Mar. 25, 2016

My Seattle Kitchen Adventure


Friday, March 25, 2016

12:26 PM

My daily life is pretty average: I work, take care of family, household chores, garden and spend a lot of time thinking about and cooking healthy food.  Not only is cooking a life long habit / hobby of mine, it has been ever evolving as I learn new techniques, cuisines and most importantly…nutrition-centric ideas.  As you can imagine, my media tastes tend to have a heavy dose of food and cooking programing. One of my favorites and a "must hear" for me is the show Seattle Kitchen, which airs weekends on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM in Seattle, Washington. The show is hosted by celebrity chefs, Tom Douglas and Theirry Rautureu as well as hostess, Katie Okamura. Every weekend, their show covers food and cooking topics, hot trends, upgrading the old and boring, and interviews with restaurateurs, producers of craft foods, spirits, and produce. I always enjoy the show and if I cannot catch the broadcast, I catch up via podcast.

Recently, they put out the call to have listeners come to their kitchen / studio  and cook for their team.  I jumped on the opportunity before I gave myself too much time to think about how crazy it would be for me to cook for actual chefs.  Next thing I knew, I was corresponding with Tina Nole, the show's producer. So….on Tuesday, March 22nd, I ventured to Seattle, to have a cooking adventure with the cast of Seattle Kitchen

Before my trek to Seattle, there were a few days of planning and preparation. Tina asked that I cook something that is meaningful to me. That was a quick decision for me because I love nothing more than to cook with seasonal and local ingredients.  I decided to do what I do every spring, go foraging.  Always on my gathering list, nettles.  Typically, I cook them as greens, but I wanted to made something lighter and more appropriate for lunch fare.  My choice was to make either a pesto or pistou.  Next, my absolute favorite mushroom - morel. Alas, the timing was a little off. I had to rely on rehydrated morels, which can still be tasty. The last forage item I chose can be a little trickier. I gathered some fiddlehead fern fronds to add to my dish. In retrospect, I wish I would have skipped these. When they are picked just at the right time, they can be quite good. But they can also be a little tough and bitter in flavor. Mine were the later and I should have just skipped them. Good thing the markets are full of tender spring vegetables right now. As far as a protein, I will always choose local and sustainable. Skagit's Own Fish Market in Burlington had beautiful troll caught Washington Steelhead. With packed up ingredients and a dish in mind, I headed off to Seattle. 

For those of you who know where I live, "traffic Jam" is not a term that is often uttered. Knowing this, I added extra time for slowdowns. I made it through the slowdowns but was unprepared for the absolute stop that happened as soon as I was within a mile of my destination - Arrrgggg! It's a good thing I'm not a city girl.  Once we finally moved again, I found the location fairly easy.  The show is taped at Tom Douglas's cooking school called, the Hot Stove Society.  It is located in the  "Hotel Andra", which is a boutique hotel in the Westlake area. 

The fact that I got to go to the Hot Stove Society  was an real bonus for me.  It is a beautiful set up with multiple work stations and a gorgeous demonstration area, which happens to be where they tape the show.  I was immediately set up with a work area and stove.  There was a small audience watching quietly but interacting with the cast during breaks. Theirry was off on vacation, so Tom was handling the chef part solo.  Katie is also off on a fantastic trip so….super bonus for me….Rachel Belle was standing in. Rachel is one of my KIRO favorites and does a segment called "Ring my Belle with Rachel Belle". Also at work, were producer, Tina Nole and sound engineer, Sean DeTore. 

If there is one major take-away from this experience it is this: The Seattle Kitchen family are all such lovely people! They really put me at ease and were so welcoming. The show was being taped while I was prepping and cooking.  They would have me come on at intervals and answer questions about what I was making. At some point we stopped and I plated up the food for everyone to try. Then we went back on air, where Chef Douglas gave me the critic of my dish.  I have no idea how much of the conversation gets on the air after editing.  I really hope they edit out the part when my mind went blank and I had a seriously "senior" moment, hahaha. 

Looking back at this experience, I relize what made it so special for me was to connect my very real world of food and cooking, with the virtual world of media, which fuels my imagination and the expansion of my skill. To physically connect these things, even for the brief time, just makes my passion a little brighter. Who knows where my interest in food and cooking can take me next and the fantastic people I will meet along the way.

If you would like to know what they thought of my dish…..well, you will just have to listen to KIRO Radio, 97.3FM at 4:00 - 6:00 on Saturday March 26th or 10:00-12:00 on Sunday the 27th. You can also listen to it on demand via the KIRO Radio app, or Stitcher.

I would love to give a huge "thank you" to Tom Douglas, Rachel Belle, Tina Nole, Sean DeTore, and the staff person at the Hot Stove Society, who helped me find everything I needed while in your kitchen. It was a fantastic experience and I am so glad you made it possible for me.





The recipe

Nettle Pesto Steelhead with Spring Vegetables and Rhubarb Vinaigrette dressed Greens

By Valerie Harris, The Foodie Medic




Nettle Pesto

Stinging Nettles are plentiful and nutritious but a little tricky to harvest.    If you have ever come in contact with nettle leaves, then you know about the nasty little souvenir you will get, for your trouble. You can work around this by wearing non-penetrable gloves.  I use latex type of gloves, but even better is to wear those under garden gloves. Be sure to cover arms, legs and feet as well. They need to be collected early in spring, preferably after they first pop up.  It is best to use the tender, top cluster of leaves. As the plants grow and the leaves age, they develop compounds that can sometimes cause kidney problems. Keep your nettle leaves in plastic storage bags in the fridge until ready to use. Do not forget the sting is still active until the leaves are blanched or cook.


Approximately 3-4 cups of freshly harvested nettles

Pot of salted water for blanching

1/2+ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup soaked raw cashews (this was just my choice but pine nuts or walnuts are more traditional)

1 loose cup of fresh flat leaf parsley

 2 Tbs dried dill

4 large toes of fresh garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbs mild vinegar of choice (I used white wine vinegar)

Salt to taste




Place your raw cashews in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Allow them to sit for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the nettles.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a low boil and prepare an ice bath in a nearby bowl.  Using your gloves, rinse your nettles and then add to the pot of hot water. Let them steep just long enough that they look wilted and the color has brightened slightly. Use a slotted utensil to remove them from the water and in to the ice water bath.  Once they are cool, drain thoroughly and press out any excess water until they are quite dry.

Place your drained nettles, garlic cloves, heavy sprinkle of Kosher salt, pepper and a swirl of olive oil in your food processor and pulse until they nettles are fairly chopped up. Add the flat leaf parsley and dried dill and add another swirl of olive oil. Pulse again until no whole leaves are left visible.

Drain the cashews and add to the processor bowl and continue to pulse.

Now add the cheese, lemon juice, and vinegar plus another swirl of olive oil. Now blitz the mixture until  it looks smooth and consistent in color with no chunks. If it is looking too dry or pasty, add small amounts of oil until the consistency looks right. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Store in a covered container in the fridge for immediate use or

freeze any extra for future use.


Rhubarb Vinaigrette dressed Greens (for topping the fish)


2 - slender rhubarb stalks with the leaves and base removed

1 tsp - butter or oil

1/4 cup - dry white wine

1/4  + 1/4 cup - sweet, flavored vinegar such as a white balsamic (option would be a flavored vinegar and dollop of honey)

Squeeze of lemon

Salt  and pepper to taste

Olive oil

1 handful of tender spring greens such as watercress, pea shoots, arugula, etc.



Wash and slice the rhubarb in small slices. If the rhubarb is young and tender, leave the skin in tact. If the skin is tough, peel the red skin away.

Heat and small sauté pan over medium heat and add a small amount of oil or butter and add the rhubarb slices. Let them cook gently until just tender.

Deglaze the pan with a little white whine and half of the vinegar. Add salt and pepper and allow to cook off and thicken a little. Remove from heat and allow to cool and steep.

When you are ready to make the vinaigrette, pour off the steeping juice in to a bowl and add the lemon juice, optional honey and whisk in enough olive oil to achieve the thickness you desire. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Add back the rhubarb slices and just before serving pour over greens and toss.






Nettle Pesto Steelhead (or salmon)

6 servings


1.5 - 2 lbs fresh steelhead fillet

Nettle pesto

Olive or avocado oil for pan

Small pat of butter

Salt and pepper



Prepare the fish by removing (pulling) and bones that may remain and scrape scales from the skin if, you plan on eating the skin. Rinse and pat dry and allow to air dry while coming up to room temperature. Portion the fillet in to equal portions of your choice.  With skin side down, slice a shallow vertical pocket in the middle of each portion. Fill the slice with a bead of pesto and then continue to butter the flesh in pesto. Place skin side up and sprinkle with salt. Set aside while the vegetables are being prepared. Cook the fish last.

When you are ready to cook the fish, place a large non-stick or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and butter to the pan. When the oil shimmers in the pan, place the fish in the pan skin side down with care not to crowd the pan. If necessary, gently press the fish with a spatula so all of the skin makes contact with the pan. Reduce the heat slightly for maximum skin to pan time to crisp the skin. Watch the sides of the fillet to observe the cooked line (color change). When the line is about 3/4 up, flip the fish over. Turn off the burner and let the fish finish in the pan for another minute or two.   Test the fish for doneness by gently lifting up a flake on the side and checking to color to be opaque in the middle but no longer raw - or - use a meat thermometer and shoot for 145 F after resting. Remove from pan to a cool surface to rest for several minutes before plating.  If you developed a crispy skin, serve skin side up. If you would rather not have skin,  remove skin and flip over to the pesto side.


Spring Vegetable Medley


Any spring  vegetables that are available can be used.


1 lb - asparagus tips

1 cup - sweet peas, trimmed

Approximately 12 - baby potatoes (depending on size) cut in to halves or quarters

Mushrooms - you choice but Morel mushrooms become available in the spring and have wonderful flavor

Fern fronds (optional - available in early spring from farmers markets)

2 - baby leeks

1- large shallot

1-2 tsp - olive oil for pan

1-2 pats butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

Juice of one lemon

1 Tbs - the nettle pesto

Salt and pepper to taste

Minced flat leaf parsley to finish

Pan of salted water for blanching vegetables

Bowl of ice water



Begin by trimming and chopping all of the vegetables in advance.

Bring your pot of salted water to a boil and blanche your longer cooking vegetables such as the peas, asparagus, fern fronds and any other firmer veggies you may choose to use like carrots, fennel, etc.)  Blanche in batches and move from hot water to ice bath to colander to tray. Pat dry if they are still really wet.

The potatoes can be handled a couple of ways.  Option one is to trim them, toss them in a little oil and salt and let them begin to pan roast in a 400 F oven, if you want them to have some color.  Option two would be to parboil them in your blanching water,  just until tender.  Drain them and let them cool.

If you are using dried mushrooms, rehydrate them in hot water well in advance (1+ hours) and allow to drain well before  patting dry. If you are using fresh mushrooms, make sure they are brushed free of all debris and wash and dry only if necessary.  Slice in to the shape desired.  If you are collecting your own wild mushrooms, please consult appropriate experts and manuals.

Place a large sauté or wok over med to  medium high heat, depending on your stove. Place a small amount of oil in the pan to lightly coat.  When oil shimmers, add the small diced shallot and sliced leeks and lightly sprinkle with salt.  When the onions and shallots are soft and beginning to brown slightly, add the mushrooms.  Continue to sauté until mushrooms are done.  By now, your contents should be getting a bit dry and cooked through.  Add the wine  and lemon and allow that to sit and cook off the alcohol. After several minutes, add a small amount of butter and the glob of nettle pesto.  Stir in until smooth and add salt and pepper to taste.  Keeping the heat up, add the blanched vegetables and toss until all the vegetables are coated and heated through.  Watch this process closely so the vegetables do not over cook. Check seasoning one more time and remove from heat.  Toss in the parsley and turn out in to serving dish.  Sprinkle a  little more parsley or whichever fresh herb you would like to dress with.  Fennel fronds or fresh dill would be great too.


Assembling the dish


Plate your vegetables and top with a slice of fish.  If you are serving crispy skin up then place fish slightly to side and top the vegetables with a small bit of the dressed greens.  If you are forgoing skin, turn to the pesto side up and dress the top of the fish with the salad and a drizzle of the rhubarb studded vinaigrette.


Happy Spring!