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Roche Harbor’s Finest

by Bill Shaw

Roche Harbor kitchens are cruising full speed ahead into August with a wedding nearly every day and a full marina, with more boats at anchor waiting to get in. Farmers have their haymaking season, and this is our time “to make hay.” The resort is working at full capacity to welcome our guests and exceed their expectations. McMillin’s Dining Room opened on June 25, just in time for the Canada Day Independence Day weekend, with a new kitchen and a stylishly remodeled dining room.

The new menu is a celebration of guests’ favorites; Potato Crusted Weathervane Scallops, Maytag Blue Cheese Salad, Dungeness Crab & Artichoke Dip, Asiago Crusted Petrale Sole, and of course, our slow-roasted Prime Rib. For dessert, there is Yellow Brick Road Black Berry Cobbler. Also on the menu are many new items that I want to share with all of you this August.

The first is a Northwest classic, wild Alaska Chinook salmon roasted on cedar plank. The aromatic roasted cedar combined with the rich flavor of the wild salmon and accompanied by roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes and herbed fingerling potatoes is a dish that celebrates the bounty of the Northwest.

Next is our new summer baby spinach salad. This delicious side includes spinach from our farm, strawberries, goat cheese, avocado, pecans, and our poppy seed dressing.

Last but not least is the Oysters Roosevelt, a homage to the late president’s alleged visit to Roche Harbor. The freshly shucked oysters come from our neighbor Westcott Bay Shellfish Company and filled with a cream mixture of spinach, bacon, mushrooms, and aged white cheddar cheese, then topped with a mushroom and parmesan crumble, and baked golden brown.

I want to thank all our readers that have introduced themselves to me this summer as I move from kitchen to kitchen throughout the day. Your thoughts and comments are inspiring.

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Serves 6 small starter salads

  • 12 ounces fresh baby spinach, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1 cup poppy seed dressing (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup strawberries, washed and cut into quarters lengthwise
  • 2 each avocadoes, cut into bite size pieces
  • 6 ounces goat cheese crumbles (can substitute feta)
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted whole


  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard, yellow
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon white onion, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions: For dressing, add sugar, mustard, vinegar, and onion in a blender and puree for 30 seconds on high. While the blender is running, slowly drizzle oil in a steady stream until the dressing become thick. Add poppy seeds and season to taste with salt.

Sort through the spinach and remove any stems or unwanted leaves, then wash in cold water. Dry leaves with paper towels.

In large bowl, combine spinach, strawberries, avocado, and half of the goat cheese crumbles. Pour the dressing over the spinach mixture, then toss gently until the leaves are thoroughly coated.

Mound the dressed spinach in the center of a chilled platter, keeping the spinach light and fluffy. Garnish with goat cheese crumbles and toasted pecans over the top of salad

Oysters Roosevelt

Oysters Roosevelt

Serves 6 as an appetizer

In honor of President Theodore Roosevelt’s anticipated visit to Roche Harbor on July 13, 1906, McMillin’s kitchen staff prepared a banquet featuring a bounty of Northwest seafood with roasted oysters as a starter course. While the original recipe has been lost, I have recreated a roasted oyster recipe inspired by the visit of an American icon and the Roche Harbor chefs before me.

  • 2 dozen medium oysters, freshly shucked (3-4 inches in length)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 strips bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons mushroom, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon celery, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cream
  • ¼ cup, spinach, stems removed, chopped ½”
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon white cheddar, grated
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 2 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon pernod (anise liqueur)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Parmesan, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Directions: Preheat oven to 400˚. Use the convection feature if your oven is equipped.

Shuck each oyster and discard the flat topside of shell. Keep the oyster upright and do not allow any of the oyster nectar to escape from the cup of the shell. Using the oyster knife, slide the blade under the oyster and separate the muscle from the bottom cup of shell, then flip the oyster over to ensure that the muscle is separated. Spread rock salt over the baking sheet to rest the oysters on in the upright position.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, melt butter, then add bacon. Cook bacon until half of the fat is rendered. Add onion, mushrooms, celery, and garlic, then sauté for 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over the bacon mixture, then stir and cook for another minute. Add cream and continue cooking until the mixture thickens.

Add spinach and remove from heat. Add Parmesan and cheddar, then stir to combine.

Season with salt, pepper, Tabasco, and Pernod, then stir to combine.
Combine breadcrumbs, mushrooms, Parmesan, parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Melt butter and add to breadcrumb mixture. Stir with a fork to create a crumbly mixture.

Top each oyster with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cream sauce, followed by one tablespoon of the bread crumb mixture. Place stuffed oysters on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown and cream begins to bubble. Serve immediately with cold beer.

Chef’s Notes: This recipe is a montage of all the great oyster recipes I have enjoyed over the years; but in particular, it’s inspired by the famed Oysters Rockefeller, so rich it was named for the famed oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, and was first served in 1889 at Antoine’s in New Orleans.

Antoine’s has not changed the recipe since that time, and while the recipe is a guarded secret, after I ate several on a chef’s trip to the Big Easy, I deduced the ingredients. It is basically an oyster on the half shell, topped with finely chopped parsley, chives, and a green onion cream sauce flavored with Pernod, an anise-flavored liqueur.

The oyster is topped with bread crumbs, then oven baked or broiled to golden-brown, bubbling goodness. Antoine’s offers a variety of other baked oysters on the menu that are equally amazing.

Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon

Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon

Serves 6 entrees

  • 3 lbs. fresh wild salmon (Chinook, coho, or sockeye) with skin on, and pin bones removed
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry Tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dry Basil
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 15” x 8” x 1½” Cedar Plank (Use cedar plank cut from natural cedars from your local lumber yard. Use only untreated cedar lumber.)

Directions: Inspect each salmon filet and remove any pin bones and rib bones. Leaving the skin on the filet adds flavor and healthy omega 3 oils. Cut the salmon filets into long strips from the top of the filet to the belly.

In a small bowl, combine paprika, lemon pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, tarragon, basil, salt, and brown sugar. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the seasoning blend over each strip. Place the seasoned salmon unwrapped in the refrigerator and allow to cure for up to 4 hours.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, white wine, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley. Reserve for basting salmon after cooking.

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Place seasoned and cured salmon on cedar plank with a 1-2” gap between each steak. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the salmon strips are 125˚. Remove from oven and baste with olive oil mixture.

Options: Add parboiled potatoes or fresh vegetables on the plank with the salmon for a cedar plank meal.

Chef’s Note: Curing salmon with a dry salt and sugar brine over a few hours adds flavor to the interior of the salmon and creates a salty exterior crust that seals in the natural juices.

Ceder Plank Knowledge: If you can purchase a cedar plank from the web or a gourmet kitchen store, follow the instructions given and disregard the following:

“Cleaning: Planks should be cleaned manually and never be placed in the dishwasher. After use, quickly rinse off with hot water to remove any debris. Wash planks with warm, soapy water and rinse with cold water. Set on edge and allow to dry completely.”


Photos by Jack Riley

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