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Too Many Cooks

Archive for June 2014

For the love of Fery’s chicken spinach pasta salad

After reading “In the Kitchen with Fery Haghighi” in Wednesday’s Food section, Nikki Lockwood wrote in with her own memories of Au Croissant and Fery’s Catering.

A registered dietitian turned stay-at-home mom, Lockwood, 46, lives in Spokane’s Manito neighborhood. Here’s her story:

When I was a teenager, I worked at the U-City mall, back in the 1980's when it was full of stores and people, and definitely a hangout for all us “valley girls” and boys. My first real job was at the Great American Cookie Company, which I loved. Forming cookies from the dough (premade from scratch by the manager), baking, selling the big cookies and the teeny tiny ones by weight, and cleaning up the store at the end of the day, I loved it. 

Au Croissant had a shop near the Cookie Co. and I would occasionally splurge and have lunch there. I could eat all the cookies I wanted for free, but “real food” sounded good sometimes. This was before debit cards and I was a teen and so it just depended on if I had enough cash with me. The first time I went in there, I was amazed at the choices and all the good-looking food. I opted for a pasta salad and was hooked! They had a chicken spinach pasta salad, and it was so good. It had a tangy, peppery taste, and I had never tasted anything like it. My experience, coming from a working class family with both parents working, was just the macaroni salad that mom made, you know, mayo, tuna, little elbow macaroni and other stuff. So the spinach chicken pasta salad was a revelation and one of those foods that opened me up to the wider world of food. It was the early 80's in Spokane, not sure when “pasta salad” became popular but it definitely came onto my radar after that. Anyway, it was expensive to me, to spend $5 for a little bowl of it, but I would sit and eat it very mindfully, not even trying to distinguish the ingredients, that didn't occur to the 16-year-old me.

Eventually the Au Croissant shops closed and I would from time to time remember that first pasta salad love of my life. Skip forward many years to when my daughter was 5, about 20 years later, and we are at an outdoor potluck to celebrate the kids’ “graduation” from their preschool/kindergarten school. I have my plate of food and dig into some nice looking pasta salad, still standing around the table with all the food, and stop chewing and ask, “Who brought this pasta salad?” The dad who brought it pipes up and I ask him if he made it and he said that he did. I then share with him my pasta salad teen love affair with the old Au Croissant pasta salad. He comes clean and tells me it's from Fery's Catering, the same people that owned Au Croissant and it's been available this whole time.  

The thing is, he got it. He understood my love. He told me he has friends who are always trying to figure out the ingredients and re-create it. We shared a moment of food-love and because of that moment, I now know the salad is still available. From time to time, I stop by Fery's and get a little bowl of it. I can afford it more easily now, financially, but metabolisms change and a little bowl is probably enough anyway. Sometimes, I have to wait for it to be made, and patiently wait I do. What's 10 minutes after 20 years? Sometimes, I think I should ask for a job, so I can learn the secret of making it.

Meet a Deer Park dairy farmer

June is National Dairy Month.

To help celebrate, Yoke’s Fresh Market at Argonne Village in Spokane Valley is offering shoppers the chance to meet Deer Park dairy farmer Stephanie Littrel.

Littrel will explain where dairy products come during the meet-and-greet, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at store, 9329 E. Montgomery Ave.

Littrel is a third-generation dairy farmer who took over the 600-acre family dairy farm from her grandfather. He started dairy farming in 1953.

Today, Littrel – along with her husband Scot and son Derek –  mange the care, feeding and milking of some 200 Holstein and Brown Swiss dairy cows.

Her Yoke’s visit is part of Meet Your Local Dairy, a project of the Dairy Farmers of Washington. 

Inland Northwest Dairy Ambassador Ashley Rochlitzer is also slated to attend the event and hand out free containers of chocolate milk. 

For more information, visit

Casper Fry plans special five-course $50 dinner for Tuesday

What are you doing for dinner Tuesday night?

Casper Fry in Spokane’s South Perry neighborhood is planning a special, five-course dinner for $50. Reservations are recommended.

Tony Brown of Stella's Cafe will be cooking with Chef Josh Grimes of Casper Fry.

Here’s what’s on their menu:

Course one – Spring Onion Pekoras with Green Harissa, Fava Bean Puree, Sesame and Mint.

Course two – Potato Polenta with Charred Leeks, Pickled Golden Raisins and Watercress.

Course three – Butter Lettuces with Josper Grilled Plums, Honey, Sheep's Milk Cheese, Cornbread Crouton and Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette.

Course four – Rhubarb Barbecued Tofu with Sweet Potato Gratinee, Fermented Spinach, Oven Dried Tomato and Creme Fraiche.

Course five – Lemon Shortcake with Red Wine Poached Blueberries, Dark Chocolate and Chantilly Cream.

For more information, visit Casper Fry’s Facebook page at

Casper Fry is located at 928 S. Perry St. On the Web:


To make a reservation for the June 10 event, call (509) 535-0536.

Crustless quiche offers low-fat springtime meal option

A Spokesman-Review reader from Pablo, Montana, recently wrote to Too Many Cooks trying to locate a favorite asparagus quiche recipe from the mid 1990s.

After consulting newspaper clippings, microfiche, the internal online archives, even Google, we think we have found what she was missing.

The Associated Press story from spring 1996 features a low-fat, crustless quiche made with asparagus, scallops, cheese and scallions.

For best results, the story recommends, buy purple-tinged, tight-budded spears, peel the stalks and cook the same day the vegetable is purchased. Avoid any stalk with a large woody white base.

When preparing asparagus, the story also recommends, peel the stalk using a small, sharp paring knife to cut under the thicker skin at the base of the stalk. Work toward the tip, making the cut shallower as you progress upward.

Serve the quiche alongside a green salad for brunch or supper - or any springtime meal.

Here’s the AP recipe from March/April 1996:

Crustless Aspargus Quiche

1/2 pound asparagus

1 cup canned miniature corn, drained

1/4 cup instant potato flakes

1 cup chopped green onions or scallions (6 to 8)

1/2 pound scallops (in 1/2-inch slices if using larger sea scallops)

1/2 pound (2 cups) Jarlsberg light cheese, shredded

6 large egg whites

1 cup evaporated skim milk

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Snap tips off asparagus; cut off and discard any woody ends. Chop spears in 1/2-inch slices and plunge, with tops, into boiling water for 3 minutes; drain. Oil spray a 9-inch glass pie plate. Line with half the asparagus and half the corn. Cover with potato flakes, then with onion. Arrange scallops on top, about an inch from the rim. Sprinkle on half the cheese. Whisk egg whites. Whisk in milk, soy sauce and pepper. Pour half the egg mixture into pie. Top with remaining asparagus, corn and cheese. Pat down. Pour on remaining egg mixture. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Serve with a green salad.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Nutrition facts per serving: 205 calories, 134 mg calcium, 22 g protein, 5 g fat, 440 mg sodium.


Vegan brownies remind reader of hard time cake

The recipe for vegan brownies which recently appeared on the front page of the Food section reminded a Spokane reader of something her mother-in-law called Hard Time Cake.

According to the reader, who wanted to share the recipe but not her name, Hard Time Cake was created during World War II when eggs, milk, butter and other staples were rationed.

“I've made it numerous times, especially when our kids were young and money was in short supply,” she wrote in an email to Too Many Cooks.

Here’s the recipe:

Hard Time Cake

3 cups water, divided

1 cup oil

1 cup raisins

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa (heaping)

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cups nuts (optional)

Boil 2 cups water, oil and raisins in a saucepan on the stove for 3 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup water, sugar and cocoa. Then add the mixture to the cooled raisin mixture. Sift, then add, the following ingredients to the batter: flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Mix in vanilla, and add nuts, if desired.

Bake the batter in a 9-by-13-inch pan for 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Note: The cake is very moist and requires no frosting. But chocolate frosting pairs well with it as does a generous sprinkling of chocolate chips on top before putting it in the oven.


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We never really believed that old cliché anyway. We're collaborating to share our cooking inspirations, favorite recipes, restaurant finds and other musings from the local food world and beyond.

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Adriana Janovich writes for and edits the Wednesday food section.

Carolyn Lamberson Features Editor for The Spokesman-Review. She's a foodie who has no time to cook. Still, a girl can dream ...

Ruth Reynolds is a copy editor at the SR. "I would bake and cook more than I do if I didn't have to keep cleaning off my kitchen counters. My favorite kitchen appliance is my rice cooker. No. My immersion blender."

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