Porc au Pruneaux


It’s been cold here on the Island lately, so it was time for a French Winter classic, Porc aux Pruneaux et Cidre.  There are some excellent local hard ciders these days, especially from neighboring Jefferson County, but I used Chelan Gold from Eastern Washington this time. Soak  a cup of prunes in Hard Cider over night, then take a pork shoulder and insert the wrong end of a wooden spoon almost all the way through it horizontally three times, then stuff those tunnels with the prunes. Then brown it in a Dutch Oven with some shallots, garlic and carrots and braise it in hard cider for about 2 hours until 165°. Remove solids to a cutting board and tent with foil. Remove as much fat as possible from the pan and reduce to a thick sauce. Here it is, ready to slice:


Great with Thyme-Roasted Fingerling Potatoes. I get all my spuds and garlic from Betsey Wittick at Laughing Crow Farm here on Bainbridge. Halve potatoes horizontally, toss with olive oil, salt & pepper, a garlic clove and a few branches of English Thyme. Roast cut side down, covered for 30 minutes at 400°, remove thyme, turn the fingerlings over and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes.

Here’s a great shot of Betsey at the Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market:

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And she’s got a terrific blog of her own, right HERE.


Roasted Squash Soup with Sage, Chile Ancho and Creme Fraiche

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Kabocha is a Japanese squash, sweeter than a Butternut, with a chestnut-like texture. Widely available at Farmers’ Markets and even supermarkets. The deer got my kabochas this year, so this one was from the Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market, as were the leeks.

1 Kabocha squash, 2-3 pounds
2 leeks, white part only, 1 inch pieces
4 T butter
4 cups stock
2-3 t ancho chili powder
1/2 cup creme fraiche
12 small sage leaves

Halve the squash and remove the seeds and strings. Place cut side down on a foil-covered baking sheet in a 400 degree oven and roast for about 45 minutes until soft. Scrape out flesh.

In a stockpot, saute leeks in 2 T butter to coat, add stock, squash and ancho powder, bring to low boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree and return to stockpot. Adjust seasoning.

Melt remaining butter in small saucepan over medium heat until foam is gone, add sage leaves and briefly saute, turning once, until they start to crisp. Turn off heat, remove sage leaves to paper towels to drain.

Serve the soup in warm bowls, adding a dollop of creme fraiche in the center of each bowl, drizzling with browned butter and sprinkling with sage leaves.

Death Trumpet Pizza with Black Truffles


Black Trumpet mushrooms (craterellus cornucopioidesare) also called “trompette de la mort” and they’re a late Fall and early Winter staple here in the Pacific Northwest. Often called the poor man’s truffle, they are among the most delicious of the wild mushrooms, but I find that their flavor is greatly enhanced by combining them with actual fresh Black Truffles.

I buy both from Jeremy Faber at Foraged and Found at the University District or Ballard Farmers’ Markets. Jeremy is the subject of a large part of Langdon Cook’s new book, The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America.

I saw death trumpets at Poulsbo’s Central Market last week, but they were pretty pricey at $30 a pound.

For last night’s pizza I used a quarter pound of death trumpets and  a half ounce of truffle, sliced paper-thin on my Italian truffle slicer, shown below. That’s a lot of flavor for less than $10.


Local Cranberries!


Hollie and I went into the Ballard Farmers’ Market (http://ballardfarmersmarket.wordpress.com/) yesterday and she got this great shot of a tub of cranberries from Bloom Creek Farm in Olympia. I usually go in to Seattle on Sundays to get some of the things I can’t get here on Bainbridge Island like these cranberries and the wild mushrooms for tonight’s pizza and my Black Truffle Death Trumpet Chestnut Stuffing for the turkey.

A visit to the Ballard Market starts for us at Fresh Flours (http://www.freshfloursseattle.com/) for one of their fabulous Almond Croissants and some Stumptown Roasters coffee. We only get one croissant so we can end up at our favorite Mexican breakfast joint, the whimsical Senor Moose (http://senormoose.com/) for some Huevos Divorciados, two eggs on two corn tortillas, one with red salsa, one with green, “divorced” by black beans and topped with avocado and crema.

Here are some other shots Hollie took yesterday:








Big John’s Pacific Food Importers


Okay, it’s not on Bainbridge Island, but it’s less than 10 miles away (as the seagull flies) in Seattle. Big John’s is my go-to place for pantry essentials like canned tomatoes, olive oil  and cheese at great prices.


Rather than buy the “big” (28 ounce) cans of San Marzano tomatoes for $5-$6 at the supermarket, I get the really big 108 ounce cans at Big John’s for $13.25. I usually get a case of 6 cans and get an additional 10% off. Strianese has been my favorite for many years.

Now, this is a warehouse, so don’t expect much in the way of amenities. And, it’s almost impossible to find, at least the first few times you try. Even your GPS will direct you to streets that no longer exist, so first go to their website (http://www.bigjohnspfi.com/) for maps and directions.

Hint: it’s all the way in the bottom right of this building.