And Now for Something Completely Different

If we’re being honest, I am a homebody. I like having a home base, a place I can return to that is comfortable, a little oasis, a space that is mine. I like to know where my belongings are, to sleep in my own bed, to light candles in the evenings, to cook dinner. When I don’t have that I feel… off. I feel like my footing is uncertain and that, even if I know where I’m sleeping that night and even if I have  a room that is “mine,” it’s might not last.

Seattle Skyline | Travel | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Jonah and I moved out of our house a month ago, and we are now floating around until we leave for Thailand in two weeks. What does floating around mean? It means we are “living” in our dear friends’ guest room, stowing boxes in their crawl space. In the past month we have been to NYC, Chicago, Seattle, and McCall, ID. I have had a total of 9 nights in my own bed, and for someone who is a homebody, that’s a challenge.

New York City Skyline | Travel | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I suppose I’m writing this partially to begin the transition of this blog. Over the next seven months or so, I’m not quite sure what this space will become. As I live abroad, I know I’ll want to write. But I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to, or about what. I assume I’ll want to tell you about the food I’m eating, the adventures I’m going on. But it also may become more of a journal than it has been in the past, since I know that this trip is going to challenge me in a lot of ways and I’ll need an outlet for that. I hope that’s ok with you.

Chicago Skyline | Travel | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

So, the itinerary as it currently stands:

On October 4th we fly from Seattle to Bangkok, where we’ll spend three days getting our feet under us again before heading to Ko Lanta, an island off the southwest coast of Thailand. We’ll spend about ten days there before heading north to Chiang Mai where we’ll meet friends, rent an apartment, and live our lives for another two months. In mid-December we fly to Germany, where we’ll spend a few days with friends before heading to Stuttgart to be with Jonah’s extended family for Christmas, and then around New Year’s we’ll head to Portugal. The plan is for Portugal to be our home base for about four months, but we’ll travel from there, hopefully to visit friends in London, the Netherlands, and Morocco. I’m also crossing my fingers for a stop in Iceland on our way back to the U.S.

McCall View | Travel | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

It sounds like a lot – a lot of places, a lot of time. But truthfully, I know it will fly by. Or at least that’s what everyone is telling me. Let the countdown to departure begin: 2 weeks.

Weekend Finds 6:30:16 Summer Eats

Y’all! It’s been a minute since I’ve written! But don’t you fret, I’ve still been cooking up a storm and eating all the good food. I promise. But there’s a lot of other stuff that’s been going on too!

Cannon Beach | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Walking down the beach with Jonah and my sisters
  1. I’m moving! Where? Good question. In October, Jonah and I will be taking advantage of our ability to work remotely. First we’re heading to Thailand for a couple of months, then we’ll be in Germany for Christmas with Jonah’s extended family, and then we’ll be in Portugal, where we’ll hopefully stay for about 4 or 5 months, and traveling from there to visit friends in London, the Netherlands, and Morocco. Exciting? Of course! Terrifying? You bet!
  2. It’s summer, and summer in the PNW means spending all the time outside and on the beautiful Oregon coast. Last weekend was spent at our friend’s beloved beach house, and the week before that was spent at Cannon Beach at a mini family reunion. Which brings me to…
  3. We’re engaged! While we were in Cannon Beach Jonah popped the big ol’ question and I said yes (duh). If you have any wedding planning tips or tricks (especially for weddings that take place in Chicago) I’d love to hear them!

Ok, back to the good stuff. I’ve been doing my fair share of eating out these days too. Summers are perfect for happy hours outside, and putting on that cute new sundress to hit up that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. All the incredible flavors and ingredients of summer are out in full force. Here’s what I’ve been eating lately:

Renata

P.D.T cocktail at Renata | Summer Eats |Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
My P.D.T cocktail at Renata

Jonah took me here to celebrate our engagement, and while I only took a picture of my cocktail (it was a phones-free-dinner after that), the meal was fantastic. The highlights were my cocktail (the P.D.T aka Peas Don’t Tell) and the albacore tuna conserva served with tomatoes and peaches.

Hat Yai

Braised Beef Cheek in Curry with Roti at Hat Yai | Summer Eats | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Braised Beef Cheek in Curry with Roti at Hat Yai

You guys, Hat Yai is seriously at the top of my list as far as new openings in Portland go. They serve southern Thai food, and it is perfectly executed and complex and satisfying and just SO DAMN GOOD. Go eat here immediately and get the fried chicken, roti, and curry. You will not be sorry.

Lincoln

Blogger happy hour at Lincoln | Summer Eats | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Blogger happy hour at Lincoln

Chef Jenn Louis hosted a very fun blogger happy hour for at her N Williams restaurant Lincoln, and it did not disappoint. How can you go wrong with a bunch of food-loving ladies, cocktails, and delicious food with influences from cuisines around the world? Highlights included asparagus hummus with labneh and flatbread, grilled dates with marcona almonds and lime, and the fried chicken with white barbecue sauce. This happy hour is fantastic, so make sure you check it out!

Le Pantry

Deviled Eggs with Trout at Le Pantry | Summer Eats | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Deviled Eggs with Trout at Le Pantry

Perhaps the fanciest food cart around, Le Pantry is relatively new to Pod 28 (on SE 28th and Ankeny). The menu is very sweet, and I can’t wait to go back to try more of their dishes. We enjoyed the deviled eggs with trout, and the salad with fried calamari was filled with bright flavors like nectarines, corn, and some crispy potatoes.

Lechon

Happy Hour at Lechon | Summer Eats | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Happy Hour at Lechon

Jonah and I stopped into Lechon for happy hour before heading to the Waterfront Blues Fest to see Chubby Carrier. I had been hearing great things from both my roommate and blogger friends, plus it’s just across the street from the waterfront, so it worked out perfectly. The prices were great (as were the cocktails) and we seriously enjoyed a small salad, the ceviche, and clams with chorizo.

Where have you been eating lately? Any place I have to check out before hitting the road in October? Let me know! I hope you’re enjoying these beautiful PNW summer days!

24 Hour Pickled Green Beans

Some time ago, maybe last fall, my older sister introduced me to Mama Lil’s pickled green beans. I have a love for good pickles, especially ones that are still crispy and super tart, and these green beans were just that. They don’t carry them at my grocery store, so when Jonah and I spotted them at Boda’s Kitchen in Hood River, we bought a jar, and finished them within the week.

24 Hour Pickled Green Beans | Serious Crust

These green beans are one of those things that you eat and figure, “Ok, I can make these.” So the research began, and after a couple of batches I can confidently say that these are really REALLY good. Everyone I’ve fed them to has found themselves reach back into the jar for more. They are crunchy, tangy, and perfectly spicy. And they take about 20 minutes to make. Who doesn’t have 20 minutes?

24 Hour Pickled Green Beans

3-4 tsp red chili flakes
6-8 large cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered
1.5 lbs green beans, trimmed and rinsed
3 cups white vinegar
3 cups water
3 Tbsp salt

In the bottom of each of 3 or 4 16-oz wide mouth jars, sprinkle a teaspoon of chili flakes and 2 quartered cloves of garlic. On top of the chili flakes and garlic, pack as many green beans as you can fit vertically.

In a large saucepan combine the white vinegar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour over the green beans. You want to completely cover the beans, so you’ll need to fill the jars right to the edge.

Put the lids loosely on the jars and leave them on the counter to cool down. Once the jars are cool enough to handle, screw the lids on all the way and put them in the fridge to store overnight. They’re ready to eat in 24 hours and will keep for a month in the fridge!

Weekend Finds 7:1:16: 4th of July Edition

Let’s be honest. The 4th of July has become an occasion for day drinking, barbecues, water balloons, and fireworks. But I’m not complaining. For the past few years we have spent the day in our friends Dylan and Caitlyn’s back yard, lounging, snacking, drinking good Portland brews, and eventually having a summery BBQ feast. And Monday will be no different. Here are the recipes I’m looking to cook this 4th of July.

Green Rice Salad with Nectarines

Green Rice Salad with Nectarines from Not Without Salt

This salad has been a summer gathering go-to for years now, and it never fails. People always love it, it’s summery and colorful with a little bit of spice and plenty of bold flavors.

Tomato-Peach Salad with Tofu Cream

Tomato-Peach Salad with Tofu Cream

Don’t let the tofu cream weird you out and keep you from making this refreshing salad. I promise, it’s delicious.

Barbecue Chicken (Rub and Sauce)

Smitten Kitchen's Barbecue Chicken

If my memory doesn’t fail me – and it’s been a year so it might – Dylan and Caitlyn make this amazing dry rubbed chicken every year, throw it on the grill, and coat it in this homemade barbecue sauce. It is always the hit of the party, no matter how much I up my game.

Strawberry Pistachio Crumble Pie

Strawberry Pistachio Crumble Pie from Bon Appetit

I haven’t made this pie (YET!) but it has been haunting my dreams. The layer of cream cheese at the bottom? The mountain of strawberries? The crumble of pistachio and poppy seeds and cardamom? I mean, come on.

Zero Proof Beverages

The thing about spending all day in the sun eating and drinking is you have to be smart. It’s always good to have a NA drink option around, and I’m having trouble deciding which of these two I should make; saffron and cardamom lemonade or tea thyme soda.

Ottolenghi’s Basic Hummus

Ottolenghi and Tamimi's Hummus

This is my extremely reliable hummus recipe that I starting making regularly after returning from Israel last summer. With a few tweaks, it is rich and healthy and makes a perfect all day snack when paired with pita, carrots, bell peppers, and whatever other crunchy vegetables you like. (What tweaks, you ask? I do 1 cup tahini, 6T lemon juice, 6 cloves of garlic, and 4T ice water.)

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

My sister recently made me aware that my strawberry rhubarb pie recipe – the one that really inspired me to start this blog in the first place – wasn’t on this website. How could that be?! The time is right to tell you the story behind it, seeing as this weekend is Father’s Day and it’s rhubarb season.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Earlier this spring I got fancy with my strawberry rhubarb pie (light on the strawberries, ergo the light color) and made a lattice.

Growing up, my father was a produce aficionado. He snacked on radishes like they were popcorn, and his perfect dessert was a bowl of the ripest berries. My dad’s love of fresh ingredients got me excited about food at a young age, and cooking became a pillar in our relationship. It still is – every time we talk we brag about dishes we’ve made, the latest cookbooks we’re itching to buy, and restaurants we’ve tried lately.

When I was in high school, we decided to spend a summer on a quest for the perfect strawberry rhubarb pie. We read probably a hundred recipes, and baked a pie a week. For the crust we experimented with vodka and leaf lard. To perfect the filling we adjusted our rhubarb to strawberry ratios and tried different spices like ground ginger and orange zest. We refined our technique for rolling out the dough, and watched through the oven door as juices bubbled through cracks in the crust. After cooling on the counter for hours, the first bite was always exhilarating. When we finally landed on the recipe, it was obvious as soon as we tasted it – the crust was tender and flaky, the filling was a soft rosy pink dotted with strawberry seeds, and there was a perfect balance between sweet and tart.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Runaway rhubarb curl.

Five years later, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. We went through a trying year of chemotherapy and surgery. It was hard to see someone who loves food barely able to eat, much less enjoy eating. I’ll always remember when I was with him while he was getting a blood transfusion, and I went to the vending machine for a snack. I came back with a bag of Wheat Thins. He tried one and said it tasted good, so I gathered up all of my loose change and bought every bag in the vending machine so he could eat them. His recovery took place mostly in the late spring – the beginning of rhubarb season. The day he asked me to make him our strawberry-rhubarb pie, I knew he was back.

These days, I like to think that strawberry-rhubarb pie is my specialty. I’ve found a new dough recipe (the one you see below) that I like even better than the one my dad and I decided on twelve years ago. Making this pie is relaxing, almost therapeutic. Slicing up the fruit, rolling out the dough – all of it is a ritual that I treasure returning to each summer. Not only do I love making this pie, but it’s representative of my relationship with my dad and the things we both value: sharing delicious food with the people we love the most. It will always remind me of him, and the time we spent on the hunt for the perfect pie. Happy Father’s Day, dad. Here’s to many more rhubarb seasons.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Dad watching my pie dough-rolling technique.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

For the crust:
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
12 Tbps (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
½ cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into chunks
3-8 Tbsp ice water

For the filling:
4 cups rhubarb, sliced into ½ inch pieces
3 cups strawberries, stemmed and quartered
1 cup sugar
3-5 Tbl cornstarch

Note: As is often the case with pastry type dough, the colder it is and the less you handle it, the better. I like to keep my shortening in the freezer so it is very cold, and the butter in the fridge.

Another Note: This pie is JUICY. It tastes delicious as ever, but I have never made a strawberry rhubarb pie that actually firmed up without tasting too much like flour or corn starch. I’d rather have a juicy pie that packs a punch rather than being muted by various starchy ingredients. The amount of cornstarch you add will be based on how juicy your fruit is – for example, if you bought your strawberries at the farmer’s market in the height of strawberry season, you’ll want to add more, whereas if you bought them at a big box grocery store in December, you won’t need as much.

To prepare the pie dough, combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor, pulse to distribute. Add the butter, pulse until evenly combined. Add the vegetable shortening, and do the same, pulsing until evenly combined. Your dough will start to clump together, but you will still have loose flour. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and pulse. If your dough isn’t coming together quite yet, add more ice water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. You want the dough to just start to come together. Dump the dough out onto floured surface and form a ball, cut it in half, and form two discs (roughly 1-1 ½ inch thick). Wrap discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. You can also freeze the dough for later use.

To prepare the filling, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, and cornstarch in a large bowl.

Preheat your oven to 450° F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie dish with butter and dust with flour. Roll out your pie dough until it’s a circle about 12 inches wide. I like to set the plastic wrap that the dough was wrapped in underneath when I roll it out, as it helps lift it into the pie dish. Transfer your dough to the pie dish and ease it into the corners of the dish. Fill with the strawberry-rhubarb filling. Roll out the second disc of dough, and cover the pie. Trim off excess dough, pinch together the edges, and cut vents in the top of the pie. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, and then into the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes at 450°F, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 50-70 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 3 hours.