A Taste of the San Juan County Fair
Each year in mid-August I trade in my white chef toque for a cowboy hat as the San Juan County Livestock Superintendent. Housing and feeding chickens, rabbits, lamb, goats, pigs, and cows from all the San Juan Islands can be a daunting task, but with the help of 4-H youth and parents, we put on a great show for the thousands of guests that come each year.
Each year I look forward to the new food trucks that show up, but I must admit that I have developed a predictable pattern of eating. This involves quick meals that I can eat on the run, and the corn dog is high on the list, but not the frozen kind that they sell in the stores. My ultimate corn dog is an all-beef frank pierced with a wood stick, dipped in fresh corn batter and fried crisp, then painted with French’s yellow mustard. The barbeque pork ribs with sweet and tangy sauce and the Thai noodle shack are some of my favorites, but for dessert I pass on the elephant ears and head straight to the PTA pie booth.
Each day, these dedicated moms turn out some of the most amazing pies and cobblers; Bluebarb (a combination of rhubarb and blueberries), lavender-scented peach, front porch blackberry, and heavenly apple with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. While I did not give you my corn dog recipe this month, I wanted to share some mouthwatering recipes inspired by the fair and all the wonderful people that make it so special.
Chop Chop Noodle Salad
Each year, guests eagerly await the opening the Madrona Bar and Grill and one of the most requested items is the Chop Chop Noodle salad. This salad was inspired by my late-night craving for leftover Chinese take-out chow mien. The noodles are an essential ingredient — as is the miso vinaigrette — in this salad and are made locally at Seattle’s Tsue Chong Company and available in Asian specialty stores. One morning, I was picking up these prized noodles in Seattle’s Chinatown and a woman at the desk asked me “Why are you buying so many noodles?” I explained to her that they went into a very popular salad. “SALAD,” she yelled and laughed at the thought of it. As I explained our noodle salad to her, she looked at me with complete confusion at the thought of such a thing, but thanked me for buying her noodles. During the summer we go through almost 300 lbs. of these fabulous noodles each week.
Makes 4 Entrée Salads
Directions: In a large bowl combine romaine, Napa cabbage, purple cabbage, cilantro, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, Hong Kong noodles, and miso vinaigrette. Gently toss the ingredients and coat with the miso vinaigrette. Divide the dressed greens and noodles equally onto four chilled dinner plates. Build the height of the salad up like a volcano.
Top the center salad with the shrimp, crab, and chicken. Arrange the avocado around the outer edge of the salad. Garnish with almonds, cilantro, and Shoga ginger.
Makes 2 cups
Directions: Dissolve miso in vinegar and reserve. Combine and mix together the sugar and egg yolks in a separate bowl and reserve. Using a food processor, combine and blend together the miso-vinegar mixture, sugar-egg yolk mix, black pepper, kosher salt and water. While food processor is running, slowly pour peanut oil into processing miso mixture until dressing is emulsified or has become thick, creamy and a consistent light golden color.
Wild Bill’s Huckleberry Barbeque
Fresh Island Berry Cobbler
Blackberries do not make the best pies but they are perfect for cobblers. The English dessert was given the name cobbler because after cooking, the top of the dessert resembled the cobblestone streets in the 1800s. Roche Harbor’s “Yellow Brick Road” in front of the historic Hotel De Haro is cobbled together with yellow firebricks pulled from the Lime Kilns, resembling this dessert.
Directions: In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. Cut butter into ¼-inch cubes and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Add cold butter cubes to dry mixture, and mix until butter is the size of chickpeas. Note: You still want to see small chunks of butter. Add buttermilk and mix just until the dough comes together. Allow to rest.
Using a large heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat, add blackberries and sugar, bring to a slow boil. In a small bowl combine Chambord, Grand Marnier and cornstarch, then add to boiling berries. Allow to thicken, then remove from the heat and add fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Using a 10-ounce baking dish, add 4 oz. of blackberry mixture to each baking dish, then top each cobbler with the cobbler dough mixture by tearing bits of the dough into irregular shapes, creating an irregular pattern of dough that covers the entire top of the baking dish. Note the small cracks in the top allow the berry juice to bubble through the dough.
Top each cobbler with 2 tablespoons of random splashes of the berry mixture. Sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar over the top of each cobbler. Place cobblers on a sheet pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until the cobbler dough is fully cooked. Test by inserting a toothpick into the cooked dough. If it comes out clean, the cobblers are ready. Serve hot from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.