Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stashes to Stashes

I loved the title "Stashes to stashes" that I borrowed it directly from "Windy City Times," a newspaper penned by a bright group of Chicagoans. But what I really wanted to say is thank you for featuring our salts in your gift guides this holiday season. Our New Year's resolution is to raise a glass to you.

If you missed the stash in gift guide print, below are some highlights. Or if you're still shopping for last-minute gifts, you may be able to steal an idea, or two from the legwork of someone else. I bookmarked a few of these sites for after the New Year, too.

Stashes to stashes
"Your favorite Martha Stewart wannabe will not doubt appreciate Secret Stash Sea Salts—which provide different ways to wake up the flavors of various items. For example, the Pineapple Cumin Salt is...." read on ....

CakeSpy's Gift Guide: For the Sweet Tooth
"As Dorie Greenspan says, "salt is pastry's unsung hero... a pinch is enough to balance the sugar in tart crust, underscore the flavor in any chocolate dessert, give caramel that certain je ne sais quoi. And oh, .... " read more....

Seattle Palate
"Flavored sea salts can really add a wonderful touch to everyday dishes. Secret Stash Salt is the go-to sea salt source in Seattle. With flavors like truffle, lavender rosemary, soy, and apple 5 spice, it's easy to infuse exotic flavors into your dishes. At only $5, these salts are a fun way to try new flavors." Check-out Seattle Palate...

The Soiree Cafe
".... try rimming your dirty martini with the nicoise olive salt!"
I'm flattered our salts share space in an article with Skillet's bacon jam.
She Knows Food and Recipes
"For the serious gourmet cook,...." read more....
Cooklocal.com
For wickedly delicious-looking recipes that incorporate stash salt, like duck egg and brussel sprout hash, visit Cooklocal for ideas to spring board off. Their recipes spark creativity. This holiday, they're posting a recipe a day to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas gift pack


For friends and loved-ones who are mad for salt, the holiday gift 4-pack is a unique collection of our favorites: Lavender Rosemary, Nicoise Olive, Bloody Mary, and Cherry Pistachio. Best perk? Packs come ready-to-rock, tied pretty with splashy ribbons.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Urban Craft Uprising & holiday salt


Urban Craft Rising is just about, if not, one of the coolest, most imaginative craft fairs I've been to. Joe and I stumbled upon them last summer. It's a sea of hand-made art and creativity, from jewelry to clothing to glassware to cupcake art, and more.

We're thrilled(!) to have a salt stand with them this December. If you haven't mapped out your holiday shopping, consider this a start. It's a great way to support local, small-scale vendors while crossing gifts off the list under one umbrella location.

December 5th and 6th
11am-5pm, both days
Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
Like farmers markets past, we'll have 1 ounce salt samplers with artisan corks. To purchase salt samplers online, please visit our website www.secretsalts.com

Chef Joe on Nosh Pit news

Seattle Met Magazine scores interviews with a plethora of unique people dialed into the local food scene. I adore reading their Taste of the Town series.

They're candid, distractingly entertaining blurbs that remind me of what's important: the way we live. What we choose to read, eat, drink, shop, and how we see our castle in the sky. Guilty pleasures, included.

Curious about Joseph's favorites? I wouldn't be his partner is I wasn't.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Seattle Met Magazine

For a short, fun profile piece about a few of my favorite food-finds around Seattle, take a peak at Seattle Met Magazine's Taste of the Town. Not surprisingly, Olsen Farms, Taylor Shellfish, and Cook Local top the list.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Art of the Pie

Kate McDermott & her apple pie

"Be happy, make Pie"


Kate & Jon on their anniversary

pretty pies, made in class

If you haven't caught the infectious bug that is Kate McDermott and her pies, you're missing out. She's the talented woman behind Art of the Pie classes. Classes are intimate, no larger than 3 people, and taught in her welcoming Seattle home. Kate provides all of the ingredients, and is also kind enough to send you home with a container of leaf lard and recipes for your next pie.

The day I took the class, Kate's husband and renowned Seattle flavor guru, Jon Rowley, joined us. It was a special day, as it was Jon's first time taking the class, too. But it was more: it was also their anniversary. Kate and Jon are happy people, fun to be around, and always smiling.

That day, we made 4 pies: huckleberry, blueberry, blackberry, and apple. My pie, the huckleberry one, was a medley of flaky, sweet crust and tart huckleberries. I took it home with me, happy as a clam to share slices with friends.

Looking back on the class, some of my favorite parts were foraging for local blackberries and sitting outside on their deck eating apple pie, chased by a glass of icy-cold goat milk. It was an experience unlike any I've had before, and one that I'll always think of each time I make pie.

Lucky for me, they'll both be at the Queen Anne farmers market this Thursday (Sept. 24), judging a Blue Ribbon pie contest. Pies will be had, prizes will be given, and Kate and Jon--- like always---- are a couple we all love to see.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Queen Anne farmers market

Selma Colmant showing off her salt
*Photo taken by Scout Colmant*

Only two more days remain until Seattle's Queen Anne farmers market ends its stellar run for the year.

The market managers and its volunteers surpassed expectations. They secured brilliant chef demos; organized fun market (dog) days; brought in an eclectic array of farmers and vendors; and treated everyone like family. We don't know where we'll be next, but we do know we'll treasure the market's final days:

Thursday, Sept. 24th
Thursday, Oct. 1st
Market hours are from 3pm-7pm.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Scrambled eggs, truffle salt


When I'm too tired (or just too lazy) to add anything special to my eggs in the morning, I take a short-cut to boost flavor. Bloody Mary salt was my 'go-to' for scrambled eggs or omelets in the morning. But with a new edition to our pantry, I treated my tongue to a different twist with Truffle salt. Flecked with black summer truffles, it's just as flavorful, but reminds me of a fancy restaurant.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Scoop of Salt, a year later


Chef Joseph and I met in a Seattle restaurant that we believed in. A restaurant that after time, became our community. Since nearly all of our days were spent in the restaurant, it was our family. When the restaurant went out of business, Joseph and I lost our jobs. Heart-broken from having the wind knocked out of our sails, we were unemployed when the economy was at its worst. Our state, Washington, was home to the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Looking back at what made us tick---the food and experience that brought people together--- made us want to do it all over again.

Similar to the restaurant, we hoped to re-create a community bound together by the universal experience that good food can provide. We dug into our pockets, pooling money from waiting tables and working the line. Our savings weren't much, but it was enough to remind us what mattered most. We launched our salt partnership a month later, with 7 flavored sea salts to accentuate food and classic beverage. It gave us a sense of meaning, but more importantly, it brought us closer to a community again, only this time it was our neighborhood.

We sold our salts at our local farmers market. A market that became our home. Meeting the faces behind the recyclable totes became a second family of sorts, one that we looked forward to seeing everyday. Our customers are our friends. But they're more. They drive us to want to be better, to care, and to give back.

We're passionate about where our ingredients come from, and concerned with sourcing components that reflect sustainability and social awareness. We source as many local and organic ingredients as possible, the majority from Seattle-area farmers markets. Supporting local farmers and small-scale producers makes a difference. Anyone who says the food that we eat isn't related to the viabilities of our local communities is wrong. It is.

As long as we're in business, we'll (try our best to) give back to our community. Two months after launching, we donated salt to a program that provides unique opportunities to women of color who are faced with economic and social barriers to success. The program was such a success that it garnered enough money to support a young woman's internship at another local business. We also donated to Art with Heart, a Seattle non-profit charity that helps children and families in times of crisis. We feel lucky to be able to give back, to be a part of our community, and to have friends and customers who support us.

Today, a year later, we're still a small-scale partnership (of two people). Perhaps just a blimp on the radar. But with 13 salts to sit upon, our light still shines.




Monday, July 27, 2009

Beer battered Halibut & Chorizo salt


Cooklocal is modest. They say they don't set out to make adventurous recipes. I disagree. Beer battered fish & chips with Chorizo salt is just one of many.
They're adventurous in what they buy, cook, eat, and share with others.
Adventure is challenging oneself. For them, it's to always shop locally. It's supporting Seattle farmers markets. It requires planning, and at times, a significant amount of more money and energy.
Adventurous or not, they're explorers and trail-blazers in the local food scene. Take a peak for yourself. Their newest venture? How to approach restaurants about ethically sourced meat.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pineapple Cumin salt sings

Not sure what you'd sprinkle Pineapple Cumin salt on? Take a hint from Leslie Kelly, the former food critic of the dearly missed Seattle PI. She swears by this savory salt on watermelon salsa. It makes her feel like "a composer finding the right note writing a song." We're flattered.

Leslie's salsa recipe and review? Chopped watermelon, Walla Walla Sweets, Serrano peppers and lime juice paired with wild salmon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Warm luck

We're lucky to be surrounded, and supported, by a sea of passionate people. People who care about where their food comes from. People who make an effort to shop locally, and to understand what afflicts the producers behind their favorite farm.

No two Seattleites embody this ideology better than Patricia and John, of Cook Local. Their commitment to incorporate Seattle-area farmers markets into their everyday diet is inspiring. They also don't shy away from sharing one-of-a-kind recipes. Not only that, they're dialed into the local food scene. In need of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? Ask Patricia. Curious about 'Food Inc.,' the film? Question John. In need of a locavore restaurant recommendation? Patricia's your woman.

A couple of Sundays ago (on July 5th), we lost our farmers market booth space in the neighborhood in which we live, Ballard. After 8 months of winter chill and snowy days, we were devastated by the news. In retrospect, we're happy to have had the opportunity to be part of such an exciting, farm-oriented community.

Yet when we lost our space, we thought about how much we'd miss seeing people like Patricia and John. Frank and Sarah. Mohini and Brian. Shauna and Danny (and Lucy, too). Molly and Brandon. Lorna and Henry. And Lorraine. Their smiles and familiar faces brightened our days.

Again, luck surrounds us. We cross paths with them at food-events around town, and every once in awhile, at the Queen Anne Farmers Market. Like other Seattle farmers markets, Queen Anne embodies the unique charm and character of the neighborhood.

It's also wonderfully different, and so smoothly run by an energetic group of women and volunteers that it'll make you feel more welcome than any other. I feel like I'm in their home when I'm there. Julie, Patty, Jenise, and Kimberly; thank you.

Others not to be missed at the Queen Anne market? Josh, of Skillet, is a favorite. His airstream trailer put mobile food trucks on the map. The food, and bacon jam, speak for themselves. Don't miss Poco Carretto too, the brilliant gelato cart by Chef Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita.

We hope to see you at the Queen Anne Farmers Market on Thursdays (from 3-7pm, until October 1st). Trust us, you'll feel just as welcome and lucky as we do.




Friday, June 19, 2009

Spring Asparagus

Seattle farmers markets are showcasing the newest items of the season: rhubarb, strawberries, radishes, peas, and piles upon piles of asparagus.

The easiest and most-satisfying method to prepare fresh asparagus? I like to steam and blanch them. Placing their skinny stems in an ice bath halts the cooking so that their crisp, crunchy texture is retained throughout the middle and tips of their bodies.

The finishing touch? Adding a squeeze of lemon and a couple pinches of Nicoise Olive salt to accentuate their natural characteristics.

I wouldn't have my salty stems any other way.

Seattle Times NWSource feature

What's in your bag of tricks in the kitchen? Finishing salts are our secret stash in the cupboard.
Flavored salts make it easy to be gourmet, adding that extra pinch in a dash to any dish.

NWSource thinks so, too:
Shake Up Your Cooking with a Gourmet Sprinkle

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chorizo salt, Seattle, & Shauna

Gluten Free Girl, Shauna Ahern is another reason to love Seattle. She's always an entertaining read, and one who makes me appreciate the Emerald City even more than I already do.
Her passion for local food comes alive in her writing, as she interweaves slices of a simple island lifestyle with her husband Danny and their beautiful baby Lucy into a bigger slice of the American cherry pie.
Yet what I love most about Shauna's writing is what she doesn't say, and that----is the sign of a truly gifted writer.
Fall in love with Shauna. I dare you. We already have.

"Raise your hand if you like salt. Now, raise your hand if you like chorizo.

The Chorizo salt is our favorite one of their flavors. Have you heard of
Bacon salt? Now, we don’t like to disparage other producers. Bacon salt has become popular, so many people seem to love them. But, did you know that there’s not really any bacon in bacon salt? In its place is MSG, autolyzed yeast extract, disodium inosinate (I don’t actually know what that is), and wheat flour. (That doesn’t work for those of us who are gluten-free.) 23 ingredients in Bacon Salt, and not one of them is bacon?

Hm.

The
Secret Stash Sea Salt Chorizo salt, on the other hand, has five ingredients: kosher salt, chorizo, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and granulated garlic.

And it tastes? .... " -- Shauna Ahern

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Smoked Chipotle Chicken



Grilling a whole chicken brings out flavors that are unlike any other method of preparation. The smokiness imparted by the barbie combined with the racy heat of Smoked Chipotle salt brings the bird to the party. It's summer-time. There's no reason not to get out, grill, and drink a beer or Bloody Mary while doing so.
Recipe
1. Remove giblets from the cavity and rinse the bird under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel, and season both the inside and out of the bird with Smoked Chipotle salt.
2. Fire up the grill, or turn your gas grill burner to high heat. Thoroughly clean the grill grate, and thinly coat the grill with extra virgin olive oil. Place the bird breast-side down. Cook covered for about 35-40 minutes.
3. Uncover, and flip the bird breast-side up, continuing to grill it until the skin turns golden brown and the meat is cooked through, about another 35-40 minutes.
4. Check for doneness by cutting into the middle of a piece of chicken. The juices should run clear when you cut into the thickest part of the piece. Alternatively, pierce chicken pieces with a meat thermometer. When thermometer shows they have reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees F, the bird is done.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gravlax & Almond Cardamom salt



Kelly Lenihan writes, "Gravlax is a Scandinavian dish consisting of raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill. As the salmon cures, by the action of osmosis, the moisture turns the dry cure into a highly concentrated brine. A light bulb went off -- who needs dill? Salmon cured in a flavor-infused salt seemed like the perfect marriage to me! On a mission, I went to the Ballard Farmer's Market last Sunday and picked up a jar of Almond Orange Cardamom salt. I covered my salmon in a salt-sugar mixture, added a splash of Pernod and wrapped the fish into nice little packet, placed it in the fridge and voilĂ , 48 hours later I had a delicious gravlax."

For Kelly's natural interpretation on a 'centuries-old standard,' take a peak: http://www.examiner.com/x-7067-Seattle-Food-Examiner~y2009m5d7-Gravlax-a-new-twist-on-an-old-favorite

Kelly is a woman who wears many a hat. Her Savory Seattle blog is one. The Seattle Supper Club is another she sails around town in. She sports the latter sombrero amidst a social dining circle, of both new and old friends, that gather in celebration of the food and copious drink that Seattle prides itself upon. Like Kelly's take on Gravlax, it's fresh, fun, and what can make Seattle more special than it already is. You should join her. I did.

Momma's who Review

To all the Momma's who cook: thank you for making the world a better place. We can only hope our salts save you time in the kitchen, like a quick short-cut that adds extra oomph to everything you already do.

Momma's Review says,

"The Vanilla salt is great on bittersweet chocolate pudding and chocolate chip cookies; Soy is perfect for beef stew; Pineapple Cumin tingles the taste buds on barbecue chicken. All of the flavors add a delicious bite and wonderful texture to scrambled eggs."

http://www.mommasreview.com/?p=1979

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today's Candy

We're elated to be featured on DailyCandy, an online national site known for "what's hot, new, and undiscovered." The secret's always been in the salt, but now it's out.

http://www.dailycandy.com/everywhere/article/42983/Periodic+Table+Salt

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Steamed Clams with Wine & Chorizo salt


This savory recipe is from one of our most adored salt supporters, Ms. Diehl. Thank you(!) for sharing, Helen.

Steamed Clams with Wine & Chorizo Salt

Yield: Makes 2 servings
Active time: 20 min, start to finish: 35 min
Serve these clams with some crusty bread for sopping up the sauce, or spoon them over linguine or rice.
Ingredients:
- 1 medium onion,
- chopped 1 yellow bell pepper
- chopped 1 garlic clove, minced (Helen used MORE, of course!)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds*
- Chorizo salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 lb littleneck clams (2 inches wide), scrubbed
- 1/4 lb dried Spanish chorizo links, cut into 1/4-inch dice (Helen used additional chorizo, and even had some SPECK that she threw in too)
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
Preparation:
1. Cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, and salt in oil in a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in wine and bring to a boil.
2. Add clams and chorizo, then boil, covered, until clams open, 7 to 8 minutes. (Discard any clams that are not open after 9 minutes.) Season with pepper and stir in cilantro.
* If you don't have cumin seeds, Helen used ground cumin as an agreeable substitute.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Molly's Chocolate Ganache Macarooons



Seattle has no shortage of talent when it comes to good food, and writers. But there are few who entice the mind and palate equally as well. Molly Wizenberg is one. If her delectable recipes don't steal your heart, her words and charm will in 'A HomeMade Life.' It's more than a good read about food, Paris, the past, and the present. It's what makes food memorable for her, for those who cook, and the stories that interlink family, friends, and lovers. Not ready to take the leap? Swing by her angelic blog, Orangette, for a sneak peak of her writing.
Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache, courtesy of Molly Wizenberg
(p. 94, A Homemade Life)
Ingredients:
- 3 cups lightly packed sweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 egg whites (from about 5 large eggs)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped*
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
Macaroons:
1. Place coconut, sugar, and egg whites in a saucepan. Stir well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, 10-15 minutes. Stop cooking when mixture no longer appears creamy, but is sticky and moist, not dry. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.
2. Scrape the mixture into a separate bowl, and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
3. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
4. Using a small spoon, ice cream scoop, or your hands, evenly space coconut mixture onto baking sheet. Bake the macaroons until evenly golden, about 30 minutes. Let them cool completely, and remove them from the baking sheet.
Chocolate Ganache:
1. Put the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally until it is hot and steaming. Do not allow it to boil.
2. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Spoon the warm ganache generously over the macaroons.
3. Refrigerate the macaroons until the ganache sets, at least 2 hours.
Secret Stash addition:
1. Save some extra sweetened shredded coconut flakes to sprinkle atop each macaroon before the ganache sets.
2. Finsih macaroons with a generous two sprinkles of Coconut Garam Masala fleur de sel.**
* Molly's favorite chocolate for this recipe is Valrhona Manjar 64%. Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, 60% Cacao is a nice substitute.
** Vanilla salt is another stunning alternative.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gluten Free Girl Review

The wonderful and beautiful Seattle author--- Shauna Ahern --- and her husband, Chef Daniel, are fans of our salts. We smile at the thought of others who are just as passionate about good food, and locally-sourced items.

http://glutenfreegirlrecommends.blogspot.com/2009/03/secret-stash-sea-salts.html

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Video Clip of farmer's market

The lovely Lorna Yee, of the Cookbook Chronicles, sums up the Ballard Farmers Market in a short, fun video clip. Some of our favorites that are featured? Oyster Bill, of course.


Click, watch, and cook.


http://www.thecookbookchronicles.com/blog/?p=604




Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chorizo Potato Soup

I made this dish for a soup party last weekend and was having such a good time, that I forgot to photograph it. Out of 12 competing soups, it took second place. Though it didn't win the prized bottle of Pinot, it warmed our insides and made us smile.

Players:
- 5 large potatoes, any variety
- 1 (3- to 4-ounce) link of Spanish chorizo (or bacon)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 6 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 lemon (freshly squeezed juice)
- 1 tsp Hunan red chili sauce (or any hot sauce, chili pepper flakes, etc)
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- sour cream to garnish (1 tbs for each portion)

Recipe:
1. Wash and scrub potatoes well and knick out eyes and dark spots. Do not peel. Dice into cubes and place with chicken stock in a heavy 3 quart saucepan. Cover and cook at medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook covered until potatoes are tender but not mushy, about 25-30 minutes.
2. Saute onions with olive oil in large saucepan until tender and caramelized. Add garlic and saute until it browns. Add milk and cream. Cook mixture over medium heat until near boiling.
3. Saute chorizo in separate pan with olive oil until it takes on a golden brown hue.
4. Add chorizo, onions, and milk to potato saucepan. Add 1 tsp hunan chili sauce and lemon juice to soup. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes.
5. Before serving, garnish individual portions with a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle 2-3 tsp or desired amount of Chorizo salt atop sour cream.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Olympia oysters, otra vez





Oysters, oOh, yes. Oyster Bill and his penny-size Olympia's take center stage again. We went through 2 dozen of these briny bad boys, and were still drooling for more.

We tried a trio with our Bloody Mary salt for kicks only to affirm what I thought'd be the outcome: oysters as fresh as Taylor Shellfish are best left nude. Though a smidge of lemon pulp adds a citrusy tang, there's no reason to ruin a perfect oyster before it goes down the shute.

Infusing flavors into raw oysters may be more of a trend than not. Last time I shot some olympias at 'Anchovies and Olives' , they too were dressed, but with raw ginger.

Pie photo play-day-away



When my sweet tooth is bigger than my salty tongue, I saunter on over to Deborah (of Deborah's Pies) at the Ballard Farmers Market. She's just as sweet as her Bumble Berry pies that weigh in at 2.9lbs.

Filled with just enough juicy raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, it'll take your sweet tooth for a ride until you can snatch another on Sunday. If you can't stomach a 3-pounder, she sells them by the slice and can be reached for pre-orders at 206-542-1860.
Inspired by the berry, we're currently working on a new salt.... to the tune of Cherry.

Red Quinoa Breakfast



Skipping breakfast ought to be a sin. I never step foot out-the-door without fueling my tank to drive my day.

When I was young, breakfast was Lucky Charms or packaged, processed pastries. I blame none other than myself in a pantry-filled kitchen, stocked to the brim with far healthier, satisfying choices. Shame on me too for having a mother who was a dietitian. I deserve a slap and spanking for that.


Red Quinoa, tomato-cucumber Kick-Egg start w/Nicoise Olive salt

1. Rinse a 1/4 cup of quinoa thoroughly and drain. Add 1 cup of water to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer until all the water has evaporated.
3. Heat another saute pan, gently cracking 1-2 eggs in pan. Watch closely so that the yellow yolk does not get hard, though this is dependent upon your preference. The longer you cook an egg, the harder the yellow yolk will be, and the crispier the white will become. Cooking the egg less will give you a runnier yolk, allowing more flavor to disperse and break atop the quinoa.
4. Slice cucumbers and tomatoes to desired amount and degree of thinness.
5. Garnish with Nicoise Olive salt.

Beets marry Vanilla salt


It is nearly impossible to satiate my craving for beets. From soups to roasted chunks, they are like a bad habit I cannot kick. I attribute this to my love of dirt. I can only guess that such a fondness for the smell of dusty, earthy dirt must have come from my father's love of gardening.
Though I hated planting heaps of flowers and moving ridiculously heavy pots under the hot California sun, I was secretly enamored by the whiff of a new bag of dirt, and just as captivated by the packed soil that nourished a previous seed.
Like soil and clay, a wine that says "dirt-packed barnyard" sends a signal to my brain, clicking the "on" button. Call me a filthy chiquilla, but a terroir-driven Cab Franc from the Loire valley makes me happy as a clam. It's the dirt.
Roasted Beet recipe:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Wash 5-6 large beets, trimming the stems. Cut beets into large chunks, cutting off skins.
2. Place chunky beets on a sheet pan with tin foil, and coat beets with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until tender (when pierced with a fork).
3. Remove from oven and let cool. Once beets are room temperature, toss again with extra virgin olive oil.*
4. Sprinkle Vanilla salt to finish for a dirty, salty, sweet bouquet.

* I coated my beets with an almond oil that was gifted to me (in above trio photo). Tourangelle stocks beautifully-flavored, aromatic French oils. Flavors run the gamut, from Pistachio to Avocado to Grapeseed to Sunflower, and even Pumpkin Seed.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Salty Nuts




In need of an app to bring to a party? A quick snack to take to a flick? Roasted almonds with Lavender Rosemary salt is my go-to, get-together-dish regardless of the occasion. It's simple, easy, cheap, and always a hit.

And even better is that it pairs with bubbly, beer, or a glass of wine. At the theatre.

Roasted Almonds* Recipe:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Unleash raw almonds onto baking sheet, and generously coast with olive oil.
3. Place sheet in oven and roast for 22-25 minutes, turning occasionally until they are a dark, golden brown.
4. Take out of oven, and sprinkle nuts with Lavender Rosemary salt* while still hot.

* Pecans and walnuts are great substitutes.
** Almond Cardamom salt works equally as well.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taiwanese Salt their Coffee

TAIPEI (Reuters) - "Taiwanese java fans accustomed to pouring sugar into their coffee now have the option of flavoring their brew with another white powder: sea salt.

Taipei's buzzing 85C Bakery Cafe is offering a T$40 ($1.15) drink which melts sea salt into the coffee foam to give a more complex mouthful for customers constantly seeking out the new in the island's competitive coffeehouse market.

The cafe chain expects salt to hold, said company's publicity director Kathy Chung. The cafe's 326 stores islandwide have sold about 15,000 cups of salted drinks since the concept was introduced in December, Chung said."

http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE51P16420090226

Can't say I'm surprised. I sprinkled caramel salt on a latte a month ago. I will, however, admit that I prefer sugar-in-the-raw for its sweet taste and coarse crunch.

But that's my morning foam.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sugar Phallacy


This is not a flirty cookie post. Yet, sometimes cookies are the only thing to keep my toes warm at night. Other times the sugar-high makes me laugh out-loud before turning out the light.

Sugar cookies also remind me of cooking with my Mom when I was a kid. There were the messy piles of flour on the floor, my buns squished on the counter-top aside the electric mixer, and of course... licking the sugary goo off the spoon before a cookie was born.

We used to decorate cookies for each holiday, sprinkling crunchy specks of sugar atop tree-shaped Christmas cookies, and heart-shaped ones for Valentine's day. But what I'll always appreciate, and remember most, was my Mom's sense of humor. The time she made a gigantic phallic-shaped cookie with balls (and all) for my Dad particularly sticks out in my mind.

Not because it was inappropriate, but because it was her.

Part of her humor was always the element of surprise that one never expected. Thinking about it makes me laugh out-loud.

Ironically, I saw a glimpse of my Mom in a sous chef I work with. Last weekend, I ordered a flatbread pizza to kick-start my shift. When I picked it up from the window, it was instead an exaggerated, bigger-than-life-size phallic organ of a flatbread.

And this is one of the many reasons that I am drawn to the restaurant industry. Those who work in restaurants have a sense of humor, energy, and zest for the little silly things in life that keep me peddling back for more.




Call me immature. I beg to differ.


Sugar Cookies Recipe, courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine
Use any cookie-cutter shapes you like; I bought my hearts from Crate n' Barrel. The frosting recipe yields enough frosting to make four colors, plus about a cup of extra white base for adjusting the shades, if necessary.

Makes about 36 cookies
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Frosting Ingredients:
9 cups (or more) powdered sugar (about 2 1/4 pounds)
4 1/2 tablespoons Just Whites (pasteurized powdered egg whites)*
12 tablespoons (or more) water
Assorted food colorings, preferably Wilton concentrated gel pastes in Golden Yellow, Violet, Moss Green, Red (No Taste) and Sky Blue**
4 (or more) small disposable pastry bags**
Plain round metal tips (1/16 to 1/8 inch in diameter; optional)**

Cookie Preparation:
Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg over; stir to blend well. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently 1 minute. Shape dough into 1/2-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 4 equal pieces; wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. Let dough soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter large baking sheet. Working with 1 dough piece at a time, roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness, lifting and turning dough often and dusting surface very lightly with flour to prevent sticking. Using floured 3- to 4-inch cutters, cut out cookies. Pull away excess dough from around cookies. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart (cookies will not spread). If using cookies as hanging ornaments, push 1 end of drinking straw through dough near top of each cookie; lift straw, then remove small dough round from straw. Gently reroll dough scraps; cut out more cookies. Transfer to same sheet. Bake cookies until light brown, about 11 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on sheet. Transfer cookies to rack; cool.

Frosting Prep:
Whisk 9 cups sugar and powdered egg whites in large bowl to blend. Whisk in 12 tablespoons water. If necessary, whisk in more water by teaspoonfuls or more sugar by tablespoonfuls until frosting is medium-thick and very smooth. Place 1/2 cup frosting into each of 4 small bowls; mix colors using instructions in box on previous page. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover bowls and remaining frosting with plastic wrap to keep frosting from drying out. Store at room temperature.)
Thin frosting in each bowl as needed by mixing in 1/4 teaspoon water at a time.
Using pastry brush or small metal offset spatula, spread frosting on cookies; set cookies aside and let frosting dry, about 30 minutes.
Cut off small tip from end of 1 disposable pastry bag (cut off slightly more if planning to insert metal tip). Fold down top 2 inches of bag, forming collar. Holding bag under collar and using small rubber spatula, fill bag with 1 color of frosting. Repeat with remaining pastry bags, filling each with 1 color of frosting.
Finish each cookie with two sprinkles of Vanilla sea salt.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Penne Pasta to-go


















Lunch or dinner, at home or to-go. Hot or cold, your choice.

Take it or leave it.

Penne pasta with tomatoes on the vine, spinach, and Nicoise Olive salt.

Recipe:

1. Boil water and toss penne in pot for 12-16 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, slice tomatoes into sized- segments to your liking. Next, chop and mince spinach leaves.
3. Drain pasta in coriander, and place in bowl. Add tomatoes and spinach leaves.
4. Finish with Nicoise Olive salt.

Food Photo play-day-away



















Food Photo "play-day-away" calls for a time out from salt, and is a means to show what else is on my plate when I'm not finishing food with flavored Fleur de Sel.

Today's briny post was sourced from Oyster Bill of Taylor Shellfish Farms at the Ballard Farmers Market. Lucky me, finger-size Olympia oysters are in season (October-May). Though I love love love the meatier, gigantic vulva-looking Virginicas and Pacifics for their minerality and salty creaminess, they have a special time and place. And that's placed atop a fire whilst camping on the beach.

These sailboats were meant to sail into the sea of city mouths, and were shucked with a squeeze of fresh lemon pulp and a splash of Tabasco (if you're a whiny-wimp like me).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nieve


It's snowing again. In Ballard. A day like today reminds me of the mountains, and of being on a board pointed downhill. It's not the speed that makes my heart race, but the energy and escape that the snowy mountains promise to provide. It's also a day away from work, waiting tables, and salt.

Stevens (Pass), where oh where is the snow that fell so generously upon you last season?

Until then, night skiing, is where we shall be.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bowl of Beets





















Is it presumptuous to say it's been a momentous start to the New Year enveloped by an unprecedented amount of optimism? We think not.
Michael Pollan's analogy of the 'President we elected to the Chef we voted' into the White House is brilliant. The food that we eat is related to everything from our consumption of fossil fuels to the viabilities of our local economy. Yes, we too, can make a difference by what we buy and put into our mouths.
Our resolutions are simple. They also aren't any that we can't keep. We're committed to be more aware. To shop locally. To buy responsibly. To maintain sustainability. To support our community's farmers. This recipe says just that----- as all of our ingredients were sourced from the Ballard Farmers Market in Seattle.
What are your resolutions?

We recycled our left-over beets from the Farmers Market post below into a velvety beet soup with a dollop of sour cream finished with Lavender Rosemary salt.

Recipe:

1. Put left-over puree on stove stop and simmer for 3-5 minutes. For the initial puree, we added 1 cup of chicken stock and 1/2 tsp of butter to the blender.

2. Add 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream, stirring until it incorporates.

3. Pour in bowl, adding a dollop of sour cream finished with a sprinkle of Lavender Rosemary salt.

Full Circle Farm Beets

Beets are beautiful, earthy, and reminiscent of the dirt that nurtured them.
They are also rich in nutrients such as betaine, an important component for cardiovascular health.

We bought our organic Golden and Red beets from Full Circle (Carnation, Washington), a farm that specializes in organic produce and soil health.
Though many are familiar with the beet salads that grace the menus of our favorite restaurants, some may be unfamiliar with how they are prepared. They can be boiled, oven-roasted, or served cold on a salad. We oven-roasted ours, using the red-hued beets to make an earthy puree, while the golden-ones were diced into qube-like segements and placed on top of the puree for added texture.

The deep-hues will stain your fingers purple and sickle-orange if you let them. Yet isn't that part of the fun and art of cooking?
Beet (puree) Recipe:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the beets.

2. Coat them with oil and Almond Cardamom salt.

3. Wrap them in tin-foil and cook them for 45-60 minutes or until you can easily pierce each one with a knife.

4. Take the skins off. The deep-hues will stain your fingers and/or cloth so that you may want to use an old towel.

5. Puree the beats with a cup of chicken stock and 1/4 tsp of butter. Puree until high and smooth.

6. Put beet puree in sauce pot on stove. Simmer and mount a 1/2 tsp of butter to round out the flavor.

7. Plate puree and finish with Almond Cardamom salt.

Olsen Farms' Potatoes





Thousands of potato varieties exist that it's difficult to imagine trying them all. These colorful hodgepodge of taters came again, from Olsen Farms.
Their potatoes are dryland-produced and known for their superior flavor and lively colors. Though they have over 20 varieties to choose from, we smiled upon Viking Purples, Purple Majesties, All Blues, Mountain Roses, and Red Ladies. With names like those, how could you not feel to be in good company in the kitchen? We certainly did.
The preparation of these potatoes played a role in our grass-fed Rib-eye steak and beet puree dish (featured below).

Potato Players:
- Viking Purple Potatoes, Purple Majesties, All Blues, Mountain Roses, Red Ladies

Blanched Potato Recipe:
1. Blanch potatoes in salted water. To blanch, plunge the taters into a pot of boiling water and let cook for 10-15 minutes.
2. Remove potatoes from boiling water. Then plunge potatoes into an ice water bath or run under cold water to halt the cooking process.*
3. Peel potatoes by turning each tater evenly so that they have 7 equal sides.
4. For this potato recipe (which we paired with grass-fed Beef Rib-eye and organic Beets), we finished our potatoes with Lavender Rosemary salt.

* Blanching helps to loosen the skin, making it easier to peel potatoes. Blanching can also help enhance the flavor of some vegetables such as broccoli (by releasing bitter acids stored naturally in the food). Blanching is also reportedly used to enhance the color of some particularly green vegetables by releasing trapped gases of the food that obscure the greenness of their chlorophyll.