Recipes

Strawberry Margaritas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Strawberry Margaritas

Strawberry Margaritas | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

You know what I haven’t quite been doing enough of this summer? Making cocktails at home. I always feel so accomplished when I whip up a delicious drink in my own kitchen, especially on a hot summer day, which lord knows we’ve been having in Portland. And I have never actually made a blended cocktail at home. Until now, that is. You see, when I got a bottle of Oregon Fruit Products pourable fruit in the mail, I decided it was time to change that.

Oregon Fruit Products has been around for a long time – eighty years in fact. And they’ve just come out with pourable fruit, a syrupy diced fruit sauce that’s easy to add to dishes, desserts, and drinks. They pick their fruit at the peak ripeness, so it really does capture that taste of Oregon summer. The convenience of this is great – you store it in the freezer, and then thaw it in the fridge when you’re ready to use. It’d be great on your waffles on a Sunday morning or in a power smoothie. (Keep in mind that since it’s a new product, you may see it with the old “Berrst” label until they update all the packaging. But it’s the same stuff. I promise.)

I decided to whip up a batch of strawberry margaritas for me and Jonah. After my discovery that no, you don’t have to have triple sec to make a margarita, I’ve enjoyed a simple shaken version a couple times this summer. But let’s be honest, blended just feels fancier, no?

Strawberry Margaritas

Makes 2 cocktails

Ingredients

4 oz tequila
Juice of 3 limes
10 dashes of orange bitters (or roughly 1/2 tsp)
1 cup Oregon Fruit Products’ Pourable Fruit Strawberry
1 1/2 cups ice
Optional: lime wedges and margarita or kosher salt for glass

Instructions

Combine tequila, lime juice, orange bitters, and fruit in a blender, and blend to combine. Add ice, and blend until smooth.

If you’re going for a salted glass, pour plenty of salt onto a plate or shallow bowl. Run a lime wedge around the rim of the glass. Press the rim of the glass into the salt.

Fill with margarita and enjoy!

This is a sponsored post. Oregon Fruit Products sent a me a sample of Strawberry Pourable Fruit, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Asian Slaw with Ramen Noodles | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Asian Slaw with Ramen Noodles

Asian Slaw with Ramen Noodles | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerAsian Slaw with Ramen Noodles | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerAsian Slaw with Ramen Noodles | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

A couple weeks ago, we went to the beach. I’ve told you about the beach house before, and this trip was no exception to the perfection that is that little slice of heaven on the Oregon coast. We went for our friend Walt’s birthday: there were three couples, and of course the second order of business was what are we going to be eating ? (The first was “ARE THE PUPPIES COMING?!”) We each decided to tackle one major meal while we were there, which I’ve found is a nice way to plan cooking with friends – no communal google docs full of recipes and grocery lists and confusion about who is bringing what.

For our one dinner together, Walt smoked a pork shoulder and his girlfriend Kylie made this delicious Asian slaw. It was tangy, crunchy, and refreshing, a perfect complement to the smoky rich pork (which we used to make bahn mi). I knew I needed to recreate it at home, and that it would quickly become a staple in our kitchen, since we eat a lot of Asian food.

I loved Kylie’s slaw, but per her suggestion, wanted to jazz it up a bit. I added sliced mango and salted roasted cashews, but the possibilities are endless – grated carrots, mint, cilantro, peanuts, mandarin slices, etc. We paired our slaw with some easy tofu, pressed and marinated in canola oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, and orange juice, then baked. It was an easy and delicious meal. My favorite kind.

Asian Slaw with Ramen Noodles

Ingredients

1 large head of napa cabbage
1 package of instant ramen noodles (flavor doesn’t matter – you won’t be using the flavor pack)
1 ripe mango
1/2 cup cashews, salted & roasted
3 Tbl rice vinegar
3 Tbl soy sauce
1 Tbl sugar
1 Tbl toasted sesame oil
Optional additions: sriracha, mint, mandarin slices, peanuts, cilantro, grated carrots.

Instructions

Chop cabbage into bite-sized pieces. I cut mine in half lengthwise, then in half again lengthwise, and then sliced it horizontally from there. Rinse and dry, and put in a large bowl.

Crush up the ramen noodles and set aside. Cut the mango into slices or chunks, whichever you prefer, and set that aside as well.

I like to mix my salad dressings in a small jar – no whisking, just shaking – but you can make yours in a bowl if you like. In whatever vessel you choose, combine the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Whisk or shake until thoroughly mixed. Taste and adjust ingredients as you like.

Add the mango to the cabbage. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and mango and toss to coat. Let it sit for a minute. You can add the ramen noodles and cashews now, or top each serving individually. I will warn you though, that if you add the ramen to the salad and you have leftovers, those noodles will lose their crunch.

Serve, dotted with sriracha if you’d like, and enjoy.

Asian Slaw with Ramen Noodles | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
A little taste of the beach house for you, clockwise from from top left: Carolyn, Branden, and their puppy Lily on the beach; Walt slaves over the smoked pork shoulder; Of course there had to be birthday cake; Kylie and their dog Darwin.

Chai Truffles

Chai Truffles | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerChai Truffles | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Let’s talk about chocolate. Everyone likes it. Everyone. If you don’t like chocolate, I think you might not be a human with feelings. And there is nothing quite like biting into a piece of chocolate that is fudgy, a little melty, and dark enough that it’s got that hint of sharpness to it.

Some of my favorite chocolate to eat is Theo Chocolate, based in Seattle. Jonah and I went on a factory tour a couple summers ago, and man was it a) interesting thanks to our awesome guide and b) delicious thanks to lots of samples. They have a chai flavored bar that is crazy good (so are all of their flavors, really), which I think is subconsciously why I chose to try these chai truffles. Well, that and I had been really wanting to make some easy truffles, and of course I can’t just have a plain chocolate flavor, can I? So with the advice of baker friend Caitlyn and a little research I got to work.

Chai Truffles

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 Tbl chai blend tea (I used Highland Chai from Tea Chai Te here in Portland)
9 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, ~70% (I used Scharffen Berger)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground ginger
salt
~1/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

In a small pan on the stove, bring the cream and chai blend to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 10-15 minutes.  While tea is steeping, roughly chop chocolate and put it in a heat proof bowl. After 10-15 minutes, uncover the cream and put it over low heat again, bringing it to a simmer.

Strain the cream into the bowl with chocolate, discarding steeped tea. Let sit for about 3 minutes, allowing the hot cream to start melting the chocolate. Add spices and a pinch of salt, and whisk together until chocolate is melted and thoroughly combined with the cream. Taste, and add a touch more spice or salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight, until the ganache is firm.

When ganache is firm, prepare to get covered in chocolate. Gloves are not a bad idea. Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Put the cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Scoop rough 1/2 tablespoons of the ganache and roll into balls, then roll the ball in the cocoa powder, and set on lined plate. Repeat until the ganache is all rolled into beautiful little truffles, and refrigerate again for at least an hour. Enjoy.

Citrus Cardamom Pound Cake | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Citrus Cardamom Pound Cake

Citrus Cardamom Pound Cake | Serious Crust by Annie FasslerCitrus Cardamom Pound Cake | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I have been wanting to make this recipe for a few weeks now. You see, it was a few weeks ago that New Seasons, my local (and great) grocery store had a citrus tasting over the weekend, and they lined up all these samples of all this crazy citrus, some of which I’d never seen before, and let you eat all of it, and encouraged you to take pictures so you could remember what you liked. Anyway, they had yuzu, which I had been itching to use, and these wonderful bergamot oranges, and sweet oro blanco grapefruits. I loved it.

Fast forward a week to when I think of this recipe and run to the store, and they’re out of yuzu, which is what I had initially wanted to use instead of meyer lemon. A few days later, they had run out of bergamot oranges, which was my plan B. So after a few days of disappointment, I realized – you know that whole lemon saying? Well, life gives you lemons and life taketh those lemons away. Point is, you can use whatever citrus you can access. The meyer lemons are bright and sweet. The yuzu would’ve been earthy and mellow. The bergamot oranges would’ve been herbaceous and mild. No matter. All would work equally well, I’m sure.

When I finally did get around to making this bread, I made it as a dessert to take to the coast for a girls’ weekend. We ate it for dessert with some port. But it tasted just as good, if not better, the next morning with a cup of tea, as we watched the rain stream down sideways outside. It’s a cake that will remind you that there is sunshine and brightness, even if it’s on your tongue instead of out the window.

Citrus Cardamom Pound Cake

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup greek yogurt (normal yogurt will work fine)
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs at room tempterature
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbl Meyer lemon zest (from ~1 large meyer lemon)
2 Tbl Meyer lemon juice (from ~1 large meyer lemon), divided
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

Butter and flour a bread pan, and preheat your oven to 350°. Sift flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt into a bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together milk and yogurt, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high until it’s light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition. Then add vanilla, lemon zest, and 1 Tbl lemon juice. Mix to combine.

Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and top with the sliced almonds. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until it passes the clean toothpick/knife test.

While the cake is in the oven, make the glaze: whisk powdered sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. When the cake is done baking, let it cool in the pan for 10 min. Gently remove from pan and put on a cooling rack over a pan or some parchment paper. Drizzle the glaze over the cake, and allow to cool the rest of the way. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a glass of milk.

Pistachio Rosewater Tea Cakes // Serious Crust

Pistachio Rosewater Tea Cakes

Pistachio Rosewater Tea Cakes // Serious Crust

Pistachio Rosewater Tea Cakes // Serious Crust
Pistachio Rosewater Tea Cakes // Serious Crust

During the holiday season, all I want to do is make cookies. All of the cookie recipes I’ve been eyeing throughout the year, this seems like the time to make them. I want chocolate cookies, I want mint crinkles, I want pecan shortbreads, I want soft sugar cookies decorated with frosting designs, I want ginger snaps. Maybe this is why I always add a layer this time of year? Maybe.

I recently bought a bottle of rosewater (mostly because there’s this dish in Jerusalem (the cookbook)- swordfish with harissa and rose – that I had once and I’ve been wanting to make it again), and it had been sitting on my pantry shelf, looking pretty but also lonely. And then I came across this recipe for “Pistachio Rosewater Snowball Cookies” in the latest issue of Kinfolk Magazine. They sounded like a beautiful twist on what some people call Mexican wedding cookies or Russian Tea Cakes or any other number of cookies: nutty with pistachio, and aromatic and floral from the cardamom and rose.

After making the recipe from Kinfolk, I made a few small changes to the recipe, and I wanted to share them with you. I thought the original was a little heavy on the rosewater, and a little light on the cardamom (though my roommates and Jonah really enjoyed them as they were). They’re buttery and crumbly. They’re sweet but with a unique flavor with them. And they smell beautiful.

Pistachio Rosewater Tea Cakes

Note: I found rosewater with the cocktail mixers at my local grocery store. It might also be in with the extracts in the baking aisle. If not, you can find it online.

Second note: Before you invest in making this recipe, you should definitely read through this recipe, and know that 1) pistachios are pricey, especially if you buy them already shelled and 2) there is a lot of kind of annoying pistachio prep. You’ve been warned.

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios
2 cups plus 2 Tbl all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 cup (2 sticks) butter unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 tsp rosewater

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment, or butter them.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and blanch the pistachios for 1 minute. Drain them, and place them on a clean dish towel. Fold the dish towel over the pistachios and rub off the skins. (There may be some stubborn ones that you need to peel off.) Spread them in a small baking dish and roast them in the oven until they’re just dry, about 8 minutes. Set them aside and allow them to cool. When they are cool, pulse in a food processor or blender until they’re finely ground, but definitely not a paste. Transfer them to a small mixing bowl and whisk together with the flour, cardamom, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1 cup of the powdered sugar and the butter until pale and fluffy. Add the rosewater, and mix it in. With the mixer on low, add in the pistachio flour mixture and mix just until a dough forms, scarping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Roll the dough into 1-1.5 inch balls. Arrange at least 1 inch apart on the pan, and bake until they’re just golden on the bottom, ~20 minutes (mine took a little less). While the cookies are baking, pour the remaining cup of powdered sugar into a wide bowl. Remove the cookies from the oven, allow them to cool from a minute or two, and when they’re cool enough to handle, roll them in the powdered sugar. Allow to cool the rest of the way on a wire race.

Miso Sticky Toffee Pudding // Serious Crust

Miso Sticky Toffee Pudding

Miso Sticky Toffee Pudding // Serious Crust
Miso Sticky Toffee Pudding // Serious Crust
Miso Sticky Toffee Pudding // Serious Crust
Miso Sticky Toffee Pudding // Serious CrustMiso Sticky Toffee Pudding // Serious Crust

Almost a year ago, there was a piece in the New York Times. I’m not sure where I found it – most likely someone posted it on Facebook – but it struck a chord. It’s called “When a Food Writer Can’t Taste,” by Marlena Spieler, a James Beard Award winning food writer. In the article, she writes about how a car accident, in which she broke both arms and sustained a concussion, completely demolished her ability to taste and smell.

Now, that sounds horrible no matter who you are. But when a food writer loses the senses that bring her the most joy and allow her to work, it’s devastating. Her descriptions of tasting what had once been some of her favorite foods are heartbreaking: “Cinnamon drops, a childhood favorite, were bitter, horrible.” “Bananas tasted like parsnips and smelled like nail polish remover.” “Gently sautéed mushrooms seemed like scorched bits of sponge.” Luckily, the nerves were only damaged, not severed, meaning that she would, in time, recover. She created her own rehabilitation plan, eating and tasting a huge range of foods, forcing herself to taste things like chocolate over and over again, starting with milk chocolate and slowly upping the cocoa content. Things she hadn’t particularly loved before – fish, especially – became a daily craving.

In the end, she recovered most of the way, and though her senses still occasionally go haywire, she can enjoy food to an incredible extent. But I’d like to focus on a specific part of this story: about halfway through the article, she tells us how, though she used to “lack a sweet tooth,” her sweet tooth now couldn’t be ignored. She lists a few things she baked, and they all sound delicious, but one jumped out at me: miso sticky toffee pudding.

When I studied abroad in London, I became a fan of sticky toffee pudding. It’s not pudding like we think of in the states. It’s a cake that is sweet but not too sweet, drenched in a warm toffee sauce that seeps into the cake, resulting in a moist, warm, absolutely fantastic dessert. Now I have looked for a recipe for Spieler’s mystical dish, and I am not the only one. The day after the article was published, someone tweeted at Spieler asking for the recipe. There’s a Chowhound thread asking if the recipe can be found anywhere (yes, I commented). But I couldn’t find it, and it seems, neither could anyone else. There are recipes for miso toffee, and for sticky toffee pudding with miso ice cream, but not this exact dessert. So, after talking with my baker friend Caitlyn, we decided to make one ourselves.

We decided to adapt David Lebovitz’s sticky toffee pudding recipe, and really, there were only a couple simple changes to be made. (In retrospect, I should’ve used Spieler’s sticky toffee pudding recipe, but I never happened upon it until I was sitting down to write this.) The resulting dessert is sweet, salty, caramelized, strong, and unique. Its flavors are perhaps a bit confusing at first, but I think the way they swirl around your tongue, combining to create a balance of sweet and savory is a fun adventure.

Miso Sticky Toffee Pudding

Note: I have made this recipe now with both red and white miso paste. While I personally liked the white miso better, Caitlyn, Jonah, and Caitlyn’s boyfriend Dylan liked the red. On one hand, I think the deeper, more caramelized flavor of the red miso was nice, and on the other, the white provided a little more brightness, while bringing the same level of saltiness. Both are good, so it’s up to you which you use.

Ingredients

Toffee Sauce

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup muscovado sugar (if you don’t have that, demerera or dark brown sugar will do)
2 1/2 Tbl molasses (we used Blackstrap)
2-3 tsp miso paste (start with two teaspoons, and add up to another teaspoon to taste)
1-2 Tbl toasted sesame seeds

Pudding

6 ounces pitted dates, snipped into small pieces
1 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup candied ginger, chopped
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt, preferably fine
4 Tbl unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
toasted sesame seeds, to serve

Instructions

Toffee Sauce

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and butter an 8 1/2 inch porcelain soufflé dish, or something of a similar size.

In a medium sized saucepan, bring the cream, muscovado sugar (or other dark brown sugar), molasses, and miso to a boil, stirring often to melt the sugar, and keeping a close eye to make sure it doesn’t burn. Lower the heat and let simmer for about five minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened and coats the spoon. Try your best to break up any chunks of miso. Pour roughly half the sauce into your buttered baking dish, sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the toffee sauce, and place the dish in the freezer. Set the pan with the rest of the sauce aside for serving.

Pudding

In another medium saucepan, bring the dates and water to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and ginger. Set aside, but keep slightly warm – leaving it on low heat isn’t a terrible idea.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl (you can use an electric mixer), cream together the butter and granulated sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla, stirring to combine. Add half of the flour mixture, then the date mixture, and then add the rest of the flour mixture, stirring between each addition. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.

Remove the baking dish from the freezer and pour the batter in over the toffee and sesame seeds. Bake for 50 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. Allow it to cool slightly before serving. To serve, warm the toffee sauce, spoon portions of the pudding onto plates or bowls, and top with the warm toffee sauce and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream will make a nice topping. I’ve also topped mine with some homemade anise-cardamom ice cream (based on the anise ice cream from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop).

According to Lebovitz, if you’re making the pudding in advance of serving, bake it without the toffee in the bottom of the dish. Close to serving time, poke the cake about 15 times with a chopstick or skewer, and distribute half the toffee sauce over the top. Cover with foil, warm in a 300 degree oven for about 30 minutes, and then follow the serving instructions above.

Just a Sip... // Serious Crust

Just a Sip… (What I’ve been drinking lately)

Lately, I feel like there have been quite a few occasions surrounding, well, drinks. In the summertime, it’s easy to settle in on the deck with a cold beer, but the cold weather seems to bring out some more interesting, unique cocktails, or a glass of that red wine you’ve been saving in the basement for the past few months. (Yes, there is a bottle of red I’d been saving for my birthday, and yes, it was opened over the weekend.) So let me tell you a bit about what I’ve been drinking lately.

Brunch for Dinner with ZICO Chilled Juice Blends

Brunch for Dinner with ZICO Chilled Juice Blends from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately)// Serious Crust
Brunch for Dinner with ZICO Chilled Juice Blends from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

To celebrate the launch of their new line of chilled juices, ZICO Coconut Water threw a “Brunch-for-Dinner” fête. These juices are a perfect blend of the hydrating benefits of ZICO’s coconut water with the taste of your favorite fruit juice. Noshing on brunchy bites like fruit and yogurt, flapjacks with apricot chutney, and breakfast sandwiches, the evening was a lovely celebration of both healthy and delicious. Because why not have the best of both worlds? As for cocktails, the Sunset in Paradice was on the sweeter side, made with gin, sake, ZICO Chilled pineapple mango juice blend, bitters, and a lime cordial. The Spicy Orange was my favorite – a little spicy from the ginger, not too fruity or sweet, and bubbly from the champagne. You can find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

The Heathman Restaurant and Bar’s New Fall Cocktails

The Heathman Restaurant and Bar's New Fall Cocktails from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

The Heathman Restaurant and Bar's New Fall Cocktails from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust
The Heathman Restaurant and Bar's New Fall Cocktails from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

If you find yourself in downtown Portland, looking for cocktails after a show at the Schnitz or a long day at the office, might I recommend The Heathman Restaurant and Bar? They just launched their new fall cocktails, and let me tell you, they are stellar.

Collaborating with Kathy Casey of Liquid Kitchen, the new drinks are refreshing, wintery, fun, and most of all, awfully tasty. Combine them with a few bites from Chef Michael Stanton, and you’ll be a happy camper. Trust me. My favorite might have been the new 50 Shades of Gin beverage (inspired by the book set at the Heathman) with gin, fresh tangerine, pomegranate juice, lemon, and fresh thyme. Or the Orchard Old Fashioned, an old fashioned featuring clear creek pear brandy and apple bitters. It’s hard to decide.

Winter Warmers in NE Portland

Hot Buttered Rum at The Box Social from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

A couple of my favorite spots in my neighborhood, The Waypost (when I’m feeling like going somewhere relaxed and homey, where the bartenders are incredibly friendly and you can often find great music) and Box Social (where I go when I’m feeling a little fancier, or am out past midnight), have released their own fall drinks. When I go to The Waypost this time of year, you can pretty much expect to find me with a glass of their pumpkin infused bourbon. But the other night they had run out, so I let Antonio talk me into their cider toddy instead, and man oh man was it good – gingery, spiced, and just all around cozy. The Box Social, the last stop on my birthday celebration train, made it hard for me to decide on a nightcap. Do I go for the hot toddy, the mulled wine, or a delicious bourbon cocktail? No, I went for dessert in a glass: a hot buttered rum. I haven’t had a hot buttered rum in a long time – my mom used to make them around Christmas from a mix she bought at Williams Sonoma – but the one they made me at Box Social convinced me that they should rival hot toddies as far as winter warming drinks go.

Wine Tasting Class at WineUp on Williams

Wine Tasting Class at WineUp on Williams from Just a Sip... (What I've been drinking lately) // Serious Crust

We’ve lived in our house for over a year now, which means we’ve been walking by WineUp on Williams for, well, a whole year. Why we’ve never gone in is beyond me. Jonah bought me a groupon for a wine tasting class there, which finally got us in the door, and now I have a feeling we’ll be there a lot. The place is owned by a fellow named Wayne, who is chatty and friendly, and will not accept any excuses for why you aren’t drinking more wine. He is crazy knowledgeable, the staff is very kind, and their wine selection is great. After class ended (it was an hour an a half, tasting 5-6 wines, chatting with fellow classmates, and noshing on bread and cheese), we sidled up to the bar for some more. If the class isn’t so much your thing (they happen every two weeks) consider just stopping in for a glass of wine and music (on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights). I recommend sitting at the bar and getting to know the folks who run this lovely spot.

So there’s a little taste of what I’ve been sipping. Have you had any must try (or must make) cocktails lately? Opened a bottle of wine you love? What are you planning on drinking with your Thanksgiving dinner? Whatever is your fancy these days, I hope it keeps you nice and warm!

ZICO Spicy Orange Cocktail

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients

Ginger Syrup

3T grated ginger
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

Cocktail Assembly

2oz ZICO Chilled Orange Juice Blend
1oz Vodka
¼oz ginger syrup (recipe below)
1oz Champagne
1 dash Old Fashioned bitters

Instructions

Ginger Syrup

Bring mixture to a boil to dissolve sugar, strain, chill. Makes about 1 cup.

Cocktail Assembly

Combine vodka, syrup, coconut water, and bitters in a shaker. Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with champagne.

Soba Noodles with Shrimp // Serious Crust

Soba Noodles with Shrimp, Lime, and Crispy Shallots

Soba Noodles with Shrimp // Serious Crust

Yes, yes, at this point, we all know that I have a thing for soba noodles. They are healthier than normal wheat pasta, and when you’re more into Asian food than Italian, they make a great alternative. They serve as a fantastic base for lots of sauces, from heavy (like peanut sauce) to light (like this sauce made of sesame oil, tamari, and agave), and are great to toss with seasonal ingredients (mango and zucchini in the summerkale in the winter) and a range of proteins (shredded teriyaki chicken or seared tofu).

More than anything, for me, they’re easy. It’s easy to add lots of healthy vegetables, they make great leftovers, and I know that I can whip up a sauce for them in 10 minutes or less. Throw in some sautéed vegetables or shrimp and you’ve got a dinner. Can it get easier than that? No. So on a busy night a couple weeks ago, Jonah and I made this delicious simple soba noodles with shrimp. This recipe served Jonah and I, with no leftovers (keep in mind, we were hungry). Go ahead and double it if you’re feeding more than two.

Soba Noodles with Shrimp, Lime, and Crispy Shallots

Ingredients

6-8 oz soba noodles
2 Tbl sesame oil
3 Tbl tamari or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
1 Tbl vegetable oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
zest and juice of one lime
1/2 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
salt
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
~1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
red pepper flakes or sriracha to taste
lime wedges for serving

Instructions

Boil a large pot of water, cook your soba noodles until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a medium bowl, combine 1 Tbl of the sesame oil with the tamari or soy sauce, and agave or honey. Add the soba noodles and toss to evenly coat them with the sauce.

In a heavy bottomed pan (cast iron works great here), heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until they’re golden and crisp. Remove the shallots to a plate covered with some paper towels. Lower the heat and add the garlic, cooking until it too is golden and crisp. Transfer to the paper towels too, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the lime zest and juice with the remaining 1 Tbl of sesame oil. Stir in the shrimp and season with salt, making sure the shrimp are evenly coated. Empty the contents of this bowl into the pan (the same one you cooked the shallots and garlic in), and cook them until they’re nice and glazed and just white throughout, about three minutes. Don’t walk away from the stove at this point – overcooked shrimp are not great.

Add the scallions, cilantro, and whatever amount of spicy ingredients you want to the noodles, and top with the shrimp. Serve with a lime wedge to squeeze over the top. Enjoy.

Banana Bread with Miso and Ginger // Serious Crust

Banana Bread with Miso and Ginger

Banana Bread with Miso and Ginger // Serious CrustBanana Bread with Miso and Ginger // Serious Crust

I heard people were getting worried. In the week before I posted the recap of Feast last week, at least two people said to me, “I was looking at your blog, and noticed you haven’t posted in a month! Is everything ok?” Which at least means they hopefully like coming over to this little corner of the internet. Mostly though, it has just been a wildly busy month. But hopefully things are calming down a little bit, and as we settle into fall, I can get back to more cooking and writing.

A few weeks ago we cleaned out our freezer to make room for a giant tub of Salt & Straw ice cream, and discovered that we had so many frozen bananas. You know, every time a banana or two gets overripe, you throw it in the freezer, thinking “Oh, I’ll use it soon.” But you always forget. Anyway, I saw this pile of bananas and thought to myself, ok, the time has come. But of course I didn’t want to make just a traditional banana bread. So I took a standard banana bread recipe from Food52 and added a couple things: miso and crystallized ginger.

If you’ve never baked with crystallized ginger before, I highly recommend it. My family likes to put it in apple pie at Thanksgiving. It lends a nice bit of spiciness, and makes you feel a little bit healthy about whatever baked good you’re eating. What is it about ginger that makes everything it’s in seem healthy? How misleading. In this bread, you’ll find little zings of it as you munch on this moist quick bread, a perfect combination of sweet and savory (thanks to the miso).

Banana Bread with Miso and Ginger

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

3 large or 4 small ripe bananas
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbl butter, melted and cooled
4 tsp white miso (optional)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan (5×9 inches).

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas. Add the egg and sugar, stir to combine, then add the butter and miso. Mix until thoroughly combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. In two additions, fold the dry ingredients into the wet, being careful not to overmix. Gently fold in the crystallized ginger. Pour into loaf pan.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick (or wooden skewer, which is what I had on hand) inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool for ~5 minutes in the pan, then remove onto a cooling rack. This bread is best served warm and fresh. If you’ve got some leftover, store in the fridge for best second-day results.

Easy Energy Bites // Serious Crust

Easy Energy Bites

Easy Energy Bites // Serious Crust

So these energy bite things have been popping up in my life for a while now. I’ve seen them everywhere: favorite foodie websites, blogs, Pinterest (duh, everything is on Pinterest), and on my sister’s Facebook. I tried a batch inspired by Sprouted Kitchen that was peanut butter heavy, but they weren’t really my jam (but maybe peanut butter is your jam, or jelly, as it were). After talking to my sister, she inspired me to try her version. And they were great. They were fruity, jammy, chewy, and a little nutty, similar to Larabars.

The beauty of these is that they could not be easier to make. Also, people have found them really impressive, even though they took a mere pressing of buttons to make. The other beauty of these is that you can make them using whatever you’re in the mood for. On this particular day, dried apricots and cherries were calling my name. But I also wanted a little decadence, so I threw in some semi-sweet chocolate chips. The possibilities are endless. And I like that.

Easy Energy Bites

Note: you will need a food processor to make these. You could try them in a blender, but I’m not making any promises about what might happen.

Ingredients

1 cup nuts (I used almond) – toasting optional
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup dried fruit (I went for half apricots, half sour cherries)
Optional: 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate, or cocoa nibs

Instructions

Get out a large piece of wax or parchment paper.

Combine the nuts, dates, whatever dried fruit, and chocolate (if you’re using it) in a food processor. Pulse a few times to break up the ingredients, stopping to separate the dates if they clump together. Now, turn the food processor on for 30 seconds or so. Everything should break down every more to crumbly pieces. Scrape down the edges of the bowl. Process again for 1-2 minutes until a paste starts to form and the ingredients clump together into a ball. Dump the paste/dough onto the piece of parchment or wax paper, and press it with your hands until it forms a square, roughly 8×8. Wrap up the dough, and let cool in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to overnight.

Once the dough is chilled, unwrap it, slice it into bars of whatever size. You can individually wrap the bars if you’d like, but I stacked mine in a tupperware and stored them in the fridge. Note that they don’t necessarily need to be kept in the fridge, but doing so will help them maintain their shape and firmness. Room temperature bars will be softer and pastier.

Berry and Buttermilk Scones // Serious Crust

Berry and Buttermilk Scones

Berry and Buttermilk Scones // Serious Crust

Berry and Buttermilk Scones // Serious Crust
Berry and Buttermilk Scones // Serious Crust

Tis the berry season. I feel like everywhere I go, I’m seeing piles of raspberries, blackberries, even some late season strawberries. I baked these scones about a month ago, but I haven’t quite had time to post it. The time is now! Amongst all the food my mom sent home with us from the beach, were a pint of marionberries and some buttermilk.

The weekend we came home, we had a three hour band practice, and I knew I was going to need some sustenance. And who can resist warm, freshly baked, delicious scones? No one. So I whipped some up in the morning, and brought them to band practice.

I feel like my bandmates are still not used to my bringing baked goods. When I bring them, they’re there to share. Why would I bring a basked of a dozen scones all for myself? I wouldn’t. With a little nudging, I finally got the guys to snack on some. They were still warm, and smelled like sugar and berries. They were really delicious. I only wish I’d had some lemon curd to slather on them.

Berry and Buttermilk Scones

Ingredients

3/4 – 1 cup fresh berries (I used marionberry, but raspberry or blackberry would work well too)
4 3/4 cups flour
1 Tbl baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup plus 1 Tbl cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks.
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons melted butter
brown or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Using a pastry knife or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. You want the butter to be evenly mixed into the dry ingredients, in about pea-sized chunks.

Add the buttermilk and the berries, and mix the dough gently with a wooden spoon until it holds together well. If it seems a little dry, add a little more buttermilk to the dough, a couple tablespoons at a time. Flour a cutting board or countertop, and turn the dough out onto it. Pat the dough into a rectangle about an inch and a half thick. Using a circular cookie cutter (or a water glass, if you don’t have a cutter), cut out as many circles as you can, gather together the scraps, pat them out, and repeat. Place on the lined pan, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar (brown or turbinado).

Bake scones for 20-35 minutes, until the tops are golden brown at the edges. Transfer to a cooling rack, and allow to cool for a few minutes until they’re nice and warm, but won’t scald your mouth. Serve with butter, lemon curd, jam, or any other toppings you like.

Mariam's Salad Rolls // Serious Crust

Mariam’s Salad Rolls

Mariam's Salad Rolls // Serious Crust

Mariam's Salad Rolls // Serious Crust
Mariam's Salad Rolls // Serious Crust

It was 100 degrees in Portland yesterday. The sun was not beating down, no. It was a cloudy, muggy day (by Pacific Northwest standards). And so when the time came to cook dinner, the thought of turning on any heating device just felt wrong. So I went to the store and picked up some fresh, crunchy, fruity, flavor packed ingredients to make salad rolls.

I had seen a recipe for salad rolls using lentils, but I didn’t really have time to cook them, so I thought I’d use another flavor of Mariam’s lentil dips (which I’ve written about before here). I went with the curry and green lentil flavor, thinking it would go nicely with the kind of Asian flavor. I’m not sure a few of these rolls would have made enough for dinner without the lentils – they’re packed with protein, and they made the rolls much more filling. They were delicious!

You can fill these rolls with whatever you’d like, really. You can slice up some tofu and put it in raw or cooked. You can grill some shrimp. You can add some vermicelli noodles, bean sprouts, red onions, or even shiitake mushrooms. The possibilities are endless!

Mariam’s Salad Rolls

Note: If Mariam’s lentil dip isn’t available where you are, feel free to substitute with some cooked green lentils, tossed with a little sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, salt, etc. Or see above for other recommendations.

Ingredients

½ cucumber, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 large ripe mango (or 2 small ripe mangos), thinly sliced
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
Cilantro, picked from stems
Mariam’s Curry and Green Lentil Dip
Spring roll wrappers (available in the Asian section of most grocery stores)
Sweet chili sauce for dipping

Instructions

Arrange all of your ingredients in bowls or on plates, so that they are easily accessible. Set out a large bowl of room temperature water, and a damp dishtowel. Follow the instructions on the spring roll wrapper package to prepare, or if they don’t have instructions, prepare like this: soak in room temperature water for 15 seconds, until the wrappers have almost no crinkle left, and spread on a damp dish towel. Arrange a few slices of cucumber, carrot, mango, avocado, a few leaves of cilantro, and a few dollops of Mariam’s Curry and Green Lentil Dip down the center of the wrapper, leaving about an inch on either end. Fold in the short ends over the ingredients, fold the bottom half of the wrapper up over the ingredients, and roll up the rest of the way. Enjoy dipped in sweet chili sauce or other dipping sauces.

This is a sponsored post. All of the opinions below are my own.