Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘mozzarella

Summer is finally here in Seattle! We celebrate the long days of glorious sunshine by being outdoors from dawn to dusk on weekends, the city thriving with activities. There are festivals day and night, and restaurants have oiled the decks, hosed the patios and swept the courtyards for al fresco dining.

I love city parks, urban oases of fresh air, mowed lawns and pruned trees. Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill is a compact version of this. At its heart is the Seattle Asian Art Museum and at the top edge is the Volunteer Park Conservatory. We strolled through the serene greens to Volunteer Park Café for lunch.

I had sampled chef Erika Burke’s fare at Keren’s book launch party and Foodportunity, and was curious about the controversial eatery. Located a couple of blocks east of the park on a leafy street, Volunteer Park Café is in a century old building. Rusty azure chairs contrasted with the creamy yellow timber.

There are three sets of tables and chairs on the sidewalk, the one in the blazing sun is conspicuously vacant.

A blackboard easel listed daily specials.

Breakfast and lunch items were listed on three walled blackboards. Staff were frantically assembling sandwiches as we queued to order.

Discs of golden cookies in tin buckets, their flavours stamped on placards, were visual lures.

The centrepiece of the cosy space is the communal table. We pirouetted to sit by the window. It was a warm day, and the enclosed room was sweltering and amplified the cacophony of the crowd.

Layers of pastrami and caraway sauerkraut were accessorised with Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. The thick rye bread was gently toasted. It was a moist and tender café Rueben, the tangy fermented cabbage moderated the savoury meat.

Steadied by a bamboo toothpick, the prosciutto and mozzarella baguette was a chewy delight. Peppery arugula, sweet fig balsamic, buttery prosciutto and milky mozzarella were a splendid combination.

We exited quickly and took our parcel of chocolate chip cookie and cinnamon swirl coffee cake back to the park, and shared dessert in quiet contentment.

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Our home in Sydney had a small L shaped garden in the courtyard. The previous owners had planted tropical specimens that were coarse and prickly and it took many hours to dig out all the roots. We replaced the grotesque fluorescent plants with evergreen hedges and Japanese maple trees.

We had terracotta pots of herbs and vegetables which yielded produce sporadically. We had a stubborn lettuce that was determined to grow up so all we had were stalks and no leaves. The singular chilli we patiently cultivated was pecked at and spat out by a bird. But we did have an abundance of basil. My only gardening skill is watering. I was excellent at that!

It is ironic that I cannot garden but I’m interested in learning about farming. Last week Dev Patel returned from Prosser Farm for an evening at Dahlia Workshop to showcase seasonal harvests.

Kimberly and I chatted in an empty Serious Biscuit prior to class, recently rebranded to reflect its menu.

The workshop is the bakery for all the Tom Douglas restaurants. Serious Pie Westlake is on the mezzanine level with a view over the commercial kitchen.

We were greeted with a rhubarb lemonade in a mason jar. Macerated rhubarb was strained and mixed with lemonade, a refreshingly tart beverage.

Our snacks were courtesy of Serious Pie. Buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce and fresh basil, and Penn Cove clams, pancetta and lemon thyme pizzas sated our hunger.

A stack of recipe cards were tied in a bow.

A cardboard tray of Prosser Farm vegetables had asparagus, oregano, Chinese cabbage and mustard green seedlings.

We gathered around Dev as he and chatted chatted with us about farming in Prosser.

We tasted a trio of greens. Clockwise from top: baby mustard greens, mustard greens and Chinese cabbage. The peppery red mustard greens contrasted with the grassy green variety.

An orange coriander vinaigrette was in a spray bottle. A spritz of the citrusy dressing on the red mustard green leaves alleviated the spiciness.

Dev peeled stalks of rhubarb with a paring knife which he reserved for colouring. The yoghurt and asparagus are from their neighbours. There are no asparagus on Prosser Farm as it requires space and takes three to four years for the crops to develop. The sheep milk yoghurt is from Mercer Sheep.

Thick and creamy, the piquant yoghurt balanced the mellow sweetness of the poached rhubarb. Tossed with crunchy asparagus spears, crisp green leaves and slivered almonds, it was a unique salad.

Dev foraged a handful of devil’s club for us to nibble on. There were murmurs as we considered the flavour. It was herbal, like juniper berries in gin. These can be eaten raw in salads or pickled.

Green garlic is straight and garlic scapes are curved. The former is young garlic and the latter are the stalks of garlic. Both have mild, dulcet notes that differentiate them from the pungency of garlic cloves.

These curious curls are fiddlehead ferns. The fronds have to be carefully cleaned, and can be blanched or seared.

We were surprised with chorizo made by former Harvest Vine chef Joseba Jimenez and they were smoky paprika morsels.

Dev explained that hard boiled just laid eggs are difficult to peel. The egg whites thicken after three days.

Coddled in 145 °F water for 35 minutes, the glossy eggs were gently cracked into individual bowls and briefly warmed.

Dev sautéed kale and green garlic, and spinach was wilted in stock.

The greens were puréed.

And simmered with brown butter, and cooled in an ice bath.

Mushroom slides and A ladle of green garlic broth were topped with a coddled egg. Luscious and healthy, the broth was the definition of spring.

Currently Prosser Farm is supplying 300 pounds of food to the Tom Douglas restaurants per week. It will peak at 1000 pounds in summer. There are quince, fig and peach trees on the property. Last year the restaurants did not have to purchase any tomatoes and only had to supplement lettuces. Next will be eggplant and peppers.

Dev answered all our questions with aplomb and recommended rhubarb leaves as rain shields!

Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of GreenRubino. This is not a sponsored post.

I had had lunch at Pop Kitchen + Bar prior to going home to Australia in November. I returned yesterday to sample their happy hour fare courtesy of GreenRubino. An afternoon downpour was looming and I was glad to be indoors. Located in the Experienced Music Project Museum, Pop Kitchen + Bar has changed management since it opened and it is now operated by Wolfgang Puck.

A signature textured metallic crumble, the café has a spectacular view of the Frank Gehry designed EMP.

The interior is modern with white benches and lemon chairs.

Screens looped music videos above the bar. A generous glass of Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon was smooth and fruity.

Vases of daisies in vibrant hues decorated the buffet table.

Layered into a plastic container, the Chinese chicken salad was spiked with a pair of chopsticks. Mixed greens were tossed with shredded chicken, pickled ginger, coriander and shards of crispy wonton skins.

My favourite item on the happy hour menu was the spring salad of mixed greens, sliced strawberries, shaved Manchego and candied walnuts. A piquant vinaigrette was tempered by the sweetness of the fruit and nut.

A fluffy flatbread was topped with mandolined potatoes, cubes of pancetta and dotted with ricotta and Pecorino. I also nibbled on a wedge of cheese pizza of molten mozzarella, Gouda, chèvre and Parmesan.

A healthy vegan option, the cute slider was skewered by a cherry tomato and stacked with a white bean and quinoa patty.

Dessert was ginger molasses and chocolate chip cookies. The ginger molasses cookie had a rich caramelised flavour and the chocolate chip cookie was delightfully chewy.

I left with a gift box which I had guessed were cookies but was surprised by half a dozen macarons.

I had one of each flavour for supper!

This is my third post on pizza in three weeks! Ballard Pizza Company is the first of Ethan Stowell‘s Grubb Brothers ‘production’ of casual eateries. After cocktails (a refreshing Inverness mule of Scotch, ginger beer and fresh lime juice) and Mackie’s potato crisps at MacLeod’s Scottish Pub, we joined the Saturday night queue at Ballard Pizza Company. Our group of four gathered at the communal bench and bopped to 80s and 90s hip hop as we ate.

I returned during the week for lunch with Shirley. A gargantuan wheel cutter was a beacon for pizza lovers. Painted pewter, a glass paned garage door rolls up on those beloved Seattle summer days. Play That Funky Music greeted us.

A New York style pizzeria, Ballard Pizza Company sells ‘fat slices’ and ‘whole pies’. Pasta and gnocchi were carb alternatives, and salads and soups were lighter meals. There were eight beers on tap with a flat price for pints and pitchers. Wine on tap was noted as ‘coming soon’.

Staff was rhythmically stretching dough on enormous wooden paddles. A cheese pie is the base and you can add any toppings priced per item.

A daily stromboli special had salami, asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes.

There were six pizzas sold by the slice: cheese, pepperoni, ham and pineapple, tomato and rapini, sausage and mushroom, and broccoli and garlic confit.

We ordered and paid at the counter, and had the pizzeria to ourselves for several minutes. Timber and brick were the requisite rustic material on the walls, roof, chairs and tables.

Each table had three shaker jars of chilli flakes, dried oregano and grated Parmesan.

We shared slices of tomato and rapini, mushroom and sausage, and broccoli and garlic confit. The thin crust was a little firm with an even char. Bitter greens and juicy tomatoes were an appetising combination.

Florets of broccoli were interspersed with cloves of garlic confit. The garlic was sweet and mellow, and I would have been happy with just the caramel coloured morsels and mozzarella. The sausage and mushroom was a highlight. Peppered with Italian sausage and crimini mushrooms, the slice was spicy and meaty.

Ballard Pizza Company will be popular with the late night crowd!

It was a blissful afternoon of shopping in Portland. Alder & Co., Canoe, Flora, Hive and Woonwinkel were a modern collection of stores with curated homeware, jewellery, artworks and furniture. The contemporary aesthetics and stylish designs were stimulating! We re-caffeinated at Caffe Allora and joined the queue at Ken’s Artisan Pizza for dinner.

We were seemingly banished to wait at the back of the restaurant in the Bermuda Triangle of the dishwashing nook, an iron rack of logs for the wood fire oven and the bathrooms. I was surprised by a sprig of eucalyptus flower, leaves and gumnut at our table. I admired the vibrant hue as we sipped wine and whiled away two hours.

The wood fire oven is at the front of the restaurant where all the pizzas were made.

Paola‘s family serendipitously arrived as we were seated. It was nearly nine o’clock on a Friday night and Ken’s was buzzing.

Myra recommended the wood oven roasted vegetable plate. We ordered quickly as we were hungry and two of us were returning to Seattle afterwards. Clockwise from top right: carrots, chard, porcini and Asiago Vecchio; white runner beans, artichokes and tomato sauce; and polenta, kale, red pepper, almonds and chilli sauce. Tender and mellow, it was a requisite serving of vegetables.

We shared three pizzas. Ken’s crust was puffed and charred, a chewy dough that was sturdy support for the pizza toppings. The fennel sausage, onion, tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and hot Calabrian chilli pizza was spicy and bold.

I’m ambivalent to bacon but the guanciale pizza was a crispy homage to cured meat.

Last was my beloved prosciutto with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Generous ruffles of prosciutto di San Daniele were unctuous and sweet.

A creamy chocolate custard concluded our day in Portland. Paired with a quenelle of cream and studded with hazelnut crunch, the terracotta bowl was emptied with the assistance of an adorable mademoiselle!

Portland, we will return!

I’m an expert at booking tickets. I note the on sale details on my calendar and I’m on the website at the precise time to click ‘purchase’. Thanks to this quirk I have learnt to brine and roast chicken, knead and throw pizza dough, bake macarons, and pleat dumplings at The Pantry at Delancey.

Co-owners Brandi and Olaiya send a remainder email several days before the cooking class and the one for macarons recommended dinner prior. It was the perfect opportunity to dine at Delancey!

On a residential street in Ballard adjacent to Honoré Artisan Bakery, Delancey occupies two simply decorated rooms.

I was seated at the counter with a view of the custom made wood fire oven.

A row of lights above the counter were inverted cylindrical Weck jars.

The ornate silverware was engraved with an elegant cursive ‘D’.

Each setting was spaced with a votive candle, and dainty glass bowls of chilli and sea salt flakes.

Chef Brandon Pettit cooks every pizza at Delancey. An assistant stretches the dough and tops the wooden paddle with ingredients. Brandon then slides the pizza into the wood fire oven. As I was eating alone, I observed the dexterous pair in harmony.

I ordered the crimini mushroom pizza with olive oil, onion, mozzarella and thyme. Thin slices of crimini mushrooms were intertwined with slivers of onions and molten splotches of mozzarella. The textured crust had charred blisters, and was both crispy and chewy.

Each bite was a joyful union of flavours, the bread and toppings waltzed in time and sang in tune. After the pizza class with Brandon and being recommended by just about every Seattleite I know, I’m a Delancey convert.

I caressed my flat foil package of leftover pizza home for supper the same night.

I have two pizza classes scheduled within a month. I was at Serious Pie Downtown on a Wednesday morning for the first one. The pizza classes are held on weekdays and Saturdays before the restaurant opens. The city felt lethargic on a cloudy midweek day and it was a little odd walking into an empty Serious Pie.

Coffee and banana chocolate walnut loaves greeted us. I nibbled on the sweet, nutty bread as I leafed through the printed notes.

The Kitchen Table is the new private dining room at Serious Pie Downtown. For dough-shaping and dining parties, the dual purpose room was rustic and decorated in warm tones. Twinkling lights were strung overhead.

Vases of dried flowers lined the window sill as an organic curtain. Metal shelves were laden with commercial size tubs of World Spice herbs and spices.

I was happy to spot a large container of Murray River flake salt in their inventory.

Chef Audrey Spence was ill so Cari kindly shared her expertise with us. The Serious Pie dough recipe is a secret but there is a modified version for the home cook. Cari detailed the three-day dough making process. Bread flour, semolina flour, biga starter, olive oil, honey, salt and water are mixed, proofed and hand-shaped. Cari demonstrated how to stretch the dough.

Silky and supple, the wet dough wobbled and yielded easily to touch. We each dusted the wooden surface with flour and stretched a ball of tacky dough. Gentle and nimble fingers were the key! We sprinkled the pizza board with semolina flour and slid the dough on top.

Mise en place: basil, caramelised onions, clams, fennel sausages, hedgehog mushrooms, pancetta, potatoes, olive oil, roasted garlic, roasted peppers and tomato sauce.

Parmigiano, Provolone, Feta, Mozzarella and herbs were in terracotta dishes for us to sample.

Clockwise from top right: Provolone, tarragon and Parmigiano.

I created a half and half pizza. On the left: olive oil, hedgehog mushrooms and caramelised onions. On the right: tomato sauce, pancetta, roasted red peppers and basil.

My half and half pizza on the rack in the queue for the oven.

Our cheeks were rosy from the heat of the apple wood burning pizza oven.

Gauge of the wood fire pizza oven indicated a temperature of 658 °F (348 °C).

The pizza was placed at the edge of the fiery glow and in one swift motion the board was displaced. An enormous stainless steel paddle pushed the raw pizza to the side and back where it blistered and crisped. After five minutes, Cari dabbed on the Provolone, and the pizza was rotated and cooked for another two to three minutes.

A pinch of marjoram perfected the seasoning. I wielded the mezzaluna and sliced the pizza into eighths.

We settled into the dining room with our artisanal, personalised pizzas.

A selection of Italian varietals was paired with our pizzas. I sipped a glass of Villa Giada Surí Rosso Barbera d’Asti, a fruity red.

It was deeply satisfying to eat the pizza I had handmade, and without any clean up afterwards!

It was fun to be in the Serious Pie kitchen to learn some of the techniques of their famous pizzas!


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