Wednesday, October 28, 2009

For years, the restaurant scene in Redmond, Washington has been woefully underdeveloped. I mean, it has it's Claimjumpers and whatnot for those craving 3 meals on one plate. And Pomegranate Bistro has it's moments, but is better for the weekend brunch than the night out without the kids.

But last weekend we found a rare treasure hiding right there in downtown Redmond. As you're going down Cleveland street, look left and you'll see The Stone House, a little old home-turned-restaurant. Quaint, cute...if it were listed in a home real estate listing it would say Charming Cottage (which we all know means Small and Old).

The kitchen, as seen through the backdoor appears miniscule. The dining room isn't much bigger with seating for a tight 25 or so and a teensy bar.

We started off a little shaky with a lunch menu instead of the wine menu, but after that confusion was remedied, the night only got better.

Always a sucker for figs and proscuitto, we got a little balsamic dressed salad for starters. It was good, but lacked some acid. Next up, we shared the Red Curry Mussels, buttery mollusks in a spicy sauce. I personally would have liked a serving spoon, but that's just me. And definitely ask them for some bread to soak up the curry sauce. It's hard to get the nuances of the sauce with just the mussels.

And then (cue heavenly harp chords)...there were the entrees. Oh, the entrees. How wonderful art thou! How genius is thy chef!

Succulent duck breast rolled around a dried cherry hazelnut compote, then wrapped in thick, juicy (not too salty) strips of bacon, all served over a mixture of chanterelle mushrooms and sweet chunks of butternut squash, sauced with a sage pesto. Wow...absolutely amazing.

But there's more. Not only was my entree the best I've had in ages. My husband's meal was equally incredible.

The menu literally reads, "Chili Crusted Painted Hills Farm Beef Tenderloin with White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Local Corn and Cilantro Butter." What that doesn't say is, "This is maybe the best piece of meat in the state." Yeah, I've been to Ruth's Chris Steak House and Daniel's Broiler. They have their good points, but they can go to the back of the lunch line cuz Chef Ryan Donaldson has serious chops (and I don't mean pork). This dish is inspired. The caramelized salty crunch of crust on the melt-in-your mouth beef, a whole cob of sweet corn flavored with that beautiful cilantro butter. I mean, when I go back I want to try something new, but I don't know if I could pass up ordering this beef for myself.

The dessert menu has all the regulars (flourless chocolate cake, creme brulee, bread pudding, brown butter cake) plus a roasted banana split in a martini glass. Cute until you spill it all over the table because it is impossible to eat out of that ridiculous glass. Try their house made brownies, though. You won't be sorry (unless you each had your own dessert before getting the brownies because your waistband will be quite uncomfortable at this point).

And for aspiring home cooks, there are recipes! New every week. If you missed one, all you have to do is email the chef for it. How great is that?

So go to The Stone House. Go, go, go, and ignore the paint color in the dining room for now. Because if you keep going, they can paint over it and maybe upgrade to a bigger restaurant. We do not want this place to close it's doors without opening some new ones.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Swirl into Dinner

Chicken, chicken, how to make it more exciting...

Well, everything tastes better with some sort of salty pork product.

And there's got to be some cheese.

And then we've got to mess with the presentation a bit.

Channel your inner cinnamon roll and what do you have?

A roulade (you know it's going to taste good with such a fancy name).

Note: It's extra tasty if you get your spouse to make it.

Chicken Prosciutto Roulade

2 large chicken breasts, bones and skin removed
3-4 slices of prosciutto
a little tomato paste or some chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 c mozzarella, shredded
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound the chicken breasts flat until they are about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Season with a little salt and pepper.

2. Spread some tomato paste on the chicken and top with 1 or 2 slices of prosciutto. Sprinkle on the cheese. Drizzle with a bit olive oil and season lightly.

3. Starting with the short end of the chicken, roll up the layers (think cinnamon rolls). Tightly wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or so to firm everything up.

4. Remove from the fridge and remove plastic wrap. Heat a little butter and olive oil in a skillet over MH heat. Sear the rolls lightly to give it some nice color. Transfer to a baking dish, cover lightly with foil. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Check temp with a meat thermometer.

5. Remove from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Carefully slice into 1 inch servings. Drizzle the pan juices over the slices and serve. Try it with some pasta and a salad.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Harvest Cake

Edible Seattle is one of my favorite publications. I'm sorry to say I still don't subscribe. Although, it's to their benefit because then I pay the higher price for each issue. Recently, I rescued an old copy (last fall) that was melting into the pile on my counter and remembered that there was a recipe I wanted to try.

Last year when I went to Taste Washington!, the rep for Edible Seattle gave me this particular issue and raved about the Harvest Cake. Apparently, they had a ton of positive feedback on this cake.

Since my husband's little glucose problem has changed our family's "dessert every night" policy (trust me, our pants are glad for the change), I've been looking for a reason to bake a cake. It just so happened to be my mom's 29th birthday (again) this week. A perfect occasion for Harvest Cake.

When you see the ingredients, you'll be a little puzzled. But this cake is AMAZING! I've altered the original recipe, but thought I'd put the original amounts in parentheses so you can judge for yourself. Happy Harvest.

Harvest Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Butter for the pan
2 large carrots, grated (1 1/2 c)
1 large parsnip, grated (1 cup)
1 medium zucchini, grated (1 1/4 c)
1 tart apple, grated (1 c)
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon (plus 1/2 tsp ground ginger if you want)
3 large eggs
3/4 c sugar (original calls for 1 c)
1/4 c brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c canola oil (I think 1/4 c would work just fine)

1/2 stick (4 TB) butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 c confectioners' sugar
2 TB apple cider
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x9 inch pan, line with parchment, butter the parchment. Set aside.

Whisk together the flours, soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars until very well blended. Add the vanilla and the oil, whisking until completely combined. Using a spoon, stir in the flour mixture, then fold in the grated vegetables and fruit, stirring until completely coated with batter.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake on the middle rack for 50-55 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Remove the paper, and invert again onto a serving plate. Cool at least 1 hour more.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. Whip the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until light and smooth, about 3 minutes. On low, add the sugar, a little at a time, then the cider and cinnamon. Scrape down the bowl, increase speed to high and whip for 2 minutes.

Cut the cake in half horizontally, spread with frosting. Add the top layer and frost the top and sides. There will be extra. Just let it chill out in the fridge for a couple days and dip some apple slices in it.

Dare I say a "healthy cake"? Yeah, I dare. That's right. And it's oh so yummy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Trend Du Jour: The Taco Cart

Uh, ahem...hello. Is this thing on?

I know it's been a while, so let me explain. At the beginning of September, I finally left the ranks of a purely stay-at-home mom and joined the dizzying paced workforce of adjunct professordom. I have to admit, its a little strange being addressed as "Professor" (especially since that's not technically true!). I'm feeling a little old, not having the slightest idea about current music requested during studio work times.

But on top of that big change, there was the even bigger surprises my husband had in store this fall. There was a whirlwind interview out of state, an offer, some agonizing about whether to take it, then the obligatory "tears because of change", an acceptance of aforementioned job, a very long weekend spent driving (7 hours each way) and looking at new housing, then tearful goodbyes to daddy who would have to spend three months on his own in the new town. Oh, and then it was all for naught because the boss was too far gone on the crazy woman side of the tracks having misrepresented the kind of commitment she sought (both kidneys, a cornea, and the firstborn, no kidding).

So after the emotional rollercoaster (actually more like a jetliner in a lightning storm with one engine out), we have our man back, albeit unemployed. It's been a very great couple of weeks with him back. Lots of housework is getting done, my cooking load lightened. He and the baby have become very tight.

Last night, when the older kids went to Grandma's for the night, he made it all up to me (and the baby) by an all expenses paid dinner out. Nothing says love like the gas station parking lot, a little Google CEO on NPR, and the special from the taco stand in Totem Lake called Burrito Mojado.

Five meaty little tacos, a little cilantro and onion, some salsa verde, and a squeeze of fresh lime. All washed down with the included HFCS beverage in the red can. Cheap delicious eats. And he had even worked it out with the baby so that she fell asleep just minutes before we arrived and stayed asleep during the whole dinner-in-our-sweet-minivan experience. (There are tables set up outside the cart, but our car was warmer!)

And since everything is perfectly hunky dory now (at least until the next major surprise), maybe I can jump back on the food blogger train. I definitely owe it to my readers to let you in on my husband's very own Chicken Prosciutto Roulade recipe.

Hasta Luego, Amigos.
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