May 2011

Mango Sticky Rice

Tuesday, May 31 2011 Cooking!

Last weekend I was cruising around southeast Portland, headed towards the Asian supermarket on 82nd to stock up on rice noodles and coconut milk when I got caught in a late-afternoon hunger slump. After striking out at the GF bakery, I navigated to Pok Pok in a hypoglycemic haze, placated by one consuming thought: Cha Ca La Vong. Quite possibly, my favorite meal anywhere, ever. And I don’t say that hyperbolically.

Putting my name on the list (who has a queue at 4pm on a Saturday?), I quasi-patiently fidgeted under the outdoor awning, dodging raindrops. Ten minutes later, I was escorted to a seat at the bar and presented with the lunch menu. The lunch menu? Boooo. No offense Pok Pok, you know I love you, but the lunch menu is a tease. And conspicuously lacking the delectable grande dame.

Not to be consoled with the fish sauce wings, I tucked my tail between my legs and escorted myself out, empty-handed. I retreated to the ‘burbs, eating pho and chatting with Jen on the phone about the rapture, which was surely imminent, right? (It was May 21st.) Once fed, my world was righted and I carried on to Fubonn.

I don’t know if you’ve spent much time in the rice stacks at an Asian market, but it is a practice in humility, intrigue and befuddlement. After an embarrassing amount of over-contemplation (something like obsessive without the compulsive) I grabbed two bags of sweet rice to try -one brown, one white. I haven’t opened the brown one yet, but here’s how the white has played out: deliciously.

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Roasted Red Pepper Harissa

Thursday, May 12 2011 Cooking!

My most notable memory of harissa was when it was served with my burger and fries, next to creme fraiche, as a clever substitute to catsup at Portland’s beloved Clyde Common. Its concentrated, rich flavor adds a bold punch to the most ordinary of foods: potatoes, burgers, eggs. It’s the sexy sidekick of condiments. After the briefest amount of internet research, I learned how simple harissa was to make—soak chiles and blend with spices, lemon, oil and salt—and it was instantly on the top of my food experiment list.

Harissa is a hot chili sauce originating from North Africa, consisting of any of several hot peppers (commonly birds eye chilis, but you could substitute for dried chiles available), and nearly always contains coriander, garlic, caraway and olive oil. Some recipes called for cumin seeds, mint, or regular red peppers, some did not. I love the smokey sweetness of roasted red peppers, so I decided to bulk up the recipe by using them. I’m not a big fan of caraway, so I skipped it this time. In the future I might use fresh cilantro, a bit of mint and a touch more garlic—but I love how my first attempt turned out.

I can already vouch for using this condiment’s sweet, tangy spiciness on burgers, with chickpea fries and on top of eggs in the morning.

Roasted Red Pepper Harissa

Makes about 1.5 cups

  • 2 red peppers
  • 4-6 dried birds eye chiles
  • 4-6 dried new mexico chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. sea salt
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon

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Jen’s Mid-Life Birthday Cake & Ice Cream

Thursday, May 5 2011 Adventures!, Cooking!

First, let me start by saying, Happy Birthday Jen!
You know I love you from head to toe. Cheers to you and your grand new year.
xox, Jenn

When Jen mentioned she was making flourless chocolate cake for her mid-life birthday, I remembered a recent pairing I’d seen for chocolate cake and lime sorbet. I attempted lime (coconut milk) ice cream last month for a dinner party and felt it just wasn’t tart enough. So, this time I amped up the lime juice. Jen’s surprise addition of raspberry syrup and fresh berries brought it all together, heralding the arrival of spring. And so, so pretty.

COCONUT LIME ICE CREAM
  • 1/2 c. + 2 Tbs. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 c. Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Guar Gum
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 – 14 oz. can Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 c. Water
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Stir together the sugar and guar gum to break up any lumps. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, whisk together 1/2 c. lime juice, sugar + guar, eggs, water, and 1/2 c. coconut milk. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until just barely simmering. Mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees). Remove from heat and strain through mesh sieve into bowl, to remove any egg threads or guar lumps. Whisk in the remainder of the coconut milk. Place in the fridge for 2-3 hours, until chilled thoroughly (if in a rush, can place in freezer for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes). Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mine takes 35 mins. In the last 5 minutes, add the remaining 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice.

Makes about 1 qt.

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Rhubarb Galette {First Attempt}

Tuesday, May 3 2011 Cooking!

Spring has sprung in scenic Portland, Oregon. Finally. The weekend ushered in blue skies, warm weather, patio brunches and a bounty of seasonal produce. Strolling through opening day of the King Farmers Market with Teresa, we were greeted with regal purple and white radishes, delicate papery-skinned red potatoes, fragrant basil bouquets and beautiful bold red spears of rhubarb. Rhubarb. I bought two pounds on the spot. How could I not?

Last Friday, Jen and I went to a book signing for Kim Boyce and Heidi Swanson at the Ace Hotel Cleaners. So, I had Kim’s Good to the Grain on the brain, with its gorgeous rhubarb galettes on the cover. After coming up blank for rhubarb recipes during a survey of my cookbook collection, I turned to the internet where I was able to track down Kim’s recipe and an adaptation from Smitten Kitchen. But, neither of these are gluten-free so I pulled in my favorite GF pie crust recipe for a little back-up support. With the kitchen windows flung open, the first sunburn of the season gilding my shoulders and Lynne Rossetto Kasper floating on the radio waves, I dove in.

For a first attempt, I would say these galettes were good. The rhubarb filling was, as it is wont to be, tart. I think the balance was pleasing but you might want to add 2-4 Tbs more sugar if you prefer your desserts on the sweet side. Next time I make these I’ll add some lemon zest to the rhubarb mix to brighten it up, too.

Here’s what I did, with some notes inserted. Consider this a draft, but a pretty good one. I’ll update it next time I make another batch, with any notable modifications.
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