Cookbook show offers holiday meal ideas

To me, now and forever, I promise to be socially responsible and have enough self-respect that I will not ever lie in a comatose state for five days due to uncontrolled candy eating from the Trick or Treat bag.

There are no records to prove it, mind you. However, I have every reason to believe that the days after Halloween not only get darker and shorter; but the mixed consumption of Snickers, Mars, and Milkyway (all consumed at the same time by millions of people on the same night) put added weight on the earth’s axle spinning everyone on the planet with optimal velocity into. . . The Holidays.

Soon our days will be spent with good food and good conversations. Our appetites titillated with enormous feasts.  As a host, we need more than anything to be able to relax and enjoy these special moments. Difficult after having raised our blood pressure to new heights due to being tricked into eating Halloween candy! It is close to November, and we are recovering so we need to restore our enthusiasm for the plunge into holiday eating.

But stop right there, because the fact is, like a lot of us, I need to regain my composure and adding there are ONLY 68 DAYS ‘TIL CHRISTMAS. We have got to paint the living room, sew drapes, hook a carpet, make matching outfits and bake!  We cannot cook last years’ appetizer again for this year’s party. Help!

Feeling flushed and breathless I found myself searching for recipes and found them last Saturday at the Great American Cookbook show held at Woodinville’s Columbia Winery.   Led through the front door of the winery I could feel myself begin to relax as I entered a room with two huge, beautiful chandeliers, chamber music playing softly and a roaring fire in the fireplace.

French patio doors opened into the gift shop, and Northwest authors cookbooks arranged attractively on roundtables throughout the room.
Many local books were on display, from Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas to Junior League of Seattle to Pike Place Market Cookbook, by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

Sampling Gratin of Apricots with Rum ( a French dessert) I spoke with Steve Taylor who was autographing his book, Dining Ethnic Around Puget Sound.

“A Whitman sample of 125 restaurants and 235 recipes,” Taylor said. Showing me his book, he explained that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book goes to Northwest Harvest, a leading hunger response program in Washington state. “A book about fine dining to benefit those that don’t have enough to eat.’’

He and his wife, Mary, spent many hours researching opinions of others and reading restaurant reviews to find the best restaurant. They then mailed letters to restaurants expecting a flood of return mail, only a trickle returned. English is a second language to many ethnic restaurants and translating some of the letters and also downsizing complicated recipes was a real challenge.

A mix of Jewish, Creole, Indian, French and Vietnamese recipes, to name a few, and a fabulous glossary of ethnic ingredients, I highly recommend for entertaining guests with unique dishes over the holidays.

How were 1,000 books selected? ‘It started with a list of 2,400 books from Pacific Pipeline distributor,” said Peggy Rawson, Culinary Director for Columbia Winery.   Rawson started at Columbia when it was called Associated Vintners, which is still the name of the parent company, which just recently purchased Paul Thomas Winery.

In a short amount of time, she was expecting 260 people from the Spirit of Washington dinner train to disembark and attend the cookbook show. With her bubbly enthusiasm and still very pronounced English accent she sets a mood of excitement that runs throughout the winery.  When asked what her official title designation was, she asked if I had brought a lot of paper. Her work week is sometimes 80 hours. She has an extensive background in catering having owned and operated Penny Farthing Catering for many years where her food and wine pairing had quite a reputation.

She even created the recipes for the neck hangers you find on Columbia wine, which can be quite a challenge when she only has three inches of space, she has to find a recipe that has 10 or fewer ingredients.  Head of procurement several times for KTCS pledges, her passion for enjoying good causes an interesting people gives Penny the spirit to walk up to celebrities like Graham Kerr, introduce herself and end up maintain a lasting friendship. She has even found time to have a restaurant review column that runs in the Journal-American every Friday.

Her reviews have an incredible following, and sometimes the restaurants are not prepared for the double in business when she gives a five-star review. Always thinking of the public first, she tries to give an honest view of the food, and with her background in wine and food, she is a natural reviewer.

Few things are as pleasant as a recipe that can be an appetizer for your first-holiday party or even turn into the main course. Enjoy serving one of Penny’s recipes for your first-holiday party and relax.

An appetizer serves 12-15. Will feed 6-8 if served as a main course.

¼ cup oil
¼ cup Columbia Chardonnay
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
Three large garlic cloves, minced
One teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
One teaspoon dried tarragon
½-one teaspoon Tabasco
2 lbs uncooked large shrimp (24-36 count)
¼ cup toasted breadcrumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine first seven ingredients in a two-quart baking dish. Add shrimp and mix well. Sprinkle toasted bread crumbs and grated parmesan over shrimp. Bake 10-15 minutes, then serve immediately on toothpicks as appetizers or over pasta for a substantial lunch or supper dish.