Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Photo Dump

These fuzzy baby chicks are not mine, but I get to watch them grow up! Austin and his brother built their mom an excellent homemade coop for Mother's Day and these little guys will move into it soon. Hopefully we will see eggs towards the end of the summer. 
Stone fruit is one of my favorite things to grill. People always give me sideways looks but it is Delicious. I sprinkled brown sugar over these apricots and roasted them up over hot coals. They pick up a faint smokiness while the sugar caramelize and the fruit softens. 
Summer is the season for picnics! The Other Coast Cafe sandwiches delicious and huge (I might have had my second half for dinner). Giant pickles are already quartered for sharing and there are catchy names. The Hammer, featured here has applewood smoked ham, cucumber and a spicy jalapeno and carrot giardiniera.
The cupboards in my house are full of surprises. While these twenty vanilla beans might have expired a few years ago, they are still twenty vanilla beans. I have them soaking in vodka and in two mere months there should be a quart of vanilla extract hidden in the back of another cupboard. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chickpea and Cucumber Salad with Fresh Mint

It has been a month of power food. My accidental overextending of myself led to many 14 hour days of exciting and yet draining adventures. I have tried surviving days like these by powering up on coffee but that just leaves me jittery and anxious for 14 hours, not so great. Instead I eat. It is the 7 snacks a day diet that keeps me full of energy and gusto. I have been toting this chickpea salad around with me everywhere. If there is time I dump it on top of salad greens, but if I just need food as quickly as possible, I eat it straight. I love the combination of the hearty chickpeas, cool cucumbers and fresh mint. It is a really simple mix but it has kept me going for days. 
Chickpea and Cucumber Salad with Fresh Mint adapted from Martha Stewart

2 cans chickpeas
1 english cucumber
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
3 tablespoons minced shallots (optional)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve salad at room temperature. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies

This is one of those recipes I have had bookmarked for forever and I can't believe it has taken me this long to actually make it. Now I want to have these cookies around all the time. They are the perfect snack to fix a late afternoon crash, a delicious breakfast with yogurt or a guiltless dessert. They are the granola bar I have been searching for. They are not overly sweet, like those nut and oat bars that are cemented together with sugar. These are light and soft, moist from the carrot and fragrant from the coconut oil with spicy kicks from the tiny diced ginger pieces. As I head into a busy weekend of big dinners and an all day class, where all we do is talk about food, I need snacks. I am so glad I will be able to stash a few of these away in my bag to munch on whenever the time is right. 

Carrot Oatmeal Cookies adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup grated carrots (about 2 carrots) 
1/4 cup diced candied ginger
1/4 cup finely shredded, dried coconut
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, oats, carrots and shredded coconut. 
3. In a small saucepan heat the coconut oil until just melted, whisk in the honey. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. 
4. Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, one level tablespoonful at a time, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the cookie is golden on top and bottom. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prickly Ash

I went to Portland for a whirlwind weekend of seeing friends who were back in the country, friends who are moving nearly out of the country and all the family in between. The Oregon High School Lacrosse State Championships and of course some amazing food. The Prickly Ash was the winner of the weekend. This cart epitomizes what is great about Portland street carts. There is food that cannot be found anywhere else. The 'Mo is a Portland-Style Chinese Flatbread Sandwich. What?! All I know is that they are absolutely amazing. Crispy, well-seasoned meat, creamy sauce and crunchy pickled vegetables, all wrapped up in a fresh, fried flatbread. The szechuan red oil chicken is topped with garlic-ginger braised greens and pickled vegetables. I devoured the charred pork belly with avocado, nappa cabbage, basil-cilantro aioli, sriracha aioli, cojita cheese and pickled chilies. 
The Prickly Ash is housed in the Mississippi Marketplace food cart pod in north Portland. This pod is blessed with the company of Prost! a delightful German pub that welcomes street cart food in the bar. Not only do they serve up tasty beers but the servers are ripe with advice about the carts. Our server warned us to grab a stack of napkins before we dug in, or we would be in real trouble. We listened. We chased our delicious, saucy sandwiches with cold beer on the deck, enjoying the early summer evening air. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Strawberry Pie

Unlike the birthday treats of the past, this one didn't get candles. Pie is just so beautiful, candles would only detract from the beauty. I get so proud of pie I frequently worry that people will be annoyed by me walking around the house and making everyone look at it, but I can't help it. I need to share the beauty. A pie cooling in the kitchen is a lovely thing. This pie is a tasty use for those mountains of quickly spoiling strawberries that are appearing everywhere. Tossed with orange zest and vanilla, the strawberries melt into a delicious jammy, soft, tender pie filling. Top with some freshly whipped cream and serve it up for a special birthday dessert. 
Strawberry Pie adapted from Saveur

Makes 8 to 10 slices of pie

3 cups all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 pounds strawberries halved, or quartered if they are huge
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Pulse flour, butter and 1 teaspoon salt in a food processor until pea-sized pieces form. Add 1/2 cup ice-cold water; pulse until dough forms. (Alternatively blend in a large bowl, using your hands to break up the butter into pea sized balls.) 
2. Form the dough into a ball; halve and form into two disks. Wrap; chill for 1 hour. 
3. Heat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. 
4. In a bowl, toss together remaining salt, berries, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla; set filling aside. 
5. Unwrap dough; roll both into 11-inch wide and 1/8-inch thick circles. Transfer one circle to a 9-inch pie pan. Mound filling inside. Transfer the other crust over the filling. Crimp edges, brush dough with cream and sprinkle with remaining sugar. 
6. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 1 hour. (If crust begins to brown before pie is finished baking, cover with foil until pie is done.) Let cool.