Friday, July 31, 2015

Sautéed Sherry Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Caramelized Onions, & Fresh Thyme + A Date Night Giveaway

Sautéed Sherry Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions & Thyme

I can’t believe another week has gone by already. Time just seems to be whizzing past these days; between work, taking care of all the pets and plants, and finishing up the living room remodel (aaaalmost  done painting the trim), I’m so exhausted by the time Jeremy comes home from work that all I want to do is curl up in the cool basement and watch Netflix until I fall asleep. The intense heat Oregon is experiencing this summer is depleting my will to cook lengthy meals, lest I leave the oven on too long and heat up the house more than it already is. But ordering out due to heat-induced laziness always makes me end up feeling even more lethargic.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Torta Della Nonna Italian Custard Tart

Italian Almond Custard by Eva Kosmas Flores-5

After traveling to Long Island for yet another trip this past week, it feels good to be back home again. Snuggling deep into a mound of pillows with Jeremy and the pups, knowing the contents of each and every kitchen cupboard, and being able to make whatever I want on a whim. The summer heat is still going strong here in Portland, and for a Greek, lemon custards set the bar for summer desserts. There's just something about the way the acidity of the lemon pairs with the smooth and sweet filling, plus all the richness from the egg tones down the lemon's bite perfectly. And you can serve it chilled or at room temperature, which gives you a bit of flexibility. But there's a little something extra in here, and that's almonds. You see, torta della nonna means 'grandmother's tart' in Italian, and it's a traditional dessert recipe recipe from Italy that calls for a rich pastry crust filled with a thick custard, usually involving lemons and garnished with almonds. Back in Sweden I learned that soaked cashews could be pureed with a dash of liquid to form a wonderfully thick and pudding-like mixture (it's like a magically healthy pudding/whipped cream hybrid), so I applied the same concept to the filling and soaked some blanched almonds for a few hours before pureeing them with a dash of milk and honey. I mixed this with the standard custard filling fare (sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest) and ended up creating one of the richest and silkiest custards, ever.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Caramelized Fennel & Goat's Cheese Tart + A Visit To Ayers Brook Goat Dairy

Caramelized Fennel and Goat's Cheese Tart by Eva Kosmas Flores

I was in Vermont this past May, prepping at Carey's apartment for our Cape Cod First We Eat workshop. We drove from Vermont to Massachusetts with all our supplies piled tetris-style in the back of Carey's Subaru, but the day before we left we made a special visit to Vermont farm country to visit Ayers Brook Goat Dairy and Vermont Creamery. At the creamery, we had an amazing tour of all the cheese making action, led by Betsy and Joey. One of my favorite parts of the visit was tasting the fresh whey that was draining off the different cheeses. If you're unfamiliar with whey, it is the liquid that drains off of cheese curds when you're making cheese. You can replace water with whey to make very flavorful bread, and it can also be used to make very tasty salad dressings. At the creamery, they give all their whey to local pig farmers, because apparently pigs love whey and its full of healthy probiotics for the pigs' tummies. We tasted whey that was draining off of the feta cheese, which was a more tart and tangy flavor, and the whey that was draining off the bijou, which had a very mild, slightly sweet, almost grassy flavor to it. The difference in flavor was due to the different cultures used to make the different types of goat cheese, it was really interesting to taste the flavor difference that early on in the cheese making process.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How to Make a Cocktail Shrub | Black Cherry Tarragon Shrub + The Silky Black Cocktail

Cherry Shrub by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

"It is hot."
Jeremy said the only thing that either of us could think of while standing under the searing July sun. 'Yes', I thought, 'it is terribly  hot.' But the heat rendered my reservoirs of speaking energy dry and I just solemnly nodded my head in agreement. Hot it was. And we still had so much of the chicken coop to build. Luckily, the coop was being built underneath an existing awning in the backyard, so we didn't have to be in the sun very much, but we did  have to pry up a bunch of concrete landscaping tiles to give the chicken run a dirt floor. This required using a crowbar to pry up each one, loading it into a wheelbarrow, and unloading them into the front yard to repurpose them as raised flower beds. Most of the walkway to the front is nice and shaded against the house, but once you actually get into the area where the raised beds are going to be, there is no relief from the sun. It just bores into your back as you pick up each concrete block and start stacking them together. It was the combination of this heat coupled with the intense physical activity that made me crave shrubs like a madwoman.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Plum & Summer Berry Lavender Crisp + A Falk Copper Giveaway

Plum & Summer Berry Lavender Crisp + A Copper Giveaway by Eva Kosmas Flores

After over two weeks away, I am finally back home in my little corner of Portland, riding the last of the heat wave that slammed the city while I was gone. Ten days in a row at over 90 degrees Fahrenheit is quite a lot for an area used to overcast skies and lots and lots of rain. The garden has exploded because of it, and the once uniform aisles are now overgrown with tomatoes, squash, and melon vines that have slowly but surely overtaken the yard. The chicks are now chickens, with all their fluffy down completely gone, and a whole new batch of flowers in the garden are blooming. It's crazy how much can change in just a couple of weeks, I almost feel like I was away for months with how different everything looks.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Gin Citrus Punch

Gin Citrus Punch by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

The heat makes me lazy. Once summer comes around and I am freshly reminded of the fact that my home has no air conditioning, I find it hard to peel myself from the cool sticky leather of my basement's sofa. I have to come across something really, really tempting to lure me away from the sweet solid 62 degree dampness of the cellar and a full netflix queue, and this gin citrus punch is one of the few things that qualifies. I love this recipe for several reasons; first, because of how easy it is so make (see heat = laziness), second, because of the refreshing flavors that are the essence of gin and citrus, and third, because of the mild but pleasing bubbly sensation that comes from the incorporation of tonic water.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Chickens

My Chickens | Bebe 1 week old by Eva Kosmas Flores of Adventures in Cooking

Those of you who follow my blog and instagram regularly know that I expanded my little brood of animals a little over a month ago with the addition of 8 baby chicks. I've always wanted to own my own chickens, not just for their eggs (although it is going to be SO awesome once they start laying and I can have a steady supply of tasty and organic ones), but I've always been fascinated by birds and their mannerisms. My yiayia kept chickens and wild turkeys on their pistachio farm back in Greece, and my parents have always had a fondness for birds, loading their backyard with several well-stocked bird feeders placed in key bird-watching positions, so it appears that love of fluffy feathers and weirdly jilted head movements has been passed on to me.

I wanted a wide variety of egg colors, so we wended up opting for 8 different chicken varieties and got them online. Yep, you can order live chicks off the internet and have them delivered to your house. While the idea of this kinda freaked me out, it is safe because the chicks absorb the yolk right before they hatch, which gives them all the nutrients they need to survive without food or water for a couple days while they're being shipped. This is because, out in the wilds of nature, the mama bird has to wait for all the eggs to hatch before she can take her chicks over to the water source (if she leaves the unhatched eggs they're vulnerable to predators), which can take a few days.

When they come, they're just little balls of down and fluff, and so damn cute it's frightening. Like the kind where you find yourself uncontrollably cooing ".....eeeeeeee!" out loud while you stare at them. They stay like that for a few days, but then, they start to change. It's insane how quickly they grow; I thought our chihuahua Ralph grew fast when he was a puppy, but that was nothing compared to these guys. I have photos below of each of the birds, the first one is taken at 1 week old and the next is taken at 1 month old, so there's about 3 weeks of time that's passed between the two, and the chicks look  so different. Right around the 1-month mark, they've hit their awkward teenager phase. They're starting to loose their fluffy down in patches, and their actual feathers are coming in in its place. It's pretty funny-looking, the remaining down is sticking out in weird places, especially on Daphne and Maris' heads. Oh, and I forgot to mention, they're all named after characters from Frasier. You might not think that there's 8 female characters on the show, but as it turns out, there are! And most of them are oddly fitting for hens (Lilith!)

So I have a little about each one and their breed below, I hope you enjoy looking through my brood of  chicks (pardon the paint on Jeremy's hands, it's from coop-painting!), and if any of you are current/former chicken owners and have any tips on raising them, I'd be much obliged! I read these two books to cover, but firsthand experience is always the best kind. We'll be moving them out to the coop Jeremy just is nearly finished building (will share that another time), so any tips on transitioning them from the brooder to the coop would be much appreciated!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cabernet Rack of Lamb With A Mint, Pistachio, & Fennel Pesto + A Portland Dinner Series

Cabernet Rack of Lamb with a Mint, Pistachio, & Fennel Pesto by Eva Kosmas Flores

I have another awesome event coming up that I'm really excited to share with you guys. I'm hosting a pop-up summer dinner series here in Portland with Christiann of Portland Fresh and Suzanne of Pink Slip Jam. The first dinner takes place on Saturday July 18th; we'll be making an insane amount of delicious pacific northwest summer fare, and there's going to be lots of delicious wine, refreshing cocktails, and of course, lots and lots of cheese. I'm particularly excited for this because I really, really, love throwing dinner parties, especially in the summer when everyone can sit outside and enjoy the lush green garden. There's just something about people sharing good food and drink right under the stars and laughing until the sun goes down that makes me more content than anything else in the world. I'd love to have you join us! You can purchase tickets and read more about it below, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Croatia Photography, Styling, & Truffle Foraging Workshop + Strawberry Vanilla Toasted Oak Ice Cream

Croatia Photography Workshop + Strawberry Vanilla Toasted Oak Ice Cream

I am *so* excited to announce that registration is now open for my Croatia styling, photography, and truffle foraging workshop. Yes, you read that correctly, there will be a guided excursion into the Croatian forest for hands-on truffle foraging (and eventual truffle eating). I'll be hosting along with Carey as a part of our First We Eat travel-based workshop series. We'll spend our days in a restored stone farmhouse perched a top a hill overlooking the Mirna river valley, right in the middle of Istrian wine and truffle country (you can see photos of the location on the workshop registration page). The home is complete with a large stone hearth in the kitchen, where we'll be making many a wood fire-roasted meal, and is equipped with all the modern luxuries, including a large tranquil swimming pool where we'll lay back in the evenings and take in the incredible surroundings. In addition to the truffle foraging, we'll also be going on a trip to a neighboring farmhouse to view the beekeeping process. There will also be an afternoon picnic outing to the ancient town of Porec, Croatia's answer to Venice, as well as a trip to the nearby Hum, a medieval stone village known as the smallest town in the world. I'd love nothing more than to have you join me in this incredible experience, you can read more details about the event and register at the link below, if you have any questions don't hesitate to reach out.

Monday, June 8, 2015

How to Start Seeds & Transplant Plants

How To Start Seeds by Eva Kosmas Flores | Adventures in Cooking

I've been gardening since as far back as I can remember, my actual earliest memory ever is of working out in the yard with my dad. I was attempting to help him harvest carrots, but when I pulled up on my carrot the top broke off, and when I flipped it over to look at it, saw that it was completely full of bugs (apparently they had eaten through the carrot part). I screamed, threw it across the yard, and ran inside. Luckily, that experience didn't mar my future gardening endeavors, and I got over it as quickly as most three year-olds do. Once we moved to our new house when I was about 3 and a half, each of us three kids got to pick a seed we wanted to start and those three veggies would be the first harvest from the new garden. I planted a radish, my sister planted a carrot, and I can't remember what my little brother planted. A melon maybe? I don't know. But the only one that came up was my radish, and I could hardly believe that this little speck I dropped in the ground actually turned into something. As I got bigger I attributed this to my green thumb, but having worked with seeds and plants for many years, I know that this was most definitely because radishes are pretty much the easiest things to grow from seed, ever. Carrots take their time to sprout, and melons need some pretty warm weather to get going, so mine was the first to come up. Still, it gave me a firm footing in the garden, and many years and plants later, I still get a huge burst of excitement every time I see the tip of a little green sprout start to break through the soil's surface. It's like each one is a little friend poking out to say hello! (If you weren't sure if I was a weird plant lady or not, I'm pretty sure that question has now been answered). So today I am going to go over how to start your own seeds, so that you can not only experience this wonder first hand, but end up with some delicious home-grown fruits and veggies, too! Because the vegetables and fruits from your garden will taste soooo much better than the stuff you can buy at the store, plus you can grow old heirloom varieties that you straight up cannot buy anywhere.