Tag: dinner

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.

Weekend Finds 2:9:14

This edition of weekend finds is full of seriously useful articles and tips. Not just fun restaurants to try, but things that are actually good to know. Also, the polar vortex has hit Portland. Let’s get to it.

1. How to prep lemongrass

Lemongrass prep tips from Bon Appetit on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Lemongrass prep tips from Bon Appetit

This little tutorial would’ve been helpful a couple of weeks ago for that slow cooker Asian pork. Is it time yet for a second attempt?

2. How do you send back a dish?

How to send a dish back, from Food Republic on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Also, when I did a google image search for “how to send a dish back at a restaurant” this was the hilarious picture I found.

I don’t know that I’ve ever sent back a dish at a restaurant. Members of my family, who will go unnamed, definitely have. I honestly don’t know if I could have the gumption to do it! But now that I work at a restaurant, I realize how often it happens, simply via miscommunications and misunderstandings. Let me tell you, your server will be way nicer, and is way more likely to comp you a dessert or something, if you are kind about sending a dish back.

3. Keep your pan on the stove to clean it

Best way to clean those tough pans from the Kitchn, on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Get all the bits from the bottom of your pan with this cleaning tip.

Jonah and I have recently become big fans of this method of cleaning our pans (though we usually take the food out of the pan first, and sometimes even add a little soap to help with the really nasty ones). It makes such a big difference in cleaning our stainless steel pots and pans, and saves us time and elbow grease.

4. Butter chicken recipe/Indian food blog

Butter Chicken recipe from Quick Indian Cooking on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Butter Chicken recipe from Quick Indian Cooking on Weekend Finds

I have long been looking for a good resource for Indian food. I’ve been hurt (only emotionally) by internet recipes many times in my search for a Murgh Makhani recipe that mildly resembles the heaven that Swagat makes (if you haven’t been, I recommend it). Not only does this Butter Chicken recipe look good, but a lot of her recipes look good. Maybe it’s time for another try?

5. What wine to bring to a dinner party when you have no idea what’s for dinner

What wine to bring to dinner? From the Kitchn on Weekend Finds // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
I have spent far too long in the wine aisle at the grocery store staring blankly at all the bottles.

This is a serious issue. Very serious. Everyone experiences it. You’re going over to a friend’s house for dinner, you ask what you can bring, and they say, “Oh, just bring a bottle of wine!” And then you want to text or call and say “What are we having?” “Red or white?” “Do you like Riesling? Dry or sweet?” But then you’re pestering them while they’re slaving away making you dinner. I don’t know that I would ever bring sparkling wine over for dinner, unless it’s a special occasion, but I love these recommendations for what wines go with most things. And as far as lighter reds go, this Underwood Pinot Noir from Union Wine Co. in Oregon is one of my (very affordable) favorites right now.

Fresh Pasta with Pancetta, Leeks, & Breadcrumbs with Porcini Powder

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Fresh Pasta with Breadcrumbs, Leeks, and Pancetta // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Porcini powder. Porcini powder? Yes. From the farmers market. I was told it was wonderful, and was given a little bag as a gift. But what to do with the stuff, that’s the question. I’m not sure I made the right choice… This pasta dish had so much going on in it that the porcini flavor was hiding. It was hiding behind the sourdough breadcrumbs and butter it had been sprinkled into, and under the pancetta it had been tossed with, and between the fresh pasta noodles it had been swirled around with.

All that being said, this dish was dang good, if I do say so myself. There were a few elements, and it took a few pans to get it all prepped. So no, this is not one of those magical one pot meals. Certainly not.

My dear friend Elsa was staying with us, and my friend Dylan came over for dinner, as well as Elsa’s friend Sarah, so we had help in manning all the pans. Tamar Adler said in The Everlasting Meal that there is value in, when a guest asks “is there anything I can do to help?” being able to say, “yes.” I have found that to be very true.

Think of this recipe as a guideline. Or a lightly painted upon canvas. You can remove, add, flavor, sprinkle, drizzle anything you like. I must say, though, that I used a different pasta recipe this time, and I liked it much better than the one I had been using. There’s something to be said for trying something new.

Fresh Pasta with Pancetta, Leeks, & Breadcrumbs with Porcini Powder

Ingredients

Fresh Pasta

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Toppings

Olive oil
1 large or 2 small leek(s), sliced and rinsed
1 small white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Pancetta – the amount is up to you. I like the pancetta that is thin, almost like prosciutto, though that isn’t what we used here. I think if we’d used the thinner kind, it would’ve clung to the noodles better.
Fresh breadcrumbs
Butter
Porcini powder
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Fresh Pasta

To make the pasta, pulse the flour alone in a food processor a few times. In a bowl, beat the eggs and then add them to flour, and process until the dough forms a ball. If your dough is dry and looks like little pea sized pieces of dough, you can add water 1/2 tsp at a time. If it sticks to the bowl of the processor, add flour 1 Tbl at a time. When the dough has formed a ball, turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and set it aside for up to 2 hours to relax (at least 15 minutes). Then roll out the pasta as you usually do and cut it as you normally would.

Toppings

In a pan over medium (or medium low), cook your pancetta, then set aside on a plate with a paper towel on it. Once the pancetta is removed, you can use that same pan to sautée the leeks, onion, and garlic, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper. You may want to add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan to help keep things from sticking. But then again, maybe you won’t.

In another pan, melt some butter, then add the breadcrumbs and as much porcini powder as you feel like adding. Toast the breadcrumbs on low heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

As things are moving along, get out a big pot, fill it with water and a healthy serving of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta (I like to cook fresh pasta in batches, as it makes it less likely to stick together). If you’re cooking fresh pasta, it really only needs to cook for a few minutes. I like to remove it when all the noodles are floating. Do you have a better method? I’d like to know it. If you’re cooking your pasta in batches, you can remove it with tongs into a colander to keep the water boiling on your stovetop.

Strain the pasta, put it in a bowl, and toss with all the various bits and pieces. Enjoy with a glass of buttery, nutty white wine and friends, around a table, on a sunny evening.

Restaurant Review: Besaw’s (for dinner!)

About a month ago, Jonah and I were contacted by a local PR company to join them for dinner at a restaurant that’s a client of theirs, Besaw’s. Now, if you know anything about Portland, you know it’s a brunch city. Everyone goes to brunch, the lines are hours long, and brunch places are known for just that, BRUNCH. Besaw’s is one of these places. It’s known for its amazing brunch. The one time I tried to go, it was an hour and a half wait, and I was on a schedule, so I couldn’t stay. But if a place has an hour and a half wait, and people are WAITING, you bet your bottom it’s good.

The lovely dining room at Besaw's, feeling cozy and warm.

When I had long ago looked at the brunch menu, I had also glanced at the dinner menu, and let me tell you, it looked good. So I was pretty excited to have an excuse to drive across town (read: 20 minutes in Portland rush hour, really not so bad) to eat there. Now, I’m going to start with the end of our meal, because the owner, Cana Flug joined us before dessert and told us about how she came to own Besaw’s and the history of the place, and it’s quite cool. The restaurant has been around since 1903, when it was opened by loggers George Besaw and Medric Liberty as a beer hall. When the prohibition rolled around, Besaw became the sole owner and started serving food. Fast forward about 80 years, to when Cana started frequenting Besaw’s (it became a favorite spot and she lived nearby) and became friends with the owners. When they were ready to sell, they asked her if she wanted the place and, at the ripe age of 25, she said yes. Can you imagine owning a restaurant at age 25? I certainly cannot. The restaurant is sweet in the evening – nice lighting, and a very cozy and homey feeling. That, plus the fact that we were sitting with all these awesome, food-loving, powerful women, made the whole evening so comfortable and fun, filled with lots of stories and laughs.

On to the food: we started with cocktails and appetizers, specifically the Besaw’s Board (the house charcuterie board), fried pickles with a spicy aioli dipping sauce, and roasted mushrooms over polenta with marsala sauce. I shared these starters with Brooke, one of the publicists from Little Green Pickle, as well as Rebekah and Bee, two other food bloggers. My favorite of the starters was the mushrooms with polenta – so flavorful and the polenta was perfectly creamy. Yum.

Jannie holds a light while the photo shoot occurs, and Cana (owner of Besaw's) looks on and laughs.

We ordered our entrees while we waited for the rest of our party (Carrie and Jannie, the founders of Little Green Pickle). Our table quickly filled as the plates came out: Mac and Cheese, Fried Chicken over a Cheddar-Chive Waffle, Baked Fish (I think it was trout), Meatloaf, and the Elk Burger with an egg over easy on top. Carrie and Jannie arrived, and then came my favorite part of the evening. As a food blogger, I am constantly taking pictures of my food, which I think can be odd or annoying to the people around me. But surrounded by other food bloggers and lovers, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE at the table, whipped out their cellphones and started taking pictures of the dishes. Jannie even used her flash as a light to shine on the dishes in the dimly lit restaurant. It must have been a scene to the diners around us, but I thought it was hilarious.

Besaw's meatloaf with bacon, pan sauce, and roasted veggies.Besaw's takes on chicken and waffles: crispy fried chicken with a cheddar-chive waffle on the side. And syrup. Don't forget the syrup.

All of the food was really lovely, and it was definitely comfort food. But you know how comfort food can be really filling and heavy and make you feel like “oh, I should not have eaten all of that” afterwards? This did not feel like that. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t light, but it was really enjoyable to eat. The flavors were so homey and full without being overwhelming. My favorite dish, the meatloaf, was a surprise to me. I never liked meatloaf growing up, and if it’s on a menu, I never ever order it. But this meatloaf was so good. It had some bacon on it (let’s face it, bacon never hurts) and was served over roasted veggies (which are a serious weakness for me) and drizzled with some pan sauce. Oh gosh it was so good. I could have eaten that whole plate by my lonesome if I hadn’t been sharing with 6 other people. Also, the fried chicken was delicious – not too heavy and so crispy.

Besaw's Butterscotch pudding (in a cute little jar) served with molasses cookies and seasonal bread pudding (this one had lots of rosemary and was very fragrant).

After dinner, Cana sat down with us and talked to us about the history of the restaurant and her food and philosphy. She is extremely cool. I hope, should you decide to eat here (which you totally should) that you bump into her. She is enthusiastic, sweet, and very bright. After telling us her story, I heard perhaps my favorite words of the night when, after we had all been poring over the dessert menu, Cana told our waitress, “Just bring us one of everything.” Um, yes please. Again, the table was filled with plates of chocolate cake, bread pudding, apple betty, a chocolate chip skillet cookie (with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream), and my personal favorite, butterscotch pudding. Again, I was surprised by what ended up being my favorite dish – I am not usually a fan of butterscotch and I do not usually order pudding, but here I was wishing I had a jar of the stuff to myself. The butterscotch was perfectly subtle, and the pudding itself was so rich and creamy. A close second was the chocolate chip skillet cookie, which was perfectly crispy and crunchy on the edges and chewy in the center, balanced by the cool ice cream.

Overall, I could not have been more pleased with the meal. The service was lovely, company was fun, and the food made me feel like someone’s grandmother was cooking me dinner. Because the food was so homey, I immediately felt comfortable in this setting and with these new friends. I am of the belief that food should bring people together, bond them, and give them a shared, pleasurable experience.