Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Marrow Kitchen and My First Published Restaurant Review

We are pretty excited around here today. In the mail came two copies of the summer issue of a local publication: Showcase Magazine. In actual published print is a page in the magazine with our restaurant review of one of our favorite local restaurants; Marrow Kitchen & Bar. 

Can you say, "CRAZY?" Well we can. We can't count how many times that we have read a great restaurant review in  Food & Wine or watched Anthony Bourdain and said, "Wow, now that's a gig, how do you get that gig?"

All that being said our silly little blog here has no false pretensions of being worthy of either Food & Wine or Anthony Bourdain of No Reservations. But we did start it with the idea of sharing great meals and documenting our thoughts on them. Having them really published, in actual print was so far from what we ever imagined. 

How did this happen? You know the story, somebody knew somebody, who knew my sister who is a huge supporter of our blog and foodie lifestyle. One thing led to another that led to Robin from Showcase Magazine following our blog and which prompted her to contact us to see if we could work together. I explained I'm not a writer and truly most ashamed being a masters level educational leader writing at a 4th grade level...none the less they still wanted us to do this review. 

And we were more than over joyed to take the new challenge on.

We had a great dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants on Showcase Media's dime but our thoughts and opinions are 100% our own. 

To read our review follow the link to Showcase Media's page:

To check out Marrow your self follow the link to their website:
the restaurant.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Hot & Spicy June Supper Club

Finally, June is here and we've even had some nice June like weather lately. The only thing making it even better is school is also out. With school out we were excited to host our last summer club gathering before our regularly planned summer hiatus. 

Our house is considerably smaller than all of the other couples so we love when we can have them all over and spread out on the patio when we host.

We all gathered together on this warm evening with the patio heater prepared to help keep us warm once the sun went down to indulge in some "hot & spicy" dishes. 

We couldn't really count on the weather fully cooperating when we put the theme out there initially and we knew we wanted to be outside so we went with a hot & spicy theme to keep us warm regardless of  the weather. Even Sally Porkchop was welcome at the party.

We started with some not so pretty to look at Grilled Smoke Gouda and Chorizo Stuffed Jalapeños. 

Yeah, they were pretty spicy. But also very tasty. We love to make grilled stuffed jalapeños although we usually stuff them with a crab mixture. The chorizo was a bit meatier but also quite delicious.

Next, we moved on to the main dishes and the heat continued to not disappoint.

G & I made two different versions of hot wings. G's versions a more traditional Buffalo style hot wing.

And I made my favorite more Asian inspired sriracha spiced wing.

We served them with spicy sweet potato fries.

Jeff (representing both Jeff & Kris who was sadly under the weather) brought both a beautifully colorful sliced pepper salad with dill

as well as some spicy cheddar biscuits that perfectly balanced the meal.

We all agreed we'd need to be taking our over the counter heart burn medicine  before turning in for the evening. But we also agreed although spicy the spice was well balanced and didn't overpower any of the taste.

We ended our enjoyable evening on the patio with Jenni & Arnie's absolutely scrumptious chocolate cake topped with some yummy ripe strawberries and a spicy glaze. 

Oh, so good. My palate was pleasantly happy with each course of our meal.

Our June supper club gathering has become G & I's official indicator that summer vacation is quickly coming. Meaning we LOVE June supper club. 
And we always love coming back together to share food with our dear friends when September rolls back around. 

Happy Summer to you too!


Grilled Spicy Sriracha Honey Wings
5 #'s chicken wings & drummettes, cleaned
2 Tblspns canola oil
4 Tblspns Sriracha Sauce
2 Tblspns honey
2 Tblspns butter, melted
1 Tblspn soy sauce
2 Tblspns finely chopped cilantro
3 Tblspns toasted sesame seeds 
Salt & black pepper to taste

Whisk together Sriracha sauce, honey, butter, soy sauce and cilantro. Taste to check heat level. If sauce is too spicy add honey, set aside.

Heat grill to 375 degrees. Wipe grill well with canola oil. Grill chicken wings until cooked through with grillmarks. When done toss wings in sauce. Put on platter sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

GCC: Maryland Crabcake Sliders with Yum-Yum Sauce

One thing we love to both order out and make at home is crab cakes. Crab cakes are one of those restaurant dishes that we often judge a restaurant by. We've had some great ones and we've had some horrible versions. 

To be on the great list we need them to be full of dungeness crab, not full of filler and with good flavor and a little crunch from veggies is also helpful.

This week when Steph from Orangespoken challenged us to make Maryland Crab Cakes for  our Gutsy Cooks Club assignment we were happy to indulge yet again.

We decided to change it up just a bit. First, by omitting Old Bay seasoning. Just plain don't like it. 

Second, adding chopped red pepper and red onion and subbing cilantro for the parsley. When G makes them he always uses red pepper, red onion and cilantro and I love them like that. 

Third, we decided we would make them into sliders with some Yum-Yum sauce and Sriracha slaw.

Having crab cake sliders were a first for us. 

Overall, they were fine but to be honest the Hawaiian buns we served them on were a bit sweet and with the richness of the crab cake it was just a bit too sweet and rich together.

But we gave it a try, we'll most definitely go back to making them sans bun as we usually do.

Maryland Crab Cakes (adapted from Once Upon a Chef)
1 large egg
2½ tablespoons mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Johnny's seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely diced celery 
1/4 cup finely diced red pepper
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 pound lump crab meat*
½ cup panko
Canola oil
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Johnny's, salt, celery, red pepper, red onion, and cilantro in a large bowl and mix well. Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard and sharp cartilage) and panko; gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat. Shape into 6 crab cakes (about ½ cup each) and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat a large nonstick pan to medium heat and coat with canola oil. When oil is hot, place crab cakes in pan and cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per side. 

Sriracha Slaw
2 Tblspns sriracha
2 Tblspns chopped cilantro
2 Tblspns cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 tspn sea sal
2 cups packaged slaw mix
Mix together sriracha, cilantro, vinegar and mayo until well mixed. Add dressing mixture to slaw mix and add salt. Cover with saran wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yum-Yum Sauce
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, white sugar, rice vinegar, melted butter, paprika and garlic powder.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Local Washington Strawberries

Look what we finally found at the Farmer's Market yesterday:

Local Washington Strawberries. I mean thank goodness we can pretty much get strawberries all year round here. But they are from Mexico, California or who knows where else which means they are never close to being picked straight from the bush and into our mouths. We really look forward to having them available from our local farms. But it's always a short window of time that we can find them.

These berries were picked 2 days ago and they taste amazingly sweet. They are so, so good. But that being said being picked fully ripe they really don't last long. Like a few days at the most.

But here's the thing we just had to buy a 1/2 flat because they looked and tasted so, so good. And it's only G & I and Sally Porkchop, who can't taste the delicious berries. So this is a lot of strawberries for us to eat in 2 days.

We need some help, what are we going to do with all of these strawberries? What do you do with fresh strawberries? Any ideas out there? We'd love to have your comment and tell us what you would do with a half flat of fresh local strawberries?

We can't wait to hear your ideas.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cedar Planked Copper River Salmon with Strawberry Basil Gastrique

This week for Gutsy Cooks Club Steph from Orangespoken was hankering to cook some salmon on a piece of cedar. And we were pretty happy to oblige in this hankering of hers. As foreign as that might sound to some folks, around here in the Pacific Northwest it is quite common. I am pretty sure even Lewis & Clark probably indulged in salmon prepared in this fashion during their travels here. 

Essentially you cook salmon directly on top of a piece of a cedar plank. 

Cooking it this way infuses that fantastic smoky flavor into the deep, rich fatty 
flesh of the salmon. 

And speaking of fatty. It's also perfect timing on Steph's part because the most wonderfully, fatty, delicious salmon; Copper River, is still in town flown directly from Alaska.

Now if you are not a serious salmon fan we would never recommend indulging in this "way over priced" variety of salmon. And at something like $34.99 a pound it is a salmon price gouging conspiracy. But we do love salmon, we eat a lot of a  fresh, only wild caught salmon and we do usually splurge at least once or twice a year in this  special variety when it's available. The window of availability is typically short.  But what makes Copper River so worth splurging on is how thick, fatty and deeply red it is. The Copper River Delta is evidently incredibly cold which makes the salmon have extra fat to survive. And extra fat always tastes better. 

It's important when cooking on a cedar plank to make sure you adequately soak your plank ahead of time to detour it catching on fire on the grill. Since we did this on weeknight we didn't soak our board as long as usual and our board did flare up a bit but we saved it. We simply rubbed our salmon with our favorite Tom  Douglas' Salmon Rub with Love made with smoked paprika, thyme and brown sugar. It's really all good salmon needs to taste delicious but since this is Gutsy Cooks Club I figured I better go beyond just a good rub on the salmon. 

So when I was thumbing through Stephanie Izard's Girl in the Kitchen Cookbook I came across a recipe for Fried Cheese with Spring Veggies and a Strawberry Gastrique (reduction) that I thought would taste pretty good over our perfectly smoked planked salmon.

I had never made a Gastrique before but they always make them on Top Chef and sound so complicated. But really a gastrique, we learned, is just a reduction of fruit, sugar and vinegar. Pretty simple actually. After boiling and reducing the sauce you strain out the solids and voila  you have a gastrique.

Our Copper Salmon indulging is also a pretty simple tradition. Copper River purchased at our local Metropolitan Market, cooked outside on the grill, sometimes on a cedar plank, sometimes directly on the grill but also eaten outside on the patio served with a nice Oregon Pinot Noir. Always! Or at least for the past 15 years.

And again perfect timing since we are fresh off of stocking up the cellar from our Oregon Wine weekend over Memorial Day. 

For this occasion we went with a new winery to us from Oregon called Maysara not only do they make beautiful pinots they also have a great story and a beautiful facility for making and tasting wine. 

Honestly, pinot noir is not really a fav varietal for us anymore but there is nothing better served with salmon and this one was exceptionally earthy and complemented the smoky flavor that the cedar brought to the dish just right.

The salmon was perfect! And the strawberry basil gastrique brought the right amount of sweet and sour to balance the richness and smokiness of the salmon. It was a fantastic indulgence. We thank Steph for a reason to make our 2013 version of our tradition happen.


Cedar Planked Copper River Salmon with Strawberry Basil Gastrique
1 lb. fresh Copper River salmon filet
2 tablespoons Salmon Rub with Love
1 piece of well soaked cedar plank

Strawberry Basil Gastrique
1 C white balsamic vinegar
1 C sliced fresh strawberries + 1/2 C additional sliced for top of salmon
1/2 C packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C fresh lemon juice

1 C baby fresh pinach leaves

Soak cedar plank in water for 2-3 hours until thoroughly saturated. Combine vinegar, strawberries, basil, sugar and lemon juice in a medium sauce pan. Bring them to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer to reduce the liquid by half, 25-30 minutes. Strain, discarding the solids and let the liquid cool.

Heat grill to 375 degrees. Brush salmon lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Rub salmon flesh with the rub. Place salmon skin side down on the cedar plank. Place plank directly on grill. Cook salmon until done to your liking, we like our salmon a bit on the rare side. So we cooked our thick piece for approximately 15 minutes until it only had a slight give when we pushed it with our finger.

Serve salmon over spinach leaves dressed with a bit of the gastrique. Place salmon on top of the spinach. Add some sliced strawberries and basil on top of salmon. Drizzle salmon with strawberry basil reduction/gastrique. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wine Tasting: Willamette Valley, Oregon

Over Memorial Day weekend we took a long overdue 4 day weekend away with some friends wine tasting in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

This trip with these friends used to be a yearly tradition over Thanksgiving weekend but somehow that holiday has gotten more complicated the past few years and we just haven't been able to pull it off. So we were actually thrilled that given both of our busy couple lives we were actually able to pull it together for the 4 day Memorial day weekend. The 4 of us along with 3 dogs it was a real get away.

2009 Freezing in Glacier National Park
During our weekend we had some to time to remember some of our previous Memorial Day and other get aways from the past 15 years. Two especially memorable ones came to mind. One was Memorial day weekend 2006. We took our boat and their dog over for a 4 day Memorial Day camping weekend in Eastern Washington chasing the sun. It became memorable for two distinct reasons. 1) It poured, literally wind blowing, sideways rain poured most of the 4 days. 2) On day two I slipped and ended up enduring a spiral fracture of the left ankle. Good times! Then there was our 2009 Summer vacation to Glacier National Park in Montana. It rained every night we camped in tents, the days were nice but at night it poured. We spent 4 nights playing endless UNO and drinking some great red wines.

This Memorial Day weekend proved to bring our familiar rain curse along for the trip again. This time our friends hauled us all down in the "Cabin" their recently purchased cute pop-out RV. After we got settled at the Wine Country RV park we headed out to our first stop for wine tasting.

We started just outside of McMinnville at Maysara which ended up being my favorite new find in the Willamette Valley on this trip. Found on a beautiful property in a HUGE beautiful rock building. They actually ended up being closed on Friday to prepare for their big events on Saturday & Sunday. But the tasting room manager kindly opened the tasting room for us for a private tasting. Which worked out great because we met up with another couple there. It was very nice and wow, I love their wines and story of becoming Oregon wine makers as immigrants from Iran. 

Meadow, Mac & Sally Porkchop at Panther Creek Cellars
From here we headed to Yamhill Valley Vineyards where we picked up the steal of a deal for the trip. A case of Chenin Blanc for $60. We then hit town and went to Panther Creek Cellars which G & I had been to 13 years earlier while searching the Willamette for wines to serve at our wedding. They were as great as we remembered, they even let us bring in the pups. As you can see the pups took full advantage of their hospitality by getting a bit rough in their play. 

From here we hit a few other not as memorable tasting rooms (R. Stuart, Terra Vina) in downtown McMinnville and then had a yummy dinner at a great little Tapas restaurant La Rambla .

Day two started with a favorite that the 4 of us had visited  together during our last trip down to Willamette; Sole'na Cellars. Sole'na just plain makes great wine and they have a beautiful new facility outside of the town of Carlton. 

Solena Winery

The wine maker was doing a great futures thieve tasting in the cellar. So our experience was pretty cool. So much so that G decided we needed to join yet another wine club.

From there we went to one of my favorite little Oregon wine towns Carlton. 
Meadow & Mac outside of Tyrus Evan Tasting Room
We walked town with the pups bringing them in to the places that allowed it and hung outside at places that didn't. 
A private, unexpected wine making tour at Laurelridge Winery

We visited K&M Cellars, Troon and Scott Paul along the way. 

It was a great kind of leisurely wine tasting day that ended with some tasty pulled pork sandwiches that we picked up at a food truck in Dundee.

The view from the Sineann wine tasting room
On Sunday, our last day of tasting we started at Sineann which was super crowded and almost claustrophobic feeling. But had some great BIG reds. 

From here we went to August Cellars which had several guest wineries tasting and a fantastic chocolatier with some scrumptious chocolates.

Up next was another favorite winery of ours that G&I first found on our wedding wine hunt weekend to Willamette Valley, Sokol Blosser. 

They have a beautiful property and were having a big shin-dig as well. 

And Sally P loved the smell of the farm.

Our last stop of the trip was to Zerba who also make some phenomenal wines. It was a great trip. We woke up Monday to a torrential downpour of course but it didn't dampen our experience, we had a good time doing what we love to do in a beautiful valley. 

Even the pup had a great weekend in wine country.

If haven't been wine tasting in the Willamette Valley it's a recommended trip. We couldn't get over how many more wineries are there now just since the few year hiatus that we'd been away. It's not Napa or even Sonoma but it's a wine lovers must visit just the same.