You folks never cease to amaze me - I love what you do with food and I am so grateful that you share the bounty with my family and me.
Last Sunday was a lucrative 'food' day in the neighborhood.
Neighbor Greg Broderick had gone mushroom hunting with his sons and brother. He wouldn't tell me exactly where ('Oh, just out in the woods down by my brother's place') and eight-year-old Riley could only recall that they had to cross a log that hung over a creek to find the mushrooms. Greg shared a bag full of beautiful oyster mushrooms, as creamy white and delicate as freshly flipped crepes - which would have made a nice entrée presentation for them. Greg likes to sauté his mushrooms in a little butter and olive oil, then season them with salt and pepper - that's it. They were great.
As luck would have it, Jim and Ryan Russell, who live one house further down the street, had spent the weekend fishing. The trip had been bountiful; I raced back up the street with a bag full of shimmering rainbow trout.
Jim was barbecuing his trout whole, on an alder plank, seasoned with just a little salt and pepper. After twenty minutes or so on the plank, the fish were cooked to perfection.
My husband Mark plugged in his electric smoker and smoked the trout overnight. The delicate smoke flavor was perfect. The trout made a great addition sprinkled on salads the next day.
Need more examples of local people making excellent use of fresh Oregon products?
Willamette Valley Cheese Co. out of Salem has been creating excellent all Jersey cow's milk farmstead cheeses since 1962. Owner Rod Volbeda is excited - with good cause! - about his new sheep's milk bloomy rind cheese. He told me last week that he has been experimenting with the texture of the cheese and discovered that he could acquire the texture he was after by using his hands to scoop the curds into the forms rather than using a ladle. That is the kind of discovery you could only stumble upon, and I'm glad Rod 'stumbled.' If you haven't tried the new sheep's milk cheese, you are missing out. If you haven't tried ANY of Willamette Valley Cheese Co.'s cheeses, find their booth at the Lake Oswego Farmer's Market this weekend.
When it comes to food, Oregon has its fair share of those who 'just get it.' The rich abundance of foods inspires us to keep 'tweaking' a recipe - to take a food from exceptional to sensational. Ed Carlin of Portland is one such cook.
Ed Carlin was crowned 'King of the Grill' in McCormick and Schmick's contest earlier this month. Ed won with his original recipe 'Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Fajitas.'
Keep experimenting, friends! Your flashes of brilliance are delicious and inspiring.
Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Fajitas
1 pound shell-on (21 to 25 count) shrimp
½ cup hot water
1/8 cup kosher salt
1/8 cup sugar
1 cup ice
6 tablespoons Jake's Marionberry Chipotle Sauce
4 to 5 tortillas
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet onion
½ yellow pepper
½ red pepper
½ green pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus extra whole leaves for garnish
1 chopped Chipotle chili in adobo sauce to equal about 1 tablespoon
1 cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheddar cheese
Make brine by combining hot water, salt and sugar; stir until dissolved. Add ice. Place shrimp in the brine mixture and refrigerate for 15-25 minutes. While shrimp are brining, pre-heat grill. Dab a little water on each tortilla. Wrap tightly in foil and place on top shelf of grill to warm them. Check them periodically so they don't burn.
Place bamboo skewers (that have been soaked in water) into the onion every ¼ inch. Slice the onion between the skewers so you have large onion rings. The skewers help prevent onion from falling apart while grilling. Toss peppers and onions with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix well and put in refrigerator.
Combine sour cream, four tablespoons Jake's Marionberry Chipotle sauce, half of the Chipotle chili mixture, cumin, juice of one lime, chopped cilantro, garlic and a couple dashes of salt and pepper. Mix well and chill.
Drain shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. In a large mixing bowl, mix the remaining Chipotle chili, olive oil and Jake's Marionberry Chipotle sauce. Place shrimp in bowl and toss. Skewer shrimp and grill two minutes on one side. Flip and grill approximately one additional minute. Remove shrimp from grill and cool slightly on foil lined pan.
Place peppers and onions on grill until well cooked, but still with a little crunch left. Remove and place in a covered bowl or in foil to keep warm. Once shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel and remove tails. Squeeze juice of half a lime over shrimp. Remove skewers from onions, slice peppers into strips.
Serve fajitas buffet style with cilantro sprigs and lime slices, or pre-roll them for individual presentation. To pre-roll: Take a warmed tortilla, place about five or six shrimp and ¼ of grilled vegetables into the middle. Drizzle with 2 to 4 tablespoons of the Chipotle-sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and roll up fajita-style.
(Serve on a bed of crisp lettuce, with a slice of lime, sprigs of cilantro and extra sauce drizzled over the top.)
Ed and Victoria Carlin
Winners, McCormick and Schmick's King of the Grill Contest, 2006.
Randall welcomes your questions and food research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at bran