With 13 restaurants and bakeries in Seattle, a farm, a radio show and cookbook, you could call Tom Douglas the king of the food scene there. The James Beard Foundation named him the 2012 best restaurateur in the U.S.
Here are Tom's Key 3, as told to Lynne:
Get back in making a little effort, your family deserves it, your friends deserve it. If you want to watch American Idol, put a TV in the kitchen -- but take some time to cook.
We all grow up with soup, and having one that transitions through mom and through you to your kids is a great thing to have at your disposal. My mom’s came out of a Campbell’s can. My tomatoes are now coming out of a can because it’s not tomato season. I’ve transitioned from a can of soup to a can of tomatoes.
In tasting these tomatoes, they just need a touch of sugar, not very much. You can always test your tomatoes and find out what your sugar add is. You don’t want sweet and sour tomato soup, that’s not what we’re going for.
With tomatoes, I would buy one of each of [a local grocery store’s] tomato cans. It might be a $10 investment to get their selection. Take them home, open them up, and decide which one you like the best. Most of the tomatoes are canned at the end of the season. They are in that can for the year. It’s not like in May you are going to get a different tomato than you get in February. That gives you a way to taste and find the best tomato in your market. It’s only a $10 effort and it’s fun.
If you are reduced to dry herbs, I would put the oregano in [the sauté] and let it balance itself out. If you by chance have fresh herbs in your garden, then I finish with the oregano because I don’t want to cook out that beautiful, floral aroma.
I’m adding a little bit of cream, and I like it for mouth feel. For me, when I eat a tomato soup without any cream, it’s a little bit acidic on the tongue. The cream just knocks that back just a touch.
When your tomatoes are packed in cans, you will see that these are whole, peeled tomatoes. Sometimes they are packed with water, sometimes they are packed in tomato concentrate. You need to use the water to thin it down from stew to soup. It could be that you don’t need anything.
I used to think [the immersion blender] was the most unneeded tool in the kitchen. Now I just love it. You could take this very same pot of soup and try and scoop it into the blender. You have the risk of getting it into the blender, when you hit the “on” button and when you pour it out of getting burned by hot soup. The immersion blender just goes right into the pan.
When I was a kid and my mom made tomato soup, she would cut buttered toast into squares and float them on top of each bowl. My twist on mom’s toast is to make brown butter croutons, though when I'm really feeling feisty I go all the way and make grilled cheese croutons to float on the soup. To cut the bread for the brown butter croutons, take a 4-inch chunk of rustic bread (5 to 6 ounces) and cut off and discard the crusts using a serrated knife. Cut the bread into 4 slices, then cut the slices into 3 1/4- to 1- inch cubes.
Special equipment: Blender
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
- 5 cups canned whole tomatoes in juice
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano or
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 slices european-style rustic bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4- to 1- inch cubes (30 to 36 cubes) kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
I’m a dude -- I’m always talking from a dude’s perspective. You’ve had a date, maybe things worked out pretty well, and you get up in the morning. You could have the awkward morning, or you could get down in the kitchen and make what we call a Serious Biscuit. I think nothing says love and "I want you to come back and have a second date" than cooking for someone in the morning.
These are the same biscuits we make for the biscuit sandwiches served at Serious Biscuit, downstairs from our pizza joint, Serious Pie Westlake, but at Serious Biscuit, we cut the dough into bigger squares, about 3 1/2 inches, bake them, split them in half, and fill them with everything from fennel sausage with fried egg, melted fontina, and spicy-sweet pepper relish to crispy fried chicken with fried egg and savory black pepper gravy. If you want to make your own biscuit sandwiches, just cut the squares a little bigger than directed in this recipe, bake them, split them in half and fill them. This smaller, 2 1/2-inch biscuit is perfect for breakfast or brunch.
When getting started on the recipe, dice the cold butter first and keep it chilled in the refrigerator while you assemble the rest of the ingredients. Also, be sure your buttermilk is very cold. An inexpensive pastry blender, a tool consisting of several thick parallel wires attached on both ends to a wooden or metal handle, is a nice, old-fashioned, low-tech device for cutting butter into flour by hand. A metal bench scraper or bench knife is useful for cutting the dough into squares. Rolling biscuit dough into a rectangle and cutting the biscuits into squares is more efficient than cutting out round biscuits, and there are no scraps to reroll, though if you prefer you could certainly cut these biscuits into 2 1/2-inch rounds. These southern-style biscuits have plenty of salt. Kosher salt is coarser than table salt. If you are substituting table salt, be sure to cut the quantity of salt at least in half.
Special Equipment: Pastry Blender (optional), Metal bench knife (optional)
- 5 1/2 cups (1 pound 14 ounces/865 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/12 ounces/340 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice, plus a few tablespoons melted butter for brushing
- 3 cups (1 pound 9 ounces/708 grams) cold buttermilk
- Flaky but Tender Pastry Dough, formed into a flattened rough rectangle, about 4 x 6 inches, and chilled for at least 2 hours
- 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces/150 grams) sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 1/2 pounds (about 2 pints/680 grams) blackberries
To shape and finish the crostadas:
- 1/2 cup starch water
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces/43 grams) heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces 43 grams) sugar
The Key 3 is a series of discussions with great cooks (not just professional chefs) about the three recipes or techniques they think everyone should know.