Archive for January, 2013

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I have a gloriously busy schedule of back-to-back magazine shoots this week so, in lieu of a recipe, I thought I’d share my most recently published shoot with Portland Monthly. Be sure to pick up a copy as it’s a great article. The Ocean, on the corner of NE 24th and Glisan is a little gem practically right around the corner from where we live (yes, we frequent it. a lot) and I was thrilled to be able photograph it. If you live in Portland and you haven’t been, I suggest you go soon. And trust me. You CAN eat a dozen Uno Mas tacos…



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© Dina Avila

Hi folks! It’s cold out there and I’ve been spending my days over the past few weeks cozying up with very large mugs of tea, my computer and my work from the past couple of years. I realized recently that as my photography work has evolved that it was time for my website to follow suit. There will be some changes around here before too long as well. Yay!

Would love to hear your thoughts and feedback!



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© Dina Avila

All images © Dina Avila 2013

DinaFlourish (1)22

I wasn’t sure if I was going to share this recipe with you. I found it while sifting through soup recipes at and it stopped my in my tracks. I absolutely love fennel. Adore it. But I’ve never made fennel soup and the recipe kind of took my by surprise. It’s original version has all of seven ingredients-including salt and pepper. I, of course, tweaked it here and there and, I have to admit, this soup kind of blew me away. The fennel simmers for a long time and you would think it would develop a concentrated licorice-y flavor. It does not. In fact, it stays bright and green tasting even when cooked to virtual mush. Granted I added a splash of Champagne vinegar and a dash of tarragon towards the end of cooking to facilitate that brightness, but I think the soup would be perfect if the original recipe was followed to a T.

Adam and I stirred it pieces of freshly roasted chicken and it took this soup to a new level. It became what chicken soup aspires to be. Perfect when it’s barely 29° just on the other side of the windows.

Speaking of roasted chicken, I usually make my roasted chicken according to my recipe that you can find here, but decided to rub the skin in slightly melted butter (along with salt, pepper and dried thyme) rather than olive oil. What a difference! It may very well have been the most delectable crispy chicken skin I’ve ever had. So good that I had difficulty resisting peeling bits of skin off to nibble on before serving.



Winter Fennel Soup

Adapted from


3 medium fennel bulbs

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cups chicken stock

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed clean and quartered.

About a teaspoon of dried tarragon

A pinch or two red pepper flakes, to taste

A splash or two Champagne vinegar

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Trim and quarter your fennel reserving about two tablespoons of the fronds.

Remove the core and cut the fennel into medium-sized chunks.

Warm the butter and olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.

Add the fennel, shallots and one cul of the stock.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Until the fennel is soft and becoming translucent.

Turn the heat up a notch and add the potatoes.

Pour in the remaining 3 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes and stir the tarragon, Champagne vinegar and red pepper flakes.

Let simmer for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are very soft.

Season with salt and pepper.

Gently mash the vegetables with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Until the soup is creamy but still a bit chunky.

Add water or stock if the soup is too thick for your taste.

Remove the pot from the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes before serving so the flavors can develop.

Serve warm with a few fresh fennel fronds and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Some slivers of fresh pecorino romano would be a great addition.

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© Dina Avila

All images © Dina Avila 2013

DinaFlourish (1)22

I woke up this morning with giant snowflakes falling from the sky. Sadly, they’ve ended their descent, but it’s still a cozy winter’s day and what better way to warm up your belly than with squash topped shepherd’s pie. This recipe is a riff on your traditional shepherd’s pie. I pulled it out of one my favorite cookbooks that somehow has worked it’s way to the bottom of the stack of cookbooks in our kitchen and left seemingly forgotten. I’m so glad I’ve rediscovered it because it is a gem of a book. If you don’t have Louisa Shafia’s Lucid Food in your collection, I suggest you pick it up soon. It’s lined with an abundance of healthy and inspiring seasonal recipes with mediterranean twist. Right up my alley.

I made this dish last night and it was a hit. Rustic, hearty, but tweaked just enough from your original version of shepherd’s pie so you don’t feel heavy from a meat and potato coma. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but I think we’re all still feeling a little gloopy from the holidays. What better way to counter that then with a healthy and seasonal meal.



Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie with Gremolata

Adapted from Lucid Food by Louisa Shafia

I bought a bulb of fennel to slice and add to this dish. Sadly, it was overlooked and left in the crisper.
I think it would have made a wonderful addition to the meal. If adding fennel sounds good to you, I say go for it.


Two acorn squash

Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

2 cups fresh arugula, roughly torn

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can chickpeas, rinsed well

1 cup of walnuts, pulsed in your food processor until coarse

4 anchovy filets, minced

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup bread crumbs

For the Gremolata:

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley

Zest from one lemon


Warm your oven to 400°F

Half your squash and brush with olive oil. Dust with salt and pepper, place on baking sheet and bake for about 50 minutes. Until soft when poked with a fork.

Let squash cool then scoop the meat into your food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

Warm a large pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

Add the onion and sauté until soft.

Add the arugula and cook for about two minutes.

Stir in the garlic, chickpeas, walnuts and anchovies.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 15 minutes.

Pour the chickpea mixture into a 10-inch pie dish. A casserole or Pyrex would work great, as well.

Using a spatula, spread the squash purée evenly over the top of the chickpeas.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the squash and then drizzle with the remaining olive oil.

Place the pie in your 400° oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Just until the bread crumbs brown.

Serve with the gremolata on the side for dusting.

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