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Foodie Friday: Chocofest 2014

chocofest-14-flyer1Trying something new can be exciting, frightening, and even disastrous. This may be true, but you never know until you give it a shot. Ray Bradbury said “The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible.”

Valentines Day, for many, is a time dedicated to romance between two individuals and their shared connection. Romance can also exist between two ideas or creations. Such is the case for chocolate and beer according to Pike Brewing Company’s annual affair Chocofest. This annual event has been running for six years and continues to make attendees get all mushy.
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Foodie Friday: Wild Edibles

6242436853_b0784c9dbd_bThe age of convenience has removed our society from many things once essential to our survival. Possibly the most important of which being the ability to forage and gather our own food. Acorns, for example, are most likely not a part of the average person’s diet in the 21st century. We are definitely experiencing a food revolution right now and what ten years ago was considered lawn clippings, now goes for a pretty penny in your local organic food market. This means there are healthy, delicious local edibles available in most areas, even if you are in the city or too busy to forage.

Adventurous chefs around the planet have been singing the praises of these types of ingredients for quite sometime. You might see ramps, fiddle head ferns, dandelion greens, and definitely wild mushrooms on the menu in almost any fine dining restaurant you can find. This is great for folks that can afford to dine in these establishments, but what about cooking with them at home? Shouldn’t we all be able to work with these ingredients without being intimidated? The answer is yes, yes we should. This week’s Foodie Friday will focus on some wild edibles used today and how to approach them.

Before you can start turning your foraged treasures into culinary masterpieces, you should take some time to get familiar with your area. Foraging is a skill that is gained through lots of careful practice and study. It should be taken very seriously and practiced under professional guidance and supervision. There are classes in most regions that will allow you to get some practice and learn which edibles are safe and which might be poisonous. This is definitely not a step you should skip if you do decide to pick your own wild edibles. If you aren’t able to go out and learn, or simply aren’t interested in that part of the process try your local farmers market or organic producer store.
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Foodie Friday: Chicken and Dumplings

5433313563_285056a6ea_bSometimes, the simplest dishes make both the most comforting and the most nourishing meal. Making a simple dish with the highest quality ingredients and utmost care will make all the difference in the final product. Therefore, when selecting produce for even the most basic dishes, it’s really important to get the good stuff. Try your local farmers market and even roadside produce stands if you have any in your area. If you are shopping at the grocery store, look for the certified organic veggies and hormone-free organic meat, fish and poultry. Although it may be a little more expensive it’s worth it.

Besides being organic, it’s also key that your ingredients are appealing to your senses. Smell, touch and taste everything you are putting in your meal. This separates a good cook from a great one, and adds a sense of ownership and unrivalled pride. Knowing that you lovingly selected each and every carrot in the soup will give you a deep respect for your meal. Carefully preparing the ingredients in a patient and ritualistic manner can be complete bliss for some. The smells and sounds of the kitchen meld together to create a culinary nirvana in your own home.

The following Chicken and Dumplings recipe is from my childhood and has always been a go-to for colds or warming up after a cold winter outing. Although it’s a fairly involved recipe, it gets easier the more you make it, and it is definitely worth it. You may want to make a double batch. We tend to go through a pot easily at my house. For those of you that are vegetarian or vegan, there is an alternative recipe noted with an asterisk (*) for you to follow. For our gluten free friends try rice, corn, or any kind of gluten free flour you like. And, of course, as with any recipe, feel free to “color outside of the lines” and make it the way you like it. Enjoy!
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Foodie Friday: DIY Cooking Classes – Passing Your Expertise On To Others

IMAG0874With a growing interest in the slow food movement, tons of us are getting better at crafting artisan quality foods and beverages. As a chef, farmer, bartender, or even a self taught brew master you have something valuable to pass on to others. We all have a need to learn, and once we have learned, there is a tendency to share the information in kind.  People around you might very well want to learn the techniques you have perfected in your culinary adventures.
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Foodie Friday: Wild Mushroom Risotto

6703097183_e537063c3d_bThe earth has provided a bounty of edible mushrooms that people have been harvesting since before the dawn of mass agriculture. Through trial and error we have been able to distinguish certain delectable species as safe for our consumption. Though there’s an astounding variety of mushroom species on our planet, only a select few have been selected to be included in our recipes.

Mushrooms are complex creatures with even more complex flavors and textures. When properly prepared, these wondrous fungi can provide your palate with a rich and powerful experience. For those of you out there that are a little intimidated by cooking certain types of wild mushrooms, this post might help set your mind at ease. There are a couple of different species that do require specific preparation but once you got the basics down you might surprise yourself.

Choosing the right fungi for the job is the first step in the path to culinary enlightenment. If you are making a salad or something with light delicate broth you might select oyster mushrooms. When braising rabbit however chantrelle or morel mushrooms are a little more appropriate for the job, since they are heartier and more suitable for rich complex dishes.

The next thing to consider once you have selected the types of mushrooms you want to include in your dish would be the various preparations and cooking times for each of your specimens. When cooking with tougher mushrooms such as shitake you will want to remove the stem and cut them a little smaller prior to cooking for example. I have chosen some tips for preparing commonly used wild mushrooms, and a recipe for a great wild mushroom risotto. Please make sure if you are foraging for mushrooms that you do so with a professional. Some species of mushrooms can cause illness or even death, so either go with a  pro or hit your local market. Dig it!
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Foodie Friday: Banana Ice Cream

389114189_40af3b475e_zThere are different ways for every family to spend time together. In my house, cooking is a major activity, with plenty of rewards. The time we spend together cooking and the resulting foods keep our hearts and bellies full.

Having a toddler in the house gives me the extra excuse to indulge my inner child and make things that adults almost always enjoy, but never think of making at home.

Our most recent culinary adventure was homemade ice cream. While I was busy measuring milk, cream and sugar, my little one proved herself an expert banana-smasher and taste tester. In addition to smashing bananas and tasting them, my daughter was able to learn some valuable lessons about kitchen safety and stirring things together, necessary skills for any aspiring chef.

The banana ice cream recipe I am sharing this week is most definitely an adaptation of a few recipes I have used throughout the years. If you are vegan, you can replace the milk/cream with coconut milk and omit the egg yolks – it won’t turn out quite the same, but is still a delicious frozen treat. Stay cool!
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Foodie Friday: Sunset Supper in the Market and a Cantaloupe Cooler recipe

Working as a chef for fifteen years, I can remember working all summer long in a hot kitchen. Barely seeing the sunlight while my friends and family were out enjoying the Pacific Northwest’s all too brief summer. So naturally any time we got a chance to work an outside catering event we would jump at the chance. One such event I had the privilege of working was the Sunset Supper in the Pike Place Market, a great event that supports a great cause.

Well it just so happens Brown Paper Tickets is selling tickets for this years installment which takes place on Friday, August 17. Sunset Supper in the Market has all of the important elements of a great summer event: food, libations, contests, music, and dancing. On top of all of that the proceeds support the work of the Pike Market Medical Clinic, Senior Center, Child Care & Preschool and Food Bank – vital services utilized by thousands of Seattle’s low-income and elderly residents.

If you aren’t able to attend this event or are not in the area don’t be sad; there are tons of great events happening this summer all over the place. Here are a few that caught my eye:

Sunday, July 29 I Carts and a Cold OneEugene, Oregon

Friday, August 3 I 3rd Annual Paella in the ParkTraverse City, Michigan

Friday, August 3 I Summer Fruit Desserts 2.0 – Now We’re Cookin’Evanston, Illinois

Saturday, August 4 I Endless SummerPortland, Oregon

Wednesday, August 8 I Summer BBQ SeriesCarlsbad, California

Sunday, August 12 I Farm Table Dinners @ Green Dirt FarmWeston, Missouri

Friday, August 17 I Sunset Supper at the Market – Seattle, Washington

Now don’t think for one minute I forgot you hard-working kitchen types or those of you that are putting on your own events. I have included a recipe for one of my favorite things to drink in the heat or really, anytime for that matter. Remember, a recipe is just a guideline so feel free to make it yours by adding a few of your favorite berries, substituting sweeteners, or adding your favorite liquor or sparkling wine. There is an infinite number of combinations to try. I hope you enjoy!
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Foodie Friday: Hooray for Chocolate Chip Cookies!






Here is a chocolate chip cookie recipe I have been using for years. It’s near and dear to me so I would like to share it with you! Even during these sweltering summer months, there is nothing like a chocolate chip cookie. Try eating them with some vanilla ice cream at your next summer barbecue.
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Yucatan Carnitas, Pozole, and Halibut Ceviche from El Centro de la Raza

My name is Patrick Nelson, Brown Paper Tickets’ food and drink specialist. I have been working with a Latino community center in the Seattle area called El Centro de la Raza. My mission is to help them create a program  that brings the community together to learn how to create authentic Latin cuisine.  Chef Vincent Rivera, a long time Seattle chef currently working at Jazz Alley, volunteered his time to demonstrate recipes that fill the soul and the belly with comfort: Carnitas, Ceviche and Pozole.

We cooked and tasted and laughed and chatted and when we were done we ate our delicious creations together in a wonderfully relaxed environment. Everyone had an an ear to ear smile, felt satisfied and full and we received a certificate of completion. Mission accomplished, BPT and El Centro de la Raza. Well done!

Here is my recipe for Yucatan Carnitas, Ceviche and Pozole with Pico de Gallo, which we made at the cooking workshop at El Centro led by Vincent. Enjoy!
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