Cooking in front of the camera

I was telling my neighbor, Margo, how the pressure of cooking next to professional Chef Kathy Casey and on-air personality George Ray of Channel 9 KCTS was more pressure than a false start at a relay race.

Margo said, “You ninny, you should be like the rest of us and hate to cook.”

A parenthetical note here. I do hate some parts of cooking like grease clogged sinks, burnt pots and children who say “yuck”.

Well there’s nothing to do when you discover you are addicted to eating except learn to cook. So, I make no apologies that I was excited to find out that from 200 entries I was one of 16 picked to appear on Channel 9’s “S is for Salad” pledge program cooking show.

The show aired on June 15 (and for you lovers of cooking shows it will appear again on August 17 at 4 p.m.)

I practiced a few times my recipe for “Tomato Soup Salad Dressing”.

OK, I admit it, I practiced that recipe every day for a week.

Nicole Metcalf, co-producer with James Nicoloro, met me at KCTS Broadcasting House on June 15 and escorted me to the “Green Room”. I had to elbow my way in as many winners brought family member.

Everyone was nearly crazy with anticipation. You were immediately overpowered with the sense of excitement that comes from knowing in minutes we victorious contestants had to think, speak, cook, and look cool in front of LIVE TV cameras and all the relatives we had threated if they didn’t watch the show.

Some winners like Carol and Stan Merrill of Woodinville—who would not be seen until the end of the three hour program—helped others get ready. They had entered because they enjoy cooking with each other and friends.
Lynne Conway of Renton wanted to share her Grandmas secret salad: Julia Jenkins came all the way from Victoria B.C. where she has a radio talk show.

Even though I was sitting there minding my own business trying to act as cool as the underside of a pillow, Lorna Davis, KCTS special events coordinator, looked right at me and asked those who were waiting if they would answer the pledge phones.

What the heck—let’s do it. I was already exhausted and since we were unable to have a couple of practice runs cooking, what was a little more pressure!

As fast as I could fill out the pledge card that phone would ring repeatedly. It was a mad rush and an exhilarating experience.

Then it hit me: (after four phone calls) I had 30 minutes to get my salad greens chopped and ready? I had to make a quick exit back to the green room.

It was time.

The Producers of the show came into the Green Room, whipped my ingredients on to a cart and wheeled them down the hall with me following. I felt like a Christian heading towards the coliseum to face the lions.

The efficient crew within seconds had run a microphone cord in and out of my apron. Whisked my blender, bowls and ingredients onto the table and sandwiched me between Kathy and George. I had no idea the cameras were on and rolling until George Ray magnanimously said he had read my column, “Overdone and Undercooked!” My heart went aflutter.

He had a script of three questions to ask me and I had memorized some really intelligent answers to all of them. However, after the first question he ad-libbed and I thought to myself Gaaackk! What followed were a few tense moments when the vinegar poured more on the floor than in the blender but all and all it was a nightmare; scared and nervous but the best time I ever had! After that experience how do you just go back to your life?

The show was a huge hit and the station raised almost $50,000 dollars for public TV. The station is 42 percent funded by subscribers. As we lovers of cooking know that every Sunday KCTS runs it cooking shows, but I bet you didn’t know that Graham Kerr’s Kitchen (formerly The Galloping Gourmet) produces his show locally right here at KCTS.

And “Cucina Amore” with host Nick Stellino spends several months in Seattle to film his program right at KCTS, though he lives in California.

“You saw that,” my neighbor Margo asked as I proudly smiled and nodded my head.

Here, then, is the winning recipe (You can also have the other 199 recipes by contacting KCTS to purchase their ‘S is for Salad” cookbook and also help a good cause.

TV! TOMATO SOUP SALAD DRESSING
Notice, now! No one will believe you when you tell them this was made from a can of soup. There are two reasons. For one thing, this tangy thick dressing will put a blush on any salad. For another to be perfectly honest it’s hard to single out any one explanation, but kids will ask for it instead of bottled Ranch salad dressing.

1 can condensed tomato soup
¾ cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 small onion chopped (1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ cup vegetable oil
Combine soup, vinegar, salt, paprika, pepper, sugar, mustard, onion and garlic in container of electric blender, cover whirl until smooth.

Set blender on lowest speed (it is just like making mayonnaise) add oil very slowly.

Whirl a few seconds longer to blend thoroughly. Or you may put all the ingredients in a large bowl. Then beat with rotary blender until blended. Refrigerate

Sampling the true French pate

As a person who cannot resist a gastronomical treat, I was delighted when the Citizen asked me to attend a pate and wine-tasting party with photographer Carla Anderson at Ste. Michelle Winery. The brochure was filled with black and white and color photographs of the pates. The brochure described these as among the best.

After undertaking the task of baking a French terrine and other pates in my French cooking lessons. Immediately my mouth begin to water. As I knew of the pleasing taste of a fresh and flavorful pate.

Pates have been baked in France since the Middle ages. The centuries old method of day-long baking preserving themselves in their own juices and natural seasoning using spices as a preservative not chemicals. For those of you who are not familiar with pates they come in several shapes and contain a variety of ingredients.

The basic element is the liver of either goose, duck or chicken. Seasonings can be simple or exotic.
Aspic, pistachios, truffles, cognac, ham, venison and pork are often used to create texture and flavors. When meat is baked in an earthenware casserole lined with pork fat, it is a Terrine. When baked in a crust or encroute, it becomes a Pate.

Greeting us at the door of the MacBride mansion on the Ste. Michelle grounds was Bob Betz, an executive with Ste. Michelle who introduced us to Gretchen Dahm, head of her own advertising and public relations firm in New York City.

A petite attractive woman with enormous glasses and fashionable attire, she explained that what we were about to experience was from America’s first charcuterie.

“A French charcuterie,”Dahm” explained, “is a shop that literally is a pork butchery. The French word ‘charcuterie’ is derived from chair (meat)and cuit (cooked)refers to both an entire gamut of pork products and to a shop where they are prepared. Using mainly pork meat but also liver, poultry and game. The talented charcutier concocts many types of pates, terrines, sausages and other meat products.”

Gretchen told us that Alain Sinturel, one of the owners of Les Trois Petits Cochons. “Any French village has at least one charcuterie and that is who we will be meeting today, Alain Sinturel, one of the owners of Les Trois Petits Cochons (“The three little Pigs”)in New York” city.

Alain and Jean Pierre Pradie are two young Frenchmen who in 1975 opened their charcuterie in Greenwich Village. They specialize in French pates created from original recipes that have been handed down from three generations of French chefs and charcuteries.

We made our way into the kitchen of the mansion where Alain Sintuel was slicing one of several pates on a butcher block table. As he chopped a bit of parsley to garnish a platter that I later learned held a Pate’de Canard a l’Orange, laced with Grand Marnier and dotted with pistachio nuts, the young chef seemed to be painting a picture, he was so totally absorbed.

One thing that Alain said that I understood in his thick French accent was that his pates could easily become an addiction. Oh how right he was!

Four pates were severed beginning with Pate DE Canard a L’Orange accompanied by Ste. Michelle Chardonnay.
Next my favorite Mousse de Foie de Canard au Porto, a soft creamy pate flavored with port wine and served in its own baking dish.

This pate which was spread on thin slice of French bread was accompanied by a Fume Blanc wine.
Ste Michelle, Merlot was just the right touch with the Pate au Poivre Vert spiced with whole green peppercorns and Cognac.

Last but not least, Pate de Champagne the traditional country pate is said to be the favorite of Americans. Served with Cabernet Sauvignon. Delicious!

At each table was a bowl of miniature pickles. It is a very pungent, sour pickle! Gretchen laughed and told us to nibble the cornichon rather than eat it whole. She also added that because of the richness and flavors of pate a touch of sour sets it all beautifully.

Jars of cornichons can be purchased from food specialty stores. And the pates of Les Trois Cochons can be found at specialty food shops in the area. Including Stromboli’s in Redmond and Goodwife Deli in Lake Forest Park. The approximate cost is $6.95 well worth the price and the calories to tempt your tastebuds with this unique pleasure
Pates serve as a pleasant punctuation mark to any event!

Alan Sinturel’s recipe for Pate de Canard a l’Orange makes one loaf about 9 ½ x 5 ½.

After the ingredient there are 18 steps before the pate is ready to consume.

If anyone is interested in the final 18 steps I would be happy to mail a copy.

PATE CANARD A L’ORANGE
THE MEATS
1 duck about 51/2 pounds
1 pound lean pork shoulder, cut into chunks
1 ½ pounds of pork fatback, cut into chunks
1 pound duck livers (or substitute chicken livers)
3 ounces (6 Tablespoons) Grand Marnier
DUCK STOCK
1 small onion, peel left on. Chopped roughly
1 carrot, chopped roughly
1 rib of celery, chopped roughly
3 peppercorns
Pinch of thyme
FOUR COMPLETING THE FORCEMEAT
1 ounce can of truffle peelings (if available) or 1-ounce truffle
1 orange (or more, if needed for garnishing)
1 ½ Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon quatre epics blend (or substitute several grinds of pepper, plus ¼ teaspoon each of ground nutmeg ginger and cloves)
FOR LINING THE MOLD
4 slices of pork fatback, about 2 ½ inches wide and slightly longer than the length of your loaf pan
½ pound caul fat (netting) available at pork butchers or substitute additional thinly sliced fatback.
FOR FINISHING THE PATE:
1 ½ cups chicken stock, if needed (see directions below)
2 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 egg whites
2 eggshells crushed
Green of 1 or 2 scallions chopped (optional)

MARCH IS TOUGH ON PACK RATS

It happens every year. The birds start singing, and the sun is shining, and the house needs cleaning.
And I get the fever.

I try to keep a steadfast rule about housecleaning. If my family hasn’t worn it, used it, or eaten it in six months…throw it out. But it is hard living with a couple of pack rats. Every empty coffee can or clam dip carton would be perfect for holding car grease or worms.

Every inch of cleared countertop, tabletop, and furniture is covered with the weekly masses of 505 school papers from school, and that’s only math class. If one paper just happens to find itself on top of the trash can and is found by the student, your picture is placed with the most wanted at the Post office.

Why I think it is perfectly fine to have a junk drawer in the kitchen where you can keep usable items that really have nowhere else to go. Where else do you put a dog collar, one claw hammer, playing cards, rubber glue, and fondue forks? I mean, they can fit in a drawer…but coffee cans?

I stood before the hall mirror and thought, “It’s not your imagination. There is clutter falling out of each room, and”…a voice at my elbow interrupted my thoughts. “None of this junk belongs to me,” said my husband. I stood there with my mouth open.

He bent down and came up with a sock, Barbie and Ken, a hardened glob of Playdough, and a flashlight with no batteries.

“I don’t want to panic you,” he said, “But I think you have forgotten the house rules: the inside of the house is yours, and the outside is mine. “Are you crazy?” I gasped. “What is it you do on the outside?”

You could have slung a gaggle of geese through the air and not heard them through the silence from my husband’s raised eyebrows and tilted head. He must have put in 300 man-hours on our newly refaced kitchen cabinets. Every night in the garage, I heard him sawing away. I guess I had kinda forgotten about the deck he had just built, and didn’t he rotate the tires last night on the car too?

I smiled nervously. There was little more good I could do now but chew my lip and think quickly. I was not about to sulk away. Plenty of clutter inside the house had his name on it. “If you ask me,” I said, pointing toward the floor; you have lived with the illusion for too many years that this is not a community property state. Let me show you a few things inside this house that belong to you…”

I was prepared for an argument; nothing would sway me from determent of his junk, and nothing did…until his eyes began to mist.

It has been several years since that day. Yesterday, my husband caught me trying to squeeze a coffee can into the kitchen drawer. He didn’t say anything, and of course, I didn’t either.

COFFEE-CAN BREAD
If you are lucky like me, you will have several empty two-pound coffee cans with plastic lids. Pick one and grease the inside generously with shortening. Now gather the following:
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
3 tablespoon sugar
1/8 tablespoon ground ginger
1 can (13-oz.) evaporated milk
1 teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups flour
2 tablespoons salad oil
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Then add the ginger and one tablespoon of the sugar. Let it sit for about 20 minutes while you brew a cup of coffee; this may take a while.

Now, add the rest of the sugar, plus the milk, salt, and salad oil. Add the flour gradually ’till the dough is heavy, stiff, and unsticky.

Knead it for at least 5 minutes. Use a timer. Put it into your greased coffee can and put the lid on. You let the bread rise till the lid pops off—say about 1-1 ½ hours. Then, with the lid, off, bake the bread in a 350 F oven for 60 minutes for a two-pound can.

Your finished coffee can bread will look like a tall chef’s hat!

A taste of India is as close as your kitchen

It has been a good year for Raga Cuisine of India.

The highly acclaimed restaurant was recently recognized in Seattle Magazine as one of the area’s “Best Indian Restaurants a Choice award.”

And not even two months into the year, Raga’s executive chef, Madan Sharma, was chosen to participate in the most recent KCTS Channel 9 cooking program, “KCTS Chefs.”

When asked about the experience, Sharma honestly enthusiastically talks about his joy of cooking and life and seeing himself on TV.

“And I did it in one take.” Sharma proudly explained to Kamal Mroke, the owner, and myself as we sat around a white linen-covered table in the light, airy restaurant. “And I was not nervous,” he said. A girning Sharma said he is delighted to be in the United States.

He apprenticed in India (his home country) and mastered French Cuisine in Canada. His personality is seen in his food: potatoes carved to look like mushrooms, food artfully arranged and passionately prepared.

Sharma will tell you story after story of his life, but by far, the most favored is the present.
Today, he enjoys the company of customers delighted by his aromatic, appetizingly beautiful, savory dishes.

The following recipes were all created by Executive Chef Madan Sharma of Raga Cuisine of India in Bellevue and the newly opened Raga Bar & Grill in Federal Way.
MALAI KEBOB
So that Sharma could use his tandoor (clay) oven, KCTS set up a television crew in the restaurant.
This is the actual recipe created by Chef Sharma on television. This delicious Malai Kebob (skewered chicken)is usually cooked in the tandoor oven but has been revised so you can enjoy making it in your home.
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
½ cup raw cashews
2 ounces (4 tablespoons)cream cheese
2 Jalapeno chilies, dice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken breasts may be left whole or cut into 1-inch cubes and threaded on skewers. Place the prepared chicken in a shallow baking dish and set aside.

To prepare the marinade, combine cream cheese, diced chilies, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and oil. Process until smooth using either a food processor or a blender. Add the half-and-half and blend again. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour marinade over the chicken in the baking dish, turning the pieces or skewers to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for three hours in the refrigerator.

Remove chicken from the marinade and place in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cooked through.

To cook on a BBQ: Remove chicken from the marinade and put on a well-oiled grill rack. Set high over the heat source. The secret here is to cook the chicken slowly until thoroughly cooked through. Serve with rice pulao.

RICE PULAO
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin seed
4 whole cloves
4 whole black cardamom
4 whole green cardamom
2 bay leaves
3 scrapes of cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
2 cups Basmati rice, rinsed in a fine sieve under running water.

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat oil and add cumin seed. Cook until seeds puff and rise to the surface. Add onions and cook for about two minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except rice, and bring to a boil. Add rice and cook for 7-10 minutes until rice is just tender but not mushy. Serve as a base or side for all savory Indian dishes.

All PURPOSE CURRY SAUCE
A wonderful all-purpose sauce on chicken, lamb, shrimp, turkey, vegetables, or any leftovers.
Use approximately 1-1/2 pounds of coarsely chopped meat and vegetables in one curry sauce batch.
4 large onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon turmeric
Cayenne to taste – ¼ teaspoon mild
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pan, sauté the onions in the oil until golden. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for five minutes. Let mixture cool slightly, then blend in a food processor until smooth. Return to pan and cook until the mixture becomes glazed.

Add your choice of meats and vegetables to this mix and cook until done. If using leftovers, make sure they are heated through.

Try a few twists to celebrating birthdays

Come to my party next Saturday
at seven

The fun will start early, so don’t
dare to be late

Although it’s my birthday the
surprise is for you

To learn what I’ve planned, come see
what we do.

Kristen’s birthday invitation was a bit unusual but then, so was her birthday party idea.

She wanted to do something different for her first double-digit birthday (10). She had plans to invite her friends, who had already been to dozens of parties and were on the verge of outgrowing the usual birthday games. A trip to McDonald’s or the bowling alley crossed her mind, but that really wasn’t it. There had to be something new, something no one else had done before.

There was– and she had it—a great idea!

Kristen would have the first, “Decorate A Cake On MY Birthday Party.” All the girls had seen and eaten decorated birthday cakes, but how many had decorated cakes of their own? The rest was easy!

With the help of her Mom, Kristen made a list of everything she’d need.
A cake for each girl. With frosting, several tubes of frosting gel, candies (such as gummy bears, peppermints, licorice, sweet and sour tarts, chocolate, animal cookies, coconut colored with food coloring, anything and everything.
They would set up each treat in bowls set out on a table beforehand, and it would be up to each girl to see what she could create.

And create they did! Amidst munching, giggling, and chattering, Kristen made her cake in the shape of a bunny head with licorice for whiskers. Jenny frosted her one-layer cake and placed animal cookies in pretzel cages for a circus cake. Everyone had a wonderful time.

Here ‘tis the recipes for homemade birthday cake and frosting.

TOO Easy-Z LEMON CAKE
One box of lemon cake mix.
Add one package of Jell-O instant lemon pudding.
Bake cake as directed on the package. Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes.
Now for fun: Poke holes in the cake using a chopstick or skewer. Now we will make icing that will pour into the holes. This adds a great flavor plus a fun look when sliced.
Be sure not to add the icing to the top. Let’s save that for another frosting.
Whisk together 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and one cup of lemon juice for the icing.

FLUFFY WHITE FROSTING
½ cup light corn syrup
One egg white
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
l teaspoon vanilla
Bring the syrup to a boil over medium heat in a small saucepan. In a small mixing bowl, beat egg white and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in vanilla. Gradually heat in hot syrup and continue beating for about three minutes or until stiff and shiny. It makes about 2 cups

KCTS COOKS: On the Grill

“I forgot my lid.”
Lid?
Dave Senestraro of Brier confessed his faux pas. He broke into a hardy laugh. Minutes earlier, he had been sandwiched between co-hosts Chef Kathy Casey and Channel 9 KCTS ON-AIR personality George Ray.

Senestraro buoyant after appearing on live KCTS TV, cooked his now-famous grilled veal tenderloin, with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, in a brown sauce.

Senestraro was among the lucky few (of more than 200 entries) chosen to appear on the station’s 11th viewer cooking special,” KCTS Cooks: On the Grill.”

“I would do it again,” the 44-year-old said. “I love the cooking shows and never miss them.”

His children, Aja and Ian, had pleaded with him to enter his recipe, which Senestraro said he discovered while trying to find a match for a Bolla Italian red wine. His recipe will now be compiled into the latest KCTS viewer’s cookbook.

Wearing a navy-blue shirt and gray shorts, Senestraro looked calm and relaxed during the taping. Minutes before going on air, Ray practiced saying Senestraro’s Italian name, and Casey revealed that they would have potatoes mashed before airtime.

Once the show started, Senestraro began to prepare the veal. Casey observed that the dish was well-seasoned and that most home cooks are shy of the salt and pepper.

Program host Chef Brian Poor, who also hosts a radio program called “The Poor Man’s Kitchen,” finished brushing the grill down with a stiff wire brush. He then wiped the grill down with an oiled cloth to keep the grill clean and well-seasoned.

He placed Senestraro’s tenderloins on the grill. Poor had his handy squirt bottle of water ready do to double duty by dousing any unwanted flames and keeping the grilling meat moist. The meal was now ready for presentation. Senestraro placed his grilled asparagus, artfully arranged, next to the potatoes and veal.

Kathy and George eagerly awaited a bite. George remarked on the rich colors and the wonderful presentation.
Senestraro said he learned the joys of cooking from watching his Italian grandmother. He also learned from studying cookbooks and watching cooking shows where he soaked up all the experience he could.

Animated and expansive, Senestraro looks like a man who finds life very good indeed. His personal passion is one day buttoning himself into a chef’s jacket and opening a restaurant in Bothell where he would serve his own creations, such as grilled filet of salmon presented on a bed of fresh, pure raspberries, with cracked black peppers and topped with pistachio pesto-made with sheep cheese-instead of parmesan.

And that lid that he forgot? The lid is actually a 2-inch metal cooking ring that, in the presentation, he uses to fill with the roasted garlic mashed potatoes. He then smoothes the surface with a knife removing the ring. It leaves a perfect circle of flattened potatoes, which he tops with the veal and morel gravy.

Fortunately, many mistakes are correctable, and Casey oiled a ramekin dish to substitute for his lid, and no one would have been wiser.

Dave Senestraro’s Grilled Veal Tenderloin
Serves 4
1 -1/2 veal tenderloin
4 to 6 thin slices prosciutto (the Italian word for ham sold in transparently thin slices)
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin oil
3 to 4 grinds of fresh black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 pinches of sea salt
Slice veal tenderloin into four medallions 1 to 1- ½ inches thick. Wrap with enough prosciutto to go entirely around the medallion. Tie with cotton string.

Place on a plate and sprinkle oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and pepper on both sides.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate for at least an hour—grill over medium to high heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until medium-rare to medium.

Sweet Cherry

I’ve been on a diet for two weeks now, and all I’ve lost is 14 days!

At last, help is here, the sweet cherry, that short but the oh-so-sweet season has arrived.
Northwest cherry season begins in mid-June and is completed in Mid-August.

There’s something truly special about cherries from the Northwest. They are bigger, plumper, juicer, and sweeter. It’s no coincidence that Northwest cherries are the best cherries in the world.

The microclimatic sensitive fruit thrives on the ideal mix of warm sunny days, cool crisp nights, and nutrient-rich soil plentiful in the Northwest cherry-growing regions.

Here, cherries are grown against hillsides in the shadows of the mountains and in the valleys of desert terrain, irrigated with fresh mountain water.

It amazingly takes a tree ten years to reach full production. Many factors affect production. Mostly weather. Rain at harvest is the nightmare of growers, shippers, retailers, and consumers. Rain at the wrong time can split the delicate fruit. Nearly mature cherries will absorb the water and literally POP open.

When the rain does come, growers hurry to turn on the large overhead orchard fans to blow the water off the fruit before it can be absorbed. Many growers even hire helicopters to hover over their trees. Modern cherry growing in the Northwest began in 1847; when Henderson Lewelling transported nursery stock by ox cart from Iowa to Western Oregon and established orchards.

The Lambert is a dark red with a heart shape with a slightly smaller cherry than the Bing, with a sweet, rich flavor. The Lambert cherry started as a cross on the same farm.

The Bing variety was developed on the Lewelling farm in 1875 from seeds and was named for one of his Chinese workmen. The Bing cherry has mahogany skin, and the flesh has a large, firm texture and a sweet, rich flavor.

The Rainier originated from the crossing of the Bing and the Van cherries; by Dr. Harold W. Fogle at the Washington State University Research Station in Prosser, Wa. The Rainier cherry is golden with pink/red blush, a texture with clear-colored flesh, and a delicate flavor that is very sweet and expensive. A Northwest specialty. It is an elite cherry among cherries. It is sweeter, juicier, plumper, and absolutely the most irresistible
Intense sweetness is really the trademark of the Rainier. The taste is second to none.

Juicier than most sweet cherries, the Rainer variety has a delicate, buttery textured clear flesh encased in a thin, delicate skin. While it bruises more easily, the Rainer is generally larger and firmer than most dark sweet cherries.

It is a common misconception that the Rainier cherry is a relative of the Royal Anne (also known as Napoleon) variety, an old-time light, sweet cherry now used almost exclusively in maraschino cherry processing. It was first released to the Northwest cherry industry in 1960.

Twenty-one cherries are 90 calories! Together these three varieties now account for more than 95 percent of the Northwest cherry production.

In yogurt or ice cream used for baking or in jam, always select plump, shiny, well-colored fruit with green stems and refrigerate until consumed.

Freezing cherries requires only washing them and placing them in a freezer bag. Then, put them in the freezer, where they can be stored for 6-12 months. Remove cherries from the freezer 30 minutes prior to use.

To can cherries, wash and stem all cherries, pit them if you so desire—pack cherries into clean, sterilized jars. Pour a sugar syrup over fruit (one cup sugar to three cups water heated until sugar is dissolved). Apply the proper lid. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes for pints and 20 for quarts. Processing time may vary with altitude.

To use your dehydrator, wash and stem cherries. Cut in half and remove pits. Place the fruit skin side down or on dryer trays. The fruit will be leathery and stick when dried sufficiently. Store in plastic bags in a cool, dry area. To plump back up, add cherries to a small saucepan. Cover with water stock or liqueur. Bring to a boil, cover, then remove the pan from heat. Allow standing for 20 minutes or until fruit is plumped.

Visit with Bothell chef revives fascination with Italian food

If I had to summarize adventure in one sentence, that sentence would be: After a day of sightseeing in Rome, we found a table in the corner and dug into our fabulous Italian cuisine, filling our wine glasses with Chianti.
Do you love the Italian people and their culture? Are you Italian? Sons of Italy hold monthly meetings for those who are Italian or who love the Italian people and culture. Bothell’s chapter had a special guest chef last month, Helen Noce.

“Now I have a question for you,” I said to Noce. I have never seen such great big glasses. They look wonderful with your sparkling white hair.” I saw a sudden and spirited glint of fun in her 83-year-old eyes that lay behind her enormous royal blue tinted frames. She laughed and quickly replied that she only needed a matching motorcycle outfit.

Noce shifted her weight in the rickety metal chair as we sat in the kitchen of the American Legion Hall in Bothell. She reached over the counter to hand me the recipe she was cooking for the Sons of Italy meeting that night.
Noce asked if I remembered the movie “Moonstruck,” where Dean Martin sings of Pasta e Fagioli and love. Noce said, “Pasta e Fagioli” (pronounced pasta fazool)is a good Lenten recipe. She remembers her Catholic family fasting from meat on Fridays and her mother serving this delicious soup.”

Italy fascinates me and listening to Helen, I was suddenly back in time. My husband and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time in Rome. Six days to savor the flavor of the la dolce vita-the sweet life.

Masterpieces of art abound in every direction. Toss a coin into the Trevi fountain. For dinner, choose a trattoria.
But not today. Tomorrow we will see the covered ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with immortal frescoes by Michelangelo.
Today we were going to witness history—Pope John Paul II – the first non-Italian Pope in over four centuries- was inaugurated.

Very early that morning, we race down the Hotel stairs to the concierge’s desk and ask, “How do we get to Vatican City?” “Why that is easy. Go outside and follow the nuns!” “Really?” I said, moving toward the front door of the hotel. “Go! Go!” He said, as he waved us out the door.

I had thought there would be a few Nuns, but as we stepped out onto the sidewalk, the Italian streets were littered with nuns everywhere. Like black and white dominoes, they were scurrying every which way.

You could feel the electricity of excitement in the air. No one was walking; everyone was at a trot or almost running. We looked at each other and hoofed it across the foreign streets, trying to catch up.

The hurrying nuns, who had now clustered into a colossal group, led us down narrow cobbled streets. Shuttered windows with flower pots on balconies held Sophia Loren’s waving and smiling at us. We crossed the street after street empty of cars until the nuns literally jumped into a bus. No room to sit we all stand. The bus grinds and bumps, passing sights and smells exotic and intoxicating. Finally, it stops abruptly, and I jerk forward. Everyone gets off the bus.

We continue to follow the nuns who now lead us directly into Vatican City. At the entrance stand the Pope’s Swiss guards in their brilliant uniforms. We are now standing inside St. Peter’s Square.

There are rows and rows of police in snappy uniforms, wearing gloves and sashes across their chests. I hear a honk behind me. Looking over my shoulder is a line of dark limousines starting just inches from my legs. A police officer takes my arm and motions me to stand back. I peer into the half-tinted windows and see big men with many medals across their chests. Car after car of dignitaries go by.

St. Peters Square becomes swollen with more than a quarter million kneeling Romans paying homage to the new Pope.
I stand next to the Egyptian Obelisk in the middle of St Peter’s Square and realize that I am in the middle of history in the making and feel as though I must take all things in like a great giant sponge…

“My relatives come from Calbre, Italy. Most of the group tonight come from Naples,” Helen’s voice dissipated my memories as my eyes wandered back to the present.

Noce’s son-in-law, Gary, helps her bring in her large pots and prepare the oven. “The Olive Garden does not know what real Pasta e Fagioli should be!” he exclaims.

Of her three daughters, two, Maire Dunn and Judy Hunter, live here in Bothell. They introduced their mother to the Sons of Italy and asked her to cook tonight.

Noce spent ten fulfilling years as a cook for 650 children at St. Barbara’s school in Los Angeles. Now retired, she keeps herself challenged with crocheting and volunteering work. In addition, she enjoys sharing her Italian heritage.

Have you been to Italy and want to have kindred souls listen to your stories? Are you planning to make the first trip? Then, remember to throw a coin in the Trevi fountain so you will be guaranteed a return trip.

Call Tom Falcone of the Sons of Italy at 488-9811 and find new friends to share your memories with.

From the Kitchen of Helen Noce
PASTA E FAGIOLI
1 cup white navy beans
4 cups water
1 cup salad macaroni
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 8-oz can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Salt-pepper to taste
Presoak beans overnight for 4 to 6 hours. Boil beans in four cups water. Cook until tender, about four hours. Sauté onions, garlic, basil, and parsley in oil. Add tomato sauce. Add cooked beans. Cook pasta in boiling water for 5-10 minutes but DON’T overcook. Drain water from pasta and add pasta to beans.
(Shanna Celeste is a Bothell resident who enjoys sharing her stories and recipe ideas with readers. Her column appears in the Northshore Citizen regularly.)

BOSE SETS THE DIRECTION FOR U DISTRICT INDIA HOUSE RESTAURANT

He is as fluctuating as light. Animate and solemn, he accelerates around the room like a beacon; he is high energy yet focused. Tapan Bose is a man who found the American dream.

Bose, 45, originally from Calcutta, India, is the new owner of the India House Restaurant on Roosevelt. Newly remolded with a new chef and new and updated menus, India House is one of Washington’s oldest Indian restaurants.
Bose’s love of good food comes from years in the industry, where he started in India, literally at the bottom in a five-star hotel.

“I was a dishwasher,” Bose said, grinning, “at the famous Taj Mahal hotel in Bombay, India. It has 1,500 rooms and famous people come there to vacation.

Promoted to waiter, he attended the hotel’s course on hotel administration and food technology which led to a position as bartender of the Holiday Inn in downtown Bombay.

To full fill his dream of coming to America, he spent his off hours in an Indian-American library, soaking up information on American culture and learning the language. His time and effort paid off. When he was 29, Holiday Inn promoted Bose. He was sent to White Plans, New York, U.S.A.

“My goal was to own a restaurant,” Bose reflected, “where I could serve Indian food that was fresh and savory with India’s wonderful spices like Garam Masala, a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, and cloves. Good wine, like a Paul Thomas pear wine, complements the fire of Indian food.

Bose moved to Seattle in 1990 to help a friend run Ragu India Restaurant in Bellevue. He found employment with the Olive Garden and the Space Needle, where his talent for food and wine pairing grew.

Confident and experienced, Bose knew he was ready for his greatest challenge, to own the restaurant of his dreams. His first step at India House – was to create an exhibition Tandoor kitchen.

The Tandoor kitchen used throughout India is a rounded-top oven made of clay. “Our oven is always at 850 degrees, and it is enclosed in glass for people to enjoy as they walk by,” said Bose as he instructed one of his chefs to prepare “Papadam” (Indian crispy bread). The Chef took the dough, slapped it directly onto the inside oven’s walls, and left it to bake; in seconds, it began to bubble and brown.

The Chef expertly peeled it off in one piece and then sliced it neatly into quarters. Meat is usually skewered and thrust into the oven’s intense heat. “A chicken half can cook in less than five minutes,” Bose beamed proudly.

The house specialty “Barah Kabab” (rack of lamb) is first marinated for 24 hours in olive oil, lemon, and fresh garlic. Then it is covered in a paste of tomatoes, onions, and yogurt. After roasting, it is brushed with ginger, cumin, coriander, and dry mango powder.
Delicious!

Vacation?

I know, I know. But, school has almost started, and like parents throughout the country, we can now look back and calmly recall our worst or best summer vacation.
My vacation? Or like Tim Hunter said in last week’s Nosin’ Around the Northshore.’ What was the highlight of your summer?

Well, mine was a toss-up between going dozing in a beach chair and enjoying the warm sweet days of a carefree summer or putting in a new lawn. My spouse has a reputation for practicality, and that is where we’ve come to the heart of the matter. Because – Oh, all right – let’s face it, physical labor, and I have an understanding. We hate each other.

I can kill spiders in the bathtub and scrape hardened cereal out of the bowl, but do not make me rake.

And that is where a new lawn begins–with a lot of raking. But your professional (NOT!)lawn landscaper husband, on the other hand, does not even think about raking until he has conducted a complete study of the site. Then, checking it out from every possible angle, squinting and squatting, laying face down in the dirt to decide precisely the mathematical count of each pebble that HAS to be removed.

And suppose your raking is like mine–no offense intended–and the off chance one rock happens to fall out of those rake claws and this expert starts to constantly badger you with tips on rake management, carrying of the rake, and other trivia.

I knew I was in trouble right off when he came up off the ground for air. He looked me straight in the eye to see if I was going to violate the marriage code: Thou shall not look away when free labor is right in your yard.

There was a respectful silence, and then I popped a piece of spearmint gum in my mouth and set to work.
Dim now are the memories of the long, humid, tedious hours of hard labor. The flying dirt and dust that settled on top of cars, pets, and me.

The seven days of waiting, hoping that one blade of green grass would rise up in that ROCKLESS soil. The endless hours holding the hose gently spraying each seed. The nods to each other as we passed the hose and took turns on the morning shift, the afternoon shift, and the evening shift. Flagging the area to keep out all dogs and one obnoxious neighborhood kid.

Bright are the memories of that special morning. We cheered, sang, and jumped for joy. We grabbed the video camera, the camera, and the neighbors because in the middle of that familiar dirt was a blade of waving grass, even though it took only two seconds for the obnoxious neighborhood kid to step on it.

No matter because now summer is almost over and there is lots of grass. In fact, we even need to mow (hint). So I have decided on one last picnic before we bid summer adieu. So enjoy your lawn and this fun, easy yet elegant, and a special recipe for your outdoor soiree.

BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE PARFAITS
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
4 tablespoons sugar
2 cups fresh blueberries (Frozen/thawed, OK)
4 tablespoon blueberry jelly or apple jelly
3/4 graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoon whipped cream topping
Blend the first three ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth; set aside.
Combine blueberries and jelly and stir gently. Evenly divide the blueberry mixture into four parfait glasses or other decorative cups.) Layer with two tablespoons ricotta mixture, two tablespoons graham cracker crumbs, followed by two more tablespoons of ricotta mixture. Refrigerate for 1 – 1/2 hours.
Let’s see. If school starts now and ends in June…”What–“Nuh-uh it can’t be. But it is time again to come up with over 200 school lunches! Please share your recipes by e-mail to OUCook@aol.com