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Too Many Cooks

Stuffed pumpkins, pumpkin muffins and more

What's coming Wednesday in the Spokesman-Review's Food section?

This year's Halloween-themed issue features stuffed pumpkins, pumpkin muffins and more. Here's a stuffed-pumpkin recipe to get you through the weekend. It includes cheese. And bacon.


Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

From “Around My French Table” by Dorie Greenspan

1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds

Salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ pound stale bread, thinly sliced and cut into ½-inch chunks

¼ pound cheese, such as Gruyère, Emmenthal, cheddar, or a combination, cut into ½-inch chunks

2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped

4 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, drained, and chopped

About ¼ cup snipped fresh chives or sliced scallions

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

About 1/3 cup heavy cream

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Preparing: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment, or find a Dutch oven with a diameter that's just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but it might stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot – which is an appealingly homey way to serve it. If you bake it on a baking sheet, you can present it freestanding, but maneuvering a heavy stuffed pumpkin with a softened shell isn’t so easy. However, since I love the way the unencumbered pumpkin looks in the center of the table, I’ve always taken my chances with the baked-on-a-sheet method, and so far, I’ve been lucky.

Using a very sturdy knife – and caution – cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o-lantern). It’s easiest to work your knife around the top of the pumpkin at a 45-degree angle. You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin. Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet or in the pot.

Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper – you probably have enough salt from the bacon and cheese, but taste to be sure – and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled –you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it. Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little – you don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened. (It’s hard to go wrong here.)

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours – check after 90 minutes – or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife. Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I like to remove the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.

When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully – it's heavy, hot and wobbly – bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you’ll bring to the table.

Serving: You have a choice – you can either spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful, or you can dig into the pumpkin with a big spoon, pull the pumpkin meat into the filling, and then mix everything up. I’m a fan of the pull-and-mix option. Served in hearty portions followed by a salad, the pumpkin is a perfect cold-weather main course; served in generous spoonfuls, it's just right alongside the Thanksgiving turkey.

Storing: It’s really best to eat this as soon as it’s ready. However, if you’ve got leftovers, you can scoop them out of the pumpkin, mix them up, cover, and chill them; reheat them the next day.

Bonne Idée: There are many ways to vary this arts-and-crafts project. Instead of bread, I’ve filled the pumpkin with cooked rice – when it’s baked, it’s almost risotto-like. And, with either bread or rice, on different occasions I’ve added cooked spinach, kale, chard, or peas (the peas came straight from the freezer). I’ve made it without bacon (a wonderful vegetarian dish), and I’ve also made it and loved, loved, loved it with cooked sausage meat; cubes of ham are also a good idea. Nuts are a great addition, as are chunks of apple or pear or pieces of chestnut.

Serves: 2 to 4 as a main dish

Mushroom hunting with Chris Mueller and more

Super-excited about next week's Spokesman-Review Food section, so here’s an early preview of what’s in store:

  • Mushroom mission – “They are sneaky, stealthy little things. I mean, they’re bright yellow. But you’ve really got to look.”

That’s Chris Mueller, owner of Bistro on Spruce in Coeur d’Alene, on chanterelles.

Mueller loves mushrooms.

And he enjoys the thrill of a good mushroom hunt almost as much as the buttery, garlicky, sautéed reward.

Wednesday, Mueller shares his Fall Wild Mushroom Risotto as well as a few other recipes that spotlight golden and glorious chanterelles.


  • Pollo alla Bolognese – Nancy Hawley has been making her version of this classic Italian dish since 1975, when she first served it to members of People Interested in Good Supper, or PIGS.

The informal Spokane supper club doesn’t meet as often as it used to, but all six couples remain friends.

Her quick take on Pollo alla Bolognese has become Hawley’s signature dish, especially when company’s coming for dinner. She shares her recipe in this month’s “In the Kitchen with” feature.

Plus, there’s the regular Fresh Sheet feature and more.

Happy Eating!

Wondering what’s coming Wednesday?

Here’s a look at what’s cooking for this week's Spokesman-Review Food section:

  • Sylvia Fountaine of Feast Catering and the Feasting at Home blog writes this month's Seasonal Kitchen column in praise of potatoes. Get a sneak peek on her blog, where Healthy Luscious Potato Leek Soup is already posted.
  • Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte has some 95,000 followers on Twitter. But the super-popular syrup has no actual pumpkin in it. Making your own at home ­ – with real pumpkin puree – is easy. Look for a recipe adapted from The Messy Baker blog.

Plus, there’s the regular Fresh Sheet feature and more.


Red Robin offers free Tavern Double burger today

It's Tavern Double Tuesday today at Red Robin restaurants in Washington and Oregon.

The deal, in partnership with the Seattle Seahawks, offers fans a free Tavern Double burger and bottomless fries with the purchase of two beverages and a burger, entrée or entrée salad at participating Red Robin restaurants.

The offer comes on the heels of Sunday’s game in which the Seahawks completed a 5-yeard touchdown pass from inside the Red Zone during the second quarter. That move activated the Tavern Double Tuesday.

Through Nov. 2, Red Robin is also offering $25 limited edition Seahawks gift cards, which include $5 bonus bucks that can be redeemed between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28, 2015.

For more information about Red Robin’s partnership with the Seattle Seahawks visit

Tequila train rolls into town tonight

The Patrón Tequila Express will be rolling through Spokane tonight.

The luxury vintage train car left Los Angeles two weeks ago and is scheduled to stopping here on a national tour to promote a new line of Roca Patrón tequilas.

Built in 1927, the historic Car No. 50 of the GM&O Railroad will be the caboose of the Amtrak “Empire Builder” train, slated to arrive in Spokane around 9:45 p.m. at the Amtrak station, 221 W. First Ave.

The opulent, private train car is owned by Forbes-ranked billionaire John Paul Dejoria, founder of Patron Tequila and Paul Mitchell Haircare Systems.

Lovely lentils

The National Lentil Festival in Pullman is right around the corner.

To celebrate, the Spokesman-Review's Food section plans to feature several recipes spotlighting the protein-packed and fiber-full lens-shaped legume. Here are a couple in advance: Ultimate Veggie Burgers from Cook's Country and Arugula, Lentil and Butternut Squash Salad from the new cookbook “A Simple Feast: A Year of Stories and Recipes to Savor and Share” by Diana Yen.

Ultimate Veggie Burgers

From Cook’s Illustrated

This recipe is a bit involved, but it comes highly recommended from a vegetarian friend who makes these patties by the double or triple batch-loads, then freezers them for future use. We're told they freeze well.

Lentils and bulgur give the texture a hardy quality. Cremini mushrooms and cashews add savory flavor. Canned lentils may be used but the result is slightly less flavorful.

¾ cup dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed

2½ teaspoons table salt, divided

¾ cup bulgur

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)

1 rib celery (large), chopped fine (about ½ cup)

1 small leek, white and light green parts only, chopped fine (about ½ cup)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

1 pound cremini mushrooms (or white), cleaned and sliced about ¼-inch thick (about 6½ cups)

1 cup raw unsalted cashews

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Ground black pepper

Bring 3 cups water, lentils and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are just beginning to fall apart, about 25 minutes. Drain in fine-mesh strainer. Line baking sheet with triple layer paper towels and spread drained lentils over. Gently pat lentils dry with additional paper towels; cool lentils to room temperature.

While lentils simmer, bring 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon salt to boil in small saucepan. Stir bulgur wheat into boiling water and cover immediately; let stand off heat until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain in fine-mesh strainer; use rubber spatula to press out excess moisture. Transfer bulgur to medium bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, celery, leek, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Spread vegetable mixture on second baking sheet to cool; set aside. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty skillet; heat over high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Spread mushrooms on baking sheet with vegetable mixture; cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Process cashews in food processor until finely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses (do not wash food processor blade or bowl); stir into bowl with bulgur along with cooled lentils, vegetable-mushroom mixture, and mayonnaise. Transfer half of mixture to now-empty food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, 15 to 20 1-second pulses; mixture should be cohesive but roughly textured. Transfer processed mixture to large bowl; repeat with remaining unprocessed mixture and combine with first batch. Stir in panko, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Line baking sheet with paper towels. Divide mixture into 12 portions, about ½ cup each, shaping each into tightly packed patty, 4 inches in diameter and ½-inch thick; set patties on baking sheet; paper towels will absorb excess moisture.

Patties can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 3 days.

Cook on stovetop with remaining oil, about 4 minutes per side, or on grill, about 5 minutes per side, flipping only once.

Note: If freezing, for each patty to be frozen, add 1 teaspoon panko or ½ teaspoon plain bread crumbs before shaping. Thaw overnight in refrigerator on triple layer of paper towels, covered loosely.

Note: If freezing, for each patty to be frozen, add 1 teaspoon panko or ½ teaspoon plain bread crumbs before shaping. Thaw overnight in refrigerator on triple layer of paper towels, covered loosely.

Yield: 12 (4-inch) patties

Arugula, Lentil and Butternut Squash Salad

From “A Simple Feast: A Year of Stories and Recipes to Savor and Share” by Diana Yen

This salad highlights the flavors of autumn with its delicate, peppery leaves, sweet butternut squash and earthy lentils.

For the salad

1 butternut squash (2 to 2½ pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into ¾-inch cubes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey


1 cup French green lentils (also known as Puy lentils)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces arugula (about 8 cups loosely packed)

For the dressing

2 garlic cloves, peeled

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons finely minced shallots

1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard

1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, toss the butternut squash with the olive oil and honey and season generously with salt. Spread the squash in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast until beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the squash and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, place the lentils in a medium saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Do not salt the cooking water to ensure the lentils will stay firm to the bite. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside. In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes, then return the lentils to the pan, add the cumin, and season with salt and pepper.

To make the dressing, smash the garlic to a paste on a cutting board using the side of a chef’s knife. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, shallots, garlic, mustard and vinegar. Add the olive oil in a slow drizzle as you continue to whisk until the dressing has emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the arugula with the dressing and top with the lentils and roasted squash. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Modena Asparagus

Sunday's Spokesman-Review Travel story  was all about eating your way through Italy. Executive Chef Timothy Grayson, who's based at Spokane's Whitworth University, described meals he enjoyed in various regions - from Milan and Cinque Terre in the north to the capital of Rome and Venice on the Adriatic Sea. There wasn't room for all of the recipes Grayson provided. Here's one more:


Modena Asparagus

From Zach Mowbry, cook at Whitworth University Dining Services

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red bell pepper diced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 pound fresh asparagus

Grated Romano cheese (optional)

In a medium glass bowl, whisk together Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, sugar and half of olive oil. Set aside.

Add half of the olive oil to skillet over medium-high heat and sauté bell pepper with garlic. Add asparagus to skillet and sauté for 1 minute then add vinegar mixture and cook for about 4 additional minutes.

Remove, top with grated Romano cheese, and serve.

Serves: 4

Milanese Winter Squash Soup

This recipe comes from the latest cookbook from a friend of Timothy Grayson, who wrote Sunday's Travel story about regional Italian cuisine.

Milanese Winter Squash Soup

From “The Italian Vegetable Cookbook” by Michele Scicolone, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014

1¼ pounds butternut or other winter squash, halved lengthwise, seeded, peeled and chopped (about 5 cups)

2 cups water

2 cups milk


1 cup tubetti or ditalini pasta

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup grated Grana Padana or Parmigiano Reggiano

In a large saucepan, combine the squash and water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the squash is very tender. Let cool slightly.

Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor in batches and puree until smooth.  Return the soup to the saucepan. Whisk in the milk and salt to taste and ring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often so that the pasta does not stick until tender yet firm to the bite, about 10 minutes.  Add more water if the soup is too thick.

Stir in the butter and 1/2 cup of the cheese.  Taste for seasoning.  Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

Serves: 4

Roman Marinated Grilled Mackerel and Roasted Tomato Sauce with Whipped Burrata Cheese

This dish was inspired by executive chef Timothy Grayson's recent visit to Italy, including Rome. See the full story about his travels in Sunday's Spokesman-Review.


Roman Marinated Grilled Mackerel and Roasted Tomato Sauce with Whipped Burrata Cheese

From Timothy Grayson, the district executive chef for Sodexo Dining Services at Whitworth University

Fish Preparation

1 cup sherry wine

½ cup sherry wine vinegar

2 onions, medium diced

1 carrot, diced

2 shallots, minced

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

4 springs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

3 black peppercorns

1 ½ pounds of mackerel filets, de-boned and cleaned (or salmon or trout)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cook the white wine, sherry vinegar, onions, carrot, shallots, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper in saucepan over medium heat for 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Pour over the fish filets with olive oil and allow to marinate for at least for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Remove from marinade and grill on preheated hot grill until fully cooked, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.

Sauce and Cheese Preparation

1 pound Roma tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 large shallots

2 large cloves garlic

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups rich chicken broth

½ cup sherry wine

2 large basil leaves

1 cup heavy whipping cream

6 ounces of Burrata cheese (or fresh mozzarella)

Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish (optional)

Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and seed them. Place halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 275-degree oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Finely mince shallots and garlic. In a 4-quart soup pot, melt butter, then add garlic and shallots and sauté until translucent. Stir in flour, and sauté for another 1 minute.

Add broth, roasted tomatoes and white wine to the pot, bring up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes.

Let the sauce cool, then, in batches, purée sauce with basil in a blender until smooth.

Roughly strain sauce into a clean pot, leaving some bits of tomato. Whip burrata and form into a quenelle, or oval, shape.

To assemble: Cross two fish filets in bottom of soup bowl and spoon sauce over the top. Garnish with quenelle of cheese off center, and serve. Ring with extra-virgin olive oil for garnish.

Serves: 6

Toscano Fresco Fruit Hazelnut Cream Salad

This creamy summertime dessert, inspired by executive chef Timothy Grayson's recent trip to Tuscany, spotlights mixed berries and toasted hazelnuts.

Toscano Fresco Fruit Hazelnut Cream Salad

From Timothy Grayson, the district executive chef for Sodexo Dining Services at Whitworth University

¾ cup mascarpone cheese

1 cup whipping cream

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

12 ounces strawberries, chilled

6 ounces of marion berries or blackberries, chilled

1 ounce maraschino cherries without stems

3 ounces hazelnut liquor

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons sliced toasted hazelnuts

Fresh mint leaves (optional)

In a medium mixing bowl, whip cheese, cream and powdered sugar until smooth and well blended. Set aside.

Place fruit in a chilled bowl with cherries, lemon juice, granulated sugar and liquor. Slowly add cream mixture, gently mixing with a rubber spatula.

To serve, top with toasted hazelnuts and garnish with fresh mint.

Serves: 6

Northern Italian Lasagna

Timothy Grayson, an executive chef at Whitworth University, spent several weeks this summer eating his way through Italy. Here's a recipe for lasagna inspired by his travels through the country's northern regions.

Northern Italian Lasagna

From Timothy Grayson, the district executive chef for Sodexo Dining Services at Whitworth University

For the filling

1 tablespoon butter

1 large carrot, medium diced

1 medium onion, medium diced

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

½ pound ground beef

½ pound ground pork

2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

1 teaspooon ground dried thyme

1 cup red wine

1 teaspoon white sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

16 ounces of diced canned tomatoes

6 ounces of lasagna noodles


For the white sauce

¼ cup butter

¼ cup of flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1½ cup of half and half

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese


For the topping

3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

4 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese


For the filling: In a Dutch oven or covered skillet over medium heat, add butter and sauté carrots, onion and garlic. Then add beef and pork, and brown. When cooked, carefully drain fat. Then add basil and thyme, red wine, sugar, salt, parsley, pepper and tomatoes. Simmer, covered, for about 1 hour. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling salted water, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water.


For the white sauce: melt butter in a large saucepan; stir in the flour, salt and pepper and Italian seasoning until blended. Gradually add half and half. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.


Assemble: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour half of the meat sauce into an ungreased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer with half of the lasagna noodles and top with remaining meat sauce. Layer sliced mozzarella cheese, then top with remaining noodles. Pour white sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Serves: 6 to 8

Easy Oven-Baked Boneless Veal or Chicken Milanese

Timothy Grayson, an executive chef at Whitworth University in Spokane, traveled to Italy earlier this summer to sample regional cuisine. Here's a recipe inspired by his recent journey, which included a stop in Milan.


Easy Oven-Baked Boneless Veal or Chicken Milanese

From Timothy Grayson Timothy of Sodexo Dining Services

For the cutlets

1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

4 veal cutlets (or chicken breasts)

3 eggs beaten

2 cups of whole milk

Oil, for baking sheet

For the sauce

1 tablespoon butter

4 slices of fresh lemon

1 tablespoon capers

½ cup white wine

Make the cutlets: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and cheese. Transfer mixture to a flat work surface. In a medium mixing bowl, combine egg and milk. Dredge each cutlet in egg wash, then coat with breadcrumb mixture. Place on oiled baking sheet. Bake in oven until golden brown, about 30 minutes

Make the sauce: sauce melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat then add lemons, capers and wine. Reduce heat to low for about 3 minutes, then pour over cutlets just before serving. Use cooked lemon slices as garnish.

Serves: 4

Coconut milk ice cream offers alternative to frozen dairy dessert

Coconut milk makes a silky smooth ice cream base. And using maple syrup, sugar or agave instead of honey makes these recipes vegan.

Coconut Honey Lime

Lime juice and zest provide a tangy zing to this super-simple and refreshing three-ingredient recipe.

2 (13.66-ounce) cans coconut milk

½ cup honey

Zest and juice from 2 limes

In a medium saucepan, mix coconut milk and honey, whisking over medium-low heat until honey is melted and mixture is well combined. Transfer mixture into a bowl and place in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled. Stir in lime zest and juice. Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Notes: Mix in ½ cup shredded coconut or shredded toasted coconut for added taste and texture. For a bit of a bite, add 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger. Or, for an adult version, include 1 tablespoon coconut, white or spiced rum.

Coconut Cardamom with Honey Cinnamon Swirl


Ribbons of cinnamon-honey add sweetness to this delicately spiced dessert.

2 (13.66-ounce) cans coconut milk (full fat)

3 tablespoons date sugar

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pecans for garnish (optional)

In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, combine coconut milk, date sugar, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom. Whisk continuously over low heat until thoroughly combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl and place in refrigerator for at least two hours or until very cold. Stir mixture, then transfer to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup honey and cinnamon.

Scoop a quarter of the ice cream into a freezer-safe container, drizzle cinnamon-honey mixture over top, then cover with more ice cream and repeat until all ice cream is in container and all of the cinnamon-honey mixture is used. Cover ice cream with wax paper, making sure it is touching the ice-cream, and place in freezer to set.




Potato Salad Plants a Seed

Kickstarter’s Potato Salad challenge – which raised more than $40,000 in its first week, far-exceeding its $10 goal and attracting national media attention – seems to have spurred a couple of Spokane projects.

Backers can now help a Spokane 20-something grow tomatoes. They can also pay for ingredients for a yearlong cooking project reminiscent of “Julie and Julia.”

The latter project – “My Joy of Cooking Challenge” – comes from Greg Kauwe, 31, the subject of the May “In the Kitchen with … ” feature in the Spokesman-Review Food section. The project was mentioned in the story, but that was before the Kickstarter campaign.

Kauwe is on a mission to complete one recipe per week for a year from the 1946 edition of “Joy of Cooking.” He posted the Kickstarter project on week 12, hoping to raise $500. Donations would help him take on the more “daring/costly” recipes. He writes about each one on his blog.

Rewards include being thanked on Twitter or mentioned in a wrap-up blog post when the project’s complete, selecting a recipe for Kauwe to cook, and receiving a video of him making the dish you picked for him to prepare.

The “I’m Growing Tomatoes” project was posted by Jonas Burke, who describes himself as “just a poor, currently unemployed 20-something struggling as we all do.” On his page, he says he’s ready to go with garden supplies, tomato seeds, a green thumb and sense of humor. He lists risks and challenges as “aphids and other garden pests.” He’s hoping to raise $50 by Aug. 6.

Rewards include being thanked on social media as well as while he’s watering the plants, an e-card noting the progress of the plants and  having a plant named in your honor as well as receiving updates and postcards. Bigger spenders can name a plant, decide what he does with the tomatoes and receive a video or live-stream as proof, and receive seeds from the plants. For $50, he will send you one of the plants, with a “full back story and a letter of thanks.”

Burke acknowledges the frivolity of his plan.

But, he writes, “It'd mean a lot if you could donate to my silly fund.”


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.


Gourmet glamping comes to Spokane

Road-trippers can glamp their way from Spokane to Alaska with a new outfitter named Northern Adventure Tours.

Packages include gourmet meals prepared by a private chef, luxury canvas tents with queen-sized beds and private rental vehicles, which allow glampers to check out roadside attractions at their own pace.

Find the full story - plus a few recipes - in Wednesday's Food section. Meantime, here's one of Alaska chef Joe Hardenbrook's recipes - with instructions for home or camp as well as on the road or trail.

Yukon Quest Fruit & Veggie Smoothies

From Joe Hardenbrook of Northern Adventure Tours

Packed with vitamins and minerals, this smoothie makes for a breakfast or snack. The sweetness of the fruit contrasts with the celery’s salty tang. Spinach adds texture and boosts nutrition.

1 banana, sliced

1 apple, chopped

1 cup frozen Alaskan blueberries

1 cup frozen mango

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup spinach leaves

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup orange juice concentrate


Combine all ingredients in blender or pitcher (if using immersion blender). Add water to just below top level of fruit and veggies. Blend until desired consistency is achieved. Pour into glasses and enjoy.

On the Road: Joe Hardenbrook and his wife prepare food for mushers competing in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest, Alaska’s two 1,000-mile sled dog races. On the trail, mushers need a lot of fat and carbs to keep their energy up, and these smoothies have proven to be a favorite.

Process all ingredients together and pour into silicone mini-loaf pans. Freeze, then push frozen blocks of smoothie mixture out of the pans and vacuum seal. On the trail, mushers will put the vacuum-sealed bag in their parka pocket to thaw, then snip off the corner of the bag and enjoy.

Yield: 2 large smoothies or 6 trail servings


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About this blog

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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Read all the posts from recent conversations on Too Many Cooks.


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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