Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Archive for the category “Pacific Northwest”

Hearts of Romaine with Sauteed Walla Walla Sweet Onions, Bartlett Pears, and Gorgonzola Dressing

Gorgonzola Salad

Though I’ve never really been a fan of veiny cheeses, this salad is really fantastic.  So many flavors going on–sweet pears, tart cranberries, toasty pecans, warm sauteed onions–and the dressing?  Oh man.  So good.  I just look for excuses to scoop it up and eat it.  It’s got great bite and is delicious with this salad, though I’m also reeeeeally looking forward to trying it out with my buffalo fried chicken.  And again, this is coming from someone who does not typically like veiny cheese, never mind a blue cheese dressing.  Oh!  You’ll also love that as rich as this dressing tastes, it only has 40 calories per serving!

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Pacific Northwest Chopped Salad

Pacific Northwest Chopped Salad

It snowed buckets this morning.  I suppose February has to make amends for the absurdly mild January we had, right?  Well, you probably had one of those record-breaking, freeze-your-buns-off months, but we somehow managed to avoid all of that.  In North Central Washington.  Can you believe that?  Seriously, our high’s were up in the 40’s–even the 50’s for a few days!  Craziness.

I love this little lake town when it’s blanketed in snow.  Some of the most beautiful days are when the surrounding hills and mountains are covered in white and the lake reflects a clear blue sky.  Just gorgeous.  We definitely get all four seasons around here and I love that.

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My view this morning.

But enough about the weather.  Let’s talk food.

It’s hard to beat the Pacific Northwest when it comes to good food and this salad offers a nice little array of some of these local flavors.  From the sweet and crunchy Honeycrisp apple to the handmade Beecher’s Flagship cheese, this salad pays homage to some of our best.  It’s one of my favorites and I hope you like it, too!

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Pan-Seared Venison Backstrap in Merlot-Dijon-Cream Sauce

Venison with Merlot-Dijon-Cream Sauce

God bless the hunters in my family.  Last time my folks came out to visit, my step-dad lovingly brought me several cuts of both elk and deer meat.  Needless to say, I was way excited, especially when I saw one of the packages was labeled backstrap.  For those of you unfamiliar with venison, the backstrap is a long muscle that runs down the length of the deer’s spine, also known as the tenderloin.  So basically, backstrap is the filet mignon of venison.  Because it is a muscle that is rarely used, it is exceptionally tender and also happens to be very lean.  On top of all this, venison–like other wild game–is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, not to mention iron, zinc, B vitamins, and a host of other nutrients.

This particular prep is incredibly delicious.  It’s an adaptation from Wolgang Puck’s Pan-Seared Beef Filets in Port-Dijon-Cream Sauce, which can be found in Wolfgang Puck Makes it EasyI received an autographed copy from my in-laws and have loved everything I’ve tried thus far.  With each recipe, Wolfgang tries to bring the big, complex flavors of restaurant cuisine to the home cook with his own tricks of the trade.

When I first made this recipe, I used top sirloin and because I don’t keep port on hand, I reached for the merlot.  I couldn’t be happier with the results.  Pan sauces really work wonders for seared meats.  The basic method is to first sear your meat on both sides in a super hot pan that’s been drizzled with a bit of oil.  If you have a pan that isn’t nonstick, USE IT.  You’ll get a much better sear this way.  Once nicely browned on each side, the meat is removed to a plate and the pan deglazed.  This is done by pouring in a liquid–in this case, wine–and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon.  These little bits, also called fond, are full of flavor.  Plus, by doing this simple step, you’ll actually be making your clean-up much easier.  No crusty pan to scour later!  Once deglazed, other ingredients are added, such as cream, herbs, butter, or other seasonings to create a delicious sauce for serving.  Trust me, though it may seem like a little extra work, you’ll not only save on the clean-up but you’ll also impress anyone at the table that night.

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Basil-Crusted Salmon

This is, hands-down, my favorite salmon preparation.  I first had this while doing an apprenticeship at Restaurant Zoe in downtown Seattle.  French-trained and passionate for Pacific Northwest fare, Scott Staples–owner and Executive Chef–creates a menu like none other.  If you ever find yourself hungry in the Emerald City, I highly recommend both the atmosphere and the food.

But back to the recipe!  Like I said, I love this prep.  The sauteed salmon alone offers a deliciously crisp exterior to contrast the moist interior, but the fresh basil crust sends it over the top.  Added bonus?  This is super quick and easy to make, especially if your salmon is already skinned and filleted for you.  Another tip:  To create perfect chiffonade of fresh basil, stack your leaves and then roll them up tightly.  Use your knife to make thin slices from one of the rolled up ends; when the basil unfurls, you’ll have perfect little ribbons of basil for your salmon.

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