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Chef's Kitchen

Each month, a guest chef gives us a tip that elevates their cooking or simplifies things in the kitchen; something a home cook might not know. They also provide a recipe that uses the tip, so you can practice at home. Our guest chef this month is Chef de Cuisine Erika Nelson of Elliott's Oyster House on Seattle's waterfront. Elliott's has been a Seattle institution for over 30 years. They are excited to see what the future of the waterfront has in store for them with its new look and anticipated growth. Spring and summer are great times to enjoy the beautiful views of Elliott Bay from their patio, fresh seafood, innovative new dishes and past favorites at lunch and dinner.


Chef Erika Nelson grew up with a grandmother who loved baking and hosting gatherings at her bed and breakfast in Phinney Ridge. Erika took an early interest in all things culinary with a primary focus on baking. Formulating ideas for school projects where restaurant and menu development were the topic, it wasn't long before she began volunteering, and eventually working, at Tall Grass Bakery in Ballard. She spent many years involved in the National Restaurant Association's Prostart program teaching high school children the skills to build innovative dishes from start to finish. Before joining Elliott's 13 years ago, Chef Nelson worked at various other restaurants and bakeries including Daniel's Broiler in Bellevue, Emory's on Silver Lake, and Salty's on Alki. Erika currently resides with her boyfriend Carey and their two daughters, Josefine and Violet, on their small farm in Elk Plain, Washington.

Erika and Parker


Let's talk herbs, by Chef Erika Nelson

Heading into spring for me is the time I need to clear out the freezer of any pestos from the prior summer season. A surefire way to introduce intense and bright flavors to any meal is using a variety of fresh herbs. This can present a problem during some parts of the year when fresh local herbs are not in season. While fresh herbs are not typically readily available at a reasonable price or easy to grow all year in the Pacific Northwest, you may have an abundance of product in the summer months that you just don't know what to do with.

This is where pestos and, often times, compound butters come into play. By making your herbs into a pesto or compound butter (butter whipped with herbs and seasonings of choice) you are effectively preserving the product at its peak so you can use it all year. This is also a useful technique to execute if you just made too much of an item for a meal and don't want to dispose of the extras. An easy option is to fill ice cube trays or even small disposable cups with pesto and freeze. If using an ice cube tray, just remove the blocks of pesto once frozen and store in a plastic freezer bag. As far as compound butters, it is best to roll the butter into a log and wrap in parchment and then plastic wrap. When you are looking to use the butter, just thaw and cut thin discs as needed.


Stinging Nettle Pesto

Yield: 7 cups

 

Ingredients

4 cups fresh stinging nettle leaves*
1 cup fresh basil
6 each peeled whole garlic cloves
¾ cup pine nuts (or your nut of choice)
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Procedure

Carefully blanch the nettles in boiling water for 1-2 minutes (be sure not to touch them prior to putting them in the water; once blanched the stinging effect will be eliminated).

Quickly put the blanched nettles into a bowl with ice water. Once the nettles are cooled, squeeze out as much water as possible then add to a food processor.

Next, add all remaining ingredients except the olive oil. Puree until smooth. Then drizzle the olive oil into the food processor slowly.

At this point, you can add parmesan cheese if you'd like or increase the amount of olive oil if you are looking for a thinner consistency.

*The nettles may be substituted with more basil or even arugula.

Elliott's Oyster House
1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56
Seattle, WA 98101
206-623-4340

www.elliottsoysterhouse.com

March 2019


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