I'm Moving!

The Italian Dish food blog is moving and I'm very excited.
Blogger has been a wonderful platform for me and they couldn't make blogging easier. But after blogging for so long now, I've reached a point where there were a lot of things I would like to do with the blog that I just couldn't do with Blogger. So thank you, Blogger, you've been great, but I'm moving to Squarespace. Squarespace is a blogging platform/web site hosting service that is amazing. You can customize your blog almost any way you like. It is much more advanced than Blogger, but it is worth learning because you have full control of your site without having to rely on a designer for any change you might want to make. The degree of customization available for everything on the blog is exceptional, and you still don't need to know how to write code. And one of the biggest pluses - they have support. Blogger forums were hit or miss to get a question answered and Squarespace has incredible support, with questions answered right away. It's been very impressive.

What does this mean for readers? If you subscribe to this blog via e-mail or an RSS reader, you should receive all future posts (please let me know if you do not). If you have this site bookmarked, you need to update the bookmark to:

Thank you to all you readers who have cooked along with me and read this blog. Jump on over to the new site and check it out. Let me know how you like it or if you see that something is not working correctly. I'm sure there will be a few bumps along the way, so please let me know!
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Italian Potato Salad with Green Beans, Tomato and Pancetta

(Please note that I have moved my blog as of September, 2009. To read this post please go to: http://tinyurl.,com/y9z5k38. Please hop on over and visit me at my new site. Thanks!)

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Plum Almond Cake

(Please note that I have moved my blog location as of September, 2009. This post is now here. Please jump on over to the new site to read this post and my newer posts. Thanks!)

Last year at this time, when plums were in season, I posted a recipe for Chez Panisse's Plum Tart that people still e-mail me about. This year, for plum season, I wanted to share a recipe for an incredibly easy dessert that you can enjoy the next morning with your coffee. It's like a plum cake that takes only a few minutes to assemble and then bake. Since it only uses egg whites, I save my egg yolks and the next day I either make fresh pasta with them or some kind of delicious chocolate dessert that requires egg yolks.

I made this dessert in a 9x9 tart pan with a removable bottom, but you can just make it in any small baking dish. Do not use something as large as a 9x13 baking pan. A 9x9 cake pan is fine.

I used Stanley Plums, simply because they were at the Farmer's market. They are a nice plum but do not have a real depth of flavor like some others. Use whichever is your favorite plum for this recipe.

I love this dessert because it is not overly sweet. Brian and I enjoyed it with a wonderful glass of Sokol Blosser white dessert wine that we picked up when we were in Oregon. It truly is "a glass of golden perfection" and it was heavenly with this cake.

Plum Almond Cake

for a printer friendly recipe, click here

5 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup almond flour
1/2 cup flour
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 Plums, halved and pits removed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour your tart or cake pan. In a large bowl, mix the egg whites and sugar vigorously with a wire whisk for a couple of minutes. Add the flours and whisk again and then add the cooled butter, almond extract and lemon zest and whisk until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place plum halves on top of batter.

Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown.

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For Tomato Season: Roasted Tomato Soup with Parmesan Crisps

(Please note that I have moved my blog as of September, 2009. This post is now here. Please hop on over and visit me at my new site. Thanks!)

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Pasta with Roasted Beets, Beet Greens and Pine Nuts

(Please note that I have moved my blog as of September, 2009. This post is now at: http://tinyurl.com/ycg3jor. Please hop on over and visit me at my new site. Thanks!)

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Cherry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream (with Cherry Pie)

So many people are looking for cherry ice cream recipes right now, I thought I would go ahead and share this wonderful version of the usual cherry ice cream we make. The combination of chocolate and cherries together is delicious. I paired this with a homemade cherry pie and thought I would go ahead and include that recipe for those of you who might want a good pie recipe. You can make any kind of berry pie with this recipe - blueberries, raspberries, huckleberries, or blackberries.

For a printable recipe of both the ice cream and pie, click here

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups half n half
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup pitted cherries, pureed in food processor
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces chocolate, broken into small pieces (I used bittersweet 60% cocoa chocolate, but you can use any kind you like)

Heat cream, half n half and sugar in a small saucepan until sugar completely dissolves. Add vanilla and cherry puree. Transfer to a bowl or 4 cup pyrex and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until completely chilled. Transfer to your ice cream maker and process for 25 minutes or until as thick as desired. Add chocolate and process a minute more, just until mixed in. If you are not eating the ice cream right away, transfer to a plastic container and cover surface completely with plastic wrap and freeze.

Cherry Pie


3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup ice water

Place dry ingredients in a food processor and process for a couple seconds. Cut up the butter and add through feed tube, processing using on and off pulses, until it resembles course bread crumbs. Add ice water slowly through feed tube (do not add ice) only until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove dough and cut into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into discs, place each between two floured sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for one hour.

Pie Filling:

5 cups pitted cherries or berries
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons heavy cream for glazing
Sugar (I used Raw sugar) for sprinkling

Prebake the pie shell*: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the larger piece of dough between two floured pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper, to make rolling easier. If dough is not pliable yet, whack it with the rolling pin a little. When dough is slightly larger than a 9 inch pie pan, remove top piece of plastic wrap and place rolling pin on dough and gently roll up dough around pin, transfer onto the pie pan and unroll dough. Press into pie pan and crimp the edges as you like. Place a piece of parchment paper or foil over dough and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake until the rim of the crust just feels set, about 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully lift the foil or parchment paper and the weights from the crust.

Prick the bottom and sides of the pie crust in several places with a fork. Return the shell to the oven. Bake until the crust is almost done but not browned, about 8 minutes longer. Cool the pie shell for about 15 minutes before filling.

Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the cherries with the sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest and juice. Transfer to the pie crust. Dot with the butter.

Roll out the remaining dough into a circle the size of the pie. Using a 2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough. Place in a decorative pattern around the top of the pie. Gather scraps and continue to roll out dough and cut rounds until the top has been covered.

Brush the top with the egg glaze and sprinkle with the sugar. Cover the rim of the pie with aluminum foil strip or a
pie shield, which is what I use, to prevent the rim from overbrowning.

Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook until golden brown, watching carefully, for about 30 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Resources and tips:
*Improve your pie making. Pre-baking your pie shell before adding the filling will ensure that you have a nice crisp bottom crust. If you don't, the filling can soften the bottom crust and it won't be as good. It may sound like a lot of trouble, but once you do it and realize how easy it is, you will want to always do this. Invest in some pie weights and prebake your pie crusts. For years, I had a jar of dried beans that I used as pie weights and they worked fine. Then I bought these nice pie weights and they work even better.

To prevent the rim of the crust from overbrowning, you can cut out strips of aluminum foil and gently place these over the rim. Using this pie shield, however, is far easier .

I use the Cuisinart ice cream maker. This makes 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream. If you ever want to do a double batch of ice cream, however, or make two kinds of ice cream the same day, you might want to invest in an extra freezer bowl. You cannot use the same freezer bowl the same day to make ice cream. It will not be cold enough for the second batch, even if you place it in the freezer for a couple of hours in between batches.

To make pitting cherries faster and easier, I use this cherry pitter from Leifheit. You really won't believe how fast you can pit cherries with this thing.
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Food & Wine in Oregon

It has become a summer tradition for us to make a trek to the Pacific Northwest. For three years we have gone to Seattle, as you may have read in this post from last year and we absolutely love that area. This year, however, we decided to finally check out Oregon. We had heard and read about the great food and wine culture there and the beautiful coast. And boy, did Oregon deliver.

We first drove down into Oregon wine country and couldn't believe how beautiful it was. We stayed at the Black Walnut Inn, which looked liked it was set in the hills of Tuscany. It was a very special place, with beautiful rooms and wonderful owners and staff. They serve an incredible breakfast, with several outstanding choices. We were given turnovers of fresh blueberries in phyllo dough to eat while we looked at the menu.
The breakfast pizza at the Black Walnut Inn.

There are so many wineries in the Willamette Valley that you would need a whole week to really do the area justice, so we had to be selective. The area is, of course, known for its great Pinot Noir. But we first went to the tasting room of one of our all time favorite wines, Argyle. We really love sparkling wines and have bought Argyle through the years. They make some outstanding sparklers.

We also wanted to hit Domaine Drouhin, a big name in wine in France which has successfully made some great wines in Oregon now. Laurène is their flagship Pinot Noir and it is exceptional.

The lavender garden at Domaine Serene:

One of the best dinners we had on this trip was at a charming little place in wine country in Newberg called The Painted Lady. The restaurant was located in a lovely old home and we really loved the menu. It was a four course tasting menu and for most courses there were two or three choices, with a wine pairing. There were also additional caviar or cheese courses, if you wanted them. We had Potato Gnocchi with a Wild Mushroom Ragout, Halibut and Cauliflower Ravioli with Saffron Mussels, Pork Belly on Polenta, and a risotto, among other dishes. We discovered that Oregon produces almost all of the hazelnuts in the United States, so I had to try the hazelnut tart for dessert. The Painted Lady uses lots of local ingredients and the staff is very knowledgeable about local wines in the Willamette Valley.

Sokol Blosser wines, glass blowing in Cannon Beach

Out on the Oregon coast, we experienced a real treat at the EVOO Cooking School. This wonderful place is located in picturesque Cannon Beach, a gorgeous little coastal town. The school is run by Chef Bob Neroni and his wife, Lenore. It is a unique experience that anyone who is in this area should try. They offer dinners in the evening that are far more fun than simply going out to dinner at a great restaurant. The dinner we attended was called The Dinner Show and that's exactly what it was. You are seated in their beautiful kitchen at the school, which has a counter running all around the workspace. It was lined with dinner place settings, candles and a little booklet for each person containing the evening's recipes.

Chef Bob is a passionate teacher and he and Lenore make a great team. They talked about how they used local Oregon ingredients and offered lots of cooking tips, like the importance of mise en place. It was so much fun to watch Bob cook - he was calm and confident, cooking so many items and totally in control.
All the courses were paired with carefully selected wines. We had some wonderful items that night, from wild salmon to grass fed Oregon beef. Chef Bob made homemade coriander pasta and an incredible dessert, chocolate sour cream cake with meringue, which he browned right at the table with a blowtorch.
If you are in Oregon, or ever visit, put this on your list. If not, at least visit their fun web site - it's filled with great recipes and photos and Bob also writes a blog.

In the city of Portland, we tried to do all the "must see" Portland things - like going to Powell's books, Saturday Market, the Japanese and Rose Gardens and hitting VooDoo donuts.

The line at VooDoo donuts and some of the crazy concoctions they make there.

Crispy Rolls at Silk in the Pearl District, the enormous Powell's books, the Julia Child Rose in the International Rose Test Garden

No visit to a large city is complete without a stop to Sur la Table. While browsing in the Pearl District's store, we met Renee Behnke, the woman who founded Sur la Table and is now President Emeritus. She has just come out with a new cookbook, Memorable Recipes, and she was nice enough to chat with Brian and I for a while and tell us some great stories. What an interesting person. She is a cook and hostess extraordinaire and she includes all her favorite recipes in this great cookbook.
Renee Behnke and her new cookbook.

Because Portland has so many outstanding restaurants, it was really hard to choose where to eat. But I made some reservations before we left on our trip, making sure that we ate at a couple of places that have gotten national recognition. One of these was Beast, whose chef and owner, Naomi Pomeroy, was named one of Food & Wine's best new chefs of 2009. Beast is a communal dining atmosphere, which is not unusual in Portland, and it made for an interesting evening. We met some nice people and enjoyed discussing the food. It has two seatings and we were at the 6:00. Beast has a six course prix fixe menu with an wine pairing option. They also have an open kitchen, so you can watch them prepare the dinner. Did Beast live up to its hype? Some courses did, others did not. The chilled cauliflower veloute was pretty but tasteless - what was the point? They had their charcuterie plate which was very good and the duck she prepared was outstanding. At the end of dinner, they served a little treat to everyone - candied bacon dipped in chocolate! It was delicious. The service was excellent, too, with none of the arrogance that some people claim the servers have there. The big downside to the evening was that their air conditioning just doesn't keep up and so by the end of the evening, everyone was sweating and fanning themselves. I felt sorry for the people coming in for the 8:45 seating.

Charcuterie Plate at Beast with raw quail egg & foie-gras bon bon

The absolute must in Portland is Pok Pok. This Thai restaurant started out as a little take out shack in chef/owner Andy Ricker's driveway. No kidding. It just got bigger and bigger and he opened a dining area, called the Whiskey Sour Lounge, in his dining room. That's where we ate. Pok Pok was the Oregonian Restaurant of the year in 2007 and was written up in Food and Wine magazine in an article that included some of their recipes. The hype on this restaurant is well deserved. We absolutely loved it. Andy Ricker is dedicated to serving the most authentic Thai food. We wanted to try everything on the menu, but had only one night. The Pok Pok gin and tonics were amazing, using a special lime infused gin. We also had the famous fish sauce chicken wings, which we pronounced the best chicken wings we had ever eaten. Our mouths were on fire, but we couldn't stop eating them. The green papaya salad was refreshing, zippy and very unusual. If we're ever in Portland again, this is the place we will head to right away.

Giant grilled prawns at Pok Pok with spicy chili/lime sauce, the special Pok Pok Gin and Tonic

Another dining establishment in Portland that made the grade was Clyde Common. This was yet another laid back, communal seating type of restaurant with a very interesting menu. I loved the chicken fried chicken livers with lemon aioli and the English pea ravioli.

One of the more interesting places I couldn't wait to visit in Portland was The Meadow, which I had written about before in this post on The Daily Colander. Mark Bitterman sells all kinds of exotic salts and, being such a dedicated salt fan, I couldn't wait to browse the shelves. He had more salts than I've ever seen and very unique Himalayan salt blocks. I picked up a salt block and stocked up on some jars of salt, including my favorite, Fiore di Cervia.

The shop also sells some beautiful items. I picked up some American vintage salt spoons, little salt bowls that would be great for serving salt at a dinner party and a great rustic mortar and pestle set.

The shop was so interesting, also selling every kind of salt grater, gourmet chocolates, flowers and wines. They even had fresh farm eggs that day:

It seems like Oregon has it all - from the beautiful coastline with all its great seafood, to the Willamette Valley with all of its beautiful produce and wines, and to Portland's amazing restaurant scene. Even the Columbia River Gorge area is known for its orchards and wines.

Oregon Links:

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