Apricot Jam

Annnnd we’re back! It’s been a very busy week; the kind of week that means blog activities may have to take a backseat. Now I’ve been home for a couple days, slept a couple of 10-hour nights complete with afternoon naps to tack on a little extra, and I’m approaching productivity mode again. Thank goodness it’s a long weekend!

I hope everyone out there is having a fun holiday weekend. I think we have some new neighbors this year… close neighbors who enjoy shooting off some of the bigger fireworks, the kind that are probably not legal. It was a loud night, but we could see some pretty nice shows from our upstairs windows.

If you follow me on Instagram or have been reading this blog this summer, you’ll know how obsessed I am with fresh apricots. I can’t get over them; they came much earlier than peaches, and they’re so tart and tiny and TEMPTING. They are great in a dessert or in a salad with burrata.

Apricot Jam | PDXfoodlove

That’s why last weekend, I had to pick up a few more pounds of apricots, even though I wouldn’t be in town the following week. I don’t know how long these will be in season and I can’t stand the thought of them being gone, so I wanted to preserve some. I’m envisioning myself popping one open in January… it’s going to be so lovely to have a little bit of summer when it’s rainy out.

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Baked Eggs with Asparagus & Goat Cheese

What a day. I am emotionally exhausted after the US World Cup game. I’m sure it’s my emotions and not the beer that totally drained me. I think. It’s 9:45 and I am fighting to stay awake and finish up this blog post.

Once upon a time I went to bed between 1 and 2 on the regular. It’s crazy to think about that now. I can’t give up sleep like that anymore! And definitely not if I like being a productive citizen who arrives at work on time.

We had a busy and very fun weekend – that might also have something to do with the fact that we’re both dead tired tonight. We saw lots of friends and even made it to yoga class on Sunday. One of these days I swear I will get some weeds pulled in the back yard. But right now we have too much fun stuff going on.

If we hadn’t had such a good breakfast, in fact, I think we’d be in a lot worse shape. Dave had the idea to do a baked egg dish with some asparagus I picked up at the farmers market.

Baked Eggs with Asparagus and Goat Cheese

Even though the baked eggs made this seem totally decadent, it’s actually pretty low-calorie! Not to mention delicious. I think we’ll definitely be doing more seasonal veggie + baked egg combos in the future. This was too good not to repeat.

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The Cocktail Diaries: Lavender Bees Knees

Happy Sunday eve, everyone. We are watching Game of Thrones and I feel an addiction coming on.

Dave and I had a very busy and fun weekend. We had our first u-pick trip of the season. We went up to Sauvie Island and picked blueberries, strawberries and two kinds of raspberries. The strawberries have already become jam, because they were quite ripe. Some of the blueberries became pancakes and part of pancake syrup. And much more to come!

We ended the day tonight with this simple and elegant cocktail, the Bees Knees. In its original recipe, it’s just three ingredients: honey, gin and lemon juice. I added some lavender to give it a fun twist.

Cocktail Diaries: The Bees Knees | PDXfoodlove

Something that’s especially nice about such simple cocktails is how they allow the gin to shine. That’s especially true of this one.

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Easiest Strawberry “Caprese” Bruschetta

Yes, caprese gets quotation marks. It’s not exactly a caprese, but I just made a little substitution.

How was everyone’s weekend? We didn’t have a lot of things on our schedule, so we just had a glorious, relaxing couple of days. We got our butts absolutely kicked in yoga. We watched the Timbers win big in Salt Lake with some delectable beers and burgers at the Old Gold, one of our favorite bars in PDX. We hit up the farmers market and I read almost all of Gone Girl. There’s just about 90 pages left. Dave and I also made new sewing projects. He made a chambray shirt and I made a super cute skirt that I can’t wait to bust out.

Oh! And I forgot one important and exciting thing: I biked to work every day last week! It was the first time that I was five for five in pretty much forever – probably since I lived in Longmont, CO and was about 1 mile from work. Well now, I live about 5 miles from work. It takes me about 18 minutes to ride in and about 30 minutes to ride home. Why the big discrepancy? Two words: sea level. Work is about four blocks from a river. Home isn’t a whole lot higher, but almost everything is higher than sea level and the meager elevation change is enough to make the entire ride home an uphill trip. I am sure that in a couple of months I will feel great about nailing that uphill ride home every day, but by the time Friday came around last week, my quads felt like cement blocks. I was glad to rest over the weekend, and today (Monday) I felt like all of the hills were a teensy bit easier. But… we’ll see how I feel at the end of the week.

Strawberry Caprese Bruschetta | PDXfoodlove

Friday night after we both biked home, Dave and I walked over to New Seasons to grab groceries and made an amazing date night dinner. Our appetizer featured some of the local Hood strawberries we picked up, and it couldn’t be easier.

The key to making simple dishes really shine is using the very best ingredients you can find (which doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive). Fresh, local fruit. Fresh mozzarella. Good bread and very, very good oil and balsamic vinegar.

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Grilled Apricot and Burrata Salad

I love the Farmers Market so much. Today I went in thinking it was probably too early for anything but strawberries. Boy was I wrong. I came home with half a flat of strawberries, six apricots and a pound of cherries (among other things). But!! Cherries! It’s only the beginning of June. It kind of feels like I won the fruit lottery. Which totally exists, I’m sure of it.

Grilled Apricot & Burrata Salad | PDXfoodlove

And while I’m excited for the other fruits, I was so excited to find apricots. I’d been stalking the cheese counter at New Seasons for a couple of weeks and whenever I go in, they seem to be out of burrata (of all the things to be out of). We finally found some on Friday, and when we saw apricots for sale this morning at the market, I knew they would make a perfect match.

Grilled Apricot & Burrata Salad | PDXfoodlove

And then this salad happened. It’s sweet from a little honey drizzle, tart from the fruit, perfectly salted, and let’s not forget a savory warmth from a drizzle of good oil. If you choose to not put bread on the side, it’s gluten free. We ate it scooping pieces of warm, falling-apart apricot onto the toasty grilled bread with a bit of cheese and eating it like a bruschetta. My mouth is watering writing about it even though we ate it like, 3 hours ago.

Needless to say, we’ll be making it again soon.

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Zucchini and Leek Pasta

Hello fine blog readers! Have you entered my Bob’s Red Mill giveaway yet? It’s ending today! Hop to it!

Dave and I are coming off one of the busiest weekends in memory. Which is saying something, considering that we both prefer to be busy and spend a lot of time doing projects. So here’s the rundown: On Sunday we went to yoga, we ran some errands, walked to the library and did some cooking. We headed downtown to Imperial for a lovely date night dinner. Not so crazy, right?

Well, on Sunday it was the opening day of the Montavilla Farmers Market (I’m on the board). We had an excellent opening day and the crowds and vendor stalls were slammed. Afterward Dave and I went through the semi-crazy process of renting a Home Depot pickup and driving it into the Pearl to pick up our new settee from West Elm, then returning it and putting the couch together. AND Dave rebuilt the picnic table in the backyard. This was all before 6:30ish, when we had the board of the farmers market over for a backyard BBQ. After the crazy amount of activity that led up to it, the weather was perfect, the beer and meats were delicious and the party was a lot of fun. Whew! Needless to say I did not get a blog post done that evening. We watched Cosmos and then almost fell asleep on our beautiful new couch.

Today though, after some much needed rest, I biked in to work again for the first time in a week. I am almost done with my gross hacking cough/cold. And when we got home, Dave and I had the nicest evening walk to the store to get ready for the week. We used some zucchini from the farmers market to make this light and lovely pasta recipe from the current issue of Bon Appetit (you can’t miss it: there’s a gorgeous cherry pie on the cover).

Zucchini and Leek Pasta from Bon Appetit | PDXfoodlove

Not a lot of pastas are called “light,” but I mean it with this one. Having the sauce just be a little cheese and pasta water, and the mix-ins be thinly shredded made this a really nice texture and the large amounts of red pepper flakes helped it pack a punch. I’m so glad we tried it! The only thing we did differently was finish it with our best olive oil.

Here’s what you need:
1/2 lb. short pasta
olive oil
1 large leek, sliced into thin rounds (white and light green parts only)
3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups grated raw zucchini
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (NO green can!)

Zucchini and Leek Pasta from Bon Appetit | PDXfoodlove

Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package directions. Save 3/4 cup of the pasta water, then drain the rest.

In a large skillet, heat about 1 tbsp. olive oil and then add the leek and red pepper flakes, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the grated zucchini next, tossing and cooking for another 5 minutes.

Zucchini and Leek Pasta from Bon Appetit | PDXfoodlove

Toss in the pasta and the reserved pasta water, simmering until the sauce coats the pasta. This will take 1-2 minutes. Finally, toss in the Parmesan and serve. Finish with a drizzle of your most robust olive oil.

From the June 2014 issue of Bon Appetit. Go buy it, it’s a great issue with way more excellent recipes.

The Cocktail Diaires: Sparkling Bourbon Lemonade with Mint

It is such an epically gorgeous Sunday. It’s about 70 or 75. The sun is out. The clouds are gone. If you sit near the window like I have been, it is warm and pretty soon you’ll be finding yourself wanting a nap. I had my nap, and honestly I’m having trouble doing anything else besides finishing reading Divergent (I got it yesterday… I’m nearly done. Hooray for teenage science fiction :) ) and sipping on my bourbon lemonade friend here.

Sparkling Bourbon Lemonade | PDXfoodlove

I mean, really – we even already have dinner basically done. A pork shoulder roast has been in the oven since noon and the house smells AMAZING and I am pretty much starving as I take it in. We worked hard today: a certain large, new piece of furniture is arriving on Wednesday (I’ll show you, don’t worry). We rearranged a significant chunk of the first floor to make a space for it. Plus I took the opportunity to majorly reorganize and clean up my craft/photo prop/cookbook area, aka a good-sized bookshelf that lives in our guest room. I feel like having done all of these things, our house is better than it was when we started the weekend. It is a great feeling. And I haven’t even cleaned the bathrooms yet.

Sparkling Bourbon Lemonade | PDXfoodlove

Anyway, back to this cocktail: I made it because it felt like summer. It was perfect. I’ve had a million clear liquor + lemonade combinations in the past and they are all great, but in this case, I think it’s better with bourbon. (You can put that on my tombstone).

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Brown Butter Roasted Radishes

You guys. Summer feels so close.

In Portland, spring doesn’t matter a ton because it still rains all the time, it’s just warmer than it was in the winter. I have personally been caught in showers three times in the past three days. Whoever wrote that song about getting caught in the rain hasn’t had it happen to them more than once, if ever. I am so. over. it.

Thankfully the rain took a break and I got to spend part of this evening hanging out in my garden, which frequent readers of this blog know is one of my favorite places in the world. Right now the greens are just about ready to start cutting. Everything else is pretty tiny. There are about a million strawberry blossoms, but alas, no fruit yet. Even though it’s just getting started, my garden still restores my soul in a way that few locations can.

Brown Butter Roasted Radishes | PDXfoodlove

I didn’t grow these radishes, but I do have itty bitty radishes growing in my garden right now. When they come out, I’ll be making this recipe again with them.

I didn’t even plan to do this recipe for tonight, but these brown butter roasted radishes were so perfect and beautiful in my garden, they immediately jumped to the top of my editorial calendar (which does not exist).

Radishes mellow out significantly when you roast them. Especially this longer variety. A little brown butter and a little lemon make them a fresh spring treat.

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Open-Face Prosciutto and Pepper Sandwich

90 degrees! I can’t believe it. We drove out to wine country for a work meeting (no wine, this time, alas) and I think basically everyone in Portland was playing hooky and going home early, because traffic was absolute crap, even at 4 p.m.

When I got home, I made sure the garden was hydrated and made sure that I was hydrated with a lovely cocktail. Dave and I went to New Seasons for some food and basically decided that we would not be cooking in the heat. We did use the toaster oven, though.

Open Face Proscuitto Pepper Sandwich | PDXfoodlove

Sometime on the walk over, we decided that a “grown up” ham and cheese was in order. We ended up with this toasty open-faced prosciutto and pepper sandwich. Lately we’ve both been out and about so much, and on the nights we’ve been home we’ve been painting. It was really important to me to just be home today and enjoy being together. Our living room is almost completely back in order, and this dinner was the perfect and simple end to a really nice evening.

PS, do you like the cutting board in the photo? Because Dave MADE it. I can’t get over how beautiful it is. It is easily one of the most attractive dishes in our kitchen. You’ll be seeing a lot more of it in photos to come.

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The Cocktail Diaries: My Favorite Cocktail, the Sazerac

I may have had a favorite cocktail in the past (Manhattan? Or I do love a caipirinha…) It’s hard to choose, but since I’ve become a regular whiskey drinker, I am obsessed with the sazerac.

This drink is more famously from a specific place than most cocktails. It’s a New Orleans cocktail and NOLA seems to have the reputation for making the best sazeracs still. I haven’t been there yet, but when I go, I’ll do my best to find out if it’s true. It will probably require extensive research.

Cocktail Diaries: The Sazerac | PDXfoodlove
An absinthe rinse is one of two defining features of this cocktail. You can also use Pernod or Herbsaint for the rincse. I held off on this cocktail for a long time because I was turned off by the price of absinthe. Pernod and Herbsaint are cheaper, but I found a less expensive absinthe and ended up going with that one. I am so far from being an absinthe expert: the only reason I bought it was so I could make this cocktail. I’m sure I”ll figure out some other ways to use it in the future.

The other non-negotiable is the Peychaud’s bitters, which were created in New Orleans. To me, on its own, Peychaud’s smells a little more medicinal than say, an Angostura bitters. But something about the cherry-ish flavor of the bitters combines with the absinthe to make an absolutely addicting aroma. It’s hard to explain. Cherry, lemon, whiskey and anise. Somehow it works.

This cocktail is one of the best examples of the perfect portrait the right combination of very nuanced ingredients can become. I would not drink either these bitters or the absinthe on its own (obviously the whiskey is a different story). But all together (and especially with the lemon) they make an amazing blend of flavors.

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