Thursday, February 13, 2014

Heart Salad for Your (Sweet) Heart

I love chocolate as much as the next gal, probably more, but holidays like V-day really bring on the sugar to the point it gets a little gross. The last thing I want to feel is bloated on one of the guaranteed days of nookie, am I right ladies? Here is a romantic salad that will make your heart feel loved.

Grilled Eggplant and Heart Pepper Salad

1 eggplant, sliced in rings
1/3 cup Pomace or other cooking olive oil (not extra virgin)
Kosher salt
2 red peppers, cut into hearts
Salad greens for two
Feta or goat cheese, 3 ounces

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large lemon
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and fresh cracked pepper

  • An hour before your meal, cut eggplant into rings. Drizzle olive oil and evenly sprinkle 2-3 pinches of  kosher salt. Toss to evenly coat. The salt will firm up the eggplant, while the oil will have time to soak in.
  • Cut out hearts from red peppers using the natural curves of the ends to be the curves of the heart. I usually get two large hearts per pepper.
  • If using charcoal, start your coals. If using gas, preheat your grill 30 minutes before your meal. When grill is hot, at a medium high heat, grill eggplant rings on both sides until they soften but don't fall apart. Set apart to cool.
  • Grill peppers just enough to caramelize a little, but not so much to char or shrivel the heart shape. (Shriveling being generally not desired on Valentine's Day...)
  • Cut lemons and squeeze fresh, add olive oil, dried herbs and salt and pepper. Dress salad greens and crumble cheese. Top with grilled eggplant and heart-shaped peppers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Love Me Tenderloin

This year I have two Valentine's Day recipes for you. After all, it is the holiday that espouses two is better than one.

The first is up on Char-broil and is divine anytime of year. It's a grilled tenderloin seasoned with a love potion. That's right. A bonafide* love potion that really works. If you doubt me, you should know that because of my Bloody Mary post, the Seahawks won the Super bowl, so that practically proves it right there. But if you need more proof, I would suggest you try the recipe. At the very least you'll have made a delicious pork tenderloin drizzled with a Cabernet reduction sauce, garnished with winter harvest grilled pears and pomegranate seeds.

If your loved one doesn't appreciate a dinner like that, then maybe he or she isn't the one. Ya know?

Read the whole recipe here.

*by the way, spellcheck doesn't think "bonafide" is a real word and wants to change it to either "debonaire" or "bonehead" which are often the same thing. On Valentine's Day, I would suggest you are neither. Just be yourself, use my love potion, and see what happens.

PS: I'll post the second recipe tomorrow.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Give Love for Hope Auction

For Valentine's week, how about give some love for hope? The Hope Project, that is, and a little love to this local non-profit goes a long way.

What is the Hope Project?
The Hope Project built Hope International School in Gardnersville, Liberia. It was started by Washington families who had adopted children from the same war-torn town. Two of them are friends of mine, and I love that this is a local non-profit, with a local story, that reaches half way across the globe to help families with so little. We are one big connected community.

Our friends started The Hope Project, one of the only free schools in Liberia, because when they asked the town community leaders what they needed most, the answer was emphatic, "A school!" 

To do so, they first had to build a water and a sewage system, then they literally built the school out of the ashes of war. The school now has 1200 students and their first graduating class this year!  Read more about their story here.

We are raising funds with a small auction on-line for Valentine's Day. It takes so little to make a difference - a teacher's salary is only $100 per month, books for each children a fraction of what it costs here. 95% of your donation goes directly to the school! They have future plans to get this school to be self sustaining and a strong community backing that ensures it's success.

Please check out the auction hereor consider giving even a little to this project. It is dear to my heart. There are some local items, like a catering from Smokin' Pete's BBQ, but also plenty of items that can be mailed anywhere in the US. 
Read all about the Hope Project, Liberia, and how we are all a part of this story.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Kick Before Kick Off: It's Bloody Mary Time!

I can't tell you how ready I am for today. I'm celebrating two major events: The Seahawks in the Super bowl and the end of 10 years of my restaurant.

That second one is a doozy. I have vastly mixed emotions. On one hand I am thrilled to be starting something new. I am proud that we have built our catering business enough to walk on its own. But ending a chapter is always bittersweet. So many things I'd have done differently. So many sweet customers I'll miss.

We have such a dear crew, E3 and Falcon, Justin and Ron, Carl, Chai, Bruce, Razzle Dazzle....and too many past employees/friends that I can't even begin to list (and honestly quite a few I'd like to forget). I don't tell them enough how much they mean to me. On the contrary....I was a real bitch on Friday. I laid into someone who was late and realized later that he got it for every employee that has ever been late in the past ten years. It was like a tidal wave of anger coming out of me. So sorry guys. You know it's because I care, right? I wish you all success and happiness.

I am looking forward to some quieter moments in life. The past ten years have been a sprint and while the race may be fun for a while, when it has no end it isn't a life.

A lot of people have multiple restaurants with bustling catering businesses, so it apparently can be done and even done well. I simply can't do it and be healthy and happy. I'm not wired to stop. When I got made, they forgot to put in an off button. I have to force myself to stop by pulling the plug at the source. When I'm home at night with the kids, I can't turn off the fact that my business is operating. A part of me is still operating with it, worrying about it, wondering about it.

Obviously I don't go on every catering and there are plenty of times that the catering business is going on without me. But there will be some times, enough times when it will stop, turn off, when I go home.

I'll drink to that.

Gawd, Julie, This was supposed to be a post about celebrating and drinking, not a tell-all of my psychosis. I'm totally crying right now. And laughing.

So here, my friends, is a recipe for a breakfast Bloody Mary. It's garnished with a breakfast sandwich to give us a little non-liquid sustenance as we gather for the big game.

Read the recipe here. If you are in Seattle, come on down and watch the game at Pete's or stop buy before or after. Eric and I will be there slinging pork.

Peace out.