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When Azarra was young, we had a Thursday ritual.  Whomever wasn’t busy would drive downtown to O’Sheas and fetch enough New Orleans Artichoke Soup for the whole salon.  It was luscious.  And then O’Sheas closed.  They re-opened as a catering operation under new management (who claimed no knowledge of this magnificent soup!)  It has since become the stuff of legend. The soup against which all others are judged (and found wanting!)  So, as part of the culinary exploration project, we set out to re-create this soup from memory.  This was pretty dang close.  Enjoy! And if anyone reading this worked at O’Sheas back then and has the dang recipe, please let us know if we are missing something!

2 Tbsp Butter

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp minced garlic or shallots

3 Tbsp butter

1/3 cup flour

1 cup chicken broth

2 cups water

14oz. can quarter cut artichokes

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning blend

1 cup of warm whipping cream

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in pot, then add carrots, celery, onion. Saute 10 min (until soft) Add 3 Tbsp butter, then add flour and whisk together, simmering for about 5 mins. Add chicken broth, water, artichokes, and all seasonings.

Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Add cream, heat through, and serve.

This is not the final edit.  (The application states that once submitted, the Network owns the content.) The last edit was slightly sassier.  🙂

Voting season is upon us!

September 1, 2009

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We are very excited to be nominated again for Evening Magazine’s Best of Western Washington. Last year we finished in the top 5!

We are competing in the beauty/hair color category and would appreciate your vote.

You do have to register and you can only vote once. A comment box pops up where you can (but are not required to) say something wonderful about us.

Next month it will be time to vote in the Citysearch polls.  Don’t worry. We will let you know when it is time.  🙂

The great tortilla adventure

September 1, 2009

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I will never forget my first home made flour tortilla.  My neighbors in Death Valley had 4 boys and 2 girls. One of the girls was my age, and her brothers were cute, so I spent a fair amount of time at their house. Petra made tortillas every morning. I watched and I listened and I ate. I asked her for a recipe and her answer was the kind born of routine: a couple of handfuls of this, a pinch of that.

When we left Death Valley for West Texas, there was no shortage of fresh, soft, delicious tortillas. I grew spoiled.

Then came Tacoma. And the dreaded “store bought” tortillas. What a disappointment! I had a few years of joy when I found Molinar’s Tortilla Factory on South Tacoma Way. Julian Molinar was from a town just down the road from where I spent high school, so the tortillas were lovingly familiar. Sometimes I would take the kids there to have tender, moist West Texas brisket, and sometimes I would just buy a dozen tortillas to eat at home.

As part of  my recent culinary explorations, I got it into my head to make tortillas. I had great luck with biscuits, and I was full of the confidence born of success.  I bought a bag of masa flour and followed the recipe on the bag. It was the same ingredients Petra had used (flour, baking soda, salt, lard, water) but when I made them, they had no flavor. (And I had over floured the board when rolling them out, so they were dusty, to boot.)

Onto the internet I went.  I looked at a what seemed like a million recipes and they all fell into two camps.  Either lard & water or milk & oil.  Try as I might, I could not get the lard versions to work.  I tried two of the milk versions and while the first one was a disaster, the second one showed promise. I put on my thinking cap and tried again.  After batch upon batch of failure, this morning we had success!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil or melted bacon drippings
3/4 – 1 cup hot half & half
Mix flour, baking powder & salt with your hands.  Add in oil, tossing flour around it so as to keep it off your fingers.  Drizzle in half & half (it is hot, so try to keep it off your fingers) and bring the dough together.  Stop adding the half & half when the dough is sticky, but comes together and looks like dough.
Knead for two minutes on a LIGHTLY floured surface. Dough should be soft and pliable. Form into a ball and return to bowl. Cover with a damp towel and rest for 20 minutes.
Portion into 8 balls and lay them on your work surface making sure the balls do not touch. Cover with damp cloth and let rest 10 minutes.
Heat griddle or cast iron skillet over medium/medium high heat (I used 7 on a scale of 10).
Use hands to form into flat disk about 4 inches round and with very little flour on board, roll out to about 8 inches. Flip and turn as needed to get nice and thin.
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Place flat on the pan until it begins to turn opaque and lots of bubbles form. (about 30 seconds)
Flip and cook about 30 seconds on other side.
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Place in the folds of a towel and place a sheet of foil over the top of the towel.
A good tortilla should be tasty all by itself, but feel free to spread a little butter & honey or use it to make a breakfast burrito, or do like Petra’s family and tear off hunks and use them to scoop up chorizo & potatoes. No fork needed!

I did decide on a recipe using solid fat that I did enjoy.  It is a hybrid of the traditional and the recipe above.

3 Cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 Cup cold solid fat (butter or lard) in small bits
1/2 – 1 Cup hot milk or half & half
Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the fat.  Add the milk.
Knead on a generously floured board until smooth and elastic (2-3 minutes).
Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rest 10 – 20 minutes.
Break into 8 balls. Cover and let rest 10-20 minutes.
Roll thin and cook in dry cast iron pan over medium heat. Flip when top has lots of bubbles and bottom has brown dots.
Cook until it matches the other side.  Stack between kitchen towels or hand each one to a waiting family member.

Grand Opening

August 23, 2009

Thanks to all who joined us for our Grand Opening. We had a great time. We had an amazing cheese table from the Traveling Cheesemonger. If you need something fabulous for your next corporate event, we can hook you up. She also does cheese classes!

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Other than the cheese, the most popular items were the Wine Sorbet and the Sparkling Sangria.

The sorbet is stupid easy.

Place 1 bottle of wine (I have only made this with red wine, but I am going to try a Rose this weekend. I will let you know how it goes.) in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and use a long handled lighter to ignite the surface. When the flame goes out, add 1 cup sugar, the zest of one orange (use a vegetable peeler to make big strips) and 1 cinnamon stick. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until you can smell the orange and cinnamon.  Pour through a strainer into a large rectangular (8×13) Pyrex pan.  Freeze until solid. Using a stiff spatula, scrape out in chunks and place in food processor. Pulse first, then blend until creamy and return to freezer. (Can be individually portioned and returned to freezer.) Serve as a dessert or palate cleanser between courses.

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We were glad to see so many friends come by for a visit.

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2009 08 18 005

Aura’s Awesome Cornbread

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

7:14 PM

Makes 1 muffin pan (either 6 jumbo or 12 regular)

1 C yellow cornmeal

1 C cake flour

1 T baking powder

1 t salt

1/4 C chilled bacon drippings (can be replaced with lard or shortening)

1/4 C butter

1/2 C honey

3 eggs

1 cup whipping cream

Set oven to 400°.

Place paper cups in muffin tins

Combine dry ingredients

Cut in fat until mixture is grainy

In separate bowl, beat honey, eggs and cream

Add to dry ingredients and mix just until combined

Spoon into muffin tins

Bake about 20 minutes or until top is golden brown and probe comes out clean.

Serve with butter for dinner, or with whipped honey butter for dessert or breakfast.

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Honey Orange Dijon Roast Chicken

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

5:03 PM

As tender, juicy & delicious as a rotisserie chicken.  I promise.

Brine:

1 quart apple cider

1 quart water

2 bay leaves

12 black pepper corns

1 handful dried herb blend

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup kosher salt

Bring all items to boil in large stock pot.

Remove from heat and add 4 cups ice cubes

When cool (room temperature) place chicken in pot, cover and refrigerate for at least  1 hour. All day is fine.

When ready to cook, rinse & pat dry chicken.  Discard brine.

Bird Butter:

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter at room temperature

2 T dried herbs or 1 handful fresh herbs

1-2 T Olive oil

Place butter and herbs in food processor, start and when butter is well beaten, slowly pour in oil until butter is creamy and moves with blades. Place in refrigerator for a few minutes (can be made ahead, just remove from refrigerator for 20 minutes before using .)

Basting Glaze:

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter

1 minced shallot

1 orange

1/2 C honey

1/2 C Dijon mustard

In sauce pan on medium low heat, melt butter.  Add shallot and cook until aroma wafts upward.  Add the zest and juice of orange.  Whisk in honey and mustard. Simmer until thickened, then remove from heat to cool.

2 red, orange or yellow peppers

2 small Granny Smith apples

1 large sweet onion

3 celery sticks

3 carrots

Preheat oven to 425°

Roughly chop vegetables and place in roasting pan. Toss with olive oil and kosher salt.

Slide fingers gently under skin on breasts and thighs of chicken to separate.  Push Bird Butter under skin and rub over and inside of chicken. Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.  Place juiced orange halves from glaze into cavity. Truss chicken with kitchen twine and place (breast side up) on vegetables in roasting pan. Place in oven for 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Remove pan from oven and spoon glaze over chicken. Flip chicken to expose back and spoon over glaze. Add one quart of chicken stock and return to oven for 20 minutes.

Flip bird again, basting lightly with pan drippings. Return to oven for 15-20 minutes or until thermometer inserted in thigh registers 160°. Remove from pan and rest.

Remove vegetables from pan. Separate fat from top of pan drippings.

In sauce pan over medium heat, whisk 2 T fat into 2 T flour.  When golden and nutty smelling, add into roasting pan and whisk thoroughly to make gravy.

Hair by Jennifer

Hair by Jennifer

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Before

Before

After

After