This is one of those dishes that I often cook when I cannot be arsed to do a lot of cooking. Sounds strange? Not really. I love cooking, absolutely love it. It is a great contrast to my day job. Sometimes however, after a long day, you just want some food that tastes pretty decent, and you want it fast. Rather than running down to the closest MSG factory (take-out..), this is something I often cook up. You can pretty much guarantee that you have all the ingredients hanging around, and even if you don’t, substitutions work fine. Frozen shrimp defrosted work fine here. This is no fancy dish, just basic food that is satisfying.
Whenever I am not quite sure what to cook, some how we always end up with a stir fry. Nothing wrong with that of course, but well, everyone needs a change sometimes. Stir fry’s are great, they can use up a ton of stuff in your fridge, that would otherwise go bad, and they take no time to cook what so ever. So, I wanted something that would use up a few things, not take long to cook, and be pretty light.. Today was a hot day, and we never seem to want to eat that much when it is hot.
Ahhh, pizza night! This is becoming an almost weekly tradition with Danika and I. We have been experimenting for a while with different toppings, and this is one of our favourites. We first off tried a pizza with a traditional reduced tomato sauce base, but found it pretty heavy, especially in hot weather. Thankfully our favorite is also our simplest. I love it when that happens!
The base is just roma tomatoes, covering the dough. On top is some slices of mozzarella. Scattered over this is a great array of sliced piquillo peppers, sweet onion and prosciutto. This is topped off with some fresh herbs, a little olive oil, and some salt and pepper. We have found that baking the pizza base in the oven before adding the toppings makes for a good crisp base, especially since our terrible oven cannot compete with a pro pizza oven in temperature. Just 8 minutes at 500, and it comes out dead perfect. A few fresh herbs, and a little more olive oil, and we are good to eat!
What a perfect day for scallops. For some reason they always remind me of summer, and today was a great summers day. I wagged of work today to spend more time with Danika and Drake, and couldn’t have picked a better day for it. A stroll was definitely in order, and a great one it was. We took a leisurely walk through our neighborhood, looking at houses, and talking about those we liked, and of course those that we could make look so much better if we owned them! The hot summer sun led us into Fuel, and a mellow 20 mins on their shaded back patio with an iced mocha. Things like this just make the summer perfect. People were out in their gardens, tidying thing up, and everyone seemed in a great mood. One thing I love about living where we do (and WA in general it seems) is that everyone for the most part enjoys a chat. We passed a house that we nearly bought a year ago, and saw the new owner there with her 12month old son. Of course, baby talk ensued, and then we went on our way. Just a very pleasant moment in a wonderful walk. Drake slept for most of it.. and I thought what a wonderful life that would be.. Someone pushes you around in a stroller.. you are covered from direct sun, but just nice and warm. You can look around, and just slowly drift off to sleep.
It isn’t often that I pick halibut over salmon, but we had eaten salmon a fair bit the last couple of days, so we felt like a change, and the halibut at Madison Market looked pretty decent. This leads me on to Madison Market’s fish counter… if you don’t have time, or it is too late in the day to run down to Mutual Fish (my favorite fishmongers by a country mile), MM has a reasonable fish counter. It might not be the cheapest around, but it is generally good and fresh. Anyhow, back to the food..
Matthew Amster-Burton, the Seattle food writer has been a big help in the refinement of Wrightfood, and this blog. His suggestions have been great, and most have been implemented. Who is he? You can find a link to his great blog in my blogroll.
A great midweek meal invention! A even more wonderful since this is the first WFD post. The tuna is a wonderful fresh yellowfin, that is grilled on all sides, and then cut into slices. The avocado cream is a mix of avocado, wasabi, and a little organic whipping cream. The cucumber wrapped rice.. Simply sushi rice, mixed with a little seasoned rice wine vinegar. The cucumber is thinly sliced with a Japanese mandolin. The rice is stuffed into the cucumber. The salad is a mix of thinly sliced red and green cabbage, bok choy, enoki mushrooms. A simple dressing for the salad is a mix of soy sauce, freshly grated ginger and seasoned rice wine vinegar, oh, and a few sesame seeds.
I cook. I cook a lot. But I honestly don’t share that much of what I cook. For every dish that I consider good enough for the book, at least 10 don’t make it.. maybe 20. But there is some good food there, that is still tasty, but maybe not that different enough for a book.
It came to mind that it could be fun to share it all. Good recipes, and not so good recipes. Intimate weekend feasts, and fast weekday meals. Quick lunches, and more obscure experiments.
So WFD is born. Everything I cook is going to get posted on this site. Whether it is a 2 hour cookfest, or a quick midweek stirfry of left over vegetables.. It is all going to be on here. It is going to help me keep new content going on this blog too!
So without further ado.. back to the kitchen! yay.
Life in Seattle for an Englishman. I have been here 5 years now and it feels like home. What makes it home? Home to me can never be having my family close. They live in England. I haven’t come up with a way yet to make that closer…. It certainly helps having a great wife, a child, and her parents close (who are thankfully wonderful.. I honestly have some of the best in-laws around.. good job really, they are only 20 minutes away, and love our new son Drake!!).. But home is certainly more than that. For a place to feel like home, I need some familiarities. You need to know where you favorite tea and coffee shop is. Your favorite bakery. Your favorite grocery store, and farmers market. I need to know where at 5:30pm on a Sunday I can get a decent cut of fish for an evening BBQ that I forgot about. I need to have a favorite place to go jogging and unwind. The environment – this is huge.. I don’t enjoy desert like temperatures, and desert like scenery. No, Seattle is pretty close to England in terms of weather, although the scenery is remarkably different (pine trees! lots and lots of pine trees), but also somewhat similar (Washington Park Arboretum). As important as this are obviously the people. The US to me has a huge cross section of people, all with different attitudes, beliefs and ways of life. Thankfully, the way of life in Seattle suits me just fine. I tried southern California, and it wasn’t for me.. Too fast paced, too hot. Everyone wanted to be an actor (where I was anyhow). No thanks.
So there are some questions I get asked a lot… “What are the differences?” is one. Well.. we drink more tea. History, culture, architecture. All very different. The complete way of life is different. America to me seems very “big business”. Chains are king, and the little guys have to be very inventive to stay in business. The UK seems to have more of the little guys, and I certainly miss that in a way. I love the people over here. I can honestly say that in the 5 years here I have met very very few people that rubbed me up the wrong way. Everyone I meet seems to be happy, and really interested in where I am from, and what I am doing here. That is one thing I love about the US, people seem genuinely interested in your background.
One great example of this was during my first drive over to Montana, from Seattle. The drive is about 7 hours, and was the first time I was going over to meet Danika’s family. She had been over there for a week, spending time with the “girls” (her female relatives). Each year they have “girls week” where all of her mum’s sisters, and her get together for a week in a cabin or something, and just plain hang out. I was driving over to meet them all after this week away. So anyhow, this was the longest lone drive I had done here in the US, and by the time I reached Montana it was getting dark. I pull into a gas station, just of the I90, for a break. I am standing by my car, when a pickup pulls up, somewhat worst for wear, and an old guy hops out. He needs a break, and the bathroom, and asks me to keep an eye on his truck for me, he was having to leave it running, otherwise it might not start again. Sure! I said… thinking it was kinda odd that someone I didn’t know asked me to look after his truck. I guess I must have a honest looking face or something.
So.. he comes back after a few minutes, and hands me a water that he had bought for me. That’s nice I thought, and we got chatting. It turns out that he had been a fighter pilot during WW2, and was stationed only 20 minutes away from my old home in England. 30 minutes went by of us chatting, and then we both went on our way.
It was exactly what I needed then. A break, a decent conversation with someone, after being alone for 6 hours. And it struck me that in all the years I have lived in England, that has NEVER happened to me.. and I think it never would have done over there.
So I finally get to where I am staying.. With an uncle of Danika’s. I have neve met him before, never talked to him before. And again, another amazingly welcoming person. I instantly felt at home. I got a decent meal, and strong coffee. Danika’s father was there too, and we just sat in the kitchen of this tiny house in Montana, chatting and eating. Great times.
Some things I miss – the old architecture. I lived in a house that was over 500 years old. Yep.. older than the US. I have a huge passion for architecture, and I do miss the european buildings. I miss the countryside too. England has lots of it.. and it is all very green, very fertile. No scary bears either.. we got rid of all those ages ago. We have public walking paths that cover the countryside. These cut through farmland, forests, hills, you name it. A perfect Sunday is a nice sunny walk for 10 miles along these paths, through the countryside. Stop at a country pub for lunch, have a pie and beer, and walk home. Take a friend, set the world to rights. Yep. I grew up in the country, and miss it dearly. Not knocking the northwestern landscape, I love it to death too.. I just miss my English one also.
“Your too skinny to be a good cook” Not my favorite question. Not by a mile. You don’t have to be chunky to cook good food. I prefer clean, well balanced food, that is good for the body. Nothing funky.. no dodgy diets that cut out major food groups. Just clean, real food. If I end up the size of a house, I am certainly doing something wrong.
“You talk funny, where are you from?”.. I get that all the time. Or as one chap at a newstand in California said, in his best Australian accent (he was an American) “so what is it I say to ya, is it g’day or what?”. Bless.
WOW.. my first fathers day. Drake is now 6 months. Crazy crazy stuff. In true Danika fashion, I don’t just get one fathers day.. I get a three day extravaganza. Works for me
Started out with a trip to the Aquarium, for some time with Drake. Yeah, I know, he is only 6 months and doesn’t know the difference between all the scary sharks.. butwe had a great time, and he loved the fish (or that is what we are telling ourselves..)
After that – some shopping at City Kitchens.. They just happen to be having a great sale on Shun knives. I own some Global and Whusthof, but have lasted after Shun for quite a while now. A 8″ left handed (yes, I am a loony lefty..) classic seemed to fit rather well. This thing is incredible.. rediculously sharp, and great to hold.
Finally, ended up with dinner at Crush. First time there, and just loved the food. It is funny though, when we walked in, I initially thought “OK.. this could either be REALLY good food (like I had heard), or just some pretentious rubbish”. Thankfully, the food was great, and the company (Danika) was awesome. We had a great time.. thanks to the grandparents for babysitting!
It is pretty much official.. I don’t have green fingers. I want to have, but I just don’t. Perhaps it is that I am crazy busy, but it is most likely that I am just forgetful. Plants tend to die with me. I forget about them, and they die of lack of water. I don’t forget about them, and they die from too much water. Thankfully Danika (my wife) is far better with all of these aspects (plants and memory, she is still ridiculously busy!), so we have decided to try and grow some Tomatoes this year.
A trip to Ballard farmers markets yielded the goods. All organic Brandy Wine (Heirloom) and Stupice tomatoes, along with some worm tea, to feed the little blighters. They have been growing for a month or so now, and we have 5 green tomatoes on them. Course, if this ridiculous Seattle summer continues, I am sure we will get nothing more than that. Anyhow, we think they are doing rather well. We have a decent south facing wall, and when the sun is out, they get their fair share.
Any suggestions on growing tomatoes would be most useful.. We honestly don’t have much of a clue!!
OK.. first and last time I ham it up for this.. I have been working on this book for what seems like ages now. I am finally at a stage where I can start showing off what we have created. If anyone can help (or knows anyone that can..) get this published, marketted, and in the hands of everyone, everywhere, I would love to hear from them! In the mean time checkout www.mattikaarts.com/wrightfood for more information on the book.
Yep.. I have finally got around to starting the blog. The wrightfood website is done (www.mattikaarts.com/wrightfood), 12 recipes are complete. Time to start the blog! The idea here is to document my culinary travels around Seattle and further a field! Enjoy, and post a shed load of comments!