Archive for the ‘Portland’ Category

Busy week

This has been a really busy week for me.  Somehow I scheduled major assignments in both of my classes for the same week.  The result:  lots of time spent reading student papers (something I actually like doing) and not much time spent doing anything else.

It is also really fall here in Portland.  Most of the week was grey and rainy.  This is the view from the walkway I take from my car to my office.


There were a couple of high points to the week (in addition to the papers I read).  First, there was the delicious tortilla soup S made for dinner last weekend.


And I finished one of the hats I have been working on.  This one for my friend’s son B.


I hope it fits!

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Dinner without pictures

This post goes against my personal blogging rules.  I didn’t take any pictures of the meal I am about to describe, so I am going to try to paint a verbal picture and see if I can get my point across.

Yesterday was one of the first rainy, almost-winter days that happen in fall in Portland.  It was damp, verging on, but not quite, raw.  When I got home I was tired and chilled.  I turned on the fireplace and upped the heat and started thinking about dinner.

I knew that S had gotten some Pacific Black Cod the other day, as well as some of my favorite Padron peppers from Viridian Farms.  After flipping through some of our fishy cookbooks, I settled on a recipe for Cod with Roasted Garlic.  Luckily the peppers came with instructions.  Wide egg noodles seemed like a good choice for another side dish.

The fish required the most preparation.  In my usual fashion, I used the recipe (from Leith’s Fish Bible) as a starting point, largely ignoring it once I got started.  I peeled about 15 heads of garlic and set them to roast in about 1/2 cup of good olive oil in a 400 degree oven.  Once that was underway, I seasoned some all-purpose flour with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed aleppo pepper.  I rinsed the Cod fillet (it was a nice thick piece) and sprinkled it with salt and pepper before dredging it in the flour mixture.

Once the garlic was soft, I removed it from the oil.  Making sure the oil was good and hot (I actually put it back into the oven to reheat it a bit) I slid the fillet into the oil and put it in the oven.  After about 3 minutes, I flipped the fish and left it to poach in the oil for another 8 minutes.  I arranged the roasted garlic cloves and some lemon slices around the edges of a small platter and laid the oil-poached fillet in the middle.

While all of that was going on, I heated some more olive oil in a small, non-stick skillet, added the Padron peppers and some salt and sauted them all until they were just starting to brown and blister.  I tossed them into a bowl and took them to the table.

The wide egg noodles were cooked until just done and tossed with even more olive oil and some of my favorite harissa, a little sweeter than many but with just the right amount of heat.

Served with a bottle of Ayres Oregon Pinot Noir it was a lovely meal, perfect for a rainy October night.  Sorry I didn’t get any pictures!

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Just wanted to give you a quick update on my sourdough starter (though it seems a little mundane on a day when Barack Obama was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize).

The other day S commented that we should make waffles this weekend.  Since our favorite waffles are made from the recipe found in Nancy Silverton’s book Breads from the La Brea Bakery,


I was prompted to get my sourdough starter from the refrigerator where it has been hibernating for the last month.  For those of you who haven’t cared for a starter over the long term, once you get your starter happily bubbling away it gets a little tiring feeding it twice a day (and pouring good sourdough starter down the sink so that you don’t end up with bathtubs full of the stuff).  Luckily, you can stash it in the refrigerator for long periods of time without any bad effects.

After a few feedings my starter is  refreshed and bubbly and waiting to become a part of some delicious Sunday morning waffles.  I’ll let you know how they come out.

Ah, but I am not finished yet!  One of my Portland downtown Farmer’s Market obsessions are the panini from the Pearl Bakery.  These are not the kind of panini that you are probably thinking of right now (grilled sandwiches with savory or sweet fillings) but small, round chewy rolls flavored with figs and anise, chocolate, or hazelnuts.

Luckily for me there is a recipe for the Pearl Bakery’s fig-anise panini in Maggie Glezer’s book Artisan Baking across America. Even though the recipe is identified as “advanced” I am going to give it a try.

The first step is to transform my “batter-type” starter into a firm starter. This is a little tricky — the instructions on page 93 of Glezer’s book tell you to take 1 tablesppon each of liquid sourdough starter and lukewarm water, mix them together and knead this together with 1/3 cup unbleached bread flour to make a very firm dough.  This lump of dough is to ferment for 8-12 hours, rising to about 1 1/3 cup within the first 8 hours.

firm starter

firm starter2

My first attempt, which I made right after refreshing my batter-type starter, didn’t work, probably because my starter wasn’t at full strength right after being fed.  I am trying it again with a tablespoon of very bubbly, first-thing-in-the-morning, starter.

I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.

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A celebration of garlic

It’s Saturday again and, despite the rain, we made our weekly visit to the Farmer’s Market.  We made it back, quite damp and rumpled, with bags filled with organic apples, corn, grapes, roasted peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, eggs, spinach and more.

The rain, unfortunately, meant I decided to leave my camera in the car, so today’s pictures come from what happened next.

On the way home a distinctive sign placed on top of a car caught our attention.  One word was enough to draw us in:  GARLIC.


Susanville garlic

We pulled over to the side of the street, parked and made our way into a garage set up with tables displaying five varieties of organic garlic.  Of course, we had to buy some of each.


Joyce's, Simonetti and Susanville garlic (bottom to top)

Three varieties are pictured below (from left to right) Inchelium Red, Italian Purple and one named for the woman who grew the garlic, Joyce Mills of Mills Organic Farm in Newberg, OR:  Joyce’s garlic.


The picture below includes Joyce’s garlic (on the left) and two other varieties:  Simonetti and Susanville.


According to Joyce, each variety has a different taste and some last longer in storage than others.  We’ll be experimenting with all of them over the next few weeks.


Italian Purple and Joyce's garlic (left to right)

Italian Purple garlic

Italian Purple garlic


Simonetti garlic

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We’ve made it all the way to Thursday and are still happily eating food that we got last Saturday at the Farmer’s Market.  As we get closer to the end of the week I am thinking about how to use what we have to make room for whatever will be waiting for us when we go next Saturday.


One of the exciting things about this time of year is that uncommon varieties of everyday vegetables are appearing, like this Romanesco, an incredibly beautiful green fractal cauliflower (or is it a cabbage?),


and the striking radicchio di Treviso.


It’s also a good time of year to hoard garlic,


and stock up on cabbage.


Now, what to make for dinner?

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Cheese plate

Every family probably has those stories that, when told in the right company, only require a word or two to make everyone break into laughter.  The two words that evoke that reaction in my family are “cheese plate.”  It’s actually funny that this is the case, since one of S’s favorite parts about eating out is the chance to order a selection of cheeses instead of a more traditional, sweet, dessert.

Despite S’s love of cheese, we rarely go to the trouble of assembling a cheese plate at home; last night was an exception.


This past week at the farmer’s market we discovered a new cheese producer, Monteillet Fromagerie, located in Dayton, WA.  After tasting a few of the cheeses they had for sale we settled on two:  The sheep and goat’s milk aged, semi-hard, Causse Noir, and the soft, 100% goat’s milk Larzac.  For our cheese plate last night, we paired the Causse Noir with Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue.


Fresh figs,


roasted Oregon hazelnuts,


Viridian Farms grapes

grapesand some local blackberry honey


completed the spread.   This was one cheese plate that didn’t make us laugh!

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Finally, after about a month of life interfering with what should be our weekly trip to the Portland Farmer’s Market, we made it back today.  And what a day it was.  The market was overflowing with late summer and early fall colors and flavors.

There were peaches


and grapes.




and beans.




and brussels sprouts.


There are always flowers at the market, but this week they seemed particularly riotous.





And the artichokes put on a particularly good show as well.



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