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Archive for June, 2011

I’ve been meaning to make this salad for about a week now. I had all of the ingredients gathered (sort of), and then life took over, I got busy and the week passed. Thank goodness kale is a hearty beast of a vegetable. She held together quite nicely with hardly a wilt while wrapped in plastic and shoved in the vegetable crisper.

Once again, I give Heidi Swanson credit for inspiring yet another recipe. This is how it works: I contemplate making a simple dish for dinner, and my blog, I pick up Super Natural Every Day, let the pages flutter by until something jumps out at me. This week it was her Whole Grain Rice Salad that popped off the page and said hello. Well, I didn’t have about most of the ingredients, so I used Heidi’s recipe as a guide. I poked around my kitchen and grabbed a jar of black quinoa to mix with regular quinoa, kale and cilantro make an appearance, (a combination that I feared may be fateful), dried cherries and ricotta salata. Oh, and pistachio’s for a bit of a crunch.

This was almost another case of too many ingredients in the pot (I was really worried about the kale/cilantro combo) but this salad turned out to be earthy and bright and perfect for this grey and humid summer’s day.

Cheers!

Thanks to Bon Appetit for featuring this post on bonappetit.com!

Black and White Quinoa Salad with a Champagne Vinaigrette Dressing

Inspired by Super Natural Every Day, Heidi Swanson

What you’ll need~

2 cups black and regular quinoa, cooked

1 bunch kale, roughly chopped and steamed

Handful of dried cherries

Handful of shelled pistachios

Handful of cilantro leaves to sprinkle on the finished dish

Handful of crumbled ricotta salata

Pinch or two coarse sea salt

For the dressing~

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 Champagne vinegar

7-10 cilantro leaves

8-10 dried cherries

Pinch of sea salt

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until blended.

Fold all of the salad ingredients together, save the cheese and cilantro, in a large bowl. Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle with salad dressing, sprinkle with cilantro leaves and a few pinches of coarse sea salt. Serve warm.

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This is Bobby, also known as Robert. He’s the only person in my world where I  use his two names interchangeably for the only reason that it happens to fall out of my mouth one way or the other. Odd.

I’ve known Bobby for about 3 or so years now and he’s become one of my dearest friends. Soon to be graduating from PSU with a Computer Science degree (Bobby is my Mac guru) he asked if I would be willing to do his graduation portraits. Twist my arm.

Aside from photographing food, portraits are one of most favorite things to shoot. I love capturing someone’s personality in that ever so slight twinkle in their eye. Soon, I’ll have a website devoted to my portrait work and, as I’m still building that end of my portfolio, if any of my lovely readers out there would like a killer deal on a portrait session (I do babies and doggies too!), do send me a note.

Half the time, I swear we were just playing. There was a lot of “yeah, baby, yeah!” being shouted from both sides of the camera because, for some reason, that never gets old. I promise, if you hire me, I will do my darnedest to not let those words pass my lips :)

I wanted to share a handful of my favorite shots with you, but if you’re curious, you can view the whole wacky session here.

Cheers!


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Early summer means windows of opportunity. Asparagus starts popping out of the ground and into the farmer’s market bins, spring garlic barely makes an appearance, fava beans, sigh, still waiting, and the most interesting of the bunch: garlic scapes.

I spied them for the first time last summer and thought, well, hmm. Long shoots of dark green tendrils with bulbs on top housing what will eventually be a flower.

When garlic starts to form and harden its bulb under ground it sends up a green shoot. If you don’t trim the stalk, the bulb’s growth will be stunted. Hence, trimming these delicately garlicky stalks not only benefits our appetite, but the garlic as well.

Cradling a bundle of garlic scapes in my arms, I wondered what to do with them. The internet is littered with garlic scape pesto recipes and, although I usually shy away from what everyone else is doing, garlic scape pesto seemed like the perfect way to welcome summer.

Toss with a little pasta, sprinkle just a touch of chive blossoms on top and serve with a chunk of crusty bread, this recipe takes moments to make. I don’t know about you, but as much as I love to cook, quick meals means more time outdoors and since Portland has been dishing out summer days sparingly, I need all the sunshine I can get.

Cheers!

Garlic Scape Pesto Tossed with Orecchiette Pasta

What you’ll need~

One bundle of garlic scape, flowering bulbs removed and stalks coarsely chopped

One bunch Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Juice from one lemon

A few generous pinches of dried tarragon

1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt

~

Toss all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to desired consistency.

Top pasta with pesto and serve with a chunk of crusty bread.

I’ve submitted this recipe to the side dish week of Get Grillin’ with Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans. Check them out!

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There was something about the energy Tuesday night. The light was soft, the air was electric and a room full of jovial strangers became your instant best friends. If you walked through Accanto’s side door that evening, you would have been greeted by a flute of prossecco and Chef David Anderson offering you a nibble of arugula crostini and a plate of some of the finest charcuterie on this side of the Mississippi.

And this is only the first 10 minutes.

Welcome to Portland Food Adventures. Masterminded by former New Yorker, lover of all things Portland, Chris Angelus, PFA is an excuse to sit around a table, make new friends, and explore some of the best (and, in my humble opinion, Michelin worthy) kitchens Portland has to offer.  A set price, an amazing meal, and a stack of gift certificates to restaurants in Portland chosen by your host and the chef. If that’s not a deal, I don’t know what is.

Chris sent me an email about a week ago inviting me and my camera to his next food adventure at Genoa, and I, of course, graciously  and eagerly said yes.

Genoa is a Portland legend. Opened in the year of my birth, 1971, it was a gathering place of folks in search of organic (the first Oregon restaurant to offer organic), local and rustic Italian foods in a fine dining environment. According to Tim Parsons, event coördinator extraordinaire and our wonderful host, the windows were wallpapered so your entire experience was within the walls of the restaurant. Late at night, after the last of the dinner guest had gone home, the wait staff, who apparently all hailed from Reed College, would sit at the tables filling ashtrays with spent cigarettes and wax on about life and philosophy.

In 2008 Genoa closed their doors only to be opened again exactly a year later by Chef Anderson who chose to embrace and cultivate Genoa’s tradition of offering the finest, local and organic ingredients, while exploring his own food genius.

Tuesday night was not to be missed. After we were all sufficiently relaxed and our appetites whetted, we traveled down the corridor that connects Accanto and Genoa to the darkly wooded, cozy, yet formal private dining room. Accanto is Genoa’s free spirited younger sister, flowing skirts and flip-flops. She’s the perfect complement to Genoa’s stylish and refined sophistication. Migrating between the two worlds that night enhanced the enchanting experience of the two restaurants. I was captivated.

As we all sat down, we were greeted by Katherine and Joshua our servers for the evening. I wish there were a better word than server. Kind, gracious, attentive they helped make the evening of serving eighteen people flow seamlessly. The bottom of my wine glass never saw the light of day. Our Prix Fixe menu before us, the only decision we had to make was which entrée and which dessert.  And, no, it wasn’t an easy one.

The room was alive with conversation as they set our first of our five courses (see the full menu, with vegetarian offerings here) in front of us: Crudo di Mare. Marinated bay scallops and octopus with avocado mousse, citrus confit, cured salmon and chickpea crackers. The scallops, goodness, were like butter delicately melting on your tongue.

The next course was Fettucine con polpettine di vitello. Yes, veal meatballs. Need I say more?

You would think that the room would have gotten quieter as our courses came out and our noses were in our plates. Instead, it was like, what I imagine, a Sunday family dinner in Italy might be like: Everyone getting more and more excited by the food. Passing plates, sharing bites, clinking glasses and talking about food in anticipation of what comes next.

And what came next did not disappoint. Our entrée or Secondi choices were pan-fried Chinook salmon, prosciutto wrapped confit leg of a young chicken, or Lamb t-bone with crispy marrow. I just couldn’t resist the crispy bone marrow and chose the lamb.

Bone on, smothered in mint salsa verde, succulent and buttery. I’m not even sure how to describe the bone marrow. A crispy puff with a delicate soft and fatty center. All of this paired with an Eiting Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir made exclusively for Genoa. Perhaps I was star struck by the evening, but it was by far the best pinot I’ve ever had. Perfectly balanced with just the right amount of body, fruit, and delicate acidity.

Then there was dessert. Oh my. How does one decide between deconstructed strawberry shortcake, mascarpone cheesecake, and chocolate nut pyramid with pistachio anglaise? Fortunately with such a generous crowd I suspected I’d get to taste all three. I ordered the chocolate pyramid, and everyone around me ordered the cheesecake. Ha! But I did find a strawberry shortcake at the other end of the table to steal a few shots of.

More than one birthday was celebrated

The evening ended with thank yous, exchanging of business cards and the sharing of hugs. After everyone left, Tim led me and Chris down to the cellar where along side stacks of wine bottles and a couple of funky lamps, are binders upon binders of 40 years of Genoa menus and wine list. How cool is that?

That, my friends, was one hell of a night.

Cheers!

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I’m usually a less is more kinda of gal. I rarely wear more than once piece of jewelry, I own one winter coat (although that’s starting to change with Portland’s crazy weather), and I don’t like putting too many ingredients in the pot. I like to keep the marriage of tastes to a minimum so picking out subtle flavors happens pleasantly and naturally.

But this morning was a little different. I have a couple of sacks of dried cherries that were a gift from one of my most favorite commercial clients, The Cherry Country. When she handed them too me the first thing that popped into my head was: asparagus. I’ve never cooked with dried cherries before, but these plump, juicy but not too sweet dried Royal Ann cherries (love the name) just swooned for asparagus. The problem was, that I had about another month before asparagus started to nod their little green heads at the markets.

Boy was it worth the wait. These little guys are delicate crisp and lemony and perfectly complimented the Royal Annies.

I had intended only to toss in some caramelized shallots, shredded prosciutto and crumbled ricotta salata to complete the dish, then, I remembered that I had a tiny tub of untouched fennel pollen sitting patiently in my spice drawer. I froze. Would adding fennel pollen be over the top? The cherries were already a departure from my usual methods. They were on the verge of being one ingredient too many. My gut clenched up and I hesitated.

It felt wrong, but I did it anyway.

Cheers!

 Pan Fried Asparagus with Dried Cherries, Prosciutto, Ricotta Salata and Fennel Pollen

Fennel Pollen can be difficult to find. If you live in Portland, Foster and Dobbs offers it. Otherwise, there are a few online resources. It’s worth the search, though. Fennel Pollen adds a hint of delicate anise to the finish of a dish. You may not notice it at first, but it will linger on your palate as the other flavors start to fade.

What you’ll need~

One bunch of young asparagus, trim off the ends so you’re cooking with the tender green parts

Olive oil

One shallot, thinly sliced

Handful of torn or chopped prosciutto

Handful of dried cherries

Ricotta Salata

Salt

Pepper

Coarse sea salt

Fennel Pollen (optional)

~

Warm your olive oil in a large skillet until it starts to shimmer.

Toss in sliced shallots and a couple of shakes of fine sea salt.

Sauté for about a minute, until they just start to caramelize.

Place asparagus in pan in an even layer and let cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle prosciutto and cherries in during the last minute or two of cooking.

Remove from heat and place asparagus on your favorite serving platter.

Using your fingers, crumble ricotta salata over the dish.

Sprinkle a pinch or two of coarse sea salt.

Dust gently with a pinch or two of fennel pollen.

Serve warm.

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