Cooking North of Seattle - Archives

What's For Dinner?

Much has been going on in the kitchen lately.

Early March brought the first of the fresh Alaska halibut. Fresh salmon from Alaska’s Copper River began arriving May 15 - air dropped into Seattle like bottles of Beaujolais nouveau. Tight green spears of asparagus have begun to arrive in local grocery stores from eastern Washington. And, just this week, strawberry stands began springing up all over Stanwood and the Skagit farm fields.

Halibut Poached with Fennel, Ginger and Tomatoes

Expensive when it first hits the market, halibut prices settle down after several weeks and that’s when I start buying. Halibut is a firm white fish that can handle strong flavors. My very favorite halibut recipe combines Prosciutto, capers, lemons and white wine into a salty/tart sauce to pour over the baked fish. It is also a great fish to poach. One night I did a quick web search for poached fish ideas and came up with an interesting array of aromatics that can be used for poaching. I used what was on hand - young fennel that was coming up all over the garden, green onions, fresh ginger, chopped tomatoes, lemon. Poaching the fish gives it a moistness that cannot be matched by pan frying or baking.

New England Deep Fried Clams

In late May I flew out to the east coast for a family visit. No trip to Massachusetts is complete without 2 things. Fresh boiled lobsters and a pilgrimage to Woodman’s clam shack in Essex. This trip I was able to indulge in both and came home with a burning need to figure out how Woodman’s cooks up such light delicate fried clams. Low tides all this week allowed us to hit the beach and dig up a bunch of clams. As always, I soaked them in sea water sprinkled with corn meal over night. The next day I did some online research and concluded the following facts. Half corn flour (flour not meal!) and half wheat flour makes the best dredging mixture, and buttermilk is the best moistener. Absolutely key is clean oil for deep-frying. We gave it a whirl and the results were spectacular! Crunchy on the outside with moist sweet clams on the inside and a clean not-greasy taste, I may never pan fry my clams again!

In last weekend’s Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine the food column was about making ricotta at home. Well, it just so happens that our local IGA carries milk from a local dairy - Golden Glen Creamery. The article suggested that getting the best fresh milk translates into the best homemade cheese. Well, I had to try it. So I picked up 2 quarts of Golden Glen milk, some buttermilk and cream from Darigold - a Washington state dairy coop - followed the simple instructions and within a half hour had 3 cups of my own creamy-textured ricotta-like cheese. I decided to try the cheese in two of my favorite ricotta recipes - one sweet, cannoli, and one savory, stuffed manicotti. The results were truly awesome. The cheese is so silky, creamy and rich it held up wonderfully well to the tomato sauce in the manicotti and the cannoli, sprinkled with a few slices of fresh strawberries and confectioner’s sugar melted in the mouth like a fine chocolate. An experiment well worth having tried!

The Recipes

New England Deep Fried Clams

12 clams in their shells
1/2 c flour
1/2 c corn flour or masa harina
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1 c buttermilk

Shuck the clams. Pat dry on a paper towel.

Mix together the flour, corn flour, salt & pepper.

Dip each clam in buttermilk and then the flour mixture. Deep fry until golden. Drain on a cake rack, sprinkle with salt.

Makes 2 servings.

More Recipes

Halibut Poached with Fennel, Ginger and Tomatoes
Pan-Roasted Halibut with Prosciutto, Lemon, White Wine, and Capers
Steamed Moroccan-style Salmon
Salmon Chowder
Homemade Ricotta
Cheese Stuffed Manicotti
Italian Cannoli