A couple weeks ago, Jonah and I went to a Timbers game, and before the game started, it started to rain. It rained on and off for the whole game (which we lost) and when we left the stadium it was really pouring. We quickly decided to wait out the crowds and the downpour by ducking into a bar near the stadium called Shift Drinks. We got some tasty drinks and then decided to get a snack. I have a serious weakness for chicken liver pâté, so when I saw some on the menu, accompanied by pickled rhubarb, I knew I’d be ordering that.
Their pâté was creamy and sweet, and contrasted beautifully with the crunchy, sour rhubarb. I always love finding a new use for rhubarb, especially if it’s savory, so when I had that pickled rhubarb at Shift Drinks I knew I wanted to try making my own (and pairing it with my own chicken liver pâté, for which I use this recipe). This recipe is so ridiculously easy, and it makes a great snack either on it’s own or accompanying meats and cheeses on a homemade charcuterie board.
Quick Pickled Rhubarb
3 large stalks rhubarb
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
3 mint sprigs
Slice the rhubarb into roughly half inch slices. Put the slices into a heat proof jar or bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, fennel seeds, and mint. Bring to a simmer, remove the mint sprigs, and pour the liquid over the rhubarb. Cover and let stand overnight. In the morning, you’ve got quick pickled rhubarb!
Please tell me you’ve heard of Feast. The three-year-old food festival that now takes over Portland for a weekend in late September? The one with so many incredibly opportunities to eat, drink, and be merry? The one where you can easily spot your 5 favorite foodie celebrities in a single day?
This was my first year attending Feast, and I was (unfortunately) only able to hit up one event due to some scheduling conflicts with the band. But the event I did get to go to, the Oregon Bounty Grand Tasting, was 5 hours of tastebud extravaganza, meeting lots of people, and watching cooking demos. My dad and Darla came down for the weekend (they drove out to our gig with us over the weekend), and the three of us went to Pioneer Square to enjoy all that Oregon has to offer.
We made it to the tents in time to grab a couple wine pours and food samples before sitting down to watch Chef Naomi Pomeroy whip up a pork loin with romesco sauce (which, after sampling, inspired me to finally make some romesco sauce of my own). Afterwards, as we moved from some pâté panna cotta with Oregon berries and a parmesan tuile from Uptown Billiards Club, to Eliot’s Adult Nut Butters, to kale salad with smoked salmon (from I’m not every sure who), to crazy delicious bites from Three Little Figs, to some awesome bloody mary shooters from Face Rock Creamery, to tomatoes sprinkled with varied salts from Jacobsen Salt, to of course incredible ice cream from Salt & Straw (served by the one and only Jon Wash), and possibly my favorite dessert: Salt & Straw Olive Oil ice cream topped with Cacao drinking chocolate and candied cocoa nibs. I realized something. I am so unvelievably lucky to live in a city that not only has food like this at every turn, but to live in a city that creates a festival like this, that brings all these artisans and chefs and wineries and breweries together, and has this community around food. I think it’s pretty cool, don’t you?
Let it be known that we also enjoyed some beautiful wines poured by some beautiful people. The wineries that were pouring were some of the best in Oregon, and they were pouring wines that range from $20-70 a bottle. It was a chance for me to try some wines that, let’s face it, I would otherwise not have been able to. Some favorite wineries included Elk Cove, Adelsheim Vineyards, Chehalem, and Penner-Ash Wine Cellars.
Overall, it was a beautiful day spent eating and drinking with some of my favorite people. I met some new friends (like Ian and Mike from Pfriem Brewery), bumped into some old ones (Erin from Bakery Bingo, Rachel from Love, Rachel, and, from afar, Bee from The Spicy Bee), and truly enjoyed discovering all the wonderful food and drink coming from the wonderful Pacific Northwest. Lucky girl, indeed.
I love butter. Let’s be clear here, I don’t like to grab a stick and eat it like a candy bar, the way my mother used to. Certainly not. But there is something to be said for a good piece of sourdough covered in melty butter. Or a roast chicken that’s been slathered in butter and salt and pepper. You know what I mean?
Recently, Jonah and I have become more interested in buying “good” butter. Butter is butter – it’s good. But we were wanting to buy butter made with milk from grass-fed cows. It started a couple months ago when our roommate’s dad, Bruce, came to visit. Bruce is very knowledgeable about diet and nutrition, and while he was here we had many conversations about foods that people think are bad for you (aka butter) but aren’t really if you eat them well. Good fats are good for you, guys! Things like good olive oil, good butter, even chicken livers (fatty, yes, but full of nutrients), are things we can enjoy without feeling guilty about it.
So when I was sent some coupons for Straus Dairy products, I knew immediately I wanted to try their butter. I started with ye old piece of toast. What better way to judge a butter’s character? It was good. It was richer and creamier than your average butter. So I took things to another level. I had bought some chicken livers the day before, so I made some chicken liver paté (Julia Child’s recipe, in case you were interested). And let me tell you, it was some incredibly creamy paté.
Let’s talk for a second about Straus Family Creamery. After spending a fair amount of time on Straus’s website, perhaps one of the things I find the coolest is that they were the first 100% certified organic creamery in the country. For real! Evolving from a family dairy farm, Straus Family Creamery was officially founded in 1994, when Albert Straus saw going organic as a way to differentiate himself and save the state of local family farming. The butter has 85% butterfat content, and is less moist than normal butter. What does this mean for us bakers? It means it’ll brown more evenly and be more flaky. And for the cooks? It doesn’t burn as easily. Now I know, this butter ain’t cheap. But when you’re making butter heavy things like paté or shortbread, I think it’s worth spending the extra few dollars. You don’t skimp on a pork shoulder or buy cheap-o chocolate for your chocolate chip cookies, do you? I thought not.
Enough waxing poetic about butter, Annie. Let’s get on to this recipe for herb and lemon shortbread. On our front steps, we have a little pot of herbs that we carried with us from our last home. Our thyme isn’t looking so hot, but the sage is coming back strong this spring. And every time I walk by that pot, I start thinking of things I could do with those herbs. This week, I had an idea for this herb and lemon shortbread. And lo and behold, I had one stick of this beautiful butter left. It was perfect.
Herb and Lemon Shortbread
Note: I used solely sage for this recipe, but any combination of sage, rosemary, and thyme would be great, I think.
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbl plus 1 tsp sugar
1-2 tsp freshly chopped herbs (I used 1 tsp of freshly chopped sage, and wish I had used more)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 stick (8 oz) Straus Family butter, unsalted, at room temperature
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside. In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbl sugar plus chopped herbs and lemon zest. Rub these ingredients together with your fingers – this will make sure the sugar absorbs the oils from the herbs and lemon, making it perfectly aromatic. Add the sugar mixture to the flour, and stir until combined. Cut the butter into chunks, and combine it with the flour/sugar mixture with a fork or a pastry knife, blending until you’ve got a beautiful soft dough.
Gently press the dough into a 9×9 baking dish or a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar over the top. Bake until it’s golden brown around the edges. Once you’ve removed it from the oven, carefully cut it into wedges or squares or whatever shape you like while it’s still hot. Allow to cool before separating it. It helps to run the knife along the lines again.
I think this shortbread would make a fantastic base for lemon bars or rhubarb bars or any kind of bar topped with curd. Just saying.
This is a sponsored post. I was given coupons for Straus Dairy products, and all of the opinions below are my own.
I have told you before about the commune. Kelly, my fellow foodie, had a mother, Caroline, who was also a fellow foodie. She was an amazing cook and baker, and it seems to me that she knew everything there was to know, and in my imagination, she created these incredible culinary masterpieces that I only wish I could have tasted.
Unfortunately, I’ll never meet Caroline, as she passed away a few years ago. But I feel like she and I are kindred spirits, especially as I now own many of what used to be her kitchen accessories. Last year, when Kelly and I worked together, he brought in boxes of her old cookbooks to let me go through them and pick out which ones I wanted. Most recently, the commune was going through her old baking tools and, even though I wasn’t there, they made me a box! It was the sweetest gesture that nearly brought me to tears.
While I know what some of the utensils are (a madeleine pan, some mini tart pans, some regular sized tart pans, some spring-form pans) there are others that I have no clue what to do with. Help? I’m posting pictures here, with numbers in the captions, and if you know what some of the items are, please comment below!
I’m assuming the long skinny tray on the left is for lady fingers. The tray on the right is very shallow, and I’m not sure what it’s for!
The molds on the left are number 3, and one guess for those was a paté mold or something like that? The little molds on the right are number 4, and a guess for those was that they might be for petit-fours.
Lastly, the scalloped edged pans are number 5, and the little circular pans (maybe for donuts?) are number 6.