Sunday, February 7, 2016

Ottolenghi's "Socca" from the cookbook, Plenty… page 224! Cooking at home!

Finished Socca!

I have enjoyed cooking from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook, Plenty all week long! Supplementing the veggie dishes I have prepared with my cast iron hibachi bbq'd steak one evening and a marmalade baked chicken another, these recipes that I chose, worked easily and well with a side of meat for Ray and Steven.  I am as I have mentioned several times before, a vegetarian.  I do however get bored with the every day vegetarian diet and for some reason, my body hates beans and so I'm stuck with looking for protein in other places.  Eggs, cheese, peanut butter and yogurt sometimes make the cut but cooking from Plenty all week has opened my eyes wider and I found that veggie dishes not only work with my lifestyle, they served well for my meat-eating boys too.

This Socca recipe I want to share today was according to Ottolenghi, found on a visit to Southern France.  With a little research, I found an origination coming from Italy and then later from Nice where it is a specialty according to Ottoloenghi.  Made from chickpea flour and other delicious ingredients as you will see, it has the texture of a soft corn tortilla or thin pancake.  I have never used chickpea flour before so making Socca was my very first experience in using the soft powdery substance.

When I was first perusing the Plenty cookbook, I was looking for easy things to make, things that would not take too long to prep or cook but then I came across the Socca recipe.  At first glance, it looks a little daunting, the method takes up an entire page however, I'm so glad I took the time and made it.  I will tell you this, all the flavors of the ingredients are amazing together.  The crunchiness of the onions that have enough sweetness to them, the roasted tomatoes and then the little Socca pancake under all of that… let's just say I was swooning.  I will make this over and over again and continue finding more delicious things to make from Plenty.  I have enjoyed this past week discovering new ingredients and new recipes to make and share.

You'll find the recipe below and remember, I like to change things up now and then so you may find the recipe somewhere and think it's different but after making it, I made things a little more clear, added a few minutes to something or took away some time somewhere else. For example, when I was cooking the onions, etc., it didn't take 20 minutes for them to turn brownish and sweet.  Just keep an eye on them and judge for yourself on those.  Happy Socca making and enjoy!
Frying onions!

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and ground black pepper
Olive oil
1-3/4 lbs. white onions, peeled and cut into rings
2 tbsp picked thyme leaves
½ tsp white-wine vinegar
1-3/4 cups chickpea flour (aka gram flour)
2 cups water
2 egg whites
Crème fraîche to serve
Preheat the oven to 275F. Spread the tomatoes, cut side up, over a small baking tray, sprinkle over some salt and pepper and a drizzle of oil, and bake for 25 minutes - they are not supposed to dry out completely, just semi-cook.
Next, heat four tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and thyme, season and sauté, stirring all the while, over a high heat for about a minute. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking the onions for another 20 minutes, stirring them occasionally. You want them soft, sweet and golden brown, but not very dark. At the end, stir in the vinegar, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Increase the oven temperature to 325F. In a bowl, use a hand whisk to mix together the chickpea flour, water, one and a half tablespoons of olive oil, half a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. The batter should be totally smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold into the batter.  Line two oven trays with greaseproof paper, brush this with a little oil and set aside. Take a small nonstick frying pan, roughly 6 inches in diameter at its base, and brush very lightly with oil. Place the pan over a high heat for a couple of minutes, then reduce to medium-high and pour in a quarter of the socca batter - it should be about 1/4 inch thick. After two minutes or so, air bubbles will appear as it sets. Use an offset spatula to release the pancake's edges from the pan, then carefully lift and turn over. Cook for two more minutes, then transfer to the lined oven tray. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Put the pancakes in the warm oven for five minutes, then remove and set aside until ready to serve.
Spread the pancakes with plenty of onion - then top with tomato halves and return to the oven to heat up, for about five minutes or so. Serve warm with crème fraîche drizzled on top.

ChickPea Flour!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Portland Food Lover's January 2016 report!

Delicious Donuts!

I'm changing things up a bit.  Two years ago, I was putting out an annual list of places I ate at here in Portland, last year a quarterly list went out and now you get it monthly.  I truly don't want you to miss out on anything food wise here in Portland so, this will work better, I'm sure of it!

First I will list my new places, my first time there places, my views, my thoughts, what I ate, etc.  Then you'll get my regular list of places I go to pretty much every week or every month or when the I get the urge to go.  Just know that if I seem tough at times, it's because I'm so freaking picky and I want things to be good and by good I mean of course the food has to taste spectacular but the service has to be good as well.  I like clean but can overlook every day things, wear and tear and use as long as a place hits everything else.  It's the whole package and you really gotta have it for me to love it. So, here goes… January 2016 list of places I've dined in Portland, Oregon:

Pips of course!
New Places-

Khao Soy Thai Restaurant:  We went here because the manager at Produce Row said it was delicious and I am here telling you that it is!  Ray had the Hot and Sour Soup and it brought back awesome memories for him.  He used to have this soup at a little place in Corona, CA where he was a Deputy Fire Chief and firefighter for over 30 years before moving to Oregon.  He said it measured up quite nicely. I too enjoyed a few bites of it however, devoured my delicious fried rice dish.  I would go back in an instant.  Wish the place was cleaner but I can over look that with the great flavors and service!

Pepper Box:  The best breakfast I've had in a long time.  Spicy, stuffed sopapilla and wow… amazing and gorgeous and they split the sauces so I got to try both and I'm telling you, if you haven't been, you really need to go asap.  I still dream about it and will probably make it back soon!  The prices are great and the place is small and sweet and the staff was super nice too!

Dick's Kitchen:  I've been wanting to try this place for a while.  The staff was nice but there was something off the night we went.  Not sure what it was, can't pinpoint it but Ray wasn't super hungry so he was ho hum about his choice and I can't recall what I even had.  I do want to go again and may do so when we're both starving to death!

Delicious Donuts:  Great donuts, awesome staff but I wish the place was cleaner.  I am not "super" picky but I am picky and wasn't thrilled at the food stuck in the seat seams etc.  The floor was dirty and I just felt like I couldn't touch anything.  But… again, the donuts were great!  They do have breakfast sandwiches but don't specialize in them as evidenced by the way they looked and tasted.  Steven ate his but I couldn't.  I'm weird about my eggs.  They need to look and taste like well done scrambled eggs before I can eat them.  I'd go back all the time for donuts though!

Edelweiss Sausage and Deli:  I know, I'm a funny vegetarian but hey, gotta keep the boys happy and full.  So, I picked up some currywurst and some seasonings and went home and made them dinner!  Lasted two nights so yes, the currywursts were huge! They loved the dinner and so I'll go back and btw…they make all kinds of sandwiches and if you're missing Germany at all, this is the place to go. They have everything Germany there, even cuckoo clocks!

Next Level Burger:  Hearing of the hype, Ray's out of town, I go get a vegan burger and it was just ok. I probably should have gotten the bacon tempeh on it but I wasn't feeling it and I think my burger was one of those Boca Burgers?  Anyways,  I probably won't go back because I am the type of person or vegetarian that loves places like Knuckle Sandwich where I have them hold the meat patty and pile on the sauces, veggies and cheese and then feed me please!  I don't have to have a fake meat patty to be happy another words.

Kenilworth Coffee House:  Cute place, simple and great for coffee and a scone if you're on the road near SE PDX and need a pick me up.

Epif:  Ok, this was amazing!!!  Ray again, he's out of town and I go here alone and I'm the only one in the place for like 10 minutes so I was able to ogle and take pics and peruse the menu without pressure and then ask the server a million questions.  The people that own this place built it in their front yard.  They live in the historic home attached and behind it on NE 28th.  It's unbelievable and great and delicious and I really loved what I had!  I enjoyed two different types of empanadas and then a polenta dish with eggplant and a nut filling of some sort.  So flavorful and I felt like a pig but I polished off both dishes rather quickly.  Getting dessert was the best choice ever.  I enjoyed a German kuchen and coffee and it was one of those meals that makes you warm in the cold, happy when your lonely and snuggly in bed when you need a good night sleep.  The late night coffee didn't even keep me awake that night.  I would and will go back often.

Good Coffee on Division:  Cute and sweet with great staff with great attitudes.  Nice coffee and scones!

Red Sauce Pizza:  I went twice in January and it's the best pizza in Portland in my opinion.  I have eaten a lot of pizza… seriously, one look at me and you'll know I'm telling you the truth!  It's my downfall, my love and my comfort food and my most fav dish in the world.  So, I've eaten a lot of pizza around Portland this my friends is the best in town!  The place is darling too!  It was even ok to write on the washroom walls!! They have markers there so you can do so!  I took Ray the second time I went and he got pizza and one bite in with a full mouth, he says… "wow… this pizza is really good!" I decided on a calzone this time and again… in love!  The sauce is great and the bake is perfect.  That dough as I have said before… I could cuddle with it!  So glad they are close by but perhaps I should make myself walk there and back for it:()!!

Portobello:  A vegan joint my niece picked out for her bday.  I loved it, Steven loved it, Jo and Jack loved it, hubby… not so much.  But I did truly enjoy all the flavors and even the vegan pizza was tasty and filled with flavor!  I had a ravioli dish and enjoyed it as well but if I go again, I'll get the pizza.

Burrasca:  A cozy, candle lit dinner on Clinton… of course we loved it!  The place is darling and the staff is sweet and everything we had was absolutely delicious!  I had the crepe dish filled with cheese and sauce and it like literally melted in my mouth and was again, one of those meals that made all of life so good and so warm and so okay.  Ray had a wild boar papardelle and loved it and we each had a glass of the house red that of course made the meal even better and the world even more okay.  I'm sure we'll go back over and over again!

Chicken and Guns:  No, I mean yes… I don't eat meat and yes… CHICKEN IS MEAT! So, no… I just watched Ray eat this half chicken but he did share the broasted potatoes and omg… I'm getting all the sides next time.  Those potatoes alone were amazing and the sauce was good and Ray sat there like a dutiful child and polished off the entire basket of food!  They will be opening a brick and mortar soon and they will do well and good for them!!!  BTW… they have the cutest food cart ever!

180:  xocolata xurros and we've been waiting forever for this place to open on NE Broadway and I was invited to a pre-opening event and wow… they will do well with their "churros" all sugared up and some filled with dolce le leche and creme and xocolata etc.!!!  I haven't been back yet cause you know… those lines are out the door!

Madsons Pub:  Been on my list for a while and we may go back sometime.  A nice pub with decent food and nice beer.  It's big and so for a group, it's great.  There's a pool table upstairs and nice big tables and some booths as well.  Pretty open place.  I had the macnchz and it was tasty.

Good Day Coffee on Division!
 List of places I frequented in January:

Victoria Bar:  for the food and cocktails… the best of both!

St. Honorè on Division:  pretty slow and Ray said his croissant was super dry but I liked mine.  Great location for an afternoon treat.

Tea Bar:  As always… lovely!

Pips:  A weekly adventure and hopefully it will be, always!

Hop & Vine:  Lovely dirty popcorn and beer and right across from where I get an hour long reflexology treatment.  Sole2Sole… the best place ever and then you get beer and snacks across the street.

Extracto and Ville Vello on NE 15th and Prescott:  Two great places, one for coffee and the bakery is gorgeous and sweet and tiny and always filled with delicious things!

180 on Broadways… just opened last week!

Ottolenghi's Wild Mushroom Parcel… do not open till suppertime!

The baked and finished parcel!

I have been enjoying cooking this week at home from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook, Plenty!  I will say that when I saw this next recipe, I was like yes… I am definitely making that!  I think it was the fact that it looked like a gift with the paper and ties and everything but what really got me was the anticipation of how this would actually work.

I picked up a few different kinds of mushrooms at my Whole Foods market along with some potatoes, garlic and tarragon.  The recipe also calls for "chervil" which I could not find in the produce section and when I googled it, it said it can be substituted with tarragon.  I was covered there.  Also the recipe calls for Ricard, Pernod or other anise flavored liquor.  I have an old bottle of absinthe in the liquor cabinet so again, I was covered.

This recipe is super easy but I will tell you, that it's the funnest thing I've ever made and then tasting the finished parcel… delicious and flavor filled and just simply sweet sitting on the plate.

Here's the recipe of which I found in the whole so enjoy making this and serving it as well.  I can't wait to have someone over so I can make this again!


mixed wild or exotic mushrooms 3-1/2 cups  
baby button mushrooms 3-1/2 cups 
cooked baby potatoes (skin on) 5
garlic 4 cloves, crushed
chopped chervil 8 tbsp
chopped tarragon 4 tbsp
olive oil 4 tbsp
heavy cream 8 tbsp
Ricard or Pernod 2 tbsp
Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut four square sheets of parchment paper 14" long and wide.
Wipe the mushrooms clean using a wet cloth or a little brush. Leave them whole or cut them into large pieces, depending on their size. Cut the potatoes into 1cm thick slices.
In a large bowl, gently toss together all of the ingredients using your hands. Take care not to break the mushrooms. Taste and adjust the amount of salt and pepper.
Divide the mix among the paper sheets. Lift the edges and scrunch them together to create tight bundles, then secure with ovenproof string. Lift the parcels onto a baking sheet.
Place in the oven to cook for 20 minutes. Take out and leave to settle for 1 minute. Serve the parcels sealed, allowing the diners to open them up themselves.

NOTE: the actual recipe says to cook for 17 min. but I decided 20 min. was a nice number.  Also, I only cut up a few Yukon Gold potatoes because that's what I had and boiled them in salted water before using.   I would like to add ham or bacon to the parcel and serve next to scrambled eggs and toast perhaps making it a breakfast parcel.  

Steamy just after opening!

I only made two so I cut the ingredients down a little.

The parcels at home!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ottolenghi's "Plenty!" Day one... cooking from the book!

The dipping sauce!

I received the cookbook, "Plenty" as a gift from a friend and I'm sorry to say, it took me about a month to finally open it.  Once I did though, I couldn't put it down.  I spent a few hours perusing the recipes and found four I was dying to make.  The first one… Sweet Potato wedges with lemongrass crème fraîche!

I have mentioned before, my awesome Lodge Cast Iron Hibachi that I am totally in love with.  So, last nights supper consisted of two fat steaks for the boys, some chili roasted potatoes and then a batch of these sweet potatoes!  I have never used lemongrass before so another thing to be excited about, I peeled and chopped it up as the recipe says to and also used one more ingredient I have never even seen before!  It's a chili called a Bomb Chili.  It's sweet and red and round as I smartly used gloves to dice it up tasting along the way.  It's not too hot and was actually quite perfect in the dip.

All of the ingredients were easy to find at my Portland Whole Foods.  I felt like I spent most of my time there yesterday in the produce department which actually felt really good.  The recipe can be found on the link above or here at: The method however comes only in the cookbook, "PLENTY" by Yotam Ottolenghi. So, out of respect for this chef, I suggest you find the "how-to" in his cookbook which can be found at Powell's now!  It's beautiful by the way and I'll be sharing it at my next book club with the ladies and will also happily share more recipes with you throughout this week!  I have my favorites marked and all the groceries are here and ready to go.  I can't wait!


The "after" photo!

Just going in to the oven!

Bath Salts… a winter garden recipe!

I recently took a class at Work/Shop on NW 19th Ave. here in Portland.  We made lip balm and a sweet jar of bath salts to take home.  This was just before the holidays and since then, I have been wanting to make a batch of bath salts for myself.  The healing properties of a hot bath after a hard work out added to epsom salts or better yet, something that smells heavenly to help sooth not only the sore muscles but the soul as well, makes everything better.

My dear friend is having a birthday soon so that celebration put me in gear to gather ingredients to make my own bath salts at home and send her a jar soon.  I knew I wanted dried foliage in the mix so I scoured my garden and was excited to find lots of rosemary and a few blooms that had survived the recent snow and freezing weather.  I also recalled some other greens that had flourished in my garden over the summer after dumping some lose tea I didn't care for all over.  I found a few sprigs of whatever the tea was made from growing in pots so I added that too!  The tea came from Selfridges in London from our month long excursion in Spring of 2014 and it wasn't my 'cup of tea' so to speak.  So, there's a little bit of everything from everywhere in this mixture.

Here's the recipe I found on-line:

GARDEN BATH SALTS… from the garden!

1 part baking soda
3 parts epsom salts
6 parts coarse sea salt
Essential oil drops-I used eucalyptus this time.
Dried foliage and this can be anything you want to add.  Some ideas… rose petals, rosemary sprigs,  bay leaves crunched up, etc.

I mixed all the dry ingredients using one tablespoon as the "part" to begin with using a small whisk and then added the essential drops till I just had some small essence added.  It's up to you how much scent you want in your salts.  I happen to be allergic to artificial additives and fragrance where my skin breaks out so I get my essential oils that are purely just that, essential oils with no added ingredients from the Portland Homestead Supply in Sellwood.  They have so many different oils and I especially love their lavender essential oil collection.  I never realized there were so many different kinds of lavender out there.  I also tend to lean toward citrus of any kind so I've used that before as well.  

Relax and enjoy your hot soak with your bath salts and I'd love to hear your recipe if you have made this before.  Four games of racquetball are planned for tomorrow with some weight lifting too.  I can't wait for my soak!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I spent a winter day on the Oregon Coast!

Leaving the Corvallis area heading for the Oregon Coast! 
Ray left last Sunday for a trip to California to visit friends and our daughter and her fiancé and to attend a memorial for a fellow firefighter who recently died from cancer.  I decided to stay home this trip and get a few things done that I've been putting off.  I was also looking forward to a drive to the Oregon Coast.

I spent the night with a girlfriend in the Willamette Valley and then headed to the coast via Hwy 20 last Wednesday morning.  I'm not usually alone so this was a little weird for me but I managed along with the radio blaring and my sights set on seeing the ocean.  I don't know about you, but I have always felt this little pull deep inside and a sense of peace when I see the coast.  Even as a child, I can recall how it felt to see the sand, the waves and the rushing sounds they make when they hit the rocks and beach.  This day and how I felt was no different as I drove over the hill near Newport.  The waves did however, look softer than usual and not as harsh as they pummeled and crashed against the seaside.  I think it must have been the gray skies and time of year that made them look this way. 

I took my time driving up the coast from Newport and enjoyed taking the roads closer to the water.  Stopping at Pacific City where I just sat in my car in the sand and watched the waves for a long time.  The sun was shining bright at this point and I stepped out for a few minutes in the 54 degree weather thinking how unusually warm it felt.  Except for the slight wind, I would have stayed out longer and it was high tide and time to go.  

I enjoyed more little stops along the way at places called Devil's Punchbowl where I wasn't alone in watching the sea crash in to a cavernous rock formation.  I noted stretches of sand where the waves crashed ashore in perfect lines parallel to the land in rows and motion that didn't seem real.  Again, the white soft waves looked touchable and not so dangerous.  I drove through Netarts and for some reason, I have always loved that name.  It's really not much on a stretch of the coast but it's where Jacobsen Salt Co. is located and so it has drawn me for some time.  Onward, I took my time and decided that once I hit Tillamook, it was time to go home.  It was getting dark and I'm so glad I left when I did.  The fog came in thick through the Tillamook Forest where the road was banked with snow and trees and the two lane road wasn't enough to make me feel like lingering.  I made it home in just a few hours and looking back at my photos and the whole day, I just smiled to myself and really enjoyed my music, the sounds of the crashing waves and the winter day on the Oregon Coast.  I already miss it.  

Yaquina Lighthouse!

Pacific City!

On the way to Netarts!

Devil's Punchbowl!

Hwy 20 West!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Banana Oat Pancakes on a snowy Portland morning!

It snowed inside too!

I woke up this morning late and the whole city was covered in a white soft blanket of snow.  My neighborhood at least was covered in snow and my garden was just so sweet and white and our baby trees were stealthily holding up small piles of the white stuff with all their might on their teeny spruce branches.  It was cozy in the house, I made myself coffee and then decided I needed pancakes!  Here's a recipe I use often and I added a few things like a smashed banana and some oats to give the pancakes a little more substance.  Enjoy making them while watching the snow fly wherever you are!

Banana and Oat Pancakes

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
2t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
3 T melted butter
1/4 cup oats
1 smashed banana
Maple Syrup, Nutella, Chocolate Chips or Peanut Butter… whatever you like on your pancakes!

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, smashed banana, and melted butter.  Add to dry ingredients and whisk just until blended.

I use a cast iron pan to cook my pancakes making them about the size of a dessert plate.  You can however, make them any size or shape you'd like.  Using my well seasoned cast iron pan, I rarely need much butter or oil for the pancakes to not stick. Whatever the size or type of griddle, let the pancakes cook on low-med heat until bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes.  Flip over and cook till golden, about 1 min. longer.

Today, Steven had chocolate chips and maple syrup on his pancakes.  I opted for a little maple syrup, a snow storm of powdered sugar and some raspberries I had in the freezer.  It felt like a pancake kind of morning and it was fun making something everyone could enjoy.

Happy pancake making!

Perfect Pancakes!

My favorite time of year!

My favorite time of year!
in the leaves