Friday Favorites

Well, we made it through another week (albeit barely, at least in my case). Could summer hurry up and get here already? Per my weather app, it should be here this weekend – which is a good thing as I’m in dire need of some Vitamin D! Way too many treats this week (last weekend) – I’ll have to get more creative next week as I’m officially off of sugar!

Star-spangled strawberry and blueberry shortcake for a Memorial Day BBQ! I used Smitten Kitchen’s super easy biscuit recipe, and just cut out shapes with a star shaped (Christmas, don’t tell!) cookie cutter.

DIY mimosa bar while you wait for breakfast at Lovejoy Bakers (thanks Heather and Eleanor for a fun Sunday morning!).

I’m obsessed with this bookshelf at my friends Ryan and Amanda’s house (the host and hostess of the Memorial Day BBQ I attended on Sunday night). Fabulous house, fabulous friends, and I love all of Amanda’s decorating ideas – she’s the closest thing I know to a real life Martha Stewart!

Take out dessert from Irving Street Kitchen – why don’t more restaurants do this? I hardly ever order dessert (ignore below), but when they have a whole “to-go” section on the dessert menu, it’s hard to pass up. Plus how cute is pudding in a mason jar?

I’m taking a trial separation from refined carbs, so this dessert (or at least half of it) was my last hurrah. Chocolate chip cookie with pistachio gelato from Ballard Pizza Company – in its own cast iron pan – thank you Ethan Stowell!

Happy Friday, everyone!! And happy (almost) June! XOXO

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Roasted Halibut with Onions and Honey Balsamic

Bulk herbs, my new favorite thing!

Bulk herbs, my new favorite thing!

In the summer of 2004, while living in Florence, Italy, I had one of the most amazing meals of my life at a tiny little restaurant on the Arno river, overlooking the Ponte Vecchio. I’m not a tuna lover, so I may have only ordered what I ordered due to a translation mistake (como se dice “tuna” in Italian?!?) but I had a tuna steak baked with onions and balsamic vinegar and it was literally the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth meal I’ve ever had. I’m not the kind of person who remembers what I ate for dinner last night, much less nine years ago, but this was just that good. (On a related note, the realization that that was nine years ago makes me want to sob – and to book a flight back to Italy the minute I finish this post). I didn’t realize it when I set out to make this recipe, but the fish-onion-balsamic combo reminds me of that meal.

I read recently that a food blog should never post more then three recipes from one cookbook, since any more than that and you’re basically just giving away all of the cookbook’s material for free. That’s probably a good rule of thumb, but I’m openly defying it here since I just can’t help but post about one Melissa Clark recipe a month. This halibut is simple and delicious (albeit not cheap!), and I love the fact that you can do it on the stove. Apparently May is the season for spring onions, although I couldn’t find them and had to improvise.

Spring onions look like a larger, thicker green onion, or a smaller, skinnier leek with a slightly larger bulb. I found them a couple times last summer (although I always had to ask the produce guy at the market, they were never out) but of course couldn’t find them when I went to make this recipe, so I used a combination of green onions and leeks. I wish I had seen Melissa’s note (below), because although mine turned out fine, I think it would have been even better with red onions or Walla Wallas (and more reminiscent of my Italian meal as well). The onions get pretty caramelized so even if you aren’t an onion lover (I’m not), they turn out pretty delicious. The honey-balsamic sauce is to die for, although the next time I make this I might dial back the honey a bit since I find balsamic pretty sweet to begin with.

Buon Appetito!

Pan-Roasted Pacific Halibut with Spring Onions and Honey Balsamic, from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Serves 4

4 Pacific halibut filets (about 8 ounces each), rinsed and patted dry
Freshly ground black pepper
3 bunches spring onions
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 thyme sprigs, plus leaves for garnish
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, more for serving
2 teaspoons honey
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish

1.  Season the fish with black pepper. Trim the spring onions, including the hairy bottoms, but leave the root end intact; remove the outer layer. Cut the onions into quarters.

2.  In a very large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until almost tender, about 3 minutes.

3.  Uncover the pan, carefully turn the onions, and continue to cook until they caramelize, about 3 minutes more. Add 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and the honey to the pan, let cook for 20 seconds, then immediately transfer the onions to a bowl.

4.  Heat the remaining oil in the pan until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the fish, skin-side down, and cook until just opaque, about 4 minutes a side. Add the remaining balsamic vinegar and remove from the heat.

5.  Transfer the fish to four serving plates and top each filet with some onion mixture. Drizzle with additional vinegar if desired and sprinkle with salt. Garnish with thyme leaves and chives.

Melissa’s notes, which I wish I had followed: if you can’t find spring onions (or miss the season, which is short and almost over), use the mildest, sweetest onions you can find, such as Vidalia, Walla Walla, or red onions.  You can also use any other fish in place of the halibut, or use the onions on top of any other protein.

Friday Faves

Happy Friday, y’all! (Sorry, I’m watching last night’s Nashville finale as I type this). This week was pretty blah, due in large part to this nasty weather we’ve been having, along with all my shows ending.  But in an effort to get back into my blogging routine, I tried to scrounge up a few highlights:

Even though it was falling out by the end of the night, I’m still pretty proud of the self-styled bun I wore to my very dear friend Alison’s engagement soiree last weekend. Sadly this “selfie” is my only pic from the night – I left my phone in my clutch for the entire party, which is tragic because her mom and sis are my entertaining gurus and there were so many B&B-worthy photo ops that I missed! Luckily we’re only four months into what’s looking like a sixteen month engagement, so hopefully there will be plenty more opportunities.

I got take-out Thai for my grandparents the other day and these giant animal cookies were on display at the restaurant – it took a pretty huge amount of willpower not to buy one (or all four).   I’m not usually all that nostalgic, but frosted animal cookies remind me of my childhood (remember these?) – and these appear to be an even-more-delicious version.  I’m not sure the photo does them justice, but for purposes of scale please note they’re displayed on a very large cake platter.  YUM.

I had the good fortune to score a last-minute invite to a Husky event down in Portland on Tuesday night (thanks Krista!). There are few things I love more than a room full of purple and gold, with an open bar no less. I made some new Husky friends, listened as the coaches got us all pumped up for the coming season (100 days!!!), and even took a picture with Sark (which would have been cuter had we both not been looking at separate camera phones).  Can’t wait for August 31st!

I realize I might find this more exciting than the average person, but bulk herbs? OMG. I’m obsessed with the bulk foods aisle at my Met Market in Seattle, but New Seasons down in Portland really has some things figured out.  I cannot tell you how many half-used little bundles of herbs are sitting in my freezer right now, never to be used again (but I couldn’t bear to throw them away).  I needed six sprigs of thyme for a halibut recipe the other day, and what do you know – I only needed to buy six sprigs.  Also I think they cost like 25 cents.  It’s the little things, you know?

Maybe one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken – my adorable cousin/nephew (what does one call their cousin’s kids?) Oliver, and my grandpa waiting for breakfast the other morning.  Could they be any cuter?

So, that’s the best I could do – thanks to everyone who has been bugging me to get back into blogging.  It’s sad how easy it is to get out of a habit (the blog, the gym, drinking water, etc – ughhhhhhh good habits are so hard!!) but hopefully I’m now back on track.  I still have at least three more posts I need to get out – including halibut with six thyme sprigs:) And then we’ll be into June and hopefully I can stop complaining about the weather!  I hope everyone has a fabulous Memorial Day weekend planned – fingers crossed for sun!!

Beach Weekend

One dreary weekend a little over a month ago, before I fell off the blogging wagon, I jetted off to the Oregon Coast for a spur of the moment getaway with two girlfriends. We had all had long weeks, the Seattle forecast looked pretty gross, and my family’s cabin in Seaside wasn’t being used – so it seemed like the perfect excuse to hop in the car and get out of town for a couple days. We pretty much ate and drank our way up and down Highway 101, and hardly changed out of our sweats the whole time – so pretty much the best kind of weekend there is.

Dinner at the Fort George Brewery in Astoria on our way into town on Friday night

Dinner at the Fort George Brewery in Astoria on our way into town on Friday night

Nothing cozier than a real-wood fire when it's stormy at the beach

Nothing cozier than a real-wood fire when it’s stormy at the beach

Coffee and breakfast treats each morning in Gearhart

Coffee and breakfast treats each morning in Gearhart

Clockwise from left: cinnamon roll - ham and cheese croissant - almond croissant

Clockwise from left: cinnamon roll – ham and cheese croissant – almond croissant

Marionberry scone - my very favorite bakery treat of all time

Marionberry scone – my very favorite bakery treat of all time

Gearhart is a couple miles north of our house in Seaside, and home to one of the best restaurants/bakeries I’ve ever been to. No matter how good I’ve been doing at eating healthy/low sugar/etc, I can never resist their marionberry scones. I had spinach smoothies for breakfast all week in order to prepare myself for this, and it was worth every bite. It’s been my goal to try to recreate them, although even if I had the recipe I’m sure they wouldn’t be as good. Regardless, I dug up the nerve to ask for the recipe this trip, but alas the owners weren’t there and the girl behind the counter wasn’t going to give it to me without their permission. So in the meantime, I think I found something close (recipe below).

Can't wait to wear these to some Husky games this fall!

Can’t wait to wear these to some Husky games this fall!

Our plans for a long beach run were derailed due to the rain, so after breakfast we decided to head into Cannon Beach and do a little shopping. But first we stopped at the Nike outlet in Seaside, where we all scored some new shoes, matching golf shirts for a tournament we plan to “play” in (or at least win “Best Dressed” in) this summer, and of course numerous other things we didn’t really need.

Gorgeous displays at Sesame and Lillies in Cannon Beach

Gorgeous displays at Sesame and Lillies in Cannon Beach

Once in Cannon Beach, we went to the brewery for lunch (more beer! more pub food!), and then wandered around my favorite home goods store, Sesame and Lillies, for what felt like hours. I really need a mansion right on the ocean so that I can furnish the entire thing from this store. After a couple hours of fantasizing about our future homes, we were ready for wine tasting, and then home.

Pinot Flight at Yummy Wine Bar

Pinot Flight at Yummy Wine Bar

Gorgeous cheese plate to go with our wine

Gorgeous cheese plate to go with our wine

The saddest part of a beach weekend is Sunday morning, when you have to pack up and go home. After a quick run to Gearhart for coffee and more scones, we took one last beach walk and then packed up the car. While it’s always hard to leave, I feel so lucky to have a cozy escape just a (relatively) short drive away, and dear friends that love it as much as I do.

A few more for the road

A few more for the road

Sunday morning beach walk

Sunday morning beach walk

Stop at Clark's on the 101 on our drive home on Sunday - the fresh banana milkshake on the left is mine

Stop at Clark’s on the 101 on our drive home on Sunday – the fresh banana milkshake on the left is mine

Marionberry Scones (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) frozen marionberries (or fresh if you can find them, although I tried it with both and like the way the frozen turned out better)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (I used demerara sugar for sprinkling)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt

First recipe I tried and it's almost perfect

First recipe I tried and it’s almost perfect

Grated butter - weird/awesome

Grated butter – weird/awesome

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees (I burned my first batch so turned the oven down to 400 for the second batch and had better results). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Freeze and then grate 8 tablespoons (one stick) of the butter on the large holes of a box grater. Keep frozen until needed. Place the berries in the freezer until needed. Whisk the milk and sour cream together in a medium bowl and refrigerate until needed.

3. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, lemon zest, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the frozen, grated butter and toss with your fingers until thoroughly coated. Fold in the chilled milk mixture with a rubber spatula until just coated (do not overmix).

4. Turn out the dough and any floury bits onto a well-floured counter. Lightly flour your hands and the dough and knead the dough gently 6 to 8 times until it just holds together in a ragged ball, adding additional flour as needed to prevent sticking.

5. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch square. Fold the top, bottom, and then sides of the dough over the center to form a 4-inch square. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured plate and chill in the freezer for five minutes (do not overchill).

6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and roll again into a 12-inch square. Sprinkle the berries evenly over the dough and press them lightly into the dough. Loosen the dough from the counter with a bench scraper (or a thin metal spatula), roll it into a tight log, and pinch the seam closed. Lay the dough seam side down and press into a 12 x 14-inch rectangle. using a floured chef’s knife, slice the dough crosswise into four equal rectangles, then slice each rectangle on the diagonal into two triangles. (In an effort to replicate the Pacific Way version, I skipped this step and simply rolled out the dough after step 5, used a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds, and then pressed frozen berries into the individual biscuits).

7. Place the scones on the prepared baking sheet. Melt the remaining two tablespoons butter, then brush the butter over the scones (you could also use cream, or an egg wash) and sprinkle with sugar (regular or demerara). Bake until the scone tops are lightly golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least ten minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To Make Ahead: the cut, unbaked scones can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours; bake as directed. They can also be frozen for up to one month; cover and freeze the scones until frozen solid, about 6 hours, and then transfer to a large zip-lock bag. Bake the frozen scones (do not thaw), reducing the oven temperature to 375 degrees and increasing the baking time to 25-30 minutes.

Just for fun, a pic from three weeks later - 80 degrees in early May!

Just for fun, a pic from three weeks later – 80 degrees in early May!