Happy New Year!

I’ve sat down to write at least three times in the past two weeks and something (or someone) has pulled me away, but at long last the radio silence is over!

My big project for 2017 is going to be focusing on charitable giving. Now as you may know, I’m a chef, and I’ll let you in on a little secret, we are not rolling in the dough (that just gets messy). What I can do though is give my time, and cook. Thankfully Chef Traci over at Succulent Catering is into this idea so we’re teaming up on a couple of projects, with more to come. We’ve been donating extra food to the homeless and firefighters for years (not completely connected, but I do want my firefighters well fed).

In our November planning meeting for the next quarter we laid out a short list of causes we feel passionate about and while there was some cross over, we each have a cause that we are focusing on at the moment. Chef Traci’s passion is seniors and we are cooking (see what I did there??) up a plan to offer lunch to the seniors living at Pike Place Market once a month. As for me, I have a big event coming up in a couple of weeks.

On January 26 we will be hosting an Aid for Syria fundraiser and auction at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. I wanted to be able to donate more than just a piddly little $20 to provide some relief to what’s happening in the region so I decided to invite 100 people to join me to donate. I’m so terrified about it. I’ll be honest, there’s a reason I’m a cook. People terrify me, but what’s happening in our world scares me more and I feel compelled to do something.

Other than that I’m updating the Wallingford Culinary Studio calendar this week and planning delicious classes. We have a new private dining room space so we’ll be adding some onsite dinners to our repertoire. AND I just heard there’s a new casual Louisiana style restaurant opening up near our kitchen, so I’m pretty sure that’s on my agenda this month too. I have to do some research for our Mardi Gras Dinner in February!

Farm Lunch

So it happened, and it was good, great even-although it’s taken me a week to get around to posting about it! The photos I have are limited unfortunately, there are more to come, but I was too busy cooking and organizing to take any myself so I’ll post what I have received so far.

The final menu was:

Appetizers (served on slates on the welcome table, which was made from a piece of Garry Oak that my cousin lovingly saved from a downed tree on the property.)

  • Crostini topped with beef liver pate and roasted red pepper–Bread Peddler baguette, Nelson Ranch beef
  • Beef tongue with horseradish creme fraichez–Nelson Ranch beef


  • Summer Squash Salad–Kirsop Farm squash
  • Red and Yellow Beets–Kirsop Farm beets, garlic, and parsley
  • Simple Greens with black walnut mustard vinaigrette–Kirsop Farm salad mix, red onions, and radishes
  • Pain au Levain and Brittany Rye bread with herb compound butter–Bread Peddler


  • Assorted roasts of beef over slow cooked kale and chard with braised sweet onions–Nelson Ranch beef, Kirsop Farm greens and onions
  • Quinoa pilaf–Rocky Prairie Vineyard peppers
  • Roasted carrots–Kirsop farm carrots


  • Apple Galettes–Nelson Ranch apples
  • Plum Flaugnarde–Nelson Ranch green gage plums, Wells Farm yellow gage plums

Each course was paired with a different wine from Stottle Winery. It was truly a community experience as not only did most of the food come from the Nelson Ranch or it’s neighbors, but the servers were also guests. Two people had been identified from each table prior to lunch, and they brought platters for each course and collected used plates and brought out new ones for each course. Several people helped in the kitchen washing dishes or doing other tasks over the two days we had to prepare for the meal, it was so fun to be a part of this team of generous people.

Nelson ranch 037 appetizersplum custard beet salad


Farm Lunch

The day is nearly upon us (or me in this case) for my first large solo event. It’s terrifying and exciting at the same time. I have my menu planned, produce ordered, dishes, flatware, and linens ordered, platters purchased and some of the food is started (brining beef tongue takes a while). The morning will be filled with cooking and organizing while the rest of the family hosts an open house around the farm. Then sending that group off and moving on to lunch.

My nightmares include, not having ordered enough produce, overcooking the roasts, having tough galette crusts, and not having food ready on time. There is also a fear that there won’t be enough food, but that’s pretty minimal because there is so much variety.

The current menu is:


  • Braised Beef Tongue with Horseradish Creme
  • Crostini with beef liver pate


  • Tomatoes and Aioli
  • Simple Greens Dressed with Walnut Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Braised Red and Yellow Beets

Main Course: 

  • Assorted cuts of Roasted Beef on a Bed of Caramelized Onions and Slow Cooked Greens
  • Roasted Carrots
  • Seared Summer Squash


  • Plum Flaugnarde
  • Seasonal Fruit Galette

The salads and desserts are subject to change based on what produce we ultimately get, but it looks like it’s going to stick. 

The goal is to keep the guest list at 60, including assistants (who will be seated during the meal to answer questions about the farm in addition to being responsible for brining out platters), my sous chef, and myself; honestly I doubt I’ll be able to eat anything all day. My kids are in charge of bringing water and whatever else guests need if their table assistant is busy. I hope this is the start of many events to come, the guest list is filling up fast, and we’re nearly ready to get started!

Rose Tasting

I am branching out into more personal catering and pop up events, rather than just sticking with restaurant work and the occasional opportunity to play in my own kitchen (those days are getting fewer and fewer at the moment, which is why I’m enjoying parties).

Last week I hosted a Rosé Tasting at my house, which was immensely fun. I spent a few hours cleaning up the yard and we all gathered on the back deck, the weather was spectacular, and the company was too. The food turned out not too shabby although inflicting my bread experiments on my guests wasn’t a highlight, but sometimes you go with what you have (if you’d like to keep up with the saga peruse the bread posts for updates on my sourdough journey). Something else I’ve been reflecting on is my photography skills (and motivation) are lacking. If I keep doing these parties I’m going to have to hire a helper that can double as a photographer. I tend to snap one or two photos early on, then get distracted by preparations and guests and forget to document things, so here’s my one photo for this event:


The complete menu was:

  • spiced nuts
  • olives
  • salt and pepper lavash crackers
  • herbed cream cheese
  • salmon lox
  • rice and millet salad
  • kale with sweet and sour carrot salad
  • Nelson Ranch beef sliders on rye rolls
  • vanilla pound cake with strawberry rhubarb sauce

Kale, herbs, and rhubarb were from my garden, and beef came from the family ranch.

We tried an assortment of wines, three from France, one from Portugal and Italy respectively, two from California, and three from Washington.  Most were good, a couple were essentially wine coolers, without the bubbles, and one was a pretty interesting variation on the theme.


My personal favorites were from Gecko Cellars (containing cabernet franc, merlot, sangiovese, and a touch of cabernet sauvignon, making for a unique taste. Those grape varieties are sometimes referred to as super tuscan in case you want to do a little more reading about wine). The Domaine Sorin from France was lovely as was the Gazela from Portugal.

All in all the event was a success and I look forward to eating and drinking wine with friends again soon!

Liza’s Birthday Menu

Little Bits

Spiced Mixed Nuts


Spreads & Breads


White Bean

Curried Carrots

Multigrain Sourdough Bread

Rosemary Crackers


Casarecce Salad with Chicken

Fennel Citrus Salad

Roasted Cucumber with Frekkeh


Vegan Moussaka

Turkey Meatballs


Chocolate Indulgence Cake

 Liza's Birthday Table

meatballs and moussaka not pictured, this is a quiet moment before the rush to the table…