Potato Pancake Brunch

Potato pancake

This is a very easy recipe for a potato pancake, which can serve as a base for your choice of topping. It makes for a lovely brunch dish. I topped mine with eggs over easy and some blue cheese for salt, tang and a bit of creaminess. Finish with a basil garnish for color and some fresh greens.

The trick is to shred the potato using a grater. The starch of the potato will act as the binder of the pancake, so no need for flour or other additions.

Ingredients:

1/2 large potato, shredded
2 eggs
blue cheese, crumbled
salt to taste
basil leaves

Heat up olive oil in a small skillet and cook the potatoes until golden brown on one side. Apply pressure with a spatula to seal the pancake, then flip over and cook until golden brown on the other side. Plate, sprinkle salt on top, and set aside.

Cook the eggs the way you like them, then place on top of the pancake. Top with blue cheese, and garnish with basil.

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Cannon Beach Distillery

Cannon Beach Distillery

After overnighting in Astoria, Oregon, we drove on to Cannon Beach, where the iconic Haystack Rock sits (you’ll know if from “The Goonies”), stately and enduring as it juts from the sandy shoreline.

When we came into town, we saw a sign for Cannon Beach Distillery. We like to visit craft breweries, wineries and distilleries, so we had to stop by.

The storefront is impressive: modern, sleek and cozy. It showcases product on the walls and offers seating areas for lingering with a drink.

Mike Selberg, the owner and distiller, was sitting at a table by the entrance, working on his laptop, when we walked in. He set us up for a tasting, going from clear to aged, including gin, rum and whiskey, and was very knowledgeable when we asked him questions about the distilling process. He even showed us a chart detailing the chemistry in various spirits.

The distillery ferments, distills, matures and bottles all its spirits in house. Selberg prides his business on craftsmanship and doesn’t add any artificial colors to make a spirit look aged. He’s a purist, and it’s paid off in awards from the American Distilling Institute. This young man is doing good work on the coast of Oregon.

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Coconut Curry Noodles with Fish

Curry noodles

I love using coconut milk in dishes, even in coffee. It has a mild sweetness that plays very well with starches and proteins.

My previous coconut curry noodle recipe uses udon. This latest one uses brown rice noodles, so it’s more in the vein of Thai cuisine.

I had leftover cod in the freezer; not much, so I mixed it with some Chinook salmon.

The sauce balances salt, sweet and tart elements using coconut milk, curry powder, brown sugar, fish sauce and vinegar (I would’ve used lime, but I didn’t have any at home when I cooked this). Go with your taste buds to decide how much you want of each element.

The colors in this dish are beautiful. The neutral tone of the noodles serves as the base, dressed up with the white, pink and green of the fish and the basil. Pretty and tasty.

Ingredients:

1 pack of brown rice noodles
1 can coconut milk
curry powder to taste
fish sauce to taste
white vinegar or lime to taste
brown sugar to taste (I recommend 1-2 tbsp.)
cod (desired amount), sliced
salmon (desired amount), sliced
fresh basil leaves

Bring water to a boil in a pot and cook the noodles until they’re al dente. Should only take about 5 min. Drain and set aside.

Saute the cod and salmon and set aside.

Put a large sauce pan on low heat and add the coconut milk. Stir in the curry, fish sauce, vinegar and brown sugar to taste. Add the flavors slowly and taste often to get the balance right. Once the sauce is to your liking, stir in the noodles and coat them thoroughly with the sauce. Plate the noodles and top with the fish, then garnish with the basil.

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Astoria, Oregon: The Highlights

Astoria Oregon

After we moved out of Vancouver, we spent a week traveling through Oregon. We drove to our first stop, Astoria, home of such major motion picture locations as “The Goonies.” If you ever find yourself in this coastal city, I recommend getting a riverfront room at The Hampton Inn. You’ll have a lovely view of the Columbia River and an easy walk to downtown.

Astoria ColumnAstoria has a charming small town feel, with many stately homes dotting its hillsides. Climb one hill high enough and you’ll reach the Astoria Column, known as the “crowning monument” among 12 historical markers located between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Astoria, Oregon. The column commemorates Astoria’s early explorers—Captains Robert Gray, William Clark and Meriwether Lewis. You can take the stairs inside the column to the top for a bird’s-eye view of the coast.

Fort George AstoriaFor food and craft beer, try Fort George Brewery + Public House. I was quite happy with my burrito and the stout (my favorite type of beer) from our tasting flight the night we stayed in town. It’s a two-floor eatery/bar with a lively scene and live music. You’ll see a good mix of folks, from young singles to families hanging out.

Pig N Pancake

For brunch, I really liked Pig ‘N Pancake, a diner started by a married couple in 1961 that has since expanded to several locations in Oregon. I ordered buckwheat pancakes with a dungeness crab and cheese omelette. The buckwheat sat heavily, and I didn’t need to order the omelette to get full, but indulge I did.

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Vancouver: The Final Highlights

Save on Meats door

It’s been about a month since we moved out of Vancouver, and a post is in order to pay homage to our final days there. This will undoubtedly be food-related because Vancouver is such a foodie town, and we wanted to make sure we hit all the highlights before we headed out for good.

Sura pork and kimchi

Sura Korean Royal Cuisine
We decided on Sura on Robson St. for dinner one rainy evening. The large dining room was busy, despite it being a weeknight. We ordered three mains: seafood pancake (a classic that I like to order at Korean restaurants), beef short ribs (which we’ve become quite good at making ourselves with a homemade marinade) and kimchi with pork slices. The pork dish stood out because it was something I’d never encountered before: tender pork with a rind of fat served with large leaves of kimchi cabbage in a sour/savory broth. Bonus: You get an endless serving of small sides throughout the meal (I recommend the seaweed).

Save on Meats chicken and waffles

Save On Meats
We finally visited Save On Meats for brunch. We used to pass by it while driving through Hastings St. and have been wanting to stop in purely for how entertaining the signage is–it’s a big pink pig with the name of the shop very visible from the street. One side is a diner, and the other is a butcher shop (currently closed for renovation). This joint has been around since 1957, and it’s been updated to cater to hispter cool with young servers and a foodie spin on classic diner grub.  I ordered the fried chicken and waffles, served with two large pieces of boneless chicken in a crispy batter on housemade buttermilk waffles, plus an order of two sunnyside-up eggs. I eagerly poured gravy onto everything.

Wildebeest horse tartare

Wildebeest
We had our last dinner in Vancouver at Wildebeest, a casual fine-dining establishment on West Hastings in the business district. This place has an excellent menu. We ordered a lot. For the appetizers: foie gras torchon, horse tartare and roasted sweetbreads. For the entrees: pork belly and scallops, and pan-seared rockfish. I also got a side of brussels sprouts. All the dishes were delicious and plated artfully. This was the first time I’d ever eaten horse, and I really liked the tartare version. It was served with a sous-vide egg yolk, which, when mixed in with the tartare, enhances the silken texture. We enjoyed this meal more than the one we had at Hawksworth; the cuisine is equal in quality, with more selection and a stylish, unpretentious atmosphere.

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Pho 75, Arlington, VA

Pho 75

Now that I’m back at the office, I’ve begun to revisit old haunts. The first on the list is Pho 75, to which I’ve already returned three times in the last 2.5 weeks that I’ve been back in the area.

The neighborhood has become gentrified, with a lot of pricey apartments and restaurants coming up in the last few years, but Pho 75 is surviving easily with an untroubled transition. It used to be a hidden-gem hole in the wall, but nowadays the dining room is often full of millennials, office workers and neighborhood folks contentedly sipping or slurping big bowls of delicious broth soaking through rice noodles.

You can get a regular or large bowl, plus your choice of meat, and the pho is served with a plate of fresh mint leaves and bean sprouts. It’s a good balance of carbs, protein and veg, with an umami broth that I assume is simmering away all day to intensify the flavor.

I recommend getting a large bowl with fat brisket. The brisket is sliced ultrathin, including a rind of fat, which is close to melting in tenderness. You can walk away very full for less than $10.

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Spinach Tortellini With Prosciutto

Tortellini with prosciutto

Hi, folks. It’s been a while since I posted. Been busy with traveling. We moved out of Vancouver at the close of our tour, then spent time on the Oregon coast, Portland, and Florida.

I’m now back in Washington, D.C. for a year. So far, the spring days are warm and long and full of sunshine. The trees are budding, and there’s an ease in the air. A welcoming return.

Hubby’s on a business trip this week, and I’m back into daily life in D.C., which has been very busy and enjoyable thus far.

I’m keeping weeknight dinners simple now that I’m working in an office again. The special for tonight: fresh pasta tossed with some veg and topped with prosciutto. I dined with a glass of chilled red wine and tuned into TCM, my favorite channel. The movie: “1776”. The meal: comforting and elegant.

Ingredients:

1 pack of fresh spinach-filled tortellini
5-7 small tomatoes (cherry tomato size), sliced
1/2 pack of white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 bag of arugula
parmesan to taste
salt to taste
olive oil to taste
4 prosciutto slices, chopped

Bring water and salt to a boil in a medium pot, and cook the tortellini. Fresh pasta is quick to cook; I recommend about 5 min. Drain the pasta when ready and set aside.

Saute the tomatoes, mushrooms and arugula in the pot with olive oil, then stir in the pasta. Add more olive oil, parmesan and salt to taste, then turn off the heat. Plate the pasta, and garnish with the prosciutto.

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