The Dinandier’s Chick peas, Chorizo and Cavolo Nero

 

French copper pots cook the best food. Every good kitchen needs one. Not only elegant and beautiful, they hold a steady heat and build a dish’s depth and character.  So I went to France to collect one.

St. Amand De Coly is a quaint, picture perfect, tiny village in the upper Dordogne region of France. Home of the humble, non-English speaking Dinandier, Alain Lagorsse. He is an “Artisan of Art,” or  a brazier who makes functional and decorative objects out of copper and tin. My guy. I reseached him before we left, and didn’t really expect to make it all happen. I wasn’t really going just for the copper pot.

Because it was within an hour’s drive North of Sarlat, and much more fun to meet the atisan in person instead of buying a piece from the reputably arrogant Parisian sellers of stellar chef ware, Dehillerin, we were determined to go.  We started our day wandering the narrow, cobbled streets of Sarlat, the swashbuckling town of the almost 1000 year old Saturday Market. Do you need more of a reason to go? The food was outstanding-everything you could ever want in season, and then all the cheeses, olives, meats, the famed foie gras…and so it goes in Sarlat. But that’s the background story. I was talking about Alain, the Dinandier. I digress, but worth so much more conversation.. Continue reading The Dinandier’s Chick peas, Chorizo and Cavolo Nero

Best Banana Bread

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I’ve got this ingredient splattered recipe book I’ve been using for the past 25 years. Its actually the first of three I’ve filled. One of those journals covered in cloth with blank pages.  One stroll through it and it is very obvious which recipes have been most loved. Some of them, the more complicated (and therefore not memorized), are so badly smeared and roughed up that it is only through constant use and repetition that I can figure out the details. These books have been the hallmark of the kitchen, the backbone, if you will. Thus, I’ve been motivated to pull out my favorite core recipes and maintain an electronic library, perhaps more secure, and for all to share. Continue reading Best Banana Bread

Pork Tacos

tacos-001-1024x680Pork tacos are fun food. They are a casual meal for a crowd, easy to put together, and sure to make everyone feel good. There are countless interpretations of tacos, from the tortilla to the fillings. They have no season, therefore can be made with anything available that works for you. I’ve been making this pork recipe for dozens of years now, and have forgotten where it originated from. Regardless, like most recipes, it is meant to be inspirational by nature, but interpreted by the cook with his own style. I have managed to hit upon the best combination of tortilla, filling and garnishes that work for me. Try some variations that add crunch, softness, heat or coolness that work together for you. Continue reading Pork Tacos

Oh, Oh Orange cake!

 

fresh orange cake recipe
fresh orange cake

This is citrus season. No better time to revive the senses out from under the blankets with a fresh orange cake. It always comes as a surprise to me that in the dead of winter here in the Northwest (25 degrees and snow on the ground as I write this), tangerines, oranges, grapefruits and lemons are ripe in the lower half of the country. What a great sight to see at the market-the warm, sunny colors and flavors we associate with summer. From Meyer lemons to blood oranges, there are plenty of choices and the sweet, tart flavors are so refreshing after living on the richer and heavier comfort foods of winter (ok, so I ran downstairs and made myself a cup of chocolate, you know the recipe, with lots of bittersweet chocolate?). Not only are citrus fruits loaded with vitamin C, but also have more potassium than bananas and are rich in phyto chemicals–the ones that help to fight cancer. (Come to think of it, so does chocolate.)

Continue reading Oh, Oh Orange cake!

LTV Mac n’ Cheese

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LTV???

As in… “lick the vessel” CLEAN. Seriously.

Could mac and cheese be that good??? This is the most American of comfort foods. It’s not something I ever order when dining out, nor want to admit I’m even interesting in trying to master.  But, this is a dish for that cozy occasion when just nothing else will do.  Even our founding father, Thomas Jefferson, decided it was worthy of being served in the White House. Young or old, most of us wouldn’t turn down a perfect spoonful. Continue reading LTV Mac n’ Cheese

Liquid gold:drinking Chocolate

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Need I say more?

Liquid gold. Nirvana in a cup. A heavenly gift.

Drinking chocolate is all the rage. It’s front page news. We are not reading about hot chocolate. We are guided by lists of what, where, how, and when we can get a cup of drinking chocolate. Does the movie Chocolat come to mind? Vianne (Juliette Binoche) creates a sensational cup of magic for her customers that seems to heal. Her fellow Parisians have been ordering up drinking chocolate at Angelina’s, Cafe de Flore and Les Deux Magots for over a century. And now Portland has finally caught on to serving up this special brew. Continue reading Liquid gold:drinking Chocolate

Sunday morning waffles

yeast_waffles-001Ahhh…Sunday morning. It all starts with the recognition that it is your day. You roll out of bed when you’re ready, no alarm clock to register. Maybe you’ll just lie there a while, let your mind drift over all the possibilities that lie ahead. What luxury. No need to rush. The day belongs to you. Ahhh, maybe just a few more minutes to lie here and …..but wait, what’s that rumble? My body is talking, my stomach is suggesting…oh yes, I’ve got Sunday morning waffles waiting for me downstairs in the kitchen!!! I was so smart and well prepared last night to ensure the glory of this moment! You swing your legs out of bed and voila! Let the morning begin. Continue reading Sunday morning waffles

A Pie with a Past

MY GIRLFRIEND, Miss Mavis Brown, arrived on Thanksgiving day last year with her venerable chocolate pie. She had made it once before and was overwhelmed by how incredibly good it was, but noted that it had a tendency to be a bit “sloppy.” Seeing the look of concern on my face, she quickly followed with… “but I’ll bet it was because I hadn’t let it chill overnight first.”  The pie in her hands was thoughtfully chilled overnight, and just needed it’s topping and chocolate shavings. As the evening rolled by, I found myself at the table in conversation while the desserts were being enjoyed in the kitchen. I noticed that the kitchen was now more crowded than the table. I missed the pie’s debut, making it to the kitchen just in time to see the remnants. What was left was a loose mass of chocolate goo. And nobody seemed to care. I learned much from that pie. First-guests will usually eat anything made from chocolate. Second- it was so tasty, it didn’t matter what it looked like. Third, always read through a recipe before assuming it will work.  Continue reading A Pie with a Past

Crazy for coconut!!

IS IT ME, or do you too conjure up goofy images when you think of coconuts? Gilligan’s Island? Coconut shell bikini tops? Tropical drinks with straws on the half shell? Coconuts falling from a tree and bouncing off Curly’s head from a Three Stooges skit? Tropical=casual=fun. Although the coconut has a laid back attitude-who is going to take it seriously when you need a mallet and lots of determination just to get at it’s exotic, sweet flesh?!- it does have some amazing nutritional and beneficial properties. It’s value is overlooked in our newly marketed dietary guidelines, but you may want to think twice before assuming it’s not healthy. I poked around a bit just to get reacquainted with what I had learned as a young consumer growing up in Hawaii. Continue reading Crazy for coconut!!