Thursday, October 2, 2014

Working West Seattle

My little community of West Seattle is such a special place. Vince and I call it "the island." That probably comes from taking the bridge to and from our part of town, but we'll often say to each other, "do you want to go downtown or should we just stay on the island today?" Most times we stay. Why would we leave when we've got everything we love and need right here from interesting shops and good restaurants, to a wonderful farmers market, and great local theater - not to mention beautiful parks and shoreline and the perfect city view! We've got it all.

I was so flattered when I was contacted by videographer, Mark Jaroslaw, about participating in a video project celebrating people who work in West Seattle. We have such a diverse and vibrant community. It's really fun to see what people are up to.  So far, I've watched videos of a dog handler, a tatoo artist and a psychic reader. All have been really interesting and well put together. Most videos include a bio about the person and you can leave comments too.

You should check out the site - Working West Seattle. He's planning to put together as many as 125 videos.

Here's the video that Mark put together of me! I'm the cooking instructor (just in case you didn't know). If you want to watch it on the Working West Seattle site instead, here's the link.

Don't forget to join me for a cooking class in West Seattle or Seattle, Issaquah, 
Edmonds, Lynnwood, or Redmond! 
For more information on upcoming classes check out my website - The Glorified HomeChef!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Roasted New Mexico Hatch Chilies

I'm a fiend for roasted chilies!  A few years ago, while Vince and I were on a roadtrip to Northern Arizona, we came across a supermarket in Flagstaff roasting chilies in the parking lot.  I bought what was probably a five pound bag of them and ate them on everything! (I should note that the nice young checker who sold them to me assured me that I was purchasing mild chilies. He was so wrong! They were flaming hot but I still couldn't stop eating them.)  

The variety I ate in Northern Arizona was a Hatch or New Mexico chile. 
These long green chiles are grown in the small town of Hatch, New Mexico and are considered premium green chiles. Every year there is a Hatch Chile Festival on Labor Day where up to 30,000 people come to the little town to buy and eat these delicious chiles. Hatch chiles are sometime confused with Anaheim or California chiles which were brought from New Mexico in the early 1900's and were bred to be more mild to suit the taste of Californians at the time. They were originally brought to Anaheim, hence the association/name. Hatch and New Mexico chiles can be used for the same dishes as California and Anaheim chiles but they are significantly hotter.

I scrambled them with eggs, made enchiladas, put them on burgers and grilled chicken. You get the idea. Five pounds of chilies go a long way. 

Freshly roasted Hatch or Anaheim chilies are so much better than the bland canned variety and they are quite easy to make. The video below will give you an overview.

Once you've roasted your chiles, you might want to try this recipe I found in the Seattle Times for Green Chili Breakfast Quesadillas or maybe as the weather cools, you'd like to try some Chile Verde instead! Either way, you won't be disappointed, I promise.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Glorified Home Chef Jason Goertz Shows Chef Erin How to Make and Stuff Italian Sausage

Jason Goertz, The Techy Chef, and my featured Glorified Home Chef, showed me several sausage recipes (see Breakfast Sausage). I think my favorite was the Sweet Italian Sausage because I got such a kick out of stuffing the casings. I hadn't made sausage since culinary school so it was really fun to get a refresher course from such a knowledgeable sausage maker.

I called my dad afterward to ask if he had the KitchenAid Food Grinder and Sausage Stuffer Attachment. (Looks like I know what I'm getting him for Christmas!) I know he'd get as much of a kick out of it as I did. So, check out the video first and then the recipe is laid out below.

If you are interested in learning more about sausage making and other sausage recipes, Jason recommended a couple other sites including Sausage Recipe - Formulations and The Spicy Sausage.

Sweet Italian Sausage

Adapted from The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith
Makes about 8 to 10 sausages

1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds
2 bay leaves
2 lbs coarsely ground pork shoulder, chilled*
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup ice water
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fine sea salt or table salt
1 tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Hog casings, soaked (optional)

Use a spice mill or mortar and pestle to coarsely grind the fennel seeds and bay leaves. Be sure that the bay leaves are well crushed so that you aren't left with large pieces.

Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl. Spread the crushed garlic over the ground meat.

Place the ice water in a measuring cup or small bowl. Add the red pepper flakes, black pepper, ground fennel and bay leaves, and salt. Stir to blend. Pour mixture evenly over the pork.

Sprinkle the parsley across the meat. Use your hands to mix in the ingredients. Be sure that the spices are evenly distributed throughout the ground pork.

Cover the sausage mixture and place it in the refrigerator. Chill for 2 to 24 hours. At this point the bulk ground sausage can be fried or simmered in a sauce.

If you plan to make Italian sausage links, we recommend using natural hog casings, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. All hog casings come packed in salt and sealed in a vacuum pouch. Natural hog casings come in bundles or hanks of between 14-18 strands. Most places that sell casings will tell you how many pounds of sausage a particular order (length) will stuff. Since this is a small recipe, you’ll only need one or two casings.

For best results soak the casings overnight in a bowl of water. Before using the casings, rinse them out by putting one end over a funnel and pouring lukewarm water through them several times. Place the rinsed casings in a bowl with fresh warm water. Remove the casings from the water one at a time, as needed. Store unused natural casings in a brine solution or well salted in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. NEVER freeze casings.

Assemble your KitchenAid sausage stuffer attachment or other sausage stuffer. Lightly oil the extruder tube. Feed a piece of casing onto the sausage extruder tube, leaving only an inch or two of the casing hanging off the end of the stuffer. Tie a knot in the end of the casing.

With the mixer on the slowest speed, take small handfuls of the sausage mixture and feed them into the hopper of the sausage grinder. Use the tapper to push the sausage through. You’ll get a little air that fills up the casing like a balloon at first. You can prick the casing to release the air. Hold the casing in place until the sausage begins to fill it, then slowly guide the filled casing off the extruder. This might require two people; one person to add meat into the hopper, and one to hold the sausage as it comes off the stuffer. Continue to fill the casing as evenly as possible. Leave about 4 inches of empty casing on the end so that you’ll have room to work when twisting the links.

Coil the sausages on a sheet pan and puncture any visible air bubbles. Starting at the knotted end of the sausage, measure off the desired length, usually about 4 to 5 inches. Squeeze to mark the end of the first sausage and then twist between the first and second sausages about three times. Measure another length, squeeze and twist again, alternating the directions in which you twist. At the end of the chain of sausages, tie a knot after the last sausage.

For best results, refrigerate the sausages, uncovered, overnight before cooking. Cook as desired – poach, grill, pan-fry or simmer in your favorite pasta sauce.

Note: This is small recipe for making sausages. Since making sausage can be a bit labor intensive, you may want to increase the amount and make 5 to 10 pounds of sausage at a time.

*We started by grinding our own pork shoulder with a KitchenAid Food Grinder but you can also simply purchase ground pork, or even ground chicken or turkey, if you prefer. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Make Your Own Breakfast Sausage

One of my students, Jason Goertz, joined me recently to share a few recipes.  He's a great cook, a true glorified home chef, and amateur sausage maker. I had a wonderful afternoon working with him on several recipes that I'll be sharing here on my blog.  The first is for homemade breakfast sausage.

When I was young, my dad made homemade breakfast sausage from time to time. I remember the savory smell of the pork and the sage drifting out of the kitchen on a Sunday morning. There's nothing like the taste of homemade sausage along side a steaming stack of pancakes swimming in butter and maple syrup.  Look at me getting all misty and nostalgic. 

Anyway, you are going to love this recipe. It's so simple and tasty. Consider it a jumping off point. From here, you can try playing with the recipe to suit your taste. Maybe you like more sage or black pepper? Perhaps you'd like to add a little allspice? Or, if you are a die-hard breakfast junkie, you can take Jason's advice and grind up a little bacon in your sausage! 

Sage Breakfast Sausage

Serves 4 to 8
2 lbs ground pork shoulder, course or fine, depending on your preference*
1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fine sea salt or table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the spices evenly across the pork. Using your hands, gently knead the spices into the ground meat. Work until well blended.

The sausage can be used immediately, however it will develop more flavor over time. You can refrigerate it, covered, for up to 24 hours to enhance the flavor.

When you are ready to cook, preheat a skillet or griddle to medium heat. 

Form the sausage into even patties, approximately 2 to 3 inches in diameter and 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick. Use your thumb in make a slight indention in the center of each patty. This will keep the patty from shrinking and puffing up during the cooking process. 

Place the patties on the preheated skillet. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the patties and continue to cook until the sausage is fully cooked, approximately 4 to 5 minutes longer. Cooking time will vary so be sure that the sausage is cooked through. There should be no pink visible when you cut it open. You can use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. The temperature should read between 160 and 165F. Let the sausages rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Note: This sausage recipe can also be made into breakfast links. If so, use finely ground pork, add 4 tablespoons of ice water when mixing in the spice. Stuff the sausage into lamb casings. Brown and serve.

*We started by grinding our own pork but you can also simply purchase ground pork, or even ground chicken or turkey, if you prefer. You will see that we used a KitchenAid Food Grinder attachment to grind our pork shoulder. I think it's the perfect size for beginning sausage makers.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Blackberry Mania - From Storing Tips to Recipes for Savory Blackberry Sauce and Blackberry Brandy

It's blackberry season! Chef Erin shares tips for storing fresh blackberries as well as a couple of her favorite recipes.

Okay, as cheesy as this sounds, blackberry brandy makes me oddly nostalgic for my "childhood." I grew up in Wisconsin and it's sad to admit but we country kids started drinking pretty early. Blackberry brandy was the drink of choice for many of the teenage girls I knew. (I was a sloe gin drinker, myself. Good God!) Anyway, with the plethora of wild blackberries in the Pacific Northwest, I'm always looking for ways to use them up. So an homage to my high school girlfriends seemed like a natural! (This is for you Suzi, Tammy, Heidi, Kim and Lisa - you know who you are!)

On a grown up note, I also love making a savory sweet sauce for salmon, duck or pork so I've included that recipe too. Plus, I think you should try some blackberries in your next lemon or almond cake. To die for!

Savory Blackberry Sauce
for Salmon, Duck or Pork 
Serves 4

2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
pinch of white pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
1/4 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Simmer the blackberries, sugar and water in a saucepan until the berries are soft and starting to fall apart (about 5 minutes).Take off the burner and put the blackberries into a sieve. Use a wooden spoon or rubber scraper to push the berries through until you have extracted all the liquid. Discard the residue.

Put the liquid back into the saucepan and bring to heat. Whisk in the lemon juice, cornstarch or arrowroot, and white pepper. Heat until it begins to thicken slightly.

Remove from heat and whisk in butter and a dash of red wine vinegar. Add a little salt, if desired.

Spoon over roasted or grilled salmon and it's also wonderful on duck breast or pork tenderloin.

Blackberry Brandy

2 cups fresh, crushed blackberries
1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups brandy, divided

Add sugar to boiling water and stir until dissolved. Gently crush the blackberries. Using your hands is fine! Pour the sugar water over the crushed berries.

Pour the mixture into a glass jar, add 1 cup brandy and seal the jar and shake gently. Place the jar in a cool, dark cupboard for 1 week. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Add the second cup of brandy.

Sip on it's own or blend with vanilla ice cream for a decadent smoothie!

Don't forget to join me for a cooking class the next time you are in Seattle!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Blogger's Take: Moroccan Cooking Class at

This blog has been reprinted with the permission of Lizette Wolter McKinley, local photographer and blogger.  Check out her blog at

When I saw Chef Shop, a local fine and specialty food purveyor was offering a Moroccan cooking class I was intrigued. There are some types of food I have never attempted to make and Moroccan is one of them. I arrived at Chef Shop a tad early for my class, giving myself some time to look around the store and meet the employees ahead of time. From the start, I was impressed with how friendly, passionate and welcoming all the women were. Hors d'oeuvres were already laid out for the students and drinks were offered within minutes of stepping inside. As we waited for the other students to arrive we nibbled on scrumptious snacks and delicious drinks. 
Since I had never attended a presentation style cooking class before I was not certain what to expect. Once everyone arrived we took our seats and Erin Coopey warmly and enthusiastically greeted us. As Erin sliced and diced she confidently walked us through each recipe. Eliza Ward, Chef Shop's owner and founder, was on hand to interject product knowledge and show us what we could purchase from her store in order to create the food we were witnessing being made.
Our menu for the evening included:
Appetizers: Olives with Harissa and Moroccan-style bean dip
Entree: Chicken tagine with preserved lemons
Sides: Quinoa salad and carrot salad with feta and mint
Dessert: Moroccan coconut "cake" 
After a long, busy day it was nice to sit back and learn about food with the knowledge your dinner is being made for you. Most classes I have attended in the past focus on the importance of fresh ingredients, this class focused on the importance of your what is in your pantry. To be honest, I am a big proponent of eating seasonally and finding the freshest ingredients, but I have never been much thought to the beans I put in my soup or the salt I through in my pot of boiling water. I learned many things throughout the duration of this class, but most importantly I have become more aware of my options. 
For instance, without thinking I have adopted a habit of using olive oil for cooking. Little did I know the burn point of olive oil is not particularly high and that as much as I am trying to be health conscious by using the wrong oil at the wrong temperature I am destroying the health benefits of the product. Same goes for my lack of knowledge in regards to table salt. I have always been under the impression that we as human beings need iodine, I never gave it much thought I am probably consuming enough of it whenever I eat processed food or better yet- seafood. 
Knowledge is power and after the Moroccan cooking class I left feeling confident I could replicate the dishes I had seen prepared before my very eyes. I am eager to use my new rice bran oil, which has a much higher smoke point than olive oil and I finally got wise and purchased large tube of tomato paste. I was getting tired of throwing away cans of unused tomato paste when sometimes you just need a little. 
Chef Shop is a treasure trove for the at home cook or foodie that you know. It is the perfect spot to pick up a unique host/hostess gift or the next time you want to upgrade your own pantry. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pulled Pork with Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce

Over the past month, I've been teaching a class on Carolina Barbecue at the PCC Natural Markets.  You'd think that I'd be sick of it by now, but I have to tell you that the recipes are so good that I made them all again this weekend!  The class is a complete summertime feast from Southern Pimento Cheese to coleslaw, roasted corn with chili honey butter, pulled pork, and grilled peaches with bourbon caramel sauce.  It's really a treat.

The pulled pork features my version of a Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce excerpted from The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook.  It's vinegar and mustard based barbecue like you find in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.  I created it after a visit with my dear friend, Christin. (Hi CP!)

When I was writing the book, I thought it would be fun to offer more than one type of barbecue sauce. We're so used to the typical tomato/molasses style of most commercial brands. Once I'd perfected the recipe, we invited friends over for a taste test and served both my Kansas City-Style and Carolina-Style sauces. Although both were popular, we all decided that Carolina-Style with its zingy mustard and vinegar base was the favorite.

For the Carolina Barbecue class I use a pressure cooker to make the pulled pork because we have limited time but I thought it might be better to give you the old-fashioned slow braised version here.  It's an all-day affair but I promise it's worth the wait!

Check out the video for an overview and then follow the recipe below for all the details.

Pulled Pork

3 - 4 lbs pork shoulder, pork butt or boneless country spare ribs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons bacon fat, lard or oil
1 cup chicken broth, apple cider vinegar or apple juice - your choice
buns for sandwiches, optional

Preheat oven to 250F or 275F. (See Chef's Note)

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dry rub - brown sugar, salt, paprika, smoked paprika, onion powder, mustard powder, granulated garlic, and black pepper. Stir to mix.

Coat the pork with spice mixture. Massage it in well.

Place dutch oven or heavy pot on the stove top over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add fat. Brown the pork on all sides. 

Add the broth to the pot and gently scrape the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of meat and only that are stuck.

Place the lid on the dutch oven. Be sure that it's a tight fitting lid. If you don't have a snug lid, cover the pan with aluminum foil and place the lid on top of the foil to ensure a good seal.  Since the pork will be braising slowly, it's important to seal the moisture inside. 

Place the pork in the oven and roast for 4 1/2 to 8 hours. I realize that's a huge range but it depends on the size of your pork shoulder.  You can estimate it will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours per pound to cook your pork roast between 250F and 275F.  When you can easily pull the meat apart with a fork, it's done!

I usually let the pork rest for 10 to 15 minutes before pulling it. After the pork has rested, shred the meat with your fingers or a fork and serve with Carolina-Style Barbecue SauceServes 4 to 8

Chef's Note: So, you just can't wait for hours to eat your pulled pork, huh? Well, here's quicker method if you own a pressure cooker.

Cut the pork butt into several chunks, 2- to 3-inches each. Coat the chunks of pork with the spice mixture.

Place a pressure cooker pot on the stove top over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, add 1 tablespoon oil. Brown the pork in batches. When the pork is browned, remove it from the pot and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Add 2 cups broth or vinegar to the pot and gently scrape the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon to loosen any bits of meat that are stuck. Return the pork to the pot, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate. Close and lock the lid.

Bring the pressure cooker to high pressure (15 psi). Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to maintain pressure, and set the timer for 1 hour.

When the time is up remove the pressure cooker from the heat and manually release the pressure. Carefully open the lid and remove the meat to a platter. Cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before shredding. Discard the cooking liquid and serve with Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce.