Saturday, April 18, 2015

Copper River Restaurant & Bar - A Review

-
My mother is an animal lover, so I popped for tickets and took her to the opening of Disney's new documentary, Monkey Kingdom.  After the movie she returned the favor by treating me to a late lunch/early dinner at the newly opened Copper River Restaurant & Bar at 7370 NE Cornell Road Hillsboro, OR 97124.

The restaurant sits where, the now defunct, Hillsboro branch of the On The Border used to be.  Local restaurateur, Christie Burnett, oversaw the building's remodeling which features a fully stocked centrally located bar, a window enclosed dining patio, dark walls, and dimly lit box shaped chandeliers.  The new look gives the restaurant a pleasant air of sophistication without coming across as being stuffy.  On the off chance stuffiness had been a question, our friendly, chat eager, waiter, Alex, belayed such fears with his recitation of the establishment's brief history and his interest in my views on the upcoming Pacquiao/Mayweather fight.
Copper River's Strawberry, Pear, & Apple Salad
Subject: Copper River's Strawberry, Pear, & Apple Salad | Date: 04/17/15 |
Photographers: James & Bonnie Kiester | This picture was taken by the author of this blog. |

Choosing from the "Entree Salads" section of the menu, my mother had the $11.95 Strawberry, Pear, & Apple Salad, consisting of wild organically grown arugula, strawberries, pear & apple slices, grapes, crumbled Gorgonzola, candied walnuts, grilled chicken breast, and a bit of Romaine all dressed with a lemon vinaigrette.

I had a few bites of her salad.  The varied types of produce were fresh, crisp, and juicy, and their sweetness was complimented nicely by the salty blue cheese. The grilled chicken was well seasoned and tender with caramel colored grill marks and a savory grilled flavor.  Tying the components together was a lemon vinaigrette which delivered flavors of citrus and garlic.

Being the meat lover that I am, I had the $28.95 Filet Mignon from the "Grill Classics" portion of their menu. The steak was a 28 day aged center cut tenderloin, partially wrapped in smokey bacon, and topped with a demi-glace.  This morsel is served with rustic buttermilk mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables (in my case roasted asparagus).

I wish my picture of this gem and my dessert had been saved on my camera, but, alas, I'm a writer, not a photographer.

In any event, the steak was superbly seasoned and cooked to a perfect medium rare.  Its slightly sweet demi-glace mixed with the meat's juices, adding an additional punch of flavor.  Serving as a border between the meat and the creamy potato skin laced serving of mashed potatoes lay a strip of crisp bacon, which I added to bites of my steak for a supplemental hit of smokiness and light crunch.

My only complaint about the meal was with the asparagus.  It had a good roasted taste, but the woody ends were left on a third of the spears on my plate.  This can be the result of using one spear as a guide a chopping the entire bunch in single motion.  If the spears aren't EXACTLY alike, this short cut can result in woody ends being left on some spears and edible flesh being severed from others.

I was happy to see healthy selection of local beers on their beer menu, including Burnside Brewing's Sweet Heat.  I drank the sweet & spicy $6.00 pint with my steak and found it worked well against the savory beef.

Dessert was a pile of five hot Donuts (large doughnut holes), sprinkled with powered sugar and cinnamon, served alongside a jigger of warm house made caramel sauce.   Since we were there between 4pm & 6pm, we got the dessert for the $2.95 Happy Hour price.  The sweets were fluffy and light with a scrumptious cinnamon flavor, reminding me of Dutch Ebelskivers from my childhood.  The caramel dipping sauce added another level of rich sweetness to the already delectable dessert.

For the most part, this was a very pleasurable dining experience, the ONLY deficits being the aforementioned asparagus tips and the music being a few decibels too loud for my personal taste.  However, such hiccups won't keep me from returning to Copper River Restaurant & Bar, which has earned 9.3 out of 10 stars from me.


Copper River Restaurant & Bar's hours of operation are:
Sunday 11am to 11pm
Monday Tuesday Wednesday 11am to 12am
Thursday Friday and Saturday 11am to 1am

For more information visit CopperRiverRestaurant.com.
-

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why I Can't Review Fairlife Milk

-
Fairlife Whole Milk
Subject: Fairlife Milk | Source: Coca Cola Company's Press Release |
I was drinking a glass of milk yesterday, when I stopped, peered longingly into the glass, and thought, "Man, I wish milk was better for me."  OK, that never happened.  1 8oz cup of mainstream whole cows' milk has 11.03 grams of carbohydrate, 7.9 grams of protein, 276 mg of calcium, and 349 mg of potassium.  See a complete nutritional breakdown here.

Nevertheless, Coca-Cola has launched a new “premium” line of healthier milks, called Fairlife. To make their milk healthier, Coca-Cola separates the milk into five components; water, vitamins & minerals, lactose, protein, and fat; then remixes it into "a rebuilt lactose-free milk," which contains half the sugar and double the protein of the normal product.

I can't review it, because I'm never going to try it.  I'm a full fledged member of middle income America, and in my neck of the woods Fairlife milk is prohibitively expensive. Coming in whole white, fat free white, 2% white, and 2% chocolate, Fairlife milk’s national average price is $4.29 for a 52 oz. bottle. Since there are 128 oz in a gallon, Fairlife milk costs to $10.51 per gallon.

The average price of conventional milk, is $3.50 per gallon (according to Bureau of Labor Statistics).  Lactose intolerant shoppers can find Lactaid (the leading brand of lactose free milk) for $3.38 per half gallon ($6.76 per gallon) at Walmart.

It's not only the high price that keeps me from reviewing this product.  At best, I'd be able to verify Fairlife's claim that their milk tastes like milk, essentially saying nothing.  Besides, I'm not sure how much a lab can do to milk and still call it milk.

Unless someone is severely protein deficient, I see no reason to spend $10.51 per gallon on this milk.


-

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 2nd Is National Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Day

-
This week every food blogger, and their dog, are publishing recipes and wine pairings for Easter and Passover. In the past, I've done so here, here, and here. I've published the recipes, recommended the right wines, and even addressed the irony of serving ham to mark the resurrection of the King of the Jews. There's no need for me to rehash such topics this year.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich
Subject: Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich | Date: 11/11/2010 | Photographer: Evan-Amos |This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Evan-Amos. This applies worldwide.

This week I'm going to talk about a lesser known observance, since April 2nd is National Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich Day. Why Congress chose April 2nd to honor the childhood staple is a bit of a mystery. Nevertheless, the simple little sandwich has become as much a part of American childhood as bicycles, skateboards, and comic books.

While most of us have been aware of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches since being knee high to a grasshopper, the fact is the dish has only been around for 114 years. The first known mention of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich appeared in 1901, in the Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics, by Julia Davis Chandler:
"For variety, some day try making little sandwiches, or bread fingers, of three very thin layers of bread and two of filling, one of peanut paste, whatever brand you prefer, and currant or crab-apple jelly for the other."
Perhaps one reason for the popularity of the sandwich lies with the fact that, unlike cookies and cakes, the sandwich delivers a sweet taste while being considered to be relatively healthy.  A basic peanut butter and jelly sandwich consisting of two slices of white bread, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon of jelly delivers;
  • 5.9 grams of fiber (4 from the bread),
  • 380 calories, 
  • 13.45 grams of protein,
  • 19 grams of total fat, 
  • 3.72 grams of saturated fat, 
  • 8.86 grams of monounsaturated fat,
  • 5.33 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 
  • 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 
  • 45 grams of carbohydrates,
  • and 460 milligrams of sodium.
It's a bit high in sodium & fats, granted, but when compared to candy bars & donuts, it's a tasty carb & protein source to fuel an afternoon of cops & robbers.

Normally, I'd post a recipe at this point, but I'd wager that anyone reading this blog has this dish down cold.  In fact, the peanut butter & jelly sandwich is probably the first dish most of us learned to make as children.

That being said, I was at a sports bar, a few years ago, where I had a triple decker deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  The bread was crunchy and slightly salty from having been fried, the peanut butter became melty and gooey, and the whole sandwich took on a richer tone.  I found a recipe for a one deck version here, which you could modify into the three deck version.  Of course, doing so pretty much negates any of the aforementioned health benefits of the classic version.
-

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Nuts About Almonds

-
Food blogs can be inspired in the strangest of ways.  I was taking a shower and noticed my Head & Shoulders for dry scalp contains almond oil.  Intrigued, I decided to do some research to see if there were any actual advantages to such an oil being in shampoo.  Apparently, according to multiple beauty sites, the protein in almond oil helps cleanse and strengthen hair, and increases its elasticity.

As I paused to consider this idea, I glanced at my desk and spotted the can I keep next to my computer seven days a week.  It's a can of Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds.  Being surrounded by the things, I wanted to know more about them.

Almonds, or Prunus dulcis, are actually drupes (fruit containing a pit) rather than nuts.  However, because it's the pit that we eat, we refer to them nuts. As luck would have it, the drupes in question are one of the healthiest foods a person can eat.  In fact, the good people at Nuts.com supplied me with the following graphic outlining the health benefits of almonds.

Almond Chart
Subject: Almond Chart | Source: Nuts.com |

Regular readers of this blog know I'm not going to eat something simply because it's good for me.  Since I'm an out of the closet hedonist, a food has to taste good before I can get excited about it, and almonds definitely fit the bill.

Personally, I rely on them as a crunchy salty snack while I struggle to overcome writer's block.  Others use the milk as a lactose free alternative to dairy.  In addition to snacking and drinking, many people use almonds in a variety of desserts, including; Marji Stark's Scandinavian Almond Bars, Averie Sunshine's French Almond Cookie Cake with Apricot Cream Cheese Glaze, Almond Persimmon Cream Cheese Tart from Food52.com, and Annalise's Chocolate Almond Cake.

Not being a big dessert person myself, I prefer to use almonds in savory cooking.  The drupes can be used in a stir fry or to encrust a chicken.  However, in my mind, the most classic savory use for almonds is to put them over trout in Trout Almondine.

The average food snob will tell you, the dish was a 70s food fad and went out of fashion at the same time fondue and venison with cherry sauce left the popular mainstream.  Yet, I see the rich French dish as a classic, and classics never go out of style. 

I dug through my recipes, but couldn't find the Trout Almondine recipe I'd collected a decade ago.  Luckily, I finally found one by Metallica_Band at Food.com, added a note regarding the need for whole butter, and posted it below.

Happy Eating. 1 photo 121.gif

-

Trout Almondine
by, Metallica_Band at Food.com

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup butter (for almonds)
  • 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 4 (8 ounce) trout
  • 4 tablespoons butter (for trout)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • salt & pepper


  • Directions:
    In a small bowl, melt the 1/3 cup butter in a microwave for approximately 30 seconds. Add almonds and heat, uncovered, in the microwave for 3 minutes or until lightly browned; stir occasionally. Set almonds aside. Arrange fish in a shallow, 10-inch, heat resistant, baking dish. Place 1 tablespoon of butter on each fish and sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, and pepper, to taste. Cover with wax paper and heat for 7 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Spoon browned almonds over fish and heat, uncovered, in the microwave for 2 minutes or until heated thoroughly.

    Note:
    You want to use whole butter rather than clarified butter, because some degree of
    browning of the milk solids in the butter is desirable.

    -

    Recipe prints as a single pages for your recipe file or refrigerator.

    -