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Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Archive for February 2009

A Tropical Treat

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Fruit Salad with Papaya, Mango, Kiwi, Banana, Orange and Dried Coconut

Ok, so this fruit salad wouldn’t exactly qualify as localvore fare. But it got a stamp of approval from our local food co-op. I couldn’t stop scooping up samples of this concoction with graham crackers there. It’s a simple fresh salad of chopped papaya, mango, banana, kiwi, dried coconut and I added some orange to the mix. Nothing more. The crunchy kiwi seeds and nutty coconut provided a nice texture. And hey, at least the kiwis were of Oregon origin. You should make this dessert for your Valentine’s Day honey. It’s chock full of aphrodisiacs: banana, papaya, maybe even mango? Isn’t all fruit sexy in its own womb-like way? For more sensual ingredients, check out the Intercourses cookbook, which makes a lovely wedding gift.

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February 11, 2009 at 1:01 am

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The Simplicity of Soup: A Meaty, Tangy Chili for the Ages

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I have nothing but praise for this “Chili For a Crowd Recipe” from the venerable Silver Palate cookbook. We had it at an inauguration party, and I couldn’t wait to recreate it. Ah, The Silver Palate, that bible-like tome for those nouvelle foodies coming up in the 1980s. Fond memories of my parents peering over its sauce-splattered, dog-eared pages. I think I made our host feel old, referring to it as “my parent’s cookbook.” What will be our generation’s Silver Palate? Let’s hope it’s more Mark Bittman, and less Rachael Ray.

Chili demands cornbread: I made this rosemary/olive oil one from the Baltimore food blog Coconut & Lime. I halved the chili recipe and substituted brined kalamata olives, per our host’s directive. No need to drain the tomatoes– you’ll want that broth. The Italian sausage adds bite, but it did call for too much ground chuck, and not enough beans, for my taste. I might do ground turkey (or lamb and white beans!) next time. I can’t believe we’ve had beef two weeks in a row. Sinners, repent! At least tomorrow we are going to a soup lunch, sponsored by the statistics department, that’s a fundraiser for the Oregon State University Food Bank. Let’s hope they have vegetarian options:)

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February 10, 2009 at 1:34 am

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Borscht and other Beet Soups

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Here’s the prize-winning borscht recipe my friend made for the local foods recipe contest. I really liked the presence of celeriac and mushrooms and the cardamom and cumin seed spices. I didn’t add enough water though, and Dan said borscht should have more broth. Also, couldn’t find dried red pepper so substituted fresh, and I would up the spices more. But beet soups are a cozy, sweet treat in winter.

My sister recommends this Five Spice Beet Soup from Bon Appetit, though it’s rather rich. I added some variations from this beet soup recipe to the borscht above. Here’s another vegetarian borscht from Culinate. Any beet soup recipes to pass along? I also love chilled beet soups in summer. I’m also realizing I prefer eating beets in moderation.

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February 9, 2009 at 12:49 pm

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And the Winner Is…(Not) Potato Leek Soup

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I meant to post that I entered my first cooking contest last week, sponsored by the local Ten Rivers food security group. Using as many local ingredients as possible was key. Some gorgeous green local leeks seduced me into making Potato Leek Chickpea soup, but unfortunately four out of the 16 entries were variations on potato leek soup (one included smoked salmon, unique). I also used the dried chickpeas harvested from a nearby grass seed farm. But it wasn’t an original recipe (I adapted it from the Naked Chef Jamie Oliver, see below). I’m especially excited to try this vegetarian borscht recipe that won first place, made by my friend Anna Cates, from my Acro-Yoga class. Borscht or some other beet soup might be in the cards tomorrow night. Or a hearty chili.

Jamie Oliver’s Potato-Leek-Chickpea Soup
12 oz. chickpeas (I used canned or soak dry ones)
•    1 medium potato peeled
•    5 medium leeks
•    1 tbs. olive oil
•    1 tbs. butter
•    2 cloves garlic
•    salt and pepper to taste
•    3 cups chicken stock
•    Parmesan Cheese for garnish

1.    Cooks the peas and potatoes covered with water until tender (if you used canned, cook the potatoes first until more soft then add chick peas.)

2.    Remove outer skin of leeks, slice length-ways, wash carefully, slice finely.

3.    Warm a thick-bottomed pan, add oil and butter, then leeks and garlic.  Cook until tender and sweet.  Add 2 of the 3 cups of stock to the sautéed leeks.  Simmer 15 mins.

4.    Puree half or all the soup. You can also just leave it chunky.  Add the remaining 1 cup of stock.

5.    Enjoy!

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February 8, 2009 at 2:28 am

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Teaching Yoga for the Very First Time

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Teaching yoga is quite a different experience from practicing it yourself. I had the chance to do so, alone, for the first time today at the Milestones Recovery Center here in Corvallis, where women can live with their children as they go through rehab. I’m volunteering with Reach Out Yoga here, a new non-profit here bringing yoga to a youth homeless shelter, a children’s psychiatric home and rehab centers, etc. It’s similar to this Living Yoga  organization Portland that has taught yoga to thousands, including prison inmates.

Only two students showed up (not pictured above) for my class. But the class naturally flowed. You really relearn the postures as you teach them to someone for the first time. And it’s much more magical than practicing alone. We rolled out the matts in an unkempt rec room, cluttered with children’s toys and socks. Somehow we managed to create a slightly meditative space. They said I had a soothing voice, which surprised me. They loved letting their heads, necks and shoulders go in the surrender of bent-over, rag doll pose. Now I understand why my Baltimore teacher always closed class saying: “I thank you, my students, who are truly my greatest teachers.”

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February 7, 2009 at 1:43 am

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Frozen Berries: The Sweetness of Summer in Winter

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Oregon summer blueberry smoothie

Oregon summer blueberry smoothie

There’s nothing better than fresh summer berries in the dead of winter. How I wish I had frozen more than just of pint of sweet Oregon blueberries. But they made for two tasty blueberry-kiwi breakfast smoothies, made with Nancy’s plain yogurt kefir (on-sale) from here in Eugene, sweetened with agave nectar and enhanced with ground flax seeds. Did you have the foresight to freeze berries this summer?

Check out the “A Burst of Berry This Winter” article in this issue of Edible Portland. Apparently some 95 percent of Oregon berries are grown for the nationwide frozen food market, so pick some up at a grocery store near you:) And frozen berries pack the same antioxident punch as fresh ones do. And berries, primarily blackberries, raspberries and strawberries (yet to a lesser degree blueberries) are among “the most potent cancer-fighting fruits.”

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February 5, 2009 at 12:37 am

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Making Steak for the First Time…and Perhaps the Last

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Really Old-Fashioned Marinated Rib-Eye

Really Old-Fashioned Marinated Rib-Eye

I don’t think I’ve ever cooked steak at home before. It’s expensive, environmentally unsustainable, not great for the heart and I don’t really crave beef much. But Mark Bittman’s column on a “Venetian Bath of Wine and Spice,” detailing an aromatic ancient Italian marinade for meat, tempted me.

We bathed the rib-eyes overnight in the cooked wine, infused with whole cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and grated orange. I couldn’t find the pricey Amarone wine Bittman recommended, and plus it’s too expensive to waste on cooking. So I substituted a full-bodied Portuguese Dolcetto D’Alba made with port grapes, but with a dry finish. At $10, the price was right at our downtown wine shop.

The seared steak was perfectly moist, with a spicy sweet finish that needed salt and pepper. Keep it rare. The recipe comes from Frank DeCarlo, the chef at Peasant, one of Dan’s favorite (Italian, of course) restaurants in NYC.

But it still doesn’t feel right to cook steak at home. The smoking pan filled the kitchen with the stench of cooked grease. I’ll still have an occaisional beef hot dog or burger, and I love beef stew or a Vietnamese beef-papaya salad. But steak really isn’t my thing. Hey, I tried, and for steak lovers, this age-old one is worth keeping. Let’s just say my husband was glad I did.

You can watch a video of Mark Bittman preparing the steak recipe here.

Written by baltimoregon

February 3, 2009 at 12:51 am

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Adventures in Truffleland

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How fortunate are we to have forest mycologists for next-door neighbors who are among the premier truffle experts in the state. I leaped at the opportunity when they invited me to hitch a ride with them to the Oregon Truffle Festival in Eugene today. It’s a hoighty-toighty gourmet event, but luckily today anyone could attend the marketplace event for $15. It was well-spent

That admission price included indulgent samples of truffled dishes and truffle-accented cheeses and olive oils. And this budding food writer absorbed numerous story ideas from panel discussions and other conversations there. Truffles could become a tobacco-like cash crop salvation for struggling small farms, the writer Kevin West said in a talk. Unfortunately most of us can’t afford to cook with truffles, as they go for $100 to $1,000 a pound. Hence the reason so many amateurs here try to forage for them themselves. I saw a festivalgoer today bartering some Oregon white truffles for wine and first-press olive oils, as if the truffles were gold.

The festival hall was redolent with the heady, pungent perfume of the truffles. The rare Oregon Brown Truffle (see above) had an especially potent, Roquefort-like aroma. Only the relatively more common white and black truffle varieties were featured in the food we sampled.

The chefs from Caprial’s Bistro in Portland whipped up a truffled fennel-potato soup and a simple roasted carrot salad. (See recipes below).


A cloyingly rich marsala pasta with white truffles and flecks of foie gras followed from Newman’s at 988 in Cannon Beach. And Vitaly and Kimberly Paley of Paley’s Place in Portland were on-hand to sign their new cookbook.

Truffles are a gift of nature that fruit in the earth in all regions of the world. Desert truffles, I learned today, are abundant in the Kalahari region of sub-Saharan Africa, in Austrailia and in the Middle East. In fact, there’s evidence that shows the “manna from Heaven” that fed the Israelites was likely morsels of desert truffle. How cool.

Roasted Carrot Salad with Sherry Dressing and Goat Cheese and White Truffles (have you noticed sherry vinegar is all the rage? I just got some for the first time.)

Serves 4

4 large carrots, peeled and large dice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper


2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

6 tablespoons olive oil

salt and black pepper

2 bunches watercress, washed and spun dry

2 ounces soft goat cheese

thinly sliced white truffle

Preheat oven 425 degrees convection bake setting. Place a heavy gauge sheet pan in the oven to pre-heat for about 10 minutes. Toss the carrots with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on the hot sheet pan in a single layer. Cook until tender and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

While the carrots are cooking, prepare the dressing. Whisk the vinegar, garlic and mustard together. While whisking slowly add the oil and whisk til incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve the salad, divide the watercress onto 4 plates. Top with the warm carrots and drizzle with the dressing. Top the salad with goat cheese and sliced truffle and serve.

Courtesy of Caprial and John Pence of Caprial’s Bistro

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February 2, 2009 at 1:44 am

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Fresh Local Winter Kiwis…Who Knew?

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Who knew that seemingly tropical fuzzy Hayward kiwis grow in Oregon and are available fresh in winter. But they are locally grown here at the Greengable Gardens in Philomath. They harvest the sweet fruit in November but they easily keep, at a temperature of about 35 degrees, and can be sold fresh for the next four months.

What do you do with your kiwifruit? I made a tropical yogurt bowl last week, with sliced kiwi, mandarin oranges and pineapple. Kiwi jam or sorbet, maybe, or even kiwi salsa are other options I’d like to try. Of course, I love just scooping the fresh flesh out of a halved kiwi with a spoon. I’m just thankful for fresh fruit in the dead of winter. Knowing it’s local makes all the difference.

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February 1, 2009 at 2:33 am

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