Friday, December 18, 2015

Tomato "Bruschetta" with Tuna and Cannellini Salad

TGIF!  So happy it is Friday, I feel like the last two months at work have been harder than usual but it is almost Christmas and that is all that really matters!  Tonight I get to make cookies and candies with a good friend of mine which we are trying to make a tradition since I am not much of a baker and it is a fun festive activity.  Then tomorrow I have some shopping left to do but in the evening I am going to The Nutcracker with my mom and aunt.  My mom and I have gone almost every year since I was a child and it is one of my favorite holiday events, especially since I did ballet for 11 years.  I often miss ballet but it helps that I do Zumba and take African dance classes here and there.  Now let's talk food, last night I adapted this recipe and it is one I made years ago and it is still as delicious as I remember it.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Finely shredded zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (5 oz. each) tuna, preferably packed in natural juices, drained and broken into chunks
4 green onions, thinly sliced
8 thick slices large heirloom tomatoes (Marianna's Peace are especially tasty)

The Process
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, honey, and chives. Add parsley leaves, beans, tuna, and onions and stir gently just until coated.

2. Arrange tomato slices on 4 plates and spoon tuna mixture on top, dividing evenly. Top each salad with a few parsley leaves if you like.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hot and Sour Soup with Pork and Kale

Well as you can guess last weekend was fabulous and we had an amazing time at The Grand Lodge.  Below is a picture of the sake and food pairings we had and it was all super delicious.  I can't believe that Christmas is around the corner I still have quite a few gifts to pick up and I'm hoping that some of the stores still have what I want in stock.  Are you all feeling the holiday craze yet?  Well last weekend we went to Target to do a little gift shopping and holy hell was it crazy, there was a line just to check out that weaved all around the store, no thank you!  The part of the holidays I can't wait for of course is family time...well and the food.  This year we are spending actual Christmas with my fiance's family but then we are coming back to PDX on the 26th and having a Christmas with my family...well my parents at least.  It is hard having both of our families living in two different places but the switching off every other year does help alleviate all the traveling we would have to do.  Onto the food, last night I adapted this recipe and added a little healthy twist to it by adding kale.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
5 cups chicken broth
4 ounces crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch of curly kale, chopped
1 lb. ground pork
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chili sauce, such as sambal oelek or sriracha
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch mixed into 2 tablespoons cold water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 green onions, sliced

The Process
1.  In large pot cook ground pork over medium heat until almost all the pink is gone.

2.  Then add the broth, mushrooms, garlic, kale, ginger, vinegars, chili sauce, soy sauce and sugar and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

3.  Mix in the cornstarch and water mixture and simmer until the soup thickens a bit, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the eggs in a thin stream while stirring the soup.

4.  Mix in the sesame oil, black pepper and green onions, remove from heat and enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bean and Bacon Soup

Today marks a very special day for me, it is my 4 year anniversary with my fiance.  I am so thankful for him and know that our partnership can handle whatever life throws at us because when it comes down to it he is my best friend.  Below is an old picture of us hiking around Oaks Bottom in the first couple months that we were dating.  To celebrate we are headed out of town this weekend to Forest Grove and are staying at The Grand Lodge.  It is a fun old building full of history and it has been beautifully restored.  There is a soaking pool, disc golf, and a theater so there will be no lack of entertainment.  Also near the lodge is the Sake One brewery and tasting room so we will do some sake tasting that is paired with food and then take a walking tour of the brewery.  We did this several years ago for our anniversary and had so much fun we decided it had to happen again.  The other fun thing is that since Christmas is just around the corner The Grand Lodge decorates the entire lodge and is super festive with carolers and all! I love it!  Let's talk food, this soup is a copycat recipe of the Campbells canned soup.  This soup reminds me of my childhood best friend because her parents always had cans of it and we ate it constantly.  I adapted this recipe and immediately time traveled back to 1991.  Enjoy!

Serves 4-5

The Ingredients
8 ounces thick cut bacon
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon bacon fat
3 (15 ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
Large pinch salt and pepper
A splash of apple cider vinegar

The Process
1.  Cook bacon on stove top until it is crisp but still a little chewy.  Let cool and chop.

2.  Heat a large pot over medium high heat and add bacon fat.  Then add onions, carrots, and celery and cook for 2 minutes.  Then add garlic, broth, pepper, bacon, and beans.  Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer.

3.  Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft.  Then add apple cider vinegar and salt if needed.  Serve into bowls and garnish with green onions.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chicken Meatballs with Braised Lemon and Kale

Wow this week has been a whirlwind I can't believe it is already Wednesday...I need more time!  This is how the holidays feel every year to me and it takes a lot wrapping up the year at work too.  Last weekend was very nice and relaxing, we went out to some craft fairs and did some holiday shopping and watched many Christmas movies which was perfect for the very rainy weather here in PDX.  If you are from the NW I'm sure you have heard about all the severe flooding we are having and it is causing many landslides, sink holes, and falling trees.  Gotta love this crazy weather!  We also went and got our Christmas tree last weekend and it sure is a funny one but of course I love it (pictured below).  Last night one of my good friends came over to make dinner with me and I hadn't seen her since August which was before my Europe trip and engagement, so we obviously had a lot of catching up to do.  Among all the talking we did manage to adapt this recipe and it was crazy delicious...I wish I had more right now.

Serves 2-3

The Ingredients
2 tablespoons bacon fat, divided
2 medium shallots, minced, divided
3 scallions, minced (all parts), plus thinly sliced green tops for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound ground chicken meat
1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more
1 lemon, very thinly sliced and seeds removed
2 cups chicken broth
1 large bunch curly kale, destemmed

The Process
1.  Heat 1 Tbsp. bacon fat in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add shallot, scallion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly until softened and fragrant, about 6 minutes.

2.  Add 1/3 of ground chicken and cook just until cooked through, breaking up any clumps. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Add remaining chicken meat, salt, and several grindings of black pepper. Mix just to combine.

3.  Wipe out pot and add remaining Tbsp. bacon fat. Heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Form meat mixture into 8 meatballs each about 2–2 1⁄2-inch in diameter and add to pot (mixture will be soft). Cook until light golden brown on all sides, 6–8 minutes total. Remove meatballs to a plate; set aside.

4.  Add remaining shallot and lemon slices and cook until lemon slices are tender and starting to turn light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and return meatballs to pot.

5.  Bring to simmer, lower heat and cover. Cook meatballs until cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Add kale to pot, and cook until tender and bright green, 4–5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Divide kale and sauce among 2 shallow bowls, topping with meatballs and lemon slices. Garnish with sliced scallion tops and serve.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Blistered Green Beans with Tomato-Almond Pesto

Last night The Portland Kitchen (where I volunteer) held an amazing fundraising event at the Portland Airbnb office and it was a huge success!  I was in charge of selling drink tickets so I didn't get to mingle a ton with everyone but there were a lot of guests and very delicious food and drinks.  I can't say enough how much I love volunteering for such an amazing organization and the focus on our youth and food are two of my major passions.  This time of year is a great time for giving so if you feel so inclined please go to their website and make a donation, every little bit counts!  They have another fun event coming up called Cookies & Cocktails, go check out the event page for more fun details.   Anyway I am so happy that it is Friday, seems as if every week is a long week during the holiday season with so much happening all the time.  I am very excited for this weekend because not only do we get to relax a bunch but we will be attending some fun holiday craft fairs, visit with a good friend from out of town, and we are going to get our Christmas tree!  I am a person who really does love the holiday season, and speaking of my favorite holiday just passed (Thanksgiving) and here is what I made for it.  (Note I forgot to take a picture in the excitement of it all so this photo credit goes to Bon Appetit, which is also where the recipe is from.)

Serves 8

The Ingredients
2 pints cherry tomatoes
¼ cup unsalted, roasted almonds
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 pounds haricots verts or green beans, trimmed

The Process
1.  Preheat oven to 450°. Roast tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, turning once, until blistered and lightly charred, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2.  Finely chop almonds in a food processor. Add garlic, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, cayenne, and half of tomatoes; pulse to a coarse pesto consistency. Season with salt and pepper. 

3.  Heat 1½ tsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add half of beans; cook, undisturbed, until beginning to blister, about 2 minutes. Toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 7–9 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Spread beans out on a platter; let cool. Repeat with remaining vegetable oil and beans. 

4.  Toss beans with pesto; season with salt and pepper if needed. Add remaining tomatoes and transfer to a platter. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tom Kha

I lied the green beans I made for Thanksgiving will not be this post but my next post;)  I have been on a really good kick of working out and mostly eating healthy lately and my body has been feeling amazing because of it.  Do you ever have those moments when you are in the middle of your workout and all of a sudden your body's strength takes over and each movement becomes that much more powerful?  Well that has been where I am at and it feels good because I have put in a lot of hard work getting let's hope the holiday season doesn't throw me off haha.  In other fun news I am finally booking my flight to go out and visit one of my best friends ever in Austin, TX this spring.  Not only am I ecstatic to see her and her husband but I've never been to Austin and have heard wonderful things about the music and food scenes.  It will be a long overdue epic adventure that I will have so much to write about when I get back, especially the food.  Onto the soup, I adapted this recipe and made my favorite Thai soup ever...I can't even go to a Thai restaurant without ordering it.  I hope you enjoy this on a crisp cold fall evening like I did last night.

Serves 6

The Ingredients
1 1” piece ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. lime zest and ¼ cup lime juice
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and the rings cut in half
2 roma tomatoes cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce (or to desired hotness)
1½ lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, cut in half
1 13.5-oz. can coconut milk
2 Tbsp. fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
Cilantro leaves with tender stems, and lime wedges (for serving)

The Process
1.  Bring lemongrass, ginger, lime zest and juice, and broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors are melded, 8–10 minutes.

2.  Add chicken and return to a boil. Reduce heat, add mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes and simmer, skimming occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and mushrooms are soft, 20–25 minutes.

3.  Mix in coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and garlic chili sauce.  Then divide soup among bowls. Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Creamy Cabbage and Kielbasa

How was everyone's Thanksgiving weekend?  Mine was full of lots of family, food, and the outdoors as it was sunny and cold all weekend here in PDX.  Below is a picture of my cousin and I at the view point we hiked to in Forest Park the day after Thanksgiving.  It has been in the 30's and 40's for about a week now and yesterday when I woke up it was even 29 degrees!  In this kind of weather all I ever want to make are soups, so I apologize if you aren't a huge soup fan but there will be lots of them posted in the coming months.  In other news this will be pretty eventful week because my fiance and I are having our first meeting with a realtor to talk about buying a house this year.  It is such a big and exciting step in life I can't wait to begin the process.  I definitely know it will be stressful and challenging at times but isn't that what cooking is for?  It always helps calm my nerves and bring me back down to earth, my love for food goes deep.  Anyway my next post will be the dish I made for Thanksgiving which was a fabulous green bean dish from Bon Apetit.  I adapted this creamy cabbage and kielbasa the night before Thanksgiving because of how light and healthy it is.  And trust me it was super delicious so I hope you enjoy!

Serves 5

The Ingredients
1 medium head of green cabbage, chopped coarse
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 cups plain yogurt
1 14oz Pork Polska Kielbasa, sliced

The Process
1.  In a large pot or dutch oven, add enough water to barely cover the bottom of the pot, place coarsely chopped cabbage and sliced onions.

2.  Cook on medium heat until cabbage and onions are tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Stir in mustard and yogurt and add cut up pork kielbasa.  Mix well and serve.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pork Ragù over Creamy Polenta

I had such a lovely weekend staying in town, I often love to run away to the coast or mountains but it is important to remember how much I truly have in this city.  It started with Friday afternoon I took some PTO and left work a little early and went and had lunch with one of my very close friends, we ended up getting Ethiopian food at E'Njoni Cafe one of my favorite spots in Portland.  Then later that night I hung out with another awesome friend and we went to the Blazers vs. Clippers game.  I was a little nervous for the game because we were on a 7 game loosing streak but we played really well and beat them 102 - 91.  Then Saturday afternoon I attended an amazing 2 hour African dance workshop at the Vitalidad Movement Arts Center (pictured below).  It really brought me back to college days when I use to take African dance classes every term.  Saturday evening we celebrated my mom's birthday (happy birthday mom!) and my dad and I made her this delicious meal that I'm blogging about, original recipe here, it was a wonderful evening spent with family.  Sunday late morning I went on a hike with my good friend in Forest Park.  We both know this park very well but we were going on a new 9 mile loop and ended up getting a little our 9 miles turned into 12.5 miles haha.  We are both fit people so that was totally fine but I was pretty tired by the end and slept very very well last night.  Enjoy and happy Monday!

Serves 8

The Ingredients

3 pounds skinless, boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), cut into 3 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup full-bodied red wine
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
4 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves

Polenta And Assembly:
Kosher salt
1½ cups coarse polenta (not quick-cooking)
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup grated Parmesan (from about 2 ounces), plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil (for drizzling)

The Process

1.  Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Cook pork, turning often, until evenly browned, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to a platter and pour off pan drippings.
Wipe out any burned bits from pot, but leave the golden-brown pieces (doing this will keep the finished sauce from tasting bitter).

2.  Add onion and garlic to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to brown and caramelize, 12–15 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly darkened in color, 5–8 minutes.

3.  Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by about half, 5–8 minutes.  Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, then add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves; stir in 2 cups water. Add pork with any juices accumulated on the platter; season with salt and pepper.

4.  Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until pork is falling-apart tender, sauce is thickened (it will be thicker than a typical pasta sauce), and flavors have melded, 2½–3 hours.

5.  Using 2 forks, break up pork into pieces or shred it (your choice!); taste and season with salt and pepper.  Pork can be cooked 5 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill in sauce.

Polenta And Assembly
1.  Bring 6 cups salted water to a boil in a large pot. Whisking constantly, gradually add polenta; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, whisking often, until polenta is tender and creamy, 20–25 minutes (if polenta becomes too thick too soon, loosen mixture by adding more water and continue cooking).

2.  Add butter and ½ cup Parmesan to polenta and whisk until melted; season with salt and pepper.

3.  Spoon polenta into bowls or onto a platter and top with pork. Scatter parsley and more Parmesan over top and drizzle with oil.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pork and Vegetable Soup

Portland's weather was pretty crazy last night and supposedly will be again tonight.  After my workout I was headed to my friend Becca's to hangout and make a warm fall soup when I hit a huge puddle I didn't see and it caused my battery to die, who knew that could happen?  Then on my way home from her house one of my windshield wipers just flew off out of nowhere, who knew that could happen either?  In other news I just read that Chris Kimball is leaving America's Test Kitchen which just breaks my heart.  If you haven't heard of this show you must check it out, it is all about food, cooking, testing, processes, etc.  I mostly listen to the podcasts at work while I'm working with data and his voice is just so comforting...sadness.  Anyway last night I hung out with my friend and finally met her adorable baby girl, then we put our heads together and came up with this delicious recipe.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 lb ground pork
1 15-oz can of tomatoes
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, sliced
3 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon bacon fat
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper 
Canola oil

The Process
1.  In a large pot over medium high heat add olive oil and butter.  When hot add onions, pork, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes.  Then add garlic, kale, and tomatoes.

2.  Cook for about 2 minutes and then add the stock.  Bring to a boil and then simmer.  While simmering add all spices, vinegar, bacon fat, and salt and pepper (to taste).

3.  Let simmer for about 10 minutes but make sure not to overcook the kale.  Serve up and eat!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Crispy Chicken with a Creamy Irish Whiskey and Chanterelle Mushroom Sauce

Last weekend was relaxing and funny because while I had some great down time, Saturday evening my friend had a 90's party and people were very animated.  I also managed to watch many of the last Blazer games which has been fun but frustrating because we are now on a 6 game losing streak but the hard part is we are barely losing most of these games.  We have a very new team and it is obvious that the players are still really learning how to play with each other, not to mention we have been playing some really good teams on this road trip.  My last blog post that I wrote on Friday was right before everything was coming out about what was happening in Paris and it just breaks my heart when things like this happen in our world.  I feel like it especially hit close to home since we were just there a little over a month ago and I had just finished reminiscing about Paris in my blog posts.  I can't imagine the horror and pain of being in a situation like that... So Friday evening after work I went and hung out with my parents for a little bit talking about the events of the day and sitting in front of their fireplace.  They then gave me a bag of fresh picked chanterelles and I was on my way (so generous of them).  I proceeded to cook and work through such a heartbreaking day and I adapted this delicious recipe that The Splendid Table featured.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy this dish, and it was just what we needed for such a somber night.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin on
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Apple cider vinegar braised kale, to serve with

For the sauce:
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
10 1/2 ounces chanterelle mushrooms
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Irish Whiskey
1 1/4 cups half and half
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon

The Process
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place an ovenproof skillet or grill pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Once they have warmed and the butter has melted, add the garlic cloves and place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan. Season with salt and black pepper.

3. Cook until the skin is crisp, 2 minutes, then turn over and cook on the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 20 minutes. The whole garlic cloves will add a very slight flavor to the chicken.

4. While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the shallots and chanterelle mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Pour in the whiskey and turn up the heat. Let simmer until the whiskey has reduced by half.

5. Stir in the half and half and tarragon. Season with salt and black pepper, reduce the heat to low, and cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Serve the dish in four warm bowls. Divide your chosen braised kale between the bowls. Arrange the crispy chicken on top and spoon over the Irish whiskey and chanterelle mushroom sauce.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pork Chops with Chive Butter

T.G.I.F. people!  It has been another long week even though I had veterans day off.  I'm very excited for tonight because my parents just got back from Yachats and they went mushroom hunting with their very good friends and came back with a bunch of chanterelles and they are sharing them with me.  So tonight I plan on making something amazing with them, yum yum yum!  Below is a picture of my dad (on left) and his bud foraging for mushrooms.  Speaking of mushroom hunting we are going to go out and hunt on Sunday with some of our friends so hopefully we have as much success as my parents did.  It is suppose to be a very wet hopefully that will all happen tonight and Saturday and then be dry for us on Sunday.  I can't believe the holiday season is just around the corner!  I've already started thinking about what I want to make for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and my mom's birthday is coming up and I want to make a delicious meal for her too!  Last night I adapted this simple recipe and paired it with balsamic roasted broccoli and sauteed mushrooms.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 pork chops
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 clove of garlic (halved)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

The Process
1.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Season both sides of the pork chops with salt & pepper.

2.  Place chops in the heated skillet, cooking for about 5-8 minutes (or until golden brown) on one side. Flip and continue cooking for about 3 more minutes. Remove chops to a plate and cover to keep warm.

3.  Reduce the heat to medium. Place a tablespoon of butter in the skillet along with the chives and garlic. Heat until butter has melted and begins bubbling and turning brown. Drizzle butter over pork chop and serve.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mulled Wine

I have one last story about Europe and that is about our favorite bar in Paris.  The day we got to Paris and had all that trouble trying to check in to our apartment is the day we discovered this place.  We went to this bar while waiting for the owner to show up and let us into our apartment and we were tired, hungry, and grumpy.  This is the first time we met the owner Didier, who was there each time we went.  We ordered a charcuterie board (pictured below) and some wine and were blown away at how tasty both were.  Once we had eaten we started to look around and realized that this bar was decorated with tons of food and cooking certificates ranging from gastronomy to cheese.  One of our visits while getting to know Didier he insisted on buying us both one last glass of wine, and on our last visit I finally asked about all of his certificates.  Didier is an amazing chef and all the food we ate there was fabulous, at one point in his life he was very involved in the chef scene and was a major competitor.  What we gathered is that he left that life to open his own bar and just do what he loves and cook, he is also quite the entertainer.  He was always being a ham and putting on American music for us and dancing around and singing along.  On our last visit I asked to get a picture with him and he insisted we take a picture with him kissing my cheek, so if you are ever in Paris in the 18th quarter please stop by Au Gamin de Paris.  Now let's talk wine, last night I hosted an event called Wine Wednesday which is a lovely thing that happens almost every week.  A bunch of us girls get together and cook and eat healthy foods and talk about life, play games, watch games and so forth.  Last night was the first time I hosted so I made sure to do it right and I made the ever so tasty Pizza Chili and adapted this recipe for the mulled wine.  Enjoy!

Makes 2 liters

The Ingredients
2 (750 mL) bottles red wine
1 (750 mL) bottle sweet vermouth
3½ ounces Angostura bitters
Peels from 2 oranges
2 grams clove
Peel from 1 lemon
About 6 whole green cardamom
About 4 whole cinnamon sticks
6 grams nutmeg
About 10 whole star anise
About 3 vanilla beans, split
3½ ounces brown sugar

The Process
1.  Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low.

2.  Steep on low heat, covered, for at least 1 hour.

3.  Strain or ladle, and serve hot.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sharp Cheddar and Broccoli Stuffed Chicken

During one of our last days in Paris we assessed what we had seen and what we couldn't live without seeing and that brought us to Musée Picasso Paris.  I had never realized that there was an entire museum dedicated to Picasso, so I was beyond delighted when we decided to go there.  It was in the nice part of Paris and it felt like we were in a movie, sun shining and all.  Below is one of my favorite paintings we saw and of course I bought quite a few fun things in the gift shop before we left.  After Picasso we walked around until we found a fun little place to eat lunch, but during our walk we found this open air market with the most adorable mushroom display I've ever seen (pictured below, note the little skiing guys).  Our lunch was fabulous and I got steak tartare one last time so that I wouldn't forget how delicious it is in Paris.  That last evening we stayed in and made food, I made porcini ravioli with tomato/eggplant sauce topped with fresh tomatoes and goat cheese (pictured below).  I can't even begin to tell you how badly I want to go back to Europe and eat all this amazing food again...  Well in the meantime I'll just keep trying to cook up some wonderful food here at home in PDX.  I adapted this recipe and it is so simple and tasty.  Also I forgot to take a picture of this dish because I was so hungry so the picture credit goes to Center Cut Cook.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast pounded thin
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1  cup chopped fresh broccoli
sea salt
ground black pepper
garlic powder
1/2  tbsp olive oil

The Process
1.  Preheat over to 350 degrees. If you're chicken breasts are not already thin, pound them with a mallet until thin. This makes the chicken easier to fold in half. Place them in a baking dish.

2.  Coat chicken with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
Sprinkle sharp cheddar cheese evenly on top of the chicken breasts. Save a little bit to add to the top after you fold them.

3.  Sprinkle chopped broccoli evenly on top of the cheese. The smaller you chop your broccoli, the easier it stays on when you fold it.  Fold your chicken breasts in half and secure with 2-3 toothpicks each.  Brush the tops of the chicken breasts with olive oil.

4.  Cover baking dish with tin foil and place in the over. Cook for about 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.  Remove tin foil and sprinkle chicken with the remaining cheese.  Bake uncovered for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Honey-Tamari Glazed Salmon with Bok Choy

One of our many amazing evenings in Paris we went to a restaurant that I had made reservations at called Le Timbre.  I had read amazing things about this place and decided it was a must do while in Paris.  It was a fixed menu with options on how many courses you wanted and we went all out with the five courses.  It was a very small and intimate restaurant with only the server and the chef running the entire show.  Everything was super delicious but my favorite three dishes are pictured below: cauliflower and smoked eel, white fish with cannellini beans, and rare filet mignon.  We also purchased an unforgettable bottle of wine to pair with our meal.  It was the most romantic meal we had in Paris.  After that we stopped at a store and bought a bottle of wine and headed towards the Eiffel Tower.  The Eiffel Tower was so beautiful with all of its lights shining in the night, we sat down on some grass near the base of it and popped our bottle of wine.  This romantic evening was so amazing I hope to experience it again in my lifetime.  Ok now let's talk salmon, my awesome dad caught this salmon and gave me a big ol' slab so I had to do it justice and make a tasty meal.  I adapted this recipe and it was heavenly to say the least.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 cup tamari
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 inch peeled fresh ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 pounds salmon (about 4 fillets)
1 head bok choy, chopped up

The Process
1.  Whisk tamari, honey, lemon juice, ginger, and garlic together until honey dissolves. Reserve 1/4 cup of marinade in separate bowl, then place salmon, skin-side up, in marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes (I did an hour).

2.  Meanwhile, preheat broiler (or grill) to high. Heat 1/4 cup of water in medium skillet over high heat and bring to a boil. Add bok choy and cover. Allow to steam until almost tender, about 4 minutes, then add reserved marinade. Toss to combine, cook for an additional 2 minutes to reduce excess liquid. Remove from heat.

3.  Put the salmon under the broiler skin-side down and broil without turning until exterior is well-caramelized and the fish is just cooked through, 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness and the distance from broiler. (I did 8 minutes and it was perfect).

4.  Arrange bok choy on plates and top with the salmon fillets.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Harissa Beef Skewers with Tahini Slaw

Let's talk more about Paris because it was fabulous!  The next day in Paris we got up early and headed over to Notre Dame because they day before we tried to get in and the line was insane.  It was unbelievable inside and while we were in there a service was happening which immediately brought me back to my childhood as I was raised catholic (pics below).  We then went over to the catacombs and stood in line for an entire hour and only moved we decided our time was too precious to waste especially since it would have taken us another 2 hours at least.  From there we were hungry and stopped in this little cafe and had some amazing food, we shared foie gras with fig jam and toast and then a very large and delicious charcuterie board (pic below).  Next we went to the Père Lachaise Cemetery which was so beautiful and haunting.  We walked around for hours and visited Jim Morrison's grave and one of my favorites Oscar Wilde's grave (pic below).  Now let's talk about food I cooked.  I adapted this recipe for last night's dinner and while it turned very yummy there were definitely some tweaks I made and tweaks I should have made which I will note. And TGIF enjoy your weekend!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1/2 cup plain whole yogurt
2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup dill sprigs, chopped
3 tablespoon Harissa paste (I used mild)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 pound beef, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 small head cabbage (I used Chinese), shredded
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Garlic powder

The Process
1.  Mix Harissa paste, olive oil, and 2 dashes of garlic powder together and place in bowl with beef chunks.  Let marinate for at least 1/2 hour. (This will help the flavor be more brilliant than mine was).

2.  In the meantime place the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, honey, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the cabbage, onions, and dill, and toss to combine. Set aside.

3.  When meat is done marinating preheat a grill pan or a grill to medium high heat.  Thread the meat onto skewers and brush with the leftover paste oil mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side. Serve over the slaw.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pork No Mein

Another day in Paris we went to the Louvre for almost 5 hours (see pics below) and saw some amazing history and art.  Of course I was blown away at how huge the Louvre is and how we could have easily spent another 10 hours there and still not have seen all the art we wanted to, but again with only a limited time in Paris we had to choose wisely.  That is definitely a pretty part of Paris with the canal and it was much cleaner than where we were staying in the 18th quarter.  After the Louvre we went and tried escargot for the first time, I absolutely loved it but I can't say the same for can tell how he felt in the picture below.  I wish I had gotten more at some point but I guess I will just have to try it here in America and see if it is up to par.  I've been trying to eat pretty healthy since we got back from Europe because even though the food was amazing it is a big transition for your stomach to have that many varying rich food and I kind of needed to reset.  I adapted this recipe last week and it was a wonderful alternative to Pork Lo Mein.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
4 Tbsp. wheat-free tamari
2 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce
couple grinds of fresh ground pepper
2 lbs. boneless pork chops, cut into strips or chunks
1 small head of cabbage, sliced as thinly as possible
1 carrot, quartered lengthwise then diced
1 onion, cut in half lengthwise then into thin slivers
5 mushrooms, cut in half then sliced thinly
Olive oil

The Process
1) Make sauce: Place tamari, almond butter, honey, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, chili-garlic sauce, and some salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

2) Preheat large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add some olive oil and pork, stirring. When one side is beginning to brown, add all the veggies, continuing to cook until cabbage is softened and onion is translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Add sauce and stir to combine, until sauce is heated through. Serve it up!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Beef Stuffed Chard with Marinara and Gorgonzola

When life gets complicated and intense I like to focus on the things that make me happy and one of those things obviously is cooking.  The other thing that helps me on days like today is now reminiscing about our fun adventure in Europe, so I will continue on with the stories!  After Dijon we went to Paris for 5 days.  The place that we stayed ended up being nice once we got in but boy was that an ordeal just trying to get the keys.  To make a long story short the owner of the apartment has a cleaning guy who then also hands off the keys to the guests and he was definitely up to something sketchy.  He told us all these stories once in person and once over the phone as to why we couldn't get into our apartment at the original time...anyway 4 hours later we finally did get in and had a moment to rest.  The building also had really steep stairs as you can see in one of the pictures below.  That night we went on an adventure around town and stopped at a couple fun and hospitable bars but while we were walking around I found the funniest barber shop ad (pictured below).  The next day before we really began our adventures we ate breakfast at this cute little corner bar and I had thin rye toast with jambon, fromage, and tomates (pictured below) and it was amazing!  Speaking of food last night I adapted this recipe and it was so very tasty and healthy too!

Serve 2-3

The Ingredients
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
1/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup onion, minced, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
8 large Swiss chard leaves, stems removed (see Tip)
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup Gorgonzola, (optional)
1 cups mushrooms, sliced

The Process
1.  Gently mix beef, almond flour, 1/4 cup onions, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl until just combined. Divide the mixture into 8 oblong 3-inch portions.

2.  Overlap the two sides of a chard leaf where the stem was removed and place a portion of beef there. Tightly roll the chard around the beef. Place each roll, seam-side down, in a large nonstick skillet. Pour in broth, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll reads 165 degrees F, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard any remaining broth.

3.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining onion, mushrooms, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes. Serve the chard rolls topped with sauce and Gorgonzola cheese, if desired.