Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘crab cake

I attended the annual Tom Douglas Cookbook Social held at the Palace Ballroom yesterday.

Christmas carols were playing and it was a convivial atmosphere. A food lover’s mistletoe, cookbooks tied with ribbon bows dangled from the ceiling.

Authors were dispersed around the room, their stalls laden with cookbooks and samples.

Cute CakeSpy illustrations greeted patrons. Love hearts and unicorns!

Jessie Oleson was as sweet as her treats! Her book is titled CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life. On a bejewelled three tiered cake stand were rainbow cookies and cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

Whimsically decorated cupcakes baked in ice cream cones.

CakeSpy designed greeting cards.

Next was Amy Pennington, ‘go go green gardener’, and author of Apartment Gardening and Urban Pantry.

Kibbeh, a Middle Eastern meatball of bulgur and minced meat, was a nutty appetiser.

Opposite Amy was Tom Douglas, author of Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, Tom’s Big Dinners and I Love Crab Cakes.

Scallop sized and golden, the Etta’s crab cake was a delectable morsel.

Tom was carving roast chickens rubbed with Chinese 12 Spice Rub.

The pieces of chicken were tender and juicy with a crisp skin.

Further along was Ethan Stowell, author of New Italian Kitchen.

A simmering pot of Mediterranean mussel soup with chickpea, fennel and lemon was spooned into little cups. It was a soothing combination of ingredients, perfect for a cold day.

At the back of Palace Ballroom was Cast Iron Skillet Big Flavours by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne.

Served in cupcake liners, the Dungeness crab and roasted poblano hushpuppies were cooked in an æbleskiver (Danish pancakes) maker.

Adjacent was Dining in Seattle cookbooks. The original volume was first published in 1977 and Past and Present is a compilation of recipes and menus celebrating Seattle restaurants then and now.

On the left of Dining in Seattle was Greg Atkinson, author of At the Kitchen Table.

Greg had trays of Yuletide cookies of faux-reos (fake Oreos), lime and pecan snowballs, turbinado sugar leaves, cocoa nib chocolate truffles and almond macaroons.

I zigzagged to Kurt Timmermeister, author of Growing a Farmer and owner of Kurtwood Farms.

Kurt was cutting wedges of Dinah’s Cheese, a creamy Camembert style cheese with a complex flavour profile.

A tower of glazed, frosted, dusted and sprinkled doughnuts was at the Top Pot table.

Becky Selengut, author of Good Fish, had a creative display with a fishing rod and tinned fish boxes on the hook.

I munched on dad’s sardines, gin drunk currants and caramelised onions on a cracker while calculating my guess for the number of Goldfish Crackers in the jar.

I was curious about the striped and cubed jellies. They were from The Seasonal Cocktail Companion by Maggie Savarino.

The Kit Kat shaped jelly shot was cherry daisy and the cube was Earl Grey infused gin. The wobbly orange square was an intense burst of bergamot.

A stack of books and an ice bucket of sparkling mineral water were manned by Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters.

He brought six home made bottles of bitters for tasting. A splash of sparkling mineral water and a couple of drops of bitters was a refreshing beverage.

And finally, Lisa Dupar had a lovely arrangement for Fried Chicken and Champagne.

The mini sausage corn dogs reminded me of the Easter Show in Sydney. Crumbly and meaty, the corn dog dipped in mustard sauce was scrumptious party food.

I was delighted to spot the ginger molasses sandwich cookies. The spiced sugary discs were the essence of the festive season.

The Palace Ballroom buzzed with energy and we were all there to support our local cookbook authors!

I consider Seinfeld the seminal sitcom of my generation. I have much affection for the flawed characters and how they navigate the minutiae of life. Jerry Seinfeld has toured Australia a couple of times but I deemed the tickets too expensive. I was very happy when I found out he would be in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre at an affordable price. This was the first show we’ve attended since we moved here and I really miss live comedy and theatre.

Conveniently located near the Paramount Theatre, we had reserved a table at Blueacre Seafood for pre-show dinner. I have tasty memories of the food at the Barton Seaver event several months ago and was looking forward to our meal.

There was an enticing three courses for thirty dollars Harvest Moon special but we resisted the prix fixe and opted for the seasonal à la carte menu.

A curved oyster bar is at the front, the main dining room is elevated by a couple of steps and wooden panels divide the space. Tinted glass panes filter the view into the large kitchen and tinged the booths a royal blue.

I spotted both owners, Chef Kevin Davis was in the kitchen and General Manager Teressa Davis was on the floor.

There are some similarities between Blueacre and its sister restaurant, Steelhead Diner. Complimentary bread is served with triangles of seasoned butter and the crockery is branded with the logo. The butter was dressed with a squeeze of lemon and a dusting of salt, an appetising contrast.

We had fun designing combinations from the extensive menu. Mr S ordered a cup of duck and andouille gumbo for his first course. The small container was full of sliced sausage and duck pieces, the spiciness absorbed by a scattering of rice.

I chose the jumbo lump Dungeness crab cake. A deconstructed crab cake, the tender chunks of meat is pressed into shape with no binding agent. A squiggle of mustard lime sauce and topped with mirliton salad, it was homage to the sweet Dungeness crab.

Mr S selected the Hawaiian tuna for his main course. Thick medallions of peppercorn crusted and seared rare fish was paired with whipped potatoes, frizzled leeks and sauce au poivre. The sharpness of the crushed peppercorns was tempered by the pepper sauce soaked starch.

I had the Totten Inlet mussels in green curry of coconut milk, grilled lime, ginger and chilli. The aromatic broth was soothing and light, and the mussels were fresh and plump.

We shared a side of fried sweet corn. I renewed my love for corn with this dish. The juicy kernels were lightly charred and coated in butter, espelette and sea salt.

We concluded with German chocolate cake with black walnut ice cream and cocoa soil. The layered chocolate cake was glossy and dense, textured with shredded coconut and chopped walnuts.

Jerry Seinfeld was entertaining and it was invigorating to laugh at his vignettes of coffee, marriage and food!

I attended a Keren Brown Seattle food blogger event several weeks ago with Chef Barton Seaver, author of the new cookbook For Cod and Country. Graciously hosted by owners Kevin and Terresa Davis at Blueacre Seafood restaurant, it was an evening of eating, networking and learning.

Blueacre Seafood is the sister restaurant of Steelhead Diner at Pike Place Market. Terresa greeted me and she recognised my Australian accent. The Davises are expat Aussies from Adelaide and have been living in America for two decades. She introduced me to Barton Seaver and we chatted briefly as wines were poured.

Platters of food were placed on the buffet table as groups mingled and balanced plates of delectable seafood and glasses of wine.

Clockwise from top: natural oyster, smoked salmon on rye, salmon roe and crème fraiche fritter, poached salmon salad, fried calamari, baked scallop, and shredded and sautéed vegetables. The highlights of this plate were the fresh and briny oyster, and the crispy calamari. A lovely crust formed over the shell hiding a plump scallop, although the bread crumb mixture was a little spicy.

Clockwise from top: oyster shell, crab cake, pork belly pie, fried quail with biscuit and gravy, and scallop shell. I would return to Blueacre just to eat these. The crab cake was overflowing with chunks of sweet crab meat, the petite sized pork belly pie was rich and moreish, and the quail leg was tender and well seasoned.

Hunger sated, we were seated for Barton’s speech. Kevin and Terresa commented that for Seattleites ‘the path to the future is to take care of the Pacific Northwest’ and this philosophy informs the cooking at their restaurants.

Jon Rowley, an inductee of the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, introduced National Geographic Fellow, Barton Seaver. Jon described Barton as an advocate of seafood sustainability, an effective spokesperson and a recipient of the Seafood Choices Alliance Seafood Champion award.

A charming and enigmatic man, Barton spoke with passion and conviction. He asked us to ‘listen as a witness, not as an expert’. With intrepid cooks as parents, Barton had an intimate relationship with food growing up. His parents cultivated his respect for food and his understanding of where food comes from.

The ‘guiding hand in natural selection is the chef’ – there is a dichotomy in the burden to destroy and the responsibility to restore. In his work with National Geographic, ‘food is the common lens of exploration’. Barton made the bold statement that our world today is about ‘making sense of the knowledge we already have and not about new discoveries … the next great leap in evolution is from civilised to humanised’.

He cited examples from Peru and Switzerland to support this. In Peru, anchovies (anchovetas) were transformed from by-products to being sold for human consumption. In Switzerland, creative use of a geothermal spring was attributed to the economic resurgence of a hamlet with greenhouses producing bananas and other tropical fruits, and a Siberian sturgeon caviar farm. These stories are about better utilisation and nourishing of existing resources and not finding new ones.

Barton has a different approach to environmentalism and sustainability. The current narrative is focused on healing our wounded planet and how ecosystems are impacted by our footprint. He believes it should be the opposite – nature is not in peril but our reality in nature is at risk. He is a proponent of responsible consumption, a restorative dialogue is needed on not just what we use but how we use it. He mentioned the biblical loaves and fishes miracle as an allegory of taking only what we need and sharing the leftover.

Barton concluded that the ‘long arm of the industrial revolution is deconstructed organism’ where the human element is removed from food.

Sterling Epicure generously gifted each attendee with a copy of For Cod and Country. In his introduction ‘Delicious is the New Environmentalism’, Barton quotes John Hersey - ‘in our quest for food we begin to find our place within the systems of the world’. This encapsulates Barton’s belief in responsible and restorative consumption.

The cookbook is divided into seasons and there are sections on techniques and pantry staples such as spice rubs, marinades, sauces and dressings. There are some non-seafood recipes and a chapter on the seafood showcased in the cookbook. Flicking through the pages, the recipes are relatively simple and most have a short list of ingredients. They’re designed to let the freshness and flavours of the seafood shine.

Sincerely thanks to Keren Brown for organising, Kevin and Terresa Davis at Blueacre for hosting and Barton Seaver for sharing.


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