The Feast

The Holidays in my family, like many other families, centers around food. It's our excuse to get a little crazy, over indulgent, experimental, and traditional. Turns out this Christmas Holiday won't be any different. Brother is bringing a pork loin, Dad is roasting duck, Husband is contemplating Elk steak. The side dishes will all be superior, home raised root vegetables that have been carefully stored. Homemade wine from the vines on the property and Ma has been baking like a mad woman. One of the highlights will be the the pigs my father raised this year. They are cut, wrapped and smoked, safely tucked away in the freezer. I suppose while most folks have visions of sugar plums dancing in their head, my visions tend toward smoked ham hocks dancing with navy beans and some bay leaf!

What won't be in the freezer very long is the ground pork butt. Growing up in Southern New England one of my favorite snacks was Gortons (pronounce "gah-tones"). I'm not talking about the famous fish sticks but a uniquely French Canadian dish. There was usually a pan of Gortons in our refrigerator and while other kids came home and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches after school, I would have Gortons on toast. It is a delicious combination of ground pork, onions and spices, simmered and cooled. It is best served cold on toast or crackers. While I loved it growing up, now I'll serve this recipe as a fantastic "rustic" French appetizer for a cocktail party. It is excellent with a good red wine.

Memere's Gortons
(I usually double this recipe...because I just love it!)

1 lb lean ground pork (butt or shoulder)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried savory or sage
2 med yellow onions- minced
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups water

Place all of the ingredients above in a 3 qt saucepan. Simmer on low heat until all of the water is gone. Spread Gortons into a shallow dish and let cool for about 20 minutes, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve with crackers or on toast. Keeps up to two weeks in the refrigerator tightly wrapped.


Unfounded Pie Crust Fear

I've run across so many really great cooks that still fear the "pie crust" making process. It's very simple and practically foolproof if you use a food processor. There are arguments that you will end up with a "tough" pie crust if you use a processor, but if you treat the pulse button with respect and don't over process, you'll never go back to the method of rubbing fat and flour together by hand. Here is my "go to" recipe for really good pie crust in a flash!

3 cups AP flour (King Arthur recommended)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 sticks of cold salted butter
1/4 cup (minimum) of ice water

In the bowl of the processor (I use a 14 cup Cuisinart) fitted with the standard blade, place the flour and salt, pulse 2-3 times to blend. Cube the butter and add to the bowl, process by pulsing until the butter is incorporated and the mixture has a sandy texture, this is about 6-8 pulses. Add the 1/4 cup ice water and pulse, add more ice water as needed to just barely pull the dough together, this should be 3 -6 additional pulses. Your mixture should be crumbly and falling apart....stop at this point and turn out onto a lightly floured board and form into a ball. Let rest for 5 -10 minutes. If your kitchen is hot, chill the dough for 5 - 10 minutes. Your pie dough is ready!!!!
Note: you can substitute up to 1 cup of the flour with whole wheat pastry flour and get great results!


Leek & Potato Soup

2 slices thick cut smoked bacon - minced
1 large clove garlic -minced
3 tblsp butter
2 large leeks - sliced
4 cups peeled & cubed potatoes
1 quart chicken stock
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup light sour cream

Heat a heavy 4 quart stockpot over medium heat, add minced bacon & garlic. Saute the bacon and garlic until bacon has rendered its fat and is golden brown and crispy. Add sliced leeks and saute on low heat for about 20 minutes or until the leeks are melted and golden brown.

Add cubed potatoes, chicken stock and salt & pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Blend with an immersible blender or in a standard blender in batches. You can leave it a little chunky or blend until completely smooth, whatever you may prefer. Add sour cream and adjust seasoning. Makes approximately 2 quarts.

Note: This version does not rely on heavy cream, but you can add it if you prefer.


Most delicious and refreshing!

I don't have a cute story for this one. I was craving sorbet and I was drinking Shiraz.
This is the result!

This is the bomb......and I am not kidding.

Works best if you have an home electric ice cream maker.

Berry & Shiraz Sorbet
3 cups mixed berries - frozen or fresh (organic if possible)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup (light or dark)
1 tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup young & fruity Australian Shiraz

Combine all of the above ingredients in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.
Stirring occasionally, heat this mixture until it just starts to bubble and the berries start to break down. Let it bubble for about 2 minutes and remove from heat.
Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes and then strain through a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Push mixture through until you are left with all of the seeds. Place the bowl of the strained berry mixture inside a larger bowl filled with ice. Let it cool to at least 40 degrees F. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's directions.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a 8 X 8 cake pan, cover and freeze for at least 12 hours.
Makes 4-6 generous servings.

I would also suggest a tablespoon or two of this in very chilled champagne for a decadent version of a Bellini!


It's all about the food...

I am so happy when I can make a dish and ALL of the ingredients come from the Farmer's Market! Gotta love it. My latest concoction is a delicious "pizza". I'm a sucker for any sort of combination of bread and cheese and this is really over the top.
I got all of the ingredients at the Grants Pass Grower's and Crafter's Market. This market happens every Saturday (March to October) from 9am to 1pm in downtown Grants Pass. It is held in the parking lot behind the Post Office. There's ample parking and it one of the largest markets in Southern Oregon....don't miss it!!!

Grilled Goat Cheese "Pizza"
1 par baked whole grain pizza crust from "New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro Bakery"
1 8 oz tub of Caramelized Garlic or Tarragon- Chive Fresh Goat Chevre from "Mama Terra Micro Creamery"
1 med size sweet onion - sliced into thin rings
1/2 lb fresh "Applegate Valley" asparagus- prepared w/ tough ends removed
1 basket fresh mushrooms (of your choice) from "Louis Jeandin"- sliced
1 small handful of fresh basil- minced
3- 4 tblsp very good olive oil
2 tblsp butter
1 tbsp very good (syrupy) balsamic vinegar
Sea Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your outdoor grill to high (approx. 400 degrees F) Brush each side of the pizza crust with olive oil and place on grill. Grill until both sides are golden brown and starting to bubble.
Place on a heat-proof tray to cool. In a large saute pan heat butter over med- high heat add thinly sliced onion rings, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and saute until golden - medium brown, approx. 7-9 minutes. Drain onions well, by squeezing the excess butter out of them with your spatula as you take them from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Add mushrooms to remaining butter and over med-high heat saute them until soft. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the asparagus last with whatever remaining butter is in the pan. Over med-high heat saute the asparagus briefly(1 min), then add a 1/4 cup water, cover and let steam for approx. 3-5 minutes or until just tender (this will depend on the thickness of your asparagus).

Your pizza crust should be sufficiently cool by now to spread the goat chevre. Spread the chevre evenly, almost to the edge. Next, arrange your sauteed onions over the pizza, followed by the mushrooms and lastly the asparagus (slice the asparagus into bite- sized pieces if you prefer). Finally, sprinkle your minced basil over the top and season lightly with a pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Slice and enjoy. This will easily serve 8-10 as an appetizer and goes extremely well with a Rogue Valley Pinot Noir!


By now you've noticed the very long stretches in between postings on Foodcrush. Not because I don't love blogging and cooking anymore, just the fact that I'm a little short on time to fulfill my self -made obligation to my Blog. Today is literally one of the first Sundays since sometime in January that I have some time on my hands to pursue my cooking and writing. I must admit my "busy-ness" is also self induced having recently been promoted at my day job and juggling responsibilities that are new and exciting. Working on the weekends in addition to Mon-Fri has been my M.O. for the last several months in hopes of wrapping my head (and arms) around my new work-world. Though it's been challenging enough to occupy all of my free time. I'm starting to get back into my regular groove of gearing up for spring/ summer gardening, farmer's market, getting the house and yard ready for summer entertaining.
A recent trip to the Los Angeles area inspired (have you figured out that I'm easily inspired yet?) me to start thinking about the warm weather we should have soon here in the Rogue Valley. Even though our weather is still a little chilly & overcast I am cooking as though the sun is shining.
My latest craving is Ahi Tuna, a nice Ahi steak seared with a Dijon Mustard Soy glaze fit the bill last night.

Seared Ahi Tuna with Dijon Soy Glaze and Pineapple, Jalapeno & Ginger Salsa

Make the Salsa:
1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper- seeds and rib removed -minced
1 tblsp fresh ginger - minced or run on a Microplane grater
juice of 1/2 fresh lime
2 tblsp prepared orange marmalade
Salt & Pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl add salt & pepper to taste. Let sit a room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

1 lb fresh sushi grade Ahi tuna steak- about 1 & 1/2 inches thick
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tblsp Soy sauce
pinch of salt - freshly ground pepper

Combine mustard, soy, salt & pepper in a bowl, add Ahi Tuna steak and let marinate for at least 10 minutes, turn steak over and let marinate 10 more minutes.
Add 2 tblsp of olive to a very hot skillet, let olive oil heat through to almost smoke point.
Add mustard coated tuna to pan, lower heat to med-high and sear for 5-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the steak. Turn and sear the other side for approx. 4-5 minutes. Turn heat off and cover skillet, let Tuna heat through for about 3-4 minutes, it will still be rare on the inside. Slice against the grain and serve with pineapple salsa.

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Cincinnati, OH, United States
A dedicated foodie, with a passion for the best food. Favorite food crushes include; Cheese, Wine, Breads, Seafood, anything made with eggs, ...there's actually no point in a list, there isn't much out there I don't have a crush on. Transplanted from the Northeast at age 18, a whole new frontier of food was opened up to me. I have fished for Salmon, hunted for mushrooms, cracked open fresh oysters from the sea and devoured them on the spot. Figs, pears, peaches, so many indigenous jewels! I dedicate this BLOG to the endless variety this region provides. My hope is to live here for a very long time & continue to discover and experience it's unique bounty! Alas, my life has now taken me to Cincinnati, OH where the food culture is like none I have ever experienced.


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