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. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dahiwale Mushrooms

Otherwise known as Mushroom Yogurt Curry.  I came across this recipe in my daily research obsessing about food, it is delicious and very healthy.  I seem to be on an ethnic food cooking binge when I reflect on the last 10 recipes, must be because I love trying new things.  Next week The Portland Kitchen will be hosting a cook-off and I will be there to help, observe, and hopefully be a guest judge again!  If you just started reading my blog you should check out their website, they are an amazing local non-profit that I volunteer for.  Speaking of food check out this fantastic culinary reference tool showing the history of food and recipes.  It has a large amount of information and I could geek out on it forever!  This weekend we are headed to Eugene to hangout with my boyfriend's family and we have some fun plans mapped out, including seeing his family's cemetery.  I find it fascinating to see how far back a family's lineage goes all in one town.  My family seems to move around too much to have that much history in one place.  Onto the recipe, I served this over a bed of roasted broccoli.

Serves 3

The Ingredients

20-24 Button Mushrooms
1 large Onion, finely chopped
2 large Tomato, thinly sliced or chopped
½ tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste (grated ginger and pressed garlic)
2 tsp Sugar
½ tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Oil

For yogurt marinade:
1 cup whole fat plain yogurt
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tbsp Coriander Powder
½ tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Red Chilis
½ tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
Salt to taste

The Process
1.  First prepare the yogurt marinade by whisking the yogurt to remove any lumps. Add all the spice powders listed above in the list along with ginger-garlic paste and salt to taste. Keep it aside till needed.

2.  Clean the mushrooms and cut them in half or quarters depending on the size of mushrooms.

3.  Place all the chopped mushrooms in a large bowl and pour yogurt marinade to it. Gently mix them all using fingers so that every individual mushroom piece is coated with the marinade. Keep it aside covered with a cling film for 15-20 minutes for all the flavours to blend well.

4.  Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds to it. When cumin seeds start to sizzle and change colour, about 30 seconds, add finely chopped onions to it. Sauté the onion till it turn golden, about 3 minutes, on medium flame.

5.  Add ginger-garlic paste and sugar and fry them till the raw smell disappears, about 2 minutes.
Mix in thinly sliced tomatoes and cook them till they turn pulpy and release their juice, about 3 minutes.

6.  Add marinated mushrooms and fry them till they start to release their juice. Cover and let them cook for 5-10 minutes, mixing them in between, till they are cooked thoroughly.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Isan Beef Salad

What a long but lovely weekend I had, while I worked the whole time I did get in a lot of celebration time with friends and family.  And today is the last day of my HUGE work project and I am so happy, no more extra long hours!  Sunday night we had a family dinner to celebrate my younger brother's birthday and my dad made his famous bourbon beef chuck roast accompanied by my mom's amazing tomato cucumber salad and black jack margaritas.  For dessert my mom made the most delicious cake ever, honeycomb crunch chocolate was to die for.  Lately I've been listening to a lot of podcasts and am really excited to buy a bunch of heirloom tomatoes this year for my garden.  I plan on having six plants and hope to make sauces, stewed tomatoes, ketchup, tomato vinegar, etc.  I want all this so during the winter I can actually have delicious tomatoes to use for all my cooking, and yes I have formed a new obsession with tomatoes.  In other news did you hear that they are putting out a new season of X-Files?  This isn't new news but it is awesome because they are getting a fair amount of the same actors to come back including Skinner's character, I can't wait!  I adapted this recipe and made it with my friend Erin for a yummy dinner on a hot day.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 pinches of sugar
1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
1 beef tenderloin (about 10 ounces)
2 shallots, sliced finely lengthwise
1 green onion, sliced finely in rings
1/2 stalk of lemongrass, hard bottom end cut off; outer leaves removed, white part sliced very finely in rings (optional)
1 handful of mint leaves
1 tablespoon oil or bacon fat
Toasted rice, pound finely in mortar to powder
Green cabbage, torn

The Process
1.  First make the dressing by mixing the lime juice with fish sauce, sugar and garlic chili sauce. Balance well; this dressing should taste spicy, sour and salty.

2.  In a hot skillet with bacon fat (or oil) over medium-heat sear steak on one side for 3 minutes, turn over and sear for 3 more minutes.  This is with a 2inch steak and it will be rare.

3.  Cut beef in slices very thin. Don’t waste the meat juice, save as much as you can. Combine beef and juice with shallot, spring onion, lemongrass when using, and fresh herbs. Finish with dressing and toasted rice powder and toss together.  Serve over a bed of green cabbage.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Braised Celery

Every week I get more and more excited for our upcoming European adventure.  The other day I came across an interesting list of new restaurants to try in France.  I like the concept because everyone always writes about the older restaurants, and don't get me wrong I will definitely go to those but this article displays a refreshing concept.  In other foodie news I have been looking into some cooking classes to explore the world of foods I don't know as well, like breads, cheeses, ethnic cuisines, etc.  I found this great place (Portland's Culinary Workshop) that has all sorts of variety including a dumpling day where you make dumplings from around the world, yum!  On a completely different topic this Friday I am headed to the Portland Art Museum with my mom and aunt for what will hopefully be an awesome exhibit.  They exhibit is suppose to be a glamorous and comprehensive look at Italian fashion from the end of WWII to present day.  Onto the food, I adapted this recipe and paired it with the Lebanese Beef Kefta Kebab and it was delicious.

Serves 2

The Ingredients
8 stalks of celery, scrubbed and ends trimmed (chop and reserve leaves)
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup of vegetable stock

The Process
1.  Cut celery into 1-inch slices on the diagonal.

2.  Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery, along with salt and pepper and cook until it starts to become tender.

3.  Add broth, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes longer, allowing the broth to reduce caramelize a bit.

4.  Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, garnished with reserved chopped leaves

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lebanese Beef Kefta Kebab

I've decided to take on a new way of cooking, I am going to buy several things a week that I haven't cooked with or rarely cook with to start branching out and to stimulate my creativity.  It started with the braised celery you see in this picture, post will come tomorrow.  Our garden is coming along, I have plants green onions, Walla Walla onions, and dill.  Still need to do beets, kale, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and zucchini.  Thinking about growing leeks, cucumbers, kohlrabi and more.  And I love having mild weather here in the PNW because my parsley, chives, and mint are producing more than ever.  I love being able to walk out into my backyard and pick fresh mint and parsley for all the lovely Lebanese food I like to cook.  Speaking of the outdoors I really would love to become more of a forager, we have so many edibles that grow wild here in PNW that I want to be more resourceful and live off the land.  Speaking of, there is this awesome foraging camp here where you go on 4 day excursions into the wild and they teach you about the edible plants, looks so fun!  I adapted this recipe and it was super delicious.

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 lb. ground beef 
1 medium onion, chopped very fine
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves 
Spray oil

The Process
1.  Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, and leave for an hour or longer to allow the flavors to blend. 

2.  Heat oven to 350.  The kefta is then ready to shape and cook.  To make kebabs, take small amounts of kefta and shape them into cylinder or sausage shapes. Skewer the meat, squeezing it to mold it the skewer.

3.  Spray a cookie sheet with oil and place the kebabs on the pan.  Cook for a total of 20 minutes, flipping once 10 minutes through.  Enjoy!

Optional: I also made a yogurt dipping sauce by mixing 1/2 cup whole fat plain yogurt with 1 tablespoon chopped mint, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, a dash of onion powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Mix and serve with kebab.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet

April and May are the months of many many birthdays for me, in fact today is my friend Bethany's birthday and tomorrow is my little brother's birthday.  All these birthdays make for very active weekends.  Among celebrating and working all weekend I will be going to Purrington's Cat Cafe for the first time this weekend by request of Bethany, followed by an amazing Ethiopian meal cooked by her old neighbor.  This past weekend my boyfriend and I finally watched The Jinx, if you like real life crime stories this is an amazing HBO documentary series about a rich and corrupt man from New York.  In other completely unrelated news did you know that Multnomah County Library offers free English classes?  It is a wonderful resource for people in our community that have English as their second language, check out the classes here.  Onto the food, I was looking for a healthy way to make dinner and use up our head of cabbage, so I adapted this recipe and it was delicious!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 package (14oz) Kielbasa 
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 large sweet onion, cut into large pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard

The Process
1.  Heat olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high and add kielbasa. Cook, without stirring for 1 minute. Then stir occasionally for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

2.  In the same pan with some of the rendered kielbasa fat, add the cabbage, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.  Mix in the vinegar and mustard; add the sausage back to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes to heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

4.  If you want more flavor add a dash of rice vinegar and more mustard to your individual plate...I did:)  You can also serve this over mashed potatoes if you want a heartier meal.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Korean Beef and Mushrooms over a bed of Roasted Asparagus

This month I have a huge work project due by the 21st and I have been working on it non stop.  This week I will be working all weekend too, so if I don't cook and post you know why.  In other news my mother is now officially certified in Bowen technique and I was lucky enough to be the model for her test that was 1 1/2 days.  The work on my body felt so amazing but definitely exhausted me.  It is kind of like acupuncture where it relaxes you and releases lots of toxins from the body.  Last Thursday night when I adapted this recipe I was getting ready to go to my co-workers show at Mississippi Studios and they were great.  I have also come to realize that Mississippi Studios is one of my favorite PDX venues for concerts, it is little and intimate with a great atmosphere.  This dish was amazingly delicious and super easy to make, enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tablespoons sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup slice mushrooms
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 teaspoons crushed red pepper, to desired spiciness
1 teaspoon ground pepper
6 green onions, diced
1 bunch of asparagus, roasted

The Process

1.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger and mushrooms with garlic in the sesame oil.

2.  Drain fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper and ground pepper.

3.  Simmer for a few minutes to blend flavors.

4.  Serve over roasted asparagus with green onions on top.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Asparagus Onion Ring Salad

I have officially started my accounting class and it is already hard, hopefully once I get the fundamentals down it will become easier.  I have my homework and test due on Sunday so my scores will really prove to me how I am doing so's also weird being back in school again after 4 years.  Unfortunately I have to work tomorrow which is not the norm, but I am looking forward to spending the evening with my good friend Dana.  We are going to dinner at Fish Sauce and it is sooooo tasty!  Their bahn mi is really good but I am trying to stay away from gluten and I will definitely have to try their kimchi.  I will also add that their cocktails are super delicious, they use drinking vinegar in some of them which adds the perfect touch.  I have tried the Renegade and the Elephant Parade (my favorite).  I also got our sweet Walla Walla onion starts planted the other evening and it seems to have been perfect timing because we are having the crazy bi-polar Spring weather here in Portland, lots of rain and lots of sunshine.  I adapted these two recipes to come up with this delicious salad, and it was a very filling main course which is always a plus.  Enjoy!

Serves 2

The Ingredients
For Salad:
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons feta cheese
3 tablespoons bacon bits
4 tablespoons Champagne salad dressing (or whatever you prefer)

For Onion Rings:
1 medium to large sweet onion, sliced into 1/4" rings
2 eggs
4 Tablespoons half-n-half
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika (or enough to give color to the almond flour coating)
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Olive oil

The Process
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and brush lightly with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  In a small bowl, beat egg and half and half together; season with salt and pepper to taste; add onion rings to the egg mixture, toss and let sit to soak while you make the coating/breading.

2.  In a shallow bowl or plate, mix almond flour, salt and pepper to taste, onion powder, paprika and mix well with a whisk to remove any lumps.

3.  Take onion rings out, one or two at a time and place in the flour mixture, pressing and turning over with a fork until well coated on both sides.  Place on lightly oiled foil covered baking sheet in a single layer, not touching each other.

4.  On the same baking sheet place asparagus and drizzle with olive oil. Lightly toss to ensure that every piece is covered. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.

5.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, turning each halfway through.  Remove from oven.  Layer asparagus, feta, bacon bits, and tomatoes on a plate.  Drizzle salad dressing over asparagus salad.  Top with onion rings and serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Arabic Meatball Soup with Spinach and Lime

Even in the midst of this crazy busy work month I will make sure to still find time to cook and blog about it.  That said today has already been so chaotic I hope I can find some time to figure out what to make for dinner tonight.  Food is almost always on my mind, whether I'm reading about it, writing about it, researching it, watching it, or cooking it.  You could say that food is my passion or obsession and it is definitely my creative outlet.  This weekend will be a blast, lots of fun plans and it is Easter.  I love Easter because it means another family gathering with the people I love and lots of good food.  This year I am in charge of some sort of potato dish, we have a family recipe for this one potato dish that is so so good I might just make it, but I do want to do some research and maybe try something new.  This recipe that I adapted is delicious although I think it would have been better if I used some beef too.  Turkey just doesn't have much fat and I think the simple broth could have used some depth from meat that was just a little more fatty.  That being said this soup is super healthy and only about 315 calories per serving.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

Meatballs (makes 20- 24):
1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion- diced
4 garlic cloves- minced
⅓ C fresh mint leaves or 2 tsp dried
1  teaspoon ground turmeric
¾  teaspoon kosher salt
¾  teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

10 cups vegetable broth
1 small onion- finely diced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 lime
2-3 C finely shredded spinach
½ C chopped fresh cilantro
½ C chopped scallions
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

The Process
1. For the meat: in a food processor add the garlic onion and mint, and pulse until finely ground. Add ground meat, spices, salt and olive oil and process, scraping down sides several times, until all fully incorporated into a paste like consistency. Place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.

2.  For the broth: in a large heavy bottom pot, sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat, stirring until tender and translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Turn heat to medium low, add garlic and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric and pepper , sauté 2 more minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Salt to taste.

3.  Prep spinach, cilantro and scallions.

4.  Using wet hands, form walnut sized meatballs ( 1 to 1 ½  inches in diameter) and set aside on a platter. You should end up with 20 to 24 small meatballs.

5.  Bring broth back to a vigorous boil and gently drop meatballs into the pot,  a few at a time, stirring gently. Turn heat down so soup is simmering gently ( medium or medium low heat). Simmer for 12 minutes, stirring once or twice, and skimming any impurities that rise to the surface. Meatballs will start to rise when done. After 12 minutes, add the spinach and cook for 2 minutes ( a little longer for kale). Add ½ of the scallions and ½ the cilantro and squeeze the lime.

6.  Serve in bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and scallions. Enjoy!!