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Pardon the dust but we’re moving uptown this week

January 2, 2010

The Taste of Oregon may be inaccessible at times this week. We apologize in advance but we’re moving from WordPress out into the culinary world on our own to a new web host and we’re also embarking on a major site redesign to add more features, free of the constraints of WordPress.

You can look forward to more easier site navigation and highlights of popular recipes from our various categories, along with a new featured content slideshow at the top of our site that will showcase our newest posts.

To those of you who have subscribed to our email updates, we’re hoping that the conversion will allow us to move your subscription along with the site. If you notice that you’re no longer getting emails from us, however, please do re-subscribe.


The Cooking of Joy ♥ Savoring the Flavors of Life

January 1, 2010


Pronunciation:  joi
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French joie, from Latin gaudia, plural of gaudium, from gaudēre to rejoice; probably akin to Greek gēthein to rejoice
Date: 13th century

1 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2 : a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3 : a source or cause of delight

I have been pondering writing an article on “cooking with intention” for The Taste of Oregon for some time now. For those of us who enjoy cooking passionately, is it always entered into and experienced with a feeling of joy and excitement? Where is our mind? Nothing can spoil a pleasurable experience more than chatter between our ears, nagging us:  “You didn’t start early enough, you don’t have all the ingredients, you’re out of your league, no one will like this, pickled pork is so passé,” etc., etc., etc. Fortunately, I learned some methods for silencing that chatter. After a brief “negotiation” with my mind’s voice I hear it whimpering, “OK, you win, I’ll shut up.”

For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed playing with food in the kitchen. Then in the late summer of 1985, a fire in me ignited that changed everything, including cooking.

A “mid-life crisis” led me to look deeper inside. With the encouragement of Barbara Grove, one of my longtime and dearest friends, I signed on for the More To Life weekend, or two weekends as it was then.

As best as I can remember, the room was filled with about 60-70 people of various ages looking for something else. It was an intense time filled with emotions ranging from gratitude and joy to sadness and despair and everything in between. I left there with an empowering feeling of well being and gratitude for life, for those close to me in it and especially for my uniqueness. What more could one ask for? Read more…

Smoked Trout Mousse, a great party appetizer

December 29, 2009

Smoked trout mousse makes a wonderfup appetizer

I first tasted smoked trout when we lived in Baltimore. At a farmers’ market near our home, owners of the Metropol Café had a booth where they served all kinds of smoked seafood as well as cheeses. I remember the wonderful aroma and flavor of the smoked trout. One of the two women had gone to Scandinavia to master cold-smoking techniques of preserving seafood.

Now we live in Oregon and I’ve become pretty adept at catching trout and Charles has developed a method of smoking in our Weber kettle grill. You don’t need a fancy smoker to smoke meats and seafood. All you need is a Weber kettle grill.

Use as little charcoal as possible because you don’t want a lot of heat. You just need enough to put under your wood chips to heat them.

You can get wood chips for smoking at specialty stores or at Lowe’s, where they usually sell Weber grills. You can also sometimes find wood chips at fireplace stores.

I’ve found that alder wood and apple wood lend a really nice flavor to trout and salmon. But I’ve also tried smoking trout with dried lemongrass, which lends a pungent Thai twist to the seafood.

When the coals are lit, pile them all to one side of the grill. Make a rectangular tray out of heavy-duty aluminum foil and fill the tray with the wood chips. Set the aluminum tray filled with wood chips on top of the pile of coals and put the grill on the kettle. Oil the grill with a paper towel dipped in canola oil to keep the fish from sticking and then arrange the cleaned fish on the grill on the side opposite the coals by spreading open their stomach cavities to keep them upright. Cover the kettle and open the vent about a quarter of the way so that the coals won’t go out.

The trout can be smoked a day ahead and the mousse can be kept in the fridge , so you have one dish out of the way for your dinner party. After all, when entertaining, it’s always helpful to plan dishes that can be made ahead of time to leave as little as possible to do at the last minute. Read more…

Chicken Piccata with Grapes and Capers • Roasted Delicata Squash and Mushroom Risotto

December 27, 2009

Piccata is a term used to describe a method of cooking various cuts of meat or fish. Chicken and veal piccata are probably the most common dishes although fillets of fish are sometimes used, even calamari steaks. Basically cutlets of meat or poultry are pounded into a thin layer to tenderize them. They are then lightly breaded and sautéed before being covered in a sauce which most often includes butter, lemon juice and/or white wine, capers and spices. Once you grasp the method, you can take off with your own variations. The method is much like the Chicken Marsala but with different ingredients.

When I came across a recipe for Sole Piccata with Grapes and Capers in Bon Appétit, I knew I had to try it. It was one of those “Holy capers Batman, this dish goes super kapow!” recipes. The grapes added a bold dimension without overpowering the lemon and capers but stood next to them equal in flavor. This is a weeknight dish that you can have on the table in a reasonably short time and can be dressed up for company if you don’t mind cooking at the last minute.

Chicken Piccata with Grapes and Capers & Roasted Delicata Squash and Mushroom Risotto

Chicken Piccata with Grapes and Capers & Roasted Delicata Squash and Mushroom Risotto

I have found the seafood piccatas suitable for warmer weather and the chicken better suited for colder times. There’s something about the peppery breading of the chicken that is warming but is balanced with the slightly sweet fruitiness of the grapes, the brightness of the lemon and the briny taste  of the capers. A nice comforting risotto rounds this out to a full plate of pleasurable eating. Read more…

Linguine with Doppelbock Wild Mushroom Sauce

December 23, 2009
Linguini with Doppelbock Wild Mushroom Sauce

Linguine with Doppelbock Wild Mushroom Sauce

Of all the abundant natural resources we enjoy in the Pacific Northwest, wild mushrooms occupy a lofty status due to their rarity. Even if you don’t live in an area where you can forage for wild fungi, locating dried shouldn’t be that difficult. Gourmet stores and many supermarkets stock dried mushrooms. If your community still doesn’t offer a source, consider the Internet. Oregon Mushrooms, a provider of local mushrooms and truffles, offers mail order service from Keno. Unfortunately, the farther you are from the source, the deeper you have to dig into your pocketbook.

For this recipe, I was able to locate all fresh mushrooms with the exception of the morels and porcini which I used in the dried form with wonderful results. As a matter of fact, I always have a small jar of porcini powder on my spice rack for adding an earthy layer of flavor to whatever. Simply grind dried porcinis to a fine powder in your spice mill.

Because wild and cultivated mushrooms vary greatly in price, I usually adjust the variety with at least half cremini and then build up with the more expensive oyster, portobello and chanterelles along with some reconstituted morels and porcinis.

Although beer and ales wouldn’t be considered a natural resource, Oregon and the surrounding areas are rich with all the ingredients necessary for almost any type of brew one could want. Seven Brides Brewery in Silverton grew out of pastime of three dads and two uncles. Josiah Kelley, Phil and Karl Knoll, along with Ken and Jeff DiSantis are the brains and brawn that turned a hobby into a thriving business. Seven Brides prides itself on being a local brewery that uses local products. They use certified Oregon hops, and acquire grain from Vancouver, Washington which is just across the Columbia River from Portland. Yeast is purchased from Odell, Oregon.

Although we recently visited Seven Brides Brewery with the intention for a full feature story, we’re holding off until they move to a new address complete with a tasting room. Enjoy this teaser about Seven Brides along with the following recipe until we return with the full article.

Currently, their brews were available only on tap at various locations in the Portland/Salem area. Bottling commenced on December 17 and the new bottles will begin appearing at retailers very soon. Read more…

Oregon Rose Petal Jelly — A Delightful Holiday Gift

December 22, 2009

The temperate Willamette Valley climate in Oregon makes it a great place to live, especially for gardeners.

Winters are relatively mild if you can stand the dreary rain and gray weather.

The springs are glorious, with clear skies, cool dry days and cool nights. In the summer, it can get warm, but come sundown it cools off pleasantly.

The winter is time to plan the vegetable garden and flower garden and do prep work so that come spring you’re ready to get going.

Heaven On Earth, a floribunda variety from Jackson & Perkins that has a wonderful aroma and huge peony-like blooms.

One of the things I learned shortly after moving here is that Oregon is the home of rose king Jackson & Perkins. And no wonder. The climate here is perfect for growing roses. They thrive with the warm summer days and cool nights. Over the course of a couple of years, I’ve planted a long row of roses of varying varieties and colors along our backyard fence lines. I’ve got climbing roses, floribunda, grandiflora, antique roses, English tea roses. I’ve had to stop because I’ve run out of space.

April In Paris, a wonderfully fragrant rose from Jackson & Perkins

In the summertime, our backyard is bursting with color and we’re never short of a supply of cut flowers for the house.

A few years ago, Charles ran across a recipe for rose petal jelly in The Seattle Times and encouraged me to make our own. I loved the idea and thought it would be a wonderful way to enjoy the memory of our roses all year ’round and to share it with our friends and family as holiday gifts.

It’s really a simple process, but it is time-consuming, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a day set aside to make the jelly and can it properly. The jelly takes on the perfume of the roses you use and the color of the jelly is influenced by the colors of the roses. So over time, you can experiment with different combinations.

I simply followed the recipe for making the jelly from the Times article and then found instructions on canning in the package of Ball jars I bought from the store. I usually triple the recipe and put up 15-20 jars at a time during the summer. That way there’s plenty to give away as holiday gifts with enough to spare for my own family’s use. Read more…

Lovin’ from the oven – Sweet Spiced Pecans and Cornmeal Anise Biscotti

December 21, 2009

Cornmeal Anise Biscotti

Cornmeal Anise Biscotti

“Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven, and Pillsbury says it best.”

—Poppin’ Fresh, The Pillsbury Doughboy

It’s hard to believe that little song has been around for almost 50 years. Poppin’ Fresh is one of the most enduring and endearing advertising icons of all time, with appeal as big as the Jolly Green Giant.

Many Sunday mornings in our house when I was just a little sprout, refrigerator biscuits and cinnamon rolls from Pillsbury graced our breakfast table. If I was trying to “sleep in,” the smell of that cinnamon got me movin’ pronto. They are always best hot and fresh out of the oven with that luscious, sugary icing just melted.

I regularly walk with friends and when the Oregon weather discourages outdoor walks, we head to Salem Center, a downtown mall laid out in five buildings connected with second-story enclosed walkways. The food court there has a Cinnabon® franchise whose ovens begin pumping out the wafting aroma of cinnamon long before the stores open. The heavenly smell still gets me moving. This time, however, I summon up all my willpower to move past the sirenic seduction of the warm cinnamon buns.

Sweet Spiced Pecans was probably the first homemade holiday treat I made from the oven. Jan Crisanti, principal flutist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, introduced them to me as a gift many years ago. I’ve been hooked ever since and have never missed a year making and giving them. One year for a Lunar New Year party, we substituted the regular spices with Chinese five-spice powder with great success. We either called them Peking Pecans or Nanjing Nuts. Read more…