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Spring at the Races

The recent hit of sunny spring weather has us dreaming of fruity and floral cocktails, perfect for sipping on Besaw's patio or in your own back yard. One easy way to get a jump on the season—without having to wait for spring's bounty—is to use dried ingredients to infuse your spirit of choice. This way, you get to experience flavors from the peak season, and they won’t spoil nearly as quickly.

The new favorite on our menu is called Spring at the Races, and was adapted from a recipe by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric in Speakeasy, Classic Cocktails Reimagined, From New York’s Employee’s Only Bar. We used a simple lavender-infused gin and sweet pink grapefruit juice for ours. The resulting cocktail has a lovely floral quality with a hue to match. If you like an experiment, try infusing your gin with herbes de provence, tea leaves or dried mint; whatever suits your fancy. More recipes for fun infused-spirits can be found here.

Lavender-Infused Gin

2 teaspoons organic dried lavender

1 (1-liter) bottle gin

Place the lavender in a small saucepan over low heat. Add 2 cups of the gin and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the remaining gin. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a bottle and discard the lavender. Store at room temperature away from sunlight. Will keep indefinitely.

Spring at the Races

2.5 oz lavender-infused gin

5 oz ruby red grapefruit juice

Serve with a sprig of fresh lavender for garnish.

Enjoy the spring sun!

xoxo, Besaw’s




This Year in Specials

We love looking at great pictures of food; what restaurant team doesn't? Here are some of the fabulous Besaw's meals you may have missed, courtesy of Chef Michael Uhnak. Photographed by Event Coordinator and Office Manager, Kate Stone.





We're Really Excited About: Radishes!

It's a sunny day in Portland, and we've suddenly noticed the days are a little longer. And while we're pining after the fruits of summer, we're also thankful for Oregon's long growing season, and the special yields of the winter garden.

If you're missing that crunch in your salad, that hint of bright color, that unique seasonal ingredient, try experimenting with one of our favorite ingredients, the radish! Radishes are quick growing, good for the soil, and easy enough for even kids to grow. For us, they satisfy that need for beautiful, colorful, variegated produce in the darkest time of the year.

Yesterday Chef Michael spent the day with one of our farmers, Grey Horton of Morgan's Landing Farm on Sauvie Island, and brought us back the lovely array you see in the photo above. Featured on our menu for January are black, red, white and watermelon radishes, highlighting a juicy Painted Hills flank steak with roasted parsnips and carrots.

Like Morgan's Landing Farm on facebook!



Chef Michael's Sautéed Prawns

A favorite at Besaw's, this easy appetizer is sure to win over hungry bellies this Holiday Season. This is a great dish for entertaining because of its simple preparation. Plus, it's a kid-friendly finger food.

I start out with 21/25 Domestic Prawns. Let me translate that: shrimp and prawns are sold by the count. The count refers to the number of individual shrimp in 1 pound. So for instance, when you buy 1 pound of 21/25, expect to get 21-25 fairly large prawns. Domestic means that they are coming from right here in the USA. These can be purchased already cleaned, or you can clean them yourself.

Cleaning prawns is easy: start by running your finger down the stomach of the prawn, removing its legs. Then remove all of the shell except the tail segment--we'll want to leave the tail on for our grab-handle. Next, run a knife down the back of the prawn, opening it up to remove the vein. Now we are ready to go.

This is what we'll need:

4 prawns (about 1/4 pound)

1/2 t chopped garlic

1 C white wine

1 T butter

1/4 t smoked paprika

salt & pepper

1 slice brioche, toasted

microgreens or chopped parsley, for garnish

In my version, I use 4 prawns per order. Start with a hot sauté pan and a drizzle of olive oil. Place the prawns into the pan, letting them sizzle for about a minute. Add your garlic, and let it simmer for another minute. This gives the garlic time to release those oils we love so much. Deglaze the pan of prawns with the white wine. Simmer for about 2 minutes or until the prawns are a golden orange and not blue or translucent. Reduce the liquid in the pan by half and add the butter. Butter will bring the sauce together and round out the flavors. Last, but not least, add a touch of smoked paprika and salt/pepper.

Present your prawns over a piece of toasted brioche, pouring the sauce around the base of the toast. Garnish with a little microgreens or chopped parsley.

If you make it to the other side of the kitchen with a full plate of these you're a lucky cook. They are light, delicious, and a quick and simple appetizer.




Jack's Winter Warmer

Jack, one of the creative minds in the Besaw's kitchen, was regaling us the other day with tales of the old days in Western Montana, where he spent his youth. After long wintry days cooking at the logging camp, cleaning fish and trapping beaver, he'd settle down in his cozy cabin for a little Winter Warmer. We call it a Besaw's Hot Buttery Rum, and it's the perfect remedy for the chilly days of this Portland December.

The Mix:

1 Cup butter

1 1/8 Cups brown sugar

1 1/2-2 Cups powdered sugar

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

3 tbsp. ground cardamom

1/2 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Melt butter over low heat, slowly stir in brown and powdered sugar. Remove from heat and pour over ice cream. Stir until combined. Add spices. May be stored in the freezer for 6 months or more.

The Drink:

2 tbsp. Hot Buttery Rum Mix

1.5 oz. dark rum--we use Myers--or your favorite Irish Whiskey

8 oz. hot water

dash nutmeg and cardamom

cinnamon stick for garnish

While preparing your other ingredients, warm your glass by filling with hot water. When you're ready, re-fill with 8 oz. hot water, 2 tbsp. Hot Buttery Rum Mix and stir. Pour in 1.5 oz. Myers Dark Rum or Irish whiskey, if preferred. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cardamom, garnish with cinnamon stick.

Of course, you could always come into Besaw's for one or two Hot Buttery Rums. We love to make them for you.



Besaw's Gets Decked Out for the Holidays

Last night at Besaw's, tiny elves on really long ladders worked through the night to put up our lovely Holiday decorations.

The Besaw's staff was surprised and delighted this morning when they arrived, pleased that the elves tastefully waited 'til after Thanksgiving weekend to do their magic.

We can't help but wonder if those elves took a nip or two as they hung boughs of holly high over the bar.

As you celebrate this season, we hope you'll think of us, take a break from shopping, and enjoy a relaxing meal at Besaw's. There are plenty of presents to be had here, too! Consider a gift certificate, a Besaw's hoodie, or brunch with loved ones.

Happy Holidays, everyone!



Besaw's Composts!

Many of our Portland area visitors will have noticed the recent, ground-breaking change in our city's waste management policy: Portland Composts! We now have the opportunity to separate our food waste from other garbage, where it will be turned into compost, other soil amendments, clean energy and other valued products. But did you know that restaurants like Besaw's play a huge role in composting, too? In fact, Besaw's was one of the pioneers in the Restaurant Food Waste Collection program in Portland. Our wait-staff, managers and cooks are very careful to ensure that all of our food waste is recycled properly. We've been practicing since 2006!

Did you know that about one-eighth of all solid waste generated in the United States is food scraps?

Watch this cute video to help reduce waste in your own home!




Ferments, Pickles and Savoring the Season, by Kate

As an avid listener of OPB on the morning commute, I was super excited to learn about last month's annual Portland Fermentation Festival, held Thursday, October 20th at Ecotrust's Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center in the Pearl. In my salivating anticipation of all things pickled and brined, I left the workhouse early and invited a friend on our first food-tasting date.

Luckily we arrived early. By the time we'd made the rounds, there was a line of hungry pickle lovers wrapped down the stairs and out into the parking lot. Everybody was packed into the crowded room, pushed up against folding tables to sample batches of brines and ferments from over 3 professional and amateur makers.

We tasted over 10 varieties of sauerkraut alone--starting with traditional green, red and napa cabbages, adding beet, burdock, daikon radish, spring onion, chili, sea vegetables, even blueberry with lavender to make some spectacular kim chee.

We also partook of drinkable ferments: beet kvass, kombucha, ginger-lime soda, kefir and Rejuvelac, to name a few. By the time we left, our bellies were full of briny, sour pickled goodness. What else did I learn? Pickling is super fun, and easy.

Pickling is one of those things that really makes me feel connected to food. I love being able to bring traditional elements to my cooking that wake up the palette, and make my table totally unique and exciting. It's the perfect method for preserving the last of the farmers' market season, and a great way to add that extra bite to salads, meats and mixed drinks.

This fall season, our Chef has featured pickled veggies in many of our favorite menu items. Look for sweet pickled onions in our simple green salad, pickled zucchinis, peppers and onions on our House-Smoked Wild Salmon or Lox Platter, and a briny array accompanying our Chicken Liver appetizer.

I tried Chef's amazing assortment of pickled vegetables in my Bloody Mary this morning--it's really exciting to see how different veggies take to the pickling process. In mine, I had crunchy pickled cauliflower and carrot, tender stalks of chard, fancy fiddlehead ferns, spicy pickled garlic and chewy chantrelle mushrooms!

We thought we'd share a recipe for Pickled Cauliflower, so you can make fancy Bloody Mary garnish at home! Any combination of vegetables will do, just make sure you have enough to tightly pack your jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. As in cooking, your veggies will pickle more evenly if you cut them in same-size pieces.


Pickled Cauliflower

Yield: about 5 pints

3 quarts cauliflowerets (about 2 large heads)

1 1/2 Cups peeled pearl onions

1/4 Cup pickling salt

2 Cups sugar

2 tablespoons mustard seed

1 tablespoon celery seed

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 quart vinegar

1 hot red pepper (optional)

Combine cauliflowerets, onions and salt. Cover with ice; let stand 2 to 3 hours. Drain; rinse and drain thoroughly. Combine sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric and vinegar in a large saucepot. Cut two small slits in hot red pepper. Add pepper to vinegar, if desired. Bring to a boil. Add cauliflowerets and onions; return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Discard hot red pepper. Pack hot vegetables and liquid into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Note: When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber gloves to prevent hands (and eyes) from being burned.

Variations and Other Things of Interest:

When Chef makes pickled veggies here at Besaw's, he likes to replace half the vinegar with white wine--it gives the pickles a sweeter, subtler flavor that we all love! Almost all of the alcohol burns off during the 5 minutes of boiling, so don't worry about serving to children or teetotalers.

When packing and filling your jars, consider adding fresh herbs to your pickle! Chef likes to add fresh sage, tarragon or sprigs of rosemary. You can also pack your hot peppers in with the veggies if you like your pickles extra spicy, or add a few cloves of garlic to the bottom of the jars for zip.

The sugar in this recipe is totally optional. Most important in any pickle recipe is the salt to vinegar ratio, and the sugar is added to taste. Make sure to use pickling salt, as it has no additives, is finer and will yield more consistent results. Do not use iodized table salt, as it can darken or cloud your pickles.

If you don't have a boiling water canner (usually an extra-large stock pot with a removable tray that holds the mason jars), it's ok to store your packed and cooled pickle jars in the refrigerator. They should be really tasty immediately, but sometimes benefit from a few days' rest.

Like eating (but not cooking)? Come join us any time, we're always trying new things, and love to share!