Thursday, January 31, 2013
"We're two generations removed from stay-at-home moms. We don't have home economics in schools any more. Where do people learn to cook?" Kathryn LaSusa-Yeomans asks.
Her answer, as she explains in my interview with her for Food Farmer Earth, was to start a business she calls The Farmer's Feast, teaching free cooking classes at area farmers' markets.
Watch part one of the interview, Anatomy of a Pop-up Restaurant. In this week's kitchen segment, Kathryn shows how incredibly simple it is to make a basic risotto. To get regular updates on local producers featured on Food Farmer Earth, consider a free subscription.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
In this interview for Food Farmer Earth, I talk with Kathryn LaSusa-Yeomans of The Farmer's Feast, who dissects the elements that go into making her incredibly successful pop-up restaurant experiences.
“What’s a pop-up?”
It’s the question that Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans gets asked the most about her recent venture. A seasoned chef who early in her career trained with the likes of Lidia Bastianich and Diana Kennedy, Yeomans worked in restaurants in her home state of New York and in her adopted home in Portland, Oregon.
At a certain point, though, she needed to break free of the constraints of restaurant kitchens to pursue her dream of teaching people to cook using market-fresh, seasonal ingredients. With the birth of her own company, The Farmer’s Feast, she started doing cooking classes at area farmers’ markets, as well as for Roger Konka’s Springwater Farm, demonstrating how to cook with his foraged greens and mushrooms.
It was Konka who first suggested selling food as well as doing demonstrations, and it wasn’t long before there was talk of holding dinners for their growing throng of fans. They’d been renting space in a local restaurant for their commissary kitchen, and the owner was enthusiastic about having them use the place for dinners on nights when the restaurant was closed.
Read the rest of the article.
Watch part two of the interview with Kathryn, Teaching From the Source. In this week's kitchen segment, Kathryn shows how incredibly simple it is to make a basic risotto. To get regular updates on local producers featured on Food Farmer Earth, consider a free subscription.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
For the first time in years, it looks like I'm going to attend a Super Bowl party. Not that I have any idea who's playing, where the game's being held or even care about the commercials. It feels almost un-American to be so out of the loop for what is surely one of the most-hyped sporting events of the year.
No, the reason I'm going is for the same reason I love Thanksgiving. No offense to Dave's smoky, moist, grill-roasted whole turkey, but that meal, for me, is all about the sides. Same with this party…it's going to be a great group of people, all of whom are fabulous cooks, with several having some mad skillez behind the bar. That means a groaning table full of snackage, including meaty bits from the grill and libations to die for.
Me, I'm signed up to take my mom's potato salad, but I'm thinking a big ol' platter of wings would be a good first course to share. I've done a post about Susana's wings before, but I thought the recipe was worth repeating for those of you who might want an alternative to the buffalo wings that are apparently the ubiquitous choice on game day.
So have a good time on Sunday, all you Super Bowl fans. You'll hear me cheering from behind the table.
See also Tim's Spicy Wings, another Asian take on the fowl's winged part.
Susana's Amazing Asian Chicken Wings
1 dozen chicken wings, wing tip segment cut off and remaining two joints separated*
1/4-1/3 cup sweet chili sauce (easy to find in most grocery stores but an Asian market has more choices)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely minced or grated on a micro grater
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 fresh lime, juiced
2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp. Sambal Chili Sauce
Bake chicken wings at 400 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes. They should start to pull away from the bone and be crispy. (Flabby wings are a no-no!) While the wings bake, prepare the glaze.
Mix all ingredients for the glaze in a large mixing bowl. Adjust ingredients if you like your wings hotter, sweeter, more acidic, fish saucier, etc. Mix in wings hot from the oven and toss to coat. Using tongs, remove wing parts to platter. Pour leftover sauce into small bowl for dipping and serve.
* Put the wing tips in a zip-lock bag, put them in the freezer and throw them in the pot the next time you make stock. Mo' flavah, mo' bettah!
Sunday, January 27, 2013
You can go out in a field at this time of year and find rows of blackened, slimy lumps (photo, lower left) where, presumably, there once were lush heads of some delicious leafy thing. You think, "How sad…what a waste." But reach down your (thankfully, gloved) hand, cut it off at the stem, wipe away the gunk and you'll discover a brilliant red head of radicchio or its cousin, treviso, that has matured and sweetened in the freezing temperatures. Contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food has a suggestion for one way to appreciate these gems.
Adapted from Elizabeth Minchelli, this is a great reason for buying more salami than you think you can eat. If you follow Minchelli’s links back to the recipe that inspired her, you’ll see you can make it with fresh sausage, too.
Winter radicchio: yucky on the outside, gorgeous on the inside.
I had a 2-inch stub of leftover salami from one of our local salume makers (I think it was Olympic Provisions) and a couple of tablespoon’s worth of chopped-up cooked bacon. You could also use ham, pancetta or even crispy chicken skin, which is sort of porky.
Roasted Radicchio Stuffed with Porky Bits
Cut the salami (about a 2" stub, casing removed) into small cubes, then mix in a couple of tablespoons of bacon and dice it all together until quite small (Minchelli uses the food processor, but I didn’t want to clean mine for such a small job). If you use some other porky bits, chop 'em up fine.
Then roast in a skillet or something similar: drizzle a little oil on the bottom first, and drizzle a bit more over the radicchio after it’s in the skillet. A sprinkle of flor de sal helps, too. Cook at 350° for 20-30 minutes or until the edges of the leaves are looking dark and a little crispy. Eat it with a knife and fork, maybe with another drizzle of extra virgin.
Photo at top by Jim Dixon. Photos of winter radicchio taken at Ayers Creek Farm.
It hasn't hit an episode of Portlandia yet, but drinking vinegars and their close relatives known as shrubs are taking over some of the city's toniest bar tops. The shrub has been around since the 17th century or so when vinegar was used to preserve fruits and berries for use in the winter. The fruit would be left to infuse the vinegar, then the fruit would be strained off and the resulting liquid would be sweetened with honey or sugar to make a syrup. It could then be mixed with water or soda to make a soft drink, or with alcohol to make a cocktail.
Raven & Rose bar manager Dave Shenaut gave a glimpse into the process of making this shout-out to his predecessors of yore, as well as a recipe for a mighty fine cocktail to be featured on the specials board at that establishment. (Shenaut warns, however, that there is a limited quantity of the syrup, so get it if you see it on the board.)
What to do with a Medlar?)
As You Like It
For the medlar shrub:
4 c. medlars
2 c. demerara sugar
2 c. muscat vinegar
For the cocktail:
3/4 oz. madeira
1 1/2 oz. pisco
1/2 oz. medlar shrub
Splash of Bittermen's Orange Cream Citrate
The medlars, like other astringent fruits such as persimmons and loquat, should be so ripe that they're mushy, or bletted, when used. In a large glass jar or other glass container combine the bletted medlars with the sugar. Cover and let sit in a cool, dark place for 24 hours. Add the vinegar and stir until the sugar dissolves, cover and let sit for a week or so in a cool, dark place. After a week, pass the mixture through a food mill, then strain through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to remove most of the organic matter. Taste and adjust the sweetness. Store in the refrigerator for another week until the vinegar flavor mellows.
For the cocktail, fill a mixing glass half full of ice. Add madeira, pisco, the shrub and the splash of orange cream. Stir for a minute or so to chill and serve up with a twist of lemon.
Photo of medlar, top, by David Padberg.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm doesn't just love horseradish, he adores it in the same way other people get weak in the knees over chocolate or spontaneously drool at the mere mention of foie gras. Proof is provided when he talks about his idea of the perfect restaurant, where instead of over-large pepper mills, servers carry horseradish root and graters for sprinkling on salads.
There is not much of a horseradish lobby, so its wonderful health benefits are barely explored and publicized. For example, digging it offers wonderful cardiovascular stimulation. In addition, it is clearly an aphrodisiac as we love putting it on all manner of foods. Linda Colwell, who shares our affection for this mulish root and helps us dig it for the farmers’ market, recreated two krensuppe recipes from lasting memories of a soup we enjoyed years ago.
Red and White Horseradish Soup
For the horseradish and potato (white) soup:
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 1/2 c. potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 c. water
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp., more or less, freshly grated horseradish
In a large enameled pot, melt the butter and cook the onion in it over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, until the onion is translucent and soft but not brown. Add the potatoes, water and salt. Simmer over low heat until the potatoes fall apart, then cool them to room temperature.
Purée the ingredients through the medium plate of a food mill (or immersion blender or in batches in a blender). Bring the soup to a simmer, taste, season accordingly. Add freshly grated horseradish to taste.
For the horseradish and beet (red) soup:
2 lbs. beets
3 c. water
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp., more or less, freshly grated horseradish
Cook the whole beets in their skins in heavily salted water until tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and cube them. Pass them through the medium plate of a food mill (or mash well with a potato masher) into a large enameled pot. Add the water, vinegar, and salt. Bring to a simmer, taste, and season accordingly. Add freshly grated horseradish to taste.
To serve the soups, ladle the beet soup into one side of a shallow soup bowl and the potato soup into the other side, so the soups meet in a line down the middle. Serves 6.
* * *
Horseradish Broth Soup
2 Tbsp. butter
2 c. grated horseradish
2 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
6 c. beef broth, heated to a simmer
1/2 c. heavy cream
Bread and butter for croûtons
In an enameled cast-iron pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the horseradish, and cook until wilted and soft, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and salt and cook thoroughly without browning. Add the hot broth slowly, whisking to prevent lumps. Simmer 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream, taste, and season accordingly. Serve hot with croûtons—cubes or slices of bread fried in butter or fat until they are golden brown and crisp—prepared at the last minute so they sizzle as they are scattered on the soup. Serves 4.
I'm not a big fan of conferences, coming as they do with so-so speakers, crowded trade exhibitions and more hype than content. But one I do try to make it to every year is Organicology, a gathering of small farmers, food system activists and proponents of local agriculture.
Speakers include Paul Stamets, a nationally recognized mycologist and conservation activist; Curt Ellis, native Portlander and filmmaker (King Corn, Big River) who is currently Executive Director of Foodcorps (top photo); and Tom Philpott, farmer, ag blogger and columnist for Mother Jones. I'm telling you, it's going to be a great event and well worth attending.
Details: Organicology. Thurs.-Sat., Feb. 7-9. Register on website. Event held at the Hilton Downtown Portland, 921 SW 6th Ave. 1-877-378-0690.
Photo at top from CivilEats.com.
* * *
Kat Cogswell has served up some tunefully fine meals to music lovers at joints big and small, from the Portland Jazz Festival, McMenamin's Crystal Ballroom and the Timberline Summer Concert Series to Tony Starlight's Supperclub and the White Eagle. Her voice is a little bit Sarah Vaughn, a little bit Judy Garland, swinging from jazz standards to contemporary to tight a capella harmonies. She's just listed a bunch of new gigs on her website, so if you're feeling like a fun night out listening to some fine stylings, check her out!
- Fri., Jan. 25 with Bureau of Standards Big Band (Matthew Gailey & James M. Gregg). 8 pm; $12 with reservations. Tony Starlight's, 3728 NE Sandy Blvd. 503-517-8584.
- Sat., Feb. 16, with Rich Turnoy and Dennis Caiazza. 7:30 pm; $5 with reservations. Arrivederci Wine and Jazz Bar, 17023 SE McLoughlin Blvd. 503-659-1143.
- Fri., Feb. 22, with Bureau of Standards Big Band (Matthew Gailey & James M. Gregg). 8 pm; $12 with reservations. Tony Starlight's, 3728 NE Sandy Blvd. 503-517-8584.
- Fri., Mar. 29, with Bureau of Standards Big Band (Matthew Gailey & James M. Gregg). 8 pm; $12 with reservations. Tony Starlight's, 3728 NE Sandy Blvd. 503-517-8584.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
And then there were eight. Winter farmers' markets, that is.
(A cheer erupts from the grandstands! YAY!)
Beaverton Farmers' Market is opening for its very first winter season ever on Saturday, February 2, just in time for stocking up on healthy Super Bowl snacks. From then through April, on the first and third Saturdays of the month, it will feature a plethora of vendors bringing truckloads of winter greens, root vegetables, pasture-raised meat, warm wintertime soups and baked goods.
"We'll open the market at 10 am rather than the usual 8 am opening time," said market manager Ginger Rapport. "So sleep in, have an extra cup of coffee, linger over the newspaper, then come see us."
Vendors announced so far include market favorites Pepperheads, Lonely Lane Farms, Souper Naturals, Fressen Bakery and Feastworks. A new addition, Local Locovore, will feature organic baby food, and there will also be an Oregon Distillers booth where local spirits-makers will rotate their products throughout the season, with Big Bottom Whiskey and Eastside Distilling offered during the winter season.
I hope to see you there on opening day!
Details: Beaverton Farmers' Market, on SW Hall Blvd between 3rd and 5th Sts. adjacent to Beaverton City Park and the Beaverton Public Library. 503-643-5345.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Some people go to the store or the farmers' market with a list and stick to it. Milk, eggs, bread. Peppers, chard, cheese.
That's what happened the other day when I saw a big pile of dark green poblanos at my neighborhood supermarket. Sometimes the peppers in the bins are a little tired and wrinkled, but these were shiny and firm to the touch, begging to be roasted.
See what I mean about inspiration? A little experimentation, a touch of exploration, and I've got a new addition to taco nights. Sweet!
Poblano Lime Crema
4 medium-sized poblano chiles
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 med. onion, quartered and sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 lime, juiced
1 c. sour cream or tofu sour cream, divided
Salt to taste
Milk (or water) to thin (optional)
Roast peppers over gas flame or in the broiler until blackened. Place in paper bag and allow to steam for 10 min. Using your hands (I'd recommend rubber gloves…these babies can be surprisingly hot), rub off most of the charred skin but don't worry about cleaning it all off—it'll add a smoky flavor to the finished sauce. Remove stems and seeds from peppers and slice thinly.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add onions and sauté till golden, about 15 min., until reduced to about half of their original volume. Stir frequently to prevent browning. Add sliced peppers and garlic and sauté about 1 min., then stir in cumin and oregano. Add 1/2 c. of sour cream and simmer another minute or two.
Pour mixture into food processor with the remaining sour cream and lime juice. Purée mixture until smooth. Add salt to taste and milk or water to thin if desired.
Get a recipe for a killer chile-braised pork that's great with this sauce.
I am lucky to have great friends who are great cooks. When we get together, whether for dog walks, coffee or grabbing a table someplace to catch up, the conversation inevitably, and not surprisingly, turns to food—what we've been eating recently, what we've been cooking, where to get great ingredients.
The roast shoulder, pre-shredding.
And they're used to me perpetually asking for their recipes, and if it just may be, might be okay to publish them on the blog. Pretty please?
Michel and I were out with our dogs, hers a gorgeous flat-coated retriever named Shona, who is the long-legged love of Walker's life and a new favorite friend of Kitty's. As they romped their way around the wet, grassy field at a nearby school, she mentioned a lamb dish she'd whipped up for a recent dinner.
Now Michel has a serious history with food, so when she starts raving a recipe, my ears perk up. This one was for short ribs, but she said it would make a great braise for pork, beef or chicken. With most of Petunia still sitting in the freezer, I latched onto the pork idea and, on arriving home, dried off two very wet dogs and pulled a big shoulder roast out of the freezer.
The next night we had pork tacos with rice and a quick slaw, with a roasted poblano crema made from peppers I'd stashed in the vegetable bin. The pork also made some awesome pulled pork sandwiches that Dave was thrilled to pull out of his lunchbox, and the last of it got mixed in with roasted tomatoes and tossed with pasta.
So what I'm saying is that the recipe below is limited only by your imagination, and would go from company's-coming to warmed-up-for-lunch. Thanks, Michel!
Short Ribs Braised in Coffee Ancho Chile Sauce
This would be fabulous with lamb and pork, too.
4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, ribs discarded
2 c. boiling-hot water
1 medium onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce (optional)
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
3 tsp. salt
4-6 lb. beef short ribs or flanken (or in my case, pork shoulder)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. espresso or strong French press coffee
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Soak ancho chiles in boiling-hot water until softened, about 20 minutes, then drain in a colander set over a bowl. Taste soaking liquid: It will be a little bitter, but if unpleasantly so, discard it; otherwise, reserve for braising. Transfer ancho chiles to a blender and purée with onion, garlic, chipotles (if using) with sauce, maple syrup, lime juice and 1 teaspoon salt.
Pat ribs dry and sprinkle with pepper and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown ribs in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer as browned to a roasting pan just large enough to hold ribs in 1 layer.
Carefully add chile purée to fat remaining in skillet (use caution, since it will splatter and steam) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add reserved chile soaking liquid (or 1 1/2 cups water) and coffee and bring to a boil, then pour over ribs (liquid should come about halfway up sides of meat).
Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and braise ribs in middle of oven until very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Skim fat from pan juices and serve with ribs.
Michel's note: Ribs improve in flavor if braised 2 days ahead. Cool, uncovered, then chill, surface covered with parchment paper or wax paper and roasting pan covered with foil. Remove any solidified fat before reheating.
Kathleen's note: When the pork was done, I removed it to a board and shredded it as seen in top photo, fat and all. The shredded meat then went into a large skillet with enough of the sauce to moisten it. It was kept warm while taco ingredients were prepared, then served.
Get the roasted poblano crema recipe that goes ever-so-well with the pork tacos. Get another of Michel's incredibly delicious recipes: Braised Lamb Shoulder.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Meticulous attention to detail is the hallmark of the conscientious farmer, from machinery to soil to seed to harvest. Patience is also a requirement, as contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm outlines here.
Three years ago, we planted a row of naked pumpkin seeds as a trial. The hulless or naked pumpkin seed originated in Styria, a region of Austria. Pumpkin seeds are roasted and pressed for their oil, a characteristic food of the region. In the late 19th century, an observant Styrian farmer found a pumpkin where the tough hull was reduced to papery covering. Apparently, Austria is not considered a sexy land of origin in the world of seed catalogs, so some seed companies list them as unique Japanese pumpkins. Echos of calling prunes from Germany "Italian Prunes."
We repeated the trial in 2011 and discovered the seed companies have done a poor job of managing the seed. Most of the fruits had various undesirable characteristics, including a tendency to have tough, split or bitter seeds. More than half the pumpkins had to be discarded, their seeds inedible. Bulk naked pumpkin seed costs about $80 per pound—more in the 1/4 pound lots we usually buy—and should produce a reliable crop. Unfortunately, we are encountering similar seed quality problems for other crops.
Last spring we ordered seed from several sources and picked through thousands of seeds, finding just 100 with the characteristics we wanted, discarding the rest. Cost was about $1.00 per seed, plus labor. We planted them and all but two of the plants produced good seeds. Ten of the pumpkins yielded beautiful plump, dark seeds easy to separate from the fruit pulp. We have reserved these for this year's planting. When we harvest the pumpkins in the autumn, we will again carefully select the fruits for seed.
Our goal is to produce a pumpkin that produces flavorful, high quality seeds that are easily removed by hand from the fruit's cavity. It will take a couple more years before we iron out all of the genetic kinks, but we are making progress. This year, we have the flavor nailed, even if the seed removal remained tedious. These Austrian pumpkin seeds are delicious raw or roasted in a dry skillet until they pop. Wonderful addition to soups and salads. Supply is limited.
Photo of cut pumpkin at top by Anthony Boutard. Photo at left from Johnny's Selected Seeds.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
In my interview for Food Farmer Earth with Lisa Mygrant, she relates her journey from a home where fresh food played a central role to starting her own restaurant where sustainably raised, local ingredients are a prominent feature.
Lisa Mygrant admits that buying a 7,000 square foot, high-profile historic building in the center of downtown Portland was a larger project than she’d envisioned for her first restaurant.
“Terrifying,” she said when asked how it felt when the deal went through. “But really exciting. It was an amazing opportunity and such a special building.”
Braised short rib with roasted vegetables and Yorkshire pudding.
She described the menu for Raven and Rose as “American farmhouse cooking with a nod to the British Isles.” The goal for the kitchen and the bar would be to source ingredients as much as possible from local and sustainable sources.
“It’s really important for us to have direct relationships with farmers,” she said, emphasizing that it isn’t a marketing angle but something she feels passionately about because of the way she was raised.
Read the rest of the article.
In part two of this interview, Mygrant explains why sustainability and buying from local suppliers is at the foundation of her restaurant. Get an easy recipe for Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Ale-Braised Onions from Raven and Rose chef David Padberg, then get tips from master bartender Dave Shenaut on "How to Make an Irish Coffee." To get regular updates on local producers featured on Food Farmer Earth, consider a free subscription.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Roast chicken is one of the easiest, most satisfying comfort foods there is. Contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food, a devotée of roasted fowl, has perfected the technique of flattening it by snipping through the breast bone, which adds a step but cuts the cooking time. Plus it looks cool…always a reason to try something new!
Ass-backward Spatchcocked Chicken on Fingerlings & Kale
I could call this butterflied through the breast, but ass-backward spatchcock sounds much better. It’s my go-to chicken roasting technique, and I’ve got the details on how to do it on my website. I’ve cooked a lot of different vegetables under the chicken, but this combination is my current favorite.
Once you’ve split and salted the chicken, slice a pound or more of fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise. Slice an onion and chop up a bunch of Italian (aka lacinato) kale. Drizzle some extra virgin into a large skillet, add the vegetables and top with the chicken (skin side up).
Roast at 350° for at least an hour or until the chicken is done to your liking. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into pieces. Toast some good bread to soak up some of the juices in the skillet.
Friday, January 11, 2013
I have to say, cooking live crabs wasn't something I was looking forward to. The lobster experience a few years ago, where the tails of the poor creatures were whacking against the lid of the pot, creeped me out for a very long time.
Fresh from the tank at ABC Seafood.
But having had some fresh-cooked crabs at a friend's home convinced me it might be worth a few potential psychic scars, so I headed off to ABC Seafood on SE Powell to buy crabs for a crab feed that evening. The cool thing about ABC is that they sell a ton of seafood every day, so it doesn't sit around long in the large, bubbling tanks. And their prices are at or below what you'll find at other markets in town.
Into the pot they go.
One way to tell that the crabs are fresh is that when they're fished out of the tank, they're flailing and grabbing, not limp and listless, and these babies were fighting like all get out. I carried out my seven big beauties to the car, listening to them burble and clack all the way home, even through the several layers of paper and plastic bags that encased them. (Yes, it did make me shiver a bit to think of them in there trying to figure out what the heck was going on.)
Cooling their heels in the sink.
I'd been advised to stow them in the fridge until it was time to do the deed, letting the cold slow them down so they wouldn't be flailing when they went into the pot. By the time the guests arrived, I had three big pots of heavily salted water (sites advise about a tablespoon per quart) on the stove. The crabs had quieted enough to grab them by the back of the shell (their large front claws were banded shut) and slide them, upside-down, into the boiling water. Thankfully there was no flailing or clawing to get out, so a recreation of the lobster scene from Annie Hall was averted.
Now this is a feed!
Once the water had returned to a boil, the pots were covered and the crabs simmered for 15 minutes while drinks were served. When the time was up, the shells had turned that signature bright red and we fished them out with tongs and put them in the sink to cool. At this point they could have been rinsed and refrigerated or frozen for future use, but putting them in the sink until they're cool enough to handle and then clean allows the meat to stay warm for serving. (Instructions on how to clean a crab.)
The table had been covered with newspapers and strewn with nutcrackers and picks, butter had been warmed, Dave's bread had been sliced and my friend Kathryn had made her fabulous Caesar salad. The crab parts were divided into two large bowls and we all got to work on the sweet, succulent meat until, as my sister-in-law said, her arms were too tired to crack any more. I'd say that's a good definition of a successful crab feed.
For seriously great crab recipes, from cakes to chowders to pasta dishes, see the previous posts in the series: 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
I've always had a certain fear of large hunks of animal flesh.
I know, I know…you're thinking, "But Kathleen, weren't you just butchering half of a pig (your second) just a couple of weeks ago? Wazzup?"
Herb marinade ingredients.
So I guess I should modify my phobia: my fear is cooking a large hunk of animal flesh and ruining it. And there's nothing like eight-plus pounds of gorgeous standing rib pork roast to make my knees start knocking. Add in the fact that it was the main course for Christmas dinner with company and you've got the makings for a world-class disaster, one I'd never hear the end of.
"Remember the time you practically burned down the kitchen and ruined Christmas dinner?" The words echoed in my head.
All dressed and ready.
Then there was the fact that I'd decided to use a recipe for a fennel, lemon and herb marinade I'd read in the New York Times. Problem was, Melissa Clark, whose recipes I like and trust, had used it on a crown roast, not a standing rib. So aside from the rub itself, all her other sage advice about how to make it the crowning achievement (no pun intended) of the dinner was pretty much useless.
I nevertheless forged ahead, pulled the roast out of the freezer in plenty of time for it to thaw, made the rub and got it marinating on Christmas morning. Dinner was scheduled for evening—we're not mid-day holiday diners—and I made sure I had a couple of instant-read thermometers that actually worked.
Coming off the bone.
With the size of the roast, I was estimating two or two-and-a-half hours. It was originally going to go on the grill, another holiday tradition, but the weather was awful (bone-chilling cold and rain) and Dave was threatening to come down with a cold. So into the oven it was going. Our guests came, we drank and snacked and I checked the temperature starting about 90 minutes in.
The roast itself had gone in the roasting pan backbone down, with the ribs sticking up, following Clark's instructions to roast it at 450° for 20 minutes, then at 350° for the remainder of the cooking time. We'd decided on pulling it when it reached 135°, then letting it rest for twenty minutes. I was the designated carver, and with some sound advice from the guys in attendance I sliced down under the ribs and against the backbone. This freed the roast completely and it plopped onto the cutting board in one piece, making it possible to simply slice the roast into what looked like boneless chops. As a bonus, I also sliced between the ribs and piled them on a side plate for those of us who like to have something to gnaw on.
Truly succulent, it was indeed a glorious achievement, one I'll definitely be proud to hear about in the future. And though I'm not totally over my fear—high-stakes occasions are always at least somewhat fraught—I'll definitely have more confidence the next time I try this type of high-wire act.
Fennel, Lemon and Herb Rub for Pork
Adapted from The New York Times
1 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
Rosemary leaves from 2 bushy sprigs
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 c. sage leaves and tender sprigs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. fennel pollen (optional)
1 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
Place fennel seeds in small dry skillet over medium heat until they are fragrant, about 1 minute. Keep moving them around the pan so they don't scorch—you're just trying to bring out the essential oils. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until they make a paste. Rub all over pork roast* and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
* If you're using a pork leg roast or rolled roast, you can untie it and rub it inside the roast as well. Then you can retie it or roast open-faced, either way.
** The USDA recently modified the cooking temperature for pork to 145°…we feel that's still a bit high, but you should use your own judgment.
Monday, January 07, 2013
I'll eat them any time of year, but to my mind raw oysters and winter are a perfect pairing. And I'm not fussy about the beverage to accompany them, whether white, bubbly, pink, hoppy or of the cocktail persuasion…Bloody Mary, anyone? So during these cold(er) months I'm dedicating myself to uncovering some of Portland's better places to slurp some bivalves, both the well-known and those that are more under-the-oyster bed.
Counter-clockwise from 1 o'clock: Seacow, Kumamoto, Chelsea Green, Petites, Cape Breton, Malpeque.
When it came to picking the first spot to start this odyssey with my equally bivalve-obsessed friend, Michele, we settled on EaT, An Oyster Bar on North Williams Avenue. Dedicated to the seafood-bejeweled culture of New Orleans, EaT is known as a mecca for the fresh product and seemed like the right place to lay the foundation for our explorations.
We sat down to ponder the offerings over their very cute 12-oz. mugs of beer, the perfect size to sip over a dozen mollusks. Lucky for us there were six oysters on the board, two from Washington, two from Oregon and, oddly, two from Eastern Canada, which just the right amount to sample one apiece and compare notes.
- Seacow (Washington): Medium-sized, tender but with a sweet, meaty chew. Nice and briny.
- Kumamoto (Oregon): Small and sweet with a creamy texture that still had some chew to it. A longtime favorite.
- Chelsea Green (Washington): Tiny (smaller than Kumamotos!), briny and sweet, these were impressive. Like the Seacows, they have a meaty texture. Definitely the winners on the board.
- Petites (Oregon): Medium-sized with a super mild flavor, meaty texture and good brininess.
- Cape Breton (Nova Scotia): Super briny/salty, but with a lingering sweetness. A tougher texture than the others, we wondered if it was because they came from so far away.
- Malpeque (Prince Edward Island): Like the Cape Bretons, very briny but a little less chewy. Nice if you like salty. Also not as plump as the NW oysters…again, true to type or too much travel?
Details: EaT, An Oyster Bar, 3808 N Williams Ave. 503-281-1222.
* * *
It just so happened that a day or two after the sampling at EaT, Dave and I decided to pause during what we euphemistically call The Running of the Errands to have a beer at Interurban on North Mississippi. Their list, though not long, is very well-curated and the cozy, log cabin-like bar feels just right on chilly winter days.
From left to right: Denman Island, Pearl Bay, Buckley Bay.
Dave's fondness for raw oysters rivals my own, which is yet another stitch securing the quilt that is our marriage. So while the Olympic Provisions hot dog, onion rings and other items on the mid-day menu were tempting, when we saw the fresh oysters our decision was made. There were just three on offer that day, all from British Columbia, and while we've been known to scarf down a dozen apiece and hanker for more, a half dozen seemed an adequate sampling on this day.
- Denman Island: Medium-sized like its siblings, its frilly shell gleaming and pearlescent, we found these sweet and meaty with a fresh brininess.
- Pearl Bay: Also sweet, this oyster was creamy more than meaty, practically melting on the tongue.
- Buckley Bay: Much like the Denman Island, though slightly brinier than the other two.
As for the beers, my Boneyard Beer IPA proved an excellent counterpoint to the richness of the oysters, clearing my palate between bites. But I was grinding my teeth over not ordering Dave's pick, a glorious pint of darkness, the CDA from Hood River's Pfriem Family Brewers. Roasty, medium-bodied and with a dry hoppiness, it's the ideal foil for raw oysters (or, in my opinion, just about any food) and definitely worth going in to have while its still on the list.
Details: Interurban, 4057 N Mississippi Ave. 503-284-6669.
Saturday, January 05, 2013
Often farmers are thought of as isolated individuals toiling away on their land, out of touch with the goings-on in the outside world. In my experience that is far from the truth. For instance, contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm has worked with state agencies on legislation that benefits small family farmers and is sought out on a regular basis to speak about issues affecting farmers in Oregon and the region. This week brings two opportunities to hear him discussing the issues he feels passionately about.
At this month's Friends of Family Farmers InFarmation (and Beer!), forest owner Peter Hayes and wine-maker Rudy Marchesi will join Anthony in a conversation about the way the Tualatin River links our efforts and lives. Montinore Vineyard, Hyla Woods and Ayers Creek Farm are located along the headwaters of the river. Peter and Pam Hayes started this conversation with us five years ago, later Rudy joined in, and we hope the audience will participate in the conversation as we progress. Bit experimental, but with a good brew in hand what can go wrong?
It is free, good fun and a convivial introduction to an organization working to improve the state's policies regarding family farms. Oh yes, you can join us in a good glass of beer to keep the evening cheerful.
The Challenges and Rewards of Growing Heritage Grains at the Native Seeds/SEARCH Grain School in Tucson, Arizona. Native Seed/SEARCH is non-profit that promotes seed conservation. In the evening there will be an open house at the organization's Conservation Center, where he will talk about corn, his book, Beautiful Corn, and maybe why his favorite Goldberg Variation is #30, the Quodlibet, or why a good log collection makes the farmer. If you have friends in the Tucson area, they are welcome to visit with Anthony.
Details: InFARMation (and Beer!). Tues., Jan. 8, doors open at 5:30 pm for socializing, program starts at 6:30 pm; free. Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison. Phone 503-759-3276.
Native Seeds/SEARCH Grain School Presentation. Thurs., Jan. 10, 6-8 pm; free. Native Seeds/SEARCH Conservation Center, 3584 East River Road, Tucson, AZ. 520-622-5561 or toll free 866-622-5561.
Tuesday, January 01, 2013
A classic. Like the Parthenon in ancient Greece or Leonardo's Mona Lisa, it never changes, right?
The Parthenon? The one we know today is a crumbling shadow of its former self. The Mona Lisa has undergone cleaning, revarnishing and "touching-up" at least seven times, from 1809 to the present day.
So it should have been no surprise that when I looked up Dave's original martini recipe from (gasp!) 2007, it turns out that he's adapted the recipe ever-so-slightly from those ancient (in blog years) days. Thus, in the interest of accuracy, journalistic integrity or whatever, I cannot in good conscience simply link to the old recipe, I must record the latest incarnation of this house classic.
Who says evolution is just a theory?
Dave's Classic Martini, Very Dry
Makes 1 martini
Splash of dry vermouth (around a teaspoon)
2 1/2 oz. gin (Plymouth is the current house fave)
Olives (your choice, but we're still fond of anchovy-stuffed Spanish olives)
Fill shaker 3/4 full of ice. Add vermouth, shake, then strain it out. Add the gin to the remaining ice. Shake six seconds or so and pour into chilled martini glasses. Add olives on a pick. Serve.
The FoodDay section of the Oregonian published its annual "Things We Love" roundup of favorites from 2012, compiled by its über-talented staff from an avalanche of submissions from contributors. They were kind enough to pick four of mine in the following categories: