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Chive & Pea Risotto with Garlicky Shrimp

Our time out at WestWard last week was all about comfort. And very few foods speak to me of comfort as a big bowl of risotto. I have used shrimp a bunch in the past but thought they lacked a bit of flavor adding them into cook along with the rice, so this time I roasted them in the oven while I cooked the risotto so they had tons more flavor. Here is what I did, which was super simple.

Take shrimp and pile them onto a sheet pan. Chop up a few cloves of garlic quite fine. Add that to the pile of shrimp. Then a big glug of extra virgin olive oil. Plus a few big pinches of salt & pepper. With your hands, mix it all together, gently working it all amongst the shrimp. Then spread them out on the baking sheet. Add to a 400 degree oven for 7 to 9 minutes.  Be careful to not overcook, as they will cook a bit more in the risotto in the last 5 minutes of that cooking process. Take off the baking sheet when done and put onto a plate to cool. If they stay on the hot sheet, they will continue to cook more. Set plate of shrimp aside. You can either cook the shrimp before you start the risotto or while, your call. Either is fine.  

OK, here we go. Risotto. Cooking it scares some people, other people say how easy it is. I fall in the middle. I have made risotto for many years, and it was a bit of trial & error at first. This is what I have learned works. My biggest error at first is I did not have the chicken stock that you add ladle by ladle as the risotto cooks, hot enough. You will need 8 cups of chicken stock, homemade is preferred, but stock in a box is also completely fine. Heat up the stock to not quite a boil, then turn down the heat a bit, but the stock should remain hot thru the entire risotto cooking process.

Next, and here is where I like to use a good sized Le Creuset pot for cooking the risotto in, add a liberal dose of butter and cook a diced onion and shallot till they are not quite brown. Then add a good amount of olive oil to that, along with 2 cups of arborio rice. It is essential that you use arborio rice for this. Coat the rice with the butter and oil mixture, and sauté for a minute or two to cook thru, but don’t brown the rice. All of the above is done over medium heat, but stove tops vary greatly, so adjust accordingly. 

Now the liquids begin. Add one cup of white wine to the mixture. I like to use a white that we will be serving with the meal. Stir rice till the wine is absorbed. The depth of flavor the wine adds to the finished product is really noticeable. Now the waiting hot stock takes center stage. Add one cup of stock to the mixture, stirring till the stock is fully absorbed. What holds many folks back about making risotto is there is a good amount of stirring involved. A constant stir is not necessary, but pretty close. This is where the white wine you opened comes in quite nicely. Sipping a little white wine during the risotto making process is a personal favorite–it is my break from stirring. Continue adding the hot stock one cup at a time, and the rice will become creamier as you go, as it releases the natural starches. Add the 7th cup of stock. At this point, you will be about 20 to 25 minutes into the rice cooking process. You are almost there. Now add the package of frozen peas and the chives you have chopped up. Stir. Add a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Stir. Turn off the heat. Add most of the cooked shrimp, holding back a few to adorn the top of the bowls you are about to serve. Add your last cup of stock. Stir. Add a dusting of salt & fresh ground black pepper. Stir. Put on the lid. Let sit for 5 minutes, have another sip of your white wine, as we are almost done.

Once that 5 minutes has passed, give it one last stir. In a bowl add the risotto mixture, then add a few pieces of the garlicky shrimp to the top of each bowl and finally a few sprinkles of the grated Parmesan. A bit of work, but that will all fade away when you have your first bite.



 

 

Damn The Weather

This is a Wine & Dine Wednesday post on a Monday. It has been in my line-up and I really wanted to write about it today.  Did not think you would mind. Full disclosure, Damn The Weather is a restaurant & bar owned by the husband of a WK family member, Lisa. That aside, I would have still written about it as sooooo many people have told us how fab it is and how much they enjoyed it.  And they were right!  Plus you know I only write about spots we adore, and this is now added to that list.  We had a date night a few Sundays back and finally got to give it a go.  A misty eve where the name of the place was completely apropos.  Located in the historic Pioneer Square area, the space feels like you have entered into another time.  A feeling that Pioneer Square evokes in spades, which you know I quite like.  Drinks play a big role here, so if you are open to trying a new cocktail, you will be filled with glee.  Mister Sive tried a cocktail he had not had before (so sorry I forgot to write the name of it down) and he smiling throughout the meal.  Oh my stars, the meal.  So good.  We shared everything and relished every single bite.  Here is what we had.

A beet salad with whipped feta, seasonal greens, pistachios and tarragon.  Roasted cauliflower with lemon ricotta and caraway bread crumbs.  Chicken fat fries with fennel pollen and lemon.  Ok, I was sorry we split these, as we both could have polished off an order of these.  Braised short ribs with parsnip purée, chanterelles and truffle butter.  Along with a grassfed beef burger with Gruyere & portobellos on a seasame bun.  All stellar.  And I have to tell you, it was the best burgers either one of us had ever had. That is high praise coming from this Midwest boy who was raised in a house where hamburgers were given rock star status.  I can’t even tell you what we split for dessert, but it was also sublime.  We were so happy.  Is that what dining out is all about?  They are open during the week at 11 when they start serving lunch, staying open all the way through 2 in the morning so a cozy spot to grab a bite after a concert or play.  Week-ends they open at 4, again staying open late on Saturday and not quite as late on Sunday.  Just a gem for when you want an amazing cocktail and an equally amazing meal in a cool setting filled with nice folks working to make you happy.  Cheers to that!  



 

 

A Citadelle G&T

20160622-063806.jpg Stumbled across a yummy find awhile back that I thought I would share as we head into Summer gin & tonic season. We like to set out a variety of gins for a ‘help yourself’ G&T station during the sunny months when we have guests out on the island. It is a fun way for them to try something new or stay with an old favorite. The blue from this bottle of Citadelle quickly caught my eye, the fact that it is made in France sealed the deal for me. And then we tried it with guests a few weeks ago. Oh boy, really tasty. I had never heard of it until I spotted that blue bottle. From the bit of quick searching I have surmised that the brand has been given new life in the past several years. As it was produced in the 17th century, Citadelle gin is distilled in small copper pot stills with a naked flame. Using centuries old know-how passed down through five generations of master distillers, Alexandre Gabriel and the Pierre Ferrand cellar master have brought back to market a complex, refined and elegant gin. Look for the beautiful blue bottle. Cheers to Summer!



 

 

Asparagus from Seattle Pickle Co.

20160601-090336.jpg Just In, crazy good asparagus from Seattle Pickle Co. Picked and pickled at the height of freshness, these asparagus are sublime eaten right out of the jar, or added to a Bloody Mary. I like putting the jar on an app tray for a healthy & easy addition. My afternoon Sunday Bloody Mary before my outdoor shower was a hit with a few asparagus added. Pickled vegetables are such a handy thing to have on hand in the fridge for many uses. The jars also make lovely host/hostess gifts.



 

 

Dino’s Tomato Pie

20160323-061151.jpg Pizza has played a central character in my life since I was a little kid. We had pizza night once a week growing up. The Midwest town I grew up in had many several generation Italian families who owned pizzerias. For a fairly small town there was quite a large number to choose from, so we always had lots of options each week and we loved trying them all and comparing over the years. My brother and his family still live there and we still talk pizza when we are back visiting. I think I have mentioned this before, but my Dad was a major lover of food. The joke was we would be having lunch and he would be planning where/what to have for dinner.

So you can imagine my excitement when I started hearing the buzz many months ago about a new pizza place a close walk away from our home in the city. Brandon Pettit and his wife/business partner Molly Wizenberg are known in this town for amazing pizza. So I knew this new establishment would be a hit. Given the line out the door on a Tuesday eve, Dino’s has just within a few weeks become a pizza mecca. We have a niece from back East visiting who joined us as well as our niece that lives in Seattle. The four of us were quite, emphasis on quite, happy dining away on divine pizza & salad, while we shared stories, and laughed, and laughed some more. There was a fab review in The Seattle Times that paints the picture even further. A stand-out addition to the ever expanding Capitol Hill food roster. Run, don’t walk, as it is that good! Plus the running, or walking for that matter, will help burn off all that yummy pizza…

Happy Wednesday all!



 

 

Wednesday Food at The New York Times

20160309-080143.jpg This Wine & Dine Wednesday is not about a particular place to dine or about a stellar bottle of wine. It is about one of the reasons I jump out of bed on Wednesday morning with excitement and run to open the front door and quickly dive into our copy of The New York Times. I leaf through all the sections to find the one that makes my heart go pitter patter, Food. The very best of recipes, new foods out in the market (many of which have found their way on to the Watson Kennedy shelves), restaurant reviews, wine reviews, interviews with chefs, cookbook mentions–my head is generally spinning with happiness as there is just so much good stuff covered each week. If reading about food inspires you, then check it out. A great way to start the middle of the week!



 

 

The Ever Lovely Lark in Seattle

I think you all know this, but for those of you new readers, I only write about places we have dined that we REALLY like. Oddly, or more so, sadly, we have had a string of meals in the last few months at new eateries that have been mediocre at best. We would be super excited to try a new place and I would be so excited to write about it for you all, and by the end of the meal we would be shaking our heads with disappointment. Much of it stems from the fact that we have access to such amazing produce/meat/seafood here in the Pacific Northwest and we both really like to cook, so when we dine out we really want to have food/flavors/experiences that we would not have if we stayed home and cooked. Dining, like retail, is an experience. From the moment you walk in the door the experience begins. Actually, sometimes even sooner, when you call to make your reservation. Details count. Politeness counts. Quality counts. So we decided we are going to go back to some of our ‘tried & true’ establishments…

Which takes us to Lark. From the moment I spoke with the lovely woman on the phone to book a table, to when the bill was presented at the end of spectacular dinner, I was simply blown away by the experience/the meal/everything. We have been fans of chef and owner John Sundstrom since his early days at the W in Seattle as well as when he had Lark on 12th Avenue across from Café Presse and Stumptown. He expanded and moved to the new location on 10th Avenue, not far from his former space. He works with the best ingredients and has continued to work his magic in his new home. This is the first time I have been to the new location.

I was dining with our friend, designer Marianne Simon, and we were happy as a clam by the time we departed. The long space is beautiful, with hundreds of very small lights hanging, seeming like stars in the sky. The new location has large windows that wrap around the space making it light-filled–the overall feel & look quite handsome and supremely comfortable.

Now onto this sublime meal. We started with the Paddlefish caviar on a rosti potato that was simply perfect. The potato similar to a potato pancake that was presented in a skillet toped with a large dollop of crème fraiche next to an equally generous portion of the caviar. Again, dining out should be a treat, and caviar is not something we have at home often, if ever, so having it out makes it extra special. We decided to share each dish so we were able to try more variety, which I highly recommend here, as there are so many delicious flavors going on, you just don’t want to miss out on a single one.

20160302-074048.jpg Wild mushrooms with garlic, shallot and butter while we chatted away telling stories and catching up while our pastas were in the works. Tajarin with fonduta and shaved black truffles sounded out of this world. Again, truffles are not something we have at home, so they always peak my interest when I see them on a menu. I have dreamt about this dish since.

20160302-074703.jpg One of the specials for the eve was a tagliatelle pasta with shrimp that we thought would work well next to the truffle dish. It was equally out of this world. Romanesco a la plancha with Meyer lemon, anchovy and almond was our choice to have with the pasta dishes, which ended up being pretty perfect and a happy trio. By this time my head was swirling with happiness. I am dining in a lovely space where the service is kind and the food is transcending. Isn’t this what dining out is supposed to be?

20160302-075505.jpg Apologies for the not great images of the plates served. I find it terribly hard to grab for my iPhone once a meal has begun, as manners and red wine generally take over. But Marianne was so kind and said it was not a problem in the least as she knew I would want to write about this sumptuous meal. Food is tough to shoot anytime, but nighttime toughest–I really wanted you all to get a little idea so I clicked away. By the time dessert arrived, I did not have it in me to take another photo. But trust me, it was sooooo good. Bartlett pear tarte tatin with Calvados caramel and salted caramel ice cream. At 8 o’clock in the morning when I am writing this, it is sounding all so good all over again.

Bottom line, Lark is a true gem.



 

 

Zuni Cafe

20160127-070121.jpg Wine & Dine Wednesday is about a place I most certainly would deem a classic in every sense, Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. I have written in the past of my love for this place where the memorable meals are indelibly marked in my memory. The taxi dropping me off last week and the moment I stepped out of the car, the unmistakable scent of firewood burning in their wood oven wafted over me like a warm embrace from an old friend. The service always impeccable and always incredibly friendly, which seems rarer & rarer these days. You feel like you are sitting in someone’s comfortable home. Comfort both in environment as well as food is where Zuni excels. Quite possibly one of the finest roast chickens on the planet, cooked to perfection to order, that has been imitated the globe over by other restaurants. A burger so perfectly done you could shed a tear. What is in season reigns supreme, so you are assured the vegetables are going to be sublime. A hearty bowl of polenta, which seems so basic and simple, is quite possibly the most perfect comfort food. Until the heaping, overflowing bowl of shoestring potatoes is delivered to your table. Fish so fresh and cooked with fresh herbs you will dream about it later, I promise. All housed in a setting on Market Street where the large glass windows allows a bit of San Francisco to pass you by. If you find yourself in the Bay Area, a Zuni lunch or dinner on the agenda will be a highlight of your trip.

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Happy mid-week all! We arrived to Hawthorne last night. Look for Hudson Valley posts coming your way…



 

 

Stateside

20151104-045720.jpg About a week before we left for New York on this last visit, we had dinner with friends at Stateside here in Seattle. I completely spaced on writing about the extraordinary meal we had until I was looking through images last eve, so I thought I would share this with you all today. It all started about a year ago when we were hosting a book signing at the Home store for cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan. A gentleman, Eric Johnson, came to the signing to see her. He was just about to open Stateside. They had known each other when Eric was a chef in Paris, and had kept up over the years. Time passed quickly and we had yet to dine at his new spot, just a few blocks from The Gainsborough.

From the Stateside website:
With strong culinary ties to both France and China, the fresh flavors of Vietnam make perfect sense to Chef/Owner Eric Johnson. Eric recently returned to the States after more than a decade working and living abroad in Paris, Shanghai and Hong Kong. With family roots in the Pacific Northwest, his goal was to open a casual restaurant in Seattle that reflects his culinary experience abroad. “Both geographically and culinarily, Vietnam is a good central point for all of my experiences. It’s the natural meeting point of French and Chinese food. I feel like Vietnamese food borrows some of the best aspects of both cuisines, the fresh herbs and the acidity. And, of course, Vietnam has its own spectacular dishes. So we’re going to concentrate on Vietnamese food borrowing a bit from the natural partners of French and Chinese cuisine.”

We were blown away by the combination of flavors and loved every bite. We decided to dine family style between the 4 of us as everything sounded so good on the menu, that way we were all able to try a variety of dishes, which I highly recommend. So good!



 

 

The Whale Wins

20131127-075908.jpg Not really a Wine Wednesday entry, so I am coming up with a new concept for a post, Wine & Dine Wednesday. I love writing about swell meals we have had. They actually are one of the more discussed posts I get asked about from readers who are traveling and visiting Seattle. Which leads me to, please know, I only share places I really enjoy. I made up my mind very early on when beginning this blog that I wanted it to be positive, happy & upbeat. The world has so much negative/unhappy/sad stuff swirling about, why on earth would anyone want to write about, contribute or read more of the bad stuff. We have eaten at plenty of places that are good but not great, and even some not good at all. Those are the places I don’t share or write about. I hope that all makes sense. Just know if I write about it, we really liked it quite a bit.

Which leads me to, The Whale Wins. This has been on the top of our list since it opened, but for whatever reason, we had yet to try. TPS was given a birthday present of a meal there way back in May. Since we had birthday on the brain, we thought we would give it a go on Monday eve. Chef Renee Erickson, from Boat Street Cafe & The Walrus and the Carpenter fame, has once again put together a winner. Small and shared plates is the concept, so go ready to try lots of spectacular flavor combinations. The space is cool and inviting. The wine list, incredibly approachable.

We have carried her pickled products at the First Avenue shop since she began selling them. Renee is also a Watson Kennedy customer. It has been so much fun watching all of her successes over the years.

We went knowing it was going to be good. But it was really, really great. Ordering the Columbia City bread platter with a huge dollop of amazing butter is a must, for starters. The bread being the perfect tool for mopping up all those delicious sauces along the way. Here is what we had. Roasted delicata squash with beans, almonds, ricotta salata, mint and green tomato currant chutney. As well as roasted cauliflower, toasted coconut, mustard seeds, pickled cucumber with coconut vinaigrette. All amazing. Then Hama Hama roasted clams with romanesco, celery, fingerling potatoes and marjoram. Painted Hills marrow bones, Jacobsen sea salt, with a pickled shallot relish with capers and golden raisins. As well as Carlton Farms roasted pork shoulder with eggplant, chickpeas, rosemary & tarragon. All with a super tasty Bandol red I will write about in the coming weeks. It was all heaven. My only suggestion is to request things in the order you would like them. We ending up being brought the clams last, which seemed odd to us, but we should have specified we wanted them before the meat course. They were still awesome, even after that incredible pork shoulder and marrow. We ended sharing a brownie that is from her mother’s recipe, which rocked. Run, don’t walk, to The Whale Wins. Yum!

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