Tuesday, September 7, 2010

PFM Chef in the Market with Jenn Louis of Lincoln Restaurant

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of hosting the Portland Farmers' Market Chef in he Market with Jenn Louis, chef and co-owner of Lincoln Restaurant, a gem of a local spot in North Portland on North Williams, and owner of Culinary Artistry, the wonderful Portland caterer. Jenn and I made Ribollita, a hearty stew-like soup with a name that means "re-boiled" and is perfect for cool fall days like today, with rich flavors of beefsteak tomatoes, summer squash, sweet onions, cabbage, and all topped with the infamous Redmondo cheese from Juniper Grove. It's the only hard cheese at the market, so we use it in what seems like EVERY demo... I didn't get enough of Jenn at the market, so my sister Casey and I stopped by Lincoln for dinner that night.

We had some great cocktails, including the Don Draper (Bourbon, muddled orange, brown sugar, and bitters - I'm going through a whiskey/bourbon phase) and the Rhubarb Pisco Sour (Rhubarb liqueur, pisco brandy, lemon juice, egg whites, and bitters) and some out of this world appetizers, as well as some truly tasty entrees. We got:
  • Baked hen eggs with cream, castelvetrano olives and herbed breadcrumbs - Perfectly baked eggs with yummy green olives and grated cheese, perfect for dipping with their AMAZING french bread. Seriously, Lincoln's bread was so unexpectedly good it stopped both of us mid-sentence. How many times to you hear me say that about a slice of white bread?
  • Bari cucumbers with oil-cured olives, mint and sheep’s milk feta - Ok, I'm going to admit it, Casey ordered this one and I was skeptical. Ten bucks for some cucumbers? Sure, they were fancy cucumbers, but still. And then I took a bite, and quite my snarking, because OH MY GOODNESS these weren't just cucumbers. They were so intensely spicy, sour, sweet, and just plain flavorful, I was actually sad when the plate was cleared. (Oh, and in case you're wondering, Bari cucumbers are those ridged, pale yellowish cukes at the market.) I would really love the recipe for this dish, and hope its on the menu next time we stop by.
  • Malloreddus with rabbit ragu and chicken of the woods mushrooms - This was the ultimate comfort food dish... I kept trying to compare it to something, like my mother's spaghetti, gnocchi from Austria, mashed potatoes and gravy from Mimi's Cafe or IKEA, and in a moment of weakness, to Chef Boyardee. Malloreddus are these small, dumpling-like noodles, cooked in saffron broth and topped with this great, meaty sauce. I'd like to describe how fun this was to eat, but it involves describing kind of intricate tongue maneuvers that maybe don't belong on a food blog...
  • Pork chop with crispy potatoes, rosemary, roasted peach conserva and vin cotto - This was the only "meh" thing we ordered - well, other than the ill-advised lemon and rosemary house soda. The potatoes were a bit underdone, and the pork didn't have a lot of style. It was kind of just a big hunk o' meat, which would be great for some people, but it overwhelmed the awesome peach sauce and greens.
All in all, a tasty meal. Jenn's husband and Lincoln co-owner David Welch sat us in a rather sad little corner table, and we didn't realize until we were leaving that Lincoln has a gorgeous open kitchen with bar seating that would have set the night over the top. I'm just happiest in a restaurant when I can see the action, talk to the chefs and staff, and generally be a part of the hubbub instead of it being hidden away. I made a mental tally of all of my favorite restaurants in Portland, and without exception all of them have quite visible kitchens, while the restaurants I love to hate hide the cooking "mess" from the clientele. Put me on a stool in front of a hot grill and I'm a happy, happy girl. A cute chef doesn't hurt either.

Oh well, next time we'll be sure to sit at the bar and order twice as many Don Drapers...

Though the weather on Saturday still had that summery heaviness to it, I'm writing this wrapped in blankets in my living room, looking out on the rainiest day this season, drinking hot chai with a cat curled up on my feet. It's perfect weather for a slow, flavorful soup full of end-of-summer flavors, but its hard to let go of the days of perfect tomatoes and basil salads. It seems that this time of year the weather is so unpredictable that I'm tempted to keep my pantry and fridge stocked with everything - ingredients for comforting, warm meals as well as light, no-heat meals - just in case the Portland weather gods decide to throw another heat wave at us. I'm headed down next week to Santa Cruz, California to my family farm, Camp Joy, for the annual Harvest Dinner. You can almost guarantee the weather will be deliciously warm, perfect for dinner outside with friends and family under the stars. I promise I'll take too many photos and notes to share with you, but until then keep eating well, and enjoy the rest of these photos of Jenn Louis and the Saturday Portland Farmers' Market.

Ribollita de Lincoln Restaurant
Recipe from Jenn Louis, Lincoln Restaurant
"Ribollita means re-boiled. Make this soup, put it in your fridge overnight, and re-warm to serve."

1 medium onion, small dice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 bulb fennel, small dice
2 bay leaves
2 inch piece rosemary
pinch chili flakes
8 large beefsteak tomatoes, peeled and seeded
3 medium summer squash: zucchini, crookneck or patty pay, medium dice
16 oz shell beans, canned or fresh: cannellini, borlotti, or corona work well
1/2 medium green cabbage, sliced thinly
Fresh herbs: oregano, basil, parsley, roughly chopped

  • Slowly sauté onion, garlic, fennel, bay, rosemary and chile until vegetables are soft, but not colored
  • Add summer squash and continue to cook until squash is tender
  • Add chopped tomatoes and their juices and cook over medium heat, until sauce starts to thicken
  • Add beans and cabbage, cook until heated through and season to taste
  • If needed, thin with vegetable or chicken stock
  • Stir in fresh herbs when serving
  • Finish with pecorino or other hard grating cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and serve with crusty bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted.


  1. Everything sounds so wonderful...but especially the Don Draper. I've only recently come to appreciate bourbon cocktails!

  2. Your blog is fantastic, Alison! We're on the same page food-wise, methings. :)

  3. I love love love the baked hen eggs at Lincoln. Pics are fantastic! So nice meeting you in person the other night! Loved it.