We have rather a lot of beef in our downstairs freezer, thanks to the half a cow we buy every couple of years, so any time the urge for steak strikes we tend to go with it. It’s a wonderful excuse to make chimichurri sauce, a traditional Argentinian concoction of parsley, lemon, hot pepper and olive oil. And as it turns out, it’s even better on roasted mushrooms than it is on beef. A little bit spooned into an omelet was a good move as well. Actually, I’m not sure what it wouldn’t be good on.

a sprig of parsley

We looked through quite a few books looking for different chimichurri recipes. Some use lemon juice, some use vinegar. Some are just parsley, but many add oregano as well. All versions are good – you could basically make up your own depending on the ingredients at hand. We just tried a version out of one of our street food cookbooks, and it turned out spectacular. It was very liquidy, though – not a problem as long as everything on your plate tastes good with chimichurri sauce, because it’s all going to get souped up together. You could probably thicken it up by adding a lot more chopped fresh herb and folding it in at the end.

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orange-rosemary salmon


Even after I had learned how to cook most things, I had no idea how to deal with a piece of salmon. It was embarrassing, but I was sufficiently terrified by the idea of cooking, not just salmon, but any fish, that I almost never tried. I was scared of it being raw, but I hated it overcooked. So I just skipped the whole thing, which is really a shame when you live in the  Pacific Northwest.

Enter that saviour of timid chefs everywhere, Mark Bittman! All of his recipes tend to have a comforting, you-can-do-this sort of tone, with simple techniques and ingredients. I discovered a stovetop-to-oven method of cooking salmon fillets in his book The Minimalist Cooks at Home, and it worked so well I wouldn’t cook salmon any other way for years. It repeatedly produced fish that was moist, tender and cooked all the way through. It’s simple: crust the fish with herbs and spices, melt butter in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, add the fish seasoning-side down and cook one minute. Flip and cook one more minute. Put the pan in the oven and cook about five minutes or until done how you like. Easy.


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green goddess green beans


For the last two weeks I’ve had the latest issue of Food & Wine sitting on my kitchen table. It’s not that I haven’t read it – I have – but I don’t allow myself to keep the back issues and so I hate to recycle it until I’m absolutely done with it. I keep going back through it to make sure there isn’t one more recipe to cut out or one more restaurant review to make a note of. As a result, I’ve been staring constantly at a large front-cover photo of chicken salad with Green Goddess dressing. With predictable results.

dressing ingredients

I have actually never made Green Goddess dressing. I mean, ever. So this was sort of a duh moment for me, as I realized that I had fresh herbs all over the place, garlic and anchovies ready to hand, and a tub of sour cream in the fridge left over from our Monday night enchiladas. There was no reason at all not to make this. And I had the perfect vehicle for the dressing: a large bag of perfect, slender green beans from Blue Heron Farm. I cut the beans in half, blanched them in boiling salted water and drained them, then got to work on my dressing.

green goddess green beans

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Lillet Sin

Lillet Sin

In defiance of all the traditional wisdom of what a Skagit County spring should be like, the last few weeks have ranged from pleasant to actively hot, with practically no rain. Normally we’re lucky if we even see the sun before the Fourth of July! Instead we’ve been able to turn off the house heat, the garden has needed to be watered several times a week, and the summer cocktail recipes are beginning to emerge. When I saw that this month’s Mixology Monday theme was ginger, I knew just what drink I was going to post about.

cocktail ingredients

Two of my favorite summer drinks are the mint julep and Lillet Blanc on the rocks, but Jon recently discovered a drink on the Lillet website that combines fresh mint and Lillet, then punches it up with fresh ginger and lime. They call it a Lillet Sin, for some odd reason – it’s one of the least sinful cocktails I can think of. Continue reading

braised rhubarb with herbs and saffron


At this point in the season, the rhubarb plants have peaked, attempted to bloom their heads off (and been thwarted by my Felcos), and are beginning to settle back into merely being a large green presence in the yard without actually attempting to overrun or squash anything. We’ve had rhubarb crisp, clafoutis, pie, compote, and muffins, and stowed away a large freezer bag of chopped stalks for later.

fresh rhubarb

Despite all that, I’m nowhere near rhubarb burnout, and there are several recipes left that I want to try – for instance, I’ve still never roasted rhubarb. Or poached it in red wine. I have, however, braised it with green herbs, onion, tomato and saffron. Sound weird? It’s actually really, really good.

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scallion-chive breads


The chives in my garden aren’t quite in bloom yet, but they’ve become tall and lush and have been begging to be made into Chinese scallion-chive flatbreads. I felt it was only fair to oblige.

scallion chive bread

These breads are so delicious, I can’t begin to tell you. Sometimes you can get them in Chinese restaurants, but I’ve never had one to compare with homemade, fresh out of the pan. They are addictive: crunchy on the outside, soft, salty and fragrant on the inside.

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spicy green sauce

green sauce

For some reason last week turned out to be a major seafood fest: oysters, fried calamari, fish chowder, rockfish and halibut. Not bad – usually we settle for shrimp curries and the occasional piece of salmon. The halibut was the only oceanic item I actually cooked myself, and it turned out very nice if I do say so.

In the spirit of using up stuff from the fridge before it went all slimy, I dug out a bag of slightly wizened serrano chiles and the remainder of a huge bunch of parsley. I seeded the chiles and tossed them into the little food processor with the parsley, a couple cloves of garlic, half a lemon’s worth of juice and a little olive oil. I zizzed it smooth, then added salt. It was very sharp and green with a definite chile buzz.

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You could, of course, make traditional Parsi kebabs. If you’re feeling more casual, you can simplify the technique and make Parsiburgers. More casual yet is Parsi meatloaf. I recommend it.

meatloaf ingredients

The flavors of this meatloaf are bold and sparkling: fresh ginger, green chiles (seeds and all), cilantro and mint, all jumping out of a simple meat-and-potatoes framework. It’s spicy enough to make you want some salad or a beer, and complex enough to eat without any condiments or sauce (if you want).

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pumpkin ravioli with sage butter


“Maybe I should have started with linguine instead of ravioli.” I was trying to remember how to make pasta, and beginning to wonder if, instead of pumpkin ravioli, our Halloween dinner was going to consist of pasta shreds with mashed pumpkin on top. Fortunately for us, and for those of you looking at the photos of our final product, it did finally come out.

I used to make ravioli and other filled pastas, back when I was young and unemployed and had more time in the kitchen, but it had definitely been a while. And I never did get the hang of squash-filled pastas – it seemed like I always overfilled them or the filling was too watery, and the pastas always self-destructed in the pot. I’m happy to report, though, that this recipe (from Mario Batali’s Babbo Cookbook) worked beautifully. I only had to wad up the pasta scraps and reroll them once! And the pumpkin didn’t cook evenly, so we ran it through the cuisinart to get rid of the hard chunks. But the result was very, very delicious. I did skip the amaretti cookies on top, though, because that just sounded disgusting.

the pumpkin

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farro risotto with sage and orange


The way I decided to make this was typical: I had found a new (to me) cookbook at the local used bookstore, and bought it partly because it included a number of recipes for farro. I decided I would make one of the recipes this week, but as I was scanning them I was suddenly reminded of a dish in The Italian Country Table that I had been intrigued by. So I made that instead. I’m easily derailed when it comes to menu planning.

herbs and onions

I thought this was a cool recipe, pairing the sweet taste of farro with bright orange zest and fresh herbs, and chickpeas for added flavor and texture. It made a nice change from the cream and mushrooms often used in farro dishes. We had it alongside a roast chicken and a chunky beet salad (which went great with the orange in the farro).

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