Fresh Tomato Pesto

When the tomatoes are ripe and get that intense flavor of summer I love to come up with different uses for them.  This is an uncooked sauce that can be tossed with any type of pasta.  We used it for spaghetti.  It has a brightness from the fresh tomatoes and basil and a rich nuttiness from the walnuts.  Great for all ages!

  • 3/4 C. basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/8 C. olive oil
  • 2 T. parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C. walnuts
  • 4-5 small, ripe tomatoes, I used plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 t. salt

Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth.  Cook 1 lb. of pasta according to the package directions.  Toss the pesto with the hot pasta and serve with more cheese and chopped basil.

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Easy Ahi Poke

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Portland food trends come and go, but I hope the luscious poke I see on menus everywhere is here to stay! If you haven’t tried poke (say poh-kay), I really encourage you to give it a go.  It has a silky texture, and the addition of sesame and soy means it’s packed with umami flavor! It’s very easy, quick to make, and healthy to boot.  Ahi is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and magnesium. PS- I bought a rice cooker! I used to scoff at them and say, “why would you need an appliance just for that?” Well, now I know that rice cooked in a rice cooker IS SO MUCH BETTER!!! Sorry for yelling. Serves 2 as an entree, or 4 as an appetizer. The fish is raw, so use your best judgement about food safety. You should not have any problems if you buy it fresh from a reputable fishmonger such as Portland Fish Market. 

  • 1/2 lb. highest quality, fresh ahi tuna (you can use albacore, but it soaks up the sauce more, so go easy or it will be too salty)
  • 1/4 C. soy sauce (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1/4 C. sesame oil
  • 1/4 C. mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 t. sesame seeds
  • 1/4 t. hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha (or more if you love spice)
  • 2-3 small sheets of toasted seaweed to crumble over the top (optional)

Freeze the ahi just for about ten minutes, it makes it a little easier to make clean cuts and not smash it. While it’s in the freezer, in a large bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients.  Reserve a few seeds and scallions to scatter on top for garnish.  Cut the ahi into small cubes, about 1/2 inch square.  Try to handle it as little as possible.  Gently toss the fish with the dressing.  Taste for seasoning and adjust.  Garnish with a few scallions, sesame seeds, and flakes of dried seaweed. Serve right away, or refrigerate.  Poke can be made about an hour ahead of time, but more than that and it will become a bit mushy. You can prep the fish and sauce separately up to a day ahead and toss it just before serving. Serve the cold poke over warm, steamed white rice.

 

 

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Laurie’s Heirloom Tomatoes with Smoked Paprika Vinaigrette

Happy Birthday Laurie!

This salad was inspired by one I ate several years ago at a Farm to Fork dinner with my friend Laurie.  It was her bachelorette dinner (happy-almost-anniversary, Laurie and Chad) and we all absolutely loved this salad.  Smoked paprika can be found at better grocery stores and is sometimes labeled Pimenton de la Vera.  Look for imported Spanish Pimenton de la Vera- it’s not expensive, but it has an unmatched smoky flavor.

  • 2-4 Large heirloom tomatoes
  • 1/4 C. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1.4 C. good quality olive oil – on the grassy side
  • 1/8 C. champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1 t. smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 t. Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Slice the tomatoes and arrange them on a platter.  Sprinkle them with parsley, salt, and pepper.  Combine the oil, vinegar, and paprika with a pinch of salt and shake to combine.  Pour over the tomatoes and serve.  The salad we had at the dinner also had some blanched green beans, toasted almonds, and blue cheese crumbles.  Yum!

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Spicy Broccoli Slaw

This broccoli slaw makes a great accompaniment to burgers and dogs on the grill.  The kick comes from onion and cayenne pepper.  This would also make a great condiment for grilled brats or tacos.

  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 C. packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lb broccoli, I used baby broccoli that had long stems
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded

In the food processor add the oil, spices, lime juice, onion, sugar, and cilantro.  Blend until the herbs and garlic are minced.  Transfer to a large bowl.  In the food processor, attach the grating blade (no need to wash the bowl) and shred the broccoli with the stems, and the cabbage.  Dump the veggies into the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

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Root Beer Teriyaki Kabobs

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Root beer works as a terrific marinade for beef.  Not only does it tenderize\ a less expensive cut, but it creates little caramelized edges when cooked. It’s an easy marinade to throw together, and could be used with pork or chicken as well.  I use metal skewers on the grill so that I don’t have to worry about burning the bamboo skewers.  Just be careful, the metal skewers get hot!  Summer grilling season has begun!

  • 2 lbs. beef (not too lean, you want some fat for flavor, I used a chuck roast) cut into large bite-sizes.
  • 2 C. fresh pineapple chunks
  • one bunch of scallions, cut into thirds
  • 2 C. root beer
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • pinch of Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 1/4 C. soy sauce
  • 1/4 C. rice wine vinegar (seasoned or not)
  • coarse salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a container or zip lock bag and toss to combine.  Let it marinate for at least two hours or overnight. Discard the marinade, thread the meat, pineapple, and onions onto skewers and grill on medium high for 8-10 minutes, or until meat is cooked to your liking. Sprinkle with a little coarse salt. These are great, hot off the grill or at room temperature, making them the perfect summer party food.  Serves 4-6.

 

 

 

 

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Flatbread Pizza Three Ways

Flatbread makes a great platform for quick pizza.  Remember those English Muffin pizzas we made when we were kids?  These flatbread pizzas are the modern version.  Top them with whatever you like.  I bought Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern flatbread.  You can buy pocketless pita or naan bread at any grocery store for the same effect.  To bake, heat oven to 400 degrees and bake about ten minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.  Here are a few ideas:

1. Classic Pepperoni

  • 1/2 C. plain tomato sauce, I use Hunts
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano or basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 flatbread rounds
  • 1/2 C. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 18-24 slices of pepperoni

Combine the tomato sauce, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper and spread about 2 T. of the sauce mixture on each flatbread.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over each flatbread.  Distribute the pepperoni among the flatbreads.  Sprinkle a little more cheese over the top.

2.  Bacon, Apple, and Cheddar

  • 6 slices of bacon, fried and chopped
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, sliced very thin
  • 1/2 C. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 flatbread rounds

Brush each flatbread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Distibute the bacon and cheese evenly over the flatbreads.  Top with 4-5 apple slices per pizza.

3.  Arugula and Chevre

  • 6 flatbread rounds
  • 1 C. arugula leaves
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • 3 T. chevre
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 t. olive oil

Brush each flatbread with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Distribute the arugula and basil evenly among the flatbreads.  Dot the chevre on top.  Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of each flatbread.

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Guinness Braised Brisket

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I wanted to make a traditional corned beef (it’s corned, not corn beef, I hate it when people say corn beef) last year for St. Patrick’s Day.  I am usually pretty good at planning ahead, but in this case I waited until the last minute.  You need two things for corned beef: time and saltpeter, neither of which I had.  Corned beef needs to brine for at least 5 or 6 days.  Saltpeter is what gives it it’s characteristic pink color.  Knowing I only had a day or two, I decided to skip the corned beef and go for a braise.  In keeping with the Irish theme of St. Patricks Day, I chose to use Guinness for the braising liquid.  The rich, silky sauce is addictive.  The total time for this dish is about 3 1/2 hours and serves 4-6.

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 3lb. beef brisket
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 medium, yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 1/2 C. vegetable or beef stock
  • 1 14 oz. can Guinness or other stout beer
  • 3-4 russet potatoes
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 2 T. butter, softened
  • 2 T. flour

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Season the brisket with salt and pepper on both sides.  Brown the brisket in the oil on both sides, at least four-five minutes per side, you want it nice and brown.  While the meat is browning, peel and dice the carrots, celery, and onion.  Remove the meat to a plate and add the carrots, celery, and onion to the pot with the drippings.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits as the veggies are cooking. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Add the parsley and thyme and put the meat back in the pot.  Pour the stock and beer over the meat.  Cover and place the whole pot into the oven.  Cook for 1 hour and forty five minutes.  Turn the meat over, replace the lid and continue to cook for another hour.  Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into two inch chunks.  Cut the cabbage wedge into large chunks as well.  Remove the meat to a plate.  Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and discard the veggies.  Bring the liquid to a boil.  Combine the butter and flour with a fork into a smooth paste and whisk it in a little at a time to the boiling liquid.  The sauce will thicken after about three or four minutes of boiling.  Place the meat, potatoes, and cabbage back into the big pot, replace the lid, and put it back into the oven while the sauce is thickening.  Increase the oven temp to 400.  Ladle a little of the sauce over the potatoes.  Cook about twenty five minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the meat to a platter and slice across the grain.  Serve the meat with the potatoes and cabbage and pour the sauce over the top.

 

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