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The Comfort of cheese: so many cheeses—where to start?

Everyone seems to like cheese! Me, too, but I have to admit this is the only time of year that I allow myself to indulge with extra cheese in my cooking. Something about chilly weather that inspires the comfort of cheese. But where to start?
I taste as much as I can. When shopping Metropolitan Market in Seattle or Whole Foods in any city, I linger as long as I can next to the cheese display. So many cheeses, and they are all available to taste! There in lies the root source of my education. As with wine—if it tastes good to me, it is a good match. So I usually tell our customers to taste a new one each time you shop where there is a well versed cheese monger. Most of them will ask you a few questions about what you like before making their suggestions. Then taste and learn!
With a world of wonderful cheeses to pick from, how is it that the only cheese with “American” as a name is not a cheese at all but a cheese-food. American cheese is a blend or processed product that is only flavored with aged cheese. It may be closer to that ubiquitous cheese ball that surfaces this time of year. I am risking my reputation, but I admit to liking both! Of course, there are many American cheese varieties, Colby, Monterey Jack, and Humboldt Fog, to name a few. American cheeses are often judged inferior to French and other European cheeses. One factor that has changed in our favor is the recent allowance for unpasteurized milk in cheese production. As long as the producer ages the raw milk cheese for a minimum of 60 days, along with careful testing and maintenance, local artisan producers now have advantage to their European counterparts. The majority of these cheeses are “farmstead,” that is, cows raised and milked on the farm and the subsequent cheese is also made on the farm. This has brought back a renewed interest in American cheese. In fact some of my professional magazines are encouraging restaurants to add a cheese course or cheese plate for a finale, a practice that is more Euro than American.
Here in Oregon there are some amazing artisan cheeses that for us stack up to the best. One example is from the Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon. In 2003 at the London World Cheese Award they were voted best blue cheese. This was the first time an American cheese factory had won this high honor. We carry theirs and other fine Oregon produced cheeses in our own shop. These notables include Willamette Valley Farmstead cheeses, Fraga farms goat cheeses, and Rivers Edge Cheeses.
Our guests really appreciate being introduced to what is good local cheese on our cheese boards, where we highlight only the best on a marble slab presentation. Pick up a scrap of marble from anywhere that sells it for a reasonably priced decorative cheese platter. Reserve the cheese balls for a plate of their own.
And if cheese balls are too retro for you or you want to avoid risking a food snob’s criticism, we suggest a sophisticated alternative, a stuffed fresh mozzarella. You can either stretch homemade mozzarella, or just soak purchased fresh mozzarella in hot salted water and reshape it into a log with a spiral filling or even a stuffed round shape. The fillings can be fresh herbs, vegetables, proscuitto, anchovies, pesto, nuts, etc. See our recipe for fresh rolled mozzarella logs.
And another twist on an old theme, we make a sweet version of a cheese ball. See our recipe that is good with a chilled sparkling wine or winter punch.

MASCARPONE WITH DATES AND TRUFFLE HONEY
3-5 dates, pitted
1 cup Mascarpone
½ cup Cream Cheese
2 TBS plus 1 cup Toasted Hazelnuts, finely chopped
½ tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp truffle flavored honey, or plain honey
Method:
In food processor, process dates into paste. Add cheeses, vanilla, first hazelnuts and 1 tsp honey. (Taste before adding second tsp honey. If you want it sweeter, add, but it should be plenty sweet from the dates.)
Chill for 30 minutes then shape into one ball or a few small balls. Roll into more toasted chopped hazelnuts before serving with apple/pear slices, Pistacio biscotti,Gingersnaps, Ritz crackers, or Carr’s Wheat crackers. This makes a great filling for wine poached pears, with or without nuts, too.

FRESH MOZZARELLA WITH STUFFING
1 gallon water
8 TBS sea salt
1# fresh mozzarella curds (or substitute 1# fresh mozzarella balls – proceeding from second paragraph)
1 medium bowl filled with ice water
Cutting board
Rolling pin
¼ cup sun dried tomato pesto
1 bunch basil leaves
3 TBS pine nuts or other
Plastic film
Method: bring water and salt to a simmer; meanwhile cut curds into small pieces, approx. ½” and place into a medium bowl; pour simmering water over curds and stir to begin melting curds and forming long strands; lift curds up with spoon and allow gravity to pull them down. Dip your hands in the ice water so that you can handle the heated curds. With one hand on the spoon, use the other hand to assist in stretching; continue stretching until curds develop a shine to them; form them into a ball and plunge into ice water to set up.

Remove house made balls from ice water (or purchased balls if using), and place back into simmering salt water to re-stretch. Remove as soon as cheese appears to be malleable. Place on a cutting board and roll as thin as possible without tearing, into a square like shape. Spread a thin layer of sun dried tomato pesto over the cheese, followed by several leaves of fresh basil. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Roll the cheeses into a log; wrap the log tightly with plastic film. This will help the log set up firmly. Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour before slicing.

PISTACHIO BISCOTTI
2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
6 oz sugar
3 oz white dry breadcrumbs
8 oz whole pistachio nuts
3 TBS toasted sesame seeds
½ tsp orange flower water (if you can find it)
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp anise extract
2 TBS orange juice
2 large eggs

egg wash–(1 egg and small amount of water blended)
powdered sugar

Method: sift flour with baking powder; add sugar and bread crumbs; add nuts. Combine wet ingredients and flavorings and gradually add into dry ingredients to form a firm dough. Roll into two 16” long logs; place onto baking sheet pan, brush with egg wash and dust with powdered sugar. Bake at 350ºF for about 25 minutes until golden brown; cool about 30 minutes. Slice log on angle into 1/2 inch cookies (or thinner if desired) and place cut side down on parchment lined pan. Second bake at 375ºF for approximately 15 minutes or until sides are golden brown.
Cool. Serve or store in air tight container.


IT’S ALL ABOUT PASSION…. BY BOB NERONI

Imagine going to a foreign place where you don’t speak the language and where your main objective is to work in one of the world’s best restaurants! Imagine asking to work for free for the sheer opportunity to learn. You take your resume to one of the chefs in the kitchen who tell you they will call if anything comes available. You wait two weeks and get the email to start work. Arriving in the kitchen, there are at least 20 other chefs working “apprentissages’ or ‘stage for short.

Well, for many it is a privilege to experience this world. And for Kyo, our former sous chef, the time spent abroad was quote, “life changing”. Culinary education isn’t enough for some chefs. The opportunity to travel the world and work with chefs in a variety of settings can help to mold a chef’s future style and direction.

So I sat down with Kyo to have a conversation about his recent eight month sojourn in San Sebastian and Barcelona, Spain.
Bob: How did you pick Spain?
Kyo: I wanted to improve my Spanish, so I enrolled in a 8-week language class in San Sebastian. It was pretty intense and I came away knowing a bit more, but have a long way to go. I could understand when the person speaking knew I needed them to slow down, otherwise the sheer speed of the language slowed my progress.

Bob: So it was while you were learning Spanish that you started looking for the opportunity. Were you particular about working at Mugaritz, under chef Andoni Luis?
Kyo: Yes, it was my first and only choice. I gave one of the chefs my resume and was told I would be contacted. It was more than two weeks before I received an email to report to work.

Bob: So what was your schedule?
Kyo: I worked a lot of hours—20/day. It makes a 12-hour shift look like nothing. I’m amazed by my own stamina. They didn’t serve dinner on Sunday night and closed on Monday, so we had about 36 hours off. The first 8 of those I slept, but I made up for it on Monday. Can you see 20 chefs away from home letting off steam from the previous week in the kitchen? It wasn’t pretty.

Bob: What was the hardest thing about the experience?
Kyo: The language barrier, long hours and some real abusive language. I didn’t speak as well as the others but I always understood when I was being yelled at.

Bob: Why do you think they used that approach?
Kyo: It is what drives the quality. They had so many chefs in the kitchen they had to keep everyone on the edge to maintain quality.

Bob: What was the facility like?
Kyo: Beautiful! They have several kitchens and lots of space including a service kitchen, the big production kitchen that is kept at 12 deg C, the family kitchen for cooking the staff meals, and the pastry kitchen also used for catering. They do a large business catering weddings, only weddings, for 150-200 people. It is what gets them through the winter. The kitchens were very well equipped. Any tool you can imagine was there!

Bob: So the restaurant is a seasonal business?
Kyo: Yes, the restaurant is well known but is a long way from Barcelona on a windy country road. The tourists come when it’s warm on the coast and that is the main season. The restaurant only seats 50 guests, and yet we had up to 32 chefs in the kitchen some days.

Bob: With so many chefs, how did they decide what to assign to you?
Kyo: I was lucky to end up as Chef de Partie, pescadoes or fish cook. I started like everyone outside at the barbeque grill. Heck some guys never get past that station. I went on to the aperitif station. Even though it was an 11 course degustation menu, meaning a tasting of foods, they also served three appetizers to start that were mostly new every night. So really it was 14 courses and I had to learn new stuff every night.

Bob: How much does that cost?
Kyo: About 115€.
Bob: Wow that is good. Did you have any creative input on the appetizers?
Kyo: Oh no, there are four chefs that do nothing but imagination and creative research, three fourths of which never makes it to the plate. They told me what to do. In that station, I was always in the weeds. They would tell me so fast in the native Spanish that I couldn’t get even half of it. I also realized they usually assign two people on that station, but I was always alone. I had to ask anyone standing nearby what the heck chef said.

Bob: Were they testing you or just believing in you that you could do it?
Kyo: Don’t know. I kept asking for help. I was doing 3 appetizers per guest, about 105 plates a night by myself.

Bob: So what kinds of appetizers did you do?
Kyo: They always did one of their signature dishes, a potato encrusted with clay. Yes it was natural gray clay (Kaolin) mixed with a dark squid stock, lactose and water, that was sprayed over beautiful little round cooked potatoes. Each potato was on a skewer and placed on a piece of Styrofoam so it could dry completely in an oven of about 70 deg C. When dry and cool enough to handle, the skewer was removed and the small hole covered with more wet clay and dried again. The potato itself would stay warm the whole time because the clay kept it warm. It was served on a plate of river rocks and when the waiter brought it to the table he would tell the guest which ones to eat! They served it with a garlic ali-oli.

Another appetizer was just a simple goats milk crème fraiche and beets cooked sous vide style, i.e. in a vacuum bag at low temperature for long time.

Bob: What was your favorite thing about the experience?
Kyo: The techniques! They were incredibly innovative. I think we actually have more variety and better quality ingredients here in America. But techniques and tools were amazing. They would use a compact Roner, kind of a portable bain marie that maintains constant temperature and keeps the water gently moving for sanitation. It was used to make incredible vegetables and meats. They come out incredibly tender and naturally flavored. You don’t have to do much more to them for service. They used laboratory beakers for serving sauces and such. They finished stuff at the tableside like adding the consommé to a dish.

Bob: So this restaurant has three Michelin stars and on the best restaurants in the world list. What do you think is required to receive such honors these days?
Kyo: Innovation. You have to be inventive. It isn’t enough to do the classics– you need to refine them.

Well, needless to say talking with Kyo is very energizing and reminds me why I am in this profession. I know why he has returned 20 lbs lighter! His passion is what makes celebrity but what makes Kyo genuine is he is driven by making the next great dish, not celebrity. He is already looking for the next opportunity, perhaps with Chef Ethan Stowell in Seattle, and eventually, I am sure, we’ll see him in his own place. I asked if he’d like to return to EVOO sometime soon and cook with us. He likes the idea. We will keep you posted. For more about Mugaritz restaurant, visit www.mugaritz.com.

Now for this week’s recipe. Here’s one of Kyo’s own creations that earned him recognition while working at Mona’s Bistro in the Greenlake area of Seattle. This one was named by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as one of the 15 legendary dishes of Seattle. Enjoy!

Arugula Salad
Serves 2

6 oz baby organic arugula
4 oz roasted red pepper, peeled and deseeded, torn into 1/4 inch pieces
4 oz Humboldt Fog chevre, 2 slices
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp white truffle oil
2 tsp. verjus
1.5 tbsp arbequina olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine honey and truffle oil, mix well with fork.
2. Mix arugula, roasted red peppers, verjus and olive oil in mixing bowl.
3. Add salt and pepper to desired taste.
4. Arrange salad mixture on 2 plates. Mound with some volume.
5. Add cheese slices as desired to the salad.
6. Take truffle honey and using a teaspoon, drizzle over finished salads. Serve immediately.


THERE’S MORE TO SQUASH THAN ZUCCHINI by Robert Neroni

Ever since a kid, I have had an aversion to zucchini squash; maybe because it was always steamed. A vegetable that is virtually all water to begin with just seems to dissolve into a lack luster and soggy pool on the plate. As my culinary career advanced so has my repertoire with all things squash. Guests are generally surprised at the varieties available throughout the year and especially here in Oregon in the fall and winter. I remember one of our first catering requests came from a group of doctors who wanted a Vegan experience, that is, no animal products what so ever. Thanks to the local farms combined with fall harvest, we were able to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner for several days without repeating a single vegetable preparation.
Squash comes in a variety of shapes and sizes weighing in just under a pound to up to fifteen pounds and more. Flesh tones range from green, golden–yellow to bright orange. Color in squash does not dictate flavor or sugar content. Winter squash take approximately three months longer to mature than the summer varieties and best harvested when the weather turns colder. Labeling squash by season is somewhat misleading today. Originally named because they store well in cool cellars, the winter varieties are actually available all year. Still our palates have grown accustomed to heavy thick skinned varieties showing up on our plates when the weather turns cold.
Special care should be taken when prepping the winter thick skin varieties since it is difficult to get a steady grip on the squash with your knife. Peeling these thick skin spheres also proves difficult, which is probably why so many are cooked in their skins till soft enough to scoop out the pulp. Many winter varieties of squash store up to 6 months in a well ventilated dry place at about 50°-55°F, and will keep best if their stems are in tack.
My favorite thing about Winter squash is that they lend themselves to every method of cooking: boiling, sautéing, steaming or baking (roasting), while the pulp makes fabulous quick breads, soufflés, custards and pies. No wonder there are so many ways to create variety in menus with squash!
No discussion of squash would be complete especially in October without mention of pumpkins, truly a North American native. The exact relationship to squash I am not sure—I leave that to the farmers, but I am told they one in the same. To me cooking the jack-o-lantern variety doesn’t really deliver results for the amount energy it takes. Except for roasting the seeds, I don’t cook those pumpkins. My produce guy brings me the sweet meat pumpkins that are great for soups and pies, and worth the effort.
Here now are a few of my favorite ways to prepare squash. Soup comes to the top of the list because of the time of year. I am also including my Zucchini mash, which is how I learned to like those watery wonders.

Here’s how I learned to love zucchini squash. Make them into a mash like potatoes with cream, and then season them well with fresh herbs. Now you’re talking. Note that the summer squash here will make their own liquid but must be watched so they don’t go dry and scorch.

HERBED END OF SUMMER SQUASH MASH
As needed EVOO
16 oz. Zucchini or yellow (or combination) squash, small dice
8 oz other winter squash, small diced
4 oz. onions, diced
1 TBS fresh fine herbs minced
2 TBS reduced cream*
To Taste sea salt
Method: Place all the cut vegetables and onions in medium sauce pot with a little EVOO . Allow vegetables to steam in the pan without adding water. Cook on medium heat for until tender, about 6-8 min. Roughly mash with potato masher. Add fresh herbs, cream and sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.
*To reduce cream: Start with twice what you want; place into pan over medium high heat. Bring to soft boil and continue a soft boil until evaporates to half the amount. Don’t leave the pot!
FINE HERBS
½ – 1 cup chervil, tarragon, chives, It. parsley
Method: Wash and pat very dry equal portions of herbs by volume; mince each and combine into a small bowl. Cover with paper towel and then plastic and refrigerate. It will keep a only a couple days after chopping so make only what you will use up in 2 days. The whole herbs keep longer in as whole herbs.

.

A great menu idea is to use the Curried version here served with Apple cheese turnovers and cilantro yogurt to round out the flavors.
ROASTED WINTER SQUASH SOUP (& CURRIED VARIATION)
2 #butternut squash, peeled, seeded, 1” pieces
to coat EVOO
2 carrots, 1” sliced
1 large onion, large dice
1 TBS thyme
1 qt chicken broth or water
4 teaspoon salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
Optional garnishes:
walnut oil
bleu cheese
toasted walnuts

Method: Preheat oven to 400ºF; place squash, carrots and onion in different roasting pans; drizzle each with olive oil, season with salt & pepper; roast about 45 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender and are beginning to caramelize; place vegetables in stockpot; add stock or water, thyme and salt & pepper; simmer until vegetables soften more; strain then purée the solids or pass them through a food mill; save the remaining liquid if desired to adjust consistency later; return purée to pot and adjust seasonings; garnish with walnut oil, bleu cheese and toasted nuts.

CURRY VARIATION: Add 2 TBS of good curry powder and 1 TBS of ground coriander while the onions are sautéing, then proceed as directed. Serve this version with Apple Turnovers and Cilantro Yogurt. (see recipes) Drizzle in some orange infused olive oil on the hot soup just before serving for optional pizzazz!

APPLE TURNOVERS WITH MANCHEGO CHEESE
Crust:
2 cups All Purpose flour
¼ tsp. sea salt
4 oz. shortening
4 oz. butter
½ cup iced water Filling:
1 TBS cinnamon
¾ cup sugar
5-7 Gravenstien or this seasons golden delicious apples, peeled & sliced
Pinch of sea salt and ½ tsp. ground coriander
Manchego (or white cheddar) cheese, about 1 cup crumbled/grated
1-2 TBS butter

Method: Pie crust: Combine flour and salt and sugar; mix to incorporate; add both fats and using a pastry blender, cut into flour; combine water, egg and vinegar into flour mixture and gently fold in to combine; place in plastic film and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. Roll out dough and cut into 3 inch to 4 inch circles. Set aside on cookie sheet in refrigerator.
Filling: Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Combine cinnamon, sugar coriander and a pinch of sea salt; toss with the apples. On each circle of dough, place 1 TBS of filling and 1-2 tsp crumbled Manchego cheese. Dot with butter. Fold over making half circle, and crimp with fork. Bake 400°F for 15- 25 minutes.
CILANTRO YOGURT
1 cup yogurt, dried *
¼ red onion, minced
1 TBS cilantro, chopped
To taste: sea salt and freshly ground coriander Method: Hang yogurt in cheesecloth over bowl or in container large enough to drain; Refrigerate 24 hours before using. It will resemble cheese. Blend remaining ingredients. Season to taste with pinch of sea salt and freshly ground coriander. Serve a dollop on Winter Squash Soup.
This is a traditional recipe for gnocchi for fall. I prefer the yellow variegated or Italian sage that grows well here for this recipe because it is a heartier.
SWEET PUMPKIN GNOCCHI WITH SAGE BUTTER
1# potatoes, russets
1# sweet pumpkin, cut into pieces
1 ¾ – 2 cups AP flour
1 egg
Sea salt
Butter, as needed (1/4 cup)
¼ cup sage, rough chopped Method: boil the potatoes in their skins to cook, remove, peel and place through a ricer. Steam pumpkin until tender; remove meat from skin and place in ricer. Combine with potato; work in flour, egg and salt; dough should not be sticky to the touch. Roll into long cylinders on floured surface; cut into desired size and mark with fork or gnocchi paddle; place in boiling salted water and cook until they rise to the surface of the water; drain well – reserve on a sheet pan.
Sauce: Heat butter over moderate flame. Just as the butter begins to brown, add the chopped sage. Strain out the pieces of sage and toss butter with cooked gnocchi; season with pumpkin oil if available, salt pepper and coriander.


How to shorten the distance from Farm to Table

Summer is in full swing, kids are all out of school, visitors in town, and farms are once again making their way to open markets. When Lenore and I first arrived four summers ago, we began sourcing ingredients, which tends to take allot of time since our commitment is to use local, organic, seasonal, and sustainably produced products. Even with the frequency of deliveries at the coast, I still couldn’t get the best and freshest because the small farms were not dialed into our little strip up on the North Coast. I like many other chefs in our community participate in the chef-farm collaborative, where as the name implies, chefs and farmers meet one on one to talk about availability and what’s new. I met not only produce farmers, but was able to link up with ranchers, dairypersons, and seafood producers as well. For more on the Farm-Chef connection, visit www.ecotrust.org/foodfarms/farmerchef.

These producers, i.e., farmers, fisherpersons, ranchers, dairypersons, etc, are integral to our success in starting with the best ingredients. It is impossible on my own to stay up on all the trends, seasonal variables and multitude of things that impact products at the source. We depend on being educated by those producers and artisans and all those who support our efforts on a daily basis, including various brokers who are in the middle.

I have met artisan cheese makers who have helped me build our cheese counter. It is mutually beneficial because I carry their products to the beach, and their cheeses have helped EVOO pick up a few of the customers who loved buying cheeses from the old Osborne deli.

Lenore and I have always maintained that the best meals start with the best ingredients so once we became comfortable with our sources we wanted be sure that our students and guests could find the same quality where they shop. Of course, one of the shortest paths from farm to table is to grow your own. Hats off to those who maintain a sustainable vegetable garden! Unfortunately, the wide spread availability of organic and sustainably produced products in supermarkets still needs improvement. In the summertime, one of the best resources for the consumer is their local farmer’s markets. The internet provides ample websites to help source out seasonal markets as well as markets committed to sustainability. Look at such sites as Local Harvest, http://www.localharvest.org/, to find good resources across the United States.

Shortening the distance from farm to table by buying seasonal and close to home is one way to strengthen your community. Consider joining a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, where you actually partner with one or more local farms by paying them a fee early in the season when they are still buying seeds and planting. You then receive the freshest locally grown produce all throughout the growing season! In turn the farmers gain a guaranteed customer base throughout the summer. CSA’s and going to the open markets are small but significant ways to keep small farmers prosperous and working in our state.

Without opening up a political debate, I think there is still some confusion about “organic” vs. “sustainable.” Just being organic, that is, produced without chemicals, isn’t necessarily sustainable. The word sustainable speaks to the “long term” viability of what we do now. Can we live with our choices and the long term effects? This is most clear when considering the “green” aspects of sustainability. Of course there are consequences to depleting soil and over use of chemicals. Consider the contradiction in purchasing produce, for example, that is labeled organic from a South American country and the fuel it takes to get it to the markets in the Northwest. In addition, we want to consider the laborers and field hands and ask if they earn living wages, have healthy living quarters, and are treated equitably.

So for me, the best organic foods are those that are produced locally, in season, and by farms that integrate the principles of social and economic equity for workers as well as environmental health. It is important to note that there are many farms who practice organic farming as well as sustainability but who are not yet officially certified. And if they were, having organic certification does not ensure fair practices for workers. It takes a large financial commitment to gain organic certification for the smaller farms, so I think for now it is more important to be on the sustainable path than to have the certification paperwork. So I ask questions of my vendors and producers. Lenore asks questions on business practices of the manufacturers that produce the culinary tools and gifts we sell in our gift store as well. We humbly aspire to become more and more sustainable as a business, and know it is a process that is not accomplished quickly. We believe that every consumer can take small steps toward creating sustainability. The more we learn the more we apply in our own commerce the closer we get. Every little step adds up.

Much to my wife’s surprise, I have become adamant, no, she would say stubborn, about using produce not just sustainable but in the local season. It is my personal commitment to keep as many of the dollars I spend on ingredients in the state where I live, and so I am going to wait for Oregon’s season for tomatoes! I know I can get organically grown hot house tomatoes all year long, and California tomatoes that are in season earlier than Oregon, but my commitment is to Oregon farmers as much as possible.

What it all boils down to is that though it is tempting to buy foods off season, we are sticking close to the natural growing season and buying in our own food community as much as possible to shorten the distance from farm to table.

Here’s a short list of what we are getting right now from Oregon farms:

Beets
Blackberries
Blueberries
Braising Mix
Carrots
Cherries
Edible flowers
English peas
Fennel
Garlic
Green beans
Herbs (cilantro, basil, chives, rosemary, lemon verbena, mint, sage, tarragon)
Leeks
Radishes
Shallots
Squash blossoms
Stone fruits like peaches, plums, apricots
Summer Squash
Sweet Onions
Wild greens

Here’s an example of what you might receive from your CSA partner this week in the summer and a week this Fall.
Summer CSA Box Winter CSA box
Blueberries
Raspberries
Peaches
Marion berries
Oregon wild rice
Summer Squash or Squash blossoms
Golden Beets
Haricot vert green beans
Sweet onions
Goat Cheese
Melon Heirloom Tomatoes
Radicchio
Pimiemtos
Arugula
Apples
Grapes
Pears
Melon
Leeks
Dry roasted hazelnuts
Chevre goat cheese

HABONARO CHILI SALSA
1 yellow bell pepper
1 sweet onion
¼ cup cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, paste
1 red bell pepper
1 Habanero chili pepper
2 each summer squash
1 TBS lemon verbena
As needed sea salt, coriander and lime juice Method: Grill the vegetables and cool; dice the vegetables and place in large bowl (be sure to remove the membrane and seeds of all the peppers); chop the herbs and add them and remaining ingredients to the vegetable mixture; adjust seasonings and serve with pork or fish.

PEACH CRUMBLE
4 –5# firm, ripe peaches
1 orange, zested
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1½ cups plus 3 tsp All Purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
½ cup Amaretti cookies, crushed (optional)
½# cold butter, diced Method: Preheat the oven to 350F; butter the inside of a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish. Blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then shock them in cold water; peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl; add the orange zest, ¼ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, and 2 TBS of flour; toss well. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes; if there is a lot of liquid add 1 more TBS of flour; pour the peaches into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, cookies and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly; sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches; bake for 1 hour or until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly.

SUMMER PEAS & LIGHT PASTA CARBONARA ( NO CREAM OR EGG)
4 oz Pancetta or bacon, rendered and chopped ¼”
3 TBS shallots, minced
2-3 TBS EVOO
½ cup parmesan, finely grated
1# spaghetti
1-2 cups fresh peas*
sea salt, to taste
3 TBS flat leaf parsley, minced
Method: Cook spaghetti in 1 ½ gal salty water until tender to the tooth (al dente), according to package. (all brands do not cook the same rate)

Sauté pancetta or bacon with shallots in medium sauté pan and cook to render fat and crisp bacon. (Shallots should be aromatic and translucent) Add drained cooked pasta to pan along with olive oil and peas. Tossing to warm peas.

Remove from heat and toss with cheese; taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

*You may substitute frozen peas for fresh; fresh peas may be blanched before adding. To blanch, drop shelled peas into boiling salted water for 30 seconds; shock in ice water and drain immediately.

SUMMER BEET SALAD (RAW)
1 lb young summer beets
1 red onion
¼ cup basil, chiffonade
2 TBS cherry vinegar
3 TBS EVOO (orange flavored-if available) *
To taste: sea salt, fresh ground coriander, fresh ground pepper Method: 1# beets, 1 red onion, ¼ cup basil, 2 TBS sherry vinegar, 3 TBS orange EVOO – method: julienne the beets into a medium bowl; slice the onions and toss together with beets; loosely chop the basil and add to the vegetables; add the vinegar – toss; add the oil – toss; adjust seasonings with sea salt, coriander and pepper.

*You may infuse 3 TBS good EVOO oil with 2 tsp orange zest for 2-3 hours if you cannot find Orange infused oil in the market.


No sweat! Meals for the Dog Days of summer

Yes the dog days of summer¦. Where in the world did that expression come from anyway? Lenore tells me the origins are ancient, coming from the big dog constellation, whose brightest star, Sirius, rises with the sun during the summertime in the northern hemisphere. I have lived a long time not knowing that. To me it denotes hot and muggy weather and a great time not to cook, especially indoors. It inspires me to make salads and all things cool and crisp! It also makes me think of another dog, as in hot dogs cooked over a beach fire—but we will save sausage making for another article.

So the ancient Romans thought that because Sirius is such a bright star that we must surely receive heat from it and when it coincides with the sun July 3 through Aug 11, or there about, it delivers even more heat. Of course we are much wiser than the ancient Romans and we know rising summer temperatures have nothing to do with that star. Still I guess it is nice to know the origin of the saying.

So now back to the better known and popular meaning for the “dog days. When I worked in Wash DC, on the muggiest days, so very hot and very humid, only cold liquid seemed to matter. Especially since most of those days I was in the kitchen where even with air conditioning, the ovens and stoves always prevailed. Those were the days our Cuban and Mexican cooks would put together some pretty refreshing concoctions that kept us all going. They’d refer to these drinks as agua fresca. The reason they were so interesting to me is that it would never occur to me at any other time to drink cucumber flavored water sometimes using only the peels and a few lemon slices. Except on those dog days, when I would actually crave it. More recently, I make my own version of agua fresca that has little more fruit in the water to keep it only lightly sweetened. I have included a couple recipes that I make for our staff at EVOO during the work day to keep everyone well hydrated.

As for no-sweat menu ideas, I like salads. No-heat menu planning at its best! And now the market is overflowing with all the best salad ingredients. This week, I brought in the first of the season Oregon grown tomatoes, and tomatoes will star in every meal until September 30 or as long as they are available! Panzanella salad, aka Italian bread salad, is one of our favorites where tomatoes are prominent. This sandwich in a bowl conjures up memories of dining in Florence Italy during tomato season. Making Panzanella in a restaurant I would most likely peel the tomatoes, but during the dog days even boiling water to blanch a tomato is too hot! In the recipe that follows make it with or without skin on the tomatoes, your choice.

Melons offer cool dining with cantaloupe, honeydew, Crenshaw’s, and watermelon, eaten as is, slightly chilled or made into a great summer soup, beverage, salsa, or salad. Try your favorite summer fish with a watermelon salsa for a refreshing summer meal.

When eating out, I admit to enjoying a good sushi bar for the real deal. I love watching the masters create their tasty works of gourmet art. Homemade sushi is easy when you stick to the basics and use great Pacific Northwest ingredients to produce the cool light fare.
One tip for relaxed summer dining is to find a spot with a view of a cool body of water, whether you are inside or outside, it’s the view that offers cooling satisfaction. I enjoy eating light during the dog days. I enjoy time off from the stove and the ease of creating satisfying meals with little more than produce. Lenore reminds me that eating protein is important too, so remember to grill a few extra chicken breasts to freeze and use when no cooking in the house is preferred. Legumes such as garbanzo beans offer good protein and can be purchased in cans—but do rinse them well and chill before using.

I would be remiss to leave the topic of dog days without mentioning our canine friends. After all they get hot too and we need to remember that they need to remain well hydrated in the summer. So we are including a recipe for them, created by Caron Hart, part of the EVOO family. She makes them for her Labrador, Iris, and has taste tested them on our standard poodles, Olivia and Taylor. All give their enthusiastic approval for beating the heat of the doggie days of summer!
CUCUMBER FRESCA makes 1 quart
½-1 cucumber, sliced
¼ cup fennel, sliced
½ cup black berries
½ cup raspberry
1-2 stems of tarragon
(or basil leaves)
½ quart filtered water
½ quart sparkling water or Gingerale ( for sweeter results)

Put together in a pitcher and muddle* to extract flavors; Add the chilled filtered water and chilled sparkling water or any combination of liquid. Sometimes we use leftover sparkling grape juice that is not going to last for our next service.
*to muddle is to mash or crush with spoon or rod-like tool with flattened end.

CITRUS WATER makes 1 gallon
Up to 2 cups of citrus juices such as lemon, lime and orange
1-3 TBS honey (optional)
½ gal cold filtered water
½ gal ice cubes
Method: Blend all in large container. Adjust the honey to suit your taste, but keep it on the less sweet side. Chef’s note: Don’t expect this to taste like pop or fruit juice as it is meant to flavored water that is refreshing, nutritious, and low cal.

PUPPY POPS (by Caron Hart)
Chicken bones, skin, giblets, scraps of meat after roasting a chicken


CHILL Making ice cream is a smooth move!

“I scream you scream we all scream for ICE CREAM!” That childhood riddle (*) rings in my head when I think of summer and one of my favorite creative outlets, that of making ice cream.

About twenty five years ago I bought my first ice cream maker from William Sonoma, and quite a serious machine it was. As a chef it marked somewhat of a right of passage to own such an expensive tool. Interestingly, I used it only a few times at home, as it wasn’t large enough to use in the places I was working, and so it sat on the shelf looking impressive, without much action. In fact, it wasn’t until we opened EVOO, that I put some miles on it.

Now, it is so much a part of our daily routine that the dusty days of shelf-sitting is but a dim memory. I find making ice cream incredibly rewarding because the process can be so creative. Now mind you I am not a fan of the “iron chef” way of making every secret ingredient into ice cream. I draw the line on “trout ice cream.” But I do enjoy experimenting outside the box with herbs and spices and, of course, all sorts of fruit/veggie and nut/herb combinations. One constant favorite of mine is no surprise any longer, is coriander sour cream ice cream, which for me just transcends the average apple pie to greater heights and takes the chocolate flourless treats up several notches. (did I just say that, Emeril?).

For me making ice cream falls into the category of “what is so hard about that?” It is why I make my own pasta—it is so easy—I cannot think “why not?” Here’s all there is to making ice cream.

Start with basic custard: egg yolks, cream, and sugar (see recipes). Next, you need to decide on a flavoring—keep it simply vanilla or use your imagination. Right now I am thinking of Cherry Amaretto because cherries are in season. Throw in some dark chocolate pieces after churning and a new flavor is born. How about Chocolate Hazelnut with fresh raspberries folded in; and Vanilla bean folded with Cashew Brittle!

The secret to my ice cream is in the heating of the custard. After placing the egg yolks, cream and sugar into a medium saucepan, I whisk to combine and place over medium flame. Switching to a rubber spatula, I stir in figure eight motion, scrapping down the sides every other turn, until the mixture coats the spatula (or the back of a spoon). This might be a perfect time to for you to invest in a digital thermometer because taking it to the exact temperature of 185°F is needed, and “coating the spatula” isn’t an exact measurement. Once to temperature, I remove it from the heat and strain through a fine mesh into a large metal pan or bowl for cooling. I want to get the custard as cold as possible before churning; at least 40°F or lower. The cooler I take the base the shorter the churn time, which translates to a creamier ice cream.

I recommend you follow your machine manufacturer directions from here. Right after churning, the ice cream resembles soft serve—very nice but still not ice cream yet. You will want to place it into a container, plastic with tight lid is my choice, and freeze for at least 3-5 hours before serving. I usually place a piece of parchment paper on top of the soft ice cream before snapping on the tight lid. I think this helps keep the ice crystals away. And I do this with store purchased ice cream too—keeping the cardboard container in a plastic bag or wrapped in foil to extend its freshness.

What about other frozen treats? Gelato is an Italian favorite that is increasing in popularity in the US. In a gelato, the high butter fat of ice creams is displaced with more concentrated flavorings. Check out my Hazelnut Gelato, for example, and see how many hazelnuts are required to create the intense flavor of the finished gelato.

Sorbets differ from Sherbets (also lower butterfat-1-2%), in that they have no dairy and are fat free. They are essentially a frozen ice, usually fruit based that is churned into a smooth whole fresh fruit taste. My favorite is Strawberry Sorbet (see recipe) which I use on strawberry shortcake when fresh berries are out of season! I usually make sorbet from the frozen berries I processed during the peak of berry season. That way I almost always have a true berry flavor, even in the winter.

If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can still make granites! These are frozen non-dairy mixtures made from sweetened fruits; you can stay savory too with a tarragon gewürztraminer or a tomato ice. To make, place the mixture in a freezer pan or ice cube tray. Instead of churning in a machine, you agitated with a fork, every 35-45 minutes while freezing, creating a slushy, coarser flavored “ice.” Check out the Tomato Horseradish Ice that I use on fresh shucked oysters or over a shrimp or crab cocktail.

There is no end to making up new ice creams, gelatos, sorbets and granites or granitas, (the Italian word for these icy combinations.)! I encourage everyone to give it a whirl, and especially if you own a not-frequently-used machine, just dust it off and get churning! Ciao, Bob


RECIPES OF THE WEEK-ice cream, gelatto, granites, & ices

** recipes referred to in story gazette story on ice cream,CHILL Making ice cream is a smooth move!
**TOMATO & HORSERADISH ICE (Granita)
8 oz organic tomato juice (Vegetable juice such as V-8 works well too)
1 TBS fresh horseradish, grated
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS ground coriander
Zest of 1 lemon
½ lemon juiced
Season with sea salt to taste
Method: blend ingredients; taste and season with sea salt, if needed.
Place mixture into freezer pan (shallow glass container or stainless steel pan/ice cube tray). Place level in freezer and stir with fork every 25-45 minutes, depending on how fast your freezer works, until all well frozen.

At service: place over fresh shrimp or crab salad for refreshing appetizers; or shave small amounts onto fresh shucked oysters.

Chef note: If you like it a little hotter, shake in a few drops of your favorite hot sauce before freezing.

**CORIANDER ICE CREAM
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
3 TBS ground coriander
¾ cup sour cream
Method: in a heavy sauce pan, combine heavy cream, sugar, yolks, salt and coriander; cook over low heat, stirring in figure-8 constantly for 12 -15 minutes or until custard coats the back of a spoon without running off. This is happens at about 185°F. Remove from heat and cool in shallow pan completely to 40°F.

Before churning, strain chilled mixture through fine sieve; add the sour cream, whisking to combine.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for ice cream machine blending.

EASY STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM
2¼ cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 cups unsweetened frozen or fresh washed, stemmed fresh strawberries

Method: in a heavy sauce pan, combine heavy cream, sugar, yolks, salt and strawberries; cook over low heat stirring constantly for 12 -15 minutes until it reaches 185°F or custard coats the spoon without running off; remove from heat and cool completely. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for ice cream machine blending.

For very light pink color and more variation in the finished product, add the berries the last 10 minutes of churning.
You may use the same procedure for raspberries and blackberries.
MINT ICE CREAM
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 bunch mint leaves, washed and patted dry (about 1 cup)
6 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup sour cream
Method: in a heavy sauce pan, combine 1 ½ cups heavy cream, sugar, mint, yolks, and salt; cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 12 -15 minutes; custard should coat the spoon without running off; remove from heat and cool.

Before churning, strain mixture through fine sieve; fold in sour cream, whisking to combine.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for ice cream machine blending.
Variation: Add chunks of dark 70% cocoa chocolate last 5 minutes of churning.

**STRAWBERRY SORBET
2 lbs. strawberries, washed, hulled; OR previously frozen strawberries, unsweetened
¼ cup honey
1 cup superfine sugar
pinch of sea salt
Method: Puree all berries and strain; add honey, sugar and salt; freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Remove to freezer, well sealed.

**HAZELNUT GELATO
2 cups toasted and skinned hazelnuts
1 tsp hazelnut oil
3 ½ cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 TBS Frangelico, optional
½ tsp vanilla paste

Method: Grind hazelnuts and set aside; place oil, milk, and nuts in a heavy sauce pan; bring to a boil; cover, remove from heat and steep for 30-60 minutes. Using a fine sieve, strain over a new sauce pan, pressing down firmly on nuts to extract all flavors. Place strained mixture into a new sauce pan; bring back to a simmer.

Beat yolks with sugar until frothy. When flavored milk is ready, temper yolk-mixture by adding warm milk to the egg-mixture a little at a time. When completely combined, place bowl of custard over simmering water, (double boiler fashion) and reheat until it is thick enough to coat a spoon.

Cool in an ice bath for approximately 1 hour and place in shallow pan in the refrigerator until it reaches 41°F. Add the vanilla paste and Frangelico, if using. (The chilled custard is now ready to be placed into the ice cream machine to finish, according to machine directions.)

Remember a true gelato doesn’t contain as much “air” as ice cream because it churns less, making gelato denser in texture. Follow your machine directions for gelato.


Dueling Dinners, A Friendly Cook-off!

It was a beautifully crisp summer day in Cannon Beach last Tuesday. I took the day off to go fishing. I have taken up fly fishing—for salmon this summer, along with summer residents, Mike and his son Will. On previous Tuesdays we had scouted for fish and were content that we just hadn’t found the right location yet and happy for the practice. This day, we were going where the internet directed us. Confident, I invited our visiting guests from Maryland to join us, and Will loaned his fishing gear so they could fish, too. I was pretty sure they’d be content to snap some pictures of the scenery (and the fish that Mike and I catch).

The night before we all got together and the wives decided to have a relaxing day at the CB spa then come home to cook our catches on the Barbie. Sounded reasonable to us and then the conversation took a “what-if” turn. What if we don’t catch fish, then what? Well Marty, our friend from Seattle, proclaimed himself a great Carbonara cook and said with only a few ingredients and very little effort he’d cook it if we didn’t get fish. Next thing I know Lenore is bragging on my Carbonara and you guessed it, we were all signed up for a cook off regardless of salmon on the menu! Well, in my mind, all that nonsense would be forgotten when we came home with the fish.

The next morning we took off for the internet fishing hole looking for the promised fish. John and Marty, followed behind us in their car, in case they wanted to leave before us. At streamside, they watched us awhile and took some pictures. John even caught a salamander with his bare hands and snapped its mug shot before tossing it back. Then after the third fishing hole we took them to, they politely excused themselves, something about scaring the fish and the ford SUV they had rented couldn’t take the rough terrain. Now the pressure was really on. Mike and I worked it a bit longer and started talking about listing our gear on eBay. It was looking like we’d never catch a fish.

On the way back my attention turned to Carbonara. I know my recipe isn’t at all the classic method. Lenore makes one too, but again not the classic. It’s not that we don’t like the classic recipe, but it is just that we try to avoid using raw or under cooked eggs and the classic uses eggs that are cooked only by the heat of the pasta! So my version is reduced cream and no egg at all. And Lenore’s version is with olive oil and no egg or cream. Light and summery, she says.

The judge for the contest was self appointed. Claiming expertise on Carbonara, our friend, John took on the job. He had tasted a few different ones in his day, and Marty’s as well. Gee that sounds a little slanted right there, but they are “company” and it wouldn’t be polite to insist Lenore judge too!

Coming in empty handed again, I knew there wasn’t going to be much I could do to changes the course of the evening. The Cook-off was on. I do this very recipe for the Pasta 101 class, and it is often voted their favorite, but next to the real deal, I couldn’t be sure.

John and Marty were already home when we strolled in with tackle—no fish. Marty had already gathered his ingredients for Carbonara and was relaxing on the patio. I started to pull together my ingredients feeling very happy that I froze the English peas when they were sweet and fresh a few weeks ago. I was sure that gave me some edge. Then I pulled out my house smoked bacon made from pork bellies that I cured and smoked myself—I’m thinking, another plus. To keep it simple we are using dry pasta—same brand of linguini for both dishes. If only I could make fresh Pappardelle—Is that my secret ingredient? Marty is using pancetta since the ham he always uses wasn’t available. Sounds like a great substitution to me. He doesn’t use peas of any kind, so that could be a plus on my side.

Marty finishes his dish first—everyone gathers at the table—a few pictures—then serve it up! The ooze and ahs for Marty’s recipe were loudly ringing in my ears as I am still finishing my batch. At last, my bowl goes to the table—wait don’t forget the fresh grated aged parmesan. Again, snapping pictures and audible accolades coming from the wives and John. I sit down to my plate of both kinds side by side. I taste Marty’s; darn this is good. I taste mine; good but sure miss that homemade pasta; maybe I’ll try pancetta in my recipe next time—a nice salty addition.

Plates were clean—no one could even eat the salad Lenore made. We just sat there content. “Time to judge, John,” someone said. “I cannot,” he responded like a diplomat. Come on John, it’s your job to judge—you said so, I thought. “No, really I liked them both—they are so different, and both great!” So I proclaim Marty’s version the winner—after all I really enjoyed the garlicky version he created. Lenore smiled a proud smile—knowing how I much really like to win.

Here are the recipes for you to enjoy!
MARTY’S CARBONARA Watch out for the garlic! 1 # best quality spaghetti
½ # ham*, bacon or pancetta cubed
1 whole head garlic, peeled, sliced, reserve 1 TBS raw
3 eggs
Pepper and Salt to taste
1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Flat leaf parsley garnish
*When using Ham add EVOO for cooking in the pan since ham is so lean. Method: Cook the bacon in a skillet big enough to hold the finished dish. Pour off some of the fat leaving about 3 TBS. Sauté the garlic, (reserving 1 TBS for later), with bacon until slightly translucent and not brown. In separate pot, cook spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain well and toss in pan with bacon and garlic. Toss well to distribute meat and garlic. Remove from heat and stir in eggs and the reserved tablespoon of raw garlic. Toss gently to cook the eggs from the heat in the pasta and the pan off the heat now. Season with Salt Pepper and grated Parmesan Cheese. Serve immediately garnished with flat leaf parsley.

BOB’S CARBONARA
½ cup bacon, minced
½ cup shallots, minced
2 cup heavy cream, reduced to 1 cup
½ cup aged parmesan, finely grated
1# cooked spaghetti or other pasta
2 cup peas, blanched, optional
3 -5 TBS parsley, minced Method: Cook bacon in medium large pan to crisp and render fat; remove bacon and reserve; remove ½ the bacon fat; add shallots; cook until aromatic not brown; add cream and heat thoroughly; Add pasta, cheese and peas; dish up and garnish with parsley.


Tastes of BRAZIL….

I have always been a fan of the cuisines from different cultures and enjoy watching others bring their menus to life. That said as a chef I try never to attempt a menu from a culture that I know nothing about or if I cannot guarantee the authenticity of the recipes. That way my inspiration comes from the cuisine, but I am not held to the standard of that cuisine. When Sandra Werner and Nausa Crosby expressed interest in having me bring Brazil to life in Cannon Beach, I encouraged them to do it with me. Both women have been guests at the school and both are expatriates from Brazil now living in Cannon Beach.

The menu for THE TASTE OF BRAZIL class Sat. Jun 2 came together with ease since we all agreed to showcase many of the national dishes in one evening. It was the recipe development that created some challenges. First we were faced with the Portuguese language translation, and finding ingredients and appropriate substitutions for ingredients. Sandra ordered some imported ingredients from her connections, and we were feeling pretty set with a few American substitutions our Brazilian advisors approved.

Reservations began to trickle in. Soon we realized they were all friends of Sandra, and who were also Brazilian expatriates! Now the pressure began to mount–I am going to be cooking my first “authentic” Brazilian menu for a dozen or so Brazilian natives! Others who had spent significant time in Brazil signed up too; one couple came because they recently ate at a fabulous Brazilian restaurant and wanted to compare! I got the feeling that I was about to cook for a Brazilian family who had just given me their mothers’ recipes, and who were much better equipped to make them. To ease the pressure, both women assured me they were ready to work with me.

That morning we decided to have a trial run on the popular Brazilian bread, Pao de queijo. Nausa brought her bread baking skills in to monitor the cheesy bread production. And a good thing she did. The recipe seemed easy enough: milk, water, oil, eggs, salt, cheese and manioc starch, the native name for tapioca. No flour and as I mixed the ingredients, a glue-like mound formed in my bowl. It was so gelatinous I needed to get oil on my hands in order to form it. With Nausa’s encouragement, I kept going. Clearly if left alone, I would have thought the whole thing a mistake and started over. The finished bread filled the kitchen with nutty cheesy smells and it was brown and slightly crisp on the outside and softly chewy inside. Nausa had recommended we change the parmesan cheese to feta cheese and it resulted in a very soft center.

As the remaining dishes were prepped, I still had some trepidation. I was about to cook the raw snapper in coconut milk on top of the stove—in kind of a stew fashion way I had not done before and my instincts were fighting it. How could possibly turn out? My confidence was slowly being chipped away with each new dish, and I was mad at myself for not practicing on Lenore a week earlier.

By the time the Brazilian expatriate’s guests arrived a little early, I was braced for anything. To my relief, I found myself immediately drawn in by their excitement and esprit de corp. It seems their party had actually starter earlier at Sandra’s house for a sip of the national drink, Caipirinha. It is made with distilled sugar cane juice, (potent), muddled with lime and sugar. I am going to try it with RUM, which is readily available and is also the distilled sugar cane, including the molasses. After tasting, my nerves were grateful!

First course, Moqueca – the fish gently cooked in unsweetened coconut milk! A mixture of piri piri, meaning pepper-pepper, was added and the dish took on a pinkish cast. It was beautiful on the plate along side the chewy cheese bread. Something, I was told isn’t usually done, but it worked, they said! I waited for more guest comments on my first course. One of the guests graciously encouraged me to use more salt as Brazilian’s tend to like more salt than Americans. Another guest said it was just right. I said give a recipe to six chefs and there would be six different results. All nodded with understanding. And one guest said that is why we are here—for your interpretation of these recipes; you have make our “family food” much fancier! My confidence started to grow to its normal stride.

Next course Feijoada with Arroz Branco – beans and rice. Don’t be fooled by this simple combination. In all my years cooking, I have never spent as much time on a single bean dish! In the end though, I think they were the best beans I have ever eaten! (see recipe)

The braised Portuguese sausage with roasted pork loin was next, and if I learned only one thing from our Brazilian guests, it is that Brazilian’s like their meat! This was meat on meat and seemed to fulfill their expectation!

Dessert consisted of home-made passion fruit ice cream and some fresh bananas. I made a fresh caramel sauce to pour over all. It was another “interpretation.” Caramel is a flavor I saw several times in my own research on the cuisine, so I felt it would be well received. However, my guest cooks said I must also serve coffee and bon-bons to end a Brazilian celebration meal. Of course, coffee, one of Brazil’s most important crops! Both the coffee and the candies were among the imported ingredients Sandra had pre-arranged. And when we passed out the chocolate covered crunchy candies, the guests squealed with approval!

All-in-all it appeared that our guests and staff enjoyed the experience very much. We are already talking about making Tastes of Brazil an annual start to summer! Enjoy the recipes—make them your own! Ciao – Bob


RECIPE OF THE WEEK: FEIJOADA – BRAZILIAN BLACK BEANS

FEIJOADA – BRAZILIAN BLACK BEANS From TASTES OF BRAZIL Sat June 2, 2007
1# black beans, dried
1# salted beef (beef jerky)
8 TBS EVOO
2 onions, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1# pork ribs
1 TBS black pepper
5 bay leaves
Method: Cover/soak the beans in cold water overnight; soak the salted beef covered in water overnight as well. Drain the beans and put them into a large saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil over medium heat and then simmer for 30 minutes until tender.
Rinse the soaked beef well; add to the beans and cook for 90 minutes at 200 degrees F; heat a large saucepan over medium high heat; add the oil, onions and garlic and cook until softened; add the ribs, pepper and bay leaves; pour in the cooked beans and rehydrated meat and top up with water; place back in the oven for about 5 hours, until the meat falls off the bone. Remove bones and stir meat into beans. Serve.

Chef’s note: Serve the Feijoada with white or brown rice, sautéed greens, and a salad of butter lettuce, red onions and orange slices.


Guys and Grilling

Grilling and Father’s Day just seem to go together. Heck, grilling and men just seem to go together! Guys who may be a bit intimidated by the whole cooking thing become almost fearless at the grill! And have you seen the grill choices today? Equipped with stovetop burners, smoking compartments and rotisseries, some of these babies are even better than what is in the home kitchen. When it comes right down to it, though, it’s just heat and meat! It’s the culmination of the hunt; the primal need to take the steak and place it over an open fire and watch as the flesh browns creating intoxicating aromas, all the while the family gathers to enjoy the fruits of his labor. At least that is what gets some of us guys started. Being more realistic, it’s sometimes more like what happens when cooking a fresh caught trout over the open flame. The fish is charred black on the outside and raw in the middle! The humbling process begins and we learn what should be so easy actually takes some technique.

And it is technique I am talking about today. There are so many versions of how to grill and/or barbeque. There’s even a debate about the term barbeque itself, some defining it the same as grilling others not. Should we use charcoal or gas, par-cook the ribs or finish them in the oven, and so the “discussions” go on and on. I cannot begin to cover all the debates today, and in the end it will be just another opinion!

So lets start with the science of grilling. What actually happens when protein and heat get together? Technically a transformation occurs called the “Maillard” reaction. When high heat is applied, the browning of proteins begins, creating various flavors and aromas that contribute to our enjoyment of food. The controlled use of this process is used by food scientists to create flavor profiles for products geared at consumer buying habits – but that is a whole other subject.

Basics: How hot is hot enough for grilling? I use the two-second count. If you can hold your hand above the coals for only two seconds before instinctively jerking it away, then the coals are some where near 500°F and ready to use! If the coals are not ready, don’t rush it as that is when you can get off-flavors from the charcoal itself. Coals are meant to be white-hot! When using gas, don’t forget to preheat—about 20-30 minutes before you’ll need it, and then use the two-second count as well.

Grilling is a direct or indirect and dry heat method of cooking, making it best for the more tender cuts of meat. Cook individual tender cuts fast and hot, preserving the juices. Use cuts like New York strips, tenderloin filets, T-bone steaks, chicken fryers, and fish.
For straight direct heat grilling make sure that each piece of food is the same size and width, whether it be beef, chicken, fish or vegetables. That way each piece cooks evenly and they all finish at the same time. For example, it is best to cut blocks of salmon rather than placing a whole side on the grill, because the section where the filet tapers toward the tail is thin and will surely over cook before the rest is done.

In contrast to dry direct heat, barbequing is done by cooking slowly over low heat, indirect heat. For this method we prefer spare ribs, briskets, pork shoulders, and tougher cuts of meat that require the slow steady breaking down of connective tissues from moist heat.

And for the whole pieces of tender cuts, like whole tenderloin, whole fryers and whole turkey breasts, indirect high heat works best. This is accomplished by raking the hot coals to either side of the grill and placing the whole piece in the middle (over a drip pan); proceed with the grill covered and the meat will brown and cook without burning. Gas grills with two or more burners can be set at different temperatures for indirect heat, creating a similar outcome.

Troubleshooting: Flame flare-ups from dripping grease can be controlled. Trim all external fat and dry off any marinade that may be left on the meat. When the external degree of browning occurs, move pieces to finish cooking with indirect heat. That is a good time to brush on the sauce. We always have a water spray bottle handy for extreme flare-ups—just to gain control, but I don’t recommend using it constantly as the coals will cool down too much (spray the coals not the meat). Resist the temptation to put the BBQ sauce on too early.

Food Safety: After cooking those burgers to perfection take care not to place them on the very same plate that the raw burgers went on. Remember, items that touch raw meat (platters, tongs fork, knives, etc) should not touch the cooked foods. Be sure to discard marinades that are meant to bath the raw meat— unless you bring the marinade to a full boil for a minute or two to kill the bacteria and then use it at the table as a sauce. Whole muscle meats like bone on steaks can be served rare because the unwanted microbes are killed when heat is applied to the exterior. Fabricated meats such as hamburger or meats tenderized with needles require the product to be cooked to 155 F which will kill the unwanted bacteria – the problem is whatever was on the outside was put on the inside through fabrication. So if you are a fan of rare beef, choose whole muscle steaks over hamburger.

Choices: The equipment for grilling is another consideration and though we are strong proponents of charcoal grilling for its simplicity, there is allot to be said for the “lazy” side to using gas or propane. Nowadays grills have enough BTU’s to cook like the professionals. In fact there is a great evolutionary flat top grill designed for year round use outdoors. It’s called the EVO (for Evolution) grill and is manufactured in Beaverton OR. However, if price is an object, you might do as Lenore and I do, and keep replacing that old hibachi or kettle cooker. For the price and the results, we think simple is best.

A few good tools are a must regardless of your choice of grill. Long handled tongs ensure that hands stay far away from the rising heat. A charcoal chimney starter is nice, and the butane matchsticks are a must. You’ll need a good stiff brush for cleaning and a heatproof silicon brush for basting at the grill. A fish /veggie basket or mesh mat is very handy for cooking small cuts and fish of any kind to prevent sticking and falling through the grill slats.

Remember that anything you can cook on your stove or in your oven can be cooked outside with a little imagination and planning. Enjoy the process!

BBQ SAUCE FOUR WAYS*(just change the liquid-see recipe)
1 large onion, diced

3 TBLS butter

1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp chili powder
dash Worcestershire sauce
dash Tabasco
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ cup catsup, or tomato paste
1 cup strong beet stock or juice, strong espresso, dark beer, or water Method: place onions in heated sauce pot and caramelize without oil/fat; add 3 TBS salted butter and continue browning; add spices, Worcestershire and Tabasco – cook to combine; add remaining ingredients and simmer 5 minutes; add beet stock/juice, espresso, beer or water and simmer 20 minutes; reserve to use immediately or chill and keep refrigerated until needed.

BOB’S SPICE MIX
2 1/2 TBLS paprika
2 TBLS salt
2 TBLS garlic powder
2 TBLS coriander
1 TBLS black pepper 1 tsp ground mustard
1 TBLS onion powder
1 TBLS cayenne pepper
1 TBLS dried leaf oregano
1 TBLS dried thyme Method: blend all in small container—reserve in zip lock bag or snap close air tight container.
LENORE’S SPICY WINGS
12-24 chicken fryer wings

1 TBLS Sea salt
2 TBLS Garlic powder
2 TBLS Fresh ground pepper
3 TBLS Fresh ground coriander
Method: Wash the wings under running water in a colander. Dry with paper towel. Tuck little wing tip under “drumette” to form a V; place each dried tucked wing onto baking sheet.

Blend salt mix in a baggy; liberally sprinkle wings with salt mix, both sides, and refrigerate until your grill is ready.

When the coals are white hot, place the rack at the highest position about 6 inches above the heat. Be sure the grill has been cleaned and brushed with oil. Place the wings evenly over half the grill the first 3-5 minutes; then start to turn the wings over all to the other side of the grill. Repeat every 2 or 3 minutes until the wings are done. About 30 minutes. Move the grill down as the coals cool. Keep a water bottle handy so you can catch the flare ups.

Serve with a large green salad with chunky bleu cheese dressing.

ILSA’S OYSTERS

1-2 doz freshly shucked oysters

As needed, finely grated parmesan cheese

Fresh ground pepper Method: Shuck oysters maintaining the juice in the larger side of the shell. Place oysters in their shells on the hot grill. Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper. When they bubble remove and enjoy!

Ilsa says to tilt your head back and let the warm oyster slide into your mouth all at once!


THE SUBTLE IMPACT OF SEA SALTS

One key ingredient at the cooking school is SEA SALT. Some months ago, we conducted a tasting of various sea salts such as our favorites, Sel Gris, Fleur de Sel, and Cyprus Black Salt. Sea salt as an individual ingredient, like herbs and spices, actually counts for more than a salty flavoring, much like olive oil contributes more than a cooking medium. We consider sea salt an ingredient worthy of the added time it takes to select them. So how do we choose from the hundreds of brands and types available today?

First consideration for sea salts is to remember they are, after all, mostly sodium chloride! Table salt, being 99.9% NACL, is on one end of the continuum and some varieties of sea salt that contain up to16% natural trace minerals and electrolytes on the other end. So sometimes the differences in taste are subtle. The most distinctive characteristic may not be taste at all, but rather the color and texture of these specialty sea salts. Texture in salt is attributed to the way the salt crystallized. The area or region from which it originates determines the crystallization much the same way snow flakes are formed, and the color depends on where salts are collected and how they are processed.

For example, Fleur de Sel and Sel Gris, our everyday salts are both harvested at the mouth of the La Geurande River in the South of France where the saline is thick. In the Celtic style the salt is stirred with wooden rakes as it dries in the sun. When the pure white top layer is formed, it is immediately collected. This is considered prime because it doesn’t always appear as it depends on climate and weather conditions. It is celebrated when it does appear, and it is aptly named, Fleur de Sel, “salt flower.” The salt beneath is Sel Gris, or “gray salt,” taking the gray color from minerals absorbed as it dries on the mud flats. For a long time the gray layer in salt cultivation was left behind, and only the very white salt went to market.

Keep in mind, the natural minerals in sea salts are absent in ordinary table salt. And table salt usually contains added iodine and chemicals for anti-caking that contribute off-flavors and lower its absorbency. Some Kosher sea salts are available today, but generally Kosher salt is mostly like table salt that is a mined salt, and is a good all purpose choice for cooking because it is inexpensive, mostly free of the additives, and it meets the Jewish dietary guidelines for making Kosher meats, as well has being blessed by the rabbi. Though I sometimes still use Kosher salt, my preference is still sea salts that are harvested and dried naturally by the sun, and especially the slightly wet salts that are found in the layers closest to the earth. Wet salts absorb more quickly making them easier (for me, anyway) to control the amount I use than Kosher or table salts.

Black Sea salt is a good example of what we call a finishing salt. It is evaporated by sun in above ground pools that formed naturally from lava flows. “Activated charcoal” is added for color and detoxifying health benefits. As a finishing salt it adds striking color and texture, adding drama and smoky notes to fish, salads, Sushi, grilled meats, and tofu.

We suggest customers TASTE as many sea salts as possible before buying. Many markets do olive oil and salt tastings on Saturdays and kitchen supply shops now offer tastings, too. So take advantage of tasting opportunities–I do, and always learn something. Lenore and I are fortunate that we can ask for a sample before we stock our shelves with a product. That way we can get to know it and decide application before buying. Whenever someone asks about the salts we carry we encourage them to taste before buying.

To learn about salts in general, you might read one of the books on salt, like Salt: A World History or The Story of Salt, both by Mark Kurlansky. Or my personal favorite is the Food Network’s Alton Brown’s chronology of salt www.goodeatsfanpage.com. Also check the web to learn about specific brands and what makes them special and different. For me choosing salts is similar to choosing wines. I ask winemakers, wine store owners, wine reps directly when I can, and when a live person is unavailable, I read what they say about their wines on their websites and backs of labels. This info gets translated in my mind to foods and ingredients that go well with them.

To recap, salt as an ingredient should not be underestimated. When trying to decide which to buy, taste as many as you can first, and read about their properties. Find one that works well as an everyday all-purpose salt, like Sel Gris, the gray sea salt we use. Then experiment and play a little with the specialty salts. I have listed just a few, below. My bottom-line is that sea salt can contribute much more than the salt we need in our diet or the salty taste we crave. We can enjoy those dimensions along with textures and colors and healthy benefits that sea salts versus table salts provide.

Before leaving this subject I must confess my desire to use locally harvested sea salt in my cooking. In fact a good friend waded out by Haystack Rock and collected one gallon of sea water. We put it in a pot and brought it to a boil, allowing the water to evaporate. My friend had done the research on the methods Lewis and Clark used and he said they got 2/3 cup of salt for every gallon of boiled seawater. We watched the boiling pot until someone finally said, “A watched pot of boiling sea water does not make salt!” And then with a flourish from the pot and slight pop, we had our salt. It was pure white and exactly 2/3 cup! (Note: I am a “seasoned” professional; please don’t try this at home. Many more steps and tests for wholesomeness are required for the production of Haystack salt. Perhaps it’s prime for an eager grad-student in search of a topic.)

Some favorite “finishing salts” sea salts from www.seasalt.com
Fumee de Sel – Chardonnay Oak Smoked Fleur De Sel – by Le Tresor
Fleur de Sel is cold smoked with Chardonnay oak chips to preserve the mineral content and natural flavor of the salt.

Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt, fine and coarse. Alaea is the traditional Hawaiian table salt used to season and preserve. Alaea Hawaiian Sea Salt is non-processed and rich in trace minerals, all of which are found in sea water.
Maldon Sea Salt Natural product with no additives retaining sea water trace elements for a non-bitter taste. It is very “salty” and means less is required, an advantage for those who whish to reduce salt intake.
Black Truffle Salt Italian sea salt mixed with luxurious dried Black truffles harvested from the Abruzzi region of Italy.


MENU PLANNING—How to do it? By Robert Neroni

We are often asked where we get our inspiration for our menus. Then after describing the many periodicals we read, the food network shows we enjoy, and the desire to recreate what we have enjoyed eating out, we realize that there is more to the question than how we do our menus. The real question is “how to do it?” The answer is not so simple because there are so many choices and influences. We think there is more than one successful approach, for sure. No doubt though, whatever the style of menu planning a cook does, it corresponds proportionally to their success and satisfaction. So we thought we’d discuss a few menu planning methods that seem to work and provide some structure for the cooks that use them. Maybe you can identify your style or one you might like to try.

Of course, when consulting a TEXTBOOK or cookbook on the subject, we are advised that the key to a good menu is variety, as in variety of everything: cooking methods, colors, textures, temperatures and flavors. This is typically followed by a case in point example: Which is more appealing menu A or menu B?
Menu A
Steamed halibut Menu B
Mashed potatoes Pan-fried Potato Crusted Halibut
Steamed cauliflower Steamed Fresh Asparagus

Clearly variety of color, textures, and even method of cooking are important in this example.

As we gather our thoughts on the subject a pretty great example comes to mind from Lenore’s mom, Bette. As it turns out, it is a viable way of how one might tackle the job of making up menus.

We call it, “Monday is Meatloaf,” or the “Meat & Potato Method.” If you can tell the day of the week by what’s on the table, you may be already using this style. Notably here, Lenore’s mom was not an adventurous cook by any means, but the dishes she made were just like they’re supposed to be! I had the pleasure of eating Bette’s meals and told Lenore how great they were. And why not, Lenore laughs, “Mom, made 52 meatloaves a year, so she got pretty good at it!” So if Monday is Meatloaf, here is how the remaining week filled out according to Bette.

Tuesday was chicken, always in a tomato sauce, sort of cacciatore style served with egg noodles. Wednesday was stuffed bell peppers with mashed potatoes or some other hamburger dish—Bette always bought enough ground beef for meatloaf and one other meal. Of course she’d skip a day between. Often the second hamburger dish was called goulash as it was a one dish meal and had a sloppy joe consistency. Thursday was polish sausage or hot dogs with sauerkraut and came with macaroni and cheese. Lenore said she and Mom would gladly eat just the macaroni and cheese, but Dad had to have meat on the plate, even if just a hot dog! Friday consisted of one of two extremes: it was either in celebration of the weekend with steak and baked potatoes or it was leftovers from the week. Saturdays was about eating out—fast food or one of dad’s favorite restaurants where baked potatoes came with everything! Sundays was pot roast with carrots and potatoes and dark brown gravy. Least you think there were not many veggies, to Lenore’s mom credit every night had a different veggie as long as it was frozen peas, frozen corn, or the occasional fresh broccoli. Salads came later after Lenore had some Home Ec at school and it became her job to make them.

I deem the next the “Menu Trinity Method: Protein Starch & Veggie.” Of course this is clearly a spin off “Monday is meatloaf,” with the only difference being it doesn’t repeat by week day. The decision making is still based on protein as the center of the plate. Most restaurant menus are designed this way. Easy enough to pick the protein category—beef, chicken, pork, fish; a bit more challenging to choose the cut and the cooking method. The starch is easier still, choosing from potatoes, rice or pasta. Lots of variety comes in from the choice of vegetable—from asparagus to zucchini, you can make it raw, fresh, frozen or canned. To modernize this method, we suggest adding tofu, beans, lentils, quinoa, and other vegetable proteins to the animal proteins as center of the plate. And choose from the “newer starches” like barley, kasha, farro, and Chinese imperial black rice.

“WHAT’S IN THE MARKET METHOD” is a favorite of ours. We usually start in the produce section because produce is the center of the plate at our house. At least for us it is the biggest category of food on the plate. From there proteins and starches are added. To best work within the seasons, its good to start in the produce section or at the fish counter of the supermarket.

“THE MULTI-TASKING MENU PLANNER” is a contemporary approach. Multi tasking is just one of those phrases we all seem to use these days. And no wonder, with so much to do and so little time. The cooks who choose this method typically have one or two good prep days a week, with no time to scratch cook the rest of the week. Here’s a for instance, they might bake a chicken; (eating the breast meat that night) then pick the dark meat for a quick chicken enchilada, and maybe a third night it is chicken noodle soup.

If you even have less time for food preparation during the week, you might be a prime fit for the trendy “what’s for dinner” kitchens (www.whats4dinner.ca) that are springing up in America’s malls. There you choose from 12-15 recipes, already cooked, package them in amounts you need, and carefully take them home to your freezer. Now you have a different meal each night ready to heat and serve.

And finally there is our personal menu planning method. We ask ourselves a series of questions about the menus we create to for our Small Plates with Wine classes, as well those we might create for company at our house.

First, does it reflect sustainability—did we choose products close to home and locally produced? Are portions smaller, (nutritionally supported), and are the flavors bold and distinctive? Does it work within our budget and the available time to cook? Note: often the more economical the dish, the more time it takes. What will it look like on the plate?

Then we throw it past the “variety question.” Does it have different cooking methods, various textures, temperatures, colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors within the menu? We feel pretty strongly about giving our taste buds a work out so we become satisfied with the size portion and don’t require seconds. The more variety the more likely our taste buds will go the distance. It prevents “tongue fatigue.”

Before we close, let’s not forget to consult cookbooks and other resources. Remember when you used to buy a cookbook and none of the recipes worked, or you decided you would need an army of cooks or credentials to prepare the labor intensive items? Today you can trust that many chef authored cookbooks have teams of people testing their recipes before they are published. Also, go online and check out “Cook’s Illustrated” (www.cooksillustrated.com) or the “Food Network” (www.foodnetwork.com). Customers tell us they love “Epicurious” (www.epicurious.com) which claims the world’s greatest collection of recipes.

Recipe testing is notably what makes it possible for the success of today’s resources. I have simply “googled” an ingredient followed by the word “recipe” for a list too long to read. Sometimes the recipes found in this manner tell you whether or not they have been tested or even rated by users.

We think this is an immerging menu planning method too easy not to use. Let’s call it the “GOOGLE METHOD.” One might find a year’s worth of menus on line complete with recipes and even shopping lists!

One thing is certain; the resources to get menu planning done have increased ten-fold from when I started out. I am confident that many formulas work. Feel free to email your thoughts as well as questions for us to answer. Lenore and I would love to hear from you. info@evoo.biz.


SPRING TIME IS HIGH TIME FOR TEA! By Lenore Emery

I know it seems a bit old fashion, but the modern versions of afternoon tea sometimes referred to as “high tea” can be pure pleasure for both hosts and guests. It certainly has endured the test of time having been given British historical reference in the early 1800’s. Many fine hotels all across America serve everything from elegant formal affairs to afternoon tea and scones. Clearly a tea party is what you make it! Whether celebrating a birthday, graduation, Mother’s Day, or simply an excuse to dress up and use the fine china, a tea party is both trendy chic and traditional.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending TEA at the home of one of our customers. Shirley, who owns a vacation home here in Cannon Beach, has dropped in at the cooking school many times since we opened, and has even taken a class or two. Shirley’s enthusiasm for cooking is so evident in speaking with her that both Bob and I believe her to be an extraordinary cook! And indeed, we learned that Shirley’s passion is planning and giving afternoon tea! What a coincidence, I told Shirley one afternoon last December. I was writing curriculum at the time for how to give a TEA to debut this Spring! To my delight Shirley said she would work with me, but I didn’t expect an invitation for me and a guest to tea at her home! A good friend of mine, Wendy, had spent quite a long time as a child in London, and knew first hand all about tea time in Britain. Wendy was the perfect companion to take to tea at Shirley’s.

After greetings and introductions, we began in, almost unintended tutorial fashion, the how-to-do’s of giving a tea. The dining table was set for a very feminine tea party, so appropriate for the baby shower she had given just days earlier. She kept it set just to show us. The coffee table and mantel displayed many beautifully illustrated tea books from her collection, and though she insists nothing fancy is required, her collection of tea service pieces and art was ample and as special as any fine art collected over time. Our tea table was set in a bright windowed corner of her living room with a variety of tea cups, creamers and sugars that all came with a story. Dixie, close friend of Shirley’s, was there to help, and she is also a frequent hostess of teas. Dixie had made several of the menu items we tasted including some of the best shortbread I have tasted. Together Shirley and Dixie described tea-time formalities and traditions—everything from napkins, how to set the table, and what hand to use to serve. After all, this is the way our children learned their table manners, Shirley explained. And TEA isn’t just for girls and women, you know! Mother of six, three boys and three girls, one can only wonder how many tea parties she held. Now her children are all grown up and married with children of their own, and it’s clear that Shirley’s tea parties are more popular than ever.

I guess until now, I would have been more inclined to give a BRUNCH, and go out for TEA! I remember well the many tea dates Bob and I had with other chef friends—sort of a culmination to our working weekends, the busiest time for chefs. Late Sunday afternoon we would pick a different hotel in the Wash DC area to meet for tea, one of the most enjoyable times those days. Since working on the class and research at Shirley’s, I think teas and brunch have many similar attributes. I like that they are both typically held early in the day or early afternoon, and certainly end in plenty of time to get cleaned up without extending into the wee hours like so many dinner parties. And tea and brunch by virtue of their name give your guests a pretty good idea of what will be served. Most of the work is done in advance. Except for making the tea, the menu for tea can be made ahead of time. Some traditional items can be purchased like the jam and lemon curd. Shirley’s tea menu was mostly home made, and yet she was almost excited to share that some things came from the supermarket! She proclaimed them good enough to pass as homemade.

Whatever the occasion for tea, the approach we are taking at the school is to maintain the tradition of menu, time of day, and the genteel hospitality of it all. We prefer not to let words like “fancy” or “formal” deter us. And we really don’t fuss over which side of the guest to serve! In fact, during tea with just the four of us, Shirley, Dixie, Wendy and I, all with a fair amount of tea time experience, there were small differences of opinion on small details. But nothing we believed so important that we must change! And we agreed as for which hand to use to serve and clear—just pick one way and be as consistent as you can. Tea is the time for friendship, and that is the tradition of tea that’s worth repeating again and again!

A recipe follows:

JAM STUFFED ORANGE SCONES
2 cups All Purpose flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
1Tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon orange zest
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg lightly beaten
¾ cup heavy cream

Your favorite Jam Method: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside.
Blend egg and milk together. Gently fold liquid into flour mixture; stir only to combine and knead a few times until holds into a ball.
Place onto a floured board. Pat or roll into a about 8 inch diameter circle about ½ inch thick—careful not to go too thin! Cut circle into half and half again until you have 8 pieces. At this point, you may freeze dough for baking later.
To bake, preheat oven to 400ºF; Place slightly separated on ungreased sheet; sprinkle with sugar and bake for approximately 15 – 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and bottom.
To stuff a scone: After baking, cool slightly. Then make small slit in one side. Stuff with 1-2 teaspoons of raspberry jam. Serve immediately!

HOMEMADE LEMON CURD
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 eggs, whole, well beaten
¼ cup sugar
3 oz butter, cut into pieces

Method:
Blend eggs with juice, zest, sugar and butter and place over low flame; bring to boiling point, stirring constantly until thickened. Strain immediately through a fine sieve and cool. Hold in refrigerator for several weeks. Makes about 1 cup.


Kids in the Kitchen: teach them to cook!

Teaching kid’s classes provides us a growing repertoire of recipes that that work well, and those that don’t. Pizza is always popular! Pasta, too. But when we make a common dish like mac ‘n cheese from scratch, it often fails to live up to the child’s vision of what it should be. No surprise that the blue and yellow box, for example, is the standard for macaroni and cheese for children even as young as three! I loved it myself—until I read the ingredients. Adults—parent or teacher, who want kids to eat healthier, have quite a challenge. No doubt about it, the blue box will beat our scratch recipe for speed and ease of preparation, and it certainly encourages the child to be more independent—cooking class not needed. So when daring to make a recipe that has competition from a crafty version in a box, we advise making the new recipe as close to the “box” in flavor and appearance as possible. Don’t go for cutting fat and calories right away. Just make a great tasting alternative. Then hope that the satisfaction of “doing-it-myself” adds up to a desire to do it again and again! Our position on this subject is that teaching kids to cook helps develop their independence and gives them alternatives, but most importantly, they start to enjoy the process.

Of all the positive outcomes of learning to cook, we like that it helps kids enjoy the eating because they made it! A common expression heard in our classes is “this is the best “blank” I have ever eaten.” We can only guess it is because they did it themselves. With that kind of reaction to cooking, we dare to cook many foods that don’t make it to a kid’s list of favorite foods. For example, we were not real confident about making a fish burrito in one of our classes during Spring Break last year. But the children—8 to 13 years old, seemed quite eager to learn how to make it. The first step was to “bread” the fresh fish in a tasty seasoned bread coating. Everyone in class willingly took their turn during the breading procedure (process of getting the crispy coating to stick to the fish for cooking). Then again they enthusiastically helped “swim” the fish in the deep fat, (holding one end and moving it back and forth in the fat to set the breading before letting go), with adult supervision, of course. At this point, Lenore and I were encouraged that we had picked a recipe that made a hit with the kids. We assembled the other ingredients, and the children served themselves. The older kids filled their tortillas to the brim while the younger ones picked everything but the fish! Surprised we inquired. “We don’t eat fish,” they explained. I asked why they didn’t mention that while we were cooking and they didn’t know. I guessed the process of making it was enough fun to trump the fact that they don’t eat fish. Would the younger kids eventually enjoy eating the fish, we wondered, while the older kids went for seconds—proclaiming it the best fish taco they had ever had!

Parents often ask us how to get kids to eat better. Never having had kids, Lenore and I do not pretend to know for sure. We rely on good books on the subject by experts. We especially like the book, “Meals without Squeals!” by Christine Berman MPH, RD & Jacki Fromer, which is aimed at day care providers of young children. With a title like that, we believe mealtime to be one of the great challenges of childcare. Not speaking first hand, however, (having only parented our dogs, for which we provide a ration of kibbles at mealtime), I can only offer what I have read. These authors say to offer only healthy choices and allow kids to choose from them at mealtime—even if some items are left on the plate. They say avoid negotiation when it comes to food and mealtime, and only make exceptions to the family meal when there is an allergy or medical reason to do so. And of course, most authorities say kids will eat what they see parents and teachers eat, so it just makes good sense to be good role models. I don’ t judge, mind you—my dogs eat better than I do, but when people and kids tell us their creations are the best ever tasted, we go right back to our favorite way to help kids eat better, “teach them to cook.”

Here are a few of our kids tested recipes.

PIZZA DOUGH (using a mixer requires adult supervision)
1 cup water, warm 110°F. or less
1 pack active dry yeast, or about 2 ½ teaspoon
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 cups AP flour
1-2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 Teaspoons salt

Vocabulary & Abbreviations:
EVOO=extra virgin olive oil TT=to taste TBSP=Tablespoon TSP= teaspoon PUNCH DOWN= removing air after first rising with “fists.” KNEAD=working dough with rhythmic motion until it becomes very elastic—developing the gluten. This can also be accomplished in a mixer with dough hook and adult supervision. Method: 1. Combine water yeast and sugar in bowl of mixer & stir; set aside until mixture is foamy. 2. Add 1 ½ cups of the flour, 1 tablespoon of EVOO, and all of the salt blending with the dough hook on the mixer about 3 minutes, or mix by hand about 7 minutes. 3. Add flour gradually until all flour is incorporated. Mix with dough hook until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. OR, dump onto floured surface and knead for 4-7 minutes by hand. 4. Oil a clean bowl with remaining EVOO, swish dough in bowl and cover with towel. Let rise 1 to 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size. See diagram for shaping.
RED PIZZA SAUCE
2 Tablespoons EVOO
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can Roma tomatoes
1/2-1 cup water as needed
3 oz butter or EVOO
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
TT salt and pepper
Method: Heat EVOO in sauce pan. Over medium heat, sauté onions until soft about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add all tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add water, if needed. Simmer 20 minutes. Blend (in food processor or blender) and strain, if desired. Whisk in butter and parsley. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Use immediately or cool quickly in the refrigerator and save for another day.
YIELD: 2 ½ cups
EVOO=extra virgin olive oil
TT=to taste
As needed, means ingredient is optional and only used to thin down sauce.
Minced= very small squares


EATING VEGETARIAN, PART-TIME!

About a dozen years ago now, I spent about a year and half eating no animal products of any kind. Virtually Vegan! At the same time my sister was doing the Dr. McDougal no-fat diet and it sounded good, so I did that too. During that time, I was able to loose a substantial number of pounds. Pounds I found unfortunately over the next several years, some of which are still with me. That is how my education about eating vegetarian or vegan began. I had much to learn.

I admit I chose an extreme way to loose weight. As a chef, I was grooving on the many interesting dishes that I could make—sans meat. I liked taking my personal stand against industrialized agriculture too! But mostly I enjoyed what I still believe is true—that those who eat a vegetarian diet have a lower incidence of hypertension and/or death from type 2 diabetes. Not to mention the fact that eating five fruits and vegetables a day may reduce overall cancer rates by 20%! As time passed, I started missing certain flavors and learning that I could take a more green-clean approach to cooking meat without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. I could see myself cooking with animal products that were raised sustainable, without hormones and other additives, and I felt I could manage my own calories better by simply cutting portion sizes and eating fewer meals with meat, and especially red meat, as the center of the plate.

When I was eating no fat and weaning off vegan style, Lenore, my wife, was working as the director of the Children’s Kitchen, a small whole foods catering company for child and adult day care centers in the Seattle area. It was based on the premise that eating whole foods creates the best nutritional advantage for kids and adults. Their menus eliminated the convenience and processed foods, most canned foods, and the cooking was from whole grains and fresh raw ingredients prepared from scratch every day. There were some frozen, dehydrated, and sweets, that were from fruits rather than refined sugars, as much as possible. Portions of animal proteins were small and limited to a few times a week in the lunch cycle. Lenore was beginning to adopt some of the same principles at home, and we were having dishes like vegetable stacks with an ounce or two of homemade turkey sausage for accent and flavor. Sometimes the meat was the garnish, while fresh herbs, grains, nuts and vegetables were the center of the plate.

Fast forward now to when we started the cooking school here in Cannon Beach. We believed it required that we declare our style of cooking and guiding principles. Mediterranean seemed to be our favorite style—lots of salads, lots of veggies, and good breads and artisan cheese. Our “fat” choice for eating and cooking is extra virgin olive oil-EVOO. We were learning, too, that people of the Mediterranean enjoy less coronary heart disease, due in part because the predominate form of dietary fat is non-hydrogenated unsaturated fat. We were learning “French women don’t get fat”—when they stick to the traditional French style of eating. That means three home cooked meals a day, no skipping and no snacking, but if snacks are needed, yogurt is suggested. We have learned that yogurt is one food that helps keep our digestion working so we gladly add it. Many European cultures prepared their three meals after shopping three times a day, keeping with truly fresh ingredients. Now I cannot see us Americans doing that, but I do think more of us make up our menus after seeing what fresh ingredients are offered in the markets. So our preferred style and menus began to reflect the following guiding principles.

1.Use strict portion control for animal products— 3-4 ounce portions. Unless the fat and skin is required for the outcome, remove it!
2.Use red meat only once a week and maybe as a garnish or flavor agent, more than center of the plate.
3.Eat vegetarian part-time: include vegetarian (includes dairy and eggs) and even vegan (no animal products) on 2-4 days of the week. (This act alone greatly reduces cholesterol and calories).
4.Include salmon or other fish high in “omega 3” fats 1-3 times a week.
5.Enjoy cooking with foods that grow together in seasons. Flavors tend to mate better when they grow together. You see spring lamb with asparagus, for example.
6.Enjoy! Life is too short to be on a diet. Create a lifestyle and cook and eat using these few guiding principles based on healthful evidence.

Here is a week of Part-time Vegetarian Dinners:
(Note: These menus are featured in EVOO’s LIGHTEN UP series by instructor, Grace Laman, MS, RD. Supporting date also provide by Grace Laman.)

Monday* Roasted Red Pepper Pesto with Whole wheat Pasta
Tuesday Baked Chicken Tenders and Sweet Potato Fries
Wednesday*: Hearty Kale Stew, Quinoa Pistachio Salad
Thursday: Pork loin with pomegranate, Rosemary Potatoes, Baked figs with cinnamon
Friday* Balsamic wild mushroom lettuce wraps, Stir fry of Beef and Broccoli
Brown rice Carrot Cranberry Salad
Saturday: Pan Seared Salmon with Watercress sauce
Chocolate Apricot Torte
Sunday*: Garlic crostini w/carrot pate Spicy Black bean cakes Sweet Potato Sauce
Sesame Crusted Tofu Salad and Citrus Vinaigrette
*denotes VEGETARIAN


FEAR OF PIE-ING!

Mention making pie and strike fear in the eyes of even the accomplished cook. What about making pie strikes such fear? The crust, of course! Is it the rolling out? Or maybe transferring from the counter into the pan? Is it making the crimped or scalloped edge? Maybe it’s the memories of tasteless dry tough pies of the past. Why worry about the crust or even bother to make a pie since so many people leave the crust on the plate anyway? Aren’t they the ones who say, “I don’t even like pie;” maybe never having had a good crust? Then there are those who only eat pie—they even prefer pie to cake. Have they only had great pie crust? All are compelling reasons to avoid making pie. Still there may be hope for those willing to face their fear of pie-ing.

It may just be possible to gain some confidence in the art of making pie by practicing the French version of the dessert—called “galette.” One of the only times doing it the French way may be easier! A galette is a free formed tart made without a pie pan. Being pan-less also allows for more “variation” and even requires imperfection. We use this strategy at the cooking school to flake away some of the scariness, and have dub these pastry gems “beach pies.” Seems many guest cottages here don’t have pie pans anyway.

So now when you take away the fear of getting it into the pan and making the edge pretty and symmetrical, there’s still the challenge of making it flaky, tender, and flavorful. For starters, try to find a good pastry recipe. Borrow one from somebody whose pie crust you liked! Or use the one we are listing here. Either way you know that the ingredients work.

Now focus on method. Regardless of the ingredients the method should always be the same. Here are our eight tips for handling any list of ingredients and adapting most pie crust recipes with great success. So fearless pie warriors go ahead and make a “beach pie” for the shear pleasure of accomplishment!

Key points to remember every time:
1. Cold. Start with very cold ingredients (ice cold water, sour cream, egg). Fats should be very cold too. (butter, lard, shortening).
2. Blend dry ingredients first. Combine all dry ingredients well (flours, sugar, salt dry seasonings) in a dry food processor*—with the regular metal blade. Run until well blended.
3. Coat fat with flour. With processor off, add the cold fat in small chunks. Avoid handling the butter, lard or shortening with your fingers as it will warm up too much. “Pulse” the food processor* on and off to distribute the fat—about 5 seconds. Fat pieces should be much smaller though still visible, and well coated with the flour.
*(What? You say your beach house doesn’t have a food processor—oh, well there is a hand method too. To cut fat into the flour mixture, simply distribute the pieces of fat throughout the flour using two table knives that you “cut through” the mix until the pieces of fat are smaller and well coated with flour.)
4. Measure water carefully. Add the exact amount water and any other wet ingredients after careful measuring; again pulse for only about 4 seconds to wet the dough. (It not yet hold together, but do not add additional water until you are sure the mass will not hold together—after next step)
5. Handle very little. Dump the mixture onto parchment or waxed paper. By hand, quickly and gently press the dough together using the paper to mold it into one ball, and being careful not to over-work it. Divide into equal size flattened disks, about 6 ounces each. Wrap and place into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to one hour. This step relaxes the dough making it easier to roll; it also helps re-chill the fat that may have warmed up during mixing.
6. Keep from sticking. Roll one disk onto lightly floured surface using a rolling pin. Roll from the center out, all the way around the entire surface evenly. With each roll the dough grows larger until you reach your goal. If it stops getting bigger because it is stuck, lift dough with flat spatula, pancake turner or baker’s tool, and dust under with more flour. Slide rolled dough onto cookie sheet.
7. Shape like a pouch. Place the prepared filling onto center of the rolled crust leaving about 2 inches of dough on the outer edge. Fold this outer edge of dough over the filling, enclosing the filling and leaving an opening in the center. It looks sort of like a gathered pouch! Refrigerate again to let the dough relax after the rolling workout!
8. Bake on bottom shelf of 375° F preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the crust is brown and filling is cooked (fruit is tender).

Suggested Fillings:
1. Apples with cinnamon and honey or sugar. Apple, date and walnuts—with allspice, coriander and honey or sugar.
2. Berries in season with sugar and a touch of almond extract.
3. Savory Four Cheese—such as ricotta, farmer’s goat, grated mozzarella, and parmesan, a few fresh herbs like parsley or chervil, and seasonings of sea salt, pepper, coriander and allspice to taste.
4. Roasted tomato, black olives and fresh basil on a bed of seasoned ricotta cheese. Seasoned with salt pepper and coriander, and sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Recipe: Apple Beach Pie (aka Galette)
Crust: Use key points for method
2 cups AP Flour
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cup butter, very cold (you may substitute ½ cup well chilled lard or shortening for half the butter)
1/3 cup very cold water
½ tsp. white vinegar
1 egg, beaten with the water
Filling
2 apples, peeled, cored, sliced (Golden Delicious or Granny Smith)
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
dash sea salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground coriander
2 tsp butter
Blend sugar, salt, coriander and cinnamon; toss with apples. Place apple mixture onto the center of the crust; dot with butter and sprinkle with vanilla. Close pie by gathering up the edge and folding toward the center leaving the very center exposed. Bake as above.


OUR JANUARY 07 ROAD TRIP!

A COOKING ROAD TRIP IN JANUARY ……On Saturday, January 6, we set out for a little road trip heading south on 101. Objectives: drive on the best roads to avoid weather issues; relax allot; visit friends and family— do a little cooking using ingredients from the local markets; see some sights! And from all perspectives our objectives were met! It was an easy drive—longest leg 11 hours but most days were 5-6 hours of driving. Once we reached a destination we were chauffeured around, and that was sure nice. First stop was Calistoga and the Napa Valley—a wonderful place for foodies! Good friends moved there recently and took us to the Cakebread Cellars winery and HONIG Winery. Both favorites of ours and the tours very worth while. From Napa we arrived at cousins in BREA, CA for a quick overnight getting ready for the long drive to SCOTTSDALE AZ, via Palm Springs. Road conditions still great, but hills around Palm Springs had a liberal dusting of snow, and the temperature allowed for Sweaters and not the short sleeves both of us packed. Snow also threatened in Scottsdale but held off for our visit. In Scottsdale we visited family who said Yes, when we offered to cook, and proceeded to invite 20 of their friends and neighbors! Felt a little like a Small Plates class back at EVOO! While in Scottsdale, we toured the Taliesin campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. It was inspirational! http://www.franklloydwright.org/index.cfm?section=home&action=home

Leaving Scottsdale/Phoenix, we headed back to BREA, CA to visit those cousins again, this time long enough to take a short side trip for a little family reunion in OCEANSIDE. Again we volunteered to cook and what do you know? They said YES, too! By now we were mentally listing how to make this a permanent part of our road trips. MEALS in exchange for lodging, not a bad deal. The tools we brought along were simple and easily did the job! Yes, we ‘roughed’ it at some households where cooking supplies were from generations long passed. (It’s okay though Aunt P and Uncle J) Oh, and never assume every household has a cutting board! But still and all our basic supply kit of one good French knife, a paring knife, bread knife (we made bread everywhere we went) did the job. Also we had packed our seasoning trinity: sea salt, fresh black pepper (mill), and of course, our coriander mill with extra seeds on the side! We packed EVOO, too, forgetting where we were going—to olive country! Next time we’ll buy it along the way.

We had no idea what we would make each time, until we went to the markets. It was especially easy to shop in Napa—picking up fresh lemons, eggplant, red peppers, zucchini, portabellas, and fresh herbs. We picked up a few homemade sausages in our friends favorite butcher shop—and they were amazing! In Brea and Scottsdale, we also went to Italian markets to pick up some of our ingredients—we find these stores to be similar whatever city we are in—run by the family and been there for years! They are pretty reliable and reminded Bob of Cleveland shopping trips. We loved these market trips because it is a good way to get a feel for the area’s food scene and at the same time we’d usually sample interesting finds along the way.

The trip home was very pleasant considering we just missed the LA freeway snow and ice ordeal. Exactly one day later and we would have postponed our return by at least a day. Who would expect snow on the CA roadways! Actually we avoided all snow issues in January—even back home–it snowed 6 inches on the beach! Our house/poodle sitter, Glynis Valenti took great snow pictures for us.