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Posts tagged ‘salad’

Dinner at La Buca

After our Oregon journey to the beach at Lincoln City and our adventures in Woodburn, the Chef and I finally made it to Portland.

Now I’ve said this before on other trips through these parts, but I have to remind you that Portland is a serious food town! ( Check out last time we were through here)

The worst thing is trying to narrow it down as to where to go!  It can be quite overwhelming.

We decided to check out the East side again, because we had such luck last time.  And because it is more neighbourhood like, it is easier to park!

We headed towards East Burnside Road and parked on one of the side streets.  There was such a selection of places that we kept walking back and forth trying to decide.   We finally agreed on La Buca because it looked very inviting and had an outdoor patio.

La Buca Portland

It always makes me SO happy to be able to eat outside!  I was very used to that coming from Montreal where we would persevere patios from April to October just so we could say we were eating outside!  But I find that living in Victoria, there isn’t quite as much of that.  So I like to take advantage whenever I can!

We started with a nice little order of Bruschetta Pomodoro and some wine that came in a regular little juice glass.  I love wine like that, like you are over at someone’s Nona’s house.

It was fresh and delicious.

Then we split the salad of  romaine lettuce, with apple, walnuts and creamy gorgonzola dressing.  

And home made bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Also fresh and wonderful.

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Then the Chef ordered pollo marsala: chicken medallions sautéed with mushrooms in a marsala wine sauce, served with mashed potatoes.

Chicken Marsala

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And I went for the abituale: penne tossed with spicy italian sausage in a parmesan & roasted garlic tomato cream sauce.  I love spicy Italian sausage and just can’t resist it!

Pasta with spicy sausage

I couldn’t have been happier!

There isn’t too much I can think of that is better than sittin on a warm patio as the sun goes down, with your best person, eatin some pasta and sausage and drinkin wine out of a juice glass!!  That’s LIVIN!!

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And then, that temptress of a waitress enticed us to try the Tiramisu: a dessert of espresso dipped italian lady fingers layered with mascarpone and belgian chocolate!  By then we were giddy with delight so how could we resist!

Tiramisu

The real kicker in all this?  Just last week, at home in Victoria, we had a comparable, if not slightly inferior Italian meal at a local hot spot that cost us THREE times what this cost!!   Have I mentioned there is no sales tax in Oregon??

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After dinner we took a little stroll around the neigbourhood  ( mostly to let the food settle a little before we tried to stuff our bellies back in the car!)  and we found this lovely Art Deco style Coca Cola bottling plant!

Coca Cola plant

Shaved Salad

This one is just so beautiful that you might find it hard to eat regular salad after this!

Shaved salad

All you need is a decent mandolin slicer.

I have several of them and to be honest, most of them are crap,  or are good at one thing and not another. However, this particular semi professional kind, that I admit I bought at one of those fancy stores that I don’t usually buy stuff in, really does do the trick!   It cuts really really thin.  Which means it is really really sharp.  So BE CAREFUL!!

mandolin slicer

In this particular salad I shaved together:

  • radish
  • cucumber
  • fennel

I find it helps if you alternate the vegetables while you are slicing because they are so thin that is makes them hard to toss.

Once everything is sliced you can dress it ever so lightly.

All I used was a quick splash of plain old white vinegar and a spoonful of honey!   And a little salt and pepper and away you go!

But it would also be lovely with lemon juice instead.  Or better yet, finely shaved slices of well washed lemon! 

Now we’re talkin!!

Shaved salad

Foraging – Part III

And now the conclusion of the guest blog by my friend Jacquie as she shares with us her adventures in Foraging in the Laurentian Region of Quebec.

See the two previous days for Part I and Part II.

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Foraging – The Meal

Photo: J. Dinsmore

La Table des Jardins Sauvages not only serves excellent food but also lets you bring your own wine to drink before, during and after dinner.

Romping through the fields, across the river and through the woods searching for plants that soon all begin to look alike can make a person thirsty, so before we went in for dinner, we sat outside and opened the first of our bottles of wine. The air was warm with the setting sun and the only sound, besides the tinkle of wine glasses and the murmur of conversation, was the babbling river.

Our server came out to tell us that dinner was ready, and the four of us, along with another table of 5, filed into the cottage’s veranda-cum-dining room.

View from our table. Photo J. Dinsmore

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        Photo: J Dinsmore

The table was set with old-fashioned charm. The house bread is served with two compound butters: one flavoured with wild herbs and the other with dried boletus mushrooms. Delicious!

Starters

The hors d’oeuvre consisted of smoked wild salmon and a buckwheat crepe, with crinkleroot gribiche, pickled fiddleheads and daisy flower buds, and lady’s sorrel. The gribiche was smooth with a delicate taste and set off the salmon and crêpe nicely. The pickled elements and “salad” added a bright fresh note to the dish.

Next came soup, and what a treat! A delightful bowl of lobster bisque made with cattail (yes, cattail) broth surrounding 3 types of mushrooms (bolete, shaggy mane and, of course, lobster mushrooms) along with pieces of lobster. This delicious mix was topped off with garlic mustard leaf and sea parsley froth. The cattail broth was amazing with a wonderfully subtle flavour. The mushrooms added a lovely earthy note to the soup with the lobster mushrooms echoing the size and colours of the lobster pieces.

Lobster bisque with cattail broth. The restaurant makes use of all parts of the cattail plant in its various forms throughout the year. Photo: J Dinsmore

The next course was a slice of rabbit loin stuffed with stinging nettle, cheese and bee balm petals, rhubarb-onion chutney along with spelt risotto. The rabbit was tender and although we wondered about the cheese and stinging nettle, the stuffing was scrumptious. The chutney was tart and a perfect foil for the rabbit and its tasty stuffing.

Rabbit loin stuffed with stinging nettle, cheese and bee balm petals. Photo: J Dinsmore

Service was excellent throughout our meal and our server explained the dishes to us as she placed them on our table. The kitchen is small and staff minimal at La Table des Jardins Sauvages, so there was sometimes a wait between courses. But 1) the wait was worth it and, 2) we had a lively party and enough wine with us to make the wait thoroughly enjoyable.

The Main Event
Photo: J Dinsmore

Finally, after 3 bottles of wine, uncountable captivating dinner stories and non-stop laughter, our main course arrived: organic Muscovy duck supreme, venison-duck sausage, Jerusalem artichoke purée, wild salsify sprouts and elderberry five-spice pan sauce. The duck was beautifully cooked, tender and juicy with no hint of the fat that can sometimes ruin this dish. The gravy, marrying sweet elderberry and dusky Chinese flavours, was a bright surprise with a sweet and smoky taste. I had never had Jerusalem artichoke before and quite enjoyed it over the usual mashed potatoes.

Desert
Photo: J Dinsmore

We finished this wonderful meal with desert consisting of a chocolate and wild ginger baby cake, strawberry and spruce tip semi-freddo and granité. The cake was moist and chocolaty, with just a hint of ginger. A chocolate-lover’s dream. The semi-freddo was basically a decadently rich ice cream with a faint citrus taste from the spruce tips, topped with strawberry ice. It went extremely well with the ice-wine we had brought to finish off the meal.

It was late, and we still had a good hour drive back to Montreal, but we took a few minutes to check out the boutique in another part of the cottage. Here you can purchase many of the products you encountered in your meal, plus much more.

Photo: J Dinsmore

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Photo: J Dinsmore

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Thank you so much Jacquie for sharing your wonderful

food and foraging adventure with us!!

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Goat Cheese Cakes

Here is a super little snack or appetizer or in this case we just had it with a bunch of dips and a glass of wine for a wonderfully tasty summer supper!

Goat cheese cakes

Here’s what’s in the goat cheese cakes:

  • Goat cheese
  • chopped basil
  • chopped garlic
  • chopped sun-dried tomato
  • chopped jalapeno olives
  • black pepper

Mix all of this very well together in a bowl.  Then take out large spoonfuls of the mixture and make them into little disks or “cakes”.   Then put them on a tray with some parchment paper and then put them in the freezer!

Keep them in the freezer for about 1/2 hour or until they get nice and firm.  This makes them SO much easier to work with.

Then you are going to bread them with the usual process.

  • flour
  • egg
  • breadcrumbs

Then it is time to pan fry them in just a little oil.

Then back to the tray with parchment and into the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes max, just to set them.

Then you are ready to eat!

The Chef told me that he had prepared a salad of “local greens”.  We laughed and laughed, because he just took them from the balcony garden!!  That’s pretty local!

Humus, onion jam, tomato compote

Then we paired them with some lovely tasty dips.

  • spicy humus
  • onion jam
  • tomato compote

I will give you the recipes for these another time!

And then some roasted garlic, assorted olives with crostini and fancy bread!

With a nice glass of wine……nothin beats it!!

Arugula Salad as nature intended

Finally I have harvested something to eat from The Balcony Garden!

I wish you had “taste – O – vision” because this truly was just divine!

I gently trimmed the supple leaves from their base, gave them a quick wash just to remove any “bug spit” then on to the plate!

I whipped up the perfect little dressing that consisted of:

  • 1 clove of fresh garlic finely minced
  • the juice and zest of one lemon
  • olive oil x twice the juice
  • salt & pepper

Whisk that up and lovingly spoon and drizzle over the precious arugula.

Then add a few shavings of some good quality parmesan cheese.

Heavenly I tell you!  Just heavenly!

T

he young fresh arugulas are almost sweet, not even a hint of what can usually be a bit of a bitter  bite!  Say THAT three times quickly!

Cheesy Eggy Pie

I think I might be watching too many episodes of “Top Chef” on the food network, because I am getting very good at just putting something together out of whatever happens to be around!!

For those of you who have never seen the show, Chefs are often given a few random ingredients and are expected to make something editable out of it.

I’d say my cheesy Eggy Pie might qualify!

So here is what is in mine, but as is always my motto, what ever you happen to have around will do!

  • 1 medium onion finely sliced
  • 1 bell pepper sliced ( any colour or combo)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.

Toss these into a frying pan with a slosh of oil and saute till wilted.   Then add them to a casserole dish.   Then I added:

  • a large handful of chopped spinach
  • asparagus chopped in 1 inch bits ( fresh or left over cooked)
  • 2 green onions chopped

Toss in with the peppers.   Chopped tomato  or zucchini would go fine too.

Then add some cooked pasta.  I used rotini, but any short hearty pasta will do.  If you are going to use noodles, I would break them in half before cooking.

Toss all that together.   Feel free to add some chopped fresh or dried herbs like oregano or parsley.

Then, you will mix up some egg with cream or milk like you are going to make something like a bread pudding.   Add a few shots of hot sauce if you like, or paprika.

Then pour this mixture all over the pasta and vegetables.   It shouldn’t be swimming but enough to maybe fill up the sides half way.

Then sprinkle with your favorite cheese and bung it in the oven at about 350 degrees for about 20 minutes to half hour.

You will know it is ready when you take it out and shake it a little and there is no liquid moving around and the cheese is melted nicely.

Spoon it up and serve with a little green salad and you have a quick Summer supper!

Cheesy Eggy Pie

Mediterranean pasta salad

What with Bar B Q season upon us, we always need to come up with new things to make or bring.  Chances are that over the summer you essentially keep seeing the same ten people in different combinations and locations, so you need to keep straight what you brought to which party so you don’t become THAT person who ALWAYS brings the same thing every time!!

So here’s a dish you can add to your repertoire.

Start by boiling up a pot of the pasta of your choice.  But keep it in the short variety family, rotini, macaroni, fussili, rigatoni etc.

I happened to find something called “Scoobie Doos“!  They are a funky twisted, ribbed macaroni and seem to work perfectly for this kind of dish.

Now if you read my stuff regularly you know I am a great fan of “what ever you have” for most dishes, so I’m just letting you know what I used on this particular occasion, but please feel free to add, omit or substitute.

  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes ( finely chopped)
  • 6 -10 kalamata olives ( pitted and chopped)
  • 1/2 small bulb of fennel ( finely sliced)
  • zest of 1 lemon

Mix all of that up at the bottom of a large mixing bowl.

Then for the “dressing” chop up in a mini chopper or food processor:

  • 2 -3 ( or more depending on relationship with guests) cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 pieces of kale ( leafy bits only) – you KNOW how I love to hide kale in things!
  • juice of one lemon
  • fresh herbs if you have them, oregano, basil, parsley
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Whiz this up to a nice paste, add a bit more olive oil if needed.

Add this to the bottom of the mixing bowl and mix well in with the other elements.

When pasta is cooked, drain and add immediately to the mixing bowl and toss.   The heat from the pasta with loosen up the other stuff and help it stick to the pasta.

Mix REALLY well because you don’t want globs of the “dressing” stuck at the bottom.

I like to make this at least a couple of hours ahead so all the flavours have time to get acquainted before serving.

Just before you are leaving for the party, or serving at your own place, transfer everything to a more decorative or service friendly dish.   And then top with:

  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • some more lemon zest
  • basil leaves
  • chopped fennel fronds ( green feathery stuff on top of fennel)
  • a grind or two of fresh pepper

And you are in business!

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