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Too Many Cooks

Archive for April 2013

Super Senbei Saturday

There's just something about senbei.

Perhaps it is the combination of salty and sweet. Maybe it is the satisfying crunch… I'm not exactly sure what it is, but they are delicious.

This year, the volunteers at the Spokane Buddhist Temple invited me to stop by the kitchen on Super Senbei Saturday. Minister's assistant Jefferson Workman and a the sangha - that's a Sanskrit word for Buddhist community - were working hard to mix, roll, cut, fry and toss the senbei crackers in sauce for the upcoming Haru Matsuri, or Spring Food Festival.

More than 50 temple members gather to make some of the foods for the annual event during Spokane's Japan Week for a few weekends in advance. In addition to senbei, they offer teriyaki chicken dinners with miso soup and rice, various kinds of sushi and some baked goods at the festival. This year it is Sunday, April 21 from noon to 4 p.m. at the temple, 927 S. Perry St.

By noon on Super Senbei Saturday, the crew had already been working for more than four hours. Volunteers at different stations were running the sesame-studded rice flour dough through pasta rollers. Or, they were cutting the long strips of dough into small crackers. Still others were stirring as the crackers fried in a large wok in the kitchen.

Workman was tossing the fried crackers into the air from a stainless steel bowl to ensure that they were well coated with the sweetened soy sauce. The crackers were then dried in the oven before they were bagged for the sale.

By the end of the day, 230 bags of senbei were finished for the sale.

You can take your chances that there will still be some of the crackers left when you swing by on Sunday. (Be warned that there were rumors that some people buy extra bags to store in their freezers. I'm thinking of becoming one of those people). Or,  pre-order crackers (or anything else on the menu) on the temple's website.

When you stop by for the Japanese food, walk through the beautiful temple which will be open for tours.

For those who miss out on the Spokane Buddhist Temple fundraiser, there's another chance for senbei the following Saturday, April 27 at the Highland Park United Methodist Church's 64th Sukiyaki Dinner.

I went to see their senbei making operation last year.

The sukiyaki dinner will be held at 611 S. Garfield St. noon to 7 p.m. Dinner is $12.50 per person, there will also be a bake sale, senbei, a sushi bar and craft sale.

Reach the church at (509) 535-2687 to make a reservation or get more information.

People’s Best Pastry Chef winner

And the winner is… not Lynette Pflueger.

Food & Wine magazine editors announced Tuesday that the winner of the People's Best Pastry Chef Competition is Jodi Elliot of Foreign & Domestic in Austin, Texas. The link for all of the details is here. After 25 years of picking the nation's best new chef, Food & Wine magazine editors asked readers to get into the action and pick the country's best new pastry chef.

Congratulations to Pflueger for her nomination.

What coffee means to Kaiti

A set of photos taken by Revel 77 barista Kaiti Blom has made her a finalist in the Barista Guild of America's contest.

Contest organizers asked baristas to share pictures that show what coffee means to them for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to barista camp. Blom said in an email message that some of her life's pivotal moments have taken place over coffee, including her first date with fiancee Christine.

“To me, coffee is the life blood of the community. Coffee houses provide a place to meet and promote friendships and relationships,” she wrote.

The couple in the top candid photo are Blom's friends Shannon and Vanessa, who were recently engaged. The bottom photos include the hands of her friends and family who came together to help her take the photos.

“I put a call out to my community to gather and be subjects in my photos and almost 20 people showed up with less than an hour's notice. This simple act solidified for me that Coffee = Community,” Blom wrote.

Blom titled the photos Coffee Unites Us.

Revel77 owner Deb Nelson said another employee, Aaron Monheim, also submitted a photo to the competition. However, he has conceded defeat and is now supporting Blom's entry.

To vote for Blom's photo, Facebook users must 'like' the Barista Guild of America's page and then click the 'vote' button with her photo.

Here's the link.

The Barista Guild of America's homepage is here.

Spokane native up for best pastry chef

Lynette Pflueger, a Spokane native and the former pastry chef at Santé Restaurant and Charcuterie, is up for the title of The People's Best New Pastry Chef in a competition sponsored by Food  & Wine magazine.

Pflueger is one of 16 chefs named by Food & Wine magazine among the best new pastry chefs in the West. The magazine picked 50 chefs nationwide. Reader votes will determine who wins the title. The voting closes on April 8.

Pflueger grew up in Spokane and went to North Central High School. She attended the Washington State University hospitality program for three years, spending one abroad in Australia before she decided to go to culinary school. She attended culinary school at the Art Institute of Santa Monica, graduating in 2006.

She worked in Florida and Connecticut before returning to Spokane to work for Santé Restaurant and Charcuterie from July 2009 to February 2011.

“I wanted to gain more experience in fine dining and was seeking out a James Beard award winning chef or a Michelin star chef,” Pflueger wrote in an email message. 

She works for Chef Mavro in Honolulu, which has been honored by James Beard and had Michelin stars in France. Chef Mavro also has five diamonds from AAA and has been honored as one of the top 40 restaurants America by Gayot.

In the competition, Pflueger describes her quintessential dessert as Island Madre chocolate crisped with black walnut, truffle white chocolate, tarragon ganache, pear coulis and Molokai black salt.

Here's the link to vote for Pflueger.

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