Saturday, January 22, 2011

Voodoo Doughnut

Everyone from Portland and beyond always talks about Voodoo Doughnuts like it’s the next best thing since sliced bread. Local Honda ads mention the Bacon Maple, Mayor Tom Potter decreed the Portland Crème as the official Doughnut of the city in 2008, and I’ve heard from just about everyone that they make the best doughnuts around. Because I’m from the area, and easily persuaded by the idea of tasty doughnuts, I decided that I should probably give them a try.

I could smell Voodoo Doughnuts before the porn-shop pink building even came into view. I pulled in next to a porn-shop pink Voodoo Doughnut truck and an ivy monster on the fence guarding the premises. Once inside, I waited in line for about 20 minutes with some very eclectic Portlanders for my opportunity to order what I was told were the best doughnuts ever.

While waiting in line, I had quite a bit of time to look around. Kids littered the place. They had their noses all pressed up against the doughnut display, drooling over the glazed, chocolate, sprinkled confections. There was a big menu above the counter with a written account of the selection of doughnuts they carried and wedding services they offered (Yes. Wedding Services.)…

The doughnuts were called things like ‘Triple Chocolate Penetration’, ‘Gay Bar’, ‘Maple Blazer Blunt’, ‘Cock-N-Balls’, (which was a penis and balls shaped raised yeast doughnut, triple filled with Bavarian cream and topped with chocolate frosting and a saying written in icing that varies from ‘dickalicious’ to ‘bite me’) and ‘Butterfingering.’

It was after reading the doughnut names that I just felt plain dirty for coming… or in Voodoo terms, ‘cumming.’ I thought it was SO weird that the place was littered with kids and dirty doughnut names full of sexual innuendoes. I especially thought it was weird that the Mayor of Portland decreed the Portland Crème as the official Portland Doughnut to promote a shop where the sort of stuff they were advertising with was stuff that entertained me when I first learned how babies were made.

Thank god my Bacon Maple Bar was delicious. I have nothing against a good doughnut. But my experience at Voodoo Doughnuts was just creepy (...maybe that's the point?). 

Voodoo Doughnut
22 SW 3rd Avenue
Portland Oregon, U.S.A.

Voodoo Doughnut Too!
1501 N.E. Davis St.
Portland Oregon, U.S.A.  

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Note: Cash Only

Berbati's Pan & Restaurant

I had a very interesting experience with Berbati’s Pan & Restuarant. I was simply looking for restaurants to explore in Portland and I came across Berbati’s Pan. The website said it had art shows and live music so I checked the calendar. I saw that Bone Thugs ‘N Harmony was playing that same night! I called up my friends, bought tickets, and made plans to go to the show.

We showed up at Berbati’s Pan and it was empty. There were maybe three people in the back playing pool, and two people at the bar. For a second, I thought I might have had the wrong night for the show. When I went to a Bone Thugs show in Seattle, the line extended down the block and around the corner to get in. I guess I was just expecting the same excitement in Portland.

I asked the guy behind the bar what the deal was and he said the entrance to the show was around back. At that point, I was just thankful I hadn’t bought tickets and invited my friends to a show that wasn’t happening. We headed out the front doors and took a turn down an alley way to “the back.” That’s when we started hearing loud bass vibrating the walls of the place. Then we saw the line. Phew!

The venue was small and the acoustics were a little off but it was still an epic show. I was right up front, on top of the stage, and was able to get some great pictures and videos. The place was packed so we couldn’t get drinks mid-show unless we wanted to lose our spots, but the venue had a bar serving local brews on tap and mixed drinks.

After the show we had some Greek fries at Berbati’s Pan & Restaurant. While I thoroughly enjoyed the show, I can’t be too sure what I think about the actual restaurant and bar. The fries were tasty… but I don’t know if I would ever actually grab a drink or a meal there without having an alternative purpose for being there (such as the Bone Thugs show).

Berbati's Pan & Restaurant
213 SW Ankeny St
Portland, OR 97204

Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy

There is nothing that goes better with steak than mashed potatoes. If you are looking for thick, robust gravy to go with this side, look no further.

Mashed Potatoes
Taught by my mommy

4 potatoes
¼ cup half and half
¼ cup butter
Pinch of salt

Wash and peel your potatoes. Cut the potatoes up into smaller peices (about 1 inch cubes). Set aside.

Boil a pot of water. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and place your potatoes in the boiling water. Let the potatoes boil covered for about 10 minutes. When the potatoes are soft enough to come apart with a fork, drain the potatoes.

Put the potatoes back into the pot and add the ¼ cup of butter. Using a potatoes masher, gradually mix the potatoes in with the butter, half and half, and preferred amount of pepper. (Use the half and half sparingly and only use enough to give the potatoes the preferred whipped texture. Using too much will make the potatoes wet and soggy). Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy!

Mushroom Gravy
Can of ready made gravy
½ pound mushrooms
Olive oil

Wash and cut thick slices of mushroom. Set aside.

Put the can of ready made gravy into a saucepan and turn it on low heat. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Next, heat a skillet and drizzle with olive oil. Place the mushrooms in the skillet so that they are not overlapping. Let the mushrooms cook on one side for about 5 minutes on medium heat.

Using tongs, turn the mushrooms over one by one so that they will not be overlapping (overlapping makes them cook unevenly and produce wetness). Add more olive oil if necessary. Let the mushrooms sit for another 5 minutes while shaking them up a little bit in with the pan. Mushrooms should be well browned on each side. Remove from heat and put the mushrooms into the saucepan of heated gravy. Make sure the heat is on low or very low. The Mushroom Gravy can sit for as long as needed on this setting. Stir occasionally.

When you drizzle the Mashed Potatoes with the Mushroom Gravy, I like to make a little crater in my mashed potatoes with my spoon for the gravy to have a place to go and not run awry. But I’m just kind of cute like that…

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pan Roasted Asparagus

My mom prepared this pan roasted asparagus with sake on Christmas Eve and it was absolutely delicious! Asparagus goes great as a healthy side to any main entrée. I used it in my New Years Dinner to accompany a Filet Mignon and Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy.

1 bundle of asparagus
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoon sake
olive oil

Wash and cut off the ends of your asparagus so you are left with green and healthy heads and stems.

Heat up a pan on the stove. Drizzle some olive oil over the pan and lay inside of it your asparagus spread out evenly. Move the asparagus around so the heat reaches all sides of each one and they are evenly cooked.

After 4-5 minutes pour the water and sake evenly over the asparagus. Pan roast the asparagus for 7-10 more minutes, tossing around the asparagus in the water and sake from time-to-time, until the asparagus is evenly and thoroughly cooked (maybe taste test one to make sure its soft and flavorful enough). Enjoy!

Filet Mignon

The first time I tasted a filet mignon was on my 21st birthday.

I turned 21 over the summer while I was in Indiana staying with my Aunt and Uncle and working at an internship for Ashland Hercules Water Technologies.

I was dating my cousin’s best friend at the time. We had met at his lake house on Kentucky Lake when my cousin invited me spend the weekend with him and his friends wakeboarding a month prior. My previous boyfriend and I had decided to “take a break” while he was studying abroad in Argentina and I was working in Indiana. This opened up the perfect opportunity to have a summer romance. And the opportunity practically pounced. Norman and I were inseparable while it lasted. He would come up to Evansville, IN to stay with me at my Aunt and Uncle’s during the week, and almost every weekend I would go down to Kentucky Lake to spend time with him.

Norman, of course, came up to see me in Indiana for my birthday and my Aunt and Uncle took us out to Cavanaugh’s on the Ohio River. I remember that I was craving a steak but wasn’t sure what kind. Everyone recommended the filet mignon. I went with it and when it was served I couldn’t believe how small the portion was! It was the most expensive steak on the menu and yet it looked as though I could have finished it off in three bites. After expressing this, (after the waiter had left our table, of course) everyone told me to simply enjoy it and to not let the portion fool me. By the time we got the check, I was still working on my filet! It was so much more thick and filling than I had expected, and so completely delicious.

For New Years Day I told my family I wanted to prepare them a grandiose dinner that would celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. I instantly thought of serving filet mignon. I studied up on how to prepare such a cut of meat because although I thoroughly enjoyed eating it on my birthday, I was clueless on how to prepare it.

Following various online articles and recommendations from the cute guy at the meat counter at Whole Foods, my Dad and I ended up preparing some incredible filet mignons. Here’s how we did it:

(I am consistently more than happy with Whole Foods meat. While it may be a little pricey, it is well worth the splurge...)

Filet Mignon

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 cuts of filet mignon

Put your oven on the high broil setting and let it heat up. Using a broiling rack and pan, place it on the oven rack closest to the broiler on the top of the oven that will leave the top of the steak about 3 inches from the broiler.

Fill a plate with half balsamic vinegar and half dry, red wine. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top.

Heat a skillet over the stove with olive oil.

Take one filet at a time and turn it over in the vinegar/wine mix so that all sides are covered. Place the filet on the skillet and sear it 3 minutes on one side until it is completely browned. Flip the filet over and do 3 minutes on the other side.

Then remove the filet from the skillet and place on the center of the broiling rack. Broil on one side for 3-4 minutes and then flip the filet over and broil on the other side for 3-4 minutes. Remover from the oven and let the steak cook itself for about 5 minutes before cutting into and serving.

My family enjoyed the filet mignon with sides of Pan Roasted Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Gravy.

Seafood Stuffed Avocados

Who doesn’t love a ripe avocado? The avocado in this recipe serves as the cup for a creamy seafood mix in this exquisite appetizer. Your taste buds will be bubbling over with ebullience upon sampling such a fine first course…

½ cup flaked, cooked crabmeat
½ cup cooked small shrimp
2 tablespoons peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
2 tablespoons diced celery
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pinch salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 pinch paprika
2 avacados

Cut the avocados lengthwise and remove the pit. Retaining the shape of the pit, scoop out an additional amount of flesh, leaving about ½ inch on the peel and save for later. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the additional avocado flesh, drained crab, drained shrimp, diced cucumber, diced celery, mayonnaise, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, spoon the seafood mixture into the hollowed centers of the avocado halves. Sprinkle the tops with paprika. Enjoy!

Marsala Poached Pears

I decided to have a little bit of fun with pears while they were in season. There are many different ways to serve pears that help accentuate the texture, flavor, and juiciness of this divine fruit. I found a recipe for poached pears online that looked interesting so I thought I'd give it a try. It was my first time poaching pears. After successfully following the recipe I determined that Marsala Poached Pears make for a succulent, romantic dessert.

4 bosc pears
1 cub dry Marsala wine
1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup white sugar
½ star anise
4 cloves
½ stick cinnamon

Peel the bosc pears with the stem still attached with 1/4” of the bottom sliced off so the pears can sit upright, set aside.

In a saucepan that will fit all of the upright pears, place the Marsala wine, sugar, lemon juice, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and place the pears in the pan standing upright. Cover the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes while you bated the liquid a few times during cooking until the pears can be pierced with a fork. Then remove the pears to a serving dish.

Keep the pan uncovered and let the Marsala syrup boil down for a few minutes until it becomes thick syrup. Pour the syrup over the pears and serve with French vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crescent-Wrapped Brie

Need more ideas on how to enjoy brie? Simply wrap up slices of brie (or an entire wheel for those of you overzealous brie consumers) with Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner roll dough and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-24 minutes until the crescent crust looks slightly browned. Remove from the oven and enjoy warm, rich, runny brie within a light crispy crescent crust!