Stir-fry blog

Sandwich Championship Semifinals

veggie grinder

Grantland sportswriter Brian Phillips recently wrote an essay where he declared, “College basketball is all about emotion.” The same concept can be applied to sandwich loyalties, which is why we’ve so enjoyed this month’s Sandwich Championship. (Cast your vote right here!)

We’re at halfway mark – the championship round begins March 25 – and thus far there have been two big surprises from your voting. First, Veggie Havarti soundly beat Yam in the first round, even though when we first talked about this idea at the office, Deli Assistant Merchandiser Jared Mitchell immediately declared that Yam would be the “Cinderella sandwich” (the underdog candidate that goes on to success). Second, it was startling to see that Tuna Salad and Turkey Cheddar were tied right up to the final minutes of the first round. You lovers of our traditional sandwiches are evenly divided in your loyalties. If that match-up had been a basketball game, it would have been one for the history books.

My pick for the winner has always been the first sandwich I ever ate from the PCC Deli: Italian Pretzel Grinder. There’s something about that pleasantly salty, properly chewy pretzel roll that turns a classic sub into something new and great. When I wrote about it, multiple friends admitted on social media that it was the only deli sandwich they ever bought. This is the sandwich that inspired me to ask about the potential for election rigging (sadly, I was shot down by our highly ethical web team). As it turns out, this sandwich needs no corruption to take the lead.

The most interesting match for this round is the El Cubano vs. Veggie Havarti. It’s a close race, and represents the last vegetarian option in the competition. Will that help give it the extra votes it needs? Will the delicious melty cheese and pickle slices of El Cubano help it take the lead? Remember, the winning sandwich will be $1 off per pound for the entire month of April. If you enjoy one of these four competitors on a regular basis, it pays to vote!

More about: PCC Deli, sandwiches

Are you ready for some football?

Fuel for the fans: The 12th Man cheered the Seahawks through an amazing season. Could this be the year we've been waiting for? Is it a jinx to even think that? Whatever the outcome, we're planning on full-on Feast Mode for the playoffs.

More about: beer, desserts, Local Beer, pizza, sandwiches

The World's Your Oyster

Puget Sound. No place like it on earth, especially when the sun shines, right? OK, true enough, but really, there’s actually nothing quite like all that rain we’re so (in)famous for. And really, when you slow your scurry between car and cover, when you un-hunch your shoulders, when you just walk, amble even, and breathe in all that cold, damp, rain – laden air…it’s damned fine. Nothing quite like this green, clean sliver between the vast, cold Pacific and the cloud-shrouded mountains, all wrapped in our inclement blanket.

And there’s nothing that sums it any better than an oyster – a Washington oyster, that is (although Vancouver Island will do, too). One small slurp of creamy, briny, meaty, delicate goodness. A morsel that tells the tale of an entire ocean, neatly encased in its barnacled package, the labor of shucking serving as a toll for the reward within. A bivalve code for the place between the expanse of an ocean and a sliver of beach. The place where tide meets river, salt meets sweet.

Late Spring and early Summer are the domain of Apollo and  the fruits of the sun, while the harvest of Poseidon’s fields are at their briny best in late Autumn and early Winter. Ocean confit. Ripe little berries bearing the essence of the cold, salty, churning, mystery of the sea. What could be better than being inside, safe, warm, surrounded by friends, feasting on little nuggets of the treacherous cold deep? Mighty fine. And all the better, of course, with a fine bottle of Muscadet, sleek, lean, saline yet sweet as meadow grass and a kiss of clover honey. Or think Chablis, or Picpoul, Txakolina perhaps. Champagne (or a nice, crisp Blanquette de Limoux) will do nicely, too.

Take your pick… The world IS your oyster – all you need is an oyster knife (and a corkscrew).

More about: Muscadet, Osyters, wine

Four sweet ways to beat the heat

It's happening, folks: a stretch of hot, sunny Seattle weather that's actually starting *before* the fourth of July. This is a rare event indeed, and calls for celebration on all fronts. We suggest the following fun ways to beat the heat!

1. Make homemade popsicles


My take on peach-raspberry popsicles ready to pop into the freezer!

Wondering what to do with all those strawberries you just picked, the organic blueberries you snagged at PCC, that swiftly ripening pineapple on your kitchen counter? Try these easy recipes from the Sound Consumer and swoon. For those of you who prefer step-by-step instruction, check out my attempt (and victory) here.

2. Make one of these three inventive ice cream sandwiches

Need we say more? Find the recipes here from our July issue of PCC Taste magazine, now available in all PCC locations.

3. Make a giant strawberry ice cream sandwich

Are those dainty ice cream sandwiches just too small for your liking? Try Chef Lynne Vea's easy recipe for a GIANT ice cream sandwich you can share with your neighbors.

4. Make a fresh rhubarb ice cream cake

Savor the last of spring rhubarb and our wonderfully sweet local strawberries with this lovely (and simple) dessert.

No matter what, from all of us at PCC, have fun getting your vitamin D this weekend!

More about: desserts, ice cream, summer

Muscadet!


 

Imagine the tangy kiss of sea breeze on a cool day, threaded with a flinty, chalky note of wet rocks and a racy splash of citrus, the spine-tingling lazer brightness softened with a drop of clover honey and a soft, high harmony of meadow grass. Make it liquid, with the bracing freshness of icy seawater and a texture that’s rich with tangy fruit, sleek and lean at once. Pour, sip, let the spine-tingling, hair-on-the-arms-raising, make-you-wince shudder of all that finely focused freshness seize you by the palate and shake you. Repeat, add seafood, poultry, a nicely aged cheese, a gratin, fresh greens…or, of course, oysters. That’s livin’…
 
It’s an incomparable, inimitable pleasure. And, given all that goodness, a shockingly inexpensive one. Like Chablis, Riesling, Rosé or Beaujolais, Muscadet suffers from a reputation tarnished by producers who’ve flooded the market with oceans of mediocre bulk wine bearing the Muscadet name. Meaning that some of the region’s most expressive, small-production wines can be had for less than $20.
 
A case in point is the gorgeous Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine from Pierre – Henri Gadais, who farms two vineyards in the commune of Saint - Fiacre. The wine is pure Muscadet, vivid raciness wrapped in the softness of a Spring day. The 2011 vintage wears the estate’s mid – 1950’s label, a classic, and a reminder that truly great things are timeless. An investment of a mere $13.75 at your favorite PCC puts one of these beauties in your shopping basket, right alongside the fresh tuna, the produce, the bread and a perfectly piquant wedge of cheese….

More about: French wine, white wine, wine

A Chardonnay Kinda Day?



It’s not that I don’t like chardonnay… It’s just that the mere word has about the same effect as “muzak” on my gray matter. It’s the Mantovani, the Kenny G, the Barry Manilow of grapes. Not to mention that there are a gazillion exciting, diverse, delectable, different other wonderful white wines to be had and enjoyed. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t lovely, terroir-driven chardonnays, but who really wants to listen to the same band or read the same writer over and over again, anyway?
 
Still, we try never to say never and I’m always one to seek out the exception to any rule. Opportunity presented itself a few evenings ago, as The Accomplice and I were puzzling over the daily “what shall we drink” dilemma, I spied a bottle of Aldo Conterno “Bussiador” chardonnay ’05 in the rack. Hmmmm. Could be time to drink that one up, we agreed.
 
First pour, first sip, it seemed as if we were catching a glimpse of a fading star, hints of its former glory fading into caramelly richness, with just barely enough acidity to keep it together. At first. But as it aired, notes of lemon curd, white flowers and what Throckmorton refers to as “Bit o’Honey” (in a really good way) began to emerge. Nice. This could be good…
 
Moments later there magically appeared, tucked discreetly behind a bunch of kale. a bottle of ’05 Jarvis chardonnay, stashed away to chill a couple months ago then forgotten. While neither The Accomplice nor yr. obedient correspondent have a particular jones for spendy California chardonnay, who were we to argue with the fine academic opportunity offered by this pair of spendy, mature chardonnays?
 
It was crazy stuff, the nose more reminiscent of riesling than chardonnay (especially chardonnay from the Golden State). Aromas of apricots and petrol had the palate had the sensory table for sweet wine, then delivered a dry, silky, unctuous-but-focused rendering of ripe fruit. Still-lively acidity made all that richness dance.
 
Both wines continued to open and evolve over the next couple hours, showing greater clarity, complexity and finesse as they aired. By evening’s end, they had fully blossomed into gorgeous examples of one grape rendered in two markedly contrasting styles.
 
Moral of the story? Just say “yes” – even to chardonnay. And don’t forget to eat your kale.

More about: chardonnay, Italian wine, white wine

2012 in review: Your favorite recipes

Each year we post the 10 most popular recipes from our online collection. There are perennial favorites (like our PCC Emerald City Salad). But it's most fun to see which newcomers pop up.

Is your favorite on this list? I am partial to No. 5.

  1. Kale and Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Garlic Dressing
  2. PCC Emerald City Salad
  3. PCC Perfect Protein Salad
  4. Steph’s Tofu
  5. PCC Sesame Quinoa with Edamame
  6. Kale Chips
  7. Black Bean and Yam Quesadilla
  8. Soba Noodle Stir-fry
  9. PCC Quinoa Tabouli
  10. Spice Scented Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque

Here's a look at your favorites in 2011.

And, in 2010.

Happy cooking, and a very happy new year!

 

How to seed a pomegranate

Pomegranates always appear just as gray skies and dark afternoons become routine again during the chilly months here in the Northwest, offering a rosy glow and a welcome sweet-tart burst of brightness during a season of root vegetables and sturdy greens.

 


Crisp, tart, beautiful.

 

Breaking into them needn't require ruining your shirt. Try this method to get at those plump, juicy seeds and you'll be ready to make any number of pomegranate recipes like: 

 

Of course, you can always just eat them atop yogurt, add to a glass of bubbly for color and a hint of sweetness, or just spoon 'em up plain. After all, you earned them! Perhaps the challenge and mystery of breaking open a pomegranate is what launched them into lore and legend.


More about: pomegranates, produce, salad

How to eat chia seeds

I first heard of chia seeds as something to eat from my running friends. Back in 2010 they raved about a book, "Born to Run," that hails these tiny powerhouses of nutrition as a mighty energy source


Get your chia! Find it in the bulk section at PCC.

 


If you're as curious as I was, head into PCC's bulk department. Take home a handful or a sackful or organic chia seeds. Either way, try them. There's a reason you're hearing about them seemingly everywhere (including over the weekend in this New York Times article).

  • Just 2 tablespoons of the tiny chia seed delivers 6 grams of soluble fiber and 4 grams of protein. Learn more about chia and other power super seeds (including hemp and flax) in this Ask the Nutritionist column by PCC Nutrition Educator Nick Rose.
  • Chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids.
  • They're easy to eat. Sprinkle atop your yogurt or oatmeal, add them to smoothies, slip into your breads and muffins, or add them to citrusy water (or watermelon or strawberry juice) for Chia Fresca. Or, try this recipe for granola with chia from PCC Chef Lynne Vea.
  • PCC also carries Mamma Chia beverages -- chia fresca without the work.
  • There's also this recipe from our PCC Community and a recipe for Chia Pudding from our Sound Consumer newsletter.

No, that's not pepper: it's chia seeds with my morning yogurt!

One tip: just like poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and other favorite seeds, chia seeds have a tendency to get stuck between your teeth. Tuck a spool of dental floss in your bag and you'll be good to go.

How do you most like to enjoy them?

 

 

More about: bulk, chia seeds, omega-3, seeds

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