Food

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

Nancy Leson

Editor's Note: This is a rerun of a vintage Food for Thought post.

Nancy Leson and I love the XO sauce, the incredibly flavorful Chinese condiment, but we don't love the price. Besides, it's always more fun to make your own. And there's no shortage of recipes.

What say you? In Nancy Leson's case, "1,500 to 2,000" was too many cookbooks — so many that she could hardly get into her office any more.  So she called in her good friend Judy Amster, she said, "and we had an intervention." 

duncan C / Flickr

Seattle thinks it knows its coffee. After all, it's the birthplace of Starbucks, and neighborhoods with two or three coffeehouses per block are not uncommon.

So you’d think the new director of Seattle Opera, Aidan Lang, would be happy. He’s a self-described coffee lover. But Lang says what we’re missing is a drink that’s taking the world by storm called a "flat white."

So we set out to find out what a flat white is, and where we can find it in Seattle. Click play below to hear what we found.

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson now knows more about apples, thanks to her friend Bill Davis, who really knows his apples. Which is way more than I knew, never having bitten into one in my whole life. But even fruitophobic me learned plenty of interesting stuff this week, including the best kind to grow in the Pacific Northwest.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

Fall is mushroom madness time, which means the new book "Shroom" by Seattle author, chef and 10-year PCC cooking instructor Becky Selengut couldn't be more timely. 

Nancy leson

Nancy Leson keeps a lot of stuff on hand to do what she characterizes as stir-frying. These techniques include first searing meat on the grill rather than in the wok. Tut-tut.

She also uses "stir-fry" as a noun, as in "my favorite stir-fry." I am left with no choice but to remonstrate.

George Eastman House / Flickr

Seems like school and military food have always been fair game for those mystery meat jokes and general put-downs. While I admit that I never got any four-star chow in either environment, what I did get wasn't so bad and sometimes pretty good. 

Nancy Leson

Who but Nancy Leson could go so gaga over yogurt? You, maybe, but not me. A  little may do no harm but I'm just not an eat-it-out-of-the-carton kind of guy. Still, when Nancy cajoled me into trying Ellenos Greek Yogurt, it really was the best I'd ever tasted. The Big Balk came when she attempted to get fruit-o-phobic me to try the passionfruit variety.  

"I would not get out of an electric chair to eat that," I told her. And I didn't.

Nancy Leson

I can't believe I've never come across this method for corn off the cob before. After our friends Lori and Denny made it for us this weekend, I checked online and there were pages of variations on this same theme. It's so simple that ingredients are measured in units of "some." 

Nancy leson

It's my favorite time of year. The cukes are out at the Duris Cucumber Farm on River Road, just a little west of Puyallup. For years, I've been trying to convince my Food for Thought pard Nancy Leson to accompany me there. She finally did, and boy, was she glad.

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson's just back from a trip to downstate Illinois where she ate not wisely but too well. Besides the extra avoirdupois, she also brought back the rust bucket pictured above. It came from the estate of her husband Mac's aunt. Can you guess what it is?

Dick Stein

Nancy Leson thought I was repeating an urban legend when I told her that diners have swallowed bristles from metal grill brushes along with their steaks.  But then I showed her this story about their dangers , and she admitted in an email I will save forever, "You were right — as always, Stein."  

And it's happened not just in Seattle, but all over the country.

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson's got a brand new bag, and it's full of bees.

In a recent Seattle Times piece about backyard beekeeping, she expressed interest in keeping bees in her backyard. In this week's "Food for Thought" I suggested that she leave them where they always were — in her bonnet. Ms. Leson begged to differ.

Nancy Leson

I'm a recent though enthusiastic consumer of banh mi and a longtime fan of Andrea Nguyen's superb cookbooks. Her newest, "The Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches," was just released.

That subtitle is no overstatement. If you're unfamiliar with banh mi (bunn mee) Viet sub sandwiches, it's time to try one. And what better way to get started than to make your own with the easy-to-follow instructions in Andrea's handbook. 

Stein

I know, I know. It's no concern of mine what other people do with their money in a supermarket.

But for the life of me, I cannot understand how bottled iced tea got to be such a popular item. How could something in a bottle on a shelf possibly be better than what you can get started at home in 10 seconds? One thing I do know — it sure ain't cheaper. And it's not exactly hard to make. You don't even have to boil it.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

"Stein, do you cook much fish?" Nancy Leson asked me.

To get a rise out of her, I answered, "No, never!" 

The Gilbert and Sullivan fan that I am, I was hoping she'd sing her reply as: "What neverrrrr?" To which I could have answered, "Well...hardly ever."

Instead I just got, "Oh, c'mon, really?"

Stein

I'm convinced my morning coffee wouldn't taste as good anywhere else but from Mr. Busy Bee. Nancy insists her steaks would not be half as tender when cut with any other knife but her fancy French Laguiole “heavy-duty, feeling-great-in-your-hands” Sabatier knives.

My grandfather Willie would agree. He always maintained that the difference between the $5 steak and the $20 steak is the steak knife.

And so we extol the virtues of our favorite tableware. Nancy likes a fork with heft. She turns up her nose at flimsy little salad forks.

Nancy Leson

Trigger warning for the gluten-hysterical: This segment contains multiple and appreciative references.

Eaters, I am scandalized! Nancy Leson has slammed out a batch of made-from-scratch bagels in just one hour — that's one hour from the mixer to out of the oven.  

I haven't tried them; I've just seen the pictures, but I must admit that they at least look good. Here's how she did it.

Dick Stein

When I bragged to my Food for Thought partner Nancy Leson that I'd attempted to make halva, I was absolutely gobsmacked to learn that she doesn't like the sesame candy. 

Even though my homemade version was less than — OK, a lot less than — perfect, I've always taken it for granted that everybody in the world loves the stuff. After all, it's been around in one form or another for at least three thousand years.

Nancy Gets All Healthy

Jun 11, 2014
Millionaire meglomaniac W. H. Donovan / Glass Tank Solutions

When I hear the words "healthy eating," I reach for my pork chop. Still, I must admit that chef Maria Hines had some pretty good ideas.  

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson recently traveled to Philadelphia for her cousin’s wedding, and she taunted me with emailed photos of some of the great deli chow she enjoyed.

She also raved about the teensy lamb chops her cousin served. 

“They were just perfect. I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t rubber chicken,” Nancy said. “But the thing I really want to tell you about is the open-faced pastrami reuben I had at the Chit Chat Diner in Hackensack, New Jersey.”

Aaron Hushagen

In this second installment of highlights from our Food for Thought Happy Hour event, we turn to Tom Douglas and his "cheap" green onion pancakes.

The Seattle chef's quickie version of the Chinese favorite starts with "cheap flour tortillas" which are painted with egg mixed with a little sesame oil, then sprinkled with minced green onions and sesame seeds. Fold, press down — or as Douglas says," Stand on it" — and give it a quick fry. 

Courtesy of Great Northwest Wine.

The Northwest is quickly becoming world famous for high-quality wine. So what are the region's wine experts splashing into their glasses over Memorial Day weekend?

Aaron Hushagen

If you were one of many who joined Nancy Leson and me for our Food for Thought Happy Hour last week, you know what a blast we all had.

But if you just couldn't make it, here's a recap for you with sound and pictures.

Everyone, especially us, had a ball at the event which featured Seattle chefs Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita, the chef in the hat, Thierry Rauturau of Luc and now Loulay, and Large Seattle chef Tom Douglas of, well, pretty much every where else.  All were introduced to the music of Eric "Two Scoops" Moore and his combo. 

And what eating we did!

Nancy Leson

When my Food for Thought pard Nancy Leson first met her husband-to-be, Mac, she helped him pick out a dining room table. If she had known that eventually she'd be moving in, she says, "I might have picked something different." 

Nancy Leson

I have a close relationship with the herbs I grow. And unlike some of my previous relationships, herbs actually seem to thrive on neglect. I never do much for them other than snip the blossoms when they bolt and once in a while throw a little water on them. And yet they keep coming back. Nancy Leson reports the same results. 

Nancy Leson

Nancy Leson was so excited by the mammoth 'chokes she's been getting at the store these days that I was almost too embarrassed to admit that the only artichokes I've ever eaten have been those pickled hearts in the glass jars.  And that's even though we've been growing artichokes just for their blooms for years now. 

All that's ending this week. I'm going to get me some of those monster artichokes she talks about, and cook 'em using tips from Nancy.

Nancy Leson

How's this for a switch: rye on ham.

It used to be a vague childhood memory for Nancy Leson's husband, Mac. 

The Sichuan peppercorn is known to give some Chinese dishes a pleasant tingling feeling.

What's not so pleasant is that pins-and-needles feeling we get when our foot falls asleep — or when people who suffer from paresthesia experience constant tingling in their limbs.

Diana Bautista, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, wondered: Could these sensations be connected?

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