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June is California Avocado Month!

June is California Avocado Month!

Last Thursday evening, I was invited to a California Avocado Dinner hosted by the California Avocado Commission at Mother’s Bistro & Bar (212 SW Stark Street, Portland, Oregon 97204). Relatively-speaking, I am a bit of a new fan of avocados, having really just started liking them about 10 years ago.

Gateway avocado delivery system: guacamole, of course. But jwa is an avid lover of avocados from way back, so I brought him to the dinner with me!

After some avocado daiquiris, socializing, and delicious hors d’oeuvres, Chef Lisa Schroeder gave a demo for an Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, and Dungeness Crab Salad (See recipe below). We also got an amazing swag bag filled with all sorts of goodies to take home, including avocados and a signed copy of the Mother’s Best cookbook at the end of the evening! Such a great time.

Thank you again California Avocado Commission and Mother’s Bistro & Bar!

California Avocado Dinner, June 19, 2014

Lucy Brennan’s Avocado Daiquiri

Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, a Dungeness Crab Cocktail

Guacamole-filled Cherry Tomatoes

Butter Lettuce, Avocado, & Green Onion Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Grilled Chicken Breast with Sauteed Onions, and Peppers, Topped with Avocado, and Salsa, served with Macaroni . . . → Read More: June is California Avocado Month!

Late Spring Dessert: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a Lattice Crust

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Getting out of my changing-of-the-seasons slump with a strawberry rhubarb pie! So, delicious. The brown sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon all get together here (with the fresh fruit) to work a kind of pie magic. Every year, this is one of my most favorite pies to make! And not just because I like the challenge of a lattice crust (just kidding, it’s really easy)!

So yeah, take advantage of the remaining rhubarb season and make this pie now. Or, you could even decrease the sugar** just a little bit and try this with strawberries and peaches. Or strawberries and apricots. Or strawberries and strawberries.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a Lattice Crust
Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appétit magazine; 8 servings
1 recipe of your favorite pie dough (double crust), two discs chilled – mine is Dorie Greenspan’s Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough*
3 1/2 cups 1/2-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
1 16-ounce container strawberries, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup (packed) brown . . . → Read More: Late Spring Dessert: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a Lattice Crust

A Recipe for Fall Happiness: Ratatouille

A Recipe for Fall Happiness: Ratatouille

Ratatouille is one of those recipes that I’ve been making for years. I used to make it all the time in grad school, fairly often when I lived in California, and still make a pot every so often now. And one of my favorite times of year to make ratatouille is fall. Sure, you’ll probably need to used canned (or tetra-pak) tomatoes, but who really wants to simmer vegetables on the stove top for an hour in summer anyway (not me!)? Plus, in fall, a big bowl of vegetable stew is exactly what a person wants – especially when you have discovered the best possible ratatouille recipe, which this is!

Another plus to making a big pot of this is everything you can do with the leftovers (if you have any) — I recently slathered ratatouille on a piece of what pita bread, topped it with some smoked mozzarella, and gave it a few minutes in the toaster oven for a delicious pizza-for-one kind of meal.

Another idea? Take your ratatouille and poach some eggs on top of the simmering stew – completely out of this world. That’s one you don’t . . . → Read More: A Recipe for Fall Happiness: Ratatouille

Almond Gazpacho (Ajo Blanco) with Mango & Crispy Prosciutto

Almond Gazpacho (Ajo Blanco)

Wow, I can’t ever remember a summer in Portland being so humid. Because of that (and also just because I love — LOVE– fall), I seriously can’t wait for the weather to get colder. Until then, there’s gazpacho. Yes, it’s usually made with tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers, and while that version is completely delicious, there’s something to be aid about the version with bread, almonds, and garlic. And that something is, Mmmmm.

You can use plain old white bread, but if you live by a Trader Joe’s you may want to get a loaf of the round, small rosemary bread and use that. Or just add some rosemary leaves while blending. While not exactly traditional, the flavor of that herb is really good in this gazpacho.

Green grapes are the typical garnish, but I found diced mango or grilled fig halves to be just as tasty. Also, some crumbled, crisp prosciutto, using this recipe.

The gazpacho recipe is from one of my most favorite cookbooks of all time — The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen. If you don’t have it, I highly recommend it. I have made so many amazing recipes from . . . → Read More: Almond Gazpacho (Ajo Blanco) with Mango & Crispy Prosciutto

A Late Summer Dinner at 3 Doors Down Café (or: Yes, August is a Perfect Time for Pasta!)

Dinner at 3 Doors Down, Portland, OR

3 Doors Down Café
1429 SE 37th Ave
Portland, Oregon 97214

We actually live close enough to 3 Doors Down to walk there, the problem is, we tend to forget about going there most of the time. Why? I have no idea — every meal we’ve had there has been wonderful. Maybe it’s just because over the last couple of years, when we think walkable dinner, we are always concentrating on SE Division Street.

But, this fall and winter, I am definitely remembering to throw 3 Doors Down into the mix for dinner. Every time we go we get the scallops to start and they are always amazing. Amazing. The recent summer version with seared peaches and basil cream sauce is no exception.

And it’s funny, but every other time we’ve gone there in the past, I’d never gotten pasta as my main course. I always chose the chicken, or pork, or whatever. Not this time! Apparently, summer is pasta weather because I decided to get the rustichella ceppo with ground chicken, rapini, mushrooms, and pancetta — it was so good and creamy. And pancetta-y. jwa got the pasta special and he was . . . → Read More: A Late Summer Dinner at 3 Doors Down Café (or: Yes, August is a Perfect Time for Pasta!)