Monthly Archives: June 2013

Portland Dining Month – Trader Vic’s

Restaurant number two visited during Portland Dining Month, Trader Vic’s in the Pearl district. I have walked by this restaurant on numerous occasions and the Tikis in the doorway and cool gas lights have always made me smile. Again my dinner partner and I ordered different things and split everything.

First course – Oregon Salad – roasted local beets, hazelnuts and goat cheese with blood orange vinaigrette and Char Siu Pork—kimchee-spiced cucumber salad. Again beets in a  salad, LOVE IT. The hazelnuts were amazing on this salad, sweet and crunchy and the blood orange vinaigrette had a nice balance of sweet and tart and clung to the romaine lettuce. The char siu pork was tasty, smoky flavor from the signature oven all Trader Vic’s had and the cucumber kim-chee was crunchy, vinegary with good heat.


Second course – Roasted salmon – scallion-quinoa cake, caramelized shallot-bacon Brussels TV-entreesprouts, lemon-dill butter and Eight-ounce Prime top sirloin – white truffle mashed potatoes,  shitake mushroom ragout. I think the brussel sprouts were the best part of this dish, I could have eaten twice as many as they offered. The salmon was moist and the quinoa cake the salmon rested on was a great alternative to the “usual” type of starches. The steak was a bit more medium rare than the rare we ordered but it was flavorful and tender. The shitake mushrooms were incredible and a great compliment to the steak and mashed potatoes.

Third course – Mango-coconut cheesecake and Trader Vic’s Snowball. The snowball is vanilla ice cream covered with toasted coconut with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. This was a much more hearty dessert than I anticipated and loved the texture and chewiness of the coconut. The cheesecake was light and the mango puree…I could have licked the plate.


This was a great meal, the portions were generous and service was good. The kitschy South Seas decor was great to look at and you have to try some of their tropical cocktails. If you have having a hard time deciding, try the Mai Tai Wave. Guava was my favorite!



Gluten Free Muffins

muffinsMany gluten-free baked goods can have a gritty texture, funky taste and be really expensive. For those who have looked at gluten-free baking recipes, most start with “buy these 4-5 types of flours along with xanthan or guar gum you can make your own baking mix” What they don’t tell you is finding all those flours can take up a lot of time, can be pricey and your baking mix can go rancid in 3-6 months. Personally, I like to keep it simple and pay a little more for convenience and peace of mind. Pamela’s Pancake and Baking mix was an FABULOUS suggestion from a friend who has a niece with Celiac.

I followed the recipe on the package and didn’t like the consistency and added more fruit which increased the amount of muffins and made a lovely moist muffin! This recipe is also very flexible depending on what fruit you have handy, is getting overripe, you are cleaning out your fridge/pantry or have something yummy you’d like to add. Yield: approximately 8 regular sized muffins or 12 mini-muffins depending on how many add-ins you choose to have.

Dry ingredientsingredients

  • 1 1/4 C Pamela’s mix
  • 1/4 C hemp seeds, finely chopped nuts, etc. (optional)**

Wet ingredients

  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg


  • 1 C of fruit (bananas, applesauce-sweetened or unsweeted, pumpkin, etc.)
  • 1/2 C of mix-in fruit (blueberries, raspberries, cut up strawberries, dried fruit**)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tin(s). I don’t advise using paper muffin liners, I found I lose a lot of muffin stuck to the paper, even after it’s cooled
  2. Put your dry ingredient(s) into a bowl
  3. Add water, honey (greasing your measuring cup helps with extraction) and vanilla and mix, I like using a fork, less sticks than a whisk plus you get everything off the bottom
  4. Gently mix in the cup of fruit until well combined
  5. Fold in your “mix in” fruit to the batterbatter-spoon
  6. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, nearly to the top.
  7. Bake regular sized muffins for 18-20 minutes and minis for 12-14 minutes.
  8. Let cool for 5 minutes in tin and then remove to finish cooling, this will prevent them from getting soggy.


  • If  using dried fruit or chia seeds with your dry ingredients add an additional 1/8-1/4 C of water
  • If you are using sweetened fruit you can adjust the amount of honey
  • This recipe has no fat in it, the muffins will not brown like ones that had shortening or butter. If that is important to you I have found using a nonstick oil spray on the top of the batter will enable them to brown.

bananamashHelpful hint: Using a fork on a cutting board to mash your bananas is the quickest and easiest way I have found plus it keeps chunks of bananas relatively equal size

Timesaver: You can do a combo of regular and mini-muffins, easiest way is to put your regular muffins in the oven then fill your mini tins, by the time you are done, 5 minutes or so have passed and they can come out at the same time!

Portland Dining Month – Departure

Departure is on the top of the Nines hotel. The views of Portland are amazing! I have only had drinks on the rooftop bar and decided I wanted to have dinner there Portland Dining Month gave me the perfect opportunity to try this modern Asian cuisine.

My dining partner and I ordered each item on the menu and split everything, no food envy for us!

First course – the beet and mizuna salad with tamari cured egg, crispy seed cracker in a sesame vinaigrette was my favorite. It was a great balance of flavors, interesting mix of textures and I adore beets. The other salad had chili spiced shrimp with shaved asparagus, garlic in a ginger miso.

Second course – steamed cod was delicate and moist accompanied by steamed julienned carrot, scallions, zucchini. The whole dish was very pretty, light and elegant. Marinated flank steak with pea shoots, mint, ginger, red onion and avocado was delicious. My only complaint was the flank steak slices were a bit thick that you couldn’t bite through the slices of meat. I didn’t think to ask for a knife since I just committed and popped the whole thing in my mouth.


Dessert course – the coconut milk chocolate bar with mocha ice cream (yum!) adorned with crystallized ginger and spiced popcorn was delish! Chocolate lovers, get this dessert! On the fruitier side the rhubarb pâté on white chocolate puffed rice biscuit, strawberries and marcona almonds with a kalamansi (citrus) sorbet was tart balanced by the sweet of the biscuit. I have to admit, I was way fixated on the sorbet more than anything else.


I truly appreciate Departure has both vegan and gluten-free menus available. If you are 20130606-223501.jpgstarving, portions are not large but they are tasty.

By the way, completely failed in my Asian-ness, I only got pictures of dessert. I was too busy eating and forgot to get pictures of the rest of the meal!



Quinoa Salad

There are probably a BAZILLION variations of the quinoa salad on the interwebs, here are the parameters for mine. Note I said parameters, use this “recipe” as a way of creating your amazing one-of-a-kind salad! My “go to” set of ingredients include: sun-dried tomatoes in oil, Persian cucumbers, some sort of pepper, carrots, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese. Putting this on a bed of greens makes a lovely salad or in lettuce cups for a pick up salad.

quinoa salad


Cooked quinoa (cooking it in stock makes it tastier but this is optional)

Vegetable options – this is a great time to clean out the fridge or pick up seasonal fresh veggies or anything that just looks yummy, my go tos are: cucumber (I love Persian or English for the crunch), peppers (red, yellow, orange), carrots, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts (marinated is YUM), sun-dried tomatoes in oil, fresh basil

Protein options: feta cheese, marinated mozzarella, garbanzo or cannellini beans, cooked chicken

Dressing: olive oil, acid – red wine, white balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper. I love regular balsamic vinegar but the dark color will make your quinoa look yucky.

Directions (for approx 4 servings)

Into a bowl that will leave you room to mix:

  1. Chop your vegetables into equal bite sized pieces about 2 – 2 1/2 C of vegetables total
  2. Pour a 1/3 – 1/2 C of vinegar or lemon juice over your vegetables
  3. Add 1 to 1-1/2 C of cooked quinoa and stir. Add more quinoa if you feel the ratio doesn’t look right
  4. Add your protein – approximately 1 C and stir
  5. If you used sun-dried tomatoes in oil you may not need to add additional olive oil but if it looks dry add and 1/8 to 1/4 C and stir
  6. Taste, this is the most important part!!!
  7. Tinker – add more vinegar if needed or salt and pepper
  8. Eat at room temperature or chill for a couple of hours then serve

This can also be an amazing warm or room temperature salad using roasted vegetables instead of fresh.