Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Brussels Sprouts and Steak Stir-Fry

So as you would have guessed our experience at Kachka was amazing!  The food was outstanding, service was very fast and friendly, and the vodka nice and refreshing.  This is one of my new favorite Portland restaurants and it received a 5 star rating on my Yelp review.  Below are photos of a couple of dishes we had, which were: brindza pashtet, salo, siberian pelmeni with garlic broth, golubtsi, and two flights of vodka and we were full.  I can't recommend this place enough, but be sure to make reservations.  I am exhausted already just thinking about all the plans we have this weekend...April and May are the months where I swear almost every single person I know was born.  Saturday alone I have 3 parties throughout the day that I am attending...hopefully Sunday's hike on Mt. St. Helen's will be somewhat rejuvenating.  Onto the food, here is an easy and delicious weeknight meal that I adapted from Bon Appetit.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
8 ounces flank or skirt steak, thinly sliced against the grain
Kosher salt
4 scallions, whites chopped, greens sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce
Optional steamed rice (for serving)

The Process
1.  Whisk oyster sauce, tamari, vinegar, garlic chili sauce, and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl; set sauce aside.

2.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; wipe out skillet.

3.  Season steak with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke. Add steak in a single layer; cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until nearly cooked through, about 30 seconds. Add to brussels sprouts.

4.  Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add scallion whites, garlic, and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, adjusting heat as needed.

5.  Return brussels sprouts and steak to skillet and add reserved sauce. Cook, tossing occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve with steamed rice and garnish with scallion greens.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes)

Well today the President is in town and traffic will be horrible, makes me so glad I live and work on the east side (the better side) ;)  Today is also my older brother's birthday so I will be attending his comedy show tonight at Curious Comedy Theater, it is a pretty fun spot if you are into improv.  This weekend is pretty low key with a date night to Kachka on Saturday night and mother's day on Sunday.  This makes me happy because I really need to relax and catch up on my sleep after Tuesday night's late night show.  Yesterday was a really long day that felt like it was never going to end and all I wanted to do was go home and cook.  So after the gym when I finally got home I adapted this recipe and was very happy with the results.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
1/2 lb of ground pork
1 tsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbs diced shallots
1/4 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes
3 green onion, thinly diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive Oil

The Process
1.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the pork, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, salt, shallots, and mushrooms.

2.  Next using a melon baller empty out the membranes of the tomatoes and set aside.  Now you’re ready to stuff the tomatoes.

3.  Stuff just to the top of the tomatoes, leaving a flat surface for even cooking.  In a large sautee pan, heat olive oil and garlic on medium high heat. Add the stuffed tomatoes with the stuffing side down first. Also add the cored tomatoes around as well.

4.  Cook until the meat is nicely golden brown and flip once. The cored tomatoes will also soften and turn in beautiful sauce. Cook until tomatoes start to soften and the pork is fully cooked (about 5-7 minutes).  Serve with a side of rice or vegetables.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Classic Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese

Goat cheese everything is what I say!  It is one of my favorite foods, I love how sour it is much like yogurt.  Anyway last night I went and saw an amazing show, Sleater-Kinney, they have been one of my favorite bands for a very long time now.  My very first time seeing them was also at the Crystal Ballroom in 2002 or 3, I was 18 years old and a freshman in college.  If you don't know much about them this line gives you a taste: "Sleater-Kinney is a key part of the riot grrrl and indie rock scenes in the Pacific Northwest.[2] The band is also known for its feminist and left-leaning politics." In food related news look at this cool new marketplace that is coming to PDX, it is focused around farmers markets and craft fair items!  The foodie world also received very sad news that surrounded the James Beard Foundation AwardsJosh Ozersky passed suddenly at the age of 47, here is a beautiful piece he wrote for Saveur magazine.  As you recall from my last post I was on the hunt for a wonderful tomato soup recipe, lots of people responded with amazing recipes that I will have to try soon, but I ended up using this recipe from Saveur that I adapted.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 large tablespoon bacon fat (use butter if you want vegetarian)
1⁄2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, halved and thinly sliced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
4 tsp. almond flour
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups canned diced tomatoes, well drained
1/4 tsp. thyme
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
4 tbsp. heavy cream
Goat cheese for garnish

The Process
1.  Turn heat to medium-high and add the butter to large pot. Saute the onion and carrot for 8-10 minutes or until very soft and beginning to caramelize, stirring occasionally.

2.  Add the tomato paste and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture, mix well and continue cooking for another minute.

3.  Gradually pour in the stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the diced tomatoes, thyme, garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.  Remove soup from the heat. Add the heavy cream and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Season to taste and serve garnished with lots of goat cheese

**To make this soup vegetarian:** Omit the bacon and increase the butter by 1 tablespoon.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tomato and Goat Cheese Risotto

What a weekend, full of sunshine, friends, family, and lots of gardening.  Saturday I spent all day in the garden planting seeds and my starts (pictured below).  Here is the official list of items planted: marigolds, celery, Walla Walla onions, green onions, tomatoes, peppers, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, spinach, kale, carrots, beets, turnips, oregano, and basil.  Then Saturday night I made and adapted this recipe with my lovely friend Sarah.  In other news do you live in PDX?  If so check out this great guide to Portland's summer concerts and festivals, I personally can't wait for the Jazz festival which is right down the road from us.  I'm looking to make tomato soup tonight, do you have a favorite recipe you love to use?  I am always looking for new twists on classic dishes such as tomato soup.  It's a Monday so let's keep this post short and sweet.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 shallots, thinly sliced
5 mushrooms, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of fresh baby spinach
6 big sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of white wine
2 cups of vegetable broth (you might need a bit more)
1 cup of risotto
14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
5 ounces of goat cheese
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon of butter

The Process
1.  In a large saucepan, heat up the butter until melted and bubbling. Throw in your sliced shallots and cook for 3 minutes on medium heat, stir frequently. Add the garlic and mushroom and continue cooking for about 3 to 4 minutes.

2.  Throw in the risotto, mix well and bring the heat up. Cook on high for about 1 minutes and throw in the white wine. De-glaze the pan and bring the heat down to medium high. Stirring frequently, wait until the liquid has almost all been absorbed.

3.  At that point, stirring in 1 cup of vegetable broth and bring the heat down to medium. Throw in the Parmesan and the sun dried tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring until the liquid has almost all been absorbed. Add in 1/2 cup of vegetable broth along with the diced tomatoes. Continue cooking until there is almost no liquid left.

4.  Test your risotto. If it is still hard, add in the rest of the vegetable broth and stir frequently until the liquid has been absorbed. Test your risotto again and do the same thing, 1/2 cup at a time until it is cooked to your liking.

5.  When the risotto is cooked, throw in the spinach and cover, on low heat for about 2 minutes. The spinach will wilt. Mix the spinach in and add the crumbled goat cheese and mix thoroughly. Keep cooking until the cheese has melted and is well incorporated.

Serve immediately!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Roasted Fennel Salad with Lentils, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Vinaigrette

Well the Blazers sure fought hard but we still lost in the end.  I'm proud of them and how well they did this season, and there's always next year!  Tomorrow I have my mid term accounting exam which I am pretty nervous for but after I am rewarding myself by going down to City Farm and buying lots of fun tomato starts!  It is going to be a full day of gardening fun at our house.  In addition a friend of mine needed a smart phone and I had my old 3Gs lying around so I traded it to him for a bunch of fun vegetable and flower seeds that I am very excited to plant (and yes I know I'm a little late planting wise).  In a couple weeks my boyfriend and I are going to Kachka (Russian food) for a fun date night.  It has an amazing menu and this will be my first visit so I will have to do it right and get a flight of vodka to accompany our meal.  They also just signed a cookbook deal and you better believe I will be buying that book for the dumpling recipes alone.  I adapted this recipe last night in my attempt to master lentils and use them more, it turned out amazing!

Serves 4

The Ingredients

For the salad:
1 whole bulb fennel
1 small red onion (or half a large one)
1 big bunch flat leaf parsley
1 cup dry lentils (I used French green lentils)
1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground pepper

Goat cheese to sprinkle on top of salad when served

The Process
1.  Cook the lentils while you prep the rest of the ingredients. I did 3 cups water to 1 cup lentils, brought it to a boil and boiled it for 3 minutes.  Then turned it down to a simmer and simmered it for 30 minutes.

2.  Using a mandolin or your rock-star knife skills, slice the whole fennel bulb as thin as you can – do the same with the onions. Spread out the sliced fennel on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and add some salt and pepper.

3.  Broil on low for 10 minutes or until fragrant and tender but al dente. While the fennel is roasting, toast the fennel seeds in a hot pan until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.

4.  In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients for the salad together. In a jar with a lid, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and shake to mix. Pour dressing over salad and taste for salt and pepper.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Petite Sirloin with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette

Anyone watch the 3rd playoff game for the Blazers?! Such an amazing game and I am so happy that we didn't get swiped out of the playoffs!  I am nervous for tonight's game since we don't seem to play well when we are away, but I have faith we can still pull it off.  Go Blazers!  On Monday night I attended The Portland Kitchen cook-off and it was a blast! I met lots of new people including the new executive director.  And we had some well known food industry people there judging the students' dishes.  The judges came from Whole Foods, Aviary (one of my fav restaurants), and Raven & Rose.  Below are some fun pictures from the event.  In other food news I am really excited to start watching this new series on Netflix called Chef's Table, it is from the same director who did Jiro Dreams of Sushi.  This week I also celebrated my 1 year anniversary of working for Resource Recycling and I couldn't have done it without all my amazing co-workers, and it sure is fun having a green job!  Onto this adapted recipe, it is so delicious and perfectly sweet from the fresh tomatoes, enjoy!

Serves 2

The Ingredients

2 6-oz petite sirloin steaks
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (or more) red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

The Process
1.  Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.

2.  Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to release juices, 4-6 minutes. Mash some of tomatoes with a spoon.

3.  Add 1 tablespoon vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or room temperature; add chives just before serving.

4.  Salt and pepper the steaks.  Then pan sear the steaks in some olive oil over medium high heat.  Sear 3-4 minutes each side for a rare steak.  

5.  Let steak rest 5 mintues and then serve with tomato vinaigrette over the top.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pork Fajitas

For those of you who do accounting out there I commend you.  This accounting class that I am taking has so many layers of rules and complicated equations, it is really testing my brain and is getting the best of me.  Hopefully in the end I will understand it and will be able to do the accounting for my company, but right now I'm feeling a little discouraged.  I could just be tired too because today marks my 11th day in a row of working.  I had to work all the extra hours to get that large project I was talking about done.  I am so thankful that I have a 3 day weekend and am going to Eugene, I need the break.  Not to continue on this semi-negative tone but the Portland house buying market is getting so so scary.  I heard from a friend that her brother was out-bid by someone who offered $105,000 over asking price...that is just insane!  And all these investors from California and New York are coming in with all cash, which of course what seller doesn't want cash up front?  Here are two depressing articles that explain how Portland is changing in bad ways so that average people can't afford to live here anymore:
How Cash Sent the Portland Home Market Spinning

Ok I know enough with the negative stuff, let's focus on things we like.  I recently heard about this amazing radio station called Heritage Radio Network, here is how they describe themselves: " is committed to archiving, protecting, and advancing our country's rich food culture through programs that give voice to America's leading food professionals, farmers, policy experts, artists, and tastemakers."  If that doesn't entice you I don't know what will.  Another thing I like is fajitas, so enjoy! Made by yours truly. 

Serves 3

The Ingredients
For cooking the meat:
1 tablespoon bacon fat 
2 tablespoons lime juice 
1 tsp cumin 
1 tsp chili powder 
1 tsp onion powder 
1 1/2 tablespoon worcestershire 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 lb pork, cut into bite size strips

For cooking the veggies:
1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 onion, halved and sliced  
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 tablespoon worcestershire 
1 tsp cumin 
1 tsp chili powder 
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Half a tomato, chopped to put on fresh at the end
Corn tortillas

The Process
1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, let heat for a minute, and then add in your onion, bell pepper, and worestershire. Season with salt. Sautee until the vegetables are  tender crisp (7-10 minutes). During the last few minutes of cooking, add in your cumin, chili powder, and red pepper flakes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.

2. Return the skillet to high heat. Add your pork, garlic, and all the seasonings including lime juice.  Cook your pork in it for about 5 minutes.  

3.  Add veggies back to pan with pork and cook for another 2 minutes and mix it all together.

4.  Serve in corn tortillas and top with fresh chopped tomatoes.