Thursday, July 31, 2008

Restaurant Rambling: Oba

A co-worker and I decided on a whim to go out after work for happy hour.  Happy hour always makes me happy.  Unsure where to go, we decided on somewhere in the Pearl since it was such a beautiful day.  We decided on Oba since I was jonesing for a margarita and we hadn't been for a while.  

Oba serves Nuevo Latino cuisine.  It is an eclectic mix of dishes inspired by the Caribbean, Cuba, South and Central America, Mexico and the Southwest USA.  Lucky for us, happy hour at Oba is 4:00-6:30pm.  Woo hoo!!  I ordered my favorite....a prickly pear margarita.  It was so pretty....a girly pink color.  I didn't have my camera with me but my friend did.  I'll have to ask her for a copy of the photo.  They make the best margaritas here!  I also had the two baja grilled chicken tacos with fire-roasted salsa.  For $5.50, it was an early dinner steal! really hit the spot.  I had forgotten how much I love Oba!  

Edited to add the picture of the tasty prickly pear margarita!  Cheers!

555 NW 12th Ave
Portland OR 97209
(503) 228-6161

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What's Cookin?: Mango Ginger Floats

I bought this mango specifically to try this recipe.  It's been sitting on my counter, patiently waiting to achieve it's ripened goodness.  Just for the record, I never buy mango from the store here on the mainland.  Once you've tried a Hayden mango in Hawaii straight from the tree, you're ruined for life.  Hayden's are soooo juicy and sweet.  It's very hard to eat anything else.  But I did...just for recipe's sake!

Also, I substituted the mango ice cream for my favorite mango sorbet.  I already had some in the freezer.  I have a feeling it would taste way better with the ice cream due to the cream factor.  The sorbet didn't give it justice.  It was weird to have the mango puree settled on the bottom of the glass so I stirred it up and it tasted yummy mixed with the soda!    

Mango Ginger Floats
(recipe from Aug 2008 Gourmet magazine)

1 (3/4 lb) mango
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
1 pint mango ice cream 
about 16 oz. chilled ginger ale

Peel and pit mango, then chop.  Puree with lime juice and sugar in a blender until smooth.  Divide among 4 tall glasses.  Top with ice cream and pour in ginger ale.  

What's Cookin?: Razor Clams

So I bought a couple of packets of razor clams about a month ago when I saw them at Costco. I love razor clams. Whenever I see it on the menu at a local restaurant, I almost always order it. I can't seem to stay away from them. I had food sealed them and placed them in the freezer for another day. That day seemed to be today!

If you've never had razor clams, they are a real treat! They are long and very fleshy and sweet. I've never clammed for them fresh before so I couldn't tell you about cleaning them. I have seen instructions on the web if you decide to go that route. For me, it was pre-cleaned. Nice!

Basically I rinsed them in a colander and patted them dry. I made 3 plates. One with flour, one with 2 eggs beaten and the last with panko (japanese bread crumbs). I added garlic powder to the panko to give it extra flavor and it paid off. After drying the razor clams off, I salt and peppered them. I also sprinkled them with paprika. I rolled them in the flour then the egg. Then I rolled them around in the garlic panko to make a crust. Fry them on medium heat until golden brown on both sides. Be careful not to overcook them or they'll be chewy. Drain on paper towels and enjoy. Most people will serve with a tarter sauce but I like them just as is. They're delicious!! I served them with the zucchini I bought at the farmer's market.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince

OMG!!  My friend just clued me in!  The trailer is finally here!  I'm so excited to see the movie!!  I LOVE HP!!

Click here to see the new trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's Cookin?: Caprese Salad

After feeling guilty for eating those Milanos (I'll never admit to how many and you can't make me!), I decided to have a light dinner. The guilt was eating away at me....that, and I was too lazy to make anything. I had those beautiful vine ripened tomatoes and basil from the Farmer's market. I also bought some baby mozzarella from the store. I basically put some baby romaine lettuce on a plate, cut up my tomatoes & mozzarella and tore up the basil and layered them on. I sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and my favorite dressing. Mmmmm, a fast, simple and very tasty dinner!

Crafts: Yarn Octopus

Aren't these cute??  I just happened to bump into them today while on the net.  Awww....adorable!  I've never been to Wiki How before but apparently it's a virtual how-to.  Neato!!  Definitely a bookmarked link!

For instructions on making these cute critters, click here: Yarn Octopus.

Milano - evil reincarnated

Those Pepperidge Farm people....whoever created the Milano is pure EVIL!!  How could they?  Just picture that golden, light cookie with the DOUBLE layer of rich dark chocolate!  What's a girl to do?  I'm warning you, step away from the cookies.  Don't buy yourself!!  I of course, didn't have enough will power and was caught in the total impulse buy.  *sigh*  

Didja know that 2 measly cookies have 140 calories, 8 gm of fat (4gm saturated fat), 10 mg cholesterol and 17gm total carbs.  Wanna know the good thing?  Those 2 cookies you just ate have 2 gm protein!!!  Woo hoo!!  That just means extra cardio time at the gym.  Well if you ask me, it's well worth it!  Bwahahahaha!!    

Monday, July 28, 2008

Travels: Silver Falls National Park

Today purely on a whim, I decided to take a trip to Silver Falls for some photo opportunities.  I had heard a lot about the hiking trails and everyone says it's very scenic.  Living in Oregon for as long as I have, I can't believe I've never been.  I skipped the gym in exchange for the rugged outdoors (well sorta......marked trails...yeah).  

The drive from Portland to Silver Falls was about 1 hr 20 min.  Along the way the inner child in me kept saying "Are we there yet?".  Believe me, you'll think you're lost several times.  And trust me, you're not lost; you did not miss the road; and you should not turn around.  You will pass through a few small towns and you'll think it can't possibly be the way.  Believe is.  The route is fairly well marked.  Just keep your eyes peeled for signs with a waterfall on it and you'll know you're in good shape.  Hint: you'll have to pass through the town of Silverton on your way to the falls.  

Once you get there, the first parking lot you'll reach is the North Trail head lot.  I parked here (mainly because I didn't know there were more lots).  Purchase a day pass at the machine.  They cost a measly $3.  Place it on the driver's side dashboard and you're on your way.  

This is a beautiful hike and moderate in difficulty.  I started at the North Trail head and did the Canyon Trail or Trail of Ten Falls.  It is so named because on this trail, you will be able to see all 10 of the park's waterfalls.  The hike is about 7 miles and gains about 700 feet of elevation.  There are ways to skip falls and make the trek shorter.  Once I got to the end of the Canyon Trail at the South Trail head, I took the Rim Trail back to my car.  The entire trip took about 3 1/2 hours.   

The waterfalls are beautiful and the most spectacular ones are ones where you are able to walk behind the actual falls.  There are 4 falls that allow you this "amphitheater" quality.  The entire walk was filled with photo opportunities and there are some nice places to swim.  If you decide to hike this trail, wear shoes.  Some parts of the trail are wet and muddy.    

The photo above is of the South Falls.  
Click here for more photos: Silver Falls

Holy Macro Batman

So I've been eyeing the macro lens for some time now.  I thought I'd meticulously forge an attack by reading all the reviews to decide which to get.  60mm or 100mm?  Pros or cons?  After reading and reading (and it seems like everyone has an opinion).....I did like NIKE says and I just did it.  I went down to the camera store and chatted with the guy behind the counter.  Luckily for me, he was very knowledgeable.  He even let me tinker with the 50mm, 60mm and the 100mm.  Finally I decided on the 60mm.  I bought the Cannon EFS 60 mm f/2.8 Macro lens.  Of course, my guinea pig for all my camera purchases is my cat, Ehiku.  Luckily she's so well adjusted to the camera.  She doesn't care for the flash so I had to turn that off.  Once we got that out of the way, she was so photogenic.  She even let me take a picture of her freakazoid paw.  Awww.....isn't it cute??    

I am sold on the Macro.  For all you camera geeks who have been contemplating getting one, quick....put it on your wish list for Santa.  It truely rocks!!  Holly *hearts* the macro lens.  I'm such a tough sale aren't I?  For now, enjoy some pics of Ehiku.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's Cookin?: Easy No-Cook Freezer Jam

Mmmmm....raspberries!  I love them just by themselves.  However, a neighbor brought over a few pints.  OMG!  What to do with all these raspberries??  Mmm....freezer jam!

Easy No-Cook Freezer Jam

4 cups crushed fresh or frozen fruit or 3 pints of fresh raspberries (for best results, use apricots, berries, cherries, grapes, pears, plums and other tender fruit) 
**note: if using frozen berries, thaw and drain then mash)**  
1 1/2 c. sugar or SPLENDA (granular)
1 (1.59 oz) package Ball brand No Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin
5 (8 oz) freezer jars

Mash up your fruit and measure out 4 cups.  I used 3 pints of fresh raspberries and came out with the 4 cups of fruit.  In a small bowl, stir together sugar and fruit pectin until well blended.  Pour sugar and pectin mixture into a large bowl.  Stir in 4 cups of crushed fruit.  Continue to stir for about 3 minutes.  Ladle jam into clean jars to fill line.  Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes.  Refrigerate and enjoy for up to 3 weeks or freeze and keep for up to 1 year.  

These are the Ball brand Plastic Freezer Jars.  They have a twist on lid and stacks really well.  My recipe made a little more than the 5 (8oz. jar).  I think they make like 7 jars.  I placed the left overs in another container to enjoy now.  The jam was very yummy!!  I'll have to bake biscuits to enjoy them with.  Mmmm.....

What's Cookin?: Kabocha Pumpkin Seeds

Remember those yummy seeds you scooped out of the Kabocha pumpkin??  I really hope you saved them!  While they're still damp, separate the pulp from the seeds.  Once this is done, run the seeds until cold water in a strainer.  Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees and line with parchment paper or tin foil.  Spray with non stick cooking spray.    

Place pumpkin seeds in a single layer on the oiled sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and bake for about 25 minutes.  About 10 minutes into cooking, stir seeds around.  Once done cooking, cool seeds and store in an air tight container.

What's Cookin?: Kabocha with Pork

Yum! I love kabocha pumpkin. Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash that is very sweet. It is often sweeter than butternut squash. It can be used in a variety of recipes where butternut squash is used. Try roasting it with a browned butter sauce, use it as a stuffing for ravioli or use it in a casserole. I love when kabocha is served tempura style. Mmm!! My favorite though is a Japanese recipe where the kabocha is slow simmered until it is sweet and tender.

Kabocha with Pork
8 cups kabocha pumpkin (cut in 1 x 1 inch cubes)
2 thinly sliced pork loin (slice into thin strips)
1 (0.35 oz.) packet bonito flavored dashi
1 c. water
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. soy sauce (use a salty brand such as Yamasa or Kikoman)
pinch salt

Cut kabocha in half and spoon out the seeds. Save them for making pumpkin seeds later!! Cube kabocha into 1x1 inch cubes. Don't bother cutting off the skin of the pumpkin as it is tedious and will soften with cooking.

*** I browned the pork in a small pan with salt and pepper and threw the cooked pork into the pot to simmer. The pork didn't pick up the flavor well. I would recommend marinating the pork for a while in the sauce or simmering the pork for about 10-15 min in the sauce before adding the pumpkin. ***

Dissolve the dashi in 1 cup of water. Add brown sugar & soy sauce to the mixture and mix well until the dashi and sugar dissolves. Place kabocha in a large pot and pour sauce over it. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Heat on medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Brown pork in a pan over medium-high heat. Once cooked, add to pot. Simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until kabocha is soft and tender. If there is too much liquid left over, pour off. Serve with rice!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kitchen Gidgits & Gadgets

I love neat kitchen and food gidgits and gadgets.  Here's this week's picks:

1) Reusable aluminum bottles:  Aluminum bottles are a safe alternative to plastic bottles.  Recently there has been big concerns over bisphernol A that leaches from plastic water bottles.  Eww...  

I love the ones made by SIGG of Switzerland!  The one with Hello Kitty on it is uber cute!  However, due to the increased demand for SIGG bottle, their factories are behind schedule.  Their on-line store is no longer accepting orders.  However, you can find SIGG at some national retailers such as: REI, L.L. Bean, Patagonia, Whole Food Markets & Dick's Sporting Goods.  

Klean Kanteen also has a line of aluminum bottles.

Another option is the ones made by Japanese artist Shinzi Katoh at  These start at $15.  Apparently the artist's bottles are in high demand and buying them outside of Japan is difficult.  Very cute bottles!!  They were featured in Food & Wine Magazine.

2) Bento Boxes:  Okay if you grew up in Japan or Hawaii, you know what I'm talking about.  Who didn't have a cute bento box as a child?  My favorite was the Hello Kitty bento boxes that came withe the chopsticks or fork and spoon.  Ah...the good ole days.

OMG, and how cute are these musubi bento boxes??  These are made especially for your musubi.  The top is for your rice balls and the bottom can hold your main dish.  

For a more grown-up approach to the bento box, try Mr. Bento by Zojirushi.  This is a very contemporary take on the bento.  It comes with 4 separate trays that layer into a thermos for quick storing.  It's on the top of my wish list!!  

3) Corn on the Cob Dishes and Picks: Who doesn't love summer?  Fresh corn on the cob is the stuff of dreams.  A little messy, but oh so worth it!  How about splurging and buying those cute little corn dishes for your cobs?  Picks are also a bonus!  These are my favorites:

Sur la table Barbecue Folk Corn Holders: Aren't the heads and feet cute?  Mix and match for good times!

4) OXO Corn Stripper: If you managed to cook all of those corn on the cobs and have leftovers, why not get one of these?  They're really neat and can easily strip off plump, juicy kernels for soups or salads.  Talk about having your work cut out for you.   

5) Silicone Basting Brushes: These basting brushes are from Crate & Barrel.  I love these for grilling during the summer.  Who wants to mess with traditional brushes that are a pain in the butt to clean off.  These are wonderful.  They're heat resistant and very easy to clean!  Oh and's dish washer safe!  They come in 3 pretty colors and are only $2.95 each.

Farmer's Market: Zucchini, Tomatoes, Berries & Basil

So I ventured to the farmer's market again this morning.  I wasn't in search of anything in particular but managed to buy everything in general.  I picked up 2 different kinds of zucchini.  The lighter green one is kinda oblong in shape.  This one is delicious sliced and stir fried in olive oil and garlic.  Yum!!  I'm not sure what it's called though.  I just call it the tasty zucchini.  If you happen to see one at your farmer's market or grocery store, try it.  You can thank me later!  

My favorite tomato man was there also.  I have to remember to get the name of his business so I can give him props.  He has some of the tastiest tomatoes ever!  He even had heirlooms but there were so many people gathered around that I lost my patience and went for the regular beefy tomatoes.  I'm never disappointed!  

To go with my yummy tomatoes, I bought some basil.  I love making a very simple insalata caprese with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese.  I sprinkle a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and a drizzle of a 15 yr old balsamic vinegar I brought home from Italy.  Magnificent!  I may also make bruschetta since I have so much basil.  I was looking for a small bunch but I guess at the farmer's market they don't believe in small!  =0)  But look how yummy the basil looks.  It's so green and full and smells wonderful.  Doncha wish you had smell-0-vision?  

I debated long and hard as to whether to buy the berries.  My reason....I really want to make it to a U-pick farm this weekend.  But after thinking it over, I may not have time and to be honest, I really wanted to eat these pronto!  I got a pint each of raspberries and marionberries.  For those of you who have never heard of a marionberry, they are unique to Oregon.  They were developed at Oregon State University, in Marion county...thus marionberries.   Go Beavs!!  

I can't show you the other thing I bought cause I ate it.  *blush*  Two Tarts bakery was there, as they usually are.  I usually manage to walk by them after just peeking at the yummy tarts and pasties.  They specialize in mini or bite sized treats.  I decided to treat myself to one since they were only 75 cents a pieces and it was breakfast time.  After careful contemplation, I decided on a passion fruit cream.  Just think of 2 delicate passion fruit shortbread cookies with a delightful passion fruit cream filling.  OMG....heaven!!  I'm glad I bought it and started walking away because once it was gone, I wanted more!!  To view her assortment of treats, visit her website.  You realize this just gives me more incentive to return next week!  

Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture

Most people have heard of the Last Lecture made by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University.  I'm sure you've heard of this, even if the name doesn't seem familiar to you.  It was a You Tube sensation.  

Every year, CMU had a professor make a lecture....sort of a life lessons for the student body.  His lecture became so popular, it was also published as a best selling book called "The Last Lecture: A Love Story for Your Life".  Dr. Pausch was a computer science professor at CMU diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  This is his last lecture that was delivered to a packed house on Sept 17, 2007 (just 1 month after being given the grim prognosses of having only 3-6 months to live).  His topic was achieving your childhood dreams.  

Sadly, today Randy lost his battle with cancer.  If you haven't seen this lecture, please do so.  It is very inspiring and entertaining and delivered from the heart from a man who devoted his like to teaching others.  He was also invited to return to CMU to address the graduating class of 2008.

Click to view: 

Restaurant Rambling: Elephants Delicatassen

Ever have weird food cravings?  Okay so I admit it, I may have them more often that the "normal" person.  I must not be normal.  Or I may like food a little too much.  Anyways, I've been craving a pastrami reuben from Elephants for some time now.  I'm not sure it the grilled goodness?  The thinly shaved pieces of lean pastrami?  The tart of the sauerkraut?  The yummy melted cheese?  In anycase, I was totally craving one of these yummy sandwiches.  Luckily I was able to calm the craving but stopping buy for lunch. 

Elephants is now located on 22nd...right off of Burnside.  They have a neat retail store with expansive eats.  They have a desert section (I avoided this like the plague...but not quick enough.  I noticed some yummy lemon bars) with an assortment of cookies, bakes goods, cakes and tarts.  They also have a deli section with sides and main dishes for eating at the restaurant or taking to go.  They also have meats and cheeses, a soup bar, cold sandwiches and a grill.  Also in the corner is a tea/coffee bar and a wine bar.  They also have a chilled section with foods to go.  I love Elephants!   

Here's a parting shot of my delicious pastrami reuben.  I don't like rye bread so I asked for it on wheat and they were happy to comply.  Mmm.....can it be possible to still have a craving when you've already had what you craved for in the first place?  Hmmm......

Elephants Delicatessen
115 NW 22nd Avenue
Portland OR 97210
(503) 299-6304

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Restaurant Rambling: St. Honore Boulangerie

Mmmmm a french bakery in NW 23rd.  After having dinner next door at Patanegra, of course I had to suggest we just take a peek at the goodies next door.  When we arrived, they were almost closing.  Nooo......quick sneak in and order!!  

Because it was the end of the day, they didn't have much selection left.  However it wasn't hard for each of us to find a goody we liked.  In addition to pastries and bread, St. Honore serves sandwiches, entrees, soups and salads. 

My friends chose traditional french Eclair Cafes and the Gateau au chocolat.  I will have to ask them how they tasted as we each got our delicious treats to go.  After that dinner, we were all stuffed.  I decided on the apple chiboust.  Imagine a delicate pastry crust topped with apples and soaked in Pommeau de Normandie (apple wine).  As if that wasn't enough, the apple layer is topped by creme chiboust (a delicious blend of vanilla custard and meringue) and this layer is torched to provide and crispy burnt sugar crust. about good.  This desert is mind numbingly good.  Hands off....get your own desert!!    

St. Honore has 2 locations.  One on NW 23rd and the other in Lake Oswego.  Double the chances of enjoying their delicious treats!

St. Honore Boulangerie
2335 NW Thurman Street
Portland OR 97210
(503) 445-4342


315 1st Street Suite 103
Lake Oswego OR 97304
(503) 445-1379

Restaurant Rambling: Patanegra

I've been dying to try Patanegra for some time now.  Mmmm...spanish tapas.  After talking about it forever, a few friends and I finally made our way down for dinner.  The address is kinda misleading....either that or I'm really bad with directions.  It's not located directed on the main drag of NW 23rd street.  Rather, it's off of 23rd, up Thurman (behind St. Honore) and on 23rd PLACE!! 

The restaurant itself is very smartly decorated and rustic in feeling.  It immediately makes you feel welcome.  The wait staff are very friendly and make excellent recommendations.  Just ask them what their favorite dishes are and you won't be disappointed.  

The tapas menu is varied and quite honestly it was very hard deciding what to order.  Everything sounded so good.  The wine list is also very extensive.  Had I been in a wine tasting mood, I may have gone for it.  However, it was a lovely day and I felt more like a refreshing 
glass of sparkling lemonade. 

Our group of varied taste buds finally decided on the seafood paella and various mixed plates.  We had the tapanade w/ toast, salad with goat cheese, prawns with olive oil and garlic, sauteed mushrooms, croquettes and steak with peppers.  

The olive tapanade was very yummy!  The salad had a very nice and light dressing.  The goat cheese was not the usual crumbles, but rather 2 pieces served on 2 toasts on the salad.  The prawns were delicious.  The sauce had the perfect amount of spicyness to make the dish sing.  Dip your bread in the leftover sauce....yum!!  The mushrooms were delicate and smokey...perfect.  The croquettes were stuffed with cheese and chicken.  I didn't care for it too much.  The steak and peppers were cooked perfectly.  The paella was very very good.  It was a little on the salty side though.  But a nice taste with various seafood items.  Yummy!!  

Our feast was very delicious and we loved the assortment we had decided on.  We left with very full bellies and smiles on our faces.  Here's what was left over after the initial attack on the paella.  Don't worry, we gobbled the rest up.  

I am told that this is authentic Spanish fare.  If it is, I'm packing my bags and leaving on the next flight.  The food was very good and savory.  I will definitely be going back to sample more of the menu.  

1818 NW 23rd Place
Portland OR 97210
(503) 227-7282

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Restaurant Rambling: Yuzu

First of all finding this culinary gem tucked back in a Beaverton stripmall is your first test.  Yuzu is hidden in a stripmall with Best Teriyaki in Beaverton (off of 117th).  It's across from Red Robin.  If you're not looking close enough or if you blink, you might just miss it.  There isn't a big neon sign announcing it's spot.  There is only a rather non-descript door with a small stenciled sign that reads YUZU.  Step inside and you'd think you're in the wrong place.  It's a very small & dimly lit restaurant.  But alas, you've entered japanese heaven....      

Yuzu is a true izakaya (japanese tapas).  They serve an extensive menu of japanese style small tapas plates.  They have a large selection of sake also.  You can be as adventurous or "safe" as you like.  No matter what you order, I doubt you'll be disappointed.  Luckily for me, I was starving...having just done a 45 minute cardio routine at the gym.  I was ready for anything.   

Some of the delicacies I sampled: gyoza, grilled shitake mushrooms, kim chee spring rolls, tonkatsu wrapped in shisho leaves with an ume dipping sauce and thin slices of beef wrapped around green onions and grilled.  They were all delicious and each dish had strong, robust flavors.  

I loved the strange flavors of the kim chee spring rolls but they were very oily.  It tasted like kim chee (not spicy at all), cheese and maybe ground pork.  It was dark so I couldn't really identify what was in them but they were good!  I absolutely love ume so I'm a fan of the tonkatsu.  The sauce had just enough ume taste without overpowering the tonkatsu and shisho.  I'm not a green onion fan (in fact I detest all onions) but the beef wrapped green onions were fabulous with the light teriyaki sauce.  I shocked myself and ate the green onions, convincing myself it was spinach.  I didn't even taste taste buds were in shock at the delicate flavor of the beef.  All in all, a fabulous meal!! 

The only cons I can say is that it can get fairly busy and there is only one waitress.  However, if you're not in a rush and have dining partner to pass the time with, definitely check it out.  

Yuzu is open Monday - Friday until midnight.  Just perfect for a late night bite.  The are open until 9pm on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.  They serve dinner only.  I'll definitely be back for more yummies.  I noticed the cha su ramen on the menu.  Note to self: must try that next time.  Oh and in case you're wondering about pictures.  I was so hungry that I forgot!  (doh!)

4130 SW 117th Ave
Beaverton, OR 97005
(503) 350-1801

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's Cookin?: Miso Glazed Halibut & Eggplant

When I was at Uwajimajas the other day, I spotted some of my favorites. I love Japanese eggplant. As a kid growing up, my grandpa had a vegatable garden. He would always have the yummiest nasube. My favorite is just to grill them till they're nice and soft, split them open and pour some shoyu on it. Mmmm....goes great with grilled fish.

Anyways, next to the Japanese eggplant was the Chinese variety. Although less vibrant in color, they were cheaper. Hmmm....why not. I gave it a whirl. So I took my Chinese eggplant home. Now what to do with it? I also bought some fresh halibut that day. I found a quick and easy recipe for a miso sauce and decided to use it on both the eggplant and the fish.

Eggplant Misoyaki
adapted from a recipe from Roy Yamaguchi

1/4 c. miso
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. sake (or beer)
4 Japanese (or Chinese) eggplants, halved lengthwise
1/4 c. olive oil

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Combine the miso, sugar, mirin & sake in a bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Score the eggplant halves in a crisscross pattern, about 1/16 inch deep and 1/2 inch apart. Brush or drizzle with olive oil. Bake eggplant, flesh side down, for about 4-5 minutes or until cooked halfway through.

Flip eggplant over so flesh is facing up. Paste the eggplant with the miso mixture. Turn boiler on. Cook under the broiler, flesh side up and cook for another 4-5 minutes or until it is caramelized.

I made a double batch of the miso mixture and baked up some halibit. I basted them at the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Yummy!!

Restaurant Rambling: Genie's Cafe

I've had a craving for breakfast for the entire weekend.  Unfortunately, I worked the evening shift this weekend and by the time I get up in the morning...let's just say it's definitely not breakfast time.  For some reason I've really been craving an eggs benedict.  Drastic times calls for drastic measures.  I called my friend to meet me for breakfast.  To repent for my soon to be caloric nightmare, I also ask my friend to go to the gym after breakfast.  

We went to Genie's Cafe on SE Division.  They have a very yummy breakfast menu.  Because it was a Monday wasn't very crowded.  After hemming and hawing over the menu, I decided on the Tasso ham eggs benedict.  In my defense, I couldn't decide between that and the bacon one.  BACON....YUM!  I have to say the Tasso ham was delicious.  It's a cajun type ham and it's supplied by Viande.  My partner in crime had the delicious biscuits and gravy with the fresh mushroom gravy.

And just for the record, I did end up going to the gym after that.  Although, I will admit, my cardio workout we very weak.  I was still soooo full that I couldn't really give it my all.  Oh well, better luck next time.  I don't regret it for a moment.  I dream of Genie's....

Genie's Cafe
1101 SE Division St
Portland OR 97202
(503) 445-9777

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Uwajimaya Dragon Fruit

After having my yummy ramen noodle lunch, I decided to walk it off in Uwajimaya.  I love this asian food store.  They always have lots of specialty foods from Japan and Hawaii.  They have a great selection of produce and fish.  They even have poke in the fish section.  The deli serves plate lunches.  I like the hawaiian plates here.  I can sure make a piggy outta myself.  They also have manapua and japanese bentos.

However, what really caught my attention today was the yummy exotic fruit they had.  They had passion fruit or lilikoi, lychee, sapote and a whole bunch of other exotic fruits.  Very cool!!   I've never seen dragon fruit before and was intrigued by it's exotic flair and pretty colors.  What is dragon fruit anyway?  I've only had it dried.  Anyone who knows me knows that I did end up buying the lychee in the picture.  I can't resist!  These were green but surprisingly sweet.  They're from China.  *sigh* Sooo not like Hawaii lychee but at this point, I'll take what I can get!


Restaurant Rambling:Hakatamon

So it was a Saturday afternoon and I was totally craving saimin.  Well here in Portland there aren't many places to find saimin.  We have an L&L but I don't like their saimin at all.  I feel cheated cause I can make a far better bowl of noodles at home.  So I was on the prowl.  Don't ask my why I was craving saimin....I just was.  

I had heard that Hakatamon had cha su ramen.  Hakatamon is the small Japanese restaurant located next to Uwajimaya in Beaverton.  I believe they used to be located on SW 117th but recently took up residence next to Uwajimaya.  Sure enough, cha su ramen was on the menu.  

Anyone who know me knows that I can't go somewhere where they serve sushi and not get salmon nigiri.  So of course I order one of those also....oink oink!!  The ramen was okay...the noodles weren't much to write home about.  The broth was could have had more flavor and zip.  The pieces of cha su stole the show.  They were so soft and melt in your mouth good.  My sushi was delicious!  The salmon were nice large pieces of fish hanging off of their rice beds.  Perfect...just as they should be!  Oh and bonus...Hawaiian music playing in the background!  

10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy
Beaverton OR 97005
(503) 641-4613

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What's Cookin?: Mediterranean Couscous

This is a very quick and easy dish to make. My inspiration for this was a sun dried tomato couscous I bought at the deli at New Seasons. This is my attempt to recreate it. First of all, you'll have to find Israeli couscous which is larger pearl shaped couscous. It is very different from traditional couscous. I used the Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend. It has Israeli couscous mixed with green & red orzo, baby garbanzo beans & red quinoa.

Mediterranean Couscous

1/2 package Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend
1 small can chicken broth
1 Tbsp. butter
1/3 c. sun dries tomatoes (dried version, not the one packed in oil)
boiling water (to reconstitute tomatoes)
feta cheese
marinated mushrooms
various greek olives

I made the couscous according to the package directions. Bring 1 3/4 cups (or 1 small can) chicken broth to a boil in a medium pot. Add 1 Tbsp Butter and stir in 1 1/4 c. (about 1/2 a package) of the grain into the pot. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover for 10 minutes. Remove from heat when done.

While your grains are cooking, place sun dried tomatoes in a bowl and pour hot water over them. Let them sit for about 10 minutes or until soft. Drain and chop if needed. Chop your mushrooms and olives into bite sized pieces.

When done, mix all the ingredients together. Sprinkle with feta cheese to taste. This is an excellent side dish for chicken or fish.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's Cookin?: Stuffed Flank Steak Pinwheels

Stuffed Flank Steak Pinwheels

2/3 c. sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil, try finding the dried ones)
2 c. boiling water
1 lb. flank steak, trimmed of fat
1 clove garlic, minced
3 oz. herbed cheese spread (ie: Boursin)
1 c. baby spinach leaves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
15 or so button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c. Cabernet Sauvignon wine
kitchen twine

Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small bowl and pour 2 c. boiling water over them. Let them stand for about 10 minutes or until soft. Drain and chop. Meanwhile, place steak between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap and pound each side of the steak with the pointed side of a meat mallet until the steak is an even 1/4 inch thickness. Salt and pepper the steak well.

Align steak so that the grain is running horizontally. Rub garlic all over one side of the steak. Spread cheese lengthwise in a 3 inch wide strip down the middle of the steak. Top with sun dried tomatoes and spinach. Stating at one edge of a long side, roll the steak up tightly, tucking in the filling as you go. Secure with pieces of string.

Carefully rub a bit more salt and pepper all over the outside of the roll. Turn the roll so the overlapping edge is on top. Use at least 4 pieces of kitchen twine and secure steak roll in four places. Slice between the twine to make 4 pinwheels. Trim the edges if needed to keep them uniform.

Drizzle some olive oil into your skillet and cook the steak pinwheels on medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes per side for medium rare. Use a spatula when turning the steak to prevent too much filling from falling out. After you flip the steak, add mushrooms to the pan and let them cook. Remove the steak from the pan once done and let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving. Remove twine before serving.

Continue to cook the mushrooms in the beef drippings. Saute for about 3-4 minutes and at the end, pour in the wine and let it reduce about a minute or two. Serve the steaks with the mushrooms.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Restaurant Rambling: Andina Rose Wine Dinner

Some friends and I went to a Rose Wine Dinner at Andina Restaurant here in Portland. Andina was 2005 Restaurant of the Year. I've always loved the food there. They serve Peruvian cusine. My favorite part of dining there is sitting in the bar with a cocktail and sampling the many yummy tapas they have.

The wine tasting featured 22 different rose wines with different grapes from around the world. Among the wines were some from Argentina, Australia, Austria, California, France, Oregon, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. It was accompanied by an assortment of some of Andina's finest tapas. I went home with a very full belly. The entire event was only $50 plus gratuity. Not bad for an amazing evening!!

Now if you're ever headed to Andina, I would recommend you skipping dinner. I've had dinner there once and it was really good. However, I *heart* their tapas. I love going to the bar and sipping on an exotic drink while chowing down on an assortment of small plates of tapas. Not sure what to order? The wait staff will chime in on their favorites. Here's mine: Tabule de cereales andinos, esparragos peruanos, tortilla de patata y alioli de aji amarillo, yuca rellena (save the extra cheese for bread dipping!!), pimiento piquillo relleno, musciame de atun, wantan de mariscos, conchas a la parmesana, chicharron de langostinos......okay so I have a lot of favorites!

Andina Restaurant
1314 NW Glisan St
Portland OR 97209
(503) 228-9535

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Farmer's Market: Berries, Apricots, Cherries...Oh My!!

Have you noticed that I absolutely love Farmer's markets??  It's one of the best things about summer.  I'm really addicted!  Every week is an adventure because new and delicious goodies always pop up.  I love the Pacific NW...we have some of the most amazing produce ever!!

At the start of the market season, you can usually find lots of plants and usually vegetables. Once July hit, I try to make it to the market every weekend.  This is when all the fruits are in season.  This week I got some beautiful blackberries and raspberries.  They were so good!  I'd like to go berry picking at some point this summer.  But until I can get my lazy butt in gear, I'll have to settle for the ones at the market (which aren't bad at all!).     

Apricots are also coming into season now.  I let them ripen on the counter for a few days (if I can keep my paws off of them for that long). They were so sweet and tasty!  Must get more next time!  

Mmmm....I love cherries too!  My favorite cherries are Rainer's..hands down.  Apparently this year wasn't a great cherry season in Oregon.  The late frost got most of them.  However, we were lucky to get these babies from Baird Farms.  Barid's is my favorite cause they have cherries and later they have the best nectarines and peaches.  Stay tuned for those!  These Rainiers were so sweet.  I ate half the bag in one sitting. *sigh* Now I must wait until next week's market.