Tuesday, April 30, 2013
For years I've been ripping off the tops of bunches of carrots and tossing them in the compost. When a checker at the store would ask if I'd like the frilly greens removed, I'd say, "Why, yes, thanks!"
"Roots," an encyclopedic tour of those edibles that grow beneath the soil. In it she describes that she, too, was a carrot top tosser until she found out they were edible, and I've since had several conversations with other former carrot top naïfs who now use the frilly, slightly carrot-y tasting tips in salads, sauces and sautés.
Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Pesto
My friend Hank Shaw, a forager and hunter of some reknown, loves to serve the game animals he hunts with the food that they may forage in the wild. Serving the carrots with their tops, while not quite the same thing, gives me a similar thrill.
1 bunch carrots with greens
1-2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. pine nuts (toasted in a dry skillet, if desired)
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. olive oil
Preheat oven to 400°.
Remove greens from carrots, leaving 1-2" of stems attached. (I try to get long, slender carrots for roasting, but if the carrots are thicker, halve them lengthwise or chop into 1/2" coins.) Brush with olive oil and arrange on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30-40 min. until fork-tender.
For the pesto, remove leaves from carrot stems as you would with parsley or cilantro. Put the leaves in a blender and add garlic, pine nuts and salt. Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and purée, drizzling in remainder of olive oil, plus more if needed, to make a finely textured sauce.
Place roasted carrots on platter and drizzle with pesto, or serve carrots plated with drizzle of pesto. I usually put the remainder in a bowl on the table for pesto addicts to serve themselves.
The red stalks of rhubarb that appear at farmers' markets and grocery stores this time of year, along with tender green things like raab, nettles and miner's lettuce, are among the first harbingers of spring, a sure sign that, once again, winter has breathed its last cold breath on the Willamette Valley.
The rhubarb phosphate.
I've been a fan of this sourest of vegetables from childhood, when I'd take a stalk off the kitchen counter where my mom was chopping it for a crisp or pie and, much to her chagrin, chomp down on it, letting the full glory of its acidic sourness fill my mouth. So when I heard that my dear friend Dave Shenaut at Raven & Rose was working up a cocktail featuring my favorite spring ingredient, I asked if he'd be willing to share a recipe or two with the readers of GoodStuffNW.
The Bonnie Wee Lass rhubarb cocktail.
The best part is that these drinks are based on a syrup rather than an infused alcohol, meaning it can be used as an ingredient in a delicious cocktail, of course, but it can also be combined with soda or lemonade for a refreshing beverage to serve at brunch or for sipping on the patio. The syrup will keep for a week or two in the fridge, but it can also be frozen for enjoying on a hot summer day.
And a note on phosphates, those spritzy, fizzy drinks that were the specialty of soda fountains in the late 1800s and early 1900s. At Raven & Rose, Mr. Shenaut is determined to bring back classic beverages like the phosphate, and is looking to beverage writer and itinerant bartender Darcy S. O'Neil's book Fix the Pumps as one of his guides. I'd highly recommend it, as well as O'Neil's blog, Art of Drink, for some fascinating reading.
From Dave Shenaut at Raven and Rose
3 lbs. rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1/2" pieces (redder rhubarb will make a more intensely colored syrup)
Place chopped rhubarb in large saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook over low heat until rhubarb is tender, 15-20 min. Strain through fine mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth, pressing gently to release the liquid. If you want a completely clear syrup it might take more than one filtering. Discard the solids. Measure or weigh the remaining liquid and add an equal amount of sugar. Heat the syrup in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Chill.
From Dave Shenaut at Raven and Rose
3/4 oz. rhubarb syrup
1/2 oz. lemon juice
2-3 drops rose water
10 dashes of phosphate
Half fill a glass with ice, then add the syrup, lemon juice, rose water and phosphate. Fill with seltzer. Garnish with sprig of lemon balm.
* If you don't have phosphate and seltzer, simply substitute soda water. The flavor will be slightly different, but still lovely.
Bonnie Wee Lass
From Dave Shenaut at Raven and Rose
2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. rhubarb syrup
3/4 oz. lemon juice
2 drops rose water
Sprig of lemon balm for garnish
Fill a shaker 2/3 full of ice. Add gin, syrup, lemon juice and rose water. Shake, then strain into cocktail glass. For the garnish, Mr. Shenaut mists the sprig of lemon balm with absinthe and sprinkles it with superfine sugar before setting it gently on the surface of the cocktail, but the sprig by itself would be fine, too.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I was raised in the Episcopal Church in the "mission diocese" of Eastern Oregon. Oddly, contrary to that region of the state's right-leaning politics, the diocese was quite liberal theologically, which meant it didn't have the "smells and bells" of incense and ringing of chimes to signal the progress of the service. Instead, in 1979 it was among the first dioceses in the nation to get (paperback) copies of the brand new Revised Book of Common Prayer, which translated the ancient cadences (and at times indecipherable language) of King James into American English.
That new version of the old book changed everything, from the iconic Lord's Prayer to the words said during Holy Communion when, instead of receiving wafers of pressed cardboard…I mean, um…flour and water, we got actual pieces of bread torn from loaves made by the women of the church.
Though I've left those religious beliefs behind, I still embrace the idea that whole foods, whether made at home or store-bought, nourish both body and soul. Which is why I was so thrilled when Dave started making bread here at home.
At first it was hit-or-miss as he tried one recipe after another, nothing really measuring up to the rustic, hard-crusted, flavorful loaves he wanted to produce. He tried the no-knead style, which was pretty good, and the technique of misting the oven during baking, which improved the crust but still wasn't hitting the mark. He even made his own sourdough starter from the yeast left at the bottom of a bottle of Hair of the Dog's Doggie Claws.
He went through a dozen kinds of flour, from bulk unbleached to whole wheat to packaged brands, and shapes from boules to baguettes. He cruised blogs and artisan bread web sites like The Fresh Loaf, searching for hints from other folks who were on the same quest. After more than a year of less-than-stellar results, he was getting a little frustrated.
Cast iron pans did the trick.
Then, one Christmas, our friends Kathryn and Jeff got him a book, Tartine Bread, by Chad Robertson of San Francisco's legendary Tartine Bakery. Like the revised prayer book from my youth, it became a game-changer. Following Robertson's suggestion, Dave invested in a cast iron "combo cooker," the bottom a deep pan and the top a shallow frying pan. By inverting it, he could plop the risen dough into the shallow section, score the loaf and cover it with the deeper pan, containing the moisture released by the bread during baking. Halfway through baking the top pan was removed and the loaf returned to the oven to finish baking.
His biggest fan.
The results that first time were so startling that Dave ordered another cast iron pan and hasn't looked back since. He continues to tinker with the dough, and every two weeks he spends a day making several loaves that are stored in the freezer until we need them. It's called "Uncle Dave's bread" by our 3-year-old nephew, who asks for it every time he comes over and who invariably goes home with a loaf. Talk about nourishing body and soul…for us that's what it's all about.
And two bruisers they are! The biggest puppies Coedwig Cardigans has had in 30 years of working with this breed, these as-yet-unnamed little dudes weighed in at 17 and 19 oz. each. (Normal birth weight for this breed varies between 8 and 12 oz. each.)
(These shots were taken a little over 24 hours after they were born.)
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
This is an amazing picture of a chick just as it's hatching from its egg. Hatched in an incubator at my friend Kim's house, it had begun to crack the shell a couple of hours earlier. Its siblings were starting to hatch as well, with cracks appearing and little bits of shell popping off.
Kim told me to pick up one of the cracked-but-unhatched eggs and hold it up to my ear. From inside came a strident "Cheep!" By the end of the day all of the chicks had hatched and were on their way to a warming box to start their journey to chickenhood. Cool!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
According to Wikipedia, "mizuna (Japanese: 水菜 'water greens')—also called shui cai, kyona, Japanese mustard, potherb mustard, Japanese greens, California peppergrass, and spider mustard—is a cultivated variety of Brassica rapa nipposinica. The name is also used for Brassica juncea var. japonica."
Pasta with Mizuna, Sundried Tomatoes and Walnuts
1 lb. pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Several cloves garlic, very finely chopped, about 1/8 c.
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/3 c. sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch mizuna, roughly chopped
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat till it shimmers. Add garlic and sauté briefly until it warms, then add walnuts, sundried tomatoes and mizuna. Sauté until mizuna wilts and add Worchestershire sauce and salt to taste. Remove from heat if pasta isn't done. When pasta is drained, place in serving bowl and top with mizuna mixture, tossing to combine. Serve with parmesan for sprinkling.
Friday, April 19, 2013
The straccetti sandwich was created in the 1960s in a small trattoria in Rome, according to Cathy Whims. The name tranlates as "small rags" and refers to the thin strips of marinated steak that are seared quickly then tossed with bright seasonal greens.
When Rick Gencarelli of Lardo invited Whims to create the first sandwich in his "Guest Chef" series, with proceeds going to the chef's designated charity, the Roman sensation seemed the perfect ticket for Lardo's meat-centric menu. With provolone cheese, chopped roasted asparagus and horseradish creme fraiche added to the traditional preparation, I can tell you from a personal taste test that this Italian import is not to be missed.
And the charity? Whims chose Friends of Family Farmers, a group dedicated to fostering and supporting small family farmers in Oregon. Smart cookie, that Whims, since her restaurant, along with so many in our area, depends on those same small farmers to supply them with the goodness they feature on their menus!
Details: Guest Chef Series at Lardo: Cathy Whims' Straccetti. Available mid-April through mid-May, $10, with proceeds benefiting Friends of Family Farmers. Lardo East, 1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd.; 503-234-7786. Lardo West, 1205 SW Washington St.; 503-241-2490.
Monday, April 15, 2013
There are some things it takes me an embarrassingly long time to get around to. Like learning how to roast a chicken. Or, perhaps more surprisingly, trying and subsequently falling in love with bourbon. I'd heard a lot about Rick Gencarelli and his Lardo food cart, but it took until he'd opened not one, but two, brick-and-mortar outlets for me to get in there. The focus, of course, is meat, mostly of the porcine variety, in all its wondrous incarnations: smoked, ground, grilled, braised and fried. There are a couple of vegetarian sandwiches, a few salads, a long tap beer list. (Word is, Gencarelli's planning on simplifying the menu and making it into a chain operation.)
Details: Lardo Eastside, 1212 SE Hawthorne. 503-234-7786.
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Tacos, to me, are the perfect street food, best consumed standing up outside where the juices and, occasionally, some of the contents can trickle onto the ground. Ideally, that would be on a sandy beach in Mexico or from a market stand in the city with people and scooters hustling by loaded down with what will become the day's meals.
Uno Mas makes that a pleasure, especially with the handmade corn tortillas and authentic fillings and sauces of Oswaldo Bibiano's latest Mexican eatery.
Details: Uno Mas Taquiza, 2337 NE Glisan St. 503-208-2764.
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One of the absolute best perks of being a writer is the opportunity to meet and get to know people I might never have had the chance to talk to in my normal life. One of those was an interview with Tina and David Bergen (below left) owners of the landmark restaurant Tina's in Dundee, for last year's spring wine guide in the Oregonian.
Prices, as you might expect, aren't cheap, but for a special day out in the country in spring, you won't find better, more beautifully prepared ingredients anywhere, or more lovely people.
Details: Tina's, 760 Hwy 99W, Dundee. 503-538-8880.
Photo of David and Tina Bergen by Beth Nakamura for the Oregonian.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
What could be more appropriate for one of the hottest and most progressive food regions in the U.S. than a film festival featuring six new films covering topics of sustainability, food supply, nature and the environment? Just such a series, the Portland Ecofilm Festival, is queued up and ready to roll starting tomorrow and continuing through the summer at the Hollywood Theatre, starting with Symphony of the Soil from director Deborah Koons Garcia (Jerry Garcia's widow) in attendance with a Q&A hosted by Naomi Montacre of Naomi's Organic Garden Supply. Other films in the series include The Fruit Hunters, Elemental, More than Honey, Musicwood and Cafeteria Man. What a great idea for summer entertainment!
Details: Portland Ecofilm Festival. Schedule and tickets for individual films or a festival pass to all six available online. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd. 503-281-4215.
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Beautiful Beans: Grow. Cook. Eat. on Thursday, April 18. Sponsored by the Portland Culinary Alliance, Edible Portland and the Better Bean Company, it features a moderated panel of "Beanthusiasts" (their word, not mine) including Hannah Kullberg of Better Bean Company, the beautiful and talented Carol Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm, pantry maven and teacher Katherine Deumling of Cook with What You Have and Dr. Samantha Brody, founder of Evergreen Natural Health Center, who will address the nutritional aspects of the legume. As if that weren't enough, there will be a tasting of various beans grown at Ayers Creek and a borlotti bean bruschetta from the good folks at Ava Gene's.
Details: Beautiful Beans: Grow. Cook. Eat. Thurs., April 18, 6:30-8:30 pm; $15 (tickets online). Event at Ecotrust, 721 NW 9th Ave., Suite 200.
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Beaverton Farmers' Market, sits smack-dab in the middle of one of Oregon's most bounteous agricultural areas and draws heavily from farmers and fields within miles of its suburban location. Unusually, it also features a stunning array of plants for vegetable gardens, yard and home, due to manager and dedicated plantswoman Ginger Rapport, who has made it her mission to gather the best of the best small nurseries to her market. The debut of the market's 25th season is on Saturday, May 11, and it'll be a bang-up celebration with food demos, music and a plethora of special events. Put it on your calendar!
Details: Beaverton Farmers' Market Summer Market. Sat., May 11; 8 am-1:30 pm. On SW Hall Blvd. between 3rd and 5th Sts. in downtown Beaverton. 503-643-5345.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Funny how it is with cookbook authors whose work I know and admire—the pages of their books get well-thumbed and splotched, and over time they're like old friends. For instance, I've never met Patricia Wells, but her books on country French cooking have inspired me for years, and continue to do so. I've even toured her house in France a few times, if only in the pages of her books and travel magazines. That pretty much means I know her well enough to call her Patty, right?
Patricia Wells at Home in Provence (one of those with pictures of her farmhouse in France), she shares a recipe for scalloped potatoes with artichokes that doesn't have the usual cream-based sauce, but instead relies on the juices and fat from a leg of lamb roasted atop them to baste the potatoes to perfection. I found another version of the same technique, attributed to Ms. Wells, in Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso's The New Basics Cookbook, though that recipe substituted onions and tomatoes for the artichokes.
In my version, all I do is drizzle the sliced potatoes and vegetables with some wine and olive oil and it's just as rich and luscious as any creamed version. It makes a terrific side for dinner, with or without the meat roasted on top, and it pairs with chicken, pork, lamb, salmon or just about any other roasted meat you can imagine. Or not, since it's basically all vegetables, thus qualifying it as vegan!
I think Patty would approve, though, to tell the truth, she really seems like more of "Patricia" sort to me.
Scalloped Potatoes with Leeks, Onions and Olives
1 clove garlic, halved
1 yellow onion, halved lengthwise, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and cut in 1/2" slices
1 c. oil-cured olives, pitted and torn in half
4 medium-sized russet potatoes, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, 4-6 c.
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 c. white wine
1/3 c. olive oil
Preheat oven to 350°.
Rub the inside of 9" by 12" baking dish with the cut sides of the garlic clove. Discard garlic. Add half the potatoes, spreading them evenly across the bottom of the dish. Add half the sliced onions, then half the leeks in even layers. Scatter half the olives and oregano over the top. Salt lightly. Repeat with the rest of the potatoes, onions, leeks, olives and oregano to make a second layer. Salt lightly. Drizzle the top with the wine and olive oil. Bake for 45 min. to 1 hour until top is browned and potatoes are tender. Serve.
Friday, April 05, 2013
"Good things come to those who wait."
This old proverb extolling the virtues of patience has been appropriated by advertising agencies—Heinz ketchup and Guinness come to mind—and generations of moms with squirmy kids. (The moms, of course, potently implying that its opposite is also true.)
Katherine meeting her meat.
I'm embarking on a project with Katherine Miller, editor of the Oregonian's FoodDay section, which will test my patience to the limit. That is, we're making prosciutto, the Italian style of dry-curing a whole leg of pork.
The process of dry-curing, I've come to realize, is not like making bacon, which cures for a week in the fridge and is then smoked for a few hours, whereupon it is completely edible. Nor is it like pancetta, which requires a week of curing and is hung in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks before you can indulge.
Kendra and Ivan of Goat Mountain Pastured Meats.
No, prosciutto is a much, much more protracted process, curing in salt for at least twelve days and hanging to dry-cure for up to a year. Yes, a year. Twelve months. Three hundred sixty five days—you catch my drift. No wonder wannabe charcutiers get wigged out just thinking about it. That's a long time to find out that you've just invested considerable time and money into what has become a big pile of moldy, not to mention potentially lethal, protein.
Eric of Mt. Angel Meat cradling our prosciutto-to-be.
But hey, I thought it would make a good story, not to mention a tasty experiment, so I convinced Katherine we should do it together. Plus I think it helped that she got to meet a couple of my favorite meat farmers, Kendra Kimbirauskas and her husband, Ivan Maluski, of Goat Mountain Pastured Meats in Colton, and canoodle with their placid porkers.
We picked up the 25-lb. leg this morning from Eric at Mt. Angel Meat Co., a USDA-certified meat processor, salted it down, wrapped it in plastic and set it under weights in Katherine's fridge. I'll be able to tell you how it went in a year or so!
Thursday, April 04, 2013
Introducing a new series I could also call, "I Can't Believe You Just Said That." Please feel free to share your own stories, either by e-mail or in the comments below. They might just become future installments!
My friend Kim told me that recently she had a houseguest who refused to eat the eggs from Kim's pasture-raised, grass-fed chickens. That was because the houseguest only eats white eggs.
Her reason? "Brown eggs are dirty."
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Recently I had reason to recall an evening we spent in Mexico several years ago:
"Strolling through the Centro Historico on a moonlit evening, a light breeze causing the temperature to dip down to, oh, 78 degrees. The doorways were lit by wrought iron streetlamps, people were just beginning to leave their day at the beach to have dinner." Then, arriving at our restaurant, "we sat and listened to the people chatting with their families and scolding their kids, the waiters joking with their tables and taking orders. It was a warm night and the voices, all in Spanish, blended with the music floating on the light evening breeze."
Pollo en molé poblano.
Memories of the warmth, the languor, the smell of chiles and limes and the sea all swirled around me during our dinner at Xico (pron. CHEE-koh), Kelly Myers' tiny jewel of a restaurant on Division. It might just as well have been on Mazatlan's Plazuela Machado, so strongly did it remind me of the magical days we spent in that colonial town.
And it's no wonder. Like the best Mexican restaurants, Myers grinds all her own masa in-house from (non-GMO) field corn that goes into the tortillas, tacos, huaraches, tlacoyos, chips, quesadillas and masa-based dishes. Same goes for the plethora of chiles—including dried and fresh guajillo, ancho, poblano, arbol, mulato and others—that flavor the authentic handmade molés, salsas and other sauces and gently infuse so many of her dishes.
Taco trio on handmade field corn tortillas.
Family-friendly pricing with a kids' menu that doesn't stoop to pander, the menu has a strong list of antojitos, or small plates, that range from chips and fry bread to guacamole and hefty salads. The "platos" are entrées that include classics like chicken molé, a roasted whole trout pozole (top photo) that's been called crush-worthy by the Oregonian's Mike Russell, and a chile-braised pork shoulder-and-belly and a Mexican-style grilled flank that are both to die for.
Flourless chocolate cake with chile-chocolate ganache and cinnamon chantilly.
While I don't mean to slight a treasured restaurant from the past, I actually prefer the setting of this place over the much-lamented Cafe Azul, which carried the lone torch of authentic Mexican cuisine at the time. Contrasted with Azul's more formal setting, Xico is relaxingly casual, with a strong cocktail menu and a much-touted wine list, the perfect place to enjoy an intimate dinner for two or gather with a larger group (the better to tour the menu…hint, hint).
Details: Xico, 3715 SE Division St. 503-548-6343.