‘Tastemaker’ cooks up Pure Flavor

Eileen Mintz

There’s a new cookbook out that you really need to own. Written by Kurt Beecher Dammeier, owner of Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro, it’s called “Pure Flavor; 125 Fresh All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest.”

Dammeier, founder of the award-winning Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, has been called a “tastemaker” by Food & Wine Magazine. In addition to the bistro on the Island, he owns four Pasta & Co. stores, gourmet retail shops and Beecher’s in Pike Place Market. His amazing cookbook, written with Laura Holmes Haddad, helps readers to discover that meals based on great raw materials are not only healthier, but require fewer ingredients.

This entreprenuer knows that great food begins with high quality ingredients, prepared simply so that their natural, intense flavors shine through. In Pure Flavor, he shares many of his best recipes celebrating the flavors of the Pacific Northwest. After pouring over the 255 pages with color photos, I could tell Dammeier has the passion that it takes to know that perfect ingredients can turn a meal into a dish to remember.

His beloved recipes have been perfected in his gourmet shops and restaurant as well as in his home kitchen. In fact, he loves to cook so much that he does all the home cooking for his family. With three sons, Max, Bennett and Liam, that’s a major undertaking for a man who has a test kitchen in his office too!

Dammeier dedicated his book to his late mother, Janet. “If she were still here she would delight in trying each and every recipe herself.” The dedication is also to his wife, Leslie.

He and Leslie are to be commended for their work in developing and funding “Pure Food Kids: A Recipe for Healthy Eating” to enrich the curriculum of local schools with information about pure food and flavor. According to restaurateur Tom Douglas, “When Kurt starts something, he doesn’t do it halfway.”

I asked Dammeier what inspired him to write his own cookbook. He told me that it was due to the opening of Bennett’s and the massive job of developing the menu. “It all turned into a cookbook,” he said!

Known to the Seattle community as an American cheese industry expert, Dammeier is also a modern-day renaissance man. He is not only an experienced skier, but a superb golfer, fund manager and real estate agent. With his first cookbook being launched, he can relish in the fact that he is also an accomplished author; one who preaches that the best we can do for ourselves is eat organically and enjoy the pure flavors of the Pacific Northwest.

Please enjoy the following recipes, Salmon Poke, Fresh Dungeness Crab Cakes and Summer Berry Parfait, from Dammeier’s cookbook. Check out the Cheese Substitution page, it’s something I haven’t seen before!

On Friday, Aug. 10, he will be signing Pure Flavor at Island Books at 7 p.m. I hope you will come and celebrate this incredible cookbook and the man behind it. See you there!


1lb. skinless sashimi-grade king salmon fillet, pin bones removed, cut into1/4-inch cubes

7 TBS. extra-virgin olive oil

2 TBS. unpacked light brown sugar

1/2 to3/4 tsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

1 small shallot, minced

2 TBS. freshly squeezed lime juice (1 lime)

3 TBS. freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)

1 TBS. champagne vinegar

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tsp. chopped fresh dill

In a medium bowl, combine the salmon, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the brown sugar, and the hot sauce, salt and pepper. Mix gently and then set aside for 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, roughly chop, even lightly mash the avocados. Mix in the shallot and lime juice. Set aside.

To make the dressing, whisk together the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, divide the avocado mix among 4 small plates. Pat the avocado down into a 3- inch circle in the center of the plates. Top with salmon, a small dollop of sour cream and some dill. Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve immediately.


“What makes these crab cakes different is a bit of cheese,” says Dammeier. Serves 8 as an appetizer and 4 as a main course.

2 to 3 TBS. unsalted butter

1 green onion (white and green parts), thinly sliced

1 stalk celery, diced

1/4 red bell pepper, diced

1 lb. (3 cups) cooked lump crabmeat, preferably Dungeness, rinsed and drained

1 to 2 large eggs

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

1/4 cup basic mayonnaise, all-natural

1 oz. (1/4 cup) semi -hard cheese, your choice, (cheddar, gruyere, Swiss, Gouda, provolone or Emmenthaler

21/2 cups finely ground fresh bread crumbs

Tangy Remoulade, recipe below

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and add the green onion, celery, and bell pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring gently, until just softened. Remove the vegetables from the pan to a small plate or bowl and allow them to cool.

Place the crabmeat in a medium bowl and pick through it with your hands, removing any pieces of shell. In a small bowl, beat together 1 egg and the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, and mayonnaise. Add the egg mixture and cooled vegetables to the crabmeat and combine gently but thoroughly with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add the cheese and bread crumbs to the crabmeat and gently 3mix with your hands until evenly combined.

Divide the crabmeat mixture into 8 equal parts(about3/4 each) and form with your hands into patties approximately3/4 inch thick, pressing very firmly so the cakes stick together. (Moistening your hands with water will help keep the crab from sticking to them.) If the cakes do not hold together, dump them back into the bowl, beat the second egg in a small bowl and add half the egg. Mix thoroughly to combine and form the crab cakes again. Place the crab cakes on a plate until ready to cook.

Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Carefully place 4 crab cakes in the hot pan. Do not crowd them. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on one side without touching them.

When the crab cakes are lightly browned on the bottom, carefully turn them over with a wide spatula and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until the second side is lightly browned Transfer the crab cakes to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Cook the remaining 4 crab cakes in the skillet, adding 1 more tablespoon of butter, if needed.

Serve hot, topped with a spoonful of tangy remoulade.


“Its vivid color and zesty flavor make it the best choice for a condiment,” says Dammeier. “Try it with delicate chilled foods such as poached chicken, white fish and of course, these crab cakes.” Makes3/4 cup.

1/4 cup ketchup

3 TBS. sour cream

2 TBS. mayonnaise, all natural

2 TBS. whole grain mustard

11/2 TBS. capers, drained

1 TBS. peeled and grated fresh horseradish or creamy store-bought

4 to 6 dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, briskly whisk together the ketchup, sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, capers, horseradish, hot sauce, salt and pepper with a fork to combine thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to a 1 day ahead.


You could easily add in fresh sliced peaches and nectarines, which ever fruit is in season. “The addition of simple syrup,” says Dammeier enhances the natural sweetness of the fruit. Serves 4.

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 TBS. honey

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 cup fresh raspberries

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup crunchy granola

Make the simple syrup by combining the sugar,1/4 cup water and1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir until all the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Combine the sour cream, heavy cream, honey and remaining1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl with a whisk or fork. Set aside.

Place the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in 3 separate bowls. Seat aside 4 berries for garnish. Add approximately half of the simple syrup to the strawberries and mix gently with a flexible spatula so as not to bruise the fruit.

Divide the remaining syrup between the raspberries and blueberries, mixing gently.

To assemble each parfait, place 1 tablespoon of the granola in the bottom of each of 4 glasses, breaking up any big chunks with your fingers. Top with the strawberries and a layer of cream. Use about1/2 cup total of the cream, smoothing it to the edge of the glasses with a spoon. Add a layer of blueberries and another layer of cream, followed by a layer of raspberries. Finish with a dollop of cream.

Top each parfait with some of the remaining granola and the remaining reserved berries. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 2 hours.


Marcia made these fabulous salmon cakes to help me when I took ill this summer. She travels the world and returns to her home kitchen to cook for family and friends. Marcia suggests that if you want Salmon burgers just make them fit a bun!

Serve with a spicy -sweet Asian slaw. Made 26 small fish cakes or 8 good size salmon burgers.

3 lbs. salmon filet, wild sockeye (no skin) chopped lightly in a food processor

1 large red onion, sliced thin

2 ribs of celery, diced fine

1 large Poblano pepper, diced fine

2 medium carrots, diced fine

a pinch of cayenne

1/4 cup chopped parsley or more to taste

5 eggs



toasted bread crumbs or Japanese Panko crumbs

Season the celery, carrots with salt and pepper. Gently saut/ in one tablespoon of oil over medium low heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside. In same pan add an additional one tablespoon of oil and saut/ the onion with salt until very golden.

In a large bowl add salmon that has been chopped (should resemble chopped hamburger) three eggs, a good pinch of cayenne and parsley with the above saut/ed vegetables. Fry a small amount of the mixture, adjust seasoning if required.

Spread flour on a large flat surface. Beat the remaining eggs and pour into a shallow dish. Spread the bread crumbs into another shallow dish. Roll the fish mixture into a small balls; lightly in the flour, then in the egg and lastly in the bread crumbs. Flatten the balls into fish cakes (patties) and smooth the edges. Refrigerate on a cookie sheet until ready to fry. Use within six hours.

Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and pour a small amount of oil to cover the bottom of the pan by tilting. When hot, carefully place cakes slightly apart and fry until golden browned, a few minutes per side. Use right away or wrap well and freeze.


I tasted this salad at Jeanne’s home recently and was not only delicious but looked like summer! Jeanne owns Sweet Basil’s Cooking School and designed this recipe herself. Serves 4

Arugula, as much need for 4

Olive oil to taste

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Sliced heirloom tomatoes, enough for 4

Balsamic grilled red onions

Crumbled blue cheese, as much as desired

Toss arugula with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste and arrange on a salad plate. Top with sliced tomatoes and blue cheese. Adjust seasonings with additional salt and black pepper. Follow directions for Balsamic Grilled Red Onions below.


2 TBS. balsamic vinegar

1 TBS. olive oil or more as needed

2 lbs. red onions, cut crosswise into1/2- inch- thick slices

1 cup fresh parsley leaves, washed well and spun-dry, then chopped fine

Arrange onion slices in one layer on trays, keeping slices intact. Brush both sides of each slice lightly with oil. Season onions with salt and pepper and grill in batches on lightly oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches over glowing coals. Grill 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until lightly charred and softened. Transfer onions to a large bowl, separating rings. Toss with vinegar mixture, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Eileen Mintz can be reached by email at or by phone at 232-1984.

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