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This blog is about 3 things. First, eating out and telling you about it. Writing food reviews is fun and enjoyable. Second, making my own meals and sharing recipes. I'm all about simple, easy, and tasty. Third, tackling some challenges in my cookbooks. This way I learn techniques and flavors that I can add to my own cooking. And it all adds up to lots of talk about lots of food. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
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Deck On Food Seattle restaurants

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One week (or so) to go!

For those of you that are still following this blog, I first want to say a big Thank You!  When I started it, I figured the only people that would read it would be my sisters and my parents, so it was a surprise when I saw how many "clicks" I was getting.

All of the reader love has lead me to create a new site, with better layouts, organization, and overall look and feel.  And because of that, I will stop posting new content here soon, and move everything other to the new site,  where you can still follow via RSS feed, or see my posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks again!


Deck's Shrimp Scampi

THIS IS A REPOST FROM DECKONFOOD.COM.  http://deckonfood.com/?p=490

Almost every time we spend more than a couple days with Jennifer's sister, I get a request for shrimp scampi.  According to her, mine is the only one that she really likes (and I have no problem going along with that).  Shrimp is one of those things that is very tasty and quick to cook, but at the same time can be easily overcooked, so the key to this dish is cooking the shrimp over medium-low heat, flipping them only once.  I started cooking this about 4 years ago, and have worked to refine it and make it delicious.

The shrimp can be served in a number of different ways, but my favorite is over pasta.  And tonight I took it up a notch making fresh homemade pasta which was delicious.

At this point, the recipe is simply for the shrimp preparation itself, as I'm still working through some sauce ideas. I think if I take the remaining white wine/butter sauce, and add a little bit of heavy cream and some seasoning I might have something.  In the meantime, I use a creamy pesto sauce from Knorr's, which has been a fan favorite.

Deck's Shrimp Scampi

Serves 2
  • 1 lb. Shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup sweet cream butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
Step 1 - Over medium-low heat (about 4 or 5 on the 1-10 dial), melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet.  Once the butter is foaming, just before it begins to brown, add the garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes until it starts release its aroma.

Step 2 - While the butter is browning, remove the tails from the shrimp and season with salt and pepper (about a 3 finger pinch of salt per pound, pepper to taste).  You don't want to put the salt on too early or it can dry out the shrimp and leave it a little tough.

Step 3 - Add the shrimp to the butter and garlic.  Make sure all of them are laying flat in the skillet.  Once theyare in the butter, add the white wine.  Cook for about 2 minutes (until just cooked through), and then flip over.

Step 4 - Just before the shrimp is done, sprinkle the chopped basil over the shrimp.  Then remove with a slotted spoon, and serve over the top of your pasta or rice.

Jennifer's Rhubarb Crisp

THIS IS A REPOST FROM DECKONFOOD.COM.  http://deckonfood.com/?p=475

When it comes to summer time food, there is nothing that says summer to me more than rhubarb.  Every summer, my grandmother would turn her rhubarb into a plethora of delicious dishes from pies to jams to breads.  I was excited when I found out that Jennifer is a rhubarb fan as well.  In fact, when we first into our house, one of the first things we planted was rhubarb.  And while we've not been very successful growing much in our garden, the rhubarb is currently flourishing.

I'm definitely not the only one in the house that can cook.  While Jennifer doesn't cook a lot, there are some things that she does really well.  And one these things just happens to be one of my favorite rhubarb preparations.  The tartness of the rhubarb combines so well with sweet fruits and a nice crumble on the top.  Add a little vanilla ice cream and it's a wonderfully simple summer dessert.

Jennifer's Strawberry Rhubarb Crips

Serves 6-8
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 2-3 cups fresh chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet cream butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
Step 1:  Cut the rhubarb and strawberries into bite-sized pieces.  You should have 4-5 cups of fruit.  Place all of the fruit into a 2-qt casserole dish or 8" square baking dish.
Step 2: In a separate mixing bowl, add the remaining ingredients.  Using your hands, mix everything together until it forms into a nice crumble.  It should be falling apart, not forming into a dough.

Step 3: Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until the crumble is golden brown on the top, and the fruit is bubbling around the sides.  Serve in a bowl with some vanilla ice cream.

Deck's Rules of Steak

This isn't a post about John Howie's restaurant Steak (though I'm sure I will be writing one at some point).  No, this is about that food of the Gods, steak.  Without a doubt steak is my favorite food.  I could eat a well-cooked (not to be confused with well-done) steak any day of the week.  There is nothing that makes me more upset when it comes to food than someone that cooks a steak poorly.  I've already written a couple posts that involve steak (Craftsteak review and my grill pan), but nothing that is just dedicated to the delectable dish itself.  So I decided that on this beautiful Seattle summer evening, I would come home, throw a couple steaks on the grill, open a beer, and then kick back and write a post about my favorite food.

My taste for steak has evolved much like my taste for other foods.  But a lot of the evolution came with budget more than anything else.  When I was in college, I didn't have a lot of money, so I would only buy steak for myself when it was on sale.  Usually that was a couple day old chuck steak or every now and then a sirloin.  I would take it home and put it on the Foreman grill that night, not even saving it.  When I moved to Seattle, I continued to purchase sirloin steak, shopping at places like Safeway.  When I had a few extra dollars, I would go to Whole Foods and get the sirloin from there.  It was usually thicker cut, which was exciting.  Finally, when I got my most recent job, and had some more money, I stepped up my steak level.  Now, it's all about the thick cut ribeyes from Whole Foods, and special occasions call for the dry-aged ribeyes.

But it wasn't just about buying my steaks, it was also about ordering when I went out.  One of the first place I remember going was the Texas Roadhouse, and ordering the cowboy cut sirloin (maximizing my meat to dollar ratio).  It was always a good reliable steak.  Then I got to try the filet at Ruth's Chris which was a completely different experience; a broiled filet with melted butter.  I had never had a filet and it made me feel sophisticated at the time (interesting side note: the filet was the cheapest thing on the menu).  My restaurant steak experiences peaked when I had the Waygu chef's dinner at Craftsteak in Vegas.  Perfectly prepared, extremely flavorful steak that made everything else seem like hamburger.

All of my steak experiences have led me to develop some strong opinions and my own set of "rules" when it comes to steak.  I've never really written them down before, but I figure this is as good a forum as any.  So, here are my personal Rules of Steak.

Rule #1: No steak should be cooked beyond medium

Actually, I don't think that any steak should be cooked beyond medium-rare, but I know that some people can't quite do that.  However, anything past medium is just not worth it.  It loses all juices and flavors and everything that makes steak wonderful

Rule #2: When it comes to steak, fat is a friend, not a foe

What I mean by this is lean cuts of steak don't have the same flavor as the more marbled cut.  When I was first learning about steak, Filet Mignon was the steak that I definitely wanted to try.  Now, give me a ribeye or a New York strip, something with some fat.  And don't cut the fat off prior to cooking.  If you want to remove fat from your steak, wait until it has already given it's flavor to the meat.

Rule #3: Let the flavor of the meat shine!

Don't put extra stuff of the steak.  Definitely flavor with salt and pepper and other seasonings (I like Montreal Steak seasoning from McCormick).  Maybe some peppers or mushrooms.  But that's it.  No sauces necessary.  If it requires A1, then it's messed up.  When I had the steak at Craftsteak, it had Salt, Pepper and Rosemary.  Other than that it was a beautiful, delicious cut of meat that didn't need anything else.

That's it, just three simple rules.  But that's the way it is with steak.  Just get a good cut of meat (hugely important), season it well, and cook it well.  Right now the best cut of meat I purchase is from the butcher case at Whole Foods.  If there is something better, I hope to find it.  And I'm sure there will be more and more posts about steak as I try it at different places!

Deck's Fried Chicken

THIS IS A REPOST FROM DECKONFOOD.COM.  http://deckonfood.com/?p=428

Tuesday, July 6 was a typical day for me.  I'd headed into work in the morning with my coffee and lunch.  I was working away, answering e-mails, making phone calls, etc.  About mid-way through the day, I saw a tweet come across with some recipes to help celebrate National Fried Chicken Day.  Two things crossed my mind.  First, I need to figure out when more of these national food days are (almost missed National Grilled Cheese Day too).  Second, how was I going to celebrate?  I then realized that before leaving, I had pulled some chicken breasts out of the freezer.  Needless to say, I was stoked!  I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how I wanted to cook the chicken (well, in between working of course).  I thought maybe strips, or I could just fry
them whole.  When I got home, I was still debating when I realized I hadn't pulled out chicken breasts.  I'd pulled out chicken legs; even better!  And so I got ready to make myself some fried chicken.

This was my second attempt at fried chicken actually.  The first time it didn't go so well. The chicken ended upcoming out bland and over breaded.  It was there that I realized not to skimp on spices, and how to properly bread the chicken.  Let's just say, second time is the charm, and that's why instead of an experience, you are getting a recipe!  The spice mix is definitely something you can tweak, as I'm sure I will, but I promise that using this one, you are going to get very moist, flavorful chicken that will have you licking your fingers and wanting more!

Deck's Fried Chicken

Serves 2

Don't skimp!

  • 2 Chicken Legs
  • 1 pint Buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 Tbsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Allspice (optional)

Step 1 - Clean/rinse the chicken and pat dry.  Separate into thighs and drumsticks.  Place the chicken in ashallow baking dish, and pour in the buttermilk.  Cover and refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Step 2 - Preheat your oil to 350 degrees.  You can either use a small deep fryer like I use, or a pot that holds enough oil to completely submerge the chicken.  Use a light oil like vegetable or peanut oil that doesn't add flavor to the chicken.
Step 3 - Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a shallow pan.
Step 4 - Take one piece of chicken out of the buttermilk, and wipe off the excess.  Place it in the spice mixture and coat evenly.  Then dip it back in the buttermilk, and then back into the spice mixture (should be buttermilk, spices, buttermilk, spices).  Repeat this with each of the remaining pieces.
Step 5 - Place the pieces of chicken gently into the oil so as not to splash yourself, and cook for about 5-7 minutes until the outside is a nice brown texture (go past golden brown, but not quite dark brown).  Remove from the oil and place on paper towels.  Let rest 3-5 additional minutes.
That's all it takes.  You chicken should be juicy, flavorful, and delicious!  Happy Fried Chicken Day!

Delicious Fried Chicken with my Roasted Corn Salad and Potatoes a la Michael Symon

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Looking for the Best...

REPOST FROM DECKONFOOD.COM.  http://deckonfood.com/?p=423 

Returning from Wyoming, I don't really have a lot of food stories which is why there hasn't been a post yet.  It wasn't that we didn't eat, but more that everything was more of a big event that featured just some of your basic barbeque items like hamburgers and hot dogs and potato salads and the like.  Not there is anything wrong with those; I quite enjoy my mom's potato salad.  But there was one takeaway from the weekend, one thing that got me thinking, one thing that was worth writing about.

When you tell people that you've started a food blog, and you've gotten into cooking and reviewing restaurants, they start telling you their stories.  They talk about the places that they enjoy eating and that I should try.  They talk about what they've heard about certain foods.  They tell you about what their favorite ingredient is.  Food is like sports in a way; it's something that nearly everyone has an opinion on, and it's something that can be debated endlessly (I was going to say politics, but food has a much more positive connotation like sports).  My favorite of these conversations are the "Best of..." conversations.  It's something that people seek out, and enjoy talking about.  My brother-in-law told me that he had the best hamburger of his life in Casper, WY.  My mom told me that she is still on the search for the best cornbread recipe ever (by the way, if you have any recommendations, please let me know).

On the flight coming back, I got to thinking, what do I want to find the best of in Seattle?  And where do places currently rank?  I decided to narrow my list to Seattle for the time being because it is easier for me to find.  As I travel a little bit more, I hope to be able to add a Best of the US post.  But without further ado, here is my wish list if you will, and who currently has top billing.  And please, don't tell me I'm a moron because of a place I picked; tell me a place that's better, and I'll go.  This is an ever evolving post about finding the best of the best in Seattle and I will add pictures, new categories, and new leaders as I go.

Best Hamburger Under $10

Red Mill Burgers - Red Mill Deluxe with Cheese

Best Hamburger Over $10

Sport - Tillamook Cheddar Burger (now Cheddar Angus Cheeseburger)

Best Wood-Fired Pizza


Best Barbeque

Gabriel's Fire - Brisket and Pork Ribs

Best Fish and Chips

Currently undecided

Best Dessert Ice Cream

Fainting Goat Gelato - Cinnamon Gelato

Best Dessert Pie

Macrina Bakery - Lemon Tart

Best Breakfast Bakery

Bakery Nouveau - Twice-baked Almond Croissants

Best Breakfast Traditional

Currently Undecided

Best Mexican Food


Best Thai Food

May Restaurant and Lounge - Pad See Iew

Best Sushi

Umi's Sake House

Best Italian

Brad's Swingside Cafe

Friday, July 2, 2010

Deck on The Rock WFP - Repost from Deckonfood.com

A few weeks ago a group of us at the office that all graduated or are currently enrolled in the UW MBA program (and one adopted member) decided that it would be good to get together every once in awhile and go out and have lunch together.  It's a great way to continue to develop our network, get out of the office from time to time, and find great little places to eat around the Bothell/Mill Creek area.  When we went to the first lunch, I solicited a few ideas and the group ended up choosing Dim Sum.  However, there was one choice that was eliminated, but kind of stuck with me; The Rock Wood Fired Pizza.  A great Seattle wood-fired pizza is one of my three "searches" right now (the other two being the burger and barbeque...there will be a post about this).  So, when one of my co-workers wanted to go to lunch, I suggested we go check it out.
The Rock is technically located in Mill Creek, though it is pretty much right on the border of Bothell and Mill Creek, a scant 5 minute drive from the office.  It is in what looks to be a pretty new shopping area.  From the outside, it's pretty non-descript, though when you walk in, you can see why it is called "The Rock".  There is a large, open dining area with two floors and the bar in the back, all covered with rock-and-roll memorabilia.  Each stair going up to the second floor has the name of a different legendary rock band.  My first reaction is this is a place that should be in Cleveland, near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; a perfect suburbia/strip mall/themed/slightly overdone restaurant (quite a difference from some of the local, neighborhood places throughout Seattle).  When we sat down, our waitress (perfectly rocker chick with the tats and piercings and hair) asked us if we would like to look over the menu or go for the buffet.  I asked for the menu, not really feeling a pizza lunch buffet where there are four varieties of pizza and a couplepastas sitting under heat lamps.
The menu was 4 pages long, and surprisingly only one page was actually pizza.  There were sandwiches and pasta and salad and a whole host of other things.  But, since I was in a place with "Wood Fired Pizza" in the name, I might as well go for a pizza.  The pizza options were divided into two categories; red sauce and white sauce.  There was a "specialty" section that had 4 options, but nothing really jumped out at me.  After perusing the menu for a few minutes, I ended up going with the "Founder's Pie".  It said in the description that it was the favorite of The Rock founders, so I thought it would be good to try.

The Founders Pie was on the red sauce side of the menu.  It featured Italian sausage, pepperoni, mozzarella and ricotta cheese on a thin crust.  It only took about 10 minutes for the pizza to make it out to the table which was perfect for a lunch during the work day.  And the pizza wasn't too bad.  The ricotta cheese wasnice and creamy, and the sausage had a pretty nice flavor (it may have even been made in house).  The crust was ok, but a little on the soft side for me.  I also think that they went a little overboard on the sauce and the mozzarella, disguising the taste of the crust a little bit.  When I think of a good wood fired pizza, it's the crust that really makes it.  After we ate, we paid up and headed out, about $15 for the pizza and a soda.
The Rock Wood Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon
I know the food review portion is pretty short, but that's because there wasn't a whole lot to say.  It wasn't amazing, but it wasn't terrible.  It was definitely better than something like Domino's or Papa John's, but it wasn't anything like Delancy or even the pizza that I had a Lolita.  Both of those were experiences that I remember, both from the preparation and the taste perspective.  With Delancy, the crust was terrific, and with Lolita it was duck prosciutto!   The Rockwasn't really an experience, just a place to get a quick lunch, which I think says a lot.  I'd go back for a happy hour beer with some buddies after work on a Friday, but it's not somewhere I would drive out of my way to go, or take out of town guests.

Final Verdict - 2.75 Stars