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Archive for May, 2011

First a disclaimer: I’m not here to slam restaurants. I am always more than happy to pay for good food and good service and take no issue with paying exorbitant prices for wine, as I know that is how restaurants stay afloat. But, sometimes, a place just leaves me wondering why. Why, when the menu is almost exclusively vegetarian are we paying so much for a screw top wine? Why, when the entrée servings are virtually appetizer size (Five mushroom ravioli’s? Really?)?

We had been to this restaurant before. It was always cozy, relaxed and affordable with the friggin’ best sautéed mushrooms ever. Renovation and expansion has led to fine dining prices and overly salted pan-fried trout. So salty, that Adam’s mom had to scrap off the breading. Mushrooms were salty, too. As was my (really expensive) roasted chicken with three tiny potatoes.

Maybe they were having an off night in the kitchen. I’ll give them that. But still, corn syrup laden Tillamook ice cream with our rhubarb crisp? I couldn’t even taste the rhubarb it was so sweet. Why not Julie’s Organic? Or Coconut Bliss?

This is all is about to lead me to my current rant about how, I feel, farm-sourced foods in Portland are only affordable to the elitist. But I won’t go there. I want to (and do!) support local farmers with my shopping dollars, but it aggravates me, that even without the middle man, a bunch of local kale is cheaper at Whole Foods than at the Farmer’s Market. It just doesn’t seem right to me. Especially when an entire demographic is excluded from the farmer’s market because it’s cheaper to shop at Safeway.

OK, I went there a little bit. Sorry.

I do love the farmer’s market, I do! I especially love the act of exchanging money for produce with a farmer whose still got soil under his fingernails. I love the fact that the only favas not grown in Mexico are found at a tiny mom and pop stand in the corner of Thursday’s market. Those things are important, very important. But, like many folks in our fair city, I don’t have a lot of money, and as I spend a huge chunk of my income on food, I think this year, I’m going to the source. No middle man, no market stand rent, just produce and the farmer. I’m headed to the farms.

Cheers!

Half-Moon Buckwheat Ravioli with Veal and Pea Tendrils

If you take issue with my cooking with veal, read my post on veal here.

What you’ll need~

1/2-cup all-purpose flour

1/2-cup buckwheat flour

1/2-teaspoon salt

3 egg yolks, beaten

Water

1 spring onion, coarsely chopped

3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

Handful of dried mushrooms, soaked

3/4-pound ground veal

1/4 pound or more pea tendrils, gently torn

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Freshly grated Pecorino Romano

To reconstitute your dried mushrooms, place them in a small bowl. Add very hot, but not boiling water and fill with enough water to allow the mushrooms to expand. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Drain and chop.

Stir the flours together in a large bowl. Add salt and mix in beaten eggs.

Add just enough water, little by little, to help the dough form. I used about a 1/4 cup.

Knead the dough in your bowl for a few minutes until the dough has a consistency that is soft without being sticky. If your dough is sticky, add flour as needed.

Lightly flour a surface and knead buckwheat dough for about 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let set for 30 minutes to allow the gluten to form.

In the meantime, warm olive oil in a large saucepan.

Add chopped onion and stir for a few minutes until just beginning to become translucent.

Add cremini mushrooms and reconstituted dried, chopped mushrooms and stir for a few minutes.

Add ground veal and cook until barely pink in the middle.

Toss in pea tendrils give a good stir or two, remove from heat and place mixture in a large bowl. Let cool for a bit then place the bowl in the fridge. This will help the ingredients to come together.

Lightly flour your board again and roll out ravioli dough. If you have a pasta maker, I highly recommend

using it, because it’s a bitch to get the dough as thin as it should be.

Roll out the dough as thin as you possibly can and use a ravioli cutter, or cookie cutter of your choice (I used an old biscuit cutter) to cut out shapes.

Spoon filling into cut ravioli leaving enough room to allow you to smoosh the edges together without any of the filling spilling out. Grate a bit of Pecorino Romano into the ravioli and gently fold the dough into a crescent shape.

Press the edges together and set ravioli on a parchment paper until you have them all filled and ready to cook.

Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Gently drop ravioli in the water and cook for about 4 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove ravioli from water and place on a plate or serving platter.

Serve warm with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper, and a generous grating of Pecorino Romano.

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One of the many things I love about Portland is our quirky graffiti. Back in college, my photo project for Color Photography, (yes, I hand-processed color prints) was graffiti, and let me tell you Austin has no lack of that art. There’s even a café whose walls, and then some, are a devoted canvas to local graffiti artist. Ever since that project, many moons ago, I find my eye is often drawn towards graffiti. I’ve noticed, in Portland, that it’s often small, somewhat intimate, and often sweet. As if their message is intended for a very specific person.

I saw this one on the way to the farmers market last week and had to stop to steal a shot. Bebel Gilberto singing, “Baby” popped into my head the moment I spied it.

I had a handful of fava greens left after last weeks post and decided to toss it with some thinly sliced radish. I always soak the heck out of my radishes in ice water to cut their bitterness. Sometimes I wonder why I buy them since I’m not a fan of their spicy character. I confess, I think it’s because they’re so darn cute.

Cheers!

Fresh Fava Greens with Radish

Toss a couple of handfuls of fresh fava greens with thinly sliced radish and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serve with a chunk of crusty bread, a chunk of Manchego and a crisp white.

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I usually don’t spend $9 a pound on beans. I’m a fairly frugal shopper and prefer to shop sales, thrift and outlet clothing stores. But occasionally, I indulge. Especially when it comes to food. Now, don’t get me wrong. I only, and when I say only, I mean only purchase quality natural foods. You will never find me shopping at a major commercial grocery chain with a cart full of Stouffer’s pizzas and Cheetos. Doesn’t happen. It’s not that I’m a snob, (ok maybe a little) but I’ve been eating natural and organic for close to 20 years and dumping and handful of M&M’s in my mouth just doesn’t come naturally for me. It’s not that I don’t partake in the occasional indulgence, it’s just that when I do, I still choose clean, natural food.

When I was a teenager (mid 80’s, folks) in high school, for no apparent reason, I stopped drinking soda. Just decided, out of the blue, that it wasn’t good for me and that my drink of choice would be water. When I was 18 I became a vegetarian. No longer a vegetarian, as we know, (still don’t drink soda) but you get my drift. Eating well and healthy is a part of who I am, which, apparently, occasionally leads me to purchase a pound of heirloom beans for $9.

These beans, goodness, these beans are beautiful. Heirloom Christmas Lima beans grown in Zursun, Idaho. When I happened upon them at City Market, I knew a passive glance was not enough. My friend Beth found me, beans in hand, staring at them wide-eyed and fixated on their mottled and tie-dyed patterns. I was in love.

I originally picked up some arugula to serve with these, but when I found fava greens at the farmer’s market, I knew they would be the perfect accompaniment. OK, well, I’ve never had fava greens before, but their delicate sage green color and, oh, the possibilities (not to mention my unnatural lust for fava beans) were enough to persuade me to give them a shot.

They did not disappoint. They have an every so slight lemony quality that a quick wilt and a dash of tarragon helped to enhance.

You can surely uses any beans you like with this recipe, it’s simple and versatile, but I won’t fault you if, like me, heirloom beans make you weak in the knees.

Cheers!

Heirloom Christmas Lima Beans with Fava Greens and Spring Garlic

What you’ll need~

1 cup dried Christmas Lima Beans, or beans of your choice

Olive Oil

One bunch spring garlic, coarsely chopped

A few handfuls fava greens, gently torn

Dried tarragon

Salt and Pepper

~

Soak beans overnight in three cups of water.

After soaking, rinse beans and place in a saucepan with 1 1/2 quarts of fresh water.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer with lid just slightly ajar.

Cook until beans are tender. About 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Once beans are cooked, drain and set aside.

Warm olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute garlic until just softened and beginning to caramelize.

Add beans and let cook in a single layer for about 4 minutes. Turn beans and cook other side for about another 4 minutes.

Sprinkle tarragon and salt and pepper to taste.

Toss in fava greens and stir for a minute or two until just wilted.

Serve warm.

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For the past couple of weeks my heart and soul has been occupied with, what I consider, one of the more important photography projects thus far in my career. Don’t get me wrong. Every project I work on gets everything, and I mean everything that I have to give. Blood, sweat and tears. The difference is this: Brasserie Montmartre is an iconic Portland restaurant. A legendary location with Portland’s seedy and sooty history lingering in the walls.

It originally opened in 1978, a time when Portland was deeply exploring what we’ll just call its ‘noir’ side. Those of you who have only visited Portland, in say, the past 20 years have never experienced what I consider to be the bones of pdx. Neither have I. But I’ve been here and wandered our streets long enough to realize the real Portland is most decidedly not the Pearl. Let’s just say, Portland is, and always has been, a port town. Get my drift? Brasserie Montmartre was the sort of place you rounded out the night at, say, 4 AM with Opera Singers and sailors.

Fast forward 33 years and you’ll find Brasserie Montmartre reopening under new ownership. When I told Adam Melissa Chureau, marketing extraordinaire, nicest woman ever and wife of owner Pascal Chureau, emailed me and asked if I wanted to document the space, he looked over his glasses at me and said, “you do realize what a big deal this is”. Adam is a native Portlander, so yeah, now I do.

I wish I could tell you what the originally Brasserie looked like, but I just don’t know. It’s my understanding that Pascal brightened up the space. Removed the outside awnings to let in more light, painted the walls a beautiful shade of creamy white, added booths, but wisely maintained the elements that made Brasserie a landmark. My favorite is the giant chandelier hovering over the dining space.

Now, I would LOVE to show you the shots I made for Melissa and Pascal, but those are reserved for their website which is still in the works. However, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, the minute their new site is live I will post an announcement and you better check it out.

In the meantime, here are a few of my post-shoot nibbles. By the way, and I can’t believe I’m waiting until now to say it, the food is AMAZING. French decadent meets Northwest farmer’s market fresh in the most balanced and delicious way possible. Pascal and his head chef Michael know exactly what they are doing. Escargot with morel mushrooms, frog legs, rabbit boudin, halibut, mussels, veal pâté wrapped in bacon. I’m salivating while writing this. Happy hour is more than affordable, service is beyond impeccable, and soon they’ll be opening for lunch. So go.

Go and sit at the bar and chat with the moustached bartender, have an absinthe, nibble on some oysters, listen to some gypsy jazz and if you squint your eyes just a little bit, at least for a moment, you’ll be in Paris.

Cheers!

Our friend Matt with Croque Madame. Before and the aftermath.

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Those of you who know me know that my life has been just this side of crazy busy over the past few weeks. A couple of really big photography assignments (yes!), and now, as a staff photographer (woo hoo!) for Eater.pdx, lot’s of little ones. It’s been the kind of crazy busy that I just love.

Those of you who don’t know me don’t know that I also have a part-time job. In this day and age, at least for now, it’s necessary. It surely complicates things, and boy am I tired. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

I’ve even started running again so I’ll have stamina.

When things do get this busy, I find my blog always suffers. And I’d like to figure out a way to change that, as I love coming here and writing and making pictures for you. Like running, it’s a bit like meditation. It calms me and clears my head. So, as things (hopefully!) continue to get busy in my world, you may see simpler blog post. A handful of words to go with a handful of pictures and a recipe.

In the spirit of sharing simple things, here is another of Heidi Swanson’s recipes from her new cookbook Super Natural Everyday. I think I managed to make this dish, start to finish, in less than thirty minutes. Man was it delicious. The perfect accompaniment for Indian focused or Mexican focused dishes. I served it with a stack of warmed sprouted corn tortillas and black beans.

It’s definitely on the spicy side as it calls for a whole Serrano chile. You could de-seed it, if you like. But where’s the fun in cooking spicy if you don’t burn your tongue a bit?

Cheers!

 Avocados and Mustard Seeds

Adapted from Super Natural Everyday

 Confession: I love avocados. I love them enough to buy them even if they’re flown in from Chile (blame my California upbringing). I know, I know. I always feel just awful about. All those resources wasted just so I can enjoy their buttery, fatty green flesh. I try to make up for it by buying organic ones. The least I can do is make a difference in the farm workers world, right? Sheesh…

~

What you’ll need~

2 ripe avocados

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon olive oil (Heidi uses clarified butter or coconut oil)

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 small yellow onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon green curry paste (Heidi used curry powder, but I wanted a bit more punch)

1 Serrano chile, minced

~

Cut the avocados in half. Remove the pit and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Add lemon juice, salt, and most of the cilantro.

Mash them a bit with a large fork, but be careful to keep the mixture chunky.

~

Warm oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add mustard seeds.

After about a minute or two add the onions and sauté for a few minutes until they become translucent.

Stir in the garlic, curry paste, and chile.

Stir for about 10 seconds, remove from heat and gently stir into the avocado mixture.

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About two weeks ago, my copy of Super Natural Every Day, finally arrived in the mail. A little beat up (thanks USPS), to be sure, but nothing like it’s gonna look in a few months. I have a tendency to devour my cookbooks like I do great literature. You should see my copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I had to put it in a plastic baggy because the pages are no longer attached to the binding. One of my long time go-to cookbooks, Vegetarian Times Cooks Mediterranean, compiled by Melissa Clark, is literally falling off its spine, and its pages are lovingly stained with tomato soup. It looks like I’ve owned it much longer than the 12 years its been in my possession.

I didn’t have a chance to sit with Super Natural Every Day until the day after I received it. The night before, however, I attended a book signing at The Cleaners where Heidi Swanson was the guest of honor. At her side the beautiful, and glowing Kim Boyce (one of my favorite people ever) was signing copies of my other all time favorite cookbook (and James Beard’s, apparently), Good to the Grain. The line led to the door, seemingly never ending, and I imagine those two beauty’s had scratchy throats and sore smiles by the time 9pm rolled around.

Watching Heidi that evening, I knew that I was in the presence of someone very special. Her blog, 101 Cookbooks, and her first cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, has made her a celebrity in many circles. However, noticing the expression on her face that night, she was just so gracious and humbled as if she couldn’t believe all those people were there for her. I probably don’t need to tell you all of this as, if you read her blog, then you know that her warm personality shines through in her writing and photography.

I’ll take being in the presence of Heidi and Kim over any royal wedding.

The next day, I curled up in bed as the warm sun streamed through our western facing windows and read Super Natural Everyday, cover to cover, occasionally dosing off and dreaming of a sunny San Francisco.

Cheers!

Heidi Swanson’s Chickpeas and Dandelion Greens

I usually tweak recipes, but this recipe is so simple and perfect that made it exactly as Heidi did. By the way, if you haven’t guessed, this is the first of many blog post celebrating Heidi’s recipes.

From Super Natural Everyday

What you’ll need~

2 cups cooked chickpeas, or one 15 oz can

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

sea salt

3-4 handfuls dandelion leaves, stems trimmed

Grated zest of one lemon

Put your chickpeas in a medium bowl.

Add olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and two pinches of salt to a cold skillet.

Turn on the heat to medium, and stir until the garlic just begins to sizzle. Add the dandelion greens  and stir until they start to wilt.

Stir in the lemon zest.

Pour greens over chickpeas and stir to combine.

Add salt to taste.

Serve warm with a couple of corn tortillas.

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I find Mother’s Day to be bittersweet. On one hand, it’s a glorious day that celebrates all moms everywhere. An excuse (like we need one) to pamper them with breakfast in bed, pedicures and armfuls of fresh flowers. On the other, sometimes our moms are, as in my case, far away, or worse, gone. I can’t imagine, and, frankly don’t want to imagine, what Mother’s Day is like for those of you who have lost your mom. My heart goes out to you.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have many moms in my world. My wonderfully fiery and feisty mom (70’s pic), who resides in Hawaii, and is likely making pancakes for my dad tomorrow. I hope someone brings her tiramisu. Adam’s mom, Kathy, is just short drive away and, in the 3 years that I’ve known her, has not only become a mom to me, but one of my closest and dearest friends. My friend Beth’s mom (gorgeous blonde in black and white photo) has been a creative inspiration (gave me my first camera) to me for the past 20 years. And, then there is my Grandma. She loved soap operas (stories), and romance novels. She died many years ago, but I still occasionally dream of her and her rice pudding.

I don’t have a recipe for you today. The oatmeal scones were pre-mixed and gifted to us on Christmas (a gift from yet another of my favorite moms). I’m sure I could find the recipe, but I kind of like that it’s a bit of a mystery.

And the Yosemite oranges? Well, I thought they were beautiful in a funky and interesting sort of way, so I picked up couple to simply play with. Oh and they’re yummy too.

So cheers to all the beautiful moms out there! I hope your day is abundant with love and well-deserved pampering ♥

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