Portland Cocktail Week, Night 1

I’m in Portland, OR for Portland Cocktail Week. All I have is my iPad, so posting is possible, but not ideal, and I can’t link to things, so I will go back and edit later. I will be sure to write a recap when this work-vacation is over. But, my first night was a blast! Of course it was… I was with Sammy Dunn, my friend going on 10 years now. A man who knows about the Portland food scene and likes to have fun. What else could I ask for in life?

Sam picked me up at the airport and we went straight to Biwa for a fantastic dinner. Kimchi, pickled mackerel, a fried sardine, burdock and carrot salad, fermented soy beans that have a raw quail egg to make them gooey, fried rice balls, some other pickled stuff, and a couple ginger gimlets. Now, here’s what my receipt says we ate:

Yoyogi, Saba Nanbanzuke, Yakionigiri, Kimchi, Natto, Kinpira, Sardine, and Ginger Gimlet.

Yeah. I have a lot to learn about this fusion cuisine and if we had a place like Biwa in Boulder, I could study more.

From Biwa we walked to Cascade Brewing and tasted some sour ales- Barrel #1 Platinum Blond, Apricot, Sang Royal, and Kriek. Oh, for the love of sour style beers.

Then we finished the night the way old friends should- with a bottle of what appeared to be an 04 vintage of Pinot Noir from The Adea Wine Company of Willamette Valley. I say “appears” because the label is missing and there’s some hand written words on the bottle that indicate 04 Pinot Noir. Some secret stash? Quite possibly.

Off to explore food, coffee, and cocktails today. Definitely can’t complain.

Garlic and Ginger Baked Tofu Soup

We had a cool couple of days lately in Boulder to remind us that summer isn’t exactly here yet. It’s been wet, cool, and cloudy. Perfect weather for soup!

So, I made one of my standbys- Baked tofu soup. I originally started making this soup as a spin on Vietnamese Pho, but this version is more simple and I’m calling it soup, not pho.

I had some homemade chicken broth, which, I know… is not as vegetarian as tofu. Got it. But, I always make chicken stock from whole chickens, so I had some on hand.

I made a simple marinade of

  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (don’t kill me you strict vegetarians!)
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • 2 TB rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Kecap Manis (Sweet Soy Sauce)
  • a splash of fish sauce
Slice you frozen, thawed, pressed firm tofu into cubes and bake at 400 for 45 minutes or so.
I added some diced onion to a quart of my homemade broth and let it cook down a little before adding some frozen peas. Ladle over the baked tofu, add some hot sauce if you’d like, and enjoy.

Black Garlic Tofu and Bok Choy Sesame Noodles

One of the newer staples in my arsenal of Savory Spice Shop ingredients is Korean Aged Black Garlic. It can turn an ordinary dinner into something much more interesting and unique, so, pick some up and experiment.
Here’s what I did this time…

  • One block firm tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed, and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 TB chopped garlic
  • 2 TB chopped black garlic (which you can find at Savory Spice Shop)
  • 1 TB grated ginger
  • 4 TB soy sauce (divided in half)
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 1 TB rice vinegar
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • baby bok choy, chopped and divided between leafy greens and celery-like stem
  • soba or udon noodles
  • 3-4 TB toasted sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds (I buy my seeds already toasted from Savory Spice Shop)
  • chopped peanuts
First, bring water to a boil for the noodles. Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. They are frequently boiled, drained, and rinsed in cold water, so I like to bring my water to a boil while prepping other ingredients.
Heat up a wok with 1 TB sesame oil. When hot, add the tofu cubes, ginger, garlic, and 2 TB soy sauce. Let this cook a bit, tossing it around occasionally. Squeeze half of the lime, mix, and let it cook. Next, add the chopped stem part of the bok choy and 1 TB rice vinegar. Then add the white wine and the rest of the soy sauce and let it cook another few minutes (approximately 10 minutes total).
By now, the noodles should be boiled, drained, and rinsed. Add the noodles to the wok as well as the leafy part of the bok choy and toasted sesame oil, and gently stir to mix it all evenly and heat the noodles all the way through.
Scoop some noodles into a bowl and top with some toasted sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, and a spritz of lime. Enjoy with chopsticks.

Banana Orange Bread

This month’s Taste & Create inspired me to tweak my Best Walnut Banana Bread recipe just a bit, thanks to Tamy and Always Eat On the Good China. It took me a few tries to perfect my own banana bread recipe, and now I’m ready to start creating a few new variations. Here is a new one for me.

But, first things first: Here is the link to the recipe that inspired my new creation.

I immediately went to my Best Banana Walnut Bread Recipe. Then I realized I was out of some ingredients. Good planning on my part (smile). So I altered the flour in my recipe as follows: 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, and 1/2 cup crushed rolled oats.
Other than the flour substitutions, I followed my banana walnut bread recipe and added some great ideas from Tamy, such as 1/3 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened), 2 teaspoons granulated ginger, 2 crushed cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and zest from one large navel orange. I added some chocolate chips to half of my batch to mix it up a little.
I baked muffins. I just now realized that I baked Aussie bites (also muffins) for last month’s Taste & Create. What’s up with me and muffins lately? Are all of my Vita-Mix smoothies making me crave muffins?
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