Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

Articles written by Luke Chavez


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  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Jul 18, 2024

    Too often, uninspired versions of this dish are slapped on restaurant menus, overdressed with bland mass-produced dressing. Originally created in 1924, by an Italian immigrant at his namesake restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, Caesar salads quickly became a hit with Hollywood trendsetters. Here, I have a lively and fresh homemade Caesar dressing that will change how you look at those that come in a bottle. Adding seasoned grilled chicken turns this into a satisfying warm weather entrée. Ingredients:...

  • Summer Barley Salad

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Jul 11, 2024

    Several years ago, we were in Los Angeles visiting friends and family during a milestone birthday. As part of the festivities, we were invited to a friend’s house for a potluck barbeque. Being very familiar with the culinary trends of health-conscious southern California, I made a joke on our way there that the potluck would be nothing but raw kale. When we arrived at the party, there was fresh guacamole made from avocados grown in someone’s backyard, gorgeous wild-caught seafood on the gri...

  • Citrus Buttermilk Cake

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Jul 4, 2024

    Recently, while preparing for a dear friend's birthday celebration, I came across a recipe for an old-fashioned buttermilk cake. After adding orange zest to accentuate the tangy flavor of the buttermilk, the resulting cake was rich and moist with a perfect texture. Topped with an orange infused cream cheese frosting, this cake was a smashing hit with the guests of the party, and most importantly the birthday girl. This week, I plan on making this cake again for another summer birthday of sorts,...

  • Potato Gnocchi with Blistered Tomatoes

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Jun 27, 2024

    There is no shortage of comforting dishes that can be made with a sack of potatoes. Light and tender, gnocchi are marvelous little Italian potato dumplings that can be dressed up in a wide variety of sauces. While packages of shelf stable, store-bought gnocchi have been a reliable staple in my pantry for many years, they are pale in comparison to the delicate texture of homemade. Here I have them tossed in a quick sauce of blistered tomatoes, garlic and herbs. A wonderful way to celebrate the...

  • Herbed Focaccia

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Jun 20, 2024

    Before moving to Waitsburg, bread baking was an elusive skill I always shied away from. Despite my deep love for all the shapes and styles of bread, the idea of making my own always seemed like an impossible feat. Perhaps inspired by the rolling wheat fields that surround us, I have since learned a lot while discovering the magic that can be made with a few ingredients, patience, and a hot oven. This chewy and crusty focaccia was one of the first successful bakes, filling our home with an...

  • Moroccan Kefta Kebabs

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Jun 13, 2024

    As we move towards the summer solstice, many of our meals will be enjoyed on the back deck. From all-American cheeseburgers or Mexican carne asada to Korean bulgogi, the art of grilling is a culinary skill that brings people together all around the world. In fact, there is something quite primal in the communal experience of gathering around a meal sizzling over an open flame. A reminder of the universal commonalties of the human experience that far outweigh the differences. Here, ground beef...

  • Chicken Marbella

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Jun 6, 2024

    In my kitchen library are some well-worn and much-loved cookbooks that I have referenced for years, many of which were gifts from beloved friends and family. One such culinary tome is my copy of "The Silver Palate Cookbook" by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, a quintessential classic of American gastronomy. First published in 1982, the book is named after their Manhattan gourmet food shop, a location which was at the center of a shifting era in American culinary curiosity. My copy was gifted to me...

  • Strawberry Shortcake with Mint Whipped Cream

    Luke Chavez, The Times|May 30, 2024

    One of the things I most look forward to in late spring is the first bite of a plump sun ripened strawberry. This week, I noticed the first few bright red fruits ready for picking in our backyard patch. For the next couple of weeks, we will be plucking them by the bowlful. When fruit, such as strawberries, are perfectly ripe, and in-season, the general rule is the simpler the preparation the better. Which is perhaps why the combination of ripe strawberries with shortcake biscuits and whipped cre...

  • Mint Pesto Pasta Salad

    Luke Chavez, The Times|May 23, 2024

    With a cleaned grill, refreshed flower containers, and a thoroughly swept deck, we are officially ready for outdoor entertaining. On the arrival of grilling season, I have been reviewing recipes for my favorite side dishes to serve while dining al fresco. Cool and brightly flavored salads are always an excellent choice as the days start to get hotter. This lively pasta salad, with a marvelous mint pesto and vibrant vegetables, is perfect served with grilled meats or seafood. Leftovers taste...

  • Lemon and Herb Chicken Stew

    Luke Chavez, The Times|May 16, 2024

    Having tried countless recipes for chicken soup, I am always excited to find a new version of the internationally loved homey classic. From Mexican Caldo de Pollo to Thai Tom Kha Gai, the diversity of ingredients and flavors that are combined to accentuate chicken in broth are seemingly limitless. Here, the soup takes inspiration from Greece, with a bright burst of lemon, rosemary, and dill. Rounded out with spinach and potatoes, this soup is as nourishing as it is flavorful. Ingredients: For...

  • Peanut Sauce Tofu

    Luke Chavez, The Times|May 9, 2024

    For as long as I can remember, peanut butter has been one of my favorite foods. As a kid, I loved the many sandwich options, such as the classics peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and banana. I love it in cookies or drizzled with honey in a yogurt bowl. Beyond sweets, peanut butter can be a wonderful and versatile ingredient in savory dishes. From West African peanut soups and stews to Thai satay sauce. Here a vibrant peanut sauce with lime and ginger is used as a glaze for baked tofu....

  • Spring Roasted Chicken with Herb Pistou

    Luke Chavez, The Times|May 2, 2024

    At the same time that our yard has finally filled with the sweet scent of lilac, the perennial herbs in my edible garden have burst into full swing. The tender new tarragon, chervil, parsley, and thyme have been providing me plenty of inspiration in the kitchen. This lovely chicken dish incorporates herbes de Provence to give it a distinctive floral and herbaceous note. The potatoes and radishes are roasted tender in the same pan, and all is served with a bright herb pistou drizzled over the...

  • Caraway Snickerdoodles

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Apr 25, 2024

    While experimenting in the kitchen, I love when the addition of a single extra ingredient can elevate a classic recipe in exciting new ways. Here the homey snickerdoodle, a buttery cookie steeped in childhood memories, has crushed caraway seeds added to the cinnamon coating for a sophisticated twist on the warm-spice notes. Delightfully chewy, and not too sweet, these lovely morsels have an addictive flavor. Ingredients: 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened ¾ cup granulated sugar...

  • Creamy Spiced Cauliflower Soup

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Apr 18, 2024

    As a child, I was by no means a picky eater. In fact, I relished in trying and exploring foods labeled as exotic, or anything that my unadventurous peers would call "weird." However, despite my love of all kinds of vegetables, cauliflower was something I could never understand. It was the eighties, and on most tables the crucifer was usually just a sad, limp, and unseasoned mess. Fast forward, and as an adult, I discovered that cauliflower was in the category of ingredients that are perfectly...

  • Skillet Chicken with Black Beans & Rice

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Apr 11, 2024

    And just like that, the busy season is upon us. After a full day of spring cleaning the house and freshening up the garden beds, the thought of cooking dinner can feel extra daunting. This is when a satisfying one-pot recipe can really come in handy. Big flavor with fewer dishes. Here chicken thighs are roasted crisp over a bed of cumin spiced black beans and rice. Served with some fresh avocado and lime, this comforting meal has become a new weeknight favorite. Ingredients: 6 to 8 bone-in,...

  • Spaghetti Carbonara with Asparagus

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Apr 4, 2024

    Spring is here. Birds are chirping, blooming bulbs have finally brought some color to our garden, and fresh local asparagus will soon come into season. While I often serve asparagus simply with just a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, I am always looking for new recipes to highlight this springtime delight. Here, I have tossed asparagus into a classic Roman pasta dish, making a decadent and quick weeknight dinner. Spaghetti alla Carbonara marries eggs, cured pork, and cheese, with...

  • Spring Spaghetti with Shrimp

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Mar 28, 2024

    After six years of living in the Inland Northwest, there are still a few things about the other side of the state that I miss terribly. At the top of this list is access to fresh, local seafood, something I might have taken for granted at the time. Thankfully, there are many wonderful options for local and sustainable seafood that can be found flash-frozen in area grocery stores. Domestic, wild-caught shrimp, frozen raw, have become a staple in our freezer, perfect for quick weeknight dinners....

  • Hollandaise Sauce and a Spring Eggs Benedict

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Mar 21, 2024

    With the warmer days and the first flowers blooming, my mind has turned to planning some springtime entertaining. A decadent weekend brunch with friends, full of lively conversation, and hopefully a mimosa or two, is a favorite daytime option. Here, my recipe for a classic hollandaise sauce is poured over a seasonal variation of eggs benedict, featuring cured salmon and fresh asparagus in place of the Canadian bacon. Ingredients: For the Hollandaise: 4 egg yolks 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed...

  • Beef and Guinness Stew

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Mar 14, 2024

    For many, the first thing that comes to mind for Saint Patrick's Day menus is corned beef and cabbage. A delicious classic, it has certainly graced my table many times. However, when I think of Irish cuisine my mind always goes to the homey and hearty stews featuring beef or lamb. This fantastic stew has tender beef and carrots stewed with one of Ireland's most recognized exports, Guinness beer. Easy to assemble, this recipe only requires a little patience as it slowly simmers on the stovetop....

  • Gnocchi with Braised Chard and Peas

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Mar 7, 2024

    As spring green colors are finally popping up in our yard, I found myself craving tender green flavors. Rainbow chard braised with aromatics in stock and wine, is a favorite side dish that I love to prepare throughout the year. Here, the addition of potato gnocchi and sweet peas turns the braised greens into a delightful main course. For serving, a dollop of ricotta cheese adds a luscious creaminess, while fresh lemon zest and juice adds brightness. Ingredients: 4 tablespoon unsalted butter 3...

  • Zippy Tofu Chili

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Feb 29, 2024

    While I am certainly known for my love of cooking savory meat dishes, throughout the week much of my diet is centered around vibrant plant-based options. Incorporating more vegetarian meals in your routine is good both for your heart health, and perhaps more importantly, the health of the planet. Over the years I have gathered a diverse collection of meatless recipes that always satisfy without ever feeling like something is missing. This delightful chili, full of bright and spicy flavors, is ba...

  • Tuna Noodle Casserole

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Feb 22, 2024

    In an American culinary culture that is endlessly chasing the latest gastronomic trends, it is sometimes nice to revisit the understated classics that home cooks have been making for generations. At the top of this list, are cozy casseroles that make satisfying meals out of a few budget-friendly pantry ingredients. By making a few adjustments, it is easy to update some of these familial dishes to reflect modern tastes. Skipping the cans of condensed soup, this recipe for Tuna Noodle Casserole...

  • Turkey Italian Wedding Soup

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Feb 15, 2024

    Little bits of green are popping up in our flower beds, and the backyard birds have been very active as of late. The change of season is rapidly approaching. With that, nights have still been a little chilly and I continue to find myself craving soup. This homey Italian American classic, with little meatballs and greens in a light broth, is satisfying without being too heavy. For my version, I used ground turkey and brightened things up with the addition of fresh lemon. Ingredients: For the...

  • Beef Taquitos

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Feb 8, 2024

    Some of the most popular and recognizable foods of Mexico fall into the category of small bites called antojitos, which can be found across the country sold in markets or from street vendors. Translated as "little cravings", these savory dishes, including tacos and chili rellenos, are often served as appetizers or as midday snacks. One of my favorites, taquitos or flautas, are tortillas rolled with flavorful fillings and fried crisp. Perfect served with an array of different salsas, guacamole...

  • Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

    Luke Chavez, The Times|Feb 1, 2024

    While some pasta dishes can be quite complicated, such as a slow simmering Bolognese or an intricately layered lasagna, some of my favorite recipes are those composed of just a few ingredients that come together quickly. Here, flavor-packed Italian sausage and bright broccoli are simmered into a buttery sauce with garlic and Parmesan cheese. Satisfying after a long day of work, this easy, weeknight recipe can make a broccoli lover out of even the pickiest of eaters. Ingredients: 1 pound tube...

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