Monday, September 27, 2010

What's Cookin?: (Meatless Monday) Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich

This was a quick dinner using some recently harvested vegetables from the garden. I brushed some Japanese eggplant and zucchini with olive oil, salted and peppered the slices, and grilled them up.

I also brushed my ciabatta bread with olive oil and grilled them. I spread some store-bought olive tapanade on one side of the bread and layered my vegetables. I also sliced up some Green Zebra tomatoes. I drizzled the bread with some balsamic vinegar and viola....dinner!

Gardening: Harvest 9/27/10

A few more produce are still coming in from the garden. Late last week I was able to harvest a Japanese cucumber, a few zucchini, some eggplant, 1 Boston Pickling cucumber, a few Green Zebra tomatoes, beans, radish, strawberries and cherry tomatoes. It was a nice variety.
Today I picked my a few Carbon tomatoes. I can't wait to try these.

A few Cherokee Purple tomatoes were ripening also.

This one is looking a little Frankenstein-ish!

Another harvest of cherry tomatoes, Green Zebras (these have become one of my favorites this year), a yellow patty pan squash, a zucchini and a couple Oregon Spring Tomatoes.

Happy Harvest!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's Cookin?: Roasted Baby Carrots

I had some lovely baby carrots to use up. I decided to try this quick and tasty side dish. I'm not a fan of onions so I tested out 1/2 a recipe to see if I liked it. It was yummy! Roasting the onions brought out the sweetness in them. It also helped to use sweet onions. I sliced the onions a little too thin so some of them burned but surprisingly, I liked them burnt. Go figure.

Roasted Baby Carrots
Serves 4

1 1/2 lb. baby carrots, washed and greens cut to about 1 inch above the top of the carrot
1 sweet onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried)
garlic powder
fresh ground pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Gently toss the carrots, sweet onions, olive oil and rosemary in a bowl.

2) Lay carrots and onions out on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, freshly ground pepper and garlic powder.
3) Roast vegetables for 30-40 minutes on the middle rack until they are well browned.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Restaurant Rambling: Tasty N Sons

I'm a big fan of Toro Bravo's spanish tapas. It's easily in my top 10 Portland restaurants. When I heard the owner was opening up another restaurant that served brunch, I knew I was so there. The concept is the same, small and large plates of food meant for sharing. Brunch tapas!! What an excellent idea!

Tasty n Sons is located on North Williams Street in Portland. I highly recommend you visit this place! The food is terrific and will keep you wanting more!

Glazed Yams with Cumin-Maple Sauce ($4). This was a winner!

Griddled Bacon Wrapped Date with Maple Syrup & Marcona Almond ($2 each)

Fried Egg & Cheddar Biscuit with Fried Chicken ($8). This dish was the rockstar! Note to self, don't agree to share it next time.
Fuhgettaboutit Omelette with New York style Sausage, Basil & Italian Cheeses ($9). This omelette was delicious!

Tasty n Sons
3808 N. Williams, Suite C
Portland, OR 97212
ph: (503) 621-1400

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Autumn Equinox

Fall is officially upon us.  Is it bad that I get excited about Starbucks pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin scones?  Welcome fall!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Restaurant Rambling: Koji Osakaya

I've been going to Koji's off and on since I moved to Portland many many many years ago. As a student in college, I frequented the branch in downtown Portland for my Japanese food fix. I ate at the branch in Beaverton many times before it closed down. I often forget that there's a Koji's on Barber Blvd.

The food is okay for Japanese fare. It's not the best but it's pretty decent. The sushi here is pretty good. My favorite is their version of the spicy tuna roll. It's not like most places that spice things up with hot sauce. These guys make their spicy tuna roll like a spicy poke roll. They use red pepper flakes and onions in their roll. Yummy!!

Here's a shrimp tempura starter

An assortment of sushi including the caterpillar, spicy tuna and various nigiri sushi

Char sui ramen

Koji Osakaya
10100 SW Barbur Blvd
Portland, OR 97219
ph: (503) 977-3100

Wildlife Wednesday: 9/22/10

I'm been slacking on the Wildlife Wednesday posts. Here's a few that I've gathered in the past few weeks.

My friends the hummingbirds continue to hang out near the feeder. There's one female that usually sits in the tree in my neighbor's yard. Up there, she has a clear view of the feeder and all the other hummingbirds coming in for a drink. She's territorial and will often run them off. It's funny just to watch her chase them off. The other day I was sitting out on the deck and noticed she wasn't content with her perch on the tree. Instead, she was sitting on the hook that the feeder was on and guarded "her feeder". It cracked me up!

Since not all the hummingbirds were successful at the feeder, some had to feed the old fashion way. This little guy was facinated with the sage plants.

I remember early this summer I was fretting over a squirrel I had spotted in the neighbor's yard. I hadn't seen him lately. Imagine my surprise one day when I saw this little guy forraging for the leftover sunflower seeds from the bird feeders.
He was awfully small a cute but I saw where this would be a messy situation.

Thank goodness on this day he was happy with the sunflowers on the ground.
This find was weird. I was out clipping mint one day when I noticed this...
What the heck is that!!?? I'm hopping these are ladybugs and not another bad bug. Needless to say, I was a little icked out and let them be.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What's Cookin?: Annie's Salsa (for canning)

Since my tomato crop this year has been a bust due to the weather, I've had to *SHOCK* buy my tomatoes for salsa. Luckily I ran into several tomato sales this summer. I made my first batch of salsa about a month ago. I used 3 jalapenos in that batch and found it to be too mild. My second and third batches were 5 jalapeno tries and these had good flavor. This weekend I made 2 more batches of this yummy salsa!

I used Annie's Salsa recipe after reading many rave reviews. Be careful with canning salsa. Make sure you use a recipe that has been tested specifically for canning. This one has been tested, but do not alter the recipe as it will off-set the acid in the salsa and make it dangerous to can.

Some notes to this recipe that I got from others':
- This is a salsa that can be canned
- You can safely leave out the cumin and/or green peppers
- Do NOT increase the cilantro
- You can substitute lemon juice (use Real Lemon brand only) or use cider vinegar for the vinegar. But be sure to use at least 1 full cup of acid (ie: white vinegar, lemon juice or cider vinegar). The best tasting salsa I've made of all the batches was 3/4 c. white vinegar and 1/2 c. lemon juice. I haven't tried the cider vinegar yet.
- Can this recipe only in pint jars (do not use larger quarts for canning this salsa)
- Do not use only Roma tomatoes (salsa will be thick)
- Making salsa takes a few hours so be sure you have time to follow through

Annie's Salsa (for canning)
Makes 6 pints

8 cups tomatoes (about 7 large); peeled, chopped & drained
2 1/2 c. chopped onions (1 large)
1 1/2 c. chopped green pepper (2 large Anaheim peppers)
3-5 jalapeno peppers, chopped (3 peppers=mild, 5 peppers=medium)
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 c. canning salt
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 c. sugar
1 c. vinegar
16 oz. tomato sauce
12 oz. tomato paste

1) Sterilize your jars & lids in simmering water.

2) Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stove. Score the bottom of each tomato by making an X. Drop 3 or 4 tomatoes at a time in the boiling water. Remove to an iced water bath after 15-20 seconds. You should be able to peel the tomato skins off easily now. Remove the skins off of all your tomatoes.

2) To help the process of straining excess water from the tomatoes, I use a little trick. While chopping tomatoes, I try to remove the gel and seed sacks of the tomato with my fingers or thumbs. Chop up tomatoes and place in a colander to drain.
3) Prep the rest of your salsa ingredients (onions, garlic, green peppers, jalapenos & cilantro) and place in a large bowl.
4) Mix all the ingredients in a large pot. Bring salsa to a boil and continue to boil while stirring frequently for 10 minutes.

5) Remove the jars from the hot water. Pour salsa into the hot jars. Place lids and screw tops on jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Be sure that the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch and be sure that the water is boiling before counting down.

6) After jars have been processed, remove from the water and allow to cool overnight. At 24 hours, check the tops of the jars. If the tops "pop back", your salsa is not sealed adequately.

What's Cookin?: Panzanella Salad

Greenish Thumb

Here's my post for Week #5 of Wendy's Garden To Table Challenge. I'm behind on my blogging so this post is late. I've been lucky to have a few more ripe tomatoes to enjoy. These are simple ways to enjoy your beautiful harvest.

I was totally craving the classic BLT sandwich one night. I jazzed it up a little. This is my version of a BATC (bacon, arugula, tomato & cheese). I love the peppery taste of arugula in sandwiches and am a sucker for Munster cheese. I used one of my Green Zebra tomatoes for this yummy treat. I know, nothing fabulous but oh so yummy!!

My second tomato dish this week was a yummy Italian bread salad. This is perfect for crusty old bread (it's best with day-old or 2 day-old bread). Note that if you use freshly baked bread, the bread will get soggy and fall apart. Some recipes ask you to toast the bread but that seems so un-Italian! LOL! It's also a great way to use up ripe tomatoes and basil too!

Panzanella Salad
Serves: 6-8

1 loaf day old Italian or French bread (about 6 cups), cut in to bite sized pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 medium ripe tomatoes, cubed
10 basil leaves, shredded
3 Tbsp. capers
1 ball fresh mozzarella, cut into bite sized pieces

1) In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, 1/4 c. olive oil and 2 1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar.

2) Add bread, tomatoes, basil, capers, arugula and mozzarella cheese to a large bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette and let the salad stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gardening: Harvest 9/20/10

I have very little to share this week. It's been cool, wet and icky in the Pacific NW. Still waiting on some tomatoes. Good news is that some are starting to turn yellow and orange. Woo hoo! I still have hope!

This week I harvested a handful of tomatoes. These are Paul Robeson, Carbon, Oregon Spring, Roma and Green Zebra tomatoes.

I also harvested an eggplant, a zucchini and a handful of green beans.

Happy Harvest!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What's Cookin?: (Meatless Monday) Kolokythokeftedes (Zucchini Balls)

I must be daydreaming about Greece again. I was craving something I had on my travels there. This is a great dish for Meatless Mondays! It's traditional taverna food in Greece. It's a fritter or Greek version of a latkes. Serve with a side of plain Greek yogurt or tzatziki sauce. I was too lazy to make my own tzatziki so bought some ready made from my favorite Portland Greek restaurant, Alexis. I recommend the tzatziki sauce if you can get it. It really enhances the taste of the zucchini balls.

Kolokythokeftedes (Zucchini Balls)
Serves 4-6, Makes about 15 balls

2 lb. zucchini, trimmed and grated on the wide side of a grater or food processor
1/2 onion grated
2 eggs
1/2 c. chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as fennel, dill, mint, parsley (I used 2/3 dill and 1/3 mint)
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 c. dry breadcrumbs, more if needed
pepper and salt
1 c. crumbled feta
flour for dredging
olive oil for frying

1) After grating the zucchini and onion, place them in a colander to remove the excess moisture. Salt the mixture of vegetables and allow to stand for 1/2 - 1 hour, tossing and squeezing from time to time. When it is done sitting, take handfulls of the mixture and squeeze out all of the extra water.
2) In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the shredded zucchini, herbs, cumin, bread crumbs, pepper and feta. I didn't add any extra salt at this point because the zucchini had been salted earlier and the feta is on the salty side. If you chose to add more salt, use judiciously. Mix together well. Take up a small handful of mixture; if it presses neatly into a patty, it is the right consistency. If it seems wet, add more breadcrumbs. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.

3) Heat 1 inch of olive oil in a large frying pan. Meanwhile, make zucchini patties with the mixture. Lightly dredge in flour. When the oil is hot, add the patties in batches to the pan. Fry until golden brown and turn once. Remove from the oil and drain on a wire rack.

Gardening: Harvest 9/13/10

I may have lost some harvest pictures from last week. Aww shucks. Anyways, these were harvested today.

A mixed bowl of Millionaire Eggplant, Zucchini, Assorted Green Beans and Strawberries.
I pulled up some test carrots and they looked a decent size.

So I decided to pull up my entire patch of carrots in the square foot box. These are Mini Sweet and Scarlet Nantes. Yummy!

There were only a few duds. This one was split open.

This one was a mutant with 3 prongs!

I also harvested a handful of Bright Lights Swiss Chard. I love love love the fun colors of these!

Here's my carrot harvest all washed and cleaned.

Happy Harvest!

**Be sure to visit Daphne's Dandelion's Harvest Monday to see what other people are harvesting!**