WHAT'S COOKING WITH KURT
Turn the calendar to September, glide through Labor Day weekend, send the kids back to school and it’s officially fall for most of us. After our sizzling summer, who’s not ready for cooler temps? Fall is the perfect season to head indoors and savor hearty casseroles and stews, flavorful roasts and vegetables. It’s also the beginning of the serious entertaining season--tailgate parties before Sounders and Hawks games, Halloween fun, and assorted weekend gatherings with family and friends. We’re ready at Pasta & Co with a range of pure flavored dishes you can build a meal around or create a complete menu with. We make it easy, whether your style is impromptu or planned, casual or formal. As we do every season, our Culinary Council tasted, debated and tasted again to bring you a dynamite deli selection featuring great-tasting, hearty dishes from Northern Europe perfect for fall meals. We’ve added delicious new pantry items too, with a selection of pure, all-natural seasonings and condiments to add to your cooking and eating pleasure. Stop by and check out what’s new!
Yours for great taste,
NORTHERN EUROPEAN CULINARY TRADITIONS
The cuisines of Northern Europe’s cold weather countries--France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary and Scandinavia--are ideal for inspiring dishes to warm body and soul when fall arrives.
With four seasons like our Pacific Northwest, these countries share cultures and a food history based on an agricultural heritage, when farmsteads and farming were the primary focus of society outside of port cities. In those seaport towns, commerce has flourished since the 10th century when first, Vikings roamed the seas and then, the powerful Hanseatic League ruled trade and defense routes between Germany, Denmark and Norway. Throughout the 13th century, raw ingredients such as salt, fish and spices, along with commercial goods, were heavily traded and sold.
The result is a local, seasonal cooking style that is ingredient-centric, where the identity and flavors of the foods shine though. Each region/country has its own specialties, of course, from smörgåsbord in Sweden, to gravlaks in Norway, goulash in Hungary and cassoulet in France. Across the board, however, the emphasis is on fresh, natural ingredients. Add the cultural importance of eating with family and friends, another legacy of Northern Europe’s agrarian history, and you have a perfect culinary match for Pasta & Co.
NEW FALL DELI DISHES INSPIRED BY NORTHERN EUROPE
Hearty and wholesome are key words for fall. Days are cooler, shorter and busier, making everyone crave robust flavors, plenty of protein and carbs. Our fall deli selection aims to satisfy on all counts, as well as make it easy to get dinner on the table as family and personal activities rev back into full gear.
For main dishes, we’re serving versatile chicken, lamb and pork in delicious new combinations that do double duty for weeknight suppers or weekend entertaining. LAMB STEW WITH DILL AND FENNEL is simple and packed with fresh flavor. Braised boneless leg of lamb is seasoned and seared, then combined with fennel chunks and onion with fresh dill added at the end. Served over rice, noodles or spaetzle (Check our pantry items.), it’s a winner for fall. A French classic inspired PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CIDER SAUCE. Versatile and flavorful, it features seared pork medallions simmered in a richly flavored sauce of apple cider and chicken stock seasoned with cinnamon sticks, minced red onions and fresh thyme.
Our chicken dishes are also adapted from Northern European kitchens. The first is based on a classic almost all French cooks know how to prepare--FRENCH CHICKEN FRICASSEE, a hearty dish with tender, boneless chicken breast simmered with browned mushrooms and onions in chicken stock, then finished off with a touch of cream and fresh thyme for rich flavor. A returning favorite, CHICKEN PAPRIKASH has lots going for it, starting with seared pieces of boneless chicken breast sautéed with red and green peppers and onions, then tossed in a savory sauce of chicken stock and white wine seasoned with Hungarian paprika, garlic, and sour cream. Delish!
We’re also serving SHEPHERD’S PIE from the British Isles, a low-key, comfort food dish easy to reheat and serve. A savory mixture of ground beef, onion, garlic, tomato paste, stock, red wine and herbs, topped with herbed mashed potatoes, it’s long been a pub food favorite.
Do side dishes make the meal? We think so and have some terrific options featuring humble root vegetables that are staples in Northern European kitchens. Topping the “Must Try” list are HASSELBACK POTATOES, a Swedish original featuring thinly sliced Yukon Gold potatoes baked and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper and a generous sprinkling of Beecher’s Flagship cheese. Pair with our PORK TENDERLOIN for a terrific dinnertime duo.
Three excellent vegetable gratins made the cut. Our SUMMER VEGETABLE GRATIN returns for another star turn with rows of Roma tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash baked on a base of caramelized onions. We’re also dishing up our ROOT VEGETABLE GRATIN, a thoroughly Northern European combination of Russet potatoes, rutabagas and parsnips baked with cream and garlic, then seasoned with nutmeg, thyme and Flagship cheese. Add CABBAGE AND CAULIFLOWER GRATIN, a favorite pairing of chopped cabbage with cauliflower florets beneath a cheesy breadcrumb topping, to round out the savory trio.
Brussels sprouts fans (We know you’re out there!) will love BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH LEMON AND DILL. Sweet, slightly nutty flavored ‘baby cabbages’ are nuggets of wholesome goodness, cooked with lemon, then tossed with olive oil, lemon juice and freshly chopped parsley and dill. There’s also a refreshing CELERY ROOT SALAD combining brined celery root with chopped green onions and sliced Granny Smith applies in a creamy honey mustard dressing seasoned with caraway seeds. With this bounty of recipes, need we note fall is one of our favorite seasons?
FALL PANTRY PICKS
From our pantry to yours, we’ve got delicious finds to enhance your taste experiences. Our Culinary Council researched Northern Europe and discovered LINGONBERRIES--tiny red berries that grow under the Midnight Sun and are Scandinavia’s cousin to the cranberry. Tart and tangy, packed with vitamin C and seasoned simply with sugar, they’re traditionally served with venison, meat loaf, game and poultry, although we find them equally delicious over ice cream! Scandinavia is also the source of GINGER SNAPS, imported from LARS’ OWN. A traditional Swedish Christmas cookie called Pepperkakor, these crisp, wafer-thin cookies are richly spiced with ginger, cinnamon and cloves, making them an excellent companion to a glass of cold milk or mug of strong coffee. From England comes MALDON SALT, a high quality, flavorful salt produced by a fourth-generation, family-owned company near Essex, and LEMON CURD from Thursday Cottage, a luscious lemony spread used to top scones and English muffins. Some fans have called it addictive. Sure to become a favorite with tea drinkers, we also discovered BISCOTTEA SHORTBREAD. Inspired by traditional Scottish shortbread, these buttery cookies are infused with fragrant cloves, cardamom, ginger and pepper, and to top it off, they’re gluten-free! SAGE JELLY from Rosebud Farms is another discovery we had to share. All-natural and made from apples, unrefined sugar, fresh lemon juice and sage, this savory-sweet jelly pairs well with poultry and roast pork. From Germany comes HOFBAUER SPAETZLE, tiny noodles or dumplings made from flour, eggs and salt, and served as a side dish tossed with butter or much like rice or pasta. Chose one or many to try, and enjoy!
SCANDINAVIA’S KITCHEN OF LIGHT
No, it’s not all about white food on white plates. Modern Scandinavian cuisine is far more flavorful and delicious, refined and contemporary. This is true particularly when Norwegian-born Andreas Viestad presents modern Scandinavian cooking in his cookbook, Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking. Our winning selection for Pasta & Co’s fall culinary theme, this beautiful cookbook is brimming with stunning scenic photos, observations about Norway’s northern landscape--which has deeply influenced its culinary traditions--and more than 100 recipes. Companion to “New Scandinavian Cooking,” Viestad’s PBS cooking series, Kitchen of Light presents recipes that are flavorful, approachable for home cooks, and satisfying using seasonal ingredients widely available to Northwesterners. Take home a copy and take your taste buds on a delicious journey to the far north.
KURT'S KITCHEN WISDOM
For many Northern European countries with long seacoasts, fishing is an important industry, and fish an essential part of everyone’s diet. We’re recognizing this tradition with BUTTER-RUBBED SALMON, a favorite recipe from our Pure Flavor cookbook. Try it grilled, and pair it with LINGONBERRIES or SAGE JELLY for serving.
12-pound salmon fillet, skinned
Lemon Caper Butter Rub
(Makes 1/3 cup)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon capers, drained and mashed
1 teaspoon packed grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon garlic butter
1/2 teaspoon Pasta & Co House Herbs or Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon diced yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Remove any bones from the salmon and cut the fillet into 6 pieces at a 45-degree angle along the bias. Try to maintain uniform thickness in the slices, cutting wider pieces toward the narrow end and thinner pieces toward the thick center of the salmon.
Using a basting brush and about half the butter rub, coast one side of the salmon pieces with the Lemon-Caper Rub. Refrigerate the salmon for 5 minutes, or until the butter hardens into a glaze.
Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Lay the salmon pieces, butter-rub side down, in the pan and cook until the bottom half of the salmon flesh is opaque, about 3 minutes. Brush the remaining butter over the salmon and flip the pieces. Cook for 1minute more. The salmon will be nearly opaque throughout, but still very moist.