green beans with eggs, jalapeño and cilantro

August 12, 2014 § 46 Comments

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Young and tender green beans are in the markets right now.  Typically we steam them until just soft and simply dress them with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  This has such a lovely combination of textures and flavors with the soft scrambled egg, tender green beans, spicy jalapeño and nutty pecans.  I found this recipe skimming through a 2011 Food & Wine magazine.  Apparently, this is a Georgian dish called lobio (bean dish). The Georgian word ‘lobio’ means ‘beans’ and there are a number of varieties of lobio dishes. This green lobio dish is typically served cool, but with its buttery scrambled eggs and tender green beans, it’s equally delicious hot. We served it warm and it was wonderful.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro, plus small sprigs for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 small red chile, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds, ground

In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the green beans until tender, 6 minutes. Drain and let cool. Transfer to a bowl.

In a large skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the eggs are scrambled, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs to the beans.

Stir in the chopped cilantro, pecans, garlic, jalapeño, red chile and dill seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro sprigs just before serving.

The green lobio can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

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apricot thyme galette

August 8, 2014 § 105 Comments

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With a nice bunch of apricots on hand I decided to bake this tangy, scarcely sweet galette for dessert.  I have a weakness for galettes.  I love the ease of preparation and the rustic look with it’s imperfect folds and uneven edges.  And I’ve been a little obsessed with adding herbs to baked goods and desserts.  Thyme pairs quite nicely with apricots in this charming galette.

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I always look forward to the weekend because I love preparing dinner when I have time to work slow and relaxed.  Saturday is ideal to cook something a little more complicated and time consuming.  And that was exactly what I had in mind last Saturday.  I made the apricot galette in the morning and went about my day expecting to return to the kitchen early afternoon to prepare dinner; calm and collected.

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It’s a good thing I made the galette in the morning because time slipped away and as it turns out, this was dinner last Saturday night, and we loved it.  Recipe from Cooking Light Magazine.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • single pie crust recipe
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 pounds firm ripe apricots, pitted and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 400°F.   Place your prepared pie dough onto a a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons sugar; sprinkle over dough, leaving a 2-inch border.  Arrange apricots spikelike on top of cornstarch mixture, leaving a 2-inch border.  Fold edges of dough over apricots (dough will only partially cover apricots).   Combine jam and honey and warm either on stovetop or microwave.  Brush jam mixture over apricots and dough edges.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.   Bake at 400°F for 35 minutes or until crust browns.  Remove from oven, spring with thyme.  Cool 10 minutes.

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herbal baby pea salad

August 4, 2014 § 72 Comments

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This summer I have been a salad making machine.  Not only salads with leafy greens, but this type of salad too.  Here we have an herbal (parsley, basil and mint) pea salad tossed in a tangy Greek yogurt dressing.   You could use fresh peas if you steamed or boiled them first.  I used thawed baby peas and they were perfectly tender and sweet.

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This recipe comes from Ethan Stowell.  A respectable chef who owns NINE restaurants in the Seattle area, one of which is cleverly named “How to Cook a Wolf”.  According to their website,  “How to Cook a Wolf pays homage to MFK Fisher and the philosophy of taking simple ingredients and transforming them into culinary splendor. The food is uncomplicated and rustic. It’s an ever-changing menu of Italian inspired small plates”.  My kind of cooking, and my kind of place.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded mint leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound frozen baby peas, thawed
  • 3 large seedless cucumbers,peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced 1/2 inch thick

In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt with the lemon juice and olive oil. Add the parsley,  basil and mint; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the peas and cucumbers and serve.

summer vegetable tortilla soup

July 31, 2014 § 82 Comments

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Grilled bread salad, roasted zucchini with ricotta and mint and tomato pie are a few of my recent posts.  All very delicious and flavorful, however, much time doesn’t need to pass before I find myself spicing things up in the kitchen again. Cooking is like that for me.  It’s very cyclical.  Weeks go by and I find myself preparing  fresh, colorful and delectable foods from the Mediterranean region, like chicken cutlets with tomatoes and capers, tzatziki and cucumber salads. Then my palate shifts.  I start to crave comfort foods, like mac and cheese, roast chicken with mashed potatoes and savory pies.  My poor family, they never know what to expect.  One day we are enjoying a nice subtle quiche and salad and the next I’ve put together a jalapeño ladened vegetable soup.  Pow!  I always return to South of the Border. Mexico. I love Mexican food and I crave it.

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For this spicy vegetable soup I used zucchini, summer squash, tomatillos, tomatoes and jalapeño.  We also added chicken and chicken stock, but I think the soup would be wonderful keeping it vegetarian.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • sea salt
  •  cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 6 cups mixed fresh vegetables (such as zucchini, yellow squash, tomatillos, jalapeño, tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cups shredded chicken (or not)

f o r    t h e    t o p p i n g

  • 3 handfuls tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro sprigs

Put the oil in a large soup pot, add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium-high heat until the onions are soft and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for another minute or so.  Stir in the tomato paste, add the stock, and bring to a simmer.

Add the vegetables to the stock, starting with the longer cooking ones first, such as chiles and tomatillo.  Simmer for a few minutes and then add the squash and tomatoes, along with 1/2 of the cilantro.  Simmer the soup until all the vegetables are tender, 15 to 35 minutes, depending on what you’re adding and how small you have cut them.  Add the chicken and simmer for another few minutes to heat through.  Taste and adjust with more salt as needed.

To serve, divide the soup amount wide soup bowls and top with the rest of the cilantro, some crushed tortilla chips, crumbled cheese and a drizzle of sour cream.  Let each diner squeeze lime juice over the soup at the table.

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This soup is wonderful with loads of fresh vegetables and herbs in a savory broth. Try any combination of vegetables that you like, though be sure to include the tomatoes, which helps flavor the broth.

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grilled bread salad

July 28, 2014 § 76 Comments

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We eat a lot of salads, but classic panzanella has to be my favorite.  Juicy summer tomatoes, sharp red wine vinegar,  fresh basil, and little grilled cubes of day old bread slightly softened by the luscious tomato juice vinaigrette…delicious.

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This is one of those recipes where the ingredients really matter. It truly is much better with with either farmer’s market or (better yet) homegrown tomatoes, rustic crusty day old bread and using a good quality extra virgin olive oil.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1/2 loaf of crusty bread, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch dice 
  • 1 cucumber peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice 
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil, torn into small size pieces
  • 2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper

Light your grill. Brush bread slices on both sides with 2 tablespoons oil. Grill until lightly charred on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into large cubes.

In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with tomatoes, cucumber and basil. Drizzle with vinegar and remaining 1/4 cup oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, and serve.

roasted zucchini with ricotta and mint

July 24, 2014 § 66 Comments

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Our weather has slipped back to clouds and rain.  I had two full days out in the garden this past weekend so really I don’t mind at all.  The cool temperature was like having the air conditioner on.  Why oh why did I allow two weekends to go by without tending the garden?   It took a good solid eight hours to catch up with the weeds and pruning!   I am not complaining, I am just sore from sitting in a squat position for hours. The yard looks magnificent and it’s time to sit down to a wonderful lunch of roasted zucchini with fresh ricotta and mint.

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I picked up a delicious fresh ricotta from my favorite Metropolitan Market and roasted two trays of 1/2 inch diced zucchini.

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You could grill the zucchini if your kitchen is too hot to turn on the oven.  Simply slice the zucchini into two long halves, brush with olive oil, grill and then dice into 1/2 inch pieces.   Recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 5 medium zucchini , diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh ricotta, for serving
  • Mint leaves, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450°. Spread the diced zucchini on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the zucchini are browned around the edges. Using a non stick skillet toast the cumin and fennel seeds until aromatic.  Crush the seeds.  You can either spin it quickly in a blender or hammer slightly in a sealable bag.  I used a coffee grinder I bought specifically for grinding seeds.  Sprinkle the zucchini with the crushed red pepper, cumin seeds and fennel seeds and roast until fragrant, about 2 minutes longer.
Transfer the zucchini to a bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and season with salt. Dollop the ricotta alongside the zucchini and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with the mint leaves and serve.

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apricot, strawberry and lavender crumble

July 21, 2014 § 71 Comments

Am I ever glad it is crumble season!  A simple crumble is the essence of summer.  My favorite dessert involves baked fruit with either crust or a crumbly mixture of oats, nuts and butter.  And here we have it.  A homey apricot strawberry crumble, a little bit tart, slightly sweet, a crispy toasted topping and with a subtle hint of lavender.

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We have a ravishing lavender bush happily growing at the side of our house.  It sits next to the rosemary bush and I think they are in a friendly competition to grow larger and more beautiful than the other.   This area is the bumblebee’s main thoroughfare between the garden in the front of the house and the back. This little spot is a wonderfully buzzing place in our yard.   And oh so fragrant too.

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I’m sure you’ve eaten lavender and enjoyed it—it’s one of the predominant ingredients in the mild, savory blend known as herbs de Provence. On its own, lavender has a lovely floral flavor with hints of mint and rosemary (it’s kinfolk) and, used correctly, it makes the perfect essence for cakes and of course, vanilla ice cream.

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A subtle amount of lavender adds a nice floral flavor.

I n g r e d i e n t s

crumble

  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for baking dish
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup dry toasted chopped pecans

filling

  • 4 apricots, pitted and cut into sixths (about 2 cups)
  • about 15 strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon lavender flowers
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon flour

Combine all crumble ingredients in a medium bowl and massage together with your fingers until butter is incorporated and mixture forms small clumps. Refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 1/2-inch shallow round baking dish or pie plate. Place a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and dry toast the chopped pecans, shaking pan occasionally.  Combine all filling ingredients in another medium bowl. Transfer to baking dish and top with crumble. Bake until bubbling in center and crumble is browned, about 40 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes.

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grilled dinner

July 15, 2014 § 75 Comments

Light the charcoal, and in the time it takes for the coals to be glowing hot you have a “one grill” dinner ready to cook.  I always love “one pot” meals and here we have applied the same concept to the grill.

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One big plate for the center of the table, a glass of vinho verde (or ice tea for the young one) and you are set for a balmy summer evening dinner.

This garlic-marinated chicken cutlet with grilled potatoes recipe is slightly adapted from Everyday Food – Great Food Fast.  If you are unable to purchase pre-cut chicken cutlets you may slice your own.  Place one hand flat on top of a chicken breast and, holding your knife parallel to the cutting board, slice it horizontally from the thick end to the thin end into 1/4-inch-thick cutlets. It’s OK if not every slice runs the length of the breast.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1-1/2 pounds baby red new potatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • coarse sea salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds chicken cutlets (about 6)
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed

Light your briquets.  Fold a four foot long sheet of aluminum foil in half to make a double-layer sheet.  Place the potatoes on the double layer and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  Form a packet, folding the foil over the potatoes and crimping the edges to seal.  Place on the grill and cook, turning over once, until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Leave the potatoes wrapped in foil to keep warm.

While your potatoes are cooking make the marinade: In a large baking dish, whisk together 1 tablespoon of olive oil, minced garlic, vinegar, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add the chicken; turn several times to coat.  Let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes while potatoes are cooking.

In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with a tablespoon olive oil.  Season with salt & pepper.  Working in batches if necessary, grill the asparagus, turning occasionally until lightly browned and tender, 4 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears.  Set aside.

Lift the chicken from the marinade and grill until browned and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side.  Remove from the grill.  Cover the chicken with foil to keep warm.

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Serve this grilled dinner family style on a big platter and let everyone help themselves.

 

 

summertime corn soup

July 10, 2014 § 71 Comments

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Despite the fact that it is summer and the heat has a way of killing our enthusiasm to turn on the stove, I did it anyway;  I made corn soup.  And what a delight!  Sweet corn and tomatoes are the quintessential tastes of summer. Adding a nice plump jalapeño to the soup pot created a softly spiced bowl of summer goodness.

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After shucking your corn and before cutting kernels for a soup you want to eliminate as much silk as possible. A helpful little technique in removing the silk from your corn is to dampen a paper towel and wipe the ear from tip to stem to capture any clinging strands.  A few silk strands left on an ear of corn that’s destined for the grill is no big deal, as they will be quickly singed off.  On the other hand, it is not very pleasant to come across a silk string in your soup.  DSCN2659

Recipe slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 4 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3 medium red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar

Hold each ear of corn with the flat end in a large bowl and use a sharp knife to cut down the cob, removing the kernels.  You should have about 2 cups of kernels.  Reserve the cobs.  In a heavy based stockpot, heat the olive oil, then add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook over low heat until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the cumin, coriander, chili powder, jalapeños, and garlic to the pot and sauté until the jalapeños are slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook until they release their juices and soften, about 10 minutes.  Add the potatoes and reserved corncobs, and 3 cups of water.  Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender but still firm, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the corn kernels and cook for 1 minutes more, until the kernels are heated through.  Remove the pot from the stove.  Remove the corncobs.  Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until about half of it is puréed, or put half of the soup in a blender and purée it, and then combine.  Add the half and half and cheese and return the soup to the stove.  Heat over low heat until the cheese is melted; do not boil.  Taste and season with more salt as needed.  Ladle into soup bowls and serve right away.

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Save the corncobs!  Simmering the corncobs in the soup intensifies the sweet corn flavor.

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Serve topped with red chili flakes and cilantro flowers.  And don’t forget the glass of vinho verde.

tomato pie

July 7, 2014 § 68 Comments

Savory pies are just about my favorite thing.  With left over ingredients from our caprese salad I knew just what to make for breakfast Saturday morning.  You could call this caprese pie.

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the lovely papercut art by Nikki McClure, a wonderful artist from Olympia, Washington…

Whenever I head out to the market I always ask the guys if there is anything special they would like me to pick up.  And my son always says “CAPRESE SALAD”!  I am not kidding when I say always.  He loves it, especially made with the fresh stretched mozzarella available at our market.  I am always delighted when he doesn’t request something sugary or a highly processed snack food.   And it is quite satisfying having your teenage son in the kitchen preparing a caprese salad for dinner.

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As for the pie, I always follow Molly Katzen’s quiche formula whenever I make a custard style pie.   Her recipe has never failed me.   Once you assemble the basic groundwork, choices for the filling are limitless.  After your crust is in place the first layer to place upon the crust is grated cheese.   The fat in the cheese melts and forms a moisture resistant barrier between the filling and the crust, thus helping to keep the crust from getting soggy.  For the filling, vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms and onions need to be steamed or sautéed prior to layering onto the pie.  Here I used uncooked tomatoes which was quite nice in keeping a fresh, raw flavor, much like caprese salad.  After applying the filling over the cheese, add the custard, which is 4 eggs and 1-1/2 cups milk, top with cherry tomatoes and bake in a 375°F oven for 35 – 40 minutes.  Simple, straightforward. casual or elegant.

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I n g r e d i e n t s

  • basic pie crust
  • 1 cup grated cheese, such as swiss, gruyére, sharp or medium cheddar
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, 1/8th inch slices (I used enough for 8 round slices)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • a few sprigs basil
  • approximately 20 cherry tomatoes, sliced in 1/2
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup milk

Prepare your pie crust and place onto your pie pan.  Deposit both the grated cheese and parmesan directly upon the crust.   Add roma tomato slices, mozzarella slices and basil.  Beat together 4 eggs and 1-1/2 cups milk and pour it over the top.  Finish the top with cherry tomatoes.  Bake 35-40 minutes at 375°F.

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