I have a friend called Bob.  Bob and I go way back.  He lives in France & he talks funny, although he is really another escapee Brit.   Bob is a Potter.  I mean a real, live, full-time, professional Potter.  And while he may be an artist, he is certainly never starving.  When he’s not doing Demi Moore impressions on his potter’s wheel or firing pots in his enormous kilns, you’ll find him in his country kitchen, whipping up some tasty morsels.  He often feeds half the village, from what I can gather.

I remember the first time that Bob cooked me a meal made with minced (ground) beef.  I was astonished to discover (after eating platefuls of grey slop at home – my brother also remembers this horror well) that beef is actually brown.  And flavorful.  And, dare I say it, can make a terribly delicious dish.

So when Bob was making pie the other week, I got all nostalgic.  Then I remembered that I could count on one hand the number of pounds of ground beef I had purchased since I’d been stateside.  And the more I thought about Bob’s pie, the more I wanted to eat it.  Only Bob, as I said, is in France.  So if I was going to have Bob’s pie, I’d have to make the darn thing myself.  So I did.  This recipe will feed a family of six.  Consequently, it fed me for 6 days in a row.  Bob did suggest that I make it in individual portions and freeze most of them.  Sometimes Bob is right.  Like in this case.  However, because Bob is not always right, I didn’t listen.  I now wish I had.

Anyway.  Without further ado, here’s Bob’s pie, which I have renamed Potter’s Pie, because, after all, Bob is a {fabulous} Potter. 

Potter’s Pie (adapted from Bob the Potter’s recipe)

  • 2½ lbs potatoes (peeled or not as you prefer)
  • 4 oz salted butter
  • 1/2 lb grated cheese
  • 1 lb ground (minced) lean beef
  • 4 oz bacon
  • 1/2 lb carrots
  • 1/2 lb onions
  • 1 tin of beans in tomato sauce / Baked Beans
  • Tomato Ketchup
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • Salt & pepper

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender.

Chop the bacon, the onions and the carrots (I grated the carrot because I like small pieces), and cook gently in olive oil in a large saucepan (skillet) until the onions have softened.

Add the minced beef, season with salt & pepper and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, turning frequently.

Add the beans, stock cube, and the tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce to taste.  I used about ½ cup ketchup & 4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, but you can add more or less depending on how you like it.

Stir & simmer over a low heat for around 20 minutes adjusting the seasoning to taste.  Stir frequently to ensure even cooking & stop the mixture sticking to the pan.

By now the potatoes will be cooked.  Mash them with the salted butter.

Pour the beef mixture into a deep oven dish.  PS. Bob said to tell you that if you don’t have a deep oven dish you can get a very lovely one here.  They ship internationally & have quite a following.

Cover the beef mixture with the mashed potato and cover the potato with the grated cheese.

Heat in a pre-heated oven at 450º F for around 15 minutes or until the cheese is browned & bubbling.

You can also make this in advance.  After you have put the potatoes on top of the beef mixture, cover with plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate.  When you want to eat it, remove the plastic wrap, cover with the grated cheese & cook in a pre-heated over at 450º F for around 50 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbling.

I like to eat Potter’s Pie with peas.  A big green salad would also be lovely.

Thanks, Bob.  That was one awesome pie.

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Having just completed the final meal of the official Big Breakfast Adventure a few weeks ago, I felt it only right & proper that I should return to the spot where I kicked it all off:  Anita’s Crepes.  I invited a different blond to join me this time, although really she is a recently converted brunette.  Joany looks great blond, but then she always was an {annoyingly} cute girl.  She was also wearing the cutest black leather pointy-toed boots.  I wish I’d snapped a shot of them.  If you don’t swoon over the food, you’d probably have swooned over those boots.

Joany and I just never have any problem talking.  For hours.  We could talk until the proverbial cows come home.  Today was no exception.  I picked the very corner-iest table so we might escape detection for having sat there for a very long time.  I did eat two meals in order to keep our lovely server from getting bored or annoyed.  She appeared to do neither, and was really rather jolly.  Anita herself swung by a few times too, and stopped at one point to oooh and ahhh over Joany’s bracelet.  Mercy.  Between the cuteness, the pointy-toed boots & the eye-catching bracelet, I was starting to feel a bit like the bag lady.

First up was really not breakfast at all, but I just could not get past the whole mushroom yumminess, calling me from the menu.  Enter the Roasted Chicken and Wild Mushroom Crepe: house roasted chicken, fresh mozzarella and organic baby spinach with a wild mushroom sauce ($12).  It’s not the prettiest looking dish in the world, but I tell ya, that *wild* mushroom sauce sure made up for any lack in the good looks department.

I’ve decided that crepes transcend all the rules about what time of day to eat what kind of food.

To be honest, I am not sure I felt like I had eaten a crepe, but who really cares when the flavors are as good as these were?

Joany went with the Breakfast Crepe: free range egg, two sausage links, cabot extra sharp cheddar, organic baby arugula, tomatoes, potatoes and mornay sauce ($10).  She was enthralled with it from the first bite to the last lick of her lips.  The crepe was buried under a lot of greenery, just in case you look at this and go, “Crepe?  Where’s the crepe?”  Trust us when we tell you it was there.  And it was awesome.

Joany was especially enamoured with the mornaypart of the proceedings.  Guess I’ll be going back to Anita’s again to try that now.

There had been several cups of coffee & mugs of Peppermint Tea swilled down by this point, on top of all the {awesome} creperie.  However, that did not stop me from ordering another crepe.  I had warned Joany before we even opened the menu that I was in a two-meal-kind-of-a mood.  There were too many scrumptious sounding choices to appoint ‘The One’, so I finally went with the write-up that made Joany’s eyes roll around in her head – the Nutella and Banana Crepe: nutella and banana garnished with chantilly and dusted with powdered sugar ($9).

Yeah.  I know.

Yes.  It was.

And that’s really all that needs to be said.  One year on…Anita’s Crepes is still the place to go for a splendid crepe-fest.  Anytime of the day.

Anita

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  • When The Magic Happens » Foodie Footnotes - […] with the same style & flair as their recipes were created with.  Anna could take a leaf out of Anita’s book, or La Cote’s, for some ideas.  Then Anna’s crepes would be spectacular.  Even the […] ReplyCancel

Somehow, 7 weeks ago, I found myself being {heavily} cajoled onto the Steering Committee for a major photography side-project at work.  I am still wondering how that happened.  I seem to remember that it involved Pecan Pie.  This Pecan Pie, in fact.  I am also still wondering why it happened.  But, it did, and I’m there on the team & I must say I have laughed out loud an awful lot since this whole thing got started.  They might be a bunch of techie-types but they sure have a {fantastic} sense of humor lurking beneath all that grey matter.

It’s very interesting being the token girl on a committee of male photogs.  And when you all go out to dinner & those male photogs are all watching you shoot images of your food, it gets downright scary.  Especially when you (and they) know you are committing some cardinal sins of photography, right there at the table.  At least, and probably because I am the token girl, they refrained from passing judgement out loud.  Thank you.  Hopefully they will also refrain from doing “C & C” on my images publicly in the comments section below.  Thank you.

So there we were, a week or so back, in Brix Wine Cafe in Kirkland.  We were celebrating the end of our first significant milestone.  A milestone in which, I might add, we “…blew the doors off the hinges”.  That Charlie has a way with words sometimes.  Turns out Charlie’s suggestion for the private dining room at Brix Wine Cafe was also a particularly good one.  Thanks Charlie!

This dinner was totally about connecting with each other and really nothing to do with the food, so this post will be short.  And terrified as I was to be shooting in front of the rest of the committee, I just kept myself & my gear to my two little plates & left it at that. 

I chose two appetizers instead of one entree since I needed lettuce but I wanted serious comfort food.  Enter Brix Mac & Cheese (White cheddar, pecorino, truffle oil & bacon, $9) and Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad (Hazelnuts, goat cheese & sherry vinaigrette, $8).  The menu had a bunch of stuff that I’d be happy to try at another time.  I’d call it Italian American.

We talked shop all night.  We had had a particularly sticky issue come up on email the week before which felt like it had the potential to derail us, so huddling in a room with several bottles of wine and some good food seemed like a great way to get us back on track.  Worked like a charm.

Email can be such a heartless means of communication.  Intentions are mis-understood, meanings are not clear, tone of voice is often not apparent or mis-read.  Our dinner was a different story all together.  We laughed.  A lot.  Ah, the power of friendship, food & a few jiggers of the fun stuff.  Not that I drink, but I laughed anyway.  They’re a crazy bunch. 

The private dining room at Brix is a wonderful space for 8 – 12 people.  The service is great & the food is both beautiful to look at & tasty to eat.  It is very reasonably priced & would make a great place for a casual dinner any night of the week.  It’s in a cute neighborhood & parking is free.  I will definitely be organizing some other soirees at Brix in the future.  The staff were happy to let us hang out & carry on laughing, even after the last plate had been cleared & the check paid – which Kevin & Daniel picked up – THANKS GUYS!

Good food, fantastic company.  No better way to spend a Monday night.

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Social networking is alive & kicking in my {tiny} little corner of the world.  There’s this cute chick called Julie who lives in New York.  I have never met her.  And yet, today I had a brilliant brunch with 3 of Julie’s gorgeous girlfriends, right here in Seattle;  well, to be precise, Fremont, but who knows where that is if you don’t happen to live here?  Anyway, Julie introduced us all on email, I invited everyone to breakfast and then the next thing we know we’re all sitting in the 35th Street Bistro eating brunch & chatting up a storm.

Elizabeth and I were there, outside the door, before it even opened.  We went in anyway.  And my new galpal had decided, before we even got to the table, that she needed to have the Mac ‘n’ Cheese with bacon & artichoke.  It was chalked up on the specials board, and I must say – we’d only just met but we clearly share a brain when it comes to Mac ‘n’ Cheese.  Sometimes trying to keep focused on the breakfast foods while gazing at a brunch menu is more strenuous than it might seem.  Much as I love breakfast, I’ve been all over Mac ‘n’ Cheese lately, and having it there, screaming at me from the chalkboard did nothing to aid my breakfast intentions.

Elizabeth & I got some hot drinks started while we waited for Laura & Nazy to join us.  The menu was bewildering.  The server was persuasive.

Laura came next, and then Nazy, flustered by last minute Realtor phone calls & trying to find a parking space on Fremont’s busiest cross-street.  Where “remind-me-which-streets-are-one-way” meets “traffic-light-pandemonium”.

Elizabeth took charge of ordering Mac ‘n’ Cheese for the table.  The table didn’t put up a struggle.

It was {by far} the most delicious Mac ‘n’ Cheese I’ve had since the Fred, Ginger & the Budgie Smugglers episode.  I would quite happily have eaten the whole darn dishful, but, since I was on my best behavior, I restrained myself.

Ordering was hard.  One, because the menu had so many crazy-good sounding dishes on it and two, because we all just wanted to get on with the bonding.  So in between the “so what do you do’s” & the “where do you live’s” & the whole kids and pets thing, we finally managed to get some tasty-sounding morsels ordered.  Laura & Nazy couldn’t decide, so they ordered a

Toast de Français avec Brioche ($10)Brioche French Toast, Mascarpone Cream, Maple Syrup

and

Oeufs Benedict ($14) – Eggs, French Ham, Served with Sauce Béarnaise, Brunch Potatoes & Small Salad

and split both between them.  {Very} good thinking.

I went round & round the menu like a demented fly trying to find a way out of a hot kitchen, but eventually landed on the Oeufs en Muerette ($13) – Poached Eggs, Brioche, Bacon Lardons, Crimini, Red Wine Sauce, Small Bistro Salad.  It was good.  It didn’t have near the depth or complexity of flavor of Cafe Campagne’s rendition, but it was a perfectly tasty plateful for a sunny Saturday morning.   It also didn’t include fois gras like Campagne’s, but I didn’t hold that against it.  Well, OK, maybe I did, a little.

By the time we had got all our food we were well under way with our various hysterical stories of Match.com moments.  “I know I am 70, but I am a *really* young 70 & I only look 40″ appeared to be a common swan song.  Along with innumerable tales of incredulous first dates where we were all left thinking, “Are you SURE you’re the same person as the one who wrote that profile & sent all those witty, charming, beautiful emails?  Really?  Because apart from the fact that your hair is the same color as the photo (what you have left of it, that is), I would swear that you are a completely different life-form.  Either that or you are a sociopath, a manic-depressive or maybe just in complete denial.  About everything.”

We laughed.  A lot.

Elizabeth decided on another version of the Oeufs Benedict – choosing the House Made Garlic Sausage over the French Ham, Roasted Tomato or Prosciutto.

We toasted our new friendships.  Here’s to strong, beautiful, sassy, intelligent girlfriends & a whole lot of laughter.  The girls had various cocktails.  I had Peppermint Tea; although looking at this shot of Elizabeth’s Bloody Mary you’d be forgiven for thinking that I had had a few slurps of something stronger.  Just like earlier with the breakfast foods – my focusing was decidedly off.

35th Streeet Bistro is an adorable spot for brunch.  Good food, lovely ambiance, shabby chic decor & slightly forthright servers.  It’s definitely on my list of places to head back to.  There were more than a few things on that menu that my mouth wanted to sink it’s teeth into.

Now, where to go and get some pastries for dessert?  Happy Saturday!

35th Street Bistro Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Uh oh.  Deja vu.  As I sat in Sage Organic Bakery & Cafe up on Capital Hill with Deanna from The Old Hen today, taking a shot of her fabulously lush-looking vegan brownie with vanilla cream, my lovely friend said, “Is that it?  You just take one shot to get those fantastic pics on your blog?”  Yikes.  I remember what happened last time someone uttered those words to me.  It wasn’t pretty.  And it ended up costing me dosh.  Plus a tiny dent in my self-esteem.

Phew.  No re-runs required today.  Not that I would have minded a re-run to Sage Cafe, but more about that later.

Deanna and I have been trying to align our respective calendars for quite a while; at least 3 months.  But today was the day.  We finally got to have lunch.  I was just coming off a 70-hours-in-4-days work week.  A great week, but a long, busy week.  Wednesday night I slept on a cloud (aka the comfiest bed in the world) on the 4th floor of the Heathman Hotel, which although blissful, made the week seem even longer, somehow.

After I got home from the office at 10 pm last night I fell into {my own} bed & made the {normally disastrous} decision to not set my alarm.  I knew that would mean that I’d miss THE Wedding, but, honestly, having grown up in England & being raised on Royal Weddings, it’s really only the frocks & the faces that change.  Everything else is pretty much the same.  I planned to catch up via BBC Online whenever it was that I woke up.  Consequently, my Friday went sideways before it even started.  I finally rolled out of bed around 7:30, stumbled down to my desk & fired up the laptop.  Then, before I knew it, it was 9:30 & I had but an hour to get dressed & head out the door for lunch.  This is also known as “getting nothing done”.  I hate when that happens.

It was interesting going to Capital Hill later than 8 am & on a Friday.  However, I am beginning to see yet another advantage to the whole breakfast thing.  Parking.  Thank goodness I thought to bring my shoe-horn with me, otherwise I might still be there, jammed between that big green Chevy Tahoe & the rusty red Ford Explorer.  Sage Cafe is a couple doors down from Smith where I had a fabulous Full English Breakfast last year.  Quite fitting that I should be almost back there on Royal Wedding Day.  I wonder what Kate had for her last breakfast as Miss Middleton, the commoner?  Maybe she just left space for all those smoked salmon sarnies coming her way later on at Buck House.

 When I strolled up, Sage Cafe was empty apart from the darling Deanna.  I am glad we got there early though, since it wasn’t long before the place was packed.  And strangely, a lot of the customers were wearing scrubs.  Is that a sign?

We perched at one of the tiny tables & began to peruse the menu.  Deanna had predicted via Twitter that I would have Hot Chocolate.  Alas, Sage has no hot drinks on offer.  None.

Enter fancy pants Root Beer.  I do love stuff that comes in glass bottles.

It was as we searched the menu for something familiar that it slowly dawned on us that we were in vegan territory.  I knew Sage was organic, but I had somehow missed the whole vegan part.  Deanna tweeted that she was scared.  We still kept hoping that under one of the enticing sandwich names – The Bacon Burger, The Crazy Jamaican Burger & The Fremont Philly – we would find some meat lurking.  Or maybe some cheese.  Or, in fact, anything that used to be alive & either clucking or mooing.  Turns out the menu is a total bait & switch.  There were some strange words floating around on it too.  Like seitan.  Who knew?  We asked our tiny server what was good on the menu.  She pointed out various things that she liked, but really, we were still lost.

Until I took my first bite of this.

And Deanna took her first bite of this.

And, almost in an instant, we were both thinking, “Wow.  If this vegan food tastes like this all the time, I could be converted.”

Seriously.  Good.  Food.

Deanna’s Chipotle Grill ($10.00) – baked tempeh on grilled rye bread with avocados, beefsteak tomatoes, caramelized purple onions, cilantro, and chipotle mayo – was a huge hit, except that it was a little too spicy hot for her delicate little lips.

My Portobello ($11.00 ) – a smoked portobello mushroom and seitan on a small patella bun with caramelized onions, tomatoes, sweet peppers, lettuce, and vegan portobello sauce – was a drippy, messy, beast of a burger.  With no meat.  Turns out I didn’t miss the meat part at all.  It all went slip-sliding away pretty quick because no matter how hard I tried I just could not hold the whole thing together while I attempted to get my chompers around it.  I didn’t care.  Every piece was delicious.   And that grain “salad” that came on the side…I could have polished off a huge old bowl of that stuff.  Yum.

Then came the dessert goodies.  I was tempted by the Pear & Ricotta Tofu Crêpes ($12.00) with spiced maple butter sauce, but was also wowed by the display of cupcakes by the till.  Deanna honed in on the Chocolate Brownies.  I settled on the Vanilla Cupcake with Raspberry & Mint.  The cafe was a little warm for the frosting, hence the frosting-slide.

Honestly, I am not sure what the cakes were – vegan, gluten-free or both.  What I do know is that they were good.  Really good.

 We had a short exchange on what the frosting could be made of if it wasn’t made of milk, cheese, eggs, butter, shortening or anything else animal-y.  The exchange was short because we were stumped.  A few minutes on the Internet just now revealed that there are such things as vegan margarine & non-dairy cream cheese.  Who knew?

We also had a short exchange about hot chocolate & how Deanna wouldn’t know a good one if it hit her on the head.  The exchange was short because that was the only encouragement that I needed to suggest we relocate to Cafe Presse so that Deanna could become intimately involved with the mother of all Chocolat Chauds in Seattle.

I don’t believe there’s a need for words.

 This turned out to be a most splendid lunch.  I can even say that I am excited to eat vegan food again, and that is something that I never thought would happen to me.  Ever.  Given that Sage is the first vegan restaurant that I have eaten in, I have nothing to compare it to.  I still say that it would be difficult to top the vegan burger I ate there today.

Sage Cafe: Changer Of Minds.  Let’s hope Will & Kate don’t change theirs.

 Sage Organic Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

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  • Lorraine - Great post. Everything looks delicious! Love it all…and I’ve decided I need to make a special trip to Seattle just for the Chocolat Chauds! Oh, and Deanna’s hand…picture perfect!ReplyCancel

  • cb - That girl has lovely nails :-) In fact, she’s all round lovely, I’ve found.

    Thanks for stopping by. I hope you get to stop by Cafe Presse soon. Make sure to ask for Chocolat Chaud & not Hot Chocolate – they have both and they are completely different. Come back and let me know how you enjoyed it!ReplyCancel

  • » Foodie Footnotes - […] this Bellevue Square Italian before.  Our last great adventure into an unknown eaterie had been a roaring success.  Walking into a restaurant in the busy-as-always Bellevue Square at 6 pm, & finding it […] ReplyCancel

  • French Chocolat Chaud | The Old Hen Bed & Breakfast and The Old Hen Recipe Blog - […] me, it happened on August 19th, 2011. My friend and I were speaking bloggish over surprisingly delicious vegan sandwiches and I was […]ReplyCancel