Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eugene Saturday Market: Pre-Season

Last week, I left Portland and headed south to explore the northern California coastline. We toured Mendocino County, Humboldt County, the towering redwoods and more in surprisingly horrible weather. On the way home we stopped at the Eugene Saturday Market. I am extremely proud to say that out of the four times I have been to Eugene, I have explored this famous market three times. In the summer, it is one of the most eclectic, bustling and delicious markets I have ever been to. The market goes into full swing in April, so while we were a few weeks too early we still got to buy some beautiful products from the hardcore winter season vendors.
Green garlic was in season, there were bags of foraged stinging nettles, beautiful breakfast radishes, leeks, hearty winter greens and fresh herbs were plentiful at the Groundwork Organics tables. There were walnuts, hazelnuts, dried figs and dried fruit roll ups diversified the options and two vendors tempted my sweet tooth with their unique pastries and tasty granola. The Camas Country Mill had a surprisingly large variety of dried beans and lentils, as well as wheat berries, teff and buckwheat. I can't wait until I can make it back to Eugene on a Saturday because I still regret not trying the Field to Table breakfast scramble with free-range eggs, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, arugula raab with a fresh baked bagel shmeared with pork butter and peach jelly. So bottom line, if you are even in Eugene, or even driving through, make sure it is on a Saturday and taste your way through the phenomenal Eugene Saturday Market.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Potato Champion

This is by far one of my favorite street carts in Portland, half because of the perfect Belgian-style pomme frites and phenomenal sauces (think rosemary truffle ketchup, tarragon anchovy mayo, tzatziki party sauce, etc.) and half because of the atmosphere. The Potato Champion is housed in the popular late-night street cart pod on 12th and Hawthorne in SE Portland. I tried Canadian poutine for the very first time from the Potato Champion late one summer night. I was sitting at the picnic tables, under the circus-style lights when the neighboring group of dinners offered me one of his poutine fries, he said it was a travesty that I had never tried it and to this day, many poutines later, it is still my favorite. Their poutine is made with a spectacular brown (beef or veggie) gravy and white cheddar cheese curds. I order it just about every time I am at the Potato Champion. Which is almost a shame because I have long been meaning to try the PB & J fries, which are topped with peanut satay sauce and raspberry chipotle jelly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tangy Spiced Pulled Pork

I love ordering juicy, flavorful pulled pork sandwiches when I eat out. While I am a strong believer that everything can be made better at home, I have been hesitant to tackle the project. But I rallied the help of my stand-in-sous-chef-roommate and we purchased an eight pound pork shoulder and borrowed a slow cooker from my brother. We filled the house with the mouthwatering smells of onions, garlic and aromatics. First thing in the morning I transferred the tender pork to a casserole dish a left it in the fridge until I got home to prep and reheat the pork. We made a coleslaw and toasted buns while the pork bubbled away in the oven. These sandwiches we a big hit, we filled the house with people and let everyone eat their fill. Everyone loved the pulled pork. It satisfied all of the picky eaters in my house, except for obvious reasons, the vegetarians. Somehow we managed to eat all eight pounds of pulled pork that night, if you have leftovers don't worry, they only get more flavorful with time.

* Sorry for the lack of more pictures. I could not find anyway to make a casserole dish full of pulled pork photogenic.

Tangy Spiced Pulled Pork adapted from Deb's Tangy Spiced Brisket who overhauled an Emeril Lagasse recipe

This recipe has made many transformations, Deb overhauled the seasoning, I changed the type and style of meat. This pulled pork can be make either in an oven or in a slow cooker. Deb highly recommends the slow cooker, I used her method and it turned out great. Use the largest slow cooker you can find, we used a smaller one and everything fit but we did have some spillage throughout the cooking time. Either way, the pork turns out the best if you cook it, let it rest for at least 3 to 4 hours in the fridge before reheating to serve.

Makes at least 9 sandwiches

3 large onions, sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (adjust to your heat preference)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup beef stock (unsalted or low salt)
1 1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chili sauce or sweet chili sauce
1 cup brown sugar
8 to 10 pound pork shoulder

1. Prepare the sauce: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and saute onions in vegetable oil, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 3 more minutes. Stir in the spices and seasoning (paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne, oregano and thyme) and cook for 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the beef stock, ketchup, chili sauce and brown sugar.

2. Prepare the pork shoulder. Remove any excess pieces of fat from the meat.

3. If baking in the oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Place the pork shoulder in a baking or casserole dish. Spread the onion mixture over the top, then pour the sauce mixture over the entire dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake until very tender, about 3 to 4 hours.

4. If making in a slow cooker (highly recommended): Place the pork shoulder in a slow cooker, cut into pieces if necessary. Spread onion mixture over the top, then pour sauce mixture over the entire dish. Cover with the lid and cook it on LOW for 10 hours. (For effective timing: start the pork before you go to bed, process it and put it in the fridge in the morning so that it can rest all day in the fridge.)

5. For both methods, rest the dish. When the pork shoulder is still hot, use a spoon to scrape off any large fat deposits adhered to the shoulder.

6. If you are using a slow cooker, transfer the pork shoulder and all of its sauce to a baking dish. (large tongs are helpful here.) If you've baked it in the oven, you can continue in that same dish.

7. Chill the entire dish in the fridge for several hours and up to one day; this resting time will significantly enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.

8. An hour before you're ready to serve: Preheat your oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit, and remove the dish from the fridge. Remove all of the fat that has solidified with a slotted spoon for a less oily finish.

Shred the large chunks of pork shoulder. Use large tongs to move the meat into a new casserole dish, use a fork to shred the meat into bite sized shreds.

If you would like a smoother sauce, run it through a blender. Or literally smash up the onion and garlic strands with a wooden spoon. They will be so soft, that is all it takes.

Ladle just enough sauce over the meat to coat it evenly. Give it a good stir to make sure all of the meat is liberally coated in sauce. Cover the dish tightly with foil and reheat in the oven until it is bubbling at the edges- this usually takes about 30 minutes.

*I served the pulled pork on some nice pub rolls with a coleslaw made from shredded cabbage and carrots. The dressing for the slaw was equal parts lemon juice, buttermilk and plain yogurt a a few tablespoons of poppy seeds and a dash of salt and pepper.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vancouver, WA: Farmers Market Season Opening

I am taking full advantage of my last spring break from the University of Washington. I am taking off on a southbound road trip, starting with a nice long stay at my parent's house in Vancouver, Washington just north of the foodie filled mecca of Portland, Oregon. While Vancouver is ofter overshadowed by Portland, there is still many a treasure just north of the Columbia River in Vancouver. This weekend was the seasonal opening of the downtown Vancouver Farmers Market. This is the farmers market of my childhood and still one of my favorites.
The market was bustling with early spring shoppers. There were buckets of apples and root vegetables, followed by trays and trays of spring starts just waiting for the ground to dry out a bit more. Portland, as always, makes their presence, today in the form of some excellent dry cured salami. Music, food vendors, local honey, bee pollen, jewelry, music and more. The Vancouver Farmers Market is a more casual experience than the Seattle markets, there is more space, less rush, lower prices, extremely local goods (one perk of not being such a large metropolitan area), even a large park to stroll through after shopping. But it doesn't lack the charismatic vendors and great food you can find in Seattle. It is always worth a visit, I try to swing by every time I am back in the "couve".

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Apricot-Almond Bread

I have an unusually conflicting relationship with dried fruit. I love it because it is ridiculously convenient healthy, tasty snack and it is possible to eat delicious summer fruits like cherries, plums, figs and apricots. However, when I eat a handful of these delectable dried fruits, I simply feel like I am grinding sticky sugar into my cavity-prone teeth. But I have discovered recently the amazing transformation that can be made when dried fruits are soaked in hot water. They rehydrate and become reconstituted to a fruit much more similar to the fresh version. This bread takes dried apricots and turns them into juicy, fragrant apricot slices than contribute to a flavorful, moist, summery quick-bread. The almonds add texture and a subtle nutty flavor. This bread tastes like summer, but can be made year-round after a quick trip to the bulk goods section of your grocery store.
Apricot-Almond Bread adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook

40 minutes to prepare, 1 hour to bake
Yield: 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups of thinly sliced dried apricots
1 1/2 cups of water
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons butter, at room temperature. Plus more for greasing the pan.
1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to one teaspoon orange zest, from about one orange
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup sliced almonds for topping (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and grease a loaf pan.
2. Place the apricots and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer apricots to a medium sized mixing bowl and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
3. Throughly mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
4. Stir the butter, egg, vanilla and honey or maple syrup in with the apricots.
5. Add the dry ingredients, orange rind and almonds into the apricot mixture. Mix just until incorporated.
6. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake for about an hour until the top is lightly browned and a skewer comes out clean from the center of the loaf. After removing from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes. The loaf should easily slide out of the pan, if it doesn't rap the pan on the counter a few times. Cool at least another 15 minutes before trying to slice it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

UW Farm: Tour de Goats

This last weekend, amidst the rain, the wind and the lingering chill of winter the UW Farm explored the streets of Seattle on the first UW Farm Tour de Urban Goats. UW farmer and Green Team leader Rachel Stubbs met some urban goat farmers while volunteering in a local elementary school and she arranged for UW farmers to visit their goats and learn all about raising goats in a city. We made three stops: one in Wallingford, one in Northgate and one in Sandpoint. I was throughly surprised that many Seattle citizens raise goats in their backyards and how easy they made it seem. City regulations in Seattle, allow for up to 3 small animals per lot, this includes dogs, cats, rabbits, potbelly pigs and goats! (Up to 8 chickens are also allowed!) The goats must be of a small variety, must have their horns removed and male goats have to be neutered.
We learned that owning goats is not all that different from owning dogs, one urban goat farmer even mentioned that she enjoyed her goats more than her dog. The goats we met were surprisingly affectionate, they don't need as much attention as dogs and while they might require more maintenance, they reward you with fresh goat milk. A single goat can provide 1/2- 3/4th of a gallon of milk a day. The owners we met turn a lot of their milk into soft goat cheese or yogurt. The urban goat farmers we met could not hide their enthusiasm for their hobby. They loved raising their goats and it was astonishing how much food they could produce in a little patch of land. Many of them also had chickens, depending on how big their households are they could supply the majority of their dairy products from their own backyards. If you are interested in raising your own goats Seattle Tilth's Goat 101 class would be a great place to start.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Delancey

Quality people and quality food make Delancey a real Seattle treasure. Delancey is owned and managed by acclaimed food writer Molly Wizenberg and her food loving husband Brandon Pettit. I am not even going to lie, I was drawn to Delancey because of my infatuation with Molly's work. Her writing, her stories and her recipes have been inspiration of mine for over a year. So I might have come because of her but I will come back again, and again, for the food. I love Italian food because it is all about quality, the food is simple and it allows the quality of the ingredients to shine. Delancey really embodies this idea. The quality of the ingredients is phenomenal. Brandon searched the country until he learned how to bake the best thin pizza crust and fires it in a wood burning oven. Molly has been the mastermind behind the salads and uses exceptional ingredients, sometimes using the wood burning oven for her own creations.
We started with a tasty starter of prosciutto and lonza, a dry-cured pork product, drizzled with a great olive oil and paired with some brilliantly green olives. It was delicious and the other starters looked just as great. Our neighboring table ordered a beautiful green salad topped with ribbons from bright carrots, that we couldn't keep our eyes off of. My party tried three fabulous pies. The clam pie was on special and it truly was special. Fresh and hard mozzarella, fresh clams, chili oil and a little bit of Meyer lemon. The bacon and onion pie featured thick cut Zoe bacon. And the Romana, a unique pie with a red sauce, garlic, chili oil, anchovies, kalamata olives and oregano. We thought we ordered to much food, but we swiftly finished it all, enjoying every last bite.
Delancey on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Farm City: The Education of the Urban Farmer

I think this might be the best book I have read this year. I got through the whole book in less than a week because I couldn't put it down. It is absolutely captivating and throughly inspirational. In Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, Novella Carpenter documents her positive, negative and always challenging experiences gardening and raising farm animals in Oakland, California. She turns a vacant lot into a thriving, productive piece of land. She grows an abundant crop of vegetables, but what I really loved about this book is her experiences with animals. She raised bees for honey, chickens for eggs, pigs, rabbits, geese, ducks and chickens for meat. Her challenges with rearing them in an urban environment, feeding them, keeping them safe from predators and deciding what the most humane way to kill them are compelling and at times extremely heart wrenching. Her urban farming projects help build community, she connects with other urban farmers and engages her neighbors in their food systems by providing a space to learn about farming and raising animals. She comes to terms with being an "urban farmer" and what that term means to her and how she embodies it. I absolutely love the way that she understand the urban farm. She eloquently articulates that the urban farm is always changing, farms can be destroyed by development but it is not always the individual farms that matters. It is about all urban farms coming together to produce not only food but community and active involvement with our food system.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wheat Berries

I love wheat berries. I have recently eating them by the handful and I wanted to share a recipe that would enlighten everyone about how great the wheat berry is, but I gave up. It was too hard to pick a single recipe. It is like picking a recipe that really showed off rice in a great way, there are too many. They are so many ways to eat the wheat berry and so many ways to vary a recipe that uses them. So instead I am just going to talk about them, why they are great and what to do with them.

Wheat berries are the whole wheat grain (without the hull). The bran, endosperm and germ are still present making the berries very high in fiber. Wheat berries have a delightfully chewy texture that makes them heartier than other common grains such as quinoa, rice and cous cous.

Breakfast with wheat berries: I love to use wheat berries as a breakfast cereal, like oatmeal only with more texture. I just microwave the cooked berries with a little bit of milk, cinnamon and honey. A yogurt parfait is also delicious with some wheat berries for texture. Just toss some cooked berries in a bowl with yogurt and fresh fruit.

Dinner with wheat berries: Wheat berries add a lot of texture to a veggie stir-fry. They can be added alone or mixed with rice to create a great pilaf. Wheat berries can be used in soups like barley. They also made a great hearty salad when tossed with roasted or sauteed vegetables. I have not sprouted wheat berries before, but they can be sprouted an added to green salads.

Wheat berries do take a little preparation, they take longer to cook than other grains. The best way to prep the berries soak them in water overnight (I use a large mason jar and just leave them on the counter). The next day, drain the berries and simmer them for an hour in fresh water. Strain the cooked berries and proceed to use as desired.

Where you can find wheat berries? Natural foods markets such as Whole Foods and PCC often have many variteties of wheat berries in they bulk sections. I like to buy mine from Nash's Organic Produce at the University District or Ballard Farmers Market. Nash's carries Hard Red Wheat Berries, Hard White and other varieties like their Triticale Berries that are a cross breed of wheat and rye.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cornbread Waffles

I am proud to say that the waffle iron that resides in my house is regularly used. It was provided for us by a loving mom, and while most waffle irons find their way to a dark cupboard but this one spends a lot of time on the kitchen counter. The boys will make mountains of wholegrain-Saturday-morning-waffles before they go to the gym and I have recently started making these savoryesce cornbread waffles. I am having a hard time deciding how to classify this recipe because these waffles are not sweet, they are a great with chili, just like cornbread but also great with maple syrup and butter for breakfast. Either way they are ridiculously enjoyable a new twist on cornbread/the waffle.
Cornbread Waffles adapted from A Chow Life, who adapted them from Bon Appetit

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. In a large bowl mix together cornmeal, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk. Make sure it is well mixed.
2. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and oil. Add the cornmeal mixture to the wet ingredients and stir with the whisk until combined.
3. Preheat waffle iron and grease if needed.
4. Spoon batter onto the waffle iron, using 1/4 cup of batter per each 4-inch-square standard waffle and cook according to manufacturers instructions.
5. Top with desired topping and enjoy.

Waffles can be kept warm in at 200F degrees oven.