End of Summer Classes

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It’s so hard to believe my next two weeks of class consist of finals and deep cleaning the school kitchens!

These last 9 weeks have gone so fast and I’ve had so much fun in both of my classes.

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I’ve made all kinds of cakes and mousses in my European Cakes class and in Garde Manger I’ve made everything from soups & salads to sandwiches and cold seafood dishes.

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Speaking of Garde Manger, our final is a fundraiser for a local organization and my class is responsible for all of the food. We’re doing little small dishes — things that can be eaten in one or two bites. We did a run-through of everything last week and its all going to be so good!

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I’m responsible for making peach upside-down cake and vanilla bean ice cream. I wouldn’t consider myself a peach fan, but this cake might have changed that. Delicious. The recipe is from my instructor and I’ll be sure to share it with you all once classes have wrapped up. You’ll love it.

I’ve been up to a lot over that last few weeks. Spending time downtown in my friend’s apartment while she’s been in Europe has made me never want to leave. I might take the leasing agent up on his offer to stay in the broom closet and be the building’s baking slave. Maybe.

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Had a girls night with two of my dearest friends about a week ago. We may or may not have consumed almost and entire bottle of gin. No shame. We laughed, talked, danced, dreamed and ate bread and cheese. It was pretty much the perfect night and I have some of the best friends in the world.

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Also made these Joy the Baker apple pie biscuits on Friday. These squares of yum are the second in her Baking Bootcamp partnership with King Arthur Flour. I don’t think I’ve ever made biscuits this easy before. The filling is an apple, cinnamon, brown sugar dream and it has made me so excited for autumn to come around and all the wonderful thing to be baked during that season. These biscuits were a hit! I’ll have a post up soon about how I made them and the fun Mary and I had doing it. You all should definitely try it.

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I hope the end of your summers are wrapping up nicely. I’m ready to get rid of the 90° days we’re having here in Portland and welcome Autumn with open arms.

Butterscotch M&M Cookies

Let’s talk cookies.

Specifically, these killer butterscotch M&M cookies.

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These cookies were a hit with everyone I gave them to. I’m staying at my friend’s apartment while she’s traveling through Europe, so I have lots of people to test all of my recipes on. I gave a plate to her neighbours (literally the sweetest people in the world) and took them to the guys that work downstairs.

One of the guys that works down there, Zach, ate an entire plate by himself. In one day. Even the guy that (kindly) refuses our food when we offer it to him had one. So I’m going to go ahead and toot my own horn about these little suckers.

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These are colourful, vibrant, sweet, soft and I think they taste even better the day after you bake them.

They are also incredibly easy to make. And bonus – if you get a big enough bag of M&M’s, you can have some to snack on while you’re baking. I fully support that.

Just make sure you have enough for your cookies.

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This recipe will make quite a few cookies, depending on how big or small you make them.

Try not to eat them all at once :)

Butterscotch M&M Cookies: 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. hot water
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 1/2 cups M&M’s

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream together the butter and both sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla extract. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water. Add to batter along with the salt & cream of tartar.
  3. Add the flour, one cup at a time, making sure its incorporated before adding the next cup. Finally, add the butterscotch chips and M&M’s and stir to disperse throughout the batter.
  4. Drop by spoonfuls (I like to use a cookie scoop) onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.

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PDX Eats: Ataula

Portland is a hotbed of really, really good restaurants.

No matter what you’re craving, I can pretty much guarantee there is a restaurant waiting to fill your stomach with all kinds of gastronomic masterpieces.

I’m thinking about introducing a new section to this blog with my thoughts on some of Portland’s restaurants and I’m starting with Ataula.

Ataula is without a doubt one of my favourite spots in Portland. It’s a Spanish tapas restaurant located just off one of Portland’s most vibrant streets. The owner/chef is Jose Chesa, a native of Barcelona who has brought traditional, authentic tapas to Portland.

I went there a couple of weeks ago with two of my best friends to kick off my birthday celebrations and we had such a great time. You can see the kitchen from the dining part of the restaurant, which I really like. Towards the end of the meal Chef Chesa came from the kitchen to the dining area and talked to the people dining. I’ve never been to a restaurant where that occurs before and I was very impressed.

Now for the food/drink.

Let me start with the sangria.

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I could drink this sangria all day long. They offer three different kinds — white, rose, and red. The three of us ordered all three and we enjoyed all of them. My personal favourite was the red. It had the absolute perfect combination of flavours. It was almost like a “comforting” drink whereas I would consider both the white and rose to be more light and refreshing. You can’t go wrong with any of them though. They offer all kinds of beverages, but I would highly recommend you order one of the sangrias.

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Now the food.

We ordered a few tapas and one of the paellas they offer. To say we were impressed with the food would probably be the understatement of the year. We absolutely loved it. Everything was so flavourful. I haven’t been to Spain, but it all tasted how I imagine it would taste in Spain.

We had the “pa amb tomaquet” which is house-made bread with shredded tomato and extra-virgin olive oil. Quite possibly my new favourite way to eat bread.

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The berenjena is eggplant fries with a romesco dipping sauce. YUM. That sauce was on a whole other level — it paired perfectly with the eggplant and was delicious on its own.

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We also had a delicious rabbit dish — rabbit loin wrapped in some serrano ham on a bed of veggies with a dehydrated potato crisp on top. Might have been my favourite dish of the night. Before my friends and I made the Valencian paella, I’d never had rabbit before but oh my goodness is it good. The whole dish was superb.

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Finally, we had the rossejat. This is actually their noodle paella dish — it contains toasted noodles, chicken and chorizo. If a traditional seafood paella isn’t really your thing, this is a great alternative (they also have a vegetable paella which is good).

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I’ve been to Ataula a couple of times and I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve ordered. If this is what Spain tastes like, I’m going to have to immediately get on a plane and go there.

I highly recommend if you live in Portland, or ever find yourself in the Rose City that you go there. And take me with you :)