Posts Tagged organic

Moroccan Spiced Carrots with Feta and Mint

You know what? Life is good. Life is really good.

As much as I’d like to complain, I really can’t. My cup runneth over. My freelance career is going splendidly. My husband is the best. I have an incredible network of family and friends to lean on. I have the cutest pets on the planet. Oh, and I live in a city full of talented people (and delicious food).

In addition, I recently started a job as the Marketing Director for the Beaverton Farmer’s Market. The job is a part-time and super flexible, which is a perfect compliment to my freelance schedule. It is a huge and thriving market, brimming with artisans, farmers, bakers, and makers of every sort. I love it!

Even though I’ve only been with the market for a couple of months, I can already feel a difference in my cooking and eating habits. Each week, I come home with an incredible array of baked goods, fruits, veggies, snacks, sauces, and more. I can’t help but be inspired by the things I find at the market.

During my first week at the market, I stopped by the DeNoble Farms booth and purchased a couple of rainbow carrots. I’ve eaten a lot local and organic carrots in my day, but there was something particularly special about these carrots. They are vibrant, flavorful, crisp, and sweet. They are light years beyond any carrot you’ll find in a grocery store.

For the most part, I’ve been eating these carrots raw and unadorned, which is totally delicious. However, you really can’t go wrong with these carrots. A few nights ago a made a big roast chicken dinner, and decided to make a side of spicy roasted carrots. I made up this recipe on the spot, and I feel that it’s a winner. The sweetness of the carrots pairs so nicely with the spice and smokiness of the harissa, paprika, and cumin. The addition of salty feta and fragrant mint just add to the depth and flavor of the dish.

All of that to say, I love these carrots and I love this dish. Really, I love my life. I got no complaints and I’m gonna leave it at that.

Moroccan Spiced Carrots with Feat + Mint | Rosemarried

Moroccan Spiced Carrots with Feta and Mint

Ingredients

  • 2 small bunches organic carrots (15-20 small carrots)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash and dry carrots. Remove carrot tops, if any, and reserve for another use. If you carrots are small and thin, you may leave them whole. If they are larger, slice lengthwise in half (or quarters).
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, harissa, spices, lemon juice, and honey. Toss the carrots with the oil and spice mixture and half of the chopped mint, then arrange in an even layer on a lined baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 20+ minutes, or until fork tender. (Roasting time will vary, depending on the size of the carrots). When tender, remove from oven and arrange in a serving dish. Sprinkle feta cheese and remaining mint atop the roasted carrots. Serve warm.

http://rosemarried.com/2014/03/19/moroccan-spiced-carrots-feta-mint/

Pronto Pizza: Bringing Quality to the Suburbs

If you were to ask me about my favorite restaurants in Portland, I could rattle them off quickly and easily. Luce, Bollywood Theater, St. Jack. Du’s, Pok Pok, Boxer Sushi, Bunk, Apizza Scholls, Tanuki, etc. I could go on. We have so much good food in this town. I feel thankful and spoiled.

But, what happens when you drive 15 minutes outside of Portland? Or when you find yourself shopping at the mall or visiting relatives in the ‘burbs? Are you doomed to dine at chain restaurants and sketchy strip mall sandwich shops? (Disclaimer: I do not like chain restaurants. I find the food to be bland, processed, unhealthy, and uninspired. However, this is just my personal opinion and I don’t expect everyone to necessarily feel the same way.)

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably found yourself in the suburbs a few times, asking these same questions. Honestly, it’s a little bit shocking. Portland is brimming with amazing restaurants, but Portland’s outlying neighborhoods have (mostly) abysmal food options. It’s Red Robins and Olive Gardens as far as the eye can see.

Which is why I was so delighted to discover Pronto Pizza – a delicious restaurant with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients – right smack in the middle of a strip mall off 82nd Avenue in Clackamas, Oregon.

Pronto Pizza Menu

My husband and I were invited to dine at Pronto Pizza a few weeks back, and we thoroughly enjoyed our experience. The space is huge, but is decorated in such a way that the place feels intimate and cozy. (Fun fact: the owners bought all the Beaker & Flask furniture when it went out of business.)

The service was great – our waitress was clearly passionate about the food and she gave us great recommendations. We sampled a number of different dishes throughout the evening, including appetizers, salads, pizzas, and even a few items from the recently revamped children’s menu.

Cauliflower Sticks from Pronto Pizza

Baked Cauliflower Sticks

While most of the dishes we tried were tasty, the pizza was the clear standout of the evening. Made with imported Italian pizza flour, the pizza crust is damn near perfect. It’s chewy and charred in all the right places. The toppings are thoughtful and restrained, the sauce is light and flavorful. (It should be said that my husband used to work for Apizza Scholls and is a true pizza geek. Even he was impressed with Pronto’s Pizza.)

Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon from Pronto Pizza

Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon

Other standouts of the evening included the polenta fries, the Brussels sprout salad, and the cauliflower ‘breadsticks’ from the kid’s menu. I wasn’t really a fan of the pasta (too heavy) or the beet salad (over-dressed), but the rest of the food was stellar. I applaud Pronto’s dedication to quality and their use of fresh, local ingredients. And, while I don’t have children of my own, I really appreciate that Pronto’s kids menu is full of creative, fresh, and healthy options such as homemade apple cranberry sauce and breaded and baked cauliflower sticks. (I kid you not, the cauliflower sticks were better than traditional breadsticks.)

The moral of the story? If you find yourself in the ‘burbs of East Portland and you’re wondering where to eat, there is a place that offers much more than your typical strip mall offerings. Pronto Pizza is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise desolate fast food wasteland.

Full disclosure: While our meal at Pronto Pizza was comped, all opinions expressed are my own.

On Meat: Urban Farmer, Sustainability, and Luce’s Pork Ragu.

Last week, I was invited to attend a special dinner at Urban Farmer, along with a few other bloggers. I gladly accepted the invitation, and was thrilled at the prospect of a really great steak dinner.

While the food was nothing short of amazing, it was the educational component of the evening that really stuck with me. I was floored by the purchasing philosophy, the butchery, and the dedication to quality and sustainability. Let me stop right there and rant for a moment: sustainability is a trendy and oft misused term in our society. The word sustainable actually means: “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” And yet, the word is so often used in marketing and and advertising for companies who are far from sustainable, which is why I find it so damn refreshing to come across people who are actually practicing true sustainability.

Which brings me back to Urban Farmer.

Take, for example, Urban Farmer’s whole animal butchery program: when they purchase a whole cow, they make sure to use every single part of the animal. They use the bones to make stock. They use all the trimmings off the steaks (and other cuts) to make ground beef and burgers. Oh, and Chef Matt Christianson uses the beef fat to make his own soap (!!!). (Fun fact: most of the candles on the tables at Urban Farmer are made from beef fat.) And, it should go without saying, that Urban Farmer sources their animals from the best purveyors who practice sustainable farming.

Urban Farmer

Really, the dinner at Urban Farmer just got me thinking about meat. I love meat, I really do, but I wrestle with consuming it. I am constantly shocked and disgusted by what I read about factory farming and its averse effects on humans and animals. Every day we are bombarded with news about our broken food system: e.coli outbreaks, antibiotics, Mad Cow disease, horse meat scandals, and the fact that Taco Bell’s “meat” isn’t really meat at all. It’s all very horrifying and unappetizing. But I truly believe that this is one issue where I can make a difference. By purchasing meat from farmers and producers who raise animals with care and respect, I am voting with my dollars. Sustainable farming isn’t just good for the animal, it is good for the environment and for public health.

As you may have noticed, I don’t cook a lot of meat. Most of my recipes are vegetarian, with the occasional meaty offering. Frankly, it’s because I can’t afford to cook a lot of meat. Good meat is expensive, because it costs a lot of money to raise animals on real food in real pastures. But good meat is worth the price.

That being said, it’s not all bad news. There are ways to purchase sustainable meat without breaking the bank. I highly recommend joining a food buying club (I am a proud member the Montavilla Food Buying Club) or buying a whole animal from a local farm or butcher. If you can’t afford a whole animal, see if you can split one with friends (or other interested buyers). I just bought 1/8 of a pig from Proletariat Meat and it was shockingly affordable. (The funny thing is, I now have a freezer full of pork and Orthodox Lent starts next week. The pork will have to wait until after Easter, I suppose!)

I’ll close out my meaty rant with a link to a recipe for Luce’s Pork and Beef Ragu. My husband made it for me for dinner this week, and it was phenomenal. I’m a lucky lady.

Luce's Pork Ragu

Shepherd’s Pie with Potato, Parsnip, and Goat Cheese Mash

There is nothing fancy about Shepherd’s Pie. It isn’t pretty or exciting. In fact, it’s really quite unbecoming.

But darn it all, it tastes good. Shepherd’s Pie is the definition of good grub. (It is also the definition of 1950’s ‘casserole cuisine’.)

I made this Shepherd’s Pie the other night, in order to satisfy a a sudden and intense craving for wintery comfort food. It’s been quite chilly in Portland lately, and all I want to do is make soups, stews, and braises. Tis the season, I suppose. But, this particular craving for wintery comfort food was very specific. I really wanted to eat Shepherd’s Pie. To be honest, I can’t recall the last time I had a Shepherd’s Pie. I don’t think I’ve ever actually cooked one!

So I made a Shepherd’s Pie, and it was everything I hoped it would it. It was the epitome of wintery comfort food. Nich and I devoured it quickly and happily (he went back for thirds!).

The only problem with devouring it quickly? I only managed to snap one crappy iPhone photo of my rendition of Shepherd’s pie. Oh well. (Truth be told, even with a proper camera and lighting…it would still look ugly. That’s the thing about Shepherd’s pie. It’s just not a pretty dish.)

Since I don’t have a pretty photo to show for it, you’ll just have to trust me that this dish is worth making. So, if you feel yourself craving wintery comfort food, I recommend that you make this.

It’ll make you happy.

Shepherd’s Pie with Potato, Parsnip, and Goat Cheese Mash

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (organic grass-fed) ground beef
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 of a fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 small red potatoes
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Optional ingredient: Duck fat. I usually cook with organic, grass-fed beef which is very lean. I wanted to add a little bit of fat into the mix (as fat is delicious!) so I drizzled a teaspoon of duck fat into the beef. I understand that most of you don’t just have a pint of duck fat sitting in your fridge, hence why I’m including this as an optional step. I will say, however, that the duck fat was really quite delicious.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 305 degrees F.
  2. Chop potatoes and parsnips into 1″ cubes. (I like to leave the skins on the potatoes and peel the parsnips). Place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow the potatoes & parsnips to simmer until fork tender (15-20 minutes). Once cooked, drain off the water. Mash the potatoes and parsnips with the goat cheese, milk, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the stove in a large non-stick skillet. Cook the onions and garlic over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Next, add in the fennel, celery, and carrots. Cook for 5-10 minutes, or until the veggies are lightly browned and tender. Remove the veggies to a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Season the ground beef with salt, pepper, red chili flakes, and dried thyme. Return the skillet to the stove and cook the ground beef over medium heat, until browned (5-10 minutes). Once the beef is cooked, stir in the tomato paste and the cooked vegetables. Stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes. (If using duck fat, pour over the mixture now.)
  5. Pour the mixture into a square (8×8) baking pan (or individual ramekins). Spread an even layer of the mashed potato mixture atop the beef. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until potato crust is just beginning to brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

http://rosemarried.com/2012/12/07/shepherds-pie-with-potato-parsnip-mash/

Butternut Squash Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Hi everyone! I’m re-posting this recipe for two reasons:

1. This is one of two recipes I am choosing to feature on the “Ultimate Oregon Thanksgiving” blogger extravaganza on KPAM’s “Simple Kitchen with Missy Maki” on Sunday morning. Since I am talking about this wonderful recipe on the radio (!), I thought it would be nice to have a fresh post.

2. This recipe is so good that it needed to be posted again. If you’d like to make something a little different than the classic pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year, I highly suggest this recipe. It’s lovely.

So, then, here is the original text and recipe. Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

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Happy Swap-iversary!

I can’t believe it has been a whole year since our first recipe swap.

One year ago, Christianna from Burwell General Store asked me if I’d be interested in “swapping recipes”. She’d picked up an old cookbook – “All Day Singin and Dinner on the Ground” – at a swap meet and wanted to know if I’d be interested in re-creating some of the old recipes. I’m a sucker for all things vintage and kitschy, so naturally I loved the idea.

For the very first swap, it was just the two of us. Christianna suggested that we start with a recipe for Autumn Persimmon Pudding. Christianna made a Persimmon Creme Brulee with Blackberries, while I went with a Persimmon Panna Cotta with Spiced Hazelnuts.

Fast forward one year: the recipe swap group has grown to include 30+ foodies, writers, cooks and bloggers from all over the world. Every month we re-invent a new recipe from the cook book, and my fellow swappers never cease to amaze me with their creativity. There are some really amazing people in this group, ranging from the tried and true members (Boulder Locavore, Chef Dennis, Sabrina at the Tomato Tart) to some new(er) members (Barb from Creative Culinary, The Dusty Baker, Pola from Italian Midwest, and SO many more!)…

So then, to celebrate a whole year of swapping recipes Christianna thought it would be fitting if we all made cake. She selected a simple (and lovely) recipe from the vintage cookbook called Maple Syrup Cake.

The moment I saw the recipe for Maple Syrup Cake, I knew what I was going to make. I’m not kidding. I saw the recipe and I thought, “I want to make a butternut squash cake with maple frosting.” I’ve never made – let alone eaten – a butternut squash cake. I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to do such a thing, but let’s blame it on the changing of the seasons. It got cold outside and now I want to eat squash all the time, even in cake. It happens.

As I’ve said previously, I’m not much of a baker. I don’t even own proper cake pans. But my sister Danielle — the baker in the family — happens to own cake pans and so I invited myself over for a day of sisterly cake-baking. It was a great excuse to excuse to spend an afternoon with my sister and my crazy little niece, Ramona. We listened to the Michael Buble Christmas Album (her choice, not mine!) and baked a squash cake. It felt like everything November should be: spending time with family, baking, and listening to cheesy holiday music.

Thanks to my sister and her mad cake skills, the cake turned out remarkably well. It was moist, without being overly dense. It was spicy, sweet, and honestly tasted like carrot cake (without the carrots or the nuts). The frosting was sweet, but not cloying. I may have eaten a piece (or two) for breakfast one day.

So, then, here’s to a year of swapping recipes with an amazing group of foodies from around the world! I’m grateful to be part of such a great group of people, and look forward to the next year of swapping. Please do stop by Burwell General Store’s Recipe Swap page to learn more about recipe swap (and to see what everyone else created for this month’s swap!).

BUTTERNUT SQUASH LAYER CAKE WITH MAPLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Adapted from Sand Creek Farm

Cake ingredients:
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup dark brown (or muscovado) sugar
2 eggs
1 cup cooked, pureed butternut squash (you can roast, boil, or steam the squash)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups cake flour*
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup whole milk

*If you don’t have cake flour, see Joy the Baker’s instructions on how to make your own, using all purpose flour and corn starch!

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese**, room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup maple syrup

**The original recipe calls for 3 packages of cream cheese, but I had a LOT of frosting left over. I think you could get by with 2 packages. Depends on how much frosting you like on your cake!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans and set aside. (You may want to line with parchment as I found the cakes stuck a bit to the pans.)

Using a stand mixer (or mixing bowl & spoon), cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each is added. Mix in squash, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add in half of the flour mixture to the squash mixture, and stir. Add half of the milk. Add the rest of the flour mixture and stir, and then add the rest of the milk. Mix until combined.

Pour batter into the prepared 9″ round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until a cake tester comes out clean). Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans. After the cakes have been removed from the pan, allow to cool on a wire rack.

While the cakes cool, make the frosting. In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter. Mix in vanilla extract, maple syrup, cinnamon and powdered sugar until combined.

Once the cake layers are cool, place one layer on a cake stand (or serving plate) and spread a layer of frosting over the top. Place the second layer directly on top. Spread a thin ‘crumb coat’ of frosting over the entire outer surface of the two layers. Once the crumb coat has been applied, frost more generously with whatever frosting design you desire. (Note: I added a ring of hazelnuts to the top of the cake as I thought it looked pretty and figured it would be delicious. It was.)