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A Lot of Meat, Cheese, Vegetables, and Pasta at Ava Gene’s — Oh, and the Bean Topped Bread

SE Portland's Ava Gene's

Ava Gene’s
3377 SE Division Street
Portland, OR 97202

So, Ava Gene’s has been open about a year, which means it’s right on schedule for us to have tried it for the first time. Hint: my husband and I are not really timely. The restaurant has even gotten national mentions, like when Bon Appétit magazine named it the “#5 Best New Restaurant in America 2013.” And honestly, when we went, I was all ready to think it was over-hyped, but…damn!

I’m not going to go so far as to say that it’s I think it’s the best restaurant in Portland (because, I’m not really sure what restaurant I think is that), but I will say that we had an amazing meal and that I really enjoyed everything that we tried. It was also very easy to share plates — in fact, it seemed like most tables around us were employing that strategy as well.

The menu is organized into sections: Salumi & Formaggi (cured meat and cheese), Fritti (fried items), Pane (bread – think bruschetta-type plates), Giardini (Salads/vegetables), Primi (the pasta course), and Secondi (the meat course). There are also sides and desserts, . . . → Read More: A Lot of Meat, Cheese, Vegetables, and Pasta at Ava Gene’s — Oh, and the Bean Topped Bread

National Kale Day: Chicken Kale Pasta (Casserole) with Apple & Bacon

Chicken Kale Pasta with Apple & Bacon

Kale, like brussels sprouts, fish sauce, and swiss chard, is an ingredient that I discovered that I liked later rather than sooner. I don’t even think I started with the now ubiquitous kale chips — I think it was maybe braised kale at a restaurant, and only about three years ago.

Did you know October 2nd is (possibly) National Kale Day? I think that it’s not quite an official thing yet, so let’s all try to make it happen! Until then, I’m just going to pretend that Wednesday IS National Kale Day and celebrate with this kale post.

This casserole is hearty and comforting, just want you want on a cold, windy day that we’ve been having a lot of here in Portland lately. jwa thought it needed a bit more spice, but I thought it worked nicely just as is – creamy, a little bacony-y, and of course, kale-y. People who think it needs some extra spicy heat can always add their own hot sauce.

This would also be extremely easy to make vegetarian — just omit the chicken and bacon. But then, you probably could have figured that out on . . . → Read More: National Kale Day: Chicken Kale Pasta (Casserole) with Apple & Bacon

(Semi-Classic) Ragù Bolognese with Pasta

Classic Ragu Bolognese with Pasta

What is there to say about a giant pot of Ragù Bolognese? That it’s red, and hearty and that it’s full of meat. That it’s delicious…well, yes, of course that. Maybe also that it’s easy to misread the original recipe and get prosciutto instead of pancetta. And maybe that it wasn’t even noticed until days afterwards, when the recipe was going to be posted here. All of these things are true.

Since the pancetta-prusciutto mishap, I’ve actually looked at other Bolognese recipes and some of them do use prusciutto. So there. I feel a bit better about that now. But even without that validation, I still would have posted it exactly how I made it, because it was really, really good. Thick and meaty and everything you could want on a cold Saturday in January (unless you’re a vegetarian).

I think this also illustrates my approach to cooking, it should be fun and not too stressful. So I accidentally got prosciutto instead of pancetta…did the world end? No. I didn’t even notice my mistake until days later and besides, the meal was still delicious. Sometimes you will add a little too much/too little . . . → Read More: (Semi-Classic) Ragù Bolognese with Pasta

FFwD: Herb-speckled Spaetzle

French Fridays with Dorie: Herb-speckled Spaetzle

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Herb-speckled Spaetzle and it is on epicurious, so even if you don’t have the cookbook, you can still make the recipe.

This was very good. I actually just tried making spaetzle a few weeks ago using a different recipe (buckwheat spaetzel) and while that was good, this was great. I used a colander for making the spaetzle both times, but I wish I had a flat grater, that idea sounds intriguing and a bit easier.

Notes:
1. I made 2/3′s of a recipe and it worked well (with three eggs, it was fairly easy to third — one egg, 3/4 cup flour, three tbsp milk, etc…).
2. I used fat-free milk. Seemed to work fine.
3. I added a handful of chopped spinach leaves when I added the broth and I also grated on a bit of asiago cheese.
4. I used a little whole wheat pastry flour for some of the white flour — 1/2 cup white and 1/4 cup wheat.

Okay, here’s a link to everyone’s awesome spaetzle posts and my photos below. I skipped photos of making the batter, those were kind of boring.

. . . → Read More: FFwD: Herb-speckled Spaetzle

Semolina Orecchiette (& What To Do With It)

Orecchiette

I’m not going to write too much about this for an introduction because it’s a pretty long post. I will say, “Wow! This was wonderful!”

My hand did get a little tired after the 6th or so ball of dough, but it was well worth it. I definitely want to make more of these little ears (I always thought they looked more like UFOs), before pasta weather is no more. Say, around July in Portland…

Fresh Semolina Orecchiette
From Gourmet Magazine
2 cups semolina
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm water

Orecchiette

In a large bowl stir together semolina and flour and form a well in center. Add water and salt to well and with a fork gradually incorporated semolina mixture until a dough is formed (some of the mixture will not be incorporated).

Orecchiette

If after pulling the dough out of the bowl, you find you have a lot of flour mixture leftover (I did), go ahead and add a bit more water to make more pasta dough. You do want about 1/2 cup leftover semolina mixture that you will use while forming the pasta.

Orecchiette

On a work surface knead dough, incorporating more . . . → Read More: Semolina Orecchiette (& What To Do With It)