Make Food

  • Portlandia I spent a weekend in Portland recently.  For half the time, I was in regular old Portland at an old fancy hotel with no sign of hipsters.  I drove the three hours to attend industry meetings in a windowless ballroom.  The meetings were about as exciting as you might expect.  Our client dinner in El Gaucho’s private room was just as fancy as you might expect.  Also, stuffy.  If it were on my personal tab, I probably would have regretted the $1,000 bill.  But it wasn’t, so I didn’t mind much.  I happily ate my steak and chose the wine. In my few spare moments of free time, I snuck a peek into all the glory of Portlandia.  Seattle is not so far from Portlandia, both in distance and, in some neighborhoods, culturally.  But Portland takes it to a much higher level of hipsterness that I can’t even pretend to understand.  I drank an americano at Stumptown.  I watched girls (…and boys) in neon leggings paired with hand-knit oversized grandpa sweaters and majorly messy top-knots saunter to the barista, showing a complete lack of interest in life generally.  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are from Seattle, but these Stumptown folks seemed to ...
  • Croissants Did you know that homemade croissants take three days of work? Me neither! A week ago, while experiencing a craving that I can only imagine rivals a pregnant woman’s craving for ice cream and sardines, I had a hankering for croissants. I selected the first google hit that popped up and was pleasantly surprised to see that Fine Cooking described making “classic croissants” as “not difficult.” Bullshit, I say. I (J) am not a baker, per se. I don’t typically like to measure ingredients, which is incredibly ironic given my type A personality. I like to cook by feel and sight. Freud would’ve likely opined that I acquired this trait while I watched my mother and grandmother cook. Cooking with my grandma would go something likes this: Little J would ask, “How much bread crumbs should I use, Grandma?” And she would reply, “Use enough to mix them in with the meat.” Me, “WTF.” Alright, I didn’t say WTF to G-ma, but I’m sure the 5 year-old equivalent of WTF went through my large, child-sized head. Suffice it to say, I found the precision required for baking croissants pretty darned challenging. Below is my memory of the recipe or you can read the ...
  • Three Hour Lunch at Salumi First, let me start off by saying that I definitely wasn’t business drunk.  Mostly because I wasn’t drunk at all.  But I did sip on 2.5 glasses of wine during a business lunch recently.  In my defense, it was a 3-hour lunch.  And the partner who invited me most certainly had more glasses of wine.  And never once did I question my soberness or professionalism or proper etiquette. But, still, 2.5 glasses in the middle of the workday is not insignificant. Second, ohmygoodness Salumi is delicious and really really really knows how to impress its backroom guests.  J has been many times for sandwiches at lunch.  Together, we had been once before (hence these photos from last summer—even with my 2.5 glasses of vino, I didn’t have the courage to photograph the “business-drunk” lunch).  I should warn you that the lunch would have been awful for a vegetarian or anyone on a low-sodium diet.  There was meat in every. single. one. of the 6? 7? 8? courses.  Except for the dessert course.  But for at least 5 minutes I was under the impression that the chef told us the vanilla gelato and blackberries were sprinkled with pig salt.  It turns out, ...
  • Christmas Lefse As a child, I believed that early Christmas morning was the absolute highlight of the holiday season. This year, as I look back to reminisce and try to place into context both what I’ve lost and gained this year, I am struck by the magic my parents created for my brother and I when we were kids. They always made sure Christmas music was playing in the background, each of the seemingly millions of lights were lit throughout the house, fresh coffee was brewing and something delicious was baking for breakfast. Our home was inevitably warm and cozy, no matter how early we awoke them. And, without fail, the stockings were filled with the most amazing, priceless trinkets and candies from Bartell’s Drug Store (presumably?) that one could ever hope to receive. It was all sparkle and shine and hope and excitement. Magic. The magic this season is decidedly less sparkly and shiny and hopeful than in years past. It was further dampened by my release of tears/sobs early yesterday afternoon. But it was rekindled a bit during an evening surrounded by family and a night cuddled up with J and Stella by the light of our tree (where we watched ...
  • Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving I’m thankful for the simple moments—hot coffee and fresh omelets for breakfast after a short jog in the rain with Stella. I’m thankful for the indulging moments—our favorite sour cream chocolate cake with cream cheese peanut butter frosting and chocolate ganache. I’m especially thankful for the meaningful moments—spending the day with family and friends and appreciating the life we’ve been given to live as fully and honestly and happily as possible. We wish all of you a very happy thanksgiving.
  • Cupcakes & Grieving When we arrived in Scottsdale, I was beyond excited when I saw a Sprinkles shop mere blocks from our hotel. J and I love a good cupcake and I’d never had the privilege of eating one from the Beverly Hills-based bakery. We have strong opinions about the Seattle cupcake scene (Trophy is overrated, Cupcake Royale is reliably top-notch) and we served cupcakes in lieu of cake at our wedding. We were walking in downtown Scottsdale, waiting for an appropriately late enough time in the morning to engage in cupcake-eating, when we found out my brother died. Needless to say, we weren’t exactly in a cupcake mood after hearing the tragic news. There have been a handful of particularly hard days since 11.11.11. One of those days being the 12th, the day we packed up my parents and sent them off to the airport to fly home to deal with the reality of their son’s death. Waiting with them for the shuttle to the airport was gut-wrenching. I honestly didn’t know if they could make it through the airport bureaucracy and I didn’t know how they would handle being cooped up in a small aircraft squeezed next to strangers. They made it home ...
  • Blackberry Oat Scones I found this recipe at Orangette. After I started combining ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have enough half and half, so I substituted 1/3 cup of the half and half for nonfat milk. I also substituted the Turbinado sugar with cane sugar for garnish. Both substitutions seemed to work fine. The way that Molly from Orangette describes the recipe made me feel a little pressure: Like a classic biscuit dough, this scone dough needs a light touch. It’s important to work quickly, and to not overwork it. There will be small bits and flakes of cold butter in the dough, and they’re essential to its structure: if they get too warm or overworked, you can wind up with a scone that spreads like a cookie or a pancake. To relieve some of the time pressure, I pre-cut the butter on a plate and stored it in the fridge until I needed it. Worked like a charm! Ingredients 3 cups all-purpose flour 1/3 cup packed golden brown sugar 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder 1 ½ tsp. baking soda ¾ tsp. kosher salt 11 Tbsp. (5 ½ ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes 1 ¾ cups cold half-and-half 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 cup rolled oats 1 cup fresh or frozen ...
  • Crab Cleaning Crabs . . . Now I understand why they’re expensive in restaurants – because they’re kind of gross to clean. After S’s Mom and Dad took us crabbing, they taught us how to cook and clean the crab. Cooking? Got it, boil them in a bunch of water and salt. Cleaning? Umm, gross. S’s Mom’s advice was pretty simple. “Shove your thumb in there. Rip that off. Pull it apart.” I’ll note that the part that you “shove” your thumb into happens to be where the crab’s private bits would be if he were a person. I learned what crab butter is. And it looks like the ooze that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crawled into. The end product was well worth it. As you can see in the impressive iPhone photo below, we had lots and lots of crab. But, catching, cooking, cleaning, and eating your own crab is exhausting work, people. I used scissors, forks, little forks, chop sticks, anything I could find to get all the meat out. S and her folks, on the other hand, are pros. They can break a crab leg at the joint and extract a leg’s worth of meat. Unfortunately, despite my most heartfelt pleas, S still declines ...
  • Celebrating J’s Birth J’s birthday is around the corner. We’re celebrating with all sorts of foodie-related goodness over the next week. Unfortunately for him (and me) I don’t think the near future will include a Sour Cream Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache Glaze. But we will be dining at the recipe creator’s restaurant, Delancey, which will hopefully make up for the lack of homemade cake. Our plans also include sampling our way through Seattle’s first-ever Mobile Food Rodeo, dining and cocktailing at Tavern Law, and raising our miniature beer mugs at one of our favorite annual Seattle events, Fremont Oktoberfest. Lots of birthday cheer to J! And cheers to creating memorable make happy moments.
  • The day we learned how to catch the crab (the edible kind) 8am wake-up call at Casa de J & S. Home-brewed coffee in hand, empty cooler tucked into the backseat, waiting to be filled with the catch of the day. We’ll meet you just past Potlatch State Park, they said. Go to the boat launch near the bathroom, walk down the ramp and we’ll find you there with the boat. We showed up right on time at 11am and skipped a few rocks while we waited for them to pull ashore. Feet first we stepped into the cold Puget Sound water, they drove the boat toward us, onto the ladder we climbed and off we went. They reserved one of the four crab pots so they could teach us how to prep it and put it in the water. Even with only one pot, room to move around the boat was scarce. Step 1: Attach a mélange of raw chicken parts (above) to the inside of the empty pot. Try to pretend it’s not the most disgusting thing you’ve done all morning. Step 2: Make sure your rope is securely tied to the pot. Step 3: Gently place the pot in the water (so your nasty chicken scraps don’t get lost at sea) and feed the ...
  • Tacos Has anyone else fallen in love with the new street food/food truck craze? Obviously you have. And if you haven’t, I’m not sure what’s wrong with you. My newest obsession is Taco Chukis in Capitol Hill. Granted, Taco Chukis doesn’t have a food truck (so let’s get on that guys and then park it outside my house), but their space is so small you might as well be in a food truck. Best part about their tacos (besides the taste)? They cost a $1.60. Boom.
  • Jealousy Luc is Thierry Rautureau’s second restaurant, located in Madison Park. When it opened, S and I went and thought it was the bees knees. But there was one problem – I totally thought I ordered a better dish than S… until the food came. Don’t get me wrong, the onglet steak I had was great. But the burger that S had was in-frickin’-credible. I hate to admit it, but I was so jealous of her that night. The burger was sweet, not salty, topped with tomato jam, aioli, and caramelized onions. The other night S declared it was a happy hour night, we were going to Luc, and I would get my redemption. We ponied up to the bar (where does that phrase come from?), the waitress offered us menus, and I didn’t look down. No need. I knew what I wanted. I would have a burger. When it came out, I could have jumped for joy. Which leads me to ask, is it this normal to be excited about food? The burger was just as amazing as I remembered. I didn’t want to give S a bite, but I acquiesced. After all, had she not shared with me, I would have totally ...
  • Spanish Tapas We started our Spanish gastronomical adventure at Celler de Tapas near Plaza Catalyuna in Barcelona. It was a lucky choice. Not only were we introduced to jamón croquettes (a super popular oval-shaped fried tapa made with potato and ham), but we also happened to sit next to a very friendly Belgian man who raved about Spain’s stuffed mussels. He, unprompted by me, placed one of his prized mussels on my plate. With his stranger-man bare fingers. When in Barcelona, right? It was delicious, though we agreed it should have had more mussel and less stuffing. Here’s a little tour of our tapas adventure through Spain. Frankly, the food overall was fairly mediocre. But there were a handful of standout meals that kept us excited to taste what was around the corner.     Have you eaten grilled sardines before? We hadn’t before this trip and, I admit, we were nervous. We didn’t know the rules (do you eat the head?), we didn’t know if we should feel bad for the little ...
  • Cicchetti We are very lucky to live near the most charming of Seattle restaurants, Serafina, and its new-ish little sister restaurant, Cicchetti, which is tucked neatly into Serafina’s back courtyard. If you want to feel the magic of a carefree sunny Seattle afternoon, walk up the handful of steps into the whimsical courtyard, then embrace the twinkling lights and lush greenery (is it possible to feel the magic of twinkling lights in bright daylight? Yes, indeed, somehow this magical little spot pulls it off). Order a $5 happy hour house wine or cocktail and call yourself the luckiest. Do not order the happy hour Margherita pizza. It was underwhelming, at best. The regular-menu pizza is far superior. Do order the house red or Cenote cocktail made with Tequila, D’Artisti Mayan liqueur and lemon juice. If you are us, it will remind you of your honeymoon in Tulum, Mexico, near the Mayan ruins. If you are not us, you will still delight in its smooth, but tart, citrus notes. We do not own this jacket. It was hanging on the chair of the people next to us. And it is awesomely photo-worthy.
  • Louisa’s on Eastlake I’ve been a terrible blogger for the last week. I went to the Seamless in Seattle fashion show (!), two happy hours, a cooking class and a Sounders game in the past seven days. And I have zero photos to show for it. Zero! Whoops. To make up for it, I invite all of you to our favorite Sunday breakfast spot. Meet our friendly neighbor, Louisa’s! I usually opt for the standard breakfast. Louisa’s potatoes, 2 eggs any style and toast. This time, I added a side of bacon and an americano. Yum! J ordered the McTio, which is a bagel with egg, tomatoes, bacon, cheese and mayo. He also had the fantastic-get-in-my-mouth-immediately Louisa’s potatoes on the side. Most importantly, we read out loud our horoscopes in The Stranger. It’s our Sunday thing. It makes me feel all cozy inside.
  • What I (J) have been up to . . . As you may have seen me say once, twice, or five-hundred-sixty-seven times, I graduated law school a couple of weeks ago.  Since I’m not a real human lawyer yet, my future employer can’t allow me to work full time.  Needless to say, I’m enjoying some much-deserved and much-appreciated down time before I start the soul-crushing preparation for the bar exam. Despite my desire to watch Law & Order: SVU episodes all day, I have tried to stay somewhat active.  One activity I ramped up over the past few weeks is my freelance writing.  Yep, I’m like an XY version of Carrie Bradshaw minus the pumps and the dramatic relationships.  While I certainly don’t write for a magazine as glamorous as Vogue, I enjoy writing for Thrillist Seattle.  It’s an online magazine that is geared towards men, filled with some funny and usually obscure jokes that even I don’t get.  But more importantly, it gives me something fun to write about, allows me to meet new restaurant owners, and see more of Seattle. About a year or so ago, Seattle, like Portland, discovered that food from trucks tastes awesome.  One of the more popular food trucks in Seattle is Skillet.  What started as ...
  • Photo Essay: Pizza. Leeks. Asparagus. Remember when we mentioned that leek pizza recipe? We took a shot at making our own. With blue cheese. And we threw in a shaved asparagus pizza as a side dish. J did most of the food prep while I photographed, sipped wine and tasted ingredients. The end result was exceptionally satisfying.
  • Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet Ok, I’m going to open this post by revealing how naive I can be at times.  I always thought cassoulet was an absurdly fancy dish.  It might be because the one time I ordered it at a fancy French restaurant, it cost ~$30.  In retrospect, I realize that it’s basically a stew casserole.  Now, I know three things.  First, there is nothing to fear about making cassoulet, no matter what the French tell you.  Second, there are many more variations that I want to try.  And, third, umm, this was awesome if I may say so myself. Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever Cook four slices of bacon, remove from pan and reserve the drippings. Brown the chunks of chicken (about 3lbs) and sliced sausage (4 links) in the bacon drippings.  The recipe calls for Italian sausage, but I used mango chicken sausage, which was actually pretty good. Remove chicken and sausage and add 1 1/2 cups of onion, 1 clove of minced garlic, and 2 cups of chopped parsley. After onions are soft, add 15 ounces of tomato sauce and 1 cup of wine. Mix around and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Garnish with chopped bacon and serve ...
  • The Restaurant at the Inn at Langley I can’t say they would win an award for the most creative name, but the culinary team at the Inn at Langley’s Restaurant certainly blew S and I back with their incredible tasting menu. This was the last surprise that S had planned to celebrate the end of law school.  Like I said yesterday, I would have been perfectly content to celebrate with her over a beer and a burger.  I would have been perfectly content to stay in our luxurious suite at the Inn at Langley.  But, a 9-course (yeah, 9, count ‘em) tasting menu?  Yeah, it’s on, this was going to be awesome. As you may have noticed by now, S and I love to share food together.  I grew up in a very stereotypical Italian family where food was a constant source of discussion (I was also a chubby kid, so go figure).  When S and I first started dating, she would not eat mushrooms or onions, let alone a host of other delicious ingredients.  I considered dumping her out of sheer gastronomical shock.  Alas, our love persevered and S has become just as adventurous as me when it comes to trying food.  See? Perfect match. Chef Matt Costello heads ...
  • Whole Grain Fettuccini with Mushroom Cream Sauce and Broccoli There was a time in my life when I refused to eat any dish with mushrooms, onions or peppers in it. I truly thought all of these ingredients tasted disgusting and I had no idea why anyone in their right mind would willingly digest such things. Then, I met J. And slowly but surely he encouraged me to challenge, and eventually change, my palate. You may also be completely uninterested to know that when I was about 8 my Mom forced me to eat broccoli. It wasn’t pretty. Thankfully, things have changed for me in the broccoli department, just as they did in the mushrooms-onions-peppers department. Together, J and I ventured into the world of green vegetables when we moved in together after college. And we haven’t looked back since. For this concoction, I used only what we had in our fridge and pantry. As a disclaimer, I’ll admit that Stella and I walked to the corner store to pick up a container of sour cream, but once I got home I realized we already had some tucked away in our fridge. At least Stella got a walk out of my confusion! 1 pound of whole grain fettuccini 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive ...
  • Paseo-oh-oh-my! Remember awhile back, I confessed about my hankering for Paseo?  Well, the craving never quite went away.  On one of my first “free” days, I followed the Caribbean-Pork-Siren to Fremont, waited in line for an obscene amount of time, and saddled up with the Paseo Grilled Pork sandwich. What is there not to love about this sandwich?  Sure, the baguette is delish and having some crisp romaine will make your mom happy that you ate some vegetables.  But the real treat is the pork and onions.  Paseo is best known for their Cuban Roast sandwich, which consists of pulled pork shoulder, but clearly when it comes to any part of the pig, Paseo obviously knows what it’s doing.  The difference with the Grilled Pork sandwich is that it’s a pork loin that is grilled and basted in a marinade. Now, let’s chat about the onions.  Oh, the onions!  The caramelized onions are so good that Paseo actually sells a sandwich comprised totally of onions.  These onions don’t taste like onions.  No, no.  They have a buttery, caramelized, char that soothes the bite from the cilantro. Bottom line – if you’ve got an hour to kill while waiting in line, this sandwich will be ...
  • Leek, Ricotta, and Lemon Zest Flatbread Doesn’t this look amazing? Lately we’ve received an abundance of leeks in our New Roots Organics weekly produce delivery. And this is exactly what I think we should create with our fresh green leeks! Leek, Ricotta, and Lemon Zest Flatbread Makes 2 pizzas 2 large leeks 1 red-skinned waxy potato 1 16-ounce tub ricotta cheese 4 sprigs thyme 1 batch pizza dough or a ball of store bought 1 cup shredded Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese zest from two lemons salt and pepper Pre-heat the oven to 450°. If you have a baking stone, place this in the oven now. Trim the roots off the leeks and then slice each leek into very thin rounds. Place the leeks in a large bowl and fill with water. Toss the leeks with your fingers, separating the individual rings. Set aside for a few minutes to allow the dirt to settle to the bottom. Set a saucepan over medium-high heat and add a teaspoon of oil. Transfer the leeks to the saucepan using a slotted spoon, add a healthy pinch of salt, and cook the leeks until they are bright green and wilted. Set aside. Slice the potato into thin rounds, about 1/8-inch thick and preferably using a mandoline. Place slices in a bowl of cool ...
  • Rover’s: Meeting the Chef in the Hat Last Tuesday, J and I went to super fancy-pants Rover’s in Madison Park to celebrate his last day of law school classes. Tippr had a sweet deal awhile ago, which allowed us to spend $100 for $200 worth of food and drinks at Rover’s. We read Yelp reviews before we went to get an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. I’m so happy we did because the Yelpers’ advice was right on: (1) definitely go with one of the set menus because the portion sizes may not be reflected in the price if you order a la carte and (2) ask for a half portion of the wine pairings, otherwise the wine menu is exceptionally expensive (our server was completely fine with this and the wine pairings were phenomenal…plus, I was able to drive home afterward, which would have been out of the question with a full wine pairing). I chose the menu option with the least amount of courses: DISCOVERY MENU -59 Amuse Bouche Smoked Scallop, Flageolet Puree, Apricot Chutney, Frisee Pacific Sole, Leek Fondue, Roasted Beets, Persillade Fennel Granite Roasted Leg of Lamb, Cous Cous, Wild Mushroom, Rosemary Demi Espresso Crème Brulée Please note that the lighting in the restaurant, which quickly went from day ...
  • Homegrown: Sustainable Sandwich Shop We recently stopped by our favorite indoor shopping center, Melrose Market, to grab a quick lunch at Homegrown. We mentioned before that this building is beautifully styled. It all looks so effortless and easy, although clearly an abundance of thought and effort went into making it appear that way. Each little boutique store and restaurant has their own branding, but all of the spaces flow nicely into each other with touches of industrial metal, casual chalkboard textures, warm wood and splashes of nature-rich colors. For lunch I tried a half roasted pork sandwich and herbed fries. The sandwich was made with potato bread and had a slightly sweet flavor, compliments of the apple butter that was lightly spread on the fluffy bread. Arugula provided enough of a bitter taste to cut against the sweetness, making it a perfectly balanced sandwich. The fries were golden, slightly crisp on the outside and not greasy. The herb dusting gives them an interesting taste that I really enjoyed. They were served with an aioli that I thoroughly liked, despite the fact that I’m usually a ketchup girl. This sandwich shop doesn’t stop at creating yummy food. They also use sustainable ingredients. AND they make sandwich creation sustainable, too, ...
  • High Five Pie: Take Two I’ll admit it.  I’ve hated on High Five Pie.  I gave it two attempts and I wasn’t impressed.  The crust was dry, the insides were blah. As luck would have it, I had to kill an hour this past weekend and I decided to give High Five Pie yet another shot. The service is still not very impressive.  I feel like the workers are slightly annoyed that I’m even ordering food.  Perhaps they can read my mind and they know that I’m not expecting to be pleased with what’s on the plate. Now, inconsistency in restaurants drives me bonkers.  But, in this instance, I was really happy that High Five Pie’s savory beef pie was pretty awesome.  The crust was much less flaky this time.  Instead, it was buttery, yet crisp. So, now I’m completely torn on this place.  I have no idea what I’m going to get.  So far, the only item I know that is consistently delish is the tea. Anyone else ever have an experience like this?
  • Margarita Monday Well folks, I told you.  I was down to the last couple of days of classes and my attention span was disappearing at a rapid rate.  Then and now, I have taken advantage of every opportunity possible to avoid getting ready for final exams. Last Monday, however, was bittersweet because  I went to Poquitos with a very good friend from law school.  So, the sad part is that this friend is really neat-o.  In fact, she was the first friend I made at law school almost 3 years ago.  Unfortunately, she is moving back to her home town after graduation.  The cool part is that I finally tried Poquitos on Capitol Hill.  This place is pretty awesome, lots of rod iron and colorful tiles.  Frankly, it’ makes me want to switch to an all-Mexican food diet. Their lunch tacos are served on soft warm corn tortillas and topped with cotija cheese and either pulled chicken, roasted mushrooms, shredded beef, or roasted yams.  The dinner menu includes the lunch menu plus other items lamb shank and chile rellenos. Despite the fact that my friend had a class to go to and I was supposed to get back to studying, we toasted the end of ...
  • Man Dinner: Steak and Eggs On Thursday night S went out with two of her girlfriends from law school.  From my point of view, it seems like they had been planning this dinner for roughly 37 months.  They had to cancel and reschedule three separate times.  But, I digress. With S out of the house it meant that I was going to be making dinner for myself.  It could be gluttonous.  It could be rich.  It could be steak!  This isn’t to say that S does not eat steak or that she would ever really care what I make, but it’s been awhile since I’ve had the kitchen all to myself, and honestly, I was a little elated. Also, since my final exams are coming up pretty soon, I’m starting to outline for my classes.  This means that I’m looking for every possible opportunity to procrastinate . . . This also means that if you have a blog, the chances of me taking time to comment on it are pretty high. I’m not even sure that Steak and Eggs deserves a recipe.  I mean, it’s pretty simple.  Just get a decent grilling steak and put a good rub on it (I really liked the coffee rub from the ...
  • Pizza with Dates and Citrus Salad Since our kitchen was just too clean, we decided to dust it with some flour while we made pizza topped with dates and goat cheese.  One of my favorite jobs was in a pizzeria.  Everything about it was amazing – my coworkers consisted of my fraternity brothers, the food was free, and the job was just fun. Despite the fact that it is a mere one month away from law school graduation, I still have fleeting thoughts of running away with S and opening up a pizzeria… in a beach town… in Italy.  Maybe it’s not a pipe dream, but I think that lawyer by day and pizzeria owner by night sounds pretty nice, eh?
  • Seared Ahi Tuna and Couscous with Dates Right off the bat, I’ll admit that these two dishes don’t really go with each other.  However, I’ve been craving seared tuna.  But, we also had some sweet dates on hand.  It was like our own mini-Iron Chef, sans the special ingredient and Bobby Flay acting all arrogant.  S and I were in the middle of talking about something else and, frankly, I don’t think we told the other what we were making until we took out all of our ingredients.  Don’t get me wrong, each dish independently tasted great, but together they were odd.  Half way through cooking, we sort of looked at each other and said, “umm, this might taste weird.”  Well, it kind of did.  Oh well. Seared Ahi Tuna Spread toasted sesame seeds and spices on the tuna and sear on a hot grill pan for 45 seconds per side. Couscous with Dates – S modified it from this site. Put 1/4 cup of sherry vinegar and 2tbs brown sugar into a saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 4 dates, reduce heat to low and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Warm  ...
  • Volunteer Park Cafe As we’ve mentioned before, Sunday brunch is our idea of the perfect way to spend time together on the weekend. Volunteer Park Café is probably one of our top 3 favorite brunch spots in Seattle. The converted house in North Capitol Hill is always crazy-crowded, buzzing with tons of energy, laughter and chatter. This Sunday was particularly buzzing with happy energy, probably because a little blue sky was peeking through. We noticed that they built a chicken coop in the backyard to go with their garden. I’m pretty certain it wasn’t there last year, but regardless, it fits perfectly with Seattleites’ desire to be hipster-trendy. Everyone in the know has a chicken coop (except for those of us who live in condos with teeny-tiny balconies for a backyard). You can spot the coop through the gate below—it’s the small building with blue trim. I tried to capture the hens doing their thang, but I failed. So you get to check out this charming gate instead. Not that we need a special occasion, but this weekend J wanted to take me to brunch to thank me for helping him with his mock trial on Saturday. For those non-lawyer types, mock trial is exactly ...
  • Varro Last weekend J & I stopped by Varro, a new bar in Capitol Hill, for a quick drink. The décor is super chic (you should go just to check out the mural), the people friendly. Most importantly, it temporarily satisfied our craving for Italian culture. True to all the restaurants we loved in Italy, the house wine was absolutely the way to go. Salute!
  • {this moment} {this moment} – A Friday ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment we want to pause, savor and remember.  Via SouleMama. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments.
  • Law School Prom It’s been said that Law School is a lot like High School.  For example, we all have lockers.  In fact, some students decorate their lockers.  All of our classes are held in the same building.  And the school is small enough that everyone knows practically everything about everybody.  Lastly, and most importantly, we have prom.  However, we don’t dare call it “prom.”  Instead, we lawyer it up and call it “Barristers Ball.”  Classy.  Refined.  But, don’t let the alliteration fool you – it’s prom. Barristers Ball is interesting for other reasons as well.  You see, during the regular ‘ole school day, law students are generally type-A, over-achieving go-getters, suffering from varying degrees of anal-retentiveness and OCD.  But at Barristers Ball people tend to cut loose – mostly because there is copious amounts of alcohol involved.  And in that sense, it’s a lot like High School again.  300 people who don’t respond well to alcohol. All sarcasm aside, Barristers Ball was a lot of fun.  It’s my last year of school and I have made some very good friends who have kept me grounded and smiling for the past three years and for that I am very grateful. To start the night off, S ...
  • A Caprice Kitchen J & I planned to visit Delancey, a pizzeria in Ballard, for Friday date night.  We heard it has a reputation for making customers wait a long time for a table, but we were still a little surprised to hear it would take an hour and a half (seriously?) to get a table at 8pm on a Friday.  Normally our type-A personalities wouldn’t have handled this well, but I think we took it in stride due to the fact that we were prepped (thanks, Yelpers!).  During our wait, we had the fortunate opportunity to cross the street and check out A Caprice Kitchen for a drink. It turns out that A Caprice Kitchen is just the kind of place we love.  The restaurant is styled comfortably and simply, but beautifully.  They serve only seasonal harvests sourced from local small farms.  As they say on their website, the experience is as “wholesome and home-some as it is whimsical.”  Indeed. We couldn’t pass up their cheese plate.  Turns out, it was a good choice.  I recently read that every good cheese plate offers all three cheese options: goat, sheep and cow.  As obvious as this is, it was news to me.  A Caprice Kitchen ...
  • Sunday Muffins & Mimosas A very good friend of mine recently started selling Stella & Dot jewelry (no relation to our Stella).  She is a fabulous saleswoman, but I think it’s a pretty easy gig since the jewelry is gorgeous and pretty much sells itself.  I invited over female friends and family to participate in a Sunday morning trunk show. My Mom brought over this beautiful bouquet to add to the brunch spread. I made blueberry muffins and mini lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting.  Yum! I also served a version of a mimosa, which I made with Prosecco and either mango lemonade or peach juice with fresh peach slices. There is something so refreshing about spending quality time with the girls, particularly when bubbly, sugar and jewels are involved!
  • When life hands you lemons… Might I suggest you make mini lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting? I must admit, I did not make the lemon cake from scratch.  But the frosting is homemade and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. I used this recipe for the frosting: 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 1/4 cup butter 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 teaspoons lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 5 cups confectioners’ sugar Beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, lemon rind, and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar in 2 additions. Beat until creamy. Add more icing sugar or juice as needed for easy spreading. Makes about 3 2/3 cups. And I added a little lemon zest for garnish.  Buon appetito!
  • When a Door Closes . . . I had a sudden crazy craving for Paseo. If you’ve never heard of Paseo (not sure that’s possible if you live in Seattle), it’s a Cuban-style sandwich shop in Seattle that has been featured on Food Network’s best sandwiches series. Paseo often has a long line out its door and they are sometimes so busy that they run out of bread and have to turn people away. Today, I was the first one in line. Suddenly, I remembered that they do not accept cards and I did not have any cash on me. While I sadly walked back to my car to figure out where the closest ATM was located, I saw Uneeda Burger, which reminded me of a recent Thrillist article. And a door opens… #9, a.k.a. the Medi-terra Lamb Burger, topped with peppers, onions, manchego, tempura lemons (yep!), arugula, and cilantro was beyond satisfying. As I read through the variety of ingredients on this burger, I thought that no possible harmony could be achieved amongst so many strong ingredients. Happily incorrect, I found that everything came together in culinary bliss. The standout ingredient were the tempura lemons, which popped through the peppery arugula and meatiness of the lamb patty. Did I ...
  • Time for Tea In celebration of my Mom’s birthday, I invited her to an afternoon tea date at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. We had a lovely afternoon chatting, sharing blueberry muffins and eating mini savory bites and an array of sweet treats.  We sipped tea and bonded.  It was the perfect kind of day.  And this birthday was a big one for my Mom.  Not because of the number, but because she suffered a terrible aneurysm just six months ago and spent an entire month in ICU.  It was terrifying and heart-wrenching and exhausting and, surprisingly, it was ultimately deeply uplifting. We didn’t know if my Mom would leave the hospital, or if she did, what kind of life she would be left with.  Suffice it to say, she is a survivor in the true meaning of the word and her stubborn, strong-willed nature came in pretty darn handy during her recovery.  I was so happy to spend just a few hours one-on-one with her, celebrating her life.  It was a simple joy that meant the world to both of us.
  • Sitka and Spruce   Amidst our hectic schedules, weekend brunch is a tradition that S and I look forward to each week.   Whether it’s a time to catch up on conversation, read the newspaper together, or play scrabble against each other on our iPad, it’s quality time that we relish together. While at Melrose Market, we decided to eat at Sitka & Spruce.  I would like to live in their kitchen and restaurant.  Exposed wood and brick, a super long chef’s table, and natural light that pours in even on the cloudiest of days. Brunch at Sitka & Spruce is unlike any other brunch I’ve had before.  It’s the type of delicate food that I’d like to eat everyday.  The flavors are decadent, yet not overpowering.  To maximize our sampling, we shared three items. The  warm dates and yogurt were akin to ingredients playing tug-of-war with your taste buds.  The dates, on the one hand, are of like sugary and sticky caramel.  On the other hand, the silky, somewhat sour, yogurt radiated freshness. My favorite dish was the sheep’s milk feta, drizzled with olive oil and served atop heirloom navel oranges.  S thought that this meal was too rich for more than a few bites.  However, I would ...
  • Campanelle|Pecorino|Spinach This weekend was a happy one.  There was cuddle time on the couch, a couple of good workouts, Saturday morning brunch (our fave), a beautiful wedding, family time, and tying up loose ends on Sunday.  Whew.  It was one of those rare weekends where we had time to accomplish everything that was planned.  So I took advantage of the energy that I had on Sunday evening and I cooked.  Now we have leftovers to eat during the first half of this week, which is a treat that makes this family immensely happy.  J is an excellent cook, so it makes me feel a teensy bit proud to cook a good meal for him. I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light, using these ingredients: 16  ounces  campanelle pasta 1  bunch fresh baby spinach 1  tablespoon  olive oil 4  cups  chopped onion (1 red, 1 yellow) 1.1  ounces  all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup) 4  garlic cloves, minced 3  cups  nonfat milk 3/4  cup  dry white wine (I used a dry Riesling) 1  cup, plus 4 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided 2 healthy pinches salt 1/4  teaspoon  grated lemon rind 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper Cooking spray 3/4  cup  Italian breadcrumbs, divided in half Cook ...
  • Food and Wine Experience Recently, S and I attended the 2011 Seattle Food and Wine Experience at Exhibition Hall at the Seattle Center.  If you’ve ever been to the Taste of Washington, this is a pretty similar event – lots of wine and lots of food.  However, the Food & Wine Experience is a little smaller and the tickets are a little cheaper than Taste, so it feels more crowded.  Despite the crowds, S and I got to taste some amazing treats from some of Seattle’s most popular restaurants.  Also, unlike Taste, the wine booths are mostly divided up by distributor, not vineyard, and the wines are from all over the world, not only Washington.  For me, these events are more about the food.  While many of the bite sized morsels were excellent, it seemed that a lot of restaurants went with some type of pulled meat.  I assume that this is because it’s cheaper and easier to prepare, but shouldn’t the restaurants showcase food that they are known for?
  • My new friend… casseroles. S and I usually co-cook our meals, but there are those nights where I get home much earlier than her, and I like to have dinner ready when she gets home.  Also, I’ve recently been trying to reduce the amount of dishes/tools I need per meal (not my strength).  To help with this goal, I bought a book on casseroles.  Casseroles weren’t a fixture in my parent’s house, so I didn’t grow up with any negative stigma about them.  Plus, the book I bought seems to take aim at not being like casseroles from the days of yore.  Tonight, I made roasted brussel sprouts and curried chicken served over rice.  Recipe for Curried Chicken over Rice via The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever Curried Chicken over rice 2 chicken breasts cut into 2 inch cubes 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth 1 14 ounce can of coconut milk 1 cup of long grain rice 1 tsp curry 1/4 cup green onion Method Preheat oven to 375 Pour the rice into the casserole dish Pour the chicken broth over the rice Cover the rice with the cubed chicken Pour the coconut milk over the chicken Sprinkle the curry and green onion over the chicken Bake for 25-30 minutes Brussel Sprouts (J’s random recipe) Recipe and Method Clean and halve about ...
  • I spy pie. I was not having the most perfect day ever.  So I worked out during my lunch break.  Then I treated myself to a nonfat latte from Fuel and a mixed berry cutie pie from High 5 Pie.  My day got better.  I learned that I really like this Rx for a less-than-perfect moment.  That little cutie pie fixed me right up.
  • {this moment} {this moment} – A Friday ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment we want to pause, savor and remember.  Via SouleMama. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments.
  • Working the Dough S and I truly enjoy cooking together.  I know that it may be stereotypical for couples to “enjoy” cooking together, but I promise you that we do.  After a few years of practice, we work together like chefs on the line in a commercial kitchen.  It’s not uncommon to hear “knife and “hot” intermittently called out while we’re talking about an unrelated topic. Before attending law school, I worked in a few restaurants.  Being from New York, a pizzeria was, of course, one of the types of restaurants I cooked in.  Although S and I normally share the cooking responsibilities, working the dough is usually my task.  It brings me a few years back and, although it’s completely impractical to toss dough in our house, I love finding the delicate balance of stretching the dough right up to the point of tearing.  I’m still working to find the proper placement of the pizza stone – a recent article said that placing the stone closest to the broiler was the best place.  Unfortunately, I didn’t wait for the stone to get hot enough, so the top cooked faster than the bottom.  I guess we get to try again. Tonight we made one pizza ...
  • Zeitgeist Coffee I think you’ll agree that catching up on work during a state-mandated holiday is eminently more enjoyable from a coffee shop. This is especially true on a cool February day in gray Seattle. Set me up with a nonfat latte, a grilled chicken pesto sandwich and an almond florentine drizzled with dark chocolate, and I can focus on work at least long enough to feel productive.
  • Foraging Fresh Food Pike Place Market.  A feast for the eyes.
  • Cupcakes make us happy! J and I have been frequenting this Madrona joint for nearly a decade(!).  Today, we shared a Salted Caramel cupcake.  Chocolate cake, frosted with creamy, salty caramel goodness.  Admittedly, my personal favorites are the Triple Threat and Peppermint Party, but I was more than happy to savor the flavors of caramel and chocolate on this crisp, sunny Seattle day. One of the best things about Cupcake Royale is their creative marketing ploys.  An oldie but goodie: buttons proclaiming “Legalize frostitution!”  Recently they’ve expanded their clothing line.  Check out the super cute paper and ribbon tutu they created to show off their hipster antlers-on-a-cupcake tee. So sweet, right?
  • Lake Chelan Wine Country J and I stopped in Lake Chelan for their annual Red Wine and Chocolate event during Valentine’s weekend.  Nefarious Cellars is our favorite winery in Chelan, so we made sure to stop there first.  The ridiculous view from their patio out back was just as beautiful in the winter, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and a glittering glassy lake, as it was last time we visited during a July 4th weekend. We recommend their Viognier.  It’s crisp and, as they say in their tasting notes, “bursting with aromatics of white peach and floral notes.”  It’s a MAKE HAPPY moment for us because it’s simply delicious. Next, we stopped at quaint Tunnel Hill Winery, which was constructed with stones from Knapps Hill Tunnel in Wenatchee when the tunnel was excavated in 1937.  We passed through the tunnel on our way to Chelan from Seattle.  The Tunnel Hill winemakers were incredibly friendly and made us feel right at home.  Plus, we loved their Estate Riesling so much that we left with a case of it!