Delancey

Approaching Delancey on a cold winter night you’ll see steamy windows and candles sparkling on tables where people are engaged in conversation, sipping classes of wine. Delancey is the definition of a neighborhood restaurant. Brandon Petit warmly greets his regulars by name while tossing pizza dough by the oven. Delancey reminds me much of co-owner Molly Wizenberg’s blog Orangette: simplicity with an artistic flair.

The menu changes with the seasons, from a Billy’s tomato salad during the summer months to a beautiful beet, grapefruit and house-made ricotta salata salad in the midst of winter. The flavors pop, sometimes in unexpected combinations. My favorite, a staple on the menu, is the creamy, rich burrata served with Murray River pink salt, olive oil and perfectly toasted crostini.

Brandon modeled his pizza after some of the best in the nation and it shows. Delancey produces some of the finest pizza in Seattle, from my favorite house-made pork sausage to the spicy Padron peppers in the summertime. With its lightly charred crust and the perfect proportion of a delicate sauce, the pizzas are easily shared among friends. I especially love Delancey’s crust; it’s salty, chewy and crisp. Don’t eat all of your pizza though, because you’ll want to save room for dessert.

From Molly’s signature grey salt chocolate chip cookie and a tall cold glass of Fresh Breeze milk to seasonal desserts, you will never be disappointed. Last night I enjoyed a delightfully creamy lemon dessert served in an old fashion Ball jar with two shortbread cookies I tucked in a napkin to save for later.

One of the lovely things about Delancey is how affordable the food is for the quality. To me, this is what embodies a neighborhood place. I’m in love with their Washington River Aerie Sangiovese, a steal for $27 a bottle. Have a glass of wine while you wait or try the amazing house ginger brew. Some people complain about the wait, but it’s all in your approach. Go across the street to Tarasco and have a drink. Or peruse the unique and fancy umbrellas at the oh so charming Bella Umbrella. Just like at home, good food takes time. I prefer the small intimate setting, shelves lined with cookbooks, a menagerie of glasses and most of all the delicious food produced from love. And if you have the chance, attend one of their family style dinners. It’s the ideal place to enjoy the company of new and old friends. Delancey is located at 1415 NW 70th Street, Seattle WA. Follow them on Twitter: @delanceyseattle.

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Ode to Bacon

As I have alluded to before, Twitter is like crack, really. It’s addicting. The best part though, meeting people who share their joys in life. The lovely Shauna & Danny express their love for all things pork on pork,knife & spoon. My good friend Lorna Yee of The Cookbook Chronicles has no shame in her adoration of the pig. Thus said, hearing daily about pork products Kairu and I were inspired to plan our own tribute to the deliciousness known as bacon. Bacon is abundant now days, you can buy chocolate bacon from Vosges in Chicago or even bacon scented air fresheners. Our list of bacon recipes slowly evolved and grew so much we decided a party was in order.

Skagit Ranch Bacon

Skagit River Ranch Bacon

And the bacon we chose,was the most delicious bacon to ever cross my lips. The people at Skagit River Ranch know their pork. I urge you to spend just a bit extra for the most exquisite flavored bacon to melt in your mouth. I could seriously write an ode to the bacon. Just how good? Kairu called me the morning of the potluck to tell me to buy two more pounds, she had eaten the first package the night before, piece by piece, the bacon quickly diminished.

Bacon Chanterrelle Soup

Bacon Chanterelle Soup

The first course- a bacon Chanterelle mushroom soup topped with caramelized onions cooked in bacon. We adapted the original recipe since our friend Becky aka Chef Reinvented is highly allergic to onions and garlic. This soup is absolutely divine, cooked with Mangalitsa stock and cream.

Corn & Bacon Salad

Corn & Bacon Salad

Matthew Amster-Burton cooked a beautiful roasted corn salad with poblano peppers and you guessed it, bacon. Unfortunately I had to share, otherwise I may have engulfed the entire container. Our friend Jenise prepared the healthy portion of the evening, a salad, with baconaise dressing.

The most important course, dessert. A bacon maple bar from Frost, bacon chocolate rice krispie treats and a divine bacon cupcake prepared by Becky. Kairu and I adapted the original recipe by utilizing cocoa krispies on the bottom and the regular variety on top. The recipe still needs some tweaking. I found the chocolate to overpower the bacon flavor.

Bacon Rice Krispie Treats

Bacon Rice Krispie Treats

Bacon Maple Bar

Bacon Maple Bar

Becky asked that we not photograph the cupcakes since they didn’t meet her aesthetic standards. I can tell you this, they were delicious. She really is an incredible cook. Bacon shined in the cupcake topped with a cream cheese frosting and of course a small piece of crispy bacon. By the end of the evening I was quite certain a heart attack was impending. I vowed to only eat vegetables and tofu for the next few days. I lied. The next day, I made mac and cheese for a dear friend’s birthday, topped with but of course bacon.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Handwritten Recipe Underneath Freshly Baked Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies usually found at almost every bake sale represent the classic all American dessert, however finding the perfect cookie is not so easy. The right balance of chewy to crisp, proportion of chocolate chips and texture are integral to the very best cookie. Everyone has a recipe they swear by, for some it is their grandmother’s old fashion or the Jacque Torre’s salted version. Technique plays an extremely important role in results, recently a NY Times article discussed the role of refrigeration of the dough, temperature of the butter and how the various methods yield the perfect cookie. A few people I know are smitten with the new Cooks Illustrated version which calls for browning butter. My cookie is from Cooks Illustrated their original recipe. I’ve been making this for several years now, learning the nuances of producing what I deem the perfect cookie.

Adding the Flour

It’s been awhile since I’ve made them, well about a year. Fall leads to more baking, the smell of the cookie infiltrates my apartment, I love how the oven warms the small space. Tonight we were supposed to see a movie, instead I taught my friend Michael how to make the cookies he loves so much. Over the years, he’s eaten many many batches, but this was the first time he helped. Earlier this week we made apple pie, I really enjoy teaching him how to bake, the little nuances such as ratio of flour to add at a time, how long to cook the cookies and keeping your measurements consistent. Sharing something you love is such a joy, funny, it’s different than just cooking or baking for him, bringing him into the process was really fun.

Cookie Dough

The handwritten recipe pictured above is tried and true for me. A few of my secret tricks, take the cookies out before they are done, just barely, let them sit for a few minutes on the silpat before transferring to the cooling rack. Eggs at room temperature always. And the melted butter, just barely melted, shouldn’t be warm. Sometimes I chill the dough, but usually they go straight from the bowl to the oven. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on a Sunday night, perfect.

Perfection

Community Through Food

Last weekend was an absolute treasure, filled with wonderful events revolving around food. Inspired by the Blogher food conference in San Francisco, which several local Seattle food bloggers were attending, we created #Bloghere. Why? What better way to foster community through sharing experiences. Actually #Bloghere started as a joke on Twitter, @Bonnevivante noted she was not attending #BlogHer  but would be attending #BlogHere as in blogging from here,  then Jeanne of Four Chickens jokingly suggested absurd sessions, quickly  a few real ones developed. The absolutely lovely Viv of Seattle Bon Vivante graciously organized several events. The weekend kicked off with the pie contest at the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market. Our first official session took place on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning at the University District Farmer’s Market, like the QA one, it is a non-profit, community led market. We gathered to stroll the market, take pictures and talk to the chef in resident Matthew Amster-Burton, author of Hungry Monkey. My mission, bacon from Skagit River Ranch. I’m smitten with farmers markets this summer, sad to see a few end for the season. The amazing bounty of the earth so much more than what we find in conventional markets, however it’s not just the food, rather, the community and relationships they build. Watching farmers interact directly with their customers, sharing recipes and most of all appreciation for the food we eat. This particular morning I started to play with my new camera, taking in the beauty of the market.

Chanterelle's from Foragred & Found

Chanterelle's from Foraged & Found

Billy's Tomatoes

Billy's Tomatoes

Following my morning at the farmers market I continued onto the next #Bloghere session, canning with the Shibaguyz who were absolutely hilarious, kept us entertained while educating us on the art of canning. Plums, the fruit of the day, quickly transformed into beautifully rich chutney, spicy sauce and jelly. My second canning experience of the summer made me wish I had jumped on the band wagon a bit earlier.

Plum Chutney

Plum Chutney

Jason & Shannon Canning

Jason & Shannon Canning

I’m saving my delicious chutney & spicy plum sauce for this winter, when I’ll enjoy it over a slowly roasted pork loin or served with a creamy brie perfect for having friends over. What I love about canning, the connection, how quickly food is transformed to be shared. Jars stowed away for gifts. Canning is a lost art, much like knitting that gained a revival in the early 2000’s. I’m happy to see people take an interest in finding another way to connect with our food. This past summer, Canvolution swept across America. I’m fortunate to know the ladies who founded Canning Across America, they inspired people to host canning parties and share their personal canning stories/journeys. Mine has yet to begin, it’s just the beginning. This particular Saturday afternoon, over several bottles of wine, food and steaming pots of plums we shared a common experience, some of us learning a new skill/craft, most of us new friends, quickly building a community that is incredible. Food connecting our lives becoming more and more entwined each day. The common bond for most of us, Twitter. Twitter is like match.com for foodies, slowly finding each other, planning dates (dinner parties), movie nights and book clubs. #Bloghere all started on Twitter. The social media device some argue alienate us from our communities brought this group together. #Bloghere was not the first or last event for us, rather just part of the inception of so many big things to come. Later that evening I hosted a bacon themed party (another post to follow), all because of Twitter. In a few weeks, Mac N Chesse & Fried Chicken night and in November Jewish & Chinese Foods.

#Bloghere ended with pie because all good things in life should end with pie. We are lucky to have an expert in our community. Kate McDermott kindly baked us a grape pie using local concord grapes from a garden in Queen Anne. Each #Bloghere participant left with but of course a cookbook. Oh and a remote session with Matthew Amster-Burton and the adorable Iris, sharing their thoughts on the state of food blogging and of course eating.

Kate's Grape Pie

Kate's Grape Pie

Bloghere Swag

Bloghere Swag

The Counter

This evening I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of the most recent addition to the Ballard dinning scene. The Counter, a Los Angeles based chain made it’s much anticipated soft opening in Seattle today to select friends and families serving as their trial audience. Tucked inside the Ballard Blocks with a small outdoor seating area next to the newly opened LA Fitness and Trader Joes, The Counter’s industrial look and feel compliments the newly designed retail space. The scene? One fellow diner referred to it as Johnny Rockets on crack, lots of chrome, diner style tables and of course young good looking servers. The concept is custom built gourmet burgers, you choose exactly what you want on your burger down to the size of the patty and type of bun. Similar to the well known ice cream chain Cold Stone Creamery, The Counter is all about customization down to ordering your burger on a bed of mixed greens.

We started our meal with milkshakes, calories certainly did not count tonight. Quickly after our platters of fried goodness arrived- fried dill pickle chips, crispy fried onion strings and sweet potato fries, all accompanied with sauces. My favorite for sure was the crispy fried onion strings with country buttermilk ranch. Careful not to indulge too much before the main event, I refrained from demolishing the whole plate of the lightly breaded fried onions fried to a golden crisp.

Crispy Fried Onion Strings, Sweet Potato Fries and Fried Dill Pickle Chips

Crispy Fried Onion Strings, Sweet Potato Fries and Fried Dill Pickle Chips

Custom Build your Burger

Custom Build your Burger

Pick either a 1/3lb, 2/3lb or a whole pound patty, our server explained this is cooked weight so you are literally eating a full 1/3 of a pound. Their meat is natural Angus beef from Meyer Natural, certified humane, 100% vegetarian diet, no hormones or antibiotics. Then add your toppings, cheese and various sauces. My creation: 1/3lb hamburger patty with gruyere, a fried egg, bacon, tomato, lettuce, roasted garlic aioli and caramelized onion marmalade on a traditional white hamburger bun.

Burger Topped with Fried Egg

Burger Topped with Fried Egg

Burgers are cooked medium rare

Burgers are Cooked Medium Rare

My fellow dining companions also experimented with their burger creations including adding roasted red peppers (not a hit with our group), more crispy onion strings and a whole wheat bun. The burgers are definitely what shine at The Counter. Not your average fast food burger joint. The portions are generous, all of us unable to finish our creations. I took mine home to eat for lunch tomorrow.

Rachel's Creation

Rachel's Creation

Michael Chose a Whole Bun as a Healthier Alternative

Michael Chose a Whole Wheat Bun as a Healthier Alternative

  Overall The Counter is the perfect place for the person who likes lots of options, wants a decent burger alternative to fast food in a casual setting. I’m sure once it is open it will be filled to the brim with families, groups of friends and people on the quest to designing their perfect rendition of a burger.

What We Eat When We Eat Alone

I happened to stumble upon this today on my Google Reader (thanks Mary for sharing!) via Serious Eats. http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/08/cook-the-book-what-we-eat-when-we-eat-alone.html

Deborah Madison is famous for Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, one of the first restaurants to have a farm to table menu inspired by Chez Panisse (if you ever have the opportunity, go, well worth the experience) in Berkley. Now she’s taken on what was supposed to be a humorous commentary on eating, but in actuality from the reviews provides a much needed anthropological study regarding our eating habits. In one of many recent Twitter conversations, responses to Nancy Lesson’s post featuring items in her pantry, particularly the  non-Organic/local/sustainable food, people confessed their love for all things processed. Tweets professing love for: fake cheese, Otter Pops and other various items containing hydrogenated oils  and high fructose corn syrup. Foods we eat alone when no one is looking. “Foodies” eating dinners of chips, gummy candy,  and microwave burritos from Costco. Yeah, we admit it, we all have certain items we eat when we are alone. My comfort food, Taco Bell Nachos BelGrande. A good friend of mine eats tortillas with butter and cinnamon while standing in the kitchen. In the “Good Fight” on Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw admitted her SSB, “secret single behaviors,” we all have them, things we do alone when no one is looking.

So what are our SSB when we eat alone? For me, some meals are a mish mosh of what looks appealing at the market, possibly wheat thins with some sort of dip and gummy candy, an assortment of prepared salads from the salad bar or leftovers. Meals usually are very simple, broiled fish or chicken severed with a vegetable or salad of some sort. My challenge is to find recipes proportioned realistically for one, not four, one. Secondly, buying said ingredients in a single serving so that I can keep within budget for groceries and that no food goes to waste while keeping up with my rather busy lifestyle. I adore cooking and baking, there is nothing better than sharing a wonderful home cooked meal with friends, but for nightly meals I am bored.

Last night I had some Spanish cheese & crackers, tomatoes with olive oil & salt, blueberries and white wine. Today for lunch was leftover over chicken from the JFC: Joule Fried Chicken on a day old baguette from Macrina Bakery with tomato and spinach (left over from the previous week, luckily still fresh). I’m still learning to cook for one or rather eating alone. I won’t reveal all of my SSB, over the years, I’ve acquired many.

I’m looking forward to reading Madison’s book, hopefully to gleam some ideas for my own rather dull cooking regime and to also jump start a new blog, soon to be announced.

CSA Inspired

A week ago a dear friend sent out an email to a few friends saying they had an abundance of fresh produce from their New Roots CSA & her brother’s Tiny’s CSA who was out of town. Simple gathering, bring some meat or fish to grill, beverage of choice and hang out on a Friday night. When I arrived with my Wild Alaskan Salmon steak in tow and a chilled bottle of Pinot Gris, I realized she wasn’t kidding, a plethora of fruit was on the counter waiting to be transformed. Red cabbage, carrots, summer squash, zucchini, dragon lingerie beans, a variety of cucumbers, peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines.

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Summer Squashes & Cucumbers

Our host stated she had no specific plan or recipes for the fruits and vegetables, however she had some ideas. We discussed a coleslaw for the red cabbage, she was out of mayo, I said no problem, we’ll do a vinaigrette based one. I started to slice into the extremely crisp cabbage contemplating ways to make it pop. Asian inspired was perfect, light and simple. I shredded carrots into the slaw, the vibrant colors already coming together. The dressing was easy, a culmination of basic ingredients: sesame oil, peanut oil, cider vinegar, peanut butter, garlic, salt, pepper, Siracha for a kick and honey for a bit of sweetness. The dressing came together beautifully, no specific measurements or recipe, all to taste. Added some chopped up cilantro and sesame seeds to the slaw. Just a bit prior to serving I mixed in the dressing.

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Asian Inspired Coleslaw With Peanut Dressing

I’m actually not a fan of zucchini nor summer squash, so it may have been my first time cooking the summer vegetables. Instinct told me, grilled is best with lots of olive oil, a few different kinds of salt, heavily doused in Herbs de Provence and some Thyme. While I prepared the coleslaw the squashes marinated.

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Grilled Zucchini & Squash With Herbs De Provence

The vegetable that was completely new to all of us, the dragon lingerie bean. A cream colored bean with flecks of purple, I had to ask the experts what to do with them. Thanks to Alice of Sweet Savory Life she suggested pan sauteing them with a bit of garlic, salt, pepper and butter, finishing off with a squeeze of lemon. These were one of the big hits of the night since not only were they novel to all of us, but also incredibly delicious.

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Pan Sauteed Dragon Lingerie Beans

The fruit was turned into two different desserts; one gluten/dairy free for my friend Devon. I decided a crisp would be perfect, a combination of white nectarines and plums. The topping was super basic: quick oats, flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon. Baked for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, it turned out as it should, golden brown with fruit bubbling away. Topped with some freshly lightly sweetened whip cream. The other dessert to me is the epitome of a summer BBQ, grilled peaches lightly dressed with some brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and vanilla, grilled to perfection.

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Plum Nectarine Crisp With Whipped Cream

Friends, good food, wine and an amazing sunset, really could not of asked for a more perfect evening. Summer is coming to a close in less than a month, I honestly hope to have more nights like this one. Cooking for friends, it fuels my soul.