March 24, 2012 § 1 Comment
It’ll be nearly 90 degrees in Tucson today. With the advent of the near-double digits, the end of March calls for tank tops, margaritas and the last of the winter greens, herbs and recently-harvested pecans and dates. I’ve made this salad six times in the last two weeks — for potlucks, for the fam and just for me. My friend James is a big fan of the dates. My mom says the feta takes the cake. (A sidenote: My dad likes this salad best when I tuck a few pieces of south-of-the-border avocado in between the leaves.)
The dressing is my favorite part, so I’ve put a “sketch” of my method, below. I unceremoniously shake all the ingredients together in a ball jar to emulsify and then taste-test using lettuce leaves, often adding a bit of additional acid (citrus/vinegar), salt or honey.
Ingredients for the Salad:
10 cups winter greens
1 cup fresh herbs (dill, basil, parsley, cilantro)
1/2 cup scallion, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
3/4 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Ingredients for the Dressing:
juice of a few citrus fruits (grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime)
a few glugs of white balsamic vinegar (apple cider vinegar is good, too)
hefty pinch of salt
10 cracks of pepper
a dab of dijon mustard
a long drizzle of honey
a few cloves of garlic, minced
stream of olive oil, to taste
Method for the Salad: Layer greens and herbs at the bottom of a large serving bowl. Top with scallion, pecans, dates and feta. Dress just before serving.
Method for the Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake until thoroughly incorporated and emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings/acid/oil as needed.
Diet Notes: Gluten-free
October 31, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’ve had a couple days to rewind my September and October in Maine. My two month stay at Super Chilly Farm — a homestead and genetic bank for apple diversity — served as an indoctrination into the technique, science and delectability of food preservation. (I’m hooked.) I saved tomato seed and studied biennials. I pressed grapes and drank cider; I canned tomatoes and made apple pectin. I also read great big books about apple identification; I’m now somewhat versed in biological lingo like “mucronate” and “emarginate.” I even helped resurrect an outhouse wall; I used my first power tools! (Vrroom! Vrroom!) Puttering around my cozy, Tucson home, I tend to perseverate on my unfettered access to electricity, running water and plumbing. These conveniences seem somewhat extraordinary to me, and I’m a little embarrassed about my feeble comprehension of their mechanics.
I left Super Chilly Farm with a 50-pound (on the nose!) suitcase, bursting at the zippers with canned salsa, jam, apple molasses and a small bag of heirloom apples–Blue Pearmain, Sweet Sixteen, Black Gillyflower, Grimes Golden and Wagner among them. Upon arriving at my southwestern doorstep, with no water to pump or chicken eggs to scrub, I felt a little bit stalled, unsure of how to spend my time. I jump-started this slightly static homecoming by donning my cowboy hat, grabbing a pair of scissors and heading out to the garden. I clipped basil (for drying) and dehydrated tomatoes, lemon rind, banana, grapes and fruit puree (for fruit leather). That evening I made this salad; I shredded cabbage and chopped up the Sweet Sixteen and Black Gillyflower into thin matchsticks, giving my family a little taste of Super Chilly, here at home.
When Priya of “muffins on sunday” invited me to post one of my favorite fall recipes on her blog, this one surfaced to the tippy top of my arsenal of tested apple dishes. If you’re in the mood for a seasonal, sweet and savory salad, please head over to her site for the recipe. Be sure to scroll down and read her witty and laugh-inducing posts about killer pasta salads, soups, cookies and lip-smacking jams. Priya recently posted a muffin recipe on my blog and in the last week and a half, I’ve made five batches. She’s good, you guys… real good.
One final note: If you try out this slaw recipe, I’d love to hear how you liked it and if you have any recommended tweaks. I’ll share your suggestions with my Super Chilly gang back in Maine; I know they’d love to hear from you.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe, gluten-free
December 28, 2010 § 1 Comment
For the past two weeks, I’ve slept through every sunrise, although I’ve been up late enough to nearly greet it. Every so often, I love puttering around my family’s house, late at night, while the rest of the world sleeps. I wear giant, green slippers and shuffle in and out of the empty rooms with a few soft lamps aglow. I read door-stopper books, watch addicting TV mini-series that take place in the 12th century or eat midnight bowls of minestrone soup. But as with all new habits that go against an old grain, the charm of 3-o’clock mornings is starting to fade. Tomorrow I’ll be breaking the cycle and, because I’ll likely be a zombie, I figured I’d entice myself into the early hours with my favorite breakfast.
For the past four weeks I’ve been tweaking an old, favorite clumpy granola recipe. Instead of aiming for just clumps, I wanted to create a granola with great crunch, too, and lots of texture. I also wanted a bowl of granola that had a hint of salt (tipping my hat to Molly‘s grey sea salt chocolate chip cookies); my first trial was salty-overload, but now I’ve settled upon a half-teaspoon (per batch) and the granola tastes great. Be warned though; this recipe is addictive. I want to give a bit of inspirational credit: For the past couple of years I’ve amassed dozens, if not hundreds of granola recipes, but this November I came across a new granola recipe, by Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini. I’ve been fiddling with her proportions of oats, nuts, coconut flakes and other add-in’s to create my own favorite blend, but I’ve stuck with her basic liquid ratio: six tablespoons of sweetener to two tablespoons oil. Each granola trial, stemming from that basic proportion, has been wonderful; this is my favorite combination of ingredients below:
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
6 tablespoons honey, high quality (this imparts the most flavor)
1 tablespoon pumpkin butter, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
few pinches of favorite spices (cardamom, cinnamon, all spice, cloves, nutmeg, etc.)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Mix dry oats, groats, coconut, seeds and nuts in a bowl and set a side.
3. In a small sauce pan, heat honey, pumpkin butter and olive oil until liquidy. Add spice and salt and stir until incorporated. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
4. Pour onto dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly coated.
5. Layer on a sheet pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool for 2 hours, out of the oven or in the warm oven (once turned off) with the door ajar. Break apart and store in an air-tight container.
Diet Notes: gluten-free
November 30, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I hosted my very first Thanksgiving this year! I bought a small, sweet pumpkin from Forever Young Farm, stuffed it with buttermilk-cornbread stuffing and chucked the whole thing in the oven for an hour — perfuming the house with scents of rosemary and winter squash — and called the feast, “Save a Turkey; Stuff a Pumpkin!”
In the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving, I hemmed and hawed: When should I serve the thick, vegetable soup? How many desserts are too many desserts? What can I give my guests at the peckish, midday hour to hold them over until my (undoubtedly delayed) afternoon mega-feast? This last question put a twist in my noodle. I wanted to serve appetizers that would be satisfying, but not put a brick in the stomach. I often resort to simple blender-whiz things like hummus or riffs on that idea. But this year, I decided to steer away from spreadables. Instead, I roasted thick wedges of sweet potatoes and topped them with a tangy-avocado salad spiked with feta and nibbles of dried cranberries. To drink, we clinked pear ale in champagne glasses. To clear the palate, I filled a glass bowl with aromatic, sweet & spicy mixed nuts. It was a delightfully satisfying beginning: No flavors rivaled one another; it wasn’t boring (no carrots, celery and globby ranch dressing). It was a serendipitous start to a crisp day, spent near the warm oven, over bubbling pots and side-by-side with dear family.
1 cup cashews (raw, unsalted)
1 cup pecans (raw, unsalted)
1 cup almonds (raw, unsalted)
2 cups pretzel bites
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon mild, Santa Cruz chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1. Toast nuts in 325 convection oven for 10 minutes until fragrant and slightly browned.
2. Meanwhile, mix together sugar, syrup, spices and salt on the stove. Once nuts are toasted, toss with pretzels in syrup and place on lined baking sheet. Bake an additional 10 minutes until crisp. Cool completely, then break apart and store in an air-tight container. Can be made several days in advance.
Diet Notes: vegan
September 14, 2009 § 1 Comment
This past week my extended family from Alaska, California and Phoenix flocked down to southeastern Arizona for a family-reunion-style bash. We ate, almost constantly, for 7 days straight.
Take yesterday, for example: My dad barbecued baby zucchini, strips of sweet potato, garlic cloves, beets, Yukon Gold potatoes with fresh rosemary, corn on the cob, eggplant slices and fresh summer squash from a local farm. We piled huge bowls of these roasted veggies along with slices of melon (and BBQed meat slabs) on the giant living room table and shouted expletives about Sarah Palin and the art of making perfect corn.
The day before, my Aunt Kathi and I were in the driver’s seat. At 11am we started chopping heirloom tomatoes, tearing arugula, slicing bell pepper, roasting garlic, stirring flour and butter into sauces, sauteing eggplant with garlic and spinach, chopping sun-dried tomatoes, roasting sweet potatoes, dicing calamata olives, crumbling fresh mozzarella, feta and goat cheese and whipping up five big batches of pizza dough in preparation for a 2pm pizza smack-down. We made six small pizzas (all pictured below), but our all time favorite was the Sweet Potato, Pecan and Goat Cheese pizza with caramelized onion and basil. If I weren’t still trying to digest from the past seven days, one of these pizzas would be in the oven as I type.
Ingredients for the Pizza:
1 batch pizza dough
few brush strokes olive oil
1 small sweet potato
1 head garlic, roasted
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pecans, crumbled
1/4 cup basil, torn (we used purple basil)
Methods for Pizza Making:
1. Prepare dough in advance.
2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut sweet potatoes into small slices and remove peels from garlic. Toss potatoes and garlic in olive oil. Roast approximately 10-15 minutes until crispy.
3. While potatoes/garlic bake, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large-brimmed skillet. Cut onion into slices. When oil is hot, add onions. Cook until they reduce and become browned and slightly crispy. Add balsamic vinegar and honey. Cook until liquid evaporates and onions become caramelized. Set aside.
4. Spread dough with hands or rolling pin on corn meal surface, preferably a top a pizza peel. Heat oven to 500 degrees.
5. Cover dough liberally with white sauce and a few dollops of pesto.
6. Add sweet potato slices and garlic, pecan crumbles and goat cheese. Spread onions on top. Scatter basil and any other favorite toppings. Brush olive oil around edges (optional).
7. Bake pizza 10-12 minutes minutes until edges are crisp.
Sweet potato + pecan pizza, half vegetarian, half with chicken sausage.
Ingredients for Garlicky White Sauce (inspired by Pam Anderson’s “Perfect Recipes”)
1 + 1/4 cup organic milk
3/4 cup water or vegetable broth (or pop in 1 bullion cube)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons organic butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated
Methods for White Sauce: In a small pot, heat milk, water/broth and garlic until nearly simmering. Remove from heat. Melt butter in a second medium-sized skillet and whisk in flour when butter starts to sizzle. Add milk/broth mixture to butter and flour and whisk until smooth. Cook until thick and bubbly. Stir in cheese. Set aside.
May 19, 2009 § 2 Comments
“Salad-salads” are my throw- together Spring and Summer meal of choice. The top of my fridge is lined with various dried fruit packets and an assortment of nuts. My cabinets are stocked with a half-dozen vinegars. My veggie drawer is always packed. So, depending on the day, my mood, the heat, I’ll whip up a salad-salad with a variety of different ingredients and call it a meal.
But this Pear and Gorgonzola salad, I decided, needs a bit of broadcast time. I love salads with fruits (especially apple, or even clementines on occasion). And with paper-thin sliced pear, no beans (I promise, it’s not as good), and plenty of good quality gorgonzola cheese, nuts, and a generous amount of dried bing cherries/apple juice-sweetened cranberries, makes this salad a real winner. I’ve paired it with a very light honey dressing, but a spritz of oil and light vinegar would be just as good.
Ingredients (for two):
1 small head romaine lettuce
1 pear, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/4 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or balsamic*
sea salt, pepper
*For those on the SCD-diet, be sure balsamic vinegar is SCD-safe (aged 18 years; no added sugars).
1. Heat a small sauce pan on medium-high and toast the pecans until fragrant, stirring constantly (about 5-7 minutes). Set aside.
2. Thoroughly wash and dry romaine leaves and rip into bite-sized pieces and layer on each plate.
3. Chop scallions and pear. Layer on top of salad with gorgonzola cheese, cranberries and pecans.
4. Whisk simple 3-ingredient dressing and drizzle on top of each salad just before serving.
Diet Notes: SCD-safe (see asterisk), gluten-free
March 7, 2009 § 1 Comment
I haven’t posted all of my granola experiments, but I’ve been buzzing around the kitchen trying to create my favorite type. In the past I’ve made sesame granola, agave granola and peanut butter granola. But I keep coming back to this blend of ingredients.
Please tweak to taste. You might like it with other things: maple syrup instead of honey, coconut flakes, sunflower seeds instead of pepitas, more quick oats, less quick oats, chocolate (heck yeah!), cashew butter instead of peanut butter…
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup quick oats
1/8 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw pepitas (squash seeds)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter, natural
1/3 cup honey*
pinch sea salt
*If following a strict vegan diet, substitute maple syrup.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop nuts and mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. In a saucepan on the stove, mix peanut butter, sea salt and honey. Heat on medium-low until melted. Pour liquid over dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
3. Spread oats on two rimmed baking sheets. Put on two different levels in the oven and cook for 8-9 minutes. Swap sheets and cook for another 8-9 minutes until golden-brown. Leave on counter for at least an hour to crisp-up and cool down. Store in an air-tight container; will keep for up to a month.
Diet Notes: vegan (see asterisk), gluten-free
February 17, 2009 § Leave a Comment
Crisps are super simple, require few ingredients, are easily portable (if you’re headed to a potluck), and they’re just so good. I made this crisp this past weekend for my cousin, his girlfriend and my grandma; we ate it warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream. It’s tweaked from a recipe from my Mom’s friend Sandy, who lives around the corner.
3-4 medium-large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I used 1 Gala, 2 Granny Smith)
2 cups fresh or frozen & thawed cranberries
1/2 cup white whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup quick oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon all spice
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and chop apples. Place in bottom of a 2-quart baking dish. Add cranberries. Toss with 3/4 tubinado sugar. Add 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, stir oats, spices, brown sugar, white whole-wheat flour together. Break in butter and mix until crumbly. Stir in pecans.
3. Spoon dough mixture over apples and cranberries. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the top is golden brown.
4. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5-10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
February 11, 2009 § 4 Comments
My mom makes batches of sweet, whole wheat sourdough bread every couple of weeks. They’re terrific, but because we can’t eat 3 loaves of bread a week (well, I could probably try) my ma doesn’t make a new batch every time she “feeds” the starter with potato flakes and sugar.
Because sourdough starters grow, if you don’t bake bread one week, you’ll invariably have extra starter. If you don’t use it, you’ll have to dump some of it or you’ll have zillions of little bottles of pale-yellow solution clogging up your refrigerator shelves.
Last week wasn’t a bread-baking week, so I got the leftovers. I decided to try and make a batch of sweet, sourdough muffins. My all time favorite muffin is the slightly denser 6-week Bran Muffin, but I think this new muffin gives the bran boys a run for their money.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 + 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
3/4 cup sweet sourdough starter (should be very liquidy)
1/3 cup rice milk (or milk alternative)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease two 6-muffin tins.
2. Mix dry ingredients together with a fork. Add egg, milk, and starter and stir until combined.
3. If you like muffins with “crunch,” add a half cup of your preferred nut. Dollop the batter into the muffin tins about 3/4 of the way to the top. Bake for 17-20 minutes until firm and golden-brown on top. Let sit for ten minutes before removing from pan.