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.
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.
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.
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.)
It’s been a little while since I did any weekend finds, hasn’t it? I figured I’d give you some posts you could sink your teeth into. But hey, sometimes you can sink your teeth into a list of cool stuff I found, right? Right. Halloween is around the corner (like, wow, two weeks away already). And that, to me, means that we are in the thick of fall, which in turn means we should be making all things squash. I have my old go to’s (like tofu and delicata with miso and molasses, root veggies with miso and harissa) but it’s always fun discovering new ones. Here are some I’m itching to try.
1. Pumpkin Muffins
I’m not sure what about these pumpkin muffins makes me feel like they’ll be different from pumpkin muffins I’ve made in the past – maybe it’s the face that they’re topped with whipped cream cheese? Yeah, that could be it.
2. Butternut Squash Pie
This Italian dessert sounds beautiful – somewhere between a custard and a pie and sprinkled with almonds.
3. Squash with Dates and Thyme
I love me some roasted squash, and acorn has become a recent favorite of mine. This acorn squash tossed with coconut oil and roasted with dates sounds perfect – I love the thought of the sweetness from the dates. I would throw the thyme in to roast with the squash, and maybe add a sprinkle of cayenne.
Well friends, today marks the beginning of June. That’s a pretty crazy thing. This year is flying by, and it seems like if I blink, it’ll be Christmas. But I’m working on taking things a little slower and enjoying what I’ve got going on. These finds are what I’ve been liking this week.
When family is in town, we eat. And we eat well. Last night, after finally winnowing down our list of places to dine, my dad, Darla, Jonah, and I went to Davenport. The kitchen is helmed by Kevin Gibson, of Evoe, and they’ve been open for about 6 months. I’d been wanting to go for all of those 6 months. Located in the old June space on E. Burnside, the restaurant is cozy and clean. Last night it was warm enough that the big garage door was open. Our servers were so kind, the wine was perfect (a red sancerre) and the food was impeccable. Highlights included: roasted fava beans with pancetta, fried octopus over frisee, asparagus with porcini/breadcrumbs/parmesan, and grilled duck breast with a walnut aioli.
2. Pro Pie Tips
It is officially pie season. The rhubarb is here and the strawberries are starting to trickle in. So do a little prep work and check out these tips from Bon Appetit. I’m especially keen on the recommendations to put the pie at the bottom of the oven and to put it in the freezer for 15 minutes before you bake it. So smart.
3. Rachel W. Cole
Now don’t get all judgmental on me here. Rachel Cole is a life coach who focuses on feeding your true hungers. Via her social media outlets (which I follow), she talks a lot about body image and how we fill ourselves, with food and other things in our lives. I recently signed up for her newsletter, and spent a few hours on Friday doing her fulfillment pyramid activity (you can get it too if you sign up for her newsletter on her site). Think of it as making a food pyramid for yourself, but putting all the things you need in your life in it, not just vegetables and grains. It was a really fun, reflective, positive activity, and I definitely recommend it. Trust me, cooking for friends and baking pies definitely made it on to my pyramid.
I’ve been itching to try cooking with pork belly, and I think once my schedule becomes normal again, it’d be a great day-long kitchen activity. I’m picturing it seasoned with thyme, and served with a rhubarb chutney. I’ll definitely be re-reading these tips from Food52 before I go for it.
6. Grocery Shopping
I like this little meditation on grocery shopping. Jonah and I have been trying to do more meal planning and making enough to have leftovers for lunch and then committing to actually eating those leftovers… It’s all harder than it sounds. But here’s what I’ve realized – as long as we are all feeding ourselves well and trying to be conscious about where the food is coming from, then we’re “doing it right.”
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.