Fritter - A Pantry Blog

2015

served
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

2015 was a big year for the Pantry.

It started out simple enough: just keep up. Then the space next door to us finally became available, and I could finally enact the plans I drew up two years ago, when it became apparent that we had outgrown our existing space. Building a second kitchen while keeping the Pantry running smoothly felt somehow harder than the first time around, when I was actually helping with the building (along with any friends I could talk into a “fun” construction day). I didn’t get my hands nearly as dirty this time around, mostly to stay out my contractor’s way, since we were on what is now widely accepted as an impossible schedule. But we finished. And it looks beautiful. And I’m so proud. And I’m so ready to leave Seattle for a nice long break.

prep
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

I’m a firm believer in vacations, and I encourage all of the Pantry staff to take them. There’s no limit on paid vacation days, and as long as we have plenty of notice, and things feel equitable, I let everyone manage their own time. That, of course, doesn’t stop every single one of us from grinding ourselves into a fine paste, so that by December we all tend to run around looking a little wild-eyed and feral. So in the spirit of keeping our shit together, every year we close down before Christmas and reopen after the New Year begins. We mostly disperse to our respective families and friends, and the time away is relished by us all. This year John and I will be celebrating Christmas in Alabama, then saying hello to 2016 in the Dominican Republic with our friends Molly and Brandon, who own Delancey and Essex next door.

For me personally, this trip is so incredibly important. I don’t naturally slow down — if you’ve seen me at the Pantry, it’s pretty likely that I plowed right by you on the way to some project that had me completely engrossed. I prefer to have long to-do lists, and have a tendency to think five years ahead at all times. But for the ten or so days where one year ends and another begins, I find an ocean somewhere south of Seattle and I float in it. And reflect on everything that happened that year, and how to make the next one even better. Away from the hustle and bustle and endless lists, I get my best ideas for classes, dinners, and other community-minded projects. Brandon and I compare notes on running growing businesses while finding ways to compete with each other (over anything, really), while John and Molly roll their eyes at us from behind their pile of New Yorkers. It is the perfect vacation.

But before we all leave for our respective breaks, the Pantry throws one last big dinner. As I mentioned above, I pride myself on only hiring overachievers, and we like to go out with a bang. Every year we string cranberry garlands across the ceiling, sneak gifts into each other’s bulging stockings, and for a few nights, just really get into the holidays with our version of an Italian Seafood Feast. It was our first time seating 40 guests with our new kitchen, and while there was a bit of a learning curve (walking from one side of the kitchen to the other sure takes longer now that it’s twice as long!), we were beaming by the third and final night of the dinner.

Arancini with tuna and parsley-lemon pesto
Spicy chickpea fritters with cipollini in agrodolce
Caramelized broccolini with oil-cured olive aioli

Ricotta gnudi with anchovy-brown butter
Roasted winter squash, bread crumbs, and chiles

Grilled prawns with caramelized clementines
Fregola, fennel, and saffron

Wilted chicories with pine nuts, pickled currants
Shaved bottarga, and lemon

Cinnamon-roasted pear with espresso butterscotch
Whipped mascarpone and almond

ready
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

It’s been several months since I wrote about dessert, so it seemed about time. And after eating these roasted pears multiple days in a row, I can say with confidence that I would very much like to eat them again. They’re great for entertaining, as you make all of the components in advance, and then simply warm up the pears and sauce before serving. I like my desserts a little wild-looking (and as I mentioned above, it’s December, so it matches the state of myself and my staff), so I prefer to serve this one in parts, and then let the guests have the pleasure of drizzling sauce across their plates and dolloping mascarpone onto their pears. I’m proud to share that after five course of fairly rich food, there were multiple reports of guests lifting up the family-style platters to scrape every last bit of sauce into their mouths. Now that’s my kind of dinner.

eaten
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Cinnamon-Roasted Pears with Espresso Butterscotch and Mascarpone

Yield
8 servings
  • Roasted Pears:
  • 1 lemon
  • 6-8 firm ripe bosc pears, depending on size
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Espresso Butterscotch Sauce:
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 14 1/2 ounces brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup espresso
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Whipped Mascarpone:
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 1 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Garnish:
  • Toasted sliced almonds
  • Flakey sea salt

On Showing Up, When You'd Rather Stay In Bed

chocolate
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

I’m not going to lie, November was rough.

Our new kitchen is technically open, though, as these things tend to go, it’s still not quite finished. We’re a few weeks behind schedule, with classes in full swing, and our contractor Joe (who built our beautiful tables) is still putting the finishing touches on the space as I type. November was filled with maniacal trips to Storables (so many bins!), painting everything white, getting it dirty and painting it over again, learning how to run two classes at once, and putting on a feast of a Thanksgiving dinner, making for some long, long days. I’m reminded of my time as an architecture student, when 14-hour days were the norm. I guess I’ve gone soft.

Somehow in the midst of it all we hosted another round our family dinners. This month we teamed up with THEO Chocolate, to celebrate their new cookbook, and we were thrilled at the prospect of working chocolate into a savory meal. We used the recipes in the book as inspiration, and created a menu of dishes that felt very “us”:

Housemade olive oil crackers with:
Beecher’s Flagship cheddar and onion jam with dried plums and dark chocolate
Mt. Townsend Seastack and Theo Ginger chocolate
Housemade ricotta, candied cocoa nibs, and coffee crumble

Cauliflower soup
Brown butter, pickled raisins, and cocoa-scented dukkah

Honey and saffron-braised lamb with cocoa-salt
Golden beets, chickpea puree, and pickled peppers

Chocolate and balsamic-glazed carrots
Arugula, avocado, and pumpkin seeds with roasted citrus vinaigrette

Roasted dates stuffed with dark chocolate
Malted cocoa nib ice cream, butterscotch, and candied hazelnuts

roasted
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

It was hard to pick one dish to highlight, as this was a very attractive dinner. And with all the construction and holiday craziness, the thought of doing a blog post almost sent me over the edge. I postponed my photo shoot date with Aran until the very last minute, and it took half of the Pantry’s staff to get me and the ingredients to her studio. I arrived a little weary and wild-eyed, without finding the time to actually make this dish beforehand (credit goes to Kim, master vegetable wrangler). I also forgot to buy tangerines and used oranges instead, burned the balsamic glaze into liquid char (looks good, though, doesn’t it?), and almost ate all of the pumpkin seeds before plating because, well, lunch is a luxury at this point. But I showed up, and I’m writing this post to share this recipe with you because one day, when we emerge from our crazy lives to that calmer version of ourselves that we like to imagine, this recipe will be waiting. And it is quite fantastic.

Plated
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Chocolate and Balsamic-Glazed Carrots with Pumpkin Seeds and Roasted Tangerine Vinaigrette

Yield
5 servings
  • Roasted Carrots and Citrus:
  • 2 pounds small carrots
  • 1 tangerine, halved
  • 1 tangerine, sliced into 1/8-inch thick rounds
  • 3 tablespoons high heat oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 5 or 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Chocolate-Balsamic Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 ounce Theo 85 percent dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Salad with Roasted Citrus Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo chile
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1 avocado, cut into wedges
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 ounce egg white
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce finely grated pecorino cheese (or parmesan)

Because, why not?

sandies
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Well, it looks like fall happened. Again.

Washingtonians take their apples seriously. Like real seriously. As someone who grew up in the South, then spent her young adult years in California, I didn’t know how deep apple appreciation ran. I mean, I ate apples (preferably in the form of apple fritters), I just didn’t think much about them, or have any appreciation for different varieties, or understand that when you get invited up to Harmony Orchards in Tieton for some apple picking, you DROP EVERYTHING and go. This year I was one of the lucky invitees, joining old and new friends to pile onto trailers being pulled by tractors, and roll around the farm sampling amazing heirloom varieties like Spitzenburg (Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple), Pinova (my favorite apple), and Ashmead’s Kernel (the Sour Patch Kid of the apple world).

I came home with over 80 pounds of apples, and a month later, I’m proud to say that they are all gone. While some live on in my freezer as applesauce, most of the rest found their way onto the menu for this month’s Apple Harvest Supper:

Grilled cheese sandwich bites with Spitzenburg apple-bacon jam
Pinova apple chips with celery, creme fraiche, and tarragon whip
Homemade pretzel bites with apple-stout mustard

Bacon lardons with apple gastrique
Roasted brussels sprouts, Ashmead’s Kernel apples, and hazelnuts

Cider-braised pork shank with chiles and fennel
Herbed spaetzle

Charred radicchio with parsnip-pear puree
Pickled Jonagold apple, aged gouda, and black pepper-thyme croutons

Browned butter custard
Cider-glazed Ambrosia apples and pecan crumble

assembly
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

If you know me at all, you know that I would have stopped reading — and started eating — after the first line. Because (A) bacon, and (B) grilled cheese sandwich. I have a deep and glorious love of grilled cheese sandwiches that dates back to the time when they were the only thing I knew how to make. They’re my go-to comfort food, and have kept me fed through many I’m too-busy-to-take-care-of-myself meals, several indulgent I-am-a-cheese-monster evenings, and the occasional total sad-sack moment. Which makes it all the more funny that I almost didn’t share this recipe, because it didn’t seem fancy enough. Ha! Me + Fancy = Silly. But then I figured, hey, the Pantry isn’t a fancy place, and this is a fantastic sandwich. So, why not? And besides, I figured we could all use a break after last month’s 40-ingredient tomato salad.

Kim developed the bacon jam recipe a year ago, as one of the edibles in our homemade holiday gifts class. It was easily the runaway hit, and after 8 rounds of that class, the two of us ate an amount that remains a secret to this day. We filed the recipe away, moved on to a month-long salad fast, and forgot about days filled with bacon jam-smeared bread. When we were putting together the menu for our Apple Harvest Supper, the time was right to break out the jam and serve it up in the greatest bread vehicle known to man: the grilled cheese sandwich.

I didn’t offer up a recipe for an actual grilled cheese, because I’m assuming we’ve all got that notch on our culinary belt. Let’s just make sure that we’re using squishy bread (I like potato bread), lots of butter, and nice sharp cheese. Beecher’s Flagship cheddar goes swimmingly with the bacon jam, so that’s what I used here.

bacon-jam
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Bacon Apple Jam

Yield
2 cups
  • 12 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 pounds (about 3) yellow onions, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds (about 4) sweet-tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smooth dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tomato Tomato Tomato

Tomato-Salad
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

September is a month of transitions for most of us.

The weather is still lovely, the produce is still distinctly summery, but mentally we’re all switching towards fall. At the Pantry we tried to hang on to summer as long as possible, with a retreat to Lake Chelan State Park that involved about 48 hours of uninterrupted lying-on-a-dock with bottles of bubbly, weirdly-flavored potato chips, 9-month-old trashy gossip magazines, and lots of coloring books. After a summer that was busier than usual, it was a welcome escape.

It’s now October, officially fall, and in Seattle we still have tomatoes at the farmers markets — heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, reminding us of warmer days. I know this is blasphemy in some circles, but I am a reluctant tomato eater. I’d like to blame it on the lackluster grocery store tomatoes of my childhood, but my parents had a rather large garden, so I suspect we had some pretty good ones growing up. Maybe it was the tomato-and-mayonnaise sandwiches that still give me the shivers? Or ketchup, still the condiment of my nightmares? Somehow I avoided tomatoes like the plague until my college years, when I gradually introduced them into my meals.

I can’t say that I have converted into a true fan, because as you may have noticed, true tomato fans are REALLY BIG fans. Like Green Bay Packers cheesehead-level fans (a football reference, to celebrate fall!). But despite my tenuous and skeptical relationship with tomatoes, this September dinner was for you, the true tomato lover:

Crispy baby artichokes with smoked tomato-pepita dip
Corn and chive fritter with farmer’s cheese and pickled ground cherries
Homemade black pepper “popchips” with tomato-fig jam

Tomato and leek gratin with aged goat cheese
Hazelnut-bread crumbs and late summer herb salad

Roast pork collar with wood-fired tomato-ginger relish, avocado, and cilantro
Fresh corn polenta with feta

Fresh heirloom tomatoes, fried green tomatoes, and pickled cherry tomatoes
Bacon, green beans, and basil vinaigrette

Tomato-blackberry float
Blackberry-creme fraiche ice cream, sparkling tomato soda, and cocoa nib shortbread

Our Tomato Harvest Supper was chock full of tomatoes, and I’m proud to say that I was excited about every single version we cooked up. I'll be bringing smoked tomato-pepita dip to every summertime potluck I get invited to, and homemade popchips — we're still patting ourselves on the back for that one. I was especially proud of the salad, as raw tomato appreciation was the last notch on my tomato lover’s belt. Kim dreamed up this salad, meant as a celebration of all things tomato. It has a long name when you try to describe it on a menu, so I call it the “tomato tomato tomato” salad. Since that’s not much shorter, we think of it as the Pantry tomato salad. We made this salad last summer with sauteed corn instead of green beans, and it was fantastic. Either version is tasty, so get crazy with whichever crunchy sweet vegetable you have in the fridge.

While typing up this recipe I realized that the ingredients list is long. Like terrifyingly long. Sorry about that. I promise, even if you live in a place where tomato season has ended, forcing you to wait until next summer, it’s worth it.

Overhead
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Tomato Tomato Tomato Salad

Yield
6 servings
  • 3 large ripe heirloom tomatoes of different colors, 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 ounces bacon, diced and cooked until crisp
  • 4 ounces fresh green beans, blanched and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, torn for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons rough chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste
  • Basil Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Pinch kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Pickled Cherry Tomatoes:
  • 6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 medium garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, pierced several times with a skewer
  • Fried Green Tomatoes:
  • 2 large unripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/3-inch thick slices
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • High heat oil for frying

Things are Happening.

tablescape-small
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

Welcome back to fritter!

So much happened in August! Firstly, we raised $68,000(!) in our gift certificate fundraiser, which really just made our month. It feels amazing to know that so many of you are in this with us, during what is possibly the most exciting summer since we opened our doors. And it was good timing too, because we started construction on our new kitchen! Walls have been torn down, linoleum has been scraped off of concrete, and at this moment they are installing plumbing for our very own scullery. And for those of you who’ve sweated it out with us this summer: we’re getting air conditioning! Yes — cold, cool air conditioning. The pizza classes, with their 500 degree ovens, will never be the same. This expansion has been a long time coming. I think I drafted the floor layout two years ago, so that I could be ready to jump the moment the space became available. Everything seems to be moving at a good clip, so expect our event schedule to get a bit larger sometime in November!

In other August-related news, we gathered around the table for another round of family-style dinners! I’ve got pretty itchy feet, and had been planning a trip to the Mediterranean this summer. I’ve been dreaming about making my way to Morocco, Italy, Greece, and Turkey for years, and finally decided to head that way in June. I blocked out dates on the calendar, started recruiting girlfriends, researching AirBnBs, and dreaming about the kind of holiday where you wear big sunglasses, eat yourself silly, sleep in, and read stacks of books.

Then I snapped back to reality. 2015 has been a year of many great moments. So many in fact, that there was most definitely no way to make time for a several-week-long Mediterranean beach crawl. No worries. I might not be able to convince myself that Lake Washington is a beach in Italy (though Matthews Beach gave it a good try!), but I can certainly stuff my face with all the food that would go with it. So in August we served up a five-course Mediterranean Seafood Feast, and, well, it was mighty tasty:

A trio of crostini:
Roasted eggplant and tomato with grilled squid
Taleggio with smoked castelvetrano olives and lemon
Marinated anchovy with homemade Calabrian chile butter

Homemade linguini with corn cream
Dungeness crab, goathorn peppers, and charred scallions

Chermoula-marinated grilled halibut
Chickpeas, chorizo, preserved lemon, and cilantro puree

Grilled zucchini with green beans, purple basil, feta, and charred lemon
Aleppo-pistachio vinaigrette

Toasted almond semi-freddo
Roasted stone fruits and salted peach-caramel sauce

This menu hit some high notes for me, with pasta, chiles, feta, and stone fruit (basically all of my favorite things) all representing. But it was the chermoula-marinated halibut that I couldn’t stop talking about. Michelle dreamed up this recipe, and while it has quite a few components, it comes together pretty easily. Halibut is a mildly flavored fish, which makes it fairly versatile in the kitchen. It does well with frying and poaching, but it’s summer (and hey, we’re pretending to be at the beach), so we fired up the grill. Michelle coated the halibut in red chermoula, a North African marinade with a little heat and lots of flavor, and then served it on cilantro-sauced chickpeas with chorizo and preserved lemon. And there’s beet greens, so you know it’s healthy.

halibut-1
Photo by Aran Goyoaga

​Chermoula-Marinated Grilled Halibut with Chickpeas, Chorizo, Preserved Lemon, and Cilantro

Yield
8 servings
  • Chermoula-Marinated Halibut:
  • 1 large bunch cilantro
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon preserved lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons rice bran oil (or other neutral-flavored oil)
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 3 pounds halibut
  • Chickpeas:
  • 2 cups dried garbanzo beans
  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half horizontally
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bunch beets greens
  • 1 dried chorizo, diced
  • 1 preserved lemon rind, sliced into thin strips
  • Cilantro Puree:
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 1/2 cup rice bran oil (or other neutral-flavored oil)
  • Kosher salt, to taste

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