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Monday, December 13, 2010

New Phone - Lamb Braise, Old Phone - Pork Braise

I got a new phone the other day, its got a great camera.  I hate the phone, but the camera is great.  Here is a lamb shoulder braise headed to the oven.  I love braising lamb like this.  No pre searing, no sauteing the vegetables, you just have to heat the lamb stock and white wine and lightly oil the meat surface before heading to the 350 degree oven.  Once the top browns, the meat gets rotated, brown side into liquid, and the process repeats itself until the meat is tender, but not fall apart tender like beef short ribs or pork carnitas.  Reduce the braising liquid a bit and it is perfect with some creamy polenta, and roasted winter vegetables. 

 Here is our pork braise headed to the oven.  We put tin foil over the tops of these and don't uncover them until the final 30 minutes of cooking.  This ends up shredded and on our pulled pork torta at the sandwich shop.  The key is the salt, 1 Tbs per 5 lbs pork shoulder.  And then the chilis, onions, and garlic.  We use guajillos, pasilla, new mexico, and japonese.  Look at the photo difference.  Its all tinny and washed out. 

Dinner with the family.  Papparadelle, mild italian sausage, spinach, garlic, chili flakes, extra virgin olive oil, chicken stock, parmesan. 


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mayonnaise Week

Every so often we like to do fun things at the sandwich shop.  We had a "put our phone number in your phone and get a 10% discount or free brownie or free drink" Week.  We had a Latronka eating contest and a "pastrami" Week.  We had a "happy birthday to us" Week.  We just finished up Mayonnaise Week, a celebration of all things good about the creamy loveliness that is Mayo. 

You can find out about these fun and exciting things by joining our e-mail list.  It's easy, send us an e-mail asking us to join and we will let you.  No expensive initiation fees, no credit checks... its easy, its fun (kinda).


Here is our son drawing the winners for Mayonnaise Week, from the super special Mayonnaise Week Mayo Tub.  And below is the e-mail we sent out to all those e-mail list people.

Greetings Sandwich People,

We try to do things right at Graze ("right" being a highly subjective idea that we tend to always put ourselves on the correct side of the "right/wrong" continuum).

Mayonnaise, or Mayo for short, is one of those things that always makes us question just how "right" we are.

Consider the following "rightness" scale I have in my head regarding this French classic, descending from most right to least right.
- hand whisked, using fresh peeled garlic and local organic eggs, pure olive oil, lemon, kosher salt
- food processor, peeled garlic, fresh eggs, pure olive oil, lemon, kosher salt
- food processor, peeled garlic, fresh eggs, canola oil, lemon, kosher salt
- best foods mayo (hellman's for you east coasters)
- food processor mayo, jarred mashed garlic (this stuff is toxic, ruins most everything), fresh eggs, lemon, kosher salt
- assorted mayo brands
- heavy duty five gallon bucket industrial strength generic mayo

Now as much as we would like to make mayo for our sandwiches and sauces daily... it just is not practical. And as safe as it is to make mayo from egg yolks, this risk/reward ratio on our part is much to high, and the health department would flip out and make us put warning labels all over the sandwich shop.

So we choose to use Best Foods as our only mayo. But here is the deal. Five gallons of Best Foods Mayo costs us $62.50. Any idea how much the generic industrial heavy duty stuff sells for.... $32. Yep, we are idiots. But without Best Foods our basil mayo would be lackluster, our russian dressing would suffer, our chipolte mayo would be bland, the caesar dressing would taste greasy.

Best Foods is so good, so fantastic, so that much better than the alternative, so as close as you can get to a house made mayo without the tiny health risk while being incredibly non-perishable, that we are going to celebrate it the only way we know how. This entire week at Graze is Mayonnaise Week!!!!

Here is how it works. Come in. Order. Then say "Bring Out the Best". For every sandwich you order you get to place your name in... wait for it.... wait for it... the Best Foods Mayo Gallon Tub. And we will hold a drawing at the end of the week and award the lucky winners their choice of a Graze T-shirt or a Graze Handbag. Three winners this glorious glorious Mayonnaise Week.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Random Appetizers

We had the pleasure to make a few appetizers we haven't done in a while.  First up, a decidedly non-winter app that a client insisted we make... sometimes I am so glad we do things we would not normally do.  She said she wanted some goat cheese and sauteed vegetables with crostinis.  So we found these little green zuchinni and sliced them into thin rounds and just super quick sauteed them in olive oil.  Then we hard sauteed some red peppers and piquillo peppers and added really large thinly sliced garlic.  For the goat cheese we pureed some basil with lemon and salt, and then whipped up a batch of goat cheese mousse.  A new favorite for anytime of the year.  Thanks for the inspiration Julie!

A twice baked red potato, filled with yukon gold pureed potatoes, with cheddar and pepperjack cheese, bacon, and chives, topped with paprika.  So yummy all Brian and I could do was think of breakfast.  So we popped an egg yolk in the hollowed out and roasted potato, topped it with some bacon and chives, and baked it in the oven for a few minutes... until the yolk was barely set... and it gushes all over the plate when cut into.  Yeah, it was one of those kitchen moments of bliss.

Who doesn't love a good Thai spring roll?  Here is the ingredient list for our spring rolls.  Rice paper wrapper, somen noodles, rice wine vinegar, mixed greens, finely shredded carrots, mung beans, clover sprouts, cilantro, basil, and mint.  Packed with flavor they are super tasty.  Although pretty much everyone in our kitchen hates making them, they are time consuming beyond belief with that many ingredients.  We serve them with sweet chili dipping sauce and/or our homemade peanut sauce (you know that gloppy kind that reminds you of wallpaper paste but coats your mouth with peanut butter and hoisin flavor... not that kind.)  Our peanut sauce is a puree of sauteed red torpedo peppers and garlic and cilantro stems, peanut butter, lime, salt, and coconut milk.  Its fantastic.

A dim and bad photo of our fall dessert tartletts.  Pumpkin pie and chocolate pecan pie.


Saturday, November 27, 2010


We have had the pleasure of working for and with Reininger Winery for a long time now.  Their annual Holiday Barrell Tasting Party was one of our very first big winery jobs.  Appetizers for 150 people for a two hour party.  I was scared silly at the time.  These days 150 person appetizer parties are kind of run of the mill.

For this year's Fall Release Weekend we were happy to do a first ever for Reininger, a tasting and pairing of small plates for a group of 33 guests.  Here is how the evening broke down.  Guests had a couple of small passed apps as Chuck Reininger gave them a tour of the facility.  Then the show began.  First course was a heirloom squash soup with sage cream, prosciutto di parma, and a mini butternut squash panini with roasted garlic and fried sage - paired with a reserve chardonnay. (here is the dish right before the panini went down for service.)

Second course was a herb de provence crusted pork tenderloin with butter braised brussel sprouts, bacon, and roasted fingerling potatoes - paired with the SoRo Helix. (not pictured)  Third course was a crispy polenta cake/cup filled with Thundering Hooves red wine braised beef ragu, wilted chard and garlic, and parmesan grana (shakily pictured below) - paired with Helix Sangiovese.

The fourth course was a minimalist cassoulet.  Calypso beans from Welcome Table Farm (close to the best beans I have ever had)  The beans are cooked in chicken stock, wine, lamb braising liquid, and thickened with a duck fat roux.  We then incorporated the lamb neck meat, crisp duck confit, and seared cubed saucisson, then topped the whole thing with duck fat mini croutons.  (picture of the lamb braise as it heads to the oven, sorry no pic of finished dish)

The last course was as unlike anything we have ever done.  We poached dried mission figs in helix merlot, then reduced the liquid to a yummy syrup.  Made some marshmallows, and broke off cubes of Girardelli Chocolate.  The whole thing reminded me of a smore, so we added a skewer, and let guests toast up the mallows at their tables over the tea lights.  It was pretty darn good, and pretty fun to do. 

For this years Holiday Barrell Weekend Reininger is switching gears and not doing the appetizer party.  They are planning something much better.  A vertical tasting of Cima (their super tuscan themed red) led by Chuck, followed by a really simple buffet meal of our red wine beef ragu, creamy polenta, and roasted fall vegetables with sage brown butter. 


Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving x 3

We served Thanksgiving three times over the last two and a half weeks.  First we served 90 staff at the Walla Walla Clinic.  Seven days later we served 170 Corps of Engineers staff and family.  And six days later we served 130 Con Agra employees (a new mexico version, chipolte stuffing, and jalepeno and red torpedo pepper cornpone (cornpone you ask? it's a midwest corn casserole I tweaked from my grandmother and mother's holiday table)).  That makes 490 Thanksgiving dinners served.  Brian and I both do not want to see another turkey until November 2011. 
And we do it right too.  Gravy is made from turkey stock.  Stuffing from leftover sourdough and italian bread from the sandwich shop.  Potatoes from scratch... etc etc.  Turkeys are salted and herbed for three days prior.  And the best part is the leftovers turn into sandwich shop specials... that are truly fantastic.
Thanksgiving soup.  Turkey gravy, thinned with stock, leftover turkey scraps, sauteed celery and carrots, fresh thyme.  Its like a full thanksgiving meal in a cup.
 And the special sandwich... like a thanksgiving meal between bread.
And the two combined... comatose heaven.  (And can you believe it.  490 meals served... and not a single picture of the roasted bird.  I am an idiot.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, around 2pm or some other non-descript slow restaurant time, a single college age student had a sandwich and left us a little note, semi-crumpled on her dining table.

This is our first ever piece of customer generated sandwich art.  And the kind and thoughtful words give me that lump in your throut, 'I kinda want to cry feeling'.

Here is what is says:

"I'm at Graze by myself.  I ordered a Turkey sandwich.  I miss Michigan.  Walla Walla is a very different environment.  I miss the forests and the the smells.  I wish I felt better about my move.  Good food is important to me that's why I came to Graze.  My dad and mom would eat here.  They both have worked in the restaurant industry for their whole lives.  They taught me the difference between a good dish and a bad dish."

We have had this little scrap of paper push-pinned to the wall ever since she left it. 

Cheers and Thank You to the young lady.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"the chipolte incident"

I read this book a while back called... oh I can't remember it now.  But it was about famous chef guys and gals and their own personal pro cooking screw ups, nightmares, horror stories.  Batali, Keller, that dude with the famous 'best restaurant in the world' Spanish guy, Bourdain, all the usual suspects.  It made me smile, remembering the time I let two gallons of fryer grease overflow the catch pot onto the floor of Creektown Cafe (rip) to begin a day that would see us serve a hundred or so lunch patrons.  Or the time (as a very newbie cook) I was making a batch of pesto in a blender.  Apparently I was unhappy with how quickly the basil was working its way toward the blades. so holding the blade end of a chefs knife I poked the basil downward with the wooden handle, only to hit the spinning blades, nearly cutting myself... and to the horror of the other cooks immediately proceeded to reattempt the failed exercise... hitting the blades again.

This definitely not a mistake!  Roast delicata squash, acorn squash, garlic, onions, rutabegas,
sage brown butter. For a tiny little wedding this weekend.

I recall all of this because we had an accident the other day at the sandwich shop I would like to share with you.  It went like this, the cook, great person, newish to the trade, was making chipolte mayo for the pulled pork torta (have you tried it yet? chile garlic onion braised pork, smashed avocado, fresh cilantro, our house quick pickled jalepenos, tomatoes... I digress).  The secret recipe goes like this, one can of a certain brand of chipoltes, nine cups of mayo, blend in food processor till smooth.  The smoothing out process can take awhile, chipoltes can be a bit tough, and we don't want any chuncky bits.  Something made our young cook unhappy so she stuck her spatula into the running machine.  Of course it hit the blade (I could have told her that...) and the whole machine started to rattle, and shake, and immediately spurt chipolte mayo everywhere.  She panicked, and rather than shut the machine off, she tried to dislodge the spatula, which only seemed to make the machine spew faster.  By the time she got the thing stopped, the aftermath was not pretty. 

Being the extraordinary boss that I am, I immediately started laughing and taking as many pictures as I could before the clean up started.  And now for your viewing pleasure, the day that will be fondly remembered in 'GRAZE - a place to eat' history as "the chipolte incident".

It hit everything...

...the ceiling...

...across the entire cook area...

... into the dining area...

... it was awesome!

Monday, October 18, 2010


The difference between my camera phone and the professional photographer's lens is well... jaw dropping.  Photos from Brenda and Keith's Wedding Reception.  Courtesy of Wilton Photography.

Summer's finest.  All purchased at the farmer's market Saturday Morning and prepared for 200+ guests Saturday Night.  Sweet corn saute, zuchinni, basil, Maria's perfect cherry tomatoes. 
Prime rib.  Don't you hate grey prime rib, thats what you get when its cut too hot, and placed in a chafing dish.  We carve ours in back, keep it warm with a heat lamp, cook it between medium rare and medium, and serve it on a crisp white platter.  Salt and herb cured for three days prior to service... we don't gloat... but yeah its probably the best prime rib in town... by a longshot.
 Kimi's Rockstar Salad Mix, and just cut vegetables with a couple of side dressings.  Kimi is the proprietor of Stone's Throw Farm... amazing salad greens.
Ron's green beans, sun dried tomatoes, toasted almonds, parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, golden garlic.  Do you have any idea how long it takes to trim and blanch 40 lbs of green beans?  Answer... too long.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

fun stuff

The last few weeks we have done some fun stuff.  Mostly winery thingamabobbers and whatchamacallits.  A trip up the hill and dinner in a gazebo for Cadaretta, family style dinner at Dunham, appetizers at Longshadows, buffet at Waters, plated dinner at Amavi (poor JF, the winemaker for Pepperbridge, I think he ate at three dinners of ours in four days, and had a few sandwiches in there as well), wedding in Dayton, and ran all over Walla Walla delivering sandwiches. 

Here are some random photos.

 The Cadaretta gazebo built on some vineyard property (near the Seven Hills Vineyard on the Oregon side of the border).  The gazebo at sunset and the inside of it setting up for dinner.
 Brian's paper thin crostinis with white bean arrabiatta and seared shrimp.
A special at the sandwich shop.  Grandpa's favorite sandwich was a huge slice of tomato from his garden, lots of mayo, salt and pepper, and a fat slice of raw onion.  We upscaled it a bit... I still think his is better.
So this picture looks pretty horrid.  It is tiramisu we served for the Washigton Wine Commision field trip to Walla Walla.  We did a family style dinner for 70 guests, and finished up with this dessert.  I swear this picture doesn't do it justice.  We don't normally make dessert... but we are starting to rethink that with our tiramisu.
Same deal.  This looks bad right.  But it was killer.  We cut yellow, green and red heirloom tomatoes in half, removed the seeds, stuffed them with fresh mozzarella, egg washed the cut sides, and breaded them with panko bread crumbs, then shallow pan fried the breaded side, then flipped them and roasted them on the grill to just get them warm, then drizzled pesto over the top.  You will never want to have a regular caprese salad again after eating these.
The view of Walla Walla from the Cadaretta Vineyard site.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Summer is dead... Long live the Summer

Ask any farmer, vineyard manager, gardener, and avid farmer's market shopper and he or she will tell you 2010 was not your typical Walla Walla growing season.  Spring was cold and long.  Summer was mild and never really showed up until late July.  I think July 4th recorded a high of 84! (shocking considering our first four July 4ths as Walla Walla residents came in at 102, 104, 108, and around 119, or at least they felt that way)  And when our summer heat finally did arrive it didn't come with any gusto, every night cooled considerably, which seems to be a major contributor to tomato ripening (or at least that what my farmer friends say).  So here we are, the last days of September, a couple of weeks later than usual for grape harvest and crush, and the weather is just a perfect 80 everyday, with pleasant nights, and those tomatoes I dream about in July are here in abundance... and all I want is for this to last for at least another month.  That seems fair considering how inconsistent our weather has been this year.

My favorite tomato photo of the year.

Heirloom roma tomato, oven dried, on a wafer thin crostini, extra virgin olive oil, and a couple of leaves of fresh thyme.  Boring to look at, fantastic to eat.  We were going to serve these with a bit of goat cheese... glad we didn't, they were so clean tasting served so simply.

Fresh picked local corn soup, thyme cream, and prosciutto bits.  I told Brian (the cook) to infuse some cream with a ridiculous amount of fresh thyme.  It was so powerful the cream was faintly green, and by itself tasted rather medicinal and unpleasant.  But as a component for the smooth sweet corn soup it was perfect.

So we have been obsessed with tomatoes and watermelons ever since we did a large salad for a wedding in July.  This was our sixth or seventh version of the paring done for a wine dinner.  We blanched and peeled all the cherry tomatoes, flash fried some sweet cayenne peppers, splashed some extra virgin and kosher salt, and drizzled the whole thing with some balsamic glaze (which is the part I would rather take back) and a tiny dash of smoked paprika. 

The most lovely kitchen assistant I have ever had.  This little lady (who is also my little lady) came to Terra Blanca Winery with me for a cooking demonstration/class.  She was a big help, and looks super cute in the Graze apron.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Well Now....

Summer has been a blast.  It has been so long since our last post we might as well do a summary.  Since June we have done 18 Walla Walla Weddings, ranging from down home country cookouts to three course plated affairs; numerous conpany events, and lots of medium and little stuff.  Here are some photos from the last two months.
Took the boy to his first Mariners game... they lost in 13 innings... he cried.
Our version of dessert, cobbler, or we make brownies, or we cut pre-made cheesecake.... or we order it from the patisserie.
We tie, salt, and herb all our roasts for three days.  Tenderloin headed to the oven.
Tracy our Event Manager tending the buffet.
One of my favorite things to make, gravalax.  Three days with salt, sugar, lemon, gin, and dill.  Served with creme fraiche, capers, and fresh dill, stunningly good.
Pork loin bone in, coriander, fennel, garlic.  Possibly the best thing we make.  Rice salad, japanese black rice, basmati, sauteed red peppers, carrots, marjoram, parsley, red wine vinaigrette
Stuffed portabella mushrooms, sauteed zuchinni, red peppers, roast garlic, melted provolone, roasted portabella.  Awesome.
The evolution of a dish.  Tomato and watermelon salad with balsamic reduction, and chive sticks.  Super yummy.  And then we needed an intermezzo for a wine dinner, so we reduced it to a single skewer, blanched and peeled the cherry tomato, and sat the seedless watermelon in a tiny pool of balsamic glaze.  A touch of kosher salt and extra virgin olive oil and we were in business.
Seared shrimp, white bean arrabiatta crostini.  Needs a bit of minced parsley to really make it pop, don't you think. 
Our first wedding reception at Waterbrook Winery.  240 guests for appetizers.  A lovely day.