Man — it’s been a fun (and tasty!) week.
We’ve gone to the movies (A Quiet Place — so good and scary!)
spent hours binge-watching old TV programs (we’ve introduced our kids to West Wing) and we’ve jumped outside whenever the sun’s peeked out from behind the clouds.
I’ve also delivered food to somebody who’s reached out for help.
This delivery was to someone in my extended community who is newly divorced and battling a serious disease; I’d never met him until a couple weeks ago and ever since then I’ve tried to bring him food every couple days.
I heard his kids were visiting this past weekend so I wanted to bring as much food as I could to help him out.
Homemade muffins (this recipe is a favorite of mine) make any breakfast table cheerier.
And I’ve had some wonderful lunches out, including a date with my handsome 16 year old.
We haven’t had that much time one-on-one lately so it was wonderful to be able to carve out time to be together. (And yes, I do know how lucky I am that I have a nearly 17 year old kid who still likes to spend time with me!)
He said he was craving a burger so I did some research on recent places and I saw that PDX Sliders had opened up on Division Street so I thought we’d go there.
Years ago I went to their food cart in Sellwood
and so I knew they were capable of putting out tasty vittles, but it was so nice to be able to sit in their brick and mortar and enjoy their food a second time in a comfy spot.
The way it works is you walk up in the front door, place an order, pay, grab your number and wait for them to bring out your food when it’s ready.
The menu is pretty extensive; they offer not just burgers but also sliders with chicken, pork or veggies in both small (slider) and full-size versions
plus some very good, parsley-flecked and truffle salt-topped fries (almost as addictive as those at Little Big Burger).
We decided to try a couple different kinds of sliders in addition to those Truffle Fries: the Sellwood, the Steel and the Tilikum.
All three of our sliders were amazingly juicy, sported killer aioli and/or tangy BBQ sauce plus other top-flight ingredients.
Oliver’s favorite was the Steel (the one on the right)
and mine was a tie between the Sellwood (with Beecher’s Aged Cheddar) and the Tilikum, with an impossibly crunchy exterior on this sublimely seasoned and incredibly juicy fried chicken thigh (the slaw, aioli and BBQ sauce put it over the top).
People, go to PDX Sliders — it’s freakishly good and is now my favorite burger place in town.
I can’t wait to bring out-of-towners here!
So in addition to a number of great lunches out (more on that in a later post), I’ve also been baking quite a bit, too.
I made another batch of those unbelievable Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Shortbread I’ve told you about.
This might be my favorite cookie right now (just slightly ahead of these Chewy Ginger Cookies) and if you make them small enough, they are the perfect size for even those who’d usually say no to the opulence of a big cookie.
Seriously, if you haven’t made these cookies yet (it seems like half the world’s population has fallen hard for this recipe), do it now.
This week I left some shortbread for a friend, brought more to a far-flung neighbor and then some to my dentist when I arrived for my teeth cleaning.
It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to bring cookies to the dentist; it strikes me as both neighborly and a little tongue in cheek. Sweets to the dentist? Irony.
In its most beautiful form.
Lastly, one last recipe I want you to know about.
I told you a while back that I’m in a cookbook club and this upcoming weekend it’s my turn to host.
Here’s the book we’ve adopted; all our dishes at this weekend’s pot luck will be from recipes in this book.
I’d never cracked open the book before but I borrowed this copy from my friend Gillian (an accomplished cook in her own right) and this recipe below jumped out at me at once.
I always seem to have a jar or two of open jam in my fridge so this seemed like a good candidate for me (and it also seemed really easy).
Turns out it was a very quick recipe and I had everything on hand — except the whole almonds, but I did have smoked whole almonds and that substitution worked out fine (I eliminated the pinch of salt from the recipe as the nuts were already highly salted).
I used an open jar of French cherry jam I had in the back of the fridge but I didn’t have quite enough
so I also opened up some mini Bonne Maman jams I snagged from our Seattle Airbnb.
The crust is like a yolk-enhanced shortbread dough that gets further flavor from the almonds and extract.
The recipe calls for you to make it in a food processor, and sure enough it pulled together in seconds.
The recipe calls for you to cook it for only about 15 minutes.
You then pull it out, top with jam, and return to the oven for about 5 minutes at a very high heat until the jam is bubbly.
I sifted powdered sugar atop because its inky exterior needed a little levity and sweetness.
The last thing my family needs is a whole tart sitting around so I started distributing it up and down the street.
So here’s what I liked about this recipe.
It’s super easy to make, it has an intriguing, buttery/nutty base and I like the juxtaposition of that crust with the tartness of the jam.
What I wasn’t crazy about was that I would have liked the crust to have a little more heft and crunch; my recipe turned out with a crust that was thin and a little floppy.
As it was, I didn’t have enough crust to reach up the sides without sacrificing the amount on the bottom.
It’s entirely possibly the fault was mine, and so I’ll make this recipe again soon and try to perfect it.
I’ll report back with this — and other winners from the cookbook — but in the meantime, here’s that recipe.
Soon, mes amis!
- Zest of ½ lemon
- ¼ C. whole almonds
- ¾ C. unbleached all-purpose flour, organic preferred
- ¼ C. sugar
- generous pinch of salt
- 6 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 chunks
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- ¾ C. jam (tart cherry and wild blueberry)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Butter a 9-inch round silver-colored cake or tart pan. (If using a dark-colored pan, you will want to cut baking time by about 5 minutes.)
- With the food processor running, drop in the zest and almonds and grind them fine. Stop the machine, scrape down the sides and add the flour, sugar, salt, butter, egg yolk and almond extract. Pulse until they are blended and starting to come together in small clumps at the bottom of the processor. (They should like cluster of peas).
- Turn the pastry dough into the pan. With your hands, pat it out to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. GIve the tart a standing rim by nudging the dough ½ inch up the sides of the pan. Don't worry if it looks a little ragged.
- Bake the crust in the center of the oven for 13 to 16 minutes, or until its edges are golden and the center is starting to color. The rim will sink down a little, which is fine.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and turn up the heat to 500 degrees. Carefully spread the jam over the tart, and immediately return it to the oven (don't wait for the temp to reach 500 degrees). Bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the jam is bubbly.
- Cool the tart on a rack, slice into squares or wedges, and serve. Serve the tart warm, but not hot, because jam can burn.