Tag: Simple

Baked Rhubarb with Lemon and Cardamom

Baked Rhubarb with Lemon and Cardamom // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Baked Rhubarb with Lemon and Cardamom // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler
Baked Rhubarb with Lemon and Cardamom // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

It’s raining in Portland. I know, surprise, surprise. But it wasn’t that long ago that the sun was shining and I even got a sunburn. Seriously! Last weekend, Jonah’s mom and Grandma were in town for the day, and we took them to the PSU Farmer’s Market, which has got to be one of my favorite things about Portland. The sun was shining, I wasn’t even wearing a jacket, and there was beautiful crimson rhubarb everywhere! Rhubarb has got to be one of my favorite ingredients of all time, so I was excited, to say the least.

As I was getting ready for Passover dinner on Tuesday, I decided to nix the matzo crunch in favor of something a little more reminiscent of springtime: some baked rhubarb. After doing a little recipe hunting and finding this recipe on Food52 and this recipe on Orangette, I decided to do a little adapting. This recipe is so easy and delicious – I love the slightly sour flavor of the rhubarb and the hint of lemon, cardamom, and earl grey. I balanced the tartness with some fresh whipped cream, but ice cream, fresh ricotta, or yogurt are also great options.

Baked Rhubarb with Lemon and Cardamom


6 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 meyer lemon, juiced
1/8 tsp cardamom
3/4 cup steeped and cooled earl grey tea

optional: fresh whipped cream, ice cream, fresh ricotta, or yogurt for serving


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a baking dish, combine rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, cardamom, and tea. Stir to combine. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and allow to cool. You can serve the rhubarb warm, room temperature, or chilled, all are wonderful. Yes, that’s it. Can you believe how easy this is?

P.S. The leftovers, if there are any, taste delicious stirred into your yogurt and granola the next morning. Or on top of pancakes. Just saying.

Restaurant Review: Navarre (or Portland’s Best Kept Secret)

On the east side of Portland, where Burnside intersects with 28th, there are a slew of little cute establishments. You’ve got Crema, some food carts, Paadee, Laurelhurst theater (my favorite movie theater in town), Tabla, and even Ken’s Pizza if you go a couple blocks south. But my favorite one by far is the European looking Navarre, with about 30 seats, produce, jarred pickled veggies, and wine covering almost every surface, and the menu scrawled on the front window. Let me tell you though, writing the menu on the window cannot be an easy feat, as the menu is easily 30 items long and changes regularly. How regularly? 90% of the produce used at Navarre is grown within city limits (according to the latest issue of Portland Monthly).

I mean, come on: Roasted Carrots with a Million Herbs. Sounds delicious to me!

How I ever decided to go to Navarre for the first time is beyond me. I usually steer clear of places that don’t have a website. I know, I know, it’s incredibly biased. But speaking as one that does extensive restaurant research before I visit a spot, I really don’t like it when restaurants don’t have websites. In an age when that’s where everyone gets their information, why not? They do have a blog, but I just don’t really feel like the blog does their food justice and they don’t post very regularly.

The two menus, side by side, at Navarre. All ready to be filled out.

But let’s get to the good stuff, shall we? Their food! Oh the food. Let me tell you. You know that fad of “simple cooking”? This is the absolute best “simple” food I have ever had. Vegetables roasted with simple herbs or dressings and meat and fish expertly cooked in such a way that the flavors are magnified. As you can see on the menu pictured above, they always have 2 menus – the staples: things like bread, salami, gratin, fish, bird, and pork. You have to ask to find out what bird and how it’s cooked, or what vegetable they’re using for the gratin this evening. And on the second menu are all of the specials. Then you fill out the first menu with a marker (gotta love restaurants that give you markers), writing which specials you want and marking whether you want small or large plates of whatever you decide to order. They recommend about 3 small plates per person, which is perfect. I especially liked it because, between Jonah and myself, we got to try 6 different dishes instead of 2 mains and an appetizer that we would usually get at any other restaurant.

Lots of little plates for dinenr at Navarre, including steak, squash, kohlrabi, mushrooms, bread...

While I have been for brunch, which was delicious, I like the ambiance a little more at dinner time. The lights are a little bit lower, the candles are lit, and you get to enjoy wine from their pretty extensive list (given the size of the place). Some of my favorite dishes that I’ve had for dinner include but are not limited to: mushrooms roasted with rosemary, kohlrabi roasted with mustard and brown sugar, delicata squash roasted with butter, trout in parchment, cabbage gratin… the list goes on. Everything is prepared so well, so simply. Perhaps my favorite thing about Navarre is that I find it inspiring. Because the preparations are simple, I feel like I can go home and replicate them, which I love.

All in all, Navarre is definitely one of my top picks for places to dine in Portland. I think the perfect word to describe it is lovely. A lovely spot with lovely food. Try it out, but don’t spread the word too far. The other thing I love about this place is that I never have to wait for a table 😉

This meal is brought to you by Alice Waters

This meal is brought to you by Alice Waters

This meal is brought to you by Alice Waters
This meal is brought to you by Alice Waters

This meal is brought to you by Alice Waters

This past weekend my dad and his girlfriend came down to Portland to visit me and Jonah. They had given Jonah a cookbook, “The Art of Simple Food” by Alice Waters, for his birthday, and so we decided to make them a full meal straight out of the book as a little thank you. If you don’t know who Alice Waters is, she’s a chef at a restaurant called Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. The restaurant is known for organic, local ingredients and simple cooking. She has written about a million cookbooks. Anyway, for dinner we made: salad, Baked Wild Salmon with Herb Butter, Chard with Butter and Parmesan, and Roasted Butternut Squash for dinner. It was quite a meal. I’ll do one recipe at a time here so they aren’t all intertwined. Make things a little easier.

The meal was really delicious, fresh tasting, and best of all, SIMPLE. I guess the title of the cookbook doesn’t lie. These vegetable dishes were really filling and would make a great vegetarian meal. Enjoy!

Herb-Butter Salmon, Roasted Butternut Squash, and Chard with Parmesan


Herb-Butter Salmon

1 stick of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped herbs (we used parsley, chives, and tarragon)
1 finely chopped garlic clove
a squeeze of lemon juice
1-1 1/2 pounds wild salmon fillet

Roasted Butternut Squash

2 small butternut squash
1 medium shallot, coursely chopped
4 cippolini onions, peeled and quartered
about 1 Tbl of roughly chopped (or torn) sage leaves
olive oil

Chard with Parmesan

one bunch of Chard
2-3 Tbl butter (depending on how buttery you want your chard)
1/2 – 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese


Herb-Butter Salmon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Stir the ingredients for the herb butter in a small bowl. Add lemon, cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Oil a baking dish/sheet and put the salmon on skin side down. Drizzle the fish with oil. Bake 7-10 minutes, until the flesh is “just set and still pink in the center.” After taking the salmon out of the oven, spoon some of the soft herb butter over each piece of fish, and put the rest in a small bowl on the table.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1/2 inch pieces. Throw them into a baking dish with the chopped shallot, cippolini onions, and sage. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Pop the dish into the oven for about an hour and a half, stirring about halfway through. Test the doneness of the squash before taking it out of the oven to make sure it’s cooked through.

Chard with Parmesan

Remove the leaves from the ribs of the chard, wash the leaves, and cook them in salted boiling water. When the leaves are tender, about four minutes, drain them in a colander and allow to cool, then squeeze out the excess water.

In the same pot you used to cook the chard, melt the butter over medium heat. While the butter is melting, roughly chop the chard. Add the chard to the butter and heat through. Stir in the parmesan, remove from heat, and serve! Sometimes I’m a little skeptical of cooked leafy greens (the texture can be a little slimy for me) but I really enjoyed this. I was careful not to overcook the chard, and the butter and cheese certainly added to the flavor. Because really, what doesn’t taste good with butter and cheese on top?

A Loaf of Bread



Remember a little while back (in the cheddar and sage biscuits post) when I said I had bought some yeast and wanted to use it to make some bread? So I finally did that. I was more than a little bit frightened, and while all did not go perfectly smoothly, it worked! Very cool!

I hunted online for a while for some beginner bread recipes. While I was tempted to jump in and start with crusty french loaves and sourdoughs and breads with all kinds of stuff in it (think garlic cloves, spices, onions, anything else you can dream of), I thought it best to start simply and try to figure this thing out. I found this recipe for just a basic white loaf which didn’t require me to go to the store and buy anything, so already I was a big fan.

I used my kitchenaid mixer because it makes life easier. But a lot of the recipes I read are like “it’s so easy you don’t even need a mixer!” Whatever.

Sandwich Bread

Makes 1 loaf


1 package of active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
5 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 – 3 1/2 cups flour
cooking spray or other oil


First, warm the bowl by filling it with hot water, then dumping it out. Then dissolve your yeast according to the directions on the packet. Stir until yeast is completely dissolved, with no lumps. I think this is where things started to get wonky for me. I think the recipe assumes your yeast packet will call for 1 cup of warm water, but mine only called for 1/4 cup.

Now add the butter, milk, sugar, and salt to the yeast and stir until it well blended (it will look like a slightly yellow-ish tan liquid). Now add 2 CUPS of flour. No more! Not yet! Mix this very well. If the mixture is still wet, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well before adding anymore. Now the recipe I used called for at least 2 1/2 cups of flour, so I mixed in the 2 cups of flour, then pretty quickly added another 1/4 cup thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal. But a big deal it was, my friends. My dough immediately became too dry, crumbling into a million little pieces and it WOULD NOT come together. I was so frustrated! A couple other recipes I had read in my research had said “If your dough is too wet, add more flour. If it is too dry, add more milk/water.” So that’s what I did. I ended up adding probably almost another cup of milk/water. I think the important lesson here is that if you follow the instructions and it’s not perfect, it’s not the end of the world (which I thought it was). Just add a little of this, a little of that, it will all be ok.

Once the dough has come together, you can either let your machine knead it for ten minutes or, if you’re feeling adventurous dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it yourself. I did the latter because sometimes it feels better to know you’ve actually put in some physical effort. You know what I mean? There are many different kneading techniques. Some say you should punch the dough down, fold it up, then punch again. Some say you can squish it in your fingers and pull and twist it. I use the good old fashioned push away from you with the base of your palm and fold. Push and fold, push and fold.

I then rinsed out my mixing bowl, coated it in a little oil, put my ball of dough in it, covered it with a dishtowel, and let it rise for an hour in a warm place. Don’t clean up your floured surface, because you’ll need it again. The recipe says that after rising for an hour, your dough should double in size, but not to stress if it’s bigger or smaller than double. This was good news, because mine had not doubled. But it did rise, so we were still on the right track here. Now punch the dough down, and spread it out into a rectangular shape: one side the length of your bread pan, the other side 1 1/2 times the length of your bread pan.  Now roll that bad boy up, tucking the ends of the roll underneath (the bottom being where the seam is). Now drop it into the oiled bread pan.

Now you let it rise again, covered with a dishtowel. The recipe says an hour, but mine hadn’t really done much in that amount of time. Here’s where I thought things were going south again. After an hour of rising in the bread pan and not being where it needed to be, Jonah and I had to leave the house to go record his old a cappella group. I know, right? And then we went out to eat. So the dough sat in the pan rising away for a total of 5 1/2 or 6 hours. So I got home and I expected the bread to have exploded and that there’d be yeasty dough all over the apartment (why I suspected that, I have no idea). But no! It had risen the perfect amount!

At this point I’m starting to think that maybe I haven’t completely ruined this loaf of bread. I heated the oven to 400 degrees and baked that sucker for 30 minutes. Once you take it out of the oven, immediately remove the bread from the pan so it doesn’t continue cooking. The recipe says to let it cool all the way before eating. And check it out!

After it cooled and Jonah and I each ate a slice, I was so dang proud of myself. After thinking I had ruined it twice, it worked! And not only that, but our apartment smelled so incredibly delicious. Oh my goodness. This bread makes amazing toast, and tastes wonderful with just a little butter spread on it. And now that I’ve done it once, I feel ready to tackle the world of bread. Keep an eye out for more bread recipes coming soon!