Friday, July 31, 2009

Tangy saffron rice and shrimp

Do you remember the Sweet Spanish Rice we made a couple weeks ago? Well, here’s an easy variation that you can do on it, creating a completely different taste sensation. I like this type of rice for shrimp. If you buy the pre-cooked shrimp, they can just be thrown in on top of the rice in the last few minutes of cooking time, just to heat through. Even if they’re raw, shrimp don’t take all that long to cook :-)

Basically, the recipe for this rice is the same as the other, but we’ll substitute the grated peel and the juice of a lemon for the cinnamon and sage. Plus, I added a chopped red pepper, which isn’t in the list below. So here’s the lowdown:

Tangy Saffron Rice and Shrimp

Olive oil
Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 c cilantro
Lemon, grated peel and juice
Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
1 t salt
3 c chicken stock or water
1 c Bomba rice (or Arborio)

In a large heavy skillet with a cover, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil on medium heat; do not brown them. Add the cilantro through the stock and bring to a boil while stirring. Stir in the rice, return to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Cook uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes. If you are going to serve with pre-cooked shrimp, place them over top the rice for the last 2-3 minutes.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Artichoke pesto

I love this with a good hearty pasta like penne! We had it the other night on crackers, along with a piece of salmon…just perfect! It also makes a wonderful vegetarian entree if you serve it with some crusty rolls and sliced tomatoes instead. And either way, it’ll be done in less than thirty minutes. Start the water boiling and the fish sizzling as you prepare the pesto :-)

Artichoke Pesto

1/2 c walnuts
Clove of garlic
2 14 oz cans of artichoke hearts
1 c cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper

1/2 - 3/4 c olive oil

3/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese

Using a food processor, chop the walnuts and garlic clove fine. Add the artichoke and cilantro and process, scraping the sides occasionally, until chopped fine. Grate the peel of the lemon into the mix and squeeze in the juice (try to avoid the seeds!). Add salt and pepper to taste. With the processor running, pour in the olive oil slowly. The mixture will become soft and creamy. Scrape the pesto out into a large bowl, stir in the grated parmesan cheese, and add the hot pasta when it’s ready.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lemon and lavender shortbread

I came across the most amazing recipe for shortbread, using lemon zest and garden fresh lavender. Since I’ve got a garden full of the stuff (the lavender, that is!), I decided that I had to try it! The original recipe can be found at QuintanaRoo’s flickr album.

Although I feel a little ungrateful messing with her recipe at all, I decided that I really wanted to just use my own favorite shortbread recipe with the addition of the lemon zest, and follow her icing recipe to the letter. If you’d prefer to go visit QuintanaRoo’s recipe, which I believe may be a vegan one, please just click on the link and enjoy!

So, here’s my version for the shortbread itself:

Lemon Shortbread

1 c butter
1/2 c confectioner’s sugar
Lemon zest grated from 2 lemons
2 c flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
Cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the lemon zest and the dry ingredients. Pat it into a square or round cake pan. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes. Slice the cookies while still warm. Allow to cool completely.

Lemon and Lavender icing

1 c confectioner’s sugar
3 t dried culinary lavender
2 t lemon zest (preferably Meyer lemon)
1-2 T lemon juice

This is directly from QuintanaRoo’s directions:
1. whisk all ingredients together, starting with one tablespoon of lemon juice and adding more as needed to create a smooth, pourable icing
2. immediately spread evenly on the cooled shortbread
3. chill in the refrigerator and cut when icing has set firmly, about one hour

Actually, I’ve already cut the cookies before icing them. So as soon as they are refrigerator set, you can carefully pry up a row at a time and snap them apart.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mustard rub and sauce for grilled flank steak

This spice rub and sauce is great for other cuts of steak too, but I particularly like it for flank steak, where you have a lot of surface to soak up sauce, due to the thin slicing technique. (See my post on Flank steak techniques to refresh your skills!)

This recipe is enough for one steak, 1 to 1-1/2 pounds. You can do the rub in the morning and let the steak sit in the fridge all day if you want.

Mustard Rub and Sauce

1/4 c brown mustard
1 T ground cumin
1 T chili powder
Salt and pepper

1 T catsup
2 T honey
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T canola oil
Clove of garlic, minced
2 T fresh oregano, chopped

Mix the mustard, cumin, and chili powder together and rub the steak. Place in a shallow dish and refrigerate for at least an hour. Mix the catsup through oregano in a small saucepan. You can spoon some of the sauce on the steak as it’s grilling, and save the rest to serve with the sliced steak. Heat the sauce gently if you’d like.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pineapple salsa for your grilling pleasure!

Pineapple salsa makes a great appetizer when served with tortilla chips, and also tastes great served with your grilled meats and vegetables. An all-purpose little mixture!

You can make this salsa way ahead of time and simple keep it chilled until ready to serve. In fact, it should be allowed to sit for at least 1/2 hour to let the flavors merge.

Pineapple Salsa

2 c fresh pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
Chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 T olive oil

Chop all ingredients finely. Toss together the pineapple through the salt. Grate the lime peel and zest into tht bowl, and add the juice of the lime. Toss again and chill for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, July 24, 2009

We made gelato!

Gelato is made with milk instead of cream, and it is a cup (or cone) full of soft deliciousness, eaten with a very small spoon.

And oh, it is so good! Gelato was one of our favorite treats in Italy, and we took our search for the best gelato very seriously (by the way, it’s to be found near the Colosseum in Rome, or near the Duomo in Orvieto!)

It took us several tries to get the formula right once we got home. We have only a very small hand-crank ice cream maker, and I wasn’t sure that we’d be able to achieve that special creamy consistency that gelato has. Our first tries were failures: one recipe was too eggy, one was too icy. But finally we hit on the charm!

The main problem is that the ingredients need to be super-cold to form properly, but it needs to be stored somewhere between the temperature of your fridge and your freezer. The best alternative we came up with is to make it, freeze it briefly, and eat it all in one sitting :-) Thank heavens our machine is small!

The recipe that we ended up liking the best came from It was submitted by OSTAFF1, and came from his or her Italian mother-in-law.

Basic Gelato

2 cups milk (we used 1%)
1 cup heavy cream (we used light cream)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar

1. In a medium saucepan, mix milk and cream. Warm until foam forms around the edges. Remove from heat.

2. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until frothy. Gradually pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture gels slightly and coats the back of the spoon. If small egg lumps begin to show, remove from heat immediately.

3. Pour the mixture through a sieve or fine strainer into a bowl. Cover, and chill for several hours or overnight.

4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a sealed container, and freeze until firm. If the gelato is too firm, place it in the refrigerator until it reaches the desired consistency.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Delightful spring and summer rice salad

This salad is light, tangy, and refreshingly delightful! You can serve it up fresh and warm, or you can make it ahead and refrig it for the hottest days. Potentially, it could be the basis for a whole-meal salad, if you added more rice and a source of protein, like beans or fish. Here’s the recipe for it as a side salad:

Wild Rice Salad with Pecans and Oranges

2-1/4 c water
1 c wild rice (I like Trader Joe’s)
1/4 c olive oil

1 c pecan halves (toasted if you have time)
2 oranges
6-8 scallions, white part only, chopped
1/2 c dried golden raisins
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2-3 T fresh mint leaves, chopped

Bring the water to a boil and add the rice; reduce heat and cover, simmering for about 25 to 30 minutes. While it cooks, toast the pecans and set aside (optional, but nice). Grate the zest of one of the oranges into a large salad bowl. Cut the orange in two and add the juice. Add the chopped scallions through the mint leaves. Add the juice of the lemon. Peel and section the other orange, cut each piece into thirds and set aside.

Pour off any water that didn’t absorb into the wild rice. Add the olive oil and salt and mix together. Now you can either add the rice to the salad bowl immediately or let it cool off (in the fridge) until ready to serve. Mix the rice with the fruit mixture, add the pecans and orange pieces, and serve.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Venetian Spritz

When we visited Murano, Italy, we were told by one of the men at the factory that we couldn’t leave Venice without sampling the famous Venetian Spritz. Apparently, the drink originated with the Austrians, but the Venetians have morphed it into a drink that is truly their own.

There are 3 common variations that he told us about, each with a different aperitif. We chose to sample the “man’s drink”, the Spritz with Campari. It’s a very pretty drink, but a bit confusing at first, being garnished by both a slice of orange (mostly skin) and a large green olive! Hmmmm…

The first few sips were both bitter and sour, and I wasn’t sure that I liked it at all. But as our tongues adjusted, all of us started liking it more and more. We began to realize that every section of our tongue was getting involved. The sweet of the orange and the salt of the olive, together with the bitter and sour of the beverage made us totally sit up and take notice. In short, we ended up loving them!

As close as we can figure, this is how it was made:

Spritz with Campari

2 parts dry white wine
1 part Campari aperitif (or substitute other aperitif)
Splash of mineral water (either fizzy or naturale)
Slice of orange
Large green olive on a toothpick

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Citrus pesto for your fish dish

Oh, how delicious this pesto is! You can make it in a snap, starting with a good quality packaged basil pesto, or you can make it totally from scratch if you’ve got the time, using our Basic Basil Pesto recipe. It’s fun to do that in the spring and early summer when fresh basil is plentiful :-)

As for how to use it, think fish! We had it with swordfish last night, but I think it would be equally at home with tuna or any other tasty white fish. Actually, you’re going to mix the citrus pesto with spaghetti or fettucini and then serve the fish on top of it. Add a simple green salad and you’re done.

If you start with prepared basil pesto, this is a thirty minute meal. If you decide to make the pesto from scratch…well, I don’t know how long it will take you, but I’m a slob so it takes me awhile :-)

Citrus Pesto

7 - 8 oz prepared basil pesto
3/4 - 1 c freshly grated parmesan cheese (about 2 cubes, each 1 inch)

While the fish cooks and the pasta boils, prepare the citrus pesto. Grate all of the peel and zest of the lemon and the orange into a large bowl. Cut them each in half and squeeze the juice out into the bowl. Grate the parmesan cheese into the bowl as well. Add the basil pesto and stir them all together.

When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it well and toss it with the pesto in the bowl. Serve it up and add a piece of fish on top.

Image: Stock.xchng

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sweet Spanish rice

This is a great rice dish to have with sausage, especially a mildly sweet or savory sausage instead of spicy hot ones. The very best rice you can use for this dish is the Spanish variety called Bomba. Italian rice called Arborio can be substituted if you can’t find Bomba.

If you’d prefer to have this as part of a vegetarian meal instead of with meat, serve it with a bean dish or tofu instead. It’s tasty enough to be the centerpiece of the meal :-)

Sweet Spanish Rice

Olive oil
Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 c cilantro
1 t cinnamon
1 t sage
Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
1 t salt
3 c chicken stock or water
1 c Bomba rice (or Arborio)

In a large heavy skillet with a cover, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil on medium heat; do not brown them. Add the cilantro through the stock and bring to a boil while stirring. Stir in the rice, return to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Cook uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes. If you are going to serve with sausage, place the pre-cooked sausage slices over top the rice for the last 5 - 10 minutes.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, July 17, 2009

Edamame lo mein

I found the original recipe for edamame lo mein in the 2006 April/May issue of Eating Well magazine. I've changed it slightly to fit us better. Instead of treating it as a side dish, this recipe makes enough for the main event, vegetarian if you replace the oyster sauce with a vegetarian substitute. Red pepper sauce works well. This version of lo mein is good hot or cold.

Edamame Lo Mein

12 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
2-3 cups frozen edamame
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 c oyster sauce
1/3 cup rice-wine vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
1 T sugar
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/4 t crushed red pepper
Canola oil
2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow), cut into matchsticks

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of water, adding edamame after about 4 minutes. Return to boil and cook until just tender, about 9 to 10 minutes.

Whisk scallions, oyster sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and crushed red pepper in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved.

Cook the carrots and bell peppers in canola oil in a wok for a couple of minutes until slightly softened. Add the drained pasta and edamame and cook for a few more minutes. Add the sauce and stir together.

Image: Stock.xchng

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chipotle marinade and barbecue sauce for chicken

You can use the same killer combo of chipotle marinade and sauce that I shared with you for flank steak on your chicken! I recommend letting the chicken soak in the marinade overnight in a zip loc bag. Dump the remainder of the marinade...don't ever use it for anything else, even further basting on the grill.

Mix up a batch of chipotle barbecue sauce, and in the last few minutes of grilling, apply it liberally to your chicken pieces.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Spicy tomato sauce…a fabulous OAMC treat

Although I’d like to call this spaghetti sauce, it really needs a more robust pasta to hold up under the weight of it :-) I’ve served it with both fettucini and with penne , and both are well-suited to this amazing sauce. You can also use it with chicken , meatloaf, or baked potatoes…either out of the oven or fresh off the grill! Very versatile, and just delicious.

Each batch of this recipe will smother 1 to 1-1/2 lbs of pasta, so think about doubling or tripling it for your OAMC session. Don’t forget to check out these other OAMC recipes too!

Spicy Tomato Sauce

3 T olive oil
Onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Carrot, chopped
Celery, chopped
28 oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Bay leaf
6-10 anchovies, chopped

1 c black olives (kalamata preferred), chopped
2 T capers, drained
1 T red pepper flakes

In a large sauce pan or pot, heat the oil and saute the onion through celery until soft. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add seasonings and anchovies, and allow to simmer covered for about an hour.

Remove the bay leaf and add the rest of the ingredients. Heat through for 5 to 10 more minutes and either serve or freeze for later. Or both!

Image: Stock.xchng

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Congratulations, Bobbi!

Bobbi is the winner of a copy of Notes on Cooking! Yay!!

Wilted spinach and red onions

It’s easy to tuck the preparations for this tasty spinach into the time between other things. We had it last night…Mike grilled some fish and heated the bread (on the grill too!) while I made the spinach. Dinner in under thirty minutes, easy-peasy!

Wilted Spinach and Red Onions
Olive oil
Red onion, chopped
Clove of garlic, minced
2 T water
1 T soy sauce
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)

10 oz bag of baby spinach

Cook the onion and garlic in the oil in a large skillet. When they are tender, add the water through the pepper, and bring to a quick boil. Lower the heat and put the spinach in the skillet, turning it over to get it all wilted and the dressing spread through. Grate the lemon peel and sprinkle it all over the spinach. Don’t overcook it…you just want a bit of wilt.

Image: Stock.xchng

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lavender biscotti

I've got lots of lavender blooming right now in my garden, so I had to try a new recipe to take advantage of it. I'm still fiddling with the proportions, because this is a very sticky dough, but the taste was amazing, so I'll share it with you now as is.

Lavender Biscotti

2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/3 c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 T honey
1/4 t vanilla extract
1 T fresh grated orange zest
2 T fresh lavender blossoms (or 1 T dried)

In a small bowl, mix the flour through the salt. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the honey through the lavender blossoms and mix well. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir till just combined.

Flour your hands and a piece of parchment paper and shape a flat log about 1 inch high with the dough (the log will round as it bakes). Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes or so on a wire rack. Use a serrated knife to cut into slices on a slight diagonal. Lay the pieces on their sides and bake at 275 for about 15 minutes.

Cranberry ham grill (OAMC)

Even though ham is already cooked, it tastes so good when done on the grill that it’s worth introducing this recipe to your family. All the advanced preparation can be done way ahead of time, making this a great OAMC recipe. You can prepare multiple thick ham slices with the sauce and stick them in ziploc bags to freeze for later. You could also think about cutting up a thick slice into cubes to use from skewers instead!

Since you can easily get quite a few meals out of a larger ham, OAMC is an economical way to cook: buy a ham that is lower priced per pound by buying it larger and dividing it up for multiple meals!

Cranberry Ham Grill

Large, thick slices of ham, about 1 lb each
For each slice:

1 c cranberry juice
1/4 c marmalade
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t dry mustard
1/4 t ground cloves or allspice

2 T sugar
1 T cornstarch
8 oz cranberry sauce
Orange slices (optional)

Mix cranberry juice through cloves together and combine with ham slice in a shallow dish (if you’ll be using it within 24 hours or so) or in a ziploc bag to freeze.

To cook, thaw first if frozen. Pour off marinade into a small saucepan. Mix in sugar and cornstarch, stirring and cooking over medium heat until thickened. Stir in cranberry sauce and heat gently just before serving.

Grill the ham steak over low heat, 5 - 7 minutes per side. Serve with the sauce.

Image: MorgueFile

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tangy Mediterranean salad

Instead of plain orzo or couscous, I used the Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s. It contains a blend of Israeli couscous, orzo pasta, baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa. It makes a beautiful dish as well as adding more nutrients, but you can easily make this dish with just one of the above. There’s plenty of other tasty stuff in the mix of this recipe!

If you want to make this into a vegetarian main dish salad and add other veggies, etc, think about doubling my recipe. As is, it makes a nice side dish for four people. You can also make it well ahead of time if necessary, and serve it either cold or at room temp. I prefer room temp, by the way! Serve it on greens, or by itself. We had it last night with a small tuna steak and some snow peas.

Mediterranean Salad

Olive oil
Clove of garlic, minced
1 c Harvest Grains Blend (or plain couscous)
2 c water or stock
Lemon, zest grated and juiced
Salt and pepper
1/2 c basil leaves, chopped
1/4 c mint leaves, chopped
1/4 c dried cranberries
1/4 c slivered almonds

Heat the oil and cook the garlic in a saucepan. Add the grains or couscous and heat in the oil, stirring for a few minutes until the grains start to turn golden. Add the water and the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 - 12 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Add more liquid if needed, or drain some off if necessary: it depends upon the type of grains you are using or the brand of pasta!

Place the grains into a serving bowl, and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature before adding the rest. Add the basil leaves through almonds, and toss.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chicken skewers with pineapple-macadamia nut sauce!

One of the nicest things about these skewers is that they can be as plain or as dressed up as you’d like. If you’ve got kids who don’t like “sophisticated” taste combinations, there’s a sauce mixture that is served with these that they can skip (leaving more for you!).

If you set these skewers up in the morning (or even the night before) so that they can absorb the spice rub, it will only take about 25 to 30 minutes to cook them up on the grill. In fact, you can prepare a whole bunch of chicken ahead of time during your once a week food preparation or once a month cooking time.

We had these skewers the other night, and all I added to the meal was some asparagus (also done on the grill) and some bread to sop up the juices from the sauce.

Chicken Skewers with Pineapple-Macadamia Nut Sauce

8 chicken thighs, each cut into 4 chunks
1/2 a fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

Crushed coriander seeds
Salt and pepper

1/2 c macadamia nuts, chopped rough
1-2 shallots, chopped fine
1-2 T ginger, fresh grated
3 T lime juice
2 T sesame oil

Mix the coriander, a coarse kosher salt and pepper together and roll the chicken chunks in it. Alternate the chicken and pineapple on skewers. These can sit in the fridge all day covered with plastic wrap if needed. Cook them on a medium heat grill for about 25 to 30 minutes, turning frequently.

Mix the macadamia nuts through sesame oil together in a small bowl and serve on the side.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Another chipotle marinade for your flank steak

Make this marinade early in the day and let the steak sit in it all day in the fridge. You can read about flank steak techniques here :-)

Chipotle Marninade

1/2 cup bottled chipotle salsa
2 T lime juice
Red onion, sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients together and marinate your steak and veggies in it all day. Throw out the marinade that is left and serve your steaks with fresh chipotle salsa. If you can’t find chipotle salsa, just mix some chipotle grilling sauce into regular tomato salsa.

Image: Stock.xchng

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Giveaway: Notes on Cooking

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you about a new book that I really enjoyed, called Notes on Cooking. Well, now I've got a wonderful opportunity for would you like to win a free copy?


Simply leave me a comment below, sharing your favorite cooking tip. It doesn't have to be long or complicated, and it doesn't have to be a recipe: just a tip. In a week, I'll randomly select a winner. There's another chance to win over at Cooking're welcome to sign up in both places, but you can only win one copy of the book in the unlikely occurrence that you get chosen in both places ;-)

Delicious beet greens with Canadian bacon

Can’t get your kids to eat cooked greens? They will eat these: spicy and sweet and salty, all at the same time! You can substitute baby spinach or other greens for the beet greens, but we really like the way the red veins look…it makes beet greens special. If you use collard greens, you’ll have to do add a bit of cooking time. These are big-time fast the way the recipe below is laid out, and you can easily fix them up while the main dish is cooking. These can be a nutritious part of a thirty minute meal!

Beet Greens with Canadian Bacon

Olive oil
Onion, chopped
2 slices of Canadian bacon, chopped
1 T cider vinegar
1 T maple syrup
Red pepper flakes
1/2 - 3/4 c chicken stock
7 - 10 oz bag of beet greens

In a large skillet, saute the onion and bacon in a bit of olive oil. Add the vinegar through the chicken stock and let it boil for a few minutes. Lower the heat, add the beet greens and toss them to wilt slightly and coat with dressing. Don’t overcook them.

When serving these, we find it best to use a separate plate or a small bowl. The dressing is delicious, but messy. It will run all over your plate and into your other foods, and there’s really no way to drain it…nor should you drain it!

Image: Stock.xchng

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mediterranean potato salad

Don’t dismiss this recipe if you’re not a fan of potato salad! This is a whole meal salad with potatoes, not a “potato salad”. It is incredibly delicious, and you can serve it warm or cold, so it will carry you over into the summer if you’d like. You can also serve it as a side dish, but I’d make the rest of the meal light.

Mediterranean Potato Salad

3-4 c mixed greens
19 oz garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 c black olives, sliced
Vidalia or sweet red onion, sliced thin
2 T capers
2 oz feta, crumbled

1/4 c olive oil
3 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled but whole

3 T lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Place the onion slices in cold water to soak for about 10 minutes to make them even milder. While they’re soaking, place the greens on a serving platter, and layer on the rest of the ingredients through the feta in the order listed. Obviously, you might need to stop when you get to the onions…don’t worry, there’s something else to prepare.

In a covered microwavable dish, place the olive oil, the potato cubes, and the garlic. Microwave for about 7 - 8 minutes. Set aside.

Go back to assembling the salad, adding the rest of the ingredients through the feta. When you’re ready to serve, heat the potatoes for 1 minute more and spoon them over the rest. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

If you’d prefer to serve the salad cold, refrigerate the first part of the prepared salad while the potatoes cool. I wouldn’t refrigerate them to cool since they’re in olive oil. It’ll get gross. Just settle for room temperature. This is delicious either way, but I guess I prefer it warm on all but the hottest days.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, filled with family, friends, and grilled food!

What’s in season now? Summer

What’s a person to do when faced with the dizzying array of “fresh” fruits and vegetables in the modern grocery store? Strawberries are now available in the middle of winter, but they also usually taste like cardboard at that time of the year! I’ve had to think through my buying habits very carefully in the last few years, since I spend most of my time and money in the produce aisle :-)

I love to buy organic if possible, especially if it’s an item with thin skin, or an item that I know from previous experience is far superior in taste to the non-organic varieties (like oranges). But organic is not the be-all and end-all of making choices. Some organic growers are huge agribusinesses that are only one step better than non-organic growers. They may not be spraying, but they are just as likely to be depleting the soil and shipping produce long distances.

Sometimes, buying local produce is the better choice, even if the farm is not certified organic. Fresh produce, in season, locally grown…especially if it’s grown on smaller independent farms…may end up being your best choice. Get to know your local farmers and farmstands. Find out what local farms supply your local grocery store.

That means we also have to know what actually is in season! We’ve lost our sense of the seasons over the last decade. Even though it’s probably neither possible nor convenient to eat local, organic, in-season food 100% of the time, most of us could do a lot better job if we simply went back to basics and paid attention!

So here’s my list of what’s available in my neck of the woods. Please feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments, particularly if there are food items available in your local region that I didn’t mention.

Here’s a link to a page with links to many summer recipes using these ingredients. I’ll be adding to it and creating new lists for each season. You can always find this page in the sidebar: What’s in season now?


Clams, monkfish, pike, sea bass, trout
Beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, corn, fennel, mushrooms, peas, peppers, new potatoes, summer squash, tomatoes, zucchini
Blueberries, cherries, gooseberries, loganberries, melons, nectarines, peaches, plums, raspberries, rhubarb
Basil, rosemary, sage, thyme

Image: Stock.xchng

Friday, July 3, 2009

Perch with tomatoes, basil, and feta

Tomatoes, basil, and feta...the triumvirate of deliciousness! You can use garden fresh tomatoes for this dish, or diced canned tomatoes if fresh aren't available, and other whitefish can be substituted for perch. Fresh basil is essential, though.

We had this with roasted carrots and some bread, and the flavor combination was wonderful!

Perch with Tomatoes, Basil, and Feta

1/2 c onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Small can of diced tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes
2 T fresh basil leaves, minced
1 lb of whitefish, preferably perch
4 oz feta, crumbled

In a heavy skillet, saute the onions and garlic in oil until soft but not brown. Add the tomatoes and basil and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the fish fillets in the middle of the pan. Flip them over and finish cooking. Serve with feta crumbled on top.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pineapple sorbet

Ok, here's another exception to my "avoid canned fruits and vegetables" rule. I learned to make Ridiculously Easy Pineapple Sorbet from Susan V at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. I know it's a really old recipe, if you can even call it a recipe, but I had seriously never known about it before. Susan has a great way of explaining the process, plus she comes up with lots of fun variations you can try too, so I recommend giving her a visit.

But here's what you really need to know.

Pineapple Sorbet

1 can of pineapple in juice
1 shallow Tupperware freezer container
1 food processor

Pour the pineapple and its juice into the freezer container. Freeze for at least 3 hours. Let it sit out for a few minutes to soften and chop it into large pieces with a big knife. Process until smooth, scraping the chunks down from time to time. It will take awhile to reach the right consistency. Serve immediately.

Refreeze and reprocess any leftovers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Watermelon raspberry drink

You can serve it straight up, add sweet wine (like zinfandel), or something a bit harder. I liked it with tequila, but I've hear that rum, vodka, or gin goes well too.

Watermelon Raspberry Drink
1/4 watermelon, seeded
1/2 c raspberries
1 c water
1/3 c sugar
Juice from 2 lemons

Blend or process the watermelon and raspberries and water until smooth. Strain out pulp (save it to use with yogurt!). Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Refrigerate for about an hour and serve with any additives of your choice.