Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

In the kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro with Lisa Dupar at PCC Cooks – Redmond, Washington

Posted on: Thursday 20 October 2011

My third trip to the Eastside in a week was for a cooking class with Lisa Dupar. In the kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro was held at PCC Redmond and I had the lovely company of Kimberly.

PCC Cooks is to the left of the entrance, a room with a gleaming modern kitchen and several rows of tables and chairs for attendees.

This was my first PCC Cooks class and I had registered on the day the autumn schedule was published a couple of months ago.

A Southern native who has been living in Seattle for three decades, Lisa Dupar is the owner of Lisa Dupar Catering and Pomegranate Bistro. She is an IACP Julia Child First Cookbook Award winner for ‘Fried Chicken & Champagne: A Romp Through the Kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro‘.

We were welcomed with a mug of warm mulled sangría, a spiced alcoholic beverage that evoked Christmas memories.

There were three cameras with three screens above the kitchen to view the demonstration.

Lisa was a delightful and successful woman with catering and restaurant stories to share. As she was making Jerry’s muffaletta mix, she told us about her children finally saying ‘I don’t like hairy fish’ after many pizzas with anchovies. Traditionally layered into a muffaletta with the bread soaking in the juices, Lisa served this with white corn tortilla chips. One of her cooks, Jerry from Louisiana, gave her a jar of the olive salad mix for Christmas one year and this was how she ate it!

On the bottom right of the screen is a simmering pot of aromatic chicken brine with blue agave syrup, bay leaves, garlic cloves, black peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, Italian parsley and lime zest.

Radiant in chef’s red, Lisa laughed about being ‘out of kitchen shape’. Her comment reminded me of the episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain returns to Les Halles as a line cook.

As Lisa added salt to the chicken brine, she explained she’s using natural salt. She recently attended a salt class with Mark Bitterman at The Meadow in Portland and was shocked to learn that kosher salt is a desiccant and a manufactured chemical. She has rid her 14,000 square feet commercial kitchen of kosher salt! 

Next on the menu was a Mexican chopped salad with chilli lime vinaigrette. As Lisa was blending the dressing, she explained that a neutral oil will absorb the seasoning. Many of the components in dressings are natural preservatives so can be refrigerated for at least a couple of weeks. She recommended ‘smelling everything you cook with’, especially liquids to avoid rancid oil.

Crunchy with diced apples, cucumber and jicama, and raw corn, the salad was vibrant and appetising. The recipe can be seasonally adjusted. For example, radish and pear would be autumn additions or substitutes.

As Lisa carved the blue agave lime roasted chickens, she reminisced on a staff trip to Quillisaskit Farm. She was candid about her chef’s guilt. She loves to cook but dislikes slaughtering animals. When she expressed her apprehension, the farmer asked her ‘are you the mechanic for your car?’

‘Cooks are like carpenters’, tools are personal and about the ‘hand feel’. Lisa was at an event with The Chef in the Hat, Thierry Rautureau, and he was asked about his favourite knife. His response was ‘a sharp one!’

Brightly coloured bell peppers were roasted and stuffed with black quinoa. As she was splitting the bell peppers and spooning black quinoa, the fennel in the stuffing returned Lisa to her time in Switzerland. She noticed Italian dishwashers munched on fennel for digestion as they worked.

A seasoning salt recipe is included in the booklet and Lisa purchases her spices from MarketSpice. She had inherited her grandmother’s spice rack, an anecdote on how our approach to food has changed since then!

The main course was roast chicken on warm tortilla, bell pepper stuffed with quinoa and Juan’s jasmine rice. The dishes are hearty and rustic, a representation of Southern comfort food.

Dessert was ginger molasses cookies sandwiched with Coconut Bliss. These cookies are so popular that they have been nicknamed ‘crack cookie’ but to her family, they’re ‘typo cookie’. There was a mistake for the flour measurement in the first edition of the cookbook and each copy was patiently corrected by hand with a Sharpie!

Lisa emphasised the importance of resting the dough. Each batch of flour is different and the protein has to be activated. As she scooped the batter and rolled the dough balls in cinnamon sugar, she happily recalled foraging for mushrooms with a friend. Chanterelles and morels haven’t been cultivated. She also mentioned catering for President Obama and the Secret Service chef being in the kitchen!

These cookies were indeed delicious, a lovely balance of spices and sweetness. The ice cream sandwich was pre-made and we sampled cookies out of the oven which were soft and gooey on the inside.

With a hint of Southern lilt, Lisa was charming and gracious. I look forward to a meal at Pomegranate Bistro soon!

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4 Responses to "In the kitchen at Pomegranate Bistro with Lisa Dupar at PCC Cooks – Redmond, Washington"

Thanks again for the invite – what a delicious evening that was! Let me know when you want to meet at Pomegranate – I would love to have lunch!
xx

It was a delicious evening indeed. Let’s try for before our November trips!

[…] salt renaissance. The owner of The Meadow and author of Salted hosted a dinner class at Lisa Dupar Catering a couple of weeks ago. At home we have small containers of Australian and English […]

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