Tag Archives: Walla Walla

Patio Parties & Summer Sleepovers: Arugula and Pear Salad with White Truffle Vinaigrette

Do you remember the last time you really laughed? Not the everyday laugh you give the barista and her joke about the rain, but the kind that begins in your belly and ends with tears in your eyes and sore sides from mirth. The kind that makes you feel like a child again, like all is right with the world, like you can do anything.

This past weekend my Wine Book Club took our annual trip to Walla Walla where we enjoyed days of delicious tastings, nights of ridiculous dancing, and slow to start mornings shared over coffee and Pringles. Amidst the sultry readings of wine tasting notes (“What do you mean you can’t taste the leather and wet rocks?!”) and epic meals, we all became kids again, if only for a moment.

A brief moment of calm on the bikes.

Perhaps no moment of the trip felt more carefree than our Saturday evening tandem biking adventure to the Safeway, to get mixers for our cocktails, our palettes tired of wine, albeit briefly. The heat of the day was waning, and buoyed by the freedom of our weekend escape, we tied up our sundresses, and loaded ourselves onto the rickety, double-bikes. We shouted and shrieked (okay, mostly that was me), Nadia the personal trainer called out instructions, and the locals looked at us for the fools that we were. Careening around corners and filled with a mix of fear and joy, I found myself laughing harder than I have in months.

My new favorite breakfast spot in Walla Walla. Try the Migas or the Benedict.

Of course, no trip to Walla Walla would be complete without ridiculously good meals. A new addition to the food scene there is a brilliant breakfast spot, aptly named Bacon & Eggs. Everything we had was exceptional, from the Migas to the Heirloom Tomato Benedict, set amongst a decor that is both witty and whimsical, finding a perfect balance of each.

The welcoming committee upon arriving home.

Dinner at T.Maccarones is a must, and while it’s hard to say what was the best, this salad was the only thing we ordered two of so perhaps it deserves the prize. The girl’s were adamant that I figure out how to recreate the addictively pleasing combination of the salty arugula, bitter frisee, juicy pear, and finger licking white truffle vinaigrette. The good news is that this is pretty damn close. The bad news is, you might never want to eat anything else ever again.

Arugula and Pear Salad with White Truffle Vinaigrette
Serves 4
Inspired by T.Maccarones in Walla Walla

Seriously so addicting and so good.

1 bag arugula, washed and dried
1 cup frissee, washed and dried
1 very ripe pear, cut julienne style
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Hunk good parmesan
1 egg yolk
2 TB shallots, coarsely chopped
2 TB champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1/2 TB honey, or to taste
2 TB Truffle Oil, or to taste
Salt and Pepper

  1. Using an immersion blender or food processor, combine the shallot, vinegar, and egg yolk for about 10 seconds. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Adding in a very slow stream, combine the olive oil, allowing the dressing to thicken and emulsify.
  3. Add the honey and truffle oil, using more or less pending on how “truffle-y” you like it to be. Add a shake salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl place the arugula, frissee, pear, and pecans. Toss well with the dressing, and finish with parmesan shavings.
  5. Prepare to become obsessed with this salad.
Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under 15-Minute-Meals, Entertaining, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

When I Grow Up: Grilled Pear & Bacon Pizza with Balsamic Reduction

  1. Dolphin Trainer
  2. Jazz Singer
  3. MAC Make-up Counter Woman that sprays you with perfume
  4. Famous food blogger

So went the list of jobs we would have if money was no object, talents endless, and our lives different. We were five women in a minivan (so hot), headed away from the reality of our lives and towards Walla Walla, WA for a weekend of food, wine, and general gluttony (with a little karaoke and dancing thrown in for good measure).

Becky, Erina, Andrea, and Anna-Lea at Saviah Cellars (so good!) The Lovely Ila must be taking the pic.

TruCellars

 You can just imagine how many stops five women require (there’s coffee, snacks, and the comically unending stream of “10 minute warning until I need the loo!” shout-outs). Fortunately, one of those stops included Wine O’Clock in Prosser, WA. Once we got ourselves off the highway and began the highly sophisticated process of “follow the dot, follow the dot…nope, we’re going away from the dot…turn around” iPhone navigating, we finally found it. It is a darling spot and an excellent way to break up the drive. The wines are sold at retail prices, so they are very affordable and the menu itself boasts a great selection.

Perhaps the best item on the menu is their sweet and savory pizza, a pear, bacon, and cheese concoction that absolutely delights.

Having returned home and (not-so) stealthily snuck all my wine into the house so Matt wouldn’t see it, I set about re-creating this. The combination of the sweet pear, with the salty bacon, and pungent sheepsmilk is an absolute hit.  Throw that on top of a store-bought dough and you’ll seem pulled together and glamorous enough to maybe be one step closer to your dream job…whatever it may be.

Grilled Pear & Bacon Pizza with Balsamic Reduction

Grilled Pear & Bacon Pizza

1 store bought pizza dough, thawed and allowed to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

8 pieces bacon

1 medium Walla Walla Sweet Onion, sliced into thin rings

3/4 TB Brown Sugar

1/3 lb cheese (you can do different options here. A gorgonzola would be good, although I opted for something a bit subtler and did a raw cowsmilk cheese from Switzerland that has some bite, but isn’t overpoweringly stinky)

2 pears, ripe but firm

4 TB Olive Oil

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

  1. Cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from the pan and set on paper towels to absorb grease. Coarsely chop. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, on very low heat in a small frying pan, cook the onions and brown sugar in 1 TB of olive oil until soft and carmelized. About 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Shred the cheese and thinly slice the pear. Set aside.
  4. Turn your grill on, and get as hot as possible.
  5. Divide the dough in half and on a floured surface roll out until about 1 cm thick.
  6. Brush one side with 1 TB olive oil, reduce flame on grill to medium, and put on grill, oil side down. Close top and cook 3-4 minutes until golden and puffing up. Remove from grill, brush 1 TB oil on un-grilled side, and put on a plate, grill marks up.

    One-Side Grilled, One-Side To Go

  7. Brush remaining 1 TB olive oil on top of pizza and top with cheese, carmelized onions, bacon, and pear. Return to grill and cook another 3-4 minutes.
  8. Remove and allow to cool slightly. Drizzle with Balsamic Reduction Sauce if you like and enjoy.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I Told a Fib. Okay, a Lie. – Braised Pork Belly Tacos

Today I told a fib (okay a lie), and I blamed it on the kids. Well, the puppy that is.

I’ve been riding up a storm lately because it’s beautiful out and I’m very lucky to have incredible horses available to me. I’m hopelessly in love with the four-legged boys of the equine variety, and have resorted to my Tween habits of thumbing longingly through the Dover saddlery catalog and making notes of all the things I would buy if I won the lottery.  As such, I’ve been gone a lot lately, and have not seen much of my boys of the two and four-legged human/canine variety.

Monsieur LaCroix

I’m off this weekend to Walla Walla for a girl’s trip of food, wine, and general gluttony, so any chance of catching up this weekend will have to be satisfied with late night silly text messages that don’t make any sense the next morning.  Which is all to say that when I realized I was leaving tomorrow, and I hadn’t seen Matt all week, and the only thing standing in front of me and him and Duke and Onca enjoying a delicious picnic on the lake was Puppy School….

…I told a fib.

Okay a lie.

Duke has had a cough, so I slightly bent the truth and said he still had a cough and therefore we couldn’t come to class. How powerful a change of tense can be. If you’re reading this Linda…I apologize.

I know I’m being very silly. No one but me would make up a tall tale to get out of elective puppy school, but there you have it.  I told a fib…okay a lie. And so with that, we packed ourselves up, loaded up the picnic basket with a bottle of wine, some meats and cheeses, and the leftover fixings from possibly the most delicious Pork Belly Tacos I’ve ever had. To be fair (and HONEST), I don’t think I’ve ever had pork belly tacos…but these were pretty freaking good. They are wildly unhealthy, so don’t do them all the time, but for a summer picnic on the lake, these finger licking bundles are about as good as it gets. No lie.

Braised Pork Belly Tacos
Adapted from Have Knives, Will Cook
4-6 Servings

For the pork:
2-½ lbs. boneless skinless pork belly
1 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 c. white distilled vinegar
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
crushed red pepper (optional)
salt & pepper

For the toppings bar:
Sliced Avocado
Salsa
Thinly Sliced Red Cabbage
8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper
Lime Wedges
Soft corn tortillas

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position the rack in the center of the oven.

2.  Lightly score the pork belly on the fat side by making a few 1/8″ deep cuts.  Generously season the pork belly with salt and pepper.  In a large cast-iron skillet or dutch oven, put the mean fat side down over medium heat. Slightly sear on both sides or until a pale golden brown.

3. Remove the meat from the pan and cut into 6-8 pieces, about 4 oz each. Drain the excess fat from the pan and return the meat, positioning with the fat side down.  Add the orange juice, vinegar, garlic, and a pinch of crushed red pepper so that the liquid comes halfway up the pieces of meat. Cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil (not necessary if using a dutch oven) and bake in the oven 1-2 hours until the meat pulls apart easily with a fork. Flip the meat halfway through.

4. While the meat cooks, prepare the garnishes. To make the Cilantro Lime Crema, mix the cilantro, lime, and sour cream.

5. When the pork is cooked, let it rest covered in the cooking liquid for 5-10 minutes before pulling apart.  Once it has rested, shred the meat with a pair of forks, or your fingers and mix it with just enough of the braising liquid to coat each morsel.  Add salt to taste.

6.  Heat the tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet (cast iron works best) over medium-low heat until they are soft and keep them warm, wrapped in aluminum foil or a clean towel.

7. Serve the tortillas, the meat, and the toppings bar and let folks go to town.

Enjoy!

1 Comment

Filed under Lactose Free, Uncategorized

Eat. Breathe. Love. – Baked Artichoke Dip

MorningMimosas

Morning Mimosas in Walla Walla

I recently watched Julia Robert’s Eat. Pray. Love. and felt that while it was cute and moderately interesting it was not the brilliant and awe-inspiring story the critics had made it out to be. For those of you not familiar with the plot, Elizabeth Gilbert, successful NY author who seems to have it all wakes up one night and realizes she doesn’t want to be married anymore. What ensues is her personal struggle to figure out who she is, via three-month stints in Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Bali (Love).

While I can’t claim to be nearly as tortured as Elizabeth, or as glamorous as Julia, I am at an interesting moment in my life. I am soon to be completing a one year contract doing work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. However, in a move so uncharacteristic I’m questioning it myself I have NOT immediately lined up the next project. Rather, I’m hoping to take one month off before beginning my next adventure February 14th. Now, to most people taking one month off at some point in their late 20s or early 30s doesn’t seem so crazy. But, we’re talking about me here. The person who has blissfully had her life scheduled in 15 minute increments since the day I turned 14 and got my first Day-Timer. I am a person who craves order and control, and I’ve very purposely built a life on that.

So…upon assignment completion I will be kicking off my own little mini version of Eat. Pray. Love. Being a rather unsure agnostic I knew the Pray part wasn’t going to work so well, so I’ve changed it to Breathe.

Eat. – Here forth commences one month of totally indulgent cooking. I’m going to make sauces that take forever, I’m going to make so many muffins I don’t know what to do with them, I’m going to discover grocery stores in Seattle’s International District that I never even knew existed and I’m going to finally bite the bullet and try to make foie gras.

Breathe. – Does anyone else find breathing impossible? I do. I often realize as I’m falling asleep at night that I haven’t taken a single deep breath. So…I’m going to do yoga or Pilates every day and I won’t even ask the instructors if they have a speed class available.

Love. – They say that having a partner by your side makes the uncertain times that much easier. I couldn’t agree more. My lovely husband has been an absolute champion for this little adventure. What’s more…when I suggested to him that as part of this chapter I should perhaps take a cousin trip to Puerto Rico he totally agreed! So that’s how this experiment will end. One week in Puerto Rico with my lovely cousins.

Just some of the gang.

Just some of the gang.

This fall, as a sort of precursor to Puerto Rico, five first cousins set off for Walla Walla, WA. Arriving from Seattle and Portland we had an absolutely blissful weekend full of food, wine, laughter, dancing, and entirely ridiculous quotes that would make sense to no one else but us. We didn’t so much cook for the weekend as much as “melt stuff” but it was perfect all the same. This baked artichoke dip is sinfully delicious even if a bit ghetto. Make it ahead of time so that your guests don’t know what’s in it.

If bread, cheese, and artichokes don’t say “love” I don’t know what does.

Baked Artichoke Dip

1 medium-sized round loaf bread (cheap is okay)
1 can artichokes (well-drained and coarsely chopped)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded + more for topping
2/3 cup mayo (don’t even bother with the light variety)
1 TB Lemon juice

Baked Artichoke Dip

Baked Artichoke Dip

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Carve out the round loaf of bread, reserving “filling” so that you can use it as crostini later. Cube filling into 2-inch chunks.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and transfer to waiting bread bowl. Top with extra Parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until brown and bubbling. For last 10 minutes add bread chunks until lightly toasted. This is the perfect appetizer for a winter gathering.

**All photos by my lovely cousin Annie Laurie Malarkey.**

4 Comments

Filed under Comfort Foods, Kitchen Trials and Tribulations, Make ahead, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian