Chilled cucumber avocado soup for the last days of summer

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Here in Portland, hot, sunny days continue well into September. The cucumbers and cherry tomatoes in my garden are still going crazy. I often make gazpacho to put them to good use.

This summer, I added a new chilled soup to the rotation, inspired by the abundance of cucumbers, tomatoes and jalapeños from my garden and my love for avocados.

It’s creamy and refreshing with tang from the lime and a bit of heat from the jalapeño. Plus, the avocado makes it a bit more filling. Crusty bread, salami, or grilled shrimp (or chicken or fish) all make worthy companions. Continue reading

Citrus season!

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It’s hard not to swoon over all the citrus that’s at its peak right now. The jewel-like beauties above are moro blood oranges and cara cara oranges piled high on our breakfast plates.

I’ve been bringing home armloads of grapefruit, kumquats, cocktail citrus, oranges, meyer lemons and tangerines and turning them into muffins, scones, and curds, using them in vinaigrettes, soups, salads, and slow-roasted pork shoulder, and spritzing them on fish, Mexican and more.

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I love citrus curds. And I recently discovered how quick and easy they are  to make. You can use almost any of the season’s bounty to delicious effect. Just be sure to choose tart citrus like lemons, meyer lemons, limes, grapefruit, and Seville (sour) oranges. Or mix 50 percent lemon juice with less tart citrus like tangerines and blood oranges.

Pictured above are ingredients for meyer lemon curd, meyer lemon curd with apple oatmeal muffins, and with the little French almond tea cakes known as financiers. The muffins and financiers are both adapted from recipes in the La Tartine Gourmande cookbook.

Some deliciously citrusy recipes:

Thyme-scented tomato orange soup

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Elephants Delicatessen in Portland makes a terrific tomato orange soup. It’s creamy and comforting with some brightness and zing from the hit of orange. Perfect on a winter day.

Unfortunately for me, it has quite a bit of dairy in the form of butter and cream, so I’ve had to skip it. The good news… I found that Elephants published their recipe in the local paper, and not only is it quick and easy to make, it was a cinch to adapt it to make it dairy free.

Continue reading

Friday finds: Monday edition

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VISIT: Union Way in Portland. My sister and I finally made it this weekend to check out this attractive experiment in urban re-development. An “alley” was carved through a city block to create a row of shops connecting Powell’s Books on Burnside with the Ace Hotel on Stark. Not only is it a lovely space of rough-hewn beams with sun streaming in from above, but it also features an impressive line-up of tenants. These include Steven Alan, Danner, and Micah Camden’s Boxer Ramen. I also discovered two new favorites: Spruce Apothecary— check out the amazing fragrance lines they carry, and Marine Layer— for San Francisco-made comfy-stylish clothes at reasonable prices.

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Photo from Fast Company

BROWSE: the quarterly magazine and website of the resurrected Domino. The design magazine with a cult following is back with a new business plan. You can pick up the holiday issue, their first new issue in four years, on news stands until mid-January.

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EAT: a sampler of delicious and warming fall soups. Try this trio:

  • This roasted butternut squash and cauliflower soup from Whole Living is a long-time favorite at my house. It’s simple enough for everyday and elegant enough for company. The secret: the sweetness of the butternut squash is perfectly balanced by the cauliflower and balsamic caramelized onions.
  • I think I found the perfect lentil soup recipe this week, courtesy of The First Mess. I made two minor tweaks: I added a about half a cup of Pinot Noir Rosé add let it reduce a bit before adding the tomatoes for an extra layer of flavor, and for simplicity, I used Herbes de Provence instead of adding thyme and tarragon separately. Use French green lentils if you can, they keep their texture while other lentils will get a bit mushy.
  • At the top of my “to try” list is this leek fennel apple and walnut soup, also from The First Mess. The unique flavor combination (not to mention the gorgeous photo) caught my attention.

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LEARN: all about the many types of gluten-free flour and their respective strengths in this brilliant compilation from Meg of Beard and Bonnet. Bonus: Meg provides a curated list of amazing-looking recipes for each flour type. I want to bake my way through pretty much the entire list. Thanks, Meg!