Seductive Summer Recipe: Baby Heirloom Tomato and Tri-Colored Potato Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

There are few things I love more than sun-ripened tomatoes, straight from the vine. In the Pacific Northwest, our season is short. Except this year! Back in May, I attended the Tilth Edible Plant Sale in Wallingford. I went for two plants. Four flats and $87 later, I had the beginning of my summer garden – enough for me and my entire neighborhood!

I purchased four different varieties of tomatoes, all baby heirloom. These are the inspiration for my favorite summer recipe.

Baby Heirloom Tomato & Tri-Colored Potato Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette

2 pints mixed baby heirloom tomatoes (I love to mix the colors of orange, yellow, green and red for a gorgeous salad)

1 2-pound bag small tri-colored potatoes (includes red, purple and gold potatoes)

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

1/4 cup diced Kalamata olives

Fresh basil, tarragon and parsley, minced

For champagne vinaigrette:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I prefer Sotto Voce’s Pomodoro Olive Oil with Chile Flakes)

1/2 cup Citrus Champagne Vinaigrette

2 Tablespoons Whole Grain Mustard

1 Tablespoon Honey

For the tomatoes: Slice in halves, and place in a small bowl. Set aside.

For the potatoes: In a large pot of water, place the potatoes and bring to a slow boil for 15 minutes (or until potatoes are fork tender). Remove from water and place on a sheet pan. When cool enough to handle, quarter the potatoes and add to a large bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette (see below) over potatoes and toss. Cover bowl with a towel and let potatoes steam/cool down.

When potatoes are cool, add tomatoes to bowl with the potatoes. Add minced herbs, diced kalamata olives and red onion, toss to combine. Add about 1/4-1/2 cup of dressing. The potatoes will absorb the dressing, so reserve some to add right before serving. Chill salad at least 1 hour up to overnight.

For Champagne Vinaigrette:

Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse until the oil is emulsified. Do not over-blend as the vinaigrette will “break”.

Serves 6-8 guests.


Pleasure Your Palate!

~Chef Traci


Sea Salt, Black Pepper

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Pike Place Market Culinary Throw-Down

On July 9th, Seductive Specialty Foods had the pleasure of welcoming 50 State Legislators from across the United States to Pike Place Market. Back in the early Spring we received a request to design a “Top Chef” style competition for the Senators and Delegates from four different caucuses who would be visiting Seattle, WA for a conference. The challenge was to design an engaging experiential program that everyone could participate in, while shining the spotlight on the many diverse cultural culinary offerings of Pike Place Market.

It’s times like these, that I L.O.V.E. my career and business! Having the opportunity to not only give these guests a truly unique experience but to also introduce them to the Market and all of its history and offerings is what it’s all about!

For their evening, I created two challenges, following a “Top Chef” styled format. The group’s moderator had each guest count out into four groups, ensuring the guests would have the opportunity to interact with colleagues they don’t typically see on a regular basis. Once the groups were determined, I introduced my four chefs Joe, Allyss, Chris and Karen, who were each assigned to a group and who would offer guidance and expertise as needed.

The first challenge was a 10-minute challenge . cooking class 1Each group was given three organic eggs, and five ingredients: garlic spears (the tops of elephant garlic), an orange quarter, one half of a croissant from Le Panier, grated Beechers Flagship Cheddar Cheese, and a spoonful of bacon fat. The timer was started and the Atrium Kitchen quickly filled with lively conversation as each team enthusiastically dove into the challenge with creativity. At the end of ten minutes, the panel of judges (consisting of me and two of my staff) were presented with four very delicious and gorgeous plates ranging from an omelet, to a soft boiled egg, to a scramble. These teams clearly were bring their A-game! The winner of the Challenge was Joe’s team, and their prize for winning was having first choice of ingredients to be used for the second challenge.

For the second challenge of the night, each team could select between 4-6 ingredients from the bounty of Market’s delicacies I’d selected and then they would have 30 minutes to create two appetizers. Before beginning the challenge, I introduced the basket of ingredients, sharing a bit about each product and company:

Mt. Townsend Creamery Off-Kilter Cheese (the Creamery’s cheese bathed in Pike Place Brewery’s Kilt-Lifter beer), Salumi’s artisan salami made exclusively for DeLaurenti Specialty, Rainier Cheeries from Lyall Farms, Mexican Chocolate Cheesecake from The Confectional, Essential Bakery Sea Salt flatbread crackers, pink lady apples, Golden Raspberry Jam from Johnson Berry Farm, Bacon Spread from Skillet, Moon Valley’s Blackberry Honey, dried Washington apples, dried pineapple and dried okra from Simply the Best, Sotto Voce Pomodoro Olive Oil and Sotto Voce’s Honey Balsamic Vinegar with Strawberries, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, and one perfectly ripe pear, which ended up being the shining star for the winning team.

The variety of plates and appetizers created was PHENOMENAL! Each team really stretched their creativity, with one team making a “flat bread pizza” using one whole sheet of flatbread, bacon jam for the sauce, crispy salami and melted Off-Kilter cheese on top! This was the second place dish. The first place dish belonged, once again, to Joe’s team who had acquired the one and only pear. The dishes they made featuring the sweet beauty of the ripe fruit made it a hands-down, no questions-asked winner in my book! They successfully combined the natural sweetness of the fruit with the savory, saltiness of the salami and earthiness of the Off-Kilter Cheese. Every team delivered exceptional bites! (Okay, there was one bite that was tough to get down!)

The evening concluded with our selection of appetizers including Dungeness Crab on Endive with Avocado Gremolata and Five-Spiced Walnuts, Ahi Tuna Poke on Crisp Wontons, mini BLTs featuring Seductive’s Heirloom Tomato Jam, and a dinner of Ginger-Lemongrass Flank Steak, Vegetarian Polenta with Beechers Flagship Cheddar, Baby Heirloom Tomato & Tri-Colored Potato Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette, Fresh Washington Berry Trifles featuring blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries from Hayton Farms, and Espresso Brownies.

We all had a blast! If you’d like to book this type of experience for your team, please send Chef Traci an email!

~ Chef Traci


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The Heady Love Affair of Figs

Every now and then, I fall in love with a food. Sometimes from a restaurant, like Joules Duck Pastrami Fried Rice, or TnT Taqueria’s Brisket taco, or Paseo’s #2 Cuban sandwich. Sometimes from the kitchen of a friend, like a homemade batch of applesauce, or a particularly good staff meal at the end of service at the restaurant.

And then, sometimes, rarely, there are the love affairs. An intense, all consuming passionate, can’t-get-enough-of-you-love. Its pleasure is brief, limited by seasons, sunlight, and destiny, but it sure is ecstasy at its most finest when it hits.IMG00004-20100821-1406

I’ll let you in on a secret – I’m having such a love affair with figs right now. It started with an obscure Google search of figs. It was then, with that happenstance search, I stumbled upon a mention of a dish (written in French no less, which I do not speak, or read, or write) for Beignets de Figues. I scoured the internet for an English version of the recipe, my anticipation mounting, my quest for more, building. It became an obsession, much like how a love affair starts. When I could not find a suitable version, I returned to the French recipe  for what promised to be a luscious adventure. I hit Google’s translate button on the French-written recipe, did a few measuring conversions, and headed to Pike Place Market for a flat of figs. (This is a love affair – all good sense was gone and I sure wouldn’t settle for a mere pint of the decadent globes of gorgeous purple flesh). Once I had acquired my the little jewels, I hurried home, eager with the anticipation of unwrapping the case, delving deep into my extensive pantry for the perfect ingredients. I was no longer following the confines of the recipe I’d searched for and translated, I was going rogue, unbridled enthusiasm daring me to experiment. The anticipation of the end-result building along with my curiosity.

I gently rolled the soft flesh of the delicate figs between the tips of my fingers, then ran the knife gently through the figs, revealing petulant pink flesh. Baring the inner flesh of the figs was akin to slowly undressing before a lover, or maybe it was too much of Robin Thicke’s “Can U Believe” playing over the speakers, that set such a seductive mood for this exploratory tryst of sorts.

One of the ingredients I have in my expansive pantry are cases of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey since it is a key ingredient in my Succulent Grill Sauce (another story for another day.) On the stove, I brought a touch of sugar and the whiskey to a slow boil, adding the sliced figs once the liquid reached a thick, syrupy consistency. I cooked the figs for just a few minutes, retaining a touch of firmness to their texture, and then pulled them from the heat, letting them steep in the syrup. I turned my attention to the beignet batter that I had translated.

The batter came together very quickly and I let it sit for about 10 minutes, while I brought the oil to temperature. I gently lifted each fig and slowly dipped it in the batter, letting the excess drip off. I lowered the fig into the hot oil and let them cook for just a few minutes, until the batter just started to turn golden brown. I pulled the hot fig from the pot with a slotted spoon. I set the first fig on a paper towel to drain. Unable to contain myself, I took a bite of the decadent morsel. The pleasure of the bite was everything I’d anticipated, and more. I couldn’t wait to try another, so I repeated the process, dipping them in the creamy batter, cooking to a golden brown, letting them rest on paper towel and then popping them in my mouth.

It was on the third, or maybe fourth fig, it occurred to me that Seductive’s Vintage Port Syrup would be the perfect mate for these fig beignets. I eagerly searched Seductive’s fridge for the container of Mascarpone. I emptied the container into a small bowl and pour about two tablespoons of Seductive’s Vintage Port Syrup into the cream and whisked them together.

I cooked two more figs and christened each beignet with a dollop of the Vintage Port Syrup Mascarpone cream, and I knew I had reached the pinnacle of pleasure. Starting a morning with these beignets would be the equivalent of sex in the morning. Luscious and satiating.

The clandestine affair is out in the open now…

~Chef Traci

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Seductive Food: Mussels, and okay, Beer and Scotch

I cook for a living. I write about food. I manufacture food. I serve food. I shop for food. I take inventory of food. Food is all around me, in essentially every aspect of my life. I always have to laugh when friends ask what I cook for myself. You see, I rarely cook for just me. It’s too much like work. But this year, there’s a new sheriff, er, budget in town. So I’ve been preparing my meals all week. Side note: I’m always suprised to see 1) how much weight I lose when I cook for myself, and 2) how much money I save.

My mantra to dine-in lasted five days. Last night, unable to stand the thought of continuing on with my 12-hour day in the kitchen, I bundled up and walked to Elysian Brewery in Tangletown on Meridian and 56th. It’s a comfortable restaurant slash pub; and I always feel at ease when I dine alone there. I took a seat at the bar, and ordered a Men’s Room Elysian's MusselsOriginal Red. Sipping the chilled beer, I scanned the menu repeatedly, not registering any of what I was reading. When the bartender came to take my order, I asked if he could just pick for me. His blue eyes got wide, and he asked, “Anything?” I pointed to the appetizer portion of the menu and said pick anything from there. (Elysian’s appys are like meals in and of themselves!) He looked intrigued, and asked if there were any no-nos. I assured him I would be fine with whatever he selected. Grateful that I didn’t have to make one more decision, I watched a bit of the Lakers game on the television in the corner, and finally relaxed after a long, unrelenting day of decisions, choices, number crunching, and deciphering legal lingo.

I found myself watching as the bartender constantly stayed in motion, pulling tabs, shaking cocktails, pulling glasses from the Hobart sanitizer. I wondered if he ever gets to the point in his day when he wants someone to just pour him a drink.

A server approached from behind, with a bowl inverted over the top of another bowl, and a small plate with three slices of french bread. I smiled. I eagerly removed the top bowl to reveal a steaming bowl of eroticly-enticing mussels. Visually, a mussel is so seductively suggestive, with the provocative meat between the gaping shells. I picked up the small seafood fork and took one of the shells, gently easing the mussel away out of its nestled spot and slowly slid the dripping meat into my mouth. The flavors of white wine, butter, garlic, and scallion were a perfect match for the tender mussel. I looked up and smiled at the bartender who was watching to see if I approved of his choice. “Well done,” I smiled at him. The delectable feast was all mine. I dipped my crunchy bread into the amazing sauce, and slowly worked my way through the bowl of mussels.

Satiated and just a little intoxicated from the succulent morsels, I relaxed the last little bit and eyed the 10-year-old Laphroaig Scotch behind the bar. 10-Year-Old Laphroaig, neat.

It was served to me neat. A peaty-smoky aroma lit my senses ablaze, and I rolled the first sip over my tongue, and the warm liquid carved a molten path down my throat.

The evening, the meal, the beverages were perfect. On my credit card slip, I thanked the bartender for a lovely dinner and told him how adorable he was. I may have written down my phone number too…but that was the mussels talking. Well, that and the beer, and the Scotch and Jarrod’s incredible blue eyes.

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