Thursday, December 10, 2009


It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Which means less time for everything else, such as blogging. But even though it’s a few weeks late, I had to talk about the wonderful Thanksgiving feast I attended this year.

With moving into a new house and my looking for a job, it didn’t seem like we’d get to fly to be with family for Thanksgiving this year. So Trevor and I decided to stay in Portland. Upon hearing this, Paul, another Persephone Farm cashier and fellow foodie, invited us to his place for Thanksgiving.

It was such a great evening. We met new friends and the food was incredible. First off, our thanks goes out to Julie and Cory who not only slaughtered the turkey we ate, but drove it up to Oregon from Colorado packed in dry ice. It was the most flavorful and juicy bird ever.

We also had Roasted Parsnip Bread Pudding that Paul made. It was a Martha Stewart recipe that I will definitely try. It was creamy and satisfying. And there were delicious homemade rolls, stuffing, fancy deviled eggs with smoked trout, and cranberry sauce. Trevor and I brought Sweet Potato Butternut Mash, Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Fennel (a Moosewood recipe) and some homemade vegetable stock. The sweet potato mash infused with sunny orange rind and maple syrup has become a Thanksgiving staple after we received the Celebrate cookbook by Sheila Lukins for our wedding. I love this cookbook and highly recommend it.

And for Trevor, it would not be Thanksgiving with out Ham Roll-Ups. They are basically sliced ham spread with cream cheese, then a dill pickle spear is placed in the middle and rolled up. Then you slice them into bite-size pieces. Oh and I can’t forget the delicious cider gravy Julie and Cory made, with a little assistance from me at the end. Much of the bounty we ate came from Persephone Farm, and for this I am especially thankful.

The dessert spread was expansive, too. Pumpkin pie, rhubarb pie and the sinfully rich Chocolate Espresso Pecan Tart Trevor heard about on Good Food and had to make. I cannot even begin to say how good it was. As one person put “This pie is fulfilling all of my needs right now!”

It’s good to fulfilled and thankful.

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Tart
Roasted Parsnip Bread Pudding
Celebrate by Sheila Lukins

Monday, November 16, 2009

Twice As Nice: Meat and Potatoes

Trevor was in the mood for splurging last week and bought a beautiful roast from Highland Oak Farm, our favorite purveyor of grass-fed beef at the Portland Farmers’ Market. But it actually turned into several meals, so it wasn’t really a splurge after all.

I followed the Joy of Cooking guidelines for roast beef, but studded the roast with cloves of garlic and dusted it with kosher salt and pepper. Our meat thermometer kept saying it wasn’t to temperature, so we kept cooking it. It ended up a little more well done than we desired, but that didn’t stop us from devouring it. I made mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts sautéed in butter and thyme to go with the roast beef. And gravy with the pan juices and some concentrated beef stock from Trader Joe’s. As much as I like to make stock, beef stock is little beyond me.

Two nights later I used the leftovers in recipe that I’d wanted to try. I love to watch PBS cooking shows. I’ve been a fan Ciao Italia for some time, but had never tried one of the recipes. After seeing a show on potato casseroles, I knew which recipe to try first: Piedmont Potato Casserole. It’s basically leftover roast sandwiched between layers of cheesy mashed potatoes. How could it not be good?! I wasn’t disappointed once it came out of the oven and served it alongside crispy kale. Although, the next time I make it, I’ll add some sautéed kale or spinach to the meat layer so it can truly be a one-dish meal. And maybe some chives or green onion to the potatoes for an extra punch of flavor.

This roast also provided a delicious lunch. I warmed up leftover roast with leftover gravy and poured it onto a toasted hoagie roll dabbed with mayo. I topped it with lettuce and tomato. It was reminiscent of a mouth-watering roast beef po’ boy I’d had at Bunk sandwiches in SE Portland. It would have been perfect if I’d remembered to add sliced pickles to the sandwich. It needed that extra salty element.

For all these meals, we used garlic, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, kale and lettuce that Trevor brought home after working at the Persephone Farm’s stand at the Saturday Farmers’ Market at PSU. And I realized spending a little extra proved to be worth it with the creative use of leftovers.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Slow Cooker Goodness

When I was packing up for our move to a new house, I made sure I clearly marked the box that held our Crock Pot. I planned to make some no-fuss food after we moved in. With the kitchen in boxes, we’d been fast-food slumming and were ready for something tasty and healthy.

I can’t expound enough on the merits of the slow cooker. It was so easy to chop up some veggies, pour in stock and voilà a few hours later you have rich soup. No standing over a stove, no stirring. Perfect when you need your hands free to unpack the mountain of boxes still in your kitchen!

The day after we moved I got out my trusty Crock Pot. I chopped up red onion and garlic from Persephone Farm and tossed them in the slow cooker. I added ground beef, 2 cans each of tomatoes and red kidney beans, 2 bay leaves, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, paprika and a little cayenne pepper. (I usually add a little red wine to my chili, but we didn’t have any.) I set it for 6 hours and by dinnertime, we had a hearty chili. We toasted a bake-at-home baguette and had a home-cooked meal that only took about 20 minutes of hands-on prep time. There was plenty left over for lunches and topping a baked potato later on in the week.

The next day I made chicken soup in the slow cooker. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer. I threw in Persephone onions, garlic, celery, kale and potato. I also added carrots, frozen peas and corn. I used the frozen vegetable stock I had on hand and added water, too. For seasoning I added 2 bay leaves, thyme and a pinch of sage, and salt and pepper. I browned the chicken before adding it to the cooker, but you don’t have to. Then I deglazed the pan I cooked the chicken in with water and added that to the pot as well.

And as added bonus, the Crock Pot filled the entire house with the smell of home cooking, all with minimal effort on my part.

P.S. Check out this article in the Oregonian about another Persephone stand employee, Paul Hudak. He's doing great things at Terra Nova High School!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Moving On Up

Getting the keys to your first home is something to celebrate. With Champagne. And since most of our kitchen was packed into boxes, pizza was an easy prep meal. Not your run-of-the-mill pepperoni, but a Special Occasion pizza. Caramelized Onion and Fig Pizza with Havarti.

On a trip to San Francisco a couple of years ago I had the gustatory pleasure of being treated to meal at Greens in Fort Mason. I had a fresh, tasty sampler platter, but Trevor ordered the most delicious pizza with caramelized onions and fresh figs. As I tasted it I knew I’d have to try to recreate it at home.

Caramelizing onions is easy, if a little time consuming. But the result is so delicious. The onions cease to be oniony and take on a sweet flavor that's completely alien to raw onion flavor.

I usually make my own pizza dough in a bread machine, but my 12-year-old bread machine died when I got it out to make the dough. It served me well and couldn’t have gone at a better time. (I didn’t have to lug it to our new place only to have it die on me there.) RIP Oster bread machine. I ended up making pizza dough in my food processor and it worked OK, but I prefer the ease of putting all the ingredients into a bread machine and forgetting about it until I hear a triple beep.

Below are my recipes for pizza dough and our fig pizza. For this meal we used Persephone Farm onions. And we got our wonderful Havarti from another PSU Farmers’ Market vendor, the Willamette Valley Cheese Co.

And coming soon … your absolute best friend in a move: the slow cooker.

Pizza Dough
Makes 2 large thin-crust pizzas or 4 small thin-crust pizzas.

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ½ cups stone-ground all-purpose flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill
½ cup stone-ground whole-wheat flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill
2 teaspoons (or 1 packet) quick-acting yeast
¾ teaspoons salt

Add all ingredients to the bowl of a bread machine following your manufacturer’s instructions. Select and start dough cycle. Rough is ready when cycle is complete.

Caramelized Onion and Fig Pizza with Havarti
Makes 1 14 ½-inch diameter thin-crust pizza. I used Mission figs for this recipe, but any kind will work.

½ pizza dough recipe listed above
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ to 2 large onions, sliced
1 ¼ cups dried figs
2 cups Havarti or Fontina cheese, grated (or as much as desired)
¾ cup Mozzarella cheese, grated (or as much as desired)
all-purpose flour for rolling
nonstick cooking spray, such as Pam
cornmeal for dusting pizza pan

Place figs in a bowl of warm water and let soften up while you are cooking onions.

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted add onions. Cook for about 10 minutes until onions are soft and wilted. Turn heat to low and slowly cook the onions stirring occasionally for 30 to 40 minutes. Don’t rush the onions. As they cook they will turn a caramel brown and become sweet. Set aside when done and allow to cool.

Heat oven to 475˚ F. Drain figs and pat dry. Slice into ½-inch thick slices. Set aside.

Dust work surface with flour and roll out pizza dough to fit a large, round pizza pan. Alternately, you can use two cookie sheets and make 2 smaller, rectangle-shaped pizzas. Spray pizza pan with coking spray and dust with cornmeal. Place dough on pan. Top with onions and figs then cheeses.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Serving of Comfort Food Coming Up

With the rainy season in full swing, I’ve been preparing more homey, comfort meals like Moosewood’s Homespun Pot Pie. When it’s gray and drizzly outside you’ll be glad that you are inside eating this cozy dish.

This pot pie has biscuit-like topping as opposed to a flaky, piecrust topping. And it’s a nice, fluffy biscuit, too. Next time I might try mixing grated cheddar cheese into the topping batter.

A wide array of vegetables is packed in the pie. And while the recipe would be filling as is, I sneaked a little chicken breast, too. The prep time is a little long, but the end result is really tasty and completely worth it. It makes a lot and is great for lunch the next day.

We used Persephone Farm onion, garlic, potatoes and parsnips. I’ll be mentioning another dish that highlights the underrated parsnip soon. This meal is yet another reason to check out The Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook!

And if you’re in the Portland area this weekend, I really recommend stopping by the Persephone Farm booth to check out Trevor and company in their Halloween costumes. I promise it will be highly entertaining.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

You Can't Eat Just One

Meatloaf and leafy greens may not sound like a tasty meal to some people, but I beg to differ. When the meatloaf is juicy and flavorful and the kale is as crisp as a potato chip it’s a standout meal.

I first started making crispy kale after watching Jacques Pepin prepare it on his TV show Fast Food My Way. He admitted that he stole it from another chef, so I’ll detail how I make it at home, too. It’s so good that Trevor and I will eat one whole bunch of kale between the two of us in one sitting. And usually we’re lucky to get any on our plates, because we start eating it as soon as it’s out of the oven! And luckily Persephone Farms always has lots of kale for us to take home and enjoy.

For the meatloaf, I played around with what we had in the fridge. I gave it a Southern feel by adding BBQ sauce and finely chopped greens. And some mashed potatoes on the side rounded everything out nicely. For this meal we used Persephone onions, kale and potatoes.

Crispy Kale

Serves 2 to 3. Really dry kale is the key to making it crispy. Also, this is one of the few dishes in which I use table salt instead of Kosher. Kosher salt crystals are just too big and don’t disperse well. The use of the cookie rack helps air get under the kale as it’s baking.

1 bunch curly leaf kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped into bite-size pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
table salt

Preheat your oven to 225˚ F.

Thoroughly wash the kale and then dry it in a salad spinner. You may need to do this in two batches. Pat off any excess water with a towel. Place kale in a large bowl. Sprinkle olive oil over the kale and toss well with your hands, ensuring each piece is coated with oil.

Place a cookie rack over a rimmed baking sheet. (Prepare two racks and two sheets, if you have them. Otherwise work in batches.) Spread kale in a single layer over the rack(s). Don’t over crowd, or the kale will not get crisp. Lightly sprinkle salt over kale. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until kale is crisp. Check it when you start to smell it, it may be done sooner depending on your oven. Crispy kale is best eaten immediately!

Southern-Style Meatloaf

Serves 2 to 3. Adding vegetables stretches out the meat and adds flavor and moisture to the meatloaf. I didn’t really write down the exact measurements as I was making this meatloaf. But meatloaf is pretty forgiving and these estimates should work.

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup dinosaur kale or collard green, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef, preferably grass-fed
1/8 cup BBQ sauce, such as Sweet Baby Ray’s
Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 egg
1/8 cup dried breadcrumbs
scant 1/8 cup water
olive oil, optional

Preheat your oven to 375˚ F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Spray a small skillet with cooking spray and sauté onion and kale over medium heat until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In large bowl combine, ground beef, BBQ sauce, salt, pepper, egg, breadcrumbs, water, onions and kale with your hands until just mixed. (Don’t over mix or the meat can get tough.) Shape meat mixture into a small loaf shape and place on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil if desired.

Bake for 25 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, but still moist. Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Tacos Like My Momma Used to Make

My mom is one of those people who can hear a piece of music then whip out her violin, guitar or keyboard and play it back for you. Pretty amazing. But when I was growing up, her talents did not extend to the realm of the kitchen. She did have a few standbys that I did always look forward to. And tacos were one of them.

Unfortunately most people think of tacos as tasteless packaged shells with some bland ground beef thrown in. But for us, back before anyone worried about heart disease or diabetes, tacos were fresh tortillas from a local Mexican bakery filled with seasoned beef and fried at home. I never ate Taco Bell until I went to college.

A couple of months ago I had a craving for good homemade tacos. I don’t normally fry too much, but we’d just purchased some grass-fed ground beef so I hoped that sort of made up for the frying. Then I re-created one of my favorite meals. Trevor had never had tacos this way before. The crunch of the fried tortilla and well-seasoned ground beef won him over and he will not be going back to prepackaged shells.

This week Trevor bought some more grass-fed beef from Highland Oak at the PSU Farmers’ Market after working at the Persephone Farm stand. And he had tacos on the brain. We used onion from Persephone. And Trevor made a delicious salsa with Persephone sunburst tomatoes, shallot, garlic, jalapeño and cilantro.

The key to these tacos is making sure your oil is hot enough. Warm it up slowly over medium heat. I use the Rachael Ray trick of sticking the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil to see if it’s hot enough. If bubbles form around the handle, it’s good to go. Also shape the beef into flat little ovals, that aren’t too thick so they will cook quickly.

Homemade Tacos
Serves 2 to 3. Please be very, very careful when frying. Make sure all handles are facing in toward your stove. Keep all small children and pets out of the area and wear shoes. Trust me on that one.

canola oil or other frying oil
½ pound ground beef, preferably grass-fed natural beef
6 corn tortillas
¼ cup onion, diced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¾ cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 medium tomato, chopped
½ cup lettuce, shredded
salsa to taste

Fill a large skillet about 1 to 1½ inches of canola oil. Heat over medium heat until bubbles form when the handle of a wooden spoon is dipped in.

Combine, ground beef and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Form six flat, oval-shaped patties that will cover one half of the tortillas.

In another skillet, heat tortillas until they are soft and pliable. Working quickly, place one patty in each tortilla and fold the tortilla in half. When all six on finished, carefully place as many tacos as will fit into the skillet with hot oil. Cook about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Adjust the heat as necessary. If it’s bubbling very rapidly, turn it down a little; just a few bubbles, turn it up slightly. Tortillas should be crisp and lightly browned. When taking each taco out of the oil, carefully tip it to each side to allow excess oil to drain.

When tacos are done, place them on a cookie rack with paper towel underneath. You may pat them lightly with a paper towel to removed excess grease. While tacos are still warm, open them slightly and fill with grated cheese.

Once all the tacos are finished cooking, you can fill them with tomatoes, lettuce and salsa or any other topping you desire. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Strawberries and Cream

I love when Trevor is in a dessert-making mood. Last week, he brought home some absolutely beautiful strawberries from the Hillsdale Farmers’ Market and was inspired to make shortcake. (He forgot to get apples from Persephone Farm and needed a fruit fix.) He busted out the ultimate cooking reference book, Joy of Cooking. If you want to know how to make the perfect white sauce — or skin a squirrel — the Joy of Cooking is your book. And of course there’s also a recipe for shortcake.

The shortcakes came out of perfectly fluffy, but the bottoms were a little too dark. Not that that stopped us from scarfing them down! But next time we’ll remember to use our Silpat baking mat and they should be perfect.

We topped the strawberries and shortcake with homemade whipped cream. It worked out perfectly that we had some extra whipping cream on hand. There is just no substitute for real whipped cream. As much fun as those spray whipped-cream cans are, it’s always better to make your own. These were probably the last strawberries we’ll see until next year, but we definitely made the most of them!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tastes Like Fall

Before moving to Portland from Southern California I never really knew how good fall could be. In the Valley it went from sweltering to pleasantly sunny. But in Portland there is a definite change in the air and I’m treated to a view of trees exploding in Technicolor gold and fiery red.

The squash changes color, too. It’s the time of year for sweet, nutty winter squash in beautiful, vibrant shades of orange. I never appreciated butternut squash until I moved here.

And I first discovered the deliciousness of delicata squash at the Persephone Farm stand four years ago when Trevor first started working there. So when last weekend Trevor said the first of the delicata arrived, I made sure we took some home. Delicata has a thin pale yellow skin with dark green stripes. There’s no need to peel it when you roast it in the oven, the skin is edible and tasty. The cantaloupe-colored flesh is sweet and mellow. This week I swapped it in for butternut in Pasta with Winter Squash and Pine Nuts and Trevor liked it even better this way. (I did have to peel the delicata for this particular recipe.) I also used mini farfalle instead of penne because it was on sale and I like the way it holds the sauce.

This dish is so simple and just plain delicious. The fragrance of sage and garlic just dances around your kitchen in the most lovely way. And the sharp Parmesan cheese is the perfect foil to the delicata. It’s like fall in a bowl. Try it soon. And I’ll fill you in on what Trevor made for dessert next time: Shortcake with Winter Berries and Cream!


Please leave a comment! I’d love to get your feedback.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Happy Meal

Last night Trevor and I didn’t really talk while we were eating except for the occasional exclamation of “Oh my God, this is so good!” or “Mmmmmm!” The meal that had us so happy and full was from Cooking Light’s 2009 March issue. We had Tomato Poached Eggs, Zucchini and Mint and homemade focaccia.

We’ve made this meal several times since we got the issue in the mail. The recipes are based on traditional Sardinian cuisine. Sardinia is a “Blue Zone” with a higher-than-normal amount of residents living to be healthy 100-year-olds. As Cooking Light reports, one of the secrets to this longevity may be a plant-based diet in which meat only plays a small role.

And this meal is definitely worth sticking around for! We did slightly modify the recipe. Instead of the traditional Sardinian music bread, we made focaccia with stone-ground flour from Bob’s Red Mill. For that recipe we swapped the dried herbs for fresh rosemary and basil, and added thinly sliced onions, too. And we used homemade tomato sauce we had on hand instead of making the sauce. But we have made the sauce in the recipe before and it’s delicious.

We used zucchini, garlic and onion that Trevor brought home after working at Persephone Farm’s stand at the PSU Farmers’ Market. And we picked all the herbs from our garden. Ricotta salata is a firm, salty version of creamy ricotta. This cheese can be difficult to find, but it’s available at New Seasons stores in Portland.

This meal is so good, we forget it’s vegetarian. It’s so homey and satisfying that even a staunch carnivore won’t feel like something is missing from his plate.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tasteful Economy

The smell of a chicken roasting in the oven is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s even better when that 4-pound chicken was less than 4 bucks on sale, and you can get several meals from it.

First, I loosely followed Martha Stewart’s guidelines for roasting a chicken. Her book, Martha Stewart’s Cooking School is a great reference for the home cook. However I used a lot more herbs than she calls for. I snipped about 1/3 cup sage, thyme, basil and rosemary from my herb garden. I placed some of the herbs, lemon slices and garlic in the cavity, and stuffed some under the skin, too. I also rubbed some butter on the outside of the skin.

To make a kind of a rack for the chicken to rest on, I cut some celery stalks in half and put them on the bottom of my cast-iron skillet. And to make this a one-pan meal, I quartered some potatoes and a cipollini onion, and scattered them around the chicken. About an hour later, I had a beautiful roast chicken. (But I do admit when we started carving it, we realized it still needed to cook a little longer. But it wasn’t a big deal — I just put it on a baking sheet and put it back in the oven for a few minutes.) And I made some gravy from the pan drippings. For this meal I used Persephone Farm celery, onion, garlic and potatoes.

After we’d enjoyed our chicken dinner, I wrapped up the chicken carcass and put it in the fridge to use to make stock later. As you’ll soon discover, I really, really hate to waste anything.

The next day for lunch, I shredded up chicken breast to make a chicken salad. I’d had one from Trader Joe’s a while ago that I really had enjoyed; luckily I had the ingredients on hand to recreate it. I added chopped fresh rosemary, light mayo, diced dried apricots and diced Persephone celery to the shredded chicken. The apricots and celery added flavor and crunch and stretched out the chicken. I even had enough left to have as a snack on crackers.

For use No. 3 of this roast chicken, I made chicken stock. Making stock is so easy. And it has so many benefits. 1) You save money. 2) You can control the amount of fat and salt. 3) You don’t waste any parts of the chicken. 4) The taste of homemade stock blows away the canned versions. Again Martha Stewart’s Cooking School is a great reference for stock making.

Also, making stock is a great way to use up vegetables and herbs that might be toward the end of their lifespan. If your carrots or celery are a little limp, they’ll still be tasty additions. You can also use parts of vegetables that you’d normally discard, like the dark green parts of leeks. I’d saved a few such items in my freezer and then threw them in my stockpot.

Here’s what I used in my stock today: 3 carrots, spring onion tops, some leek tops, fennel stalks, 4 stalks of celery, ½ a large onion, 6 cloves of garlic, fresh thyme, fresh sage, fresh chives, fresh rosemary, 2 bay leaves, 6 peppercorns, gizzards from the chicken, the chicken carcass, two wings and kosher salt.

I like to add a little olive oil to the pot and brown up the onions, garlic and celery before I add the rest of the ingredients. It just adds more depth of flavor. Once you add the rest of the ingredients, add enough water to cover everything by an inch or so. Then bring it to a boil and skim off any foamy bubbles that appear on top. Then you just lower the heat and let it go at a low simmer for an hour to an hour and a half. You don’t need to do anything to it except skim it if you see more foam. The skimming is important because if don’t do it, you’ll get cloudy stock.

Once I strain out the solids and discard them, I divide the stock between sandwich bags then place them on a cooking sheet and freeze. Once the stock is frozen, I take the bags off the sheet and stack them easily in the freezer. I divide the stock in ½-cup and 1-cup portions, since most recipes call for small portions. The flavor that homemade stock gives to recipes like risotto or soup, or even steamed brown rice is indescribable. I hope you’ll try it soon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Soup Belly

Earlier this week I made a very satisfying soup from the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook: Spanish Bean Soup. It was the first real day of fall weather in Portland, so a comforting bowl of soup and warm-from-the-oven bread sounded like the perfect dinner.

This meal was a great use of Persephone Farm's produce. It called for collard greens, garlic, onion, celery and potatoes. I did modify the recipe a little. It originally asked for soy sausage, but I used a mild Italian turkey sausage instead and decreased the amount slightly. Spicy Italian sausage would be equally good.

I had the soup for lunch the past couple of days and have not grown tired of it. The flavors married and intensified — and it tasted even better as a leftover. Another winner from our Moosewood cookbook!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sunday Best

This Sunday, Trevor woke up ready to eat. He looked through our fridge, some cookbooks, and decided on his plan of action: Huevos Rancheros. He figured he might as well fry up the last couple of pieces of bacon, too. And he’d just picked up potatoes from the Persephone farm stand at the PSU Farmers’ Market, so why not toss them in some hot bacon grease?

The result was one cheesy, crispy, flavorful breakfast that we’ll be making again and again. He used the recipe from our Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook. It's basically a toasted tortilla topped with a poached egg, salsa and cheese.

We’ll be cooking several recipes from Moosewood this week. Each recipe in the book calls for an abundance of fresh vegetables. So it’s really perfect for our situation — trying to build meals from the free vegetables we get from Persephone Farm each week Trevor works at the stand. Most of the recipes are really delicious vegetarian dishes with influences from around the globe. Although, sometimes, we do make Moosewood recipes and say “Wouldn’t this be really great with some ham?”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Local Doesn't Just Mean Lettuce

One of the best things about the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Portland State is the sausage sandwich by Salumeria di Carlo. You can smell the spicy and sweet sausages cooking the minute you hit the market. Topped with your choice of spicy or regular mustard and in a soft bakery bun, these sandwiches by the Dundee, Ore. sausage makers are hard to resist. And better yet, you can buy frozen packs to take home.

So when I saw this recipe on the Rachael Ray show last year, I immediately thought of Salumeria di Carlo sausage and Persephone Farm fennel. Fennel seed is a common flavoring for Italian sausage, so I knew fresh fennel had to make a sausage sandwich out of this world. I warn you — it has dumb name — but it blows away the normal onion, bell pepper and sausage combo. Here’s the link to Hot Diggity Dogs.

We were able to use fennel, red onion, parsley, and garlic from Persephone Farms in this recipe. This is a perfect kick-up-your-feet and have-a-beer-on-a-Friday-night kind of meal. We washed down our sandwiches with Green Lakes Organic Ale by Deschutes Brewery,  another local pick. You can round out this meal with oven fries or chips.

Contact info: Salumeria di Carlo, Dundee, Ore. 971-570-3720

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Heaven in a Slow Cooker

After seeing an episode of Cook’s Country on PBS, Trevor got really excited about one of the recipes they demonstrated. And it was easy for me to see why. It contained flank steak, two kinds of Italian sausage and country-style short ribs. The sheer amount of meat had me baulking a little at the idea, so I said, “OK, you’ll have to make it, though.”
So this past Saturday at the Portland State Farmers’ Market, Trevor took home extra onions and garlic from the Persephone Farms stand where he works. The Cook’s Country recipe Sunday Italian Gravy called for plenty of both in addition to all that meat. He also got some radicchio, a slightly bitter, purple-leafed plant to broil and eat on the side.

The recipe itself was really easy. Brown up the sausage, onions and add them to a slow cooker, mix in all the ingredients. Then you let the Crock Pot do its thing. It started smelling like heaven about two hours into cooking. Four hours later we had this rich meat sauce which tasted as amazing as it smelled. The flank steak and ribs shredded at the slightest touch of a fork. I’m drooling a little just thinking of it now.

I've include a link to Cook’s Country. You do have to sign up to get access to the recipes. It’s free if you cancel before they start charging at 14 days. And this recipe is worth the extra work of registering. I've also included a link to the radicchio recipe we used.

Even though we halved the recipe, we’ll still get two dinners (for two) and two lunches from it. We ate it on warm baguette topped with Parmesan cheese last night. I think I liked it even better that way. It had the sauciness of meatball sub, tenderness of a pulled pork sandwich and spiciness of an Italian sausage sandwich. All in one sandwich.

This recipe would be great for a dinner party. All the work is done in advance, so you can hang out and have a drink with your guests when they arrive instead of furiously trying to finish cooking. It’d also be great for a casual Christmas dinner. You can start it after opening presents, lounge around all day, then eat this spectacular sauce with your family for dinner.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zucchini Part Deux

I always get the late afternoon munchies. Instead of going for a tasty baked good, I looked through my fridge and found some zucchini. I remembered a delicious slaw I had recently had at a bakery in Corvallis, Ore., and decided to duplicate it. It took just a few minutes to make. My salad was fresh and satisfying. It’s a great way to use up all that zucchini that’s around this time of year.
I’ll be playing around with different variations of this salad and I hope you do, too. I’m especially excited about trying it with ricotta salata — a hard, salty version of creamy ricotta — and fresh mint. And maybe some roasted garlic. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Zucchini and Red Pepper Slaw
Use a food processor with a grater attachment to make quick work of the grating. Bottled, roast red bell peppers may be a little zesty, so you may need less vinegar. Adjust to your taste preference. Serves 2.
1 large zucchini, grated (2 cups total)
½ cup roasted red bell peppers (bottled or roasted at home), cut into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese
Combine zucchini, red bell peppers, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Top with pine nuts and cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cleaning Out the Cupboards

When I was making up my shopping list last week, I looked around the kitchen to see what I had on hand. I spotted some dry lentils and remembered a tasty recipe from Cooking Light— Bacon, Onion and Brown Lentil Skillet.
I’d never enjoyed lentils all that much until I made this recipe. And this is one of those recipes that may not sound all that appetizing, but once you smell the onions hitting the bacon grease, you know it’s going to be great.
In addition to the lentils, I also had some carrots, chicken broth, bacon and lots of fresh thyme. So I knew it’d be an economical meal that I could round out with produce from Persephone Farm. So we grabbed Persephone onions, garlic and parsley for this dish — and some Swiss chard and shallot to go on the side. I used some of the extra bacon grease to cook the chard in, too. Below is my variation of a recipe handed out at the Persephone stand.

Tasty Sautéed Greens
Feel free to use kale or collards instead of the Swiss chard. And you can use a combination of onion and garlic instead of shallot. Serves 2.
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped and thoroughly washed
2 tablespoons bacon grease or olive oil
¼ cup shallot, sliced
salt to taste
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
a splash balsamic vinegar
Bring 1 cup water to boil in a 4-quart stockpot. Stir in chard, reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Add grease or oil to large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and red pepper flakes, cook, stirring, until shallot is tender, about 4 minutes. Add greens to skillet and reserved cooking water. Add salt to taste, sauté about 10 minutes or until desired degree of softness. Finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Zucchini Overload

It was August when Trevor and I moved to Portland. The sun was shining in a way that made me doubt Portland could ever be cloudy and drizzly for a good eight months out of the year. And it was peak zucchini season. We walked by a bus bench on the way to explore our new neighborhood and noticed a plastic grocery bag sitting on the bench. When we returned home, the bag was still sitting there. Curiosity got the best of us and we opened it up to discover a bag full of gorgeous green zucchini. And a desperate note: Please take. So we did.

When we got home, I searched through my Cooking Light magazines for some recipes to use up the gift squash and found Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. I thought, “Perfect!” It’s been a favorite ever since.
Summer squash season is still going strong at Persephone Farm, so we had a large selection this week. I grabbed a few extra to make this wonderful snack bread. I did “unlighten” it though. I didn’t have applesauce on hand so I increased the grated zucchini to 2 cups, upped the oil to 1/3 cup and added 3 tablespoons of light sour cream. I also swapped 1 cup of all-purpose flour for 1 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour. It still was moist and delicious
I’ve still got more squash in my fridge, so later this week I’ll post my Zucchini Slaw recipe that I developed after tasting a wonderful salad at a bakery in Corvallis, Ore.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Beginning

I love food. And because of that, I became a locavore without even realizing there was a whole movement of people eating food straight from their communities – whether to reduce carbon emissions, keep money in the local economy or stay healthy. I just did it because the freshest food always tastes best to me, and you don’t get much fresher than something grown an hour away and picked the day before it’s brought to you. (Although stepping out to your patio and picking vegetables and herbs from your own little garden, is fresher, and we do that, too.)
Of course local, organic food can be a bit more costly than produce you can find in the grocery store. Luckily, my hardworking and equally food-loving husband was offered a job at the Portland Farmers’ Market. So he gets up at an ungodly hour for a Saturday and unloads a truck of veggies from Persephone Farm in Lebanon, Ore., and then sells them. So he makes some extra money, but the true payoff if that we can take home anything that’s still around right before the market closes.
So I’ve decided to document our attempt to work in as much produce from Persephone into our diets and thereby reduce our food expenses. I’ll post photos of meals, detail what ingredients are from Persephone Farms, tell which cookbooks we’ve used — or jot down the recipe if it’s one from our repertoire.
Summer Tomato Gazpacho
We used Persephone’s tomatoes, onion, cucumber, garlic and parsley, and basil from our garden. Serves 4.
5 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded (see note)
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
½ cup red onion
½ large red bell pepper
2 small cloves garlic
5 basil leaves
¼ cup parsley
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and black pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
packaged croutons, optional

Note: To peel tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to boil. Slice an X into the bottom of the tomatoes. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Place tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until skin starts to peel off. Place tomatoes in ice water. Peel. Slice in half and scoop out seeds.
Place first seven ingredients (tomatoes through parsley) in the bowl of a food processor or blender. (This may need to be done in two batches.) Blend until smooth. Add balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and pulse a few more times. Divide among four bowls. Top with croutons and olive oil if desired. Enjoy!