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David Ross

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  1. Dinner 2017 (Part 6)

    For some reason I was thinking about vintage Jell-O tv commercials this morning and it reminded me of our eG Cook-Off from 2012, "Gels, Jell-O and Aspic." Here are two dishes I did for the Cook-Off, one very simple using a spicy blood mary aspic to garnish a fresh oyster. Oh how I'd love a plate of these oysters with a glass of wine tonight for dinner. But would have to be indoors as our air quality is poor and hazardous due to wildfires. The other dish is another way I use huckleberries, in this case a savory recipe of foie gras mousse encased in ice wine jelly and served with huckleberry compote. It's a nice appetizer bite for a dinner, but I think way to fancy dancy for summer eating.
  2. I'll pull out some of my old Hughes Airwest memorabilia. They were owned by yes, Howard Hughes and primarily flew in the West. Their famous ad campaign was the "big banana" and the planes were painted in vivid yellow. I remember we flew them home from Twin Falls, Idaho, with a stop in Boise then on to Portland. Amazing but I do remember the coach lunch from Boise with ice cream for dessert. I was about 12 or 13 and I thought then, and today, how wonderful it was to have ice cream on a plane. But I also remember being served the famous United Airlines ice cream sundae in first class, (which they still do in first class on some flights today), and the ice cream was rock hard. The poor flight attendants had to struggle with the fact the catering vendor blanketed the ice cream tubs with dry ice and it was like a rock. Made all the worse during service as they used to bring a trolley through the cabin with the ice cream in serving bowls then all the toppings were displayed for your choice.
  3. I haven't added any new huckleberry dishes to my annual roster for a few years, but created a tart yesterday that will now find its place on the annual roster. I've been making an apple tart for years in a shortbread crust with a smoked cheddar pastry cream. So that's where this one started, sort of. I added some toasted, ground almonds to the shortbread dough. (Wished I would have used hazelnuts as they are more specific to the Pacific Northwest). I par-baked the tart shell about 15 minutes. The huckleberry compote is a blend of fresh, (can't use frozen in this one), huckleberries, sugar, melted butter, a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, few drops of lemon juice, a bit of flour and a sprinkling of cornstarch. Sometimes I add a bit of red wine and a dash of balsamic vinegar to make a sauce for game meats. Then I just winged it for the streusel topping--brown sugar, butter, flour and rolled oats. Baked for about 30 minutes at 400. I honestly think this one might be better than the rustic huckleberry pie in the cast iron skillet.
  4. I asked my friend who is a 20 year + Flight Attendant and he said they heat the first class meals at 275F for 20 minutes. (And they are aware they are just reheating something that's already been cooked). My sense is that may work for meats, but if vegetables are already grilled or par-boiled, that cool-down then reheating may not be favorable in the end.
  5. I've never done a great job at crimping the edges of pie crust, but then again in this case that didn't matter. A huckleberry pie in a cast iron skillet...
  6. I've always thought the same thing. Alaska hired Tom Douglas about two years ago. I think the thought was to hire one of Seattle's most visible Chefs with Seattle's home airline. They tend to always push the marketing envelope over there, sometimes ahead of what is the best thing to do. But I've heard good reviews on most of his dishes. One of my friends is at the top tier of their frequent flyer program and he tells me other than a baked potato dish they put out that was stuffed with some braised short ribs, the Douglas menu items have been pretty good. Looking at their website, in coach they currently offer two Tom Douglas menu items. I envision someone in a cubicle in Seattle writing these menu descriptions..... Miso Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl for $8 "We've topped chicken with a Hawaiian-inspired sweet and savory sauce and paired it with scrambled eggs and steamed rice for an island-style breakfast." Turkey Sandwich with Espresso for $8- "Roast turkey, peppery arugula and smooth provolone meet up in a soft slightly sweet bun made memorable with espresso mayo-delivering a toasty-smoky flavor and a nod to the Seattle coffee scene."
  7. Just using your examples, a nice cured meat and cheese platter would be far more contemporary and tasteful than a dried out puny chicken breast and over-cooked rice pilaf. Yet the airlines never seem to get it. And one would find that from a budget perspective it would be more cost effective. And of course, it's impossible to muck up a cheese platter and cured meats, or a cold ramen salad, through the rigors of catering facilities, transport to the aircraft and onboard service.
  8. Yes, Horizon still serves complimentary Northwest Micro-Brews. The wine is complimentary yet not exclusively Northwest. I started at Horizon not long after they began partnering with Starbucks. At that time, Starbuck's was this little Seattle coffee company and the craze with coffee hadn't yet begun. Howard Shultz partnered with our CEO at the time and it was a natural fit for two Seattle companies to come together. For years we were the only airline serving fresh-brewed Starbucks. In fact, we also served complimentary Starbucks in the boarding areas. And from the get go Starbucks had very strict brewing standards that each station had to follow. And a footnote, the complimentary Starbucks and complimentary micro brews were and are exclusive to just the Horizon division of the company.
  9. Well, I just remembered a very bad fish dish in United First Class about 1995. It was first class on a United DC-10 from Portland to Chicago. I was travelling on an airline employee pass and got bumped to first class. Because I was the low guy on the meal list, I was served the halibut. It was dry, stinky and the asparagus spears had obviously been sitting in that aluminum tray in the galley oven far too long. I bet the asparagus started as nice, long, snappy stalks. Yet it ended up really sad and wilted. I think there was a warm hollandaise sauce which was surprisingly good and I don't think it had separated. That's the airline meal geek I am, remembering a dish with that many details some 20 years later.........
  10. Yes I knew George quite well during his time at Horizon and we worked together on a few different inflight service promotions.
  11. I'll be checking in with some friends who are senior Flight Attendants at Alaska Airlines with some questions about their ovens and holdover temps.
  12. In January of 2016, I "retired" after 28 years of service for Horizon Air, a regional airline based in Seattle and the Sister carrier of Alaska Airlines. I put retired in quotes as it was actually the result of a corporate restructure. In any case, throughout my career I was on the inflight services department management team and for many years involved in the onboard catering. Now mind you, we were and the company is today, a regional carrier that flew primarily turbo-prop airplanes and just a few jets during my time. We didn't serve traditional hot meals in those days as our galleys weren't equipped with ovens, however, we did serve cold breakfasts, lunches and snacks and at times our food was actually better than what you'd find on other major carriers. Back when I started as a Flight Attendant in 1988, we served cold snack baskets and often ran promotions. I remember one summer when we offered a picnic basket of cold fried chicken, chips, an apple, a slice of apple pie from a bakery in Spokane and a small wide-mouth "Mickey's" beer. Well, as we know things have changed. In the time since I left, Horizon is starting to introduce a small regional jet with first class and hot meal service. The meals up front are basically the same meals one would find on Alaska Airlines first class. And while the menus read creative, like Southwestern scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa and corn tortillas, we all know what reads delicious on an airline print menu isn't always what ends up on your tray table. So let's have some fun here at eGullet and start a discussion of airline meals. Share your stories of grand meals from back in the decades when you looked forward to airline travel, especially the meal. (And I remember many a fine steak dinner served in coach on both Delta and United back in the 70's into the 80's). And are you dining on fine food these days when you fly? I regularly scan through sites dedicated to frequent flyers and I'm often impressed by the photos of first class meals on international long-haul routes served by Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, ANA, JAL and Swiss Airlines to name a few. (And while Delta is improving on that front in their business class cabin internationally, United is trying with their new Polaris business product, American seems to lag behind). Coach class throughout the world is of course a different story. So I'll be working in the coming months on going through some of my archives to show you some of the things we served on the little regional carrier up in the Pacific Northwest.
  13. Farmers Markets 2017

    The highest mark on my calendar every year is set aside for our annual huckleberry season. I could go on for pages, but the huckleberry is my favorite of all things. I couldn't wait this morning to head down to our Saturday Market and visit the Xoing family. For a number of years now I visit their booth at the first whiff of the new crop of wild huckleberries. Their Father picks the berries up on the mountains that rim Priest Lake in far North Idaho, not far from where I live in Spokane. I've been worried about the crop this year given that last year the berries showed up three weeks early and the season was short. And for the month of July we've had unusually hot, dry days in the 90's which I feared would sear the huckleberries. But they shared that the berries are of good size this year but some traditional patches are barren. They forecast fresh huckleberries through the month of August. Now you probably know that huckleberries only grow wild in specific regions of America. And they grow best in high mountain areas above 3,000 feet, (although you may find some at 2,500 feet). They can only be picked by hand, although some folks think a rake type of device works well, (It doesn't, it strips the bushes). And up here the apex huckleberry hunter aren't humans--they're bears. So considering all of this, this season the price is quite reasonable at $45 for a gallon bag. And I think some of my Chef friends down in Las Vegas would be quite jealous of that price. Huckleberries are very persnickety and really only keep fresh for about 3-4 days in the fridge. But they hold up well in the freezer and I stretch out my cache to last through the year with the last huckleberry used just before I buy the new crop. This is a bowl of fresh huckleberries that I'll make into a sauce for ice cream tonight, along with these wonderful onions the Xoing family grows in their back yard. In the Fall the Xoing family picks wild chanterelles and wild morels in Spring.
  14. Farmers Markets 2017

    I just got back from our Farmer's Market and I'll post photos today. It's been an unusually hot string of days in the 90's here in Eastern, WA, and in turn we're seeing wonderful produce and wild fruits coming our way.
  15. No I didn't try it with leaf lard, but a brand from Mexico I buy in a tub from a local Mexican grocery store.
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