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“Chef in the Vineyard”: fresh and simple recipes from great wine estates

Chef in the Vineyard by John SarichAt yesterday’s IFBC kick-off event at Ste. Michelle, we were each given a copy of John Sarich’s fifth book “Chef in the Vineyard”.  Beautifully photographed, the book is a visual tour through Sarich’s ten favorite wineries.  With over 140 recipes, each is complemented with the author’s wine recommendations.  The recipes are easy and make great use of Pacific Northwest ingredients.  On first go through, I loved the history and information that John shared about each winery.  This is a man who clearly loves what he does and his passion is evident through his writing.  I can’t wait to immerse myself in his recipes and pairings.  From experience (I have John’s other four books), his recipes are easy to make, use readily available ingredients, are extremely flavorful and great to share with family and friends.  His pairings are usually spot on for my palate.  With more cookbooks on my shelves than I like to admit to, this is a welcome addition and I suspect will become a cooking staple.

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Inspired by Barbara Fairchild – A Weighty Look at Decades of Desserts

One of author Barbara Fairchild’s first answers during a Q and A session at Grand Central Bakery, where she introduced her new book Bon Appetit Desserts, was that her weighty tome tips the scales at a whopping 8 pounds.  She also pointed out that if you purchased two books, you could use them as literary barbells to help work off the weight you would gain by cooking through the recipes.  Well Barbara – you were right.  This book will send you straight to the gym, as it contains so many great recipes culled from the magazine’s archives.

Barbara is a delightful, down to earth woman, who will be stepping down as Editor in Chief of one of America’s favorite cooking magazines, after 30 years.  The word has come down from on high that the editorial offices are moving from Los Angeles back to New York and Barbara has decided to stay put.   However, she is justifiably proud of this book which has recipes for just about any sweet you can imagine and is bound to become a staple in many kitchens.

During the evening, we sampled our way though treats as basic as classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (p.530) to a Chocolate Caramel Sliced Cookie  (p.602) topped with sea-salt that will be joining my holiday repertoire.  There was an amazing Lemon and Pistachio Praline Meringue Torte (p.166) that normally wouldn’t have called to me, but once I took a bite I couldn’t put my fork down.

Many of the recipes are ones that I remember from the 30 years that I have subscribed to Bon Appetit.  Some I wish I had saved and are now found thanks to this book, and others are snippets buried in files that I can now toss.  During the evening, Barbara shared reader’s comments, focusing at one point on a cake that had been on the cover in the 1980’s and been a clear reader favorite:  the Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons.  OMG – do I ever remember that cake!  It became a legend in our household.  Many moons ago, it was the day of the first dinner party my hubby and I ever had.  THE CAKE was on the cover of Bon Appetit and I decided to blow everyone away by making it for dessert.  8 hours later, and a scant hour before company was to arrive, I finished.  Great – but had I started any other part of the dinner – no.  My husband dashed to the store to pick-up a pre-roasted chicken and some other pre-cooked items in a valiant attempt to salvage the party, his tearful very stressed out wife, and the evening.  Many lessons were learned that night….

Bon Appetit Desserts is priced at $40 and includes a years subscription to the magazine with purchase.  It would make a wonderful holiday gift for aspiring to experienced cooks.   Let me know what you think and your recipe favorites!





Food Photos by Norma Rosenthal; Barbara Fairchild & Norma taken by Alicia Arter.

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Foraging in the Kitchen

It’s a fall night and as always, around 5 pm, the talk is dinner.  As my husband is from Southern California, he loves to barbecue and is totally undaunted by the weather (neighbors once rushed over during a snow fall to tell us our house was on fire, only to end up staying for paella right off the grill).  However, we’ve done steaks, ribs, chicken and fish all summer and are restless, looking for something different and are way too tired from a long work week to venture out.  Pizza, he is murmuring.  Oh yah, I’m right on top of it.  From my foggy memory banks I remember that there is some extra dough I froze when recipe testing for Tamara Murphy’s new book – Tender: Farmer’s, Cooks, Eaters, so I pull it out of the icy depths and start scouring the fridge and pantry for ingredients.  Mister Skeptic worries that the dough will either ooze between the grating or bake itself onto it, becoming a ruinous cement mess.  I point out that the recipe says it will be easy to flip, and slide right off.  He does have a healthy respect for the written word (even if he does raise one brow and get me to swear I’ll help scrub if disaster befalls), so we get to work.  With Tamara’s recipe as a base, instead of foraged mushrooms, we have foraged kitchen pizza.  An hour later (the dough defrosted fairly quickly in the warm kitchen), we are sitting down to something hot, crusty and while far from symmetrical, definitely one darn good pizza.  Already under discussion as we eat away are less coals in the Weber as it was a tad too hot, the taste possibilities of adding wood chips like mesquite, seasonal toppings, and how to adapt this into a flat bread to accompany a grilled meat and veggie future dinner.  There is also the dawning realization that a stash of frozen dough should become a kitchen staple, ready to take out at a moment’s notice, should last-minute company appear.  Who would of “thunk”?

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Growing Up with Gourmet

Gourmet has been a part of my life for so long…and a part that I have always taken very much for granted, that the magazine’s demise seems almost surreal.  When I was in my 20’s and learning to cook, I would spend hours trying to replicate the mouthwatering cover image by slavishly following each detail of the recipe.  As time went on and I became more experienced in the kitchen (and had less time as the mother of two young, very active daughters), my secret pleasure was to curl up after everyone was in bed and comb every issue for ideas.  From the confidence and cooking savvy gained, I had graduated into the experimental stage.  As years went by, I adapted recipes that became family staples.

Gourmet also fed the passion for travel that my parents had instilled in me.  It transported me to faraway places when my husband and I were unable to get away due to work.  And when we could take a trip, hoarded back “Collector’s” issues became an insider’s guide to Paris, Italy and such.

And then there was (it seems so sad to use the past tense!) the Thanksgiving issue.  When we moved back to Seattle a year ago, I had to sort through years of past Gourmets as my husband pointed out that the moving van was charging us by the pound.  However, I refused to give up my stash of turkey-centric issues and schlepped them back across the country with us.  Always anticipated, always the inspiration for the ever rotating “new dish” that we tried each year to add a little punch to our feast, it will leave a little hollow in our holiday tradition.

Like everyone else, I now often try to save time by surfing for recipes on the web when I’m in a hurry.  But I’m also old-fashioned enough (or just plain old enough) to still get that thrill of anticipation when a new issue of a coveted magazine arrives in the mail.  There’s nothing like curling up with beautiful photos, thoughtful writing and new twists on classic ingredients with journal in hand as well as visuals and commentaries to stimulate creativity and dreams.   Life goes on, but I have to weigh in and say, Gourmet, you will be missed.

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Welcome to Funtastic Foodie.  I hope you’ll find everything you need to delight your culinary interests.

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