November 13, 2013
Indian Pudding -- It's National Indian Pudding Day

This from my great grandmother.. it's all we have left from her. She was a Cherokee Indian, apparently, who married a French Count.. after which he was disowned and they settled in New England. But we still have her Indian pudding recipe.

And here is a story from NPR on the "Day" that is, Indian Pudding Day.

INDIAN PUDDING
5 T Indian meal (corn meal)
5 T flour
3/4 cup molasses -- fill rest of cup with sugar
1 quart whole or cream top milk (NOTE: trader joe's has a very good organic creme top milk)

Scald milk in double boiler; mix meal, flour, molasses and sugar together in a bowl, then add to milk -- stir so it doesn't get lumpy. Cook over low heat until meal is transparent, and you have a thin pudding.

While hot add butter the size of an egg, 1/4 tspn ginger, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1/2 tspn salt, 1/2 cup golden raisins. Just before putting in 350 degree F oven, stir in 1 cup cold milk. Bake 2 hrs.

Stir once or twice to distribute raisins evenly. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

By Mary Hodder at 08:42 PM | # | Comments (0)
September 29, 2013
Almond Paste

I had to make Almond Paste for a recipe I'll post in about a week (i have to test it again, it was a little tricky, for Almond Macaroons). Turns out it's really easy to make Almond Paste. Cheaper, and you can make it organic, with either a mixer or a food processor. If raw egg white is of concern, use pasteurized egg whites which you can make yourself (google for that recipe) or find in stores.

Prep Time: about 5 minutes
Total Time: about 5 minutes

Yield: 1.5 lb (about 3.5 cups) almond paste

Ingredients:

3 cups organic ground almond flour (Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl carry this in their bulk section)
2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
1 large organic egg white, lightly beaten, at room temperature
1 T organic almond extract

Put the almond flour into a food processor or strong mixer (not a handheld). I recommend a kitchen aid mixer, first with whisk attachment for blending the almond flour and sugar. Then switch to dough hook for the paste.

Whirl or whisk with mixer, the first two ingredients. Switch to dough hook in mixer, if using that. Add egg white and almond extract. Process the almond paste until it clumps together. If it's not quite in a dough-like paste, and is still sticky, add a bit of powered sugar.

Use immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap, and ziplock, in fridge for 3 months or freezer for 6 month. Bring to room temp to use again in recipes.

By Mary Hodder at 09:01 AM | # | Comments (0)
August 13, 2013
The 1980 Regimen: Back When Everyone Was Thin, and Didn't Have Type II Diabetes.

===================================

1980graphic.png

So I hate the idea of a diet. I like the idea of establishing good eating habits, because they are healthy, and generally sticking to them. I gained weight, after creating a startup, because I didn't work out much, worked for 4 years straight without days off, for anywhere from 12-18 hours a day, and ate what people brought into the office: read sugar and other carbs.

The last couple of years, I've gotten rid of most but not all, by changing my eating habits, learning more about food and exercise, and working out daily (just to keep the metabolism up and get stronger -- but I don't have the illusion that 60 minutes a day of rigorous exercise will actually make me lose inches). Mainly I've lost weight by changing eating habits.

So the latest: I call it my "1980 diet" even though it's not a diet as in, "i'm going on a diet." This is meant to be a permanent change in eating. So I learned recently that due to the way I work out, I needed to eat a bit more protein. My doctor confirmed this, based upon the workouts. So I'm shooting for 100-110 gms of protein a day, and about half comes from animal proteins. At first that was hard.. but now I've settled in.. and it's easy. I started logging my proteins, carbs and fats on Sparkpeople.com, just to see what was happening. SHOCKER !!

The first day the carbs were at 234. Fats were reasonable.. because I'm eating lean animal proteins: Read Grass Fed everything -- cheese, pork and beef and other meats, eggs, etc (it all has more protein and less fat and is far healthier) or Wild Everything (seafood and fish). Also avocado, coconut, olive oil, etc. No trans, no other crappy quality fats.

But the carbs. HOLY MOLY.

Did you know that a cup of Romano beans has 42 carbs? Peas? 2/3 of a cup has 21. Tomatoes.. one cup has 32. OY VEY.

Now I'm using them as garnishes to things like Green Beans which come in at 7 carbs per cup, or Lettuce, or Cauliflower.

And sugars.. yikes! Desserts like a slice of cheesecake or custard ice cream, with low sugar and non-homogenized dairy are much much better.

I'm learning that eating the right kind of fats don't make you fat.. carbs and trans fats make you fat.

So I still eat a serving and half of lower carb fruit with plain yogurt and healthful seed mix for breakfast, and have almond milk and tea.

But I've modified down to about 130-150 carbs a day. And in doing a bit more research, found that the average American used to eat that amount back around 1980 and before.. back when everyone was thin and no one had Type II diabetes.

30 years later.. and the average American is eating 400-450 carbs a day, and another 500 calories a day. Well.. there you go. Type II diabetes and being obese are rampant.

As a point of comparison, apparently, the Atkins people shoot for 20 carbs a day, and Paleo which shoots for 50-70. Apparently long term this isn't supposed to be healthy.

So I've ramped back to a 1980 levels of food .. and try to make those 130-50 carbs complex and healthful.. but it's really hard. Because in 2013 we have giant servings; the metaphor for all food now is "party food" at "thanksgiving portions." And CARBS ARE EVERYWHERE..the unhealthy sugary, simple flour kind.. it's really hard to eat healthy, unless you stick to making your own stuff.

Which I do: make my own things.. like salad today: 5oz can of tuna, olive oil used for dressing with vinegar, lettuces, delicate orange radishes, cold roasted cauliflower, a Dr. Kracker Seedlander double cracker with 1oz of cheese. Very satisfying. 600 calories, 37 carbs, 29 fats and 42 proteins. Of course I followed it up with two squares of organic dark chocolate: 90 calories, 7 carbs, 6 fats and 1 protein.

My point here is not to count calories.. but just to have sense of what I'm eating, and go for the good stuff... and limit the things that are too carby.

It's a 30 day experiment.. the 1980 Regimen.

Call it the "The 1980's Regimen: A Medium Complex Carb / Medium Grass-Fed and Plant Protein / Medium Healthy Fat Diet."

And so far, going well.. I can eat anything, but only in 1980 portions and at the frequency of 1980.. which also means, not every meal is either Thanksgiving or a Party, as food is currently served today, in 2013.

By Mary Hodder at 06:12 PM | # | Comments (0)
August 18, 2012
Adult S'Mores

Note: we served these S'Mores with Loganberry Sorbetto (pureed loganberries, minimal sugar and meyer lemon juice) mixed with liquid nitrogen and used a blow torch to do the top of the marshmallows. It was fun to use both the torch and liquid nitrogen in one dessert, and the tart loganberry was a great contrast to the dark chocolate and marshmallow.

Marshmallow:
2.5 cups evaporated cane juice or turbinado or raw sugar (don't worry about the brown color, it will still come out white in the marshmallows)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup honey

2 envelopes knox or similar gelatin OR 4 envelopes of vegan geletin
1/2 cup water

1 T vanilla
(9x9 pan greased and tossed with powdered sugar or cornstarch or mix of two so that inside has a fine coating of the powder mix on the sides -- if you are making the marshmallow for s'mores, you don't need this extra pan as you just put it on the chocolate / graham mix in a 9x9 pan).

Put water and gelatin into the bowl of mixer.. stir a little and let sit about 25 - 30 min.

Put the water, sugar and honey into a pan on stove.. bring to simmer but don't let boil over.. stay and stir constantly.. and use candy thermometer to bring to 244 deg. F. Took me about 5 minutes.
Once it's 244F -- carefully -- pour into the mixing bowl.. and scrape pan. Then turn on mixer slowly up to high.. and let run for 15 minutes. It will get big, white, fluffy..
you can slow it down for a sec during the process.. scrape sides of mixer bowl if you want, and then rev back to high. At the end.. add the vanilla. Pour into pan and let
sit. Use either cut up into squares to roast, and then sprinkle more powder on top and sides, or use on top of S'Mores.

S'Mores

Crust:
1.5 wrapped packages of graham cracker (of 3 from a regular box) -- leave in wax wrapper and hit with rolling pin to break up
1 cube butter (yes.. the original recipe called for two.. I reduced.. it worked well with 1 cube)
3 T evap cane juice or raw sugar.

Melt Butter, put in food processor, with crumbled graham crackers and sugar, pulse until fine grain.

OR.. make your own graham cracker crust, gluten free:
1.5 c light to medium buckwheat flour
1 teasp baking soda
1/2 teasp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/4 c coconut butter
1/2 cup coconut or muscavado sugar
1/2 teasp vanilla extract
1/4 c water or almond milk

Pull coconut butter and sugar in food processor. Then add cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and water/milk. Pulse again. Then add sifted buckwheat and baking soda, pulse again.

Press either mixture into bottom of 9x9 pan that has been greased, bake at 350F for 10 min for first mix, 20 minutes for the buckwheat mix. Let cool.

Grenache:
2 Trader Joes 70% organic dark or semi-sweet chocolate or equivalent 7 oz of chocolate
1/2 cup creme

Melt choc in microwave at 30 sec intervals in glass bowl so as not to burn.. when 1/2 melted, whisk chocolate until the melted parts mix well and melt the not melted parts. Then whisk in creme. Let cool, then pour into the pan with graham cracker crust. Spread evenly to edges.

After chocolate has cooled and hardened some (it will still be soft at room temp) pour the marshmallow mix above directly into the pan on top of chocolate, gently spreading so as not to squish out the chocolate or crust.. let sit to firm up/ cool down for at least 30 minutes and until cool to touch. Then use a blow torch with food grade fuel (butane is usually what they use in restaurants and they sell little mini hand torches which we have for creme brulee) and toast the top.. or use broiler but don't shut door of oven.. keep your hand in a mit, moving the pan around to toast the top evenly and pull out quickly when done..

By Mary Hodder at 01:58 PM | # | Comments (0)
July 21, 2012
Zucchini Salad with Mint, Shallots, Hazelnuts

Screen shot 2012-08-21 at 1.52.07 PM.png

The nuttiness of the hazelnuts with the fresh cleanness of the zucchini and mint is really lovely. And the shallots give it a small bite. It's a great combo.

4 sm organic zucchini, chopped into small diced sized pieces
1 sm organic shallot finely minced
1 small bunch organic mint, washed and chopped to be about 1/2-3/4 cup loose pieces
1/2 cup organic hazelnuts, chopped well
1/2 meyer lemon juice
3 T organic olive oil
S&P to taste

Toss all ingredients lightly to coat with olive oil and lemon and evenly mix. Serve, or chill for a few hours and then serve. Keeps about 4 days in refrigerator.

4 side servings or 2 main servings.

Optional: if you want, you can add 1/2 c crumbled feta or goat cheese after the rest of it is mixed, lightly folding it into the mix. Also, a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half is also a nice addition.

By Mary Hodder at 01:27 PM | # | Comments (0)
December 30, 2011
Google Ragu with Gnocchi

About three weeks ago I had lunch at Goog.. and you know the rule when you eat at one of their restaurants: try a small bite of everything they make. It's organic deliciousness. I had a little of the meat ragu and potato gnocchi.. not something I eat a lot of generally .. but it was divine on a cold, wintery day. I mean.. i thought about it for two days after.. it was perfection.

So I decided to reverse engineer it.

I started with a recipe first, which I didn't like. Too tomato-y and not at all creamy, it just didn't have what the Google Ragu had. So then I made this recipe, from Caterina Schenardi who is Daniele Boldrini's mother, owner of Gradisca in Manhattan, where his mother makes the pasta behind glass at the front area. Then I modified it to be like what I remembered... and it came out just like the Google Ragu.

Also note that this is a bit like making Risotto.. in that you stir quite a bit, over the two hours. And keep adding liquid. It's not something you can walk away from all that much.

Google Ragu

INGREDIENTS
1.5 pounds ground grass-fed shoulder or leg of lamb
1.5 pounds ground grass-fed beef chuck roast
(I purchased the roasts, organic, which were about $4 a pound, and had them grind them twice, which is normal for a lot of butchers and Whole Foods)

8 - 7" sprigs rosemary, rinsed
40-50 organic whole black peppercorns
10 cloves organic garlic, peeled
3 cups organic whole milk

3 tablespoons org. extra virgin olive oil
1 huge organic yellow onion or 2 mediums finely chopped by hand or food processor
10oz brown mushrooms finely chopped or by food processor

2 medium or 3 skinny organic carrots
3 medium organic celery stalks
(puree these two together in a food processor or grinder)

1 cup canned organic diced tomatoes with liquid
1 6oz organic tomato paste
3 bay leaves

3 cups organic mushroom stock and beef stock (i used half and half "better than bouillon" concentrate to make the stock: 3c water, heated, mixed with 1.5 teasp each of beef and mushroom bouillons)
1 bottle Italian or Spanish red wine (I used a barbaresco that is about 7 years old.. from trader joes or a good quality tempranillo)
1.5 cups whole organic milk

Tagliatelle, paparadelle, gnocchi or other pasta, for serving

METHOD:
Mix the two meats together well. Line the bottom of a stainless or glass bowl with 4 stems of rosemary spread out, along with 4 garlic cloves and half the peppercorns. Add a little of the whole milk, and set in half the meat. Poke a few holes in the layer of meat, but not through to the bottom layer of rosemary, garlic and peppercorns. Pour in another cup of milk. Then layer four more rosemary sprigs, along with the rest of the garlic cloves and pepper corns. Put the second half of the meat in gently. Then press into a flattened shape filling the bowl. Add the last two rosemary sprigs to the top and add the rest of the milk. Add more to just cover if you need it. But three cups should do it, and if you need less that's fine too. You just want it covered.

Cover the bowl and put in the refridgerator overnight. I use plastic wrap across the bowl, then place a rubber band around the wrap at the top, which prevents spills and keeps it fresh.

Next day: finely mince the mushroom, onion, carrot and celery in a food processor (or grinder for carrot and celery). Heat oil in a 5Q or larger heavy pot. When oil sizzles, toss in the onion mixture, and saute until the liquid is cooked out, stirring well. Add mushrooms and cook again until the liquid is out, stirring well.

NOTE: do not add salt or pepper, until later, to taste.

Remove and discard rosemary from top of the meat, gently pull back the top layer of meat, to pull out the next layer of rosemary, garlic and peppercorns. Chop finely the garlic cloves and put in with the cooking onion mix. Pull out peppercorns if you don't like having them whole in the ragu (They are a bit much for most people and I always remove them.. but if you layer the meat as I described above, you can pull the layers out carefully, and get most of the pepper corns.. then, as you stir in the following ingredients you should find the last couple of them). Pull up the last layer of meat, and repeat pulling out the rosemary and peppercorns to discard, and chop the last of the garlic to put into the onion mix.

Add the meat and continue to saute mixture on low heat, again stirring well, until all meat is browned. Continue to stir to keep it from burning until the juices and milk are cooked out. Spoon off any fat from the meat. I did this and had a little juice at the bottom of my fat container, which I added back in later. The meat fat was then discarded. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir for a few minutes, cooking out the liquid.

Next add 3/4 of the bottle of wine, and again, stir the meat well until the wine cooks out. Stir periodically, in order to keep the liquids distributed and the mix from burning. Once the wine has cooked out, then add half the stock (the organic mushroom broth I use is salty, so I added no salt at all to this.. however, after adding the broth, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed).

Cook the ragu down to where there isn't much liquid in the meat. Add the other half of the broth and repeat until the liquid is cooked down again. This should take about an hour to saute and simmer through the steps cooking out the liquid and stirring and folding to remix the liquids and meat mixture. Then add the rest of the milk, simmer and fold / stir the mixture for about 15 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper but if your broth is salted and you leave in the pepper corns, you won't need any at all. Taste for flavor, and as needed, add the last cup or so of wine. I usually do as it needs that last bit of edge to bring it all together.

You can then turn off the pot, let it cool, cover and put it in the fridge until you are near serving time. I like to make the ragu a day before we eat it to let the flavors meld. Then reheat, prepare pasta or gnocchi, or make sloppy joes, or roasted cauliflower steaks, or whatever you plan to serve the ragu with, and spoon over the pasta as desired. I also like adding shredded parma over the top of the hot ragu and gnocchi, but a little goes a long way. You don't need much.

I made gnocchi too, but that recipe will have to wait...

Enjoy!

By Mary Hodder at 02:55 PM | # | Comments (0)
July 14, 2011
Perfecting Cafe Gratitude's Warm Sushi Salad

Two years ago, I bought the Cafe Gratitude cookbook, just so I could get the recipe for Warm Sushi Salad and the "I am accepting" almond and raw cacao milkshake (you just have to get over the names.. these two things are terrific.)

Anyway, the book neglected to have either of them. I rarely buy cookbooks, and make everything out of my head mostly, but this kind of food is different. It is helpful to know how to use "irish moss" or how to make nutmilks, so that was helpful for vegan tiramisu, which is great for Passover or whatever. So i figured out the milkshake (almond milk, almond milk "ice cream," almond butter, raw cacao, vanilla and agave syrup) but didn't start on the Warm Sushi salad until now.

After three tries, I think I'm relatively close.

Warm Sushi Salad

Make 1.5 cups of organic Bhutanese Red Rice according to directions
(Something like: bring 1.5 c rice, 2.25 cups water, dash of salt to a boil, cook for 20m, fluff and let sit until warm, makes 4.25 cups. Note that Gratitude does raw food and has some way to cook this rice with warm water, but given they didn't include the recipe in the book, i'm making it the way you do when you cook it on the stove.)

5 organic scallions or green onions, cleaned and chopped into 3mm slices all the way through the green
4 large or 7 small red kale leaves, well cleaned and with rib cut out and *very* thinly sliced
2 small organic persian cucumbers or 1 large english cuke, cut into slices and cut into small pieces
handfull of organic pea shoots
3 sheets of organic nori, sliced into 1" strips, then sliced thinly crosswise
2 organic avocados

Dressing:
3/4 cup organic sesame seeds, toasted, cooled, ground in a food processor
add:
3 T dark organic sesame oil
2 T organic EV olive oil
Dash of soy sauce (Gratitude doesn't use soy.. but I liked it in there)
Fresh ground organic pepper
3-4 Inches organic ginger, skin sliced off, and cut into slices
1/4 c organic rice wine or 3 T organic rice wine vinegar
Zest from 1 organic meyer, lisbon or eureka lemon
Blend with Sesame seeds in food processor
Taste for seasoning.

Directions:
Toss warm rice in kale and scallions. Let wilt. Once cooled, add nori, cucumber and dressing. Then when serving, put 1/4 of salad into bowl or plate, chop avocado half and arrange on top. Repeat for each other serving.

Serves 4.

By Mary Hodder at 07:20 PM | # | Comments (0)
July 16, 2010
Cherry Claflouti

This recipe was adapted from Elise Bauer's site Simply Recipes from Garrett McCord's recipe.

Cherry Claflouti with whipped creme

Cherry season is short.. but when it comes.. it's in full force. Buy or pick all you can and then eat them like crazy, fresh, in Claflouti, with cereal, on yogurt, and definitely have pit spitting contests to see who can hurl them though the tongue the farthest.

Ingredients
* 4 cups of fresh sweet organic cherries, pitted
* 1 cup of ground organic almonds with or without skin
* 4 eggs
* 1 cup of organic cane juice sugar
* 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, sifted
* 1/8 teaspoon of salt
* 1.5 cups of whole organic milk
* 2 tablespoons Amaretto or good dark Rum -or- 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract
* 1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
* Powdered sugar for dusting
* Optional: whipped cream whipped without sugar for serving on the side.

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9X13 baking dish. Toss cherries and ground almonds in a bowl. Then place in the baking dish.

cherries with almonds

2. Whisk the eggs, sugars, salt, and flour together until smooth.

3. Add the milk, Amaretto or Rum (or almond extract, if using), and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour over the cherry/almonds in the baking dish.

claflouti unbaked

Bake for 45 minutes, test by pulling it out of the oven and gently pressing the middle with a finger.. if firm, it's done.

baked claflouti

Cool some.. if you want, dust with powdered sugar, but serve a little warm with whipped creme.

Yummy! So good I'm getting a cherry pitter because i made this three times this cherry season and it appeared an axe murder had occurred on since the juice ran dark from my fingers to my elbows.

By Mary Hodder at 09:16 AM | # | Comments (0)
June 10, 2010
Chile Verde Recipe (adapted from Elise Bauer)

Chile Verde with avocado, yucon gold potatoes, cilantro and cremeI adapted this from my friend, Elise Bauer's recipe, though I altered it from memories of another friend Alex's mom's dish, who made this about 20 years ago in Santa Fe for a family get together. In Alex's family, her mom, all her aunties and great-aunties (her mom's aunts) would each cook one dish or addition for family events. They would always make it the same every time, as it was their specialty. I was lucky enough to be invited to a few of their family holidays, where there would be Chile Verde, Red Chile Chicken Enchiladas, pinto beans, corn tortillas, pesole, and various salads, all from scratch and very very fresh. So far, I've got the Enchiladas, pinto beans and Chile Verde figured out.

Ingredients:

I make this with organic ingredients.. and "natural" pork and I think it tastes really good.

I really encourage you to support organic farmers in growing sustainable food that happens to taste much better because the nitrates and chemicals don't get in the way (ie blow up the food to be big adn tasteless), and many things have much higher vitamin and mineral contents. :)

* 2 to 3 pounds pork loin cubed or 3 to 4 pounds (also called pork butt), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 to 2-inch cubes (i prefer the loin unless it's a special occasion.. it doesn't fall apart as easily as the shoulder but the loin is much less fat)
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Extra virgin olive oil
* 2 yellow onions
* 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
* 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh oregano or 1 Tbsp of dried oregano
* 2 1/2 cups chicken stock (or pork bone stock if you have it)
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
* 3 bay leaves
* 1 bunch cilantro leaves, cleaned and chopped
* 12 large or 20 smaller pablano or Anaheim chilies chopped into chunks (rinse, roast under a broiler so they pop a little, then cool, peel off blackened skin, and toss the out stem, seeds and string.. chop chilies -- I tend to make these each August during the high chili season at the farmers market, -- read: bargain on buying a case, and then roast, peel and freeze them in a small amount of olive oil. You can defrost a 16oz container, squeeze the oil out of the chilies to use in cooking the onions and pork, and then chop the chilis for use as the verde).
* Salt

Method:
Put oil in a large pan that has a good heavy lid. I use a griswold cast iron "chicken pan" which is about 10" across, and 3.5" deep, with a self basting lid.. you can find these on Ebay for about $30 (don't bother with a collector version of these pans.. as they go for hundreds.. Ebay search here) but lots of other pans will work well.. just make sure it's heavy and won't burn on the bottom as this cooks down over hours on the stove.

Heat the oil for just a few seconds on high until it's runny.. don't let it burn. Put in the cubed pork and brown lightly on all sides. Put in the chopped onion and continue folding the pork and onion until the onion is translucent and a bit browned. Add garlic, pepper and oregano, fold/stir in. Add the broth. Once that's incorporated, add the ground cloves, and stir in. It will smell at first like there is too much clove, but it's okay. Add cilantro and chopped chilis. Bring to a simmer, and you'll notice the cloves blending with the chili and other flavors. Add a very small amount of salt. Adding all the salt early will leach the moisture from the pork and it won't be as tender. So add the full salt at the end of cooking, when you can taste the blended flavors and get the right amount in the dish.

Chile Verde

I usually simmer this, stirring about once every half hour, for about 4 hours. It's great rainy day weekend food. I usually let it cool and then reheat it hours later or the next day, for the best flavor.

Serve it a big ladle full of pork chile verde over two small Yukon gold baked potatoes split open, then add a few pieces of fresh avocado and a bit of chopped cilantro. If you really want to get fancy, spoon some sour cream on as well. The heat of the pork will be nice again the cooling potatoes, avocado and creme. If you want you can also serve this with fresh corn tortillas.

It should make about 8 medium servings (about 4-6 oz of pork each along with verde sauce).

By Mary Hodder at 11:00 AM | # | Comments (0)
May 17, 2010
Goddess Dressing and Couscous Salad

Whole wheat couscous, with green olives, scallions, feta and garbanzo

Dressing
* 3/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (I toast these in the oven in cast iron frying pan, without anything else in the pan but the seeds, by holding the pan under the broiler and gently tossing the seeds around until they are a few shades darker, and then set to cool)
* 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
* 1/4 cup good quality dark toasted sesame oil (Not plain sesame oil)
* 1/2 of Meyer lemon *or* 1 whole Bearss or other big juicy sweet lime - juiced
* 2 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar
* 1/4 cup water
* 5 small green scallion onions (white and green parts chopped into small sections)
* 3 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
* 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into thirds
* 6 to 7 grounds of black/mixed pepper
* Salt to taste, after the mix is checked for salt levels

Grind the cooled seeds in a blender (or food processor, but I find this works better in a blender). Once the seeds are in a fine grind, then add oils, lemon juice and blend again. Add water and vinegar and blend into a smooth paste. Add chopped onion, soy sauce and pepper. Mix again, and taste. Add salt to taste.

This batch will make two of these Couscous salads, so you can use the other half of the dressing for something else, or freeze it for later use, or just refrigerate it covered for up to three weeks.

Couscous Salad
* 1 1/2 c whole wheat couscous (Trader Joe's brand of plane whole wheat couscous does really well for this recipe. Make it by the box directions, where they suggest adding a little salt and butter, but use 2c of broth instead of the 1.5 cups on the directions, and it's fluffy and works really well.)
* 2 c broth of choice (i use the broth made from a Moroccan chicken dish but you can also use veggie or chicken broth from a store bought box and the flavor will be great)
* 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed in a small strainer under water and drained
* 3 green scallion onions chopped into 1/4 inch sections (use all the whites and green parts but remove the ends)
* 1/2 c kalamata olives (or I used 1 cup of green castelvaltrano olives -- the latter are less salty and have a fresh bright taste - and whole foods sells them in their olive bar pre-pitted and chopped)
* 4 oz of crumbled lightly salted feta
* Half of the goddess dressing mix above

Cook the couscous to the directions on box (see my notes above about using the box from Trader Joes), or if using raw couscous, soak the couscous in water and drain. Rest for 20 minutes and then fluff with a fork or rake with your fingers. Heat broth in a pan, let come to a boil and turn off. Mix in the soaked and fluffed couscous for 20 minutes, covered. Fluff it again with a fork. Remove lid and when cooled, add all the ingredients to the bowl except the dressing, toss, and then gently fold in the fluffed couscous. Then fold in the dressing carefully, so that it's well blended and not caked into the couscous.

Serves 6. I've served this with a Moroccan Chicken dish plus a veggie and a salad or at all vegetarian meals. And it's terrific left over. Just refrigerate it for later.

By Mary Hodder at 07:52 AM | # | Comments (0)
April 21, 2010
Chocolate-Orange Cake

Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess (and translated to American measurements)

Chocolate Marmalade Cake

Ingredients:
1.5 cubes unsalted butter
1.5 bars of 73% organic dark chocolate (trader joes or green & black worked well)
16 oz of good quality orange (or tangerine -- which I used) marmalade
1.5 cups of sugar (Nigella uses 2 cups - I used organic evaporated cane juice crystals)
1/2 T of salt
3 large eggs
1 2/3 cups of self-rising or pastry flour, well sifted before measurement

Melt butter slowly in a heavy-bottom saucepan. When it's almost melted, add chocolate pieces. Remove from heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, until chocolate has melted.

Add marmalade, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir thoroughly (it's okay to leave small visible chunks of marmalade in the batter).

Add sifted flour, stir and pour into a buttered / floured 10" springform cake tin.
Bake at 350˚F oven for 45-50 minutes, until the cake has set (test with a knife or wooden stick).

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then slide onto a plate.

Dust with powered sugar through a sifter on the top.

Chocolate Marmalade Cake

By Mary Hodder at 06:25 PM | # | Comments (0)
April 12, 2010
(Green) Asparagus and Green Garlic Soup

Adapted from White Asparagus and Green Garlic Soup

Makes Eight 2-cup servings
Note: all ingredients used are organic, and the stock suggestion assumes this as I suggest you put in a whole onion, carrots and celery, skin ends and all.. if not using organic, do peel things to get the chemicals off. All items used were rinsed to remove organic pesticides. Also.. this can be an expensive dish, or inexpensive.. I'd suggest a visit to a farmer's market because these ingredients are in season now. This soup cost about $10 to make because all the growers arw selling organic spring veggies so inexpensively.

* 2 lbs green asparagus
* 4 medium sized green garlic stalks, washed thoroughly and roughly chopped out as far as is fresh on the stems
* 3 smaller or 1 giant leek, washed and thinly sliced, out through the fresh part of the green
* 4 ounces whole butter
* 2 T olive oil
* 1 cup white wine
* 6 cups clear chicken stock (i made my own with a whole chicken carcass, green garlic ends from several bunches, 1 whole onion cut up with skin and ends, 2 carrots, 2 ribs celery, pepper corns, bay leaves and 5 Q water.. then simmer for 4 hours, and pull out 6 cups for this soup, minus the fat which I skimmed off -- or your can just buy broth at the store, either chicken or veggie)
* 2 cups heavy cream
* Finely chopped chives, about a 1/4 cup
* Salt and pepper to taste
* Optional: lemon oil

Sautè green garlic in butter and oil. Add leeks and continue cooking, until translucent. Be careful not to brown ingredients. Season lightly with salt and pepper (and remember that adding stock later, if it has salt, means you should add less now). Chop asparagus into 1/2 inch lengths, reserving about 12 tips for garnish. Meanwhile, add white wine to the leeks and garlic and reduce liquid significantly. Then add asparagus and saute for a couple of minutes. Then add stock. Simmer until all ingredients are tender, about 30 minutes. Add heavy cream, simmer for 10 more minutes. Purée soup (in batches if necessary). Return to saucepan.

You can leave the soup at this point, for a while on the stove to sit before dinner or all day in the fridge if you want to make it ahead of time. When ready to serve, heat the soup back to a light simmer, stirring frequently, and add asparagus tips sliced in half the long way. Check seasoning, add salt if necessary. When asparagus tips are tender, pour soup into bowl and garnish with chopped chives and a few dots of lemon oil.

By Mary Hodder at 08:13 AM | # | Comments (0)
February 28, 2010
Salmon Spread

8-16 oz of cooled salmon (can be poached, grilled, or baked) without any toppings or skin or bones
1/2 cup of washed and finely chopped organic dill
3 shallots of 1 larger sweet onion, sauteed in 1 T olive oil, then cooled
ground rock salt and ground pepper to taste
6 oz of creme cheese or goat cheese or farmers cheese, softened to room temperature
Zest of 1 organic lemon, plus juice of half the lemon (if meyer, use the whole lemon, if more acidic lemon, try a half, and then if needed us the other half)

Using the tines of a fork, break up salmon, look for any wayward bones, and then add in the rest of the ingredients and gently mash/fold the ingredients together.. into a fluffy spread. Adjust salt and pepper and lemon juice.

Serve on crackers.

By Mary Hodder at 09:07 AM | # | Comments (0)
December 27, 2009
Kabocha Squash and Leek Soup


Kabocha and Leek Soup, with saffron, tumeric and sherry

Note: we served this with a nice Parrano cheese melted onto a slice of baguette.

2 T EV olive oil
3 leeks, sliced, soaked to remove grit and drained
3 stalks celery, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley chopped
2 medium kabocha squash, cut into quarters, roasted in oven on cookie sheet, cooled, peeled and chopped into chunks
1.5 quarts chicken or veggie broth
1/2 t pepper (white is better, but can use black)

Saute olive oil with leeks and celery until green color has turned. Add marjoram, parsley and bay leaves and stir a bit. Add squash chunks, broth and pepper. Simmer for 35 - 40 min. Cool and puree and return to the pot

1/2 cup dry sherry
1 1/4 t turmeric
3/4 cup heavy creme
1 T salt
2-3 pinches of saffron

Stir in the remaining ingredients and adjust salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, bring back to a simmer on the stove. You can garnish with creme fraiche or greek yoghurt, crisped leeks, chopped pecans, toasted seeds (squash or pumpkin), etc.

By Mary Hodder at 03:44 PM | # | Comments (0)
November 30, 2009
pasta con zucchine, fiori e ricotta

This pasta recipe was inspired and altered from this La Cucina Italiana recipe.

When I go to the farmer's market in the fall I look for zucchini blossoms and often they are 3 to 10 for a dollar. But at the end of the day, sellers are often still very stocked with them, and you can ask to make a deal. I made this dish with 100+ blossoms (which are pretty mild and the receipe was great with that number of them) because a seller sold me all her remaining stock for $3.

Pasta con zucchine, fiori e ricotta

Ingredients

* Coarse sea salt
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
* 5 large shallots, thinly sliced
* 1 pound zucchini, thinly sliced crosswise
* sweet corn cut from 4 cobs
* nutmeg ground fresh to taste, about 1/2 a large pod or 3/4 tablespoon of preground nutmeg
* 10 tablespoons finely chopped fresh marjoram (it's mild when fresh and you can use a lot in this recipe)
* 50 - 100 large zucchini blossoms, stems and pistils removed
* 1 pound fresh pasta like an angel hair
* 16 ounces fresh ricotta cheese (2 cups)
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Asiago or hard cheese for grating

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot, reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini, marjoram, corn and nutmeg; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes more. Stir in 1/2 the zucchini blossoms and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat and season with salt.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid, drain pasta. Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl. Add zucchini mixture and ricotta; stir to combine. Moisten with pasta cooking liquid, if desired.

Serve drizzled with oil and sprinkled generously with pepper. Gently fold in the rest of the blossoms so that they are visible on top.. and sprinkle with asagio cheese as desired.

By Mary Hodder at 09:29 AM | # | Comments (0)
November 14, 2009
Persimmon Cake

So, first, this is made with Fuyu or Jiro persimmons, not the very soft-when-ripe Hachiya Persimmons. Fuyu's are the ones that are more like apples, in that they are eaten when crunchy, usually fresh, and are squat in size.

Here is a slice of the Persimmon Cake, which looks as carmelized as it tastes:
A tasty slice of persimmon cake

I adapted this Apple Cake recipe from Razzle Dazzle Recipes for Fuyu Persimmons:

Chopping Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu Persimmon Walnut Cake

5 cups organic Fuyu Persimmons peeled, chopped into small pieces
1.5 cups organic evaporated cane juice sugar
2 organic eggs slightly beaten
1/2 cup organic olive oil
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
2 cups organic unbleached pastry or baking flour or for gluten free: use 2c organic buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons organic cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups organic walnuts chopped

In bowl stir together chopped Fuyu persimmons and 1 cup sugar; let stand 5 minutes or as long as you need to mix the rest of this (not more than 30 minutes as it becomes too liquidy).

Mix with sugar

Mix on high beaters: 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.

Mix eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar

Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Fold gently into in egg mixture until all is incorporated and dry mixture is gone, but don't overmix so as to keep lighter.

Fold into egg/sugar/flour mix the nuts and persimmons

Fold in persimmon mix and their liquid and scrape any sugar from bowl, plus walnuts. Fold well so that the persimmons and walnuts and liquid are incorporated, but again, you want to mix just enough. Overmixing will make it tougher.

The final batter

Pour batter into greased and floured (can use buckwheat flour here too) 13 x 9 baking pan, or a 10" greased and floured spring form pan.

Bake at 350ºF for 60 minutes or until done.

The Finished Product:
Persimmon Cake

This is shown in the rectangle pan, but I've made it more often in the springform and it turns out beautifully.. and in many ways is easier to slice and serve.

You might serve it with whipped creme, warm. We've also tried it with chocolate and orange ice cream and it complimented the cake nicely.

By Mary Hodder at 08:53 PM | # | Comments (0)
August 26, 2009
Blackberry Pie

First, I only really make this pie if I've picked blackberries somewhere. The reason? It's too expensive to buy this many blackberries from the store, and they don't taste nearly as good as when you pick them fresh. Or if in season, buy a flat at a great discount at the farmer's market.

Step one: rinse about 10 cups of blackberries very gently to test the dust off. Put in about 1 cup of sugar and juice from a big meyer lemon (about a 3/4 cup) or 1.5 eureka or lisbon lemons (about a 1/2 cup).

Blackberries and sugar

Step two: make a pate brisee crust.

1.5 cubes or 12 T butter
2.5 c sifted flour
1 T evaporated cane juice organic sugar
1 t salt
Cold water

Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a metal bowl. Cut the butter into the flour, sugar, salt mixture a pastry cutter, working until the butter is in very small pieces, about 1/4" cubes or smaller and coated with the dry mixture. Be sure not to touch the mixture with your hands which will warm the butter and melt it. Just use a knife to scrape it from the pastry cutter, and work quickly to keep the mixture cold. Add 1/4 cup cold water and using a fork, blend the mixture into a dough. Carefully add a tablespoon at a time of additional cold water until the dough is crumbly but there is only a small amount of loose flour outside the main dough ball. Working quickly, take the dough and place it in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap. Then fold the wrap over teh top of the dough, press everything together and quickly and lightly form into a disc. Place the neatly wrapped disc into a ziplog bag. Put into the fridge for at least a half hour.

Step three: roll out the crust.

Place about a half cup of flour over a work surface at least 24" x 24" and then take half the dough from the plastic. Leave the other half back in the fridge. Put flour on a rolling pin, dust the top of the half disc, and carefully roll out the crust. Once it's about 1/8" thick uniformly by about 15" in diameter, lift the dough in a single piece into a 10" pie pan. Place the fruit into the pan with crust. Cut the edge of the crust leaving about a half inch around the outside edge of the pan. Set the fruit / crust in pan into the fridge.

Get out the other half of the dough rolling it out using the instruction above. Once the dough is approximately 15" in diameter, cut out a shape or two (star, moon, circle, etc). Pull the fruit / pan out of the fridge. Carefully lift the dough over the pan, and press the edges together either with fork tines, or with a three finger press to make ridges.

Mix well in a small bowl:
1 egg
1 T water

Brush the egg mixture over the top of the pie crust.

Uncooked:  blackberry pie

Step four: bake it.

Bake the pie in a 350 deg F oven for 50 minutes (10 min more if at high altitude). Crust will be lightly browned and the berries will be bubbling inside the holes. Let cool and serve with creme fraiche, vanilla ice cream, whipped creme, or plain.

And here is the finished product:

Blackberry pie (finished)

By Mary Hodder at 05:43 PM | # | Comments (0)
August 11, 2009
Blackberry Sorbetto

Sugar syrup: heat in a pan, dissolve sugar, then cool and chill in fridge for a couple of hours.
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup water

Berries: clean fresh berries or thaw frozen until they are defrosted but still cold, keeping all juice
8 small baskets of very ripe cold fresh
or
1.5 lbs frozen unsweetened blackberries, thawed with juices

1/2 meyer lemon juice

Directions:
Puree blackberries with juice and cold syrup in blender until smooth. Strain into large bowl; discard seeds. Mix in lemon juice.

Process berry mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer sorbetto to a container; seal and freeze until firm, about 6 hours. Keep frozen until ready to serve.

Note: we made this with Liquid Nitrogen. That means we wore gloves, masks, and purchased the Nitrogen in a Dewar from someplace like Airgas. Then at home, we carefully poured the nitrogen into a steel bowl with the sorbetto mixture, stiring it with a wooden spoon, fully decked like Dr. Horrible.

The Sorbetto was creamy, with no discernible ice crystals like what comes from a regular ice cream maker. It was so creamy, it was as if there was a little dairy in the mix, even though there was none. If you want an adveture, do a little research on using care with Liquid Nitrogen, and then try that method.

By Mary Hodder at 10:53 PM | # | Comments (0)
July 10, 2009
Apricot Tarte

I made this tarte bout 10 days ago for Esme Vos' birthday.

foodporn: apricot ricotta hazelnut tarte

Recipe:

Top:
12 Apricots
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice or similar organic sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice (prefer meyer lemon but can use lisbon or eureka lemon)

Filling:
2.5 cups ricotta cheese
(you can make your own, with 1/2 gal of 2% milk, plus 1 cup cream, brought to a simmer in a large pan, with juice of 1 large lemon. then let it cool, while it curdles. Strain it and discard the "milk" keeping the soft cheese.)

Grated nutmeg from about 3/4 of a nutmeg seed or 1 t nutmeg
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 T vanilla
1/4 t salt

crust:
4 cups hazelnuts
2 T cold unsalted butter
1/4 t salt

Directions:
Make the crust first. Preheat oven to 325 deg. F. Pulse in a food processor the hazelnuts. When they are finely ground and even, add the butter cut into a couple of pieces and the salt, and pulse until finely ground together in a light mix that will just look like nuts but have the butter and salt distributed.

Press the mixture into a 8x10" pan, with 2 inch sides. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly toasted on edges.

Let cool.

Make the filling by mixing well all filling ingredients. When the crust is cooled, carefully pour into the crust, and spread evenly without pulling the crust away from the sides.

It should be lower than the top of the crust.

Then prep apricots by slicing them in half. Pour sugar and juice over them and gently fold the apricots in order to coat them with bits of sugar and the juice.

Then take the apricots and put them into a row face up, so that they are neatly spread across the top in a 4 x 6 grid.

Bake at 325 deg F for about 40 minutes, or until some of the ricotta has browned slightly and the filling is lightly firm.

Cool and serve.

By Mary Hodder at 12:45 PM | # | Comments (0)
March 22, 2009
Honey Puff Pancake

This is something my mom made occasionally on weekends for breakfast. We loved it! She got a recipe from a friend visiting California from Bulgaria. And we usually served it with cut up fresh peaches or strawberries.

Honey Puff Pancake

Honey Puff Pancake for 4

Ingredients
1 c milk
1 c flour
6 eggs
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T. honey
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 oz cream cheese
3 T. butter

Serve with:
* Lemon cut up into quarters
* powdered sugar
* strawberries, peaches or other fruit, dusted with a tiny bit of powered sugar to bring out the juices

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Put milk, eggs, lemon zest, honey, salt, flour, cream cheese and baking powder into a blender.
3. Blend at high for about 2 minutes.
4. Scrape sides and blend again for another minute.
5. Put 8 or 9" cast iron skillet into oven until hot, then add butter to melt.
6. Pull out the pan, swish the butter around.
7. Pour the batter from the blender into the pan.
8. Bake 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
9. While the pancake is baking, pull together the toppings in little bowls:
lemon wedges, powered sugar and in a larger bowl, cut up fruit.

Pancake is like a souffle and will fall some after being removed from the oven, but don't worry. Set the table. Get everything ready, including having a hot pad on the table, so you can immediately serve it. Slice the pancake into about 8 slices and serve with the toppings. I like to poke (with a fork) a few times into the middle of the the slice of pancake. Then squeeze lemon, then dust with powered sugar, then put the fruit on top.

By Mary Hodder at 09:44 AM | # | Comments (0)
March 02, 2009
Sweet Red Bell Pepper Relish

That friend I mentioned who taught me to make Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (Karen Bryant) also used to make this. I remember a lot of wonderful family dinners of roast beef or leg of lamb, with this relish on the side. It's the best. So even though it's not pepper season in California, it is in Mexico. And the Berkeley Bowl had Organic Red Bells on sale Friday, so I bought 20 of them and made this.

Sweet Red Bell Pepper Relish

Step 1:
Cut the peppers in half, core and remove seeds, and mince using a mandoline, or a food processor (be careful not to pulverize.. you want little chunks) or chop them into tiny little squares of pepper.

I used about 20 in this dish to make the relish.

Using the mandoline

Step 2:
Use a large collander, and drain them for about 6 hours.

Draining the Red Bell Peppers once finely chopped

Step 3:
Take drained chopped peppers (save the liquid, which you can use for stock or a soup or just drink.. it's amazing stuff.. or poach salmon in it with a few herbs, and on and on) and place in a large sauce pan.
Add two cups organic raw sugar and 2 cups organic apple cider vinegar. Also add a pinch of salt.

Bring to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, until soft, with a relish taste.

Cool, and serve. Also, you can can it, but either without canning or once opened, you do need to refrigerate it.

The finished product: Sweet Red Bell Pepper Relish

Makes about 1.5 quarts.

By Mary Hodder at 07:22 AM | # | Comments (1)
March 01, 2009
Salmon, Garnet Yam, Multi-colored Cauliflower and Mushroom Sukiyaki

I made this last night for dinner. Sukiyaki is usually made with beef or just vegetables, but we had coho salmon, wanted some of Japanese flavor, and had four colors of cauliflower.

So.. I modified a recipe I found here for a Beef Sukiyaki. It's kind of bastardized by Japanese cooking standards but it tasted great, was low in fat and took about 20 minutes to make once i chopped up the veggies and sliced the salmon. I also substituted vermouth for the Mirin, which we ran out of and haven't replaced.

Salmon, Garnet Yam, multi-colored cauliflower and Mushroom Sukiyaki

* 1 1/2 cups low salt soy sauce
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 3 cups soup stock
* 3/4 cup mirin (rice wine) or dry vermouth
* 1 pound salmon fillet, skin and bones removed and thinly sliced
* 1 medium onion, sliced
* 3 green garlic stalks, sliced
* 10 crimini (brown) mushrooms sliced thinly
* 1 garnet yam , peeled and thinly sliced
* 1 cup sliced bamboo shoots
* 2 stalks celery, sliced
* 1 cup soaked, rinsed and sliced shiitakes
* 1 lb fresh thin Asian-style egg noodles
* 2 tablespoons oil
* 1/4 quarter each of four colors of cauliflower (orange, green, white and purple), or 1 whole small cauliflower cut into very small pieces

Directions

Mix soy sauce, sugar, stock, and mirin or vermouth together in a bowl. Arrange meat and vegetables on a large platter, in piles.

Add oil to the skillet and heat. Brown salmon in the oil. Move the meat to a plate, put half of the broth mixture in the skillet and add sliced yam. Cook until tender but still al dente, and with slotted spoon, remove to plate, keeping each ingredient in their own separate piles but placing large lid over the plate to keep it warm. Add green garlic, onion and mushrooms, cook until soft, and remove to plate. Add cauliflower, simmer until al dente. In the meantime, cook noodles in 2-3 quarts of water, without any salt, for just a minute, until al dente. Drain and put back into pan. Add the other half of soy mixture and cover. Prepare bowls, placing a serving of noodles into bowl, then little piles of each of the other types of ingredients, followed by a ladle of the hot broth from the cooking pan.

Serves 4.

By Mary Hodder at 08:05 AM | # | Comments (0)
February 28, 2009
Spinach and Mushroom Cannelloni

Last night I needed to make dinner for someone who'd just had their wisdom teeth out. They were doing fine, and were hungry, but needed very soft food (no chewing) for a couple of days. This is what I made. I didn't want to make traditional Cannelloni because that usually comes with a Béchamel sauce which is very fattening (lots of cream and butter). This dish is very low in fat, and still full of vegetables and good flavor.

Additionally everything in the dish below was made with organic ingredients (except the salt). I can do this at a reasonable cost because I shop at farmer's markets and the Berkeley Bowl, and Whole Foods. Whole Foods, surprisingly, has things in season from local farms at great prices. So I don't buy that much there, but what I can't buy at the Bowl, I will sometimes buy there.

One reason I like organic is because I want to support sustainable agriculture. And because the ingredients taste so much better. But more recently, studies are showing how much better organic foods are for you, because they have dramatically more vitamins and minerals, and dramatically less carbs.

Spinach and Mushroom Cannelloni

Spinach Mushroom Cannelloni

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have a 9x13 oven safe dish on hand.

.5 lb brown crimini mushrooms
1 med purple onion
2 garlic cloves
3 T EV olive oil
1/2 cup dry cooking sherry
salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop mushrooms, onion and mince the garlic. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil for about 3 minutes or until starts to be clear. Add mushrooms. saute until all mushrooms turn color and begin to have a bit of liquid. Add sherry, saute the mixture, stirring occasionally until all liquid is gone and then salt and pepper to taste.

Filling:
In a large bowl add the mushroom mixture to:
16 oz. ricotta (prefer low fat, but you can use whole or non as desired)
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg - that's about half a small nutmeg pod grated (or pregrated from jar if you don't have fresh)
3/4 cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil finely chopped
1 lb baby spinach (steamed, well drained and pressed of spinach water -- reserve that water for the sauce, and then finely chop)

Mix well, add a bit more pepper to taste, and check salt. Ricotta has salt already and I don't usually need to add any to this mixture.

Shells:
You can use dry cannelloni shells, by preparing by package directions: boil them, drain and separate or use non-precook types. You'll probably need about 18
OR use:
3 sheets of 9x13" fresh pasta, cut in half at 9" side, and equal thirds at 13" side to make 4.5 x 4.5 squares (approximately) - these sheets can be purchased at places like the Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods, or other specialty or pasta shops

Sauce:
2 - 15 oz cans of fire roasted chopped tomatoes (Muir Glen sells these)
10 large basil leaves, washed and torn in half
Any leftover spinach water from the chopped spinach above.
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend in blender until pureed, add salt and pepper to taste, blend again. It will look frothy and pink red. This is good.

-------------

Assembly:

Fresh pasta method:
Take 18 pasta squares of fresh pasta, lay out on clean counter, and divide filling equally in a straight line down the center of each square. Then pour 1/3 of tomato sauce into the bottom of dish, and gently shake dish sideways to evenly spread over the entire bottom of pan. Take the first square of pasta, with filling evenly through center, and wrap the shell around the pasta with a little overlap. Place it seam down into the sauce on the bottom of the pan, starting on one side. Follow by placing 9 in one row, and 9 in the other row across the pan (so that you have 9 on the top row length wise, and 9 on the bottom row). Pour the remaining 2/3 sauce evenly over the top so all pasta tubes are covered in sauce.

If desired sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan loosely over the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until there is a little bubbling at the edges and between the tubes.

Dry pasta method:
Scoop all the filling into a large ziplock bag or similar bag. Press all the filling to one corner, and then cut the corner making about a 3/4" hole out of your new piping device, and fill tubes. Put 1/3 the sauce on the bottom of the dish, spreading evenly. Place the filled tubes evenly across the bottom of the pan. Then pour the other 2/3 sauce across the top.

If desired sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan loosely over the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until there is a little bubbling at the edges and between the tubes.

Makes 6 entree servings or about 3 tubes per serving.

Note: I would suggest serving this with a salad, but for the person who couldn't chew, we just served these. There's certainly lots of spinach in them.

December 27, 2008
Crab Bisque

Last night I decided to make Crab Bisque, something I haven't made in years. Doing a quick search on Google produced a gazillion recipes for things made with cans of things blended to make something that to me didn't bode well for all the fresh crab we had in stock.

I did find this fabulous recipe from Yankee Magazine, which I modified by removing about 1/3 of the fat, and adding crab stock instead of using chicken stock and using a bit more of it. I also added a bit more vegetables and used fresh ginger and lemon peel. It turned out absolutely beautifully.

I started by cracking and pulling out all the crab meat, after which I made a stock with the crab shells and an onion, a few pepper corns and a couple of fresh parley stocks (leaves removed for another dish). Then, follow the directions below.

Creamy Crab Bisque

Makes 6 side or 3 main servings

* 1 pound fresh crabmeat
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 1 scant teaspoon shredded ginger
* 2 celery stocks finely minced
* 1/2 cup finely minced green onion
* 2 carrots finely minced
* 1-1/2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
* 1/4 cup flour
* 2 cups light stock (suggest taking an onion with crab bones .. simmering 30 minutes, for stock, or use chicken)
* 1-1/4 cups 1% milk (or 2% or whole)
* 2 pinches cayenne pepper
* 2 pinches ground nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* pinch of white pepper
* 1 lemon's worth of finely grated peel
* 3/4 cups light cream
* 1/4 cup dry sherry

Pick over the crabmeat for cartilage and return to the refrigerator. Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan. Add the ginger, celery, green onion, carrot and garlic. Cover and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Make sure ginger and garlic have mellowed before proceeding. Whisk in the flour. Gradually add the broth and milk, bringing the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly. Add the cayenne, nutmeg, salt, white pepper, lemon peel, cream, and sherry. Heat thoroughly. Stir in the crabmeat and cook until it is heated through. Do not boil. Serve immediately.

December 14, 2008
Chai

I felt like having Chai today, and these were the ingredients I had, verse say, what came in the recipes I saw online. Instead, I made up my own which I liked more than any Chai I've had in any shop or even homemade by others. None did the orange zest, and most had very limited ideas of Chai, like the one with just cinnamon and ginger.

Step 1: Boil 5 minutes, then steep for 10 minutes:

Chai, Step 1.

1 Tbsp fennel seed
1 Tbsp cardamom seeds
2 or 3 pieces star anise
10 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2" ginger root, sliced thin
1/2 tsp black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
1 orange or tangerine worth of zest
4 Cups water

Step 2: Add, bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes, then strain and save tea:

Chai, Step 2
2 Tbsp good Darjeeling tea

Step 3:
Whisk together, either via in microwave for 3 min, or on stove:

6 Tbsp honey
3 Cup 1% milk



Chai, Step 3


Step 4: Blend and serve in mugs.


Chai, Step 4

Serves 4 (about 6 cups).