Archive for October, 2012

All images © Dina Avila

I may have gone a little crazy this weekend. Poking through cookbooks and looking for recipes to share, and well, I just couldn’t stop at just one. Originally, I was just looking for another nice soup for Adam and I to nurse for a few days when I spied the caramelized Shallot Soup in the October issue of Martha Stewart and just couldn’t pass it up. I changed a bit, resting chunks of toasted bread on the bottom of the bowl to make it a heartier soup, but the soul of the soup is the same. The beet salad from the Moro East cookbook (a book that I cherish even more since the commons that were photographed and written about in the book have, very unfortunately and sadly, since been demolished for the London Olympics) offered a vibrancy that jumped out at me. I mean, look at that pistachio sauce! Lastly, an English style apple pudding, which is more like an incredibly decadent unbelievably moist and airy cake. Need I say more? Adam and I went to an Apple Fest here in Portland and picked up fifteen pounds of apples. Yep. I suspect you’ll be seeing a few more apple type recipes on leek soup in the near future quite possibly including Adam’s quest for making hard apple cider. The pudding takes some effort and time and if you have a traditional pudding mold definitely use it. I do not have a pudding mold so I used vintage jam jars and a few ramekins which worked perfectly.

The other reason why I offer you a post with three recipes is that next week or two look be especially busy with photo shoots and I fear my blog may be pushed to the side, as usual. Hopefully these recipes will give you plenty to chew on for a while.

And yes, that is an evil looking black pig with the pudding. Just ’cause :)


Caramelized Shallot Soup

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
I thought roasted chicken would go well with this soup. Find my recipe here.


5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 lbs shallots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 dry sherry or dry white wine
2 bay leaves
7 cups beef broth, preferably home-made

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chestnuts , roasted, peeled and roughly chopped
About 1 cup comte or Gruyère, shredded
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

Thick slices of peasant bread for each bowl, lightly toasted and cut in half.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the shallots and salt.
Let cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are browned and caramelized. About 30 minutes.
Add the sherry and cook until it evaporates.
Pour in the beef broth and add the bay leaves.
Bring soup to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the soup is reduced by about a third.

Warm the olive oil in a small sauté pan and add the nuts.
Saute until crisp.
Let cool.

Ladle the soup into deep bowls lined with a chunk of toasted peasant bread.

Top generously with nuts, cheese and parsley.

Beet Salad with Pistachio Sauce

Adapted from Moro East Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark


For the Salad:

About 1/2 pound beets, cooked, peeled, and thinly sliced
Small handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Sauce:

About 2 ounces shelled pistachios, finely chopped
1 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Scant 1 1/4 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon powdered sugar
3.5 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water, optional

Place the salad ingredients on a serving dish.
Mix all of the sauce ingredients together and spread over the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Caramel Apple Steamed Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

Adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Julie Richardson


3 large apples, 1 1/2 cored and thinly sliced, the other 1/2 cored and grated
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the Caramel:

1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Pudding:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk

Vanilla Sauce:

1 cup buttermilk
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 teaspoons  Marsala, optional


Melt the butter in a large skillet and lay the apple slices in the pan.
Let cook until browned and caramelized, flipping to brown the other side.

To Make the Caramel:

Put the water and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
Bring the sugar to a boil, but don’t stir.
Use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush down the sides of the pan.
Remove from heat when the sugar is just turning amber.

Pour the caramel in your pudding pan or jelly cups and swirl until all the surfaces are covered and the caramel is cool. Don’t burn yourself!
Arrange the apple slices on the bottom of the molds.

To Make the Pudding:

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a small bowl.
In a larger bowl, using a handheld mixer, cream the butter, sugar and molasses until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time.
Stir in the flour mixture in thirds. Stir in one-third, then stir in half the buttermilk. Stir in a second third, then stir in the rest of the buttermilk. Stir in the final third.
Fold in the grated apples.
Spoon the batter in the molds and tap down to pop any bubbles.
Cover the molds tightly with foil and set in a saucepan with about an inch between the sides of the pan and the molds.
Pour boiling water into the saucepan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the molds.
Bring water to a gently simmer and cover the pan.
Let steam for 90 minutes.
Once cooked (insert a toothpick to see if it comes out clean), use your tongs to place the molds, foil side down, on to a cooling rack.
Let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the pudding from the mold. I used a toothpick gently inserted into the side to help loosen the pudding.

Serve warm drizzled with vanilla sauce.
Store wrapped in plastic at room temperature for up to five days.

To Make the Vanilla Sauce:

Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium low heat until just warm.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and sale until just thickened.
Gently pour half of the milk into the mixture whisking constantly.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens. Stir constantly.

Place a bowl over an ice bath and strain the cream through a sieve over the bowl.
Add the vanilla and stir until cool.
Add the marsala and refrigerate until completely chilled. About two hours.


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This shot is my favorite of the lot

All images © Dina Avila

I promise you an epic recipe(s!) post tomorrow, but for now, allow me to treat your weary eyes to a bit of eye candy. Meet Kyle Webster, bartender extraordinaire at St. Jack here in Portland. These images are from a recent shoot I did with Portland Monthly Magazine for their November issue. If you’re looking for an exquisite cocktail crafted by a true gentleman and a stand-up fellow, then take my advice and visit Kyle. Look but don’t touch ladies and gents. Recently married to the incredibly talented and gorgeous Chef Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, Kyle is blissfully taken.


P.S. Yes, I realize this totally reads like a gossip column…;)

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Wow. Things have been busy around here. Magazine shoots (yet to be published), restaurant shoots, food festival shoots, you name it and I’ve been pretty much doing it. As always, my blog falls by the wayside during these busy times and I find I always have a lingering sense of guilt in my gut for not posting recipes. I try to appease you with photos that offer a glimpse into my world when I’m not shooting a recipe for you, but it’s not the same, I know. With the weather turning my favorite shade of grey, however, it offers me much more time to make pictures in my kitchen (instead of rushing to beat the horridly colored bounce that the bright sunshine brings). So let’s hope that means you’ll be seeing more food photography and recipes on leek soup. Hurray!

Today I offer you an incredibly simple tomato basil soup recipe. There are a about kazillion versions of tomato basil soup floating around the internet, so I won’t necessarily claim this as my own, but there’s really no one to credit either.

The second recipe is lifted directly out of the pages of (as usual, I know) Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce. The only think I tweaked was the flour (used whole wheat instead of all-purpose) and the milk (used almond instead of whole) so the recipe is fully Kim’s. You will love these crackers. Kim has a nifty trick of grating perfectly (and I mean perfect) boiled egg yolks in the flour mix to create a moist and tender center in the cracker. Just delicious and goes oh so perfectly with tomato basil soup.


Oh! I almost forgot to mention that Huffington Post Taste has included two of my farro recipes (Slides 6 and 14) in a recipe round-up! What an honor!

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato season is just about at a close, but I think you could easily make this entirely with high quality canned tomatoes.


2 lbs ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
Generous pinch of salt
Several grinds of black pepper
1 1/2 cups shallots, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
1 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 quart chicken stock

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Slice your tomatoes in half and toss them with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread the tomatoes out in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

Warm the rest of the olive oil and the butter in a soup pot or dutch oven.
Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions turn brown and are starting to char a bit. About 10 minutes.
Stir in the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme and chicken stock.
Add the roasted tomatoes including the juices and oil on the cookie sheet.
Bring to a boil and let simmer, uncovered, for 4o minutes.

Ladle small batches of the soup into a blender and purée to desired consistency.
Serve warm or cold.

Seeded Crackers

Adapted from Kim Boyce’s Bird Crackers, Good to the Grain

Once you boil eggs Kim’s way, you’ll never go back.


2 eggs

Dry Mix:

1 1/2 cups barley flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Wet Mix:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup almond milk


1 egg for egg wash
Poppy and sesame seeds
Coarse sea salt

Fill a small saucepan with cold water and place eggs in the pan.
Bring the eggs to a boil, turn off heat, and let rest for 18 minutes.
After 18 minutes is up, rinse the eggs in cold water and place in an ice bath.

Warm your oven to 450 degrees

Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and seeds in to a large bowl. Toss in any seeds and bits of flour sitting at the bottom of the sifter.
Using your hands, add the butter to the dry mix and rub until the butter is the size of peas.
Peel your eggs and toss the whites.
Using a micro plane, gently grate the yolks into the dry mix.
Add the almond milk and stir until just combined.

Scrape out your dough onto a generously floured work surface.
Fold it a few times to bring all the bits together, but don’t knead.
Roll out the dough until it’s about a 1/4 inch thick.
The dough will be crumbly and dry but just use your fingers to help press all the broken bits together.
Use a biscuit cutter or a knife to cut out your crackers and place on a parchment lined baking sheets.
Whisk the egg into an egg wash and gently brush each cracker twice. Dust with seeds and coarse sea salt.
Bake in the oven for 10 -15 minutes rotating halfway through.

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Photograph of the Day

Barge and Canoeing, Big Island, Hawaii, July 2012

All images © Dina Avila 2012

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Kawaiahe Harbor Grave, Hawaii, June 2012

All images © Dina Avila 2012

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Market PDX

Note the groovy barstools? Repurposed wine barrels handmade by Ian Crawford of Vinoture. I have two smaller versions in my kitchen :)


I had the honor of being hired by Chefstable to photograph one of their newest restaurants, Market, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorite images. A couple of these were on Eater PDX, as well.


Market PDX

All photos © Dina Avila 2012

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