Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Addy's Sandwich Bar, Ziba's Pitas & SomTum Gai Yang

I really cannot rave enough about the Portland street carts. Whenever I am in the greater Portland area, I eat as many meals as possible from a mobile food cart and let me tell you there are never enough meals. There are so many options, I have yet to have a less than exceptional meal, or a meal over 7 dollars. Portland has a rumored over 400 hundred street carts. There are four large "pods" where carts are grouped in parking lots around the city (with another one being formed in the St. Johns area). On this last trip to Portland, I had lunch in the pod located downtown around SW 10th and Alder, near both Powell's and PSU.


I like one journalist's description of Portland street carts as a mini United Nations. The SW 10th and Alder pod is comprised of over 25 carts that wrap around the edges of the city blocks. This is a very global pod. Thai, Greek, Bosnian, Japanese, Chinese and Peruvian are lined up among sandwich buffets, a coffee cart, a grilled cheese and soup stand and more. As you can see, there are not enough meals in one day to try them all, but I will keep trying to find as many excuses as I can for second lunch, and early dinner.

I ordered a country pate sandwich with mustard and homemade cornichons from Addy's Sandwich Bar. I really like that all the website provides detailed information on food sourcing. I wasn't to impressed with the texture of the pate but I loved the cornichons and the mustard.

My Dad ordered this amazing spread from Ziba's Pitas. This is no bland pita, nothing that resembles cardboard here. This Bosnian fare is flavorful and complex. The red sauce is made of red peppers and eggplant.

For dessert we split a mango sticky rice from SomTum Gai Yang. This was just sweet enough to round out our meal. I hope to try the SomTum Gai Yang specialty dish soon. With the same name as the cart, SomTum Gai Yang is a green papaya salad.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Grilled Potato Salad


Sometimes a recipe will just fall into your lap. On a sporadic visit to see my parents this weekend this one fell into mine. Not only was there an open container of anchovies in the fridge, the exact tablespoon of capers left in the jar, and the presence of a barbecue, there was a copy of Sunset magazine on the table containing this creative twist on a potato salad. It was fate. As a beautiful mid-70s day came to an end, I enjoyed a grilled feast in the backyard with my parents.


I followed this recipe pretty loosely. Like any salad, take the directions as more of guidelines. This one has an Italian flair with puttanesca inspired ingredients. I used what we had. More anchovies, parsley and capers. I used a mixture of spicy brown and stone ground mustard. I found that a giant bowl was necessary for the final mixing, this is a large salad. Feel free to mess around with it and let me know what you discover.


Grilled Potato Salad adapted from Sunset magazine

Serves 8. 45 minutes.

6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely shopped capers
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 teaspoons minced oil-packed anchovies
1/2 cup pitted oil-cured or kalamata olives
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 -1 cup flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat grill to medium (350 to 450 degrees fahrenheit). Toss potatoes in 1 tablespoon oil; grill flat side down until marks appear, 8 minutes. Turn over the potatoes, moving to indirect area. Cook until tender, 10 minutes. Let cool, then cut into chunks.
2. Whisk the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, mustard, vinegar, oregano, capers, chile flakes, and anchovies in a large bowl. Gently mix with remaining ingredients.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Granola

My Dad is a granola man. He has a bowl of granola and a cup of coffee every morning. There is of course, the occasional exception of an airport breakfast, or a morning at the local bagel deli, but these are rare. I learned early in life to never drain the milk without replacing it. It would not be a happy morning if the granola flow was interrupted.

From my experience granola come from the bulk bins at the local grocery store. I had heard about homemade granola, but I had also heard horror stories about homemade granola. Whole sheet of pans turning into a blackened mess in minutes. I was highly intimidated until I read this article by Molly Wizenberg in the June 2010 issue of Bon Appétit magazine. Molly pulls through again. This recipe could not be more simple, delicious, or flexible. There are infinite possibilities to keep an interesting bowl of granola on your table every morning.

Everyday Granola adapted from Molly Wizenberg in Bon Appétit

Makes about 5 cups

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (Molly loves pecans, I used hazelnuts)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup assorted dried fruit

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Stir honey and oil in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth.
4. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture; toss well.
5. Spread mixture onto a prepared sheet.
6. Bake until golden, stirring every 10 minutes, about 40 minutes.
7. Place sheet on rack. Stir granola; cool. Mix in fruit.

Store in an airtight container. Can be made 1 week ahead.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Anthony Bourdain

This week I went to a book tour event, what I ended up getting was a comedy show. Anthony Bourdain is absolutely hilarious. Maybe offensive and vulgar, but absolutely hilarious. He was promoting his new book Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook in Seattle. He recited many of the same stories told him his book and I, as well as the entire, sold out, Moore theater could not stop laughing. If you want a unique and brutally honest take on the food world, pick up this book. Nobody is spared, expect surprisingly Rachel Ray. Apparently fruit baskets work miracles. Be prepared for some interesting takes on Alice Waters, hamburgers, Pollen & Schlosser, travel adventures, food porn and ways to keep kids off McDonalds.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Root Beer Baked Beans

While soda is a beverage I tend to avoid due to the horrendous effect it has on my teeth. However, I love when foods are used in peculiar ways. I have only ever used root beer as an ingredient in root beer floats, but I recently saw root beer used in cupcakes and most recently in this baked bean recipe. One bottle of root beer was the perfect amount needed for this recipe and it came together in no time.


Paired with cornbread I had a rustic out-on-the-range meal on my hands. I am sure the cowboys did not flavor their beans with root beer but I bet if they could, they would have. The root beer adds just enough sweetness and extra flavor to this pot of baked beans.

Root Beer Baked Beans adapted from Bon Appetit

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 15-ounce cans of white beans. (cannellini or great northern beans)
1 1/2 cups root beer
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons mild-flavored (light molasses)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pot, add onions. Cook until beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes.
3. Add garlic, stir 1 minute.
4. Add beans, root beer, vinegar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, chili powder, salt and pepper. Mix. Bring to a boil.
5. Transfer to oven and bake uncovered until liquid thickens, about 30 minutes.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Graham Crackers

The beauty of a potluck is sheer diversity. You never know what might show up, it is a surprise, everyone item is unique. The potluck barbecue I attended this weekend had to be one of the most diverse and epic potlucks I have ever attended. It was complete with hamburgers, hot dogs, veggie corn dogs, veggie burgers, beautiful vegetable skewers, a steak skewer, corn on the cob, grapes, pizza, a mountain of chips, hummus, salsas, two birthday cakes as well as two apple pies (in a which-pie-is-better? competition) and my favorite of all campfire foods: smores.


The status of smores at this particular barbecue were also elevated to extreme standards. I contributed homemade graham crackers, extra large marshmallows and nutella spread. I cannot recall where I read about the nutella smores trick, and I wish I could so I could thank them properly. Spreading your chocolate on ensure a totally gooey, all the way melted, delicious mess. No hard piece of chocolate in the middle of the sandwich, a consistent layer of goo. Plus, the hazelnut component of the nutella adds a new flavor profile to the classic. Another attendee contributed reeses peanut butter cups, another new take on the smore.

I will admit, I was too intimidated by the idea of making my own marshmallows, so I settled on making my own graham crackers. I love the idea being able to control what goes into these crackers, for example: no preservatives. This recipe also produces a cracker with much more flavor and texture. They are also a bit softer, making those smores hold together longer. While the roll out process may seem tedious, don't let it stop you from trying this recipe. My graham crackers were very nonuniform and everyone still loved them. If you are looking to impress this summer, show up to your next campfire with a tub of these.

Graham Crackers adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted from 101 Cookbooks who originally got the recipe from Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery.

Makes 10 4 x 4.5-inch graham crackers or 48 2-inch squares

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Optional Topping (I did not make the topping, but I am sure it would be delicious)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

[If you don't have a food processor or electric mixer, you can cut the ingredients together with a pastry blender. Just make sure they're very well incorporated. I used a pastry cutter and it worked out fine.]

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.

4. Roll out the crackers: Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers.

5. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.

[It was getting late so I skipped this stage of chilling the rolled out crackers. I did not notice any obvious adverse effect]

6. Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F.

7. Decorate the crackers: (Optional) Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough (again, this is for the traditional cracker shape). Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

8. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Check frequently, mine were done around 15 minutes, they burn quickly.


Blueberry Cornbread

Opposites to attract. This recipe for example, cornmeal and blueberries. Not the perfect match. One is average, standard while the other is bursting with sweet flavor. I would never think to put them together, but I am glad I took some classic Moosewood advice.

Blueberry cornbread is wonderful. The cornbread is flavorful, moist and not to sweet but the blueberries make it almost like a dessert. An summer dessert perfect for eating outside under the shade of a great tree with the sun streaming though.


Blueberry Cornbread adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

note: To use this recipe for plain cornbread, do not use blueberries and decrease sugar to 3 tbs.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk or yogurt (I used kefir)
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar or honey
3 tsp melted butter
1 1/2 fresh or frozen blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-inch square pan with butter.
2. Combine the dry ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients (including sugar or honey) in a separate bowl. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, mixing just enough to combine. Spread into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the center is firm to the touch.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Marination Mobile

I grew up just north of Portland, Oregon and one of my favorite parts about the City of Roses is the street cart culture. Seattle is just a few city ordinance laws behind allowing the street cart business to truly bloom. Many amazing carts do exist in Seattle but in a we-move-to-a-new-location-everyday-good-luck-finding-us kind of way, not permanent like the thriving blocks of all night carts you can find in Portland. But when you can track down a cart in Seattle, the effort is well worth it.


One of Seattle's most popular carts has been on the must try list for quite a while. With the much celebrated one year anniversary promising free dessert, I knew it was time to spend the middle of my day tracking down the Korean-Hawaiian fusion that is the Marination Mobile. I ordered a sweet and savory kalbi beef taco, a tofu taco and an aloha slider stuffed with kalua pulled pork.


The sauces are truly sensational here. I wish they would bottle them up and sell them. The flavor combination are unique but have a heavy comfort food vibe. The meat is marinated to perfection and the slaw adds a surprisingly flavorful crispness to everything. I can't wait to track this truck down again to try the miso chicken taco, kimchi quesadilla and more.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Banana Bread Muffins

A mind is not the only terrible thing to waste. High on my list of terrible things to waste are sunny days, mornings, opportunities and of course fruits and vegetables. Bananas are one fruit in particular which I despise the loss of. Even when they look as gnarly as the ones laying around my house, they can still be turned into a delicious treat. The most obvious being banana bread.


A few weeks ago I picked up a cook book at an estate sale and I have been on the edge of my seat waiting to try a recipe out of it. This particular book was published in 1954, and it just oozes with fascinating tidbits from the time period. It comes complete with menus for cocktail parties, company dinners, afternoon tea and to accompany the grilled dinners section: instructions on how to build a camp fire. The first page of the book is inscribed with: The Way to a Man's Heart. I kid you not. So banana bread it is, New Settlement Cook Book, let's see how your man catching recipe turns out.

I was surprisingly infatuated with this recipe. I though that time must have surely improved this recipe, or at least I would miss a touch of cinnamon, but theses were absolutely delightful. A nice crust was formed around the muffin creating a nice subtle crunch to counter to delicate insides which were fabulously moist and bananalicious.

Banana Bread Muffins adapted from The New Settlement Cook Book (1954)

3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking power
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk or yogurt
2 eggs

1. Sift flour, baking power, baking soda and salt.
2. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, milk and mashed bananas. Mix well.
3. Mix flour mixture and banana mixture.
4. When well blended pour into muffin tins filling about half way up the cup.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. (If using a loaf pan, bake for 1hr)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend Finds

University Farmers Market
I couldn't resist asking more about the 'nice butt' at Sea Breeze Farm.

Around the Corner From my House
A guerrilla fruit stand appeared on the corner this Saturday. I was slightly disappointed with the high prices and adequate quality of imported produce but impressed by the entrepreneurship.

Near Pike and 10th on Capitol Hill
A new late night snack has appeared on the hill. It was only their second night in business, real cotija cheese was on hand. I hope they stick around.

Great late night happy hour and local beer. We had quesadillas with chevre, smoked salmon and capers for $3 and sweet potato fries for $2.

Pancakes

After spending a good hour absorbing the ingenious of Jim's Pancakes, I couldn't resist the urge to eat some pancakes of my own. I have been holding on a copy of Delicious magazine for a few months now. It is a British magazine and their pancakes highly resemble what I think of as crepes.


The article featured both a savory pancake recipe along with Apple Calvados pancakes. I took the apple inspiration. I don't own calvados, nor did I feel like converting and/or weighing the ingredients for the apples so I just sauteed some apples with butter, sugar and a splash of triple sec and let them caramelize. The result was a divine breakfast.


Pancakes
Recipe adapted from Delicious

230g plain flour (about 1.5 cups)
2 medium eggs
340ml milk (about 1.5 cups)
2tbls melted butter

1. Sift the flour with a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix the eggs, milk and 100ml (a little under half a cup) of water into the flour with a wooden spoon until smooth.
3. Wisk together to insure there are no clumps. Let rest for at least a half an hour.
4. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, grease lightly with butter.
5. Pour a little less than a half a cup of batter into the hot pan and rotate so that the bottom of the pan is equally coated.
6. When the pancake is set and starting to brown flip it over and cook for 30 seconds more.
7. Repeat to make about 12 pancakes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pike Street Fish Fry

Asparagus, zucchini, red bell peppers. Deep fried. Best greasy food ever. While the calamari and the catfish fish and chips were very good, the vegetables steal the show at Pike Street Fish Fry. Dip them in the plethora of dipping sauces and you have an extremely satisfying way to eat more vegetables with a cold beer. My favorite sauce was the lemon aioli, while the curious harissa came in second.


The decor resembled a hipster sailboat galley, there was a nice sprinkle of kosher salt on everything and I love eating off of newsprint. The variety of options is surprisingly extensive considering the small size of the venue. While there are vegan options, sandwiches, and the option to grill almost anything, I think this original order will be hard to beat.


Pike Street Fish Fry on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quiche

I hope to share many structured recipes through this blogging experience so that you can recreate and improve upon the meals that come out of my kitchen. However, I also hope to inspire the ability to not follow a recipe. This is a skill my mother taught me at a young age, mostly because she was tired of me leaving a single carrot in the fridge or a slice of lemon on the counter to shrivel beyond recognition. She would insistently "encourage" me to just use everything up. I have generally adapted this strategy, especially in very flexible meals such as quiche.


Quiche is an extremely flexible recipe in my opinion that does not need a lot of structure. It is also a great way to use up all of those leftover scraps if you did follow recipes to a T all week and have a random assortment of veggies laying around. We through in four eggs, a slash of milk, a tomato, some diced onion, slivered green onion, fresh rosemary, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, nutmeg, chives, parsley, salt and pepper. We dotted the top with fromage blanc. We baked it at 400 degrees until the middle was set.


The pie crust did come from a recipe, this does need a bit more structure. A friend made the crust from a Betty Crocker cookbook. Thankfully we used butter instead of the recommended shortening. I cannot understand for the life of my why shortening would ever be an acceptable replacement to butter. Sorry to all you vegans out there, butter is just too good to replace. We rolled out the extra crust, cut it into circles and baked it in muffin tins to form tartlet cups. I love theses cups because you could fill them with absolutely anything. We filled them with plain kefir, rhubarb syrup, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of nutmeg.


Without the structure of a detailed recipe it will be nearly impossible to exactly replicate this phenomenal breakfast, but the possibilities are infinite for similar ones. Experimenting with flexible recipes is rewarding cooking. There is minimal pressure, there is no way to really mess it up. The goal is never the same and you always get something delicious as a reward.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Reading List

With the arrival of summer, I have begun my reading list. Well we should really define summer, summer has arrived in the sense that school has concluded for the next three months. The weather is still dreary, as the Pacific Northwest lags in the realization that summer should arrive in June, not the middle of July. However, the freedom does inspire one to rediscover reading for pleasure. This summer I hope to complete most of the following:

My Life in France- Julia Child
Botany of Desire- Michael Pollan
One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel García Márquez
Me Talk Pretty One Day- David Sedaris
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry- Kathleen Flinn
The Sweet Life in Paris- David Lebovitz

Red Mill Burgers

While I have wrestled with myself about how I feel about my degree of meat consumption I have comfortably settled on less-meatatarian for the moment. I rarely eat meat and when I do, I try to buy from local, sustainable, grass-fed, cage-free suppliers whenever possible. But sometimes a girl just needs a burger. So this week after a long day of attempting to retain a quarter's worth of international theory concepts, I ventured to Seattle's famed Red Mill Burgers.


My favorite people to eat with are people who like to share. It always makes me heavyhearted when I go to a new place and there are so many delectable things on the menu but you only get to try one. There is simply not enough time in this life to order every item, from every menu. So in an attempt to remedy this problem, I share. In order to maximize this Red Mill experience we split a Red Onion Jam Burger, a Blue Cheese n' Bacon Burger, onion rings and a cherry milkshake. The Red Mill reputation exceeded its self. I could not have been more satisfied after this old-school diner smorgasbord.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sunday is for Studying




With finals rapidly approaching early this week, it is officially time to hunker down with some books and a mountain of flashcards. With that said, there is no reason that the books cannot be accompanied by fresh coffee, a poached apple croissant, a stroll through the farmer's market and good conversation.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spring Literature

I just finished reading both Molly Wizenberg's, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table and Tara Austen Weaver's, The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis. They are both lovely reads, that I cannot help quoting in daily conversation.

Molly Wizenberg is now responsible for making me fall in love with good butter, radishes, France and even more so with Seattle.

My love for this book was solidified with the section on the Skagit River Ranch, I have been swooning about their eggs all week. Hands down, the best eggs you will ever have.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Stroll

Saturday morning strolls around Seattle are exponentially enjoyable. I found an armful of new awesome stuff to decorate (or clutter?) my house. My mother taught me never to pass by a garage sale without at least driving by to see if anything looks interesting. One person's garbage can truly be my next treasure.


At my regular Saturday morning stop, the University District Farmer's Market, I had a German pretzel for breakfast. It was dense and chewy, delicious with some sample apricot jam.


Taking inspiration from Molly Wizenberg I baked some rhubarb I had laying around with some sugar, white wine and triple sec at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. It is a phenomenal, the rhubarb holds its shapes but melts away in your mouth. The wine and the light of the orange flavor of the triple sec are bright and flavorful. If you have more patience than I, let the sauce reduce for a few minutes before serving.


Inspiration

While walking around Seattle this morning I decided that I should share my adventures, foodie or not. I hope that this blog will give me an outlet through which to share food, recipes, restaurants, books, pictures, thoughts and adventures.

Bon appetit!