Monday, January 9, 2017

Fresh Ricotta Cheese, Homemade Crackers and a couple stories from the last 7 months

Wow has it been a long time since I have written a blog post.  My life has been all over the place with changes and I feel like I am just finally getting a breather since May.  This summer I had some good outdoor adventures including going on the annual Timothy lake trip with my family and my mom and I hiked the entire circumference of the lake, 13 miles.  Below is a picture of us at the end looking ever so proud.  My mother, aunt, and I had another successful pickle fest this summer and canned about 50 lbs. of pickles.  I went peach picking, ate at a lot of awesome new restaurants, grew a fair amount of tomatoes that I processed and made into sauce, and made Giardiniera for the first time.  I had another amazing time in New Orleans and finally got to eat some real po-boys, can't wait to go back in March!  Oh and I made silly video of the mentioned ricotta cheese and crackers.  I will definitely have a few more of these posts in order to catch up before I begin my real cooking posts again.  Hope you all had a fabulous summer and fall!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Stir-Fried Pork and Leeks

Last night was a blast at The Portland Kitchen's graduation dinner, I was so inspired and impressed by this cohort.  It was full of speeches, award giving, and tons of amazing food that the students cooked for us all.  They made a white bean & radish salad, a fresh herb potato salad, a roasted spring vegetable salad, and a whole roasted pig with a cherry chipotle bbq sauce and a Carolina mustard sauce (pictured below).  And let's not forget about dessert, we had strawberry shortcake with Hood River strawberries.  The food was phenomenal and I was so stuffed by the end.  As it is hard to watch all the students move on it is still exciting to know that they are applying their skills in life and have a new found love for healthy food.  Now we are welcoming in two summer cohorts and it sure will be a busy summer!  I adapted this dish several weeks back and while it doesn't look like anything special it is easy and delicious!  And in another attempt to cooking seasonally leeks are still in season but not for long!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons tamari
2 teaspoons Chinese chile-garlic sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound pork chop, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
Steamed white rice, for serving

The Process
1.  In a small bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the tamari, chile-garlic sauce and cornstarch. In another bowl, toss the pork with the sesame oil.

2.  In a large skillet, heat the canola oil until nearly smoking. Add the pork and stir-fry over high heat until lightly charred in spots, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the leeks and stir-fry until tender and lightly browned in spots, 5 to 6 minutes.

3.  Stir the sauce, add it to the pan and cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom, until thickened, about 1 minute longer. Serve right away with rice.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cumin and Honey Roasted Carrots, Ricotta, and Gremolata

I am constantly trying to be more sustainable in my life, not waste things, and support my local community.  In doing so I have learned a lot about food waste, buying locally, and cooking seasonally.  While I'm learning about it all I am trying to get better at applying it to my life.  I found this article that gives a really good visual representation of what you can seasonally cook with month to month, it is a great source to reference.  The Portland Kitchen has also started a project that teaches this, they are starting a pizza garden.  They recently got a plot of land from the city and they are weeding and preparing it right now to grow tomatoes, peppers, basil etc.  The summer cohort will help with all of this and in the end they will have a pizza party!  I also volunteered myself to help with the garden because gardening is one of my favorite things ever, it makes me feel so happy.  And speaking of cooking seasonally try this carrot recipe I adapted because carrots are in season now!

Serves 5

The Ingredients
For the carrots:
1 pound carrots (from 2 smallish bunches)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon fine sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
12 ounces good quality, whole milk ricotta
juice of 1/2 a lemon
finishing salt
black pepper

For the gremolata:
small handful mint leaves
small handful carrot greens
1 small garlic clove
zest of half a lemon

The Process
1.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF.

2.  Trim and scrub the carrots. Slice larger carrots in half lengthwise, and halve crosswise if longer than 6 inches. Place the carrots on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and honey, and sprinkle with the cumin, chile flakes, and salt. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the carrots are golden and collapsing in places and very tender, 20-30 minutes.

3.  Spread the ricotta in the bottom of a medium-sized baking vessel. Top with the roasted carrots and any good stuff that’s stuck to the pan. Bake until the ricotta is warmed through, 5-10 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, make the gremolata just before serving.  Place the herbs on a cutting board, and use a microplane (or the finest holes on a box grater) to grate the garlic clove and lemon zest over the herbs. Use a sharp chef’s knife to chop everything together.

5.  When the ricotta and carrots are done, remove from the oven and sprinkle with some of the gremolata (you may not need all of it), a good squeeze of lemon juice, a few pinches of flaky salt, and a grind or two of black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Roasted Broccolini, Kale, and Chickpea Salad with Ricotta

Well now we are half way through the week and that means we are that much closer to a 3 day weekend which always makes me very happy.  It is also my father's birthday this weekend so I will get to eat well and celebrate with my wonderful family...and maybe for the last time at my childhood home since it is going on the market soon.  Got any fun Memorial Day plans?  I usually stay in town because everyone goes out of town and I don't want to fight for the last camping spot anywhere or an overcrowded beach.  Since my fiance goes on a men's trip every year I am going to go hangout with one of my best friends and we are going to get some kayaking in and perhaps a nice hike, hopefully the weather cooperates here in PDX.  I am also really excited because tomorrow evening one of The Portland Kitchen cohorts graduates and I get to go and see how happy they are and how proud of them we all are!  Anyway on with the food, I adapted this recipe several weeks ago and I was delighted with how filling and amazing it was.  Such a nice change of pace to have a meatless meal once in a while.  Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 bunch broccolini, or broccoli, cut into long florets
1 bunch Tuscan or Lacinato kale, stemmed (if large) and torn
1½ cups cooked chickpeas canned, drained
2 clove garlic, thinly sliced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1 lemon, cut into wedges
8 oz fresh ricotta cheese

The Process
1.  Preheat the broiler to high. Toss the broccolini, kale, chickpeas, and garlic with the olive oil. Season lightly with sea salt, pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes and divide between two rimmed baking sheets.

2.  Broil each sheet, tossing halfway through cooking, until the kale is crispy and the broccoli just tender and charred but still bright green, about 5 minutes, rotating the trays top to bottom if two don’t fit side by side in your oven. Squeeze the juice from two lemon wedges all over the top and toss together.

3.  Divide between two to four small plates and top each with a dollop of ricotta. Sprinkle the ricotta with black pepper and drizzle each plate with oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Petite Sirloin with Asparagus, Spring Onions, and Preserved Lemon Relish

Today is the day after election day and I am very proud that Bernie Sanders won Oregon, at least we are representing the nation well over here in the PNW!  Last weekend was lots of fun with my friend's birthday BBQ on Friday and my African dance class on Saturday.  The class was so awesome and intense that I was sore for a full 3 days after, but it also felt great!  I've been feeling pretty strong lately and can't wait for more sunshine so I can get out and hike more, the woods make me feel complete and calm and I can't get enough of them!  Have you heard of the campaign Feeding the 5000?  If not check it out, it is an amazing movement.  What they do is take food waste from all over the city they are in and use it to feed 5,000 people lunch for free.  It teaches people about how much food we waste and brings awareness to the issue.  They just had one in New York and in D.C. let's make one to happen here in PDX!  I adapted this recipe last night and now I am in love with roasted spring onions!  I hadn't ever had them like that and they are so sweet and amazing!

Serves 2

The Ingredients
2 petite sirloins, about one lb. each, patted dry with paper towels
Coarse sea salt
1 ½ lbs asparagus, ends chopped off
6-8 thin spring onions, sliced lengthwise in half
Extra virgin olive oil

Preserved Lemon Relish:
2 preserved lemons, finely chopped
4 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon chile flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste

The Process
1.  Chop up everything for relish and mix together.

2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and drizzle olive oil over asparagus and roast in oven for 9 minutes.  Then add spring onions and roast for 6 more minutes.

3.  In the meantime salt and pepper the steaks. Then pan sear the steaks in some butter over medium high heat. Sear 3-4 minutes each side for a rare steak.

4.  When steak is done let rest for five minutes, and slice thinly.  Put a bed of asparagus and spring onions on plate with some meat on top and then top with the relish.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Ginger-Chicken Meatballs with Chinese Broccoli

So happy that tomorrow is Friday because this week has felt pretty darn long.  This weekend I am hoping to get some real downtime so I work on things at home, plant some more herbs I got, and maybe even take a nice stroll around the neighborhood.  On Saturday I have a 2 hour African dance class that I am pretty excited for and it will even have live drummers!  In other news The Portland Kitchen is having an event called Rooftop Grill-Off. You get to watch as students from The Portland Kitchen pair with local chef "mentors" and compete to provide our panel of "celebrity judges" - including Chef Bonnie Molares of the deliciously amazing Kachka restaurant; NickyUSA, the Northwest’s leading butcher and producer of the highest quality game and mainstream meats; and CEO of NW Priority Credit Union in Portland, Mark Turnham - the most scrumptious gourmet burgers based upon taste, presentation and creativity.  I am looking forward to this because not only will it be fun but all the ticket sales go to The Portland Kitchen. (Below is a banner with all the detail).  Anyway onto food, my friends and I adapted this delicious recipe several weeks ago and had ourselves a feast!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
2 garlic clove, finely grated
1 lb ground chicken
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 teaspoons finely grated ginger
6 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 bunch Chinese broccoli, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

The Process
1.  Using your hands or a rubber spatula, gently mix garlic, chicken, soy sauce, ginger, 6 scallions, almond flour, and 1/2 cup broth in a medium bowl just to combine. Scooping out by the tablespoonful, form mixture into 1”-diameter meatballs.

2.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3.  Combine broccoli and red pepper flakes in same skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat until broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add meatballs and remaining 2 1/2 cups broth. Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and broccoli is tender, 5–8 minutes. Serve sprinkled with more scallions.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Harissa

Recently I had the fabulous opportunity to go to the restaurant Imperial and it was super amazing!  Between my fiance and I we got SRF wagyu flat iron, fried chicken, ember roasted potatoes, the meat plate, and the grilled caesar salad...yes we were stuffed by the end.  (Food pictured below.)  The flat iron was cooked rare which I prefer and it was so buttery and tender and amazing. The ember roasted potatoes had so much flavor with very simple and delightful ingredients. The fried chicken (the chef's special) was crunchy, tender, and moist all at the same time. The meat plate was fun but nothing to write home about. And the grilled caesar was so so delicious I couldn't get enough!  I can't wait to go back and try other amazing foods on their menu, and yes you should definitely go and eat at this restaurant.  Last night one of my best friends came over and I adapted this super delicious recipe for us.  It is a great summertime meal, light but still filling. Enjoy!

Serves 4

The Ingredients
1 head cauliflower, separated into bite-sized florets
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 small red onion, finely sliced
3 tablespoons harissa (mild)
1 tablespoon garlic chili paste
½ bunch each Italian parsley and cilantro
1 lemon
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

The Process
1.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spread the cauliflower out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil, ½ teaspoon salt and the cumin seeds. Roast 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and golden. Add the chickpeas and roast an additional 10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon oil in an 8 – 10-inch sauté pan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the onions are very soft. Stir in the harissa and garlic chili paste along with 1 tablespoon water.

3.  Pick the leaves off the parsley and cilantro and tear into rough pieces; throw them over the chickpeas. Squeeze the lemon over and toss together with the onion mixture.  Then add the feta, toss and serve.