Pasta Dinner Giveaway!

linguineI’ll admit it, at about 8:30 this morning, I was craving pasta. On my walk to work, I was listening to chef Scott Conant on Marc Maron’s podcast talk about his infamous spaghetti with red sauce. He revealed how he first infuses oil with garlic and basil, only uses fresh tomatoes (!!), and that he finishes the sauce with a little butter. My compulsion for fresh pasta was definitely pretty strong once I got to Old Town. Then I remembered that Lardo chef Rick Gencarelli is opening his new pasta spot in Southwest Portland called Grassa on June 11th, and I felt a little better.

From what I’ve learned, Gencarelli’s vision for the restaurant is homemade pasta in a more casual and affordable setting than other Portland establishments. The menu I saw already has about 9,000 things I’d like to try, from bucatini zucchini with fried squash blossoms to ricotta gnocchi with San Marzano butter sauce and chives.

The restaurant officially opens June 11th, but this Thursday and Friday nights they will be holding *FREE* preview dinners for a handful of pasta lovers. Want a pair of tickets to one of these dinners? Tell me in the comments about your favorite homemade pasta dish. Is it your dad’s slow-cooked chicken cacciatore? Your boyfriend’s homemade ravioli? Be descriptive! I’ll choose and contact the winner tomorrow afternoon.

Tip of The Week: Utilize Your Freezer

downloadThis week’s kitchen tip is brought to you by…your freezer. No, I’m not someone that has quarts of homemade chicken stock tucked away between my bags of frozen blueberries and peas. Though I definitely admire those who do. My kind of freeze-planning ahead usually comes from having too much of something or not wanting it to go bad right away. Here are the 4 things I usually have lurking somewhere in my freezer:

Ginger

Ever had a nubby little ginger root go bad on you in one week flat? Your freezer can prevent this. Simply cut off the end of one side of the root so the interior is exposed and pop it in a small ziplock. Then, use your microplane or small holes on a cheese grater to zest ginger into smoothies or stir-fries.

Lentils

This has saved my work lunches for more than a year now. On a slow Sunday I make some variation of this lentil recipe and then freeze 1/4 cup amounts small Ziploc bags. Then, all I have to do is pack a kale salad and grab a bag of frozen lentils on my way out the door. At lunchtime, I microwave the lentils on a plate for about a minute and pop them on top of my salad so I can still have something warm to eat on the coldest days.

Grains

As I write this, I’m currently eating a salad enhanced by some farro I cooked months ago and  popped into bags the same way I do with lentils. You can do this with rice, barley, or any other grain, too. Just expect a little bit chewier texture than it’s original form.

Bananas

Is a bundle of bananas on your counter starting to freckle? Take off their peels, cut them in any size (or not), and to the freezer they go. Now you have a way to make your smoothies sweet and creamy whenever you need them.

That’s all for now, have a great weekend, and eat well!

Old Faithful Restaurant Of The Week: Clyde Common

downloadWhile it may be attached to Ace Hotel, Clyde Common is far from the chicken Caesar salad fare you might see at a hotel restaurant. It’s no secret that their infamous cocktail program is fantastic. But I will admit it’s their tender handmade pastas, ever- changing with seasonal vegetables like nettles and fiddlehead ferns, that keep me coming back.

Drink This: Barrel-Aged Negroni. Small and mighty, this fuschia-hued beverage may look Sex and the City but is bitter, smooth and and anything but sweet.

To Start: Order the Squid Ink Fideos for the table. The base of the dish is small pasta circles, sautéed risotto-style, which is then covered in a jet-black squid ink sauce studded with seafood and sausage. This dish is complex and decadent, yet completely cream-less. I’ve been told that one of the key ingredients to its complexity is a tomato pepper jam.

For Dinner: Any of the house-made pastas (get the bigger size). Recent menu options have been paparadelle with crab and roe and fettuccine with poached egg and pickled ramps. But you can’t really go wrong here.

Tip: If you happen to make it in for happy hour (daily 3-6 pm) grab the burger for a mere $6. It’s one of my favorites in town; always perfectly pink inside and incredibly juicy.

Find regular menu changes at their hours here.

Matcha Tea Latte and Morning Window Gazing

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From the window in my living room, I have a snapshot view of my neighbor’s mornings.  Below, I can see students bustling in and out of Starbucks, toting book bags and coffees the size of forearms. Above are the windows of the other half of my apartment building. Some inhabitants refuse to let light in this early, so all I can see is the dull off-white of their blinds. A window on the far left side of the building always reveals two fluffy cats. Since this window marks the location of each apartment’s giant heater, this is where the cats bundle themselves up, taking in the morning and watching. Sometimes, they sit upright, regal, showcasing their brilliant fury chests, but mostly they just lounge and look, sometimes closing their eyes for a brief drift to warmth and sleep. On my various types of mornings, I look at them and wonder about what to have for breakfast, or if I should skip the gym or why I am awake a full hour before my alarm. They just blink, sometimes getting up to switch positions.

Recently, I’ve added a new ritual to my morning window gazing. I’ve been making myself Matcha lattes. I originally grabbed the idea from a piece on healthy breakfasts in Bon Appetit a month or two ago. It solves my predicament of waking up early and (almost always) wanting caffeine, but not early enough to have an appetite. Not being a coffee drinker, and being sensitive to tea without milk on an empty stomach, Matcha is the perfect resolution. It’s creamy from the soy milk, and the tea powder lends a nice grassiness to the drink. It does have a solid level of caffeine that feels less abrupt than the way I react to coffee, though I’m sure that depends on the drinker.

The ritual of preparing it is what I think makes it a little more special than other teas. Some articles say to buy a mini whisk especially for this tea, though I don’t know how necessary that is; my tiny teaspoon has been just fine. I’ve had a hard time slowing down in the mornings lately since changing my workout schedule, but these have helped me do just that. Take a minute (or 10) to just let the day start. It might help you during the rest of your day; I know it has helped mine.

 **I will warn you, Matcha powder is pretty expensive, I’ve read it’s because of the specialized, drawn-out way of processing it. The cheapest places I’ve found it are on Amazon and at teashops that sell it by the ounce, which is how I bought it.**

Ingredients

8 ounces of soy milk, dairy milk, or any milk substitute

¼ cup of water

1 teaspoon of Matcha powder (not in tea bags)

Method 

  1. Bring the water to just below a boil in whichever method you prefer. I use an electric tea kettle.
  2. Meanwhile, place the milk in a heat-proof glass in the microwave. Warm it for 45 seconds, or use a small saucepan and heat it on low on the stove for a minute and a half.
  3. Once the water is to the right temperature, place the tea powder in a mug, then follow with the water, and stir vigorously with a small spoon or whisk until there are no clumps.
  4.  Then, tip the mug slightly and pour in your milk. Feel free to sweeten with honey or  sugar if you’d like.

Tangy Kale Salad With Dates & Toasted Nuts

This salad has become my go-to work lunch lately. It’s fast to prepare—you don’t even need to dirty a knife—it takes on additions well (sometimes I add garlic or anchovies), and it’s filling enough to hold me through the day.

I often switch out the toasted nuts for whatever I have on hand (walnuts, sliced almonds, slivered almonds, etc.). The only important part is that you toast the nuts. It doesn’t take long, just a few minutes in a skillet on medium low until they change color a bit and they start to smell delightful. Oh, and if you do decide to use minced garlic, go with half a clove—for the sake of your coworkers.

Ingredients

1/2 bundle of curly kale

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of wine vinegar (I like white)

10 or so toasted nuts (walnuts, sliced or slivered almonds, etc.)

5 pitted dates

Salt and fresh ground pepper

Method

Take the kale bundle and use your fingers to tear the leaves into bite sized pieces. Put all the pieces in a to-go container or the bowl you’ll be using.

Add the oil and massage it into the leaves with your fingers, then do the same with the vinegar. Do one tablespoon, mix, then the other.

Add the nuts (feel free to add beans here for more protein if you like), and then tear the dates into pieces and toss them into the mixture as well. Season aggressively with salt and pepper and let it marinate for a few hours if you can.

What’s your go-to packable lunch?

2 Recipes: California Breakfast Pudding & Sriracha Broccoli With Honey Butter

I thought I’d give you two recipes this morning, since I was feeling indecisive about which recipe to blog. Enjoy!

California Morning Pudding

Adapted from Food and Wine, specifically by Grace Parisi

Have you had chia seeds yet? They’re sort of the kale chips of the online food world right now;­­­ they seem seem to be everywhere. Given their health properties (hello, fiber, protein and omega 3s), rich history and interesting texture, they were bound to show up in my cooking rotation eventually. The seeds become boba or tapioca-like when soaked in liquid (in fact, some just sip them in water as a refreshing drink), but more importantly, they give me an excuse to eat pudding for breakfast.

I call this California Morning Pudding because its toppings: dates, oranges and almonds, are all from my home state. Their contribution to the dish is a layer of acerbic sweetness, which is the just the right way to be woken up on a cold winter morning. Oh, and I hate to oversell you new ingredients here, but Cara Cara oranges are another thing you should seek out if you ever get the chance. They’re the less bitter cousin of grapefruit, who has still inherited that same gorgeous blush.

Ingredients

2 ½ cups unsweetened soy milk

½ cup chia seeds

2 tablespoons of honey

3 Medjool dates, pitted and torn into pieces

1 Cara Cara orange, peeled and sliced (you can sub grapefruit or any other orange)

6 or 7 almonds

Method

Mix together the first 3 ingredients in a quart container (I used a leftover yogurt container). Shake or stir the mixture, cover and let it sit in your refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, give the mixture a good stir. Spoon about a cup or so of the pudding into a bowl and top with the dates, oranges and almonds. The leftover pudding will last for a week.

Broccoli With Sriracha Honey Butter and Toasted Sesame Seeds

I’ve been working from my pantry a lot lately. And if this is “cooking with what you have”, I’m thinking I should do it more often. Honeyed and spicy with just enough fat to add some flavor, this dish is great on its own as well as stirred into a salad or noodles.

Ingredients

1 cup broccoli, steamed in a steam basket or the microwave

generous squirt of Sriracha hot sauce (or more)

1 teaspoon of honey

½ tablespoon of unsalted butter or olive oil

toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Method

Top hot broccoli with the rest of the ingredients, stir and enjoy.