Food & Drink

I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!

Food is NOT just fuel!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hood River Strawberries

As if I needed another reason to love Hood River. The soil around that city is very rich from Mt. Hood. There are all kinds of fruit orchards and fields in the area. These were my first strawberries from this area - and they are delicious!! So fresh, and wild - the flavour is outstandingly true.

My plan was to muddle these strawberries in a cocktail - I couldn't resist eating a small handful straight off. :) I did make a great cocktail - muddled strawberries, blueberries, cherries and a few leaves of basil (with a touch of sugar). I added like juice, then a big glug glug of tequila and some triple sec. Delicious!!


Any French chef loves a good shallot! I used them a few ways tonight. 1) I chopped half a shallot and fried them to a crispy finish. These topped my steak. 2) I chopped half a shallot and sweated it over heat, then added a cup of heavy cream & reduced it in half. Then I added some Gorgonzola and pepper - this was the sauce for keith's steak. 3) I finely chopped a shallot and added it to red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and a dash of habanero pepper sauce. This was for the raw oysters.

Pickled Golden Beets

I made a special dinner tonight for my husband. He started a new job today, so I treated him to a decadent dinner - NY strip steak smothered in a Gorgonzola cream sauce (just for him - my lactose intolerance makes this a meal just for steak was covered in crispy shallots). As a side dish, I pickled some golden beets.

My darling husband was amazed that I pickled my own beets. I love how cooking impresses him. :) I peeled 3 golden beets and sliced them. In a pot, I put a mixture of red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, black peppercorns, salt, and brown sugar. I brought it to a boil and then tossed in the beets. They cooked for about 15 minutes until tender. They were delicious, tangy and tender!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Watermelon juice

Quintessentially summer - I love watermelon. Yet last summer I began juicing it for cocktails. Here's a big pitcher of fresh watermelon juice...the possibilities are endless!

Caprese skewers

I love this appetizer - so easy and fun. Alternate small fresh mozzarella balls with grape tomatoes and fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper and you have a perfect summer starter!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cannon Beach

Today we wandered around Cannon Beach, OR. We walked along the beach and I desperately combed the sand for some fresh mussels. Closest I got was this huge claw.

After many photo ops near and around Haystack Rock, we grabbed lunch - Fish & Chips for me! Olive oil & vinegar for my salad, vinegar & ketchup for my fries, Amber Ale for my happiness.

Full Sail

We spent a day in Hood River and took a tour of the Full Sail Brewery. Fascinating process - beer making. So I simply had to get a sampler at the pub after the tour.

Mirror Pond

I was early to the airport, so I had to wait for Kate & Deb's plane to land. Good thing there was beer.

Pork loin chops

So easy and delicious - I coated the pork in Herbs de Provence and a little salt & pepper. Then I seared them in a hot pan - just a few minutes each side. Served with a mash of potatoes and celery root, and some wilted spinach with champagne vinegar.

Flank steak

Marinated, seared quickly and sliced. Served over crostini and drizzled with horseradish sauce and topped with arugula dressed in lemon & olive oil.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


It's been a bit grey and rainy, so I wanted something comforting tonight for dinner. Quick & simple dish with tons of flavor!

I started by browning some sliced Italian sausage. Then I added some chopped white onion & red pepper (capsicum in AU) with a pinch of salt to get them breaking down. I added chopped eggplant with the skin on! Seasoning: a bit of garlic powder, red pepper flakes, oregano and salt & pepper. I then added a can of whole tomatoes (rough chopped with the sauce) and a small can of tomato sauce. Bring to the bubble and lower the heat to simmer for about 10 minutes. I cooked the pasta al dente and then added it to the sauce. 4 big spoonfulls of riccota went in next and I stirred the whole thing through. I piled it onto a pasta dish, added some parmigiana and a tiny drizzle of olive oil (plus a little more red pepper flakes for me). Exactly what I wanted - warm and comforting!

Cocktail du jour

keith made the cocktails tonight. He didn't share the recipe, but I can report that it contained the following:

Gin (option to use vodka instead)
St. Germaine liqueur
Soda water

Deliciously refreshing! And the garnish was a big sprig of lime and a cucumber slice. I have a feeling this is going to become a summertime favorite around here!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Port Manhattan

Cocktail du jour at Crush Bar this afternoon. I'm going to learn this recipe - it included brandies cherries!

Burritos...for breakfast

I know I've mentioned breakfast burritos before, but they're such a great meal! This morning they were based completely on what I had in the oven. :) so simple - I scrambled some eggs, and as they were cooking I crumbled some queso blanco into the
(left over from last night). Once the eggs were done, laid out 2 flour tortillas and put a small amount of shredded cheese in the middle. I piled the eggs in the middle and rolled up the burritos. I added a pile of shredded cheese on top, and popped it under the broiler to melt the cheese. Finally they were finished with some salsa verde and sour cream.

I love a hearty breakfast on Sunday mornings!

Taco salad

I know, it doesn't look all that amazing. But I had a craving for a taco salad. keith makes it from time to time, so I thought I'd give it my go. I had half of each a white and red onion in the fridge so I started by sautéing those with a little salt. Once they started to soften I added a pound of ground beef. Once it was browned I totally cheated and added a packet of Lawrey's taco seasoning (seriously - the contents are pretty natural). At the same time, I added a can of diced tomatoes, a can of green chiles and a handful of shredded purple cabbage (not traditional, but it was in my fridge!). I brought this to a boil and lowered the heat, then let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. During the last few minutes I crumbled in some queso blanco.

To serve - I crumbled some tortillas on a plate, and a handful into the dish (stir it through). Pile a generous amount of the taco salad onto the plate. Top with a few more crumbled tortillas, some more chopped cabbage, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream. I also added some sliced jalapeños to my plate.

It may not look gorgeous but it was comforting and delicious!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Dirty Flogger

A take on the classic named by Holly. With almond & jalapeño stuffed olives.

Almond stuffed olives

Trying something new in our dirty martini. We're celebrating the house we'll be renting come July!!


I know I've mentioned this before, but it's different this time. It's similar to a previous post - salmon rubbed with fresh chopped dill, capers, drizzled in lemon juice with some salt & pepper and then broiled to perfection. But this time the salmon was fresh from an Oregon river. And can I just tell you - the flavour is intensely different! It's fresher, and that's the only word I have. Buttery - yes. Meaty - yep. Flaky - oh yeah. Delicious - check. But fresher is the kicker. Holy crap!!

Although can I gripe for one second? I love salmon. I pay a lot for good, fresh salmon. So when did the fish-folks at our favourite healthy & organic markets decide WE were responsible for scaling and de-pin boning our own fish? God I hate doing both of those things!!

I piled some rock salt on the pan, and broiled it for maybe 13 minutes. I served it with some rice that was seasoned with some fresh roasted garlic! Yum!!! I love the Northwest!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Post-Memorial Day Memorial Day dinner

There's something very comforting about brats and potato salad. Takes me back to backyard cookouts from years gone by. And while I didn't make this meal on Memorial Day, it certainly would have been fitting.

Johnsonville brats (come on, they really are good) - slowly simmered in beer for about 20 minutes. I used a nice India Pale Ale. French roll for the bun, ketchup on one side, sweet & hot mustard on the other. A little shredded cheese went on top of the hot brat, and then I piled on sautéed sweet onions and green peppers.

I was wondering what side dish would be good as a side. Potato salad jumped to mind. Ian Garten has a delicious recipe, and I followed it nearly to the letter. Here is my recipe (and her original differences):

1 lb. small white potatoes (Ina: 3 lbs)
Pinch salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup half-n-half (Ina: buttermilk)
2 Tbl Dijon mustard
2 Tbl raspberry-wasabi mustard (Ina: whole grain)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup chopped dill
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red onion

Fill a pot with water, add a big pinch of salt and add the potatoes (whole). Being to the boil, and then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are softened but not falling apart. Drain them, and then put the potatoes in a bowl covered with a cloth for 15 minutes to keep them lightly cooking.

As those are resting, whisk together the mayo, half-n-half, mustards, salt, pepper and dill. Cut the potatoes into halves or fourths (based on size), and make sure they come to room temperature. Put the potatoes into a bowl and add the dressing - just enough to coat all of the potatoes. Don't overdress it! Add the onions and celery, and put it in the fridge to chill.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Tried out a few new cocktails tonight. The first was a take on one developed at the Waldorf Astoria years ago. Crushed black peppercorn, mint leaves, fresh strawberry juice, lime zest, like juice & vodka. Admittedly not our favourite drink, but a fun new experiment.

Another Sunday cocktail - muddled cherries, lime juice, vodka, cranberry juice & Red Bull. A perfect pick me later in the evening (when you're not ready for the evening to end!).

Pastrami hash

I love a good hash. It's such a hearty breakfast. For brunch today I went with a pastrami hash (couldn't find corned beef anywhere!) I had it cut thick so I could chop it up.

A little olive oil in the pan, and then in with the diced potatoes. Add a little salt to help break them down. Once they are all coated in oil & salt and start sizzling in the pan, add a cup of chicken stock. Some will be absorbed by the potatoes as they soften. Cook, turning often, for at least 15 minutes until they start to get soft. Add chopped onion (1/2 sweet onion) and cook for another 7-10 minutes. When the potatoes have begun to get color, and have softened, add the chopped pastrami and stir through to mix. At the same time begin cooking your eggs (I do 2 per person, sunny side up - finished under the broiler). You don't need to season the hash anymore in this case because of the seasoning on the pastrami.

Pile the hash onto your plate and top with eggs!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I love fresh mint - the smell, the flavor. I got some at the store today, and it ended up being somewhat of a debacle. The poor woman at the register had never seen fresh mint, and didn't know how to ring it up. Frantically she asked other employees - no one had ever seen a bunch of fresh mint. The manager was baffled and had to go find the mint mixed in with the herbs to figure out what to charge me. Even then, she had no idea, and instead made up a price. After 10 minutes I was too annoyed to argue. But what fascinated (and saddened) me most was that no one had ever seen fresh mint before. Granted as a child we never used fresh herbs - in fact it wasn't until college that I knew parsley was more than just a decoration for the dinner plate. But come on, mint?? At least I got it and could rush home to make mojitos (to accompany the roast lamb shoulder). :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Prosecco: my choice for bubbly

Champagne can only come from one region in France. So everything else is sparkling wine...except for Prosecco. Italy's answer to champagne. The flavors vary as much as any type of wine. I found and love LaMarca, but for a change in trying Cupcake prosecco. I've seen their wines around and have been intrigued. And for the sake of my husband I bought it because of the name. :)

Sugar cube soaked in bitters

It's a building block for so many things. Add whiskey and a twist of lemon: Old Fashioned. Muddle with orange and add whiskey, St. Germaine and you have an Elder. But tonight I think this beauty will sit at the bottom of a wine glass and I'll pour Prosecco over top. The bubble further dissolve the cube, and you get sweet and bitter at the same time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Perfect Margarita

Tequila, Triple Sec, Sweet & Sour, Cuerva Gold Tequila, and a float of Grand Marnier. This is Friday!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


There is something quite refreshing about a classic like the Cosmo. Good vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice and lime. So simple, do delicious. It just screams "Thursday!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cherry pitter

How my life has changed since my friend Holly gave me a cherry pitter. Days of slicing the cherries in half and digging out the pit are long gone. No more stained fingers! And I'm done in a fraction of the time. So simple, yet so pleasing!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


So simple, so elegant. Old-school thought insists a true martini should be gin-based, but I'm of the new school of thought - vodka all the way. There's something seductive about the way a person cups the cool glass as beads of perspiration form from the chilled vodka inside. Traditionalists will argue that it's not a martini without vermouth, and I would argue back that I need nothing more than Grey Goose vodka with a small splash of olive brine to make it dirty. Shaken, not stirred, and poured into a glass over three olives. Olives with pimentos should be the last choice - only if there's nothing else to use. Instead try whole green olives that encourage you to suck the meat off the pits. Or better yet, olives stuffed with something that will also lend a hint of flavour to the vodka. Bleu Cheese stuffed olives are a definite favourite. However right now I'm thoroughly enjoying olives stuffed with jalapeños. A lovely spice to an already perfect martini.

Indulge. Enjoy. And for the love of god use a good vodka!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quietly returning...

It's been forever, but I've had some fantastic food & drink moments that are begging to be shared.

Gin & tonic

Blood oranges

Live crabs

Stout after a hike

Robust red after a hike

Baby bok choy


Holly and I after a day at the farmers market

Raw oysters

Portland is a city of beer

VCR at home

Scotch and port