Six Salts a Seasoning

I said it before, and I’ll say it again – specialty foods are the one-size-fits-all perfect holiday gift. Last year I wrote about giving family, friends and neighbors fabulous foods from our newly opened Trader Joe’s. This year, I felt obligated to send out slabs of a delicious Pacific Northwest specialty – smoked Sockeye salmon from locally owned Seabolt’s Smokehouse (

I too was gifted with some WONDERFUL culinary contributions from Kris Kringle...both childhood favorites to savor (Neumeister’s chocolates ~ and exciting new items to sample. Several of the more unusual indulgences – Lime and Chili Infused Macadamia Oil, Barrel Aged Fig Balsamic Vinegar, black truffle powder – came from a website previously unknown to me, but one definitely worth a more serious look.

The Cooking Enthusiast ( boasts everything from coffee and condiments to cutlery and cookware (I spied some beautiful hand-painted Polish pottery I need to add to my collection). While the oil and vinegar are yet to be opened, I – on a whim – added a level tablespoon of black truffle powder to the white sauce I was making for my scalloped potatoes. The results were simply maahvelous and shall be repeated soon!

SaltWorks ( was the source of a savory sampler including Wild Porcini, Black Truffle, Spanish Rosemary, Vintage Merlot and Espresso Brava gourmet salts (boxed nicely with a set of small salt dishes and tiny little serving spoons).  I’m sure I’ve talked Fleur de sel and Kosher salt to death, but I also have an affinity for black and red Hawaiian sea salt and make a wonderful seasoning blend containing one, the other or both along with coarse white Hawaiian sea salt, minced ginger and garlic and crushed black pepper.  I also love diversely flavored and textured salts for different dishes. While these new tasty salt blends are still in the box, I’m already calculating the range of uses. Spanish Rosemary salt paired with boneless leg of lamb, anyone?

Last but by no means least is the Duckleberry Grunt bestowed upon me from the Westport Winery in Westport, Washington ( Touted as a blend of blueberry, huckleberry and Gewürztraminer (a type of white wine grape), this wine (and I don’t really “do” wine, so pardon my naiveté) was simply yummy. It was sweet and fruity and downright delicious, and I can’t wait to head back down to Westport and pick up a couple more bottles. Best of all, proceeds benefit the Gray’s Harbor Ducks Unlimited which is an waterfowl conservation organization that specifically works to protect and restore wetlands and wildlife habitat (a cause near and dear to my heart) .

Now, if only Santa had seen fit to slip a couple delectable Dungeness crabs in my stocking as well…

Here’s the recipe for my newly invented taters:

Black Truffle Scalloped Potatoes
3lbs potatoes
2T butter
2T flour
2c milk (or half and half, or 1c half and half and 1c milk)
1 clove minced garlic
1t kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/2t fresh ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1T Black truffle powder

1. Preheat oven to 350. Scrub potatoes. Do not peel. Slice thin with a mandolin slicer or in a food processor. Cook in large pot of boiling salted water for five minutes until tender. Carefully drain and place ½ in 2qt baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
2. For sauce, melt 2T butter over medium heat. Lightly sautee garlic until fragrant.  Whisk 2T flour into melted butter. Add 2c milk/half and half, salt, pepper and truffle powder and whisk until smooth. Raise heat to med/high and whisk continuously until sauce is thickened. Immediately pour ½ sauce on potatoes in dish. Add second half of potatoes and top with remaining sauce.
3. Bake in oven covered 45-50 minutes until center potatoes are soft when pierced with a toothpick.

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