Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Oysters, Two Ways


It’s early in the evening and I’m outside reflecting on our day. The hummingbirds are clearly not happy, disapproving of me in their area. They are making their clicking noises and flying close to my head. Last summer we had one little guy fly straight into our big glass window knocking him to the ground. By the time it took us to get out the door to check on him he had got up and flown away. They are fun to watch and they love the nectar from the beautiful pink fuchsias. (see below)


This morning was a busy one. We weeded and cleaned another section of the yard. It’s amazing how tangled the blackberry bushes can get. Such a resilient plant.


Next we headed out to the oyster farm located up the Siletz River on Yaquina Bay Road in Newport, Oregon. We picked up 2 dozen of the “small” oysters and headed home. Deciding which way to prepare them become our big discussion on the way back. After surfing the internet we decided to grill them two different ways. The first a classic; was to shuck them and prepare them Rockefeller style. The other was to grill them until they started to open; remove the top lid and add a slice of fresh ginger, shiitake mushroom, green onion, soy sauce and peanut oil. Both ways were delicious and I would make each recipe again in a heartbeat.

Ingredients:

Rockefeller style:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 shallots, (chopped)
1 small leek (cut into ribbons, both white and green parts)
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
1 dozen oysters on the half shell
1 lemon, (cut into wedges)

To prepare:

Rockefeller style:

Shuck the oysters. (my husband did this part as well as the grilling) he began by watching a utube video which I recommend as it is not as easy as it looks.

Next in a heavy skillet melt butter. Place the bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl and add half the butter set aside. To the remaining butter in the skillet, add shallots and leeks and sauté until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Next add in spinach, cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the spinach wilts. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside mixture to cool. Finish off the bread crumbs by mixing in olive oil, Parmesan and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon spinach mixture on each oyster then follow with a spoonful of the bread crumb mixture. Place oysters on grill and cook about 5 to 7 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown. (time will vary depending on the size of the oysters)

This recipe has been adapted from The Foodnetwork website.

Asian style:

Ingredients:

1 dozen oysters
12 pieces thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon peanut oil
2 ounces soy sauce

To prepare:

***have sauce pan heated on grill with the peanut oil, and soy sauce.

Place oysters on grill until the shell starts to open, about 6 minutes for these. Pull off the top shell and place a piece of fresh ginger, shiitake mushroom and green onion on each oyster. Pour heated peanut oil and soy sauce over oysters for a sizzling effect. Move to cooler spot on the grill for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. (time will vary depending on the size of the oysters) Enjoy!






Friday, June 17, 2016

Wild Mushroom Pasties


Every time we go to the Newport, Oregon farmers market I am always impressed with someone or something there. This week it was the mushrooms from the Rain Forest Mushroom Co. We bought a combination of shiitake, maitaki and scallop. To go along with them they attached three pages of recipes. The first thing I made was the mushroom and leek soup with orzo pasta. This was delicious and just what we needed for a proper lunch.


For dinner I made these mushroom puff pasties. This recipe was not on the list of recipes that they gave us. A pasty is a baked pastry typically with meat and potatoes. In this version shallots and leeks are sautéed together with a blend of the mushrooms and fresh thyme. A little sherry is added and cooked down until everything melds together. Then the cream is added and the mixture is spooned unto the squares of puff pastry. These little packets of goodness are baked 10 to 12 minutes and viola, dinner is served.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small shallot (minced)
1 small leek (green and white parts, cleaned and sliced thin)
1 ½ cups mixed sliced mushrooms
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cream
1 package puff pastry

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 375

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and leeks; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium-low and add mushrooms. Cook and stir about 15 minutes. Add in thyme; salt and pepper. Stir in cream.

Remove from heat and allow mushroom mixture to cool.

Roll out pastry into a 12 x 15 inch square. Cut into eighteen 3 inch squares. Place a mounded teaspoon of mushroom filling in the center of each square. Fold pastry over filling to form a triangle. Pinch edges firmly together with a fork to seal.


Bake 12 to 14 minutes until golden brown, rotating pan half way.


Monday, June 13, 2016

The Basque Book: A Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito


Going to a farmer’s market is always an adventure. I never make a list as you never know for sure what foods might be there. This is my favorite way to shop, on the fly if you will. Last week-end I picked up some leeks, artichokes, green onions, red onions and zucchini. Once home I scanned the pages of my newest cookbook, The Basque Book: A Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito, and oh my goodness there are so many great recipes.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we. The landscape picture on the cover is just what one would expect to see if visiting the region, see picture above. The introduction talks about the authors, how they met and about the Basque culture. The next chapter is on the basics, techniques and ingredients. Then instead of the traditional set-up of chapters, starters, breakfast and so on, you get small plates, kitchen garden, eggs, cod, soups and stews, gathering and entertaining, sweets and beverages. I felt this cookbook was authentic in the sense that a single ingredient, one for example a leek can be the star of a dish. It’s simple cooking, but slow and thoughtful.

One of the many recipes that appealed to me was the artichokes with lima beans and Spanish ham. Now I knew I could not immediately get my hands on the lima beans or ham in this small rural community that we are living in. But I did have the fresh baby artichokes. In this recipe the artichokes are simmered in a gentle bath of olive oil until they are tender. Which was exactly what I did. My husband declared this an amazing way to prepare this obscure little vegetable which I served with a small green salad.


The second dish I prepared was the classic Spanish tortilla which is very similar to a frittata. Here eggs, potatoes and red onions are combined and poured into a non-stick pan. The technique for turning the tortilla is very interesting. When the egg mixture has set a plate is inverted over the pan and then the pan and plate are flipped together, this is done three times to get the right look. This is one method that I will need to practice, see broken omelet in picture below. Next on my list is to make the pureed leek and onion soup.


This cookbook is filled with a treasure trove of wonderful recipes and most with some sort of story behind it. A welcome addition for anyone that loves to cook for family and friends.

“I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.”

Friday, June 10, 2016

Oregon Trail Cookies


Last week-end we hiked the St. Perpetua trail located at Cape Perpetua Oregon. It is a fairly steep climb down and then back up, about 3 miles total. From the top we could see the rocky beaches and the pacific ocean. There were wild flowers decorating the sides of the hill at the summit.


During the walk down old trees draped in moss kept the sun at bay


and Olive found herself a very nice stick.


The day before I baked these Oregon trail cookies to take with us. I added wheat germ and substituted walnuts for the almonds otherwise kept true to the recipe. The base of the cookie is made with flour, oats and peanut butter. We enjoyed them very much.

This recipe has been slightly adapted from a recipe on Bob’s Red Mill website.

1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter (softened)
¾ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg (beaten first, then added)
½ cup walnuts (chopped)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup dried cranberries

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350

Grease baking sheet or line with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a medium-sized bowl add and whisk together flour, oats, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and honey. Then add in egg and vanilla and mix together. Combine and add flour mixture, one half at a time. Now gently mix in walnuts, pumpkin seeds and cranberries.

Roll dough into balls, (I used a ¼ cup measuring tool to keep them all the same size). Flatten tops with a fork and bake until golden brown about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool in pan about 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 12 cookies

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pork Chops in A Mustard Cream Sauce Spiked with Rosemary and a Garden Update


Here is a quick and easy dinner for any day of the week. Thin-cut bone-in pork chops are seared on high heat,  then topped with a lovely mustard cream and rosemary sauce. This was served on a bed of freshly made polenta. Add a nice green salad and dinner is now served.

This recipe has been slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson (love her way of cooking)

Serves 2 to 3 people

Ingredients:

3 pork chops (I used chops with bone-in thin to medium cut)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup apple cider
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste


To prepare:

Pat pork chops dry and then lightly salt and pepper on both sides. On medium high heat sear about 5 minutes on each side.

Remove the chops, set aside and now add apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan. Scape your spoon (I used a wooden one) to deglaze/loosen all those wonderful flavors that have stuck to the pan. Next add mustard, cream and a sprig of fresh rosemary.


After simmering sauce for a few minutes, pour over plated pork. Serve on a bed of polenta, pasta or gnocchi and garnish with a sprig of rosemary. Enjoy!


An update on the garden:

Lettuce likes the cooler days but also likes the sun. They fair best when the temperatures stay between 60 and 65 degrees. So far this year the weather has been pretty sporadic, some days it’s cool and warm and humid all at the same time. While living in California we always referred to this time of year as June gloom. Our lettuce plants have grown enough where I can start picking the outside edges first. I enjoy the baby leaves the best as they are the sweetest. This year we planted romaine, red oak, speckled leaf, red sail, butterhead and loose leaf. In these pictures I have the chard and kale mixed in with the lettuce, they are the perfect size to now to add into salads.


Our blueberries are coming along nicely, this will be our biggest yield yet, if the birds do not get them first. We will be heading to the U pick-it farm next month. This artichoke plant (below) survived the winter and now has 2 chokes on it, cannot wait.


If you have a garden, please share, I am new at this and I am always looking for improvements. Thanks!


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Cantaloupe and Mozzarella Caprese Salad


Everything is so much calmer and clearer when you have the time to work in the dirt. Today I planted HollyHock Happy Light Seeds. They are pretty amazing towers of stalk with these huge bulbous flowers. The first part of the name, “holly” is derived from the name “holy”. The second part, “hock” came from the belief that the leaves helped to heal horses’ hocks that were swollen from their long travels. Below is a plant that came back from last year.


We went to a friend’s house last week-end and it was a bring your own appetizer party. That set me into a slight tailspin because if you check out my site there are not a lot of appetizers. After searching the internet I eventually came up with this delightful recipe. Normally tomatoes are used in a salad like this with a balsamic dressing. Here the smokiness of the salty prosciutto pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the melon. The dressing is a blend of white balsamic vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. The result is light and refreshing.

*This recipe is from Heidi at Foodiecrush.com, click here to go to her site for ingredients and directions.



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Pappardelle Noodles with Smoked Salmon, Dill and Capers


Now that we are back in Oregon for the summer our days are very busy. When it's time for dinner we are more than ready for a quick and substantial meal. Many hours are needed to get the house and yard back together. In January this year there was 20 inches of rain. That and some unusually heated days brings along a very aggressive set of weeds.

The great thing about this dish is you can use any type of pasta or grain, you can add peas, asparagus, spinach or even broccoli. Smoked trout would be wonderful too. Maybe a different sauce, it's up to you. This dish is an example of how one simple ingredient can be exchanged for another depending on what is available and what you like. Have fun with your food. This is not a new exotic dish, but this is my way of preparing this meal.

Makes enough for 2 to 3 people

Ingredients:

8 ounces of pappardelle noodles (I used dried from Trader Joe’s)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic scape (sliced thinly)(you can use shallots or garlic or half n half of both)
1 lemon, juice and zest
¾ cup of heavy cream
1 tablespoon tomato paste (I used the concentrated kind out of the tube) 1 tablespoon capers (rinsed)
½ pound smoked salmon
¼ to ½ cup of pasta water, if needed
2 tablespoons fresh dill, (chopped)
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

To prepare:

First cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water, mine took about 10 minutes (go by the package directions as it also depends on shape that you use). (You want the pasta to have a slight bite to it). Before done scoop out 1 cup of the water and set aside. Drain into a colander.

This next part goes pretty fast.

In a medium sized skillet on medium heat add olive oil and then garlic scape. Stir occasionally until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and zest, heavy cream, tomato paste, capers and salmon. Stir and simmer a few minutes.


Add pasta water if pasta is a little dry, then add dill. Finish with fresh cracked pepper. Enjoy!