In 2014 I didn’t make reservations fast enough for Lake Crescent (nine months in advance wasn’t advance enough – the place is that good) and we ended up at Lake Quinault for our anniversary, instead. It’s still in my favorite national park, it’s still a historic lodge, it’s still on a lake, and it still has amazing food, so no complaints here.
I distinctly remember eating a scramble for breakfast in the lodge one morning that had goat cheese and peppers and smoked salmon. Then again, I also remember it being called the Marymere Something or Other, and Marymere Falls is at Lake Crescent, not Lake Quinault. Furthermore, it’s not on the menu of either lodge, so I either imagined it or they’ve discontinued it.
No matter. Here is my imagined scramble made real. And it’s really good.
(Possibly Imaginary) Lake Quinault (or Maybe Lake Crescent) Lodge Scramble
For breakfast, pair this with some buttered billion grain toast. For lunch, pair it with a simple mixed greens salad with an equally simple vinaigrette. This recipe scales up easily, so keep it in mind for brunch. Some thinly sliced red onion and/or capers would not go amiss.
- 1 tsp butter or olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbs milk or cream
- 1 oz plain goat cheese, crumbled
- 2 tbs jarred roasted red peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 oz hot-smoked salmon or steelhead, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Heat the butter or olive oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. When it is up to temperature crack the eggs right into it and pour in the milk or cream. Season with salt and pepper and mix roughly right in the skillet. (This is very rustic – you’re not making a French omelet, it doesn’t need to be perfectly blended and homogenous.)
- Scramble as usual. When the eggs are just about as done as you like them, add the smoked fish, goat cheese, and peppers.
- Tip onto a plate and eat immediately. That’s it!
An annual tradition on my blog going back (wait, hold on, let me check my old posts, uh …) 7 years: the pumpkin pie post. (Biennial, really, because I trot it out again around Thanksgiving.)
A recipe I infamously bled for (and which set me back $100 at the clinic – a visit that would cost $200 today), this is the perfect pumpkin pie. This is what you hope to taste when someone puts a wedge of pumpkin pie in front of you. (Though, hopefully, without any human blood in it. Knife safety folks!)
Get the recipe (and read the harrowing tale of my nearly-severed thumb) here.
My sour cream corn chowder has leveled up! If you like you can skip the butter in this recipe and use the fat left over from frying a few strips of good bacon — which should then be crumbled and added back in at the very end.
Corn chowder with goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 large stalk celery, diced
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon vegetable base
- 1 lb frozen corn, thawed
- 1 4-oz log of plain goat cheese (chèvre, not feta)
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Saute the onion and celery until softened and the onion is translucent.
- Add 1 cup water and the Better than Bouillon. Stir until dissolved. Add the thyme and corn and season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, then immediately turn to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Stir in goat cheese until fully melted. Using a sieve or large slotted spoon scoop out 1/2 to 2/3 of the solids into a large bowl. Using a stick blender, blend the remaining solids and broth. Return the removed solids and stir to combine.
We went to a BBQ at the home of some friends yesterday evening and I wanted to bring a dessert. (I’m making a reputation for myself with party desserts.) I had a couple of previous winners that I could have made from stuff on hand, but they all needed to bake and uuuuuughhhh it was hot. Too hot to cook. Icebox cake to the rescue!
I typed this recipe on an iron Royal that I haven’t owned since probably 1999, so I know I copied it down in my teens. (Though I couldn’t actually cook until I was in my late 20s, I entertained a fantasy of being a chef and/or restaurateur as a teenager.) The source is a little foggy though. I have a vague notion that it was a cooking show on PBS, because I used to watch hours of cooking shows on PBS as a kid, but it could also have been Martha Stewart Magazine. This is one of those rare instances where Google fails me. I can find similar recipes but none quite like this.
The plate would have come back empty if this stuff weren’t so rich. Everyone wanted seconds but no one had anywhere to put it.
Summer Fruit Tart
Use a regular pie pan, not a deep-dish one.
- 1 pre-made Oreo cookie crust or make your own (see below)
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1-1/2 cups (12 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cups lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Fruit (I like a mix of kiwis and berries but you can use whatever you fancy as long as it isn’t crunchy)
- If you are making the crust yourself, remove the filing from about 20 Oreos and whiz the chocolate part in a food processor. Combine with 6 tablespoons melted butter and press into a pie pan. Using waxed paper will keep your hands clean. This stuff would much rather adhere to your skin than the pan.
- Beat the cream cheese with a mixer and slowly add the condensed milk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Scrape the bowl a few times because the cream cheese really wants to stick to the bowl. I have found that I can’t beat it at high speeds without sending it all over the room but that beating it for a long time at a low or moderate speed not only makes it smooth as silk but I swear it sets up quicker. It starts out very liquid and ends up like a very thick pudding.
- Pour the filling into the shell, level the top with a spatula, and adorn with the fruit. Thinly slice things like kiwi or peaches. Make whatever pattern looks nice to you. I usually do concentric rings because that’s what they did on whatever TV show or magazine I nicked this from, but I have seen cleverer folks than me on the internet making similar tarts and creating psychedelic patterns or simply heaping mixed fruit on top. Whatever you do, don’t skimp!
- BONUS: For extra pizazz, you can dust powered sugar on top or drizzle with a simple sugar-syrup glaze to make the fruit glisten.
- Chill for at least 2 hours.
Once upon a time I wanted some nice tender lamb meatballs for dinner but I couldn’t decide which of the four recipes in my big bad recipe binder to use. So I pulled them all out and listed the ingredients I liked and left out what I didn’t. I doubled up on what I really liked and managed to forget to list an egg while I was at it. I mixed those ingredients up and baked them up and fucking loved them. (Even without the egg.)
TIPS: 1) do not use a mixer or food processor to combine the ingredients. The meatballs will be tough instead of tender. 2) I use a 2 tablespoon disher (like a giant melon baller crossed with an ice cream scoop) to portion out my meatballs so that they are uniform and then roll them between my hands so that they are round.
My favorite lamb meatballs
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons finely diced onion
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchement paper.
- Combine all ingredients by hand. Shape into balls the size of a golf ball. Place 1-2″ apart on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
I like to serve these with The New York Times’ Rice Pilaf with Golden Raisins and a little dish of plain yogurt – or yogurt with a minced clove of garlic mixed in – and a mixed greens salad with a tart vinaigrette.
Over the past few years we have created the tradition of going to Lake Crescent Lodge for our anniversary. I love everything about the place, but one of the highlights is the food. On one of our first trips I had an omelette for breakfast that was stuffed with smoked salmon, sweet peppers, and cream cheese and served with a side of O’Brien potatoes. It was magnificent, and when we came home and found ourselves inundated with home-smoked salmon from friends and coworkers (was it an unusually good year for salmon?) I decided to re-create it to make use of this bounty. And let me tell you, having made this with both home-smoked and store-bought, they are both good, but the home-smoked stuff makes it great. It tends to be flakier, saltier, and smokier, which gives it real punch.
This is an any-meal dish. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner. All of the above. I make it in the oven but you could totally convert this to a stovetop dish if you steamed or boiled the potatoes first.
Here’s how I eat it for dinner: with a little heated cream chese and some fresh chives and a simple salad of spring greens with a dijon vinaigrette.
Here’s how Matt eats it for dinner: with a liberal sprinkling of shredded cheddar and a bowl of cottage cheese. (Hot sauce not shown.)
And here’s how I eat the leftovers for breakfast, reheated in the microwave, with a fried egg and half an avocado and a little too much cream cheese.
Smoked salmon hash
2 large waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Golds
2 sweet bell peppers
1/2 one yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
1/2 lb hot-smoked salmong (not lox)
salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Chop potatoes, peppers, onion, and salmon into 1/2″ pieces. Roughly dice garlic into 1/8-1/4″ bits. Combine all vegetables on a parchment-covered jelly roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Roast for 40 minutes, stirring once. 10 minutes before vegetables are done, add salmon.
- When plating, you may sprinkle the cheese of your preference over the top, which should melt a little by the time you stick a fork in it.
If you are firmly pro-bacon, allow me to refer you to the original version of the recipe. If you or someone you’re cooking for doesn’t eat bacon or is vegetarian or vegan, read on!
Sunday’s lunch: Vegetarian cream of leftover-tomato soup with a salad of spring greens and French vinaigrette and a slice of toasted Dave’s Good Seed bread with Earth Balance spread.
If you’re wondering what I mean by “leftover tomatoes” I mean that when I whack the top and bottom off of a tomato I throw these bits in a gallon zip-top bag in the freezer instead of chucking them in the compost. When the bag is full to bursting I move it to the fridge to thaw overnight and make a big batch of this soup the next day. It also freezes well, but I usually just portion it out over the course of the week and devour it all as lunch.
(Vegetarian) Cream of Leftover-Tomato Soup
half 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped (or one 12 oz jar, drained)
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 lbs (1 full gallon bag) frozen tomato tops, thawed (or two 28 oz cans, or 4 lbs fresh, chopped)
2 tablespoons prepared pesto sauce (or 1 tablespoon dried basil or 1/2 cup diced fresh basil)
1/2 cup light sour cream (or dairy-free sour cream or half a block of silken tofu)
- In a Dutch oven over medium heat, fry the onions and red peppers in olive or canola oil until onions are soft and translucent. Add garlic and sautee one minute more.
Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to a reasonable level (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat. Add pesto and sour cream. Blend with immersion blender until pureed (or just chunky, if that’s your preference).