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You'll find over 425 of my favorite recipes here, including ideas for Quick meals, Cooking for 2, Feasting on Leftovers, and cooking with 5 Ingredients or Less. I'm adding new posts regularly; you can subscribe by email or RSS feed if you'd like to receive the latest recipes. Bon appétit!

Vegan Potato Salad

August 14, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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A couple of weeks ago I used my Instant Pot to cook potatoes for a Vegan Potato Salad. Using the Instant Pot made it so quick and easy! We took the potato salad to a potluck party and brought back an empty bowl. Bob and I both loved it!

I doubled the ingredients in my All-American Potato Salad for Two, omitted the hard-cooked eggs, and used vegan mayonnaise to make it vegan. (I like Just Mayo vegan mayonnaise, which I can find at QFC and Safeway.)

Bob has mentioned at least a couple of times how much he liked the Vegan Potato Salad since I made it. I guess I’ll have to make it again soon. 😉

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Vegan All-American Potato Salad.jpg

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Vegan Potato Salad

(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for All-American Potato Salad for Two)

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 6 – 8

 

Most of the ingredients for the dressing

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2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 cup water

2 tablespoons dill pickle juice

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

½ cup vegan mayonnaise

2 small celery ribs, minced (about 2/3 cup)

3 tablespoons dill pickle relish

1 shallot, minced (about 4 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon celery seeds

½ teaspoon fine sea salt (or table salt)

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

  1. Put the potatoes in a steamer basket in the Instant Pot. (A steamer basket makes it much easier to remove the cooked potatoes and to drain them, but if you don’t have one just put the potatoes in the pot.)

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potatoes in the Instant Pot.jpg

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2. Add the 1 cup of water to the Instant Pot; put the lid on and lock it in place. Make sure the pressure release handle is in the sealing position.

3. Select Manual. Set the time for 4 minutes at high pressure.

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4 minutes - High pressure

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4. When the 4 minutes of cooking time are up, use the Quick Release method to let the steam out.

5. Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Immediately pour the pickle juice and the vinegar over the warm potatoes. Stir gently and set them aside for about 20 minutes.

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Pouring the pickle juice and vinegar over the warm potatoes

Vinegar and pickle juice

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6. Make the dressing while the potatoes are cooling. Stir the mayonnaise, minced celery, pickle relish, minced shallot, minced parsley, dry mustard, celery seeds, salt, and pepper together.

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Ready to mix.jpg

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Dressing for vegan potato salad

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7. After the potatoes have cooled for about 20 minutes, gently stir the dressing into the potatoes. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

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Vegan All-American Potato Salad 2.jpg

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Vegan All-American Potato Salad - Copy

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Beautiful Victoria, British Columbia

August 3, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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I know. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s been kind of hot so most of our dinners have been grilled protein and a salad. Simple! I just haven’t made anything “blog worthy” until just last weekend. That recipe will be posted soon. In the meantime, here’s a recap of our quick trip to Victoria (where it was beautiful – sunny, and 15 degrees cooler than Seattle!)

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Last week we made a very enjoyable quick trip to Victoria, British Columbia, and we stayed at a fantastic new Airbnb that I want to tell you about.

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The view of “The Gorge” from the deck of our cottage – so peaceful!

Peaceful view.jpg

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GMC Projects, Inc. is a family business owned by our friends, the Milne family. One of their latest projects is Portage West which is located right on the Gorge Waterway, known as “The Gorge” in Victoria. The property was an Econo Lodge when GMC bought it. The company has done a magnificent job turning an old motel into beautiful, modern studio and 1-bedroom apartments. One of the buildings is finished and is renting up. The other two will be done soon.

The property also includes 10 cottages that GMC has transformed into beautiful vacation rentals. Each cottage has a living room, dining area, fully equipped kitchen, bedroom (with the most comfortable bed!), bathroom and a private deck with a full view of The Gorge.

We rented one of the cottages, the Nomad, for our two nights in Victoria. It was one of the best places we have ever stayed. The Milnes have thought of every little detail to make the cottages very comfortable. Things like: the bedside table lamps have an electric outlet – perfect for charging a cell phone overnight; there were more than enough hangers in the closet to hang our clothes; I needed a pair of scissors and, sure enough, there were a couple of pairs of scissors in the utensils drawer in the kitchen. Besides the bath towels, there are towels available to take to the beautiful pool.

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The living room in the Nomad cabin

 

The dining area

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The kitchen

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We loved sitting in the comfortable Adirondack chairs on the deck with coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening. It is SO peaceful! There are Canada geese and ducks on the water. We even saw a sea otter sauntering along on the beach on the other side of The Gorge!

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The view from the kitchen

View from the kitchen

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Lots of Canada geese!

Canada geese

 

I highly recommend Portage West if you’re ever looking for a peaceful place to stay in Victoria!

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There are several ways to get to Victoria from Seattle. The fastest, and most fun, way is to fly Kenmore Air from Lake Union to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. Bob and I took Kenmore Air on our last trip to Victoria. The 45-minute flight is absolutely gorgeous; the flight path is over Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Beautiful!

The Victoria Clipper is a high-speed catamaran that takes 2½ hours to go from Seattle’s waterfront to Victoria. Bob took it years ago when he went to Victoria to be a crewmember on a friend’s sailboat in the Swiftsure Race. He said it’s “okay”. It is kind of pricey. I’d like to try it sometime, just for the experience.

If you want to take your car, you’ll have to take a ferry but you still have options.

You can drive across the border at Blaine, WA, to enter Canada. From there, it’s about a 40-minute drive to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. The crossing to the Swartz Bay terminal in Sidney (just north of Victoria) takes about 1 hour and 35 minutes. It’s a beautiful crossing and the BC ferries are MUCH nicer than the Washington State ferries. They feel like little cruise ships. Once in Sidney, it’s about a 30-minute drive to Victoria.

You can also drive 2 hours north to Anacortes, WA, to take a Washington State ferry to Victoria. It’s a beautiful ride that takes a little over two hours cruising between the San Juan Islands. The ferry is comfortable, but not as nice as the BC ferries.

A third ferry you can take is the Black Ball Coho ferry that operates between Port Angeles, WA, and Victoria. Reservations are highly recommended for your car if you’re traveling during the high tourist season in the summer.

Reservations are not required if you walk on. You can pay a daily rate to park your car in one of the parking lots that are near the ferry terminal. That’s exactly what we did last week.

As of this writing (2018), you need cash to pay for parking. The rates that we saw ranged from $10 – $15 dollars a day. The “day” begins and ends at midnight. If you park at noon, that’s the first day. The second day starts at midnight. If you come back on the third day at noon, that’s the third full day. We chose a $12 lot. So our 2 nights away was 3 full days for parking. We owed $36, but we didn’t have the right change so we ended up putting two $20 bills in the envelope to pay.

So how did we get to Port Angeles? We started out on a Washington State ferry.

The Fauntleroy ferry dock to Vashon Island and Southworth is about a mile from our house. We wanted to catch the 8:45 ferry to Southworth to have ample time to get to Port Angeles in time for the 12:45 Coho ferry to Victoria. Sometimes there are long waits for the ferries, so we got to the dock at 8:00 which turned out to be way too early. But you never know.

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On the dock, waiting to drive aboard the ferry

Ready to board the ferry for Southworth.jpg

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The ferry ride to Southworth is about 30 minutes (on the ones that don’t make a stop at Vashon Island). Without any traffic issues, it’s about a 2 hour drive to Port Angeles from Southworth. Traffic was surprisingly heavy but we didn’t encounter any slowdowns so we got to Port Angeles at a little after 11:00. We parked the car and then walked to the ferry terminal to buy our roundtrip tickets.

After getting our tickets we walked to Kokopelli Grill for lunch. Bob had halibut fish and chips and I had fish tacos. The restaurant was nice; our lunches were okay. I would order something different or try a different restaurant next time.

The Coho was quite crowded. We found some seats inside. Bob went exploring and found better seats on the aft deck. It was a great place to sit on a beautiful day. There was a cover for shelter from the sun and a great view.

Arriving in Victoria on the Coho

Arriving in Victoria

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The sailing time to Victoria is 90 minutes so we were at the dock in Victoria at 3:15. Lorne had said he would send one of the GMC employees, Bill, to pick us up. (Thanks, Bill!) So after going through customs we were off to Portage West.

After putting our luggage in the cottage, we headed to the poolside party hosted by GMC. They were celebrating the promotion of one of Lorne and Muggs’ sons, Jordan, to CEO. It was a wonderful party; it was catered with plenty of delicious passed hors oeuvres and there was a delightful Cuban band. It was great to see Lorne, Muggs, most of their grown children (the 4th one, a son, was working on a movie in Vancouver) and their grandchildren.

It was still light after the party. We took a short walk to a nearby Rexall to buy a couple of things. I paid in cash to get $10 Canadian for a bus ride the next day.

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Our plan for the next morning was to catch a city bus across the street and go into the “Inner Harbor” area of Victoria. You can pay the bus driver $5 Canadian to get an all-day bus pass. We thought we’d go to the harbor area, find some breakfast, and then take another bus to Butchart Gardens.

However, before we left, Bob ran into David Milne who offered to give us a ride. (Thank you, David!) We asked him to take us to Blue Fox Café which sounded like a great place for breakfast. Well, apparently it is good and very popular. The line stretched way down the street to get in. Moving on…

David drove us to a nearby place, Jam Café. Its line was just as long as the one at Blue Fox.

I asked David to just drive us to the Inner Harbor and drop us off and we would find a place. While we were stopped at a stop light, Bob spotted Swans Brewery and Pub and asked David about it. David said it’s good; at night it’s a popular place to hear music. It looked like it was open so we thanked David, hopped out and went in.

Swans had just opened for lunch and we were the first customers so we got a great table in their glass-covered sidewalk seating area. The windows were open and it was very pleasant. The menu offers a lot of great-sounding choices. Bob had the “peameal(a type of Canadian bacon) sandwich and I had an especially good burger without the bun.

By the time we were finished with lunch we decided that we didn’t have enough time to do justice to Butchart Gardens. The bus ride was about an hour each way and it would probably be insanely crowded midafternoon on a beautiful summer day. We had dinner plans with Lorne and Muggs, so we couldn’t plan on staying into the evening.

We decided to walk over to the Royal BC Museum. We have been there many times, but they always have different featured exhibits.

Our first stop was at Thunderbird Park, the museum’s collection of totem poles that is just outside the museum. Bob feels that no visit to Victoria is complete without a visit to Thunderbird Park. It is spectacular!

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At the Royal BC Museum

Another totem pole.jpg

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We then went to the current exhibit, Egypt: The Time of Pharaohs. Wow! It is a fascinating exhibit. Some of the artifacts are 4,500 years old! We spent at least 2 hours in it. We really enjoyed it, but when we were done we felt that we were “museumed-out”. We didn’t go to any of the other excellent exhibits. I spent my Canadian $10 on a board book for Laura and Byron’s baby boy, due in November!  

 

We walked down to the dock to see the Duen, a tall ship that’s available for 3-hour cruises in the summer. We enjoyed talking to a young woman who is one of the crew members. She invited us aboard to look around. It would probably be fun to cruise on it sometime.

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In this photo the Duen is at the end of the dock. There are a couple of water taxis (“L’il Toots”) at the dock in the foreground.

Inner harbor of Victoria

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From the Duen we walked over to catch a Victoria Harbor Ferry (We call it “L’il Toot”.) to go across the harbor to the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort. It was easy to get a cab from there to go back to Portage West.

Lorne picked us up and took us to their new home, the penthouse of a beautiful apartment building in Victoria. Their home is spectacular! It has outdoor balconies with seating that goes all around the outside with a view of the Inner Harbor that is way more than 180°. They can watch the ships coming and going and other activity in the harbor, but they are up high enough that it is really quiet.

After visiting on their balcony with glasses of wine, it was time for dinner. We went to one of their favorite restaurants, Glo.

I can see why they like Glo so much. It’s a waterfront restaurant and it has a great menu with a lot of variety. It’s also very popular so it was crowded, but Lorne had made a reservation so we got right in. I really enjoyed the Tan Tan City Salad (“Moroccan inspired salad with blackened sockeye salmon, chopped dates, roasted almonds, avocado, goat cheese, seasonal mixed greens, orange segments + fresh mint in a key lime dressing”!)

Lorne gave us a ride back to Portage West and we enjoyed sitting on the deck before calling it a night.

***

Saturday morning we took a cab to Hotel Grand Pacific to have breakfast before catching the Coho ferry across the street. It was lovely sitting outside on a beautiful morning.

Bob enjoyed his eggs benedict!

Bob's eggs benedict at Hotel Grand Pacific

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We were one of the first to board the Coho and were able to get a front row seat inside.

Front row seats on the ferry

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Once we got into the Strait we didn’t have the clear weather we had had on Thursday. It was cool and a bit foggy. The fog got thicker as we approached Port Angeles. The people who were outside on the bow were ushered inside. A crew member went to the bow to watch for other boats and the Coho blew its fog horn at regular intervals.

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Bob supervising the loading of the cars on the Coho

Bob supervising the loading of the cars

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Bob on the bow

Bob on the bow as we leave Victoria

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Lone crew member on watch as we approached Port Angeles in the fog

Lone crewman on watch in the fog

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We were at the dock right on schedule. As we were walking in to the terminal, we spotted a gull with a little fuzzy chick on the pier. I had never seen a baby gull before!

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Can you see the fuzzy chick just to the left of the gull’s tail? Talk about camouflage!

Gull chick on the Port Angeles dock

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After a quick pass through customs, we got our car to head home.

We had lunch at a great little Thai restaurant in Sequim, Sawadee Thai Cuisine. We had eaten there years ago and it was just as good as I remembered. Bob thought it was right off the highway, but it’s a short drive from the highway and easy to find. It’s obviously very popular and was packed with people. We were able to get a table and the food was worth the moderate wait.

Sawadee Thai Cuisine in Sequim

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After lunch we continued home. We stopped at the 7 Cedars Casino because Bob wanted to get a closer look at the totem poles and other carvings there. They were interesting to see and it was a good little break in the trip. We had heard that you can watch artists carving totem poles. That turned out to be true, but they aren’t there on the weekends.

 

At Seven Cedars Casino

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Some of the totem poles at Seven Cedars Casino

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Seen at Seven Cedars Casino

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The rest of the drive to the Southworth ferry dock was uneventful. Again, traffic was heavy but we moved along at the speed limit the whole way.

Of course, when we reached the dock we found we just missed getting on the ferry that was loading. But the best attitude to have about catching the Vashon/Southworth ferry is to realize you’re going to get on the “whatever” ferry. The schedules are sometimes a bit “loose”. It was a pleasant afternoon to sit on the dock for 45 minutes waiting for the next boat.

We were home again by about 6:30 after two lovely nights in Victoria!

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Victoria

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Instant Pot BBQ St. Louis Style Ribs

June 5, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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Yes! You can use your Instant Pot to make really good BBQ St. Louis Style Ribs! I really love my recipe for Slow Roasted St. Louis Style Ribs, but it takes 4½ – 5 hours. Sometimes you don’t have time for “low and slow”.

I had wanted to make baby back ribs after finding Amy and Jacky’s great looking recipe for Easy BBQ Instant Pot Ribs. They look perfect and have rave reviews. But, alas, the only baby back rack of ribs at Safeway was frozen solid and it was already 3:00. I bought a St. Louis Style rack of ribs and headed home to figure out how to adjust the recipe.

As it turns out, all I had to do is add a bit of time. In a comment to a question about using St. Louis Style ribs, Amy and Jacky replied to simply add 5 – 8 minutes. Bingo!

We prefer ribs with a dry rub and no sauce. I skipped the BBQ sauce and substituted my favorite Southern Barbecue Rub for the salt and pepper to season the ribs. I already had a jar of the rub, so that saved some prep time.

Amy and Jacky recommend using a trivet in the Instant Pot. I used the one that came with the pot and placed the ribs on top of it. It turns out that the St. Louis Style ribs are too tall when they’re placed on the trivet in my 6-quart pot. Baby back ribs would have fit fine. I’m sure you could probably use a trivet with the taller ribs in an 8-quart Instant Pot. I didn’t use the trivet and the ribs turned out fine.

Instant Pot BBQ St. Louis Style Ribs took 1 hour and 45 minutes from the start to sitting down to dinner. That might sound like a long time, but it was only about 20 minutes of active time. And it’s much quicker than my Slow Roasted St. Louis Ribs.

I started the recipe at 5:10. Sealed and started the Instant Pot at 5:25. It was done cooking at 6:10 and the Natural Pressure Release finished at 6:30. I moved the ribs to a baking sheet and roasted them for 15 minutes. As they roasted I put together side dishes, a quick cabbage salad and peas. Everything was done, served and on the table by 6:55. That’s what I call an easy weeknight meal!

I hope you’ll try these tasty ribs. Bob and I loved them! Bob twice enthusiastically said how much he liked them and said they are definitely “blog-worthy”! And do look at Amy and Jacky’s post. They have a great video that shows you just how easy it is to make.

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Instant Pot BBQ St. Louis Style Ribs.jpg

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Instant Pot BBQ St. Louis Style Ribs

(Adapted from Amy+Jacky’s recipe on their Pressure Cook Recipes blog)

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(print the recipe)

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For baby back ribs follow the recipe, shortening the cooking time to 25 minutes.

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Serves 3 – 4   (Baby back ribs will most likely serve 2 – 3.)

 

1 rack St. Louis Style ribs

About ½ cup of Southern Barbecue Rub (recipe below), or your favorite BBQ rub

1/3 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce (Optional. I didn’t use sauce.)

1 cup water (1½ cups of water if you’re using an 8-quart Instant Pot)

 

  1. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs using a blunt knife and a paper towel. (A sharp knife is not recommended because it’s too easy for it to slip and cut you. Watch this video to see the method I use.)

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Ribs with the membrane removed. You can see the dinner knife I used.

St. Louis style pork ribs, membrane removed.jpg

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2. Spread the rub all over both sides of the ribs.

Covered with spice rub.jpg

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3. Put the ribs in the Instant Pot.

In the Instant Pot

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4. Add the water. Seal. Make sure the pressure release handle is in the sealing position. Press the Manual button and set the time for 33 minutes. (For baby back ribs, set the time for 25 minutes.)

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33 minutes, high pressure

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5. When the ribs are done, do nothing and let the pressure release naturally. (Natural Pressure Release) This will take about 20 – 25 minutes and the float valve will go back down. While the pressure is releasing, preheat the oven to 450°.

6. Remove the ribs from the pot and lay them on a baking sheet. If using BBQ Sauce, spread it over the ribs.

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Falling-off-the-bone done.jpg

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7. Roast for 10 – 15 minutes to add a bit of color. Cut the ribs and serve!

 

Southern Barbecue Rub

(Adapted from a recipe in Joy of Cooking)

 

¼ cup sweet paprika

2 tablespoons chili powder (You could use smoked paprika instead.)

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons ground pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

 

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. The rub can be used with pork or beef.

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In the Instant Pot - Copy

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Instant Pot BBQ St. Louis Style Ribs - Copy.jpg

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Grilled Dijon Chicken Thighs

June 1, 2018

 

By Kath Dedon

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I enjoy listening to Tom Douglas’ and Thierry Rautureau’s weekend radio program, Seattle Kitchen. A while ago Thierry talked about his favorite way to grill chicken. I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember that the main ingredients in his marinade were Dijon mustard and olive oil. So, inspired by Thierry, I recently made delicious Grilled Dijon Chicken Thighs.

With only an hour of marinating time, the chicken thighs were nicely seasoned. You could cover the thighs, refrigerate them, and let them marinate for several hours. That would certainly enhance the flavor.

Using my Weber gas grill (which Bob recently thoroughly cleaned and then installed new burners, “flavorizer bars”, and cast iron cooking grates) I grilled the chicken thighs using the Indirect Grilling method.

The chicken thighs were huge, about 8 ounces each, so I thought it would take about 45 minutes to cook them. I checked them at 30 minutes with an instant-read meat thermometer and they were done! They measured 180° in the thickest part.

The thighs were golden brown and were really ready to eat, but I moved them over to the hot side for a couple of minutes to give them some subtle grill marks.

We both really enjoyed these Grilled Dijon Chicken Thighs! They were cooked perfectly and the mustard added great flavor.

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Grilled Dijon Chicken Thighs served with Green Beans

Grilled Chicken and Green Beans

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Grilled Dijon Chicken Thighs

Inspired by Thierry Rautureau (The Chef In The Hat), owner of Luc and Loulay in Seattle

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(print the recipe)

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Serves 2 – 4

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The timing and directions are what worked with my Weber gas grill. You may need to make adjustments for your grill.

 4 chicken thighs, about 2 pounds total

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

 

  1. Whisk the mustard and the olive oil together.
  2. Put the chicken in a baking dish and rub the mustard mixture all over it.
  3. Leave the chicken skin-side down, covered and refrigerated for at least 1 hour.

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Chicken thighs marinating

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4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and gently scrape most of the mustard mixture off, leaving a thin layer.

 

Ready to grill

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5. Start the grill, turning all burners on high. Let it preheat for 10 minutes (15 minutes if you have cast iron grates).

6. When the grill is hot, turn one of the burners off for Indirect Grilling. If you have a 2-burner grill, turn the back one off. If you have a 3-burner grill, turn the center one off. Turn the remaining burner(s) down to Medium heat.

Center grill off

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7. Place the chicken skin-side up over the area that has the burner turned off. Close the lid. With the 2 burners on Medium and the center one off, my grill maintained a temperature of just over 400°.

Indirect grilling

Temperature

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8. Check them with a meat thermometer after about 20 minutes. They are done when the temperature is 165°.

9. If desired, move the chicken over to the hot part of the grill to sear for a minute or two on each side.

Searing a bit

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10. Turn off the grill, remove the chicken and enjoy!

Grilled chicken thighs

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Grilled chicken thighs - Copy

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8 Days in Louisiana

May 4, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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(Print the list of our favorite New Orleans and Louisiana places)

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This is a long post about our recent trip to Louisiana. I wrote it primarily for Bob and myself so we can relive the trip when we read it. All of the things mentioned are restaurants and places that we truly enjoyed, so if you have vacation plans in Louisiana you may find it helpful. If you’re only interested in the recipes on the blog, I promise I’ll be back with a new one soon!

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Bob moved to Seattle from New Orleans in May, 1980. He had lived there for 2 years, long enough to make many life-long friends. I also have 3 first cousins who live in Louisiana with their families. Bob and I got married in 1983, and we now have a lot of favorite people to visit when we go to Louisiana.

We have traveled to Louisiana several times, but we hadn’t been there since 2007 which was before I started this blog. That year we visited New Orleans in early May to go to Jazz Fest with friends from Seattle. Our plan was to have BBQ Shrimp for lunch at Pascal’s Manale on Friday before heading to Jazz Fest. While we were there it started to rain. It rained, and it RAINED! New Orleans had 4.2 inches of rain that afternoon! As we were finishing our lunch, we watched the street fill with water and the TV in the restaurant was showing live video of the rain and mud at Jazz Fest. We ordered another bottle of wine and decided to wait until Saturday to go to Jazz Fest.

 

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral, 2005

March 2005 photo of St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square

 

2018

We couldn’t believe that it’s been 11 years since we had been to New Orleans. We were long overdue.

We planned this trip around the Festival International de Louisiane in Lafayette. One of my cousins, Maggie, lives in Lafayette with her family. She has long told us that we need to go to this special music festival. We had been to New Orleans Jazz Fest several times, but this was the year to go to the Festival in Lafayette.

On Monday, April 23, we flew to New Orleans. We stayed with our good friends, John and Ann, at their beautiful home near Magazine Street. They really enjoy being able to walk to all of the shops and restaurants that are so close to them. It was so great to see them and we were really glad they were in town. They have grandchildren in Boston and Atlanta, so they are often out of town. 😉

When we flew in, John and Ann met us at Meg’s house and the five of us went out for dinner. Dinner was at Brisbi’s. We feasted on raw oysters and Basin Debris Fries (“slow roasted beef debris over cheese fries topped with horseradish cream”) for appetizers and then ordered dinner. I enjoyed their wedge salad with fried shrimp. The  food and service were both great. We were enjoying catching up with each other so much that we didn’t realize that the restaurant had closed. When we left, every other table was empty and the chairs had been put up. We were never once rushed to leave! Amazing!

On Tuesday, Bob and I went to Audubon Park and the zoo. We love the Louisiana Swamp exhibit where they not only exhibit local wildlife, but they also post recipes for many of them. It’s an education about the culture of the Cajun people who live in Southern Louisiana.

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Spanish moss on some, but not all, of the oak trees in Audubon Park

Audubon park, oak tree with Spanish moss

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As seen in the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit at the Audubon Zoo

At Audubon zoo

 

Other meal highlights in New Orleans included lunch at Guys Po-Boys, where we had fried shrimp po-boys, and a steak dinner at the classic Crescent City Steaks.

On Wednesday morning we went to the National World War II Museum, which is most definitely a must-see museum in New Orleans. It’s rated by Trip Advisor as the #1 museum in New Orleans, the #2 museum in the US, and the #2 museum in the world!

We couldn’t believe how much it has grown since we were last there over 11 years ago. When we first visited, the Museum was housed in just one building, the Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. Today there are 5 buildings on 6 acres and there are new buildings planned for the future.

We didn’t have much time before we had to leave for Covington. Our friend, Meg, who works at the Museum, told us that the first thing to do is to see the movie, Beyond All Boundaries, which is narrated by the Executive Producer, Tom Hanks. It is really excellent and gives you a great perspective on what the world was like at the time. The rest of the exhibits are more meaningful after having seen the movie. We left after the movie but decided we had to go back when we returned to New Orleans in five days.

We left the WWII Museum to drive across Lake Pontchartrain on the causeway to visit my cousin, Marty and his wife, Mary Thomas in Covington. It was so great to spend some time with them. Their beautiful home has a park-like backyard and you can walk down to the East Fork Little Bogue Falaya with its white sand beach. We had lunch at the Money Hill Golf Course. Dinner that night was a fantastic Spicy Shrimp Creole that Marty and Mary Thomas made. They said it was adapted from a recipe in Donald Link’s Real Cajun, a cookbook that is a favorite of theirs. (I just got it and I’m looking forward to exploring its recipes.)

 

Bob and Marty and I walked down to the East Fork Little Bogue Falaya

Marty and Bob - East Fork Little Bogue Falaya

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Marty and Mary Thomas’ peaceful backyard

Peaceful backyard

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Lunch the next day was at Acme Oyster House in Covington. We had both raw and chargrilled oysters. Both were delicious, but the chargrilled ones (“sizzling, chargrilled oysters saturated in an herb butter sauce, topped with a special blend of cheese.”) were especially good. I had the Fried Oyster Salad. Bob ordered, and ate, an oyster po-boy, gumbo, and red beans and rice. He didn’t want to miss out on any Louisiana delicacies.

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Acme Oyster House in Covington

 

My fried oyster salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Fried Oyster Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette at Acme Oyster House

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Bob enjoyed his oyster po-boy, gumbo, and red beans and rice!

Bob's Oyster Po-Boy, Seafood Gumbo, and Red Beans and Rice

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That afternoon we cruised a bit of the Tchefuncte River on a 32-foot Grand Banks power boat with some friends of Marty and Mary Thomas. It was just a beautiful afternoon. We sipped wine and enjoyed cheese, salami, and pate.

 

Cruising down the Tchefuncte River near Madisonville, LA

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After docking the boat we headed for dinner at Crabby Shack in nearby Madisonville. I tried a grilled fish that was new to me, Sheepshead. It was delicious served over a salad with remoulade dressing. Bob had crawfish and a small hot sausage po-boy. I tasted the crawfish and they were great. The po-boy featured sausage patties instead of links. Bob really enjoyed it! My big surprise was when I tasted Marty’s fried catfish. I didn’t think I liked catfish, but here it was fresh, thinly sliced, battered lightly, and fried. It was delicious!

We hit the road on Friday to travel to Lafayette. On the way we stopped in Baton Rouge to see our friends, Julia and Stewart & Becky. It was great to see them. We had lunch with Stewart and Becky at Heads & Tails. I had their Shrimp Remoulade Salad. Bob ordered the Fried Oyster BLT. It was a like a club sandwich with 3 slices of bread. The fried oysters were on one side and the BLT was on the other. The waitress said you just have to squish it down to get it in your mouth. Bob removed the middle slice of bread to reduce it a bit.

Bob’s Fried Oyster BLT

Bob's triple decker Fried Oyster BLT at Heads & Tails Seafood in Baton Rouge

 

My Shrimp Remoulade Salad, with the Remoulade Sauce on the side

Shrimp Remoulade Salad with the Remoulade sauce on the side

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We got to Maggie and Rick’s house in Lafayette at about 5:00. Rick was already at the Festival International de Louisiane, so we took an Uber with Maggie to the Festival grounds to meet him.

Bob expected the Festival to be a lot like Jazz Fest, but it’s really quite different. As their website says, it’s “a non-profit organization that produces the largest international music and arts festival in the United States with a special emphasis on the connection between Acadiana and the Francophone world”. There were musicians from all over the world performing on 5 different stages. We saw musicians from Gambia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Quebec, Ireland, Jamaica, Iran, New Brunswick, Haiti, and Louisiana.

 

On Friday night we saw Mydy Rabycad, a group from the Czech Republic

Mydy Rabycad from the Czech Republic

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Unlike Jazz Fest, the Festival is free, and it is strongly supported by the Lafayette community. 2600 people volunteer in various roles to make it all happen. The food and drinks are reasonably priced ($4 beers). The food was really good! Over the course of 3 days we enjoyed shrimp po-boys, pulled pork, crab cakes, jambalaya, and grilled gator. My favorite meal in Lafayette, though, was Maggie’s homemade crawfish pie that we had for dinner Sunday night. It was fabulous!

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Bob and Kath making the “Y” in Lafayette at the Festival

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Besides music, The Festival features many artists and they are quite good. 

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Alligators represented in art at The Festival

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Bob doing his best alligator imitation

Bob making his best alligator face

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We even bought a couple of pieces and had them shipped to Seattle.

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Our mask by Calvin Walton 

Mask by Calvin Walton

 

Our flying fish sculpture by Mitch Landry

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On Saturday we enjoyed 6 different musical performances.

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Frigg, from Finland

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Socks in the Frying Pan, from Ireland, as seen from our shaded seats

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The Festival is indeed free, but you can buy a “Bons Temps Pass” and Maggie and Rick treated us to that perk. You wear a wrist band each day, and it entitles you to front row viewing right in front of the stages, shaded seating with chairs, and private air-conditioned restroom trailers which were kept spotlessly clean throughout the festival. It was very nice to have that pass. (Thank you, Maggie and Rick!)

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We had the Bons Temps Pass

Festival pass

Pass benefits

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On Sunday, before the Festival opened at noon, we went to Mass at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. In honor of the Festival, the Mass was in French and the choir was Les Jeunes Chanteurs d’Acadie from New Brunswick, Canada. The acoustics in the Cathedral are wonderful and the music was just beautiful. We saw the choir again later in the day at the Festival.

 

Inside the Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

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VERY large oak tree at the Cathedral

Oak at St. John's

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After Mass we enjoyed another afternoon of great music at The Festival!

On Monday, April 30, we returned to New Orleans via US 90 so we could stop at Avery Island to tour the Tabasco factory. I had purchased tickets for the self-guided tour online. I don’t know if it’s necessary to purchase tickets in advance, but it seemed like a good idea. The tour is very well done. Each area is numbered so you know where to go next. There are brief videos at each section that describe what you’re seeing.

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Barrels of Tabasco

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Caps being put on the bottles

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Bob actually did not plan his outfit to match the Tabasco bottles. The Original Tabasco Sauce is his very favorite hot sauce.

Bob at the Tabasco Sauce Factory

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The Tabasco Gift Shop had an amazing assortment of all things Tabasco! They provide pretzel sticks to use for tasting the different flavors of the sauce. One product that was new to us was Tabasco Sriracha sauce. We loved that one. We didn’t want to carry it home; I trusted that I would be able to order it online. Sure enough, I found Tabasco Sriracha on Amazon. It’s being delivered today.

After our tour, we continued on US 90 through the Acadiana Region of Louisiana toward New Orleans. We were driving along and Bob mentioned a great seafood place, Spahr’s, which he had visited near Des Allemands about 40 years ago. He said they had a giant stuffed turtle.

Not long after our conversation we drove past Spahr’s on the highway! We were ready for lunch so Bob pulled off the highway and we drove back to the restaurant. Bob looked around for the turtle, but it wasn’t there. He asked about it and was told that the restaurant he remembered had burned due to a kitchen fire. They opened another restaurant in Thibodaux and then rebuilt at the original location in 2006.

The stuffed turtle may have been lost, but they had a photo of a huge turtle right by our table. Spahr’s is known for their Wild Caught Des Allemands Catfish” so, naturally, that’s what we had. I had a half order of their “original” Catfish Chips with French fries. Bob had the Monday special, Catfish Chips with red beans and rice. The catfish was fantastic! I can no longer say that I don’t like catfish. I’m just picky about the source of the catfish and how it’s prepared!

 

Spahrs Seafood Restaurant on Hwy 90 just west of Des Allemandes.jpg

 

Really delicious catfish!

Catfish chips at Spahrs

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When we got back to New Orleans we went back to the WWII Museum. The first thing we did was to go to the interactive Final Mission: USS Tang Experience. It’s a submarine experience that places visitors aboard the most successful submarine in WWII for its fifth and final war patrol. Each person is given a card with a picture of one of the men on the submarine and your assigned station. I was 28-year-old Pete Narowanski from Baltimore, MD. I was assigned to station 13, the Torpedo Data Computer. The presentation is very moving and it gives you a feeling for what it would have been like to have been on that mission.

That night we had dinner at Juan’s Flying Burrito at the Uptown location (5538 Magazine Street), not to be confused with their Lower Garden District location at 2018 Magazine Street. Our friend, Meg, joined us as did my New Orleans cousin, Maureen, and her family. Maureen and Steve’s college-aged daughters were home for a brief visit before heading off for internships. It was wonderful to have the chance to see the whole family!

To celebrate crawfish season, Juan’s featured Crawfish Enchiladas and that’s exactly what Bob and I enjoyed. We may have some great Mexican restaurants at home, but none of them serve crawfish enchiladas!

We had a full day on May 1, our last day in New Orleans. We met our friends, Berkley and Susan, for breakfast at Riccobono’s Panola Street Café. I was excited to see liver and onions on the breakfast menu, so that’s what I had with grits. Bob chose eggs, bacon, and a biscuit that he declared to be really good. Susan had to leave early to teach a ceramics class, and we learned from Berkley that she is quite the accomplished artist. Besides teaching classes, her ceramics are featured in the gift shop at the New Orleans Museum of Art!

 

Riccobono’s Panola Street Cafe

Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe.jpg

 

My liver and onions with grits! 🙂

Liver and Onions and grits at Riccobono's Panola Street Cafe.jpg

 

After breakfast we drove out to the art museum to see Susan’s art. It is truly beautiful. As Susan says on her website, “The Shop carries a range of my work from tiny boxes and pitchers to floral bowls and large curious animals.” It was fun to see these creations made by our talented friend.

 

New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Art Museum.jpg

 

Ceramics by Susan Bergman

By Susan Bergman.jpg

Ceramics by Susan Bergman.jpg

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We met our friends, Victor and Bunny, for lunch at Mandina’s, “New Orleans’ favorite restaurant for Italian and seafood home-style cooking for more than eight decades.” They were featuring soft shell crab, so I had fried soft shell crab with French fries. Fantastic! And it was wonderful to see Victor and Bunny. It had been too long.

 

Soft Shell Crab at Mandina’s

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After lunch we still had some time before our evening flight home, so we drove out to the Southern Yacht Club to see its new building. We had visited the old clubhouse prior to Hurricane Katrina. The clubhouse was flooded, but it was a fire after the storm that destroyed it. With online coverage of the destruction in New Orleans, we watched live videos of the building fully engulfed in flames. It was surrounded by flood waters and it was impossible for fire fighters to reach it.

We visited New Orleans in 2006, 8 months after Katrina. We went out to SYC and they were back in business, but they were operating out of trailers. There were still boats under water at the destroyed docks, including a sailboat that Bob had raced on in the late ‘70s. Most of their trophies and memorabilia had been lost. We took a burgee from our SYC (Seattle Yacht Club) to help them rebuild their collection. When we visited the new building on Tuesday, they had a fine collection of burgees displayed in the bar, including one from the Seattle Yacht Club. Perhaps it is the one we gave them.

 

Some of the burgees in the bar at the Southern Yacht Club, including one from the Seattle Yacht Club

Burgees at SYC

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After touring the yacht club we headed out to the airport for our flight home. It was a fabulous 8-day vacation in Louisiana. Amazingly, we visited for 8 days without ever going to the French Quarter. That was a first! The best part of this trip was seeing our Louisiana family and friends. We can’t let another 11 years go by before we see them again.

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Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup

April 13, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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After returning from a ski trip to Whistler, we invited the out-of-town ski friends who were in Seattle on Tuesday night for a soup dinner at our house. I decided to make Instant Pot Chicken Soup, so I borrowed Laura and Byron’s Instant Pot so I could make 2 pots of soup. Our guests included 6 good friends from New York and Michigan. I knew that some local friends and Laura and Byron were coming, but I didn’t really know for sure how many to expect. I wanted to have plenty of soup.

I learned that another friend from Maine was in town and there was a possibility that she would be joining us. Mary Kate is a vegetarian so I made this Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup to have available for her and anyone else who might show up and prefer a vegetarian option. We had plenty of soup! (As it turned out, Mary Kate couldn’t make it. We did get to see her the next night at Carrie and Rhett’s house.)

I ate the Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup, and a few other people tried it as well. It was really a great lentil soup! It’s vegan and gluten free. It gets its “creamy” texture from a can of drained chickpeas blended with water and a bit of olive oil and lemon juice.

The recipe is from Cooking Light’s web site. Their recipe called for “green lentils”. Apparently, there are lentils known as “French green lentils” that look very similar to the common “regular” brown lentils sold at most grocery stores. I used French “lentilles du Puy because I had just enough in my cupboard. They are darker than green or brown lentils. I like the way they hold their shape even after slow cooking for hours.

Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup is a vegan soup that can be enjoyed by all. I don’t think anyone will miss the meat whenever I serve it. It’s a keeper that I’m glad to add to my repertoire.

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Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup

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Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup

(Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe)

 

(print the recipe)

 

My Vitamix worked really well when I blended the chickpeas. If you don’t have a powerful blender but do have a food processor, I’m sure you could use that. It probably won’t be quite as creamy, but it will still work and taste delicious.

 

Serves 5 (about 1½ cups each)

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A bit of oil for the slow cooker

4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (I actually used 2 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon Vegan Certified No Chicken Base and 4 cups of water.)

1 cup uncooked green lentils  (I used French “lentilles du Puy)

1 cup chopped yellow onion

¾ cup chopped carrots

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ½ – ¾ teaspoon table salt)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 thyme sprigs

4 garlic cloves, minced

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1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

¾ cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

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2 cups thinly sliced lacinato kale

½ teaspoon sherry or red wine vinegar

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  1. Put a small amount of oil in the slow cooker and rub it around the interior with a paper towel.
  2. Put the broth, lentils, onion, carrots, cumin, salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic in the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 7 hours.
  3. Put the chickpeas, water, olive oil, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until it is smooth.
  4. Add the chickpea mixture and the kale to the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 30 additional minutes.
  5. Stir in the vinegar and serve.

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Slow Cooker Creamy Lentil Soup - Copy

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Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad

March 17, 2018

By Kath Dedon

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About 3 weeks ago I had a great dinner with Laura and Byron while Bob was away on a ski trip. Byron’s beef roast was amazing! He had seasoned the roast and then put it in a sous vide bath. He then refrigerated it before finishing it in the oven. Really, really good!

Laura made a salad that I just loved! It was the Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad from Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites. I have the book and made a mental note to make the salad soon.

I was amused that Deb wrote that her family calls it the “Haters’ Salad”. She explained that many people have strong feelings about fennel, celery, and even pears. She made the salad anyway because she loves all of them.

Bob hates fruit in salads. So I was sure that he wouldn’t like it, but I loved it so much I made it anyway. It turns out he liked it! When I was surprised that he liked it so much, he said that his serving had only had one slice of pear. 😉

All of the ingredients in this salad just work very well together. There’s the crunch of the fennel and celery, the tender sweet slices of pear, the tasty toasted hazelnuts and the salty Pecorino Romano. The lemon juice and olive oil dressing is perfect. The salad holds up pretty well, so it can be made a bit ahead of time. I enjoyed leftover salad for breakfast the next day!

I whole-heartedly recommend Deb’s latest cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Every Day. I’m looking forward to trying many more recipes in it. And do give this Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad a try.

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Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad

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Fennel, Pear, Celery, and Hazelnut Salad

(Adapted from Deb Perelman’s recipe in Smitten Kitchen Every Day)

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(print the recipe)

 

Serves 3 – 4

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1 medium (about 1 pound) fennel bulb, thinly sliced, with some fronds saved for garnish

2 large celery stalks

¾ medium pear (red D’Anjou is especially pretty), halved, cored, and thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and cooled

½-ounce piece of Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved (That’s what I had and used. You could use Parmesan as Deb did.)

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  1. Toss the fennel, celery and pear together in a bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and pepper and toss.
  3. Add the hazelnuts and cheese; toss and serve garnished with the fennel fronds.

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Fennel, Pear, Celery, & Hazelnut Salad

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