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Archive for the ‘Oregon’ Category

During the summer I look forward to the weekend for a lot of reasons.  This weekend, in addition to my weekly visit to the local Farmers’ Market, I found time to do a little baking.

I’ve posted about baking biscotti here before, but today I am working on a new recipe, inspired by the incredible Amish Milk Polenta that Anthony and Carol Boutard produce at Ayers Creek Farm in Gaston, OR.

This polenta is amazing cooked up and served under a topping of garlicky greens and caramelized onions, but it’s also incredible as the background crunch in toasty hazelnut biscotti.

These biscotti are a true celebration of local Oregon foods — I also used fresh eggs from Sweet Briar Farms,

and Ken & June’s Oregon Grown hazelnuts.

Here’s the recipe — modified from one I found in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From my home to yours.

Hazelnut Polenta Biscotti

makes 35-40 cookies

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½  teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup white polenta

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 cup turbinado sugar

2 large eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cups finely chopped roasted hazelnuts

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  Add the polenta and whisk again.  Set aside.

Place the butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Start the mixer very slowly and increase gradually to medium speed as the butter and sugar mix together.  Mix for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs.  Continue to beat at medium-high speed for another 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well-mixed.

Beat in the vanilla extract.

Reduce the mixer speed to slow and add the flour mixture, mixing only until just combined.

Turn off the mixer and use a sturdy spatula to fold in the hazelnuts, mixing just to blend.

Scrape the dough into two rough logs on the prepared baking sheet.  Smooth them with your fingers (I usually have to wash my hands a couple of times as I do this, the dough is very sticky).  The logs will be pretty flat on top, and uneven.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cookie logs are golden but still springy to the touch.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place it on a cooling rack.  Cool the logs on the baking sheet for 30 minutes.

Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut them into ½ inch slices.  Return the slices to the baking rack, standing up, side by side.

Bake the biscotti for another 15 minutes (at 350 degrees), or until they are golden and firm.  Transfer them to the rack to cool.

These cookies keep well, even uncovered, for about a week.  I usually put them in an airtight container.

I have trouble keeping these around — it’s hard to eat just one — I think you could easily double the recipe if you want to make a bigger batch.

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Crab cakes anyone?

My husband S and my brother T are great friends.  One of the things they love to do together is cook.  As far as I can remember, the first food they conspired on were crab cakes, and for a long time they never made them except when they could do it together.

These days, though, S sometimes makes crab cakes on his own; especially at this time of year, when Dungeness crabs are in season in the Northwest.  The dish has also become one of my stepson’s favorites, so we usually have them at least once when he is staying with us.

The recipe S and T like (after trying several) comes from the Joy of Cooking.  It’s not complicated; like most great food it depends on great ingredients rather than fancy footwork.

Crab cakes
(adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
Serves 3-4 (the recipe can easily be doubled if you need to feed more people)

1 pound fresh lump crab meat (we use Dungeness crab here in the Northwest; in Maine we used the local “peekytoe” crab)
2 Tbs butter or olive oil
¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely diced scallions
1 Tbs minced garlic (or more to taste)
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup mayonnaise (use homemade if you feel inspired, otherwise the kind from a jar works well)
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup minced parsley
2 Tbs + 2 cups Panko style bread crumbs (divided)
4 Tbs butter or olive oil (for sautéing crab cakes)

Carefully pick over the crab meat to make sure you have removed any stray bits of shell.

Heat the butter or oil in a medium saucepan until it foams.  Add the bell pepper, scallions and garlic and sauté until soft (8 – 10 minutes).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the crab meat with the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, salt and black pepper, cayenne, parsley and two Tbs of Panko breadcrumbs.  Add the sautéed vegetables and mix well.

Spread the remaining 2 cups of breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking pan.  Shape the crab mixture into 8 small cakes and gently coat each with the breadcrumbs.

Refrigerate the cakes, covered, for at least 30 minutes before cooking them (1-2 hours is even better, if you can manage it).

When you are ready to cook the crab cakes, heat the butter or oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the cakes to the pan 1 at a time.  Don’t crowd the pan (it’s best to cook these in small batches and keep the finished cakes warm in a low (250 F) oven while you cook the remaining cakes).

Brown the cakes on both sides, turning after about 5 minutes (these small cakes will need about 8 total minutes of cooking to be fully browned and warm throughout).


Serve hot with lemon wedges and Aioli or chipotle mayonnaise (or both, if you feel motivated).

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I am not the kind of person who makes New Year’s resolutions; instead I hope I can live up to my ideals every day without making a formal commitment to them.

One commitment I have been able to stick to since coming to Portland is to patronize local businesses whenever possible.  I will admit to an occasional stop at a national retailer (Whole Foods comes to mind) or a traditional mall, but most of my shopping is done at locally owned groceries (New Seasons and the Portland Farmers Market get most of my food dollars), bookstores (Powell’s and Annie Bloom’s Books are my two current local favorites) and knitting stores (Knit Purl, Northwest Wools and Twisted are a few of the places I like here).

In addition to these places, I have really enjoyed exploring the many eclectic Portland shops that feature local products or handmade goods.  One store that I have fallen in love with is The Meadow on North Mississippi Avenue.

This tiny (really tiny) shop features all kinds of wonderful treats for eaters and cooks.  The first thing you might notice when you arrive (if you can focus on any one thing) are the floor to ceiling shelves packed with salts (and a few select other spices).

Once inside you will find a similar set of shelves stocked with chocolate from around the world,

a table crowded with local flowers ready to be arranged in one of the perfect vases displayed behind the counter, a small but carefully chosen collection of wines and a selection of local and imported bitters, perfect for augmenting that fancy cocktail or flavoring your San Pellegrino.

If you are in the mood for something more permanent, maybe a salt or pepper mill will fill the bill.

Places like this make shopping locally easy and fun.

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It rained hard on Thanksgiving here in Portland.  In fact, it was a decidedly un-Portland-like rain that drummed on the skylights and on the deck all day long.

That made it all the more wonderful to wake up the next morning to blue skies and sun.  The weather was so remarkable that we quickly scrapped our plans to visit the Portland Art Museum (we’ll do that another day) and decided to head to the Columbia River Gorge (“the gorge” to people from around here) instead.

Our first stop, and oddly, the only one where I took any pictures, was the Vista House at Crown Point.

Even though the sun had been shining in Portland (really!) the skies above the gorge were grey.  Of course, it was still beautiful.

The rest of the day was equally lovely, with stops at Bridal Veil and Multnomah Falls on the way to Hood River.  Our Maine visitors were delighted to have been able to see a part of Oregon they had not seen before and we were happy to be with them as they saw it.

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Finally fall

I have been waiting for the Japanese maple tree outside our front door to turn.  Now that it has I am finally confident that fall has arrived.

The really striking thing about this tree, though, is not the bright yellow color of the leaves, but the brilliant green of the trunk and branches.

The green stands out even more now that the leaves have turned.

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Today we decided to explore the Thirteenth Annual Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival being held at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby.  It was a perfect fall day, sunny with enough of a cool breeze to keep it from becoming too hot.

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After breakfast downtown at Mother’s Bistro we drove south to the festival; a combination fiber and craft sale,

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livestock judging,

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and workshop and demonstration site.

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Local artist, John Beard demonstrated Ravenstail weaving in one booth,

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African baskets were piled on the lawn,

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and yarn was everywhere.

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It probably won’t surprise anyone who reads this that I came away with some yarn myself

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and even started a new project in the car on the way home.

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