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A Late-Summer Seattle Market Menu

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Celebrate the sweet, ripe flavors of late summer with Seattle chef Tom's Douglas's rustic and relaxed menu.

In September, farmers’ markets in Seattle overflow with summer’s last ripe tomatoes, sweet peppers, and tender green beans, while the fall harvest is coming in with pears and grapes of every color. Of course, this doesn’t just happen in Seattle. Markets all across the country are awash in gorgeous produce, and that’s a great reason to whip up a terrific dinner to share with friends.

Even though my wife, Jackie, and I own four restaurants and work long hours, we don’t need an excuse to invite guests to our home for dinner whenever we can. Naturally, though, we want to keep our entertaining hassle-free. This dinner is easy to pull off because much of it can be prepared ahead of time. My homemade bianco cocktail practically makes itself: Rosemary, mint and lemon zest steep in a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Six hours later, the wine is tranformed into a fragrant herbal aperitif. For an appetizer, I like to make a pepperonata with the season’s last peppers (mine come from the Yakima Valley, east of Seattle, but you can use a selection from your local grocery). It’s a colorful, olive, salty and piquant topping, perfect for spooning onto a crisp baguette toast. Roasting a pair of chickens—slathered here with a mustard rub—for the main course keeps your hands free. The chickens need to rest for at least 10 minutes before you carve them, which gives you time to finish up the warm salad of green beans, tomatoes, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

For dessert, I like to offer both sweet and savory nibbles. I put out ripe pears and grapes, a round of creamy, aged goat cheese, and a crusty loaf of walnut bread. I also serve wedges of one of my favorite cakes—a moist, orange-glazed cornmeal rosemary cake that Jackie bakes a day ahead and glazes on the day of the party. Then I pour each of my guests a glass of White Riesling Ice Wine or Moscato d’Asti and we make a toast to the end of another beautiful summer.

Menu Timeline

Up to three days ahead:

  • Make the peperonata and the mustard rub; refrigerate.

Up to one day ahead:

  • Freeze the grapes for the bianco.
  • Steep the bianco in the refrigerator.
  • Slather the chickens with the mustard rub; refrigerate.
  • Bake the cake and brush with the orange syrup.

The afternoon of the party:

  • Glaze the cake.
  • Prep the green beans and the tomatoes for the salad; cook and chop the pancetta; set the dressing ingredients by the stove.
  • Make the baguette toasts for the peperonata.

An hour before guests arrive:

  • Heat the oven.
  • Slice the chives and the cheese for the salad.
  • Remove the peperonata from the refrigerator.
  • Put the chickens in the hot oven to roast.

As guests arrive:

  • Pour the bianco and serve the peperonata.
  • Put water on to boil for the green beans.

Ten minutes before serving the main course:

  • Cook the beans as the chickens rest.
  • Make the hot dressing and toss the salad.
  • Carve the chicken.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 2 lb. (about 7) assorted sweet to medium-hot fresh peppers
  • 4 medium tomatoes (about 18 oz.), preferably ripe heirlooms or garden tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 lb. green beans
  • 1/2 lb. chanterelle, white button, or cremini mushrooms
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large shallots
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint
  • At least 1 lb. grapes, preferably a large seedless variety such as Red Globes (for the bianco—buy more if you’re planning to serve fresh grapes with the dessert.
  • Ripe pears, for serving with dessert (optional)
  • 2 medium oranges
  • 1 lemon

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 2 whole chickens, about 3-1/2 lb. each
  • 1/2 lb. thinly sliced pancetta
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 lb. unsalted butter
  • 5 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 4-oz. chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 5 Tbs. heavy cream
  • A fresh or aged goat cheese, for serving with dessert (optional)

Other Groceries

  • 2 bottles (750 ml each) Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup green olives, such as Picholine or Lucques
  • 3 Tbs. capers
  • 1-1/2 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 oz. pine nuts
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 loaf walnut bread, for serving with dessert (optional)

Pantry Staples

  • 1-3/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 5 oz. (1-1/2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • 4-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 5 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Kosher salt
  • black peppercorns

Beverage choices: For the bianco aperitif, use a crisp Sauvignon Blanc with vibrant citrus fruit, such as the Honig from Napa Valley or the Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Hills from Washington’s Columbia Valley—in fact, you can sip that very same Sauvignon Blanc with the warm green bean salad. The mustard-crusted roast chickens can pair easily with either a full-bodied white like Chardonnay (such as the Mount Eden MacGregor Vineyard from Edna Valley or the La Crema Sonoma Coast), or a medium-bodied red with light tannin such as Pinot Noir (try the Cambria Julia’s Vineyard or the Echelon California). To end the meal, pick up on the orange flavors of the cornmeal rosemary cake with a cup of top-quality Earl Grey tea that has fragrant citrus notes.

The Menu

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