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Posts tagged ‘Portland’

cedar plank salmon with spearmint sauce

Have you wondered if all we ever eat around here is salad and vegetables and the occasional dessert? no, no, not so! During salmon season (I’m almost embarrassed to say) it’s on our table maybe as much as once a week. Our local newspaper’s food section had a wonderful-sounding salmon recipe last week that I was itching to try. We had a pot brimming with spearmint begging to be crushed and its aromas set free. It was fated.

This dish was so beautiful, so incredibly aromatic that (and now I truly am embarrassed) I was far too impatient to take photos of it. There was going to be no stage-setting. No turning it this way and that and getting the light just so. There was going to be no waiting. I mean none! So here you have it folks. Just as it came off the grill and its fragrant sauce was ladled on. Just before we gobbled it all up, smacking our lips and planning when we’d eat it again next…

This dish was, to my mind, absolutely perfect as it was. No changes were made to the original recipe, other than to halve it since we weren’t feeding a crowd. Therefore, we owe a debt of thanks to chef David Padberg of Portland’s Park Kitchen for the recipe. I’d hug him if he’d have it!

Salmon fillets steeped in the aromas of  cedar smoke and steam, then ladled with a variation on salsa verde, made with fresh spearmint leaves. An incredibly delicious flavor combination.

(I hope you won’t be off-put by the addition of chopped anchovies to the sauce. Those and the capers add the perfect bit of salt & fish to complement the salmon…and their flavors were not at all over-bearing.  The garlic and hot chili seeds added the perfect hint of heat. The lemon zest – oh you know! Let’s get on with it…

(I’ve halved the recipe for you below as most won’t be feeding 10 to 12. The above-pictured salmon fillet was 1 pound and we had sauce left over. It fed 2 generously  –  Guinea Pig loves his salmon – with enough left over for lunch the next day.)

Cedar Plank Salmon with Spearmint Sauce

(5 to 6 servings)

Sauce:

  • 3 anchovies, finely chopped (if using salted anchovies, rinse them thoroughly first)
  • ½ cup tightly packed fresh spearmint, finely minced
  • ½ cup tightly packed fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, finely minced
  • ¼ cup finely minced shallots
  • Grated zest of about 1½ lemons
  • 2 smallish cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin  olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste

the Salmon:

  • 1 untreated cedar plank
  • 2 pound whole salmon fillet
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1½ teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar

To make the sauce: In a medium bowl, mix together the anchovies, herbs, capers, shallots, lemon zest, garlic red pepper flakes and olive oil. Chef Padberg says to then add lemon juice to taste and allow sauce to sit for at least 1 hour for flavors to meld before serving. I let the sauce sit for quite some time before adding the juice. I waited to add the lemon juice until the salmon went on the grill as I didn’t want the vibrant green to change. Makes nearly 1 cup of sauce. 

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green salad with blueberries, kiwi & goat cheese

For at least the next several weeks we have a three-part kitchen. The refrigerator is still where it belongs, but next week will be heading to the garage. Our prep space is on a long craft table set up in the dining room in front of the window – where until recently I took photos to share with you. We have the bare necessities there – the sorts of things you’d likely find at a campsite – well, okay, maybe an RV park, minus the generator. The clean up space (and the nearest water) is in our laundry room, about 100 yards (or more) away from everything. That’s also where we keep our espresso machine, because how could we consider going camping without it?

Between the clean-up space and the prep space are some stairs. On this side of the stairs are our dogs. On the other side of the stairs, a demolition crew going in and out the front door. Separating the two, at the base of the stairs, is a dog gate that I climb over with arms full of food, cutting board, salad bowl, etc etc etc. If you had a few minutes and you’re into pratfalls, you’d get a kick out of it. I’m bringing armloads of stuff to my office to prepare a salad and then to photograph it. So as you can imagine, there are a lot of “steps” involved in preparing something around here, especially something to share with people of such enormously good taste as yourselves. A lot of “foot-steps” that is. Apart from that, we’re keepin’ it simple around these parts. Here it is another Wegetable Vednesday and the show must go on!

This morning I headed to another one of Portland’s Farmers’ Markets, and this time I brought big girl camera and cash. This market too is on Portland’s park blocks, but smaller, cozier than last week’s. And, sadly, no fiddles. But there were glorious flowers and loads of beautiful vegetables and herbs to choose from.

I’m kind of a freak for salads, so I head to the greens first. But I’m apprehended by the perfume of fresh bouquets of mint and tender pillowy leaves of basil. And the greens, half of them were shades of purple! How could I resist? Another vender was selling goat cheese. Into the basket. (See those orange beets in the photo above? Those made it home too, but didn’t make it to the salad.) What did make it into the salad: the greens & the purples, the goat cheese, mint and basil, some plump bursty blueberries – and kiwi just ripe, back  at our campsite. They got tossed into a bowl, drizzled with olive oil and (blueberry infused) balsamic. But never mind if yours isn’t blueberry flavored, any balsamic you love will do! A little salt and pepper, glorious! Took a few photos then feasted simple!

(No amounts will be specified – just wing it! Have fun! We’re camping!)

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passionate valentine martini

Let me preface the post by saying what you all already know. I am no mixologist. (If you’re looking for a man who knows his spirits, that would be Greg, affectionately known as Rufus. He and wife Katherine would welcome you with open arms if you’d like to pay them a visit.) And then there’s my blogging buddy Smidge  (who has a perfectly beautiful  blog!) – Smidge published a post today of a gorgeous blood orange martini. Completely out of my league,  I go barreling forward! I don’t know a lot about drinks, but I do know what my mouth likes, and my mouth loves this.

We have a favorite restaurant in Portland. Nuevo-Peruvian, Andinas.  They offer a sumptuous menu of foods you won’t find prepared quite like this anywhere, outside Peru;  theirs is a diverse menu, reflecting the diverse cuisine of a country that is on the sea, in the Andean mountains, and on the wide high planes. Andinas offers something for every appetite and every palate.  The walls there are  painted in russets, oranges, mahogany and deep purples;  hung from them are gorgeous photographs of Peruvians in brilliantly woven textiles, large hats, heart-splitting smiles! It’s noisy. It smells divine. Service is wonderful. And there’s this drink that I think I come close to dreaming about. It’s name is sacsayhuamán.  Shall I give you a minute while you try to pronounce it? Or shall I just tell you everyone calls it Sexy Woman, which comes awfully close.

Pureed Passion Fruit ~ Habañero-infused Vodka ~ Sugared Rim

I’m afraid that’s all I know about it…apart from the fact that it manages, like no drink I’ve ever had,  to be slightly sweet, slightly tart, a teeny bit  h o t, very cold and very sexy. Do you ever shudder with delight over the taste of something? (Please tell me I’m not alone in that!)  So it seemed right that I play with it a bit at home, tweak it just slightly to make it even prettier and just the thing to be sipped with your valentine.

Several years ago we went on a hunt for pureed passion fruit. I checked every local market before going on-line. We found several sources, but from what we could tell they all manage to be quite expensive. (That is, if you think $75 dollars is too much to pay for shipping!) But on a recent trip to a local market, I found the whole fresh passion fruits all snuggled up against the papayas and star fruits.  I picked up a slew of them and brought them home to ripen. They’re odd things…ripe when they turn from a beautiful smooth greenish-purple to a deeply wrinkled, dried-up (or so it seems) purple handball. These are on their way, but not yet ready.

When they’re ripe, you open them up and find it’s mostly seed in there, with a little pulp, but a perfume escapes that’s so floral and exquisite you want to slurp it on the spot, no spoon.

Scoop out the contents and push through a sieve, holes small enough to hold the seeds back, large enough to let the pulp and juices through. It’s worth working hard to get every delicious bit.

Then, the tweak, add the deep red of blood oranges and you’ll have most of what you need for a ~

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chai for two, & two for chai

We read the other day that locally-based Tazo Teas will be pulling up stakes and leaving Portland for a colder and damper clime. (I know, you thought that not possible. Portland gets such a bad rap.)  We’ll still be able to buy their teas of course, but we’ll be sorry to see them go. Having Tazo in our backyard is a bit like a blanket thrown over the back of the couch, or a delicious book on the nightstand – a bit of a comfort –  there, should you need it. The building that houses Tazo is striking in its simplicity, spare in its details, but rich, warm and inviting. Is there something subliminal in its design that makes one suddenly crave a steaming fragrant cup of tea? Wait here, I’ve got just the ticket!

I’m not claiming to be an expert, not by any stretch, but I did learn from one. My friend Amit from Delhi taught me how chai was made in their kitchen back home and I’ve been making it in ours ever since. It’s very simple to do and I predict you’ll never go back to those cartons of chai after tasting this one. Take ten minutes of your time before you sit down to address your holiday cards, or wrap your gifts, or pay your bills. If your attitude is running a bit sour, you might try chai. A hug around your heart, held in a steamy pot. (I know. Ridiculous you say. But only because you haven’t tried it yet.)

For those who’ve never enjoyed the treat that chai is – imagine steaming milk (cow’s milk, soy, rice, coconut – whatever your preference) – into it fragrant cardamom, allspice, freshly ground pepper and grated fresh ginger root – allow it all to steep so that the milk itself is imbued with all the fragrance and warmth these spices impart – then the tea (black or green or a combination of the two) for the last 3 minutes. Strain and serve. Warm your hands, warm your soul.

(And though I’ve strongly advocated for your chai to be served steaming hot, I can tell you that over ice in the summer, it’s refreshingly delicious and wonderful!)

Chai for Two

  • 2 cups milk (I’ll use any milk, but for chai I think soy might be my personal favorite.)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root (see NOTE)
  • sugar to taste (see NOTE)
  • 2 teaspoons tea (see NOTE)

Directions:

Into a medium saucepan, over low heat measure the milk of your choice and water. Add allspice, cardamom, freshly-ground pepper. Grate the ginger, measure and add. Bring the pot slowly to just steaming, stirring frequently. (Don’t allow soy, rice or coconut milk to boil as it will separate which is never pretty.) Turn heat to lowest setting or turn off entirely. Spill the tea(s) over the steaming milk. Stir once then leave undisturbed for 3 minutes. (After 3 minutes, the bitterness of the tea leaf begins to leach into your brew.)

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the chai of its solids.

This will cool it off some, so return to the pot and gently rewarm. (Again, careful not to boil.)

~ ~ ~

Serve steaming. Or chill, and serve over ice.

See below for NOTES on Ginger, Sugar and Tea. Read more