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What's for Dinner #363 - The Merrie Month of May Edition [through May 12, 2015]

Last night was all about repurposing leftovers and using up veggies: kale and duck adobo quesadillas. Reduced some leftover adobo sauce to a paste and then thinned with a little cream. Sliced up some kale and sauteed it with garlic before adding leftover shredded roast duck, dried cranberries, and the adobo. Cooked everything through then added cheese and topped with diced radish. Made some quesadillas dry, some with a film of duck fat in the pan. Shoulda made a salad or something but was lazy.

What's for Dinner #363 - The Merrie Month of May Edition [through May 12, 2015]

Tonight was cream of asparagus soup. Gently sauteed sliced leek and garlic until golden before adding a large bunch of trimmed asparagus, a bay leaf, rosemary sprig and warm milk to cover. Pureed (sans bay and rosemary) when the asparagus was tender and reheated in a clean pan. Tossed in a handful of shredded red-veined sorrel to wilt at the end and topped each bowl with rosemary and chive blossoms and tiny mint leaves. Also beat a bunch of lemon zest, rosemary flowers, and sea salt into a knob of butter. Dropped a dollop on each bowl and spread a little more over crusty bread. Good eats.

What's for Dinner #363 - The Merrie Month of May Edition [through May 12, 2015]

Last night was roast duck with red chile adobo sauce, pretty much exactly following the instructions in Rick Bayless' One Plate at a Time, although I used one 5.5-pound duck instead of two 4-pound birds. Quite tasty, altho I'll certainly make adjustments moving forward. Made a side slaw of shredded carrot, radish, and apple with cilantro, dried cranberries, dried Mexican oregano, orange zest and juice, and a little oil.

What's for Dinner #362 - The May Day Edition [through May 5, 2015]

Saturday night was simple pizza using TJ's dough.

Last night did a first-course salad of seared duck liver and heart (bought a nice duck at the farmers' market) tossed with oil, cream, lemon, dijon, and some young mustard greens. Topped with shaved Parmesan, chive blossoms, and black pepper.

Main course was a dry-aged ribeye, rubbed with just salt and pepper before searing hard and eating rare. Topped with sauteed quartered mushrooms finished with red wine and cream. Garnished with a mess of rosemary flowers. Side of roasted asparagus. A nice Barnard Griffin cabernet to go with.

Have Seattle's Craft Brew Tasting Rooms Become Beer Raves?

Fremont can certainly be overwhelming at times, but we did stroll in at about 4 o'clock on Monday, as glorious a spring afternoon as there ever was, and find outdoor seats no problem.

I guess I should be clear, because it probably makes a big difference in judgment: none of these places are necessarily "destinations" for us. If we walk by and it looks inviting, we stop in. If it looks overrun by Amazombies we move on---no harm no foul. I can imagine making a special trip through Ballard-Fremont traffic and being quite frustrated.

Peddler is a small but pleasant and sunny room (yes, I think the old Jolly Roger space is still empty). Not a huge hefeweizen guy, but do really enjoy the tangerine wheat here. Main problem with Peddler is it seems to be among the most frequent stops for those horrid pedal-powered moving bars rented by tourists and bachelorette parties. In which case, run run run. It is also sometimes packed with cyclists if the weather is nice. And the chairs outside are plastic and, you know, on Leary.

We've only been to the new Northwest Peaks space once, and it was still clearly in transition: 1-part tasting room, 2-parts 2 Bit Saloon (RIP). Curious to see how it turned out. Might stop in after the farmers' market on Sunday. Will report back if we do.

Have Seattle's Craft Brew Tasting Rooms Become Beer Raves?

Fremont Brewery is not my favorite beer, but the lines move quickly even when long, the benches and tables aren't plastic but heavy wood, the pretzels are free and abundant, and we usually encounter a good mix of ages and a few families with little ones.

We like Peddler and Northwest Peaks as well. Not a fan of the old Reuben's room, but haven't been to the new one (if it's open yet). Not a fan of Stoup, either---dark without comfortable places to stand if tables are full.

What's for dinner #360: Time to shake off the dross and get busy. [through April 22, 2015]

Tonight was pork chops. Pureed a couple small apples with a navel orange. Added salt, cinnamon, dill, and a touch of brown sugar for an ad hoc brine. Rinsed, dried, and brought up to room temp on a rack. Seared in brown butter and oil, then finished in the oven for a few minutes with a local "baked apple" hard cider. Served on top of shredded kale wilted in the pan juices while the chops rested. Topped with browned apple and pear and red onion finished with a touch of the same cider. Some rosemary flowers on top. Side of thinly mandolined russets baked in milk (and maybe a little heavy cream) with onion, bay, and smoked paprika in individual casseroles.

What's for Dinner #359 - the April Showers Edition [through April 15, 2015]

Last night was rushed: Hawaiian pizza made with fresh pineapple and leftover Sunday ham. TJ's mozzarella and dough and sauce for everything else. I know the pineapple and ham combo is a love-it-or-hate-it thing, but it has pitchers-of-beer college roots for us.

Tonight was salt- and coriander-crusted halibut cheeks roasted with butter and garlic. Sighed as I poured the leftover garlic butter into the compost bin, but I'm workin' on some things. Ate the cheeks on top of wood sorrel tossed with chickpeas, red quinoa, fresh dill, and the garden chives that keep coming back.

Also snagged some troll-caught Oregon salmon and started a batch of lox.

What's for Dinner #358 - The Easter/Passover Edition! [through April 7, 2015]

Ha! I'll have to send you her number so you can remind her, Maria.

What's for Dinner #358 - The Easter/Passover Edition! [through April 7, 2015]

Yup, very similar to dill seed. Little fresher and more potent, but doesn't maintain its flavor as well when cooked for a long time. Nice stirred into a dish at the end of cooking or sprinkled over as a slightly crunchy garnish.

What's for Dinner #358 - The Easter/Passover Edition! [through April 7, 2015]

We don't celebrate, but...childhood memories and all that. Plus, she loves a ham.

Last night was a little farmers market ham coming in at under three pounds for the two of us. Rubbed it a few hours in advance with a mixture of cayenne, urfa biber, cloves, and star anise. Finished for the last 20 minutes with a glaze made from blackberry jam, dijon, ginger ale, and leftover spice rub.

Sides were salt-roasted ozettes with dill and dill pollen. Also some old-school collards (red pepper flakes, smashed garlic, water, and a bit of trotters).

Starter salad of miners lettuce and wood sorrel with shaved parmesan and shallots, all tossed with a little oil and salt in garlic-rubbed bowls.

New Streamline Tavern

Went last Sunday. Was so happy to see the old tattered bar stools. Maybe a slightly different crowd, but many regulars are obviously make the move over as well.

Quick - what to do with giant portabello 'shroom slices?

Nicely seared they make a great vegetarian quesadilla or taco filling. You have just about everything you'd need besides tortillas. Asparagus-mushroom quesadillas with some lightly dressed greens? Yes please.

La Carta de Oaxaca - good?

Funny, don't love Mezcaleria Oaxaca (as mentioned), but definitely favor it over Laredos. Not relevant to the OP, but Mezcaleria will also make fresh tortillas to go.

Never hear it talked about, but I'll also throw out a vote for El Camino in Fremont.

La Carta de Oaxaca - good?

Its sister restaurant is OK, not great. If you're staying in the neighborhood that's one thing, but I wouldn't head up to Queen Anne just for that. (I haven't been to the Capitol Hill location).

Wholeheartedly concur with Fonda la Catrina.

Flavorless chicken breasts

It's the same chicken, but you get more chicken to brown and to flavor with herbs, spices, fats, etc.

Certainly agree that a nicely-handled breast doesn't necessarily require knifework. But if the point is to help someone specifically complaining that her chicken breasts are bland, increasing the ratio of surface area to meat is sound advice.

Flavorless chicken breasts

A good brine should penetrate deeply. Maybe your liquid isn't salty enough or you're not brining long enough. If you have time, it's also nice to let the meat rest for an hour or so after rinsing and drying: the brine will continue to distribute more evenly throughout the meat as it rests.

In any event, definitely add some sweetener, from plain sugar to maple syrup. A little pricier, but replacing some or all of the liquid with fresh cider provides both the sugar and great flavor.

Pounding out or butterflying the breasts will also greatly increase the ratio of surface area to meat. And you can always stuff them with flavorful fillings like pesto with tomatoes.

Lastly, as others have noted, supermarket breasts tend to be pretty bland. Thighs (cheaper) or higher-quality breasts (pricier) are two alternatives.

Bee Pollen

Probably not any cheaper, but Marx Foods might have it.

What's for Dinner? #348 -- The Valentine's Day Edition [through Feb 15, 2015]

Last night was pretty simple pork chops. Seared, then braised with chopped canned tomatoes, hopped cider, onions, garlic, rosemary, chile flakes, butter. Pulled the chops and reduced the sauce until thick and almost sticky. Side dishes of mesclun and scalloped potatoes and mushrooms.

Adieu, Elysian. Thanks for the Sellout

Thanks, Gizmo. Couldn't muster the energy to reply to so much nonsense.

What's for Dinner? #346 - The Deep Freeze Edition! [through Feb 3, 2015]

Cream of winter vegetable soup with apple, hazelnut, and ginger. Shallot gently sauteed in butter. In went chunked carrots, delicata, sweet potato, an apple, knob of ginger, two garlic cloves, and a few handfuls of roasted and peeled hazelnuts. Braised everything in milk until tender, then pureed with a glug or two of fresh cider and some fresh dill. Topped bowls with more dill and a bit of diced apple. Little mesclun on the side. Almost wimped out on cooking, tripped into a tasty keeper.

Drinking on valentines day

Zig Zag and Spur both do nice cocktails at the bar, though neither bar space is especially large.

What's for Dinner - #345 - the Winter Doldrums Already? Edition [through January 28, 2015]

It was indeed, Maria. A cup of butter to just 3/4 cup flour. It is certainly not a calorie- or fat-averse cookbook, but am wondering if maybe a measurement got lost in translation somewhere over the Atlantic. Anyway, was multitasking and talking and didn't realize what I was getting myself into until the onions were caramelized and the butter-flour mixture was already coming together with the liquid.

The recipe makes four individual tarts, so yeah, it'd be easy to leave the anchovies off the man's serving.

What's for Dinner - #345 - the Winter Doldrums Already? Edition [through January 28, 2015]

Last night was onion and anchovy tarts with olives from Roast Chicken and Other Stories. Really just good anchovies crisscrossed over a mess of caramelized onions, with olives and a bit of Parm sprinkled on top. Substituted castelvetrano olives for black olives and added a bit of fig balsamic and some fresh rosemary to the onions. Very good, but was that crust ever rich. Next time will make a less buttery dough or halve the recipe and cut the dough into little first-course servings.

I need a really good, thick wiener

Far from high-end, but Ball Park markets a "jumbo" beef frank that could very well be what you ate as a kid. I know we had 'em back in the '80s.

Seattle-Portland lunch recs

Yes, Babette mentioned heading north to lunch. She and I both agreed heading straight south was smarter. I merely disagreed with your claim that if someone was so interested, two hours isn't enough time to make a round-trip drive from Sea-Tac to the ID and back.

OP is driving from Sea-Tac to Portland no matter what, and doesn't care what time s/he gets into Portland. There's nothing "cockamamie" about trying to hit a winery or two while making that drive.

Seattle-Portland lunch recs

Thanks for the lesson on how flying works! OP didn't ask about driving to Seattle for lunch. OP asked about lunch "along the way."

Is it "reasonable" to think that with some research into desirability, hours, and location, OP can land at Sea-Tac at 11 and hit a winery or two on the way to Portland? Simply put, yes.

What's for Dinner - #345 - the Winter Doldrums Already? Edition [through January 28, 2015]

Made tacos de carnitas last night with some fatty pork shoulder. A roasted tomatillo salsa with plenty of toasted garlic, serrano, and lime juice. Little local feta on top because it needed using and seemed a nice substitute for a dry Mexican farmers cheese. Restaurant down the street provided some fresh tortillas. Lightly dressed mesclun to go with.

Dunno about tonight. Supposed to be having a dry January, but old girl just landed a fancy new job, so am thinking about a celebratory cocktail or two at Zig Zag downtown. I'm on so few calories this month I'll prolly fall off the stool after one sip. Anyway, might end up just sharing a few small plates there and calling it good---there's popcorn and sherbet to go with a Friday night movie on the couch if we get munchy later. Otherwise, dinner will probably be pateĢ back here with some gherkins, quick-pickled shallots, bread and a side salad.

What's for Dinner - #345 - the Winter Doldrums Already? Edition [through January 28, 2015]

Did you ever try that upside-down cornmeal and fruit cake, thymetobake?

Seattle-Portland lunch recs

What AC said. I'd disagree even with "unlikely." It's not hard or a dash, in my experience. With some research OP should be able to find a worthy destination or two. Three at a languid pace? Not likely. But then again, this isn't some dream wine country vacation, just someone trying get a lil' taste while passing through for work anyway. Shouldn't be hard.