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Archive for April, 2012

Spring Herb Salad with Fava Beans

Borage Flowers

Asparagus and Fava Beans

Those of you who know me know that I have a weakness for fava beans. So much so that I recently told a local chef that “fava beans make me weak in the knees”. Not sure how he took that comment (I think we’re still friends), but it’s the truth. My adoration of fava beans began in my childhood, thanks to my dad, and has only gotten stronger and more pronounced as I’ve gotten older. Some people go crazy for ice cream, I go crazy for fava beans.

When I wandered into Pastaworks yesterday afternoon, I had barely an inkling of what I wanted to make for you. I had spring and fresh herbs on my mind and thought it would stop there. What I walked out with, was an armful of young asparagus, arugula, fava beans, sorrel (tastes like a young lemony lettuce) and fresh mint. Oh, and let’s not forget the borage flowers! How could I possibly walk away from borage flowers? I’ve only ever seen them growing wild during wildflower season in Texas and I always thought about  harvesting them for their natural and medicinal oils, but never did. It’s moments like those that I thank goodness my path brought to the Pacific Northwest where we have farmers like Viridian Farms growing and harvesting such an abundance of wonderful and unique produce. I feel spoiled living here, and I’m OK with that.

Cheers!

Spring Herb Salad with Fava Beans, Young Asparagus and Fresh Mint

This dish hardly needs a recipe. Find whatever fresh, local
herbs turn you on and toss! I listed the borage flowers as optional,
but they are definitely worth hunting down. Their taste is fresh with a hint of earthiness from their natural oils. 

Ingredients:

One bunch baby arugula, stems removed if tough
One bunch fresh sorrel, torn into bite sized pieces
A handful of young asparagus
A pound or so young fava beans, hulled
Fresh mint
Borage flowers, optional
Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt
Fennel Pollen, optional

~

Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside.

Break the asparagus in half and place in boiling water for about three minutes.

Using tongs, remove asparagus from water and place in ice water bath.

Place fava beans in boiling water for about two minutes, just until their skins start to burst.

Remove favas from boiling water and place in ice water bath.

Drain the asparagus and fava beans.

Remove skins from fava beans, if you like. When they’re young I eat them skin and all.

Toss all of the ingredients in a bowl with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of fennel pollen.

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Gabi at the Grill- OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Imagine a room full of Portlanders, cocktails in hand,  the grill behind them being worked to a flaming frenzy by Chefs (and husband and wife) Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton. Sweat pouring down their faces and the smells of burning wood and charring (animal) flesh teasing our noses and causing our palates to salivate like someone just broke the dam.

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

This was Portland Food Adventures on Tuesday night. From the outside it may have looked like your typical Portland scene. Folks milling about, sipping drinks and snacking on appetizers. Inside, was electric. Folks were shoulder to shoulder in this tiny restaurant. Custom made, cleverly mixed cocktails, crafted by the great Jamal Hassan (formally of Departure), in hand. South American music thumping above our heads,  and each one of us quivering with anticipation of what these two great chefs had up their sleeves.  See, we aren’t just talking about two Portland chefs. We’re talking about Greg and Gabi Denton. Two (super huggable) Portland chefs who left the highly lauded Metrovino, in NW Portland’s Pearl District, to start their own restaurant from the ground up. And we’ve all been waiting for this moment. The moment when we could share their passion by breaking bread with them.

OX Restaurant, Portland OR

Ox Restaurant, Portland, OR

The concept of OX is simple. Home cooked Argentinian inspired food with a NW twist. Or as Greg shared with Eater PDX’s editor, Erin de Jesus, “but of course, we live in Portland, so we have to make it a little weird”. More like really really good. And we all knew it would be. This particular Portland Food Adventure series sold out in what felt like moments. Those of us of who live and breathe the food world have been talking about Greg and Gabi’s new venture since they announced their departure from Metrovino back in early December. And it all deliciously came together on Tuesday night during their first ever dinner.  Heirloom hominy with baby spring fava beans that made me weak in the knees. Ever so delicate duck rillettes wrapped in a buckwheat crêpe and topped with a dollop of grilled rhubarb jam. Grilled asparagus that snapped crisply with each bite. Grilled sweetbreads, and, oh my, sea urchin bruschetta! And it goes on and on and on.

Take a look (click on the menu for a larger view):

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

If you’re not familiar with Portland Food Adventures, it goes down like this: Sign up at portlandfoodadventures.com for an upcoming dinner. Pay $125. Eat a multi-course perfectly paired dinner at one of the city’s most sought restaurants, and go home with a full belly and a handful of gift certificates to some of the favorite haunts of the night’s chef(s). In this case, we get to explore the fare of Spints, Oven and Shaker, Olympic Provisions and Nuvrei. Doesn’t get much better than that.
OX officially opens on Tuesday, April 24. Go, eat, enjoy. You won’t be disappointed.
And be sure to hug Greg and Gabi while you’re there :)

Cheers!

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Two of my favorite Portlanders, Heather and Robert Jones celebrating 13 years together

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Asparagus Soup, Chantilly and citrus wood smoked salmon roe

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Sea Urchin Bruschetta (gasp), Salmon tartare, Dungeness Crab Ceviche

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

A little unsure about the sea urchin…it was delicious, by the way

 Imagine a room full of Portlanders, cocktails in hand,  the grill behind them being worked to a flaming frenzy by Chefs (and husband and wife) Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton. Sweat pouring of their faces and the smells of burning wood and charring flesh teasing our noses and causing our palates to salivate like someone just broke the dam.    This was Portland Food Adventures on Tuesday night. From the outside it may have looked like your typical Portland scene. Folks milling about, sipping drinks and snacking on appetizers. Inside, was electric. Folks were shoulder to shoulder in this tiny restaurant. Custom made cleverly mixed cocktails in hand crafted by the great Jamal Hassan formerly of Departure, South American music thumping above our heads,  and each one of us quivering with anticipation of what these two great chefs had up their sleeves.  See, we aren't just talking about two Portland chefs. We're talking about Greg and Gabi Denton. Two (super huggable) Portland chefs who left the highly lauded Metrovino in NW Portland to start their own restaurant from the ground up. And we've all been waiting for this moment. The moment when we could share their passion by breaking bread with them.      The concept of Ox is simple. Home cooked Argentinian inspired food with a NW twist. Or as Greg said to Eater PDX's editor, Erin de Jesus, "but of course, we live in Portland, so we have to make it a little weird". More like really really good. And we all knew it would be. This particular Portland Food Adventure series sold out in what felt like moments. Those of us of who live and breath the food world have been talking about Greg and Gabi's new venture since they announced their departure from Metrovino back in early December. And it all deliciously came together on Tuesday night during their first ever dinner.  Heirloom hominy with baby spring fava beans that made me weak in the knees. Ever so delicate duck rillettes wrapped in a buckwheat crepe and topped with a dollop of grilled rhubarb jam. Grilled asparagus that snapped crisply with each bite. Grilled sweetbreads, oh my. And it goes on and on and on. Take a look (click on the menu for a larger view):          Two of my favorite Portlanders, Heather and Robert Jones celebrating 13 years together        Asparagus Soup, chantilly and citrus wood smoked salmon roe        Salmon tartare, Dungeness Crab Ceviche Sea Urchin Bruschetta    A little unsure about the sea urchin...

Sunchoke, broccoli, black truffle and fontina empanada

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Jamal pouring El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià’s Damm Estrella InEdit

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Ox Restaurant, Portland, OR

La Incomparable Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Greg working the grill

Ox Restaurant, Portland, OR

Grilled asparagus, sesame salsa verde, radish. Alaskan halibut with skin and bone, toasted garlic, lemon, olive oil

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Grilled radicchio, lentil-dijon vinaigrette, fourme d’ambert, saba

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Greg and Gabi addressing the room amid much celebratory hooting and hollering

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Greg slicing up some skirt steak. Fried potato, horseradish aioli, dill

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR 97232

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Gabi whipped up a different dessert than what you see on the menu. Coconut sorbet with grilled pineapple

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

Chris Angelus presenting Greg and Gabi with their first two dollars

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

OX Restaurant, Portland, OR

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Meatloaf with Chimichurri Sauce

Meatloaf with Chimichurri Sauce

You can’t get much more Americana than meatloaf with potatoes. But leave it to me to fancy it up a bit and take a departure from tradition by forgoing the ubiquitous ketchup for the oh-my-god delicious chimichurri sauce. There are basically a kazillion recipes for chimichurri sauce, and I suspect every kitchen in Argentina, the sauce’s home country, has its on interpretation on the condiment. In fact, I tweaked mine here and there based on what I was craving. Heavy on the cilantro, less bite on the garlic (de-germed*), a few extra pinches of red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon for good measure.

I made this dish last night for dinner and served it with farro and spring greens. What I found is that you want to put chimichurri on EVERYTHING. I dressed the salad with it, I dressed the farro with it. And of course the meatloaf. It’s that good. I’m surprised I didn’t put it on my toast this morning! Wow, that would’ve been tasty…

Also, it’s really easy to make. A little chopping here and there, a good stir, or perhaps shake of a mason jar and your done. Serve fresh.

I should add that this isn’t your ordinary meatloaf. It’s a riff on a recipe, Meat and Spinach Loaf, in Amanda Hesser’s Essential NY Times Cookbook that involves adding greens (I used arugula because I like it better than spinach) to the mixture and topping it all off with bacon (best idea ever). It’s still good ol’ fashioned meatloaf… but just a hair fancier than your mom’s.

Cheers!

Meatloaf with Chimichurri Sauce

Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook.
* a trick I learned in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Around my French Table. She says that if you’d like
to take the bite out of garlic, which I did because I’m not a fan of raw garlic, cut the
clove in half and pop out the germ with a paring knife. Totally mellows it out.
Forgot to mention that this is the first time I’ve ever made meatloaf!

Ingredients:

For the meatloaf:

About 1/2 lb arugula, soaked in ice water, drained and dried in a salad spinner
1 lb each ground beef and ground pork
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
Sea Salt
Several generous grinds of black pepper
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 whole milk (I used almond milk because that is what I had on hand)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup cioppolini onions, finely chopped
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 slices of bacon

For the Chimichurri Sauce:

1/2 cup firmly packed flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup firmly packed cilantro, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, de-germed* and finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Squeeze from half a lemon, optional

~

Warm your oven to 350 degrees.

Place drained arugula in a saucepan over medium heat and let cook for about 3 minutes. Stirring until just wilted.

Transfer the arugula to a colander and rinse with cool water.

Squeeze out the excess water with your hands and finely chop the arugula.

Put the meat in a large bowl.

Add arugula, breadcrumbs, a few generous pinches of sea salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Put the carrot, parsley and milk in a food processor or blender. Blend well and add to the meat mixture.

Add the garlic.

Warm butter in a skillet of medium heat and add the onion. Cook until just starting to soften.

Add the onion to meat mix.

Add the eggs and mix everything together with your hands until well blended.

Shape the meat mixture and place in a loaf pan.

Lay the three strips of bacon across the top.

Bake for about 1 1/4 hour rotating the pan 180 degrees half way through.

Let stand for 20 minutes and serve with chimicurri sauce.

For the chimichurri sauce:

Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to blend.

Adjust seasonings to taste and serve fresh.

Refrigerate any leftovers and eat within a day or two.

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Red Quinoa Salad with Asparagus and Eggs

Purple Asparagus

Those of you who know me may be mildly confused (more likely, amused) as to why on earth would I make two egg dishes for my blog in less than a month when, I, in fact, can’t eat eggs. Well, I can eat them. Sort of. Just not alone, and most definitely not first thing in the morning. Oh God, no. Last time I tried that, Adam found me doubled over in pain in the kitchen with a glass of baking soda in water in one hand and aloe juice in the other. It hasn’t always been this way, but for whatever reason, about eight or so years ago, a boiled egg sent my belly into a frenzy of acid washing chaos. Ever since that ill-fated day, I’ve found that I can eat them, but only at the end of the day, with other foods, and not by themselves and definitely not when they’re the star of the dish. No frittatas with brunch, no yummy omelets, no boiled eggs sandwiches, nada. It really is a bummer…I mean, they’re such a protein powerhouse and I do feel deprived …but, that doesn’t mean I don’t love eggs and that surely won’t stop me from photographing them….and occasionally nibbling on them. They’re just too photogenic (and tasty!) to pass up.

I spotted this salad on one of my favorite go-to websites for food and photography inspiration, Australian Gourmet Traveller. Boy, would I love to shoot for them. I’ve tweaked it here and there, as usual, but the spirit of the salad is the same. I’ve made it for Easter supper and it’ll be traveling with us to Adam’s cousin’s house out in the country today. Let’s hope the Gibson clan approves :)

I hope you all have a lovely Easter, and if Easter isn’t your thing, Happy Sunday!

Cheers!

Red Quinoa Salad with Asparagus and Eggs

Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller

Ingredients:

For the salad:

1/2 cup red quinoa
6 eggs, boiled
1 bunch each green and purple asparagus
Handful of green olives, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup each chopped flat leaf parsley, mint and dill
Sumac, optional

For the Dressing:

1 Shallot, thinly sliced and caramelized
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice from one lemon
Splash of champagne vinegar, to taste
Pinch of coarse sea salt

~

Cook quinoa in 2 cups salted water. Bring to a boil and let simmer, very gently, until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is light and fluffy.

Pour quinoa into a sieve and let dry.

Cook eggs in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Rinse, peel and put aside.

Cut asparagus into 2-3 inch stalks and blanch in boiling water for about 4 minutes.

Place all of the dressing ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to blend.

~

Once all of the salad ingredients have cooled to room temperature, toss everything, except the eggs and the sumac, together in a large bowl.

Arrange eggs on top and dust generously with sumac.

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Roasted Vegetable Pappardelle with Carrot Top Pesto

© Dina Avila

Spring Roasted Vegetable Pappardelle with Carrot Top Pesto

I know my blog posts have been quit short as of late. I’ve been wanting to make pictures for you and share recipes, but I’ve been busier than usual and just haven’t had the time to sit down and write a proper post. What’s been going on? Well, if you don’t already know this about me, one of my gigs is staff photographer for Eater PDX, a groovy food and nightlife website that you’ll find in most major cities. We’ve been building our photo archives up so whenever my editor needs a quick picture of a restaurant, we have a beautiful shot to choose from, rather than borrowing one from Yelp or using a shaky picture from someone’s camera phone. Click here and here for an idea of what I’m talking about. The past couple of weeks have been packed with shoots like those and  the next couple of weeks will be the same. Love it!

Roasted Vegetable Pappardelle with Carrot Top Pesto

We also do a segment called Chef in the Kitchen and I was thrilled to find myself in the kitchen on Thursday with none other than the great Vitaly Paley! Can you believe it? Winner of the James Beard Award, Iron Chef America winner and one hell of a guy. The segment isn’t up on Eater yet, and no spoiler alert here, but I will share that after the shoot I had the privilege of sitting with Vitaly and sharing his lunch over conversations about, well food, of course. He also sent me home with a generous bouquet of dried fennel stocks. Soon to make an appearance in a blog post, so stick around! Needless to say, I was pretty high the rest of the day.

Roasted Vegetable Pappardelle with Carrot Top Pesto

I’ve also been honored to do some seasonal photography as of late for New Seasons Market here in Portland. If you take a look at their website, slide two, you’ll see an Easter Brunch spread. Also, pop over to their bakery site (click on “hot cross buns”) for a glimpse for a Hot Cross Bun shoot I did for them. I really love shooting for New Seasons. They are warm and generous folks and definitely one of my favorite new clients! Here’s one of my favorite shots that I did for them that was featured on their Facebook page.

New Season's Market Hot Cross Buns

I also did another shoot for 1859 Magazine. Yes! Just love them :) A tiny shoot of likely the tiniest bathroom I’ve ever been in one of the most beautiful historic Craftsmen homes I’ve ever been in. Check out their current issue for a peek.

So, that’s where I’ve been folks! Phew!

Cheers!

Oh! Last but not least, Adam and finally found our wedding rings! They’re vintage, turn of the century and totally our style…I know our wedding is still two months away, but my ring is so pretty that I really want to start wearing it now!

Wedding Rings

Spring Roasted Vegetable Pappardelle with Carrot Top Pesto and Meatballs

I found inspiration for this meal in the pages of this month’s Sunset Magazine.
The carrot top pesto was something of an epiphany, I mean, who would have thought?
Definitely don’t skip the pesto. As you grind it in your food processor, it smells like freshly
shorn grass. Just like spring. 

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

1 lb grass-fed beef
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
A couple of generous pinches of salt
A couple of generous grinds of fresh black pepper
Zest from about half a lemon
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 large egg

For the roasted vegetables:

4-5 cipollino onions, peeled and cut in to eighths.
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 lb small yellow potatoes
1/2 lb carrots, cut in to thirds, and then each third cut into half or quarters depending on the size of your carrot
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry sherry or dry white wine
Zest from about 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

For the pasta:

8 oz pappardelle pasta
1/2 cup frozen peas 

For the pesto:

One bunch carrot tops
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
salt
olive oil

~

For the meatballs:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands.

Roll mixture into 1-2 inch balls and place on baking sheet.

Cover with plastic wrap and set the pan in your fridge to chill as you prepare the other ingredients.

For the pesto:

Toss all of the ingredients except the olive oil in to your food processor and process until finely ground.

Slowly drizzle olive oil, while processing, until desired consistency is reached.

For the roasted veggies:

Remove the baking sheet with the meatballs from the fridge and toss the shrink-wrap.

Preheat your oven to 425.

Toss all of the veggies in a large bowl with the olive oil.

Gently spoon the veggies onto the baking sheet with the meatballs and bake for about 30 minutes. Until the meatballs are cooked through and the veggies start to turn golden.

Remove from oven and pour the dry sherry over the veggies and meatballs.

In the meantime, place the papardelle in a large pot of boiling salted water.

Toss the peas in and give it a good stir.

Cook pasta according to the package directions.

When al dente, drain all except about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta and peas back in the pot and pour the pasta water on top.

Stir the meatballs and veggies in with the pasta.

Add the lemon zest, salt and pepper, chopped parsley and pesto.

Serve with a generous squeeze of lemon and a side of pesto in case the pasta needs a bit more.

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