I have a hard time not relating important dates to important foods. For some people it’s music and for others the blossoms of Easter or poinsettias of the holiday season. The beginning of May is boating season for many in Seattle, but for me it’s the beginning of wild salmon season and Washington asparagus.
Our friends Kay and Clay, of Chinook Winery, would always have an open house Father’s Day weekend to celebrate the arrival of ripe cherries and the release of their latest vintage of Merlot. After climbing the dozen or so trees in their orchard, picking handfuls of dark red cherries, we would separate the mushed ones and use them for marinating lamb chops. The rest were eaten whole or canned in Merlot and brandy syrup or cut for my basil, black pepper, and bing cherry relish to finish off the lamb plate.
Our clothing swap was an incredible success this year due to the hard work of so many dedicated volunteers. A big shout out for the extra efforts of Carol Baush, Erica Minshull, Robyn Teppler, Serenity Contreras, Andrea Rapp, Liese Freund, Jessica Moore, Joni Weiss, Sarah Schaaf, Erin Fitzpatrick, Team Catering, Team Home Remedy… the list goes on!
We had such an overwhelming donation of clothing that we ended up calling both the Noel House and the YWCA to have them send their friends to shop alongside us so that we could move it as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of clothing we would have to transport following the swap. It turned out to be a great idea, and it was enjoyable to shop with and for lots of new people we met who needed assistance.
All of the nicest remaining clothes were bundled up by Erica, Andrea, and Carol this morning for donation to the Jubilee Women’s Center, a great nonprofit helping women achieve success! The staff at Jubilee were blown away by the big donation. The donation will make a huge impact on the ladies who rely on clothing donations to help them prepare for new opportunities.
Thank you all who participated, supported, marketed, and donated!!
Summer time is the time to fire up the backyard grill and turn the patio or deck into your any-day-of-the-week family dining room. How do you make the most of the BBQ and grill experience? Just as important, how do you choose what to drink with your grilled masterpieces? I came up with three unique recipes perfect for any summer BBQ, and tried them on the grill out at our Prosser Farm, where my wife, Jackie, is Farmer-in-Chief. First, here are my tips for getting the most out of your grilling experience:
• Game Plan: I focus on what I need to prep and have with me at the grill, so when I’m finished I can plate and serve.
• Strategize: We all get excited to grill and often get distracted by everything that’s going on. Run through the game plan in your head and figure out what you need to do, then head to the grill.
• Temperature and Digital Thermometer: Temperature is the most important thing when it comes to grilling. Safety is always key, but ensuring your food isn’t overcooked will help you become your neighborhood grill master.
• Know your grill: whether charcoal or gas, there are temperature variations. So figure out hot and cold areas of your grill before the big party.
• Layer flavors: It’s what makes my cooking unique. Grilling is all about being a better cook than your neighbor and I guarantee that layering your flavors will help you get there:
Flavor should be built upon from the ingredient to the plate.
Season your base meats and vegetables well.
Let the charcoal or smoke build upon that.
Create additional sauces to caramelize flavors and add something new and surprising.
• Be creative:
Use what is in season and around you, like fresh vegetables, herbs and spices.
Try out a new sauce.
Create your own rub, which is easy to do. Just play around with it and have fun.
Grilled Wild-Caught King Salmon with a Fresh Radish and Pea Salad
Because it’s important to think about sustaining our fisheries, I recommend purchasing wild-caught salmon. I use the center cuts for tenderness and smoke the tails for later use. Salmon is naturally rich in flavor, so all I do to the fish is add salt, pepper, and a touch of olive oil. Cook the salmon over indirect heat, or on a slightly cooler part of the grill, and after it’s cooked, finish with a squeeze of lemon. For the fresh pea shoot and radish salad from the garden, dress with just a bit of the Eroica Riesling or with a squeeze of lemon and a little olive oil. Serve with asparagus grilled directly over the hot coals and finish with salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Ancho BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Cheese, Tomato, and Guacamole
This dish is all about layering flavors from the Rub with Love Smoky BBQ rub (or make your own rub with hints of cumin, garlic, and smoked paprika) to the full flavor of my Rub with Love Ancho & Molasses Barbecue Sauce which caramelizes onto the boneless, skinless chicken thighs while they absorb all those wonderful charcoal grill flavors. Chicken thighs are among your best bests for grilling as they stay moist and it’s almost impossible to overcook them. Rub the thighs with spice rub, then put them on the grill and give them a hard sear. At the last minute, while they’re still on the grill, glaze them with the barbecue sauce. Place a slice of jack cheese or pepper jack or cheddar on top of the chicken and put the lid on the grill so the cheese will melt. Don’t forget to toast the cut sides of the bun on the grill. Put the grilled chicken on the bun and top with a slice of tomatoes and some fresh guacamole. I like my guacamole with plenty of lime.
Spice rubbed Flat Iron Steak with Crispy Shallots
Flat iron steaks are a great value and they’re the second most tender cut on the steer. I rub them with our Rub with Love Steak Rub. Our rub has nice smoky, ancho chili, garlic, and rosemary overtones, or you could make your own rub. Give the steak a hard sear on both sides, no more than 6 to 8 minutes (typically, your flat iron will be about an inch thick), then remove from the grill and let it rest 15 minutes. Slice and serve rare. I love serving this steak with crispy shallots, though you could give thinly sliced yellow onion the same treatment. Simply dredge the shallots or onions in cornstarch, then deep fry to a golden brown, scoop them out of the oil and drain on paper towels, then serve with the steaks. A beautiful alternative to the crispy shallots is to thickly slice an onion, char grill the slices and use to garnish your steak.
We are off to a good run for this spring. We have already brought over double the amount of produce compared to last year.
Our early spring run consisted of spinach, arugula, lettuce, Pink Lettucey mustard, Toraziaroh mustard, Ruby Streak, and radish. Each of these crops has yielded really well. The lettuce put up a good fight with the sage rats and survived. An interesting observation over 2 years of planting lettuce is that the sage rats and even the birds don’t pick at the red lettuce varieties, they only go after the green ones. We are using our heads and not going to plant any green lettuce in the fields from now on. We will use our raised beds to plant green lettuce and use the fields for red lettuce. Let’s see who is smarter now….probably not me.
What’s coming up for late spring and early summer:
White Siberian Kale
Green onions: Pearl and Parade
What’s happening in the fields:
Seeded another round of mustard and summer greens a few weeks back
All the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are being transplanted and our chefs are coming over to give us a hand!
Potatoes are emerging out of the ground
Walla Walla onion transplants look great but in desperate need of some weeding this week
Cipollini onions are slowly emerging from the ground, and it is going to be a race to stay ahead of the weeds
Last night’s class at our cooking school, Hot Stove Society, gave us a ton of ideas about what to do with the abundance of delicious local asparagus now in the markets. Check out the Hot Stove blog here and take a look at the class schedule while you’re over on the Hot Stove website.
Do you know how to use your boning knife to “pick up the oyster” when carving a roasted duck? Watch the video from this blog on the site of our Tom Douglas Restaurants cooking school, Hot Stove Society, and watch Tom Douglas show you how to carve a duck like a pro!
Farm Layout: I have attached a Google earth shot of the farm for those of you that have not been able to visit. On the right hand side is the 4 lower quads, the barn, and the raised beds.
On the left you can see the main house (with pool) and the upper 6 quads. There is additional space in the upper area that we will continue to amend, de-rock, and till over the next couple years to get in shape for planting.
Greenhouse: We are full to the brim with peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant starts. We have started to transplant the tomatoes into larger pots where they will stay until the middle of May. Peppers likewise have been transplanted and moved out to cold-frames to begin the hardening off process.
In the fields: 1000 feet of English peas came leaping out of the ground and became a very tasty buffet for the sage rats. We have waged war and hopefully will have the upper hand soon.
800 feet of carrots are slowly coming up, expect harvest in late May
1200 feet of beets were seeded last week, expect harvest in mid June
800 feet of chard were planted, harvest expected in June
500 feet of ozzette potatoes were planted, harvest in late July- early August
900 feet of cippolini onions were seeded, harvest in late August
What are we bringing over to the Tom Douglas Restaurants?
Last Friday we delivered ruby streaks and pink lettucey mustard thinings along with Crawford Farm asparagus. Next week we will add radishes, lettuce thinnings, Toraziroh mustard and spinach thinnings to the mix.
Tom, Jackie, my husband Mike, and I spent a few days in Manhattan last week catching up on the dining scene and navigating long walks to digest our ambitious consumption. Here are the highlights that combine old favorites and new discoveries.
1. The Spotted Pig is still rocking the gastro pub vibe and looks quite exuberant with mounds of pussy willows out front. (photo top)
2. Piora is a thrilling Korean/Italian fusion spot with trendy textural vegetables and dramatic hand carved ice cubes. (photo above)
3. We made it all the way out to Roberta’s in Brooklyn- take the L train, cabs are miserable. This is hipster central with a funky radio station on premise. We only got to have the great pizza and fabulous romaine salad because they have a reduced menu between lunch and dinner service.
4. Tremendous Champagne experience at the new wine bar location of Cork Buzz in the Chelsea market with perfect small plate pairings.
5. The 9/11 Memorial pools are heart wrenching and deserve some quiet contemplative time.
6. Close by is the Amish Market Tribeca- BOUNTIFUL prepared foods to take over to the stunning new Hudson River Park and waterfront trail.
7. Our highlight was dinner at Dirty French, swanky surrounds, immersive music and deep well defined flavors. Knowledgeable staff to guide us through a terrific wine list.
8. ABC Kitchen is as graceful as ever. We enjoyed sitting at the bar eating lobster and carrot avocado salad (photo above). Super good desserts and lots of beautiful people watching.
9. Gotham Market West is almost as cool as Assembly Hall. We got to eat Ivan Ramen, drink Blue Bottle coffee and nosh on some terrific tacos.
10. Our next stop was Aldo Sohm wine bar. The flights and bubbly selection is impressive and I was happy to be able to order a head of cauliflower with chicken salt (photo above).
11. Since it is right next to Le Bernardin we slid in for a lovely lunch with impeccable raw fish preparations and aged Chablis. Such a pretty dining room (photo above).
12 . The extension to the Highline is complete and worth the walk but it is getting VERY crowded.
13. We really wanted to get a seat at the Nomad Bar because it is stunning but it is a mob scene, do go take a look.
14 . Our final dinner was at an old favorite, Cafe Boulud. There are some new a la carte twists to the menu that let you build a very modern experience, loved the Vietnamese section.
We returned home full and happy with great inspiration for our new restaurant, The Carlile Room.
If you missed our demo, lunch, and book signing with Mindy Segal, Chicago’s best pastry chef, you missed out on a fun class that included tastes of luscious cookies and as much baking information that most people can absorb in a single sitting. But don’t worry you can still:
1. Buy Mindy’s book, Cookie Love.
2. Read the blog about the class on the Hot Stove Society website here.
3. While you’re there, check out more Hot Stove Society classes so you don’t continue to miss out!
Our Chef Tom Douglas and Chef Brian Walczyk were on King 5’s New Day Northwest television program yesterday promoting one of our newest joints, Cantina Lena! You can find the video on their webpage here: http://kng5.tv/1zID2Np
Welcome to Family Meal, a blog that examines all things new and noteworthy in the world of food, wine, and dining.
At family meal, otherwise known as staff meal, there’s no hierarchy; you’re breaking bread with your friends. For those 30 minutes, everyone is equal- and hungry. Family meal is our version of the water cooler- but with better food.
I’ll be sharing my thoughts, tips, and observations, and, in the spirit of family meal, I’ve invited our creative, energetic staff- everyone from line cook to bartender to bookkeeper- to have a say. I hope you’ll add your own comments and join in the conversation.