Porter-Soaked Refried Beans

* Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook *

I’m not a big recipe repeater. My dinner cravings vary week to week, so I don’t often cook something more than once. Then, a few weeks ago, I had some leftover pinto beans from a pot I’d made, so I set out to make Mark Bittman’s Refried Beans recipe I’d been meaning to try. With what I had in my fridge (bell peppers, dark beer and half an onion), I cooked up my own version. The result was a flavorful—a combination of warm spices, rich beer and the smooth texture that defines the best kind of refried beans (in my eyes). And without overselling it, I’ll just say that I made a pot of pintos this week just so I could use the leftovers for this recipe.


¼ olive oil

4 cups cooked pinto beans

1 bell pepper, chopped

½ an onion, chopped

1 tablespoon of cumin

½ tablespoon of chili powder

¼ teaspoon of cayenne

kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper

¼ cup of dark beer (such as a stout or porter), more as needed


Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan or skillet.

When the olive oil is hot, add the beans. Mash the beans with a potato masher or fork until they’re broken down and about 75% smooth, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the bell pepper and onion and stir thoroughly. Add the spices and the salt and pepper. Raise the heat slightly to medium high. Keep mashing the mixture until the vegetables have softened, about 5 more minutes.

As the mixture becomes dry, add the beer to achieve your desired consistency (I enjoy my refried beans pretty smooth).

Taste your beans, and adjust the spices to your preferences. Remove from heat, and serve.

Serving suggestions: Tucked in burritos, along side brown rice, with cilantro, Dabbed with salsa next to eggs for breakfast. Tonight, I piled them in homemade tortillas, topped with chard, cilantro pesto and hot sauce.


Sun Over Hills

find my original article here

Brinner—where the two most loved meals of the day, breakfast and dinner meet for one satisfying culinary affair. 2 A.M. at The Hotcake House needn’t be the only time you recognize this fine meal; you can certainly enjoy it at regular dinnertime, too (whether or not you want to include the drunk part is your choice).

photo by Karl Kuchs

This brinner dish is basic, hearty and satisfying. It’s titled “sun over hills” because the orange of the egg layers on top of the green chard and golden polenta, reminiscent of the time of day when the sun dips into the hills.


  • 1 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup of Gruyere cheese, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 bundle of Swiss chard, cut into
  •  ribbons, stems discarded
  • 1 tablespoon sherry (or any other) Vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Bring six cups of water to a boil in a large medium saucepan. When the water is bubbling, add the salt, then slowly whisk in the cornmeal and lower heat to a simmer. Whisk every few minutes (careful, polenta may bubble), and when creamy, remove from heat.

Stir in butter and cheese and cover.

Bring a medium skillet to medium low heat. Add one tablespoon of oil. After 30 seconds, add the sliced garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. Place greens in the pan and toss with tongs so the oil coats them. Cook until tender, 8–10 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt, pepper and vinegar. Cover with a lid.

In another medium skillet, heat the other tablespoon of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, crack both eggs directly in the skillet and cook until the yolks are hard, 3–5 minutes.

For each serving, scoop about one cup of polenta in a bowl, top with half the greens and slide the fried egg on top. Season with salt and pepper. Serves two.

Steel Cut Oatmeal: A Morning’s Best Friend

The Tastespotting 28 Days of Oatmeal National Heart Health Month (whoa, what a

Photo by Chris Tuite

mouthful!) event just ended, and it reminded me of a piece I wrote for the Vanguard awhile back. Enjoy:

When I was a kid, the only way I liked oatmeal was if my mom made it: (rolled) oats swimming in milk, topped with pools of butter and heaps of melting brown sugar. Fast forward 15 years, and I’m still craving oatmeal for breakfast, but usually served in a different way.

The following recipe is easy to prepare on a Sunday (or Monday if you have time)—then put away the rest so you can reheat it all week long. I like to use steel-cut oats, which are smaller than rolled oats, and have a little more chew. Not only is it a healthy choice to start your day with fiber-packed oatmeal, but it’s also quite economical. If you buy oatmeal in bulk, it usually costs about a dollar per pound.

Try the base recipe below, and pick a topping option—if you’ve never tried savory oatmeal, you’re in for a real treat. Or, develop your own favorite with jams or butters or anything else you have in your fridge.


  • 3 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup steel-cut oatmeal



  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan,  add pinch of salt.
  2. Add oatmeal to the pot and stir, lower heat to a simmer.
  3. Cook for 20–30 minutes, until most water has evaporated and the oatmeal is creamy.
  4. Remove from heat, add desired toppings, and enjoy.


Elvis Oatmeal:

While the oatmeal is still hot (or reheated in the microwave for one minute and 30 seconds), add 1 heaping tablespoon of creamy peanut butter and mashed banana. Top with a teaspoon of cinnamon and stir.

Savory Morning:

To the hot oatmeal, add one sliced scallion, one teaspoon of sesame oil, two teaspoons of (low sodium) soy sauce and one teaspoon of Sriracha (or any hot sauce) if you want a little kick.

Buenos Días Oatmeal:

Add one tablespoon of your favorite salsa, and one tablespoon of grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese.

Mama’s Way:

Add a huge splash of milk—so much you almost can’t see the oatmeal, a knob of butter and a heaping spoonful of brown sugar to a hot bowl.

How do you like your oatmeal?

Roasted Pork Loin With Cherry Love Sauce

Find my original article here

A few years ago, I was out to a French restaurant in another city with my parents. It was

Photo courtesy oF EMPERLEY/FLICKR

near Valentine’s Day, and my father asked if a lot of people liked to celebrate the special day at their restaurant. The waiter rolled his eyes and laughed, “Oh yes. We like to call it amateur day.” Whether or not that specific waiter is representative of all restaurants’ mindsets, I have never found myself eating out on the 14th since. Paying for overpriced prix fixe menus is hardly romantic and, quite frankly, a little overrated.

The following dish is special without being too complicated, and makes enough that it could serve your best friends or just your loved one. Round out the meal with sautéed green beans, creamy mashed potatoes and your favorite wine.



Pork Tenderloin

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary (dried is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 lb of pork tenderloin

Cherry Love Sauce

  • 1 jar of cherry preserves
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse the pork tenderloin and pat it dry with paper towels. Let it come to room temperature, then season the pork generously with sea salt, freshly ground pepper and rosemary on all sides.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter to pan, and stir until melted. Add the pork tenderloin to the butter and brown it on all sides (it doesn’t need to be cooked in the middle at this point), and remove from heat.

Place the pork in a roasting pan or on an oiled baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees. The pork will be ready when a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 35–45 minutes. When the pork is done cooking, cover with foil and let it rest in its juices for about 10 minutes so it can absorb some flavor.

While the tenderloin is roasting, place the cherry preserves in a small saucepan with the vinegar. Bring the pan to medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture reduces, about 10–15 minutes.

Slice the pork tenderloin and serve with the preserves on warmed plates. Serves two to three people. ■

Soup For You!

There are plenty of ways to keep gastronomically warm on a blustery day.

photo by Drew Martig

You could clutch a mug filled with steaming coffee or tea. You could secretly sip whisky from flask when no one’s watching. You could even add hot sauce to your eggs, sandwiches and takeout, hoping that the heat from your tongue produces enough of a sweat that it’ll heat up the rest of you. However, if all else fails, hot soup is always a standard blanket in a bowl for when the weather is frigid. Here are some of the best soups to order in Portland.

Frank’s Noodle House

Wonton Soup

Now, it must be said that the namesake dish of Frank’s Noodle House is a force to be reckoned with: chewy, thick and perfect noodles are something you’ll come to crave shortly after your first visit. However, since we aren’t talking noodles today, I direct your attention to their wonton soup. The massive bowl (definitely big enough to share) is brought to your table with smells floating above it that can only be described as seductive. In the Cantonese language, wonton translates directly to the phrase “swallowing clouds,” and Frank’s wontons live up to their name in this soup. The soft and flavorful wrappers, with ground meat and green onions are heavenly and not too heavy. Along with the wontons are bok choi and cabbage, which maintain their bite while contributing a refreshing flavor that stands up well to the richness of the broth. The real secret to this soup’s mastery is the homemade chicken broth that is used as the base of the soup. Savory and almost mushroom-like, the broth alone could easily cure any ills when sipped by itself. In fact, you’ll likely find yourself ingesting it long after the wontons are gone. A bowl of this and a plate of any of their noodle dishes, and you may never be cold again.

822 NE Broadway

Monday–Thursday 11 a.m–9:30 p.m. and 11 a.m.–10 p.m.


Portland Soup Company

Roasted Tomato Reggiano

This tomato soup is far from the can o’ Campbells you may have had as a kid. The base of this bisque-like concoction is slightly sweet and slightly tart, finding the perfect balance (just like a good tomato should). Shredded Parmigiano Reggiano adds just a touch of creaminess, and their olive oil-kissed croutons stay crisp even on a rainy walk back to campus. The soup is a perfect companion to any of their handmade sandwiches (like pork butt and red cabbage or homemade mozzarella with oven dried tomatoes) or seasonal salads.

SW Fourth Avenue and College Street.

Monday-Friday 11 a.m. -3p.m.

Savor Soup House

Carrot Ginger & Coconut

This Thursday-only vegan soup option may sound more like a smoothie flavor than lunch, but it is certainly one not to be overlooked. And if the slight sweetness of the carrots and satisfactory spiciness of ginger isn’t enough, the smoky fried onions take it above and beyond in the flavor department. Also an added bonus, the food cart serves each cup (or bowl) of soup with crusty Como bread from Grand Central Bakery for ultimate dipping.

1003 SW Alder St.

Monday–Friday 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

While there are many food-coma inducing meals to be had at this downtown deli (including mouth watering pastrami), this mushroom soup can hold its own. The cream base is subtly flavored, letting the mushrooms in the soup really shine. Buttery and slightly smoky, this soup may not be a “sandwich as big as your head” as the Kenny and Zuke’s sign promises, but it is just as satisfying. Pair with a bialy and a pickle and you’ll feel like a Hungarian, New Yorker, and a Portlander all at once.

1038 SW Stark St.

Sunday–Thursday 7 a.m–9 p.m. Friday and

Saturday 7 a.m.–9 p.m.