celebrations in Seattle

Filed in Gather Food Essential by on October 20, 2007 0 Comments

It’s good to be home.

We thrilled to the heartbeat of walking the streets of New York together. We danced in exultation at the book coming into the world. We couldn’t stop giggling.

Still, we love Seattle. And there’s something wonderfully comforting about sleeping in your own bed every night.

These next few months, we are going to be gone from home quite a bit. When we are here, we breathe into it, and slow down.

Right now, rain is splashing against the windows as I type. Red and yellow leaves are clogging every storm drain in the city. Summer suddenly feels far away. It’s time for baked goods and denser foods.

This afternoon, just past one, I sighed with happiness as the Chef emerged from the kitchen, carrying two plates. We had spent the morning at the Market — our first time back in months, since we avoid it during tourist season — and savoring our coffees together. In a few moments, he would be running, doing the preparations for a private party that night, and I would have to return to the thousand emails. But for a few moments, we were alone, with only the sound of the rain to keep us company, and we were about to eat.

Seared duck breast. Wild rice with local chanterelle mushrooms. A dark, slightly sweet sauce of pork, veal stock, and lots of reduction. This was lunch, spontaneously, at the restaurant together. The crisp edges of fat along the dark meat, the chewy healthiness of the rice, and the pucker at the back of the lips after licking the candied savory sauce off the fork before me. Will wonders never cease with this man?

It’s good to be home.

And this week, we are happy to be back in Seattle, in particular, because the city feels like a celebration of the book.

The Chef and I are bedazzled and happy these days, amazed by people’s responses to the book and us, exhausted from the traveling, aware of the money involved in funding one’s own book tour, and mostly in constant wonder at our lives.

And we would love to see you.

This week, we are going to be doing a number of events here in Seattle, and I sincerely hope that you can make one of them.

As an aside, however, for transparency, I have to say this: it’s sometimes awkward to write here and say, “Hey! Can you come to this event in honor of my book? Can you pay money for food and wine and celebrate me?”

However, we really want to put this book into the world. People’s responses so far have been astounding, so kind, so heartfelt. I will never forget the woman in Central Park who thanked me for writing the book, in tears, and said, “Now I can feed my friends again, because of you.”

We both feel strongly that all this is happening for a reason. This is bigger than us. We are hoping that we can really help people with the book and our efforts. And if people who are gluten-free can have parties, fabulous celebrations, wine, and great food — that will change their lives too.

Writing this book and seeing it published has been my dream come true. And I’d really like to celebrate it with all of you.

So, all that said, here are the events:

Monday, October 22nd

Book launch party at Osteria La Spiga (1429 12th Ave, between Pike and Madison)

We adore La Spiga. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in the city, particularly after our time in Italy. They have graciously offered to throw a book launch party this Monday.

There will be great gluten-free food, Italian wine, live music, and a great party.

And look at this menu:

Zucca Arrosto al Cacao
Butternut squash with cocoa powder

Tortino di Polenta con Fagioli Brasati

Polenta with braised beans

Vitello Tonnato
Poached veal with tuna sauce

Gluten-free bread & cheese

And you get a copy of the book! So, if you live in Seattle and don’t have a book yet, here’s one chance.

The cost is $50 (but remember that includes the cost of the book), and these wonderful folks would really appreciate cash or check.

The party starts at 6 and lasts until 9.

Call for reservations at 206.323.8881. (please do make reservations. A number of you have written to me, to say you will be there, but I don’t think the head count is accurate yet. I wouldn’t want anyone to miss this chance.)

Wednesday, October 24th

I will be doing a book signing at the Whole Foods on Denny. There will be a big gluten-free vendor fair going on at the same time, so this is a real chance for community.

This goes from 6 to 7 pm, and it’s free!

Come by and say hi, if you have the chance.

Friday, October 26th

ChefShop is one of our favorite places to buy great olive oils, vinegars, and chocolate. These folks are so good to us, and they are throwing a huge party in our honor. (The Chef will have to cook that night, so this will just be me.)

You can read all the details here. And I’ll be telling you more about this next week, as well.

But know this — they have gone all out! Cabaret seating, a huge buffet of twelve different dishes, all based on our recipes:

shaved fennel salad
pizzettes with prosciutto and artichoke hearts
black rice salad
macaroni and cheese with manchego
lemon olive oil cookies

plus many more, all based on the recipes we created together.

There is also going to be lots of wine.

I’m going to be giving a slide show of photographs of our experience in Italy, since the entire theme of the party is living the good food life (inspired by our time in Umbria and Rome). And they will be selling copies of the book and I’m going to be autographing them.

The cost is $50.

And you can make reservations online, or call them at 206-286-9988.

On top of all this, all the profits from this will go to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, so it’s a party with a good cause.

I wanted to share all these details here, even though I have mentioned both events before, because the people at both LaSpiga and ChefShop are going to a great deal of trouble and spending money for us. We’d really, really like to have both of these thronged with people!

Thank you, everyone. We can’t wait to see you all there, or wherever we meet next!

Love and a big yes,
shauna

Butternut squash soup with smoked paprika

When we were having lunch today, the Chef pulled out the butternut squash soup he had made the night before. I took one whiff and smelled October. And then, we both remembered the recipe we had developed for the book, one of many that had to be cut with length.

This silky, slightly sweet soup with a kick makes any rainy day feel cozy. In this case, the Chef garnished it with green onions and dollops of pumpkin seed oil. I’m partial to creme fraiche, myself.

1 butternut squash
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons high-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
4 ounces unsalted butter.
2 carrots, peeled, quartered, and diced small
3 celery stalks, diced small
1 medium white onion, diced small
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
3 tablespoons jasmine rice (or another long-grain white rice)
½ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup cream
1 tablespoon good-quality honey

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Preparing the squash. Cut the ends off the butternut squash. Cut it in half, using a strong knife to make it through the thick skin. Cut those halves into half, leaving the butternut squash in quarters. Scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Season the squash with salt and pepper, then drizzle the olive oil in liberal amounts over the squash. Pinch the smoked paprika on top of the oil. Lay the seasoned butternut squash pieces on a baking sheet and toss them around, coating everything in the olive oil and paprika.

Roasting the squash. Roast the squash in the oven for roughly forty-five minutes, or until a butter knife goes through the flesh with ease. Do not allow them to become mushy. The knife should slide right in, then slide out, without leaving a trail of mushy butternut squash on it.

Peeling the squash. Cool the squash for twenty minutes to half an hour, or until you can peel them with ease. Peel the skins from the squash with a knife. Set the squash aside for the moment.

Sauteeing the vegetables. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, melt four ounces of unsalted butter on medium-high heat. After it has melted down about halfway, add the two tablespoons of oil. Allow the two liquids to become a coherent mixture. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook the vegetables on low heat, or until the vegetables begin to sweat, as though they are sitting in a sauna. (This should take about ten to fifteen minutes, the same as a sauna.) Stir them occasionally during this process. The vegetables will have a bright color, and they will be soft but not mushy.

Add the chopped thyme, rosemary, and sage to the vegetables. (You must use fresh herbs here, or the soup will taste dusty and pale.) Cook the mixture until the perfume of the herbs emerges and turns the noses of everyone in the other room.

Cooking the squash. Add the cooked squash to the soup pot. Cook the mixture for three to four minutes on medium heat. At this point, add the tablespoons of rice. Stir the mixture well and cook for at least a minute, or until all the rice grains are coated. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half.

Making the soup. Cover the vegetables with the stock, which should be one inch higher than the vegetables. After eight minutes or so, check on the firmness of the rice. Stick a spoon in the soup, grab a grain of rice, and determine its texture. Edibly soft? You’re done? Rigid and inflexible. Cook for a few minutes more. Mushy? You have gone too long.

Pureeing the soup. Pull the soup from the pot and put it into your blender. Puree it as finely as you can. Next, strain the puree in small batches through a fine mesh sieve, pressing the soup through with the back of a wooden spoon. This will leave the pulp behind in the sieve, and the soup you have strained a wonderfully fine taste.

Finishing the soup. Bring the soup back to a bubbling boil in the soup pan. Add the butter and cream, then stir them in. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Just before serving, add the honey to the soup and stir.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a dollop of crème fraiche and some fresh chives. Serve the soup to your happy guests.

Serves 6.

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