Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cherry Blossoms at the University of Washington

Spring is here and cherry trees at the University of Washington are in full bloom. A lot of people are enjoying them. If you have not gone yet then do it quickly before pink snow comes falling.

Friday Night in Ballard

Last Friday we decided to go to the Walrus and the Carpenter. I have heard and read about this place for few years now. It was time to go. We got there around 8 pm and were put on a wait list with an estimated time of 2.5 hours!!! OK! We have 2.5 hours to spare - what shall we do? We walked along the Ballard Ave NW to Hot Cakes - why not start a night out with a dessert? The picture above is their Dark Decadence. Next is the wine bar Portalis. We have some wine. We are hungry and head down to the Walrus and the Carpenter.

We get seated at the bar and order fresh oysters, fried oysters, sardines, halibut crudo and artichoke salad. Oysters and sardines were very good. As for halibut and salad - too much acid for my taste. Fun place though.

Strawberry Muffins for Easter

It is Easter and I feel like baking. I decide on strawberry muffins and find a recipe online. Very easy to make. I added few drops of vanilla extract and baked mine for about 25 minutes. All in all came out good and my 15 month old critic approves. And those chocolate eggs are from Fran's.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dinner for Him at Volunteer Park Cafe

This month we celebrated my husband's birthday at our neighborhood restaurant Volunteer Park Cafe. It is a rustic neighborhood restaurant and bakery that doesn't skimp on butter, cheese and other good ingredients! Here are few pictures that my friend Natasha took of our celebration. It has a warm family atmosphere and their large community table worked perfectly for us. I highly recommend it!

Sturgeon with Parsley Butter

The other day we picked up couple of sturgeon steaks at Uwajimaya. Sturgeon is a meaty fish. I like it better than halibut. I pan fried it and served with a parsley butter and roasted cauliflower on a side. Here is my recipe.


For sturgeon:
2 sturgeon steaks
1 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

For parsley butter:
2 tablespoons of butter
1 heaping tablespoon of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 clove of garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest


1. To make parsley butter microwave butter for a minute or two on low power (so that it does not explode!) until it is completely melted. Combine melted butter with lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and parsley. Chill in a refrigerator until fish is ready.

2. Preheat oven to 450F. Wash fish in a cold water and pat dry. Salt both sides of the fish and drench in flour. Pour oil in a pan and on medium high heat fry sturgeon steaks 2-3 minutes a side until golden brown. Fry skin sides for about 20 seconds a side. Transfer fish on to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes until done. Serve with some parsley butter on top.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Making of a Coq au Vin

Last month I took upon myself to make Coq au Vin so next time I watch "Chopped" or any other cooking show I know what they are talking about. Plus my husband recalls that when his mother would make a fancy meal it would be this dish.

As with other rustic french cooking recipes I use my favorite The Girl and The Fig's cookbook to make this dish. The recipe was not very easy to follow and few times I had to guess what came next but in the end the dish came together and we enjoyed it. The purple color is fun but I won't say it is my favorite. All in all this was a fun weekend cooking challenge but I doubt I will make Coq au Vin again - just not my style. Below is the recipe I made (a bit modified from the original).



¾ cup of red wine
¼ tablespoon of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup of Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon of soy sauce

2 chicken thighs
5 chicken legs

Braising Liquid:

1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 stocks of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
¼ tablespoon of whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
½ tablespoon of cocoa nibs
¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 cups of red wine
Bouquet garni – 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, 2 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley and 1 bay leaf
3 cups of chicken stock

For the Chicken:

1 cup of flour
¼ lb of pancetta, diced
½ lb of button mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and cut into halves and quarters
Olive Oil
1 ½ tablespoons of Brandy
1 cup of red wine
1 large onion, half-mooned
Salt and Pepper
1 lb of turnips, peeled and cut into bite size pieces


Day 1: Marinate chicken. Arrange chicken thighs and legs in a glass dish. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over chicken. Cover with a plastic wrap and let marinate for more than 8 hours but less than 24 hours. I also turned chicken once since the marinade did not cover it completely.

Day 2: Make the Coq au Vin
1. The first step is to roast turnips. The original recipe called for roasted potatoes but I decided to make turnips instead. Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl toss turnips with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil. Transfer on to a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes, turning once after 20 minutes. Set aside and turn the oven off.

2. The second step is to prepare the braising liquid for the chicken. This was the most challenging step because the recipe did not specify at what temperature to cook. But I managed by constantly watching vegetables not to burn.

In a large pot on medium heat saute carrot, onion and celery in olive oil (1 tablespoon) for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and add the peppercorns and tomato paste and stir. Cook for another 2 minutes.

Add cocoa nibs, cinnamon and red wine. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add the bouqet garni and chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour. After that strain the liquid and set it aside.

3. Now we are getting to making the chicken. Preheat oven to 350F. Remove chicken from the marinade and pat it dry. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, and pepper. Dip chicken into flour mixture and set aside.

In a large ovenproof pan (large enough to hold all the chicken) on medium high heat fry pancetta until crispy and transfer on to a plate. Add a little bit of Olive Oil and saute mushrooms and onions on medium high heat until golden brown (5 minutes) and transfer on to the same plate as pancetta. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent burning.

In the same pan on medium high heat saute chicken until well browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Chicken looks the prettiest at this stage.

Deglaze the pan with Brandy and then with red wine. Reduce the liquid by half. Now it is time to assemble all the ingredients together. Pour braising liquid and add pancetta, mushrooms and onions to the chicken in a pan. Place the pan in the oven for 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter and keep warm. Bring the wine sauce to a boil and reduce by one third.

4. It is time to eat. To serve add turnips to the wine sauce and pour over the chicken, sprinkle some fresh finely chopped parsley on top. The recipe in the book had a picture, in which chicken was dressed up with some non-purple vegetables. In reality everything looked purple. It was tasty especially mushrooms.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Frye Museum and Lady in Pink by Fechin

Last week I discovered an art gem in Seattle - Frye Art Museum. It is free and not crowded, has a nice space and a cafe. They have an exhibit of works by Nicolai Fechin on a display now. Nicolai Fechin is a Russian-American Painter. I really like his paintings. My favorites include Lady in Black, Lady in Pink (most famous and shown above), portraits of his daughter and few portraits of Native Americans when he lived in Taos. Works are on display until May 19, 2013. Go and check it out if you have not yet.