Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's Bakin?: Chinese Almond Cookies

These cookies are one of my favorites. I love the light almond flavor and the flaky cookies! I baked some for holiday gift-giving. I was asked what the red dot was, good luck? Anyone else wanna venture a guess?
Chinese Almond Cookies
Yields 6 dozen cookies

3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. shortening (Crisco)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. almond extract
red food coloring or sliced almonds

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Sift flour, sugar, baking soda & salt into a large bowl.
3) Mix in shortening and knead thoroughly for about 8-10 minutes
4) Combine egg and almond extract & beat slightly. Stir into flour mixture & mix well.
5) Shape dough into balls, using 1 Tbsp of dough for each. Place onto ungreased baking sheets & make a depression in the tops with your thumb.
6) Dip the blunt end of a chopstick into the red food coloring and place a dot of color in the center of each cookie (or just place a sliced almond in the center).
7) Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes until very lightly browned.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wine Tasting: Domaine Drouhin

We stopped at one more winery while off on our adventure. Domaine Drouhin makes fabulous pinot noir. The one that really grabbed me today was the Chardonnay. I ended up buying 2 bottles to take with. They have a beautiful tasting room and a nice porch with views of the vineyards below.

Wine Tasting: Sokol Blosser Winery & Erath Winery

While my friend from Hawaii was here, I took her wine tasting. One of my favorite's is Sokol Blosser. I've been before and was so impressed that I signed up for their wine club. I've never been to the winery during fall. I guess I never knew that the grape leaves also change colors. It was beautiful out there! The fields were bursting with golden intensity! Lovely!

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's Cooking?: Shrimp Santorini in Tomato & Caper Sauce & Gigantes (Greek Lima Beans)

I've never been a big fan of seafood in red sauces. It just seemed unnatural to me. However, when I was in Greece we spent a few nights on the island of Santorini. One of the things Santorini is known for (besides its white washed houses, beautiful blue skies, amazing sunsets, etc) is it's "waterless" tomatoes. These tomatoes are amazing! When I left Santorini, I had hoarded bags of these delightful sun-dried goodies! I also loved their shrimp cooked in tomato sauce. It was delicious! Even I can be converted!

One night I was craving a good home-cooked Greek meal. Here are two great dishes. I know the bean side dish doesn't go well with the shrimp but I was trying to recreate the one I had in Crete. It was amazing!

Shrimp Santorini in Tomato & Caper Sauce
Adapted from
Serves 4

1 1/2 c. diced onions
2 Tbsp. olive oil
freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices (or 1 1/2 c. fresh diced tomato)
1 1/2 c. water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. oregano
3 Tbsp. minced sun-dried tomatoes, reconstituted or in oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
1 1/2 - 2 Tbsp sugar (or to taste)
3 Tbsp capers, salted but soaked in water and rinsed to removed excess salt
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 lb. raw shrimp, shelled & deveined
lemon wedges (optional)

Saute the onions in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season lightly with salt & freshly ground black pepper. (Don't oversalt at this stage. The capers have a lot of salt so season after the sauce is done and you've tasted it). Cook onions until they start to turn golden brown. Add the white wine & boil until it is reduced by about half.

Stir in tomatoes, water, bay leaf & oregano. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes or until the sauce thickens. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water. My sauce was a little watery so I added the tomato paste). Add the sun-dried tomatoes & capers. Mix well and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste & sugar to taste.

Wash and dry the shrimp. Season them lightly with salt & pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer & add the shrimp. Cook just until the shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes total. Serve immediately with chunks of feta cheese and plenty of crusty bread for mopping up the sauce. I served it over spaghetti. Yum!

Gigantes (Greek Lima Beans)
from: (stamarex)

1 (16 oz.) package dried lima beans (I was in a rush so used canned beans)
2 (16 oz.) cans chopped tomatoes with juice
1 c. olive oil (I only used about 3/4 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
sea salt to taste
1 tsp. chopped fresh dill

1) Place the lima beans in a large saucepan. Pour enough water to fill to 2 inches above top of the beans. Allow to soak overnight. If using canned beans, empty and rinse 2 cans of giant lima beans or Cannellini beans in a collander.

2) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

3) Place the saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low & simmer 20 minutes. Drain beans. Pour the beans into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Add the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt & dill & stir well.

4) Bake in preheated oven for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water if the mixture appears dry.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Restaurant Rambling: Andina

I've talked about Andina before, again without pictures. It's a fabulous Peruvian restaurant in the trendy Pearl district of Portland. The food here is amazing. It makes me want to pack my bags and head to Peru!!

A friend was visiting from Hawaii. She and I had gone to college together. It's been a long time since she's been back to Portland. She stayed with me for a few nights. We literally ate our way through the city! I took her to a few of my favorite eats. Of course, Andina was on the list of places to do.
They start you off with a wonderful bread basket with 3 amazing dipping sauces ranging from mild to spicy! Yum!

Yuca Rellena (cheese stuffed yuca with an aji Amarillo & cheese sauce)

Wantan de Mariscos (fried seafood wontons served with aji Amarillo tamarind sauce)
Chicharron de Langostinos (crispy golden prawns studded with quinoa served with huacatay-peanut sauce)

Conchas a la Parmesana (bay scallops baked with parmesan cheese and lime butter)
Pulpo a la Oliva (tender octopus slices cupped in fresh endives with Botija olive sauce)

Pimento Piquillo Relleno (piquillo peppers stuffed with cheese, quinoa & Serrano ham)

Yes, that is a lot of food for 2 people but we were 2 hungry people. We were sooo full after that but the food here is so amazingly good! My friend's favorite was the stuffed peppers. They are excellent! I can't decide on my favorite. They were all so good!

One of my favorite parts of dining here is not only the food and ambiance but the owner will often come back and go from table to table to check on you. She's so sweet and humble. It adds just the right touch to the restaurant!

1314 NW Glisan
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 228-9535

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Restaurant Rambling: Yuzu

Don't let the tiny stenciled sign on the door fool you. This restaurant packs a punch! I've blogged about Yuzu before, although there were no pictures. This time I took a few photos. This is a very tiny Japanese restaurant. They specialize in Japanese small plates or tapas. The food here is delicious!

A friend was visiting and I took him here. He loves Japanese food! These are some of the dishes we tried:
Butakaku (slow cooked pork with sweet soy flavor) $6.50
Gyu negima (sliced ribeye beef wrapped around green onions w/ teriyaki sauce) $9.50
Kim Chi Harumaki (deep friend kim chi spring rolls) $4.95
Buta shishohasami-age (deep fried pork cutlet with shisho leaves and ume sauce) $7.50
My friend's favorite dish was the butakaku. It was so well cooked it just melted in your mouth. It was so good that we ended up ordering 2 orders because 1 just wasn't enough!
The food here is fabulous! Be sure to bring friends because the food is best shared over drinks!

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Restaurant Rambling: Pike Place Chowder

When I think of Seattle, I think seafood and CHOWDER! Yum! It's a totally must when going there. Pike Place Chowder has some of the most delicious chowder in town. And bonus, it's at the Pike's Market!
It's a very small place so if you see a table, run and grab it! We were lucky enough to grab a spot. Decision time. Which chowder to try? There's so many yummy choices: New England clam chowder (one of the nation's best they boast), smoked salmon chowder, southwestern chicken & corn chowder or the manhattan clam chowder. If you can't decide, they make it easy for you with a 4 cup chowder sampler for $10.75.

I got the smoked salmon chowder & my friend got the New England clam chowder ($6.45 each) and we took turns switching bowls. Yummo!! Excellent chowder! We also split the dungeness crab roll ($11.95).

I was stuffed after we were done but it was soooo good!

Pike Place Chowder
1530 Post Alley
Seatlle, WA
(206) 267-2537

Travels: Seattle, WA

This was a quick day trip back in September. I love driving through Seattle. Here's the cityscape and Qwest field.
We stopped and wandered Pike's Market. I love walking through there!!
The produce is amazing here! I love all the pretty colors! Oh and the pretty peppers!
Here's the famous fish guys! And we can't forgot the icky monk fish.

Love ya Seattle!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Restaurant Rambling: Hapa Grill

I went to the dentist today. I hate going to the dentist. I always dread that he'll find a cavity and whip out the drill. Even the sound of the drill makes me cringe. Yuck! But I'm happy to report no cavities! I was set free for another 6 months.

In celebration, I was craving a loco moco. For those of you who are not familiar, a loco moco is a concoction from Hawaii. It will make any cardiologist cringe. It's rice, a hamburger patty, a fried egg and lots of gravy. It's usually accompanied by the Hawaii staple, macaroni salad.

Well I was craving one but was lazy and thus limited to driving distance only. I remembered this place called Hapa Grill. I had stopped there once before and the food was ok. Here's my loco moco ($7) with a side order of kim chee.

I like to add some hot sauce on top first and ground pepper. Yum! It wasn't quite as good as the ones back home but really comforted me after my traumatic dental appt. Go out and try one today! You'll thank me later!

Hapa Grill
14625 SW Teal Blvd
Beaverton OR 97007
(503) 590-7800

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What's Cooking?: Portuguese Sausage Kale & Roasted Baby Potatoes with Herbs

I had never really had kale before. I'm sure I've been served it at a restaurant but knowing what it was, I picked around it. Growing up in Hawaii, we didn't really have kale. It just sounded bad. I was flipping through a foodie magazine and there was an article about kale. The writer was describing her bad experience as a child with the vegetable which made her cringe as an adult. She described having to eat it because a friend made it as a side dish and she loved it. Hmmm....I decided to give it a chance. How bad could it be?

Originally I was going to saute the kale with onions and garlic but thought about the bacon I had in the fridge. Mmmm...everything tastes better with bacon. While in the fridge I found a leftover piece of Portuguese sausage. I thought I'd use it up. It turned out to be yummy! I guess now I'll have to add kale to my fall/winter side veggie line-up.

Portuguese Sausage Kale

1 bunch of Italian kale (also called "Lacinato" or dinosaur kale), coarsely chopped into 1 inch pieces
2-3 clove garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, diced finely
leftover Portuguese sausage or bacon, diced
extra-virgin olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large saute pan or pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until they are tender and transparent. Add garlic and saute for a minute. Add the Portuguese sausage or bacon. When the meat is cooked, add the kale and saute in the leftover olive oil and meat drippings. Cover your pan/pot & saute until the leaves are wilted and the stems are cooked. Stir frequently. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Roasted Baby Potatoes with Herbs
Adapted from: (Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis)

1 lb. small white potatoes, scrubbed
1 Tbsp. Herbs de Provence
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut baby potatoes in half and place in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the herbs, garlic & oil together until blended. Pour over the potatoes and coat well. Sprinkle generously with salt & pepper and toss to coat.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Transfer the potatoes to the baking dish, spacing them evenly apart. Roast the potatoes until they are tender and golden (about 30-45 minutes). (Note: if you roast the baby potatoes whole, it will take about 1 hr). Flip them every 15 minutes to prevent them from burning. Serve hot or warm.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What's Cooking?: Meaty Bolognese Sauce

I love tomato sauces and I love pasta! These's a pasta bolognese at a local chain restaurant here that I absolutely *heart*. It's a little different from your traditional bolognese that uses ground meats. I love this one because it's actual chunks of meat that's been slow cooked. It's fabulous! I've been searching and searching for a recipe that's similar to no avail. I experimented with this one but the end result was a yummy pasta sauce!

I made it for the first time for my brother and his family. My niece loves pasta so I made it for her. It sure got her vote! When I made it back at home, I did the slow cooker version and it turned out just as good! Enjoy!

Meaty Bolognese Sauce

4 oz pancetta, diced
olive oil or butter, as needed
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 c. red wine (used an Oregon pinot noir)
1 can beef broth
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
3 lbs. chuck roast, cut in 1 1/2 inch strips
vegetable oil, for frying
sugar, to taste
parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pancetta in a dutch oven or oven-safe pot over medium heat, slowly rendering fat & crisping up pancetta. When doen, remove pancetta with a slotted spoon to a samll bowl and set aside.

If not enough pancetta fat remains in the pot, add 1 Tbsp. butter. Add onions, carrots & celery to the pot and cook over medium heat for about 7-10 minutes. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper to the pot and mix well. Cook for about 1 more minute. Add beef broth, wine & tomatoes to the sauteed vegetables. Add pancetta back to the pot & reduce to low heat and simmer.

In a seperate frying pan, heat oil to medium-high heat. Salt & pepper strips of beef and sear on all sides in small batches. When meat is seared, add it back to the tomatoe sauce. When all the beef are seared, place the pot in the oven (uncovered) and cook for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove pot from oven and stir well. Cover pot and return to oven to slow cook for another 1 1/2 - 2 more hours. Stir occasionally while it slow cooks. The meat is done when it shreds easily with a fork.

When cooking is done, remove the large chunks of beef and shred with 2 forks. Retun meat to the pot and stir sauce well. Add salt, pepper or sugar to taste.

Serve over pasta with grated parmesan cheese.

**Slow cooker option: Start as above by cooking pancetta, onions, carrots & celery in a pot and adding all sauce ingredients. Continue by searing meat as mentioned above. When done searing the meat, add it to a crock pot. Pour tomato sauce over beef and slow cook for 6-8 hours.