Bowled Over

Meal bowls are an easy way to get dinner on the table in a jiffy. In my recent article on Zester Daily  I explore the topic and give some recipes using seasonal ingredients and tips on how to creatively repurpose leftovers into yummy bowls for every meal of the day.

IMG_1845

This savory yogurt bowl doubles as a fantastic dip with pita chips or crudités.

Advertisements

Festive last minute Thanksgiving desserts

If you’re not sure what to make for dessert tomorrow, check out my latest article on Zester Daily with recipes for delicious meal endings using seasonal ingredients:

http://zesterdaily.com/desserts-wrecipe/go-seasonal-4-refreshing-thanksgiving-desserts/

IMG_1343-2

The Workday Dinner Challenge II

This week I was preparing a favorite around my house, channa masala. It is vegan, quick to make and delicious with some fragrant basmati rice and store bought naan bread.

First you sauté some onion in oil. I added a tablespoon of minced jalapeño, kicking up the heat a little. Start a pot of rice now so it will be ready when the dish is finished.

P1030075

Then add a can of chickpeas and their liquid, some channa masala spice mix* and  vegetables of your choice. In the winter months I add cauliflower broken into small florets, in warm weather, summer squashes work well.

P1030077

After the liquid reduces a little stir in a chutney* – such as mixed fruit, mango or tamarind – then it’s all ready to go. Mix toasted almonds and raisins (about 1/4 c. each per 1 cup dry rice) to the basmati rice right before serving for crunch, sweetness and an exotic note.

P1030079

Top the channa masala with chopped tomato and spicy cilantro* or mango chutney and voila! A tasty dinner is on the table in 30 minutes without too much effort.

P1030084

* I like Sukhi’s brand of channa masala spice mix and chutneys and Trader Joe’s organic basmati rice and garlic naan from their freezer section.

 

CHANNA MASALA

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon jalapeño, minced (optional)

1- 15oz can chickpeas or 2 cups cooked chickpeas with 1/3 cup cooking liquid

1 cup summer squash, cut in medium dice

2 tablespoons channa masala spice mix*

2 tablespoons tamarind or fruit chutney*

2 tomatoes, cut in strips

 

1. Heat oil in a 10 inch frying pan until shimmering.

2. Add onion and jalapeño and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes

3. Add peas and liquid and summer squash and simmer over medium low heat until liquid has reduced by 1/4 and vegetables are tender.

4. Stir in chutney.

5. Serve the channa masala on a bed of hot basmati rice, top each serving with the tomato strips and cilantro chutney.

Yield: 4 servings

 

 

A Mouthful of Sunshine

In walking through the San Rafael Farmers Market one recent Sunday, I was captivated by the overwhelming variety of honey carried at the Marshall Farm stall.

P1020966

 

P1020970

After tasting several types, I settled on a jar of flowery orange blossom, which tasted like eating a warm, sweet ray of sunshine.

Returning home with my bounty, I turned to the book “At Taste of Honey” by Marie Simmons for inspiration. One of the most comprehensive tomes on the subject, Simmons has left no stone unturned in her quest for information on bees and honey. She gives special attention to the different varieties of honey, covering 40 types, and shares pairing notes for cheeses, which drew my attention since another item in my market basket was a large wedge of Pt. Reyes Farmstead’s Bay Blue. The partnership of blue cheese and honey is an uncanny one where the sum definitely exceeds the parts. I had the chance to ask Simmons about this.:

“The salt profile in the cheese perfectly balances the sweet notes in the honey. But layered on salt are the complex deep floral, caramel, mushroomy (umami) spice and a plethora of other flavors that pop up in honey. One important element is to seek out a varietal honey with robust flavor notes that will stand up to the big tastes in the aged (saltier like a Pecorino, Parmigiano, aged goat, blue veined etc.) cheese. My cheese honey epiphany occurred years ago on a trip through northern Italy when I was served a sliver of oozing gorgonzola dolce with a drizzle of chestnut honey and a couple of toasted walnuts on the side. To this day that is the benchmark for a perfect pairing of cheese and honey. Chestnut honey can be very tannic (typical of many tree blossom honey). It is almost bitter and not to everyone’s liking but with the right pairing it can be amazing. To this day 30 years later I keep a bottle of Italian chestnut honey (I have sourced it in CA as well) in my “honey library” for when I come across a perfect gorgonzola dolce”, she said.

With that in mind, I pulled the first fresh apricots of the season from my basket. Following Simmons’ advice and thoughts on what inspired “A Taste of Honey”, I stuffed the apricot halves with a hunk of the blue and wrapped each half with a strip of prosciutto, then finished the dish with a drizzle of honey, glazing the cheese, apricots and prosciutto before popping them in the oven to roast.

P1030017

“As a cook, exploring honey used in savory dishes has been most exciting. Ever try finishing a stir fry with a swirl of honey? It tempers the heat of the ginger and pepper and the salt of the soy and compliments the garlic. Gives the entire dish a lovely sheen. Honey balances the acid in a dish as in tomatoes. Try a drizzle on a salad dressed with a bold vinaigrette,” Simmons added.

So while the apricots were roasting, I threw together some fresh salad greens and made a dressing mellowed with more of the honey. The finished dish hit all the right notes with the salt from the cheese and the sweetness of the honey tap dancing on my palate with the tartness of the apricot and the porky, crispy prosciutto. The salad was the perfect backdrop with a zippy balsamic dressing tamed by the addition of honey.

P1030020

HONEY ROASTED APRICOTS STUFFED WITH BLUE CHEESE ON SPRING GREENS

Apricots:

3 fresh apricots, halved and pitted

6 walnut-sized nuggets of Bay Blue, or your favorite, semi-firm blue cheese

2 thin slices of Prosciutto di Parma, each cut lengthwise in 3– 1/2″ strips

1 tablespoon robust honey – I used orange blossom but something darker might compliment better – such as wildflower or avocado

Preheat oven to 400. Stuff each apricot cavity with a cheese nugget then wrap a prosciutto strip around the apricot. Place in a 8″ baking dish. Dab 1/2 teaspoon of honey on the cheese, top of the apricot and the prosciutto. Roast in the oven 5-7 minutes until chess is melty, prosciutto is crisped and apricot is jammy. Set aside to cool slightly.

Salad and dressing:

4 hefty handfuls of washed spring greens, spun dry

1/2 teaspoon of orange blossom or wildflower honey

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Place salad greens in a medium mixing bowl. In a small bowl, mix the honey and vinegar together then gradually drizzle in the oil until a smooth dressing forms. season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the greens with the dressing.

Assembly

Arrange dressed greens on a platter and place apricot halves decoratively on top. Serve immediately.

Yield: 3-4 salads

 

LOTS OF STEEL CUT OATS

Image

I have this stockpile of steel cut oats from my winter cereal habit and started experimenting in the kitchen with ways to use them up. One idea was a granola to eat with Greek yogurt for breakfast modeled on a recipe from my childhood that my family used to make. Called “Crunchy Granola”, it included a lot of seeds and some peanuts and I remember the house smelled delicious while it was baking in the oven. The recipe I came up with is super easy to put together and makes about 6 cups, enough for a week’s worth of breakfast.

COCONUT ALMOND GRANOLA

1 cup steel cut oats

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup each almond oil and maple syrup

1/2 cup each raisins and dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350. Combine oats, seeds, nuts, coconut and salt in a large bowl. Stir in vanilla, oil and syrup until the dry ingredients are moistened by the wet and all the pieces are evenly distributed. Spread onto a sheet tray and bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring at 10 minute intervals, until granola is golden and toasty. Stir in raisins and dried cherries and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Image

 

 

LOVE LETTER TO ARTISAN BREAD

Read my recent articles on wood oven baked bread from Northern California with recipes to help use up the loaf – after you get sick of slathering it with butter and wolfing it down, of course!

Image

Brickmaiden Bread in Point Reyes Station:  http://zesterdaily.com/?p=40297

P1020807 P1020841 P1020814