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Braiden Rex-JohnsonPSA-PBK Member Braiden Rex-Johnson
Cooks up a Career

Braiden Rex-Johnson graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa (Gamma chapter of Texas) from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1978, with Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Spanish.

Braiden and her husband, Spencer, moved from Dallas to Seattle in 1990 when he accepted a job at Callison Architecture. She spent a year getting her feet on the ground, then launched into writing her first book—the “Pike Place Market Cookbook.” It was published by Sasquatch Books in 1992, and went on to sell 70,000 copies over the next 10 years.

Pacific Northwest Wining & DiningAlmost 20 years later, Braiden counts seven books under her belt, including Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, 2007); the Pike Place Public Market Seafood Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2005); and the Pike Place Market Cookbook (Sasquatch Books, 2003).

Braiden serves as food-and-wine-pairing columnist for Wine Press Northwest, is a regular contributor to The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine, writes monthly for Amazon.com’s Al Dente blog, and is vice president of the Seattle chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI). Her interests include pop culture, movies, and travel.

Chipotle Chocolate Cake

Serves 8 to 12

Varietal: Lemberger

This intensely chocolate-y cake will remind you of the ones your mother and grandmother used to whip up at a moment’s notice, it is so easy to make and foolproof. Serve it to family and friends with a bit of crème fraîche and extra cocoa powder sprinkled on top. And of course, don’t forget to crack open a bottle of Lemberger, whose bright fruit and spicy finish pair so well with the red wine, chipotle pepper, and cinnamon in the cake. Leading Washington producers of this rather obscure wine varietal include Paradisos del Sol (whose winemaker/owner Paul Vandenberg shared this recipe for Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining), Kiona Vineyards, Latah Creek, Covey Run, and Thurston Wolfe.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa, plus extra for sprinkling on the cake
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups water
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling on the cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, chipotle, and cinnamon. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the water, oil, red wine, and vanilla.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients, and stir just until combined. Do not overmix, or the cake will be tough.

3. Pour the batter into an ungreased 9 by 12-inch baking pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out with just a few crumbs remaining.

4. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, loosen the sides of the cake with a knife, and turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and additional cocoa just before slicing and serving.

Recipe reprinted from Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (Wiley, $34.95) by Braiden Rex-Johnson.

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