Let’s get this table talking. Share your stories of foraged foods. New to foraging, that’s ok, pull up a chair and join in the conversation below.
I adore old farmsteads with apple and pear trees in the front yard. I secretly envy homeowners who inherit fruit trees with their dwelling. And I am often disappointed to see fruits in these yards spoiling beneath the trees. Untended, ignored. What is a girl to do? Forage, of course.
Within a miles walk from our house stands an abandoned farmstead with an apple and pear tree in the front yard. The house was lost to arson and the white washed shop has witnessed the rolling door pulled from its track and most of the wide clapboards ripped from the walls. The blackberries and the ivy have reclaimed what I image was a once-well-tended yard. But the apple tree, the pear tree and the crab apple continue to present fruits waiting to be plucked from their lichen covered branches.
Every year with the exception of the arson year ~ my husband was concerned about asbestos contamination ~ I check the trees. When the apples start to blush and the pears are just soft enough, I enlist nephews, friends and my husband to harvest the fruit.
Now I will warn you these fruits are not the cultivated, sprayed and sorted for your viewing pleasure variety you see at the grocery. No, these fruits are speckled, knurled with an uneven complexion. They have fought hard to bring themselves to bear. And you can literally taste that determination. They taste just as they should, like an apple and a pear. There is nothing marginal in the taste. The flavor grabs a hold of your tongue and lingers far past the moment of being swallowed. These treasures offer themselves so completely to simple desserts where they can express themselves fully.
For the pears, a galette with a flaky, buttery crust, wildflower honey and the warmth of ground cinnamon. Simple, yet elegant.
Do you have a favorite pesto recipe? Join the conversation and share your thoughts, recipes and experience!
It was easy to locate them standing as a loose group in as close to a circular pattern as several conversations occurring at the same time allows. And then there was the facilitator holding a sign in a relaxed yet determined font that said “Sur La Table”, making sure that those of us gathered understood that this group did have a purpose beyond excited idle chatter.
At precisely 1:26 PM, the organizer ~ her name I would later learn is Doralece ~ used her best authoritative voice, trying to bring order to the group who was excitedly trying to catch up on the goings-on of the last year. “I will need to check each one of you off as you enter the buses. There are two buses that we will load into, so if you could indulge me as you enter and give me your name, we will make sure that we have everyone and can account for you getting back after the event.”
After giving my name as per usual “Leigh ~ L – E – I – G – H” I stepped on to the bus, scanning the remaining seats, which were quite limited. Which one should I choose? One next to someone already seated? Is there anyone that I know with an empty seat next to them? Do I just choose one of the two seats directly in back of the bus driver? Why doesn’t anyone choose those two seats? Who would sit next to me? How interesting that the seemingly simple act of choosing a seat on a bus can create such a dilemma? The seats in back of the bus driver seemed like a good choice as the person behind me finished providing Doralece with her name and stepped up behind me.
My seat mate ended up being a very nice blogger from Seattle. We chatted about the fabulous summer that we experienced this year in the Pacific Northwest, special dietary considerations, cookbook reviews and general food philosophies. We speculated about the brand spankin’ new test kitchen that Sur La Table was eager to show off to this gaggle of food bloggers and what wonderful new products KitchenAid was going to feature.
We unloaded into the parking lot of the Pacific Market Center and were ushered into the building by two happy greeters. The short elevator trip ended in the lobby of the new office and test kitchen space. The test kitchen entrances were punctuated with a display featuring a chic apron, must-have kitchen gadgets and candy apple red KitchenAid appliances. Oh, so lovely!
The test kitchen floor was lined with chairs in tidy rows, that would soon be scooted, slid and shoved to accommodate the group of bloggers, our cameras, smart phones, purses and backpacks. Once again, Doralece called the chatty group to order to introduce us to the list of VIPs that would be speaking, demonstrating or aiding throughout the remainder of the presentation.
We listened intently as one by the one Jack Schwefle, CEO of Sur La Table, Nikki Lockket, Senior Marketing Manager for KitchenAid and Jacob Maurer, SVP and GMM took their positions at the front of the room and discussed brands, trends, missions and upcoming releases. The last to take the stage were Stephi Coyle, Director of Culinary at Sur La Table and Kristina Micallef, Culinary Program Content Manager at Sur La Table. These two ladies are responsible for the content presented in the culinary classes that Sur la Table offers. And they were ready to introduce us to the art of making pesto and fresh pasta using some pretty fancy kitchen appliances courtesy of KitchenAid.
The demonstration started with the one of the newest installment of attachments for the stand mixer ~ the food processor. It slices, dices and shreds and attaches directly to the front of the mixer in the same fashion as the meat grinder, grain mill and pasta rollers do. This might be a handy little contraption.
From there the demonstration for the pesto and pasta started in earnest. As each of the items was prepped, mixed, blended, rolled and cut, Stephi and Kristina discussed techniques, fun facts and time saving strategies. By the end of the demonstration three dishes had been produced, fresh fettuccine, kale pesto and cranberry tarts. All of which were beautifully displayed on the buffet table in the lobby for our eating pleasure.
The recipes, graciously shared by the Sur La Table crew, for the fresh pasta and the cranberry tart are gluten-full, though I am playing with a gluten-free pasta recipe. Once it is perfected, I will make sure to share it here. For my gluten-free friends, I recommend any of the Barilla gluten free products, the Rotini will hold the savory pesto safely in its spirals.
As for the tarts, as usual, I am going to recommend Kate McDermott’s gluten-free pie crust. You cannot go wrong. Seriously! Should the leaf lard present an issue for you, whether philosophically or availability, you can replace it with butter ~ it is equally stellar. Replacing the all-purpose flour in the topping and the filling with an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend such as Pam’s or blend your own following Jean Layton’s Gluten-free White Flour Mix.
Delicious spread on bread instead of butter or served as a relish with grilled chicken, this pesto is as versatile as it is delicious.
Author: Sur La Table
6 cups (about 1 medium bunch) kale, center ribs removed
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 clove medium garlic clove, peeled
1 cup toasted, roughly chopped walnuts
1¼ cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blanch kale in a large pot of boiling salted water about 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool; spin dry in a salad spinner or wring dry in a clean kitchen towel.
Place the blanched kale, basil, garlic, walnuts and olive oil in the bowl of a blender and process to a smooth paste. Stop the motor and add grated cheese and lemon juice, process until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
Using Italian "00" flour will result in a delicate, yet chewy pasta, though all-purpose flour will work just as well.
Author: Sur La Table
2½ cups (12½ ounces) all-purpose flour or "00", plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Make a "well" in the center of the flour mixture and add eggs and oil. Using your fingers, blend the eggs into the flour mixture, stirring the flour in from the sides of the well and working outwards. When the pasta dough is thoroughly mixed, turn it out on a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until it is smooth and flexible but not sticky, adding small amounts of flour as needed, about 5 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes at room temperature.
To roll dough, secure a pasta machine to the edge of a long countertop (or attach a pasta roller to your stand mixer). Using a bench scraper, cut the dough into thirds. Keep extra dough covered in a plastic warp while working with one piece. Flatten the piece of dough into a rough rectangle so that it will fit inside the width of the pasta machine. Place the rollers on the widest setting and roll the dough through the machine, catching it with one hand as your roll with the other. (If using an automatic pasta machine, catch with one hand while guiding with the other). Take the dough and fold into thirds towards the center of the dough. Turn the dough so one open end faces the machine and roll it through on the widest setting again. Fold, turn, and roll once more on the widest setting. Continue rolling the pasta through the machine without folding, adjusting the rollers to the next smallest setting each time, until the desired thickness is reached. If the pasta sheet becomes too large to handle, use a bench scraper to cut it into more manageable lengths and continue rolling until pasta is less than 1/16th-inch thick.
Cut sheets to desired shapes and sizes, either by hand or with a pasta attachment for a stand mixer or pasta machine, toss with flour and set aside covered with a clean kitchen towel. The pasta can be cooked immediately or covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to an hour before use.
To cook pasta, heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. Add enough kosher salt to season the water like sea water. While salted water boils vigorously, add pasta and stir immediately to prevent the strands form sticking together. Boil until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. reserve about 1 cup pasta with a slotted spoon or spider and reheat water to boiling before cooking another batch.
Toss hot pasta with your sauce of choice, using the reserved pasta water to thin the mixture as needed. Garnish was desired and serve immediately.
To prepare the tart dough:: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of the food processor and run the machine until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in the water and run the machine until the mixture forms a ball around the blade. Turn out on to work surface and shape into a rectangle. Square the edges. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes
To prepare the topping: Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter in the bowl of the food processor and pulse the machine until the butter is the size of small peas. Do not overprocess. Set aside.
To prepare the filling: Place the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, flour and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to coarsely chop cranberries. Set aside.
To assemble tarts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly flour work surface or marble pastry board and roll pastry out to a 9-inch square and ⅛-inch thick. Using a 2¾-inch cutter, cut out 9 rounds. Stack trimmings on top of each other (do not squash together) and roll out into rectangle 9-inches by 3-inches.
Cut out three more rounds. Use to line each hole of a 12 hole mini muffin pan. Press pastry gently into the base.
Add 1 tablespoon of the filling to each pastry case. pressing down gently with the back of a spoon. Scoop a tablespoonful of topping on top of each filling.
Bake the tarts in a preheated oven for 20 - 22 minutes, until the fruit is soft and bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes then transfre to a cooling rack usning a small offset spatula. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
The tarts keep for 1 day at room temperature. For longer storage, arrange in a single layer in a tub, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days Reheat in a 350 degree F oven for 5 to 7 minutes.
For a food fanatic, living in the state of Washington is heavenly. From a burgeoning wine industry, an impressive micro-brew culture, produce ranging from apples to eggplants, seafood that includes oysters, Dungeness crab and salmon, it is a veritable cornucopia of food awesomeness! And the farmer’s markets!
From the wide open farms in Eastern Washington to the vineyards centrally and southerly located, to the abundant coastline, this state fosters amazing eateries, breweries and wineries. It inspires local chefs and home cooks alike. A Taste of Washington, Michele Morris’s latest cookbook, dishes up tastes from every nook and cranny of this beautiful state. From recipes shared by the likes for Chef Ethan Stowell to recipes created from the bounty by Michele, A Taste of Washington will surely become one of your go-to cookbooks!
As I thumbed through, I stopped at a recipe for Cider-Glazed Pork Chops with Pickled Apples. The recipe title was intriguing, but it also happened to be from Chef Lisa Nakamura who is the wife of one of my colleagues. And since we are just getting into the apple season, it was a perfect foray into the cookbook. The use of cider to introduce more appliness was wonderful and, bonus ~ gluten-free. The sweet, savory and sour flavors with the porkness of the pasture raised chop was out-a-this-world!
I added a side of braised red cabbage with delicious results!
Having a garden in addition to belonging to a local CSA, means that our produce basket is NEVER empty. So the next recipe that I wanted to test needed to take advantage of carrots, leeks, onions, poblanos and tomatoes. Enter Chef Bryant Bader’s Shrimp Étouffée . Ok, can I just say that this recipe was phenomenal and I was able to use the shrimp stock that I had made and frozen ~ S-w-e-e-t!
This recipe says that it will serve eight, so the thought of cutting it in half for the two of us did cross my mind. Sooooo glad that I didn’t. We had dinner the first night, I took a serving for lunch the next day and had left-overs for an easy reheat meal to feed a very tired roof-replacing husband this weekend.
To make this recipe gluten-free, I substituted rice flour for the regular flour. No one will ever suspect.
I am so excited to continue my Washington-inspired adventures in this cookbook! And might I suggest that you do the same?
I feel pretty darn fortunate to live in the beautiful Pacific North West. We are minutes away from participating in the vibrant, pulsing city life, a short jaunt to amazing National Parks, a hop, skip and a jump to the seaside (Sound-side is more appropriate) and best of all a Sunday drive away from some of the most amazing farms. Read more →
From baking to smoothies to skin care, coconut oil’s benefits are endless. Rich in the medium chain fatty acid lauric acid, is known for its antifungal and antibacterial effects, coconut oil exerts its benefits on the immune system and entire body.
Whether you use it topically or internally, you’ll notice the positive before-and-after effects in no time. Read more →