Let’s talk about beets.  They have been a favorite at the farmer’s market for me this year.  This is a truly lovely vegetable and it comes in several different colors and sizes.  This post started as an ode to my farmer’s market based dinners, but then it ended up being an ode to beets.  Perhaps I should switch it up a little bit? If you’re sitting at home with a bunch of beets on-hand, here are a few ideas:

Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza
This dish is so simple, and so delicious, you are going to wonder why you never thought of it before.

Step 1: Cook the beets. Wash and boil beets in a deep pot until tender (Depending on the size of the beet this could take awhile, so don’t be alarmed if after 20 minutes your beets still aren’t done).  When beets are done, carefully pour out the water from the pot, and let the beets cool for a few minutes.  Pour cold water over beets and rinse a few times.  Under the cold water, rinse beets and rub the skins.  the skins should come right off in the water.  Be very careful, the beets will probably still be hot!  To save time, you can do this step the night before and store the cooked beets in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Step 2: To make your life easier, you can use store bought pizza dough. First take store bought dough, and roll it into a pie tin.  For a thick crust, let the pizza dough rise in the pan for about 15-20 minutes.  Then drizzle olive oil, minced garlic, and a pinch of sea salt straight on to the dough.

Step 3: Use your favorite goat cheese and spread the crumbles evenly over the dough.

Step 4: Slice the cooked beets and place the slices on top of the goat cheese. You can use any left over goat cheese crumbles on top of the beets, if you desire.

Step 4: Bake pizza according to store bought dough instructions.

Step 5: After the pizza cools, slice basil leaves ( I use basil from my balcony garden) and sprinkle on top of the finished pizza.

Step 6: Attempt to share pizza, and not eat the whole thing for yourself!

Here are a few other ideas for beets and goat cheese…White beets with goat cheese, sauted brussle sprout rapini and brussle sprouts with olive oil and garlic, over quinoa cooked in vegetable broth

Or how about beet and goat cheese risotto?  I’d give you my recipe, but I haven’t quite perfected it yet.  You should probably try Jenna’s instead…because I probably would have had better results had I just followed her recipe in the first place!

And what are you going to eat with your beets and goat cheese?  How about a farmer’s market salad with baked bell peppers and tofu!?!
Happy shopping and happy eating!

 

The Pink Rose

September 5, 2011

Since I’ve been talking so much about my quest to get healthy, I thought I would share my workout schedule from this week:

Monday: 3 mile run + weight training

Tuesday: AM:30-40 minutes on elliptical (I don’t remember most of it because it was too early in the morning). PM: Boot camp style yoga class

Wednesday: 3 mileish run after work

Thursday: AM: 30 minutes of ellipitcal

Friday: Off

Saturday: 7 mile run planned in the morning!

Even though I’ve been working hard to stay healthy, Ben and I are still hitting the town every now and then and enjoying a meal out.  Most recently we decended upon the Pink Rose,a new restaurant that opened only a few blocks away.  In Portland, outside seating is a requirement for summer dining.  The Pink Rose features a large patio with big pink umbrellas.  After walking by a few different times on our way to the grocery store, we made the decision that we would try this place on our Saturday night out.  The night started with a Sangria for me and a pint of Mac and Jacks for Ben.

For our appetizer we ordered the mussels.
It took awhile for the drinks and the mussels to come, and when they did we still didn’t have place settings at the tables.  No harm though because the mussels were delicious, and extremely large!  For our main dishes, I ordered the smoked tomato rissotto and Ben had the roasted chicken thigh with fingerling potatoes.
Don’t get me wrong, the risotto was good, but the smoky flavor really overwhelmed the dish.  The dish included bits of home-pulled mozzarella with a sun dried tomato and mushroom garnish.  I would have really liked it if these flavors were expressed more prominently however, they were all downplayed by the smokiness of the dish.  Ben’s chicken was flat out disappointing.  There was nothing actually wrong with it, but it was plain and there wasn’t anything really special about the dish. It felt like it was something that I could have made at home myself.  I’m a pretty decent cook, but when I go out and pay for a meal I would like to get a product that really wows me.In hindsight, the best part of the meal was the mussels.  The wait staff even indulged us with another crostini to soak up the buttery white wine sauce.  Overall, the meal was kind of ho-hum.  The wait staff was very friendly, but a little disorganized and things weren’t moving very smoothly in and out of the kitchen.  The food was reasonably priced, but with so many other amazing options in Portland, I probably won’t come back here again.

Have you ever had a disappointing night out?

I have a confession.  I’m in love with the farmer’s market.  It started as a fling.  Every now and then when I was in town on Saturday, I would stop in with twenty dollars and buy some fruit and a few veggies for the week.  But this summer, my tryst turned into an all out affair.  Every weekend, and now even sometimes at lunch on Wednesdays, I go and stock up on fresh produce, artisan cheeses, farm fresh eggs, and other delicious local food products.  With my cloth bags overflowing I ride home on the street car and think about what delicious creations I am going to make in the week to come.

When the summer squash was in full boom.  I made this delicious saute with soy sauce, torpedo onions, white wine, and spicy chicken meatballs

This week’s farmer’s market trip provided many new temptations…

Now allI have to do is decide what to make this week with all my lovely farmer’s market finds.  What have you made with this year’s farmer’s market bounty?

Tasha in Action

September 4, 2011

I’ve been a bit absent from Blackfriday, but that is only because I’ve had some very exciting things going on in my life.  I’m still working on revealing one of the things I’ve been working on.  However, I can reveal that I’m making a commitment to be healthier.  I’ve been cleaning up my eats and really focusing on getting outside and being active.  Part of being active in the Pacific Northwest includes one of my all-time favorite activities: Hiking!

Two weeks ago we embarked on a 13 mile hike in the Olympic National Forest.  For those Twilight savvy folks, you’ll already know that we were about 30 miles away from Bella’s stomping grounds.  unfortunately (or fortunately) no vampires were seen on our hike…

Last weekend we brought it a little closer to home and completed a 5 mile hike up Saddle Mountain.  The actual climb to the top was only about 2 miles, but oh what a climb!  The views made all the hard work worthwhile.

When we got to the top, we enjoyed some homemade turkey sandwiches and fresh watermelon.

In addition to all the hiking, I’ve also been running, going to the gym, and making yummy delicious meals at home. My legs are tight and my kitchen is a mess!

What is your favorite summertime outdoor activity?

Inspired Kitchen

July 14, 2011

After my amazing dinner at Le Pigeon on a Friday night, I spent a very inspired Saturday evening in my own kitchen.  For the first course I made seared scallops served on a bed of elephant garlic scapes, bacon, shallots, and a splash of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.

The scallops were pretty rich so the following two courses were lighter, but still just as delicious. For the next course, I was inspired by the  stuffed tomatoes recipe in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday cookbook, but used quinoa instead of cous cous. I also  made a few other adjustments to make the recipe work with the ingredients in my kitchen. Ben always thinks that quinoa lacks flavor, so I melted a little bit of gruyere cheese and white cheddar on top.Ben’s cousin operates an organic farm in Massachusetts and she often posts fantastic recipes for farm fresh vegetables on her White Barn Farm website. Inspired by the Honey Butter Kohlrabi recipe found on the site, I decided to finish off the fresh Kohlrabi that I got earlier that morning at the farmer’s market. After two courses of cheese and bacon fat, I was trying to make a healthier version of the dish and substituted the butter with olive oil.  I think that this was a mistake because the lemon really overpowered the dish and it really needed that creamy flavor to balance it out.  It was still delicious, but next time I am going to actually follow the recipe and not improvise!

Happy Eating!

A Night at Le Pigeon

June 27, 2011

I think I first heard about Le Pigeon drinking some post softball game beers at Amnesia Brewery.  A fellow food enthusiast mentioned that this was the place to eat in Portland.  Since I am an avid food dork, I immediately went home and did Google search and learned that the Chef at Le Pigeon, Gabriel Rucker, is kinda the bomb and among other things, won the James Beard best rising star award in 2011 .  After about a month of endless chatter to Ben about Le Pigeon and James beard, I finally made a late reservation for a Friday night.

Immediately after walking in the door we were greeted by friendly staff and seated across from each other at a community table.  The cozy location has long dark wood tables and a bar surrounding the three chefs hard at work in the kitchen.    At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about spending our romantic evening in close quarters with others, but after a few minutes we started chatting with our neighbors about their deserts and got some great suggestions.  We had a dialog about the food and about the restaurant and suddenly our two person meal turned into a five person dinner party.

At the waiter’s suggestion, we started our meal with the gnocchi and foie gras.

Gnocchi with trout roe, broccoli and creme fraiche 
Foie gras with artichoke, green pepper corn, and brioche 

Both starters could only be described as special but the gnocchis really stood apart. Gnocchi is a dish that I have had in a range of places – from Cinque Terre, Italy to my great grandmother’s Bay Area kitchen. I feel like it’s safe to say that I have had my share of  gnocchis, but this was the only time that I can say that the dish was truly unique.  The broccoli and what I assumed was dill? had a very powerful green taste at first bite, but after chewing for a moment the pillowy texture of the gnocchi and the creaminess of the creme fraich dominated the palette.  Just when I thought my tasting journey was almost over, I was surprised with a splash of salty from the trout roe.

One of the very helpful waitresses pointed us toward a bottle of Xinomavro to share with our main course.  I had never tasted a Greek wine before and was excited to try something that was, again, unique to my palette.  The only way that the staff at Le Pigeon and I could describe the wine was “weird, but in the best kind of way”.

For dinner Ben ordered the Lamb and I had the Beef Cheek Bourguignon.

Lamb with green garlic risotto, pepper, and fennel 

Beef Cheek Bourguignon

Just like the starters, both dishes were fantastic but I think I liked Ben’s a little better.  The green garlic risotto had small pieces of radish which gave it a little pop.  And the fennel on top was pickled…with curry.  The bite of the acid from the fennel mixed with the creaminess of the risotto made the lamb dance on the tongue.

The best part of the meal was the only unpictured course from Le Pigeon, which may be a testament to how delicious it was.  Not unlike our other two courses, dessert had that combination of tastes that really gave the dish complexity.  All the desserts on the menu that evening seemed to have some savory component.  Our choice, the honey bacon apricot cornbread with maple ice cream was no exception to this rule and was brought out by Chef Gabriel himself. Because we were one of the last customers in the restaurant (we had a late reservation) he spent a little bit of extra time talking to us.  After gushing about the meal and about how happy we were with our night, he hooked me up with a sweet Le Pigeon T-shirt.  He was great fun to talk to and it was so inspiring to meet someone who is so accomplished, yet so down to earth.

If you haven’t eaten here yet, you need to put this place on your dining bucket list. The location is small and intimate; the prices are reasonable for the quality of the food; and all the staff are fun, knowledgeable, and very unpretentious.  The menu seems to change regularly, so I will definitely be back.  Furthermore, I often pass by Gabriel Rucker’s second restaurant, Little Bird, on my way in to work.  After literally having the best eating experience of my life at Le Pigeon, I know a lunch at Little Bird is in my very near future.  See you soon Little Bird!

New Cookbook Fun

June 13, 2011

Recently, I met my favorite cookbook author, Heidi Swanson, while she was in Portland for a book signing.  I purchased her book Super Natural Every Day, and have since found myself conflicted between trying not to dirty up my signed book in the kitchen, and trying as many of her recipes as possible.

Two of the recipes that I have tried so far are her little quinoa patties and the wild rice casserole.  The great thing about these two recipes is that they were easy and I got the opportunity to use herbs from my tiny balcony garden!

Little quinoa patties with chives from my own garden and a strawberry, artichoke spinach salad.

Wild rice casserole (with Italian parsley from my garden). Happy reading and happy eating!


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