Baked Dungeness with Paprika & Garlic Butter

January 21, 2015 § 1 Comment

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Hello friends – I won’t apologize for my long silence, because I know you understand the predicament of desire vs. time when you’re a grown up. But today my desire to write and my free time have happily collided. So, let talk about Dungeness crab, quickly, before this precious window closes…

Winter in the Pacific Northwest has many well-documented downsides but the silver lining is pristine seafood. It took me a few years to catch on to this, but now I travel with an oyster knife in my Subaru’s dashboard – toujours prête. Local oysters are spectacular in the winter, and they can be bought for a song at quick marts in tidal communities, as long as you know how to spot a fresh oyster. Or, if you’re not a risk-taker, head to Mutual Fish on Rainier Avenue. They’ll sell you delicious oysters for half of what you’ll pay in a restaurant and happily give you a shucking lesson, I’m sure.  Oysters are a treat, but Dungeness crab is a winter dinner staple at our house. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to catch our own in Puget Sound, but Mutual or the grocery store is always stocked with cooked crab, and they’ll clean the suckers for you. This means you can walk out the store with your fully prepared dinner in a bag – serve the crab cold with a few simple sides and it’s faster than picking up a pizza.

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It’s still dark terribly, terribly early in the evening (afternoon, really) here in Seattle. That calls for a hot dinner – something in the oven that will fill the house with rich smells and drive the children into the kitchen asking what’s for dinner, when’s it ready, what’s for dinner again and again and again. « Read the rest of this entry »

Rhubarb Compote

May 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

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I wonder if I would get so excited about rhubarb if its season was in August, if it had to compete with luscious tomatoes and sweet, meaty melons?  It’s a much tougher sell than those later season jewels.  For one thing, you have to cook it.  And it’s tart as heck, so you have to dose it with sugar.  The leaves are poisonous, so those need to be tossed away.  As I write, I’m beginning to wonder who even considered rhubarb as an ingredient in the first place? It must have been a cook long long ago who had endured a horrible winter … When the spring thaw finally came that cook spied bright pink stalks radiating from the soil.  She was drawn to the rosy glow of the rhubarb plant and nibbled a leaf.  It tasted horrible and she felt ill.  Looking around for something else fresh to pick, she saw absolutely no other options. So, she returned to the rhubarb and broke off a stalk and chewed on it.  It was awful – tart and astringent.  Desperate for any fresh produce that wasn’t kale she brought the rhubarb into her kitchen, took down her sack of sugar and went to work… « Read the rest of this entry »

Spaghetti with a Fried Egg, English Peas & Arugula, Quick ‘n E-zee

May 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

  

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? For my family, it was definitely the egg.  We are the beneficiaries of friends’ and neighbors’ super-productive hens.  It seems like right now my urban farmer friends have more eggs than they know what to do with, so they put those eggs in my greedy little palms.  Each February I consider getting chickens, but by May I realize I can have many delicious eggs and no chickens at all.  I’m such a lucky freeloader!

I may have a hard time figuring out what to do with hard-boiled eggs, but super-fresh fried eggs fire me up.   They are magnificent on fried rice, smashing in a tortilla with some salsa & cilantro, and splendid on pasta.  My favorite egg/pasta combo used to be spaghetti carbonara, but that recently got bumped.  Now I think frying a small egg and laying it on top of pasta is perfect.  The runny yolk becomes a golden, silky sauce.  The texture of the crisped egg white  is lovely with bites of pasta.  This version is all about springtime, with English peas and arugula, but the dish will be easy to reinvent in the autumn with sturdy greens.  As long as the chickens are still laying, this will be at the top of my weeknight quick dinner hit list.  If you can manage to boil the pasta, cook the veggies and fry up the eggs simultaneously (and I know you can), dinner will be ready in a flash. Ka-pow!

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