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LadyConcierge



Portland Food. Restaurants. Cooking. Bowie.



Updated: 2017-10-26T23:03:45.021-07:00

 



2009 Books

2011-11-17T20:14:17.260-08:00

Hey!  Want to know all the books I read in 2009?  Here ya go!


January
Lisey's Story - Stephen King
The Mist - Stephen King
Nights in Rodanthe - Nicholas Sparks
The Fiery Cross - Diana Gabaldon
The Coma - Alex Garland
The South Beach Diet - Dr. Arthur Agatston
Brisingr - Christopher Paolini

February
Just After Sunset - Stephen King
Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz
The Host - Stephenie Meyer*
You Suck: A Love Story - Christopher Moore
Divine Justince - David Baldacci
The Boleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory*
Odd Hours - Dean Koontz
Storm of the Century - Stephen King*


March
A Dirty Job - Christopher Moore
A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg*
The Lucky One - Nicholas Sparks
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
The Eyes of the Dragon - Stephen King*
The Husband - Dean Koontz
Sleeping with the Devil - Vanessa Marlow
Breath of Snow and Ashes - Diana Gabaldon

April
Breath of Snow and Ashes - Diana Gabaldon
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove - Christopher Moore
Skinny Legs and All - Tom Robbins

May
Along Came a Spider - James Patterson
The Virgin's Lover - Philippa Gregory
The Constant Princess - Philippa Gregory
Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser

June
The Queen's Fool - Philippa Gregory
Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer

July

Fluke - Chrisopher Moore
Blackwood Farm - Anne Rice
Harry Potter & the half-blood prince
Harry Potter & the deathly hallows
eleven on top - janet evanovich

August

Full Speed - janet evanovich
The Other Queen - Philippa Gregory
The Island of the Sequined Love Nun - Christopher Moore

Sept

The Prometheus Deception - Robert Ludlum
Remember Me
Second Child - John Saul

Oct

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
Living Dead in Dallas - Charlaine Harris
The Magic Kingdom of Landover - Terry Brooks
The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart
The Black Unicorn - Terry Brooks
Wizard at Large - Terry Brooks
Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
Predator - Patricia Cornwell

Nov
Book of the Dead - Patricia Cornwell
A Kiss of Shadows - Laurell K Hamilton
Black Rose - Nora Roberts
A Caress of Twilight - Laurell K Hamilton
Seduced By Moonlight - Laurell K hamilton
A Stroke of Midnight - Laurell K Hamilton
A Kiss of Shadows - Laurell K Hamilton
A Lick of Frost - Laurell K Hamilton
Mistral's Kiss - Laurell K Hamilton

December
Swallowing Darkness - Laurell K hamilton
Guilty Pleasures - Laurell K Hamilton
Dead as a Doornail - Charlaine Harris
Definitely Dead - Charlaine Harris
Swan Song - Robert McCammon
All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris
My Soul to Lose - Rachel Vincent
Irresistible Forces - Brenda Jackson
Hide in Plain Sight - Marta Perry
Double Cross - James Patterson

* The starred books are the ones I consider favorite books read of all time.

Some of these books had been read before.  I love to re-read good books.







Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

2011-02-22T19:35:57.383-08:00

Okay, this is the recipe I've been so excited about the last week.  This is the Mediterranean Chickpea Salad, adapted from a New York Times recipe.  I got the idea from a salad I've eaten on the Portland Spirit.Normally, I would use fresh tomatoes, but I subbed quality canned tomatoes due to the season.  I can't wait to try this in the summer.  For this version, I used frozen artichoke hearts, WHICH I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND AGAIN.   Use marinated artichoke hearts or ones stored in water.  The frozen ones have no flavor if they are not cooked.  Also, contrary to the picture below, I only used one jar of kalamata olives, but 2 cans of tomatoes.  Keep this in mind, although it can be a preference rather than a recipe requirement.I forgot to take a pic of the cucumber, so here it is.The dressing is only lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Use the proportions you prefer.  Usually recipes call for 2:1 oil vs. acid, but I like a 1:1 ratio instead.  Make a dressing you like.A pic of the final dish.  Not too colorful, but so tasty.  Full of protein and veggies, it's an easy side or dinner entree.Recipe:Mediterranean Chickpea Salad:  adapted from The New York Times2 cans chickpeas8 oz artichoke hearts1/2 red onion, chopped,1 jar kalamata olives, halved 1/2 cup roasted garlic cloves (optional, mine were from the olive bar and tasted of anise)3/4 cup feta2 - 15 oz cans good quality chopped tomatoes, or 2-3 summer tomatoes, chopped1 cucumber, peeled and chopped1/4 cup chopped herbs ( I used parsley and basil, but tarragon, chives or any other fresh herbs may be added to your taste)Dressingjuice of one lemon2-3 T good olive oil1 T red wine vinegarsalt and pepper to taste.[...]



A Recipe to Come

2011-02-07T20:59:11.573-08:00

I had given up blogging for the past year or so, since I moved away from Portland, into the boonies they call McMinnville.  There are few good restaurants here, and, considering my new job, even fewer opportunities to try new recipes at home.  However, we seem to have developed a routine where I have some time to cook and some time to write, so I hope to revisit the blog.

The recipe to come is my inspiration to continue blogging.  It's a Mediterranean Chickpea Salad, and it's all I want to eat this week.

I hope to make it again in the next few days and take some pictures to post.

The idea came from a salad I had on the Portland Spirit, which usually has terrible food, but redeems itself with this salad.

See you soon!


Lisa



"Fix"ing Dinner

2010-06-25T23:18:00.392-07:00

Who says "fix" dinner.  Like, "I am going to fix dinner".  Is it broken?  Why are you going to fix it?  You make dinner, or you prepare dinner.  Duh.



La Rambla

2010-03-07T19:00:01.235-08:00

Long time no see!  I have moved to the town of McMinnville, Oregon.  I am no longer working as a concierge.  Instead I am co-managing a small pizza shop with my husband Brian.  It's a big change, but a good one so far.  Here in the midst of wine country, there are a handful of quality restaurants using the fresh, local meats and produce this area is known for.  So far we have tried Cuvee, Thistle and La Rambla.  Didn't have my camera at the first two, but here are some shots of our lunch at La Rambla.  It's a Spanish tapas place.First up was this partially-devoured chef's choice meat and cheese plate ($12).  It came with housemade chorizo, serrano ham, a hard cheese, a bleu cheese and some candied walnuts.  We had this with some good bread and olive oil.Next up was the manila clams with chorizo, sherry, garlic and herbs ($7).  I could eat these all day.  We used the clam shells to scoop up the rest of the juice left over in the bowl.  These were one of the best things we ate here:  Piquillo Peppers stuffed with northwest crab, goat cheese, harissa ($12).  Tons of crab spiked with the spicy harissa wrapped in a roasted pepper.  Mmm, mmm, good.The Willamette Valley mushrooms with garlic and white wine ($7) were nothing special.  Needed more salt and more garlic or lemon or something.  Also they were white or crimini mushrooms.  We were hoping for something more wild.Fried green beans ($6) with aioli.  Scrumptious.  A tempura-like batter.Spice-rubbed Tri-tip with romesco and marinated onion.  These were good, especially with the pickled onion.  I loved the romesco with the smoky steak.  Our last dish was the chorizo empanadas with a roasted red pepper cream sauce ($8).  I was really too full to enjoy this.  The flavor was bold and a little too salty.  I thought I'd show the pics of the room.  I really liked the lamps and the paintings.  And the signboard outside.Overall we liked our meal at La Rambla.  They have a bunch more tapas and even a burger I'd like to try.La Rambla238 NE Third StreetMcMinnville, Oregon503.435.2126[...]



Mmmm, Carnitas

2009-12-12T12:25:00.471-08:00

 Baby, it's cold outside...actually, today it is 31*F, much warmer than the 14*F of a few days ago.  Still, the crispy weather just begs for something hot and slow-cooked in a flavorful braise.A few weeks ago we picked up a whole pork shoulder for about 11 bucks. I had a thought of making pulled pork, but decided on carnitas.  Both are slow-cooked pork, but I associate pulled pork with barbecue and carnitas is definitely mexican.  Anything that can be folded into a tortilla has my vote.I scanned some recipes online and eliminated any that called for orange juice.  I have a dislike of fruit or citrus with flesh. I spotted one from David Lebovitz that looked good and easy to adapt to the crockpot.It was my first pork butt.  Why is it called pork butt if it is from the shoulder?  I don't know, but it's fun to say "pork butt".  Let me tell you, pork butts are huge.  I decided to just work with half of it at a time, since I wanted to use my crockpot.Carnitas, adapted from David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris4-5-pounds boneless pork shoulder (pork butt!), cut into 5-inch chunks, trimmed of excess fat1 tablespoon coarse sea salt2 tablespoons canola or neutral vegetable oilwater1 cinnamon stick (omitted)1 teaspoon chile powder1 teaspoon ancho chile powder (omitted)2 bay leaves¼ teaspoon ground cumin3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly-sliced1. Rub the pieces of pork shoulder all over with salt. Refrigerate for 1- to 3-days. (You can skip this step if you want. Just be sure to salt the pork before searing the meat in the next step.)2. Heat the oil in a roasting pan set on the stovetop. Cook the pieces of pork shoulder in a single layer until very well-browned, turning them as little as possible so they get nice and dark before flipping them around. If your cooking vessel is too small to cook them in a single-layer, cook them in two batches.3. Once all the pork is browned, remove them from the pot and blot away any excess fat with a paper towel, then pour in about a cup of water, scraping the bottom of the pan with a flat-edged utensil to release all the tasty brown bits. I poured this liquid into the crockpot with the pork.4. Heat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.  If you are using oven instead of crockpot.5. Add the pork back to the pan and add enough water so the pork pieces are 2/3rd's submerged in liquid. Add the cinnamon stick and stir in the chile powders, bay leaves, cumin and garlic. I added the juice of one lime, too.7. Braise in the oven uncovered for 3½ hours, turning the pork a few times during cooking, until much of the liquid is evaporated and the pork is falling apart. Remove the pan from the oven and lift the pork pieces out of the liquid and set them on a platter.  OR - cook in your crockpot on low for 8 hours.  The liquid won't evaporate, but I just pulled out the pork with a slotted spoon and transferred it to a sheet pan.    8. Once the pork pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them into bite-sized pieces, about 2-inches (7 cm), discarding any obvious big chunks of fat if you wish.9. Return the pork pieces back to the roasting pan and cook in the oven, turning occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the pork is crispy and caramelized. It will depend on how much liquid the pork gave off, and how crackly you want them.  I browned my carnitas for 20 minutes in a 375* oven.These were delish.  We had some in tortillas the first night, and then I had the idea to try to recreate a carnitas bowl from Chipotle.I started with the cilantro-lime rice.  I browed one cup rice in a tablespoon of oil for 10 minutes, or until it smelled nutty, almost like popcorn.  Then I added chicken stock and cooked covered for about 20 minutes.                             I juiced some (wa[...]



Brian's Clam Chowder

2009-11-24T10:08:56.340-08:00

I'm back from my honeymoon in Cancun and have lots of pictures. I'll get to that a little later. I don't know if you know this, but I Love Clam Chowder. I have since I was little. Not the red Manhattan style, but the creamy, buttery-rich New England kind. As far as I'm concerned it's the only kind.I've sampled my share. Here in Oregon, most restaurants serve a version on Fridays. Mo's on the beach is often touted as the best chowder out there, but no way, Jose. It uses frozen potatoes. You can buy it as a mix. Disqualified. My favorite in Portland is at Salty's on the Columbia. It is thick and clam-by and buttery. I like it with oyster crackers.The one that blows them all away is my husband's recipe. He used to be a professional cook, so it's probably a conglomoration of recipes he's used in different workplaces.He made it for me last weekend. I paid attention and took lots of notes. However, like many soups, it is different every time, depending on time and what ingredients. The last time we used fresh clams; this time it was canned. We use tarragon, but you don't have to. Lemon juice will suffice when champagne vinegar isn't available. Etc. One thing I learned from Mo's is that a pat of butter melting atop a steamy bowl of clam chowder is a must. Try it. Brian's Clam Chowder (makes about 4-5 quarts)3 yellow onions, chopped1 red onion, chopped7 stalks celery, chopped fine2 shallots, sliced1 head garlic, cloves sliced thin6-8 oz bacon, diced1 lb fingerling potatoes, in one inch chunks1 cup vegetable stock4 cans chopped clams (6.5 oz cans)1 bottle clam nectar (8 fl. oz bottle)10 oz. can whole clams2 bunches green onions1 cup heavy cream4 cups whole milk2 tablespoons dried thyme 4 bay leavesfresh tarragon1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsleyfreshly ground pepperpinch celery seedpinch saltjuice from one lemon (or 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar)In a large soup pot, head 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium heat. Add bacon and saute until fat is rendered. Drain fat and transfer bacon into another bowl and set aside. Deglaze pot with stock and reduce a few minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon butter, then shallots and garlic.Saute briefly, 1-2 minutes.  Add another tablespoon of butter, then onions and celery.Saute over very low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.After 30 minutes, add potatoes and stir.  Add the chopped green onions.Drain clams, reserving juice.  Add clams to soup.Add bacon back to the pot, along with cream, milk, clam nectar from cans & bottle, bay leaves and thyme.  Stir well and cook over low heat.Meanwhile, chop fresh tarragon.Add tarragon, parsley, fresh ground pepper, celery seed, salt and lemon juice.  Stir and heat for about 30 minutes.  Stir often so a skin doesn't form.Serve with celery leaves, crispy bacon and/or green onions as a garnish.  Eat!Mmm, look at that.  All that is missing is a nice chunk of butter.  Thanks, honey!*note:  you may notice the pictures show two soup pots.  That's because we made this batch in two pots, adding half the ingredients to each pot.  Maybe it's time to get a great big stockpot.***********************************************************************************This is my 100th Post!  Whoo hoo![...]



October

2009-10-22T10:09:52.027-07:00

Best Dishes or Meals of the month so far:

Bechamel - topped lasagna (my own kitchen)
Duck - the London Grill
Seafood Dinner - Taste of Jakarta (my first Indonesian food!!!)
Cabbage Chicken Salad - Bambuza
Bun Bo Hue - Chino Saigon


Best Birthday Gift:

iPhone - my favorite app is Kindle for iPhone. I've already read 3 books on my phone and am halfway through the 4th.


What should I post about next? I may need to bake something...






Hiatus

2009-07-29T12:41:54.680-07:00

I am officially giving myself a break for the next 2 months while I finish planning the wedding and actually get myself married off. I may post now and then, but don't look for me back until October.

Wish me luck!



Creamy Asparagus Soup

2009-07-14T20:03:27.296-07:00

Asparagus, the harbinger of spring. It's a little past spring now as summer is just getting started in the Rose City, but asparagus still has a strong showing at the local markets. Asparagus is one of Brian and I's favorite vegetables and we are always looking for new ways to prepare it.Earlier this year, when we were planning the menu for my dad's dinner, I wanted to make some kind of soup. We thought about a shrimp or lobster bisque first, but a lot of our menu was already so rich that we wanted something clean and fresh for the soup.After browsing the various food recipe sites, I came across this recipe from Emeril. It looked simple and refreshing. I especially liked the idea of simmering the woody ends of the asparagus stalks (the part you don't eat) in the chicken stock, infusing it with asparagus flavor.Creamy Asparagus Soup courtesy of Emeril via the Food Network3 pounds fresh asparagus, rinsed8 cups chicken stock4 tablespoons unsalted butter1 cup minced shallots1 cup minced leeks, whites only, well rinsed1 tablespoon minced garlic1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper1/2 cup heavy cream1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, garnishTrim the attractive top tips from the asparagus, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Cut the woody stem ends from each spear and reserve. Cut the remaining tender stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer to infuse with asparagus flavor, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and discard, reserving the stock.Add the decorative tips to the stock and blanch until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a strainer and refresh in an ice water bath. Drain on paper towels and reserve for the garnish. Reserve the stock.In a medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When foamy, add the shallots and leeks and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.With a hand-immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. If serving right away, return to medium heat and add the cream and reserved asparagus tips. Cook, stirring, until the soup is warmed through, about 3 minutes.Alternatively, if serving the soup later, do not add the cream and let cool at room temperature (or in an ice water bath). Cover and refrigerate. Before serving, add the cream and asparagus tips, and warm the soup gently over medium heat, stirring occasionally.To serve, place the soup in a soup tureen and sprinkle with cheese. Ladle into demi-tasse cups or small coffee or tea cups, and serve.[...]



Sel Gris

2009-07-03T09:45:17.875-07:00

This post was written in November 2007 but never published. Why, I don't know.

As the new home of Portland favorite Chef Daniel Mondok - formerly of Carlyle and Olea, Sel Gris has to live up to some lofty expectations.

Ris de Veau: crisp sweetbreads, apple butter,“bacon and eggs”11. Melty-crisp sweetbreads were delicious. The "exploding egg pancake" that came with it impressed me with presentation, but I didn't care for the flavor. Too sweet. Brian scarfed it up happily.

Calamari “fritto misto”: Oregon rock shrimp, preserved lemon, green beans,Italian parsley, halibut gujonette, and walnut bagna cauda 10. I loved this - big chunks of halibut and shrimp lightly fried till crisp mixed with fried lemon and green beans sprinked with parsley. And the walnut bagna cauda is a warm dip of garlic, anchovies, walnut oil and cream. Luckily Brian was busy with the sweetbreads and let me have most of it. Hee hee.

Cauliflower Panna Cotta. Our server Tim brought this out gratis. Yes, it's Tim, the same server from Carlyle. He actually remembered us from our Valentine's Day dinner. That's a good server. Anyway, I loved this! It was cold, creamy and rich, tasting of cauliflower and cheese.

Duck Confit with baby chicories, Roquefort, sherry-shallot vinaigrette 12. Wow, great salad. I love duck, especially confited. This was the perfect venue for it - spicy chicory, intense Roquefort and the acidic dressing.

Endive salad with toasted walnuts, arugula, red wine spiced poached pears, Muscatel vinegar, under a "Humboldt Fog"9. What does under a Humboldt Fog mean? Something about cheese? It was good, too.

I wanted to order the salmon (pan roasted, crevette risotto, foie gras melted leeks, squid and crab "salad", butter poached prawn, coral oil), but I found I wasn't really hungry anymore. God, ya think? Brian went and ordered what would have been my second choice.

Diver Scallops: seared and bacon wrapped, polenta, foie gras béarnaise, figs and fennel 24. Decadence on a plate. The scallops were perfectly rare in the center, as expected, and the polenta and béarnaise gave each scallop bite a blanket of richness.

Daniel Mondok has hit his stride with Sel Gris. We are looking forward to seeing what other amazing creations come out of his kitchen.

Sel Gris
1852 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 517-7770
Dinner Monday - Saturday, 5:30 PM to close

_______________________________________________________

Note: Sel Gris has recently been under attack by foie gras protestors. Please go as often as you can this month to support them. I will. (If you are anti-foie, don't bother spamming the comments; I won't publish your mis-directed diatribe.)



Chocolate Mousse Tart (& more Pâte Sablée)

2009-06-27T09:40:50.807-07:00

This is my new favorite dessert to bring. Bring where? Anywhere! Potlucks, picnics, dinner at dad's, baby showers, and the like.There's two sticks of butter in the crust. And one whole pint of heavy cream in the tart. So don't make this to keep at home and risk eating all the leftovers for breakfast. You'll thank me for this later.I made this with Hershey's Special Dark chocolate. I usually go for the Ghirardelli or ScharffenBerger for fancy desserts, but the Hershey's was on sale and I wanted to try it out. I was a little iffy when I tasted the chocolate on its own, as it was too grainy and had that epitomous Hershey's flavor. But, once it was mixed with an ungodly amount of whipped cream and chilled into the sweet, cookie crust, the flavor was exceptional.The recipe I based this on didn't really work out, so I had to improvise. At first, I made it worse, but it turned out great anyway. The recipe calls for chocolate and half the cream to be heated together in the microwave until the chocolate melted, then cooled to room temperature. Meanwhile, I whipped the remaining cream until stiff peaks formed.Then, I was to fold the whipped cream into the melted chocolate/cream mixture. Even at room temp, the chocolate/cream mixture was too liquidy to fold the whipped cream into.So I mixed it the best I could, then thought I could throw the whole mix back into the mixer to re-whip the cream. No, not happening. And then the whole mix was even more liquidy. I poured it into the crust anyway and threw the whole lot into the freezer. And lo and behold! It firmed right up and even had that velvety mousse-like texture I was going for. Whoo hoo!please ignore my finger marksThe second time I made it, I melted the chocolate and cream using the double-boiler method instead of the microwave, let it cool, then folded the whipped cream in. Worked much better and was definitely a mousse and not a liquid.double-boiler method is betterA note on chocolate mousse: Julia Child seems to have the go-to recipe, according to my limited on-line research. However, I was making the first tart for a very pregnant friend of mine and Julia's recipe (and most out there) feature raw eggs in the dessert. And raw eggs & pregnant women do not mix. So that is why I chose this simple recipe.Also, I used the Pâte Sablée crust for this again and it was so good. So, so good. So good that I am going to include that recipe again since I have more pictures of it.Pâte Sablée from Martha Stewart 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature3/4 cup confectioners' sugar2 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon saltWith a standing mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour and salt, and beat until just combined and crumbly (do not overmix).Shape dough into a 9-inch round disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days), or freeze for up to 1 month.satiny doughFor this recipe, you'll need to fully bake the crust before filling it. I bake it at 400* for about 25 minutes, then check for doneness. Doneness can be however dark you would like your crust to be. The first time I made this, it was pretty dark.The crust browned nicely in the oven. This was the crust that was too crumbly for me to roll out; I picked up pieces of sandy dough and patted them into place in the tart pan.You can see the rest of the dough on my cutting board in the top right of the photo. It was very crumbly.The next time I made this, I chilled it just for a couple of hours instead of overnight. The crust rolled out nicely and baked up a little lighter.This dough was still very soft. I couldn't pick it up all at once to place in the pie pan. I used a bench scraper to [...]



A Dad Dinner

2009-06-15T12:28:00.680-07:00

Last week Brian and I gave my dad his birthday present. His birthday is in April, but for the second year our gift was a dinner. Dad gets to invite some friends over for a fabulous dinner party, and we cook. Dad's no slouch in the kitchen, so we really have to bring it for these dinners.The menu this year was as follows:Appetizers:Spinach Dip with crispy baguetteAssorted OlivesFirst Course:Creamy Asparagus Soup with Crab CakesSecond Course:Romaine Salad with goat cheese, walnuts, grapefruit & orange supremes, and Lemon-Tarragon VinaigretteThird Course:Seared Sonomoa Foie Gras with challah toast and honeyed walnutsFourth Course:Lemon SorbettoFifth Course:Smoked Pork Loin with bacon-wrapped scallops and lentilsSixth Course:Yin-Yang Dessert - cheesecake and chocolate mousse tartI didn't take pics of all the courses, but I wanted to share some.Here's Brian chopping garlic and/or shallots...and the kitchen behind him. Creamy Asparagus Soup, plated and ready to be served. Crab Cakes hand-formed by moi - Brian likes them in the cylinder shape. Sear them in a pan and finish in the oven.The huge scallops. Wrapped in bacon, they resemble calf nuts.This is one lobe of foie gras. We had 2 lobes, but only used one. Each person received a generous portion. The first one is my little plate of foie that I threw together for myself. It isn't pretty. The other one is a plate that Brian made up for us last month and was more like what we served to the guests.The real star of the evening: Dad's smoked pork loin. Look at that smoke ring! Luckily, Brian and I got to take a smidge home with us. It was probably the best pork I've had, in any form. The best part was the crispy, crackly outside mingling with the fat pockets inside. Made for some excellent pig sandwiches the next day.Last, but not least, my dessert duo. I made a cheesecake, slightly lemon flavored. And my new favorite dessert: chocolate mousse tart. I thought we should just give everyone a taste of each. Then we took the rest home...bwuuuhhahahaha.[...]



Happy Blog-iversary!

2009-05-25T13:30:00.794-07:00

3 years of LadyConcierge! I have to give mad props to everyone at http://www.portlandfood.org/ for their support and Michelle at Je Mange la Ville for being my inspiration.And now, strawberry shortcake! Seems like it's a popular topic right now. We're right in the middle of California strawberry season and waiting eagerly for the Oregon berries to arrive. Our strawberry plants are taking over the side yard, and boy are we glad!This recipe comes from the guys at The Bitten Word, who try out the best recipes from the food magazines each month. This one comes from Everyday Food, May 2009 issue. The original recipe was for rhubarb instead of strawberries.What I like about this recipe is the shortcake is the biscuit-scone type and not the foamy cake type. Brian disagrees, but will suffer through it somehow. He tried to get me to buy some angel food cake at the grocery store yesterday, but I would have none of it. I love the flaky texture of these shortcakes. I halved the recipe since it was just us two, and I sprinkled turbinado sugar over the tops.Macerating strawberries in balsamic is one of my favorite preparations for the sweet little gems. Alas, our balsamic was gone! So I used a splash of cherry brandy instead. Not the same flavor, but a nummy one just the same. Next time I will make sure to have balsamic on hand.Balsamic Brown Sugar StrawberriesThe Bitten Word1 pint strawberries2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar1 tablespoon dark or light brown sugar, depending on your preferenceCap and quarter strawberries and place in a large bowl. Mix with balsamic and sugar. Cover and refrigerate, two hours to overnight. If the strawberries are not sweet enough for your tastes, add more brown sugar.ShortcakesEveryday Food (May 2009)Prep: 25 minutesTotal: 55 minutes, plus coolingIngredientsServes 8* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface* 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder* 1 teaspoon salt* 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar* 1 cup whole milk* 1 cup heavy creamDirections1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, combine flour, butter, baking powder, salt, and 1/3 cup sugar and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add milk and pulse just until moistened, 4 to 5 times.2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. With floured hands, gently pat into a 4-by-8-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 8 squares and transfer to a baking sheet; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let biscuits cool on baking sheet.3. In a large bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until soft peaks return. To serve, split biscuits with a serrated knife; sandwich with rhubarb compote (or strawberries!) and whipped cream.[...]



Toro Bravo

2009-05-21T08:34:43.295-07:00

It is seriously sad that we don't head here more often, when it is a mere 6 blocks from home. And we've only been once, I think. We walked down last night just after 5 and snagged seats at the counter.

We started with drinks - Borio (?) for him (a tequila cocktail) and a Sage Seville for me (like a gin mojito with sage instead of mint). Tasty and balanced for both.

We started with the Singing Pig salad which featured grilled asparagus, chopped egg and hazelnuts, and the sherry chicken liver mousse. Both were big portions for the price. We were expecting maybe a votive of chicken liver mousse, but it was a very generous cup. Served with quartered ciabatta bread slices and crispy baguette. The salad was served in a mixing bowl with salad tongs. I tossed it around a little and served us up a big scoop each and still had enough left in the bowl for seconds. I love egg in salad so this was a winner for me. It was very lightly dressed in a mild vinaigrette.

Next we ordered the oxtail croquettes and drunken pork with fresh shell bean stew. I thought the oxtail croquettes were a ripoff for $14. Three, two-inch croquettes? Oxtails are from the tail of a cow, right? They were rich and crispy, though, with a great spicy aioli. I'm glad we tried them, and because the first two dishes' portion size was so generous, this one being skimpy didn't really matter. Actually, maybe that was why we expected a little more on that plate, because of the size of the first two. The drunken pork came out next. Tasted like a smoked pork chop chunked up with great northern beans and a tomato-pepper stew.

We passed on dessert and Brian had one more drink instead. 3 drinks + 4 dishes = $67 before tip. Not bad considering we can spend $30 for breakfast in the area pretty easily. I think we'll probably pop in more often now.


Toro Bravo
120-A N.E. Russell Street
Portland, OR 97212
503.281.4464
torobravopdx.com



Whole Lemon Tart and Pâte Sablée

2011-04-28T14:55:24.903-07:00

aka Tarte au Citron for you francophiles. I got this idea from the fabulous Deb at Smitten Kitchen. If you haven't met Deb yet and have no idea what Smitten Kitchen is, go there now and visit. I think I have bookmarked more recipes from Deb than from any other site.I first made this tart last year. At the time, I was using a tart crust recipe from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. It worked ok but was kind of blah. Then I tried the pâte sucrée (from Martha, of course), which is a richer dough made with egg yolks and a little sugar. This was better, but still not quite what I wanted.I was interested in trying a pâte sablée (a sweet shortbread-like crust) with this lemon tart to counter the bitterness from the lemon peel. Most of the recipes call for ground almonds, which gives the crust that delicate, sandy texture. I don't like purchasing ingredients for one dish (or rather, a piece of one dish) so I put off trying it until last weekend. Mother's Day was coming up, and I was bringing dessert over to my Dad's for our family celebration. I was once again checking out recipes for pâte sablée online when I came upon Martha's recipe, which doesn't use any ground almonds! Why I hadn't seen this before is a mystery to me. Her recipe uses butter, confectioner's sugar, flour and salt. Perfect.The best part about the pâte sablée recipe is that it comes together in the mixer. No cutting the cold butter into the flour necessary. That's always the hardest part for me. Instead, you use softened butter (2 sticks!) and cream it with the sugar, then add the flour and salt. Easy!After chilling, the dough is still very soft, so I patted the dough into the tart pan instead of trying to roll it out. The recipe says it makes a 9-inch tart shell, but I had more dough than I needed. Of course if you like an extra thick crust, go for it! **On second thought, I think my tart pan is only 8 inches, so that may have been the issue.In making tarts, I find it best to pre-bake the crust almost all the way before adding the filling. That way the crust is nice and brown and not gummy on the bottom. This is called blind baking. I learned a little trick from Deb: freeze the crust before baking it. That way the crust doesn't shrink down the sides of your tart pan. You can also line it with parchment and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights, but I've found freezing works just as well, if not better. Then pop it into a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes. When it is a light golden brown, remove from oven and let cool all the way before adding the filling.This tart recipe uses a whole lemon, as you may have guessed from the title. Except for any pesky seeds that might be hanging out. Just cut the lemon into small pieces and add it to the blender with the sugar and blend until smooth. Whisk in a whole egg, an egg yolk, corn starch and melted butter. This time I just blended everything in the blender and it worked fine. The color was a little cloudier but it still tasted great. The filling is intensly lemon with a good mix of tart, bitter and sweet. I've called it the grown-ups' lemon tart. With a pretty dusting of powdered sugar on top, it is a sure winner for brunch, picnic or family dinner.Pâte Sablée from Martha Stewart2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature3/4 cup confectioners' sugar2 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon saltWith a standing mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour and salt, and beat until just combined and crumbly (do not overmix). Shape dough into a 9-inch round disk, and wrap in plastic. Refriger[...]



H50

2009-04-20T12:30:01.652-07:00

Brian and I had dinner here about a month ago in the new Hotel Fifty. They've done a great job with renovating the space that used to be the Sheraton. There's not many restaurants where you can stare at the river whilst you dine, and H50 happily fills this gap. Here's a rundown of what we ordered.1. Bread Service - comes with romesco and whipped butter. That's Brian's Diablo cocktail - something with vodka and chiles and orange.2. Amuse - Dungeness Crab with wasabi foam, soy pearls over orange puree. Delish.3. Peruvian Crab Napoleon - purple potato, avocado, red onion marmalade. Too sweet. We originally wanted the Dungeness Crab Fritters, but they were out.4. The Caesar - baby romaine, garlic, white anchovy, crispy bread. Loved the presentation. Dressing was just to my taste - balanced garlic, lemon & anchovy. There was a whole anchovy hidden under the lettuce.5. My entree - Seared Salmon, braised pork belly, leek and marsala cous cous, cherry gastrique. Salmon was flaky and moist but was overshone by the perfect pork belly. It was like pork belly lasagna with alternating layers of meaty and fatty. The sugar snap peas underneath gave a fresh, crisp counterpoint. The froth on the salmon was almond-flavored, which I didn't really notice. Also dug the cous cous, which had cherries mixed up in there.6. Brian got the NY Strip, med rare, asparagus, oven roasted roma tomatoes, mornay sauce. The only problem with this was Brian could make it better at home himself. The steak didn't have enough blood. It was par-cooked and then finished when we ordered it. B was of the opinion they cooked it too long the first time 'round. He really liked the oven roasted tomatoes with the asparagus, which, again, is something that I make at home.7. Lemon Mascarpone Tart - the crust was fantastic, much flakier that I have been able to achieve at home. Didn't really need the mascarpone, but the lemon kicked ass.8. Sen Bao Profiteroles - there were 3 - one each filled with chocolate, peanut butter and salt caramel. I liked the caramel one the best, while B went for the peanut butter.Also, we were served sesame brittle mignardises with the check. The only flaw with our evening was the drinks. Pass on the cocktails. Each one was unbalanced, either too sweet or too acidic. I would stick with wine next time.Service was peachy, nothing to complain about. I also want to mention portion sizes as they were perfect. We ate every bite of every plate and left perfectly satisfied, not stuffed and definitely not hungry.I was very pleasantly surprised with H5O and will return.H50 (inside Hotel Fifty)50 SW MorrisonPortland, OR 97204503-221-0711[...]



Veggie Lasagna!

2009-04-18T10:55:14.359-07:00

Vegetable Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes. I first had it at a Raleigh Hills restaurant called Ernesto's, a homey red-sauce Italian kind of place. It contained mushrooms, zucchini and spinach and was smothered with hot, melty cheese. I used that as my model when first creating my own veggie lasagna.I've been eating fewer carbs, so for this batch, I used horizontally-cut zucchini strips in place of the noodles on my half. Brian doesn't believe in noodle-less lasagna, so I used the no-boil noodles on his part. Aren't I nice?Sauce - I make my own marinara sauce. Saute onions in olive oil and butter, add red pepper flakes, canned tomatoes (San Marzano if possible), thyme, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and let simmer on lowest setting for a few hours. Sometimes I stir in some tomato paste if I want it a little thicker for lasagna. This batch I stirred in some fresh basil as well, but dried is just as good. I often make the sauce the day before and let it sit overnight. Cold sauce is easier to work with, plus the flavor has time to develop.Veggies - I use frozen spinach, zucchini and mushrooms. I pre-cook the mushrooms so they don't leak water throughout my lasagna. Zucchini gets cut the long way for this batch. The spinach I thaw and drain and squeeze as much water out of it as I can. This takes many, many tree-killing paper towels.Cheese - Ricotta and parmesan play a key role here. I mix the ricotta with 2 eggs and about 4 cups of shredded parmesan cheese. Next time I might mix the spinach in there, too and see how that turns out. Mozzarella cheese is shredded and goes mostly on top. Sometimes I might throw a little cheddar in there for kicks. I think fontina would be good, too, for its exceptional melting quality.Layering - I never get as many layers as I should, probably because I don't have a deep enough pan. Three layers are just about average for me. First, spread a cupful of sauce on the bottom of the pan.Add noodles or zucchini strips, covering the whole bottom.Then, spread ricotta mixture thinly over the noodles/zucchini. Sprinkle with mushrooms, spinach and a little mozzarella cheese.Repeat as your pan allows. For the top layer, I just use the ricotta mixture, sauce and cover it with cheese. Use your hands to smoosh it down a little.Cover with foil and bake about an hour and a half. Check it to see if the middle is completely cooked. Sometimes I have to throw it back in for another 1/2 hour. When it's done, remove the foil and bake about 10 minutes more to get the cheese brown and melty.Let cool and eat!I often make this on Sunday afternoons as it makes great work lunches for the week. We never get sick of lasagna![...]



Dinner 4.2.09

2009-04-09T10:00:02.280-07:00

It seems we are following my family's tradition - I do most of the day-to-day cooking, while Brian takes over for special occasions. Sometimes special occasions are just Thursdays and a gift of morels.

(image) fresh halibut from Whole Foods

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morels from Brian's friend Matt

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searing halibut then finishing in the oven

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mushrooms - morels and button. asparagus in the background.

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seared halibut over asparagus and roasted potatoes and a mushroom cream sauce

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mmm.......flaky




Soup Month: Broccoli, Red Pepper and Cheddar Chowder

2009-03-31T18:30:04.331-07:00

I don't know if this is a chowder. It's a blended soup. It has some of the elements of chowder - potatoes, butter, cream, garlic, onions. But, it's a blended soup. I didn't name it, however, so I'll just leave it alone. I got this recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, Michelle over at Je Mange la Ville. Michelle is a wonderful cook and writer, and she is the one who inspired me to start this blog in the first place.She used sweet potatoes instead of a russet; I changed it up again and used two Yukon Golds. But, I might use just one potato next time. And, of course, I added a touch more garlic. I had to add quite a bit more salt to my pot; this may have been the result of the extra potato.I enjoyed this soup, particularly the warm cumin flavor. Broccoli-cheese soup is one of my favorites, and this was great with the sweet red pepper added.Broccoli, Red Pepper and Cheddar Chowder based on a recipe from Gourmet Magazine, via Je Mange la Ville1 small head broccoli1 Yukon Gold potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes1 large onion, chopped1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces3 large garlic cloves, grated2 T unsalted butter1 cup chicken broth1 tsp ground cumin1 tsp salt1/4 tsp black pepper1 tsp dry mustard2 T flour3 cups Cheddar, gratedcouple dashes of Tapatio or other hot sauce1/4 cup heavy cream, optional1. Cut off the bottom of the broccoli stem. Finely chop remaining stem. Cut the rest of the broccoli into florets. Cook florets in 2 CUPS of lightly salted, boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, place the broccoli florets in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking, then drain. Save the cooking water. (I didn't read closely enough and missed the part about using only 2 cups of water to cook the broccoli florets.)2. Melt the butter in a 3-4 quart heavy pot over medium heat. Add potato, onion, red pepper, broccoli stems and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 8-10 minutes.3. Add cumin, salt, pepper, and mustard and cook, stirring, one minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add reserved broccoli water and chicken stock and simmer (partially covered) for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cheese and continue to cook and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the hot sauce to taste.4. Puree 3/4 of the chowder in a blender or food processor until smooth, and then return to pot. (I used my immersion blender, but I think in this case, an actual blender would yield better results.) Add reserved florets and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in cream. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.*****************************************************************************Soup Month has been great. I tried some new recipes and found some new favorites. I learned that cauliflower can be a luscious treasure. However, I didn't seem to find time to tell you about my go-to soup. It's my trademark. It's the first soup I learned how to make, though it has grown and changed just like I have since that time. I promise I will share it with you soon. After all, Soup Month may be over, but the soups must go on! [...]



Soup Month: White Bean Soup with Sausage and Red Chard

2009-03-24T19:33:19.497-07:00

This was the first time I made this soup. I based it on a recipe from Recipe Zaar, but added way more beans and garlic, used chard instead of kale, and 2 kinds of sausage.There are so many kinds of white beans. I bought some dried navy beans last time at the store because they were the cheapest. So that's what I used here.The original recipe was for more of a brothy soup containing the beans, sausage, etc. I was going for a more bean-y soup loosened with a little chicken stock.A note on soup preparation: Rarely do I get a mise-en-place set up. I usually start by chopping an onion (all soups start with onion) and let the pot heat up at the same time. Then, I let the onion cook over medium-low heat while I prep and add the rest of the ingredients. This time I was waiting for the beans to soften, so I got my chopping out of the way.Now that's some garlic! I wish I had bought more chard. The sausage almost overwhelms it. Speaking of sausage, I used some mild Italian sausage and some elk kielbasa that I had hanging around my freezer (Thanks, Dad!!). I liked the contrast of two different textures - the soft ground sausage melting in with the beans, and the drier, more toothsome, kielbasa. White Bean Soup with Sausage and Red Chard based on this recipe from Recipe Zaar1/2 lb mild Italian sausage, ground2 T olive oil1/2 medium yellow onion, diced1 celery rib, diced9 large garlic cloved, minced (or grated)1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes1/2 tsp kosher salt1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (if using full-sodium, skip the salt)6 cups canned white beans (or 3 cups dry, soaked overnight)1 lb kielbasa (elk or otherwise), sliced into bite-sized pieces1 lb. chard, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-sized pieces (I only bought one bunch chard; should have gotten 2-3)1 T lemon juice1/2 tsp lemon zest1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, working to break into bite-sized pieces, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving any rendered fat in the pot. 2. Add the remaining olive oil to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.3. Add the celery and cook about 2 minutes more.4. Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, salt & pepper and cook about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.5. Reduce the heat to medium, add both sausages and HALF the beans.6. Mash the remaining beans with a fork or potato masher and add them to the pot, stirring to distribute.7. Stir in the chard. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and continue to cook until the chard is tender, about 20 - 30 minutes. (You may cover the pot loosely to prevent too much reduction in the broth.) 8. Stir in the lemon juice and zest just before serving.[...]



Soup Month: Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Parmesan

2009-03-18T18:16:41.168-07:00

My mom used to make cauliflower soup when I was young. I didn't know what was in it, and I didn't care. I loved the velvety-smooth texture, the rich, buttery flavor and the sharp, peppery bite. I always meant to get the recipe from her (and I'm sure I did, but lost it before I ever made it).She gave me a soup cookbook for my last birthday. I made a chicken chili from it last fall and then kind of laid it aside. I picked it back up again the other day, looking for a new recipe to try. Aha - cauliflower soup! It's almost stupefyingly easy. The flavor mostly comes from onions, cauliflower and chicken stock. And maybe a little butter...The recipe calls for leeks, but I made it with yellow onions one time with great results. Also, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper is just a tease. I used 1 tablespoon. And, instead of crème fraîche, I used sour cream. Okay, and I used turkey bacon in place of the prosciutto (but didn't get a picture), and maybe I drizzled it with a little truffle oil and topped it with green onions at one point.This is a good one, kids. We made a batch, ate it ALL in 3 days, and promptly made another one.Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Parmesan from Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom4 T unsalted butter3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (or onions)12 cups cauliflower florets (from 2-3 large heads)8 cups chicken stock1/8 t cayenne pepper1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided1/2 cup crème fraîcheKosher salt4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto (okay, I used turkey bacon)1 tablespoon olive oil1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy deep-sided pot (with a lid) set over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring, until softened, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets, chicken stock, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and cover pot. Cook until vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.2. Purée the soup in batches in a food processor, blender or food mill, and return soup to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.) Whisk in 1/2 cup of the cheese and the crème fraîche. Taste soup and season with salt as needed. (The soup can be made 2 days ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)3. Cut the prosciutto into julienne strips 3 to 4 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add the prosciutto and sauté, stirring constantly, until crisp and browned, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer prosciutto to paper towels to drain.4. To serve, ladle soup into 6 soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with some prosciutto, chopped parsley, and remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan.[...]



Soup Month: Taco Soup

2009-03-15T09:40:19.776-07:00

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I got this recipe from my soon-to-be cousin-in-law, Maggie. I made it with ground elk instead of beef (Thanks, Dad!!!). This is a very hearty soup great for the cold rainy weather we've been having. It's also very easy - most of it is made by opening cans! You can make it in the crockpot or stovetop. Yeah, baby!

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Taco Soup

1 lb. ground beef
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can Ro-tel
1 can hominy, drained
1 can of corn, drained (or frozen)
1 can each of kidney beans, pinto beans and ranch-style beans (any kind of beans will work)
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 packet of ranch dressing mix
2 onions, chopped
cheese, hot sauce and sour cream for garnish

Brown the ground beef in a heavy skillet. Drain fat if you want to. Add the taco seasoning and stir till combined. Add to Crockpot if using, or a heavy soup pot for stovetop cooking.

Open all the cans. Drain the hominy and corn, then add to soup pot. Add the beans and tomatoes with their juices. (Instead of Ro-tel, I used a third can of stewed tomatoes with chiles and tomatoes. I also added a can of diced green chiles for fun.)

Add the chopped onions and stir in packet of ranch dressing mix. Stir very well.

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Simmer for about 1 hour on the stovetop or 8 hours on low for the Crockpot.

To serve, place in bowls and add garnishes as desired.

I liked this with lots of hot sauce. Next time I may add some jalapenos to make it spicier. Or stir in a jar of salsa.



Soup Month: Black Bean Soup

2009-03-02T22:11:00.585-08:00

This is a very satisfying, easy Mexican black bean soup. Made with cumin, lime juice and jalapeno, this soup is great with a little dollop of sour cream on top and some cilantro scattered around.The recipe is from my first soup cookbook ever: Twelve Months of Monastery Soups. This was given to me by my step-grandmother JoAnn, who now has Altzheimer's and will always think I am dating my ex-boyfriend Kenneth. It was one of the best gifts I have ever been given - you know how it is when someone actually *listens* to you and picks the perfect thing? I love peeling back the front cover and seeing her little inscription: Hope you like trying the recipes- JoAnn. I wish now I had made some soup for her.You can make this soup with canned black beans, like the recipe states, or with dried black beans. Just soak them overnight first and prepare for a longer cooking time.And, a big plus for me, this soup is great for the South Beach Diet. Just skip the potatoes.Mexican Black Bean Soup by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette1/3 cup olive oil1 large yellow onion, chopped4 garlic cloves, minced1 jalapeno pepper, chopped finely2 tomatoes, peeled & chopped [ I used 1 large can diced tomatoes with juice]2 - 15 oz cans black beans [30 oz. dry beans that have been soaked 24 hours]2 potatoes, peeled & diced [I skipped the potatoes this time]7 cups water [or stock]1 bouillon cube [omit if using stock]1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped [cilantro from a tube]1 tablespoon cumin2 tablespoons lime juice [to taste; I use plenty more]salt & pepper to tastesour cream as garnish with freshly chopped cilantro all around1. Pour the olive oil into a good-sized soup pot and saute the onion for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno pepper and tomatoes, and continue sauteing for another 2 minutes over medium heat, until it turns into a regular sauce. Stir often.2. Add the beans from their cans with their juice, potatoes, water and bouillon. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to low-medium. Cook slowly, covered, for about 20 minutes. [I cook it uncovered because I like it thicker than this recipe makes. Cover it when it is at the desired consistency. I cook it much longer than 20 minutes, depending on on the beans.]3. Add the cilantro, cumin, lime juice, salt & pepper. Stir well and continue cooking for another 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and let the soup rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Serve hot and garnish each serving with a teaspoon of sour cream in the center and freshly chopped cilantro around the sour cream.[...]