Sweet Carrot Bisque with Umami Pesto

Sweet Carrot Soup with Umami Pesto

When I was a wee bonnie lass, I tolerated raw carrots, but cooked carrots were the kiss of death to my usually robust appetite. In fact, since MauiJim shares my aversion, I began to experiment tenuously with cooked carrots only recently. I usually saute them quickly or add them at the last minute to preserve their crunchy texture.

However, carrot bisque is an exception. The carrots need to be fully tender in order to liquefy them in a blender. And because they are quite sweet by nature, especially when they are young and freshly dug, I treat them in a similar fashion to yams, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.

Sweet Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Basil & Mint

Bing Cherry & Pea Vine Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

This past Saturday, I walked through the Seattle University District Farmers Market with–gasp–no goal. I let the season’s bounty and the culinary muses set the agenda. The muses, aroused by my atypical lack of planning, whispered sweet nothings in my ear: “cherries, cherries, cherries.”

Luckily, several growers’ tables were piled high with sweet cherries (Bings, Rainiers, and Chelans) and one grower had oh-so-hard-to-find Montmorency pie cherries as well. But at $10 a pound, I will plan what to make with these, perhaps next week.

Fresh Strawberry Roundup

Northwest Strawberries

To kick off Northwest strawberry season, here are the tried-and-true recipes from past seasons. Check out the Strawberry Primer first for a wide range of other flavors that partner beautifully with the inestimable Northwest strawberry.

Eat. Seattle. Mistral Kitchen.

Mistral Kitchen, Seattle: Kurobuta Pork Belly, Re Curry Vinaigrette, Baby Coconuts, Cilantro Sprouts, Cashews

You are looking at perhaps the most delectable pork belly in the world. No, the universe. According to one of the amiable chefs behind the kitchen bar from which MauiJim and I were watching the action, it was cooked sous-vide at 145 degrees–for TWO DAYS.

You won’t, however, find this mentioned on the menu. I only suspected it after the fatty portion of the pork belly melted on my palate like warm butter. Then I asked. If I had been paying better attention, the plastic pouch from which the chef removed the portion of pork belly would have been an immediate give-away.

Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad with Warm Goat Cheese & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad with Warm Goat Cheese & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

We are in love with full-meal salads in the OtherWorldly Kitchen, and I scramble every week to come up with a couple of new and memorable offerings. However, it’s challenging to make a salad an entire meal if seafood, poultry, or meat is not included.

Enter the indispensible log of mild goat cheese. It’s always on hand in my kitchen, because it lends itself to so many dishes. I wouldn’t want to be without it.

Mac & Cheese Round Two: Portland. Seattle. Boston. Scottsdale.

23 Hoyt, Mac & Cheese, Portland Oregon

When I posted our first Quintessential Mac & Cheese Roundup in 2008, I was certain we would soon run out of restaurants that served Mac & Cheese, and then the idea of a yearly roundup would be a thing of the past. Well, either I was way wrong about the number of restaurants that serve Mac & Cheese or an increasing number of restaurants have recently added the divine macaroni to their menus. Either way, there now seems to be no danger of running out of stellar renditions of this most delicious dish. My ooey-gooey-cheesy cup runneth over!

Caramelized Pear Salad with Gorgonzola, Candied Spiced Walnuts & Spicy Orange Vinaigrette

Carmelized Pear Salad with Gorgonzola and Candied Spiced Walnuts

Pears have a flavor affinity with creamy blue cheeses, such as Cambozola, Gorgonzola, Stilton, and Roquefort, as well as with balsamic vinegar, red wine, oranges, toasted walnuts, and the caramelization technique. I’m exploring these marvelous affinities this fall as new-season local pears fill the farmers markets.

If you are interested likewise in exploring the wide range of possible flavor affinities with pears as the star, I highly recommend The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. I use the lists in this book constantly to push myself into new directions.

Candied Spiced Walnuts or Pecans

Candied Spiced Walnuts

I drove through the Cascade foothills today and was delighted that the leaves are beginning their yearly show. It’s not the full show yet. That will take another week or two. But the few trees that are turning now are the most glorious shades of crimson, burgundy, orange and gold. Surreal! I also passed several large pumpkin fields and corn mazes. I rolled down the car window to hear the hordes of squealing, laughing kids in the fields. I even thought I smelled apple cider, but it’s still too early for fresh pressed, unpasteurized cider.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Gazpacho

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Gazpacho

I talked about my LOVE for gazpacho earlier this summer in the Spicy Cucumber Gazpacho post. In a moment of wild gazpacho abandon, I promised to share at least six of my favorite gazpacho recipes with you this summer. Whatever was I thinking?

Blueberry, Lime & Rose Petal Cheesecake

Slice of Blueberry, Lime & Rose Petal Cheesecake

Long, long ago, in a far, far away land (okay, it was Phinney Ridge near the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle), I was the co-owner of a cheesecake business called the Uncommon Cheesecake. My partner and I baked the most extraordinary cheesecakes I have ever tasted, before or since: Grand Marnier with Bitter Orange, Candied Ginger, and Café Mocha to name a few I can recall.

Fresh Blueberry Lime Sauce

Fresh Blueberry Lime Sauce with Northwest Blueberries

Blueberry season is in full swing in the Northwest. Yesterday, the Pike Place Market was overflowing with these silvery purple jewels. I nibbled my way around until I found a local grower whose berries seemed just right: full and multidimensional in flavor with good acidity to balance their sweetness.

Fresh Primer: Strawberries

Honeoye Early Season Oregon Strawberries

If you ask ten people at random to name their favorite berry, eight of them will say, “strawberries of course.” And who’s to argue? In the height of Northwest strawberry season, it’s hard to imagine anything tasting better than these juicy, incredibly sweet, powerfully flavorful berries. They are simply perfection.

Rhubarb Cardamom Lime Muffins

Rhubarb Cardamom Lime Muffins Fresh from the Oven

MauiJim says they are the best muffins he has ever eaten. I wish I could have captured an audio clip of his little murmurings as he was eating these. We devoured the entire batch over a few days. and the remarkable thing was that they were as good on day three (with a 20-second refresh in the microwave) as on day one. That just isn’t typical of muffins, as you surely know.

Fresh Primer: Rhubarb

Boxes of Rhubarb at Portland Farmers Market

I have loved rhubarb for as long as I can remember. As kids, my brother, Daniel, and I would pilfer it from between the pickets of the deteriorating white fence that separated our yard from the neighbor’s. We thought of it as “high crime,” stealing if you will, but as I look back on our shenanigans now, I realize that no one but us gave a darn about that forgotten patch of rhubarb.

Northwest Fresh: Portland Farmers Market Spring 2009

Northwest Field Tulips in an Array of Colors

The Portland Farmers Market (PFM) on the Portland State University (PSU) campus in downtown Portland is everything a local farmers market should be: fresh, seasonal, regional, sustainable, and mostly organic. I’m not the only one who thinks it rocks.

The Paley’s Place Cookbook

book-cover

I have a lot of cookbooks: hundreds, many hundreds, many many hundreds, who knows how many hundreds? I read them–voraciously and compulsively–like mystery novels, looking for clues. Clues to the artistic intention, vision, and personality behind the recipes and the rhetoric. A Voice with something unique to say–or if not unique, then honest, sincere, compelling, […]