Dick Stein

Midday Jazz Host

Dick Stein has been with KNKX since January, 1992. His duties include hosting the morning jazz show and co-hosting and producing the Food for Thought feature with the Seattle Times’ Nancy Leson. He was writer and director of the three Jimmy Jazzoid live radio musical comedies and 100 episodes of Jazz Kitchen. Previous occupations include the USAF, radio call-in show host, country, classical and top-40 DJ, chimney sweep, window washer and advertising copywriter.

His most memorable KNKX moment: Peeling Alien life form from Erin Hennessey’s face after it leapt at her from the biohazard refrigerator he picked up cheap for the station at an FDA garage sale. Dick is married to nationally noted metalsmith, jewelry designer and cowgirl “Calamity” Cheryl DeGroot.

Ways to Connect

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Depending on your pan and the amount you're cooking, it'll take you at least 40 minutes to an hour to get onions to deliver up that golden brown sweetness.  Yet many recipes claim it can be done in five or ten minutes.

Who ya gonna believe, eaters?  The recipe writers or your lyin' eyes?

Best Biscuits Ever

Dec 6, 2017
Stein / KNKX

Nancy Leson and I each got a copy of the new Hello My Name is Tasty: Global Diner Favorites from Portland's Tasty Restaurants.  There's plenty in there I'm looking forward to trying, but like Nancy I went straight to the biscuits. We both made them and agree they're the best ever.  Here's how:

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I like lentils and I love the spicy red lentil soup recipe Nancy Leson recently sent me.  Adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper's The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends, this recipe is fast and easy to make, and perfect for rainy weeknight dinners, too.

For a more time-consuming, weekend lentil dish, do try the lamb shanks and lentils recipe from another Kaspar – Kaspar Donier.  You'll find both recipes below.  As of publication we still have not received recipes from Kaspar Hauser or Casper the Friendly Ghost but remain hopeful.

Duck Thanksgiving!

Nov 22, 2017
Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Do you have anything new to say about Thanksgiving dinner?" I asked Nancy Leson.

"No, I don't,"   she admitted.  Me neither,  So I suggested we talk turkey about our favorite waterfowl, instead.  

Nancy Leson / KNKX

There are any number of overused, hackneyed and just flat out annoying words at large in current food writing.  My personal worst would have to be the infuriatingly infantile "veggie."  Nancy Leson shares my loathing for another "-ie," the pointless and demeaning "foodie."  But she doesn't stop there.

Stein / KNKX

"I am a believer!" I told Nancy Leson,  "In the single most useful kitchen tool I've encountered in years. "

Tweezers. 

"I have those, Stein," Nancy said.  "What's the big deal?" 

The big deal is that these tweezers are big – and amazingly versatile. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Good service starts the minute you walk in the door," Nancy Leson says. "There's a certain sense of welcome.  If you have it right away, even if people are busy, that's great service."

I agree.  A simple acknowledgment of my presence is plenty for me.  No one likes to feel invisible.  Even if  the person behind the podium is busy taking a reservation on the phone, a smile,  eye contact and a silently mouthed "Just a second" make me feel welcomed.

Nancy has firm ideas on what else makes for great restaurant service – and its opposite.

Nancy Leson

I'm a guy who appreciates the virtues, however imaginary, of the quick fix.  And what could be more emblematic of the QF than duct tape?  Surely there's something analogous in cooking.  When I asked Nancy Leson what she thought that might be, she posed the question on her Facebook page. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

As I told Nancy Leson in this week's chat, "I just don't have the kind of kitchen where everything is put away nice and neat."  Nance keeps her kitchen, though shinier than mine, the same way.

The L&T Cheryl DeGroot / KNKX

Alarm bells went off in my head when my wife, the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot asked, "What is all that smoke floating under the ceiling?"  How could that be?  The kitchen exhaust fan was going full blast.

I noticed that the door on the overhead cabinet housing the fan was slightly ajar.  I turned off the fan and closed it.  When I re-started the fan the door popped open again. 

Uh-oh.

Dick Stein / KNKX

The good news? We harvested 60+ lbs. of Roma tomatoes this year.  Bad news?  I'd have to puree them in my little food mill as I did last year. It's a nice enough tool but just not up to processing that kind of volume.  The plates clog up and have to be removed and cleaned, then re-installed.  It just takes forever.

But this time around I found something robust enough for heavy tomato lifting.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Last week I received a text from Nancy Leson containing the lobster shot above and "Live @ $4.50/lb.  Eat yer heart out."  The surge of envy that coursed through me was powerful enough to make me drop my can of Beanie-Weenies. 

What kind of madcap optimist attempts homemade pastrami?  Well, uh — me.

When I told Nancy Leson about the breakthrough recipe I found at Mandy Lee's utterly swell Lady And Pups blog, she had to try it too.

Stein

Run wild!  Sure, if you've never made something before, it's a good idea to follow the instructions. But remember that recipes come from all-too-fallible humans, not infallible food deities.

I speak from bitter experience.

Dick Stein / KNKX

I got so excited last week listening to Nancy describe her homemade tortillas that I ran right out and bought a tortilla press and some masa harina.  My intention was a taco feast with homemade Mexican chorizo and salsa verde and homemade tortillas.  What could go wrong?

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Why would you make your own tortillas when they're available in every store?" I asked Nancy Leson.

"Because I can. Because it's fun.  And it's easy!"  And, she claims, better than store-bought.  Read on for Nancy's tortillas, the book they rode in and actual live footage of La Leson wielding her tortilla press.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson was just over the moon about the Persian cooking class she'd recently taken from cookbook author and teacher Najmieh Batmanglij.  I took one look at Batmanglij's site and immediately found recipes I had to try. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

Nancy Leson is the first to talk up the virtues of the produce on sale at local farmers markets, but she was wowed by the tomatoes she saw at Eugene's Lane County Farmers Market.  Her only regret?  "I just wasn't in a position to take home a box of San Marzanos that were just unbe-LEEEV-able."

I had thought San Marzanos were the same thing as the Romas I'm growing.  I was half-right.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

"Hey Nance," I asked Ms. Leson.  "Mussels or clams – which wunna dese?" 

"Of dose?" she Philly'd.  "I like 'em both, but it would have to be mussels.  Especially in the summer."

Here's why.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

As a guy who excludes fruit from his diet, I have no business pointing a finger at anyone else's food phobias.  But I will, anyway. 

How can my wife, the Lovely & Talented Cheryl DeGroot, a generally omnivorous woman, hate grits? And she'll have nothing to do with Pisum sativum, either no matter how I beg her to give peas a chance. 

Nancy Leson's husband Mac won't eat the cheeses she finds so pleasing. This week Nance and I commiserate on our spouses' food phobias and offer recipes for stuff that they won't eat, but you might love.

Jim Robbins / KNKX

This showdown's been brewing ever since Nancy Leson claimed she could make perfectly good bagels, start to finish in one hour.  Naturally I scoffed, but Nancy swears they're good.  We and about ten other guests finally got a chance to do a comparison tasting last weekend.  The results surprised me.

Dick Stein / KNKX

Mayonnaise is Chile's favorite sandwich spread.  It's a must for the famous Chacarero (farm style) beef, tomato and green bean sandwich.  I made one recently and, in the process, discovered a whole new use for both mayo and my gas grill.

Nancy Leson / KNKX

“Seattle restaurants are so uncomfortable that it’s driving me crazy,” Nancy Leson beefed.  Nancy’s main complaint is fundamental.  “Isn’t the definition of 'restaurant' to restore?  How restored can you get when your tush is numb after a half hour?”

Pearl Django performing in the KNKX studios in Seattle, Wash.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

After more than a quarter century, that Mighty Engine of Rhythm still swings like mad. Pearl Django’s KNKX studio session hit the ground running with Floyd Hoyt Rides Again, from their new CD With Friends Like These

Written by Pearl Django guitarist Tim Lerch, it’s named for one of the many noms de jazz of founding member Dudley Hill.

Fiddler Michael Gray says some of Dudley’s other aliases were The New Johnny Sands, and Michael’s personal favorite, H. Burnell Delahoopay. 

Nancy Leson / KNKX

I asked Nancy Leson what she likes to chop on.  Once we got past her lumberjack (Jill?) joke I learned she likes plastic for cutting and wood for serving. 

I'd always preferred wood for cutting and hubcaps for serving. Now I'm a convert to the convenience of plastic for cutting.  Especially the new one sent to us by a listener.  What’s so great about it? 

It’s full of holes.

"My kid finally got a real, paying job," Nancy Leson announced.  Young Nate's now a B.C. barista.  Which led us to reminisce about our first food service jobs.  Nancy's was at the Chalfonte, a venerable Cape May, N.J. hotel. 

My first food service job nearly earned me a deep-fried head.

Nancy Leson

It was buckwheat all the way down. 

While Nancy Leson was whipping out a batch of buckwheat crepes in Edmonds this past weekend, 39 miles to the south I was mixing the sponge for the next morning's sourdough buckwheat flapjacks. 

Background and recipes below the fold.

Nancy Leson

With warm summer weather just about here what better time to crank up the oven to 550 degrees?  A little thermal discomfort is a small price to pay for the pleasures of the pizza and calzone Nancy Leson and I talked about.

Nancy Leson

We all have favorite old standby recipes, comfortable and familiar as well-worn jeans.  Recipes like that don't come along often, but when they do you just know you'll be making them again.  This last week, both Nancy Leson and I were lucky enough to come across several new "old favorites" to add to our lists.

Nancy Leson

Sometimes the simplest kitchen tools are the most useful.  One of my favorites is an old rubber mallet I picked up at the auto parts years ago.  I use it for pounding meat.  It was cheaper than the "official" flesh whackers sold in kitchen stores and way easier to handle than the frequently suggested substitute, a cast-iron skillet.

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