Southwest Turkey Burgers

The trick to making a delicious turkey burger is to season it well. Ground turkey is lower in fat than beef, which also means it doesn’t have enough flavor to stand on its own. This recipe adds chili powder and cumin to give the burger a Southwestern kick. The end result was so good!

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Crushed tortilla chips replace breadcrumbs as a binder, making this recipe gluten free. Instead of using a gluten free bun, I wrapped the burgers in lettuce and topped them with grilled onions, salsa and guacamole. I skipped the corn because I served this with my black bean and corn salad on the side.

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This meal completely satisfied my craving for Tex-Mex, and was much healthier than the beef alternative. Enjoy!

Southwest Turkey Burgers with Corn Salsa

Bon Appétit

California Chicken Tacos with Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw

In a moment of confidence I decided to master the grill. Last weekend I made my first-ever attempt at grilling and it was a success! Bolstered by my ability to grill simple vegetable and pre-made chicken skewers, I felt undaunted by this recipe, which calls for a whole grilled chicken. I may have been overconfident. This required an entirely different level of grilling skills, but with a second chance and some coaching from my dad over the phone, the end result was a smoky, tender, perfectly grilled chicken.

the lime and salt tenderize the chicken

the lime and salt tenderize the chicken

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First let me say that the recipe gives you the option of oven roasting or grilling. I chose to grill so I could improve my skills and because I think the smoky flavor is an essential flavor in tacos. The preparation of the chicken is very simple—just slide some lime zest beneath the skin, pour lime juice on the outside, salt and pepper liberally and stuff with the used limes. If you go for the grilling method, you can separate your heated coals to make them line the sides of the grill. Place the chicken in the middle of the grill so it cooks over indirect heat. After the coals are nice and hot, cover the grill with the lid making sure to leave the vents open. A five-pound chicken might take about an hour to cook with this method, and using a meat thermometer will ensure your meat is cooked all the way through. Taking the lid off the grill is the same as opening the oven—it dramatically drops the temperature and will increase cooking time, so try to be patient!

grilled green onions are a tasty side dish

grilled green onions are a tasty side dish

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Heating the tortillas on the grill for about 30 seconds will make them warm and pliable. The simple red cabbage slaw adds freshness, color, and crunch to the tacos. I left out the corn because I used it my black bean and corn salad, which I served as a side dish. A few dashes of Cholula brought a pleasant heat to the meal and brought the other flavors together. I have to say, these were some of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten! 0608141947_resized 0608141947b_resized

California Chicken Tacos with Corn and Red Cabbage Slaw by Linda Burkhart

Food 52            May 2014

Lemon Posset

I have these lovely friends, a couple, who are pretty much good at everything. One is a doctor, the other a nurse. They volunteer in a hospital in Haiti a couple of times a year. They renovated their home, deconstructing the chimney and building skylights with their own hands. They garden, and of course, they cook. And let me be clear—when I say “cook,” I mean one of them trained under a French chef. So when they invite me over for dinner, I always say yes. Then I have a brief moment of panic while I try to decide what to contribute to the meal.

Life has been busy lately, so I decided not to over think it and just make a chocolate espresso pudding I’ve made a few times before. It’s quick, it’s easy, and who doesn’t love chocolate? Sadly, I attempted to make the pudding while I was preparing dinner. My impatience meant that the pudding never thickened properly, and remained a soupy mess even after a full night in the fridge.

Meyer lemons are sweeter and milder than other lemons. Much of the lemon flavor comes from the oils in the skin.

Meyer lemons are sweeter than other lemons. Much of the lemon flavor comes from the oils in the peel.

That’s when I decided to take the risk of making a recipe that had caught my eye—lemon posset. Historically, posset refers to a drink of warm milk curdled with ale or wine, then spiced. Thought to have healing properties, this drink was enjoyed as a cold remedy in medieval England. Today posset more commonly refers to a custard-like dessert. The original recipe has only three ingredients: heavy cream, sugar, and lemon juice. With a recipe this simple I couldn’t resist adding my own little twist. First, I decided to use Meyer lemons. Since Meyer lemons have a more delicate flavor, adding a teaspoon of zest seemed like the best way to ensure the lemon taste would shine through. I also love the combination of lemon and lavender, so I decided to sprinkle the posset with dried lavender flowers just before chilling. I added raspberries just before serving, because it just felt right to incorporate the first local berries of the summer.

let the cream come all the way to a boil, but keep your eye on it so it doesn't boil over

let the cream come all the way to a boil, but keep your eye on it so it doesn’t boil over

This was so delicious that one of my friends licked the bowl! It was a success that bears repeating, except next time I plan to use fresh Oregon blueberries as a complement to the floral note of the lavender. This was the perfect dessert for an early summer dinner with such dear friends. Enjoy!

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Lemon Posset via Food 52

By Mrs. Larkin

Black Bean and Corn Salad

It’s Memorial Day this weekend, and that means celebrating with potlucks and barbeques! I got this salad recipe from my mom and have been using for well over ten years now. It’s just the thing for a warm weather celebration because it’s colorful, filling, and tastes best at room temperature.

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Begin by rinsing two cans of black beans until the water runs clear. Drain them well and place them in a bowl with one can of corn, also well drained. (You can also use fresh corn and dried black beans.) To this add one large diced bell pepper, 3 sliced green onions (white and green parts), ½ pint halved cherry tomatoes or 2-3 chopped of your favorite tomato variety, and a full bunch of chopped cilantro (about ½ cup, or more to taste.) This colorful array of vegetables will be dressed in a lemon vinaigrette. Add five tablespoons of good quality olive oil and six tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss together and let sit for at least one hour at room temperature. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator.

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This can be served as a side salad, as a dip for corn tortilla chips, as a taco filling, or on top of warm quinoa for a satisfying lunch. Enjoy, and happy Memorial Day!

Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries, and Almonds

This strawberry salad made a lovely contribution to my book group’s brunch this month. I wanted to make a salad that tasted summery and looked beautiful, and this recipe did the trick!

sweet strawberries and tender baby greens make up the heart of this summer salad

sweet strawberries and tender baby greens make up the heart of this summer salad

For the greens, I went with a mix of baby spring greens. The strawberries I used were rather large, so I sliced them instead of quartering them. I’m loyal to a mild goat’s milk feta that I love. Goat’s milk is also easier to digest than cow’s milk, so it’s a great alternative for people with sensitivities. (Note: this is not the same as lactose-free, it’s just generally easier to digest.) If you’re nervous about using shallots in the dressing—don’t be. The sharpness of shallots adds a needed contrast to the sweetness of the strawberries. As long as they’re properly minced, you’ll be glad you used them. Soaking sliced shallots in ice water for 10 minutes before mincing them will also lower the intensity if you prefer a milder flavor.

salty-sweet marcona almonds

salty-sweet marcona almonds

Surprisingly, my local grocery store was out of smoked almonds, so after considering my options I decided to go with Marcona almonds. These Spanish almonds are soft and sweet, and typically fried and heavily salted. They added the crunchiness and saltiness that the smoked almonds would have, but I prefer their mildness to the heavy smoky flavor of smoked almonds. They’re also soft enough that my lazy-self didn’t need to chop them first.

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This salad was a cinch to make and good the next day, as long as you keep the dressing on the side until serving. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Baby Lettuces with Feta, Strawberries, and Almonds by Jeff Banker

Food and Wine            June 2012

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

I love pork tenderloin. It’s an easy cut of meat to prepare and pairs well with a wide variety of flavors. It’s also possible to cook quickly and still end up with tender, juicy meat. Because there are only two tenderloins per pig, it can be difficult to source this cut from an ethical ranch. That’s why I was delighted to find some at New Seasons, our local grocery market. This recipe was a great way to celebrate!

the timing of toasting spices depends on their oil content

the timing of toasting spices depends on their oil content

Although the recipe doesn’t call for toasting the coriander seeds and peppercorns, I know that the flavor of spices is significantly enhanced by taking this extra step. It only takes a few minutes in a hot, dry pan to create fragrant whole spices. I ground the spices with a mortar and pestle, then rubbed them into the dijon mustard on the tenderloin. This recipe follows a pretty standard preparation of browning the meat in a skillet and finishing it in the oven. My one amendment to the recipe is to take the pork out of the oven when the internal temperature reaches 145 F. If you wait until it reaches 155, it will be well done and possibly quite tough.

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I served this with a side of kale, which I quickly blanched and then sautéed with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving. It felt like a weekday feast, without the fuss. Enjoy!

Coriander-Crusted Pork Tenderloin by Ellie Krieger

Fine Cooking            Issue 102

Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic, and Dill

This simple recipe is surprisingly flavorful! Lemon, garlic, and dill are a reliably delicious combination. Paillard refers to meat that has been pounded flat. I’m tempted to prepare all of my chicken this way, because it tenderizes the meat and ensures even cooking. If you don’t own a meat mallet (I don’t), a sturdy rolling pin will also do the trick. I used a gluten-free flour blend for the light dusting of flour on the chicken breasts, but you could easily use rice flour instead. Be cautious about other flours on their own—the textures and flavors may create an undesirable result. Chicken broth is used to deglaze the pan. Deglazing can be done with any liquid, but you need cold liquid hitting a hot pan to effectively draw the browned ingredients (also known as fond) from the bottom of the pan.

trim off the woody ends at the base of the asparagus

trim off the woody ends at the base of the asparagus

Adding fresh lemon juice and dill at the end of cooking brightens the dish, and a small amount of butter gives the sauce a silky richness without making it heavy. This healthy one-pan meal only takes thirty minutes to prepare. Fresh asparagus is the perfect ingredient to celebrate Spring. Enjoy!

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Chicken Paillards with Asparagus, Lemon, Garlic, and Dill

Fine Cooking            Issue 129

Mustard Salmon with Cannellini Bean Ragú

This one-dish meal tastes rich and intricate, but takes less than an hour to make. The salmon and cannellini beans are low fat sources of protein, keeping this dish healthy and satisfying despite the flavorful addition of prosciutto.

thyme and tomatoes are a standard pairing for cannellini beans

thyme and tomatoes are a standard pairing for cannellini beans

The recipe starts by simmering the shallots, garlic, tomatoes, and thyme with the beans, enriching them with flavor. The prosciutto brings in some depth and heartiness, balanced nicely by the lemon zest and fresh escarole. This was my first time cooking escarole, and I was pleased with the slight earthiness it added to the ragú. If you can’t find escarole, I have it on good authority that spinach is a suitable substitute. (Thanks for the tip, mom!)

escarole!

escarole!

Broiling the salmon as instructed cooked our filets exactly to medium. I didn’t bother with using two different mustards because I enjoy the spiciness of Dijon, but if you prefer something subtler I would recommend following the recipe exactly. Mustard is also an ingredient that you need to double check for gluten. Mustard flour contains wheat and is sometimes added to prepared mustard. I like Annie’s Naturals Dijon, which is labeled gluten free.

Actual cooking time is less than 15 minutes, so if you get the salmon in the oven while the beans are still simmering you can eat in under half an hour. Ben and I prepared this meal together, and it was a quick and easy recipe with the aid of a sous-chef. It was also delicious! This healthy, but decadent, preparation of salmon will definitely make it to my table again.

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Mustard Salmon with Cannellini Bean Ragú by Giada de Laurentis

Food and Wine May 2014

Harira

Harira is a traditional Moroccan stew made with chickpeas, lentils, and meat. This lamb version comes from the Toro Bravo cookbook, and it seemed like just the dish for a rainy Portland Spring evening. The recipe begins by sautéing shallots, parsley, and cilantro in olive oil. Although fresh herbs are typically tossed in towards the end of cooking, Moroccan dishes cook them up at the beginning to create a base of flavor. Next you add a mixture of fresh chopped ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, and saffron and stir for about a minute until the spices release their fragrance. (Moroccan cooking doesn’t benefit from substituting smoked paprika—the smokiness would overpower the other spices.) Add in the onions and lamb and stir until the lamb is cooked and the seasonings are fully incorporated into the meat. Finally, add in rinsed brown lentils, chickpeas, and high quality chicken broth and simmer for about an hour, or until the lentils are tender.

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Finish the stew off by adding the juice of one lemon and ¼ chopped preserved lemon peel. Preserved lemon is a beautiful, very flavorful ingredient. Be sure to remove the pulp and pith—the rind will give you the flavor you need without the bitterness.

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At Toro Bravo, an unforgettably delicious Spanish tapas restaurant in Portland, this dish is served with buttermilk cheese and homemade flatbread. To keep it simple and gluten free I served it with brown rice and a sour, plain Greek yogurt. It may not rival the restaurant original, but it was delectable enough for me!

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Harira via Culinate

Toro Bravo Cookbook by Liz Crain and John Gorham

Principles of Healthy Eating

 I’m not interested in fad diets. I would never give up gluten if my body would let me digest it, and I think any weight-loss based eating plan that involves cutting out an entire food group is a little bit crazy. There are many great reasons to avoid certain foods—from allergies to ethics—but just as many not-so-great reasons. I believe that the best nutrition comes from whole foods, healthy fats, and eating a varied diet. Our bodies are different and there is no single diet that will work for everyone, but there are some basic principles that I eat and live by.

Some fat is good for you. Healthy sources of fat, such as nuts, olive oil, avocado, and lean fish and meats will always be staples in my diet.

Minimized processed foods. Whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooking from scratch increase the nutrition in what you eat and limits your exposure to strange ingredients, chemicals, and food dyes.

Listen to your body. I do my best to eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. By paying attention to how you feel after you eat, you can identify which foods give you a natural boost of energy and keep you feeling good.

Try new things! A varied diet may increase the healthy microbes in your gut, and it certainly increases the odds that you will get more essential nutrients from the food that you eat without relying on vitamins, which aren’t absorbed as efficiently as food.

Indulge (a little.) I eat a few squares of dark chocolate every day. It satisfies my craving for something sweet and keeps me from feeling deprived, which can lead to overindulging.

This is what works for me. It keeps my relationship to food fun and balanced, and keeps my body feeling healthy and strong. I hope you discover what works for you. If you have anything to add, please share in the comments!