Summer Garden Casserole

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Gluten Free & Dairy Free Pie Crust

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I am definitely having end-of-summer blues! It has been an amazing summer here in Connecticut and it is tough to believe it has just about ended. Lucky for me, pie season is right around the corner. With the days getting (slightly) cooler and a freezer full of blueberries, I decided to buckle down and create an incredible pie dough that was worth its weight in the gluten-free community.

For those of you who know what a challenge that is, worry no longer! Make this recipe and you will impress even the gluten-loving in your life! I advise two tricks to this delicate dough; first get the right flour. While moseying down the organics aisles, I discovered that Bobs Red Mill has a new 1 for 1 flour. Let me be the first to tell you, it is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Use it! Second, and this is a given for most bakers, do not over work the dough. The more crumbly, the better.

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Gluten Free Pie Dough: 

2 1/4 c Bobs Red Mill Flour

1 T Sugar

1 c Organic, All Natural Shortening

1 T Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Pinch Salt

Ice Water

Dash of Nutmeg

Almond Milk (for “egg wash”)

Sugar for Top

For the Inside:

4 c Blueberries

1.5 c Sugar

1 T Lemon Zest

2 T Lemon Juice

2 T Cornstarch

For the crust, combine all dry ingredients. Add the shortening then flake and rub until the dough is crumbly. Add three tablespoons of the ice water mixed with the vinegar a little at a time, until barely combined. Form into a disk and chill for an hour. Halve and roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment. If the dough becomes sticky, pop it in the freezer for a minute to chill. Once rolled out, put the top in the freezer, lying flat. “Butter” and sugar the pie dish, put the bottom piece in, and place in freezer. Now, start the filling. Thaw blueberries a little, and combine all ingredients. Put in middle of pie and put the top on. Crimp together the top and bottom. Wash the top with the almond milk, and sugar the top. Make cut outs if desired, or just make a few slits.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and put the pie in the freezer until the oven is ready. Place a piece of foil down to catch any blueberry juices bubbling over. Put the pie in and bake until top is golden and juices are bubbling; about 1.5 hours. Cool for at least four hours and enjoy! This delicate pie tastes amazing with a coconut milk ice cream.
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Gluten Free Spring

So these past few weeks I have really been trying my best to have enough time to cook dinner (or at least eat it). It is a challenge to get home at a decent hour to do so! On my days off, though, I love to make it. It’s considerably my playtime. This past friday I stopped in at Whole Foods and remembered why I oh so adore spring! So many beautiful vegetables! This pasta dish is entirely gluten-free, dairy free, and can easily be vegan without the egg. I used local eggs, all organic vegetables & aromatics, and homegrown herbs.

ImageSpring Pasta Dish: (4-6p)

1 lb. Gluten Free Pasta

1 bu. Asparagus

4-6 Eggs (1 per)

1 Myer Lemon

1/2 bulb fennel (and fennel fronds to garnish)

4 clv Garlic

1 tsp chili-garlic sauce

1/4 c vegetable broth

6 sprigs Thyme

8 leaves Basil

3 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Tbs Vegan Butter

Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper

Mise en Place:

First, get two pots of hot water going for the pasta and the eggs; fill a smaller pot 2/3 of the way and a large pot completely. Wash the fennel and asparagus then slice into 1/4″ pieces.  Zest the lemon and cut in half. Mince the garlic, thyme, and half the basil. When the water (for the eggs) comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and add 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Gently crack the egg into the water once it has dropped in temperature. With a wooden spoon, hold the egg white over the egg yolk gently for about a minute; this is so when the egg has finished cooking it will be more rounded and less flat. Once the white of the egg is 95% cooked, remove it and place on a paper towel. Keep the water heated at a lower temperature to re-heat the egg.

Cook the pasta according to the box instructions. In a pan, combine the garlic, herbs, vegan butter, olive oil and allow to heat, once the garlic starts to perfume, add the Asparagus. Once it starts to become tender, add the Fennel, vegetable broth, and chili. Turn down the heat and add the cooked pasta. Toss the pasta, season with S&P, then allow to cook in the pan slightly (to meld all the ingredients together). Add the lemon zest and a little juice at the last-minute, give it a toss, and plate into a warmed pasta dish. Put the egg on a spoon and re-warm it for 30 seconds in the hot water. Place on top of the pasta. Garnish with the fennel fronds and some of the zest. A little salt atop will finish the dish.

 

Bon Appetite!

Portland Coffee: The places to go.

Portland, the land of amazing baristas and roasters. The kings and queens of the syphon method. The royalty of the kingdom of caffeine….okay, I’m sure you get it now.

Earlier this year there was a Barista competition to pick the top Northwesterner and Devin Champman of Coava Coffee won both the Brewers Cup and the best Barista of NW, followed closely by his kin of Portland from Stumptown and Sterling Coffee Roasters; amongst other North Westerners of the Pacific region.

A shot of the Baristas awaiting their scores for the top barista in the North East. Katie Carguilo of Counter Culture Coffee (third barista in) was the United States winner this spring in Portland.

Portland is a beautiful, relaxing city. Much closer knit than Seattle and it is big on charm. Lots of romance and passion can be seen on the streets. As well as some dizzying characters. You can feel the beat of the city through every unique pull of espresso and every ripple of frothed milk.

If your staying in the heart of the city, near the realm of food trucks lies an experience known as Public Domain.

Here, the baristas are very captivating. Lauren and Jon were sweet and knowledgeable. Gave great recommendations for other local shops too. Each has a different organizational process of pulling espresso. Every adjust to the machine was like watching ballet. Each having their own march; own speed and timing. The hand-pour of Burundi was delightful as well. Black, no sugar was its best form. Serious notes of cacao and very ripe berries.

At Coava, I received nothing less than the best hospitality, as well their Rwandan espresso was my favorite amongst all that I had on my Northwest trip. Serious spice notes emerged, as if cinnamon and cardamom were roasted with the beans. The baristas were particularly warm here, even though it was seven and they had just opened their doors.

On that note, I digress to say that there is a large market of early birds in Portland that are being missed. I had been traveling that area and had to skip a few watering holes for the sheer fact that baristas seem to not be early risers. A factor that I believe should be re-considered. If your main business is coming from charismatic coffee,  it’d be smart to be open when people are craving it the most.

Heart Roasters have a really beautiful space. The charming baristas look as though they emerged from the 1940’s. I kept my eyes peeled for Tennessee or perhaps Hemingway would pop in for a cappuccino. Mine, made with their house espresso blend and almond milk, was grand. I personally highly recommend trying the almond milk. I think its very unique and is compatible and complex with the espresso, contrary to what many think in the industry. It has a pronounced creaminess when frothed that is unexpected.

Barista in the Pearl District is a fun shop. To forewarn you, cell service there is minimal so be aware of where your going before you head that way.

Service is great and very quick. The cappuccino was delightful.

There are many shops that I did not get the chance to experience, as well an espresso truck that vested interest. Below is a few shops that I had on my radar, but didn’t visit.

Sisters Coffee Company

Albina Press

Water Avenue Coffee

Clive Coffee (a really interesting retail store!)

Cheers!

Seattle Coffee: Best & Worst

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If you know me, you know I have an intense interest in coffee. Always researching, reading, learning and exploring the world of coffee.

I am presently on a school Food, Wine, and Agriculture trip. We spent some time with roasters and sellers, but there were many places outside of the itinerary that I had vested interest in; and I was not about to let the opportunity of being in seattle for a week pass me by. I was determined to make sure I got the most of it so here is the best, bad and ugly of my coffee tour!

Above is an espresso from Roy Street Coffee & Tea. It is a well kept secret of Seattle. It is lemony, sweet and mine came with a complimentary biscotti. Worth dropping in.

Note: you can use Starbuck’s Gold cards here.

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Victrola: Coffee Roasters on Pike

The baristas are relaxed and know their craft. A fun atmosphere, the cafe is light and open. You can peer in the back at the roaster; where they make those beans liquid magic. Ask for a tour! I was short on time, but they might offer them during production.

The Streamline espresso blend is as harmonious as their name.

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Caffé Vita: Coffee Roaster on Pike

I had a lot of fun at Caffé Vita with the buyer, Daniel Shewmaker and their roaster, Wade, showing me around. They are both extremely knowledgeable in their craft. The compaines coffee is in so many local shops, including the ports nearby. I had at least one cup of their coffee everyday when I was in Washington state.

The espresso has serious appeal to; came highly recommended by Daniel.

Note: They also sell really tasty gluten free treats which is always a plus.

WORST!

The original Starbucks. Yes, I was shocked too. I like Starbis! It’s good for a quick pick me up on the go, sometimes it can’t be all about quality, you know?

I was particuraly shocked at how terrible the espresso shot was that I had. Very watered down, no crema. I was told by the lady upfront that this is the only Starbucks that hand pulls all their espresso. They have a beautiful La Marzocco machine too, but did not use it wisley.

Not worth the wait, no matter how particularly Seattle it is.

A few other places that I hear are really wonderful, but didnt get the chance to pop in:

http://www.espressovivace.com/

http://lighthouseroasters.com/

http://b-oespresso.com/

I’ll be writing more food/coffee/cocktail reviews so be on the lookout!

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21: I’ll ditch the Cuffs for Cabernet and Steak.

As a now Senior in College (gasp!) I have seen my fare share of eventful drinking; drinking to celebrate. I have had many friends turn 21 over the last three years of College. It seems to be a relentless, ever-occurring, theme that when you turn 21 you have to get rip-roaring, three sheets to the wind drunk and it begs me to question: Why? Why is it so very critical for the generations of the last two decades (the legal drinking age of 21 came into full effect in 1988) to become inebriated beyond comprehension on your 21st birthday?

Let me, first, set the record straight.

I, just as the rest of my generation, have a healthy curiosity when it comes to alcohol. You could say it is in my blood, as my mother has told me stories of my grandfather making wine when she was growing up. Going to The Culinary Insitute of America has flourished my curiosity. Here, we learn about the complexities that is the world of wine. The agriculture, viticulture and history of how grapes became an entire separate entity of the hospitality world. You can spend a lifetime learning about wine and still not know it all. During these classes I have been able to taste an array of different wine and spirits. It is a fascinating and large part of our industry that I am always curious to pursue knowledge in.

What I can’t seem to rap my head around is why everytime someone turns 21, celebrants have to act as though they are Romans in a bathhouse? I don’t find it attractive.

There is a romance and a cultural depth that is so beautiful about drinking. Can we nod to the Prohibition era? Such a sultry, dark, and intrinsic part of alcohol’s history. Everyone was breaking the law one way or another and the business thrived through it.

Though, it seems in the eighties and nineties, even now still, the consumers and marketers have bastardized drinking. I mean, cupcake flavored vodka? Who are they trying to entice with that one, a little kid with a sweet tooth?!

For me, however, I look to it as a culture. I know that when I turn 21 in a few weeks, I will be spending it with the best of friends, eating amazing food and drinking well made cocktails and beautiful wine. I’ll throw in some champagne as well for good luck and fortune.

Many may say that that is stuffy, just go to the nearest bar. But where is the fun in buying some cheap vodka and pickling my liver?

I know that I will not find any social-depth in a pounding, soaked to the core brain. There are no mysteries that lie in the bottom of a clear plastic cup. Life does not excel through downing a pink drink garnished with a week old, corn-syrup soaked cherry.

That goes without saying, there are many who may think that I sound condescending, but I’m really not.  I just have seen what drinking until your pie-eyed gets you and it’s not an enriching conversation. It’s a pounding head or a court-ordered AA sesh. I think I’ll skip the cuffs and go for a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with some steak instead.

So on that note I say Cheers to another year of accomplishments and life to celebrate! In a few weeks I’ll be 21 and just that much closer the adventures that await. Next stop: Seattle!

Foodie Watch!

Edible Portland is a must check out website and publication. I have been recently reading articles from their past issues (they are all online; score!) and they have an abyss of information. Every subject from sustainable fishing practice to what the farmers are growing this season is in there. This is a great publication for foodies! Check out the article by Hanna Neuschwander titled, The Coffee in Your Cup, in the winter 2012 edition. 

happy reading!

Meat & Potatoes

There is nothing quite like the smell of braise permeating the walls of your kitchen. The quiet bubbling of a stew in your oven. It is such a romantic and wonderful process.

A few weekends ago while there was still a chill in the air I decided to make a beautiful short rib and some olive oil mash. Uncomplicated, unkempt, just delicious.

The method is very simple.

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Braised Short ribs:

6# of shortribs

1# of Mirepoix, cut into large dice

4 cups of red wine

1 Qt of beef stock

4 Sprigs each of: Rosemary & Thyme

4 leaves each of: Sage & Bay Leaf

3 T of fat (I used rendered pork fat)

Salt & Pepper

Dry the ribs very well and season liberally & in the pot heat up fat. Heat the oven to 325˚.

I used rendered pork fat because I like total utilization & had some reserved. It worked great searing the meat as well. Sear the ribs on a high heat. Work in batches, dont crowd the pot or else the ribs wont sear properly.Once all of the meat is seared, reserve to side. Remove all but 2 T of fat from the pot.

Cook in the same pot all of the mirepoix. I like to start with the carrots and then add the onions; celery last. Make sure to season. Once caramelized, add herbs and the wine, I used a sturdy Cabernet. Add in the ribs. I let the wine cook out with the ribs, uncovered for a bit to let the  flavors of the wine develop with the meat. Add stock to fill the pot just to the level of the ribs, not compleatly covered.

Cover the pot and place into the oven for as long as you like. I let mine go 3 hours. I also removes the beef and vegetables and reduced the sauce to make a slightly thicker nappé; this is optional.

Pair with your red wine of choice. I find it went well with the Cabernet Sauvignon I ended up cooking with. The Dreaming Tree Cabernet held up well to it also.

Whipped Olive Oil Pommes Puree:

Very Simple, always delicious. I always roast my potatoes; it keeps all of the nutrients in the potatoes instead of them being leeched into the water.

10 Potatoes

Olive oil to taste

Salt & Pepper

Wash all potatoes & wrap in foil. I recommend wrapping parchment around them as well to prevent the aluminum from leeching into the food. Place onto a sheet pan.

Slow roast the potatoes in the oven while your stew cooks. Since the oven is at a low temp it may take some time, be patient and check intermittently to see if they are soft.

Once cooked take out of oven and quickly scoop out & rice all of the potato insides. By doing this while the potatoes are  hot prevents them from being gluey.

Reserve the skins for potato skins with cheddar! Total utilization has never tasted so good.

Whip olive oil into the potatoes and season. This part is all about mouth feel and taste. I love using a rich Extra Virgin olive oil for this part. I added chunks of sharp vermont cheddar and shredded some on top of the potatoes. Bake again in the oven until the top is browned and crispy. Oh, so good.

Ten things

My Food writing teacher asked us to write ten flavors/ingredients we cannot live without. Imagine, just ten things out of the millions and trillions that exist in our culinary world! What a challenge.

1. Olive Oil- Olive oil makes up the basis for most of our cooking in my kitchen. Regardless, I happen to adore the flavor. Every once in a while I buy a few different varieties of what I think is considered a good olive oil and taste it in some of my dishes. Good olive oil should be drizzled on top of a soup, or on a light tasting fish dish and should never be cooked. By doing so you really can taste the complexities and flavors of the oil.

2. Tomato- I find myself exploring the flavor of tomato more and more. Tomatoes are a big part of my families kitchen culture. A quick tomato sauce is instantly a meal with some pasta and parmigiana added. This is something I have been eating since I was a little girl and crave it. I love making tomato sauce. Adding the garlic to the olive oil and adding the canned tomatoes once the garlic aromatizes. Watching the bubbles as the tomato cooks. Crushing the whole ones and tasting it as it slowly cooks on the stove top. It brings my whole life back to me in an instant. Memories of my grandmother and cooking together for all of our holidays with my mom; all is remembered from a spoonful of sauce hot from the pan. As the smell fills the house it brings everyone to the kitchen it brings a warmth to our home and a smile on everyone’s face.

3. Peanut Butter- I have an obsession with peanut butter. The creamy texture and the flavor of the roasted and crushed peanuts is such a comfort for me. Usually I eat it with a bit of chocolate.

4. Dark Chocolate- My mom introduced me to dark chocolate. I make many desserts with this ingredient, as does she. When I was a child I would go into the cupboard and sneak pieces of bakers chocolate and I still do today. The bitterness of the chocolate with the creamy texture that melts in your mouth is why I love it. The little caffeine kick is such a pick me up from a long day.

5. Coffee- Most flavors that I cannot live without come with strong memories. As a child I loved the smell of coffee in the morning. I would jolt up from the smell, as if the scent alone was a caffeine kick. Every morning until I went to college I would wake up and sit with my mom as she drank her coffee and we would watch the news together. The house completely silent and peaceful, it was our twenty minutes of quiet together. Since, I have grown my love for it. There is a whole world of coffee that is much like wine. The beans all have their own terroir which create different flavors and complexities. The bitterness, full body, crema or oil slick at the top are all reasons why I love it. Right now I am very into Cinco de Junio, a coffee from Nicaragua. It is bold and full-bodied, but with low acidity so it can stand up to some soy milk and sugar without overpowering them.

6. Garlic- I don’t know how to describe garlic other than it is very strong, slightly bitter, and has a bite to it when raw. A flavor I use in majority of my cooking at home; I could not work without this aromatic.

7. Soy- I eat a lot of Asian cuisine and Soy is in almost all of that style of cooking. The salty, umami flavor instantly adds complexity to a dish that would be lackluster without it.

8. Salt- Sodium is necessary for life, but more importantly for flavor composition. We cannot eat most, if not all things without it. Salt draws out complexities that would otherwise go unnoticed and adds roundness to a dish.

9. Chili/ Spice- Ever since I was a little girl I have loved the flavor of hot sauce and chili peppers. This is really a love/hate situation because of the painful burning my heart feels once consumed, but, nevertheless, I can’t let it go. The burning sensation on my tongue and the complex flavor of the capsaicin is interesting and fun for me. It adds an unforgettable component to a dish, especially when my mouth won’t stop burning afterwords.

10. Vinegar/ Sour- The acidic, sour flavors of vinegar and citrus is an essential in my kitchen. Many fish dishes, especially, need a little acid and sour. It is very similar to adding salt, but adds a new roundness to the dish. For example a shallow poached salmon is instantly brightened with a little vinegar or lemon.

What flavors speak to you?