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Category Archives: Food news

Joule Restaurant offers modern Korean cuisine

The persimmon salad is full of surprises as a starter. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The persimmon salad with bitter green and sesame yogurt is full of surprises as a starter. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Joule Restaurant is Asian fusion at its best

Cold-smoked tofu with Asian mushrooms is a star on the menu. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Cold-smoked tofu with Asian mushrooms is a star on the menu. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Don’t take my word for it – okay do – but just look at how packed Joule restaurant is every night and you’ll know why I keep coming back to this fantastic fusion restaurant that is my new Solo Hot Spot.

This unique restaurant shares space with The Whale Wins at 3506 Stone Way N., Seattle. As you walk through the front door the hallway literally separates the two chic restaurants. To the left you will find Joule encased with windows. The menu is diverse, with an emphasis on beef.

Top dishes to try

My favorite two dishes are the cold-smoked tofu made in-house and the duck pastrami with rice. The $9 tofu is silky, firm and smoky and the Hon-shimeji mushrooms add a nuttiness and earthiness to the soy vinaigrette.

Watch cooks by sitting at the chef counter. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Watch cooks by sitting at the chef counter. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The $14 duck pastrami satiates the tummy with fried rice and pickled currant. The Seattle Times’ review states the kalbi-marinated steak is a must-order.

Sally up to the chef counter, where there’s no reservations needed and is a perfect perch for a single person. Or if you are feeling social, try the communal table. The closer I am to seeing the food prepared and watching the talented chefs the happier I am as a diner at a restaurant. There’s something about watching chefs like owner Rachel Yang work their craft that totally relaxes me. In this case I’m mesmerized by this open kitchen because the staff executes each dish flawlessly and effortlessly. The team functions like a well-oiled machine, quietly humming as they cook dish after dish with ease.

Duck Pastrami with fried rice is decadent, comfort food. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Duck Pastrami with fried rice is decadent, comfort food. Photo by Christine Willmsen

At the counter you don’t feel alone and often you can spark up a conversation with the chefs or others sitting there. Yang and her husband Chef Seif Chirchi also own Revel restaurant, in the Fremont neighborhood and plan to open a third restaurant in Capitol Hill.

Cheers

Christine

Joule on Urbanspoon

Energizing Breakfast Kale Smoothie

Kale Morning Smoothie

My kale smoothie will give you the kickstart you need in the morning. Photo by Christine Willmsen

My kale smoothie will give you the kickstart you need in the morning. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Get a pep in your step with this healthy, fruit and vegetable morning smoothie. After purchasing a VitaMix (a powerful blender), I’ve been creating my own combinations of fresh ingredients to make a great smoothie that’s flavorful and nutritious.

The key to this smoothie is raw kale, because it has so much vitamin A, C and K. It also is considered one of those vegetables that feeds the brain and is anti-flammatory, helping heal a sore and stiff body. Kale is a popular trend for those on the health kick, but Dr. Drew Ramsey writes you should make it part of your staple diet.

This is one of the quickest recipes you can make in the morning and even drink it on the way to work. Next week I’ll show you another recipe with kale, so that the bunch you buy at the market doesn’t go to waste.

Hot in the Kitchen – Kale Smoothie

Ingredients like carrots and mango give a natural sweetness to this quick breakfast. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients like carrots and mango give a natural sweetness to this quick breakfast. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Ingredients:

6 kale leaves

1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

3 medium-size carrots

1/4 of lemon squeezed juice

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 cup water

1/2 apple

mixerCut vegetables into large chunks and add all ingredients to VitaMix or your blender. Pulse on low for 10 seconds and then turn on high for another 20 seconds. Serve immediately.

Cheers

Christine

Roasted Parsnips with Leeks and Mushrooms Recipe

This quick recipe combines Parsnips, leeks and mushrooms for a great dinner. Photo by Christine Willmsen

This recipe combines parsnips, leeks and mushrooms for a quick dinner. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Cook with Parsnips – the healthy, but forgotten root vegetable

It’s that time of year, when root vegetables like parsnips rule. But maybe you’ve never thought of parsnips or have never cooked with them before. It’s time to give them a try.

Parsnips are a cousin of the carrot and are a fantastic root vegetable full of nutrients and vitamins.

Parsnips are full of fiber and low-fat. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Parsnips are full of fiber and low-fat. Photo by Christine Willmsen

It is a great source of fiber and vitamin C, providing more than 1/3 of your daily needed dose. It also has iron, magnesium and vitamin B-6. Just because it’s a white vegetable doesn’t mean it’s not full of amazing flavor. I think parsnips show their true color when roasted.

This recipe combines the sweetness of parsnips, caramelized leeks, earthy mushrooms and a kick of red pepper.

The leek is a powerful anti-inflammatory food that also contains vitamin A and K. This low-fat vegetarian dinner is easy and satisfying.

While attending the International Food Bloggers Conference, I discovered Oxbow Organic Farm, located in the Snoqualmie Valley. This 25-acre vegetable garden near Carnation sells its produce at farmers markets, restaurants and to weekly subscribers. At the Ballard Farmers Market, I recently picked up a box of vegetables from Oxbow and their parsnips and leeks inspired this recipe.

Hot in the Kitchen: Roasted Parsnips with Leeks and Mushrooms

Peel parsnips and cut into large chunks.

Peel parsnips and cut into large chunks.

Ingredients

6 parsnips (medium size)

½ of leek diced

1 cup chopped mushrooms (save time by buying pre-sliced mushrooms)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Spread parsnips, leeks and mushrooms on foil-covered baking sheet.

Spread parsnips, leeks and mushrooms on foil-covered baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peal parsnips and cut into one inch by two inch pieces.  Clean leek by slicing it lengthwise from about ½ inch away the root through to the green ends. Rinse the leek under running water to remove dirt. Pat dry and dice ½ leek. Mix parsnips, leek, mushrooms, olive oil, salt, hot pepper flakes and black pepper in bowl. Cover large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour vegetables onto sheet and spread out as thin as possible. Cook in oven for a total of 22 minutes, stirring and turning vegetables at 11 minutes. Optional: sprinkle a pinch of applewood smoked sea salt on top of dish.

Cheers

Christine

The multiple benefits of a Juice Cleanse

Juice as a cleanse can be your healthy restart

Sometimes you just need a kick in the butt.

Suja three-day cleanse with organic fresh-cold pressed juices offered me a new healthy start. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Suja three-day cleanse with organic fresh-cold pressed juices offered me a new healthy start. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Yep, that’s what I said. And frankly that’s what I needed. I had major shoulder surgery in the spring and the recovery has been slow. After months of physical therapy, I was finally given a green light to start running, swimming and lifting weights. But as I recovered I also had gained weight, lost muscle tone and felt sluggish. And I was still eating rich, sometimes fatty, foods at restaurants and in my own kitchen. I needed a kick-start so I tried a three-day juice cleanse.

I’m not into pills and dry mixes to “cleanse” or restart my healthy lifestyle, so I turned to Suja Juice, an all-natural juice cleanse that I discovered at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. With my busy schedule I knew I didn’t have time to create all these juices myself, so that’s why Suja appealed to me. It’s so convenient. I just needed to drink six juices each day and plenty of water. No meals, no caffeine and no alcohol.

I was a bit reluctant to have nothing but juices for three days, but I can do just about anything for a couple of days, especially if I know there’s an end game. The cold-pressed juices are literally a combo of fresh ingredients like beets, apples, kale, cucumber, spinach, celery and lemon.

Fuel juice is my favorite in the cleanse line. Photo supplied by Suja website.

Fuel juice is my favorite in the cleanse line. Photo supplied by Suja website.

Day One of the cleanse was challenging, just because I was hyper focused on not having solid food to chew. However, I I wasn’t hungry and in fact the juices in 16 oz. bottles tasted great. My favorite was Fuel – a midmorning juice containing carrots, apple, orange, lemon, pineapple and turmeric. It was fresh, sweet and gulpable. My least favorite was the dessert juice – Vanilla Cloud with coconut, honey and almonds. It left a bitter after taste that I didn’t like. The juices are certified organic, dairy-free, gluten-free and non-GMO certified.

By Day Two I was actually enjoying the cleanse. I felt satiated and I had energy. That night I swam in the lap pool for 40 minutes and felt strong.

Day Three wasn’t missing solid food, but mentally I became fixated on what I would eat after the cleanse. Suddenly I was seeing all the food commercials on television with glistening burgers and salted fries and I was licking my lips. During the three days my friends and family constantly talked about food. They had no problem tempting and teasing me with details of their fabulous dinners or new recipes they had tried.

Suja offers six juices a day for the cleanse. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Suja offers six juices a day for the cleanse. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The next day after the cleanse, I was supposed to have mild foods like vegetables and soup. Well, I did have vegetables, but I added melted cheese and truffle oil. Not surprising, I had a stomach ache and the next couple meals I backed off and prepared simple dishes.

While Suja juice isn’t intended for weight loss, I did lose three pounds. Suja juice has amazing nutritional benefits and it was just what I needed to refocus on a healthy lifestyle.

Disclosure: I received a free three-day supply of the juices with no obligation to write or review the product. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

Cheers

Christine

A Great Sushi Happy Hour

Happy Hour Sushi for those on a budget

Large chunks of sashimi at Kozue restaurant make this the perfect quick dinner spot for one person. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Large chunks of sashimi at Kozue restaurant make this the perfect quick dinner spot for one person. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Kozue Japanese Restaurant is my new hot spot for singles to visit. This sushi restaurant not only has a great happy hour, but fresh fish at reasonable prices. Sometimes I just need my fix of sushi and want a place where I can grab sashimi, rolls and sake – and that’s why I love stopping in this little Wallingford restaurant, at 1608 N. 45th St., Seattle.

My go-to salad at this restaurant is the seaweed salad for $3.75. Photo by Christine Willmsen

My go-to salad at this restaurant is the seaweed salad for $3.75. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The Kozue happy hour, 5-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5-6:30 p.m. on Friday and 3-6:30 p.m. on Saturday includes sake and rolls for $3 each.

Nibbles like the spinach with salmon skin, spicy tofu and spring rolls are also just $3. Other items on the menu that I recommend include sake sashimi (salmon) and unagi (freshwater eel).

Don’t forget to order the Black cod’n Tofu, which is two Japanese-style kabobs with tofu and black cod or the Tuna Poki Salad with avocadoes, each just $5.50.

Thanks to my friend, Athima, I discovered this hot spot that I think you’ll want to try too.

Cheers

Christine

Kozue Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This Seattle restaurant’s menu is diverse and fresh

Ever-changing menu at Blind Pig Bistro makes it a worthy restaurant to revisit

Three words describe the Blind Pig Bistro in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood: seasonal, local and creative. This small restaurant seating less than 30 people is sandwiched between a Subway and teriyaki restaurant in a tiny strip mall at 2238 Eastlake Ave. E. But don’t let the size of the restaurant be the judge of what this restaurant can cook.

The small kitchen at the Blind Pig Bistro prepares a 12-courses tasting menu for visitors. A large blackboard on the wall is a menu that serves as a cheat sheet for what your palate will be tasting throughout the night. Come hungry and pace yourself at this casual restaurant that takes no reservations. It’s best to plan this dining excursion with a group of friends (a total of 4 works best) so that you can order the tasting menu that’s shared at the table for a total of $130-$170 depending on the fresh menu. For about $40 per person, you can try numerous dishes that will wow your taste buds.

Chef Charles Walpole modifies the menu every couple of days, and overhauls it about once a week focusing on local ingredients and fresh seasonal products coming from farmers in the area. Through the International Food Bloggers Conference and Urbanspoon, several food bloggers from across the country, included myself dined at the Blind Pig Bistro. Bloggers said the food was fresh, provocative and well-balanced. The favorite dishes were the steak with charred eggplant, duck and zucchini salad.

If you need to nibble, experience their happy hour of small bites of the chef’s desire for $5 and wine by the glass for the same price. Recent reviews of the restaurant include:

The Seattle Times

Eater Seattle

Seattle Met

Cheers

Christine

Blind Pig Bistro on Urbanspoon

Morel Mushroom Hunt and Taste Off

Blind tasting of Morel Mushrooms reveal different flavors

Bags of morel mushrooms are awaiting our very scientific blind tasting. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Bags of morel mushrooms are awaiting our very scientific blind tasting. Which mushrooms will we choose as the best – fire or natural morels. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Who doesn’t love mushrooms – those woodsy, musty and earthy caps that mysteriously and miraculously spring from the ground.  I was lucky to be invited to a taste off of morel mushrooms. My friend who is a mycologist and excellent cook – Matt Ironside – had recently plucked morels from the slopes of low-lying hills and mountains in secret locations within two hours of Seattle.

The morels were gigantic and fresh. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The morels were gigantic and fresh. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Knowing I had a crush on mushrooms, he asked me to join him and others to blindly taste natural morel mushrooms and fire morels. Fire morels grow after a forest fire. He wanted to know which we favored and why.

Matt is always on the hunt – for mushrooms that is. Like other mycologists he has his favorite secret spots that I’m sworn to secrecy. He came to the dinner, juggling several bags of morels. They were clean, large and begging to be in my mouth.

Matt prepared them the same way, sautéing sliced morels in butter and a touch of salt. He presented two plates, with the mushrooms looking almost identical. With chopsticks in hand, five of us voted on which plate we liked the best. And the winner by way of finger-pointing to the favorite mushrooms were the fire morels.

The winner of the blind tasting was the fire morels that were sauteed in light butter and a touch of salt. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The winner of the blind tasting was the fire morels that were sauteed in light butter and a touch of salt. I swear there was a hint of smokiness. Photo by Christine Willmsen

They were rich, earthy, nutty and creamy with a carmelized finish. And I swear there was hint of smokiness. Another judge said the fire morels were so meaty and flavorful they could replace a steak for dinner. The natural morels tasted great too, but the clear winner was the fire morels.

For more information on mushrooms connect with the Puget Sound Mycological Society. They have field trips for hunting mushrooms. I suggest if it’s your first few hunts for mushrooms that you go with an experienced mushroom hunter. 

Please keep Hildegard Hendrickson in your thoughts and prayers, she’s an expert mushroom hunter who has been missing since a morel hunt June 8. A search for her has been suspended.

Mycologist Matt Ironside stirs up a creamy morel mushroom risotto for dinner after our blind tasting. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Mycologist Matt Ironside stirs up a creamy morel mushroom risotto for dinner after our blind tasting. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Morels will be in season for the next couple weeks in Washington state.

So hunt them, buy them or order them on a restaurant’s menu, because these are the jewels of the earth worth savoring, especially if they were born after a blazing fire.

Cheers

Christine