Food

Stories related to food in Seattle, including Dick Stein and Nancy Leson's weekly commentary Food for Thought.

Nancy Leson

When the mercury rockets past 85 degrees, even I forgo pot roast — which is why I turned to Nancy Leson for some of her favorite hot-weather recipes. Vietnamese salad rolls are one of Nancy's hot weather go-tos. 

"For me, it's a whole dinner in itself and so easy to make," she said. "I buy a soft lettuce like a bibb, fresh herbs – cilantro, basil, mint.  I slice up cucumbers lengthwise and make little bowls full of chopped jalapeno, peanuts"

Nancy Leson

Julia Child introduced Americans to quiche Lorraine in her groundbreaking public TV show "The French Chef" in 1963.   Shortly after that, Bruce Feirstein mocked masculine stereotypes and created an enduring catch phrase with his book "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche."

Nancy Leson

When Nancy Leson told me about the time her young son Nate opened a little stand in front of their house selling vegetables from their backyard, I asked, "So as the tenant sharecropper on your land, did he hand over half the money he made?"  He did not.

Dick Stein

Wrong-way handles, and high-altitude deep fat drops are just a few of the kitchen safety topics Nancy "Band-aids are a girl's best friend" Leson and I took up on this week's Food for Thought.  All that and more -- plus a genius method for threading meat onto kebab skewers.

Nancy Leson

Africa was never on my bucket list, but after traveling with family and friends to Kenya and Tanzania this month, I hope it’s on yours. There are a million reasons why, and I told Stein only a handful of them (food related, of course!) this week on Food for Thought.

So, what was I doing there?

For years, our friends Emily and Aaron, a young Seattle couple who’ve lived, worked and traveled extensively on the continent, have been carrying on about how they’d love to introduce us to their favorite place on earth — East Africa.

Nancy Leson

The first recipe I tried from "Churrasco: Grilling the Brazilian Way" by chef Evandro Caregnato had nothing to do with grilling.  It was Moqueca De Peixe com Coco  (moh-KE-kah de pay-SHEE com Ko-ko); a seafood stew with coconut milk, peppers and onions.   How good was it?

Nancy leson

Since last week's Food for Thought was all about salt it seemed only right this week to ask Nancy Leson  “Where is the love for plain old black pepper?”  With all the exotic heat available today, black pepper doesn’t get the respect it should.  As Nancy points out, “Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice. Who among us doesn’t have black pepper in the house?”

True dat.  And we’re fortunate that it's so affordable today because once the stuff was rare and expensive enough to be called “black gold.”

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson loves the taste of Maldon sea salt.  I claim that what she loves is the texture.  She says "Some salts taste saltier than others."  I maintain that all salt tastes about the same, "It's all sodium chloride," differing only in mouth feel. 

Dick Stein / KPLU

Cochinita Pibil, the Yucatan-style roast pork is smoked and slow roasted in banana leaves.  My mistake was trying to smoke it in a gas grill.  After 30 minutes over max heat my little disposable aluminum tray of wood chips was barely scorched, let alone smoking.

N. Leson

"I do like to have a nice summer quaff," says Nancy Leson.  My Food for Thought pard goes on to explain that "At our house, what we drink in the summertime is really different than what we drink in the winter."  

What's that?  Read on, dear reader, if you would know.

Stein

Okay, maybe not "profit," exactly; but not all that "hard," either.  Plus, you could save a few bucks.

Recently, KPLU Promo Queen Brenda Goldstein-Young, chatting with me on a non-food related topic, asserted, "I live in hope." 

"Hope!" I scoffed. "The only thing left in Pandora's box after she released all those evils into the world"   I added, "Who but the Greeks could've come up with that one?"   Brenda said, "Yeah, but they sure make great yogurt."  Now so can you.

Nancy Leson; Dick Stein

Nancy Leson was so excited!  "I just came back from Goodwill with the definitive Chinese Cookbook!"   I recognized the title immediately.  I've been using that one since it hit the shelves in the '70s.

Nancy Leson

Recently, DeGroot and I shared a root beer float made with Tacoma's Ice Cream Social vanilla at the Crown Bar, right down the street.  We reflected on how simple and perfect a concoction that is. It got me thinking that some of the very best food preparations are the simplest.

When I mentioned this to Nancy Leson, she was quick to weigh in with some of her favorite simple preparations.

Dick Stein & Nancy Leson

Kitchen queen Nancy Leson claims that size does matter.  She thinks my tried and true sheetpan, pictured above, is (sob)...  inadequate.  Sheetpan snobbery, I calls it.  She'd never even have known had it not been for...

Nancy Leson

It's kind of a grab bag on this week's Food for Thought. 

Among other things, Nancy Leson and I chat about leek scapes.  She loved the store-bought ones she grilled the other day.  I (cough, cough) grow my own, but intend to follow her example very soon.  We also discuss a time-saving tweak to that homemade pastrami recipe seen here a while back. 

And we do some general grousing about how all the used-to-be cheap cuts of meat are now pricier than a slushy in hell. 

Nancy Leson

There's nothing I like better than spending a whole day or two working a complicated recipe.  I'm a little nuts that way.  But just as games with the simplest rules often have the most depth, sometimes the simplest recipes yield the the most flavor.

Nancy Leson's candidate comes from cookbook author Marcella Hazan.  Nance says it's "reputedly the world's simplest, most delicious sauce.  I really could not get over the complexity of flavor out of just three ingredients."

Stein

Call me quotidian, but one my favorite sandwiches is just a plain old ham and cheese.  I used to prefer thinly sliced ham, but now I want it thick.  That's because my H&C is both hot and cold at the same time.

Nancy Leson

Though its population, at a mere three million or so is relatively small, the language of Wales uses up as much as 80 percent of the world's supply of consonants. The Welsh national symbol is the leek.  Fortunately they’ve left plenty of those for the rest of us.

On this week’s Food for Thought learn how to grow new leeks from old.

Blue Apron

According to Kim Severson's New York Times story, it's a booming business: meal kits, delivered to your door — everything you need to make, say, heirloom potato and kale hash — or blood orange roasted salmon. 

Blue Apron is one of more than 100 companies delivering DIY dinners to the doors of thousands of Americans – neither Nancy Leson nor I among them.

Not only do we not subscribe to Blue Apron or its culinary compatriots, we don't even like the idea.

Shannon Dininny / AP Photo

Editor's note: This segment originally aired April 28, 2010.

Spring has finally arrived here in the Pacific Northwest and the signs are everywhere — flowers are blooming, birds are singing and lawnmowers are buzzing.

But for Dick Stein, it’s the arrival of Yakima asparagus at the local grocery store that proves to be the surest sign that winter is behind us.

Dick Stein / KPLU

Those in the know say that in another ten years tipping in restaurants will be a thing of the past.  Many eateries in the Seattle area have already abolished the practice. 

My Food for Thought co-conspirator, Nancy Leson, tells us that "Tom Douglas' restaurants, Renee Erikson's restaurants, El Gaucho, some of the Daniel's Broiler restaurants" have all gone no-tipping.  "Here in Seattle, Ivar's was one of the first restaurants to go no-tipping," she said.

Abolishing restaurant tipping may seem an extreme idea, but it's just biz as usual in at least 20 other countries.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot

Nancy Leson brought me a bag of Nash's Organic triticale flour, "grown and milled on their farm," she told me "on the Olympic Peninsula."

Triticale was a word from the past, I told her.  As far as I knew, it was just 25th Century alien chow as in Star Trek's "The Trouble With Tribbles" episode.   Non-Trekkie Nancy drew a blank on that one.

As I told Nancy Leson in this week's Food for Thought outing, "It's all just too sweet and slimy." 

I've been unhappy with the supermarket selection of hot dog relish for some time now.  But I do like that neon green Chicago-style stuff.  I never see it for sale in actual stores around here so I was driven to the web. 

"$14.95 for a jar of relish? Are you [expletive deleted] KIDDING me?"  I enquired mildly.  I knew I could make the stuff myself for a lot less than that.  After all, how hard could it be?

Not hard at all, actually.

istockphoto.com

Editor's note: This segment originally aired April 8, 2015.

I never liked fruit.  Wouldn't even eat fruit baby food.  Nancy Leson always hated calves liver.  We both reviled asparagus.  That was because we'd only had the canned kind, never fresh.  Paraphrasing Mark Twain I told Nancy the difference between fresh and canned asparagus was the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.

David Owens Hastings

"Food for Thought" has been pretty carnivorous lately, so I suggested to Nancy Leson that we talk tubers in this week's installment.  Turns out that the queen of spuds had just acquired a recipe for a baked potato dense enough to produce its own event horizon.

She got it from designer and fine artist David Owens Hastings, a student at the Chicken Pot Pie cooking class she taught recently at PCC.  Here's the roast chicken and bacon twice baked potatoes dinner he designed.  And yes, there is a vegetarian version.

With apologies to Andy Williams, now is the most wonderful time of the year ... for it is Girl Scout cookie season.

But after plowing through several sleeves of Thin Mints, fatigue can set in. So we wondered, when you're starting to feel sick of Girl Scout cookies, is there a way to rekindle the love?

You will never catch prominent food-safety attorney Bill Marler eating sprouts. Not on a heaping deli sandwich. Not on a freshly tossed salad. He puts them in the same category as raw milk — a food item he says is not worth the risk it carries. Unfortunately, 13 people sickened across four states have discovered that risk the hard way.

Once Mumbai's largest slum, Dharavi — made famous by the 2008 movie Slumdog Millionaire — is a teeming multi-ethnic and multicultural settlement claiming almost a million migrants from across India.

Nancy "Cumin-a my house" Leson

Just a few Food for Thoughts ago in our Restaurant Round-up, Nancy Leson mentioned the cumin-chili ribs at Seattle's Stateside Restaurant.  They sounded so good that for a brief, madcap moment, I actually considered making the schlep north from the City of Destiny. 

But then, in a flash of ribbitty serendipity, I didn't have to.

Peter Mondavi, a pioneer of the Napa Valley wine industry, died over the weekend in California. He was 101.

Mondavi and his more famous brother, Robert, joined their parents' business, the Charles Krug Winery, in 1943. Back then, the Napa Valley was better known for producing prunes, and its grapes were grown for cheap jug wine. The Mondavi brothers, sons of Italian immigrants, would become key players in making the valley one of the world's premium wine-producing regions.

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