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The Old Hen B&B closed May 31, 2014. We recommend The Roaring River B&B 425.888.4834 and The Log Cabin B&B 425.533.8278 for your North Bend get-away. Please stay tuned for Deanna's cookbook plans. Here's to starting from scratch. Talking about The Old Hen online? Our hashtag is #theoldhen .

Memoirs of an Innkeeper

I got a call. We had some special guests arriving from Japan.

They brought us this stunning candy. We were honored to have our guests. They were so kind and fun, and as we found out after a day or two, they were, um, famous.

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Koji Yakusho, Japan’s leading actor and his lovely wife Saeko (who is also an actress & can tell a story like nobody’s business – even with language barriers) had me laughing every morning.

The New York Times did a story on Koji last week because he had been at a film festival in New York the week before he visited the Snoqualmie Valley. For those of you not up on the world of Japanese entertainment, Koji was also in  “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Babel.”

 

Mini Almond Mazarin Tart With Fresh Fruit Recipe

Buttery crust and almondy filling but the real topper is the glazed fresh fruit. Fancy yet simple. Plain yet colorful.

Preheat oven to 350F.

CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sticks (one cup) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of almond
If butter is chilled, things will simply take longer to come together but will eventually become a lovely dough. Press dough into about 16 – 4 inch tart pans.  If making less tarts, just save extra dough in fridge for another day.

ALMOND FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 7 oz. almond paste (make sure it’s fresh & soft)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
Combine filling ingredients until well beaten.

Filling will be a little runny.

Place some almond filling into each tart. Place tarts on a cookie sheet and bake..

Prepare fruit by rinsing & cutting. You can use any fruit you like with these tarts. Most berries (especially raspberries & blueberries) and stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines) go best with almond.

To coat fruit with a glossy topping, place about 3/4 cup of apricot jam with a few tablespoons of water and heat until thinned. Allow to cool a bit before using.

Remove from oven when tops are golden brown.

Pile fruit upon tart in a most glorious fashion and drizzle with apricot glaze. Adorn with fresh mint if desired.

Perfect for breakfast, a tea or dessert.

 

Chocolate Pecan Truffles

Where there is chocolate, there is a party.  In a way, I guess you could call these party balls. Add dark cocoa powder, and you have a fancy party. I tell you the truth.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 16 ounces high quality semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup high quality, dark cocoa powder

Place a double boiler over medium-low heat. Chop chocolate into small bits and add to pan. Stir in cream. Heat and stir until dark and dreamy. Things will not look pretty and you will think I steered you wrong for most of the melting process but then suddenly you will see darkness and the world will make sense again. It is shiny. It is hopeful. It is truffles in liquid form. Stir in chopped pecans and transfer to a shallow pan like a casserole dish.

Refrigerate for about an hour or until firm and fudgy looking. Place cocoa powder onto a plate.

Scoop small amounts of the chocolate and form into balls. Coat each one with the lovely cocoa powder.

Ahhhhh.

Serve your party balls on a platter or place each in a mini paper candy cup liner. Or perhaps place four in a mini gift box with a parchment liner. The perfect little gift – a party to go.

Makes about 24 mini parties. If you are making this recipe for a group of people you don’t know very well, I recommend rolling truffles in finely chopped pecans rather than cocoa powder so that anyone with nut allergies will be aware that these contain nuts. Store covered in refrigerator until ready to serve. 

 

Mushroom Risotto Recipe

She is not always familiar, for she is foreign. She is not rice, for she is frumpy. She is not pasta, for she is temperamental.

INGREDIENTS:

  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced or diced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 tablespoons beef Better than Bouillon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for top if desired for garnish)
  • One small handful fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper

To prepare for all that is holy and lovely, pull all ingredients together ahead of time. Cut onion and mushroom and heat olive oil on medium-high in a somewhat deep frying pan.

Saute mushrooms until softened and a beautiful brown. Using a straining utensil, remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.

While cooking the mushrooms in the frying pan, heat the chicken broth in a separate saucepan until warm in a saucepan. Keep warm (but don’t allow it to reduce).

Place chopped onions into oil. Cook until translucent and caramelized. Add minced garlic. Then add Arborio rice and stir until rice is translucent around the edges yet white in the center.

Finally, the finicky side of risotto… the babysitting.

Pour white wine into risotto. Stir and cook on medium heat until wine is nearly all absorbed by the rice.

Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of broth and stir and cook until broth is nearly all absorbed.

Continue to cook and add broth in this same fashion until broth is gone but, more importantly, until risotto is al dente (not mushy and not crunchy). The dish should be a little creamy. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons beef Better than Bouillon to your liking.

Stir in cooked mushrooms, butter, parmesan cheese and chives. Add salt & pepper last since you can’t be sure how much salt you will need until after the parmesan has been added.  If desired, sprinkled freshly grated parmesan over the top and perhaps some freshly chopped chives.

Serve hot and serve often for she is warm and gorgeous and comforting. For she is risotto.

To make this into a main dish, you can stir in pieces of  cooked chicken. 

 

Yogurt Parfaits

I love it when things are so simple and so beautiful all at the same time. These lovelies are just that. Perfect for a Saturday morning. Or Sunday. Or Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Yoplait Boston Cream Pie Yogurt (or vanilla pudding or your  own favorite yogurt )
  • 2 cups of fresh mixed berries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Chopped nuts or granola (optional)
  • Whipped cream (optional)

Clean berries and drain well. Stir lemon juice and sugar into berries. Allow berry mixture to sit for at least a half an hour so that the sugar draws out the juices in the berries. Layer yogurt and berries into a pretty glass bowl or tall glass. Adorn with a sprig of fresh mint.  If you’d like to make things difficult, add chopped pecans or granola and whipped cream on top.

Yes, simple and simply perfect. Even for Fridays.

 

Chicken Marsala Recipe

Perhaps this should be called Indulgent Chicken Marsala Recipe. But I can’t help it. I love a breaded piece of chicken. And I love a gravy sauce. One would probably never guess I was born as far away as one can get from the south while still in America. Well, there was that one thing – the fact that I spelled y’all as ya’ll for forty years might have been a clue.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 whole chicken breasts
  • 1 1/4 cup flour (divided)
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced or sliced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry Marsala wine (can use sweet Marsala wine if preferred)
  • 3 tablespoons Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
  • Juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Leaves from 6 fresh oregano stalks, chopped

First, pound chicken breasts until about even all the way across.

For breaded chicken, just use 1 cup or so to coat each piece in flour. This is entirely optional, you know, for those who do not have a southern girl on the inside.

Heat pan with oil to medium-high heat. When hot, fry chicken until 165 degrees inside the middle.

Set chicken aside.

Fry mushrooms in same pan. Set aside as well on a separate plate after cooked.

Make sure pan has about 4 tablespoons of oil in it. If not, just add some and wait until hot again. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour into pan and whisk immediately. Cook a few minutes or until somewhat brown. Pour in chicken broth and continue to whisk. Sauce will thicken.

Again, thickening the gravy is optional. You can also just let it cook down for a while until it reduces to a lovely sauce.

Pour in Marsala wine.

Continue to whisk.  The whisking exercise makes the breading and the gravy okay.

Gravy will turn a beautiful brown color. Add chicken base, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until chicken base melts into gravy. Stir in lemon juice, butter and then mushrooms.

And fresh oregano.

Pour gravy over chicken and serve.

Though she is stunning served on her own, she also pairs will with pasta or a fresh green salad. She is chicken Marsala. She is indulgent. I’d imagine she originated in the southern part of Italy.

 

 

Sweet Red Cherry Pie Recipe

Cherry pie. Summer at its best. That is, unless you count the time I used dish soap so I could go faster on our Slip & Slide. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen our kids laugh as hard as they did that day nor have I embarrassed myself more – at least not while covered in bubbles. On that slippery slope, maybe it’s best we get back to the pie.

PIE CRUST INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4  cup ice water (a little more only if needed)

Combine flour, salt, sugar and butter in food processor until crumbly and about the size of peas.

Sprinkle cold water over crumbly dough and process again until sticks together but still a wee bit crumbly.

Yeah. Like that.

Divide dough in half and form each half into balls.

Roll out first ball of dough until large enough to cover the bottom of your pie pan. Use flour to prevent it from sticking to your counter.

Gently fold crust into fourths so that it is easier to move from the counter to your pie pan. Push down so that it sits in pan nicely.

PIE FILLING INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet red cherries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3/4 cup bourbon (adds a lovely flavor but can replace with water if desired)

Slice cherries into half, remove pit from each one and place in a large bowl. This is a messy but peaceful job. Stir in remaining pie filling ingredients.

Add to pie crust. Now for an easy version of a pretty lattice crust.

Roll out other dough ball and cut into about 1/4 strips that are the length of the pie pan. Place four strips across the top with plenty of spacing between each.

Place four more strips the other direction.

Place four more in between the original four strips.

Do the same in the other direction with the last four.

Trim the edges.

Using a leaf or flower shaped mini cookie cutter, cut out shapes with the remaining dough. Place all around the edge with a bit of overlap.  Press down a bit as you go so they hold well. You can just leave the extra crust on and pinch the dough all the way around, but I like the look of a cookie cutter edge.

Brush entire top crust with one beaten egg so that the crust will be shiny and golden when baked.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and he reduce the heat to 325 and bake another 40 minutes.

If the looks like it might get too dark, just lay a piece of foil over it for the remaining baking time. Also, if your e=oven doesn’t bake evenly, be sure to rotate pie during baking time.

Yep, the only thing better (and more dangerous) is a Slip & Slide used with an abundance of dish soap.

 

Watermelon Salad Recipe

Some things should not go together. You know, like Diet Coke and peppermint gum at the same time, for the combination of these two items tastes like mold to your taste buds. Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do.

Watermelon, cucumbers and tomatoes, however, do go together. Again, I just know.

SALAD INGREDIENTS :

  • One small, seedless watermelon (cut into small, bite-sized squares) – I’m sure we can all agree that cute little squares taste best.
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 1/2 pint yellow cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
  • 1 English cucumber (cut into small, bite-sized pieces)
  • 1/2 red onion (thinly sliced) – optional

Place chilled salad ingredients into a large bowl.

SALAD DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

  • Juice from 1 fresh lemon
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Simply shake the salad dressing ingredients together in a container with a lid & drizzle over your gorgeous salad. Give salad a gentle toss and serve.

Other things that do not go together include out-of-towners and round-abouts. I can feel my protective instincts going all Starship Enterprise defense mode just thinking about it. Also not good, arguing newlyweds and a comfy couch. Turns out, your odds of making up after an argument are better if you have a bad couch. Again, don’t ask me how I know. And finally, starches with starches is not a good idea. For example rice served with pasta, potatoes and bread is a bad combo if you’d like to ever see your feet again.

But isn’t it nice that in a world where many things do not go well together that we have found this beautiful salad.

 

Outstanding in the Field Dinner Event at Full Circle Farms

The other day I was out standing in a field.

Well, we did a lot more than stand in a field, actually. We toured a farm, met new friends, had an outstanding meal from one of Seattle’s top chefs and enjoyed wine. Lots of lovely wine.

The dinner was hosted by Full Circle Farms in Carnation, Washington.

From Full Circle Farms:

“Our mission is to change the food system. Full Circle values organic and sustainable farming, transparency, and access to healthy food for everyone…”

And they’re doing just that – one box at a time, delivered to your town just for you.

Leah Scafe greeted us with her sweet smile. She plans all of the Outstanding in the Field events, matches up farmers, winemakers and chefs, organizes the entire staff, answers countless emails, picks up produce from a farm in Soquel and drives it two hours to a chef in San Francisco, makes sure nothing falls through the cracks. And she can still take a moment to appreciate a really beautiful piece of salmon or a stalk of celtuce.

Guests were also greeted with wine.

Chilled Gilbert Cellars Rose of Mourverde to be exact.

Almost as beautiful as wine in bottles… dahlias in bottles.

Everyone socialized.

And enjoyed hors d’oeuvres.

I took the opportunity to find some more beautiful sites on the farm.

Oh, look. Here’s one – smoked mackerel crostini with radish and butter. Perfection.

And more wine.

Jone’s Farm pork rillettes with red wine cherries. Oh my.

The plates began to stack in a lovely way. Everyone is asked to bring their own – a tradition held since the first dinner in 1998. Unless, of course, you forget to bring yours. Then you can borrow from their beautiful mismatched collection as not to feel left out. That, and, you know, so you have something to enjoy your dinner on. Not that I would know.

And, finally, Dinah’s Cheese, tomato lavender chutney & marcona almonds.

Jim Denevan – That really tall guy who founded Outstanding in the Field. Chef, artist, ex-pro-surfer, photographer, placer of the table at the perfect curve or line or semi-circle, in the perfect location at the perfect time. Obsessive weather-checker. Captivating public speaker.

Andrew Stout , Full Circle founder and chief farmer, shared with us the mission of Full Circle Farm and then gave us a tour of this lovely place.

His wife, Wendy Stout, just as passionate and driven as her husband Andrew. Lovely people.

Andrew showing all the dinner guests the farm.

I cannot deny that this picture made it into this post simply because of it’s artistic value. You’re welcome.

Visiting a farm again reminded me of how hard this work is. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of  responsibility and appreciation for the food that comes from an organic farm.

Shorty baby lettuce of various kinds in the greenhouses. Stunning.

I wanted to go for a ride.

The boxes that your organic fruits & veggies are delivered in.

More artistic value. Love.

After our tour, we made our way through the fields to our dinner table. And was it a table.

Rustic bread – perfectly baked. Crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Chilled water in bottles for refills and more wine. With this course, we were served Gilbert Cellars Unoaked Chardonnay.

The butter. Oh, the butter. With salts. Oh, the salts.

I wish I could portray how perfectly perfect this half circle table set in the middle of the Full Circle Farms was but for that I would need a new camera lens. Not that this would be a terrible thing.

125 people enjoying a lovely meal together at one very long table dressed with perfect white linens. There’s nothing like it.

I visited Chef Jonathon Sundstrom the owner and chef at Lark in Seattle. Honestly, he did more talking than I did because I know what it’s like to chat and cook at the same time and I am simply not good at it. But chatting didn’t shake him up a bit. Everything was perfect.

Again, because you can never get enough artsy pictures.

 

The platters lined up ready to be filled with a perfect dinner.

More wine? Yes, please.

Farm lettuces with baby beets, burrata & olive oil croutons

Baby beets, meet baby lettuces.

Refreshment on a plate.

The next course. Which, of course, means more wine – 2009 Gilbert Cellars Allobroges. Um, wow. Others described this as oaky. I befittingly, called out “Buttery!” Okay, maybe not so befittingly.

The view was as peaceful as it was astounding. Maybe even buttery.

With an alcohol content of 14.7%, this one had seriously sexy legs.

Yukon River Keta salmon with sugar snap peas, baby carrots. asparagus & lemon mint butter. I declare that a complete sentence. The smoked flavor of this barbecued salmon was knock-your-socks-off-and-then-do-back-flips good. Of course, I held off on the back flips cuz it would have made a scene. That, and I have never done one in my entire life.

I must admit, I never saw this flavor coming from my chat with Chef. For this is how things looked while the salmon was cooking. I tried to make every bit last as long as I could because it was so very flavorsome.

And then. Out of nowhere. More wine. This time we were served Gilbert Cellars Left Bank. I love you, Gilbert Cellars. I love you.

And then the sun decided to rest. And the evening just got better.

For there was Jones Farm pork loin with smoked pommess de terre Robuchon garlic scapes, escarole & porcini mushroom sauce.

Mushrooms were made for sauce and sauce was made for mushrooms. Amen.

More wine? Gilbert Cellars Riesling, perhaps. Well, okay. If I must.

Candied ginger shortcake with Billy’s strawberries, raspberries & lemon verbena whipped cream. Sweet baby Jesus this was loverly.

As the sun continued to slide down, we talked and laughed and decided that our table would have to be forever friends.

Our table’s pact which we had made at the beginning of dinner was that our table would not leave any leftover food on our platters. And with that, one of the guys scooped up this last piece of dessert. So kind of him to help us keep our word.

Our new friends.

And more new friends.

And with that, we slowly walked to our cars, never wanting the night with our new friends or the perfect dinner or the lovely wine to end.

Everyone walked slowly and meaningfully. For we had been reminded of how precious everything grown on a local farm is and how our food should be treated with respect and sincere in it’s preparation. And, ever so delighted in when it is served.

Outstanding in the Field is held all around the United States. Be sure to find one in your area.

Dusty shoes and full of joy – not unlike the team at Full Circle Farms.

Thank you, Outstanding in the Field and Full Circle Farms for an unbelievable evening.

From Outstanding in the Field:

Our mission is to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.

Outstanding in the Field is a roving culinary adventure – literally a restaurant without walls. Since 1999 we have set the long table at farms or gardens, on mountain tops or in sea caves, on islands or at ranches. Occasionally the table is set indoors: a beautiful refurbished barn, a cool greenhouse or a stately museum. Wherever the location, the consistent theme of each dinner is to honor the people whose good work brings nourishment to the table.

Ingredients for the meal are almost all local (sometimes sourced within inches of your seat at the table!) and generally prepared by a celebrated chef of the region. After a tour of the site, we all settle in: farmers, producers, culinary artisans, and diners sharing the long table.

 

 

Fresh Balsamic Cherry Salad Recipe

He who likes cherries soon learns to climb. – German proverb.

Yes, one learns to climb when one likes cherries. Why? Because one would want to put this cherry salad into the pretty bowls which are kept up on the top shelf in the cupboard. I spent much of my childhood up in trees and on top of counter tops. I was happy. And short. And happy. There is nothing quite like finding that spot in an old tree that makes the perfect reading place. My choice? Peanuts and Archie comic books and an occasional Laura Ingalls Wilder book woven into the mix – all of which has very little to do with cherries. But I associate cherries with happy childhood memories – like dad keeping a big bag of fresh cherries next to his favorite chair every June through August. I remember stealing some and spitting the pits into the yard, hoping for a cherry tree to sprout up.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 6 cups fresh cherries
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt (optional)

A few hours in advance or night before:

Place water and sugar in a pan. Add the zest of the orange. Cut the orange into slices by peeling and cutting out each segment (this is easier than it looks but worth it). Place orange segments into sugar water. Leave at a low boil stirring every once & awhile. After about 5 minutes, remove from heat. Cool and then chill. Chill cherries as well.

On serving day:

Prepare cherries by removing stems, halving and pitting them. Place in a large bowl.

Poor chilled orange simple syrup and balsamic vinegar over cherries. Add finely chopped parsley and, if desired, salt to enhance the flavors. Stir well.

Allow salad to sit for about 5 minutes and then drain off excess juices.

Take the pretty bowls down from the top shelf and serve with a sprig of mint. Climb your favorite old tree, bring a comic book and relive your childhood with this very grown-up salad.

 

 

 
© Deanna Morauski 2009-2017