Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fried Cauliflower with Tahini

Wow where to much has happened since my last blog post.  Well to pick up from where I left off Hood River was a fabulous time and we treated my grandma by making her fancy French dip sandwiches that she absolutely loved.  We also had a successful meeting with our home buying specialist and today we just had a meeting with a loan officer.  The loan officer meeting was much more positive than I thought it would be and now we just need to continue to save for our down payment and closing costs and then we can officially REALLY start looking.  We really hope to be in a home by Fall 2016, so wish us luck!  And yes I just got back from my New Orleans work trip but that is a story I'm going to have to save for the next blog post or even the next couple blog posts because of all the amazing food I ate.  Onto the food!  Last night I went to my parents house and we cooked an entire dinner together including two recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook Jerusalem.  They were both amazing recipes and we slightly adapted his original recipe.  We paired it with one of Ottolenghi's other salads and cornish game hens.  Enjoy!

Serves 8 as a side

The Ingredients
2 cups sunflower oil
2 medium cauliflower heads, split into small florets
8 green onions, each cut into three long segments
3/4 cup tahini paste
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 preserved lemon quarter, chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped mint, plus more to finish
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pomegranate molasses, plus more to finish
Sea salt and black pepper
Roughly 3/4 cup water

The Process
1.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Lay in a few cauliflower florets at a time and cook for two to three minutes, turning so they color evenly. Once golden-brown, transfer to a colander with a slotted spoon, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain. Repeat with the rest of the cauliflower. Next, fry the green onions, also in batches, for a minute. Add to the cauliflower and leave to cool down.

2.  Pour the tahini paste into a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, herbs, yogurt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and seasoning. Stir with a wooden spoon as you add the water. The tahini sauce will first thicken and then loosen up as you add water. Don't add too much, just enough to get a thick yet smooth pourable consistency, a bit like honey.

3.  Stir the cauliflower, preserved lemon, and onion into the tahini bowl, taste and adjust the seasoning. You may also want to add more lemon juice.

4.  To serve, spoon into a serving bowl and finish with a few drops of pomegranate molasses and some mint.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Cheesy Polenta with Poached Eggs, Greens, and Bacon

So happy it is Friday once again!  Sometimes it feels like the week will never end and it drags on a lot like the GIF I posted below.  My mission in Hood River this weekend is go to antique stores and try and find the perfect lantern hook so that I can finally set up this beautiful copper hanging lamp that my fiance got me for Christmas.  Copper is one of my favorite metals and my goal is to have a kitchen that will have accents of copper all over it whether it be in the design or actual kitchen utensils.  It would be absolutely amazing to one day have an entire copper pan set, but I think only people like Juila Child can afford that kind of in the mean time I will stick to copper accents.  Speaking of dreams next week we have a meeting with a home buying specialist through The Portland Housing Center and we are going to get into the nitty gritty of budgeting and qualifying for a home loan.  I think it will be a positive meeting and put us in the perfect position for our next step which is talking with a loan officer and qualifying for a mortgage.  Now onto the food, I adapted this wonderful recipe from Bon Appetit and it was a wonderful evening of breakfast for dinner!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 large eggs, room temperature
Kosher salt
1 cup polenta (not instant)
4 ounces bacon, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic chili sauce
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 large shallot, finely chopped
8 cups torn red Swiss chard leaves (from 1 large bunch)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
1/4 cup white vinegar

The Process
1.  Bring 4½ cups water and white vinegar to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan. Crack an egg into a small bowl, then gently slide egg into water. Repeat with remaining eggs, waiting until whites are opaque before adding the next one (about 30 seconds apart). Poach until whites are set but yolks are still runny, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels as they are done; set aside.

2.  Bring same saucepan with new water (4 1/2 cups) to a boil and add a couple pinches of salt. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta. Reduce heat to low, cover saucepan, and cook polenta, whisking occasionally and scraping bottom to prevent sticking, until tender, thick, and creamy, 25–40 minutes, depending on coarseness.

3.  Meanwhile, cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, until bacon is crisp, 8–10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a small bowl with slotted spoon. Combine garlic chili sauce and red wine vinegar in another small bowl. 

4.  Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. fat from skillet; cook shallot, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add chard in batches, letting it wilt slightly before adding more, and cook, tossing, until completely wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper, and some chii-soaking vinegar. 

5.  Remove polenta from heat and season with salt and lots of pepper. Add butter, then gradually add cheese, whisking until melted and combined; thin with a bit more milk if too thick. 

6.  Divide polenta among bowls; top with chard, poached eggs, and bacon. Season eggs with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

French Onion Steak Soup

Well here we are in the mid-week slump but at least the rain has finally let up some in PDX, it feels like a breath of fresh air.  It will be nice to get out of town this weekend and maybe away from the rain.  We are headed up to Hood River to visit my grandma, make her a delicious dinner, and relax.  Then on Sunday it is the premiere of the new X-Files which I am beyond excited for as it was one of my favorite shows when I was younger.  I've even invited a group of friends over to watch it and munch on yummy appetizers.  Today is national cheese lover's day so this recipe is perfect for you to make tonight!  And yes I have found yet another french onion style meal to make and trust me you will really enjoy it.  I adapted this recipe and also got so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture.  So the photo credit goes to the original blogger Christie, and I made this gluten free so I didn't use any bread.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 lb. steak
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons almond flour
1 cup Belgian brown ale
1 cup beef broth
1 cup beef consomme
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp. kosher salt, to taste
1/8-1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, to taste
8 slices of Swiss cheese (two per bowl)

The Process
1.  Trim the steak to remove the fat rind and any visible cartilage. Cut into ½-inch cubes. Toss with salt and pepper.  Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the steak and brown for about 5-6 minutes.

2.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook 2-3 minutes to make a roux.

3.  Add the beer and de-glaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the beef broth, beef consomme, thyme, bay leaf and salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes. (The longer it cooks, the more tender the steak will be).

4.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Ladle into a ramekin or oven-safe soup dish. Top with two slices of Swiss cheese for each bowl.

5.  Place the bowls on a pan and heat in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese melts and browns. If you have soup bowls that can withstand 500 degrees, you can place them under the broiler to melt the cheese faster.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Crustless Caprese Quiche

Well our all day home buying class we super informational and I feel like I have a much better handle on everything that goes into buying a house now.  I feel lucky because we have a lot of knowledgeable friends and family that can help us with this process and fixing the house up to be just the way we want it.  It was kind of nice being in that class all day because it has not stopped raining since last week it feels like and this weekend was no exception.  To help beat the rain Sunday I hung out with my two best friends and we made a fabulous brunch and talked all about life, it was just what I needed to help me decompress from the busy week.  Work has been pretty chaotic with our approaching conference, I leave for New Orleans in a little over a week and I sure don't feel prepared yet but I guess that is what this entire week is for.  Let's talk food, we made this recipe for our Sunday brunch and it was so healthy and delicious.  We paired it with my infamous garlic tahini kale salad.  Enjoy!

Serves 4-5

The Ingredients
½ of a small yellow onion, chopped (approximately ¼ cup)
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large Roma tomatoes, one with the seeds completely removed and chopped, the other sliced to desired thickness
⅓ cup packed fresh basil, chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded
4 large eggs
2 large egg white
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

The Process
1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray an 8" or 9" pie plate with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2.  Spray a large skillet with non-stick spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and garlic (and a pinch of salt and black pepper) and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, or until tender. Spoon onion and garlic into a medium bowl and allow to cool.

3.  Slice one of your tomatoes in half and scoop out as many of the seeds as you can (to prevent quiche from getting soggy). After seeds are removed, chop tomato and add to onion/garlic mixture.
Pack washed basil leaves into ⅓ cup measuring cup, then chop to desired size (I chopped mine quite small). Add chopped basil to onion/garlic and tomato mixture and stir well. Spoon this mixture into the bottom of your pie plate and spread into an even layer. Top with mozzarella and set aside.

4.  In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, and pepper until thoroughly combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly on top of cheese layer. Lay tomato slices gently on top of egg mixture (overlapping slices is fine). It is ok if egg mixture comes up over tomato slices. Sprinkle salt and black pepper on top of tomato layer.

5.  Bake for 50 minutes or until filling is set. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Chicken Meatballs with Preserved Lemon and Harissa Relish

So happy it is Friday!  As we continue our cleanse month I find that I crave sugar a lot, to the point that I am constantly craving and must fulfill it.  Last night I ended up making some amazing hot chocolate with coconut milk and 1/4 cup heavy cream...yes it was to die for.  Normally I like to drink red wine when I do drink and there does tend to be lots of sugar in wine so that has got to be the source of these cravings.  This weekend is a pretty full one with bowling tonight, a home buying class all day tomorrow, and then hanging with my best friends and cleaning the house on Sunday, hopefully I can squeeze in some rest too.  In my last post I talked about going to the restaurant Rose VL Deli with my brothers and it was pretty good.  I got the spicy beef pho (pictured below) and it was definitely not a traditional pho, the rice noodles were thick like spaghetti noodles and the broth wasn't as licorice-y but it was still tasty...and honestly kind of a nice change.  The atmosphere was hilarious, next to our table was a large flat screen T.V. and playing on it was one of Celine Dion's Vegas was quite interesting.  Now I will talk about this meal; last night I slightly adapted this recipe by Ottolenghi and it was absolutely delightful.  If you don't know him he is an amazing chef that is pretty big in the scene right now and has several cookbooks out.  I recently just got my mom his Jerusalem cookbook and wish I had purchased one for myself as well.  I hope you make and enjoy this wonderful meal.  I paired it with roasted broccoli.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 whole corn cob, husk removed
About 3 tablespoons bacon fat
1/2 cup almond flour
1 pound ground chicken
1 small onion, grated
1 clove of garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic chili paste
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil

Lemon and harissa relish:
3 preserved lemon slices, flesh and skin sliced into thin strips
1 teaspoon lemon juice;
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons harissa paste

The Process
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 375F.

2.  To prepare the corn, put a ridged griddle pan on high heat and allow it to get really hot. Brush the corn with ½ a tablespoon of the olive oil and char grill it for 8-10 minutes, turning regularly. You want the flesh to get lots of dark charred specks and the corn to turn smoky. Remove from the heat, and once cool enough to handle, shave the corn off the cob using a large, sharp knife. Place the kernels in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

3.  For the relish, mix together in a medium bowl all the ingredients and set aside until needed.

4.  To make the meatballs, add to the bowl with the corn the almond flour, chicken, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, garlic chili paste, egg, ½ teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Stir the ingredients until well combined. Lightly moisten your hands with some of the olive oil and then form them into 12 round meatballs and lay on a greased baking tray.

5.  Return the griddle pan to a high heat. Once hot, cook the meatballs for 1-2 minutes on each side. They should have visible char marks and lift up easily from the pan. Take off the grill and place back on the baking tray. Put in the oven for 6 minutes or until cooked through.  Serve the meatballs warm with the relish.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Buffalo Style Pork Chops

Last post I was talking about how we were headed to the restaurant Lincoln for a fancy date, well we also ended up meeting Jenn Louis (the chef/owner) and she gave us a complimentary and delicious appetizer (pictured below).  It was scallops, cured salmon, quince, and cauliflower puree and was absolutely delightful.  The other dishes we had (pictured below) were short rib tartare, pork three ways with beans, roasted chicken with shoestring fries, and a vinegary endive salad.  The atmosphere was very nice with large windows, dim lights (in a good way), and awesome music, they played a variety of hip hop including Tupac.  All around our experience was very good and we would recommend checking this place out if you haven't already.  Tonight I am adventuring out to the new restaurant called Rose VL Deli, it was recently opened by the owners of Ha VL which I can't believe I still haven't been too.  I am headed here with my brothers tonight for a long overdue hangout, it sure is hard to create a solid plan with three very diverse schedules.  Now let's talk food, well food that I cooked not that I ate at a restaurant.  I adapted this recipe and made these delicious pork chops which are low carb and follow the primal idea of eating and I paired them with vinegar braised purple kale.  Enjoy!  I might add that my fiance told me I think a total of six times how much he enjoyed these pork chops :)

Serves 2

The Ingredients
2 thick boneless pork chops
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
Salt and pepper

The Process
1.  Preheat oven to broil.  Salt and pepper the pork chops.  Heat up olive oil and butter in skillet over medium-high heat until hot and add the pork chops.

2.  Sear the first side until golden brown then turn over and put 1/2 tablespoon of hot sauce on each pork chop.  When the other side is also brown flip them again and turn heat down to medium.

3.  Put another 1/2 tablespoon of hot sauce on each pork chop and continue to let cook until they are fully cooked through, about 5 more minutes.

4.  Now put the pork chops in a pan and sprinkle with sharp cheddar.  But in oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Top with the remaining hot sauce and serve!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Buttermilk Chicken

I am super excited for tomorrow night because my fiance and I are going on a fancy date to celebrate the new year and all the goals we are going to accomplish in 2016.  We are going to Lincoln which is a restaurant I've been dying to go to for years now.  The chef and co-owner Jenn Louis is pretty famous in the food world being voted best new chef by Food & Wine magazine in 2012, being a semi-finalist in the James Beard Foundation's "best new chef", and she wrote her first cookbook Pasta by Hand which and been wildly successful.  There is much more to say about her qualifications but I will let you do your own research on that.  She recently traveled to Jerusalem and her dishes at the restaurant have been influenced by that a lot even though the menu definitely leans toward Italian.  I find it funny because Italian food is a cuisine I don't seek out as often as let's say French but I think I am in for a real treat tomorrow night.  This date will be the one cheat this month during our cleanse month where I will be eating whatever I feel like (still no drinking though).  I feel like we are off to a strong start with the cleanse month, lots of working out, eating very healthy (currently drinking my spinach smoothie for lunch), and drinking lots and lots of kombucha.  Anyway onto this delicious buttermilk chicken recipe that I adapted and paired with vinegar braised broccoli.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 chicken thighs, bone-in
1 1/2cups buttermilk
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (10 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup (gluten free)
Fresh parsley for garnish

The Process
1.  Preheat oven to 425F.

2.  Melt butter in a 9x13 inch pan.

3.  Place ½ cup of the buttermilk onto a shallow dish, set aside the rest.

4.  In another shallow dish, mix together the almond flour, salt and two kinds of pepper.

5.  Dip chicken in the buttermilk and then dredge the chicken into the almond flour mixture.  Place the dredged chicken in the prepared pan.

6.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.  Turn the chicken over and bake for 15 minutes more.

7.  Combine the remaining 1 cup of buttermilk and the cream of mushroom soup.  Pour over chicken and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

8.  Transfer the chicken onto a serving platter and garnish with parsley.

9.  Stir the gravy up real well and then transfer to a gravy boat or other serving dish.