She always made hers with Wheat Chex cereal and Cheerios, and added lots of salty Worcestershire and of course real butter, and real garlic (no garlic powder in her musty smelling cupboard), but yes to dried oregano, and lots of skinny pretzels and peanuts, and those big brazil nuts that we kids did not like at all (well really does anyone like those bitter nuts?)–but without (most) of those ingredients it just doesn’t taste right to me.
My good friend Brock insists one has to have Cheetos in your Party Mix and my sister Gayle loves lots of Rice Chex in her’s (I always swapped the extra rice Chex in my handful for the extra Wheat Chex in her’s and always thought I got the better end of the deal…our Bartender Paul swears that his recipe is the best and recently he made a batch that had spaghetti sauce and sun-dried tomatoes that I actually thought pretty tasty!
A chef friend of mine, the late great Billy Pflug even used to put Duck cracklin’s in his gourmet version. Last year, here at PG we deep fried garbanzo beans and julienne salami & pistachio nuts and dubbed it “Chef’s Mix” to great acclaim.
How about yours? Does your family have a secret heirloom recipe?
What indispensable ingredient has to be in your Party Mix for the Holidays?
By the way, also during this month of celebration we are serving two great Champagnes by the glass: Dom Pérignon & Veuve Clicquot at a great price. So get your Merry on! and get down here for some Nuts & Bolts and a glass of Dom or Veuve and let’s celebrate the season—oh and don’t forget to share your secret ingredients with me for your best Party Mix cause I want your recipe to put on my holiday menu next year!
Italian for raw—crudo is a fusion dish —similar to Japanese sashimi, but with Italian/Mediterranean flavors instead of Japanese.
Recently I showed you a crudo of raw ahi tuna with Summer black truffles.
Today we are featuring a crudo of thinly sliced raw scallops with extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, cracked pepper, slivered mint & cilantro—and sprinkled with vanilla salt. [Sea salt that has been infused with a scraped Tahitian vanilla pod].
The unusual combination of flavors against the buttery richness of the raw scallops is delicious.
Like our flatbreads, the crudo changes frequently, so this particular version may not be on the menu the next time you visit Pacific Grill.
|When I had my restaurant in Aspen many years ago, I worked with a wonderful chef, Susan Sinnicks, who was from Charlotte, N. Carolina. She was talented, and being from the south, of course—very polite.|
So I had to create a dish to honor Susan which became “Miz Susan’s White Trash Salad”. It had cornmeal breaded fried chicken on it and instead of croutons we added small crispy hushpuppies.
The salad was a huge hit! I had never made hushpuppies before—indeed at the time I didn’t even know what they were. So Susan made a batch, and wrote down a recipe right then out of her head that was perfect, addictive, and delicious.
Hushpuppies, as you may already know, are a southern side-dish commonly served with fish. They supposedly got their name when fishermen tossed pieces of fried batter to their hungry dogs (instead of the fried catfish) & said: “now–hush puppies”! I don’t know if that story is true, but it is a good story.
Later when I was working in Hollywood CA, as chef of the infamous Monkey Bar restaurant, I came up with an appetizer that was a cross between a hushpuppy and a crabcake that we named Crab “Puppies”.
This appetizer became one of the most popular on my menu. In fact one record producer used to drive up to the door and phone the front desk before he valeted his car, to make sure that we hadn’t yet sold out.
I used Miz Susan’s basic hushpuppy recipe, although I used a bit less black pepper and crushed red chilies, and I also added some cilantro, and of course Dungeness crabmeat. We served the Crab Puppies with a homemade Black Pepper Tartar Sauce, and a squeeze of lemon.
The other day I decided it was time to bring the appetizer back to my menu here at Pacific Grill. It has become a hit again, all these years later.
I love the way the sweet molasses and cornmeal play against the rich crab, cut by the heat of the chilies and pepper, brightened by a squeeze of lemon. The rich tartar sauce helps quench the tingling heat on your tongue, and you can’t help wanting to take another bite…
Tasting them again after all these years sure reminds me of Susan, her talent in the kitchen, generous smile and laugh, southern charm, and great hugs.
It is a beautiful sunny day today… with just a hint of hollowness to the sun’s warmth, that reminds us that fall is just around the corner.
The Puyallup Fair has started, the air smells like blackberry pie, and when I got to the restaurant I found out the first local chanterelle mushrooms of the season had arrived!
I couldn’t wait to plunge my face into the box and inhale their intoxicating apricot scent.
We did a nice appetizer this weekend we called “Porcupine Rolls”.
For the sauces we made a citrusy ponzu sauce, and a wasabi aioli which we served on the side. They were a big hit!
One of my favorite snacks on our Bar Menu is the Cheese Toast with Melted Tomatoes. It is great as a late night snack instead of pizza, or as a light supper. And it is great for using up any leftover cheeses after a party.
The “melted tomatoes” refers to a method of slowly cooking the tomatoes at very low temperature inside the oven with just the pilot light on until they almost turn themselves into a sauce.
We toss some ripe tomatoes in a little olive oil and chopped garlic, season them—pop them into the oven—and when we get to work in the morning the tomatoes have “melted” into a simple sauce. All they require is a light chopping and folding in some herbs [like chopped Italian parsley, or thyme, sweet marjoram] and some torn basil leaves.
Recently I had a guest request the recipe I decided to put it on the Blog in case any of the rest of you would also like to give it a try.
1. Gather 1 pound of cheese pieces (any variety: Gruyère, goat, brie, fontina, although too much blue cheese and it will predominate) cut off any mold or very hard rinds, and cube into 1″ pieces.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the cheeses, garlic cloves, about 1/2 cup of dry white wine and a big grinding of black pepper. Process for 30 seconds or so, until the mixture is creamy but not too soft.
3. Salt is usually not needed, but taste the mixture and add some if it is.
4. Pack it into a small container that will fit the amount of cheese. It also can be frozen.
5. The fromage fort is ready to use now, either served cold or spread on bread and broiled for a few minutes. Broiling will brown the cheese and make it wonderfully fragrant.
6. Grill pain rustique with some olive oil until golden and charred a bit.
7. Spread the fromage fort onto the grilled bread and set under the broiler until cheese is golden.
8. Add some chopped oven-roasted tomatoes and olive oil in a saute pan. Heat up, until hot add the basil.
9. Garnish the hot cheese toast on a plate with some of the roasted tomato, piling it up on the cheese toast, cross with the other toast, and add some of the tomato sauce to the plate here and there.
10. Drizzle the toast and tomato with some extra-virgin olive oil, and a sprinkle of chopped Italian parsley.
|Adapted from a recipe by Jacques Pépin, Food & Wine Magazine
Serves approx: 8
Yield: 2 1/4 cups
Start to finish: 10 minutes [not counting the overnight melting of the tomatoes].
A while ago someone asked whether they could expect to see some Mexican-styled dishes on our menu here at Pacific Grill since I got back from Puerto Vallarta.
Between our lunch closing at 2pm and guests arriving at 5–we have to totally clear-out our dining room of all furniture to make room for all the auction goodies–transforming our dining room into an auction paradise–of beautifully displayed donated items up for grabs.
Pacific Grill does our part by closing for dinner and donating our dining room every year to this worthy event.
As if you didn’t already know–Bates is the oldest & largest technical college in the state of Washington, with more than 53 technical career-education programs.
Banff & Lake Louise Canada Vacation Package ($4000);
Handmade Chess Board sold for ($200);
Autographed photo of LPGA Golf Superstar Lorena Ochoa ($281).
The swanky-looking invitation arrived on my desk from total restaurant-pro Troy Christian, to attend “the restaurant VIP event of the year” [quoting the invite]…a cocktail reception Friday at Maxwell’s Speakeasy + Lounge in the Historic Walker Building, 6th Ave & St. Helen’s.
A few phone calls later we had put a group together and decided we would meet-up first for a drink at Pacific Grill: dear friend Trish Hosea, daughter of Tom Hosea, in town from Washington DC to attend her Grandfather’s funeral [Trish used to manage my restaurant the Beach House]; also Kathy Davis-Hayfield, who manages the iconic Tides Tavern; and the fabulous Karen– arriving looking tan in a very short dress with handsome husband Jeff White in tow. Karen knew half the other gorgeous women seated in the Pacific Grill bar.
Jeff ordered a glass of white wine– I suggested a Viognier [the 2006 Dusted Valley Viognier, a Walla Walla winery] “an ugly bottle but a beautiful wine as we like to say around here,” I told everyone.
“mmmmm….delicious fruit”, said Trish.
According to the winemakers, it “tastes like a fabulous fruit salad in a glass”, we all agreed.
We headed off to the party and after dropping our cars with the valet, and walking down the red carpet, we all felt like celebs arriving at Tacoma’s version of the Oscars—but instead of dodging paparazzi we were dodging snowflakes as it began to snow!
Inside was a mob scene: lots of booze, tray-passed apps and cleavage.
The attractive high-ceiling room has an open kitchen to the far right as you enter. I could see Chef Matt Colony’s shaved head bobbing up & down as he was orchestrating the first-night madness. My stomach knotted up—sympathetic anxiety pains of the opening night jitters—I’ve been down this same path a million times before.
It is never easy opening night. No one knows what the hell they are doing. The servers don’t. You don’t– the equipment is brand new—no one knows where anything is—you never have enough time to practice, at some point you just pull the trigger and dive in. It’s crazy, but you slug your way through it somehow believing it’ll get better each day. Or praying.
I’ll go over to say hello in a minute, I think, but first let’s get over to the bar and grab something to drink.
The bar is located behind the Host stand and to the back of the restaurant to the left. You kind of snake your way through the booths to get to it. In fact, most of the seating seems to be booths, but it was hard to tell given how many of Tacoma’s beautiful people were packed into the space: I see Mike Combs, Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, Peter Stanley, and Ron Swarner of the Weekly Volcano; a Lady in Red [falling out of her Dress]– and Men Falling down trying to stand next to her; there’s Jim Higgins of Puget Sound Pizza; Roxanne Murphy & her fab red boots !!!
…..and lots of nodding, shaking hands and shouted greetings across the room. But it’s hard to be heard over the din.
We finally make our way to the bar and got a glass of red wine.
I see Troy looking dapper in his suit and walk over to offer my congratulations. “Don’t look too closely at anything,” Troy apologizes, “we were working on everything up until the last second.”
“It’s all fine”, I reassure. It looks great. Thanks for inviting us.”
The truth is I always hate when the pressures to open outweigh taking your time. That 24 hour around the clock push to get open. The only person I ever knew that could afford to do it right was Peter Morton of the Hard Rock Cafe Chain, and Morton’s in LA, and the HARD ROCK HOTEL in VEGAS, who had the money to do practice dinners on his wealthy friends for a full month before opening to the public. God knows I’ve never had that luxury… it is just too expensive…you’ve got to get open and start making some money to get that cash flow going…
I grab Trish & drag her over to the kitchen and position her so that the next time Matt moves his head he is going to be looking right at us. Matt worked for me at The Beach House for 5 years. He was my opening Chef at Pacific Grill. Great Guy. Great Chef. He is like another brother to me, even though I am old enough to be his Dad. My nickname for him is “Movie-star Matt Colony” because his name sounds like one of those made-up matinee movie star names they used give an actor in the early 60’s.
Matt is all smiles when he finally sees us. He walks off the line and gives us both big hugs. We congratulate him on his Big Opening.
“We didn’t even have the booths installed until yesterday at 3pm” he says!
“The damn food didn’t even arrive until 3pm today”!
He is obviously stressed, but we tell him the truth: that the food is good– and we also tell him that the waitress didn’t even know what she was serving us. [see below]
The waitress exchange went like this:
“You seemed to really enjoy the beef shoulder sir, would you like another”?
From his tray I greedily took him up on his kind offer and devoured another, once again savoring the beefiness, and how good that extra-pepper played-off the beefy richness.
Later it was pointed out to me that this pro “server” was instead–Maxwell’s General Manager Tewfik Boulenouar, who previously held the same position at restaurant Coupage in Seattle, and also once worked as a captain at Waterfront Grill.
In any case, we were still starving, so we decided to see if we could get into Asado and snag a table and see if Joel Mertens [Asado’s new Chef recently from Shenanigans] has done anything new with the menu, but the wait was an hour…looking around I saw several people from the VIP party—who had beat us there… so we walked across the street to Il Fiasco for dinner [which was nearly empty].
What a party! Wine, booze, champagne– Delicious Apps!