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Month: February 2016

Pink Peppercorn Pomelo Martini

Pink Peppercorn Pomelo Martini

As we’ve been packing, I’ve been going through the various spices I’ve managed to accumulate over the past few years.  I don’t even recall now why I bought pink peppercorns, but they’ve been sitting forlorn and neglected at the back of the spice rack for a little while now, so I thought I’d see if I couldn’t use a bit up for a Friday martini.  And for a bit of Friday trivia: pink peppercorns aren’t actually peppercorns, but rather, are related to the cashew.

This particular drink also makes use of the seasonal citrus glut, with the juice of a Pomelo providing a nice counterpoint to the spicy peppercorn.

pink_pepper1pepper_martini_rimpepper_martini_no_rimpink_pepper2

Pink Peppercorn Pomelo Martini
Serves One

2 ounces vodka
Juice from one pomelo
1 ounce pink peppercorn syrup (recipe follows)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake, strain, and serve.

Pink Peppercorn Syrup
Makes enough for four or five cocktails

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Cool and either use once cool or steep overnight for a more intense peppercorn flavor.

Tropical Granola

Tropical Granola

tropical_granola2

It is that time of year when the daffodils start blooming in the PNW, which also means it’s the time of year when even I, a devout rain worshiper, starts to long for sunshine. I went out for a run this morning and got soaked. Fortunately, I had this granola on hand to add to my yogurt when I got back, and as I ate my yogurt after drying off, I longed for sunny shores.

daffys

Clay and I did the obligatory Dole Plantation tour in Oahu a number of years ago. Every time I have dried pineapple, I’m transported back to that place in time with very lush gardens and pineapples everywhere. I also used coconut sugar in this recipe: last time we were in Portland at Fubonn, I picked up coconut sugar for Pad Thai. The sugar came in hard, compacted blocks, and after doing a bit of research, I found that the best way to use this sugar is to actually grate it. The scant tablespoon of grated coconut sugar in this granola lends a nutty, coconut undertone.

tropical_granola1

Tropical Granola (AKA I Can’t Wait For Spring Granola)
Serves 10

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup cashew pieces
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup agave syrup
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)
½ cup dried pineapple
½ cup dried Bing cherries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the oats, cashews, olive oil, agave syrup, honey, and coconut sugar in a bowl. Spread the granola mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 10-minute intervals for a total of 30 minutes. Stir between each interval.

Remove the granola from the oven and let cool. Add the dried pineapple and dried cherries to the granola once cool.

Store in an airtight container.

Open Face Meatball Sandwiches and Home Made Sub Sandwich Rolls

Open Face Meatball Sandwiches and Home Made Sub Sandwich Rolls

I’m at that time of the year when I’m working frantically to use up everything that I canned from last year to make way for the upcoming produce season. Last year, I canned nearly one hundred pounds of tomatoes. By no stretch of the imagination was this particularly intentional: we planted eighteen tomato plants last year with the intention of trying to grow around sixty pounds of tomatoes. However, we got the plants in late in June and by August, I had no faith that they would ever bother to ripen, so went and picked around fifty pounds of tomatoes to can at one of our u-pick farms.

Given that here in the PNW, we have a growing season for tomatoes into late September, it should have been obvious to me that the tomatoes I’d grown would all ripen up right around the first part of October, leaving me with slightly more than fifty pounds of home grown tomatoes with which to content. I was glad for the surplus, though. With the u-pick tomatoes, I’d made Bloody Mary mix and ample jars of marinara. With the home grown tomatoes, I made basic diced tomatoes, so I have my bases covered for all recipes that involve marinara, as well as using diced tomatoes to make soups, stews and, chicken tikka masala.

This recipe is part of the effort to use up the canned goods before August rolls around again. It’s a bit of a two in one, though really, the meatball sandwich component takes minimal work compared to the rolls.

sandwich_rolls

Sub Sandwich Rolls
Makes 6 rolls

1 cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons yeast (one package of active yeast)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ cups bread flour

In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for about 10 minutes while the yeast becomes bubbly and creamy.

In a small bowl, combine one cup of the flour, the butter, and the salt. Crumble with your fingers until the butter is mixed in and creates small crumbs. Add this mixture, one egg, and the remaining flour to the water and yeast. Stir to combine.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead the dough for six to eight minutes. Return the dough to the medium sized bowl and cover with plastic wrap or several tea towels. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen and let rise for an hour.

After an hour, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the dough into six equal pieces and shape into sub sandwich shaped rolls. Place these on a parchment covered baking sheet and cover with several tea towels. Let rise for another hour.

Beat the remaining egg with about a tablespoon of water. After the second rise is complete, brush the rolls with the egg and water mixture. Bake the rolls for 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the rolls sound hollow when tapped.

meatball_sub

Open Face Meatball Sandwiches
Serves 2

Four freezer meatballs
1 16 ounce jar of marinara sauce
4 slices Swiss cheese
¼ cup shredded parmesan or Asiago cheese
2 sub sandwich rolls

Combine the marinara sauce and meatballs in a small saucepan and simmer until both sauce and meatballs are heated through. Slice the sub sandwich rolls in half and place one slice of cheese on each half (cut the cheese slices in half to get full coverage on each roll). Cut each meatball in half and place two halves on each piece of sub roll. Spoon marinara over the top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

 

Freezer Meatballs

Freezer Meatballs

This is one of my favorite freezer meals. These meatballs are incredibly versatile – in addition to the expected spaghetti and meatballs, we’ve also used these to make meatball sandwiches (recipe coming up tomorrow), meatball calzones, and meatball pizza. I particularly like to combine these with my homemade and home canned marinara.

The ingredients are mixed together in two stages.  You can certainly chop up the onion and parsley in a food processor to create a finer dice.  The final mixed product will look something like this:

freezermeatball2

Once everything is combined, create the meatballs.  I tend to make large meatballs, generally using two to a serving for spaghetti and meatballs.  You can certainly make them smaller and spread them out on two baking sheets instead of one.

freezermeatball1

We tend to taste test at least one or two once they meatballs are cooked and frozen.

cooked meatballs

Freezer Meatballs
Makes 36 large meatballs

2 onions, finely chopped
2 bunches parsley, finely chopped
2 pounds ground beef
1 ½ pounds ground pork or Italian sausage
4 cups Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 eggs
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Siracha hot sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the onions, parsley, beef, pork, Panko, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Make several indentations in this mixture and add the eggs, Worcestershire, and Siracha. Mix thoroughly.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make meatballs by pinching out a bit of the mixture and rolling into a ball. The meatballs can go on the baking sheet with very little space in between.

Bake for about an hour or until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Cool the meatballs and freeze on the baking sheet. Once the meatballs are frozen, they can be stored in freezer bags until you are ready to use them.

 

 

Honey Tangerine Mimosa

Honey Tangerine Mimosa

Cheers to Friday!
Cheers to Friday!

 

In keeping with my current citrus fascination, I picked up some honey tangerines this past weekend at our local market. I’ve had honey tangerines before and greatly enjoy their honey undertone. I’ve never given much thought, however, to what makes a honey tangerine different than a regular tangerine. Of course, after the sumo oranges, I felt the need to find out more about this and found out that honey tangerines are a cross between a tangerine and an orange. They are also sometimes called Murcott tangerines. They are easy to peel, though have many seeds. They do produce a lovely juice, and, because it’s Friday, and Fridays are worth celebrating, I thought I’d share both some citrus photos, as well as a recipe for a honey tangerine mimosa.

Honey Tangerines
Honey Tangerines
Pomelo, sumo, and honey tangerine
Pomelo, sumo, and honey tangerine
A quintuple of citrus
A quintuple of citrus

Honey Tangerine Mimosa

Honey Tangerine Mimosa
Serves 4

Juice from four honey tangerines
Champagne

Split the juice between four champagne flutes. Top with champagne. Drink and enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus and Egg Salad

Roasted Asparagus and Egg Salad

I have an obsession with chickens. I blame my formative years of watching The Muppet Show and being particularly fond of Gonzo and his chickens. Someday, when I’m landed in one spot that allows for urban hens, I’m determined to have my own chicken flock. For the time being, however, in a rural agricultural area, it’s easy enough to have conversations with others at work that have, or have had, rural or urban livestock. I was fortunate at my past job to have a co-worker who raises hens and also has guinea fowl. I had the chance to hear many stories about her flock, including quite a few stories about the guinea rooster who has a propensity for chasing after the chickens. I don’t think it’s a guinea rooster who is going to be long for this world because of his bullying behavior, in fact. The guinea hens, however, are apparently champion layers. One day a few weeks ago, my co-worker offered to bring me a dozen guinea hen eggs, and of course, I accepted.

Guinea hen eggs are smaller than chicken eggs and a bit pointier on one end. As I did some research to figure out what to do with these, I learned that one major difference between guinea hen eggs and chicken eggs is that the former are have much thicker shells, so can be tougher to crack. The actual eggs are described as having a deeper yellow yolk and as being creamier and more egg-y than chicken eggs.

guineaheneggsincartonguinea_hen_eggs

I’m not sure why there is something a bit strange to me about eating an egg that didn’t come from a chicken. I’ve passed up duck eggs and geese eggs at the farmers market before, but I think I’m a convert now for non-chicken eggs. The guinea hen eggs are spectacular – the yolks are golden, and I think I may use the seven eggs I have left and make some homemade pasta with them. As is, they boiled up beautifully. Indeed, the only challenge was that I had to really whack them to break up the sh

ells – the shells are so thick!

Hard Boiled Guinea Eggs

This salad could definitely be made with hard-boiled chicken eggs as well. If you happen to have access to a different kind of bird egg, though, I encourage you to try them.

Roasted asparagus and egg salad

asparagus and egg salad, dressed

Roasted Asparagus and Egg Salad
Serves 2

4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
½ bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the asparagus in a single layer on the sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes and then flip the asparagus. Bake for another 10 -15 minutes, until asparagus is a bit crisped and soft. Plate with the hard boiled eggs on top and drizzle with lemony avocado dressing.

Lemony Avocado Dressing
Juice from ½ lemon
½ avocado
2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Add a bit of water or more olive oil if the dressing is too thick.

Wine-y Dark Chocolate Brownies

Wine-y Dark Chocolate Brownies

brownies1

I suspect if I have a life’s motto, it’s when life is in chaos, eat chocolate and drink wine. This recipe is the best of both worlds, as it incorporates lots of chocolate and a good, robust wine. The addition of dried Bing cherries gives the brownies a bit of chew and compliments the dark chocolate chips.

brownies2

Wine-y Dark Chocolate Brownies
Makes 40 brownies

¾ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cup flour
½ cup milk
½ cup red wine
1 cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar and cocoa powder are combined. Take the mixture off the heat and let cool for about five minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla to the melted butter/sugar/cocoa mix and stir to thoroughly incorporate the eggs. Add the milk and red wine and stir. Combine the baking powder, baking soda, and flour in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients slowly to the chocolate mix, stirring after each small addition. The batter will be a bit lumpy. Add the dark chocolate chips and dried cherries and stir until these are incorporated.

Spread the brownie mixture in a well-buttered 11×7 baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle of the brownies comes out clean.

Red Beet Kiss

Red Beet Kiss

valentine_cocktail1

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. I think Clay and I will be spending it in a flurry of cleaning, winnowing, and packing, getting prepared for whatever our next life adventure might be – romantic, right? In some ways, it is, as I’m fortunate to have a partner who is willing to explore many different possibilities for our next move: we spend much time fantasizing about staying in the PNW or moving far away to Alaska or moving back to the desert for awhile.

Of course, each possibility requires a different packing strategy, especially in the kitchen – if we move a few hours away, we can bring most of what’s in the pantry. If we move too far afield, we’ll have to find a foodie friend to take over some of the half used bottles of liqueurs and assorted fancy vinegars. In the meanwhile, for as long as we are here, I’ll be doing my best to use up what’s in the pantry and on the alcohol shelf.

I was doing part of this clean up work earlier this week. In addition to loving to cook, I’m also an avid gardener. Somehow or another, over the last five years, I ended up with thirteen orchid plants and one African violet that lived, very happily, in my office window. However, I don’t have an office window now, so the orchids had to come home to a house with four cats who are equally avid plant lovers, only they prefer them for lunch. My orchids have been valiant bloomers and I so want to keep them happy until we are settled. So we spent much of one day last week clearing out one half of the pantry shelves to store the orchids (there is a large window in the kitchen and I think they will have enough sunlight as long as the pantry door stays open during the day). In this process, I discovered that I have several nearly fully full bottles of odd liqueurs that had ended up in the very back of the shelves, including one full bottle of anisette. I’m fairly sure I was aiming to make a cocktail that required absinthe, but couldn’t bring myself to pay the price of good absinthe, so ended up with anisette instead.   As I was thinking about Valentine’s Day cocktails, I’d had beets in mind and chocolate and then thought it would be worth it to experiment to see how these flavors went with the anisette, which has a very powerful licorice flavor. The recipe below is a lovely kiss of flavor – the earthy beets, the bitter chocolate, and the heady anise.   If you have time or are better prepared than I am, I think it would be worth it to infuse the beets a bit longer in the simple syrup. I left them in the syrup just long enough for it to fully cool down and the earthiness was there, but I would have enjoyed it if it was a bit more intense

.valentine_cocktail2

Red Beet Kiss
Serves One (but could be easily doubled or tripled – simple syrup makes enough for about three drinks)

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce beet infused chocolate simple syrup (below)
Anisette liqueur
Martini glass, chilled

Combine the vodka and beet infused chocolate simple syrup in a shaker with ice and shake. Swirl a little bit of the anisette liqueur in the martini glass so that the sides of the martini glass are covered. Discard any remaining liqueur. Poor the vodka and syrup into the martini glass and enjoy.

Beet Infused Chocolate Simple Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
½ a beet chopped into small strips
1 teaspoon Dutch process cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cool and either let the beets infuse in the syrup for a day or so or use immediately once cooled.

 

Adventures in Food – Southeast Portland Style

Adventures in Food – Southeast Portland Style

mochi_love

I’m in the process of searching for a new location at which to eat my little lunches. In other words, I’m searching for a new job. It’s a long story and has nothing to do with food, so isn’t worth recounting here. However, I’ve been engaged in the process of job-hunting and was fortunate to have an interview in Southeast Portland, OR this week. Southeast Portland is, I think, one of my new favorite food haunts.

Clay and I stayed at a hotel in Portland that’s close to the Portland Airport called Aloft. It’s in a quirky shopping center that includes a massive Ikea. The Ikea has been near the airport for some time, for at least the ten years we’ve been flying in and out of PDX. Sometime in the last two or three years, the Ikea has acquired friends, including the Aloft hotel, several restaurants, and a number of chain retail stores. The first night there, we went to Famous Dave’s BBQ. I’d originally wanted to go to wood fired pizza/burger place, but am currently evaluating restaurants based on whether or not the seating hurts my back: in this case, I couldn’t stand sitting in the booth of the wood fired pizza/burger place, so Famous Dave’s won out. The food was ok – I still wrestle with my former vegetarian self in places that serve a lot of meat. I had brisket tacos and then ate one of the ribs that Clayton had and secretly wished I’d ordered the ribs. The beer was great, though – the very typical Portland beer list with many, many microbrews on tap.

The next day after the interview, we explored the area around SE 82nd Avenue and SE Division St. I had some familiarity with this area from a meeting a few years ago, so knew that Salt and Straw, which is a lovely artisan ice cream shop on SE Division St., was a must. I also realized that Fubonn Supermarket, which is a very large Asian market one of my foodie friends has highly recommended, is located on SE 82nd Avenue. I couldn’t resist. I’m on a perpetual search for two items from my time spent in the Marshall Islands and Hawaii. One is mochi, which is a Japanese rice cake, often filled with red bean paste. The other is a crispy fried snack made out of fava beans. After wandering the aisles of Fubonn for a while, I found the mochi, but not the fava beans.

mochi

I also found bitter melon, durian, pandan extract, lemon grass, and a number of other items that I wish I had the time this weekend to work with. I didn’t leave empty handed though: I brought home a package of mochi, a package of roasted chestnut kernels, and a can of masaman curry paste. The mochi is nearly all gone and the masaman curry paste will get used sometime soon. The roasted chestnut kernels are an acquired taste I haven’t yet acquired. Not sure what I’m going to do with them yet.roasted_chestnut_kernelmochi_packagemasaman_curry_paste

After an hour in Fubonn, we were hungry. We decided to wander down SE Division St. until we decided what to eat. It was tough to choose – this is a section of Portland that boasts multiple Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese restaurants. We eventually made it up to around SE 32nd Ave. and landed at Sen Yai Noodle, largely because noodles sounded good and there was actual parking in front of the restaurant. It didn’t dawn on me until I got home and started doing additional research that Sen Yai Noodle is part of Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok restaurant wonder. Pok Pok is an equally stunning Thai restaurant on SE Division Ave, very close to Sen Yai Noodle. I only took two photos at Sen Yai – one of the condiments, which included some very spicy peppers, and one of the cranberry drinking vinegar. thai_condimentsdrinking_vinegar

I ordered Lakhana’s Kuaytiaw/Mee Krob Lat Na and was so hungry, and so enamored of the food…well, I ate it all without taking a picture to post here. It was a creamy, egg-y, sauce-y, dish with pork chunks and vegetables over a crispy fried wide noodle. Suffice it to say I devoured it and was satisfyingly stuffed. Not too stuffed to still go to Salt and Straw though!

I’m hoping to make it back to Southeast Portland soon. I’m definitely looking forward to trying Sen Yai Noodle again and shopping at Fubonn with a few recipes in mind. And if we don’t land in Portland on this leg of the job search, I’m sure I’ll have a few more adventures in food coming up.

Valentine’s Day Granola

Valentine’s Day Granola

I feel a bit like Valentine’s Day the past few years has not treated me kindly. Several years ago, Clay asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day and I told him I wanted to go to my favorite winery here in the PNW, Brandborg Winery, to taste wine and to have lunch at Tomaselli’s, both of which are in the tiny town of Elkton in Southern Oregon. That year, I caught a cold right before Valentine’s Day and there was no hope of me tasting anything. Last year, I had to go to Baltimore for a work conference right around Valentine’s Day, which resulted in a harrowing plane ride and taxi ride to get to my conference hotel in the middle of one of the many nasty snowstorms the East coast has had these past few years. This year, I don’t trust my back to make the nearly ninety minute round-trip drive it takes to get to Elkton and back.

I’ll console myself with a Valentine’s Day breakfast of Greek yogurt and this granola. As you can tell, I’m a fan of any granola that includes dark chocolate as one of the ingredients. I also picked up a bottle of agave syrup in the organic aisle at one of our markets this past weekend. I think I like the combination of agave and honey – it doesn’t make the granola overly sweet. And this may be a bit of an obvious hack, but if you pour the olive oil first and then use the same measuring cup to measure out the honey and agave, both pour out very, very easily.

Valentine's Day Granola
Valentine’s Day Granola
Serves 10

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup dried quinoa
1 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
¼ cup agave syrup
¼ cup honey
½ cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
½ cup dried Bing cherries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine the oats, dried quinoa, pecans, olive oil, agave syrup, and honey in a bowl. Spread the granola mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 10-minute intervals for a total of 30 minutes. Stir between each interval.

Remove the granola from the oven and let cool. I sprinkle the chocolate chips and dried cherries over the granola as soon as it’s removed from the oven. However, if you prefer that your chocolate doesn’t melt, wait until the granola is fully cooled to add the chocolate and dried cherries.

Store in an airtight container.

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