uber rich broth that holds velvety onions and is covered in burnt cheese. Le Pichet is in Seattle and a def must-visit if you haven't been in some time.

For Le Pichet’s French onion soup (aka soupe a l’oignon gratinée or gratin lyonnais), chef/co-owner Jim Drohman uses at 14-month cave-aged Comté cheese, which has a strong, nutty flavor and smells slightly of the barnyard. On its own, the cheese is satisfying, but melted over a bowl of rich, French onion soup, it’s sublime. At Le Pichet and Café Presse, “duck jello” is added to the onion soup. Duck jello is the term Drohman uses to refer to the gelatin-rich duck juices that are left in the bottom of the pot when slow-cooking duck legs for confit. This sort of addition is typical of the French bistro kitchen, where nothing tasty is ever allowed to go to waste. Since most home cooks aren’t regularly cooking duck legs, use duck or chicken demi-glace, which can be purchased in small containers in stores, but which can also be left out of this recipe. Read more about Comte cheese here.

Chef/co-owner Jim Drohman serves this soup with 14-month cave-aged Comte cheese

8 servings

Ingredients 4 cloves garlic, germ removed 2 1/2 pounds yellow onions 1 sprig thyme 1 bay leaf 1/2 stick unsalted butter 1 1/2 cup sherry 3/4 cup dry white wine 2 quarts chicken stock 1/8 cup duck or chicken demi-glace, optional Salt and black pepper 2 cups grated Comté cheese 8 slices rustic country bread, preferably day-old

Peel the onions and slice thinly. Slice the garlic thinly. Wash, dry and stem the thyme. Chop it finely.

Bake the slices of country bread on a sheet pan in a very low oven until dry and crispy.

In a large soup pot set over medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic with the butter, stirring often, until richly colored. Add the sherry, increase the heat and cook until the sherry is almost completely reduced. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add the thyme, bay leaf, chicken stock and duck demi-glace (if using) and bring to a simmer. Simmer to combine the flavors, about 20 minutes.

Carefully skim the soup to remove any fat. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into individual soup bowls. Top first with the crouton and then with a nice layer of Comté cheese. Heat under the broiler until crusty and golden. Serve immediately.

Best Soups in Seattle

I loved putting together this list of what I think are the best soups in Seattle. The article ran in January's Seattle Magazine, but I've condensed it here to a selection of soups that I would personally recommend, versus having to include neighborhoods across town. I would eat these soups any day of the week. What am I missing?! DOWNTOWN 

Tom’s Tomato Soup at Dahlia Bakery and Dahlia Lounge  In the jewel-box space that houses the Dahlia Bakery, people queue up year-round for takeout soups, salads and sandwiches. Just like mom used to make, Tom’s tasty tomato soup (available daily) is loaded with canned tomatoes and cream in perfect proportions, creating a super tomatoey soup that is best eaten with the brown-butter croutons (always served in Dahlia Lounge, next door; order as an extra at the bakery). Tom's Tasty Tomato

Go with the large portion ($6 at the bakery and $9 at the lounge)—the soup has an irresistible piquancy, and the smaller cup ($4 and $6 respectively) will surely leave you wanting more. Dahlia Bakery and Dahlia Lounge, 2001 Fourth Ave.; 206.441.4540 and 206.682.4142. Also available daily at Home Remedy, 2121 Sixth Ave.; 206.812.8407; tomdouglas.com 

BALLARD Huevos Ahogados at Señor Moose Cafe   Although it is easy to overlook on a menu teeming with tacos, masa cakes and hand-mashed guacamole, the huevos ahogados (“drowned eggs”) soup ($11.95) is not to be missed. Two suspended poached eggs—complete with oozing yolks—float in light tomato broth over a bed of thick, roasted poblano pepper strips and a dusting of Mexican Cotija cheese. On the side, a deeply golden piece of grilled bread slathered in butter is perfect for tearing into small pieces and adding to the broth, softening the bread’s crisp edges and providing texture. Sit at one of the many oil-cloth-covered tables or eat at the counter, which faces the kitchen (a great spot for solo dining) and enjoy this for breakfast (yes, this makes a terrific breakfast), lunch and dinner. 5242 NW Leary Ave.; 206.784.5568; senormoose.com 

CAPITOL HILL  Avgolemono at Vios Cafe   Owner Thomas Soukakos, who hails from Sparta, offers classic Greek dishes that are wholesome and flavorful. While the menu changes seasonally, in winter, you’ll find several soup options, including the popular avgolemono ($4/cup, $6/bowl, $10/lunch bowl). This traditional Greek soup, speckled with white rice, tastes creamy, but the chicken broth is actually thickened with egg yolks, creating its signature yellow hue. Lemon juice gives the soup a refreshing tang; the bright citrus hints help to lighten winter doldrums. While soup can be ordered for takeout, the neighborhood cafés (also in Ravenna) are comfortable, and the staff is always friendly, so stick around to slurp. Capitol Hill, 903 19th Ave. E, 206.329.3236; Ravenna, 6504 20th Ave. NE, 206.525.5701; vioscafe.com 

Matzoh Ball Soup at Volunteer Park Cafe   Thick, fat matzoh balls and coarsely chopped vegetables give this matzoh ball soup ($4.50/cup, $5.50/bowl) a satisfying, toothsome texture. Drawing on a love of one-pot cooking, chef and owner Ericka Burke has been making this soup for years, and it’s one of the most popular dishes at the café. A daily offering (along with one other rotating soup at lunch), the soup boasts a house-made broth that has a strong, pleasant hit of black pepper along with large, pulled pieces of roasted chicken. Communal seating promises a social lunch hour. 1501 17th Ave. E; 206.328.3155; alwaysfreshgoodness.com

Pho Tai Nam at Ba Bar   This soup’s deeply flavorful, salty stock is made with oxtail and marrow bones, plus charred shallots and ginger at this airy enclave, which serves fresh, house-made Vietnamese food all day, every day. Large, satisfying bowls of steaming soup are served with a perfect amount of thin rice noodles, along with strips of North-west fatty beef brisket and lean London broil from Painted Hills Natural Beef ($9 breakfast, $11 lunch and dinner). Bowls are served on platters with traditional fresh pho accompaniments—basil sprigs, lime quarters and sliced jalapeño—along with a squeeze of oyster sauce and Sriracha, and can be ordered from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. most days, and until 4 a.m. on the weekends. Beef balls, shiitake mushrooms or tendon can be added to the bowl for $2 extra—we recommend the plump and succulent mushrooms. 550 12th Ave.; 206.328.2030; babarseattle.com 

Tortilla Soup at Poquitos    At less than $5 for lunch and $9 for dinner, this soup is an excellent choice day or night. Healthy, hardy and chock-full of vegetables, with a pronounced roasted tomato flavor, this bowl of soup is garnished with fresh cilantro, avocado, raw white onions (which add crisp texture) and a crumble of salty Cotija cheese. The chicken-broth base is infused with roasted red chiles, adding heat, and it’s loaded with pieces of grilled chicken. The large room seats diners in plush booths and cushioned swivel chairs around the bar, while the atrium-like bar area next door is an oasis of natural light, even on gray winter days. 1000 E Pike St.; 206.453.4216; vivapoquitos.com 

WALLINGFORD Shoyu Ramen at Yoroshiku Ramen joints are a dime a dozen in Seattle, but few do it better than Yoroshiku, which offers traditional foods from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, where chef and owner Keisuke Kobayashi grew up. At lunch, it’s all ramen, either traditionally served in a bowl with broth or as “tsuke men”—noodles dipped into broth before slurping. Select from three broths (chicken and fish broth seasoned with soy sauce, house-made miso base or house-made miso base with chili oil), and several additional ingredients; the list runs the gamut of an exotic and well-stocked pantry. Our recommendations: the popular shoyu ramen ($9), with the addition of a soft-boiled egg or roasted seaweed. Also, a house-made miso broth works well with the vegetable soup, which is hearty when accented with roasted mushrooms or sweet corn. 1913 N 45th St.; 206.547.4649; yoroshikuseattle.com

shoyuCHINATOWN–INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT  Brown Beef Noodle with Soup at Szechuan Noodle Bowl   Located on the edge of the International District in an aging building, this restaurant has long been a foodie favorite for its green onion pancakes and savory dumplings. Inside, perfunctory tables and a low ceiling await guests. The staff is friendly; however, be sure to bring cash, as plastic is not accepted. The vague-sounding brown beef noodle with soup ($7.95) gets a little lost on the menu full of delicious-sounding options, but you’d be remiss not to order it. A big bowl of hand-cut, thickly misshapen noodles (cu mian, similar to Japanese udon) comes topped with a deep brown broth that is rich and salty. Cubes of beef are soft, tender and full of flavor, and are accompanied by a handful of wilted baby bok choy and chopped green onions, which add a bit of verdancy to the bowl. 420 Eighth Ave. S; 206.623.4198

MADISON VALLEY  French Onion Soup at Luc  Tucked into the busiest corner of Madison Valley, Luc serves French classics in a casual dining room fit for all occasions. Chef and owner Thierry Rautureau began cooking in kitchens in France as a teenager, learning the regimented classics at a young age. It is no surprise then that this traditional French onion soup ($9) is the best the city has to offer. Made from a rich stock of poultry and veal, the slightly sweet broth is bulked up with caramelized onions. A thick, toasted baguette wedge floats in the center of the bowl, while sharp Gruyère cheese is layered over the top and broiled, producing a bitter-crispy topping that is irresistible. Good thing the dish is available on both the dinner and weekend brunch menus.  2800 E Madison St.; 206.328.6645; thechefinthehat.com 

MAGNOLIA  ‘Nona’ Vita at Mondello  The meatball soup at this Magnolia Village eatery is served as you’d expect it to be in Italy: no fancy garnishes and no secret flavors, just a wholesome, simple bowl of soup. Two friends—Corino Bonjrada and Giuseppe Forte—from north of Palermo own and run Mondello, named after the small town where they grew up. Small veal meatballs scented with parsley fill a shallow bowl of chicken stock, making the soup a hearty bowl fit for dinner. This version includes a small amount of spaghetti. Bonjrada’s mother, Enza, cooks most nights, while his grandmother, “Nona” Vita, is often perched at the bar waiting for closing time. The women’s presence, together with the heavy wood tables, the colorful room’s muted shades of blue and terra-cotta, and a hodgepodge of decorative items, lend to the overall homey feel. 2425 33rd Ave. W; 206.352.8700; mondelloristorante.com 

A handful of local places offer tasty and speedy options for soup lovers in a hurry

I blame my boyfriend for this one because that man is obsessed with soup. If I took him to a soup bar for lunch every day, he'd be thrilled. He even gets soup at……wait for it…..Fred Meyer, sometimes. Yeouch - sodium bomb.

Metropolitan Markets   In the grab-and-go grocer realm, Metropolitan Markets excels in its daily soup offerings—a large, self-serve bar offers various soups, depending on the location. French mushroom bisque is earthy and spiked with sherry, while the tomato basil leans toward creamy and is laden with fresh basil. All soups are made from scratch in-house by a team of trained culinary staff using traditional soup-making techniques.  $2.99–$8.99 for individual portions. Various locations; metropolitan-market.com  Shoyu ramen at Yoroshiku in Wallingford; photo by Easton Richmond

HOW TO :: USE HEMP SEEDS IN YOUR COOKING

Cannabis sativa is having a moment—from selling out in our first recreational marijuana stores to adding heft as hemp to vegetarian dishes around town. And while everyone is talking about the former, we’re here to celebrate the latter. hemp seeds

Hemp seeds (which have no psychoative effects) are a favorite of Colin Patterson, chef and owner of Sutra Seattle (Wallingford, 1605 N 45th St.; 206.547.1348; sutraseattle.com), the city’s only vegan fine dining restaurant. “Hemp seeds are one of the only plant-based foods that contains the same omega fats you find in fish,” says Colin Patterson, who has always relied on whole foods for flavor, not fake meats and proteins such as tempeh or seitan. “I don’t think [fake proteins] showcase food very well, it’s an easy out, and it’s also not very nutritious.”

Hemp seeds can be pulverized and used as a thickening agent for vegan-friendly “creams.” “If you add saffron to broth-soaked hemp seeds and purée them, you get a similar effect to a seafood saffron sauce,” as the omegas contribute a subtle fishy undertone.

At Sutra Seattle in Wallingford, Patterson uses hemp seeds for sauces, creams, salad dressings and soups. The seeds help enrich lobster mushroom risotto or a house-made Caesar salad, which he also blends with seaweed for a strong, ocean-like flavor. They may also be eaten raw, although Patterson suggests soaking them for at least 15 minutes before eating. “They have a very subtle, toasty flavor,” and soaking them helps to release the seeds’ nutritional flavor. “You’re making them come alive.”

Why you should try hemp seeds: For vegans or people with dairy allergies, hemp seeds give food a velvety texture that is otherwise hard to create. “Without [having to use] coconut milk or nuts, hemp seeds let you explore a fatty feel,” Patterson explains, “and diversity is good in a diet.”

How to use them at home: Soak the seeds in liquid—broth, water or vegetable juice—for 15 minutes or longer. Purée and strain to remove any solid pieces of the seed. For adding creaminess to soups, plan to use about 1 cup of hemp seeds per every 1.5 cups of liquid. For salad dressing, add soaked seeds to a blender with fresh herbs, lemon juice and water, and blend until the desired consistency is reached—no need for oil, as the seeds add the fat.

Where to find hemp seeds: Patterson orders them in bulk and recommends purchasing shelled hemp seeds, which break down more easily. They are sold as hemp hearts or shelled hemp seeds at most natural food stores, including Whole Foods Market (wholefoodsmarket.com; $21.99/pound). They are also available in 7-ounce (organic) and 8-ounce (non-organic) bags at PCC Natural Markets (pccnaturalmarkets.com, $10.50).

Click here for Patterson’s recipe for smoked lentil sunchoke cake with black garlic hempseed sauce.

**published in Seattle Magazine, February 2015 PHOTO CREDIT: CHUSTINE MINODA

HOW TO :: Quince Recipes

quinceSeveral years ago, I received an email from a friend, who had a friend who was giving away 40 pounds of quince. I didn’t even know what quince was back then, but I figured I could preserve it easily enough. I sent an email to this woman I’d never met. Within hours, I found myself driving to Ballard. I rang her bell, she invited me in, we had some tea and I walked away with over ten pounds of quince. Better still, I made a new friend. Every year since, Elaine has emailed me to let me know when her father’s quince tree ripens. I drive to her place, chat about food (last year’s topic du jour—kimchi), and walk away heady with a huge bag of fragrant yellow fruit. Quince is beautiful when poached, roasted or baked but it absolutely shines as a thin syrup or thick paste, and the pulp that cooks into membrillo is a natural byproduct of making the syrup. While the recipes take some time, starting with a large quantity (in this case five pounds) will keep your pantry stocked in quince.

Quince Syrup Makes about 2 pints | start to finish: 3 hours

The flavor of this syrup offers a hint of the floral fragrance that makes quince so appealing. This syrup can be made as thin or as thick as you like. Thinner syrup will take less time, and is best for adding to cocktails or soaking a sponge cake or other dessert. You can also choose not to reduce the liquid at all, and drink it as a refreshing beverage on its own.

10 cups water Juice from one lemon 5 pounds quince, thoroughly scrubbed clean of hair, stems and blossom ends removed

Fill a large pot with both water and lemon juice. Quarter quinces and immediately place into water. When all the quince is cut and added, the water should just cover the fruit. If needed, add more water to cover. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the fruit is cooked all the way through and can be easily pierced with a knife, but is not yet falling apart, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Strain fruit from cooking liquid, and set the fruit pulp aside. Using a fine mesh strainer (or cheesecloth-lined colander) filter the cooking liquid to strain out any remaining fruit fibers. Place the strained cooking liquid in a clean pot and set over medium-high heat. Reduce the syrup by about half or until desired consistency is reached. For a medium-body syrup, this will take about 45 minutes to an hour.

Prepare pint jars for canning. Add quince syrup to the jars. Using a damp clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars and place the lids and rings on the jars. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and let them cool on the counter. When the syrup is cool, check for proper seals and label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use, for up to a year. Once opened, store in the fridge.

washed jars • water bath

Quince Paste Makes 4 thin loaves | start to finish: 12 hours

Quince paste is also known as membrillo, and it’s commonly cut into squares and served alongside cheese. The paste is made from the fruit pulp reserved from making the syrup, requiring only some additional sugar. Note that you will need to commit some time to this project. Cooking the fruit down to a paste can take well over an hour and then it must be dried in an oven. Be patient and know that the effort will be handsomely rewarded.

Reserved pulp from 5 pounds cooked quince, about 8 cups 4 to 5 cups sugar

Place the cooked quince pulp in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Push the puree through a fine mesh strainer. Measure the puree and pour it into a large, heavy pot. For every cup of puree, stir in 1/2 cup of sugar. Set over medium low heat and cook, stirring regularly, until quite thick and paste-like, between 1 and 2 hours. It may stick to the pot as it thickens, so adjust the heat lower as needed. The paste is done when a small spoonful is placed on a plate and no liquid separates out.

While the pulp is cooking, prepare a pan for drying out the paste. You may use a shallow high-walled cookie sheet (such as a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan) or a smaller, deeper glass baking dish (about 11″ x 7″) depending on how thick you would like your sliced paste to be. Just make sure you dish is no deeper than two inches; otherwise the paste will not dry sufficiently in the center. Rub the entire surface with a thin layer of vegetable oil and line with a layer of lightly-oiled parchment paper. Set aside.

Turn oven to 140 degrees or the lowest setting it will allow. Pour the quince paste into your prepared baking pan and bake for 3 hours. Turn off the oven, and leave the paste inside overnight. In the morning, cut a small piece of quince paste to see if it is dried throughout. If still loose and jam-like in the middle, you may need to continue drying in the oven for a few hours more. When the paste is dried through, turn it out from the pan, remove the parchment paper and cut into four to six small loaves for easy storage. Wrap each paste loaf in fresh parchment paper before storing in the fridge, where it will keep for several months.

store in fridge

Originally published in Edible Seattle

PLANT SPOTLIGHT :: Salvia

Black & Blue SalviaI've been growing food for people in their backyards since 2004 and while my breadth of knowledge for edibles is deep, I've only just scratched the surface of all other plants. Landscape plants, bushes, annual flowers and trees remain a mystery to me. Solution? Write a column! Introducing PLANT SPOTLIGHT.

Salvia's are a large genus of plants that include all sage. Everything from the commonly known varieties, like Common Sage (aka Salvia Officinalis) that we use to cook with, to more showy ornamental plants like this Salvia Black & Blue. Woody and fragrant, salvia's add both color and productivity to any garden. Most importantly, perhaps, they are powerful pollinator magnets - attracting hummingbirds and insects to the garden. With blooms ranging from red to purple and heavily scented leaves, salvias are a hardy plant and will last for years in your garden. (Note that for hard winters, you must definitely mulch!)

I've grown Tangerine Sage in my gardens for years and love it. It does well in a large pot on my patio and absolutely explodes if given the space in a garden bed. I use the leaves in sun tea infusions or add them to tomato salads. Plus, the blooms can't be beat for attracting hummingbirds to a space.

All plants have different growing needs, but salvias do well in full sun or partly shaded areas of the garden. They are off-putting to most pests, so you shouldn't have to worry about deer or bunnies. And they are drought tolerant, so a great choice for any apartment dwellers that are adding containers (which tend to dry out quickly) or a garden bed that does not have regular irrigation.

Swanson's Nursery put together this amazing collection of salvia plants - a great resource for anyone wanting to add herbs, color and attract pollinators to the garden. In honor of National Pollinator Week, let me also add that an edible garden is only prolific when insects, bugs and birds spend time there. These pollinators play crucial roles in our ecosystem and help to disperse pollen and seed. While bees are most easily thought of as pollinators, flies, butterflies, beetles, moths and even bats are help this natural lifecycle. With a foundational role in our ecosystem, it is thought that pollinators contribute to 80% of the planet's plant life. So, it is VERY IMPORTANT that we all do our part and support this process. Swanson's also put together a great pollinator resource, for a quick reference tool. If you live in the city, go nab yourself a plant today!

And if you need MORE help, don't forget to check out Swanson's Grow With Us Project - they offer advice and give you a discount on plants. Total win. AND, and, and……stay tuned for details on a great promotional give away they are hosting next week! We are collecting awesome garden ideas on Pinterest and would love to hear from YOU. I'll have details here - stay tuned.

All expressed opinions and experiences are my own words. This is a sponsored post. My post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.

TGIF Cocktail Hour :: Fir-Tip Syrup Recipe

Spruce TipsI spent Easter weekend out in Skykomish and marveled at the many shades of green on the drive up. Evergreen trees stood dark and pine-y against emerald colored leaves and lime-y new growth. It is truly a magical time in the tree canopy - just look around! On a recent walk in Discovery Park, I reached up and pulled a pale chartreuse bit from a fir trees outstretched limbs and chewed whilst strolling. Good stuff. It reminded me now is the PERFECT time to used this Fir-tip Syrup recipe!  

The fir is a conifer tree (cone-bearing, woody trees & I'll be the first to admit that tree identification is not my forte) that can grow as tall as a NYC building and live several hundred years. Fir trees are in the same family with Pine and Spruce trees - the are the great giants of the forest. Tips from new needle growth can be clipped and harvested for syrups, salads or simply their herbaceous quality. Try some in place of rosemary in your next halibut dinner. Or drink it, like I recommend here.

Just as you'd suspect, this fir-tip syrup recipe is made with sugar water and fir tips. Cook them all together and let the fir greens steep, it's oils releasing into the liquid. Traditionally sugar is used for a simple syrup base, but I'll encourage you to consider some natural sweeteners like honey or pure maple syrup which both work using the same technique.

Fir tips are super woodsy tasting and smacks of a pine-y forest. The resin undertone works well with a floral gin or cedar-smoky bourbon - everyone is most often fond of some fir-tip syrup in a G&T, that woodsy syrup lending an lemon-y and pleasingly astringent flavor. (Skip the squeeze of lime.) I'm betting some of you will have ideas, too - leave them here!

This recipe is officially from Jennifer Hahn - Pacific Feast | A Cook's Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine. If you haven't picked up a copy and you actually LIVE in the Northwest and eat food daily, you must get your hands on this book immediately. It's available online from Skipstone Publishing (who conveniently also published both Urban Pantry & Fresh Pantry!) and at Book Larder in Fremont - the best food lovers bookstore in Seattle.

Spruce (or Fir) Tip Syrup

4 cups spruce (or fir) tips 4 cups water 2/3 cup sugar

In a medium saucepan, cover green tips with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Strain out green tips with a fine sieve, reserving liquid. Measure amount of liquid you have and add an equal amounts sugar. (1:1 water:sugar). Return syrup back to a boil and reduce until the consistency of syrup, about 30 minutes.

TGIF Cocktail Hour :: Citrus & Mint Fizz

It's FRIDAY! Time to squeeze some fresh citrus, bust out the cocktail shaker and invite a few friends over to unwind. No need to make it a big project, or turn it into a long night, but with TGIF Cocktail Hour, I invite you to slow down, socialize and sip. I'm starting this series with………stopyellingatme……….a non alcoholic beverage. Of course, you can mix some vodka or gin in here if so inclined, but truly - this drink stands on it's own and feels every bit as decadent without the addition of booze.

© Esra Paola Crugnale | Dreamstime Stock PhotosAt any party, I like to offer a non-alcoholic drink that is every bit as festive as a fancy cocktail or wine. I’ve been making this one for years after seeing a version in the New York Times holiday section. For this fizz-filled drink, a heavily spiced syrup is added to fresh orange juice, along with a drop of peppermint oil, to make a perfect savory, refreshing drink. You can substitute half of the lime juice for lemon juice, or use all lemon juice if so desired. The syrup can be flavored with many other spice options--try allspice, fennel, or even a red chile for some heat. Make extra--most guests will choose this over Prosecco.

Citrus & Mint Fizz Makes 4 drinks

1 1/2 cups sugar 1/2 cup water 2 tablespoons ground cloves 2 cinnamon sticks 2 whole star anise pods 3 thin slices fresh ginger 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract 2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice

Fizzy water or Seltzer, for serving

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and ginger. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Once all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and set aside to infuse and cool completely. Once it’s cool, strain out the spices and stir in the peppermint extract.

In large pitcher, combine the orange juice, lime juice, and peppermint syrup. Stir vigorously until well incorporated. You will see little peppermint oil bubbles on the surface of the juice, so work to emulsify and whisk these in as best as you can.

In a highball glass filled with ice, add juice to the halfway-mark and then add fizzy water to fill. Serve immediately,  and stir well in between pourings.

PANTRY NOTE: Leftover syrup (as if!) can be stored in a small glass jar in the fridge for many weeks or even several months. You can use this syrup in place of sweet vermouth in a Manhattan, or try some with hot water and brandy for an updated version of a toddy.

Photo by: © Esra Paola Crugnale | Dreamstime Stock Photos Recipe excerpted from Fresh Pantry

House-Made Mayo :: a Novel Approach to Using Leftovers

Miller's Guild Chef Mixes Up a House-Made Mayo (Originally published in Seattle Magazine, April 2014) Chef/partner Jason Wilson turns waste into wonder with his signature condiment, Motoraioli   

Chef Jason Wilson grew up in a family of butchers, and as a kid in Minnesota, he relished the fatty, gnarly bit on the end of a roast. As a chef, he developed modern techniques and tastes, which are on display at Crush in Madison Valley, but with his newly opened Miller’s Guild downtown, he returns to a more visceral style.

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“It’s wood-fired cooking in a nutshell,” Wilson says of the 9-foot-long, custom-made, open-flame grill that serves as the restaurant’s centerpiece. Instead of traditional grates, the grill is tilted at an angle to funnel “the goodies”—seasoned fat, grease and oils—into a channel. Early on, Wilson dipped some focaccia in it, and proclaimed, “This is good!”

This eureka moment went on to inform the menu. Using the collected grease as an infused oil, Wilson created a house-made mayo, naming it Motoraioli in homage to the brown hue the drippings impart. In home kitchens, leftover roasting juices are more commonly used in gravy, or, gasp, treated as waste. Wilson showcases it in his signature aioli. For brunch, Motoraioli is served alongside fries as a dipping sauce, while for dinner, it appears in an appetizer of corned beef tongue, house pickles and leeks.

How to make motoraioli: You’ll need about 1 cup of fat drippings for a good portion of mayonnaise, which is made by emulsifying the oil with egg yolks, as you would with a traditional homemade mayo recipe.

Save the drippings: “If you’re searing a steak in a pan, or making a standing rib roast or pot roast, collect the fat that’s left over,” instructs Wilson. Depending on the meat cooked and the seasoning used, flavors will vary. Save the fats from several recipes by storing them in a covered container in the fridge, where it will keep for several months. Saved drippings can be used as a basting “butter” for roasts, grilled meats or vegetables—grilled radicchio is a favorite.

Where you can find motoraioli: On the menu at Miller’s Guild or in your own kitchen.

Why you should try it: Using every last bit of an ingredient means you are maximizing both flavor and your budget. Why spend $3 on a jar of mayo when you can make it at home using an ingredient you would have thrown away?

Want step-by-step instructions on how to make it? We've got 'em here.

5 for Friday :: Farmer D aka Daron Joffe

I have the great providence of being surrounded by inspiring people. 5 for Friday questions will be asked of artists, farmers, curators, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs etc – all of the people that I find interesting. Everyone gets the same five questions.

missionI met Farmer D several years ago at a friend's wedding. I knew in advance we had SO much in common (us being urban farmers and all) that I offered to pick him up from the airport and drive him to the wedding venue out in Carnation. We'd never met before, but I was stoked to connect with a kindred spirit. So, there we were, two strangers who dig on urban farming, hanging out like old friends, and it's pretty much been the same ever since. The love I have for this man is deep and feels old; I am pretty certain we've crossed paths in other lives. D is my hero, truly. Check this out………

Farmer D is an urban farmer (and rural farmer!) extraordinaire. He owns Farmer D Organics - "an environmentally friendly, socially conscious business that creates farms and products for the earth and its people." I mean….come on. He has been farming biodynamically since the mid-90s and is a figurehead for living a green life. Several years ago he created biodynamic compost (which, BTW, you can have shipped to your garden!) in his then-hometown of Atlanta and opened a handful of small retail stores to support budding urban farmers in Georgia. He also works with his lovely father to create signature veggie boxes, also for sale in their online shop. They are beautifully constructed and an excellent investment, as they'll last for years.

In his spare time (as if) Farmer D consults on large-scale projects like the amazing Natirar Farm at Virgin Spa in NJ. And when I say "Virgin", I mean Richard Branson i.e. Virgin Records, Virgin Air - you feelin' me on this?? Truly, there is too much to tell you here, so if you'd like to poke around, check out this mans amazing gallery.

In short, he's a one-man dynamo who seems never to lose steam. (Check out #3 below, to see what I mean.) I'm so honored to call him a friend and I'm so excited to be ever-learning from him. And, OF COURSE, he's now written a book about his mission - Citizen Farmers! The book is illustrated with photographs of gardens designed by Farmer D as well as line drawings and advice on establishing a biodynamic garden, composting, soil composition and replenishment, control­ling pests and disease, cooperative gardening practices, and more. A mouthful! I can't wait to read it, and you should too. Order direct from D here. And meet him here………

1. What did you eat for breakfast this morning? I ate poached eggs on millet with arugula, avocado, and hot sauce.

2. What is one thing you do EVERY day, by choice? I spend time in the garden with my two year old son Tilden.

3. If you had all the time in the world and no budget restrictions, what one project would you take on just now? (Can be a hobby, business, trip, etc) I would set up demonstration farms in communities around the world to teach people best practices in sustainable and biodynamic agriculture and social enterprise. These demonstration farms would help foster healthier, more resilient communities around the world.

4. Where is your 'happy place'? In the garden or on the tractor

5. What is your signature dish - something you make well and consistently? Collard Burritos. Instead of a tortilla, I slightly braise whole collard green leaves and then stuff them with all kinds of fillings: from mexican rice and beans to indian curry. I always have a grain (brown rice or quinoa), farm-fresh veggies, and a protein (like black beans, free-range chicken or quinoa). It's fresh and delicious every time.

 

Best Salads in Seattle

Amy PenningtonIt's not easy being green. Literally. Yesterday, after another lack luster salad selection while out to lunch, I took to the airways and posted a note about my abhorrence of "mixed green salad." You know the one - a small plate full of simply dressed greens that look like the mixed salad bag from Trader Joe's. I hate those salads, truly. To me, they are the ultimate intimation of either a lazy chef or passionless chef. Am I being judgmental? Yes, of course, and listen….. I know that it is tough stuff to run a kitchen, work your rear off and not make a lot of money. But I also know (know!) it takes so little effort to make a nutritious, green salad that tastes great. Take, for instance, the Leafy Green salad at the Dahlia Lounge. For years, that salad has not changed and for good reason. Expect a generous pile of full-sized frilly greens served with a covering of grated parmesan and a thin crostini with goat cheese. There are herbs in there, but not enough to make it super herbaceous (like the memory-searing, ultimately perfect salad at Mary's Fish Camp in NYC) - just a subtle hint of the plants oil on your palate.

Thankfully, there are a few places around Seattle that offer amazing salads, according to the horde of people that posted on my Facebook account yesterday. Rather than letting the crowd-sourced info fall to the wayside, I decided to share it here. So in typical blog-y fashion, here is a round up of Seattle's Best Salads. I took the liberty to break them into sub-categories for ease, and because frankly, I don't consider a traditional Lyonnaise salad of lardon & eggs to be particularly "green" (i.e. predominantly vegetative & healthy). From the results, however, I'd been clearly (and happily!) overruled.

……….. SIGNATURE GREEN SALADS (expect to find these most any time you visit)

Leafy Greens from Dahlia Lounge

Salade Vert from Cafe Presse - a stack of butter lettuce with a mustard vinaigrette & sprinkling of hazelnuts

Jersey Salad at Delancey - two call outs for this one!

Lettuces Salad at The Whale Wins - three shout outs for this one!

………..

SEASONAL SALADS

Insalata Di Ciccoria from Spinasse - chicory, pear & more

Winter Chicory salad with citrus, sheep's feta and pistachios at Delancey

Raw Winter Greens salad from Golden Beetle (with a cumin vinaigrette that is so subtly brilliant)

Haricot verts, shaved asparagus, almond and Gribiche sauce, that was noted to be a "simple, rogue, delicious salad," from Marrow

Brussel Sprouts Salad with The Station Pizzeria - two shout outs for this one!

Kale & Roasted Cauliflower Salad at Grub

…………..

GREENS WITH A LITTLE OOMPH (i.e. Protein)

Salmon Nicoise at Nordstrom Café

Chicken Saigon Salad from Ba Bar

Corned Lamb salad at Revel 

Duck Confit salad at Cafe Campagne

**Special thanks to all the reco's from (in order of salads listed above): Jenise Silva, Cara Ely, Lara Hamilton, Rachel Belle Krampfner, Tara Austen Weaver, Rachel Davies, Carilyn Platt, Caylee Betts, Henry Lo, Lorraine Goldberg & Regina De Wing (and apologies to anyone I left off, which happened if I could not find your salad online OR you didn't specify a salad - leave your note in the comments!)

3 Easy Steps To Being a Better Cook

_MG_5594One of my most grateful experiences in life is that I'm surrounded by home cooks, single people who don't cook and non-foodies who aren't hip on the latest food trends. While I'm in the food business and think about food all day, it's refreshing to be surrounded by people who can honestly give less of a shit about a sauce reduction or what grape we're drinking. That said, it is also great r&d, as I get to see how every day people cook and eat at home. Here, I've compiled small, but effective cooking suggestions to institute immediately in your kitchen. They may seem innocuous, but they're game changers, I promise. Hit me with q's in the comments, if so inclined. oxo amyp

1. Blend, Baby. Blend. - When a recipe calls for you to put "x" amount of dry or wet ingredients in a bowl - blend them. So if you're making oatmeal cookies and  you have flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl, stir them once or twice before adding other ingredients. This ensures your final dish will be well-blended and steers you clear from missteps like eating an entire clump of baking soda in your cookie bite.

2. Buy a Flexible Rubber Spatula - Use a rubber spatula when transferring ingredients between bowls, pots, etc. A flexible rubber spatula expertly scrapes down the sides of cooking equipment and allows for alllllllll of the ingredients to be captured. I have watched countless home cooks leave behind 1/4 cup or more of batter, dough or fillings - not good. The expression "lick the bowl" does not exist in my kitchen, nor will anyone be licking batter from beaters anytime soon. I know, I know….bah humbug.

3. Calibrate & Preheat Your Oven - When a recipe tells you to preheat the oven, you must preheat the oven. And while we're at it, you should most definitely pick up a (cheap) oven thermometer next time you're at the grocery. They are less than $5 and a fabulous investment allowing you to gauge the actual temperature your oven heats to. Often, home ovens are off a few degrees and with the aid of a thermometer, you can make allowances (up or down) to bake at appropriate temperature called for.

How to Prep Your Garden Beds

Plotting Your Way to the Garden(all pictures by Della Chen Photography)

With the basic principles covered (water, sun, and spaceseeds) and the impending approach of spring, it is officially time to break ground in the garden. Whether starting from scratch, or adding to an already growing landscape, following these general rules will help guide you through the process. And checking out some online vids for how to prepare your gardens for spring is never a bad idea.

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The next step in the great urban gardening adventure is to actually get to building and shaping your beds. First, though, you have to make sure your ground is ready to plant.

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Prepping your Plot City farmers need to start with a nice clear garden space before building or planting — you may need to kill grass or pull weeds before starting. To clear grass or sod, you can rent a sod cutter (which will include directions), or use good, old-fashioned manual labor to cut away squares of grass with a spade. Turn each dug-up patch of grass upside down — burying the grass, exposing the soil, and allowing the grass to rot over time. Instant homemade compost!

For invasive ground cover — plants that root down deep and grow back even after weeding or mowing — there really is no easy way short of getting in there and mindfully digging it out. Ground cover plants spread quickly, as is their intended habit, and so you must be careful to remove every root system. Use a shovel (I prefer my spade) and dig deep, loosening the soil a bit deeper than the roots have grown. For truly invasive plants, like ivy, you must also take care to remove all leaf matter, as even cuttings can produce new plants. Have more questions about grass removal? Post in the comments and I'll do my best to help!

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Once the area is clear, it is wise to compost and mulch it. In Erin's garden (above) we had a crew of friends over one winter Saturday morning and worked really hard for six hours to complete the task. Be sure to share your future vegetable harvest with your helpers! Here are the layers you'll need:

• An inch-thick layer of compost will add needed nutrients and organic matter to the soil.

• A layer of mulch will further aid in decay, which is good because it invites good bacteria into your soil in addition to protecting the exposed soil from erosion and compaction from rain.

• A layer of cocoa bean chaff ($10 a bag at Theo Chocolate in Seattle; you can also use wood chip mulch) to eventually break down and decay into compost. (NOTE: Cocoa bean chaff can be life-threatening to dogs, so if you're a pet owner, another form of mulch is highly recommended!)

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• Use burlap coffee bean bags (procured from Stumptown Roasters and available at other Seattle roasting houses) to cover the garden. You can also use coffee grounds and newspaper, or just cardboard — any not-too-thick material that will decompose and add organic matter to the soil is perfect. Covering the compost and soil has many benefits; it will keep sun off any left-behind plants preventing them from growing, warm up the earth, and further help the process of decomposition.

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Materials When you're ready to plant, it's time to build the garden beds themselves. Beds are essentially formed mounds of soil that are raised higher than the surrounding landscape. If you're starting with a blank slate, there are many options for building a bed outside of simply mounding up the soil.

When contemplating any space, the first two items to consider are aesthetics and budget — a happy marriage of both principles should always be your goal. You can use a variety of materials for garden beds, so long as there is support for the bed walls to hold in the containing soil. These super simple designs allow you to avoid construction if you have an aversion to tools or lack any formal toolbox or training:

• Cinderblocks are inexpensive if not free, are often salvageable from existing sites, and require no tools at all outside your physical brawn to stack them.

 Sticks and fallen branches you gather from the ground can be used to erect a bed. Create a retaining fence by pounding rebar or another sturdy stake material about 12" deep and about 1-2 inches apart into the earth in parallel rows. This acts as your frame wherein you can stack sticks horizontally between them creating a wall. You can fill in any gaps with smaller sticks or Spanish moss.

• Wood can be used to easily construct a rectangular bed — look for untreated lumber (cheap and durable) or cedar(more expensive than lumber, but longer-lasting). You can even add a ledge to sit on when you weed your garden beds.

As for the perfect size, remember not to build any bed more than 4 feet wide. Any larger and you won't be able to easily reach in to the center. Also be sure to leave a two-foot minimum of space between each bed to allow for walking between beds.

Soil Now that the garden beds are complete, you'll need to fill them. The easiest way to do this is to have a mix of topsoil and compost delivered — I recommend a 70-30 mix. Often new gardeners will their beds exclusively with compost; while it adds necessary organic matter to your soil, compost also retains water and lacks the mineral structure found in topsoil. Topsoil allows for drainage and is a necessary ingredient in any garden mix. When you fill your beds, be sure to fill them to the very top. You want the soil/compost flush with the lip of the bed, as soil will compact over time. This can create a shade ledge in the bed — not the best for sun-loving seedlings.

If you're starting the year with already-built beds, you'd do well to top them off with a bit of pure compost. I cover the topsoil with about an inch of compost and hoe it in, but any amount is better than none. Compost helps add good bacteria, organic matter, and nutrients like nitrogen to your soil. Always choose organic, and opt for a compost made close to home. Many city municipalities are turning their waste into compost, so call your city offices for details.

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5 for Friday with Justine Ashbee, Artist & Weaver

I have the great providence of being surrounded by inspiring people. 5 for Friday questions will be asked of artists, farmers, curators, creators, innovators, entrepreneurs etc – all of the people that I find interesting. Everyone gets the same five questions. Justine Ashbee

This week I'm actually WITH my friend Justine Ashbee at her flat in Brighton, England. I've been wanting to spotlight her for some time and spending time with her the last several days gave me a lucky peak into her work and life. Justine, in the simplest term, is an artist. Quirky and gorgeous, she is always creating amazing items and has a sense of style that is profound and unique. I'm in love with all of her creative pieces, but to be honest, I even love seeing how she pulls an outfit together.

I met Justine several years ago, back in Seattle, at a dinner with mutual friends. She was bright and sunny and made a healthy, delicious seaweed salad - I liked her immediately. Justine attended the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design and honed her artistic craft there. The below pic is of her earlier work, though (like me!) you can purchase one of these whimsical prints for your home.

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Today, she can be found weaving at her farm-side studio in East Sussex, England with her business Native Line. Having moved here for love (she is recently engaged), she is settling into a new space. In her studio she makes gorgeous metallic fiber wall hangings (many of which were just picked up and purchased by the new Ace Hotel in London) and hanging light pendants by hand. This fine craft demands an eye to detail and a steady hand. Her studio is at once pristine and blowsy - clips of inspiration pages piled throughout the room and random found objects displayed. I spied a birds nest, smooth curves of a thin wooden rod and several of her prints waiting to be hung on my recent visit.

Justine Ashbee weave

Ashbee sells her work in the UK and state side. You'd be lucky to pick up one of her pieces via her online shop. For custom orders, you can find her directly on her site, Native Line. Personally, I'm in love with her woven talisman bracelets and I wear mine non-stop. Finally, I strongly suggest you follow her Instagram feed, which offers both new projects and her inspiration boards - all good stuff!

1. What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Delicious sprouts & cabbage with incredible leftovers of lentils & kale.

2. What is one thing you do EVERY day, by choice? I make a vegetable-fruit juice.

3. If you had all the time in the world and no budget restrictions, what one project would you take on just now? (Can be a hobby, business, trip, etc) I would go down the Nile and see all the ancient Egyptian sacred sites from a house boat.

4. Where is your happy place? I would say feeling physically healthy is my happy place, amidst efficient productivity. When I am producing a lot of work and I feel like it's a job well done AND I'm healthy, that's my happy place.

5. What is your signature dish - something you make well and consistently? It would either be pulled pork - I wake up really early and make it with hardy cider from the local country and I put loads of fennel, thyme, garlic, paprika, cumin, chili peppers and onions as a base and then dry rub the pork and stuff it full of thyme and garlic. Then, I sear it and put it in a pan and pour in local hard cider (and maybe some beer) and I braise it for hours.

[Editors note. Her finance adds……..."And then you do that amazing slaw and that fucking bazang-bazang," which turns out to be a jerk BBQ sauce that she makes on the side. "A little witches brew with my wizard assistant," she says, "and a sesame-cabbage slaw."]

Sharing Economy - Gardens Goes Co-Op

A recent post on Fast Company recognized that sharing economies continue to grow. They spotlighted websites working to share food across communities (left over mashed potatoes? No problem!) and noted the sheer numbers associated with wasted food. "Globally, 30 to 50 percent of all food produced is lost or wasted between crop and plate--that's between 1.2 and 2 billion tons. Personally, each of us in the United States and Europe is responsible for trashing between 200 and 400 pounds a year of completely usable food--by contrast, in sub-saharan Africa and South Asia, people waste only 12 to 20 pounds a year." This all reminded me of my passion-project, Urban Garden Share. UGS was launched in Seattle in 2009 - this spring marks it's fourth year of connecting neighbors over shared garden space. We have expanded to several cities across the U.S. with more in demand, which is super exciting. It's a great tool for sourcing and sharing your garden space - ready to get growing this year? Please connect! www.urbangardenshare.org

*Photo credit KK Dundas

 

Boozy Milk & Egg Cocktails - SIP Northwest Magazine

I write a regular column on green-organic beverages for the new & awesome mag, SIP Northwest. It's an informative publication for anyone interested in sipping and supping across the Pacific Northwest. My most recent article is on one of my favorite cool season habits - boozy milk cocktails and egg-y apertifs. Years ago, my friend Colin threw a New Years day brunch with his parents (who were visiting from Napa) and reminded me about the luxury of a Ramos Gin Fizz. It's an annual tradition for them, but many moons ago I had my first sip of RGF at Freeman's in NYC with some in-the-know foodie girlfriends. All these years, I couldn't for the life of me remember what the name of the drink was, but it's floral tone and egg white finish haunted me. Thank God for Colin, because after that recent New Years I was hooked. I have since adopted the tradition of imbibing them for any celebratory occasion.

As for boozy milk drinks, the introduction to the article says it all. You can take the girl out of Long Island.......... To purchase a copy of the magazine's digital issue OR to subscribe (please do!) visit SIP Northwest.

Spiced Apple Chutney & Honey Pumpkin Butter Recipe

  ApplesIn late fall, gardens heave a near audible final breath and give up the last of their fruits. Fields turn fragrant with the pungent smell from fermenting fallen fruit and the last of anything sweet is gathered from bare tree branches or browning vines. For a canning enthusiast, or a 100-mile dieter, November marks the last ditch effort to get fresh food in a jar and up into your cupboard for winter indulgences. Apples hold well on the branch and are often harvested late in fall. Apples are quite flexible as they have a higher acid content and can be successfully canned or paired with a myriad of additional fruits or infusions. I have it on high esteem that chutneys are coming back in vogue, and this one will not disappoint. This fragrant chutney relies heavily on spices for flavor and has a bit of a bite from the chili flakes and cayenne pepper. Cider apples make the best chutney, as they are tart and quite firm so they will hold their shape and not turn too soft from cooking. If you can’t find cider apples, it’s ok to substitute another firm, tart apple.

Spiced Apple Chutney

Makes about 6 to 8 half pints | start to finish: 1.5 hours

1 onion, finely chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon coarse salt 2 pounds cider apples, cored and cut into small dice (do not peel) 12 whole cloves 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon curry powder 1/2 teaspoon cardamom 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 teaspoon mustard seed, coarsely ground 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger 1/2 cup raisins 1 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup brown sugar

Heat oil in sauce pan over medium high heat. Add onions and salt and sauté until onions start to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add apples and sauté until they start to brown, another 10 to 12 minutes. Add all spices, crystallized ginger and raisins, stirring for two minutes to incorporate. Add apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cook until thick and apples are beginning to break down, but still hold their shape, about 45 minutes to an hour. Fill clean jars with chutney, leaving 1/2 –inch head space. Using a damp, clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars, and top the jars with lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes. Remove each jar with tongs and let cool on the counter. Once cool, make sure seals are secure. Sealed jars may be stored in a cool dark cupboard for up to one year.

*washed jars *water bath

Not many fruits are available this late in the season, but pumpkins store well and make a fantastic spread when cooked down and scented with spicy notes. Pumpkins are more of a challenge for the casual canner. As sugar levels and flesh density vary greatly between pumpkins, it is difficult to say with utmost certainty that water-bath canning of pumpkin butter is guaranteed to be safe. Though I have never had an issue with my butters, a wonderful (and utterly safe) alternative is to make a freezer jam and store your pumpkin butter in the freezer. Butters can be spread thick on toast or morning pastry, or used as a base layer in tarts and pies. Smear a generous heap on a tart shell, then fill the rest of the tart with melted chocolate ganache.

Honey Pumpkin Butter

Makes about 5 half pints | start to finish: 4 to 5 hours

3 lb sugar pie pumpkin, trimmed of outer flesh and diced to 1-inch cube 2 cups sugar 1 vanilla bean, cut and beans scraped 1 cup water 1 lemon, cut in half 1 orange, cut in half 1 1/2 cups honey 1 teaspoon cardamom 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large saucepan, add pumpkin, sugar, vanilla pod and seeds and water. Add all citrus halves to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook over low heat, until pumpkin is soft and can be easily pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to an hour. Remove lemon and orange halves and skim any citrus seeds from the surface. Remove vanilla bean.

Working in small batches, purée pumpkin in blender until completely smooth. Return smooth pumpkin purée back into the pot and add the honey, cardamom and nutmeg. Set over low heat and cook, stirring often. Butter will become thick and lava-like, producing big, low bubbles. Cook down until butter is thick and leaves a firm trail on the bottom of the pan when you stir. This can take up to 2 to 3 hours, depending on how thick you want your butter.

When pumpkin butter is cooked to your liking, add to small jars or plastic containers. If using glass jars, note that butter will expand slightly as it freezes, so it’s best to leave at least 1/2-inch head space to ensure jars will not crack. Let cool slightly on counter before sealing with lids and freezing.

*washed jars or freezer tubs; store chilled

Originally published in Edible Seattle November/December 2010

 

Where Have All the Bees Gone?

beesHave you heard about the bees? Are you paying attention to the bees? A few years back Colony Collapse Disorder was identified and got a bit of press, particularly in agriculture circles. Bees in the almond fields of California started disappearing. This affected the bottom line for the almond industry, and when money is on the table, people tend to take notice. Flash forward to today and all bees are under stress. I've just inherited a P-Patch on top of Queen Anne. I was so excited to see beehives onsite when I took my first tour three weeks back. Yesterday, I received the P-Patch newsletter and I've come to find out our bees are gone. Gone or dead, but they are no longer in the hive. This breaks my heart.

Where have all the bees gone? I heard a little buzz about debilitated populations early this spring and checked in with my favorite beekeeper, Corky Luster of Ballard Bee Company. He echoed my concern, "Want to buy some beehives?" he asked me half-kidding. He has lost bees this year, as well. Corky started his business, in small part, to help rescue bee populations. I can only imagine the sinking feeling he has as he walks up to empty hives.

For anyone interested in beekeeping, now may be the time. It's not 'easy', but it's not hard. Not only would you be supplying your neighborhood plants with necessary pollinators, (and grabbing some jars of honey for your pantry) you may actually be helping in some small part. Helping effect the population. Helping beekeepers figure out what the hell is going on. Helping to make a change. Now, more than ever, is a great time to committ. The scale needs tipping.

And for the record, I live in a small apartment. I wanted to put bee hives on my east-facing deck (though I was concerned about them getting enough sun) but my neighbor was really against it. (She asked me to keep guinea pigs or rabbits instead!) Some people just don't like bees, I dig it. But now is a great time to figure out just how sweet they can be.