24
Oct 2013
Cheese Bit Quiche: Reminiscing with Leftovers

It's no surprise that a lot of reminiscing went on this past weekend while Anne Willan was in town. She was here, after all, to celebrate the release of her new memoir, One Soufflé at a Time: A Memoir of Food and France, so she's heavy in memory-mode, going back to her early days in the wilds of Yorkshire, England. I spent about 2 1/2 of the most impactful years of my life at Anne's La Varenne cooking school, initially as a stagiaire (a sort of work-study program), then working for the school -- a bit as a program director one summer, a nice chunk of time working on many cookbooks with her, from about ten volumes of the Look & Cook series to the ...

23
Oct 2013
Craftsy Blog Voting: Pick Me!

My new class has been up on Craftsy for just a couple of weeks, which you can check out here (bonus: that link includes a 25% discount for you if you opt to buy the class, though you can check out a preview there and may find some other things of creative interest on the site). It was so great to have a chance to trace my own cooking roots back to the years I spent in France studying and working at La Varenne cooking school, plus some other delicious episodes in the country which included working for Patricia Wells for a spell and cooking in a tiny bistro in the French Alps one winter season. The class covers French home cooking basics, the likes of green salad with wonderfully simple vinaigrette, beef ...

17
Oct 2013
The Season of Hops

    Hops. Where would beer be without them? They add not only that distinctive floral-citrus-resiny flavor to the hop-heavy ales many of us in the Northwest love, but as a backbone of the beer-making process they contribute to the characteristic aroma of beer and act as a sort of preservative to help stabilize it against bacteria. (That hopped-up India Pale Ale style of beer is so named because extra hops were added to shipments of beer headed from England to outposts in India, to aid in preserving the beer for its voyage. Necessity as mother of invention, the practical exercise proved to make some extra-tasty beer.) Those ebullient vines of  humulus lupulus became an unexpected theme this past week or so. First it was seeing a photo (this online version has a few more) in the ...

16
Oct 2013
Leavenworth Retreat: Sleeping Lady

  The shuttle bus was free, so there was no reason to complain. Not that we would have, anyway. It's Oktoberfest season after all, revelry abounds around the beer-fueled festival no matter how far away from Munich it may be celebrated.  And as much as I'd already come to relish the tranquility of the setting, it was an even more striking example of how much a refuge Sleeping Lady is. My husband and I laughed as we got off the bus, happy to be the old folks heading back early afternoon, leaving more room for those just en route to Oktoberfest, half of whom singing (loudly) along to that Beastie Boys-anthem, "You Gotta Fight for the Right to Paaaarty!" Within moments I had slipped into my swim suit and despite the cool-ish temps, zipped up to the pools, one regular heated pool, another hot pool, both ...

08
Oct 2013
Craftsy Give-Away

It's funny those times when two otherwise disparate parts of our lives overlap a bit. Such is the case with Craftsy. I can't recall how I was very first introduced to the site, but got an email this past week that noted I'd been a member for a year. The context for me was knitting, this platform a very cool, dynamic, multi-layered place to learn about, and fuel your love of, a wide range of crafty endeavors. I never signed up for a knitting class, but was on their eblast list for fun projects to get, yarns they enticed me with, other outreach that kept my attention. Then, a few months ago, a nudge came from work side of my life, Craftsy had begun expanding their content and diligently building up cooking class offerings. Would I like to produce a class with them on the finer points of French cooking-at-home basics? Uhhh....let ...

04
Oct 2013
Anne Willan in Seattle

It is going to be such an honor to have Anne Willan here in Seattle for a couple days later this month. I love my hometown and am always thrilled at the chance to share it with friends and colleagues when they visit. This occasion will be an even richer one given that Anne has a large part to play in that path I eventually navigated leading to this career in food writing. I left Seattle back in 1989 thinking some time in France studying cooking would be an interesting and fun diversion until I figured out what to do with myself post-college. As it happens, my time in France at Anne's La Varenne cooking school (both in Paris and at the Château du Feÿ) was an incredible adventure, an endless string of memorable/inspiring/unique experiences that had a huge impact on me. Not surprisingly, that ...

01
Oct 2013
Mustard Soft Pretzels: In Honor of October

I realize Octoberfest isn't relegated strictly to the month of October, in its homeland of Bavaria in southern Germany, the beer-fueled festivities tend to start late September. But still, the act of flipping the calendar page this morning to October inspired this brief consideration of the fall festival that plays out globally this time of year. My contribution to the party is this recipe for soft pretzels from my most recent book. This was one of the last additions to the Salty Snacks manuscript before it was submitted. I'd done a pretzel stick with a few different mustard dipping sauces for the previous Gourmet Game Night book and thought I might give pretzels a pass in the new one. But my editor ...

23
Sep 2013
Deconstructing a Recipe: Retro Toffee Bars

So, I survived as a first-time webinar speaker earlier this month! I'd been an attendee on many in recent years, but this was my first time as presenter and I was a bit nervous about coming across polished and full of useful information. It helped, though, that the topic was something I've been engrossed in since the earliest days of my culinary career: recipe development. When I was tapped on the shoulder by the Food and Culinary Professionals practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetics Association) I paused for a moment. I've never really talked about the recipe development process before. Just done it hundreds, if not thousands, of times in the past couple of decades. But it is a topic about which I have a lot of perspective and some strong opinions, so I figured ...

16
Sep 2013
Snacking with Style: Bubbles and Popcorn

It was one of those moments that I wish I had anticipated having my camera ready. The place was the venerable Canlis restaurant in Seattle. The occasion was very rare lunchtime gathering as the venue of choice for a trade gathering with Ferrari sparkling wines from the cooler northern region of Italy, the Adige Valley near the impressive Dolomite Mountains. And the moment was when the celebrated winemaker was told of a potential food pairing for his sparkling wine that he found, well, unexpected. The look of surprise blended with what I hope was a dash of delight was priceless. I had the good fortune to be sitting at lunch with said winemaker, Marcello Lunelli, to one side and the inimitable Jameson Fink to the other. We'd already enjoyed a brief wine tasting and discussion of some of their phenomenal vintage wines, including ...

02
Sep 2013
Culinary Conversation on San Juan Island

It's funny, much as I usually abhor ruts and routine, I can be quite the creature of habit sometimes. Which, in the case of visiting the San Juan Islands in the Northwest corner of Washington state, comes in the form of me heading 99.9% of the time to Orcas, dating back to trips made there with my family as far back as I can remember. Which is one of many reasons why I'm so looking forward to my visit to the islands mid-September, because it's getting me out of that Orcas rut and taking me to the namesake of the archipelago, San Juan Island. I was thrilled when asked to be part of a special series of get-aways for food lovers, leading one of three Culinary Conversations hosted at Lakedale Resort (the other two sessions are led by two women I adore and admire, ...