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12 Recipes for a Pacific Northwest Feast

From our winter issue, How To Eat Like Our Lives Depend On It, here’s a dozen ways to bring in the holidays.

Sauteed Salmon photo by Paul Dunn

All photos by Paul Dunn for YES! Magazine.

1. Sautéed Salmon with Roasted Beet Thickened Yogurt Salad
When wild salmon runs from late spring to early fall, there’s rarely a week when a slab of the orange-colored beauty doesn’t land on my plate. It’s the little black dress of seafood, going with everything from red wine, mushrooms, bacon, green vegetables, herbs and olives to nuts, dairy, citrus, tomatoes, pesto, spices, and glazes. Its luxurious flavor also makes a quick, satisfying meal.

Just sauté a seasoned fillet in a little hot oil and serve it with rice and salad. Plus, wild salmon is even tastier once you consider it’s good for your body and the Pacific industry is still fished sustainably.

I prefer salmon medium-rare as the velvety texture emphasizes its richness. In this preparation I gently fry the salmon and top it with an outrageously colorful beet salad that’s a breeze to make.

Roasting the beets and straining the yogurt involves requires time but not much attention, so you can putter around the house while fire and gravity do the work for you. The best part is this dish is delicious as a cold salad with greens or nestled in a brioche bun the next day.

1 pound whole salmon fillet
1 bunch red beets with greens
12 oz. yogurt
One clove garlic
Fresh dill, about a tablespoon chopped
A few drops fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola or grapeseed oil
Cheesecloth

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

68 Cover
Rinse the cheesecloth under cool water. Fold it over one and then a second so you have four layers, and then use it to line a strainer placed over a bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the cheesecloth and set aside to drain. This will take anywhere from two to six hours depending on how thick you prefer it, so it can’t hurt to refrigerate it.

Roasting the beets bring out their sweetness, which is essential to this dish. I look for beets with the greens attached because it seems the fresher they are, the sweeter they are. Plus the greens make for an effortless side dish cooked up with chopped onion, seasoning, and olive oil.

First, trim the greens leaving a couple inches of the stalk on the beets. Rinse the beets and poke each one with a knife so they can release steam when they roast. Place the beets in an oven-proof container like a ceramic dish or stainless steel pot with a quarter inch of water and cover tightly with a lid or foil. Pop them in the oven, and depending on size they can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes or more. Check them in about 40 minutes. They should offer no resistance when you pierce them with a paring knife, otherwise keep roasting. Set aside and cool. This can be done a day in advance, just refrigerate the cooled beets.

To assemble the dish make sure the yogurt is nice and thick. It will have lost as least half the water, and will look like soft cream cheese.

Peel the beets, the skin will slip off easily with a little help from a knife, and then grate them and set aside.

Take a peeled clove of garlic and mince. Add a generous pinch of salt and mash the garlic with the flat side of a chef’s knife by swiveling it back and forth. This method turns it into a paste by drawing out the juices, maximizing the garlic flavor. It’s a great technique for flavoring home-made mayonnaise. Just don’t overdo it! Add the garlic, thickened yogurt, chopped dill and a little salt and pepper to the grated beets. Mix well – it will turn a shockingly bright fuchsia. Taste and adjust the seasonings. It might need a few drops of lemon juice for balance. Then put in a clean container and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, pat the salmon dry. If it’s a whole fillet, remove the pin bones with a pair of sturdy tweezers or needlenose pliers. Season the fish on both sides. Meanwhile, place a skillet over medium heat and when hot add a tablespoon of oil. Slip the fish in skin side down and sauté. It should sound like a gentle hiss rather than sputtering and popping. After about 7-8 minutes the side of the fish will start to look cook. Flip the filet. If you want it medium rare, keep it on for 2 minutes more. If you like it cooked most of the way through, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Serve on a platter or oval dish with the beet salad spooned around the salmon and garnish the salmon with chopped dill.

Food  photo by Paul Dunn

2. Watermelon, Heirloom Tomato and Feta Salad

Not too long ago fruit salad referred to a neon blob of Jell-O encrusted with rubbery cubes of canned fruit slathered with a shaving-cream like concoction made with ingredients found in sexual lubricants and hemorrhoid cream.

Those days are thankfully over. Fresh fruit is now featured in all sorts of salads, such as apple, walnut and Roquefort to Southeast Asian green mango and papaya salads to cantaloupe, ricotta salata and arugula to the new classic of beets, oranges, pistachios and goat cheese. Fruit goes especially well with cheese as its acidity cuts through the dairy fat. This preparation technically uses two types of fruit – watermelon and tomatoes—as well as feta to provide salt and ground the dish with deeper flavors and mint ribbons for a cooling burst. Because the fruit deteriorates rapidly, this dish is best made at the last minute and requires no dressing or seasoning other than a few twists of black pepper.

One ripe watermelon
2 medium heirloom tomatoes – very ripe but not mushy
A few stalks of fresh mint
4 oz. good-quality feta cheese
Black pepper

Cut up the watermelon, trimming the peel and white part. Cut into bite-sized cubes until you have 4 to 6 cups, depending on your preference.

Core and cut the two tomatoes into smaller cubes, combine with watermelon in a large serving bowl.

Rinse the mint and pat dry. Remove the leaves and make a neat stack. Using a sharp knife, slice into thin ribbons. (This is known as chiffonade.)

Crumble the feta over the watermelon, toss gently to combine. Add some fresh-cracked pepper if desired, sprinkle the mint ribbons on top and serve immediately.

Kale photo by Paul Dunn

3. Massaged Kale Salad with Green Apples, Blue Cheese, Red Onions, Currants, Sunflower Seeds, Cider Vinegar, and EVOO

Kale is a vegetable I would dutifully eat, but did not love. Until I tried this salad. The recipe is adapted from the original found in Cynthia Lair’s Feeding the Whole Family. The components are yummy on their own, but together they soar harmoniously in a symphony of color, texture and flavor. It’s crunchy, sweet, bitter, creamy, sharp, floral, fruity and nutty all at once. Unlike most salads, this one keeps a day or so because the acids prevent the apple from spoiling and “massaging” the kale with salt effectively cooks it, so it’s already wilted. Lovers of blue cheese will go nuts for this salad because you can indulge without feeling guilty, and you can experiment with different cheeses; I prefer Stilton instead of the Gorgonzola originally used in this recipe.

1 large bunch kale
2 whole apples, Granny Smith is a good choice for this
4 oz. blue cheese (such as Gorgonzola or Stilton)
1/4 C. roasted sunflower seeds
1/3 C. red onion
1/3 C. black currants or raisins
1½ Tbs. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt

Wash, pat dry and de-stem the kale leaves. Stack them up and slice across, creating ribbons. In a bowl, sprinkle the salt over the kale leaves, and using both hands rub together. After about 5 minutes the leaves will be soft and wilted. If there’s any liquid in the bowl, drain and set the kale aside. Dice the red onion. Core and dice the apple. Add the onion and apple to the salad and sprinkle with the cider vinegar. Add the currants or raisins. Dice or crumble the cheese over the salad. Add the olive oil and toss, making sure to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Brussels Sprouts photo by Paul Dunn

4. Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lardons

Roasting vegetables is one of my cold-weather comforts, a way to warm the kitchen as hot food warms the belly. But I also enjoy it year round. In the springtime I toss pencil-thin asparagus under the broiler for a few minutes. In the height of summer roasting corn on a stovetop or tomatoes in the oven brings the aroma of the country to the city.

As the leaves change color, I roast squashes, carrots, beets, fennel, parsnips and whatever else the harvest brings in. Roasted Brussels sprouts are a favorite fall vegetable because I love watching how childhood distaste for the odiferous boiled version can turn into sheer pleasure at discovering the nutty-sweet exterior contrasting with a meltingly soft interior.

I prefer stalks bearing dozens of knobby sprouts as you can keep them fresh for a week or more just by sticking the cut end in cold water. I usually toss Brussels sprouts with extra-virgin olive oil, season them, and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet. In this instance I jazzed them up with lardons, slivers of gently fried bacon that make everything taste better.

1½ lbs. or one stalk of brussel sprouts
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper
2 oz. chunk of slab bacon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Trim the Brussels sprouts of loose leaves. If the bottoms of the sprouts are brown or large, trim them. Cut any large ones in half. Toss with one to two tablespoons of the oil. Less is more when it comes to oiling vegetables for roasting—you just want a thin coat. Season with salt and pepper, toss again and lay out on a baking dish or sheet.

Most grocery stores sell slab bacon or you can ask behind the counter for a chunk. I like slab bacon because it’s uncut and unpackaged, meaning it’s fresher.

To make lardons slice the bacon about a ¼ inch thick. Put in a pan over low heat. When it comes to cooking bacon you’re not really frying, you’re rendering the fat, which means you want it to melt slowly. This avoids those burned bits, while allowing it to cook up perfectly.

Be patient and let it sizzle quietly, tossing occasionally until they are cooked to your liking. As for the Brussels sprouts, check them after 30 minutes and shake the baking dish so all sides can cook evenly. Check every 15 minutes thereafter, shaking again. As with most dishes, your nose and eyes will let you know when it’s done, but taste one just to make sure.

Potato Latkes

5. Potato Latkes with Salmon Roe, Sour Cream, and Chives

I discovered how to make salmon roe by accident. While wandering through the magnificent farmers market at Portland State University, I came across Simon Sampson sitting in a lawn chair behind a white folding table displaying bins of whole salmon, fillets, smoked salmon and to my surprise and delight, plastic bags full of salmon eggs. When Simon told me they were $10 a pound I was sold. I felt like I stumbled on a secret gold mine as salmon roe can cost ten times as much when purchased in stores.

At home I tried to scrape eggs out of the membrane with a spoon but they hung fast. I applied more pressure and eggs popped. Finally I shoved my face into the whole skein and bit off a few eggs. They tasted like salmon but lacked the full flavor of roe. I sheepishly realized that of course they wouldn’t pack a salty kick; the eggs were harvested from a live fish just the day before, not from a caviar plant. A little Googling explained that turning the roe into caviar was no more difficult than brining the skeins of eggs, soaking them in warm water, and then massaging the eggs out of the membrane.

A word about salt. If you don’t have kosher salt, you should. It doesn’t have the chemical flavors of table salt, and is not any more expensive. Plus its large size makes it easier to use when salting dishes. One important fact to know is that table salt crystals are much smaller, so you get twice the salt per volume. In other words, if you use table salt to make the brine below cut the amount in half.

Salmon roe, 1 pound or more
½ cup kosher salt or ¼ cup table salt
A clean glass or stainless steel bowl big enough to hold the salmon roe and filled with warm water, about 110 degrees
Another bowl filled with cool water
A mesh strainer
A clean jar and lid large enough to store the caviar

Fill a bowl with cool water, either filtered or tap, add the salt and dissolve completely. Add the salmon roe and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes depending on how salty you’d like the caviar. When the time is up fill a second bowl with warm water, remove the roe from the brine and put in the warm water. Reserve the brine. Pick up one skein and using your fingertips massage the eggs carefully back and forth in the warm water. You’ll do this for a while and it will seem like nothing is happening. It’s hard to see the eggs because the water will be cloudy, but after five minutes or so the skein will feel smaller. That’s because it’s releasing the eggs. Keep massaging until all the eggs are released. Continue with the remaining egg sacs. Carefully drain the water and nudge the eggs into the strainer. Splash with cool water to rinse and remove any bits of membrane. Taste the caviar and if you’d like it saltier, add it to the brine for up to ten minutes more. When done fill the jar and enjoy!

Potato latkes are a staple of Hanukkah parties, but they’re so easy to prepare they make a great dish for any large gathering. There are a few techniques that have become standard in the latke-making world to ensure you wind up with a perfectly crispy exterior and a pillowy flavorful interior. There are shortcuts, and the result will be perfectly fine, but if you follow these steps your latkes will make your bubbe kvell. First, use baking potatoes, also known as Russets or Idaho, as their starchy content is ideal for this recipe. The secret to this dish is to remove as much water as possible from the potatoes, which ensures they are light and crisp. Many recipes suggest using a grater attachment on a food processor, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But using a box grater will make thinner flakes of potato that stick together better and give up more moisture.

Once grated the potatoes are allowed to soak in ice water to crisp them up while helping to remove starch that gets added back in. Then when you fry them, use enough oil and make sure it’s fresh. It may not be health food, but it’s much better for you than a burger-fries-soda combo. Also, oil goes stale relatively quickly, so very first thing is give your oil a whiff before you start to make sure it hasn’t gone off. Finally, as you fry the latkes in batches, put the cooked ones on a baking tray lined with paper towels in an oven set to low. This will help crisp them up and draw out excess oil. Even better, if you have it, is to put them on a cookie rack on a baking sheet. This way the bottoms will be just as crisp as the top

2½ lbs. Russets, peeled
Salt and pepper
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 medium yellow onion
Vegetable oil
Salmon roe
Sour cream or crème fraiche
Minced chives
Box grater or food processor
Colander
Two large bowls, one filled half way with cold water with lots of ice
Clean dish towel
Large skillet, cast iron or non-stick work best for this
Slotted spatula, a fish spatula works great for this
Baking sheet and mesh rack

Grate the peeled potatoes and add to the ice water. Let sit for 30 minutes. Cut the onion in half and grate as well, set aside. Line the colander with a clean, damp dish towel.

Using a slotted spoon remove all the grated potatoes and put in the dish towel. Save the potato water. Gather up the ends and wring by twisting it hard to extract as much water as possible. Add to a bowl with the eggs, onion a ½ Tbs. of salt and fresh pepper to taste. After 10 minutes, drain the potato water slowly. There will be a thick white paste at the bottom. This is the potato starch. Add the potato mix back into this bowl and mix thoroughly. (You can also grate a few garlic cloves into the mix if you like.)

The amount of salt is on the low side, so test the batch by frying up a tiny pancake and add more seasoning to taste if desired. When you’re done adjusting, heat the oven to 200 degrees and put the sheet tray in there with the paper towels or mesh rack. Put the skillet over medium-high heat. When hot add about a ¼ inch of vegetable oil. Make sure your hands are clean. Put a little less than half a cup of the mix between your hands and squeeze out any excessive water while forming it into a puck shape flat on both sides. It’s important to keep them small so the inside cooks as well from the heat. Slip into the pan, and keep adding new ones until the pan is full but not crowded. It’s very important the latkes have a little space between them. If they are too close they will steam, making their texture soggy. As most stoves and skillets have hot spots use your senses. Listen for a moderate sizzle. Keep an eye on the sides as in a few minutes they will start to color. And use your nose to gauge when it is starting to smell done. It about four to six minutes slip the ones frying the most actively. Ideally they should be a deep golden-brown color. Fry on the other side for two to four minutes, and then transfer to the oven.

When done, top the latkes with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche, a spoonful of salmon roe and some minced chives. You can also serve the toppings on the side in bowls and let guests help themselves.

The latkes also go with homemade applesauce, which involves peeling coring and chopping a couple of pounds of apples, putting them in a pot with a half inch of water or apple cider, which keeps the apples from sticking, covering the pot and simmering on low heat until completely soft, and then whisking for a few seconds until smooth. There’s no need for sugar if you throw some sweet apple varieties into the mix, but you can add a cinnamon stick or a couple of cloves to spice it up.

6. Sauteed Mushrooms

This dish is all about umami, the Japanese term for the fifth recognized flavor (after sour, salty, bitter and sweet). Umami translates as savor, delicious or satisfying. It’s the complex richness behind many dishes, and is essential to whole cuisines from China and Japan to France and Italy to the Americas. Umami is a glutamate, an amino acid that combines in synergy with other naturally occurring compounds, which are found in a vast number of foods like anchovy paste, aged cheeses, meat stocks, seaweed, sauerkraut, ketchup, soy sauce and mushrooms. It’s used extensively in processed foods, and Doritos is often termed an “Umami Bomb” for all the types loaded into it. (While there’s a lot of internet hype about allergies to monosodium glutamate, a processed form of naturally occurring glutamates, decades of scientific studies have found no link between MSG and adverse health effects.)

This is one of my solutions to beating the junk-food industry at its own game. Cook up a big batch and keep it in the fridge. It’s great on its own, with pasta, a crusty bread, with scrambled eggs, tofu, meats, it can be used in sauces, as a basis for stews and soups, and it can easily be made vegetarian or vegan without sacrificing any flavor (except for the butter). Try this and you’ll realize it’s a tastier and healthier way to satisfy cravings for all sorts of salty snacks.

The main principle here is reduction and concentration of flavor. If this seems like too much, first try the basic recipe – the mushrooms, butter, shallots and seasoning – and the next time add a few or all of the other components to see how a delicious dish becomes something great. This is a lot of mushrooms, but they release lots of water. The final product is modest in size, but audacious in flavor.

2 lbs. mushrooms white button, but you can also use cremini and baby bellas. It’s a waste to use fancy mushrooms like morels, shiitake or chanterelles.

Trim stems and clean dirt off with a damp towel, then cut into small half slices

1 medium shallot, minced
1 medium clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs. cold, unsalted butter (or extra virgin olive oil if you prefer)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, remove large stems
1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2-3 oz. white wine

Use these two ingredients to kick the flavor into another dimension

2 tsp. concentrated chicken or mushroom stock dissolved in 1 cup hot water

I use “ Better than Bouillon .” If you do use a concentrate, most of which are heavily salted, go very light on adding salt initially so as not to overdo it by the end.

1-2 tsp. dried mushroom powder, available at many specialty grocers and health-food stores

Stir this into the cup of stock

With this dish, a little technique matters. Chefs will tell you not to crowd the pan when cooking mushrooms as they will steam, making them rubbery. That’s true, but cooking two pounds of chopped mushrooms a few at a time will take all day, and a lot of butter to boot. What I do is chop the mushrooms caps in half and then into quarter-inch slices, so they are all small regular pieces. They will still be a little chewy when done, but many will also have a crispy side to them.

If you don’t have a pan that will fit all these mushrooms, then cut the recipe in half or do in two batches.

Put the largest sauté pan you have on the stove over medium heat. Give the pan a minute and add 2 Tbs. butter and wait until it’s melted and frothing. Add the minced shallots and sauté for a minute or so. Then add the mushrooms, some fresh cracked pepper, the chopped thyme and a little salt, more if you aren’t using a concentrated stock. The mushrooms should actively sizzle, but not sputter or pop. Shake the pan occasionally so the mushrooms cook evenly.

At one point they will start to give off a lot of liquid. You can turn the heat up a little to help evaporate it, but when it starts to reduce, turn the heat back down. Keep cooking until the mushrooms are developing a nice cooked aroma and exterior. Try one to test its flavor, it should be under-salted. When they are nearly done, add the white wine, scrape any bits sticking to the pan. This will add more flavor.

Then, add the stock. Now you can leave it on for 10-20 seconds to let the flavors mingle, or let it reduce by half. It depends on how thick you would like the sauce. Turn off the heat, and add 1 Tbs. cold butter. Swirl until melted and combine with the liquid. Remove from heat, check seasonings and adjust. Scrape into a bowl, making sure to get all those delicious juices and garnish with chopped parsley.

Eat with pasta or bread or eggs or save for some other preparation.

Cod photo by Paul Dunn

7. Black Cod

Many species of fresh fish are delicate kitchen creatures that require a light touch rather than brute heat. Sablefish, better known as Black Cod, is packed with healthy Omega-3 oils that provide a luxurious texture as long as you cook it gently. I sauté it in a little butter for added flavor, while complementing it with oceanic elements like salty, crunchy sea beans and a white wine clam sauce. In this dish I serve it over smashed roasted potatoes and a side dish of sautéed mushrooms, which melds together like a pine forest rolling down to the sea.

2 lbs. Black Cod
¾ C dry white wine
1 lb. Manilla clams, about 40-50
2 lbs. new potatoes or fingerlings
1 large shallot, minced, about 1/3 C
Extra virgin olive oil
Butter
1 C heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ lb. Sea beans
1 C water, fish or vegetable stock, or clam juice
Equipment
Saute pan
A couple of pots – a large one and small one
Bowls, including one for an ice bath
Roasting dish

Preheat the oven the 400 degrees. Wash the potatoes, removing any dirt and dry them. If they are larger than fingerlings, prick them with a fork to help them release steam while cooking. Coat lightly with about 1-2 Tbs. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in baking dish and roast until done.

When purchasing the clams, tap them together to see if they’re alive. If they are, the clams will shut their shells. Keep the clams in the fringe in an open bowl to keep them alive. Rinse them under cold water, cleaning any grit. Check again quickly to see if they are still alive, discard any whose shells remain open. Place in a pot over medium heat with the white wine and shallots. Add the water, but use stock or clam juice if you have it. Bring to a boil and steam for 5 to 8 minutes until the shells are open. Take out the clams, leaving the shallots in the liquid. Shell the clams and refrigerate the meat; discard any clams that remain closed.

Now, let the liquid sit for 10 minutes. Slowly pour it into a small stock pot. At the bottom will be some grit, which you don’t want, so discard the last bit of stock and wine. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce to about a quarter cup, 2 oz. It will taste strong and salty, but that’s okay. Set aside.

For the sea beans, rinse under cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch them for 20-30 seconds and immediately transfer to the ice bath. Once cooled, remove, drain and save in fridge.

For the black cod, pat dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over low-medium heat. Add 2 Tbs. butter and let it melt and become a bit frothy, but don’t let it brown. Add the fish, skin side down. Saute for about 5 minutes, and then flip. The key here is the fish should be barely cooked through, which will make it meltingly tender. Once you remove the fish it will continue to cook a little longer, which is why a delicate touch here matters.

When you put the fish in the pan, put the small stockpot with the stock reduction back on the stove and heat until hot, but don’t let it come to a boil. Add half the heavy cream, let it heat through and taste. Adjust the seasonings if necessary. If too sharp or pungent, add more cream until it reaches desired flavor.

To plate, place the cooked fish in the center of a large platter and surround with the sea beans. You can also put the whole potatoes around the edges or smash them a little bit and pass them around in a bowl on the side. Sprinkle the clams on top of the fish, nap everything with the cream sauce and enjoy!

Pork Tenderloin photo by Paul Dunn

8. Pork tenderloin with five-spice powder, grilled peaches, goat cheese, pistachios and goats milk caramel
This incredibly simple but delicious dish was inspired by the Portland farmers market. Liz Alvis, owner of the three-year-old Portland Creamery, suggested drizzling some of her Cajeta, a traditional Mexican goats-milk caramel, on peaches stuffed with her mild goat cheese. It sounded like an excellent companion for pork, and nearby Liz’s booth I discovered Pono Farms. Erik Olson, who manages one of the rancher’s three farms in Bend, Oregon, showed me a pork tenderloin that was so deep red it verged on purple. “It’s how pork should be,” Erik said, not the pallid dry lump that’s the new normal. Breeding for lean meat has so sapped pork of its flavor that an estimated 90 percent of factory-farmed pork products are injected with liquid to keep it moist during cooking.

To round out the dish I decided a little Chinese five-spice powder would add complexity to the pork while being balanced by the peaches, and pistachio nuts would add pleasing visual, taste and texture elements.

Whole pork tenderloin trimmed, about 2½ pounds
Small-batch caramel like Cajeta
3 oz. fresh goat cheese
4 to 5 medium peaches, ripe
2 oz. roasted unsalted pistachio nuts chopped
Salt to taste
½ Tbs. Chinese five-spice powder, which is a mix of ground cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel and Szechuan peppercorns.
(Usually I make my own, it’s easy to do and the volatile oils are most flavorful when the spices are just ground, but I was also able to find quality five-spice powder at Penzeys, a highly regarded spice shop.)

You can roast this in the oven or on a grill. The quality of pork makes all the difference as it’s the star. You can prepare the pork up to 12 hours in advance. Since you’re working with raw meat, it’s all about hygiene. Have everything you need ready so you’re not rooting through the pantry with germ-covered hands. First, measure the salt and five-spice powder in little bowls. Also have a large Ziploc bag or large piece of plastic wrap ready. Take out the tenderloin and put it on a clean surface. Pat it dry with paper towels and rub salt and the powder into it. The spice has an intense flavor so use it sparingly. Wrap the pork securely in plastic wrap or place in the baggie and refrigerate from a couple of hours to overnight. When you’re ready to cook the pork preheat the oven to 450 degrees or bring the grill to the same temperature. You’ll need a meat thermometer, pair of tongs, foil and a clean dish to put the finished pork into – don’t use the one that held the raw pork.

Grill for about 15 minutes, turning every two or three minutes to get a nice color on all the sides. Test the pork in a couple of places with the thermometer, going deep into the meat. When it hits 140 degrees you’re done. Follow the same method if cooking in the oven.

Place the tenderloin in the clean dish, cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes so it reabsorbs the juices. Next, cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Place the peach halves around the edges of a serving platter big enough to also hold the pork. Place a small scoop of goat cheese into each peach. Drizzle generously with the caramel. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and slice into half-inch thick medallions. Place in the center of the platter and sprinkle the chopped pistachios over everything. Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Carrots photo by Paul Dunn

9. Roasted Carrots with Cardamom

This dish is inspired by a breakfast treat my mom would make when I was a kid, a sweetened carrot confection spiked with almonds, golden raisins and cardamom seeds. The floral spiciness of the cardamom seeds match wonderfully with the sugary grassy flavor of carrots. Now, in terms of buying cardamom, it’s best to purchase them at Indian or Middle Eastern food stores – which are good places to buy spices because of their low cost and high quality. Buy the green whole cardamom pods as they have the most flavor and store in a jar. Cardamom can last for years in a cool, dark place and the spice has a broad range of applications, from breads and meats to sauces and sweets.

2 lb. whole unpeeled carrots
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
A dozen green cardamom pods
Baking tray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I like organic carrots because they are relatively inexpensive, and you don’t have to peel them, saving time and getting all those nutrients in the skin. Just clean with a vegetable scrubber in water and pat dry.

Cut them however you like, such as in coins or sticks, but make the carrots the same size as that ensures even roasting. Crack the cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Spread the cut carrots on the baking tray in a single layer. If you stack the carrots they will take much longer to roast as they’re steaming, instead of developing a nice roasted-brown flavor and hue.

Sprinkle with the seeds, the salt and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Mix to coat thoroughly, but don’t use too much oil as that will mask the flavor.

Place in oven and roast for about 20 minutes before tossing. Check again in 20 minutes and toss again. Someone’s got to test the carrots, so taste them to see if they have a nice caramelized flavor. This is a very forgiving recipe as you can roast them for a while and determine what depth of flavor you prefer by smell and taste.

Desserts photo by Paul Dunn

10. Crème Chantilly

This is just fancy-speak for sweetened whipped cream. The addition of the sugar helps stabilize the cream so you can save any extra in the fridge. You can also choose different flavorings than vanilla extract, such as mint extract, orange extract, spirits like brandy or rum, coffee or nut-based liqueurs. Keep the amount about the same, but go wild!

2 cups whipping cream, very cold
2-3 Tbs. powdered or granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract or flavoring of your choice
Large bowl
Electric hand beater

Place the bowl and beater attachments in the fridge for 20 minutes. Ensuring everything is cold ensures the cream beats up quickly. I will often put the cream in the freezer for 10 minutes just to ensure it’s extra cold.

Pour the cream in the bowl. Add 2 Tbs. sugar, you can add more at the end to taste. Using a hand beater or mixing stand, beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. That means when you lift up the beater the whipped cream will form peaks that curl slightly. Add the vanilla extract and more sugar if desired. You can whip to stiff peaks, which stand up straight, but stop there so as to not turn the cream into butter.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to spoon generously over your favorite baked goodie.

I have a secret to confess. Many chefs steal their recipes. Or as we like to say in the business, “adapt.” You see, there’s all sorts of great recipes already out there. It’s why no one wants to listen to covers of The Beatles or see a remake of A Streetcar Named Desire. You can’t improve upon the original. No big revelation there, but my secret is that some of my recipes are adapted from commercial food companies. No one knows the chemistry of their products better, and the recipes tend to be thoroughly tested.

What does this have to do with making a cobbler? Well, I’ve been searching for a great cobbler recipe for years, and have never found one. Anyone can buy ripe fruit and cut it up. The batter makes all the difference. They range from pie-like crumbles to dry biscuit-toppings to a granola-like coating. In my opinion, a cobbler should be a bit chewy, buttery and sweet as it provides the contrast to the warm, soft fruit it’s hugging.

I’m still searching for a great recipe, so please email me if you have one! But in the meantime I’ve found this Land O Lakes recipe turns out an easy-to-make and delicious cobbler that won’t last long. The one thing I changed it to dramatically reduce the sugar sprinkled over the fruit from three-fourths of a cup to a few tablespoons. There’s plenty of sugar in the dough, and I prefer to let the fruit unadorned except for a little sugar to enhance the flavors.

10 cups combined of sliced fresh peaches and raspberries or blackberries
2-3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. fresh ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Lasagna dish, about 13” x 9”

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the slice peaches in the dish and if using berries, spread about evenly. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and ½ tsp. cinnamon.

In a separate bowl add all the dry ingredients, the flour, remaining cinnamon, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the two eggs and using a hand beater mix until combined. It should be crumbly. Spread evenly over the apples and pour melted butter over the batter.

Bake for 25 minutes and then rotate. Bake another 25 minutes and check. This is best done with a toothpick, but also go by the smell of the fruit and batter, and look for a rich golden brown topping. Cool for 15 minutes and serve with Crème Chantilly or ice cream of your choice.

11. Peach-Berry Cobbler

I have a secret to confess. Many chefs steal their recipes. Or as we like to say in the business, “adapt.” You see, there’s all sorts of great recipes already out there. It’s why no one wants to listen to covers of The Beatles or see a remake of A Streetcar Named Desire. You can’t improve upon the original. No big revelation there, but my secret is that some of my recipes are adapted from commercial food companies. No one knows the chemistry of their products better, and the recipes tend to be thoroughly tested.

What does this have to do with making a cobbler? Well, I’ve been searching for a great cobbler recipe for years, and have never found one. Anyone can buy ripe fruit and cut it up. The batter makes all the difference. They range from pie-like crumbles to dry biscuit-toppings to a granola-like coating. In my opinion, a cobbler should be a bit chewy, buttery and sweet as it provides the contrast to the warm, soft fruit it’s hugging.

I’m still searching for a great recipe, so please email me if you have one! But in the meantime I’ve found this Land O Lakes recipe turns out an easy-to-make and delicious cobbler that won’t last long. The one thing I changed it to dramatically reduce the sugar sprinkled over the fruit from three-fourths of a cup to a few tablespoons. There’s plenty of sugar in the dough, and I prefer to let the fruit unadorned except for a little sugar to enhance the flavors.

10 cups combined of sliced fresh peaches and raspberries or blackberries
2-3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. fresh ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
10 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Lasagna dish, about 13” x 9"

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the slice peaches in the dish and if using berries, spread about evenly. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of sugar and ½ tsp. cinnamon.

In a separate bowl add all the dry ingredients, the flour, remaining cinnamon, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the two eggs and using a hand beater mix until combined. It should be crumbly. Spread evenly over the apples and pour melted butter over the batter.

Bake for 25 minutes and then rotate. Bake another 25 minutes and check. This is best done with a toothpick, but also go by the smell of the fruit and batter, and look for a rich golden brown topping. Cool for 15 minutes and serve with Crème Chantilly or ice cream of your choice.

Apple Pie photo by Paul Dunn

12. Deep-Dish Apple Pie
Pie is one of those desserts everyone loves, but most people are intimidated to try making. And too often many people opt for store-brought pie crusts that lack the flavor and love of a real homemade pie. I’m here to tell you making pie is, well, as easy as pie, once you learn the basics and a few secrets.

5 pounds baking apples like Granny Smith
1 whole lemon
6 oz. (¾ C) dark brown sugar
1 tsp. fresh-ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. cornstarch
10.5 oz. (2 ½ C) unbleached all-purpose flour
8 oz. (two sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup ice-cold water – put ice cubes in the water and keep very cold
1 egg yolk
Milk or cream
Pie dish, preferably deep
Rolling pin – but you can use a clean wine bottle in a pinch
Box grater
Plastic wrap

Aluminum foil
Pastry brush
Fork

This recipe is detailed to let you know what can go wrong, and why these techniques matter. This is in fact an easy dessert to make, and after a few times you’ll be able to whip out pie crusts with ease. When making the crust everything must be cold, which means touching the dough as little as possible. The water has to be ice cold. Measure the flour and sift it into the bowl with the salt. Refrigerate about 30 minutes until cold. Sifting helps the flour absorb the water. Secret #1 is weight is always better than volume than baking since it’s much more exact. Secret #2 is to freeze the butter, which I prefer over shortening because if you’re going to be eating pie it might as well have that rich buttery flavor.

Using the wrapper, grate the butter into the flour using the large holes. This creates thousands of flakes of butter that will get incorporated into the dough in solid form, making a truly flaky crust without the fuss of trying to cut the butter into the dough with knives or a food processor. Use the fork to toss the grated butter into the flour, not your hands. This keeps the butter from melting. Since everything is heating up, put the bowl back in the fridge or freezer for 5 to 10 minutes. Next, sprinkle ¼ C of the ice water into the flour-butter mixture, tossing with the fork to moisten evenly. Add water one tablespoon at a time, allowing the flour time to absorb the water. Check the dough by pinching it. You should be able to gather it into a ball, but it will barely hold together. The total amount of water you will use will be half a cup or less. Using a fork or two prevents you from overhandling the dough, which will melt the butter and activate the gluten, making it tough. Divide into two even balls, form into rounds, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.

When you’re ready to make the pie, have the rolling pin and pie dish ready. Take out one crust, dust a clean counter – away from the stove, heat is the enemy! – with a little flour and start to roll out the dough. Always roll from the center, but don’t roll over the edges. It will be a little hard at first, but it will quickly get easier. Try to keep the crust in a circular shape. If it starts to heat up, put on a plate back in the fridge. You can check to see if the crust is big enough by placing the pie dish upside down in the center of the dough. Then you can see if it will overhang enough to make a good crust on the edge. When you’re done rolling brush off the excess flour. Secret #3 is to fold the dough in half so it’s a semicircle, and then in half again so it’s a wedge. This way you won’t tear the dough when picking it up, placing it in the center of the pie dish and unfolding to drape completely. Often one section is too big and another too small, so I just take a paring knife to cut off the excess and use it to patch up the bald spot. Make sure to press the crust up against the sides of the pie dish, and refrigerate again.

Now for the apples. First, if you have a spice grinder, make your own cinnamon powder. It takes a minute and the flavor is incomparable. Cut the lemon in half, you can also zest the peel first, just wash it with a little warm soapy water, rinse and dry. The zest adds a nice touch to the filling.

Using a melon baller (Secret #4), scoop out the stem and bottom of all the apples, and then peel them. Cut in half and using the melon baller again, remove the core. It’s much quicker and cleaner than using a knife. Cut into wedges the same size, up to half an inch thick. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent them from browning. As soon as you are done cutting the apples, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, corn starch and zest if using. You can also add a pinch of salt if you like. Toss gently to coat and set aside. Take the pie dish with the crust out of the fridge. Pour in the apples, they will form a huge mound. That’s fine because they will cook down considerably, and will leave the crust crammed with delicious apples.
Roll out the second pie crust, making sure it’s big enough to fit over the apples and brush off the excess flour. Fold into a wedge and place over the apples. Now when forming the crust, firmly pinch the two edges together until they hold tight. You can also brush one edge with a little water, but there is no need to if you just make a tight seal. Make an egg wash with the yolk and brush the top completely with the wash, which will give it a shiny golden hue. Cut a few decorative slits into the top crust, which will prevent it from becoming soggy. Take two thin strips of foil and form a collar around the edge of the crust. This will prevent it from becoming hard and brown. Just remove the foil about 10 to 15 minutes before it’s done.
Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees for about an hour. Place a sheet tray under the pie to catch any juices that overflow. Bake for about an hour. One of the reasons I love making pie is because it engages all your senses as it bakes from the sound of the bubbling juices to the crust taking on a golden-brown shade to the smell that will tell you when it’s done.

There are of course hundreds of variations on this recipe: you can add other spices like a little ground cloves or nutmeg, chopped walnuts or pecans, raisins, sprinkle a little flour and sugar on the bottom crust to keep it from becoming soggy, make it open-faced, a lattice or a crumble on top. Serve it with ice cream, caramel, whipped cream or cheddar cheese. Get the basic recipe down, and then make it your own, and your friends and family will keep coming back for more.


Arun Gupta compiled these recipes for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media outlet fusing powerful ideas and practical actions. Arun has been a Lannan Foundation writing fellow, co-founded the Indypendent newspaper and The Occupied Wall Street Journal and is a regular contributor to In These Times, The Progressive, Truthout, and The Guardian.

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