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In the Kitchen

The Italian Job
Sally Belk King
May 6, 2008

This spaghetti squash recipe from personal chef and caterer Robert Cacciola is one of his favorite dishes not just because it's replete with flavor but because it's light, healthy, and can be made in advance. 'When making this at home, do all your prep ahead of time and keep the ingredients separate until 30 minutes before serving,' he suggests.

Wild Thing: Ramps and Potato Gratin
Sally Belk King
Apr 22, 2008

Asparagus, peas and strawberries. That's what usually comes to mind when most of us think of springtime fare. But there are also highly anticipated wild things from the woods this time of year, like morels and ramps. The latter are actually wild leeks (Allium tricoccum); they resemble scallions, but have broader, lily-like leaves. Their assertive garlicky, onion-y flavor is reason enough to celebrate spring, which many communities do--especially in the woodsy parts of Appalachia.

A Succulent Roast Guinea Hen for passover
Sally Belk King
Apr 8, 2008

Even if you don't keep Kosher--even if you're not Jewish--Jonathan Lindenauer's Guinea Hen with spicy dried fruit chutney is easy, festive, and great for just about any special occasion, any time of year. As a side dish, our featured chef suggests an arugula salad, wilted spinach, or roasted Brussels sprouts; all represent the requisite 'bitter' flavor that is part of the Passover tradition.

A Pork for a Party
Sally Belk King
Mar 25, 2008

Fare by David Chang, a.k.a., The Pork King (and GQ magazine's Chef of the Year), nods to Asia, but he also has a clear appreciation for good-quality American products. In addition to featuring country ham from Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee, Chef Chang also offers DeBragga natural pork from Iowa.

The Shoulder Season
Sally Belk King
Mar 11, 2008

Pasta e Piselli is a beloved dish in Campania, and to me, is a dish that signifies the beginning of spring. One of my favorite recipes for pasta with peas is from Eleanora's Kitchen, a book that I co-authored with Italian-born Eleanora Scarpetta. It's the perfect 'Lion-to-Lamb' dish, and just right as a starter for Easter dinner.

Not Your Mother's Meat and Potatoes
Sally Belk King
Feb 26, 2008

When asked chef Jonathan Lindenauer what he was going to cook when returned from Colorado to snowy New York, without hesitation he said, "Steak. Steak with this amazing sauce that I just invented." Lindenauer's spicy, tangy, rich sauce--spiked with gingerroot, soy sauce and sherry vinegar--marries beautifully with an assertive Argentinean Malbec or a full-flavored Côte Rôtie from the northern Rhône.

Comfort in a Kettle
Sally Belk King
Feb 12, 2008

As I write this column, we're still deep into winter here in Montana. Making Country Captain--an old timey southern chicken dish--is definitely on my 'to do' list. Like most long-cooked stews and soups, Country Captain can be made several days in advance; what a joy to have a semi-spicy dish in the refrigerator (or freezer) to reheat for the snowy days and frigid nights still to come.

Powder Day Supper!
Sally Belk King
Jan 29, 2008

Whether you're hunkered down in a mountainside condo or simply want a spicy dish to get you through a dark winter's night, baked pasta dishes seem to always satisfy our primitive craving for big flavors (and yes, calories) this time of year. I'm lucky enough to live near Big Sky Resort, where chef Wendy Wagner is known for her game dishes and other inspired--and filling--dishes. I was intrigued by the title of the dish, and just had to try it in the spirit of solidarity. (I was dining with a male colleague who shook his head and couldn't understand why the dish couldn't be called 'Cowhand Casserole' or something less, um, feminine.

The Cheese Chick Speaketh
Sally Belk King
Jan 15, 2008

In addition to being famous for rain, rain, and more rain, The Beaver State is also replete with extraordinary victuals: mushrooms (for obvious meteorological reasons), wine and cheese. After a recent trip to Oregon wine country, I was enchanted with the cheeses, and wanted to learn more. So, who ya gonna call? The Cheese Chick, of course!

A Scallop Starter from Madrona Manor's 'Star' Chef
Sally Belk King
Jan 1, 2008

When planning a party menu, sometimes it's easier to focus on the main course (Pork roast with fennel? Poached salmon with dill?) and treat the starter as a mere afterthought. But to me, the purpose of a first course is to gracefully ease the diner into the main event.

Before the Prime Rib, a Great Starter
Sally Belk King
Dec 18, 2007

Randy and Lisa Lynch of Bennett Lane Winery in Calistoga have a strong tradition of prime rib, plenty of hungry family members and multiple bottles of their myriad Napa Valley wines for Christmas. And Lisa has a killer appetizer: Chilled shrimp with basil-ponzu sauce. With a Bennett Lane Carneros Reserve Chardonnay, of course!

J's Essence Tasting and the Ultimate Holiday Cookie
Sally Belk King
Dec 4, 2007

Cookies are my weakness. For some, it's ice cream. For others, it's crème brulée. For me, it's the all-American cookie. I've always had to watch my weight and I'm fairly disciplined, but when I nibbled the Chocolate Fleur de Sel cookies at J Vineyards & Winery several weeks ago, I threw caution (and calories) to the wind. 'More, please!' I begged like a deprived orphan in a Dickens novel

Last Dinner on the Titanic
Sally Belk King
Nov 20, 2007

The party theme? The 'Last Dinner on the Titanic,' period dress requested. I found my grandmother's debutante dress (c.1914 - close enough) and my mother's mink stole (again, close enough in terms of ladies' garb worn on April 14, 1912). I bought opera-length gloves online, and packed my bags for California.

Cold, Creamy and Classic: Frozen Bénédictine Parfait
Sally Belk King
Nov 6, 2007

Traditionally served as an after-dinner drink, Bénédictine--the spicy, herbaceous cordial invented in 1510 by a Venetian monk living in Normandy--also makes a fine assaisonment for desserts. Although I've sipped plenty of Bénédictine , I'd never actually 'cooked' with Bénédictine until a few weeks ago. Inspired by a visit to Fécamp, where the elixir was born, I returned to my kitchen determined to concoct something that would highlight this renowned liqueur.

Autumn Elixir: Hearty Bisque for Body, Soul and Pinot Gris
Sally Belk King
Oct 23, 2007

I know, I know. It's such a cliché. But seriously, on a cool, damp evening, is there anything that seems to have as much healing power as a steaming bowl of soup? Now that the seasons have changed -- and we've had over a foot of snow here in the Rockies- -- aromatic vegetables, broth and other soup basics are frequently on my shopping list; just knowing there's a well-stocked pantry gives me a sense of well-being. (Argh! Another soup cliché!) But comfort is a good thing, as is having a battery of recipes on hand that can serve double duty. Replete with seasonal produce and the flavors of the Northwest, the recipe below does just that: It's an ideal first course or an easy supper served with a salad, crusty bread and wedges of ripe blue or goat cheese. Oh, and of course, there must be wine. Try a dry, fruit-forward Pinot Gris with enough body and acidity to stand up to the slightly smoky, full-flavored soup.

It's Game Time!
Sally Belk King
Oct 9, 2007

As an Easterner turned Westerner, I'll admit I'm a bit jaded. I thought Café Kandahar was just another mountain resort restaurant, with the requisite fondue, steaks, and double-stuffed potatoes. Shame on me. Chef Blanton's thoughtfully constructed cuisine will no doubt remain in my culinary memory forever.

Into the Wild: Fungi from the Forest (via Fed-Ex)
Sally Belk King
Sep 25, 2007

Like truffles, chanterelles are found only in the wild. They have a faint fruity scent (some aficionados compare it to apricots), a slightly spicy flavor, and a firm texture that holds up when cooked, which makes them perfect for risotto. My recipe calls for mushroom broth, which adds an extra dimension of flavor. The corn is optional, but it's a nice harvest-y addition.

Farewell Asparagus; Hello Collards and Kale
Sally Belk King
Sep 11, 2007

The only thing better than fall's first cold snap is the abundance of cool-weather produce making its debut at the farmer's market. In addition to the kaleidoscope of apples, squash, and succulent, eat-over-the-sink pears, there are all those seasonal leaves: mustard greens, turnip greens, collards, and innumerable varieties of kale. And of course, there's chard, which can withstand summer's heat and humidity but continues to be available through early spring. As much as I love sweet corn and heirloom tomatoes, when fall finally arrives, I'm ready for something gutsy: bring on the funky greens!