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A multicooker helps make a deeply flavorful tortilla soup
Author: America’s Test Kitchen

This light yet deeply flavorful soup is a celebration of colors, tastes, and textures, overflowing with garnishes and tender shredded chicken. We wanted it to have authentic flavor with a streamlined method, and the multicooker was the perfect ally.

To replicate the traditionally deep, roasty, smoky notes of the broth, typically achieved by charring the vegetables, we used the saute function to brown some of the vegetables and aromatics. Using chipotle chili in adobo sauce (which are dried, smoked jalapenos in a spicy chili sauce) also added some smokiness along with a spicy kick, and a bit of tomato paste gave the base deep, savory flavor.

Since the tortillas are an essential component of the soup, we decided to add some tortilla pieces right to the pot to give the soup better body; the tortillas softened during cooking, and a vigorous whisk at the end ensured the pieces broke down. Since the base already had so much flavor, we found that making our own broth wasn’t necessary, so we used store-bought broth and quicker–cooking boneless chicken; tasters preferred thighs over breasts for their richer flavor.

Since the multicooker gave the soup great long-cooked flavor, we amped up the freshness and spice by stirring in additional aromatics after cooking. The tortilla strips are best prepared the day of serving. Different brands of corn tortillas may vary in thickness; the cooking time for the tortilla strips may need to be adjusted based on how thick yours are. Don’t skip the garnishesthey are an essential component of the dish. If you can’t find Cotija cheese, substitute farmer’s cheese or feta.

Tortilla Soup

Servings: 6-8. Pressure cook total time: 50 minutes. Slow cook total time: 3 hours 30 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tomatoes, cored and chopped

1 onion, chopped fine

2 jalapeno chilies, stemmed, seeded, and minced

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

6 cups chicken broth

10 (6 inch) corn tortillas (4 cut into 1/2 inch pieces, 6 halved and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch wide strips)

11/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed

Salt and pepper

8 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (2 cups)

1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro

Lime wedges

Using highest saute or browning function, heat 1 tablespoon oil in multicooker until shimmering. Add tomatoes, onion, and half of jalapenos and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, 2 teaspoons chipotle, and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth and tortilla pieces, scraping up any browned bits. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into multicooker.

• To pressure cook: Lock lid in place and close pressure release valve. Select high pressure cook function and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off multicooker and quick-release pressure. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.

• To slow cook: Lock lid in place and open pressure release valve. Select low slow cook function and cook until chicken is tender, 2 to 3 hours. (If using Instant Pot, select high slow cook function.) Turn off multicooker and carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 F. Toss tortilla strips with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and bake on rimmed baking sheet until crisp and deep golden, 8 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer strips to paper towel-lined plate and lightly season with salt to taste; set aside for serving.

Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks. Whisk soup vigorously for 30 seconds to break down tortilla pieces. Stir in chicken, remaining jalapenos, and remaining 1 teaspoon chipotle and let sit until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing toasted tortilla strips, Cotija, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and lime wedges separately.

Per serving: 394 calories; 195 calories from fat; 22 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 115 mg cholesterol; 649 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 27 g protein.

One-Pot Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies a game-changer
Author: KATIE WORKMAN, Associated Press

Mexican hot chocolate is a beloved beverage made from chocolate (yup, got it) and often cinnamon and another spice or two to bring up the heat. The combination of spicy and chocolate just plain works, and I wanted to see how it would translate into another beloved treat, the good old American brownie.

A few things to note:

1) Yes, yes, I get the humor in having the word “pot” and “brownies” in the title. I have another One Pot Fudgy Brownie in The Mom 100 Cookbook, and I’ve had to answer for the word choice more than a few times. Tee hee, very funny, but seriously, they are in fact made in one pot, so cleanup is awesome.

2) The kick from the spices — cayenne and cinnamon — is at first subtle, then more pronounced, and then fades, which means of course that you must go back and have another bite. And another. You could also add a pinch of ancho chili powder instead of the cayenne, or in addition to it if you’re feeling frisky as all get out. Don’t substitute regular chili powder or chili spice blend. These mixes have additional spices in them, like oregano and garlic, and while they might work wonderfully in chili or enchiladas, here they will confuse things.

3) When you add the eggs to the warm brownie batter, add them one at a time and beat them in quickly. This allows each egg to fully incorporate into the batter, and also ensures that the eggs blend in and don’t scramble while they sit waiting to be mixed in.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up brownie, but when you experience chocolate that packing heat, that’s a game changer. I first served these to a big group of grownups and kids, and after everyone took one there were four left. One brave woman reached for seconds. The rest of the group looked at each other until I cut the remaining brownies into halves, and then there were none.

One-Pot Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies

Servings: 24. Start to finish: 45 minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Large pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, or spray generously with nonstick baking spray.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently, until they have melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, then the cocoa powder. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Stir in the vanilla extract, and then the flour until completely incorporated. Stir in the salt, cinnamon and cayenne until blended. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 24 squares.

Per serving: 208 calories; 99 calories from fat; 11 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 56 mg cholesterol; 94 mg sodium; 25 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 17 g sugar; 3 g protein.

Instant Pot Mediterranean Lamb Stew a star recipe
Author: KATIE WORKMAN, Associated Press

Beef usually hogs the spotlight when it comes to stews, but there are plenty of other meats that can star in this quintessential, cold-weather comfort food. Pork, chicken and here, lamb, a big favorite of my younger son, Charlie.

This rich meat also takes well to many flavor combos, and in this recipe, some accessible, Mediterranean-inspired supporting ingredients turn the lamb into a truly delicious stew. If you are a chickpea lover, feel free to add a second can.

These instructions use an Instant Pot, THE appliance of the decade. The Instant Pot is a plug-in pot that performs as a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker and a few other impressive cooking tools. In this case, you will first be using the saute function and then the pressure cooker function to cook a tender stew in much less time than it would take otherwise.

Don’t have an Instant Pot? You can also make this stew in a slow cooker. Just brown the meat in the slow cooker if it has a saute function, or if not, brown it and saute the vegetables in a pot on the stove, and then transfer everything to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients, and cook on low for 8 hours.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot or a slow cooker, no worries! You can do all of the sauteing in a pot on the stove, and then add the other ingredients as directed and cook the stew, covered, over low heat for about 3 hours until the meat is tender. Give it an occasional stir to make sure the stew doesn’t stick to the bottom. If you prefer to put it into a 300 degrees F oven after all of the ingredients have been combined, that works, too — this should also take about 3 hours. Give that a stir if you think of it every once in a while.

If you don’t have brandy, add a healthy glug of red wine instead. This is a soupy stew, and would be fantastic ladled over noodles of any kind or chunks of steamed potatoes.

So, whether you approach this old school, new school or somewhere in the middle, the cooler days approaching promise to be flavorful.

Instant Pot Mediterranean Lamb Stew

Servings: 6. Start to finish: 2 hours in the Instant Pot, 9 hours in a slow cooker, or 4 hours on the stovetop or in the oven

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 pounds 1-inch cubes lamb shoulder or lamb stew meat

2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed, divided

1/2 cup sliced leeks

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup diced fennel

1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary

2 tablespoons brandy or cognac

1 (28-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cups beef broth

1 bay leaf

Chopped fresh parsley to serve

In a large shallow bowl combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add the lamb meat and toss to coat it.

Place the inner pot into your Instant Pot. Press the Saute button, and then use the Saute or Adjust buttons (depending on your model) to select the “Normal” or middle temperature. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the pot, and let it heat for 1 minute. Add the lamb in two batches and brown on at least a few sides of the cubes, about 2 minutes per side (if you want to brown all of the sides, go ahead, but it’s not necessary, and often the pieces of meat aren’t really six-sided “cubes”). Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a plate, add the remaining tablespoon olive oil if there is not oil in the pan, and repeat with the other half of the lamb.

Add the leeks, carrots, celery and fennel to the pot and saute without the lid on for 5 minutes, until everything is slightly tender. Stir in the rosemary, then add the brandy to the pot and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, bay leaf and lamb, and stir to combine.

Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Cancel, then press Manual or Pressure Cook and use the Pressure Level Button to select high pressure. Set the timer for 45 minutes. Note that the timer will not start to count down until the correct pressure has been achieved.

When the Instant Pot beeps, press Cancel. Let the pressure come down slowly for 30 minutes. Release the sealing valve, remove the lid and serve hot in bowls, with parsley sprinkled over the stew.

Per serving: 652 calories; 376 calories from fat; 42 g fat ( 15g saturated; 2 g trans fats); 97 mg cholesterol; 928 mg sodium; 35 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 34 g protein.

Dive into a rich dish of zucchini, basil and mozzarella
Author: ELIZABETH KARMEL, Associated Press

This summer, my sister, Mary Pat, traveled to Italy on a bike tour. One of the advantages of biking through Italy is that you can eat anything and everything you want and not worry a bit about the calories. Turns out, my sister’s favorite dish was actually a healthy dish of local zucchini, tomato sauce, basil and fresh mozzarella. It was served to her in a generous square like lasagna, but instead of noodles, the layers were made up of thinly sliced zucchini.

Once she got home, she started experimenting and re-creating what she ate from taste memoryand of course she told me about it! It sounded so simple, yet so delicious that I had to try it. I have now made it three times and decided to write it down and pass it along since there is still so much beautiful zucchini and squash available in the farmers markets. Better yet, in most towns, you can buy good zucchini all year long.

This is one of those dishes where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This dish has the simple flavors of Italytomatoes, basil and mozzarellalayered between thin slices of zucchini but the end result is positively addicting. Once you make it, you will find yourself making it again and again like my sister and me. It is savory and just rich enough to be crave-able but light enough that you feel like you are eating a dish straight from the garden.

My sister urged me to add tomato paste to the crushed tomatoes to make the sauce thicker and the tomato paste also makes it more flavorful and robust. I added some seasonings to compliment the vegetables including granulated garlic and herbes de Provence. If I had had a mixture of Italian seasonings, I may have used that instead. Either will work equally as well as they both typically include basil, rosemary and thyme. I also added shaved Parmesan cheese to each layer as it adds a “meatiness” or umami that contributes to the savory nature of the dish.

Before you assemble the dish, you must slice the zucchini with a mandoline and salt it to remove the excess moisture. The slicing of the zucchini, and prepping it for the casserole is a little time consuming but it is well worth the effort. It helps reduce the amount of liquid that cooks out but it also seasons each slice of zucchini making for a perfectly balanced dish. If you’ve made zucchini before without any salt, you know that it has a tendency to be a very bland vegetable, so this step is important. You also need to rinse the excess salt from the squash or the dish will be too salty. And, you need to dry the zucchini. The beauty of this dish is that you can make the dish in advance and bake just before serving, or make it and re-heat it. It’s just as good re-heated as it is freshly made.

This weekend, I made the zucchini gratinato and served it with beer-can chicken and cornbread, it was a dinner that delivered on taste, but was easy on the cookand that is my favorite way to eat and entertain!

My Sister’s Zucchini Gratinato

Servings: 9. Start to finish: 2 hours. Special equipment: Mandoline or V-slicer

3-4 large zucchini — you will fill a regular size colander with thin slices

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup unseasoned crushed tomatoes

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning

1/2teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/8teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4ounce fresh basil or one large sprig

1 large ball of fresh mozzarella, about 1 pound

2 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Clean and trim zucchiniyou can use a combination of yellow squash and zucchini if you like.

Using a mandoline or a v-slicer, slice all the zucchini into thin rounds. Sprinkle with kosher salt as you fill a colander with the slices. Let sit for 30 minutes. Some liquid will drain out of the colander so place in a clean sink or put a dishtowel under the colander.

After 30 minutes, run cold water over the salted zucchini slices for several minutes and toss the zucchini with your hands to make sure all layers are rinsed. Wrap the rinsed zucchini in clean kitchen towels to dry and drain. You want the zucchini to be as dry as possible. I divide mine into two different towels to dry.

Meanwhile, mix crushed tomatoes with the tomato paste, herbs, salt and pepper. This will be your tomato sauce for the layers. Reserve one cluster of leaves for garnish and cut the rest of the fresh basil leaves into chiffonade or tear into pieces and set aside. Slice the fresh mozzarella into slices and squeeze between paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Tear into pieces.

Preheat the oven to 400 F and assemble the dish.

Begin the laying process by coating the bottom of a 9-by-9-inch baking dish with olive oil. Lay down the squash in an even layer about 3 deep and make sure the layer is even. Spoon one-third of the tomato sauce on the squash and spread evenly. Scatter the basil, a third of the mozzarella and a third of the parmesan cheese over the squash. Repeat with the remaining squash dividing it between 2 layers. The top of the zucchini gratin should be the tomato sauce, basil and cheese.

Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 15 minutes covered at 400 F.

Remove the foil and reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Continue baking for another 45 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is brown. Let sit for 10 minutes and garnish with the reserved basil leaf. Cut into squares like you are cutting lasagna.

It’s just as good made ahead! Make as directed and re-heat in a 325 F oven covered for 45 minutes the day you want to serve it. When I re-heat the dish, I pour out any excess liquid that has collected in the pan before placing it in the oven.

Per serving: 182 calories; 107 calories from fat; 12 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 32 mg cholesterol; 393 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 11 g protein.

A bourbon bread pudding with a real taste of New Orleans
Author: America’s Test Kitchen

We started our New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding recipe by tearing a baguette into ragged pieces, which gave the bread pudding a rustic look. We then toasted the bread to a deep golden brown, which prevented the prepared recipe from turning soggy.

Once the custard set up in the oven, we sprinkled cinnamon, sugar, and butter on top and let it bake until the topping was caramelized. Then, for a real taste of New Orleans, we drizzled the bread pudding with our warm Bourbon Sauce.

New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce

Servings: 8-10. Start to finish: 2 hours, 30 minutes

1 (18- to 20-inch) baguette, torn into 1-inch pieces (10 cups)

1 cup golden raisins

3/4 cup bourbon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and chilled, plus extra for baking dish

8 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar

3 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 recipe Bourbon Sauce (recipe follows)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 F. Arrange bread in single layer on baking sheet and bake until crisp and browned, about 12 minutes, turning pieces over and switching baking sheets halfway through baking. Let bread cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.

Meanwhile, heat raisins with 1/2 up bourbon in small saucepan over medium-high heat until bourbon begins to simmer, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain mixture, reserving bourbon and raisins separately.

Butter 13-by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish. Whisk egg yolks, brown sugar, cream, milk, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk in reserved bourbon plus remaining 1/4 cup bourbon. Add toasted bread and toss until evenly coated. Let mixture sit until bread begins to absorb custard, about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. If majority of bread is still hard, continue to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Pour half of bread mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with half of raisins. Pour remaining bread mixture into dish and sprinkle with remaining raisins. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl. Using your fingers, cut 6 tablespoons butter into sugar mixture until size of small peas. Remove foil from pudding, sprinkle with butter mixture, and bake, uncovered, until custard is just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pudding from oven and heat broiler.

Once broiler is heated, broil pudding until top forms golden crust, about 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Serve.

Bourbon Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 cup bourbon

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch salt

2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Whisk cornstarch and 2 tablespoons bourbon in small bowl until well combined. Heat cream and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in salt, butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon. Drizzle warm sauce over individual servings. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)

Per serving: 681 calories; 361 calories from fat; 40 g fat (24 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 275 mg cholesterol; 207 mg sodium; 67 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 53 g sugar; 7 g protein.

In Our View: Keep Olson in County Seat
Author: The Columbian

Because of her vast experience in the community and her understanding of local issues, The Columbian’s Editorial Board recommends Republican incumbent Julie Olson in the race for Clark County councilor from District 2. As always, this is merely a recommendation; The Columbian trusts that voters will study the candidates and make an informed decision.

In examining the candidates, voters will find that Olson has a deep commitment to the community. She has served on the county Board of Health, the Columbia River Economic Development Council Executive Board, the Workforce Southwest Washington Executive Board, Council for the Homeless, and with several other local organizations. She spent eight years on the Ridgefield school board and was elected to a three-year term on the county council in 2015, following passage of the county charter.

During that time, Olson has been a thoughtful leader who works to solve problems rather than cling to political dogma. Representing a district that includes unincorporated areas north of Vancouver, such as Hazel Dell; La Center and Ridgefield; plus sparsely populated areas, she understands the county’s mix of urban, small town, and rural concerns.

Olson describes herself as “probably a social moderate” and has expressed a willingness to consider lifting the county’s moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses. She describes herself as a fiscal conservative and says, “We don’t ask for tax dollars unless there is a true need, and we are very respectful of how they’re spent.” At the same time, she understands that a growing county leads to increasing expenses and twice has voted for the permissible 1 percent increase in total tax levy.

Olson’s pragmatism appears to be in contrast to her opponent, fellow Republican Elisabeth Veneman, a political newcomer. We say “appears to be” because Veneman has been reluctant to share her views regarding the issues facing the county. She has declined interview requests from The Columbian, and the information she supplied for the Voters Pamphlet is long on rhetoric but short on details.

“I want a lower taxed, fireworks friendly, free parking at County Parks, Clark County,” she writes in the Voters Pamphlet. Those ideas might resonate with voters, but Veneman could bolster her campaign by answering questions about them and expanding on her vision for the county. Instead, we are left to wonder whether she has a realistic understanding of local issues.

During a recent one-on-one interview with Clark-Vancouver Television, when asked about development of the Interstate 5 interchange at 179th Street, Veneman expressed concern about the inclusion of light rail. To be clear: There has been no mention of extending light rail to 179th. Veneman said of homelessness: “A lot of times it’s a lifestyle choice. Sometimes it’s not.” And she seemed to confuse the county’s property tax levy with a state property tax created by the Legislature to meet the school-funding mandate from McCleary v. Washington.

Veneman — who has received support from former county Councilor David Madore, Carol Levanen of Clark County Citizens United, and outgoing state Rep. Liz Pike — might be a well-meaning candidate, but she has yet to demonstrate the knowledge necessary to help shepherd Clark County toward a prosperous future. Olson, on the other hand, has a strong record of leadership and service.

The Columbian’s Editorial Board believes Julie Olson is a clear choice to retain her seat as Clark County councilor from District 2.

Easy chickpea curry just might change your life
Author: Becky Krystal, The Washington Post

More than anything else in the entire world, I hate, with all my heart, hyperbole. (See what I did there?)

Food outlets are no less guilty than anyone else (me too at some point, no doubt). “This chocolate chip cookie is everything!” “How one grain of salt changed my life!!”

So I’m already kicking myself for saying this, but I’m going to share a recipe with you that … changed my life.

I did not grow up eating Indian food, much less cooking it. I tried it for the first time only as a senior in college, when I went out to eat with my then-boyfriend/now-husband. Once we moved in together, we started cooking together, and this Easy Chickpea Curry caught our attention. (I first learned about the recipe in a blog post about chickpeas by Kim O’Donnel, who had adapted it from the great Indian cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey.)

Indian cuisine often gets a rap as too complicated or too spicy or too time-consuming or too ingredient-heavy (or all of the above) to cook at home. This recipe disproves all of that — and happens to be bold and delicious to boot. It erased every bit of intimidation for me, and now my husband and I cook Indian food — often this very dish — almost every week. And chickpeas are practically their own food group in our house now.

The ingredients list may look long, but you probably already have most of them on hand. Many just get tossed into a blender or food processor for a blink-and-you’re-done sauce. The recipe is also fairly flexible — a little more or less of one spice (or even none of it) won’t make or break the dish. (Just don’t skip frying the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick in the skillet first, which helps bloom the spices and flavor the oil, and therefore the curry.)

Easy Chickpea Curry

Adapted from “From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes From the Indian Spice Trail,” by Madhur Jaffrey.

8 ounces ripe tomato, hulled and coarsely chopped

One 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

Fresh hot green chiles of choice, such as 2 or 3 Thai green chiles or ¼ to ½ jalapeño (optional; seeds removed, if desired)

1 cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1½ teaspoons salt

1 cup plus 6 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons canola or safflower oil

One 3-inch cinnamon stick

5 whole green cardamom pods, smashed with the flat side of a chef’s knife

2 bay leaves

1 medium onion, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)

2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 3 cups total)

Combine the tomato, ginger, garlic, chiles (if using), cilantro, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 6 tablespoons of the water in a blender or food processor. Puree to form a smooth, pourable sauce.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and bay leaves; stir for 30 seconds or until fragrant, then add the onion and potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion softens and the potatoes begin to turn golden.

Stir in the pureed sauce, so the onion and potatoes are well coated. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, then uncover long enough to stir in the chickpeas, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt and the remaining 1 cup of water. Once the mixture begins to bubble, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. (If the curry is bubbling too vigorously, reduce the heat to low.)

Allow the curry to cool for a few minutes, then discard the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Serve warm.

NUTRITION: Calories: 260; Total Fat: 10 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 600 mg; Carbohydrates: 35 g; Dietary Fiber: 8 g; Sugars: 6 g; Protein: 9 g.

Tomato, meet tasty tonnato
Author: Leah Eskin, Chicago Tribune

Aches and pains demand redress, which is to say complaining. Failing that cure, aspirin, hot tea and nap are indicated. The condition resistant to such treatment is acute, and sure to deteriorate: Booking a medical appointment induces its own aches and pains.

Many a patient who has exhausted tea and nap and doctor finds himself seeking a specialist, perhaps at a far-flung hospital, perhaps in a far-flung state, perhaps at a far-fetched price.

Which may provide relief. He is grateful for the care — but hardly surprised. This hospital is named for the kitchen’s best remedy: Mayo.

Tomato Tonnato

Prep: 10 minutes. Makes: About 2 cups tonnato sauce.

1 jar (6.7 ounces) fancy tuna (or substitute one 5-ounce can tuna in oil), drained

½ cup olive oil

3 anchovies

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 cup mayonnaise

Kosher salt

White sandwich bread

Beautiful, ripe, fresh tomatoes

Flaky salt

Capers, drained, rinsed and patted dry

1. Swirl: Pile into the food processor the tuna, oil, anchovies, lemon juice and zest. Swirl to a smooth paste, stopping and scraping down sides as needed, about 30 seconds.

2. Chill: Scrape paste into a bowl. Whisk in mayo. Taste this tonnato sauce, and whisk in kosher salt to taste. Cover and chill. Makes about 2 cups.

3. Enjoy: For the season’s best tomato sandwich, lightly toast two slices white bread. Slather with tonnato. Slice tomatoes into thick circles. Pile onto one slice of bread. Sprinkle with flaky salt and dot with a few capers. Close up sandwich and enjoy.

4. Create: Unless you compile a picnic’s worth of sandwiches, you’ll be blessed with leftover tonnato. The classic approach is to slice cold poached veal, douse and chill overnight. Tonnato also is delightful alongside sliced boiled eggs or tossed with roasted broccoli, green beans or other late-summer vegetables.

Proposed Vancouver development would include 3 houses
Author: The Columbian

Three houses would be built on a subdivided lot near the intersection of Southeast 73rd Avenue and Evergreen Highway under a proposal submitted to the city of Vancouver.

The Southeast 73rd Avenue Short Subdivision would have three homes on lots of 10,324 square feet, 12,059 square feet and 12,551 square feet. Layouts for the homes have not been determined, according to a pre-application submitted to the city.

The listed property owner is Virginia Montag of Portland; the applicant is Alfred Bookman of Portland.

The magic of espresso powder
Author: JeanMarie Brownson, Chicago Tribune

In our family, coffee and sweet treats go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Of course, we all enjoy coffee without sweets, but rarely the other way around. We criticize fancy restaurants that bring dessert but don’t offer coffee until afterward.

Hot coffee proves the perfect beverage to counter sweet flavors and lubricate cakey textures and flaky-crusted pies. It soothes the chill of frosty ice cream concoctions and cuts the sweetness of candy bars.

My mom baked a homemade sweet nearly every day when the five children lived at home. She served the dessert right after dinner with percolator-hot coffee with a splash of cold milk. Family vacations always entailed midafternoon Konditorei (pastry shop) breaks — complete with indulgent pastries and specialty coffees. Today, the “Konditorei” almost always sits next to the electric coffee maker in my parents’ kitchen.

In my house, the workday starts with strong, black coffee and a banana. On the weekends, I crave that combination in a decadent muffin format. Think of all the specialty flavors of the local coffeehouse crammed into one handheld sweet — chocolate, toasted pecans, cinnamon, vanilla, cream — with a coffee backdrop thanks to espresso powder.

Espresso powder deserves a place in the pantry. I add a little to nearly every chocolate dessert I make — not necessarily to add coffee flavor, but to enrich the chocolatey-ness. Iced coffee and banana smoothies likewise benefit from the coffee boost. It’s useful in savory applications too. For example, a spoonful in a pot of chili somehow deepens the chile pepper flavor. Mole sauces like the dark bitterness as does a pot of rich beef stew.

Serviceable Italian brands of espresso powder can be found in most large supermarkets. My favorite espresso powder can be ordered online from thespicehouse.com. It has a rich, velvety, deeply coffee flavor. You can use instant coffee powders instead, but choose a dark roast. Store the powders in the freezer to keep the flavor bold all year long.

To ease my conscience a tad, I use whole grain flour when making breakfast muffins. But no fear, these muffins won’t taste like health food if you choose white whole wheat flour. Made from a variety of wheat that has a milder, less nutty flavor than regular whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour has all the goodness without the heaviness. It is my preference when baking sweets, and is available from Gold Medal and King Arthur Flour in the supermarket aisle or online. I keep it in the freezer to prolong its shelf life.

If you like cinnamon in your coffee, boost the muffins with the addition of cinnamon chips. Otherwise omit them, and add more chocolate or peanut butter chips. White chocolate chips or small chunks taste great here too.

My sister makes a quadruple batch of buttery shortbread logs, dunked in dark chocolate and pecans, for the holidays. To my mind, adding some coffee flavor notes makes them the perfect everyday cookie to enjoy with a cup of joe.

When you love coffee, it often makes sense to put some of those dark flavors into the main course. Espresso with chili powder combines two dark, bitter flavors into a sum that tastes better than the parts. I love a chile-forward version with plenty of sugar on pork ribs and brisket. For lamb chops or duck breast, I use a less sweet version enhanced with ancho chile and a bit of ginger and sesame. To cool the effect, a side dish of creamy cucumbers does the trick.

Coffeehouse Banana-Nut Muffins With Chocolate and Cinnamon

Prep: 20 minutes. Cook: 25 minutes. Makes: 12 muffins.

These are delicious served warm. Or, when cool, wrap them in foil and place in a sealed plastic bag for up to 2 days. The muffins freeze well, too.

2 cups stone-ground, white whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons espresso powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon each: baking soda, cinnamon (optional)

2 large ripe bananas, peeled

2 large eggs

⅔ cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons safflower or sunflower oil

½ cup chopped toasted pecans

½ cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips

½ cup cinnamon chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips or more chocolate chips

Espresso glaze, recipe and ingredients at right

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 regular muffin tins with paper liners. Alternatively, line the tins with foil liners and spray the liners with nonstick spray.

2. Mix flour, espresso powder, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

3. Put bananas in a separate bowl. Mash smooth with a potato masher or fork. Stir in eggs until smooth. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Stir in oil. Add flour mixture, and fold gently to moisten all the flour. Gently mix in pecans, chocolate chips and cinnamon chips, if using. (Do not overmix or muffins will be tough. )

4. Use a spoon to divide the mixture among the muffin tins filling them to the top. Tap the pan on the work surface to release any air pockets. Bake, turning pan once for even browning, until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean, 22 to 24 minutes. Cool in the pans. Glaze when barely warm. Best served the day baked.

Espresso cinnamon glaze: Mix ½ cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons espresso powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon half-and-half (or milk or cream) in a small bowl. Mix until smooth, adding a few drops of half-and-half if needed to make a pourable glaze.

Nutrition information per muffin (with the glaze): 323 calories, 15 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 31 mg cholesterol, 46 g carbohydrates, 27 g sugar, 6 g protein, 312 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.

Mocha Shortbread Logs

Prep: 30 minutes. Chill: 1 hour. Bake: 13 minutes. Makes: 28 cookies.

To gild the lily, drizzle these with a little melted white chocolate after the dark chocolate is set.

For the Dough:

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup sifted powdered sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons espresso powder, to taste

½ teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

For the Glaze:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1. Put all dough ingredients into the large bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed until a smooth dough forms. Gather into a ball; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Pinch off a small nugget of the dough and roll in your hands to make a 2-inch log about ½-inch in diameter. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat to form all the cookies placing them on the sheets about 2 inches apart.

4. Bake until the bottoms are barely golden, 10 to 13 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

5. For the glaze, put chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium (50 percent power) just until barely melted, 1 to 1½ minutes. Stir in espresso powder until smooth.

6. Dunk one end of each shortbread log into the melted chocolate. Set dunked cookies on a wire rack over a piece of paper toweling, and let the chocolate firm. (They can be refrigerated if the kitchen is warm.) Store in a cookie tin for up to a week.

Nutrition information per cookie: 62 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 7 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 1 g protein, 6 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.

Ancho Espresso Lamb Chops

Prep: 5 minutes. Stand: 30 minutes. Cook: 8 minutes. Makes: 3 servings.

6 loin lamb chops, each about 1 to 1¼ inches thick, total 1¾ pounds

3 tablespoons ancho espresso rub, see recipe

Creamy cucumbers and chives, see recipe

Pat lamb chops dry and place on a broiler pan or a shallow baking sheet with sides. Press some of the rub into all sides of the chops. Let stand, 30 minutes. Or refrigerate up to 1 day.

Position the rack 6 inches from the heat source; heat the broiler. Broil the lamb chops, 4 minutes. Flip the chops; continue broiling until meat feels nearly firm when pressed (medium-rare), 2 to 4 minutes more. Transfer chops to a serving platter. Serve chops with a side of the cucumbers.

Nutrition information per serving: 444 calories, 29 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 147 mg cholesterol, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 40 g protein, 887 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

Ancho Espresso Rub

Prep: 5 minutes. Makes: about ½ cup.

If ancho chile powder is unavailable, you can substitute chili powder, but omit the cumin.

¼ cup pure ancho chile powder

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon each: espresso powder, dried minced onion

2 teaspoons each: salt, sugar

¼ teaspoon each: ground ginger, garlic powder

⅛ teaspoon ground cumin

Mix everything in a small bowl. Store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Nutrition information per tablespoon: 32 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 1 g protein, 767 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

Creamy Cucumbers and Chives

Prep: 10 minutes. Drain: 30 minutes. Makes: 4 servings.

6 small pickling cucumbers or 2 small seedless cucumbers, trimmed

Salt

¼ cup sour cream, plain Greek yogurt or store-bought ranch dressing

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives or green onion tops

½ teaspoon chopped fresh mint, optional

1. Slice cucumbers very thinly; place in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt; let stand over the sink, about 30 minutes. Squeeze the cucumbers lightly; pat them dry with paper toweling.

2. Put cucumbers into a bowl; stir in sour cream, yogurt or dressing, chives and mint. Refrigerate. Serve cold.

Nutrition information per serving: 40 calories, 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 3 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar, 1 g protein, 24 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

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