Weekly Reads 14

No recipe this week. Blame laziness tax season. After a glass or two of wine last night, I managed to fall asleep on the couch for a few hours only to go wake up around midnight and go to bed for reals. I was clearly craving all the sleep. The only real weekend plan since I worked today is to go eat all the food at my parents’ for their Super Bowl party, but now it’s supposed to snow. Again. So tired of this weather. I go for the food, not the football. That’s probably pretty obvious, right?

Source

Perfect timing. This article talks about how cool Astoria’s becoming. We were just there last weekend.

I’ve been craving all the eggplant lately. Someday I’ll get around to making my own baba ghanoush.

Two of my favorite things–pork and pineapple. Sounds delicious.

Five ways to stop self-sabotage. We are our own worst enemies.

Seeing as I’m pretty type-A and am now responsible for a lot more work, delegation is necessary. I can use all the help I can get. I also want that outfit.

Chicken and cauliflower shawarma. Want. Are you sensing a theme?

There are so many things to love about this Dungeness crab dip. Perfect for a Super Bowl party. Or shoveling it straight in my mouth.

These classy double decker tacos make me all nostalgic!

One of the local coffee shops is hosting a giant pizza party to benefit the ACLU—a great idea!

Has anyone tried this personalized shampoo and conditioner? I’m intrigued.

This roasted potato hash looks as pretty as it is delicious.

Look at all of these glorious beans and greens recipes!

Weekly Reads 13

It’s been a hell of a couple weeks. We survived 12-14″ of snow. We marched. And with the start of tax season tomorrow, I wanted to squeeze the last little bit of freedom and fun that I could. The latest cheese club at Cyril’s had me leaving with my own wedge of Tomme Chevre Brebis. This one is a goat and sheep milk blend, so it’s a mixture of smooth [sheep] and tangy [goat]. We saw Louis CK, and I laughed so much it hurt. Andrew’s soccer team had their belated holiday party [at Ex Novo this year] and it was just as fun as always. I went to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone concert series with my sister where the movie is played on the big screen with the symphony playing along the entire time. It exceeded my expectations and I already expected it to be awesome. If you at all appreciate Harry Potter and/or the symphony, it’s a great way to see the movie. I went to my first Yoga + Beer class. It’s a fun concept to practice yoga within the brewery space to experience something little more chaotic and akin to real life and get a beer afterward. John K. Samson [of the band The Weakerthans] came to town to play a lot of songs from his new album. I’ve seen him a handful of times either solo or with the band, and I’m never disappointed.

Friday night I spent the evening with my friend Emma to finally [FINALLY] check out Dame, a new-to-me restaurant in the hood. The hype surrounding the restaurant is real. The wine list is killer, the staff is knowledgeable, and we ate some great plates—beef tartare [see photo!], cabbage rolls with short ribs, and salt cod dumplings. Finishing off the night with huge hunks of chocolate was simple and perfect. Yesterday Andrew and I took off for Astoria to spend the day. There were promises of sunshine, but it didn’t quite materialize, but that seems par for the course this time of the year. The tide was super high, so Roma did not get to drink the ocean or run on the beach. We wandered the town, hitting up fish and chips and Bow Picker, some chocolate custard and Custard King, and a stellar dinner at Albatross & Co. They are going on vacation for the next two weeks, so all oysters were $1. A dozen oysters, a dungeonous crab deviled egg, escarole caesar, and roasted sturgeon dish later, we left for home happy. Today? A trip up to Amboy to eat burgers at Nick’s Bar & Grill and visit the Cedar Creek Grist Mill. It’s a working water powered water mill and the oldest wood structure in Washington. It’s been around since before the state became a state. There was an older man giving us the tour and the history before milling some flour and letting us take some home. I’ve already made cornbread muffins and they are good. The soft white flour is making its way into pancakes tonight. See? Busy and wonderful and I love every minute of it.

I know tax season’s 60 hour work weeks don’t leave as much time for fun, but I’m determined to keep it light and balanced as much as possible. Here’s what I’ve read lately…

Since Tracy has been making all the hippy banana bread lately, I’ve been craving it. I was too impatient to wait for bananas to ripen, so Andrew bought a loaf from New Seasons. Acceptable substitute, but I still want to make hers.

A good read. When you grow up in a town where you don’t quite identify with everyone or you think you know, but you don’t.

I want our offices to look like this.

Ways to cope when meditation isn’t your thing.

Definitely craving butter beans now.

These Japan photos are beautiful. So, so beautiful.

I keep seeing oven fried wings. I keep wanting to eat oven fried wings.

No matter how privileged I am, we are still not equal. Not even close. This essay says it so well.

Words to ban from your vocabulary. I’m working on saying “you’re welcome” to a thank you instead of “of course,” “not a problem,” or “no worries.” I’m getting better at eliminating “just,” “like,” and “really” from my writing [speaking is harder!]. I’ve all but gotten rid of “sorry” when I’m not really sorry. Practice makes perfect.

I am still craving a makeover to my bedroom, and I’m inspired all the time but can’t pull the trigger.

These wallpapers are making the rounds on all my computers to get some sunshine and warmth when it’s not at all outside.

I bought a new pot when my dutch oven finally died, so I’m thinking about the first thing I’ll cook in it, like this pozole.

Since there is so much crazy going on in the news it’s easy to miss other things like these food initiatives to keep an eye on.

So envious of this kitchen refresh!

Pasta Bolognese

I made this entire pot of bolognese for myself. Me, myself, and I [and maybe a little bit to Roma] could be found often eating it off plates, bowls, at the kitchen counter, straight out of the pan, in sweats on the couch, or at a normal place setting. All I was missing was candlelight. It’s safe to say this stuff is delicious. Felicia turned me on to this whole “frying leftovers in butter” thing. How did I not know about this? How? I feel like I’ve really missed out on a lot of pasta leftovers.

There should be candles of the scent this makes as it’s slow cooking in your kitchen. This is not like sauce out of a jar, no sir. It’s anything but. The rough and rustic nature of it makes it easy. Chop, brown, simmer. Delicious. I almost bought bread to go with it because who doesn’t like dipping bread in bolognese, but it seemed excessive since I was pretty much guaranteed to be eating a pound of pasta by myself. No shame.

Tasting the sauce as you go is essential to getting a sauce that you’ll happily shovel into your face. Tomatoes can be fickle. Sometimes they’re sweet. Sometimes they’re acidic. Throw in a whole bunch of cabernet and it’ll release its own sweetness. I found I wanted absolutely zero sugar in this. The tomatoes were plenty sweet on their own. I think about this bolognese fondly and on most weekends. It’s easy to throw together and let it simmer away. Cue the growling stomach.

Inspiration: Love.Life.Eat

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2lb ground beef [I went with 5% fat since the pork is pretty fatty at my store]
  • 1/2lb ground pork
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
  • 28oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 15oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups Cabernet or other red wine [sub beef stock if you don’t have/want wine]
  • 6 sprigs of oregano, leaves removed
  • sugar, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1lb dried pasta

Preparation

In a large pot, heat the olive oil on high heat. Add the beef and pork and a heavy pinch of salt and pepper. Break it up and brown it.

While it browns, add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots to a food processor and pulse them until they’re finely chopped and the same size. Add the wine to the pan with the meat once it’s cooked through to scrape up the tasty bits that have surely formed. Add the vegetable mixture and cook for another 5-6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and oregano. Simmer everything together. Taste for salt and pepper before covering. Simmer for about four hours. The longer the better. Stir it once every hour or so.

Once you’re content with the sauce, make the pasta according to package directions. Drain it and reserve about a cup of the pasta water in case the sauce thickens too much [mine didn’t]. Add the pasta to the sauce and stir. Taste for more salt and pepper.

 

Chicken and Cornbread Dumplings

WordPress so nicely sent me a note that I’ve been blogging for six years as of this month. At first, I was like, “Oh yeah, of course.” And then a few seconds went by and it was like, “Holy crap!” Time flies. I am equal parts surprised and not surprised that I’m still doing this. I’ll never forget my first year. My grandma was so proud that I was writing and cooking that she printed every single page of the blog that year, put it in a three-ring binder, and gave it to me for Christmas. It sits on my bookshelf, more as a memory of her than anything, but it makes me laugh. That seems like such a grandma thing to do, and I still think about her nearly every time I write.

This winter is clearly a “things in bowls series.”

This recipe made me so happy. So much comfort in one little bowl. Cornbread is a weakness. Dumplings are a weakness. When their powers combine, I am weak.

Using buttermilk in the dumplings makes all kinds of sense because it’s cornbread, but it ended up being deliciously sour. I probably undercooked them by a minute, but by the time I was slurping my second bowl, all dumplings were cooked through. The brothy, chicken-y, vegetable mixture is the makings of a stellar pot pie but better. After I roasted the chicken thighs, I threw the bones into the mixture while it all cooked down. Can you have too much chicken flavor? Doubtful. I added some diced parsnip to the mixture because I wanted something starchy like a potato, but not actually a potato. The result sweetened the mixture, but not in a bad way. A parsnip is related to a carrot [I learn new things every day], so that sweetness makes some sense.

The dumpling batter reminded me of my days of spooning raw waffle batter into my mouth. I am was that kind of kid.

Inspiration: A Cozy Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup shaken buttermilk

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil [because your Silpat finally bit the dust]. Place the chicken in the middle of the pan and drizzle it with olive oil and generously cover it with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The tops will be golden brown and the juices will run clear. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to cool so you can shred it. Set aside the bones.

In a Dutch oven or a medium sized pot, add the butter on medium heat. Once it is melted, add the celery, carrot, and thyme. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the flour and stir to coat. Cook for a minute before pouring in the chicken stock and the chicken bones. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then turn it down to medium-low. Cook for 6-7 minutes. The mixture should thicken a little.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour in the buttermilk and whisk until combined. Set aside.

Add a pinch or two of salt to the soup mixture after tasting. Add a ton [like 10 turns] of fresh cracked pepper. Bring the soup back up to a simmer and drop tablespoons of dumpling down into the boiling point. Repeat until all of the dough is gone. Cover the mixture and cook for 5-7 minutes. They should be fluffy and cooked through. I found stabbing one of them with a knife helped since I hadn’t cooked dumplings before. Move one of the dumplings aside and slip the shredded chicken into the pot. Let the chicken reheat before serving.

Chickpea Curry

There has been a whole lot of nothing going on around here lately thanks to the Snowpocalypse in Portland. The 8-12″ of snow is only just starting to melt. It’s going to be a slow, slow process. As easy as it would be to cook right now, it’s important to get out those nearby businesses and support them. This can’t be easy.

This was deliciously spicy. Two very simple things [chickpeas and tomatoes] shouldn’t taste so good, but they do. It’s amazing what seasoning can do. I’m looking forward to making this again now that I have my very own mortar and pestle to mix things like ginger, Serrano chile, and garlic together. I’m convinced the flavor will be even better. The little food processor worked just fine, though. Faster too. Thanks to that chile, the leftovers are going to get hotter as the flavors marinate. That’s just the way it goes.

I shoveled this in with a spoon, without rice or naan, but I wouldn’t have said no if it was presented to me. I was feeling lazy. Also lazy is not having fresh cilantro around. That would be the perk of having a little rabbit like my friend Emma has, but that’s just not happening.

Inspiration: Eating Well

Ingredients

  • 1 small Serrano, seeds removed
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2″ piece of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • cilantro and fresh lime for garnish

Preparation

In a small food processor, chop the Serrano, garlic, and ginger finely.  You can do this with a knife if you’re so inclined. Add the onion and pulse until it all comes together. Don’t over pulse or it will become a watery mess.

Heat the canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Add the coriander, cumin, and turmeric and stir. It should be evenly incorporated into the mixture and smell heavenly. Cook that for two minutes. Keep stirring so the spices don’t stick and burn.

Add the chopped tomatoes and about a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally for about five minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and garam masala. Cover the mixture and cook for another five minutes. Top with cilantro and lime juice before serving.