- Heart Salad for Your (Sweet) Heart
I love chocolate as much as the next gal, probably more, but holidays like V-day really bring on the sugar to the point it gets a little gross. The last thing I want to feel is bloated on one of the guaranteed days of nookie, am I right ladies? Here is a romantic salad that will make your heart feel loved.Grilled Eggplant and Heart Pepper SaladIngredients1 eggplant, sliced in rings1/3 cup Pomace or other cooking olive oil (not extra virgin)Kosher salt2 red peppers, cut into heartsSalad greens for twoFeta or goat cheese, 3 ouncesVinaigrette1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil1 large lemon1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary1/2 teaspoon dried thymeSalt and fresh cracked pepperDirectionsAn hour before your meal, cut eggplant into rings. Drizzle olive oil and evenly sprinkle 2-3 pinches of kosher salt. Toss to evenly coat. The salt will firm up the eggplant, while the oil will have time to soak in.Cut out hearts from red peppers using the natural curves of the ends to be the curves of the heart. I usually get two large hearts per pepper.If using charcoal, start your coals. If using gas, preheat your grill 30 minutes before your meal. When grill is hot, at a medium high heat, grill eggplant rings on both sides until they soften but don't fall apart. Set apart to cool.Grill peppers just enough to caramelize a little, but not so much to char or shrivel the heart shape. (Shriveling being generally not desired on Valentine's Day...)Cut lemons and squeeze fresh, add olive oil, dried herbs and salt and pepper. Dress salad greens and crumble cheese. Top with grilled eggplant and heart-shaped peppers.
- Love Me Tenderloin
This year I have two Valentine's Day recipes for you. After all, it is the holiday that espouses two is better than one.The first is up on Char-broil and is divine anytime of year. It's a grilled tenderloin seasoned with a love potion. That's right. A bonafide* love potion that really works. If you doubt me, you should know that because of my Bloody Mary post, the Seahawks won the Super bowl, so that practically proves it right there. But if you need more proof, I would suggest you try the recipe. At the very least you'll have made a delicious pork tenderloin drizzled with a Cabernet reduction sauce, garnished with winter harvest grilled pears and pomegranate seeds.If your loved one doesn't appreciate a dinner like that, then maybe he or she isn't the one. Ya know?Read the whole recipe here.*by the way, spellcheck doesn't think "bonafide" is a real word and wants to change it to either "debonaire" or "bonehead" which are often the same thing. On Valentine's Day, I would suggest you are neither. Just be yourself, use my love potion, and see what happens.PS: I'll post the second recipe tomorrow.
- Give Love for Hope Auction
For Valentine's week, how about give some love for hope? The Hope Project, that is, and a little love to this local non-profit goes a long way.What is the Hope Project?The Hope Project built Hope International School in Gardnersville, Liberia. It was started by Washington families who had adopted children from the same war-torn town. Two of them are friends of mine, and I love that this is a local non-profit, with a local story, that reaches half way across the globe to help families with so little. We are one big connected community.Our friends started The Hope Project, one of the only free schools in Liberia, because when they asked the town community leaders what they needed most, the answer was emphatic, "A school!" To do so, they first had to build a water and a sewage system, then they literally built the school out of the ashes of war. The school now has 1200 students and their first graduating class this year! Read more about their story here.We are raising funds with a small auction on-line for Valentine's Day. It takes so little to make a difference - a teacher's salary is only $100 per month, books for each children a fraction of what it costs here. 95% of your donation goes directly to the school! They have future plans to get this school to be self sustaining and a strong community backing that ensures it's success.Please check out the auction here: or consider giving even a little to this project. It is dear to my heart. There are some local items, like a catering from Smokin' Pete's BBQ, but also plenty of items that can be mailed anywhere in the US. Read all about the Hope Project, Liberia, and how we are all a part of this story.
- A Kick Before Kick Off: It's Bloody Mary Time!
I can't tell you how ready I am for today. I'm celebrating two major events: The Seahawks in the Super bowl and the end of 10 years of my restaurant.That second one is a doozy. I have vastly mixed emotions. On one hand I am thrilled to be starting something new. I am proud that we have built our catering business enough to walk on its own. But ending a chapter is always bittersweet. So many things I'd have done differently. So many sweet customers I'll miss.We have such a dear crew, E3 and Falcon, Justin and Ron, Carl, Chai, Bruce, Razzle Dazzle....and too many past employees/friends that I can't even begin to list (and honestly quite a few I'd like to forget). I don't tell them enough how much they mean to me. On the contrary....I was a real bitch on Friday. I laid into someone who was late and realized later that he got it for every employee that has ever been late in the past ten years. It was like a tidal wave of anger coming out of me. So sorry guys. You know it's because I care, right? I wish you all success and happiness.I am looking forward to some quieter moments in life. The past ten years have been a sprint and while the race may be fun for a while, when it has no end it isn't a life.A lot of people have multiple restaurants with bustling catering businesses, so it apparently can be done and even done well. I simply can't do it and be healthy and happy. I'm not wired to stop. When I got made, they forgot to put in an off button. I have to force myself to stop by pulling the plug at the source. When I'm home at night with the kids, I can't turn off the fact that my business is operating. A part of me is still operating with it, worrying about it, wondering about it.Obviously I don't go on every catering and there are plenty of times that the catering business is going on without me. But there will be some times, enough times when it will stop, turn off, when I go home.I'll drink to that.Gawd, Julie, This was supposed to be a post about celebrating and drinking, not a tell-all of my psychosis. I'm totally crying right now. And laughing.So here, my friends, is a recipe for a breakfast Bloody Mary. It's garnished with a breakfast sandwich to give us a little non-liquid sustenance as we gather for the big game.Read the recipe here. If you are in Seattle, come on down and watch the game at Pete's or stop buy before or after. Eric and I will be there slinging pork.Peace out.
- How to Cook A Bronco
We're going nuts here in Seattle. Everyone has Seahawks fever. 70% of the city is convinced that for luck they must wear Seahawks jerseys until the game. I'm pretty sure they haven't washed them since the San Francisco game.As a barbecue caterer, I can confirm that there will be no work done on Friday, because offices everywhere are having parties, many of them catered by me. We have begun stockpiling wings, remembering the wing crisis of '05.While I can't add anything to the conversation about the defensive line or quarterback match ups (though I do think Richard Sherman was totally misunderstood in that interview and unfairly skewered by the media. It was simply a Howard Dean moment where the crowd and his energy from making the play of his career didn't match the noise-reducing mic.), I can offer a cooking perspective.We've gotta barbecue those Broncos.It's not going to be easy: Bronco meat is tough. I suggest cooking them slow and low, rubbed with a good amount of spice, and finished with a glaze in the last 30 minutes.Here is my recipe:Spice: Pepper them offensively to shut Peyton Manning down. Sack him, attack him and rattle him if you can. Spice them completely - underneath all the hype, Bronco meat is pretty bland.Low: Make a low, consistent fire. You want overall heat, rather than high flames in one area. Persistent and grounded heat will keep down the jitters of being at the Super bowl.Slow: The only way to break down the sinews of Bronco meat is to cook it slowly, relentlessly. Focus on each yard, making those first downs, and completing each pass. This process will tenderize the connective tissue of the Bronco. Now it's time for the glaze.Glaze: Once the Bronco meat is tender, finish them off with some zing in the last 30 minutes of cook time. Glaze them with plays like that amazing 35-yard pass by Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch's 40-yard touchdown, or Richard Sherman's intercepting tip that sealed our win against San Francisco.We know you have it in you, Seahawks, and we are behind you all the way.Me? I'm clearing out the smoker ashes, stacking up the wood, and getting ready for the feast on Sunday.
- Huge Announcement About Our Restaurant, Smokin' Pete's BBQ
Here is what we sent out to our customers this week. I wanted to post it here on the blog in case people didn't see it . We are getting lots of best wishes and "that's a total bummer" comments, but it's definitely what is right for our business, our lives, and our family.We're going 100% Catering & Wholesale(last day for restaurant is Superbowl Sunday)We're not closing, just evolving.First of all, we love our customers. We've loved serving you and our neighborhood for ten years and look forward to the next ten, just differently. Second of all, you can still call in orders ahead of time, with a little more notice. Our decision to change and close the restaurant as of February 3rd is not a sudden one, but something we've been working toward for a year. The catering side has grown beyond the "back door" and we want to put all of our energy and focus into it.Adding in wholesale to market our pickles and other items has also been a dream but one we can't do while running a restaurant full time and raising our kids.Here are some facts:1) You can still call in orders ahead with 48 hours notice. Info about how will be up on our website in February.2) We're having a Superbowl Sunday partyand you are invited! Yep, we'll have a TV, beer specials, and will be slingin' the wings as we celebrate the Hawks in the bowl! We are so proud of our team!3) We'll be introducing a new catering brand soon and the wholesale end of things will launch when it's ready.4) Our catering line is still (206) 331-8279. Our e-mail is still email@example.com. We hope you will share fond memories with us these next two weeks in the restaurant, by celebrating on Superbowl Sunday, or by dropping an e-mail to us. 5) We'll be out and about in the neighborhood, like the Adams Elementary Winter Harvest Festival on February 7 and Seafood Fest this summer.We're smokin' for ya'!Julie and Eric Reinhardt
- Grilled Eggplant Mini Pizzas
I love grilled eggplant and always make extra to have on hand for snacking. It helps me not reach for cake or hunks of cheese. These mini pizzas also keep the carbs down for those of us trying to lose the middle (see previous post about my New Year's resolutions).I was recently working on a Valentine's day post for Char-broil and threw some eggplant on for myself, which is why the photo below is blurry. The real shot was of a pepper on the grill, with the eggplant receding in the background. My point? Cut the eggplant in rounds, rather than lengthwise for this recipe.The key to grilling eggplant is to lightly coat the slices with oil and salt, and let sit for about an hour before grilling. That gives the oil enough time to soak in and the salt enough time to firm up the eggplant.Shake any excess oil off before grilling.Grill for a few minutes on each side so that they are nicely caramelized but not falling apart. Chill for 15 minutes or up to four days to put in salads or to snack on, like these yummy mini-pizzas.For the sauce, I simply smeared on some pesto (but tomato sauce would work just as well), then added grated mozzarella and Parmesan and broiled until the cheese bubbled.Voila! It didn't even break my diet, which is more than I can say about a few minutes ago. Damn that chunky peanut butter. If only I'd had some delicious grilled eggplant in the fridge.
- My (cringe, wince, dare I say them) 10 Resolutions for 2014
I'm not a fan of resolutions because they create a paper trail of one's inevitable failures from setting expectations too high. The word resolution is so authoritative. I know it's because it's so close to the word "revolution" but resolution always makes me picture a Confederate soldier pointing a bayonet at my head.On the other hand I love lists. And new beginnings. I'm also a hopeless hopeful liberal who thinks everything in the end will work out if we can all just get along. There's nothing wrong with a good old fashioned drum circle, people. I've got the sage stick in my desk.And since I've already given my grilling resolutions for Char-broil, and am inspired by writing group buddy Helen Landalf's most excellent writing resolutions, here are mine with grilling and writing naturally a little mixed together.1) Nano the novel. I've been timidly chipping at a novel for two years now. Timid because I think I don't have the time to commit to a long work, so I put most of my fiction writing energy into poetry and short stories. The novel won't go away, however, and my writing group keeps asking about it. It's time to Nanowrimo this thing. November is never a good month for me to do so, but I can pick a 30 day period that will. March sounds good. It's my birthday month.2) Lose the Forty 40. You know the Freshman 10? Well it gets worse. It's time for me to lose the belly. Period. It's hindering me and I'm sick of it and I've already lost four pounds from cutting out grains and dairy for four days, not because I think they are bad, but because I love my bread and cheese, and this addict needs to detox. I'll be sure to blog about the healthy grilled and smoked dishes I make along the way.3) Create a work/life balance. My husband and I have run a 7-day a week, lunch and dinner restaurant for ten years. Ten! Look for some business model changes soon. Very soon. For starters, we are open from 12-8pm, Wednesday through Sunday this month. That will help, but stay tuned for more. And less.4) Walk the dog more. I'm supposed to be morning walk girl and Eric is night walk guy. I miss a lot of my shifts. Trixy, our very energetic cattle dog needs it, and so do I.5) Play more fully. My daughter has been saying a lot lately that I don't play enough. It's like a stab in the heart and I predict that she will improve upon this ability to break me in her teens. But she's right. We're going through some transitions and I've been pretty absorbed and work focused. I keep telling her that I'm working on getting more play time but that means nothing to a five year old. Or to anyone. On the contrary, my husband sees the kids less, will lay down and nap sometimes when it's his shift (seriously!) but doesn't get that comment at all. I think it's because he really plays when he plays. He doesn't check e-mail, or call anyone, or make shopping lists. I may not be able to play more hours, but my goal is to play fully when it's play time.6) Add some Zumba to the Karate. I jumped back into Karate last year and it feels great. I get my heart rate up, learn every class, and take it pretty seriously. I want to add in exercise that for me is purely for fun. Zumba (registered trademark yada yada) sounds perfect.7) Sharpen the editing skills. I've always thought I was a pretty good proofreader and editor but I've noticed errors lately that I should have caught. I need to own that. Whether that means taking a refresher class or simply taking more time, it's all about the practice. Practice makes perfect.8) Submit to the Slush Pile. I tend to hold on to what I write. This year I plan on giving some of my stories and poems wings, even if it means they rubberneck back stamped NO in red ink.9) Grill purple. It's funny because I've always considered myself a little outside the barbecue world, even though I own a barbecue restaurant and catering company, and have published a cookbook. I don't compete though, and I live in Seattle and sometimes have purple hair. I've noticed, however, that my posts are mostly about traditional barbecue and basic grilling. There aren't a lot sides, desserts or weird/daring/bizarre recipes on my blog and as I said in the Char-broil New Year's post, I'd like to blog more out of the barbecue box this year.10) Breathe. This is the most important, which is why it's the last one. Eric says it to me all the time because I get spinning so fast I forget to breathe. My guess is the Tasmanian devil had the same issue.So what are some of your resolutions?