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    Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon

    everyone needs these, many of them.

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    Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan

    Scarily, I can say I have enough copper. Not many people can utter those words.

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    Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
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    The same thing could be said for Le Creuset, but still. Great for braising and soup making.

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    The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
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    Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
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    What did I do before I started using this half sheet? Cry.

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Entries in seattle (5)


Coming out of the cold of May - Shepherd's Pie with Horseradish Mash

solomon and grandma color

Solly and Grandma draw in hopes of better weather.

It’s May 3 in Seattle.  My lilacs are finally blooming, the late tulips have a few days left and the lawn needs a mow. It is also the same May, the time that the weather rears its temperamental head in ugly way – all those apple blossoms you are coveting – whooshed away by the stiff breezes, driving around wearing a skort bare legged and flip flops with the heater blasting on my feet.  Seattle, after all is the home of the four season cashmere sweater. 

Many blogs and instagram feeds are full of lovely spring treats – baby peas, rhubarb, spring chickens with poached asparagus and tiny little salad greens.  That is all lovely and so luscious and cold. Brr.   This kind of weather calls for a hearty dish that sticks to our freezing ribs and maybe uses up the last of the root vegetables that are moldering in the back of the refrigerator crisper.   The first thing that comes to mind when I look up at the dark, damp and grey of a Seattle afternoon is a Shepherd’s pie.  My friend Paola, makes a proper British Shepherd’s Pie with lamb and all that, I tend to stray to the American version, fashioned after Elise Bauer’s Simply Recipes delicious beef filled one.  In making mine, I tried to use what I had on hand, which were a few wizened turnips, rutabagas and carrots that I was excited about in January, but not so much in April.  Root vegetables make the winter to spring transition in Seattle interminable.



Wizened veggies from the crisper.

Shepherd’s pie is pretty basic, take some sort of minced meat product, slightly season it, add whatever root vegetable you have on hand, mix it together and top with a potato crust.  Bake and serve.  It freezes beautifully and tastes better the following day.  It is a leftover I actually look forward to eating.  It can be fancied up with cheese or more spice, but I like it left a little plain.  I have substituted turkey meat for the beef, but it is not as flavorful. I suppose if you loved ground lamb, then a mix of beef and lamb would be even tastier.  The potato crust is where you can get really crazy – add cheese, garlic, jalapenos (I hear Paola shuddering), herbs or just keep it simple. The key is to make sure the crust gets a little crispy and the mixture h piping hot all the way through.



 The mince and the ridges.

As I finish writing this up, the rain is drumming against our windows. Ernest refuses to go out and I can’t blame him. It is better to dream about a sunnier tomorrow.

Shepherd’s Pie with Horse radish Mashed Potato Crust (adapted from Elise Bauer’s Simply Recipes Shepherd’s Pie)

Makes one pie, feeds 6 with no leftovers

Meat filling

1 ½  lb. ground beef (I used 15% fat)
1 medium onion, chopped – yielding 1 cup
3 carrots (more if you don’t have other root vegetables), chopped
1 medium turnip, chopped
1 medium rutabaga, chopped
1 parsnip (if you have it), chopped
1 c frozen peas
½ cup water or stock
2 T butter or fat of choice for sautéing the vegetable mixture
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t fines herbes or some sort of herb mix containing (savory, thyme, marjoram)
½ t salt or more to taste
Pepper to taste

Mashed potato crust:

1 ½ lbs of Yukon gold or new potatoes, washed and halved or cubed depending on size
1/3 cup Greek yoghurt, sour cream or what you wish as creamy liquid
1 T creamed horseradish, or less if it’s hot
1 T butter

Under medium heat, melt butter in generously sized sauté pan.  Add onions and cook for five minutes, or until they soften. Add carrots and other root vegetables and sauté for another 10 minutes to soften. Mix in fines herbes or herb mix to the vegetables.    In a separate pan, boil chopped potatoes until fork tender (15 minutes). Remove from heat, drain and set aside.  Crumble beef into the vegetable mixture, cover pan and cook until meat is no longer pink (approximately another seven minutes), add water moisten the mixture if it is dry.  Remove from heat, add peas and Worcestershire sauce and season to taste.  
Note: Add peas late, because you want them to stay nice and green. I can’t cotton to grey peas in this dish. They will cook when the rest of the dish is assembled and baked. Ditto for the vegetables, you don’t want to over cook them because they will be mushy. 4 out of 5 Shepherds prefer their vegetables to be cooked just right.

Coarsely mash potatoes you have set aside with a potato masher (you may actually have one in the back of your utensil drawer) or a fork.  Add yoghurt, butter and creamed horseradish and mash some more (you may still want some chunky bits in your potatoes). Season the mashed potatoes to taste with salt and pepper.

In a  buttered or oiled  2.5 quart baking dish (I used a something like this), pour in the beef and vegetable mixture.  Top with mashed potatoes mixture spreading as best as you can to the edges.  Elise suggests making pretty wavy patterns that ensure more browned and crispy bits and I second that.  Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes until hot and burbly and the top starts to get golden brown, but does not burn.

In our household, we would pair this with a green salad and a side of cottage cheese.  Yup, cottage cheese and it is delicious, just ask TH.


Where I've been

vanilla sea salt topped chocolate covered vanilla marshmallows


To Hell and back via many different places, but mostly in my own zipcode.

Without getting into the sordid details here, I'll do a brief recap.  I thought 2009 was the worst year of my life. 2010 blew, but the first three quarters of 2011 were unbelievable.

I just couldn't find words, or if I did, I couldn't even begin to express them.

Its over now. I'm in a better place.  I have an amazing group of friends and family.  I have plans for a better future.  I have a solid roof over my head, money in the bank, a healthy family, a TH who puts up with a lot of crap and a much clearer mind and heart.

Lucky me.

I have been cooking, it seems mostly the same things over and over again, with a little blip of amazingness thrown in that surprises even myself.

I am trying harder.  I hope you can believe in this.

This weekend, I am participating in Will Bake for Food.

Last year was a rip roaring success. I'm going to make vanilla marshmallows dipped in 70% bittersweet chocolate and fleur de sel. They are pretty tasty on their own and would stand up to a dunk in cocoa.

Come by and grab a bag or two.

Pear ginger granola may make a brief appearance as well.


Will Bake for Food proceeds will go to the Emergency Feeding Program of  Seattle and King County. Last year the event sold out in 90 minutes. Can you believe it? I can. I am in awe of all the participants and the work that the Jennys have put into making it happen.  The event is being held this year at the University Heights Center - University Way NE and NE 50th and starts at 11 am and will end at 2pm.  Bring cash and non perishable canned foods (think protein people) to exchange for tickets for each item, just like the fair.

Come on by. Pick up a bag of marshmallows, they might last until you get home to make some cocoa to go with them.






Alice Medrich in Seattle results in the best cookie exchange ever


Will bake for food

ernest bays for food

This is Ernest, he's my dog. If you came here from my other blog, you know that I love him and he vexes me. It is his perrogative, he is afterall, earnest.

Ernest is wearing a serious look and a sign that says he will bay for food.  That is a little misleading. He will whine for food, he will jump for food, but he typically only bays for fire engines and other hounds.

However, will jump or whine for food just doesn't roll off the tongue the same way.

We are baking for food, specifically to benefit Northwest Harvest.  On November 20, 2010, between 10am-2 pm,  drop by the University Congregational Church's Ostrander Hall at 4515 16th Ave. NE in the U district. 

What an opportunity to pick up something to put in the freezer to feed Uncle Bill and Aunt Ethel when they descend upon you the following week!

I'll be making my gluten free pear-ginger granola and some gluten free spiced nuts. Both items hold well and would be great items to serve around the holidays.

For more information and see who is participating, visit www.bakeforfood.com




Biscotti for a good cause

My mom likes to take recipes and tweak them. I don't know how she started making biscotti. Maybe it was when they became popular in the early 1990s. I remember her buying them once in a while as a treat for us from Delaurenti's. I think it was when TH bought her the Williams Sonoma Cookies and Biscotti book for Christmas is when she really started playing with the basic recipes.

My biscotti recipes come from a tattered photocopy from an early 90's issue of Gourmet and Great Good Food - the low fat Silver Palate cookbook. While they have the crunch of a good biscotti, they lacked the mouth feel of a rich biscotti. This is probably due to the lack of butter in any of these recipes. They are all good, but they are from a time in my life where egg whites ruled.

My mom took a standard almond biscotti recipe and created at least six different varieties of biscotti flavors without involving too much chocolate. Over the next few days I will be sharing them with you.

If you wish to sample them yourself, they will be available for sale this Saturday, April 17th at the Uptown Metropolitan market as part of the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale. The Bake Sale benefits Share our Strength.  There are lots of awesome bloggers that will be showing off their stuff - come on by and pick up Saturday night dessert or Sunday morning muffins. I tell you, based on the list I have seen, it is going to be great!

Banamak.org will be featuring five to six different flavors of mom's biscotti for you to sample.

Biscotti are pretty easy to make - they hold forever and can be tarted up with nuts, spices and chocolate. Their name comes from the fact they are bis (twice) cotto (baked/cooked).  The second baking is the most important - that is when the moisture is drawn out of the biscotti and it gets its crunchy goodness. I recognize there are two camps - those who like them soft, and those who like them hard. Put me in the hard biscotti camp.

Mom's master recipe - makes 36-48 depending on how you slice them.

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cup all purpose unbleached flour

2 eggs (large)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 t vanilla

1/2 t baking soda

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t salt

1 T lemon zest

1 T orange zest

1 cup unsalted pistachio meat (the greener the better)

Working directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In one bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pistachio meats.

In your mixer, cream butter, add sugar, vanilla, zests together.  Add eggs one at a time to the wet ingredients until combined.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, and mix until well blended, but do not over blend. Mixture may be sticky - add a little more flour if it is unworkable.

Take the dough and place on a well floured cookie sheet. Knead a few times.  Divide dough into three parts and form into logs.  You may still have flour on your log - this is good.

Place logs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and Flatten the  logs - about 12" long and 4 inches wide.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.  The biscotti will be a bit spongy, dry to the touch, but not too dry.  Turn off the oven.

Remove from oven and let biscotti cool.  When cool enough to cut - cut the logs on a diagonal - with the nuts its imperative your knife is sharp and your knife skills good enough that you can cut through the biscotti and not have them crumble on the nuts.  Put newly cut biscotti on cookie sheets.

Preheat oven again to 350, place biscotti back into oven and turn oven off. Let biscotti dry for 2-3 hours in the cooling oven.  If you are doing this in the evening, you can leave them in the oven over night.

When the drying process is over - store in an airtight container. Biscotti should last up to a month, if they last that long.

Coming next - some more variations.