Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sweet Potato and Fennel Pie

One of the many cold and beautiful Fall evenings recently my mother and I decided to create a mostly healthy dish using seasonal produce and continuing our effort to learn the magical ways of fresh fennel!  How does fennel taste so amazing? It adds this crisp almost vinegar-y flavor to food when it is baked and apparently it is also medicinal, even more reason to love and experiment with fennel!  On another recent Fall evening two of my close friend Serenity and Turner and myself got together to create the website and help plan the first InfocampPDX ever!  While much planning still has to happen I am proud to be part of planning what will be an amazing event.  For those of you who don't know what InfocampPDX is: Infocamp PDX is a one day unconference for people excited about connecting people with information.  This includes visual and user experience designers, librarians, web folk, and other InfoNerds.  So enjoy this dank recipe and consider attending InfocampPDX.

Serves 5

The Ingredients
1 medium to small sweet potato, peeled and cubed (small)
1 cup zucchini, cubed (small)
2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 bulb fennel, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons lowfat milk
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

The Process
1.  Cook sweet potato in salted boiling water, for about 8 minutes, then add the zucchini and cook for about 4 more minutes. While these two things are still hot in a small bowl mash them together with milk and butter and set aside.

2.  Keep water boiling and add fennel and carrots, boil for about 8 minutes or until tender then take out of water and set aside.

3.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

4.  In large skillet add some olive oil, about 2 tablespoons and heat over medium-high heat.  When hot add onion and cook for 10 minutes.  Then add mushrooms, garlic, basil, and parsley and cook for about 3 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.

5.  Then grease a 9 inch glass baking dish with spray oil (note I used an oval shaped dish and it was too large).

6.  Begin the layering process, start by putting half of the sweet potato/zucchini mixture in dish, then add half of the mushroom/onion mixture, then half of the goat cheese and half of the cheddar cheese, then half of the fennel/carrot mixture, ...then layer last half of mushroom/onion, fennel/carrot, cheeses, and last finish with top layer sweet potato and zucchini mixture. 

7.  Put in oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until slightly golden brown on top and serve!  Super hearty and delicious, and it is almost better the second day if you end up having leftovers:)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fried Green Tomatoes

Because in Portland at a higher elevation apparently, and with how wet this year has been the majority of tomatoes we grew never made it past green...or the damn deer ate all the ripe ones, either way with a little bit of a bitter tone in my voice I decided to make fried green tomatoes.  They were good, real good.  On a side note have I mentioned how much I LOVE analyzing and scrapping data from twitter tweets?  Definitely one of my favorite ways to pass time currently... especially when I am sick, irritated and tired at work.  Onto the scrumptious food.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
3 medium green, or greenish tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup cornmeal
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil

The Process
1.  In a shallow dish mix together cornmeal, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

2.  In small bowl whisk together buttermilk and egg, and turn on stove top to medium heat.

3.  Place medium sized skillet on the stove and put oil in it to heat up.

4.  In the mean time dip tomato slices in milk/egg mixture and then put in cornmeal mixture and evenly cover tomato with mixture. Do this with all the tomato slices.

5. When pan is hot add tomatoes to pan in a single layer and cook for about 4 minutes each side or until golden brown.  When done cooking this batch put them on a plate with a paper towel on it to soak up the extra oil.  And continue this process till all the tomatoes are fried.

6.  Then serve!  They are also pretty good with hot sauce or any kind of yogurt sauce.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Infocamp Seattle

That is right this post is not about cooking but about an amazing "non-conference" I went to this last weekend called infocamp Seattle.  I met a lot of new people and learned a lot of interesting things, but the most interesting session that I attended was about Twitter and the ethics behind social media.  Not only was this woman scrapping data sets from twitter for information for a study she was conducting, but she brought a very interesting story to my attention that I hadn't heard of till this weekend.  It is a story that Andy Carvin (npr) helped follow and write and here is the link to the article, a very intense story and use of Twitter.  Also I am excited because I am helping with a similar data scrapping research based project at my job, and there are only a few of these research projects published.  On another note in our crazy world look who showed up to occupychicago.  And then yes there was a food portion to this weekend, but of course.  This weekend was my awesome friend Turner's birthday so we had to celebrate and what better way but to stay with his close friend who loves to cook.  So here are some pictures of food that his friend made, and of our stop at a pho place in Seattle.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Superb Pimento Cheese Spread

That is right another pimento cheese spread recipe, except for this one is WAY better than the last one, and it is a lot closer in taste to the ever so famous and amazing pimento cheese spread from Russel Street BBQ.  This process began with Becca and I reviewing about 4 or 5 recipes to combine the most perfect recipe for this wonderful feat.  I will say that the longer the spread sits in the fridge (like overnight) the more amazing it tastes.  So here is the recipe, and mind you this is a great treat to indulge in especially for college football games, GO DUCKS!

The Ingredients
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Monterey cheese, grated
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup pimentos (from the jar)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 small yellow onion, grated (or we actually re-hydrated dried onion bits but I bet fresh onion is better)
Black Pepper to taste, we used a lot
Stone Ground Wheat Crackers

The Process
1.  In a small bowl mix together the red wine vinegar and pimentos.

2.  In medium bowl mix together everything else, then add pimento mixture.

3.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour, but for best results but in fridge overnight.

4.  Serve on the wheat crackers, although little crostinis are amazing too!

Also I am super excited because I am leaving for Infocamp Seattle tonight, it is an amazing "non-conference" full of wonderful presentations and people!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Zucchini Pancakes

It is that time of year when zucchinis decide to take over you garden and all of a sudden there are tons of them and they are all huge...and then what, you have more zucchini than you know what to do with.  So as an option you could make Zucchini Chicken Nuggets that I have made previously, or you can make these super tasty and healthy zucchini pancakes.  I also served these pancakes with the garlic yogurt sauce that I made for the golden beets recipe.  So take control of the zucchinis and eat them all up before they try and go bad!

Adapted from Notecook
Serves 3

The Ingredients
2 cups zucchini, grated and patted dry
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

The Process
1.  In medium bowl mix together zucchini, eggs, and onion.  Then add all the dry ingredients which are flour, baking powder, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

2.  Turn stove top to medium-high heat, and use spray oil to grease pan.

3.  When pan is hot enough drop about two and a half spoon fulls of mixture in pan for each pancake (or make them as big or small as you want).

4.  Cover and cook for about 3 minutes each side, or until golden brown, but make sure to cover pan in between flipping.

5.  Serve with yummy garlic yogurt sauce, or eat plain because yes they are that tasty, enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Golden Beets with Garlic Yogurt Sauce

I love beets!  If you are not a beet lover I do understand though, when I was a child beets would literally make me gag!  I swore that beets tasted like soap and that they were THE worst vegetable out there... funny how taste buds change.  Speaking of taste buds here is an awesome taste bud chart my lovely friend Turner shared with me.  This beet recipe once again plays into the the lovely Fall time theme of most of my creations lately, and once again it was a very hearty and filling side dish.  I served the beets with zucchini pancakes (recipe soon to come).

Adapted from Butterflyfood
Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 large golden beets, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

1 cup plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 green onion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

The Process
1.  Turn oven to 425 degrees.  Grease large cookie sheet.

2.  In medium bowl toss together beets, 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

3.  Once beets are fully coated place them in a single layer on cook sheet and roast in oven for about 25 minutes, or until tender.

4.  In the mean time in a small bowl combine yogurt, garlic, 1 teaspoon olive oil, green onion, salt and pepper.  Mix well and put in fridge until ready to use on beets.

5.  When beets are ready, take out of oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Then serve with dollops of yogurt sauce.

And yes those are the zucchini pancakes on the plate too!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Quick and easy.  You read that right, yup quick and easy, no over-night time consuming setting in the fridge for this strata, just assemble and go!  Of course the bread is not as saturated and spongy as it would be if I let it soak all night, but I really like the texture of chewier bread in a strata, so I felt that this self-created strata was exactly what I had hoped for.  This strata was another one of my weekend cooking adventures to help make light of all the changing happenings in my life right now, and what followed the strata was pretty traumatic too! I made this breakfast for my lovely friend Erin and it was the morning after a fun night on the town and since her fiance was out of town I spent the night with her and her dog.  Little did we know her dog would get into my purse (post strata) and chew on my bottle of sleeping pills (because yes in fact I am an insomniac...not awesome).  So we proceeded to freak out not knowing if her dog had actually consumed any of the pills, and we had to make the dog throw up and all!  We wanted to call poison control, but did you know that to talk to someone they charge $65!!!! That is wrong and insane! Anyways long story short her dog is ok, but that was our post strata experience...good thing we had full bellies and brain food to stay on our toes and save her dog.  Definitely a scary situation that I hope doesn't happen to either of us again.  So here is the day saving strata.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 zucchini, shredded
1/4 cup cheddar, shredded 
1/4 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh italian parsley, finely chopped
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 medium size slices of sourdough bread, torn into little pieces
1/2 cup tomato, diced

The Process
 1.  Turn oven to 375 degrees and grease a medium size glass dish.

2.  In a large bowl thoroughly mix together zucchini, cheddar, mozzarella, onion, garlic, parsley, tomato, and bread.  Then put mixture into the glass dish.

3.  Next in medium bowl beat together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.  Take this mixture and pour it over the dry mixture in the glass dish.

4.  Put strata in oven and cook for 1 hour, then broil for 5 minutes or until golden brown top.  Serve hot!

While this isn't the healthiest dish, it is good that it is a breakfast item because then you have all day to work off the yummy cheese and bread.

Monday, October 3, 2011

French Onion Soup

During this cold and rainy weekend I needed to do something that I love (ie cook) and make something that would warm me up and make it feel like Fall time.  The pains of life are getting to me a little again with all this rainy weather, and me being at one of the biggest transition points in my entire life...  It's all just pretty scary and stressful not knowing where and what I will be doing two months from now, how I will be making money, how successful I will be and so on.  But on the bright side I  can cook and feel some solidarity in that.  So here is a recipe to make when you just don't quite know what to do or think.  Created by yours truly.

Serves 5

The Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter
3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
5 cups chicken broth
1 10.5oz can of beef consomme
1 14.5oz can of beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste

The Process
1.  In a large sauce pan over medium-low heat melt butter.  When melted add all the onions to the pan and turn heat to medium.

2. Saute these onions in this pan for about 40 minutes or until caramelized and slightly syrupy.

3.  Next add all the other ingredients which includes chicken broth, beef broth, beef consomme, red wine, Worcestershire, thyme, parsley, bay leaf and salt and pepper.  Mix and bring to a boil.

4.  Once soup reaches a boil turn down to simmer for another 40 minutes.  Then serve! I served it with toasted sourdough with provolone cheese on top.