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So before moving to the Pacific Northwest, we lived in the Southwest. I am not a fan of Southwest cuisine to put it mildly. But I did take the time to learn how to make a lot of it and to learn how the flavors went together since everyone else seemed to be a fan of it. This soup is a product of that.

I sometimes throw roasted corn into this soup as well, but sadly, good corn season has come and gone, so I passed this time around. I made this soup for my progressive dinner club this weekend (in case you haven’t figured it out, we had the soup course). Poblano’s are pretty mild chilies so most people can handle them, even the wimps. They add nice flavor depth and a little kick to heat you up on those chilly Fall nights. 😉

Roasted Poblano and Chicken Chowder

1 ½ pounds chicken breast, cooked, diced into bite size pieces
2 TBSP olive oil
1 cup carrots, peeled, small dice
½ cup celery, small dice
1 cup yellow onion, small dice
1 ½ TBSP minced garlic
2 large roasted Poblano chilies, seeded, small dice
¼ tsp dried thyme
1 ½ tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
9 cups chicken stock
1 TSBO hot sauce (like Tabasco)
½ cup unsalted butter
¾ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups heavy whipping cream

In a large stock pot heat oil and add carrots, celery, chilies, and onions. Saute for approximately 5-6 minutes. Until the onions start to become a little translucent.

Add garlic, thyme, cumin, and white pepper. You wont need salt for this soup because of all the chicken stock. If you are using low sodium chicken stock, you may want to add salt as well. Saute for another 3 minutes.

Pour in chicken stock and add hot sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 12-14  minutes.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once butter has melted, sprinkle the flour into the butter. Stir with a wooden spoon continually for 3 minutes. You are not looking to make a brown roux, but you do want to cook the flour taste out before adding to the stock.

Whisk roux into the soup and let cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the prepared chicken to the soup, as well as the cream. Cook until every thing is heated through. Serve hot. Top with cheese. Onion. More chilies. Bacon. Whatever you want basically.

So it is no secret that my husband is a picky eater. And more than that we pretty much have different tastes. Completely. So many a night I end up make separate items for dinner. His meal usually involves ground beef, and mine is usually vegetarian.

I love quiche but fear having a whole giant one to myself. So I started awhile back making them in individual dishes. I love these quiche dishes that I one over at Joelen’s Culinary Adventures. I had a couple of options to chose from but went with the quiche dishes, so glad I did. They have really come in handy. Plus, I think they are great for luncheons.

This quiche originated quite a while ago. I had made some pear, walnut, and blue cheese foccacia bread and had leftovers. I decided, what the heck and threw it into a quiche. And loved it. Have been making it ever since. I thought I had blue cheese in the house and did not, so this time around I used goat cheese. It goes nicely, but I love goat cheese as much as blue. Either version is lovely and is a nice change to the standard vegetarian quiche.

Pear, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Quiche for Two

cream cheese pie crust recipe (follows)
custard filling recipe (follows)
1 pear, your choice what kind, cut into sections with skin on
1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles (or more if you really like cheese)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Cream Cheese Pie Crust

½ cup all-purpose flour
3 TBSP unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 12 cubes
4 TBSP cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp apple cider
2 tsp honey

Preheat oven to 350F.

Using a food processor, add together all the ingredients. Pulse until it comes together in a ball.

Divide into two discs. Wrap into plastic wrap and place in fridge for 30  minutes.

Remove from fridge and roll out one disc on lightly floured surface to 1/8 of an inch. Lay and shape into either individual quiche dish or mini pie dish. Cut off excess dough. Repeat with second disc.

Top the crust with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Custard mixture:
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.

To make the quiches:

Divide the pear, walnut and goat cheese in half. Layer ½ the pear slices in one crust, and ½ in the other. Sprinkle ½ of the walnuts over the pears and do the same with the other one. Sprinkle ½ of the goat cheese crumbles over the pears and walnuts and do the same with the other one.

Pour half of the custard over the pears, walnuts, and goat cheese filling. Pour the remaining half into the other crust. You should have just enough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the middle doesn’t giggle anymore. Serve with a nice salad.

This is a nice little appetizer to serve for the holiday weekend. Every thing can be made ahead of time so it is super easy. Vegetarians can enjoy these as well…just leave off the roast beef part. 🙂

Artichoke Crostini with Roast Beef

10 ounces marinated artichoke hearts
1 garlic clove
3 TBSP white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

4 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced
1 ½ pounds thinly sliced roast beef
2 thin baguettes

Drain the artichoke hearts. Discard the liquid (unless you want to drink it or something). Place the artichoke hearts into a blender or food processor.

Add garlic, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Puree. Set aside.

Cut the baguettes into thin slices, getting about 32-38 slices depending on how you cut. If you cut uneven and badly like me then you need room to recover. 😉

Toast bread in oven under broiler for a few minutes until light golden brown. Watch to see that they don’t burn.

Spread each slice of bread with artichoke puree. Place a slice of Parmesan cheese followed by roast beef.

Hope everyone has a wonderful three day weekend!

 Now if you are a reader of my other blog then you know this is a repeat as well, though they are new photos. I got the Lowel EGO lights for Christmas and wanted to try them out. I was apprehensive about using lights at first but really like them and am pleased with the results.
I love this soup and felt it was worth putting up again. It’s my go to soup for entertaining. Do not skip the pear and bacon topping as that’s what really makes this soup sing.
Hope everyone has a wonderful 2009 and celebrates saying goodbye to 2008 in a safe manner!

Roasted Onion and Gorgonzola Soup

3 TBSP butter
2 large onions, large diced
2 small baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Gorgonozla cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP sugar
2 medium pears, peeled, diced
4 ounces bacon, fried and crumbled

Melt 3 TBSP of butter over medium heat.
Add onions and garlic, cook until onions are slightly wilted.
Add potatoes, stir to coat with butter. Cook 5 minutes.
Add stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft(about 30 minutes). Allow to cool slightly.
Puree soup in food processor.
Add cream and gently reheat soup.
Stir in cheese and adjust seasoning. If too thick, thin with stock.
Heat 1 TBSP butter over medium high heat.
Add pears and sprinkle with sugar. Saute until slightly caramelized.
Garnish soup with pears and bacon.

So here is another one that was originally on my other blog a last year. It’s a salad that I love to serve at dinner parties. Something about a poached pear that seems to wow people (though who knows why as they are super simple).
It’s extra nice this time of year as everything can be made ahead of time and then the salad can be put together last minute. Which with as busy as I have been sounds like a really good thing to me right about now.

Poached Pear Salad with Blue Cheese, Spiced Caramel Walnuts and Blackberry Jam Vinaigrette


Salad greens
poached pears(recipe follows)
blackberry jam vinaigrette(recipe follows)
spiced caramel walnuts(recipe follows)
blue cheese( however much you like)

Poached Pears

2 ripe Green Anjou pears, cut in half and cored
1 ½ cups Pinot Gris(I used A to Z from here in the PNW)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Port wine
2 whole cloves

Bring wines, sugar and cloves to a boil(making sure the sugar dissolves) and then bring to a simmer. Poach pears for 15 minutes. Remove ¾ cup of the liquid and reserve. Leave the pears in the liquid while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Blackberry Jam Vinaigrette

¾ cup poaching liquid from the pears
2 TBSP cider vinegar
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp garlic
¼ cup blackberry jam

Cook reserved pear liquid(make sure no cloves are in there) until reduced by half. In a blender or Cuisinart mix reduction with blackberry jam, vinegar, garlic and some salt to taste. While blender is running, slowly add the oil.

Spiced Caramel Walnuts

1 cup walnuts
½ cup sugar
½ tsp chile powder
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp sea salt

Combine sugar with the spices. Place into a saucepan and turn on medium heat. Watch carefully to see the sugar start to caramelize around the edges of the pan. When that happens throw in the walnuts and stir. When they are coated in caramel spread onto a pan that has been covered in parchment paper. Once it is completely cooled, break into pieces.

To put the salad together:
 Place a little bit of vinaigrette onto the bottom of the plate(this insures that the bottom greens get some of the good stuff too). Slice poached pear half in half. The slice each quarter and fan out placing it in the middle of the greens. Garnish with walnuts and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle desired amount of vinaigrette.


Before I really focused my blog other blog on baking I would randomly put recipes up that didn’t exactly fit. I figured I would highlight some of those recipes over here as it does fit better with the PNW theme.

This dip is one of those recipes. I love it so and bring it to many a pot luck or just make it for myself and eat it as a meal while I watch hockey.

Make sure you use a sharp cheddar (I always use Tillamook) and a beer with a little kick (this is not the time for Bud Light here people).

Cheddar Ale Spread

8 oz cream cheese

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 ½ cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (I used Tillamook)

2 TBSP heavy cream

¼ tsp Tabasco sauce

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup flavorful Northwest beer( I used Redhook)

2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley

½ cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, Cheddar, cream, Tabasco, and salt in a food processor. Process for about 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley and hazelnuts until just dispersed.

Can be stored in fridge for up to 4 days. You will want to take it out an hour before serving if you do refridgerate.

Overnight Rosemary Semolina Flat Bread

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 cup warm water(110F), plus more if needed

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 ½ cups flour, plus more for dusting

2 TBSP finely chopped fresh rosemary

½ cup semolina

1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for topping

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and the 1 cup of water. Add the oil and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, rosemary, semolina and  a tsp of salt.

Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture, stirring with a large spoon to combine. Then, using clean hands and working in the bowl, mix until the dough comes together. If needed, add another 2 TBSP warm water and continue mixing dough into a a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 4 to 5 minutes.

Drizzle the bowl with ½ tsp oil and return the dough ball to the bowl, turning the dough to coat well with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night or for up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat an oven to 425F. Meanwhile, cut the dough into 8 wedges, then over with a damp towel and let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before rolling.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out each wedge into a 5 by 10 inch rectangle. Brush or drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Arrange on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy but not over browned.

Source: Adapted from Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table by Kathy Casey, 2006

The first time I served this at a party I was blown away by how quickly it went…and how annoyed people were that I didn’t have anymore of it. I mean really, it’s basically shrimp scampi combined with cream and cheeses…you know you want some.
Since the holiday season is rapidly approaching quicker than what I would like to admit I thought I would start featuring some holiday party fare.
The best thing about this dip, other than of course the flavors is that it can be prepared ahead of time 24 hours in advance. Which every hostess loves to hear.
This is best if kept warm, I usually just put it in my small crock pot on warm through out the evening.

Hot Scampi Dip

1 pound deveined, peeled raw shrimp
4 TBSP unsalted butter
1/3 cup minced shallots
3 TBSP minced garlic
3 TBSP dry white wine
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped green onions or chives
2/3 cup half-and-half
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces Fontina or White Cheddar Cheese, grated
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp chile flakes
2 tsp dried thyme
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
pepper to taste

Chop the shrimp.
Heat 3 TBSP of the butter in a saute pan to bubbling. Add the shallots and saute to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and saute, stirring, until pink and firm, about 4 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to loosen all of the pan juices. Set aside.
Combine the basil and green onion in a bowl.
Heat the half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Whisk in the cream cheese in chunks until well blended. Add the Fontina cheese and ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese by handfuls, whisking until thoroughly melted. Add the chile flakes, thyme, half of the green onion mixture and all of the cooked shrimp mixture. Whisk to blend and simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a ½ quart serving/baking dish. The dish can be completed through this stage and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 400F. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and drizzle with remaining TBSP of melted butter. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until browned and bubbling. Served sprinkle with remaining green onion mixture.

This also goes really well on top of pasta. Just skip the pouring into a baking dish and toss with some prepared pasta. Yum.

Adapted from Cooking for Company by Nicole Aloni

I first had quince paste at a friends house at a dinner party. It was part of the cheese plate. I looked at it thinking, why is there gum drops with the cheese. Since they were from New Zealand, it thought it was something they did. It is, except there are not gum drops, they are a delish fruit paste that goes fantastic with cheese.
Just like anytime you use quince, you have to cook this down in order to for it to be palatable. All the quince paste I have ever seen has been a dark red, I am not sure how I ended up with a pink-orange color that literally glows. Radioactive quinces perhaps. 😉 I kid, in fact, thanks once again to Elle for sending me quinces since I have yet to find any around here.
Are there any Seattle area people who know where I can find quinces here?

Quince Paste

4 medium quinces (about 2 pounds total)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
2 to 3 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 1-quart terrine.

Scrub quinces and pat dry. In a small roasting pan bake quinces, covered with foil, in middle of oven until tender, about 2 hours, and transfer pan to a rack. When quinces are cool enough to handle, with a sharp knife peel, quarter, and core them.

In a food processor puree pulp with 1/4 cup water until smooth (if mixture is too thick, add remaining 1/4 cup water a little at a time, as needed). Force puree through a large fine sieve into a liquid cup measure and measure amount of puree. Transfer puree to a 3-quart heavy saucepan and add an equivalent amount of sugar.

Cook quince puree over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened and begins to pull away from side of pan, about 25 minutes. Pour puree into terrine, smoothing top with an offset spatula, and cool. Chill puree, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until set, about 4 hours.

Run a thin knife around sides of terrine and invert quince paste onto a platter. (Quince paste keeps, wrapped well in wax paper and then plastic wrap and chilled, 3 months.)

Slice paste and serve with cheese ( I love it with Manchego) and crackers.

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, January 1998

There are two things I usually have to try at a restaurant. One is bread pudding. The other is lobster bisque. Though I am much picker about where I order my lobster bisque from (no Red Lobster version for me).
Lobster has come down in price as of late (at least in my area) and so I thought I would make a bowl of it for myself at home. There is some work involved, especially since you make your own stock but it gives it a nice flavor.

Lobster Bisque

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tsp tomato paste
8 ounces unsalted butter
1-1/2 lbs Maine lobster
32 ounces water
2 cups heavy cream
2 bay leaves
½ cup dry sherry
Salt and pepper to taste

Steam lobster in water until done, about 8 minutes. Save stock. Remove lobster meat from shell; set aside. Break up lobster shells, then place them back into the water; simmer over low heat until reduced by half.
Heat half the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and celery and saute until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add bay leaf, tomato paste and sherry and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half.
Add cream and lobster stock and simmer over low heat (Do not boil.) for 30 to 40 minutes or until soup begins to thicken.
Season with salt and pepper. Remove lobster shells and bay leaves. Chop up lobster meat and add to bisque. Stir in remaining butter.
Serve hot with a little crème fraiche and fresh chives.

One of the difficult aspects of food photography and writing is that often you have to write about food that at the time, is out of season. This July was no exception… I had to write about apples. Now lucky for me apples are a year round crop, but we all know that apples mean Fall.
I tried desperately to get into the Fall mood, but it was ever so hard when the temperature outside was 85F (though not as difficult as it was to do the Christmas cookie shoot in August!). I dragged out my Fall cookbooks (yes, my cookbooks are categorized by season as well as subject) to get some inspiration.
For the appetizer I looked no further than my own baking blog. I had a Blue Cheese Cheesecake with Onion Pear Jam that I wheel out every holiday season. It’s always a tremendous hit and so I thought I would play with that recipe to go better with the flavors of apples. What I got was a Manchego Cheesecake with Apple Onion Jam. The salty cheesecake plays nicely with the sweet and sour of the apple onion jam making your mouth a very happy camper.
This apple recipe, along with two others accompanies my article in the latest issue of Washington Travel and Life Magazine. If you are living in Washington State, you should be getting this magazine…after all, they were smart enough to hire me, eh?

Mini Manchego Cheesecakes with Apple Onion Jam
24 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3 oz shredded Asiago cheese
5 oz shredded dry jack cheese
8 oz shredded Manchego cheese
4 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp pepper

Grease a mini cheesecake pan, this can also be made as one large cheesecake using a 9-inch springform pan.
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream cheeses together until smooth.
Add eggs one at a time, beat for about 1 minute. Scrape down bowl after each egg addition. Add yolk and beat for an additional minute. Scrape down the bowl.
Add cream and pepper. Combine.
Pour batter into cheesecake pan.
Bake uncovered until golden brown and center is set. About 25-30 minutes for mini cheesecakes or 45-50 minutes for full size cheesecake.
Cool Completely, remove sides of pan.

Apple Onion Jam
3 cups Walla Walla onions, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 ¾ cup Gala apples(Fuji will work as well) peeled, chopped
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Saute onions in oil until brown. Reduce heat and cook until glazed.
Add apples, vinegar, sugar, cayenne and salt. Cook till apples are crispy tender.
Remove mixture and simmer juice until a thick glaze.
Mix apple onion mixture with glaze. Cool.
Add a tablespoon of jam to each mini cheesecake or spread mixture over the entire cheesecake if making the full size version.