february 5 weekly menu | winter table

Farm Fresh

beets, carrots, kale, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, turnips, winter squash

What’s for Dinner?

We’re just on the heels of Dumpling Week in Portland. We’ve got so many outstanding local options, I’ll use my veggies as a delicious and crunchy accompanying act. I also look forward to Super Bowl Sunday, whether I care about the game or not (not), just as an excuse to try a new chili recipe. This week I’ll also honor the Year of the Monkey, on which we are about to embark! My veggies will find the perfect home in authentic Chinese dishes from noted and honored chef Ceclia Chiang.

Friday – homemade pizza, tv trays, movie

leek, mushroom, and prosciutto pizza (Martha Stewart)

Saturday – dumpling week, hooray!

dumpling selection, The Dump Truck
quick-pickled carrots & turnips (Andrew Cohen, High Ground Organics)
rice

Sunday  – super bowl veggie fest

crudités, chips plus:
spicy red lentil dip (Oregonian Food Day)
edamame hummus (Oregonian Food Day)
avocado and goat cheese dip (Oregonian Food Day)

turkey chili with kale & corn (TheKitchn)
jalapeno cheddar cornbread (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)

oatmeal chocolate chip carrot cookies (On Anna’s Plate)

Monday – ring in the (chinese) new year!

appetizers:
mushroom & leek dumplings (The Joyful Foodie)
tray of togetherness
champagne
first course:
chicken lettuce wraps
hot & sour soup
tsing tao Beer

banquet:
lion’s head (Cecilia Chiang, The Seventh Daughter)
steamed whole fish (Cecilia Chiang, The Mandarin Way)
noodles with pork & chives
stir fried green beans with garlic
eggplant in garlic sauce
white rice
reisling

dessert:
glaceed bananas
blood orange tart
taiwanese pineapple mini cakes
tea selection

Tuesday – taco tuesday + beets(!)

beet salsa with avocado & blood orange (Diane Morgan, Roots)
black bean & chicken quesadillas (NYT)

Wednesday – pasta + salmon

pappardelle with salmon & leeks (Cooking Light)
roasted winter squash halves (Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe)

Thursday – sammie night, dungeoness style

open faced crab & cheese on toasted sourdough
parsnip fries (Bon Appetit)


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Friday – 

leek, mushroom, and prosciutto pizza (Martha Stewart)

Pizza Night this week comes straight from the box, plus a little fantastic flavor from prosciutto. I’ll use a mix of shiitakes, crimini, and portabello mushrooms. The Martha recipe is included only as a guide for the leek and mushroom preparation. I will double the recipe, knowing that I’m making at least two pizzas. Experiment with the cheeses -mozzarella, fontina, parmesan, chevre – they all sound amazing. You can have all of the toppings ready in an assembly line for do-it-youself fun!

Saturday – dumpling week, hooray!

dumpling selection, The Dump Truck
quick-pickled carrots & turnips (Andrew Cohen, High Ground Organics)
rice

Leave it to Portland to have such a plethora of restaurants doing dumplings right! So many, in fact, that we have to designate an entire week in their honor. Dumpling Week 2.0 is in full swing. The Oregonian did a write-up of their favorite local varieties; from Russian to Italian, and everything in between, it’s a list I’ll keep handy for sure. A family favorite is The Dump Truck, in the SW 10th and Alder food cart pod. I’ll pick up a festive and comprehensive selection, and just add some quick pickled carrots and turnips and some white rice for a complete dinner. The pickling is super simple, just requiring a soak of  sliced carrots and turnips in a salt/sugar/vinegar water mixture for a crunchy, tasty treat.

Sunday – super bowl veggie fest

crudités, chips plus:
spicy red lentil dip (Oregonian Food Day)
edamame hummus (Oregonian Food Day)
avocado and goat cheese dip (Oregonian Food Day)

turkey chili with kale & corn (TheKitchn)
jalapeno cheddar cornbread (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home)

oatmeal chocolate chip carrot cookies (On Anna’s Plate)

Just because this is a national holiday built around party wings, potato chips, and beer doesn’t mean I can’t do my own crazy “veggie thing”. I keep handy my Oregonian Food Day special on thirteen favorite Super Bowl dips & spreads. I chose three that looked to be especially enticing alongside a giant platter of farm fresh veggie crudités. Carrots, parsnips, and beets would all be great options this week. The carrots, of course, can be served pretty much straight from the ground, with just a little rinse and trim. The parsnips I’ll peel, cut into sticks, and with a sprinkling of olive oil and salt, roast in a hot oven until lightly golden. Beets, as usual, are wrapped in foil and roasted right when I get them. Peel and chop into any friendly dipper shape. Along with a silky, smooth bean dip, a zesty asian-ish hummus, and a creamy, tangy cheese spread, these tantalizing crudités will take us right through half-time. Of course, my veggie platter is non-exclusive, and includes heaping piles of pita & Kettle chips too!

When it’s time for more of a “real meal”, I say chili is not overdone as a sensational Super Bowl pick. It can sit, warming on the stove, until people are ready to help themselves. This turkey chili with kale is quite simple, and very tasty. I’ll throw a leek or two in instead of the onion, and use fire-roasted canned tomatoes for additional flavor. This chili cooks up quite thick; I often add a beer to the liquids – adds a great, deep, Super Bowl-ish flavor. This crumbly, cheesy cornbread is just the perfect accompaniment and provides just the right kick as a Super Bowl crowd pleaser. Get a Bob’s Red Mill cornbread mix if you don’t feel like going the homemade route! Add a fun, do-it-yourself chili toppings bar:  shredded cheese, green onions, black olives, sour cream, diced avocado, chopped cilantro – whatever sounds good!

And because every party needs a sweet treat, I’m going to make these classic-sounding oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Plus shedded carrots! Just a taste of beloved carrot cake intermixed with lots of rolled oats & chocolate! To make them lickety-split, I’ll make a bar version, spreading the batter into a greased 9X13 pan and baking until done, maybe 20 or 25 minutes. Cookie bars are a perfect football finger food dessert.

Monday –  ring in the (chinese) new year!

appetizers:
mushroom & leek dumplings (The Joyful Foodie)
tray of togetherness
champagne
First Course:
chicken lettuce wraps
hot & sour soup
tsing tao Beer

first course:
chicken lettuce wraps
hot & sour soup
tsing tao Beer

banquet:
lion’s head (Cecilia Chiang, The Seventh Daughter)
steamed whole fish (Cecilia Chiang, The Mandarin Way)
noodles with pork & chives
stir fried green beans with garlic
eggplant in garlic sauce
white rice
reisling

dessert:
glaceed bananas
blood orange tart
taiwanese pineapple mini cakes
tea selection

Today, according to the Chinese (Lunar) New Year, we mark the beginning of The Year of the Fire Monkey. The celebration traditionally revolves around cleaning out the bad from the year behind, making way for the fortunes ahead, celebrating with friends and family. And of course, Chinese food! I found no better source to turn to than Cecilia Chiang, the ninety-four year old chef, restauranteur, and James Beard lifetime achievement award recipient. Arriving in San Francisco from Asia in 1960, she introduced authentic regional Chinese cuisine to an audience that was accustomed to Americanized Cantonese specialties like chop suey and chow mein. Talk about paving the way…she taught not only Beard himself, but also the likes of Julia Child and Alice Waters. And opened the renowned Mandarin restaurant, which she ran successfully for decades. She still walks the hills of the city, and cooks up a storm, most notably her famous twelve-course Lunar New Year feast. Along with some up-for-anything foodie friends, we just might match that! I started by scouring my box, and decided to go against traditional meat-filled dumplings, opting instead for this leek and mushroom version. I’ll use at least a couple different types of mushrooms, for the color, texture, and flavor contrast. Homemade dumplings sound difficult, but are really no more than sauteeing the veggies, and with a stack of readily available pre-made gyoza wrappers, filling and pinching the dumpling shut before boiling quickly. A quick dipping sauce makes all the difference. I’ll also make this grandly named “Lion’s Head”, which is simply Asian pork meatballs imbedded within steam bean thread noodles and cabbage. Other greens could make a stand-in as well. It’s an especially simple main course recipe, as very little is added to the ground pork, just enough to add a bit of flavor and texture. And you don’t make a million little meatballs…just six or so. Maybe loosely resembling the shaggy main of a lion? My final contribution to the Chinese banquet will be the steamed whole fish. This is quite vital to this celebratory feast. The Chinese word for fish sounds like abundance, and it’s important to serve this with the head and tail intact. This is to ensure a good year from start to finish, and avoid bad luck all throughout the year. Although this main dish looks important and elaborate, it is really quite easy, if you can get over those fish eyes! The only preparation is making some slits in the sides of the fish, and inserting some sliced ginger to infuse a lovely flavor while it is cooking. I’ll improvise on the sauce a bit, sauteing some chopped garlic and ginger and a large pinch of red pepper flakes in a couple tablespoons of sesame oil. I’ll also saute some of the sliced scallions so some will be “frizzled” while others will be raw. On top of these items, I’ll pour a couple tablespoons each of soy sauce and gao xing until everything is mixed and hot. Pouring this sauce over the steamed fish is the last step, along with sprinkling generously with scallions and cilantro. While we fall a bit short of twelve courses, with a big pot of rice and chopsticks all around, it’s sure a fun way to greet the Year of the Horse!

Tuesday – taco tuesday + beets(!)

beet salsa with avocado & blood orange (Diane Morgan, Roots)
black bean & chicken quesadillas (NYT)

Flipping Diane Morgan’s Roots, I came upon the perfect recipe for my own roots to go with a new item I received in my CSA box this week. Hood River Organic offers La Cascada freshly made organic flour and corn tortillas. If this doesn’t inspire taco night each week, I don’t know what will! I’ll roast the beets ahead of time (Diane has a wonderful beet-roasting video tutorial on her website!), having them at-the-ready for a mid-week meal. Her salsa is a wonderfully wintry blend of blood oranges, zesty lime & cilantro, avocado, beets, & chiles. I’ll use this straight-forward recipe (can you call it a “recipe” when it’s just adding two spices to a can of beans?!?) to create a black bean filling for make-your-own-quesadillas. Any grated cheese, maybe some shredded chicken (from a made-by-someone-else roasted version), and a big ‘ol cast iron pan is all you need to whip up some lightly golden and crunchy quesadillas. Served with Diane’s beet salsa, this is a giant step up from our usual salsa-in-a-tub accompaniment!

Wednesday – pasta + salmon

pappardelle with salmon & leeks (Cooking Light)
roasted winter squash halves (Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipe)

This is my favorite go-to recipe for delicata squash. I’ll cook it for less time, as a delicata is quicker to soften than an acorn (or any other winter squash). I keep it relatively healthy by cutting down on the butter,

Thursday – sammie night, dungeoness style

open faced crab & cheese on toasted sourdough
parsnip fries (Bon Appetit)

Seems that each market I’ve shopped in the last couple weeks has had some sort of special on fresh, local dungeoness crab. I’m taking this as a sign, and will eagerly repeat this open faced sandwich I discovered years ago at Cutters restaurant in Seattle. Steps from Pike Place Market, perched with an unobstructed view of Elliot Bay and the mountains beyond, this classic Northwest restaurant has been serving up some of the region’s best seafood for over twenty-five years. It was the special occasion place during my Seattle college years (and beyond).  But given their focus since inception has been the freshest local seafood, prepared classically, I see the menu maintains this vital integrity. I’ll hone in on a weeknight-simple sammie, highlighted on both Cutter’s menu, as well as that of nationally famous Beecher’s cheese, which happens to be located right across the way. I think I’d suggest using the oven for these – first broiling a lightly olive-oiled and salted sturdy sourdough slice, then piling it high with dungeness crab and shredded Beecher’s flagship cheese, and baking until warm and melded. This is a heavenly combination – a hard crusted bread with a mildly tangy taste, some couldn’t-be-fresher northwest crab, and melty Beecher’s flagship cheese, with its robust, slightly nutty flavor. And here’s where my parsnips come in again…as an extra special type of french fry gracing the sammie dinner plate. I even cut them like fries – when simply roasted, their delicate, sweet flavor will surprise you.

“What the Kale?!?”

Don’t panic and get out the compost bin if all of the sudden you have a giant veggie delivery coming your way, and you still have a fridge full.  Here are a few suggestions for preserving the bounty!  (Soups and stews freeze wonderfully in those gallon zip lock freezer bags.)

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